Archive for the 'Blogs' Category

Media omission: In August, Gardner campaign said it backed personhood proposals to ban abortion, not as statement of principle

Sunday, October 12th, 2014

UPDATE Oct. 13, 2014: In response to a follow-up question yesterday, Robertson emailed me that the Gardner campaign did not seek a correction or clarification of an August Factcheck.org story, even though the piece makes it appear as if Gardner supported a federal personhood law as a means to ban abortion. Robertson wrote:

“I didn’t specifically ask about the federal bill – again, at the time, he and the campaign weren’t saying that the federal bill wasn’t a personhood measure. I asked about past personhood proposals, in general. I then asked a separate question about whether he was still supporting the federal bill, and the answer was that he was and that, as we say in the article, the federal bill would make ‘no change to contraception laws.’

The campaign did not seek a correction or contact us at all after the article ran.

—————-

Before his recent false claims that federal personhood legislation “simply” is a toothless statement of his belief in “life,” Colorado senatorial candidate Cory Gardner’s campaign told Factcheck.org that the candidate backed personhood proposals in order to ban abortion.

Colorado senatorial candidate Cory Gardner is now saying, incorrectly, that the federal personhood legislation he cosponsored in Congress is “simply a statement that I believe in life.”

But his campaign told FactCheck.org in August that Gardner backed both state and federal “personhood” measures in an effort to ban abortion, not as a statement of principle.

Factcheck.org’s Lori Robertson reported Aug. 15 that “Gardner’s campaign says he backed the proposals as a means to ban abortion, not contraception.”

Robertson reported:

Gardner is on record since 2006 supporting so-called personhood measures at the state and federal level. These bills and ballot initiatives generally said the rights afforded to a person would begin at the moment a human egg is fertilized. The federal bill would impact the definition of a person under the 14th amendment to the U.S. Constitution, while the state measure would obviously affect only Colorado law.

Gardner’s campaign says he backed the proposals as a means to ban abortion, not contraception. But, as we’ll explain, the wording of these measures could be interpreted to mean hormonal forms of birth control, including the pill and intrauterine devices, would be outlawed. Other non-hormonal forms, such as condoms, wouldn’t be affected, but oral contraception (the pill) is the most popular form of birth control among U.S. women.

In response to an email asking whether the “proposals” cited in her reporting included federal as well as state personhood measures, Robertson wrote, “Yes, it was a general question, whether he supported past personhood proposals as a means to ban abortion, and the campaign’s answer was yes.”

Robinson noted that “this was of course before the recent interviews in which Rep. Gardner has said the federal bill isn’t a personhood measure.”

So before Gardner said the federal personhood bill is “simply a statement” with no legislative teeth, his campaign stated that the candidate had backed past personhood measures in an effort to ban abortion.

The Gardner campaign’s response to Factcheck.org appears to be the closest thing to a factual statement about the Life at Conception Act that Gardner and his spokespeople have provided to reporters during his senatorial election campaign. The proposed law would actually ban not only abortion but common forms of birth control.

When the Gardner campaign uses the word “abortion,” it may actually be referring to birth control as well. If Gardner, like Colorado gubernatorial candidate Bob Beauprez, believes that IUDs cause abortions, then Gardner’s aim to use the federal personhood bill as a means to ban “abortion” would include a ban on birth control methods, such as IUDs or Plan B, which Gardner opposed as a Colorado State legislator.

Gardner’s office did not return an email seeking clarification on this matter and others.

There is evidence that Gardner, like Beauprez, believes Plan B and other forms of birth control cause “abortioins.” Gardner voted against the 2009 Birth Control Protection Act, which defined “contraception,” without exceptions, as a device to protect against pregnancy, defined as beginning after implantation of the zygote in the uterine wall.

The Senate sponsor of the Life at Conception Act, Sen. Rand Paul Kentucky, who’s scheduled to visit Denver for a conference later this month, argues that his legislation will result in the overturning of Roe v. Wade.

