However, sometimes politics requires pragmatism. There are several races where both candidates would do a good job if they win the primary, but when there is a tie on principle and liberty, who can ultimately win in November comes into play and pragmatism rules.
In races where there are not primaries and "bad" Republicans running, exercise your right to undervote, especially in the primary. I had 12 races on my ballot, and only voted in 5. Undervotes send a message in primaries. Make your voice heard!
Finally, while I'm in the prediction business where numbers can be evaluated, since primaries are all about turnout, I'll leave the prognostications for the general election. Below are recommendations, not predictions.
PLEASE leave your thoughts and comments below--especially on races with no recommendations, or where you disagree with my assessment.
GovernorThis year's governor's race has been very interesting from the beginning. Several candidates were knocked out at State Assembly (including my first choice). Four are left standing: Mike Kopp, Scott Gessler, Tom Tancredo, and Bob Beauprez (in order they appear on the ballot). Here's the quick and dirty from my perspective:
- I volunteered for Bob Beauprez in 2006--at the Assembly and all through the campaign. I would be hard pressed to find a reason to vote for him again. Three examples as to why: 1) 2006 ended with a Beauprez loss by 16.83% (it was one of the worst shellackings in Colorado's history for the Governor's race); 2) read this here to know all you need to know about "Both Ways Bob" and his opinion on healthcare--granted, it's from ColoradoPols, so make sure you disinfect after visiting their site AND it's from 2007, but this is exactly what we don't need haunting our nominee (his coziness with AmyCare Stephens doesn't help with the trust factor either); and 3) this little gem right here--'nough said.
- Our biggest victory in 2010 was not the one vote majority in the State House (see: SB11-200 and other gems from the two "majority" sessions)... it was Scott Gessler winning the Secretary of State's office. I would have been first in line to help with his reelection campaign. Instead, he made what will probably go down as the worst decision of his political career by jumping into this race. I really don't have anything against Scott, but his campaign has been lackluster at best (he was slated to be the only one to come out of Assembly and they couldn't even get top line) and his "groupies" have done more to scare away voters than draw them in. At this point, he would limp weakly into the general if he miraculously wins this race. Yes, he is the only candidate to win statewide... but against Hick and his machine without a Tea Party wave? History won't repeat itself in this case.
- I like Mike. I really do. But I have significant concerns with him as our RNC Committeeman. And that, despite his voting record in the State Senate, is concerning enough for me to not vote for him. With little name recognition, I don't think Mike has what we need to take on Hickenlooper in November.
- Finally, Tom Tancredo. Tom and I disagree on plenty of issues. But Tom has two qualities no other candidate for governor this year has: chutzpah and fire. Tom isn't afraid to tackle the tough issues (including the ineptitude of State Party leadership) and he has a fire in the belly like no one else in politics. He's a character, but there are no secrets with Tom. What you see is what you get. And that is why he got my vote.
District 1 (Adams, Denver)Colorado’s 1st Congressional District is pretty securely Democrat – in fact, in all likelihood, that is Diana DeGette’s seat until she doesn’t want it anymore. There is a primary between Martin Walsh and a write-in candidate named Kathleen Cunningham. I know nothing about either candidate, so take a look at their websites and make an informed decision.
District 3 (Alamosa, Archuleta, Conejos, Costilla, Custer, Delta, Dolores, Eagle, Garfield, Gunnison, Hinsdale, Huerfano, Jackson, La Plata, Lake, Mesa, Mineral, Moffat, Montezuma, Montrose, Ouray, Pitkin, Pueblo, Rio Blanco, Rio Grande, Routt, Saguache, San Juan, San Miguel)This seems to be the year for miracles in Congressional races. If that's the case, then David Cox has a fighting chance against the two-term incumbent and serial OGRE Scott Tipton. David was an upset and the biggest surprise at the Multi-County District Assemblies in April, making the ballot with little time to campaign and almost no name recognition in the district. If winds of change are blowing, this is definitely the year to upset incumbents and may make its way into this district.
State Board of Education, District 3This is simply a race between pro- and anti- Common Core from what I see. Current BoE member, Marcia Neal, was for Common Core before she was against it. Barbara Ann Smith has been solidly anti-Common Core from the beginning. Seems an easy choice to me.
