As terms end for some politicians and candidates compete for office, Americans can only watch as their political system takes on a different face during an election year.
“Elections are a critical component that draws people’s attention,” said Sandra Davis, a CSU political science professor.
One infamous example of political transformations during an election cycle is a statement made by President Bush last month.
Bush accused the Democrat-controlled Senate in late September of being “more interested in special interests in Washington and not interested in the security of the American people.” His comments drew blistering criticism from the Senate Majority Leader, Tom Daschle of South Dakota.
“That is wrong,” Daschle fumed. “We ought not politicize the rhetoric about war and life and death.”
The Bush administration insisted that the president was referring to a stalled homeland security bill and not the Democrats’ opposition to the war on Iraq, but the damage was done.
Typically, Bush has prided himself on working towards a better bipartisan government; however, this election year the control of the U.S. Senate is up for grabs from both parties, and this has brought hot debates to candidates across the country.
Getting legislation passed in a divided Congress is definitely harder in an election year, Davis said.
“Bipartisan politics are helpful for making policy,” Davis said. “They become more intense and harder to compromise during an election year.”
The Senate seat currently being fought over by Republican Sen. Wayne Allard and Democratic challenger Tom Strickland is a prime example of bipartisanship being pushed aside for an election year.
“Candidates use very negative ads because often they are effective. They almost have to respond,” Davis said. “I worry negative campaign ads create a cynicism about politics as a whole.”
Allard’s campaign manager, Dick Wadhams, charged his opponent’s campaign with negative advertising.
“It is unfortunate that (Strickland) had to launch his negative campaign,” Wadhams said. “But, leaving his charges unchallenged would take away from Allard’s votes.”
As November approaches, the more competitive the campaigns generally become. This year Colorado voters will see their congressional seats, and essentially their votes, having the decisive power of which party has control in both the Senate and the House of Representatives.
“(The 4th Congressional District) is an important race in the nation,” said candidate Marilyn Musgrave, R-Fort Morgan, during a discussion in September. Musgrave is running against Democrat Stan Matsunaka for Congress in the district that includes Fort Collins. “Who has control over the House is dependent on this seat-along with the 7th district.”
The 7th district is the new congressional district in Colorado, located in the Denver Metro area-both west and north of Denver. Democrat Mike Feeley, Republican Bob Beauprez, Green Dave Chandler, Libertarian G.T. Martin and Reformer Victor Good are all running for this highly competitive seat.
With the election a mere 27 days away, voters should expect a growing number of issue ads on television and elsewhere. With Congress recessing within the week and members returning home to campaign, politics will only grow more focused on election issues.
-Edited by Vince Blaser and Becky Waddingham