Nobody Wanted To Throw Money Down Deep Colorado Wells

One of Deep Colorado Wells’ many anti-Polis billboards.

The Colorado Sun’s Jesse Paul followed up yesterday with one of the biggest individual funders pumping message dollars into the 2022 elections, Weld County oil and gasman millionaire Steve Wells. Back in September, Wells made a big splash with his announcement that he would spend millions in support of GOP gubernatorial candidate Hiedi Heidi Ganahl in an attempt to counter wealthy incumbent Democratic Gov. Jared Polis’ overwhelming financial advantage.

But now we know thanks to the Sun, who reported originally in their Unaffiliated newsletter last week, that Steve Wells’ “Deep Colorado Wells” were more like holding tanks for money that went mostly unspent:

Wells says he has refunded himself about $7 million from the super PAC, Deep Colorado Wells, that he formed to defeat Polis and support Republican candidates, leaving about $850,000 in the committee’s coffers for future political spending.

Wells said he always intended to spend the full $11 million but that he stopped at $3.3 million about a month before Election Day after he realized other GOP donors weren’t going to open their wallets in Colorado and as he saw how much money Polis, a wealthy self-funding candidate, was dedicating to his reelection bid…

A few fake last-minute polls and lots of hot air notwithstanding, the race between Polis and Ganahl was never close, with every credible poll showing her losing by 10 points or more going into the campaign’s final weeks. As Ganahl mired herself in disastrously silly right-wing sideshows like the quest to prove that “furries” are overrunning Colorado’s public schools, Ganahl’s decline in the polls accelerated toward her eventual 19-point defeat on Election Day.

But incredibly, Steve Wells doesn’t blame Ganahl, but rather fellow Republican donors who refused to pony up:

Wells, whose fortune comes from oil and gas drilling on his 40,000-acre Weld County ranch, said he has severed ties with some wealthy GOP donors over their unfulfilled financial commitments.

“It’s changed who I do business with,” Wells said without getting specific. “If you want to sit and piss and moan and bitch about your taxes and crime and all this shit and do absolutely nothing, then get the hell away from me, because I don’t have time for that.”

…Wells said he doesn’t blame Ganahl for her loss, and he doesn’t regret supporting her candidacy rather than directing his money toward other candidates. [Pols emphasis] He figured that supporting Ganahl would provide a boost to all Republicans running this year. Wells also thought other GOP donors would follow his lead.

There’s no nice way to say this, but the “wealthy GOP donors” who refused to throw good money after Wells’ bad money did so based on a realistic assessment that this race was unwinnable, and they were right. This was money spent unimaginatively (see cheesy representative billboard above) by an individual with little to no political experience. The fact that Steve Wells didn’t have anyone to tell him he was on a fool’s errand is Wells’ problem and no one else’s.

This is not an attempt to defend the strategic choices made by Republican donors in the 2022 election cycle as a whole. But in the case of Heidi Ganahl, no responsible strategist with the ear of any GOP funder would have advised to keep pumping money into Ganahl’s lost cause–especially at the expense of races like the Eighth Congressional District, where a few million dollars might have gone much farther in support of Barb Kirkmeyer.

Like self-funding lost cause Joe O’Dea, Wells was a fool easily parted with lots of his money.

May both of them learn lessons from the losses they were unable to cut.

Georgia On Our Minds

UPDATE 8:30PM: Multiple news outlets call Georgia’s U.S. Senate race for Democratic incumbent Sen. Raphael Warnock. Democrats win a 51-49 Senate majority as the 2022 election cycle finally comes to a close.

All of American politics awaits the results of the runoff election for the U.S. Senate in the state of Georgia today pitting incumbent Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock against Republican football legend Herschel Walker. Poll aggregates show the race extremely close but with Warnock holding a small persistent edge. A Warnock win would give Democrats a crucial one-seat “Manchin Margin” to pad their Senate majority.

A completely unscientific for-discussion-purposes poll follows. As always, try to set aside what you want to happen and vote for what you think actually will happen. And we’ll update this evening with results.

