Colorado Secretary Of State Scott Gessler On The Recalls In The Rocky Mountain State Tuesday Night
HH: I’ve got to cover another story as well. Even though it’s 9/11, even though it is the anniversary of Benghazi, an enormous political earthquake occurred in the United States yesterday in the state of Colorado where two individuals were recalled for their support of sweeping gun control legislation, two Democrats, two senior Democrats were recalled and replaced with Republicans. And the left doesn’t want to deal with this and what it means, and I’ve asked Scott Gessler, the Secretary of State for Colorado, and who is going to be the next governor of Colorado, and you can find out more about Scott at www.scottgessler.com to join me and talk about that yesterday. Scott Gessler, welcome, it’s great to talk to you.
SG: Well, thanks for having me on.
HH: Let’s review what happened yesterday. I think this blew away people’s expectations, and it’s unprecedented.
SG: Well, we had two recall elections. One was the state senate president in Colorado Springs. It is a slightly Democratic district, not a huge Democrat advantage, but a Democratic district, and then I think which was even more interesting, we had another recall election down a little bit south of there in Pueblo, which is an old steel town, sort of a lot of blue collar Reagan Democrats is sort of how I view a lot of them, but a very Democratic area, and a Democratic lawmaker there got recalled as well. And the people seeking the recall had a very low budget. So pretty astounding stuff, first legislative recalls in Colorado’s history, and we’ve had the recall for over a hundred years now.
HH: Now a Magellan Strategies poll shows that in a head to head with John Hickenlooper, you are only down by one point. Everyone in the country is assuming Hickenlooper is untouchable. Everyone is assuming Mark Udall is untouchable, that Colorado went blue, and it blew out the expectations for Obama, and the Romney campaign faltered. It doesn’t appear to be the case, Scott Gessler. It’s always been a purple state, and it may be shifting more towards the red side.
SG: Yeah, that’s what it’s beginning to look like. You know, we had a period where we were considered a very red state. But you have to remember we’re also the state that, you know, for example, elected Gary Hart a while back. So Colorado has a, it’s a little bit different. It’s got a strong libertarian streak to it, and lately, it’s been very Democratic. But it looks as though the Democrats have really overstepped, and the governor, John Hickenlooper, has been part and parcel of those sort of impulses. I mean, he signed these horrendously bad gun control laws, which I think even the supporters of the gun control laws recognize that it’s not going to reduce crime at all. And so as a result, I think people are beginning to look at the cumulative effect of one bad policy after another, and they don’t like the way Colorado is headed.
HH: Now I’ve got to say, I’m going to be supporting you, despite my deep reservations about your pedigree. You are a Yalie, you are a University of Michigan Law School grad, as am I, but you probably root for them, and you’re a Mildcat from Northwestern. You got your MBA from there. So you’ve kind of combined everything that’s bad in college football into one package.
SG: Well you know, I was actually going to talk to you about Michigan’s great victory over Notre Dame last weekend, and…
HH: Oh, brutal.
SG: And I’m telling you, I think Ohio State’s next.
HH: You keep wishing that. I hope your political prowess is better than your football prognostications. What year did you get out of Michigan Law, Scott?
SG: I graduated Class of ’90.
HH: Okay, so you’re seven years younger than I am, if not even more, because I took a couple of years off. And so you’re a Yalie. What year did you get out of Yale?
SG: I was Class of ’87, so…
HH: Okay, yeah, it’s ten years. So tell me about this race, because a lot of people think that the Republican Party in Colorado is so shattered, it can’t be put back together again, and on top of it, there’s this mail-in ballot fiasco. You’re the secretary of state. How in the world are we going to keep elections clean with mail-in ballots by the thousands?
SG: Well, it’s become tough, and it’s become tougher. And not only do we have mandatory mail-in ballots, but we also have same day registration at the same time. And this was a rewrite that the Democrats basically shoved through the legislature. I strongly opposed it. But it was just another ruthless display of political power. Little trivia, only one state in the country has had both same day registration and all mail ballots. That’s Oregon. They kept it until a religious cult took over one of their towns to do vote fraud. So they repealed same day voter registration. It makes it tougher, and so you have to put in a lot more administrative and human systems to try and mitigate that damage. But it shows that even in states with, frankly, very lax election integrity, and Wisconsin comes to mind. Wisconsin has a same day voter registration, long history of vote fraud, but Republicans were able to win there, and have won consistently over the last few years with Scott Walker and everything that’s happened. So it makes it harder. The Democrats will, I think, push on this stuff, but it’s still winnable.
