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Articles by Donald E. L. Johnson

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Dick Wadhams warns Republicans Scott McInnis can’t beat John Hickenlooper in a personality contest

Dick Wadhams, chairman of the Colorado Republican Party and a veteran campaign manager, told about 100 men and women at the Arapahoe County Republican Men’s Club breakfast this morning that the GOP must campaign on the issues, because Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper, a Democrat, can’t be beat in 2010 in a personality contest.

That is why the Democrats are in a slightly better position in the governor’s race since

Governor Bill Ritter decided not to seek re-election, Wadhams said. “If this election has to be about whether voters like John Hickenlooper, we will lose,” he predicted, adding, “This guy is dangerous. If we allow him to run as the quirky mayor of Denver, he is dangerous.”

Republican gubernatorial candidates Scott McInnis and Dan Maes are running on the issues, Wadhams observed. “The issues are on our side,” he asserted. “We always win on the issues,” he added. “There will never be a more conducive environment than we have in 2010,” he said. But, he warned, this is not 1994 when the GOP took over Congress. “We are 10 months away from the election. A lot can happen.”

“Hickenlooper has not told us where he stands on the issues,” he said. Because “HickenRitter” hasn’t come out in opposition to the tax increases the Democrats are pushing through the General Assembly or said he would reverse any of Ritter’s policies, “I can only assume that Hickenlooper has any intention to reverse any of Ritter’s policies” Wadhams said.

Ritter signed the controversial car tax, unionized the state’s employees with an executive order, signed punitive oil and gas regulations that have driven thousands of jobs out of the state and has raised more than $1 billion taxes without honoring the spirit of the Taxpayer Bill of Rights (TABOR). TABOR requires the state and municipalities to put proposed tax increases before voters in referenda. But the Democrat-controlled and highly politicized Colorado Supreme Court has ruled that when the governor signs bills that reduce or elimination tax exemptions or tax credits, they aren’t tax increases or covered by TABOR.

Wadhams  also pointed out that Hickenlooper has never been in a hard political contest like this year’s gubernatorial race will be. 

This guy has never been tested. He won in 2003 against a weak and boring field. He was virtually unopposed in 2007 when he ran for re-election,” Wadhams said.

Appointed Democrat Senator Michael Bennet can be beat because he has not deviated from President Obama’s agenda at all, Wadhams said. 

“Don’t be intimidated by Bennet’s money,” he said. Bennet has raised more than $3.5 million. If former Senator Ken Salazar had that much money in the bank at this point, the contest would be over because of his political history in the state and because he also had great name recognition, Wadhams said.

Bennet doesn’t have the name recognition, personality nor record of a Ken Salazar.

Indeed, Bennet’s home isn’t even in Colorado. He was raised in Washington, DC, where he stays or has stayed with his mother when was in town. Washington, DC, is Bennet’s home, Wadhams said. That’s where he is part of the socially elite who are helping finance his campaign, Wadhams said.

Wadhams gave his audience a chance to interview him. My notes from the questions and answers session follow:

Q. If GOP wins governor, house and senate and loses supreme court, we lose in reapportioning the state 6 to 5.

A. “I will be voting no on those four justices. My priority is to defeat Hickenlooper and Bennet and to win Congressional seats. We will not be spending any money on the supreme court races. I have got to focus on a few things.” Resources are limited under fundraising laws.

Q. Will you bring Scott Brown or Sarah Palin into Colorado?

 A. Wadhams would love to have Brown come to Colorado. “The worse thing Scott Brown can convey right now is suddenly become some kind of national Republican leader, a rock star. He needs to be back in Massachusetts.” He’s up for re-election in 2012. Word from Massachusetts is that Brown won’t campaign nationally. After Senator John Thune was elected, he decided to focus on S. Dakota instead of going on a national speaking tour. That’s why he’s unopposed this year in his re-election campaign in South Dakota. Wadhams managed Thune’s successful campaign to oust former U.S. Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle. And Thune is being mentioned as a potential presidential candidate in 2012.

 Q. How do we balance the budget? What’s a good, strong Republican position?

 A. One of the untold stories of the last three years is that there have been some very creative Republican proposals that have been killed by the Democrats in Colorado. There was a clear Republican agenda that was rejected. The governor of Montana, a Democrat, imposed a 5% across the board budget cut. It sends a clear message to his administration that he’s sincere about balancing the budget. “We have to do than be more than be against Democrats. The GOP Platform for Prosperity (P4P) is a great document and it will take us way down the field if McInnis is the nominee.”

Q. The Colorado Supreme Court has repoliticized itself. What do you hear around the state about the court?

A. I think there is a rising awareness of the court. Over time there will be more concerned raised by Republicans. Once there are nominees, the Court will become one of the issues and it will be a big part of this debate.

Q. How will people get on the ballot?

A. It takes 30% of the State Assembly vote to get on the primary vote. 

Q. Can Colorado’s redistricting process be changed?

A. He supports a change but Democrats won’t let it happen.

The Citizens United v. the Federal Election Commission campaign finance ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court will give Republicans an opportunity to try to change Colorado’s very restrictive campaign financing laws.

What the Democrats accomplished in 2008 was fueled by Obama money. The Tea Party and 9.12 groups are welcome. They need to participate in the GOP. “Get involved in our party. I hope that they do.”

Q. What is the decision making process of the under-35 group?

A. People who were swept up with Obama are re-thinking. Obama telegraphed everything he was going to do.

Q. Can you support the Young Republican groups? They will listen to people in their age group.

A. We do support YR’s. Went to recent state college YR convention that drew some 200. That was a big increase from a couple of years ago.


Posted by Donald E. L. Johnson on 02/03/2010 at 11:37 AM

ColoradoInterviews, Audience Questions, AnswersPolitics

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