The Things Republicans Say in Campaign Forums

Victor Mitchell

The Colorado Hispanic Republicans hosted a forum for GOP candidates for Governor on Wednesday in Westminster, and while frontrunners Walker Stapleton and Tom Tancredo did not participate, there were several noteworthy moments (Stapleton was never confirmed for the event; Tancredo was apparently absent because of the flu). Republican candidates in attendance included Victor Mitchell, Cynthia Coffman, Mitt Romney’s Nephew, Greg Lopez, and Steve Barlock.

We’re not going to bother writing about anything that Lopez, Barlock or Mitt’s Nephew had to say, because nobody cares. Instead, we’ll focus on some of the comments from Mitchell and Coffman (Mitchell won the Hispanic Republican straw poll, BTW). Let’s get started…

One of the highlights of the evening came early in the forum after a question about reforming PERA (the Public Employees Retirement Association). Check out what Victor Mitchell had to say in response to a question about whether or not PERA faces a crisis and what policy steps should/could be taken (around the 50 minute mark):

VICTOR MITCHELL: So, I’m going to have to respectfully disagree. I don’t think PERA is in crisis – I think PERA is challenged. [Pols emphasis] And it’s a serious problem facing our state…

…If they got a zero rate of return for the next 16 years, they could meet all of their current beneficiary benefits…

…This all can be fixed, statutorily. That’s the good news. I’ve put forward a very specific plan to reform PERA. First and foremost, the beneficiaries will be untouched. The people who are about to retire within the last 10 years and are currently receiving their last 3 year average benefits, we’re going to change that to the last 10 years. And then for people who have less than 10 years of state service, we’re going to change them to a 401k-like defined-benefit plan.

This is a very significant point from Mitchell – that PERA is not in crisis – because it is a clear break from what Republican lawmakers and other top officials have been saying recently. This is also an obvious attempt by Mitchell at differentiating himself from Stapleton, who has staked his political career on his general opposition to PERA’s funding mechanisms. Mitchell needs to find opportunities to stand out from the other top Republican candidates, and it is a smart strategy to appear as more of a defender for the 100,000 or so PERA beneficiaries in Colorado and the tens of thousands of people who are counting on future PERA benefits for their retirement years. There are a sizable number of voters worried about PERA who could make a difference in a Republican Primary for Mitchell.

Moving along to the 1:24:00 mark, here’s Coffman talking about her frustration with so-called “sanctuary cities” and the lack of progress on immigration policy in Congress:

CYNTHIA COFFMAN: If I sound frustrated, imagine how President Trump feels every night when he lays his head down on his pillow and waits for Congress to do something about immigration reform.

Yes, weep for President Trump.

At about the 1:31:00 mark, Mitchell gets to answer a question about higher education. He starts off well, but then…this:

VICTOR MITCHELL: You want to change a kid who is at-risk? You take them out of high school, you get them into college and remediate them and get them a degree in electrical engineering or physics. [Pols emphasis] Day one, they’re making $80,000 a year or sometimes even higher. It takes a kid from a poor environment immediately into the middle class. It changes their lives. It also gives them a foundation to do more with their life – to think bigger, and bolder, most especially with young girls. We are hardly graduating any young girls. My plan – I’m going to triple the amount of STEM graduates. I’m also going to take on the cost of student housing, which is about a third of the cost of sending a kid to college.

Let’s repeat: The way to help at-risk kids in high school is to just advance them to college and make them earn a degree in electrical engineering or physics. We’re guessing Mitchell hasn’t met a lot of “at-risk kids” in his life.

Let’s jump ahead now to the 1:54:00 mark, where Mitchell makes the case that he will not be beholden to special interests if elected:

VICTOR MITCHELL: I’m a friend of the oil and gas industry, but you know, when they came to me and wanted to donate money, you know what I told them? To take their money and shove it. I’m not taking any special interest money whatsoever.

We understand the point he’s trying to make here, but it’s still funny to say that you told “friends” to “take their money and shove it.”

Moving ahead to the 2:07:00 mark, we find Cynthia Coffman once again expressing relief that Donald Trump is President. This is interesting because Coffman tends to vacillate on expressing support for Trump with telling reporters that Colorado voters actually wish Hillary Clinton had been elected President.

CYNTHIA COFFMAN: I don’t worry nearly so much about federal overreach…as much as I did during the Obama administration…We are in a much better position with a Republican President, in President Trump, so that is a great relief.

