Leading Colorado Republicans Back DeSantis, Who Championed Anti-Gay Law

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

After Trump was blamed for the Republicans’ midterm wipeout in Colorado, multiple leading Republicans gushed on public platforms about Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who championed Florida’s notorious ‘Don’t Say Gay’ law, which is seen by advocates as a clear attack on LGBTQ rights.

Ron DeSantis

Speaking on conservative radio the morning after this month’s election, state Sen. Paul Lundeen (R-Monument), who’s the new Republican leader of the state Senate, said the Republican brand is in “disarray,” and DeSantis represents “the emerging Republican brand.”

The ‘Don’t Say Gay’ law, which was condemned by multiple Florida businesses, including Disney, bans discussion of sexual orientation and gender identity in public K-3 classrooms. Before it was passed, LGBTQ advocates warned that it was vague enough to potentially apply to all public schools — which turned out to be the case. When the Florida law was rolled out in late June, multiple schools in the state reportedly warned some teachers to remove photos of their same-sex spouses from their desk and flag course material which referenced LGBTQ identities. The bill has since become a template for similar anti-LGBTQ legislation in other states.

On the radio, Lundeen dodged a question about Trump being responsible for Republican woes, and instead praised DeSantis for his overwhelming election victory.

“Ron DeSantis spoke to and promoted and was very specific about the issues that Republicans care about,” Lundeen told KHOW’s Ross Kaminsky Nov. 9. “They care about affordability of life. They care about freedom from government intrusion into their life. They care about being safer in their neighborhoods and their communities. And they care, quite frankly, about having greater authority over their child’s education. So that’s the brand that Ron DeSantis ran on and won four years ago on — and won in a much bigger fashion last night. And I think that is the emerging Republican brand. Going back to the question of brand, I would like to think that we’re going because that’s what we campaigned on, and it didn’t stick.”

Likewise, Republican pundit Dick Wadhams wrote in Colorado Politics Nov. 13 that if DeSantis runs in 2024, “Colorado might be in play.”

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At Least Five Killed In Colorado Springs Mass Shooting

UPDATE: Via the Colorado LGBTQ Legislative Caucus:

Statement from Majority Leader Daneya Esgar, co-founder of the Colorado LGBTQ Legislative Caucus, and Majority Caucus Co-chair, Brianna Titone, Chair of the Colorado LGBTQ Legislative Caucus:

“We are devastated. Club Q is a safe haven for LGBTQ Coloradans, and many of us have gone there over the years seeking solidarity and community. For that sense of safety to be shattered by this unspeakable act of violence impacts the entire LGBTQ community. On Trans Day of Remembrance, we have already been grieving the hate crimes that too often claim the lives of LGBTQ people simply because of who we are. From the acts of violence that target our community every day to the horrific shooting at the Pulse Nightclub, horrible tragedies like this have happened far too often, and they need to stop now. We must take urgent and meaningful action to reduce gun violence and prevent crimes that target and kill LGBTQ people.”

Gov. Jared Polis:

This is horrific, sickening, and devastating. My heart breaks for the family and friends of those lost, injured, and traumatized in this horrific shooting. I have spoken with Mayor Suthers and made it clear that every state resource is available to local law enforcement in Colorado Springs. We are eternally grateful for the brave individuals who blocked the gunman likely saving lives in the process and for the first responders who responded swiftly to this horrific shooting. Colorado stands with our LGTBQ community and everyone impacted by this tragedy as we mourn together.

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Club Q nightclub in Colorado Springs.

Waking up to terrible news out of Colorado Springs, a fatal mass shooting just before midnight last night at a popular LGBTQ+ club. KRDO:

Five people are dead and multiple others are injured after a shooting at a Colorado Springs gay nightclub…

Police hailed patrons in the club as heroes. Colorado Springs Police Chief Vasquez said at least two people inside confronted the shooter as he was making his way through the club and fought with him. They were able to stop the suspect from continuing to kill and harm others.

Chief Vasquez said we owe them a great debt of thanks.

At this time, police said it’s too early to determine a motive and cannot say whether or not this was a targeted attack against the LGBTQ community.

