This week: Cory Gardner is very sad, a celebration of saying nothing, one more recall to spell out, a fundraiser mystery (sort of) in Aspen, a clever chess move in a Denver primary race, and thinning out the Democratic Senate primary! With Ian Silverii on vacation, host Jason Bane trots Progress Now Colorado political director Alan Franklin out of his mom’s basement to fill in. A full transcript follows after the jump.
Tom Steyer: Hey, this is Tom Steyer. You’re listening to the Get More Smarter Podcast. And let me say this; we definitely beat listening to Rush Limbaugh.
Jason Bane: Welcome back, everybody, to the Get More Smarter Podcast, Episode 9, the one before 10. I’m Jason Bane. Ian Silverii is on vacation. I think he’s tutoring dyslexic penguins in Madagascar, or something like that.
Alan Franklin: Something like that.
Jason Bane: So we woke up Alan Franklin, the political director at ProgressNow, and brought him in here to talk with us.
Alan Franklin: They had a little trouble finding me in my mother’s basement, but they just had to wind my key, and here I am.
Jason Bane: And here he is. So, today on the Get More Smarter Podcast, Cory Gardner is very sad, a celebration of saying nothing, one more recall to spell out, a fundraiser mystery (sort of) in Aspen, and a clever chess move in a Denver primary race. So let’s get start off where we normally do with “Finding Cory.”
Ethan Black: [Finding Cory Jingle]
Jason Bane: Cory Gardner, along with the rest of the rest of Congress, is back in session. Gardner was on the Senate floor last week giving a speech that really betrayed, sort of, his concern about what has become his pet issue; moving the the headquarters of the Bureau of Land Management to Grand Junction.
Alan Franklin: Yeah, so Cory Gardner has had a very difficult time actually getting things accomplished in Washington during his time in the U.S. Senate. And one of the biggest things that he’s hung his hat on here, in recent months, has been the announced move of the Bureau of Land Management from Washington D.C. To Grand Junction. And the thing is is that this was originally advertised as a really tremendous development that was going to revitalize the Grand Junction economy, completely change decision making— it might actually do that at the BLM, just not a good thing— and would be really, really good for the BLM’s core mission of managing public lands. Since then, we’ve kind of found out that none of that’s true. It’s actually going to be really bad for the management of public lands. The employees at the BLM are staunchly against the move and where Cory Gardner thought he was going to have a really great political victory to celebrate, he’s on the defensive now.
Jason Bane: And it may or may not be good for Colorado. I suppose, you know, there are some jobs that are moving here and there will be some economic benefit.
Alan Franklin: Right.
Jason Bane: To what degree that really is significant or sizable, we’ll have to see. But Gardner, in this 12 minute speech last week on the Senate floor, he talks about how this is going to save Western communities money. These arguments are just so weird, they’re absurd.
Alan Franklin: Well, I mean, they are strange. Because, obviously, travel costs and other things like that really don’t factor that much into what it costs for people to work with the BLM. It was kind of, just kind of reaching for reasons to do this. And the reason for that seems to be is that nobody who’s actually, you know, an expert in public lands thinks this is a good idea.
Jason Bane: Here’s one of the arguments that he starts with. He says, quote, “Imagine if you live in western Colorado. You no longer have to fly thousands of miles to Washington D.C. Okay, but people in Washington DC are going to have to fly—
Alan Franklin: —Thousands of miles to Grand Junction.
Jason Bane: We’re not eliminating the need for travel. It’s really odd.
Alan Franklin: It doesn’t make any sense until you realize that what’s really going on here is it takes all of these top experts from the Bureau of Land Management and it removes them thousands of miles from the decision makers for public lands. And it’s going to make it harder for public lands managers to effectively communicate priorities to leadership in Washington. And that’s going to be bad for the management of public lands. It’s good if you don’t like public lands and would like to have, you know, less regulation and less protection of them. But that’s about the only people who are going to see a benefit from this.
Jason Bane: Alan, you sound like someone who just hates Colorado and all of the western United States.
Alan Franklin: [Laughter]
Jason Bane: Because that’s what a…that’s sort of Gardner’s closing argument. We’ve got the audio here, we’ll play this quote for you and just enjoy.
