Wadhams Named Chief Political Advisor to Hickenlooper

Former State Republican Party Chair Dick Wadhams wasn’t unemployed for long. According to a stunning press release sent out this morning, Wadhams has been named Deputy Political Advisor to Governor John Hickenlooper. A press conference has been scheduled for this afternoon, but as the release explains:

The office of Gov. John Hickenlooper today announced that former Republican Party Chair Dick Wadhams has been appointed as Deputy Political Advisor to the Governor.

“The Governor feels strongly about his bipartisan credentials,” said Alan Salazar, the Governor’s chief policy and political director. “There’s no better way to show that you don’t favor one political party over the other than to hire someone who is truly disliked by both political parties.”

Earlier this year Wadhams announced that he would not run for re-election to a third term as State Republican Party Chair. Last Saturday he was formally replaced when Republicans elected Ryan Call to become their new Party Chair.

“I think the Governor was concerned that too many people looked at him as a Democrat,” said Wadhams. “He’s not a Republican by any means, but my job is about making sure that nobody ever really understands which political party the Governor favors. The Governor has already done a good job of making that unclear, and I’m confident that I can continue to keep those waters murky.”

More after the jump…

April Fool’s, Polsters!

Harvey vs. Wadhams, Anyone?

UPDATE: Bartels revises her initial report–Sen. Ted Harvey now says he will indeed resign his Senate seat if elected GOP chairman.


That’s the word from Lynn Bartels at the Denver paper’s blog: state Sen. Ted Harvey of Highlands Ranch announced today that he will challenge Colorado GOP chairman Dick Wadhams for his well-paid position at party leadership elections in March. Sen. Harvey has worked in recent years to raise his profile among party activists at all levels; from helping his fellow legislators on campaigns, to a prominent role in ousting the Douglas County School Board in 2009.

Harvey is not required to resign his Senate seat should he defeat Wadhams; we could see that working in his favor when it comes time for GOP activists to chart their course due to his hands-on experience. Or, just like they whispered about Wadhams’ taking on additional responsibilities while serving as chairman…it could work against him.

Bottom line? We’re not as sure that Sen. Harvey represents the kind of risk to Wadhams that other Republican possibilities discussed in recent weeks likely would if they got in the race, but Harvey is going to pose a real challenge. Harvey is a credible enough figure to mount a successful campaign, and he has a couple of things going for him:

For one thing, Harvey is likely to receive the support of most GOP elected officials, which matters because they all have a vote in the decision (remember, it’s not just those county chairs and other locally-elected insiders who get to vote on this). The other advantage for Harvey is one that a lot of Republicans we know are seeking above everything else–his name isn’t Dick Wadhams.

When we wrote earlier this month about Wadhams’ decision to run for re-election, we noted that it was likely that Wadhams would not have announced a bid unless he already knew what the result might be. We’ve since learned that we were perhaps giving Wadhams too much credit; there’s a very strong opinion in high-level GOP circles that Wadhams is running for re-election because he has no place else to go. If that’s the case, the Harvey-Wadhams showdown could be a heck of a lot of fun to watch.

Wadhams Rides Again?

As the Colorado Statesman’s Ernest Luning reports:

“I want to serve as state chairman during the 2012 election cycle because of the extraordinary opportunities Colorado Republicans have to dramatically impact our state and nation,” Wadhams said in a lengthy e-mail to state Republicans.

Republicans will pick a party chair in March, but lingering discontent among party faithful could make a bid for another two-year term difficult for Wadhams, who cruised to re-election two years ago with 85 percent of the vote against two little-known challengers…

The only announced candidates opposing Wadhams so far are John Wagner, who ran the hapless campaign of Republican U.S. Senate hopeful Cleve Tidwell, and recent Colorado transplant Bart Baron, who ran for Congress in Michigan. But conservatives and Tea Party supporters have promised to field a challenger up to the task of knocking down Wadhams, a fixture in state politics for decades.

There is Tom Wiens, Luning continues, and late last month there was some talk of Denver GOP attorney Ryan Call taking a shot at the well-paid position. We haven’t heard about any more about Call one way or the other, but we still think he would make a formidable chairman of the state Republican party–certainly more so than Wadhams, who, as we’ve discussed in this space repeatedly, could be the most underperforming (relative to the opportunity) and divisive chairman of the Colorado Republican Party who has ever held the job. The numbers speak for themselves, as we wrote after the November election:

The Chair of the State Republican Party will complete his fourth year in the position in early 2011. Here’s how Republicans have fared during his watch:

  • Governor: 0-for-1

  • U.S. Senate: 0-for-2

  • Congressional Races: 6-for-14 (CD5 & CD6 twice, CD3 and CD4 once)

  • Treasurer, Attorney General, Secretary of State: 3-for-3

  • State Senate Control: 0-for-2

  • State House Control: 1-for-2 (by a one-vote margin)
  • Those numbers are all the more interesting given the historic Republican advantage that GOP candidates enjoyed in 2010. All things being equal, Wadhams record isn’t very good; when you consider that Republicans had a very real natural advantage in 2010, that record looks even worse.

    On the other hand, it’s just as likely that for all his flaws, Wadhams has the whole thing sewn up backroom-style, and that’s why he’s willing to announce his intention to “run” to begin with. Wadhams hasn’t forecast well in Colorado of late, but we find it hard to believe that he’d run for re-election without having a pretty good idea of the outcome.

    kS O PpeM x

    Will Colorado Republicans Support Steele for RNC Chair?

    As our friends at “The Fix” explain:

    Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele’s announcement Monday that he will seek a second term as chairman of the committee stunned the political world and left strategists scrambling to assess the impact he could have on the contest.

    Steele, in a detailed statement released last night announcing his intentions, sought to claim credit for Republican gains at the ballot box in November and insisted his job was only half done…

    …While Steele’s stridency to prove his naysayers wrong is without question, his ability to win the race is far less clear. Sources knowledgeable about the alliances of the 168 members of the RNC estimate the chairman’s support at roughly 40-50 votes — roughly half of those he would need to claim a second term.

    How Steele plans to build beyond that base — and whether he can — remains to be seen but it’s hard to see his reelection campaign succeeding, particularly given the forces lined up against him and with other candidates.

    The current favorite, in fact, seems to be Wisconsin Republican party chairman Reince Priebus who managed Steele’s 2009 RNC campaign. Priebus has been gathering support from committee members formerly loyal to Steele.

    The performance of Steele was a recurring topic among Colorado Republicans in advance of last August’s Primary, especially after reports of lavish spending emerged in the spring. Colorado Republican Party Chair Dick Wadhams has tentatively supported Steele both recently and during a summer visit. Other Colorado Republicans have been less supportive, including Rep.-elect Cory Gardner, who tossed Steele to the Tea Party wolves in April.

    Should State Party Vet Candidates for Office?

    A recent series of excellent interviews in The Colorado Statesman (which the paper calls “InnerViews”) revealed some stark differences between Democratic Party Chair Pat Waak and Republican Party Chair Dick Wadhams, including their disagreement over the role of the State Party in “vetting” candidates for public office.

    Waak believes that it is the Democratic Party’s responsibility to vet candidates for office (making sure they can run an effective campaign, checking for any public problems in their past, etc.). Wadhams, in contrast, does not think the Republican Party should be involved in vetting.

    You can read what both Waak and Wadhams said to the Statesman about candidate vetting after the jump, but deciding whether a Party should “vet” candidates probably depends as much on your interpretation of “vetting” as anything else.

