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…

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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.

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.

Tom Tancredo Talks Colorado Pols and The Big Line

Tom Tancredo knows where to go for his Colorado political news.

As Jason Salzman noted earlier this week, Colorado Pols was recently a topic of conversation on 710 KNUS radio with Julie Hayden and Chuck Bonniwell, and apparently this wasn’t the only time Pols came up for discussion last month.

Republican gubernatorial candidate Tom Tancredo was a guest on The Peter Boyles Show on 710 KNUS radio on December 29, where he twice mentioned Colorado Pols and The Big Line’s odds for Governor in 2018.

At around the 13:00 mark, Boyles asks Tancredo about his campaign for Governor:

BOYLES: What are you going to do [in the 2018 race for Governor]:

TANCREDO: Well, of course I’m going to win. As a matter of fact, I saw yesterday…Colorado Pols, which is a liberal blog, listed all of the Republican candidates and gave their estimation of our chances of winning the General Election, and I had the best chance of winning. And it was 30% [laughing]. But I was ahead of everybody else – every other Republican.

Later in the interview, at around the 26:00 mark, The Big Line comes up again:

BOYLES:  Who do you want to run against?

TANCREDO: Jared Polis. Oh, yeah. To tell you the truth, I think that’s my best chance. And according to Colorado Pols, they said he had a 50% chance of winning.

BOYLES: You always want to fight the best fighter.

TANCREDO: Yeah, I think he’d be the best.

What’s the moral of this story? Keep reading Colorado Pols, of course.

What Are These People Smoking? Jared Polis Everywhere Edition

ADAPT activists protesting in 1985, when Rep. Jared Polis was 10 years old.

Over the weekend, we promoted to the homepage a reader diary on a protest event we were actually unaware of before it occurred on New Year’s Eve: a trip by a group of activists with disabilities from Atlantis ADAPT, the storied grassroots team who has been fighting since the 1980s in Denver for better accommodations in transportation and public spaces generally, to the small Eastern Plains town of Yuma in hopes of talking to Sen. Cory Gardner about his recent vote for the Republican tax cut bill.

Readers might remember that is the same group who occupied Sen. Cory Gardner’s downtown Denver offices last summer, attracting nationwide news coverage and helping erode public support both for the repeal of the Affordable Care Act and Gardner personally after their live-streamed arrest by Denver police. Suffice to say that ADAPT activists are very good at drawing attention to the issues they fight for.

Now, we don’t generally pay much attention to the local conservative blog Colorado Peak Politics, operated by conservative consultant group EIS Solutions, since they’re pretty far from what you’d call an accurate news source and in general just don’t write very well. But after we promoted the post in question written by reader mamajama55, Peak Politics got a little weird:

Over the New Years weekend, the left crowed that it had camped out in Yuma, Colorado hoping to share their opinion on the tax reform bill (that’s helping millions of middle class Americans, btw) with Republican U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner (at his house, with his kids), and it was likely paid for at some place along the liberal food chain by U.S. Rep. Jared Polis… [Pols emphasis]

Wait, Rep. Jared Polis funds ADAPT? We suppose it’s possible, given that they’re a longstanding local activist group engaged in work on issues Polis might naturally support. But there’s nothing we’ve seen to suggest any special relationship there, and given that ADAPT was protesting when Rep. Polis was literally a little kid (see photo above), it’s reasonable to assume that they were perfectly able to plan their New Year’s action and pay for the gas to get to Yuma without anybody’s help.

But where did Peak Politics get this idea, you ask? That’s where this gets even more stupid:

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Top Ten Stories of 2017 #7: The House That Blew Up

Like smoking, lawn darts, and bars on cribs spaced just far enough apart for babies to stick their heads through, oil and gas development in Colorado wasn’t always considered to be a problem. It wasn’t controversial for several reasons–in addition to the lack of public knowledge of the health and safety risks. For decades, Colorado’s “split estate” mineral rights law establishing property rights under the surface of the land in addition to the rights of landowners on the surface operated without major conflicts. Colorado’s wide open spaces gave drillers plenty to explore, and the population centers along the Front Range didn’t have the most easily-accessible minerals underneath them.

