SATURDAY UPDATE: The Denver Post editorial board busts Rep. Cory Gardner's chops pretty well today:
"When asked about the 51st state initiative previously, Congressman Gardner has said that he loves Colorado," [Gardner spokesman Alex] Siciliano added.
OK, but does he love Colorado enough to stay a part of it?
FOX 31's Eli Stokols reports:
State Sen. Greg Brophy, one of four prominent Republicans vying to be their party’s gubernatorial candidate next year, told FOX31 Denver Thursday that he will vote against a ballot measure for Yuma County to secede from the state of Colorado and form a 51st state along with other rural counties.
“It’s a drastic thing, like a couple that’s been married for 50 years suddenly filing for divorce,” Brophy said Thursday. “I’m running for governor to be the marriage counselor, to help bring this state back together."
Resisting the urge to make a joke out of Sen. Greg Brophy's "marriage counselor" analogy, he's the second candidate for high office in Colorado after U.S. Senate candidate Ken Buck to come out against the secession proposals being voted on next week in ten rural Colorado counties. Buck and Brophy were under particular pressure to take a stand on secession, being items on their respective ballots in Yuma and Weld counties.
While it isn’t politically advantageous for any politician running for statewide office, however conservative, to embrace the rather extreme initiative of secession, the movement itself isn’t something candidates like Buck or Brophy, both facing primaries in their respective races, will belittle.
In both cases, they express sympathy for the "disaffection" felt by rural citizens that supposedly led to the drive by county commissioners in these rural counties to place the measure on the ballot. In this way, Buck and Brophy are able to capitalize on the secession movement's energy while appearing "grownup" about supporting this extremely unlikely proposal. It's also a nice segue into the alternative "Phillips County Plan," which would directly conflict with a 1960s civil rights-era U.S. Supreme Court decision mandating equal representation by population in state legislative redistricting. Given that the "one man, one vote" principle upheld by the Reynolds v. Sims decision is on the Heritage Foundation's "activist court" hit list, we expect that Brophy will be more than happy to make this as-of-now unconstitutional proposal an issue in next year's legislative session.
Also voting–quite possibly already having voted–is Rep. Cory Gardner of Yuma. Gardner has repeatedly failed to disclose his views on the secession question, most recently dismissing it as a "state issue." That's a particularly inadequate answer in Gardner's case, since not only will he personally be voting on secession, but any attempt to actually carry out secession would require a vote in Congress. With that in mind, Gardner really does have an obligation to take a stand one way or the other.
Maybe Gardner secretly views secession as his only shot at a U.S. Senate seat? He could at least say that.