GETTING PERSONAL: True confessions of the Colorado candidates wanting to rule our lives


They’re probably not who you think they are.

We all have our own presumptions about politicians, and you know that most of those cliches are far from positive.

In the heat of the hottest, nastiest election, probably ever, it’s easy to overlook — especially on a more local level — that the herd of people vying for your votes so they can rule our world, are people.

Each year, Sentinel Colorado reporters dutifully ask all the apposite questions about taxes, crime and homelessness. But we also ask personal questions to give readers some insight as to who these candidates are when they’re not candidates, and to marvel at a few surprises and eccentricities.

Here are some highlights we’ve gleaned from this year’s survey of 2020 Election candidates.

Congressman Jason Crow, the affable Democrat running for re-election, can actually give himself a hand. His hidden talent?

“I am able to clap with one hand,” he said in his Sentinel survey. “This not only answers a philosophical question but is helpful when eating hot dogs at sporting events.”

He doesn’t say which hand, but all signs point to a left-hand talent for the guy that got appointed to help impeach the president.

His Republican challenger, the equally affable Steve House?

“I’m a good ping pong player.”

No doubt a consistent right-hand server.

As far as prospective careers, few of these politicians grew up wanting to be politicians. There are a lot of wannabe astronauts in the group who, as their critics would probably point out, ended up as space cadets.

Incumbent State Sen. Jeff Bridges, no, not that Jeff Bridges, is a talented accent imitator. Hard to tell when that could come in handy, but he has fooled many on the Senate floor by actually sounding like a moderate Republican from time to time.

If he wrote a memoir? He’d call it “The Other Jeff Bridges.” Yeah, that one.

Libertarian Michele Poague actually is a writer. She’s running to unseat Democrat Rhonda Fields in Senate District 29.

“I’m the author of several novels and there is a little bit of me in each one. Maybe if I write a memoir it would be, ‘The Road to Love: How I learned to forgive.’”

At least one of her novels hints at her biography.

A reviewer painting a picture of Poague’s latest sci-fi fantasy work, “The Broken Shade” said this:

“When she became a cocktail waitress at a men’s club in order to earn a few extra dollars to help in her home renovation, Freja O’Connell didn’t suspect this innocuous job would open the door to new realms. But strange encounters can evolve under the oddest of conditions, and The Broken Shade reflects this experience as Freja explores a strange new world and considers her revised place.”

Dystopian future table-dancing resulting in wallpaper inspirations?

Poague said in her Sentinel survey that growing up, she wanted to be an interior decorator.

Disappointingly, the one song she could listen to for all eternity is “Amazing Grace by anyone.”

I’m old and have been to a lot of funerals. Few can sing it.

Fields? She fancies herself a chef these days, whiling away the pandemic looking for just the right kitchen accoutrement. If she were thrust into a reality show that wouldn’t shame her family while they watched? “Beat Bobby Flay.”

Better hope that sauce doesn’t break.

While most candidates appear to have had it with metro area traffic, wishing their superpower was flying over traffic or that Verizon or someone would finally roll out the Star Trek transporter, Republican Suzanne Staiert, candidate for the open Senate District 27 seat, wishes she had a superpower few aspiring politicians would think about.

“To disappear.”

Hmmm. Unclear if that’s because of how tacky it’s become to be a fly on another politician’s hair instead of the wall and get a front-row seat to history, or anything. It could be she’s realized that, in a pandemic, there is no hiding from anyone or anything. Just as telling is that her all-time favorite song is “I Will Survive,” and the last book she read was, “Why We Can’t Sleep.”

Between bouts of insomnia and other life stresses, it turns out Staiert is a ringer.

“I’ve won a lot of hula hoop contests,” she said in her response. Gauging from the past few years, any kind of circus-like experience is certain to come in handy if she wins a seat in the next Legislature.

