Reader (and Colorado resident) Gary Wockner writes to remind us that not all the news is bad:
About your “Array of Hope” article, you failed to ask anyone who lives in Colorado about the election results of 2004. Here is our response: Aside from the presidential election, Colorado scored a victory for the environment! For example:
- We got a new U.S. Senator in Ken Salazar who replaced Ben Nighthorse Campbell and defeated Pete Coors. Ken is one the of brightest environmental stars on the Western political horizon and has worked tooth and nail for years to defend Colorado’s land, water, and people.
- We got a new U.S. Representative in John Salazar (Ken’s brother), who replaced an outgoing anti-environmentalist and defeated another anti-environmentalist. Like his brother, John has solid environmental credentials and will do good for Colorado in Washington.
- We re-elected U.S. Representative Mark Udall (’nuff said).
- In a HUGE victory, pro-environmental democrats took control of both the state of Colorado Senate and Colorado House of Representatives. This is the first time democrats have controlled the Colorado State Legislature in 30 years.
- We passed an environment-friendly transit bill in the Denver Metro area.
- We passed a statewide renewable energy amendment.
- Many local races went for pro-environment democrats including several county commissioners races which are very important arbiters of growth and development (and accompanying environmental protection) in our state.
How did all this happen?
- Money, and lots of it. A visionary group of wealthy Colorado citizens hand-picked a group of state level races to support with the specific goal of gaining democratic control of the Colorado legislature. These visionaries organized well, spent well, and claimed victory for the people, rather than the corporations, of Colorado.
- We supported grassroots candidates (like the brothers Salazar) who could speak to a broad coalition of citizens. The Salazar’s grew up as poor farmers and ranchers in rural Colorado and their experience resonated with voters.
- We had specific pro-environment ballot initiatives on the ticket which brought environmental voters to the polls. The lesson here is the same one the republicans used in Ohio, but instead of appealing to gay-bashing “values” voters, we appealed to the hope of all citizens for a cleaner, greener Colorado. Democrats widely won as these amendments carried the day.
- The fight was intense, simplified, and aggressive. We scoured the history of some elected officials and found their voting histories and the published writings and speeches, and when appropriate, we hammered their ‘dark sides’ to the public via a media blitzkrieg.
- The democratic machine was organized, efficient, and relentless. Statewide, democrats brought out the vote, canvassed, and volunteered at levels never before seen.
And here’s one more thing we did: on Wednesday morning, we started organizing for 2006. We have a Governor’s race to win, a host of other pro-environment ballot initiatives to begin, and a cleaner greener Colorado to do it all in. We have more than an array of hope in Colorado, and we are moving solidly forward.