DENVER — Speakers at a Friday afternoon campaign rally for this fall’s budget-stabilization referendums asserted the measures are backed by a broad-based, bipartisan coalition of Colorado organizations and individuals — with an emphasis on “bipartisan.”
Republican Gov. Bill Owens said it “isn’t factual” when GOP opponents of Referendums C and D argue that the disagreements over those ballot issues are — or should be — “a Democrat versus Republican campaign.”
“When we brought this issue to the Legislature, 40 percent of the Republicans in the Legislature supported Referendums C and D,” Owens told reporters covering a rally outside Children’s Hospital attended by representatives of many of the groups that have endorsed those measures.
“Obviously, my party has a little bit more of a challenge on this issue than our friends in the other party,” said Owens, who negotiated the compromise with Democratic leaders earlier this year that led to advancing the measures to the Nov. 1 ballot.
“But obviously, Republicans care about the future of Colorado, and I’m convinced that by the time we’ve had a chance to debate this issue, we’re going to get a majority of Republican support along with a strong majority of Coloradans behind Referendums C and D,” Owens predicted.
Not all of Owens’ fellow party members agree with him, however. Just this past week, for example, the Larimer County Republican Executive Committee voted to oppose the measures.
And on Wednesday, Berthoud GOP Rep. Kevin Lundberg argued during a Republican Lunch Club meeting in Fort Collins that Referendum C “is not consistent with Republican Party principles,” including the party’s “key foundational premise” of limited government.
Referendum C asks voters to allow the state to keep and spend a projected $3.7 billion it will collect over the next five years that will otherwise have to be refunded to Coloradans if the measure is defeated.
Referendum D, a companion ballot proposal, asks voters’ permission to issue up to nearly $2.1 billion in bonds to finance a variety of transportation, school and college improvements and to pay a state police and firefighters’ pension obligation.
As far as any party-line splits over those measures, Owens on Friday noted the presence at the rally of such Republicans as Hank Brown, former U.S. senator and current University of Colorado president; former state GOP chairman Don Bain; and current state Sens. Norma Anderson of Lakewood and Nancy Spence of Centennial.
The governor said Republicans, Democrats, liberals, conservatives and business and labor organizations have come together to back the fiscal fixes because “We love Colorado and we’re not going to let them take it away from us.”
Prominent Democrats also were at the rally, which supporters said marked their campaign’s formal kickoff in the Denver area, including: Colorado House Speaker Andrew Romanoff of Denver; state Senate President Joan Fitz-Gerald of Jefferson County; and Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper.
Romanoff said that when he was growing up, his mother was a social worker and a Democrat, and his father was a prosecutor and a Republican.
“It is not a combination that I generally recommend,” Romanoff joked. “They got divorced.”
Romanoff added, however, that his parents’ political differences “really taught me and my sister the importance of compromise.
“And one of the things that I’m proudest of about this terrific campaign for C and D is the broad, bipartisan support that we’ve built around the state,” Romanoff said, adding that it is “probably the broadest and the best, the most bipartisan coalition in Colorado’s political history.”
John Fryar can be reached by e-mail at