Archive for category Governor 2014
John Hickenlooper likes to affect an aw-shucks demeanor, although there are times when his body language reminds me more of the Trivago Guy than a governor. It’s disarming, and plays into his general image as a regular guy, and reinforces people’s impression that he’s a centrist. True or false, that impression is one of his greatest political assets.
Unfortunately, Hickenlooper has a bit of a touchy streak when he’s treated like the politician that he is, and has been for over a decade. That touchiness seems to have trickled down into his campaign. Earlier this year, one of his staffers threatened to have Watchdog.org reporter Arthur Kane arrested when he showed up at a campaign office seeking income tax records that had been released to other media outlets.
And earlier this week, a campaign supporters pushed, blocked, and stalked Ellie Reynolds, a tracker for Revealing Politics. As can be seen in the video below, one of Hickenlooper’s campaign workers, identified as Political Organizer Preston Dickey, follows Reynolds to a nearby coffee shop and then to her car:
Hickenlooper can be seen standing literally a few feet away, either oblivious to or passively approving of the behavior of his supporters. And here I thought we weren’t supposed to push girls around.
These are not isolated incidents. In March of 2013, Evan Ebel, out on parole, shot and killed Tom Clements, head of the Colorado Department of Corrections. Hickenlooper was obviously deeply affected by the killing. It turned out that Jack Ebel, Evan’s father, was a contributor to Hickenlooper’s campaign. There is absolutely no reason to believe there was any connection between that fact and Evan Ebel’s parole. Nevertheless, Hickenlooper got testy with 9News reporter Brandon Rittiman when Rittiman asked him about it on camera. It’s unpleasant, to say the least, but it’s what reporters do, and Rittiman all but apologized for having to ask the question as part of his job.
I’ve had my own experience with Hickenlooper’s wrath. After I recorded him admitting that Amendment 66 money could go to PERA, I have it on excellent authority that he blew his stack and took it out on a lobbyist who was unconnected to the incident.
The world is full of politicians who have tempers, and some of them can be very effective with them. Lyndon Johnson was known to lose his cool – sometimes even for real, not just for effect – but generally had his way with a friendly Congress. Any number of big city mayors know how to put on a show behind closed doors. Knowing how and when to intimidate enemies and even friends is a valuable tool in an executive’s toolbox. But that generally happens away from the cameras. It isn’t done in public, and it sure doesn’t trickle down to how staffers treat the public.
One of the leading candidates for the Republican nomination to unseat sitting Governor John Hickenlooper is Secretary of State Scott Gessler. Gessler has been a solid conservative, and has taken his share of arrows from Colorado’s progressive left for his insistence on ballot integrity and his resistance to the HB1013, the Democrat Weaponization of Voter Fraud Act of 2013.
This isn’t a post with an extended analysis of the governor’s race, but I did want to mention a couple of interesting items that haven’t gotten the play that I think they should have, mostly because they’re good stories.
First, Gessler essentially suspended much of his field operation (calls for contributions presumably went on as usual) in order to redeploy his staff on behalf of the Douglas County School Board reform candidates. Those were important races not just for Douglas County, but also with state and national implications. The unions essentially tossed everything they had into those races, reducing support to their Denver and Jefferson County candidates. They were gambling that even if they lost there, a win in DougCo would send a warning message to other school boards. They lost that gamble, in part because of the field support that Gessler gave them.
This is called, “leadership.” To be sure, it wasn’t entirely selfless. The information and visibility gained in a Republican-dense county will be helpful in both primary and general election campaigns. But showing up for a fight that nobody would blame you for sitting out builds loyalty, and shows a willingness to sacrifice for the team. In 1966, Richard Nixon campaigned all over the US for Republican Congressional candidates, all of whom won, and all of whom remembered it in 1968. That Gessler was willing to do the same speaks well of him. To the extent that there’s a concern here, it’s that he hasn’t done a better job of publicizing this story.
That actually could be a serious concern, since one of Gessler’s potential picks for Lieutenant Governor, State Rep. Calrice Navarro-Ratzlaff of Pueblo, is seen by many as more moderate than Gessler. Now, that would be, in my mind, a silly reason not to support Scott. Lt. Governors operate at the behest of the Governor. And as this chart shows, in Colorado, that post is a launching pad to obscurity. You have to go back to the 2nd Eisenhower Administration to find a Lt. Governor who was later elected to a significant statewide position in his own right. This isn’t Reagan positioning Bush as his successor.
As a district captain, I have to retain strict neutrality when it comes to primary races, but that doesn’t preclude me from writing about interesting and informative aspects of the race.