GOOD GRIEF: Chickenlooper Noncommittal On No Brainer Bill

We’ve made it our business to document Gov. John Chickenlooper’s lack of backbone ad nauseam.  When it comes to controversial issues, he’s a well-known hedger.  Just look at his handling of the gun recalls and weak-kneed endorsement of Amendment 66.

Despite all that, however, we never thought we would actually see the day when Chickenlooper failed to take a position on one of the most populist pieces of legislation ever to be considered by the General Assembly: the banning of red light cameras.

Senate Bill 181 would prohibit local municipalities from using red light and photo radar cameras to issue people tickets.  The bill passed out of the Senate yesterday and now heads to the House for consideration.  It has bipartisan support and should be a no brainer for a Governor who just wants everyone to like him.  Well, here’s the headline we got instead:  

Proposal to ban red-light cameras advances, Hickenlooper noncommittal

Gaaah, come on man!  Red light cameras don’t make the roads any safer and only serve to line the pockets of local government coffers, which explains why the Colorado Municipal League and Colorado Association of Chiefs of Police oppose the bill.  Yes, throwing your support behind this one might upset a few cronies, but who cares?  You don’t have to be a pollster to know that voters hate red light cameras with a burning passion.


CHICKENLOOPER, CONTINUED: Hick Goes All Flimsy On Backing Morse, Giron (In Public)

The story line is well established — except when it comes to coddling serial killers, Governor John Hickenlooper is a wuss. 

He avoids tough, controversial decisions like the plague.

Today’s installment comes from the Colorado Springs Gazette, in an article titled “Gov. Hickenlooper offers measured support to Morse, Giron in Colorado recall elections“. 

DENVER – Last week polls opened unexpectedly early in Pueblo, financial disclosures revealed hundreds of thousands of dollars from out-of-state pouring into the recall elections and Gov. John Hickenlooper sent out an e-mail…

It’s the first time the governor has actively campaigned for two Democratic Senators facing recall elections next week for their support of gun control measures that Hickenlooper signed into law this summer. And the email did not include the names of either Morse of Giron.

Some question why so little, so late…

But Hickenlooper isn’t jumping out of any airplanes for Giron and Morse as he did when he was pulling for two referendums aimed at curbing the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights in 2005.

An email is a far cry from his earlier promise to do whatever it takes to help Senators Giron and Morse survive their recall elections.

The email that Hickenlooper sent out went through the Democratic National Committee, ensuring that most voters, other than hardcore Democrats, would not see his incursion into the recalls.

Hick strikes a moderate tone with Denver media, saying virtually nothing in support of Giron or Morse, but gives a hard-edged message in the mailboxes of liberal voters.

It’s straight out of Hick’s political pussyfooting playbook. Last election cycle, he played hard for a number of Democrats in the mail, while pretending to be “post-partisan” in public.

Hick — you absolute wuss hole. If you want to show some courage, show some courage. Don’t act tepid in the press, and go all hardcore in liberal mailboxes. 


AVOIDANCE IS A THEME: Liberal Public Radio Nails Hick For Hiding From Tough Decisions

You know a negative narrative against a Democrat is sticking when even the liberal Colorado Public Radio is pressing him on it. In a revealing interview with Governor Hickenlooper today, CPR’s Ryan Warner pushes the governor to explain why he just can’t ever seem to make up his mind.

Warner: You made your first concrete statement of support for this approach to the tax behind closed doors. It was at a private event. Now I wonder if that tells us something about the intensity of your support for this?

Hickenlooper: Oh no. I think that, uh, I’m trying to look at what’s best for the state of Colorado long term, and as you know there have been a number of people pushing me to support various taxes over the years. This one is different in the sense that this is delivering what Secretary Arne Duncan, the Secretary of Education, said is the most comprehensive set of reforms in the history of the United States, right? This is going to set Colorado as the national model in public education.


Warner: To this idea of announcing your support at a private event, what we’re talking about there calls up something that your opponents, even some of your supporters say is a theme of your administration. And that is you avoid taking concrete positions until absolutely necessary. So you pass policies to reduce carbon emissions but you leave the door open to the idea that climate change isn’t caused by human activity. You postpone murderer Nathan Dunlap’s execution, but make it possible for a future governor to put him to death. What do you say about this perception of your leadership style?

Hickenlooper: They’re saying that I wait until to make a decision longer than they would wait?

Warner: Or that you take one that’s safely in the middle of the road.

