Colorado Republicans are set for some serious victories in 2022.
The state has gone so crazy progressive left that the natural swing of the pendulum is bound to favor Republicans. And in the shadow of Joe Biden’s first midterm election, which most always favors the opposition party, this should be a banner year for the Republican Party throughout Colorado.
This means, of course, they’re going to screw it all up.
Let me explain Caldara’s First Political Axiom — “There is nothing Republicans can’t screwup.” (The actual word is the f-bomb, but my editor said the paper has standards. I retorted that if The Gazette has standards why did you hire me. Circular arguments ensued.)
There is no lack of evidence supporting my axiom. Top of the list is Sen. Michael Bennet, the accidental senator, who twice was elected as Republicans put up completely un-electable candidates. And look what that is costing the nation now.
Bill Ritter became governor after the Republicans savaged each other in a primary, doing all the work for the Democrats.
When John Hickenlooper ran for governor, Republicans had a generic 9% lead over Democrats in the polls — victory assured. Then Republicans nominated a con artist, Dan Maes, who barely got 11% in the general election.
We could go on and on with examples, but breaking Caldara’s Axiom isn’t difficult, in concept at least.
Needed are nondestructive primaries that help the winner by battle hardening him for the general election. The left revels in the dysfunction that is Republican primaries. They love it so much they put their own money into them.
When the wholly un-electable Maes was gaining ground on his primary opponent, the electable Scott McInnis, the left spent over half-a-million dollars in ads attacking McInnis on the eve of the primary. It was the best money they ever spent.
And this sounds trite, but to win, Republicans must stand for something. Leftist overreach isn’t a Republican Party platform. Republicans must clearly say what they are for, not what they’re against.
So here is my advice for Colorado Republicans — the number is three.
Just like the School House Rock cartoon song when we were kids — three, it’s a magic number.
Here’s the perfect example of three: “If you elect me governor, I will lower taxes. I will expand I-25. And I will increase funding for charter schools. My name is Bill Owens.”
In 1998, candidate Bill Owens said those three clear, positive, simple things every time he opened his mouth, and he never wavered off message.
It wasn’t abortion. It wasn’t guns. It wasn’t the 10 commandments in classrooms. It was three positive things that swing voters wanted but Democrats wouldn’t support.
Owens had a grueling primary that toughened him up for an even tougher general election, but the contest wasn’t destructive. In fact, he made his primary opponent, Mike Norton, his very capable head of the Department of Transportation.
With his three things, a clean primary and a likable personality, Owens became the first Republican governor of Colorado in 24 years. And as an aside, he made good on all three promises.
It’s been 15 years since he left office. If they don’t want Bill Owens to be a historic anomaly, Republicans need to find their magic three things for 2022.
I’ll offer up mine.
“If you elect me, I will put criminals back behind bars and take vagrants off your streets. I will lower taxes. And I will get the woke culture out of our schools.”
All three draw clear distinctions from the progressives now in full power of Colorado.
Diving into the three is straight forward:
“The Democrats’ soft on crime policies and encouragement of homeless encampments are resulting in skyrocketing violence and danger. Tough law enforcement will put criminals back in jail. Tough love will put vagrants into jobs, rehab or safe camp sites well away from your home and business.
“I’ll lower taxes to undo the Democrats’ massive ‘fee’ increases and rip away their regulatory punishment of small employers so we can bring back the jobs they chased away.
“And I’ll make sure only public schools that teach how to think, not what to think, will get funding so our schools will be places of learning, not indoctrination.
Come’on, Republicans. Break Caldara’s First Axiom. I dare ya.
Jon Caldara is president of the Independence Institute in Denver and hosts “The Devil’s Advocate with Jon Caldara” on Colorado Public Television Channel 12. His column appears Sundays in Colorado Politics.