Hush, Hush & On the QT: Club 20’s Political Universe-2

This is Part 2 of what was heard and seen in the hallways of a Club 20 fall meeting in Grand Junction last Saturday.

Nothing is more exciting to a Western Slope political junkie than the fall meeting of Club 20. It drew statewide politicians such as Congressman John Salazar, Gov. Bill Ritter, Secretary of State Mike Coffman, Colorado Department of Transportation head Russell George, Department of Natural Resources director Harris Sherman among others, plus lobbyists, energy industry leaders, state representatives and senators, and a cast of hundreds.

If you missed our first installment of gossip and photos of the “who’s who” from the Club 20 meeting, click here. And read more below…. Who was this man? Hush, Hush noticed that many Republicans were gravitating towards one individual in the hallway. No, they were gushing over this guy. This gentleman was dressed casually, seemed overly friendly and knew everyone by a first name basis. Come to find out, it was Sean Tonner of the political consulting firm Phase Line Strategies. Tonner was former Gov. Bill Owens’ former Deputy Chief of Staff and has worked on campaigns for candidates Pete Coors, Bush-Cheney, Dole for President, and of course, Bill Owens.

Was Tonner trolling for customers or were the customers hoping he’d choose them?

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketSeen in the halls talking to Republican La Plata County Commissioner Kellie Hotter (on the right) was Gov. Ritter’s transportation cabinet chief, Russell George with his wife, Neal (left).

The Georges still call Rifle home and it’s not unusual to see Russ out walking around his neighborhood on a Sunday afternoon. Neal keeps busy working at the local school district and one often runs into her at the local grocery store.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketThe main focus of this particular Club 20 fall meeting was education. Did CU Regent Tillie Bishop have a hand in the agenda?

Bishop is a former Republican Mesa County Commissioner and state senator from Mesa County. He was pleased that Club 20 has expanded its focus from transportation and water to other issues such as education and health care on the Western Slope.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketThese guys in the left photo were probably not talking about educational issues at the time Hush, Hush snapped this photo. Former Democratic HS54 candidate, Rich Alward (left) was deep in discussion with former Sen. Ron Teck (center) and current SD7 Sen. Josh Penry (right).

Atward, who is an ecologist for Aridlands Natural Resource Consulting, was appointed to the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission by Gov. Ritter. The COGCC will be meeting in Junction in October to discuss drilling in the Rulison atomic blast zone.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketAnother group probably in the midst of an oil and gas subject included Democrats Sen. Gail Schwartz (right), Montrose County Commissioner Bill Patterson (left) and Garfield County Assessor John Gorman (behind Patterson.) Schwartz is heading up the legislative Severance Tax Committee. Both Montrose and Garfield Counties are heavily impacted by oil and gas drilling activities.

Knowing Gorman, the discussion must have eventually centered on the Ad Valorem discounts on severance taxes paid by the energy companies. Sometimes the discounts wipe out all the tax levies due – a subject that will be brought up in a Severance Tax Committee meeting???

Patterson’s name is probably familiar. He handily survived a recall effort lead by Rep. Ray Rose (R-58).

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketHere was an unlikely pair: former Republican HD 61 Rep. Gregg Rippy, who in real life owns a road construction company (left) and Steve Smith, assistant regional director of The Wilderness Society (right). Actually, both are from Glenwood Springs and have known each other for a long time.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketSigh! All good things must come to an end, but Hush, Hush has already put the date of next year’s Club 20 fall meeting on her calendar. On election years, Club 20 features candidate debates. Who will be challenging Congressman John Salazar? Will it still be a Udall vs Schaffer US Senate race? How will the legislative campaigns be shaping up? We’ll keep you in the QT.

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Leslie Robinson

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