A story in the former Colorado Statesman from last Friday stirred up quite a bit of “concern trolling” in Republican circles about the ongoing viability of Attorney General Cynthia Coffman’s gubernatorial campaign. Some are calling Ernest Luning’s story a “Phil Anschutz hit piece,” but the point being made is in our view undeniable:
Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman plans to petition her way onto the Republican primary ballot for governor, but her modest fundraising, lack of a statewide organization and late start add up to long odds against her, say two GOP strategists who have managed successful signature-gathering efforts for statewide candidates in recent election cycles.
“It is expensive, it is difficult. I really do think the baseline number you have to spend is $250,000,” said veteran GOP consultant Dick Wadhams, who ran Republican Jack Graham’s U.S. Senate campaign two years ago…
At the beginning of January, according to the most recent campaign finance reports, Coffman had $85,000 on hand, including about $15,000 transferred from her attorney general campaign, while Stapleton had about $875,000 in the bank, Mitchell — who wrote his campaign a $3 million check at its outset — had something over $2 million, and Robinson had about $425,000.
Particularly after the 2016 petition-gathering forgery debacle that derailed Jon Keyser’s campaign for a U.S. Senate seat, anyone hoping to use the petition process to make the ballot for a statewide race in Colorado needs to have ample financial resources on hand. This is necessary both to fund the huge logistical effort required, but also to pay some of the small number of veteran top-shelf professionals who can ethically and legally–or at least legally–get the job done.
And as ex-GOP chairman Dick Wadhams correctly notes, the amount needed is multiples of what Cynthia Coffman has on hand.
For Coffman, the inability to mount a petition campaign on the scale needed to succeed could spell the end. Coffman is effectively barred from seeking a spot on the primary ballot via the assembly process after her role in the intra-party “palace coup” attempt on former GOP chairman Steve House, which has left far more bitter feelings within the party than Coffman would care to admit–not to mention her positions on certain social wedge issues that conservative voters can’t abide.
With all of this in mind, we’re not at all surprised by fresh speculation making the rounds today that Coffman may exit the GOP gubernatorial primary soon and run instead for a second term as attorney general. With Democratic AG candidate Phil Weiser looking strong in that party’s primary and an election year shaping up to be very good for Democrats, there is sound reasoning behind keeping the incumbent AG on the ballot for Republicans. And while it’s true that such a move would be most unfortunate for long-suffering wannabe contender George Brauchler, who himself stepped down from the governor’s race to run for Attorney General…
Eh, whatever. Nobody cares about George Brauchler.