Walker Stapleton’s Hit-and-Run: As Bad as You Thought?

The campaign of Colorado Treasurer-elect Walker Stapleton released long-awaited documents yesterday related to his DUI arrest in 1999, an arrest that became a major point of contention in the closing days of his heated (and successful) campaign against incumbent Cary Kennedy. Reporter Tim Hoover of the Denver newspaper wrote today’s story based on the original police reports on the accident provided by Stapleton. In San Francisco, where the incident occurred, police reports are not considered public records; Stapleton, or another party to the incident, were the only ones who could legally request them.

And folks, there appears to be a very good reason why Stapleton “couldn’t” produce this report before the election–a serious lack of exonerating information. The police report describes a “loud and belligerent” Stapleton attempting to leave the scene of the accident, even after police followed him with their lights on. According to this report, the biggest reason Stapleton was unsuccessful in fleeing the scene was the damage his Jeep had suffered in the accident. The report says Stapleton then got out of his disabled vehicle strongly smelling of alcohol, and was “unsteady on his feet” in addition to loud and belligerent.

In short, it sounds about as bad as those “liberal smear merchants” always said it was.

The court records we originally released in this case last month do make reference to “injured pedestrians,” but the Colorado Independent’s reporting clarified that these were passengers in the taxi involved in the accident. Ginger Vasquez’s account of the collision, which generally comports with the facts in all of these records, was published by the Independent in detail before the election.

Stapleton claims in today’s story that there are yet more documents in the case he is trying to get his hands on, including documents that explain–presumably in a manner favorable to Stapleton–why the charge of leaving the scene of the accident was dropped. We’ll have to take his now-questionable word on that, though it’s been suggested to us that none of the facts as reported need to change for Stapleton to have simply accepted a plea bargain from an overburdened court system. Meaning that those exculpatory details waiting just over the horizon, like Stapleton told you these police reports contained before he won the election, may well not exist at all.

Unfortunately for the voters, it’s too late now for anything other than “buyer’s remorse.”

Colorado Election Results Open Thread

UPDATE (11:25): The big Denver paper and many of the other big TV stations have some major problems with their reporting. The Denver Post, for example, had Buck ahead of Bennet 48-46, on the strength of a 52-45 advantage in Boulder. A quick check of the Boulder Clerk and Recorder’s website has Bennet leading Buck 67-29. There are a lot of somebodies who should have caught this immediately — there’s no way Boulder County would go solid red for any Republican.

We recommend sticking with the results from Fox 31, which not only has a page that seems to actually load correctly, but isn’t making any obvious errors that we can see.

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UPDATE (11:16): It looks like we may be headed for at least one state legislative recount. In HD-29, Democratic Rep. Debbie Benefield trails Republican Robert Ramirez by 148 votes (50.34% to 49.66%).

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UPDATE (11:12): That didn’t last long. With 56% of ballots counted, Bennet and Buck are now tied at 47-47.

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UPDATE (11:00): Buck has pulled ahead of Bennet for the first time tonight, leading 49-46 with 49% of precincts reporting.

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UPDATE (9:50): It’s looking like the race that will have the biggest impact from an ACP candidate will not be the one anybody expected. The Secretary of State race is neck-and-neck, but the ACP candidate is already pulling 6% of the vote. Buescher may well win this seat by virtue of the American Constitution Party.

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UPDATE (9:44): The percentage of precincts reporting continues to rise, and Michael Bennet continues to hold a 50-45 lead over Ken Buck. This is not good news for Buck, because early returns should have favored him (Republicans voted in higher numbers than Democrats in early and absentee voting). Given Buck’s numerous gaffes in the last two weeks of the campaign, it’s not likely that late voters are going to choose him over Bennet, so it’s hard to see how Buck is going to make up 5 points with 27% of the vote already tallied.

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UPDATE (9:08): It’s always fun to see those really early returns that show absurd numbers. In HD-22, Democrat Christine Radeff is pummeling Republican incumbent Ken Summers 7,875 to 12. Yes, 12. For a few more minutes, anyway.

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UPDATE (9:05): Republican Cory Gardner is being declared the winner in CD-4.

