Things aren’t going very well for poor Ray Scott, the incumbent Republican candidate for Colorado Senate District 7. The senate seat he is after will soon be vacated by longtime Mesa County GOP favorite son, Steve King, who currently is facing multiple misdemeanor and felony charges for theft and failing to report income as required by legislators. King’s fate may not be directly tied to Ray Scott in any way, but it certainly doesn’t help the beleaguered local GOP, which has put forth a truly embarrassing long string of inept and/or discredited candidates for office.
Ray Scott faced off with Democrat Claudette Konola in the recent Club 20 candidate debates, where he took a real hit.
Claudette opened the debate by linking Scott and his party with some of those truly bad candidates, including Steve King and former congressman Scott McInnis, who got his buddies in Congress to name a federal wilderness area named after himself in violation of congress’ House Rules, and who stepped down in disgrace from the 2010 race for governor amid allegations of massive plagiarism.
Scott opened at the debate by saying he probably wouldn’t even have gotten up that morning if it hadn’t have been for the debate. Not exactly the level of enthusiasm an incumbent legislator should project with an election just weeks away.
Scott also appeared inarticulate and ill-informed next to Konola, stumbling over even the most standard GOP red-meat platitudes. He invoked Obamacare, which is federal-level legislation that the Colorado state legislature had nothing to do with, and evidently forgot that the U.S. House of Representatives is controlled by Republicans. Scott said:
We are taxed too much and we spend too much. But you’re gonna hear a whole lot of stuff today about programs and the wondrous things we should be doing, that you’re not going to be able to pay for. We do not have a tax problem. We have a revenue … We have a revenue problem not a tax problem. And a spending problem. We spend too much in the state of Colorado. $2 billion a month is what we spend now.
Shall we say “Obamacare?” Wow. That’s a heck of a good program. The government that we have today, from the federal level to the state level, is basically controlled by Democrats.
Scott dodged questions about possible ways to diversify the local economy besides promoting oil and gas, and about how to address domestic violence and sexual harassment in the workplace, ignoring a serious women’s issues, which gained more prominence than ever locally in 2013, after Grand Junction after City Councilman Rick Brainard (R) was arrested and pled guilty to striking his girlfriend in the face. Instead, Scott brought up a failed legislative attempt two years ago to pass “Jessica’s law” about punishment for sex offenders. And Konola hit him with a real zinger near the finish — one for which Scott could not recover — when she pointed out his ineffectiveness as a legislator, saying that while he brags on his website about sponsoring or co-sponsoring “over 140 bills in 2012,” not one of them ever became law. Scott tried to plead his case later by telling the audience that there is more to being a legislator than just bringing bills, saying that you have to “think outside the box.” But throughout the entire debate, he presented no new or novel ideas that were, in fact, “outside the box.”
For her part, Konola proved she had more detailed knowledge about state affairs and was far more informed than Scott. She discussed the specific conflicting amendments in the Colorado constitution that prevent schools from being adequately funded. She showed she has done her homework while discussing current state water issues, bringing up a series of state-wide water issue roundtables, and pointing out that Ray Scott had walked out on one of them while simultaneously complaining the legislature had had no input at the roundtables. Konola made it clear that she is already actively considering alternative methods of better funding higher education, and also pointed out that throughout her campaign, she has been working to address the needs of everyone in Mesa County, even less politically powerful community members, including the tea party and the GLBT community.
This debate wasn’t even close. But it did serve the important purpose of showing the community that Ray Scott is just plain out of gas. He’s slow on the take, isn’t able to defend his positions very well, and is very much a last-century thinker. Even the phrase he hoped might save him –“out of the box” — is now pretty retro. All this, along with the local GOP’s proven inability to govern with any distinction here in Mesa County, is making Ray Scott look like a sinking bet for Colorado Senate District 7.