But over time, two things happened: the increasingly urban Front Range started to expand into energy-producing areas, and a maturing technology for extracting oil and gas known as hydraulic fracturing put minerals under residential communities within economical reach. Because under Colorado law mineral rights have parity with the rights of surface landowners, within regulations controlled by the state’s Oil and Gas Conservation Commission drillers are routinely allowed to override local zoning and place heavy industrial operations in the immediate vicinity of homes and schools.

As the political battle between concerned residents of local communities threatened by drilling and the energy industry has heated up in recent years, the industry has spent lavishly to influence Colorado’s political leadership on both sides of the aisle. This has resulted in gridlock at the Colorado legislature on the issue, especially for the last seven years under an avowedly pro-energy Democratic governor and frequently split control of the General Assembly. When citizens turned to the state’s initiative process to get relief by popular vote, the energy industry bankrolled 2016’s Amendment 71 to make it prohibitively harder to get constitutional measures on a statewide ballot.

Entering 2017, the fight over oil and gas drilling in Colorado was simmering but hardly boiling over. The success of Amendment 71, and the likelihood of no real movement on the issue until after Gov. John Hickenlooper leaves office, combined with the much bigger threat of the Trump administration over this and so many other issues left supporters of better protections feeling defeated.

On April 17th, a recently-built home in Firestone north of Denver suddenly exploded, killing two people and severely injuring two others inside. The home was totally destroyed in the explosion, which also damaged nearby homes and caused a fire that took hours to extinguish. Investigators determined that a flow line connected to a disused well owned by Anadarko Petroleum had not been properly disconnected from the well. Raw methane gas, lacking the telltale additive to warn of high concentrations by smell, began to flow again through this line, accumulating undetected in the basement of the home until being ignited accidentally by the homeowners with tragic results. After the explosion, more underground plumes of methane in the immediate area were discovered and vented.

The Firestone home explosion immediately brought the issue of oil and gas production near homes back to the fore. In this case, homes were built near abandoned wells from which methane had seeped, but that certainly doesn’t absolve the industry of responsibility of not just properly capping old wells but ensuring all infrastructure in place for energy extraction is rendered safe before homes are built over them. And obviously, if the industry is this careless with abandoned flow lines, it invites basic questions about how careful the industry is with everything else they do.

But in Denver, the industry’s sway over leadership on both sides of the aisle ensured little would change. A limited set of reforms announced by Gov. Hickenlooper in August fell pitifully short of addressing concerns, as the Denver Post reported:

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper is asking oil and gas operators to pony up money to plug the 700 to 800 “orphan wells” in the state, but is shying from taking stances on more contentious policies, such as how close new homes can be built to existing wells.

The governor also won’t force the energy industry to allow state officials to compile a publicly available map of all oil and gas pipelines. Instead, he said he wanted to enhance the 811 call program to ensure homeowners can use their telephones to access pipeline information for site-specific areas. Hickenlooper said industry officials were concerned a comprehensive statewide map could lead to people illegally tapping pipelines to siphon off gas. [Pols emphasis]

Hickenlooper’s thoroughly ridiculous contention that scavengers might “siphon off gas” if the public is made aware of oil and gas pipelines running through their neighborhoods, and that this concern somehow trumps the rights of residents to know where these potentially deadly gas lines are located in relation to their homes, perfectly symbolizes the tone-deaf approach of his administration on oil and gas drilling–arguably Hickenlooper’s greatest failure in office. There is simply no way to overstate how offensive this was to concerned citizens in Firestone and elsewhere.

Meanwhile, the industry attempted to vilify gubernatorial candidate Jared Polis by proxy in municipal elections in Greeley this fall, linking his donations to city council candidates with his support for better protections from drilling. That attempt turned disastrous after one of the candidates backed by the industry was revealed to be a convicted felon and whose seat on the Greeley City Council is now in doubt. It’s fair to say that Polis, who doesn’t support a “statewide fracking ban” but has supported initiatives for local control and wider setbacks from drilling, is not under the industry’s thumb. As a result Polis is set to face the most shrill attacks imaginable from the industry and their many supporters next year–to include lots of affected hand-wringing from pro-energy Democrats during the upcoming gubernatorial primary.