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UPDATE (9:03): The Secretary of State race is coming down to the wire, and may be decided by the number of votes pulled in by the American Constitution Party candidate. Meanwhile, the race for Attorney General seems to be widening in favor of incumbent John Suthers.

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UPDATE (9:00): Democratic Rep. Ed Perlmutter has been declared the winner in CD-7.

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UPDATE (8:38): The old adage that Jefferson County decides statewide elections is largely holding form. Michael Bennet and John Hickenlooper, unofficially, are doing better in Jefferson County, as is John Suthers. Cary Kennedy and Walker Stapleton are neck-and-neck in Jeffco, while Scott Gessler leads Bernie Buescher in the large west Denver suburb.

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UPDATE (8:35): Ladies and gentlemen, your next Governor…John Hickenlooper! The race has been called for Hick. Now the excitement turns to whether or not Dan Maes can cross the 10% threshold. From a Hickenlooper press release:

Colorado voters on Tuesday elected John Hickenlooper, a brewpub pioneer turned Mayor of Denver, as the 42nd Governor of Colorado.

“I am humbled and honored by the decision Colorado’s voters have made, and I accept the challenge you have entrusted to me to lead our state as Governor,” Hickenlooper said. “This is not the end of our journey. This is the beginning. And it starts with bringing people together.”

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UPDATE (8:20): Here’s a couple of developing stories to watch. All of this can change, of course, but as of right now…

  • Bennet maintaining early lead on Buck

  • Hickenlooper holding early lead for Governor

  • Tipton well ahead of Salazar in CD-3

  • Kennedy surprisingly strong in Treasurer race

  • Buescher may be saved by ACP candidate for SOS

  • Third party turnout not yet playing role in CD-4

  • Attorney General race staying close

  • Every major ballot measure getting crushed

  • Both Rep. Diana DeGette (CD1) and Jared Polis (CD2) have been declared winners already
  • —–

    We’ll update results as we can. In the meantime, please keep them updated, with links, in the comments below.

    *NOTE: Candidates in bold and italics have been declared the winner by at least one local news outlet.

    U.S. SENATE

    Michael Bennet (D): 47%

    Ken Buck (R): 47%

    56% reporting

    GOVERNOR

    John Hickenlooper (D): 51%

    Tom Tancredo (ACP): 37%

    Dan Maes (R): 11%

    48% reporting

    STATE TREASURER

    Cary Kennedy (D): 51%

    Walker Stapleton (R): 49%

    44% reporting

    ATTORNEY GENERAL

    John Suthers (R): 57%

    Stan Garnett (D): 43%

    44% reporting

    SECRETARY OF STATE

    Bernie Buescher (D): 44%

    Scott Gessler (R): 50%

    Amanda Campbell (ACP): 6%

    44% reporting

    CD-3

    John Salazar (D): 45%

    Scott Tipton (R): 50%

    63% reporting

    CD-4

    Betsy Markey (D): 41%

    Cory Gardner (R): 53%

    Doug Aden (ACP): 5%

    Ken “Wasko” (I): 1%

    69% reporting

    CD-7

    Ed Perlmutter (D): 53%

    Ryan Frazier (R): 42%

    16% reporting

    Who Will Win the Race for State Treasurer?

    Click below to vote.

    Remember, we want to know what you believe will happen, not what you might want to happen. To repeat our usual description, if you had to bet everything you owned on the outcome of this race, who would you pick?

    Who Will Be Elected State Treasurer?

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    Who Will Win the Race for State Treasurer?

    You know the drill.

    We want to know what you believe will happen, not what you might want to happen. To repeat our usual description, if you had to bet everything you owned on the outcome of this race, who would you pick?

    Who Will Be Elected State Treasurer?

    View Results

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    Who Will Win the Race for State Treasurer?

    You know the drill.

    We want to know what you believe will happen, not what you might want to happen. To repeat our usual description, if you had to bet everything you owned on the outcome of this race, who would you pick?

    Who Will Be Elected State Treasurer?

    View Results

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    Who Will Win the Race for State Treasurer?

    Vote after the jump. Remember, we want to know what you believe will happen, not what you might want to happen. To repeat our usual description, if you had to bet everything you owned on the outcome of this race, who would you pick?

