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GOP of the heap

Colorado's Republicans keep insisting that Karl Rove, chief policy advisor to President George W. Bush, had nothing -- absolutely nothing! -- to do with that surprise redistricting proposal at the General Assembly, a move that conveniently tossed Mike Feeley right out of the seventh, which he almost took from Bob Beauprezlast November.

No, they say, the redistricting plan was born and bred in this state.

But then, Rove knows all about wiping Colorado addresses right off the map.

Loop de Loop: John Hickenlooper and the Borofsky 
sculpture purchased by Wellington Webb's 
administration, now accessorized for the next mayor.
Photo of John Hickenlooper by Brett Amole
Loop de Loop: John Hickenlooper and the Borofsky sculpture purchased by Wellington Webb's administration, now accessorized for the next mayor.

Described as Bush's "political Svengali, Robespierre and wizard all rolled into one," Rove has come a long way for a kid who was born in Denver and spent much of his childhood in the area, as he acknowledged after making an ill-advised wisecrack about the intellectual capabilities of a New Hampshire hamlet in late 2001. "Were I ever to belittle small-town America, I would have to do a lot of explaining to my friends and neighbors in Golden, Arvada and Kokomo, Colorado," he wrote in an apology to the Berlin Daily Sun. "The places where I grew up."

Actually, he wouldn't have much to do in Kokomo. The town, founded on the west side of Fremont Pass during an 1881 silver strike, was devastated early on by fire, then enjoyed a rebirth during the boom years of the Climax Molybdenum mine. "As many as 100 to 200 persons live in the town, and a school operates through the winter," reported Perry Eberhart in his 1959 Guide to the Colorado Ghost Towns and Mining Camps. But by 1965, the Rove family had moved on (Dad was a geologist), and the town was down to just nine voters, who decided to disincorporate Kokomo.

And in the early '70s, when Rove started his climb to the top of the GOP heap as the politically savvy executive director of the College Republicans, his old home town was disappearing altogether. Today, Kokomo is buried under a pile of tailings from the Climax mine.

The hair apparent: That 'do -- it's like the hair of a sixth-grade class president captured in a 1969 yearbook picture crossed with that of a forty-year-old Cherry Creek bon vivant attempting his first comb-over. It's floppy, it's flat, it's...a Looper!

"No products," sniffs a local stylist who's gotten up close and personal with the follicles of mayoral frontrunner John Hickenlooper. But Hick, whose campaign is as lively as his hair is limp, acknowledges his coiffure's limitations: His third TV commercial shows him standing before a mirror, comb in hand, thanking "the good citizens of Denver for looking past my bad hair...I'll never be an international man of style."

But anyone can have a Looper! All it takes is the courage to toss aside all sprays, mousses and gels and make the most of a couple hanks of hair thinner than the mayoral hopes of Don Mares (who's been getting his trim from the same north Denver barber, Danny Marquez, since he was in seventh grade).

Hickenlooper's first commercial made fun of his wardrobe, showing him buying a used suit in which he'd look more mayoral. (In reality, a friend gifted him with a much nicer model.) And he's not the only candidate who's had a clothes call recently: Denver City Councilman Dennis Gallagher, he of the ubiquitous navy-blue sports coat, finally broke down and bought a new suit when he decided to run for auditor. "Even Tom Noel told me to get a new suit," Gallagher says of his pal, the equally sartorially challenged University of Colorado at Denver history professor.

So Gallagher did, a tidy brown number. But he wasn't looking for a What Not to Wear-worthy overhaul; he'd already made his major image change back in 1987, when he ran for mayor against incumbent Federico Peña. Then, even without consulting stylist-to-the-stars Jo Farrell, Gallagher decided to shave his mustache so that he'd look younger. "I was starting to look like King Lear out on the lochs," he remembers.

The arful truth: First, Hickenlooper strategists bought the bags that wrapped the Rocky Mountain News and Denver Post the day before the May 6 election, reminding subscribers to vote -- and providing them with handy Hickenpooper scoopers. (The candidate himself has been spotted picking up after pooches -- anonymous ones, not just his own Rocket -- on the 16th Street Mall.) And last Sunday's Lucky Mutt Strut featured a dog wearing signs pushing the brewmeister, apparently an independent political animal who's not part of the official campaign. "He must be a creative supporter," says Hickenlooper spokeswoman Lindy Eichenbaum Lent.

Hickenlooper supports canines, she notes, as well as their canine companions. For example, he's on board with the Denver Department of Parks and Recreation's proposal for off-leash dog parks ("Straight Poop," April 3), as long as they're located in "areas where there is broad neighborhood support and strict rules and consequences regarding dog behavior."

Although Mares has been working hard to distinguish himself from Hickenlooper, his dog-park stance is remarkably similar. "I think it's long past due that Denver listen to those folks who want to have areas where dogs can run free," Mares says. "But I think we need to be very cautious about how we roll that out. The idea of having dogs totally running free in a park, that scares me. My dog is one of the most friendly dogs there is, but you don't know that when he's running up to you to give you a big lick on the face."

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