GOP Gubernatorial Candidates (Mostly) Get Bratty

Bob Beauprez, Scott Gessler, Tom Tancredo.

Bob Beauprez, Scott Gessler, Tom Tancredo.

FOX 31's Eli Stokols reports on the continuing reverberations from Tuesday's stunning ouster of U.S. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor by an underdog Tea Party-backed challenger:

With precious days left to sway primary voters, three of the four Colorado Republicans seeking their party’s gubernatorial nomination are aligning themselves with the anti-establishment wave that just toppled the second most powerful Republican in the U.S. House, majority leader Eric Cantor.

After Cantor lost his seat Tuesday night to a virtually unknown professor, Dave Brat, due to strong support from anti-Cantor forces within conservative talk radio and beyond, Tom Tancredo, Scott Gessler and Mike Kopp openly celebrated.

“If I were a drinking man, I’d have been drunk last night. I’d have been celebrating like crazy,” Tancredo said on the Peter Boyles Show Wednesday morning after the host referred to Cantor’s defeat as a “bitch-slapping.”

Eric Cantor (R-Toxicity).

Eric Cantor (R-Toxicity).

Jason Salzman has more on Tancredo's jubilation after Cantor's defeat, being a perceived validation of Tancredo's own anti-immigration brand. As for the one Colorado GOP gubernatorial candidate who is conspicuously not celebrating Cantor's defeat–the one Cantor endorsed, longtime Washington, D.C. insider Bob Beauprez? The Denver Post's Joey Bunch reports:

Beauprez characterized Cantor as “colleague and a friend.”

“”We worked together to pass the Bush tax cuts in 2003 and to support Israel,” he said, then referenced his ballot petition signatures. “While I appreciate his endorsement of our campaign, I’ve also been endorsed by more than 23,000 Coloradans who believe that I will be a conservative voice for them as Colorado’s next governor.”

Democrats and Republicans opposing Beauprez in e-mails and on Twitter Tuesday night challenged whether the Cantor loss signaled a distaste for such establishment candidates. Beauprez’s campaign spokesman, Roger Hudson, pointed out that Cantor made tactical campaign mistakes — essentially not campaigning nearly enough — that Beauprez won’t repeat…

One of these responses is definitely not like the others. Beauprez couldn't be in a worse position today, as a friend of Cantor's from Congress who sought and won Cantor's early endorsement in the Colorado gubernatorial race. Today, Eric Cantor's endorsement is the kiss of death in a Republican primary, of even less value than the Mitt Romney endorsement Beauprez was so oddly proud of last month. Rep. Cory Gardner faces similar problems as another erstwhile Cantor ally, which is probably why we haven't heard anything from Gardner about Cantor's defeat. Judging from Beauprez's response, Gardner's not going to have an easy time spinning this one.

What's the opposite of "coattails," again?

Charges Dropped In First of Gessler’s Four Vote Fraud Cases

Scott Gessler.

Scott Gessler.

As the Colorado Independent's John Tomasic reports:

The charge has been dropped in what’s believed to be the first voter fraud case set for trial since Secretary of State Scott Gessler urged district attorneys statewide to prosecute people who purportedly are cheating Colorado’s election system.

Mike Michaelis was scheduled to be tried today for allegedly procuring false information on a voter registration form. Michaelis, 41 and now in construction, registered voters in 2012 on behalf of Work for Progress, a nonprofit that, as its website states, campaigns “for social justice, a fair economy, consumer protection, clean energy, and the environment.”

On a voter registration form submitted to Michaelis by Aurora resident Lydie Kouadio, a box was marked saying she is a U.S. citizen. Gessler’s office determined she isn’t. Her name was among 155 voters the Secretary of State deemed to be suspicious. Last June, Gessler sent prosecutors lists of residents in their districts for possible prosecution…

Winnowing down from Secretary of State Scott Gessler's original breathless claim that "thousands" of noncitizens had voted illegally in Colorado elections, we are finally at the bottom line after countless man-hours spent by his office, county clerks, and local law enforcement in pursuit of this alleged epidemic of vote fraud–four incidents where Arapahoe County DA George Brauchler, far and away the state's most partisan political district attorney, managed to put together enough of a case to file charges.

