Royal Gorge Tea Party Straw Poll Shows No Clear Favorite

An update from Carrie Canterbury of the Canon City Daily Record:

Tougher laws and harsher penalties to better protect American citizens, limiting control of the federal government and doing away with Common Core were a few of the hot topics discussed during Saturday's Republican gubernatorial candidate forum at Mountain View Core Knowledge School.

Hopefuls Bob Beauprez, Greg Brophy, Scott Gessler, Steven House, Mike Kopp and Roni Sylvester fielded questions during the event hosted by the Royal Gorge Republican Women and the Royal Gorge Tea Party. Tom Tancredo declined the invitation to participate in the forum.

Roxanna Hollabaugh of the Royal Gorge Tea Party said a straw poll following the forum showed 25 percent of the votes went to Gessler; 22 percent to Beauprez; 20 percent to Kopp; 17 percent to Brophy; and 16 percent to House. She said with about 160 possible votes, a little more than half of the audience submitted a straw poll (58 percent).

This straw poll shows that there there are a lot of undecided Republican primary voters–or maybe a large number of unaccounted for Tom Tancredo voters, who wasn't present–but it's still quite striking how evenly divided the support was among all five of these candidates. In the end, we expect that the better name recognition for Scott Gessler, Bob Beauprez and Tancredo will keep them at the top of such polls for the time being.

Two other candidates now more or less on life support, Greg Brophy and Mike Kopp, could see a boost if Tancredo, who is petitioning onto the June primary ballot, chooses to release his delegates ahead of the state convention this weekend. In that event, we suspect those delegates would in large part shift to Brophy as opposed to Gessler or Beauprez. As for Kopp, the state assembly represents a last slim chance at relevancy.

Get Ready For Another Purge Attempt From Gessler’s “Friends”

Scott Gessler.

Scott Gessler.

When Glenn Beck's "news" site The Blaze mentions Colorado Secretary of State Scott Gessler and the subject of purging voter rolls, our immediate response, for well-established reasons, is caution.

Iowa and Colorado, typically battleground states in presidential and congressional campaigns, each have more registered voters than they have adults over the age of 18 living in the state, according to a conservative watchdog group’s analysis.

The same is true of Washington, D.C., which is set to hold a primary in its mayoral election next week…

In a letter to top election officials, Judicial Watch said it will file lawsuits if Iowa, Colorado and the District do not correction violations of Section 8 of the NVRA within 90 days.

“Specifically, we ask you to: 1) conduct or implement systemic, uniform, nondiscriminatory program to remove from the list of eligible voters the names of persons who have become ineligible to vote by reason of change in residence,” the letter says, “2) complete this program no less than 90 days prior to the November election; 3) conduct or implement additional routine measures to remove from the list of eligible voters the names of persons who have become ineligible to vote by reasons of death, change in residence, or a disqualifying criminal conviction, and to remove noncitizens who have registered to vote unlawfully.”

…A spokesman for Colorado Secretary of State Scott Gessler told TheBlaze the office is “continuing to review the letter.”

“The secretary is committed to accurate voting rolls and continues to ask the legislature for the resources to clean the rolls,” Gessler spokesman spokesman Rich Coolidge told TheBlaze. “Unfortunately, the legislature in Colorado would rather have an honor system for voting than an accurate system.” [Pols emphasis]

We haven't found anything yet in the way of mainstream media coverage of yesterday's "press conference" by the conservative group Judicial Watch alleging irregularities in Colorado's voter rolls, which should tell readers something about the reputation of both this group and the problems they're claiming exist–but this story has spread throughout the conservative media pretty quickly. We haven't seen Judicial Watch's methodology in determining these supposed problems, but the group frequently hosts panels with such personalities as anti-immigrant Rep. Steve King of Iowa, who claims that illegal immigrants would swamp our elections as voters to "vote for a more liberal agenda." So we have trouble taking them seriously on their face.

Because Scott Gessler regularly steps into controversy by alleging massive fraud by "thousands" of illegal voters in Colorado elections, a charge which has never been substantiated by subsequent investigation, local press is pretty much inured to this stuff. But it's Rich Coolidge's ridiculous, over-the-top quote that makes us think this whole business is intended for consumption outside the state of Colorado.

That is, unless it's Gessler's new gubernatorial campaign theme? If this story ever makes it out of the realm of the D.C.-based right-wing media funny papers, we promise to revisit it.

