Popular Politicians In Town (and President Bush)

President Bush is in Denver today to raise money for Republican congressional candidate Rick O’Donnell, who awaits the winner of a three-way Democratic primary in CD7 between Ed Perlmutter, Peggy Lamm and Herb Rubenstein. Surrounding Bush’s visit to the Cherry Hills home of Diane and Charlie Gallagher (near Hampden and University) are a number of planned demonstrations, some of them serious and others…not so much, but still fun to see.

Rep. Diana DeGette, whose stem cell funding bill was vetoed by Bush two days ago, will host a rally for stem cell research from 10:45 a.m. until Noon at the First Universalist Church of Denver. “She is just going there because the president has refused to meet with her on this issue, and to express her disappointment and outrage that he used his first and only veto on this potentially life-saving research,” DeGette spokesman Brandon MacGillis told the Rocky Mountain News on Thursday.  LINK

The political group “Be the Change USA” is hosting a tongue-in-cheek $1 hot dog protest dinner as a counterpoint to the $1,000-a-plate ticket for the Bush event. That event, from 11:00 a.m. until 12:30 p.m., is also at the First Universalist Church and will feature the three Democratic congressional candidates. Back here in Internet land, the progressive organization Progress Now is launching a cartoon parody  of the Bush visit.

Political Gravy has heard talk of a number of other potential protests or demonstrations, and will update this space as more information becomes available.

The Colorado media is still beating the drum about support for stem cell research after Bush’s Wednesday veto, with many of the state’s daily newspapers running a series of editorials all week. The Denver Post editorial board sounds off again on the issue and doesn’t mince words: “Congress will make another effort next year to expand embryonic stem- cell research, and we hope lawmakers will defeat the president if he vetoes a bill again in 2007.” LINK

Jon Sarche of the Associated Press says that national eyes will be on Colorado in the coming election to see if Democratic gains made in 2004 (in spite of Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry’s loss here) can continue. The Democratic Leadership Council is coming to Denver this weekend to discuss politics and stuff. Big names such as Sen. Hillary Clinton, Sen. Evan Bayh and Gov. Tom Vilsack are expected in town. LINK

Colorado Confidential will be covering the weekend’s DLC events, so look for more original reporting right here.

Stuart Steers of the Rocky Mountain News takes a look at how campaign finance laws enacted in Colorado in 2002 to “get big money out of politics” didn’t really work out so well. Gubernatorial candidates Bill Ritter and Bob Beauprez are setting fundraising records, but both are expected to be outspent by independent political committees that will also be involved in the race. LINK

We’d say we’re shocked at this next story, but that would just be a really bad pun. A new survey from J.D. Power & Associates show that Xcel Energy ranks at the bottom in customer service rankings out of a dozen electric utility companies in this part of the country. Xcel has had trouble with power outages all year, in winter and summer, and customers haven’t been pleased at rising rates even as the company increases profits. In February Xcel announced a 19 percent rate increase, then six weeks later announced, Oh, by the way, we had a 25 percent increase in profit last year. Crack Xcel spokesman Mark Stutz told the Rocky Mountain News: “It’s certainly not where we want to be in terms of their survey.” Well said, old boy. LINK

The Colorado Springs Gazette previews the Republican primary in House District 14 (Colorado Springs) between Kent Lambert and Colin Mullaney. Both men are hoping to replace term-limited Rep. Dave Schultheis, who last fall took a trip to the Mexico border (and brought his own gun) to…to…well, to grandstand. LINK

Charley Able of the Rocky Mountain News takes a look at the Republican primary shaping up for Jefferson County Treasurer. Current Treasurer Mark Paschall, who briefly flirted with challenging O’Donnell for congress in CD7, faces Clerk and Recorder Faye Griffin. Paschall may be the strangest elected official in Colorado that few people know about. He has a pathological hatred of the Social Security system and refused to provide his Social Security number after taking office until someone who actually understood finances and payroll told him that he couldn’t be paid without providing it. Good thing he’s Treasurer of one of the largest counties in the state.

Paschall also generated a lot of press a couple of years ago for trying to get the county to buy him a Cadillac Escalade as his county-provided vehicle (the county refused), and later drew headlines for handing out pamphlets in the Jefferson County courtroom telling potential jurors that the only law they needed to obey was “God’s law” and not the law of the court. Needless to say, that didn’t go over well.

The winner of the Republican primary takes on Democrat Bob Moser in November. LINK

Governor Bill Owens has only a few months left in his administration, and he’s keeping his hand out for free stuff. John C. Ensslin of the Rocky Mountain News reports that Owens took in about $48,000 in speaking fees, accommodations, airfares and sports tickets in the first six months of the year. One of his biggest speaking fees was for $24,000, when he spoke to the United Jewish Community of Ukraine back in January. LINK