By Leslie Jorgensen
THE COLORADO STATESMAN
LOVELAND — Dean Madere, a self-described “grassroots candidate” for the 4th Congressional seat held by Democrat U.S. Rep. Betsy Markey, contends that the Republican Party has lost its way.
“We haven’t been focusing on the right issues,” declared the 40-year-old political newcomer, who believes he’s got the right stuff to get the GOP back on track and win the Republican nomination to challenge Markey.
“We have to push forward our constitutional values — and make it clear that this country is a republic — not a democracy,” said Madere, who officially launched his campaign on Wednesday.
Madere joins a crowded field of GOP contenders that includes state House Minority Leader Cory Gardner, of Yuma; University of Colorado Regent Tom Lucero, of Loveland; and former Fort Collins City Councilman Diggs Brown, a Special Forces major in the Colorado National Guard who announced his candidacy on Nov. 15.
Madere said only a year ago he was like a lot of grassroots folks — sitting at home and grumbling about the general election results and direction of the country.
“It hit me that maybe I would be a better candidate than some of these Republicans in office,” he said.
“I didn’t think (Arizona Senator) John McCain was the best Republican candidate to run for president,” said Madere.
The only glimmer of hope, he said, was when McCain chose Sarah Palin, then the governor of Alaska, as his running mate.
“Sarah Palin represented what I represent — real people,” said Madere. “She’s not an elite politician catering to special interests. She represents the best of our party.”
“I admire the heck out of her!” he blurted.
Madere credited Palin for motivating people like him not only to vote, but also to get off the couch and spring into action.
Madere and Jeff Mast co-founded the Founding Fathers Education Association to promote the principles of the U.S. Constitution in Loveland in December 2008.
On April 15, Madere and his wife, Jana, took their three daughters — Kayla, 16, Jessie 11, and Madeline, 7 — to the Tea Party rallies in Denver and Loveland.
“They were really excited,” said Madere, who then helped organize the Loveland 9-12 project, an offshoot of Glen Beck’s conservative movement.
His passion for the founding fathers’ principles even emerged on Halloween, when Madere blogged:
“Welcome all Trick or Treaters!! I love the fun of Halloween. Tonight, I gave away copies of the Constitution with my candy. Candy tastes good, and the Constitutions feed the educational needs. Hopefully the kids and their parents enjoy both. Spread the Words!!”
Born in New Orleans, Madere grew up in a Houston suburb and graduated from the University of Houston with a B.A. in political science. He moved to Loveland nearly 11 years ago and is a sales manager of a “$5 million territory” for a heating and air conditioning company.
His newly discovered penchant for politics has now taken him to the next level — running for office.
“My family is very happy about my candidacy, especially my daughter Kayla,” he said.
“Kayla has heard me complain about the direction of our government for a long, long time. She’s glad to see me finally getting involved and doing
something about it,” he said with a laugh.
At the top of his “to fight” list is the federal government’s intrusion into state and local governments, businesses and private lives.
In reference to the Cap and Trade bill, Madere said that the federal government shouldn’t mandate energy policy to the states.
“That takes our liberties away,” he declared.
Next on his hit list is the Health Care Reform bill now headed for the U.S. Senate.
“The federal government is overreaching and taking too much control over our day-to-day lives,” Madere said. “I believe my mission is to serve the district and, above all, uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States.”
“The first question of any piece of legislation that I see must be to ask if it is within the power of the government to undertake, or if it belongs to another level of government, or could best be served by a private entity,” he said.
Those values surely appealed to radio listeners who recently heard Madere on “The Mike Church Show” on Sirius Satellite Patriot Radio and XM Satellite Radio on American Right channels. Church, a conservative radio host and musician, was named one of the Top Ten Shock Jocks in America in 2006. He’s affectionately known as “The King Dude” to his fans.
Madere sounded upbeat and carefree just a few hours before his official campaign kickoff on Wednesday at the Stone Ridge Grill on the Mariana Butte Golf Course in Loveland.
The candidate says he’s no political strategist or control freak and that he’s comfortable with a natural flow of events. So far, Madere’s campaign strategy involves being introduced by Kayla and his wife’s cousin, Frank Kunstal, and “keeping speeches short.”
“I don’t even know what they’re going to say,” said Madere. “I told my daughter to just write out her speech, and whatever she says is fine with me.”
He hopes that his announcement draws about 100 people. That might be a conservative estimate. Nearly 500 folks attended a recent Republican candidates’ forum sponsored by the Tea Party of Northern Colorado and the 9-12 project, both of which are sources of Madere’s grassroots support.
Chris Sullivan, who has known Madere for eight years, said he was impressed by his friend’s campaign delivery and the audience’s receptive reaction.
“The forum was Dean’s first event, and he did a great job,” said Sullivan. “He’s not a career politician, and he represents the ideas of the common people. There were a lot of people there who were very excited and into his message.”
Madere ally Mast said, “I’m impressed by Dean’s courage to run for office. That takes a lot of guts!”
Mast said that Madere has attracted support from a lot of people like him — unaffiliated voters who come out for general elections. Mast recently changed his registration to Republican and says he’s eager to attend his first precinct caucus.
“This district is very conservative and there are a lot of independent voters. I don’t understand how Betsy Markey won election last November,” said Mast. “Dean appeals to people like me because he’s not in this race for political gain — he sincerely wants to fix the mess we’re in.
“I’ve talked to the other candidates. They don’t hold anything over Dean,” Mast said.
Madere is unintimidated by his competition, particularly Gardner who was ranked by the National Republican Congressional Committee as a “Contender” in the “Young Guns” campaign program.
Last week, Gardner announced that he has nearly $400,000 in his campaign war chest — outpacing his Republican challengers.
“There are lots of stories of ‘David meeting Goliath’ candidates — and winning, not because of money but because of grassroots support,” said Madere. “That’s just like my campaign.”