Rick Perry Rakes in Big Money in Aspen

UPDATE: The focus of today’s Statesman story is the money raised by Rick Perry in Aspen last week, but we’d be remiss if we didn’t acknowledge this fascinating quote from his speech:

“When it comes to economic growth, I know this,” Perry added. “The answer is not trickle down stimulus coming from Washington, D.C. but is truly up to freeing up those individuals unleashing corporate growth and the investment on Wall Street freeing them up from over taxation, over regulation and over litigation.”

“Freeing up…Wall Street?” Probably not coming to a bumper sticker near you.

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Texas Governor and Republican Presidential candidate Rick Perry banked $175,000 for his campaign in a fundraising trip to Aspen last Thursday. And as The Colorado Statesman reports, the money came with the help of two high-profile Colorado Republicans, Marc Holtzman and Scott McInnis:

Perry’s short side trip to the mountains that day netted the conservative candidate $175,000 for his campaign coffers – the most lucrative such event in the history of Republican politics in Pitkin County, according to a local and national source – and put him in front of a well-heeled Aspen crowd, many of who said afterwards that the prospect of a Perry presidency truly excited them. There were numerous pledges of support from the approximate 60 people there, including promises of additional financial backing in the future, and a general joy at having rubbed elbows with, as Holtzman proudly announced more than once that afternoon, the next president of the United States.

That’s a lot of money for Perry, but perhaps more significant is the commitment he has received from Holtzman. While his 2006 campaign for Governor fell apart when he — shockingly — failed to gather enough signatures to qualify for the primary against Bob Beauprez, fundraising was one area in which the wealthy Holtzman had little trouble. Holtzman raised nearly $2 million despite basically ending his campaign in June, nearly two months before the Republican primary. If Holtzman is going to be bundling money for Perry, which we would assume to be the case, then we’d assume a fair number of Colorado Republicans are going to be getting phone calls very soon.

Who Fragged Dan Maes, Revised History Edition

It piqued our curiosity when we heard the book was coming out in June–as the Durango Herald’s Joe Hanel reports, 2010 GOP gubernatorial nominee Dan Maes has some new theories on what happened to him, and his (nominal) party’s chances in the governor’s race last year:

Maes blames part of his campaign’s collapse on tea party groups – also known as patriot or liberty groups – for demanding perfection and a rigid adherence to ideology.

“The tea party was looking for Jesus Christ and nitpicked anything they could. They wanted purity, and the harsh reality was and remains that no one is perfect or pure, not even little Danny Maes.” he wrote in a book he published this summer, Running Without Cowboy Boots…

[Scott] McInnis dismisses any talk of internal divisions in the party.

“I don’t think there are lasting impacts. All of that upheaval was caused, frankly, by an ambush on me,” McInnis said.

Without the discovery by Democratic-aligned operatives that portions of the “Musings on Water” papers his research assistant wrote were plagiarized, McInnis thinks he would have been the GOP nominee and won the governor’s race.

Tancredo, who has rejoined the GOP, said the best scenario for Republicans would have been McInnis as the nominee without the taint of scandal that followed him last summer. Tancredo thinks his own candidacy was a longshot.

As we’ve said repeatedly and we believe is conventional wisdom now, any hope of GOP victory in the 2010 gubernatorial race vanished the moment that Scott McInnis was brought down in scandal. Tom Tancredo had no ability to win, or even produce a face-saving result–and Maes was never a serious candidate for governor. Nonetheless Republican leadership, beginning with former party chairman Dick Wadhams but certainly not ending with him, made a disastrous mistake by publicly abandoning Maes after failing to pressure him to withdraw in time to be replaced on the ballot. A worse message for primary voters could not possibly have been sent.

Even though Maes could never have won, the chaos that ensued as Tancredo jockeyed for position and top-level Republicans spurned the GOP nominee was a huge distraction–and a source of conflict in the grassroots to the present day. And that leads to the key point: whatever Maes says now, it wasn’t the “Tea Party” that sealed his fate. It was Colorado GOP leadership who believed they could salvage an unsalvageable situation by muscling Maes out of the race. The “Tea Party” was little more than a confused rabble by this point, as incapable of affecting the outcome as Wadhams or anyone else. And given a different cue from GOP brass, they would have been happy to give Maes enough token support to avoid this lingering sense of treachery. Besides, all of the things that Maes complains about regarding the “Tea Party”–those problems exist for every Republican candidate for every office.

As it happened, everyone involved made the worst possible choice for their credibility, with the lone possible exception of Maes. Perhaps Maes feels obligated in hindsight to cover for those most responsible for his electoral fate? Given the way he was treated…he shouldn’t.

And That’s Why I’m Running for Congress…Somewhere in Colorado

One of the quirks that come in a redistricting year is that the Federal Election Commission is a bit lax on requiring candidates seeking a Congressional office to actually state which office they plan to run for. Take, for example, the case of Democrat Perry Haney, a wealthy Greenwood Village chiropractor who wants to run for Congress…somewhere.

Haney has been meeting with Democrats in Colorado and in Washington D.C., telling them that he plans to run for Congress, but he won’t say where he plans to kickoff his campaign. Is it against Republican Rep. Mike Coffman (and Democratic challenger Joe Miklosi) in CD-6? Is it to take on Republican Rep. Scott Tipton in CD-3, where Democrat Sal Pace has been running full-steam ahead for months?

We visited his website, paid for by “The Perry Haney for Congress Exploratory Committee,” to “explore” that question, and it doesn’t indicate anywhere that he has decided where he will run, though a look at some of the pictures and the text makes it appear as though he’s definitely leaning more towards CD-3 than anywhere else. We did get a kick out of his issue statement “On Career Politicians,” where Haney talks, of course, about how he is not a career politician; but he’s got the career politician thing figured out, it seems, since he won’t even commit to a district.

Haney recently sent a mail piece to Democratic delegates in CD-3 that left a UPS Store P.O. Box in Grand Junction as the return address, giving more indication that he may, perhaps, choose to run in Southern and Western Colorado (though he never explicitly says in the letter that he is running for Congress in CD-3). If he does run there, he will have a lot of explaining to do about being a wealthy Denver resident with little previous involvement in politics. Haney has made several donations to Democrats over the years, but he has also donated regularly to Republicans; Haney gave Scott McInnis a $500 check in his campaign for Colorado governor in 2009, $250 to Republican Attorney General Gale Norton in 1995, and $200 to the National Republican Congressional Committee in 1996. This won’t help him earn any friends in a Democratic primary, either.

