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November 23, 2009 07:52 PM UTC

Ritter Rejects "Contract on Colorado"

  • by: Colorado Pols

As the Denver Post reports:

As top Republicans began lining up behind gubernatorial hopeful Scott McInnis, Democratic Gov. Bill Ritter derided his opponent’s adoption of a new conservative agenda that debuts today and defended his own record on economic issues…

At a Sunday-night news conference, Ritter characterized the Republicans’ multipoint agenda as “just (being) against things” and cast McInnis’ support of it as buckling to pressure from Republican leaders.

“There’s not anyone who has sat down with me and said I have to agree with (an) agenda to be my party’s candidate,” Ritter said. “We’re keeping our focus on creating jobs and will let our actions speak for themselves.”

Ritter’s talk has toughened as the Ritter-McInnis matchup has become more certain and Republicans have focused their attacks on the incumbent instead of one another. Political novice and Evergreen businessman Dan Maes remains McInnis’ sole challenger for the GOP nomination…

The agenda out today – dubbed the Contract for Colorado – includes such promises as limiting state spending and requiring employers to verify new hires’ immigration status.

The plan specifically vows to undo a number of Ritter’s policies, including an executive order that allows state employees to unionize and a recent increase in vehicle-registration fees.

On the one hand, you have to give Republicans credit for “solving”–however brutishly and undemocratically–their internal primary dilemma. It’s our contention that what you’re seeing is theater to paper over serious discontent among the GOP rank-and-file with McInnis and the sudden withdrawal of conservative candidate Josh Penry, but to many low-information Republicans this all looks like a wonderful Kumbaya moment. Also, a list of specifics like this is, generally speaking, good politics.

Once the spectacle wears off, though, Republicans are going to have to actually sell the “Contract for Colorado” to the state’s voters–and that’s where the rubber will meet the road. This “contract,” for all the hype, is not a realistic solution to anything the state is facing today. So, you want to repeal the FASTER plan’s increases in motor vehicle registration fees, do you? How will you pay to repair the hundreds of structurally-deficient bridges in Colorado? You want to repeal the mill-levy freeze? How will you pay for already-underfunded schools? You want a “rainy-day” fund? How do you propose funding it in the middle of a fiscal hurricane?

As for the ‘sanctity of life’ and anti-immigrant stuff that Tom Tancredo and Penry demanded? Well, if the voters can be made to understand that the ‘fiscal responsibility’ planks are a bunch of unworkable ideological poppycock, the wedge issues will be what really hacks them off. Seriously, did it ever occur to McInnis that before he jumped in bed with Tancredo, he might actually have had a shot at the increasingly pivotal Latino vote? Or the over 70% of Colorado voters who rejected last year’s “personhood amendment?” How can McInnis offset support he’s losing by embracing wedge issues–to gain the support of a base that was never going to support his opponent anyway?

Bottom line: Scott McInnis may have made a grave mistake by giving ground to Tancredo instead of shunning him. McInnis’ strongest asset going into a general election against Bill Ritter is his reputation as a ‘moderate’ compared to most other Colorado Republicans–it’s why Democrats would have preferred to run against Penry. As good as it must feel to finally, after months of vicious infighting, come out on top of the GOP primary, the question awaiting McInnis is how much support among the critical independent and moderate vote he has squandered to do so.


34 thoughts on “Ritter Rejects “Contract on Colorado”

  1. Ooh, ooh, I know this one! The answer is, you don’t, and you wait around for Democrats to fix stuff instead.

    The ever-swinging pendulum of politics: Democrats fix things, then people say “Hey things work, that’s great, so why is the government still here,” and they elect Republicans, who break everything, and then Democrats are elected again.

    Those of you who wonder why Obama hasn’t fixed all problems in his first year in office, that’s why.

      1. and former Congressman from the DeLay/Abramhoff era!!!

        (Who is notoriously thin-skinned to boot and will likely blow a gasket sometime….just hope its not when it matters)

  2. My memory of McInnis as US Rep is that he would do or say anything to stay in office.  The guy served on the Rules Committee when the Republican control of Congress was at its height.  This is the committee that would set out to limit any debate or amendment to a bill.  It seemed to me that McInnis never really led on anything, he just followed the leadership.  

    Fast forward to now, who will he be following if elected governor?  Tancredo, Penry, Wadhams?  Or maybe John Andrews will have a role to play again in state government.  Whether or not one likes his positions, the positions are not forward-looking or positive.  Ritter has the positive vision all over McInnis, which is saying something as I don’t see Ritter as a terribly inspirational kind of guy.