And now there are three.

Soon after taking office in 2011, Gessler, a longtime Republican election lawyer, claimed there were 16,000 noncitizens registered to vote in Colorado. Soon after, he said he identified 11,805 people as potentially fraudulent voters because they used noncitizen identification for drivers’ licenses with which they registered to vote.

Those figures, he said, backed up his claims that there was a “gaping hole” in the state’s voting system.

But Gessler’s numbers were off — way off – even as he alerted a congressional panel about Colorado’s purported rash of voter fraud.

Far from being a major systemic problem, the "illegal voters" Gessler actually uncovered amount to far less than the number of ballots and voter registrations Gessler's office routinely loses. Gessler's original insistence that many thousands of illegally registered voters were lurking in the rolls has become one of the most thoroughly discredited claims put forward by a Colorado politician in recent years. It's tough to understand why the near-total failure to substantiate a problem Gessler warned about in such certain and ominous terms has not ended his political career.

Perhaps it has, but we can't write that eulogy until after the primary.

Mike Kopp Makes Pointless Announcement of Running Mate

Former Sen. Mike Kopp (R).

Mike Kopp now has a running mate. So, whatever.

You've got to hand it to Republican gubernatorial hopeful Mike Kopp: Nobody drinks more of his own Kool-Aid.

Kopp, one of four candidates running for the GOP nomination for Governor (and the fourth-most likely to win), held a press conference today in Denver to announce he has selected a "running mate" for a campaign that will almost certainly come to an unhappy ending in two weeks.  As Lynn Bartels of the Denver Post reports:

Former Sen. Mike Kopp has chosen former Pueblo city councilwoman Vera Ortegon, a Colombia-born microbiologist, as his running mate.

Kopp is the first of the four Republican candidates for governor to announce his selection for lieutentant governor.

He introduced Ortegon in Denver on Friday morning, and then prepared to make campaign stops in Pueblo and Colorado Springs. Before the official announcement, Ortegon hugged excited family and friends.

"I'm ready to unleash the Colombian hurricane," Kopp said as he introduced Ortegon, referring to her energy.

Um…yeah.

The Post has a great picture of Ortegon "pumping her fist" in front of Kopp at today's announcement, looking about as thrilled as someone whose table just got called at Red Lobster. Oh, to have been a fly on the wall for this conversation when Kopp convinced Ortegon to be his "running mate." This is a candidate, after all, who just finished a bicycle tour of Colorado's least-populated areas. Ortegon seems like she might be a nice choice for a GOP running mate, since she could conceivably help attract both women and Hispanic voters. This is a completely theoretical exercise, however, because Kopp is not going to be the Republican nominee for Governor…which means Ortegon gets to run around the state with him for two weeks for no real reason.

So, that sucks for Ortegon. But at least he waited until after his "bicycle tour" to officially include her in his campaign.

Boxed Into a Corner, Beauprez Starts Swinging

Republican Gubernatorial candidate Bob Beauprez is holding a press conference this afternoon to react to the news that a group of Democrats are going to start running negative ads against both Beauprez and fellow GOP candidate Tom Tancredo. If you missed the earlier story this morning, click here to read up.

Twitter Rittiman

We are anxiously awaiting the press conference because we're curious just how Beauprez is going to try to deal with this situation. 9News political reporter Brandon Rittiman tweeted this morning (at right) about one approach Beauprez will pursue — claiming that the ads show that Gov. John Hickenlooper is scared of Beauprez — but there's not much cattle to go with that hat.

