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December 14, 2011 11:56 PM UTC

Hickenlooper Doesn't Play Your Reindeer Games

  • by: Colorado Pols

In our discussion of the outcome of this year’s fight over state legislative reapportionment, and the general consensus that the outcome is a victory for Democrats, we would be remiss if we didn’t at least briefly note the remarks of Gov. John Hickenlooper at a town hall yesterday–as eagerly distributed by Denver Republican Party conservative blog WhoSaidYouSaid:

“I think a little more time and a little more process would have gotten us a better result,” said Hickenlooper, a Democrat. “And where you have so many good people that are gonna have to go through primaries against each other, or look at some new place . . . You know again, I’ve tried to build relationships with as many Republicans as I have Democrats in the legislature.”

Then later:

“No one runs for these offices…I’ll make this short, no one runs for these offices to make the kind of cuts that we did but in the end our general assembly. The Senate and the Statehouse, state Senate and Statehouse, approved our budget with 80 out of 100 votes. No one else is doing that anywhere in the country. Right? And that says a lot about Colorado. I think that the bitterness of, I think the Democrats could have had, you know, I think there was a way to do it without creating all those primaries. And I was disappointed. Some of the people that I enjoy working with are probably not going to be able to stay in the legislature.”

We already know that the list of people Hickenlooper “enjoys working with” doesn’t include Majority Leader Amy Stephens, who earned rare public wrath from the governor after her disastrous handling of the health insurance exchange bill this past legislative session. There are probably some Republicans, though, who Hickenlooper has genuinely forged a decent relationship with, and he’s free to make a point as the state’s chief executive about a process that indeed ran into…well, at least strenuous allegations several times before the end.

But this is really nothing more than throwing the GOP a meager post-defeat bone: Hickenlooper didn’t intervene in the legislative reapportionment process at any point. He certainly could have, and his opinion would naturally have been taken into consideration by all parties. And however “disappointed” Hickenlooper may be about sharp elbows during the process, the fact remains that the process was carried out legally, and the results affirmed by the Colorado Supreme Court. That’s the key difference between the legislative reapportionment victory for Democrats in 2011 and the actions of Republicans during the past decade’s congressional redistricting–the much-reviled 2003 “Midnight Gerrymander” that the court threw out.

Gov. Hickenlooper’s amassing of political capital in the last year has been truly impressive, directly reflected in his extremely high and durable approval ratings. One of the big reasons his approval is so high is he does not spend that political capital lightly. Hickenlooper does not get involved in partisan news-cycle scrums unless they threaten his policy agenda. And he has tried not to be combative with Republicans in his split legislature except when it becomes unavoidable, such as with Stephens, or Speaker Frank McNulty’s ill-fated “payday payback” rule change.

For as long as support of Republicans is necessary to pass legislation in the state of Colorado, we expect that Hickenlooper will continue to show them greater public deference than partisan Democrats would prefer–and from his point of view, he probably should. If it’s any consolation, and we’re reasonably sure the thought has crossed Hickenlooper’s mind since the new maps were finalized, we think he’ll like the new friends he’ll meet in 2013 at least as much.


35 thoughts on “Hickenlooper Doesn’t Play Your Reindeer Games

  1. I’d say Hick doesn’t spend his political capital at all.  He seems to want to keep his powder dry in order to keep his personal rating high.  That he hasn’t tried to tackle school funding, prisons, transportation, and other critical issues is what I use to make that judgement.

  2. At a recent meeting I went to where the room was filled with hundreds of Democrats, a discussion about Hickenlooper’s policies resulted in an hour of people standing up, one after another, voicing their disappointment in him as Governor. I may live in a progressive bubble on the internet, but even out here in Arapahoe County, Democrats seem disgusted with his inability to publicly stand for anything left-of-center. He will be primaried. I am certain of it.

    I give him credit for knowing how to keep his ratings up with independents, if that is his goal. Many of us hoped for a populist leader, not just someone who only looks out for the interests of business.

      1. and timidly accept everything they do as “what’s best”.

        I rip David all the time for always being down on the Obama Administration but mainly I disagree with him because I think there is a body of work on Obama that shows progress and purpose.

        With Hickenlooper, the body of work we have seen so far is Laissez-faire leadership.  He could have gone down to the Occupy camps with a bullhorn and at least listened to them.  Maybe he was constrained by his campaign pledge to not support a tax increase in the first year but he could have given voice to the problems of funding public education and the need for an affordable education for all.  His state Supreme Court appointment went to a registered Republican (I’m thinking there were some Democratic judges that were just as qualified).

