The challenge for a candidate in a Republican primary is to prove to the voter that you are the most conservative option available.
Owen Hill, who is running a primary challenge for Senate District 10, is doing just that.
In a campaign flier, he casts his opponent as the "Liberal-voting Larry Liston." To back up the claim, Hill lists a number of votes taken by Liston during his four terms as the state House representative for District 16.
According to a Gazette article, Liston was "seething" over the flier, saying that Hill is "misrepresenting my record."
Let's start with the easy ones.
Hill writes that Liston "voted in support of Obamacare and to speed up its implementation in Colorado." Liston was the only member of the El Paso County delegation of Republicans, aside from bill sponsor Amy Stephens, to vote in favor of this controversial bill, which empowered the state to set up a health-care exchange as it was invited to do in the health-care reform bill of 2010.
If you've missed the controversy over SB-200, I'm actually kind of jealous. But it was wildly controversial, and still is, as we've seen in the primary for HD 19, where Stephens' opponent, Rep. Marsha Looper, is doing everything short of physically branding "Amycare" across Stephens' forehead to keep the bill front-and-center.
• CUT Rating for 2011
Hill writes that Liston "voted against the Colorado taxpayer 52% of the time and increased government spending year after year after year." Now, I don't see where on the flier Hill backs up the second claim in that sentence, but the first claim, about Liston's 2011 Colorado Union of Taxpayers score, is easy enough to track down.
Yes, the CUT rating Liston got for 2011 was 48 percent, which placed him below every other House representative from El Paso County, except, of course, Democrat Pete Lee.
Since Hill brought it up, we thought we'd look up Liston's CUT rates from the years past, too.
Back in 2005, when state Rep. Bill Cadman former Rep. Dave Schultheis rocked the CUT world with 96 percent and 92 percent ratings respectively, Liston entered the scene with a 54 percent.
In 2006, he pulled in a respectably conservative 70 percent.
The next year, he went up a bit to 72 percent. In 2008, Liston crashed and burned, pulling in a 44 percent rating, but then rose like a phoenix in 2009: 84 percent.
In 2010, Liston reached his pinnacle of CUT-score conservatism, with a Schultheis-esque rating of 88 percent.
So there you go: Liston's House legacy, if CUT scores are a legacy.
• HB11-1160, HB11-1275, SB11-047
On this trio of bills, Hill says, Liston "worked with liberal Democrats to subsidize so-called 'green' initiatives that actually kill jobs and line the pockets of political cronies."
And while it is true that Liston voted with Democrats on the two House bills, what Hill didn't mention is that Liston voted with the vast majority of his fellow Republicans. In fact, with 1160, it appears the bill attracted both bipartisan opposition and support.
The two bills, which would both become laws, established a "green building incentive pilot program ... to incentivize the making of energy efficiency improvements to existing residences" and created an "engine idling standard" — a time limit of five minutes — for commercial vehicles.
The Senate bill, which established "a long-term funding stream ... [for] bioscience and clean technology industries in the state...." The county's Republicans split on that one, with Liston siding with Stephens and Reps. Mark Waller and Bob Gardner in favor. The bill was sponsored in the Senate by a Democrat, and by a Democrat and a Republican in the House. It enjoyed definite Democratic support in the final House vote.
Hill writes that Liston "voted against Right to Work in Colorado, siding with corrupt union bosses allied with Barack Obama."
The bill would have prohibited an employer from forcing anyone to become a member of a union.
Liston sat on the House committee that considered the bill and sided with the Democrats by voting to postpone the bill indefinitely.
Liston reportedly told the Gazette that he voted to postpone the bill because "it only applied to businesses with more than one person."
According to Hill, Liston "supported the largest tax increase in Colorado history, Referendum C, then claimed to be against it."
What Hill is relying on to make this claim is Liston's vote to adopt the conference committee's report, allowing the bill to be considered. He voted against the bill once it was on the floor.
The voting history is right here in the House Journal.
Why would Liston vote to allow the committee's report onto the floor for a vote if he opposed the bill? Who knows. But it is clear that after he voted to allow it on the floor, he voted against it.
There you go. Feel like a better-informed voter?