And, finally, at around the 2:14:00 mark, we find Coffman saying that being onstage as a female candidate for Governor is “a pop of color.”

CYNTHIA COFFMAN: I love this question of what makes me unique among other candidates. I am the pop of color on stage. Being a woman is obviously significant because I am the only woman candidate for the Republican Party. But it is certainly not the most important thing about my or my candidacy.

And there you have it.

Cynthia Coffman Will Go Petition Route, Ride Unicorn

This is…strange, but par for the course for Cynthia “Wait, What?” Coffman:

This is the part where we tell you that Coffman has just $85,000 in her campaign bank account as of the beginning of January. Candidates for Governor need at least 10,500 valid signatures from registered voters of their own party in order to make the primary ballot in June (1,500 from each of Colorado’s seven congressional districts). It is nearly impossible to gather these signatures through volunteers alone — assuming Coffman even has volunteers — so she’ll need a lot of money for signature gathering firms that normally charge anywhere from $2-4 per signature. These firms can jack prices up to as much as $8 per signature depending on demand — and there is a LOT of demand in 2018.

Now, In order to account for potential duplicate signatures, the general rule for campaigns is to submit double the required number of signatures for ballot access. For candidates seeking the top statewide offices in Colorado, that means they need to collect about 21,000  total signatures by March 20.

At an average cost of $2-4 per signature, it would cost a statewide candidate anywhere from $42,000 to $84,000 at minimum in order to qualify for the primary ballot. In 2014, Republican gubernatorial candidate Bob Beauprez paid about $269,000 to two different signature-gathering outfits (Argos Colorado and Signature Gathering CO of Oregon); it’s impossible to tell from campaign finance reports just what percentage of that $269k paid for signature collection alone, but this is still a pretty good estimate of what it will cost candidates in 2018.

Again, this is the part where we tell you that Coffman has just $85,000 in her campaign bank account as of the beginning of January.

We have a hard time envisioning a scenario whereby this works out well for Coffman, though we’ve been saying that for awhile now.

Fundraising Numbers for 2018 Governor’s Race

UPDATE (3:10pm): Walker Stapleton finally figured out how to use the Internet. We’ve updated the numbers below…

—–

The fundraising numbers for the Q4 (2017) reporting period are in – most of them, anyway – giving us our first glimpse at the level of support for the various campaigns seeking one of Colorado’s top jobs in November.

Let’s break down the numbers for Colorado’s top candidates for Governor…

NOTES
We haven’t broken out self-funding numbers like this in the past, but with so many candidates drawing from their own checking accounts and not even trying to fundraise in a traditional manner (see: Victor Mitchell, Jared Polis, etc.), it is more important than ever to distinguish self-funding numbers that can be included in the total “contributions” for the quarter.

We also haven’t broken out the numbers from various Independent Expenditure Committees (IECs) that have been formed to (essentially) support individual candidates. Walker Stapleton can expect more than $750k in support from “Better Colorado Now.” There is also more money in an IEC for Cynthia Coffman than the she has raised herself.

 

SORE THUMBS (OR, WHAT STICKS OUT)
Democratic candidates for Governor are outraising Republicans by significant margins; Michael Johnston, Donna Lynne, and Cary Kennedy all raised more than $250k in Q4. Democratic candidates are also spending considerably more money than Republicans, which indicates more comprehensive and well-organized campaign operations.

On the Republican side, former Congressman Tom Tancredo isn’t bringing in a lot of cash – but he’s also the only candidate in the field whose public profile is robust enough to run a viable campaign without raising a lot of money. The most alarming numbers belong to Coffman, who only cracked the $100k mark because of a $15k transfer from her Attorney General campaign coffers. Both Tancredo and Coffman were expected to seek ballot access via the caucus/assembly route, and their relative inability to raise money essentially precludes them from trying to petition onto the ballot.

Second-tier gubernatorial candidates such as Mitt Romney’s Nephew (R) and Noel Ginsburg (D) are only going to be competitive to the extent that they are willing to continue writing personal checks to their campaigns, although Mitt’s Nephew will benefit from a hefty IEC (“Build Colorado’s Future”) while he spends the bulk of his campaign warchest petitioning onto the ballot.

Walker Stapleton Captures Many Straws

Not a majority of all straws in existence.

The Mesa County Republican Party held a gubernatorial forum on Thursday night in Grand Junction that attracted every major Republican candidate to town.