    There’s a difference between looking at a candidate’s background, for instance, (which would have helped prevent so many legislative candidates with criminal records and actively trying to prevent a candidate from running. In our view, somebody from the State Party should be doing some sort of background check on candidates while having a conversation with them about what it takes to run a successful campaign (which can help prevent candidates who realize too late that they don’t actually want to run). There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that approach, and if a Party Chair ends up talking someone out of running with the facts in-hand, that’s probably for the best.

    The difference, however, is in how far a Chair goes after that discussion. If someone decides that they are going to run for office, no matter what and despite the facts presented, then the Chair should step aside at that point. “Vetting” should be something of a strong advisory role, without delving into anything more complicated.

    What do you think? Poll follows…


    CS: In terms of your role as state chair, one of the things that your Republican counterpart talks about is, it’s not his job to vet candidates.

    PW: I disagree with that.

    CS: Can you talk a little bit about that? How does that work?

    PW: I have a different focus on that and that doesn’t mean that you’re always successful (laughs). But I have, actually, a process. If a candidate comes, if someone comes to me and says, “I want to run for public office,” and they usually have picked their office, I am amazed – and I’ve said this repeatedly from the beginning – the number of people who wake up one morning and decide they want to be a U.S. senator or a member of Congress.

    And so, to me, the process first starts with intention, which is, you sit down and say, “Why? Why do you want to run for office? What is the passion that gets you up out of bed every morning?” Because you need to be running for the right reasons – because authenticity is important and for people out there to know that you’re really a serious candidate, they need to know that you are fueled by something that you care about deeply and they care about. And it also is that energy, because it’s a grueling process. It’s not just about getting your picture taken with the governor or the president or something, it is the process of lawmaking. So there’s that intention process.

    The second is, what is there in your background that could possibly embarrass you? I was told years and years and years ago, “Go do opposition research on yourself.” Is there anything out there? And we do now, in the state party, do oppositions research on all of our candidates, as of a few years ago, because we ran into a problem with a candidate that we didn’t do that on. So we really look into people’s backgrounds for the most part and counsel them on that.

    And then, “What is your network?” Who are the people who are going to be out there to support you when you do this? This is before you even get into the party process and build your constituency. But, do you belong to the PTA or the Rotary Club or you’re a former Peace Corps volunteer or any of these things? What are those pieces that are going to be the support system for you to begin to raise money, to build a campaign organization? What’s your history with the party? Because if you’re going to walk into even a vacancy committee and think that you’re going to be the nominee when the woman sitting next to you has been a precinct worker and a party officer and has paid their dues. And, have you ever done fundraising? Do you have any concept of what it’s like to raise money and what’s involved? What are the issues and where you stand?

    So it’s a whole process you go through. And then I think the responsibility of the chair person, if it’s the chair who’s doing this, which I feel it should be, is to say, “You know, you’re a really great person but here’s my recommendation: Why don’t you start by running for city council, because you’ve got this network out here. Or why don’t you start by getting yourself known in your party by being a precinct chair or working at the precinct level and building your way up? Or why don’t you, instead of running for U.S. Senate, run for this House district because there’s nobody out there running for it?” Can you always convince everyone not to get in? In one congressional district one year, I talked six people out of running.


    Those who want us to vet candidates are asking for me or a small group of people to ultimately be the gatekeepers to who could get into the process and run. It’s nonsensical. A year ago I was having the hell beat out of me –

    CS: – because they thought you were doing that –

    DW: Because they thought I was playing kingmaker and recruiting Jane Norton to run or trying to – this conspiracy theory about Josh Penry – and the fact that neither one of those were true. But you know, “Back off, we don’t want -”

    And so here I am a year later, “Well Wadhams, why didn’t you do something about this? Why weren’t you vetting candidates?” I mean, it’s nonsensical. You can’t have it both ways. It’s either one or the other. Either you have a totally open and fair process that anybody can compete in, or you have this vetting process where you screen candidates.

    I had a very well intentioned gentleman walk in the other day – I won’t tell you who it was because I don’t want to embarrass him – but he came in, and he’s a very nice man, but he came and said, totally sincere, “Dick, we need to appoint a committee to vet candidates before they can run.” And so I said, “Okay,” I decided to play along. So I said, “Okay, who would be on this committee?”

    “Well, I think we need somebody from the Arapahoe Men’s Club and then somebody from the North Jeffco Republican Club,” and he mentioned a couple of others.

    And I said, “Okay, well that’s great.” I said, “Well let me ask you this: What about the Baca County Republican Central Committee? I mean those are very fine Republicans in the corner of southeastern Colorado. What about them? Should they not have a voice on this committee?”

    “Okay, that would be fine, we can put one of them on.”

    “Okay, good, good. Well how about the Moffat County Central Committee up in extreme northwestern Colorado?”

    “Well yeah, that would be okay.”

    “Well, since we’re going to have those two counties, why not the other 62 counties? Don’t they get somebody on that committee?”

    “Well, the committee’s – That’s just getting too big.”

    And I said, “That’s precisely the point I’m trying to make.” I said, “Who just…”

    CS: Who decides?

    DW: “Who decides? And then why should we pick some – Why is the Arapahoe Men’s Club more special than the Pueblo County Republican Central Committee?”

    “Well, Dick, well… I don’t know, I guess I need to think about this more.”

    And I said, “Okay, well think about that part more, but let me ask you this question: What will be the criteria for our vetting process? Will it be professional, will it be political, will it be moral?”

    CS: Years of service to the party?

    DW: Exactly. I said, “Just who – what guidelines, what rules are we going to follow?” I said, “And let me throw this at you. My friend Walker Stapleton who by that time had won,” I said, “You know, that DUI came out that he had 20 years ago – should a vetting committee, if they knew that, should they have said, ‘Walker, you cannot run with a DUI because that would be giving an issue to Cary Kennedy,’?” Which she tried to exploit, she failed, but he won.

    “Oh no, that was 20 years ago.”

    “Well, how about what if it was only 10 years ago? What if it was only five years ago? Do we allow one DUI but if you have two DUIs you can’t run?” [Ed. note: Stapleton was arrested and ultimately pleaded guilty on DUI charges in San Francisco in 1999.]

    And his head was spinning. And I said, “I’m not trying to be confrontational with you, but this is the problem with a vetting committee. Who serves on it, what the criteria is.” I said, “You know what the vetting process should be? A rigorous, open and fair nomination process that over almost a year’s time candidates run around the state and they campaign hard and in front of Republican audiences and they are forced to talk about their issue positions, their backgrounds. And over the course of that rigorous nomination process, the vetting that you want occurs.” And I said, “And that is open to hundreds of thousands of Republicans and it is not by some small group of powerful people.” And the guy left. There really is no middle ground, you have one or the other. And I know one thing: If they want a vetting – if they want a state chairman to be the all-powerful vetter of candidates, it ain’t gonna be this one (laughs). They can elect somebody else.

    Should a State Party "Vet" Candidates?

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    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?

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    Last-Ditch Attempt to Force Maes Out Underway?

    THURSDAY UPDATE #6: The Wall Street Journal puts Dan Maes’ name in lights again, accorded the no-small honor of Quote of the Day:

    Enjoy the ride, Mr. Maes. Whatever happens tomorrow, he’s writing his poetry and the newspapers are printing it.

