In looking at the race for governor this year, we’ve come to it with a simple lens. As we believe Colorado has approached, if not nirvana, at least a working arrangement by virtue of being purple – that is, having fairly equal representation of liberal and conservative concerns – under the moderate leadership of Gov. John Hickenlooper, we have looked for the candidate who might most resemble him.
Walker Stapleton, who has been the state treasurer for the last eight years, has vowed that his governorship “would be staying the course.” He told us, for example, that he would “absolutely” defend the state’s progress on curbing methane emissions; the state’s civil rights statutes and commission, which have come into the cross-hairs of the Supreme Court; and recreational marijuana. He also vows to take “a bipartisan approach” to energy and be “a governor who will hold industry accountable.” On immigration, he said, “Every immigrant has value.”
Stapleton also said that he could not think of anything that government could do better than the private sector. We are skeptical that this is the mindset of someone running for the state’s top job, but at the same time he has been right to argue, as state treasurer, that the Public Employee’s Retirement Association is still setting its rate of market return unrealistically high.
This poses a significant contrast with Jared Polis, a wealthy entrepreneur who has represented Boulder in Congress.
Polis’ two big initiatives in this race are to move the state toward 100-percent renewable power production by 2040, and toward single-payer universal healthcare, something like Medicare for all.
These are bold proposals. Whether they are doable by one Democrat in one state is another question, but we take no issue with ambition for the future. And we note that Polis sees many big areas where government can and should play a key role.
Still, Polis’ great wealth and how he uses it gives us pause. He set a record by spending $11.3 million on his primary race this year, obliterating more moderate contenders. He has spent more than $18 million of his own money to date in the general election, setting another record for big money in state politics. But we would like to think our votes are not for sale – and neither is Colorado.
We endorse Walker Stapleton for governor.
Colorado secretary of stateOur secretary of state has a portfolio of miscellaneous duties, ranging from licensing businesses to overseeing campaign finance, but the biggest task is overseeing elections.
Challenger Jena Griswold, a Democrat and an attorney from Estes Park, served in the administration of President Barack Obama working on voter protection and in the D.C. office of Gov. Hickenlooper. She has a compelling personal story and a winning style. However, her line of attack in this race is that she will stand up to President Donald Trump and make voting in Colorado more secure.
The problem here? Incumbent Wayne Williams, a Republican from Colorado Springs, might just be the best secretary of state Colorado has had, not least because, as The Washington Post noted, since 2016, Colorado has become “the safest state to cast a vote” – and certainly one of the easiest.
Williams has been able to do this by approaching the work in a strictly nonpartisan fashion, which we believe is needed now more than ever.
“There’s a record of four years of what I’ve done,” he told us, “and the best way to tell what someone is going to do in the future is by looking at what they’ve done in the past.”
We endorse Wayne Williams for secretary of state.