Why Walker Stapleton Is The Best Choice For State Treasurer

Over the last six months only the antics of Jersey Shore have rivaled the insanity of Colorado politics.

While many Republicans cling to their ballots still uncertain of who to support in Tuesday's wacky gubernatorial and U.S. Senate primaries, the lesser watched race for state Treasurer offers a clear and antic-free choice that voters should not overlook: Walker Stapleton.

At first glance, Stapleton's primary race with J.J. Ament admittedly bears the thrill of, say, televised bowling -- a lumbering battle between two white male thirty-somethings from Arapahoe County who seem a lot alike. That's presumably why The Denver Post recently proclaimed that this race will come down to personality.

This is a short-sighted analysis. There are differences here in experience, skill and understanding, and they matter. The better man deserves to win, regardless of any superficial similarities.

For full disclosure, I endorsed Stapleton months ago. I met him in 2004 when he actively supported my own State Senate bid. He is a man of character, and we agree on many political issues. Refrain from yawning (please don't turn the channel just yet!), as this isn't just about friendship or some political payback.

It's about getting to know the real Walker. Yes, his last name might ring a bell. Yes, he's cousins with the Bush family. While these attributes--which mirror Ament's, actually, just in grander ways--might provide political advantage in most election years, Stapleton has had to distinguish himself from the pack.

Distinguish himself he has. While Ament, the son of a long-serving state legislator, turned a childhood on the campaign trail into a career as a political vendor and insider, he has failed to demonstrate any distinct credentials proving business or economic acumen, much less conservative principle.

Stapleton, conversely, is not what you'd expect. When giving speeches, he still emits a nervous energy. While his birth merged two political families known for their glib charisma, he is not one for working a room.

No, Walker the political heir, is not a terrific politician. Ironically, this may just be his most appealing personal trait.

Ament kicked off his campaign boasting of his role as "banker" to the incumbent Democrat state Treasurer. He also supported Referendum C, the state's biggest tax increase to date, and his supporters include his big-government allies from that battle.

Stapleton opposed Ref C. That's why he's backed by more businessmen than politicians, more little guys than big guys, and why his marquee endorsements are from serious fiscal hawks like Congressman Mike Coffman.

If you buy the standard contemporary line that government creates jobs, you may just want to vote for Ament. Go ahead because Stapleton's not your guy.

If, however, you've ever run your own small business, or built a small business into a big business as he has, or had to know the agony of laying someone off, or had the even bigger blow of getting laid off yourself, you know who creates jobs. Stapleton gets this because he has lived this reality, making a name all on his own over the last decade as a successful entrepreneur.

Our state is broke. Our federal government is beyond broke. Every American born today will inherit $45,000 as their share of our national debt. More government spending or government "jobs" programs aren't the answer. Balancing our taxpayer checkbook is.

When I asked Walker to give me one last pitch for this column, I knew I wouldn't get something pithy.

"The idea of 'hope' doesn't build businesses or create jobs," he told me. "With unemployment still hovering at 8.3 percent in Colorado it's time Coloradans elect leaders with experience building businesses and creating jobs in the private sector. The private sector is where the rubber meets the road and decisions have immediate consequences not every four years when there's an election."

It's not the sexist quote. But it shows he gets it. Government doesn't create or sustain jobs. You and I do.