Elections, Featured, Peter Blake, Politics

Blake: Candidates swap scripts in ‘silly season’ of political ads

Sometimes it looks as though Colorado’s top federal candidates have gotten mixed up and started reading from each other’s TV-ad scripts.

Consider Democrat Andrew Romanoff, a Denverite who rode his magic carpetbag to the vulnerable-looking 6th District in order to run for Congress. He’s seen strolling along a bike path, bragging about how the Colorado House always balanced the budget when he was speaker. “It’s not like we had a choice,” he concedes. “Out here balancing the budget is the law,” and “it ought to be the law in Washington too.” (Don’t look for Nancy Pelosi to help him with that bill.)

Isn’t it Republican incumbent Mike Coffman who supports, at least nominally, a federal balanced-budget amendment? He is indeed a member of the balanced-budget caucus but hasn’t been promoting it. Instead Coffman, a former soldier and marine, is seen bragging about how he “bucked his own party” to help pass then Sen. Joe Biden’s Violence Against Women Act.

In the Senate race, challenger Cory Gardner is pictured walking beneath the towers of a wind farm, asking rhetorically what “a Republican like me” is doing at such a place.

“Supporting the next generation, that’s what,” he says. He goes on to claim he “co-wrote the law to launch our state’s green energy industry” — a law not identified in a screen caption. Apparently he is referring to 2007’s HB 1150, which established the Clean Energy Development Authority. It turned out not to work and was abandoned a few years later.

icon_op_edThough alternative energy is primarily a Democratic cause, wind energy has also been a rural Republican issue, starting with former Colorado House Speaker Lola Spradley a decade ago. Not so much because wind power produces less carbon dioxide but because she thought the subsidized rent paid by owners of wind turbines on ranch land would help her rural constituents. Her bills failed, but she led the successful drive to pass Amendment 37 in 2004. It established the first, low minimums for alternative energy — and it was the last time the people got to vote on them.

Incumbent Democratic Sen. Mark Udall, meanwhile, is trying to sound like some sort of libertarian. Udall, of course, was a crucial vote in the passage of Obamacare, which requires every American to purchase health insurance whether they want to or need to or not. But now he says in an ad that Coloradans should have “the freedom to make our own choice, to live life on our own terms.” Being an individual, he continues, means that “no one — not government, not Washington — no one should have the power to take those rights and freedoms away.”

Was he really referring only to a woman’s right to an abortion? It doesn’t say that. Watch out, Rand Paul! Here comes Mark Udall.

The strangest ad of all, perhaps, is Gardner’s explanation of “the difference” between him and Udall. “I believe the Pill ought to be available over the counter and around the clock, without a prescription, cheaper and easier for you,” he says. But Udall’s plan is “to keep government bureaucrats between you and your health care plan,” which means “more politics and more profits for the drug companies.”

Apparently Gardner believes that the best defense is a good offense, because he’s been under fire in TV ads sponsored by the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, NARAL and MoveOn.org — and Udall himself — for his support of strict anti-abortion and “personhood” laws.

The Udall ad claimed Gardner “led a crusade” that would make birth control illegal. It says he “sponsored” a bill that would make abortion a felony, even in cases of rape and incest.”

Co-sponsored, actually. The bill cited in the ad caption is SB07-143, which was actually sponsored by Sen. Scott Renfroe, R-Greeley, and Rep. Kent Lambert, R-Colorado Springs. It died in the first Senate committee and never got to the House, but there’s Gardner’s name as a co-sponsor atop the bill as introduced.

He has reason to be worried, since it is generally understood that Sen. Michael Bennet’s defeat of Republican Ken Buck in 2010 could be blamed on Buck’s ability to offend women. The Democrats have long successfully exploited the abortion issue and though a strong stand against it may have helped many Republicans win primary races, it has come back to unhorse them in the general election.

Footnote: After running his ad promoting a balanced budget, Romanoff reverted to form and put up another ad promoting more Pell Grants and student loans “with interest rates middle-class families can actually afford.”

Interest rates on federal student loans are already below market rates and the more grants and loans are made available, the faster colleges raise tuition rates. It’s a never-ending cycle. But help with loans is a traditional Democratic selling point.

And where would the money come from to make student aid available? Why, by ending tax breaks to “millionaires and big oil companies.” Obviously, Romanoff’s fling with Republican issues like a balanced budget amendment was a one-time aberration.

Longtime Rocky Mountain News political columnist Peter Blake now writes Thursdays for CompleteColorado.com. Contact him at pblake0705@comcast.net You may re-publish his work at no charge and without further permission; please give full credit to Peter Blake and www.CompleteColorado.com.

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