District 4 (Adams, Arapahoe, Baca, Bent, Boulder, Cheyenne, Crowley, Douglas, Elbert, Kiowa, Kit Carson, Las Animas, Lincoln, Logan, Morgan, Otero, Phillips, Prowers, Sedgwick, Washington, Weld, Yuma)After the nightmare switch-a-roo from CD4 to US Senate, Cory Gardner left the playing field wide open. Four candidates are in the mix (in ballot order): Scott Renfroe, Ken Buck, Steve Laffey, Barbara Kirkmeyer. Since I can't vote here, I won't spend a lot of time on this race but here are a few quick observations:
- Barbara Kirkmeyer is essentially an unknown entity in the district (outside of Weld)--I'd be surprised if she gets much more than 10-15%.
- Steve Laffey has done some great work on issues, but with his history of tax increases (I mean, come on--he was a Mayor in Rhode Island), contributing to bad candidates, both Democrats (like Jesse Jackson, Jr.) and Republicans (Lamar Alexander), a recurrent need to run for something (he's registered for Governor, US Senate, and CD4 just this election cycle), I think Steve needs to stick to the issues and learn a little more about Colorado politics before jumping in again. I see him becoming a potentially great force here, just not in 2014.
- Ken Buck has seriously disappointed someone who was once a huge fan. I was ready to vote for him for US Senate, and was secretly hoping he'd run for AG. After the Karl Rove backroom deal/swap with Cory, and subsequent mutual endorsements, I don't think I can support Ken anytime soon for anything.
- That leaves us Scott Renfroe, a known quantity with a solid voting record. If I were in CD4, this would be an easy choice for me. Scott's CUT average is 84.49% over 7 years, and his POL score for the past four years averages to 79.55%.
District 5 (Chaffee, El Paso, Fremont, Park, Teller)We get to see a re-run in my native Congressional District, the 5th, with Doug Lamborn vs. Bentley Rayburn. For the record, as I said in 2012, I’m far from a “rah-rah Lamborn” gal. In fact, I volunteered on one of his opponents campaigns back in 2006 and I still maintain he could do much more in one of the most secure Republican seat in the country to advance our conservative agenda. But he’s a man of character and integrity, and that means a lot. Unlike Lamborn's 2012 opponent, I actually like Bentley and wouldn't be terribly upset if he were to win, but I think Lamborn is likely to keep this seat until he wants to give it up, especially against someone who has run and lost against him twice before. The one thing I particularly appreciate about primaries in this district is it seems to make the good Congressman a lot more responsive and open with his constituents. I get more emails when he has a primary from his office in the few months of that election than I do the next year and a half (plus).
District 19 (Jefferson)This seat is only up for election in 2014 because of the recall effort. After victories in SDs 3 and 11, Evie Hudak chose to resign rather than be voted out. Because of that, her replacement Rachel Zenzinger is up for election this year. It is incredible to me that a former Democrat and two-time loser thinks he actually can run again and change his fortunes--especially in this district, where he refused to sign the petition to recall the woman who beat him just months before. Lang Sias is absolutely the wrong candidate in this district. Laura Woods was a champion of the recall. Although I'm not too keen on some of the tactics used on her behalf, Lang would be a dead man walking if he won the primary. Laura at least stands a fighting chance.
District 22 (Jefferson)This is a district where pragmatism comes into play. I like both Tony Sanchez and Mario Nicolais. Tony is a nice guy, and it's nice to see someone who was a Democrat turn around and have the fire to fight the good Tea Party fight. However. Mario is a native of Jefferson County, and a solid conservative, despite the hype. Yes, he supported civil unions--something I've given him guff about myself (I'm of the mind that we need government out of marriage altogether, not expanding a bad government program, but there is reasonable disagreement here and it isn't a deal breaker for me). Yes, he didn't fill out some surveys. Despite the claims from an organization I otherwise generally respect, Mario is solidly pro-gun and would fight hard for 2A rights, including a full and immediate repeal of the unconstitutional 2013 gun bills. Ultimately, between two decent men, Mario is the more electable candidate and would have my vote if I lived in his district.
District 15 (El Paso)I know Dave Williams. I don't know Gordon Klingenschmitt. Everything I've read or heard about Gordon concerns me. I haven't been following this primary very closely, but I'd trust Dave to do the right thing on fiscal issues.