Who will win Georgia's U.S. Senate runoff election?

View Results

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Tuesday Open Thread

“Human beings, who are almost unique in having the ability to learn from the experience of others, are also remarkable for their apparent disinclination to do so.”

–Douglas Adams

Why Republicans Couldn’t See Ganahl Train Wreck Coming

Heidi Ganahl, who helped Colorado Republicans turn defeat into disaster in 2022.

Ernest Luning of the Colorado Springs Gazette’s political blog took a long-form look at the aftermath of the Colorado Republican Party’s calamitous 2022 midterm elections, as the party’s right-wing base demands heads roll for not supporting “America First candidates,” and the party’s funders and strategists who got exactly the candidates they wanted try to get their collective heads around why it didn’t work a third consecutive time.

The general consensus is that the worst-performing statewide Republican candidate on the ballot in Colorado this year, gubernatorial loser Hiedi Heidi Ganahl, dragged the entire Republican ticket downward by several crucial points that made the difference in downballot races. This is notable since the Republican U.S. Senate primary featured a number of candidates with some institutional support who unwisely chose the caucus path to the ballot, but Ganahl faced only perennial weirdo Greg Lopez in the June 28th primary after edging out upstart challenger Danielle Neuschwanger.

Although Ganahl tried to glom onto the false post-primary spin that “moderates” had prevailed, it was clear from the outset that Ganahl was making no attempt to actually change course from her message to GOP primary voters that she was “the MAGA candidate Colorado has been waiting for.”

While nearly all the Republicans’ statewide nominees rejected election deniers — secretary of state nominee Pam Anderson, who beat Peters in the primary, largely based her campaign on her contention that Colorado’s elections are safe and secure — this year’s top-ticket GOP candidate bookended her candidacy by casting doubt on the integrity of elections, and voters rewarded her with a landslide loss.

Outgoing University of Colorado Regent Heidi Ganahl spent more than a year winking and nodding at election conspiracy theories and closed out her bid by cozying up to some of the most prominent theorists…

It’s been 32 years since a GOP gubernatorial nominee has lost by as wide a margin in Colorado as Ganahl, who lost to Gov. Jared Polis by 19 percentage points in final, unofficial results.

The last Republican to perform as poorly as Ganahl in a governor’s race was John Andrews, the former state Senate president who lost his 1990 bid to deny Democrat Roy Romer a second term by 26 percentage points.

Chairman of the Board of the Common Sense Institute, Earl L. Wright.

The consequences of Ganahl’s failure to change course became evident in the polls through the summer and fall that showed Ganahl consistently not just losing by double digits, but substantially underperforming the other Republican at the top of the statewide ballot U.S. Senate candidate Joe O’Dea who went on to lose by several points less. Ganahl’s choice of election denier Danny Moore as her running mate underscored what was either a massive blind spot or a deliberate choice to embrace the election denial wing of the party–even as Ganahl’s campaign pretended unconvincingly that Moore was no longer an election denier.

Which brings us to the question: if Republican strategists knew they had to run to the center in order to compete, which was the strategy with O’Dea, how did Ganahl make it through the Colorado Republican Party’s nomination process with so much less competition than O’Dea? The answer is partly in Ganahl’s status as the last remaining statewide elected Republican in office. But as Erik Maulbetsch at the Colorado Times Recorder reported over the Thanksgiving holiday, there’s a more fundamental problem.

The rot goes right to the top:

The conservative Common Sense Institute (CSI) says its rigorous research provides Coloradans with facts and data-driven analysis to help make informed decisions. Yet three days after the Jan. 6 riot, CSI’s founder shared a debunked election fraud conspiracy video with insurrectionist attorney John Eastman and set a meeting to discuss it further… [Pols emphasis]

Upon receiving Wright’s email asking “Are you aware of any relevance in this?”, Eastman replied that the wild conspiracy theory had “huge relevance” and suggested they discuss it further…

The so-called Common Sense Institute, which grew out of former state Sen. Josh Penry’s political consulting business, is the Colorado GOP’s premiere establishment “stink tank” created to churn out conservative talking points on state-level issues. CSI was created in part due to a perception that the state’s traditional conservative institutions like the Independence Institute were too beholden to the radical right, in hope of keeping conservatives on messages that voters would be more receptive to like auto theft and fentanyl than election conspiracy theories and “furries” taking over public schools.

