How much would you spend out of your own pocket to get hired to a job that pays $90,000 per year? How much would you borrow? How about asking friends to donate? Well, the eight men and women running to succeed John Hickenlooper as Colorado’s next governor are spending quite a lot, often from their own pockets, for a job that pays south of six figures, and which finds roughly half of the people mad at you at any given moment.
Maybe it is time to reform the political party nominating process in Colorado. The double-barreled system currently in use – which involves both a political party state assembly and candidates petitioning on to the ballot – is complicated and confusing for the average voter to understand and favors rich and well-financed candidates over those with less money to spend.
Colorado Republicans enjoyed a bright, shining moment following the 2010 statewide election, winning control of the Colorado House of Representatives — the proverbial "peoples" chamber in the legislature — and handing the gavel to then-state Rep. Frank McNulty.
For once, Dick Wadhams had a wound that wasn't inflicted by his adversaries. The legendary Republican political strategist, two-time Colorado GOP state chair, decades-long veteran of campaign combat and, when needed, bare-knuckled brawler was taking his usual walk along a lake near his house the other day when he slipped on some ice. He fell and broke his arm.
Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is getting into Colorado politics in a big way. He is expected to make a $1 million donation to an independent expenditure campaign supporting Democrat Mike Johnston.
As reported by Chalkbeat Colorado and other media this week, the Colorado Supreme Court on Monday upheld a much-debated 2010 state law that lets school districts place veteran teachers on unpaid leave if they are underperforming. Meaning, tenure won’t shield teachers from dismissal.
The ruling drew accolades from education reformers, including Democratic gubernatorial candidate Michael Johnston, who as a state senator had sponsored the law when it was still a bill in the legislature.
As expected, the state’s largest teachers union, the Colorado Education Association, denounced the ruling — tenure being a cornerstone of collective bargaining agreements. (The union’s attorneys had represented the plaintiffs in the suit that led to the court decision.)
The face-off between those two takes on the subject has riven the Democratic Party for years. Following Monday’s ruling, it spilled over onto the pages of Colorado’s unofficial Democratic barometer, Colorado Pols.
The blog took note of the development — and zeroed in on Johnston’s praise of the court action as well as the fact his position was in sync with that of the conservative Republican education-reform group Ready Colorado. (For the record, the longtime liberal advocacy shop Colorado Children’s Campaign also welcomed the ruling.)
That prompted a flurry of comments posted by readers who heaped scorn on Johnston — and in some cases questioned whether he belonged in the Democratic Party:
“He and Lebsock…”? Ouch.
Johnston — a onetime teacher who has proven to be a champion fund-raiser so far in the governor’s race — did draw some support:
One alert contributor to the comment thread pointed out Johnston isn’t alone on the campaign trail in his support of the state law that was reaffirmed Monday: Rival Democratic gubernatorial contender and 2nd Congressional District U.S. Rep. Jared Polis also embraced the policy. Polis, an education reformer and charter school champion in his own right, reiterated his support for the law in an op-ed he penned for Politico in 2013.
Once again, the Republican establishment said “no” and Tom Tancredo surrendered to the reality of having no source of funding for his third campaign for governor. Tancredo’s decision to run always lacked believability beyond a primary challenge. It appeared mostly as a revenge tour for being denied the gubernatorial nomination in 2014.
Both major parties have what might be called an embarrassment of riches when it comes to candidates running to replace John Hickenlooper as Colorado’s next governor. Some are rich, some are embarrassments (your own partisanship can decide which is which), but there appears to be quality candidates on both sides.
Active independent expenditure committees, aka political action committees (PACs), currently number 61 registered at the Colorado Secretary of State’s Office. These committees collect money to support candidates. The sources of the funds are undeclared, so only the total amount of donations shows in Secretary of State's Office forms. These PACS do not coordinate with candidates.