Elway, Webb, Suthers and others help “Raise the Bar”

The Colorado Farm Bueau hand painted campaign signs to promote Amendment 71, which makes it harder to amend the state constitution. (Brophy photo)
The Colorado Farm Bueau hand-painted campaign signs to promote Amendment 71, which makes it harder to amend the state constitution. (Brophy photo)

With the tidal wave of press calls over, I finally have time to digest the election results, and I’m stunned by the map of which counties supported the effort to make it harder to amend the constitution.

In case you weren’t aware, the election results that are posted on the Colorado Secretary of State web site includes maps for each candidate and issue to show how they fared on a county-by-county basis.

Amendment 71, or Raise the Bar as it was called, passed 56 percent to 44 percent. But I never knew until I clicked on the map late Wednesday that it passed in 60 of Colorado’s 64 counties. Only voters in  Boulder, Denver, Gilpin and San Miguel opposed it, and Gilpin’s vote was close.

Former state Sen. Greg Brophy, a Yuma Wray* Republican, teamed up with Summit County Commissioner Dan Gibbs, a Democrat, to put the measure on the ballot. They were joined by high-profile names on both sides of the aisle, including former Denver Mayor Wellington Webb and Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers, Gov. John Hickenlooper and his predecessors, and others. The Farm Bureau put up signs in rural Colorado.

“And having John Elway didn’t hurt,” Brophy said, referring to Denver Bronco’ general manager and former Super Bowl quarterback. (For the record, the election was before the Kansas City Chiefs game.)

Under Amendment 71, the standard for passing a constitutional  amendment increases from a simple majority to 55 percent. In addition, a percentage of the signatures to put the measure on the ballot must be gathered in all 35 state Senate districts.

Secretary of State Wayne Williams on Wednesday discussed the impact of Amendment 71 Wednesday when he addressed the Colorado Counties Inc. winter conference.

Jon Caldara, president of the Independence Institute, who campaigned against the measure, said he was surprised to see how many counties supported it.

Former state Sen. Greg Brophy stumps for Amendment 71 at an event this fall. (SOS photo)
Former state Sen. Greg Brophy stumps for Amendment 71 at an event this fall. (SOS photo)

“But then it had $5 million behind it and John Elway,” he said.

Brophy said the campaign took advantage of the fact that media markets in Colorado Springs-Pueblo and Mesa County are “really inexpensive” compared to the Denver-Boulder market and saturated their airwaves with ads.

“Our plan all along was to run up the score in the Mesa and El Paso County markets and in rural Colorado and try to break even in the metro area, and that’s what we did,” he said.

Another campaign, a measure to increase tobacco taxes, helped reinforce the message that it should be tougher to try to amend the constitution, Brophy said. That’s because the ads opposing Amendment 72 stressed that the issue didn’t belong in the constitution. One spot featured an old blue pickup with hay bales in the bed and, for the win, a dog sitting next to the driver in the cab.

Amendment 72 failed, with 53 percent of Coloradans opposed and 47 percent in favor.  (Again, the map is interesting.)

“I got asked over and over, ‘Are you Amendment 71 or Amendment 72?'” Brophy said. “The notion that it should be harder to amend the constitution resonated.”

* I’m so sorry I defamed you, Sen. Brophy.