“Both Ways Bob” Makes The Ballot–Barely

UPDATE: FOX 31's Eli Stokols:

Beauprez, who had just three weeks to get the 10,500 signatures required to make the ballot after entering the governor’s race in late February, initially appeared to have fallen just short, despite spending upwards of $200,000 on the petition collection effort. The Secretary of State’s office decided to do an additional review late Tuesday and found that Beauprez had enough valid signatures after all.

Secretary of State Scott Gessler, who is running for governor himself, was “walled off” from the certification process, but sources indicate there was consternation within the office about the “optics” of Gessler’s office ruling Beauprez’s signatures insufficient to make the ballot and an intense effort to ensure that the petition review process was accurate…

To collect enough signatures in just three weeks, Beauprez spent around $250,000, according to those close to his campaign.

Other sources, however, indicated that the total expense may have been closer to $300,000.

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Bob Beauprez.

Bob Beauprez.

A press release from Colorado Secretary of State Scott Gessler's office confirms, failed 2006 gubernatorial candidate Bob Beauprez has qualified for the 2014 Republican primary ballot:

Today Deputy Secretary of State Suzanne Staiert announced Bob Beauprez’s petition to appear on the Republican primary ballot for governor was found sufficient as required by statute. Primary Election Day is June 24. 

On March 31, 2014, Beauprez submitted 23,000 petition signatures to the Secretary of State. The Secretary of State’s office began a line-by-line review of the signatures. Beauprez was required to gather 1,500 valid signatures from each of Colorado’s seven congressional districts for a total of 10,500 valid signatures.

Secretary of State Scott Gessler formally delegated authority over the petition verification process to Deputy Secretary Staiert.

Of the roughly 23,000 signatures submitted by Beauprez's campaign, only 12,209 were deemed valid, with a whopping 10,791 signatures thrown out. In addition to the total number of signatures, candidates are required to turn in at least 1,500 signatures from each of the state's seven congressional districts. In CD-1, a total of 1,524 signatures were validated–a perilously thin margin.

By contrast, Tom Tancredo turned in fewer gross signatures than Beauprez, but made the ballot with room to spare and a far higher validity rate. This is attributable to the "Pueblo model" petition campaign his volunteers and paid operatives conducted, drawing on the experience gained in the Senate District 3 recall election where petition signers were cross-checked in real time against the Secretary of State's list of registered voters.

Rumors are widespread that Beauprez paid an absolutely confiscatory rate per signature to make the ballot, as much as $18 dollars per signature or more. If that's true, we would hope that he's only paying for valid signatures, because it's clear that his paid gatherers were signing up anyone they could without any meaningful screening. Either way, you'd think the embarrassment of having almost half of your signatures deemed invalid would motivate petition gatherers to adopt the Pueblo model.

But that's Bob Beauprez, folks. Always a little behind the curve.

Not From Metro Denver? It May Not Be Possible to Win a Statewide Race

Some Colorado politicos were surprised when state Sen. Greg Brophy failed to generate enough support to make the Republican ballot for Governor last weekend, but it makes plenty of sense when you consider recent electoral history in our state. Brophy hails from Yuma County in Eastern Colorado, an area that is home to only about 10,000 residents. Brophy may have had the support of Republican delegates from Yu18 years in Coloradoma County, but that number would be just a fraction of the votes he needed at the GOP State Convention.

Congressman Cory Gardner, the GOP nominee for U.S. Senate, is also from the Yuma area. Gardner succeeded Brophy in the State House when the latter was appointed to the State Senate in 2005. Gardner had no trouble winning the GOP nomination for Senate last weekend, primarily because he did not face the same crowded field of gubernatorial candidates that stood in front of Brophy. But Gardner still needs to figure out how to solve what we’ll call his “Yuma Problem” if he hopes to win a General Election matchup with Senator Mark Udall…and history is not on Gardner’s side.

The last time Colorado voters elected a statewide candidate who did not hail from the Front Range of Colorado? That was in 1996, when Loveland-based Rep. Wayne Allard was first elected to the U.S. Senate (Loveland was much smaller in 1996 than it is today — the population has doubled since the 1990 census).

