A funny thing happened on the way to the Republican primary election this year. Tom Tancredo, Scott Gessler and Mike Kopp were working hard to persuade voters that beating John Hickenlooper was their primary objective. Tom Tancredo, in the month of March, was gathering signatures to have his name placed on the primary ballot. Both Scott and Mike decided to duke it out at the Republican State Assembly.
It was just about this time when a major collision of the tectonic plates began an upheaval that is still being felt in Colorado politics, and will be felt through the 2014 general election.
Some people believe in coincidence, some believe in fate. I believe in neither. I guess that makes me a conspiracist… so be it. Here is what happened basically all in one gigantic thunderclap:
• Cory Gardner, running in the 4th Congressional decides to now run for the United States Senate and oppose U.S. Sen. Mark Udall.
• Ken Buck, a U.S. Senate candidate, now decides to seek election to Congress in the 4th District.
• Bob Beauprez, who three times told Tom Tancredo that if Tom ran for Governor Bob Beauprez would not, decided to throw his hat in an already crowded Republican primary ring and seek the governorship.
How did this “Grand Bargain” happen? How did these events and several others happen to occur at approximately the same time? The following is my own speculation as to the events which led up to the creation of the “Grand Bargain.”
Does anyone actually believe that after running for re-election to the U.S. House in the 4th that all of a sudden Cory is delivered a message from on high, and poof, he is now running for the U.S. Senate? Additionally, does anyone actually believe that Bob Beauprez made a decision to run for the governorship that he disavowed several times all by his lonesome? How about Ken Buck? Did he jump off the U.S. Senate ship or was he pushed? Regardless of how the decision was made, the 4th Congressional was a great consolation prize.
It has become obvious to me that discussions among the financial players, the party insiders, both in Colorado and at the national level, took place and a decision was made to drastically change things at the top of the ticket in Colorado. I have no idea what incentives were suggested, what promises were made, but I believe that a group of Republican insiders (once again) decided they knew what was best for Republicans (top-down decisions) and made the “Grand Bargain” a reality.
Now, thanks to Lynn Bartels of the Denver Post, we are seeing the underbelly of what occurred. The Republican Governors Association, under the leadership of New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, got involved in deciding the outcome of the Colorado primary election, but they didn’t want any fingerprints on the outcome. What to do? Let’s enlist the help of the Attorneys General Association, which is alleged to have written a check to an east coast group for ads and robo calls attacking Tom Tancredo The Post describes the time lines of all of this in their story. It is alleged the RGA then wrote a check to the AG’s group to repay them.
Is this legal? Can the RGA and the RAGA play in primary elections here in Colorado? The technical answer is yes because they are both constituted under IRS section 527, which means they are a political entity. They are not the Republican Party, as I originally thought, and they have the same “First Amendment rights” as any other 527 and are basically unaccountable. I am a strong supporter of the First Amendment and understand that politics is a contact sport. This is one of the by-products of living in a free society in the greatest nation the world has ever known.
The ads were most effective. And when coupled with an ad from another 527 which was partially bought and paid for by former U. S. Senator Bill Armstrong suggesting that Tom wanted to legalize heroin and cocaine, Tancredo became a statistic. The paper trail was easy enough to follow with the above-mentioned robo calls because the tag linked them to an organization that supported Republican Mitt Romney for President.
State GOP Chairman Ryan Call’s role in this is unclear as is the role of John Suthers, the Colorado Attorney General. Suthers sits on the AG’s executive committee, so it would follow that an expenditure of this nature might be something the executive committee might want to know about and vote on, but Suthers denies all knowledge. I accept John Suthers’ denial. Ryan Call is either the ringmaster, complete with his top hat and communications system, or he is the man driving the wheelbarrow as he walks behind the elephants shoveling up their droppings.
Ryan assures me he is only the shovel man.
There is no place for this in the Republican Party. I believe it’s time for new leadership in Colorado and in Washington, D.C.
Cliff Dodge is a former state senator from Denver and past president of the Arapahoe County Republican Men’s Club. He served as the manager of Tom Tancredo’s 2010 campaign for governor when he ran on the American Constitution Party ticket.