Dick Wadhams is coming home.
Those five words are enough to strike terror in the hearts of Democrats across Colorado. Wadhams is credited with toppling former Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle in South Dakota two years ago, and before that jumped in to help reelect Sen. Conrad Burns in Montana. Before going national, Wadhams, who grew up in tiny Las Animas, delivered Sen. Wayne Allard and Gov. Bill Owens to Colorado in the 1990s. Wadhams is being coy about exactly what he plans to do once he gets back to Denver, but says he’ll be home by Christmas.
Colorado Confidential caught up with Wadhams as he was packing up boxes following the losing campaign – quite possibly his first – of Virginia Sen. George Allen, who lost last month to Democrat Jim Webb in one of the most hotly-contested races in the country.
What offers have you received?
I’m not talking about specifics. I’ve had conversations with a lot of people. I’m coming home for a while – Colorado’s always been home, even when I’ve been traipsing around South Dakota or Montana. My family is there, my kids, a parent, siblings.
Are you going to run for Republican Party Chairman?
I really don’t know what I’m going to do.
When are you going to know?
Are you going to run Trailhead?
What’s that? (laughs) I know what that is. I can eliminate that.
Are you going to run for public office?
No, I’ve never thought about running for office. I admire those who do.
Are you going to run Allard’s 2008 campaign?
I honestly don’t know what I’m going to do. I don’t know if Senator Allard is going to run again, He’s said he’ll announce his plans in January. I think the world of him.
Are you going to run Bill Owens’ campaign?
I think the world of him too. I think he’s the most successful governor Colorado’s ever had. I was honored to have run his ’98 campaign, and I’m having fond memories of that. I don’t know that he’s going to run for anything.
Are you going to make the Republicans get along again?
Yes, I’m the voice of unity (laughs).
Are you going to go to work for Bill Ritter?
Now that would be a hell of a scoop. I’m going to be part of the Ritter unity government (laughs).
Whose fault is it that Republicans lost in Colorado?
I don’t know that you can pin any person or thing. The nature of politics is that things go up, things go down. [Nationally] in 1994, the Republicans won, in 2006, the Democrats won. It’s the nature of politics.
What is it like to be Karl Rove’s heir apparent?
First of all I don’t subscribe to that. I really admire Karl Rove. Karl’s a very good person, and he’s brilliant. I’m proud to have known him for a long time, since back in the 70s. I don’t put him in the same breath [as me]. I don’t pretend to be the closest of friends; we’ve talked a lot over the last 10 years or so and I admire him greatly. He’s smart, he’s got the best sense of humor and is very attentive to people. He’s terribly well read; he’s a very astute student of history; he dreams history. That’s kind of unusual in this business, where many people are just thinking about the next campaign.
Cara DeGette is a longtime editor and columnist at the Colorado Springs Independent.