Bob McConnell speaks at a reception for delegates to the Republican county assembly at Creekside Cafe & Grill on Monday evening. McConnell is running for Congress in the state’s 3rd Congressional District.

Photo by John F. Russell

Bob McConnell speaks at a reception for delegates to the Republican county assembly at Creekside Cafe & Grill on Monday evening. McConnell is running for Congress in the state’s 3rd Congressional District.

McConnell campaign counts on constituents’ anger, tea party principles

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Bob McConnell listens to a question at a reception for delegates to the Republican county assembly at Creekside Cafe & Grill on Monday evening.

photo

Bob McConnell speaks at a reception for delegates to the Republican county assembly at Creekside Cafe & Grill on Monday evening. McConnell is running for Congress in the state's 3rd Congressional District.

photo

Bob McConnell speaks at a reception for delegates to the Republican county assembly at Creekside Cafe & Grill on Monday evening.

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■ Learn more about Bob McConnell, Republican candidate for Congress, at this site. Contact McConnell at bob@mcconnellforc... or 970-846-4907.

■ Learn about Republican Congressional candidate Scott Tipton, a state representative from Cortez, at this site. Contact him at scott@votetipton.com or 970-985-8699.

■ Learn about the Democratic incumbent, U.S. Rep. John Salazar of the San Luis Valley, at this site. Call his Grand Junction office at 970-245-7107 or his Washington office at 202-225-4761.

— Say what you will about Bob McConnell’s odds — it won’t slow him down.

It might only make him angrier.

The fiery Steamboat Springs resident, military veteran, ski patroller, Copenhagen chewer and Republican candidate for Congress is campaigning relentlessly across the Western Slope, despite the long odds of a potential primary against Republican state Rep. Scott Tipton, of Cortez, and, should McConnell get on that ballot and succeed in August, a potential general election against Democratic three-time incumbent U.S. Rep. John Salazar, of the San Luis Valley.

Salazar is a member of the powerful House Appropriations Committee and resoundingly defeated Tipton two years ago. Through Dec. 31, according to the campaign finance Web site www.opensecrets.org, Salazar had nearly $850,000 in campaign funds on hand. Tipton had more than $102,000.

McConnell had about six grand.

But the self-proclaimed “Cow­­­­­boy Colonel,” a former U.S. Army Airborne Ranger, has spent the past several months driving across the 29 counties in Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District, hoping to capitalize on a tea party movement made up of residents who share his anger with the federal government. Anger with federal spending, anger with recent health care legislation, anger with the size of government in general.

“This is not the United Socialist States of America — this is the United States of America,” North Routt County resident B.J. Vale said Monday at Creekside Cafe, during a reception McConnell hosted for county Republican delegates.

At that reception, Routt County resident and delegate Joe Meglen talked about the “parasites” in Washington. Gerry Greenwood, of Oak Creek, said it seemed to him that McConnell “has been doing a lot of rat-killing in his life, and I think he’ll do a lot of rat-killing in Washington.”

On his first trip down the campaign trail, McConnell already knows how to fan those flames. On Monday, he borrowed a line from former Alaska governor and vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin, who has drawn huge crowds to tea party rallies and made headlines recently for a Web post that placed cross hairs on the districts of several Democratic candidates, including Salazar, who voted for the health care overhaul.

McConnell used that imagery when describing “phase four” of his campaign.

“Put John Salazar in my cross hairs and take him out,” McConnell said. “I mean take him out by voting.”

‘Angry mob of 1’

Dick Wadhams, chairman of the Colorado Republican Party, said tea partiers and followers of ideologically similar movements — such as the 9.12 Project and, locally, the Steamboat Institute’s 1773 Club — are affecting Colorado politics.

“Certainly, tea party and 9/12 advocates did attend caucuses around the state,” Wadhams said. “Clearly, they’ve had a strong impact on the process, and it’s clear that both Scott Tipton and Bob McConnell are seeking support of tea party activists.”

Wadhams noted that Tipton and McConnell also are seeking the support of longtime Republicans.

“My principle is to pull those parties together,” McConnell said about the two groups.

That ability, to unify voters and relate to them on a personal level, is giving McConnell’s campaign its pulse.

McConnell is an attentive conversationalist who often grabs the upper arm of whoever he is speaking with. He’s quick with a story, whether it’s about how he carried a sign that said “I’m an Angry Mob of One” when President Barack Obama visited Grand Junction, about how he can trace his heritage back to the Revolutionary War, or about how a youth recited a paragraph from the Declaration of Independence at a McConnell event in Pueblo.

He “kind of reminded me of my dad,” Greenwood said about McConnell. “My dad was 23 years military.”

Greenwood said he views the candidate as a “straight shooter,” a phrase heard often at Monday’s event. But Greenwood also described his father, and McConnell, as “kind of an idealist” with “real good life experience.”

