Personhood ties run deep in Jeffco GOP campaigns

(Dance with the ones that bring ya – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Laura Waters Woods

Laura Waters Woods

I wrote last week about how senatorial candidate Cory Gardner’s support for Colorado's personhood abortion ban was part of his formula for winning the 2010 Republican caucus process, which was a big step to his being elected to Congress.

If you look at the State Senate races in Jeffco today, you see that the influence of key personhood backers persists, meaning that Gardner would likely face the same pressure to embrace personhood positions today as he did then. Gardner, of course, did not run in Jeffoco, but similar dynamics play out statewide.

The latest campaign finance reports reveal that Jeffco Republican candidates Tim Neville (SD-16), Laura Woods (SD-19), and Tony Sanchez (SD-22) all have notorious GOP strategic consultant Jon Hotaling on the payroll via his company, "Liberty Service Corporation.” Liberty Service Corporation was Sanchez's largest expenditure ($1,750) during the latest campaign-finance-reporting period and the second largest for Woods ($1,000) and Neville ($1,000).

Hotaling’s firm has worked over the years for Rep. Janak Joshi, gubernatorial candidate Tom Tancredo, and other personhood supporters, most notably for Colorado For Equal Rights, which ran the pro-personhood campaign, fronted by Kristi Burton, in 2008, according to campaign-finance reports. In 2008, Hotaling collected about $12,000 from Colorado For Equal Rights.

Tony Sanchez.

Tony Sanchez.

​So a major consultant for Personhood is deeply integrated into the campaigns of the three Republican senate candidates in Jeffco. Neville, Sanchez, and Woods all support personhood, as defined by Colorado Right to Life, based on their responses to its candidate survey this year.

Using what Republicans themselves called unethical tactics, Woods and Sanchez hammered their Republican primary opponents on the abortion issue during their primary campaigns against Lang Sais and Mario Nicolais.

In one flyer produced by "Colorado for Family Values," Nicolais was pictured next to Kermit Gosnell, a Philadelphia doctor convicted of murdering babies. The caption read: “Kermit Gosnell and his ‘House of Horrors’ abortion mill operated in secrecy for 17 years before his murderous crimes became infamous. Ask Mario why he won’t publicly defend the unborn? Call Mario…”

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Republicans Need Down-Ballot Miracle in Jefferson County

We've talked plenty in this space of the inconceivably ridiculous problems that Jefferson County Republicans have brought upon themselves and the rest of the GOP ticket this fall. Problems began long before the June 24 Primary Election, but things have only gotten worse since Tea Party favorites Tony Sanchez (SD-22) and Laura Waters Woods (SD-19) won their respective Primary races for the GOP nomination.

Jefferson County Republicans have had trouble recruiting strong candidates in the most important electoral county in the state, and they've even had trouble just convening a vacancy committee before the deadlines outlined in state statute. There's little dispute that Jefferson County will decide the outcome of Colorado's statewide races — as goes Jeffco, so goes Colorado — and a continued poor showing by GOP legislative candidates coupled with community anger at the Jeffco School Board could have a lasting effect in November. Fundraising figures don't provide a complete picture of the problems facing Jeffco candidates, but the comparisons are telling. Take a look at the chart below:

There are a handful of legislative races in Jefferson County that we are not including here, primarily because they are not really competitive seats for one Party or the other (HD-22, safe GOP seat; HD-24, safe Dem seat).

Taking into account the theoretically competitive Senate and House races, seven Democrats have raised $871,173 through the most recent — and final — quarterly fundraising period of 2014. Republicans, meanwhile, have raised about $272,406 — or about one-third the amount brought in by Jeffco Democrats.

In both HD-23 and HD-29, Republican candidates were late entrants after the first batch of GOP candidates were scrubbed from the ballot. Replacement candidates Jane Barnes and Susan Kochevar, respectively, have done very little in terms of raising money.

