THE BLUEPRINT: How the Democrats Won Colorado

Authors: Adam Schrager and Rob Witwer
Review by Anita Christy

Were you paying attention in 2010? While the TEA Party-inspired conservative wave took out Democrats in state after state, Colorado retained its Democrat Senator Michael Bennett (D) over TEA Party-Conservative favorite Ken Buck. Did you wonder why “down-in-the-polls” Harry Reid managed to pull out and get re-elected in Nevada?

Did you notice that Fred Barnes, executive editor of conservative THE WEEKLY STANDARD, issued a “May Day” warning on July 21, 2008, about “the Colorado Model turning Red States Blue,” at about the same time that the TEA party was simmering?

In Colorado, Democrats comprised 31.2% of registered voters; Republicans 34.14%, and Independents 34.19%. Yet, in 2004 and 2006, the Dems took out the Republican Governor, turned both state houses blue, as well as a U.S. Senate seat, and two U.S. House seats.

Curious?

Look no further than THE BLUEPRINT. In 2003, the “Gang of Four” started their political transformation by focusing on local Colorado elections. Why did they start locally? By shaping state legislatures, you can change the composition of future Congresses – at a fraction of the cost.

“Marilyn Musgrove started on the school board,” stated Tim Gill, one of the Four. “She would have been much easier to nuke when she was on the school board, or even when she was in the legislature, where it’s easier and cheaper to take down Republicans.”

The "Colorado model" was so successful that it has been replicated in other states: A Republican state senator or representative is targeted for destruction, the national network of “helpers” is notifed, and money starts pouring in to the Democratic opponent.

It happened in Iowa, Nevada, Texas, and Wisconsin, and it's coming to your state soon.

Who is the Gang of Four? Gay self-made multi-millionnaires Tim Gill (QuarkXPress) and Jared Polis (BlueMountain.com and ProFlowers.com); self-made multi-millionaire Rutt Bridges (MicroMAX and ProMAX); and billionaire heiress Pat Stryker (Stryker Corp).

Tim Gill and Jared Polis came together over a social issue in Colorado, identifying vulnerable Republicans who had made statements standing up for “Marriage is between one man and one woman.” Rutt Bridges didn’t like the Republicans’ bickering and wanted Colorado to “move in a different direction.” Pat Stryker joined the group after spending $2.9 million to successfully defeat an initiative that would have required all public school classes (except foreign language) to be taught in English.

STRATEGY

The Gang of Four evolved into a larger group, The Roundtable, which laid out a “ground game” that used massive amounts of money, brilliant strategy, cutting edge technology, micro-targeted messaging, and paid shoe leather.

They took advantage of term limits and side-stepped campaign finance laws by creating a decentralized network of 527’s, 501(c)(3)’s, 501(c)(4)’s, progressive media outlets, and progressive watchdog groups, so that if one group got into trouble, there were plenty of others to fill the void.

They had only one objective: Get Democrats elected. Interpersonal politics didn’t matter. Nothing else mattered, except the “D.”

The Limousine Liberals needed help and found the following like-minded groups to offer plenty of it, including millions in financial assistance:

  • Environmental/Conservation Groups
  • Defenders of Wildlife
  • SEIU
  • AFL-CIO
  • Trial Lawyers Association
  • State Education Associations (teachers unions)
  • Gay Rights Activist Groups
  • NARAL (National Abortion Rights Action League)

They relentlessly searched documents, speeches, and newspaper articles for anything they could use to jack-hammer away at the Republicans negatives, demonizing them in television ads and mailers. They were not above outright lies. The destruction of Republican Ray Martinez, in his bid for Colorado State Senate, is a prime example.

They paid attention to Republican primaries, when Republicans publicly attacked each other (“Circular Firing Squad”). The Dems then used the Republican’s own negative campaign issues for their negative ads against the Republican winner, to prevail in the general election.

They labeled conservative principles “extremist” and referred to their own, no matter how extreme, as “civil,” “rational,” “reasonable” and “moderate.”

TECHNOLOGY

They gleaned voter information through a variety of sources, created walking lists for hired canvassers to go door to door armed with Palm Pilots to fill in the blanks, such as the voter’s “thoughts” about the upcoming election. Then the team uploaded each day’s data into a Master Voter File. Doing this allowed them to specifically target legislative districts for customized messages.

ORGANIZED LABOR AND SHOE LEATHER

Supplementing the paid canvassers was "the old-fashioned muscle of organized labor. The state’s AFL-CIO president Steve Adams brought labor into the coalition with the other interest groups…..and galvanized his members in a way Colorado had never seen. Adams told researchers at Wayne State University that 2,774 activists from 189 locals worked on the campaign, 1,193 of whom were new volunteers. They knocked on 75,356 doors, made 200,000 phone calls, sent out 341,357 pieces of mail, distributed 40,000 work-site flyers and helped raise more money than ever before.”

In a twist of irony, The Gang of Four executed this juggernaut using Conservative principles: They ran it like a business, and wouldn’t tolerate undisciplined spending. They stretched their dollars and eliminated duplicative efforts.

As of this writing, they have destroyed: Norma Anderson, John Andrews, Sharron Angle, Bob Beauprez, Bob Briggs, Ken Buck, Danny Carroll, Rob Fairbank, Pam Groeger, J. A. "Doc" Hines, Ramey Johnson, Keith King, Matt Knoedler, Doug Lamdorn, Sue Lowden, Ray Martinez, Scott McInnis, Marilyn Musgrove, Bill Owens, Ellen Roberts, Bob Schaffer, and Lola Spradley.

So, is it possible for principled Conservatives to stand up to these “hurricane force winds”? Of Course! There is no reason why we cannot use the same methods, the same strategy, our own much more resonant messaging, careful targeting, and shoe leather.

Plus, listen to this:

Ted Harvey (R) Colorado state senator: “Unfortunately, our ‘conservative’ leadership at both the national and state levels lost their way. Our Republicans in Washington grew government and spent more money. They pushed for amnesty for illegal immigrants and expanded the federal bureaucracy through programs like No Child Left Behind. Here in Colorado, Governor Owens pushed for tax increases and would not work with Republican legislators on issues like illegal immigration. All of these things disenfranchised and demoralized our base.”

Josh Penry (R) Colorado state Senate minority leader: “…It’s the message of Reagan. It’s a message that affirms the goodness of this country, the greatness of the American Dream. I mean, since when did rugged individualism become uncool? When did high taxes and a nanny state that micromanages your life come back into fashion? The answer is, they didn’t.”