InnerView

An InnerView with GOP Chairman Dick Wadhams

By Jason Kosena and Jody Hope Strogoff
THE COLORADO STATESMAN

It’s always good to get it straight from the chairman’s mouth.

In a wide-ranging interview with The Colorado Statesman this week, Colorado Republican Chairman Dick Wadhams elaborated on a number of political realities facing his party in 2010 and beyond.

The Q&A with Wadhams included his thoughts on the party’s new national chairman, areas where Republicans need a new strategy, an explanation of why his party is better able to regroup without former President George W. Bush and his wish that former Rep. Marilyn Musgrave had called her Democratic opponent, Betsy Markey, to congratulate her on winning the 4th Congressional District.

Wadhams also reacted to Gov. Bill Ritter’s appointment of Michael Bennet to replace former Sen. Ken Salazar and addressed the rumors that he and former U.S. Senate candidate Bob Schaffer forced Western Slope Republican and former congressman Scott McInnis out of the 2008 Senate race against Democrat Mark Udall.

“That did not happen in 2008. I am still dealing with the question of why we forced Scott McInnis out of the race — and that didn’t happen,” Wadhams said.

The interview also includes Wadhams’ thoughts on the future of the Republican Party, including his strong disagreement with the notion the GOP should trend moderate in order to win voters.

And what does Wadhams believe is the biggest problem recently for the Republicans? That would be losing sight of fiscally conservative values during the Bush presidency.

“The fact is that I think our fundamental principles are pretty darn solid,” Wadhams said. “Limited government, holding taxes and regulations down, strong national defense, strong national security. I don’t think there is anything wrong with our principles.

“And, in fact, I think that is why we got in trouble. We passed all of those appropriations bills, larded with earmarks, and Bush didn’t veto one of them. And so, I have said in many speeches over the past two years that we deserved to lose Congress.

“Democrats didn’t deserve to win, but we sure deserved to lose it.”

And what about the Republicans’ chances of winning statewide offices in 2010 — including races against incumbents such as Gov. Bill Ritter and U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet?

“I think our biggest hope for the future is that group of legislators (at the state Capitol),” he said. “We have got some great young leadership in the state Legislature, and when I look at that crop, I see governors, senators and congressman... even in 2010. The Legislature is a breeding ground, and we are seeing that over there right now.”

The interview was conducted at the newspaper office by political reporter Jason Kosena and editor Jody Strogoff. A transcript of the interview, edited for length and clarity, follows:

Colorado Statesman (CS): How was your trip to Washington for the Republican National Committee meeting and elections?

Dick Wadhams (DW): We had five terribly articulate, smart people running (for RNC chairman) and it was a good debate that happened in the last three months. I did not support Michael Steele on the first five ballots because I was committed to Saul Anuzis. I knew Saul the best. I’ve been impressed by what he’s done in Michigan — a tough state. Saul was a first-generation American born of Lithuanian immigrant parents. He didn’t even speak English until he was 7 years old in Detroit. They came from Lithuania to work in the auto factories. And then he was a card-carrying Teamster as a young man.

He combined the personal background, the communication skills and the management skills. I thought him to be the best of the five. But I must tell you, I would have been happy with any of the five.

I went back there last Wednesday and nobody had the foggiest idea where they were … Anyway, as it turned out, it became Steele versus Dawson, and Steele won.

CS: You mentioned that it was a good conversation about the party.

DW: Anybody who wanted to trash (former RNC chairman) Mike Duncan as somehow responsible for what happened in 2008 or that he ran a lousy operation, I challenged that because I did not believe Mike Duncan was a bad chairman. I didn’t think he was a particularly good communicator, but in terms of his management of the RNC, what they did for Colorado, I have no complaints.

But this was the brutal truth about Mike Duncan: he was appointed by President Bush and I mean — God love President Bush and I do think he will be vindicated by history — but he isn’t exactly the image we want, and he’s off the stage now so we can rebuild things. And so that was my big thing about Mike Duncan and not that he’d done anything, but he was Bush’s guy. And so, yeah, there was a good discussion about where the party needed to go philosophically, technologically. And those were the two things I was looking at, and I felt like all of them would have been fine.

