More on The Hill’s CD-4 Poll

In a poll released today by The Hill, 11 of 12 House Democrats are trailing Republicans, and while we can’t tell you more in the way of analyzing the results for other races, we can postulate some ideas on the CD-4 polling results. We mentioned this poll briefly in an earlier post, but the significance of these numbers are worth their own subject.

To make it easier to read, we produced a condensed version of the initial crosstab results from The Hill polling. These results below answer the question: “If the elections for Congress were held today, which candidate would you vote for in your congressional district?”

We’ve written before that any poll in CD4 must ask about all four candidates in order to be considered completely accurate, but any way you slice it, this is good news for Democratic Rep. Betsy Markey and bad news for Republican challenger Cory Gardner.

The only other public poll released in CD-4 (which came in early September) showed Gardner with an 11-point lead over Markey. We questioned the accuracy of that poll, just as we question the accuracy of today’s poll, because neither included American Constitution Party candidate Doug Aden nor Independent candidate Ken “Wasko” Waszkiewicz (more on that in a minute). But even if you forget the third-party candidates, Markey has closed the gap from being 11 points down to now being within the margin of error and behind just three points (41-44). More importantly, Markey has the advantage over Gardner with both Independent voters (43-39) and Senior Citizens (43-40). Also notable is that Markey attracts the support of 11% of Republicans, while just 2% of Democrats expressed support for Gardner.

Now, back to that third-party thing. Colorado is showing a proclivity for voting in higher numbers for third-party candidates in 2010, and CD-4 has always been more fond of third-party choices than elsewhere in the state. If Aden and “Wasko” had been included in this poll, it’s very possible that Markey might be leading the race at this point. In fact, the only poll that included all four candidates that has been released (a Markey internal poll) showed Wasko and Aden pulling a combined 7 percent of the vote, with Markey and Gardner tied at 38 percent apiece.

With mail ballots beginning to drop in the next week, Markey is clearly trending in the right direction. We’ve always said this race is a toss-up, but if you had to bet on it today, you’d have a hard time talking yourself into Gardner.

EMILY’s List Targets Gardner as Race Tightens

That’s the new TV spot from Women Vote!, a project of EMILY’s List–a very strong and emotionally compelling attack on GOP candidate Cory Gardner’s vote against autism coverage for children in the state legislature. From the accompanying release:

In Colorado, WOMEN VOTE! is up on the air for two weeks with a significant buy, presenting Kate Dran, the mother of an autistic child, discussing her efforts to help her son, and Cory Gardner’s vote in the state legislature against requiring insurance companies to cover critical services and treatments for autistic children. The ad will run on broadcast and cable television. EMILY’s List WOMEN VOTE! last went on the air in Colorado during the summer, with an ad about Cory Gardner’s record that moved women voters double digits.

“The more that women learn about Corey Gardner’s record in the state Senate, the more they know that he is wrong for them,” said Denise Feriozzi, Director of WOMEN VOTE! “From voting against cracking down on dead beat dads who skip child support payments to voting against coverage for children with autism, Corey Gardner’s votes have real consequences for Colorado families. This ad makes powerfully clear, in Kate Dran’s voice, how Cory Gardner thinks about children and families. We are all waiting for Gardner to answer the question: What if Chris was his child? Would he still have voted to deny him coverage?”

In related news, the Colorado Independent’s Scot Kersgaard reports this morning on a new poll indicating the CD-4 race has tightened considerably. This poll didn’t even include the third party candidates in the race, which is bad news for Gardner.

Penn Schoen Berland’s new poll for The Hill has this race at 44% for Gardner, 41% for Markey, with 14% undecided–well inside the margin of error, much better than Marilyn Musgrave was showing at this point in 2008, and evidence that despite the desire of national pundits to move this race into the “over” column, it is anything but. Markey is leading in the poll among independents and senior citizens, which is exactly where you’d want to be at this point in the race.

And this ad is not going to help Gardner push these numbers back.

Betsy Markey Gets NRA Endorsement

The National Rifle Association (NRA) will endorse Democratic Rep. Betsy Markey in CD-4 in what is a major blow to the campaign of Republican challenger Cory Gardner, who has been trying to cast Markey as a straight-up liberal in Congress. As The National Review reports:

Her opponent Cory Gardner’s campaign manager Chris Hansen flatly told Battle ’10, “The NRA told us they were endorsing Betsy Markey.”

Calls to NRA-PVF regarding an imminent endorsement in CO-4 were not immediately returned. There is some consensus that the NRA’s political arm has developed an “incumbent endorsement policy” in contested, non-open seats. A source for Battle ’10 said that the rule likely is not a hard-and-fast guideline, but given two choices and an incumbent with an adequate rating, the NRA will most likely endorse that person, regardless of party…

…Markey voted for the NRA-friendly DISCLOSE Act, which exempts large non-profits like the NRA from disclosing their donors, pending the organization’s completion of certain criteria that, in this version, favored large national groups like the NRA. Garnering only 219 votes to pass, Markey’s vote was consequential to the success of the DISCLOSE Act.

The strangest part of this story is that it was Gardner’s campaign that essentially broke the news to the media about Markey’s pending endorsement. Good call, there, Gardner campaign manager Chris Hansen! Way to be the one to break the news that the NRA will support your opponent!

This news comes a day after it was revealed that the NRA was endorsing Democratic Rep. John Salazar in CD-3.

