Election 2018Hot Sheet

Women for Walker cite Stapleton’s economic agenda

Author: Joey Bunch - October 23, 2018 - Updated: October 23, 2018

Women for Walker
Women for Walker members, from left, Katie Wickliff, Jenna Stapleton, AnneMarie Anderson, Kristin Chandler and Merritt Grothe gather in the kitchen at a campaign event at the home of Meredith and Pete Coors Tuesday morning. (Joey Bunch/Colorado Politics)

Walker Stapleton was running a few minutes late for his own party Tuesday morning.

As Women for Walker talked politics with Stapleton’s wife, Jenna, at the Denver home of Meredith and Pete Coors, the Republican nominee for governor was en route after getting his three kids to school.

Some members of the 200-member organization said what they like best about Stapleton is that his policies make sense and speak to real life, instead of squishy products of focus groups, talking points or campaign promises.

His messages on families, small businesses, health care and transportation resonate, and politically he talks to women not simply about women, they said.

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Katie Wickliff is a mom and former school teacher who tutors now. She likes Stapleton’s education plan, she said, mainly because it’s realistic and trims what she sees as excessive administration costs at the sake of teacher pay and support for classrooms.

Opponents of Democrat Jared Polis say he has made bold promises without a clear way to pay for them, including universal all-day pre-school. Stapleton has said he would reduce administrative costs and look for savings he could steer into classrooms.

“It’s not that I dislike Polis’ plan,” Wickliff said. “I like Walker’s plan better because it’s realistic. I think he actually knows how to work within a budget to pay teachers more.”

Stapleton’s running mate, state Rep. Lang Sias, said even his Democratic friends call Polis’ unfunded policies “50 shades of crazy.”

Walker Stapleton
Republican gubernatorial nominee Walker Stapleton speaks at a Women for Walker gathering in Denver Tuesday morning. (Photo by Joey Bunch/Colorado Politics)

After he and Stapleton spoke to the crowd of about 100, he was in the kitchen getting coffee having a conversation with Carolyn Wolvin, who operates Horizon Services, a heating and cooling businesses, with her husband.

Sias talked about how his late father ran a ceramic tile business out of their basement and took in local high school kids at apprentices. Sias talked about how costs and delinquent payers made it difficult for his father to make payroll for a dozen employees.

He talked about seeing his father sketching out designs at 2 a.m., then hearing the equipment in the basement firing up.

Wolvin’s eyes showed she was on the same page with the candidate on small-business struggles.

“I like what he’s saying,” she said after Sias left the kitchen. “The fees, we always get hit. Like when they extended unemployment benefits in Colorado, that was passed right on the small business owners, another fee, but you could really call it a tax that we pay twice a year now. It’s tough.”

The Polis campaign declined to respond to Sias’ “crazy” comment or about Stapleton’s appeal to his women supporters.

Colorado Democratic Party spokesman Eric Walker offered the Women for Walker a reminder from his perspective — that Stapleton’s support for President Trump also is a support for the president’s comments on women.

“The truth is that Stapleton’s anti-choice agenda would turn back the clock for women in Colorado, not to mention his belief that we should give school funding to prisons and repeal universal background checks for gun purchases,” he said, citing Democratic rhetoric from the campaign.

AnneMarie Anderson, who helped put on Tuesday’s gathering, said giving women a voice, especially on sexual harassment, is overdue.

“I don’t think that’s Republican or Democrat, how you treat women.” she said. “I like that there’s measurable accountability for that, but the question is ‘where do we go now?'”

She doesn’t like that Democrats have sought to make it a partisan campaign tool. She’s seen that happen to issues before.

“We’ve politicized the environment,” said the Republican. “Well, I love nature. I don’t want to pollute nature. Things that are scientific aren’t necessarily political.

“Just like with #MeToo, if you politicize something for an agenda, it’s not going to purely serve the victim.”

Jenna Stapleton said that when she and Meredith Coors started putting together Women for Walker, they “went out on a limb a little bit” and recruited members who weren’t necessarily the expected rock-ribbed Republicans.

She said it wasn’t a difficult sales pitch to find women who support her husband’s thinking on the issues that affect them every day.

“Women care about the same issues as men,” she said in the foyer as she greeted guests. “Walker cares about families. He cares about health care and safety, and he cares about transportation. Education is a huge issue to him.”

She said two issues unite everyone: the economy and taxes.

“We should support people who have a plan who don’t intend to raises taxes on families to pay for it,” she said.

Joey Bunch

Joey Bunch

Joey Bunch is the senior political correspondent for Colorado Politics. He has a 31-year career in journalism, including the last 15 in Colorado. He was part of the Denver Post team that won the Pulitzer Prize in 2013 and is a two-time Pulitzer finalist. His resume includes covering high school sports, the environment, the casino industry and civil rights in the South, as well as a short stint at CNN.