To Colorado Democrat legislative leaders Joan Fitz-Gerald and Andrew Romanoff, “Nice try.” The “Wish away the immigration issue, Supreme Court decision, and Special Session” card just wasn’t available, so they made the next best possible political move: threatening to call their own special legislative session. Unfortunately for them, the analysts quoted in the Rocky Mountain News are right on:
“It’s completely an idle bluff,” said Eric Sondermann, a political consultant. “In this particular poker game, the governor holds all the high cards.
“The Democrats are trying to exert any leverage they have in how the call for the special session is crafted so that the governor doesn’t craft it too narrowly,” Sondermann said. “At the end of the day, the special session will be called on his timetable and his agenda.”
Republicans have made illegal immigration their cornerstone issue this election year, and Democrats cannot appear weak on the issue, said Floyd Ciruli, a political pollster.
“This is just a gesture,” he said of the Democrats’ effort to try to call a session. “The Republicans are going to stay united with the governor and make the argument that the problem has to do with the justices not allowing the public to vote.”
He said that illegal immigration is a difficult issue for Democrats, who may not believe that the ballot issue is the right solution, but need to consider the mood of the voters, too.
Neither Sondermann nor Ciruli is notoriously partisan or ideological. Their assessments are keen observations about the high importance of immigration in Colorado’s 2006 campaign.
While this issue might just be the chink in the Democrats’ armor, Republicans have to be careful to play it straight: strong on enforcement, a clear distinction between legal & illegal immigration, without veering off onto the nativist reservation.