Ritter: I Never Promised To Sign Death Penalty Repeal

Responding directly to claims made by our readers, Politics West reports:

House Bill 1274, which would repeal the death penalty, awaits a hearing in a Senate committee. The former prosecutor, however, denied assertions made on a Democratic blog site that he had committed to signing such a death penalty repeal bill during his 2006 campaign.

“I have not committed to signing it,” Ritter said. “It is a bill where I have committed to listening to the people who will be making the case (and) others who are opposed to it. There was a great deal of testimony on both sides of this.

“I’ll do what I do in these kinds of situations where people have requested to talk to me before I make my decision.”

To be clear, we (meaning your humble hosts) never mentioned this alleged promise in any of our postings on House Bill 1274. But a number of our readers did in comments, in sufficient numbers and from enough unconnected circles that we’d say it’s a common perception–many people believe Ritter did make this campaign promise in 2006.

And now he says he didn’t. Either he’s wrong, or several of our generally-reliable community members are independently wrong–we’ll rely on that same community to crowdsource the truth of the matter, and let the chips fall where they may.

25 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. Karate Kid says:

    One of your supporters (he/she posts under the name “Republican 36”) claims that you have “internal” polling that differs with the PPP polling of last week.  But you didn’t pay for any polling, according to your finance reports!  Who did?  As a D.A., you must know that accepting in-kind polling would be illegal, as it would almost certainly exceed the contribution cap.

    • ClubTwitty says:

      I took the liberty of rewriting your post to up the accuracy.

      One of your supporters Some anonymous blogger(he/she posts under the name “Republican 36”) writing on blog rife with rumor and speculation, claims that you have “internal” polling that differs with the PPP polling of last week.  But you didn’t pay for any polling, according to your finance reports!  Who did?  As a D.A., you must know that accepting in-kind polling would be illegal, as it would almost certainly exceed the contribution cap, just as I, another anonymous blogger well known for putting fantasy ahead of fact must know that it would be silly for you or anyone in your office to take me seriously.  

      • Libertad says:

        Day 8 of the Ritter-McInnis mystery polling contest.

        Ritter: $117k, polling and officially running

        McInnis: $0, technically not running, is polling and has ahhhh 527 too!

    • Canines says:

      The Governor is no longer a District Attorney.

      But maybe Politics West will ask Ritter about your allegations and you’ll get your answer.

  2. cdsmith says:

    I certainly hope Ritter signs this bill, for any number of reasons.  But I also am glad to have a governor who doesn’t think his decisions should be dictated by concessions he supposedly made during the campaign.  That sort of inside politics certainly isn’t what anyone outside the political establishment wants to see.

    • DavidThi808 says:

      Anything said during the campaign is a concession and voters then want the individual to throw out all those promises and start over???

      • cdsmith says:

        The idea I got was that this was one of those extorted things in exchange for support by a political group.  So I’d rather politicians not do that at all; but yeah, if they do, I’d rather they change their minds.  Clean and transparent government is important; more important than any one given issue.  And whether the governor keeps his personal promises to individuals is between him and those individuals.

        If it were a public promise he made to the people of Colorado, part of what they were voting on, then that would be a different matter.  But the fact that confirming the promise was ever made seems to involve whether one guy wants to stay anonymous… well, that seems to indicate otherwise.  I can understand how private promises like this might be important to groups who like to think (and unfortunately might be right) that their money and organizational power counts for more than the votes of Colorado voters.  To the rest of us, it looks like corruption plain and simple.  Not illegal, but still corrupt.

        • redstateblues says:

          Like the Colorado Promise? How’s that working out for him? Tends of thousands Coloradans are still uninsured, and the only thing he’s really done a good job on is the New Energy Economy–which is far from enough to shore up the economy.

          their money and organizational power counts for more than the votes of Colorado voters.

          Colorado voters didn’t vote Ritter in because they wanted him to veto the death penalty bill. That’s a pretty ass backwards way of looking at this. It’s not about money or organizational power, it’s about voters who asks the governor a question and get an answer. How is that corruption? Seems more like political expediency to me.

          • cdsmith says:

            Ritter may or may not have promised someone he’d sign a bill that repeals the death penalty.  If he did, he told one person, but not the rest of the state.  Now a particular bill shows up that repeals the death penalty, and he wants to listen to public comments and make an informed decision.  As for me, I’ll support him in that.

            I’m inclined to believe he didn’t make the promise anyway.  Ritter was pretty careful in his campaign not to make unqualified statements that he would sign bills without regard to the details.  He said a lot about what ideas he supports; that’s a different matter from a promise to sign a bill that doesn’t even exist yet.  We don’t really know, though, because apparently one anonymous person alleges to have heard the promise, but doesn’t care to provide details.  Frankly, if it turns out Ritter privately made a solemn committment to this one person to sign such a broad class of legislation and then didn’t tell anyone else about it, that would be pretty disappointing.  I don’t think it happened.

