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Politics

How the House GOP Will Save Hickenlooper, Part 1

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Sen. Rollie Heath on Monday (credit: CBS)

Sen. Rollie Heath on Monday (credit: CBS)

Written by Dominic Dezzutti

If you are an avid reader of this blog, you already know that I consider Gov. John Hickenlooper one of the luckiest, if not the luckiest elected leader in Colorado history.

This is not to say that his many victories weren’t earned, but the simple fact is that Hickenlooper has found himself in more beneficial accidental circumstances than any other Colorado politician in the modern era.

The latest example of this luck in action is going to happen when State Sen. Rollie Heath’s tax increase idea eventually gets to the State House and gets roundly defeated before it ever gets to Hickenlooper’s desk for a veto stamp.

This of course is assuming the Heath’s idea to raise taxes in Colorado to help raise funds for K-12 and higher education gets that far.

Senator Heath is not as convinced as the governor that Coloradans do not have an appetite for a tax increase. Heath says he was pushed into action when Hickenlooper suggested cutting $312 million from K-12 education funding in order to balance the state budget.

1094284511 How the House GOP Will Save Hickenlooper, Part 1

Gov. John Hickenlooper speaks to the media after a meeting with President Barack Obama at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building Feb. 25, 2011 in Washington, DC. Obama met with Democratic governors to discuss the ways Washington and the states can work together to create jobs and benefit the economy. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

But my point has less to do with tax increases and more to do with seeing the luxury Hickenlooper has in a State House with a Republican majority.

Hickenlooper will not be put in the very uncomfortable position of vetoing a bill from his own party because he disagrees with the plan, thanks to the GOP advantage in the State House.

This good fortune never happened to former Governor Bill Ritter. In fact, just the opposite happened to him a few times, leading some to criticize Ritter for not doing more to stop these kinds of bills before they hit an embarrassing end on his desk.

Hickenlooper won’t have that problem because Republicans will beat him to it. A GOP House is the ultimate stopgap on bills that Hickenlooper disagrees with.

This isn’t simply just a lucky luxury for Hickenlooper. Frankly, it may very well extend his political life for years. If the House can stop any bill that may push Hickenlooper too far left, Hickenlooper can stay as centrist as he likes which will keep many of Colorado’s independent voters happy with his balance.

So not only will Hickenlooper avoid losing face with his own party by not agreeing with a potentially major Democratic initiative, but he’ll also get to seem even more independent since he can issue opinions from his office without doing the dirty work of killing bills.

Republicans only have the majority in the State House by one vote, and that last vote was elected to the House by less than 200 voters.

With what the GOP House will do for him, Gov. Hickenlooper should send each of them a thank you note.

About The Blogger

- Dominic Dezzutti, producer of the Colorado Decides debate series, a co-production of CBS4 and Colorado Public Television, looks at the local and national political scene in his CBSDenver.com blog. Read new entries here every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Dezzutti writes about federal, state and local matters and how our elected leaders are handling the issues important to Colorado. Dezzutti also produces the Emmy winning Colorado Inside Out, hosted by Raj Chohan, on Colorado Public Television.

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