The Presidential Election — 2008

Riding High in Colorado (washingtonpost.com)
Colorado has a wonderful state government. They enacted a Taxpayers Bill Of Rights (TABOR) that limits the growth of government to growth in the size of the private sector. All tax increases have to be approved by voter referendum.

I don’t know how much credit Governor Owens should get for this since it was enacted well before he entered office, but I’ve seen him a couple of times and he seems like a smart guy. The rating by the Cato Institute is a big plus, but Jeb Bush got a similar rating. It would be quite interesting to see Jeb Bush running in 2008.

Today it is just 51 months until the Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire primary — the 2008 caucuses and primary — and some Republicans are looking to the eastern slope of the Rocky Mountains for a possible candidate to become the 44th president.

Owens, who in 1998 became the first Republican elected governor here since 1970, is in his second and final — he is term-limited — four-year term. In 1998 he barely won, 49 percent to 48 percent. In 2002 he won a 63-34 landslide. He is 52 and looks younger. He has no political plans. He has three children, hence an incentive to return to the private sector. But his record between 1998 and 2004 will, in 2005, lure many Republicans to his door, knowing that the National Review calls Owens the nation’s best governor.

His is an economically vibrant and largely urbanized state. Half of all Coloradans live in Denver’s metropolitan area; 80 percent live in the Front Range corridor from Boulder to Pueblo. Thanks partly to the flight of high-tech workers from misgoverned California, Colorado has the nation’s highest per capita concentration of such workers. It ranks first among the states in percentage of college graduates, third in venture capital per capita and eighth in per capita income (up from 18th in 1990).

Today most state governments have budget crises. Colorado’s difficulties are much milder than most. One year ago the Washington-based Cato Institute, a free-market think tank, graded all 50 governors. Owens was one of just two governors — the other was Florida’s Jeb Bush — to receive an A.

Since 1992 a voter referendum has been required to raise Colorado’s taxes. That has concentrated political minds on maintaining a business-friendly environment to generate revenue. The state’s tax climate has facilitated what has been decorously called “entrepreneurial federalism,” poaching businesses from states less hospitable to enterprise.

Hillary! might just have some competition.

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