Holtzman Halts

Marc Holtzman's emotional exit from the governor's race Thursday, after the Colorado Supreme Court declined to monkey with the established process for petitioning your way onto the ballot, was the final take on a death scene that's been dragged out for weeks — or months, if you believe he never had a prayer to begin with (see June 14 and June 2 blog items, below). But it's also an occasion for reflection on what might have been and what just couldn't be.

Holtzman is a bright, ambitious politico with a tendency to overreach. The former-Reagan-whiz-kid persona he cultivated wasn't entirely invention, even if he did exaggerate his height and his accomplishments in the private sector and as Bill Owens' tech czar, not to mention the breadth of his support among the GOP faithful ("Clowns to the Left of Me," May 18). But he also had the ability to galvanize folks, young and old, who were disenchanted with politics as usual, and that gave him at least a hint of menace. There were people who believed in the viability of his candidacy because, well, Marc said it would all work out, and he was the guy with vision.

But the grind of an upstart campaign requires the ability to execute, not just imagine. The turnover among his staff, the distractions over his involvement with Referendum C, the inability to handle the mechanics of a statewide petition campaign and the flip-flops that followed — we have more than enough signatures in each district, we shouldn't have to gather signatures in each district — exposed his glaring shortcomings as an administrator and field general. And it deprived us of what had promised to be a damn interesting primary.

In his brief skirmishes with Bob Beauprez, Holtzman managed to browbeat "Both Ways Bob" out of his Ref-C neutrality and into a declaration of tax relief, pissing off business backers who'd worked hard to support the measure. If he'd stuck around, could he have forced Beauprez into divulging some specifics about what he might actually do as governor? Would the hardcore El Paso County conservatives at the back of Holtzman's RV demand a larger role in steering the campaign? And how far would the party establishment go to squash the upstart?

We'll never know. Thanks to the ineptitude of the dark horse, we're stuck with a two-man race that promises to be nothing more than politics as usual. — Alan Prendergast

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Patricia Calhoun co-founded Westword in 1977; she’s been the editor ever since. She’s a regular on the weekly CPT12 roundtable Colorado Inside Out, played a real journalist in John Sayles’s Silver City, once interviewed President Bill Clinton while wearing flip-flops, and has been honored with numerous national awards for her columns and feature-writing.
Contact: Patricia Calhoun