    THURSDAY UPDATE #5: FOX 31’s Eli Stokols Tweets from today’s debate:

    THURSDAY UPDATE #4: This is all becoming really very silly. Former Senate President, and Republican right-wing standard bearer, John Andrews issued this statement this morning:

    This morning I called Dan Maes to withdraw my endorsement and urge him to end his candidacy, for the public good.  As a conscientious Republican who earlier voted for Dan, I cannot support a manifestly unfit nominee.  He has flunked his job interview with the people of Colorado in the weeks since Scott McInnis faded.  The party should cut Maes loose if he does not resign the nomination.  I intend to write in a vote for Jane Norton for Governor. [Pols emphasis]

    Jane Norton? This makes perfect sense. Try to kick out someone who won the Republican primary in order to replace him with someone who lost a primary election of her own. We’ve absolutely reached the point where this is causing more harm than good for Republicans, whether or not they can convince Maes to withdraw.


    THURSDAY UPDATE #3: There is a Gubernatorial debate scheduled to be taped today at Noon as a joint production between Colorado Public Television (CPT12) and CBS 4. The debate is scheduled to air at 9:00 p.m. tomorrow, which could be a bit odd if Maes did withdraw from the race.


    THURSDAY UPDATE #2: Moments ago, Dan Maes posted this defiant-sounding update to his Facebook page. Does this read like a man about to pull out of this race?

    THURSDAY UPDATE: The Colorado Statesman’s Jody Strogoff confirms much of this story in a detailed must-read report this morning: renewed pressure to withdraw, a few days of expressed leeway by the Secretary of State’s office should a vacancy committee be necessary, and a twist you may not have expected: Bob Beauprez waiting in the wings?

    According to sources in the Colorado Republican Party and elsewhere interviewed Wednesday by The Colorado Statesman, major escalating problems and daunting revelations about Maes’ gubernatorial candidacy – with still more possible bombshells to drop – could unravel any hopes Maes has to stay on as the GOP standard bearer by Friday, prompting the state party to convene a special vacancy committee to select a new nominee after the required five-day advance notice. If that happened, the meeting could be held Tuesday, Sept. 7, and a spokesman for the secretary of state’s office said that even though the general election ballot is set to be certified this Friday, Sept. 3, there is probably enough wiggle room for county clerks to update ballots next week if necessary…

    Although Wadhams would not discuss possible scenarios for replacing his party’s nominee, he confirmed Wednesday night that the required five-day advance notice under state election law would allow a vacancy committee to meet as early as next Tuesday, if it became necessary. Colorado secretary of state spokesman Richard Coolidge confirmed that county clerks have some leeway to order ballots printed, and agreed that changes could still be made…

    “I’m flattered,” Beauprez said when asked whether he might step in. “What I have told them is that, if a vacancy were ever to occur, I’d entertain the phone call to think about it seriously. I like to think I have plenty of gas in the tank and plenty to give. But it’s a bit idle (to talk about) now. First things first,” Beauprez cautioned.

    That being said, Beauprez acknowledged that he would be “a better candidate than I was in 2006,” and emphasized that he has learned from that experience.

    “I believe that was a job that had my experience and credentials and passion written all over it,” he said about the governor’s race four years ago. “That hasn’t changed. I still have another rodeo in me. If that vacancy were to occur, I would take the candidacy discussion very seriously,” he said.

    Original post follows–major developments likely today.

    A series of events in the last 24 hours leaves us more or less convinced that GOP leadership has commenced one final concerted attempt to force gubernatorial nominee Dan Maes out of the race. This morning, the Denver newspaper published long-rumored information about Maes’ brief record as a police officer in Kansas, showing where Maes has possibly embellished his record and subsequently removed said embellishments from his campaign website.

    It’s not a new story–inferences about Maes’ time as a cop in Liberal, Kansas 25 years ago, a job from which he was fired, have been widely circulated. We’re not downplaying the story, because it’s obviously the last thing Maes needs, but the story certainly doesn’t seem any worse than, for example, Rep. Mark Kirk of Illinois–who despite revelations of much bigger exaggerations about his military service record remains the GOP’s nominee for U.S. Senate in that state.

    But it seems to be the pretext that Colorado GOP kingpins were looking for.

    We’ve reported in this space about at least two not-so-secret attempts by GOP chairman Dick Wadhams and other powerbrokers to force Maes out since his narrow primary win over Scott McInnis at the beginning of the month. Today, allegedly on the strength of this report about Maes’ history as a police officer, Karen Crummy reports at the Denver newspaper’s blog that former Sen. Hank Brown is withdrawing his endorsement of Maes, and Bob Beauprez is calling on Maes to pull out, while Allison Sherry writes that leading “9/12” groups in the state are demanding a meeting with Maes before the end of the week. Maes himself was summoned to DC on a red-eye flight this morning according to FOX 31’s Eli Stokols–either for recommitment from the Republican Governor’s Association like his spokesman hopes, but more likely something else.

    First of all, we don’t buy that the “9/12” groups–who, mind you, are not the ‘Tea Party’ and subject to their own influences–are spontaneously rising up against Maes, any more than we think Hank Brown didn’t know all about Maes when he endorsed him. After everything Republican leadership have themselves done to force Maes out since his victory over the tainted McInnis, there’s very little question who is orchestrating this avalanche of bad press for Maes, slamming home just as the last day his name can be replaced on ballots approaches.

    Look, folks, we’ve been clear about our estimation of Maes’ chance at winning the governor’s race, and we understand on a bare strategic level why Wadhams and the other Republican kingmakers want him out. But what you are seeing play out here, far too publicly, is seriously jeopardizing prospects for GOP success in Colorado–up and down the ticket. What they’re basically asking is for the voters to get behind a fourth gubernatorial candidate: after forcing Josh Penry out of the race, watching McInnis self-immolate, and now with the Republican brass trying one last time to veto the choice made by almost 200,000 Republican rank-and-file voters.

    And for all the angst about Maes among GOP leadership, why don’t the voters share it?

    Tom Tancredo is substantially underperforming expectations in polls. Obviously, with a Congressional resume, long history, and very high name recognition, Tancredo has assets in his favor that should make him competitive with Maes–especially as Maes stumbles–but his numbers have steadily declined from their peak. As Tancredo’s numbers have unexpectedly weakened, and as Maes has weathered repeated attempts to force him out, many Republicans we’ve talked to have been more interested in stabilizing the situation so they can proceed where they have an advantage–not another day of uncertainty in the governor’s race. They said so a couple of weeks ago when Wadhams acted as Tancredo’s emissary in that attempt to force Maes out of the race.

    There is nothing, absolutely nothing, in the negative reports on Maes in the last few days that either was not known or warrants on merit another attempt to force Maes out. And yet here we are.

    With all the stops pulled out in a last-ditch effort to have their way, hoping Friday’s important-yet-obscure deadline can be beat without inspiring rebellion, there’s just not a lot of pretense left to hide behind. And you can’t tell us, no matter how optimistic Republicans are for success across the nation, that this weakness and disorganization at the top of Colorado’s Republican ticket doesn’t imperil much more than this race.

    As for Maes? What possible incentive could you offer him to not ride this coaster all the way? Maes is the only man on either side with absolutely, positively nothing to lose here.

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    Tea Party Geniuses: Maybe We Should Raise Money?

    As Politico reports:

    Colorado gubernatorial nominee Dan Maes has already overcome a significant cash dearth to win once this election cycle, but now Republican leaders are warning that without a fast injection of cash, his campaign might be doomed.

    In a recent e-mail to grassroots Republicans forwarded to POLITICO, the president of Denver’s Coalition for a Conservative Majority said Maes’s campaign was teetering on the brink due to anemic cash flow.

    “Dick Wadhams informed us that the Maes campaign is on the verge of collapse due to lack of campaign funding. If you are a Dan Maes supporter, be aware that his campaign desperately needs donations even more than it needs volunteers to work,” wrote coalition president Jack Ott, referencing comments made by state party chair Dick Wadhams at recent meeting.