We’ll update with news and reactions as they come in. Terrible and all too familiar.

Winners and Losers of the 2022 Election (Part 2)

As we wrote on Thursday, we had been waiting to post our annual post-election “Winners and Losers” list until we actually knew all of the election winners and losers (we’re looking at you, Lauren Boebert).

Click here for Part 1 (The “Winners”) of our end-of-cycle analysis, or read on for Part 2 “The Losers.”

 

The 2022 “Extinction Level Event” for Republicans

 

The Losingest Losers of 2022

 

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Adam Frisch, Morally Victorious, Concedes For Today

CD-3 Democratic candidate Adam Frisch.

Yesterday’s final counting of cured and overseas ballots slashed freshman GOP Rep. Lauren Boebert’s already narrow lead over Democratic challenger Adam Frisch into the range necessary to trigger an automatic recount of the results–551 votes at the last count. Although this further delayed the final results in this race, it’s very unlikely that the recount will shift enough votes to change that result.

Recognizing this, Frisch, who nobody outside his team thought had a chance but ran a pitch-perfect centrist campaign well attuned to the district against Boebert’s high-visibility low-productivity record in office, conceded the race this morning to Boebert rather than further expend resources in a futile recount effort. Colorado Public Radio:

The closeness of the race took many in the political world by surprise, given Boebert’s national profile and the fact that Republicans hold a 9 point advantage in the district. It’s Colorado’s most expansive congressional seat, spanning western and southern Colorado and including cities such as Pueblo and Grand Junction.

Boebert’s narrow margin means the state is required to order an automatic recount.

However, no Colorado recount in recent memory has resulted in more than a few dozen votes being reassigned, and those are usual cases of poorly marked ballots where human judges have to try to interpret the voter’s intent (or, recently, because a county found ballots it failed to count the first time)…

“Colorado elections are safe, accurate, and secure,” said Frisch, adding it would be unethical for his campaign to continue accepting money from supporters. “Please save your money for your groceries, your rent, your children, and for other important causes in organizations.”

Although Boebert will get her cacophonous second term in the GOP’s teensy new U.S. House majority, the damage inflicted to her public image from this near defeat has transformed CD-3 from the sleepy GOP-leaning backwater into one of the top pickup targets for Democrats looking to reclaim the majority in two years. Frisch himself has already filed for a rematch, and after coming so close he’ll be a strong if not prohibitive contender for the nomination in 2024. Either way, Frisch has demonstrated Boebert can be defeated in this R+9 district, which was in fundamental doubt after Boebert’s easy defeat of her GOP primary challenger Don Coram.

No one believed it until Adam Frisch proved it. And for that, he’s a hero for Democrats even in defeat.

Watch: Senator Hickenlooper Breaks Down The Crypto Crisis

We don’t post every clip of social media content from Colorado politicos, but this brief and informative explanation of the ongoing crisis following the collapse of the FTX cryptocurrency exchange from Sen. John Hickenlooper is well worth fifty seconds of your time. Hickenlooper is calling for crypto exchanges to be regulated with the same scrutiny as banks, and if you’re one of the thousands of crypto investors who just lost their shirt in this largely unregulated uninsured market it’s tough to disagree.

So Much For Recalling Kevin Priola

State Sen. Kevin Priola (D-Henderson).

Readers will remember that Republicans led by Michael Fields of the conservative advocacy group Advance Colorado immediately announced a recall campaign against state Sen. Kevin Priola following Priola’s defection in August to the Democratic Party, obtaining a deadline to return signatures coinciding with Election Day before Denver District Court Judge Marie Avery Moses ruled that recallistas had to wait until Priola began representing the new boundaries of his Senate district in January. This ruling was highly adverse to the recall campaign, effectively negating the effort and money expended up to that time on the petition drive.

But as the Denver Post’s Seth Klamann reports, another even more adverse event was on the horizon:

A renewed attempt to recall party-switching state Sen. Kevin Priola is less likely to unfold early next year in the wake of Colorado Republicans’ electoral losses last week, an organizer said Thursday.