Laura Woods’ anti-freedom stance on personhood turns off libertarian blogger

Wednesday, October 8th, 2014

If you don’t know about Ari Armstrong’s “Defend Liberty Always” blog, you should take a look at it. In this post, Armstrong, who’s a detail-oriented, deep-thinking libertarian, explains why he can’t vote for state senate candidate Laura Woods.

I confess that I tried not to look too closely at the Republican candidate for my Colorado senate district (number 19), Laura Woods, because I was afraid of what I might find. After gleefully witnessing the fall of Evie Hudack following her reckless, Bloomberg-inspired campaign against peaceable gun owners (after which Democrats replaced her with Rachel Zenzinger, now the Democratic candidate), I really wanted the seat to turn Republican.

After the fiascos of ObamaCare (implications of which played out in the state legislature), the Democrats’ persecution of gun owners, the Democrats’ war on energy producers and consumers, and other matters, this would have been an excellent year for the GOP to punish the Democrats and win back some seats. But, Republicans being Republicans (aka “The Stupid Party”), Republicans in my district nominated a candidate I cannot possible vote for.

Thus, just a couple of weeks after announcing I planned to vote a straight-Republican ticket, I now have to make an exception and declare that I cannot and will not vote for Laura Woods. The basic problem is that Woods enthusiastically endorses total abortion bans, including the insane and horrific “personhood” measure on the ballot this year.

Armstrong writes frequently and thoughtfully about how personhood amendments would violate the basic freedoms a women should have in America. Woods went too far down the personhood path for Armstrong.

And if other self-identifying libertarian pundits in town, like the Independence Institute’s Jon Caldara, are going to be consistent, they should agree with Armstrong.

Pundit who first noticed Beauprez’s support of Obamacare mandate is still unhappy about it

Monday, June 9th, 2014

Colorado political writer Ari Armstrong was apparently the first media figure to notice, back in 2007, Bob Beauprez’s unqualified support for the central tenet of Obamacare, the requirement that everyone have health insurance. That’s called “the individual mandate.”

Armstrong, who writes from a pro-free-market perspective, wasn’t happy with Beauprez’s position on the individual mandate back in 2007, writing at the time:

Armstrong: Some of Beauprez’s proposals (none of which are original to him) are fine, such as reducing the tax distortion that has entrenched employer-paid insurance. But his call for mandatory health insurance overwhelms anything positive he might have to say. “Both Ways Bob” simply does not understand the nature of individual rights, the meaning of free markets, or the proper purpose of government.

Now that Beauprez’s Obamacare position has blown up into a major issue in the GOP gubernatorial primary, I asked Armstrong if he sees any lessons for the Republican Party, flowing from his original piece.

Armstrong: As for the Republicans, the lesson is that they should stop advocating policies that violate individual rights. Republicans hardly ever even mention individual rights, much less work toward a government that protects people’s rights. As a consequence, the typical Republican politician is an ineffective, unprincipled compromiser who surrenders the moral high ground every time he opens his mouth. That is why Beauprez likely will lose, and that is why he deserves to lose.

Here are more of Armstrong’s thoughts on the topic today, in response to my questions, including whether he thought Beauprez was making a policy recommendation in 2007.

Armstrong: Obviously Beauprez intended his remarks as a policy recommendation. The title of his article is, “Health Care Reform—The Battle is Joined: A Case for Patient First Health Care Reform.” In the article, Beauprez explicitly calls on government to force people to buy health insurance. On the issue of mandatory coverage, Beauprez anticipated the position of Hillary Clinton and of post-election Barack Obama. (Of course, prior to his election, Obama opposed the mandate of Clinton’s plan.)

It is worth noting that Beauprez was hardly alone in this. (He’s not an original enough thinker to come up with something like that on his own.) Many conservatives, and even some libertarians (see Reason magazine), supported an insurance mandate. It was only after ObamaCare became so unpopular (a result that quite shocked many Republican leaders) that conservatives and libertarians finally got consistently on board with the idea that forcing people to buy any product is wrong.

I do not know whether Beauprez has changed his mind on this or not. If he has retracted his support for an insurance mandate, I am not aware of it. Of course, I am not one of those people who pretends that any time a politician changes his mind, that’s a bad thing. If a politician is wrong, he should change his mind.