    In a separate e-mail to a conservative listserv, Colorado 9-12 Project leader Lu Busse wrote that Maes “in particular needs money,” and suggested that a big cash infusion from grassroots members could help spur rank-and-file establishment Republicans and “big money” players to get off the sidelines.

    Busse went on to say that statewide Republican candidates like Maes would likely need a million votes to win, more than double the number of Republicans who turned out to vote in the primary. “Persuading 2.5 times that many to vote for the candidates will not be possible in the next 10 weeks without money for direct mail and other advertising . . . This is not being negative, this is accepting reality and changing our tactics/actions based upon the situation,” Busse wrote. [Pols emphasis]

    We love that last quote from 9-12 Project Leader Lu Busse that they might want to “change their tactics” to include more fundraising. Whatever gave you that idea? Who gave up the secret that you can’t win elections with just “Don’t Tread on Me” flags and message boards?

    Through the July 28 cutoff period for the last fundraising reports, GOP gubernatorial candidate Dan Maes had less than $24,000 in the bank. We’ve always said that this is one of the main problems with Republicans kowtowing to the Tea Party and 9-12 groups of the world; sure, they’re loud and they show up at events, but taken as a whole, they are more of a hindrance than a help. Republicans like Senate nominee Ken Buck have had to move as far to the right as possible in order to win their support in a Primary, but once the General Election comes, they become a humongous albatross. They insist that Buck and Maes take positions that won’t help them much with swing voters, but they don’t do squat to help them raise money to appeal to anyone other than the Tea Party. You can see this muddled line of thinking in the quote above, as though it just now became clear that raising money might be helpful.

    Of course, even if the Tea Party folks could help raise money, there’s no guarantee that Maes would know what to do with it, as a former staffer tells Politico:

    “There were just red flags all over the place. It was real clear to me he didn’t have any personal money. His wife was running the campaign money,” said Ross, who left the campaign in March. “He doesn’t know how to manage $5. He won’t be able to raise money. He can’t raise money because people are finding out what a joke he is.”

    Worst Week in Colorado #2

    Okay Polsters, it’s time for your nominations for the “Worst Political Week in Colorado.”

    The last time we ran this post, two weeks ago, Republican Party Chair Dick Wadhams was declared the winner (or loser).

    We’ll put a couple of the more obvious selections up for a vote (including Wadhams, the current “champion”), but please chime in with your suggestions. And try to make them creative — sure, it was a bad week for Andrew Romanoff and Jane Norton, but who else???

    Our selection for this week’s “Worst Week in Colorado” is Josh Penry, campaign manager for Norton’s failed U.S. Senate bid. Not only did his candidate lose (despite being the clear favorite for a long time), but the surprising victory of Dan Maes in the GOP Gubernatorial Primary makes it unlikely that Republicans will be replacing their candidate for Governor with someone else (which, potentially, could have opened the door for Penry to take over as the GOP nominee).

    On to your suggestions!

    Who Had the Worst Week in Colorado This Week?

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    Stupid Letter of the Week

    These days, Colorado Republican Chairman Dick Wadhams is about as popular among Republicans as a gay illegal immigrant couple. Wadhams came to Colorado with a reputation as a clever political strategist, but as he has bungled one election after another (and is now facing angry Republicans who want him out), that strategic mind has been called into question.

    Take, for example, this idiotic letter that Wadhams sent today to CSU Chancellor Joe Blake regarding Joe Garcia, the CSU-Pueblo President and new running mate for Democratic gubernatorial candidate John Hickenlooper:

    Colorado taxpayers should not pay Joe Garcia’s state salary and benefits while he runs around the state pursuing his political ambitions at the expense of CSU-Pueblo. Joe Garcia has decided his political ambitions are more important than his responsibilities as president of CSU-Pueblo.

    Joe Garcia should be honest with Colorado taxpayers and either withdraw his candidacy for lieutenant governor or he should resign as president of CSU-Pueblo…

    …But Colorado taxpayers will be the ones who pay dearly for Joe Garcia’s political ambitions if they continue to foot the bill for his salary and benefits as president of CSU-Pueblo as he spends his time and energy seeking political office.

    To say that you shouldn’t be paid by the state of Colorado while running for office is, of course, absurd, since this very thing has been happening in Colorado for…well, forever. Should Ken Buck resign his position as Weld County District Attorney in order to run for the U.S. Senate? After all, he’s taking a salary from Colorado taxpayers at the same time he is running for another office!

    This is silly, and a waste of time, for Wadhams to try to rile up this issue of taking a taxpayer-funded salary while running for office. Because if it applies to Garcia, then it should apply to everyone else in a similar position.  

    Did Dick Wadhams concede the Governor’s race?

    In the Washington Post’s The Fix there was a quote by Dick Wadhams, GOP Party chair for Colorado:

    “Tom Tancredo’s arrogant decision to go ahead and get in the election today ensures that enough votes will be siphoned off the Republican candidate that Hickenlooper will win,” Wadhams said.


    Did Dick Wadhams concede the race

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    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.

    Wadhams Defends RNC Lesbian Voyeurism

    Honestly with that headline we feel like we can clock out for the day, but go ahead and check out the Washington Post’s report from Tuesday:

    The Republican National Committee and its chairman, Michael S. Steele, were engulfed in controversy again Monday after new financial reports showed that the party used tens of thousands of donor dollars for luxe hotels, private jets and other questionable expenditures…

    Although it is not unusual for either party to spend money in tony settings to cater to wealthy donors, the RNC’s latest filings captured widespread attention for one expenditure at a risque nightclub: $1,946.25 for “meals” at Voyeur in West Hollywood, which features topless dancers wearing horse bridles and other bondage gear while mimicking sex acts.

    The committee fired an unidentified staff member as a result of the disbursement and emphasized Monday that Steele had not visited the club and was not aware of the expenditure. The reimbursement went to Erik Brown, a Southern California GOP donor who has spent time with Steele in the past and whose marketing firm has earned more than $160,000 from the RNC and other Republican committees…

    Mark DeMoss, a major RNC donor during George W. Bush’s presidency who heads a Christian public-relations firm in Atlanta, said that spending so lavishly during an economic downturn is “mind-boggling.” “Virtually the entire country — from big businesses to small business — had to make cutbacks,” he said. “To think the Republican Party wouldn’t do the same thing, I think, suggests either a tone-deafness or just that they don’t care, which would maybe be worse.”

    But others defended Steele and his financial record and pointed to GOP success in recent elections in Massachusetts, New Jersey and Virginia. “You do have to spend money to raise money,” said Dick Wadhams, chairman of the Colorado GOP. “I’ll give Chairman Steele the benefit of the doubt on spending on major donors.” [Pols emphasis]

    An RNC investigation of the incident found that the Voyeur party was attended by a group of young Republicans who had been at an official party “Young Eagles” event at the Beverly Hills Hotel the same night, according to an internal memo obtained by The Washington Post. The Young Eagles is an RNC program to cultivate 30-to-40-year-olds as major future donors. [Pols emphasis]

    Really? If ever there was a time to say “No comment,” this was it for Wadhams. If you honestly can’t say that this was not a good idea, then just don’t say anything at all.

    UPDATE: We’ve really got to shoehorn a mention of the Hooters Girls at the “Tea Party Express” yesterday somewhere, and this seems to be as good a place as any.

