Our ruling class snubs Colorado overhaul – Greeley Tribune

“Flyover” country is political jargon for much of Central America ignored by elected elites. They think they don’t need the votes; Their support bases are located in the country’s major metropolitan areas, typically on the coasts.

Colorado has its own version of a heartland that is overlooked by its political ruling class. It covers much of the Centennial State’s area. Although largely rural, it also includes significant population centers such as Grand Junction and Greeley. The region, spanning the Eastern Plains, Western Slope and San Luis Valley, also produces much of our food and energy – cornerstones of Colorado’s economy.

For the most part, its constituents just aren’t on the radar of the state’s elected leadership in Denver.

That may help explain Gov. Jared Polis’ decision earlier this month to sidestep an offer from influential West Slope civic group Club 20 to debate Republican gubernatorial hopeful Heidi Ganahl in September in Grand Junction. Former governor-turned-US Senator John Hickenlooper also declined an invitation to the Club 20 debate in 2020 when he was running for Senate.

Indeed, a political rift seems to be opening up between urban and rural Colorado, and some say it’s about more than the traditional rivalries between city dwellers and country dwellers.

The split is becoming increasingly partisan. Outside of the ski area, rural Colorado is distinctly Republican, while the Front Range metro areas — with the notable exception of Colorado Springs — voted more Democratic in the last election. Urban Democrats control the executive and legislature branches of state government and hold both seats in the US Senate.

That was not always so. Most notably, Colorado’s three-year-old Democratic Gov. Roy Romer — a “friend of Bill” Clinton and former chairman of the Democratic National Committee — was a native son of the sugar crop holly near the Kansas border. His family sold farm equipment, and Romer earned a degree in Agricultural Economics from Colorado State University.

Romer’s Democratic Party did not detest the state’s central oil and gas industry; Even fellow Democrat Hickenlooper’s first career was as a petroleum geologist. And the party did not cast a biased eye on agriculture and ranching as alleged causes of climate change and other environmental degradation. All of that has changed.

Part of the shift is cultural — like vegan first gentleman Marlon Reis’ disdain for Colorado’s signature beef — but it’s also very economic, like the Polis government’s crusade against fossil fuels. And all of this has political implications. Commenters have noted the opinion pages of The Gazette as well as our news partner Colorado Politics.

Rachel Gabel, a columnist for Gazette and Colorado Politics and a member of a multi-generation ranch family, recently wrote about how a clumsy attempt by the governor’s office to recognize Cow Appreciation Day via social media “isn’t going to convince an industry (polis) to keep going back into the Teeth. …”

Farmer and State Senator Jerry Sonnenberg, a Sterling Republican, recently rebuked Polis in Colorado Politics for skipping the upcoming Grand Junction debate. Sonnenberg wondered if “…the governor doesn’t want to debate outside of Denver because he knows he’s upset even the Democrats in rural areas.”

Greg Fulton, a veteran of the trucking industry and observer of Capitol politics, likened West Slope’s disappointment with Denver to the United Kingdom’s exit from the European Union. Fulton said that “Wexit”-like feelings have arisen “…as more progressive and city-oriented laws, rules and regulations have emerged”.

But does anyone in the state government care? Or do they think they don’t need the voices of rural Colorado anyway?

— The Gazette (Col. Springs) Editorial Board, July 25

https://www.greeleytribune.com/2022/07/30/opinion-other-voices-our-ruling-class-snubs-flyover-colorado/ Our ruling class snubs Colorado overhaul – Greeley Tribune

James Brien

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