Let’s go, Nuggets!
One of the most uneventful Denver elections in recent memory wrapped up yesterday. Daniel J. Chacon of the Rocky Mountain News runs down the results:
Mayor John Hickenlooper won re-election outright Tuesday, sailing toward a second term with a staggering number of votes.
“The fact is, no matter what came at us, we never quit,” he said. “We always worked hard. We tried to always tell the truth. And I think people care about that.”
In the race for the city’s first elected clerk and recorder, voters overwhelmingly chose Stephanie O’Malley, daughter of former Mayor Wellington Webb.
Incumbents fared well Tuesday.
Auditor Dennis Gallagher trounced opponent Bill Wells.
City Council members Marcia Johnson, Peggy Lehmann and Judy Montero won handily.
Councilman Doug Linkhart topped the three-way race for the two at-large council seats.
The other at-large incumbent, Carol Boigon, was leading challenger Carol E. Campbell for the second seat.
The Rocky Mountain News has a full list of results, including an overwhelming victory for the only ballot measure, Referred Question 1A (extending term limits for the Denver District Attorney). Three city council races will head for a June 5 runoff because no candidate received at least 50 percent of the vote. They are:
Paul Lopez (45.7%)
JoAnn Phillips (15.3%)
Chris Nevitt (46.9%)
Shelly Watters (27.4%)
Sharon Bailey (36.3%)
Carla Madison (28.6%)
Republicans have been busy calling Gov. Bill Ritter’s plan to freeze property tax rates in order to fund public schools a “tax increase,” even though it doesn’t, you know, actually raise taxes. Senate Minority Leader Andy McElhany has been leading the charge on the “tax increase” drumbeat, even though many Republicans approved THE VERY SAME PROPOSAL two years ago. As Mark Couch of The Denver Post reports:
Gov. Bill Ritter’s proposal to freeze property-tax rates to benefit public schools squeaked through the Senate on Tuesday – setting the stage for a legal challenge by Republicans who consider the measure a tax increase.
The proposal – the biggest and most controversial policy initiative from Ritter’s office during his first legislative session – calls for locking most school districts’ property-tax rates at current levels.
Statehouse Republicans protested that the freeze is a stealth tax increase because it eliminates automatic tax cuts caused by constitutional limits on revenue. State GOP chairman Dick Wadhams has vowed to use the matter as an election issue in 2008…
…Sen. Chris Romer, D-Denver, pointed out that Republicans spawned the property-tax idea in 2004 and said that four previous supporters were still in the chamber.
In 2004, Sens. Johnson, Ken Kester of Las Animas, Ron May of Colorado Springs and Jack Taylor of Steamboat Springs voted for a school finance act that included a similar provision. All were no votes Tuesday.
Senate Minority Leader Andy McElhany, R-Colorado Springs, dismissed those concerns.
“The worst they can be accused of is that they voted for a bill they didn’t understand,” he said.
Seriously, that’s your response? Republicans voted for it two years ago, but “they didn’t understand.”
This, my friends, has been political opportunism at its very worst. If you think it can make the Democrats look bad, you change your mind and say that you just didn’t understand what you were doing when you voted for it before.
President Bush on Tuesday vetoed a war funding bill that included a timeline for a troop withdrawal. As The Washington Post reports:
President Bush vetoed a $124 billion measure yesterday that would have funded overseas military operations but required him to begin withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq as early as July, escalating the most serious confrontation between the White House and Congress over war policy in a generation.
Bush carried through on his veto threat just after the legislation arrived at the White House, calling the timetable a “prescription for chaos and confusion” that would undercut generals. “Setting a deadline for withdrawal would demoralize the Iraqi people, would encourage killers across the broader Middle East and send a signal that America will not keep its commitments,” he said last night. “Setting a deadline for withdrawal is setting a date for failure.”
Democratic congressional leaders cast the veto as willful defiance of the American people. “The president wants a blank check,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) said just minutes after Bush’s statement. “The Congress is not going to give it to him.” Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (Nev.) said that “if the president thinks that by vetoing this bill he will stop us from trying to change the direction of this war, he is mistaken.”
