Update below: It's deadline day for Dan Maes to announce his choice for lieutenant governor, and speculation continues among his followers about who'll get the nod. But you can cross one buzzed-about name off the list: Lesley Hollywood, director of the Northern Colorado Tea Party. Hollywood says Maes hasn't talked to her about the position, and she wouldn't have accepted it if he had. However, she's got some definite ideas about the type of person she'd love for him to select.
Hollywood notes that she's heard from "a lot of grassroots people" who see her as an appealing lieutenant governor prospect, probably because, like Maes, she's a political outsider of the sort Tea Party, 9.12 Group and other Liberty Movement devotees would like to see in office. From her perspective, though, a running mate could have electoral experience and still be acceptable -- so long as she or he have battled against the powers that be rather than capitulating to them.
"I think it'd be good if he found somebody who might have worked in the state legislature and maybe stood up to the establishment before," she says. "Somebody who doesn't walk lock-step with the GOP establishment, as too many people in the state house seem to do. I think it'd be great to find somebody like that, because Dan is kind of a blank slate, and it'd be a good opportunity to ground him."
She hesitates for a moment before adding, "Of course, he can ground himself -- and the people can really nurture him. And I think he's in a good spot. I think Tancredo's going to drop out."
The removal of Tom Tancredo from the picture is a fond wish of both the aforementioned Republican leadership -- state party leader Dick Wadhams says Dan Maes can't win if Tancredo sticks around -- and Maes-backing Tea Partiers. And of late, Tancredo's poll numbers have been falling, while Maes's are on the rise. Hollywood believes Tancredo will get the hint before long.
"When Tom originally made the decision to get into the race, he thought he would pull some really strong pro-Liberty support," she maintains. "When that didn't happen -- when the pro-Liberty people were more upset with him for making the move he made -- that kind of hurt him. And I can't imagine he's going to want to go down in Colorado history as a person who got into the race to win it but came in third and handed the governorship to the Democrats and John Hickenlooper.
"I know Tom, and I like Tom. I don't agree with all of his policies, but I like him. And I think he's better than that. I think he'll do the right thing."
In the meantime, the Maes campaign is slated to meet this week with folks from the Denver Post to discuss the paper's mostly negative coverage of his candidacy to date. Back in July, after the paper argued that his tax returns proved he doesn't have the business acumen to serve as governor, Maes said he might limit the Post's access if the broadsheet couldn't treat him fairly -- and since then, Post publisher Dean Singleton has said he doesn't think Maes is competent to be a dog catcher.
To Hollywood, the Post's tone when reporting about Maes is patronizing.
"I definitely pick up on that," she says, "and I think it's unfortunate. Working where I work, in the grassroots underground of this movement, I can really see where the GOP establishment is trying to manipulate what is happening. And when you see that happening in the media, too -- media such as the Denver Post -- it's frustrating."
But even if the Post continues to ridicule Maes right up through election day, Hollywood is uncertain that such attacks will damage him much.
"I don't know how much readership the Post has compared to citizen journalism, Facebook, Twitter. If you compare their readership to all those other outlets... and if you look at how badly they tried to destroy him during the primaries, and he came through and won..."
How much credit does Hollywood think the Tea Party groups and other like-minded organizations played in this victory?
"It all goes back to caucus training -- getting people engaged in the process at the time, and making them understand the importance of the primary election," she says. "We educated people and gave them the tools to get involved, and we gave voice to people who'd had it with the election process -- and we broke records not just in Republican primary turnout, but in first-time voters in a primary. So we're being heard. Maybe our outreach doesn't go to millions of people, but when you think about the thousands of people we do reach, it shows that we're making a difference. People have been silent for so long, and they don't want to be silent anymore.
"We were told what we wanted was impossible -- that there was no reason to even try. Right up until primary day, we kept being told we were going to end up with Jane Norton and Scott McInnis. I can't tell you how many people told me that. And we said, 'I don't care. We're going to do this anyway.' And we did -- and when we succeeded, it gives you a lot of faith in the process. And it lets people on the outside know they really can have an influence."
Now, Hollywood says, the NCTP's focus will be on broadening its outreach beyond Republicans to the thousands of unaffiliated voters in Colorado, "because I think our message will resonate across the political spectrum.
"You'll also see us getting a lot of boots on the ground to get behind the candidates we support. And once November is over, it'll be time to hold whoever gets elected accountable. I will lead the way personally if I have to. And we're looking forward to the opportunity to actually recruit candidates from the beginning, so we can start putting all that we've learned to use from day one -- not just supporting the best candidates available, but promoting candidates from the county level up."
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In other words, Hollywood hopes that when a future gubernatorial candidate is picking a lieutenant governor, that person will have a pool of Tea Party-approved prospects from which to choose.
Update: The time when Dan Maes will share his lieutenant governor selection has been made public. Learn more in this post: "Dan Maes to Announce Lieutenant Governor Pick at Noon Today."
Update two: Dan Maes is expected to announce that Tambor Williams will be his running mate. Learn more in this post: "Tambor Williams, Dan Maes's New Running Mate, a Longtime Insider, Not a Revolutionary."
Update three: Check out our coverge of the announcement: "Dan Maes Calls Tambor Williams 'Establishment Conservative' at Lieutenant Governor Press Event."