GOP of the Heap

On Monday, Karl Rove – once described as President George Bush’s "political Svengali, Robespierre and wizard all rolled into one” – took himself out of the political picture. For now. Rove had 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 explaining 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 disappeared altogether: Kokomo is now buried under a pile of tailings from the Climax mine. Rove himself is unlikely to disappear as neatly. – Patricia Calhoun