Steamboat Springs Call it the power of the positive.
About 40 observers gave a warm reception on a chilly day to Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper, the Democratic candidate for governor, as his campaign bus rolled through downtown Steamboat Springs on Sunday. Hickenlooper is challenging American Constitution Party candidate Tom Tancredo and Republican businessman Dan Maes in the race for governor, which culminates in an election that’s now less than 10 days away.
In a rally hosted by the Routt County Democratic Party on the Routt County Courthouse lawn, Hickenlooper spoke briefly about a state budget that he said is underfunded in every area and about a corresponding need to stimulate small businesses and entrepreneurs. But the message that seemed to resonate most with those in attendance Sunday was the positive nature of his campaign so far.
“He’s a fantastic breath of fresh air,” Steamboat retiree Hal Olsen said. “I don’t know if there’s anybody else that’s not in the gutter with this election.”
Roddy Beall, son of longtime Routt County residents Ben and Millie Beall, expressed a similar appreciation for Hickenlooper’s positive campaign — known for television ads in which the mayor showers fully clothed to “wash off” negativity — and added that he likes a new vibrancy he’s noticed in downtown Denver.
“The downtown is becoming more of an interesting place to be,” Beall said. “Maybe all of Colorado can be more interesting and exciting with him as governor.”
Hickenlooper said negative campaigns can turn off voters to all candidates, and to politics in general.
“Positive campaigns do matter,” he said. “We need people not to be driven away from government, but driven toward it.”
A Denver Post/9News poll announced Sunday showed Hickenlooper with support from 49 percent of 621 likely and actual voters surveyed by telephone last week. Tancredo drew 39 percent support compared to 9 percent for Maes, according to The Denver Post. The survey has a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.
Speakers at Sunday’s rally
also included Colorado Secretary of State Bernie Buescher, who’s running for re-election against Republican challenger Scott Gessler; Hickenlooper’s running mate, Colorado State University-Pueblo President Joe Garcia; and Steve Ivancie, who’s running for the state House District 57 seat against Hot Sulphur Springs Republican Randy Baumgardner and Oak Creek Libertarian Mike Kien.
After his remarks, Hickenlooper addressed a question about the preservation of Northwest Colorado’s coal jobs, which could be threatened by a law adopted this year that will convert some Front Range coal plants to natural gas. Earlier this year, state Sen. Al White, R-Hayden, said the Colorado Clean Air-Clean Jobs Act could cut as many as 200 jobs at Routt County’s Twentymile coal mine because of market and production impacts.
Hickenlooper said Sunday that he believes in the development of clean coal technology and values coal as an energy resource. But he said the ever-changing energy market could mean that some coal workers will need to be retrained for other energy jobs, such as natural gas production.
He said energy industry workers and employers will have to be ready to adapt to new markets as the state’s economies are shifting faster than ever before.
“We’re in the middle of the greatest economic transformation since the Industrial Revolution,” Hickenlooper said.