We don’t see how Haney could possibly win a Democratic primary wherever he ultimately decides to run for Congress. We hear that he does have some personal wealth that he might commit to a campaign, and he had better hope so — we don’t see him raising much money as an unknown Denverite with no natural base in CD-3 or CD-6. But maybe he’ll figure this out as part of his grand “exploration.”

And Now, Something Completely Ridiculous

UPDATE: Don Knox reports that McInnis won’t be returning to his job at Hogan Lovells (formerly Hogan and Hartson), which had been expected by folks familiar with his position there. So…he’s…honestly, we don’t think “available” is the right description.

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We’ll bet money you can’t hold a straight face through this AP report–as you know, the director of Western Slope civic engagement organization Club 20, Reeves Brown, was selected by Gov.-elect John Hickenlooper to head the state Department of Local Affairs.

And so Club 20 has a job opening. Guess who wants to fill it?

Club 20 Chairman Jeff Comstock tells the Daily Sentinel newspaper in Grand Junction that he expects the executive director position to be posted later this week.

Former congressman Scott McInnis of Grand Junction says he would be willing to fill the post on an interim basis. McInnis lost the Republican gubernatorial primary to Dan Maes in November…

That’s right, folks, scandalized ex-gubernatorial candidate Scott McInnis is “willing” to head the Western Slope’s principal representative group of business and local governments. McInnis said a few weeks ago that he had a plan to “clear his name” at some unspecified point in the future, after revelations of plagiarism in work he did for a local foundation derailed his bid for governor.

We would suggest he, uh, do so before he even thinks about a job like this, let alone publicly float his name. Failing that, McInnis has simply given the world a punchline for yet another joke.

First as Tragedy, Then as Farce: McInnis Speaks

Folks, we are obliged to note for the record that scandalized GOP ex-gubernatorial candidate Scott McInnis has resurfaced in the pages of today’s Denver newspaper.

Now, we’ll start with the obvious irony of McInnis

1. Choosing to come out of hiding to the Denver paper, the same newspaper he erroneously blames for his self-destruction, and

2. Apparently only allowing himself to be interviewed by business columnist Penny Parker, entirely bypassing the paper’s newsroom.

Both of those details positively ring with the kind of self-inflicted misery McInnis experienced on the campaign trail up through his primary defeat in August. McInnis blames the Denver newspaper for the plagiarism scandal that sank his candidacy, asserting that they hammered on the case “day after day” without merit, but that’s poppycock. The Denver paper didn’t discover this plagiarism, they were tipped off–as were other media outlets who were all simultaneously moving on the story when it broke on the Denver paper’s blog. What’s more, the most damage done to McInnis over the story was not even done by the Denver newspaper, but by 7NEWS investigator John Ferrugia’s interviews with McInnis’ research assistant Rolly Fischer.

What this means is that McInnis, just as he blamed friendly radio hosts Dan Caplis and Craig Silverman for his on-air meltdown over charitable donations, or the Denver paper for making an issue of his refusal to release his tax returns, continues to point fingers outward instead of contemplating how he puts himself in these politically disastrous situations over and over. Seriously–when the Denver paper devoted nearly a week of glowing front-page coverage to “McInnis Unity” and the “Platform for Prosperity,” with Mike Rosen and Vince Carroll tripping over each other in a rush to slather McInnis in sycophantic praise…was that a paper out to get him? It’s not like we have an interest in defending the Denver newspaper or anything–this is just totally absurd historical revision. We were all there, too.

As an epilogue, McInnis promises Parker that he’s going to “clear his name” in the coming weeks. We’ll be very interested in seeing that, since we’ve been over the original materials thoroughly as our readers know, and we don’t know of any way to explain what happened in a way that might un-destroy McInnis’ political career. As we exposed in our original posting the night the story broke, the plagiarism that occurred here was both far too extensive to be accidental, and littered with minor changes to the prose that prove it was a deliberate act.

We really don’t understand why McInnis is bringing this story up AGAIN when it was long since dead, unless it is some sort of attempt to get back his old job at Hogan Lovells (about which managing partner Cole Finegan tellingly refused to comment). McInnis will never be taken seriously again as a candidate for higher office in Colorado, and not just because of this scandal. As we wrote before, McInnis’ political career is history because of five little words: He lost to Dan Maes.

But for the sake of argument, let’s say that McInnis is able to cajole Rolly Fischer on 7NEWS again to take the fall for everything–this is the best-case scenario for McInnis we can envision. This would still mean that McInnis submitted plagiarized writing that he falsely claimed was his own–the Hasan Foundation has repeatedly noted this as a principal deception, beyond the simple fact that the work product itself was fraudulent. The bottom line is that there’s no rehabilitation possible here, because exonerating McInnis on one piece of the scandal implicates him in the other.

Certainly the press will be glad to cover, especially on slow days, McInnis’ insistence that there is more to this story. But that only hurts McInnis.

George Culpepper Pulls a Trifecta, But Not in a Good Way

Lynn Bartels reports over at the main Denver newspaper that Republican gubernatorial candidate Dan Maes has hired George Culpepper to assist his campaign.

Culpepper, you may recall, was once the campaign manager for the gubernatorial bid of Republican Scott McInnis. McInnis hired Culpepper back in September 2009, but Culpepper left the campaign just a few months later to start his own political strategy firm.

Last spring, Culpepper started working for the gubernatorial campaign of Joe Gschwendtner, although “Joe G’s” campaign seemed designed only to discredit Maes prior to the GOP State Convention (in which Maes defeated McInnis anyway). Joe G since failed to make the ballot, ending his campaign.

Culpepper is now back…working for Maes…despite the fact that he was once working for Maes’ chief rival…and despite the fact that he was once on a campaign that had the sole purpose of trying discredit Maes. Given the anemic fundraising of the Maes campaign, perhaps the joke is on Culpepper, whose salary can’t be much more than bologna sandwiches and pocket change for gas money.

Nevertheless, Culpepper will have an interesting tale to tell; he’s got to be the only person in Colorado history who will have been directly involved with three failed campaigns for governor in the same election cycle. That’s hard to do.

Sept. 3, 2010: The Day the Colorado GOP Changed Forever

September 3, 2010.

