Mike Kopp Succeeds Penry as Senate GOP Leader; Hurlbert Signs CUT Pledge; SD 16 Dem. Nicholson Fundraising; Dem. AG Challenger, Boulder DA Stan Garnett, Hits Incumbent Suthers Hard in TV Interview

Mike Kopp (R-Littleton), was voted in unanimously today as Senate Minority Leader after Josh Penry announced his resignation .  Lynn Bartels is on The Spot.

Mike Kopp (R-Littleton), New Colo. state Senate Minority Leader

Penry’s controversial April 21 move to become Jane Norton’s campaign manager, made his  Minority Leader tenure untenable.  Kopp, a popular young conservative, will take  over after the legislative session ends, which is scheduled for May 12.

Penry portrayed himself as a party uniter, when he gave up his gubernatorial bid  last November and threw his support behind fellow west slope Coloradan, Scott McInnis.  Since then, however, his “uniting” efforts seem to have leaned more towards bending over backwards to help the Dems. and divide Republicans.  Penry also made a puzzling, content-free, and tepid two-sentence  endorsement in the contested GOP SD16 primary –  an unusual March move, to say the least, for a Senate Minority Leader.  Mike Kopp  endorsed  Hurlbert’s  opponent, Tim Leonard, before Hurlbert became a candidate.

Things really got “unusual” when Penry became Jane Norton’s campaign manager in a hotly contested GOP Senate race against Ken Buck.  Such a move was odd enough,  but when Penry came out the door swinging negative attack punches against Buck and his campaign manager, Republican tongues were wagging, asking why the heck is this guy Senate minority leader?

Penry has now done the right thing by stepping down as Minority Leader.

DA Mark Hurlbert, Colo. Senate Dist. 16 Candidate, Signs CUT Pledge, Finally Fulfilling Promise Made Two Months Before: As CUT pledge specialists, Ex-Pat Ex-Lawyer is breaking the story of Hurlbert’s long-delayed signing of the Colorado Union of Taxpayer’s commitment to fiscal conservatism.  Hurlbert signed the pledge on April 29, according to CUT Executive Director Marty Neilson. The full pledge is here, as is my running clock updating and week-by-week questioning, why he had not fulfilled his promise, and in general questioning whether he’s a RINO.

Hurlbert is challenging conservative/teaparty Republican, businessman Tim Leonard of Evergreen, in the GOP primary contest.  Leonard signed the pledge on December 31, 2009.

To his credit, Hurlbert has shown a lot more transparency and responsiveness recently.  I told Hurlbert I’d like to follow-up with him about the CUT signing.  My specific questions will not only include his reasons for the delay (he’s been a candidate since January 13), but also whether some positions he has on the issues and actions he has taken might conflict with the CUT pledge.  I expect Hurlbert and I will touch base this week so I can write a more detailed article that sheds more light on  whether Hurlbert will follow through on the CUT pledge if elected to the state Senate in November.

Senate District 16 Democrat Candidate, Gilpin County Commissioner Jeanne Nicholson, Posts Fundraising Numbers in Advance of Today’s 5:00 p.m. Deadline: They are not strong.  According to the Secretary of State’s Tracer site, she raised about $7,000, and has less than $3,000 in the bank.

Needless to say, this should not cause complacency on part of either of her above-referenced GOP opponents.  Jeanne Nicholson is an amiable and smart candidate, and no doubt, Dem party machinery is saving dinero until after August primary.  Nicholson has no primary opponent.  Still, Nicholson hailing from smallest county in Colorado, should be a GOP plus.

Stay tuned to this blog for up-to-the-minute fundraising details of all major races (and some not as major, but which should be) as reports are posted on Tracer.  This will be Ex-Pat Ex-Lawyer’s focus in next two days.

Boulder DA Stan Garnett poses a formidable challenge to incumbent Republican AG, John Suthers. This KUSA Your Show interview yesterday sends a big message that we’ll look forward to a clear-cut, liberal vs. conservative campaign between Garnett and Suthers.  Both candidates  are indisputably well qualified as legal honchos.  Pointedly, Garnett, while discussing lots of concerns with the Arizona immigration law, demurs that he has not yet read it completely and cannot give a full opinion of same.  He invites Suthers, who surprisingly has made no comment at all about the Arizona law, to engage in a debate about the measure.

Garnett presents himself as an attractive and articulate Democrat, who will undoubtedly get lots of liberal lawyer campaign money.  He has a star-quality, private practice career, which sets him apart from career politicians.  My own discussions with Garnett show him to be open to media scrutiny and transparent about budget questions.

But no doubt, Stan Garnett is a pure progressive, as this interview shows about gun rights, health care, and other issues.  Garnett contends that Colorado has only spent $5,000 in the health care fight because Suthers basically just signed his name to GOP legal challenges already pre-written before Obama signed the ludicrous legislation.  (The ludicrous part is mine, not Garnett’s, language).

The video is worth the quick viewing.  And no one can dispute Garnett’s  gotten off to quite the robust start as a candidate, while still performing his job as DA without any reported criticism.

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