On the Senate side, Republican Primary winners Laura Waters Woods (SD-19) and Tony Sanchez (SD-22) have been less-than-impressive in their own fundraising efforts

While the outcomes of these Jeffco legislative races may not end up changing the makeup of either the State House or State Senate, the margins of defeat could have major repercussions for top-ballot candidates such as Bob Beauprez and Cory Gardner. If the races for Governor and U.S. Senate come down to Jefferson County voters, a weak stable of legislative candidates could spell D-O-O-M.

 

 

John Newkirk, Jeffco BoE Secretary: Public Comment is too long, off topic, repetitive

(Pesky meddling citizens, who needs 'em? - Promoted by Colorado Pols)

From Jefferson County School Board Watch:

The new Jefferson County School Board Secretary, John Newkirk, would really rather not be bothered with those boring public comment sessions. I mean, who really wants to hear from all of those  parents, students, and teachers?

Much easier if we just go to a Douglas County style system, break the union, teach creationism and whatever other curriculum is approved by the Tea Party, and leave it at that. No need for long, boring, meetings where the public gets to weigh in on policies, and maybe (gasp!) influence them.

At last Saturday's school board meeting, Mr. Newkirk made the following comments, which were immediately transformed into a Facebook meme:

Past blog posts on Jefferson County School Board Watch (non Facebook version)

Jefferson County parents, students, teachers, and staff are still fighting to keep the excellent school district they have created. The fight continues.

Judge Allows Jane Barnes to Remain on the Ballot in HD-23

Jane Barnes.

Republican HD-23 candidate Jane Barnes

The long, strange saga of finding a Republican candidate in House District 23 (Lakewood) reached a conclusion yesterday when a Jefferson County judge ruled that Jane Barnes will remain on the fall ballot despite acknowledging that the Republican Party missed deadlines en route to finally nominating someone to challenge incumbent Democratic Rep. Max Tyler. The Jefferson County Republican Party is still imploding, to be sure, but they can celebrate this minor victory.

As John Aguilar of the Denver Post reports:

Attorney Edward Ramey, representing the Democrats, told the judge that after Nate Marshall, the first GOP candidate for the seat, dropped out of the race in early April after it came to light that he had sympathized with white supremacists, the Republican Party failed to certify a replacement candidate in the time required by law.

It formed a vacancy committee at the end of April to choose Barnes as its candidate. She didn't file her papers with the Colorado Secretary of State's Office until May 2, Ramey said, about three weeks too late…

Attorneys for the GOP, the Jefferson County Clerk's Office and the Secretary of State's Office argued that the Democrats were making a "hyper-technical" argument about deadlines that would have the effect of disenfranchising voters.

While acknowledging that Republicans missed the dates outlined by the state, attorney Writer Mott told the judge that the party is in "substantial compliance" with the law and should be able to move forward.

There was no argument from Republicans or the Secretary of State's office that Republicans missed the deadline to find a replacement candidate to end the brief, but disastrous, Nate Marshall experiment. In fact, Republican attorneys admitted that they dropped the ball. But Jefferson County DIstrict Judge Stephen Munsinger effectively punted on a decision rather than removing Barnes from the ballot, which would have left Republicans without a candidate to challenge Rep. Tyler. As we wrote back in May, there really is no reason whatsoever for Jefferson County Republicans to have screwed this up:

Jefferson County Republican Party officials inexplicably waited several weeks to form a vacancy committee to replace Marshall on the ballot — you would think that the GOP would be in more of a hurry to close this ridiculous chapter — and it wasn't until Monday, April 28, that they (very quietly) officially met to replace Marshall on the ballot. If you are wondering who the Republicans found to replace Marshall on the ballot, you wouldn't be alone — nobody in or out of the Republican Party said anything about the candidate who prevailed at the vacancy committee. There was no press release. No call to reporters. Even today, the Jeffco Republican Party website doesn't even list a candidate in HD-23.

It wasn't much of a surprise to see Judge Munsinger rule that Barnes could remain on the ballot — though it certainly calls into question the merits of having candidate filing deadlines if they apparently aren't enforceable — but the Barnes case remains a black eye for a Republican Party that has been utterly incompetent in trying to find candidates to challenge incumbents in winnable House Districts. Judge Munsinger ruled that the missed deadlines in HD-23 were an "isolated incident," though that has absolutely not been the case with the GOP in 2014. We posted the following chart (after the jump) in July as a way of illustrating the follies of House Republican leadership in 2014; it's hard to win back control of the State House when you aren't even filling out paperwork correctly.