Remember this day, folks, because in the coming years politicos, reporters, bloggers and everyone with an interest in Colorado politics will point back to this day to mark the moment when the Colorado Republican Party changed completely, and perhaps irrevocably. Whether or not this change will be remembered as something positive or negative may not be known until well after Election Day in November, and maybe not until Winter 2011, when Republicans across the state elect new local and statewide leadership. But make no mistake — nothing can ever be the same in the Colorado GOP after weeks of events that culminated on Friday.

Because on Friday, Sept. 3, 2010, the State Republican Party told every Republican voter that the caucus and the primary only matter so long as you choose the candidate they want you to choose. Otherwise, your vote means nothing. Incredibly, and inexplicably, the Colorado Republican Party officially declared that a small handful of people will make decisions for you, no matter what the election results say.

In fact, two major changes have occurred: 1) The Republican Party decided that a small committee of people can choose whether or not to support a candidate that Republican voters elected, and 2) Top Republicans have splintered their support in the governor’s race in three different directions. Party unity? There’s no going back from here.

The Colorado Statesman has an excellent story from Jody Strogoff and Ernest Luning about the events surrounding the Republican efforts to get Gubernatorial nominee Dan Maes off of their ballot. You really need to read the whole thing, but we’ll break down a couple of key sections to illustrate our point after the jump.

the Colorado Republican Party has officially abandoned its support of their nominee, with State Chairman Dick Wadhams saying he was “very disappointed in the decision by Dan Maes to continue his candidacy for governor. Revelations before and especially after the August 10th primary have raised serious questions about the veracity of how he has presented his professional background and career and have virtually destroyed any possibility of running a viable campaign.”…

…A story published earlier Friday by the Washington, D.C.-based Politico referenced an anonymous source who said Maes met Friday morning with members of the Colorado Republican Party’s executive committee. According to the political news site’s account, powerful Republicans confronted Maes with further “damaging evidence” about him that hadn’t yet been made public in a last ditch effort to force him from the race.

But GOP Chairman Dick Wadhams unequivocally denied that the meeting described in Politico had taken place.

“There was no meeting with Maes by me and/or the executive committee,” Wadhams told The Statesman on Friday afternoon. He also said the GOP did not have any “damaging evidence” against Maes, as was reported in the Politico story. Nate Strauch, spokesman for Maes’ campaign, also told The Statesman that the purported meeting did not occur.

However, a member of the state’s 24-member executive committee told The Statesman late in the day Friday that, while no official meeting of the executive committee had been convened, a member of the committee talked with Maes about the mounting negative information beginning to leak out about his personal and professional background. The top GOP official asked Maes to seriously consider withdrawing his name from the ballot before the 5 p.m. Friday deadline for ballot certification.

Maes’ decision to stay in the race was met with varied reaction from Republicans. Most stunning, perhaps, was an announcement issued by the Colorado GOP just minutes after Friday’s ballot certification deadline. The statement, signed by Wadhams, didn’t include Maes’ name on the list of Republican candidates that had the official support of the state party.

Because Dan Maes won the Republican nomination for governor, or more precisely, because of what Republicans did in response to that victory, the Colorado Republican Party has shattered in multiple directions. Colorado Republicans have been trying for weeks to force Maes out of the race with numerous private meetings and the leaking of damaging information about Maes in the last week (every top-level Democrat we’ve talked to last week insists that they had nothing to do with leaking information about Maes’ apparent fabrication that he was once an undercover police officer, and we believe them – Democrats have no interest in trying to force Maes out of the race for governor because he’s polling well behind Democrat John Hickenlooper). These efforts have been ongoing as the Colorado Republican Party has insisted that they were fully supportive of Maes.

But now, under the absurd guise that they are just now learning about what a bad candidate Maes will be (and let’s be honest here – anybody who read a newspaper or blog, or watched local TV in the last three months already knew that) – the State Freakin’ Party has officially decided not to support their own nominee for governor. And it’s transparently obvious why that decision was made: Because Maes wouldn’t withdraw from the race.

With the unprecedented move by the State GOP Party to abandon their own nominee for governor, there is nobody left to hold the ticket together – which is fundamentally the entire point of having a political party. Take a look at just how badly things have splintered:

  • The Colorado Republican Party: Officially Will NOT Support Maes for governor.

  • Steve Schuck, Prominent Republican and two-time candidate for governor in the 1980s: Publicly supporting Tom Tancredo, the American Constitution Party candidate for governor.

  • Mary Smith, Former Chair of the Denver County Republican Party: Publicly supporting Democrat John Hickenlooper for governor.

  • John Andrews, former Senate President and former GOP candidate for governor: Publicly withdrew his endorsement of Maes and said that he will write-in Jane Norton for governor (the same Jane Norton who, just weeks earlier, lost her own primary for U.S. Senate to Ken Buck).

  • Wayne Allard, former U.S. Senator: Staying with his previous endorsement of Maes for governor.

  • Paul Tauer, Former Aurora Mayor: Staying with his previous endorsement of Maes for governor.

  • Dave Schultheis, outspoken term-limited State Senator: Staying with his previous endorsement of Maes for governor.

  • Larry Mizel and Greg Maffei, prominent Republican businessmen and fundraisers: Publicly supporting Democrat John Hickenlooper and raising money for his campaign for governor.

  • Ken Buck, Republican nominee for the U.S. Senate: Publicly withdrew his endorsement of Maes for governor.

  • Mike Coffman, Republican Congressman in CD-6: Publicly withdrew his endorsement of Maes for governor.

  • Hank Brown, highly-regarded former U.S. Senator: Publicly withdrew his endorsement of Maes for governor.

  • Doug Lamborn, Republican Congressman in CD-5: Still supporting Maes after previous public endorsement.
  • As you can see, there is no spin or analysis needed here. This is an unequivocal and embarrassing mess for the Colorado Republican Party, and here’s why: 196,560 Republican voters selected Maes over Scott McInnis in the GOP primary. Many of those Maes votes were definitely a rejection of McInnis more than a selection of Maes, but that doesn’t change the fact that Maes fairly won the nomination, after winning top line at the state GOP convention. But the Colorado Republican Party just told those 196,560 voters that their vote doesn’t matter, because they decided, through their own little Executive Committee, that Dan Maes would not receive the support of the Colorado Republican Party.