The problem appears to be that far too many Colorado Republicans, even among the party’s most influential, had the same “blind spot” as Heidi Ganahl. Ganahl dragged the entire Republican ticket downward and refused to change course even after the damage was obvious–and the best reason we can come up with as to why Republican powerbrokers didn’t see it coming is they are just as radicalized as Ganahl is.

This is a conversation the strategists don’t want to have with the party elite.

Holding up a mirror when they demand to know who’s responsible for another crushing loss.

‘Homosexuality’ Is a Tool of ‘Satan,’ Says CO Springs-Area Evangelist After Club Q Massacre

(All the tolerance — Promoted by Colorado Pols)

by Sean Price, Colorado Times Recorder

One day after a gunman killed five people and injured 18 more at an LGBTQ bar in Colorado Springs, Woodland Park TV evangelist and right-wing Christian pundit Andrew Wommack condemned homosexuality as a tool of Satan and complained that the media coverage of the shooting “went overboard” and was afraid to speak out against homosexuality.

Wommack, whose recent conference featured keynote speeches from U.S. Reps. Lauren Boebert (R-CO) and Doug Lamborn (R-CO), made the comments on the Nov. 21 edition of his Truth & Liberty Coalition broadcast, which you can watch here starting at 9 minutes 45 seconds.

Wommack’s program is broadcast weekly and is available on a number of cable channels.

“It seems like homosexuality… it seems like that’s the tip of the spear,” said Wommack on the podcast. “It’s the thing that Satan is ramming through. Nobody wants to condemn homosexuals. And, you know, just yesterday we had a shooting in Colorado Springs where there five people in a gay bar that were killed, and then I heard 18 people injured… Nobody likes to see violence like that, and I’m not endorsing it, but our Fox station that I was watching, they just went overboard talking about how we need to be in one with these people, and we certainly need to condemn the violence and stuff, but it seems like if you speak out against homosexuality, they’re linking you with somebody that’s going to go in and kill people and stuff. And so, I think this is one of the major threats of the devil.”

You can watch the clip below:

Wommack is the founder of Wommack Ministries, the Truth and Liberty Coalition, and the unaccredited Charis Bible College (originally called the Colorado Bible College), both located in Woodland Park, less than 20 miles from Colorado Springs. Andrew Wommack Ministries is projecting over $100 million in revenue this year.

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Bigoted Web Designer Literally Nobody’s Victim

Lorie Smith, who is just petrified that she might be asked to make a gay website someday.

AP reports via the Colorado Sun on a local case being heard by the U.S. Supreme Court today, a Highlands Ranch woman who believes her rights are being violated by Colorado law preventing her from posting publicly that she won’t make websites for LGBT couples:

The Supreme Court is hearing the case Monday of a Christian graphic artist who objects to designing wedding websites for gay couples, a dispute that’s the latest clash of religion and gay rights to land at the highest court.

The designer and her supporters say that ruling against her would force artists — from painters and photographers to writers and musicians — to do work that is against their faith. Her opponents, meanwhile, say that if she wins, a range of businesses will be able to discriminate, refusing to serve Black customers, Jewish or Muslim people, interracial or interfaith couples or immigrants, among others.