    Republicans Fret Over Hickenlooper Run

    UPDATE: Denver Post reports that the last of the big three candidates besides Hickenlooper–Rep. Ed Perlmutter–will not enter the gubernatorial race. Perlmutter may be pulling his name out of the mix in advance of a Hickenlooper announcement, as many politicians do so as not to look like a second choice. If for some reason Hickenlooper does not run, the most discussed (and strongest) candidates for Democrats are Treasurer Cary Kennedy, Rep. Betsy Markey and former House Speaker Andrew Romanoff. We’d be surprised, however, if Hickenlooper is not the Democratic candidate at this point.

    While no public decision has been made as of yet regarding the race for Governor, Colorado Republican Party Chair Dick Wadhams seems to think that Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper will be the Democratic candidate. We’ve written before that we think Hickenlooper will eventually enter the race, and the state GOP is already trying to get out in front of any potential announcement.

    In a press release sent out today, Wadhams calls Hickenlooper “Hickenritter” and speculates that Hick would be identical to Gov. Bill Ritter in several ways. Republicans are obviously concerned about a potential Hickenlooper candidacy, because when he was passed over for Michael Bennet when the latter was appointed to the U.S. Senate last year, they openly stated that Hick would have been tough to defeat in 2010.

    From former Rep. Bob Beauprez in The Colorado Statesman last February:

    I’m guessing John Hickenlooper has name ID that rivals the governor’s, maybe exceeds the governor’s. I’m guessing that John Hickenlooper has 4:1 favorable/unfavorables statewide. There isn’t enough money in the world to peel that down to 1:1 – to where you could maybe beat him.

    John Hickenlooper could claim – he won’t do it because he’s got enough humility to not do it – but he could claim that the DNC was successful in large part because of his efforts to raise the money. He not only has a Rolodex with names in it, they are successful names.

    John could raise more money and be more easily elected. His appointment would have taken that seat almost completely off the table. I don’t know what John could have done to make it truly competitive. [Pols emphasis]

    Here’s what Wadhams had to say about Hickenlooper in December 2008, when Hick was being considered as a replacement in the U.S. Senate for Ken Salazar:

    Dick Wadhams, the state GOP chairman, conceded that Hickenlooper “is immensely popular as the mayor of Denver” but said “he’ll look a lot different after two years of votes in the U.S. Senate.”

    These two quotes highlight exactly why many observers, including Colorado Pols, see Hickenlooper as such a strong potential candidate. As we wrote in The Big Line, Hickenlooper has great name ID and is a prolific fundraiser, which are probably the two most important qualities you could have as a candidate for statewide office. That doesn’t make him a shoo-in for Governor, but at the very least he would enter the race with an advantage over Republican Scott McInnis on both fronts.

    Wadhams Reportedly off to Nevada for 2010

    (Got some GOP hopes up, anyway – promoted by Colorado Pols)

    POLS UPDATE #3: Well, so much for that rumor.

    According to The Associated Press:

    State Republican Party chairman Dick Wadhams says he’s not leaving Colorado to try to unseat Democratic Sen. Harry Reid in Nevada.

    A blog run by Reid opponents reported that Wadhams was in Las Vegas recently and was considering moving there to help former Nevada GOP chair Sue Lowden oppose Reid, the Senate majority leader.

    Wadhams said Tuesday that he isn’t moving to Nevada to help Lowden. However, he said he did visit with Lowden and her supporters recently to talk about his success unseating former Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle in South Dakota in 2004.

    POLS UPDATE: Initial word from sources confirms this is a possibility leaning toward probability–but the final decisions have reportedly not been made yet. A major development in Colorado politics if this happens, and the story we’re hearing has as much to do with internal GOP anger at Wadhams after the Jane Norton/NRSC debacle (which he is widely suspected of involvement in) as it does any “opportunity” this may represent for a two-time Senate campaign loser. We’ll see if the narrative adds the phrase “on a rail” to Wadhams’ departure in the coming weeks.

    As for Democrats? We’ve maintained for years now that Wadhams is a foul-mouthed braggart whose usefulness to the Colorado Republican Party is deeply suspect. A massively–as it turned out for Republicans catastrophically–overrated political strategist. It would be kind of silly for us to celebrate Wadhams’ departure on Democrats’ behalf then, wouldn’t it? Democrats can only hope that Wadhams’ replacement will be no more competent, but they probably shouldn’t expect to be so lucky again.

    It should also be noted that becoming the Republican Party Chair in Colorado was never exactly in Wadhams’ grand career plan. Wadhams, you’ll recall, was campaign manager for Virginia Sen. George Allen in what was supposed to be an easy re-election bid in 2006 that was then a prelude to running for President in 2008. That, of course, didn’t happen, and Wadhams was left to return to Colorado with tail firmly between legs. Heading to Nevada to take on the Senate Majority Leader makes sense for Wadhams if he ever wants to ascend back to the top of the GOP strategist heap; knocking out Reid would certainly add a shine to the ol’ resume.

    POLS UPDATE #2: Wadhams responds very carefully, courtesy conservative blogger Joshua Sharf:

    My friend Sue Lowden, who recently resigned as Nevada Republican state chairman, asked me to make the presentation to a group of her supporters as she decides whether to challenge Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.

    As fun as that quick trip to Las Vegas was, my full time political agenda is here in my home state of Colorado, as state chairman of Colorado Republicans.

    But, as Sharf notes, nowhere is an explicit denial to be found.

    Original post follows.

    Dick Wadhams is reportedly considering a move to Nevada to help former State Party Chairwoman Sue Lowden oppose Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s bid for re-election. This according to the Dump Reid Political Action Committee…

    Sources confirm that Dick Wadhams was in Las Vegas recently to meet with Lowden and is prepared to join the campaign if/when it becomes official.

    ‘Who is Dick Wadhams?’ I hear many of you ask.  Only the guy who ran John Thune’s stunning upset victory over then-Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle out in South Dakota in 2004.  Wikipedia notes that Wadhams has also worked for former Virginia senator George Allen, Colorado Senator Wayne Allard, former Colorado governor Bill Owens and former Montana Senator Conrad Burns.  He is also the current Chairman of the Colorado Republican Party.

    “McLobbyist” In Or Out?

    Almost three weeks ago, the Denver Post reported that former congressman Scott McInnis “privately” had announced his intentions to run for Governor. You know, privately, as in “reported by the Denver Post” from a GOP state party function. Which seems not very “private” at all, being the talk of the GOP’s biggest annual event, and reported in the state’s newspaper of record–we’ll revisit that in a moment.

    A couple of days ago, word circulated of a letter sent by McInnis to lots of registered Republicans, asking for “advice” solving the “problems” facing the GOP and Colorado in general. This letter didn’t explictly say “I’m going to run for Governor,” but it was clearly intended to plant his name in people’s minds.

    This morning, the Denver Post reports:

    An “enthusiastic” supporter of Scott Mc Innis has registered six political domain names for the former congressman, including ScottMcInnisforGovernor.com.

    Another name is ScottMcInnisforColorado.com.

    McInnis told friends and supporters he is running for the GOP nomination for governor in 2010 but has yet to make a formal announcement.

    The domain names were registered by Joshua Green of Colorado Springs. Green and McInnis’ former chief of staff, Mike Hess, last year worked together on Bentley Rayburn’s congressional campaign…

    We don’t know about you, but do you buy the “enthusiastic supporter who just happens to be a seasoned campaign worker” bit for a moment? Didn’t think so. Because you’re not stupid.

    This is where we turn it over for discussion–kind of like Bob Schaffer’s endless stalling of his “formal” announcement that he was running for Senate–how long do they get to “unofficially” set up their campaigns, when everybody knows that’s what they’re doing, before they have to file papers and report donations like everybody else? When does that clock start ticking, or more to the point, when should it?

