Sad Walker Stapleton Wishes “State Treasurer” Title Made Him Financial Expert

Walker Stapleton hyper-inflation

Walker Stapleton prefers not to talk about his 2010 suggestion that Colorado invest more heavily in gold.

Do you have any idea what kind of requirements you must meet in order to become Colorado's State Treasurer?

Not much, actually. You must be at least 25 years of age; a Colorado resident for a minimum of 2 years; and a United States Citizen. That's it — that's all there is in the Colorado State Statutes. You don't need to have any sort of special training in finance. You don't even need to have a college degree in, well, anything. Primarily, you just need to have been alive for awhile and in Colorado recently.

Why do we bring this up? Because State Treasurer Walker Stapleton has been trying to get appointed to something called The Colorado Retirement Security Task Force, which is being set up by the legislature regarding…yes, retirement savings (bill sponsors Sen. Pat Steadman and Rep. John Bucker outlined their legislation in a recent Denver Post Op-Ed). Stapleton was apparently angry that he did not receive an invitation to the task force, and he and his supporters argued (and whined) that it was inconceivable someone could form a financial task force in Colorado and not include the expertise of the State Treasurer.

This was apparently a big deal for Stapleton supporters, with right-wing blogs devoting multiple posts to the topic this week. In one post this week from the blog Colorado Peak Politics, the author makes the case for including Stapleton on the Task Force while at the same time complaining that the whole idea is stupid anyway — basically repeating what teenagers across Colorado are saying this time of year when they don't get invited to Prom. Here's the "why Stapleton" argument:

Treasurer Walker Stapleton is the only statewide official who sits on the board of the Public Employees Retirement Association (PERA), and his expertise would be invaluable to the task force.  So why block him from participating?


How About Those Bush Family Ties, Walker Stapleton?

Jeb Bush, Walker Stapleton.

Jeb Bush, Walker Stapleton.

The Denver Post's Lynn Bartels reported yesterday, Treasurer Walker Stapleton is getting some family help from former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush at a fundraiser next month.

Oh wait, you didn't actually know Walker Stapleton is a member of the illustrious Bush family, did you? It's not a secret of course, but judging from cousin Jeb's favorability ratings in yesterday's Quinnipiac University poll of Colorado voters, it may not be something Stapleton wants to lead with:

Jeb Bush, who is coming to Colorado next month for a fundraiser for state Treasurer Walker Stapleton, has some work to do when it comes to raising his appeal in the Centennial State.

A new poll released today by Quinnipiac University shows Bush with the most lopsided favorability ratings of all the potential 2016 presidential candidates. Only 29 percent of Coloradans have a favorable opinion of him, while 40 percent have an unfavorable opinion. Another 30 percent hadn’t heard enough about him to form an opinion.

Bush said Wednesday he is thinking of running for president, his strongest statement yet about the 2016 contest.

Those numbers don't bode well for a third Bush as President of the United States, folks.

Just so everybody's clear, Colorado Treasurer Walker Stapleton's first name Walker is also George Walker Bush's middle name, and one of George Herbert Walker Bush's middle names, and if you didn't already know this, George W. Bush (and Jeb, naturally) is Walker Stapleton's second cousin. Stapleton's 2006 wedding was held at the Bush family's Kennebunkport, Maine peninsular compound named Walker's Point. The Washington Post reported that Stapleton was working out with George W. Bush when Bush got the call in 2000 that the election in Florida was going haywire. We were obliged to note all of this again for the record back in 2010 when Stapleton rather ludicrously said on the campaign trail:

I’m proud to say I’ve never been part of inside politics.

After being in office four years, not to mention cousin Jeb coming to town, hopefully he's dispensed with that.

With all of this in mind, here's our question: if Stapleton's Bush family lineage was more broadly known, how would Colorado voters respond to that in this year's elections? Might cousin Jeb's low approval ratings be any guide?

Audio: Did Suthers Just Dis Walker Stapleton?

An unintentionally hilarious quote from outgoing Attorney General John Suthers, interviewed this week on Colorado Public Radio:

JOHN SUTHERS: You know, if you can't handle the heat, and your sole objective in life is to cater to your political base, run for Treasurer, [Pols emphasis] run for something else but don't run for Attorney General.

Hey, wait a minute! We know somebody who resembles that remark.


Present treasurers excluded, right? Or not? Suthers is pretty careful about his choice of words, folks…

Statewide Candidates Q4 Fundraising: Winners and Losers

El Paso County Clerk Wayne Williams.

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

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

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

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


Pat Quinn Comes to His Senses, Withdraws from Treasurer Race

Pat Quinn, State Treasurer

This sign marks the end of your ability to be recognized.

Democrat Pat Quinn announced today that he was ending his race for State Treasurer after five months of raising little money, spending most of it, and touring the state in an effort to find out just how completely unknown he was outside of Broomfield (press release after the jump).

The term-limited Mayor of Broomfield, Quinn jumped into the race for State Treasurer in June, oddly entering the contest on the same day that Democrat Betsy Markey was making her announcement for the same campaign. Quinn was (and remains) a virtual unknown even in Democratic party circles, so his announcement was unexpected for many reasons.

Quinn had a very weak Q3 fundraising period, reporting just $33k raised and $7k in the bank (or about $72,000 less than Democratic Treasurer candidate Betsy Markey), and when the reports came out we noted that it was time for Quinn to start thinking about where this was really headed.

But Quinn's campaign will be missed for one thing: It was the only campaign to go public with statewide polling numbers, giving us a glimpse into the potential popularity of a variety of elected officials. In fact, Quinn may be the only candidate in the history of Colorado politics (maybe even national) to intentionally release to the press results of a poll showing that 91% of Coloradans had never heard of a Pat Quinn.

So long, Quinn. It's been…brief.


Statewide Candidates Q3 Fundraising: Winners and Losers

Cynthia Coffman

Cynthia Coffman (R) was one of several candidates for whom Q3 was their first full fundraising period.

For many statewide candidates in Colorado, the Q3 fundraising period was their first full quarter to be shaking out the loose change from supporters and other well-wishers.

The Q3 reports also give us our first chance to take a good look at most of the entire field of candidates, though a couple will keep us waiting another few months (Mike Kopp and Wayne Williams did not file their campaign committee paperwork until after the Q3 deadline).

So who did well, and who laid a big ugly egg? Take a look after the jump to find out.


Walker Stapleton Raises $325k

Republican Treasurer Walker Stapleton reported an impressive fundraising total for Q3, bringing in $325,185 for the three months ending in September.

Stapleton has been fairly quiet since first getting elected in 2010, and Democrats Betsy Markey and Pat Quinn have set their sights on unseating the incumbent. Stapleton has done very little fundraising since 2010, but he made up for that in a big way in Q3 — collected three times as much money as Markey.

Interesting Results (and Strategy) Revealed in New Statewide Poll

Democrat Pat Quinn, who surprised political observers by jumping into the State Treasurer race earlier this month (on the same day that Democrat Betsy Markey announced her candidacy) took another unusual step today. This morning Quinn released the full results of a statewide poll that, spin from the campaign aside, really aren't all that favorable to the little-known Broomfield Mayor.

Betsy Markey

Not Pat Quinn

State Treasurer Walker Stapleton


The strategy here is obviously to try to get potential supporters and donors to believe that Quinn is truly a viable candidate, though the results of the poll really don't work out that way. As the polling memo explains (Anzalone/Liszt/Grove did the survey), however, things look good for Markey and not as good for incumbent Republican Walker Stapleton:

Walker Stapleton is unknown and ill-defined. Stapleton enters the race with no incumbency advantage – only 22% of voters know who he is (11% favorable / 11% unfavorable), including only 23% of Republicans who can rate him. Independent voters are among the least familiar, only 16% can rate him.

