Off Limits

Mr. Tancredo goes to Washington: Like the 39 other new members of the House of Representatives, Colorado Sixth District representative-elect Tom Tancredo lined up last week to choose an office. The incoming freshmen--17 Republicans, 23 Democrats --are the lowest men and women on the totem pole and get to pick their Congressional pads only after representatives with more seniority decide whether they want to aim higher. Among those moving up: First Congressional District representative Diana DeGette, a Democrat now starting her second term. Since her old space was up for grabs, the freshman class got to take a peek inside during their tour of available offices. And there, sitting right out on DeGette's desk, was a letter signed with a familiar smiley face. That's right, it was a missive from Pat Schroeder, the woman who'd held down DeGette's seat for 24 years, the representative who'd launched seven--count 'em, seven--investigations into Tancredo's performance when he was regional director of the Department of Education under President Ronald Reagan.

So naturally, Tancredo figured it was his business to investigate the contents of the letter, which was lying in plain view of any nosy Republican who happened by--and wanted to read how Schroeder considers DeGette and new Second Congressional District representative Mark Udall, the Democrat who triumphed over Bob Greenlee, the only bright spots in a very grim Colorado election.

Tancredo, by the way, didn't opt for DeGette's old digs, instead taking a first-floor office in the Longworth building.

Give 'em Heckman: The Udall-Greenlee race may well be the most expensive House campaign in Colorado history, but for the state's cheapest cost-per-vote ratio, it would be hard to beat John Heckman's run for the U.S. Senate. Facing off against Ben Nighthorse Campbell and Dottie Lamm, as well as four other third-party candidates, Heckman collected 3,242 votes. Since Concerns of People Inc., Heckman's own party, shelled out just $324 for the campaign, that's a bargain ten cents per vote. Which means the perennial long-distance runner--"offering himself to the people since 1969"--should still have plenty of cash for his next attempt at public office: the Lakewood mayoral race in November 1999.

In the meantime, Heckman, who refuses to appear in public forums (knowing "from experience over a span of 29 years all are rigged in favor of the PAC dictatorship candidates"), continues to hold forth every Sunday morning at the Wheat Ridge offices of John Heckman Enterprises, Inc. (In addition to his political party, those enterprises include the Sobriety Franchise Corporation of "non-alcoholic ice cream parlors and family restaurants" and the Church of Practical Reality, Inc.) No reservations required.

Bite me: When last we spied failed statehouse candidate and former Republican Party state finance chairman Johnny "Gonzo" Gonce, he was threatening to sue over his loss to Frank "Mac" McGregor in last September's GOP primary. As it turns out, Gonzo--the only local political candidate known to believe that poor dental hygiene is at the root of societal evils--wasn't just yappin'. A lawsuit sinking its teeth into four prominent defendants is now under way in Denver District Court.

First, though, an explanation of Gonzo's bad-teeth theory, developed while he was doing time in the Denver County Jail back in the 1980s. Gonce, who was in on a domestic-violence rap, observed that all prisoners who admitted beating on their lady friends also had crummy choppers. "I assumed, and still assume, that they had a lot of pain and that they were trying to kill that pain," Gonce opined last fall. "And any dentist or doctor can tell you that when you've got bad teeth, the poison drains into your system and can cause all kinds of complications."

Sadly, Gonce's happy-tooth theory is nowhere to be found in the court pleadings related to his latest legal bonzai charge. Instead, Gonzo's suit makes more mundane accusations against a list of defendants including Denver City Councilman Ted Hackworth (who at last word was still brushing and flossing regularly). Gonce says Hackworth was part of a conspiracy to smear his good name and make off with a passel of his campaign signs--412 of them, viciously uprooted from yards all over town.

"I'm really confused just where he thinks he's headed with this suit," says Hackworth, who in the past has politely suggested that Gonce may have "lost it."

Hackworth has hired an attorney to represent him, as have co-defendants McGregor and his two campaign co-chairs, real estate agent Scott Miller and attorney Cheryl Redmond-Doyle. Miller and Redmond-Doyle got on Gonce's bad side last fall when they filed complaints against him under the Colorado Fair Campaign Practices Act alleging that Gonzo, who works as a real estate agent in his spare time, was using his business fliers as de facto campaign ads.

"I was told by other attorneys to stay away from the guy," notes Redmond-Doyle, adding that she wishes she had. However, she and Miller are pressing ahead with their campaign-practices complaint, now before an administrative law judge.

All the defendants have filed answers with the court denying Gonce's accusations. And Gonce, who served as president of the Littleton Kiwanis Club in what must have been a past life, will likely face an uphill battle before Denver District Judge Edward A. Simons. First, he's serving as his own attorney. Second, his part-time job is working with a nonprofit group to have every judge in the state of Colorado thrown out of office.

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