The power of incumbency.
Not only do you get to attend ribbon cuttings in your official capacity as governor, but by doing so you also get the chance to subtly remind people that changing horses in midstream is always difficult and precarious. Political challengers who aren’t incumbents attend a lot of rubber-chicken dinners, but not many ribbon cuttings.
Conveniently, you also have the power in hand to tilt the tables in the next election in your direction.
The latest polls show incredibly tight races in the governor and U.S. Senate contests, but truth is, without being able to clear the field of troublesome issues, Colorado Democrats would be staring up from a deep hole, with little chance of crawling out.
It’s worth remembering all the Democrats have done to keep their political fortunes even viable at this point.
First, in June, backers of an initiative that would have banned concealed carry weapons from college campuses dropped their efforts voluntarily – even though they clearly were going to make the ballot. No need infuriating 2nd Amendment voters. Leave the question off and (from the Dems’ point of view) hopefully that will depress their turnout, and depress the anti-Hickenlooper votes that come with.
Have backers of any of the sundry “Personhood” amendments or bills ever exhibited such political understanding to their allies? Don’t be silly.
Second, as we’re all too familiar from the post-session wrangling, Democrats avoided having oil and gas interests pour untold millions into TV ads on the Jared Polis anti-fracking measures. Instead of ballot measures, we now have the Hickenlooper-Polis Oil and Gas “Task Force.” As Valerie Richardson recently reported for Complete Colorado, “…Denver pollster Floyd Ciruli says the panel achieves two critical goals for Hickenlooper: It reinforces his brand as a centrist who can deliver the tough compromise, and it eliminates a fractious election-year battle over hydraulic fracturing that had threatened to divide Democrats and hobble his candidacy, as well as the bids of other top Democrats like Sen. Mark Udall.”
Finally, don’t forget ObamaCare. Democrats love to tell you that your previous insurance plan was substandard, and the great benefit of ObamaCare is that it has numerous mandates that create a bedrock of coverage. BUT! The Hickenlooper administration – along with Senator Mark Udall – decided your substandard plan could be sold just one more year to smooth the transition.
Frankly, I think the administration – Hickenlooper and the state Division of Insurance (DOI) – broke the law by allowing these plans to be sold. But as long as the mainstream media doesn’t kick up a fuss (do they even understand the issue?), then the scheming is worth it. Udall certainly couldn’t handle another wave of policy cancellations, and as long as people renew their non-ACA compliant plan, we can keep steep double digit premium increases at bay until 2015.
By Mark Udall’s calculus, will policy cancellations and premium increases next year threaten a re-election bid in 2020? Probably not, but with the polls this close in 2014, it was worth the DOI breaking the law to find out.
Republicans who don’t like it should look hard and long at their willingness to compromise on their side of the aisle, especially in primary season. To the winner go the spoils, including having the power to tilt the ballot in your favor. Purity tests on candidates always make us feel principled, but the first principle of politics is win first, quibble later. And people who don’t understand the first principle are never dangerous to their political opposition, only to their own political ambitions.