Friday, November 03, 2006

"The Scarlet Letter H" and Colorado Elections

Could the Ted Haggard gay sex scandal affect the two initiatives on the Colorado ballot this year (respectively) banning same-sex marriage and offering domosetic partnership benefits to same-sex couples? An article in this morning's Denver Post suggests that Haggard-gate could possibly alter the dynamics here, mainly because of one "h-word":

From the Denver Post:

The allegations regarding Haggard, a key member of the coalition that drafted Amendment 43, raise what Smith called "the H-question: hypocrisy."

"I'm not sure how that plays out in ballot issues, but as one of the proponents and drafters, it's the scarlet letter H that can affect that campaign," said Smith, who tracks ballot issues nationwide.

"The story will have legs carrying it through the election and, whether the allegations are born out or not, it will have the effect of moving attention away from that ballot issue," he added.

So can this scandal really shock fundamentalists into staying at home on Tuesday? Is this yet another terrible omen for the Republicans? Well, the Washington Post is presenting this scenario as a real possibility:

Although he has avoided endorsing political candidates, Haggard has been a staunch ally of the Bush administration. Some political observers said his resignation was more bad news for Republicans trying to rally their conservative Christian base to turn out for the midterm elections.

"This is one more factor that could increase the disillusionment of evangelicals with prominent leaders on the Christian right and with the political process as a whole, and some may conclude that perhaps their forebears were wise to be wary about politics," said William Martin, a professor of religion and public policy at Rice University and a biographer of the Rev. Billy Graham.

Oh, and getting back to how this will affect the Colorado vote, the WaPo even suggests that this could affect the competitive House races going on in the state:

"Haggard is a very important political figure in Colorado, and there are tight races there as well as ballot questions that could be affected," he said, citing in particular the embattled reelection efforts of Reps. Marilyn Musgrave and Tom Tancredo, both Republicans. "I think there's less of an implication for what evangelicals might do nationwide, because outside of Colorado he's not directly involved in voter turnout efforts and is seen as more of a religious leader than a political one."

Yep, this is just what the GOP needs: ANOTHER EMBARRASSING SCANDAL!!

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