There’s an old saying in politics that if you’re not already running for office, it’s probably too late. With that in mind, many politicos have spent the past couple of days looking ahead and thinking about how to position themselves in the aftermath of Referenda C&D. There will be winners and losers politically when Referenda C&D is decided, and there will be some whose fate was already determined in their actions around C&D. This is only a partial list of who stands to gain or lose, but let’s take an early look.
Scenario #1: Referenda C&D Pass
The clear winners here are Democratic Speaker of the House Andrew Romanoff and Republican Governor Bill Owens. Reform of the “taxpayer’s bill of rights” (TABOR) has been Romanoff’s biggest flag for a long time, and he would rightly get much of the credit if it passes. Owens, meanwhile, would be somewhat vindicated in victory, even though many conservative Republicans will never forgive him for supporting what they say is a tax increase.
Jon Caldara and the whole Independence Institute, as well as former Senate President John Andrews, will get much of the blame if C&D pass. Caldara and Andrews continually stuck their feet in their respective mouths on the campaign trail, and their outrageous comments and inability to back up their arguments with facts made it a lot easier for the YES campaign to make their case.
Scenario #2: Referenda C&D Fail
Republican gubernatorial candidate Marc Holtzman, and for different (and lesser) reasons, fellow candidate Bob Beauprez. Holtzman would be the clear winner if C&D fail after spending much of his time campaigning against it in an effort to both raise his name ID and to prove his conservative credentials.
Beauprez really didn’t take a stand on C&D and didn’t do much to help the NO campaign, but he would benefit if the measures fail nonetheless; if C&D pass, Holtzman will be able to skewer Beauprez for doing little to help the conservative cause. In some ways, in fact, Holtzman can benefit whether C&D pass or fail, but he would clearly be the biggest winner if they fail.
The people involved with running the C&D campaign are going to take a hit because they had the bipartisan coalition and the money to make this work. This is a tough thing to sell because it’s so hard to explain, but the YES campaign had most of the practical advantages. Expect to see a lot of finger-pointing if it loses.
Governor Owens is also going to be one of the big losers if this fails. He abandoned his fiscal conservative credentials to support something he thought was vital for the state, and it cost him the support of fiscal conservatives everywhere. If C&D lose, Owens will have taken a big political hit with nothing to show for it.
Scenario #3: What We Know Already
As I mentioned before, Holtzman comes out of this, win or lose, in a much stronger position. He made himself the face of the NO campaign to raise his name ID and attact conservative voters that he’ll need in a primary next August. His rabid support for C&D may hurt him in a general election, but his eyes are on the primary right now.
Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper’s skydiving ad only added to his growing legend as a genius of perception. People who won’t remember C&D a year from now will have a lasting memory of the “fun-loving” Hick from that advertisement.
Senate President Joan Fitz-Gerald didn’t get much benefit out of the C&D campaign. Her vocal support probably makes her more vulnerable in her district, and the experience may have led her to decide not to run for governor.
Rep. Bob Beauprez was publicly indecisive about his role in the C&D campaign, and he let Holtzman pass him up as the fiscal conservative torch-bearer. This was not well played by teh Beauprez campaign.