Midterm elections lack the "sexiness" of presidential elections, yet they often deal with the issues or candidates most likely to have a direct impact on Joe Voter. If you haven't mailed in a ballot already, tomorrow is your last chance to have a say in your community. Colorado has some particularly heated candidate races this year, so for those of you wondering which circle to fill in, here's the breakdown:
Governor: John Hickenlooper vs. Dan Maes vs. Tom Tancredo
This year's race has an interesting twist, with three main contenders for the state's highest elected position. Tancredo's decision to switch parties in order to launch a third-party candidacy has garnered national attention for this race.
Well known to metro area voters as the Mayor of Denver and a key figure in organizing the 2008 Democratic National Convention in town, Hickenlooper has less visibility in Colorado's more rural counties.
A businessman (former owner of Wynkoop Brewing Company) who has shown leadership in Denver by creating Denver's Road Home (an initiative to tackle the homelessness problem), bringing the Democratic National Convention to Denver, and created initiatives to reduce Denver's carbon footprint. His proven success shows he can improve Colorado as Governor.
Hickenlooper is a politician of "the same stripe" as current Governor Bill Ritter, with the fear that Hickenlooper will raise taxes during a time Coloradans can't afford it, and by doing so kill jobs that are so desperately needed.
A newcomer to the political scene, Maes made headlines when he was charged with plagiarism as part of a $300,000 a year fellowship. Backed by the Tea Party, the businessman from Evergreen has inspired fervent support as well as vehement opposition.
As a successful businessman, Maes has the experience to be able to turn around Colorado's economic crisis with initiatives such as giving tax incentives to all businesses who hire at least one person in 2011 and reducing the personal income tax rate to 4.5%.
In addition to the plagiarism scandal, Maes has admitted to bolstering his resume with half-truths and his claims of financial expertise were discounted by his filing of personal bankruptcy in 1989. He also came out against gay rights, citing the "gay and lesbian agenda" that must be "halted." Even Republicans have been split on Maes, a major factor which led Tancredo to change parties and run against Maes.
As a congressman for Colorado for over a decade and even a presidential candidate, Tancredo has national recognition as a Republican politician. In order to run against Dan Maes, his party's nominee, Tancredo joined the Constitution Party.
With his government experience and knowledge, Tancredo brings a unique perspective to the job, and his belief in lower taxes and a smaller, more efficient government will help get the state back on track financially. Also, as a former teacher (and married to a former teacher), he has personal knowledge and experience with the PERA system and its current difficulties.
Tancredo has long been a politically polarizing figure. Tancredo's presidential campaign was based on a single issue: immigration reform. In support of same, Tancredo has made many statements which have offended immigrant communities, including referring to the "cult" of multiculturalism and his complaint that "People who could not even spell the word 'vote,' or say it in English put a committed socialist ideologue in the White House."Recently, he also stated that President Obama was a bigger threat to America than Al-Qaida, noting "It's not al-Qaida, it's the guy sitting in the White House."
If you haven't mailed in your mail-in ballot, you must now take it directly to the county clerk's office. To vote in person tomorrow, go to JustVoteColorado.org to find out when and where to vote in your county.