With today’s news that gasoline prices could reach $3-a-gallon by this weekend, this issue has taken on a greater role in the public consciousness. Escalating gas prices have been a hot topic for weeks, but the $3 threshold should push those concerns to a new level.
From a political standpoint, it is surprising that no local politicians have really jumped on high gas prices for politican gain. The issue has been discussed here and there, but thus far nobody has really used it as an issue for grandstanding (in sharp contrast to the immigration bandwagon that everyone tried to drive last spring).
Part of the problem for politicians with the gas increase is that nobody really knows what to do to about it. This is a tough issue for local politicians, because unless they are willing to consider something like statewide price caps (as Hawaii has inacted) then options are limited.
For Colorado’s congressional delegation, this is a different story — but where are the cries for action? There’s a tough race in congressional district seven shaping up, but none of the candidates there have said much about this issue. Rep. Mark Udall (D-Boulder) is running for re-election in 2006 and then for the U.S. Senate in 2008; Rep. John Salazar (D-Pueblo) will have a difficult re-election race in 2006; and Rep. Marilyn Musgrave (R-Greeley) is always challenged. So where are they?
The one place in the near future that this issue could really take hold is in the campaign for and against Referenda C&D. If the “YES” campaign, for example, could figure out a logical way to tie gas prices into the state budget crisis, they would have a hot-button issue that might really resonate with voters in November.
Political campaigns are always looking for an issue that will touch the majority of voters in Colorado. The irony is that sometimes a great issue comes along…and nobody really knows how to fix it.