Gardner One Of Only Four in House GOP Not On Anti-60, 61, 101 Letter

UPDATE: According to the Ft. Collins Coloradoan, Gardner really does oppose 60, 61 & 101, but he, uh, was too busy to sign the letter?

“Cory also opposes the measures. Not sure why they didn’t ask him to sign. Probably just because we’re so busy,” campaign spokeswoman Rachel Boxer said.

Uh, okay. We suppose it would take a lot of time to sign a letter and Republicans didn’t want to bother him. Although if we were Gardner’s spokesperson, we might have chosen a more plausible excuse, like “Cory’s dog ate it.”


The big Denver newspaper reported today that a huge majority of Colorado Republican lawmakers have signed on to a letter opposing the “Evil Three” measures on the 2010 ballot (Amendments 60 & 61 and Proposition 101). The campaign of Democratic Rep. Betsy Markey was quick to point out that Republican State Rep. Cory Gardner, her main challenger in CD-4, was one of just four House Republicans refusing to sign the letter.

We’re more than a bit confused as to why Gardner would not openly oppose these measures. As the press release from the Markey campaign (after the jump) points out, there is widespread opposition to 60, 61 and 101, and we don’t see how this could really benefit Gardner’s bid to unseat Markey. Again, it’s not like opposing the Evil Three is really a bold position, since most Republicans and traditional Republican allies don’t even like them. We can’t understand why Gardner would want to align himself with far-right extremists like Sen. Kevin Lundberg here, and we certainly don’t see any strategic benefit to this stance.


Rep. Gardner one of just four House Republicans absent from letter

FORT COLLINS-State Representative Cory Gardner earlier this year refused to sign a letter from 23 of the 27 Republican members of the Colorado House of Representatives, urging fellow Colorado Republicans to oppose Amendments 60 and 61, and Proposition 101, according to the Fort Collins Coloradoan.

Reported by the Denver Post, the Republican lawmakers wrote that, “this reaction is so far overreaching that it will ultimately kill Colorado jobs and strip local governments’ ability to provide police and fire protection and to educate our children.”

“Representative Gardner refused to sign the letter opposing three of the most disastrous ballot measures our state has ever seen,” said Markey campaign spokesman Ben Marter. “He either supports these initiatives-that even his colleagues in the state House admit will kill Colorado jobs-or doesn’t have the guts to take a stand against them. Representative Gardner says one thing during his primary, then tries to pretend it never happened. He’s playing politics with our economic future, and Coloradans just can’t trust him.”  

Here’s what people are saying about these three ballot measures:

Greeley Tribune Editorial Board: “We believe the three amendments on this fall’s election ballot will kill economic growth in Colorado, cripple services provided by state and local government, and doom education funding at a time when it already is dismally low.” [Greeley Tribune 09/05/10]

Denver Post Editorial Board: “The operating language within each one is a virus that would cripple the ability of our local and state governments to provide the most basic of services – from building schools for our children to supplying clean water to our homes.” [Denver Post 07/07/10]

Loveland Chamber of Commerce President: Amendments “Will Do More Devastation than Good.” On September 12, 2010 the Coloradoan reported that Brian Williams, president and CEO of the Loveland Chamber of Commerce said, “We are opposed to wasteful spending, we are in strong support of TABOR but in this case the initiatives that are trying to address wasteful government spending are going about it the wrong way. Ultimately, they will do more devastation than good.” The chamber board ultimately voted to oppose the three measures, as did the Fort Collins and Greeley chambers. [Coloradoan, 9/12/10]

Local Republicans Pledged Opposition to Measures. On September 13, 2010 the Denver Post reported that, “A flood of Republicans at the local government level have pledged their opposition to the initiatives, including more than half of Republican county commissioners in Colorado.” [Denver Post, 9/13/10]

Business sector strongly opposes ballot measures: On September 12, 2010 the Coloradoan reported that “Opponents, including many local business owners, say the measures threaten jobs and could result in a voter-approved recession exacerbating an already slow economic recovery.” [Fort Collins Coloradoan, 09/12/10]

Republican Senator Greg Brophy: Amendments Go Beyond Limited Government. On September 13, 2010 the Denver Post reported on the ballot initiatives that would “slash billions in state and local taxes.”  Republican State Senator Greg Brophy (R-Way) said he couldn’t support the initiatives, saying “I consider myself an advocate of limited government and these could very well go beyond where I’m comfortable.” [Denver Post, 9/13/10]

Markey, Gardner Tied in GOP-Leaning Poll

As The Ft. Collins Coloradoan reports:

Democrat Betsy Markey and Republican Cory Gardner are in a dead heat with less than eight weeks until Election Day, according to a poll released today by the Markey campaign.

The poll is a stark contrast to one released last week by a Republican-affiliated group, which showed Gardner with an 11 point lead.

The Markey campaign poll showed her and Gardner with 38 percent each, independent Ken “Wasko” Waszkiewicz at 5 percent and American Constitution Party candidate Doug Aden at 2 percent. The remaining 17 percent were undecided.

We wrote last week that any poll in CD-4 that does not include all four candidates cannot be considered accurate, and these numbers prove our point (not to mention the most recent U.S. Senate poll in Colorado, which showed the Libertarian candidate getting 5% of the vote). As we said before, CD-4 has a history of voting for third-party candidates, and national trends are showing disgust with both Democrats and Republicans. Third-party candidates are going to play a significant role in 2010 as a “protest vote” option for many voters. We wrote last week that internal polling from both the Markey and Gardner campaigns had shown third-party candidates receiving as much as 12% of the vote when respondents had a choice between all four candidates; the Markey poll has the total third-party vote at 7%, but that’s likely because they sampled a smaller percentage of Unaffiliated voters.

While critics will say that the Markey poll must be biased because it is an internal poll, it’s hard for that argument to get much traction given the significant oversample of Republicans. This poll sampled 50% Republicans and 37% Democrats, compared to 44% Republicans and 36% Democrats in last week’s Republican-ordered poll.  

New CD-4 Poll is Swell…If You Don’t Care About Accuracy

Lost in the hubbub about the Dan Maes for Governor saga was a story about the first public poll in CD-4, which Republicans have breathlessly used to claim that GOP candidate Cory Gardner is going to easily defeat Democratic incumbent Rep. Betsy Markey.

The Fort Collins Coloradoan reported on the poll this morning, blindly restating the polling memo message that Gardner is outpolling Markey 50-39. Sounds bad for Markey, right?

The problem with the poll, done for the newly-formed Republican “think tank” American Action Forum, is that the results are based on a two-person race in CD-4. Of course, there are four candidates in CD-4, including American Constitution Party candidate Doug Aden and Independent candidate Ken “Wasko” Waszkiewicz.

From what we understand, every other internal poll, done either by campaigns or outside groups, has polled on a four-way race, and the results are dramatically different because Aden and “Wasko” combine for as much as 12% of the vote. This isn’t at all surprising, given that Reform Party candidate Eric Eidsness grabbed 11% of the vote in CD-4 in 2006, in a three-way race with Rep. Marilyn Musgrave and Democrat Angie Paccione. Common sense says that Aden and Wasko take the majority of their votes away from Gardner, because they are more closely aligned ideologically to a Republican candidate than a Democrat — and because Markey’s high name ID means that most people have probably made up their minds about her already.

Saying that Gardner is well ahead of Markey in a two-way race is as pointless as those Gubernatorial polls showing that Dan Maes does better against Democrat John Hickenlooper if ACP candidate Tom Tancredo is not in the race. Sure he does. He probably also kicks ass in a poll in which neither Hickenlooper or Tancredo are mentioned. So what? That’s not the makeup of the actual ballot that people will use in six weeks, so none of these hypothetical matchups mean squat. American Action Forum might as well show us how Gardner does in a head-to-head matchup with Aden — that would be equally irrelevant.

If you still don’t believe that this poll is nonsense, consider this: If the NRCC or the Gardner campaign had poll results showing he was ahead of Markey by double digits in a four-way race, they would have fallen all over themselves trying to publicize it. But they don’t have those results. The fact that there has been no poll on this race released by anybody tells us that it is basically a toss-up, because neither Gardner nor Markey have anything to gain from releasing polling numbers to the public.

Who’s Backing Maes?

We’ve gotten a couple of emails on this subject, so we thought we’d put a list together and see if the Pols community could help us fill it out. Which top-ticket Republican candidates (all statewide and congressional seats) have endorsed GOP Gubernatorial candidate Dan Maes, and who has yet to offer their public support?


  • U.S. Senate candidate Ken Buck

  • Rep. Doug Lamborn (CD-5)

  • Rep. Mike Coffman (CD-6)

  • Treasurer candidate Walker Stapleton

  • Attorney General John Suthers

  • Secretary of State candidate Scott Gessler

  • CD-4 candidate Cory Gardner

  • CD-7 candidate Ryan Frazier
  • Help us out, Polsters! Maes’ website doesn’t seem to have an updated list of endorsements, so if you’ve seen one of the candidates in the second list make an endorsement, let us know.

    Wasko Waxes Poetic in CD-4

    Check out the YouTube channel for Ken “Wasko” Waszkiewicz (we’re fairly sure we spelled that correctly), the Independent candidate running for Congress in CD-4. Ken has a bunch of videos online about what he plans to do on a variety of issues. His unemployment video is 6 minutes long, and it’s probably awesome…but we got bored and stopped watching after about 30 seconds. But we did catch this nice observation:

    “Working is one of those necessary things in life, and no matter how much we might dislike our jobs from time to time, we must keep working.”

    Hell, yeah!

    Cory Gardner Just Can’t Help Himself

    Republican Cory Gardner has amazed us here at Colorado Pols for his uncanny ability to commit self-inflicted wounds seemingly every couple of weeks. Just a few weeks after cluelessly attending a fundraiser organized in part by a major lobbyist from British Petroleum, the Gardner campaign sent out an email to supporters touting this fundraiser:

    Honorable Mike Coffman

    Honorable Doug Lamborn

    Cordially Invite You To A Special Luncheon Honoring Cory Gardner

    Republican Candidate – 4th District of Colorado

    Republican Whip – Colorado General Assembly

    Wednesday, July 28th, 2010

    12:00 PM

    Bistro Bis at the Hotel George

    15 E Street NW

    Washington, DC

    Suggested Contribution: $1,000

    Contributions should be made payable to Gardner for Congress and mailed to:  

    Gardner for Congress

    507 Capitol Court NE, #100

    Washington, DC  20002

    To RSVP, Please Contact Steve Gordon or Anne Burnley at (XXX) XXX-XXXX or via email to

    Seems harmless, right?

    The problem is that the return email address is is the home of the lobbying and governmental affairs firm Total Spectrum. In other words, Gardner sent an email touting a fundraiser with the return email address pointing to his name @ a lobbying firm.


    Latest Gardner Bumble Gets National Attention

    Earlier this week we marveled at Republican Cory Gardner’s seemingly endless capacity for self-inflicted wounds, the latest of which was a fundraiser hosted by a BP lobbyist.

