Perhaps the criticism from those who support victims’ rights and/or the death penalty following Colorado’s Democratic Governor John Hickenlooper’s decision to grant clemency (sort of) to Chuck E. Cheese killer Nathan Dunlap shouldn’t come as a surprise.  But Hick might have issues when the former chairman of the Colorado Democratic Party, pollster Floyd Ciruli, adds his own critique and prediction that Hick will “pay a political price”.  From Ciruli’s own blog post last night:

“The reprieve approach, combined with his explanation, sounded confused. He apparently has ‘evolved’ to being anti-death penalty. Why not just say it and provide clemency? Hickenlooper claimed during his gubernatorial campaign in 2010 to be willing to enforce the death penalty. So, this decision makes him vulnerable to the charge of failing to keep a promise – a trait politicians are often accused of, and Hickenlooper hates to be considered just another politician.”

We couldn’t have said it better ourselves.  But, Ciruli is right.  His temporary reprieve, like so many of his “complex policy decisions” (if that’s what we’re calling them now) sounded muddled.  And, as Ciruli correctly points out, the death penalty is popular:

“Hickenlooper recognized Colorado voters had approved it twice and national polls repeatedly show it has more than 60 percent support from the public.”

In Colorado, support for the death penalty is even higher.  The Colorado Observer reported on a December 2012 poll by Dave Sackett’s The Tarrance Group, which polled the Centennial State about the controversial issue:

“…a whopping 68 percent of poll respondents saying they oppose abolishing the death penalty in Colorado, compared to just 27 percent who said they favored an end to capital punishment.”

Drilling down into the poll, The Tarrance Group uncovered sentiment specifically about Dunlap:

“Support for the death penalty jumped to 69 percent when respondents were told that abolishing the death penalty could lead to overturning Nathan Dunlap’s convictions for the grisly 1996 murders of four Denver-area Chuck E. Cheese restaurant employees.”

The problem with Hick’s approach to this, as well as other controversial issues (ahem, gun control), is that he thinks by explaining or taking (what he perceives to be) the middle road, he will seem reasoned.  The truth is that the actions themselves speak so loudly that the din drowns out the accompanying explanation crafted by his team.  The Governor ought to use his pulpit to rail for the little guy, in this case, the victims’ families.  Instead, he stands up for a killer, a member of his staff, and his liberal base.  Coloradans get it, no explanation needed.