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Laura Woods’ Donors Get to Pay for Tickets and Fines

Republican Laura Waters Woods is challenging Democratic Sen. Rachel Zenzinger in one of the most competitive State Senate districts in Colorado (SD-19, Arvada). Woods is going to need every penny she can raise in order to win a seat that has been held by Democrats for more than a decade…so it's probably not a good idea for her to be spending campaign resources to pay off parking fines and other late fees.

Check out this screenshot from her most recent campaign finance report:

Laura Woods Expenditures

Donate now so that Laura Waters Woods can pay for parking tickets!

There is nothing illegal about using campaign funds to pay for things like parking tickets and late-filing fees, but this is pretty unusual — and not very smart.

GOP’s Breakdown In Jeffco Increasingly Evident

Beneath the election season bravado.

Beneath the election season bravado.

Vic Vela of Colorado Community Media has an excellent summary of the state of play in Jefferson County legislative races, where Republicans hungry for a win in 2014 have been dealt a major setback via bungled candidate recruitment and insurgent hard-right primary wins. It's a story we've been talking about here for some months now, but as the primary winners for the Republican Party start campaigning for the general election, the problems facing Jefferson County Republicans are increasingly undeniable to even the fairest-minded of journalists:

A Senate seat win in Jeffco in November could flip party control in that chamber. String together a couple of victories in Jeffco House races and things get interesting there.

So why then, with so much on the line, have Republican candidates in Jefferson County been making news of late for all the wrong reasons?

Since June, three Jeffco Republican candidates seeking House and Senate seats have been accused of violating campaign finance disclosure laws — though the allegations at this point are unproven.

Meanwhile, another candidate in a House race has been tangled in a court battle over whether she's even going to be allowed on the November ballot — and that's after the previous Republican hopeful in that district withdrew his candidacy after his ties to white supremacism became known.

And political analysts have wondered since June whether Jefferson County primary voters were wise to pick candidates who might be too conservative to win Senate races in districts that are evenly split in party registration numbers.

Vela touches on a number of Jefferson County races where extremist candidates, unqualified candidates, and late replacement candidates trying to salvage the situation have hobbled Republicans out of the gate. There's HD-29, where Republican Robert Ramirez pulled out of the race at the last minute to be replaced by hard-right movie theater owner Susan Kochevar. In HD-23, where Republicans are still reeling from white supremacist Nate Marshall's aborted candidacy. And of course Republican Senate nominees Laura Waters Woods and Tony Sanchez, both distantly to the right of the mainstream in their swing districts after Rocky Mountain Gun Owners' support helped them defeat more electable contenders.

Right now, the bravado from Colorado Republicans as election season approaches is perhaps at the highest level we've seen at any point since Democrats took control of the state legislature in Colorado almost ten years ago. At the same time, even GOP stalwarts like former GOP chairman Dick Wadhams have flatly stated that candidates like Woods and Sanchez cannot win in competitive Jefferson County. The victory of RMGO's favored hard-right favorites could well result in a terrible disappointment for Republicans on Election Night as winnable races slip from their grasp. And the real twist? The "momentum" claimed by Republicans in state legislative races today is in large part due to gun rights hysteria whipped up by RMGO!

Either way, folks, the GOP is dancing with the ones that brung 'em. So there's not much to pity.

CACI Democratic Endorsements: What RMGO Cost The GOP

CACI.

CACI.

The Denver Business Journal reports on endorsements released today by the pro-business Colorado Association of Commerce and Industry–with a very few perennial exceptions like pro-business Sen. Cheri Jahn, this is an organization well known for supporting Republican candidates over Democrats in the vast majority of cases.

