Summit Democrats walking on air |

Summit Democrats walking on air

Bob Berwyn

SUMMIT COUNTY – Local Democrats were still giddy after big wins, with Summit County party leader Sandy Briggs sounding hoarse after spending part of Tuesday evening at the state Democratic victory party at the Hyatt in Denver.Briggs said the Democratic takeover of Congress will change the leadership on critical resource and land management committees in Congress. U.S. Rep. Mark Udall, a Boulder Democrat who represents Eagle County, for example, will step into a senior committee leadership role on the House side. Richard Pombo, chair of the House Resources Committee, lost his seat and will be replaced by a Democrat.Environmental groups spent about $1 million to defeat Pombo, who was widely criticized for efforts to change the Endangered Species Act. Other federal policies like privatizing of federal jobs in public land agencies could also face more opposition.Reflecting the widely held view that the election was a referendum on the Bush administration, Briggs said the vote shows a swing back to the center.The sweeping Democratic victory was widely viewed as a repudiation of the Republican administration and its policies, both in the national media and abroad, with one liberal European paper calling the vote a victory for democracy, wrought by an uprising of independent voters against the administration. The changes could mark a shift at the state level, as well, said Republican County Commissioner Tom Long. A Democratic administration in Denver will make significant personnel changes in key agencies, including the Colorado Division of Wildlife, harshly criticized at times for tilting toward business and development interests.”I would expect to see more an environmental-type, rather than a conservation movement,” Long said.Reflecting on the ramifications of the election, Long first mentioned the resignation of Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld as a long-overdue consequence of public dissatisfaction with Bush policies.But Long also said Bush and the Republican Congress left the American economy in good shape, with unemployment figures as low as they’ve been in quite a while, job created, and an all-time Dow Jones high. Long also said the administration, despite taking intense heat for an Iraq policy that is widely perceived as a failure, has prevented a renewed terrorist attack on this country.Summit County Republican County chair Ron Bristol said Tuesday night that the national political climate definitely played a role in terms of turnout and motivation, and said it’s not unusual for the president’s party to lose seats during a sixth-year election.For Jeffrey Bergeron, a Green Party member with a seat on the Breckenridge Town Council, the national vote was “a vindication.””Summit County is so aware globally, it can’t help but be reflected locally,” Bergeron said. “A liberal is a liberal is a liberal,” he continued, drawing a connection between past Democratic standard-bearers like former California Gov. Jerry Brown and Speaker of the House-in-waiting Nancy Pelosi.At the same time, Bergeron claimed the Republican Party slipped far to the right of the mainstream.”It’s a long way from Richard Nixon to Bill Frist,” he said.Vail Daily, Vail, Colorado

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