The reality here is that Beauprez is facing a heck of a Catch-22 here. Let's take a look at his options:

1. Use the Democratic Ads to Claim Strength in Your Campaign
There are a whole bunch of reasons why this doesn't work, and all of them are related. Beauprez will try to say that the ads prove that Democrats are scared to face him in the General Election, but that response flies in the face of, well, reality. Beauprez's own campaign pollster just announced this week that he is trailing Tancredo for the Republican nomination. Magellan Strategies is the same organization that Beauprez used to conduct a likely voter survey in mid-April that showed him LOSING to Hickenlooper by a 50-35 margin.

If you are a glass-half-full kind of person, you could say that Beauprez isn't polling as bad as his 17-point loss to Democrat Bill Ritter in 2006. Of course, you would also have to acknowledge Beauprez's problems raising money and his $320,000 worth of "loans" to his campaign coffers. How and why any of this adds up to Hickenlooper being "afraid" to run against Beauprez is difficult to determine. Beauprez will try to show strength as a result of this ad, but nobody will believe him. The negative ads running against Beauprez are a reflection of his weakness as a candidate. Not the other way around.
 

“Both Ways” Bob Beauprez (right).

2. Try to Clarify Your Position on Obamacare — Which You Have Already Botched
If you haven't seen the Beauprez ad, take a look after the jump. This is where Beauprez plunges headfirst into the thorn bush with no exit in sight. As Colorado Pols first reported last month, Beauprez's own words on health insurance reform are in stark contrast to his anti-Obamacare message today. In fact, the second half of the Democratic ad targeting Beauprez focuses on his double-speak on health insurance reform. Or, if you rather, it's "Both Ways Bob" being "Both Ways Bob."

In other words, Beauprez is going to hold a press conference about a negative ad which he cannot refute because it is all in his own words. How, exactly, is that going to turn out well?
 

3. Use the Press Conference to Talk About Tancredo
As we've noted before in this space, one of the smartest things Tancredo did this election cycle was to refuse all debate invitations. Tancredo has been the de-facto winner of recent GOP Gubernatorial debates simply by not being in attendance; when Republicans talk about Tancredo not being there, all they are doing is making the story about Tom Tancredo. Beauprez might try to use his press conference to go after Tancredo and the Democratic ad running against him — but all that would do is draw more attention to Tancredo ad that calls him "too conservative" for Colorado.

Team Beauprez is doing its dardnest to make lemonade out of today's lemons. We don't see how Beauprez can possibly come out ahead here, but we're excited to find out what he has planned.

(more…)

Dem Coalition Goes Up with Ads Targeting Beauprez & Tancredo

As Eli Stokols of Fox 31 reports:

A newly-formed group called “Protect Colorado Values” is about to hit the airwaves with two different ads focused on the two Republican front-runners, Tom Tancredo and Bob Beauprez.

Both appear to be attack ads, but a single viewing of the two spots makes it clear what the group, a partnership between the independent expenditure committee of the Democratic Governors Association and other Colorado-based progressive donor organizations, is trying to do.

Simply put, the one-two punch is a thinly-veiled effort to help Tom Tancredo win the GOP gubernatorial nomination…

…A similar situation played out in 2010, when Democrats spent $500,000 near the end of a Republican primary to help finish off the scandal-tarnished Scott McInnis.

Republicans, left with Dan Maes as the party’s gubernatorial nominee, struggled to regroup and split further when Tancredo, running on a third party line, entered the race but failed to convince Maes to drop out.

As we wrote yesterday, the four Republican candidates for Governor are struggling to find the resources to promote their own campaigns, which makes this an ideal situation for other interested groups to get involved. By any estimation, Bob Beauprez and Tom Tancredo are the clear favorites for the Republican nomination for Governor, which makes them both the obvious targets in this case. It's not like the DGA and a coalition of local donors is going to spend a lot of money going after Scott Gessler or Mike Kopp.

This is not an unprecedented move; in fact, it is quite precedented. Stokols cites Democrats spending $500k in the 2010 Republican Primary, but the most well-known example in recent history is the decision by President Obama’s campaign in late 2011 to start running negative ads against Republican Mitt Romney – long before the Primary had been decided. With Republican candidates drawing attention to themselves as much as possible, Obama’s team reasoned that it was a good time to try to build the narrative they wanted around potential opponents such as Romney. Democrats appear to be doing the same thing in Colorado — taking advantage of a wide-open TV ad market to begin defining both Beauprez and Tancredo.