But as Ed Sealover reports, not this year in a couple of key Jefferson County races:

Often known as a Republican-leaning organization, CACI, for example, endorsed Republicans in three of the seven most competitive Senate races, endorsed Democrats in two of them and declined to endorse anyone in two others…

CACI endorsed incumbent Democratic Sens. Rachel Zenzinger of Arvada and Cheri Jahn of Wheat Ridge, who sit in two of the six seats that Republicans feel they can win, and that they need to take control of a Senate that Democrats now hold by an 18-17 margin. Two is the minimum target because most observers believe the GOP will lose a Pueblo-area seat that they won in a recall election last year, but that sits in a heavily Democratic area.

…CACI members were closely divided in the Senate District 16 race, with many liking GOP challenger and former state Sen. Tim Neville, but just enough feeling they could work with Nicholson that Neville’s support fell below the two-thirds level needed for endorsement, [CACI vice president Loren] Furman said.

And in the Senate District 22 race, where Kerr has been known to clash with business groups, there just wasn’t support to endorse Tony Sanchez, a gun-rights supporter who beat more mainstream Republican Mario Nicolais in the primary, she said.

Like we said, Sen. Jahn winning CACI's endorsement isn't a big surprise, since she's one of the more centrist pro-business members of the Democratic majority in the Colorado Senate. But in three other vital Senate races with Democratic incumbents on the defensive–Rachel Zenzinger in SD-19, Jeanne Nicholson in SD-16, and Andy Kerr in SD-22–it certainly appears that the victory of Rocky Mountain Gun Owners-endorsed Republican candidates directly affected CACI's decision to either endorse the Democrat, as with Sen. Zenzinger, or in Sens. Kerr and Nicholson's cases, at least remain neutral in the race. In the House, we see a similar flight to moderation in the endorsement of Rep. Tracy Kraft-Tharp over far-right movie theater owner Susan Kochevar in HD-29. Surely CACI has their key votes to gauge support for their agenda, but beyond that, as the decision to stay out of SD-22 shows especially, this is a tacit acknowledgement of the major disaster the primary defeats of more mainstream Republican challengers represents for the Colorado Republican Party.

Because frankly, if you're a Republican, it takes a lot to alienate these people.

Lakewood City Council Punts on Pot; Question Goes to Ballot

As the Denver Post reports, the Lakewood City Council voted 7-4 on Monday to ask voters to decide on whether to allow retail marijuana stores…even though voters have already made their voice clear on this issue:

In a room packed with opponents of any retail marijuana operations, Ward 1 Councilwoman Ramey Johnson warned that marijuana is a $1 billion a year industry and the "gates of hell will open" with outside money influencing Lakewood voters on the November ballot question.

Lakewood voters approved Amendment 64, which legalized marijuana possession and allowed for retail sales, 60-40 in 2012…[Pols emphasis]

Mayor Bob Murphy said he voted "no" on Amendment 64.

He supported the November ballot question and said it would answer once and for all the will of the voters: Were they voting strictly for recreational use with no desire for retail stores? Or were they saying "yes" to both?

"All we're doing is asking voters, and that's democracy," Murphy said. "And in my opinion, that's what we were elected to do. I think it's our duty to clarify the issue with voters."

Monday's discussion by the Lakewood City Council reminds us of using a credit/debit card to buy groceries or other items; how many times do you need to answer "Are You Sure?" before you can sign the receipt and be on your way?

Obviously there is a generational gap related to this discussion in Lakewood — witness Ramey Johnson's ridiculous hand-wringing about "industry" lobbyists — but it's disingenuous for the city council to punt on an issue that they are elected to make decisions about. Whether or not you agree with Amendment 64, the issue has already been decided by voters and should not be going to the ballot again. Lakewood's City Council should be working on implementing Amendment 64, not on asking voters if they were really, really, really sure that they want recreational marijuana sales in Lakewood. With respect to Lakewood Mayor Bob Murphy, putting questions on the ballot is absolutely not the primary job of the city council, nor should it be. Putting this issue on the ballot in November is a waste of time and money; if the vote comes back largely in favor of recreational marijuana, which is likely, then this entire exercise will have been pointless.