    Who Will Be Elected State Treasurer?

    View Results

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    Fundraising Updates for State Races

    The financial reporting period for state races running between July 29 through September 1 is now available online. Here’s how the statewide candidates stack up. Keep in mind that cash-on-hand amounts are deceiving at this point, since many candidates have already spent big chunks of money to buy advertising spots (with exceptions for Dan Maes and Scott Gessler, neither of whom has a good reason for having so little left in the bank).

    Figures below as Amount Raised Last Period/ Amount Spent Last Period/ Cash-on-Hand as of Sept. 1)

    GOVERNOR

    John Hickenlooper (D): $409,859/ $357,158/ $171,542

    Tom Tancredo (ACP): $199,229/ $58,376/ $140,853

    Dan Maes (R): $50,201/ $54,011/ $19,786

    TREASURER

    Cary Kennedy (D): $102,161/ $89,189/ $90,250

    Walker Stapleton (R): $27,385/ $15,880/ $22,712

    ATTORNEY GENERAL

    John Suthers (R): $64,958/ $15,671/ $346,775

    Stan Garnett (D): $43,690/ $120,342/ $23,259

    SECRETARY OF STATE

    Bernie Buescher (D): $36,158/ $8,708/ $139,661

    Scott Gessler (R): $13,745/ $38,071/ $14,725

    Poll: Who Will Win the Republican Nomination for State Treasurer?

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

    Republicans Walker Stapleton and J.J. Ament are vying for the right to take on incumbent Treasurer Cary Kennedy. Who wins?

    Who Will Win the GOP Nomination for Treasurer?

    View Results

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    Walker Stapleton Opens Northern “Satellite” Office

    Republican Treasurer candidate Walker Stapleton announced yesterday via email that his campaign was opening a “satellite” office in Northern Colorado:

    That’s right! The Stapleton for Colorado Campaign is opening its first satellite campaign office in Northern Colorado! We look forward to spending even more time in Colorado’s 4th Congressional District which is one of the most important Congressional seats in not only Colorado but also in the country.

    Our office is will be located at 3030 S. College St, Ste #204.

    This is the first time we can recall that a statewide campaign aside from Governor or U.S. Senate had more than one main office. Normally these races are too low-profile and low-budget to afford to open more than one campaign office, but when you can put a lot of personal money into your own race (Stapleton has contributed $115,000 thus far), then maybe you can afford luxuries like this.

    We’re not sure we’d open a “satellite” office if we were Stapleton — we’d be saving every penny for TV ads — but, whatever.

    Which Colorado Politician Would You Draft #1?

    UPDATE: You can read our Top 5 after the jump. Tomorrow — the “sleeper” picks.

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    The NFL Draft kicks off tonight, with the first round being held in prime time for the first time in history. That got us thinking about how a political draft might play out in Colorado.

    Which Colorado politician, active or retired, would you select #1 overall if your goal was to win a statewide election in 2010? Here’s the scenario:

  • Suppose Colorado was awarded a third U.S. Senate seat, so there is no incumbent and no history of incumbency.

  • You are choosing the best politician to win that seat in 2010.

  • This is not about who would be the best Senator or do the best job in office. This is pure politics — who is most likely to get elected AND who helps you down the ticket? Ideally you want your top pick to be helpful for the rest of your political “team.” You could make your #1 pick an “Independent” candidate, but that wouldn’t help anyone else down-ticket.

  • Ignore current partisan labels. You could choose Gov. Bill Ritter and run him as a Republican if you wanted.

  • Pay no attention to whether or not someone would be putting another seat in danger if they ran for something else (for example, Rep. John Salazar. Pick as though you want the single best chance to win this one race.
  • So, how would you fill out your wish list? Who would you choose #1? Who would make up your Top Ten, in order? Make your picks below, and read about our Top Five after the jump.

    Here is how our Top Five might look, off the top of our collective heads:

    1. Ken Salazar (Democrat)

    Not only is Salazar very popular in Colorado, but the Interior Secretary would have a lot of support from the White House (Salazar and President Obama are close friends). But the real sweetener in this pick is that Salazar would likely have a strong impact on turning out more Hispanic voters, which would help every down-ballot candidate.