            Now I hope he does sign the bill.  Signing the bill is, morally speaking, the only justifiable choice.  I just hope he doesn’t sign it because of some stupid idea that he has to because he mentioned to someone once that he supports the idea.

            • redstateblues says:

              but I don’t think it’s stupid to think that politicians should follow through on things they tell voters–even if it’s not in a stump speech.

  3. redstateblues says:

    I wasn’t alone in the perception that he promised it. Several other people, on other sites too, not just this one, said the same thing.

    Most likely I won’t be able to find a link, considering it was a one-on-one conversation, but if that person who he made the promise to sees this, please explain why the Governor believes he never promised it.

    • DavidThi808 says:

      Politicians are by and large agreeable creatures. They have to be as “vote for me asshole” tends to be a turn-off (why I’ll never run for office).

      So it is also quite possible that Ritter gave this impression to a lot of people who very much wanted to hear exactly this, but never actualy specifically promised it. If so, you do see something like this where everyone is going I’m pretty sure he said… but there is no explicit statement anywhere.

      Your post is exactly the right thing to do – ask if anyone does have something specific.

      • redstateblues says:

        I may have to eat a nice big slice of humble pie on this one because chances are you’re right that it was a non-promise promise Dave.

        That doesn’t change the fact that if the Guv does veto it, he’ll be upsetting his already upset base even more.

        • RedGreen says:

          It’s a good question whether Ritter’s “base” favors repealing the death penalty. His base is the very middle of the electorate.

          From Ryan Lizza’s New Yorker profile of Ritter:

          These voters were the key to Ritter’s victory. “If you win among the liberals, and you win all the government pragmatists, then you’re over fifty per cent,” he said as we pulled off the highway and arrived at the sprawling and very modern campus of the University of Colorado at Boulder. “But you may not win all the government pragmatists for one reason or another. So you have to carve into those moral pragmatists, and I think the reason we won pretty significantly was because we carved heavily into that group.”

          There are nearly twice as many “government pragmatists,” at 37 percent of the Colorado electorate, as there are liberal voters, who make up 20 percent.

          Does anyone really think the liberals constitute the “base” of an anti-abortion Catholic and former district attorney?


          • redstateblues says:

            I think that, since Ritter is a Democrat, he still needs the 20 percent of liberals who voted for him in 2006.

            So maybe we’re not the base but we’re an incredibly important constituency that he will need the support of if he wants to get re-elected.

            We’ll have to see whether the next round of polling confirms the much-debated PPP poll, or if it turns out that Ritter’s support among the “government pragmatists” hasn’t actually evaporated.

  4. redstateblues says:

    they told me that their source on this is someone whom they believe to be absolutely unimpeachable but who wants to remain anonymous.

    The source asked Governor Ritter at a campaign fundraiser in 2006 if he would sign a death penalty abolition bill, and he replied (paraphrasing here) that he would. Neither a casual insinuation, nor a steadfast promise, just a statement that he would. To me that amounts to a promise.

    It’s possible that the Governor forgot about this conversation as this was 3 years ago.

    So for now it’s the Guv’s word against ours, and without the source being willing to give me a quote (and a name) I can’t really prove that the Governor went back on his word.

    Boy, what a fun-filled morning. At least we know the Post reporters read the site 🙂

  5. WesternSlopeThought says:

    of this particular blog community to prove or disprove any poster’s claim.  This, much like the Kid’s silly juvenile rant about what an anonymous blogger posted as being gospel, is pure fiction as long as it hinges on an anonymous opinion.  

    • redstateblues says:

      hinges on anonymous opinion.

      • WesternSlopeThought says:

        but no one should equate it to empirical evidence, fact or truth.

        • redstateblues says:

          Which is why I tried to find it. Since none exists, this is obviously dead.

          The difference between me and Karate Kid is that I actively tried to find evidence to support my claim, whereas he just screams into the ether.

          I had no idea that a Denver Post reporter was going to ask the Governor, and that the Governor would deny it. All I was doing was making a comment based on things that several other people had said.

          Plus, unlike the Kid, I will admit when there’s nothing tangible there.

          • WesternSlopeThought says:

            You tried to find any evidence to support the claim.  And when there was none, said so.  As political season approaches, we should all we wary of Wadhams telling someone to put out a rumor anonymously and not fall in to his traps.  And no, I have no evidence Wadhams was behind this but political operatives like he and Karl Rove are indeed known for slimeball tactics.  

  6. Jambalaya says:

    …never will I believe what I read again!  ‘sniff

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