CS: Technologically, isn’t it a little bit strange when the Republicans are trailing the Democrats?

DW: Yeah, because we were ahead for so long. And actually, I wouldn’t even say it was the Democrats. It was Obama that blew right by us. He was light years ahead of the DNC or the Hillary Clinton campaign, and I think we’re only now starting to understand the phenomenon of that technological achievement that they had in 2000…

We were so far ahead of the Democrats in 2000, 2004. And now they have blown by us, largely because of Barack Obama, not because of the Democratic Party. One of the things that came out that I didn’t realize at the time — Mike Duncan gave a very vigorous defense of the RNC’s technological capacity and the fact that the McCain campaign chose not to take advantage of it. Now, that’s all history now, and there’s no use rehashing it. But I do think that we were further along than what it seemed, and Mike made a very compelling case that the McCain campaign just didn’t use it.

CS: Was that because maybe of his (McCain’s) age and that he was known as someone who didn’t use computers?

DW: That could have played into it. I don’t know. I had no complaints about the McCain campaign from our perspective here in Colorado. I mean, there was a little confusion at times over events, but nothing that was extraordinary. But I can tell you that in talking to my fellow RNC members from around the country, the bashing of the McCain campaign … I didn’t join in it. I thought from my little perch here in Colorado, they did fine. But boy, there sure was a lot of bashing of them by other members that I heard a lot about.

CS: Getting back on the technological
bandwagon, is it a financial thing, or is it more a mindset?

DW: It’s kind of both. I will tell you that here in Colorado, specifically, it was largely financial. And one of my priorities in this, if I am elected to a second term in March — so far I’m unopposed, so it looks like I will be — is that we are going to devote a great deal of time to technology and working with the RNC to build that. Because I think they have some things we can take advantage of.

But what happened last year is that, as you reported and as you’re aware, I spent all of 2007 and the first part of 2008 just trying to deal with a $597,000 debt. But it’s all cleared up. It is gone. We actually have a little money in the bank. And so 2009, for me, will be so much different than 2007.

Now fundraising is always big. You know, you think about it every moment you’re awake and a lot of times at night. But if the bottom line is that I don’t have to wake up every morning thinking, “How the hell am I going to pay off this debt?”

That’s gone, and so I can actually devote time, energy and money to other things. And so that’s what I’m looking forward to in 2009.

CS: Do you think fundraising will be easier this time around than it was in 2007?

DW: I think it will be. Two years ago, donors were in shock. I mean, they couldn’t figure it out. They didn’t understand it. They didn’t have a lot of optimism about 2008. And, obviously, it didn’t pan out very well. But I do think that there is an attitude among activists and donors and elected officials that we now have the opportunity to rebuild the party. President Bush is off the stage, the Democrats own everything.

CS: So they’re responsible?

GOP State Chairman Dick Wadhams showed his support for the McCain-Palin ticket at the Republican National Convention this summer.
Photo by Jody Hope Strogoff/The Colorado Statesman

DW: They own the joint. The RNC is basically a cheerleading organization for the president when he had the presidency, that’s what it is. And, well, it’s not anymore. And we don’t have the presidency. So Michael Steele, our new chairman and the structure of the RNC, it is the Republican Party now. It’s not the White House down the street.

There was no pessimism or somber nature to that meeting last week. It was very upbeat. Everybody’s come to grips with (the fact) we got our butts handed to us (laughter). My word, I mean you can’t look at it any other way. But we also know that we need to provide principled opposition to President Obama and his Democratic majorities, and we’ve started. I’ll tell you what. Part of the reason people were upbeat was to watch every Republican vote against that stimulus package. Now watching Senate Republicans drive home a tax cut agenda and the fact that I read in today’s news accounts that Obama’s now starting to get nervous about the public because the public is homing in on the spending side of this thing. And so, we’re starting to win the debate a little bit. And then you throw in this (Tom) Daschle thing and …

CS: Of course you have no feeling about that … (Wadhams managed the campaign of Sen. John Thune, who defeated Daschle in his re-election bid in 2004.)

