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The Unaffiliated.

All politics, no agenda.

Tuesday, August 28, 2018
By John Frank with Sandra Fish and Jesse Paul
The Colorado Sun

Days after he won the Democratic nomination for governor, Jared Polis met with former Republican candidate Cynthia Coffman.

The conversation didn't go unnoticed -- word trickled back to Republican Walker Stapleton's campaign -- and it raises speculation about whether Coffman would endorse Polis, instead of her party's nominee.

In an interview Tuesday with The Colorado Sun, Polis for the first time confirmed the early July meeting. He downplayed the significance, saying they didn't discuss an endorsement or the lieutenant governor's post. But at the same time, he reaffirmed their close relationship and suggested he would welcome her into his administration if she was interested.

  • "Cynthia and I have been friends for more than a decade so I always seek her counsel and advice," Polis said. "She's been a great attorney general."

The meeting contrasts with Coffman's relationship with Stapleton. The two apparently haven't spoken in recent months. And when CBS4's Shaun Boyd asked Stapleton in a recent interview if Coffman was supporting his campaign, he replied: "I hope so."

The bad blood between Coffman and Stapleton traces to the GOP assembly, where Coffman blasted Stapleton for his driving under the influence conviction, and Stapleton's allies waged a smear campaign that helped block her from the primary ballot.

The lingering issues belie the unity in the Republican Party after the primary that Stapleton often celebrates. Coffman declined to discuss the Polis meeting, but she said through a spokeswoman that she was not invited to the party's unity tour. (A state party spokesman said only primary candidates were invited -- not those from the assembly.)

Polis suggested he talks to Coffman often. He served in Congress at the same time as Coffman's former husband, Republican U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman. As spouses, Cynthia Coffman and Polis' husband, Marlon Reis, bonded at congressional events.

One topic Polis and Coffman discussed at their meeting was opioids. He credited her work on the issue, and if elected, Polis said he would continue Coffman's programs once she leaves office.

"Cynthia has been a good leader for our state, and I really value her counsel and I am making sure we don't drop any balls in the transition," he said.

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WATCH: Denver7’s Politics Unplugged show on Sunday featured The Colorado Sun. But if you read The Unaffiliated, then you had a sneak peak at all the analysis before it even aired. 




“I categorically condemn hate organizations and they will have no place in my administration as governor.”

-- Walker Stapleton, the Republican nominee for governor, responding to questions about his great-grandfather's history in the KKK in a CBS4 interview that will air later this week. (Read more below.)

BULLETIN -- FIRST HERE: The political arm of the Koch political network, Americans for Prosperity, will endorse Republican Walker Stapleton in the governor's race this week. (More details below.)



Shaun Boyd at CBS4 will air a sit-down interview with Republican Walker Stapleton Tuesday evening in which he talks about his great-grandfather's legacy with the KKK and his ties to lightning rod former U.S. Rep. Tom Tancredo.

Tancredo briefly entered the governor's race because he was upset about the treatment of a group that promoted white nationalist authors, but later endorsed Stapleton. The interview represents the candidate's most extensive remarks yet on the topic, which surfaced weeks ago with little comment from the campaign.

One big moment in the interview comes when Stapleton denies he ever talked about Tancredo as member of his administration: "I never did. That is not true. That is laughable," Stapleton says, adding Tancredo "will have no role in my administration."

But, in fact, he did.

CUE THE FLASHBACK: A radio show host asked Stapleton earlier this year about considering Tancredo for cabinet or lieutenant governor. Stapleton replied in part:

  • "I'd love to utilize him because Tom has been invaluable on law and order issues."
  • "... That's why I'm proud to have Tom's support and I will absolutely utilize his expertise, hopefully I'll be in a position to."
  • A possible lieutenant governor candidate: "We'll see. Everybody is a candidate right now."

Watch for the segment on CBS4 for more.



Americans for Prosperity, the political arm of the Koch political network, will endorse Walker Stapleton in the governor's race this week along with two state Senate candidates, The Colorado Sun has learned.

The organization, backed by The Seminar Network, an effort led by conservative billionaire Charles Koch, is preparing to spend significant sums to elect Stapleton and keep the state Senate in Republican hands through an independent expenditure committee.

The Stapleton endorsement, which is expected later this week, comes after The Sun broke the news in July that the Koch network was likely to back him.

AFP will focus most of its money and time at the legislative level to help Republican Sen. Tim Neville in District 16 and to elect Christine Jensen in the open District 20 race, a seat now held by outgoing independent Sen. Cheri Jahn.



The Congressional Leadership Fund: The group ran a blistering TV ad that calls Democrat Jason Crow "another all-talk, no-action politician," and attacks him for missing a third of meetings of the state's Board of Veterans Affairs, of which he was a member for five years. The 30-second spot accuses him of turning "his back on Colorado's veterans."

