DENVER – Governor John Hickenlooper raised eyebrows Tuesday when a TIME article quoted the Democrat waxing nostalgic about a time when politicians could make decisions behind closed-doors, beyond the reach of media cameras and the inconvenience of public scrutiny.
“We elect these people to make these difficult decisions, but now they are in the full light of video every time they make a decision,” Hickenlooper told a gathering of governors last week according to TIME. “We elected these people, let them go back into a room like they always did.”
Hickenlooper’s remarks, made on Friday at a meeting of the National Governors Association but first reported on Tuesday, drew an immediate response.
“Did @hickforco go to #NGA and say transparency is bad for politics? Why, yes. Yes, he did,” tweeted KDVR’s Eli Stokols, who shared a link to the TIME article Tuesday night.
The conservative advocacy group Compass Colorado was also quick to weigh in on Hickenlooper’s statements.
“Since Governor Hickenlooper announced his support for the billion dollar tax hike behind closed doors, it’s no surprise he advocates doing the public’s business in private,” said the group’s Executive Director Kelly Maher in a Wednesday press release. “Coloradans deserve better than leaders who think they can rule the state from smoke-filled rooms.”
“Now we know why Governor Hickenlooper doesn’t like to answer questions clearly when asked publicly about his position – he doesn’t believe the public deserves to know,” Maher added.
Hickenlooper also brushed off the results of a recent poll showing him in a dead heat with Republican rivals.
“It seemed like I really had an unfair advantage,” Hickenlooper jokingly told the Washington Post. “The approval ratings were so high — it really didn’t seem even fair. So, we made a few strategic decisions to try to move ourselves back into play, forcing us to be on our game, a little more focused.”
The poll was conducted in June, after Hickenlooper took the controversial step of blocking the execution of Nathan Dunlap. Dunlap was convicted of killing four Chuck E. Cheese restaurant employees and wounding a fifth in a 1993 Aurora shooting rampage.
The survey suggested that Hickenlooper’s decision to halt Dunlap’s execution was highly unpopular.
When asked if they approved or disapproved of Hickenlooper’s decision to spare Dunlap, 67 percent of poll respondents said they disapproved, compared to just 27 percent who said they approved.
Another recent poll showed most Coloradans cool to the idea of an income tax hike, a concept Hickenlooper backs.
“If I lose, I go back to 14 weeks of vacation. I’m in a no-lose situation, right?” Hickenlooper told the Washington Post.
Former U.S. Rep. Tom Tancredo and state Sen. Greg Brophy of Wray have already announced their intention to unseat Hickenlooper. Other Republicans reportedly looking at a run include Secretary of State Scott Gessler, Arapahoe County District Attorney George Brauchler, and former state Sen. Mike Kopp.