Miller: Another wacky election year |

Miller: Another wacky election year

by Alex Miller

It’s been a fun election season so far, no? From U.S. Senate candidate Christine O’Donnell (R-Del.) having to refute witchcraft in a TV ad to Ohio Republican congressional candidate Rich Iott being outed as a Nazi SS reenactor, to someone in Democrat Jerry Brown’s office calling opponent Meg Whitman a “whore” on tape in the California governor’s race – what’s next?In Colorado, no such fireworks – unless you count Scott McInnis’ swift plagiarism plunge last summer to knock him out of the Colorado governor’s race and leave the GOP with an unsavory choice between Dan Maes and Tom Tancredo. The hottest race in Summit County is for the assessor’s seat (I know – be still our beating hearts), which hasn’t been contested since 1986. This year, inexplicably, it’s a three-way. On the state House side, incumbent Christine Scanlan (D-Summit County) has an easier match-up than in 2008, when she had to face the mega-bucks of Ali Hasan and his family. Republican Debra Irvine is a political newbie with no record of her own to run on, so she’s focused on attacking Scanlan’s record. It may be tough to paint Scanlan with the tax-and-spend label when everyone in the Colorado Legislature has been doing nothing but cutting these past two years, but we’ll see.As Dan Gibbs departs the state Senate to run uncontested for Summit County commissioner, his would-be successors are Tancredo-backed Tea Party fave and former American Constitution Party candidate for governor Tim Leonard (R-Evergreen) and Gilpin County Commissioner Jeanne Nicholson (D). At this week’s candidates’ forum in Frisco, Nicholson successfully presented herself as a logical Gibbs successor – a moderate Dem with a finger on the pulse of mountain-town concerns. Leonard didn’t show, which was unfortunate because everyone wanted to ask him about the ACP, his refusal to refute The Ugly 3 ballot amendments (see below), how the “free market” is going to magically put everyone back to work, his anti-abortion stances and his scary comments about education funding (Leonard’s OK with lots less money for schools, and he’s a big voucher guy).You won’t find most of Leonard’s more extreme view on his website (which spells “Dillon” wrong, by the way), but a quick look at the ACP website gives a good idea of where he’s coming from. He just moved over to the GOP since he correctly assumed it’d improve on the 2 percent of the vote he got on the ACP ticket in the 2006 SD16 race.Two years ago, a “D” next to your name was the best possible campaign tool; this year, being an incumbent is supposedly the kiss of death, regardless of your voting record or positions. We’ll see how that plays out here in Colorado and Summit County soon, and remember: Early voting starts Monday.***Amendment 53B: “Shall the State of Colorado give every state resident $1,000 and a pony on his or her birthday, to be paid for with pots of gold found under rainbows and collected by illegal aliens?” Vote Yes or NoHey, why not? Wacky amendments have become our state’s stock in trade, giving us ample opportunity to circumvent our elected legislature and get citizen initiatives on the ballot. But why, I wonder, can’t more of them be good changes – or even sane ones? This year in Colorado, we get Amendment 60 and 61 and Proposition 101 – “The Ugly 3” – a package of nastiness that, make no mistake, will put our state in a state of constant financial crisis and legal turmoil and which collectively make about as much sense as the birthday amendment above.Nothing will say “I hate Colorado!” more than a “yes” vote on these turkeys. Fortunately they’re polling poorly and should go down. Meanwhile, the “personhood” loons are back at it with Amendment 62, which would ban abortion, embryonic stem-cell research and even some forms of contraception. It, too, will fail by a wide margin, as its predecessor did just two years ago.But why do we have to even spend time, money and energy wrestling with such stupid ballot questions every year? Because it’s too easy to get them on the ballot, that’s why. For starters, there’s no requirement to get signatures from every congressional district, so they focus on the Front Range and collect signatures in high-population areas. There’s also little vetting of the ballot questions, other than to ascertain the language itself is legal. Wouldn’t it be logical to have some kind of independent, bipartisan review board looking at these things for potential consequences, legality and other such standards before allowing them on the ballot?Maybe some day …Summit Daily editor Alex Miller can be reached at or (970) 668-4618.

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