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April 10, 2012 07:05 PM UTC

Welcome, Anti-Labuda Literature Recipients!

  • by: Colorado Pols

It’s because there’s something so compelling about Corrie Houck‘s primary challenge to incumbent HD-1 Rep. Jeanne Labuda that we’ve devoted several pieces to profiling that race. Houck and Labuda, remember, were previously on relatively good terms – Houck was heavily involved in HD-1 leadership while Labuda sat in the HD-1 seat. That Houck is primarying Labuda despite, or perhaps because of, their relationship makes for good political fodder. It’s almost as if it were a campaign between spurned lovers.  Indeed, there’s something enthralling about any surprise primary – take Brian Carroll’s campaign against Andy Kerr in Jeffco or Marsha Looper’s challenge to Amy Stephens in El Paso County.

The Houck campaign, it seems, has turned that same political fodder into political grapeshot of sorts.

From The Colorado Statesman’s Ernest Luning:

Saying she “wanted to counter a few things said about me by my opponent,” Houck blasted Labuda’s charge that a primary fight was “opening the doors for a Republican to win this seat,” displaying a chart that showed Democrats making up 45 percent of the district’s voters, overwhelming the 25-percent Republican registration.

“It’s almost mathematically impossible for a Republican to take over this seat, and it was purposely designed to be a safe seat,” Houck said.

Further, Houck contended, if Democrats were worried about losing the seat, Labuda’s House colleagues and state party leadership would have rallied around the incumbent the way they did around state Rep. Andy Kerr, D-Lakewood, when a primary challenger emerged last fall.

“If I was disrupting the party out here, don’t you think someone would be intervening in this situation?” Houck asked.

A Democratic official told The Colorado Statesman that Kerr’s situation provoked an unusual response precisely because he represents a Jefferson County swing district – potentially tougher to keep in the Democratic column if a primary had drained resources – and cautioned against drawing any conclusion other than that the party was decidedly neutral in the HD 1 primary.

Labuda fired back by slamming a pair of blog posts reprinted from the political sites Colorado Pols and Denver Pols that were included in a packet of campaign material Houck handed to delegates. One of the anonymous posts claimed that the House Majority Project, an organization charged with electing Democrats, was forced to divert funds to defend Labuda’s seat against a Republican challenger in 2010, possibly costing the party control of the chamber by a single seat.

“I’m bothered by this,” Labuda began, “so I have to say something about this now. This comes from a blog, and you know what a blog is – people put on things they don’t have to answer for.” She said the blog got it wrong about the House Majority Project. “The House Majority Project does not communicate with citizens like you, unfortunately; they deal with me, because I’m a candidate. Anything that is said about the House Majority Project in here, the House Majority Project took care of that – it’s completely false.” [POLS EMPHASIS]

Labuda went on to dispute Houck’s claims that she’s too cozy with payday lenders, claiming she’s voted against the industry more often than she’s taken its side in legislative battles.

“I know we have to rein in predatory lenders, but I also know that people need options,” Labuda said. She said she has neighbors who borrow from the outfits when they have to.

“I know other professional people who have gone and taken short-term loans from payday lenders. They’re needed. I want to keep options open for people,” she said, adding that voting against a bill doesn’t necessarily mean a lawmaker disagrees with the broad intentions of the legislation.

“I don’t vote for all payday lender bills,” she said. “Unfortunately, I don’t vote for all education bills. Some bills just aren’t written well. You think of the ‘Right to Work’ law. What does the Right to Work law do? It doesn’t give us the right to work, it gives some employers the right to fire us. That’s the way some bills are written.”

She took at least a couple more swings at the blog posts distributed by her primary opponent.

“I’m still bothered by that stuff that’s in that blog that’s just full of falsehoods,” she said, making a face and discarding her prepared remarks to hammer the other blog entry, which called Labuda insensitive for comparing payday lending borrowers with alcoholics.

“The comparison to alcoholism,” an exasperated Labuda said, “I’m not trying to demean anybody. I’m just trying to point out that for every legal item out there, there’s some people that aren’t able to use it correctly. I’m trying very hard to keep payday lending around for people who need it.”

We stand by our original commentary on both the nature of Houck’s primary campaign as well as Labuda’s asinine remarks on payday lending outfits. We invite Rep. Labuda and Ms. Houck to air their comments on either issue.

