Watching big money at play as we approach election day

Column by Michael Alcorn
Posted 10/16/18

Ah, the silly season. It’s so much fun. Well, not if you get worked up about it, of course. Then you’ll start to feel like Bill Murray in “Ghostbusters” when he proclaimed “I’ve been …

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Watching big money at play as we approach election day

Posted

Ah, the silly season. It’s so much fun.

Well, not if you get worked up about it, of course. Then you’ll start to feel like Bill Murray in “Ghostbusters” when he proclaimed “I’ve been slimed.”

Fortunately, I don’t take it all that seriously. It is, at most for me, an interesting sociological phenomenon. Of course, the consequences are serious — elections have consequences, somebody said — but the actual campaigns are more the stuff of humor for me.

For instance, ironic humor is about the best response I can muster for the campaign ad being run by Jason Crow in the sixth district race announcing that he refuses to take money from political action committees (PAC’s). This, after we’ve spent the better part of the last six weeks hearing at least one ad in every commercial break attacking Congressman Mike Coffman. And, yes, technically it is true that the PAC works independently; but it is, at best, disingenuous to claim no PACs when the only way Crow stays in this race is because Coffman is being pummeled by $8 million in “shadowy, unaccountable” dark money.

Yes, you read that right--$8 MILLION for a Congressional seat from suburban Denver.

Speaking of money, have you seen the obscene amounts being spent to buy the Governor’s seat? As of a month ago, Jared Polis had dropped over $18 million of his own dollars on the race — it’s a safe bet that he’s drawing into the neighborhood of $25 million by now. To “counter” that, outside groups have infused over $12 million in support of Walker Stapleton. Sadly, they haven’t infused his campaign with any energy: while Polis has a whole series of slick ads with nice scenery and authoritative voice-overs, the first major ad of the Stapleton campaign featured a bunch of people holding up hand-written signs. A couple weeks ago I described the Rockies offense as almost as listless as the Stapleton campaign — I might have been selling the Rockies short. And we all know what happened to them.

Another interesting aspect of this campaign is the amount of money that is being spent on state House and Senate races already. With the exception of the one year that Polis’ “Gang of Four” surprised everybody and bought all of Colorado government in 2004, I do not remember another year that has featured so much media for state seats. Somebody has a lot of money, and they want the Capitol real bad.

By the way, does Ed Perlmutter have an opponent for re-election? Just asking … For a friend.

But what may be the greatest curiosity of this election is the silence coming from some quarters. We all know that there are three huge education proposals on the ballot this time around: Amendment 73 to raise $1.6 billion statewide; 5A to raise about $33 million in mill override for Jeffco Schools; and 5B to allow the school district to add $567 million in debt to fund building projects across the district.

The curiosity is just how quiet the campaign for these issues has been. Perhaps, after the full-court press that was unsuccessful two years ago, the strategic minds in charge thought a “stealth campaign” might be more effective. Or, perhaps, they’re saving their ammunition for a late blitz, knowing that the source of their campaign funds would remain secret until after the actual election, like how the “grassroots” campaign to recall board members in 2015 was revealed the December after to have received over a quarter-million dollars from state and national unions, more than 90 percent of its campaign funding. But, given that the Denver Post and the Colorado Women’s Alliance have both come out against 73, it is curious that there has not been a high-profile move in support of these issues.

And if that all sounded like a pregame rundown, that was deliberate. Watch politics as sport — it’s more fun. And, probably, more interesting than watching the Broncos right now.

Michael Alcorn is a teacher and writer who lives in Arvada with his wife and three children. His novels are available at MichaelJAlcorn.com. His opinions are not necessarily those of Colorado Community Media.

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