Musgrave Endorses Gardner in CD-4

Republican Cory Gardner, who is seeking to unseat Democratic Rep. Betsy Markey in CD-4, recently received the endorsement of former CD-4 Rep. Marilyn Musgrave in a fundraising letter sent out to supporters that also included the endorsements of former Republican Rep. Bob Schaffer and former GOP Senators Hank Brown and Wayne Allard.

The support of Brown and Allard, and to a much lesser extent, Schaffer, is nice for Gardner to have. But does he really gain anything from getting the vocal support of Marilyn Musgrave? After all, the two-term Republican Musgrave was so unpopular that she barely survived her 2006 re-election before getting pummeled by Markey to the tune of 12 points in 2008 (and then being named the “Sorest Loser in America“).

We don’t see the benefit of Musgrave’s endorsement, but what do you think? Vote in the poll after the jump.

On another note, we did get a good chuckle out of the fundraising letter containing Musgrave’s endorsement. The prose is gooey-thick and maybe a tad overboard on the hyperbole with lines like this:

When we see the “Gardner for Congress” campaign, it’s like something right out of a Norman Rockwell painting.

We weren’t sure which Norman Rockwell painting Musgrave and friends was referencing, but after a quick search online, we found it:

Is Marilyn Musgrave's Endorsement Helpful for Gardner?

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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.


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.


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.


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.


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?

Musgrave: Lies beat me, but the truth set me free. Also, I’m not over 2008 yet.

( – promoted by Colorado Pols)

From The Denver Post:

Dethroned Congresswoman Marilyn Musgrave vowed revenge on the left in a fundraising letter in which she quotes the Bible and portrays herself as a political victim who stood up for family values.

“I tell everyone I’m recovering,” wrote Musgrave, a Fort Morgan Republican who lost her re-election bid in 2008.

“It’s certainly not easy to lose your seat in Congress. And harder still to be true to your values as I have been, but the radical homosexual lobby, abortionists, gun-grabbers and all the rest of the extremists finally spent enough money, spread enough lies and fooled enough voters to defeat me.”

Musgrave, who was not available for comment, is raising money for “Votes Have Consequences,” a project aimed at exposing “pro-abortion politicians.”

“Using everything – the Internet and guerilla-style publicity campaigns along with old-fashioned grassroots organizing methods – we will go on the offensive against a select group of politicians from all over America,” Musgrave wrote.

“We’ll do to them what the most rapid and relentless left-wing groups did to me over the last six years but with one major difference: ‘We’ll tell the truth.’ ”

Musgrave served three terms in Congress before losing to Fort Collins Democrat Betsy Markey 56 percent to 44 percent. The seat had been viewed as safe for Republicans until Musgrave nearly lost in 2006.

As skeptical as many of us are about the “new leadership” offered by young Colorado GOPers like Josh Penry and Ryan Frazier, I think they at least represent a welcome shift away from the tactics of the old guard (Musgrave: “You’ve always hated gays, so vote for me”; Tancredo: “You’ve always hated immigrants, so vote for me”). I guess that’s a start.

…Musgrave’s letter prompted Markey to send out her own appeal for contributions.

“You’d better believe I will be at the top of her target list when it comes to trying to trying to knock Democrats out of Congress,” Markey wrote.

She accused Musgrave of “spewing the same hate-filled language we heard during the campaign.”

Among the left-wing groups that targeted Musgrave was Progress Now. Director Michael Huttner on Monday disagreed that his organization distorted Musgrave’s record.

“That’s complete nonsense,” Huttner said. “She is as crazy as ever. She’s a right-wing nut job, and the voters in her district held her accountable.”

Musgrave criticizes Obama in Weekly Standard

( – promoted by Colorado Pols)

Ex-Rep. Marilyn Musgrave has an article today in the Weekly Standard on President Barack Obama’s actions on abortion issues since taking office.

Musgrave, who was an uncompromising voice on one side of the abortion issue, criticizes Obama for not being, well, compromising.

More details at my Coloradoan blog here:

Musgrave co-authored the article with Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the Susan B. Anthony List, which also is Musgrave’s current employer.

Musgrave and Dannenfelser are meeting today and Wednesday in Denver, setting strategy for 2010 and “Votes Have Consequences,” the SBA List initiative Musgrave is heading.

