Governor John Hickenlooper loves to be all things to all people. It's a shape-shifting costume that has worked well for the popular governor for many months, but as we reach the first Halloween of his governorship, the makeup is beginning to run and the true John Hickenlooper is starting to show. Under the many layers, a Hickenlooper incapable of engaging the "big fights" and the big issues is beginning to emerge.
While we at the Peak have been shouting from the rooftops for many, many months that Hickenlooper isn't all his political persona cracks him up to be, it is only in recent weeks that others have been joining the skeptics bandwagon.
If not for the meddling Rollie Heath and his Prop 103, Hickenlooper might have gotten away with it too.
With the massive proposed tax increase that is Prop 103, Hick was presented with a high profile issue he couldn't easily duck or find an easy win with. He had to either break his vow not to support a tax increase in his first year, harming his political mettle with the middle, or oppose the tax hike and cause him trouble with his base on the left. Not liking the impact of either of those positions, Hick tried to have it both ways, refusing to support the initiative while dog whistling liberals hinting at personal, if not full-on political, support for the ballot measure.
That's like being a judge for a Halloween costume contest and voting for both finalists — all you end up doing is annoying everyone and pleasing no one.
Prop 103 is far from the only time Hickenlooper tried to have it both ways. A tendency most glaringly obvious in the case of Prop 103, the trend has reared its ugly head in a host of other cases.
What Hick thinks is a political environment that lets him "avoid the big fights," now appears more clearly to be Hick's own skittishness at engaging any issue that doesn't poll in the mid-60s.
For your reading pleasure, here is a brief glimpse of Hick's most recent history of masquerading in the middle.
1. Two Ways On Tebow: When asked whether he supported the ascension of Bronco's quarterback Tim Tebow to the starting position, Hick hedged and said he support whatever Coach Fox wants. Hick's position per Eli Stokols of Fox31: "I support the Coach, whatever Coach Fox wants, I support," Hickenlooper said. "But I think give [Tebow] a shot. Lets see what he can do for a few games."
2. DPS Endorsement Duck: In a statement reminiscent of his recent musings on Prop 103, Hick insisted he wasn't going to offer endorsements in the Denver Public School board races, but then went on to praise a slate of candidates by name and had nothing to say about their opponents. As the former Mayor and current Governor, we're sure Hick had no idea of the impact of his statements. He was just, you know, offering his personal thoughts.
3. Occupy Denver Squatter Sidestep: After waiting weeks while the squatter city took shape in Denver, Hick was finally pressured into enforcing the rule of law. Hoping the winter weather would chase away the protesters from a state park, Hick held fast to his indecisive MO in the hopes he wouldn't have to wade into a rapidly deteriorating situation. This case of vacillating caught up to him, with Hick becoming a national enemy of the Occupy movement and the middle and right losing faith in the Governor's ability to control even a small camp of squatters. Had Hick shut the camp down in the early days, it is likely the situation wouldn't have descended into the utter chaos of last Saturday, where police were assaulted and protesters were beat back with pepper spray and rubber bullets.
4. Presidential Pussyfooting: When asked by the Colorado Springs Gazette if he would be campaigning for Obama in the state that Hick himself said would be at the center of the political universe next year, John Schroyer reports that Hick dodged the issue. Trying to back away from promising to stump for the President, Hick begged off claiming poor public speaking skills. Hick has struggled even deciding what he thinks of Obama's chances, telling Politico a few months ago that Obama would "have a hard time" winning Colorado, but then backtracking to say Obama "probably can win."
We wonder…when Halloween is over will Hick be the guy that keeps showing up in costume to work?