Why I’m for Andrew Romanoff

The big issue is corporate money in the system

| Jul 27, 2010

<cutline>Romanoff at Boulder rally this month</cutline>

Romanoff at Boulder rally this month

From Guest Columnist Bob Morehouse

We Democrats are very lucky to have two highly-qualified candidates running in the primary for the US Senate seat vacated by Ken Salazar. Both candidates are young, energetic, articulate, and experienced mainstream Democrats who possess integrity and intelligence. My guess is that most of my friends are pretty evenly divided over who they are supporting and I fully respect their choices.
Bob Morehouse

Bob Morehouse

While the positions of the two candidates on the issues are not radically different, there certainly are differences. And I think there is one issue that transcends all others for me, and it is the issue of corporate money in the political system. And it is why I’m voting for Andrew Romanoff.

I know a lot of people are cynical at this point, believing that we’ll never rid our system of the influence of lobbyists and corporate cash. They point to the Supreme Court’s recent “free speech” decision that opens the floodgates of corporate advertising in elections. They see a system where incumbents will never change the rules, because it gives them huge advantages over challengers. When Illinois Senator Dick Durbin, in a candid moment, said the banks are “the most powerful lobby on Capitol Hill. And they frankly own the place,” barely an eyebrow was raised.

Sadly, it’s not just the banks who own the place. I think America is almost permanently at war somewhere in the world because of the military/industrial/intelligence lobby. I think our food supply is ruining our health because of the farm/agribusiness lobby. I think our energy policy is so short-sighted because of the oil/gas/coal/auto lobby. The same can be said of health policy and foreign policy and many other areas of government.

Renouncing corporate cash

So how does Andrew’s refusing to take corporate donations help solve this problem? By itself, it doesn’t. But it’s a much needed start. And it could catch on. It could send a signal that we’re fed up and want change. If we vote in politicians who renounce corporate cash, who don’t accept corporate donations while claiming not to be influenced by it, then the system will gradually change. And someday we’ll get genuine public financing that will be a real game changer. As it stands, candidates mouth opposition to how we finance our campaigns, and then once they’re incumbents, say there’s nothing they can do about it. Much like we’ve brought down smoking rates, not by outlawing cigarettes but by shaming people who smoke, we need to shame the taking of corporate cash.

Aren’t we kidding ourselves, really, all of us Democrats as well as Independents and Republicans, when we think our leaders can take in millions and millions and millions of dollars from banks and insurance companies and hospitals and energy companies and defense contractors, and then say it doesn’t affect their votes? Isn’t it time to recognize the system of campaign finance is broken, and until we fix the system, we will not really get genuine reform?

I’m not questioning Bennet’s integrity. I’m questioning something bigger. I think the entire system needs to change and in this race we have a chance to make a statement to that effect.

And there are other positives

We’re lucky to have two good Democrats to choose from. And they agree on more things than they disagree. Many of my friends are supporting Bennet, and I will do the same, enthusiastically, should he win the primary. But I have to admit, on a personal level I’m more inclined toward Andrew. He has a great sense of humor. He’s a great legislator. And I honestly think he has the better chance of winning in November. As Bill Clinton said recently in his endorsement, “Andrew brings to this race both an extraordinary record of public service and an extraordinary capacity to lead. I believe that those assets, as well as his deep commitment to Colorado, give him the best chance to hold this seat in November.”

But in the end, it’s on the transcendent issue of the day, the one overshadowing all others, the one where Congress is for sale, that I feel we have a chance to speak out loud and clear. Ballots are arriving in the mail now. I hope you’ll join me in supporting Andrew Romanoff.

PS: If you’re wonkily inclined, you might want to look at some of the recent votes around finance reform, given Bennet is on the Banking committee. You’ve probably seen this, but if not, check out the humorous Matt Taibbi Rolling Stone story and CSPAN video about Bennet’s (and Udall’s) votes on a consumer credit card interest rate cap in May.

The author is a longtime Boulder resident, principal in the design firm Vermilion, and active in Democratic Party politics and other political and nonprofit causes.