Tea Party Candidate Forum in Colorado Springs yesterday.

( – promoted by Middle of the Road)



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First, this is Colorado Springs, perhaps the most conservative district in the nation.  

There are a lot of people involved with “Tea Party” type groups.  About 1,000 attended last night.  

Second, while almost everyone there would agree that the GOP is corrupt and beholden to a narrow group of special interests, they also are convinced that they are powerless to change that, and they believe the Democratic Party is even worse.  So they will be voting for the lesser of two evils in November, not for good governance.  

That said, this was pretty much a GOP event.  Libertarians were permitted to set up tables and hand out literature, but not to participate in the debates.  Constitution Party representatives were allowed to hand out literature.  

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There were three debates, which started after what seemed like 45 minutes of introductory remarks.  These featured the GOP candidates for Senator, Treasurer and Governor.  

One candidate, Steve Barton, fell through a hole in the stage.  At one point, Ken Buck introduced himself as Steve Barton.  Sympatico ?

The best debate, the only actual debate where candidates went after each other, was between JJ Ament and Ali Hasan.  

Big picture, JJ said that there had not been a qualified financial professional as State Treasurer for forty years, and that the head of that office needed to be someone with years of experience analyzing financial statements, bond ratings and coupon yields, and suggested that being a filmmaker was not adequate preparation.  

Ali countered by indicating that there are already plenty of qualified professionals doing the nuts and bolts of accounting and treasury management, and what the office was needed was a leader with vision and principles.  

They disagreed over whether the state is currently invested in banks that received bailout funds, apparently including a bank that JJ works for.  Ali had a persuasive visual aid on that point, but JJ had  a counter argument I couldn’t follow, but may have had merit.  

Overall, JJ won the text voting, 45 to 25 to 1 for an absent Stapleton.  Ament had a significant cheer section up front, but Ali seemed to get stronger responses from the crowd, if that section up front was excluded.  It was the best show of the night.  

To JJ’s credit, he never mentioned Ali’s religion.  Classy.  I call it for Ali, though I may be biased.  I hope someone can post the votes collected on paper ballots.  

The Governor contest was more lopsided.  Dan Maes was the clear crowd favorite.  Scott McInnis plaintively pleaded for realism – he lamented that, if the GOP kept paring revenues, he would not be able to govern.  Roads are essential, and education investment necessary for our future.  He argued that we could put ourselves into a death spiral if we kept cutting fees and taxes, even while the state struggled to cope with a $1 Billion deficit.  

Dan had a pretty succinct formulation for solving the deficit, and said that the McInnis “Prosperity Plan” deal was cut in a backroom.  The next time Scott spoke, he was drowned out with shouts of “backroom.”  If he ends up Governor, I hope he forgets how he was treated last night.  

The debate among the Senate candidates was pretty much what I’ve seen before, except Jane Norton was there to speak on behalf of Jane Norton.  If you cheer for underdogs, Steve Barton is still your guy.  Some people thought that Ken Buck was mocking him, but I didn’t take it that way.  

Tom Wiens was a little off; I’ve seen him do better.  Cleve Tidwell toned down the “Georgia country boy” stuff and came across more as the competent international corporate executive.  Can’t say if it helped with this particular crowd, but I thought it was a big improvement.  

Barton was as uncomfortable as ever.  If he wasn’t LDS I would suggest that he take a drink of whiskey before going onstage.  It may have even helped him take the fall off the stage.  He still puts a lot of emphasis on his educational qualifications, and the GOP in this city is somewhat anti-intellectual.  

The one constant: everyone thought that the Obama Presidency was leading to the decline of the nation.  Some want him impeached, others want him countered and delayed until the GOP sweeps into office in November.  However, most acknowledge that they see little difference between their party and the Democrats.  They are mad about the way things are going, and came last night to vent their frustration, but few believe they can actually do anything about the mess we’re in.

Conclusion:  the Tea Party movement has been absorbed into the GOP here in El Paso county, and once the election is over, its back to business as usual.

Final note: almost every notable local Republican was there last night.  Doug Bruce, Dan May, Ed Bircham, Tom Tancredo, Greg Hollister, Gallagher, Clark, and many I couldn’t put a name to.

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48 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. Middle of the Road says:

    To JJ’s credit, he never mentioned Ali’s religion.  Classy.

    Wow, classy indeed. We actually give people credit for this? God, the soft bigotry of low expectations.  

    • Ralphie says:

      He was saying that Ali’s religion would have been red meat to a roomful of Colorado Springs teabaggers.

      • Alison says:

        Yes, let’s mock the author of the story for “giving credit” to JJ for not bringing up Ali’s religion, and then turn around and mock El Paso County residents by assuming we are all so shallow that religion would be a factor for our votes.

        If Hasan loses the race in El Paso County it will be on lack of merit and character, not religion.  

        • BICora says:

          it wouldn’t have mattered to that audience?

          If not, then MOTR is right.

          If it would have, than Ralphie and BarronX are right.

