Campaigns & Candidates

Election 2014: How I'm voting

Here sits my Colorado general election ballot on the kitchen table, ready to mark and mail. I wish it were not an all-mail election, but that's another discussion. For the information of many who always ask, and for discussion with readers who may agree or disagree (which makes the world go round), my intended votes on candidates, ballot issues, and judges are listed below.

As always, I am voting a straight Republican ticket. That's not with animosity toward Democrats or the minor parties, but simply because I'm convinced the GOP adheres best (albeit very imperfectly) to America's original and never-improved-upon "operating system," the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution.

Our communities, state, and nation are most likely to survive and thrive under the Republican principles of individual liberty, personal responsibility, limited government, free markets, peace through strength, and Judeo-Christian moral truth.

Thanks for your interest. Comments and questions are always welcome.

Federal Offices US Senate: Cory Gardner (R) US House, CD6: Mike Coffman (R) Elsewhere R's for Congress: Ytterberg CD7, Leing CD2, Walsh CD1

State Offices Governor: Bob Beauprez (R) Attorney General: Cynthia Coffman (R) Secretary of State: Wayne Williams (R) Treasurer: Walker Stapleton (R) CU Regent, CD6: John Carson (R) State Representative, HD-37: Jack Tate (R) Elsewhere State Board of Education: Fattor CD2, Mazanec CD4 Arapahoe County Offices Commissioner: Nancy Sharpe (R), Tory Brown (R) Clerk & Recorder: Matt Crane (R) Sheriff: David Walcher (R) Treasurer: Sue Sandstrom (R) Assessor: Corbin Sakdol (R) Coroner: Kelly Lear-Kaul (R)

Ballot Issues I am a no vote on everything except Prop 104. That includes local tax increases, not specified here, and expansion of marijuana sales (prevention of which in Lakewood requires a YES vote on Measure 2A).

If you want further discussMark Hillman, former state treasurer and state senator, contributed to our Centennial Institute blog a thoughtful rundown on the four statewide issues, aligning to my position with but a single exception.

No on Amendment 67: Define "person" to include the unborn I believe life begins at conception, and I would like to see state and federal law reflect that. But this poorly drafted and ill-advised measure wouldn't survive in court and only abets the pro-abortion fear mongers who want no conservatives in public office. Hillman aptly calls it "heartbreaking and hopeless" for pro-lifers like him and me.

No on Amendment 68: Expand casino gambling to horse racetracks Gambling is morally and economically corrosive to individuals and the community. We have more than enough of it, run by public and private entities, in Colorado already. Here I must part with my friend Sen. Hillman.

Yes on Proposition 104: Open meetings for teacher union negotiations Schools shouldn't be unionized like factories in the first place. But since they are, let's prevent sweetheart deals in secret between them and the school boards they often control via political money and muscle. Teacher union contracts weren't always even an open record until the school collective bargaining sunshine act I sponsored in 2001. Here's our chance to shine light on the bargaining process itself.

No on Proposition 105: Food labeling for genetically modified organisms Another move by the environmental scare lobby to demonize the poverty-fighting advances of scientific agriculture and burden free enterprise with needless costly regulations.

Judges for Retention I will again vote no on all judges. It's been my practice for many years.

Not all my friends will agree with this, even the most conservative. But I reason that nearly every judge will be retained, the best and the worst, deserving or not, despite some of us casting a principled protest vote against the toothless evaluation-and-retention system itself.

We need to put all the judges, and the legal profession they spring from, on notice that a substantial minority of Coloradans object to our state's minimally accountable judiciary.

Take for example this year's two state Supreme Court justices up for retention, the conservative Brian Boatright and the left-progressive Monica Marquez. I'd be glad to see Marquez return to private law practice, and I'd be thrilled if Boatright stayed on the court till retirement age. But for the reasons stated, neither gets my yes vote this time.

Let me also recommend Matt Arnold's excellent work through Clear the Bench Colorado, really the only vigilant watchdog out there, including his careful and objective ratings of judges' constitutional fidelity - far more useful than the tame, state-published Blue Book evaluations.

