Well, at least for the day….
The fall meeting of Club 20, an organization that claims to be “The Voice of the Western Slope” on political issues facing the region, provided attendees with many opportunities to chat with elected officials, corporate VIPS, environmental groups, lobbyists, media and other state movers and shakers in Grand Junction last Saturday.
Follow the trail of political gossip and opinion with Hush, Hush, who had a camera in hand….Congressman John Salazar (CD3) kicked off the Club 20 gathering at an early 8:10 a.m. It’s hard to think of the pine beetle epidemic when one is short the usual morning coffee intake, but Salazar was making a good stab at the subject. So, the growing audience of eventually several hundred was politely listening.
Then, out of the blue, Salazar said: “I am sick and tired of partisan politics!” with such force, it startled everyone out of their early morning stupor. As moderate Democrats, both Congressman John and brother Senator Ken Salazar seem to be in the “middle” of Washington political squabbles these days.
Fresh off his success in passing a referendum recognizing global warming in the Club 20 executive meeting the day before — over the objections of Club 20 chairman and Colorado Oil and Gas lobbyist, Kathy Hall — San Miguel Commissioner Art Goodtimes called the Salazars the “radical middle.”
“Instead of promoting philosophies from the Left and Right political spectrums, the radical middle pushes the political envelope from the center,” Goodtimes said. “An example is how ranchers and the environmental communities are working together on mitigating the impacts from oil and gas development.”
Goodtimes was a target of an e-mail witch hunt by Republican Study Committee of Colorado operative, Lucius O’Dell. With a price tag of nearly $3,000 to reproduce those e-mails, O’Dell has since backed off.
“I think it was a publicity stunt that backfired,” Goodtimes said. “But from now on we will be releasing all public e-mails about county operations.”
Gov. Bill Ritter was the Club 20 lunceon keynoted speaker. He looked pretty relaxed even though he was on his second leg of a tour of the Western Slope over the weekend. Considering the predominance of Republicans and energy representatives at the Club 20 meeting, the response to Ritter’s speech wasn’t exactly overwhelming.
However, two Democratic officials from the Roaring Fork Valley were impressed with Ritter’s content. “Are we hearing from a possible presidential candidate in 2016?” they asked.
Republican Secretary of State Mike Coffman stayed for most of the day at the Club 20 meeting and said he is holding steady on the showdown with the electronic voting machine companies on verification of the software for the upcoming fall elections.
Hush, Hush studied the dynamic duo from the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel in action — reporters Gary Harmon and Mike Saccone. They rounded up politicians slicker than a border collie at the Meeker Sheep Trials. Harmon broke the story about Delta Commissioner Wayne Wolf ready to give Doug Shaffer a challenge for U.S. Senate race. Saccone was able to corner SOS Coffman, who admitted to looking at the 6CD race.
(Hush, Hush peered over the shoulder of Sentinel reporter Mike Saccone as he talked to former State Representative turned lobbyist, Gayle Berry of Grand Junction.) The real biggie of the week for the pair was their breaking story and leading coverage of Democratic fundraiser Norman Hsu, who was arrested in Grand Junction after becoming ill on an Amtrak trip across the state.
If only Hush, Hush could copy the contact rolodexes on Harmon’s and Saccone’s desks…those names would be worth millions to an enterprising reporter.
As if Mesa County area politicians don’t get a chance to catch up on news, Club 20 President and former Mesa County Commissioner Kathy Hall (left), Rep. Steve King (R-54) and Grand Junction City Councilwoman, Teresa Coons (right) appeared to be in deep conversation.
Attention! Here’s a person to watch: Garfield County Republican and long time moderate political activist, Phil Vaughan. Decisions, decisions. He says he’s been approached to run for Senate 8, District 57 and Garfield County commissioner in 2008.
“I won’t decide what race I’ll enter until after the first of the year,” Vaughan said.
“What?! Won’t that be too late?” we asked.
Vaughan shook his head. “I think people hate this early campaigning.”
Speaking of northwest Colorado legislative seats, rumors were untrue about Jean White’s possible 57th run at the same time her husband, Rep. Al White, is seeking the SD 8 race. Both districts have overlapping boundaries.
She also reiterated that their main residence is in Hayden although it is handy to have a home in Denver, too, since Al spends a lot of time at the Capitol.
(Photo of Jean and Rep. Al White with former Rep. Gregg Rippy (R-61) on the left.)
More political insider news from the Club 20 meeting to come. Stay tuned!