Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Delphi on Colorado: State Senate Leadership.

Today marks the first time since Kennedy was President that Democrats have control over both houses of Colorado's legislature. A link to the Rocky Mountain news is available here. As the state legislature opens, we can look forward to a colorful session. Tabor, the nationally known Taxpayers Bill of Rights, is sure to come under direct attack, not only by the Democratic majority, but by Higher Ed. and the AARP. Additionally, we will get the pleasure of watching infighting in both parties.

On the Democratic side: Colorado Labor Unions staged a rally today at the capital to announce exactly what they want from the Democrats, who, while they may not have signed IOUs, certainly owe Colorado Labor for their victory last election cycle. Key members of the Colorado Democratic party believe that if they play the "fiscal responsibility" card they can maintain their majorities in Colorado, a state where even as the GOP lost its majorities in the state legislature, it received tens of thousands more votes than the Democrats overall. This attempt by the Democratic leadership to stay away from "social issues" will sting the party faithful, who are already calling the historic Democratic victory a win for "GOP Lite."

Republicans are having some difficult times themselves. Immediately after their loss they chose new, more moderate leaders. However, this belies a civil war that is occurring in the party. An example of this is a open letter from the Chairman of the Jefferson County GOP to Bob Schaffer over a mailing that Schaffer sent out during the general election which probably cost a moderate Republican her seat. And how can we ignore the three ring circus that is Douglas Bruce's election to the El Paso County Commissioners.

Here is a look at the new leadership of the Colorado State Senate.

State Senate President Joan Fitz-Gerald (D) Golden, a social and fiscal liberal from New York, is the first female President of the State Senate.

The fiscally conservative Colorado Union of Taxpayers ranks Senator Fitz-Gerald as the 8th most fiscally liberal member of the State Senate. This is a special achievement since some Democrats, such as Paula Sandoval of Denver and Bob Hagedorn or Aurora are ranked as the 5th and 7th most conservative members of the State Senate (sandwiching outgoing Senate President John Andrews). In 2002 she voted with the Colorado Farm Bureau 75% of the time. In 2004 she received a A rating from the Colorado Political Voice for Animals. Also in 2004 she voted with the Colorado PIRG 100% of the time (if you aren’t familiar with the work of the state PIRGs, think of Ralph Nader), voted with the Colorado National Federation of Independent Business 41% of the time, voted with Equal Rights Colorado 100 % of the time, voted with Colorado Conservation Voters 100% of the time, voted with Colorado Women's Agenda 100% of the time, voted with Rocky Mountain Gun Owners 0% of the time in 2003 and got a grade of an F from the NRA in 2002. Going farther back she voted with the Colorado AFL-CIO 100% of the time in 2001. For a link to project vote smart’s group rating page click here. Overall, Senator Fitz-Gerald’s liberal pedigree is impeccable. In 2004 the most generally conservative think tank in Colorado, the Wilberforce Center, ranked Joan Fitz-Gerald the second most liberal member of the Colorado State Senate, behind only Ron Tupa (D) of Boulder.

Senator Ken Gordon, considered a moderate by many, has voting patterns that make him appear to be a mainstream to liberal Democrat, not a moderate.

The fiscally conservative Colorado Union of Taxpayers ranks Senator Gordon in the middle of the pack in the State Senate. In 2002 he voted with the Colorado Farm Bureau 80% of the time. In 2004 he received a A- rating from the Colorado Political Voice for Animals. Also in 2004 he voted with the Colorado PIRG 100% of the time, voted with the Colorado National Federation of Independent Business 41% of the time, voted with Equal Rights Colorado 100% of the time, voted with Colorado Conservation Voters 100% of the time, voted with Colorado Women's Agenda 100% of the time, voted with Rocky Mountain Gun Owners 0% of the time in 2003 and got a grade of an F from the NRA in 2004. Going farther back he voted with the Colorado AFL-CIO 100% of the time in 2001. Overall, it is hard to call Senator Gordon a moderate in a true sense of the word. However, in the more narrow context of among Democrats, he does appear to be mainstream. For those keeping count on how liberal this "mainstream" Democrat is, he is ranked fourth most liberal member of the State Senate by the Wilberforce Center.

This is the first in a series of articles looking at the State Legislature and how the mainstream media portrays it. Look for an in depth analysis of how the election was won in the coming weeks.

Cross posted at Polstate.

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