Politicos’ Flood Damage Flyover Becomes Rescue Mission


A helicopter surveillance mission Saturday carrying Hickenlooper and members of Colorado's congressional delegation was diverted twice to pick up people waving to be rescued.

After the officials' delayed arrival at a Boulder airport, U.S. Sen. Mark Udall promised a bipartisan push in Congress for federal aid for flood recovery. "That dog and the cat and those seven people on those two helicopters didn't ask us whether we were Democrats or Republicans," Udall said. [Pols emphasis]


Left to right: Rep. Cory Gardner (R), Gov. John Hickenlooper (D), Sen. Mark Udall (D). Photo via Sen. Udall

Gov. John Hickenlooper and rescued Estes Park resident.

Gov. John Hickenlooper and rescued Estes Park resident.

As the Boulder Daily Camera's Mitchell Byars reports:

Gov. John Hickenlooper, Colorado Senators Mark Udall and Michael Bennet and members of the state's congressional delegation on Saturday afternoon took a helicopter tour across flood-ravaged Boulder County and parts of Jefferson and Larimer Counties.

As a testament to the destruction and, in some places, still very dangerous situation in the state, the two National Guard helicopters the dignitaries were aboard stopped twice to rescue stranded people during the tour, officials said. They eventually picked up six people a dog and a cat, dropping them off at an airport in Larimer County before returning to Boulder Municipal Airport.

Hickenlooper estimated the group saw 55 sections of roads and highways that were either partially or totally destroyed by flood waters. In some places there was little evidence a road had been there at all, with everything down to the road base washed away. Despite the monumental effort that will be required for Colorado and Boulder County to recover from the calamity, Hickenlooper voiced optimism that the state would bounce back.

"I think the thing that we're all agreed to is that we're gonna come back and we are going to rebuild better than it was before," he said. "And as a community we're gonna come out stronger after the storm that we were before."

Action Tweeted in close to real time by Rep. Cory Gardner:


More photos from today's bipartisan rescue mission after the jump. 


Wadhams takes the knife to GOP peace-maker Tancredo

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Former Colorado GOP chairman Dick Wadhams.

Former Colorado GOP chairman Dick Wadhams.

Just as Republican gubernatorial candidate Tom Tancredo started pleading with Colorado Republicans to stop beating up each other, GOP strategist Dick Wadhams took to the radio waves to slam down Tancredo as unelectable.

On KNUS' Backbone Radio show Sunday, Wadhams amplified on an a Sept. 1 Denver Post op-ed, where he made veiled references to GOP candidates who've lost previously and who, if nominated, would extend the Republican "losing streak" in Colorado.

Guest host Randy Corporon deserves credit for getting to the heart of the matter, when he asked Wadhams:

Corporon: "The two candidates who popped to mind for me who've lost state-wide office in recent history are Tom Tancredo and Senate candidate Ken Buck. Did you have them in mind?"

Wadhams: "Indeed I did. I cannot see how a candidate who has clearly had a history of rhetoric that has alienated Hispanic voters can get elected state-wide in Colorado. I don't see it."

[BigMedia intervention: One wonders if Corporon thought about asking Wadhams for the name of any GOP candidate, including Rep. Mike Coffman, who does not have a "history of rhetoric that has alienated Hispanic voters," but let's continue with the interview.]

Wadhams: In terms of Ken Buck, who I think would have been a marvelous U.S. Senator, and Ken, actually, was going into October with a lead. But he said some things that gave Michael Bennet the ability to come from behind and win that… And those issues don't go away.

[BigMedia intervention]: But Buck blamed his loss on Democrats, not on himself.

Wadhams later in the interview: "I do not think that even if it had been a head-to-head with Hickenlooper and Tancredo, that Tancredo would have won in 2010. Hickenlooper never had to run a negative ad… He's never been tested state-wide in a campaign like this. I don't think he would hold up under scrutiny."

Dick Wadhams on KNUS Backbone Radio 09-01-13


Obama Asks Congress For Permission To Bomb Syria

UPDATE: CBS4 Denver has a new report on fresh skepticism from Rep. Mike Coffman today, including an interesting new possible GOP line of attack: should Obama not have gone to Congress then?

Coffman says the delay in striking Assad has wasted precious time.

