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Candidate Hickenlooper and the limits of talking change

When John Hickenlooper ran for mayor of Denver in 2003, he exploited a pocketbook issue in a very clever way.

"The city raised our parking rates and now, shoppers are going elsewhere, business is suffering and tax revenues are down," was Hickenlooper's voiceover in a campaign ad as he walked the street, making change for citizens to plug parking meters - and even plugging one himself.

Now running for governor of Colorado, Hickenlooper is eager to portray himself again as businessman to the rescue.

Just one problem: seven years of governing Denver and a track record that can be examined against his rhetoric.

"Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper said Thursday that it's 'crazy' to raise fees or taxes when government revenues are down, but his 2010 budget raised fees and fines in the city by at least $5.1 million annually," The Denver Post reported today.

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Armstrong: Markey deserves to lose election over vote

The flip-flop by U.S. Rep. Betsy Markey, D-Colo., on health-care reform (voting no in November but now planning to vote yes) earned this analysis Friday from former U.S. Sen. Bill Armstrong...

"I always thought that if they absolutely had to have her vote, that she'd do it," said Armstrong, a Republican who represented Colorado in Congress from 1973 to 1991. "And if they didn't need it, if they had votes to spare, that they'd let her off. Because it's going to be tremendously unpopular in the Fourth Congressional District. She may very well lose the election over this vote. Personally, she deserves to."

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Betsy Markey gets a union "hug" on health care

U.S. Rep. Betsy Markey, D-Colo., is in a precarious position if she wants to retain her seat in November, but the unions want her vote on health care reform, regardless.

The video is part of a $1.7 million pressure campaign, including the Service Employees International Union, that is targeting House Democrats undecided about walking the plank for Pres. Obama's health-care plan, which may be voted on by the House this weekend.

Markey, who in 2008 won the Fourth Congressional District seat that had been held by Republicans since 1973, voted no in November, saying, "This bill provides new coverage for millions of Americans, but it simply does not do enough to cut the health care costs that are crushing our businesses and families."

What's changed, if anything, in Markey's thinking since then? We'll find out soon enough.

UPDATE: Markey will vote for the bill, saying, "Particularly in the out years there's significantly more deficit reduction and I have to say this is going to be the largest deficit reduction bill that I will ever vote for," reported The Fort Collins Coloradoan.

UPDATE II: A shot across the bow from U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Oklahoma, to House members who voted no, and then vote yes...

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Hickenlooper running for governor - or class clown?

Is this a college kid at a rave? No! It's Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper - tearing it up on stage with Flobots at the Ogden Theater last Friday. Which one is he, you might ask? The one not jumping to the beat.


Thanks to Westword for the vid. See for yourself at about 6:00 at this link.


The day before, Hickenlooper was recruited to go on stage at the Colorado Business Committee for the Arts luncheon, and became a dummy in ventriloquest Mark Hellerstein's act.


"I can't believe I did that," Hickenlooper joked when he got back to his table, reported The Denver Post. "There goes the campaign."

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What's missing from Sen. Bennet's TV ad

When Pres. Obama came to Denver to help raise $675,000 for U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet in February, he said, "He hasn't perfected the seven-second soundbite. He's never even made a TV ad. Heaven forbid. And he's facing re-election in a tough political climate."

Well, Bennet has now made an ad, titled "Wake Up," and is reportedly spending $300,000 to deploy it on cable and broadcast TV in Colorado, according to The Huffington Post.

The problem is, the Congressional reform issues Bennet chose to talk about are largely symbolic and have little to do with the economic concerns of working people.

Appointed to his seat in January 2009, Sen. Bennet signed on to a federal spending binge and a health-care reform upheaval led by the Obama Administration. Why won't he advertise that?

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Polis: health-care reform to reduce dependence on government

Many people believe that more government intervention leads to greater dependence on government, yet Congressman Jared Polis makes the REVERSE argument.

"This bill actually helps reduce the number of people that depend on government programs for their health care," said U.S. Rep. Polis, D-Colo., during House debate Tuesday on the massive health-care reform overhaul. "This bill will help end reliance on government for health care."

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Romanoff implies Bennet is the insider choice

Andrew Romanoff's populist pitch in running for U.S. Senate depends, in part, on primary opponent U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet being seen as HANDED the seat by the powerful, i.e., Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter and Pres. Barack Obama.

"This is a radical approach, apparently, at this late stage of our democracy, it turns out we have to defend the proposition that senators ought to be picked, not by governors, not by presidents, but in fact, by people," Romanoff said Friday night a pre-caucus rally at the Aurora History Museum.

Obama endorsed Bennet for the seat the day after Romanoff announced he would run, drawing barbs since then from Romanoff supporters like Polly Baca that Obama is meddling in a Democratic primary.

Ritter, appearing in February for Bennet at a Denver rally (at which Obama also appeared) said Bennet was "head and shoulders above the rest of the crowd" when Ritter appointed him to fill the seat vacated by Ken Salazar, who became U.S. Interior Secretary.

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Is Mayor Hickenlooper's regionalism the right prescription?

In nearly seven years as mayor of Denver, John Hickenlooper has sang the tune of "regionalism" in economic development and planning. His views on regionalism take on new significance now that he's seeking to be governor of Colorado.

[Video above queued up at :48.]

"The days of Denver making decisions for their own benefit are over," Hickenlooper said recently at The Colorado Real Estate and Economic Summit. "And we recognize we'll never be a great city without incredible suburbs. And that we will do everything from now on to make sure that, if we can't find a decision that serves both the suburbs and the city, we'll find something else to work on. And there was a long pause. And then huge applause. Right. Exactly."

A key example of such regionalism during Hickenlooper's tenure as mayor is FasTracks, the 122-mile commuter rail and light rail project he championed and which metro voters approved in 2004 through a $4.7 billion ballot measure.

"So here is a question Colorado voters should ask gubernatorial candidate John Hickenlooper: Based on what we know today, including 40 percent cost overruns, revenue shortfalls, and the trivial amount of congestion relief that FasTracks is expected to provide, would you still have endorsed the 2004 FasTracks ballot measure?"

That question was posed by The Antiplanner, a website of Randal O'Toole, a longtime critic so-called "smart growth" planning and of FasTracks.

For more from Hickenlooper and O'Toole about FasTracks, see WhoSaidYouSaid's video...

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