Most readers are familiar with the earlier case of cake baker Jack Phillips, who refused to produce a wedding cake for a gay couple leading to a discrimination complaint under Colorado law that was tossed at the U.S. Supreme Court in a narrow ruling that did not address the underlying question in the case of whether a cake bakery is public accommodation or artistry. As we discussed back in February and Westword’s Michael Roberts reported again today, web designer Lorie Smith’s case is quite a bit different:

The ADF characterizes it as a “pre-enforcement challenge” against the Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act (CADA), which “prohibits creative professionals from expressing any views about marriage that could indicate someone is ‘unwelcome, objectionable, unacceptable, or undesirable’ because of their sexual orientation or that suggests that the designer won’t create particular expressive works because of those beliefs.” The ADF claims that CADA prevents Smith from explaining online that she won’t “create websites and graphics celebrating same-sex weddings” because they “violate her conscience. Lorie’s faith teaches her that marriage is between one man and one woman.”

…The defendants in the case, including Colorado Civil Rights Commission head Aubrey Elenis and its other members, as well as Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser, were granted summary judgment in September 2019, largely because the case was hypothetical: Smith filed suit before posting any statement, and no state body had punished her. The unstated subtext: The ADF wanted to pick a fight, and the court wasn’t interested in participating.

Unlike the Phillips case in which a party was actually denied services, Lorie Smith’s complaint is not due to anyone actually requesting she make an LGBT wedding website. A look at Smith’s client portfolio page shows Smith has created a range of modest websites for small businesses and local Republican candidates like Reps. Kevin Wan Winkle and Kim Ransom. At the going rate for website development, there doesn’t appear to be enough work in this portfolio to suggest Smith is making a full-time living on web design.

And that’s when it hits you: Lorie Smith is serving as the vehicle for the Alliance for Defending Freedom’s “pre-enforcement challenge” to Colorado discrimination law at least in part for personal financial gain. Smith’s religious principles have not been violated, because no one ever asked her to do the thing she claims would violate them. This whole case boils down to Smith wanting to display a disclaimer on her website that she won’t make wedding sites for LGBT couples, presumably so she is never faced with the trauma of discriminating to an LGBT couple’s face.

The realization that Smith is willfully participating in a contrived legal assault on Colorado’s anti-discrimination law instead of responding to any actual dilemma confronting her small business makes it much more difficult to sympathize with her, and invites hard questions about Smith’s real motivations. ADF could have waited for an actual case to emerge, but instead they found an unscrupulous small business willing to play a hypothetical victim. The reward, or a least a very lucrative perk, is more free advertising than Lorie Smith’s website business was ever worth.

Will the 6-3 conservative-skewed Supreme Court care about the ulterior motives at work? Probably not.

But we can’t stand by and just watch this flim-flam unfold without pointing out the obvious.

Monday Open Thread

“Fight for the things that you care about, but do it in a way that will lead others to join you.”

–Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Is Kanye’s Colorado Cabal Sorry Yet?

Former Cory Gardner staffer Rachel George.

As the New York Times reports, the rapper formerly known as Kanye West has been re-suspended from Twitter today after violating the site’s terms of service so egregiously that controversially laissez-faire new owner Elon Musk was obliged to step in:

Elon Musk, Twitter’s chief executive, said late Thursday that Kanye West would be suspended from Twitter after the rapper and fashion designer tweeted an image of a swastika inside the Star of David. Mr. Musk said the post violated the social media outlet’s rule against the incitement of violence.

The tweet was deleted shortly before Mr. West’s account became no longer accessible. His page was soon replaced with a label: “Account suspended.”

So continued the controversy stirred by Mr. West — who goes by Ye — and his string of antisemitic remarks on social media. Instagram blocked him from posting after he suggested on the platform that Sean Combs, the rapper known as Diddy, was being controlled by Jewish people. Ye has also lashed out against Jewish people via Twitter.

The indefinite Twitter suspension happened on the same day that Ye had appeared on a podcast hosted by the Infowars conspiracy broadcaster Alex Jones, during which he told Mr. Jones, “I like Hitler.”

Kanye West, Donald Trump.

