(CBS4) – With Election Day less than 8 weeks away, legal flights are flying in Colorado. One involved the request for an emergency restraining order against the Ballot Informational Booklet, of the Blue Book. The other over changes at the United States Postal Service that could impact delivery of mail ballots. For perspective, CBS4 Political Specialist Shaun Boyd sat down to talk with our political analysts Democrat Mike Dino and Republican Dick Wadhams.
Boyd started with the USPS lawsuit filed by Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser, a Democrat. She asked if the suit is political.
“We shouldn’t even have this issue about the Postal Service, I must say it was one of those times where President Trump said some things he shouldn’t have, which made it an issue,” Wadhams started. “Now having said that, Democrats have demogogued this issue very effectively for several weeks now.”
“Attorney General Weiser has proven to be a very partisan Attorney General. I think this is all about partisan politics and it really is not in the spirit of previous Attorneys General going back to Ken Salazar, John Suthers and others. I just think he has taken the office in a partisan direction we really haven’t ever seen before.”
Dino had a different take on where the politics are falling. “Louis DeJoy (the Postmaster General) is a political appointee of the president’s and his company, well former company now, but since 2013 has made $286 million off the federal government. So do I think there’s politics involved? The president, as he always does, tends to say something that gets people fired up, particularly on the Democratic side and Democrats have made a lot of this issue.”
“I don’t think Phil Weiser is any more political than some of the previous, maybe the most recent Attorneys General on the Republican side. He’s just a very capable lawyer and we’re in a very highly politicized time so I think it’s easy in this issue to file a lawsuit. It’s pre-emptive, in a way, to say if something happens, we’re coming after you.”
The other legal fight involved the description of Amendment B in the Ballot Information Booklet, know as the Blue Book. That informational booklet provides voters with the text, title and what is supposed to be a fair and impartial analysis of the issues on the statewide ballot.
The state Legislature referred Amendment B which has to do with property tax rates, the requirement for the state legislature to periodically change the rate and how that impacts funding for agencies like fire departments, police departments, hospitals, K-12 education and other services. It would repeal the Gallagher Amendment, passed in 1982, which has a complex formula for setting property tax rates.
The group behind the request to stop the Blue Book release say changes were made to the language in the pamphlet to make sure it would pass. Both Republicans and Democrats were part of the group.
While the legal action may have failed, our analysts agreed that effort and the amendment itself raises important issues in Colorado.
“Colorado has got a hodgepodge of financial entanglements in the way we have to manage our state budget,” Dino said, “and taking the Gallagher Amendment out … would be a good first step in my view.”
Wadhams wondered just how many voters actually use the Blue Book when making decision.
“I think the voters who take their responsibility as a voter seriously do, but I hate to say, it’s probably not overwhelming numbers.”
Wadhams also pointed out the bipartisan nature when it seems to come to anything related to the Gallagher Amendment.
“Mike is right. It’s the first step of what’s probably a long term debate on our fiscal situation. I think Democrats in their hearts want to repeal TABOR (Taxpayers Bill of Rights) someday. I don’t think they ever will be able to but that’s what the ultimate goal will be.”
TABOR, passed in 1992, limits the amount of revenue the state can retain and spend. It also requires voters to approve any new tax.
Mike Dino is a Democratic government affairs expert with more than 30 years of experience. He was the CEO of the 2008 Democratic National Convention Host Committee where President Obama received his historic nomination. Dino also served as the executive director of Denver’s Task Force for the 1997 Summit of the Eight.
Dick Wadhams is Republican political consultant who has worked with former Colorado Senator Wayne Allard and former Colorado Governor Bill Owens. He also worked on John Thune’s upset victor over then United States Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle in South Dakota. Wadhams was elected as the Chair of the Colorado Republican Party in 2007 and 2009.