Marilyn Musgrave sighting! (sort of)

( – promoted by Colorado Pols)

POLS UPDATE: The Fort Collins Coloradoan has the story. Marilyn Musgrave is alive! And concedes defeat! In a robocall! To Georgia!

Here’s the audio:…

In her first public comments on her re-election loss – made in a mass phone call to Georgia voters – Rep. Marilyn Musgrave blames her defeat on “leftist special interests” who “smothered the truth with vicious attacks and lies.”

Musgrave’s remarks came in a so-called “robocall” that went out to 200,000 Georgia voters Monday and today on behalf of Sen. Saxby Chambliss, a Republican who was forced into a runoff with Democratic challenger Jim Martin. The election is today.

“Hello, I’m Marilyn Musgrave. Until last month I was the congresswoman from Colorado,” Musgrave said in the call, which was paid for by the Susan B. Anthony List, a political committee that supports anti-abortion candidates.

“Leftist special interests from around the country poured money into my district to defeat me. They overwhelmed us with money. And they smothered the truth with vicious attacks and lies.

“We are seeing the same pattern in Georgia. Pro-abortion radicals and liberal activists won’t stop until they have a chokehold on our government. You can stop them with your vote. It’s too late to change the results in Colorado, but on Tuesday you can cast your vote for Saxby Chambliss.”

Musgrave has made no other public comments since shortly after vote totals started coming in the evening of Nov. 4…

The incumbent didn’t make the traditional post-election appearance to thank supporters, and never conceded defeat or called Markey to congratulate her. Musgrave has declined all interview requests since the election.

We’re, pardon the pun, speechless. Original post follows.

While she still has yet to concede her defeat in CD4 or even thank her volunteers, Musty is back on the campaign trail….in Georgia.


She recorded a GOTV phone message for Saxby Chambliss on behalf of the Susan B. Anthony List Candidates Fund, according to this press release.

You can’t make this stuff up, I swear.

BREAKING: NRCC Pulls Out of Musgrave Race

UPDATE: Confirmed by The Fort Collins Coloradoan.

The NRCC has apparently decided to pull out of CD-4, leaving Rep. Marilyn Musgrave to fight Democrat Betsy Markey on her own.

Both the DCCC and the NRCC have done extensive polling recently, and from what we understand, the numbers aren’t good for Musgrave. So today the NRCC sent a letter to local television stations pulling their advertising buy after this week. In other words, the NRCC is going dark for the last week or so of the election.

Could this finally be the year that Musgrave runs out of her game-winning drives? It’s beginning to look that way.

A problem with Marilyn Musgrave’s campaign website

(How does a web admin get it this wrong? – promoted by DavidThi808)


Don’t look now, but there’s a problem with the website for Rep. Musgrave’s re-election. But no one has noticed, so I guess no one ever goes there?

I should call this diary of a madman…

Why would I go to Rep. Musgrave’s site?


I’ve been a proud Democrat all my life (except briefly when I was 12-13 — but that’s another story), but I had received an e-mail from her opponent, Betsy Markey (her own website is: and doesn’t have any problems that I can see) — well, sorry about the parentheticals! I’ll get to the main gist:

Musgrave’s site had a security hole the size of the gap between her record and her campaign. I thought I could create an account like at Barack Obama’s site, and I did. I didn’t think I should be able to re-configure the whole site! So I did — sorta. I turned off the site, like unloading a gun that you find but you really, really wish you hadn’t found it because now you’re all responsible in case any one gets hurt and why can’t this ever happen to someone else…


So I wrote an e-mail to the administrator of the site. I wrote an e-mail to another account at the site. NO ONE HOME. So I took the site off-line. And I wrote another e-mail.

I wonder if anyone will notice?

UPDATE: Apparently more people read this blog than administrators of Musgrave’s campaign site read (and reply to) their e-mail!

4:15pm SITE STILL DOWN! And when I locked the door behind me, I didn’t leave a “backdoor” or keep a key. As I was trying to do the right thing — imagine if you went to a store during your lunch that you WOULD NEVER SHOP, but that somebody left the keys in the locks — or even left the ability to change the locks and make new keys! You could walk away — and from the comments below, some people might say I should have — or you could contact the store manager and lock the doors behind you.

Well, that’s what I chose to do. I tried to do the right thing, but did I? Time will tell!