“The Assad government has had all the time in the world to move their assets around so they don’t present themselves as easy targets,” he said. [Pols emphasis]

Coffman is not gung-ho for a strike. Not until it’s proven to him it would not lead to a protracted military engagement. He also wonders if Assad is chased from power, what then?

This wouldn't be the first time President Obama has been damned if he does and damned if he doesn't, of course.


US Navy photo

US Navy photo

As the Washington Post reports:

Syria on Sunday gloated over a "historic American retreat," deriding President Barack Obama for his decision to delay what had appeared to be imminent military strikes and dealing a further blow to U.S. credibility among the Syrian opposition and its allies.

The announcement Saturday by Obama that he would seek congressional approval for any U.S. military intervention in Syria, effectively pushing back any potential strike for at least 10 days, was seized upon by Syrian officials and state media, presenting it as a victory for the regime…

Back on the home front, there's bipartisan support in the Colorado congressional delegation for President Barack Obama's choice to seek congressional approval ahead of any military action by the United States against Syria, though from our read of the statements issued by lawmakers, considerably less evident appetite for actually going to war. Colorado Springs Gazette:

Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet and Reps. Doug Lamborn and Scott Tipton, applauded the president's plan to put the matter before Congress.

"I approve of the president consulting with Congress and seeking congressional support on this important issue. I will be gathering many facts before making any decision," Lamborn, a Colorado Springs Republican, wrote in an email to The Gazette.

Bennet, a Democrat, also stressed in a statement to The Gazette the need for Congress to weigh its options carefully.

"Syria's use of chemical weapons is deplorable. Congress will review the evidence presented by the administration and hold a serious debate about options," he wrote. "We must consider the enormous challenges in the region and the complexity of the situation that includes a military already stretched thin, a nation in civil war, and a region in transition."

9NEWS carried reaction from Rep. Ed Perlmutter and Jared Polis: 


Big Line Updates: Buck Changes Senate, AG Lines

We've updated The Big Line to reflect Ken Buck's entry into the U.S. Senate race.

Buck is the early favorite to capture the GOP nomination for U.S. Senate, but we still have Sen. Mark Udall as a heavy favorite to win re-election. The biggest impact of Buck's candidacy is on the Republican side, where Owen Hill and Amy Stephens have some decisions to make. This is an entirely different race for Hill, who a week ago had little to lose politically so long as he didn't make a fool of himself in a race no-one would expect him to win (we don't consider Randy Baumgardner a serious obstacle for, well, anyone). Does Hill keep running and risk a drubbing in a Primary? Probably not.

As for Stephens, if she was serious about running for Senate she probably waited too long. We first reported back in June that Stephens was being recruited by some to run in 2014, but she really need to jump into the race before Buck in order to coalesce the support she would need to win a Primary. It's quite possible that Stephens could have done enough to keep Buck from running if she had moved quicker. If she still intends to run, the clock is ticking fast — she can't let Buck get even a few weeks' head start in fundraising.

Buck's decision should also finally end Bob Beauprez's sad flirtation with running for Senate. Beauprez really, really, really wanted to run for Senate, and Republicans really, really, really had no interest in supporting him.

Things are also clarified a bit on the GOP side for Attorney General, where Cynthia Coffman and Mark Waller are now free to battle it out for the Republican nomination.


Roundup: Buck Is Back For 2014

UPDATE #2: As the Colorado Independent’s John Tomasic reports, Ken Buck’s entry into the 2014 U.S. Senate is making big waves–for other Colorado Republicans.

The national Democratic House Majority PAC is already positioning Buck’s candidacy as a liability to Republican Rep. Mike Coffman, who is running in what’s now the state’s toss-up Sixth Congressional District.

“Mike Coffman and Ken Buck are two ideological peas in an extremist, Tea Party pod,” Andy Stone, communications director, was quoted in an email blast Thursday. “After all, both Coffman and Buck have shown themselves to be dangerously out of touch with Coloradans in supporting a personhood amendment to ban abortion even in the case of rape and incest and opposing the promise of treatment for previously untreatable diseases potentially offered by embryonic stem cell research.”


UPDATE: People for the American Way answers news of Ken Buck's entry into the 2014 Senate race with a clip video they originally released in October of 2010. This takes us back.