GOP Candidates for Governor: What’s Left in the Bank?

UPDATE: And…here comes our first 527 Committee, "Republicans Who Want to Win," which is supporting Beauprez.

—–

Ballots are beginning to criss-cross in the mail in advance of the June 24th Primary, so it's time for candidates to empty their campaign warchests into various forms of voter outreach. The most recent fundraising reports were made available on Monday, covering the last two weeks of May, and they offer an interesting look at what the four Republican gubernatorial candidates might be able to do to (or not do) as the Primary comes to an end.

Here's how each of the Republican candidates for Governor compare in terms of resources as of June 2, 2014 (Note: All expenditures listed are for the two-week period of 5/15-5/28)

Tom Tancredo
Tom Tancredo.

Expenditures: $73,700
Cash On Hand: $63,412
Bottom Line: If Tancredo can bring in enough money to air his motorcycle-riding TV ad, this race should be in the bag.
 

 

Bob Beauprez
BeauprezExpenditures: $69,900
Loans: $100,000
Cash On Hand: $115,995
Bottom Line: This is the moment of truth for Beauprez. If he can self-fund his campaign — and he thinks it will matter — now is the time to write that check (and $100k isn't enough).

Scott Gessler
Scott Gessler. Expenditures: $12,608
Cash On Hand: $69,142
Bottom Line: If Gessler has any hope at winning the June 24th Primary, it's going to come from outside PACs or 527 Committees. Gessler doesn't have the resources to win based on what he's got in his campaign account.

Mike Kopp
Former State Sen. Mike Kopp (R). Expenditures: $26,737
Cash On Hand: $30,034
Bottom Line: Do you know what kind of candidate goes on a week-long bicycle tour in June through some of the least-populated parts of the state? The kind that doesn't have any money and knows he won't can't win.
 

 

 

Citizens United: We are “The Media”

UPDATE: Victory! Thursday, June 5, 2014, Deputy Secretary of State Suzanne Staiert denied  Citizens United's petition to "be the media", i.e., to run political ads masquerading as documentaries, without disclosing donors.

From Brandon Rittiman's reporting on 9news:

The Colorado Secretary of State's office ruled that an upcoming documentary featuring state politicians "is an electioneering communication" and that it does not fall under any of the exemptions to state laws requiring political groups to disclose financial donors when running ads that mention candidates within 60 days of an election.

Practically, this means that Citizens United will have to disclose that it is a political organization in any TV ads running 60 days before the election. CU can still run a planned film documentary which "focuses on left-leaning groups and their influence on Colorado politicians and policies", according to David Bossie,  President of Citizens United.

Luis Toro, director of Colorado Ethics Watch, which challenged the Citizens United petition, said that CU could sue Secretary of State Gessler in Federal Court and get an injunction. It's all speculation at this point, stated Toro. David Bossie signalled his intent to take the case back to the Supreme Court, which has ruled in favor of Citizens United.

CitiCartoon by Kip Lyall at http://kiplyall.blogspot.com/2011/12/cartoon-citizens-united.htmlzens United,  the conservative "non-profit" which won a landmark Supreme Court decision allowing for unlimited dark money in politics, wants to spend big on political attack ads in Colorado without disclosing any donors.  

 

 

 

As an end-run around campaign finance laws, Citizens United is claiming to be a media organization,  composed of independent journalists just like Michael Moore, according to CU President David Bossie, quoted in the  9News interview below. CU  petitioned the Secretary of State to determine that its proposed political films should not be considered "electioneering" or "political expenditures".

Colorado Ethics Watch  pushed back in a hearing  through the Secretary of State's Office, which is  no friend to Colorado Ethics Watch.  That makes this decision pleasantly surprising.