Officials behind the first failed attempt to recall Priola have yet to make a final decision on whether to resurrect the effort next year, said Michael Fields, of the conservative group Advance Colorado. But the expense of another campaign and the scale of the Democrats’ control of the Senate — with or without Priola — makes a second try “more unlikely” going forward, he said. [Pols emphasis]

Priola, a Henderson lawmaker, was the target of a recall campaign shortly after he announced in August that he was switching his party affiliation from Republican to Democrat. At the time, officials from both parties believed control of the state Senate could swing Republican, and Priola’s switch complicated that path and provided a lifeline to Democrats wary of what appeared to be a looming red-wave election…

As it turns out, the best thing Democrats could do to defend Sen. Priola was to make his party switch irrelevant to determining the Senate majority by burying the Republican Party in this year’s elections. Having expanded their Senate majority by several seats, Democrats left Republicans with no material benefit to recalling Sen. Priola–and after their humiliating losses, the partisan momentum Republicans felt they had initially to pursue this recall has completely dissipated.

The experience of the multiple and increasingly pathetic recall attempts against Gov. Jared Polis throughout his first four years in office has taught us that where there’s an opportunity for grift, somebody is likely to make the attempt. Fortunately, it looks like the smart Republican money is backing away from plunging right into yet another recall season on the heels of another failed election season.

That would be the first good decision Colorado Republicans have made in some time.

New Aurora PD Chief: History of Misconduct and InfoWars Visits

(Speechless in Aurora. CLICK HERE for more background — Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Aurora’s new interim police chief with Alex Jones.

Aurora’s newly appointed interim police chief, Art Acevedo, in addition to recently being fired by the city of Miami, has a history of misconduct and was a frequent guest on InfoWars, founded by conspiracist Alex Jones, who was ordered by a Connecticut court last month to pay hundreds of millions to Sandy Hook families for falsely saying the 2012 school massacre was a hoax.

Acevedo began his career in law enforcement as part of the California Highway Patrol (CHP). In 2004 the Los Angeles Times reported that Acevedo “has been investigated recently for allegedly showing nude photographs of a fellow CHP officer to other high-ranking officers while on duty. Assistant Chief Art Acevedo is the subject of a $5-million civil claim involving the woman with whom he allegedly had an affair in 1995.”

According to the Times, claims filed with three state agencies alleged that Acevedo kept sexually explicit Polaroid photographs of the woman in the glove box of his state-issued car and showed them to other supervisors after the affair ended. Two CHP captains allegedly said Acevedo showed them the pictures, including one in which the woman is performing a sexual act on him. Acevedo denied showing the photos to other officers to the Sacramento Bee.

In 2007, Acevedo was hired as chief of the Austin Police Department. In 2016, the Austin American Statesman reported that Acevedo was “reprimanded, stripped of five days’ pay and warned his job is in jeopardy after his boss said he didn’t follow orders to stop discussing the controversial police shooting of an unarmed teen in February. At the center of the penalty against the chief, City Manager Marc Ott said Acevedo had been insubordinate.”

While serving as the Austin PD chief, Acevedo was a regular guest on Alex Jones’ InfoWars program. In October, Jones was ordered to pay nearly $1 billion in damages to families of victims of the Sandy Hook School shooting, for falsely claiming they were actors who staged the shooting as part of a government plot to seize Americans’ guns. Jones was recently ordered to pay an additional $473 million in punitive damages.

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Winners and Losers from the 2022 Election (Part 1)

We’ve been waiting to publish our annual “Winners and Losers” lists from the election until all of the big races had been finalized. But with the outcome in CO-03 likely headed to a recount, it’s time to just move ahead.

Up first is our list of “Winners” from 2022. This is not merely a list of winning candidates, of course, but a deeper dive into the winningest winners of the election cycle. We’ll post our “Losers” list separately.

 

The Winningest Winners of 2022

 

Reality

Republican candidates lied with impunity in 2022, but Colorado voters chose instead to believe their own eyes about the state of the state in which they live. Colorado schools are not overrun by kids in “furry” costumes. Colorado is not #2 in fentanyl deaths. Denver is not a smoking crater in the ground. Jared Polis did not steal your car. Google is not out to get Joe O’Dea

 

Felix Lopez

Er, maybe not.