2010 GOP Senate nominee Ken Buck.

2010 GOP Senate nominee Ken Buck.

Progressive Cowgirl noted it first here last night, and here's a quick coverage roundup (so far) of 2010 GOP U.S. Senate nominee Ken Buck's entry into the 2014 race against Democratic incumbent Sen. Mark Udall.


A Few Words About Hubris And Ken Buck

2010 GOP Senate nominee Ken Buck.

2010 GOP Senate nominee Ken Buck.

Amid the GOP's ongoing struggle to find an opponent–any opponent–to challenge incumbent Sen. Mark Udall in 2014, the Denver Post's Lynn Bartels puts 2010 Senate loser Ken Buck's name back in the mix:

Buck for months has been mentioned as a likely candidate for state attorney general, but in recent days several high-profile Republicans have announced their candidacy for the office and the talk has switched to a Senate bid.

"We have been talking about it, and I'll leave it there," his wife, state Rep. Perry Buck, R-Windsor, confirmed Tuesday.

Much of the speculation about Buck's political future has been on hold since his battle with cancer was disclosed in March. Bartels reports today that Buck's cancer remains in remission, and he is undergoing his last round of chemotherapy this week.

It's true that Buck lost in 2010 by a relatively small margin to appointed incumbent Sen. Michael Bennet. But the underlying reasons for that narrow and trend-countering loss for the GOP in an otherwise GOP "wave year" revealed a fatal flaw in the newfound political vigor offered by the "Tea Party." Buck lost the election, as our readers know well, largely due to overwhelming opposition from women voters. Buck's hard-line views against abortion and gay rights, and October revelations of a rape case he had refused to prosecute claiming the victim had "buyer's remorse," broke the back of a Senate campaign that wasn't supposed to lose. Since 2010, this race has become a model for Democrats to alienate women and independents from wedge-issue hardliners.

We get that the GOP bench is very thin for 2014, but re-running Ken Buck is not the answer.

In fact, the suggestion seems almost…masochistic.

Senators Bennet and Udall: Make Farm Bill History

"Why use up the forests which were centuries in the making and the mines which required ages to lay down, if we can get the equivalent of forest and mineral products in the annual growth of the hemp fields?"

~Henry Ford


The United States Senate will have the opportunity to make history this week while debating the 2013 Farm Bill: a full debate on the re-legalization of industrial hemp via an expected floor amendment.  The crop of our forefathers.  A crop deemed so critical to our nation's future that farmers in Colonial America were under a mandate to grow the crop.  The crop that made possible Ben Franklin's Colonial Free Press.  The crop that clothed our early military; protected our pioneering ancestors as they crossed our vast prairies –  and counted 16 million acres of production in the 1862 Census. The crop USDA deemed so critical to national defense the federal prohibition was lifted during WWII.

It was a tragic confluence of events that lead to the demise of hemp.  Prohibition was in its waning days, and the federal bureaucracy built around alcohol seizure no longer had a mission – a focus on narcotics would be the lifeline for the bureaucracy.  Our nation was on the cusp of launching an economy mobilized by Rockefeller's new-found 'black gold'; the synthetic clothing market and the advent of the agricultural chemical industry was in its infancy at DuPont.   And media titan Randolph Hearst,  the owner of significant forestry assets, had launched an all-out media war on Hispanic immigrants and marijuana.

Thus was borne the "Marihuana Tax  Act of 1937";  legislation devised by Henry Anslinger and his uncle, Andrew Mellon of Mellon Banks to tax the production of industrial hemp.  And with the new tax, the production of hemp became an uneconomical alternative to the newly developed energy, synthetic clothing and chemical industry derived from fossil resources controlled by titans DuPont and Rockefeller.  Mellon was the banker of both DuPont and Rockefeller.  It's not terribly hard to do the math.  The more things change, the more they stay the same.

And with the enacting of the Marihuana Act came the demise of Henry Ford's "Iron Mountain" project where he had developed a sedan made of industrial hemp composites that was powered by ethanol fermented from hemp.  He had also developed an entire line of hemp-based  lubricants and industrial products.  

