Denver Republican Women’s pancake breakfast also features political items on menu

The Colorado Statesman

Who gets up at the crack of dawn on a weekend morning and drives to a park for pancakes, sausages and scrambled eggs and to hear candidates speak roughly 14 months before the actual election?

In this case it was a few dozen Denver Republican Women, whose Breakfast in the Park attracted devoted early risers and candidates alike to the Mamie Dowd Eisenhower Park in southeast Denver at the 7 a.m. hour.

As the pancake guy was setting up his grill and large vats of coffee outside a picnic shelter, the Republican volunteers were already in full swing pinning up colorful flags and preparing for their guests, including candidates for statewide and local offices.

GOP gubernatorial candidate Tom Tancredo, right, listens to Barbara Gessler talk about her son Scott, the secretary of state who is also running for the nomination, during a Saturday morning breakfast with the candidates. Tancredo says he now has a better understanding about her boy.

You know what they served for breakfast, now here’s what else was on the political menu on that day.

Republican U.S. Senate candidate Jaime McMillan favors full rights for women and the GLBT community.

The main dishes were three of the Republican candidates for governor: former Congressman Tom Tancredo and Secretary of State Scott Gessler.

Funeral director and GOP candidate for governor George Malesich says “he’ll be the last to let you down.”

And George Malesich.

Gessler, who has been exploring whether to officially get into the governor’s race, whet everyone’s appetite by letting people know he’ll have a juicy announcement on Sept. 17 at 6 p.m. at the Cable Center.

Ellen and Art Foss of the Reagan Club of Colorado stand with former Sen. Tim Neville of Jefferson County, who announced earlier this month that he is running for the state Senate in District 16, currently represented by Democratic Sen. Jeanne Nicholson. The district also includes a small part of Denver.

An announcement for governor?

Gessler, unfortunately, just smiled and wouldn’t divulge whether it is for governor or possibly for reelection to his secretary of state post. In his remarks that morning, he talked about both: how he’d been in office about two and a half years and taken a “sleepy administrative backwater of an office” and turned it into a dynamic and innovative customer service organization. And he also mentioned how the shackles of government must be released and so people can be set free.

Raaki Garcia-Ulam introduces former Congressman Tom Tancredo to a few dozen early birds who began arriving at the Denver Republican Women’s Breakfast with the Candidates at 7 a.m. on Saturday morning.

Tancredo, in the first of several campaign events scheduled for that day, said that far more important than being governor is making sure the incumbent is no longer in office. The real focus of the race, he said, is “to dislodge him and the liberal legislature behind him.” The former candidate for governor on the American Constitution Party ticket in 2010 urged Republicans to stay united in that cause.

Cynthia Coffman, candidate for Attorney General, greets Regina Thomson at the Denver GOP Breakfast prior to the speech-making.

“There’s not going to be a food fight, we won’t call each other names, we have one opponent and his name is Hickenlooper,” Tancredo emphasized.

Secretary of State Scott Gessler talks about the current state of the state during remarks at the Saturday breakfast. He says he’ll have a major announcement to make on Sept. 17.

Tancredo also told the breakfast crowd that he’d seen Barbara Gessler, Scott’s extraverted mother, at different campaign events as well as on this particular day and had come to realize that she must be the force behind her strong-willed son.

Dave of Chris Cakes has his pancake grill well under control and awaits the order from Sandy Drago and Leroy Devries at the Saturday morning Breakfast in the Park.
Photos by John Schoenwalter/The Colorado Statesman

Looking over at Scott, he good- naturedly jabbed, “I can now understand why you cleaned your plate, you went to bed when you were told.” And then shooting a glance Barbara’s way, he continued, “You raised a very good boy and I seriously understand the whole thing.”

Now about George Malesich. If you didn’t recognize his name, don’t despair. Almost no one knew who he was when his name was called by breakfast emcee Raaki Garcia-Ulam to come up and address the group. He is a recent addition to the growing list of candidates hoping to oust Hickenlooper in November.

Malesich, owner of a funeral home in Arvada, told the crowd that the governor’s indecision on the Nathan Dunlap case pushed him over the edge, and that “his lack of courage and lack of leadership” prompted him to get into the race.

Malesich said he grew up in Leadville, attended Lake County public schools, went to CU and got his degree there along with a ROTC commission in the Air Force.

“Whether in the governor’s office or at my funeral home, I’ll be the last to let you down,” Malesich ended with a little gallows humor.

Deputy Attorney General Cynthia Coffman and state Rep. Mark Waller gave well received remarks, each detailing how their past experiences fit in well with the job as the state’s chief prosecutor.

But when U.S. Senate candidate Jaime McMillan, who had driven from Durango to attend the metro event, talked about his hopes of unseating incumbent U.S. Sen. Mark Udall, his positions on some issues were far from the GOP norm.

He described himself as a “fiscal conservative and socially responsive Republican” who favors not only immigration reform but full rights for the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgendered communities. The owner of an investment advisory who reportedly only moved to the state three years ago explained that his 92-year-old grandfather, a decorated World War II veteran, is openly gay and has been with “the love of his life” for 20 years.
“He has served this country selflessly, but the country has not served him the same way,” McMillan stated.

“Civil unions are only legal protection,” McMillan added. “GLBTs should be allowed to marry.”

McMillan joins three other Republican candidates (so far) in the 2014 race against Democrat Udall: Weld County District Attorney Ken Buck, and state Sens. Owen Hill of Colorado Springs and Randy Baumgardner of Hot Sulphur Springs.

Jody@coloradostatesman.com