In politics, as in life, sometimes your best moves are the ones you DON’T make. Republican Las Animas County Commissioner Felix Lopez was GOP gubernatorial nominee Heidi Ganahl’s first choice to be her running mate and Lieutenant Governor – to the point that Ganahl was teasing an announcement in early July. But Lopez started having second thoughts as an announcement neared and ultimately decided to back out. Ganahl’s candidacy ended up being so historically bad that everyone who was at all associated with her campaign will be forever tainted. Perhaps Lopez is not interested in seeking higher office, but at least now he still has that option.

 

Lisa Cutter and Tammy Story

These Jefferson County Democrats were significantly impacted by redistricting and other political decisions taking place in their respective orbits. 

When Brittany Pettersen decided to seek a seat in Congress, Cutter was the obvious choice to run for Pettersen’s Lakewood-area State Senate seat. The problem for Cutter was that Republican Tim Walsh was willing and able to spend more than a million dollars of his own money to become a state senator himself. Despite a barrage of advertising in SD-20, Cutter ended up winning by nearly 10 points.

Story was a State Senator herself when redistricting changed the political landscape and chopped up her Southwest Jefferson County Senate district. Instead of taking the loss and moving on, Story decided to run for a State House seat in South Jeffco (HD-25) and ended up pulling off an upset (an incumbent State Senator running for State House is incredibly rare). Story’s narrow victory in HD-25 proved very consequential for Republicans, because it ousted incumbent Rep. Colin Larson – who was likely to become the next House Minority Leader if he had been re-elected.

 

Steve Fenberg

Senate President Steve Fenberg has now led his caucus to three consecutive majorities, including an unprecedented 23-vote majority in 2022. Fenberg should remain in charge of the State Senate through 2024 and will be well-positioned for higher office when he’s finished.

 

Jared Polis 

Winning re-election had been a foregone conclusion for months, given the sheer ineptitude of Republican Heidi Ganahl. But winning re-election by 20 points was something that virtually nobody saw coming. Polis is only the fourth major statewide candidate in Colorado to win by 20+ points since 1990. Polis was first elected Governor in 2018 by an 11-point margin; clearly, Colorado voters approve of both Polis and his policies. 

 

Michael Bennet

The incumbent Democratic Senator had been elected twice before, but had never quite reached 50% of the total vote in Colorado (he came really close in 2016). As of this writing, Bennet is on the cusp of surpassing 56% of the total vote, extending his margin of victory over Republican Joe O’Dea to 15 points.

 

Most Colorado Media Outlets

National media outlets played a silly game that we documented repeatedly in which they pretended that Republican Joe O’Dea might knock off incumbent Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet, who ended up winning by 15 points. Most Colorado media outlets did not buy into this nonsense narrative and instead focused on actual on-the-ground reporting to guide their coverage – in this race and every other in Colorado. 

Kyle Clark of 9News

Colorado journalists did a good job asking the relevant questions of candidates, from Heidi Ganahl’s September 2021 campaign kickoff to the fall 2022 debates. For example:

Jesse Paul of The Colorado Sun asking O’Dea if he voted YES on Proposition 115, a 2020 ballot measure that sought to make abortion illegal after 22 weeks of pregnancy (a measure opposed by 69% of Colorado voters). This was a great question that clarified O’Dea’s impossible efforts to dance around the subject and take every side of the abortion issue, and it was a question that only a good local reporter would know to ask;

Spencer Soicher of KRDO in Colorado Springs asking Ganahl if she really believed that Colorado schools were being overrun by “furries.” Ganahl doubled-down on her nonsense claims, validating Soicher’s question;

♦ Longtime Denver Post editor Dean Singleton hosting a candidate forum in which he repeatedly pressed Ganahl to provide actual details on some of her loudest claims (including her nonsense proposal to eliminate Colorado’s income tax without a plan for how to make up the resulting $11 billion budget shortfall);

 Multiple news outlets reporting the facts about various residency questions for several candidates.

