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.

Where’s Walker’s Finance Report?

UPDATE (1:14pm): Stapleton’s campaign has been fined by the Secretary of State’s office for failing to meet reporting deadline requirements (scroll to bottom).

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We’ll have a full roundup of the Q4 (2017) fundraising numbers a bit later; perhaps by then Republican gubernatorial candidate Walker Stapleton will have finally filed his report that was due before Midnight.

Last week Stapleton’s campaign leaked out news that it had raised a record amount of money in Q4, but we’re still waiting for confirmation of those figures because…well, according to one of Stapleton’s top advisors, it’s the Secretary of State’s fault:

It’s worth noting here that no other major campaign in Colorado failed to report its Q4 fundraising report before last night’s deadline.

Gazette’s Desperate Stapleton “Hail Mary” Says a Mouthful

This weekend, the Colorado Springs Gazette’s editorial board–considered a direct expression of the political desires of the owner of the Gazette, billionaire Phil Anschutzattempted to put an early end to the 2018 Republican gubernatorial primary by declaring Treasurer Walker Stapleton the only viable candidate:

If Republicans hope to elect a governor this fall, they need to narrow the primary field and unite behind State Treasurer Walker Stapleton…

Several of the other candidates pitch mostly interchangeable platforms, lack substantial public service, and share the uphill battle of achieving name recognition.

Coffman has won state office but has failed to launch a primary campaign that shows promise of traction. If Tancredo gets only 22 percent of the primary vote, eight other candidates divide up the remaining 78 percent. The winner in a nine-way race will enter the primary with scars inflicted by eight opponents.

If Tancredo wins the primary, even his most loyal supporters should know he cannot win the general.

By all accounts we’ve heard so far today, this editorial is provoking major controversy among Colorado Republicans. It’s still very early in the primary process, before many Republican primary voters have even learned about the field of candidates in the running. Precinct caucuses aren’t until March 6 this year. Without a chance for opinions to form in the minds of many Republican party faithful, this heavy-handed declaration that it’s time to clear the field isn’t likely to be received well. Colorado Republicans have a larger-than-usual contingent of perennially disaffected party activists waiting for the chance to declare shenanigans.

And the Phil Anschutz machine just gave those folks exactly what they needed! Ethically, this editorial only compounds widely-perceived problems at the Gazette with favoring establishment Republican candidates–and not just an editorial problem, as the Gazette’s political blog’s questionable “breaking” of news about Stapleton’s fundraising haul most recently evidenced. We also took note in this space about blatant impropriety at the Gazette in the service of Bob Beauprez’s Pioneer Action group, which attacked unfavored Republican incumbents in 2016. Suffice to say that there is a great deal here to enrage anyone who isn’t already backing Stapleton. Stapleton may be the candidate of choice for the moneyed GOP establishment in Colorado, but this editorial could well have the effect of driving the angry GOP base away from Stapleton.

With all of that said, of course there is plenty in this editorial that accurately reflects political reality. Cynthia Coffman has indeed failed to carve out a place of strength in this primary, and the self-funded candidates have not attracted the Trump-style grassroots support they got in the race laying claim to. The September poll cited by the Gazette shows Stapleton trailing distantly behind Tancredo, though with a large undecided factor that they argue should coalesce around Stapleton. All told, and as we said when he originally got into the race, we agree that Walker Stapleton is the GOP primary frontrunner–and more than that, he is most likely the only candidate who has a shot at stopping Tom Tancredo in the gubernatorial primary.

But above all, this editorial should have the effect of emboldening Tancredo and his hard-right supporters. For a candidate who has been waging insurgent politics his entire political career, this clear signal of fear in addition to the usual loathing from the Republican establishment is the greatest validator Tancredo could ever ask for.

Tancredo to the Gazette: Do you really think Colorado Republicans are so stupid?

(The Anschutz Machine throws down – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Tom Tancredo.

Acting as if the Republican Party in Colorado is on its death bed, the Colorado Springs Gazette trashed all the GOP gubernatorial candidates Sunday, except Colorado Treasurer Walker Stapleton, whom the newspaper presented as the last great hope:

Republicans have an unusual opportunity to elect a governor this year. Stapleton’s primary contenders would do themselves and their party a favor by selflessly clearing the field and helping him win against the odds.

