In an article in Denver Westword this morning, House Democrat Speaker Pro Tempore Claire Levy claims the Democrats likely have the votes to overturn the death penalty, despite a recent poll showing 68% of Coloradans oppose the move.
Unfortunately, the Westword reporter didn’t ask Levy why she would push a bill so heavily opposed by the people of Colorado. Here’s what Westword‘s Sam Levin did report:
Before Representative Claire Levy proposes legislation to repeal the death penalty in Colorado, she wants to be sure that it can pass.
And after more discussions with her fellow lawmakers on the topic, she says it seems like the momentum is right to get rid of the death penalty — even if one of her Democratic colleagues is adamantly opposed to the move.
“I can’t say with certainty…but I’m getting more confident,” Levy says. “Those of us who are sponsoring it want to be sure we are going to be able to pass it before we introduce it. We are getting in confident in that.”
The Democratic colleague referenced above is Rep. Rhonda Fields, whose son and fiance were gunned down after her son agreed to testify in a murder trial. His killer is on death row.
The optics of this debate couldn’t possibly be worse for Democrats, but with control of both chambers at the Capitol, it seems somewhat likely that the bill will reach the Governor’s desk. Knowing that Governor Hickenlooper is hyper-sensitive to polling, here’s a brief breakdown of what Coloradans said in a recent poll by the Tarrance Group — a highly respected Republican polling firm.
Per a Colorado Observer scoop:
The results of the survey back that conclusion, with a whopping 68 percent of poll respondents saying they oppose abolishing the death penalty in Colorado, compared to just 27 percent who said they favored an end to capital punishment.
When asked specifically whether accused Aurora movie theater shooter James Holmes should receive the death penalty, those polled said he should by margin of more than 2 to 1 (59 percent to 27 percent).
Support for the death penalty jumped to 69 percent when respondents were told that abolishing the death penalty could lead to overturning Nathan Dunlap’s convictions for the grisly 1996 murders of four Denver-area Chuck E. Cheese restaurant employees.
Backing for capital punishment was consistent across political party lines, with a majority of Republicans (81 percent), Democrats (57 percent) and Independents (66 percent) all opposed to outlawing Colorado’s death penalty.
Even self-described “liberals” were evenly split on the question, with 49 percent saying they opposed scrapping capital punishment.
Do House Democrats really plan on making Governor Hickenlooper protect Aurora shooter James Holmes from the death penalty? Welcome to the world where Frank McNulty can’t save your ass, Hick.