    We’d say the question is worth asking any time these guys try to pull this “shadow campaign” stuff, a seeming favored tactic of nervous Republicans these days–but in the case of McInnis and his history of questionable campaign fund expenditures, we’d say it’s doubly worth asking. Because as we’ve said repeatedly, we’ll believe McInnis is running only when he starts a formal campaign for governor, starts raising money, and starts going around the state as a candidate. Until then…this is just another in a long list of races that McInnis has “strong interest” in running for.

    McInnis Makes His Move?

    Perhaps the moment you’ve all been waiting for–given Scott McInnis’ track record of expressing ‘interest’ in running for everything, from the U.S. Senate to Mesa County dogcatcher (and the Grand Junction Sentinel’s rush to print a story anytime McInnis farts), we’ll only fully believe it when the Secretary of State gets the papers. But no question there’s intense jockeying going on behind the scenes in the GOP right now, as the Grand Junction Sentinel reports:

    The battle for the Republican nomination for governor in 2010 could be a Western Slope affair, pitting former Congressman Scott McInnis against his onetime aide, Josh Penry.

    McInnis, who retired from Congress in 2004 after six terms representing the 3rd District, is interested in the job, as is Penry, now the minority leader in the state Senate.

    Penry served for a time as McInnis’ spokesman in Washington, D.C., before returning to the Grand Valley to run for the state Legislature.

    Dick Wadhams, chairman of the Colorado Republican Party, said he was aware of interest by both men in the opportunity to run against incumbent Democrat Bill Ritter of Denver.

    “They’re both terribly formidable people,” Wadhams said…

    The thing is, they’re not–at least one of them isn’t. Handpicked by Wadhams, Josh Penry’s brief tenure as Senate Minority Leader has nevertheless been an unqualified disaster, from mismanaged public embarrassments to an “opposition” strategy that gained his party no sympathy–if anything the opposite of sympathy–with either the public or the media. If this was supposed to be the big test of Penry’s mettle, paving his way to a Bobby Jindal-style meteoric rise, well, spectacular fail.

    On the other hand, as the Sentinel continues:

    McInnis said Tuesday he still has political ambitions and, “My focus is more on the governor’s seat.”

    …he’s not interested in the Senate seat occupied by Denver Democrat Michael Bennet, McInnis said.

    “My interest is not there,” he said. “I came home (to Colorado), and I’m staying home.”

    Nobody can forget the moment of high drama one week before the last election, when McInnis broke his silence about the way he was forced out of the Senate race in favor of Chairman Dick Wadhams’ pal and GOP insider-anointed candidate Bob Schaffer. You’ll recall that Wadhams “strongly disputed” McInnis’ accusations, and within a week every Republican elder statesman in Colorado was penning guest editorials denouncing McInnis with eerie Mao-style unanimity.

    Well, dear reader, a few days from the GOP state party reorganization, Wadhams has a credible challenger and Scott McInnis just might have enough backlash behind him to make people forget all about that paying the wife to run your fictional campaign thing and seriously consider him for governor. Until Marc Holtzman reminds them in a big glossy mailer, of course. We digress.

    Bottom line: If the last few weeks have proven anything, it’s that Josh Penry is not anywhere near ready to head up a ticket. What he needs is several more years to mature and a more statesmanlike haircut–we’re serious about this, it’s unelectably bad, a mullet kept in check with a beard trimmer. And what Wadhams needs, assuming he survives the weekend, is to realize that he’s no longer the kingmaker of the Colorado Republican Party–and the choice of who will top the 2010 ticket is no longer his to dictate.

    As for McInnis, what he needs is to stop talking about races he might possibly one day perhaps potentially consider. Because he’s starting to look more than a little silly “expressing interest” in virtually anything.

    BREAKING: Wadhams Will Be Challenged After All

    A message just sent out to conservative activists:

    Subject: “Save Our State” sent you a message on Facebook…

    Tom Stone sent a message to the members of Save Our State.


    Subject: An opportunity to serve

    I have officially announced today that I am running to be the Chairman of the Colorado Republican Party.  My interest in Saving Our State is sincere.  During these turbulent times we must all put our shoulders to the wheel and put our talents to their best use.

    Thank you for your support.

    Tom C. Stone


    This is for real, folks–Tom Stone is a former Eagle County commissioner and, though less-known than some other candidates whose names surfaced a few months ago, can certainly be considered a credible challenge to current chair Dick Wadhams. That being the case, it’s a major development–our first thought is that the last few weeks of disastrous message management by GOP leadership may have shifted the dynamic, where Wadhams had previously more or less suppressed his critics.

    UPDATE: From the Vail Daily this afternoon:

    Former Eagle County, Colorado Commissioner Tom Stone announced Friday he will run for the state Republican Party Chair.

    “I’ve been very alarmed and concerned about the path that Colorado has been on for the last three cycles – that Republicans have continued to lose people in representation throughout the state,” Stone, of Gypsum, said. [Pols emphasis]

    Stone has been a real estate broker for the last 32 years, except for the eight year period he served as a commissioner from 1998 to 2006.

    He and his wife, Henri, have lived in Eagle County for the last 25 years.

    Could Republicans Actually Hold the SOS Office?

    SATURDAY UPDATE: Coffman isn’t interested. As the Rocky Mountain News reports:

    Some Colorado Republicans want Secretary of State Mike Coffman to step down in the next two weeks so another Republican can run for that office this November.

    Their strategy is to stop Democrats from controlling the office for the next two years.

    But Coffman, the Republican candidate in the 6th Congressional District race, said Friday that he will stay in office through the November election or beyond…

    Coffman’s decision to run for Congress prompted opposition by local Republicans who don’t want the Secretary of State’s Office, which has long been occupied by Republicans, to go to a Democrat.

    Some Republicans want Coffman to step down before Aug. 28. That would prompt a special election in November between a Republican candidate and the Democratic appointee named by Gov. Bill Ritter to run the office until then.

    Obviously, the possibility of retaining the SoS in November beats the certainty of losing it–Coffman’s swift resignation would be the right thing to do if his interest was in party over principle. But that’s kind of the point, Coffman is the moral and strategic victor now over the would-be kingmakers who tried to stop his run for Congress. He doesn’t have to quit on a schedule that accommodates them, and we seriously doubt he will–it would be a violation of his sacred Marine honor or something. He intends to finish the job of managing the 2008 elections and then go to Congress in January. If you can also interpret that as a fat middle finger directed at the party insiders who lined up to endorse his vastly inferior pipsqueak of an opponent, we expect Coffman is cool with your interpretation.

    In fact, we would bet money that the lavishing of praise on GOP chairman Dick Wadhams seen in yesterday’s appeal for Coffman to resign (original post below) only increased Coffman’s resolve to tell Wadhams which orifice he can shove his proxy-delivered “suggestions” up.

    We’ve gotten some strange and interesting emails in our time, but this one may take the cake.

    The email below appears to have come from Dan Kopelman, the same Dan Kopelman who got Secretary of State Mike Coffman into trouble for a variety of reasons.

    The email below was forwarded to us, and it seems to outline a plan for how Republicans can hold onto the SOS office despite Coffman’s pending resignation once he is formally elected to congress in CD-6 in November. According to the email, Republicans could convene a vacancy committee before August 28 and…well, we don’t really follow exactly, so we’ll leave it up to the bigger brains in the room to figure this out.

    But what makes this email a double-doozy is the weird deification of GOP Party Czar Dick Wadhams. Click below for the email…

    From: dkopelman@technologist.com [mailto:dkopelman@technologist.com]

    Sent: Friday, August 15, 2008 3:11 AM


    Subject: XXXXX, A Republican can run for Secretary of State this November if chosen by August 28th!