HH: All right, now I want to go back to another problem in Colorado, and the money problem. And you know, you’ve got, for the benefit of the country, a bunch of billionaires on the left who basically fund everyone with a D behind their name, in extraordinary disproportion to the Republicans. Now that happened with Bloomberg throwing, what was the edge with the pro-gun control people versus the NRA? Was it ten to one on favor of defending the recall targets?
SG: I’ve heard numbers anywhere from seven to one, to nine to one.
HH: So it was a significant money advantage that Bloomberg pumped in for the Democrats.
SG: Yeah, big, big money advantage. By the time you take the public employee unions, sort of we call them the gang of four, has a bit of a Maoist connotation in Colorado politics, you’ve got, and then a lot of outside money. There was actually a map, sort of a map done of where Democrat contributions came from. Lots and lots from out of state, out of Colorado, but even that wasn’t enough to win the day.
HH: So does this suggest the power of money is on the decline in Colorado? Obviously, you’ve got to raise money, and small contributions, I’m sure, are welcome at www.scottgessler.com. But does it matter that, do you have to match Hickenlooper, who is a fundraising machine?
SG: You know, I’ve never thought you have to actually match them dollar for dollar. And I’m talking just in general terms. But you have to reach at least critical math to be able to get your message out, because I think the more money that is spent in politics, after a while, you lose your economies of scale. It has a declining return, as it were. If they’re going to outspend us seven to one versus ten to one, I mean, it’s still a big disparity. But if you’re able to limit that, and get your message out, and what really happened, I think, on these recalls, is there’s just been so much media coverage. Even sometimes if it were hostile, although the local papers down there were very much against the gun grabs that went on, but if you have a lot of media attention, and even if it’s skewed in one direction or another, people get the information, and they get to pay attention. And so what we had in the recall, in particular, was a really saturated media market on this stuff, where all that money had less of an impact. So I think sometimes it’s, I mean, it depends on the situation. Sometimes, the money disparity is a big deal, but the fact is in Colorado, at least, we’ve shown, we’ve demonstrated for better or worse that the Democrats, in fact, are the party of the wealthy.
HH: And it’s a year out, and a lot of people, I think that the gun debate is a proxy for the size of the state debate as well. Yes, there is a particular energy with gun rights advocates that was brought to bear on these recalls, but there’s also a streak of rebellion against how big this government has grown, how intrusive, how bullying it’s become of ordinary people. And that showed up. Is it going to burn itself out? Is it going to say there, we showed them, now no one will do it in the rest of the country? Or will it continue for the year and two months that you need, Scott Gessler, to topple John Hickenlooper?
SG: You know, I don’t think it’s going to burn out. I’ve been of the point of view that 2014 would be a wave year, but not as big as 2010. That’s been my past view. I think I’m beginning to change that. I think 2014 could be a bigger wave than 2010, and the reason I say that is the folks who really got mobilized in the wave year in 2010, they’ve not disappeared. And if anything, they’ve spent more time organizing, learning from mistakes, figuring out how to go forward. And then what you have on a general level is you get sort of Obamacare is kicking in, and people are beginning to realize just what a disaster that is all the way around, and then you have some real abuses with Obama’s big government. You have the National Security Administration, you know, I think one joke was that Obama said he would listen to all Americans, and in fact, he is listening to all Americans through the NSA. And you’ve got the IRS, which used its power as a taxing agency to target political opponents. So you’ve got this environment where people are really beginning to fundamentally understand the dangers of big government in a way that’s I think even stronger than 2010. In 2010, we had the intellectual arguments, sort of the vanguard people who understood that. But I think it’s really beginning to permeate society. So I think 2014 could actually be a bigger wave year than 2010.
HH: And also, it’s also the President’s incompetence, which is so enormous and on display every night. Let me close by, we’ve got a minute left, Scott Gessler, and again, www.scottgessler.com, there’s always been the buzz that Hickenlooper might not run again, that Ken Salazar will step into his place, because he wants to run for president. What do you make of that?
SG: You know, for a while, I thought John Hickenlooper would very likely run for president. I think he still might. I think there’s still a good chance. But I think his strategy is to try and win reelection, run for president, and get picked as the vice president nominee. So I think he’s going to stick it out, just like John Morse stuck it out, and Angela Giron, when those recalls went after them, I think they’re a little bit obstinate. I think they don’t really realize how poorly they’ve governed.
HH: I agree with you, Scott Gessler, look forward to many conversations in the year ahead. www.scottgessler.com, great secretary of state in the Rocky Mountain State, www.scottgessler.com.
End of interview.