DW: Well, I haven’t said much about it, but the New York Times called for Daschle to withdraw today. I mean, the New York Times editorial page? And so you add things up, and because of that principled opposition in the House, the activism of Senate Republicans, the fact that Bush is off the stage, there was a lot of optimism and excitement last week. And I think we’re ready to go into 2010. And I feel that way here in Colorado, too.

CS: What about the philosophy of the party?

DW: Right after the election, when all these really smart people were telling reporters that, “We have to examine the soul of our party,” and all this stuff, I was thinking, “Oh my God, cut the dramatics, man.” The fact is that I think our fundamental principles are pretty darn solid: limited government, holding taxes and regulations down, strong national defense, strong national security. I mean, I don’t think that there’s anything wrong with our principles. And, in fact, I think that’s one of the reasons we got in trouble, because we passed all of those appropriations bills, larded with earmarks, and Bush didn’t veto one of them. And so, I have said in many speeches over the past two years that we deserved to lose Congress. The Democrats didn’t deserve to win it, but we sure deserved to lose it.

And then Katrina, I mean, the horribleness (in handling) Katrina.

And then on top of it, the stagnation people were feeling in Iraq. But now, I mean once again, Iraq, those elections this week were incredible. I mean, very, very little violence … the country looks more and more stable. And Bush is off the stage again. I think Bush is going to be vindicated for Iraq. I really do. Maybe even sooner than we think.

I think that what we saw this week from our House members … I wish they’d shown that same thing in December. I wish they’d voted against that turkey in December. That was a bad bill that Bush pushed — that bailout back in December. It was rushed through. We should have put the brakes on that thing. And, now, I think the public is on to that. I think that’s why the public’s nervous about this one.

CS: Even though you say the party’s founded on these principles, is there still a lot of talk about what you are going to do to salvage the Republican Party?

DW: Yeah, there is. And we need to go through that discussion. But I just don’t think we need to become Democratic Lite. I mean if somebody’s arguing that we need to somehow become just a cheaper version of Democrats — no, I don’t think so. That’s not where I want to head.

We’ve talked about what’s going on in Congress — when I look what’s going on a couple of blocks away at the State Capitol and the way that Josh Penry and Mike May and their Republican colleagues are dealing with the budget situation. They’re talking to the Democratic leadership, but they’re staking out some very clear, principled opposition to what the Democrats and Bill Ritter want to do.

When Bill Ritter wanted to bring prisoners from Guantanamo to Colorado — which he backed off yesterday, interestingly enough — it must have been awfully lonely for our governor when every member of Congress and legislators were standing over here. But I think we’re getting our act together both nationally and in the state. I think our legislators did a great job the last two years in opposing that property tax increase, in opposing the handing of the state government over to the unions … in providing alternatives on education, transportation and health care. I just think that they did a great job. They all got voted down, but there were legitimate Republican alternatives to all these issues with Democrats. And so I think we’re on track to continue that.

I think the biggest secret about the Republican Party right now — or not secret, but the biggest hope for the future — is that group of legislators. I mean, I look at Josh Penry, Cory Gardner and Mike Copp and Amy Stephens, Ellen Roberts … And I shouldn’t even be naming names, because we’re just everywhere. And Scott Tipton just got elected. We’ve got some great young leadership in the state Legislature, and, when I look at that crop I see governors, senators and congressmen.

CS: Even in 2010?

DW: I think, potentially, in 2010. Yes I do. I think it could happen that soon. I talked to you last week, Jason, about the Legislature as the breeding ground for statewide office. There’s no doubt about it. We’re seeing it right over there, right now.

CS: There’s a sense that the bench on the GOP is thin. And I know you’re saying it’s not, but how does the party go about trying to convince an electorate that maybe has that sense, that it’s not as thin as you might think, and the people we’re bringing up are solid and ready to go?