Forward to 1970 and the birth of our nations failed 'War on Drugs'.  Marijuana is defined as a Schedule 1 narcotic, on par with cocaine and heroine by the DEA, despite the fact the Congressional intent stated emphatically: 


    "nothing in this Act is meant to prohibit the production of hemp for industrial purposes"


In 2012 Colorado voters passed a constitutional amendment, Amendment 64, which in addition to legalizing adult use of marijuana also legalized the cultivation of industrial hemp by Colorado farmers.  Touting wide bi-partisan support, the amendment garnered more votes than our President.  The Colorado legislature acted swiftly and by Sine Die 2013 had put in place a regulatory framework for hemp.  The legislation passed third reading in both chambers with a unanimous vote.

Thus, an industry was borne.  Now the conflict between Federal and State law must be resolved.  And from this growing conflict between state and federal law (18 states took various legislative action on industrial hemp this year) was borne the "2013 Industrial Hemp Farming Act", known in Congress as S. 359 and H.R. 525.  Both Chambers tout broad, bi-partisan support.  But this legislative journey remains unclear.  The Judiciary Committees were given jurisdiction in their respective chambers.  In both cases, no hearings have been scheduled.  It's even more unclear whether the bills will be heard at all this year, given they are in the queue behind Immigration Reform.

Is there a better, more efficient way to move this legislation on an issue that broad support from across the political spectrum?  Yes – a floor amendment during the full Farm Bill debate in the Senate this week.  And we need the pro-active leadership of our two Senators.

Industrial Hemp has the potential to add a new, vibrant  addition to our agricultural 'horn of plenty' in Colorado.  The crop requires few chemical inputs; its water requirements are minimal when compared to many traditional crops across the eastern plains and western slope.  Its ability to remediate soils has at the potential to heal salt-laden agricultural soils and mitigate heavy metal contamination from old mines and superfund sites.  The United States is the largest consumer market of hemp products in the world – a $400 million annual market demand met exclusively from imports.  American farmers remain the only agriculturalists in the industrialized world to be prohibited from its cultivation.  

And while giving Colorado farmers a crop alternative to help them meet their ever-growing water resource challenges, the crop also gives us significant environmental benefits:  its ability to extract enormous amounts of atmospheric carbon from the atmosphere.  Hemp extracts four times the CO2 annually per acre than does a standing forest.  Annual dry biomass yields per acre range from 2-3x the amount of biomass produced by either a corn or switchgrass crop;  ethanol-from-hemp reduces the greenhouse-gas-emissions by 86% when compared to transportation fuels from petroleum.

It is expected that Senator Mitch McConnell will introduce a floor amendment to the 2013 Farm Bill on Tuesday that would remove hemp as a Schedule I narcotic, legalizing its cultivation under federal law, and moving jurisdiction of the crop from DEA to USDA.

Despite recent demands on House members from the Heritage Foundation to not move on any legislation, (which also includes the Farm Bill) the action will be in the Senate on Tuesday.  A unique opportunity for our Senators to lead the fight for the passage of this amendment – and stand with the 55% of their fellow Coloradans who so wisely legalized the crop six months ago.  

Senators Bennet and Udall, please take a proactive role on this potentially historic event.  Farmers, conservationists, the environment, our natural resources and the state economy will be the benefactors of your leadership.  



Delving in to the immigration reform package

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

In the midst of the craziness of the news of the last week, it’s little wonder that the largest reform to our nation’s immigration policies ended up taking a back burner in news coverage.  Lost in the shuffle were a few items worth of our consideration here in Colorado.

The bi-partisan bill from the Senate’s Gang of Eight includes both a fund for science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education and an increase of the H-1B visa cap. An increase in the cap was needed to help companies fill the thousands of vacancies in high-skilled jobs. The bill proposes increasing the cap from 65,000 per year to 110,000, and allowing the number of H-1B visas available to continue to expand up to a maximum of 180,000 to better track with demand. Given that all the H-1B visas were snatched up within the first few days of them becoming available this year, it is clear that this expansion is necessary.

It is also encouraging to see a national fund to provide a significant stream of money to all states, which would expand opportunities for more students to pursue STEM fields. The STEM education fund would be paid for with an increase in fees on green cards and wouldn’t present a new cost to the American taxpayer.  Our country faces an immediate and long-term crisis with the shortage of qualified workers in STEM fields as the number of available science, technology, engineering, and mathematics jobs far outpaces our ability to fill them.

While the increase in H-1B visas helps patch this significant current problem, providing a fund to encourage and retain students in STEM fields is needed to support the jobs of the future. As evidence: Over the last few years, Colorado employers requested on average 2,735 H-1B visas per year for foreign, temporary workers, 74% of which were requested to fill STEM jobs.

