Election weakens Colorado Dems

"Ritter’s big loss on the severance tax further weakens him for reelection. says John Andrews in the November round of Head On TV debates, adding that Dems got dinged in some legislative races too. Susan Barnes-Gelt deplores the severance defeat and the impact of term limits on her party. John on the right, Susan on the left, also go at it this month over the US Senate and House results, the outlook for Obama's presidency, and early odds for 2012. Head On has been a daily feature on Colorado Public Television since 1997. Here are all five scripts for November: 1. BALLOT ISSUES BITE RITTER

John: Voters functioned as Dr. No when it came to this year’s ballot issues. They turned down all three tax increases, 51, 58, and 59, rejected the attack on petition rights under Referendum O, and defeated several conservative proposals. Ritter’s big loss on the severance tax further weakens him for reelection.

Susan: Though I don't agree with all the results, Colorado voters took an unprecedented number of ballot initiatives seriously, wisely rejecting wing-nut proposals, but unfortunately - failing to untangle the TABOR knot or charge energy companies for the riches they extract from our land.

John: Labor-union power grabs have destabilized our state for the past two years, and may continue for the next two. This is a big headache for Ritter and the business community, who were held for ransom by unions over seven dueling ballot issues. Paying extortion to stop an initiative should be illegal.

Susan: Ritter's naive missteps with public employee unions ignited over-reaction at both extremes. The political and business communities ought to refocus attention on larger concerns: the stumbling economy, failing public education and crumbling infrastructure. Wedge issues are a worthless distraction from what people care about.


Susan: Dems lost a couple of state House seats - unfortunately including Bernie Buescher. State lawmakers are going to be hard pressed to address a sour economy, no money for higher ed and transportation and the retirement of serious brain power - namely Speaker Andrew Romanoff.

John: Lost in all the talk of blue state, red state is the striking fact that Ritter and Romanoff’s majority party suffered erosion of their legislative dominance in this election, along with stinging defeats on their tax and spend ballot issues. Share the wealth doesn’t seem to sit well with Colorado voters.

Susan: Hardly an erosion - in fact the D's gained senate seats. The challenge will be to set a reasoned course absent experienced legislative leadership. Term limits have taken a sorry toll on both sides of the aisle and Coloradans are paying a penalty for inexperience at the statehouse.

John: Term limits sharpen competition between the parties, which is good. This year they moved rising stars into leadership – Josh Penry for Senate Minority Leader and Terrance Carroll for Speaker of the House. Appropriately for the Age of Obama, Carroll is the first black to hold that job.


John: Congratulations to President-elect Barack Obama. The Democrats campaigned brilliantly and deserved to win. My party deserved to lose. McCain fought hard, but economic fears and Bush fatigue plus his own mistakes sealed the outcome. Republicans patriotically wish Obama well, for America’s sake. But we’ll oppose him when he’s wrong.

Susan: The past 6 months have felt like the spin cycle of my washing machine! With Obama's overwhelming mandate - the largest popular vote ever! The country must heal wounds resulting from nearly 2 decades of divisiveness. Our smart, disciplined, young president-elect has his work cut out.

John: If you think the Age of Obama means the end of political divisiveness, I have some mortgage-backed securities to sell you. Iran, Iraq, and Afghanistan will soon test the young president and stir up the left. Tax increases will polarize the right. And Senate Republicans can still use the filibuster.

Susan: Polarized politics and extreme ideology got us into this mess. Obama will be challenged to maintain a keen focus on what really matters: a thriving economy, energy independence and investments in innovation and education. America's position in the world is already enhanced and that will serve us well.


Susan: With Betsy's Markey's win in the 4th CD and Mark Udall's victory in the Senate race, Colorado has gone from a red state to purple to bright blue. Republican party dominance's been in decline since 2004 and now - registration is dead even. The message is clear: Country First.

John: Susan, I’m so grateful to live in a competitive open system where one party constantly checks the excesses or failings of the other. My Republicans lost touch with the people both in Colorado and nationally. Democrats took advantage in past elections and again this time. Now they have to deliver.

Susan: Our democracy depends on a strong two-party system. Republicans must return to their roots: prudent policy, government restraint and innovative ideas. There will be a number of red state Dems in the new Congress. They will be vulnerable if the party veers too far left.

John: Based on past performance by Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid, together with the European welfare state envisioned by Obama, make that when the party veers left, not if. Rebuilding and rethinking by the GOP is already underway. I expect 2010 to be a good year for Republican gains in Congress.


Susan: Aside from the obvious victors, other winners and losers emerged from this year's election. Sarah Palin, along with Mike Huckabee emerge as the rising stars of your party, John. Sean Hannity, Bill O'Reilly and Fox News - big losers. Their negative vitriol backfired with voters choosing optimism over anger.

John: Ken Salazar may have won a seat in Obama’s cabinet. Facebook, Myspace, and Youtube won the political technology sweepstakes. Rudy Giuliani lost 59 million dollars and a lot of face while winning only one delegate. Joe Biden lost big in the primaries but will now be a heartbeat from the presidency.

Susan: If Salazar goes to the cabinet - Ritter will have an appointment that could result in a domino effect. If he picks Hickenlooper - we'll see chaos at City Hall with no heir apparent. Talk about winners and losers! Biggest winner - the youth of America. They really stepped up!

John: Hillary and Bill lost big. Their next chance is Chelsea, unless Hillary goes after Obama in 2012, Teddy Kennedy style. Bobby Jindal and Tim Pawlenty won their ticket to the 2012 primaries. Rove and Gingrich slipped to the status of talking heads, but their network, Fox, is stronger than ever.