  3. The Denver Post needs to be challenging the Republicans on specifics. It’s easy to stand up and shout, “Let’s Cut State Spending!”. It’s much harder, however, to actually say how.

    So how will they cut spending?

    Do they support privatizing CU and CSU? Will they cut Higher Ed even more than the $150 million cut Ritter is proposing for next year?

    Will they close even more Mental Health institutions than Ritter has already?

    They want to repeal FASTER, so how will they fund transportation? Do they support privatizing state highways so investors can charge tolls?

    Constitutionally, their hands are tied on K-12 funding. Same with much of Parks and Recreation.

    Democrats have to answer these and many more tough questions each year they do the budget. Let’s make Republicans answer them too!

  4. It would have been worse for McInnis if either Tancredo or Penry were to have entered or stayed in the race. By McInnis agreeing to these little details they are staying out and backing him which only gives him a heads up because they are now out of his way and he’s the presumptive Republican nominee…sorry Maes…so really I don’t think it hurts him that badly.  

  5. How will you pay to repair the hundreds of structurally-deficient bridges in Colorado

    From our very own Ali:


    Middle – I don’t recall the speech enough to say what Rep Nikkel’s alternatives were, if they were pitched

    A sentiment amongst some Republicans is that money estimates for road and infrastructure repairs are exaggerated..


    by: Muhammad Ali Hasan @ Wed Nov 18, 2009 at 01:11:56 AM MST

    [ Parent | | Reply ]

    I don’t think I even need to paraphrase here–the Republican Party in this state is just flat out claiming that we don’t really have a problem with our infrastructure. There you go. Problem solved, Republican style.

  6. Governing is easy in Scott McInnis’ mind.  Asked by the Denver Post how he would plug a $1 billion budget shortfall, McInnis channeled his inner Sarah Palin.  His solutions?  “Place job growth as the top priority”, “restore respect for Colorado taxpayers”, “improve (government) program performance” and, “create a rainy day fund”.  

    That wasn’t so hard, now was it?  Finding himself with spare time, he could move on to other fields.  I imagine McInnis’ financial planning advice would be to “buy low, sell high”.  His universal coaching advice for any sports team would be to “score more points than your opponent.”

    In the real world, balancing a state budget in today’s environment requires hard choices bound to leave most, if not all constituents, dissatisfied.  Any politician, like Scott McInnis, who suggests otherwise is not telling you the truth.  

    1. I would like to know if Scooty Boy will support the resurrection of the “Personhood amendment”. What is the story, McInnis shills? Is your champion REALLY “100% pro-life” as he said recently, or is this just another politically motivated flip-flop?

        1. that it will be on the 2010 ballot. If McInnis isn’t just lying through his teeth to get the “Tea Party” vote, he will back the “personhood amendment” wholeheartedly.

          The Christian right was completely snookered by the Bush administration and it looks like Scooter is trying to do it again.  

    2. Ritter lives under a lucky star and the Republicans are playing into his hands by bringing back a Tom Delay crony and a recycled campaign platform that focus’ attention on the era of Republican rule that was characterized by continuous culture wars and was by any measure was a long term disaster.  This is a questionable strategy this far out.  They should have revealed this hooky crap in August 2010 when it would look fresh and there wouldn’t be time to dissect and reveal it to be a bunch of hooky crap.

      My bet is Ritter will look better and better as people start to get information on McGinnis and his Delay/lobbying past.  Ritter has been up front with his vision of a green economy and his cuts to balance the budget.  People in the end will have to consider that kind of integrity especially against McGinnis.

  7. that Republicans are trying it again.

    So how’d that Contract with America work out dudes?  Does anyone think that the biggest depression since the 30’s due to thirty years of culture wars instead of innovation will have any impact on how this recycled stale campaign fodder is going to sell to anxious voters?  It’s already been done and failed miserably.  Republicans always break their contracts when they get in power.  If this is the best that McGinnis can come up with then the well of new and innovative ideas really is dry in the Republican camp.

    1. Republicans always break their contracts when they get in power.

      Ginrich’s “Contract with America” called for a balanced budget. But it was Bill Clinton who balanced the budget and turned over budget surpluses to a Republican president, a Republican House, and a Republican Senate that in the following six years turned that surplus into record deficits.  