    2. John Hickenlooper (Democrat)

    The Denver Mayor is really a nightmare scenario for just about any opponent because he is wildly popular throughout Metro Denver (an area that includes a HUGE chunk of the total number of Colorado voters), but he also has a strong business background that makes him attractive to the state’s swing voters who are essentially Libertarians (they want smart fiscal leadership but don’t care much about controversial social issues).

    We considered whether it would make sense to run Hick as a Republican, given that he is not very liberal, but reconsidered as we thought about how most of his social positions would really alienate a right-wing Republican base (not to mention the fact that he is from Denver, which automatically gives him a stigma with Republicans).

    3. Bill Owens (Republican)

    We can’t think of another obvious Republican to put at the top of this list besides Owens. The former Governor left office in 2007 with decent favorability ratings, and he was always good at playing the insider political game that kept a lot of other Republicans in line (and that lack of leadership has been all too apparent for Republicans in recent years). Sure, Owens is probably a little too much of his own man for many Republicans, including those still mad about Referendum C. But we see his bipartisan leadership on major issues like Ref. C as more of a positive than a negative with the majority of voters.

    4. Betsy Markey (Democrat or Republican)

    A moderate female candidate could really have an advantage in a statewide election, if nothing else because it makes them stand out; Colorado has never elected a woman to the Senate or the Governor’s mansion, and that narrative would get a lot of attention in the last few months of the election (current GOP Senate candidate Jane Norton will benefit from this to a degree if she wins the Republican nomination this year, but it won’t be as effective because she has gone so far to the right on many issues).

    Markey has shown herself to be a good fundraiser and a disciplined campaigner who rarely departs from her message. She’s also the owner of a successful small business, which gives her the “businessperson” cache that is so helpful to Hickenlooper. We just can’t decide whether we would run her as a Democrat or a Republican, because there are some obvious advantages to both.

    5. Cary Kennedy (Republican)

    If you could go back in time and re-invent Jane Norton, you could do worse than making her out to be more like State Treasurer Kennedy (a Democrat). A solid campaigner and good public speaker with a nice-looking family, Kennedy has the financial and policy brains but also a history as a big supporter of public education. She’s like a PTA mom on steroids, and while she’s a little left of moderate, her current elected position has kept her out of the weeds on most of the controversial social issues. Kennedy is a strong candidate as a Democrat, but we think Republicans — particularly women, who have not traditionally been well-represented by the Colorado GOP — would love her.

    5(a). Ed Perlmutter (Democrat)

    We left out Perlmutter at first mention, but he’s got to at least be in the top six. Perlmutter is a great fundraiser with strong political ties (in both parties) across the state, and he’s also a talented natural politician. But perhaps his biggest advantage is the makeup of his district; Perlmutter represents big chunks of two of the most populous counties in Colorado (Jefferson and Adams) and three of our largest cities (Aurora, Lakewood, Arvada), and his district borders Denver on three sides. That’s a huge percentage of Colorado voters that are already somewhat familiar with his name.

    Walker Stapleton Will Skip Caucus, Go Petition Route

    Republican Treasurer candidate Walker Stapleton announced today that he would be petitioning onto the ballot and not participating in the caucus. From a press release:

    Walker Stapleton, candidate for Colorado State Treasurer, will launch a grassroots statewide petition drive to earn a spot on the Republican Party primary ballot.  

    “I am really looking forward to starting the petition process,” Stapleton said. “This is a great chance to get out and talk to thousands of registered Republicans across the state about the need to put taxpayers first and put Colorado back on the path to fiscal discipline.”

    Stapleton said his campaign will be out at major events statewide throughout the spring collecting signatures.

    There’s no real surprise here, given that Republican candidates J.J. Ament and Ali Hasan are more well-known among Republican faithful. Stapleton will need to collect at least 10,500 signatures from registered Republicans (1,500 minimum from each congressional district) in order to qualify for the ballot.

    Ali Hasan Hits the Airwaves

    Republican Ali Hasan only recently entered the three-way GOP primary for State Treasurer, but he’s already the first one out of the gate with broad advertising. The radio ad below is apparently running on KOA, particularly during the “Mike Rosen Show.”