It has been our contention since before John Hickenlooper won the governor’s race in 2010 that at some point, Colorado Democrats will face a seminal choice–to continue alienating their base of support and swing votes in impacted communities by currying favor with the oil and gas industry in this state, or to face them down on behalf of affected communities once and for all. We believe based on our years of experience that the political risks to Democrats standing up to oil and gas are much smaller than conventional wisdom suggests, and indeed that much of said “conventional wisdom” is a fabrication of the industry’s bought-off mouthpieces in both parties. On the other hand, this issue has done more to anger the Democratic base in Colorado than perhaps any other in recent years, making the benefits of a new approach easy to recognize.

What’s it going to take for Democrats in Colorado to remember where their loyalties should lie?

The right candidate. And an election to prove it.

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.

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.

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Poll: Cary Kennedy Would Kick Tom Tancredo’s Butt

Cary Kennedy.

Ernest Luning writing for the former Colorado Statesman:

A new statewide poll of likely Colorado voters shows Democrat Cary Kennedy ahead of Republican Tom Tancredo by 16 points in a general election match-up between the leading gubernatorial candidates.

According to the survey, conducted over the past week by Colorado-based Democratic polling firm Keating Research and obtained exclusively by Colorado Politics, Kennedy, a former state treasurer, leads Tancredo, a former congressman, 50-34 percent, with 13 percent undecided and 3 percent saying they’d vote for another candidate even when pressed to choose between the two. No other candidates were listed in the poll…

Though partisan pollsters, Keating Research and the North Carolina-based Democratic firm Public Policy Polling were the most accurate pollsters in Colorado for last year’s presidential election, predicting Democrat Hillary Clinton would win the state by 5 points — almost precisely her margin on Election Day — according to Real Clear Politics.

Among Democrats Keating Research has an excellent reputation for accuracy, so these are definitely numbers that anyone following the Democratic gubernatorial primary should be paying close attention to. Luning also refers to another recent poll showing Rep. Jared Polis also ahead of Tom Tancredo, though by a much smaller margin. Because the Keating poll didn’t include other candidates besides Cary Kennedy, a methodological apples-to-apples comparison isn’t really possible here–we would speculate that other Democrats would also score well against Tancredo had they been matched up.

With that said it’s certainly a good data point for Kennedy’s campaign to circulate, and it highlights the danger Tancredo poses in the long term to Republicans. Ever popular with the ideological base that decides GOP primaries, Tancredo’s liabilities only truly emerge in the general election. That’s where the party in Tancredo’s case would presumably end.

Of course, we said that about Donald Trump too.

Bad Policy, Clever Politics for Victor Mitchell

Victor Mitchell

Republican gubernatorial candidate Victor Mitchell today released a new online ad to jumpstart an idea he has been pushing for a few months now: Going after elected officials who campaign for a new job while maintaining their old position. From a press release:

The Victor Mitchell campaign has unveiled a new web-video explaining his support for a new law that would require Colorado candidates holding full-time state or local elective offices to resign before seeking a higher office. “Taxpayers should not be forced to continue to pay the salaries of officeholders who are seeking promotion to a higher office,” says Mitchell, the businessman and former state legislator. “Campaigning is almost a full-time job these days and we can’t expect an officeholder to run for a different office without neglecting their current office responsibilities.”

“This law would not prevent anyone from seeking any office they choose. It would merely prevent neglect of duty and taxpayer subsidies of campaigners,” continued Mitchell. “I don’t like corporate welfare, and I don’t like welfare for politicians, either.”

“In the same spirit that “Term Limits” has constrained political careerism and TABOR has promoted financial accountability, Resign-To-Run will help keep the political insiders accountable to the people that elect them,” contends Mitchell. “Don’t expect the establishment to embrace this new idea, but I am already seeing that the people of Colorado believe it’s a welcome check on political ambition.”

The web video itself is very well done and could be an effective message for Mitchell. Take a look:

We actually like the strategy of what Mitchell is trying to do here, but we have to point out the unworkability of the policy idea. Requiring elected officials to resign from office if the are running for another elected office isn’t going to solve the alleged problem here of officials who aren’t getting their work done. Frankly, it could make the situation worse.

