Considering that Tuesday evening’s gathering of politicos was held at the fabled Palm restaurant in downtown Denver, you’d naturally expect a large contingent of movers and shakers moseying around the clubby steak house. But Mike Stratton and Jim Carpenter, hosts of this pre-State of the Union shindig, proved that politics is truly about the parties. This one, for sure, will go down as one of the best.
The occasion was the opening of a new consulting firm by Stratton — himself a longtime respected strategist who has overseen numerous political campaigns over the years — and Carpenter, most recently chief of staff for former Gov. Bill Ritter and before that manager of Ken Salazar’s successful 2004 Senate campaign, but whose political cred dates back to the days of Sen. Tim Wirth. Stratton and Carpenter have hyphenated their names and the twosome are now Stratton-Carpenter & Associates. Tuesday night was kind of like their official grand coming out party.
And everyone was there. Like about 200 bipartisan well wishers from all sectors of the political arena spanning the last 30 or 40 so years.
Since Stratton and Carpenter’s names have appeared in our paper in bold face numerous times over the years, we assume that they’ve become used to political Gossip and won’t mind if we share a few items gleaned from their soiree.
As we sauntered into the party, we immediately ran into Ginnie Kontnik, formerly of Sen. Ben Nighthorse Campbell’s office and currently with the Rocky Mountain Lions Eye Institute at the University of Colorado-Denver. The generally loquacious Ginnie didn’t have too much time to chat — she was en route to her own engagement party. (Local attorney Scott Eldredge is her lucky beau). But Ginnie managed to let loose that she’s dived back into politics full steam and is hosting a fundraiser for Denver mayoral candidate Chris Romer at her home on Saturday night.
Republican State Chairman Dick Wadhams, who tangled with Stratton when they each managed the campaigns of Wayne Allard and Tom Strickland, respectively, was singled out when Stratton made a few introductions. The two may have been on opposite sides of the political fence but share a mutual respect for each other. Dick was in an especially chipper mood, exhibiting his trademark impish smile for all to see. We think it may have had something to do with the fact that he had coffee this week with former state Sen. Tom Wiens, rumored to be a challenger to Wadhams when the state party elections roll around in March. But Wadhams, who a few weeks ago let it slip on these pages that he has an inch thick dossier on Wiens, reported that the Douglas County Republican will not be running for state chairman afterall. Wadhams said he met with Wiens for coffee this week and it was all very civil.
Among those who shared in the revelry Tuesday evening were Polly Baca, engaged in her own campaign for state chair on the Democratic side, newly confirmed Hickenlooper cabinet member Ellen Golombek, Alan Salazar, Cole Finegan, former Reps. Alice Madden and Buffie McFadyen, Evan Dreyer, lobbyist Bill Artist, GOP bizman Larry Mizel, Rick Reiter and Joan Braden, Greg Kolomitz, Steve Katich, Barry Hirschfeld and a zillion others.