Big Line Update: Brophy Moves Up

Following the first Republican Gubernatorial debate earlier this week (which we live-blogged), we're shuffling the deck at the top of the Governor Line.

While Tom Tancredo and Scott Gessler declined to attend the debate, we still see them as the frontrunners for the GOP nomination. But the second tier has a new leader: Sen. Greg Brophy. His strong performance in the GOP debate made him stand out significantly from former state Sen. Mike Kopp, whom we had previously listed as being on the heels of Gessler and Tancredo.

Greg Brophy leads the second tier

Brophy, left, outperformed the other three Republicans at Tuesday’s GOP debate.

While Brophy performed well in the debate, Kopp was downright awful. One debate does not a candidate make, of course, but this was the first chance the public had to see of Kopp, and perception matters a great deal in politics. Kopp was surprisingly ill-at-ease and unprepared for many of the questions. One of the more telling lines from Kopp was a reference to his claim that he has broad Republican support. "[Former U.S. Senators] Hank Brown and Bill Armstrong will support me," said Kopp. Armstrong has officially endorsed Kopp, but Brown has not — perhaps waiting to see what he does with his campaign before lending his name. It may be that many Republicans expected more from Kopp and have not seen it (Kopp had a pretty weak first fundraising quarter).

Regardless of what happens with Kopp, Brophy has seized the spotlight on the GOP side as we near the Republican caucuses, and that momentum gives us cause to move him up on the Line.

Live-Blogging GOP Gubernatorial Debate

*NOTE: Unless something is in quotations, everything here is paraphrased in order to post quickly.

 

INITIAL REACTION:

Brophy was the clear winner here, and it wasn't close. He was much more at ease and friendly, and he spoke to specifics much better than any other candidate. Based on this debate, he's the only one of the four candidates who you could conceivably envision being Governor. Brophy also wisely worked out with House beforehand to back each other up on the question of, "If you don't win the Primary, who would you root for?"

This was an absolute disaster for Mike Kopp, who was already in trouble coming into the debate. When Tancredo and Gessler pulled out of the debates, it created a tiered dynamic in which Kopp fell into the bottom half of contenders. He could have used a strong performance here to show that he belongs among the top tier, but that slot should be filled now by Brophy.

Steve House is a middle-aged white male who has spent his career as a "businessman." He is every bit as drab and boring as that previous sentence.

Jason Clark might be insane. Seriously.

7:32: And that wraps it up.

—–

7:25: Closing statements…

Clark: I went to West Point, so I know how to lead…blah, blah. Talking about Elon Musk wanting to build a plant to build batteries, says he would invite him to Colorado and take him skiing in Aspen.

House: I'm a business leader…snore.

Kopp: This is about the citizen's process, not about the candidates. Our state has been let down. John Hickenlooper is a nice man, but he has let us down. My philosophy is empowering people. Giving power back to people. "We're supposed to be free."

1. Build a booming economy around low taxes

2. Cut Government

3. Fight against federal government

4. Fight against Obamacare

5. Start a Unicorn farm

Brophy: I am the only candidate who has been to all 64 states. I've been fighting for energy companies my entire life (that's going in a commercial if Brophy ends up as the nominee). We're going to have a world-class education system, great economy….

Basically, if you elect any of these four men, everything will be good and nothing will be bad.

—–

7:22: If you can't win, who would you like to see win?

Brophy: Steve House, because of business experience.

Clark: That's a rhetorical question, because I'm going to win. I don't play for second place. Clark is like a walking late-night infomercial.

Plunkett prods him to answer the question. Clark finally says, "Nobody."

House: Brophy. Sounds like House and Brophy have a nice alliance.

Kopp: "Scott."

Room is quiet, waiting to see if he'll say more. He doesn't…for a moment. Was talking about Scott Gessler. Was that a joke???