    “All that is required for evil to prevail is for good men to do

    nothing.” — Edmund Burke

    Happily, it is possible to recruit a Republican candidate to replace Secretary of State Mike Coffman, but there is a catch. The current, willing Republican candidate is Arapahoe County Clerk Nancy Doty. I will tell you about the catch in a moment.


    I met this evening with our hard-working, heroic, thoughtful State Party Chairman, Dick Wadhams [Pols emphasis], who personally told me “he never backs down” but expressed grave concerns about the possibility of trouble in the event of an extremely close race and how it might turn out if Mike Coffman was not at the helm of the SOS office.

    The experience I gained from working in the SOS office allowed me to explain to the Chairman, his concerns were based on rules that were changed after the 2000 elections to prevent Florida-like situations. In 2006, there were issues with long lines and slow voting machines, these were not related to the actual counting of votes. While many were up late on election day, waiting for the results, accuracy was not an issue.

    Additionally, the most recent election rules were posted on July 11 2008 and can be found at http://www.elections.colorado…. making it nearly impossible for any last minute changes without some unexpected natural disaster.

    The point is, the system worked in 2006, it worked last week and will work again on November 4th.


    It is possible to hold on to the SOS office, but it will take more effort than what they were planning this year.

    The financial and volunteer resources of the State Party are committed to a Presidential and Senate race so there was no plan to take on yet another statewide race. XXXX, this is where you come in. [Pols emphasis]


    1) The first, easiest option is the Edmund Burke version, good men can do nothing. The result will be Secretary Coffman is elected to fill the shoes of Congressman Tancredo. When Congressman Elect Coffman resigns as SOS, after the November election, Governor Ritter appoints his favorite Democrat as SOS to make the rules for the next two years.

    If there is some kind of problem on November 4, (like Florida) the Attorney General’s Office will be required to review the case based on the rules established July 11th. Congressman Elect Coffman will be able to relay the findings to the public. No new rules are allowed to be made.

    2) The second option requires a little more effort (this would apply to both the Republicans and the Democrats). Secretary Coffman would need to resign in the next few days. The State Party needs to have a Central Committee “call” to nominate and elect a candidate. Then the candidate would be included on the Colorado Ballot.

    Make no mistake, when Secretary Coffman resigns, this will result in Governor Ritter appointing someone to the SOS office prior to the November election (that person, or someone else must run for office too).

    If there is some kind of problem (like Florida) the Attorney General’s Office will be required to review the case based on the rules established July 11th. The Ritter appointee will be able to relay the findings to the public. No new rules are allowed to be made.

    Sound familiar? The same rules apply from July 11, 2008 until the end of the election. That is the law.[Pols emphasis]

    The major difference is the Ritter appointee gets up to two years with a Democratic Governor and Legislature to change the rules, or the Ritter appointee gets to watch an election happen based on rules established under the thoughtful guidance of Secretary Coffman. and do nothing else.


    As I said, XXXXX, the financial and volunteer resources of the State Party are committed to a Presidential and Senate race so there was no plan to take on yet another statewide race.

    According to Political Director/Legal Council Ryan Call, “…the Party could nominate a GOP candidate to the general election ballot, if the Party was able to convene the vacancy committee to designate a candidate on or before August 28 (68 days before the general election)..”

    How can you make a difference.

    Contact Political Director, Ryan Call (303) 758-3333 x108 (ryan@cologop.org) or Chairman Dick Wadhams (720) 377-1600 (dickwadhams@cologop.org) at the state party headquarters and pledge your support to keep the Secretary of State office in Republican hands.

    There is not a lot of time, but we have the guy who removed the top Democrat challengers at the helm and he needs your input now. A pledge of support, exclusively for the keeping the Colorado Secretary of State in Republican hands may make a difference.

    This may be our only chance to balance the continued takeover of Colorado by well funded Democrats and may make a difference by dividing their resources as they too had no plans to mount a statewide campaign for the SOS office.


    Dick Wadhams is a king maker, he is the Colorado State GOPs crown jewel, he has done the impossible for Republicans across the country, but this was so unexpected that he now needs your commitment and encouragement to believe it can and should be done.[Pols emphasis – THIS was unexpected???]

    Thank you for your long time support of Republican candidates, together we can prevail and help a good man do something!

    Call (303) 758-3333 now, leave a message, do this for the Republican Party, the State and the protection of your right to vote.



    P.S. – This email is being sent to my personal newsletter list and was NOT authorized by any candidate, committee or chairman. This is not a solicitation for money on behalf of anyone.

    P.P.S. – Please pass on the information to others in Colorado who you believe might be interested in helping.

    P.P.P.S. – More Colorado GOP contacts: www.cologop.org/ContactUs.aspx

    Legal types will want to read more:


    (7) Except as otherwise provided in subsection (7.3) of this section, any vacancy in a statewide or county office, in the office of district attorney, or in the office of a state senator occurring during a term of office shall be filled at the next general election with nomination or designation by the political party as follows:

    (a) If the vacancy occurs prior to the political party assembly, the designated election official shall notify the chairperson of each major political party that the office will be on the ballot for the next primary election, and candidates for the office shall be designated as provided in section 1-4-601 or 1-4-603.

    (b) If the vacancy occurs after the political party assembly and no later than sixty-eight days before the primary election, the designated election official shall add the office to the notice of election and notify the chairperson of each major political party that the office will be on the ballot for the next primary election. Candidates for the office shall be designated as provided in section 1-4-603 or by the respective party central committee vacancy committee for the state, county, judicial district, or state senate district.

    (c) If the vacancy occurs during the sixty-seven days before the primary election or after the primary election and no later than sixty-eight days before the general election, the designated election official shall add the office to the notice of election for the general election. Nominations for the office shall be made by the respective party central committee vacancy committee for the state, county, judicial district, or state senate district or as provided in section 1-4-802 for the nomination of unaffiliated candidates.




    2327 Proceedings

    2332 When officer qualify Elected

    2328 Special elections Canvass and appointed hold different

    2329 Vacancies in general assembly terms Governor issue writs of

    2333 Vacancies in county office election County commissioners ap

    2330 Vacancy in congress point

    2331 Vacancies in state and county

    2331 Vacancies How filled All vacancies in any state or county office and in the supreme or district courts unless otherwise provided for by law shall be filled by appointment by the governor until the next general election after such vacancy occurs when such vacancy shall be filled by election and the district judge shall fill all vacancies in the office of district attorney in his district by appointment until the next general election

    GS 1159 GL 935 This section is referred to in People vs Wright 6 Colo 92 95

    96 144 ELECTION LAWS

    The Election Laws of the State of Colorado Annotated Primary and General Amended to June 1st, 1921, and Governing Elections of 1921 and 1922 By Colorado, Colorado, Colorado Dept. of State, Dept. of State, Colorado Attorney-General’s Office, Attorney-General’s Office

    Big Oil Bob’s Biggest Blunder?

    From the campaign that just keeps giving, the Sentinel is reporting breaking news on its website:

    An oil contract Republican U.S. Senate candidate Bob Schaffer helped negotiate in Iraqi Kurdistan is one of several production deals the U.S. State Department has flagged as problematic for Iraq and its attempts to establish a national oil policy.

    Poor Mr. Wadhams, he sure does know how to pick ’em!

    More details after the fold…

    Mike Saccone’s piece goes on to note:

    The oil contract, finalized in November 2007, allows a subsidiary of Schaffer’s former employer, Denver-based Aspect Energy, to produce oil on a nearly 104-square-mile plot in the Dohuk Governate in northern Iraq.

