I have visited Republican candidates and officeholders from many parts of the Front Range. Here's what I heard and saw. (No names. The “quotes” just catch the flavor of their thinking.)
- Military time in the Middle East gave one candidate a 'gotta do' attitude toward tackling problems. Everything he says (including stuff from well before he was a candidate; I checked) clearly comes from his heart.
- One newly elected official reported saving $100,000 the first year in office. Commonsense and enlisting employees in the goal of improving efficiency did the job.
- One candidate saw the government's contracting system as impenetrable, slanted in favor of old time buddies and big corporations (smells graft-y to me), not small businesses. Result? Fire in the belly to clean things up.
- Another businessperson-candidate told the company's tax accountant, “I made a profit this year, despite the economy. That profit will hire a new person.” Accountant: “Don't spend that money until we see your tax bill.” Result? Taxes ate the new job. This candidate: “Let me spend that money to hire a new person. Wouldn't that be better for our economy, since a new worker will pay taxes and get off the unemployment rolls?” He wants a no-tax dollar version of the German kurzarbeit plan that helped Germany keep workers working in this Great Recession.
- Another candidate thinks there's a way to bridge the divide between high-subsidy alternative energy and an overly hampered traditional energy economy. This candidate has expertise, so maybe lower energy costs and less cronyism might result.
- A longtime pol said, “The issue isn't cutting government in these tough times; we do that because there's no choice. The real issue? Stretch our dollars and do better with less.” [Republican bellyaching isn't enough; voters want government fixed, not abolished.]
- More than one candidate points to the lack of progress by schools. Funding bureacracies hasn't worked. They want to experiment with some new ideas, not fight the same old battles between far left and far right.
- More than one candidate grumbles over higher ed's tuition hoggishness and empire building. When our nation's future depends on a highly educated workforce, how can we accept tuition hikes well above what families can afford, they ask. Doesn't it destroy our future?
- Then there's the candidate who modus operandi is to build out from the ideological middle, not in from the far right or left. [The middle is missing from the political spectrum nowadays.]
Isn't what I've heard in recent months just the recipe to jump start Colorado's economy? I've not seen this level of new-thinking Republicans since the late 70s and early 80s when Coloradans helped lead the Reagan Revolution. I am encouraged.
My advice to Republicans: Go out and find one of these new leaders in your own backyard and help them win in November.