Gov. John Hickenlooper delivered his second State of the State address on Thursday. While he didn’t announce any earth-shaking policy goals, he did use his annual bully pulpit in a near perfect fashion to continue to solidify his role as this state’s political leader.
WATCH VIDEO: State of the State speech
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Hickenlooper’s speech was well crafted and hit the right tones in three areas.
Entrepreneurship – Hickenlooper understands that everyone continues to be focused on the economy. But Hickenlooper found the right angle of the economy that can appeal to people from both sides of the aisle by centering his comments on entrepreneurship in Colorado.
Entrepreneurship speaks to the spirit of Colorado and of the West. It also speaks to an area of the economy that almost everyone would like to see bolstered. When Hickenlooper drew a focus on entrepreneurs and said he wants to cut policies in government that get in the way of entrepreneurs, he likely found a great deal of support from voters and various political leaders as well. It was a great decision to focus a speech that had to be about the economy on a part of the economy that many of us can agree upon.
Bipartisanship – As he did last year, Hickenlooper did not use his speech as a way to push for many progressive policy issues. He certainly talked about a couple of issues that were important to his own Democratic party, such as encouraging the passage of a civil unions law for same gender couples, but he didn’t use the speech to alienate the Republican party.
Hickenlooper also used the opportunity to remind his colleagues of the importance of bipartisanship. Many times Hickenlooper praised his colleagues for the ability to work together as the United States Congress stays mired in gridlock on a regular basis. That praise seemed like a very distinct reminder to his colleagues that he intends to keep things balanced, even if they don’t.
TBD Colorado – Hickenlooper used his State of the State address to announce a major initiative from his office, an initiative he and his staff have dubbed, TBD, To Be Determined. TBD refers to a program that will look to get citizens’ input on where the state should be going.
While the idea may seem a bit ambiguous, by relying on citizen input on where the state should be headed, he is telling voters directly that their voices are valued. Most voters don’t necessarily need to have direct input to the future of government. But those same voters still like the idea of being asked, instead of seeing another blue ribbon committee of community leaders being asked the same thing.
While I think Hickenlooper’s State of the State speech was well crafted, I certainly understand that it is only a speech and it is unlikely that it will change the course of history in Colorado.
However, an effective State of the State can set a tone for colleagues and fuel much needed optimism. That tone and optimism are needed more than ever here in Colorado in 2012.
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.