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August 29, 2009 5:46 pm MST

"Rule 11" Power Play Ends Colorado GOP Senate Primary (Again)

  • by: Colorado Pols

Gubernatorial candidate Scott McInnis was once, though just briefly, a U.S. Senate candidate. And as we think he’s amply demonstrated in the last couple of months, McInnis is a pretty scrappy guy–he doesn’t take well to being pushed around.

Everybody remembers what happened to McInnis’ Senate candidacy, right?

I would have beat Udall, that wasn’t the issue,” McInnis said. “Frankly I have more difficulties with the right wing of my party then I do with taking on a Democrat. Udall was not the biggest threat I faced in the election. My biggest threat was getting through the primary…”

“My problem was that the head of the Senatorial Republican Committee [Pols emphasis] is Sen. John Ensign of Nevada. John was Bob Schaffer’s former roommate, and John made it very clear up front that their pick was Bob Schaffer,” McInnis said, conceding for the first time that his candidacy was torpedoed by “a very small group of people.”

“They said, ‘Look, we are going to aggressively work against you and for Bob. We want Bob as the candidate,’ ” McInnis said…

McInnis confirmed the details of the meeting as presented by NRSC sources. His only point of contention was that he believes the polling data was leaked in Colorado as a stealth maneuver to push him out of the race. [Pols emphasis] McInnis suggested this must have been done by Ensign or other NRSC officials…

“The facts [NRSC sources] gave were correct, other than, it was a push poll, and contrary to them telling me they had held it in-house, they released it,” McInnis said. “So immediately I started getting calls saying these numbers are terrible and you need to step aside.”

John Ensign isn’t the head of the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) anymore, but operationally speaking, this is how they roll–their job is to pave the pave the way for GOP Senate victories from a 30,000-foot strategic view, and as they showed with McInnis they’re not above thuggishly knocking inconvenient people out of the way. There’s even a formal, if secretive, process for doing this–the Denver Post explained back in 2007:

When Bob Schaffer decided to run for Colorado’s open U.S. Senate seat, he knew he probably wouldn’t have a Republican primary opponent. In fact, he told party leaders in May that he would not get into the race otherwise.

To help clear the field, the party invoked a formal process under what’s known as “Rule 11.” Dating back to at least the mid-1990s but little-known among many of the GOP rank and file, Rule 11 allows the national party to abandon its traditional neutral stance and back a candidate long before a primary vote.

Well, folks, don’t look now but the big story all week has been similar rumored NRSC maneuverings in support of someone who hasn’t even officially declared herself a candidate yet, former Lt. Gov. Jane “I’m Not Gale” Norton. ’06 gubernatorial candidate Bob Beauprez served up a useful indicator that something was going on in the backroom when he abruptly pulled out of consideration–just a few days after it was disclosed Norton was likely to announce.

But by far the clearest evidence that the NRSC has its thumb on the proverbial scale came yesterday afternoon, with word in the Post that the only viable declared GOP Senate candidate so far, Weld County DA Ken Buck, is also pulling out of the race. Buck emerged from the previous quarter of fundraising as the only Republican candidate who could raise actual money, absent rumored challengers he really was in control of his own destiny.

That is, until Jane Norton’s name dropped like a bomb, and tales of the NRSC’s ‘invisible hand’ became the hot item of the week.

The only variable remaining here, in our view, is the fact that a not-insignificant number of local conservative Republicans don’t seem to be very happy about what’s happening, and consider Norton a feckless “RINO.” Since it’s looking like Democrats are going to be a little preoccupied (apparently they don’t have a “Rule 11” of their own), it will be up to Colorado Republicans to decide if having their nominee chosen in a DC backroom is something they’re willing to tolerate.