But, of course, this is an advertisement designed to help Mitchell win a Republican Primary, and to that end it will probably work well. Mitchell doesn’t have the name ID of many of the other top GOP candidates, so he needs to differentiate himself in some way. He does that here with what he doesn’t say: That Republican gubernatorial candidates such as State Treasurer Walker Stapleton and Attorney General Cynthia Coffman –and, before he dropped out of the race on Monday, Arapahoe County District Attorney George Brauchler — are part of the problem while Mitchell is seeking the solution (though in Stapleton’s case, he could just say that he was never showing up to work in the first place).

Positioning yourself as a regular Joe Businessman running against a bunch of career politicians is a tried and true political tactic. With public polling showing consistently that people aren’t particularly happy with their elected officials, this could be the kind of spark that gets Mitchell’s campaign going.

The State of the Race (for the State): November 2017

Tom Tancredo and Cynthia Coffman are in, and George Brauchler is out. There’s been lots of upheaval in the 2018 race for Governor in the last couple of weeks, so lets reset the field as we near the end of the year. Here’s our latest look at the State of the Race (for the State).

 

LOOKING GOOD

Rep. Jared Polis (D-Boulderish) remains the frontrunner in the race for governor.

Democratic candidates are outraising Republican counterparts not named Walker Stapleton by significant margins. Democrats Jared Polis, Cary Kennedy, Mike Johnston, and even Donna Lynne are running strong campaigns as we enter the campaign doldrums of the Holiday Season. Things should start to shake out a bit once we cross into 2018, because there just isn’t room for all four of these candidates to mathematically make the ballot through the caucus/assembly process; remember, any candidate who does not petition onto the ballot must get at least 30% of the vote at the state assembly for ballot access.

Polis has the name ID and the resources to go the caucus route, so at least one of the other three major Democratic candidates will need to spend a great deal of time and money on gathering petition signatures if they hope to see their name on the June Primary ballot. It’s hard to envision a scenario where Lynne does not go the petition route; the bigger question will be about what Kennedy and Johnston decide. Right now, all four major Democratic candidates are essentially rowing in the same direction. Expect that to change in January.

On the Republican side, State Treasurer Walker Stapleton and former Congressman Tom Tancredo have pulled away from the rest of a crowded pack. Stapleton is sweeping up one major Republican donor after another, and he likely ends the year with the largest amount of contributions among Republican candidates. Stapleton raised more than $300k just from major donors (contributions of $1,000 or more) in the last six weeks, and wrote himself a $250k check. This doesn’t count the hundreds of thousands of dollars being funneled into a pro-Stapleton PAC, either.

Ed Gillespie, Tom Tancredo, and Donald Trump

Tancredo, meanwhile, seems to be establishing himself as the [quote-unquote] insurgent candidate for Republicans. We learned from last Tuesday’s election results that incumbency won’t save Republicans in 2018. We saw that the Republican brand is in tatters. And Tuesday’s Democratic wipeout confirmed something many had long expected: That Trumpism doesn’t exist without Donald Trump. Tancredo is not an establishment Republican like failed Virginia gubernatorial candidate Ed Gillespie, nor is he a diehard Trumpian whose political fortunes will be tied to President Twitterer. In 2018, Tancredo may be embraced by national Republican factions – rather than openly opposed – and his strong name ID among Republican voters means that he doesn’t need to compete dollar-for-dollar with Stapleton.

 

LOOKING LOST

Attorney General Cynthia Coffman

Cynthia Coffman finally entered the GOP field for Governor after nearly a year of publicly teasing the idea. Even with Brauchler out of the race, it’s difficult to see how she might have a path to the GOP nomination in June. Longtime Republican operative/consultant Dick Wadhams told CBS4 Denver that Coffman’s entry into the race probably helps Tancredo more than anything else:

“Tancredo starts off with anywhere from 20 to 23 percent — a rock hard political base,” Wadhams said. “So the more the rest of the vote is divided up by these other Republican candidates, it helps him.

“Now, the challenge for the other candidates is for somebody to break through.”

