John HazlehurstSo have we learned anything after the Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire primary? We know that the leading Democratic candidates are moving slowly along, each hoping for some political miracle that would fatally injure their opponents and allow them to grab the nomination. Their hotel rooms are booked, their calendars filled — see you in Milwaukee on July 13!

And although I’m now an unaffiliated voter, after 22 years in the Republican fold (moved to unaffiliated so I can choose to vote in either primary), I’m a fan of Mayor Pete.

Three reasons: I know Buttigieg gave a good caucus night speech (no yelling, no stumbling, no crazy policies), I instinctively support candidates that have local government experience, and I understand his last name problems.

Buttigieg? You can’t pronounce it (boot edge edge is close enough) and you sure can’t spell it. Mine is easy to pronounce, but almost always misspelled (it’s Hazlehurst, not Hazelhurst).

Buttigieg’s name may be politically helpful. If 10 percent of Democratic primary voters have names that are difficult pronounce or spell, that gives them a reason to like Pete. And for voters of a certain age, the name Pete is familiar, soothing and trustworthy. That’s one of the reasons that the 38-year-old Buttigieg has such a following among geezers — imagine if he’d been Mayor Noah or Mayor Liam.

Yet as Pete, Liz, Bernie and Joe stumble out of New Hampshire and head for Nevada and South Carolina with the make-or-break Super Tuesday primaries looming on March 3, they could be on a fool’s mission. Fourteen states, including California, Colorado, Texas and Massachusetts, will have presidential primaries on that day, and two or three of the leading hopefuls will have to call it quits.

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Think of them as harpooners on the Pequod, seeking to dispatch Moby Dick. They think they’re smart, strong, well-armed and ready to sink the lurking, legendary beast — but the great whale of Democratic politics may be smarter, stronger and better prepared for combat. Call me Ishmael, but I suspect that Mayor Mike Bloomberg will take down his amateurish adversaries.

As I explained post-Iowa to one of my gloating GOP buddies: “Sensible Democrats are beginning to understand that the four frontrunners are just cutting each other to shreds, and that whoever gets to Milwaukee will be broke and ready to get eaten alive by Trump. Bloomberg will fund his own campaign, and has easily the best chance to win. Dem donors can put their money into House and Senate races, and probably take both if Bloomberg is the candidate.”

The reply: “John, ‘sensible Democrat’ is an oxymoron, like ‘youthful Joe Biden’ or ‘experienced Pete Buttigieg.’  You’re right about Bloomberg, but try to persuade those Green-New-Dealing, Medicare-for-all, billionaire-hating democratic socialists who drive the Democratic clown bus these days. Trump’s a moron, but other than acting crazy he’s done a great job.  Forget about 2020 — maybe you’d better concentrate on 2024.”

OK, how about replacing the first-in-the-nation Iowa caucuses with the Colorado primary in 2024?  It’d be better for the parties, for the candidates, for the nation and for our fair state.

Colorado is sui generis, a purple state with booming cities that range from deep blue Boulder to crimson Colorado Springs. We have family farms and ranches, mountains and plains, world-class colleges and universities, major military installations, a strong tech sector and, best of all, hundreds of competent journalists ready to cover the action.

Instead of contributing to America’s obesity epidemic by pretending to like fatty treats at the Iowa State Fair, candidates could scamper up the incline, ski double blacks at Steamboat and climb a fourteener or two.

Rather than declaring eternal fealty to the ethanol lobby, they could have serious discussions about public lands, water and climate change. Ours is a big, diverse and serious state, one that owes much of its current prosperity to intelligent governance from both parties.

Our primary structure will produce results that will be quickly available, accurate and far more nationally relevant than Iowa’s. For Coloradans, first in the nation will mean more fun, more money and more time on the national stage. Somebody will win, but that’s irrelevant.

We just want to host the first party…

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