    Well, that boneheaded decision ended up getting national media attention that may end up helping his opponent in CD-4, incumbent Rep. Betsy Markey, in raising more money than he could have brought in to make it worth the bad press:

    Cory Gardner is a Ram Handler!!!

    Our friends at Westword have been on a roll this week with their particular brand of political satire. Alan Prendergast has been gleefully deconstructing the “water writings” of GOP gubernatorial candidate Scott McInnis (a story that has been gaining more traction locally after being first reported for months by writer, journalist and Polster Jason Salzman).

    Today, Westword turns its goofy goggles towards Republican Cory Gardner, candidate for congress in CD-4, and asks if Gardner is indeed…a Ram Handler??? We’ll let Westword’s Joel Warner explain:

    Republican congressional candidate Cory Gardner may have a very colorful skeleton in his closet: As a student at Colorado State University, it appears he was an official Ram Handler, one of the chosen few in charge of primping and pimping the school’s official mascot, CAM the Ram.

    If that’s the case, the big question that remains isn’t why did he do such a thing — but instead, why does he now seem to be hiding it?

    I scored the tip a few weeks ago. “Cory Gardner was a ram handler!” whispered an anonymous source, making the words “ram handler” sound as dirty and inappropriate as possible. After I’d recovered from an adolescent fit of giggling, I got down to work with my crack investigative skills — i.e., I Googled it…

    …In other words, not only was Cory a Ram Handler — grooming his fluffy coat, trotting him around at football games, feeding him piles of alfalfa — but he also apparently enjoyed it! DUM-DUM-DUM!

    This is a great send-up of exposing campaign “scandals,” and here’s the payoff:

    I gave this third Gardner campaign worker an ultimatum. Either Gardner called me back within 24 hours or I’d be going public about his apparent shenanigans with a fluffy little friend.

    “Sure, whatever” responded the woman. Clearly she, too, wasn’t taking my threat seriously. Although now they’ll all live to regret it, since nothing is going to stop me from shouting my discovery to the world:

    Cory Gardner was a ram handler!

    Not as if there’s anything wrong with that.

    Cory Gardner as Politically Tone-Deaf as They Come

    We’ve marveled repeatedly at Republican Cory Gardner’s incredible “talent” for self-inflicted political wounds, but the depth of his deafness on sensitive political issues is really becoming fascinating.

    Last week, you’ll recall, Gardner had to scramble to un-invite Iowa Rep. Steve King from a fundraiser for his Congressional campaign in CD-4 after figuring out that King wasn’t exactly a great messenger for a General Election voter. But no sooner had the flames started to die out from King’s visit to Northern Colorado (in which he called Gardner “spineless“) than a new target emerged. From the blog Political Party Time comes this tidbit:

    On Thursday, June 24, Dan Meyer, a lobbyist for BP, is listed as one of several hosts for a Thursday $1,000-a-plate luncheon at the boutique Hotel George in downtown Washington. Meyer, who’s with the Duberstein Group,  was the Assistant to the President for Legislative Affairs under George W. Bush in 2007-2008.

    The fundraiser will benefit Colorado candidate Cory Gardner, who is in a tight race with incumbent Betsy Markey, D, Colo.

    Amidst the biggest oil spill in US history, a series of public relations foibles, and public outrage against BP, the company’s lobbyists are continuing to work the Washington circuit.

    Good Gravy, Gardner! Are you high? Why on earth would you even want to be in the same room as a BP lobbyist right now, let alone attending a fundraiser with a BP lobbyist listed as a main sponsor?! Even the staunchest Gardner supporter has to be a little worried by his amazing ability to trip over his own feet over…and over…and over again.

    Cory Gardner’s Revealing Website!

    UPDATE: They’ve pulled the offending part of the signup form down now, but not before it was saved for posterity fairly widely we’re told. And no, please don’t post all 4,920 names here, that would really clutter up this thread.

    Up next, we would assume, will be a carefully-worded statement about how the Gardner campaign takes your privacy seriously, your credit card information is secure if you donated online, really, we swear…

    And if we can toot our own horn for a moment–we’re not Colorado’s most widely read and discussed political website for nothing. About 30 minutes after this post went up, the Gardner campaign made the change. If you follow Colorado politics, no matter your political affiliation, then you follow Colorado Pols.


    Republican Cory Gardner is easily the Colorado king of the self-inflicted wound among all candidates running for office in 2010. It seems that hardly a week goes by without another major gaffe committed by his campaign. Sometimes (today for example) nary a day goes by before another screwup emerges.

    And here’s the afternoon edition: want to know who’s on CD-4 candidate Cory Gardner’s email list? We’re going to take a wild stab in the dark and guess that he doesn’t want you to know with any kind of specificity, but we were surprised to discover a short while ago that we can give you a number: 4,920.

    And because Gardner’s campaign website is apparently about as safe as an offshore oil rig, we can give you names, too:

    That’s the signup page for Gardner’s website. If you click on the “title” drop-down field on this page, you do get the expected selections of “Mr.,” “Ms.,” etc.–and somewhere around 4,920 first and last names. These are presumably the full contents of Gardner’s email database, information which–in terms of numbers as well as the names themselves–his opponents are glad to have. It’s not like a simple list of names represents an identity theft threat or anything, any more than a phone book does, but it’s just so marvelously stupid. Counterproductive, too–voter file match, anyone?