Cory Gardner, Bob Schaffer.

Can Cory Gardner (left) break a trend that former CD-4 Rep. Bob Schaffer could not?

It has been 18 years since Colorado voters last elected a non-incumbent candidate who did not have roots along the Front Range, and particularly, the Denver Metro area.

Check out the numbers from the 2012 election, when a total of 2,584,719 ballots were cast in the race for President. Nearly 80% of those votes came from the Front Range of Colorado, between Ft. Collins and Pueblo. More than 1 million votes were cast in just four Denver Metro counties: Adams, Arapahoe, Denver, and Jefferson.

There was a time in Colorado when grizzled political veterans of any political party agreed on one thing: That a Denver-based politician could never win a statewide office. That old yarn was repeated as recently as 2006, finally dying out for good when former Denver District Attorney Bill Ritter was elected Governor.

Population shifts in Colorado over the past 20 years have dramatically altered the landscape of statewide politics, to the point where the old saying about Denver politicians has been flipped on its head. In fact, it may no longer even be possible to win a statewide race if the candidate is not from the Denver Metro area – or at the very least, from somewhere along the Front Range.

With so many media outlets concentrated on the Denver Metro area, local politicians have a significant advantage when it comes to earned media and building name recognition. It’s difficult for a rural Congressman such as Gardner to generate name ID when the Greeley Tribune is the largest media outlet in his district.

You’ll hear a lot of different statistics and historical patterns around the 2014 election, including predictions based on how candidates typically fare in the 6th year of a Presidency. But this Colorado pattern is more than a trend – it represents a fundamental shift in the electorate that would be difficult for any candidate to overcome. Check out our graphic of all statewide candidates since 1996 after the jump…

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Another GOP Obamacare Udall Hit Rates “Mostly False”

mostlyfalse

The Denver Post's Lynn Bartels reports, Politifact's Truth-o-Meter snags another one:

"Mark Udall has voted with the president 99 percent of the time. He lied to us about our health care. He increased our taxes. He voted against the Second Amendment. He cast the deciding vote for Obamacare," [GOP Senate candidate Cory] Gardner told Jefferson County Republicans during their assembly in March.

PolitiFact, a Pulitzer-prize winning enterprise of the Tampa Bay Times, checked out the claim. PolitiFact researches statements and rates the accuracy on what it calls its "Truth-O-Meter." The ratings are True, Mostly True, Half True, Mostly False, False and Pants on Fire.

"Because Udall had consistently sided with the Democratic leadership in votes related to the act, he was not among the handful of undecided senators who (Majority Leader Harry) Reid had to wrangle as the vote was approaching," PolitiFact wrote.

"We rate this claim Mostly False."

As Bartels reports, Cory Gardner's campaign didn't react well to the news.

"It looks like Politifact's pants are on fire this time," he said…

Rather than get sidetracked by the Gardner campaign's eyerolling dis on a Pulitzer Prize-winning fact checker, let's look at Politifact's patiently redundant analysis of Gardner's claim that Sen. Mark Udall "cast the deciding vote for Obamacare." We're pretty sure we've covered this same semantic silliness at least once or twice since 2010:

[Udall] consistently sided with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., in votes relating to the health care law, and he offered several amendments to the bill either as a sponsor or a co-sponsor.

By contrast, then-Sen. Ben Nelson was widely considered a holdout whose late-in-the-game announcement of support was key to the vote’s success…

59 senators…also voted to end debate — and the exact same thing could be said about them. [Pols emphasis] Because Udall had consistently sided with the Democratic leadership in votes related to the act, he was not among the handful of undecided senators who Reid had to wrangle as the vote was approaching. We rate this claim Mostly False.

So yes, folks, this is mindless rhetorical gameplaying. Every Democratic Senator "cast the deciding vote for Obamacare." To be perfectly honest, we would rather see Politifact take a stand on on the much more misleading statement from Gardner they cite from a recent FOX News interview, that "335,000 Coloradans lost their health insurance." As we have explained over and over in this space, that statement is grossly deceptive, since over 90% of those "cancellation notices" were in fact renewal notices, thousands found better deals via the Obamacare marketplace, and–most importantly–we now know that the number of insured Americans has gone up, not down, since the rollout of Obamacare.

