Norton Goes Negative?
Very interesting developments in the GOP senate primary. Last week, Jane Norton announced that she was going to petition onto the primary ballot. For those–like me a couple of months ago–who are not aware of the intricacies of Colorado election law, a candidate can get on the primary ballot in one of two ways: either by capturing 30% or more of the delegate count at the appropriate assembly or by collecting enough signatures on petitions in all of Colorado’s 64 counties. Norton and Buck came out nearly even in the precinct caucus straw poll last month at about 41% each, although Buck was slightly ahead.
Which reminds me: there are a lot of petitions going around these days. Don’t accept the word of someone asking you to sign as to what it’s all about: read it yourself. Most are pretty short anyway.
Yesterday (April 21) Norton announced that State Sen Josh Penry, once himself a candidate for governor, is her new campaign manager. Josh had been working with the McInnis campaign–in what exact capacity I’m not sure, but he did stand in for McInnis at the El Paso County assembly.
Here’s where it gets interesting. On that same day, Penry made a dig at Buck’s campaign manager, Walt Klein, over Klein’s firm doing advertising work on behalf of Referendum C–the 2005 tax increase that Jane Norton supported. Penry wrote:
“Hi Walt. I’ve given Rich strict instructions not to respond to your e-mail until you return all the money you made off of buying ads to pass Ref. C – you know, since it was such a terrible idea.
New game Walt. See you on the trail.”
But don’t take my word for it: Lynne Bartels documented it at the Denver Post.
I have three problems with Penry at this point (although I was supportive of his run for governor):
- Josh, this isn’t a game and what you’re doing isn’t a “new game;” it’s the old one. Our country faces one of the most pivotal elections in its history. Get serious and debate issues.
- Political firms and ad agencies sometimes support one side exclusively and sometimes are good non-partisan capitalists who take work from all sides. And you know it.
- Klein’s firm earned their money for services performed–why should they return it? People are pointing out that you did not return campaign money you were given to run for governor: are you going to return that?
How do I know about this tiff? I was sent an essentially anonymous email at 6:52am this morning (Apr 22) from a mailbox called “Social Conservatives for Life” (firstname.lastname@example.org) with the subject “Buck campaign manager paid to pass Ref C” and pointing me to the Denver Post link. Perhaps they though I wouldn’t actually read the whole story. Well, I did but it was after Walt Klein had a chance to respond with the rest of the story.
Who are these Social Conservatives? I don’t know. I had one previous anti-Buck email from them on April 12. I responded asking who they were and how I got on their email list. No reply. No website. Reputable organizations who send mass mailings give you a link to unsubscribe; nothing like that here.
The message and the timing are awfully closely aligned with the Norton campaign. Is this a front group? Do establishment Republicans engage in the kind of behavior I expect from the far left? The Bennet and Romanov campaigns must be either rubbing their hands with glee at this infighting or are envious of it.
If true, this is distressing behavior coming from a candidate who I heard repeat more than once Reagan’s dictum about never saying anything negative about a fellow Republican. Perhaps she thinks it is acceptable if her campaign manager or some of her supporters say it instead.
I hope that the Social Conservatives for Life have nothing to do with Norton or any other real conservative movement: they are not liberty activists, that’s for certain. Neither their nor Penry’s tactics are going to win over any disaffected conservatives, centrist Democrats, independents or libertarians. It certainly doesn’t sit well with this state assembly delegate either.
Play nice, kids: this time it is a new game –we are holding you all to a higher standard.