        Hickenlooper seems uncomfortable as a Democrat and doesn’t publically go out of his way to champion Democratic causes.  If I’m wrong then I would like to see more visibility on his activities.  I wouldn’t be surprised if he pulls a Nighthorse Campbell and jumps parties before 2016.  At least Ritter had the guts to stick up for schools and take unpopular positions.  Hickenlooper doesn’t seem to take any positions at all.

      2. that the bad economy was Obama’s burden and it would make it difficult for him to win in Colorado in 2012.

        He didn’t mention that Obama inherited an economic mess and has had every effort to revive the economy obstructed by Republicans.  

        He blamed the economy on Obama and the Republicans ran with it.  That is regurgitating Republican talking points.  At least bring the Republicans into the discussion and cast a light on their attempts to derail the economy until after the election.  Is that too much to ask that our Democratic governor not help the Republicans by echoing their meme?

      1. because folks like Arapa GOP think so?

        Hickenlooper may be a great guy, and he might be getting the job done bringing jobs to the state while working behind the scenes, for all I know. The Governor of the state is also a philosophical leader — a figurehead whose job it is to lead the masses very publicly. Hickenlooper’s style is more like the nerdy math teacher who lives in the lab until 1am every night, shrinking from the sunlight when he has to go out to the car to get his paper bag lunch. Some of us want a Governor who will call press conferences, look into the camera, and deliver heart-felt populist speeches once in a while. Call me what you like, Ralphie, but I think I am not alone. I miss Bill Ritter.

        1. Hick does not seem connected to the people of Colorado, or to the state as a whole.  A contrast I witnessed years ago — when Ken Salazar was Attorney General, he traveled all over the state all the time, meeting with groups of regular people to talk about consumer fraud, senior fraud, other AG issues, whatever.  He didn’t have to do that, but he was connected.  I’m sure there are many other examples — but Hick definitely gives the impression he is not connected, and doesn’t think he needs to be.  And the pattern of speaking/acting like a Republican doesn’t sit well with a few of us — maybe more than a few.

  3. But he said that he didn’t like making a 150 million in education cuts on the day of the election.  I don’t seem to remember him addressing any of the concerns about how we can achieve an affordable education for all.  I guess the courts have now given him an incentive to look a little harder.

    You have to wonder how much longer Hickenlooper would have drawn out the process.  I guess a year wasn’t long enough for him to get the result he wanted which he doesn’t quite manage to tell us.

    Nobody likes being disappointed when there isn’t any noticable action.

    There is a difference between leading with restrained zeal and being MIA.

            1. I have never ever ever said that my positions are majority positions or that they are relevant to anyone but myself.

              My opinion and only my opinion is that Hickenlooper is more image than substance.

  4. I’m a pretty Hick-neutral voter who felt he was the best alternative.  I wished him well but have sense been surprised at how little of the partisan he brings to the office.  This is perhaps a good thing but it’s bound to be an irritant to the many Dems that urged him to run – not to mention the ones that worked tirelessly to get him elected.  

    The Repubs may love him now but when 2014 rolls around…  

  5. As a progressive and proud liberal who has put in a lot of hours for Democratic candidates and causes, how am I supposed to take these comments by Hickenlooper?

    Does he really believe that Democracy was not served and his appointments and the process didn’t work?

    He says he is disappointed in the Democratic maps.

    I think that the bitterness of, I think the Democrats could have had, you know, I think there was a way to do it without creating all those primaries. And I was disappointed.


    Why is this man carrying water for the Republicans?  What does he stand for and who does he represent?  If you read his statements you get a sense that he would have been happier if Republicans had stuck to the Democrats.  He’s disappointed.  Really?  Do you think a Republican governor would confess to the press that he was disappointed that Republican maps were accepted by the Supreme Court.  

    More you read these statements the more you realize just how out of touch with Democrats he is.  The Donald Trump of Denver flouting his disregard for his base.

    1. But I’m really curious: Why do you object to Hick “carrying water for the Republicans” but not to ColoradoPols carrying water for Hick? Why is it that even among the few commenters criticizing Hick in this thread, no one will criticize Pols for this fluffy shill diary? You all just absorb Pols’ party-line propaganda feed without any hint of skepticism, like it’s emanating from a divinely burning bush or something. Has it ever occurred to you that it might be healthy to wonder who ColoradoPols really is, who they’re really working for, how they profit from this, and what their motive is?