Bottom line: arguing over who cast "the deciding vote for Obamacare," like building one's entire case for election on attacking Obamacare, is a waste of everyone's time, and that includes Cory Gardner. While the fact checkers hammer away at the falsehoods, voters can see with their own eyes now that Obamacare is not the disaster they've been told it would be. Obamacare won't be the message Cory Gardner campaigns on this fall–because if it is, the race will be long over.

Old Coffman vs. New Coffman®–Medicare Part D Edition

One of the biggest themes in the CD-6 race has been the wholesale transformation of incumbent GOP Rep. Mike Coffman, from the arch-conservative Republican representing firebrand conservative Tom Tancredo's former district, into a "moderate" representing one of the most economically and culturally diverse congressional districts in the United States. It's a transformation that has mostly taken place since 2012, when a relatively obscure and underfunded Democratic opponent came within only two points of unseating Coffman–demonstrating how redistricting has made Coffman one of the nation's most vulnerable incumbent members of Congress.

Coffman's record before redistricting reshaped the electorate he answers to, from a time when his only threat was being deemed insufficiently conservative, is the biggest problem he faces remaining in office today. This video clip from a 2008 congressional debate, when Coffman was working overtime to prove his conservative credentials in the Republican primary to replace Tancredo, demonstrates the problem better than perhaps anything we've seen:

MIKE COFFMAN: In terms of federal spending it is out of control and that's why Republicans are out of power right now because they didn't hold true to their beliefs as being fiscal conservatives. The biggest part of the budget, unfortunately is now on auto-pilot. It's entitlement spending–it's not discretionary spending. [Interrupted]

What is important about this district, in being a very Republican seat, is it enables someone to be able to take strong positions that someone in a swing seat may not be able to take. [Pols emphasis] And entitlement reform, in order to bring fiscal sanity to this country, has got to be a part of it. 

And here you have a President [Bush] who was talking about Social Security reform, abandoned Social Security reform, turned around and did an entitlement on Medicare for which he cooked the books to make the numbers work, and future generations are going to be paying for that. Someone has to have the courage to step up and say "no." I've demonstrated that courage here in the state of Colorado.

"Old Coffman" was awfully candid, wasn't he?

It's critical to understand this: the "entitlement on Medicare" for which Coffman claims President George W. Bush "cooked the books" to enact is the Medicare Part D prescription drug benefit–the same Medicare Part D Coffman received an award for "protecting" from the National Grange just last year! Has anybody asked Coffman what changed between the time that Medicare Part D was a big bad "entitlement," and when it became a plank in Coffman's platform to "protect Medicare?" We're guessing not. Because there is no good answer, folks.

But it's a great example of how Coffman's "strong positions"…have come back to bite him.

Republican Insiders: Tancredo, Beauprez Frontrunners for Gov. Nomination

UPDATE #2: FOX 31's Eli Stokols updates with further response from Tancredo, who insists he is neither looking at the Jeffco superintendent's job nor an exit from the gubernatorial race:

Tancredo responded to this story Tuesday afternoon, telling FOX31 Denver that he’s not the least bit interested in the Jefferson County superintendent’s job, or looking for an exit.

“The state government would be a hell of a lot easier to run than the Jefferson County School system,” Tancredo said. “And there’s no way in hell we’d be busting our butts and spending all this money getting signatures if we weren’t committed.

“I’ve said all along that if there’s someone who emerges who’s polling better and more competitive with Hickenlooper than me, I’ll hand them the baton,” he added. “But I don’t see it right now. I think I’ve got as good a shot of winning as anyone.”

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UPDATE: Speaking with conservative blog Colorado Peak Politics, Tom Tancredo denies rumors of being in the running for superintendent of Jefferson County Schools:

“Absolutely false. Joked that running the state of CO would be easier than running Jeffco schools. My guess this is someone (party insiders) wants to slow my momentum.”