At some point during Thursday’s event, the Mesa County Republicans held a “straw poll” vote to express their preference among the GOP candidates for Governor. State Treasurer Walker Stapleton apparently won the most straws, and his campaign was quick to pound its chest in an email announcement:

Last night we attended the Mesa County GOP Governors Straw poll. I’m so humbled by all of the support our campaign received and really enjoyed the opportunity we had to share our campaign’s vision for renewing and inspiring strength in Colorado.

The results of the straw poll were overwhelming: We won the straw poll with a sweeping majority! [Pols emphasis] Here were the totals:

Walker Stapleton      35
Greg Lopez                 16
Tom Tancredo            9
Vic Mitchell                 8
Doug Robinson          5
Cynthia Coffman       3
Steve Barlock             2

Walker Stapleton

First off, it is a bit embarrassing for Colorado’s frigging STATE TREASURER to call this straw poll win a “sweeping majority.” Stapleton received 35 votes out of a total of 78, which works out to a little less than 45%. This is not a “sweeping majority” or even a regular plain-old “majority,” which can only occur when you receive more than half of the total votes cast. Stapleton’s margin here is what people who are supposed to be familiar with numbers — you know, like State Treasurers — would call a “plurality.” What we have here is some Donald Trump inauguration crowd math.

Now, as to the rest of the results…

Yes, straw polls are largely meaningless, but they can still provide some interesting information. The most curious number here — other than the 16 votes for Greg Lopez, which is about the same number of people who supported his 2016 U.S. Senate campaign — is the fact that Cynthia Coffman only managed to pick up one vote more than Steve Barlock. Coffman is the sitting Attorney General of Colorado, and Barlock is…some guy named Steve Barlock. Heck, even Mitt Romney’s Nephew got 5 votes, and nobody even knows his real name. This isn’t a definitive problem for Coffman, but it is another bad sign for a campaign that has been trending in the wrong direction since day one.

Stapleton Touts Fundraising Record in Governor’s Race

Walker Stapleton

As Joey Bunch reports today for the publication formerly known as the Colorado Statesman, the campaign for Republican Walker Stapleton is leaking out fundraising numbers that would represent a record haul for a candidate for Governor in Colorado:

Stapleton will report about $750,000 for the quarter, the most any of the 18 candidates has raised in any quarter so far…

…Walker’s campaign roll call of donors for the quarter includes corporate titans, small business owners and household names — Phil Anschutz (disclosure: He owns Colorado Politics and lots of other stuff), real-estate mogul and philanthropist Larry Mizel, beer magnate Pete Coors, car king Greg Stevinson and Dan Ritchie, a civic mainstay in Colorado who has led the University of Denver and the Denver Center for Performing Arts, after he was CEO of Westinghouse Broadcasting.

Stapleton seeded his campaign with $250,000 of his own money when he finally announced his gubernatorial intentions in late September, so it is likely that an official announcement of his Q4 fundraising numbers is intended to portray that the campaign has more than $1 million in the bank.

If Bunch’s reporting is accurate, Stapleton’s Q4 numbers would represent a record quarter for any statewide candidate in Colorado. This doesn’t include the $785,000 that Bunch says has been raised by “Better Colorado Now,” a political action committee that exists solely to promote Stapleton’s candidacy for Governor (Stapleton waited until late September to announce his campaign in part so that he could exploit a campaign finance loophole that let him assist in raising money for the “Better Colorado Now” PAC).

The nearly $2 million set aside to support Stapleton isn’t going to scare off Tancredo, but Stapleton’s fundraising numbers are certainly geared toward shooing away the rest of the GOP field. As Bunch noted today:

Stapleton’s haul in the last quarter would be more than [Doug] Robinson, [Victor] Mitchell and former candidate George Brauchler had raised in outside donations, combined, in previous quarters. And [Cynthia] Coffman’s finance co-chairman during her 2014 run for attorney general, Lanny Martin, is part of Stapleton’s PAC, too. [Pols emphasis]

The fact that Stapleton appears to be the candidate of choice for the moneyed Republican establishment is certainly no surprise; the June Republican Primary has long been setting up as a battle between Stapleton (and his money) and the more grassroots campaign of firebrand Tom Tancredo.

Campaign finance reports for Q4 are due to be filed with the Colorado Secretary of State’s office by January 16.

Cynthia Coffman is Very Strange

Some politicians are just naturally good at saying the right thing at the right time. Others have honed this skill over many years on the campaign trail.

And then there’s Cynthia “Wait, What?” Coffman.

