Election 2018GovernorHot Sheet

‘We’ve had enough Bushes’: Colorado Democrats invoke Barbara Bush to needle Walker Stapleton for Dallas fundraiser

Author: Ernest Luning - February 23, 2018 - Updated: February 23, 2018

“We’ve had enough Bushes,” former first lady Barbara Bush responds when asked whether her son former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush should run for president in an April 2013 Today Show interview. (Via YouTube)

The Colorado Democrats are proud to stand with Republican Barbara Bush, the forthright former first lady — at least when it comes to a statement the matriarch made five years ago about whether another one of her sons should run for president.

Asked during an April 2013 Today Show appearance whether former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush should run for president, his mother answered, “He’s by far the best qualified man, but no. I really don’t. I think it’s a great country. There are a lot of great families, and it’s not just four families or whatever. There are other people out there that are very qualified, and we’ve had enough Bushes.”

Eric Walker, the Colorado Democratic Party’s communications director, sent around a video clip of Barbara Bush’s remarks Thursday to draw attention to a fundraiser Republican gubernatorial candidate Walker Stapleton planned to attend that night in Dallas headlined by former President George W. Bush, Stapleton’s second cousin. (Stapleton’s mother is a cousin of former President George H.W. Bush, the other former president’s father.)

“As president, George W. Bush blew up the debt to give tax breaks to the rich, tried to privatize Social Security, and left us with the worst economy since the Great Depression. Now Walker Stapleton is running to impose that right-wing trickle-down agenda on Colorado,” said Colorado Democratic Party Chair Morgan Carroll in a statement.

“The last thing that hardworking Coloradans need is another round of Bush-style trickle-down economics that robs middle-class and working people to help millionaires and billionaires.”

Carroll, whose father represented Adams County in the General Assembly the 1960s and 1970s, also sent out a fundraising email Thursday making a similar point. “Will you help counter Walker Stapleton’s Bush money?” she asked.

Asked to comment, Stapleton campaign manager Michael Fortney was nonplussed. “Cool,” he told Colorado Politics.

Fortney has previously argued that digs from the Democrats about fundraising fall flat when one of their leading gubernatorial candidates, five-term U.S. Rep. Jared Polis, one of the richest members of Congress, plans to spend untold millions of dollars on his own campaign.

Walker — no relation — doesn’t intend to let Colorado voters forget that Stapleton is related to the Bush clan. The Democratic operative pointed to a handful of recent interviews in which Stapleton declares he’s his own man.

“I am proud of my family’s record of public service, but the voters of Colorado are going to judge me on my record,” Stapleton says in one.

Stapleton also notes that he’s related to Grammy-winning country musician Chris Stapleton, but “just because he’s my second cousin doesn’t mean that I sing like him.”

Nine other Republicans and six other Democrats are running for the job held by term-limited Gov. John Hickenlooper, a Democrat. The primary is June 26.

Ernest Luning

Ernest Luning

Ernest Luning is a political correspondent for Colorado Politics. He has covered politics and government for newspapers and online news sites in Colorado for more than 25 years, including at the Highlands Ranch Herald, the Jefferson Sentinels chain of community newspapers and the Aurora Sentinel, where he was the city hall and cops reporter. After editing the Aurora Daily Sun, he was a political reporter and blogger for The Colorado Independent site. For nearly a decade, he was a senior political reporter and occasional editor at The Colorado Statesman before the 119-year-old publication merged with Colorado Politics in 2017.