Grassroots leader wants Tom Tancredo, Dan Maes to strategize about beating Hickenlooper
No doubt about it: Tea Party and 9.12 Project groups played a huge part in last night's primary wins by Ken Buck and Dan Maes. But as 9.12 Project Colorado Coalition chair Lu Busse basks in victory, she envisions a scenario in which Maes and Tom Tancredo could work together to defeat John Hickenlooper.
"You would think people could have a civil conversation about how that could work," Busse says. "Because I can't imagine anyone on the conservative side of the aisle wanting our governor to be Mayor Hickenlooper."
Not every Liberty Movement favorite won during last night's primaries. For instance, Busse points out that John Boehler fell to Ellen Roberts in the Durango-area 6th District state senate contest. But in the much-watched governor and senate races, Tea Party/9.12 Project faves Buck and Maes bested establishment candidates Jane Norton and Scott McInnis, respectively. And Busse knows that her fellow believers played a big part in that.
"There was a lot of grassroots involvement, and it's beyond the Tea Party and 9.12 Project and other groups that bubbled up last January and February," she says. "It's the newly awakened voters, especially here in Colorado, who are demanding to know more about their candidates and who they are. And on the conservative side of the aisle, they seem to have had a greater impact on the decisions about the major candidates. It was nice to see that people's efforts, and people's volunteerism, trumped the money in some big races."
Not that Republican Party long-timers have completely given up on the notion that cash can cure all. Right now, GOP types aghast at the prospect of Dan Maes as the party's guv nominee are looking for an alternative, with Re/Max moneybags Dave Liniger's name currently making the rounds. But Busse believes nothing Liniger does would convince Maes to drop out.
"How is he saying he'll do that? Offer him a job?" she asks with a laugh. "Isn't that like the pay-not-to-play scandal, as I call it?" -- a reference to reports that the White House floated administration gigs past Andrew Romanoff in the hope that he might be convinced not to take on Michael Bennet in the Democratic Senate race (which Bennet won).
More seriously, Busse notes, "When I saw Mr. Maes last night, I didn't think anybody would be talking him out of the race soon. In fact, he called on Tom Tancredo to get out of the race and help unite conservatives to beat Mayor Hickenlooper."
As for potential machinations to choose another Republican candidate for governor, Busse says, "You would think that after all the things that have happened, especially in the governor's race, that the establishment, the political elite class, especially on the Republican side, would have some idea that the smoke-filled backroom deals aren't working well. People keep going around them, telling them this isn't the way we're going to do these things anymore.
"Look at the caucus. They were totally surprised when Dan got 40 percent of the vote -- and then he got sixteen or seventeen more votes than Scott McInnis at the state assembly. They were still touting that McInnis was going to win last night, and Dan won by over 5,000 votes. Every time they put in obstacle in front of Dan, he went around it -- and it wasn't just Dan getting around it. It was the people, the volunteers getting around those obstacles."
Indeed, Busse takes most pride in the massive turnout for the primaries. "We've gotten our neighbors, our friends, our family members awakened to the system, and from a 9.12 Project point of view, we feel that an informed, activated electorate will make all the difference. If you don't like the candidates, or you don't like who's in office, you don't have anybody to blame but yourself, for not being involved in the system. And we believe that with the correct information, voters can make good choices."
Busse would like Maes and Tom Tancredo to make good choices as well.