When it comes to making awkward statements that seem to make little strategic political sense — “I didn’t blackmail anybody” is a prime example — Coffman is on a different level than just about anyone else. In a story about the Colorado Governor’s race in today’s New York Times, Coffman does it again:

“I think there’s still a great deal of disappointment that we didn’t elect a woman as president, and there are women voters in Colorado who would like the chance to have the first female governor in the state,” [Pols emphasis] she told me, adding that “the #MeToo movement — the discussion of gender and inequality — has enlivened and invigorated them.”

Wait, what?

If we had provided that quote without attribution, you might have assumed it came from a Democratic candidate for Governor such as Cary Kennedy or Donna Lynne. “I think there’s still a great deal of disappointment that we didn’t elect a woman as president” is a very strange thing for a Republican candidate to say in 2018, let alone someone like Coffman who was shouting “Go, Trump!” with a raised fist on Election Night in 2016. Even if you conceded that this might be a decent General Election message for Coffman, it makes absolutely no sense for her to say this just as the battle for the Republican gubernatorial nomination is really starting to heat up.

Maybe Coffman has figured out there there is a significant bloc of Republican Primary voters who really wish that Hillary Clinton had been elected President but also want a gubernatorial candidate with a clear record of supporting Donald Trump.

Or maybe she’s really just this terrible as a candidate.

Top Ten Stories of 2017 #8: Big Crowd for Governor and the Return of Tom Tancredo

Rep. Jared Polis (D) looks like the candidate to beat in the race for Governor.

Colorado voters will choose a new Governor next November, and if 2017 is any indication of what to expect, then the 2018 election is going to be a wild ride.

For the third time in the last four cycles, there will be no incumbent on the ballot for Governor. Numerous candidates from both sides of the political aisle have been preparing for this open race since late last year, but few could have foreseen the twists and turns that defined 2017. Both Democrats and Republicans saw potential frontrunners enter and exit the race this year, dramatically shaping and reshaping what should easily turn out to be the most expensive gubernatorial race in Colorado history.

There has already been so much movement in the race for Governor, in fact, that many of the projected top candidates 12 months ago aren’t even in the field anymore. Congressman Ed Perlmutter (D-Jefferson County) looked like the Democratic frontrunner when he announced his candidacy in April, but he changed his mind after a few months of campaigning and decided to run for re-election in CD-7 instead. Republicans thought they had a top contender in George Brauchler, but the Arapahoe County District Attorney proved to be completely inept as a candidate and officially shifted his sights to Attorney General in October.

Perhaps no name better encapsulates the strange turn of events in the Governor’s race than that of Republican Tom Tancredo, who is again running as a Republican after losing the GOP nomination to Bob Beauprez in 2014 and serving as the nominee of the American Constitution Party in 2010. Tancredo’s surprise candidacy makes a certain kind of sense in retrospect; as we’ve written before in this space, the Tanc might be better-positioned in 2018 than he was in either of the previous cycles in which he sought the top job in Colorado. The fact that Tancredo is even able to return to the big stage in Colorado creates plenty of uncomfortable questions for Republicans, not the least of which is the fact that he appears to be an early favorite to capture the GOP nomination.

As we turn the calendar to 2018, Tancredo and Democratic Congressman Jared Polis are well-positioned to capture their respective party’s nominations, but they both have several hopefuls hot on their heels. We’ve answered a lot of questions about the gubernatorial race with a busy 2017, but many more remain:

Walker Stapleton

Will Walker Stapleton ever appear in a photo where he doesn’t look bewildered?

Can Mike Johnston turn his national fundraising haul into local support?

Can Cary Kennedy convince Democrats that she is more than a policy wonk?

Why is Republican Cynthia Coffman such a supremely-terrible candidate?

Will Donna Lynne figure out how to do this campaigning thing?

How many personal checks will Victor Mitchell write to his campaign?

Can Democrat Noel Ginsburg Move Colorado Laterally?

Will anyone ever remember the name of Mitt Romney’s Nephew?

 

The Colorado Governor’s race was as busy in 2017 as any off-year in recent memory. The June Primary is just six months away, so get ready for a hectic half-year of campaigning.

Cynthia Coffman: “I Didn’t Blackmail Anybody”

Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman is seeking the Republican nomination for Governor in 2018, and as we’ve discussed before in this space, she has thus far proven to be a remarkably-terrible candidate.

