2010′s Top Story: Inside a Broken Wave

Across the country, the 2010 election will be recorded as an historic defeat for the Democratic Party. From the sweeping wins in state legislatures we discussed earlier for the GOP to the biggest loss for Democrats in the U.S. House in many decades, these midterm elections saw the usual trend of a new President’s first midterm going badly for his party magnified, with a few notable exceptions, into a rout.

That the state of Colorado was one of those exceptions is the result of well over a year of hard work by highly dedicated Democratic campaign staff raising funds and chasing ballots, combined with key individual scandals that broke up the Republican ticket just enough for Democrats to pull out something they can call a victory here. That Democrats were able to win in the highest-profile statewide races, namely U.S. Senate and the governor’s race, but lose three other less prominent statewide contests, shows where Democrats were able to stave off through pugnacity and timely investment their “wave” backed opponents–and where they weren’t.

But above all, the GOP in Colorado blew the greatest opportunity for a sweeping victory that they had since they began losing elections here in 2004. For a host of reasons including the ongoing economic recovery, the fading of recent polarizing battles over economic recovery spending and health reform from memory, and an aging, in many cases already-beaten bench of contenders for high office, the Colorado GOP’s best opportunity to start undoing the long-term damage done to its prospects in recent years was this year; and they failed to take advantage.

Reacting desperately to their failure to thrive on the national “wave” that resulted in wipeouts for Democrats all around the nation, Colorado Republicans pushed every chip in the center of the table in 2010, and we believe it’s going to cost them at the polls in future elections. Republicans alienated Latinos, the fastest-growing bloc of voters in the United States, with Tom Tancredo, and women with Ken Buck. Internal strife, fault lines that trace back to the battle over 2005′s Referendum C and even before, racked the party from the earliest stages of the primaries.

Republicans bowed to the extremist “Tea Party” to win primaries and chase the myth of their influence, and they made insane claims and promises that they cannot possibly keep in the process–like Scott Tipton’s “plan” to cut the government in half, and Walker Stapleton’s blatherings about schools “competing with prisons” for funds. They elected some positively crazy new people in the legislature like Kathleen Conti; who are going to feed material to the Democrats for as long as they are in office, and who they may come to regret lending their brand.

2010 served as a powerful validator of the reasons we’ve been giving for years that success has eluded the GOP: in Colorado, Republicans could win; and have won in past elections by running moderate, trustworthy candidates who don’t seek office on a platform of tearing the civic institutions of this state to the ground. But instead, the GOP in this state has veered toward thoughtless ideologues and wedge-issue obsessed embarrassments in recent years, while Democrats have been able to present themselves as responsible (and restrained) leaders who are serious about governing–and protecting the basic things everybody values. Things that will make even the most fickle and impressionable voter stop and think.

Unless that changes–and it hasn’t since Democrats started winning elections in Colorado a little over six years ago, with the GOP only moving farther right in response–the result will not.

Live Blog: Journalism and the 2010 Election

( – promoted by Colorado Pols)

With the Rocky Mountain News gone and journalism in the midst of major changes, did Denver media outlets provide citizens with the information needed to make informed decisions during the 2010 election? What were the journalistic triumphs and lapses during the election cycle?

Join us for a live blog covering a panel of five Colorado journalists discussing how the news media covered the 2010 election. The forum gets under way at 2 p.m. in the 2nd floor Terrace Room at the Lawrence Street Center, 1380 Lawrence St., in downtown Denver.

The panelists are:

Charles Ashby, Political Reporter, Grand Junction Sentinel

Curtis Hubbard, Political Editor, The Denver Post

Adam Schrager, Political Reporter, 9News, Producer/Host YOUR SHOW

Eli Stokols, Political Reporter, KDVR Fox 31 and KWGN TV

Kristen Wyatt, Reporter, Associated Press

Colorado Statesman political reporter Ernest Luning will be live-blogging the discussion here at Colorado Pols starting at 2 p.m.

Paul Teske, Dean of UCD School of Public Affairs, one of the panel’s sponsors, will offer introductory remarks and Jason Salzman will moderate.The discussion will be driven by questions from the audience.

Your live-blogger will be able to pass on questions submitted below, so have at it!

1:57 p.m. - The crowd is gathering for the big discussion. Organizers might have been optimistic booking a room with about 150 seats — only 17 people are here so far, including panelists, UCD staff and technical crews — but the School of Public Affairs has done a great job setting things up.

2:02 p.m. - Another dozen or so audience members have arrived, including at least a couple reporters with notepads, laptops and smartphones out. Still plenty of seats in case anyone in the vicinity of 14th and Lawrence wants to stop by.

2:08 p.m. - Some statehouse Dems have shown up. Rep. Nancy Todd and House Majority Communications Director Katie Reinisch — who is departing her position soon to open a frozen yogurt shop — are here. Hickenlooper campaign spokesman George Merritt just walked in. So the discussion won’t just be journalists talking about journalism, there will be some politicos here too.

2:15 p.m. – The forum is getting started. Jason Salzman credits Media Matters for inspiring this discussion, based on post-election panels the media watchdog organization sponsored after the last election.

Colorado Pols gets a shout-out — a commentator on this site said this panel would be print and broadcast journalists kissing up and back-slapping. We’ll see.

Salzman says non-traditional political coverage will be discussed, but the panelists are unapologetically from traditional print and broadcast media. This was also in response to a remark made by a Colorado Pols contributor when news about this panel was posted here last week.

2:17 p.m. - Ashby says the Rocky closing has had an effect on coverage, but it’s an open question whether other media picked up the slack. (His wife worked at the Rocky.) Thinks people were well served getting information. Different perspectives on the same story around the state. “When you add bloggers and online coverage, you get more.”

Hubbard, the Post’s political editor, says he is the panelist who probably misses the Rocky the most. He used to start his day seeing what the competition had that he didn’t. Now he looks at a number of outlets. The Post didn’t change the way it covers elections because the Rocky is gone, takes charge seriously. Feels The Post did well providing coverage this season. Would the paper have benefitted from having the Rocky as a competitor? Yes. Fascinates Hubbard to be working with political reporter Lynn Bartels instead of working against her.

Hubbard continues: Scope changed this cycle — focused more on local coverage, so less on 5th and 3rd congressional districts than might have been seen in previous elections.

Schrager says whenever community loses a gatekeeper, it’s a challenge. There has been a proliferation of advocates who label themselves as media. Democracy is a participatory sport — no excuse for voters not to be educated. You want to know about votes, they’re easily at hand. Yet when a community loses an advocate for the community — not advocate for a party, platform or approach to issues — that’s depressing. We should all encourage journalism — it’s the only industry that’s referred to in the First Amendment.

Schrager continues: The goal is to make un-user-friendly institution (government) more user friendly. Asked questions of candidates, including those posed by viewers, and focused on political advertising. Doing all those ad checks gives reporters the opportunity to discuss issues TV news doesn’t usually address. For example, Senate race had the 17th Amendment as a topic — rare to discuss that on TV news.

Viewers need to be active and skeptical, Schrager adds. That means everyone has to ask questions. If you don’t get a good answer, follow up and seek out your own answer. Nontraditional media is a condemnation of old media, that it’s not delivering the news — but it ultimately rests on readers and viewers.

2:28 p.m. - Stokols says Channels 4 and 7 don’t commit to covering politics every day. Channel 7 will cover a story when it thinks it can get a big scoop and promote it. Reporters in town more about promoting themselves, others in town more about engaging and educating the public. There’s a wide audience that isn’t on Colorado Pols and reading blogs all day — one way to reach them is through TV. There’s a lot of information out there. For people actively looking for it, it’s easy to find, but if you’re not actively pursuing it, it’s harder to find. What might decide elections is TV commercials.

“Sadly,” Stokols says, a handful of journalists can’t match the messaging of unchecked millions of dollars in advertising. We saw that in this election “maybe writ larger than ever before,” cites Senate race as example.

