Midterm elections have a deservedly bad name. Absent the draw of a presidential contest, they often feature mediocre candidates, quirky ballot issues and public apathy.
It’s hard to get excited, especially when your mailbox, your inbox, your TV and your social media sites are fatally infected with campaign trash. It makes you long for the days of the 47 percent, the 99 percent and the 1 percent. Obama at UCCS and Colorado College! Romney at The Broadmoor (or maybe that was George W)!
Those were the days…
Can we just close our eyes, cover our ears and wait for Nov. 5, when it’ll all be over? Nope, because there are races and issues that could substantially affect residents of the Pikes Peak region.
• Amendment 68: Colorado Horse Racetrack Limited Gaming Proceeds for K-12 Education
This only makes the list because it’s such a delicious scam. If passed, it would authorize one “qualifying” racetrack in three counties (Arapahoe, Mesa and Pueblo) to permit limited gaming. The selling point: Taxes imposed on the facilities, estimated at $114.5 million in the first year, would be used to fund K-12 education. The scam: There are no racetracks in Pueblo or Mesa counties. The only current beneficiary of the amendment would be a Rhode Island company, Twin River Worldwide Holdings, which owns Arapahoe Park southeast of Denver.
If the amendment passes, it shouldn’t take long for entrepreneurs to build a racetrack in Pueblo, throw up a casino along Interstate 25 just south of the Pueblo-El Paso County line and wait for the gamblers. Cripple Creek’s economy would collapse, hundreds of jobs would be lost, state gaming revenues would take a hit — but remember, it’s all about the children.
• Amendment 67: Colorado Definition of Person and Child Initiative
This is the third iteration of the so-called “personhood” amendment, which failed by wide margins in 2008 and 2010. It would classify fetuses and embryos of any age as “unborn children,” thereby criminalizing all abortions and even some forms of birth control.
Should it pass, we’ll be back to 1992, when Colorado voters approved a constitutional amendment institutionalizing discrimination against gay men and women. Four years later, the Supreme Court tossed the amendment to the curb in a 6-3 decision.
Personhood persons, can’t you just go away … alas, true believers never give up.
• El Paso County Commissioner, District 5
This race, pitting Democrat Jariah Walker against incumbent Republican Peggy Littleton, is a fascinating one. Littleton is facing a substantial threat from Walker, the scion of the Walker real estate dynasty.
Smart, charismatic, deeply rooted in the community, Walker is the kind of opponent no politician wants to face. The GOP doesn’t have an overwhelming advantage in the district, so if Walker can turn out Dems, independents and enough disgruntled Repubs, he wins. That’d make him the business-friendly, moderate face of local Dems — a good thing for them and the city.
• U.S. Senate, Cory Gardner vs. Mark Udall
Democrat Udall has been a thoughtful, responsible advocate for Colorado in the Senate since 2008, while Republican Gardner has spent the last four years in the House of Representatives, trapped by the ideologues of the right.
Gardner may be a smart, reasonable guy — but that’s not what the record says. The election may hinge on women voters and Gardner’s past stances on guns, abortion and women’s rights may come back to haunt him. And Cory, that flyer the NRA sent out depicting you in an orange hunting vest, rifle in hand, and a big goofy grin — what were you thinking?
It’s too bad that John Suthers didn’t run for the Senate instead of opting for a mayoral run next spring. A Colorado Springs native in the Senate? Dream on.
But pay attention! Control of the Senate may be at stake! The Koch Brothers! Obamacare! Yawn …
• Pikes Peak Regional Drainage Authority
Mayor Steve Bach is right — the PPRDA is a flawed initiative that addresses only one facet of our regional infrastructure problems. But the perfect should not be the enemy of the good.
Controlling floods and mitigating stormwater damage can only be accomplished with a regional approach.
The two-and-a-half-year process that brought together multiple regional governments and private entities in support of the ballot measure was admirably transparent and participatory.
If the measure passes, we can cross off the No. 1 priority on our regional to-do list. If not, we’d better pray for drought. n CSBJ