Someone call 911! The Rocky Mountain News appears to be experiencing a 3-, maybe 4-alarm fire after obtaining a memo in which a Democratic operative roughly outlines wanting to raise $1.9 million for a secret “foot on throat” ad campaign against Republican Senate candidate Bob Schaffer.For online readers who first read on Monday about the leaked document, involving a Democratic operative with the delicious and slightly indecent-sounding name of Dominic DelPapa, the neck-stomp story was interesting enough, as these things go.
But readers who actually still pick up their hard-copy newspapers off the front porch in the morning were in for one doozy of a visual on Tuesday morning. Instead of the usual photograph, of, say, a football player or a young woman whose murderer was just arrested, the entire front page of the tabloid was devoted to the promise of an exclusive so scandalous, so juicy, so breathtakingly sweeping and detailed – AND THE ROCKY HAD IT!!!.
The screaming headline, SECRET MEMO PROMISES BRUISING BATTLE FOR SENATE, was followed by a long sub-headline suggesting all sorts of shame and outrage anticipated in a “bruising” Senate battle between Schaffer and Democrat Mark Udall.
It had almost as much promise as a front page editorial calling the governor of the state of Colorado a “toady”.
Unfortunately, readers eager for More! More! were in for more all right — more than a bit of a disappointment when they flipped to the page 5 story, which provided few details about DelPapa’s actual plan to attack Schaffer, presumably on behalf of Udall. Will DelPapa merely put his foot to Schaffer’s throat? Or will he do a stomp-and-hold? Will he hire Douglas Bruce to do it for him?
The “confidential memo” didn’t say. Rather reporter Lynn Bartels focused on the fact that rich Democrats “plowed” more than $7 million into Democratic causes and campaigns in Colorado in 2006. For this year, Bartels reported, DelPapa wants a budget of a record-breaking $5.1 million to benefit the Udall campaign, including the aforementioned $1.9 million for the “foot on throat” ad campaign.
Bartels downplayed, considerably, the large amounts of money that Republicans have also poured into such 527 campaigns. The use of these secretive 527s has resulted in nastier and nastier campaign tactics by both parties in Colorado over the past several years. But Bartels did quote state Republican Party Chairman Dick Wadhams accusing DelPapa and rich Democrats of engaging in “character assassination.” In fact, Wadhams was quoted twice using that term — “character assassination.”
Unfortunately, Wadhams’ indignation wasn’t entirely clear — as in how and whose character was being assassinated in the DelPapa memo.
OK. Democrats apparently are, unfortunately, planning a nasty Senate campaign. As has already been noted, unfortunately, so too are the Republicans. (To wit, check out the strange yet vaguely amusing video sponsored by the Republican group Common Sense Issues, in which two actors dressed as Cuban news broadcasters “report” that Udall has won a “hero award” from Fidel Castro. (Colorado Confidential’s Jim Spencer wrote about that back in early December.)
Undoubtedly, voters would do well to gird for an onslaught of foot-on-neck character assassins in the coming months – from both sides of the political divide.
In the meantime, Rocky, not to worry. The firefighters are on their way …
Cara DeGette is a senior fellow at Colorado Confidential and a columnist and contributing editor at The Colorado Springs Independent. E-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org