Frustration with Front Range funny business

Depending on how sick of politics you are, regardless of which party you’re in or not in at all, I’ll understand if you skip this column.

But, in case the recent newspaper headline talking about a thwarted revolt at the Colorado State House has you curious, I’ll continue.

Shakespeare would’ve loved the chance to tell the stories at the Capitol this week in all of the party caucuses. There’s a phrase used often by political insiders, it has to do with throwing someone under the bus. Not literally, of course, but the impact can feel the same.

Similarly, here’s a politician’s pithy quote worth considering: “I have learned the difference between a cactus and a caucus. On a cactus, the pricks are on the outside.”

Within my own caucus of the House Republicans, what started as an effort by a few to protect the existing leadership because they’ve treated us fairly and given committee assignments and position based on merit, turned into a slick role reversal of the intended protectors portrayed publicly as the insurgents.

The details are like following several strings in a tightly wound ball of yarn, so the summary is: I was asked and encouraged to run by a number of Republican House members for caucus chair, which is fourth down on a four-rung leadership ladder.

After talking with others to see if I had the votes, I agreed to go forth. This set in motion many events best left untold, but my principles are intact. There are those of us who value a broader caucus, see the future in it and are willing to fight for it.

On the Democratic side of the aisle, things were equal to or more chaotic in terms of jockeying for position, but this happens every two years in our political system. It’s just most normal people are blissfully unaware of it and by now are watching their television shows, happy to be rid of the flood of offensive political ads.

Here’s my assessment of our effort: We blocked the removal of the top two House Republicans, which is good, because diversity of thought should be prized, not eliminated.

The bad news is, in three separate efforts, Western Slope legislators, that is, Sen. Isgar, Gunnison’s Rep. Curry and I, failed to secure a seat at our respective party’s leadership table for our very large portion of the state. This concern was another reason I agreed to run for caucus chair.

Besides our bruised foreheads, does this matter to you?

It should. Very much.

What’s at stake is our water, a fair share of transportation funding, reasonable development of our natural resources, wildfire mitigation as a high priority, agriculture’s future, and our 2nd Amendment rights.

All three of us were rebuffed in our efforts to protect an immense rural part of Colorado and the values and traditions that we hold dear.

We’ll need to be ever more vocal and vigilant to represent you. We’ll have to fight harder to be included in the state policy discussions because the Front Range legislators have just demonstrated that they don’t value our presence and perspectives like they should. This led to me sharing with you the quote above, sent to me by a dear friend to help me keep my sense of humor.

I’d like to congratulate the Democrats for the hard-fought and historic win in the election of Barack Obama as president. I’m proud of my team, too, particularly Sen. McCain’s gracious concession speech, urging us to move forward with his heartfelt “Country First” message.

Thank you for the wonderful show of support in the vote count for my race. And, finally, while Referendum O didn’t pass this time, and we’re disappointed, we’re also really pleased that it came so close on such a limited campaign budget. We’re evaluating next steps, but rest assured, there’ll be some next steps.