McConnell, 63, summed up his policy ideas quickly Monday.

“We need a massive reduction in spending,” he said.

McConnell said that could mean abolishing the federal Department of Education — an idea floated by Republican U.S. Senate candidate Jane Norton — moving poverty programs “back to neighborhoods” to reduce dependency on federal programs, and even reorganizing the federal Department of Defense to cut its spending. That’s a rare position for a retired colonel who is the son of a U.S. Navy fighter pilot and said national defense is “the ultimate federal responsibility.”

In order to try to implement any of those policies, the Cowboy Colonel has to defeat Salazar in the fall. Which means he could have to defeat Tipton in a primary. Which means he has to garner enough votes from delegates to get on a primary ballot — no easy feat in a huge district where name recognition, or lack thereof, goes a long way.

McConnell’s trying to correct that lack.

On Saturday, he’ll have to choose among 10 county assemblies across the district. Routt County’s will lose out.

“I’ve got to go to the biggest delegates,” he said, explaining his plans to attend the Mesa County assembly in Grand Junction.

County assemblies don’t include votes on the race for Congress. That’ll happen at 2 p.m. May 21, at the Embassy Suites hotel in Loveland, as part of the 3rd Congressional District’s Republican assembly. GOP delegates from all 29 counties will vote on the Congressional candidates. McConnell and Tipton will need at least 30 percent of those votes to get on an August primary ballot.

“I’m confident I’ll be on the ballot,” McConnell said.

To try to make that happen, he’ll shake a lot more hands before May 21, and get to know a lot more people.

At the Monday night reception, one attendee couldn’t quite figure out how he knew McConnell.

So the candidate fired off a question he thought could jog the man’s memory.

“Are you involved in the 1773 events?”

The man shook his head no, so McConnell took another shot.

“Are you a skier?”

Comments

beentheredonethat 4 years, 6 months ago

Mr. McConnell's beliefs will appeal to the great unwashed, uneducated masses.

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2007 4 years, 6 months ago

“Put John Salazar in my cross hairs and take him out,” McConnell said. “I mean take him out by voting.” Imagery like this is inappropriate and irresponsible. A person who would say something like this, even is jest, is not the kind trigger-happy person I would want representing me. By the way, Pilot, thanks for putting the links into the side of the story to link to the other candidates. I looked at them all but you had a typo in the Salazar link . Should be www.salazarforcongress.com

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flower 4 years, 6 months ago

As a clean, educated professional I will vote for him.

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kathy foos 4 years, 6 months ago

Ahh poor Democrats are running scared now,this is just the beginning and you will see Mr Salazar go to the voting and loose this time,for the health care messup.After all this is not the United socialist states of America.I would be glad to support this man and let us know what to do.By the way, this is only the beginning of democrats running scared now,you cant screw around with the constitution and expect people to support you,you went to far on the health care nonsense,No one is helping with jobs(should have been first priority)or houses,1.2 million households have lost their homes?All you Demos can think of is going into more debt and forcing every american to have health ins.Votes are still free and we can all go to the polls now,thank goodness.Let us know how to support you Mr.McConnell.Good by Salazar.Im not demo, or repub. independent,look out for us this year,Vote free and where it hurts,sorry if that offends you,such harsh words,Caught in the crosshair?

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JLM 4 years, 6 months ago

If Tea Party = Terrorist, then our Nation was founded by a bunch of terrorists. And that's a good thang!

The Tea Party is a movement, an idea --- not a party, a governing philosophy which simply says government should be smaller, more efficient and answerable to its constitutents.

Government should serve the people rather than the people serving the government.

These are hardly radical ideas but yes, I can see where they strike a note of "terror" amongst those bottom feeders and parasites in the Democrat party who are guiding along a radically different path.

Despots are always terrified by thinking men and women --- by ideas which make sense.

We are hardly going to be ill served by putting an Airborne Ranger CIB in charge.

See ya on the high ground!

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flower 4 years, 6 months ago

HAAAhahhahha!! RPG thanks for the laugh, I needed that!

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Kevin Nerney 4 years, 6 months ago

Why is the Tea Party aligning itself with the Republicans? A massive change in Washington should mean throw them all out and start over. The GOP is no better than the Dems. I haven't been following it very closely but I think the Tea Party needs to step up to the plate announce who is taking control of the organization and jump into the fray with both feet. Politics is a dirty game and the Tea Party seems to want to talk about things from outside of the ring and is too fragmented to acccomplish some of their goals.

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Brian Kotowski 4 years, 6 months ago

Kevin Nerney:

With whom should the Tea Party align itself?

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Viper 4 years, 6 months ago

I agree with JLM. I’d like to see Bob McConnell in Congress.