Once voters learn very basic information about him (his partisanship and his job title), more voters are able  to  rate  the  job  he’s  doing  – 36%  approve  of  the  job  he’s  doing,  though  52%  are  still  not able  to  rate   him.

The memo tries to make the case that Quinn might be better for Democrats than Markey because of the latter's "high negatives," but the numbers aren't really that bad for her.

The numbers mean little for Quinn no matter the spin, because he has to be able to beat Markey in a primary first — and this poll doesn't address that issue.

Let's break down some of the more interesting numbers: 


Flashback: Walker Stapleton, Gold-Hoarding Teabagger

Walker Stapleton.

Walker Stapleton.

FOX 31's Eli Stokols sets the scene today:

Colorado Treasurer Walker Stapleton, a Republican, announced Thursday that he’s seeking a second term.

Not surprisingly, the entire GOP establishment is lining up behind Stapleton, whose press release touted the support of Attorney General John Suthers, Broncos vice president John Elway, Rockies owner Dick Monfort, his 2010 primary rival J.J. Ament, attorney Norm Brownstein and businessman Larry Mizel.

“Our accomplishments in the Treasurer’s office are not partisan or controversial but examples of common sense solutions for the taxpayers of Colorado,” Stapleton said in a statement…

Treasurer Walker Stapleton's first term in office as Treasurer is coming to a close, and it's proven to be a good deal for him–not least for his sweet arrangement that allows him to collect a six-digit income from his side investment business while drawing his taxpayer-funded salary. Treasurer Stapleton's investment strategy for the state has not been overly controversial to our knowledge, though we do hear complaints from time to time about the rate of return. But there was a time, back in 2010, when Stapleton was singing a very different tune–and while "Tea Party" furor raged, and Stapleton faced a Republican primary opponent, it was sometimes necessary for Stapleton to advocate for fiscal policies both "partisan" and "controversial."

For example, take this recorded debate between Stapleton and opponent J.J. Ament from June of 2010:

In this 2010 debate against Ament, Stapleton warned of a coming "hyperinflationary environment" due to various evil Obama tax-and-spend depredations, a very popular prediction on the right at the time, and recommends Glenn Beck-style that "using gold" as a "hedge against inflation" is "something we need to investigate."

At the time Stapleton said this, the price of gold was extremely high, and anti-government "Tea Party" paranoia sentiment was peaking. But as it turns out, we did not enter any "hyperinflationary environment" after 2010, and the price of gold today is hundreds less than its peak–or for that matter, the price it was during this debate in 2010. That should make any financially literate voter very happy that Stapleton didn't take his own advice.

Now folks, we're not naive, and we honestly doubt that Stapleton meant a word of this nonsense when he offered it in a primary whose terms were dictated by the radical right. This was a season, after all, when most every Republican candidate was compelled to repeat, for lack of a better term, goddamn crazy talk.

But really, somebody should be asked about this–Stapleton, Larry Mizel, somebody. Does every Republican who ran the "Tea Party" gauntlet in 2010 get a pass for the crazy things they were "forced" to endorse?

Let's get some "GOP establishment" types to say so then.

Two Democrats Announce for State Treasurer

Former Congresswoman Betsy Markey announced her candidacy for State Treasurer this morning (full release after the jump), as we noted earlier. Her entry into the race to defeat Republican incumbent Walker Stapleton had been rumored for months, and until today there were no other potential Democrats considering the office.

And then there was Pat Quinn. The term-limited Mayor of Broomfield announced out of nowhere this afternoon that he, too, would be running as a Democrat for State Treasurer. Check out his strange press release after the jump, the topline message of which is "efficient transportation and accessible open space."