(more…)

Gessler v. Tancredo! Twitter debate TODAY at 11am

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, February 17th, 2014
CONTACT: Peter Boils, @PeterBoils via Twitter, or email peterboilsco@gmail.com

DENVER: Denver’s most dangerous radio personality, @PeterBoils, invites the public to join the two true leaders in the 2014 Colorado gubernatorial race–@FalsoTancredo & @NotScottGessler–in a virtual twitter debate Tuesday, February 18th at 11:00 AM MST. Tune in on the only stations that matter: #COpolitics and #NoShow

“Refuse to bow to the lamestream media,” said combative radio personality Peter Boils. “We’ll debate the real issues that really matter to real ‘Mericans, such as ‘why shouldn’t we shut down the government?’ ‘Who let all these immigrants in our state?’ ‘Who supports Personhood the mostest?’ And the most important question on the mind of every real American: ‘If we can’t impeach Obama, can we at least deport him?’”

“Greg Brophy says I’m not prepared to be governor, but the truth is, I was just waiting for the right moment,” said former Republican, then American Constitution Party, and now born-again Republican gubernatorial candidate @FalsoTancredo. “With Twitter, I can take the time to think about my answers and avoid self-inflicted wounds. Except they’re not self-inflicted, Democrats inflict them. Either way, this is going to be great!”

“After hearing that @FalsoTancredo has pulled out of real-life debates, I realized that hiding from the voters for as long as possible is actually a great idea,” said @NotScottGessler. “The most important thing in any campaign is to not let people see your true colors until it’s too late. Wait, did I just say that?”

“Tune in tomorrow,” says Boils, “and hear what every true conservative wants to hear from these two great leaders. Which is, naturally, whatever conservatives want to hear!”

Who: @PeterBoils, @FalsoTancredo, @NotScottGessler, with possible appearance by @BothWaysBob4CO
What: The REAL debate for Colorado
Where: The Twitters: #COpolitics & #NoShow
When: 11am MST
Why: For Liberty!

Money Badger don’t care

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

UPDATE: Despite earlier news reports, there is apparently no meeting of the Joint Budget Committee and Scott Gessler occurring today. We'll update when we know what the deal is.

—–

POLS UPDATE: The long-awaited showdown between the Joint Budget Committee and Secretary of State Scott Gessler over his office's big budget shortfall is scheduled for later today. Lest anyone think this is simply a partisan squabble, here's GOP Rep. Cheri Gerou criticizing Gessler's fiscal irresponsibility in no uncertain terms:

GEROU: When he came into office, I believe there was a pretty good cash fund balance. And it just seems like we've been dealing with two years of spending, spending, spending, that we've gotten to this point.

We'll update with coverage from today's hearing. Original post follows.

—–

So much for the “party of fiscal responsibility.”

Colorado’s Secretary of State Scott Gessler has never been one to play by the rules. Since taking office in 2011, Gessler has faced scandal after scandal over his own efforts to tilt the playing field to his and his party’s advantage. Gessler is the only statewide politician in office today in Colorado who has been found by the state’s Independent Ethics Commission to have “violated the public trust for private gain.”

Now we learn Gessler can’t even manage his own department’s budget. After slashing fees on business registrations and other services performed by his office, news reports have revealed that the Secretary of State’s office is millions of dollars in the red. Gessler blames political opponents, but these were his decisions. Cutting fees on business is a great way to pander while running for higher office, but taxpayers shouldn’t be on the hook for it.

Send a message to Gessler right now: tell him you expect better.

Don’t take our word for it. Even the conservative Grand Junction Sentinel [1] says Gessler is wrong to blame others for his own mismanagement:

"Unfortunately for the [Joint Budget Committee], Gessler loves an audience and he will undoubtedly use the grandstand the budget committee is providing him to loudly proclaim his victimhood. But the JBC holds the higher moral ground in this dispute. Gessler got himself into this predicament by sharply cutting business fees for his cash-funded office, when his office had a large surplus several years ago, refusing to put a portion of the surplus into the state general fund as lawmakers demanded."

(more…)

Gessler spurns Feb. 18 Denver Post debate but won’t rule out primary debate on conservative talk radio

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Republican gubernatorial candidates Scott Gessler and Tom Tancredo have said they won't participate in primary debates, but Gessler changed course slightly Thursday, telling KHOW host Mandy Connell that he wouldn't rule out a talk-radio debate organized by Connell.

Connell: Scott, let's just say, if I were to have all the candidates on the show at the same time, would you participate in that, on the air? I mean we could really get into some issues.