    What makes this whole fiasco even more stunning is the incredible bald-faced hypocrisy of GOP Party Chair Dick Wadhams. Just last week (Aug. 25, to be exact), a quite unambiguous letter from State GOP Chair Dick Wadhams was sent to “Colorado Republican Leaders” in an effort to clear up any “unfortunate misperceptions” about Republican efforts to force Maes out of the race for governor. Here is that letter as reprinted in The Colorado Statesman (all bolding is Pols emphasis]:

    The Colorado Republican State Executive Committee unanimously adopted a resolution at our regularly scheduled bimonthly meeting in August stating clear support for Ken Buck for U.S. Senate and Dan Maes for Governor along with all other Republican candidates nominated for statewide, congressional, state legislative and county offices in the August 10 primary election. The resolution is attached. [Pols note: We left this last sentence unaltered, although the resolution is not attached here nor was it attached to the online story in the Statesman]

    Our Republican nomination process was open and fair from the beginning of this election cycle to any candidate who chose to compete and any Republican who wished to participate in our precinct caucuses, county and district assemblies, the state assembly and primary election.

    Unfortunately, the turmoil in the governor’s race has raised unfortunate misconceptions about the role of the Colorado Republican Party and, even more specifically, my role as state chairman.

    I have been inundated by emails and phone calls by those who have the misconception that Colorado Republicans do not support our nominee for governor, Dan Maes. At the same time, I have also received emails and phone calls from people who believe I can arbitrarily reverse the result of a primary election and find a new candidate for governor.

    First of all, the Colorado Republican Party and I, as state chairman, support Dan Maes for Governor. Period. Dan won our nomination fair and square. We are working directly with Dan and his campaign in our Victory voter identification and turnout operation.

    Second, neither the state chairman nor any committee within the Colorado Republican Party can arbitrarily remove a duly-elected nominee. And that’s the way it should be…

    …Finally, I have no regrets whatsoever how we conducted our nomination process. It was not my role or the state party’s to determine who could or would run or who would win. It was my responsibility to ensure a fair nomination process open to any candidate who wished to compete and to any Republican who wished to participate in it. And that is exactly what occurred in 2010. Every person who considered running and chose to do so or not to do so made their own decision, it was not made by me or the Colorado Republican Party.

    Just nine days after this letter was sent out to “Colorado Republican Leaders,” Wadhams took the unprecedented step of announcing that the Colorado Republican Party would NOT support Maes, its own nominee for Governor, thus completely crippling any chances Maes might have of winning in November.

    Just nine days after writing that Maes “won our nomination fair and square,” the Colorado Republican Party officially and formally slammed the door in the face of Maes.

    Just  nine days after writing that “It was not my role or the state party’s to determine who could or would run or who would win,” the Colorado Republican Party did, in fact, determine unilaterally that they would not support their candidate for Governor, a man whom Wadhams already said had won the nomination “fair and square.” Again, and this is worth repeating, we’re talking about a candidate who handily won top line at the Republican State Convention in May, and who won the August Primary with 196,560 very real votes. Maes did everything the Republican Party asked him to do in order to win their nomination, and he did it. And then they rejected him anyway.

    Look, Dan Maes is a terrible candidate with virtually no chance of winning in November. Anybody with even a cursory understanding of Colorado politics knows this, too. But that doesn’t mean that the Colorado Republican Party should be allowed to completely override the Primary election results. How can Republican voters ever again believe that their vote will ultimately mean anything after this? How can the Tea Party activists believe that the State Party will ever really embrace them after they have shown such callous disregard for Democracy?

    Maybe this fiasco will finally force State Republicans to fix their internal mess and straighten things out. Maybe this will show the Tea Party that it would be better to form their own political party than be at the mercy of the GOP elite. Or maybe this will stop any future unknown, upstart candidate from even thinking about trying to run without the blessing of the GOP “kingmakers” who make decisions that have nothing to do with election results.

    We can’t pretend to guess what will happen next, but for Colorado Republicans, conservatives and Tea Party supporters, nothing can ever be the same again.

    Worst Week in Colorado #3

    It’s time for another edition of “Worst Week in Colorado,” where we ask Colorado Pols readers who it is who had the worst week in Colorado politics.

    Previous winners (or losers) include Republican Party Chair Dick Wadhams and former GOP Gubernatorial candidate Scott McInnis. Our nominee this week is the Colorado Republican Party and Establishment in general, for its shamelessly apparent attempts to discredit Gubernatorial nominee Dan Maes and force him out of the race so that they can appoint someone else.

    We had no problem with the GOP trying to get Maes out of the race prior to the Primary, or even soon afterwards, but this week the process took on a whole new level of desperate absurdity. If they can’t get Maes to agree to any sort of plan to bow out of the race, they could at least try to do it a little quieter while not openly poking in the eye the hundreds of thousands of Republicans who, for whatever reason, did vote for him in the Primary.

    Who, or what, else would you nominate for “Worst Week in Colorado” this week?

    Who Had the Worst Week in Colorado This Week?

    View Results

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    Big-Name Republicans Backing Hickenlooper

    As Jody Strogoff of The Colorado Statesman reports, major Republican donors Larry Mizel, Greg Maffei and Fred Hamilton are co-sponsoring a big fundraising lunch on Sept. 22 for Democrat John Hickenlooper’s campaign for Governor:

    With Mizel, Maffei and Hamilton out of the closet, so to speak, others will likely follow.

    Mizel, chairman and chief executive officer of M.D.C. Holdings, Inc., is also one of Colorado’s major political players, although most of his activities are behind the scenes. Between 1989 and 2006, Mizel and his wife are reported to have contributed about one million dollars to federal candidates, PACs, and political parties; 94 percent went to Republican candidates and party committees. His large donations, which have continued over the last few years, have placed Mizel among the nation’s top 100 political contributors.

    Mizel wasn’t supporting McInnis for governor, and clearly won’t be lending his name to Maes. But rather than having his endorsement of Hickenlooper construed as anti-Republican, Mizel views it simply as a smart business decision. He says Hickenlooper provides bipartisan leadership that is good for the city, good for the state, and good for business in general.

    Hickenlooper, Mizel says, has shown his brilliance in terms of economic development leadership and will do well in reestablishing Colorado as a state that welcomes growth and development, business and a good quality of life…

    …Greg Maffei also has a strong personal relationship with Hickenlooper. According to a profile in the Denver Post a few months ago, the Liberty Media Corp. chief executive was one of the first people Hickenlooper turned to when he was considering whether to run for governor. Maffei told Hickenlooper he thought the job was a good fit and urged him to run.