While Stapleton “has earned name recognition and has a host of leadership accomplishments to run on,” the Gazette editorial stated, the other GOP candidates are paralyzed, boring, bumbling, inexperienced, unknown, and/or clueless.

Former Congressman Tom Tancredo is described as a “niche candidate with a single message,” who “invariably returns to his stark views about federal immigration enforcement.”

Attorney General Cynthia Coffman “has failed to launch a primary campaign that shows promise of traction,” states the Gazette.

“Several of the other candidates pitch mostly interchangeable platforms, lack substantial public service, and share the uphill battle of achieving name recognition,” concludes the newspaper, which is owned by Republican billionaire Phil Anschutz, through Clarity Media.

And what does Tanc, who bears the bunt of the Gazette’s criticism, have to say about it?

“Why don’t we let the people of this state figure that out.” Tancredo told KNUS radio Monday when asked to respond to the Gazette editorial. “…Do you really think the Republicans in this state don’t see the needs that we have, don’t look at this whole picture, don’t look at, you know, who would be the best candidate against a Jared Polis? And let’s let them make that decision, right?  [The Gazette is] assuming the Republicans are so stupid as to nominate me, even though no one believes I can win this thing.” [Listen here at 29 min 30 sec.]

Tancredo also told the radio station, as he has in the past, that he’d be governor today if establishment Republicans hadn’t succeeded in knocking him out of the gubernatorial race in 2014. (See related posts here and here.)

The question is, is the Gazette’s brazen desperation to stop Tancredo premature? Quite possibly, given the money flying around out there.

But you can see why the Gazette is worried. Tanc isn’t looking any weaker than he did when he jumped out the gate as the front runner to win the GOP nomination.

On Friday, 9NEWS political analyst Floyd Ciruli was the latest to unequivocally predict a Tancredo primary victory.

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.

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.

Whither Naming The Neighborhood “Stapleton?”

Walker Stapleton: NOT responsible for the sins of his great-grandpa. Or his cousin George Bush. We should stop.

9NEWS reports on an increasingly hot topic in the affluent northeast Denver neighborhood built over the former Stapleton International Airport:

Two community forums were held Tuesday to discuss the use of the name ‘Stapleton’ — in a building with the name ‘Stapleton’ above both entrances.

Change The Name Stapleton held two meetings at The Cube near Northfield Stapleton.

“I heard everything from, ‘I am diabolically opposed to a name change’ to, ‘It is absolutely what we need to do to have social justice.’ And, to me, that’s the best thing you can ever hear is to have that spectrum of opinion on a very complicated topic,” said moderator Dr. Nita Mosby Tyler.

The “topic” is, of course, that former Denver mayor Ben Stapleton “had ties” to the Ku Klux Klan before and during his long administration of the city–a tenure running from 1923-1947 with a four-year gap between 1931 and 1935. To say that Stapleton “had ties” to the KKK is a bit of an understatement; Stapleton was in fact himself Klansman #1128, and after early denials openly appointed members of the KKK to city government–leading to an unsuccessful attempt at a recall. Later as the KKK lost popularity he turned against his former allies, but by no account we’ve read became repentant a la Robert Byrd or other publicly rehabilitated Klansmen.

All of which does rightly lead to the question, should the Stapleton neighborhood keep its controversial name? In recent years as the movement to take down monuments to the Confederacy and other commemorations of racists and racism across the nation has accelerated, this has repeatedly bubbled up as a topic of discussion. We don’t see any sign of that lessening, and the diverse and generally liberal residents of this Denver neighborhood might well decide a change is necessary at some point. That’s not a rejection of the city’s history, more of acknowledgment of the city’s diverse reality today. Which we readily concede the KKK wouldn’t be very pleased to see.

Above all, Colorado Republicans ask, please don’t hold this against the great-grandkids!

But perhaps Walker Stapleton has something to say about it, and that would certainly be a headline.

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.

Tom Tancredo Will Run for Governor

UPDATE: Here’s a telling quote in a story from Mark Matthews for the Denver Post:

“I think people really are ready for somebody who is not a part of the establishment, and that is certainly yours truly,” said Tancredo in a phone call confirming his bid.