“Vote Vets” Ads Best in Colorado

Put aside, for a moment, whatever you think of the race in CD-4 between Rep. Marilyn Musgrave and Democratic challenger Betsy Markey. The ads being produced this year by the organization “Vote Vets” are some of the best political spots on television (which isn’t all that difficult considering the crap we’ve seen in Colorado from both sides, but nevertheless…)

Take a look at “Vote Vets” most recent ad in Colorado:

Markey Leads Musgrave by Seven in New Poll

Those of you with better memories than ours may remember better, but if we’re not mistaken this is the furthest behind Republican Rep. Marilyn Musgrave has ever been heading into an election. As Roll Call reports:

Democrats descended on Denver this week for their nominating convention as a way of signaling their commitment to making the Centennial State – and the Mountain West as a whole – competitive in the presidential race. The poll done for Roll Call seemed to bear that out, as McCain led Obama by just 2 points, 48 percent to 46 percent.

Meanwhile, Musgrave trailed Democratic challenger Betsy Markey 50 percent to 43 percent in the poll conducted by SurveyUSA for Roll Call [Pols emphasis]. Seven percent remained undecided. In an equally troubling sign for Musgrave, 51 percent of respondents said they had an unfavorable view of the three-term Congresswoman, while 31 percent viewed her favorably.

The poll of 618 likely voters was taken Aug. 22-24. It had a 4-point margin of error.

The survey found that Markey had a big lead among female voters, 53 percent to 38 percent. The two women were essentially tied among male voters.

More importantly, Markey had a huge lead in two voter groups that will be essential in deciding the election: independents and moderates. She led by 30 points among independent voters, 59 percent to 29 percent, and by 41 points among self-described moderates, 67 percent to 26 percent. Musgrave will have to close the gap in those two groups in order to have a chance at making the race competitive heading into Election Day.

Markey Featured Prominently in NY Times

Democrat Betsy Markey, who is challenging incumbent Rep. Marilyn Musgrave in CD-4, is featured prominently in an article in today’s New York Times:

The fierce tactical positioning of candidates here and elsewhere – some call it pandering and waffling – is producing a convergence of sorts around the idea that more is better, that an expansion of energy production from all sources and places will somehow fix things, lower prices and restore stability to the economy.

“It’s a very fine line to walk,” said Betsy Markey, a Democrat who is challenging Representative Marilyn Musgrave, a Republican, here in the Fourth District.

Ms. Markey opposes drilling for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, for example; Ms. Musgrave heads there this week to decide for herself. Both candidates support expansion of renewable energy like wind, but Ms. Markey says that Ms. Musgrave’s long record on the issue – voting against renewable energy standards in Congress as recently as last August and against tax credits for the wind industry this year – tells a different story.

Markey also is running her first TV ad of the campaign (after the jump):


Musgrave More Loyal Than Your Dog

UPDATE: Fort Collins Now political columnist Rebecca Boyle writes:

Democrats cheered the news Wednesday that Vice President Dick Cheney was in Colorado to raise money for U.S. Rep. Marilyn Musgrave, the Republican from Fort Morgan, who is in a fight for her political life in the 4th Congressional District.

Musgrave’s opponent, Betsy Markey, made hay of the much-maligned veep’s visit in a fundraising email, exhorting supporters to counter the money Cheney would raise.

“A single event with Dick Cheney will bring thousands of dollars into Marilyn Musgrave’s campaign. Dollars that will most certainly be used to distort and attack both my record and positions on the issues in ways that may very well make Karl Rove blush. Dollars that will go towards making certain that the corrupt, status quo that has been present in Washington is maintained and strengthened,” Markey wrote…

For their parts, the Colorado Democratic Party and ProgressNow Action highlighted the fact that taxpayers funded the trip, because Cheney traveled via Air Force Two.

Cheney is hardly the biggest boldface-name Republican to campaign for Musgrave. In 2004 and 2006, President Bush came to Greeley to campaign for her.

Colorado State University political science professor John Straayer, a longtime political observer, said the visit would help Musgrave in terms of money, but little else…

Probably not the kind of ranking you really want to have if you’re a Republican candidate in 2008.

As The Fort Collins Coloradoan reports:

Since taking office in 2003, Musgrave has voted in accordance with White House wishes 84 percent of the time, compared to an average of 80 percent for all House Republicans during the Bush presidency that began in 2001, according to a study released last week by Congressional Quarterly.

