Reading this post, I was able to come up with a solution to specify different htmlOptions for each of the <option> items in my activeDropDownList. However, it seems I can only access those items that are inside the opening tag, such as "value" or "label".
How do I access the visible text to do things like wrap a span tag around it?
Update in case someone else runs into the same issue:
The only solution I could find to this was something of a hack. For browsers that support it I am using a stylesheet that has padding and for those that don’t support padding I am using colors to indicate the same thing.