Armstrong was way out in front on this story in 2007, we’ll see where the issue goes now.

Ross Kaminsky discusses his column about Gardner, Tancredo, and immigration politics

Thursday, May 22nd, 2014

American Spectator columnist Ross Kaminsky was the only media figure who reported on a private meeting last month between Republican Senate candidate Cory Gardner and “a small group of Republicans” to discuss immigration policy.

“The roughly 10 people in the room,” Kaminsky wrote in his much-discussed column about the meeting, “included representatives of business, of the media (me), prominent former Colorado politicians and party leaders, and — perhaps most interestingly — two evangelical Christian pastors.”

What I’d have given for an invitation to that meeting, which sources tell me occurred at the Denver law firm of Holland & Hart. (At least I get to sniff around there for a June 10 fundraiser for my kid’s East High debate team. Email me if you want to donate.)

Impressed with Kaminsky’s access and the debate his piece generated, I called to find out more about the meeting and his role as media representative.

“I was there partly in my capacity as a media person and partly because the people who organized the meeting know my views on immigration and wanted me to express them to Congressman Gardner,” Kaminsky told me. “So I was there in a dual role.

“They wanted me to write about it. I wanted to write about it. The only stipulation given to me was not to name the meeting participants, other than Congressman Gardner. And I thought that as long as I could describe their function in life–a minister, a political operative–that it wasn’t really important what their names were. So I was fine with that. I didn’t think it impacted the substance of my article.”

I asked Kaminsky if he had any insight into why the meeting was private.

“One thing that came up in the meeting, which I think is true, is, when you’re talking about immigration, it seems people will give very different answers in small private groups than they will in public, especially on the Republican side,” replied Kaminsky, who’s registered as an independent. “I think there are a lot of Republicans who are becoming more sympathetic to immigration reform but are a little bit afraid to say it in public. It might be the equivalent of a pro-life Democrat. So I think the purpose of the meeting was not to hide stuff, because if it was I wouldn’t have been invited, right? I think the organizers felt like getting a small group together would allow a more honest conversation. And I think it happened that way. I think that analysis was right.”

Kaminsky told me Gardner mostly listened, but he added:  “[Gardner] did offer short comments, generally, after each person spoke. When he responded to a person’s comment, it was not just some broad platitudes and generalities. He responded in short but detailed answers that related directly to what the person said. He was really paying attention.”

Kaminsky, who’s a talk-show host on 850 KOA, favors immigration reform, he says, but not the comprehensive variety, and without a path to citizenship (except possibly for young immigrants). Kaminsky wants a bite-sized approach, as he would with any legislation. In his column, Kaminsky’s argued, among other things, that hard-line self-deport immigration policies, like those of Tom Tancredo in particular, will poison Republican candidates in Colorado.

Kaminsky complimented Gardner for favoring a guest-worker program, and he’s not troubled by the fact that Gardner opposed a guest-worker program back in 2008 in the state legislature that would have created a guest-visa program for agricultural workers.

“People change, things change,” replied Kaminsky. “And you know what, staying cynical, even though I like Cory, politicians frequently do what’s best for politicians. Even the ones who I think are good people, they are always balancing, how do I make sure I keep my job versus what’s best for the country. And I think that of all of them. I don’t think Mark Udall is a bad person. I’ve met him. He was very pleasant to me, and I enjoyed talking to him. I just disagree with him. Whether it’s him or Cory Gardner, their just considering their futures.”

In his column, Kaminsky accused Democratic Senators Mark Udall and Michael Bennet of having “no interest in actually dealing with the question; they, like their party leaders, want a wedge issue more than they want a solution.”

Given that 68 Senators passed comprehensive immigration reform in bipartisan fashion, with 32 Republicans opposed, how is immigration reform, as accomplished via the Senate bill, a wedge issue? (Gardner has made no secret of his opposition to the Senate immigration bill, even though he supported comprehensive reform after the last election.)