As for you libs, it’s pretty simple:

More Government = Higher Taxes = Fewer Private Sector Jobs = Less Opportunity

The only people who benefit from more government is the bureaucrats in government.

I don’t want a depressed economy and 10% unemployment to become the new normal.

McConnell would be a good choice to get the spending under control and help fix the health care mess the dems have created.

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mmjPatient22 4 years, 6 months ago

Are there still people out there that hold out hope for either of the two big parties in this country?

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robert nestora 4 years, 6 months ago

obama and the democrats want us to be like europe. where your coddled from cradle to grave (unless your an immigrant) it has made them soft. our system may not be perfect but hardwork, honesty (bankers and ed trousil are exempted) and opportunity is what drives our country what would steamboat be if a few didnt have these ethics. we must never forget the people who got us to where we are today and we must strive to try and make them proud of us.

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Fred Duckels 4 years, 6 months ago

George, Today we put our wealth and property at risk, and politicians confiscate it for redistribution in order to attain or maintain office. When the supply runs short they either borrow or print up money to maintain their habit.The recipients of this welfare gladly return the favor by voting for the biggest sugar daddies. We are out of options and we have forgotten the definition of the greater good..

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Angie Robinson 4 years, 6 months ago

As another educated professional, I will be voting for him. Washington is corrupt on BOTH sides of the isle. The only way to clean it up, is to drain the infested pond of "good ol boys" and get people in there who listen to the people, and who are not career politicans. McConnell may be a little rough around the edges for the implanted locals, but he speaks his mind and stands behind it. I like it.

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seeuski 4 years, 6 months ago

The best man will win and the Pelosi brown noser will be done. Go Bob, give em hell.

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Kevin Nerney 4 years, 6 months ago

sep, lilwelder, mmj, Yes throw them all out and start over. YVB, negative vibes don't help. I've been waiting for a 3rd party to break out since I voted for Perot in '92. Tea Partiers stand up and be counted and if the Repub's don't like it they can go away. Those who don't like the Tea Party or the GOP and want the Dems out should start their own "3rd" party. The Whigs disappeared and I'm sure there are others throughout the history of this great country also. So let's have two new players come out of the bullpen and finish the track so the train can continue on for another 230 years. Why is the constitution only a hand full of pages yet, we need libraries full of books to interpret it? To quote Honda ---SIMPLIFY

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Brian Kotowski 4 years, 6 months ago

3rd-party candidacies are nothing more than exercises in vanity.

Ours is not a parliamentary system, where voting for outliers isn’t wasted or counterproductive. A parliamentary party winning 5% can leverage that result into 5% (and in Europe & Israel, often a lot more than 5%) worth of power & influence over the government and policy making. As opposed to American fringe players like Ross Perot, Ralph Nader, or Pat Buchanan, who sucker supporters into squandering their votes on hopeless campaigns.

Our system includes no mechanism which entitles a party winning 20% to an equivalent percentage of Congressional seats, or some fraction of the available cabinet posts. The American framework is winner-takes-all, and structurally designed to support two contenders: win 51%, or hit the road, Ross.

The most an American 3rd-party insurgency can accomplish is to siphon support from one of the two major parties, and increase the likelihood defeat for the party it depletes – while winning NOTHING for itself. That is arguably what Nader did to Gore in 2000; and Perot to Bush 41 in ’92.

The Tea Party as 3rd Party, if it became a national phenomenon in time for 2012, would guarantee a second term for President Obama.

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Cooke 4 years, 6 months ago

Sep -- Can't the argument be made that you have to start a third party to grow it into one of the top two spots?

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freerider 4 years, 6 months ago

yeee haaaw , howdy partners . let's bring back six shooters and the wild wild west , [ spit chew here } and I'm here to say that's the way my daddy did it , and that's the way John Wayne did it and dang it that's the way I do it and if you don't like it then we'll just shoot you and call you a commie and be done with you ....[ spit chew here ]

Ok Bob , if you bring back brothels and gambling halls with dancing girls you get my vote.....

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howard_roark 4 years, 6 months ago

The current Tea Party movement is really nothing new or novel. As far as I am concerned it is just a group of people wanting to be Libertarian without the label. Men like Barry Goldwater and Ron Paul have been speaking the tea party rhetoric for years.

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JLM 4 years, 6 months ago

The Tea Party is an intellectual movement rather than a party apparatus. In much the same way that the French Resistance had a very small core but every Frenchman was opposed to the Nazis.

The Tea Party core is genuine but what is more important is the underlying sentiment of the Americans who support some or all of the principles of smaller government, less intrusive government, less costly government, less government control over our lives, the continued move toward a socialist nanny state, a conservative view of the world, a pro-life view of the world and the outrage that our tax system is so awkward, complex and unfair.

What is beautiful about a "movement" rather than a "party" is that those in the movement can find any of a number of reasons why to vote FOR a particular candidate while those in the party often find themselves finding reasons NOT to vote for a candidate.