Kyle Clark of 9News pressing O’Dea to provide proof for his claim that Google was “censoring” his campaign, which led to one of our favorite quotes of the election cycle

♦ 9News, Fox 31, Denver7 and other outlets calling out CD-8 candidate Barb Kirkmeyer’s indefensible lie that Democrats “legalized fentanyl.” In taking apart this falsehood, 9News educated viewers on how reporters evaluate misleading statements from candidates, and what escalates a merely false statement from a “lie” (when a candidate, in this case Kirkmeyer, KNOWS that what they are saying is untrue).

In future elections, we’d like more of this, please. 

There were exceptions to this trend, unfortunately. Shaun Boyd of CBS4 Denver regularly showed that she has no interest whatsoever in trying to get a story correct; she was just about the only local journalist who bought into the nonsense “O’Dea surprise” narrative pushed by Republican operatives. Many of her “truth tests” were flat out wrong on the details and the facts presented. Her ridiculous story suggesting that every school district in Colorado was covering up a non-existent “furry” epidemic should never have made it onto the air. Whether Boyd is just lazy or an outright hack, we would be embarrassed to work with her. 

 

Residents of CO-03

Enough of this, thanks.

Regardless of the final outcome between incumbent Republican Rep. Lauren Boebert and Democrat Adam Frisch, voters in CO-03 stood up and declared that they were fed up with Boebert’s silly theatrics and her lack of accomplishments in the district. Multiple stories emerged before and after the election in which voters – many of them Republicans – told reporters that they were embarrassed by Boebert’s antics and just wanted a Representative who would do the actual job required of them.

If Boebert does manage to eke out another term, Republicans would be wise to organize strong opposition in a GOP Primary so that they aren’t facing another election in which they could lose a seat that otherwise favors Republicans by 9 points.  

 

Non-Republican Polling Outfits 

Lots of Republican pollsters made fools of themselves in 2022. Meanwhile, polling from Global Strategy Group (including the “Mountaineer”) and the University of Colorado did a good job of accurately measuring what was really happening in our state. The Colorado Sun covered this well in a recent edition of its “Unaffiliated” newsletter. 

 

Colorado’s Election System

Colorado’s all-mail ballot system worked perfectly once again. It is both easy to cast a ballot in Colorado and difficult to vote fraudulently. You can track your ballot in Colorado through its entire life cycle, from when it gets sent out in the mail to when it is received by your county clerk. The only people who want more restrictions on voting are those who want fewer people to cast ballots. 

This Tweet from former Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker was “liked” and “shared” by several Colorado Republican “leaders.” What critics of Colorado’s voting system are really saying is that they believe we should change the voting age to “middle-age white people” so that Republicans might be able to win elections in Colorado.

 

 

Mike Lynch 

It’s tough to find a Republican “Winner” from 2022, but we’ll go with Lynch after the Northern Colorado Republican was elected House Minority Leader following another awful Election Day for the GOP. We debated about whether to put this in the “Losers” category, however, because being the House Minority Leader in a Republican caucus in 2023 is like “winning” a basket full of rattlesnakes infected with COVID. 

 

Women in the General Assembly

For the first time in state history, more than 50% of the members of the Colorado legislature are women. That’s pretty cool. 

 

Yadira Caraveo

Caraveo’s victory in the newly-formed CO-08 was considered by some national prognosticators – including Nathaniel Rakich of 538.com – to be a YUGE surprise. Given how blue Colorado has become, we’re not sure Caraveo qualifies as a “biggest upset,” but defeating Republican Barbara Kirkmeyer in a close race is still an impressive victory.

 

Brittany Pettersen

It’s no easy task to follow a beloved politician such as retiring Rep. Ed Perlmutter, especially when the district is redrawn in a significant fashion. No matter. Pettersen ran a virtually flawless campaign and cruised to a 15-point victory over Republican Erik Aadland. She’ll be safe here for the next decade. 