(more…)

Bob Beauprez Still Losing, According to Poll from Bob Beauprez

Republican Bob Beauprez

Hee, hee

There is a certain amount of buffoonery associated with Republican gubernatorial candidate Bob Beauprez that almost makes us wish his name was always on the ballot. He's like a cartoon character that keeps standing on the big X on the sidewalk, even though he knows it will result in a piano falling on his head. He just can't help himself.

It happened again yesterday afternoon when new poll results were released at the behest of the Beauprez campaign. Only Bob Beauprez would go out of his way to remind you that he's not winning.

According to survey results released by Magellan Strategies — a Republican polling outfit commissioned by Beauprez's campaign — Tom Tancredo is still leading the GOP field for Governor. From Fox 31:

The survey of more than 900 likely Republican primary election voters, conducted May 28th and 29th, shows Tom Tancredo atop the field with 27 percent support. Beauprez, who didn’t enter the race until late February and has been spending a lot of his own money to try to consolidate the anti-Tancredo vote behind his campaign, is polling at 25 percent, within the poll’s three percent margin of error.

Here's the breakdown from the poll:

Tom Tancredo: 27%
Bob Beauprez: 25%
Scott Gessler: 13%
Mike Kopp: 10%
Undecided: 25%

Beauprez is obviously trying hard to consolidate support among likely Republican voters, a task made all the more difficult by his historically-awful 2006 campaign for Governor. Clearly Team Beauprez thinks it needs to convince GOP voters that Beauprez is not a complete disaster as a candidate — though it might be wise to listen to a different group of consultants at this point. Magellan Strategies is the same group that Beauprez paid in March to conduct a survey showing that Gov. John Hickenlooper would absolutely kick the shit out of him in November (results that ended up in the hands of Politico).

Who’s the Biggest Loser of them All?

Republican gubernatorial candidate Scott Gessler launched an ad yesterday attacking his rival Tom Tancredo as a loser because Tanc lost his 2010 campaign for governor.

The conservative radio world isn't buying Gessler's attack.

In a conversation with Tancredo a couple weeks ago, here's what KNUS' Dan Caplis had to say on the topic:

CAPLIS: I like Scott, but I thought his shot on you was very unfair…And here’s why. I agree with you. I think it was the best race you ever ran—-that race for governor. I think you did something very noble in trying to bail out, you know, a terrible situation, created by the Scott McInnis / Dan Maes mess.

TANCREDO: Yeah. Yeah.

CAPLIS: And it’s so interesting. People forget. I mean, you ran a very good race, and, full disclosure, I think I contributed to your campaign. If I didn’t, I meant to. But I know that I publicly supported you.

TANCREDO: There’s going to be another chance. You’ve got another chance.

CAPLIS: [laughs] That’s good! I like that! But here’s my point. You jumped into this mess. And I remember, there were national political experts on Election Day predicting you were going to win that race! …And honestly, Tom, I think in that race, if it had been under normal circumstances, and you had just been the nominee of the GOP, and you’d have had the infrastructure in tact from day one, etc., I think there’s a real good chance you win that race.

TANCREDO: I do too.

In his 2010 gubernatorial run, Tancredo lost by 14 points in three-way race. If he’d gotten Maes’ 10 points, he’d have been within about 4 points of Hick. Still a loser, but still.

For a variety of reasons, I don't think Tancredo would have beaten Hick, even if Maes dropped out, but Caplis has his historical facts correct here, for a change.

And if you're going to get into a spitting match about who's the bigger loser, Tancredo or Beauprez, Beauprez wins for once. (The Gessler ad also calls Beauprez a loser.)

In 2006, Beauprez lost by 17 points in a head-to-head race against Bill Ritter, with no Dan-Maes distraction.

Don't get me wrong. Anybody who calls Obama a "radical," as Tancredo does in his own political ad below, is an intellectual loser in my book, so I personally agree with Gessler, who's a radical himself.

But Caplis had it mostly right in his analysis of Gessler's attack of Tanc, if you look at the numbers and the historical facts.

