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February 15, 2019 10:35 am MST

The Knives Come Out For Clan Neville

  • by: Colorado Pols
Ex-Sen. Tim “Pa” Neville, Rep. Patrick “Boy” Neville.

The talk of the Colorado politics water-cooler set this Friday morning is a deep-dive from Marianne Goodland of the Phil Anschutz-owned Colorado Springs Gazette, covering in two detailed stories the intra-party division among legislative Republicans in the wake of the devastating 2018 wave election that gave Colorado Democrats almost unprecedented power at every level of state and county government.

The subject of today’s story is a dynastic Republican political family that we’ve written a great deal about in this space. Over the last few elections, the Neville family, led by now ex-Sen. Tim “Pa” Neville and his son House Minority Leader Patrick “Boy” Neville has acquired an outsize degree of influence in local Republican politics through both running family members and aggressive recruitment of loyal Republican candidates–leading in 2018 to management of the House GOP’s “independent expenditure” campaigns via the family’s political consultant business Rearden Strategic:

“It’s a family business and about controlling the power,” former Republican state Rep. B.J. Nikkel of Loveland, who served in the House from 2009 to 2013, told Colorado Politics.

Nikkel was referring to the control Neville, R-Castle Rock, and members of his family exercised over independent expenditures used to support Republicans running for the Legislature in 2018 or oppose their Democratic challengers — spending not coordinated with the candidates.

The Nevilles used that money “to keep their own little mountain of power,” Nikkel said, echoing comments made by other Republicans. [Pols emphasis]

Now, here’s the first thing to understand: there’s nothing out of the ordinary for the leadership in a given chamber to run the increasingly critical independent expenditure side of that party’s campaign. Before the Nevilles and Rearden Strategies did so for House Republicans in 2018, we had the example of GOP Senate President Bill Cadman’s Advantage Marketing–which very similarly to the Nevilles both developed the independent-side strategy for GOP Senate candidates and was widely seen as a vehicle for Cadman to cultivate his personal power base.

What’s the difference, you ask? On the surface it’s simple–Cadman won elections, while the Nevilles presided over one of the greatest humiliations for Colorado Republicans in the lifetime of anyone now living. But that’s not all: Cadman worked in concert with the state’s GOP elite and donor class, while the Nevilles sought to supplant that traditional Republican power structure with a much more radical model featuring the Neville family, hard-right movement ideologues, and Dudley Brown of Rocky Mountain Gun Owners calling the shots.

Undeniably, there were some examples of what can only be called amateur work product, like the slate of Jefferson County candidates advertised by Rearden that was so riddled with errors it was worse than putting up nothing at all. Goodland also reports that over $300,000 in campaign funds were left unspent in 2018, which is sure to aggrieve every Republican House candidate who lost last year. So, there’s that.

But beyond the second-guessing over details, this backbiting against the Nevilles represents to us another attempt by establishment Republicans to purge themselves of what they consider to be out-of-touch losers holding the party down. Readers may recall how two years ago, the same Anschutz-owned media outlet became deeply enmeshed in controversy over Bob Beauprez’s Pioneer Action group–who rather brazenly attempted to “frag” a number of Neville-backed Republican candidates in 2016. The Gazette aggressively attacked the Republican who filed complaints over Pioneer Action’s red-on-red attacks in 2016, only clamming up after the complaint against Beauprez’s group was upheld.

The shortest summary to all this is that there is a civil war going on behind the scenes for the soul of the Republican Party in Colorado. It is not a new struggle by any means, but last year’s historic defeat for Republicans has instilled figures on both sides of this fight with a sense of urgency. The factions at this point are well-defined: it’s a battle between the Republican establishment controlled by a few powerful wealthy donors like Phil Anschutz, versus an unruly GOP grassroots coalition that regards the wealthy donor class as part of the same problem along with the Democrats.

However this struggle resolves–and if it ever does–the political damage to the GOP will be significant.


38 thoughts on “The Knives Come Out For Clan Neville

  1. Republicans do have some problems, like doubling down on supporting Trump when it's clear that support of Trump was a big reason for the Colorado losses last year.

    There is also the continuing pandering to the far right wing religious zealots. As I recall, the "personhood" initiatives pushed by the zealots in 2008, 2010, 2014, lost by an average vote 69% against and 31% for. Colorado voters clearly don't want big government & big religion in their bedrooms. Will Republicans figure this out?

    I don't necessarily agree that it is a battle between a "few powerful wealthy donors" and the "unruly grassroots coalition." But it's not a good sign that the best thing that might happen, in the near future, for Rs is D overreach. Only time will tell if the local Ds learned their lesson in 2013. 

    1. The "lesson" that had them in total control of state government a few years later?

      The only reason to have power is to try to bring about the society you think serves best.  "Overreach" is a term for concern trolls and cowards.

      1. "Over reach is a term for concern trolls and cowards."  Not really, citizen. It can be a term for those unable to think strategically. Two D senators got recalled over the 2013 gun bills and a 3rd resigned rather than face a recall. Pointing that out doesn’t make one a “concern troll.” It merely reflects reality. 

        Yes, the Dems regained control of state government in 2018. That still left several sessions of the Legislature where Dems did not have control. A number of good bills died (referring to conservation bills here).