You see this in how Senate candidates run campaigns — limit appearances, don’t make candidate available, count on only a couple reporters showing up at events. Then all voters have to go on is the constant TV advertising. Message in that race: Michael Bennet thinks Ken Buck might be crazy. That’s what a lot of voters had to go on.

Wyatt arrived in town just before the Rocky closed so doesn’t have a perspective on how things have changed since Denver was a two-daily town. No shortage of information. New media benefits campaigns — campaigns able to drive message through traditional media. More interest from her bosses not in substantive journalism but in the kinds of stories Politico and blogs have. Everyone’s after page views.

2:33 pm. - Kathleen Beatty from the UCD School of Public Affairs has the first question. In view of proliferation of blogs, ability to select TV journalism in line with your own point of view — to what extent are people losing info based on the sources they pick?

Ashby says when he started in journalism, newspapers were general circulation. Television built a single community many decades ago, but now everything is splitting up again. People are hearing what they want to hear, not what they need to hear. If all you’re interested in is quilting, you’re not going to get a slap in the face saying “hey you need to know what’s going on over here!” Some people need to know about things and are missing out. Vitriol proliferates because of this.

Hubbard says he “will echo that.” He gets calls from readers — this cycle he noticed first time, people would criticize them for not covering something when in fact the Post had. What happened was the Post broke the story long ago and then the reader’s favorite outlet would finally pick it up. Danger of being in echo chamber, only seeking information that confirms world view. “We try, believe it or not, to operate in that middle ground.”

Hubbard: Whether it’s talk radio, internet or niche publications, people can stay within their own zones quite easily. But the question is, where are the unaffiliated voters? They’re not watching Rachel Maddow or FoxNews — they’re in a different place and traditional media’s challenge is to engage them. It’s something the Post is giving some thought to.

Schrager says his dad says you’re happier if you hang out with people who speak in commas and question marks, not exclamation points. Now it’s not only louder but more selfish. KUSA, Post and UCD had a forum on health care reform — lots of people engaged in this. One person stood up and insisted on yelling, interrupting the event. “I was thoroughly depressed after the event,” Schrager says. “We found common ground” in the forum, but one individual spoiled it for Schrager. People have to compromise and find common ground with others, but politics seems to have become more selfish. This “vexes” him, he says, and becomes worse with every election.

Stokols says the polarized environment makes it tougher to do his job. He works for a station that has “FOX” in its name, so even though he’s not associated with the national FoxNews cable station, people presuppose otherwise. People expect coverage from Fox31 to echo coverage from the national cable channel and people are surprised when it doesn’t. People often don’t have questions, they’re looking for support for their positions.

Wyatt says it’s often people have the answers and are looking for support, but that might not be new.

2:46 p.m. - Matt Arnold, organizer of Clear the Bench, says he got more coverage for his campaign in the New York Times than he did in the Denver Post. Arnold says the issue didn’t hit broadcast news and barely hit print.

Ashby says it wasn’t the only issue in the state. Fewer journalists, more issues, less space — how much can we do? He says Clear the Bench was unique statewide, but wasn’t brand new, other efforts have been similar locally and in other states. Not trying to offer an excuse, but there are “things that are, frankly, bigger,” including governor’s race, tea party and other things. Would like to cover everything but do what we can.

Hubbard says Clear the Bench was covered by judicial desk, not his political desk, but he thinks the Post covered it more than the New York Times did. It is a news judgment — looking for issues that resonate with readers. Voters in Larimer County educated themselves on judges involved in the Tim Masters case. We didn’t cover it to your liking, but we didn’t ignore it, Hubbard tells Arnold.

2:52 p.m. - Big issue covering the statehouse?

Budget cuts. Budget cuts.

Stokols says education reform, how new leadership in the House plays out, how Hickenlooper manages the split legislature. He adds to previous question — regrets he didn’t have a staff but also regrets having to cover “Is Dan Maes quitting today?” time after time, but that was a pressing story each day it came up. Regrets not covering 3rd district, treasurer’s race, attorney general’s race too.

Schrager says what people might not realize is he and Eli are “bureaus of one.” Streamed Clear the Bench debate — did 9News cover everything well enough? It’s a participatory sport, folks, people got a start.

2:55 p.m. - Question on McInnis story, how it came about — seemed like it came from routine background checks, is that what happened? And why did it take until July?

Hubbard says Karen Crummy was assigned to governor’s race at start of race. She was charged with doing her best “not to be distracted by the shiny object,” instead come up with stories on who these people are, what makes them tick. Crummy noticed $150,000 payment from Hasan Foundation — as Salzman pointed out later, total was $300,000 — and this raised eyebrows. Post started digging as soon as they got draft water articles from the McInnis campaign. Went through “countless” other floor speeches and op-eds McInnis had written, as well as for other candidates. Maes took history working undercover in Liberal, Kan., off his website and this turned into a story too.

Question — if Rocky had been around, would Post have done it faster, maybe early enough for Republicans to know in time to pick someone else?

Hubbard says they got word 7News had the story the afternoon they were putting it to bed “for tomorrow’s paper,” so put an abbreviated version online. Lesson: Can’t sit on news.

Instead of having a single reporter do it, might have had a “flood the zone” strategy if the Rocky had still been in competition.

Ashby says to get it first isn’t as important as getting it right. Sometimes the competition can make you do that.

3:01 p.m. - Question – What’s criteria for covering minor parties?

Hubbard says Tom Tncredo was covered. Generally threshold is 10 percent support. Paper has limited resources, can do a good job covering, say, the two major party Senate candidates, not all 11. Everyone learned more about American Constitution Party because Tancredo “hijacked” their spot on the ballot.

Ashby says libertarians get coverage some places because they do well.

3:04 p.m. – Question: Was national coverage of Colorado stories a resource or competition?

Hubbard says national coverage is not competition except for new media in D.C., Politico being the prime example. If national networks or Jon Stewart are covering something, it’s because it’s already known in Colorado.

Ashby says it was nice when Colorado Pols linked to his stories because of its beef with The Post, because it used to be his scoops would get swallowed up by coverage by bigger outlets.

Stokols says national media often bit on stories pushed by advocacy groups — using the Ken Buck “buyer’s remorse” story as an example — that local media would often pass by.

Hubbard says Post is “trying very hard to give credit where credit is due,” and adds that this is a sea change in the culture. If the Post is going to ask for credit when its work is picked up, it should extend the same credit.

3:09 p.m. – Question: What do you do poorly, what will you improve?

Wyatt says editors sometimes want stories to fit a narrative — is Ken Buck similar to Christine O’Donnell? — and this can skew things.

Schrager says media makes a multidimensional world two-dimensional. Questions submitted by readers are encouraging in their breadth, but in the end you can’t ask every question because of time and space limitations. He says local TV coverage was “hands down” better than it’s ever been, in part because everyone was checking ads.

Schrager says he was more disappointed with the political crowd this year. Rep. Betsy Markey was the first candidate in history to turn down a 9News debate, for instance. Covering politics at the expense of policy is frustrating to him.

Hubbard says involving the audience to a greater extent is crucial.

3:15 p.m. - Can old media and the blogs work together?

Ashby says political reporters are skeptics and get spun all the time. He says he never reads an article in a magazine until he knows the author, so when info comes in from unknown sources, he’s less apt to dive right in.

Stokols says he’ll look at Colorado Independent stories with more of a grain of salt, but if reporters know where they’re coming from, they’re valuable.

3:19 p.m. - State Rep.-elect Rhonda Fields wants to know why Post endorsed Ryan Frazier over Ed Perlmutter.

Hubbard says editorial page editor will invite candidates in for discussions and questions. Then editorial board decides who to endorse for whatever reason. Hubbard says he doesn’t participate in discussions so can’t say how they work, but perception of involvement of newsroom in the process led him to decline to sit in on interviews this year. He adds that, as a voter, he only uses endorsements for down-ticket races. “Raise your hand if the Denver Post endorsement swayed you on a major statewide race,” he says, skeptical it did for anyone here.

