Pat Quinn Comes to His Senses, Withdraws from Treasurer Race

Pat Quinn, State Treasurer

This sign marks the end of your ability to be recognized.

Democrat Pat Quinn announced today that he was ending his race for State Treasurer after five months of raising little money, spending most of it, and touring the state in an effort to find out just how completely unknown he was outside of Broomfield (press release after the jump).

The term-limited Mayor of Broomfield, Quinn jumped into the race for State Treasurer in June, oddly entering the contest on the same day that Democrat Betsy Markey was making her announcement for the same campaign. Quinn was (and remains) a virtual unknown even in Democratic party circles, so his announcement was unexpected for many reasons.

Quinn had a very weak Q3 fundraising period, reporting just $33k raised and $7k in the bank (or about $72,000 less than Democratic Treasurer candidate Betsy Markey), and when the reports came out we noted that it was time for Quinn to start thinking about where this was really headed.

But Quinn's campaign will be missed for one thing: It was the only campaign to go public with statewide polling numbers, giving us a glimpse into the potential popularity of a variety of elected officials. In fact, Quinn may be the only candidate in the history of Colorado politics (maybe even national) to intentionally release to the press results of a poll showing that 91% of Coloradans had never heard of a Pat Quinn.

So long, Quinn. It's been…brief.


Statewide Candidates Q3 Fundraising: Winners and Losers

Cynthia Coffman

Cynthia Coffman (R) was one of several candidates for whom Q3 was their first full fundraising period.

For many statewide candidates in Colorado, the Q3 fundraising period was their first full quarter to be shaking out the loose change from supporters and other well-wishers.

The Q3 reports also give us our first chance to take a good look at most of the entire field of candidates, though a couple will keep us waiting another few months (Mike Kopp and Wayne Williams did not file their campaign committee paperwork until after the Q3 deadline).

So who did well, and who laid a big ugly egg? Take a look after the jump to find out.


Walker Stapleton Raises $325k

Republican Treasurer Walker Stapleton reported an impressive fundraising total for Q3, bringing in $325,185 for the three months ending in September.

Stapleton has been fairly quiet since first getting elected in 2010, and Democrats Betsy Markey and Pat Quinn have set their sights on unseating the incumbent. Stapleton has done very little fundraising since 2010, but he made up for that in a big way in Q3 — collected three times as much money as Markey.

Interesting Results (and Strategy) Revealed in New Statewide Poll

Democrat Pat Quinn, who surprised political observers by jumping into the State Treasurer race earlier this month (on the same day that Democrat Betsy Markey announced her candidacy) took another unusual step today. This morning Quinn released the full results of a statewide poll that, spin from the campaign aside, really aren't all that favorable to the little-known Broomfield Mayor.

Betsy Markey

Not Pat Quinn

State Treasurer Walker Stapleton


The strategy here is obviously to try to get potential supporters and donors to believe that Quinn is truly a viable candidate, though the results of the poll really don't work out that way. As the polling memo explains (Anzalone/Liszt/Grove did the survey), however, things look good for Markey and not as good for incumbent Republican Walker Stapleton:

Walker Stapleton is unknown and ill-defined. Stapleton enters the race with no incumbency advantage – only 22% of voters know who he is (11% favorable / 11% unfavorable), including only 23% of Republicans who can rate him. Independent voters are among the least familiar, only 16% can rate him.

Once voters learn very basic information about him (his partisanship and his job title), more voters are able  to  rate  the  job  he’s  doing  – 36%  approve  of  the  job  he’s  doing,  though  52%  are  still  not able  to  rate   him.

The memo tries to make the case that Quinn might be better for Democrats than Markey because of the latter's "high negatives," but the numbers aren't really that bad for her.

The numbers mean little for Quinn no matter the spin, because he has to be able to beat Markey in a primary first — and this poll doesn't address that issue.

Let's break down some of the more interesting numbers: 


Flashback: Walker Stapleton, Gold-Hoarding Teabagger

Walker Stapleton.

Walker Stapleton.

FOX 31's Eli Stokols sets the scene today:

Colorado Treasurer Walker Stapleton, a Republican, announced Thursday that he’s seeking a second term.

Not surprisingly, the entire GOP establishment is lining up behind Stapleton, whose press release touted the support of Attorney General John Suthers, Broncos vice president John Elway, Rockies owner Dick Monfort, his 2010 primary rival J.J. Ament, attorney Norm Brownstein and businessman Larry Mizel.

