Off Limits

It's my party...: After Sunday's final Reform Party vote, former governor Richard Lamm may have second thoughts about a third party. But the country's first third party, the Libertarian Party, is still going strong, with 125,000 registered voters. And on August 15 the party marks the 25th anniversary of its founding--which occurred, of all places, in a Westminster living room.

When the spirit moves him: GOP spear carrier Jack Kemp accompanies his would-be boss, Bob Dole, to Denver Friday for the most public of all pseudo-events: a post-convention kickoff to a presidential campaign. But Kemp hasn't always been up-front in his trips to Colorado. Back in '93 he solidified his strong--but little-publicized--ties to the religious right by sneaking into Colorado Springs to huddle privately with Focus on the Family bigwigs from around the country. Although Kemp admitted to Westword back then that he and Focus leader James Dobson are "old friends," Colorado's own modern-day Oliver Cromwell did his darnedest to keep the meeting quiet. (Dobson even sicced security guards on a Westword reporter.) But Kemp could still be heard blasting Bill Clinton for "hitting the ground backpedaling" and sounding very much like a presidential candidate.

Kemp portrays himself as a "compassionate" conservative and usually isn't thought of as a member of the GOP's religious wing. But when the audience is right, he dresses up like a crusader: In a 1992 speech to an Arizona Republican convention controlled by the party's religious wing, Kemp declared that "we're the party of the good shepherd" and urged the delegates to "make this nation a new Jerusalem." And his ties to the religious right go back a long way. While a congressman from upstate New York, Kemp was one of the few national politicians glad-handing the hundreds of thousands of marchers at the April 1980 Washington for Jesus rally, a historic flexing of electoral muscle by evangelical Christians. Perhaps more distressing to Coloradans, however, is the revelation made by Kemp's wife, Joanne, during the '93 visit that the Kemps frequently listen to audio tapes of Dobson, whose screeds regularly hammer at the evils of feminism, abortion, working women and homosexuality. Don't look for Kemp to talk about his "old friend" Dobson this time around..

A peace of the action: Back in early July, well in advance of Tuesday's primary, the Colorado Peace Mission sent a questionnaire to the state's candidates for the U.S. Senate, asking their positions on several matters relating to foreign policy and military spending. It took a reminder call from the mission's Robert Kinsey before Democrats Tom Strickland and Gene Nichol sent their answers; Republican Gale Norton never did. But it was Wayne Allard's response--or reason for a lack thereof--that really grabbed Kinsey's attention. When he asked aide Dick Wadhams why Allard hadn't responded, Wadhams accused Kinsey of "playing games" in even asking his "strong on defense" candidate for a response. Kinsey could just go ahead and "decide which of the two liberal lawyers to vote for," Wadhams told him.

Flower power: On July 17 Denver City Councilman Dennis Gallagher met with representatives of the group that just one day before had sealed the deal to develop the old Elitch's site in northwest Denver. Unlike the last developer who wanted to get his hands on the property--and devote three times the space to commercial development--Jonathan Rose, one of the "gurus of new urbanism," rates an "A+ in my gradebook," Gallagher says. Although at their meeting Gallagher refrained from launching into his standard lecture on the many people who'd trod the boards of the venerable Elitch Theatre, he did manage to note that the park's founder, Mary Elitch, "will be so pleased that there's a live Rose back on the property." But Gallagher didn't realize how pleased until a few days later, when he was perusing some old clippings at the Denver Public Library and discovered that Mary Elitch had died on July 16, 1936, exactly sixty years to the day before the land transferred hands.

"It's a great little coincidence," says Gallagher.

 
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