Mike Lawrence: Don't hype the mandate

Dems stress centrist, bipartisan work


"Mandate" is now the kind of word that makes you shudder.

Remember the speech a day after the 2004 election? When finalized votes showed President George W. Bush had defeated Massachusetts Senator John Kerry and won re-election by garnering 51 percent of the popular vote nationwide, with about 3.5 million more votes than Kerry, Bush immediately got behind a lectern and told the television cameras that the American people had given him a "mandate" approving his policies on issues including the war in Iraq, tax cuts and Social Security reform.

A day after the 2006 election, just two years later and two days ago, Bush got behind a lectern and told the cameras that Republican defeats across the country Tuesday night added up to a "thumping" for the GOP. On Thursday, Republican Senator George Allen conceded defeat to Virginia Democrat Jim Webb, officially adding Democratic control of the U.S. Senate to Democratic control of the U.S. House come January.

In other words, America took the President's mandate away faster than the Harbor Hotel went down.

The partisan joke going around is that since President Bush will shortly become a lame duck president, Dick Cheney probably will shoot him on their next hunting trip.

Colorado saw widespread Democratic wins along with the rest of the country. Likely remembering the dangers of dancing on political graves, prominent left-wingers here in the Centennial State are not tying on their tap shoes.

"I think it would be a mistake to exaggerate our mandate," said Denver Democrat Andrew Romanoff, who won an easy re-election to the state House and was named to his second tenure as Speaker of the House on Thursday. "I like to say 'we the purple.'"

Although Romanoff called Tuesday "the best election in half a century" - Democrats last took simultaneous control of the state House, Senate, and governorship in 1958 - he said he attended a meeting of the state Republican caucus Thursday to encourage a bipartisan work ethic with the state GOP.

"I was in the minority for four years, and I know the temptation is to feel like none of your bills will pass:and you might as well go home," said Romanoff, who is entering his fourth term and seventh year under the Capitol dome. "But that is not the case - you can actually get a lot done, no matter what side of the aisle you're on."

Routt County Republicans who have yet to come out from under the blankets should consider that state Rep. Jack Taylor, a veteran Republican politician, said he had his "best year as a legislator" in 2006, when he and state Rep. Al White earned passage of a bill that establishes a permanent source of funding for Colorado tourism promotion, starting at $19 million per year.

Democratic majorities in the House and Senate approved that bill, which Taylor called the culmination of 14 years of work.

Pat Waak, chairwoman of the Colorado Democratic Party, said Democratic victories in Routt County's three contested countywide races, along with Routt County's support of progressive issues such as domestic partnership rights, should not be attributed solely to left-wing ideals.

"There are a lot of good Democrats in Routt County who care very deeply about issues," Waak said. "They're working very hard for more than ideology - they're working for things that make common sense and are good for the state of Colorado."

State and national Democrats have been pushing a common sense, common good platform in numerous comments since Tuesday's landslide election.

They have two years to make that platform a reality - Republicans know all too well that with a single Election Day, a mandate can be taken away.

To reach Mike Lawrence call 871-4203, or e-mail mlawrence@steamboatpilot.com


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