  8. The title for contract for Colorado came from a printed column and may have been bantered about, I don’t know. But what McInnis issued today was a Platform for Prosperty.  I’m sure the full text will be on line somewhere sometime soon.

    By the way Scott’s name is McInnis with an ‘I’ not a ‘G’.

      1. He stated loud and clear it was a mistake and took his lumps from the pundits but clearly the people of the 3rd CD agreed term limits didn’t work in their best interest in the US Congress. They kept re-electing Scott.    

  9. Seems like they wanted to sell state buildings and lease them back in order to generate cash.

    Someone else wanted to sell state parks and the state school lands to raise money.

    Privatizing state prisons has always been big on the GOP agenda.

    And education will be saved by vouchers. I’m sure we’ll hear this idea again.

    Also, isn’t McInnis on record as wanting to hand over southeastern Colorado to the Army for use as a training and bombing range? That should create some jobs and help balance the state budget.

  10.    Is that the wink and the nod they’re giving to Kristie Burton and her fellow fanatics who are getting ready to roll out next year’s fertilized egg amendment?

      I’m assuming that Scooter isn’t going to go any further and actually endorse their initiative.  Even Schaffer avoided doing that…and he’s pro-life!


      But the former Congressman and likely GOP nominee left some questions unanswered, such as how he would fund a $1 billion-plus yearly transportation deficit in Colorado while keeping his promises to reverse a car registration fee hike, cap state spending limits and keep taxes low. All were included in the agenda forged in meetings with top Republicans.

      While the plan – called the Platform for Prosperity – promises a line-by-line review of state spending, McInnis declined to name a specific cut or reduction he would make to the state budget.

      Instead, McInnis criticized one of the cuts Ritter put in place in the spring: the closure of a a unit for medically needy adults in the Grand Junction Regional Center.

      “This guy doesn’t get priorities,” McInnis said. McInnis also dismissed arguments that the state’s budget woes can be blamed, in part, on the national fiscal crisis.

      Begging the question–Lawyer-Lobbyist: what are YOUR priorities?



        November 2009


        Colorado has fallen on hard times. We’ve seen our state economy hemorrhage jobs at the fastest pace since the 1940’s, and watched as personal incomes have declined more sharply than at any time since the 1950’s.

        Bill Ritter and the Democrat-controlled Legislature responded by imposing massive increases in taxes and fees, broadly increasing the state payroll – despite an alleged “hiring freeze.” They have embraced an agenda that has increased the cost of doing business in Colorado, driven investment out of our state, and killed jobs.

        Coloradans can’t afford another four years of Gov. Ritter’s failed policies. Republicans have better ideas, centered on common sense, innovation, respecting our taxpayers and businesses, and keeping government in check.

        We believe that big government breeds small ideas. But smaller government gives citizens the freedom to breed big ideas.

        Fortunately, voters will have the opportunity in 2010 to end the Democrat Party’s monopoly on power in Colorado and to restore checks and balances to an out-of-touch — and out-of-control — state government.

        As Republican officeholders, and citizens seeking public office, we will restore faith in our government and prosperity to our state by putting forward the following Platform for Prosperity.

        Jobs, Jobs, Jobs: Returning Colorado to Prosperity

        We will use our voices, votes and veto pen to improve and transform Colorado’s business climate so that our state is again a leader among the states.

        We will:

           вЂў keep Colorado a low-tax state;

           вЂў put a top priority on investing in physical infrastructure (roads, bridges and water systems) and our human infrastructure (higher education and workforce training);

           вЂў pro-actively promote and encourage business investment and expansion in key Colorado job sectors;

           вЂў oppose unreasonable regulations, fees and business mandates;

           вЂў oppose efforts to weaken Colorado’s medical malpractice or construction defects tort protections;

           вЂў repeal the Ritter Administration’s executive order unionizing state government;

           вЂў appoint “pro-jobs” leaders to key government regulatory and oversight bodies.

        Restoring Common Sense to Colorado’s Budget

        We commit to using our voices, votes and veto pen to restore fiscal common sense and respect for Colorado’s taxpayers. We will:

           вЂў oppose the systematic campaign of Democrats to increase taxes, significant fees, levies and surcharges without a vote of the people;

           вЂў restore the cap on state spending, and, until it is restored, oppose – and veto — spending above an annual 6 percent increase;

           вЂў oppose those who would use Colorado’s current budget challenges as a pretext to weaken taxpayer protections in the Constitution or in statute;

           вЂў support the creation of a Rainy Day Fund that will cushion the effects of economic emergencies, but will not allow politicians to get access to merely fund pet projects.