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Beauprez, via The Colorado Statesman.

Like him or not, Republicans see Beauprez as a frontrunner for the nomination.

Fox 31's Eli Stokols takes a good, long look at the four-person field seeking the Republican nomination for Governor. As Stokols reports, according to a host of Republican insiders, Tom Tancedo and Bob Beauprez are the frontrunners for the GOP nomination following Saturday's Republican State Convention. Top-line winner Mike Kopp is still a long-shot and Scott Gessler may be beginning to fade:

A number of top Colorado Republicans, who all spoke candidly to FOX31 Denver in exchange for remaining anonymous, agree that each of the four candidates has a path to winning the party’s nomination, but that two in particular have an inherent advantage.

Even after his surprise top-line victory Saturday, former Senate Minority Leader Mike Kopp has his work cut out for him if he wants to finish on top when the primary votes are counted. For now, he is still viewed as having longer odds to secure the nomination than former Congressman Tom Tancredo, who has a deep base of support, and former Congressman Bob Beauprez, who has the deep financial resources to be the last man standing…

…“Tancredo remains the frontrunner in a four-candidate diffused field,” one Republican said. “He starts with a 25-30 percent base vote in a Republican primary, so unless one of the other three can emerge as the Tancredo alternative, he wins by default.” [Pols emphasis]

Rumors abound that party bosses are looking for a way to get Tancredo out of the race, and even that Tancredo may be listening. One rumor circulating Monday is that the Jefferson County School Board, won by a conservative majority last November, may hire Tancredo, a former teacher, as superintendent.

The rumor that Tom Tancredo might be interested in becoming Jefferson County Superintendent was first reported here at Colorado Pols.

A Few Words Of Sympathy For Mark Waller

Rep. Mark Waller (R).

Rep. Mark Waller (R).

The Denver Post's Kurtis Lee circles back with Rep. Mark Waller, whose campaign for the GOP Attorney General nomination took a big hit at Saturday's state assembly:

Chief Deputy Attorney General Cynthia Coffman nearly walked away with the GOP nomination for AG over the weekend, amassing 69 percent of the support from state delegates.

The total far outpaced her rival, state Rep. Mark Waller of Colorado Springs, who almost failed to make the June 24 primary ballot as he captured just 30.7 percent of the vote…

Waller, a former House GOP minority leader, who for months has been vocal inside Capitol that he would easily make the ballot, focused some of his attention on Coffman as he addressed delegates.

Waller's fundraising in this race so far has been absolutely terrible, and despite his affable nature and name ID as the former House Minority Leader, primary opponent Cynthia Coffman has pretty consistently had the advantage in this race. The fact that Waller nonetheless did make the primary ballot without having to petition on is attributable to support from legislative allies, but also the lingering dislike for the surname Coffman you can still find in Republican insider circles. Few today remember the nasty CD-6 primary of 2008, in which most of the GOP establishment in Colorado endorsed Mike Coffman's opponent, but the state assembly is where those kinds of grudges tend to resurface.

And remember, folks, the only vote that matters is June 24th. State assembly winners don't automatically win the primary in Colorado by any stretch of the imagination. But clearly, Waller had better get busy.

There was an interesting moment of drama at the state assembly Saturday, when ballots were reportedly distributed to delegates before Rep. Waller had finished addressing the delegates. That hasn't resulted in any action since then that we're aware of, but if Waller is looking for some consolation today…maybe that accounted for a few votes, you bet! Hang in there, Rep. Waller.

Tuesday Open Thread

"Republicans are for both the man and the dollar, but in case of conflict the man before the dollar."

–Abraham Lincoln

Is Tom Tancredo Considering Jefferson County Superintendent Job?

Tancredo for Governor

Tom Tancredo for…what?

UPDATE: We hear that a friend and advisor of Tancredo is discreetly asking questions about the possibility of Tancredo being approved as Jeffco Schools Superintendent. This would be a clever move for one of Tancredo's gubernatorial opponents — to leak that he is looking at dropping out of the race — but that doesn't seem to be the case thus far. Perhaps only Tancredo can answer this question now.