“I think there’s a continuum here,” Kaminisky said. “I don’t think it’s exactly fair to say that I think it’s just a wedge issue. I do think, on balance, they would prefer to have the issue than any solution that’s actually politically conceivable at this time. I think there are reform measures that Democrats would accept and give up having the issue, but I think what they would accept would include a path to citizenship that’s shorter and easier than would have any chance of getting through the House of Representatives at this time. I don’t give politicians a lot of credit for voting for something that has no chance of passing… This is true on the Republican side as well. They know it would have absolutely zero chance in the House of Representatives and therefore their consideration is not so much for the policy as it is about their own personal political situation. I don’t think a vote for the Senate bill proved that they would rather have a solution than the issue.”

Kaminsky agreed with me that, along the way, media coverage made it appear as if the Senate bill might pass the House, and it certainly would have had it come to a full vote, but Kaminsky never thought House passage was possible.

Kaminsky told me he wrote his column, which was titled Changing Immigration Politics in Colorado, to try to change the Republican Party.

“To me the most interesting part was those two evangelical pastors from different churches and how surprised they were in the rapidity of the change in the views of the people of their congregations, how fast and how far those views have been changing,” Kaminisky said. “And for these guys to say that they think that evangelicals, both in the leadership of churches and within the congregations, are more likely to support reform than oppose it, I thought was pretty amazing.”

 

Media omission: What’s Beauprez’ explanation for flip on individual mandate? And how will it play in GOP primary?

Monday, May 19th, 2014

Last week, ColordoPols reported that gubernatorial candidate Bob Beauprez agreed, in no uncertain terms, that the federal government has the right to require you, dear citizen of the United States, to have health insurance. It’s called the “individual mandate” and, of course, it’s the foundation of Romneycare and, later, Obamacare.

But once Mitt Romney became irrelevant, Beauprez changed his mind, with no explanation. And reporters, who’ve pretty much ignored the Pols story, have yet to ask him for one, even though there was ample coverage of Mitt Romney’s endorsement of Beauprez.

Someone should ask Beauprez about it, because this is supposed to be the election when Republicans are so hot mad about Obamacare (and guns) that they’re going to submit mail-in ballots it droves.

As to how the Romney flip is playing out within the GOP base, OGREeXposed.com, which frequently critiques the GOP establishment, had this to say last week:

Perhaps the most concerning and disturbing revelation concerns Beauprez’s position on the individual healthcare mandate, the lynchpin to Obamacare and Amycare (Colorado’s version of the Obamacare exchange.)

In a 2007 op-ed discovered by the far-left blog ColoradoPols, Beauprez clearly and unequivocally supported the imposition of an individual healthcare mandate. Beauprez equated the mandated purchase of health insurance with car insurance. This, of course, was closely related to his endorsement of Mitt Romney for President in the 2008 election. Beauprez would later distance himself from supporting the individual mandate—yet another “both ways Bob” moment.

Beauprez is no stranger to controversy over fundamental policy questions. During his 2006 primary run for governor, Beauprez was accused by his primary opponent Marc Holtzman of joining far-left Democrats and big-government Republicans in supporting referendum C. Referendum C permitted the state legislature to spend above the limits imposed by the Tax Payer Bill of Rights, and ended the tax payer refunds which became so popular. Beauprez was accused of supporting and then opposing Referendum C, which is how he was tagged with the nick-name “both ways Bob” in the first place.

It looks like Beauprez’ previous support of the individual health-care mandate resulted from his you-endorse-me-I’ll-endorese-you, relationship with Romney. But you wonder what good Romney does for Beauprez anyway.

OGREeXposed bluntly tweeted last week:

A @MittRomney endorsement for @bobbeauprez just turned away as many Rs as it attracted. Bob is living in 2006. #copolitics

Ken Clark, co-host of KLZ’s Grassroots Radio Colorado, emailed me:

Romney’s endorsement of Bob Beauprez simply means that Beauprez has aligned himself with the establishment arm the the GOP which is really not a surprise.  Beauprez was one of the first in Colorado to not only endorse, but to speak on the behalf of Romney’s failed presidential run.  It further illustrates the divide between candidates whom act upon principle as opposed to what ever seems to be expedient in the moment.  Beauprez endorsed the Romney campaigns  rule changes at the 2012 convention which was nothing more than an attempt to remove the voice of the Grass Roots and the Ron Paul supporters from the political process and control who would be the nominee.  They would like nothing more that to shut the liberty groups down and have us follow them blindly into oblivion, I’m sorry but that simply will not happen.

