Forty Years Ago This Week: House Democrats, the chamber’s minority party, were up in arms over Republican reapportionment plans after Colorado gained an additional congressional seat.
And, in a surprise move, a Republican was whistleblowing against his party’s own plan. Rep. Jim Lee, R-Lakewood, told his Democratic colleagues that: “The Republican plan for reapportionment, which gives a clear majority in five of six districts to the GOP, is too lopsided in favor of Republicans. The Democrats are being totally excluded.”
House Minority Leader Federico Peña, D-Denver, said that Republicans were adopting a “highly partisan plan” all the while their public relations advertising strategy “espouses fairness.”
“The GOP plan virtually guarantees the reelection and job security for Republican Congressmen Hank Brown and Ken Kramer,” Peña said.
In other news, Republican gossip was flourishing around the upcoming gubernatorial race into which a seemingly reluctant Phil Winn’s name had been dropped. The former state Republican chairman was currently the assistant director of housing at the Department for Housing and Urban Development, a position to which he’d been appointed by President Reagan.
Winn for Governor proponents said that they already had over $1.5 million pledged in support of his candidacy, even though Congressman Hank Brown had been named the favorite at a recent meeting of GOP county chairmen.
Republicans had even named a potential running mate — state Sen. Paul Powers, R-Denver, for lieutenant governor, thereby creating a memorable Winn-Powers ticket.
Twenty Years Ago: Former U.S. Attorney Tom Strickland announced his candidacy as Democratic candidate for Senate in a three-day tour around Colorado.
In a short speech in Westminster, Strickland pledged to run a “different kind of campaign” devoid of personal attacks and called on Republican incumbent Wayne Allard to do the same.
“This time I’m going to make it clear what I stand for and who I am,” Strickland said.
In 1996, Strickland admitted that he’d allowed Allard’s camp to effectively label him as a “lawyer-lobbyist” with strong connections to “The Firm” of Brownstein, Hyatt and Farber. At the time Strickland was also a partner in the firm.
Since 1996, when Strickland had lost by more than 73,000 votes, Republican voter registration had increased to outnumber Democrats by more than 160,000.
But Strickland said he remained undaunted in the face of rising Republican voter numbers.
“If I am fortunate enough to become the Democratic nominee, I am going to ask for people’s support based on strong principles and values, not just on party labels,” Strickland told the Westminster crowd.
Even with his early announcement, Strickland did not have the Democratic nomination in the bag. Denver District Attorney Bill Ritter had also made it clear that he was interested in the race.
In other news, Secretary of State Colin Powell formally swore in Colorado’s own Jim Nicholson as the sixth ambassador extraordinary and plenipotentiary to the Holy See, (The Vatican). The ceremony was conducted in the Franklin Room of the State Department and was attended by nearly 200 people.
“Jim Nicholson exemplifies the best of the military code of ‘duty, honor, country’ and,” Powell added, “family.”
Powell also said that when President George W. Bush met with Pope John Paul II in Rome, he praised Nicholson as a man of deep faith, commitment and dedication.
Nicholson said that his mission as ambassador was to work toward the mutual goals of the United States and the Vatican to “build a world of peace, democracy and justice.”
Nicholson formerly served as chair of the Republican National Committee and during his tenure was credited with building grassroots membership, technological advances and raising record amounts of contributions. Nicholson served as an Army Ranger and paratrooper in Vietnam and retired with the rank of colonel.
Rachael Wright is the author of the Captain Savva Mystery series, with degrees in Political Science and History from Colorado Mesa University, and is a contributing writer to Colorado Politics and The Gazette.