31 Jul 2018

Election 2018 – Danger Dead Ahead

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There are multitudes of reasons to dread elections – volumes of drek flooding the mailbox, tiresome palaver on television in ads and debates, dreary candidates, unsavory choices, endless telephone solicitations and so many more.

There is the occasional amusing diversion – candidate peccadilloes, debate missteps such as Rick Perry disremembering the departments he would eliminate, Obama’s 57 states and Al Gore’s memorable “lockbox,” to name only a few.  But mostly it’s the shrillness, the hectoring, outright lies and purposeful misdirection that gall the electorate.

Rarely is the anger at candidates and the process supplanted by real fear.  The upcoming gubernatorial election in Colorado is cause for real fear in the state business community…and longtime conservative residents, including and especially the PolicySmith.

Colorado has had its share of incompetents, goofs and self-promoters reside in the Governor’s Mansion.  One led the effort to kill Denver’s hosting of the winter Olympics, another created a cushy job for himself at one of the state institutions of higher learning, another was caught groping and bussing an aide in a car while traveling on “official” (monkey?) business out of state.

Now comes a self-made multi-millionaire who has essentially self-funded all his campaigns from state board of education to winning a congressional seat and now to garner the Democrat nomination for Colorado’s Governor.  To boot, he’s running against a Republican nominee with a DUI citation and evidence of questionable judgment relating to his actions in that incident.

Concerns about Republican candidate Walker Stapleton pale beside the attacks that will be visited upon Colorado’s thriving oil and gas development.  Polis endorsed the anti-industry message of Gasland director Josh Fox by appearing with him at a press conference.  He personally funded a 2014 ballot initiative that would have killed most of the drilling activity in the state.  He dropped that effort reportedly under pressure from his party leadership in Washington and Governor Hickenlooper, who was up for re-election that year. The measures would have put the governor’s support for oil and gas development at odds with the majority of his party’s electorate.

As Polis aims for the Governorship, the walk backwards has begun.  His early campaign promised 100 percent renewable energy for the state by 2040.  Such a promise is impossible to keep without essentially bankrupting the state.  An independent study calculates the cost of this pipe dream at $8000 for every man woman and child in the state, not including land acquisition costs…and the legal challenges certain to follow.  Mr. Polis attempted to assuage concerns by telling a business audience that he only meant the electric grid.

The latest stepping up is the less-than-inspiring Democrat Sen. Michael Bennet to explain the Polis candidacy and how it will benefit the state.  An interesting footnote to Mr. Bennet’s credibility relates to his tenure as Superintendent of Denver Public Schools.  Now retiring superintendent Tom Boasberg characterized the administration and condition of the public schools he inherited from Bennet as a disaster and “in chaos.”

Sen. Bennet sat for an interview with Columbia Energy Exchange wherein he was quoted as touting “Colorado’s common sense and pragmatic approach to issues of environmental stewardship.”  He did not address the Colorado Democrat Party endorsement of a proposed ballot initiative that would eliminate more than 85 percent of state’s non-federal acreage from oil and gas development.

Instead, he provided this gem of obfuscation –

“…I think people can have principled disagreements about these kinds of things.  For policymakers and for political leaders, the question then is how you marshal the interests of a wide variety of people and try to move us in the direction that I mentioned earlier which is in a way that makes sense for economy and way that makes sense for our climate and way that makes sense for national security.  And I think those principles are still the ones that are at work whether Jared Polis was nominated for governor or whether not, and I suspect they will still be in place if he gets elected.”

Good luck making sense out of that, Colorado.  Or anyone else for that matter.

Bennet continued with his belief that there is a bipartisan consensus to be met in a manner that both addresses environmental concerns but also helps drive economic growth –

“In Colorado…there is a consensus that this is achievable we can drive jobs and wages, we can do it in a sustainable way that deals with climate, and we can also benefit from our independence in energy at the same time.  That consensus for reasons we can talk about, gets destroyed on the way to Washington, D.C., and that’s one of the things we need to fix in our policy.”

It could be entertaining, if it were possible, to hear other Coloradans hold forth of this imagined “consensus.”  It is nowhere to be found other than in Sen. Bennet’s fantasy.

Reality and facts are hard things to escape.  Polis is backed by his own wealth and a reported “$600,000 Sierra Club campaign.”  He boasts that he is not accepting donations of more than $100 – though his primary campaign expenditures are pegged at somewhere in the $11-14 million range, with more to go out the door in the general election.  At times he has sided with groups and efforts opposing fracking.  And he reversed course when in 2017 he lauded the state’s “robust energy sector, touting “oil and gas” and “the next generation of and future advances in oil and gas extraction.”

Colorado cannot afford to sacrifice its vital oil and gas industry and related interests on the altar of enviro fantasies and would-be climate saviors.  The cynicism inherent in mixed messages before different audiences, and in the misdirection and opacity of statements on critical issues is fair warning.  There is danger in this Polis candidacy.  His election threatens Colorado’s tax base, its prosperity and long-term fiscal health.  If he is elected, and his platform enacted, the salad days in the Centennial State will end and the bitter harvest of tax-and-spend, stagnant states (see Illinois, Connecticut, New Jersey, et al.) will take root.

Danger!  Dead ahead…


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