Rob Douglas, columnist for the Steamboat Pilot, pointed out via email that Romney could become a valuable fundraiser for Beauprez. In similar vein, Eli Bremer, former chairman of El Paso county Republican Party, wrote me that this could help Beauprez, because the “Republican primary electorate around the country in 2014 seems like they are much more serious about evaluating the traits that traditionally make for good general election candidates.”

Douglas added:

On the surface, Mitt Romney’s endorsement of Bob Beauprez might be expected by the casual observer. After all, Beauprez was an early and unwavering supporter of Romney during the 2012 presidential campaign and Beauprez worked hard for the campaign here in Colorado.

But I think Romney’s endorsement goes deeper than political payback. Given the fairly small number of endorsements by Romney so far this cycle, I believe he is exercising discretion in picking candidates to support. That tells me Romney is a true believer when it comes to Beauprez. And, if you look at the personal and professional similarities between the two men, you can see why there’d be a natural affinity. Both have succeeded in business and politics. And while both also experienced the sting of defeat, they continued to find ways to advocate for their beliefs.

Asked if the Romney endorsement would help Beauprez, former state Sen. Norma Anderson said, “It depends. For those that supported Romney in the presidential election it will help. For those who didn’t, it won’t. That’s usually how it works.”

Reporters omit AG candidate’s position on the constitutionality of CO gay-marriage ban

Tuesday, April 29th, 2014

Reporters have covered GOP Attorney General candidate Cynthia Coffman’s attacks on Democratic AG candidate Don Quick for saying he wouldn’t defend Colorado’s gay-marriage ban, if Quick were elected state AG.

But strangely, they haven’t reported if Coffman thinks the ban, which is overwhelmingly opposed in Colorado, is constitutional.

So, to fill in the media gap, I asked Coffman and Rep. Mark Waller, who dropped out of the race yesterday, for their views on the marriage ban.

Jason Salzman @BigMediaBlog
Dear @Rep_Waller & @CynthiaHCoffman, i’m filling a media gap & asking you, do you believe CO gay marriage ban is constitutional? #copolitics

No response yet, but I’ll  update this post when I hear back.

Hat tip to blogger at Independence Institute for acknowledging health-insurance cancellations didn’t leave people bereft of health insurance

Wednesday, April 23rd, 2014

With more and more ads implying that Coloradans lost their insurance under Obamacare, and senatorial candidate Cory Gardner saying directly that “335,000 Coloradans…lost their health insurance” thanks to Obamacare, it’s worth a trip to the archive to see if conservative bloggers agree with fact checkers, like 9News political reporter Brandon Rittiman, who noted that getting an insurance-cancellation notice due to Obamacare was “not the same thing as losing insurance.”

So I extend a good-on-ya to Todd Shepherd, who blogs for the conservative Independence Institute. Shepherd reported back in January:

Shepherd: Without question, 249,000 health care policy cancellations did not mean 249,000 Coloradans were left completely bereft of insurance coverage.

I’d prefer Shepherd use a contextual statement highlighting the renewals and new-and-improved insurance options available under Obamacare, but, still, Shepherd’s formulation is something closer to the truth than the simple words “lost” or “cancelled.”

Shepherd did not respond favorably to phone and email requests for comment.

Media omission: Tancredo sees public education as government mind-control

Tuesday, April 15th, 2014

ColoradoPols has called on gubernatorial candidate Tom Tancredo to address rumors that “GOP power-brokers” are pushing for him to be Superintendent of Jefferson County Schools.

Pols didn’t get into whether Tancredo, who’s currently leading the gubernatorial GOP primary field, would be a logical selection for the Tea-Party-controlled Jeffco School Board. No need to fall off your chair because yes, unfortunately, Tancredo’s views on education are thoroughly right-wing.