DW: By who we nominate for these offices. I mean, 2010 is one of the years where practically everything’s on the ballot … Senate, governor, all the statewide offices. And I think you’ll see that in who we nominate and we have got to project the future by who we nominate. I really do believe that. And I don’t know who’s going to step forward ultimately for either governor or senator. I’m not worried about that, because it’s February, 2009.

CS: But the campaigns start early…

DW: You’re right. I think some people need to make an intellectual decision if they’re going to run by probably May. Once the Legislature ends, I think that people need to decide if they’re going to step forward. But you’ve already got a great competition right now for the 4th CD — a lot of good candidates. You’ve got some people looking at that (Bennet) Senate seat who I think could be very exciting.

CS: Such as?

DW: Well, I think right now you’ve got Ryan Frazier, who I’m a big fan of; Mark Hillman, who, even though he’s been a statewide elected official and he was in the Legislature, I still think is a face of the future. I do not think Mark is part of the past, because he’s very young. The guy went into the Senate when he was ridiculously young, and he’s still young- looking. And he is — what, is he, 41? And I think Mark is still one of the best speakers we have. He’s one of the most articulate, smartest guys we have. I hope Mark is looking at it. He and his wife just had a baby, so that’s kind of factoring in with this stuff. But I hope Mark Hillman’s looking at it.

Dan Caplis. I’m a big fan of him, as well, I think Dan is looking at it. I don’t know what Josh Penry’s going to do, but I just think he is really an outstanding senator and leader. I don’t know if he’ll run for governor or not, but I sure think he would be a great candidate.

CS: What are your thoughts on primaries? Are you guys looking forward to primaries this time around or are you trying to avoid them? What are your thoughts on that?

DW: You know, I have never been an opponent of the primaries, like so many are. I mean, in fact, I think primaries get a bad rap … Primaries can serve to inspire excitement in a party, to build campaign organizations, to sharpen candidates’ skills. I always mention Bill Owens and Wayne Allard. There is no doubt in my mind that Wayne Allard would not have been able to win in ’96 had he not had that primary.

Gale Norton, the same thing. Owens was a better candidate because of the primary with Tom Norton. Now I will admit that primaries can be destructive at times. I think the gubernatorial primary of 2006 … I was not here, but just from afar, it struck me that it got pretty personal, and I think that’s too bad. But overall, I would be hard-pressed for somebody to show me a primary that resulted in certain defeat of a Republican nominee in the election.

I did have a couple of prominent Republican officials or leaders call me up right after this election and say, “We have to convene a grand meeting of party leaders to decide where candidates are.” And I said, “Well, that ain’t going to happen because, first of all, who are these great poo-bahs you’re talking about? I’d just like to know. And then, second of all, those days are over. I mean, if they ever existed, where in a smoke-filled room, they decided who the candidate was going to be. And I’ve got 64 county chairs who think they’re pretty darn important.

I’ve got about 10,000 activists who potentially are going to go to a caucus or go to a convention, who think they’re pretty important. I’ve got a whole bunch of donors out there who think they’re pretty important. And all of the people I just mentioned are important, so who do we shut out of this? And who are these grand poo-bahs that we’re going to invite into a room to decide our candidate? And — by the way — that did not happen in 2008. I’m still dealing with the question of why we forced Scott McInnis out of the race — and that didn’t happen. It didn’t happen.

In fact, my comments at the time were, “If Wayne Allard had listened to the people who said, ‘Oh, Wayne, you can’t win. You can’t beat Gale Norton. Pull out. There’s no chance of you winning a general election.’” I mean, Wayne should have just pulled out and never gotten in the race. He didn’t listen to people who said that.

And candidates have to have the guts and determination to get in and fight like heck for something; that’s what they have to do. Let all these candidates take a look at this, figure out their strengths, their weaknesses, how bad they want it.

I applaud John Suthers. John Suthers jumped into the Senate race — not officially — but he kind of jumped in there. But then he came to the realization that, number one, he loved being attorney general and number two, he didn’t want to take time away from that by devoting what you have to do to be a U.S. senator. I admire and applaud John Suthers for doing that.

