You know a negative narrative against a Democrat is sticking when even the liberal Colorado Public Radio is pressing him on it. In a revealing interview with Governor Hickenlooper today, CPR’s Ryan Warner pushes the governor to explain why he just can’t ever seem to make up his mind.
Warner: You made your first concrete statement of support for this approach to the tax behind closed doors. It was at a private event. Now I wonder if that tells us something about the intensity of your support for this?
Hickenlooper: Oh no. I think that, uh, I’m trying to look at what’s best for the state of Colorado long term, and as you know there have been a number of people pushing me to support various taxes over the years. This one is different in the sense that this is delivering what Secretary Arne Duncan, the Secretary of Education, said is the most comprehensive set of reforms in the history of the United States, right? This is going to set Colorado as the national model in public education.
Warner: To this idea of announcing your support at a private event, what we’re talking about there calls up something that your opponents, even some of your supporters say is a theme of your administration. And that is you avoid taking concrete positions until absolutely necessary. So you pass policies to reduce carbon emissions but you leave the door open to the idea that climate change isn’t caused by human activity. You postpone murderer Nathan Dunlap’s execution, but make it possible for a future governor to put him to death. What do you say about this perception of your leadership style?
Hickenlooper: They’re saying that I wait until to make a decision longer than they would wait?
Warner: Or that you take one that’s safely in the middle of the road.
Hickenlooper: I don’t think this decision is safely in the middle of the road. We’re talking about an income tax increase. This is gonna be a very difficult initiative to win. I think unfortunately it’s going to be very divisive for the state. People are going to get very involved. What’s indecisive about that? I mean you can argue I take too long to get to that decision but I don’t think that’s the case here. There’s four months until the election. I bet I talked to 100 people over the previous couple of months.
Two interesting admissions from Hickenlooper in this interview. One is that it’s a fair criticism that he takes (way) too long to make up his mind. The second being that the billion dollar tax increase will be “very divisive.”
We’re not sure what exactly he means by divisive, as the results of 2011’s tax hike campaign were among the biggest margins in recent Colorado history, with 2/3 of voters rejecting it. When is the last time a controversial issue in Colorado politics had the opposition of 2/3 of voters?
Well, other than the death penalty. (Quinnipiac found 67% of voters disapproved of Hickenlooper’s reprieve of Dunlap)
Which is what Hickenlooper probably means — supporting the tax hike will be divisive for his political prospects. No wonder he’s sticking to whispering about it in private settings.