Despite having gone down in flames in last month's primary to GOP rival Frank McGregor, who swamped him with 71 percent of the vote, the 59-year-old Gonce continues to fan the flames of political intrigue from his command post in southwest Denver. The only local candidate known to have been both president of the Littleton Kiwanis Club and an inmate in the Denver County Jail, Gonzo is still smarting from the whuppin' he took from McGregor. And the tempestuous real-estate agent, who spent 108 days in the cooler on a domestic-violence rap back in the 1980s, is itching for payback.
Among the recent fightin' words issued by Gonzo (whose resume also includes a long-ago stint as state finance chairman for the Republican Party):
* McGregor, his campaign manager Scott Miller, and Denver City Councilman Ted Hackworth "stalked" Gonzo and stole 412 of his campaign signs. The monetary cost: $2.37 per sign. The cost to society's moral standards: incalculable. "They did it brazenly, right out in the open," says Gonzo.
* McGregor and his campaign workers told voters Gonzo had gone to prison when in fact he had only gone to jail. For this, he told the Colorado Secretary of State last month, they should each be sentenced to jail time and forced to pay him $25,000 apiece. Oh, and McGregor should be removed from the ballot. ("That was totally false," says Gonzo, adding that while in the hoosegow, he learned that exactly 48 percent of the other dudes convicted of slapping their old ladies around were innocent, too: "It was promiscuous women getting false charges because they wanted divorces.")
* All prisoners who admitted beating on their women also had bad teeth, leading to the following conclusion: "I assumed, and still assume, that they had a lot of pain, and they were trying to kill that pain--and any dentist or doctor can tell you that when you've got bad teeth, the poison drains into your system and can cause all kinds of complications. If you fix these people's teeth instead of treating them like a bunch of rattlesnakes, you might cut down on domestic violence and other crimes."
* Ted Hackworth is senile and once worked as a used-car salesman.
Frank "Mac" McGregor, now gearing up for the general election against Democrat Fran Coleman, says he chooses not to comment on Gonce's many accusations. "I don't know where John intends to head from here," he adds. (Hint: Gonce says he plans to sue McGregor and several alleged co-conspirators in Denver District Court.)
Councilman Hackworth, who in fact did once sell used cars, denies either working for McGregor's campaign or stealing signs. "I think the problem with Mr. Gonce is he's lost it," says Hackworth, who actually did work for Gonce back in 1972 when Gonzo ran a losing campaign against Pat Schroeder.
Gonce has since officially withdrawn the complaint in which he accused McGregor et al. of stealing signs. However, he vows to pursue their assorted misdeeds in his promised civil suit. He also pledges to continue his work with the "Center for Judicial Correction," a volunteer group devoted to ousting every single judge now in office in Colorado. "The whole state is filled with nothing more than a cesspool of corruption," says Gonce, who is convinced that anti-male prejudice among liberal Democratic judges allows "women to get away with murder" and has led to the imprisonment of roughly 5,000 innocent men.
Finally, sources say that an unidentified man driving a gray truck and wearing a Harpo Marx wig was spotted trying to uproot a McGregor campaign sign from private property last month but was scared away when an outraged housewife bolted out the front door and yelled at him to get out of her yard. Before leaving the area, the man reportedly cried, "This is war!" There is no conclusive evidence that the man was Johnny Gonce.
Essential redding: Sure, Bill Clinton may be having a bad week, but nothing like Denver Post publisher Ryan McKibben, who, like the Prez, jetted to Russia last week to try to solve some big problems. Contrary to rumor, McKibben wasn't there to find a suitable corner in Siberia for Post sports columnist Mark Kiszla, recently exiled from the Colorado Rockies locker room after he allegedly sneaked a peek into Dante Bichette's locker to see if Bichette was scarfing down steroids along with his linguini. Instead, McKibben was there as part of an ongoing search for cheap newsprint--preferably the kind that doesn't bleed red ink.