Our view: Hickenlooper is leading us in right direction | PostIndependent.com

Our view: Hickenlooper is leading us in right direction

John Hickenlooper
Christopher Mullen / Post Independent |

The case for Bob Beauprez to be governor boils down to this:

He’s a traditional Republican — a social conservative who would work to cut regulation and taxes; and, most of all, he’s not John Hickenlooper.

That’s not enough. In fact, these are exactly the wrong reasons for Colorado, a purple state with an economy that’s outpacing others, to toss out a pro-business governor who works hard to seek consensus and has shown solid leadership during a series of crises.

Colorado must seize its head start and natural advantages in employment, diversity and economic growth. It does not need divisive fights over social issues or economic zealotry to continue building prosperity.

Usually, the re-election campaign of a governor is a referendum on the economy. In Ohio, where Republican Gov. John Kasich can tout turning a deficit into a surplus and nation-leading job growth after the recession, the incumbent’s re-election is a cakewalk. (That’s partly because of a weak and blundering Democratic candidate, something of a theme nationwide this year.)

Colorado, with better economic numbers than Ohio and strong assessments from Forbes (No. 5 among “Best States for Business”) and Business Insider (fastest growth in the nation), is headed in the right direction.

Beauprez, a pro-life, pro-gun, anti-Obamacare, anti-gay marriage, anti-renewable energy conservative ideologue, is working hard to run against Barack Obama. Politically, that’s a fine strategy. But when it comes time to govern a state that is attracting a diverse population of workers from around the nation, it promises divisive and unnecessary battles that move us backward.

Beauprez, who has been campaigning for months, just released his economic plan.

From the Colorado Independent:

“Beauprez promised to audit state government and slash all ‘anti-freedom’ regulations, including taking a serious look at Colorado’s new first-in-the-nation air-quality standard, which regulates methane. … He also advocated shorter wait times for oil-and-gas drilling permits and to reconsider the new rural renewable-energy standard.

“Beauprez maintained that real unemployment is still above 10 percent in Colorado, but asserted that any uptick in the economy resulting from deregulation should, and could, be followed by the kind of income-tax cuts that characterized Bill Owens’ term as governor.”

That approach to natural gas stands in contrast to Hickenlooper’s efforts to bring various interests to the table and arrive at rules that address continued concerns about protecting health and the environment. It’s not like Hickenlooper has been too tough on the oil and gas industry. Many Democrats and environmentalists are disappointed by what they see as his support for the industry.

And conservatives always like to cut taxes. As folks in Kansas, now swimming in red ink and hit with downgraded bond ratings after Gov. Sam Brownback’s deep tax cuts, have learned, they can go too far. In a growing state, we must invest in infrastructure. As Hickenlooper does on natural gas and other issues, we must seek a balanced approach to move the state forward.

Hickenlooper is criticized for not being decisive.

They cite his reprieve for murderer Nathan Dunlap, who is a reprehensible human being. But Hickenlooper’s changing his mind on the death penalty in a state with three men on death row that has conducted exactly one execution since 1967 is hardly an issue that will influence our quality of life and economy. Nor did much-vilified restrictions on high-volume magazines take away anyone’s guns. Coloradans remain adequately armed.

The Denver Post, in endorsing Hickenlooper, cited the 13 federal disaster declarations in the state during his first term and the Aurora theater shooting, and said his handling of these “demonstrates his ability to function under pressure. It also belies the accusation from critics that he is indecisive or somehow too reflective — as if taking the full measure of an issue is a sign of weakness.

“It is not. By any fair assessment, Hickenlooper has been more than just a capable governor. He’s been a highly effective one.”

Hickenlooper truly wants consensus, even sounding Pollyannaish in a meeting this summer at the Post Independent about his hopes that folks from different parts of the state will join hands and sing “Kumbaya” over a water plan. It’s hard to achieve consensus in a polarized national environment in which his state opponents want to run against an unpopular president.

Three points here: Barack Obama will not be our governor.

John Hickenlooper is not perfect.

Nor would Beauprez be. But he would be more divisive, and he would make the state less inviting to the diverse population we must continue to attract to fill the jobs we need to move the economy ahead.

What we have now is a pro-business governor who’s a capable crisis manager and a likeable, if sometimes-screwy guy with an irritating tendency to punctuate sentences with “right?”

He often is less than polished as a politician, and that’s gotten him in trouble. But he is leading a state that is moving in the right direction. We would risk our forward momentum if we take a sudden right turn. Right?

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