Here's more of the conversation on KNUS from May 16:

(more…)

Tom Tancredo Will be the GOP Nominee for Governor

Take a look below at what we assume to be the first TV ad for Republican Tom Tancredo in the race for Governor.

We don't know what kind of ad buy is behind this Tancredo spot, but so long as there is decent amount of money involved, Tancredo is going to win the Republican Primary. Tancredo has expertly played the four-way field in order to make his message come across even stronger — and this is a damn good television ad on its own. We've had our disagreements with Tancredo over the years, but we're not going to pretend that this isn't a perfect spot for him.

If Tancredo is still the frontrunner in the field, and we believe he is, then he doesn't need much from this ad in order to maintain that momentum. This ad should more than ensure that Tancredo wins on June 24.

Obama Proposes New Efforts Aimed at Cleaner Air & Water

Colorado 2013 flood

What’s the problem? Our driveway ALWAYS disintegrates.

UPDATE: ProgressNow Colorado issues statement pointing to Colorado Republican candidates who are Climate Change deniers:

“In a time when Republicans in Congress are determined to sit on their hands and do nothing for the rest of the year, President Obama’s leadership on this issue is critical,” said ProgressNow Colorado Executive Director Amy Runyon-Harms. “Conservatives in Colorado are not only unwilling to cooperate on addressing significant environmental concerns – they refuse to even acknowledge Climate Change as a serious problem.”

According to FOX 31 Denver, the EPA estimates that reducing emissions will help prevent as many as 6,600 premature deaths and 150,000 asthma attacks in children. President Obama’s Executive Order gives states until June 30, 2016, to submit statewide carbon reduction plans. EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy says the plan will actually reduce the average electric bill in the United States by 8 percent.

“Our two leading candidates for the Republican nomination for Governor—Tom Tancredo and Bob Beauprez—have been outspoken in their belief that Climate Change is not worth their attention,” said Runyon-Harms (Beauprez has called it a “hoax,”[1] and Tancredo has said the issue is ‘bull****’[2]). “Meanwhile, Coloradans continue to experience destructive wildfires, unprecedented flooding, and severe weather patterns that are unlike anything I’ve ever seen in our state.  It doesn’t take a scientist to see the changes in Colorado and worry about long-term climate problems.” 

—–

As CNN Reports:

An Environmental Protection Agency proposal announced Monday would cut carbon emissions from power plants by 30%.

"Nationwide, by 2030, this rule would achieve CO2 emission reductions from the power sector of approximately 30 percent from CO2 emission levels in 2005," the proposed regulation says. "This goal is achievable because innovations in the production, distribution and use of electricity are already making the power sector more efficient and sustainable while maintaining an affordable, reliable and diverse energy mix."

The EPA says the regulation will also "reduce pollutants that contribute to the soot and smog that make people sick by over 25 percent." The agency projects the reductions will avoid 2,700 to 6,600 premature deaths and 140,000 to 150,000 asthma attacks in children.

States will have a variety of options to meet the goal, including improving energy efficiency both inside and outside plants, changing how long the plants operate each day, and increasing the amount of power derived in other ways through clean energy.

"As president, and as a parent, I refuse to condemn our children to a planet that's beyond fixing," Obama said in his weekly address Saturday.

There's nothing radical about proposing more aggressive goals for reducing carbon emissions, though we don't expect critics among Republicans and the oil & gas industry to hold their respective tongues here. Congressman Cory Gardner, the Republican candidate for U.S. Senate, has long carried water oil for the oil and gas industry and been an outspoken Climate Change denier.

In the race for Governor, all four Republican candidates have been consistently in denial about Climate Change in general. As Colorado Pols first reported in March, Bob Beauprez believes that Climate Change/Global Warming is “at best a grossly overhyped issue and at worst a complete hoax foisted on most of the world.” Fellow Gubernatorial candidate Tom Tancredo spoke for the entire Republican Party in 2009 when he said that the GOP position is that Climate Change is "bullshit."