Coffman is essentially running for Governor because she doesn’t want to be Attorney General any longer; if she’s going to run another statewide race in 2018, she figures that she might as well try for the top prize. Unfortunately for Coffman, she has neither the fundraising chops nor the conservative bonafides to be a top contender in a Republican Primary. Coffman has never been good at raising money; when she was first campaigning for Attorney General in 2013, she failed to surpass $100k in donations in her first four months in the race. It’s fair to say that Coffman would have entered the race for Governor long ago if she knew that the money would be there to sustain a campaign.

As for her conservative credentials, Coffman has lots of explaining to do to a right-wing base about why she issued a ruling in support of legislative efforts to reclassify the Hospital Provider Fee (HPF). Coffman may have been doing her legal duty with the HPF decision, but that won’t make diehard Republican voters feel any better. If you don’t think Coffman doesn’t already realize this problem, take a look at how she answered some straightforward budget questions in an interview with the Durango Herald:

Coffman deflected a question about the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights and Gallagher Amendment, which limit tax collections and have been blamed for hampering the state budget and dozens of local government budgets, including special districts.

“We would need to set a longer conversation,” she said. “I don’t want to give it short shrift.”

Nothing demonstrates leadership by refusing to answer questions about the state budget.

Oh, and then there’s the whole “Coffmangate” scandal that will be rehashed repeatedly.

 

STILL LOOKING AROUND

Things aren’t going well for the first 3 GOP candidates for Governor: Victor Mitchell, Mitt Romney’s Nephew, and George Brauchler.

Colorado Springs entrepreneur/pastor/author Barry Farah was supposedly going to enter the Republican gubernatorial field back in August, but he seems to have vanished since those initial reports. Farah is either playing a complicated political shell game, or (most likely) he just decided that there was no place for him in the 2018 field.

Republicans Victor Mitchell and Mitt Romney’s Nephew are still plugging along as candidates. Both men have the financial resources to make a serious run at the nomination, but thus far neither has been able to grab much of a foothold of support to reach top-tier status. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see both candidates out of the race by the beginning of 2018…nor would it be a shock if one or both made a late push to get into contention.

The longest-running candidate on the Democratic side, meanwhile, is businessman Noel Ginsburg, who officially joined the race last December. But like the Denver Broncos, Ginsburg is going nowhere fast; unless something changes, he is largely inconsequential in this discussion.

 

LOOKING AHEAD

Colorado’s next Governor is going to come out of the current field of candidates. There is really no other potential candidate lurking who could make a serious bid for the job at this late date.

Walker Stapleton’s Weird Announcement

dealinwalkerfinState Treasurer Walker Stapleton finally made it official over the weekend that he will seek the Republican nomination for Governor in 2018. We noted the announcement on Saturday, but it’s worth taking an extended look because the campaign rollout was so…strange.

According to Joe St. George at Fox 31, Stapleton had originally planned to formally announce his gubernatorial bid on October 2. Stapleton’s camp had to scrap this idea when Gov. John Hickenlooper called for a special legislative session to begin on that same day — you don’t want to be competing for headlines when virtually all of Colorado’s political reporters are covering the legislature — but that doesn’t explain why Stapleton’s team would decide to instead roll-out their campaign on a Saturday afternoon. The only reason to announce anything on a Friday or Saturday afternoon is if you are hoping it will get buried by the press and overlooked by everyone else. If Stapleton’s goal was to just get a small mention in the Denver Post two days later, it seems to have worked out well.

On Monday morning, Stapleton’s campaign did a secondary “announcement” with a cringeworthy two-and-a-half minute video. As Blair Miller writes for Denver7:

He is the grandson of Benjamin Stapleton, the former mayor of Denver who had ties to the Ku Klux Klan, and is also related to the Bush family. Some have raised eyebrows at his fundraising methods in the run-up to his announcement.

In a video announcement, Stapleton said he would “put the people of Colorado above politics.”

Walker Stapleton

Putting “people above politics” is a standard generic line for political candidates, but in Stapleton’s case, it doesn’t mesh with what he told Joey Bunch of the Colorado Springs Gazette in that story on Saturday. Here’s what Stapleton said to Bunch about why he is running for Governor:

“The exact reason I’m running for governor is because we need a governor who can responsibly develop Colorado’s natural resources with the industry [Pols emphasis], while protecting the environment and recognizing what a vital contribution this industry makes to Colorado’s economic future,” Stapleton said.

