Although Bill Ritter works hard and cares about Colorado, he fails to inspire confidence among the most attentive publics. Of course, Colorado governors tend to be re-elected, and the Republicans are still on the defense after a half a decade of election losses, but Ritter faces a difficult re-election.
• As former Republican State Treasurer Mark Hillman pointed out, Ritter was a day late and a dollar short on the state’s financial crises. His budget office predicted only a $70 million shortfall. His Democratic counterparts in the legislature said $600 million. Ritter has been playing catch up ever since.
• Due to the downturn, Ritter must strip out most of the funds he promoted as fulfilling his “Colorado Promise” slogan in the campaign.
• Higher education funding will be cut dramatically due to the downturn. Unfortunately, higher education lost a chance for stable funding in last fall’s poorly positioned severance tax ballot initiative.
• The severance tax increase and the new rules governing gas and oil drilling have outraged one of the state’s largest industry and substantial members of Western Slope voters.
• The action that most alienated the business class, which gave Ritter considerable support in his 2006 election, was unionizing state employees in a late Friday night executive order in November 2007.
Ritter and his party know he is vulnerable. Expect a strong effort to survive.