After more than a year of hinting at the possibility of a run for Governor, Coffman finally announced her campaign the day after the November election (a decidedly odd day to announce anything). In subsequent interviews, Coffman has a) Completely bungled her position on abortion, b) Admitted that she doesn’t have a campaign manager and doesn’t forsee hiring one anytime soon, and c) Fostered a baffling adversarial relationship with the media by insisting that reporters submit all questions about her campaign via email. When she does talk to reporters, Coffman has demonstrated a fascinating tendency to offer up absolutely horrible quotes, as this recent story from The South Metro Villager makes painfully clear:

The attorney general was the subject of inner-party gossip in 2015 when she was accused of attempting to blackmail then-state Republican Chair Steve House over an alleged extramarital affair. Although Coffman would not explain what actually happened in the fracas, she insists it was mischaracterized.

“It was dealt with and the party moved forward. Steve House and I are on good terms,” she said. “It was an emotional time for everybody. I didn’t blackmail anybody.” [Pols emphasis]

We’ve seen and heard a lot of stupid things from politicians over the years, and this quote from Coffman is absolutely at the top of the list. There are a lot of different ways that Coffman could respond to predictable questions about her involvement in the 2015 “Coffmangate” scandal — something she has been asked about for years — but she always seems to make sure to use the word “blackmail” in her answers. Reporters don’t have to worry about whether or not to introduce the b-word into a story about Coffman, because she’ll always do it for them! 

“If you look up the legal definition of blackmail this doesn’t fit it.”

– Cynthia Coffman, June 2015 

This is not the first time that Coffman has fallen into this particular hole. We noted in a story back in June 2015 that “Cynthia Coffman Can’t Stop Copping to Blackmail” whenever she was asked about the scandal involving her and former State Republican Party Chair Steve House (Coffman reportedly “encouraged” House to resign as GOP Chair just a few months after she had supported his candidacy in a long-running soap opera that drew national media attention).

One of the most memorable Coffman quotes during the scandal came during a Republican Party Executive Committee meeting on the matter when Coffman bluntly stated, If you look up the legal definition of blackmail this doesn’t fit it.” This was an incredible thing for any politician to say, let alone the chief law enforcement officer in the entire State of Colorado. That Coffman seems incapable of learning from her past mistakes is yet another ominous sign for a campaign that was already in big trouble.

“Blackmail!”

Felon Elected to Greeley City Council – Opponent Sues

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Eddie Mirick was just elected to the at-large seat on Greeley’s City Council.  Mirick  has a 1978 felony conviction for forgery, which he lied about when he filled out the paperwork to run for City Council.  The charter of Greeley, a “home-rule” city, specifically does not allow anyone convicted of a felony to be elected to City Council. Yet Mirick was elected, and City Council members have seated him, and are letting the court decide whether he will be allowed to serve.

Mirick’s eligibility to serve on City Council will be decided in District Court, pending the result of a lawsuit filed by the campaign manager of Mirick’s opponent, Stacy  Suniga.

Mirick (3rd from left) on Greeley for a Stronger Economy’s FB ad

The makeup of Greeley’s City Council will affect the balance of power between oil and gas interests vs. the public health of residents, in one of the most fracked cities in America.

Mirick is a veteran, and lives with physical disabilities. He is active in charities and community groups. And he strongly supports oil and gas development in Greeley.  Mirick benefitted from over $65,000 spent for cable TV ads from a shadowy Denver group: “Greeley for a Stronger Economy (GSE)*”.  Mayor John Gates, and two other candidates for Greeley City Council:   appointed member Brett Payton, who won his seat against opponent Lavonna Longwell by a grand total of 2 votes. (after recount), and Ward 3 candidate Michael Fitsimmons were also promoted by GSE advertising.

(more…)

Cynthia Coffman is Just Not Good at This

“Better Late Than Never” is not a recommended campaign slogan.

Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman has almost been running for Governor for an entire month now. She’s still not getting any better at this politics thing.

We’ve talked before in this space about Coffman’s amazingly-terrible campaign for Governor, and the Colorado Independent gives us yet another example this week:

Days after it was reported that Cynthia Coffman, who is running for governor in Colorado, was one of only two Republican attorneys general who hadn’t signed a letter in support of an NRA-backed law to allow people with concealed weapons permits to carry hidden guns in any state, she said she supports it.

“Better late than never,” said David Kopel, a Colorado attorney who has written books and articles about gun laws and the Second Amendment and supports the federal legislation.

The U.S. House could vote on the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act this week, just around the five-year anniversary of the Sandy Hook mass school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, and as advocates for more regulation of firearms are holding vigils around the nation. The proposed law, which is a top priority for the National Rifle Association, would expand concealed carry rights from state to state.