That said, Houck patently cannot have it both ways. It is ridiculous for her to defend her primary challenge by noting that it is “mathematically impossible” for a Republican to win in HD-1 while at the same time passing out campaign literature that implies she’s the better candidate because Labuda cannot easily hold the seat. If Houck is so certain that any Democratic candidate will win, why can’t that candidate be the three-term incumbent?

As regards the payday lending issue, Labuda continues to err by even bringing up her ill-informed remarks at all.  We understand that she probably misspoke in comparing payday-lendees to alcoholics. After all, in the era of the ten second soundbite, no politician in their right mind would make that kind of statement intentionally. We hope.

Instead of vacillating, though, all Rep. Labuda needed to say last week was something to the effect of “I misspoke” before going on to say “I’m trying very hard to keep payday lending around for people who need it.”

In politics, perception is just as important as reality. That Labuda’s comments on payday lenders can even be perceived as offensive means that they probably are offensive. Rather than attempting to justify what, by any measure, were incredibly insensitive remarks, Labuda just needs to reframe the issue. To her credit, she attempted to do exactly that. But she needs to do it better. Referring to insidious “blog posts” isn’t nearly as effective as simply admitting her mistake. Let’s be clear: it was an enormous mistake for Labuda to even mention alcoholism in the same breath as payday-lending borrowers. We didn’t make that mistake – we just pointed it out.

We don’t have a horse in this race. Jeanne Labuda is correct: the Houck campaign should be the ones putting together a campaign instead of relying on our commentary. After all, it’s Houck’s name that will be on the ballot, not ours. But Labuda has opened herself up to criticism and the widespread belief that she’s an ineffective campaigner. That criticism will continue if she continues to make mistakes no incumbent representative should be making.

If you received a copy of the Houck campaign literature featuring our blog posts, we’d love to see it. Just e-mail us:


4 thoughts on “Welcome, Anti-Labuda Literature Recipients!

  1. Gordon Blankenship has been the Chair of HD1 for as long as I can remember and that goes back well before Jeanne was the Rep.

    Houck may have been a subdistrict captain at some point, I don’t know. They change often enough I don’t try to remember them all. But that is different than being Chair who oversees the nomination of candidates and vacancy committees.

  2. Redistricting is what changed the balance in HD1.  We picked up a significant number of dem households in the process.  You are right; there is the potential that Labuda might have an easier time winning in HD1 now.  The question in my mind is what effect that might have on other races.  There is no excitement around Labuda.  She will not drive people to the polls.  That could hurt everyone from Obama on down the ticket.  She does not work hard even when faced with losing.  Knowing this is a safer seat will do nothing to inspire her.

    More importantly, why should the people in SW Denver be stuck with an elected representative that shows so little compassion and concern for the people in her district?   Payday lending and alcoholics?  Saying we should just let cancer victims go instead of providing chemo they need to battle the disease.  Her refusal to support in-state tuition for undocumented students.  The list goes on and on.  We deserve better representation.

  3. I received a letter last week from about 30 HD-1 community leaders who are fed up with the Houck campaign’s attacks on Labuda’s character.  I asked about the attacks, and I join the City Councilmen, State Reps. and many others who are convinced the attacks are false and distorted.  As a Democrat, I feel violated that a candidate in my party would stoop to such tactics as Houck is doing.

    This blog is repeating those attacks with no apparent attempt to verify them. Why?  More checking — I understand that a paid Houck campaigner is linked to this blog.  Then there are the nasty, even cruel, follow-up comments against Rep. Labuda by the same handful of core Houck supporters.  This is destructive propaganda, not responsible journalism.

    Our community leaders are right — these orchestrated character attacks are no credit to our democracy.   The potential legacy of Houck’s mudslinging — tearing apart the Democratic Party in SW Denver.  

    It’s very likely Rep. Labuda will be re-elected, as she deserves to be.  Labuda has been a hard worker here for many years.  Houck’s contribution to HD-1 is limited to a handful of tasks over the last 2 years-appreciated, but no comparison to Rep. Labuda’s work ethic.   The growing local opinion on Houck is that she has no grasp of the issues important to Colorado or to House District 1.  

    If this blog were to cease being partisan, it could start by printing a copy of the letter from the 30 leaders.  Wouldn’t “30 community leaders speaking out” be more newsworthy than repeating fabricated “rumors” and character attacks?  

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