“Our accomplishments in the Treasurer’s office are not partisan or controversial but examples of common sense solutions for the taxpayers of Colorado,” Stapleton said in a statement…

Treasurer Walker Stapleton's first term in office as Treasurer is coming to a close, and it's proven to be a good deal for him–not least for his sweet arrangement that allows him to collect a six-digit income from his side investment business while drawing his taxpayer-funded salary. Treasurer Stapleton's investment strategy for the state has not been overly controversial to our knowledge, though we do hear complaints from time to time about the rate of return. But there was a time, back in 2010, when Stapleton was singing a very different tune–and while "Tea Party" furor raged, and Stapleton faced a Republican primary opponent, it was sometimes necessary for Stapleton to advocate for fiscal policies both "partisan" and "controversial."

For example, take this recorded debate between Stapleton and opponent J.J. Ament from June of 2010:

In this 2010 debate against Ament, Stapleton warned of a coming "hyperinflationary environment" due to various evil Obama tax-and-spend depredations, a very popular prediction on the right at the time, and recommends Glenn Beck-style that "using gold" as a "hedge against inflation" is "something we need to investigate."

At the time Stapleton said this, the price of gold was extremely high, and anti-government "Tea Party" paranoia sentiment was peaking. But as it turns out, we did not enter any "hyperinflationary environment" after 2010, and the price of gold today is hundreds less than its peak–or for that matter, the price it was during this debate in 2010. That should make any financially literate voter very happy that Stapleton didn't take his own advice.

Now folks, we're not naive, and we honestly doubt that Stapleton meant a word of this nonsense when he offered it in a primary whose terms were dictated by the radical right. This was a season, after all, when most every Republican candidate was compelled to repeat, for lack of a better term, goddamn crazy talk.

But really, somebody should be asked about this–Stapleton, Larry Mizel, somebody. Does every Republican who ran the "Tea Party" gauntlet in 2010 get a pass for the crazy things they were "forced" to endorse?

Let's get some "GOP establishment" types to say so then.

Two Democrats Announce for State Treasurer

Former Congresswoman Betsy Markey announced her candidacy for State Treasurer this morning (full release after the jump), as we noted earlier. Her entry into the race to defeat Republican incumbent Walker Stapleton had been rumored for months, and until today there were no other potential Democrats considering the office.

And then there was Pat Quinn. The term-limited Mayor of Broomfield announced out of nowhere this afternoon that he, too, would be running as a Democrat for State Treasurer. Check out his strange press release after the jump, the topline message of which is "efficient transportation and accessible open space."

If you're confused by Quinn's announcement, you're not alone. Markey has considerably better name recognition and fundraising capabilities, so Quinn has a long way to go to make this a competitive race. But if he knew he was going to run for Treasurer, why wait until now to announce the news? With no other Democrat in the race, Quinn could have been out beating the bushes for months now — and perhaps shown enough strength to convince Markey not to run in the first place.

Since Markey's base is in Northern Colorado, theoretically she could face a tough Primary against a Democrat from the Denver area…but not against a candidate who is also from Northern Colorado. It would seem that there must be more behind Quinn's apparently sudden announcement — at least, there should be. Unless Quinn has the money to self-fund his campaign to a significant degree, there's little reason to think he can make a serious run at Markey.


The Big Line Updated

With the 2013 legislative session behind us, we've updated The Big Line with our latest projections. Of note:

  • It looks more and more as though Republican Scott Gessler will run for Governor rather than Secretary of State (as we suggested last year), so we've moved his line "off" the board for SOS.
  • With Gessler off the board, the race for SOS is anybody's guess. Maybe Democrat Ken Gordon will arise from his five-month slumber, or perhaps there will even be a Joe Neguse sighting. Either way, the big news will be if Jefferson County Clerk & Recorder Pam Anderson decides to enter the race, as expected.
  • There aren't any real scenarios whereby Democratic Sen. Mark Udall does not get re-elected, so we've adjusted his odds accordingly.
  • We've changed CD-6 to make Democrat Andrew Romanoff a slight favorite over Republican Rep. Mike Coffman. Romanoff is off to a strong start, and the DCCC seems particularly enthused about a race Democrats probably should have won in 2012.

Several Likely 2014 Candidates Have Yet to File

Where’s that coin that I flipped?

We've long passed the Q1 fundraising period for 2014, and while it is still early, there are quite a few candidates who have yet to even file an official candidate affidavit to run for office next year.