Gessler: Maybe. Probably not at this point. My focus really is on the convention. You know, I have an election coming up on April 12, and that is the state assembly to get access to the ballot to be nominated to the Republican-primary ballot. So, my focus and strategy is, reaching out to the people who participate in that, whether it's in big groups, media, as well as individual. And so I can't tell you it would fit within that approach, but we'll talk. I won't rule it out. [BigMedia emphasis]

Connell: There will be donuts, Scott.

Listen to Gessler tell KHOW he won't rule out talk-radio debate 2-6-2014

Connell and other conservative talkers have the ear of the exact group Gessler says he wants to reach: Republican primary voters. KHOW and KNUS are obviously in the "media" category that Gessler mentions above. So, Connell is in a position to exert some serious pressure on Gessler and Tanc.

The question is, will Connell push the issue (maybe offer lox and bagels in addition to donuts?). If not, will KNUS' Dan Caplis, who's said on air that he hopes to have candidates debate on his show, push the radio-debate idea? Connell seems pissed, as you can see below from her Feb. 6 show, so maybe she'll persevere:

Connell: I hate this decision [not to debate]. I'm not going to lie. I don't like it… Isn't there any part of you that thinks you're doing a disservice to voters on this?

Gessler: I'm spending my time elsewhere reaching out to voters in a pretty intensive way. And by the way, I'm happy to send you my schedule. You're welcome to come, and ask me any tough question you would like.

Connell: I will. You better be careful what you invite, Scott, because I will come.

Connell should up the ante and put a KHOW all-candidate event on Gessler's schedule.

“If you can’t take on Lynn Bartels and Kurtis Lee right now, how on Earth are you going to take on John Hickenlooper in September?”

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

rmgobrophy

​Republican gubernatorial candidate Greg Brophy took a playful swipe at Denver Post reporters Lynn Bartels and Kurtis Lee yesterday, saying on a Denver radio station that if Scott Gessler and Tom Tancredo "can't take on Lynn Bartels and Kurtis Lee right now, how on Earth are [Gessler and Tancredo] gong to take on John Hickenlooper in September?"

On KNUS' Mandy Connell show, Brophy was making the point that Gessler and Tancredo, who say they won't participate in primary debates, including a Feb. 18 debate sponsored by The Denver Post, should subject themselves to tough questions now, to prepare themselves for battle with Hick, if one of them wins the primary and faces Hick.

Brophy, for example, referred to questions about Tancredo's broken term-limits pledge and his support for gun control, and Gessler's eithics troubles and problems with his office budget.

I'd rather have trained journalists (Bartels, Lee) asking Tancredo questions about term limits, for example, than a geologist (Hick), who's known to be too nice. That's why debates are moderated by journalists! They're the smart ones in the room.

(more…)

Caplis reminds Gessler that talk-radio interview is nothing like a candidate debate

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

I was worried that the re-constituted Dan Caplis radio show (minus the occasional left-leaning questions from Craig Silverman) would turn out to be a combination of ritualistic chest-thumping and high-school cheerleading for Colorado Republicans.

But Caplis isn't giving his GOP guests complete cheerleader treatment.

For example, Caplis has been trying to convince GOP gubernatorial candidates Scott Gessler and Tom Tancredo, both of whom have refused to participate in Republican primary debates, to reconsider and do the debates.

And when they offer up lame excuses, Caplis calls them on it. For example, see this exchange on Caplis' KNUS 710-AM show this moring:

Caplis: At the end of the day, what I am asking, as a consumer, is 'Hey, if you are not going to participate in these debates, I hope you spend whatever time you need to refining your skill set. You're a really talented guy, but whoever the nominee is, they are really going to have to do well in these debates to expose the true John Hickenlooper.

Gessler: Here's what I will give you as a suggestion. Invite me on your radio show, and ask me tough questions. And I think I'll respond pretty well.

Caplis: I just think it's a different dynamic live under the lights with your opponent who is trying to duck and weave, etcetera. But, hey, nobody who knows you would doubt your abilities. I think it's just a matter of training for this particular big event.

Listen to Caplis tell Gessler that his talk radio show isn't like a candidate debate 2.6.14

Okay, it's a bit like a cheerleading session, but still. Caplis gets credit for having enough self-awareness to know that conservative talk radio isn't, in the actual real world, like a candidate debate, which takes place out of the echo chamber with moderators and even, gasp, real people possibly asking questions.

