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Vail Daily column: Why I’ll stick with Hick

Don Rogers
My View
Don Rogers
Laura Mahaffy/lmahaffy@theunion.com | The Union

Our own Scott Miller set the rule that we wouldn’t endorse a candidate we hadn’t met with in person.

Mainly, I think this was a clever way to keep the old guy from endorsing Obama and infuriating that half of the newsroom with more conservative views as he had when he endorsed Bush and infuriated the other half.

We all agreed this was a sensible approach to that gantlet of office seekers from town council to, well, president. In this town, after all, the idea of a commander in chief dropping by isn’t as preposterous as it might sound.

Sometimes we get to visit with the candidates for governor, though not this year. We topped out with Senate hopeful Cory Gardner, who gave us quality time. Sen. Mark Udall skipped us this time. This might well be a snapshot into who is working harder.

Meantime, I have no Miller-imposed restrictions on my weekly column. So I remain free to irritate everyone with my fickle and fleeting thoughts in this space.

In other words, the royal “We” won’t make a recommendation on the best choice for governor, but I will. Happily.

And actually, I have interviewed each candidate for governor in person. Well, sort of. I sat on a panel asking Gov. John Hickenlooper and former U.S. Rep Bob Beauprez questions last month at Club 20’s debate in Grand Junction. I had a great ringside seat at the event, and very much enjoyed the whole spectacle up close.

If you live on the West Slope, though, you don’t need sit eye to eye with these guys to understand this much: Then-U.S. Rep. Beauprez’s support for Referendum A, intended in 2003 to give the Front Range control of West Slope water, is reason enough on our side of the divide to stick with Hick. This is how important water is to rural Colorado.

And it’s an action speaking louder than words enough that even the conservative-leaning Pueblo Chieftain endorsed the Democratic incumbent, praising Hickenlooper for reaching far beyond Denver in his governorship of our state.

I’m not fond of how Hickenlooper has handled the tacit clemency of Nathan Dunlap, sentenced to death for as brutal of murders as can be. I’m not impressed with how the Democrats legislated and governor in somewhat of a habitual wishy-washy way supported a particularly inept law banning 15-round magazines from firearms.

But those flunking grades in my ledger are vastly outnumbered by the many decisions the governor has gotten right, the state’s economic progress and one controversy I think he’s handled perfectly. That’s how he got his own party and the oil and gas industry to back off dueling statewide measures dealing with hydraulic fracturing.

His commonsense approach to fracking breaks with the politics of his party. That alone is a big plus in my book, especially in this age of pathetic fealty to partisanship.

Hickenlooper’s stumbling, think-out-loud, even-handed approach is refreshing in this little epoch in which politicians are rewarded for their inflexibility and even outright lack of ability to solve problems.

Beauprez fits the ironclad prescription for today’s national politics all too well. To me, he’s an epitome of “sometimes right and never in doubt.” It’s a dangerous state of mind, never mind governance.

I’ll take the open-minded thinker who stumbles and maybe warbles a bit in his public presentations over the guy who projects himself as the smartest guy in the room, any room, and to whom showing anything other than absolute certainty only betrays weakness. That’s the very definition of a fool.

These are complicated times. No party, no man alone, has all the answers. We need more leaders who understand that steering a course forward requires adjustments and sometimes tacks against prevailing winds that would blow their ship into the shoals.

I see the moderate Democrat who will buck his party when it’s on a poor path (a frequent enough occurrence) than the stubbornly proud conservative who is always right, but seldom enough correct.

Hickenlooper should stay at the helm. You know, I can’t imagine even Scott disagreeing with me on this one.

Editor and Publisher Don Rogers can be reached at drogers@vaildaily.com or 970-748-2920.


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