Ginger Rogers Wouldn't Approve of Such Tactics

I am a supporter of Ken Buck in the U.S. Senate race. My vote for him did not come automatically or without careful study and consideration. My first instinct several months ago was to support Jane Norton. At the time, I viewed Jane as an attractive candidate, coming onto the national scene on the coat tails of Sarah Palin. I read her as a tough, gritty conservative woman. I assumed she was a woman of character, ethics, old-west integrity and a person whose handshake equals an absolute bond of truth and sincerity. I had not heard much of anything about Ken Buck, but before I signed up as a volunteer for Jane, I felt compelled to make sure I was making the right decision. I started doing some homework on Ken Buck. When he was somewhat close to where I live, I made an effort to go and listen to him. Did the same with Mrs. Norton, to be fair, and it wasnt long before I started to doubt my friends in the GOP that were coaxing me to stand with Jane. Trust them, they said, we know which candidate can win.

I had a complete change of heart one Saturday morning in late winter when I heard a woman speak at a GOP monthly meeting. It was planned as a U.S. Senate candidate forum but neither Norton nor Buck could attend.  At that time, the field was crowded with other candidates. The room was overwhelmingly full of Norton enthusiasts, including many elected officials, both local and state-wide. Well respected persons in government positions took to the microphone to endorse Jane Norton. There was one woman that had come to speak on behalf of Ken Buck. I was absolutely struck by her passion in talking to the group. She was a woman I definitely could identify with--middle class, about my age, not comfortable in such situations, no rehearsed talking points and coached public speaking--but full of a fire that I believed was the true heart and soul of the Voice of the People Movement.  Having attended many tea parties and grassroots meetings hosted by a myriad of organizations, I knew a good, solid from-the-heart appeal when I heard one, and I heard one that morning. When the meeting adjourned, I was approached by the purple t-shirts of the Norton camp, asking me to fill donation envelopes, sign up to walk precincts and just to "Stand with Jane", afterall, I was a woman--all Republican women in Colorado were automatically expected to march in lockstep. By the time I made it to my car, I was no longer a blind follower of my county GOP's pick, and I was ready to learn more about Ken Buck, the DA from Weld, County.

In May, I was one of the very fortunate folks in Colorado to be able to attend and cast votes at the GOP State Caucuses. By that point, I was fully convinced I'd vote for Ken Buck, even though I had cast a straw poll vote for Norton back in March at my neighborhood caucus.

It's been a journey of enlightenment.  That cold night in March at my local elementary school and then the high energy experience in Loveland at the State Caucuses both seem so long ago. As the heat of mid-summer and evening storms bear down on us in these final days before the Primary, I've held out hope this race would remain civil and dignified. America has had enough of lies and platitudes and disingenuous politicians. I felt all year we could do better.

I attended a very informative lecture last evening given by KUSA's Adam Schrage, co-author of "The Blueprint..." Locally, we'd been encouraged by conservative radio to hear this young man speak and learn from his research and published findings. He was, indeed, an impressive speaker and presenter. I knew in advance the actual details of how Progressives organized and snatched Colorado from the GOP. I'd read the book but hadn't heard Mr. Schrage's presentation. The one point he made that I took to heart and took home was the reality that we will never, ever have one candidate that totally and completely meets all our requirements. No one, other than ourselves, lines up exactly with all of our ideals and positions on different issues. While he was party-neutral in his discussion, he was clear that it is essential to put aside petty issues once a primary is over and stand firmly with the candidate of your party---provided you want your party to win.

I knew as I left that he was right and I was committed that come Wednesday, August 11, I was going to be 4-square behind the electorate's choice for U.S. Senate and Colorado Governor. I kept reminding myself that we must win. We must put a Republican in those seats, even though the persons filling them may not be as conservative as I or may differ on an issue or two.

