Jerry Kopel

Remember. You read it here first.

Wayne Allard will not run for re-election to the U.S. Senate in 2008.

How did I reach this conclusion?

In 1998, Colorado citizens voted into law the term limits section 12a of Title 18 of the state constitution. It was in effect for the 2002 elections as a voluntary pledge for U.S. Senate candidates not to run for a third term and for U.S. congresspersons not to seek re-election to a fourth term.

Sen. Wayne Allard took advantage of the voluntary pledge as did every other U.S. Senate candidate in Colorado except Democrat Tom Strickland.

The voluntary pledge is supervised by the secretary of state who also places the candidate's pledge in all government-sponsored voter education material.

Do you remember the words on the ballot under Allard's name? It read "Signed declaration to limit service to no more than two terms."

Why won't Allard simply change his mind, declaring his position in the U.S. Senate is so important that it supercedes the 2002 pledge?

First, I served with Sen. Allard in the state legislature. While we were on opposing sides on many legislative issues, I found him to be one who kept his word on pledges regarding bills.

If he "changed his mind" and ran for a third term, he would lose credibility with the more conservative Republicans and see violation of the 2002 pledge become an anti-Allard campaign issue. Remember "lawyer-lobbyist" helped sink Strickland.  What would "liar-hypocrite" do for Allard?

Second, while the issue is novel and perhaps unprecedented, the written pledge lodged with the secretary of state and the pledge appearing on the ballot is a "contract" with the voting public. Individuals who can prove they changed their minds and voted for Allard based upon his written pledge, might have a right to challenge his nomination in state court for violating that contract. Win or lose, it would be a lose-lose issue for Allard.

Third, only 33 persons have been elected or appointed to the U.S. Senate from Colorado in the past 128 years, Of the 33, only five have successfully served all or part of a third term: Alva Adams, Henry Teller, Ed Johnson, Eugene Millikin, and Gordon Allott. None of them pledged not to seek a third term.

  * * *

Term limits will have a major effect on the Colorado state senate in the 2006 election. Sens. Norma Anderson, John Evans, Doug Lamborn, Dave Owen, and Ron Teck are term-limited. So was Mark Hillman whose 2006 year will be filled by Greg  Brophy.

Everyone mentioned above is a Republican. To the best of my knowledge,  no Democratic Senator is term-limited, although any re-election bid my Sen. Joan Fitz-Gerald may result in a lawsuit by Republicans claiming a term limit violation.

So at least five of the Republican seats in 2006 can be contested as "open". Chances for Democrats to increase their 18-17 majority are good.

On the other hand, 73 years of legislative experience are about to go down the drain: Anderson, 20  years; Owen, 18 years; Lamborn, 12 years; Evans, Teck eight years each; Hillman, seven years.

That's bad for the state of Colorado.

(Jerry Kopel served 22 years in the Colorado House.)

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