    Unlike, say Tom Lucero, who can make a TV ad but doesn’t have the cash to do a realistic TV buy, Hasan has the personal family wealth to do as much advertising as he wants. Fellow Republicans Walker Roberts Stapleton and J.J. Ament are more than capable of raising big bucks on their own, but neither can tap into the almost limitless funds that Hasan can use (ask Democrats Joan Fitz-Gerald and Will Shafroth about Jared Polis and how that dynamic played out in the 2008 CD-2 race).

    Because State Treasurer is such an obscure office for most voters to understand, the candidate(s) who can just raise their name ID the most are going to come out on top. That doesn’t bode well for Stapleton and Ament in a GOP primary, and it puts pressure on incumbent Democrat Cary Kennedy to continue to raise a lot of money in case Hasan wins the Republican nomination.



    Can’t see the audio player? Click here.

    Romanoff Considers Suicide Switch?

    UPDATE: Treasurer Cary Kennedy (mentioned in the story below) very smartly extricated herself from this discussion and endorsed John Hickenlooper a few minutes ago.

    We can’t verify what KMGH-TV reported yesterday as a sidebar to coverage of John Hickenlooper’s gubernatorial campaign announcement, and then amended, but we think it deserves a brief mention:

    Hickenlooper decided to run for governor on Sunday, and met with Romanoff Monday night, sources told 7NEWS. During the meeting Romanoff pressed for a Romanoff-Cary Kennedy ticket for governor and lieutenant governor. Kennedy is the state treasurer.

    They met again Tuesday morning.

    “He never tried to dissuade me from running,” Hickenlooper said. However, he refused to discuss the details of their conversation, saying they have been friends for a long time.

    Hickenlooper decided to make the announcement Tuesday to pre-empt any announcement by Romanoff that he would enter the race for Colorado governor, sources said.

    Apparently redacted from the original report (but not before being posted in a comment here):

    Romanoff asked Hickenlooper not to run, but Hickenlooper adamantly stated he was running, according to sources.

    We’ve heard more rumors today that Romanoff is considering leaving the Senate race and challenging Hickenlooper in a gubernatorial primary. Certainly he could make that hard-to-imagine midflight switch from a federal to a state race, but we have grave questions about how that would be received by voters, not to mention the practical problems of such a move–Romanoff was having trouble raising money for a Senate race with contribution limits significantly higher than those for Governor, and none of the money he has raised for Senate would be usable in a race for Governor. How many of those people who donated to his campaign for Senate would be interested in donating again to a campaign for Governor after seeing how poorly his campaign for Senate has been?

    There’s the possibility Romanoff could get the Lt. Gov. nod, thus alleviating tensions, but that seems less likely with another male from Denver headlining the ticket.

    Short of joining the ticket, to “step down” to the governor’s race from the Senate primary would be a frank admission that he couldn’t win where he was–and if he can’t beat Michael Bennet, arguably in a more vulnerable spot than Hickenlooper, how could he possibly expect to beat a sitting mayor of Denver with 80% approval ratings?

    But beyond that, the optics of Romanoff making such a switch now would be absolutely horrible: it would reek of desperation, signaling that personal power–and career insecurity–really were the driving force behind all his agitation these last few months. Unfortunately the damage may be done at this point, any speculation about Romanoff switching races cannot help but weaken him in the race he’s nominally running in now.

    For as critical as we have been of Romanoff’s quixotic nonstarter of a Senate campaign, we would be pained to see this get any worse for him than it already is in terms of future political viability–and that means he needs to stop the appearance of erratic “shopping” for his next office right now. There was a time back in the day, in 2005, before Bill Ritter (or even Hickenlooper, for that matter), when Romanoff could have had the same deference in a gubernatorial campaign from other contenders that Hickenlooper enjoys today. And Romanoff is still a pretty young guy–if he doesn’t flush his reputation reaching for things that lie just beyond his grasp this election cycle, which involves some swallowing of pride and realism, he could be back to triumph another day.

    Or, maybe Romanoff will become a punchline: this decision could be the crucible.

