Patrick Gannon is a columnist for the Capitol Press Association.

Patrick Gannon is a columnist for the Capitol Press Association.

Patrick Gannon: It’s time to raise the stakes on Super Bowl bets

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By the time you read this, Super Bowl 50 will be over, and politicians in either Colorado or North Carolina will have gambling debts to pay.

During the NFL playoffs, we’ve seen wagers between politicians for some of the finest delicacies from their respective states on the line.

We’ve seen North Carolina politicians bet barbecue, sweet potatoes Cheerwine, craft beer and even vodka on their beloved Carolina Panthers. We’ve seen their Colorado counterparts wager elk tenderloin, whiskey, toffee and other goodies on the Denver Broncos.

We’ve seen everyone from governors down to dog catchers (well, not really, but close) decide it would be fun to place a friendly bet on big games with their counterparts in other states with playoff football teams.

Lots of food and drink on the line.

But I like the recent twist these bets have taken. Instead of putting up food and drink (Who gets to consume it, anyway?), the thoughtful elected leaders have decided to make charities the beneficiaries of their gambling.

N.C. Secretary of State Elaine Marshall, for example, talked Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams into conducting food drives for the food banks in their states and then donating the grub in the name of the winning team.

Williams smartly decided that Marshall’s idea was a positive substitute for the typical state-pride wagers.

“In fact,” Williams conceded, “she had a really good idea.”

In similar fashion, N.C. Rep. Jason Saine, a Lincolnton Republican, bet state Rep. Lori Saine of Colorado – no relation – volunteer work on the big game. The two Saines agreed that the politician from the losing state in the Super Bowl will volunteer one hour for Habitat for Humanity for every point by which their team loses. (The volunteers on the losing side will work while wearing the winning team’s jerseys).

Jason Saine has even recruited additional House and Senate members to join him in the wager.

Now we’re getting somewhere.

My suggestion is to take it a step further. While charities should continue to be the beneficiaries of these bets, politicians should make good government a winner, too.

It might be too late this time, but next time politicians should agree that if their team loses, they won’t use any attack ads on their opponents in the next election. They’ll focus only on their own experience and credentials in their campaigns.

And they should agree that if their team loses, they won’t use any political maneuvers or tricks to get bills passed. They won’t insert language into bills in the wee hours of the morning to benefit campaign contributors. They won’t let legislation get passed without proper public notice and debate.

And they won’t use nasty or false rhetoric against the other side to try to steer the public in their direction on a particular topic.

Maybe after enough Super Bowls, World Series and NCAA championships, these wagers will spread throughout the country and our government will be the real winner.

Let’s see how important these games really are to our politicians.