First off I'm moderately liberal (or as it's described up here in Boulder, a right wing reactionary). But I try to be even-handed and fair when I lay out the choices in the state level races.
Second, we Democrats have done a lousy job at the federal level. But at the state level I think we've done very well dealing with an awful situation. I also think the Republican members of the legislature have done a good job. A lot of very important legislation was crafted and passed this past session with active effort by members on both sides of the aisle.
Governor – Hick-inator vs. The Tanc
John Hickenlooper comes with the best possible preparation for the job, mayor of our largest city. As mayor of Denver he has done a good job of professionally managing the city and handling the cuts required from reduced revenue. He will almost certainly continue the existing approach of trying to further streamline the government.
Tom Tancredo comes with decent experience having managed a division of the federal Department of Education and as a U.S. Congressman. It will take him a bit longer to get up to speed but he should be very capable of doing so. He will almost certainly address some of the budget constraints by reducing state employee salaries and benefits to the level he thinks is appropriate. There is some validity to this approach, but it's going to be a bloody fight.
Both have said they are going to look closely at what they can do to help Colorado businesses grow jobs. And there is a lot the state can do. John Hickenlooper will lean more toward actions the state will take to help while Tom Tancredo will lean more toward things the state should stop doing to get out of the way. A good example is Oil & Gas regulation where Hick will look for ways to reduce the negative impact of the regulations while Tanc will look to roll them back. My take on eliminating the Oil & Gas regulations is that it's akin to renting your house to a rock band – the initial check is great but when you come back to a wrecked house and your dog has been molested, it's not that good a deal.
If you want the state to reduce its size, reduce what it does, you should vote for Tom Tancredo. He will use the reduced revenues as a means to accomplishing this. If you want the state to continue its present service level, with improvements, but the level we are at, and an increase when the economy recovers, then you should vote for John Hickenlooper.
And no matter which one wins, most of their job will be trying to minimize the impact of further major reductions in state funding. And regardless of which one wins, higher education is hosed (the constraints in the constitution leave Higher Ed and prisons as the only large budget items that can be cut).
Treasurer – Kennedy vs. Stapleton
The treasurer has a single primary job – keep the state funds safe and get a decent return on the investment. That's it. Yes they go talk about various issues. Yes they help set up financial systems to assist government entities that have limited resources and bonding ability. But the key issue is the state funds. Any money lost in the invested funds is an additional budget cut.
Cary Kennedy has done a superb job where the state has lost no invested funds and has had a return on the investment that most Wall St investment houses can't equal. With a record like this I don't care what party the Treasurer is, I don't care what their political philosophy is, they have my vote. I'd vote for Dick Cheney if he was delivering these results.
Walker Stapleton might do a good job. But the best he could aspire to is to equal Cary's track record. Walker himself has said that Cary has done a good job, but he thinks he can do better. However, he has nothing to demonstrate that his investment acumen would be superior. He has stated that he will use his investment banker background to try and improve on Cary's record. With higher risk comes higher reward so he could get us a better return, but we could also end up with significant losses.
If you view the Treasurer position as getting the best return on our investments, and doing so safely, then you should vote for Cary. If you're willing to take a larger risk of losing some of our investments, but possibly getting a higher return from those investments, then you should vote for Walker. Personally I just don't see how it makes any sense to change Treasurer with her results. Especially when state revenues are declining further.
Attorney General – Garnett vs. Suthers
John Suthers has been our Attorney General for the last 6 years and until recently was viewed by Democrats & Republicans as doing a good job. Yes we Democrats would disagree with some of his decisions more often than Republicans, but all in all a competent fair AG. The Attorney General in many ways should be run in a nonpartisan manner and Suthers, just like Ken Salazar, has (mostly) done that. But…
John Suthers was previously the U.S. Attorney for Colorado. At that time he approved the temporary release of convicted felon Scott Kimball, an individual who one judge had stated should never be released. John spent 5 minutes reviewing the request, approved it, and provided no oversight of Kimball after he was released.
Scott Kimball then murdered 4 people, including a 16 year old girl (details from Fox News).
I think it would be unconsciousable to re-elect and individual who sprung a felon from prison early, for no good reason, with no real supervision, leaving him free to murder innocent people. And John Suthers has disclaimed any responsibility for this. If holding our elected officials accountable is to have any meaning, I think we must vote for Stan Garnett. (I have more here about why I think this should disqualify John Suthers from your consideration.)
Stan Garnett is the District Attorney for Boulder County where he has been doing a superb job and has been scrupulously fair as well as significantly improved the efficiency of the office. Stan is clearly qualified and would make the A.G. office more focused on what it can do to help the people of Colorado.
Secretary of State – Buescher vs. Gessler
Bernie Buescher has been the Secretary of State for the last two years and has continued in the Mike Coffman approach (previous SoS, a Republican) of running the office effectively and in a nonpartisan manner. However, Bernie has also ignored the serious problem where his office allows criminals to fraudulently take over as the registered agent for any company registered in Colorado.
Scott has spent a lot of his professional career working for very partisan Republican groups including Coloradans for Change, Colorado Conservative Voters, and the list goes on... Now this is not proof that he would be partisan in the SoS office, after all this is a partisan elected position. But it is reason for great concern. On the plus side, he has said that he will make securing company registrations one of his top priorities in office.
If you want a Secretary of State that is mostly nonpartisan, but does lean a little Democratic, and you're not too concerned about the ongoing theft the SoS office presently enables, then you want to vote for Bernie. If you want a Secretary of State that will shut down the ongoing theft the office enables, or you want a SoS that would probably lean heavily Republican, then you want to vote for Scott.
Personally I'm torn on this one. Because the SoS oversees elections I want them to be nonpartisan and I think Bernie is a better choice by that criteria. But as a business owner I don't want to see companies robbed, and the accompanying job loss that entails.
I think the legislature this past session did a superb job. Not only was a lot of that a bipartisan effort, but the main legislation shoved through in a partisan manner was some of the worst thought out of the session (undoing some of the tax exemptions). I know I will get yelled at by my fellow Democrats but I think the best thing for our state, and Colorado comes before party for me, is a divided legislature.
So for the House, if you are undecided, my suggestion is to vote for the Democratic candidate. They are by and large quality candidates (there are a few exceptions). The House is going to stay Democratic.
And for the Senate, if you are undecided, my suggestion… uh… OW! eh.eh… I can't say it! Well let's say that there are a number of quality candidates, although there are also a surprising number that have serious felony arrest records. But if it's a Republican without a record for domestic violence or other serious felony, give them a look.
I hope this is of some help. As always, comments are very welcome.