Former Denver Republican Party Chairman Danny Stroud is a well-known personality in the 1st Congressional District who is clamoring for a chance to take on incumbent Democrat U.S. Rep. Diana DeGette, but a truck driving political neophyte may deny him the opportunity.
Stroud’s primary opponent, 61 year-old Denver resident Richard Murphy, is virtually unknown in Colorado politics, so much so that Colorado Republican Party Chairman Ryan Call had to call Stroud looking for the trucker’s phone number.
Although Stroud — a Denver businessman who just turned 59 — still won the top line at the CD 1 nominating assembly on April 13 with 81 votes, or 56 percent, Murphy’s candidacy was buoyed by a surprise showing of Ron Paul supporters who secured his place on the ballot with 64 votes, amounting to 44 percent.
Murphy has contemplated running against DeGette in the past, but he had reservations about how it could be done. He said he had never even heard of Stroud, or knew that the former chairman was in the hunt for the same congressional district as him until the night of the nominating assembly.
“I don’t know much about Dan Stroud and I don’t care to,” Murphy said, “I just thought, ‘Oh geez, we have another one here. Well, sorry Dan, I’m not backing out.’”
Stroud said he had heard that “something was afoot” in the Paul camp, but he was still taken by surprise when Murphy was nominated.
“I don’t know where Murphy came from,” Stroud said. “I don’t know if he was in their plans or popped up from the floor. Everyone is entitled to run and that’s the way it works, I just wonder about his seriousness.”
In questioning Murphy’s seriousness as a candidate, Stroud pointed to the fact that Murphy is not currently accepting donations for his campaign and doesn’t have an official campaign website.
Stroud also wondered about Murphy’s choice for campaign manager, House District 7’s Republican district captain Chris Maj.
Maj was at one time a Democratic candidate for mayor of Rochester, NY, where he ran on an unconventional platform that included forming a Rochester militia.
“Who hires a campaign manager like that if you want to run as a conservative Republican candidate for Congress?” Stroud asked. “It doesn’t make any sense to me.”
Maj shrugged off the fact that he was formerly a Democrat.
“A lot of people are joining the Republican Party because of the Ron Paul campaign,” Maj said. “I don’t think that’s a surprise to anyone.”
He also pointed out that there is a web address for the campaign, although it currently redirects the visitor to the campaign’s Facebook page.
As for donations, Murphy said he does not believe that the voters should have to pay their representatives.
“I’m not a politician, I’m a truck driver,” Murphy said. “If I am privileged enough to get into Congress, I’m going to perform my duty. At the end of it, I’ll lay it down, pick up my life back where I left off, and be a truck driver again.”
But Maj said that the campaign would be looking for donations after the June primary, and for now they were doing just fine running a volunteer, grassroots campaign.
“People are printing out flyers and walking their precinct, liking him on Facebook, following him on Twitter,” Maj said. “That makes up for a lot of it.”
No matter who wins the primary, the candidates will face long odds in their quest to defeat DeGette, who resides in the safest congressional district for Democrats in the state.
As of May 1, 46.69 percent of voters in the 1st CD were registered as Democrats, 29.84 were registered unaffiliated, and 22.48 were registered as Republican. Voters from minor parties make up 0.99 percent, according to the secretary of state’s office.
Referring to the fact that Murphy is often trucking back and forth across the country, Stroud dismissed the possibility that he could potentially beat DeGette, saying that running for Congress wasn’t a “part time job.”
“Here’s the deal. If somebody’s going to beat DeGette, they have to be motivated to beat DeGette. They can’t just be motivated to beat me,” Stroud said. “The way things are going in politics, it’s conceivable he could win the primary, but he can’t beat DeGette. I’m the only one that can beat DeGette.”
But Maj believes Murphy is like Paul in that he has crossover appeal. He said that Murphy has an ability to bring Democrats over to the Rep-ublican Party as a path to victory in the 1st CD.
“We’ve got a lot of Democrats to reach out to if this campaign is going to be successful,” Maj said.
Murphy has not yet released an official campaign platform, but is known to be a veteran and passionate anti-war advocate. He also criticized Stroud’s recent adoption of the 9-9-9 tax plan popularized by former Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain, calling it a “near abomination.”
“It’s a continuation of the Federal Reserve’s power structure into our lives,” Murphy said.
Stroud said he adopted the plan because it was easy to understand, it polled well, and that people like the idea of a flat tax.
“Whether it’s the exact plan that gets adopted may or may not happen, but we need to take a stand at some point. We’ve just got to do something,” Stroud said.