The three-term Republican representative from Fort Morgan sided with her party on 97 percent of the most partisan votes during her tenure, above the 92 percent average for her fellow Republicans and 93 percent for Democrats.

“Bring Out Your Dead!”…”I’m Not Dead Yet!”

According to The Washington Post blog The Fix, Colorado’s 4th district is now the 16th most likely to switch hands in 2008:

16. Colorado’s 4th district (R): By far the biggest oversight on our most recent Line was the exclusion of this Colorado seat held by Rep. Marilyn Musgrave (R) since 2002. Despite its strong Republican leanings — President Bush won it with 58 percent in 2004 — Musgrave is a consistent underperformer, and faces a well-funded opponent in Democrat Betsy Markey. This is a major weak spot for Republicans. (Previous ranking: N/A)

Musgrave has been counted out before and come back to win by narrow margins, but the conventional wisdom seems to be that 2008 is the year she finally loses. Republican Rep. Cory Gardner is still openly talking about running for CD-4 in 2010 and tells anyone who will listen that Musgrave is a likely loser this time around.

The Rothenberg Political Report also has CO-4 in the “Pure Toss Up” category, with a slight lean for the Democrat.

It has also been rumored that the NRCC told Musgrave that they wouldn’t be doing much to help her this year, but those rumors are often spread to spur candidates to raise more money themselves.

Musgrave Backs Armstrong

According to a press release from the campaign of Republican Wil Armstrong, who is running for congress in CD-6:

Today US Rep. Marilyn Musgrave endorsed Wil Armstrong for congress.  Rep. Musgrave cited Armstrong’s business experience as a critical factor.

“Wil is the only candidate in the race with extensive business experience” Musgrave said, “having spent years hiring employees, building businesses and managing them through fluctuating economies.

“Finally, Wil Armstrong is a devout family man who leads by example.  He is a steadfast and principled conservative.  Colorado families would be fortunate to have Wil Armstrong fighting for them in Congress.”

In addition to her formal endorsement, Rep. Musgrave also released a short video clip of her support for Armstrong.  The video is available at:

In the video, you can almost hear Musgrave saying, “Was that okay, Bill?”

Just kidding, but how well does a Musgrave endorsement play in CD-6? No doubt all of the candidates would have been happy to have her support, but in the end, how much does it really do for Armstrong?

Musgrave for President!

The scenario seems plausible enough–a battered Republican Party, realizing that John McCain can’t win in November, pulls a switcheroo at the GOP National Convention and ends up with a new candidate instead.

The Huffington Post outlines this potential scenario, which might seem credible until this list appears at the end of the story of possible replacement candidates:

Here’s a list of names. Some you know, some you don’t. But each of them knows their name is in play. Among them —

Condoleezza Rice (Secretary of State)

Colin Powell (fmr Sec. of State)

Marilyn Musgrave (Colorado Congresswoman)[Pols emphasis]

Mitt Romney (fmr Massachusetts Governor)

Mike Huckabee (fmr Governor of Arkansas)

Charlie Crist (Florida Governor)

Tim Pawlenty (Minnesota Governor)

Bobby Jindal (Louisiana Governor)

Mark Sanford: (Governor of South Carolina)

John Thune (Senator from South Dakota)

Dick Lugar (Senator from Indiana)

Chuck Hagel (Senator from Nebraska)

Michael Bloomberg (NYC Mayor)

Musgrave is in danger of losing her own congressional seat here in Colorado, but she would be a better Presidential candidate than McCain?

Republicans Look Ahead to November

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

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

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

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

    Why Mississippi Offers More than Just Hope for CD-4

    ( – promoted by Colorado Pols)

    I’m not an impartial observer of the campaign process here in Colorado and don’t pretend to be.  But numbers are numbers and sometimes they speak for themselves with no need for spin.

    Consider this…Democrats have won three special elections in the last few weeks in districts that are about as red as they get.

    Look at the numbers:

    IL-14: Bush won the district with 55% in 2004 and House Speaker Dennis Hastert received 60% of the vote in 2006.  Hastert held the seat since 1986.  Coincidentally, this district is Ronald Reagan’s boyhood home.

    LA-06: Bush won the district with 59% in 2004 and Republican Congressman Richard Baker got 83% of the vote in 2006.  Republicans had held the seat for more than 20 years.

