A new report from local political reporter Sandra Fish in the Colorado Independent is raising red flags for anyone who remembers the bitter 2014 GOP gubernatorial race–in which Tom Tancredo accused the Republican Governor’s Association of interfering with the primary to support eventual loser Bob Beauprez.
It looks like a very similar situation may be playing out this year as Walker Stapleton tries to hold off his own primary challengers:
In the final days, the Republican gubernatorial contest has become a pitched battle between State Treasurer Walker Stapleton and businessman Victor Mitchell. While Mitchell bought plenty of ad time in the past week, Stapleton’s campaign is boosted by two super PACs: Coloradans for Fiscal Responsibility and Colorado Campaign for Jobs and Opportunity. Mitchell doesn’t have a super PAC supporting him.
The Campaign for Jobs and Opportunity reported to the Colorado Secretary of State that it is spending $200,000 on TV ads supporting Stapleton in the last week of the campaign. That’s the same group that came out with last-minute ads opposing former Congressman Tom Tancredo in the 2014 gubernatorial primary. After that election, at least one group accused the Republican Governor’s Association of helping fund those ads. (Tancredo is supporting Stapleton, and nominated him for governor at the April state GOP assembly.)
The sources of money for this year’s last-minute ad buy is unclear. State-level filings on July 2 and federal filings on July 15 may reveal more about the funding, but that will be long after voters cast their ballots on June 26. [Pols emphasis]
Tancredo might not care this time around, but self-funding Republican Victor Mitchell, who doesn’t possess anything like Tancredo’s baggage, would be incensed to have it confirmed that the RGA has spending against him in the Republican primary. Stapleton’s primacy in the GOP race has relied far more on an aura of inevitability as a result of being anointed by the state’s Republican powerbrokers than anything Stapleton has done to distinguish himself–in fact, that’s an understatement. Mitchell has been an aggressive challenger to Stapleton, but certainly not an ideological embarrassment to the party like Tancredo was.
If it does come out in mid-July that the RGA put its thumb on the scale for Stapleton, and Stapleton continues to run what could be the worst gubernatorial campaign since Dan Maes in 2010, don’t expect Mitchell to stay quiet. Stapleton might have the insider clout to make an RGA fix happen in the primary, but if he falls apart in the general election everyone who greased the skids for him will share the blame.