THE BLOG

Ritter Succumbs to a Labor-Latino Coalition

Jan 06, 2010 | Updated May 25, 2011

It was the tale of the tape. Ritter had been losing heavyweight status since he threw a one two punch at organized labor and Latinos. In the end a knockout was scored, but it was Ritter who hit the mat.

Ritter, believing that he could be reelected only by pleasing GOP referees, swung at the state's labor community by dosing their top legislative agenda items. The governor followed that round by completely denying any serious consideration of a Latino/a to fill the Senate seat vacated by now Interior Secretary Ken Salazar. Salazar was one of only two Latino members of the US Senate. An achievement apparently lost on the Governor and his staff.

The conventional wisdom among Democratic strategists is that the progressive base always comes home regardless of how you treat them. Ritter, unfortunately for him, believed the advice.

Notice to Dem consultants and their clients: This is not your father's Democratic party. The Democratic coalition is more informed and less tolerant of broken promises, unfulfilled visions, and political switch-a-roos.

While Ritter waited at his doorstep like a worried suitor waiting for an arranged bride, the polls continued to indicate a low overall approval rating. The details showed that the Governor's ratings were being pinned down by even lower Latino community approval numbers. To add serious injury to insult the state's labor rank and file was not "coming home" as predicted. I believe Ritter saw reality and understood that he could not undo the damage he had done to himself before the coming election.

Every fighter learns from every fight, and every corner team does as well. The lesson here is plain: the Democratic base is no longer tolerant of being used as a training bag or sprawling partner. The internet, 24 hour news coverage, talk radio, and the social communication tools that campaigns use to inspire voters have the side effect of increasing accountability.

In the end Ritter may become a symbol of the price of analog politics in a digital world. Ritter may also become a time stamp for the birth of a renewed partnership between labor and Latino activists.

Nobody should deny that labor and Latinos can become a powerful center core for Colorado's progressive movement, but if it is to be they must move quickly: Ritter's departure signals only the end of round one.

Mario Solis-Marich is a radio talk show host who can be heard on AM 760 in Denver and world wide at www.GoToMario.com. You can find Mario on Facebook.