This non-decision is particularly absurd when you consider that nearby cities such as Denver, Wheat Ridge, Mountain View, and Edgewater are already moving forward with retail marijuana operations. To whatever extent there may be a negative impact on the community from recreational marijuana sales, restricting it from Lakewood is not going to keep it out of Lakewood. The only thing that Lakewood would not receive is tax revenue from recreational marijuana sales; residents of Lakewood who want to buy marijuana will just drive a few more miles and then bring their purchase back home.

There are certainly plenty of people who disagree with the idea of legalizing marijuana, but that ship sailed a long time ago. The Lakewood City Council should be working on implementing the law instead of asking the same questions again and again.

Increase to 5 Commissioners in Jeffco Won’t Make Ballot

We've discussed before in this space the efforts in Jefferson County to increase the number of county commissioners to 5 (from its current 3-member board) — a much more reasonable and representative number for a county that is larger in population than the entire state of Wyoming. A citizen's group called "Jeffco 5" had spent months gathering petition signatures in order to try to get the question on the November ballot, but without using paid signature gatherers, they came up predictably short. As the Denver Post reports:

Jeffco 5, a group led by former Golden City Councilwoman Karen Oxman, submitted approximately 10,000 signed petitions to get its question on the ballot in November. But that total was short of the 17,444 valid signatures that were required, representing 8 percent of the county's population. Oxman previously stated the goal was for 25,000 signatures.

The ballot question would have had voters choose how to elect five commissioners: five district seats, or three districts and two at-large seats.

Currently, the three commissioners represent and reside in their district, but are elected at large. If passed, Jeffco would have joined Arapahoe, Weld, El Paso and Adams as counties with five-person boards.

"It's been very hard for all of us who have worked hard for about two years to make this happen," Oxman said.

The group had been collecting signatures for the past six months after the county commissioners voted against putting the question on the ballot. Oxman said the effort was completely grassroots and that the group didn't pay to hire petitioners.

Failing to gather enough signatures to make the ballot here is more about the inherent impossibility succeeding with an all-grassroots, all-volunteer signature collection process than a rejection of the 5 Commissioners idea. Collecting enough signatures for any sort of large-scale ballot measure is incredibly difficult without a large financial commitment toward paid signature-gatherers, but Jeffco 5 certainly did well with what they had.

Jeffco Commissioner Casey Tighe told the Post that he believes it is only a matter of time before the issue makes it onto the ballot in the near future — perhaps by convincing the current board to place the measure on the ballot in 2016. We can't disagree with that sentiment; moving to 5 commissioners just makes too much sense.

Colorado GOP Primary Results Cast Ominous Shadow for Republicans

Tony Sanchez in SD-22

Tony Sanchez, Republican nominee in SD-22

The National Journal has picked up on a storyline we have been following closely for months here at Colorado Pols — how the combination of Tea Party vs. establishment fights, amplified in bellwether Jefferson County, may make it impossible for Republicans on the top of the ticket to win statewide races:

Even as Republicans nominated capable candidates at the top of the ticket, the down-ballot primary results are a stark illustration of how the party leaders in the state tasked with winning elections are at odds with a majority of their own voters. Democrats currently hold a tenuous one-seat advantage in the state Senate. But without enough moderate candidates in swing districts on the November ballot, the GOP will find taking over the upper chamber much more difficult.

"If we don't win [any key races] in 2014, we’re going the way of California,” [Mario] Nicolais said. "We could well become a permanent minority."…

…Yet below the surface is a nagging pessimism that underscores the stakes for Colorado Republicans in 2014. If the GOP's past problems stem from party divisions, a few lousy candidates, and persistently bad luck, then it's easy to see how the party can turn things around with stronger nominees. But if the party is losing touch with the state's changing electorate, all bets are off. The fact that Republicans feared that Tom Tancredo, who came within 3 points of winning the nomination, could have ruined everything for the statewide ticket, is testament to just how tenuous an advantage Republicans hold.

