Out of the worst legislative session we can remember there are more than a few losers to list. From gun control to driver’s licences for illegal immigrants, left-wing special interests drove an agenda that has been dubbed the “most liberal ever” by The Durango Herald‘s Joe Hanel.
Jobs legislation? House Speaker Mark Ferrandino told the Denver Business Journal‘s Ed Sealover there wasn’t any. Or rather, everything was a jobs bill, as the joke inside the Democratic caucus went.
We can’t think of a better way to encapsulate the legislative train wreck that the 2013 session was for the people of Colorado. Jobs were a joke and you have many of the losers below to thank for that.
1. Governor Hickenlooper: No one saw their political stock sink more than the heretofore popular governor. He went from likable moderate to loathed liberal in the span of only 120 days. As former Colorado Democratic Party Chairman and pollster Floyd Ciruli recently pointed out, Hick’s numbers among independent voters have taken on more water than the Titanic — going from 59-21 approve/disapprove in November to an upside down 40-48 in April.
While the Guv stood strong on energy development — his one saving grace in the session — he capitulated to left-wing interests on a host of other issues. Most damaging to Hick was his embrace of the controversial gun control legislation pushed through the legislature by Mayor Bloomberg’s lobbyist. Of all the gun control bills, Hick did the most damage to his reputation on the Mag Ban, as it was a poorly conceived piece of legislation that has driven hundreds, and potentially thousands, of jobs from the state.
2. Joe Salazar – Once rumored to have aspirations for higher office, the Thornton Democrat probably won’t rise much beyond the legislature after becoming a national embarrassment this past session. Touching the true third rail of politics – rape – Salazar made an unbelievably stupid comment when he suggested college women wouldn’t know when they’re about to be raped and might accidentally “pop off a round” at someone. He then went on to suggest that rape whistles and call boxes (which were removed from CU in 2011) would suffice to protect women.
It appears the only round popped off during the legislative session was Salazar’s own, straight at the heart of his political future.
3. Vast Left Wing Conspiracy – The left-wing Colorado Democracy Alliance (CODA) used to be a force to reckon with in Colorado politics, able to drive controversy and news coverage convenient for elected Democrats and left wing special interests. What happened?
Democratic mouthpiece Colorado Pols tried valiantly again and again to stoke controversy, but never was able to generate anything with legs. ProgressNow pushed out its steady stable of manufactured outrage press releases, but the press just wasn’t buying it. Gun control rallies were organized, professional staffer witnesses were lined up for hearings, but nothing much seemed to come of the left’s outside political operation.
It was fun watching them try, anyway.
4. Senator Jesse Ulibarri – Just like Joe Salazar, this Adams County Democrat found himself the target of mockery and condemnation after he suggested that ballpoint pens would suffice to stop a mass shooter.
Ulibarri’s “Bics for Peace” comment earned him a place among his Democratic peers, as those in great need of help with reforming their Google search results.
There was also the issue of Ulibarri’s previous scorched earth attacks on likely 6th Congressional District Democratic nominee, Andrew Romanoff. When Ulibarri was just a lowly political staffer he helped pen a Denver Post op-ed blasting Romanoff as having thrown Latinos “under the bus” when Romanoff was House Speaker. Even though Ulibarri has begrudgingly endorsed Romanoff’s bid this year, we don’t expect he’ll be the lead legislative surrogate anytime soon.
5. Senate President John Morse: The Senate President ended the session with probably the worst batting record for getting his bills passed of any legislative leader in modern times. As we noted in the Winners post, Morse was basically an irrelevant toady, with his #2 Senate Majority Leader Morgan Carroll driving the legislative agenda.
The Denver Post editorial board agrees, naming Morse to their Losers list, and so do thousands of Colorado Springs residents who have signed a recall petition to remove the Senate President from office.
Morse’s bill to allow the manufacturers, sellers and owners of guns deemed “assault” weapons to be sued for violence committed with the guns, even if they were sold or stolen, was so tone deaf even fellow Democrat Rep. Ed Vigil called it “crazy…absolutely nuts.” We agree.
The question now is will Morse survive the burgeoning recall attempt against him and make it to next session?
6. Senator Michael Johnston: From school choice hero to Just Another Tax Hiker, Johnston saw his rock solid credibility on education issues crumble. Previously beloved by supporters of education reform for his landmark SB191 in 2010 that reformed how teachers are evaluated, infuriating teachers unions in the process, Johnston decided to ditch the reformer label and become the public face for a coming campaign to hike taxes by over $1 billion in 2013.
It’s too bad Johnston would give up such a reputation all for a tax hike campaign destined to fail. A recent poll found that 55% of Coloradans are already opposed to raising taxes — a hint at the ballot measure’s near certain defeat.
It’s rare we lament the demise of a Democratic official’s reputation, but we had high hopes for Johnston. Why did you have to go and muck it up, Mikey?
7. Competent legislating – In a year of idiocracy, Democrats put ideology first and competency last when deciding who would run important committees and bills. From the infamous grilling of Rep. Rhonda Fields by 9News where it became clear she didn’t know jack about her own Mag Ban bill, to Lois Court chairing the House Finance Committee after admitting her and math “aren’t best friends“, it was a legislative session defined more about what legislators didn’t know than what they did.
Thankfully, Rep. Mike Foote’s attempt to codify this lack of competency on the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC), by banning members of the oil and gas industry from serving on the board, was blocked by Governor Hickenlooper and full throated opposition by the business community.
8. Gun Rights: With a slew of Bloomberg-backed legislation aimed at curtailing gun rights, supporters of the 2nd Amendment were hardest hit this session. Whether it was a bill aimed at banning magazines over 15 rounds or a bill making it illegal to loan a gun to a friend for more than 72 hours, gun rights were in the sights of Colorado Democrats.
While gun rights were the losers of the legislative session, the legislators who pushed these bills may be the ultimate losers. First-term Rep. Mike McLachlan, who helped take the lead on the Mag Ban, is already seen as a sure loser in 2014, if not before. Recall campaigns have been initiated against McLachlan and Senators Morse and Hudak.