The Democratic Party’s challenger in Colorado’s 6th Congressional district is former state house Speaker Andrew Romanoff. Andrew just turned 48, and clearly is hoping to leverage his boyish good looks, intelligence and charm into an electoral victory in November. In terms of substance, however, Andrew’s campaign is sorely lacking.
Andrew’s website is a stale compilation of standard Democratic Party talking points. These Democratic ideas are targeted to moderate-left voters and are not overly controversial in and of themselves. When confronted with questions on controversial issues such as gun control, Second Amendment rights, the Keystone XL pipeline, President Obama’s job performance and others, Andrew is silent or evasive. It is my sense that he hopes to glide into office without taking a stand on any controversial issue and that once elected will work to implement the progressive agenda he supports.
Born to be Blue
Andrew was born in Washington, D.C. to a bipartisan couple – his mother is a Democrat and his father a Republican. He was raised in Columbus, OH where he attended the private Columbus Academy, graduating in 1984. He went on to attend Yale University where he earned a bachelor’s degree. According to his Wikipedia bio, he took time off to work at the Southern Poverty Law Center, where he researched the Ku Klux Klan.
Andrew then went on to earn a Master’s degree in Public Policy from Harvard University. He finally made it out West to attend the Sturm College of Law at the University of Denver. Prior to earning his second advanced degree, he worked for Congressman David Skaggs, a Colorado Democrat.
Andrew’s work experience consists of being a Senior Associate for a firm called Greenberg Baron Simon & Miller and a year as a policy analyst for Colorado Governor Roy Romer. In 2000 he was elected to the Colorado General Assembly as a state representative from district 9 in Denver. He served two terms, moving up to Minority Leader in 2004 and Speaker in 2005, serving until 2009 when he was term-limited out.
After a failed run for the United States Senate in 2010, Andrew has worked as a Senior Advisor for International Development Enterprises and as an instructor in government for the University of Colorado at Denver, Community College of Denver, Metropolitan State College of Denver, and Red Rocks Community College.
To summarize the man’s life in one paragraph: he was clearly born to a family who was able to put him through a private school, two top tier Ivy League universities, and the top-notch school of law here at DU. His work experience consists almost entirely of teaching, government service and related activities. Andrew certainly has an impressive resume. Based on his education, experiences, resume and political party I suspect that he is a firm believer in maximal, activist government at all levels.
Boilerplate Democratic Themes
Andrew’s website is attractive and well-done, with the exception that I have to look at it on my iPad because my PC’s virus software triggers a warning. (Perhaps the warning should be applied to his campaign as well.)
Under “Issues”, Romanoff lists eleven items:
- Defending Our Nation
- Honoring Our Veterans
- Growing Our Economy
- Restoring Fiscal Responsibility
- Creating World-Class Schools
- Curbing the Cost of Health Care
- Protecting Our Environment
- Reforming Our Immigration System
- Supporting Our Seniors
- Respecting the Rights of Women
- Promoting Equality For All
These are all important issues, to be sure. However in reading through each issue summary, it is apparent that his positions mostly consist of platitudes and standard Democratic talking points. In some of the Issue pages he lists his accomplishments as speaker and makes a handful of specific policy suggestions.
Notably absent from all of his issue discussions is any mention of the Second Amendment and gun control, the issue that cost three Democrat state senators their jobs because of their gun control votes in 2013. Gun control is a hot-button issue in Colorado, and Romanoff’s failure to be transparent on whether he would vote for a new federal “assault weapons” ban or tell voters which of Colorado’s new gun laws he would have supported if he had been part of the state legislature, especially the highly unpopular ban on magazines capable of holding more than 15 cartridges, is a failure of leadership and conscience.
The district Andrew hopes to represent is home to the Aurora Century 16 theater, site of the July 2012 mass shooting that helped precipitate the great Gun Control Battle of 2013 in the Colorado legislature. Colorado is the western front in the battle over the Second Amendment and gun rights, and it is inconceivable that a candidate for Congress in this district does not believe this issue warrants a discussion on his website.
The only rational conclusion voters can reach from Andrew’s silence on gun control is that he is strongly against the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms, and as a member of Congress would support further restrictions on 2A rights including magazine bans, “assault weapons” bans, strict liability, and others. His ratings from gun-rights groups on Project Vote Smart are all “F”s, so I have deep concerns about his commitment to supporting the Second Amendment. He probably hopes his silence will not alarm gun rights supporters who lean Democratic, and he knows right-leaning voters will most likely vote for his opponent anyway.
Government is Always the Answer
In reading through the rest of the Issues pages on his website, it is clear that Andrew mostly supports activist government to accomplish all of the policy goals he supports. For example, under “Growing Our Economy”, he has thirteen policy suggestions. Every single one is a general statement (“Expand opportunities for vocational rehabilitation”), a “feel-good” idea (“Bring the cost of higher education within reach of more families”), a suggestion for more government involvement (“Promote public-private partnerships…”) or something that is already the law (“Ensure equal pay for equal work”).
His discussion of “Curbing the Cost of Health Care” calls for “improving” the Affordable Care Act. His policy suggestions in this area suggest a more activist government role. He attacks the rollout of the ACA while defending the law itself, a position he enjoys as the result of his failure to win a senate seat in 2010. Today, Romanoff can sit back and play the wise mandarin and try to avoid association with President Obama, who is highly unpopular and a drag on other Democrat candidates in purple and red states. We all know Romanoff is a good Democrat and would have voted for the ACA “as is” in-line with his party elders if he was in the position to do so. The ACA is deeply unpopular with a majority of Americans, and the President is so scared of the employer mandate’s effects on Democrats in the coming election it has been deferred until next year.