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Here we go again…

Ernest Luning has the scoop for the publication formerly known as the Colorado Statesman:

Tom Tancredo is set to kick off a campaign for governor of Colorado, joining a crowded Republican primary field in what will be his third run for the office, Colorado Politics has learned.

Tancredo enters the race — after more than two months spent exploring a run — on the heels of a private poll showing him with a wide lead over other GOP candidates. The poll also shows Tancredo in a statistical dead heat with leading Democratic candidate U.S. Rep. Jared Polis…

…Tancredo plans to hold Front Range events Wednesday to officially launch his candidacy — including a noon stop at the Denver headquarters of the Independence Institute, the self-described free-market think tank Tancredo headed in the 1990s before winning the first of his five terms in Congress. He’s scheduled to start the day at Whistling Pines Gun Club in Colorado Springs and finish with an afternoon appearance at Grimm Brothers Brewhouse in Loveland.

We’ve said many times in this space that a Tancredo gubernatorial bid actually makes more strategic sense in 2018 than it did when he sought the state’s top job in 2010 and 2014. Tancredo appears to be in position to consolidate support from Steve Bannon, and potentially, from President Trump himself (Tancredo spent last weekend hunting pheasant with Donald Trump, Jr.). Polling data shows that Tancredo is an early favorite in a very crowded Republican field. Weak fundraising efforts from other top Republican candidates means the Tanc doesn’t have far to go to catch up with campaigns that have been underway for months.

It’s too early to gauge Tancredo’s potential in a theoretical General Election matchup, but his candidacy certainly shakes things up in a Republican Primary. The most immediate impact is with Arapahoe County District Attorney George Brauchler, for whom a Tancredo candidacy represents the worst-case scenario for his bid to win the GOP nomination. If Brauchler fell off a cliff with an awful Q3 fundraising effort, Tancredo just dropped a piano on his corpse.

Republicans Press Brauchler to Resign as District Attorney

George Brauchler

To resign or not to resign: That is the question that is beginning to dog George Brauchler in a crowded Republican Primary for Governor.

Brauchler serves as the District Attorney in Arapahoe County (technically the 18th Judicial District, which is one of the largest DA offices in the state), a job that he continues to maintain while seeking the GOP nomination for Governor. It certainly isn’t unusual for a statewide candidate to hold a different elected office while campaigning, but the issue seems to be coming up more often for Brauchler in Republican circles. Earlier this month, Brauchler spoke to a group of Castle Rock Republicans and was asked some pointed questions about running for governor while simultaneously holding a job that pays $190,000 per year (his salary was specifically mentioned in one of two follow-up questions).

The topic is a multi-edged sword for Brauchler; it creates doubt about his ability to run an effective campaign for governor, but also questions whether he is effectively performing his duties as the elected District Attorney. 

In late September, the publication formerly known as the Colorado Statesman published a guest editorial signed by former state representative Jim Kerr and well-known Republican agitator Steve Durham (also a former legislator and a current member of the Colorado Board of Education) that was aimed squarely at Brauchler:

Down in Texas, the state legislature is considering measures to require local governments to seek voter approval before raising taxes, along the lines of Colorado’s Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights (TABOR). Here in Colorado, we might want to return the favor by adopting a version of Texas’s “resign-to-run” law, a measure that requires some state and local officials to resign their present office before running for a different office.

This is a common-sense measure, already law in five states, that Colorado should have adopted long ago. Campaigning for another office takes a lot of time and almost certainly means that the candidate will neglect current responsibilities, shortchanging taxpayers. Ask yourself, “Why should taxpayers continue to pay an officeholder when he or she is spending considerable time on the campaign trail seeking a new office?”…

Let’s look at some current races to see the effect of this. George Brauchler, the Arapahoe District Attorney is campaigning nearly full time for the office of governor these days. If you don’t believe us, check out his Facebook page. Almost every day, sometimes twice or three times a day lately, he’s here or there in Colorado, making speeches and pressing the flesh, soliciting campaign contributions. Recent disclosures regarding his salary have shown that taxpayers are paying him $195,000 a year to be D.A. Is he devoting his “undivided attention” to being D.A. and earning his paycheck? No.

