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Dems need late rally to keep extreme candidates out of office in state, U.S. Senate

Ethics complaint, Twitter debacle dog Republican looking to replace Snowmass Village resident Schwartz

November 4, 2014, 8:44 am

Don Suppes and Kerry Donovan.

A Republican friend of mine whom I consider a moderate voice of reason on some issues and a complete crackpot on others took the time the other day to scold me for the lack of motivation of my fellow Democrats this midterm election, as if that’s somehow my responsibility.

Seems he was angry at the apathy demonstrated by the Dems this midterm, in which even fewer young people, women and minorities are voting than in past midterms, and so he scolded me in hopes I would scold them into getting their ballots in between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. today (Tuesday, Nov. 4).

It’s too late to mail ballots in, so you must turn them into one of the Eagle County Clerk and Recorder’s offices in either Avon, Eagle or El Jebel. To get a replacement ballot if for some reason you didn’t get one mailed to you or to find out exactly where to drop off ballots, go to the Eagle County Clerk and Recorder’s website or call (970) 328-8715. Or if you’re a Pitkin County resident, go to the Pitkin County Clerk and Recorder’s website to find ballot drop-off locations in Aspen, Snowmass or Basalt or call (970) 429-2713.

So there, consider yourself scolded. Midterms matter. Just because we’re not picking a president there’s no excuse not to vote, especially when even moderate Republicans are so scared of their party’s candidates they’re actually worried by the prospect of GOP-controlled state and U.S. senates.

Republican state Senate District 5 (Aspen and Vail) candidate Don Suppes seems like a nice guy when you talk to him on the phone, but he’s basically running on a platform of rolling back everything the Democrats did in the State Legislature the last few years, such as universal background checks for firearm purchases and increased renewable energy portfolios for rural electric associations.

I happen to agree with both of those policies, and I strongly disagree with Suppes’ misguided plan to pursue state control over federal public lands in Colorado, paying for the massive management expense by stepping up the leasing of those lands for mining, grazing, logging and oil and gas drilling.

I think most of us moved here and stay here to enjoy outdoor recreation and would like to protect our environment as much as possible, conserving public lands for future generations. That’s why Democrat and former Vail Town Council member Kerry Donovan got my vote over Suppes.

The Vail Daily also had the good sense to endorse Donovan in a district that could be the key to Democrats maintaining their scant 18-17 margin in the state senate, which is a place, unlike the U.S. Senate, where things actually get done.

A couple of things you haven’t read about in the Vail Daily or other Colorado Mountain News Media papers such as the Aspen Times are Suppes’ inexplicable gaffes when it comes to managing both his campaign and his Twitter account. The Orchard City (near Delta) mayor incredibly thought it was OK to use the town hall for sorting campaign mailers with volunteers, and he fired a staffer for a racist tweet back in May, then later said he thought his account had been hacked. Now Suppes is facing an official complaint from Colorado Ethics Watch to the Secretary of State’s Office.

These are not signs of good decision making, and it would have been nice to read about these failings in the local papers of record. Put Suppes’ shenanigans together with his very socially conservative views on many topics, including sympathizing with last year’s secession movement, and you can understand my Republican friend’s frustration at his party’s inability to find a reasonable, socially moderate, fiscally conservative Republican to run for SD5 and likely win in a landslide.

Same goes for the obscenely expensive, all-time record-breaking race for U.S. Senate in Colorado (someday history will judge this Supreme Court poorly for Citizens United). President Obama’s approval rating is so low that any reasonable Republican should have walked all over incumbent Democrat Mark Udall.

Consider that the party of a second-term president has lost its grip on every Senate since World War II when the lame-duck president’s party actually held the majority. I consider Udall a moderate very worthy or reelection, but he’s been fighting an uphill battle given public disgust with Obama and incumbents in general in Congress.

Only a Tea Party sympathizer like Rep. Cory Gardner, who refuses to come clean on his current sponsorship of federal personhood legislation, could make this race as close as it is. By pandering to the far right with his previous support of personhood ballot issues in Colorado, Gardner has forced the one-issue debate over something I thought we decided 30 years ago.

Thing is, there’s a lot more to Udall. He often crosses the aisle on energy, national security, women’s issues, immigration and a whole host of other policies that never got anywhere in the most obstructionist Congress in U.S. history. Of course he voted with Obama 98 percent of the time; there was hardly any actual legislation to vote on thanks to the 2010 Tea Party takeover of the House.

Clearly Udall is paying a price for Obama’s decision to put off immigration issues until after the midterms in order to help Democrats in less progressive states, and the decision to focus on reproductive rights will be debated for years to come.

But whatever your take on all these issues, midterm disaffection and tuning out the rampant outside spending that’s clogged the airwaves and enriched broadcasters are not valid excuses for refusing to vote. Make sure you’ve turned in your ballot, no matter your political persuasion, but especially if you’re an apathetic Dem or independent hoping someone else will keep the kooks out. Your vote really matters this midterm.

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David O. Williams is an award-winning energy, environment, sports and outdoor writer based in the Vail Valley. His work has appeared in publications as diverse as the The New York Times, Chicago Tribune, Denver Post, SKI, SKIING, Powder, People, LA Weekly and the Huffington Post.

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