03 March 2015

Opinion: 50 Shades of Ryan Call (He's Just Not That Into You)

If "corruption" was a color, we'd need more than 50 Shades for this post.

I have, thus far (and surprisingly successfully), stayed almost entirely out of the 2015 Colorado Republican Chairman's race.

It's no secret that Ryan Call and I aren't exactly friendly (I am, after all, on his enemies list), and that I supported and voted for Steve House at State Assembly for Governor in 2014.  Needless to say, this one is a no-brainer for me.  But without a vote on March 14, it seemed unnecessary for me to step in and rehash so many old things... until now.

This past weekend was the final straw for me, and for many in the Colorado GOP.  Many have continued to come back over and over to someone who has continually thumbed his nose at us, but it's time to make a clean break once and for all.

Before we do that, however, let's see what built up to this moment.  Yes, it's snarky and sarcastic, but solidly based in reality (as you'll see with all the links and endnotes).  Did you really expect anything else from me?  At this point, the joke is on all of usall Colorado Republicans, and we're all losing because of it.  Sometimes you have to fight fire with fire.  Enough is enough.

Join me (and those signed below) in breaking up with Ryan Call—and if you're bold enough, let me know and I'll add your name to this letter, too (man or woman... unlike Ryan Call, I won't discriminate based on gender).

If Call wins, Colorado loses.  It's that simple.

From the Desk of
Colorado Republican Women

March 3, 2015

Our dear Chairman Ryan Call,

We’ve been together for almost 4 years now.  Maybe it’s time to think about where we are at, and what we have accomplished in our relationship.

The Colorado Republican Party has made some improvements.  We’re now caught up to the early 2000s in technology, as opposed to dwelling in the 1980s dark ages... so there’s that. 

We applaud you for your attempt at building an infrastructure, such as it is, but with nothing there before, it’s a good place to start.

However… not everything has been so rosy.

I mean, we might have been able to overlook your $400 maxed-out contribution in 2006 to Bernie Buescher (screenshots here), a Democratic candidate, while you were Denver County Republican Party Vice Chair… if you didn’t threaten to withhold money from viable Republican candidates because they didn’t pick a company you liked to work with them on their campaign.

We could forget your lovely 2011 mug shot—from a traffic ticket you managed to forget to show up to court for… as a lawyer—if you weren’t funneling tens of thousands of Colorado Republican Committee dollars to your own law firm[1].

It would be possible to forget that you threw two Republican state legislators (Sen. Vicki Marble and Rep. Lori Saine) under the bus… if you didn't admonish the entire House and Senate Republican delegation over opposing in-state tuition for illegal aliens (in clear opposition to the Party platform[2]).

We could turn a blind eye to your pathetic and paltry support of state legislative candidates[3, 4]… if only your pet IEC hadn’t just been found guilty of violating state law on 4 counts—while you are a member of the RNC Finance Committee, and after you trumpeted on the radio that the “independent” committee was, in fact, coordinating with the Republican Party after all.

Maybe we could live with all the secrecy and non-transparency of your entire administration if you didn’t hire a convicted crook to run your new IEC.  I mean… you let someone guilty of federal crimes into our home?  We thought you cared more about our safety, credibility, and integrity as a Party than that.

Speaking of money… you promised us back in 2011 that we would win in November 2012, or our money back—guaranteed!  Here’s what over $8 million (mostly given to you by the blood, sweat, and tears of the RNC, and not from your own shoe leather) bought us in 2012:
  • A loss for Romney in Colorado.
  • A loss in our only statewide election.
  • No change in Congress (despite a potential pick up in at least one district).
  • No change at the CU Board of Regents (when there were two potential pick-ups).
  • No change at the State Board of Education (granted, with only CDs 2 and 4 up, there wasn’t going to be any change this election cycle).
  • No change in the State Senate (despite two very winnable seats, and two more toss-ups).
  • The largest loss in the State House, from 33R-32D to 37D-28R, since 2004—the year of The Blueprint.

Oops.  That was kind of embarrassing.  Let’s move on to something better, shall we?   Like 2014.  This past election, we saw…
  • A loss for Beauprez; but wins for 3 other statewide Republicans.
  • No change in Congress; but a win for Gardner.
  • No change at the CU Board of Regents.
  • No change at the State Board of Education.
  • A 1-seat (net) gain in the State Senate (18R/17D)—could have been 3 net wins.
  • A 3-seat gain in the State House (34D/31R)—could have been 6 wins.

