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Two Comments

First, you seem to forget that before Campbell dropped out of the race no one thought the Dems had a chance of winning the seat. This made fundraising difficult for Miles. I agree that he didn't take fundraising seriously enough, but to expect him to have $250,000 in the bank in March for a seat that no one in the party thought anyone could win is unreasonable.

Second, you said yourself that you don't like Gates that much. I don't really care what the impetus for getting him replaced is. The important thing is that he hasn't been responsive to the "roots" (Miles wasn't the only "roots" candidate he slighted) and they are looking to put someone else in. You seem to oppose the effort, but you offer no defense for Gates.

Keep up the writing.

Alva Adams

The defense is more than obvious. Gates, whatever his faults, presided over the takeover of the State House & Senate, and picked up a U.S. Senate seat and an open Congressional seat. You can't ask for much more where results are concerned.

Our problem with the attempted coup is the singlemindedness of it all. These efforts will lead only to show that Colorado Democrats are a fractured party, which is not the kind of signal Dems would want after such impressive victories.

And $250k is NOT at all unreasonable for someone to have raised in more than a year of campaigning for a statewide office. Any gubernatorial candidate who announces this month will have $300k - $500k raised by the end of the year. Salazar raised several hundred thousand dollars within a month of his announcement - because he went out and raised it. There are plenty of important battles worth fighting if you are a Democrat, yet every effort is spent by these supporters on a personal attack instead. "Be the Change" should not be about personal vendettas, otherwise it is no change at all.

James Peabody

Brother Alva is dead-on in his analysis of the current Democratic Party take-over atempt by the Miles folks.

This attempt seems to mirror to national disastisfaction Democrats have with the DNC, as represented by Howard Dean and the momentum he has going into selections for Chair of the party. And, if you don't think he has momentum, check out the panic among senior Democratic Senators in Washington at the thought of Howard Dean heading up the DNC - last week a group of Senators begged Terry McAuliffe to stay on.

The difference here is, and it's a big one, the DNC oversaw a failed Presidential campaign and Democratic losses in the Senate and House. All the Colorado Democratic Party did was oversee an election where the State Legislature was taken and there was a +2 pick-up in the Colorado Delegation in DC. You can argue the true impact the Party had in these elections, but the reality is Chris Gates was the guy in charge and he gets the credit.

Make no mistake, there were plenty of people and groups plotting a similar take-over of the Colorado Democratic Party on November 1. But, all of those groups, except the Miles faction, saw what happened on November 2 and dropped their plans.

If Democrats want to hold on to and build on gains made in 2004 during the 2006 elections, and truly be the change in this state, the dedicated people brought to the table through Mike Miles' candidacy can be a big part of that effort. But, by taking on what will be a losing effort to oust Chris Gates out of spite, they will only serve to marginalize their work so far and won't be the force in the party they envision.


Do you two work for the party? Just because leadership has been successful doesn't mean they are always right.


Just because you are winning doesn’t mean you’re right.

Using your logic we’d hire Republicans to run our party if it meant we’d win more.

Oh wait….

Alva Adams

Look, we've said it before and we'll say it again: we like Mike Miles. We really do. We think he's a great candidate. But you can't hide from the facts, no matter how many times you try to tell yourselves something different.

Miles got 23% of the vote. 23! Chris Gates is not the reason Miles lost. If Miles had lost 49-47%, then you have an argument. But when you only get 23% of the vote, there were a whole lot of problems with your campaign. Forget your anger with Gates and think about this logically - can you really argue that one man had the ability to give Ken Salazar 75% of the vote? Really? Honestly?

We've already admitted that Gates was wrong to work against Miles in any manner, but you can't say he's bad for the party just because of that - and it's not enough to crucify him. He did a lot of good for the party, and did some bad, but there is clearly more of the former than there is the latter.



Speaking as one of the guys who took on Mike's Internet campaign, I can vouch for what Alva & James said. I know Mike personally. I voted for the man, and I believed then (and still do, BTW) that he's a solid candidate.

But his campaign was critically plagued by very elemental mistakes. For one, he refused to make the necessary fundraising calls.

Now, most people who've worked on campaigns know that one of the things candidates typically hate to do is make fundraising calls--that's why there's usually someone assigned to the candidate to see that it gets done. That person is also the person who usually serves as the "bad cop"/heat shield responsible for making unpopular decisions. That person did not exist in his campaign. Nobody wanted to sit down and take on that thankless task.