Cory Gardner: Well, the only reason to oppose this move is if you don’t care about the people of the western United States or you don’t think somehow the people of the western United States are smart enough to figure out how to run public lands or to manage public lands. Or maybe you don’t think that Colorado is up to the task of being the headquarters of the BLM because apparently you don’t trust the people in the West. There is no other reason to oppose this!
Alan Franklin: Well, all of those arguments are just silly. Of course people in the West still have a role in making public lands decisions in Washington.
Jason Bane: “If You don’t like my idea to move the BLM, you hate Colorado and you hate the United States.
Alan Franklin: Look, every time a single job is created in Colorado, I’m happy. That’s a great thing. But if we’re creating jobs in Colorado that actually wind up making it harder for us to protect our public lands in Colorado and other western states, no, I don’t want the Colorado job.
Ethan Black: Well, not to mention the fact that 97% of BLM employees are already in the West.
Alan Franklin: Well that’s right.
Ethan Black: The only, the 3% that would be moving with this are all, like, long time, top career bureaucrats. Not to mention the fact that a lot of them moving from their lives in Washington DC, where their kids go to school, where they have their entire social lives, probably not all of them are gonna want to make that move. So you lose that institutional knowledge.
Alan Franklin: And again, that’s the point. The point is not to result in a stronger BLM; it’s to have a weaker BLM that is less capable of protecting public lands in the western states. That makes Gardner’s argument in this, just 180 degrees duplicitous.
Jason Bane: And there was something we did on Colorado Pols at the end of the week. There were two headlines that we compared and contrast for Gardner. One of them—this was about his environmental record, but it speaks to sort of his duplicity on the BLM too. We call it “A Tale of Two Headlines.” This headline is from the Durango Herald, March 27th, 2019. “Senator Cory Gardner touts environmental record ahead of 2020 Election.” Now let, let’s jump ahead to Friday the 13th in Fox 31 news—I guess this actually was Associated Press. The headline, quote, “Senator Gardner cheers Trump Administration Decision to Drop Water Protection Rule.” When is that, five months? Six months?
Alan Franklin: Oh, I know. I think there’s no better way to illustrate the huge difference between what Cory Gardner tells people in Colorado and what he does in Washington DC. I mean it’s just contradiction laid bare. Every voter should see those two headlines.
Jason Bane: What’s really interesting about this, aside from the absurdity of Gardner, is that if you’re a Republican political consultant, this is the kind of thing that apparently impresses you. So Ryan Warner of Colorado Public Radio interviewed Republican political consultant, Ryan Lynch, asking him about recalls and if that was, sort of, backfiring on Republicans. But they also talked about Gardner. And listen to what Lynch says about Gardner’s double speaking.
Ryan Lynch: Cory Gardner is, in my mind, the most impressive campaigner I think I’ve ever encountered. I mean, the guy is…the guy is a work horse. You know, he’s likable, he’s a good speaker. He, more than anything stays on message always, right? It’s very hard to get him away from his message. Doesn’t take the bait from reporters often. And that’s invaluable, right? As a political strategist myself, I mean, you dream of candidates that are that message disciplined.
Ryan Warner: I mean, I’ll say that some reporters would say, not, “taking bait,” but “not answering questions.”
Ryan Lynch: Well, right. You can’t, you can’t get in trouble if you answer those questions, I suppose.
Ryan Warner: [Laughter] Ok.
Jason Bane: I love that Ryan Warner really jumped in there at the end and said, “But that’s also not answering questions.” And this is, as we’ve talked before on the show, Gardner’s idea of obfuscation, and avoiding the press, and avoiding the public. Apparently that’s a great thing if you’re a Republican political consultant. Not so good if you’re a voter or a reporter.
Alan Franklin: Well, I mean, this is the thing. If you’re a political consultant, and you’re looking at the way that Gardner interacts with the press, and how he gives them absolutely nothing that they can work with to use against him later, you think that that’s wonderful. If you’re a voter looking at that exact same interview, you’re absolutely infuriated by Gardner’s evasions and his inability to answer the most basic questions. And this is the divide between the political watercolor class and the voters who actually decide elections and their priorities. It kind of reminds me of a situation a couple of years ago. Republicans targeted Rachel Zenzinger with a bunch of ads that were complete lies, suggesting that she had voted to use taxpayer money on a trip to China. Ads got really racist, the whole thing turned into this ridiculous thing where you had every newspaper and TV station in the state screaming that these guys were lying. And then they won an award the next year for their effective communication strategy!
