It’s the moment we’ve all been waiting for — the throw down between the Democrats’ hard-line liberals and Governor Hickenlooper, who has always tried to personify the picture of cautious moderation.

And we’re hearing union giveaways are likely to be one of those legislative cage matches, pitting union stooges like State Senators Andy Kerr and Evie Hudak against Hickenlooper.

This week, the Democrat-controlled Senate will be taking up a union priority in a bill that would force local governments to give firefighters collective bargaining rights.

Reports the AP‘s Kristen Wyatt:

DENVER—A looming bill on firefighters and labor rights could expose cracks in the unified Democratic front controlling Colorado government. 

A Senate committee planned to begin work Wednesday on a bill that would allow collective bargaining for Colorado firefighters without local government approval. The measure has been a long-stalled priority for labor groups. But it’s strongly opposed by local governments that say the state shouldn’t be able to overstep local labor ordinances.

…This year, it’s far from certain whether all Democrats or the current Democratic governor will support the idea. Even the measure’s sponsor isn’t sure—and she leads the committee that will give it an initial hearing.

Democratic Sen. Lois Tochtrop of Thornton sponsored the 2009 version and said it’s too soon to say whether her fellow Democrats support it.

Sources in the know tell us that Governor Hickenlooper’s plan to seek distance from the now left-wing Legislature, while not fully alienating his own base, is to sign off on most of their priorities: civil unions, in-state tuition for children of illegal immigrants, some type of gun control, but seek to draw the line on labor unions.

As Governor Hickenlooper is well known for not rocking the boat too much by throwing his weight only behind proposals that have a healthy majority support in polling, it’s not a surprise that the Guv would choose unions as his triangulation point.

Unions are simply not popular in Colorado. They lose a lot of local initiatives intended to strengthen their hand politically. In Ft. Collins, for example, public employees have tried three times to get collective bargaining passed by ballot initiative, and thrice they’ve failed. When Governor Ritter basically unionized state employees he wouldn’t even run it by the Legislature, instead choosing unilateral executive action.

Mark our words: liberals may get Hick’s signature on a lot of their priorities, but we doubt unions will be among the big beneficiaries. Hick needs at least some daylight between him and the hard left to continue playing the moderate.

Hopefully Hudak will take the defeat graciously, as without Governor Hickenlooper’s help, there would be a former in front of her title.