I was disappointed. I think he would have been a great candidate. But John had the foresight to figure that all out. And that’s what I tell anybody who comes into my office.

What I need to know is: How bad do you want this? Are you going to be willing to drive in the middle of the night after a Lincoln Day dinner in Craig, back to Denver because you have a 7 a.m. meeting, and you’re going to get home at 3 a.m.? Are you going to be willing to sit at a table and maybe get up for a bathroom break, if your finance director lets you? And make phone call after phone call after phone call after phone call raising money? Are you going to wake up every morning at 4:30 and say, “I cannot wait to get on the road, because I want this Senate seat or this governor’s race that bad?” That’s what this is about.

Show me a candidate with Wayne Allard’s and Bill Owens’ determination and who absolutely doesn’t care what anybody says. They, in their heart, knew they could win that governor’s race and that Senate race. And that’s what matters. So what we need now is for all these people, great potential candidates, to sit down and evaluate all this and determine how badly they want it. It will take a few months, but people will step forward. And if we have more than one person for an office, or we have three people, so be it

I don’t take for granted that Senator Bennet will be unopposed for the Democratic nomination.

CS: Do you think there could be a primary?

DW: I do. Dan Haley (of the Denver Post) wrote it best in a column he wrote a week ago Sunday about the Card Check Bill, eliminating the (union) secret ballot. That vote will define Senator Bennet more than any other vote he’s going to take. He’s already defining himself. Everything the leadership tells him to vote for, he is. But if he votes to eliminate the secret ballot, he is not a moderate, pro-business Democrat. He’s just another union guy kowtowing … If he votes against it, I still think there is lingering resentment and frustration over that appointment. And I think that could propel a (Andrew) Romanoff or a (Joan) Fitz-Gerald into a primary against him, backed by labor. They are never going to have a better chance to get that Card Check legislation. So to me, it’s a win-win. If he votes for it, well, we know he’s just another “whatever the unions tell me to do, I do it, and I want to eliminate secret ballots.” If he votes against it, he’s inviting a primary.

CS: What are your thoughts on his appointment to the Ag Committee?

DW: It’s just something he can talk about in press releases when he sends them to the Eastern Plains and the Western Slope. There’s nothing substantive about it, in my opinion. It shows a certain political intuition that he has, because it’s a nice talking point. Let me put it this way. Andrew Romanoff, I admired him because he did get around the state. He did visit schools across our state.

I saw the clips. The guy was in every small town in Colorado. He was all over the place. I applaud Andrew Romanoff for that. I’m no big fan of his politically. But you know what? He actually knows where Lamar, Colorado, is.

Senator Bennet is a Denver guy who might have visited some of the fashionable ski resorts during his brief time here. But that’s about the extent of it. I’m sure he’s going to get around the state. I have no doubt that he will be traveling the state, trying to connect with people. But you know, I just don’t think it’s real.

CS: Have you met him?

DW: No, never talked to him in my life. I just never have encountered him. And you know, the Democrats — with Ritter and Salazar — they nominated some genuine people with rural ties who really did know where Alamosa was. But I will tell you, I think it (a Bennet candidacy) is a tough sell.

CS: Who’s the most vulnerable statewide Democrat, in your opinion? Bill Ritter or Michael Bennet?

DW: That’s a good question, because I could build a case for both of them. That’s a tough one. You’ve just stumped me. I don’t know which one is more vulnerable, because I just think they both are inherently vulnerable. When you compare Governor Ritter to where Governor Owens was at this point in his term, there is no comparison.

Democrats had written off challenging Bill Owens at this point, and Owens had actually enacted into law what he campaigned on. Whereas Ritter, he didn’t tell the people he was going to raise property taxes without a vote of the people. He didn’t tell people he was going to sign state government over to the unions on a dark afternoon by executive order.

He never told anybody that when he ran for (governor) in 2006. I just think Ritter is so inherently vulnerable. I think he’s a nice guy, but he’s terribly weak and he’s very ineffective.

