The Denver mayoral race is finally starting to see some heat. Michael Hancock issued a press release Friday that called out contender Chris Romer for hiring an out-of-state political research firm to dig up information on other candidates -- a well-known campaign tactic known as "opposition research."
And if you think opposition research doesn't matter, just ask Scott McInnis.
You might recall that McInnis was all but guaranteed the spot of Republican nominee in the race for Colorado governor last summer before a plagiarism scandal sent his campaign into a ditch -- and Democrat John Hickenlooper to the state capitol.
The news that McInnis had plagiarized the writings of a former Colorado Supreme Court Judge for a series of water law essays was reported nearly simultaneously by the Denver Post and KMGH7. The reporters never took credit for being the ones who uncovered the similarities between the two obscure bodies of text, and they have consistently declined to disclose their source on the matter.
Within political circles, it is widely believed that the initial plagiarism discovery was the work of opposition researchers. And who were these researchers working for exactly? That has yet to be proven. But Tom Tancredo, whose quixotic campaign for governor helped transform the race into even more of a political sideshow, has publicly fingered the Colorado Democracy Alliance as the apparent culprit.
Here's Tancredo in an interview last year with Ernest Luning of the Colorado Statesman:
TT: ...Do you know, by the way, who did that? I was told yesterday by a reliable source. I did not know this, but the Colorado Democracy Alliance -- you know, that group...
CS: CoDA, yeah.
TT: CoDA. They had apparently sent I don't know how many staffers down to Fort Lewis College where Scott's papers are. And that they went through everything every day for months and pulled all this stuff out and brought it to the Post.
CS: I hadn't heard that.
TT: It was a news anchorman who told me.
CS: They've certainly got an operation in place.
TT: Yes, they do, and that's scary stuff when you know how much money they've got, and they can create stories if they need to, they can take anything. They've got the press on their side, and the Post in particular, it is going to be a challenge, there's no two ways about it.
As for the Denver mayoral race, the Hancock camp is challenging Romer to "stop planning for a negative political campaign and instead promise voters he will run the kind of clean campaign Denver voters expect and deserve."
A spokesperson for Romer tells the Denver Post the only opposition research they are paying Grindstone Research of Tennessee to look into is "public stands and public positions taken by the other candidates in the field," which so far includes open-records request for things like e-mail correspondence, travel records and meeting attendance logs.
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And, apparently, the campaigns of Carol Boigon and James Mejia are also engaging in some oppo of their own.
Let the mayor's race begin.
More from our Politics archive: "James Mejia: A Denver mayor's race profile," "Doug Linkhart: A Denver mayor's race profile," "Michael Forrester: A Denver mayor's race profile," "Michael Hancock: A Denver mayor's race profile," "Danny Lopez: A Denver mayor's race profile," "Chris Romer: A Denver mayor's race profile," "Carol Boigon: A Denver mayor's race profile," "Thomas Andrew Wolf: A Denver mayor's race profile," "Eric Zinn, mayoral hopeful, wants Denver to lose a million pounds," "Gerald Styron, Denver mayor candidate, once threatened to bring a gun to Westword," "Paul Noel Fiorino: A Denver mayor's race profile," "Dwight Henson: A Denver mayor's race profile," "Theresa Spahn: A Denver mayor's race profile," "Jeff Peckman: A Denver mayor's race profile," "Vincent Macieyovski: A Denver mayor's race profile," "Ken Simpson: A Denver mayor's race profile," and "Mark Gruber: A Denver mayor's race profile."