John Hickenlooper: Attack ads on the way about his charitable giving?

Should Hick feel wary of anyone approaching him with his hand out?
Should Hick feel wary of anyone approaching him with his hand out?
Photo by Michael Roberts

Unlike Republican gubernatorial hopeful Scott McInnis, whose most prominent charitable donation appears to be elk meat, Democratic candidate John Hickenlooper has released tax returns showing that he's doled out $2.8 million over the years.

He's just not saying to whom, which set off KHOW's Dan Caplis during Hick's appearance on his show the other day.

Could Hickenlooper's coyness on this issue be the subject of attack commercials? That's what Colorado Republican Party head Dick Wadhams is hearing -- although he hastens to add, "They're not ours."

According to Wadhams, the Republicans don't have the dough to spend on such slaps -- at least not right now. So where's he getting his information? "The rumor came from Channel 4," he reveals. "Terry Jessup came to interview me for a story, and he told me his trafficking department said it looked like an ad was coming here this week," presumably courtesy of a political action committee.

Wadhams doesn't sound especially enthusiastic about this particular line of attack. Given that questions about Hickenlooper's donation targets will automatically bring up the McInnis elk story, he concedes that the results are likely to be "a wash." He'd much rather talk about what he sees as Hickenlooper's unwillingness to tell voters where he stands.

"I think what we're seeing more and more from Hickenlooper is that he's uncomfortable in this race," Wadhams argues. "He took no position on tax increases, he said he wouldn't talk about state issues until the legislature adjourned, which is patently absurd -- and that makes me think there are broader issues at work. He's starting to learn he can't just be the quirky beer-pub owner from LoDo in a campaign for governor. He can't just say, 'I'm a problem solver.' He has to take some positions on the issues."

The Republicans may get some traction with such assertions. Hickenlooper apparently prefers not to discuss the Arizona immigration law beyond saying he would have vetoed it. In light of the theory that strong positions tend to trump wishy-wasy ones, he could be ceding an advantage to McInnis, who'll tell anyone and everyone that he'd like a similar immigration law in Colorado.

"The only thing I know for sure about John Hickenlooper is that he has the ambition to be governor of Colorado," Wadhams says. "Beyond that, he seems terrified or incapable of taking a position on any issue, and I think that's a real weakness with his campaign that's got to concern Democrats."

Then again, he hasn't seen the attack ads that may be on the way.


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