You REALLY Didn’t See That One Coming, Governor?

Stupid governor traps

Keep an eye on the stick, not the carrot.

Governor John Hickenlooper has ascended the political ladder in Colorado with several parts of savvy politician mixed in with a folksy-schtickiness that, for the most part, has served him well. But as we pointed out last year, the "Hick Schtick" has been losing some of its power as Hickenlooper's political opponents learn how to use it against him. 

This problem for Hickenlooper emerged again last week, when the Governor walked right into a political trap when speaking in Aspen to the County Sheriffs of Colorado. Hickenlooper made some silly mistakes in speaking to the Sheriffs group when he inexplicably apologized to them for not communicating better over gun safety legislation passed in 2013. That story has continued well into this week, thanks to a well-placed camera and microphone. As Kurtis Lee of the Denver Post reports:

Gov. John Hickenlooper told county sheriffs at a recent gathering he felt conflicted about supporting a bill that limited ammunition magazines, but because one of his "staff made a commitment," he felt compelled to sign it into law.

"To be honest, no one in our office thought it would get through the legislature," Hickenlooper, a Democrat, said in an unedited video recorded by the conservative group Revealing Politics. "There were several Democrats who said without question they weren't going to vote for it."

The measure — by far the most controversial in a package of gun-control bills signed into law in 2013 — bars the sale of ammunition magazines of more than 15 rounds. The measure passed the Democratic-controlled legislature with no Republican support.

Eric Brown, Hickenlooper's spokesman, said Wednesday that he has not had a chance to speak with the governor about which staffer committed the governor's support and signature for the legislation. Hickenlooper is in Mexico this week to promote economic development.

As we wrote on Monday, Hickenlooper should have known better. His folksy attempts to make friends with a group of Republican sheriffs who were always going to be opposed to his policies ended up doing nothing but harm to his own image. Republican operatives have done a good job of expanding this story into more than it really is, something that became easy to do when the Governor walked right into their clutches. What did Hick think would happen here? What possible upside did he see in going back to the contentious 2013 legislative debate over gun safety? Did he just want Republican sheriffs to like him better? Did the Shirtless Sheriff just freak him out too much?

Hickenlooper fell into a stupid trap here, and it's his own fault for doing it. But as Aurora Sentinel editor Dave Perry opined this week, there are plenty of important details to remember – including the fact that the Colorado Chiefs of Police supported a ban on high-capacity magazines:

Hickenlooper’s gaffe here happened when agreed to talk to this group of self-aggrandizing gunslingers to begin with. Not that Hickenlooper didn’t make missteps here and elsewhere along his political path, but this was a phony gunfight from the get go…

What too many people forget here is that these sheriffs helping to perpetuate this hysteria are politicians. Most — if not all — share a common trait: Republicans with a magazine to grind against the Democratic governor. These sheriffs are trying to tell the public that nobody asked them nothing about any of this as the law was being created. That’s a load of crap…[Pols emphasis]

…Did Hickenlooper mishandle pushing back against the sheriffs? Probably. Who cares? Does it mean these two laws are any less valuable? Hell no. We’re they written so that they’re difficult to enforce? That’s for state lawyers and others to decide. If they are, modify them to ensure their intent and end this fake fury for good. And as for these sure-shooting sheriffs-turned-constitutional-lawyers: Spend your time protecting the public instead of preaching politics.

There's no sugar-coating that Hickenlooper fell into an obvious trap with the Sheriffs' group here, but even so, the political ramifications aren't particularly dire. For one thing, the gun legislation debate is already more than a year old; voters are already tired of hearing about it, and it's only June. And, of course, there's the not-so-little problem Republicans face with their own Gubernatorial field. Even if this were an election-defining moment (and even the most enthusiastic Republican would have to admit that it most certainly does not rise to that level), the GOP is going to have a hell of a time convincing voters that their nominee for Governor is worth selecting…period.

Yes, this is a bad story for Hickenlooper that reflects poorly on the Governor, but there's not more to it than that. Maybe this experience will finally convince Hick to put his "Schtick" in his back pocket for awhile and pay more attention to what's really happening in front of him. Maybe this will finally convince him to deal more closely with his obvious allies rather than spend so much time trying to court enemies. Or, maybe Hick will just keep on keeping on, and fall right into the next hole covered by Republicans with sticks and leaves. If nothing else, we'd guess Hickenlooper has made his last official visit to a meeting of the County Sheriffs group.

29 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. Ralphie says:

    I think one trend that's common in a lot of politicians is that they want everyone to like them.  Surrounded by yes-people most of the time, many of them believe it.  Unfortunately, the real world is a bit different.  Not everybody's gonna like you.  Write them off and focus on those who do.

    I really don't think Hick realizes that among his detractors are people who could otherwise be his base.

