I find that, with Ritter, the straightforward answer is usually the correct one. He didn't think he could win, so he took his ball and went home.This is similar to my friend Danny the Red Hair's assesment after watching the govs announcement yesterday (I missed it), that it appeared like he was being forthright and that there is no other shoe about to drop. I think Seth and Danny are right. We're so used to cynical and jaded politcians we hardly know how to react when confronted with sincerity and honesty. The governor has cynical politcal players around him and has occasionaly acted as a politician is wont to do but all in all the man (and I know him more than a little) is incredibly earnest. I believe what he said and knowing his commitment to Jeannie and his children I am not the least surprised that if he felt his family needed him he would do what was needed for his family. He looked at the issues in the state, he looked at the campaign, he looked at his family and he decided he would serve his family and himself better by retiring.
I have been dissapointed by many aspects of his administration but that's because I hung high hopes on the governor and much of that idealism was misguided. He was never a firebrand, a populist, a progressive or a dynamic leader. He's always been an upper middle class Denver liberal with blue collar roots and a dedication to public service. He's demonstrated competent stewardship of the state at a time when no governor could be expected to do much more than that. He hasn't been a bad governor, he hasn't been corrupt and aside from the Kolomitz affair it's been a relatively quiet four years.
To me the take away lesson here is that elected officials must seize opportunity immediately. There was a conventional wisdom in this administration that the often laborious process of governing that they undertook was ok because "we have eight years." I often wanted to scream out - "No, YOU DON'T!" but it wouldn't have mattered. In the three plus years since his landslide victory and the expansion of legislative majorities the national mood has shifted, the state's mood has shifted, massive budget shortfalls have wrecked the state government and the opportunity for Ritter to really leave a stamp on this state has all but evaporated.
By stepping down now though the governor has given Democrats a chance to effect change in 2011 and beyond. I thank the governor for his service, for his forsight in stepping aside now and I call on my friends to rally around protecting our legislative majorities and focus on electing a new Democratic governor. We don't often get second chances in life but I think this may be a second chance for Democrats in Colorado.