“The exact reason” Stapleton says he’s running for Governor is to be a champion for the oil and gas industry. That’s a very weird thing to say out loud, let alone in a story announcing your candidacy for Governor.

Perhaps Stapleton was not supposed to present himself as the “oil and gas candidate,” because his Twitter account has a different message:

“I will put taxpayers first, not bureaucrats and special interest [sic].”

Stapleton’s bungled entry into the Governor’s race is particularly baffling because he and his advisors have been preparing for this moment for years; it’s not like Stapleton just decided to run for Governor a couple of weeks ago. His announcement video is full of talking points that have obviously been tested in polls and focus groups, including this statement targeting CDOT:

And most of all, we’re tired of wasteful spending, like our Department of Transportation, which has spent $150 million of our money on new offices instead of new roads, leaving us all sitting in traffic.

Stapleton is presumably talking about the fact that CDOT is building a new headquarters near Mile High Stadium (or whatever it’s called now), but this is a questionable approach to addressing transportation issues. The reason CDOT is building a new office is because they are currently working out of buildings that are really old and not intended to accommodate a huge state government office. As Denver7 reported last year:

“We have, obviously, significant needs in the transportation system here in Colorado, and at the same time, we also use some of that budget to maintain up to 1,500 facilities around the state, so that we can provide transportation services,” said CDOT spokeswoman Amy Ford. “Most of our buildings were built in the 30s and the 40s and the 50s and we have to maintain them.”

The headquarters building near Colorado Boulevard and Arkansas Avenue was originally supposed to be a Denver Public School. CDOT said the boiler needs to be replaced, asbestos issues exist and other unsafe working conditions in that building and the facility it owns near Holly Street and Evans Avenue.

Stapleton is insinuating that CDOT is choosing to build office space instead of fixing roads, but the funding comes out of an entirely different pot of money dedicated to facilities maintenance. As Colorado’s State Treasurer, we would think this is something Stapleton would understand.

Despite this very weird announcement strategy, Walker Stapleton is still the likely frontrunner for the Republican gubernatorial nomination. What that ultimately means for Colorado Republicans is self-explanatory.

No Nibiru, just rural Democrats causing trouble.

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

So the world didn’t end today (yet). I  bet a 6th grader a chocolate bar that we’d still have class Monday.  His older brother had told him for sure that September 23 was it. Young students are all on Facebook, gobbling up and sharing every bit of fake news and conspiracy theory out there.

The eclipse, the hurricanes, and the earthquakes proved that doomsday was at hand.

This didn’t happen. Nibiru hitting earth, debunked on Snopes.com

My more sciencey students rushed to debunk this: “If there was a planet about to hit the earth, we would have seen it coming! Planets don’t just jump out of their orbits and go wherever they want! NASA says it’s not true. ”

I love that they’re paying attention in science class, and using evidence-based arguments.

But, no Nibiru in sight. Just another day, living the dream in northeast Colorado. Something else surprising is happening, though….Democrats are organizing in Northeast Colorado, and in rural counties all over the state.

At Octoberfest, it was chilly and drizzly. Felt like fall.  The Morgan County Democrats were boothed next to the American Legion, so we had lots of opportunities to chat while we waited for people to stop by.

I quickly found that we could talk about anything as long as I didn’t directly criticize the President. They could criticize him, though, and did. “Needs to take a Speech 101 class,” said a spry old gentleman who later showed off his world-class polka moves. “He’s embarrassing us with all the tweeting,” confided a lifelong Republican.

Democrats were zeroing in on us, too. “You have a booth? Here? How many Democrats are in Morgan County?” Turns out, about 3,000 registered Dems to about 6,000 registered Republicans, with ~4,500 unaffiliated. Dems have kept rather quiet until now, what with that 2:1 disadvantage.

But those days are gone. Dems had big, loud, crowded floats in all of the recent town parades.

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Polis Lands Big Endorsement in Governor’s Race

As Joey Bunch writes for the publication formerly known as the Colorado Statesman:

In some races, certain endorsements matter much more than others, and Jared Polis bagged a big one early in the Democratic race for governor Wednesday.