Hey, we don’t protest Brauchler running, but he should resign his well-paid current post to do so. [Pols emphasis]

Brauchler typically answers these questions by making a joke about not sleeping much and then pivoting to talk about wealthy candidates (like Victor Mitchell, Walker Stapleton, and Mitt Romney’s Nephew) who have personal fortunes they can draw upon for campaign support; he is normally very direct in saying that he is not going to resign from his current job. But it’s clear that this is dangerous territory for Brauchler, and he’s setting himself up for trouble with his own actions.

For one example of where this becomes problematic for Brauchler, take a look at what he said during an appearance on the Dan Caplis Show on 710 KNUS in late June. Guest host Casey Bloyer asks Brauchler about juggling a full-time job with a statewide campaign, and Brauchler trips up on the answer:

I’m at my desk right now. [Pols emphasis] In between 18 million emails and trying coordinate stuff between HR issues, trying to stay on top of case cases we have…like right now, we have a large case going on in Colorado Springs, where we’re the special prosecution, where our office is prosecuting the former sheriff [Terry Maketa]. We’ve got some other officer-involved things that we take care of. It’s refreshing to not have to campaign all day every day.”

Former El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa, aka the “Shirtless Sheriff.”

Brauchler is most certainly not supposed to be campaigning for another office while working his day job, but that’s what he seems to be indicating here. He also brings up the fact that his office is overseeing a high-profile case involving former El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa; a re-trial for Maketa will happen early next year after Brauchler’s office failed to come up with a conviction on multiple charges in July (the Colorado Springs Gazette ran a story about Brauchler’s potential conflicts with a retrial after Maketa escaped penalty).

On the campaign side, Brauchler’s inability to raise money is a significant concern that plays into the narrative of a man who is over-extending himself, but it is the time constraints with his day job that could prove most problematic. Brauchler has repeatedly said that the buck stops with him on all decisions out of the DA’s office, which means that he owns the outcomes in the Maketa trial and other high-profile cases (including recent allegations of sexual assault at South High School in Denver, which Brauchler’s office is now investigating).

Republicans could make similar complaints about job effectiveness with Walker Stapleton, who is running for Governor while serving as State Treasurer, but it’s much easier to explain wins and losses for a prosecutor’s office than for the relatively-obscure work handled by the Treasurer. On the Democratic side, a comparable argument for Rep. Jared Polis doesn’t really get off the ground, either; for all its faults, Congress actually does keep a pretty thorough attendance record.

Because it works as a negative message about both his campaigning and his job effectiveness, Republicans are likely to keep pressing this attack on Brauchler ahead of the GOP Primary next June.

Tancredo Tops GOP Field in New Gubernatorial Poll

UPDATE: We almost forgot to point out this an unintentionally hilarious quote in Luning’s story from Ryan Lynch, the campaign manager for Republican George Brauchler:

“With momentum on his side, George has advanced to the top of the GOP field for governor.”

This is not what momentum looks like.

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The 2018 cycle couldn’t be shaping up better for Tom Tancredo.

Former Republican Congressman Tom Tancredo is still weighing a potential campaign for governor in 2018, and according to a new poll, things seem to be falling into place for the Tanc. As Ernest Luning reports for the publication formerly known as the Colorado Statesman, Tancredo is the odds-on favorite in a crowded Republican field of candidates:

Tancredo holds a wide lead in Colorado’s crowded Republican gubernatorial primary field and is in a statistical tie with leading Democratic candidate Jared Polis, according to a survey conducted by the pollster who set up the polling and data operations for Donald Trump’s  presidential campaign.

The poll shows about half the likely primary and general election voters are undecided roughly eight months before the primary and a year before the general election.

The results of the poll, obtained exclusively by Colorado Politics, show “a real path to victory” for Tancredo, a former congressman and two-time candidate for governor, said pollster Matt Braynard of the Washington-based Braynard Group.

The survey of 1,000 likely Colorado voters and 400 likely Republican primary election voters, conducted in late September, shows Tancredo atop a primary field of six declared and potential GOP candidates with 22.1 percent support, with the runner-up, State Treasurer Walker Stapleton, showing 8.5 percent support. [Pols emphasis]

District Attorney George Brauchler was next with 6.8 percent, followed by Attorney General Cynthia Coffman — a potential gubernatorial candidate who hasn’t declared her plans — with 5.6 percent. Former state lawmaker and businessman Victor Mitchell polls at 0.8 percent, and former investment banker Doug Robinson had 0.3 percent. (Braynard didn’t include declared candidates Steve Barlock, Greg Lopez and Jim Rundberg in the survey.)

