Mike Lawrence: The 100-year flood | SteamboatToday.com

Mike Lawrence: The 100-year flood

Colorado faces heaviest ballot in nearly a century

— The editor of this newspaper gave a 28-year-old kid a weekly column and told him to “stir things up.”

As that kid, I’m excited. I hope you are, too, because there’s a lot to be excited about in the coming months.

And I’m not talking about fall foliage, Steamboat High’s Jay Hanley – he might break 2,000 yards this year – or the countdown to ski season.

I’m talking about politics.

This morning on National Public Radio, I heard a former editor of mine, Jody Strogoff at the Colorado Statesman in Denver, say that voters Nov. 7 will face the most loaded Colorado ballot in more than 90 years.

She’s absolutely right. In less than three months, voters statewide will decide on a governor, a secretary of state, a treasurer, an attorney general and an at-large University of Colorado regent. They will decide on 15 ballot questions, determining – among other things – whether to raise the state’s minimum wage from $5.15 to $6.85, whether to legalize possession of less than an ounce of marijuana for people 21 years and older, whether school districts should be required to spend 65 percent of their budgets directly in the classroom and whether to amend Colorado’s constitution to define marriage as between one man and one woman.

In western Colorado, voters in the Third Congressional District – which includes Routt County – will select a U.S. Representative, either incumbent Democrat John Salazar, Republican Scott Tipton of Cortez or Libertarian Bob Sargent of Hotchkiss. The Third Congressional District also will select another CU regent, either Democrat Susan Hakanson or Republican Tillie Bishop.

Voters in the state’s House District 57 – us again – will choose a state representative, either incumbent Republican Al White, Democrat Andy Gold of Tabernash or Libertarian Mike Kien of Oak Creek.

Routt County voters will select a sheriff and an assessor, and voters in Steamboat Springs will select a new county commissioner. Steamboat voters also will decide whether to raise pay for City Council members and could be asked to decide on multi-million-dollar bond issues for a new elementary school or recreation center.

In other words, get to bed early Nov. 6.

So what does all the ballot clutter mean for Colorado? Simply put, I think it will be a watershed vote. Democrats are riding a resurgence in this state after reclaiming the state House and Senate in 2004 and scoring another victory with Referendum C in 2005.

This year, the state finds out whether the resurgence is for real, or whether the Republican Party can rebound.

And we’ll get to that. In the coming weeks, we’ll get to all of it, or as much as we can within the confines of a roughly 600-word column.

But before I start talking about everyone else, it’s only fair that I talk about myself.

I’m no Ann Coulter. I’m also no Maureen Dowd. I vote for the person and the idea, not the party.

And in the past several years, I’ve met a lot of interesting people and heard a lot of interesting ideas in Colorado politics – from both sides of the aisle.

Working for the Statesman, I spent five months covering a session of the state Legislature for a Denver political weekly. As an intern for the Rocky Mountain News, I interviewed Howard Dean, chairman of the National Democratic Party. I met with former Republican gubernatorial candidate Marc Holtzman in his office at the University of Denver, on the day he left that job to begin campaigning.

Since coming to the Pilot & Today in October, I’ve met with and written about nearly every candidate to come through town.

That doesn’t make me an expert. But it does make me interested, and it does make me excited. In the coming weeks, I hope you’ll get excited too.

No more introductions, I promise – it’s time to start stirring.

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