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Republican Tom Tancredo has been the frontrunner for the GOP nomination for Governor from the day he announced his campaign, consistently producing stronger fundraising numbers than his Republican counterparts and demonstrating his lead dog status by skipping Republican debates.

Tancredo's momentum continued last week when he was endorsed by conservative columnist Michelle Malkin a few days before his name was certified for the ballot after submitting the requisite number of petition signatures. In a four-person field for the Republican nomination (along with Bob Beauprez, Scott Gessler, and Mike Kopp), Tancredo would appear to be in the driver's seat as we steam towards the June Primary.

And yet…rumors persisted over the weekend that Tancredo is being pushed by some GOP power-brokers to consider accepting a job as the new Superintendent of Jefferson County Schools (should it be offered to him). Tancredo is by no means an obvious choice to lead the largest school district in Colorado, but it is entirely possible that the unpredictable and unabashedly-partisan Jeffco School Board could decide that the former high school teacher would be a good partner in their efforts to push the school district in the same far-right direction as their counterparts in Douglas County (remember that Tancredo was mentioned as a potential candidate for Douglas County Superintendent a few years back).

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Purged: Priola Resigns as House Minority Whip

Rep. Kevin Priola (R).

Rep. Kevin Priola (R).

The other shoe drops from last week's intra-Colorado House GOP infighting, Denver Post's Anthony Cotton:

Rep. Kevin Priola, R-Henderson, said Monday he is resigning as Republican minority whip in the wake of an internal party squabble last week…

During a debate last Thursday on dueling amendments to the Student Success Act, which will provide funding to K-12 schools, Priola backed Democratic co-sponsor Rep. Millie Hamner, D-Dillon, over fellow Republican Rep. Jim Wilson, R-Salida. The move drew the immediate ire of a number of Republicans, who alleged Priola wasn’t acting in keeping with his role as whip.

Within hours, the Republican caucus held a meeting, with Rep. Chris Holbert, R-Parker, leading an effort to remove Priola. The attempt eventually failed, but it was clear Priola was on shaky ground within the party.

As we discussed last week, there is a great deal of frustration building among conservative Republicans in the Colorado General Assembly. After stoking outrage to a fever pitch during last year's successful recall campaigns against Democrats in the Senate, conservatives have suffered a wave of setbacks in 2014–failing to pack committee hearings for stillborn repeal measures, ridicule after showing up to hearing unprepared to debate their own bills or call witnesses, and widespread criticism of unpopular legislation introduced by Republican legislators like this year's total abortion ban bill. It seems that frustration boiled over last week, when Rep. Kevin Priola supported a Democratic amendment to the Student Success Act over an amendment offered by fellow Republican Rep. Jim Wilson.

The swift retribution campaign against Priola headed by Rep. Chris Holbert ended embarrassingly when caucus leadership declared the move out of order, but we're not at all surprised to see Priola resign from House leadership today. At this point, the caucus would have been weakened further if Priola had not resigned from leadership, even though Priola is not erratic enough to pull a Kathleen Curry and disaffiliate from the GOP altogether. It's expected that the candidate named to replace Priola in last week's dustup, Rep. Polly Lawrence, will be the next minority whip.

With hard right Republican legislative candidates continuing to do well in the primary process, conservatives in the legislature may yet feel empowered to throw their weight around. Don't look for anything to change there until the June primary–or maybe until after November.

 

History Lesson: How Mike Coffman Does “Accountability”

Rep. Mike Coffman.

Rep. Mike Coffman.

Last week, it was announced that former Kansas Gov. and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius will resign, to be replaced by Sylvia Mathews Burwell, Director of the White House Office of Management and Budget. Sebelius leaves with an admittedly mixed record after presiding over the troubled rollout of President Barack Obama's namesake Affordable Care Act insurance marketplace website–even though a late surge in enrollment ultimately allowed the administration to claim success, meeting the initial goal of seven million insurance signups by the end of March.