Kanye West’s extremely public slide toward inevitable and very much called-for cancellation accelerated in October after he appeared at a Paris fashion show wearing a shirt emblazoned with the words “WHITE LIVES MATTER,” and then threatened to go “DeathCon 3” on “Jewish people.” Kanye reacted poorly to deserved criticism of these statements and the loss of lucrative business deals that accompanied public criticism, spiraling further into disgrace until West proceeded to kneecap his alleged friend former President Donald Trump by inviting his Nazi incel friend Nick Fuentes to Mar-a-Lago. Trump dining with the openly white supremacist anti-Semitic Fuentes has been very widely condemned, including by some longtime political allies like local developer and pro-Trump GOP funder Larry Mizel through the Simon Wiesenthal Center–an organization that bent over backwards to excuse Trump’s misdeeds while in office.

If there’s anyone in Colorado politics who should be squirming today while Kanye West embarrasses everyone who has ever been associated with him, it’s the Republican operatives who helped qualify West for the presidential ballot in Colorado in 2020. Whatever Kanye imagined he was doing, the purpose behind GOP usual suspects signing up to support West for President was peeling away some number of votes from Joe Biden–perhaps not many, but perhaps enough to be worth the effort. Colorado Public Radio’s Bente Birkeland named all the names in August of that year:

The possible electors listed on West’s paperwork include Seth Jacobson, Kittrick MacLean, Shelley Kon, Joseph Peters, Stanley Pence and Matthey Zielinski, all from Denver. The final three are from surrounding suburbs including Adam Johnson of Centennial, Emily Daniels of Golden and Mark Polk of Brighton. [Pols emphasis]

Vice News reported that Rachel George, a Republican political strategist who formerly worked for Republican Sen. Cory Gardner when he was a representative in the House, had reached out to her contacts to try and help West get on the ballot in a last-minute bid.

It was painfully obvious from the beginning that West’s campaign was nothing more than a diversion to peel away low-information votes from Biden, but of course none of Republican participants in this plot could say so at the time. Instead, Birkeland quoted some of them the next day preposterously insisting they were supporting Kanye because of the “issues.”

“The reason I signed was because I think that both major parties have let a lot of Coloradans down,” said elector Seth Jacobson. He’s registered as unaffiliated but worked for former Republican Senate candidate Darryl Glenn and now works for the conservative social media site, CaucusRoom.

Jacobson said he had already decided he wasn’t going to vote for President Trump or Joe Biden. “Kanye has all the requirements to be on the ballot and I did a fair amount of research before I agreed to do this. He’s talking about issues that no else is talking about. I’m very serious about voting for him.” [Pols emphasis]

Organized by longtime local Republican staffer Rachel George, Kanye West’s Colorado electors included one of the principals behind the much-balleyhooed CaucusRoom conservative organizing platform, Seth Jacobsen, as well as the spouse of another CaucusRoom employee and 9NEWS Republican commentator Kelly Maher, Mark Polk. After last June’s Republican primaries, Maher complained bitterly about so-called “Democratic primary meddling” to boost fringe Republicans even though it could be argued Democrats got the idea from the Kanye West for President campaign (they didn’t, of course, but they may as well have).

Today, Kanye is a disgrace to everyone around him, including Colorado Republicans who helped him to run for President.

It’s nothing we’d want on our résumé.

Get More Smarter on Friday (Dec. 2)

The United States Men’s soccer team faces Netherlands on Saturday in the World Cup Round of 16, but you’ll have to wake up early to watch the game (8:00 am MST). Now, let’s Get More Smarter. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of an audio learner, check out The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter.

 

FIRST UP…

 

Fox 31 News is heavily promoting an interview with Rep. Lauren Boebert that will run on its Sunday political show. During the interview, Boebert doubles-down on her vile comments about the LGBTQ community and then makes a completely absurd statement about Colorado’s “Red Flag” laws that proves — once again — that Boebert has no grasp whatsoever of any policy issues:

The suspect in the Club Q shooting did have a past run-in with law enforcement in Colorado Springs. The suspect’s mother called police after she was threatened with a homemade bomb in 2021. Many, including Boebert, questioned why Colorado’s red flag law wasn’t used.