His proposals for “Protecting Our Environment” read like standard Democratic talking points: “Spur large-scale solar projects, biomass development, and geothermal research”, “Bring wind power to schools”, “Help low-income families weatherize their homes and pay their heating bills.”, “Accelerate the research and development of alternative energy sources and energy-efficient technology”, and others.
While some of these goals may be intrinsically worthy, Andrew does not seem to envision entrepreneurial innovation or market-based capitalistic solutions to any of them. Market-based solutions are sustainable in contrast to government mandated and funded operations which are subject to the whims of politics. Romanoff also fails to address how all these ideas will be funded and paid for. The answer to this is obvious but unstated: finding more tax revenues or increasing the already staggering federal debt. This section indicates that Andrew supports the anthropogenic climate change agenda and would work to support the statist goals of that agenda.
Under “Supporting Our Seniors”, Romanoff pledges to fight Social Security privatization. He claims Social Security and Medicare to be “…two of our nation’s most effective programs…” and wants to pursue “common-sense solutions to strengthen Medicare”. He glosses over the actuarial facts that Social Security and Medicare are “funded” by promissory notes from the US Treasury, that these programs are “pay as you go” and ever larger numbers of beneficiaries are looming while payers into the system decline. The unfunded liabilities of the United States government are a burden on future generations that Romanoff does not acknowledge anywhere.
Balanced Budgets are Required by Colorado Law
One of Andrew’s more misleading campaign themes is his “balanced budget” topic. In this discussion, he takes credit for balancing the Colorado state budgets during the years he was Speaker, implying that it was due to his leadership. This is misleading and dishonest because Colorado law requires a balanced budget.
I find it highly unlikely that a candidate as progressive as Andrew would be able to effectively work with Republicans in Congress – especially Budget Committee chairman Paul Ryan – to achieve this goal. Andrew’s policy goals all call for increased governmental involvement in peoples’ lives and the economy, yet the government is teetering toward bankruptcy. Romanoff’s chances of achieving balanced budgets at the federal level are slim to none, yet by playing this campaign theme he gets to pretend he is a fiscally responsible.
Playing the “War on Women” Campaign Theme
Unlike his silence on the Second Amendment, Romanoff is openly playing the fake “War on Women” campaign theme that has worked so well for Democrats in the past few election cycles. On the Issues page titled “Respecting the Rights of Women” Andrew declares that he supports reproductive freedom and preventing discrimination against women in health insurance coverage (even though women use more health care services than men). He also says he supports “Equal Pay for Equal Work”.
I was surprised to see that Romanoff acknowledges that the Equal Pay Act has been the law since 1963 because his Twitter conversations seem to indicate a complete ignorance of the topic. He says that women have “lost ground” because they are only paid 77 cents on the dollar compared to men. This is disingenuous and dishonest, because it is comparing the pay of male lawyers to female librarians, and the study his number is based on has been thoroughly debunked. There are several reasons why women are paid differently from men for different types of work, but equal pay for equal work is the law of the land.
Romanoff deplores the fact that the House “won’t even allow a vote” on the Paycheck Fairness Act, completely glossing over the fact that the PFA is too extreme for even the Democratic controlled Senate to pass. The PFA is nothing more than a trial lawyer enrichment act, and would create more distortions, disincentives and perverse incentives in labor markets on top of those created by the ACA.
I call upon Andrew Romanoff to acknowledge the facts behind these issues and quit promoting this theme. It is a lie.
Andrew Is Too Extreme For Colorado
Andrew is rated as one of the most liberal (i.e. “progressive”) lawmakers by CrowdPac, with a rating of 9.0 out of 10.0. He is rated at 100% by several left leaning groups including NARAL and many others.
Based on my research, I believe Andrew to be an intelligent, very well-educated, decent man. I actually like some things about him – he’s a dog-lover, lives frugally, doesn’t drink or do drugs. However, it is precisely his intelligence and education that concern me. By all indications, he feels that he is smarter and better educated than his constituents, thus he knows what is best for them, and activist government is how that “best” is to be achieved. I have read that Andrew feels that he is entitled to public office and based on his temper tantrums upon losing the senatorial appointment to Michael Bennett in 2010, I suspect this is true.
I have always respected the Marine Corps service to our country of Andrew’s opponent Mike Coffman. While I don’t agree with Coffman on some issues and his support of the Second Amendment seems somewhat tepid to me, I think that of the two, I would vote for Coffman. Romanoff is too extreme – too progressive – for the district and the state he hopes to represent.
By Richard D. Turnquist
September 14, 2014
Questions for Andrew Romanoff
- Do you support limiting gun magazine sizes? What is the maximum number of rounds a civilian magazine should be able to hold?
- Do you feel the police have become too militarized? Do you feel the Aurora Police Department is overly militarized?
- Do you support a ban on modern sporting rifles, aka “assault weapons”?
- Do you support increasing taxes on individuals across all income groups as one means of reducing the federal tax burden?
- Do you support increasing taxes on individuals earning over $250,000 per year?
- Which federal programs, if any, should be cut to help reduce federal budget deficits and/or reduce the income tax burden?
- Between conception and birth, at what point does a child’s life become worth saving?
- What role do you believe government has in creating high-paying jobs in the United States?
- Do you support local control over regulating oil and gas production including hydraulic fracturing to produce oil and natural gas?
- Do you support allowing energy companies to develop energy reserves on lands owned by the federal government?
- If the Affordable Care Act were to be repealed, how would you address the most critical problems of the US healthcare delivery system?