They just keep going. And going. And going . . .
I don’t need to remind you of the Energizer Bunny commercials. How can you forget them? You know, the the mechanical rabbit with fake pink fur that relentlessly marches across your TV screen, pounding a big drum.
But this isn’t about bunnies. It’s about that exceedingly large number of politicians out there who seem to think that the world just can’t possibly carry on without them. But be forewarned: I’m gonna’ name names. But, given that this is an exceedingly target rich environment, I’m almost inevitably going to miss far more names than I actually hit.
Kickin’ butt. And takin’ names.
Let me start with one of my least favorites: Mike Coffman. (I’ll concede, up front, Mike’s distinguished military record.) But that record can’t insulate him from a jolt from the Energizer Bunny. Between military tours, he’s held more political offices than you can shake a stick at: several terms in the Colorado House of Representatives and Colorado Senate, Colorado Treasurer, Colorado Secretary of State, and then five terms in the U.S. House of Representatives.
In the U.S. House, Coffman succeeded immigration hawk, Tom Tancredo (one of few politicians who actually kept his promise to limit his time in office). In the House, Coffman began his career as the heir to Tancredo’s hard line position on immigration. But only until that stance threatened Mike’s reelection chances when his House seat was redistricted and became more competitive. At which point, he cast aside his immigration “convictions” in favor of a higher “principle:” getting reelected. Which cadged Mike six more years in office. But despite turning on Trump on “The Wall,” Coffman was swept out when the Democrats took back the House.
But did losing his House seat slow down Mike? If you thought so, you don’t understand the Energizers. No sooner had the ashes cooled on his last failed bid for the U. S. House, Mike announced he was running-again. But this time for Mayor of his home town, Aurora.
Will Mike win this race? No idea. But I’m sure of this: even if he doesn’t, I doubt this Energizer Bunny is done pounding his drum.
Let’s get bipartisan!
But lest you believe that Bunnies only inhabit Republican hutches, there are, if anything even more on the Democratic side. Take, for example, John Kefalas, who’s held a long string of elected offices on Colorado’s urbanized, northern Front Range.
John and I both came into the Colorado House in 2006. John, however, left the House in 2012 to run for a state Senate seat. He then resigned part way through his eight year term to run for a seat on the Larimer Board of Commissioners.
Again, I am glad to give John credit where it is due. While we didn’t often see eye to eye on policy matters, he was, like many of our legislative colleagues, smart and hard working. But John’s legislative career path was like so many of the others I see down there: a term limit (eight years) in the House, eight years in the Senate (or visa versa). And then: “What’s next?” The bunnies are always on the lookout for the main chance. In John’s case, it was the County Commissioner seat-which pays significantly better than a legislative seat.
The vacancy game
But my real beef with John and so many other pols like him? After promising his supporters that he is “eager” to represent them in the House-or, in Kefalas’ case, the Senate-he resigned part way through his term when the prospect of a better deal come along. And then runs for that “higher” office-either through the truncated vacancy committee process. Or via a regular election.
In either event, running as a current office holder-the “incumbent”-is a huge advantage in terms of name recognition. Which also makes it much easier to raise money: the lobbyists who control donor purse strings are eager to back sure bets. And shy away from long shot challengers.
The Greasy Pole
And now, one of our own, former Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper, has announced he’s running for President. That’s a pole certainly no less greasy than the one Benjamin Disraeli climbed in 1874 to become Britain’s Prime Minister.
Again, I wish our former Governor well. I served under him for a few years. He’s an amiable man. Perhaps, in fact, overly amiable for our current, bitterly partisan zeitgeist.
But I’m compelled to say this. After 8 years as Mayor of Denver and then 8 years as Governor of Colorado, is he really any different than all the other professional politicians out there? Or is he just on the lookout for the next hand hold on the greasy pole that will get him to the top of the heap in DC?
Where he will be content to comfortably wallow with the rest of the denizens of the DC swamp?