Secretary of State Scott Gessler and Treasurer Walker Stapleton are the latest prominent conservatives to offer a stinging rebuke of Governor John Hickenlooper's hands-off, hide-out, tuck-duck-and-cover approach to governing the state of Colorado. Stapleton and Gessler both gave a thumbs down to Hickenlooper's approach in speeches before the Centennial Institute at Colorado Christian University last week.
Stapleton, having never held elected office before, found the approach particularly frustrating. Per the Colorado Statesman's Ernest Luning:
“It’s dawned on me, after spending my entire life in the private sector, that politics is a strange business,” said Stapleton, cracking a bemused smile. The reason, Stapleton said, is that “the less you do, the more popular you are. Think about how backwards that is.”
It’s not like other professions, Stapleton continued, where more ambition and accomplishments usually lead to higher stature. “In politics, as long as you can sit comfortably on the sidelines when it comes to controversial issues, you’re popular. And we have a governor who’s incredibly adept at sitting on the sidelines on consequential issues facing our state.” [Peak emphasis]
This line of criticism might be familiar to our readers, as we have been highlighting Hickenlooper's hiding for some time on these pages. From the $3 billion tax hike known as Prop 103 to Congressional redistricting, Hick has refused to even let the voters of Colorado know where he stands, let alone wade into issues that cry out for some executive leadership.
That's led not just conservatives but liberals to complain that the Governor is being greedy with his political capital. Liberals seem to believe Hick isn't "paying his fair share" of the burden when it comes to passing liberal legislation.
Some high profile legislators, like State Senator Greg Brophy (R-Wray), have even penned Peak columns criticizing the Governor for his weak-kneed ways.
Only two days after Brophy hit Hick for hiding on dealing with the Occupy Denver squatters, Hick and Denver Mayor Michael Han(d)cock sent in the riot police to clear the camp. Which is to say, wake up Republicans. Hickenlooper is not immune to legitimate criticism. If he's wrong, it's your duty to say so.
Like, for example, Hick's BS excuse on why he couldn't tackle the budgetary behemoth that threatens to single-handedly kill the state's spending future — Medicaid. He claimed it was illegal to curtail Medicaid spending, despite fellow Democrat New York Governor Andrew Cuomo having tackled that entitlement only a few months back. We called the Medicaid cops on Cuomo, but they told us Hickenlooper has no idea what he is talking about. It was just another excuse to avoid a tough issue.
Remember, as Hick let slip to Washington Post conservative commentator George Will, because Colorado is a such a politically balanced state, Hick believes he gets to "avoid the big fights."
Hick doesn't get to "avoid the big fights," he has just been allowed to by too few Republicans willing to call the Governor out.
Maybe, just maybe, Republicans in Colorado have grown weary of giving our weak but popular Governor a free pass. If they stay at it, maybe the Governor will actually be forced to, you know, do something. And if he doesn't, who knows, maybe his popularity will bear the consequences.