We’re getting acquainted with the new book from 9NEWS political reporter Adam Schrager, co-authored by former GOP Rep. Rob Witwer, “The Blueprint: How the Democrats Won Colorado (and Why Republicans Everywhere Should Care).” In stores now, it’s a revealing look at key players behind the Democratic Party’s string of Colorado electoral victories beginning in 2004. The Denver Post ran an excerpt over the weekend:
For the year prior, multimillionaires Jared Polis, Pat Stryker, Tim Gill and Rutt Bridges had been gearing up to get involved in legislative elections. They held parallel conversations, each trying to find the best way to make a difference. In 2003, Al Yates and Stryker reached out to Polis and Bridges. In April 2004, Yates met with (lobbyist Ted) Trimpa for a lunch that established the connection between Stryker and Gill. One month later, Yates and Stryker took Stryker’s private jet to meet with Gill at his Aspen home, where they discussed transforming Colorado politics. Afterward, Yates, Bridges and Polis met in Fort Collins over dinner.
In time, isolated one-on-one conversations became group meetings involving more players with more access to resources.
Everyone wanted to knock out the Republican monopoly at the Capitol. To that end, Bridges, Gill, Polis and Stryker – who would be dubbed the “Gang of Four” by the Colorado press – agreed to pool their resources in pursuit of that objective. By the summer of 2004, they were ready to give money on a level never before seen in Colorado politics…
That summer, the group began to gather for regular weekly meetings in the Columbine Room [of the Colorado Education Association]. Joining them were Trimpa and Yates (who represented Gill and Stryker, respectively); progressive attorney and activist Michael Huttner; Bridges and Polis; state House assistant minority leader Alice Madden; Colorado Senate minority leader Joan Fitz-Gerald; and staff members and field coordinators Brandon Hall, Jill Hanauer, Anne Barkis, Paul Lhevine, and Tyler Chafee.
And so the Roundtable was born.
None of the participants remembers an “ah-ha” moment, no specific meeting where it all came together. When they started communicating, they had no clue what kind of an impact they could have.
“We really didn’t truly know how big this would become,” said Polis. “Clearly, when we started, we had no idea. I didn’t know this would have great historical significance, nor did anybody there, that we would transform Colorado. ‘Let’s get together and maybe we can flip the state Senate,’ that’s what we were thinking.”
Three elections later, with Democrats in control of the state legislature, governor’s office, both U.S. Senate seats, 5 of 7 House seats, every statewide elected office except for Attorney General–we’d say the historical significance question is settled.
Here’s another quote from Blueprint, that we think might sum up the role of “The Four Horsemen,” as they’re called disdainfully by bruised Republicans–from the horse’s mouth, page 199:
“Republicans don’t have principled, egoless financial leaders like Tim Gill and Pat Stryker who are willing to provide long-term investments,” [Jon Caldara] said.
Jon Caldara would know, since in many ways the “Colorado Model’s” initial inspiration, though it’s grown well beyond by now, was Caldara’s own Independence Institute, and the dominance the GOP itself enjoyed for years in Colorado prior to 2004. The key theme we see in Blueprint, which helps explain what Schrager and Witwer mean by “Why Republicans Should Care,” is the level of organization and professionalism (evinced by an absence of purity tests or friendly fire in general) among Democratic-aligned groups, thanks to the patient management of former CSU President Al Yates and attorney Ted Trimpa–versus a Republican apparatus that was plagued by infighting, dependent on wedge issues to rally the base, and above all, out of touch with voters.
Obviously much has changed beween the spring of 2004 and the present, and some of the dynamics that enabled Democrats to prevail in Colorado in election after election have shifted as an ipso facto consequence of majority power–but Blueprint provides a thoughtful examination of how Democrats got to the point of having something to lose to begin with.