GOP lawmakers try to bolster the score with help of businesses and associations

The Colorado Statesman Sports Department

State Rep. Libby Szabo’s golf ball vanished into thin air, Assistant Majority Leader Mark Waller sunk an astonishing number of holes-in-one, and House Republicans raised a pot of cash to help defend the party’s narrow, one-vote majority at an afternoon fundraiser last Thursday at a Westminster miniature golf course.

State Rep. Kevin Priola, R-Henderson, hooks around the stump, avoiding the vulture at a GOP fundraiser on June 28 in Westminster.
Photo by Ernest Luning/The Colorado Statesman

Held at the elaborate Adventure Golf and Raceway, the fundraiser for the 527 organization the Colorado Leadership Fund drew donations from businesses and associations including Farmer’s Insurance, AT&T, Safeway, the Colorado Mining Association and Colorado Ski Country USA. Tickets, which included a barbecue with House Republicans and legislative candidates, ranged from $2,500 to $25,000 for companies. Individual donors could get in for a cool $1,000.

House Speaker Frank McNulty, R-Highlands Ranch, and Nancy Burke, vice president of governmental affairs for the Colorado Apartment Association, survey the course at a fundraiser for House GOP candidates on June 28 at Adventure Golf and Raceway in Westminster.
Photo by Ernest Luning/The Colorado Statesman

“Play might be affected by the humidity level,” said House Speaker Frank McNulty after selecting his club — there were two choices, shorter and longer — and embarking past the volcano with his team. “I know it’s an outdoor event,” he confided, “but we’re really hoping for rain.”

State Rep. Spencer Swalm, R-Centennial, considers his shot at a fundraiser for House GOP candidates on June 28 in Westminster.
Photo by Ernest Luning/The Colorado Statesman

After teaming donors with lawmakers — higher-ticket contributions got spots on teams with House leadership — candidates were stationed at holes throughout the course so they would have the chance to visit with members of every team, except for teams that wandered off and accidentally played holes on adjacent courses.

Republican legislative candidates Brian Vande Krol and Amy Attwood hear team assignments at a Republican fundraiser on June 28 at Adventure Golf and Raceway in Westminster, in Vande Krol’s district.
Photo by Ernest Luning/The Colorado Statesman

After play wrapped up and while event organizers set about determining the winners, McNulty thanked the donors.

“We are so heartened to know that our Republican House majority has made a difference for Colorado, has made a difference for the folks with whom you work, has made a difference for the people who you represent,” McNulty said. “Your assistance here today will help us grow that majority in November of this year, and then we all get to come back together in January of next year and do it all over again with 33-plus.”

Craig Bannister and Tyler Henson search for the golf ball belonging to Rep. Libby Szabo, R-Arvada at a GOP fundraiser on June 28. It turned out it was lodged under the blue ramp near the windmill.
Photo by Ernest Luning/The Colorado Statesman

Republicans wrested control of the House from Democrats two years ago by a single seat with a margin of fewer than 200 votes — underlining how important every vote might be this year, McNulty said.

He said that donors should be impressed with this year’s slate of candidates.

House Majority Leader Amy Stephens, R-Monument, cheers after swinging the pendulum out of the way for a teammate’s shot on June 28 at Adventure Golf and Raceway.
Photo by Ernest Luning/The Colorado Statesman

“This year, we have a group of candidates who have strong business resumés and who understand what it means to sign the front of a paycheck, and continue to grow their businesses and keep their employees on board, even in these difficult economic times,” a beaming McNulty said, gesturing to the candidates scattered in the picnic area. “We’re so blessed we have people like that running, people with real resumés, and we appreciate the very kind words that you’ve shared with us about the folks that are running as Republican nominees this time around.”

Legislative candidate Jennifer George in Colorado Springs’ HD 18 prepares to direct golfers to the tee at the haunted house hole at Adventure Golf and Raceway.
Photo by Ernest Luning/The Colorado Statesman

After helping tally the tournament rankings, Waller announced that all the teams were winners and then bestowed the last-place award to Rep. Carole Murray, R-Castle Rock, and representatives from AT&T.

“They played their best but, God love ‘em, they came in last, and we have an award for them,” Waller said. Accepting the honor, Murray shot back: “The important thing to remember is we were also honest with our score.”

State Reps. Chris Holbert, R-Parker, and Robert Ramirez, R-Arvada, pause between holes at a GOP fundraiser on June 28 in Westminster, right across Sheridan Boulevard from Ramirez’ district.
Photo by Ernest Luning/The Colorado Statesman

Szabo and Ski Country placed third, behind second-place finishers Rep. Mark Barker, R-Colorado Springs, who was teamed with the Colorado Oil and Gas Association, and no one was surprised when Waller and Farmer’s Insurance took the top prize.

Garin Vorthmann, from Colorado Legislative Services, state Rep. Mark Barker, R-Colorado Springs, and Sarah Landry, Community Outreach and Local Government Liaison at Colorado Oil & Gas Association, near the perilous 18th hole.
Photo by Ernest Luning/The Colorado Statesman

“We got like 12 hole-in-ones,” Waller crowed, handing the award to himself.

After the awards ceremony, Waller shared his insight on the win with The Colorado Statesman.

Legislative candidates Dan Nordberg and Justin Everett head for the barbecue after playing miniature
golf at a GOP fundraiser on June 28.
Photo by Ernest Luning/The Colorado Statesman

“You have to go out there and play every hole like it’s the most important hole of the day. You can’t worry about a mistake you made on the windmill on the hole before, you can’t worry about the time your ball got hit by the swinging pendulum, you’ve got to refocus and get back in on the next hole. And cheating helps a little bit too,” he deadpanned.

State Rep. Kathleen Conti, R-Littleton, and candidates Celeste Gamache and John Kidd mingle at a GOP fundraiser on June 28 in Westminster.
Photo by Ernest Luning/The Colorado Statesman

“It was tough sledding out there today,” he said. “Every hole is a grind, but at the end of the day, when no one’s looking at your scorecard to make sure you’re staying honest, it’s a little easier.”

Ernest@coloradostatesman.com

Janet Stephens and state Rep. Cindy Acree, R-Aurora, prepare for the awards ceremony at a miniature golf tournament for the House Republicans on June 28 at Adventure Golf and Raceway.
Photo by Ernest Luning/The Colorado Statesman
Legislative candidate Rick Enstrom shows off his campaign truck, a jab at the antique pickup covered with campaign logos driven by his opponent state Rep. Max Tyler, D-Lakewood, at a GOP fundraiser on June 28.
Photo by Ernest Luning/The Colorado Statesman
Assistant Majority Leader Mark Waller, R-Colorado Springs, helps caucus director Julie Hermann calculate miniature golf scores at a GOP fundraiser on June 28 in Westminster. Waller’s team won the tournament, scoring a dozen holes-in-one, according to the score sheets.
Photo by Ernest Luning/The Colorado Statesman