Polls show that the races for State Treasurer and for Secretary of State in Colorado are very close. This is, once again, proof of the power of voter apathy, and of why these largely ministerial posts shouldn't be run by partisan elected officials, whom voters select largely based on party identification.
The state treasurer has virtually no policy making authority, so political experience and partisan bent is not of great importance to doing the job. The treasurer does not propose or approve legislation. Instead, the treasurer hands out abandoned property to its rightful owners, confirms that checks written by the rest of the legislative branch have a legislative basis, invests state money, and supervises the public offering of bonds by the state. The state treasurer does not collect taxes or set tax policy, and does not authorize spending or prepare the state budget, although the state treasurer must be familiar with the state budget.
In this race, Republican Mark Hillman is facing off against Democrat Cary Kennedy.
Mark Hillman has been a part-time farmer for the past seven years, and before that he was a small town newspaper reporter. He isn't a college graduate, although he has attended some college.
Cary Kennedy "earned a masters degree in public administration from Columbia University in 1993 and a Juris Doctor from the University of Denver College of Law in 1995. Cary is a member of the Colorado bar. Cary worked in the Governor's Office of State Planning and Budgeting[.]"
Simply put, there isn't a medium or large sized private business in the state that would hire Hillman to be a CFO, and no merit system appointment in a governmental agency would either. In contrast, an M.P.A. is the government equivalent of an M.B.A., which is a common private sector credential for a CFO, and a J.D. is a not uncommon credential for a CFO. Hillman wouldn't even get an interview in the real world. In the political system, however, he now has even odds of getting the job, because in the absence of strong pressures otherwise, Colorado voters lean slightly Republican.
Without the party labels, no one would even consider Hillman for this post.
Secretary of State
Republican Mike Coffman is facing Democrat Ken Gordon in the race for Secretary of State. While this puts the winner in charge of corporate filings, uniform commercial code filings, notary licenses, and bingo licenses, the Secretary of State's race is almost always about the part of the job that involves impartially running fair elections in the state.
Mike Coffman is a convicted election law violator. Ken Gordon isn't. Does anything else really matter after that? There are plenty of people who could have been nominated for this post. Mike Coffman was an odd choice to be that nominee.
This year, the Democrats are clearly superior candidates in the races for state treasurer and secretary of state. But, in the long run, the more important conclusion to draw is that neither post should be a partisan elected office.