The next election will be about rejecting the status quo and the current policies while putting in place elected officials that folks trust.

What lies broken on the cutting room floor is fundamental trust. As a people, we do NOT fundamentally trust politicians of any persuasion. And that makes for a dangerous time. For incumbents.

Witness the number of Democrats who are deciding not to run for re-election and this can only redound to the benefit of the Republicans. Most importantly, it will not be because Republican ideas are judged to be "good" but rather because Democrat ideas are so soundly judged to be "bad".

America is tired already of being screwed.

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jk 4 years, 6 months ago

Yes and it has already forgotten who started the screwing!!

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housepoor 4 years, 6 months ago

hmmmm Marvin Heemeyer was a member of the tea party............I'm sure someone we know has a few of those same dozers? watch out City Hall........oh wait that is where He picks up his checks

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JLM 4 years, 6 months ago

@ gk ---

You have a reading comprehension problem, my friend. Nobody called the President a Nazi. You need to learn how to read and understand. If you do not possess the intellectual gifts to understand an analogy, then perhaps you should not engage in the debate, rube.

Phonies like you pontificating about your ancestry and calling down baloney veteran sentiments make me sick. I am a veteran. My father is a veteran and my late mother was a veteran. We earned the right to participate in and even criticize our democracy.

Phonies like you, even ones with reading comprehension problems, make me want to puke. Phoney!

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trump_suit 4 years, 6 months ago

Sorry JLM. Geroge is right. I have seen Fox news, Republicans and members of the tea party all refer to Our President as a NAZI. they even went so far as to doctor is picture to represent a closer ideal.

Geroge is right on with this complaint. it is untrue, unfair, unnecessarily inflammnatory and just plain wrong... For my conservative firends, it was also wrong when applied to Bush.

That particular historical reference needs to find the trash can, never to be used in american politcs again.

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mmjPatient22 4 years, 6 months ago

JLM-

Do you ever watch any "Family Guy?" "....this guy's a great, big phoney!!!" Good laugh.

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mmjPatient22 4 years, 6 months ago

Could you imagine the mayhem and chaotic idiocy that would have ensued had you not issued the disclaimer about that link? Good catch George.

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JLM 4 years, 6 months ago

"zero Nazi-affiliation"

Aren't we running the high hurdles today? LOL

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sledneck 4 years, 6 months ago

George K. Good spin..."they put their selves, wealth and property on the line for the greater common good". Way to make them sound socialist! No THEY were not terrorists... as if tea partiers are? Whenever you have no argument you use name calling. Shows lack of intellect. Being a fan of "Family Guy" does NOTHING to bolster your intellectual standing Clearsky, If you were such an intellectual giant you could have answered some of the simple questions I put to you about climate change. beentheredonethat, Unwashed? Uneducated? Washed in what? I would argue that a majority of tea partiers are far more educated about the proper role of government than their critics will EVER be.

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mmjPatient22 4 years, 6 months ago

Proper role of government??? Well, that just might be a wholly different conversation.

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stillinsteamboat 4 years, 6 months ago

Some people get that many of us are not paying our fair share of taxes. Read this article from the denver post.

http://www.denverpost.com/business/frontpage/ci_14854460

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sledneck 4 years, 6 months ago

30 years of ski-bumming qualifies you for nothing... not a thing! My qualifications are from 30 years of paying exorbitant taxes for space cadets like you to ski while I work. Your dad would have gone out of his mind at the treatment of GW Bush?... Really? He was called a nazi... probably by YOU! You people are so transparent.

What scares you most is that the time for your glorification is at an end...

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stillinsteamboat 4 years, 6 months ago

you keep your: SARAH PALIN,MICHELE BACHMANN,RUSH LIMBAUGH, GLENN BECK,GUNS, CROSSHAIR, TAXES, SOCIALISM, and PUNDITS......

I will keep my change.

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jimmmmmm 4 years, 6 months ago

Pretty well Yampavalleyboy, pretty well. I, like many others, feel he is doing a great job, considering the circumstances he was left with. Looking forward to more good work.

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sledneck 4 years, 6 months ago

I don't support McConnell. I am a libertarian.

You are right that I assume some things about transparent people. The truth is I don't know how much you paid in taxes and to comment otherwise was wrong on my part.

The first ammendment guarantees a persons right to call the President anything we want. The left did it to Bush, the right is doing it to Obama. From the libertarian side looking in I am ammused by both. Both parties suck and will never get a vote from me.

Having said that, the party that is farther from socialism and communism is more acceptable to me. I am interested in your comments about your dad and grandfather. Did they live in that area and actually experiance those things or were you kidding??

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mmjPatient22 4 years, 6 months ago

I think that more than just the right is doing it to Obama now.

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