Ritter’s Office Continues to Stumble as Anger Grows

As The Denver Post reports today:

The fuming over Gov. Bill Ritter’s recent veto of a labor bill continues as angry critics swear that he never told Democratic leadership, bill sponsors or union backers that he planned to kill it.

Ritter’s office contends staffers warned that the governor would veto the proposal, which would have given a grocery workers union an advantage in contract negotiations.

But the disconnect over the death of House Bill 1170 may point to a rift between the governor’s office and the Democratic-controlled legislature on labor issues, and it has seeded anger among one of the pillars of Democratic political power: labor unions.

The governor’s office meets regularly with House and Senate Democratic leadership, and giving leading lawmakers and bill sponsors advance notice that a veto awaits their proposal is a political courtesy, not a requirement. Still, House Speaker Terrance Carroll said he never heard the V-word.

“They never directly told me the legislation would be vetoed,” said Carroll, D-Denver. “My understanding was that he had concerns with the timing. To me, that does not translate to ‘I’m going to veto the bill.’ “…

…While Casso spoke to the Democratic governor’s legislative liaison a handful of times during the legislative session, he was told what many others report hearing: There are concerns about the timing.

When asked directly by The Denver Post last week whether Ritter said “veto,” spokesman Evan Dreyer stopped short of saying “yes.”

“There was constant and regular contact,” Dreyer said at the time. “They knew exactly what the governor’s concerns were throughout the process.”

Dreyer later told The Post there were repeated meetings with Democratic legislative leaders before the bill was introduced and during the session to tell them he would veto it.

That claim makes Democratic lawmakers look like they recklessly charged ahead with legislation they knew would die, said Rep. Mark Ferrandino, D-Denver.

“He’s well in his right to say ‘I’m not taking a position. You do what you want to do as a legislature,’ ” said Ferrandino, a supporter of the labor bill. “But where the concern from the people in the legislature comes in is after using that argument, you say, ‘Well, I told them I’d veto it.’” [Pols emphasis]

This is exactly what we have been saying here for weeks. The bigger issue here is not whether each individual veto is merited — it’s the bumbling way in which Ritter’s office has handled the discussions, as Rep. Ferrandino notes in the last quote above. Ritter isn’t just angering labor unions — he’s alienating Democrats in general, and completely needlessly at that. If you’re going to veto the bill, then just say you’re going to veto the freakin’ bill. Why all this stupid dancing around among your own party, followed up by apparently false claims that they knew a veto was coming? This shouldn’t be this complicated — it really shouldn’t.

And ominously for Ritter, he may be causing irreparable harm to his own re-election efforts. Not only are some top supporters going to be sitting on the sidelines in 2010, they may actually be working against Ritter:

A group calling itself Labor Initiatives Against Ritter – or LIAR – has filed the paperwork needed with the Internal Revenue Service to begin raising money for political purposes.

Mark Johnson, an International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers member from the Colorado Springs area, is listed as the group’s agent. He declined to comment on LIAR’s plans.



52 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. parsingreality says:

    Tanned, rested, and increasingly possible.  

    Maybe someday Ritter will be looked at as genius because of the way things will play out.  At this time, not hardly.  He has been a great disappointment, both as a Dem and generally as a leader.  Of course, BWB probably would have failed as a leader, too.

  2. JeffcoBlueJeffcoBlue says:

    I’m going to say something that needs to be said but nobody seems to want to talk about. It’s past time for open disccusion–Ritter’s biggest problem is the advice he is getting right now. He is being coached though all these disastrous plays by David Kenney and to a lesser extent Jim Carpenter. Everybody knows it and it’s time their names were mentioned.

    Kenney is the one telling Ritter that it’s okay to piss on his base. Kenney is the one hoping to triangulate Ritter into a second term by “Sister Souljahing” labor. Kenney is the one who encouraged Ritter to make nice with Joe Blake and the Chamber of Commerce–anybody notice how quickly Ritter praised Blake’s selection, now the subject of lawsuits alleging violations of the open meetings law and cronyism?