 

First New CD-3 Numbers In Days Inch Toward Recount Range

UPDATE 3:45PM: In one high-drama day of counting across CD-3 of remaining ballots, incumbent GOP Rep. Lauren Boebert has seen her lead cut by more than half to only 557 votes–well inside the margin for an automatic recount.

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UPDATE 2:30PM: Closer and closer, but the remaining ballots are also shrinking:

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Following last night’s deadline to cure ballots with signature or other issues that prevented a small percentage of votes from being tabulated in Colorado’s extremely close CD-3 race, we’re getting our first updates as county clerks begin processing those ballots as well as remaining overseas and military ballots. And the first updates are moving the needle ever so slightly in Democratic challenger Adam Frisch’s direction:

A clearly nervous Lauren Boebert late Tuesday night.

And with that, Colorado’s political watercooler class can resume mashing our refresh buttons on the Secretary of State’s election results page. We’re watching first to see if the count brings Frisch to within approximately 800 votes, the floating margin based on the final tally that would trigger an automatic recount of the race. That’s enough to keep the uncertainty going into next week, although the outcome will no longer decide control of the U.S. House.

The next benchmark from there would be an outright Frisch victory, which would exceed realistic expectations but is not impossible. Either way, by transforming what should have been an easy ride for freshman GOP scandal-o-matic Rep. Lauren Boebert into a contest that has occupied post-election headlines due to the race coming in so unexpectedly close, Adam Frisch has changed the game in CD-3 for as long Boebert remains in office. After Boebert easily defeated her 2022 primary challenger Don Coram, conventional wisdom took CD-3 off the table leaving Frisch to take Boebert on more or less on his own.

Now that Frisch has shattered Boebert’s invulnerability, she’ll be a top target in 2024 even if she hangs on in 2022’s final count. Boebert has underperformed in two general elections relative to the district’s partisan lean. After these results, Boebert is officially a liability to Republicans and a pickup opportunity for Democrats.

We’ll update as the results trickle in.

Heidi Ganahl: The New Best Loser in Colorado History

We’re #1! We’re #1!

Now that the 2022 election is behind us (most of us, anyway), there are a number of questions to be answered. Chief among them: Just how historically bad was Hiedi Heidi Ganahl’s campaign for Governor?

Bad. Really, really bad. Like, all-time bad.

In fact, we’d say that Ganahl has dethroned Bob Beauprez as the single worst statewide candidate and campaign in modern Colorado history. If you disagree, consider that the margin between Ganahl and Democrat Jared Polis is now 20 points wide.  That’s right — updated election results show that Polis beat Ganahl by better than 20 points.

If you still disagree, keep reading. To put our theory to the test, we brought in some help from the Ghost of Bill Owens

Owens was the last Republican to be elected Governor in Colorado, winning a second term in 2002. Owens isn’t dead (as far as we know), but his party is virtually deceased, so the metaphor works well enough.

Published below is our conversation, conducted with the Ghost of Bill Owens in the Republican spirit land known as Rur-al-Colorado. 

 

COLORADO POLS: Hiedi Heidi Ganahl, the Republican candidate for Governor in Colorado in 2022, is the worst major statewide candidate AND campaign in Colorado history. Change our mind.

 

Woody is in there!

GHOST OF BILL OWENS: Boo! Oh, nevermind. I’m not sure that I could make an intelligent counter-argument for you. But first, a question: What do you mean “candidate AND campaign?”

 

POLS: Well, you can have a bad candidate with a good campaign, or vice-versa. They don’t necessarily have to go hand-in-hand. 

For example, Lauren Boebert was not a great candidate in 2020 when she defeated Scott Tipton for the Republican nomination in CO-03. Boebert was almost completely unknown, but she managed to put together a campaign to beat a long-term incumbent in Tipton, who basically fell asleep that Spring and didn’t wake up again until the day after the election.

Oddly enough, Boebert might lose her seat in Congress after pulling a “Tipton” herself once cycle later. She didn’t spend a lot of time campaigning in her district; in the last few weeks of the 2022 election, Boebert was in Tennessee to deliver a Christian Nationalism speech and then went to Mar-a-Lago in Florida for…for whatever it is that people do there. 

