PERRY: AG Coffman, Tancredo scorched by captivating political GOP House fire


If anything rings true about Colorado’s wild political claims these days, it’s that the state Republican Party does indeed have a really big tent. It must to make room for the Cirque du Désolé opening in Colorado’s big top this week.

The wild political fracas started yesterday morning with Denver Post political news dean Lynn Bartels, as usual, starting what looked to be yet just another story about how the Colorado Republican Party has a penchant for deadly mass duels and then eating its own.

Surprise. There was ho-hum news that GOP state Attorney General Cynthia Coffman —  who’s sometimes from Aurora and sometimes from somewhere else and gets her name and marital status from Congressman Mike Coffman, also pretty much from Aurora  — is now a political big brand and was just letting everyone know that GOP chairman Steve House would, ahem, be leaving his post.

Coffman, who just won her first elected office last November, is being talked as a contender to take on incumbent Democratic Sen. Michael Bennett in 2016. Reportedly, she and a short list won an internal political battle to get House his job against former chairman Ryan Call earlier this year. Yawn.

A few hours later, the political twitterverse lit up after House did an about face and told Bartels and AP political guru Ivan Moreno that he was not only forced out by Coffman and former Colorado GOP heavy hitter Tom  “Nuke ‘Em” Tancredo, but that they were blackmailing him by saying they’ll talk about alleged marital affairs, which he denies.

“No one should be bullied out of running for office, or serving as a leader in our Party,” Chairman Steve House said in a statement.

Lies, all lies, Coffman told the press Tuesday night. Just another instance of righty tighties putting on the usual three-ring act to get what they want. Nothing to see here, folks, move along.

Seriously? Cynthia Coffman? The Colorado GOP Godmother, along with ring-leader Thomas The Tancredo?

That’s a story, and one I never suspected. When Coffman came through here last fall asking for votes to get the AG job, I marveled at how level-headed and likable she was for someone asking for a job that everyone would soon hate her for. It’s a no-win crap hole in that part of state government. She’s no John Suthers.

That whole mess is so inside political manure that it’s hard to pay attention. House didn’t hire outgoing state  legislator Sen. Ted Harvey, darling of tighty righties in the party, to run party operations and, oh, I see you’re drifting off.

The thing that makes this so compelling is that Coffman’s straight-shooter demeanor, which you can’t help but like, is morphing into a shot straight through the heart of her political career. Besides the freaking awesome headlines — “Coffman and Tancredo bring down the House in GOP political spectacle,” or, “Coffman badly burned by GOP House fire” — the story could get legs if House persists in saying that Coffman and Tancredo tried to extort him out of his job. Blackmail doesn’t look good on the résumé, especially out here.

The whole thing could make the bizarre Colorado Springs GOP state Rep. Gordon Klingenschmitt look like a good Republican marketing plan for 2016.

So now it’s time for every political reporter’s favorite game: Who’s the liar? It can only come to that. Coffman threw out the burning pants card first last night. So it’s up to the other side to play their hand. If it’s a full House, I can’t wait to see what kind of aces Coffman is sure to have. So much intrigue. So many metaphors.


AP Ivan Moreno’s story from last night:

The Colorado Republican Party chairman on Tuesday accused state Attorney General Cynthia Coffman and former U.S. Rep. Tom Tancredo of trying to force him from his position and warning he may face a lawsuit and false allegations of infidelity if he refused to leave.

“No one should be bullied out of running for office, or serving as a leader in our Party,” Chairman Steve House said in a statement.

Coffman called the allegations “rumors and lies.”

“This matter belongs in a confidential session with the party’s executive committee, and that is where it is headed,” she said in a statement. “It is a personnel matter and I am honoring the prescribed process. I am not going to comment on all the rumors and lies.”

Coffman would not comment further. Tancredo did not immediately respond to a phone call seeking comment.

Coffman, a Republican, was one of House’s biggest supporters in his election to state party chair in March when he defeated incumbent party Chairman Ryan Call.

House said he was pressured to resign Monday for not hiring former state Sen. Ted Harvey as executive director of the party. House was told of threats against him, he said, during what he thought was a strategy meeting with Coffman. Tancredo and a county party official were there, too, House said.

Call’s defeat was surprising because Republicans racked up victories around the state, including the election of U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner in what was one of the most competitive races in the country. Gardner defeated incumbent Democratic Sen. Mark Udall.

Republicans also took control of the state Senate for the first time in 10 years. But some establishment Republicans were critical of Call, who they saw as spending too much time on national matters instead of local races.

The resignation rumors swirling around House suggest continued infighting within the state party ahead of critical 2016 elections. Colorado is viewed as an important swing state in the presidential race, and Republicans also want to unseat Democratic U.S. Michael Bennet.

Before Call, state party Chairman Dick Wadhams did not seek re-election in 2011 after two terms because of disagreements with tea party groups.

House said he remained committed to helping his party through 2016.

“Unfortunately, there are some who are more concerned with their own personal gain than doing what is best for our Party as a whole,” House said. “These are the same exact people who fought against past chairmen, and they are going to try to take out the next chair as well.”

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7 years ago

Why the blast against Coffmans and Tancredo. Steve House is making the noise, just as Wadhims did, and it was time for him to go then, too. Steve may have been elected in April, but pegging himself to National GOP and hiring Executive Director without consulting the others in leadership roles, is suicide to being able to do the job. And at $85,000. For what. Didn’t Howard Dean (D) get in trouble with similar tactics? Just asking. I cast no aspersions, but knowing Ted Harvey, Mike Coffman, Cynthia Coffman, and Tom Tancredo for many years, I question anyone who would want to pick a fight with them. They are absolutely right. Executive board should take this up quick time, so GOP can get on with moving Sen. Bennet to his next job, and get Colorado back on track. Last two governors did not live up standards set by prior one, and the coordination with grass roots has suffered tremendously with the infighting. We had successful election (almost) in 2014, but we still have some moves to make.
And I am tired of having carpet baggers come out to Aurora to run for office, to keep downtown Denver in the lead. We have whole state that needs representation too.

7 years ago

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