The Grand Gardner Gamble: Enter Karl Rove?

GOP uberstrategist Karl Rove.

GOP uberstrategist Karl Rove.

The last three days have been some of the most dramatic in recent Colorado political history, with major changes affecting the races for the U.S. Senate, Colorado's 4th Congressional District, and very likely the Colorado gubernatorial race. The entry of Rep. Cory Gardner into the Senate race, which prompted the pre-arranged exit of erstwhile frontrunner Ken Buck and insider darling Amy Stephens from the GOP primary, has dramatically raised the profile of what was formerly shaping up to be an easy win for incumbent Democratic Sen. Mark Udall.

Knowing Gardner as well as we do, we wouldn't go as far as our friend Chris Cillizza of the Washington Post, who declares today that Udall had "the worst week in Washington" as a result of Gardner's challenge. Gardner has much hard-right baggage as a safe-seat wedge issue-loving Republican, both from the Colorado legislature and the U.S. Senate. Udall has a more legitimate fight on his hands than he did at the beginning of this week, primarily because Gardner can at least raise money (unlike most of the other candidates). But it's an incremental upgrade at best.

The question is, how did this elaborate bargain go down? State Sen. Owen Hill, who has announced his intention to stay in the U.S. Senate race despite Gardner's entry, says that Gardner tried to push him out of the race over a week ago–disputing Rep. Stephens, who claims she only got word of Gardner's impending entry into the race on Tuesday night. On KOA radio this morning, Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus flat-out said that this deal had been in the works for weeks.

PRIEBUS: I’ll just tell you that, I think what you're seeing happening, especially in the last few days, these are things that have been happening for weeks and months and I think there's more to come. [Pols emphasis]

Reliable sources now tell us that national Republican strategist Karl Rove was intimately involved in the maneuvering to push Ken Buck out of the Senate race and replace him with Cory Gardner. You'll recall that Rove was in Colorado one week ago for an unpublicized fundraiser for Rep. Mike Coffman–his presence there last week has been confirmed to us by numerous sources. We of course don't know what Rove's full schedule in the state was last week, but we can't ignore his presence here immediately prior to these dramatic events in the Colorado U.S. Senate race.

In addition to bringing in a more competitive challenger, we're told that Rove is particularly disdainful of Ken Buck, and made no secret of his contempt for the former frontrunner in the Republican primary. Buck's narrow loss in 2010 after a huge Republican investment would easily account for this view from Rove–and Rove's dissing of Buck could help explain why the "swap" of Buck for Gardner in CD-4 appears to not be anything like a done deal.

Bottom line: if this seemed like such a Machiavellian sea change that only someone on the order of Karl Rove could have plotted and engineered it, you might be more right than you ever suspected.

41 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. SocialisticatProgressicat says:

    Who wants to chip in for an "I Was Hand Picked by Turd Blossom" t-shirt for Cory?

  2. JeffcoBlueJeffcoBlue says:

    The stink of the Turd Blossom was all over this from the git go. No doubt about it.

  3. DawnPatrol says:

    No blossom, just a turd.

    Rove's beady-eyed, multi-chinned mug is gonna look GREAT on all of the upcoming anti-Gardner commercials!

  4. DawnPatrol says:

    And what cowardly tub of Jello ol' Buck turned out to be!

    "Yes Mr. Rove!  Right away Mr. Rove!  Whatever you say, Mr. Rove!  Anything else, Mr. Rove?"

  5. bullshit!bullshit! says:

    The trolls are kind of quiet about this one. Did Rove Rove them too?

  6. mamajama55mamajama55 says:

    Yep, that Rove – he knows how to fund and pick a winner, all right…not.

    Rove, through his two political outfits, American Crossroads and Crossroads Grassroots Policy Strategies, backed unsuccessful Republican presidential contender Mitt Romney with $127 million on more than 82,000 television spots, according to Kantar Media’s CMAG, an ad tracker based in New York. Down the ballot, 10 of the 12 Senate candidates and four of the nine House candidates the Rove groups supported also lost their races. –

    For grins, check out Rove imploding on Fox News when he found out that Romney didn't win Ohio.



    • DavieDavie says:

      He spent $127 million?  Not too shabby for taking in what, $300 million?  Why would I think most of that is currently sitting in an account in `the Cayman Islands?

    • Sunmusing says:

      One of the many dangers in this election is to underestimate Karl…He is as bad as anyone in predicting what is going to happen…but he is a nasty person with money and an agenda, and it would be perilous to ignore this guy…

  7. Duke CoxDuke Cox says:

    The grassroots conservative groups in this state should be furious. Their party is essentially telling them to shut up and move aside, the party elite will pick the candidates, thank you.

    When the party leadership speaks, all the good kids will line up and do as they are told. So now, AC becomes a Gardner shill. Am I right AC? You got the memo from party headquarters…right?

    • mamajama55mamajama55 says:

      I think AC stays a Buckaroo. Just aiming for a different elected office, now.