Her competitor, Chris Kolker, gives every sign he would read every word of every bill and listen to every hearing every day. Wild and crazy Kolker tells the Sentinel that his guilty pleasure during the pandemic is a “fountain Diet Coke.”

You rebel.

A former teacher and pilot, he always wanted to be a teacher and a pilot.

His favorite family fun?

“Playing bid euchre at family get-togethers,” he says.

For the 99% of the nation who has no idea what that is, you probably don’t want to. Think having to play bridge with rules made up by the Colorado Legislature.

The guy is a natural for the General Assembly. So sad.

Like me, you might have had your suspicions about Democrat State Senator candidate Janet Buckner.

She’s not just the overtly kind and gracious teacher’s wife she’s let on to be all these years. Yup, total showboat.

Her secret talent?

“I sing really well.”

And that ear-worm song she just loves, probably playing every time she gets in the car and definitely right before she gets out?

“We Are Family,” by Sister Sledge.

Uh, huh. The quintessential club song from the 80s that got everyone on their feet, back when clubs were clubs and Sister Sledge owned the world.

No guessing at what reality TV show she thinks she’d walk away from victorious.

“Dancing with the Stars.”

Of course not everyone can be as flamboyant as Buckner.

If you had to pick one local politician to get stuck with for months at the Capitol during the pandemic, it would almost certainly be Democrat Dafna Michaelson Jenet, running for re-election to her House District 30 seat.

Her coveted superpower?

“Eat as much ice cream as I want and not gain weight,” Jenet said.

Now that would be a super power. And not that lame DQ stuff, that she says is her “guilty pleasure,” which you know melts under some serious hot fudge or caramel, otherwise, there’s little guilt or pleasure. No, it has to be Ben and Jerry’s or Haagen Dazs. Salted caramel truffle in a 5-gallon scuttle.

The fun ends there. Her secret talent?

“I crochet.”

Another maverick lawmaker.

On the opposite side of that spectrum is Republican 18th Judicial District Attorney candidate John Kellner.

Total Star Wars geek. He grew up wanting to be Indiana Jones.

He’s that guy, too.

The upside of wearing a mask all the time during the pandemic?

“I can quietly sing along to music in the grocery store and no one knows it’s me.”

My King Soopers loves Brittany Spears and the BeeGees. We no longer have to ask in the cereal aisle, “who was that masked man, singing falsetto?”

He’s a total glutton for the stuff most of us dread each year. For most people, the favorite part of family holiday is when the kids go back to school and the inlaws go home. These are a few of his favorite things: “Hot chocolate, the merry go-round, with my wife and kids at Zoo Lights in December.”

Who is this guy? It gets worse. If he had a superpower?

“Unlimited access to Disneyland with my kids,” says Kellner, and no one else, ever.

Just as interesting, as a euphemism, is Kellner’s Democratic opponent, Amy Padden. The 18th District seat is open.

Her guilty pleasure?

“It would be from the Athenian on Iliff in Aurora. Love their Saganaki (flaming cheese), although not quite the same when you get it to go. That was the last place I ate before the stay at home order.”

I consider Greek food health food. Don’t they live forever there?

The most amazing thing about wearing a mask all the time for Padden is not having to “put lipstick on every time I leave the house.”

At least she doesn’t sing about it in the grocery store.

And her secret talent?

“I can run long distances (though not very fast).  I’ve completed many marathons (New York, Marine Corp, Chicago, and others).”

These are district attorney candidates, people. No whiskey? No secretly building mud prisons for crickets in the backyard?

Instead we get Disneyland fans and marathon runners.

So disappointed, and yet I’m mildly amused.

You can be, too. Discover your own pet peeves about the people who are going to run our world in a few months at Click on “2020 Voter Guide” on top and amaze or disappoint yourself thumbing through the catalogue of candidates who will probably surprise you.

Follow @EditorDavePerry on Facebook and Twitter or reach him at 303-750-7555 or [email protected]