    • BlueCat says:

      Yep. Hick loves to be found adorable. 

    • Progressicat says:

      I think Hick has a big enough ego, like many politicians, that he thought he could confront the lion in his den dressed in a steak suit and not get chewed up.  It was foolish, but I'd say it was less "can't we all just get along" and more "hey, I can handle these guys."

      As for the staffer story, honorable men don't claim to act with honor while at the same time saying "Timmy made me do it with all his promising and such."  If a promise from your staff is a promise from you, you say "I promised my approval of the measure if it passed." and nothing else.

      Is this flawed Hick a better choice than anything the Rs will put up in November?  Hell yes.  Shame on them for not running a better candidate.

  2. ModeratusModeratus says:

    Hickenlooper didn't just apologize, he admitted the magazine ban was a useless law. He deprived Democrats of their justification for a law that led to the recall of two Senators, the resignation of a third, and will cost them the legislature in November.

    Thanks, Governor Hickenlooper! You just handed us the 2014 elections.

    • Curmudgeon says:

      That would be true, if your candidates weren't all hateful, reactionary sacks of crap.  If you're counting on the ammosexual vote, I suppose that's a lock. 

      • Diogenesdemar says:

        Being a Gessler shill he hasn't got much else to count. 

      • ModeratusModeratus says:

        Admitting you signed a law that was useless and you haven't even researched is devastating. But it's even worse for the legislators Hick threw under the bus. Why would any sane Coloradan give Democrats are term with or without Hick?

        • BlueCat says:

          Since sane Coloradans have a choice between Hick and the total loons your party is offering, I wouldn't bet the farm that Hick is the one who is going to wind up devastated. 

          BWB can beat any of them at saying one thing in one situation and another elsewhere while Tanc is consistently off the charts offensive to the people he'll need to win a statewide office. Gessler skates closer to outright criminality and every African American and Hispanic voter knows he's out to eliminate as many of those demo's voters as he can so, most aren't going to be fans and you can no longer win statewide without minorities and women. But that's really neither here nor there since he's not going to make it through the primary. So……

        • nota33 says:

          moderatus, why would any sane Coloradan give republicans like bigot Tom Tancredo a term as Governor? Sane and conservatives don't go together.

    • nota33 says:

      Moderatus, please keep dreaming. hickenlooper is still far superior to any of the right wing nuts that might run against us.

       

      "

  3. Diogenesdemar says:

    Personally, I think we should find out who "that staffer" is, and:

    1.  Give him or her an award!

    2.  Run him or her for office, immediately!

    3.  Weld him or her to Hick's backside so that there's alway someone who's whispering common sense and good ideas into his ear!

  4. Molly Brown says:

    Another spineless politician.

    • Duke CoxDuke Cox says:

      I find Hick to be like Mitch McConnell. Every decision he makes is politically driven.

      • BlueCat says:

        I don't entirely agree. I don't think, for instance, that he's just pretending be a pro Big Oil and Gas guy for political purposes. He really is. I don't think he's pretending to be more centrist then he really is. I think, in many ways, he's sincerely what he is which doesn't do much for the Dem base but gets him elected since 100% of the available Republicans are about 200% worse. 

        This particular episode is certainly completely politically driven but he seems to have botched it. Not badly enough to suffer for it against either BWB or Tanc, though. 

  5. MichaelBowmanMichaelBowman says:

    The Governor and Congressman Gardner share the same problem.  As Mayor of Denver he enjoyed a progressive environment and could be assured very little push back on such an agenda.  Ditto for the Congressman.  What played well in CD4 looks batshit crazy in the progressive populationn centers.  There's a reason the Congressman is mostly MIA these days. 

  6. Craig says:

    Just another reason that I, a former Republican and current unaffiliate, won't vote for Hick again.  The man has no standards or ethics.  He can't take a stand and stick to it.  I doesn't want to offend anyone.  Well, Governor, you have offended me by not taking a stand on anything, and I don't vote for people like you.

  7. mamajama55mamajama55 says:

    John Morse on "The Last Word" tonight, talking about Hickenlooper and his weird apology. Video isn't up yet, but Morse said something smart (of course) about "not giving your enemy any ground".

  8. nota33 says:

    The gun nuts are a tiny minority in Colorado. Why Hickenlooper is changing his tune is beyond me.

    • mamajama55mamajama55 says:

      I wouldn't really call gunzos a "tiny" minority. In some rural and semi-rural areas (like Pueblo and SE Colorado) they're about 25-30% of the reliable voters. They certainly came out for the recall elections – and the sane folks didn't.

      So even though they've had spectacular failures in terms of repealing any gun laws, they still get worked up over abortion rights and the puffed-up scandal du jour. They truly believe that they are "freedom fighters", although they'd be hard-pressed to say exactly which rights and/or freedoms have been infringed in real life.

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