Rick Perry's 2012 Swing State Problem

Rick Perry, Texas governor, will feel out of place in Colorado.

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DENVER, COLO.— On Friday, Rick Perry will be in Denver speaking to the Western Conservative Summit. This will be yet another platform for everybody’s favorite political parlor game, “When will Rick Perry save the Republicans?”

But there are a few things Rick Perry needs to know about Colorado before he decides to run for president.

First, we like clean air. The reason we live here—and part of the reason Colorado has the lowest obesity rate in the nation—is because we live much of our lives outdoors. Meanwhile, Rick Perry spends a lot of time railing against clean air regulations and wasting taxpayer dollars suing the EPA, despite the serious health problems cause by pollution in Texas.

We don’t believe in sucking the state dry. Literally. Thirty states were under a dangerous heat advisory last week, in part because of the drought in Texas. That Texas drought is largely man-made – too much demand thanks to developers and all that cheap housing Perry likes to brag about, and too little conservation. You might want to ask Sen. John McCain what happens when you get crosswise with Colorado about water conservation.

[See a collection of political cartoons on 2012 GOP hopefuls.]

We think government should stay out of our bedroom. And as a corollary, we don’t think women are too stupid to make their own personal, private medical decisions. Keeping government out of our private lives includes not burdening women with patronizing lectures and sonograms. Colorado is the most prochoice state in the country, and we have defeated anti-choice ballot measures by 3-to-1 margins in the last two cycles.  Ken Buck learned the hard way that you do not mess with Colorado women.

We think kids should have access to healthcare. More than 100,000 Colorado children, and 50,000 adults including pregnant women, now have access to health insurance through Medicaid thanks to efforts by my former boss, Gov. Bill Ritter. Meanwhile, Rick Perry tried to throw the poorest children in Texas off both Medicaid and state children’s health insurance program.  More than one-fifth of Texas kids don’t have health insurance, the highest rate in the country.

We think there’s more to supporting Latinos—20 percent of the electorate here—than awkward name-dropping at a disastrous speech to Latino officials in San Antonio. You actually have to support the things that support Latino families, such as education, and not insult people with dog-whistle phrases and platitudes to your anti-immigrant base. McCain lost Colorado Latinos 2-1 to Obama in 2008, and Perry could make those numbers even worse.

[See a collection of political cartoons on immigration.]

And lastly, we’re not a religious-right state. According to the Pew Foundation, Colorado is one of the least religious states nationally, so invoking divine intervention in your run for president won’t win you a significant number of independent Colorado voters.

So, Rick, welcome to Colorado. It’s a lovely place. Enjoy your visit, bring the family next time, and leave the voters alone.

P.S. Full disclosure, I’m a native Texan. But I’ve adapted and somehow been accepted. Most of the time.

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