That’s a little more positive, isn’t it?  Slow clap on winning one national race while largely letting the rest of the state stay stagnant.

Look.  We might be able to applaud your minimal gains for Republicans in Colorado after 2 terms and nearly $20 million dollars spent on elections[5]… if only registration for active Republicans hadn’t dropped by 5.49% under your tenure, with an overall drop of 1.29% of total registered Republicans during that time[6, 7].

And then there’s your statement on October 7, 2013 about the Senate District 19 recall (“This recall election would undermine our efforts in the governor’s race, the U.S. Senate race and to win a senate majority if voters perceive that Republicans are trying to win a majority through recalls.” [source]).  Now, this we might forgive and forget if it wasn’t just so blatantly wrong—after all, we did win the U.S. Senate seat and the State Senate majority… only and entirely because this seat was up for election in 2014.  This is, of course, after you opposed the ruling that made success even possible in the Senate Districts 3 and 11 recalls… and then tried to cover that up by removing the press release from your website.

Here’s the rub.  There’s a lot we are willing to turn a blind eye to in the name of “unity”.  There’s even a lot that we think can, and should, be kept behind closed doors. 

The problem, Mr. Chairman, is that nothing ever gets resolved behind closed doors because you pretend like we don’t exist.  Let’s face it.  You have a very poor track record of dealing with us women.  I mean, just look at the numbers:
  • 4/30 female candidates in 2014 received State Party support
  • 5/24 female candidates in 2012 received State Party support
  • A mere 14% of funds given to candidates in 2012 and 2014 went to women, who made up almost 1/3rd of all candidates for statewide and state legislative offices

And yet, despite all that, we stayed steadfast, loyal, and true.  But no more.

The final straw, Mr. Chairman, was the transparent and blatant power grab just this past weekend in Costilla County, where you chose to unseat duly elected officers and replace them with your handpicked voters.  We are willing to tolerate a lot, but you finally crossed a bridge too far and we just can’t do it anymore.

We’re not asking for special treatment.  We’re not even asking for the same treatment you give to men.  All we want is a little bit of fair play.  Is that really so much to ask?

It’s time for us to face the truth.  You’ve shown that you’re not that into us. 

Well… guess what?  That feeling is mutual. 

We’re just not that into you, either. 

And no… we can’t be ‘just friends.’  We’re through.


Colorado Republican Women
Sarah Arnold, Regan Benson, Meaghan Croghan, Sharon Croghan, Lana Fore, Mary Anne Greer, Leslie Hanks, Alexandra Harden, Judy Howell, Tina Jones Griffiths, DoriĆ© Ann Lehan, Becky Mizel, Julie Naye, Jen Raiffie, Mailyn Salabarria, Julie Scott, Anita Stapleton, Nancy Wenlock

And the men who love Colorado Republican women...
Matt Arnold, George Athanasopoulos, Kim Herzfeld, William Howell, Simon Kane, Robert Pryor, Joe Webb



[1] $147,225.00 from 2011-current paid to Hale Westfall LLP by the Colorado Republican Committee. Search committee #C00033134.

[2] “Illegal immigrants should not receive any non-emergency benefits, services or privileges from federal, state or local governments.” [source]

[3] 28.66% of CRC funds, according to TRACER, went directly to non-federal candidates in 2012. 62.41% of CRC funds, according to TRACER, went directly to non-federal candidates in 2014—a number which drops dramatically to a mere 14.85% when you remove contributions to gubernatorial candidate Bob Beauprez. Search committee #19991500072.

[4] CRC money spent in the state of Colorado in 2012 on non-federal elections was 4.41% of the total operating budget that cycle. CRC money spent in the state of Colorado in 2014 on non-federal elections was 8.04% of the total operating budget that cycle. See notes 1 and 3 to find committee information on TRACER and FEC.
        In other words, 1.21% of total CRC money was spent on non-federal candidates in 2012; and only 4.65% of total CRC money was spend on non-federal candidates in 2014… or 1.11% if you take out Beauprez’s contributions.

[5] 64 Republicans in statewide and federal office in 2011 vs. 66 Republicans in statewide and federal office in 2015 (out of 130).

[6] 38.33% active registered Republicans as of 1 April 2011, 32.69% total registered Republicans as of 1 April 2011 [source]

[7] 32.84% active registered Republicans as of 1 February 2015, 31.40% total registered Republicans as of 1 February 2015 [source]

01 February 2015

Spoiler Alert! and "Close" Elections

Taken from here.

