Unite Colorado unaffiliated candidates blast DC dysfunction, compare shutdown to failed special session
Author: Ernest Luning - January 20, 2018 - Updated: January 20, 2018
The four unaffiliated statehouse candidates running under the Unite Colorado banner — that’s the organization that used to be known as the Centrist Project — declared a pox on both major parties’ houses after the federal government ran out of money late Friday night when Congress failed to approve spending legislation.
In separate releases, all four also compared the impasse to the Colorado General Assembly’s fruitless special session called by Gov. John Hickenlooper last fall to fix a drafting error that has been costing certain special districts around the state millions of dollars in tax revenue on marijuana sales.
“This is embarrassing and a prime example of the gridlock and dysfunction in both Denver and in Washington D.C. The parties are far more interested in blaming each other than actually passing a budget.” said Senate District 30 candidate Steve Peterson, a Roxborough Park management consultant. “We need a common-sense independent to put solutions and ideas above ideology.”
House District 33 candidate Jay Geyer, an Army veteran and ethics instructor at the University of Colorado in Boulder, tore into lawmakers in both capital cities.
“Instead of placing the interests of their communities first, too many of our elected officials in Denver and Washington, D.C., are cynically manipulating these completely avoidable crises to score political points,” he said.
The federal government shutdown went into effect after the Senate defeated a short-term funding measure passed the night before by the House, with most of the upper chamber’s Democrats and a handful of Republicans voting against it. Democrats and a couple of GOP senators demanded the bill include protection for so-called Dreamers, young immigrants brought to the country illegally as children — a friction point since last fall when President Donald Trump cancelled an Obama-era program known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA.
The parties were quick to blame each other: Democrats pin responsibility for the shutdown on Republicans, who control Congress and the White House, while Republicans accuse Democrats of engaging in the same sort of brinksmanship their own party did several years ago when the GOP forced a government shutdown over efforts to kill the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare.
It’s a crisis that’s been described as a slow-motion train wreck, and it’s tailor-made for Unite Colorado’s message that the two parties have bollixed things to such an extent that only unaffiliated lawmakers can fix things.
“Our elected officials are acting like irresponsible children, failing constantly in governing the greatest nation in the world,” said Colorado Springs financial advisor Maile Foster, a candidate in House District 18. “I want to bring responsible adult conversations to governance in Colorado and the U.S. government. I am sick and tired of selfish childlike adults running the government. And I am furious that congressional members will continue to get paid while their constituents won’t.”
Thornton City Councilman Eric Montoya, a funeral director and candidate in House District 31, said he was “mad as hell” that Congress proved unable to pass legislation to keep the government funded for the next month, as the House bill had proposed, “much less pass a long-term budget.”
Congress has been enacting a series of continuing resolutions to fund the federal government a brief stretch at a time since Oct. 1, with the last one going into effect just before the end of the year after lawmakers passed massive legislation to rewrite the nation’s tax code.
Montoya called on lawmakers to pass a budget immediately or go without pay, just like some federal employees might have to if the shutdown drags on.
He also used the occasion to pitch the Unite Colorado organization’s contention that unaffiliated lawmakers can force both parties from their corners and impose a more solution-oriented attitude at the Capitol.
“Continuing to waste your vote on a Republican or a Democrat while expecting anything other than gridlock, dysfunction and a pompous attitude is the definition of insanity,” he said. “The answer to our problems is clear — we need a common-sense independent in the state House who will stand up to the parties, put Adams County first and get things done.”
Unite Colorado says the group plans to back as many as five additional unaffiliated legislative candidates this year and spend around $1 million supporting its slate.
Peterson is running against Senate Majority Leader Chris Holbert, a Parker Republican. Geyer is challenging state Rep. Matt Grey, a Broomfield Democrat. Foster and Montoya are running for open seats.