    Maffei has strong Republican Party ties, here in Colorado as finance director for the state Republican Party, and as a major figure in Sen. John McCain’s political activities over the years.

    As the Statesman story points out, expect to see more major Republican donors migrating to Hickenlooper. After all, these guys didn’t make their money by betting big on long shots.  

    BREAKING: Republicans Meeting with Maes Today on Pulling Out

    SATURDAY AM UPDATE: As we suspected, Dan Maes is not proving agreeable to ‘suggestions’ that he exit the race–posted to his Facebook profile last night:

    To be clear, the story is about high-level Republicans wanting Maes to get out of the race, or failing that to select a running mate from their approved roster. The only part of the “rumor” he has control over is his response–and for the time being anyway, there you have it.

    UPDATE: In this video from a gubernatorial debate between Scott McInnis and Dan Maes at the end of last month, McInnis strongly defends Maes (and himself) from any attempt after the primary to force either of them from the race. McInnis calls attempts to force either of them out a “bait and switch,” and flatly states it would be “out of line” to go against the choice of primary voters.

    No doubt he still thinks so.

    Top Republican “emissaries” are meeting with Republican Gubernatorial nominee Dan Maes today in an attempt to convince him to drop out of the race and let the GOP replace him with someone else.

    According to an anonymous Republican source, GOP Chair Dick Wadhams is not among those involved in the meeting in an effort to keep some official distance from the process. The message from Republicans is that there will be no outside money and no fundraising assistance for Maes if he stays in the race, but if he drops out there could be support for him for future opportunities.

    Republican leaders have been conspicuous in their public silence about Maes, and that silence was apparently part of the plan leading up to today’s meeting. Top Republicans wanted to let Maes have a few days to himself after the election, hoping that their lack of attention would show him that he doesn’t have the support he would need to win in November.

    From what we have heard over the last 24 hours, however, Maes is unlikely to agree to any terms that would see him remove himself from the race for Governor because he truly believes that he has earned the nomination. As part of a last-ditch effort, top Republicans may try to get Maes to agree to their choice for a running mate, in hopes that a stronger Lieutenant Governor could be in a position to take over the ballot at some point.

    It’s important to keep in mind that these discussions are not really about finding a candidate who can win the governor’s race in November. As we first reported in mid-July, Republicans recognize that their chances at beating Democrat John Hickenlooper are close to zero. What they want now is to find someone who can excite the GOP base and not be a drag on the ticket — both for Ken Buck’s U.S. Senate bid and for the downballot races. Maes can’t win, and neither can a potential replacement; but at least a potential replacement isn’t regularly being mocked both locally and nationally as a joke of a candidate. Maes’ much-discussed “U.N. Bicycle Plot” is bad enough when he’s just one of several candidates running in a Primary, but now it’s the Republican candidate for Governor saying these things. That’s a lot different.

    Whatever the decision, Republicans don’t have a lot of time to make it; the Secretary of State certifies the ballot on Sept. 3. A replacement candidate could still be programmed into the voting machines for early and Election Day voting, but the new name likely wouldn’t make it onto the early mail ballot if something wasn’t done before Sept. 3.

    Dan Maes Solves Illegal Immigration Problem

    Let’s get this out of the way first before the shills start accusing us of trying to “attack” or “undermine” the campaign of Republican gubernatorial nominee Dan Maes: He can’t win. You know it. We know it. Everybody knows it. Maes cannot win the race for Governor, and he won’t.

    Neither Maes nor Scott McInnis was going to beat Democrat John Hickenlooper in November, particularly with Tom Tancredo in the race on the American Constitution Party ticket. But we’re definitely glad to see Maes pull out the nomination over McInnis, because he’s…well…he’s hilarious. And not on purpose.

    Maes was already spreading the knowledge in his victory speech last night, which included his brilliant plan to tackle illegal immigration. Just how will he solve this problem? Easy! Maes says that if he is elected Governor, he will “enroll the state in a program that deports illegal alien criminals.”

    Enroll Colorado in a program to deport illegal alien criminals? Brilliant! Why didn’t anyone else ever think of that? You mean there is a program available to deport illegal immigrants, and Colorado just never bothered to “enroll”?

    This should be a fun couple of months. Thank you, Republican voters.

    Republicans Dont Want Maes OR McInnis

    UPDATE: Dan Maes is claiming victory, Tweets the state’s newspaper of record.

    This one (hee hee) might end up (snicker) having to go to a (guffaw) recount before it’s over. You can’t make this stuff up — a potential recount to confirm the candidate that Republicans don’t want anyway. If Republicans could vote on whether they even care who wins, we’d wager ‘NO’ would get more votes than either Maes or McInnis.

    Kind of puts a dent in the old vacancy committee scheduling, eh?

    Prediction Time!

    Make your predictions below on who you think will win the big statewide Primary races. Get them in before 7:00 tonight to make sure you get full bragging rights for a correct answer, and we’ll think up some sort of prize for the person who makes the most correct predictions.

    PREDICTIONS

  • U.S. Senate (Democrats)

  • U.S. Senate (Republicans)

  • Governor (Republicans)

  • Treasurer (Republicans)
  • Tiebraker: The total number of votes cast in the Republican Primary for Treasurer.

    Make sure to put your predictions in a numerical, percentages format. For example: Walker Stapleton over J.J. Ament, 54-46

    Last Ballot Return Numbers Before Voting Ends

    We thought we’d again start a new thread with this information (click for the earlier post), now that we’ve got the latest (and last) update from the Secretary of State’s office on ballot returns. Here are the ballot return numbers as of 3:00 p.m. today:

    *Party/ Ballots Returned Thus Far/ Total Active Voters/ Percent Returned

    Democrats: 310,671/ 817,458/ 38%

    Republicans: 358,953/ 855,667/ 42%

    As we wrote earlier, these numbers have already smashed previous turnout figures for a Primary Election in Colorado, and they don’t include turnout for El Paso and Weld Counties (which were not all-mail ballot counties). This could very well mean that Michael Bennet and Jane Norton will be the winners of their respective primaries because of their name ID advantage. We’d say the same thing for Scott McInnis in the Governor’s race, but we have a feeling the undervote in that one will be huge.  

