Count us as annoyed – but not surprised – by the most recent too cute by half antics of State Representative Sal Pace (D-Pueblo).
Taking a page right out of the John Salazar playbook, Pace’s grandstanding on behalf of a few organic farmers at the expense of hundreds of oil and gas jobs should come as no surprise to voters across the vast 3rd Congressional District either.
Salazar and Pace have been playing this game for years and they seem to have missed the memo sent by voters in the 2010 election.
Pace seemed to think that sending a letter to Interior Secretary Ken Salazar asking for a delay in issuance of leases in the North Fork Valley of Delta County would be something supported by voters he’s trying to sell on the notion of sending him to Congress this fall.
Unfortunately for Pace, apart from the traditional environmentalist obstructionists and a handful of voters that would vote for him anyway, the American people have grown weary of these typical delay and analyze tactics – especially with gasoline hovering at $4.00 per gallon.
Most troubling about Pace’s attempt to urge federal bureaucrats to move at a slower pace is the precedent that might be set if the Secretary of the Interior succumbs to the state representative’s request. Because Pace’s logic suggests that the current management plan for the area is insufficient, and that a whole new plan needs to be completed before such action could be contemplated, we’re left wondering what’s to stop future obstructionists on either side of an issue from playing the same card to box in federal bureaucrats.
As we’ve noted before, unemployment in this corner of Colorado is not only troubling, it’s stifling. The last thing small businesses and out of work parents need is for a chest-thumping state representative from another corner of the state throwing up roadblocks to job creating projects.
While we can’t fault Mr. Pace for following the standard political playbook that calls for shoring up one’s base — after all, as Thomas Jefferson once wryly noted, the first duty of a statesman is to get elected. But we can and do fault Sal for expecting us to his moderate bridge-builder schtick seriously.
Based on this wholy transparent throwaway to the Green Lobby, what are Western Slope voters to infer about Sal’s position on other regional and national energy issues based on this most recent episode?
As a Congressman, would Mr. Pace fight to compel the Department of Interior waste even more precious time studying development of the Roan Plateau? How much longer must unemployment and food stamp lines get, and how much higher must gas prices rise before Mr. Pace would sign off on drilling in a tiny fraction of the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge? Where does our friend from Pueblo come down on the other energy and economic development issues of the day such as the Keystone Pipeline, oil shale development and Ken Salazar’s war on coal?
To be sure, Mr. Pace’s is walking a fine line in his effort to unseat GOP incumbent Scott Tipton: He must try to develop a track record moderate enough to appeal to the sensibilities of 3rd district residents, while mollifying the radical environmentalist movement that for years has underpinned the Democratic Party’s campaign apparatus.
It’s a chameleon act that Western Colorado voters have seen before. And unfortunately for Mr. Pace, one that voters rejected when they turned out his former boss John Salazar in favor of Mr. Tipton two years ago.