Mike started running in late fall of 2001--I know, because I was there at that very first kickoff party at Phantom Canyon in Colorado Springs. To say that he couldn't have raised $300,000 between November 2001 and March 2004 simply beggars belief. His failure to do so killed his campaign.

In addition, the amateur hour antics stretched to other facets of the campaign organization. He never set up an official HQ, however small & humble. To the end, his Colorado Springs HQ was based in the county party HQ--forcing the party to permit the local Salazar field HQ to set up shop in the same place, and preventing Mike's campaign from being able to properly strategize vs. Salazar.

Mike also never launched any major TV advertising or radio spots--a deadly error for a candidate whom hardly anyone knew.

I remember the last Miles strategy meeting I had, and listening to the folks around the table in that Denver area home. To a person, they weren't focusing on the primary--they were assuming that the "people" would shock Salazar, as they had shocked him at the state convention. They were instead planning on how they would take on Coors.

I don't mean to sound harsh--these people were all very admirable in their passion for politics. But none of them had fought at the level of a statewide campaign, much less one for the U.S. Senate.

Personally, I like Chris Gates. And I think that this year, given that we hold both houses of the legislature for the first time in four decades, took back a congressional seat, and won the Senate race, and came within 4 points of turning CO blue, he deserves another term. As a Miles supporter, and an incoming state central committeeperson, I'll be casting my vote for Gates.

James Peabody

Arkhangel makes some pretty relevant points to this debate and we would urge everyone to read the comments closely. It mirrors what we've been hearing in talks with other insiders on this campaign.

At Colorado Pols, we're trying to provide readers with inside information on and analysis of Colorado politics based on what people are doing and saying, not based on an agenda of what's right or wrong. There's plenty of debate out there on the issues - we're looking at the process and the players.

If we analyze a situation and find that something in our opinion just doesn't make sense politically, we're going to say so. And, the reverse is true too - if someone does something smart that helps their position or future electoral prospects, we're going to say so.

That doesn't mean we support one side or the other - it means we think people and groups are being smart or stupid politically, regardless of party affiliation. And, luckily for those of us who like to follow the political process closely, there's plenty of both to go around with the Colorado Elephants and Donkeys.

Stephen Richter

You all are missing the point. Whether or not Gates is wholy responsible for the marginalization of the Miles campaign is not the central matter. The issue is which candidate possesses the type of qualities and capacities to lead the party today, based on its needs today. We face a similar set of choices here in Colorado as is being considered nationally. Do we go with a candidate who has shown a propensity and skill building relationships with big fundraisers and national interests or do we go in the direction of a person who's interest lies in grassroots organization building and appealing to the more progressive interests of the party? What happened with the Miles campaign should be taken as an example of likely behavior, but not the issue itself.

I think its great that we have competing visions vying for the leadership of this party. This is a discussion that needs to happen in the clear light of day. The argument that competition for Chair is divisive to our party is antithetical to the democratic process. If we can't handle within ourselves an honest debate on the direction we're taking, what good are we as a party?

Alva Adams

I don't think anybody is missing the point. Going after Gates is 100% about perceived slights against Miles. All you have to do is spend 10 minutes with a Miles supporter and you'll hear this to no end. There's no question about this.

And to your point, "The issue is which candidate possesses the type of qualities and capacities to lead the party today, based on its needs today." How could you pick anybody BUT Gates if that was your criteria? Fundamentally the Democratic and Republican parties are about winning elections; the policy stuff is what happens after candidates get into office. We're not talking about what these parties should be, or what it might be nice if they were - we're talking about winning. This is why there are only two legitimate parties in this country - because they focus on winning. The Libertarians are focused on policy, not politics, which is why they can't elect candidates to office.

The job of the Chair of the Democratic and Republican Parties is to elect Democrats and Republicans. That is their first, second, and third priorities. They're like a college football coach - graduation rates and a clean program are nice, but if the team doesn't win enough games, the coach is getting fired.

If the voters think it is more important to have a nice leader than a good leader, then in two years the Democrats will be right back where they were last year - in the minority. These people aren't elected to be the ambassador of the party - they are elected to lead the party to victory, period.

You can't do anything until you win the elections. You can crow all you want about education, health care, jobs and the like, but if you don't have the elected officials in office, it doesn't matter what you say. You have to win first. Politics and policy are not the same thing.

