Archive for the 'Colorado U.S. Senate' Category

Media omission: Sonnenberg will decide “by the first of next week” on a U.S. Senate run

Thursday, October 8th, 2015

State Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg will decide “by the first of next week,” whether he’ll join the Republicans seeking the party’s nomination to take on Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet next year.

In an interview yesterday, Sonnenberg said he’s been “looking at” running for “several months” but was waiting on “George Brauchler’s decision” before deciding whether to enter the race himself.

“I’ve spent the past week meeting with a number of people in Denver,” he said, adding that he anticipates “having a decision by the first of next week.”

“Michael Bennet’s numbers look worse than Mark Udall’s did a year out,” he said. “I see that as an opportunity to have two Republican senators from Colorado.”

In addition to Sonnenberg, talk-radio host Dan Caplis is “very serious” about a run. And Larimer County Sheriff Justin Smith is thinking about entering the race. Already in are state Sen. Tim Neville, businessman Robert Blaha, El Paso County Commissioner Darryl Glenn and former Parker mayor Greg Lopez. Staten Sen. Ray Scott is rumored to be a likely candidate.

Media omission: GOP Senate primary heats up on Facebook

Wednesday, October 7th, 2015

After State Sen. Ray Scott’s name was floated on Facebook as a possible candidate to take on Sen. Michael Bennet, Rep. Justin Everett of Littleton stood up for his guy, Sen. Tim Neville.

“I don’t see anyone beating Tim in the primary, and I don’t see Ray as a threat,” wrote Everett. “Especially because Sonnenberg will probably get in as well, and they’d probably be competing with each other for the rural vote.”

To which, Ray Scott replied, “Tunnel vision only applies when you’re in a tunnel.”

Everett then wrote: “Reality based on 20 years political experience from being paid staff on state-wide campaigns, tight with consultant class, to doing high dollar fundraising for the RNC [Republican National Committee]. I got creds.”

“I’m friends with Ray and Jerry, but the fact is, this is a battle. If you are going to take on Michael Bennet, you have to have a proven candidate,” Everett told me when asked about the Facebook post.

But how does he know Sonnenberg is even likely to run?

“I call it the rule of three. I’ve heard from three people  that Jerry flat-out said he would run,” said Everett, adding that the three people are from different groups.

In a telephone interview, Sonnenberg told me that, in fact, he had not yet decided to enter the Senate race.

He confirmed that he’s been “looking at” running for “several months” but was waiting on “George Brauchler’s decision” before deciding whether to enter the race himself.

“I’ve spent the past week meeting with a number of people in Denver,” he said, adding that he anticipates “having a decision by the first of next week.”

“Michael Bennet’s numbers look worse than Mark Udall’s did a year out,” he said. “I see that as an opportunity to have two Republican Senators from Colorado.”

As for Scott, Everett says he’s heard from other sources that Scott is serious about the race, and Everett points to the fact that Scott himself “chimed in” during the Facebook exchange as further confirmation of this.

Scott did not return a call for comment. I’ll update this blog post if he does.

In response to a commenter who called Ray a “good candidate,” Everett wrote on Facebook: “Performance matters. Ray hasn’t raised money from anyone or PACS. Tim has… My horse [Neville] knows how to win a race and is battle tested. Ray has never had a competitive race. Tim Neville, no better horse out there.”

Everett told me Neville can win based on the “Ken Buck Model of 2010 when he beat Jane Norton.” Buck went on to nearly defeat Bennet in the general, despite mistakes by national Republicans, he told me.

“There’s a path for victory for Tim, not only in the primary, but in the general,” said Everett, adding that Buck was way outspent by Norton and still won.

“Tim is smart enough to get good people behind him and raise money,” continued Everett. “He knows how to do direct mail, micro-targeting, voter ID. They know how to run campaigns, and they’ve been successful in primaries. He’ll work his butt off. He’s authentic. He’s in an excellent position to win the primary. Is this a battle Republicans want to fight? Or should they coalesce around Tim?”

