As the Denver Post's Jason Blevins reported yesterday:
Rocky Mountain National Park ranked as the sixth-biggest loser among the parks and monuments shuttered during the federal government's closure last fall.
The 16-day shutdown cost Colorado's busiest national park $10.9 million, with visitation plunging 73 percent in October compared with the previous three Octobers, according to a report released Monday by the National Park Service.
The pain spilled into Estes Park, which relies mightily on park visitors spending in hotels, restaurants and shops…
And the Denver Business Journal's Caitlin Hendee:
NPS also reported Monday that the 16-day government shutdown last October resulted in 7.88 million fewer park visits nationwide than would otherwise be expected for an estimated loss of about $414 million.
That closure — and the prior flooding in Colorado, damaging many roads — resulted in a double-whammy last fall for Estes Park, the gateway city to Rocky Mountain park. Estes Park hotels had a decrease in occupancy rates by over 50 percent after the September floods…
“The flood impact [was] difficult for our residents and businesses and the closure of Rocky Mountain National Park was a huge economic blow just as we were pulling together toward recovery,” said Estes Park Mayor Bill Pinkham in an announcement last October.
Last year's shutdown of the federal government by Republicans seeking to kill or delay implementation of the Affordable Care Act, most observers agree, was an enormous political miscalculation on the part of those who supported it. That's why vulnerable Republicans like Colorado's Rep. Mike Coffman were seeking an exit–or at least rhetorical cover–only a few days into the crisis. At the same time, Colorado's congressional delegation was attempting to win federal flood relief for communities affected by last year's historic Front Range floods. The combination of these two events, in particular stories that suggested flood relief was being delayed by the shutdown, worsened the political morass in which Colorado Republicans found themselves.
And now we know the shutdown did real economic damage to Colorado communities who depend on our national parks and monuments to bring in business. Even after the state paid out of pocket to reopen Rocky Mountain National Park, the shutdown had already resulted in thousands of paying tourists changing their plans. In answer to all of the hypothetical (and often fictional) economic pain Republicans insist is about to be visited on the people of America from "Obamacare," here is real pain. Inflicted needlessly on real people.
By the four guys you see at the upper right of this post: Reps. Cory Gardner, Mike Coffman, Scott Tipton, and Doug Lamborn. Gardner and Coffman are now among the highest-profile Republican candidates in the nation. Polling has consistently shown that the public blame House Republicans for the shutdown.
Folks, if the absolutely devastating attack ads that write themselves from this story aren't obvious to you yet, politics just may not be your thing. Messaged right, this is a potent counterattack on "pro business" Republicans like Gardner. It's harder, or at least it should be harder, to call yourself "pro business" after costing real businesses in your own state millions of dollars.