My personal musings about anything that gets on my radar screen--heavily dominated by politics.


Marc Holtzman Gone National

Marc Holtzman had a lengthy interview on the Hugh Hewitt show this afternoon. The transcript is up at RadioBlogger. I'll try to distill the key points.

HH: Let's switch over to some Rocky Mountain politics for a second, Marc Holtzman. You've got some deep pocketed blue, blue activists in your state, and they are spending like drunken sailors. How does anyone win against that kind of tidal wave of money, when you don't have contribution limits?

MH: Well, I believe that you work very hard to articulate a positive message. I have three things that I'm talking about. I'm talking about how horrified I am by the in-flow of illegal immigration into Colorado, the fact that with 400,000 people living illegally in a state of just a little more than 4 million people, it's a tremendous economic burden on our working families. And as Governor, I have a plan to address it, to deal with it, to end benefits beyond what are federally mandated, and to get tough on making sure that employers know and understand their responsibilities and obligations under the law. I'm talking about how I'm going to erect safeguards to protect eminent domain from not being used ever in a private purpose. And I'm talking about how I'm going to try to roll back the effects of this $4 billion dollar tax increase, Referendum C, that was on the ballot last year, how bad it is for working families, how misrepresented the case for the tax was, and how as Governor, I'm going to do everything in my power to make sure that we get as much of that money back to working families as we can.
HH: Marc Holtzman, I mentioned earlier the money advantage Democrats have in the Colorado elections coming up, and they just wiped out Republicans in 2004. Pete Coors lost to Ken Salazar. Boy, do we regret that. What's the ground game look like in Colorado right now? Is there any way to get the energy back? . . .
MH: Yeah, let me suggest something else. I believe that in 2004, that Republicans lost not so much because the Democrats beat us on the front that you described, but I believe that the leadership of our party in Colorado became detached from the core soul and Reagan roots of our party. We became so obsessed with holding onto power and winning elections, that we lost sight of what we stood for. We did a terrible job at articulating a positive and optimistic and conservative vision for Colorado. And the result was that in a year when President Bush won by 7 percentage points in Colorado in '04, we lost the Senate race, we lost the state Congressional seat in Western Colorado. And we lost the House and the Senate, first time both chambers combined in 42 years. One of the reasons I'm running is because I want to return our party to its core values and basic principles. And I'm articulating just such a message, and I am the anti-establishment candidate in this race. but we've got a lot of support that we're building among the grass roots of our party. And I am convinced that my message is not only a winning message for my campaign, but it's going to bring in a Republican House and Senate, and a sweep across the entire team. And we're not going to stop at anything less than total victory.

HH: Now obviously, Colorado's had two major education stories. We've only got a couple of minutes, but I've got to talk about Jay Bennish and Ward Churchill.
MH: Yes.
HH: You were the president of a university, and you know what it's like to get rid of a tenured person. It's impossible. But what is it that went wrong in those two instances?
MH: Well first of all, I reformed tenure at the University of Denver. If you are a recipient of one of the chairs at our school of law today, you have to voluntarily relinquish tenure before you can accept the benefit of that chair. Ward Churchill would have never happened at my university, because we simply wouldn't have allowed it, we wouldn't have permitted it. That man should have been fired and dismissed, because he plagiarized, because he misrepresented his credentials. It had nothing to do with academic freedom. That was a thin veil behind which he tried to hide. Jay Bennish, absolutely disgraceful what he did, and that's all too typical. And that's why I support vouchers, I support school choice, and Hugh, I am behind an amendment which is going to be on the Colorado ballot this year, which if passed, will require that at least $.65 cents out of every education dollar, as opposed to 57% today in Colorado, go into the classroom. but I support school choice for home schooling, for use at Parochial and religiously affiliated institutions, and through competition, we have to shake up the system, and that's what I want to do as Governor.

Let me start with the stylistic analysis. Marc Holtzman comes off as extremely knowledgable, quite articulate and also quite passionate. His understanding of issues, the depth of understanding involved, and his eagerness to convey his ideas is all very infectious, and a very attractive quality in a candidate. This is clearly a man who does his homework and has the capacity to grasp vast amounts of ideas and themes.

As to the substance, I wonder a little about some of the themes he launched on. Let me start with the three ideas he's talking about, according to him: immigration reform, eminent domain, and rolling back Referendum C. All of these are good issues, and winners, generally; the problem is the role of the state government in these issues. To the extent that Holtzman wants to limit state benefits and hold employers accountable for their role, great; but to make this issue number one, when HUGE parts of immigration law are the main responsibility of the federal government strikes me as a aiming pretty high. And not that aiming high is bad; I'm just thinking, politically, from the standpoint of how easy it is to demagogue the issue versus the real role that the governor plays, this may not be the most "cost-benefit" efficient use of the stage. Likewise, Iminent Domain, while certainly a darling issue for people who pay attention (like GOP primary voters), is a bit of an obscure concept to general voters, of which Colorado has plenty, and it will be pretty hard to use that issue to distinguish himself from any of the other candidates for the position.

And then there's rolling back Ref C. I think my track record of opposition to C is pretty clear from last Fall, so I don't have a position-based disagreement. My worry is that it is difficult to tell the majority of Coloradans WHO JUST VOTED FOR THIS MEASURE that they were wrong; and then to make that a centerpiece of the platform risks alienating a great many voters. Likewise with his support of vouchers: it's not that they're a bad idea; it's that the voters of this state have turned down vouchers THREE TIMES. For Holtzman to get traction with these ideas, he's going to have to have a wildly creative and inexplicably effective way of explaining the issues to the voters for these two ideas to be useful in the general election.

That said, big props to MH for taking on tough issues in a direct and candid fashion. Maybe he's on to something that nobody's really tried before: a full, frontal (rhetorical) assault. I will watch with great interest to see what sort of traction he gets with these issues.

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