Of 101 Colorado races in 2014, only 9 races had "spoilers" (races where the winner had less than 50%).  And of those races, only 4 resulted in a Democratic victory.  That means 4% of Colorado races were "adversely" affected by third party candidates (if you're a Republican).

U.S. Senate: Cory Gardner (Republican), 48.21%
Governor: John Hickenlooper (Democratic), 49.30%
Secretary of State: Wayne Williams (Republican), 47.34%
Treasurer: Walker Stapleton (Republican), 49.87%
Senate District 5: Kerry Donovan (Democratic), 49.04%
Senate District 19: Laura Woods (Republican), 47.61%
Senate District 20: Cheri Jahn (Democratic), 46.81%
House District 17: Kit Roupe (Republican), 47.27%
House District 29: Tracy Kraft-Tharp (Democratic), 49.40%

Taken from here.

Additionally, there were 15 races where the margin of victory was within 3.5%, which one could consider to be "toss-up" seats (close enough that they can go either way in the right election circumstances).

U.S. Senate: 1.95% (39,688 votes)
Governor: 3.35% (68,238 votes)
Secretary of State: 2.36% (46,525 votes)
Senate District 5, 3.31% (1,301 votes)
Senate District 16, 2.74% (1,897 votes)
Senate District 19, 1.05% (663 votes)
Senate District 20, 0.62% (439 votes)
Senate District 22, 2.24% (1,336 votes)
Senate District 24, 1.74% (896 votes)
House District 3, 1.46% (443 votes)
House District 17, 2.02% (289 votes)
House District 30, 0.56% (106 votes)
House District 31, 0.98% (229 votes)
House District 36, 2.90% (668 votes)
House District 59, 0.50% (170 votes)


Taken from here.

What does all this mean?

  1. "Spoilers" actually work in favor of Republicans, too, so quit yer whining.
  2. There were a number of fairly close election in 2014--this was the Republican's year to lose, and lose they did in Colorado... way too often.  Infinitely winnable seats slipped through our grasp once again.

94%: The 2014 Election Wrap-up Post

Sorry for the long delay on this--family life and work have been a little nutty since the election.

Taken from here.

Okay, so it isn't the 97% of 2012.  But I'll take it.  Especially because, once again, Nate Silver isn't better than me (we tied this time, counting his U.S. Senate Predictions).

This election was not decided on Election Night in Colorado.  Had we gone based on Election Night results, Colorado would now have a Republican Governor, a 20R-15D Senate Majority, and a 33R-32D House Majority.  That... didn't exactly happen, now did it?

This is why early returns are, frankly, unimportant!  I watched way too many people get their hopes up.  That smashing 7%+ victory for Cory Gardner on Election Night?  It was actually just under 2%.  It wasn't a blowout.  Beauprez winning?  Nope.  He lost by 3.35%.  Taking the State House?  Ha... no.  And we barely have a Senate Majority.  Don't forget that it took weeks for Adams County to finish counting, and that there was one seat within the margins for an automatic recount in Southwest Colorado (House District 59), although the ultimate result there didn't change.

Below is a brief review of the final election results.  Results may be found on the Secretary of State's website.

Bold denotes incumbent
Italic indicates an incorrect call
Red shows a Republican Pick-up
Blue delineates a Democratic Pick-up
Races with no-call are green


Pre-Election Make-up: 3 Republicans, 3 Democrats
Projected Post-Election Make-up: 4 Democrats, 2 Republicans 
Post-Election Make-up: 4 Republicans, 2 Democrats
Seats up: 5
  • U.S. Senate (class 3): Cory Gardner (Republican)
  • Governor: John Hickenlooper (Democratic)
  • Attorney General: Cynthia Coffman (Republican)
  • Secretary of State: Wayne Williams (Republican)
  • Treasurer: Walker Stapleton (Republican)


Pre-Election Make-up: 4 Republicans, 3 Democrats
Projected Post-Election Make-up: 3 Republicans, 3 Democrats, 1 toss-up
Post-Election Make-up: 4 Republicans, 3 Democrats
Seats up: 7
  • Congressional District 1: Diana Degette (Democratic)
  • Congressional District 2: Jared Polis (Democratic)
  • Congressional District 3: Scott Tipton (Republican)
  • Congressional District 4: Ken Buck (Republican)
  • Congressional District 5: Doug Lamborn (Republican)
  • Congressional District 6: Mike Coffman (Republican)
  • Congressional District 7: Ed Perlmutter (Democratic)
6/6, 1 toss-up