    What the Oughts Brought: Part One

    Now that 2010 is here (and most of you are back to work after the holidays), it’s time to take our look back on the decade that was.

    We asked your opinions on what the Oughts Brought, and now it’s time to start revealing the winners. We’ll be here with this all week, folks, so check back for more categories every day.

    Best/Worst Politician and Best/Worst Campaign awards after the jump.

    BEST POLITICIAN

    Ken Salazar (D)

    This might be the easiest choice on the entire list (well, after “Worst Campaign,” that is). At the beginning of the decade Ken Salazar was Colorado’s Attorney General, preparing for a re-election run in 2002. Now? He’s eighth in line to succeed the President of the United States.

    Salazar’s U.S. Senate victory in 2004 was the first major success by Democrats in Colorado in a decade, and during the 2008 Presidential election his name was floated as a potential choice for Vice President; had Hillary Clinton won the Democratic nomination for President, Salazar very well could have been the V.P.

    Had Salazar run for re-election to the Senate this year, he would have been a virtual lock to win a second term. But in 2009 he was confirmed as United States Secretary of the Interior, where he has overseen major overhauls of land policy already. Salazar is becoming a major player in national politics, and he has so much juice in Colorado that he could pretty much win whatever race he wanted. But don’t expect him back anytime soon–it’s no stretch to think that Salazar could be a top contender for President in 2016.

    RUNNER UP: Former Republican Gov. Bill Owens, the last true star for Colorado Republicans. Not coincidentally, Owens did not believe in the “drown government in a bathtub” philosophy that exists among many current Republicans and actually sought to govern in what he thought was in the state’s best interests. He wasn’t always right, but at least his answer to every question wasn’t the robotic “cut taxes, cut spending” mantra of today’s GOP–and that’s why he left office in 2007 with pretty strong approval ratings.

    HONORABLE MENTION: State Treasurer Cary Kennedy, who created Amendment 23 (love it or hate it, the measure has been important) and ran a seamless campaign in 2006, is in a great position to be Colorado’s first female governor in 2014.

    WORST POLITICIAN

    Marilyn Musgrave (R)

    The very definition of being a bad politician is losing a safe seat because of your own dumbass mistakes, and former CD-4 Rep. Marilyn Musgrave fits this description perfectly. Musgrave was embarrassingly ungracious in defeat when she lost in 2008 to Democrat Betsy Markey, though she was the only person surprised that she lost despite the 57-43 blowout margin. The fact that she was apparently shocked to have lost in 2008 shows just how out of touch she really was, since polls had indicated for weeks that Musgrave was dead.

    As a two-term incumbent in a district with a heavy Republican voter-registration advantage, Musgrave should never have lost this seat. But she was completely tone-deaf to the issues that actually mattered to people, never morseo than when she publicly declared that “Gay Marriage” was the most important issue facing America today. Gay marriage may have been important to some of her constituents–although those people were always going to vote for her anyway–but Musgrave never seemed to understand that social issues were most assuredly not the main problems people were facing in their lives. Markey ran a strong campaign in winning this seat, but Musgrave lost her job over a period of a few years by not paying attention to the real interests of her district.

    RUNNER UP:Former Republican state Sen. John Andrews, whose ultra right-wing nonsense has doomed every GOP politician who ever listened to what he had to say. If you were going to blame just one person for the Republican’s troubles in the last decade–though many people contributed to their fall–you could definitely pin the tail on Andrews. It was Andrews who drove the GOP off of a cliff with his leadership of the state Senate at the beginning of the decade; his obsession with social issues and his expressed belief that government sucks (including his desire to abolish public education altogether) didn’t sit well with a voting populace that kind of wanted their government to, you know, fix actual problems.

    DIS-HONORABLE MENTION:Republican Bob Schaffer, who started the decade in Congress but ended it by failing to win two different U.S. Senate races, including a blowout loss in 2008 to Democrat Mark Udall. Schaffer is the embodiment of the problems with the Colorado Republican Party, from an obsession with social issues to massive self-inflicted wounds.