Of course, there are several reasons why you might wait to mail that piece of paper. Republican Rep. Mark Waller, for example, is widely believed to be planning a run for Attorney General, but there's no benefit to filing a candidate affidavit at least until the end of the legislative session.

The other thing to remember is that candidates for state office must file a personal financial disclosure form within 10 days of submitting their official candidate affidavit; some candidates may not have that information together yet, or may not be ready to disclose their recent finances. For someone like Gov. John Hickenlooper, who separated from his wife since last filing a candidate affidavit in 2010, this process could be significantly more complicated. 


Back in Colorado, Betsy Markey Being Recruited for Treasurer

Betsy MarkeyFormer Democratic Rep. Betsy Markey is back in Colorado after spending the last two years working in the Obama administration, and she's already being heavily recruited by Democrats to run for State Treasurer in 2014.

Markey is the first Democratic name we've heard as a potential opponent for Republican Treasurer Walker Stapleton; until now, there hadn't been so much as a rumor of a potential Democratic candidate. Stapleton did upset Democratic incumbent Cary Kennedy in 2010 and would be a tough opponent, but the lack of interest from Democrats to this point has had more to do with low interest in the job, rather than concern over Stapleton's political skill. Markey is the kind of experienced, charismatic candidate that would be a stark contrast to the soft-spoken Stapleton, and her name ID would also help overcome one of Stapleton's innate advantages. Markey has only been back in Ft. Collins for a few weeks, but Democrats have been encouraging her to make a run for the job since the Party's annual Jefferson-Jackson Day Dinner in early March. She has not yet indicated whether she wants to jump in the race.

Markey served one term in Congress after an upset win over Republican Marilyn Musgrave in 2008. She lost her bid for re-election to Republican Rep. Cory Gardner in the 2010 Tea Party wave year. Markey stayed in Washington D.C. during the last two years after being named Assistant Secretary for Intergovernmental Relations under Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano. Markey left that position in January to return to Colorado and focus more on Syscom Services, an IT consulting firm that she co-founded in the late 1980s.

As you've probably noticed, we've had some trouble with The Big Line since our move to a new platform. Markey will likely be on the Line as soon as we unkink things.

How would Stapleton pay for road and bridge upgrades?

( – promoted by Colorado Pols)

During an interview on KLZ’s Grassroots Radio Colorado yesterday, Colorado State  Treasurer Walker Stapleton came out in support of a lawsuit alleging that the 2009 FASTER law, which raised Colorado vehicle registration fees to pay for road and bridge upgrades, is unconstitutional.

Here’s the key exchange on the radio show:

WALKER STAPLETON:  Well, you know, my friend Rich Sokel is at the tip of the spear, there. And I think it’s a great thing.  And I hope they prevail because, you know, the FASTER tax was one of many taxes and fees that was passed without our input as voters in Colorado.  And it was passed and given cover by a liberal activist Supreme Court.  And so I hope that it gets some traction, because these fees need to be called what they are, and that’s tax increases.

Host: Absolutely.  So I’m going to wish them luck on that and we’re going to do everything we can to support those guys and their efforts.  Walker Stapleton, Colorado state—

STAPLETON:  Thank you, guys!  I appreciate you!

HOST: We appreciate you and everything you’re doing and you know you’ve got a friendly voice here, so use us whenever we can and we’ll help you fight this battle.  That’s Walker Stapleton, Colorado State Treasurer.

Listen to Walker Stapleton on KLZ 6-7-12

It’s painful to hear a public official, who claims to be the standard bearer for fiscal responsibility, support striking down the FASTER law without explaining how he’d fund road and bridge repair in the state. And this is of course not the first time Republicans have exhibited this problem.

So, please, all you entertaining people over at KLZ, put this question to Stapleton when you have him back on Grassroots Radio Colorado: Does he 1) want to fix Colorado’s crumbling roads and bridges, and, if so 2) how he does he propose to pay for it ($300 million in bonds issued and $400 million to be issued in 2017).

At Least She’s Not Your State Supreme Court Justice (And Family!)

(Walker Stapleton, eat your heart out – promoted by Colorado Pols)

From the Pittsbugh Post-Gazette

State Supreme Court Justice Joan Orie Melvin surrendered to authorities this afternoon to face nine criminal counts pertaining to her alleged use of state resources for campaign purposes. […] Justice Melvin was identified as a target of the grand jury in December. The charges include three counts of theft of services, two counts of criminal conspiracy to commit tampering with or fabricating physical evidence, two counts of official oppression and one count each of criminal conspiracy to commit theft of services and misapplication of entrusted property of government.