District 20 (El Paso)Another four-way primary. I don't know enough about any of the candidates to make a solid recommendation here, but I can tell you who I don't care for from what I've seen: Miles Dewhurst (endorsed by nearly every OGRE in the state). That leaves Terri Carver (
District 22 (Jefferson)This is almost exactly what I had in 2012. Basically nothing has changed...
This is one of the easiest primaries to pick someone in – my good friend Justin Everett vs. Loren Bauman. Justin is a real man of character and principle (proven in his voting record the past two sessions) and will do a far better job than his predecessor in this office. Loren couldn’t be more of an “establishment puppet” candidate if he tried. Justin knows what it takes to win races and I can’t wait to see him win this one... again.
District 26 (Eagle, Routt)Dave Moloney and Chuck McConnell are vying to take on Diane Mitsch-Busch in November. This is a winnable seat with the right candidate and proper support. I don't know Dave, but what I do know about Chuck is enough that he would get my vote if I were in the district.
District 37 (Arapahoe)Michael Fields and Jack Tate are running to replace term-limited Spencer Swalm. Even though this is my (new) home county, I don't know enough about either to make a good recommendation. I've heard from people I trust that Jack Tate may be the better candidate, so I'll throw that out there for your consideration.
District 46 (Pueblo)Besides HD22, this is one of the easiest primaries to pick a good candidate in. I don't know much about Alex Lucero-Mugato, other than he is a perennial failed candidate, but I do know Brian Mater and he is a solid liberty candidate. Brian is the only chance we have to win this tough seat in Pueblo.
District 55 (Mesa)I don't know much about Steve Acquafresca (no campaign website that I can find) or Dan Thurlow, but this seems to say all I need to know about Steve (a Repubican who refuses to support TABOR--really?)--besides his average CUT score from 3 terms in the House (1991-1996) being 64%--neither speak well for him and I'd say Dan seems the better candidate.
District 63 (Weld)House District 63 has a primary... again. While Lori Saine has proven time and again she is a staunch conservative, someone too afraid to go before the assembly (actually literally running out so he couldn't be nominated) is primarying her. Bruce Sparrow (no website that I can find) is, frankly, nothing more than an establishment stooge.
CountywideThere are too many countywide races I don't know enough about to comment on, but below are three that I think are really important. Please add comments for other races I don't know about.
Adams County SheriffI won't say much about this race, other than this: Adams County is known for corruption. One of your candidates for Sheriff has the track record and potential to make El Paso County's Terry Maketa corruption mess look amateur. The other doesn't. I understand that there are issues with the current Sheriff, but choosing a womanizing Democrat (er... Republican of convenience) to "fix" that is unwise. I'd recommend a close look at Mike McIntosh over Mark Nicastle.
Jefferson County SheriffJefferson County has a real choice in their race. Jim Shires is a man of character and integrity with real ideas to fix the Sheriff's office instead of just raising taxes (after tax increases and/or creative--not in a good sense--ways to stretch the budget instead of doing more with what they had every year for the past 6 years). Jeff Shrader has no answer other than, "Me too!" to the current Sheriff's lackluster track record. And how can we ignore this? Jeff Shrader has offered nothing in speeches but his resume (impressive, perhaps, but certainly not a qualifier for Sheriff) and "Whatever Mink does, I will do," as the response to almost any question asked. In a race that will essentially be determined by the outcome of this primary with no Democrat in the race, JeffCo has the chance to choose wisely.
A quick aside, and in full disclosure, I've been working for Jim's campaign for several months. I never work for a candidate I don't believe in, and quire frankly, Jim has been the best candidate I've ever worked with. I only wish I lived in Jefferson County so I could vote for him.
Mesa County SheriffThis is a no brainer. OGRE extraordinaire Steve King vs. John Pennington. Steve's average Principles of Liberty score is a lackluster 49.35%, and his CUT score is 60.66% -- both failing grades. This website details Steve's ongoing entanglement with expanding the Federal Government's role in Colorado.
Look for updates after the Primary regarding the right Republicans running in the General Election!
6/21/2014: Please note the correction to HD20, amended after new information was brought to my attention.