Media omission: Tea-party activists talk about ousting GOP politicians, as Gardner dodges the conversationSunday, April 5th, 2015
Tea-Party activists in Colorado are feeling good about themselves after booting GOP state Chair Ryan Call, and their momentum could spell trouble (as in, P-R-I-M-A-R-Y) for newly elected Sen. Cory Gardner–as well as fellow Republican Rep. Mike Coffman.
Before last month’s election, which put the Tea Party in control of the state GOP, you might have ignored threats about primaries–about ousting Gardner or Coffman. But now, reporters and others should pay attention to these folks on conservative radio shows.
“I want to plant this seed in everyone’s mind,” said former state GOP vice chair Mark Baisley on KLZ radio March 19. “Now, the priority has become the principle. The priority has become liberty; it has become founding princicples. It has become the party platform, which I’ve been preaching for years. That’s become the priority over the people in office.
“Be ready to hold [to] account,” continued Baisley, who’s aligned with the insurgent liberty wing of the Colorado Republican Party, even though he lost his vice-race last month. “And be ready to throw out people like Cory Gardner, people like Mike Coffman, who are not toeing the line. Hold folks to account and let them know, ‘Hey, we’re in a mood. And hop on, or you’re not as important as the movement; you’re not as important as founding principles.’”
“Boy, you’ve been dying to be in a position where you could just make that last statement, haven’t you.” KLZ host Randy Corporon told Baisley, “because you couldn’t say those things as vice-chairman of the Colorado State Republican Party.”
“Yeah, it would not have been appropriate,” replied Baisley. (Listen to Mark Baisley here, beginning at 2:15)
“Yeah, so, power to you, man!” replied Corporon, who’s the founder of the Arapahoe Country Tea Party. “God bless you for saying so and being honest. Because, absolutely, you know, Mike Coffman is my Congressman. Primaries – there is such talk about primaries right now, because we can’t have people who continue to allow the big government agenda to go forward. I don’t care how strong you are on the VA. I don’t care how likeable and charismatic you are on CNN, and that you have good hair. If you don’t stand up for the Constitution, if you don’t push back with everything you’ve got at every opportunity against this advancing progressive agenda, then I’m done with you.”
Corporon and Baisley are upset about Republican votes on immigration and budget issues. And Gardner’s refusal to appear on Corporon’s radio show, Wake Up, is having a salt-on-the-wound effect.
Corporon’s dogged campaign to get newly elected Senator Cory Gardner to appear on his radio show got a boost from an icon of the conservative right, Bill Kristol, the editor of the Weekly Standard, who told Corporon March 19 that, in principle, he believes Gardner should appear on Corporon’s early morning show on KLZ 560-AM.
“Don’t you think that these elected officials are obligated to talk to everyone who has supported them and who they were elected to represent?” Corporon asked Kristol.
“Especially Republican and conservative-oriented politicians,” Kristol replied, “foolishly think that conservative radio hosts [and] magazine editors somehow are going to be on the team. And they get really annoyed if you occasionally say what you think. I’ve criticized people for not making compromises when I thought it was prudent to do so. And I’ve certainly criticized politicians at times for compromising too much and too early and not standing up for principle. And at times, they want you to pay a price. So they’ll give the interview that they think is so valuable to someone else. They won’t cooperate with one of our writers writing a profile. It’s part of the business, honestly. I think the good politicians get beyond that. In fact, I’d say politicians get a lot of credit, including pretty liberal Republican Senators who are very open, who will talk to everyone in their state, who don’t duck tough interviews. And then I go to some states and I hear about a certain Senator I think Rob Portly of Ohio is a good example, probably a little more moderate than the Tea-Party guys would want. He answers the questions. He takes the interviews, does the town halls. And people feel, you know, at least he listens to us, he’s respectful, and we differ on some things. I don’t want to say anything on Cory Gardner because I don’t know the details, obviously, but in general I think it’s a good idea to be open, especially, as you say, to people who have supported you and answer to criticism and perhaps push you back on the right path.” (Listen to Bill Kristol here.)
But what’s the right path, and does it lead to a primary battle? Those are questions Gardner, Coffman, Baisley, Corporon, and uppity Tea Partiers in Colorado will be working out for a long time, I have the feeling.