    MS-01: Bush won the district by 62% in 2004 and Republican Congressman Roger Wicker received 66% in 2006.  The fun fact here was this seat has been in Republican hands since 1941…it was represented by the same Republican (Jamie Whitten) from 1941-1994 – a longer tenure than Michigan Congressman John Dingell.

    How does this stack up against Colorado’s 4th District?

    CO-04: Bush won the district with 58% in 2004 and Marilyn Musgrave received only 45.6% of the vote in 2006.  In fact, Musgrave had the lowest percentage of ANY winning candidate – Democrat or Republican, incumbent or challenger – in 2006.  She’s held the seat only since 2002 and her winning percentage has decreased by an average TEN points since she was first elected.  The fun fact here: Democratic Governor Bill Ritter won this district with 53% of the vote in 2006.

    So with all due respect to ColoradoPols Big Line – 2006 was not our best shot here.  2008 is.

    I’ll be the first to admit though that all the numbers can be in your favor…but without a great candidate you won’t go anywhere.

    Tomorrow night in Colorado Springs the CD-4 Dems are going to nominate Betsy Markey to take on Marilyn Musgrave.

    Betsy is the only candidate in this race who is out talking about the economy and has offered her own plan on how to tackle the issues that matter, which you can find right here:

    And she’s not afraid to take your questions in person.  She already held one town hall on the economy in Greeley last week…and this coming Wednesday, May 21 at 5:30 she’ll be holding the second in Fort Collins at Boltz Junior High cafeteria at 720 Boltz Drive.

    There’s been a lot of talk about Marilyn Musgrave changing her image…but not much has really changed and we will make sure that voters are aware come November.

    And quite frankly, most of Congresswoman Musgrave’s image makeover is laughably ironic compared with Betsy’s background.

    Consider the much talked about visit Musgrave made to the Larimer County Food Bank in late 2007.  There were a lot of press pictures and much made about her image makeover…but in order to get in the front door of the Larimer County Food Bank you need to pass the large sign on the wall thanking former Food Bank Board of Directors President Betsy Markey for raising nearly a million dollars for their capital campaign.

    We are glad to see that Congresswoman Musgrave has come around on the Farm Bill…after all, only a few months ago she voted against it.…

    We’d also like to see her turn some of her attention to drought and disaster assistance for the Eastern Plains – measures she has voted against in the past.…

    And it would be nice if she was with America and the district on the issue of turning over those big oil subsidies to incentives for renewable energy.…

    And it is interesting that even as Musgrave is touting her support of the farm bill in the district, she’s hoping people ignore the other vote she took today – to oppose an amendment to restore full GI Bill educational benefits to the veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.…

    Maybe fear of losing her seat will do what nothing else has done – force Marilyn Musgrave to focus attention on issues that matter to her district as opposed to issues that matter to the extreme right wing of the Republican Party.

    But given the results in Illinois, Louisiana and Mississippi…we are betting that voters will be a little less forgiving this year.

    Anne Caprara

    Manager, Betsy Markey for Congress

    My lunch with Betsy

    Ok, I do tend to err on the optimistic side – but I was right on Jim Webb and Jon Tester. I think Betsy is going to win CD-4, and win by 3 points or more. She’s WOW.

    I had lunch with Betsy today and the biggest impression I got from her is she’s nice. Yes she’s professional, knowledgeable, competent, and thoughtful. Yes she has strong well thought out policy positions. But more than all of that, she’s a very nice person.

    Nice is a killer advantage for a candidate, especially a legislative one. And compared to Marilyn Musgrave, The Evil One, it is a gigantic difference. This gives her a couple of points easy. It also will make it a lot harder for MM to smear her as people will find any garbage very difficult to believe.

    Ok, so what kind of Rep do we get with Betsy? She’s a small business owner and that background has a big impact. It starts with a search for solutions and agreement, because you can’t be successful in business without both. It also gives her a lot of confidence and credibility because she has, year after year, kept the money rolling in and the employees paid.

    With Betsy we get a Rep that understands the small business world from the inside, as well as the high tech industry. Keep in mind that virtually all job growth in this country comes from small businesses and you realize how very valuable this is to have in Congress.

    Her hot button is bringing sanity to the federal budget. And she had a lot of spot-on observations of the impact of the deficit spending and how to address it. So she would be a strong contributor on this issue.

    With that said, she suffers from the common Democratic error of diving in to the core problem and how to resolve it and that doesn’t sell that well. If instead she can concentrate on the impact the irresponsible Republican spending has on people, lost jobs, destroyed pensions, high unemployment, inflation outracing salaries – then this becomes a very powerful issue for her. She touched on these items too but she needs to make the impact the issue – people will trust her to know how to fix it.

    I prompted her on Iraq and health-care. Very sensible answers on both. On Iraq it’s bring them home a brigade at a time because there is no end game in sight. It’s hard to argue with and her point of there being no end in sight should sell well in her district.

    On health-care I heard one of the best answers to date – that we need to have full coverage with larger risk pools. As to what/how/when, work with others in Congress to find the best way to do it be it single payer, mandated coverage, etc. But we do need to find a solution that gets everyone covered and brings our spending down to levels found in the rest of the industrialized world. This is that business background in action – see the key parts, and for the rest figure out what meets those requirements best.

    Granted, CD-4 has been heartbreaking for us Dems. We’ve lost time after time by close numbers. And to rub salt in the wound, we’ve lost to one of the most corrupt, bigoted, and ineffective members of Congress. But what is key is that each year we get closer. Each year the district is a bit more liberal. And we have a very strong candidate this year.

    So your job? 1) Anyone you know in her district – make sure they are registered. 2) This is the competitive race in Colorado (Sweatshop Schaffer is toast). So everyone needs to click here and donate today. I don’t care if it’s just $25.00 – show Betsy some love today.

    Update: I did not do a good job above of describing what I think we will get with Betsy. One of the most critical jobs in Congress, that is almost invisible to most, is the money people. No money, no programs. Alexander Hamilton, John Rockefeller, Warren Buffet, all of them were/are creatures of the spreadsheet (Hamilton used Quill 123).

    Betsy will end up on appropriations, not to deliver earmarks for her contributors (as MM would use it) but as one of the people that figures out how to make the federal budget work. This may be invisible to most, but it is one of the most critical jobs in Congress. And it is essential that it be held by competent honest representatives, like Betsy.

    Originally posted at Liberal and Loving It

    The New Marilyn Musgrave

    Maybe “the new Musgrave” is going a little too far with her makeover.

    But in all seriousness, we will commend Rep. Marilyn Musgrave for a willingness to be playful with kids. As The Fort Morgan Times reports:

    U.S. Rep. Marilyn Musgrave, R-Colo., made an appearance in Fort Morgan on Monday morning wearing a set of light blue pajamas, slippers and a colorful jester hat.

    Although her whimsical visit to Green Acres Elementary School in Fort Morgan had nothing to do with politics or constituent concerns, the congresswoman said the purpose of her presentation was no trivial matter.

    Musgrave, who was accompanied by the nightwear-clad faculty at Green Acres, said Sunday would have been the 104th birthday of the late children’s author Dr. Seuss.

    In an effort to promote reading in schools, Musgrave said, she took the opportunity to dress like a Dr. Seuss character and recite the familiar author’s famed picture book, “The Cat in the Hat.”

    NRCC Troubles a Concern for Musgrave

    Politico reports on the financial mess that continues to plague the NRCC:

    The accounting scandal now haunting the National Republican Congressional Committee was preceded by a series of decisions over the past decade to relax internal financial controls at the committee, according to numerous Republican sources familiar with the NRCC’s operations during those years.

    Under Virginia Rep. Tom Davis and New York Rep. Thomas Reynolds, who chaired the committee from 1999 until the end of 2006, the NRCC waived rules requiring the executive committee – made up of elected leaders and rank-and-file Republican lawmakers – to sign off on expenditures exceeding $10,000, merged the various department budgets into a single account and rolled back a prohibition on committee staff earning an income from outside companies.

    These changes gave committee staffers more freedom to spend money quickly and react to a shifting political landscape during heated campaign battles, and House Republicans were able to claim larger majorities after the 2000, 2002 and 2004 elections.

    But the actions also may have contributed to a perceived lack of oversight within the NRCC, especially over financial records, a failure that outside observers blame for an accounting scandal that could go much deeper than the allegedly forged audit a former treasurer sent to the committee’s principal lender in January. NRCC officials contacted the FBI soon after discovering that the former employee, Christopher J. Ward, had submitted what they believe to be a fake internal audit to Wachovia as part of a loan application by the committee.