    We could assume that it is safe to do other things, like making a donation, through Gardner’s website, but really, who wants to make that assumption after seeing this screw-up online? In fact, we’re going to go out on a limb here and guess that there aren’t going to be a lot of people entering any information on his website any time soon after this word gets out.

    And yes, this is your cue: should probably go ahead and fix that.

    Cory Gardner Throws Michael Steele Under the Wheels

    THURSDAY UPDATE: A true-life case of biting the hand that feeds you, says the Colorado Independent:

    State Rep and 4th District Congressional candidate Cory Gardner dissed Republican National Committee Chairman Michel Steele at a Fort Collins 9/12 group last week. Gardner told locals asking for the controversial Chairman’s head to call Party leaders and complain. “It’s happening” he said, meaning there was a move on to can Steele, a prodigious fundraiser but also a flash-point kind of figure, who spends extravagantly on himself and has taken heat lately for allowing RNC officials to treat young big donors to strip-club outings.

    Yet Gardner has benefited enormously from the support of the National Republican Congressional Committee, which early in the race named him to its “Young Guns” program and has been key in Gardner’s impressive fundraising totals all year. Turns out Steele’s Republican National Committee and the National Republican Congressional Committee set up a joint fundraising committee this month that will pool donor lists and inject mega cash into key House races, like the one between Gardner and Democrat Betsy Markey.

    After all the effort and credibility Colorado GOP chairman Dick Wadhams has put into defending Republican National Committee chair Michael Steele lately, it’s got to be tough to watch CD-4 candidate Cory Gardner — fast becoming the undisputed king of self-inflicted wounds — casually throw Steele to the “Tea Party” lions. Here’s a transcript of what you’re listening to above, recorded at a “9/12 Movement” candidate forum in Fort Collins last week:

    9/12 Audience Member: How can we get rid of Michael Steele? I’d like to get rid of him.

    Cory Gardner: You know, I think it’s happening.

    9/12 Audience Member: I’ve sent two letters.

    Cory Gardner: You know what, I think we have. [Pols emphasis] Call up Mark Hillman and Lilly Nunez, our national party committeeman and woman who make the decisions. Neither Lilly nor Hillman voted for him to be chairman. So don’t blame them. Mark Hillman and Lilly Nunez, our national committeeman and national committeewoman.

    Gardner might want to go ahead and give Dick Wadhams a call to mend fences–there’s a difference between idly joining the bandwagon (“Birther” flirtations) and saying things that might actually jeopardize relationships. Then again, maybe Wadhams isn’t the one Gardner needs to call, as Dick’s a big boy and the discussion did turn inevitably to Jane Norton’s Referendum C…

    Cory Gardner: Well, Referendum C. Remember in 2005, Referendum C was a measure that was sent to the voters. And it asked voters whether they wanted to take a “5 year time out” from TABOR. Meaning that the state would get to keep all excess funds and tax revenue and they wouldn’t refund it us. When the legislature referred, and I was not in the legislature at the time, if I was I would have voted no…

    Because, you know, letting the voters vote on tax increases is, uh, not what TABOR is about. How do they keep these talking points straight, anyway? You’re right, though, Gardner won’t need to call Norton, because Norton’s defensive tackle Josh Penry has already got this on his calendar. Or maybe the plan is for Gardner and Norton to never appear together on the same stage? We suppose they can try just try glossing over this little difference of opinion when they do, but the 9/12ers might not find that very believable.

    Big Line Updated

    The Big Line has been updated now that Democrat Andrew Romanoff’s fundraising numbers for Q1 have been reported.

    The biggest changes are on The Line are for Senate, Attorney General and CD-4…


    This race has really come down to three people now: Sen. Michael Bennet for the Democrats and Jane Norton and Ken Buck on the Republican side.

    Bennet is raising as much money, if not more, as anyone else in the country and has already put four ads up on television. Democrat Andrew Romanoff had a weak Q1 in fundraising, but more importantly, he only added about $23,000 to his total warchest after spending most of the $385,000 he raised.

    Romanoff is just out of time now. He’s got $500k in the bank, but most of that will be spent on general campaign operations in the next 3-4 months. That means that he needs to raise at least a million dollars in the next three months to be able to afford a strong TV presence opposite Bennet. Even the staunchest Romanoff supporter can’t be optimistic about the chances of that happening.

    As for the Republicans, Norton is the only one of the three candidates who is raising real money. Buck is getting hundreds of thousands of dollars in outside interest group money running ads on his behalf, so that has to be factored into his total ability to raise his profile. Tom Wiens, meanwhile, hasn’t been able to raise much money from people not named Tom Wiens, and he’s going to have to make a decision in the next month or two about what to do with the $500k he has “loaned” to his campaign; does he stay in the race and spend that cash, or pull out and refund his loan to himself?


    A few weeks ago incumbent Republican John Suthers looked like a lock for re-election. But then he went and got involved in the health care reform lawsuit, and as a result he now has a serious Democratic challenger in Boulder County D.A. Stan Garnett. Suthers is as dull a politician as you will find, and Garnett has the ability to raise a lot of money in a very short time. At the very least, this race is now a tossup.


    Republican Cory Gardner had a good Q1 in fundraising, and the rest of the GOP field seems to have disintegrated. Gardner surely can’t wait for the legislative session to end so that he can stop having to take so many absences to head off to fundraise elsewhere. Meanwhile, Democratic Rep. Betsy Markey had another strong fundraising quarter and continues to do just about everything right. This race is going to get tighter, but we still give Markey the edge.

    Gardner Campaign Source of Diggs Brown Blunder?

