The state of the split ticket |

The state of the split ticket

I’ve finally seen a proud, traditional Colorado voter’s car on the road.This car boldly sported stickers supporting Richard DeClark for Eagle County commissioner and Ken Salazar for the U.S. Senate. The unusual thing – at least it might seem unusual to some – is that DeClark is a Republican and Salazar is a Democrat. Actually, that’s the way Colorado politics traditionally has been. We’re a state of notorious ticket-splitters.As recently as 10 years ago, it was expected that Colorado would have one senator from each party, and often a senator and governor of different parties would be elected the same year. Staunch Republican Bill Armstrong was elected to the Senate twice in years the state picked a Democrat as governor. Gary Hart, as Democrat as they come, won a second term in 1980, the year the state voted solidly for Ronald Reagan for president.Traditionally Democratic Pueblo has voted for Republican U.S. Rep. Scott McInnis several times over the past decade, and it’s not unusual for Republican strongholds to vote for Democrats for statewide offices.There are a few staunchly partisan communities, of course. But by and large, Colorado’s politics have been pretty independent over the years.At least that’s the way it used to be. Now we’re a “country divided,” with Democrats and Republicans alike expressing not just opposition but outright abhorrence of candidates from the other party. Colorado seems to be reflecting that national trend, if the bumper stickers and yard signs I’ve seen so far are any indication. It’s not enough to support President Bush’s re-election, the stickers say. Pete Coors and other Republicans have to earn votes of the faithful, too.The same is true with Democrats, who seem to put their Kerry-Edwards stickers above their Arn Menconi for commissioner gear.Geez, folks, whatever happened to voting for the right person for the job? You might believe Ken Salazar or Pete Coors is the right guy for the Senate. But if the county commissioner candidate of the same party isn’t your cup of tea, it’s OK to vote for the other guy.My own feeling is that split government is a good thing. At best, it leads to healthy compromise. At worst, the parties are so obsessed with sticking it to each other they stop trying to stick it to us. For that reason alone, ticket-splitting is not only honorable, but necessary.Staff Writer Scott N. Miller can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 613, or smiller@vaildaily.comVail, Colorado

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