    The Colorado angle to all of this is how the NRCC’s financial woes end up hurting Republican Rep. Marilyn Musgrave. Musgrave’s re-election bids were bailed out in 2006 and 2004 by an infusion of NRCC cash, but the longer this scandal goes and the more it impacts fundraising, the more that Musgrave will be forced to rely on her own money means. The NRCC currently has about $6.4 million, compared to $35.5 million for the DCCC.

    Fortunately for her, Musgrave is raising plenty of coin on her own. But if challenger Betsy Markey can close the fundraising gap, Musgrave may be on her own while Markey will likely have support from the DCCC. All of this bodes well for Markey…provided that she can raise enough money on her own in order to make the target list.

    Musgrave Wants Appropriations, But Who Doesn’t?

    From The Hill:

    Rep. Marilyn Musgrave’s (R-Colo.) entrance into the contentious battle for the open Appropriations Committee seat pits the House campaign committee chairman against two of his most vulnerable members.

    Musgrave’s decision to jump into the race, first reported by on Tuesday, has deepened the dilemma facing House Republican leaders – who will attract criticism with any decision they make.

    Musgrave and Rep. Dave Reichert (R-Wash.), who is also seeking the seat, are members of the Regaining Our Majority Program (ROMP), a National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) fundraising effort that is geared toward retaining members who sit in targeted districts.

    There are currently 17 members who benefit from ROMP’s fundraising efforts.

    NRCC Chairman Tom Cole’s (Okla.) decision to run for the open seat has ruffled feathers inside and outside the Capitol. Some Republicans believe that the coveted seat should go to a vulnerable member of the conference, while other GOP officials and groups are pushing for earmark foe Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.)

    D’oh! Musgrave is running against the guy who she needs to help fund her re-election bid? It will be interesting to see how this plays out. Cole reportedly wants the seat so he can use it to help raise money for the NRCC, which trails the DCCC in fundraising.

    Musgrave Raises $290,638

    Incumbent Republican Rep. Marilyn Musgrave reported raising $290,638 in Q3, leaving her with a cash on hand total of $602,463. Musgrave continues to raise significant money in her bid for re-election, putting heavy pressure on Democrat Betsy Markey to keep up.

    Who Will Win? (CD4)

    Now that Angie Paccione is out of the race in CD-4, it’s time to update the poll question for our annual “Who Will Win” query.

    Last month we asked about the primary, and you overwhelmingly picked Paccione to defeat Betsy Markey. Now it’s time for the general election.

    Remember, we want to know who you think will win the race – not who you support.

    Who Will Win in CO-4?

    View Results

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    CD-4 Back in Top 10 Nationally…But Should It Be?

    According to The Washington Post blog “The Fix”:

    So here’s our shot at the top 10 House races in the country today. The contest ranked number one is the most likely to switch parties in 2008. The comments section awaits your kudos and criticisms.

    To the Line!

    10. Colorado’s 4th District (Currently R): Every election we look at the strong Republican performance of this district and conclude that there is no way Rep. Marilyn Musgrave can lose the seat. And every election she barely manages to win. This time we won’t be fooled. Democrats are heavily targeting this race and Musgrave has proven that she underperforms in this eastern Colorado seat. Angie Paccione, the Democrat who lost to Musgrave by less than 6,000 votes in 2006, is back for another race but faces a serious primary challenge from Betsy Markey, a former aide to Sen. Ken Salazar (D-Colo.) Salazar has already endorsed Markey, which could well give her a leg up in the primary. This race shouldn’t be close given the district’s demographics but it will be.

    The race in CD-4 will probably be close again, but it’s doubtful that it will be as narrowly-decided as it was when Musgrave edged Paccione last fall. 2006 was probably the Democrats’ best chance to win this seat.

    Musgrave has worked hard to change her image after national Republicans finally soured on spending so much money to defend a seat that should be safely Republican. There are still 57,000 more registered Republicans in CD-4 than Democrats, and a softer, more moderate Musgrave is going to be a lot tougher to knock off than she was this time last year. A rational Republican should never lose in this Republican district, and there’s no denying that Musgrave has gotten good press lately for her change of face.

    In 2006 it looked like Democrats had a great chance to pull the upset here. That’s just not the case anymore, especially when Democrats are going to spend a lot of money just trying to get through a primary.