He’s not only a consistent supporter of diverting public-school funding to private schools through vouchers, but he also sees the public school system as a way for public officials to control the small minds of America’s children.

Tancredo: “Why we can’t at least give kids in those [poverty] circumstances, a key to that door – called a voucher. Tell me, why it is so important to keep them locked into a government school system. Well, we know why they want to. They want to determine how those kids view the world, as we just got done explaining.

Where’s the evidence that public-school education is about anything but freedom from indoctrination? Teachers wouldn’t tolerate it. They don’t want to indoctrinate their students. They want to teach them to understand how the world works and ask questions about it. American public education is about mind control?

Tancredo expressed these views on the Peter Boyles show April 1, with Chuck Bonniwell subbing for Boyles.

Jeffco teachers, supported by community members, are at an impasse with the Jeffco board, whose current leaders would certainly applaud Tancredo views, as stated here:

TANCREDO: That’s for sure! And what a great debate to have over the implementation of that. I just – I relish the opportunity to debate that issue with the governor, or with the CEA, the teachers union, and all the people that are opposed to such an idea. “What?” you know, they say. “What? Are you some sort of chauvinist–”

BONNIWELL: Racist pig.

TANCREDO: “– suggesting that America is actually a better place to be than anywhere else?” Yes! The answer to that is, “Yes!” And it’s empirically prove-able. This is not subjective. You have—you have – when – as I remember my old boss Bill Bennett used to say, “When you open the gates, all over the world, people only run one way, and that is a pretty good indicator that there is something better they’re going to. People don’t leave hearth, home, kith, or kin to go to something as good or worse. They only leave all of that for something better. We have it. We have to — We have to maintain it. Because if you do not teach children what is good about this country, instead of all of the stuff that they read constantly about, you know, how – about the negative things. And I don’t mean to whitewash this. I don’t mean that children should not be told about the problems we have had. But, you know what? In comparison to what we’ve accomplished, in comparison to what we have provided for so many millions, that — you know, those problems pale in comparison to the great things America has done, and the idea of a republic, and what those founders did, how they put it together. Yeah, I want to debate this, whether or not kids should be taught that, and taught to actually appreciate it. That’s the important part.

BONNIWELL: That would be – that would be a great debate with Hickenlooper, who is the head of the NGA [National Governors’ Association] – he’s head of the NGA this year, and I assume is a Common Core supporter. That would be a great – a great debate.

TANCREDO: It certainly would, and I intend to make it a very important part of our agenda and of our campaign. I mean, there—even – because, for one thing, it is a responsibility of the state. You know, so many things really aren’t, and yet the government gets involved. But, this one is. I mean, the Constitution talks about providing a free, thorough, and uniform system of education. And that doesn’t mean, however, you have to own the system. It doesn’t mean that you have to build the buildings, hire the teachers, and determine the curriculum. You know. And so, yes, you can provide choice. And here is another thing I want to debate. I want to debate whether or not Hickenlooper agrees that if you are a child who is from a family that is below the poverty line, or locked in[to] a school that is failing, that you should you be forced to stay there because you’re too poor to make any other choice. I want to just go ahead and debate that — why we can’t at least give kids in those circumstances, a key to that door – called a voucher. Tell me, why it is so important to keep them locked into a government school system. Well, we know why they want to. They want to determine how those kids view the world, as we just got done explaining.

Reporting by multiple outlets casts doubts on Gardner’s campaign-origin story

Thursday, April 10th, 2014

Political campaigns love to develop a narrative and connect it to everything they say and do. But sometimes they overdo it, and the campaign narrative suddenly looks cramped.

Thanks to reporting by multiple media outlets, GOP senatorial candidate Cory Gardner’s all-consuming Obamacare narrative is already smelling overdone and forced. It’s not just because Obamacare appears to be working.

Take, for example, Gardner’s foundational story about deciding to enter the Senate race.

Gardner: I thought about reconsidering running for the U.S. Senate, but it really picked up last year when we received our healthcare cancellation notice.