Jason Bane: After the election, right.
Alan Franklin: This is the “day equals night, black equals white,” divide between political consultants and voters that enrages voters.
Jason Bane: This didn’t work, but it was very clever. Here’s a trophy.
Alan Franklin: Yeah, I know. And I mean, this is the same thing. Gardner completely evades questions that are put to him by reporters and the public. And this is considered to be a skill, an asset, within the sphere of Republican political consultants. Go figure.
Jason Bane: We’ll see if voters agree a year from now. I think they probably will not.
Alan Franklin: Based on where the polls are right now. I would say that they do not agree.
Jason Bane: So, speaking of bad ideas one of the things Ryan Lynch and and Ryan Warner talked about were the failed recall efforts in Colorado. Since our last show, two other recalls failed. One against Democratic State Senator Pete Lee in Colorado Springs, one against Wife of the Show, Democratic Senator Brittany Pettersen in Lakewood. The committees—or, I should say that loosely— the handful of Facebook people organizing this decided that they didn’t have the ability to get this done. So they released a statement saying, “We are confident in the success of our future efforts to recall both of these elected officials.”
Alan Franklin: Whatever the hell that means.
Jason Bane: But we’re failing now. But we’ll do it good later…something like that. My favorite, though, part of this statement that came out from this group called “Recall et all,” was when they got into accusing these “anonymous, invisible, liberal activist people” that were harassing them. They said, “Our dedicated volunteers also went up against the onslaught of paid protesters whose only purpose was to harass and intimidate. We learned that the leftists will stop at nothing to impede our signature gathering efforts as they focused on 60 to 80 year old volunteers, mostly women.” So they didn’t get enough signatures because lefty protesters were attacking 60 to 80 year old volunteer women?
Alan Franklin: Well, I mean, look…
Jason Bane: Did I get that right?
Alan Franklin: Something like that. When you’re at the tail end of a dismal failure like this, you’re going to make excuses. And they’re going to be really stupid excuses. The bottom line is that they knew weeks ago that they were not getting the number of signatures that they were going to need, not even close. They knew that in the state legislative recalls against Senator Lee and Senator Pettersen, and they certainly knew it in the case of the recall effort against Governor Jared Polis, which failed a week before the latest two. The bottom line is that these were totally unserious efforts carried out by completely unqualified people who have no business being taken seriously in any election. First of all, it has to be said that the Republican Party, the leadership of the Colorado Republican Party, actively promoted the idea of running recalls against legislators and the governor, practically from the moment they won their election last November. And they have been promising this form of retaliation even before they really knew what the legislative agenda was going to be in 2019. Ken Buck won his party chairmanship by promising to “make the Democrats spell recall” or “teach us how to spell recall.”
Jason Bane: And to Buck’s credit, he did spell “recall” correctly in that speech. But where this is coming now, we’ve got one recall left against State Senator Leroy Garcia in Pueblo. From what we hear, that’s not going well either. They’ve got a few more weeks to officially turn in signatures.
Alan Franklin: That’s right.
Jason Bane: But where this story is ending up now, as Anna Staver wrote in the Denver Post over the weekend, that this is really coming back to the Republican Party. Did the Republican Party take ownership of this? Maybe not entirely, but they didn’t discourage it.
Alan Franklin: Right. I mean, the Republican Party does own this whether they want to or not. The Vice-Chair of the Colorado Republican Party, Kristi Burton Brown, filed the recall effort against Representative Tom Sullivan. That was the first one that failed. And it actually destroyed their momentum, whatever momentum and they had coming out of the legislative session, because they picked the wrong target. If Ken Buck did not want the Colorado Republican Party to be associated with the recalls, having the Vice-Chairman of the Colorado Republican Party file the recall was obviously the wrong decision. No, the whole thing is ridiculous. Now, obviously they campaigned on recalls, they promised the recalls. The recalls have all been a disastrous failure for the party on the heels of one of the worst electoral defeats since FDR was president. Where do these guys go from here? I don’t know.
Jason Bane: Well, here’s former Republican Party Chair, Dick Wadhams, in the Denver Post. He says, quote..
Alan Franklin: [Laughter] Dick Wadhams.
Jason Bane: “I Think the recall process has done what it was supposed to do. It provided an outlet for Republicans. Were they politically smart? I think it’s a resounding no.”
