Election 2010

Backbone Voter Guide 2010

My thanks to a number of fellow conservatives who have called or emailed to ask how I'm voting on this year's candidates, judges, and ballot issues. I am honored by your interest in my perspective. The 2010 ballot is a tougher one than usual for me, because of the train wreck in our race for governor and because of three taxpayer initiatives where the effect doesn't measure up to the intent. That said, here's the rundown: * On candidates, as in every election since coming of age in 1966, I will vote an almost-straight Republican ticket. The state and nation need GOP leadership to put the brakes on runaway government right now, even if my party hasn't fully learned its lesson from the mistakes of prior years.

* On judges, also in keeping with my custom of many years, I will politely vote no on retaining all of them. Supreme Court justices Bender, Rice, and Martinez have played loose with the constitution and richly deserve firing. On the lower courts, even the responsible judges need a reminder that their irresponsible colleagues have discredited the entire judiciary with much of the public.

* On the ballot issues, I will vote yes on all but 102, which is a dishonest money-play by the bail bond companies. I strongly support the pro-life impact of 62 and the pushback against Obamacare in 63. On 60, 61, and 101, the tax measures, I concede that if enacted, their poor drafting would make for poor public policy -- but as they won't possibly pass, my vote becomes a protest message to the anti-TABOR forces with their persistent disregard for Colorado's fiscal future.

* For governor, with regret, I will cast no vote this year. Character, competence, conservative principles, and continuity of institutions -- the four-part test I impose for Colorado's chief executive -- isn't nearly met by any of the major candidates: Republican Dan Maes, Democrat John Hickenlooper, or independent Tom Tancredo. This is not personal, and I respect those who reach a different conclusion. But it grieves me to see the inflamed emotions and rule-or-ruin frenzy this race has aroused. A neighbor recently told me the state faces "hell" if her man doesn't win. How childish. Thank goodness this will soon be over and our polity (my party in particular) can calm down and start to heal.

* My further views on the governor's race are in the Timely & Relevant section, home page top left on this website, and in an Oct. 10 column for the Denver Post. Excellent arguments for and against the three tax measures by Fred Holden (pro) and Mark Hillman (con) are on the Centennial Institute blog.

* As stated at the outset, it's no fun to feel so torn on important decisions such as these. I take comfort in the maxim of John Evans, a fellow state senator, who used to say, "Some of my friends are in favor, and some of my friends are opposed, and as for me -- I'm with my friends."

* Thank you again for asking about my approach in this (as usual) "most important election of our lifetime." And thank you for taking seriously our right and responsibility of self-government. Only by our stewardship (and God's grace) will America remain the last best hope of earth.

Pro-union McClellan wrong for Arapahoe

The blunder of the decade in Colorado government was Bill Ritter’s edict to unionize all state employees. Why on earth would his fellow Democrat, Rebecca McClellan, consider the same idea for all county employees as she runs for Arapahoe County Commissioner? Maybe it has something to do with all the contributions she’s quietly taken from union organizations – some out of state – for several election cycles now. That, and McClellan’s glaring lack of business experience or business support. She simply has no context for understanding how to run a productive payroll or how to foster economic growth.

What a contrast with Mayor Nancy Sharpe – an experienced businesswoman, proven executive, and the only candidate talking about jobs. No wonder McClellan is full of phony indignation about Sharpe’s donations from developers. She has to distract voters from the unflattering matchup of pro-union liberal vs. pro-jobs conservative at a time when most of us in Arapahoe County are tired of the recession and looking for leaner government.

Mayor Sharpe has been endorsed by every member of the city council that serves with her – Democrats and Republicans alike. These are her colleagues who know her best, and they support her even across party lines. Four past county commissioners here in District 2 have also endorsed Nancy, as have the founders of the City of Centennial, the South Metro Denver Realtors Association, and the Home Builders Association.

That’s easy to understand, because her conservative credentials are strong. In the private sector, Sharpe oversaw multi-million dollar budgets and a hundred employees. As Mayor, she ELIMINATED ALL CITY DEBT, created a rainy day fund, and REDUCED SPENDING while maintaining service levels -- all without raising taxes. Few other elected leaders have comparable bragging rights these days.