    Yesterday Bob Moore of the Ft. Collins Coloradoan posted a diary here on Colorado Pols about his Coloradoan story debunking wild attacks on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi that came from CD-4 Republican candidate Diggs Brown.

    Moore’s story does not say who exactly provided the audiotape of Brown’s Pelosi-bashing, but in the comments section on the Coloradoan website, that answer seems clear:

    Campaign workers for Cory Gardner set-up a camera to record opponent Diggs Brown at the Friday Feb 19 meeting of the CO Republican Business Coalition (CRBC). I specifically asked them not to record the meeting, as CRBC tries to create an atmosphere where policy makers and candidates may speak candidly, without fear that a comment may be misused. It’s an insult to me personally and a violation of trust that they probably did so anyway in a surreptitious manner.

    Clearly, Mr. Brown misspoke about Speaker Pelosi’s use of military aircraft and liquor expenses. To make an entire “gotcha” story around one wrong comment does both a disservice to the Gardner campaign by looking petty and to the voters who want to know about a candidate’s policy ideas.

    By policy, CRBC does not endorse candidates in a Republican primary. Tom Lucero and Cory Gardner have already spoken to our group of small business owners.

    Christine Burtt


    CO Republican Business Coaliion

    2/22/2010 2:33:30 PM

    Apparently it was the campaign of serial foot-shooter Cory Gardner who provided the tape, and also made the recording despite the admonitions of Christine Burtt of the Colorado Republican Business Coalition. That revelation begs a couple of questions, but the main one is this: How worried are they about Diggs Brown? While Gardner is the only GOP candidate raising any real money in this race, do they have internal poll number showing that Brown is a real threat?

    Gardner AWOL on “Military Appreciation Day?”

    UPDATE: More on Gardner’s absence from The Coloradoan, which is particularly notable for the bungling way this was handled by his campaign:

    Gardner spokesman Mike Ciletti declined to identify who Gardner met with Monday. The Yuma Republican’s absence was first reported by the Denver Post.

    “Cory was meeting with individuals who have an interest in Colorado’s economy and politics,” Ciletti said. “He was meeting with them to introduce himself and let them know there is a fiscally conservative option to Betsy Markey.”…

    …Ciletti dismissed criticism from “Democrats who seek to politicize everything to hide their failings.”

    He didn’t respond to a question about how many legislative days Gardner would miss for campaign business. [Pols emphasis] Gardner is the minority whip, the No. 4 position in the Republican House leadership.

    Gardner’s spokesman didn’t respond to a question about how many days Gardner would miss in the legislature to campaign for Congress instead. Well, here’s a free tip for the Gardner campaign: The answer should be “none.” This isn’t rocket surgery — you don’t go missing a bunch of days in an already short legislative session, when you are in the GOP leadership, because you have something else you’d rather be doing. That doesn’t play well with voters that you’ll need to get elected to Congress, geniuses. And why does Gardner himself have to go to D.C.? Can’t his campaign manager handle it?

    The Denver Post’s Lynn Bartels writes for The Spot:

    State Rep. Cory Gardner missed Military Appreciation Day at the Capitol because he was in Washington for his congressional campaign, a move Democrats blasted.

    Rep. Nancy Todd, D-Aurora, a key organizer of Military Appreciation Day, was shocked that Gardner missed the event.

    “Today was also 4-H Day and Rep. Gardner represents such a rural district,” she said. “We’re elected to be here. If he wants to run his campaign, he should resign.”

    …Michael Huttner, founded of the liberal group ProgressNow Colorado, said if a Democrat had missed Military Appreciation Day for D.C. campaign events, Republicans would be “going nuts.”

    “It’s a slap in the face to the men and women in uniform for Gardner to put his personal ambition ahead of his current job of serving his constitutents,” Huttner said.

    Said Pat Waak, chairwoman of the Colorado Democratic Party: “Rep. Cory Gardner needs to decide whether he is going to represent the voters on the Eastern Plains of Colorado, including veterans and their families, who elected him, or pursue his own personal interests in a different office to which he has not been elected.”

    “His constituents should be outraged,” she said.

    It’s not a huge deal by itself, but Cory Gardner really doesn’t want the impression that he’s neglecting his district to run for Congress to become generally held. That’s always the rub as a legislator seeking higher office, of course, but smart candidates find ways to schedule around obvious ‘gotcha’ opportunities like “Military Appreciation Day.” This is another self-inflicted wound from Gardner, opening himself up, needlessly, to an attack that will no doubt resurface in the primary.

    And yes, Dick Wadhams would have a field day with this if Gardner’s name ended in (D).

    Pols Poll 2: CD-4

    As always, please vote based on what you think will happen, not on who you would vote for or which candidate you support personally. Think of it this way: If you had to bet the deed to your house, who would you pick?

    Who Will Be Elected to Congress in CD-4 in 2010?

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    Pols Poll: CD-4

    As we’ve done in other election years, we regularly poll our readers on various races to gauge changing perceptions. These obviously aren’t scientific polls, but they do help to show how the perception of various candidates are changing. We’ll conduct these polls each month and then show the results to see how the winds are shifting.

    As always, please vote based on what you think will happen, not on who you would vote for or which candidate you support personally. Think of it this way: If you had to bet the deed to your house, who would you pick?

    Thus far this is the only congressional race that appears to be headed toward a competitive race, so we won’t poll on other races unless or until a stronger race appears.

    Who Will Be Elected to Congress in CD-4 in 2010?