Sebelius' legacy as head of HHS during the rollout of "Obamacare" is linked to the success of health care reform, and it's a good bet that she'll be remembered more fondly as the early failures of the program fade from memory. For today, though, let's take a look at the response to Sebelius' resignation as announced Friday by embattled GOP Rep. Mike Coffman:

I learned this very early on during my time in the military — no organization can operate effectively in the absence of accountability.  The sad truth is, until today, there has been zero accountability for the broken websites, the broken roll-outs and the many broken promises that have swamped Obamacare. In the military, the business world, or any other walk of life, Secretary Sebelius would've been shown the exit long, long ago…

Okay, full stop. We're not sure how many readers remember the story of Coffman's former Elections Director from his time as Secretary of State, a gentlemen by the name of Dan Kopelman, but if you know Kopelman's story, Coffman's remarks about Sebelius can be easily cast as hypocritical. Dan Kopelman was caught in 2007 running a partisan elections data business on the side while working for Coffman at the Secretary of State's office. The obvious conflict of interest made for months of terrible press for Coffman, and forced Coffman to implement a "new policy" prohibiting SoS elections employees from holding "an official position in a partisan organization or political party" or working "for or against a candidate for a partisan office."

Which you'd think would be obvious.

Despite Kopelman's clear violation of C.R.S. section 24-50-117, which states that "no employee shall engage in any employment or activity which creates a conflict of interest with his duties as a state employee," Coffman didn't show Kopelman "the exit" at all–simply transferring him within the Secretary of State's office "to a job where he does not have access to voter data."

What's the difference, you ask? With Sebelius, the headlines are much bigger! And, as with so much of Coffman's long history in politics, the Kopelman episode was so many years ago–2007, ancient history–that he's counting on nobody remembering it ever happened. But we do, and as long as the Rocky Mountain News' archives stay online, Coffman will earn blowback over Kopelman every time he gets preachy.

Stay Classy, Victor “Everyone Loves” Head

Sometimes, one's campaign swag leaves little to the imagination. Definitely the case with 2013 recall organizer-turned GOP Pueblo County Clerk candidate Victor Head:

everonelovesheadWe're trying to figure out what's worse: that Mr. Head thinks "Everyone Loves Head" is an appropriate slogan for a serious campaign for office, or that only females are wearing this shirt in the photo on Head's Facebook page?

Yes, the answers to these questions are obvious, and eww.

GOP State Assembly Open Thread

UPDATE #2: An interesting twist in the gubernatorial primary, FOX 31's Eli Stokols:

In a bit of a surprise, former state Sen. Mike Kopp narrowly won the top line on the June GOP primary ballot in the fight for the chance to challenge Democratic Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper this fall.

Kopp took 33.6 percent of the vote, eking out a win over Secretary of State Scott Gessler, who also made the ballot with 33.1 percent support at the state GOP assembly here…

“I am tired of weak-kneed Republicans who believe every Democratic attack means disaster. They roll over instead of standing up,” Gessler said.

In other gubernatorial news, Sen. Greg Brophy nets a disappointing 18%, and Steve House and Roni Bell Sylvester say goodbye. In the Attorney General primary, both Cynthia Coffman and Rep. Mark Waller make the ballot, though Waller's bare-minimum 30% total may have suffered due to ballots reportedly being handed out while he was still speaking. Cory Gardner nets 73% of the vote, enough to keep Randy "The Stache" Baumgardner off the U.S. Senate primary ballot.

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UPDATE: The Denver Post's Kurtis Lee:

Congressman Cory Gardner took to the stage at the state assembly Saturday calling for new leadership in the U.S. Senate, telling delegates he's the best candidate to create economic growth, lower taxes and spur more energy development.

"Everyday I see faces that are result of the failure of Washington," Gardner said. "Faces of failed leadership. … People who have lost their doctor, who are out of work."

Gardner quickly took aim at incumbent Democratic U.S. Sen. Mark Udall, saying the he "just went along for the ride" with President Barack Obama on the Affordable Care Act, a measure polling far from favorably in Colorado.

"Obamacare is the biggest and worst boondoggle this country has ever seen," Gardner said.

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To be updated from today's Republican Party state assembly at the CU Coors Events Center in Boulder.