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Opinion Columns

Carman: A voters’ guide to the absurdities of Colorado politics in 2018

Your ballot should have arrived in the mail by now, so the pressure is on. You have important decisions to make, and time is running out.

Given the storm surge of mailers, commercials, debates and news stories that has inundated you in recent weeks, you’re surely knee-deep in campaign muck and slime by now.

I’m here to help you dig your way out.

Never mind the critical issues of who will fix education without teachers, build roads without money and reverse climate change without cuts in fossil fuel development.

Navigating those disasters is your problem.

Instead let’s consider the wonderfully entertaining absurdities. After months of political campaigning, there are oh so many. And if we can’t have a little fun at this point in the grueling process, we’re all taking it too seriously.

Diane Carman

But, before we talk about Wayne Williams’ hat, there’s my personal favorite in the pantheon of seasonal campaign absurdities. This one falls into the category of Hilariously Ironic and Highly Predictable Unintended Consequences.

Amendment 74, which would require state and local governments in Colorado to compensate property owners if a law or a regulation reduces the value their property, is the darling of the oil and gas industry. Our friends in drilling and spilling have invested north of $8 million in the cynical campaign to pass this measure.

The absurdity here is that, in addition to potentially bankrupting the state and most cities, it conceivably could make it a lot harder to obtain actual leases for oil and gas development.

Consider that under Amendment 74, property owners could make a credible case that actions by the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission to approve a lease for a well pad in, say, the Reunion neighborhood in Commerce City would negatively affect the value of homes and businesses in that booming suburban area.

It wouldn’t take long for even the COGCC to do the math and decide the state couldn’t afford to approve the leases at the risk of having to compensate property owners who might not be able to sell their homes anymore if they are downwind from 24/7 industrial drilling operations.

Call this one the Cut Off Your Nose To Spite Your Face Amendment.

Meanwhile in the governor’s race, we have so many juicy, irrelevant and absurd details emerging about the candidates’ lives that some of us have started wondering if writing a meaningful personality profile has become a lost art.

Exhibit A is the bizarre fact that Walker Stapleton was a “freshman sensation” at squash in college and learned over his college athletic career to tolerate a teammate’s habit of wearing a skirt while riding in the team van on the way to practice.

Say, what?

Similarly, we have learned that Jared Polis furthered his reputation for sartorial weirdness when he occasionally donned a symbolic judicial robe at state Board of Education quasi-judicial hearings on charter school matters.

Come on, really?

The attorney general’s race is generating its share of peculiar drivel as well.

We have George Brauchler and his fans sporting a skull-and-crossbones logo that vows to “Seek the Truth” and “Punish the Wicked.”

Looking at it, I can’t figure out if it’s supposed to be a subliminal reminder of the Third Reich or “Ghostbusters.”

This creepy little insignia is available on caps and arm patches … just in time for Halloween.

In contrast, Phil Weiser’s campaign has produced a video tutorial with his family on how to make “Bubby’s rugelach,” which is not something you usually learn in law school.

The message here is far from subliminal: Bubby survived the Third Reich.

Obviously, not all campaign posturing is aimed at the issues.

READ:Colorado Sun opinion columnists.

Which finally brings us to Wayne Williams’ hat.

It turns out that the honorable secretary of state charged his office discretionary fund $475 for a cowboy hat, as well as $349.80 for pants and $699.60 for a pair of boots.

He said they were for official duties, though I’m guessing the only duties that would authentically require the use of a cowboy hat would be bull-riding at the Stock Show Rodeo. To my knowledge that’s never been an official part of the secretary of state’s job description.

And incidentally, I have no idea what official duties require $700 boots.

All that aside, Williams does look dashing in his Western wear, which is more than I can say for presidential hopeful Gov. John Hickenlooper.

Now, this is but a taste of the deliciously rich platter of campaign absurdity we’ve been served this year.

Savor it, because all too soon the midterm elections will be over, and we’ll be force-fed a poisonous diet of name-calling, misogyny and building walls out of nothing but vitriol and partisanship.

Yes, the 2020 Presidential Election Campaign with all its attendant absurdity is right around the corner.

Let the DNA testing begin.  

Diane Carman is a Denver communications consultant. @dccarman