Colorado Politics is the first to report that the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers’ Colorado State Conference of Electrical Workers is backing the congressman from Boulder in the nine-candidate Democratic primary. Polis, in turn, cites the union’s role in his energy and infrastructure plans…

…While labor unions aren’t as politically potent as they used to, the endorsement remains coveted in Democratic circles.

This is a big deal for Polis, particularly in a competitive Democratic primary for Governor. Along with SEIU (nurses, janitors) and UFCW (grocery workers), the IBEW is one of the most influential labor unions in Colorado. Labor unions won’t necessarily follow the same path of candidate endorsements in a high-profile race, but landing IBEW certainly gives Polis an advantage in courting support from other labor groups.

Polis is already the frontrunner in the Democratic Primary, and endorsements like this are particularly important because of who doesn’t receive them; this is the kind of support that candidates such as Cary Kennedy and Mike Johnston desperately need in order to differentiate themselves with Democratic voters next June.

Stapleton Put On Notice for Sketchy Fundraising Tactics

Walker Stapleton

Sometime in early October, state Treasurer Walker Stapleton is expected to announce that he will seek the Republican nomination for Governor in 2018. Even though he’s not yet a candidate for the top job in the state, Stapleton is already facing legal questions about an independent expenditure committee that is raising money ostensibly on his behalf.

As Mark Matthews reports for the Denver Post:

The Democratic Governors Association is threatening to file a complaint with the Colorado Secretary of State against Republican Walker Stapleton over his ties to a campaign group that is raising money to support his expected bid for governor.

The DGA said Stapleton may have run afoul of state election law by headlining an Aug. 21 fundraiser for the group, an independent expenditure committee known as Better Colorado Now, whose primary purpose is to get Stapleton elected.

Colorado prohibits its candidates from coordinating with these committees — which can raise and spend an unlimited amount of money. The DGA vowed to file a complaint with the Colorado secretary of state against Stapleton, the committee and its donors if Better Colorado Now spent any money to back his candidacy.

Stapleton is not the only 2018 hopeful who will benefit from an independent expenditure committee (IEC), but he’s the only one pushing the legal line by being involved with the fundraising efforts. Stapleton’s name appeared as a “special guest” on the invitation for the Aug. 21 fundraiser for an IEC called “Better Colorado Now,” which lists as its official purpose “to oppose Democrat candidates for Governor” but is almost certainly going to be a vehicle meant to benefit Stapleton’s gubernatorial bid.

As we wrote last month, Stapleton may be legally permitted to help raise money for the IEC so long as he isn’t an official candidate for Governor — which is a big reason why he hasn’t already formally announced his candidacy. That could change once the lawyers get involved here, but the legality of this move won’t alter the awful perception for Stapleton. As Republican gubernatorial candidate Victor Mitchell told the Grand Junction Sentinel:

“Stapleton has been running for four years. He’s been doing unethical fundraising that’s basically just down and out wrong. He’s giving political speeches wherever he goes. He’s raising unlimited sums. It’s everything that’s wrong with our political discourse today.”

“Better Colorado Now” had raised about $121,000 as of June 30, and that figure has certainly grown since then. We’ll find out in a few months whether the total amount raised by this IEC is enough to override the negative news it has generated for Stapleton.

Everybody And Their Mother Endorses Jared Polis

Rep. Jared Polis.

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Rep. Jared Polis released a very long list of endorsements today (after the jump) of Colorado Democrats backing his campaign, including former Congresswoman Betsy Markey and most of the state’s legislative leadership from the area Polis represents in Congress. It’s a strong show of support for Polis ahead of tomorrow’s entry of Lt. Gov. Donna Lynne into the race, and also helps pinpoint where Polis can expect to run strongly in the Democratic primary–urbanizing communities along the northern Front Range adversely affected by oil and gas development, many of which are in Polis’ congressional district.

This list is illustrative of the difficulty not just Lynne but all of the Democratic primary candidates are going to have catching up with Polis, whose vast financial resources and solid base of support among environmentally-minded Democrats have cemented his status as the Democratic frontrunner following the departure of Rep. Ed Perlmutter from the race. In fact it’s a fair statement to say that Lynne’s expected entry tomorrow into the gubernatorial primary is a problem for every Democratic candidate except Polis, who is already well on the way to owning the field.

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