Polls show tightening race in gubernatorial campaign

A funny thing happened to the left’s bright spot in Colorado’s electoral landscape, the governor’s contest. It started tightening.

After the alarming meltdown of the Republican candidates just prior to the primary election, emergence of a conservative third-party candidate and the eventual Republican nominee suffering a debilitating series of finger gouges and pivot kicks to his underfunded campaign, the Democratic nominee should have had an easy walk to the finish line.

The governor’s contest could easily be a singularity in a state that has a strong chance for three congressional districts to switch from Democrat to Republican, as well as a Senate seat and two of three statewide offices (secretary of state and treasurer, if not governor). There’s also the strong probability that the statehouse will have a more conservative tilt in 2011, with the GOP increasing seats and possibly retaking control of the Senate.

So what are liberals to do when their single light in the darkness, Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper, just cannot come up with enough costume changes and quirky behavior to get past 43 percent of the vote?

Last week, Rasmussen polling continued to show Hickenlooper in the low 40 percent range, while American Constitution Party candidate Tom Tancredo had climbed to 36 percent of the vote. Republican nominee Dan Maes brought up the back of the herd with 16 percent. What is fascinating about these results is that Hickenlooper has been the beneficiary of a large war chest, scandal and infighting among his opponents and is one of the least-examined candidates for a major political office since the invention of the printing press.

Still he stagnates in the low 40s — this without examination of the policies of the city he helms on issues such as illegal immigration, the city’s dwindling economic situation or Hickenlooper’s curiously fervent advocation of global-warming remedies at the ill-starred 2009 Copenhagen Climate Conference.

These low numbers are also surprising, given that what media attention has been focused on the contest has centered on the other candidates, as they each demand the other get out of the race. On that front, I am impressed with Tom Tancredo’s campaign, after early misgivings that he would see the contest as a mere platform to advance a narrow national agenda. However, after having the opportunity to hear his message, that now seems much less the case and frankly, a lot of national policies are what’s hurting the state.

There is now an opportunity for Tancredo to become governor if Hickenlooper’s numbers stay the same or if, with sufficient exposure of his beliefs and policies, they fall further.

The looming question in this analysis remains: What about the Republican nominee Dan Maes? He’s a candidate many conservatives and tea party members have supported, but at this point, with slightly more than three weeks to go until the election, appears to have lost the confidence of enough of the electorate to make the possibility of his success wildly remote. Whether this has occurred due to his own failings, is the media’s fault or nobody’s fault is, at this point, not as important as what can be done to protect the interests of Colorado.

Many conservatives have grown tired of voting for the least undesirable alternative to get even a moderately acceptable result. Happily, in this situation, that is not the case, as Tancredo has real bona fides as a fiscal conservative not afraid to challenge conventional wisdom.

Given that Hickenlooper’s economic vision for the state seems to involve us riding electric mopeds to our new jobs of applying non-petroleum-based lubricants to government-subsidized wind turbines, I don’t see it as much of a choice.

There is also an example that sums our choice, and that is Denver’s “occupational privilege tax.” This law requires any employer with an employee who generates more than $500 in business within the confines of the city of Denver to pay a tax to that city for the “privilege” of earning a living. There is both an employee and a business assessment to this privilege levy. (The tax was enacted in 1983. Hickenlooper became Denver mayor in 2003.) In John Hickenlooper’s city, earning a living is a privilege granted to you by the government and you must pay for it.

I don’t want to see that thinking spread statewide. But hey, that’s just me.

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


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