If you want to convince the hosts of KLZ’s Grassroots Radio Colorado that you’re a true conservative, you have to do more than just say you’re categorically opposed to raising the U.S. debt limit, as U.S. Senate candidate Randy Baumgardner did just before Christmas, saying on the radio that he’d “definitely not be in favor of extending” the debt ceiling.
Clark told Baumgardner that, for his radio show, conservative credentials are established by a website called Principles of Liberty, based on votes cast in the State Legislature. We rely on them, Clark told Baumgardner.
Clark reminded Baumgardner, a Republican, that Principles of Liberty gave Baumgardner a disappointing D+, fourth worst among Colorado Senate Republicans last year.
“And, you know, you’re five away from being a Democrat!” Clark told Baumgardner, who’s widely considered an arch conservative. “Why would the Liberty people want to support you in your campaign?”
Baumgardner’s answer illuminates the rough road confronting conservative candidates as they face the stomping of feet and gnashing of teeth on radio stations like KLZ, 560-AM. Here’s Baumgardner’s response to Clark:
BAUMGARDNER: Well, I tell you, um, I am a conservative. And maybe [the Principles of Liberty score card], you know, doesn’t always reflect [that]. One of the things that you find there, and I guess it comes down to what your word’s worth, what you’re made out of, because there were things that I didn’t felt like I voted any different in the Senate than I did in the House. Okay? And my rankings were very good in the House. In fact, I had a 92 or a 93 percent in the House. In fact, [I] was top—I believe, top of Principles of Liberty when I served in the House of Representatives.
CLARK: You know, I’m going back – to be fair, I’m going back to 2012.
CLARK: Okay? And you were ranked number one by Principles of Liberty.
CLARK: You got an A+ ranking with a 94 percent in 2012.
BAUMGARDNER: Yeah. And I’ve had conversations with Principles of Liberty that –. First of all, maybe it was the consent calendar because –.
CLARK: Well, but everybody voted on the consent calendar.
BAUMGARDNER: They did. They did, but the Principles of Liberty said that everybody’s numbers were 10-15% lower than they normally were. I don’t know why. I don’t know what it was, but the only thing that I can say is that when you give your word—and there was a couple of bills that changed, and I went to the Senator and I said, “Look, this is not what I bought into. Can I get out of this?” And they said, “No, you said you’d be on with me.” So if your word means anything, you stick to that. And that’s where I am. If that’s what they want to judge me on, that’s fine. But I own what I vote, and I’ll talk about anything that they want to talk to me about. So, that–.
CLARK: That is an amazing difference from one year to the next…. My point is, Senator Lundberg is number one, Senator Baumgardner is number twelve, with everything being equal.
CLARK: All right? Now, if you go back to 2012, yeah, I mean, you were top of the heap. That is an anomaly. I need to figure that out.
BAUMGARDNER: Yeah. Well, and I do too. And that was the conversation that I had with Principles of Liberty – ‘cause I said I didn’t feel like I voted any different than I did when I was in the House. So, I don’t know….
WORLEY: We’ll figure it out.
BAUMGARDNER: And when [Principles of Liberty organizer] Rich Bratten comes to me and said, “Randy, what’s going on?” And I said, “Rich, I don’t know!” So, we had those conversations, and yeah, I don’t kn0w. I mean, I wish I had an answer, but the only thing that I can come up with is that there was a couple of votes that I had given my word on to other senators. And if they won’t let you out of that, you have integrity and your word. That’s all you’ve got down there. And if you lose that, and if they say, “Well, you didn’t do as well”, well, you know what, maybe I can strive to do a little better to not give my word to those people as easily. But I try to look at things, but as they change, again, if they say, “No, you can’t be out — I’m not going to let you out of my commitment to me,” then if, as a person, as someone that stands up and says I gave my word, I’m going to stick to it. Thanks guys!