If you are a statewide candidate and you want to show real concern in Western Slope people, issues, opinions and attitudes, you usually make an extra effort to attend Club 20’s spring and fall meetings – unless, it seems, you are Republican U.S. Senate candidate Bob Schaffer.As the “Voice of Western Slope,” Club 20 organizes two major spring and fall events a year to bring together hundreds of local citizens, industry leaders, mayors, city council members, legislators, U.S. senators, congressmen, State Department directors and the governor to discuss and debate issues facing the state and in particular, western Colorado.
At Saturday’s Club 20 spring meeting in Grand Junction, discussions and presentations featured major problems facing the Western Slope right now, including transportation woes and Interstate 70 toll roads, the housing crunch crisis and proposed changes in oil and gas legislation. A full house of VIPs attended this event: Gov. Bill Ritter; both of Colorado’s U.S. senators, Wayne Allard and Ken Salazar; Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Rep. Mark Udall; Rep. Diana DeGette; State Sen. Josh Penry; State Rep. Al White; Colorado Division of Transportation chief Russell George; Department of Natural Resources Director Harris Sherman; numerous county commissioners, mayors and councilmen and councilwomen; oil and gas company chiefs; and many others – but no Bob Schaffer.
Dick Wadhams, Schaffer’s campaign manager and the Republican State Party chair, told the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel the former Fort Collins congressman had “other commitments.”
With Club 20 events scheduled months in advance, one would have thought there was plenty of time for Schaffer’s campaign manager to rearrange the Senate hopeful’s schedule. What “other commitments” were so important that a U.S. Senate candidate would pass on the opportunity to exchange ideas with Western Slope lawmakers? What statewide candidate would want to miss talking to locals about their concerns and making speeches about one’s political policies? And what serious politician would ignore a chance to be interviewed by the local media?
To be fair, Schaffer will be on the Western Slope soon. He’s meeting up with Vice President Dick Cheney on Friday for a fund-raiser in Grand Junction. Perhaps he’ll express his interest in Western Slope concerns at this event — but for those who want to listen, there will be special prerequisites: You must have a special invitation from a Republican official; you promise to donate up to $5,000 for Schaffer’s campaign; and you must pass a security check.