Derp

“Why did this (person) have a firearm if we have red flag laws in the state of Colorado?” Boebert said. “I’m not in favor of red flag laws. It’s just pointing out the hypocrisy of using this against law-abiding citizens, having this law on the books, which is completely unconstitutional. But then where it could have potentially matter, it wasn’t used.” [Pols emphasis]

Why wasn’t the “Red Flag” law used in Colorado Springs? This isn’t a mystery. It wasn’t used because Republican officials in El Paso County, including District Attorney Michael Allen and Sheriff Bill Elder, openly admit that they refuse to abide by the law.

 

Meanwhile, elected officials in Colorado who actually DO understand what is happening in our state continue to discuss potential new gun safety measures. From The Colorado Sun:

A host of changes to Colorado’s gun laws, from a ban on so-called assault weapons to tweaks to the existing red flag law, are already being considered by Democrats at the state Capitol in response to the shooting last month at an LGBTQ nightclub in Colorado Springs.

“Pretty much everything is on the table,” said Senate President Steve Fenberg, a Boulder Democrat. “The question now is: What seems like a priority?”

Democrats will return to the Colorado Capitol in early January with expanded majorities in both the House and Senate and facing pressure to act after the state’s latest mass shooting. Five people were killed and more than a dozen others wounded in a Nov. 19 attack on Club Q allegedly carried out by a 22-year-old shooter armed with a semi-automatic, AR-15-style rifle.

Gun policy could be the first big test of Democrats’ expanded majorities at the Capitol next year. Memories of the 2013 recalls of Democratic lawmakers over tougher gun regulations adopted in the wake of the Aurora theater shooting certainly remain, but Colorado is a different state politically than it was a decade ago, and the Democratic majorities in the House and Senate are almost guaranteed until January 2027. [Pols emphasis]

 

The U.S. economy just won’t die, despite what Republicans told you for the last 10 months. From The New York Times:

America’s jobs engine kept churning in November, the Labor Department reported Friday, a show of continued demand for workers despite the Federal Reserve’s push to curb inflation by tamping down hiring.

Employers created 263,000 jobs, even as a wave of layoffs in the tech industry made headlines. That was only a slight drop from the revised figure of 284,000 for October.

The unemployment rate was steady at 3.7 percent, while wages have risen 5.1 percent over the year, more than expected.

The labor market has been surprisingly resilient in the face of successive interest rate increases by the Fed, adding an average of 323,000 jobs for the last six months.

Some economists are still fretting about particular aspects of the labor market, but finding things to be nervous about is sort of a requirement for an economist.

 

Remember when Weld County rancher/oil and gas development land owner Steve Wells made headlines for promising to spend $11 million of his own money to defeat Democratic Gov. Jared Polis?

The Dream Team: Steve Wells and Heidi Ganahl

That was all nonsense.

As The Colorado Sun reports:

Steve Wells, the deep-pocketed Weld County rancher and oil and gas booster who made waves over the summer when he dedicated $11 million toward a longshot effort to unseat Democratic Gov. Jared Polis, ended up spending only about 30% of the money.

Wells has refunded himself about $7 million from the super PAC, Deep Colorado Wells, he formed to defeat Polis and support Republican candidates, leaving about $850,000 in the committee’s coffers for future political spending. [Pols emphasis]

Wells said he always intended to spend the full $11 million but that he stopped at $3.3 million about a month before Election Day after he realized other GOP donors weren’t going to open their wallets in Colorado and as he saw how much money Polis, a wealthy self-funding candidate, was dedicating to his reelection bid.

Sure thing, Steve. We all totally believe you.

 

Click below to keep learning things…

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Joe Neguse Pulls Off an 80-Year First

Rep. Joe Neguse (D-Boulderish)

As Ernest Luning reports for the publication formerly known as the Colorado Statesman:

U.S. Rep. Joe Neguse won election to lead the House Democrats’ messaging arm, putting the Lafayette Democrat in the No. 5 elected spot on his party’s leadership team in the chamber.

