Congratulations to U.S. Rep. Jared Polis, who ran a fair campaign to become the 43rd governor of Colorado.
As Polis and Gazette readers know, The Gazette’s editorial board hoped for a different outcome and supported Republican nominee Walker Stapleton. We genuinely like and respect both men but have more faith in the limited-government vision Stapleton campaigned upon than the expensive big-government promises of Polis. With the election behind us, we hope to support Polis on an assortment of policy matters in which we may find common ground. No matter where one stood during the campaign, all Coloradans should hope for Polis to succeed in making our state an even a better place for people of all backgrounds.
As of press time, it appeared Republicans lost control of the Colorado Senate. With Democratic majorities in the House and Senate, Polis can get a lot done in his first year. As a Colorado native who loves this state, we trust him to govern from the middle and work toward outcomes that benefit those who supported him and those who did not.
Our best hopes for a successful Polis first term rest on his enormously successful history as a self-made businessman. We trust he understands how private-sector, for-profit endeavors fund government and everything it does.
We were surprised on the Saturday before the election when Reagan administration free market economist Arthur Laffer told Fox News he was excited about the likely Polis victory. Polis interned for Laffer, who later served on several boards of directors for companies founded by Polis. Laffer told Fox he believed Polis ran on a tax-reduction platform. We had not heard that message from Polis, so we reached out to him within moments of Laffer’s comments.
“It’s a big part of my campaign ignored by conservative news outlets like yours,” Polis explained in a text, in response to our question about a tax cut. “Shooting for a 3-5% reduction in state income tax.”
That we applaud and support. Health care comprises the weightiest element of the governor-elect’s platform. He promises lower prices and better access, and we hope he achieves both without raising taxes, killing jobs or lowering quality of care. Given his entrepreneurial penchant for solving problems, we proceed with confidence Polis will indeed figure out how to increase access and lower costs for all Coloradans.
Whatever else our next governor does, we hope he will follow in the footsteps of Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper and prioritize small business, education, school choice, oil and gas, and minimal regulation. Economic growth represents the most benevolent public policy available.
In what can be called a Colorado shellacking for Republican candidates, Democrat Phil Weiser defeated Douglas County District Attorney George Brauchler for Colorado attorney general. Weiser met with The Gazette’s editorial board for 90 minutes, impressing us with his track record for supporting and encouraging Colorado entrepreneurs. The former dean of the University of Colorado Law School, Weiser has a deep command of the law, and we expect good things of him in his new role. He could succeed if he stays focused on Colorado and not on national politics.
Perhaps the only genuinely devastating result of Colorado’s election was the indefensible defeat of Secretary of State Wayne Williams by a young 30-something who seldom votes and has little relevant experience for the job. Jena Griswold, who explained she missed voting in one of several elections because she was salsa dancing, replaces a seasoned elections expert largely considered the most respected secretary of state in the country by Democrats and Republicans. Griswold has big shoes to fill, and we hope she can rise to the occasion. This outcome can be nothing other than the result of blind-partisan down-ballot voting.
In other election news, a large Colorado Springs demographic lost when voters up the road in Congressional District 6 rejected Republican U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman in favor of Democrat Jason Crow. Coffman, along with 5th District U.S. Rep. Doug Lamborn, was one of only two Colorado representatives on the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee and played a key role in victories for more than 80,000 veterans who call El Paso County home. Lamborn kept his seat with a victory. Based on statewide candidate races, Tuesday’s results show Colorado shifting from a purple swing state to a reliably blue state in which Democrats outnumber Republicans and independents vote more with Democrats than Republicans. Though Tuesday revealed a leftward drift in partisan candidate elections, the electorate went right on nonpartisan ballot measures that proposed more taxes and regulations. Statewide, voters wisely rejected Proposition 112. Energy producers should take this outcome as an invitation to continue exploring and producing throughout Colorado — providing good jobs, energy our country needs, and tax revenues that fund public schools and local governments. Be assured, most Coloradans understand and appreciate the benefits of domestic oil and gas.
Other encouraging Colorado outcomes include:
• Rejection of the irresponsible Proposition 110 transportation tax increase
• Rejection of the irresponsible Amendment 73 soak-the-rich education tax increase, which would have eliminated Colorado’s fair and reasonable flat tax
• Rejection of Amendment 74, which would have encouraged trial lawyers to sue local governments when land owners make reasonable use of private property
• Approval of Amendments Y and Z to eliminate partisan gerrymandering
• Rejection of lowering the minimum age for service in the Colorado legislature from 25 to 21
Sadly, voters rejected Proposition 109, aka “Fix Our Damn Roads,” which would have forced the Legislature to fix highways and bridges without raising taxes. They also rejected Amendments 75, which proposed reducing limits on campaign contributions for opponents of wealthy candidates who spend $1 million or more in personal funds on their campaigns. In general, Tuesday showed a new Colorado hesitancy to legislate from the ballot box.
Nationally, the “blue wave” — in which Democrats would exact revenge for the 2016 presidential election — calmed to a blue ripple. Republicans maintained control of the U.S. Senate, seemingly growing their majority as of press time. Democrats obtained small-majority control of the House. It means Democrats can impeach the president but probably cannot remove him from office. Elections are to governing what weddings are to marriages. They are the beginning. The real work begins when new candidates take office. We all have a responsibility to watch our elected officials and hold them accountable for delivering the results we hoped for when casting our ballots.