Mike Rosen, Scott Gessler, 4/02/2012

Station: 850 KOA

Show: Mike Rosen

Guest: Gessler

Link: http://www.850koa.com/cc-common/podcast/single_page.html?more_page=1&podcast=shows_rosen&selected_podcast=Rosen04-02-12-09AM_1333383455_6084.mp3

Date: 4/02/2012

Topics: ASSET Bill, Inactive Voter Bill, Rick Palacio, Secretary of State Scott Gessler, Petition, Recall

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ROSEN:  We’re going to start off this hour talking with Colorado Secretary of State Scott Gessler.  If you’ve been reading your Denver Post last week, The Denver Post on both Thursday and Friday had front page stories in the Denver and the West section talking about efforts by Democrats to get rid of Secretary of State Scott Gessler, either by impeachment, by a recall effort such as the one that unionists and Democrats are waging against Scott Walker, the Governor of Wisconsin.  And finally, The Denver Post had a house editorial on Saturday.  Now, the first two stories that I mentioned were in the news pages of The Denver Post, which of course lean left.  The opinion pages of The Denver Post also lean left, but there is enough conservative influence such that every now and then they actually get something right.  And in this house editorial in The Denver Post on Saturday, they’re saying that the Dems are going too far in their talk of recalling Republican Secretary of State Scott Gessler over what amounts to as a policy dispute.  We’ve got Scott
on the line with us now.  Scott, thanks for joining us this morning,.

GESSLER:  Well, thanks for having me this morning.

ROSEN:  Now, explain if it’s anything more complicated … besides, the obvious political agenda and we’ll get to that a little later, but apparently you testified before a legislative committee against this bill that had passed the Colorado senate which has a majority of Democrats, and has failed in the House which has a majority of Republicans. And this had to do with moving inactive voters to a separate list regarding ballots that would be mailed to them, as opposed to active voters.  Is that about it?

GESSLER:  That’s right.  Right now, under Colorado law, if you want to get a ballot in the mail, you either have be a continual active voter, or you have to ask for the ballot – one of the two.  This would have sort of put a lot of people, or a lot of names I should say, on the inactive voter rolls and automatically started sending them ballots. And the problem with that is, we… Colorado experimented with that for a while, for about a year.  Over the last seventeen years, they experimented with it one year on an off-year election.  Lots of bounce backs, lots of signatures that don’t match of the actual ballots that came in.  So some real red flags there.  I thought we ought to stick with the framework we have in place now. It’s worked well.  We shouldn’t do radical surgery just before a presidential election.   And because I took such a position, the Democrats went bonkers and became completely uncorked and now they want to recall me, I guess.

ROSEN:  When was the last time there was a recall effort at a Secretary of State in Colorado?

GESSLER:  I don’t know if there’s ever been one.

ROSEN:  I don’t know if I’m aware of any, either.  A recall is a pretty severe response to somebody’s behavior.  Normally, it has to do with malfeasance, with corruption.  This is strictly a disagreement over a bill.

GESSLER:  That’s right.  It’s a policy dispute.  And, you know, if the Democrats go forward with this, I think that it will be a good thing, because they’re wrong on the merits.  They’re wrong on the facts, and I think when Coloradans pay attention to this stuff, they agree with my position—that we need to have voter integrity here in the state, as well as accessibility.  I mean, you’ve got to balance both of them.

ROSEN:  In The Denver Post’s house editorial on Saturday, after they had given prominent attention to two front page Denver and the West stories on Thursday and Friday, they say, “A recall effort should be reserved for corruption, incompetence, and official misconduct; not disagreements, no matter how vehement, about policy matters.  And prior to that they had ticked of a number of things that The Denver Post editorial board had disagreed with you about, before this one, on matters of policy.  And then it says, “It was clear the Democrats were aggravated, incensed even, after the testimony of Gessler, a Republican, against the inactive voter bill.  A House committee killed the bill Wednesday, even after it had previously passed in the senate.”

[ …]

GESSLER:  Yeah, this is a pretty common occurrence at the capital.

ROSEN:  Then it says, (I love this), “An outraged Rick Palacio, the state Democratic Party Chairman, said Gessler had ‘once again prioritized his partisan agenda above the rights of Coloradoans to vote.’  This is the Democratic Party Chairman – criticizing someone for partisanship?  By the very definition of the Post, Rick Palacio is partisan.  Of course he is.  There’s a lot of partisanship in politics, and while you represent the interests of the entire state, you ran for office as a Republican.  There is no secret there.

GESSLER:  That’s true, and a conservative Republican.  You know what I found really interesting?  When we were sort of in this battle at the legislature, I mean, I viewed it very much as a policy disagreement.  And, you know, you can have different views on the policy.  I think that the position they were trying to advocate was completely wrong.  But when you look at how uncorked he became, and was just all sort of red faced and angry, it makes me wonder if there was something in there that the Democrats were using to try and game the system.  And remember, this is the same framework that we’ve had for seventeen years, now, in Colorado.  And then to sort of trot out these stale claims of disenfranchisement, as if there are thousands of people in Colorado now being disenfranchised, which is simply not the case.  So, it seems to me that they were really invested in making this change, trying to game the system. And it was maybe more than just a policy dispute for them.

ROSEN:  Well, how’s this for a possibility?  And this was in Friday’s news story in The Denver Post.  They quoted several people on various sides of this, one of whom was Ken Bickers, a professor and chairman of the Political Science Department at the University of Colorado.  And among other things, he speculated, Bickers did, that Democrats may have an ulterior motive in creating this flap and talking about impeaching the Secretary of State, or recalling him in election.  They “may have an ulterior motive: creating ‘a storyline’ to appeal to particular group of voters.  Most likely that’s Latinos, who are among those voters Democrats say will be disproportionately affected Gessler’s efforts, and a voting bloc that will be key to President Obama’s winning re-election this fall.”  Said Bickers, “To me it’s a sign that they think they [the Democrats] have a weakness in the presidential election” and this is nothing more than a campaign tactic.

GESSLER:  Well, it’s good that we’ve got some good professors at University of Colorado, because now and then they nail it.  And I think that’s absolutely correct as to what is going on.

ROSEN:  There are some other bills in the legislature, like this ASSET (as it’s called) bill that would provide deep discounts in college tuition for illegal aliens who have gone to high school in Colorado.  Whatever the merits or demerits of this bill, it’s also transparently part of the strategy to court Latino voters.

GESSLER:  Yeah, I think one of the challenges that the Democrats have is Latino voters, in my experience and sense is that, I mean, they’re fundamentally conservative folks. I mean, they’re oftentimes very socially conservative. They’re people who put their heads down and work hard and aren’t looking for government handouts. And the Democrats’ stock and trade is government handouts. So they sort of have to rile ‘em up as a way to try and get their votes.”

ROSEN:  All right.  So, Scott, where does this go from here?

GESSLER:  Well, I think what’s happening now is that there have been all these claims for a recall. They…, it’s really hard to do a recall, and I doubt they’re going to do one.  So they’re trying to save face.  And what the Democrats have done now is they’ve got this online petition that’s… I’ve seen it.  It’s sort of misleading as to what it’s all about.  But they’re trying to rile people up and get signatures so that they can at least do something.  Because now that they’ve become so red-faced and angry, they have to do something. And they probably don’t have the capability or the ability to do a recall.  And even if we were in a recall situation, I think they would lose solidly. So now what they’re trying to do is an online petition, and try and claim victory and run away from this issue as fast as they can.

ROSEN:  Okay, Scott.  Thanks for being with us.  We’ll check with you again if this thing continues to kick around.

GESSLER:  Great!  Well, thanks for having me.