Anyway, back to Ganahl. Let’s look at some comparisons:

 

See what we mean? Ganahl wasn’t even able to get to 40% of the vote in Colorado, which is downright remarkable. Every other statewide Republican candidate received somewhere between 41% and 43% of the total vote in their respective races). Even David Torres, the Democratic candidate for Congress in beet-red Colorado Springs, managed to get 40% of the vote running against incumbent Republican Doug Lamborn (56%). Hundreds of thousands of Colorado voters who were willing to say “Yes” to the rest of the GOP ticket just could not force themselves to vote for Ganahl. 

Ganahl remained below even her own floor: A recent exit poll memo in Colorado conducted by Global Strategy Group found that only 42% of voters even considered voting for Heidi Ganahl

Here are a few more numbers to consider:

♦ Global Strategy Group found that Ganahl lost Unaffiliated voters in Colorado by 33 points. Yes, that’s two threes.

♦ There were six statewide races in Colorado in 2022 (U.S. Senate, Governor, Attorney General, State Treasurer, Secretary of State, and the State Board of Education at-large position). Out of 12 major party candidates on the ballot in these races, Ganahl is THE ONLY ONE who is not going to reach at least 1 million total votes.

 

By the way, Polis is the first major statewide candidate in Colorado in 20 years to win a General Election by at least 20 points. The first since…

 

GOBO: Me.

POLS: Right. You, or whatever. In 2002, Bill Owens defeated Democrat Rollie Heath by nearly 33 points to win re-election as Governor. In fairness to Heath, he joined the race fully understanding that it was virtually unwinnable that year and was the sacrificial lamb for Democrats so that Owens wouldn’t run unopposed. 

This is an incredibly rare occurrence. We’ve only seen a 20+ point statewide race 4 times since 1990 (Ben “Nighthorse” Campbell in 1998 and Roy Romer in 1990). 

 

GOBO: Good times. But what about Dan Maes?

POLS: Ah, yes. Dan Maes. This is always the first name that comes up on this topic. Maes was another completely-unknown Republican who won the GOP nomination for Governor in 2010 with Scott McInnis weighed down by a plagiarism scandal. Republicans were so convinced that Maes would be a disaster in a General Election against popular Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper that they recruited Tom Tancredo to run as the American Constitution Party candidate for Governor. Maes ended up with only 11% of the vote; had he dropped under 10%, Republicans would have lost their official “major party status” for 2012.

Maes was not a good candidate, but he was more of a dunce who was in the right place at the right time when McInnis cratered in the Republican Primary. Since nobody else had been challenging McInnis for the GOP nomination, Maes was the beneficiary of being the only “Not Scott” candidate. Maes performed poorly in the 2010 General Election in large part because Republican bigwigs sandbagged him and refused to help. Maes didn’t really know what he was doing as a statewide candidate, and Republicans weren’t interested in helping him. Maes should not have won the GOP nomination in the first place, but that was the Party’s fault, not his, for an inability to organize another option to McInnis.

Here’s what makes Ganahl different: She HAD all of the advantages that were denied to Maes but could not or would not capitalize on them. Starting off her campaign as an election denier really crippled any momentum in the early stages. Still, Ganahl managed to win a Republican Primary and then inexplicably just kept moving to the right

 

GOBO: Wait, that means Ganahl is worse than Bob Beauprez in 2006?

POLS: Beauprez’s 2006 campaign for governor was absolutely the Best Loser in Colorado until he was out-losered by Ganahl. Beauprez was a schmuck of a candidate who said really stupid things (such as his absurd claim that 70% of African-American pregnancies end in abortion) and made equally-terrible decisions (choosing Janet Rowland as his running mate after she suggested that homosexuality was a gateway to bestiality). He also lost by a sizable margin to Bill Ritter, the former Denver DA who was nobody’s first, second, third, or even fourth choice on the Democratic side (at the time, there were a lot of bigger-named Democrats who decided against running, among them Hickenlooper, House Speaker Andrew Romanoff and Senate President Joan Fitz-Gerald).