Neguse was elected without opposition as chairman of the House Democratic Policy and Communications Committee, a newly created position that will make the 38-year-old the most senior member of the chamber’s leadership from the Colorado delegation in more than eight decades. [Pols emphasis]

Luning talked more with Neguse about his new title:

Neguse told Colorado Politics that he intends to pursue an aggressive legislative agenda in the upcoming Congress.

“It’s one of the many reasons why I decided to run again to serve in House leadership and to serve in this particular capacity — to be in the room as we make decisions that ultimately will impact every American, including the nearly 6 million Coloradans that live in our great state and the many others in our region,” Neguse said.

“Fighting for the American West and fighting for our state is always and will always be my North Star, and that’s something that I take very seriously, I’m hopeful that we’ll be able to continue to bring that kind of approach through this new role.”

Neguse is the highest-ranking Member of Congress from Colorado since Edward Taylor, who served as Chairman of the Appropriations Committee and Democratic Caucus Chair.

Of Whores and Asswipes: The Colorado GOP Fractures Further

The Colorado Republican Party was already in the midst of a massive civil war even before the 2022 election inflicted unthinkable losses on the GOP. What has happened since has taken this internal conflict to an entirely new level. It’s like Infinity War, but in this case there are no heroes — only villains.

In case you missed it, Democrats won every statewide race last month by wide margins and added to supermajorities in the state legislature, where 69 of 100 total elected representatives now carry a ‘D’ next to their name. Democrat Adam Frisch even came within a few hundred votes of defeating Rep. Lauren Boebert in CO-03, a district that Donald Trump carried by 9 points in 2020. The Bluenami that swept through Colorado has resulted in some very grim assessments from longtime Republican fixtures. Soon-to-be former State Rep. Colin Larson of Jefferson County — who was in line to become House Minority Leader before he lost his own re-election bid to Democrat Tammy Storycalled the 2022 election an “extinction-level event” for the Republican Party in Colorado.

So, naturally, right-wing Republicans have decided that the only way forward is to lurch even further to the right. A group of very loud and very angry Republicans rallied on Wednesday outside a Boot Barn store in Greenwood Village to voice scream their frustrations with the Colorado Republican Party and embattled Chairperson Kristi Burton Brown (KBB).

Anil Mathai, ranting outside the Boot Barn on Wednesday.

The “whores” and “asswipes” comments came from Anil Mathai, a former Adams County GOP chairperson, who blamed unnamed political consultants for taking their money and leaving Republicans with no victories to celebrate.

“We have a Republican Party that is full of whores. They listened to the consultants, right? They keep telling you about messaging, right? They are liars — they have done something different. They have not held to the Republican platform, which is conservative. They’ve not held to the U.S. Constitution. And then you wonder why these asswipes can’t win a race.” [Pols emphasis]

This attack on Republican consultants is not without merit, of course, and activists are backing up their barking with official complaints. A Republican named Marcie Little filed a campaign finance complaint even before Election Day accusing a bunch of establishment Republicans of a multitude of misdeeds. The complaint specifically accuses Larson, Restore Colorado Leadership Fund (527), Restore Colorado Leadership Fund IEC, Frank McNulty, Square State Strategy Group, LLC, Daniel Cole, Cole Communications, and Victors Canvassing of various campaign finance violations [Marcie Little Complaint (PDF)].

But let’s get back to the Boot Barn, where Ernest Luning has more for the publication formerly known as the Colorado Statesman:

“Our Republican Party leadership has failed us,” said Aaron Wood, an organizer of a press conference held across the street from state GOP headquarters in Greenwood Village. [Pols emphasis]

Wood, founder of the conservative Freedom Fathers group, and a dozen others took turns speaking from the bed of a pickup truck in the parking lot of a Western-wear retailer as roughly 100 supporters braved sub-freezing temperatures to hear their pleas to restore the state’s Republican Party to its conservative foundations.

Speaker after speaker at the press conference blasted state GOP chair Kristi Burton Brown, whose two-year term running the state party ends in March.