“It now appears that not only was Justice Orie Melvin directly and knowingly involved in using state paid staffers from both the judicial and legislative branches of the Pennsylvania government in her political campaign activities, but it also appears that she was aided in those endeavors by two accomplices, co-conspirator and siblings — Janine Mary Orie and [State Sen.] Jane Clare Orie,” according to the presentment.

Her sister, State Senator Jane Orie, was convicted in March on 14 counts for her own misuse of state resources (and apparently the cover-up that followed).

A new mission for Colorado Treasurer Walker Stapleton.

A District Court Judge recently ruled against Colorado Treasurer Walker Stapleton’s efforts to seek information regarding Colorado PERA’s top benefit recipients.


However, this adverse court ruling need not spell the end to Stapleton’s campaign to draw attention to lofty pension benefits.

He need merely shift his focus from public sector retirement benefits to the private sector, that is, top pension benefit recipients in the private sector.

Treasurer Stapleton may find inspiration for this new mission in the work of California Senator Mark Leno and Leno’s recently introduced legislation in California.

“Leno’s first-in-the-nation bill would require publicly traded corporations to report the amount of money their top five highest-paid executives receive in retirement.”

“It’s time to shed some light onto how company executives enrich themselves by millions of dollars each year while eliminating pensions for the lower earning workers they have sworn to protect,” said Leno, who represents Marin in the state Senate.

The article:​artic…

I suggest that the Treasurer kick off his new mission by perusing the book Retirement Heist: How Companies Plunder and Profit from the Nest Eggs of American Workers, by Ellen Schultz, award-winning Wall Street Journal investigative reporter. A taste of the book:

“As far as I can determine there is only one solution [to the CEO’s demand to save more money], the HR representative wrote to her superiors. That would be the death of all existing retirees.”

(Note to Colorado PERA Board of Trustees, this quoted comment was made tongue-in-cheek and should not be considered a viable board policy option.)

Walker it’s time you took the good pension fight to the private sector! Get-R-Done!

P.S., Friend Save Pera Cola on Facebook, Visit, Support the Colorado pension theft lawsuit!

Sucks To Be Stapleton’s Staffer

UPDATE: It’s been privately suggested to us that jokes about persons associated with Treasurer Walker Stapleton going “under the wheels” may be unintentionally caustic. Sorry about that.


That’s the conclusion we draw from an amusing story in today’s Denver paper by reporter Lynn Bartels. Treasurer Walker Stapleton’s new assistant, identified only as a 22-year-old female, sent out emails from her official Colorado state email account offering Stapleton’s “help” to Republican state legislators.

Word of this inappropriate solicitation came when the email in question was accidentally sent to Rep. Daniel Kagan, a Democrat. Had it not, it’s entirely possible this would never have been publicized.

We recall the recent kerfluffle over an aside mention of congressional candidate Joe Miklosi’s run in a Colorado House Democrats press release. That misstep probably rates a mention along with this one, but we’re a bit curious about Stapleton’s claim she is “allowed to do political stuff, but not on state time.”

Considering how easily she went under the bus here, we hope she gets paid for that time too.

Walker Stapleton, Gamblin’ Man

A fascinating exchange picked up Friday by the Colorado Independent, we didn’t want to miss:

Over the course of his first year in office, Colorado Treasurer Walker Stapleton has targeted the state’s public-employee pension plan, known as PERA, underlining its billions of dollars in liabilities and arguing that it should be reworked to reduce the state’s obligations in part by giving over money to contributors to invest themselves. He brought his case to the state’s House Finance Committee on Thursday and predictably ran up against deep Democratic skepticism…

Rep. Daniel Kagan (D-Englewood) lead the opposition to the bill and went back and forth with Stapleton during the hearing.

“Would you like to see us offer a choice even if we knew that it would increase the unfunded liabilities of PERA?” asked Kagan.

“Sure,” Stapleton said, adding that having to reduce PERA’s solvency is “not a happy consequence” of the proposed policy change but worth it if it meant more members of the retirement plan would win the choice to “determine their own retirement futures.” [Pols emphasis]

Kagan suggested Stapleton was putting economic ideology over the obligation of his office.

“I am shocked that you as the treasurer of the state of Colorado would say, as you just said, that to you the concept of giving the consumer choice is more important than making sure that PERA is fully funded.”