Laura Woods in SD-19

Laura Waters Woods, Republican nominee in SD-19

Back in March, we noted that the Republican Party in Jefferson County was imploding under competing Tea Party/Moderate/RMGO factions. That examination was verified again last week when Tea Party Republicans won key GOP Primary races in SD-19 (Laura Waters Woods over Lang Sias) and SD-22 (Tony Sanchez over Mario Nicholais). Coupled with the angry undercurrent from education-minded voters around the shenanigans associated with the Jefferson County School Board, Jeffco Republicans have placed so many land mines around the county that top-ticket candidates such as Rep. Cory Gardner and Gubernatorial nominee Bob Beauprez may find it impossible to side step entirely.

All Colorado politicos know that you can't win a competitive statewide race if you lose in Jefferson County, and the combination of poor Republican candidates (which both repel voters and weaken potential help from Republican supporters) and a divisive Republican school board could have the cumulative effect of dropping overall support for a Republican ticket. That support doesn't need to fall far; a drop of just 1-2% could be politically fatal for Gardner and Beauprez, among others.

It's quite possible that the Primary victories of Laura Waters Woods and Tony Sanchez may cripple GOP hopes at taking control of the State Senate…but Republican efforts to defeat Mark Udall in the U.S. Senate have been dealt quite a blow as well.

 

Dudley Brown’s Temporary Triumph: RMGO’s Last Hurrah?

Dudley Brown of RMGO.

Dudley Brown of RMGO.

AP's Ivan Moreno reports this morning in the wake of huge legislative GOP primary victories for the Rocky Mountain Gun Owners in bellwether Jefferson County, over comparatively moderate Republican challengers–victories that have nonetheless worsened Republican odds of retaking the Colorado Senate this November:

In Senate District 22, which covers Lakewood, Tony Sanchez defeated Mario Nicolais, a party attorney who helped draw maps during state redistricting in 2011.

In Senate District 19, which includes Arvada, Laura Woods defeated Lang Sias, a veteran of both Gulf Wars. Woods was involved in two recall petition efforts against former District 19 Sen. Evie Hudak.

Both districts are considered toss-ups, and political analysts saw the defeated Nicolais and Sias as more established candidates who could have attracted independent voters in November. Nicolais advocated passage of civil unions for gay couples last year, and Sias narrowly lost to Hudak in 2012.

FOX 31's Eli Stokols lays it out more plainly:

Senate Democrats might also be excited about Tuesday’s result, in large part because they believe both Sanchez and Woods are too conservative for the districts they are seeking to represent. If Democrats are able to defeat both candidates, it will go a long way in helping them hold onto their one-seat majority this November.

Some Republican analysts feel the same way.

“These are very competitive districts in a very competitive county,” former Colorado GOP chairman Dick Wadhams said. “And if the wrong candidates win these primaries, they cannot win these competitive districts. Lang Sias can win. Mario Nicolais can win. Their opponents (Woods and Sanchez) cannot.” [Pols emphasis]

With victories in these two key battleground primaries now in hand, Dudley Brown's Rocky Mountain Gun Owners now moves to the next stage–as Brown put it, "hunting Democrats" in the general elections. But that is quite likely to prove a bridge too far for RMGO, who has had great success getting their favored candidates elected largely by winning GOP primaries in safe Republican seats. In a general election in a competitive district, what operates in RMGO's favor in a safe-seat primary becomes a liability. Both RMGO endorsed candidates who won last night in Jefferson County, Laura Waters Woods and Tony Sanchez, and distantly out of the mainstream of a wide variety of issues that have nothing to do with guns.

While no one should write off these races by any stretch of the imagination in what remains a challenging year, Democrats were cut a tremendous break last night when the more electable Republicans lost these two primaries. RMGO, whose energies Republicans have been glad to channel when it suits their purposes, may be about to discover the hard limit of their power.

In a way that's going to leave a mark.

Mario Nicolais Gets Two Ads For The Price of One

An interesting twist on the usual primary wrangling–check out the mailer below, sent by a GOP message group in support of Democratic HD-24 primary candidate Kristian Teegardin to Democratic primary voters:

teegardinmario

This mailing raises eyebrows for a couple of reasons. There's the obvious question about a Republican aligned and operated group getting involved in a Democratic primary. In this case, we think that can be adequately explained by Teegardin's Democratic opponent, Jessie Danielson, who worked for the progressive America Votes organization and is a natural enemy of the Scott Gessler vote suppression "integrity" set. One such friend and political ally of Gessler is the registered agent of the group in question, GOP attorney Mario Nicolais.

