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John Hickenlooper campaigners trying not to gloat as Republicans implode

Remember John Hickenlooper? He's running for governor -- but you'd hardly know it given how much attention has been paid to his opponents: alleged plagiarist Scott McInnis, accused lousy businessman Dan Maes, and party-busting Tom Tancredo.

Not that he or his spokespeople are complaining.

About the only negative press Hickenlooper has earned of late came in today's Denver Post, which tried to inflate a minor comment he made at a B-cycle event -- "How do we wean ourselves off automobiles?" -- into a feud with the Colorado Automobile Dealers Association, which is staging a fundraiser on his behalf today.

An inquiry on this subject is among a quartet of queries Hickenlooper spokesman George Merritt responded to via e-mail. In each reply, he tries to remain above the highly entertaining fray. Here's the exchange:

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Westword: Is the ongoing chaos in the Republican Party good for Mayor Hickenlooper's campaign? Or does the situation make it more difficult for him to get attention for talking about the actual issues that are important to him?

George Merritt: John has the credibility and the experience to fix the state's economic challenges. We're going to keep traveling the state talking to people and businesses about our jobs plan, and the chaos has really demonstrated that there is only one candidate in this race focused on real issues.

WW: With even Colorado Republican Party boss Dick Wadhams implying that Tom Tancredo's entry into the race will guarantee Mayor Hickenlooper's election, is there a danger of complacency? How do you guard against that?

GM: That's all politics. People have serious concerns about jobs, education, water -- the list goes on. It's going to take a lot of work to bring people together and solve these issues, and John is working non-stop to develop solutions that will move Colorado forward.

WW: In this morning's Denver Post, an article attempted to equate alleged frustration by auto dealers over a comment Mayor Hickenlooper made at a B-cycle event with Tancredo's entry into the race and the well-documented problems of Scott McInnis and Dan Maes. Did that seem out of proportion -- an attempt to seem evenhanded by inflating the importance of Hickenlooper's comment?

GM: Ha. Mike, I'll leave the media criticism to you, but we're looking forward to our event with the auto dealers tonight.

WW: Given the current optimism about Mayor Hickenlooper's chances, have you seen a flood of new donations? If so, how much has come in over the past week or so? And do you owe the Republicans a thank you for it?

GM: Early next week we have to report the fundraising period that ended last night. We've seen enthusiastic support for John since he entered the race, and our report will show that continuing.

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