If anything, the designated STEM fund in the reform package should be even stronger. The U.S. ranked 41st out of 42 nations in innovation based capacity, according to the Information Technology & Innovation Foundation and 35 states are spending less on education than they were five years ago.

If we’re going to improve, there is also important work to be done in erasing disparities in STEM fields. African Americans and Latinos are 28 percent of the U.S. population, but only seven percent of the STEM workforce. Additionally, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, women will fill just 29 percent of the 1.4 million computing jobs expected to open through 2018.

Strengthening the nation’s STEM education pipeline as a part of immigration reform will also strengthen America’s economy and its ability to be an innovation leader well into the future.

Bennet Raising Big Money for DSCC

It came as little surprise when Sen. Michael Bennet confirmed in December that he would take over as Chair of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) for the 2014 election cycle. Bennet had withstood entreaties to run the DSCC for the 2012 cycle, which he could reasonably avoid after having just finished a brutal 2010 election of his own, but this is one of those "requests" that you really can't continue to refuse if you want the Majority leadership to actually consider your interests for key Senate committee assignments.

If you're wondering why Senate Democrats wanted Bennet to Chair the DSCC, it comes down to one word: fundraising. Bennet is pretty damn good at raising money, and as the Denver Post explains, the DSCC just set a new fundraising record for the first quarter of the year:

The fundraising arm for the Senate Democrats, headed by Sen. Michael Bennet, has raised more money in the first quarter of 2013 than at any other time in the committee's history, according to documents obtained by The Denver Post.

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee — which exists primarily to keep and gain Democratic seats in the U.S. Senate — raised $5.3 million in March and has brought in $13.6 million in 2013 alone, according to documents the committee will file with the Federal Elections Commission on Monday…

While it's still early in the 2014 election cycle, Senate Democrats are far out-raising the similar fundraising arm of the Senate Republicans. In the first quarter, Republicans raised $6.8 million, compared with the $13.6 million brought in by the Dems.The Republicans reported raising $3.2 million in March.

Senate Democrats have their work cut out for them when it comes to keeping the majority in 2014, and Bennet will play a significant role in the outcome. We have no doubt that being Chair of the DSCC is a pain-in-the-ass, but a successful 2014 would ensure Bennet a position near the top of the Senate Democratic ladder and would certainly give him a nice head-start into his own re-election efforts in 2016.

Udall, Bennet Back Colorado Dems As Federal Gun Control Dies

Joe Hanel and Stefanie Dazio of the Durango Herald report:

Sens. Michael Bennet and Mark Udall voted Wednesday in favor of a failed amendment that would have strengthened federal gun controls.

Both Colorado Democrats supported a bipartisan amendment that would have expanded background checks to gun shows and the Internet.

That amendment, one of seven that failed in the Senate on Wednesday night, was rejected 54-46. None of the seven amendments received the required 60 votes to pass.

“It’s a sad day for our nation when a minority of the U.S. Senate has blocked commonsense legislation that is supported by 90 percent of Americans,” Udall said in a statement. [Pols emphasis]

FOX 31's Eli Stokols:

Obama blamed the gun lobby that “willfully lied” about the amendment and members of his own party who “caved to the pressure” and voted against the amendment.

Five Democrats voted against the measure, most of them representing more conservative states and facing uncertain reelection prospects next year (Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, voted no for procedural reasons only so that he can re-introduce the amendment should it magically garner additional support).

Four Republicans voted in favor of the proposal, which would have closed the so-called “gun show loophole”, something Colorado did a decade ago, and require background checks for all online gun sales.

In addition to their vote to expand background checks on firearm sales, Colorado Sens. Mark Udall and Michael Bennet also voted for the amendment to limit magazine capacity. These votes resolve what was a significant concern among local Democrats, the possibility that one or both U.S. Senators would essentially vote against the similar legislation passed in the Colorado General Assembly this year. It's politically very good for Colorado Democrats that everybody got through this debate more or less on the same page at all levels.