Hickenlooper: I don’t think this decision is safely in the middle of the road. We’re talking about an income tax increase. This is gonna be a very difficult initiative to win. I think unfortunately it’s going to be very divisive for the state. People are going to get very involved. What’s indecisive about that? I mean you can argue I take too long to get to that decision but I don’t think that’s the case here. There’s four months until the election. I bet I talked to 100 people over the previous couple of months.

Two interesting admissions from Hickenlooper in this interview. One is that it’s a fair criticism that he takes (way) too long to make up his mind. The second being that the billion dollar tax increase will be “very divisive.”

We’re not sure what exactly he means by divisive, as the results of 2011′s tax hike campaign were among the biggest margins in recent Colorado history, with 2/3 of voters rejecting it. When is the last time a controversial issue in Colorado politics had the opposition of 2/3 of voters?

Well, other than the death penalty. (Quinnipiac found 67% of voters disapproved of Hickenlooper’s reprieve of Dunlap)

Which is what Hickenlooper probably means — supporting the tax hike will be divisive for his political prospects. No wonder he’s sticking to whispering about it in private settings.


HICK’S TAX HIKE HEDGE: Will He or Won’t He?

OUR VIEW: Supporting the bill that spends the proceeds of the tax increase without supporting the tax itself is like loving the sin and hating the sinner. In other words, it is too weird even for Hick.  

Governor Hickenlooper signing the bill to spend money from a tax hike he’s not sure he wants to support.

A loyal reader pointed out an interesting aspect of this new controversy as to whether Governor John Hickenlooper will or won’t support the $1 billion tax increase.

This week Hick hedged on the tax hike big time, drawing the mocking ire of one AP reporter.

What? Hick hedged? Stop the band. Call the cops. Couldn’t be.

As hard as it is to believe loyal Peak readers, it is true, Hick hedged.

What makes this hedge totally whack-oh-doodle for Hickenlooper is that the Governor already signed the school finance act that would spend the proceeds of the tax increase that he can’t decide if he will support.

Following along? 

As the Durango Herald‘s Joe Hanel reported at the bill signing:

DENVER – Gov. John Hickenlooper signed into law the first update in a generation to the way Colorado funds its public schools…

But it all depends on voter approval of a $1.1 billion tax hike this November.

“This bill really positions Colorado to be the national leader in terms of school reform and effectiveness,” Hickenlooper said Tuesday shortly before signing Senate Bill 213 at the Capitol.

The new system will allow taxpayers to see exactly how schools are spending their money, he said.

“It’s great to talk about reform, but I think this system’s one that’s going to start demonstrating outcomes,” Hickenlooper said.

Support spending the new tax revenue but not support the tax hike? Is that like loving the sin but hating the sinner? That is one serious contortion even for a governor who issued a non-pardon pardon of a mass murderer.

It is too weird for even him.

There is no way Hick jumps off the tax hike bandwagon.

But until we know for sure the question must be asked — will he or won’t he (support the tax increase that funds the bill that he already signed)?


CHICKENLOOPER STRIKES AGAIN: Governor Hickenlooper Backtracking On Coming Tax Hike Campaign

Governor Hickenlooper is backtracking on his support for the coming tax hike campaign. The Denver Post might not have noticed it, but reporters and operatives across Colorado certainly did.

In an interview yesterday with the Post‘s Democrat blogger, Allison Sherry, Hickenlooper shifted position and said he was still “undecided” on supporting the tax increase that will be on the ballot this fall.

WASHINGTON — Gov. John Hickenlooper said Wednesday he was still undecided on whether to back a ballot measure this fall that would fuel a new $1.1 billion tax increase necessary to pay for a newly overhauled system for administering the state’s education dollars.

But, Hickenlooper said it would be “crazy to put more money into the system unless you change the structure of the system.”

“I think it’s likely that we will support something,” he said.

That’s interesting, because when he was signing the bill attached to the tax increase, SB213, he said he’d support any tax increase proponents came up with. 

Why yes, Kristen, he has. Flashback to reporting by the Durango Herald‘s Joe Hanel on Hickenlooper signing SB213 in May:

Hickenlooper pledged Tuesday to campaign for the tax increase once the sponsors pick a single initiative.

It’s possible that after seeing the dramatic drop in his poll numbers in the latest Quinnipiac poll, Hickenlooper decided he no longer had the political capital to spare to support an unpopular tax increase.

If that’s true, and Hick is backtracking on the tax hike, it will only further cement the view that the governor is incapable of tough decisions.

