Gossip: Aug. 24, 2012

Author: - August 24, 2012 - Updated: August 24, 2012


Some Aurora residents are high-tailing it to Tampa this weekend in hopes of confronting Mike Coffman at the Republican National Convention, and they’re decorating some vehicles before they go.

On Thursday, before Aurorans Crista Laughlin, Wanda Ramey and David Bouchey hop on a plane at DIA bound for Florida the next morning, they plan to drive through town in a “caravan” of cars festooned with Hawaiian luau decorations — meant to highlight a recent luau-themed fundraiser where they say they tried to talk to Coffman but he ignored them — and dog crates strapped on top in a reference to a decades-old story about one of GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s family vacations.

It’s part of an ongoing campaign aimed at depicting the two-term incumbent as out of touch with constituents. The liberal Fair Share Colorado organization is promoting the trip to Tampa by the three members of the 99 percent to ask Coffman some questions.

Problem is, Coffman isn’t planning on attending the RNC, said an aide, who couldn’t disguise his amusement in an email.

“Hahahahaha,” wrote campaign spokesman Owen Loftus. “Don’t tell them that he’s not going to be there!”

One of the caravan’s organizers, Democratic operative Laura Chapin, said she checked Google and online news sites to determine that Coffman would be attending the confab in Florida. “If he wasn’t going, there would have been some sort of announcement,” she said.

Still, Coffman can catch the festivities this week in Colorado, when the caravan makes its way from somewhere in Aurora toward the center of Denver, with planned stops at four television stations.


It’s been more than three months since the General Assembly ended in acrimony and recriminations, not to mention a brief special session, after House Republicans shut things down rather than bring a civil unions bill to a vote it was likely to pass. And the liberal group Campaign for a Strong Colorado doesn’t want state residents to forget it, not with an election looming.

In a scathing radio ad backed by a hefty $100,000 buy, the group blasts House GOP leaders for what it terms “recklessly” grinding things to a halt as the session neared its end, stranding “more than 30 important bills, including measures that would have lowered taxes on small businesses, would have improved public safety, and would have invested in water projects critical to Colorado farmers and Colorado jobs.”

“Why did the Republicans quit on Colorado?” the ad asks, and then answers: “Just to protect the right-wing special interests that support their election campaigns. They just packed up — and went home.”

The ad finished a two-week run on Denver-area stations this week and promptly started airing elsewhere on the Front Range and in some Western Slope communities through Sept. 7, according to ProgressNow Colorado director Joanne Schwartz. Her organization is teaming up with Campaign for a Strong Colorado to run a website aimed at pillorying Republicans for the way the session ended.

Noting that the legislative shutdown wasn’t huge news outside Denver or to people who don’t live and breath politics, Schwartz said the ad has the opportunity to “catch the attention of the public, remind them what happened” as thoughts turn toward the fall election.

“It’s pretty easy to get wonky and in the weeds around what happened very quickly,” she said. “The goal of this is to talk very broadly about failed leadership, about [House Speaker Frank] McNulty and [Majority Leader Amy] Stephens making poor decisions, or non decisions, that led to the shutdown of the legislature.”

A spokesman for the House GOP blasted back in a statement.

“Colorado Democrats continue to run away from their own bankrupt tax-and-spend agenda and the failed policies of their leaders in Washington, D.C.,” said a House Republican spokesman in an email to The Colorado Statesman. “Colorado small business owners and House Republicans know the best way to help job creators — low taxes, less regulation and an optimistic spirit about America. While Democrats continue to focus on their divisive social agenda, Republicans continue our focus on job creation and economic renewal.”

Schwartz was having none of it, charging that it was Republicans who were more than happy to throw jobs out the window when a social issue was at stake.

“They said throughout the session they were going to fight for jobs, but we saw they were willing to sacrifice these 30 bills, which involved small business and big projects, but (they) also promoted several bills that clearly took the focus away from jobs and the economy,” she said.

The one thing the ad doesn’t mention is the civil unions legislation, which had passed three Republican-controlled House committees before floundering on the House floor as GOP leaders blocked a vote on the measure.

Schwartz said the ad’s creators didn’t shy away from mentioning civil unions, which she added polls extremely well with Colorado voters, but instead wanted to put the focus on the fallout.

“Civil unions definitely played a key role in the shutdown of the legislature,” she said. “I think that’s the one piece that’s pretty well known and got a majority of the coverage. It’s a very important bill, but just one of 30 bills” waylaid by House leadership, which she called a “key point we think was missing and want to make sure called to the attention of the public.”