As the Independent notes, the Salt Lake Tribune published a story on Saturday about Utah’s Republican Attorney General signing onto this letter to Congressional leaders in support of the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act. The Tribune story reported that Coffman and Tennessee Attorney General Henry Slatery were the only two Republican AGs in the entire country who did not sign their names to the letter.

Someone with Coffman’s campaign apparently noticed this omission, and on Sunday Coffman sent off her own letter in support of the NRA-backed legislation. On Monday, Coffman promoted the letter from her personal/campaign Twitter account:

The Independent writes that Coffman spokesperson Annie Skinner did not respond to an email asking why Coffman didn’t just sign onto the original letter dated December 1. If form holds, Coffman’s campaign will likely get back to the Independent sometime next week.

Cynthia Coffman’s Campaign Completely Off the Rails

Earlier this week we wrote about the unmitigated disaster that is Republican Cynthia Coffman’s campaign for Governor. Somehow things seem to have gotten even worse just since Monday:


This Tweet today from CBS4 Denver reporter Shaun Boyd seems to confirm — in a really strange way — that Attorney General Cynthia Coffman is, in fact, pro-choice on the issue of abortion. We probably don’t need to tell you that this is not going to help Coffman make it through a crowded Republican Primary next year.

At Least She’s Not Your Train Conductor


The fact that Coffman’s position on abortion would be revealed in this manner is another sign of a gubernatorial campaign that has been completely off the rails since day one. Just last week, a spokesperson for Coffman’s campaign told Joey Bunch of the Colorado Springs Gazette that Coffman would discuss her position on abortion at a later date, or “when the time’s right.” The “right time” in this case appears to be in response to a Tweet from a local reporter. That’s not good.

That Coffman is so woefully unprepared to deal with pretty standard and predictable questions is an ominous sign for her campaign’s future. Coffman’s camp (to the extent to which one exists) can’t even figure out how to answer the question of whether or not they have a campaign manager in place, and here they are flubbing answers to the most basic of conservative questions.

Coffman just isn’t ready to run a real campaign for Governor, and she only has a few more weeks to figure this out before she gets steamrolled by the inertia of better-organized Republicans.

It’s Official (Maybe): Cynthia Coffman is Pro-Choice

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

CBS4 political specialist Shaun Boyd reported last week that newly minted gubernatorial candidate Cynthia Coffman was pro-choice.

This set of a wave of disbelief and anger in conservative circles, led by KNUS radio host Dan Caplis, who said on air that Republicans wouldn’t have allowed Coffman to become Colorado’s attorney general if her pro-choice views were known.

But in reporting that Coffman was pro-choice, Boyd did not quote the candidate directly on the matter. Boyd asserted it as a background fact, leading Caplis and others to question whether it was true.

Boyd settled any lingering doubts with this tweet this morning:

Boyd: Responding to questions about my report on @CynthiaHCoffman being pro-choice. I learned it via a source after my interview. I’ve asked Coffman’s campaign if she wants a correction. Her spokesperson says she does not.”

Coffman’s official confirmation of Boyd’s reporting will likely be denounced by fellow GOP gubernatorial candidates, like businessman Victor Mitchell, who’s already called out Coffman on it, and Tom Tancredo, who’s openly and seriously anti-choice.

Even if you didn’t witness the impact of anti-choice personhood activists during multiple elections over the past decade, allowing Republicans like Cory Gardner to build their careers on the issue, you probably know that a large block of GOP primary voters, like Caplis, will not support a pro-choice candidate, unless, possibly, the only anti-choice Republican available is a likely child molester. See Roy Moore.

And like Alabama voters who face the decision of  pro-abortion vs. likely child molestation, they might decide not to vote. That’s how “foundational” the abortion issue is, as Caplis puts it.

This might explain why Coffman has at least appeared to be hostile to abortion rights over the years. For example, she’s bragged about opposing public funds for Planned Parenthood. In some interviews that I’ve found so far, she’s dodged the issue.

Conservatives, like Arapahoe County Tea Party founder Randy Corporon, were left with the impression that Coffman was anti-choice.

“I’ve been around her many times over the years, where all sorts of different conversations have come up, and I’ve never left with the impression that she was anything but pro-life,” said Corporon on air.

Everybody and Nobody Wants George Brauchler

Maybe George Brauchler can be Colorado’s Director of Twitter.