    View Results

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    Should Gardner, Penry Resign To Campaign?

    The Pueblo Chieftain asks the next logical question:

    During the final two days of last week, after the 120-day session ended on Wednesday, lawmakers were busy clearing their desks, some for the last time.

    Senate President Peter Groff, D-Denver, Sen. Jennifer Veiga, D-Denver, Rep. Gwyn Green, D-Golden, have all announced their resignations for one reason or another. Longtime Sen. Jim Isgar, D-Hesperus, too, may be leaving for a post with the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

    It’s also unknown whether Rep. Cory Gardner, R-Yuma, or Senate Minority Leader Josh Penry, R-Fruita, will return next session. Late last week, Gardner announced his bid to run for Congress in an attempt to unseat Democratic U.S. Rep. Betsy Markey. He may chose not to return next year because it would take time away from his primary battle with Tom Lucero for the Republican nomination during the summer of 2010.

    Penry may run for the GOP nomination for governor against former U.S. Rep. Scott McInnis. Because state lawmakers are barred by law from accepting campaign contributions when the Legislature is in session, Penry may decide to step down before the 2010 session next winter…

    It’s a tough question for legislators aspiring to higher office, particularly given fundraising restrictions on them during the 2010 session: a critical time for both building name ID, which being in the legislature helps, and raising the cash they need to run–which obviously isn’t helped. It can help signal commitment to the race, though, useful in the primaries both candidates anticipate.

    Perhaps the question shouldn’t be should they resign, but do they both need to resign in order to be competitive in larger races. Of the two candidates, Gardner is the one who probably has the greater need to resign. Penry can at least keep himself in the spotlight thanks to his Senate Minority Leader post, and most of the money spent in any statewide race comes from 527 committees – money that will be raised for Penry’s gubernatorial hopes without his input. As for Gardner, he faces a larger primary field, and he doesn’t get that much benefit out of being a minority state representative anyway.

    A poll of the question as it specifically relates to Gardner and Penry follows.

    Should Cory Gardner and Josh Penry resign their present offices to focus on their upcoming campaigns?

    View Results

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    Polling Shows No Favorite Among GOP in CD-4

    Polling recently completed by Magellan Strategies in CD-4 finds that no potential Republican challenger to Democratic Rep. Betsy Markey has an advantage at this point:

    The ballot test of potential candidates revealed State Rep. Cory Gardner (18%) with a 6 point lead over former Weld County Commissioner Bill Jerke (12%), UC Regent Tom Lucero (11%), and Fort Collins Councilmember Diggs Brown (11%). Forty eight percent of respondents were undecided.

    The ballot test by region shows significant differences that reflect the local support of each candidate.

    Among Larimer County Republican primary voters, Diggs Brown leads with 19%, followed by Tom Lucero

    with 15%, Bill Jerke with 6% and Cory Gardner with 4%. Among Weld County Republican primary voters, Bill Jerke leads with 34%, followed by Cory Gardner with 9%, Tom Lucero with 8% and Diggs Brown with 6%. Among the 15 counties within the district that do not include Larimer, Weld and Boulder counties, Cory Gardner has a significant lead with 58% of the vote, followed by Tom Lucero with 7%, Bill Jerke with 4% and Diggs Brown with 3%.

    Among voters 65 and older, the largest voting sub group of Republican primary voters (43%), the ballot test is a virtual tie. Among this sub group Cory Gardner and Diggs Brown are tied with 14%, followed by Tom Lucero and Bill Jerke with 13%.

    The image ratings of the potential candidates are as expected considering the early nature of the race. Tom Lucero’s image rating is 10 FAV/18 UNFAV, Cory Gardner’s image rating is 20 FAV/9 UNFAV, Bill Jerke’s rating is 13 FAV/11 UNFAV, and Diggs Brown image rating is 14 FAV/9 UNFAV.

    While this is still really early, what is interesting here is that longtime golden boy Cory Gardner does not have the advantage that many in the GOP might have expected. In fact, other candidates are much stronger in areas of the district with the highest number of voters, which is not good news for Gardner.

    Slow Political Death for Penry, Gardner Continues

    We wrote in July that Republican State Sen. Josh Penry and Republican Rep. Cory Gardner may have sealed their political doom with an idiotic plan to divert oil and gas severance tax money to a small piece of highway improvements on I-70.

    That slow death continued over the weekend when the influential conservative group Club 20 voted to oppose Amendment 52. As the Grand Junction Sentinel reports:

    Backers of a measure to reshuffle severance-tax money to improve roads started the Club 20 fall debates with the organization’s support.

    The organization, though, changed its mind late Saturday afternoon and voted to oppose Amendment 52, the “Better Roads Now” measure.

    The amendment would cap existing severance tax funding for the Department of Natural Resources at the 2007-08 level and divert additional revenue to roads. Opponents said the measure didn’t belong in the Constitution.

    Jim Lochhead, a former director of the Department of Natural Resources, called it a “constitutional earmark.”…

    …Club 20 is backing a measure that would make it more difficult to amend the constitution, and board members were uncomfortable with doing that while supporting an amendment, Executive Director Reeves Brown said.

    Club 20 also supported the measure knowing it would direct more money to the east.

    Opposition on both counts “resonated with the board,” which reversed its support, he said…

    …Colorado also needs $2.7 billion for water projects, and the measure would divert money from those needs, Lochhead said.

    Why is this such a big deal for Penry and Gardner? Because it reminds us a lot of the ill-fated Referendum A that essentially ended the political careers of other Republican rising stars. Club 20 is basically Penry’s base, and even they think his idea is stupid.

