9.12 Project Colorado chair on Tom Tancredo's ultimatum, Ken Buck's "dumbasses" comment
The major GOP races in Colorado don't want for drama this year -- or comedy, depending on your perspective. Tom Tancredo's high noon ultimatum to Scott McInnis and Dan Maes was followed by Ken Buck's "Weld County bullshit" statement and another comment in which he called Tea Party birthers "dumbasses." What's 9.12 Project Colorado Coalition chair Lu Busse got to say about these topics? Plenty.
First up: Tancredo, who says he'll announce his candidacy for governor on the American Constitution Party ticket after noon today if McInnis and Maes don't pledge to drop out of the race if they're trailing in the polls after winning the August 11 Republican primary.
Busse's organization, joined by numerous other 9.12 Project groups and a few Tea Party organizations, sent Tancredo an open letter yesterday evening (read it below). In it, they remind him that he'd encouraged them not to try to change the Republican Party from within, rather than starting a third party, in an open letter of his own back in December, as well as at a January gathering of 9.12 and Tea Party supporters. (A video from that meeting is on view below as well.) The latest letter's signatories urge Tancredo to reconsider his ultimatum.
"I really don't understand why he thinks going third party is going to solve problems," Busse elaborates. "We still have a primary, we still have the voters on each side who are going to nominees for the Republican and Democrat parties. So let's see what happens with the voters. Trust us to make an intelligent, informed decision, and don't truncate the process.
"Don't go around us and try to manipulate us -- and that goes for the GOP as well as Congressman Tancredo."
The mention of the GOP in Busse's last comment is in part a reference to state Senator Greg Brophy's suggestion that whoever wins the August primary, McInnis or Maes, withdraw from consideration immediately thereafter and leave it to a Republican Party committee to choose a candidate with a better shot at besting presumptive Democratic nominee John Hickenlooper in November. This plan would seem to fly in the face of 9.12 Project and Tea Party calls to open up the political process, rather than relying on party big shots to decide what's best for supporters -- and Busse and many of her colleagues are deeply troubled by it.
"We are in disagreement with that," she confirms. "Huge majorities are in disagreement about it. It is a bone of contention that we are concerned about, although, so far, it's just Greg Brophy and a couple of others who are saying it. The GOP hasn't officially endorsed it."
In the meantime, Busse isn't ready to declare a winner in the primary.
"I realize that the establishment and the media just keep reporting that Scott McInnis is going to win," she notes. "But that's not reflected in what we hear -- and not just from Liberty Movement individuals, but from everyday Republicans we're talking to. There's at least a chance that Dan Maes will win the Republican primary. And so far, the things they've tried to throw at him are not serious -- they're not things that would keep him from winning."
As Busse concedes, "that's a matter of debate." While McInnis has been accused of plagiarizing a Supreme Court Justice in his "Musings on Water," a series of articles for which he was paid $300,000 by the Hasan Family Foundation (an amount McInnis is pledging to return), Maes has been dogged by reports about hefty mileage reimbursement submissions and a significant fine for campaign-reporting errors, as well as suggestions from the Denver Post and other media outlets that his tax returns shows he's a lousy businessman.
This last argument strikes Busse as particularly suspect.
"They're trying to spin that he wasn't that successful, because he didn't make as much money as they think he should have gotten from his businesses," she says. "But it looks to us like he's a regular small businessman -- and that any of us could have had tax returns like that. And since we're wanting more people like us in office rather than career politicians, it doesn't play the way with the average voter as it does with the media and the establishment and the elite.
"Why should they get to decide what's enough executive experience? It comes back to our basic feeling, which is, what makes them think they're better than the rest of us on the elite side?"
According to Busse, Liberty Movement outfits that continue to stick by Maes have been dismissed as "zombies and thralls." But there's a better reason for their loyalty, she believes.
"When people hear him speak and he allows them to ask questions -- he doesn't just give a stump speech -- they get a sense that this man has his heart in the right place, and he really wants to do what's best for Colorado. So I encourage media and voters to actually go to one of the events and listen to the people asking him questions, and to ask their own questions, and listen to his answers. Because we've interacted with him for a long time, and we've gotten a feel for him. And I don't think he's a good enough actor that he could have totally snowed this many people."
As for Buck, the latest controversy swirling around him involves a recording of him speaking to a Democratic Party operative. In the clip obtained by the Denver Post, Buck says, "Will you tell those dumbasses at the Tea Party to stop asking questions about birth certificates while I'm on the camera?"
The Jane Norton campaign, which has already made hay with a clip highlighting Buck's "Weld County bullshit" remark, as well as a line about about deserving votes because he doesn't wear high heels, is jumping on the "dumbasses" aside; look below to see a comment in which Norton's spokeswoman calls Buck a "fraud" for pretending he's a Tea Party guy, and for criticizing mentor Tancredo during an event at which the latter lambasted President Barack Obama as the greatest threat to America today.
But Busse thinks all of this chatter is much ado about nothing.
"My first general statement is, why in the Senate race, especially on the Republican side, are we talking about high heels and a candidate using bad words in an unguarded moment, instead of the real, substantive issues? That just strikes me as silly."
Regarding the "dumbasses" remark, she says, "I don't recall Ken Buck claiming he was a Tea Partier. I've always heard him talking about being a grassroots candidate. And I think it's a little much to call him a fraud if he occasionally slips and criticizes someone, or uses a name in an unguarded moment.
"Most of us took the 'high heels' line as a joke. If you hear the laughter and what he was saying beforehand, it was obvious."
Not that the gag was a work of genius. "One of the things I've learned is that people running for office shouldn't try to be comedians," Busse concedes. But while a few of the smaller Liberty Movement groups are upset at Buck over his Tea Party/birthers line, she thinks other voters who don't like organizations like hers may gravitate to the candidate -- "so I think it'll all be a wash."
About "the Tancredo thing," as she refers to it, "who hasn't been frustrated at some of the things Congressman Tancredo has said over the years?" she wonders. "All of the different political ideologies can get a little frustrated with him. I guess you'd have to say we're a little frustrated with him at the moment, too."
Busse doesn't think Tancredo will drop his candidacy because of the aforementioned open letter. But if he did, "we'd view it as the Tom Tancredo we've come to know and respect -- more like him than what he's been saying these past few days, which seems totally out of character to many of us without a good explanation."
Page down to see the open letter, the video clip of Tancredo at the January gathering, and the Norton campaign release about Buck: