As we head into the next stage of the Great Colorado Fracking Wars, one thing is becoming increasingly clear: Jared Polis has backed himself into a corner — and there may be no way out.
Even Polis seems to realize this. He’s suddenly very quiet. When asked about taking the initiatives to the polls, he says things like there still might be another way to get this done. Certainly the stakes have gotten really high — and the lineup of possible losers is as long as Dick Monfort’s email list.
Polis is an ambitious guy who hit upon an interesting idea — he would use his money (he always uses his money) to force all the parties in the fracking debate to the table, whereupon they’d work out a compromise (or else), and he’d be the hero or maybe the anti-hero, which, to Polis, is much the same thing.
The or-else, of course, would be putting fracking on the ballot, backed by Polis’ money, turning the issue into a $60 million smackdown, of which the only thing you could safely predict was that someone would, in fact, get smacked.
What could go wrong?
Well, the or-else could fail, and the chance for a special legislative session would die. The oil companies, who had to compromise, wouldn’t. The Republicans, who never figured to compromise, wouldn’t. And many Democrats, who would normally be lining up with the environmentalists, would be afraid that doing so could be a disaster for them. (The Democrats may be wrong on that. But, interestingly, there’s at least one group that agrees with them: Colorado Republicans).
And if the initiatives lose and the top Democrats lose, Polis could be remembered as the Democrat who lost Colorado, which can’t be a good look for a guy who has ambition for a Democratic leadership position in the House. I’d be looking for an off ramp, too.
So, here’s where we are.