They can run, but they can’t hide

The Boulder Weekly — Best of Boulder 2010: Staff Picks, 4/29/10

Katie Witt’s supporters

The Longmont City Council election last fall was a lulu. Conservatives were slinging mud at the liberals, and vice versa. But the Katie Witt-Karen Benker race reached a new low for a small town trying to reconcile its rural, conservative roots with the influx of Boulderites who can’t afford to live in the People’s Republic. In this race, the conservative mud was especially dirty, and it was bankrolled by an outside group with a history of filthy political tactics and ties to campaign law violations. Supporters of conservative Witt included Western Tradition Partnership (WTP), a Montana group that had funded smear campaigns against liberal candidates in the past. Part of the group’s money went toward pamphlets calling Benker a liar, and part went to a “push poll” in which residents were asked leading questions that implied she was guilty of discrimination, among other things. WTP was also involved in a law suit against the city that attempted to shield campaign contributions from public view. The race put Longmont on the map as a prime battleground for control of the 4th Congressional District — and as a key factor in whether Colorado becomes a blue state or a red state. It also exposed the fact that unseen forces are often at work in local elections that have historically been sleepy. And it was a sad commentary on the depths to which we’ve stooped in our political discourse as a country. We’d much rather call the other side names than actually have intelligent debate about the merits of any given issue.

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