Alva Adams

Here's another example of how this is all a personal vendetta:

As a reader pointed out to us, the Miles supporters are not endorsing Julia Hicks, nor have they agreed on a particular candidate to replace Gates.

It's not about a new vision for the Democrats, it's just, "Not Chris Gates." They don't have a solution, they're just mad at Gates. There's no positive logic in this.

So here's our positive alternative: agree on a truly worthwhile cause, get to work, and show people across the state that Be the Change really is what it claims to be. Support an initiative or referendum for schools, or for health care, or for jobs, and get out and work. When that passes, Be the Change will have shown it is a force to be reckoned with - but not only that, a force that deserves a seat at the table.

Dan Slater

Look, I may be a little too close, but perhaps I can provide some insight. The problem with Chris re: the Miles issue was that he was slow to recognize the depth of the grassroots support for Mike. Why? Because Chris spent a lot of his time in Washington pressing for more attention, money, and other resources to flow to Colorado. I happen to think that was a good thing, and one of the critical jobs of State Chair.

But a by-product of that is that you don't spend enough time going around the state with your ear to the ground. It is a trade-off, and Chris learned that lesson well. When Salazar jumped in, and everybody but Miles jumped out, Chris made the assumption that Miles was working from the same playbook as Udall and Bridges. To Miles' credit, he wasn't. It took Chris a while to realize this, but once he did, he bent over backwards to be neutral in the Senate race. The problem is, the well had already been poisoned, and the Miles people -- to this day -- don't believe Chris was truly neutral.

Let me relate a personal observation. At the Democratic Convention in Boston, my seat was as close to Chris Gates as you could get. The DNC (through the DSCC) was committed to Salazar, and there were several times where Salazar was referred to as if he were already the nominee from the podium. I witnessed Chris, each time, immediately get on the phone and complain loudly to the folks on the podium, at the DSCC, and at the DNC, about the fact that we still had a primary. I've never heard him mention this, and he didn't brag about it, but I know this happened, and I was proud of the fact that he was standing tall for fairness from the national folks.

In the end, this all comes down to results. The results in Colorado speak for themselves; we shouldn't be embroiled in a controversy right now.


Grass roots are important. Mike Miles had fewer volunteers the last two weekends than did Ken Salazar. Facts are facts. Labor and many progressive democrats knocked on doors for Ken before the primary.
Mike Miles should do the right thing -- endorse Chris Gates -- further Mike should move and challenge Ed Jones for the State Senate -- it is a move of only ten miles and he can than earn his bonafides in the party and help the Senate Democrats keep a majority --
As to Joanie Fitz -- who will be the first Democrat to get tired of her arrogance and obnoxous personality and switch to vote with the Reps for leadership -- the contenders:
Peter Groff
Bob Hagedorn
Paula Sandoval
Jim Isgar
My pick / Hagedorn and Sandoval strike a deal to make Groff Senate Prez with Peter voting against himself --


It is odd that you write that this group is full of inneffective newbies and then you spend so much time worrying about what they might try to do.

Alva Adams

I think you're looking for motivation that may not be there. We think the Be the Change group has great potential, but we think it's a shame that they are embarking on a self-serving battle that they are likely to lose. They're not going to unseat Chris Gates, and it will hurt them to try and lose.

We don't think they are ineffective - in fact, far from it. The Miles people showed how strong their grassroots efforts are. We just think they are a little misguided, which is typical ofa new political group.


As an expatriate Coloradan, and one who focuses, naturally on national issues and politics, I can tell you that Chris Gates has brought a nationally recognized shine and polish (on top of a fast and deadly Sherman tank) to the Colorado Democratic party that it has not had since our "glory days" of Hart, Wirth, Schroeder and Lamm (and lots of other statesmen, even fine Colo. Republicans). The word in national politics is that Chris Gates is a smart, savvy, and dare I say visionary leader from the Rocky Mountain West. The national Dems should be so lucky!
'It is hard to argue with success.' (attribute that to Ronald Reagan.)
The party of TJ, FDR JFK and Clinton, wake up! Colorado has always sent very good people to Washington. Gates is continuing that tradition. And the future looks very bright for Colorado Dems. If they (we)don't form a circular firing squad. Miles, show how good a diplomat and leader you are and help unify your party. You are a good candidate. Gates is a superb chair. George

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