          • Alison says:

            I cannot speak for every voter in El Paso County, but I do not believe Ali’s religion would be a deal breaker for Colorado Springs voters. I got out of there pretty quickly, but Ali was fairly well received from what I observed in the time I was present. Do we think voters are stupid and cannot deduce from his name that perhaps he is Muslim? Ali has never made any attempt to hide his faith, and I doubt it would have shaken him in any way if it had been mentioned.

            When all is said and done, it will be Ali’s charcter and resume that will be his achilles heel. Approximately 4% of the El Paso County population is of Muslim faith. As you are aware, the county is also a conservative strong hold. If Ali (surprisingly) carries the Republican flag into the election, voters here will only be concerned with the “R” next to his name, and not his faith.  

            • caroman says:

              What if Ali’s middle name was “Hussein”?  Are you saying CO Springs voters have never ridiculed a politician with “Hussein” as his middle name??

              • Alison says:

                I can recall that Barack Obama’s middle name was called into question here in Colorado Springs during the election. However, not every (or nearly the majority) of Colorado Springs voters are pitch fork carrying Muslim haters. Be careful, sir, not to categorize all Colorado Springs voters on the disgusting actions of a few extremist. Every party has their extremists who will do anything to get their party ahead.  

                • Ralphie says:

                  don’t go to teabagger candidate forums.

                  No attempt to generalize past the specifics of the audience.

                  • joaniem says:

                    I would like to let you know that the Tea Party is not just a bunch of people who scream at the capitol. I would also like to let you know that the vast majority of the tea party movement is filled with Republicans! These are people who are part of your party who just want their voice heard. They are organized and work hard, I was at the event Tuesday evening and actually spoke to a gentleman who works at Mr. Biggs and he said that event was bigger than some of the “official” Republican events. That should show you how passionate these people are. Do not put a derogatory label on them just because they are not just like you.  

        • Middle of the Road says:

          I found Barron’s side remark to be insulting to the attendees. The assumption that they will automatically discredit Ali because of his religion seemed the height of shallow to me.

          But if that’s what you’re saying, that Republican and conservative voters really do judge people by their religion, then I concede the point to you and apologize to Barron for my erroneous mistake in giving conservative voters in Colorado Springs more credit than they deserve.

          • Alison says:

            I said that Ali’s religion would not be a factor for Colorado Springs voters. Please re-read my post above, carefully this time.  

            • Middle of the Road says:

              Twice. And you contradicted yourself so badly, I tried to give you an out. So I guess you’re calling Barron to task for xenophobia? Is that what you’re saying? Again, try and think this through before you make yourself dizzy.

              May I just suggest you quit while you’re behind?

              • Alison says:

                Thanks so much for the useless comment, sweetie.  

                • Middle of the Road says:

                  It’s good to see the Republican Party has sunk so low that it becomes noteworthy to point it out when one of your candidates doesn’t make an issue out of his opponent’s race, religion or sexual orientation. Golly, you must be ever so proud.

                   

                  • Barron X says:

                    .

                    I must have more candid conversations with a wider variety of people than you.

                    Xenophobia is not limited to Republicans or conservatives.  Particular targets in Colorado include Hispanics and Muslims.  

                    Maybe there’s something about you that discourages people from expressing such views.  Maybe there’s something about me that encourages their expression.  I don’t know.  

                    But I have even heard a locally prominent black male Democrat and an equally prominent Caucasian female Democrat tell jokes privately that would only be only funny if there was an understood atmosphere of suspicion of Muslims in general, and Arab Muslims in particular.  Don’t believe me, if that’s your choice.  You don’t come across as particularly honest (with yourself) in your comments on this thread.  

                    As noted above, the “Muslim” charge would have been an easy cheap shot.  JJ DID accuse Ali of views on abortion and gay marriage that were contrary to the values of last night’s crowd.  Each of these accusations accusations elicited a vocal reaction from the crowd, and Ali didn’t get a chance to respond, due to the format of the debate.  

                    In a perfect world, there would have been no call to bring religion into the contest.  But I don’t live in that perfect world, and I am aware enough to see that.  

                    I guess not everybody here is.

                    .

                    • Middle of the Road says:

                      And for the record, shame on you if this is really your defense.

                      You are ever so welcome.

                      It’s good to see the Republican Party has sunk so low that it becomes noteworthy to point it out when one of your candidates doesn’t make an issue out of his opponent’s race, religion or sexual orientation.

                    • ColoradoSkeptic says:

                      I remember a time when Hasan was an advocate for reproductive rights and for gay marriage. Now suddenly he has gone to the far right like the rest of the party and now suddenly he signs the egg amendment petition and becomes against gay marriage.

                    • RedGreenRedGreen says:

                      by appealing to standard-issue Republicans, since they see right through his laughable claims that a handful of film festival awards qualifies a guy to manage a state treasury. So he has to appeal to the fringe. It’s a shame his principles have turned out to be so expendable.

                    • Who says I sold out my principles?