CU Regent

Pre-Election Make-up: 5 Republicans, 4 Democrats
Projected Post-Election Make-up: 5 Republicans, 4 Democrats
Post-Election Make-up: 5 Republicans, 4 Democrats
Seats up: 3
  • Congressional District 2: Linda Shoemaker (Republican)
  • Congressional District 6: John Carson (Republican)
  • Congressional District 7: Irene Griego (Democratic)

State Board of Education

Pre-Election Make-up: 4 Republicans, 3 Democrats
Projected Post-Election Make-up: 4 Republicans, 3 Democrats
Post-Election Make-up: 4 Republicans, 3 Democrats
Seats up: 3
  • Congressional District 1: Valentina Flores (Democratic)
  • Congressional District 3: Marcia Neal (Republican)
  • Congressional District 7: Jane Goff (Democratic)

State Senate

Pre-Election Make-up: 18 Democrats, 17 Republicans
Projected Post-Election Make-up: 18 Democrats, 16 Republicans, 1 toss-up
Post-Election Make-up: 18 Republicans, 17 Democrats
Seats up: 18
  • Senate District 1: Jerry Sonnenberg (Republican)
  • Senate District 2: Kevin Grantham (Republican)
  • Senate District 3: Leroy Garcia (Democratic)
  • Senate District 5: Kerry Donovan (Democratic)
  • Senate District 6: Ellen Roberts (Republican)
  • Senate District 7: Ray Scott (Republican)
  • Senate District 9: Kent Lambert (Republican)
  • Senate District 11: Michael Merrifield (Democratic)
  • Senate District 13: John Cooke (Republican)
  • Senate District 15: Kevin Lundberg (Republican)
  • Senate District 16: Tim Neville (Republican)
  • Senate District 19: Laura Woods (Republican)
  • Senate District 20: Cheri Jahn (Democratic)
  • Senate District 22: Andy Kerr (Democratic)
  • Senate District 24: Beth Martinez-Humenik (Republican)
  • Senate District 30: Chris Holbert (Republican)
  • Senate District 32: Irene Aguilar (Democratic)
  • Senate District 34: Lucia Guzman (Democratic)
15/17, 1 toss-up

State House

Pre-Election Make-up: 37 Democrats, 28 Republicans
Projected Post-Election Make-up: 36 Democrats, 29 Republicans
Post-Election Make-up: 34 Democrats, 31 Republicans
Seats up: 65
  • House District 1: Susan Lontine (Democratic)
  • House District 2: Alec Garnett (Democratic)
  • House District 3:  Daniel Kagan (Democratic)
  • House District 4: Dan Pabon (Democratic)
  • House District 5: Crisanta Duran (Democratic)
  • House District 6: Lois Court (Democratic)
  • House District 7: Angela Williams (Democratic)
  • House District 8: Beth McCann (Democratic)
  • House District 9:  Paul Rosenthal (Democratic)
  • House District 10: Dickey Lee Hullinghorst (Democratic)
  • House District 11: Jonathan Singer (Democratic)
  • House District 12: Mike Foote (Democratic)
  • House District 13: K.C. Becker (Democratic)
  • House District 14: Dan Nordberg (Republican)
  • House District 15: Gordon Klingenschmitt (Republican)
  • House District 16: Janak Joshi (Republican)
  • House District 17: Kit Roupe (Republican)
  • House District 18: Pete Lee (Democratic)
  • House District 19: Paul Lundeen (Republican)
  • House District 20: Terri Carver (Republican)
  • House District 21: Lois Landgraf (Republican)
  • House District 22: Justin Everett (Republican)
  • House District 23: Max Tyler (Democratic)
  • House District 24: Jessie Danielson (Democratic)
  • House District 25: Jon Keyser (Republican)
  • House District 26: Diane Mitsch-Bush (Democratic)
  • House District 27: Libby Szabo (Republican)
  • House District 28: Brittany Pettersen (Democratic)
  • House District 29: Tracy Kraft-Tharp (Democratic)
  • House District 30: JoAnn Windholz (Republican)
  • House District 31: Joe Salazar (Democratic)
  • House District 32: Dominick Moreno (Democratic)
  • House District 33: Dianne Primavera (Democratic)
  • House District 34: Steve Lebsock (Democratic)
  • House District 35: Faith Winter (Democratic)
  • House District 36: Su Ryden (Democratic)
  • House District 37: Jack Tate (Republican)
  • House District 38: Kathleen Conti (Republican)
  • House District 39: Polly Lawrence (Republican)
  • House District 40: John Buckner (Republican)
  • House District 41: Jovan Melton (Democratic)
  • House District 42: Ronda Fields (Democratic)
  • House District 43: Kevin Van Winkle (Republican)
  • House District 44: Kim Ransom (Republican)
  • House District 45: Patrick Neville (Republican)
  • House District 46: Daneya Esgar (Democratic)
  • House District 47: Clarice Navarro-Ratzlaff (Republican)
  • House District 48: Stephen Humphries (Republican)
  • House District 49: Perry Buck (Republican)
  • House District 50: Dave Young (Democratic)
  • House District 51: Brian DelGrosso (Republican)
  • House District 52: Joann Ginal (Democratic)
  • House District 53: Jeni Arndt (Democratic)
  • House District 54: Yeulin Willett (Republican)
  • House District 55: Dan Thurlow (Republican)
  • House District 56: Kevin Priola (Republican)
  • House District 57: Bob Rankin (Republican)
  • House District 58: Don Coram (Republican)
  • House District 59: J. Paul Brown (Republican)
  • House District 60: Jim Wilson (Republican)
  • House District 61: Millie Hamner (Democratic)
  • House District 62: Ed Vigil (Democratic)
  • House District 63: Lori Saine (Republican)
  • House District 64: Tim Dore (Republican)
  • House District 65: Jon Becker (Republican)