It also would explain why the President of the largest teachers union in Colorado took to Twitter recently to trash Hick for hiding on the tax increase.

Post-Dunlap, it looks like Chickenlooper is here to stay.


RUNNING TO THE LEFT: Hickenlooper Announces Support For Impending $1 Billion Tax Hike Campaign

Democrats applaud Hickenlooper for signing SB213, the bill attached to the impending $1 billion tax hike campaign

In a sign Governor Hickenlooper has all but abandoned any hope at retaining his moderate political brand, yesterday he announced his support for an impending $1 billion tax hike campaign.

Reports The Durango Herald‘s Joe Hanel at the bottom of a piece about Hickenlooper signing the attached SB213:

Hickenlooper pledged Tuesday to campaign for the tax increase once the sponsors pick a single initiative.

This, folks, is big news. In 2011, Hickenlooper steadfastly refused to take a public position on the Prop 103 tax hike ballot initiative, earning the derisive nickname “Chickenlooper.

Currently tax hike proponents are deciding between raising taxes through increasing the flat tax rate, or creating a graduated system, with higher incomes being taxed at an even higher rate.

The fact that Hickenlooper has already agreed to back the billion dollar tax increase, without even knowing what form it wil take, is a risky move.

A recent poll that purposely over-sampled Democrats found that voters strongly oppose a tax increase, no matter what form it takes.

From our post on the poll:

Magellan polled 675 respondents from April 24-25 and found an overwhelming opposition to income tax hikes, with 55% of respondents opposed to the idea of raising the state income tax from 4.63% to 5.35% to only 36% supportive of the idea.

When asking about a graduated income tax hike, with those making less than $75,000 seeing their taxes go up 1%, while those making over $75,000 would see a 3% hike, the opposition increased slightly with 56% opposed and 35% in support.

We honestly can’t think of a single ballot initiative in Colorado history that started at 36% support to 55% opposition that succeeded in the end.

In a still fragile economy, voters simply aren’t willing to hand over more cash to the government.

With Hickenlooper’s approval rating already underwater with independents, this certainly can’t help his political standing.


DISCLAIMER REQUIRED: Hick’s Gun Control Signing Statement Puzzles Colorado

At first glance, Democrat Governor John Hickenlooper’s signing statement from yesterday’s gun control bill signing seemed odd, but perhaps Queen of Colorado Political Media, the Denver Post‘s Lynn Bartels, hit the nail on the head when she tweeted the following:

First, the statement starts out with a mea culpa and some backpedaling:

“In signing HB13-1224, we acknowledge that some have expressed concerns about the vagueness of the law’s definition of “large-capacity magazine.” By its terms, the law does make illegal any magazine manufactured or purchased after July 1, 2013, that is capable of accepting, or is designed to be readily converted to accept, more that 15 rounds of ammunition. Similar language is used in other states’ statutes limiting large-capacity magazines.”

Translation: Other states do it, we’re really not the bad guy here.  Well, except that Colorado isn’t New York, and the state’s needs are different here.

Then, there was the most puzzling part, as noted by Bartels, the lengthy explanation of how this bill was supposed to be interpreted by the court.

“We also have heard concerns about the requirement in the law that a person who owns a large-capacity magazine prior to the law’s enactment may legally possess that magazine only as long as he or she “maintains continuous possession” of it. We do not believe a reasonable interpretation of the law means that a person must maintain continuous “physical” possession of these items. Responsible maintenance and handling of magazines obviously contemplates that gun owners may allow others to physically hold and handle them under appropriate circumstances. We are confident that law enforcement and the courts will interpret the statute so as to effectuate the lawful use and care of these devices.”

While we certainly hope that the courts interpret this law to account for temporary physical possession changes with as much leeway as possible, the fact remains that it’s not the Governor’s job to tell the courts how to rule.  If he wanted the bill to be interpreted this way, he should have driven this legislation so that it actually read that way.

Again, we have to ask, who’s in charge in the State of Colorado?


CHICKENLOOPER STRIKES AGAIN: Hick Signs Gun Control Legislation

This morning at about 9:45 a.m., Democrat Governor Hickenlooper signed into law far-reaching gun control measures that would expand the background checks on gun purchases to include some family members and that would limit the size of ammunition magazines that would render nearly all magazines illegal.