        Reforming Government and Challenging the Status Quo

           We commit to using our voices, votes and veto pen to:

           вЂў undertake a comprehensive review of state government to identify and eliminate waste, fraud, excess and abuse, freeing up dollars to spend on core areas that benefit the economy;

           вЂў conduct an evaluation of the state’s boards, commissions and task forces and look for ways to achieve savings through consolidation.

        More Energy, More Jobs: A Comprehensive Energy Policy

           We commit to using our voices, votes and veto pen to:

           вЂў support legislation, and revisions to state rules, that will promote the responsible development of all sources of energy, including wind, solar, hydroelectric, oil, natural gas, coal and nuclear power;

           вЂў appoint individuals to key energy regulatory bodies who view Colorado’s energy resources as a strategic asset that, in balance with protecting the environment, can produce more energy for America and more jobs for Colorado.

        Controlling Health Care Costs for Families and Business

           We commit to using our voices, votes and veto pen to support patient-driven reforms to contain the growing costs of healthcare — a growing burden on patients, their families, employers and our economy.

           We will:

           вЂў support portability of coverage from job to job;

           вЂў reinstate the Owens-era enforcement of the Constitutional ban on taxpayer funding for organizations that provide abortions;

           вЂў support giving patients the right to purchase health insurance across state lines;

           вЂў oppose efforts to roll back Colorado’s landmark medical malpractice protections;

           вЂў oppose any effort to bring single-payer healthcare to Colorado.

        Improving Education and Expanding Opportunity

           We commit to using our voices, votes and veto pen to:

           вЂў protect the rights of home school families;

           вЂў expand school choice in the form of charter schools, magnet schools and for at-risk students in under-performing public schools;

        Defending Citizenship and the Rule of Law

           We commit to using our voices, votes and veto pen to:

           вЂў support a mandatory workplace verification mechanism that will assist employers in ensuring that their employees are in the United States legally;

           вЂў oppose so-called “sanctuary” policies, which violate state and federal law;

           вЂў work to block the award of state grant dollars to any local government enacting such a policy.

        Pushing Back Against Growing Federal Power

           We commit to using our voices, votes and veto pen to push back on a federal government that is too big, too intrusive, and all-too-eager to seize power from the states. We believe in protecting states’ rights under the Tenth Amendment. We oppose future “stimulus” bills or other federal spending bills that serve no valid economic purpose and only add to the federal deficit.

        Keeping Communities Safe

           We will give law enforcement and prosecutors the tools they need to keep communities and families safe.

           We will:

           вЂў end the Ritter Administration’s early release program for criminals;

           вЂў oppose any legislation that would curtail the Constitutional right to keep and bear arms;

           вЂў support far tougher sentences for child sex predators;

        Restoring the security that comes with a quality job is at the core of our Platform for Prosperity.

           Governor Ritter and the Democrat-controlled Legislature have chosen a path, in these troubled times, that has ignored basic economic and fiscal responsibility and cost this state hundreds of jobs every day. They have turned back the clock and returned to outmoded and discredited tax-and-spend policies.

           With this Platform for Prosperity, we will restore Colorado to its leading role as an innovator and job-creator among the states. We will create a leaner and more efficient government. We will expand job opportunities for our youth so that they will stay in Colorado and not be forced to pursue opportunities in other states. We will work together, tirelessly, to restore the economic security that has been taken from families all over Colorado.

           Together, we will pursue one central truth: A good day starts with a good job.

        1. if this:

          pro-actively promote and encourage business investment and expansion in key Colorado job sectors

          includes pro-actively encouraging Colorados” rapidly growing medical marijuana industry?

  11. The vast majority of voters in the middle, the ones that will decide this election, don’t look at this as those of us that are politically active do.

    It looks like the repubs will sell more services/lower taxes plus they will magically fix the job market. That’s something people love to hear.

    Ritter has to come across as the responsible grown up – they may not like what he has to say as much, but if he can sell that he’s being straight with them while the GOP is full of it – then he can win.

    But an awful lot depends on the job picture next fall. If unemployment is still way up, then the voters are going to take the choice they don’t know over the one that has been ineffective.

    And no matter how much we scream TABOR, etc – it won’t matter much.

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