But, if Caplis does take Gessler up on his offer to practice debating on KNUS, one wonders if Gessler would allow his opponents to call the Caplis show for a little candidate-versus-candidate on-air chit chat.

(more…)

Bob Beauprez Getting Close to Running…for Governor?

UPDATE: One of the first things Bob Beauprez will need to answer for as a gubernatorial candidate is his glowing praise in 2010 for prospective 2014 opponent Tom Tancredo. Check out this video we were just forwarded of Beauprez introducing Tancredo at a 2010 campaign event:

Apparently, things have changed.

—–

Both Ways Bob Beauprez

“Both Ways” Bob Beauprez (right).

Former Republican Congressman Bob Beauprez really, really, really wants to run for elected office again. Beauprez has wanted to jump in a high-profile race ever since 2006, when he ended his bid for Governor by losing in a landslide to Democrat Bill Ritter. It wasn't just that Beauprez lost in 2006 — it goes much deeper than that. Beauprez's 2006 campaign for Governor is widely considered the worst statewide campaign in the history of Colorado, and many Republicans have never forgiven him for not only botching that race, but for giving up his incumbency as a sitting member of Congress in CD-7 (a seat that Republicans have never even come close to reclaiming since Ed Perlmutter won the open seat in 2006). Beauprez has comically (and sadly, on occasion) tried floating his own name for Senate or Governor in the years since his 2006 debacle, but his fishing expeditions have been about as successful as casting a line in his bathtub.

Nevertheless, rumors are growing that Beauprez has moved beyond the stage of looking longingly at a statewide race — and into a new position of preparing to make his candidacy official…for Governor.

Yes, Governor.

Beauprez has seen the polling numbers on the Governor's race, which show Tom Tancredo as an incredibly weak frontrunner on the GOP side. Beauprez has seen the anemic fundraising numbers, with Tancredo outraising other Republicans but also spending more money than he raised in Q4. The Gubernatorial race probably looks pretty enticing to Beauprez, who has one major advantage: He can self-fund a campaign and quickly expend more resources than his fellow GOP candidates who are restricted by the low contribution limits for Governor. Yet, we are still surprised to hear that Beauprez is leaning towards running for Governor because of that one giant albatross from 2006; Republicans have been there and done that with Beauprez before, and it was an absolute disaster.

(more…)

Hickenlooper’s Numbers Rebounding, Says New Q-Poll

hickandoppo

Welcome news for Democrats today in Quinnipiac University's latest polling of the Colorado gubernatorial race:

Colorado voters approve 52 – 39 percent of the job Gov. John Hickenlooper is doing and give him comfortable leads over possible Republican challengers, but are divided 45 – 45 percent on whether he deserves reelection this November, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released today. 

This is the first registered voter survey by the independent Quinnipiac (KWIN-uh-pe-ack) University in which Gov. Hickenlooper's approval rating tops 50 percent. There is a wide gender gap as women approve 60 – 29 percent while among men 44 percent approve and 48 percent disapprove. Approval is 84 – 6 percent among Democrats, but Republicans disapprove 63 – 28 percent. Independent voters are divided as 45 percent approve and 46 percent disapprove…

"His team may have tanked in the Super Bowl, but Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper gets a bit of good news in improving approval job numbers as no serious challenge to his reelection has been mounted yet," said Tim Malloy, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute. 

"Voters are divided on whether they want to give Gov. Hickenlooper four more years, but they aren't rallying around any potential challengers. They give the gov a 47 – 37 percent favorability while former U.S. Rep. Tom Tancredo gets a negative 25 – 31 percent favorability."

Gov. John Hickenlooper's re-elect number in this latest poll, split 45% each way, shows there is still lots of work to be done between now and the next election shoring up his standing among the full electorate. With that said, Hickenlooper's overall approval back over 50%, combined with the lack of a credible opponent, is an encouraging development for his campaign. In November, a plurality said Hickenlooper did not deserve re-election by 49-42%, so clearly his approval is on the rebound. And crucially, Hickenlooper beats every potential Republican opponent by at least 6 points in a poll with a margin of plus or minus 2.9%–meaning he is outside the margin of error against them all.