Through a spokesman, Burton Brown declined to comment. Earlier on Wednesday, she said she plans to announce by the end of December whether she’s seeking a second term as state chair.

Tina Peters is…inevitable.

[Burton Brown was also busy on Wednesday issuing a legally-dubious demand for Frisch to “withdraw” as a candidate from CO-03 in order to prevent a MANDATORY RECOUNT as prescribed by Colorado statute. Frisch has already conceded to Boebert, but rather than staying quiet and enjoying one of the GOP’s rare victories, KBB felt compelled to vomit out a bunch of nonsense.]

In short, right-wing Republicans in Colorado have convinced themselves that the best way to win back voters in our state is to nominate candidates who are MORE extreme than the lot that got pummeled in November. This is sort of like trying to put out a fire by covering it with matches, but it’s also difficult to completely dismiss the idea considering just how poorly Republicans performed in 2022.

The first step for the right-wing base is finding a new leader. While KBB has apparently not yet decided whether she will seek re-election as State Party Chair in 2023 — and we have no idea how she could possibly make an argument for another term — our “Infinity War” theme continues with news that Mesa County Clerk and Recorder Tina Peters is interested in the job because she believes that Colorado is actually a “red state” (recent election results from 2022, 2020, 2018, and 2016 notwithstanding).

“We are not a blue state. We’re not even a purple state. We are a red state.”

     — Political Supervillain Tina Peters

 

As Luning reports:

A potential candidate for the party position blamed Burton Brown for Republican losses in the November election.

“Our country’s being taken away from us,” said Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters, who provided the pickup truck the speakers used as a podium. “It starts with the treachery of the GOP in our state. You know, there’s these speakers that are going to talk about the infractions of Kristi Burton Brown, the inactivity of Kristi Burton Brown, to stand up and inform the chairs in every county on how to come against the election fraud.” …

Peters told Colorado Politics after she addressed the crowd that she’s open to running for state party chair.

“If the people ask me to, and if it’s the right thing, then I will do it,” she said. “But it has to come from the people.” [Pols emphasis]

Outgoing State Rep. Dave Williams — who lost a 2022 Primary Election in CO-05 to incumbent Doug Lamborn — is also considering a bid for State Party Chair. Former congressional candidate Erik Aadland is thinking about it as well, since he knows so much about how to win an election and all. But if Peters runs, she’s the odds-on favorite to win; the people who gave her topline on the SOS Primary ballot following last Spring’s Republican State Assembly are the same group of people who are going to show up to cast a vote for Party Chair.

 

 

“Peace Out!”

Peters has probably already decided to run for Chair; what she told Luning is basically the same thing she said before announcing her bid for Secretary of State in February. But she’s also going to be busy next year when her election tampering case goes to trial; coincidentally on Wednesday, news came out that a second former Peters employee named Sandra Brown has made a deal with prosecutors to testify against her old boss. It seems ridiculous that Peters might be running the Colorado Republican Party from a prison cell in 2024…but again, can things really get worse than they were in 2022?

If you’re waiting for some adults to get involved and prevent right-wing activists from blowing up what was already a box full of ashes, you had better get comfortable. Republican State Sen. Bob Rankin of Carbondale announced today that he is resigning from the State Senate as of January 10th. Rankin and former Republican State Sen. Kevin Priola were possibly the last remaining rationale actors in the upper chamber of the state legislature. Rankin is bouncing out entirely, while Priola decided to change parties and become a Democrat. If Rankin and Priola don’t even want to be Republican lawmakers, what sane person would want to be the State GOP chairperson for the next two years?

Colorado Republicans might have been able to prevent this timeline from becoming reality if they had clearly and forcibly rejected Trump and MAGA-ism after the Jan. 6, 2021 insurrection. Instead, they allowed someone like KBB to ride her support for election deniers all the way to becoming Chair of the State Republican Party. If you’re shocked that right-wing Republicans are now saying that KBB “hates America,” then you really haven’t been paying attention.

Once you give the inmates the keys to the asylum, you can’t very well expect them to lock up.

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