And, then, Senator Bennet. I admire some of the things he was doing at Denver Public Schools. But I think what drives home the point about Bennet is — if Salazar, for instance, had said, “I’m not going to run for re-election but I’m not going to resign,” and so then we had an influx of candidates for the U.S. Senate on the Democratic side…

If Bennet had announced his candidacy, he would have been laughed out of the race. Everybody would be saying, “You’ve got to be kidding. No way.”

It would have been Perlmutter, Romanoff … a whole slew of potentials. But nobody would have considered Mike Bennet a legitimate statewide candidate. I mean, when Mark Udall ran for Senate, it made all the sense in the world: a 10-year congressman.

CS: Why do you think Ritter made that appointment?

DW: I think he didn’t appoint (Denver Mayor John) Hickenlooper because I think that he genuinely didn’t want to be overshadowed by Hickenlooper.

CS: You really think that was the reason?

DW: I do. What I think this revealed is the real rift between Hickenlooper and Ritter, and I think Ritter’s intimidated by Hickenlooper. And for good reason — Hickenlooper’s much better than he is (laughs). He just is.

What I will never understand — but I also think this reveals an inherent weakness in Governor Ritter, too — is Andrew Romanoff. Who, once again, I have nothing in common with politically … I mean, I don’t want to see Andrew Romanoff in public office. But I have great respect for Romanoff’s political skills and the fact that he does know that this is a big state. And he knows more than just his Denver neighborhood.

Andrew Romanoff helped Bill Ritter get elected governor. He helped run interference for him as Speaker of the House. He’s smart. He’s articulate. He knows the issues. He knows the state. He would have hit the ground running as a U.S. senator. And to bypass a guy like that who has done so much,

Not that he was owed it, but on every level, it would have made perfect sense. And it didn’t create any kind of a succession problem.

I, for the life of me, cannot understand it other than it reveals a flaw in Governor Ritter’s judgment that I think is terribly interesting. I understand why he didn’t appoint Hickenlooper because he just flat-out is intimidated by him. But Romanoff, I don’t know. I just cannot figure it out. And, once again, I have great respect for Romanoff’s political abilities. He’s good. He is really good.

CS: Even Republicans like him and respect him, don’t you think?

DW: I do.

CS: It sounds like you ought to run his campaign.

DW: I know. But I mean, what I admired is that he did go into these small communities around the state. And, while I don’t particularly agree with his agenda, he went out there and he took a look for himself about these schools. That took a lot of time and energy to do that. And he did it. And, yeah, I just admire that.

CS: What about Scott McInnis and Bob Beauprez?

DW: McInnis — he said in the paper the other day he’s thinking about running for governor. That was the first I’d heard about anything from Scott since right after the election. And the same thing about Bob Beauprez. I mean, I just have not heard about any moves that he’s making about U.S. senator or governor.

CS: Would you be surprised if one of them got into it? Let’s start with McInnis.

DW: I’d be kind of surprised if Scott did. I mean, the guy’s still one of our most dynamic campaigners. My word, he could have been a U.S. Senate nominee a couple of times earlier.

CS: What about Beauprez?

DW: Bob, I think, would be a very good statewide candidate for the U.S. Senate. I don’t think he’s considering a rematch (against Bill Ritter.) Rematches in Colorado don’t go very well.

CS: So could you see him as the Senate candidate?

DW: Yeah, I could see Bob as a very good Senate candidate. Bob, he loved Congress. And, of course he is very familiar with the issues because he was there for four years. I went to his book signing the other night. He had a good crowd there. I started reading his book. It’s well done, as I knew it would be. He’s a smart guy.

CS: At this point, are you confident or not confident that you’ll gain the governorship and the Senate?

DW: Not confident. I mean, I’m never confident (laughs). But I’m confident that we have a real opportunity. I’m not going to sit here and predict that we’re going to be sweeping both those seats, but we have a tremendous opportunity. If we nominate strong candidates who run strong campaigns, and if the national playing field is more level than it was in 2008, we can win those seats.

