Thursday, May 30, 2013

Colorado Weather Changes Political Fortunes

Climate scientists say we can expect more extreme weather – horrific hurricanes, huge tornadoes, torrential rains and monster dumps of snow.  In the last decade, Hurricane Katrina helped end George Bush’s career on a sour note, but Hurricane Sandy gave Barack Obama a final lift.

Politicians have all become storm chasers, recognizing that beyond expressing sincere compassion, their careers depend upon their skill and visibility in handling the crisis.

Drought, summer heat and resultant fires, tornadoes, floods and massive snow storms have had stark effects on Colorado politicians’ careers.
Although Dick Lamm had won his election for governor in 1974 in a sweep for Democrats, constant bickering with legislators and an ill-temper cost him support.
But a massive rain and flood of the Big Thompson project in the summer of 1976 put Lamm in a helicopter helping direct disaster aid. It contributed to his November re-election and political recovery.
Lamm’s successor, Roy Romer, got a little political protection when a huge tornado devastated the high plains town of Limon. Romer also personally directed the disaster effort. The timing was serendipitous. It happened just as rumors were spreading beyond political gossip that he was having an extramarital affair with a senior staffer. The story receded as the Limon tragedy took over the media narrative.
Snow has repeatedly affected political fortunes in Denver. The massive Christmas snow of 1982 helped derail re-election plans and end the political career of Mayor Bill McNichols. And, a three-foot deep snow in March 2003 trapped people indoors just as John Hickenlooper started airing his whimsical television advertisements for his Denver mayor election, beginning a decade-long political career that put him in the governorship.

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