Earlier this month, Republican George Brauchler dropped out of the race for Governor — a race he clearly could not hope to win — in order to run for Attorney General after incumbent AG Cynthia Coffman announced that she would be running for Governor.

When Brauchler made his announcement, it was with a carefully-crafted message intended to convey that he was the Republican White Knight riding to the rescue to save the GOP from losing its hold on the office of Attorney General. Brauchler has even taken swipes at Coffman for “abandoning” a top Republican office so close to the 2018 election. But as this recent story from Charles Ashby in the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel makes clear, Brauchler’s commitment to pretending to be wanted has him looking more than a little bit silly:

“At the time, you couldn’t have foreseen this set of circumstances,” Brauchler said in an interview a few days after he made the switch last week. “Tancredo getting in, it didn’t move the needle for me. We didn’t change plans at all. The single event was vacating that (attorney general) position. I’m an amateur at this. I wasn’t counseled in the ways of ‘never say never.’ I didn’t see this happening.”

Brauchler said as far back as 2015, the Republican Party tried to get him to challenge U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet, a Democrat who ended up facing a little-known Republican who barely campaigned for the seat. But he wasn’t interested in going to Washington, D.C.

A similar thing occurred earlier this year when U.S. Rep. Ken Buck, R-4th, considered running for attorney general, but decided instead to seek re-election.

Brauchler said he wasn’t interested in that seat, either, saying his experience and desire to remain closer to his family outweighed all other considerations.

There were rumors earlier this fall that Brauchler was considering running for Congress in CD-4 should Rep. Ken Buck depart in order to run for Attorney General, but this is the first time we can recall that Brauchler has publicly acknowledged this story. This isn’t something Brauchler would have wanted to acknowledge when he was still a candidate for Governor, but now that he’s moved on to a different office, Brauchler is desperate to make you believe that everyone wants him to run for something!

Michael Dougherty

The flip side to this message is that Brauchler just wants to be elected to some sort of higher office; that he just wants to be Attorney General because he wasn’t going to be our next Governor. Brauchler is leading with his chin here, and at least one potential 2018 opponent is already calling him out. Again, from the Sentinel:

All that sounded like balderdash to Democratic attorney general candidate Michael Dougherty, who currently is the assistant district attorney for Jefferson and Gilpin counties.

“The Attorney General’s Office is critically important right now, too important in my opinion to be a consolation prize for a failed run at being governor,” Dougherty said…

…”Cynthia Coffman ran that office with politics in mind, more so than her predecessors. Now that she’s running for governor, those suspicions are confirmed,” Dougherty said. “Now we have this spot being sought by someone who is running for a different office who is simply looking for somewhere else to land because that race got tough.

“Perhaps if this race gets tough, George can consider running for treasurer.” [Pols emphasis]

You had better get used to this joke, George.

Cynthia Coffman’s Gubernatorial Campaign is a Disaster

Republican Cynthia Coffman might be better off waving a white flag when it comes to her gubernatorial campaign.

Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman announced two weeks ago that she would seek the Republican gubernatorial nomination rather than running for re-election in 2018. We weren’t alone in wondering why it took Coffman more than a year to make a decision on what race to run in 2018, and the long delay apparently wasn’t because she was taking extra time to prepare for a run for Governor.

As Joey Bunch writes in two separate stories for the publication formerly known as the Colorado Statesman, Coffman’s gubernatorial campaign is an absolute mess. In an early preview of a longer story for “Colorado Politics” magazine, Bunch wrote on Friday that it is not clear who, if anyone, is even running the Coffman campaign:

When Coffman officially announced her candidacy for governor on Nov. 8, the Denver Post reported, “To run her campaign, Coffman hired Clinton Soffer, the former regional political director for the National Republican Senate Committee, where he worked for Colorado U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner, whom he helped elect in 2014.”

After I got a well-sourced tip Thursday that Soffer was no longer running the campaign, I reached out to Coffman’s campaign fundraiser Caroline Wren, who also is fielding calls to Coffman from the media this week.

“Clinton Soffer is a part of Team Cynthia, but he is not campaign manager and was never announced by our campaign as such,” said Wren.

Bunch says that Coffman’s campaign never responded to questions about how or why Soffer was misidentified in the Denver Post story, though Coffman “spokesperson” Caroline Wren did eventually tell Bunch that Coffman would only respond to written questions submitted in advance via e-mail…which is a completely absurd thing to stipulate for someone seeking the top office in Colorado.

