By Jerry Kopel
You read it in this column 18 months age, when I wrote that Wayne Allard would not run for re-election to the U.S. Senate in 2008.
I based that prediction on past joint legislative service when he served in the state Senate and I served in the House. We usually didn't vote the same way, but I could count on his keeping his word. However his hesitation these past few months to honor his pledge was a concern.
Allard signed a voluntary pledge which is part of the constitution and passed by the voters in effect for the 2002 election. It was a pledge not to run for a third term. Every other U.S. Senate candidate in Colorado also signed the pledge, except for Democrat Tom Strickland.
The pledge reads: "Signed declaration to limit service to no more than two terms". It is placed by the Secretary of State on all government-sponsored voter education matters and on the ballot under the candidate's name.
There have been 34 U.S. Senators from Colorado, if you include Horace Tabor's thirty day tenure at the end of Henry Teller's first term as one of the 34.
Teller served five terms. Gordon Allott and Edwin Johnson served three full terms. No other senator from Colorado has served 18 years or more.
The longest serving U.S. Senator from Colorado, Henry Teller, was our only U.S. Senator to be approved by three different political parties: Republican, Silver Republican, and Democratic. He was one of the first two U.S. Senators sent to Washington by our state legislature in 1876. Except for a two year stint as the Secretary of the Interior in President Chester Arthur's cabinet, he served in the Senate until 1909, the last term as a Democrat.
From 1876 through 1912, U.S. Senators were "elected" by the state legislature.
Edwin C. Johnson, a Democrat known as "Big Ed" served as governor two two-year terms, 1933 through 1936. He entered the U.S. Senate in 1937 and served three terms until 1955, then ran again for governor and served from 1955 through 1957. I was a law student working as an assistant state archivest, and we sometimes walked together to the state capitol. He had no bodyguard.
Gordon Allott, a Republican, served three terms in the U.S. Senate from 1955 to 1973. He tried for a fourth term, but was defeated by Democrat Floyd Haskell.
One senator served one full term and partially in two other terms. Alva Adams, a Democrat, served part of a term from 1925-26, then served a full term from 1933 through 1938, and then part of as third term from 1939 through 1941 when he died. Replacing him was Eugene Millikin, a Republican who served for the last three years and who was then elected U.S. Senator twice, 1945-1967.
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The Electoral Collage is back in the news. To confess early, I supported Amendment 36 on the statewide ballot in 2004 which would have given Colorado's electoral votes in proportion to the percentage of votes cast by the electorate. There were 632,911 Coloradoans who agreed with me. Unfortunately, 1,207,189 did not.
This year, Sen. Ken Gordon has proposed SB 146. We would adopt a multi-state agreement to allow all electoral votes to be cast by the joining states, to be cast for the national winner of the presidential popular vote, but the states involved have to together possess the majority of the electoral vote.
His bill passed the Senate on a party-line vote and will likely pass the House the same way and be signed or become law without signature by Governor Ritter.
Based on decades of past politics, I anticipate Republicans will get a repeal on the ballot in 2008 as an initiative, since the bill has a safety clause and could not be challenged in the 90 day period following passage.
SB 146 would not likely result in a major change for some years to come, since a majority of the electoral college has to be on board, but a ballot challenge would appeal to the Doug Bruce crowd.
Colorado's electoral votes have made news in the past. As part of the "deal" conferring statehood, supporters of statehood agreed to have the 1876 expected Republican legislature pick the three electors the state was entitled to. The end result? Rutherford Hayes (R) was elected president by one electoral vote.
The "schedule" setting out what happens prior to the legislature drafting and passing laws, states in Section 20 "The general assembly shall provide that after the year 1876, the electoral collage shall be chosen by a vote of the people".
The language in CRS 1-4-305 regarding compensation and mileage for electors has not been changed since the original law passed in 1876-77. Each elector receives $5 in compensation and 15 cents per miles traveled for the round trip. "The controller shall audit the amount and draw a warrant for the same." While $5 was a lot in 1876, it might buy a cup of coffee in 2008. It is time to change this statute.
And what if, in 2008, Obama (D) and McCain (R) tie for the general vote? It is unlikely in elections, but it does happen, and often the result is decided by a toss of a coin. And that is what happens for Colorado's presidential electors.
Under CRS 1-11-101, the secretary of state chooses "by lot" which set of electors win. "Lot" is defined in the dictionary as "one of a set of objects used to secure a chance decision in selection of officials..." No matter who wins, the loser is going to yell "foul".
I assume the political party winner will respond "thanks a lot".
(Jerry Kopel served 22 years in the Colorado House.)
Copyright 2015 Jerry Kopel & David Kopel