If that’s true, and Gardner has said this numerous times, then Gardner’s thoughts about entering the race “really picked up” in August, six months before he told The Denver Post in February that he was launching his Senate campaign against Udall.

So Gardner left his Republican opponents floundering for six months, even though he had publicly announced June 28, three months earlier, that he would not run against Udall in part because he wanted to get out of the way of his opponents who were “making their decisions” about running.

More doubts about Gardner’s foundational Obamacare campaign-origin story surfaced when Politico reported that Gardner decided to enter the race after seeing the results of a poll conducted by Republicans in Washington DC.

That was January, about five months after Gardner got his letter outlining his options for coverage under Obamacare.

January was also the time period when Gardner stepped up his attacks on Udall, as if his campaign against Udall was suddenly in motion. Gardner sent a Jan. 9 letter from his congressional office to the Colorado Division of Insurance asking questions about it’s interactions with Udall’s office. In mid-January, Gardner asked his own congressional committee to investigate. Gardner’s a member of the Commerce committee. And Then the National Republican Senatorial Committee, which, according to Politico, conducted the poll convincing Gardner to run for Senate, sent a Jan. 17 letter to Udall, with more questions.

This timeline, casting serious doubts on Gardner’s story that his Obamacare letter pushed him into the race, was constructed with the record produced by journalists covering Gardner, day-to-day, month-to-month. It’s a small testament to why political reporting is important and how it creates a picture of a candidate for us to contrast with the messaging of his campaign.

Politico scoop: Gardner promised to help pay off Stephens’ campaign debt, if she’d exit

Thursday, March 27th, 2014

At least three people in Colorado have been dying to know how Rep. Cory Gardner managed to persuade Ken Buck and Rep. Amy Stephens to drop their Senate campaigns, allowing Gardner to jump in with a clear field (assuming you don’t count Owen Hill and Randy Baumgardner).

Politico’s Manu Raju deserves credit for scooping Colorado media today by posting some of the details on how Gardner maneuvered to get in, including the tidbit that Gardner promised to help pay off Stephens’ campaign debt.

In January, Gardner first had second thoughts about his previous decision not to run, according to Politico. This is inconsistent with his oft-repeated story about beginning to have second thoughts in August, when Gardner got a letter from his insurance company explaining his options for coverage under Obamacare.

In any case, in January, after he told Republicans in Washington DC of his renewed interest in the race, they ran a poll, the results of which prompted Gardner to jump in, if he could avoid a bitter primary, according to Politico.

Here’s what happened next:

He first approached his biggest roadblock: Buck. The Weld County district attorney had battled with the NRSC in 201o. But the two sides had smoothed things over during the past year, and Buck had a friendly relationship with Gardner.

At a meeting with Buck at a Cracker Barrel just north of Denver, Gardner dropped the bombshell: He was seriously thinking about jumping in the race, and he did not want to battle Buck in a bruising primary. For days after that meeting, Buck mulled his options before encouraging Gardner to take the plunge, nodding to the congressman’s stronger polling and fundraising numbers. Buck even entertained sitting out the midterm election season altogether if it would help Gardner in the primary.

Instead, Buck opted to run in a contested primary for Gardner’s House seat. He called up the congressman and asked for an endorsement for his House seat, something Buck said Gardner was “enthusiastic” in offering. The two denied any quid pro quo.

I read the last two paragraphs a couple times, including the denial of a quid pro quo, and it still looks like a quid pro quo, but you can decide for yourself.

But there’s no ambiguity in Politico’s story of how Stephens dropped out after Gardner offered to pay off her campaign debt.

The political horse-trading wasn’t over. Stephens, who was working aggressively to get volunteers to sign her petition in order to register for the primary ballot, was on her way to a women’s fundraiser in Denver when Gardner called and asked to meet with her right away. The two met that evening at a local restaurant. Gardner said he was considering jumping into the race, and asked her if she’d help clear the field. But she had campaign debt to pay off, which Gardner said he’d help settle. The next day, Stephens called up Gardner and told her she was out of the race.

Politico gets high marks for dropping into Colorado and figuring all this out. Nice work.