Ashby says endorsements don’t affect his coverage at all.

Stokols notes TV stations don’t endorse but points out without the Rocky, there’s no counter to the Post when it comes to big statewide endorsements. Question came up after Post reported on McInnis plagiarism and Maes “Serpico” incidents, and then the Post editorialized both should get out of the race. Maybe it’s because the Post is the last big paper standing.

3:25 p.m. - How do political stories make it onto the air or front page when there’s mayhem, sports and weather competing for space or time?

Stokols says there’s often a battle to get things on the air because some would rather see sports or weather.

Schrager points to the public file each broadcast station has. He encourages viewers who feel stations aren’t doing enough political coverage to file letters.

3:27 p.m. - It’s the last question of the panel discussion: What was the most fun story to cover?

Ashby says “very broadly” the governor’s race. It was tiring, because so much broke so fast.

Wyatt says covering medical marijuana was most fun because it was fascinating and strange to anyone out of state.

Hubbard says Walker Stapleton’s “doo-doo sandwich” remark was the most fun.

3:28 p.m. – And it’s a wrap. Attendance was good — maybe 40-50 people. Thanks for reading and feel free to discuss any of the topics raised during the forum.

Walker Stapleton’s Hit-and-Run: As Bad as You Thought?

The campaign of Colorado Treasurer-elect Walker Stapleton released long-awaited documents yesterday related to his DUI arrest in 1999, an arrest that became a major point of contention in the closing days of his heated (and successful) campaign against incumbent Cary Kennedy. Reporter Tim Hoover of the Denver newspaper wrote today’s story based on the original police reports on the accident provided by Stapleton. In San Francisco, where the incident occurred, police reports are not considered public records; Stapleton, or another party to the incident, were the only ones who could legally request them.

And folks, there appears to be a very good reason why Stapleton “couldn’t” produce this report before the election–a serious lack of exonerating information. The police report describes a “loud and belligerent” Stapleton attempting to leave the scene of the accident, even after police followed him with their lights on. According to this report, the biggest reason Stapleton was unsuccessful in fleeing the scene was the damage his Jeep had suffered in the accident. The report says Stapleton then got out of his disabled vehicle strongly smelling of alcohol, and was “unsteady on his feet” in addition to loud and belligerent.

In short, it sounds about as bad as those “liberal smear merchants” always said it was.

The court records we originally released in this case last month do make reference to “injured pedestrians,” but the Colorado Independent’s reporting clarified that these were passengers in the taxi involved in the accident. Ginger Vasquez’s account of the collision, which generally comports with the facts in all of these records, was published by the Independent in detail before the election.

Stapleton claims in today’s story that there are yet more documents in the case he is trying to get his hands on, including documents that explain–presumably in a manner favorable to Stapleton–why the charge of leaving the scene of the accident was dropped. We’ll have to take his now-questionable word on that, though it’s been suggested to us that none of the facts as reported need to change for Stapleton to have simply accepted a plea bargain from an overburdened court system. Meaning that those exculpatory details waiting just over the horizon, like Stapleton told you these police reports contained before he won the election, may well not exist at all.

Unfortunately for the voters, it’s too late now for anything other than “buyer’s remorse.”

Winners and Losers, Part One (Or, Just the Winners)

With the dust from the 2010 election (mostly) settled, it’s time for our Winners & Losers. Today we’ll give you the Winners, and tomorrow, the Losers.

Click below to read about the big Winners of 2010…


Michael Bennet

In a huge Republican year, in the most expensive and competitive Senate race in the country, Bennet was elected in his first-ever campaign for office. Two years ago today, 99% of Coloradans had never heard of Michael Bennet. It’s been a wild ride since Gov. Bill Ritter first appointed Bennet to the seat, and Bennet got better as a speaker while becoming a powerhouse of a fundraiser. Love him or hate him, there’s little question that he’s one of the big winners of the 2010 election.

John Hickenlooper

In 2005 there were a lot of political observers (including us) who thought that Hickenlooper passed up a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to run for governor at the height of his popularity. The disastrous campaign of Republican Bob Beauprez basically handed Bill Ritter the keys to the Governor’s Mansion in 2006, but who could have guessed that Republicans would put up even less of a fight for an open governor’s seat just four years later. We’re not discounting the fact that Hickenlooper is a supremely gifted politician, but it must have been nice to have been perhaps the only Democrat in Colorado who really didn’t have much to worry about on Election Day.

Dan Maes

Seriously, folks. Maes was perhaps the most unqualified candidate for the state’s highest office since…well, maybe ever. He wasn’t running to win anything, or even to prove anything to himself or anybody else. Dan Maes was running for office, quite simply, because he was able to keep his bills paid and see his goofy mug on television for 18 months. Say what you will about the man, and we’ve said plenty, but history will forever show that he was The Republican Nominee for Governor of Colorado in 2010. Not bad for a guy with a failing business who nobody had ever heard of before.

Colorado Television Stations

There are probably a lot of people whose jobs are safe for at least a few years thanks to the record-setting amount of money spent on TV ads in 2010.

Ed Perlmutter

Even though he had won two previous elections, and even though he was always considered the favorite to hold this seat, there was always a little uncertainty about whether CD-7 was really safe for Perlmutter or whether he had just survived in the past because of a good climate for Democrats and a poor group of Republican opponents. Consider that question answered once and for all. Despite running in a year that saw huge Republican gains nationwide, and despite a good (though definitely flawed) opponent in Republican Ryan Frazier, Perlmutter won re-election by 11 points. Think about that for a moment – in a district that is fairly competitive in terms of voter registration, and in a terrible year for Democratic incumbents, Perlmutter absolutely crushed Frazier. And not only that, but Perlmutter never had to fake being more conservative or alter his approach to do it. His natural and personable style, which he keeps going in off years with outreach initiatives like “Government in the Grocery,” are going to keep him in this seat as long as he wants-and it bodes well for Perlmutter as a candidate for higher office.

Cory Gardner

Talk about being in the right place at the right time. Gardner made scores of stupid, unforced errors and was solid but never particularly impressive in fundraising or messaging…but still he defeated Democrat Betsy Markey to win CD-4 by a 12-point margin. Gardner certainly deserves credit for his victory, but we can’t help but consider how awful his Republican primary challengers performed, and how his many mistakes just never seemed to become bigger errors. Politics is largely about taking advantage of the right opportunity, and Gardner certainly did that and more.

John Suthers, Scott Gessler, and Walker Stapleton

The Republican candidates for Attorney General, Secretary of State, and Treasurer, respectively, had different situations but benefitted from a similar voter reaction. With Democrats winning the race for Senate and Governor, there’s no question where the first protest vote landed from angry voters: The first state candidate they didn’t recognize. Suthers stepped up his game against a tough opponent, while Stapleton was perceived (fairly or not) as having taken the high road in a close fight. As for Gessler, in any other year, in any other race, there’s no reason he should have been elected after such a ludicrously bad campaign; without any real presence on TV, there’s no strategic reason why Gessler should have defeated incumbent Democrat Bernie Buescher. But Gessler (like Suthers and Stapleton) won because of what he was not: A Democrat. In a Republican year, voters chose Republicans in these three races in which they didn’t know much about any of the candidates.

Brandon Shaffer and Morgan Carroll

Senators Shaffer and Carroll put together a protection plan that held Democratic losses in the Colorado Senate to a single appointed seat picked up by the Republicans. In an election where Democrats inarguably suffered down the ballot from low-information protest votes against incumbents, protecting the Senate was a remarkable district-by-district feat shared by their winning candidates (below).