      1. What is Colorado Pols?

        A free website for cranky people such as myself to hang out and meet people such as yourself.

        What do they represent?

        Totally free political discourse without the restraint of political correct speech requirements.

        I tend to see them as less subservient to the Democratic Party elites than you but hey it’s a free forum.  Write up a diary about what hacks they are.  It will probably get a Front Page display.

          1. I appreciate his questioning authority too.  Nothing wrong with that.

            What if they headlined their diary with:

            Is John Hickenlooper a closet Republican playing a straight Democrat?

            Would that have been a more attention grabbing headline?

  6. is the boast that 80 out of a 100 members in the legislature voted for his government cutting budget as a sign of bi-partisan cooperation.

    Well of course he could get Republicans to vote for a budget that cuts government to the bone.  That’s no big accomplishment.  The bigger feat would have been if he was able to ask his conservative buddies for help with raising some revenue/taxes to help out the budget.  Probably wouldn’t get as enthusiastic cooperation as he does with his current policies of gutting education and government capability.

    1. with, and friendships within, the oil and gas industry as a possible reason for his metamorphosis.

      He was a petroluem engineer before he opened his first brewery. The personal relationships he developed during that period of time, I believe, have a great deal to do with what appears to be his drift away from the progressive wing of the Democratic party.

      It would be comforting to see some clear demonstration from the Governor that our doubts are misplaced. Not holding breath…

      1. writing oil & gas software so I don’t hold that against him.

        I don’t know if Hickenlooper was ever in the embrace of the progressive wing of the Democratic Party but what is most notable to me is the absence of any big vision or ideas.  At least Ritter got the ball rolling making Colorado a magnet for alternative energy companies.  It was a strategy that leveraged our sunshine and high tech work force and it has already achieved results.  Hickenlooper hasn’t come out with anything to match that strategy and as a savvy businessman you would expect to see some good business plans for the state.

        Of course he is better than Maes or Tancredo but he could throw us old liberals a bone and do something more than tell everyone that his cuts are going to hurt less than his conservative buddies would.

        1. industry in the early 80s’. Down in the “Big Thicket” in eastern Texas. It is a fascinating operation, in terms of the engineering and the science. Since then, I have had several family members in the industry and I have learned a great deal about the culture of the industry, too. People who work in the O&G industry develop a camaraderie, like many industries.

          I submit, though, that one thing that almost universally is noticable in (dare I say?) long term workers is a certain chip on their shoulder about environmental regulation, and by extention, environmentalists. I do not believe this can be solely attributed to the implied threat to their job security, but equally to a sort of resentment of their detractors as a self-defense mechanism.

          A vice-president of Bill Barrett Corporation, Duane Zavadil, once admitted in a report in the Glenwood Springs that his is an “intrusive” industry. He was understating the truth, but that realization creates a mechanism that builds solidarity in those who face, daily, the backlash of that “intrusiveness”.

          Loyalty is a BIG deal in the “awl bidness”. I also believe that most policy decisions are usually made in rooms not located at the Capitol. Certainly, the trend in the governors’ actions indicate a significantly more active presence of the COGA and CPA troops on the first floor of the Capitol, than during the tenure of his predecessor.

          I haven’t been there lately, but I am guessing the O&G lobby is fairly ubiquitous there. Probably more like the Owens “First Floor”.  Just guessing.


  7. Hickenlooper does not get involved in partisan news-cycle scrums unless they threaten his policy agenda.

    What the hell is his policy agenda? I know, I know: I shoulda asked that before the election. I guess I was just too enthraled with the idea of turning the election into a wet (T)shirt contest and happy the mansion wasn’t going to be turned over to a Repub.

    So what has he done? Worked for and passed a Republican budget. Appeased the gas patch rebels. Kissed Bush’s posterior for NCLB, Pissed and moaned about fair but Democrat friendly legislative maps. And, oh, yes, forged relationships with Repub lawmakers (per Pols, above).

    I think if a good strong primary challenger began to surface, he’d change parties in a flash. And probasbly should. It’s becoming really clear on which side of the aisle his allegiance is, and it’s not the side of middle class, working, struggling average Coloradans. His has been a backroom, pat-your-buddies-on-the-back style of “leadership” that does nothing to forge relationships with Andy and Mildred Colorado.

    We shoulda known: You can take the Hick out of a Seventeenth Street bar but you can’t take Seventeenth Street out of the Hick.

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