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January 19, 2020 09:57 AM UTC

A Few More Words On The Romanoff/NRSC Alliance

  • by: Colorado Pols

NRSC Political Director Betsy Ankney celebrates Andrew Romanoff.

Beware Republicans bearing gifts.

As the Colorado Springs Gazette’s Ernest Luning reports:

Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Andrew Romanoff wants the state to audit a federal fund tapped by primary rival John Hickenlooper’s administration to defend the former Colorado governor against an ethics complaint.

Republicans have been demanding for more than a month that the state scrutinize use of the 16-year-old federal account by Hickenlooper, the front-runner for the nomination to challenge GOP Sen. Cory Gardner…

“Ideas are not responsible for the people who come up with them,” he said. “There might be no doubt partisan motivation if the NRSC is pushing for this, but that doesn’t mean the audit is a bad idea. [Pols emphasis] I think we all have an interest in making government as transparent and accountable as possible.”

We’ve written a few times now in this space about an ethics complaint filed by Republicans, alleging violations of Colorado’s constitutional ban on state officials receiving gifts by former Gov. John Hickenlooper. The complaint itself is relatively small potatoes, consisting of a few instances of travel that appear to either be related to his official duties as governor or exempted as coming from “a personal friend and on a special occasion.” The next hearing in the case isn’t until March, giving Republicans valuable speculative mud-slinging opportunities before the process concludes.

The weak allegations contained in the ethics complaint against Hickenlooper itself, objectively much lesser alleged violations of the state’s ethics laws than the case involving former Secretary of State Scott Gessler spending office discretionary funds on partisan political events, has given rise to a secondary “meta” line of attack. Like Gessler and other state officials who have come under investigation by the state’s Independent Ethics Commission (IEC), the state pays for legal representation for the official subject to the complaint–in Gessler’s case, well over $500,000. Hickenlooper’s defense in the present case has cost less than a tenth of that amount.

But for reasons we’re still not completely clear on, the funds used to pay for Hickenlooper’s legal defense wrongly became identified as “post-9/11 relief funds” in several media stories. We assume this was a characterization planted by Republicans pitching the story for dramatic effect. In truth, the funds were originally disbursed to states by the federal government as part of the Jobs and Growth Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2003, otherwise known as the “Bush Tax Cuts.” Given that then-President George W. Bush ran for office on a platform of tax cuts, and signed into law his first round of promised tax cuts well before 9/11–not to mention that the 2001 recession was long over by 2003–this toxic characterization of money that was mostly spent by Republican Gov. Bill Owens before Owens left office in 2007 is not just wrong but absurd.

We are regularly accused of bias in the Democratic Senate primary, much like we were in 2010 when Romanoff lost the last U.S. Senate primary to now-Sen. Michael Bennet. In reality, it’s a simple question of capacity. The 2020 U.S. Senate race in Colorado is expected to be one of the most, if not the most competitive race in the nation. The last three Senate races in the state have been decided by unexpectedly narrow margins–Bennet winning narrowly over Ken Buck in 2010 and Darryl Glenn in 2016, and Cory Gardner defeating Democratic incumbent Sen. Mark Udall by less than two points in 2014. So far, Andrew Romanoff has only managed to raise about a quarter of the money Hickenlooper has in the time both have been in the race. Polling instantly showed that Hickenlooper would dominate the primary and go on to bury Gardner. The Democratic Senate primary before Hickenlooper’s entry was a pack of mostly (sorry, this is going to sting) unprepared, unserious candidates–which is why the door was open for his run.

With all of this in mind, we’re not actually going to conclude with the wholesale condemnation of Romanoff’s campaign we easily could. We want to put the question to our readers: is Romanoff joining forces with the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) to attack the prohibitive favorite Democratic candidate acceptable to you? If your ultimate goal as a Democratic voter is to ensure that Cory Gardner does not get another term, does validating the Republican campaign organization set to attack whoever wins this primary serve that purpose?