 

Tancredo Endorsed by El Paso County Tea Party

Tom Tancredo

Not a breath of fresh air exactly, but it’s probably a nice break from getting calls telling you to go away.

It's no secret that a certain section of Colorado Republicans are doing everything they can to convince Tom Tancredo to exit the race for Governor, fearing that Tancredo will cripple the entire GOP ticket should he win his Party's nomination in June (a fear that may be misplaced, in our opinion). But the man Republicans hate to love continues to resist overtures to end his campaign, as well he should, since he's still the prohibitive favorite to emerge from the Primary. As we saw again yesterday, Tancredo is well in control of things — even when he's not.

From Lynn Bartels in the Denver Post:

Former Congressman , one of four Republicans running for governor, has been endorsed by the El Paso County .

“Our great state of Colorado yearns for a governor who will put the citizens’ rights above the power-protecting politicians and big business who want to control our state,” the Tea Party said in a news release.

Tancredo said the endorsement, which was announced Monday, “came out of the blue.”

As we've written before in this space, Tancredo knows what he's doing when it comes to a crowded Republican Primary. Endorsements like this make a much bigger difference when the votes are so diffused.

Live Blogging the GOP Gubernatorial Debate

We're at Colorado Christian University in Lakewood for Live Blog coverage of the GOP Gubernatorial Debate. We've got Bob Beauprez, Scott Gessler, and Mike Kopp battling it out once more. Tom Tancredo is not here, as expected. They're calling this "Women and Colorado's Future."

*All comments are paraphrased unless in direct quotes.

FINAL THOUGHTS
This was billed as a debate centered around "Women and Colorado's Future," and it was about as insulting to women as you could get. It would have been difficult to make this look less genuine, though it would have helped — a lot — to not play the theme song of "The Dating Game" after every break. It's hard to explain how uncomfortable it was in the room every time that song came up and the candidates tried to chuckle about it. What a disaster.

As for the candidates…they should have been on the phone raising money instead. With the exception of Beauprez's closing statement, every answer was cliche and meaningless; none of the candidates did anything to distinguish themselves.

The winner tonight is obvious: Tom Tancredo. Beauprez, Kopp, and Gessler all sounded the same, and there was very little fire or emotion here. It's hard to imagine an undecided Republican voter watching this debate and walking away with a strong impression of anyone on stage.

(more…)

Only Doug Lamborn is More Partisan than Cory Gardner

Cory Gardner and Doug LambornThere has been a lot of talk over the last week or so about Republican concerns that Tom Tancredo might poison the entire 2014 election should he emerge victorious from the June gubernatorial Primary. We won't deny that the GOP faces plenty of problems with a Tancredo candidacy, although the entire argument seems a bit silly in our opinion given the other candidates running in the Republican Primary; option #2 appears to be Bob Beauprez, whose 2006 campaign for Governor is viewed as the worst statewide campaign in Colorado history.

Former Republican Party Chairman Dick Wadhams has been among the loudest voices warning of a Tancredo candidacy, sounding false alarm bells dating back more than a year (we continue to be amused that anyone listens to Wadhams anymore, but that's a different story for a different day). Wadhams is a strong supporter of Republican Senate candidate Cory Gardner, but as he told the Boulder Daily Camera in a story over the weekend, both Gardner and Rep. Mike Coffman are doomed if Tancredo is the GOP nominee for Governor:

"If Tancredo is the nominee, everyone from (U.S. Senate candidate Cory) Gardner and (U.S. Rep. Mike) Coffman and up and down the ticket go down in November," warned Wadhams, who is supporting Kopp. "There's much at stake here."

That seems a bit melodramatic to us, but how much truth is involved in this fear of Tancredo? If we've learned anything from Colorado politics in the last decade, it is that the more moderate candidate will always win a high-profile statewide race. From Ken Salazar in 2004, to Bill Ritter in 2006 and Mark Udall in 2008 (and John Hickenlooper in 2010, although a doorknob would have beaten Dan Maes), the more partisan you are perceived to be by voters, the less likely you are to win in November. With that in mind, we combed through the annual partisanship rankings of Congress provided each year by The National Journal, and we were a bit surprised at what we found:

The biggest threat to the Republican ticket in 2014 may actually be Cory Gardner.