    Tuesday Ballot Returns: Great News for Better-Known Candidates

    UPDATE #2: More interesting voter trends from Magellan Strategies, a Republican polling and consulting firm, show that at least 28% of Republicans and 32.5% of Democrats that have voted thus far are casting a ballot for the first time in a Primary Election.

    —–

    UPDATE: In 1998, Colorado saw primaries on both the Democratic and Republican sides, for both U.S. Senate and Governor. Turnout in the 1998 Primary was 25.5% for Republicans and 19.7% for Democrats, so we are well into record territory here.

    —–

    Kudos to the Colorado Secretary of State’s office, which is going above and beyond the call of duty in reporting ballot returns early today. The numbers below are as of Noon, while a second report will come out after 3:00 p.m.

    *Party/ Ballots Returned Thus Far/ Total Active Voters/ Percent Returned

    Democrats: 298,062/ 817,458/ 36%

    Republicans: 340,788/ 855,667/ 40%

    Considering that El Paso and Weld Counties are two of those that are not conducting all-mail balloting in Colorado, it’s safe to say that these numbers are going to rise significantly. This is really good news for the campaigns of Sen. Michael Bennet, Jane Norton, and Scott McInnis, because (as we’ve said repeatedly) the more well-known candidates almost always benefit from higher than normal turnout. Both Democrats and Republicans are voting in record numbers, easily surpassing turnout from any of the three previous Primary races.

    The one caveat here is on the Republican side, where there have been rumblings for weeks of Republicans undervoting on their ballots. So while it’s true that a record number of Republicans are returning their ballot, it may not be true that a record number of people are actually voting in the Senate or Governor Primary. We’d say it’s more likely that people are undervoting the Governor’s race than the Senate race, but the point here is that these returns may not mean as much for McInnis as they will for Bennet.

    Richard Coolidge, the Public Information Officer for the SOS Office, also included these handy tips with today’s report:

    The question is “When” not “If” provisional ballots are counted. Primary night results are only an initial tabulation. The OFFICIAL count is due 13 days after the primary when the canvass board meets and reviews the votes. This 13 days allows time to verify provisional ballots and time for overseas military ballots to arrive (8-day extension for these ballots).

    When will results be posted? Clerks are allowed to process ballots 15 days before the election. For the most part, counties will have most ballots cast up until Monday-ish processed and ready for tabulation after 7:00pm tonight. The rest of the results will be forthcoming. Obviously, your patience waiting for these results is most appreciated.

    Ballot Returns Updated for Today

    POLS NOTE: In order to make comments easier to read and understand, we decided to create a new post for these returns, rather than just updating the original post.

    Below are the turnout numbers reported a little after 3:00 p.m. today by the SOS. Remember that there is some lag time in the reporting process (in other words, there are more ballots returned than what is listed below, but what is listed below is what the various County Clerks reported to the SOS today):

    *Party/ Ballots Returned Thus Far/ Total Active Voters/ Percent Returned

    Democrats: 279,462/ 817,458/ 34%

    Republicans: 314,264/ 855,667/ 37%

    Richard Coolidge of the Secretary of State’s office also included this note in today’s ballot update:

    Colorado County clerks may begin processing (not tabulating) ballots 15 days before the election. All 64 counties should have a good sample of mail ballots tabulated after 7:00pm tomorrow evening. Remember, 46 counties are voting exclusively by mail, so ballots received Tuesday may not be included in that original release of results. The remaining 18 counties will still have mail results, but will also need to factor in votes cast at precinct polling places (like El Paso, Pitkin, Las Animas, etc) or at vote centers (like Weld, Park, Archuleta, etc).

    Our read on these numbers? The Michael Bennet campaign is going to be sweating it out tomorrow, hoping to see turnout reach levels cross well into the 300,000 level (the higher the turnout above 300,000, the better the odds that Bennet wins).

    As for the GOP turnout, we’re curious to see how big the undervote might be. Turnout is pretty high already considering the amount of grumbling from Republicans over their (lack of) great choices for Governor, and to a lesser extent, U.S. Senate, but if most of the returned ballots are casting a vote in the race for Governor and Senate, this benefits Scott McInnis and Jane Norton in their respective races.

    New Polling Shows Bennet, Norton Ahead, GOP Gov. Tossup

    New polling out this morning from Public Policy Polling has some interesting numbers across the board in the three top-ticket Primaries in Colorado:

    U.S. Senate (Democrats)

    Michael Bennet: 49%

    Andrew Romanoff: 43%

    Undecided: 9%

    U.S. Senate (Republicans)

    Jane Norton: 45%

    Ken Buck: 43%

    Undecided: 12%

    Governor (Republicans)

    Scott McInnis: 41%

    Dan Maes: 40%

    Undecided: 19%

    It looks like all of these races are going to come down to the turnout numbers, with higher turnout favoring Bennet, Norton and McInnis (because these three have the highest name ID in their respective races). The Secretary of State’s office will release the latest turnout figures after 3:00 p.m. today, so check back here for that update.

    Poll: Who Will Win the Republican Gubernatorial Primary?

    As with all of today’s polls, we are not looking for you to indicate your personal preference. We want to know who you realistically believe will win the election tomorrow — or as we’ve said before, if you had to bet the deed to your house, who would you choose?

    So, who’s it going to be? Scott McInnis or Dan Maes? And to add a little zest to the poll, what do you think will happen after the Primary? Will the winner stay in the race or withdraw?

    Who Will Win the GOP Gubernatorial Primary...And Then What?

    View Results

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    GOP Contingency Plans Emerging?

    We’re getting credible word of some interesting last-minute developments ahead of Tuesday’s primary. We want to be clear that this is preliminary, and (of course) dependent on what happens in the election. But it is based on good authority from high-level GOP sources.

    There is some thinking in GOP circles that gubernatorial candidate Scott McInnis could indeed be persuaded to exit the race following a victory on Tuesday–if he has a say in his successor, and if he were provided with a ‘suitable’ career landing. If that happens, the story we’ve heard is that Jane Norton would very much like to be selected as a replacement gubernatorial candidate.

    Sources are clear that this does not mean Norton is anticipating a loss in her Senate primary against Ken Buck. What we’re talking about here is strictly a contingency plan, but one that Norton is sufficiently interested in pursuing to have started putting out feelers. As you know, of course, polls do show Buck with an enduring lead after weeks of hard-nosed campaigning.

