Governor urges voters to oust negative campaigners
During a whistle-stop speech at the Gashouse Restaurant in Edwards, Owens said the vast majority of voters claim to hate attack ads and other negative campaign tactics, which have popped up in a few Eagle County races this election season. The only way to eliminate it, he said, is to reject candidates who resort to those strategies.
“If you only reward us when we stay with positive and informative messages, then the negative campaigning will immediately stop,” Owens told the crowd. “Don’t reward candidates for something you don’t like.”
Owens also said that voters should not believe what they see or read in attack ads.
“Make candidates tell you what they believe in, what they stand for,” Owens said. “Don’t let them get away with distorting someone else’s position or record. Make them tell you what theirs is, then make an informed choice.”
Negative ads are so popular with some candidates, Owens said, because they can be effective.
“Negative ads work, but they don’t have to,” Owens said.
Owens, the Republican gubernatorial incumbent, enjoys a seemingly comfortable lead in the polls over his challenger, Democratic businessman Rollie Heath. In Wednesday’s remarks, Owens touted his administration’s advances in statewide education, transportation and tax relief.
Owens said his administration was the first in 10 years to fully fund Colorado education. The state’s spending on education for grades kindergarten through 12 has increased by $750 million a year the first three years he’s been in office, he said. It now comprises 42 percent of the state budget.
But along with the money, came statewide standards that students, teachers and schools must meet. While some squawked about the new standards, some changes were overdue, Owens said.
“Pumping money into a system doesn’t change the system, it just creates a better-funded system,” said Owens.
The state’s transportation funding doubled to $1.1 billion during his administration, Owens said, adding he was proud to put his signature to a bill that will fund transportation to the tune of $15 billion over the next 20 years.
“For the first time, we’ll have the money we need to meet all our needs,” he said.
Clogged traffic during peak hours on Interstate 70, Owens said, will continue to be a challenge. He said the state is doing an extensive environmental study of improvements that can be made to parts of the freeway to help smooth bottlenecks – especially between Georgetown and Idaho Springs.
One truck climbing at 5 mph means a 33 percent reduction in the highway’s capacity for that immediate vicinity, Owens said.
“On ski weekends, the problem is not at the Eisenhower Tunnel, it’s the stretch between Georgetown and Idaho Springs,” Owens said. “You can’t re-engineer an entire road for July 4. I drive up and down I-70 all the time, and we have to understand that some periods are going to be busy. But with some significant investment we can get some relief.”
But any significant I-70 project is five to 10 years away, Owens said.
With the state budget down 14 percent from last year, Owens said, state officials are facing some tough choices. But Colorado won’t retreat from advances made in education and transportation, he said.
“We must protect what we’ve done,” he said.
The Edwards stop was the last stop on a three-city Western Slope campaign swing Wednesday for Owens. From there, he headed back to his campaign headquarters in Denver.