Gail Schwartz

Senator Schwartz’s nail-biting win over wealthy challenger Bob Rankin helped Democrats stage a remarkably successful defense of the Colorado Senate this year. Schwartz is one of several Senate candidates, including John Morse in Colorado Springs and Jeanne Nicholson in the mountain towns, whose success means that Governor-elect Hickenlooper is more than just a talking veto pen.

Frank McNulty

Though he’s also earned a spot as a “Loser” as well (see tomorrow’s “Losers”), the new Speaker of the House still gets the credit for (barely) getting a majority of his House candidates over the finish line. We’ve been frank about our assessment of the quality of candidate recruitment for Republicans this year, but once that was on the table, give McNulty credit for keeping things together just enough to allow a GOP takeover.

Libby Szabo

Republicans have had a difficult decade in Jefferson County, long considered the most important county in Colorado for any statewide hopeful. We can’t tell you what’s going to become of Ms Szabo in the long term, given her penchant for weird political/religious zealotry (not to mention her poor decision-making on her direct mail pieces), but she worked incredibly hard to win her election in HD-27 and give the GOP a new foothold in the central part of the county.

Democrats Mourn Loss of Kennedy, Eye Gessler Warily

We can tell you that a lot of Democrats took the ultimately unsuccessful defense of Colorado Treasurer Cary Kennedy quite personally, and felt some emotion when they got this today, well after her fate was known:

I called Walker Stapleton last night and offered him my congratulations.  Walker has my full support, and I ask you to give him your full support as he works for all of the people of this state…

Thank you to each of you for your support over this campaign. I could not have done it without you.

It has been an honor for me to serve over these past four years and I am very proud of the work we have accomplished together.

Treasurer-elect Walker Stapleton has got four years now to shake the stigma applied to him by opponents this election, both from his family ties to George W. Bush and the trouble in his past–the details of which have still not been fully disclosed. He’ll be under the watchful eye of the Governor, of course, so anything too exotic financially Stapleton might propose as Treasurer should receive the appropriate supervision/intervention/head-pat.

Secretary of State-elect Scott Gessler, on the other hand, is another matter entirely.

It’s tough to know what to expect from Gessler, the elections attorney typically called to defend GOP-leaning clients from various charges of election law violations now charged with enforcing Colorado election law. There’s no question that Gessler is smart enough for the job. The question is whether he will turn his office into a branch office of his party. The best example of this in recent memory would be Gigi Dennis, who as a lame-duck appointed Secretary of State unsuccessfully tried to change the rules late in the 2006 elections to favor Republicans. Her actions were pretty much uniformly condemned, but her political career was over anyway and she didn’t care–the temptation to game the election with the power of her office was too great.

Well folks, there’s a fairly good possibility that you ain’t seen nothing yet.

Post shouldn’t forget about Stapleton’s DUI case

Even though Walker Stapleton has been elected State Treasurer, The Denver Post shouldn’t forget to make sure he turns over, at some point, the police report from his 1999 DUI arrest in San Francisco.

In an interview Oct. 27 on KHOW’s Caplis and Silverman show, Stapleton said he ordered the report and promised to deliver it to The Post’s Tim Hoover as soon as he gets it. Under California law, the public does not have access to this document.

Last week, I criticized The Post for not interviewing one of two woman whose cab Stapleton hit when he drove his car through a red light and into their taxi. An interview with this victim was published in the Colorado Independent.

In the KHOW interview, Silverman seems to have made a mistake (uncorrected by Stapleton) when he said on the air that “as recounted by you, the accident wasn’t even your fault.”

In fact, Stapleton told Silverman:

“What happened is, I had been drinking, and I had been under the influence of alcohol at the time, and I was hit by a taxi cab. And it was at an intersection where I had a blinking red and the taxi had a blinking yellow light. It caused my car to spin, to do a 360, and there were two people in the back of the taxi at the time.”

To me, it appears that the accident was Stapleton’s fault, even if the taxi hit him.

One of the women in the taxi also said Stapleton’s car ran a red light.

This victim also said something that Stapleton has denied, namely that he tried to flee the scene, but his car was cut off by other cars, possibly taxis.

The police report may clear this up, to some extent, as could documents requested by the Independent, which has raised questions about possible drug use by Stapleton.

Strong Colorado, a liberal group, published a piece on Pols explaining why the old DUI still matters.

When Stapleton turns over the report to The Post, a full story-including an interview with the victim-should be run to clear up the air or pollute it, depending on what the record shows.

Partial transcript of interview with Walker Stapleton on the Caplis and Silverman Show

10/27/2010 HOUR 4

Silverman: This involves a DUI conviction. Isn’t that something that the voters should know and determine whether it’s important to them or not.

Stapleton: Sure. Absolutely. And that’s why I admitted to this transgression 12 years ago. I was 25 at the time. It was a mistake that I’ve owned up to, that I’ve been honest about. In fact, the first time I was asked about it I was honest about it in a very public forum, and I’ve taken full responsibility for it. I served my community service as a result of this. It’s not something I feel great about. It’s not something that needs to be put into a political attack ad where the facts are twisted and distorted to make it look like things happened that simply didn’t happen. That is disingenuous to voters and it’s also insulting to voters-as if voters would vote on issues like this and not issues that pertain, policy issues, which pertain to the job of being state treasurer of Colorado.

Silverman: Sure, good people can get DUIs. There was an accident involved, and some people were shaken up. There was an issue about whether those people were in a taxi or on foot, and whether you left the scene of the crime or not. Why don’t you explain what really happened?

Stapleton: Well, you know quite well from your experience as an accident attorney that a lot of things take place in an accident. What happened is, I had been drinking, and I had been under the influence of alcohol at the time, and I was hit by a taxi cab. And it was at an intersection where I had a blinking red and the taxi had a blinking yellow light. It caused my car to spin, to do a 360, and there were two people in the back of the taxi at the time. I didn’t even know that there were two people in the back of the taxi, wasn’t even told about it until my insurance company contacted me and said that both of these two individuals had applied for and received back massages. Liberal interest groups tried to drum up this story by saying that I had hit a number of pedestrians. That did not happen, and it was confirmed that it did not happen by the San Francisco Police Department. But they still did not drop the story even though The Denver Post spent the time and got a categorical denial from the Office of Public Safety of the San Francisco Police Department that pedestrians were not involved in this accident. When I explained that I had pulled out of traffic to the San Francisco Police Department, they dropped the hit-and-run charge. You know, from being a lawyer, that just because you are charged with something and you go through the legal process, now 12 years old, doesn’t mean you’re guilty of it….

Silverman: I agree. A lot of good people can have a DUI. And as you recounted, the accident wasn’t even your fault. And I could see how that could happen. But there are DUIs and then there are DUIs. Some people have a .082 blood alcohol content, which gets them in trouble in Colorado right now under with DUI. Heck if you’re over .04 you can be charged with driving while ability impaired. And  you sometimes seepeople with huge blood alcohol content and, what was yours? Did you take-

Stapleton: The answer is, I don’t remember. It was well under .2, I can tell you that. And, just as evidence that I have absolutely nothing to hide, and Tim Hoover of The Denver Post can confirm this, as soon as the Kennedy campaign, in an effort to smear me, brought this issue up again, I immediately attempted to order the police report from the San Francisco Office of Public Information, at which I will deliver a full report to Tim Hoover at The Denver Post as soon as I receive it. Unfortunately, there are bureaucratic circles involved with receiving such a report. But I have told Tim at The Post that I have absolutely nothing to hide with this accident. I have owned up to my mistakes….

Colorado Election Results Open Thread

UPDATE (11:25): The big Denver paper and many of the other big TV stations have some major problems with their reporting. The Denver Post, for example, had Buck ahead of Bennet 48-46, on the strength of a 52-45 advantage in Boulder. A quick check of the Boulder Clerk and Recorder’s website has Bennet leading Buck 67-29. There are a lot of somebodies who should have caught this immediately — there’s no way Boulder County would go solid red for any Republican.