Unfortunately, I’m old enough to remember ’74. I was a college freshman, and that was my first year as a volunteer in the Republican Party. And I will tell you, I never thought that I would experience another one. But we just did (laughs). We just did here. But I also keep in mind what happened after ’74, when here in Colorado, four years later, in ’78, Bill Armstrong unseated a Democratic incumbent. And that started our way back. Actually, we took the Legislature back in ’76 here in Colorado. I just think we have tremendous opportunity in 2010 and beyond, because it’s a brand-new day.

CS: Is 2010 going to be the year that Republicans take back either the Colorado House or the Senate?

DW: Once again, we have the shot. One of the other unfortunate things about 2008, we had one of our best recruiting years in terms of candidates … We had some great candidates that just got swept away in the tide. Some of those candidates I want to come back. We’ve got to talk them into running again. But our candidate recruitment was actually pretty solid last year, and so we’ve got to do a lot of that again. And if we recruit the right candidates once again in these swing districts, we can win. You know, you can’t just have an R by your name. You’ve really got to be somebody who has a record of community service and activism, who can articulate yourself. And that’s what the Kathy Greens and the Holly Hansens all had in common. They lived in their communities. Their resumes in the schools and the Chamber of Commerce and every club was a mile long. That’s what we need. What we’ve got to have.

CS: Redistricting is coming…

DW: Yes, yes.

CS: How do you factor that in when you’re looking at these upcoming races? It really does add some extra emphasis in 2010.

DW: It does, it does. That’s another reason why the governor’s race is so important in the Legislature. Because we will really be shut out on the Reapportionment Commission if we don’t win those. And, of course, the court is already against us. I mean, we have the most partisan chief of Supreme Court.

CS: Mary Mullarkey?

DW: Oh, my Lord, she’s so partisan. I mean, with all due respect to our chief justice. And that’s another reason we’ve got to do well in 2010. And, yeah, there’ll be a lot of number crunching going on because that Reapportionment Commission gets appointed in 2011.

And, then of course, we’ve got a re-districting, which is still done by the Legislature, and so it doesn’t look like we’re going to gain a seat. So I don’t know…

CS: Were you surprised by what happened in the 4th CD with Marilyn Musgrave losing to Betsy Markey?

DW: Not by what ultimately happened. I mean, I think we can win it back. I think Markey has already cast some votes that are a problem for it. Hank Brown used to have a great line about the 4th. He used to say, “The Republicans in Larimer County…” specifically Fort Collins, he used to say, “… are more liberal than the Democrats in southeastern Colorado.” (laughs) It’s true, it’s true.

CS: Were you disappointed in the way Marilyn Musgrave ended her campaign?

DW: I wish she would have called Congresswoman Markey. Yeah, I think she should have.

CS: Have you talked to her since?

DW: I haven’t talked to Marilyn. I’m a big fan of Marilyn Musgrave. I regret how she became so characterized as an evil, nasty person. She is one of the nicest, most respectable … I think she’s just a good person, and I regret that she allowed to get herself defined as the one-issue candidate. I mean, it’s too bad.

It’s history now, but I wish she hadn’t done that. I wish she had called Markey up.

CS: How different will that race be when you’ve got an incumbent Democrat? But, most importantly, do you think that the Tim Gills and the Pat Strykers are going to want to put as much money into defending Betsy as they put into defeating Marilyn?

DW: I don’t know — that’s a very good question. I mean, she’s going to have some level of funding, and that’s what makes her a formidable incumbent. But, obviously, that seat would not have been competitive had Marilyn not been defined the way she had been. We need a brand-new Republican face and we’ve got several great candidates for that seat right now that, I think, will provide the contrast. And people will be jarred to their senses about what this is about. And Markey’s not going to show any independence. Anyway, I just think it’s definitely harder to topple an incumbent.

CS: Has being state chairman been a fun thing for you?

DW: I’ve had a blast.

CS: Even though the results weren’t…

DW: Even though it was a horrible year (laughs) in terms of results, I probably have never had more fun than what I had the last two years. I really enjoyed it. That’s why I’m running. I’m just stupid enough to think this is fun. So, yeah, I’m really looking forward to it.