With opposition for this legislation came from all sides, it would appear that the Colorado State Legislature is running roughshod over Gov. Hickenlooper. Hick has flip-flopped on guns and is now forced to play defense on oil and gas (we’ll see how good at D Hick really is in the coming weeks).  Other than civil unions, which is a perennial issue and not Governor-initiated, has he addressed anything he promised to address in his infamous State of the State speech?

The question has become who’s really in charge in Colorado?  In other words, is the tail wagging Hick?  Or is Hick hiding behind the legislature?

The Tim Gill-purchased legislature has pushed a far left agenda for years, much to the chagrin of Hickenlooper who portends to be a moderate.  The key agenda items he outlined in his State of the State speech this January included passing the DUHigh bill to make our roads safer in light of Amendment 64, foster a friendlier business climate to attract new businesses, pair gun control with mental health initiatives, and others.

What the Gill legislature has delivered, as the Peak mentioned earlier, is gun control, sex ed, cow’s tails, civil unions, adultery laws, and overturning the death penalty.  Finally, if anything, Democrats in the Colorado State Legislature have made the business climate worse, having already sent at least two businesses packing.

Then, of course, there was the national influence (Mayor Bloomberg and Vice President Biden) on gun control that left Coloradans, again, wondering who’s really in charge.

Whether Hick isn’t standing up to the legislature or he’s hiding behind it, it would appear that Chickenlooper has made his appearance again.  You can call Gov. Hickenlooper a lot of nice things, but you can’t call him a leader.


CHICKENLOOPERED: Hick Gives Ultimate Non-Answer To Immigration Question On CBS’ Face The Nation

Governor Hickenlooper has an amazing ability to say absolutely nothing during interviews with the press. While we’re sure his staff are appreciative, the rest of Colorado’s citizens (and the press) are probably less than pleased to get a stream of hot air in response to serious, substantive questions.

Case in point came this weekend when Hickenlooper was interviewed on CBS’ Face the Nation and the question of immigration came up. The Guv was asked whether the border should be secured before a path to citizenship is given to those in the country illegally, or if both processes can happen at the same time. Here’s how he answered, in only the way Hickenlooper is allowed to:

“I don’t have as much of a problem doing the border security first. They do have to be done together. [Peak emphasis]

But in the end, you do really have to focus on the whole problem at the same time. You’ve got to look at employment, identification, and making sure 20 years down the road we’re not going to get back in the same position.”

I’ll take all of the above for 400, Alex.



HICK HEDGE: Governor Tries To Have It Both Ways On Bain Capital Messaging

The attacks on private equity by the Obama campaign have left business-friendly Governor Hickenlooper in quite a bind. He can't pull a Cory Booker and trash the anti-business attacks and risk the Obama campaign's wrath, and he can't join them with his full-throated support either and risk alienating the business community in Colorado.

When asked about the Bain Capital attacks by The Washington Post, Hick did what he usually does when confronted with tough issues, he hedged. 

From a WaPo article this weekend:

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, a Democrat and a successful restaurateur, said he made a point of telling Obama stories during his recent visit about the local entrepreneurial spirit. Hickenlooper said he was pleased that Obama also wove some of those entrepreneurial stories into his public remarks that day. He is among those who support the president’s message about Bain but concede that they do not know whether it will work.  

“Does it really outsource a lot of jobs?” Hickenlooper said. “Does it downsize companies? That’s a message that, if it takes hold, is something that voters are going to respond to.”

But, Hickenlooper added, “it’s too early to tell which arguments are persuading people.”

See what he did there? He made sure all of his business community supporters knew he did his level best to tell Obama about the importance of entrepreneurs and investors, while at the same time signalling to Democrats that he is on their side. 

Hickenlooper also wasn't quoted giving his personal opinion that Bain Capital is bad, like Congressmen Ed Perlmutter and Jared Polis hypocritically did at Obama's Denver fundraiser. He just dons his political analyst hat and says the attacks might work. 

This has become a pattern when it comes to Hickenlooper and the campaigns of fellow Democrats.

While Hickenlooper continues to refuse to endorse Obama officially, he'll gladly raise money at private events. While Hickenlooper refused to officially endorse a slate of Denver School Board candidates, he had plenty of nice things to say about only one of the slates running. He even did this on the Prop 103 $3 billion tax hike, when he refused to take a position on the ballot measure, but dog-whistled liberals by saying he was "sympathetic" to those who want to raise taxes. 

Which is it, Governor Hickenlooper? Are Bain Capital and private equity firms "vampire capitalists" or aren't they?

© 2011-2013 Colorado Peak Politics