    The Political Death of Josh Penry and Cory Gardner

    We wrote earlier this week about Republican Sen. Josh Penry’s bizarre comments about his plan to divert state money to speed up a section of I-70 in his district. Penry’s quote basically amounted to saying that he thinks voters would prefer to see an improved I-70 than to preserve their water resources.

    The plan devised by Penry and fellow “wunderkind” Cory Gardner is basically an “earmark,” which is something that is normally reserved for members of congress and less often seen by state legislators. Whether it passes or fails – and it’s almost certainly going to fail – Penry and Gardner just irrevocably damaged their future political careers. For a quick primer, see how The Denver Post rips into their idea today:

    Coloradans deserve reasonable solutions to our state’s transportation problems.

    Instead, we’re left with either nothing, which has been the governor’s plan the past two years, or schemes, including this latest Republican plan that actually drains funds from Colorado water projects into a single pork-barrel project on Interstate 70. [Pols emphasis]

    Yes, politicians who long promoted urban sprawl with the slogan “Drive until you qualify” (for a home loan) are now telling our embattled motorists to “Drive until you die of thirst.”

    Unfortunately, the initiative’s sponsors, Republican state Reps. Cory Gardner of Yuma and Frank McNulty of Highlands Ranch, as well as the usually sensible Sen. Josh Penry of Grand Junction, already have turned in their petitions to the Colorado secretary of state. That office has not yet certified whether they met the necessary legal requirements.

    We hope they fall short. But if Initiative 120 does make the ballot, we urge Coloradans to crush this return to the 19th century pork-barrel politics that once disgraced the Colorado legislature’s handling of state highway funds. [Pols emphasis]

    In the bad old days, the legislature appropriated state highway funds with the same gay abandon Congress still does with federal highway funds – building bridges and roads to nowhere in home districts of powerful politicians while more pressing needs elsewhere were neglected.

    Voters rebelled against that corrupt system and in 1952 created a state Highway Commission to fairly allocate road and bridge funds. The system has worked so well that, with minor changes, it is still operating today on a broader stage as the state Transportation Commission.

    Now, Initiative 120’s backers want to bypass our constitution by earmarking new severance tax revenues to a single highway project in their districts. This is a doubly dumb idea. First, as earlier noted, it would actually rob money now earmarked for water needs to highway projects. Second, and worst of all, it would open up the highway fund to similar pork-barrel raids in the future.

    This is a monumentally stupid idea, and Penry has only made it worse by making monumentally stupid quotes to follow it up. Penry and Gardner have long been touted as the GOP’s next great leaders, and both have been biding their time waiting for a bigger seat to open up. Penry’s rise has been delayed in part by John Salazar’s entrenched position in CD-3, while Gardner has faced the same problem with Marilyn Musgrave in CD-4. But neither may have much of a future after this debacle.

    It wasn’t long ago that the disastrous Referendum A, otherwise known as the “steal the Western Slope’s water” plan, permanently damaged Republican bigwigs who unwisely supported it. But this idiotic creation from Penry and Gardner not only potentially harms water supplies, it opens them up to forever being labeled “pork barrel” legislators.

    Neither Penry not Gardner can claim to be fiscal conservatives after this — not when they are willing to mortgage the future in a poor economic environment just to make some road improvements that only directly affect a small population. But perhaps most harmful is the “pork barrel” label that both will now be eternally stuck with. Colorado has a lean budget, and both of these boneheads thought it would be a good idea to start making earmarks??? And for what? To say that they made I-70 run a little faster?

    Perhaps Penry and Gardner have been “rising stars” for so long that, to quote George Costanza, “they flew too close to the sun on wings of pastrami.” They may both look back on this fall as the year that they lost any future chance at higher office.

    Republicans Look Ahead to November

    Seen and heard at last weekend’s Republican State Convention (we meant to post this on Monday, but forgot)…

  • Republicans feel that the most likely legislative seat to be picked up in November is the one held by Rep. Wes McKinley. Republicans recruited a very popular Hispanic County Commissioner, Ken Torres, to challenge McKinley. It also doesn’t help McKinley that an odd Colorado Ethics Watch report called him one of Colorado’s Most Corrupt Public Officials, even though his only crime was some minor campaign finance reporting errors.
  • State Sen. Shawn Mitchell has been busy building a team to propel him into the legislative leadership ranks, but he may have overlooked his own vulnerability. Mitchell helped recruit a strong challenger against Sen. Brandon Shaffer and solid candidates for the open seats of Sue Windels and Stephanie Takis , as well as a challenger to Rep. Dianne Primavera.

    But the GOP’s own internal polls have Mitchell trailing against his Democratic opponent, Joe Whitcomb. Despite Mitchell’s years of service in the legislature, his name ID is not strong, and the fact that he trails this early in the race has Republicans bracing for a Mitchell loss.

  • Republicans are confident of taking back SD-19 now that Windels is term-limited. They are privately touting an audit of State Board of Education expenses requested by Joint Budget Committee member, Sen. Steve Johnson, as a silver bullet in this race (Democratic candidate Evie Hudak is a current BOE member).
  • Congresswoman Marilyn Musgrave was a dead woman walking on Saturday. Supporters of Weld County District Attorney Ken Buck, as well as Rep. Cory Gardner, were telling delegates that should Musgrave lose to Democrat Betsy Markey this November, they will both immediately announce their candidacies. Both were privately telling delegates that Musgrave is a lost cause.