As we’ve said many times in this space, a 2018 gubernatorial run for Tancredo actually makes a lot of sense — moreso than it ever has in the past. Tancredo ran for governor in 2010 (under the banner of the American Constitution Party) and again in 2014 (as a Republican), but the national political mood is setting up much better for Tancredo in 2018.

Moderate-ish Republicans such as Sen. Jeff Flake and Sen. Bob Corker are declining to run for re-election in 2018 in part because they don’t think they can make it through a Republican Primary. Steve Bannon, a former Trump adviser, is championing a wave of right-wing Republicans that already picked up a big victory in Alabama with Roy Moore’s landslide win in a GOP primary; just last month, Bannon met with Tancredo to talk about running for governor. And the timing is even right for Tancredo’s immigration reform message — an issue that didn’t have nearly the same attraction in 2010 or 2014 as it does this cycle.

Quite frankly, there are more reasons for Tancredo to join the double-digit field of Republican candidates than there are for him to stay away from the race. If Tancredo does not run for governor in 2018 it will be because he just doesn’t want to do it…and the Tanc wouldn’t even be talking about this if he wasn’t already very interested.

George Brauchler Falls Off a Cliff

UPDATE: Via reporter Ernest Luning, attempts to shine this turd did not go well:

While Brauchler’s campaign manager Ryan Lynch boasted in a tweet early Monday about the 18th Judicial District attorney winning the quarter with a $98,846 haul, the tweet disappeared later in the morning after Michael Fortney, Stapleton’s campaign manager, asked in a tweet why Lynch was “trying to spin” the modest haul. After spending $68,842 during the quarter, Brauchler had $173,970 in the bank. (Lynch told Colorado Politics he deleted the tweet because it was meant as a preliminary message in advance of the campaign’s statement.)

—–

UPDATE: Brauchler supporters are a tad, um, delusional…

“This is what momentum looks like.”
—–

George Brauchler Q3-2017 Fundraising Report

Wow.

It is difficult to come up with a more appropriate reaction to the Q3 fundraising numbers posted by Republican gubernatorial candidate George Brauchler late Monday night. Brauchler’s campaign reported a stunningly-awful $98,846 in contributions for the fundraising period between July-Septembe.

If you were sketching out a worst-case scenario for Brauchler’s Q3 fundraising report, failing to reach $100,000 in contributions would have most certainly been at the top of that list. Getting hit by a bus would be about the only thing that might have qualified as worse than raising just $98,846. Brauchler’s paltry Q2 fundraising haul of $190,696 looks positively gargantuan in comparison.

Brauchler now has $173,970 in the bank, which is absolutely awful for a candidate who was supposed to be one of the top Republican candidates of 2018. By comparison, Democratic Lieutenant Governor Donna Lynne raised $384,335 in only two months, and she doesn’t have anywhere near the name ID of the Arapahoe County Attorney General. Brauchler’s candidacy already had plenty of problems, but this disastrous fundraising performance may well mark the beginning of the end for his gubernatorial hopes. There is no spin required here; failing to hit triple digits is preposterously terrible.

Brauchler supporters may try to say that it is still early in the race, but that’s not reality for a candidate whose only path to the June Primary ballot lies in making it through the caucus/assembly process. This isn’t about whether or not Brauchler will have enough money to pay for an effective advertising campaign — at this rate, Brauchler is barely going to have enough money to run a functional campaign at all. Brauchler’s campaign needs to be staffing up by the end of this quarter and opening offices around the state if he is going to have the organization to succeed at the GOP state convention, and it’s difficult to see from here how he might be able to pull that together.

These Q3 fundraising numbers will also go a long way toward convincing Tom Tancredo to jump in the race for Governor, which would be particularly awful for Brauchler. Any concerns Tancredo might have had about harming the chances of a Republican like Brauchler are largely irrelevant now that Brauchler has proven to be so inept as a statewide candidate.

We’ll have much more commentary on the Q3 fundraising numbers later today, but it’s safe to say that no other report will reverberate quite as much this turd from Brauchler.

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.