We recommend sticking with the results from Fox 31, which not only has a page that seems to actually load correctly, but isn’t making any obvious errors that we can see.


UPDATE (11:16): It looks like we may be headed for at least one state legislative recount. In HD-29, Democratic Rep. Debbie Benefield trails Republican Robert Ramirez by 148 votes (50.34% to 49.66%).


UPDATE (11:12): That didn’t last long. With 56% of ballots counted, Bennet and Buck are now tied at 47-47.


UPDATE (11:00): Buck has pulled ahead of Bennet for the first time tonight, leading 49-46 with 49% of precincts reporting.


UPDATE (9:50): It’s looking like the race that will have the biggest impact from an ACP candidate will not be the one anybody expected. The Secretary of State race is neck-and-neck, but the ACP candidate is already pulling 6% of the vote. Buescher may well win this seat by virtue of the American Constitution Party.


UPDATE (9:44): The percentage of precincts reporting continues to rise, and Michael Bennet continues to hold a 50-45 lead over Ken Buck. This is not good news for Buck, because early returns should have favored him (Republicans voted in higher numbers than Democrats in early and absentee voting). Given Buck’s numerous gaffes in the last two weeks of the campaign, it’s not likely that late voters are going to choose him over Bennet, so it’s hard to see how Buck is going to make up 5 points with 27% of the vote already tallied.


UPDATE (9:08): It’s always fun to see those really early returns that show absurd numbers. In HD-22, Democrat Christine Radeff is pummeling Republican incumbent Ken Summers 7,875 to 12. Yes, 12. For a few more minutes, anyway.


UPDATE (9:05): Republican Cory Gardner is being declared the winner in CD-4.


UPDATE (9:03): The Secretary of State race is coming down to the wire, and may be decided by the number of votes pulled in by the American Constitution Party candidate. Meanwhile, the race for Attorney General seems to be widening in favor of incumbent John Suthers.


UPDATE (9:00): Democratic Rep. Ed Perlmutter has been declared the winner in CD-7.


UPDATE (8:38): The old adage that Jefferson County decides statewide elections is largely holding form. Michael Bennet and John Hickenlooper, unofficially, are doing better in Jefferson County, as is John Suthers. Cary Kennedy and Walker Stapleton are neck-and-neck in Jeffco, while Scott Gessler leads Bernie Buescher in the large west Denver suburb.


UPDATE (8:35): Ladies and gentlemen, your next Governor…John Hickenlooper! The race has been called for Hick. Now the excitement turns to whether or not Dan Maes can cross the 10% threshold. From a Hickenlooper press release:

Colorado voters on Tuesday elected John Hickenlooper, a brewpub pioneer turned Mayor of Denver, as the 42nd Governor of Colorado.

“I am humbled and honored by the decision Colorado’s voters have made, and I accept the challenge you have entrusted to me to lead our state as Governor,” Hickenlooper said. “This is not the end of our journey. This is the beginning. And it starts with bringing people together.”


UPDATE (8:20): Here’s a couple of developing stories to watch. All of this can change, of course, but as of right now…

  • Bennet maintaining early lead on Buck
  • Hickenlooper holding early lead for Governor
  • Tipton well ahead of Salazar in CD-3
  • Kennedy surprisingly strong in Treasurer race
  • Buescher may be saved by ACP candidate for SOS

  • Third party turnout not yet playing role in CD-4
  • Attorney General race staying close
  • Every major ballot measure getting crushed
  • Both Rep. Diana DeGette (CD1) and Jared Polis (CD2) have been declared winners already
  • —–

    We’ll update results as we can. In the meantime, please keep them updated, with links, in the comments below.

    *NOTE: Candidates in bold and italics have been declared the winner by at least one local news outlet.


    Michael Bennet (D): 47%

    Ken Buck (R): 47%

    56% reporting


    John Hickenlooper (D): 51%

    Tom Tancredo (ACP): 37%

    Dan Maes (R): 11%

    48% reporting


    Cary Kennedy (D): 51%

    Walker Stapleton (R): 49%

    44% reporting


    John Suthers (R): 57%

    Stan Garnett (D): 43%

    44% reporting


    Bernie Buescher (D): 44%

    Scott Gessler (R): 50%

    Amanda Campbell (ACP): 6%

    44% reporting


    John Salazar (D): 45%

    Scott Tipton (R): 50%

    63% reporting


    Betsy Markey (D): 41%

    Cory Gardner (R): 53%

    Doug Aden (ACP): 5%

    Ken “Wasko” (I): 1%

    69% reporting


    Ed Perlmutter (D): 53%

    Ryan Frazier (R): 42%

    16% reporting

    Why Walker Stapleton’s 11-Year Old DUI Matters

    ( – promoted by Colorado Pols)

    In June 1999, GOP candidate state Treasurer Walker Stapleton was charged with DUI and leaving the scene of the accident in San Francisco where two women were injured.  This would not be a story in this election, except for Stapleton’s mishandling of both the accident and its aftermath.

    Stapleton brushed off the DUI in a September 30 debate, saying a cab hit him and he did community service, equating the incident to having to eat a “doo-doo sandwich.” He blamed the victims.  (The reality is that he accepted a plea bargain down to a DUI, with three-year probation, twice weekly AA meetings and court-ordered community work.)

    The court records, obtained by Campaign for a Strong Colorado, and one of the injured women tell a very different story than the candidate’s.  Stapleton was originally charged under the wrong section, implying he hit pedestrians. That charge was amended several days later, to charges of running a flashing light and hitting a cab in the intersection, causing injuries and leaving the scene.

    One of the victims, Ginger Vasquez of Santa Monica, CA, was alone in the backseat of the cab that was hit by Stapleton. She describes the vehicle spinning after the impact and seeing Stapleton’s car driving away.  

    After Stapleton’s car stopped down a steep hill, she says, two cabs boxed in his vehicle to prevent him driving any farther. She has never talked to Stapleton and did not know his name until recently. She does not know the other woman injured in the accident. Stapleton never approached the cab to find out if everyone was all right. Most importantly, she has no motive to lie about events that night.

    Stapleton, who has an obvious motive not to tell the whole truth, continues to shift the blame and will not produce police reports (unavailable to the public) of the accident.

    Colorado’s treasurer accounts for $20 billion and manages a $6 billion investment pool of public funds annually. Integrity, responsibility and good decision-making is critical to this job. So are honesty and transparency. That’s why his behavior is disturbing.

    Cary Kennedy has a solid record of public service. She has made the state’s finances more accessible to the public and has invested the state’s assets wisely during one of the worst economic downturns in history. Her opponent’s best shot at her? Stapleton erroneously accuses Treasurer Kennedy of holding only government jobs in her career, which her resume and several media truth tests have refuted.

    Ironically, Stapleton was born into one of the country’s wealthiest, best-connected families, sharing a family tree with George W. and George H.W. Bush. He attended prep school in Connecticut and expensive colleges and universities. The truth is that Stapleton has never had to find a real job outside his wealthy family’s umbrella.

    Stapleton had the money to hire a very high-profile attorney to represent him in his DUI/hit and run. The attorney has all the records that Stapleton claims would support his story. He’s had more than month to produce them. Also, Stapleton is one of the few people who can ask the police department to produce the accident account.

    The silence is deafening.

    Why hasn’t victim’s account of the Stapleton DUI crash appeared in The Post?

    ( – promoted by Colorado Pols)

    The Denver Post is missing a major element in its reporting on State Treasurer candidate Walker Stapleton’s 1999 DUI arrest, specifically that a victim’s eye witness account of the incident, reported in the Colorado Independent, directly contradicts portions of Stapleton’s version of the story.

    During a KBDI debate, Walker admitted that he got the DUI, according to a Spot blog post Sept. 30.

    The Post reported that after the debate, Stapleton confirmed that he got the DUI after 1) a taxicab ran a blinking yellow light hit his vehicle and 2) he drove about a block away and pulled over. Stapleton told The Post that police dropped a hit-and-run charge after he explained to police how the accident occurred.

