Thursday, January 29, 2009

Ritter in Trouble

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.

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