Balance has long served Colorado well. As a swing state, with the government's various entities controlled by opposing political parties, we built the strongest economy in the country.
With balance, Colorado became the kind of state people moved to from all around the world. When Democrats control one chamber of the legislature, Republicans the other, we get good legislation. When Democrats and Republicans each control a portion of statewide offices, good ideas become better ideas. All ideas get challenged. Politicians compromise, usually to the benefit of the vast middle that simply wants good jobs, public safety, transportation and health care.
Since 2018, Colorado has had no semblance of balance. Democrats control the Colorado House and Senate and all statewide offices with the exception of one U.S. Senate seat. The result has been doctrinaire policies, such as a one-size-fits-all sex education curriculum for public schools. The agency that once regulated the safe production of oil and gas more resembles a radical environmental activist think tank nowadays. Liberal Democratic Secretary of State Jena Griswold called for a boycott of Alabama to protest the state's abortion regulations. An exhaustive list and explanations of Colorado's extreme public policymaking could fill a fat book.
The November election poses outcomes that could mean even more imbalance, as Democrats could win three up-for-grabs state Senate races.
Senate District 27, which encompasses Highlands Ranch and parts of Littleton, will add to the Democratic Senate majority if Democratic financial adviser Chris Kolker defeats Republican Suzanne Staiert, a highly regarded attorney, Littleton public schools mom, and former deputy secretary of state under Secretary of State Wayne Williams of Colorado Springs. The winner will replace departing Republican Sen. Jack Tate.
District 27 voters would be wise to choose Staiert, whose sterling reputation in years of public service bears out her campaign slogan, “Practical, not political.” A seasoned and respected public-policy expert, Staiert burnished her reputation helping safeguard the state’s elections during her years at the Secretary of State’s Office. Staiert also has served as a prosecutor for the city of Aurora, where she went after domestic violence cases; as the Littleton city attorney, and as an assistant municipal judge in Centennial.
Not only does she know the law; she also knows her district.
In rural northwest Colorado's District 8, Republican Sen. Bob Rankin finds himself in a competitive race with Democratic nominee Carl Hanlon. Hanlon comes across as a wannabe career politician. He was appointed to a school board seat before voters rejected him in his first election. He ran in a congressional primary and lost.
Rankin, by contrast, is a doer and achiever. He's a ranking member of the Joint Budget Committee. After COVID-19 invaded, Rankin made sure the legislature protected essential and special services while maintaining a balanced budget. He was a key player in the passage of a bipartisan re-insurance bill that saves some families $10,000 a year in health insurance costs.
Rankin has been so protective of local fire departments the Colorado Fire Chiefs Association named him "Legislator of the Year" in 2019. He saved the homestead tax exemption for senior citizens, insisting we not solve budget woes on the backs of Coloradans who have supported the state their entire lives.
District 8 voters would be wise to reelect Rankin.
Then there's the close race between Democrat Paula Dickerson and seasoned Republican Sen. Kevin Priola in suburban Denver's Senate District 25.
If Colorado's increasingly liberal electorate blindly votes straight-ticket Democratic, they may elect Dickerson — a woman so financially irresponsible she has filed bankruptcy twice after running up and defaulting on 35 credit cards. If she can't manage her personal finances, we should not give her responsibility for the state's $30-billion-plus budget.
Priola, by contrast, has stood out not only as a seasoned and skilled legislator who has served in both chambers but also as a bridge-builder between Republicans and Democrats. He has put that role to use forging sensible policies on bread-and-butter issues that are important to members of both parties as well as to the many unaffiliated voters in his district. He has been a prime mover behind legislation bolstering roads and bridges; public education; health care and the state’s response to COVID-19.
Priola also has deep roots in the Senate district. He was born and raised there and has helped run two family-owned small businesses in the area. He is connected to Adams County civic life and knows the terrain well. District 25 voters would be wise to reelect Priola.
Colorado should never give substantial and sustained power to either major political party. Naively voting a straight party ticket can do just that — to the detriment of a state that has always succeeded in a state of political balance.