This statement from Treasurer Walker Stapleton came during a debate in the House Finance Committee over House Bill 12-1142, which would have opened up the choice to PERA beneficiaries to invest in a “defined contribution” plan, more like the private sector’s 401(k) plans than the “defined benefit” pension plan many public employees (and in many cases, your parents and grandparents in the private sector) enjoyed. While there is possible benefit to taking control of one’s own retirement investments, the recent recession’s wiping out of market equity, including the 401(k) savings of millions of Americans, vividly illustrates the risk.

Since most retirement plans offered by the private sector have ditched defined benefits in favor of 401(k) plans, in a way PERA reminds private sector employees what they’ve lost. The real worry, of course, is that the “choice” is a slippery slope to no choice. The move from defined benefit to defined contribution plans means, by nature, the shifting of risk from guarantors of benefits to individual investment choices. Some will thrive, others will eat cat food.

No matter though, risk is not a problem for Colorado’s chief financial officer! Stapleton would rather see risk, to individual retirees or even increased liability for the state as a whole, than protect the current system. Because providing choice to employees to “determine their own futures” matters more than anything–including either retirees’ or the state’s solvency!

We honestly didn’t realize Stapleton was such an ideologue about this stuff.

“Political Issues” Costing CO Taxpayers $165k Daily

( – promoted by Colorado Pols)

POLS UPDATE: Full release from Colorado House Democrats after the jump:

“The House Republicans are always talking about respecting taxpayers,” Rep. Pabon said. “I’ve asked the Republican leadership more than once to move this bill. It’s simply absurd to let it just sit there, when everyone knows it’s costing our local governments tens of thousands of dollars every day.”


Good reporting by The Paper That Shall Not Be Named, which reports today that “Political Issues” are causing a hold-up in the state House that is costing taxpayers nearly $165,000 daily.

The held up bill is House Bill 1005, a bill to loosen the investment terms for local and county governments.  Colorado it seems is the only state in the nation that requires its municipal governments to invest in nothing with fewer than 2 triple-A ratings.  But since Republicans staged their brinksmanship last year, U.S. government-backed securities no longer hold that rating, and so money that could be invested for a period of time is now essentially sitting under the county mattress.

As you might guess, this critical adjustment has bipartisan support, including that of Treasurer Walker Stapleton.  The bill passed out of the House Finance Committee on a unanimous vote back on Groundhog Day, but it has been stuck ever since.

House sponsor Rep. Pabon (D-Denver) asked the Republican leadership what was holding up the bill, he was told “there were political issues that had to do with supporters of the bill”, with no further explanation.  What exactly those issues are, no-one is willing to say, but House Speaker Frank McNulty is apparently among the obstructors; his spokesman is quoted as saying simply: “Different bills move at different paces.”

(h/t to RSB’s ghost)

The Clock Is Ticking

Pabon’s Bill Saves Colorado Taxpayers $164,383 a Day, But GOP Isn’t Acting on It

Feb 29, 2012

(Denver) – Despite broad bipartisan support and the fact that it saves taxpayers more than $164,000 a day, a bill changing how Colorado counties and cities can invest their savings languishes on the House calendar because the Republican leadership refuses to bring it to a floor vote. HB12-1005, sponsored by Rep. Dan Pabon (D-Denver) and Sen. Ted Harvey (R-Highlands Ranch), would allow counties to invest public funds in securities that have less than two triple-A ratings.  Without that flexibility, counties and local governments are forced to put their public funds in accounts with a lower interest rate. Their hands are tied, and Colorado taxpayers are footing the bill.

GOP dithering is costing Colorado taxpayers $164,383 a day, according to an estimate by the nonpartisan Colorado County Treasurers Association cited today in an article by Tim Hoover in The Denver Post.  

“The House Republicans are always talking about respecting taxpayers,” Rep. Pabon said. “I’ve asked the Republican leadership more than once to move this bill. It’s simply absurd to let it just sit there, when everyone knows it’s costing our local governments tens of thousands of dollars every day.”  

The bill was approved unanimously by the House Finance Committee on Feb. 2. It has sat on the calendar for four weeks. The Republicans’ 33-32 majority in the House means they alone control which bills are scheduled for committee or floor debate.  

“It’s unbelievable how the political games that are being played around here are hurting the people of Colorado and costing taxpayers money,” said Rep. Mark Ferrandino (D-Denver), the House Democratic leader. “I hate to sound like a broken record, but the GOP leadership needs to put Coloradans first.”