                      When it comes to abortion, I agree with President W Bush and I always have – uphold the late-term abortion ban and hope to expand it – it was also W Bush who said America is “not ready” for a full abortion ban, in explaining the partial-birth ban

                      Regarding gay marriage – legalizing gay marriage could trouble the non-profit status of faith based institutions and while I believe gay couples should have rights, I don’t think Churches or places of faith should be forced to recognize them – with that said, I remain very supportive of rights to gay couples, provided that non-profit statuses will not be revoked over any kind of legislation  

                    • And I did sign the petition to get Personhood on the ballot – I have many friends volunteering within the Personhood initiative and I believe that they should have the right to get this on the ballot and have the statewide voters weigh in on it

                    • RedGreenRedGreen says:

                      According to this account in the Statesman, that’s not the impression you tried to give the El Paso County forum when Ament challenged your conservative credentials:

                      The candidates took their impassioned differences to a new level when Ament declared himself as the only state Treasurer candidate standing on stage who is pro-life and upholds marriage as a union between one man and one woman.

                      Hasan’s eyes popped and his jaw dropped in disbelief.

                      “If I weren’t a social conservative I wouldn’t have signed the Personhood Amendment petition today!” declared Hasan. “Let’s get that on the ballot!”

                      So which is it? You signed the initiative to get it on the ballot, but don’t actually support it? Or you signed it and support it because you are a “social conservative” like you told the Tea Party crowd?

                    • I’m genuinely conflicted (and this is going on record, outside of the media narratives, debates, and hyberbole) –

                      I don’t want abortions to happen

                      On the other side, I don’t want the government infringing on civil liberties

                      I do believe that every life is precious and I wish there was a way to stop abortions, without Big Brother getting involved (with the exception of partial-birth abortions, a ban I’ve always supported)

                      With that said, I think a dialogue needs to happen and I signed the petition for Personhood because I want the statewide dialogue on this issue to continue – such exercises will create a solution, even if it is simply to ban partial-birth abortions and leave everything else untouched

                      I wish I had every answer, but I don’t – I’m conflicted, and the best I can offer is that a discussion take place

                    • RedGreenRedGreen says:

                      That’s a remarkably honest (or at least honest sounding) and complex answer, and I salute you for it.

                      I think the chances the Personhood debate is going to lead to meaningful and useful dialogue, however, are slim.

                    • Sorry for the late reply and I appreciate your kind words

                      I politely disagree on the meaningful dialogue though – without such ballot measures, I believe Partial Birth Abortions (7-9 month) would still be legal

                      Peace and love – ALI

                    • he's a tard says:

                      You really feel that abortions need to be stopped, that you are personally against them? Is that your official word on the subject?

                      Have you ever been involved with someone or in a situation where abortion was discussed?

                • Middle of the Road says:

                  I should tell you I enjoyed sparring with you. I see you around once in awhile and I do enjoy what you add to the conversation here. Seriously.  

  2. John Galt says:

    Of the other two straw polls for Senate and Governor?  Obviously they will not matter in the primary but they might be an early indicator of how caucuses will shape up for the candidates.  I get pushed by different county parties and candidates to straw polls all the time, so although it may have been a tea pary or a 9-12 event most everyone there are Republican activists.

    • Barron X says:

      .

      I went there with the intention of promoting the American Constitution Party, but ended up chatting with old friends and new friends and missing most of the action up on stage.  

      .

    • joaniem says:

      The Tex in poll is as follows,

      Senate

      Buck      93       102

      Norton    50        65

      Tidwell   17        15

      Weins     47        17

      Barton    7          7

      Governor

      Maes      104      87

      McInnis   47      111

      The Constitutionalist Today reported the text in vote to be the most accurate because only one person could vote in per phone number. Write in ballots are the second number but not as accurate because some people took multiple ones.  

  3. BICora says:

    Dan had a pretty succinct formulation for solving the deficit,…

    Can you elaborate?

    The only thing I heard Maes say – admittedly last fall – was that he would cut 4000 state employees, and roll back the O&G regs that were killing production.  He cited some pretty wacky statistics that MADCO nicely refuted with actual sources.

    http://www.coloradopols.com/di

  4. Genius says:

    The most impressive part of this to me is getting 1000 people to come out to any political event.  This is a simply huge turnout.  how many people in total went to the GOP caucus in El Paso in 2008?  Will these people caucus or is that participating in part of a system they hate?

    • Gilpin Guy says:

      how many of them are working for the federal government at the different bases?

      50%-60%-70%

      You gotta love the Colorado Springs government employees dedicated to reducing government.  Maybe they should start with themselves.  Think how much money we could save the taxpayers if we got rid of these discontented government employees and this massive amount of waste in these programs?  Why don’t we mandate that they cut military/industrial spending in the Colorado Springs area by 20%.  That should be a problem with the anti-government governments in the area.

  5. Republican 36 says:

    Two days ago, at a Tea Party/9-12 forum limited to just the candidates for Larimer county sheriff, two hundred people attended, which as Genius states in another comment in this thread about the meeting in Colorado Springs, is a huge number for a political event. Unquestionably, the Tea Party/9-12 movement will have a major impact on the Republican caucuses next week.

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