    Schaffer confirmed Wednesday he was one of several Aspect Energy executives who visited Kurdistan in November 2006 and laid the groundwork for the company’s oil deal with the Kurds.

    In addition to aiding the Ukraine Bumbling Bob can now add hindering the Iraqi reconstruction to his foreign policy portfolio.

    According to a June 23 report from the nonpartisan Government Accountability Office, Aspect Energy’s oil contract and roughly two dozen other similar deals have proven a point of contention between Iraq and the Kurdistan Regional Government.

    “The (Kurdistan Regional Government) has negotiated an estimated 25 contracts with foreign oil firms, which the Iraqi federal government claims are illegal,” according to the report.

    Schaffer said he was unaware the State Department had warned energy firms not to strike oil deals with the Kurdistan Regional Government at the time of his visit. “We didn’t experience any discouragement,” Schaffer said.

    John Fleming, a spokesman with the State Department’s Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs, said the U.S. government has always asked that energy firms conduct business with Iraq’s federal government and not other entities in the country.

    Way to go Bob!

    Bob's bumbling is

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    Dick Wadhams reaches…and comes up with Macaca

    ( – promoted by Colorado Pols)

    Congressmen like Mark Udall have essentially shut down domestic oil exploration for the last 20 years.

    DickWad. from 9News

    20 years?  

    But Udall was first elected in 1998.

    Shut down?  

    But drilling permits have QUADRUPLED in Colorado over the last several years, and natural gas reserves in the U.S. are at an all-time high.  Since 1998, tens of thousands of acres in CO have been leased for oil shale, mining permits (many for uranium) have spiked 400% (just since 2003).  


    WTF is Wadhams talking about?  

    I use to wonder if Mr. Wadhams was just unusually dense, but now I have to conclude he is merely an unethical, lying, manipulator.  

    Can Mr. Wadhams say anything that’s true?  Will Colorado fall for his lies or will Big Oil Bob go the way of that other guy, Bob Whats-his-name?

    Dick Wadhams is truth challenged because...

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    Wadhams Goes (Seriously) Crazy

    Republican Party Chair Dick Wadhams is really mad that he can’t get the press to do his bidding, so he’s resorted to bullying and threats in hopes of getting the media to pretend his candidate for Senate, Bob Schaffer, doesn’t have any warts at all. Wadhams and Schaffer shamelessly attacked and belittled a blog reporter a few weeks ago, and Wadhams just recently did the same thing to a reporter for The Grand Junction Sentinel.

    As the editor of The Grand Junction Sentinel writes in his blog:

    Newspaper editors and political reporters don’t need a calendar to tell them that it’s an even-numbered year. Even-numbered years are election years. We can tell that because those are the years when we get complaints from politicians and their handlers. It’s as predictable as Rick Wagner staking out a position to the right of just about everybody else.

    We got a couple this week, and I think they are instructive. One was nothing more than a political handler trying to bully a reporter, the other a legitimate question about why we failed to do something. One was ugly, the other a genuine discussion between people who saw the same thing differently.

    First the ugly.

    Early in the week Democratic Senate candidate Mark Udall proposed the government quit stockpiling gas in the strategic petroleum reserve.

    Reporter Mike Saccone, as any good reporter would do, called Udall’s opponent to get a response. Republican Bob Schaffer is very seldom available. He called Dick Wadhams, Schaffer’s campaign manager. I don’t think he ever even got to tell Wadhams why he was calling. The minute Wadhams got on the phone he launched into Mike, telling him he was a biased reporter, that he’s taken cheap shots at Schaffer and asking when we were going to do the same thing to Udall. I listened to the tape of the conversation. Mike seldom got to complete a question. Every time he tried Wadhams interrupted with yet another complaint about Mike and/or our coverage. He did manage to ask Wadhams for specific instances of biased reporting or cheap shots and Wadhams provided none.

    The exchange was amusing. I don’t know what Wadhams was trying to accomplish other than to try to get our reporter to go easier on his candidate in future stories. Whatever it was it will have no effect whatsoever on how we cover the Senate race. We’ll continue to cover it as completely and fairly as possible.

    This has always been a part of Wadhams’ repertoire – to attack reporters either directly or through a surrogate in attempts to shame them into reporting more on his opponent than on his own candidate. It worked well when he did it through the use of bloggers in the 2004 South Dakota defeat of Tom Daschle, but it doesn’t appear to be working in Colorado, where conservative blogs don’t really have the reach or the respectability that they may have had in other states.

    There’s a fine line between strategy and flat-out rude bullying, and Wadhams has definitely crossed that line. Here’s hoping reporters around the state don’t fall into the trap of Wadhams’ intentional belittling and end up turning over their lunch money to him.

    hb ru

    Schaffer Stays Silent

    Republican Senate candidate Bob Schaffer is still doing his best to avoid talking about anything. As Mike Saccone of The Grand Junction Sentinel writes in his “Political Notebook”:

    As nearly every major political figure in Colorado sounded off Thursday on the Bureau of Land Management’s decision to disregard Gov. Bill Ritter’s widely praised plan to develop the Roan Plateau, Senate candidate Bob Schaffer as silent on the issue.

    Multiple messages Political Notebook left with Schaffer’s chief campaign adviser, Dick Wadhams, have gone unanswered…

    …We have written before, Schaffer’s silence has been a largely strategic coup for Schaffer. In October, we wrote: “For Schaffer and the GOP, his silence is – to use a tried and tired cliche – golden. Schaffer’s silence while he works to build up his base ahead of what is certain to be an intensely competitive contest should be frustrating for Democrats and political reporters. Nonetheless, it’s a good idea if you want to keep free from early inning errors.”

    That said, the November election is less than nine months away. … We’ll leave it to others to say when Schaffer’s silence becomes a liability, but at some point the silence will wear thin, if not on the public than on the press.

    We’re not knocking the strategy here. When you’re the 14th most conservative congressman of the past 70 years in a state that has elected moderates in each of the past two elections, it certainly doesn’t help to speak out about anything. But Saccone’s point at the end is sound: “At some point the silence will wear thin, if not on the public than on the press.”

    Schaffer campaign manager/czar Dick Wadhams  has used the silent treatment before in statewide races in Colorado (see: Allard, Wayne), but the dawn of online media makes it harder to do that in 2008. This strategy is probably fine for now, so long as the media doesn’t start really focusing on the fact that Schaffer isn’t saying anything. But at some point, Schaffer is going to have to choose between staying silent and being labeled as someone who won’t stand up for his beliefs.


    Eggs, Meet Basket

    Dick Wadhams, the man Republicans brought in – to much fanfare – to head the State Republican Party, has apparently found a better job. As the Rocky Mountain News reports:

    To no one’s surprise, Republican Dick Wadhams is now officially campaign manager for Bob Schaffer’s U.S. Senate bid.

    Wadhams said today he will remain chairman of the Colorado Republican Party, but he has hired an executive director to run the day-to-day operations.

    Wadhams had been performing both the chairman and director roles since being named chairman in March 2005.

    Democrats for months have been saying that Wadhams also was pulling the strings for Schaffer’s campaign. Just last month, Wadhams responded to the Democrats’ charges by saying, “That’s crazy.”

    He said today he wasn’t running the campaign before now.

    The GOP executive director is Mike Britt, who worked in Boston on Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign, which ended in February.

    That’s swell for Republicans that Wadhams is going to head up Schaffer’s flailing Senate campaign (and it is definitely a boost), but, um, what about the rest of the elephants? This move isn’t going to create a lot of optimism for Republicans hoping to win back some seats in the state legislature. If Schaffer wins the Senate race but Republicans get drilled in every other race, is that really a worthwhile trade-off?