Sens. Udall and Bennet did vote against the amendment from Sen. Diane Feinstein to ban some 180+ specific models of so-called "assault weapons." There is some consternation about that among supporters, but in Colorado this year, no attempt was made to ban any specific model of firearm–and the closest to a bill regulating assault weapons was a liability measure that was pulled by its sponsor. In the near term, especially after yesterday's result, any kind of federal assault weapons ban campaign is likely to be at best a flanking effort in a campaign to get background check expansions passed. Of all the amendments debated yesterday, federal background check expansion is by far the most popular, and we do expect to see it again very soon.

Opposition to background check expansion at the federal level relied on many of the same absurd arguments we heard at the state level: that the bill would lead to a "gun registry," that it "bans private gun sales," and our favorite idiotic tautology, "criminals don't obey laws." Despite the polls that show support for closing background check loopholes of all descriptions at near-unanimous highs, 80% or more reliably, the gun lobby's legendary influence in Washington killed this legislation with many of the same tired falsehoods we've already refuted in Colorado.

Those who opposed the proposal argued that it would lead to a federal registry of all firearms, something Democrats and even Republican Sen. John McCain, who voted yes on the amendment, dismissed as a scare tactic.

It's another sad story of Washington gridlock, but Colorado Democrats can at least be a little proud.

Bennet, Romanoff Burying the Ol’ Hatchet?

Burying hatchet and/or digging to China

Burying hatchet and/or digging to China

Most Pols readers will not soon forget the odd, long, bruising, and odd battle between Andrew Romanoff and Sen. Michael Bennet in the 2010 Democratic primary for U.S. Senate. The weirdness began in early 2009 with Gov. Bill Ritter's out-of-left-field appointment of Bennet to fill the seat vacated by Ken Salazar, who accepted President Obama's nomination for Secretary of the Interior. Democrats weren't particularly excited about Bennet's appointment, largely because he was unknown outside of Denver. There was also a good deal of lingering resentment that Romanoff did not get the nod from Ritter.

Inexplicably, Romanoff then waited until August to finally jump into the Primary, giving Bennet lots of time to raise money and convince Colorado Democrats that he was the right man for the job. Romanoff raised just enough money to be a pain in the ass for Bennet, but not nearly enough to overcome Bennet's huge head start (not to mention his connections to President Obama). Bennet overcame some last-minute negative ads from Romanoff and ended up with an 8-point victory before going on to defeat Republican Ken Buck in the General Election. Romanoff, Bennet, and many of their respective supporters carried some obvious lingering resentment well past Election Day. 


Delegation Scores from LCV’s 2012 National Environmental Scorecard

The League of Conservation Voters released their 2012 National Environmental Scorecard today [Wednesday].  The Colorado congressional delegation split as one might expect:

U.S. Senate: Senator Michael Bennet (D), 100 – Senator Mark Udall (D), 93

U.S. House: Rep. Diana DeGette (D), 97 – Rep. Jared Polis (D), 100 –  Rep. Scott Tipton (R), 11 – Rep. Cory Garnder (R), 11 – Rep. Doug Lamborn (R), 6 – Rep. Mike Coffman (R), 9 –  Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D), 83

The Scorecard reflects the U.S. Senate’s work in defending against the U.S. House of Representatives’ unprecedented assault on our nation’s environmental and public health safeguards during the second session of the 112th Congress, a time when extreme weather events fueled by climate change were becoming all too common across the country.


Bennet Plays Key Role In Latest Immigration Proposal

UPDATE: Statement from Colorado Democratic Party chairman Rick Palacio:

With this afternoon’s announcement from eight U.S. Senators, including Colorado’s own Michael Bennet, of a bipartisan framework for comprehensive immigration reform, a solution to this problem is a real possibility. That a Colorado voice, especially that of Senator Bennet, is helping to drive this discussion is no accident.
“Our state is on the leading edge of this issue and understands the need to fix a broken immigration system,” said Colorado Democratic Party Chairman Rick Palacio. “As we welcome the new members to our community, we realize that sensible federal policies are needed to solve many of the complicated challenges that immigrants, their families, businesses, schools, and ultimately everyone must deal with. Between his leadership in developing the Colorado Compact and his work on today’s framework, Senator Bennet has addressed the complicated and emotional questions surrounding immigration and offered clear solutions. And as challenging as that is, it is what Coloradans expect and what the country has been calling for. Most of all, it is welcome progress.”


