They think the governor has lost his mind. They think he's just handed the Dems the governorship, continuing control of the Legislature, and another couple seats in Congress. They think Christmas is coming early in 2006 -- on Nov. 5 of that year, to be exact.
Look at the bills that Owens vetoed. They included, notably, bipartisan efforts to control the cost of prescription drugs as well as to regulate private toll roads.
These were sensible, centrist pieces of legislation, aimed at saving the state money on the one hand and protecting property rights on the other. So why did Owens shoot 'em down?
His stated reasons are, to put it charitably, bizarre. In vetoing the prescription drug bill, which would have required Colorado to join multi-state purchasing pools, Owens stated that he didn't want the state to be in the business of buying drugs and creating a vast new entitlement program in today's fiscally constrained environment. Huh? Governor, does the word "Medicaid" sound familiar? The state spends tens of millions annually on prescription drugs. This bill's aimed at reducing these expenditures, not increasing them!
And why did he veto the bills aimed at protecting the folks along the path of the so-called "Super Slab," a high-speed private toll road that might be constructed on the Eastern Plains between Fort Collins and Pueblo? Basically, he said that we shouldn't put any roadblocks in the way of kind-hearted entrepreneurs who might want to build private toll roads. After all, in this era of fiscal constraint, how else can we build roads?
That argument, as far as Colorado politics goes, is simply nonsensical. The Super Slab's proposed route, a few miles east of Denver and Colorado Springs, blasts right through 200 miles of solidly Republican exurbs. These are people who believe in gun rights, property rights and George W. Bush. They're mad as hell, and they're not gonna take it anymore! They'll do whatever it takes to protect their homes, their property and their peaceful lives -- even (gasp! choke!) vote for a Democrat. With a stroke of the pen, Owens just handed every one of their votes over to any moderate, nonthreatening Democrat whom the Donksters might nominate for governor. That's maybe a 50,000-vote swing -- enough to win.
So why did the Guv do it? It's simple: For Owens, Colorado politics is so last year. He's term-limited, out for good in 2006. He doesn't want to be another sniveling ex-politician, an irrelevant leftover, shut out of A-list parties forever. He needs a Washington job. That's why he's chosen to suck up to the national Republican power people, to whom ideological purity is all-important.
Having deviated a hair from the party line by supporting a TABOR fix, he's gotta get back on the reservation. And if that means helping Big Pharma by propping up drug prices, or going along with the illusory promises of private road builders, so be it. It's a small price to pay for that coveted subcabinet position or a cushy job in the private sector. After all, what's more important? A prime job for Bill, or the welfare of our great state?
If you still don't believe that Owens no longer cares one thing about Colorado politics, consider this: Suppose you, as governor, could make a simple no-cost decision that would delight your strongest supporters and displease no one. Would you do it? Of course you would -- unless you're Bill Owens, who, by snubbing the Pikes Peak quarter, seems to have infuriated thousands of Springsites. What's worse, he selected a sneakily generic Longs Peak -- Denver's mountain! Just shows, once again, that we get no respect, no respect at all.
But you know those Dems. They're just biding their time until they can introduce their very own quarter, with a view of a beautiful peak in the Mosquito Range, one of a trio of 14ers near Alma ...