Alan Franklin: [Laughter] What does that even mean?
Jason Bane: I don’t know. I guess he’s saying it provided an outlet for…I don’t know.
Alan Franklin: It’s like, the crazies have gotta be crazy. But, oh man, that was a bad idea. Well thanks, Dick.
Ethan Black: Look, everyone just needs a place to hang out and feel accepted.
Alan Franklin: I guess so. You know, here’s the thing…
Jason Bane: It was good that we let people go in the room and smash up everything with a baseball bat cause they got the, you know, they got the energy out of them. Now they can calm down. So it was good because they did that.
Alan Franklin: It’s important to make the point and about the folks that were filing these recalls, okay? This is Republican leadership that we’re talking about here. But it’s also extremely marginal types like “Nancy Palozzi,” whose sole existence in Colorado politics is to say her name so Republicans will giggle at it. She has absolutely no relevance, no platform, no anything, and yet she just got weeks of earned media because she was the one who filed the recall against Senator Pettersen. Well, what do we have now? We have a recall that has failed, we have these people who should be absolutely in disgrace. But no! Instead, they’re counting the press hits.
Jason Bane: Well, I don’t think they’re good press hits, though. And…
Alan Franklin: Well these people don’t know the difference between good attention and bad attention, I’m afraid.
Jason Bane: That’s true. But for the Colorado Republican Party and in this story in the Denver Post, Ken Buck is declining to discuss the failed recalls.
Alan Franklin: [Laughter] Yeah, that doesn’t surprise me.
Jason Bane: That’s a bad look for them and that’s something they’re going to have to explain to donors and to volunteers, and to activists going into the 2020 election. As we discussed last week, if you want to convince people to be active and to come out and support the Republican candidates for 2020, it’s going to be difficult after you’ve just spent the last six months failing over and over and over at everything you’ve promised.
Alan Franklin: There’s a good argument that Ken Buck’s absentee leadership of the Colorado Republican Party is going to be seriously questioned here, especially if we have another election cycle in 2020 like Republicans just endured in 2018. As a matter of fact, I don’t know how much more they can lose. I mean, you guys, it could be as bad as Dan Maes in 2010, who as the gubernatorial nominee got exactly 11% of the vote and relegated Republicans to minor party status for the next election. But, I mean, that’s really where we’re at here. This is a low point for this party that I don’t even think they could have envisioned when they lost last November, which was just an amazing thing to think about.
Jason Bane: Does Ken Buck need to speak and explain this?
Alan Franklin: Oh, absolutely.
Jason Bane: To who? For who?
Alan Franklin: For the people who are sane in the party, who are disillusioned now, who want…
Jason Bane: Both of them?
Alan Franklin: Both of them, I know. [laughter] But no, I really do believe there are Republicans who recognize that the party is way off the tracks now. It’s a larger problem, obviously, with Trump nationally. But here in Colorado, we’ve got a serious problem with Republicans who do not reflect even the mainstream of Republican viewpoints anymore. And they are completely beholden to radicals like Rocky Mountain Gun Owners, Dudley Brown, the Neville clan has got a lock on the House Caucus—House Republican caucus. And yeah, as long as these guys are in power, this is a party unable to solve its problems.
Jason Bane: And could it be that this is the mainstream Republican party now? Is this approach, the recall type people, are they now the majority of the minority in the Republican party?
Alan Franklin: Here’s what I’ll say. Most Republicans do not have the courage to accept why they lost in 2018. They don’t understand or will not accept that their policy offerings are no longer something that a majority of voters support or want. This is a systemic thing. It’s happening in a longer term and they don’t have the ability to change, to meet that ideologically. They are stuck where they are. And the only thing that they have now is reaction and anger, and it wasn’t enough to even get any recalls on the ballot in 2019, Which shows you just how far their power has ebbed since 2013.
Mike Pence Ignores His Tab in Aspen
Jason Bane: Along those lines of this, sort of, Republican ineptitude, there’s an interesting story we’ve been following about Vice President Mike Pence. He visited Aspen in July, I think, for a brief fundraiser. There was some controversy about the fact that the local sheriff there, Joe De Salvo, the Pitkin county sheriff, wanted to be reimbursed for security costs.
Alan Franklin: Right.
Jason Bane: Which is sort of standard practice when you have a president…
Alan Franklin: Which is standard practice for Pitkin county. They get a lot of high-end donor events up there and DiSalvo really makes a big deal out of collecting for security costs.