If this wasn’t such a lopsided competition, it might be different. But without a viable path to victory for Romanoff, his supporters need to think about what the end game of this campaign looks like. The NRSC wants only one thing: to save Cory Gardner’s skin. And they know one of the only chances they have to slow the oncoming train is in this Democratic primary.

With that, we’ll turn it over to you and your conscience.


37 thoughts on “A Few More Words On The Romanoff/NRSC Alliance

  1. We are regularly accused of bias in the Democratic Senate primary, much like we were in 2010 when Romanoff lost the last U.S. Senate primary to now-Sen. Michael Bennet.

    But without a viable path to victory for Romanoff, his supporters need to think about what the end game of this campaign looks like.

      1. I only recall the one poll that was posted about here and that, as far as I can remember, we never got a link to the crosstabs.  Was that a solid poll?  Was it commissioned by someone with a particular interest?  Did it push like Hubbard’s Griswold poll then try to hide the evidence of that?  I have no way of knowing.

        Have there been more since?  Happy to be shown them, so long as they’re complete with all the information gathered.

        Also, it’s 10 9 1/2 months to the election.

        1. I should say, I don't think it's easy for Romanoff to overcome the obvious advantages Hick has– name recognition, positive sentiment, support from the party, etc.  But to say that there's "no viable path" is both premature, and, yes, biased.

          Ocasio-Cortez came from what 40, 50 points down to beat Crowley by a dozen.  I don't know that Romanoff's on that trajectory.  I expect he may not be.  But to have called the election at this stage is, yes, biased.  That's fine.  You have your thoughts about this race.  Just be honest.

      2. Most recent public polling I can find is from last October:  Hick +11 over Romanoff.  Anything newer?

        The Romanoff campaign also injected another item into the race last November:

        Todd Shepherd – November 5, 2019 2:55 PM — Washington Free Beacon.

        Democratic Colorado Senate candidate Andrew Romanoff attacked fellow candidate John Hickenlooper for not doing enough to investigate widespread child sex abuse by Catholic clergy in the state.

        Romanoff said Hickenlooper as governor should have authorized a grand jury through executive order.

        1. If that were true, Andrew would have closed the gap by 40 points based on Pols’ other article.  I’d have to see the poll, though (not finding it online).

          1. Sorry … the October poll was Hick +11 over Gardner.

            PPP poll [in the field August 8-11, 2019] showed former Gov. John Hickenlooper (D-CO) leading the Democratic primary with support from 60% of Democratic voters followed by former state House Speaker Andrew Romanoff with 9%




          1. I believe, Dio, my moderate friends of Frackenlooper (FOFs, perhaps?) here are treading on thin ice when they start calling "DINO" on anyone.

            Are you guys actually trying to move Andrew to the right of Hickenlooper? For reals??

            1. Look at the actual record of Romo as speaker, Don Carlos, and you will find he was an outstanding moderate.  He 'd be a great senator.  But on their records, Hick is a more electable moderate.  

            2. Andrew currently is clearly to the left of Hickenlooper. And the fact that he has changed his positions is not a problem for me. I've said it before: if Andrew is the nominee, I would not problem supporting him.

              But I still believe that with Hick, this is an easier race to win.

              1. If he wins the nomination, I will certainly vote for him. He will, of course, continue to carry water for COGA, but his impact will continue to diminish. The market is going to crush the OilyBoyz and it is beyond Hicks' ability to save them.


                1. Hickenlooper also was involved in expanding Medicaid in Colorado and the Colorado Exchange.  He also signed some of the first gun regulations passed in the Colorado legislature at a time when the NRA was much stronger politically than it is now.  Please consider all the other areas of government services where Hick has done things that Con man Cory can only spew about.  Cory voted multiple times to kill the ACA.  Gardner is an abominable politician who deserves your derision.  Hick doesn't.