In addition to Neville, businessman Robert Blaha, El Paso County Commissioner Darryl Glenn and former Parker mayor Greg Lopez have already announced their intention to seek the GOP spot against Bennet. Attorney Dan Caplis is “very serious” about a run, and Larimer County Sheriff Justin Smith is thinking about entering the race.

 UPDATE: The first version of this blog did not include a response from Sonnenberg. It is not included.

KNUS talk-radio host Dan Caplis “very serious” about U.S. Senate run

Monday, October 5th, 2015

On Channel 12′s “Colorado Inside Out” Friday, Westword Editor Patty Calhoun seemed to surprise moderator Dominic Dezzutti when she said Denver radio host Dan Caplis is considering a U.S. Senate run against Democrat Michael Bennet.

“Tim Neville, who announced [his U.S. Senate candidacy] yesterday, a conservative, leaves a lot of room for someone else to jump in,” said Calhoun in response to Dezzutti’s question about the Colorado Senate race. “The most interesting one I’ve heard lately is, Dan Caplis is looking again at a race.”

“I appreciate Patty saying that because it’s true,” Caplis told me this afternoon when I called to confirm. “I absolutely have a serious interest.”

Caplis, a Denver attorney and longtime radio personality, told me he was fully behind the potential candidacy of George Brauchler, and thinks Brauchler would make a great senator. But when Brauchler decided against running last week, Caplis decided to consider entering the race himself, he said.

“I just need to make sure it’s the right thing for our family first,” said Caplis, whose talk show airs on KNUS 710-AM. “And then, beyond that, I’ll just take a good hard look at whether this is the way to make the best contribution that I can. I mean, that’s what most people try to do. That’s what I’m trying to do. Is this the best way to do that?”

Caplis will announce his decision in six to eight weeks after meetings and further thought, he said, promising not to “drag out” the decision.

Caplis’ name was floated in 2009 as a possible opponent for Sen. Michael Bennet. And back in 2007, Caplis spent a couple months traveling the state and talking with folks about whether to run against Democratic Sen. Ken Salazar.

“It would hard to be a lot more serious than we were about it before,” said Caplis when asked if he was more serious this time around. “Honestly, we were very close to getting in before. It’s pretty much the same this time. I’m very serious about it, but I have to make sure, first and foremost, that it’s right for the family.”

“Beyond that, I think it’s pretty clear that a person can make a pretty big contribution as a U.S. Senator, if they are willing to do what it takes to make that contribution. And I think there’s a lot at stake in this election.”

Asked if he’s more like Ken Buck or Cory Gardner, Caplis said, “Don’t box me in. Don’t put any labels on me. That’s one of the reasons I’d love to run this race, is to do it the right way. Stand up and tell people what you really believe and what you are really going to do and not get boxed in by labels or any of that. And if people want me, they want me. And if they don’t, they don’t. But if I run this race, it’s going to be a race unlike people have seen before.”


Post interview spotlights Brauchler falsehood that he was “one vote away” from getting death sentence in Aurora trial

Friday, October 2nd, 2015

Excellent reporting today by The Denver Post’s Jordan Steffen, who breaks the news that three jurors in the Aurora theater trial voted affirmatively for life in prison, according to one of the three jurors, who was previously thought to have been undecided.

Steffen’s interview is beautifully written, giving you a great sense of the juror’s struggles and a journalist’s experience talking to her, but what caught my eye, as someone who listened to prosecutor George Brauchler repeatedly say he was “one vote away” from getting the death penalty, were these three paragraphs:

“There were three,” [the juror] said. “Not one.”

…Arapahoe County District Attorney George Brauchler has said he wouldn’t second-guess his decision to pursue the death penalty because of one juror’s position that led to the life sentence.

Last week, he said all of the deliberating jurors he’s spoken with have indicated that Juror 17′s account was accurate. He conceded that he hadn’t met with all of them.