    BEST CAMPAIGN

    John Hickenlooper, Denver Mayor, 2003

    In 2002, nobody outside of a small circle of folks in Denver had any idea what a Hickenlooper was; by late 2005, Hickenlooper was so popular that his approval rating–and this is completely absurd–was in the 80s across the Front Range. Hickenlooper and his staff did it by turning him into an incredibly likable and approachable character, but also by paying attention to small issues.

    Hickenlooper’s campaign was brilliant in its simplicity-a simplicity that too many Colorado politicians have yet failed to emulate. Hickenlooper eschewed the traditional and tired campaign ads of speaking into a camera and talking about Denver for a more playful approach that helped him stick out in a qualified, but boring, field of candidates.

    But the real genius was his focus on everyday issues in which every voter could relate: Parking meters. People were angry about an increase in the rate for parking meters in Denver, so Hickenlooper pledged to reduce them and told voters about it in a classic ad where he walked around town placing coins in expired meters. “Vote for me, and I’ll make parking meters cheaper,” wasn’t exactly John Kennedy-esque, but to the average voter it made a lot of sense. Or cents. Sure, there were bigger issues in Denver, but Hickenlooper’s campaign never forgot that the vast majority of voters don’t pay that much attention to politics–and that everybody uses parking meters.

    RUNNER UP: Ed Perlmutter (D), CD-7, 2006. In 2004, Republican Bob Beauprez was re-elected in CD-7 with 55% of the vote. Two years later, Perlmutter’s well-oiled campaign crushed Republican candidate Rick O’Donnell 54-42–despite the fact that Perlmutter first had to win a tough and expensive primary challenge–to make him the first Democrat to hold the seat. Perlmutter’s 2006 campaign and subsequent strong fundraising were so impressive that Republicans didn’t even bother mounting a serious challenge in 2008, despite the fact that CD-7 is a relatively competitive district by voter registration.

    HONORABLE MENTION: Wayne Allard, U.S. Senate (2002). “Lawyer, lobbyist,” the oft-chanted slogan used by Allard’s campaign to describe Democrat Tom Strickland in 1996 (borrowed from Strickland’s Democratic challenger Gene Nichols) and again in 2002, became one of the most effective memorable slogans in Colorado political history.  Allard didn’t win this race because of his charisma; indeed, he was so dull and ineffective in the U.S. Senate that TIME magazine later dubbed him “The Invisible Man” and one of the country’s five worst Senators. But what Allard’s campaign did do was relentlessly brand Strickland as a “lawyer lobbyist” while keeping a laser focus on a strong voter turnout effort. Strickland was much more charismatic and was a relentless fundraiser, but Allard’s campaign was a machine.

    WORST CAMPAIGN

    Bob Beauprez (R), Governor, 2006

    This one is an absolute no-brainer. Nevermind the decade–Beauprez’s 2006 campaign for governor might be the worst statewide campaign ever in Colorado.

    Beauprez was actually considered to be a very tough opponent when he first started running in 2005, and early polls had him ahead of everyone not named John Hickenlooper.  After two terms in Congress, including being named to the influential Ways & Means Committee, Beauprez was thought to be a formidable statewide candidate. But it turns out that running your own statewide campaign is different than having big brains from D.C. run your races for Congress.

    “Both Ways Bob” (has there ever been a more fitting nickname?) couldn’t make up his mind on anything. And when he did make a decision, he usually made sure to stick his foot in his mouth.  Beauprez’s campaign was so terrible that a race that should have been competitive was pretty much over before September. And to make matters worse for Republicans, what likely would have been a safe congressional seat in CD-7 had Beauprez not left ended up going to Democrat Ed Perlmutter in a landslide. Beauprez singlehandedly cost Republicans two of Colorado’s 10 biggest political seats in 2006, which will be hard for anyone to top.

    RUNNER UP: Bob Beauprez (R), Governor, 2006. Beauprez’s run was so bad that it’s just not fair to list a runner up and even place another campaign nearby.

    DIS-HONORABLE MENTION: Mark Hillman (R), State Treasurer, 2006. The former Senate Majority and Minority Leader was considered one of the GOP’s brightest stars when he was appointed State Treasurer in 2005 while Mike Coffman served in Iraq. Hillman soon announced plans to run for the job when Coffman was term-limited in 2006, but his bizarre inability to manage campaign funds cost him the election.