CO GOP Chair Ryan Call to be Challenged by DougCo GOP Chair Baisley

( – promoted by Colorado Pols)

When it comes to Ryan Call, Ken Clark and Jason Worley are not impressed.

In the past week on Grassroots Radio Colorado (airing weekdays from 5 to 7 p.m. on KLZ 560 AM), show hosts Worley and Clark have been heard to call for current GOP State Party Chairperson Call to own up to his responsibility for the devastating November election losses “like a man”, and step down from his leadership position.

Last Friday on Grassroots, Arapahoe County Tea Party Chair Randy Corporon was filling in as guest host, as he often does.  Worley and Clark were on a “top secret” special assignment.  The guests that day, freshman State Representative Justin Everett (HD-22) and John Ransom from Townhall.com/Finance pleaded with Corporon to throw his hat into the race for the GOP Chairmanship.  Their enthusiastic request was modestly evaded.

And then yesterday, Mark Baisley, Douglas County GOP Chair, appeared on Grassroots to announce his candidacy for the position.

Ryan Call probably isn’t too worried.

He has endorsements from approximately half of the current County GOP Committees that will eventually vote to decide who leads the state party, as well as support from GOP notables such as AG John Suthers, and Rep. Cory Gardner.

Call’s ascendency two years ago came in a firestorm of name calling and finger pointing around previous Chairman Dick Wadhams, who withdrew his candidacy for reelection after the debacle that was The McInnis-Maes-Tancredo Show and Ken Buck’s losing challenge to Democrat Michael Bennet’s senate seat.  

Stating his frustration with trying to herd the un-herdable cats of Colorado’s GOP, Wadhams said in a recent Lynn Bartels blog post for the Denver newspaper’s political blog, The Spot (January 11, 2013) “he was “tired of the nuts who have no grasp of what the state party’s role is.”

In the same column, Bartels quoted Wadhams pointing to fundraising as another piece of the fallout from his decision to withdraw. He said donors were reluctant to give money to a GOP that is “run by an idiot.”  Wadhams said that Call was the donors’ pick for the CO leadership position.

The “idiot” refered to in Wadham’s quote is most likely Senator Ted Harvey, who was challenging Call at the time with support from liberty and grassroots groups in the GOP.  

Could the same divisive scenario be setting up for this spring’s GOP Chair election?  Well, Baisley is no Ted Harvey, although they appear pretty similar on paper.

Worley and Clark were happy to give Baisley a soapbox to announce his candidacy, as they have with other successful GOP candidates.  But they didn’t hold back with their criticism of Call, who they said runs a party that’s not all too inviting to liberty groups’ participation.  Worley points out that he and Call went to high school together, but they still butt heads.

Callers to Grassroots Radio last Friday echoed some of Wadhams’ concerns from 2011, namely the danger of splitting a minority Party whose wounds continue to weep along ideological fractures, and the proven abilities of a candidate to deliver in the Chairmanship’s two biggest responsibilities:  winning elections and fundraising.

Baisley addressed both concerns.

He asserted his longstanding friendship with Ryan Call and said they have always worked well together.  He’s offering to unite the all who believe in limited government with his “model of respect,”  where everyone is invited to share their talents in defeating the Dems – apparently to include  “nuts” and “idiots.”

As proof of his capabilities, Baisley cited his success in organizing over 3,000 Douglas County volunteers, activitating a localized ground game for getting out the vote, and the notable coup of electing seven conservatives to the Douglas County School Board which eventually tossed the American Federation of Teachers union from the district.

As far as fundraising, Baisley reduced its importance as secondary to the ground game, but noted his successes, just the same.  On the finance committee during Bruce Benson’s tenure ten years ago as leader of the Colorado GOP, he helped raise more than $10 million for the Party.  In Douglas County this election cycle, enough funds were generated to cover all GOTV costs, max out a contribution to Mike Coffman’s congressional campaign, while filling in gaps in other legislative races, he said.

Addressing Ryan Call’s claim of early support from the counties, Worley and Clark enthusiastically point out that new leadership in the counties committees could undermine some of those initial endorsements.

Then  Baisley said he had heard from some county leaders, who said if they’d known Baisley was running for the Chair, they would never have endorsed Call.   They promised Baisley they wouldn’t be seen campaigning actively for Call.

It all sounds very encouraging for Baisley, if you can believe Grassroots Radio.

But can he herd cats?