Lynn Bartels of The Denver Post picked up on an important theme in today's dead wood edition, looking at state Representative and Congressional candidate Sal Pace's (D-Urination) multiple absences from his taxpayer funded day job at the state Capitol. This right wing digital rag even earned a mention for our criticism of Pace's absence.

Ditching votes and avoiding tough issues is becoming a trend for Pace, who has to figure out a way to placate his left wing enviro base and not screw the oil and gas industry, which employs much of the 3rd Congressional district's voters. 

Rather than pick a side in the enviro vs. oil and gas divide this week, Pace decided to avoid the issue altogether and skip the vote in favor of a campaign fundraiser.

Reports Bartels:

Republicans blistered state Rep. Sal Pace for missing an oil-and-gas vote this week, saying he's more interested in campaigning for Congress than representing his constituents.  

…Pace left the Local Government Committee Monday to attend a fundraiser in Edwards, an event he said he had RSVP'd to more than six weeks ago.

…Pace pointed out his vote wouldn't have changed the outcome, but the conservative blog ColoradoPeakPolitics took the Democrat to task.  

"Rep. Pace: Was this an unimportant vote?" the blog asked.  

Chuck Poplstein, executive director of the Colorado Republican Party, said Pace likely benefited from his absence.  

"Skipping a vote on oil-and-gas allowed Pace to save face with two important but conflicting entities in his district: environmentalists and the oil-and-gas interests," Poplstein said.

Chuck has it exactly right. Pace is still trying to figure out how to thread the needle between standing against energy development, as environmentalists want, and creating jobs through tapping into Colorado's expansive energy reserves.

Let's make it easy for you, Sal. You can't. 

Governor Hickenlooper has tried to balance enviros against oil and gas, but mostly he's earned the enmity of environmentalists. He even bragged to Politico about annoying and "irritating" environmentalists in Colorado. 

Ditching votes to avoid the difficult duty of picking sides isn't earning Pace any plaudits from either side.

Not only is Pace avoiding policy positions, but he's been avoiding the job he was hired to do by the people of Pueblo altogether. This week marks the second time the state's flagship newspaper has called him out for skipping votes to attend campaign fundraisers.

In January, Pace missed two days of votes in the House to attend Barack Obama's State of the Union and raise money from DC lobbyists. 

We know Pace badly wants to be a Member of Congress, but voters don't generally promote politicians who are failing in their current duties. Showing up and picking sides is half the battle in politics. In that regard, Pace has a long way to go before he can start measuring the drapes for his Capitol Hill office.