I've been disappointed by the childish attacks Jane Norton has levied against Ken Buck. I expected more from her.  The behavior definitely does not line up with my ideals of ethics and sense of decency that help define my political agenda. I'm old-fashioned because I believe persons in positions of authority deserve our respect and in turn, they need to live their lives and model behavior that compells the rest of us to try and elevate our own behavior and conduct in society.  It is very discouraging to watch a political campaign use tactics and words that I wouldn't allow my family to use in our home. 

Today, I received a glossy, high-dollar campaign flyer in the mail and while I understand a candidate has no real control over campaign slurs put out by independent groups, I know that the slur presented in this flyer is something Jane herself has hammered on for over a week.

"Grow Our Party", the powerful 527 group headed up by Bill Bloomfield, a California developer, was officially organized in March, 2010, according to an article written March 25, '10, by ABC News political correspondent, Matthew Mosk. (http://abcnews.go.com/print?id=10198868 The irony is unavoidable because Mrs. Norton has avoided her connections to Sen. John McCain for months and has tried unsucessfully to garner the support of Colorado's grassroots voters. Grow Our Party is top heavy with operatives from McCain's '08 run and now Sen. McCain is coming to Colorado to stump for Jane.  Grow Our Party hand-picks candidates and only seeks elitism in terms of the ad agencies, polling groups and other entities to associate with.  They know what's best for the Republican Party and someone like me is expected to follow their lead without question.  That's hard to do since I've been very vocal about the sorry effects Insider Politics have had on our country, especially in recent years. 

Apparently, when it was politically expedient to deny connection to John McCain other than being friends, Mrs. Norton did so, but now she needs his endorsement and the influx of money from his pals at Grow Our Party, who solicits and often collects donations in the $500,000 range. That's quite a step up for the hometown girl from Grand Junction, educated at CSU (her claim to grassroots fame).

I know Ken Buck and other candidates I'm supporting this cycle also have external special interest groups running ads, as well. But Mrs. Norton has been over the top. I've heard her at several debates. I've heard her repeatedly dodge questions during radio interviews and I've seen her lose her cool when questioned or challenged. She cannot be budged from her memorized scripts. Here's the thing that has literally broken my heart about this particular race:

"Grow Our Party" sent out this fancy flyer today which has a '50's era woman on the cover saying, "Whoa! Aren't we past this?" Inside, the memory of Ginger Rogers is invoked with the statement, "Ginger Rogers did everything Fred Astaire did, but she did it backwards and in high heels."  I've heard that comment alot and I've always wondered what Ms. Rogers would say about it.  She made a career out of dancing with Fred Astaire and she valued his friendship and the fact that worked so well together.  She could have danced entirely alone and had as much fame and fortune, but she knew the two of them together were even better.  The flyer is cutsy and clearly aimed at undecided women voters, but for me, it had the opposite effect. 

Anyone with any political knowledge of this race knows the reference being made. Jane Norton made some off-handed comment about her high heels, and later Ken Buck made a comment, also off-handed and done with humor. It's been a gold mine for the Norton camp, who failed to encourage "Grow Our Party" to include in this flyer the fact that a woman in Norton's camp recently went on record as saying something to the tune of, "It's time to sex up this campaign." They also fail to mention that the upper tier of Buck's campaign staff is all women. This smear campaign ad goes on to state, ...Ken Buck says the only reason to vote for him is because he doesn't wear high heels. They complete the lie by noting that his "disdain for women is obvious."

Jane Norton's husband hired Ken Buck many years ago. Did she question h is 'disdain' for women back then?   Does Jane Norton honestly think he disdains women when she sees the devotion, love and commitment he receives from his wife and daughter and that he clearly returns to them? According to Jane Norton and the big-money team in Washington, D.C., that has hand-picked her for the Senate, Ken Buck is not fit for about anything, yet as a concerned citizen of Colorado, I had not previously heard her complaints and concerns about him in his public service life. 