15 thoughts on ““Rule 11” Power Play Ends Colorado GOP Senate Primary (Again)

    1. This is happening.  It’s all wrapped up with a little bow for Jane.  Her brother-in-law Charlie Black orchestrated this with the assistance of Bill Owens, Hank Brown, Bob Beauprez, the NRSC, and likely a hand-full of other Republican US Senators.  Shit – I wouldn’t be surprised if Dick Wadhams was instrumental, as well.  

      This is what we get for backing the same fools year after year.  It’s like a Confederacy of Dunces.    

      1. I do agree with you that the GOP has an abundance of stupid. They keep pre-picking these disasters.

        “Continuing to do the same thing and expect a different result is a form of insanity” – Does this mean the Colorado GOP leaders are insane?

  1. Scooter lacked the backbone to challenge Schaffer. Instead of being honest he makes up some bizarre story. It would have been easy for Scooter to run his own poll from a reputable firm. Look for Scooter to pull a similar stunt this year.  

  2. Scott McInnis forgot to mention something above. John Ensign was Bob Schaffer’s roommate at the C Street house, run by the secretive religious cult known as The Family, inside which Ensign and Schaffer are both members of its inner circle. Bob Schaffer wasn’t Rule 11’d because he was Ensign’s buddy, he was Rule 11’d because he was one of John Ensign’s “key men” in Family parlance.

    If the rumors are true that the field is being cleared for Norton, one wonders what motivates Family inner circle member John Cornyn–the new NRSC chair–in choosing Norton.

  3. is if Coloradans could pick their own senator. Bennet was handed to us essentially by the Obama administration because he was their education poster child, and now the Republicans appear to be trying to force Jane Norton down our throats. Just another illustration of what’s completely wrong with our election system.

  4. .

    But if someone out there is both a Republican AND a conservative, have I got good news for you:

    The GOP is no longer a conservative party.  They are now just a twin (evil twin ?) of the Democratic party, where the only thing that matters is power.  No more principles.

    But there is a conservative party in Colorado, and every party member can have a say in who serves as the party’s candidate.

    The American Constitution Party will hold its convention next July, probably in Arvada, and any party member can nominate and vote for who will represent the party.

    If the 2008 Convention is any indication, the Senate candidate will be chosen by fewer than 100 delegates/ members.  So if you are a true conservative, and you can get 51 friends to join the party and pay dues, YOU can be the nominee.  

    The Colorado GOP is obsolete and fading.  Get in on the ground floor of the revitalized conservative movement, the one that still upholds conservative and small “d” democratic ideals.

    p.s.: if you really want to be a candidate, get registered with the party at least 12 months before the election on 2 November 2010.  


    1. American Constitution Party, Barron.  Have fun with that.  Fewer votes for Rs leaves more for us. Just like when Ross Perot gave Colorado to Bill Clinton.  

      It actually  might be kind of nice, though, if pigs sprouted wings and you managed to win some important elections.  The ensuing disasters would quickly get people to smarten up. We’d never again have to worry about people here listening seriously to rightie wacky rightie crap.  At least not enough people to screw things up for the rest of us. It might usher in a new era of Not Crazy.

  5. “Not Gale” Norton’s Wikipedia profile is four sentences long.

    Jane E. Norton

    From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    Jane E. Norton was Lieutenant Governor of Colorado from 2003 to 2007 during the second term of Governor Bill Owens. She was the third woman and first Republican woman to serve as Lt. Governor of Colorado. Prior to Norton’s term as Lt. Governor, she served as the executive director of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment during Owen’s first term.

    Norton is reportedly considering a run for U.S. Senate against incumbent Senator Michael Bennet in 2010.[1]

    Is this really the candidate that is going to, as MAH claimed on a different diary:

    clean Bennet’s clock

    Or anyone else’s for that matter?  She has accomplished nothing of note in a political sense, or any other it seems.

    Glad the Republicans are clearing the way for such an impressive candidate. **snark**

    1.    She won “election” with a total of one vote (to borrow a line from Mike Litwin), that of Bill Owens.  

        And her only really qualification for that position was that she wasn’t Joe Rogers.

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