Early Notes on the Race for Governor
by Ari Armstrong, January 26, 2006
Apparently John Hickenlooper is still considering a run for governor, M.E. Sprengelmeyer writes for today's Rocky Mountain News. Obviously Hickenlooper would pull huge numbers in the Denver area -- and perform miserably in most of the rest of the state.
Hickenlooper was a major supporter of Referendum C. As I've pointed out, "When the numbers for Denver and Boulder counties are subtracted from the totals, Referendum C fails in the rest of the state."
In the Mayor's race, ideology wasn't really a factor. It will be a huge factor in a state-wide election. Issues that don't hurt Hickenlooper in Denver -- abortion, gay rights, immigration, guns, taxes -- will kill his numbers in rural Colorado. And he may find out, as Pete Coors did, that voters aren't especially impressed by a business background manufacturing the drug alcohol, even though I consider it a minor plus.
Sprengelmeyer writes, "A reporter asked if he would expect ads targeting him because of a controversy last year involving Raul Garcia-Gomez, an illegal immigrant accused of killing a Denver police officer. Hickenlooper co-owns a restaurant, the Cherry Cricket, that employed Garcia-Gomez as a dishwasher before he became the subject of an international manhunt and a now-resolved extradition case in his native Mexico."
Even though I've warned against scapegoating immigrants, the issue is sure to hurt Hickenlooper -- especially with Dick Lamm's anti-immigration initiative on the ballot.
There are some things to like about Hickenlooper. He has a background in business, and he lamented the "fundamental nonsense of government." He'll probably not be much of a prohibitionist. But that's not much in his favor.
My sense is that Bob Beauprez has the best chance to win the election. As the former leader of the state Republican Party, he has the establishment behind him. As a Congressman, he has credentials.
Of course, I'm not a big fan of Beauprez. I will never forgive him for siding with Sane Alternatives to the Firearms Epidemic, the name of which likened gun ownership to a disease. And Beauprez has loudly bragged about his pork-barrel spending.
The best thing that can be said about Beauprez and his opponent Marc Holtzman is that they opposed Referendum C.
The following part of Holtzman's biography is positively inspiring: "In the late 1980s, with the winds of change blowing across the Eastern Bloc, Marc departed for Eastern Europe to help the formerly enslaved nations of the Warsaw Pact make the transition from communism to free market economies. Marc launched a venture capital firm, dedicated to helping first-generation entrepreneurs in formerly communist countries lead themselves out of the blight of poverty and despair that was the legacy of more than four decades of socialism. In the coming years, Marc's small firm grew to become an employer of 75 people in 6 different countries. In a region only recently freed from the heavy hand of communism, Marc brought much-needed capital to fuel newly blossoming small businesses."
Holtzman's free-market rhetoric appealed to me. However, as his "record of achievement" also points out, "Following his election in 1998, Governor Owens appointed Marc as Colorado's first Secretary of Technology. As Secretary, Marc is widely credited with having guided Colorado's evolution into a fully diversified technology hub. Under Marc's leadership, tens of thousands of jobs were created..." So he's bragging about being a central planner? If this is the best the free-market wing of the Republican Party has to offer, we're in deep trouble.
Rabel-rouser Holtzman mostly takes soft positions on the issues. He thinks "100% of our students [should] earn college acceptance." Give me a break. He opposes amnesty for illegal immigrants, but he's silent on the matter of guest workers. He opposes gay marriage, abortion, and "the expansion of gambling." So he's a social conservative. He talks of "free-market" reforms for health care, but he doesn't offer any specifics.
The media don't like Holtzman (whereas they love Hickenlooper). If it's a Holtzman-Hickenlooper race, expect the media to launch a relentless love-fest campaign for Hickenlooper and a vicious smear campaign against Holtzman.
According to Stuart Steers's January 21 article for the Rocky Mountain News, "Holtzman said Hickenlooper leads an administration with a 'secular, godless undertone'..." Talk about appeasing the religious conservatives. Does that mean that Holtzman plans to run an administration that pushes religion?
If Hickenlooper runs, the Democrats have a chance of winning the race simply by pulling huge numbers in the Denver area. But Hickenlooper will do so poorly outside of Denver that I don't think he can win. Any Democrat might have a chance if Holtzman and Beauprez destroy each other in the primary. If Hickenlooper enters the race, Bill Ritter will simply disappear.
Ritter has a reputation -- well-deserved as far as I can tell -- for honesty and hard work. As a District Attorney, Ritter has a law-and-order background, yet he has a little softer touch on drug policy. Ritter's anti-abortion stance will alienate his own base and offer him no advantage against the Republicans.
Ritter has several strikes against him. In 2002 he fought against forfeiture reform (see articles one, two, and thee.) He issued a questionable search warrant of a book store. And he is no friend of gun owners.As his "issues" paper makes clear, he's a typical tax-and-spend, central-planning Democrat. Thus, he brings together anti-market leftism with social-conservative rightism. Just great.
The only really good news is that the choice among the worst of four evils will soon be limited to two, and eventually three of the four will be put out of politics.