McClellan, lacking much of a record and weak on the issues, has based her campaign on attacking Sharpe’s character and frightening the voters about transportation. That’s not credible because, after all, it was Nancy Sharpe who led the effort to secure $4 million for current improvements to I-25/Arapahoe to reduce congestion and help KEEP CARS OUT OF NEIGHBORHOODS. I’ve wasted too much time, as you probably have, in the slow crawl on Arapahoe Road, so it’s to see this work finally occurring.

Poor Rebecca is flailing. Her alarmist rhetoric, liberties with the truth, and melodramatic “emergency meetings” have community leaders shaking their heads. I’m concerned that her tactics could poison the whole issue and threaten any future improvements to the intersection – just around the corner from where I’ve lived since 1974.

That offends me, and it offends McClellan’s colleague in Centennial government, Mayor Pro Tem Ron Weidmann. “Don’t believe the personal attacks, misinformation, and mudslinging by Sharpe’s Democratic opponent about the redevelopment of I-25 and Arapahoe,” he warns. “It’s all created as a political tool to further her career.”

Jim Dyer, who is retiring as commissioner in District 2, told me that based on his firsthand knowledge of both contenders, “Nancy Sharpe is the candidate you can trust to bring real solutions and not play politics with the facts. She’s the one who secured those millions from T-REX for widening the Arapahoe interchange.”

So we have one candidate who brings real solutions and the other who simply cries wolf. In the faceoff between Sharpe the conciliator, conservative and pro-jobs, and McClellan the divisive pro-union liberal, I choose Steady Nancy.

Scotch verdict on McInnis-Maes

What is called in the law a Scotch verdict, an agnostic shrug of "not proved," is my sad and reluctant conclusion about next week's Republican primary for Governor of Colorado. At present I cannot support either of the two candidates.

I was intrigued with the businessman-outsider persona of dark horse Dan Maes, and went so far as to float the case for him in my Denver Post column last Sunday, posted below left as "Maes and the Medicine." But as the evidence mounts, I deem the case very insufficient.

Dan Maes is not ready for prime time and seemingly not who he has claimed to be.

Scott McInnis has seen too much prime time, and Colorado is not ready for who we know him to be.

Which is regrettable for two public-spirited Coloradans, fundamentally decent men with devoted families -- and even more regrettable for our state, which so urgently needs the limited-government leadership a qualified Republican could provide right now.

Where does this leave us on the morning of August 11 when one of these two is officially the GOP nominee? Attractive and viable options are slim to none.

A ticket-replacement maneuver is imaginable but unlikely. A plurality victory for Constitution candidate Tom Tancredo is also unlikely; Tom is my friend but won't get my vote.

Are we looking at a handshake from outgoing Gov. Bill Ritter to incoming Gov. John Hickenlooper next January, Democrats retaining power against all odds after botching things so badly the past four years? What a pity if it comes to that.

Colorado Spine: His or Mine?

Well, well. So my former legislative colleague and adversary Andrew Romanoff now styles himself a man of "backbone" in the Democratic Senate primary against Michael Bennet. Interesting since for upwards of 15 years, as Lynn Bartels noted in a Denver Post blog, yours truly has been using the imaginary town of Backbone Colorado USA to symbolize the qualities Americans must uphold if our country is to survive. Given that Andrew, the liberal Democrat, and Andrews, the conservative Republican, agree on little besides our love for the Broncos, one of us must be dealing wooden nickels. Which is it?

Is backbone more truly expressed in the self-reliance, self-restraint, and self-assertiveness that built this free society, and in the rock-ribbed original Constitution that guards our liberties -- or in the manipulation and government dependency exemplified in Romanoff's approach to such issues as health care and energy, facilitated by an invertebrate Constitution easily bent by imperial judges?

I'd love to debate the brainy and likable Romo about this, but he is no doubt busy with other things until the primary in August; perhaps all the way to November; and just possibly for six years of a Senate term after that. As to the latter, I hope not. The wishbone he mistakenly calls spine is already far too prevalent in Washington, DC.

Sign the Mount Vernon Statement

By John Andrews "We recommit ourselves to the ideas of the American Founding. Through the Constitution, the Founders created an enduring framework of limited government based on the rule of law." So begins the Mount Vernon Statement, an important and timely declaration of principles issued on Feb. 17 by the heads of 16 major conservative organizations. Originating with intellectual leaders on the Right, rather than elected officials and candidates, the statement sets a baseline for thinking patriots in weighing the claims we'll hear from politicians as this 2010 year of decision moves toward election day. If Republicans bring out a new version of the 1994 Contract with America in their hopes for a November sweep against Obama and the Democrats, its worthiness can be measured against this declaration.