    David Kenney is leading Ritter down the path to destruction. He has to go, and if Carpenter won’t stop this slide before it’s too late he needs to go as well.

  3. guesswho says:

    Watching the Progressives, Dems start dining on one another.  Welcome to the world of having absolute power.  The Republicans had it and then started chewing up on their own.

    There once were Moderate R’s under that big tent that now is about the size of a carport.

    Keep feeding on your own…now that you have all the power there’s nothing to do better anyway.

  4. walk progressively says:

    and my husband and I gave money to governor Ritter last time.  But after the way he has handled all of this and decided to act in favor of big business over the middle class workers, he won’t get a cent from us or our votes.

    I don’t understand who he is trying to please by going against his campaign promises, but as it stands now, in the next election I will be voting for a Republican.  So I hope the sell-out is worth it to the Gov, because he is losing support fast amongst the average people like me.

    • BlueCat says:

      I certainly won’t be voting for any of the R options but, unlike last time, I won’t be writing a check, distributing his lit or convincing friends that they need to vote for him despite his anti-choice views because of other pluses as well as electability.  It’s a different electoral atmosphere now.  

      Back when Ritter was elected, a guy like Udall was considered too Boulder liberal to win anything statewide. That’s no longer the case.  That leaves little to say to Dems who never were crazy about him in the first place. Especially since I’m not either.

      I’m sure this is fun for Rs but that can’t be helped.  Ritter is a HUGE disappointment.  I still wouldn’t get too happy if I were an R since their field is absolutely pathetic.  An incumbent piece of toast could probably win.

      • parsingreality says:

        Jus’ cuz most of the very new make strange and illogical posts doesn’t mean that signing up and posting on the same day is a sin.

        I’m sure I did.  And EVERYone loves my posts!

  5. MesaModerate says:

    running as a D in one of the worst R years in history (2006) isn’t enough to make you a leader.  

    Bill Ritter never has been a leader, never will be a leader and will soon be returning to Hogan and Hartson from whence he came.

    Did anyone else catch the story about Ritter missing the announcement of the new medical business to Colorado?  The guv’s director of econ development (the sports illustrated guy) apparently said that the guv is on some river in Montana doing what he loves.  Can anyone tell me how you screw the people of Colorado on a river?

  6. One Queer Dude says:

       Chris Cillizza has his picks this week of the top 10 governor’s seats likely to flip parties in the next election cycle.  Colorado is not one of them.

    http://voices.washingtonpost.c

      I guess neither McLobbyist nor Penry has impressed “The Fix” much.

  7. Gecko says:

    Most libs here were singing the praise of Ritter back after Hick said to screw off. I started calling him “Second Choice Ritter” then and was scorned every time.

    This is great. I might just have to switch sides and vote for him this time around. He is becoming an R.

  8. OneEyedOwl says:

    Will Ritter even seek re-election, having alienated much of his own base? If so, might anyone mount a primary challenge to his nomination for a second term?

  9. Leonard Smalls says:

    Ritter gets a mercy appointment in the Obama administration before the year is out and isn’t heard of again in Colorado until 2013 or so when he comes back to teach classes at CSU about renewable energy (complete with an Al Gore beard).

    • Noelle Green says:

      He has been overlooked.

      • Leonard Smalls says:

        If it could happen to Huntsman, it’s certainly still possible for Ritter. Especially if the DNC starts to get nervous about Bill’s chances in the coming months.

        • One Queer Dude says:

             If Obama is going to rescue Colorado Dems by giving Ritter a mercy appointment, shouldn’t he be doing it now rather than next summer?  Presumably, Hick or Romo would need some time to start raising money, get a campaign organization in place, etc.

            And I’m not sure Obama is big on mercy appointments.  If he were, he would have tried to help Conn. Dems by naming Chris Dodd to something to avoid putting what should be a safe blue state into play next year.  Instead, last night, Obama was out raising $$$ for Dodd and Arlen Specter.

  10. DavidThi808DavidThi808 says:

    is not that he has honked off people on one of two vetos. It’s that he has done virtually nothing that will get people excited to see him re-elected. You are always going to upset some of your supporters at times. You are always going to be more moderate than your base.

