You may have more than trick-or-treaters ringing your doorbell this week, as Amendment 66 campaigners hit the streets for one last push leading up to Election Day next Tuesday.
The Yes on 66 campaign plans “Canvass for Kids” days Saturday in Aurora, Boulder, Carbondale, Denver, Durango, Fort Collins, Greeley, Jeffco and Montrose. (Get more information here.) The campaign did a similar multi-community canvassing effort on Oct. 12, the weekend before county clerks started sending ballots out to 3.09 million voters.
A lot of campaign chatter has been taking place online, with Tweets and counter-Tweets and even a Halloween video posted by GOP politician Tom Tancredo that pokes fun at Gov. John Hickenlooper and other A66 supporters.
And a lot of campaign activity in the last 10 days has centered on endorsements.
Yes on 66 operatives have trotted out Hispanic leaders, health care executives and former Colorado teachers of the year to support of the amendment, which would raise state income-tax rates to generate $950 million in the first year for P-12 education. (Read what the teachers of the year said here.) The campaign also put out news releases listing higher education leaders and newspaper editorial pages supporting the measure.
A few days earlier, A66 opponents touted the fact that the business group Colorado Concern had decided to oppose the measure. That organization, composed of corporate and institutional CEOs, had officially been on the fence for months but was seen as leaning against. The group said it went into opposition because of a possible lawsuit challenging the state’s teacher evaluation law by the Colorado Education Association. (Get the details from our partners at the Denver Business Journal.)
A66 backers have been touting their own business support. In a Monday news release about the latest round of campaign contributions, the Yes on 66 crew touted “contributions … from some of Colorado’s strongest business voices, including Liberty Global, Oakwood Homes CEO Pat Hamill, Former Level 3 CEO Jim Crowe, and Vision Ridge Partners founder Reuben Munger and his wife Mindy.”
The business community has been split on A66, with some executives opposed or neutral because the measure would change Colorado’s flat income tax system to a two-tiered structure. (Another recent DBJ article analyzes the three-way split division among business leaders.)
The nation’s leading business newspaper, The Wall Street Journal, editorialized strongly against A66 last week, something that prompted plenty of Tweets by local A66 critics.
Supporters got their own chance to Tweet this week after New York Times columnist Frank Bruni wrote a warm endorsement of the amendment.
Another New Yorker, outgoing Mayor Michael Bloomberg donated $1.05 million to the Yes on 66 campaign, prompting plenty of conservative harrumphing on social media.
A66 critics also have been using the Internet to beat up on Hickenlooper, who’s expected to run for reelection next year.
Independence Institute chief Jon Caldara, who’s become the de facto leader of the anti-A66 forces, wrote in a recent post, “He has been missing in action when it comes to taking the lead in selling it. Why? Your guess is as good as mine.”
Former congressman Tancredo, one of several GOP gubernatorial hopefuls, lampooned Hickenlooper and others in an animated video that terms A66 “Hickenlooper’s Monster.” (Get details and video link in this Huffington Post story.)
The Republican attacks on the governor hit him for his A66 support (but supposed inaction) and also for Democratic gun-control laws passed earlier this year and for his death-sentence reprieve of convicted killer Nathan Dunlop.
For his part, Hickenlooper sent an email to campaign supporters last week, urging votes for A66.
“Education is one of the most important investments we can make in our kids and our state. In Colorado, every kid deserves a great education, from at-risk students to gifted and talented students, regardless of whether they’re from the Eastern Plains, the Western Slope or the Front Range, from the inner city or from a suburban neighborhood.
“That’s why a broad coalition of leaders from the business and education communities is supporting Amendment 66.
“I’m voting yes (and will turn in my ballot!) by Nov. 5. Friends, please join us in committing to Colorado’s kids,” the governor wrote.
Hickenlooper also boosted A66 in recent remarks at banquets for the Denver Scholarship Foundation and the Mapleton Education Foundation.
DPS Superintendent Tom Boasberg also waded into the A66 discussion this week with an email to district parents, and he got his hand slapped by Denver Post editorial page editor Vincent Carroll, who thought Boasberg had crossed the legal line on campaign activity by school districts and officials.
Basically, districts aren’t supposed to use public resources to advocate in elections. School boards are allowed to pass resolutions supporting or opposing ballot issues. Several boards have supported A66; one at least – Douglas County – opposes it. Many boards, sensitive to community divisions about tax increases, have remained neutral.
Lots of school administrators support A66 as individuals. For example, Superintendent George Welsh of Center, just named superintendent of the year by the Colorado Association of School Executives, has pumped out several Tweets supporting the amendment in the last few days.