The TABOR amendment has been a lightning rod in Colorado politics since it was passed by voters in 1992.
Some love it, some hate it, but everyone has an opinion about it.
There’s no confusion with how former Gov. Roy Romer feels about TABOR.
At a party celebrating Gov. John Hickenlooper’s inauguration this week, Romer openly urged Hickenlooper to lead a movement to repeal the TABOR amendment.
He didn’t say it needed tweaking, or to work across the aisle to find a way to keep funds designated for refunds. He pushed for a movement to repeal the entire law.
Hickenlooper joined the applause at the party, but has refused to do anything but comment that TABOR is part of a financial thicket, along with Amendment 23 and the Gallagher Amendment.
Whether he admires Romer’s point of view or not, I cannot imagine that Hickenlooper wants the fight that will come from proposing a repeal of TABOR.
At this point, Hickenlooper doesn’t even seem to want to ask to keep a refund.
Romer has rarely been a wallflower in Colorado politics. He’s also used to partisan fights since he’s worked with the Democratic Party on the national level.
But he may be vastly underestimating not only the state’s desire to see the law repealed, but also his own party’s appetite for a fight that will make the 2013 battle over gun control look like a baby shower.
When not in public, many Republican lawmakers will admit that TABOR isn’t perfect and makes it difficult to effectively govern. But while in public, nary a member of the GOP will come out against the law.
If Hickenlooper or any high profile Democrat takes the fight over TABOR public and pushes for a full repeal, it will be a purely partisan battle and difficult to pull independents their way.
Romer may be giving what he feels is helpful advice, but creating a movement, as he puts it, is a lift that I don’t see many Democrats wanting to attempt.
I know Hickenlooper is term limited, but he doesn’t look interested in taking on a battle that would in all likelihood define his political legacy.
For a politician that has been far more comfortable appearing as a moderate, to take on such a partisan issue in his second gubernatorial term would be unlikely at best.
Romer may not like TABOR and may want a fellow Democrat to do something about it. But this kind of a fight needs a warrior, not a diplomat.
There may be a warrior out there willing to take on the populist goliath, but Hickenlooper is not it.
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– 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 usually 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 is also the host and producer of the Emmy award winning Colorado Inside Out on Colorado Public Television.