As one of the principal election law attorneys for local Republicans, Nicolais' name appears as the registered agent for lots of Republican-aligned political groups–for example, the organization that attacked Republican county clerks over election reform legislation using photos of voters with African-American faces Photoshopped out. In this case, though, there's an added bonus: Nicolais is a Republican candidate for the Colorado Senate in SD-22. SD-22 and HD-24, the House district Teegardin is running in, overlap for much of the town of Edgewater west of Sheridan Boulevard! It's not a huge overlap, but it's the first instance we've ever seen of a mailer sent to voters in one district with the name of another candidate for the same voters as the registered agent.

Building name ID among Democrats wouldn't help Nicolais in his heated primary against Rocky Mountain Gun Owners-endorsed Tony Sanchez, of course, in fact we could easily see meddling in a Democratic primary being used against Nicolais with SD-22 primary voters. We'd say that any one of the pieces of this story by itself isn't terribly remarkable, but the combination of these storylines makes, at the very least, for some interesting trivia.

For HD-24 Democrats and SD-22 Republicans especially.

Nothing Escalates GOP Infighting Like a Mug Shot of Dudley Brown

Dudley Brown mug shot

Dudley Brown, circa 1988 or 1991

We've been following the strange alliances and political Party struggles associated with the Republican Primary in SD-19, where Republicans Lang Sias and Laura Waters Woods are running for the nomination to take on Democratic Sen. Rachel Zenzinger. This is one of those Primaries worth watching whether or not you live in the northern Arvada Senate district, because it has become a symbol of the implosion of the Jefferson County Republican Party and a harbinger of greater internal battles to come.

Just a few days ago, we told you about a (very) long email promoting a website called LangSiasExposed.com, which appears to be the brainchild of the Rocky Mountain Gun Owners (RMGO) and their leader, one Dudley Brown.

Today, someone named Jay Vogel (@JayLewisVogel) Tweeted out an old mug shot of Dudley Brown that appears to stem from a 1988 charge of "Unlawful Use, Controlled Substance" in Larimer County (Vogel says it was for cocaine possession). It's possible that Vogel is mixing up his mug shots, since Brown was also arrested in Denver in 1991 on charges of "Disturbing the Peace" and "Assault," but either way, this isn't something that Brown probably wants to see made public again.

What makes this whole episode particularly fascinating is that Vogel appears to be a resident of Illinois who is both an NRA member and an ISRA member (Illinois State Rifle Association). Why does Vogel care about a Colorado State Senate Primary? Apparently he was interested enough in Colorado last fall to donate $25 to the "Recall Hudak Too" campaign that was making a second attempt to recall State Sen. Evie Hudak, but then why would he be an apparent supporter of Lang Sias? Sias, after all, repeatedly refused to sign the recall petitions because he disagreed with the recall approach in general. But wait…there's more!

This odd divide is a symbol of the strange manner in which pro-recall groups have aligned themselves in the SD-19 Primary. Laura Waters Woods is backed by RMGO and the second Hudak recall group (Recall Hudak Too). Sias, meanwhile, has the support of Laura Carno, one of the leaders of the recall effort in SD-11 (Sen. John Morse), and is also backed by the Colorado Second Amendment Association…which was heavily involved in the Morse recall. Oh, and Sias appears to be supported by the folks behind the initial failed recall effort against Hudak (did we mention that Sias has been a vocal opponent of recalls?)

Got all that? It's all very politically-incestuous and strange, but the outcome will have very real repercussions well beyond just this Senate District.

 

Why Is Conservative Jeffco School Board Spending So Much Money?

Dan McMinimee

There’s nothing small about the contact for new Jeffco Superintendent Dan McMinimee.

Parents and educators across Jefferson County have been in an uproar since a conservative takeover of the School Board last fall resulted in an immediate run of questionable decisions and overspending. Board President Ken Witt and conservative members John Newkirk and Julie Williams have been making backroom deals and approving unnecessary expenditures since before their first official meeting in December 2013.

