THE PEAK'S FIRST ANNUAL LEGISLATIVE AWARDS: Now Up – The Sister-Kissers
First coined by Navy football coach Eddie Erdelatz in 1953 to describe a scoreless tie between Navy and Duke who said "a tie is like kissing your sister," we've commandeered the term for our second category of accolades in the Peak's first annual legislative awards.
This distinction goes out to a few designees who neither won nor lost, sometimes in infuriatingly frustrating ways, over the last four month stretch.
1. John Hickenlooper: While the Capitol press corps fawns over the Guv, calling him the big winner of the legislative session and hanging his poster on their office walls, we beg to differ. Hickenlooper, as we've praised him here on the Peak, was an indisputable winner on the budget, having the cojones to propose some Chris Christie-sized cuts. But on other major and constitutional issues, he was the Invisible Man. Some press accounts call it a light touch, we call it selective leadership.
His atmospheric approval ratings are not just for the record books, but endow him with an ability to pass legislation that no other politician in the state possesses. Not only is he beloved by the electorate, but he has carefully crafted an image of a quirky, above-the-fray Governor who is not beholden to any political party's partisan posturing. And there is no issue like redistricting screaming for a figure of that mold to step in and solve.
Hickenlooper could have saved the courts time, the taxpayers money and rural Colorado the fear of being sliced and diced into mince meat by stepping out publicly and offering either his own specific principles on redistricting or even his own map.
Towards the end of the process he did show up and try to broker a compromise with Senate Prez Brandon Flowers, we mean Shaffer, and Speaker McNulty, but with Shaffer constantly storming out of the meetings, nothing was ultimately accomplished. As we told you yesterday, we hear that Hickenlooper was so frustrated with Shaffer's inability to come to a compromise that he was ready to put Shaffer's hometown of Longmont into CD2. What he should have done is lay down public markers. Then we wouldn't be in this legal cluster*#$%^ on redistricting.
While redistricting was his most glaring failure, he also tended to avoid having to deal with any issues with the least bit of controversy. He has said he is thankful for not having to deal with controversial bills coming to his desk, but he apparently took that good fortune to mean he didn't have to get his hands dirty in legislating at all.
We still have high hopes for Hickenlooper and hope to put him in our Winners column in next year's legislative awards, but for now, he was ever so close to being a winner, but instead he chose to make his leadership more like kissing your sister.
2. The Term "Kumbaya": It's "Name ID" increased, but people think it actually means the opposite after that embarrassing performance from the Kumbaya committee. Maybe the spinmasters behind the term knew the committee was all a feigned attempt at appearing bipartisan for Democrats, who never really intended on cooperating in the end.
We're betting the political calculation was made early on that Democrats would do their dardnest to seem bipartisan, but that their best political fortune lay in the courts, so the appearance of working together was all they needed. And a term like "Kumbaya committee" would allow for the chattering classes to mock the idea of bipartisanship on redistricting as a pipe dream after all.
3. Amy Stephens: As we said in our loser awards when conferring the designation to healthcare exchanges, we don't think Majority Leader Amy Stephens deserves the hyperbole that was thrown her way. That said, she made some serious political missteps on the bill. She took some serious flak that she'll carry scars from for a while.
But Stephens herself wasn't a loser. She distinguished herself as a tough combat leader, a role some party insiders wondered whether she could fill as Majority Leader. Say what you want about Stephens, she is nobody's push-over. Even though we didn't care for how the Exchange bill played out, it's nice to see a conservative with some real moxy and independence carry the flag for the cause on a statewide stage.
If Stephens sees a primary, she will win big. It is a stretch to call this former Focus on the Family acolyte something other than a conservative, even for those who don't like her stance on exchanges.
4. Boulder: The Kumbaya Committee public hearings made one thing clear -- nobody, and we mean nobody, outside Boulder wants to be associated with that city. Every region that Democrats tried to pair with the People's Republic howled in outrage, which we're sure was enjoyed greatly in the gluten-free, organic, patchouli smelling tea shops on the Pearl St. mall in a schaudenfraude kind of way.
It's not partnered with Grand Junction, but wouldn't it have been fun to make a Boulder Congressman make his way to the West Slope? Whether it's Mark Udall or Jared Polis, their journeys would have generated some memorable town hall meeting Youtube moments.
So we call it a tie for Boulder because while they became a tool that Republicans and editorial boards used to bludgeon the Democrats' proposal to death, their Congressman also escaped having to journey too far west on I-70.
5. Liberal Special Interest Groups: From the CEA to the Liberal Loon's FPI, the alphabet soup of liberal special interest groups may have retained their influence in the province of progressivism, but nobody else is paying attention to them. Most unfortunately for this political underclass is Hickenlooper doesn't seem to give a hoot about what they think. So they have an audience, just not a winning one.
Liberal Loon Carol Hedges sent out her fair share of whiny missives complaining about budget cuts and Bennet's apostasy on spending caps, but the screeds never seemed to have much of an effect. The liberal twits on Twitter still enjoy retweeting everything that gets spewed from the Bell Policy Center and ProgressNow, but those 140 characters never seemed to end up in legislation.
6. Denver Post's The Spot: We love the Spot – fresh reporting, smart commentary, wity witticisms and good gossip. Hell, sort of like us, only less cool. The only reason the Spot is a Sister-Kisser and not a full-on Winner-Winner-Chicken-Dinner is because we didn't think the Post had enough Republicans on their own after-session scorecard. So there, Mighty Post, take that!