Who's Sorry Now?

A look at the revolving door of term limits.

On Denver's yawner of a mail-in ballot is one interesting question: Measure 1A, which would extend the term limit for a Denver district attorney to three consecutive terms. Back in 1994, Colorado voters approved a constitutional amendment that imposed a two-term limit on all non-judicial elected officials but permitted voters of counties, towns and other governmental bodies to "lengthen, shorten or eliminate" term limits for any office. And voters in Denver County did just that in November 2000, adding another term for all elected officials in Denver.

But that charter amendment didn't apply to the Denver district attorney.

The next year, the Pueblo County Board of Commissioners put a measure on Pueblo County's ballot that proposed eliminating term limits on the DA for the 10th Judicial District; voters approved that measure. But Secretary of State Donetta Davidson and other term-limit-happy Republicans did not, and the resulting case of Davidson v. Sandstrom went all the way to the Colorado Supreme Court. In 2004, the Colorado Supreme Court ruled that the 1994 vote did indeed limit DAs to the official two terms, but affirmed that the amendment gave counties the option of putting their particular DA's term limit to a vote.

By then, though, the ruling came too late to help term-limited Denver DA Bill Ritter, and Mitch Morrissey was voted in as Denver's district attorney when Ritter's second term ran out.

Since Ritter couldn't run again for DA, he had to settle for the next best thing.

He ran as the Democratic candidate for governor -- and won.

 
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