More of an explanation from Brauchler would have been nice, because you have to wonder why a man of his intelligence and intensity would deliver rotten information about the jury count, without at least saying he wasn’t sure or acknowledging, as  juror 17 had clearly said after the trial, that juror 17 was against the death sentence and two jurors were undecided. That’s obviously three, not one, votes away from conviction.

Maybe Brauchler, who subsequently announced he wouldn’t challenge Sen. Michael Bennet, was just trying to make himself look good? But as a veteran prosecutor, he had to know that his misinformation could be hurting real people.

Steffen reported that the juror he interviewed ended “her silence because she could no longer bear to watch the weight of public scrutiny — what she described as a ‘witch hunt’ — fall solely on the shoulders of her fellow juror.”

Brauchler was partly responsible for the witch hunt, as today’s Post piece makes clear.



With collapse of Rand Paul, Dudley Brown may be cash cow for Tim Neville

Thursday, October 1st, 2015

Journalists have raised doubts about whether State Sen. Tim Neville, who’s expected to announce his campaign against Sen. Michael Bennet today, can raise the $10 million or more required to unseat the well-financed Democratic uncumbant. It’s a reasonable question, for sure, but recent political shifts could be opening bank accounts for Neville that were locked just months ago.

Colorado’s own Dudley Brown has had close ties to the collapsing presidential campaign of Sen. Rand Paul (See joint photo.). Paul has signed fundraising appeals for Brown, which so pissed off the National Rifle Association (NRA) that the NRA didn’t even invite Paul to an NRA Leadership Forum, which was attended by 12 GOP presidential hopeufls in April.

Brown may now be looking for a new gun-loving federal candidate prop up with millions of dollars. And that lucky candidate could be Neville, whose close ties to Dudley are not in dispute as you can read below if you need to.

But does Dudley have that kind of money? Well, he’s president of the National Association of Gun Rights (NAGR), which raised over $16 million in 501c4 political-attack funds, according to its lastest-available federal filing. It’s impossible to know how much of that dark money could be diverted to Colorado’s Senate race, but the money is big. And for what it’s worth, back in 2013, Dudley said his organization would spend at least $1 million on campaigns.

Dudley is also executive director of Rocky Mountain Gun Owners (RMGO), which played a key role in organizing recall campaigns and in mobilizing voters in senate primaries in Jefferson County. It’s credited for pushing State Sen. Laura Woods to actual victory last year. So there’s that.

Everyone knows Brown loves Neville, and vice versa, and it goes beyond their mutual dream of eliminating all background checks on anyone who purchases any gun anywhere, in this life or the next.

Tim Neville’s son, Joe, was hired as the lobbyist for RMGO, and less known is the fact that Joe Neville is also director of political affairs for NAGR.

And Neville may owe his first legislative victory to Brown, who went all in to help Neville win a 2011 vacancy committee appointment, to replace Sen. Mike Kopp. In a mean campaign, Neville beat his neighbor, then GOP State Rep. Jim Kerr.

Later, during his during his 2014 campaign against Democratic encumbant Sen. Jeanne Nicholson, Neville was endorsed by RMGO PAC and boasted about his ties to RMGO .

Neville stated on his website: “As a proud member of Rocky Mountain Gun Owners, I was honored to defend your Second Amendment rights in the Colorado State Senate last year… I was proud to sponsor ‘Constitutional Carry’ legislation and be recognized by Rocky Mountain Gun Owners as the strongest defender in the legislature of your Second Amendment rights.”

That kind of talk may translate into the cash Neville needs to have a shot at Bennet. At least in theory. But money is just one obstacle for a conservative like Neville in Colorado.

Reporters should talk to Brauchler on talk radio

Monday, September 21st, 2015

Asked by Associated Press reporter Nicholas Riccardi in September to answer questions about Colorado political issues, Brauchler said: “I’d be happy to answer those things if I got into the Senate” contest.

But over the weekend, Brauchler jumped on conservative talk radio and openly talked about Colorado politics, attacking Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet repeatedly on multiple issues.

