Miller-Elections 2010: It’s over, finally
While we’re still awaiting final word on the Senate District 16 race results, it’s safe to say that, for the most part, the midterm elections are settled. So what did we learn?
Well, for starters, Summit County remains mostly true to blue: Democratic candidates in contested races did extremely well. Nothing new here, really, but there has been some movement on the conservative side locally, and I wondered how much influence those folks would actually have on the elections. Not much, apparently.
Historically, school funding elections have done well with Summit County voters, and this year’s passage of question 3B to allow for a mill levy override was no exception. That’s not to say supporters weren’t sweating bullets in the week leading up to Election Day. The assumption is that older voters are less likely to approve school funding questions, and that demographic was outpacing the younger portion of our population by a wide margin in early and mail-in voting numbers. But what may be true in many or most areas of the country often means little here in Summit County. Remember, we have one of the most highly educated populations in the country – more than 48 percent with college degrees, per the last census – and it’s surely a community that supports public education and understands the need to fund it properly. That goes for our older residents as well.
Ultimately 3B came down to the fact that the schools weren’t looking for more, just to prevent having to do with less. Voters got that, and the fact that the school board only asked for about a third of an expiring mill levy made it easier for people to say “yes.” Even so, the 63-37 margin of victory was a bit of a surprise.
It was interesting to see Colorado be something of a blue island in a sea of red victories, as voter discontent with the economy translated into big gains for Republicans. The GOP faltered mightily in the gubernatorial race, with a candidate – Dan Maes – no one could love and a third-party insurgent in Tom Tancredo. In the race for US Senate, the unremarkable appointee Michael Bennet was able to beat Republican rival Ken Buck by a hair – mostly on the strength of a campaign largely devoid of error and gaffe while Buck stuck his foot in his mouth at every opportunity.
In Breckenridge, it was no surprise to see the 2D question win handily, since so much of the town’s business community was behind the measure to bump the lodging tax to fund marketing. Just to the south in Blue River, though, three questions aimed at offsetting upcoming revenue losses from property tax declines fared less well, with only one passing. That one, which will allow short-term rentals in Blue River as well as the ability to tax said revenue, will certainly help the town fund basic services, but will it be enough? It may not be, which will have the town’s trustees having to look at more creative ways to keep things running.
Statewide, we once again had to confront a slate of ridiculous amendments and propositions, all but one of which was shot down by voters who saw through them all. (The exception was “Q,” which enables the state to plan for an alternative location for the capital in the event of emergency.) The so-called “Ugly 3” – 60, 61 and 101 – were crushed at the polls, leaving us again to wonder how many more times we have to waste so much time, energy and money to defeat such awful and ill-conceived measures. At the same time, those defeats showed Colorado voters intolerant of extreme tea-party-esque tax-cutting measures. Sure, Coloradans don’t want to pay more taxes than necessary, but we also understand tax-funded government services are important to our society.
With President Obama now facing a GOP-led Congress and a stronger GOP minority in the Senate, I keep hearing that he must choose between Clinton’s 1994 move to the center after a big GOP win or FDR’s 1936 declaration of “I welcome their hatred” as he continued to push for New Deal reforms against Republican opposition. Obama doesn’t strike me as the type to utter such a phrase, but one must wonder how far he’d get trying to work with a party that does already hate him and which has stated that its main aim is not necessarily to work for the American people in the next two years but to do everything it can to limit Obama to one term. That’s leadership?
It’s not going to be pretty, and I’m afraid we can look toward a whole lot of political deadlock out of Washington. If that’s the change people were wanting, well then they got it.
Summit Daily editor Alex Miller can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (970) 668-4618.
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