The Denver Post revisits one of Senate candidate Andrew Romanoff’s most controversial moments in leadership:
A year ago during a heated congressional race, former state Sen. Polly Baca said she couldn’t support Joan Fitz-Gerald in the Democratic primary because of her role in a special session on illegal immigration.
Fitz-Gerald was the state Senate president during that 2006 session, where lawmakers enacted what were touted as the toughest immigration laws in the nation. Baca said the measures hurt Latinos.
But a year later, Baca showed up in Pueblo to support Andrew Romanoff’s kickoff for the Democratic nomination to the U.S. Senate. He is challenging U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet.
Romanoff was the House speaker during that same special session, and Baca was asked about what seemed to be a contradiction.
“It was Fitz-Gerald who pushed for it, and Andrew just went along for party unity,” Baca said.
“Polly is dead wrong,” Fitz-Gerald said last week, noting that former Gov. Bill Owens called the session.
Several Hispanic leaders, including Ricardo Martinez, co-director of Padres Unidos, backed Fitz-Gerald’s version of events. Martinez said he is supporting Bennet.
“What’s not spoken about is Romanoff’s record, and how he voted to prohibit in-state tuition to undocumented students,” said Martinez, who stressed he was speaking for himself and not his group.
As one of the most dramatic moments in Romanoff’s tenure as Speaker of the Colorado House, the immigration policy special session is sure to be rehashed during the upcoming primary. Opinions vary on the political value of that special session in hindsight–some say (and we tend to agree) that it successfully defanged a major GOP plank going into the 2006 elections, others say that the cost in terms of harm to the relationship with Latino voters was not worth outflanking the Republicans on a fringy issue.
And now, whether Romanoff (or Joan Fitz-Gerald, for that matter) likes it or not, you get to play hindsight quarterback too.