Appearing on KNUS 710-AM’s Jimmy Sengenberger show Sept. 19, Brauchler said it was “infuriating” that Bennet supported the “ridiculous” Iran nuclear deal. On the radio, Brauchler equated peopole who urged him to accept a plea deal with Holmes to those who favored  the Iran deal.

Brauchler criticized Obamacare as hurting small business, and he also said the Dodd-Frank law was an “horrific compromise that took place during the economic downturn.”

Calling himself a “simple kid from Lakewood” and sounding like a candidate, Brauchler said the federal government has gotten too big too fast during the years that Bennet has been in office.

The lesson for reporters: when Brauchler says he’ll talk politics later, ask him again, but do it on conservative talk radio.

How long should a sitting duck present itself to journalists?

Saturday, September 19th, 2015

It’s after Labor Day, and the thin lineup of Republicans even thinking about challenging Sen. Michael Bennet would make you believe they’re scared of Michael Bennet and his war chest.

But Cory Gardner, on KNUS radio Wed., sees it this way: Republicans are actually scared of “taking fire.”

Gardner: I think getting into a race in July, you know, the year before was probably too early, or August. So, I think sometime between now and that March date — actually probably sometime between now and January is that sweet spot.

Look, any candidate knows when they announce, that there opening up to start taking incoming fire. And by waiting, getting the team in place, by getting the structure in place, they can really hit the ground running and avoid unnecessarily time being left as a sitting duck, so to speak, and taking fire.

A sitting duck? hmm.

Sounds like Gardner is talking about himself going into last year’s election. If ever there was a duck, glued down, stuck, and waiting, it was Gardner, with his far-right record across the board from global warming and immigration to abortion and even journalism. And beyond.

Gardner got in the race against Udall in March, your recall, of last year, very late by conventional standards. And there he was, a sitting duck, but also an oily one, whose feathers got ruffled at times but remained greasy enough to withstand the “fire.” And he spat back pretty well.

It makes you wonder, if Gardner had gotten in the race earlier, would he have won? If he were a sitting duck longer, would it have mattered?

One one hand, Udall’s trajectory was downward. But you also had the sense that Gardner’s reconstruction of himself from right-wing to moderate teetered toward the end, as reporters and others were frustrated but starting to cut through the grease and spit.

On balance, I think Gardner would have lost if he’d gotten in the race much earlier. And it appears he agrees.

On radio, Republican U.S. Senate candidate Blaha expects attacks from “permanent political class”

Tuesday, September 15th, 2015

Appearing on a Colorado Springs radio station over the weekend, Robert Blaha, a Republican, said he expects the “permanent political class” to fire attacks and lies at him during his campaign for U.S. Senate, as it did when he ran for office previously.

Blaha (at 6 min 10 sec below): When I ran [for Congress] in 2012, Tron, it was a painful process because the lie machine gets ginned up, and then those things are exposed. And those things are cleaned up. That’s really the problem with the process itself. If it was just two candidates, man-and woman, man-and-man, whoever, one-on-one, one-on-three, duking it out, talking about the issues, it would be great. But we’ve allowed this political process to get to the place where the permanent political class has controlled the mantra, has controlled the messaging, and they have attack machines everywhere. But, hey, I’ve been through it. It’s not fun. But, you know, if you come out the other side kind of unscathed, it’s a good thing.

Tron Simpson, a guest host on KVOR radio’s Jeff Crank Show, didn’t ask Blaha, who will officially announce his candidacy when Sen. Michael Bennet votes for the Iran nuclear deal, what attacks he was referring to.

Asked to clarify, Blaha’s campaign pointed me to attacks leveled during Blaha’s primary loss to Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-CO Springs) in 2012.

One ad by Lamborn attacked Blaha’s bank, claiming, among other things, that it ranked “among the worst in the region.” In an analysis of the ad, The Denver Post reported that it “leans deceptive.

Other attacks during the vicious primary contest were hurled by Lamborn himself. “Everything [Blaha] says has to be taken with a grain of salt. Voters are often disappointed in people who talk big and don’t perform once in office,” Lamborn told The Denver Post at the time.