Jason Bane: Only if—and he did make the exception—only if there’s no public event associated with it. And there was not in, in this case. Pence was there for a private fundraiser. He didn’t work the rope line, he didn’t do any sort of public event. So DiSalvo wanted to be reimbursed—
Alan Franklin: —For about $18,000.
Jason Bane: Right.
Alan Franklin: And here’s where it gets interesting. Ordinarily, and DiSalvo will tell you this if he ask him. I mean, when other campaigns come to town, they write a check, they insist on a receipt for the check, they want everything to be properly disclosed, and then it’s duly reported as a campaign expense. That’s not what happened up here with Mike Pence in July though, because DiSalvo had real trouble tracking down someone who would be willing to reimburse him. He went to the Pitkin County Republican Party and ultimately, through a process opaque to him, found two donors who were willing to write checks for a little over $9,000 each. But they wrote those checks on condition of anonymity, which you can’t have with a political donation.
Jason Bane: Which they can’t do, because obviously… 9News and the Aspen Times have done open records requests.
Alan Franklin: Right, you can’t do it in Colorado because in Colorado, with an open records law, you can find out in 10 minutes who the hell wrote the check. Which was done.
Jason Bane: And it turns out there were two folks; an investment guy from Arizona and one of the co-owners of the Arizona Diamondbacks baseball team.
Alan Franklin: Ken Kendrick, yeah.
Jason Bane: E. G. Ken Kendrick. When 9News reported on it last week, I thought maybe it was kind of…this would be it. But then, like they are want to do, the Pitkin County Republican Party chairwoman Anna Zane, came out to the Aspen Times and made it worse. She said, “I do not believe it is a political donation.” Well, great.
Alan Franklin: [Laughter] But it was!
Jason Bane: [Laughter] Doesn’t matter what you believe.
Alan Franklin: Right. And they actually said that they were two good samaritans who were hoping to make it right…by covering campaign expenses. I mean, this is craziness. Of course, it was a political donation. I can’t believe that somebody on the level of Ken Kendrick, who is a major Republican donor, didn’t realize that this was going to blow up in his face. Which, of course, it promptly did.
Jason Bane: I can’t believe that anybody with Pence’s officer or staff figured this out beforehand.
Alan Franklin: It just, it defies comprehension that people who would presumably be so literate about campaign finance law would even try something so stupid. So yeah, it looks bad. There’s egg on everybody’s faces up there. And it was all avoidable because originally, the organizers of the fundraiser just didn’t want to pay. And it’s like, guys, write the check, you know, the bad press that you get from this sort of things is just not worth it. So…
Jason Bane: Yeah. I mean, when you’re talking about, ultimately eighteen, twenty thousand dollars, versus all this—.
Alan Franklin: That’s pocket lint for Ken Kendrick.
Jason Bane: All the negative stories that this has generated. Yeah, I am sure if they could go and do it over again, Pence and his staff would probably not go this anonymous route.
Alan Franklin: Well, that’s right. It’s just an unforced error. You didn’t have to create this embarrassment for yourself and you did so.
CD1 Primary Race
Jason Bane: Well, let’s talk a little bit about Democrats. One of the races we’ve touched on but haven’t discussed a lot, one of the only big primaries going on in Colorado in the 2020 race—in the 2020 election cycle, I should say—is in Denver for Diana DeGette’s congressional seat. DeGette is the longest serving member of Colorado’s congressional delegation.
Alan Franklin: “The Dean of the delegation.”
Jason Bane: Yes, and she will tell you that. Earlier this year, in February, former house speaker Crisanta Duran decided that she was going to challenge to get in a primary. It has been going very well. And on Friday, DeGette picked up a really interesting endorsement.
Alan Franklin: This was a hard shot to Crisanta Duran, there’s no doubt about it. Longterm political observers here in Colorado will know that Crisanta Duran, prior to her service in the state legislature was one of the executives at the United Food and Commercial Workers Local #7 Union.
Jason Bane: Those are the grocery workers. King Soopers, Safeway.
Alan Franklin: Right, right. And there was a big leadership struggle there that resulted in the removal of Crisanta and some other members of her family from power.
