Salazar : Only Half a Democrat?

February 18 2005, 6:52 AM
Ken Salazar, Colorado's new U.S. Senator, continues to confound his party's faithful with his dual voting pattern. First there was his support for Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, opposed by almost every other Democratic Senator in Congress. Then came his vote for Condoleeza Rice as Secretary of State. On Social Security, he stood with the Dems, even making a public statement against privatization of retirement accounts. But on the consumer-unfriendly bill to limit class action lawsuits, first he balked at the bill and tried to amend it, and then he voted for the Bush-endorsed bill. The next issue will be judicial nominations. Where does Salazar stand on those nominees the Democrats deem unacceptable? Can Democrats count on Salazar? The answer, not surprisingly, is maybe yes, maybe no. Salazar says he will oppose the "nuclear option," a move by Republicans to prevent filibustering over judicial nominations. That's good news. But he may vote to confirm former Interior Department Solicitor William G. Myers III , despite almost universal Democratic opposition due to Meyers' environmental record. That's bad news. Last year Salazar was one of a group of state attorney generals signing a letter endorsing Meyers.
The Jan. 30, 2004, letter said Myers showed "outstanding legal reasoning" in his work on endangered species, Indian affairs, federal lands and water, timber, and fish and wildlife issues.
Now, Salazar says he isn't sure.
He said he won't decide how to vote on Myers' nomination until the confirmation process is completed. "The perspective I had (at the time of the letter) was one that came from serving as attorney general and working with Bill on Western issues," Salazar said Tuesday. "I now have a broader responsibility of voting up or down. I have to look at his record."
Salazar would have us believe he is "bridging the partisan divide." Our Democrat-turned-Republican former Sen. Ben Nighthorse Campbell approvingly refers to him as a moderate Democrat. What they both mean is he's a conservative Democrat....a Republican lite. But then, Democrats knew that before electing him.