    Both Hillman and Democrat Cary Kennedy accepted voluntary spending limits, which restricted them to spending about $500,000 in total. By July 2006 Hillman had somehow already spent more than a third of that limit, while Kennedy’s campaign was scrimping and saving every dime for television ads in the fall. Kennedy ultimately won a close election, no doubt pushed over the edge by the fact that she was able to advertise on TV much more regularly than Hillman.

    Colorado is probably better off anyway; after all, who wants a Treasurer who can’t handle a budget?

    Pols Poll 2: State Treasurer

    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 State Treasurer in 2010?

    View Results

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    Pols Poll: State Treasurer

    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?

    Who Will Be Elected State Treasurer in 2010?

    View Results

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    Big Numbers from Stapleton for Treasurer

    Walker Roberts Stapleton, one of three Republicans taking a run at State Treasurer Cary Kennedy, announced very strong fundraising numbers yesterday. According to a press release:

    Setting a record fundraising quarter for a non-incumbent candidate for State Treasurer, Republican businessman Walker Stapleton raised $138,211 – with two-thirds of donors being Colorado residents.  The three-month effort leaves the Stapleton campaign with more than $126,000 cash on hand as Stapleton prepares to take on the incumbent Democrat.

    The Stapleton campaign set the new fundraising record despite the challenges of a difficult economic climate and limitations on donations due to Amendment 54.  Stapleton credits the results to his strong, pro-taxpayer message and growing dissatisfaction with one-party rule at the State Capitol.

    The “pro-taxpayer message” stuff is more than a little bit silly coming from this blueblood, but $138,000 is a ton of money for any quarter in a race for something like State Treasurer…even for someone who is a relative of George W. Bush. These numbers certainly put Stapleton in the driver’s seat for the GOP nomination and may very well end any thoughts that J.J. Ament and Muhammad Ali Hasan once had of running for the nomination themselves.

    Schools Bill Cuts to Heart of Why Dems in Control

    As The Denver Post reports:

    Lawmakers Sunday unveiled a plan to offer school districts low-interest loans to install solar panels on rooftops, build wind turbines or convert diesel-guzzling buses to battery power…

    …House Bill 1312’s architects couldn’t say how many schools might participate or the estimated size of loans. But they said the program would likely start with just a few schools at first, and windswept Eastern Plains school districts are likely candidates.

    The proposal heads to the House Education Committee today. It’s one of a handful of recent bills aimed at making alternative energy more affordable for more Coloradans.

    The cash for the loans would come from the vast swaths of land set aside to benefit schoolchildren in the 1800s.

    The state already invests proceeds from land sales, spends part of the interest and boasts a $581 million balance in the account.

    Rather than investing that money as the state typically would, it would lend some to schools at rates that are lower than a bank’s but high enough to match or outstrip the fund’s traditional return. The fund’s rate of return is 5.1 percent at the moment, said state Treasurer Cary Kennedy…

    …The wind turbine that Wray School District RD-2 switched on in late January was held up as an example of potential projects.

    The district expects the turbine – which churns out an average 11,000 kilowatts a day – to offset most of its $80,000-a-year electricity bill.

    Is this bill the solution to all that ails Colorado schools? Of course not, but it is a clever idea for helping schools keep more money while also investing in alternative energy, and it highlights a very real divide right now between Democrats and Republicans at the legislature. While the GOP is busy saying no to everything it can, Democrats are putting together creative pieces of legislation.

    This is a very simple difference that cuts to the heart of how each party has chosen to lead in the legislature. There’s no reason Republicans couldn’t come up with ideas like this if they weren’t so head-in-the-sand set on being “The Party of No.” Not only is this good public policy, but politically it is the kind of idea that Kennedy and Kerr can use to run for re-election. It’s how Democrats took control of Colorado in 2004 (by saying they’d work to solve major issues) and it’s how they’ve stayed in control since (by doing what they said they’d do).

    The problem for the GOP isn’t that they haven’t been “conservative” enough, or that Democrats have a few rich people on their side – it’s that Republicans don’t do anything with their elected positions, and Democrats do. It’s really not that complicated…but it doesn’t look like the GOP has figured it out yet.