Opinion | Scott M. Estill: Please recycle your political junk mail

It’s about time we showed a bit of compassion to the local postal workers. Unlike the upcoming holiday season when they are delivering many packages, cards and other postal items that people actually want, the workers have spent the past month stuffing our mailboxes with political junk mail.

My most recent post office box haul included a few pounds of hate mail in the state Senate race for District 8, which includes Summit County. I now have a collection of a dozen or so separate mailings telling me that Republican candidate Matt Solomon is seriously dangerous.  According to the literature, Mr. Solomon is running on a campaign of bribery, irresponsibility, extremism and selling drugs to college kids, amongst other transgressions. As one flyer stated: “Guns on demand, drugs for students and payoffs in the workplace.”

Sounds like a nasty dude, at least according to All Together Colorado, the group who stuffed my post office box with its political agenda. According to its website, “All Together Colorado is committed to electing responsible State Senators who will work to lower costs, protect our freedoms, and keep our communities safe.” This position is in opposition to those who are running campaigns based on higher costs, eliminating freedoms and advocating for more violence on the streets. The group’s entire website is devoted to explaining why there are six candidates, including Matt Solomon, who are “candidates we oppose.”     

Like many Americans today, as soon someone tells me not to do something, my first thought is “why not”? Why should I take orders from a piece (or dozens of pieces) of mail?

I have also received a few mailings from Centennial State Prosperity telling me to vote for current state Sen. Dylan Roberts, along with one postcard from Mr. Roberts himself. At least the group informs me which candidates it favors as opposed to which ones I should dislike. According to the Centennial State Prosperity, it promotes candidates that support “good wages, cost-effective and quality healthcare, and jobs that offer opportunities to balance hard work and family responsibilities.”

There are 108,674 active voters in Senate District 8, including 20,804 in Summit County. With respect to these voters, nearly half (48.4%) are unaffiliated, while the Republican (26.1%) and Democratic (23.6%) parties fight for the other half. If my mail load is typical, we have each received at least 10 political ads relating to this one state race. Including the costs to design, print and mail potentially more than 1 million pieces would require some serious money.

Does it seem strange to devoting all of these resources to a job that pays $41,449 per year? Perhaps, until you start to follow the money. So far this year (through Oct. 14), All Together Now, a Democratic super PAC (political action committee), has spent over $5 million and it is not yet done. United for Colorado Action, a Republican super PAC, has spent more than $4 million. Both of these groups are part of a conglomerate of super PACs supporting state candidates of both parties, with the Republican candidates receiving about 60% of all super PAC funding. Don’t feel sorry for the Democrats though, as the individual candidates have managed to outraise their Republican opponents by nearly the same margin. This is a lot of money for state races in a non-presidential voting year. One group, Deep Colorado Wells, has spent $2 million to get out the word that its purpose is: “to support Republican candidates that believe in restoring Colorado values and defeating Democrats that have destroyed our Colorado way of life.”

There are also several dark money spenders in Colorado this year (they don’t disclose their donors). While these tend to support Republican causes, both parties are guilty. For instance, Unite for Colorado Action, a Republican group, has taken in more than $1 million in dark money contributions so far, while a Democratic dark money group (the Sixteen Thirty Fund) has managed to send a few million to support its causes. This is all absurd. I can’t even imagine how much money is going to be spent in two years when we get the 2024 Super Bowl of elections.

There is so much money being thrown around for what should be a simple state Senate race. Forget all the garbage. Mr. Roberts is a straight shooter Democrat who has prioritized housing, health care and jobs in his two terms in the state legislature. Mr. Solomon is running on a straightforward Republican campaign of individual freedom, personal safety, gun rights and fiscal responsibility. I am sure that Mr. Solomon regrets writing about his time in college when he sold drugs to make ends meet or when he was working in Las Vegas and learned “skills like bribing the union workers to get our pallets first.” I will be casting my vote for Mr. Roberts in this race, but not because of the mailers. Whether you agree or disagree with me, please vote. Democracy matters. And hopefully we can all recycle the overload of paper created to see who can earn our vote (and $3,454 every month like clockwork).

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