Blaha, who’s deflected his share of attacks as a conservative talk-radio hostsaid in response during the 2012 campaign, “Doug Lamborn will say anything to protect his government job, including slandering a local business.”

Former Republican talk-radio host poised to jump into U.S. Senate race

Thursday, September 3rd, 2015

On Facebook this morning, former talk-radio host and former Colorado Springs congressional candidate Robert Blaha writes that he will challenge Sen. Michael Bennet, if Bennet endorses President Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran.

“If Colorado Senator Michael Bennet votes to support this deal, he must be defeated in 2016 and I will announce my candidacy for U.S. Senate. If he votes against the deal, I will stand down – Period,” Blaha wrote on Facebook, without mentioning state Sen. Tim Neville and DA George Brauchler, who are also testing the Senate waters.

Blaha’s radio show on KZNT was called Black, White, and Right, and his co-host was Derrick Wilburn, who’s now vice chair of the Colorado Republican Party. The pair didn’t disappoint those who wanted to hear from the “right.” This Muslim bashing in this segment, for example, caught my ear back in 2012.

Wilburn would often stake out ground even further to the right than Blaha. Wilburn for example, once gave “almost human” honors to mainstream Repubicans, while Baha didn’t quite go that far.

No word yet on whether Tancredo, also a former talk-radio host, will join Blaha in running for U.S. Senate. Maybe Blaha will encourage him. I loved it when Tancredo told Bob Beauprez to jump in the gubernatorial race last year: “Listen buddy, get in! The water’s fine. It will be fun.” Little did Tanc know how hot Beauprez would make water for Tancredo, due to attack ads from national Republican groups. These ads were credited with knocking Tanc out of the race, opening the door to Beauprez to lose to Gov. John Hickenlooper in November.

Blaha isn’t the only local talk-radio host who’s jumped to partisan politics. Jimmy Lakey, who hosts a morning shoe on KCOL 600-AM in Ft. Collins, ran for Congress in Colorado Springs. Tancredo hosted a show on KVOR in Colorado Springs. KVOR’s Jeff Crank was almost elected to Congress. KLZ’s Ken Clark is the Second Vice Chair of the Denver Republican Party.



Media omission: Brauchler sees himself more like Ken Buck than Cory Gardner

Tuesday, September 1st, 2015

Who’s most like you, Sen. Cory Gardner or Rep. Ken Buck?

Many see Buck and Gardner as Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum, one wearing a smile the other seething with anger. But if you’re a Tea-Party activist in Colorado, the answer is “Ken Buck.”

So it’s not surprising that Tea-Party radio host Chuck Bonniwell would put this question to failed theater-shooter prosecutor George Brauchler, who’s considering a U.S. Senate run: Are you more like Ken Buck or Cory Gardner?

Brauchler’s answer, according to Bonniwell, was, “Oh God, Ken Buck!” Here’s Bonniwell’s story, told with co-host Julie Hayden, who’s also a Fox 31 Denver reporter:

Julie Hayden (@4:40 below): We were at a function and Chuck, in Chuck’s way [laughs]. Standing-around-drinking-wine-just-put-it-to-you way, said to George, “Okay. Who do you like better – Ken Buck or Cory Gardner?”

Bonniwell: No, that’s not what I said!  I said, “If we put a gun to your head, and said, ‘Who are you closer to on the continuum of  Ken Buck to Gardner. Shich one?  You have to choose one.  You can’t sit. And to his credit, I mean I expected a kind of weasely answer, he said, “Oh, God! Ken Buck!”

Hayden: And Chuck went, “Yea!”…He didn’t hesitate at all, nor did he mince any words. He didn’t put conditions on, like “Ken Buck on Tuesday. Cory Gardner on Thursday. No, he said, “Ken Buck.”

Bonniwell: Ken Buck.

It would be interesting to know what issues draw Brauchler to Buck. Good fodder for a future radio show.

Listen to Bonniwell and Hayden discuss George Brauchler on KNUS 710-AM Saturday: