Off Limits

What's their beef? Even though he's head of the Denver Water Department, Chips Barry has a reputation for being far from your average boring bureaucrat. And now he's added to the legend--and gained a new nickname, "Cow" Chips Barry--by buying his agency a cow.

Not just any cow, mind you. As Barry explains it, an employee who lives in Park County was talking about how the 4-H program there was having trouble getting people to buy animals. Remembering an effort led by former state official Tim Schultz to have moovers-and-shakers bid on kid-raised animals at the Colorado State Fair a few years ago, Barry authorized a buy. And the water department got its beef.

The department's cafeteria contract is currently up for bid; Barry says the vendor who wins the job will also get 900 pounds of cow, "so the hamburger they have in September may be prize-winning beef from Park County."

And since Aurora is currently considering a raid on Park County's water supply, it never hurts to keep the natives from getting restless.

Nag, nag, nag: The 1998 Senate race should be a real horse race--if potential candidates would just quit jockeying for position. Right now, Representative Scott McInnis--the fiery, pro-choice former cop who's a Western Slope Republican--is getting all the attention as a possible primary opponent to the fiery, pro-choice former cop who's a recent Western Slope Republican: Senator Ben Nighthorse Campbell (spotted last weekend at a Central City motorcycle gathering).

Several political futures now hinge on whether McInnis actually gets out of the starting gate. What follow are just a few of the scenarios currently under discussion in political circles--and the odds of each one playing out. Remember, all bets must be down by Labor Day.

Two to one: McInnis drops out after frightening Republican leaders worried about losing a seat and thus positioning himself for a plum House committee assignment. That leaves only the incumbent Campbell and single-issue candidate (abortion, of course) Bill Eggert, who will do surprisingly well at the GOP convention in Colorado Springs, given the religious right's clout there, and force a primary. But Eggert will lose.

Five to one: McInnis, mad at the GOP hierarchy for giving money to Campbell before a primary, runs against the former Democrat in an ugly friendship-gone-sour primary. Campbell, mad at McInnis, lets his anger get the best of him and comes in an embarrassing third to Eggert at the convention; the senator doesn't even qualify for the primary ballot.

Seven to one: McInnis runs, prompting another attempt by 1996 also-ran state senator Charles Duke. Duke shocks the world by polling second at the assembly and then winning the Republican nomination, thus proving the old adage that in a three-way race, the worst candidate always wins. For further evidence, see Republicans in the district now represented by Bob Schaffer or Democrats who elected Campbell over Dick Lamm in 1992 only to have him switch parties mid-term.

Twelve to one: McInnis runs; bad polling numbers for Campbell and the threat of Duke or Eggert winning a three-way race prompt Colorado Springs alleged nice guy Joel Hefley to go up against arch-enemy McInnis. Hefley beats all of them in a rout, setting up a Senate race against alleged nice guy David Skaggs in what will be the most excruciatingly boring Senate race since, well, since the last one.

Sixty-three to one: Dottie Lamm upsets Skaggs in a Democratic primary and Dick Lamm decides to run on the Reform Party ticket. The eyes of Colorado focus on who will get the crucial Heather Lamm endorsement: Mommy or Daddy.

I think tank, therefore I am: But then again, why would Dick Lamm want to leave his comfy positions in academia? After all, in addition to his public-policy teaching job at the University of Denver, Lamm has a prestigious post as vice chairman of the national council of the two-year-old National Alumni Forum, which is dedicated to fighting political intolerance on campus.

Now the NAF has another Colorado connection: Roxie Burris, former chief of staff to former senator Hank Brown (who does double duty with Lamm at DU and also on the NAF council), has been named NAF vice president and charged with "coordinating and conducting research on higher-education issues...and aiding in grant and development activities." She's already got a head start on that at home, since Littleton's Norwood Robb and gubernatorial wannabe Bruce Benson are major NAF contributors.