Bill Owens Archives - Colorado Politics

Ernest LuningErnest LuningJanuary 3, 201810min224

The battle is heating up over how Colorado draws its legislative and congressional boundaries. After failing to knock out a pair of proposed redistricting and reapportionment ballot measures in court, a rough coalition of mostly liberal and good-government groups filed competing ballot measures in late December and is vowing to take the choice before voters this fall — potentially a case of, if you can't beat 'em in court, join 'em on the ballot.


Dan NjegomirDan NjegomirNovember 28, 20173min2240

Thanks to the Greeley Tribune’s Tyler Silvy for his solid profile of veteran Colorado politico Tom Norton, who is stepping down after four terms as Greeley mayor — and decades of high-profile public service. The Republican Norton, now 77, has been sort of a marathon man on Colorado’s political scene, having served as Senate president for six years in the 1990s and later as the state’s transportation chief under Republican Gov. Bill Owens, to whom Norton lost the GOP gubernatorial primary.

Silvy offers a lot more than just a thumbnail about the Lander, Wyoming, native who first came to Colorado on a wrestling scholarship at Colorado State University in Fort Collins. For one thing, there’s Norton’s admitted penchant for losing his cool and butting heads:

At city council meetings, he peppered staff with questions about road projects or any other topic. And, occasionally, the swagger of a man that once led the Colorado Senate pushed Norton over the edge. He drew statewide coverage for getting kicked out of a UNC basketball game when he argued with a referee.

He was lambasted this year for yelling at a fellow council member during a discussion of immigrants and refugees.

Norton is aware of the criticism, saying he goes over the line sometimes and has to apologize, even if he says some like his direct style. Any politician needs an ego, Norton said. But they also have to be able to manage it.

He’s also part of a power couple; wife Kay Norton is longtime president of the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley — as well as the one who, Tom Norton says, reins him in when he needs it:

“I use Kay as my ego manager,” Norton said. “When I get a little ahead of myself, she can say — as she used to put it, ‘You’re a TIP, a temporarily important person; it will only last until the next election,’ ” Norton said.

An outgoing mayor with an outgoing personality. Read the full Tribune story for more insights into this enduring political figure. Here’s the link again.



Dan NjegomirDan NjegomirNovember 7, 20174min4330

Behind every millionaire who aims to leave his mark on politics is a skilled political operative with the seasoning and savvy needed to make things happen. Hence, dialysis giant DaVita’s CEO, Kent Thiry, who is newly minted chairman of the nonpartisan redistricting reform coalition Fair Districts Colorado, can lean on Alan Philp.

The veteran Republican utility player — who among his many callings has been regional political director for the Republican National Committee and for Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign; deputy chief of staff to former Colorado Gov. Bill Owens, and policy director to former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush — has been around the block a time or two.

Philp, a longtime consultant, was in on the ground floor of Fair Districts when it started in 2015 and, in an emailed update to prospective supporters and donors last week, said, “We are moving into a new phase of this project.” The letter elaborates:

Our measures are working through the Title Board, and in January or February we expect to start the expensive process of collecting signatures.  Davita CEO Kent Thiry recently came on board as Chairman of the effort.

The reform proposal Fair Districts aims to petition onto the statewide ballot …

… will make Colorado a model for reform nationally:  a balanced commission that includes independents, a supermajority requirement to pass maps, transparency, nonpartisan staff drawn maps, neutral criteria for map-drawing (including drawing competitive districts, where possible).  If you want to see the text of the measures (I would read #67 and #69), see our press releases, learn more, or link to articles about the effort, please go to

There’s also the ask, of course:

Please contribute and/or help identify potential contributors.  We can accept unlimited amounts from individuals, corporations, etc.  This will be a multi-million dollar effort.  To date, we’ve been able to operate on a very modest budget, since most of our team members are unpaid.  But now legal costs will mount, as we work through Title Board and court challenges.  Our team needs to raise $200,000 in the next 45 days.

(Contributions can be made online via the aforementioned website or by a check in the mail to: Fair Districts Colorado, P.O. Box 19730, Denver, CO 80219.)

And while Philp hails from the Republican side of the fence, Fair Districts points to its bipartisan headliners: not just the Republican Owens but Democratic former Colorado Gov. Dick Lamm, as well. There’s also Republican former Colorado Speaker of the House Frank McNulty of Highlands Ranch as well as former Democratic Speaker Pro Tem Kathleen Curry of Gunnison.

Herding cats? Whatever the challenges in building and maintaining the coalition, Philp is no doubt familiar with the terrain.



Ernest LuningErnest LuningNovember 5, 20176min7150

Former Colorado State Treasurer Cary Kennedy on Saturday called on her fellow Democratic gubernatorial candidates to limit their primary election spending to $3 million, in addition to running positive campaigns and rejecting contributions from corporate interests. While all the leading Democrats in the race say they’re committed to running positive campaigns, none said they were willing to limit their spending in what could be one of Colorado’s most expensive statewide primaries in memory.


Ernest LuningErnest LuningOctober 16, 20179min18690

Tom Tancredo strolled into the packed conference room in the back of a Wheat Ridge bowling alley on a recent Thursday evening and took a seat. He was the headliner at the monthly North Jeffco Tea Party meeting, but first the group of about 50 activists heard from school board candidates and a young man who wanted to introduce himself to the group because he was considering a run for Congress. There was also a chili supper coming up, and raffle tickets were on sale, with prizes including a quantity of gold.


Ernest LuningErnest LuningAugust 7, 201712min5245

Will voters care if Democratic congressional candidate Jason Crow represented some unsavory characters early in his career as an attorney? It’s a serious vulnerability, says one of his primary opponents, and a veteran Republican strategist who won two statewide races in Colorado thanks to similar attacks on another Democrat agrees. Crow’s campaign team, however, says his background and experience will only serve to strengthen his bid to unseat Republican Mike Coffman, a five-term incumbent.