    Then, on Friday, the Spot reported that ColoradoPols posted court documents stating that Stapleton hit two pedestrians and tried to drive away from the scene of the accident.

    San Francisco police told The Post that the court documents were at least partially wrong, that no pedestrians were involved, but the police wouldn’t elaborate further.

    Other details about the case, including 1) if the taxicab hit Stapleton’s car or if Stapleton ran a light and hit the cab and 2) whether Stapleton tried to drive away and was stopped, could be revealed in the police report, which Stapleton has requested, according to the Post. The Colorado Independent has reported that the charges indicate that Stapleton may have been using other drugs.

    Trouble is, we already know from an article in the Colorado Independent on Monday that one victim’s version of the story contradicts portions of Stapleton’s, and The Post hasn’t reported this at all, either in a story on the topic yesterday or in Friday’s piece.

    Monday’s Independent piece included an interview with a woman who was in the taxicab involved in Stapleton’s crash. She was one of two victims listed in court documents.

    The Independent reported that she was in the taxicab and saw Stapleton’s car run a red light and hit the cab. It also quoted the victim saying:

    “When the cab stopped spinning, I looked out the window and saw his jeep or whatever, a big car, pull to the side of the road down the hill. Then I saw his car start to move again. He was going to leave but two cabs came up the road- I think it was two cabs- they blocked him in. One went in front of him and the other went behind him, so he couldn’t drive away.”

    (The name of the victim is not a secret, but Independent reporter John Tomasic told me the victim asked him not to use it, so he didn’t.)

    I emailed Post reporter Tim Hoover and asked if he tried to contact the woman who was in the cab that Walker Stapleton allegedly hit. I also asked, if he hadn’t been able to reach her, why, in reporting on the topic, he didn’t at least refer to the Colorado Independent’s interview with her.

    The victim’s version of the story is critical, because it partially corroborates the court documents and it provides an important perspective for voters who are trying to figure out whether to believe Stapleton’s story.

    A victim/witness is a totally legitimate source for voters to hear from. If she has a hazy recollection of the incident, which does not appear to be the case, then The Post could simply report this.

    I did not immediately hear back from Hoover.

    New Cary Kennedy TV Spot Slams Stapleton over Hit-and-Run

    That’s the latest ad on the air in the Colorado Treasurer’s race, from incumbent Cary Kennedy attacking opponent Walker Stapleton over his belated disclosure of a DUI accident Stapleton was involved in–an accident that drew an initial hit-and-run charge for Stapleton, and that court records indicate caused bodily injury to two victims. From Kennedy’s release:

    “This ad calls into question the ethical choices Walker Stapleton has made,” said campaign manager Serena Woods.  ”Coloradans need to be able to trust that the State Treasurer is honest and accountable.  When it comes to Stapleton’s criminal background, he has not been forthcoming.”

    Walker Stapleton has made false statements in other circumstances during this campaign. Just last week, The Denver Post and 9News each determined that a statement he personally made directly to voters in his campaign ad is “false.” While the Kennedy campaign has repeatedly asked Stapleton to pull the ad, he has cynically refused.

    This ad from Kennedy, on the other hand, is both not false, and more damaging than Stapleton’s. This could be turning into another race, much like the Senate race this year, where the winner of the GOP primary emerges as the less electable candidate. Stapleton’s primary opponent, J.J. Ament, was a solid candidate with good name recognition and party support, who simply couldn’t keep up with the out-of-state (and personal) money Stapleton was willing to lavish on this race.

    Unfortunately for Stapleton, all the money in the world can’t make court records go away.

    BREAKING: Stapleton Slammed With New Hit-and-Run Disclosures

    UPDATE: Treasurer Cary Kennedy’s campaign jumps on the story in a release this afternoon (follows). Says spokesperson Serena Woods, “Coloradans need to know the facts, especially if Stapleton expects voters to trust him with 6 billion dollars of their money.”

    Bad news for GOP Treasurer candidate Walker Stapleton today–in a press release from the liberal coalition Campaign for a Strong Colorado, the court records from Stapleton’s DUI arrest in San Francisco ten years ago. The details of this arrest, which was briefly mentioned in a debate between Stapleton and Treasurer Cary Kennedy, appear to be considerably worse than what has been disclosed so far, including injured pedestrians. From Strong Colorado’s release:

    Court records surrounding GOP Treasurer candidate Walker Stapleton’s DUI hit and run are in conflict with the candidate’s explanation of the accident. Stapleton in September admitted that he had a DUI in San Francisco in 1999.

    Stapleton downplayed the incident during the September debate. He told the Denver Post that a cab ran a traffic light and hit him.

    If that’s the case, there are several questions that remain unanswered:

    ·      Why did the SFPD charge Stapleton with DUI, hit and run and hitting pedestrians?

    ·      Why were the charges amended a month afterward to include leaving the scene of an accident without giving aid to the injured women?

    ·      Why did he not mention that two people were injured as a result of the accident?

    ·      Is he blaming the victims when they don’t have any ability to tell their side of the story?

    San Francisco Superior Court records indicate that Stapleton was charged with DUI, and hit and run. A third charge of failure to stop and give aid to the injured women was added a month later. Stapleton pleaded guilty to DUI and served community service.

    Here are the court records of the case as forwarded by Strong Colorado. There does appear to be a major gap between what Stapleton disclosed about this incident and the facts. In our experience, that tends to create a problem for aspiring candidates much worse than the bare facts themselves.

    Which is not to understate those worsening bare facts. Pretty much any way you look at this, it’s really bad for Stapleton–the words “race-ending” seem perfectly appropriate.

    Kennedy Campaign Calls on Stapleton to Verify Facts of Hit-and-Run Incident

    Denver, CO – Over the past several weeks, two different blogs have reported two very different accounts of a DUI traffic incident involving GOP candidate for State Treasurer, Walker Stapleton.

    “The court documentation posted on ColoradoPols.com does not match up with the statement Walker Stapleton gave to The Denver Post in their blog ‘The Spot’,” said campaign manager Serena Woods. “There are serious charges in these court documents that Walker Stapleton left the scene of an accident. He has an obligation to prove what really happened that night. Colorado voters deserve to hear from a third party who can verify the story.”

    Walker Stapleton has already made false statements in other circumstances during this campaign. Just last week, The Denver Post and 9News each determined that a statement he made in his campaign ad is “false.”

    “Coloradans need to know the facts,” said Woods. “Especially if Stapleton expects voters to trust him with 6 billion dollars of their money.”


    I admit it… I voted a split ticket this year.

    Just so you don’t have to read through all of my musings, I will let you know the split part up front:

    Governor – Tom Tancredo

    Treasurer – Cary Kennedy

    Coroner (Arapahoe County) -Michael Doberson

    The rest of my ballot was for Republican candidates.

    Most years that I have voted, it has been pretty much for Republicans straight down the line, even in those pesky “non-partisan” races, we could always find out who was registered as what and kind of vote accordingly along party lines.

    I didn’t anticipate that this year would really be any different, though I must admit that my anticipation was somewhat dated, say mid-2009.  At that time we had half a dozen or so credible potential Republican candidates for Governor and I figured that over the course of the next year or so I would get to know who they were and then vote for the one that I thought had the best chance of returning the Governorship to Republican control.   Boy was I wrong….  Who would have ever thought that all of the candidates would drop out early on the make way for the anointed one, Scott McInnis?  Well that is all but one, seems like some never heard of outlier guy named Dan Maes decided he was running regardless that people told him he had no chance.  To be honest, I kind of had to admire the guy for continuing to run, knowing he was up against the machine.