Jason Bane: Her father was the president at the time, Ernie Duran. And he basically got booted out because of charges of nepotism and the fact that Duran, for example, wasthere was questioning whether Duran should’ve had the job she had right after law school. We’re not going to litigate that here. But the fact that DeGette got that endorsement publicly from UFCW is…is really a jab.
Alan Franklin: Yeah. What was it on the blog? A kidney shot? That’s about right. Yeah. I’ll tell you what,
Jason Bane: Yeah, it’s a kidney shot. It really is. And it’s…this isn’t gonna make a whole lot of difference to voters, obviously. The average voter. People pay attention to politics and, particularly in Denver, this opens this story up for DeGette to talk about. But the real thing that I want to get to is, does this mean—well, this doesn’t mean in and of itself—but is this going to be a race that we’re really going to be looking at six months from now as a competitive race? Or is this kinda done?
Alan Franklin: No, I don’t think so. I do think that this is a primary in which former speaker Duran is over-matched and there isn’t a sufficient impetus for progressives to depose Representative DeGette, who has actually worked really hard in the last couple of years—after, admittedly getting a reputation for being kind of aloof—to do outreach, to actually be visible on a lot of key issues, and I think that DeGette’s fine. And there are a lot of places where we could probably gainfully benefit from primaries, and this is probably not one of them.
Jason Bane: I’m surprised that Duran is not doing better than she is. Her first two fundraising quarters, in each quarter she failed the raise $100,000, which is a humongous red flag. I mean, not getting to six figures in a quarter for a congressional races is…should indicate concern for a lot of people. And she’s not…we don’t know how she’s done in her third quarter, but she’s not generating a lot of interest. What limited polling has been out there isn’t positive for her. Can she turn this around without just taking wild shots at DeGette? I don’t know.
Alan Franklin: There has to be a “there” there, is the bottom line. There has to be a reason to want to remove a strong incumbent from office, and Crisanta just hasn’t demonstrated that yet.
Jason Bane: Well, there’s an old saying in politics that you have to “make the case to fire before you make the case to hire.”
Alan Franklin: Yeah, that’s right.
Jason Bane: And that’s something, I think, that the Duran has failed to do on both ends. Her campaign is really a lot about, “It’s time for new young leadership in Denver,” and that’s sort of it.
Alan Franklin: And it doesn’t really say what that means. That hasn’t been translated into policies.
Jason Bane: So this…she’s got some time. DeGette hasn’t been raising a ton of money on her end, but she’s been picking up endorsements like UFCW, like the Congressional Hispanic Caucus. She been, sort of, consolidating support. If Duran can somehow raise more money before the end of this year, maybe she’ll be able to take some shots and really make this competitive in the spring. But as it looks now, I think DeGette is probably pretty safe.
Alan Franklin: Yeah.
2020 US Senate Race
Jason Bane: So the big race in 2020, obviously, is the U.S. Senate race, which had plenty of news last week. Two Democrats, John Walsh, former U.S. Attorney and Dan Baer, a former ambassador of some sort, dropped out of the campaign and endorsed former Governor John Hickenlooper. Today, Denver business woman, Denise Burgess, announced that she is going to enter the Democratic field. So what we’re at now, heading into…we’ve got about six months or so until the Democratic state convention where the battle for ballot access is really going to be fought. This is really, we’re looking at Andrew Romanoff, John Hickenlooper…is there going to be anybody else?
Alan Franklin: I think that if there’s going to be a third candidate who makes it through to the assembly, it’s going to probably be Alice Madden. Alice Madden has got more experience, particularly with running a statewide race, than a lot of the other candidates. Here’s what’s going on right now—
Jason Bane: Well would you be surprised if she stays in though?
Alan Franklin: I would not be surprised at all if she got out of the race before then, that’s right. There’s two different dynamics that are going on right now in the Democratic U.S. Senate primary. You’ve got a lot of better funded candidates who are taking a hard look at what the entry of John Hickenlooper into the race really means in determining that they don’t have a shot at winning the nomination. So they are getting out early and throwing their support behind Governor Hickenlooper. On the other side, you have a range of upstart candidates. And you have Andrew Romanoff, who’s done a pretty good job raising money, and is working very hard to consolidate a progressive base of support in the state. And then you have seven, eight—.
Jason Bane: He’s not really an upstart.
