Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper didn’t help his reputation as a weak leader when he told the Rocky Mountain Energy Summit why he wouldn’t express an opinion on the Keystone XL Pipeline.
“I’ve avoided taking a position because it’s just going to piss off a lot of people in Washington that I don’t need to piss off,” he said, in comments reported by the Durango Herald, “and my opinion is not going to change anybody’s opinion there.”
The remarks came on the heels of another people-pleaser comment at a different forum, in which Hickenlooper admitted that “large donors” called his office to warn him against supporting a bill that would raise his pay and that of Colorado’s elected sheriffs.
The remarks were made in Aspen at a sheriff’s convention in June, but only released this week. At the same meeting, Hickenlooper apologized for not listening to sheriffs who were opposed to the state’s new regulations on firearms and said the new laws were passed without lawmakers having “basic facts.” He said at the time that he didn’t realize the meeting was being videotaped. (RELATED: Hickenlooper Admits Background Check Law Passed ‘Without Basic Facts’)
The governor’s statements are only the latest in a string of examples his critics have cited as evidence of his lack of leadership, saying Hickenlooper is too concerned about the impossible task of pleasing everyone on issues ranging from gun control to fracking to the death penalty.
“Whether it’s Barack Obama, Michael Bloomberg, Jared Polis, ‘large donors’ or now generally ‘people in Washington,’ there’s an endless list of people John Hickenlooper will carry water for, but what Coloradans want to know is this: Where do you stand, and will you stand up for us?” Republican gubernatorial candidate Bob Beauprez wrote in an email to the Herald.
It didn’t take long for Hickenlooper’s critics to pounce on his comments about Keystone, with one reporter tweeting that they were part of his “Brutally Honest and Awkward” campaign tour.
“[M]aybe he is just waiting for a big donor to call him and tell him what his position is,” tweeted Kelley Maher, the executive director of the conservative group Compass Colorado.
As for the remarks to the sheriffs’ association about the pay raise issue, a Hickenlooper campaign spokesman told 9News the donors only called the governor to warn him that it would look bad in an election year if he voted to increase his pay.
“He frankly discussed that his supporters woke him up to the unfortunate political reality that negative campaigns would distort these pay increases in an election year,” Eddie Stern told the Denver station. “That’s not rocket science.”
Ultimately, the bill was never introduced, but Hickenlooper said he “probably would have signed it,” according to his videotaped remarks.
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