                  1. Derision? No, not as Coreless deserves. But Hick doesn’t get a free pass on his energy industry advocacy, either.

                    He nominated an ALEC-trained oil industry lobbyist, Glen Vaad, to Colorado’s Public Utility Commission, and confirmed him in spite of public pressure tonot to. 

                    Hick was vocal in opposing all attempts to rein in or regulate the energy industry, posting absurd and exaggerated COGA numbers about 250,000 direct oil and gas jobs, although he certainly knew better. 

                    He was dragged unwilling into every “clean energy” bill he ever signed, only after stronger versions were rejected. He has never advocated for public health over industry profits. I don’t have time this morning to post links to all of those.

                    Then there’s the propagandizing by drinking fracking water stunt. 

                    The DSCC, when it recruited Hick for the Senate, did so after receiving over 1.5 million in oil and gas money. The industry wanted their guy in the Senate, and they are likely to get him. 

                    So yeah, probably a reliable D vote on important matters, and like everyone else, I’ll vote blue no matter who.. But our planet is melting down. And Hick is on the side of those who want to extract every last drop of profit while it does.

                  2. If you would fixate solely on his ties to the Oily Boyz, you will not be distracted by any of the other things Hick did as Governor and you will be able to maintain an unhealthy level of contempt for him..

                    1. "Unhealthy level of contempt"? Who are you to decide what is an unhealthy level of contempt, Oh, Jilliot hater extraordinaire?

                      Have you attended the funeral of a neighbor whose doctors were convinced she was killed by exposure to emissions from a badly maintained gas well site? I have. Of course they couldn't prove it, so no one was held accountable.

                      Have you ever watched a marriage and a home disintigrate because of the stress put on a family because of relentless occupation of their formerly peaceful neighborhood? I can give you a long list of names.

                      Have you ever seen a creek burn?

                      No …my contempt for Gov. Frackenlooper is quite healthy indeed.


                    2. In the world of kwtree and Duke, I guess Kathleen Sgamma and Kathy Hall are "honorary oily boyz."

                    3. What you don’t hear from Hicks critics are praises for alternative candidates.  Romanoff is mentioned little if ever and the others only in passing.  How about passionately extolling the virtues of the other candidates?  ‘Sour grapes’ comes to mind.

  2. I have been made well aware of my status as not a real Dem.

    But I don't see how this helps any D.
    The only upcoming pol that matters is 7 weeks away.
    5 months.

    By then no one will remember or care that some thing happened
    I can barely follow the story now – it won't matter and doesn't help D now, in the months between or then.


  3. So if both Romanoff and the NRSC want an old legal-bills account audited, which seems like a basic good government transparency effort, how exactly does that constitute an “alliance”?

    Answer: It doesn’t. 

    If the mysterious poll that “ instantly showed Hickenlooper would dominate the primary and bury Gardner”  has never been found, was it a reliable poll? 
    No, it wasn’t. 

    Garin-Hart-Yang, now known as Hart Research Associates, has no polls listed for Hickenlooper, Gardner, or Colorado. However, Hart Research does list the DSCC as a client. DSCC recruited Hick into the Senate race, over Hick’s public objections that he didn’t want the job and wouldn’t be any good at it.

     The Garin Hart Yang poll that DP reporter Justin Wingerter breathlessly posted about (but didn’t link to) and ColoradoPols uncritically repeated its “findings”, has never been found. 

    The other polls that showed Hickenlooper winning the primary by huge spreads were always commissioned by 314 Action, the “science advocacy” group that prefers Hick’s 40 year old geology degree and frank fossil fuel advocacy to the actual working scientist running in the Colorado Senate primary. 

    Unprepared and unserious, Pols? You mean Alice Madden, who had 8 years in the Colorado legislature, four as Majority Leader, and another few years in State and Federal government.

    Or were you referring to Senator Angela Williams, also with 6 years in the CO House, as Majority Caucus Chair and small business advocate, and two years in the CO Senate. 