    But then disaster struck, we found out that Scott McInnis really was a no-talent ass clown right before the primary, so what happened?  Republicans voted for Dan Maes to be the candidate figuring he couldn’t be any worse than a plagiarizer.  Wow, couldn’t have been more wrong there.  It turns out that Dan Maes was an even bigger no-talent ass clown than McInnis ever was.  I was somewhat shocked there as McInnis set the ass-clown bar pretty high, so it seemed like an incredible feat to all of a sudden make McInnis now look like the more credible candidate.   First we heard that Maes was a successful businessman, then the truth comes out that he is broke, and we are talking about generic beer and top ramen broke.  Then we find out that his campaign is actually turning out to be a job for him where he actually gets paid, I mean, “reimbursed”.  Then he tries to tell us that he was an undercover cop, and it turns out that he was less effective than Barney Fife.  I am not sure what he is going to tell us next about himself, that he is Santa Claus?  I am pretty sure that is not true.  In this case I wish some to the journalists in the Denver Pravda would have done some digging into the candidate’s background before the primary election, rather than waiting until after wards to drop the bomb on us.  Then again, that would never happen as the Pravda has been drooling all over themselves at the thought of a Governor Hickenlooper.

    So what is a republican to do, we have stuck ourselves with a pathological liar as a candidate, and not even the kind of pathological liar that we can stomach.   I could have voted for Hickenlooper, but I just do not like his policies.  Something he said during the debates back when he was running for mayor still sticks in my craw.  When he was asked about how to handle the homeless situation in Denver, he proposed a multi-county tax, very similar to the stadium district tax, to pay for his initiatives.  That just bugged me as I never have been, no never will be, a resident of the City of Denver, but his solution was to have me pay a tax for a Denver problem.  That just bugs me when the first club to come out of the bag is to get some other people to pay for a problem that does not have a direct impact on them.  There are several other candidates out there running for that office, but considering I have never heard of any of them, or have only heard stupid things about them i.e.: the guy that put an ad on Craigslist for a Lieutenant Governor candidate, I didn’t give them any consideration.

    So I voted for Tom Tancredo.  I know full well that Tom is a polarizing figure and that many people on this site detest him and call him all sorts of names, etc, but I think he is the best candidate for the job.  His views on a lot of things, not all but a lot, are more in line with mine than any of the other candidates in the race.    Based on the polling numbers, it appears that he may have a shot at winning the election as his numbers keep going up, while that other “Republican” candidate’s numbers keep going down.  This will really be a battle over the independent voters, but I think Tom does have some appeal to them.  In a race such as this one, wedge issues seem to boil to the top, and in that case Tom has a significant advantage in getting voters who want illegal immigration stopped to vote for him.

    Treasurer’s Race:

    I voted for Cary Kennedy, primarily because I think she has actually done a pretty good job managing the state’s finances during a recession.  Admittedly that is a tough job during any economic downturn, but she has done well.  While I do not like some of her politics, most notably amendment 23, as it put spending mandates on a collision course with Tabor, I just don’t see that as a reason that she should be fired from her job.  This normally would have been a difficult decision to come to, but considering that I have spoken to Walker Stapleton on several occasions, and he could never give me any real answers to my questions, it made the decision a lot easier.

    Coroner’s Race (Arapahoe County)

    Michael Doberson is the sitting County Coroner and is well qualified for the position.   He is an M.D., a PhD, and is board certified in forensic pathology.  That’s an impressive list of qualifications for that job.  The Republican candidate was someone that the Arapahoe County Republican powers that be talked into getting into the race about 5 minutes before the nomination process.  Anybody that has to be convinced by outside people to run for an office that they were clearly not interested in to begin with shouldn’t be there.  I would much rather have qualified people in that position rather than a political hack.

    I actually put a lot of thought into how I voted this year and decided that the Party over person methodology no longer works for me.  If anyone is interested in how I voted for the amendments, just ask and I will be happy to share that as well.

    The Choices for the Colorado State Races

    First off I’m moderately liberal (or as it’s described up here in Boulder, a right wing reactionary). But I try to be even-handed and fair when I lay out the choices in the state level races.

    Second, we Democrats have done a lousy job at the federal level. But at the state level I think we’ve done very well dealing with an awful situation. I also think the Republican members of the legislature have done a good job. A lot of very important legislation was crafted and passed this past session with active effort by members on both sides of the aisle.

    Governor – Hick-inator vs. The Tanc

    John Hickenlooper comes with the best possible preparation for the job, mayor of our largest city. As mayor of Denver he has done a good job of professionally managing the city and handling the cuts required from reduced revenue. He will almost certainly continue the existing approach of trying to further streamline the government.

    Tom Tancredo comes with decent experience having managed a division of the federal Department of Education and as a U.S. Congressman. It will take him a bit longer to get up to speed but he should be very capable of doing so. He will almost certainly address some of the budget constraints by reducing state employee salaries and benefits to the level he thinks is appropriate. There is some validity to this approach, but it’s going to be a bloody fight.

    Both have said they are going to look closely at what they can do to help Colorado businesses grow jobs. And there is a lot the state can do. John Hickenlooper will lean more toward actions the state will take to help while Tom Tancredo will lean more toward things the state should stop doing to get out of the way. A good example is Oil & Gas regulation where Hick will look for ways to reduce the negative impact of the regulations while Tanc will look to roll them back. My take on eliminating the Oil & Gas regulations is that it’s akin to renting your house to a rock band – the initial check is great but when you come back to a wrecked house and your dog has been molested, it’s not that good a deal.

    If you want the state to reduce its size, reduce what it does, you should vote for Tom Tancredo. He will use the reduced revenues as a means to accomplishing this. If you want the state to continue its present service level, with improvements, but the level we are at, and an increase when the economy recovers, then you should vote for John Hickenlooper.

    And no matter which one wins, most of their job will be trying to minimize the impact of further major reductions in state funding. And regardless of which one wins, higher education is hosed (the constraints in the constitution leave Higher Ed and prisons as the only large budget items that can be cut).

    Treasurer – Kennedy vs. Stapleton

    The treasurer has a single primary job – keep the state funds safe and get a decent return on the investment. That’s it. Yes they go talk about various issues. Yes they help set up financial systems to assist government entities that have limited resources and bonding ability. But the key issue is the state funds. Any money lost in the invested funds is an additional budget cut.

    Cary Kennedy has done a superb job where the state has lost no invested funds and has had a return on the investment that most Wall St investment houses can’t equal. With a record like this I don’t care what party the Treasurer is, I don’t care what their political philosophy is, they have my vote. I’d vote for Dick Cheney if he was delivering these results.

    Walker Stapleton might do a good job. But the best he could aspire to is to equal Cary’s track record. Walker himself has said that Cary has done a good job, but he thinks he can do better. However, he has nothing to demonstrate that his investment acumen would be superior. He has stated that he will use his investment banker background to try and improve on Cary’s record. With higher risk comes higher reward so he could get us a better return, but we could also end up with significant losses.

    If you view the Treasurer position as getting the best return on our investments, and doing so safely, then you should vote for Cary. If you’re willing to take a larger risk of losing some of our investments, but possibly getting a higher return from those investments, then you should vote for Walker. Personally I just don’t see how it makes any sense to change Treasurer with her results. Especially when state revenues are declining further.

    Attorney General – Garnett vs. Suthers

    John Suthers has been our Attorney General for the last 6 years and until recently was viewed by Democrats & Republicans as doing a good job. Yes we Democrats would disagree with some of his decisions more often than Republicans, but all in all a competent fair AG. The Attorney General in many ways should be run in a nonpartisan manner and Suthers, just like Ken Salazar, has (mostly) done that. But…

    John Suthers was previously the U.S. Attorney for Colorado. At that time he approved the temporary release of convicted felon Scott Kimball, an individual who one judge had stated should never be released. John spent 5 minutes reviewing the request, approved it, and provided no oversight of Kimball after he was released.

    I think it would be unconsciousable to re-elect and individual who sprung a felon from prison early, for no good reason, with no real supervision, leaving him free to murder innocent people. And John Suthers has disclaimed any responsibility for this. If holding our elected officials accountable is to have any meaning, I think we must vote for Stan Garnett.