Alan Franklin: Well, no. Actually he’s been around for a long, long time [laughter]. And it’s worth discussing that he has been involved in Democratic primaries before, and he has also been the favored candidate of national Democrats in a race, and he’s lost them both.
Jason Bane: Right.
Alan Franklin: And then the final group is…you have a group of, six or seven candidates who unfortunately, I mean, they’re…
Jason Bane: They’re not gonna win.
Alan Franklin: They’re not gonna win. They’re not even, in most cases, raising enough money to compete in a state legislative race, okay?
Jason Bane: But if we’re prognosticating—and then I’ll get back to where we started here—who’s really in this at the end? Is it more than Romanoff and Hickenlooper? Or does Hickenlooper have it by himself by the time we get to the convention?
Alan Franklin: There’s a very good chance that this primary will not make it to the state convention at all.
Jason Bane: What’s your prognostication?
Ethan Black: [Wild guitar riffs, explosions, and monster truck voices] It’s time to prognosticate.
Alan Franklin: Best guess, if I was laying a sawbuck on it right now, would be that it’s going to be Hickenlooper versus Romanoff and Hickenlooper will dominate Romanoff in the primary. Romanoff may actually win the assembly and get top line. That wouldn’t surprise me what Romanoff is counting on—
Jason Bane: Which has happened before in Colorado races.
Alan Franklin: Right.
Ethan Black: Can you explain to people who may not know, what does that mean to get top line on the ballot at the State Convention?
Jason Bane: Sure. So there are a couple of ways to get your name on the primary ballot in Colorado for a race like U.S. Senate. One is you can get collect signatures and go the petition route. You need something like 10,000, some, signatures. A certain amount from every congressional district.
Alan Franklin: Well depends on the race, but yeah, it’s a certain number in each congressional district and then an aggregate total.
Jason Bane: Right. Or you can go through the state party process, where you go through the caucus process—.
Alan Franklin: Known as the traditional route.
Jason Bane: Traditional route, depending on how long you’ve been around, I guess. You go through that process, you go to the state assembly—which is in April, I think, in 2020—and then delegates from every county would vote to decide who to put on the primary ballot in June. So those are the two ways you can do it. Romanoff, I’m sure, is seeking only that process. I would imagine Hickenlooper could do both. A lot of candidates do both.
Alan Franklin: Look, if the polls are accurate, Hickenlooper’s name recognition and favorability amongst the Democratic base is going to dwarf every other candidate. We’re looking at 60% versus single digits here, guys. If that dynamic holds, it’s going to shake itself out well before the assembly. See, the thing about Andrew Romanoff is he has been running for a long time. And he’s adopted multiple different messages as part of his campaigns for higher office. And it’s very important, as progressives take a look at this whole field, that they understand not just what candidates are saying today, but what the totality of their record has been over all of these years. And a true examination of that creates a different picture between Romanoff and Hickenlooper. Certainly, Hickenlooper is the more moderate of the two. But Andrew Romanoff is no progressive. And both of them are going to have to reckon with a base, that in p ractice, is further to the left than either of them.
Jason Bane: So going forward, really the…if you look at the, the candidates who are left in the Democratic field, Alice Madden might make it there to the state assembly. I kinda think she’ll end up leaving the race before then.
Alan Franklin: I think that that’s right. You’ve got…Romanoff certainly has the chops to stay in. And if he’s able to attract support as a Hickenlooper alternative, then that’s going to be his lane. I don’t really see a lane for any of the other ones, with the exception, possibly, of Alice Madden because she’s actually a very qualified contender.
Jason Bane: But her lane, beyond, you know, she could get on the ballot, maybe, at the state assembly, but at this point she doesn’t have the resources and doesn’t look like she will have the resources.
Alan Franklin: Well, no. This is another candidate who, unfortunately, is not raising enough to be competitive in a U.S. Senate race. And that’s a hard demarcator. If you can’t be competitive, then you need to get out. I mean, or at least if you’re gonna continue running, you need to not do more harm than good to the front runner.
Jason Bane: Well I think that’s about all we’ve got. Our guest, Alan Franklin, anything else? The floor is yours, my friend.
Alan Franklin: This was a lot of fun. I’ve been listening to these podcasts. You and Ian are doing a really great job with these.
Jason Bane: Well, thank you. Alan will be back with us next week, as Ian is still out of town, and we will keep getting you More Smarter as much as we can. Have a good week.
Alan Franklin: Thanks very much.