But Beauprez did have a second act, sort of. In 2014, he won the Republican nomination for Governor and gave then-incumbent Governor John Hickenlooper a scare before ultimately losing by 3 points.

Still, we’ll always have this:

Bob Beauprez saw the future way back in 2006.

 

POLS: Here’s another question: Could you see Ganahl making a comeback in a few years after all her nonsense about furries in schools; election conspiracies; and failing to raise enough money to even have a legitimate television advertising budget?

GOBO: [Thinking] I guess you’ve got me there. Ganahl couldn’t get elected as a local PTA President after everything she said in the last few months.

 

POLS: Exactly. She’s radioactive. 

Look at how many Republican candidates were severely hurt by Ganahl’s awful campaign. Ganahl was probably never going to beat Polis, but if she could have made it a race, it would likely have made a big difference in turnout for down-ticket races. How many extra votes might Boebert (CO-03) or Barbara Kirkmeyer (CO-08) have picked up if there had been even a modest enthusiasm among Republicans for the top of the ticket?

 

GOBO: What about Joe O’Dea’s Senate campaign? Wasn’t he a drag on other Republicans?

POLS: Sure, but not like Ganahl. O’Dea’s campaign is definitely in the top 20 of worst major campaigns of all time, but he was more of a drag by virtue of being uninteresting. Ganahl was an unshakable anchor on the entire Republican Party.

GOBO: Ganahl was not a great candidate, but she was the best the GOP had this year…

 

POLS: Was she? Surely Greg Lopez, who lost to Ganahl in the GOP Primary, could have at least made it to 40% of the vote in Colorado. You might have done better if you painted a smiley face on a rock and made it the Republican nominee; at least the rock wouldn’t have been talking about furries.

GOBO: Fine, I concede that Ganahl is the worst candidate and campaign in state history. Lesson learned, amirite?

 

POLS: There are indeed a lot of lessons for Republicans. The real question is whether the Colorado GOP is at all interested in learning any of those answers. 

In multiple post-mortem news stories after the election, Republicans claimed that they had a great slate of candidates (they did not) and some great issues to run on (they did, but they screwed that up). They complained about too many liberal voters moving to Colorado, but they never adjusted their message to have a conversation with those voters. 

As for Ganahl, she spent 99% of her time complaining about Polis and talking about every negative statistic related to Colorado that she could dig up. Listening to her was exhausting. Her policy ideas were so shallow and ridiculous that she even managed to exasperate longtime Republican and Denver Post publisher Dean Singleton.

Were Republicans surprised by how ridiculous Ganahl became from the moment she announced her campaign? Were they unprepared by how quickly things went from bad to worse? If they were surprised…why, and how come nobody came to the rescue? Surely somebody had talked with Ganahl before she launched her campaign, right? Were they so blinded by their dislike of Polis that they didn’t see their own disaster of a candidate?

 

GOBO: Are all those questions for me?

A fitting metaphor if ever there was one.

POLS: No, they’re mostly rhetorical…though still probably worth answering if you are a Republican. 

GOBO: Okay, riddle me one last thing: Was the candidate or the campaign worse?

POLS: Ooh, that’s tough. Also, how is it that we are now answering your questions?

It’s difficult to separate the candidate from the campaign here, given that Ganahl had 47 different campaign managers [that’s an exaggeration, but it was a lot] and seemed to direct most of the strategery by herself, with the occasional input from nitwits like Lindsey Datko of Jeffco Kids First.   

It’s interesting, and sad, to think that 18 months ago, Ganahl was a fairly well-respected CU Regent who was the sole remaining Republican to have been elected statewide in Colorado. Today, she is “that furry lady.” And that’s only to the extent that anyone would even recognize her due to her lack of advertising during the campaign. 

GOBO: Maybe that’s the silver lining here.

POLS: What’s that?

GOBO: It’s probably good that most Coloradans don’t know what Ganahl looks like – that means fewer people who will recognize her in public.

POLS: Fair point. Now, can someone please tell her to take a break? As the old saying goes, we can’t miss you if you won’t go away.

 

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