The full text is below, taken from their website at TheMountVernonDeclaration.com. By clicking to that site you can also add your name as a signer of the declaration, which I have proudly done.

This manifesto is a worthy descendant from Bill Buckley's famous Sharon Statement of half a century ago, as Greg Schaller points out at '76 Blog. The Sharon Statement and YAF, the Young Americans for Freedom movement which it launched, were formative for me and so many other young conservatives in the turbulent 1960s. Let's hope for an equally profound, powerful, and positive impact from the Mount Vernon Declaration. Here it is...

Constitutional Conservatism: A Statement for the 21st Century

We recommit ourselves to the ideas of the American Founding. Through the Constitution, the Founders created an enduring framework of limited government based on the rule of law. They sought to secure national independence, provide for economic opportunity, establish true religious liberty and maintain a flourishing society of republican self-government.

These principles define us as a country and inspire us as a people. They are responsible for a prosperous, just nation unlike any other in the world. They are our highest achievements, serving not only as powerful beacons to all who strive for freedom and seek self-government, but as warnings to tyrants and despots everywhere.

Each one of these founding ideas is presently under sustained attack. In recent decades, America’s principles have been undermined and redefined in our culture, our universities and our politics. The selfevident truths of 1776 have been supplanted by the notion that no such truths exist. The federal government today ignores the limits of the Constitution, which is increasingly dismissed as obsolete and irrelevant.

Some insist that America must change, cast off the old and put on the new. But where would this lead — forward or backward, up or down? Isn’t this idea of change an empty promise or even a dangerous deception?

The change we urgently need, a change consistent with the American ideal, is not movement away from but toward our founding principles. At this important time, we need a restatement of Constitutional conservatism grounded in the priceless principle of ordered liberty articulated in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.

The conservatism of the Declaration asserts self-evident truths based on the laws of nature and nature’s God. It defends life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. It traces authority to the consent of the governed. It recognizes man’s self-interest but also his capacity for virtue.

The conservatism of the Constitution limits government’s powers but ensures that government performs its proper job effectively. It refines popular will through the filter of representation. It provides checks and balances through the several branches of government and a federal republic.

A Constitutional conservatism unites all conservatives through the natural fusion provided by American principles. It reminds economic conservatives that morality is essential to limited government, social conservatives that unlimited government is a threat to moral self-government, and national security conservatives that energetic but responsible government is the key to America’s safety and leadership role in the world.

A Constitutional conservatism based on first principles provides the framework for a consistent and meaningful policy agenda.

It applies the principle of limited government based on the rule of law to every proposal.

It honors the central place of individual liberty in American politics and life.

It encourages free enterprise, the individual entrepreneur, and economic reforms grounded in market solutions.

It supports America’s national interest in advancing freedom and opposing tyranny in the world and prudently considers what we can and should do to that end.

It informs conservatism’s firm defense of family, neighborhood, community, and faith.

If we are to succeed in the critical political and policy battles ahead, we must be certain of our purpose.

We must begin by retaking and resolutely defending the high ground of America’s founding principles.

February 17, 2010

Edwin Meese, former U.S. Attorney General under President Reagan

Wendy Wright, president of Concerned Women for America

Edwin Feulner, Jr., president of the Heritage Foundation

Lee Edwards, Distinguished Fellow in Conservative Thought at the Heritage Foundation, was present at the Sharon Statement signing.

Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council

Becky Norton Dunlop, president of the Council for National Policy

Brent Bozell, president of the Media Research Center

Alfred Regnery, publisher of the American Spectator

David Keene, president of the American Conservative Union

David McIntosh, co-founder of the Federalist Society

T. Kenneth Cribb, former domestic policy adviser to President Reagan

Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform

William Wilson, President, Americans for Limited Government

Elaine Donnelly, Center for Military Readiness

Richard Viguerie, Chairman, ConservativeHQ.com

Kenneth Blackwell, Coalition for a Conservative Majority

Colin Hanna, President, Let Freedom Ring

Kathryn J. Lopez, National Review