Aiming prognosticator’s crystal ball at the 2012 political campaigns

It’s customary, around the holidays, to do one of several kinds of columns.  Sometimes you’ll see recaps of events during the preceding year. There are recitations of things we ought to be thankful for, people good and less than charming we’ve appreciated or endured, and columns regarding New Year resolutions (or the lack thereof.)

Then there’s the most dangerous kind ... predictions for the coming year.  Figuring no one will remember any of my prognostications 12 months from now, let’s forge ahead with that theme.

Since it’s caucus day in Iowa, where a voter turnout less than the population of Mesa County is supposed to give us an accurate indication of our national political mood, let’s start with the 2012 presidential election.

By tomorrow morning, we’ll know who captured the “I’m not Mitt” vote and either beat or finished a close second to the guy certain to be the eventual GOP nominee.

Come November, I’m predicting all of this turmoil on the right side of the aisle will be for naught. Romney, the last one standing after the slugfest among Republican presidential candidates, will fall to President Barack Obama.

He won’t be a casualty of his own campaign failings or Obama’s re-election effort. When Romney is defeated, lesser contributing factors will be an economy continuing to inch upward, satisfaction with both the “git ‘er done” efforts that leave us without Osama bin Laden and assorted higher level al-Qaida henchmen to worry about, and happiness over troop withdrawal from Iraq.

It’ll be the damage to the GOP brand by sloganeering Republican freshmen in Congress that will be primarily responsible for snatching defeat from the jaws of what might have seemed like certain victory in the heady days between the 2010 mid-term elections that began an intentional process of lurching from crisis to manufactured crisis. That conscious choice, primarily by House GOP lawmakers, now sees congressional approval ratings somewhere below the flush handle and the president’s approval approaching the 50 percent range.

In Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District, I’m having a hard time seeing Democrat Sal Pace beating Scott Tipton, even if I’m correct about the outcome of the presidential race. Here’s why.

Sal’s not likely to be the beneficiary of any of the unhappiness that I think will keep Obama in the Oval Office. Far-right Republican voters unwilling to hold their noses to vote for Romney will ease their conscience by casting a ballot for “their” congressman.

We’re not short of those types here in western Colorado. Toss in the fact Pace is not likely to be able to outspend Tipton, add the advantages of incumbency, and you have the rest of the reasoning behind my prediction.

Here in Happy Valley, only a fool would be predicting the outcomes of the county commissioner races that find us awash in candidates. Contrary to the opinions of some readers, I’m not that silly.

I will predict that Paul Nelson will have to petition on to the ballot if he wants a real chance to be the GOP commissioner candidate for one of those seats. More moderate Republicans, his logical base of support, have largely opted out of active roles in Mesa County party politics.

Relying on the petition process rather than trying to entice them back into the caucus/assembly process now dominated by the right wing of the party has two advantages. First, you avoid the “food fight” atmosphere sure to be a part of a process with so many announced contenders. Second, collecting signatures also generates a long list of potential active supporters, something that’ll be necessary if Nelson and independents Jana Gerow and John Leane are to be successful.

Finally, a prediction about the search for a new Grand Junction city manager, following the forced resignation of Laurie Kadrich. It’ll be just as interesting and acrimonious, internally and externally, as was her dismissal.  It’s hard to see smooth sailing as a search and selection process plays out, especially if you’ve taken a look at things like the Bill Pitts-Kadrich email that was linked to the version of one of the original articles when the story broke or seen many of the post-resignation letters to the editor.

It’ll be a very interesting year.

Jim Spehar hopes no one monitors his prognostications and won’t be revisiting them at the end of the year. Readers’ predictions are welcome at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).


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