Colorado rang in 2014 with a bit of a mellow buzz -- a certain relaxed attitude -- and it was a feeling that lasted throughout the year. Sure, that mellow was harshed by continuing problems with police and sheriff's deputies, as well as a very contested (and expensive) election season. But we also got a few needed civics lessons in the form of same-sex marriage and student protests. In the end, though, our minds remained tuned to the biggest story of the year: legalized marijuana. What will 2015 bring? Who knows? Anything can happen when you're a mile high. For proof, here are our strangest Colorado political stories of 2014, compiled from news sources across Colorado -- including Westword. Or, you can check out all our Year in Review 2014: Strange But True.
Rocky, the Denver Nuggets mascot, showed up at a GOP rally at Heritage High School in Littleton with Republican candidates Bob Beauprez and Cory Gardner, along with Mitt Romney -- a move that the team hadn't sanctioned and didn't appreciate. (Rocky isn't a political animal.) The performer who plays the popular mascot had to do backflips to get back in the good graces of Kroenke Sports Enterprises, which owns the Nuggets.
Colorado's Republican Party likes to offer voters a pretty picture of the future, but it sometimes has trouble depicting the present accurately. The latest gaffe came in August, when a state GOP-funded website, coloradocore.org, featured photos of both Monument Valley and the Colorado River taken in Arizona, rather than photos of actual Colorado. The pictures were quickly replaced, but in the meantime, the GOP had perpetuated a tradition boosted in 2008 when Republican Senate candidate Bob Schaffer showed Alaska's Mount McKinley in an ad rather than Pikes Peak, and in 2009 when an ad for Republican gubernatorial candidate Scott McInnis highlighted Canada's mountains rather than Colorado's own Rockies.
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Denver Post reporter Lynn Bartels writes many of the stories that subsequently appear on our year-end Strange but True list. But this fall, she became part of a national story when she uttered this at a senatorial debate: "Mr. Udall, your campaign has been so focused on women's issues you've been dubbed 'Mark Uterus.'" She'd gotten the nickname from a state lawmaker who'd gotten it from a GOP strategist -- and now it was stuck to the Democratic incumbent, who lost the War on Women-obsessed election to Cory Gardner. But not before the moniker inspired a fake Twitter account, @MarkUterus. One of the most recent posts: "Insult me if you will, but it worked. I went out as the guy who ripped the CIA, and not as the guy who campaigned incessantly on lady parts."
No truly good list of crazy politicians would be complete without someone from Colorado, a state that's had more than its fair share of nutjobs. But state representative-elect Gordon Klingenschmitt, who'll represent the people of House District 13 in Colorado Springs come January, might be the nuttiest so far. GQ certainly thinks so: In December, the magazine laid out its list of America's 20 Craziest Politicians, ranking Klingenschmitt as eighth with this: "Has repeatedly bragged about performing a gay exorcism (he's a former Navy chaplain) to rid a woman of 'the foul spirit of lesbianism,' and also tried to perform a long-distance exorcism on President Obama because of something about the NSA. Believes that Obamacare 'causes cancer' and that Obama's former FCC chairman was driven by the Devil to 'molest and visually rape your children.'"