The clash harked back to the debates of the Vietnam War era, when lawmakers likewise tried to use the power of the purse to end an unpopular conflict.
Since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, the government has allocated about $503 billion for Iraq, Afghanistan and anti-terrorism operations — with about 70 percent going to the war in Iraq, according to the Congressional Budget Office. Bush has asked for an additional $245 billion for war spending, including the $100 billion in the emergency supplemental bill now at issue.
A demonstration in support of illegal immigration reforms drew substantially fewer people yesterday than just one year ago. As Jeff Kass and Rosa Ramirez of the Rocky Mountain News were there:
Some demonstrators wrapped themselves in Mexican or American flags and chanted in English and Spanish. One banged a plastic bucket like a drum, while another tooted a trumpet.
They were among the thousands of people who marched Tuesday through downtown Denver to call for an end to immigration raids and a path to legal status for the estimated 12 million people in the U.S. illegally. Marches also were held in several other cities.
Students, families and groups of teenagers started the Denver march at 10:30 a.m. in Lincoln Park just outside downtown. They snaked through the city, passing by the Capitol, downtown business district and LoDo in a 2 1/2-hour march that was a mixture of protest and pride.
Denver Police spokesman Sonny Jackson said no major incidents were reported. He estimated the number of marchers at up to 2,000, but event coordinator Julien Ross said 10,000 was a more accurate number.
The turnout wasn’t anywhere close to that of last May 1, when an estimated 75,000 people gathered in Denver to support immigration reforms. Organizers of Tuesday’s march said high-profile raids by immigration agents and Colorado’s recent effort to toughen state immigration laws have worked to discourage open displays of dissent.
At least half of the people in the crowd appeared to be of school age, such as 16-year-old Maria Ramirez, who said she should have been in class at Thornton High but wanted to support Mexican-Americans like her brother, who had served as a Marine in Iraq.
There’s a big difference between 2,000 and 10,000 people, but earlier reports yesterday estimated the size of the crowd to be only in the hundreds, so it may be more accurate to lean to the smaller side.
The Denver Post runs down some of the action yesterday in the state legislature:
House OKs sex-bias prohibition
After emotional debate, the House passed a bill 42-18 that would prohibit workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation.
Rep. Debbie Stafford, R-Aurora, ended up voting for Senate Bill 25 after weeping at the microphone talking about her religious beliefs.
Rep. Al White of Winter Park was another Republican who supported the measure. It now returns to the Senate…
…Absentee-ballot bill clears hurdle
The House gave initial passage to a measure that would give voters the option of having permanent absentee-ballot status.
Under Senate Bill 234, voters who want to mail in their ballots would not have to sign up each year for an absentee ballot.
The measure needs final approval in the House before going to the governor…
…Presidential-caucus bill in Senate
The Colorado House approved and sent to the Senate a plan to move the state’s presidential caucuses from March to Feb. 5 along with several other states, hoping to cash in on the national attention it would bring from candidates.
House Bill 1376 would allow political parties to decide whether to move the caucuses from the third Tuesday in March to the first Tuesday in February during presidential election years.
Officials in Larimer County are looking to follow Denver’s lead of an all mail-ballot election in 2007 (yesterday’s city election in Denver was mail ballot-only). As Kevin Duggan of The Fort Collins Coloradoan reports:
In hopes of saving money for next year’s election, Larimer County officials plan to conduct the November election with a mail-in ballot.
The county commissioners gave their approval Tuesday to County Clerk Scott Doyle’s request to conduct a mail-in election, the first for the county since 2001.
Voter turnout that year was 34 percent, according to county records.
A mail-in election would cost between $400,000 and $500,000, Doyle told the commissioners. The county has budgeted about $806,000 for the election.
The savings would be rolled over to next year when primary and general elections are likely to cost about $3 million, Doyle said. The 2008 elections will include high-profile races for president and the U.S. Senate.
State law permits mail-in election in “off-year” elections, Doyle said.