Gov. John Hickenlooper is a quirky politician. He has managed to irk those who would be natural allies for a Democrat, while by turns enraging and pleasing his presumed adversaries. And all the while, since his election in 2010, he has overseen a period of growing economic prosperity in Colorado while working through enduring budgetary challenges rife with ideological polarity. Hickenlooper has navigated these entanglements with clear – if at times costly – convictions, imbued through a somewhat awkward and therefore refreshingly human presence that suggests his discomfort with the politics. Hickenlooper’s leadership is both appropriate and effective. He deserves re-election.
The governor has had his share of high-profile messes to step in, clean up or triage with help. Depending on perspective, he has done each in varying degrees but his supporters and opponents – his opponent, Bob Beauprez, notwithstanding – can find something to love and hate in Hickenlooper’s record. Staunch environmentalists have criticized him for embracing the gas industry and for attempting to inform federal processes with state-based answers around endangered species habitat or land management. Gun-rights advocates despise Hickenlooper for supporting 2013 legislation expanding background checks and limiting magazine capacity to 15 rounds. The marijuana industry has found Hickenlooper to be a reluctant participant in legalizing retail sales.
But on each of these and most other issues, Hickenlooper has engaged in meaningful debate, and often as not, convened wide-ranging groups to discuss potential solutions to issues that mean vastly different things to various constituencies. He is the king of task forces and they by and large produce actionable results.
This approach acknowledges the complexity inherent in many of these issues, as well as Colorado’s deep purple hue. Ours is not a politically simple state, and Hickenlooper has been adept at recognizing and naming the complications endemic to water, wildfire, health care, education, budgeting, transportation and criminal justice issues as well as addressing them with meaningful attention and appropriate resources given the state’s limitations. He has done this with a keen eye to collaboration and consensus-building, while focusing on building the state’s economic base by emphasizing innovation, energy development – renewable and otherwise – and the importance of education for Colorado’s future prosperity.
Plus, Hickenlooper staunchly opposes the troubling right-wing efforts to give states control over federal lands as well attempts to turn back the clock on women’s issues. Beauprez has said that federal lands in Colorado really should belong to the state, without mentioning how Colorado would pay for their management. He has alarmed women and the medical community by saying intrauterine devices – a safe and common form of birth control – are abortifacients. And he has spoken emphatically about his intent to freeze all regulation in the state unless it is pro-job, pro-economic growth and pro-energy development. Otherwise, Beauprez said at a debate, “Rip it out.”
This is not an approach that recognizes the nuance needed for balancing Colorado’s complex challenges, nor capitalizing on its opportunities. Hickenlooper is attuned to these intricacies and, as uncomfortable as they sometimes make him, adept at addressing them in a workable way that moves Colorado forward.
Re-elect John Hickenlooper.