08 January 2015

Opinion: Education Reform Strategy 101

As the dust settles on the last year and last election cycle, it's time to start thinking about school board elections once again in Colorado.  It has been my position for years that unless and until limited government advocates champion education (and school choice), no other progress... so to speak... will be made in the political arena.

At a Denver school choice conference in December 2014, hosted by the Franklin Center, outgoing State Board of Education Chairman Paul Lundeen presented on how he saw the conversation about education as being framed like a Shakespearean play:

  • Act One: Exposition, protagonist introduced, dramatic premise
  • Act Two: CRISIS, obstacle, protagonist blocked from fulfilling need
  • Act Three: Resolution, climax, denouement
State Representative Lundeen concluded by observing that choice advocates have been trapped in the second act for decades--and for real reform, we need to bring the conversation back to the first act.

2015 provides a perfect opportunity to get back to the basics of education, and education reform, with dozens of school board elections across the state of Colorado.  We don't need to make it a conversation piece; it already will be one.  We merely need to seize the opportunity to drive the conversation in the correct direction.

The most basic principle of all, one that needs public attention, is that the primary benefit of education is personal, and only secondarily is it a public benefit.  In other words, Education is primarily a private good.

The form education takes is driven by the fundamental end of education: is it a societal good, or a private, personal benefit?

If you asked the "man on the street" today, the focus is on the public (or societal) good of education, not the personal.  Our mission in Colorado's 2015 school board elections must be to shift that focus.

Right now, education is approached systematically, with forms and formulas in cookie-cutter schools to churn out the masses, rather than creating individual learning centers focused on the unique needs and achievements of each student.

As conservatives, we tend to focus on the first five of WWWWHW: the who, the what, the when, the where, and the how.  We are logistically driven, and that is shown in our concern for fixing the mechanics of the problem.  But that forgets the heart of the matter--literally; the more emotionally driven component of why.

We need to change our approach to school choice messaging by leading with the why: education should be personal, meaningful, and practical.  If you, as a student, put more into it, you will get more out.  That is our message box.

Education reform is much broader than just school choice (i.e. it exists outside the school choice box), but school choice is fundamental to education reform.  To obtain true, sweeping reform of education requires the realization that a cookie-cutter approach to education fails far too many of our students, and that choice is the first step down the road of personalized and individualized learning.

Perhaps ideally, education will once again be a private institution, but that idea is likely decades away (if it comes to fruition at all).  That is why school board elections are as important, if not more so, than funding private education--because it is our duty to view public and private education as parallel paths, and that we can both work to replace the status quo, failing system while protecting the most vulnerable still in it.

National School Choice Week approaches quickly--at the end of this month (January).  Let's make it our mission in Colorado to not just highlight the successes of school choice (of which I am a product), but change the conversation to make individualized, personal education a reality for all Colorado students.  That reality starts by changing the conversation as we approach November's ballot box.