        I do like the term “concern troll.” I can use it in some of my postings on Yahoo!. Thanks for the suggestion.

        1. You can twist and turn and squirm all you like, you can't change what's happened into anything other than a complete shellacking, and the beginning of a perma-blue Colorado.   

          I hear Delta's nice. 

        2. What happened in the 2014 elections in those two senate districts?

          What happened to the laws that were passed for which the lawmakers were supposedly recalled?

          What overreach?

          1. "Overreach" is what conservatives call it when Democrats act decisively and follow the wishes of their constituents. 

            Sort of like how they whimper about "compromise" and "reaching across the aisle" as soon as they're in the minority.  

        3. "Two D senators got recalled over the 2013 gun bills"


          Two D Senators got recalled because of libertarian efforts to torpedo the special election, partly as a protest against mail-in balloting. By the time their court cases were over noone in the districts knew when, how or where to vote. They drove turnout down to just 20% and that was comprised mostly of their own.

          Refresh yourself:

          “Balloting problems can fully account for Sen. John Morse’s margin of defeat. Litigation from a third-party candidate, who in the end failed to garner the needed signatures to join the race, prevented the normal delivery of mail ballots in this election. The situation was further compounded by limited voting hours and locations set up by El Paso County Clerk Wayne Williams. Early voting locations in SD-11 opened days after those in Pueblo, and some as centers, such as liberal Manitou Springs, didn’t open until Monday.”

          1. Thanks, kickshot, for the reminder. You wrote about what happened in El Paso; I was very involved in the pushback against Giron's recall in Pueblo.

            The 2013 recall election was the venue for trying out every dirty trick in the book – delaying and obstructing mail-in ballots by running bogus write-in candidates, floating fake news, partisan voter registration drives, personal attacks and slurs, and outright voter intimidation at the polling places.

            At the same time, it's true that the "No Recall' campaign did try to talk around the gun issue, and, weirdly, focused on reproductive rights in order to "appeal to the female voter". So we'd get mailer after expensive mailer of sad looking pensive women decrying what Bernie Herpin would do to legal abortion, when in fact the issue was background checks and magazine limits for guns.

            So those consultants, and I know some of them, have that to answer for.

            And, as I and others have written before, the whole sorry mess was a proxy partisan slugfest about which party would ultimately control the Senate.

            If someone wants links for any of the above, I'll provide them.

            1. I too, did GOTV door knocking for Angela and for John (down from BoCo). It was an unusual effort … the talking points we were given changed from week to week, depending on the latest update from the court challenges. I agree that Angela should have taken the subject of the recall head-on and stood behind her votes instead of deflecting. It was a strange time. Evie also had my support. I picketed along Wadsworth Ave to support her when the other side made a habit of "rolling coal" when they drove past us. And I would do it all again in a heartbeat.

              Given the history and the aftermath of gun safety legislation in CO, there is a slight sense of trepidation about going there again with ERPO and what (I hope) will follow. The legislators involved would benefit from a review of the events of 2013 in their entirety; not just that 2 Ds lost their seats.

              That election was a hideous aberration and certainly not fair and open. Knowing the ways in which it was manipulated (as you mentioned) is more important to current efforts than the outcome of the recalls. The momentary gains that RMGO made need to be relegated to the minor events that they were. Who's not sorry to see two seats lost? But they were lost to two clowns who couldn't hold on to them.

              RMGO is not relishing another round of recall efforts:

              ERPO is a much more worthwhile and effective piece of gun safety legislation than much of what passed in 2013.

        4. You know, CHB, you'll get a lot less pushback if you focus on your own party and trying to heal what's wrong with the party of Trump.

          A little less advice to Dems on "overreach", "watch out for “complacence”, and "Beware of far lefty candidates", and maybe  a little more on what you're doing about the overreach, batshit crazy leadership, arrogance, and far right candidates in your own damn Republican Party would be received with less hostility.

            1. MJ: old saying, that may have originated with the pulp sci-fi writer, Robert E. Howard, in the 1930s. Few people know of him today, but they do know of his main character: Conan the Barbarian.

              "That which does not kill you makes you stronger."

              But thanks for your concern.

    2. Democrats could pass a non-binding resolution honoring Scottish heritage for Burns Night and conservatives would scream about "overreach". The term is like the vague warnings of doom in a prophesy. If it does not come true then the prophet just resets to saying the predicted doom is still coming.

      1. See if you can get a Dem to introduce such a resolution about Scottish Heritage in the current legislative session and we can see what happens. Resolutions don't fall under the 5 bill limit per legislator.

    3. Today's "overreach" is tomorrow's status quo.

      Remember how Medicare was going to bring in a socialist dictatorship? (Reagan, 1961)



      How covering pre-existing conditions and the other parts of the ACA were going to decimate private insurance coverage and create death panels?

  2. Look, everyone in the Republican party knows they need to expand their demographics and appeal to groups they’ve not always publicly served well (i.e., filthy rich, and heavily armed, million- and billionaires) . . .

    . . . Tim Neville & Sons probably still believe that Nate Marshall would have made a great populist Representative (. . . or, maybe even, a proud addition to the extended family)?? These tireless GOPer servants were out shaking the trees and bushes, diving into new talent pools, long before even Trump himself started actually attracting “good people”!

    ”Do what you can, with what you’ve got, where you’re at.”

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