The controversy created by the conservative Board escalated this Spring when Dan McMinimee, an assistant superintendent at Douglas County Schools, inexplicably emerged as the only finalist from a "nationwide" search that cost taxpayers $40,000. The alarming lack of transparency spooked Jeffco parents and teachers, and that questionable decision making by the Board only got worse from their. As the Denver Post reports, the Board approved an unexplainably-high salary for McMinimee last night (on a 3-2 vote) before giving a final stamp of approval for their hand-picked Superintendent:

Jefferson County School board members voted after a contentious debate late Thursday night to approve a contract that, with benefits, makes incoming Superintendent Dan McMinimee one of the highest-paid school leaders in Colorado.

The state's second-largest school district would pay McMinimee an annual base salary of $220,000, offer him up to $40,000 in performance pay and reimburse him up to $20,000 for his personal contributions toward retirement benefits.

A previous draft of the contract would have given McMinimee a $280,000 base salary but not provide performance pay or reimbursements for retirement benefits…

McMinimee, an assistant superintendent in the Douglas County School District, was hired in May by a split board vote. Board members Lesley Dahlkemper and Jill Fellman voted against his selection.

On Thursday, community members called for a contract with a salary that more closely resembles that of the district's past leader, Cindy Stevenson, who made $205,500 a year. Others asked the school board to revisit the superintendent search and bring in more finalists.

It is important to understand just how odd McMinimee's contract looks in comparison to that of former Superintendent Cindy Stevenson, who not only had substantially more experience but also held a PhD in Education (McMinimee has a Masters degree). It's not like the Board was negotiating from a position of weakness, either; if you are going to hire someone with fewer qualifications than the previous Superintendent, shouldn't you at least save a little money in the process?

RMGO Goes Hard After Lang Sias in SD-19 Primary

Langhorne Sias

LangSiasExposed.com includes these screenshots of a Sias donation to Democrat Mark Udall. Just in case you thought there might be more than one ‘Langhorne Sias’ writing checks to Udall.

We've discussed before the rising tensions in the Jefferson County Republican Party as hard-right groups such as Dudley Brown's Rocky Mountain Gun Owners (RMGO) throw significant resources at hand-picked candidates such as Laura Waters Woods (SD-19)  and Tony Sanchez (SD-22). With ballots dropping in the mail in advance of the June 24th Primary, RMGO is going all-in against Republican Lang Sias.

Recently, the RMGO sent out an absurdly-long email (full text after the jump) about Sias that included links to a new website called LangSiasExposed.com. The intent is to show that Sias is not a "real Republican," which is an attack that is admittedly easier to make thanks to Sias' own Photoshop blunders in the past. Here's how the email begins:

Liberal "Republican" Lang Sias has a long list of sins that indicate he couldn't be trusted if he is elected to represent Senate District 19.

That's why it's imperative that you vote for Laura Woods in the June 24th Republican Primary, as ballots are already in the mail!

It's bad enough that Lang didn't lift a finger to help the effort to recall anti-gun State Senator Evie Hudak.

It's bad enough that he refused, multiple times, to sign the petition to recall Evie Hudak.

And, it's bad enough that he has refused, TWICE, to fill out the Rocky Mountain Gun Owners Candidate Survey and go on record as to where he stands on your Second Amendment rights.

But, you don't have to dig too deep into Lang's record to find out that it only gets worse, and, in many ways, explains a lot about him. You see, Lang Sias was a registered Democrat as recently as 2006, and did his part to help elevate anti-gun politicians like Mark Udall into office.

Will RMGO's efforts be enough to make Sias go 0-for-3 in his efforts to get elected to something? (Sias lost a GOP Primary for CD-7 in 2010 before losing two years later in SD-19 against Democrat Evie Hudak) We're inclined to give RMGO the benefit of the doubt in this race, since they appear to have done enough to move Sanchez ahead of establishment favorite Mario Nicolais in the SD-22 Primary.

The full text of the RMGO email is available after the jump.

 

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