As Sean Hannity says, it's the silly season right now in politics. Our country faces so many horrific challenges. We have problems that I never expected to see within the borders of this country in my lifetime. Jane Norton and her camp have resorted to petty politics as usual. Win at any cost. Defame and demoralize a good man and his family. Whatever it takes. She is a woman with a vision of a long career in politics. She is propped up now by the power players in D.C., even though she has repeatedly denied associations of that sort all along.  Her agenda is clear. Voters are also clear in what we want and what we will and will not accept anymore; our kids are watching all of this and the bar should have been set higher.  This is not behavior moms of most young girls would endorse and hold out as an example for their child to follow.

The results will be in come Tuesday night. Colorado will have spoken and we'll know which candidates to unite behind and which to reject. In walking my precinct this evening, I visited with several Republican neighbors that also received that same flyer. They find it replusive, immature and one went so far as to say it's downright un-American. Mud-slinging for the sake of one's own political advantage doesn't rate too high these days. Our opponent is Barack Obama and his Congress.  Folks are so tired of it and the nasty ads that a debate in Pueblo has been cancelled because citizens simply don't want to sit through it anymore.

I have asked repeatedly to be taken off of Jane Norton's phone, email and mailing lists. I wish the cost of that flyer that came today had been donated to a disabled vet instead.  If I'd gotten a small notice that said money that might have been used to attack Ken Buck had instead been donated to a Veteran's Home, my opinion of Jane Norton would have really improved--alot.  Up until today, I was sure that if Jane Norton was the candidate on the November ballot, I'd put aside my feelings and vote for her. The young man giving the lecture last night also encouraged it: vote for the party candidate because you never get everything you want anyway.

After getting the mail today; however, I have new questions. What about personal integrity? What about decency and Christian charity?  What about taking responsibility for your behavior and keeping in mind you have an obligation to set a good example for kids and people we'd love to coax into the Republican Party?  What about expecting a fellow Colorado woman to be above petty, sophormoric, unbecoming behavior? How does a person reconcile your vote when one candidate resorts to behavior you could not accept in your family, church or place of employment?

Ken Buck's chances are now in the hands of the Lord. Only He knows whom He will bless with a win on Tuesday and whom He has deemed as the standard-bearer for us in November. I can overlook a few policy differences. I'm not so sure I can forgive an utter betrayal of common decency and treating one's fellow man with respect and dignity.

Pass the hemlock, please

Though the Tea Party movement is not a cohesive entity, its component parts this year have been grappling with a central existential question: To be, or not be, a third party?  Thus far, Tea Party leadership from across the country has made a concerted effort to keep its powerful, grass roots movement within the Republican Party.  As one of Colorado’s Tea Party leaders, Lesley Hollywood, told me recently, “We had to work at convincing people that the right approach was to work within the Republican Party – to restore its conservative principles and to keep it honest.”  The thinking is that third party candidates are relegated to the role of spoiler, and even in the rare occasion when they are well financed, have little chance of actually winning.  Principle is important, but power is essential to changing the way government works.   The Tea Party has learned to work the system, and the system has begun to work for them. Or so they thought.  Late on Monday, former GOP Congressman Tom Tancredo announced that he was entering the race for Colorado Governor as the candidate of the tiny American Constitution Party.    Even for those who know this mercurial politician well, Tancredo’s move represented a dramatic about face.  In December of 2009, Tancredo sent an open letter to Colorado’s Tea Party patriots, imploring them to get behind the Republican Party and not make the “suicidal” mistake of backing a third-party candidate from a small fringe party:

Some patriots are tempted to launch a third political party or back one of the existing small parties that never attract more than one or two percent of the vote in state races. I strongly believe that such a course is suicidal and would only result in splitting the conservative vote and guaranteeing the re-election of liberals and socialists.

I believe the Republican Party is the natural home of conservatives and that the road back to constitutional government lies in taking control of the Republican Party from top to bottom, from county committee to the statehouse and all the way to Washington, D.C.

According to the Denver Post, the ACP has 2,000 voters registered with the Colorado Secretary of State, and is the kind of fringe party that Tancredo rightly says never attracts more than a point or two of the vote.  But with a high-profile candidate in Tancredo, who has a dedicated core of state-wide support and a proven capacity to raise money, there is a very real fear that the American Conservative Party will split the Republican vote sufficiently to ensure that Democrat John Hickenlooper is elected in November.  As Colorado GOP Chair Dick Wadhams told the Wall Street Journal, “He wants to destroy Republican chances”.

