Rio Grande Foundation President Weighs in on Misleading Column in ABQ Journal

A few weeks ago I blogged a Washington Post story on the supposed trend of voters in Western states moving from the Republican Party to the Democratic Party. In a recent column for the Albuquerque Journal, recently added columnist Ned Farquhar made the same point and cited Colorado’s Taxpayers’ Bill of Rights as an important reason for Colorado’s shift from red to blue.
Unfortunately, Farquhar ascribes too much credit to the Republican Party for its role in adopting TABOR in Colorado and he completely fails to account for the fact that Governor Owens led the charge on behalf of weakening the spending limit in 2005. As I point out in a letter to the editor responding to Farquhar’s column that appeared in today’s Albuquerque Journal, it was not Republicans’ “rigid ideology” that cost them votes. Perhaps it was the other way around?
Text of the letter appears below:
I ENJOYED reading Ned Farquhar’s commentary outlining why he believes the Republican Party is losing the West, but many of his facts are simply wrong and in other cases he ascribes trend status to mere political fluctuations.
His focus on Colorado is particularly telling. He argues that Republicans “painted themselves into an ideological corner” and cites that state’s spending limit known as the Taxpayers’ Bill of Rights. What he fails to mention is that voters, not Republicans or Democrats, adopted the law in 1992.
And, while voters did suspend part of the law for five years starting in 2005, Colorado voters— unlike New Mexicans— have the final say on any and all tax increases at both the state and local level.
Specifically regarding the politics of the situation, his subsequent mention of then-Gov. Bill Owens, a Republican, is interesting. Owens actually led the campaign on behalf of the referendum that ultimately suspended a portion of Colorado’s spending limit. The Republicans did indeed lose Colorado, but it was hardly the result of their supposedly rigid ideology.
Ultimately, elected officials should try to put political calculations aside to do what is best for their states. Cutting taxes and restraining government have been shown to work everywhere they’ve been tried. Western politicians have historically heeded this, and that is why our states are among the fastest-growing in the nation.
President, Rio Grande Foundation, Albuquerque