Coffman did apparently participate in a brief telephone interview with Bunch at some point, which left many more unanswered questions. Here’s an excerpt from Bunch’s full story for “Colorado Politics” magazine (click for PDF version):

Platform, money and momentum are not on her side, according to my very round circle of Republican sources…

…In a way-too-short scheduled phone interview, Coffman assured me my Republican sources are in the minority of her party, but she would have to get back to me on explaining why when she had more time.

Bunch writes that he could not clarify Coffman’s position on the issue of abortion, which has stirred commentary from right-wing radio pundits (Coffman’s spokesperson says that she will discuss her position on abortion “when the time’s right,” whatever that means). In response to a question about how Coffman will address the “Coffmangate” scandal from 2015, Bunch writes the following:

“Frankly, I’m not going to spend time on it,” Coffman told me when I asked about it, then she deflected other questions and reminded me that my time was running out.

It isn’t just questions about prior scandals that Coffman is ducking. This paragraph near the end of Bunch’s magazine story is particularly strange:

On the issues, Coffman didn’t have a plan to fund transportation, potentially a huge issue for the next governor, but she’s working on it. She asked me, jokingly, if I wanted to join the campaign to help figure it out.

Whaaaaa???

At the height of the “Coffmangate” scandal in June 2015, we wrote in this space that Coffman’s political career was all but over; we speculated, in part, that Coffman would have trouble running another statewide campaign because she would have a difficult time finding a competent staff that wasn’t scared away by her awkward backstabbing.

Perhaps Coffman will ultimately figure out how to be a viable candidate for Governor. Perhaps she will eventually be able to hire campaign staff that have some idea of what they are doing.

Or, perhaps, Cynthia Coffman’s gubernatorial bid is a complete fool’s errand.

As He Exits Gubernatorial Race, Brauchler Needles Coffman

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

This guy to the rescue!

As he exited the gubernatorial race this week, Republican attorney general candidate George Brauchler criticized current AG Cynthia Coffman, telling KCOL radio host Jimmy Lakey that Coffman’s last-minute “decision to abandon her position as attorney general” put the AG’s office at risk of falling into Democratic hands–something he did not want to see happen. And this helped push him out of the gubernatorial race.

“The timing was so important to my decision,” said Brauchler, the district attorney who tried the Aurora theater shooter, on KCOL’s Nov. 14 show. “When she made the decision to abandon her position as attorney general less than a year before the general election, my phone just started going crazy, started blowing up with people who are saying, ‘What are we going to do to hold this seat?’ The idea of one of the progressive, extremist-type candidates on the other side taking that seat — in addition to possibly having the governorship — it would just put us, Jimmy, on a path where — I’m not even sure we’d be on the road to California. We would be California.  And I was convinced — and I believe — that the best role I can play right now for helping my home state is to defend that Attorney General’s position and to make sure it is held by a conservative and not someone who wants to legislate through litigation.”

Political operative and pundit Laura Carno, who served on Brauchler’s advisory committee, underscored the point on Lakey’s show the same day.

“I’m disappointed that a statewide official left an office where she was going to be running for reelection, and that really should be one of the offices that we don’t have to worry about — a popular incumbent running for reelection,” said Carno on Greeley’s KCOL, adding that she also agree with Brauchler that the “numbers” in the gubernatorial race, with new opponents, did not look good. “But now, with Cynthia Coffman moving over to the governor’s race, that puts at significant risk that attorney general spot. And if we’re going to — if we have the potential of having a Gov. Polis – God forbid– we have to have somebody with guts in that attorney general’s office. So, by the end of the conversation, although I started out saying, ‘I have got to talk George Brauchler out of this,’ there was just no other decision. And I appreciate that he moved over to protect that seat. So, that’s how I’m looking at it, and [I’m] disappointed that he was put in that position. But, I get it. I’m supportive. And I’m still a huge George Brauchler fan. I think he’s an eminently decent human being.”

In other statements, Brauchler acknowledged that the entrance of former Congressman Tom Tancredo into the gubernatorial race complicated his path to a primary victory, as did Coffman’s late decision to run.

“[Tancredo] also competes for some of the same votes that I’d compete for,” Brauchler told the Colorado Independent.

Unless Brauchler draws a primary opponent, he will likely face one of these Democrats vying for the their party’s nomination: Boulder prosecutor Michael Dougherty, attorney Brad Levin, Denver prosecutor Amy Padden, State Rep. Joe Salazar of Thornton, or former CU Law School dean Phil Weiser.