Crow and his campaign have vehemently pushed back against the ad as being misleading, with Crow saying he was "disgusted" by the group linked to House Speaker Paul Ryan. (Ryan visited Colorado last week for a fundraiser, The Sun has learned.)

  • Crow, a former Army Ranger who deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan, had this to say about the veterans board to the Colorado Sun: "That was a volunteer community board and it travels around the state. I don't look at the specific numbers of what specific meetings people attended and did not. I know everyone did the best they could to attend as many meetings as they could to fight for veterans in this community. Obviously I was a young parent the time and my service was applauded and members of the board stand with me."
A handful of veterans and Jason Crow supporters called for the Congressional Leadership Fund to take down their attack ad at a rally outside of Rep. Mike Coffman’s Aurora office on Monday. (Jesse Paul, The Colorado Sun)

The Congressional Leadership Fund has already dumped more than $1.5 million into television ads in Colorado this cycle.

U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman: The incumbent Republican's campaign released two positive ads touting his work on behalf of the Ethiopian community, bipartisanship and pushback against his own party. Those are part of a $1.4 million ad buy placed by the campaign that began running on Aug. 22 and goes through Election Day, a campaign spokesman says.

Crow: The Crow campaign unveiled a new ad Tuesday, touting his military service and upbringing in a 30-second spot. The Democrat is working to match Coffman's combat record and leadership, and the new spot features Crow saying, "9/11 happened and I couldn't ask people that I knew to do my fighting for me."



A nonprofit with large donors from the oil and gas industry is spending big on cable TV ads to help Republicans in four state Senate contests.

The Colorado Economic Leadership Fund is spending $621,370 on ads, according to cable TV contracts filed last week with the Federal Communications Commission. The ads began airing Aug. 22 and are set to continue through Sept. 14. The spending so far includes:

  • $250,000 on ads supporting Sen. Beth Martinez Humenik, who faces Democratic state Rep. Faith Winter in Adams County.
  • $150,000 to support Republican Christine Jensen in her contest against state Rep. Jessie Danielson for the open Jefferson County Senate District 20 seat.
  • $146,880 to support Olen Lund in his challenge to Democratic Sen. Kerry Donovan in Senate District 5, which includes parts of Eagle, Pitkin, Gunnison, Delta, Lake, Chaffee and Hinsdale counties.
  • $74,490 to support GOP Sen. Tim Neville in his contest against challenger Democrat Tammy Story in Jefferson County.

Colorado Economic Leadership Fund is a 501(c)(4) or social welfare nonprofit that doesn't have to make its donors public during the election. But prior records show that Anadarko Petroleum reported donating $510,000 and Noble Energy reported giving $25,000 in 2016. The group won't report 2018 information until next year.

The director is listed as Mike Kopp, a former Republican state senator who is president and CEO of business group Colorado Concern, the group affiliated with the nonprofit.



Colorado candidates face a fundraising test this week as the Wednesday deadline approaches on the pre-Labor Day report and Republican Walker Stapleton is probably the candidate feeling the heat the most. He ended the gubernatorial primary period with just $302,000 cash in the bank, compared to $1.3 million for Democrat Jared Polis. In a recent interview, Stapleton dismissed the suggestion and offered a hint at what's to come.

"I think our fundraising numbers are strong," Stapleton told The Colorado Sun. "There is going to be multiple elements of cavalry when it comes to support that we are going to rely on when it comes to this election."

The cavalry -- The Sun discovered -- includes a federal joint fundraising committee that allows big donors another way to funnel their money to the Stapleton campaign and the Colorado Republican Party.

  • The Stapleton Victory Fund, created in early July, shows it raised about $346,000 in the first month.
  • Big donors include Stapleton's mother, Dorothy Stapleton; Denver developer Walker Koelbel; John Freyer, of Land Title Guarantee, and his wife Virginia; all at $14,285.
  • Another 19 donors gave between $12,500 and $14,000 each. Most of the donations occurred on July 14.

Stapleton for Colorado received $14,165 from the group, while nearly $297,000 went to five committees or PACs affiliated with the Colorado Republican Party. Political parties may donate up to $615,075 to a candidate for governor.

The state Democratic Party announced a similar effort for Polis called the Fearless Project. The Democrats' effort will also help state House and Senate committees.

ADDENDUM: More than a month after the Republican Governors Association began taking shots at Polis, Democratic Governors Association started to strike back Tuesday with a TV ad bashing Walker Stapleton for failing to attend nearly half of PERA board meetings.



  • Robert Blaha, the co-chairman of Donald Trump's campaign in Colorado, wrote an op-ed published in The Washington Examiner in which he argues Trump needs to appoint more of his allies to "drain the swamp." (Washington Examiner)
  • Republican U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman, who is carefully dancing around his connections to the broader GOP and President Donald Trump, made comments about immigration at a recent fundraiser that are raising eyebrows. (Washington Post)
  • Bank of the West's political move to divest from coal companies -- which we mentioned in a prior newsletter -- is facing blowback. (CPR)
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