But Bob, they say you voted with the Democrats half the time? How could you do that and still be a conservative?
I get this or similar question from time to time and it is a charge my opponent makes frequently. But, it is one of those glass half full or glass half empty things-or worse, it is simply faulty logic. What it really means is that some number of Democrats voted with me half the time—and I was pleased that they agreed with my conservative position.
What were some of those bills? Well, one that comes immediately to mind was the bill I carried which created and funded the Colorado Aerial Firefighting Corps—our own Colorado aerial firefighting resources. After the devastating wildfires of 2012 and 2013, it became clear that Colorado could not depend upon the federal government to provide aerial resources for firefighting. All too often, it was too little, too late. So, with a Republican Senate colleague, I sponsored a bill for Colorado to create an aerial firefighting service with authority to purchase, lease, and rent aircraft for firefighting. I am proud of this accomplishment—one that many Democrats joined in supporting because it was right for Colorado and was an important use of our State’s resources to protect our homes and communities.
On many other occasions, I have been joined by both Republican and Democrat colleagues in sponsoring legislation to protect the victims of crimes, to provide employment opportunities for people with disabilities, provide property tax relief for families who lost their homes to fires and floods, and even to roll back tax and fee increases imposed by previous Democrat controlled legislatures—bills to make our school children safer and more accountable to parents, bills to make government more open and transparent to us as citizens, the list goes on. The fact is that with one house or the other or both controlled by Democrats, I had to be particularly persuasive and choose the bills very carefully to either gain the enthusiastic support of some number of Democrats or even sometimes to put them in the position that they had to support our position or suffer the consequences at the next election. This is what effective conservative leadership is all about—finding ways to fight and win for conservative values whether in the majority or the minority.
And I admit it—on a handful of occasions when the Democrat Governor was willing to support an idea of mine—such as ensuring that the State compensated our citizens when it negligently started fires and burned down their homes, I accepted his support to do the right thing for our citizens—and it was the right conservative thing to ensure that government was held accountable. When the previous Democrat Governor, who was a former DA, was willing to join with me to preserve the death penalty in Colorado—I took the help and because I did, we continue to have the death penalty so that mass murderers, inmates serving life sentences, and those who murder witnesses that can jail them are subject to the death penalty.
I only regret that these Democrats only voted with me half of the time—if I could have persuaded them to vote with me more, Colorado would have freer, safer, and more prosperous communities.
So next time, remember—I actually got them to vote with us half the time and when I am your State Senator, I will do it again!