Hickenlooper’s bipartisan supporters convene under one big tent

By Jody Hope Strogoff
THE COLORADO STATESMAN

John Hickenlooper has always had his share of GOP supporters, but rarely have they so publicly deified the Denver mayor as they did Wednesday at a bipartisan fundraising luncheon where the Democratic candidate for governor raised a cool $100,000 at a local hot spot.

Mary Smith, former chair of the Denver Republican Party, gladly poses with Mayor John Hickenlooper, the Democrat she’s supporting for governor, at a fundraiser this week.
Photo by Jody Hope Strogoff/The Colorado Statesman
Gallagher Industries Founder and Chairman Charlie Gallagher, a Republican, embraces Mayor John Hickenlooper, who he is supporting for governor.
Photo by Jody Hope Strogoff/The Colorado Statesman
Larry Mizel, right, jokingly gives marching orders to his candidate for governor, John Hickenlooper.
Photo by Jody Hope Strogoff/The Colorado Statesman
John Hickenlooper and Holly Kinney.
Photo by Jody Hope Strogoff/The Colorado Statesman
Businessman/political consultant Mike Stratton and Mayor John Hickenlooper share a moment.
Photo by Jody Hope Strogoff/The Colorado Statesman
Businessman and philanthropist Fred Hamilton listens to Denver attorney Norm Brownstein.
Photo by Jody Hope Strogoff/The Colorado Statesman
Mayor John Hickenlooper chats with supporter Dick Robinson, CEO of Robinson Dairy.
Photo by Jody Hope Strogoff/The Colorado Statesman
John Hickenlooper, center, is flanked by supporters Greg Maffei, CEO of Liberty Media, and John Hereford, right, CEO of Hereford Capital Advisors.
Photo by Jody Hope Strogoff/The Colorado Statesman
Denver attorney Frances Koncilja, Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper and Magnus Lindholm, manager/CEO of Traer Creek LLC in Avon, are all smiles.
Photo by Jody Hope Strogoff/The Colorado Statesman

The “big tent” theme was emphasized by event organizers who amassed an impressive list of Republican and Democratic co-hosts. The analogy took on further meaning when major Republican fundraiser and co-chair Larry Mizel looked up at the covered rooftop terrace at Tamayo’s restaurant in Larimer Square, and notioned that they really were congregated under a kind of big tent.

“It is a great experience to have the business community supporting good government because I know each and every one of us here are going to not only get involved, but stay involved. We’re going to help the new governor,” Mizel said.

Co-chair Gary Maffei, the former chairman of Sen. John McCain’s 2008 presidential campaign in Colorado, mentioned that businessman Charlie Gallagher, also a Republican, was correct in saying that only Hickenlooper could draw such a politically diverse group of stalwarts of the city.

And Fred Hamilton, a third Republican co-chair of the fundraiser, told guests that he’d been a supporter of Hickenlooper early on when he ran for mayor and was now proud to support his gubernatorial bid.

The guest of honor revealed how Hamilton was one of the first people he talked to about his gubernatorial aspirations. “His questions were almost as poignant as those of Larry Mizel,” Hickenlooper joked, whose primary concern was whether he’d have to wait in line at the Cricket (the restaurant in Cherry Creek that Hickenlooper used to own.)

Hickenlooper also lauded his longtime friend Maffei, the third member of the so-called “triumvirate,” who the mayor acknowledged, “doesn’t always say what I want to hear but always says what I need to hear.”

Then he honed in on his main message of the day: Nov. 2, Election Day, marks the beginning, not the end.

“The reason I’m out aggressively raising money is we gotta get the word out, all over the state, that this is about raising Colorado up and creating a culture that is pro-business, yet at the same time our lands and waters have to be protected at the highest level. This has to be a state where we’re pro-development and yet pro-neighborhood at the same time,” Hickenlooper said.

As to how he plans to accomplish this goal, Hickenlooper stressed that “pretty much everything” is on the table for possible budget cuts when he’s elected. There’s absolutely no part of the state budget that’s not going to involve scrutiny, Hickenlooper warned. He acknowledged that, “there is no appetite for raising taxes.”

If you accept those facts, Hickenlooper continued, “there is no choice but to try and really expand our business community, help our businesses to hire more people.”

“On Nov. 2 when this election is over is when we all have to come together, Republicans and Democrats and unaffiliateds and every kind, and put aside partisanship,” the candidate for governor added.

The goal has to be, “What can I do to change the culture of this state, to brand this state as a state that is pro- business. Everybody needs to know what the facts are: protect the environment, hold ourselves to the highest ethical standards and be a model of how government can do things differently so our state can be the center of innovation and new ideas.”

Looking out at all his guests — denizens of the business community, Republicans as well as Democrats — Hickenlooper really got their attention when he suggested that some of them might be invited to work in a Hickenlooper gubernatorial administration.

“You don’t know who you are yet or you would dive for cover, but some of you might come to work for state government. You can never tell. I may try to lure some (of you) people into public service.”

Also sharing in hosting of the funsraiser were attorneys Norm Brownstein, Steve Farber and businessman Ken Tuchman.

Jody@coloradostatesman.com