    But you have to do things where lots of people look at your actions and are thrilled about what you did. You have to, more often than not, shoot for things that your base wants to see.

    At present no group appears to care strongly about his re-election. The few groups he’s pandering too will either support the Republican or sit the election out.

  11. Jersey Transplant says:

    We can not, as a party, sit idly by while our legislature is doing a very very good job, especially considering the lack of funding, to say nothing of the fact that we’ve been in the majority for a while now and haven’t really fatigued; and allow the Guv to screw us like this.  Ritter just keeps vetoing good labor bills and signing shitty Republican measures.  I don’t know what base he’s playing to, probably the “No one will primary me and McInnis is a fucking joke” default confident base.  

    A Romanoff primary would be devastating; he would absolutely beat Ritter, and then win the general, because the Republicans have…no one, at all, and Romanoff is incredible no matter what party you belong to.  

    However, if this doesn’t happen, we should all prepare to be in the minority for a while as labor will sit out and “business” will chuck money into 527s to call us all socialists.  Besides, Amend. 54 puts us at a gross fundraising disadvantage, and the Guv is trying to position himself as the “pro-business” candidate, because we can’t raise any money from labor anyway.  

    I’m ranting, but the whole thing sucks, we need a leader in the Governor’s mansion, and this guy just isn’t doing it anymore.

  12. Blue Day Colorado says:

    It didn’t take Ritter long at all to stick it to over 17,000 hard working families, I wonder how long it takes him to stick it to the firefighters who protect those families as well…..

  13. CaninesCanines says:

    but first he wants us to elect him to a second term, otherwise it’s no deal.

  14. cologeek says:

    When I brought up the possibility of Ritter facing a Primary challenge a month and a half ago, I was roundly dismissed.  Now here we are with calls for Hickenlooper and Romanoff to enter the race.  I guess it really does matter here which direction you come from to get your opinions respected here anymore.

    • ThillyWabbit says:

      But it’s not going to happen. Not seriously so, anyway. He might get a Mark Benner or Mike Miles type primary as a result of the caucus process, which he will view as useful.

      • DavidThi808DavidThi808 says:

        But as Raphael says below, he’s honking off just about everyone and that means Romanoff, Hickenlooper, or even someone like Joan Fitz-Gerald would be welcomed by many. That means bot a credible chance and they don’t screw their future in the party.

        The other interesting thing is the money. Because it’s mostly 527s for the Gov race, and they will back whoever wins the Dem primary, there’s still time.

        I think the odds are still that there won’t be a serious challange – but the odds of it happening are reasonable.

    • Libertad says:

      Hickenlooper might have been Guv, but isn’t because Ritter scared him away.

      The gaggle of Dems (sans Hick) that might have run in that 2006 race will be augmented with a former Speaker, SecState, Treasurer, Rep of CD7 ….

      All this assumes that the Guv doesn’t run due to some choice he makes. I’m still laughing about the above comment, probably because it sounds so realistic.

      Ritter gets a mercy appointment in the Obama administration before the year is out and isn’t heard of again in Colorado until 2013 or so when he comes back to teach classes at CSU about renewable energy (complete with an Al Gore beard).

    • Raphael says:

      or rather, some things have become more clear, and Ritter has continued to mess up. A few months ago the thinking was “Ritter hasn’t been spectacular, but he has time to fix his image and turn it around.” Now it’s looking more like he’s using this extra time between now and the full-blown election cycle to see just how many groups (labor, business, legislature, etc.) he can piss off. And it’s looking like he might actually be going for the record.

      Hence the calls for Romanoff or, my preference, Hickenlooper.

  15. DavidThi808DavidThi808 says:

    Ritter is doing a poor job running the state – http://www.coloradopols.com/di

  16. Libertad says:

    You say he told no one outside his office, yet the Guv can’t be expected to personally carry every message.

    Why the breakdown in staff, why won’t they communicate the Guv’s positions?  

    Are they trying to throttle their own boss?

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