    What’s truly ironic about this situation is the person emerging as her chief competitor for the selection, Norton campaign manager Josh Penry, remains very much interested by all accounts. Obviously, the vacancy committee who would appoint either of them–itself dependent on a decision from McInnis that others insist he will never make if he wins the primary–remains the biggest “if” in a situation with several unknowns.

    A poll follows–file all of this in the same place you’ve been putting those “Romanoff for Mayor” rumors (but in the “much more likely” category) and we’ll see what happens Tuesday.

    Who would make a better replacement GOP gubernatorial candidate?

    View Results

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    McInnis Isn’t Going Anywhere, But What About Maes?

    Earlier we pointed you to a Politico story about former State Senator and former GOP Senate candidate Tom Wiens trying to throw his hat into the ring for Governor, should Republicans figure out a way to replace either Scott McInnis or Dan Maes on the ballot.

    From what we’ve heard lately from top Republicans, however, there is probably no scenario whereby McInnis drops out of the race if he wins the Primary on Tuesday. Why not? The reasons are pretty simple:

    First off, Republicans have nothing to offer in exchange for McInnis exiting the race. McInnis is so politically damaged, both within his Party and among Democrats and Unaffiliated voters, that this is his last chance to run for higher office. Dick Wadhams can’t say, “Pull out of the race, and we’ll promise to support you for (fill in the blank) in 2012 or 2014.” McInnis can’t run again; he knows it, Republicans know it, donors know it, everyone knows it. If you look at it from McInnis’ perspective, the only real political option he has is to stay in the race for Governor and hope for some sort of miracle that sweeps him to victory.

    McInnis’ contract with the law firm of Hogan & Hartson is about up (or has already expired). Because of his plagiarism scandals, the general aura of mistrust that surrounds him, and (as we hear it) a not particularly stellar last couple of years with the law firm, McInnis doesn’t have any place to land if he pulls out of the race for Governor (not that he really needs it, since McInnis has a good degree of personal wealth). So, again, he might as well keep going.

    The only rationale that would potentially convince McInnis to leave the race would be the old “do it for the good of the Party” speech, but that doesn’t work, either. For one thing, McInnis has never been considered a guy who is overly interested about doing what’s right for the Republican Party. And with Tom Tancredo’s entrance into the race on the American Constitution Party ticket, you can’t really argue that a McInnis replacement would be any more likely to win the seat anyway.

    So McInnis is almost certainly going to stay in the race for Governor should he win the GOP Primary, but what about Dan Maes? Some of the rationales mentioned above would probably be pretty enticing for Maes. Even if he makes it out of the Primary, he’s clearly not going to win the General Election because he’s proven to be too inexperienced as a campaigner and a little too nutty when he opens his mouth. But Republicans could perhaps convince Maes that there is a future for him in elected office…just not now.

    Maes also seems to need a job, since his business acumen hasn’t generated much wealth and he’s been using his campaign funds to (ahem) pay for mileage in dubiously large increments. If Republicans could offer him some sort of paid Party position, and/or promise to support him for another (more realistic) race down the line, we’d have to think that Maes would at least seriously consider the offer.

    But that brings us back to Tancredo again. With Tancredo in the race, does any of this even matter? If Republicans can’t convince Tancredo to withdraw, then they could resurrect zombie Ronald Reagan for three months and they still couldn’t find enough votes to beat Democrat John Hickenlooper.

    Republicans are definitely not going to convince McInnis to pull out of the Governor’s race if he wins the Primary, but they might be able to convince Maes to step aside. Either way, it’s hard to see how any of this keeps Hickenlooper out of the Governor’s Mansion.

    Who Do You Think Is More Likely to Withdraw from the GOP Field?

    View Results

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    Dan Maes Will Not Rest Until…He Figures Out What He’s Talking About

    Republican gubernatorial candidate Dan Maes got a lot of attention yesterday for his concern over a U.N. plot to force people to ride bicycles and take showers and…something.

    We really couldn’t even explain the Maes conspiracy theory enough to make fun of it, but as it turns out, neither can Maes. From The Steamboat Pilot:

    “What I’m going on is based on limited information,” Maes told the Steamboat Pilot & Today on Wednesday. “On the surface, the program looks great. But this is a U.N. program the mayor has signed on to.”

    Maes said Wednesday that his remarks had been made in the context of a question asking him what strategy he would use to defeat Hickenlooper in the general election.

    “I met a woman at a campaign event who handed me a very well-documented portfolio” about the International Council for Environmental Initiatives, Maes said. “I have not had time to study all of the portfolio. I have to learn more about it. We’ve just scratched the surface.” [all bolding is Pols’ emphasis]

    Uh, yeah. So in other words, Maes is basing his entire conspiracy theory on a bunch of documents that some woman he doesn’t know handed him at a campaign event.

    At this point, we kind of hope that Maes does get elected Governor. It would be great fun to see him get on a soapbox about something every time a person handed him an unmarked envelope full of nonsense information.

    It has come to my attention recently that certain members of the state legislature are actually aliens from the planet Zog. Rest assured, my fellow Coloradans, that this will be investigated thoroughly…as soon as I finish reading this packet of information someone handed me.

    The Most Important Number Until the Primary: Turnout

    FRIDAY UPDATE: Here are the turnout numbers as of 2:45 p.m. today. It looks like a lot of voters are still holding onto their ballots:

    *Party/ Ballots Returned Thus Far/ Total Active Voters/ Percent Returned

    Democrats: 245,477/ 817,458/ 30%

    Republicans: 269,646/ 855,667/ 32%


    —–

    Previous updates and original post after the jump

    —–

    WEDNESDAY UPDATE: The Secretary of State’s office has updated the ballot return numbers. Here they are as of about 4:00 p.m. today:

    *Party/ Ballots Returned Thus Far/ Total Active Voters/ Percent Returned

    Democrats: 210,201/ 817,458/ 26%

    Republicans: 222,938/ 855,667/ 26%

    Democrats have already voted in significantly higher numbers than in 2008 (see after the jump for more), while Republicans are almost there. There’s still a lot of ballots to go for either Party to surpass the 335,431 votes cast the last time Colorado had a competitive top-ballot Primary (Pete Coors/Bob Schaffer in 2004).

    —–

    In the last couple of weeks, polls for both the Democratic and Republican Senate races, as well as the Republican Governor’s race, have showed results that are all over the map. Those changing numbers lead us to believe that all three races are going to be relatively close.

