Monday, February 3, 2020

Political Fireworks at Water Congress Conference

A standing room only crowd at the Colorado Water Congress annual conference heard an hour of tough as nails political analyses, sandwiched between a brief cautious policy speech from the Governor and a more technical presentation from the Attorney General.

The panel of commentators talked about the upcoming primaries, the political personalities and the many controversial issues that could be on November’s ballot. The panel consisted of: Dick Wadhams on the right side; the left, Sheila MacDonald; and in the middle, fiery media star Joey Bunch. I moderated after presenting some data on the political environment.

Sheila MacDonald, Dick Wadhams, Joey Bunch and Floyd Ciruli

A few highlights:

Sanders. Bernie Sanders has head of steam in the early events, but the consensus was he would struggle to go the distance. He will be a major contender in Colorado on March 3. The panel felt Sanders would be a disaster for Democrats in many states, including Colorado, but it might take the Democratic convention to finally sort it out. Republicans are pulling for him.

Hickenlooper. John Hickenlooper remains the favorite for the Senate nomination and is still seen as the strongest candidate for the November contest. But, the general sense is that the last 60 days have been poorly managed. Republicans have an ethics issue that will dog him and anti-fracking extremists, who disrupted Gov. Jared Polis’s State of the State speech, are accosting Hickenlooper at speeches. Watching the Democratic caucus on March 7 and the assemblies and convention will be an insight as to the party’s balance between pragmatists and idealists. Hickenlooper may be better off going petition, an expensive process.

Ballot Issues. The panel cited the abortion initiative, anti-growth and wolf reintroduction as polarizing issues that will stir the pot, further divide voters into camps and drive some constituent turnout. But, November turnout should be high regardless of issues.

The audience put their phones down to listen to a Colorado version of a cable talk show, but with Democrats and Republicans disagreeing without screaming at each other. Joey provided a wild, unpredictable balance and the audience loved it.

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