Campaign theme? ‘Hickenlooper in Wonderland’

Lately, there has been a lot of advertising for the DVD of the movie “Alice in Wonderland” and like many Colorado voters, when I see the advertising, especially the Mad Hatter, I think of the gubernatorial campaign of Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper.

Sure, there are the easy comparisons: the costumes, looking dazed when confronted with prior positions and addressing questions with responses that aren’t actually answers. For those not familiar with the prior political career of the mayor, they might want to look up some of his campaign commercials during the Denver mayoral races, where he dressed up in a bear suit before running the city into a $100 million budget deficit.

In some years, it’s possible a Mad Hatter or Red Queen could get elected, but now voters are paying a lot more attention to lunch-box issues. They’re the kind that don’t lend themselves to candidates dressing up like dancing Big Blue bears, skydiving in campaign commercials or jetting off to an International Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen (that’s “Copen-hah-gen” for we rubes over the mountain) to get all a tingle about spending billions of dollars we don’t have to fix something that’s not happening.

Amy Oliver of Greeley is just right in the title of a piece she wrote, saying that “Mayor Hick and Candidate Hick Just Can’t Get Along.” That’s because the policies that might get you elected in liberal Denver are probably the opposite of positions that will get you elected in now center-right Colorado.

The counter from the mayor’s campaign has been the fiendishly clever tactic of either being forgetful or vague. For instance, in 2009 the mayor praised Van Jones, the departed Obama “Green Czar” and self-confessed communist, as a rock star and “even bigger and better in life than what you’ve heard.” After Hickenlooper became a candidate for governor, he was asked by Mike Rosen on Denver radio about the praise. The mayor responded “I don’t remember talking about Van Jones ... who knows what I said?”

How about Denver’s proposed “crash tax,” which would charge a fee for nonresidents who were cited in an accident within the city limits. The fee supposedly would charge for the response by city employees to the accident. When quizzed, the mayor’s spokesman told the Denver Daily News “we support it,” but Todd Shepherd of Complete Colorado now quotes the mayor as saying he’s not terribly wedded to it one way or the other.

Municipal crash fees have popped up in several states, but were banned by state legislatures in five states in 2008 and three more in 2009.

The mayor also can’t decide where he stands on Colorado’s job-killing drilling regulations, which he initially said were a bit extreme, but after walking that position back in the face of outrage from liberal pressure groups, he now attempts to answer questions about the regulations by simply talking.

I played a one minute and 55 second answer to such a question on my radio show last week and nowhere in the monologue was there anything like an answer to what he thought about the regulations.

Retreating to the comedic, he did show up at a Denver news studio with stripes duct-taped on his clothing in a parody of a Republican commercial claiming he and Gov. Ritter were the same “stripe” of politician. He also made a number of jokes about stripes and zebras, which surely uplifted the spirits of unemployed workers everywhere.

Some people say that vaudeville is dead and no one reads Lewis Carroll anymore but here in Colorado, we know better.

Rick Wagner offers more thoughts on politics at his blog, The War on Wrong.


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