    With that in mind, the most important number for the next 8 days is going to be turnout. The general rule of thumb is that a higher turnout benefits the candidates with the best name ID — Sen. Michael Bennet on the Democratic side, and Jane Norton (Senate) and Scott McInnis (Governor) on the Republican ticket — because a larger number of voters usually means a larger number of uninformed voters, for whom name ID is really the most important issue.

    As of this afternoon, here are the turnout results from the Secretary of State’s office. We’ll update these numbers on Wednesday afternoon and again on Friday afternoon (special thanks to the SOS Communications Staff for the timely updates):

    *Party/ Ballots Returned Thus Far/ Total Active Voters/ Percent Returned

    Democrats: 164,878/ 817,458/ 20%

    Republicans: 171,236/ 855,667/ 20%

    In 2006, overall primary turnout was 23%, while in 2008, overall primary turnout was 21.95%. It would appear as though we are well on our way to higher than normal turnout, which makes sense since we haven’t seen a contested statewide primary in Colorado (at the top of the ticket) since the 2004 Republican Senate race between Pete Coors and Bob Schaffer.

    To give those numbers some perspective, here are the numbers for ballots cast for the top ticket race in 2008, 2006 and 2004. Pay particular attention to the 2004 Republican Senate race, which as we said above was the last competitive top-ticket Primary in Colorado:

    DEMOCRATIC PRIMARY VOTING HISTORY

    2008: 194,227 votes cast (Mark Udall, Senate)

    2006: 142,586 votes cast (Bill Ritter, Governor)

    2004: 237,140 votes cast (Ken Salazar/Mike Miles, U.S. Senate)

    REPUBLICAN PRIMARY VOTING HISTORY

    2008: 239,212 votes case (Bob Schaffer, Senate)

    2006: 193,804 votes cast (Bob Beauprez, Governor)

    2004: 335,431 votes cast (Pete Coors/Bob Schaffer, U.S. Senate)

    McInnis, Norton Leading Respective Primaries?

    Today “The Fix” provides its list of the 10 most interesting primary fights in the country, and Colorado’s Republicans made it into two of the top three!

    Most interesting, however, is that “The Fix” notes that Scott McInnis leads Dan Maes by 15 points in the race for the Gubernatorial nomination, while Jane Norton may now be leading Ken Buck 45-40 in the Senate Primary:

    3. Colorado governor (R, Aug. 10): What happens if you hold a primary and the party regulars don’t want either candidate to win? That’s what’s happening in Colorado at the moment with scandal-plagued Scott McInnis (plagiarism) and Dan Maes (campaign finance violations) battling it out. A survey shown to the Fix and conducted by a Republican pollster in the last few days put McInnis ahead by 15. If he manages to win the nomination, there will be a major push by establishment Republicans to push him out. But will McInnis go? (Previous ranking: N/A)…

    1. Colorado Senate (R, Aug. 10): Just when Weld County prosecutor Ken Buck looked like he was going to pull off an upset against former Lt. Gov. Jane Norton, he made a series of impolitic comments — the most potentially damaging of which was calling elements of the Tea Party “dumbasses”. A poll conducted by a major Republican firm looking in at the governor’s race in the last few days showed Norton ahead 45 percent to 40 percent, which suggests that Buck has incurred considerable political damage. (Previous ranking: 3)

    McInnis is NOT Worse Than Bob Beauprez

    Check out this absolute gem of a letter to the editor in this week’s Colorado Statesman, which is in reference to this column by Aaron Harber. We thought it was a joke until we read who signed the letter:

    I beg your pardon! Comparing Scott McInnis and Bob Beauprez is ludicrous. McInnis’ problems are the result of character flaws, whereas the political environment and outside factors contributed as much to Congressman Beauprez’s election outcome as any policy issues or campaign strategy.

    In the many years I have known Congressman Beauprez, never has anyone had the temerity to impugn his character as Mr. Aaron Harber has just done in the July 23 issue of The Statesman.

    The anti-Bush climate during the 2006 campaign was entirely different from the present pro-conservative environment – to suggest otherwise is delusional. Congressman Beauprez’s integrity is firmly in place, he has not changed his mind on any values issues; he remains pro-life, conservative, and supports family and friends (did you miss Cory Voorhis’s letter about the support he received from the Congressman?).

    An apology is due.

    Shirley Seitz

    2006 Beauprez Campaign Office Manager

    GOP Governor Disaster Could Topple Ticket

    We’ve talked before about the negative effects that could affect the entire Republican ticket given their meltdown in the Governor’s race. Today MSNBC takes a look at the carnage and offers a sobering historical lesson for Republicans:

    There’s at least one previous case of GOP intra-party turmoil in one race spilling over into down-ballot races.

    “The clearest recent example of a gubernatorial downdraft is Ohio 2006,” said Claremont McKenna College political scientist John Pitney. “The incumbent GOP governor (Bob Taft) had been ensnared in scandal and his party’s candidate to replace him (Ken Blackwell) was unpopular. Together with bad national trends, trouble at the top of the ticket helped bring down incumbent senator Mike DeWine and cost the GOP a couple of House seats.”

    Now, obviously those national trends that benefited Democrats in 2006 are not there in 2010. But a race like CD-4 could come down to the wire, and the Republican troubles at the top of the ticket could mean the difference for Rep. Betsy Markey.

    UPDATE: To wit, Politico’s Kasie Hunt, who we’re pretty sure had never once written about–or even heard of–the American Constitution Party before Tom Tancredo made it famous:

    Former Colorado Rep. Tom Tancredo’s rogue bid for governor, already imperiling the GOP’s shot at the state’s top office, could also dim Republican prospects for knocking off first-term Democratic Rep. Betsy Markey in the 4th Congressional District.

    That’s because Tancredo’s running on the ticket of the conservative American Constitution Party- a minor third-party ballot line that happens to include a candidate, Doug Aden, running in Markey’s district. A statewide campaign that draws attention to Aden’s party might give him the kind of lift that would make him a spoiler for Republican state Rep. Cory Gardner’s campaign…

    This is turning into a pretty big deal for this formerly-insignificant minor party–Tancredo’s high profile and strong support on the hard right are certain to give the ACP the broadest exposure in its history. And given that “Tea Party” and related groups are already nonplussed by GOP nominee Gardner after his run-in with Steve King a few weeks ago, the danger of Aden peeling off votes from Gardner is bigger than first impressions might suggest.