Election 2018FeaturedNews

CAPITOL M | Politics get messy, more attack ads

Author: Marianne Goodland - September 14, 2018 - Updated: September 27, 2018

(Photo illustration by Vaselena, istockphoto)

With last week’s Club 20 debates providing the unofficial kickoff to the fall campaign season, lots of shenanigans of all shapes and sizes on election mailers and other such stuff are starting to surface.

We start with an interesting observation from Aspen Times reporter Brent Gardner Smith (he’s the BOMB on water reporting, by the way): Not one of the three GOP candidates who showed up at the recent Colorado Water Congress summer conference — guv hopeful Walker Stapleton, Attorney General hopeful George Brauchler and Rep. Scott Tipton from Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District  — mentioned President Trump by name during their remarks. EPA Region VIII Administrator Doug Benevento (yes, that guy who used to be on the DougCo School Board) also spoke at the Water Congress, and he didn’t mention Trump either. And he works for him.

The same happened or didn’t, as the case may be, at the Club 20 debates: The word “Trump” never escaped the lips of any of the candidates on the GOP side. You’d think they’d love to talk up the success of tax cuts or tariffs or immigration.

And that’s what you missed at the Club 20 debates, from someone who was actually there (ahem, Colorado Sun).


Politics are getting messy down Pueblo way

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Fundraising letter from HD47 Democratic candidate Bri Buentello

Republican political operative Tammy Klein (daughter of Marge) has flagged Colorado Politics twice about this Aug. 22 fundraising letter from House District 47 Democratic candidate Bri Buentello. The district includes Fremont and Otero counties and the rural parts of Pueblo County.

It’s not like Don Bendell, her Republican opponent, hasn’t had his own problems of late.  His adult children labeled him a “deadbeat dad” for dodging child support for 17 years. (He has since repaid it, but only after his children were all grown up.)

He’s also trailing Buentello, badly, in the fundraising race. As of the latest campaign finance reports on Sept. 4, he has just $1,190 on hand to Buentello’s $27,145.

Said Klein: “Just imagine if roles were reversed and a male politician sent out an email like this against his female opponent. … She attacked Don’s age, his Native American attire, his 50 plus years of teaching martial arts. … He has taught children, mothers & fathers how to defend them self [sic]. And this candidate says ‘families first’?”

(FYI: The Native American attire is not because Bendell is Native American. He’s written more than two dozen books, several featuring  Native American characters.)

On Wednesday, the chair of the Fremont County Republican Party called on Buentello to apologize for her remarks against Bendell, stick to the issues and move away from “ageist” attacks.

Gregory Carlson said that to “insinuate that age, young or old, is a reason to not hire or elect a candidates [sic] is ageist and discriminatory.” He added that for Buentello to “mock a demonstration for retirees to learn how to better defend themselves proves she is ignorant about the real issue of elder abuse.”

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Buentello’s Facebook page, chiding Bendell (although not by name) for his attacks on his primary opponent.

But Bendell has some ‘splainin (and maybe apologies) of his own to do. Buentello told Colorado Politics she found it laughable that Bendell and his associates are seeking an apology for her letter, given how “vicious” Bendell was to his primary opponent, Rep. Judy Reyher of Swink.

Reyher was recovering from major spinal surgery during the primary season. In one instance, Bendell, in a June event, raised Reyher’s health issues and implied that she is something of a lightweight for taking painkillers because, when he broke his back, he took nothing stronger than an extra-strength Tylenol.

(From the Colorado Times Recorder’s transcript of the event: “Everybody has different levels [of pain tolerance]. I was a Green Beret, she wasn’t. I don’t expect her to have the same pain tolerance as me. I certainly don’t. However long she takes to recuperate that’s between her and her doctors. That’s none of my business.”)

Postscript: Reyher is co-hosting a fundraiser for Bendell on Sept. 24, so all appears well in the GOP family.


Attack ads, round two

On Wednesday state Rep. Brittany Pettersen, a Lakewood Democrat, sent out a fundraising email because an independent expenditure committee (the GOP-affiliated Senate Majority Fund) sent out a flyer attacking her record on health care costs. Pettersen is running for the Senate, hoping to replace fellow Dem Sen. Andy Kerr.

In the “what’s good for the gander” department: Capitol M happens to live in Pettersen’s House and Kerr’s Senate district. On the exact same day the anti-Pettersen mailer showed up at the Capitol M household, an attack mailer targeting her Republican opponent, Tony Sanchez, sent out by the Dem-affiliated Coloradans for Fairness, also showed up at the Capitol M mailbox. Same day. It’s going to be a loooonnnnnggg campaign season.

By the way, the campaign for Pettersen is really something else. Capitol M now watches the mailbox on Thursdays, because for the past six weeks now, a pro-Pettersen flyer has shown up every — single — Thursday, like clockwork. The first couple of flyers came from the dark money group Colorado Values Project (which doesn’t disclose its donors, hence the dark money tag) and didn’t have the magic words ” vote for” but touted her accomplishments in fighting drug abuse, education, etc.


Did John Elway endorse a state Senate candidate? Inquiring minds, and all that …

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republican senate candidate Christine Jensen and Broncos GM John Elway.

Christine Jensen of Wheat Ridge, a Republican who is vying for the state Senate seat held by term-limited Sen. Cheri Jahn of Wheat Ridge, posted this on her Facebook page (her state Senate campaign Facebook page, not her personal one).

When last we heard from the Broncos general manager on political matters, it was after he endorsed Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch, using Broncos’ official letterhead.

The NFL has since banned its players from expressing political views via kneeling during the national anthem, which is tied to protests over police brutality and racial injustice, so Elway took some criticism for doing what the league discourages Broncos players from doing.

Elway is not listed as among Jensen’s endorsements on her website, and the Broncos office did not return a call for comment.

Marianne Goodland

Marianne Goodland

Marianne Goodland is the chief legislative reporter for Colorado Politics. She's covered the Colorado General Assembly for 20 years, starting off in 1998 with the Silver & Gold Record, the editorially-independent newspaper at CU that was shuttered in 2009. She also writes for six rural newspapers in northeastern Colorado. Marianne specializes in rural issues, agriculture, water and, during election season, campaign finance. In her free time (ha!) she lives in Lakewood with her husband, Jeff; a cantankerous Shih-Tzu named Sophie; and Gunther the cat. She is also an award-winning professional harpist.