Poll: Hickenlooper Pulling Away from Rest of Field

Public Policy Polling (PPP) is out with some new numbers in Colorado for both the race for Governor and U.S. Senate.

Is there room for a competitive candidate?

Is there any room for a competitive candidate?

Things are largely unchanged in the race for Senate, even with the inclusion of Rep. Cory Gardner in the race, but it's the fight for the Governor's Mansion where the numbers have really shifted:

John Hickenlooper's approval rating is back on positive ground at 48/41, after slipping into negative territory on our December poll. Hickenlooper's also back to having double digit leads over all of his potential Republican opponents. Bob Beauprez comes closest at 48/38, followed by Scott Gessler at 48/36, Tom Tancredo at 50/36, Greg Brophy at 48/33, and Mike Kopp at 49/32. Hickenlooper's lead over the four Republicans included in the December poll has increased from an average of 8 points to an average of 14 points.

The Republican clown car is close to bursting with Bob Beauprez now part of the field. With the State Party Convention just a few weeks away (April 12), there isn't any room left for another Republican candidate — even if they could find someone more competitive than the current crop of GOP contenders. The newest PPP poll reflects that reality, with voters acknowledging that Gov. John Hickenlooper can start to breathe a little easier. Hickenlooper's 48% approval rating isn't steller by any means, but it's all relative when it comes to campaign season; the Republican with the highest favorability rating is Tancredo, at just 30%.

A Democrat’s Dream Opponent: Beauprez, Tancredo, or Gessler?

Bob Beauprez, Scott Gessler, Tom Tancredo.

Bob Beauprez, Scott Gessler, Tom Tancredo.

At this point in the crowded Republican gubernatorial primary, post-caucus but before the state assembly and June primary election, we're beginning to see trajectories emerge that allow for some predictions as to who–in what has been a gaggle of undistinguished candidates–might emerge as clear frontrunners.

Before the entry of ex-Congressman Bob Beauprez into the gubernatorial race on the day before the caucuses, the race seemed to be settling into a two-man contest between Secretary of State Scott Gessler and firebrand 2010 American Constitution Party gubernatorial candidate Tom Tancredo. The other candidates in this race, principally state Sen. Greg Brophy and former Sen. Mike Kopp, were already more or less relegated to the second tier–Brophy's good early debate performance being quickly forgotten.

Interrupting the natural propensity for big fields of candidates to winnow down to two, Beauprez undeniably shakes up this race. The biggest reason Beauprez had space to get into the race at all is the persistent unease many institutional Republicans have with Gessler. The court ruling this week upholding the ethics commission's finding that Gessler "breached the public trust for private gain" is a big problem for his campaign, who would really like to consolidate the limited victory he achieved on caucus night in counties that carried out preference polls.

Tancredo has a relatively large base of loyal activists left over from his days as a firebrand anti-immigration activist and presidential candidate, and good name ID, but Republican strategists understand he cannot possibly win a statewide general election. Although Beauprez's real opponent for the nomination is clearly Gessler, Tancredo is the one with the most to lose from Beauprez's entry into the race, and the most quickly.

Which brings us to Beauprez, who is energetically calling in favors from Washington, D.C. friends to generate buzz for his campaign. Beauprez has been described in at least one news report as the "prohibitive favorite" of the Republican Governor's Association (RGA), a reflection of his ability to woo D.C. Republican kingmakers. But Beauprez faces an almost insurmountable obstacle to winning: himself. In barely two weeks, Beauprez has already stuck his foot in his mouth over the "Personhood" abortion ban, re-earning the title "Both Ways Bob" that was used against him so effectively in 2006. He's supplying the same laugh-track material in early interviews that made him the easiest mark most Colorado Democrats can remember–practically the textbook bad candidate to set up and knock down over and over. Whatever Beauprez has done to re-ingratiate himself eight years later in D.C., his 2006 run was a disaster of the kind that probably should end a political career. And he shows every sign that if nominated, he'll bomb in 2014 just as badly.

Bottom line: what we have in the Colorado Republican gubernatorial race today are three potential frontrunners, and to be honest, Democrats should relish the prospect of running against any one of them. For strategic and logistical reasons, Democrats may prefer a candidate unable to self-finance or raise big money so they can truly put Gov. John Hickenlooper's re-election on autopilot. Setting the money aside, we'll turn the question over to our readers: which of these three should Democrats want to run against the most?

BREAKING: IEC Ruling Against Gessler Upheld


A Denver judge has rejected Secretary of State Scott Gessler's appeal in an ethics complaint.

Colorado's Independent Ethics Commission admonished Gessler for using state funds for travel to a GOP elections law conference in Florida in 2012. While there, Gessler also attended the GOP national convention, for which he used campaign funds to pay for. Commissioners noted the state money paid for his plane trip to both events and levied a $1,500 fine against him.

The Denver Post's Lynn Bartels:

Deputy Secretary of State Suzanne Staiert said Gessler probably will appeal. She said her boss was "actually very calm" when he heard the news, but she was fired up. Staiert is a critic of how the five-member commission operates.

"It's absurd. Every official in Colorado is subject to getting snared up in (the commission's) shell game," Staiert said of the ruling…


Scott Gessler.

Scott Gessler.

A press release from Colorado Ethics Watch with big news late Wednesday, the Independent Ethics Commission ruling against Secretary of State Scott Gessler over his improper use of state funds for partisan political travel has been upheld in Denver District Court:

Today, Judge Herbert L. Stern, III of the Denver District Court affirmed the decision of the Independent Ethics Commission (“IEC”) that Secretary of State Scott Gessler breached the public trust for private gain by using public money to attend Republican Party events in Florida and to pay himself funds left over in the department’s discretionary account at the end of Fiscal Year 2012. Ethics Watch filed a complaint with the IEC about Gessler's spending in October 2012. The IEC ruled against Gessler after an eleven-hour hearing in June 2013. Gessler sought review of the decision in Denver District Court.

Ethics Watch Director Luis Toro issued the following statement: "Judge Stern's ruling should surprise no one. Public funds are not to be used to pay for plane tickets and hotel rooms at partisan political events. Nor can officeholders whose salaries are set by statute use discretionary funds to pay themselves a year-end bonus. It is time for Scott Gessler to stop spending the people's money defending the indefensible. He should pay the fine and move on."

Here's the complete ruling handed down today. From the initial read of it, this was not a close decision for Judge Herbert L. Stern. In addition to a major validator for the much-maligned Independent Ethics Commission, created by 2006's Amendment 41, this ruling is a major blow to Gessler's gubernatorial hopes–if not in the GOP primary than in the general election. Gessler is counting on overturning the IEC's ruling to forestall otherwise devastating attack ads about his having "breached the public trust for private gain." Without a powerful rebuttal to that charge–something that would get ads taken off the air–the paid media case that can be made against Gessler, with this ruling as the centerpiece, leaves the man pretty much unelectable.

We'll update with coverage of today's ruling once available.

Beauprez Does Well With GOP Caucus-Goers on Tuesday

Beauprez, via The Colorado Statesman.

Confused by the caucus results?

Interesting stuff from Lynn Bartels at "The Spot" late last night:

Secretary of State is the winner of a straw poll for gubernatorial candidates conducted during Tuesday night’s GOP precinct caucuses, although results are incomplete and not every county asked for a show of hands.

Former Congressman only entered the race Monday, but he came in second behind Gessler in several counties, including Adams, Broomfield, Douglas and Larimer.

These results should, of course, be taken with a grain of salt considering that the three most important counties for a statewide candidate — Arapahoe, Denver, and Jefferson — did not take straw polls. Still, we're surprised to see such a strong showing from Beauprez, who filed his campaign paperwork on Monday and announced his bid for Governor Tuesday morning.

Also noteworthy: Sen. Greg Brophy had very little support in the counties that held straw polls. We would think such an outspoken conservative as Brophy would have had a bit more support among GOP caucus-goers.

Big Line Updated

We've updated The Big Line to reflect a wacky week that saw major changes to the races for U.S. Senate, Governor, and CD-4. We expect to be changing the CD-4 Line quite frequently in the coming days as more potential candidates consider their options.

Your opinions, as always, are welcome in the comments…

Head Games – Voting Rights 3, Head 0

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Victor Head, "Pueblo Plumber", recall proponent, and County Clerk candidate, has been lying again, and digging through trash for ballots to make the case that only he can prevent election fraud.  

HB1128 , Reduce Voter Identity Theft

In the State, Veterans, and Military Affairs Committee of the Colorado legislature, on February 12, Head testified on behalf of HB1128, a thinly-disguised "voter ID" bill. Szabo and Harvey were the sponsors. The bill, thankfully, is parked in the State committee, and unlikely to come out of it.

The facts were not with this bill. There is not, and never has been, a problem of "voter identity theft" in Colorado. Over the last 10 years, there have been no instances of someone voting under an assumed name. Yet, Head, with an eye on the Clerk position supervising elections in Pueblo, wants voters to believe that he  has expertise in this area, and will help protect us from the dreaded (but nonexistent) problem of voter identity theft.

In order to create a problem only he can solve, Victor Head lied again  in HB1128  hearing testimony.  He told Representative Salazar that signature cards weren't used in Pueblo County when Pueblans began voting in the Recall election. This is demonstrably not true.


BREAKING: Beauprez to Annnounce Bid for Governor on Monday

Both Ways Bob Beauprez

Both Ways Bob Beauprez (right).

From FOX 31's Eli Stokols:

Bob Beauprez, the former congressman and 2006 GOP gubernatorial candidate, is preparing to enter the governor’s race next Monday, multiple sources confirm to FOX31 Denver.

Beauprez, who’s been hinting at a run for weeks and hoping to reach a deal for Tom Tancredo to leave the race, has been telling supporters this week that he’s jumping in regardless.

On Friday, Beauprez’s personal website came down, now reading: “coming soon”; another clear indication, sources close to the candidate confirm, that a campaign and an official site are in the works.

Beauprez's candidacy has appeared to be a foregone conclusion for a few days now, with both Scott Gessler and Tom Tancredo publicly stating as much. With Republican Cory Gardner making his U.S. Senate announcement on Saturday, and the GOP Caucuses beginning Tuesday, Beauprez didn't have many options left if he didn't make it official on Monday.

Gessler “pretty confident” Beauprez will enter gov race

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Both Ways Bob Beauprez

Both Ways Bob Beauprez (right).

Radio host Jimmy Sengenberger broke news on his Velocity Radio show yesterday, when his guest Scott Gessler said he's "pretty confident" Bob Beauprez will enter the gubernatorial race, and Gessler pointed out that Beauprez ran a "pretty disastrous" campaign in 2006.

Gessler (@1 hour 21 min): “I’ve heard the same thing. I’m actually pretty confident Bob Beauprez is goig to be getting into the race. Probably next week is what I’ve heard.”

Just prior to talking with Gessler, Sengenberger, whose internet show airs weekdays from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m., conversed with Denver Post reporter Lynn Bartels about the possibility of Bob Beauprez entering the gubernatorial race.

Sengenberger: Will that change the race in your mind from a two-man race to possibly a three-man race?

Gessler: Maybe. We’ll see how much traction he gets. You know, Bob is well-known. He’s well respected. On the other hand, he ran a pretty disastrous campaign back in 2006, where he lost by about 17 points.

Sengenberger: …It was a tough year for Republicans.

Gessler: Well, yes and no. John Suthers won his state-wide race. Mike Coffman won his state-wide race. Mark Hillman lost his state-wide race, but just by a little. And Bob lost by 17 points.

Make Room in the Clown Car for Bob Beauprez

Who wants to be Governor of Colorado?

Move over.

As we discussed yesterday, the "Draft Beauprez" nonsense drummed up by Erick Erickson on his conservative blog Red State likely means that Republican Bob Beauprez really and truly is about to jump into the race for Governor; pretending to "draft" a candidate is one of the oldest tricks in the political playbook. Of course, the very fact that Beauprez is even able to enter a top statewide race this late in the game is causing a certain amount of anxiety among Republicans, who see their chances at upending Gov. John Hickenlooper eroding by the day. But with a weak field unable to raise much money combined, it's becoming harder for anyone to dismiss a candidate who can at least self-fund to some degree — even if his last name is Beauprez.

As FOX 31's Eli Stokols reported late yesterday, it seems more likely than not that a "Both Ways Bob" return is just around the corner:

Last month, as Beauprez began making calls to potential donors about a late entry into the governor’s race, speculation ramped up that he was getting in.

And it continues to swirl as Beauprez commissioned a private poll last week that showed him trailing Tom Tancredo and Scott Gessler in the seven-candidate primary field; and he’s reportedly had conversations with a possible campaign manager and other potential staffers.

Sources also indicate that associates of Beauprez and Tancredo had been negotiating a deal — Tancredo would exit the race, then Beauprez would get in — but those talks have since been tabled.

Tancredo told the Denver Post he never agreed to such a deal, although sources offer conflicting reports of the negotiations.

Both Ways Bob Beauprez

Both Ways Bob Beauprez (right).

Obviously Tancredo would deny that any such deal was in place — it doesn't do him any good to confirm this, particularly if Beauprez ultimately doesn't run — but this is the kind of thing that Tancredo would be likely to do. Before Tancredo became the American Constitution Party nominee for Governor in 2010, he talked openly about his preference that a strong Republican would run and make his own bid unnecessary. And as Mike Littwin notes in the Colorado Independent, Tancredo seems underwhelmed at the idea of actually being Governor:

On the other hand, there are any number of reasons why Tancredo might drop out. To begin with, there’s the matter of whether he actually wants to be governor.  Although Tancredo enjoys running for the job, he has not, over two campaigns,  put together anything resembling a credible platform. Instead of working on policy, or participating in debates, he spends his time writing op-eds for sketchy right-wing web sites about impeaching the president.

And then comes the hard work of actually getting on the ballot. In 2010, Tancredo skipped the hard stuff by running on the American Constitution Party ticket. Tancredo is back to being a Republican this time, meaning he has to either draw at least 30 percent of the votes at the GOP convention — and Tancredo is hardly popular with the Republican establishment – or petition his way onto the ballot.

Tancredo's indifference to the job of Governor (or any other elected office, frankly) is something we've heard before; remember, this is the same guy who "retired" from a Congressional seat that was required no actual campaigning to get re-elected (the pre-redistricted CD-6).

But the real question here, of course, is whether Beauprez is actually going to make the move to formally enter the race for Governor. From everything we've heard lately, it seems more likely than not that Beauprez will join the clown car that is the GOP field for Governor. Frankly, Beauprez has dragged this out so long that he almost has an obligation to run; by flirting with the idea, and even commissioning a poll to test his chances, Beauprez has helped further demonstrate that the entire Republican field is terribly weak and incapable of defeating Hickenlooper in November. Beauprez has said that he doesn't think the current crop of Republicans can defeat Hickenlooper, which is the same thing he said in 2009 when he was considering running against Sen. Michael Bennet.

Even if Beauprez doesn't prove to be any better at running for Governor than he was in 2006 (in what was probably the worst statewide campaign in the history of Colorado politics), at the very least he could put resources into a campaign that could have some positive effect on down-ballot Republican candidates looking for GOTV support. Remember the absurd "campaign" of Republican nominee Dan Maes in 2010? Maes was a joke of a candidate who couldn't find the money to do much more than pay himself a salary, and the inevitability of his demise was a significant drag on the entire Republican ticket. If he wins the GOP nomination, Beauprez is unlikely to pose a serious threat to Hickenlooper — but there are other reasons for Republicans to grudgingly support his campaign.

Red State’s Erick Erickson: Draft Beauprez For Governor

UPDATE: The Denver Post's Lynn Bartels:

“I heard he was thinking about it again,” said Tancredo. “I told him to get in. He is a friend and a good guy.”

Tancredo and Beauprez served together in Congress. Despite their friendship, Tancredo said he never said he would drop out of the crowded GOP race if Beauprez got in. Tancredo is one of at least seven Republicans running for the GOP nomination for governor…

2006 was a fabulous year for Colorado Democrats, but [Erickson’s] statement overlooks Beauprez’s questionable performance as a candidate. Most of Beauprez’s wounds were self-inflicted, say political watchers, and raised questions about Beauprez’s ability to lead. Beauprez lost to Democrat Bill Ritter by 17 percentage points.


“Both Ways” Bob Beauprez (right).

One of the premiere "thought leaders" of the conservative blogosphere, Erick Erickson of Red State, throws down hard for a Bob Beauprez campaign for Colorado governor in 2014–unrepentantly at the expense of the current large pack of candidates already in this race. Excerpt, though the whole piece is worth reading and sharing with your Republican friends:

There are seven people running for the Republican nomination for Governor of Colorado. None of the seven have shown an ability to unite the Colorado GOP. None have shown the ability to win the tough race. None have shown the ability to raise the significant money they will need for a very tough race. None even seem to have a very strong, statewide grassroots network of support.

The frontrunners in the Republican primary include Colorado Secretary of State, Scott Gessler and former Congressman, Tom Tancredo. Both Gessler and Tancredo have high hurdles in terms of electability. Gessler has a series of ethics mishaps that are sure to be the basis of relentless attack ads and Tancredo ran four years ago for Governor as a third party candidate and lost handily.

It is time Colorado Republicans and the rest of us who can help get out and draft former Congressman Bob Beauprez for the nomination. Bob Beauprez can win tough races. Beauprez famously won the newly-added 7th Congressional District in Colorado by 121 votes in 2002 (less than one-third of a vote per precinct) then easily won reelection in 2004 in the district that a Republican hasn’t come close to winning since.

It is true that Beauprez ran for Colorado Governor in 2006 and lost in a year that was devastating across the map for the GOP. But Bob has stayed in the conversation and is highly respected across Colorado… [Pols emphasis]

As we've said, Beauprez's presence on the margins of both the Republican gubernatorial and U.S. Senate primary races is more about the weaknesses of the present candidates in those races than Beauprez's personal viability as a candidate. It's enormously damaging to the other candidates in both of those races each day that Beauprez lurks on the periphery. The rumors surrounding the possibility of a Beauprez 2014 campaign have trended toward a run for Governor as opposed to Senate. As GOP despair grows over the inability of the current candidates to defeat Gov. John Hickenlooper, it becomes less a matter of a savior as saving face–preventing collapse at the top of the ticket to give downballot candidates a better shot. And apparently, Beauprez can still charm people outside Colorado, either old Washington buddies or folks who don't know him or our state very well.

Above all, Erick Erickson's ringing endorsement of Beauprez didn't happen by accident. The likelihood of a Both Ways Bob reprise in 2014 is growing swiftly.

“Money Badger”–Gessler/JBC Conflict Escalates

Scott Gessler.

Scott Gessler.

The story of Colorado Secretary of State Scott Gessler's multimillion-dollar budget shortfall, and subsequent battle with the powerful bipartisan Joint Budget Committee seeking taxpayer funds to cover it, escalated dramatically this week. As the Denver Post's Lynn Bartels reports:

A simmering feud between Republican Secretary of State Scott Gessler and the Joint Budget Committee erupted again this week over letters from Gessler accusing lawmakers of "political posturing."

But two members of the JBC — Sen. Pat Steadman, D-Denver, and Rep. Cheri Gerou, R-Evergreen — said the Republican secretary of state is the one playing political games.

"I'm disgusted, totally disgusted by the tone, the rudeness, calling us liars," Gerou said Thursday. "He doesn't sound like a governor." [Pols emphasis]

Late Monday, after we last visited the story, Gessler responded to the Joint Budget Committee with an angry letter accusing the committee of all manner of slights against him, both procedural and personal (embedded after the jump via the Colorado Independent).

“I am sorely disappointed with your committee’s behavior,” Gessler writes to open his letter, and “I am frustrated that the committee squelched any opportunity to directly discuss these issues with me.

He argues, as he has in the past, that his budget was thrown off, not by his decision to slash fees on businesses and nonprofits, but by an election-reform bill passed last year by Democratic lawmakers that has overburdened his office.

Just a year ago, he says,  “we carried a comfortable $1.9 million surplus. But… the legislature shoved through a partisan election bill that severely damaged our budget.”

But as the Durango Herald's Joe Hanel ably reported in January, that's just not the case. Gessler slashed fees on businesses to a much greater extent than was necessary to keep his office's former surplus within allowable limits. While a tempting idea for a politician seeking higher office, Gessler's fee cuts are the real reason his office ran into the red implementing House Bill 13-1303, last year's election modernization bill endorsed by and authored in consultation with county clerks from both parties. Gessler "severely damaged" his own budget, long before this bill was ever introduced. As fellow Republican Rep. Cheri Gerou makes clear above, nobody's buying Gessler's political posturing–and Gessler is the one doing the posturing.

Bottom line: Gessler is wildly overplaying his hand by getting snooty with the JBC, and the absolute last thing he needs now is to incur the open wrath of powerful fellow Republicans on fiscal responsibility as he battles Tom Tancredo, Greg Brophy, and those other guys for the GOP gubernatorial nomination. But to be honest, this boorish, thin-skinned combativeness may just plain be who Scott Gessler is at the end of the day.

Gessler reportedly likes being called "Honey Badger," but "Money Badger" may not go over so well.


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.



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???