(Another Republican voice of reason — Promoted by Colorado Pols)
Senator Robert Kennedy once said “All of us might wish at times that we lived in more tranquil world, but we don’t. And if our times are difficult and perplexing, so are they challenging and filled with opportunity”
As Coloradans, we have a lot of freedom. Through our state constitution, written in 1876 and continually amended, we have created a government of, by, and for the people. Colorado voters expect the people they send to Denver as state senators and representatives to be busy during their 120 session. Those four months are challenging but they are also filled with opportunity.
Far from what you expect out of Washington D.C.; the Colorado General Assembly is comprised of 100 of the most unique individuals that you could assemble. Every two years brings new blood, new vision and new leadership to each chamber. Every legislator can sponsor five bills, guaranteed to have a hearing, regardless of where they are from or what party they belong to.
The 2018 election produced 19 Democrats out of 35 seats to hold the majority in the state senate and an astounding 41 Democrats out of 65 seats in the House of Representatives. There were several controversial bills of the legislative session, from energy policy to new gun laws. Despite heated rhetoric of the folks in the minority, at least one Republican lawmaker voted for 441 of 460 bills that passed both houses and headed to Governor Polis. The Governor vetoed five bills, and signed the other 455.
We only have a few short months of time when elected officials can govern. We expect senators and representatives to put aside partisanship and do what is in the best interest of the entire state, not just their districts. Voters should protect the politicians that aren’t afraid to offer controversial topics, to expand our democracy by representing a minority or contrary opinion in those beautifully restored chambers in Denver. Only through debate, compromise and contrition can we craft the best public policy.
Unfortunately, this April, when Colorado Republicans elected a new leadership team, they decided to go in a totally different direction. Chairman and Congressman Ken Buck of Weld County, said during his victory speech that “we need to teach Democrats how to spell recall.”
You would think that being in the minority would encourage Republicans to develop a new strategy that would expand their beleaguered base. By electing Buck, Republicans have decided that after every general election they lose they can try a second time to pick up certain seats by targeting them in a recall.
The right to recall an elected official is an important constitutional right that doesn’t exist in every state. Elected officials that take bribes, trade their votes for money or influence, or commit other crimes while in office should be recalled. There are emergencies that exist that require the people to remove an elected official and replace them before their term expires.
But with this power comes great responsibility: voters must judge when a recall is little more than a partisan attempt to circumvent the will of the majority and instead allow a minority of voters to replace that elected official. In November of even numbered years, we see more voter participation and information about candidates. I trust Colorado voters to get the decision right the first time, and hope those that lost would try harder in two years, not in ten months when less than 30 percent of the voters participate in a surprise election.
Think about the cost of designing ballots and verifying signatures that the Colorado Secretary of State must do prior to an election. Mailing every voter in a state senate district, or even statewide, is an unnecessary expense when our tax dollars could go toward so many more worthwhile projects.
Voters, please do not sign a recall petition. Every state representative is up for election in 2020, as are 18 of the 35 state senate seats. We have one more 120 day session as well as months of time to contemplate how this legislature and our new governor have behaved in office. Colorado has to fund K-12 education, transportation infrastructure, healthcare, PERA and dozens of other pressing issues. Every cent spent pushing unnecessary recall elections is a wasted dollar that could be spent elsewhere in the budget.
The push to recall Governor Polis started as soon as he was sworn in. What is the rush? Are Colorado Republicans are afraid that 2020 will reveal more losses across the state as Trump heads their ticket? Why should Democrats, or anyone, have to learn how to spell recall? Should we allow a small minority of passionate voters free reign to terrorize our elected officials?
As we move closer toward 2020, I like to think we are at a time and place where we can sit down and solve the problems we face. I prefer to follow once more the example of Senator Robert Kennedy, who said “what we need in the United States is not division; what we need in the United States is not hatred; what we need in the United States is not violence and lawlessness; but love and wisdom, and compassion toward one another and a feeling of justice toward those who still suffer within our country.”
Joshua Hursa is the former President of the Denver Metro Young Republicans and a longtime Colorado political activist.