If you're confused by Quinn's announcement, you're not alone. Markey has considerably better name recognition and fundraising capabilities, so Quinn has a long way to go to make this a competitive race. But if he knew he was going to run for Treasurer, why wait until now to announce the news? With no other Democrat in the race, Quinn could have been out beating the bushes for months now — and perhaps shown enough strength to convince Markey not to run in the first place.

Since Markey's base is in Northern Colorado, theoretically she could face a tough Primary against a Democrat from the Denver area…but not against a candidate who is also from Northern Colorado. It would seem that there must be more behind Quinn's apparently sudden announcement — at least, there should be. Unless Quinn has the money to self-fund his campaign to a significant degree, there's little reason to think he can make a serious run at Markey.


The Big Line Updated

With the 2013 legislative session behind us, we've updated The Big Line with our latest projections. Of note:

  • It looks more and more as though Republican Scott Gessler will run for Governor rather than Secretary of State (as we suggested last year), so we've moved his line "off" the board for SOS.
  • With Gessler off the board, the race for SOS is anybody's guess. Maybe Democrat Ken Gordon will arise from his five-month slumber, or perhaps there will even be a Joe Neguse sighting. Either way, the big news will be if Jefferson County Clerk & Recorder Pam Anderson decides to enter the race, as expected.
  • There aren't any real scenarios whereby Democratic Sen. Mark Udall does not get re-elected, so we've adjusted his odds accordingly.
  • We've changed CD-6 to make Democrat Andrew Romanoff a slight favorite over Republican Rep. Mike Coffman. Romanoff is off to a strong start, and the DCCC seems particularly enthused about a race Democrats probably should have won in 2012.

Several Likely 2014 Candidates Have Yet to File

Where’s that coin that I flipped?

We've long passed the Q1 fundraising period for 2014, and while it is still early, there are quite a few candidates who have yet to even file an official candidate affidavit to run for office next year.

Of course, there are several reasons why you might wait to mail that piece of paper. Republican Rep. Mark Waller, for example, is widely believed to be planning a run for Attorney General, but there's no benefit to filing a candidate affidavit at least until the end of the legislative session.

The other thing to remember is that candidates for state office must file a personal financial disclosure form within 10 days of submitting their official candidate affidavit; some candidates may not have that information together yet, or may not be ready to disclose their recent finances. For someone like Gov. John Hickenlooper, who separated from his wife since last filing a candidate affidavit in 2010, this process could be significantly more complicated. 


Back in Colorado, Betsy Markey Being Recruited for Treasurer

Betsy MarkeyFormer Democratic Rep. Betsy Markey is back in Colorado after spending the last two years working in the Obama administration, and she's already being heavily recruited by Democrats to run for State Treasurer in 2014.

Markey is the first Democratic name we've heard as a potential opponent for Republican Treasurer Walker Stapleton; until now, there hadn't been so much as a rumor of a potential Democratic candidate. Stapleton did upset Democratic incumbent Cary Kennedy in 2010 and would be a tough opponent, but the lack of interest from Democrats to this point has had more to do with low interest in the job, rather than concern over Stapleton's political skill. Markey is the kind of experienced, charismatic candidate that would be a stark contrast to the soft-spoken Stapleton, and her name ID would also help overcome one of Stapleton's innate advantages. Markey has only been back in Ft. Collins for a few weeks, but Democrats have been encouraging her to make a run for the job since the Party's annual Jefferson-Jackson Day Dinner in early March. She has not yet indicated whether she wants to jump in the race.

Markey served one term in Congress after an upset win over Republican Marilyn Musgrave in 2008. She lost her bid for re-election to Republican Rep. Cory Gardner in the 2010 Tea Party wave year. Markey stayed in Washington D.C. during the last two years after being named Assistant Secretary for Intergovernmental Relations under Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano. Markey left that position in January to return to Colorado and focus more on Syscom Services, an IT consulting firm that she co-founded in the late 1980s.

As you've probably noticed, we've had some trouble with The Big Line since our move to a new platform. Markey will likely be on the Line as soon as we unkink things.