Governor Hickenlooper has been successful at remaining popular in part because he refuses to be boxed into one partisan tent, endorsing Obama while at the same time expressing his undying love of fracking. That strategy of triangulation looks set to be enacted again — this time using the much-loathed unions to further burnish his pro-business credentials. 

Today, the State Senate passed a bill that would give firefighter unions the right of collective bargaining statewide, even if voters in their municipality have rejected such a union giveaway.

Reports The Denver Post‘s Tim Hoover:

The Colorado Senate gave initial approval Monday to a Democratic bill expanding unionization rights for firefighters – legislation virtually the same as a bill vetoed four years earlier under a Democratic governor.

Senate Bill 25 would go beyond existing law, which now allows firefighters to form collective bargaining units if local voters or elected officials have given them that right. 

Under the legislation, sponsored by Sen. Lois Tochtrop, D-Thornton, firefighters would be allowed to form bargaining units if a majority of the firefighters voted to unionize.

The fact that then Gov. Bill Ritter spiked the bill in 2009 was one of the key arguments advanced by Republicans who opposed the bill. Gov. John Hickenlooper, also a Democrat, has not indicated whether he will support the bill.

As we noted a few weeks ago, this bill looks to be one of the first opportunities for Guv Hick to create some daylight between himself and the far-left leadership in the State Legislature.

Hick has said repeatedly that making Colorado more pro-business is one of his top priorities. Vetoing a union giveaway bill would be a great chance to do so.

Considering former one-term governor Bill Ritter vetoed virtually the exact same bill — and Ritter was far more pro-union than Hickenlooper — this shouldn’t be a hard decision for Hickelooper.

He could even cite some Democratic lawmakers who have expressed concerns about the legislation, such as State Senator Gail Schwartz, who criticized the bill for providing collective bargaining to departments with as few as two employees.

What we want to know is — will any of the union stooges under the Gold Dome trash Hickenlooper’s likely veto on the record? Will there be party unity or will some Democrats put their principle of union support over their partisan role?