Cory Gardner and Tom Tancredo

Perhaps Tom Tancredo should be concerned about Cory Gardner instead.

You may have seen references to the fact that Gardner was the 10th most-partisan Member of Congress in 2012 — more partisan, even, than conservative stalwarts such as Reps. Michele Bachmann and Steve King — but the numbers tell an even more incredible tale. As you can see from the chart above, only Rep. Doug Lamborn has a more partisan record in Congress among Colorado's delegation in the past decade, and he represents a heavily-Republican district in CD-5.

If you remove Lamborn and Rep. Diana DeGette from the list (since DeGette's CD-1 is a heavily-Democratic district), you find that Gardner stands alone as the most partisan Member of Colorado's Congressional delegation since at least 2002 (when redistricting awarded Colorado a 7th seat in Congress).

As of now, Republicans appear likely to have both Tancredo and Gardner at the top of the ticket in November. Tancredo is certainly problematic for Republicans, but it may well turn out that Gardner ends up being just as harmful (if not more) as voters continue to learn about his record.

If nothing else, Gardner's heavily-partisan record should allow Sen. Mark Udall ample space to occupy the center leading into November, which is an incredible advantage for Democrats…and, perhaps, a huge roadblock for someone like Tom Tancredo.

 

 

Gessler Fights Back, Slams Everybody Else

Scott Gessler.

Scott Gessler.

The Colorado Statesman's Ernest Luning follows up in the latest issue last week's big story of endorsements rolling in for Republican gubernatorial primary candidate Bob Beauprez. With Beauprez calling in his many chits, Tom Tancredo standing firm on his built-in base of single issue support, and Mike Kopp fading quickly into irrelevance, Secretary of State Scott Gessler is battling to keep this a three-way race:

Calling Beauprez “a good friend of mine,” Gessler noted that he’s worked for Beauprez’ past campaigns in his capacity as an election-law attorney. (Beauprez represented the 7th Congressional District for two terms before giving up his seat in Congress to run for governor in 2006, when he lost to Democrat Bill Ritter by a wide margin.)

“Bob lost his last bid for Governor by 16 points, even though we won other big races that year,” Gessler wrote in his fundraising email. “That means 16 percent of voters deliberately voted against Bob then voted for every other Republican. We can’t risk that happening again, and especially with the Senate seat up for grabs this cycle that’s not a risk we can afford to take.”

…On Thursday, Gessler widened his attack, calling out both Beauprez and Tancredo for losing in the last two gubernatorial elections.

“Should we go with Bob Beauprez — an establishment politician with a track record of losing big races?” Gessler wrote in an email to supporters. “While he was chairman of the Colorado Republican Party, the GOP lost control of the State Senate for the first time in four decades. Then, in 2006, Beauprez lost the governor’s race by nearly 17 points, one of the worse performances by a statewide GOP candidate in the history of the state!”

“That is until 2010…” Gessler continued. “In 2010, Tom Tancredo cost us the governorship and a U.S. Senate seat. He dropped the ‘R’ next to his name and ran as a third party candidate. After he lost, he re-registered as a Republican. How can we trust a guy like that to lead our state, let alone, our party?”

Gessler has his own very serious baggage, of course, from his fruitless years-long quest for "illegal voters" to last year's Independent Ethics Commission finding that Gessler "breached the public trust for private gain" by using taxpayer funds to offset partisan political travel expenses. The ad fodder Gessler has provided his political opponents since election in 2010 has been truly enormous, even career-ending all by itself–but is Gessler correct that Beauprez's and Tancredo's flaws are worse?

After the nonstop roller-coaster of controversy Gessler has put voters through in the last four years, it's tough to imagine him as the most electable of any field of candidates. But maybe it's time we started grading this race on the curve? A poll follows.

(more…)