Governor John Hickenlooper famously spared Nathan Dunlap from the death penalty, but will he send Jon Caldara to the gallows?
We jest, of course, but clearly the governor was hopping mad Monday when he issued a statement excoriating anyone who would make “a mockery of the democratic process” by going to the polls “to disrupt the process” in Tuesday’s recall elections.
Naturally, the first name that popped into everyone’s mind was that of Caldara, who cast a blank ballot in the Colorado Springs recall election over the weekend even though the Independence Institute chief has long lived in Boulder.
Caldara did it to prove a point about the state’s lax new elections law, which appears to allow Colorado voters to cast ballots in any jurisdiction, as long as they intend to live in the new district.
No sooner had the governor alerted the Attorney General and vowed to seek “criminal prosecution” for election-disrupters than a host of Republicans returned fire, pointing out it was Hickenlooper who signed the Democrats’ beloved Voter Access and Modernized Elections Act, or HB13-1303.
“It’s too bad he didn’t pay attention before he signed the fatally flawed law that compromised the integrity of the election system. Perhaps Gov. Hickenlooper should have listened to the testimony about the problems with HB13-1303 before signing it,” El Paso County Clerk Wayne Williams said. “The ‘disturbing reports’ he cites are a direct result of his ignoring the concerns of citizens and signing fatally flawed legislation.
From Secretary of State Scott Gessler: “I am pleased Governor Hickenlooper is now interested in election integrity. This is exactly what I warned the Governor about. Unfortunately, he refused to listen, and instead signed a flawed election bill that weakened the tools to protect our elections. I hope that the Governor and the legislature will now be willing to listen to all Coloradans and work to fix our election-law problems.”
Uh-oh. Next thing we knew, Hickenlooper spokesman Eric Brown was scrambling for cover, telling the Associated Press that the governor wasn’t actually referring to the Caldara episode but to three missing ballots in Pueblo County.
Sorry, but Cheap Seats isn’t buying it. Does Brown really expect us to believe Hickenlooper, who has paid virtually no attention to the recalls, suddenly went nuclear over three lost ballots?
Our theory is that the guv’s famous temper got the better of him once he learned of Caldara’s poke in the eye. After coming out guns blazing, however, he was undoubtedly informed by cooler Democratic heads that he had walked right into the GOP’s trap by implying that there might be something wrong with the election law, which Dems continue to insist has no flaws whatsoever.
That left Hickenlooper to look either confused or unhinged as Williams publicly assured him that the recall voting in Colorado Springs was proceeding as smoothly as could be expected under the problematic new law.
From Williams: “It is difficult for the El Paso County Clerk and Recorder’s Office to know exactly what Governor Hickenlooper’s release is referencing. [Neither] the Governor—nor his representatives— have been in contact with our office regarding ‘disruptions.’ Voting in El Paso County has been smooth, and there have been no major disruptions. If the Governor is indeed referencing Mr. Caldera’s vote on Saturday, that incident was not a disruption though we are happy that Governor Hickenlooper is starting to see the flaws in HB 1303.”
Of course, there’s another, more insidious explanation for the governor’s abrupt turnaround: Maybe he was informed that gypsy voting is also taking place on his own side of the aisle, in which case it might be best to keep quiet and let Caldara slip the noose.
That’s lucky for Caldara—but not so fortunate for voters who count on their governor to take an interest in fair, accurate and transparent elections.