Friday, July 25, 2008

Honey Moon for Colorado Governor Bill Ritter Seems to be Over.

The Democratic party has had a remarkable rise in Colorado. In 2002 the GOP held both houses of the State Legislature, the Governor's office, five out of seven US House Seats and both Senate Seats. Today the Colorado Republican party has lost two of its five US House Seats, a Senate Seat, the Governor's mansion and both houses of the State Legislature. It looked like the DNC convention scheduled for late August in Denver was going to be the crowning moment of the new Democratic alignment.

However, over the past few days a few news stories have come out that suggest that the Democratic hold on Colorado may be more tenuous than anyone would have thought a few weeks ago. A new Rasmussen Reports poll shows that the percentage of Coloradans that rate Governor Bill Ritter as either doing a "good" or "excellent" job has slipped by 13 points since May. The poll seems to be flawed in that it doesn't just ask if you approve or disapprove of the Governor's job. Instead it had many more options. The analysis from later in the Denver Post story seems to have captured more of what is going on in Colorado.

He has become a more partisan-appearing figure," Ciruli (a Denver based Pollster and Political Analyst) said of Ritter. "He (was elected) over (Republican Bob) Beauprez with a very significant amount of Republican support and a strong number of unaffiliated voters. He appeared at that time to be more conservative and not so controversial."
Ciruli said Ritter's efforts to give collective-bargaining rights to state employees stoked opposition among Republicans in particular.
The governor's standing, Ciruli said, also suffered when a district judge this year ruled a Ritter-backed property-tax freeze unconstitutional. The ruling is being appealed.
Ritter also has faced pushback over his support for eliminating a tax break for the oil and gas industry and over his support for restrictions on expanding oil and gas development, Ciruli said.
His policies aside, Ritter's lower poll numbers this summer also may reflect a general unease among voters in a time of rising gasoline and food prices, Ciruli said.
"One of the factors is that even in Colorado, which to some extent has been immune to the repercussions of the declining economy, it's finally caught up to us," he said.

In a Op-Ed piece from earlier this week Ciruli outlined how significantly Ritter's polling drop is:

Surprisingly, new Democratic Gov. Bill Ritter may be in trouble. When compared with his Montana counterpart, Gov. Brian Schweitzer, in recent Rasmussen polls, Ritter's job rating lags behind Schweitzer by 19 points. Only 45 percent of Colorado voters gave Ritter an excellent or good job rating, whereas 64 percent of Montanans rated Schweitzer as doing an excellent or good job.

On top of all of this the State Democrats have to deal with rising scandals associated with the Democratic National Convention in Denver. Security concerns have become a giant head ache. Additionally, a scandal over the DNC not paying gas taxes hit this week.

Members of the committee hosting the Democratic National Convention are filling their car gas tanks at city-owned gas pumps, avoiding state and federal fuel taxes.

Even the Denver Post's left center Op Ed page chastised the apparent no tax deal for the DNC.

So, let's get this straight: While the rest of us poor schlubs have been grimacing as we put $4 a gallon gas into our cars, local organizers of the Democratic National Convention have been pumping tax-free gas into theirs?
That's just wrong. The local committee hosting the DNC ought to pay the same state and federal taxes — which amount to 40 cents a gallon — that the rest of us pay.
The disclosure came at a regular Denver City Council meeting Tuesday, and by the end of the day it seemed that everyone involved was quickly backpedaling and promising that local organizers indeed would be paying taxes on gas.
Good. But the larger issue, of course, is whether and how taxpayers might find themselves subsidizing the DNC.,,

As for the gas situation, we've heard it was an effort to give local DNC organizers a secure place to fill up, a concern should they have dignitaries in the car.
That sounds like a stretch. If you're ferrying some Democratic hotshot from the airport to a hotel, wouldn't you fill up first? It doesn't seem plausible that you'd take such a guest by the city yards to tank up.
A host committee spokesman told the Rocky Mountain News that they used city pumps because it's safer and the gas isn't "tainted."

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