Not that Republicans haven’t done a good job themselves of messing up the Governor’s race – the Republican front runner, Scott McInnis, has been embroiled in a high-profile plagiarism scandal, and  Tancredo’s stated rationale for joining the race is McInnis can no longer win.   But in the end, this move by Tancredo likely has less to do with politics and more to do with personality.  “Tancredo has an unquenchable thirst for national media attention, at any cost”, Wadhams told the Wall Street Journal.  Tancredo has gained a national following for his strident position on illegal immigration.  When Tancredo ran for the GOP presidential nomination in 2008, he ran an ad that was reminiscent of the “daisy girl” spot that LBJ ran against Barry Goldwater in 1964 – depicting a bomb being planted by illegal immigrants exploding in a mall and the slogan “Tancredo – before it’s too late”.

This kind of sensationalism from a Tancredo run is likely to suck the air out of the Colorado campaign season – at all levels.  In fact, conservatives worry that beyond splitting the conservative vote in the Governor’s race, Tancredo’s presence on the ballot will affect other races as well.  This includes the race in the critical 4th CD, where Republican Cory Gardner is running a hotly contested race against Democrat Incumbent Betsy Markey.  If Tancredo’s presence at the top of the ticket helps the ACP”s 4th CD candidate Doug Aden siphons away votes from Gardner, it could mean the difference in the race.

All of which is salt in the wound to Colorado Tea Party activists – especially in Northern Colorado, where Cory Gardner is from.  In an open letter to Tancredo the day before he made his decision to enter the race, Lu Busse, Chairwoman of the Colorado 9-12 Project Coalition wrote:

We clearly demonstrated at the precinct caucuses and state assembly (that the)Tea Party and other pro-liberty grassroots individuals have worked tirelessly for more than a year championing our principles, becoming engaged and informed, learning the political process, vetting candidates at all levels, and also reshaping the Colorado Republican Party as you advised.

For Tancredo, it’s do as I say, not as I do.  “He’s making a mockery of himself and the entire election process”, Lesley Hollywood told the Wall Street Journal.  “It seems like an enormous power grab”.

Or publicity grab, anyway.

Ken Buck's Grassroots Appeal

Memorial Day weekend in Colorado Springs should include a stroll down Colorado Blvd in Old Colorado City,taking in the food and frivolity of Territory Days.  The oldest city in the Pikes Peak Region, Old Colorado City was selected as the first territorial capitol of Colorado in 1861, although its reputation for being a rowdy place for gold miners and disputes among several area Indian tribes facilitated moving the capitol shortly thereafter. On Saturday, Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate, Ken Buck, walked the streets of Old Colorado City, visiting with locals and tourists alike.  The Weld County District Attorney was right at home in this historic community which reflects a true flavor of the Old West.

We were able to meet Ken Buck and hear him answer questions from other passersby about the economy and the general direction the country is heading.  Our distinct impression was that he's alot more about listening than simply dominating conversation with talking points and platitudes.  The street noise was much as it may have been back on a Saturday night in the Gold Rush Days, yet Mr. Buck leaned into to hear what people needed to tell him.  He looks people in the eye and extends a confident handshake.  We heard him ask people what issues matter to them right now and how their families are coping with the current economic climate.   He listened intently as people talked about being unemployed or having returned recently from overseas military duty.  In between smiles and shared humor, a sobering expression would quickly come over his face as he learned about a very difficult situation a person is having.

As Ken Buck strolled through the huge crowd, meeting and talking with people from all walks of life, all ages, all political persuasions and all economic backgrounds, he was definitely quite comfortable being amongst the cross section of people that make up the great state of Colorado.  His demeanor, as well as his stand on conservative issues  are clearly playing a big part in his popularity with the grassroots and tea party constituents.