    Stan Garnett is the District Attorney for Boulder County where he has been doing a superb job and has been scrupulously fair as well as significantly improved the efficiency of the office. Stan is clearly qualified and would make the A.G. office more focused on what it can do to help the people of Colorado.

    Secretary of State – Buescher vs. Gessler

    Bernie Buescher has been the Secretary of State for the last two years and has continued in the Mike Coffman approach (previous SoS, a Republican) of running the office effectively and in a nonpartisan manner. However, Bernie has also ignored the serious problem where his office allows criminals to fraudulently take over as the registered agent for any company registered in Colorado.

    Scott has spent a lot of his professional career working for very partisan Republican groups including Coloradans for Change, Colorado Conservative Voters, and the list goes on… Now this is not proof that he would be partisan in the SoS office, after all this is a partisan elected position. But it is reason for concern. On the plus side, he has said that he will make securing company registrations one of his top priorities in office.

    If you want a Secretary of State that is mostly nonpartisan, but does lean a little Democratic, and you’re not too concerned about the ongoing theft the SoS office presently enables, then you want to vote for Bernie. If you want a Secretary of State that will shut down the ongoing theft the office enables, or you want a SoS that would probably lean heavily Republican, then you want to vote for Scott.

    Personally I’m torn on this one. Because the SoS oversees elections I want them to be nonpartisan and I think Bernie is a better choice by that criteria. But as a business owner I don’t want to see companies robbed, and the accompanying job loss that entails.

    State Legislature

    I think the legislature this past session did a superb job. Not only was a lot of that a bipartisan effort, but the main legislation shoved through in a partisan manner was some of the worst thought out of the session (undoing some of the tax exemptions). I know I will get yelled at by my fellow Democrats but I think the best thing for our state, and Colorado comes before party for me, is a divided legislature.

    So for the House, if you are undecided, my suggestion is to vote for the Democratic candidate. They are by and large quality candidates (there are a few exceptions). The House is going to stay Democratic.

    And for the Senate, if you are undecided, my suggestion… uh… OW! eh.eh… I can’t say it! Well let’s say that there are a number of quality candidates, although there are also a surprising number that have serious felony arrest records. But if it’s a Republican without a record for domestic violence or other serious felony, give them a look.

    first posted at The Choices for the Colorado State Races

    The Beej Endorses!

    A rare glimpse inside the conservative mind. Crossposted from facebook:

    Endorsements (General Election)

    by [bjwilson83] on Wednesday, October 13, 2010 at 12:33am

    With general election mail-in ballots being mailed out today (or yesterday, by the time I finish writing this), it’s time for my endorsements. Here’s who I’m voting for:

    U.S. Senate: Ken Buck

    Ken is the clear choice for our next U.S. Senator. Ken has been everything from a janitor to a football coach to a Princeton grad, and that was all before he entered the political world. After obtaining his undergraduate degree, he attended law school at the University of Wyoming and then became a federal prosecutor. Later, after a short stint working for a construction company in Greeley, he ran for and won election to the office of District Attorney in Weld County. During his time as D.A. he has reduced crime by 50% and cracked down on illegal immigration. He has started programs to help families with juvenile delinquency and truancy, relieve jail crowding by treating those with mental and/or substance abuse issues, crack down on gangs, and reduce drunk driving. Ken’s office has reached out to the community, supporting a shelter for abused women, serving at a homeless shelter, and conducting blood drives. In short, Ken is a problem solver.  It’s no wonder he was easily re-elected. I would describe Ken as a tough guy, but someone who cares about your concerns. He’s exactly the person we need to send to Washington D.C. as our next senator.  As I said in an earlier note, Ken would balance the budget, promote economic growth, and clean up the corruption and back room deals in D.C. Meanwhile, his opponent is whining about Ken’s strong pro-life stance (Buck only makes an exception to allow abortion if the life of the mother is in danger) and twisting Ken’s words beyond recognition. Since Michael Bennet is afraid to run on his record of votes for Obamacare and the stimulus, he spends his days dreaming up outrageously false attack ads in fits of desperation. For some good debunking of this slime fest, check out the news stations for their fact checks on the ads, as well as these links:




    U.S. House of Representatives (4th CD – Northern Colorado and the Eastern Plains): Cory Gardner

    Cory grew up farming in Yuma, CO, and is probably best known as former U.S. Senator Wayne Allard’s legislative director. While his opponent claims to be a pro small business fiscal conservative, don’t let that fool you. Betsy Markey voted for all the same big government spending the rest of the Dems voted for. Cory is the true fiscal conservative in the race, and unquestionably pro-life to boot. I believe he is an elder in his church as well – an all around likable guy who will represent northern and eastern Colorado well.

    Governor: Tom Tancredo (American Constitution Party)

    I know, I know, shocker! I’m on the opposite side of the fence this time, let me explain. I was an ardent supporter of the Republican candidate Dan Maes for as long as I could be, but his campaign has just gone downhill since the primary. He appears in many instances to be less than honest, and is at 13% in the polls and falling. The last straw for many people was his recent endorsement of Democrat John Hickenlooper’s economic policies, which he had previously campaigned against. The gaffes, unanswered questions, and campaign mismanagement just keep piling up. I know Tom Tancredo voted for TARP. I know he supported some earmarks. But for the love of God, don’t waste your vote. Tom is a tough conservative who is also friendly and hard not to like. He would make a much better governor than the eccentric milquetoast urbanite affectionately known as the Looper. Tom isn’t going to back away from a fight, and he tells it just like he sees it. Think, dare I say, Chris Christie?

    Treasurer: Walker Stapleton

    Cary Kennedy’s policy seems to have been to just try not to screw anything up. It’s time to put someone in the Treasurer’s office who has a real world background in business and finance. Stapleton would do a great job with our money, stick up for the tax payer, and help solve the solvency problems with PERA.

    Secretary of State: Scott Gessler

    A fresh face, with experience in election law. Bernie Buescher has had problems getting ballots out to the military, among other things. Scott would also be better at preventing election fraud.

    CU Regent (4th CD): Sue Sharkey

    One of the hardest working women in America. A mother of CU students. No contest.

    CU Regent-at-large: Steve Bosley, I guess.

    I wasn’t impressed with his debate on Mike Rosen’s show; need more information. In general I believe CU is plenty liberal and we should support conservatives for the Board of Regents.

    County Commissioner (District 1): Lew Gaiter

    Great guy, love the cowboy hat. He is laser focused on economic recovery and attracting businesses (read, jobs) to Larimer County. A shoo in.

    Larimer County Sheriff: Justin Smith

    It’s a vote for the status quo, as Smith’s mentor is our current sheriff Jim Alderden. I think he’s done a pretty good job, although one point in favor of Jay Harrison is that he wouldn’t use traffic tickets as revenue generators. I’ve gotten one of those (missed a no left turn sign but no cars were around), and it’s not pleasant. Make up your own mind.

    House District 53: Dane Brandt

    It’s time for Fischer to go. He may be a professional engineer, but I just don’t know what he’s done for our community. Dane Brandt is a likable real estate guy who will support businesses, jobs, and economic growth.

    Whew, that’s it.  Sorry if I left your name off the list, it’s getting hard to remember all the candidates. Just shoot me a PM and I’ll add it. (Unless, of course, I’ve endorsed your opponent. Then you’re DOOMED! ;)

    Cary Kennedy’s On The Air

    Colorado Treasurer Cary Kennedy’s new ad, announced yesterday, is quite good–basic resonant issues (education), a solid positive message on fiscal responsibility, and–every political spectator’s favorite part–a nice, hard shot on GOP opponent Walker Stapleton. When we saw reports last February that Stapleton had actually said “it’s time education ‘competes’ for funds” against prisons, our first thought was, “that’s going to make one hell of a TV spot.”

    Well folks, here you go.