Ref C fight enters final week

Good news, Coloradans. The end is near.

One week from today, voters will decide the fate of Referendum C, the ballot measure that would let the state keep money normally refunded to taxpayers.

As the clock ticks, both sides are frantically trying to persuade last- minute voters.

Jon Caldara, president of the Independence Institute and a leading opponent of Referendum C, isn’t sure of his strategy yet.

“I’m like Indiana Jones,” he said Monday. “I just make this stuff up as I go along.”

Referendum C’s best-known supporter, Gov. Bill Owens, will race today from a 10 a.m. rally at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs to a noon town meeting in Castle Rock at the Douglas County Public Library.

“The governor is spending the week campaigning for C,” said Owens’ spokesman, Dan Hopkins.

Douglas Bruce, author of the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights and a Referendum C opponent, is scheduled to hold a 10 a.m. news conference at the state Capitol today to expose what he called waste in government.

“Not again,” Hopkins said, with a laugh.

Beth Skinner, of Colorado Freedom Works, which also opposes the measure, said she’s fielding “nearly a billion” e-mails and phone calls from supporters this final week.

“It feels like a billion,” she said.

Freedom Works volunteers are e-mailing friends, walking door to door with campaign literature and calling voters, urging them to go to the polls.

“I go from being relieved that there’s only a week left to being panicked at other times,” Skinner said.

Political consultant Steve Welchert, who isn’t working on the campaign, said he’s almost sad to see the campaign over.

“It’s been pure political theater,” he said.

The battle over Referendum C has featured political ads starring a skydiving mayor, an ice-cream- cone-stealing politician and a grunting pig.

It has been marked by almost daily tirades of “Did not/Did so!” and “You’re a liar!/No, you’re a liar!”

And Referendum C jump-started the governor’s race months ahead of schedule, with GOP candidates Marc Holtzman and Bob Beauprez trading insults over Holtzman’s accusations that Beauprez doesn’t really oppose the tax measure.

Referendum C would suspend state spending limits for five years, allowing lawmakers to spend an estimated $3.7 billion that they otherwise would have refunded to taxpayers.