April 2, 2008

Ritter Throws Weight Behind Big Labor, Says: "Holster Your Weapons"

Yesterday we learned that Big Labor has pulled out some more big guns to blast a hole in Colorado's economy, in the form of five new anti-business ballot initiatives. Supporters of right-to-work - who are well on their way to getting their measure on the ballot - and union bosses - who appear to be calling their bluff - may be loading up for a real duel, High Noon-style.

It didn't take long for Governor Bill Ritter to come riding into town, telling everyone to "holster your weapons":
Hoping to avoid an ugly confrontation between business and labor this fall, Gov. Bill Ritter wants the two sides to withdraw their competing ballot measures, his spokesman said Tuesday.

"The governor believes the best thing for all of Colorado would be if none of these measures were on the ballot in November," said Evan Dreyer, the Democratic governor's spokesman. "The governor has had conversations with both sides and will continue trying to bring everyone together and find common ground to get to a place that's good for the entire state."
In 2007, union leaders unleashed House Bill 1072, the original bomb that prompted the right-to-work response. Now that the initiative is almost ready for the ballot, union leaders are throwing a bunch of economically harmful proposals up against the wall to see what will stick, but mainly as a giant threat to get the right-to-work supporters to back down.

Bill Ritter is taking his script from the Big Labor playbook. Step in as the third-party arbiter telling both sides to back down, when that tactic gives an advantage to the union boss side more than the worker freedom side. Besides, it's hard to see Ritter as a neutral third party after his executive order empowering union leaders to play a greater role in state government.

But if you want to know the biggest reason why Ritter felt impelled to intervene and do it quickly, political analyst John Straayer let the cat out of the bag:
He predicted that money would flow in from all across the country to back issues on both sides. Such a nasty fight could bring unwanted attention to Colorado and to Denver as it hosts the Democratic National Convention in August, Straayer said.

Political leaders are going to try to avoid that, he said.
Since Ritter helped to set the wheels in motion that got Colorado to where it's at now, I guess he really had no choice but try to step in and stop it: for his own sake, for the Democratic Party's sake, for the sake of Big Labor.

Cross posted at Mount Virtus

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