      Hey, you know what's really all about Freedom? The Red State posting guidelines, that's what. Absolutely no "Democrat talking points" shall be tolerated in posts or comments. I quote:

      13. The dissemination of talking points from the Democrat Party, or its politicians and allies, is not allowed.

      In other words, the crap we put up with, AC's side won't. Yay for Democracy.

      • DavieDavie says:

        Paranoid cowards are like that.  It's hard to face reality, so they invent their own.

        Delusions of adequacy are all they have — case in point, their current crop of candidates.


      • Duke CoxDuke Cox says:

        Wow. I was stunned by what I found at that link.
        One thing I just learned about “Red State” is how far removed from free speech they truly are. The definition of “echo chamber” is there in their posting rules.

        • Curmudgeon says:

          The Radical Right is all about fear.

          Free thought scares them. Progress scares them. They're all petrified, and talking smack to hide the fact that they're wetting themselves in terror over anything that's different.

          It's not surprising that Ted Nugent is one of their idols. A pants-shitting, draft-dodging badass with a big ol' gun is a pretty accurate picture of their base, wouldn't you say?  


      • Andrew Carnegie says:

        So instead you allow posters with different points of view and then threaten to out them?

        Yah for Colorado Pols.

    • JBJK16 says:

      The grassroots conservative groups in this state


      Such as?

      • Duke CoxDuke Cox says:

        There are three separate “Tea Party” groups in Mesa county alone. I suspect there must be several dozen such groups statewide.
        They have been suckered by and exploited by the corporate capitalists for a long time. Now they are being told to stay in their place, shut up, and let Karl Rove pick their candidates.
        I would be outraged if I were a Tea Party member.

        • Curmudgeon says:

          Nah, they're too submissive to the corporate Masters to be outraged. As long as they keep promising that someday, somehow, they'll make Obama's election unhappen, and they'll take away all those billions of dollars that welfare moms are using to buy Cadillacs and give it back to the Real Americans, the TeaHadists will keep licking their boots.  

        • mamajama55mamajama55 says:

          The recalls were fronted as a "grass roots" movement, even though all of the Hudak recall leadership came from out of District, and were Republican operatives and candidates. 

          In Pueblo, Victor Head and the Pueblo Freedom and Rights were originally mostly grass-roots, although they were quickly funded and steered by big dark-money groups such as Americans for Prosperity and the NRA. 

          I'd like to see the day when rank and file members of these "Tea Party" groups realize that their leadership isn't much different in motive nor tactics, from Putin's authoritarian forces. Absolute suppression of dissent must be maintained. At that point, I think that we would all have more in common with the rebels in Kiev than with the "Red State" trying to keep control of them. 

          • Duke CoxDuke Cox says:

            I just had this visual of the Tea Party as a pack of excited dogs, milling around, barking incessantly, waiting for Karl Rove and Dick Armey to throw the next stick for them to chase. Woof, woof! 

        • marklane1351 says:

          As far as candidates picked let us take a look at what happenned. Cory Gardner is a better looking, younger, more eloquent Ken Buck who was unbeatable in the fourth and brings one million dollars to his Senate Race. He was unbeatable in the fourth, but probably has more unwanted baggage that will upset moderates, women, and minorities in a statewide race. The smart play was to keep Cory where he was and go all in for Amy Stephens. If the Democrats get their act together they can find a candidate to run against Ken Buck and maybe beat him. But Amy Stephens is a woman and sponsored the Colorado State Exchange, so she had no shot of getting nominated and no chance of support from the national party. This is what Republicans do in Colorado for Statewide races. They pick a hard right candidate in a purple state and lose most of the time. Yogi Berra had a saying. If you do what you always done, you will get what you always got.

          • Andrew Carnegie says:

            ML, Amy Stephens had no chance and could not raise any money. She was not ready for the show.

            The Dems have no shot, and will not waste resouces, in CD-4.  It is a R+11 district.  Any leftover cash goes to Romanoff.  They target one seat and try to defend Udall this cycle.  

            Republicans try to take out Udall and Hick as their goal this fall.

            • ModeratusModeratus says:

              Stephens would have raised the money if she had stayed in. I personally wish she had stayed in. But I'm consoled by the fact that Gardner is a very strong candidate who also can beat Udall.

    • Andrew Carnegie says:

      Duke, were you involved in selecting Bennet?  

      Didn't think so.

      Who made that call?

      Progressives on the left and Tea Party-types on the right are treated similarly by those who call the shots.

      TP will be happy to pick up the Senate seat and have Buck take over in CD-4.

      • Republican 36 says:

        We're you involved in the selection of Senator Bennet?

        When there is a vacancy in a U.S. Senate seat the governor by law selects his successor who serves until the next general election. Senator Bennet was selected pursuant to law, not via some back room deal.

  8. Andrew Carnegie says:

    DC, their outrage will be mitigated when Udall loses.

    I think they will look at it as they went from 1 seat in Congress to 1 seat in Congress and 1 seat in the Senate.

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