On the one hand, you have Jared Polis, an openly gay, socially progressive multimillionaire as the incumbent Democrat in Colorado’s Second Congressional District.
On the other hand, you have two very different Republicans running for the chance to run against Polis. You have current Colorado State Senator Kevin Lundberg, an arch social conservative who has been among the legislature’s leaders in fighting against civil unions legislation. (See video of him below quoting the Bible in this week’s civil unions debate.)
Eric Weissmann, the other Republican vying for the chance to face off against Polis, has a history of failing to pay his taxes on time.
Records on file with Boulder County show that between 1983 and 1995, four tax liens were placed against residential property owned by Weissmann. The last and biggest lien — for just over $75,000 — was filed in February 1995 and released in May 1997.
When contacted by phone, Weissmann acknowledged the tax liens.
“Like many people who have started and built businesses, it was not without some bumps in the road to success,” he said.
He said that experience gives him “some empathy” for people who are struggling economically. Weissmann now works in the business of private equity investing and owns multiple homes including a primary residence in the Boulder area that public records show to be worth in the range of $2 million.
Weissmann, who has never run for office before, says he is not the social conservative that Lundberg is.
“Sometimes he (Lundberg) has taken strong positions on social issues at the expense of dealing with the economic issues that are so important in Colorado right now.”
In sharp contrast to Lundberg, Weissman said he is in favor of civil unions.
“I would have voted for that bill. I am a liberty oriented Republican. I want to get the government out of people’s personal decisions.”
Lundberg did not return a call seeking comment.
In addition to his past tax problems, Weissman, 48, has a driving while impaired citation on his record. He said the event happened when he was about 20 years old.
“It was a youthful mistake,” he says now.
Weissmann almost didn’t make it on the ballot. Earlier this week he won a legal battle to appear on the June 26 Republican primary ballot along with Lundberg.
The case, decided by Judge Robert S. Hyatt in Denver District Court, arose when Colorado Secretary of State Scott Gessler ruled that Weissmann – who petitioned onto the ballot – had not turned in enough valid signatures to qualify.
Weissmann argued that he had plenty of valid signatures, but that some had been disqualified because of clerical errors made by his campaign. Judge Hyatt agreed.
The case was made more interesting by the fact that the Colorado Democratic Party filed a motion to intervene.
“Our interest was just to make sure the rules are applied equally to everyone who runs for office,” Democratic Party spokesperson Matt Inzeo said.
Inzeo said Weissmann had chosen not to follow the rules for how to collect and handle signatures, and shouldn’t be on the ballot.
Asked if he was concerned that Weissmann might have a chance against incumbent Polis, Inzeo laughed and said he wasn’t.
“We just want the rules to be followed,” Inzeo said.
“We now see a pattern emerging,” Inzeo said, commenting also on Weissmann’s tax issues. “He doesn’t think he has to play by the same rules as everyone else, whether in gathering signatures to be on the ballot or in paying his taxes.”
Weissmann issued a written statement on his court victory:
“We are thrilled with today’s ruling by the Court placing me on the primary ballot, and look forward to spirited primary and general elections.
“Jared Polis and his Democratic Party minions tried to thwart the wishes of the 1,400 Republicans who want the opportunity to vote for me. This desperate ploy has clearly backfired,” Weissmann said.
Considering Weissmann’s own past troubles with taxes, it may be interesting to note that tax reform is one of the primary issues he addresses on his campaign website.
“We need fundamental tax reform that lowers and flattens tax rates and eliminates tax preferences that skew economic decision-making and tilt our tax system in favor of those who can afford expensive lawyers and accountants. A serious, pragmatic approach to reforming taxation can garner bipartisan support, and would unleash our private sector to create employment again,” he writes on the site.
Immediately below is a screenshot of one the liens filed against Weissmann. Below that is video of Sen. Lundberg speaking out against civil unions this week on the floor of the Senate.
(Image of tax lien from BoulderCounty.org)