    Along with Andrew Romanoff’s 8 years in the Colorado House, four as Speaker, and continuing work in state government and non-profits. 

    These are serious and well-prepared candidates, even if the two female Senators got discouraged by the rampant sexism and dismissiveness of Pols and other pundits, and dropped out.  John Hickenlooper’s main qualification for the job, hype aside,  would seem to be statewide name recognition- once one has said “Hickenlooper” a few times, one can’t forget it- and the enduring gratitude of the energy industry, which has generously donated to his “Giddy Up” PAC. His terrible performance as a presidential candidate, and frank self appraisal that he would not be a good Senator as he dislikes collaborative work- makes him the least prepared and serious candidate in the race. 

    But the energy industry would have their guy in place to advocate for their interests. 

    1. "even if the two female Senators got discouraged by the rampant sexism and dismissiveness of Pols"

      Oh yes, play the victim card. When all other explanations fail to explain lack of support, cry sexism and dismissiveism. (I guess with his "Y" chromosome, Andrew can't play that card.)

      Successful candidates – male and female – figure out ways to overcome obstacles, not bellyache and look for excuses.

      Ironically, your complains about how unfair Pols has been treating Angela Williams, Stephanie Spaulding or Lorna Zorna were registered shortly before the NY Times declined to support any of the male candidates in the presidential race and went with two female candidates. (Perhaps ageism was at play in rejecting Bernie and Biden. Or homophobia was at work in rejecting Buttigieg.)

      Shouldn't you be more concerned about mending the schism that is opening between Bernie and Warren. Looking at the poll numbers in some early states, if one dropped out and threw his or her support to the other, she or he would be closing on 50%.

      1. I don’t recall Pols calling Bennet or Hickenlooper “unprepared and unserious” when they got < 1% in Presidential polls and Hick had to loan himself $75,000 to continue. 

        The candidates I highlighted: Madden, Williams, and Romanoff, collectively have more than 24 years in Senate leadership experience than does John Hickenlooper, who likes being a “doer” , but dislikes the whole collaborative compromising thing. 

        The first two 314 polls that Pols featured didn’t even mention the female candidates in the race. They were not even acknowledged. This went on for weeks and included virtually all major news coverage. Then the women were blamed for not receiving more publicity, money and support, thus perpetuating the sexist “unserious and unprepared” label. 

        But nice distraction attempt to the Presidential race. I am of course  excited that NYT has endorsed Elizabeth Warren.

        Rinse and Repeat, you really should stop trying to speak for me. You’re not good at it. 

        1. Thus sprake the feminist scold who backed bernie over hillary, polis over kennedy and Romanov over all the women she praised without supporting.

          I guess the reason RandR is bad at speaking for you is that he's a better feminist!


          1. Argument by insult?

            I know it is stylish to insult rather than address the points, but mostly by Republicans and five year old boys with orange skin.

            The other common argument by Republicans is to argue by claiming hypocrisy, as in "Greta uses a computer, therefore she is a hypocrite when she criticizes the fossil fuel industry."

    2. Did you mean the renewable energy industry?  Didn’t Hickenlooper preside over a time when Colorado fully embraced renewable technologies?  Perhaps you are just biased that he holds a science degree instead of a law degree?

      1. He was on the heels of Amendment 37 that passed in ’04, setting all of this in motion, followed by four years of Ritter where we passed over 58 bills related to the New Energy Economy platform Bill ran on.  Hick did sign SB-252, a bill that mandated a 20% renewable standard for rural electrics, thus igniting the laughable War on Rural Colorado campaign (Tri-State recently announced their intentions to retire their coal plants and be at 50% renewable energy). 

        1. 50% renewable?
          That is flatly impossible so you are either mistaken or lying.

          You know how I know?
          I have more than one annual report from Tristate that says even 20% is not possible. Even in the new math – 50% would be approx 249% bigger an 20%. So – it's not possible.

          HA! Run rings round you logically.


          And I was turned into a newt.
          I got better.

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