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There Will Be No GOP Gubernatorial Primary Debates This Year

Scott Gessler.

Scott Gessler.

​As the Denver Post's Lynn Bartels reports:

Secretary of State Scott Gessler is the latest Republican candidate for governor who won't participate in GOP primary debates or forums.

Gessler's campaign this week said he wouldn't attend a debate sponsored by The Denver Post on Feb. 18, and other candidates said he hasn't been at forums in recent weeks.

Last December, former Congressman Tom Tancredo said his campaign decided to nix primary debates, believing they only give Democrats fodder for the general election…

Obviously, the two frontrunners in the Republican gubernatorial primary announcing that they won't participate in debates or candidate forums puts an end to the prospect of them for all practical purposes. Make no mistake, this is a very significant development, at marked variance with recent primaries. In 2006, Bob Beauprez debated Marc Holtzman. In 2010, Scott McInnis even debated opponent Dan Maes, who went on to win the GOP nomination after McInnis imploded in a plagiarism scandal. We'd have to go back to the pre-Bill Owens era for more examples, because we're pretty sure he debated Republican primary opponent Tom Norton back in 1998 as well.

Tom Tancredo.

Tom Tancredo.

​The point is, it's really weird to have a gubernatorial primary in Colorado with no debates. Under no circumstances should the campaigns of Scott Gessler or Tom Tancredo be able to pass this off as business as usual. It is not. And at least one gubernatorial primary contender, Sen. Greg Brophy, is livid about having no chance to directly face his higher-profile opponents. Bartels:

"If you're not willing to get on the stage to debate me and the other guys, how on earth are you going to be prepared to go up against Gov. Hickenlooper?" Brophy said. [Pols emphasis]

(more…)

Gessler Slings Red Obama Meat To GOP Primary Voters

Scott Gessler.

Scott Gessler.

In a fundraising email today, GOP gubernatorial candidate Scott Gessler tries mightily to keep up with the kind of hard-charging rhetoric opponents like Tom Tancredo and Greg Brophy have down pat:

President Obama's State of the Union sounded more like a pep rally full of tired liberal ideas than a real presidential address. But with such abysmal approval ratings, it's no surprise he can't think up anything new to put our country back on track.

Once again, the President wants to raise the minimum wage, limiting the growth of small businesses and jobs. And then he wants to close Guantanamo Bay – a reminder that he respects the Constitutional rights of terrorists more than he does for us Americans. [Pols emphasis]

And of course he hinted at gun control and his persistent crusade to strip us of our Second Amendment rights. Mr. President, no matter how hard you try, there's no way I'd ever let your gun grab happen here in Colorado.

Wow! It's almost regrettable to point out that we passed as much "gun grabbing" in Colorado last year as Obama could ever realistically expect. But it's not like you're going to be quibbling about that after being "reminded" that President Barack Obama "respects the Constitutional rights of terrorists more than he does for us Americans!" If that doesn't get a Tancredo fan's juices flowing, we don't know what will. We suppose he could have asked for a long-form birth certificate.

You'll be pleased to know that Gessler does eventually mention his would-be general election opponent, Gov. John Hickenlooper, in (we are not making this up) the very last sentence of the email, seemingly as an afterthought:

As your governor, I promise that Colorado will stand up to President Obama to protect our economy and our rights. Stand with me to help me defeat Gov. Hickenlooper and give Colorado back its voice.

But for today, Gessler isn't running against Hickenlooper at all. A good message, Polsters?

Statewide Candidates Q4 Fundraising: Winners and Losers

El Paso County Clerk Wayne Williams.

Who has two thumbs and can’t fundraise for shit? This guy (Wayne Williams).

As we do after every fundraising quarter (see Q3 here), we've tallied up the money raised and spent by the various candidates running for statewide office in Colorado. There were some very clear winners for the period ending on December 31, 2013, and some equally clear losers.

Media reports often show how much money candidates have raised in a certain period, without taking into account how much money they have spent; Republican Tom Tancredo, for example, raised a decent $191k in Q4, but he spent $203k. That's a good quarter…if you are on his payroll.

Take a look after the jump to see how the numbers break down:

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Scott Gessler’s Blame Games Debunked Yet Again

Scott Gessler.

