We've seen plenty of stories both locally and nationally about the continuing controversy with the Jefferson County School Board — a controversy that will almost certainly impact the outcome of several key races in November, as we pointed out early and often.
Today the Denver Post takes a deeper look — on the front page of the paper, no less — into the political consequences of a right-wing school board angering a community that is always paying attention to education issues. As John Frank writes for the Post, the crossover into the 2014 election is impossible to ignore:
It's dark and a moth circles the halo of a porch light as state lawmaker Brittany Pettersen knocks on the door of a potential swing voter in this all-important Denver suburb. Hours of canvassing ended at the home of Brian Leffler, a 36-year-old independent voter. Pettersen, a first-term Democratic House member, asks him what issue is foremost in his mind this election year. A chorus of insects fills the silence as Leffler thinks. It doesn't take him more than a moment to name a top issue. "The whole schools thing going on in Jefferson County — that's the main thing right now," Leffler said. "I know that has very little to do with you, but they are talking about taking things out of the curriculum."
Door after door, the same refrain. The turmoil at the Jefferson County school board regarding the conservative majority's plans to revamp teacher pay and curriculum is emerging as a key issue in the November elections.
"The fact it comes up naturally in conversations is really reflective of what's happening," Pettersen said. [Pols emphasis]
In an election season with no single national issue dominating the conversation, Jefferson County's vote is a volatile political cocktail that proves all politics is local.
Education. The Democratic Party enthusiasm gap. Abortion. Marijuana. The Republican Party rift. Guns. The economy.
And the stakes couldn't get much higher: The county is likely to decide which party controls the state Senate, the governor's mansion and the U.S. Senate, a combination with far-reaching implications in Colorado and Washington.
Both Democrats and Republicans have figured out that the 2014 elections may hinge on the actions of Jeffco's screwy school board, though Democrats were much quicker to respond. Republicans have tried to push back with a ridiculous message accusing the teacher's union of, well, everything, but that attempted pivot isn't going to work in a county where students, parents, and teachers have taken to the streets in protest for more than a month now. As Frank astutely points out in his story above, this is an issue that is moving along under its own power — which is going to make it awfully difficult for Republicans to redirect as ballots start landing in mailboxes this week.