What else can I say about the deal Owens made with Democrat legislators to close the immigration session? It’s bad news for the good guys.
Of course, the trouble began when former governor Dick Lamm remembered which party he belongs to and pulled his support from the Defend Colorado Now initiative and cut his own backroom deal with fellow Democrat and erstwhile immigration opponent Federico Pena.
Still, Owens held the high cards and had the authority and clout to limit the special legislative session to the narrow matter of addressing the Colorado Supreme Court’s judicial activism. Instead of keeping the lid on things and making sure that legislators simply voted up-or-down to refer the Defend Colorado Now initiative to the voters in November, he ceded the initiative to the Democrats.
And in the end, Owens chose not to fight for the party or the cause. But this has been a pattern of behavior to which Colorado’s conservative Republicans have grown accustomed. In 2000 he opted to stay silent on the spending mandate of Amendment 23, which narrowly won (52-48). In 2005 he threw all his energy and political capital into supporting the tax increase of Referendum C – which won by a similar margin – and the debt burden of Referendum D – which narrowly lost. (The Rocky Mountain News‘ Vince Carroll nailed this right on last November.)
In between he helped to make sure the FasTracks tax increase was a winner. And many Colorado Republican activists cannot forget how Owens treated Bob Schaffer during the U.S. Senate primary campaign of 2004.
Just writing this post makes me look forward a lot more to a Bob Beauprez governorship at the State Capitol. Unfortunately, by cutting the deal he did yesterday and all but taking the immigration issue off the table for debate in the election, Owens has made his fellow Republican’s chances of getting to be his successor a lot more difficult.