Scott Gessler.

An excellent story in today's Durango Herald from reporter Joe Hanel demolishes recent claims from Secretary of State Scott Gessler that last year's election modernization bill, House Bill 1303, has pushed his office's budget into the red.

The truth? Gessler just doesn't manage money very well.

Gessler’s office was running a $7 million surplus – so large it violated the law – in June 2012. A year later, it had fallen to less than $2 million, and now legislators are worried his budget will need extra money to keep it afloat.

Most of the shortfall traces back to Gessler’s cuts to business filing fees, according to budget numbers the Herald obtained through the Colorado Open Records Act. He also spent money on website upgrades to make it easier to register a business in Colorado.

Gessler, a Republican, is running for governor, and he touts his cuts to business fees on the campaign trail. But under the Capitol dome, he places blame for his collapsing budget on House Bill 1303, a mail-voting bill that Democrats passed last spring. [Pols emphasis]

“The issue basically with the budget is 1303’s been a budget-buster. It’s blown our budget out of the water,” Gessler said at a Dec. 19 oversight hearing at the Legislature…

As Hanel explains and an astute reader of our blog laid out earlier this month, Secretary of State Gessler has repeatedly cut the fees paid by businesses other entities to register with the state, including "holidays" where the fees were basically eliminated for months at a time. This was done in part to reduce the Secretary of State's then very large budget surplus to the level allowed by law. Costs of modernizing the election system after House Bill 1303 were incurred, Hanel reports, but only after Gessler's office had lost millions of dollars in revenue from reduced fees on businesses.

As a Republican candidate for governor in 2014, Gessler has used these cuts–which he was partly obligated to make–as proof of his pro-business credentials. In hindsight, though, it looks like Gessler cut fees much too aggressively, leaving him with no cushion to pay for implementing an election modernization bill authored by county clerks from both parties. And what about all the money spent unsuccessfully defending Gessler from last year's ethics complaint?

It's not unreasonable to be, you know, less sympathetic to Gessler's budget problems with all this in mind.

Hickenlooper Solidly In Front Of Q4 Fundraising

hickandoppo

Briefly noting for those of you keeping score, incumbent Gov. John Hickenlooper completely dominated fundraising in the 2014 gubernatorial race last quarter–as the Denver Post's Lynn Bartels reports:

Gov. John Hickenlooper reported raising more than $1 million last year for his re-election campaign — although his fundraising efforts in the third quarter were aimed at raising money for flood victims.

Former Congressman Tom Tancredo raised $409,200 last year, according to his campaign, which tops the list of contributions among the six Republicans vying to unseat Hickenlooper. He has $123,620 on hand. Secretary of State Scott Gessler comes in second with cash on hand with $114,196.

Tancredo raised $191,985 last quarter, and has $109,174 on hand. Gessler raised $123,000 in the last quarter, while state Sen. Greg Brophy raised $51,595 in the last quarter and has $45,746 on hand. Former Senate Minority Leader Mike Kopp, who only has been fundraising in the final quarter, raised $103,833 last quarter, and has $46,839 on hand.

FOX 31's Eli Stokols adds:

Former Senate Minority Leader Mike Kopp raised $103,833 in the last fundraising quarter of 2013, according to financial reports filed Wednesday.

It was the first indication of Kopp’s fundraising ability after the candidate entered the race late enough in the third quarter that he wasn’t required to post a report…

A closer look at the candidate’s report shows that Kopp wouldn’t have hit that target if not for his own $8,217 personal check to his campaign.

With Hickenlooper at least doubling his closest GOP contender, it's a great performance–especially, as Bartels notes, much of the quarter was spent raising disaster relief funds, not campaign funds. Tom Tancredo's relatively good haul, and continued leadership of the GOP primary field in polling, helps explain why his opponents are increasingly singling him out for attacks. Meanwhile, another poor performance for Sen. Greg Brophy, who for all his recent hits on Tancredo only managed to raise $52,000 last quarter, moves him closer to the inevitable exit.

There's nothing about these numbers that should make Republicans feel good. It will take more than halving Hickenlooper's fundraising total to convince us optimistic GOP rhetoric in this race has any basis in reality.