DENVER — If you thought civil unions had an outsized impact on a few of Tuesday’s statehouse primaries, you ain’t seen nothing yet.
On Wednesday, liberal activists and donors announced the launch of a new group that will work specifically to target state lawmakers who opposed and twice helped kill civil unions legislation in May.
In short, Tim Gill, the gay millionaire responsible for bankrolling much of Colorado’s infrastructure of progressive political action groups, isn’t wasting time, helping fund the new group Fight Back Colorado, modeled on Fight Back New York, the political action committee that spent $800,000 and successfully removed anti-gay marriage incumbents from office, paving the way for the bill’s passage by the New York state legislature last year.
“I’m no meteorologist but it’s going to be raining rainbow money in Colorado,” one pro-civil unions activist told FOX31 Denver Wednesday.
Gill made a point of attending the hearing last month when GOP lawmakers voted to kill civil unions in a special session just days after House Speaker Frank McNulty decided to put the House into recess on the penultimate night of the regular legislative session in order to run out the clock on civil unions, which had already passed three GOP-controlled committees and was certain to be approved on the floor had it come up for a vote.
In shutting down proceedings in the House, McNulty and House Republicans let 30 other bills die on the calendar as well.
If Gill’s appearance at the Capitol last month was a less than subtle warning, Wednesday’s announcement is confirmation that he plans to follow through and is ready to spend upwards of a few million dollars to ensure that McNulty’s one-seat GOP House majority doesn’t survive November’s election.
“We know that the majority of Coloradans support civil unions,” said Roger Sherman, treasurer for the new group, Fight Back Colorado. “This May, we all were betrayed by House Speaker Frank McNulty, Majority Leader Amy Stephens, and House leadership, who refused to let the Colorado Civil Union Act come to the floor for a vote, killing the bill, and the chance for loving and committed gay couples to be treated fairly.”
Stephens survived a primary challenge Tuesday night from fellow GOP Rep. Marsha Looper; and some Capitol observers have openly questioned whether McNulty’s hard-line stance against civil unions was aimed, at least in part, at saving Stephens from defeat in a primary where Looper was attacking her from the right.
In her safe, right-leaning El Paso County district, Stephens is unlikely to be targeted by Fight Back Colorado; and McNulty isn’t either, given the makeup of his heavily conservative district in Highlands Ranch.
According to a press release from Fight Back Colorado, the group has yet to announce the individual GOP lawmakers it plans to target using direct mail campaigns, telephone calls and even TV and radio ads.
One GOP lawmaker who could be a likely target is Rep. Randy Baumgardner, R-Hot Sulphur Springs, who on Tuesday night defeated Sen. Jean White, R-Hayden, in a primary for the right to run as a Republican for her Senate seat.
Baumgardner, who voted against civil unions after being appointed as a last-minute replacement to the House Judiciary Committee the day it heard the bill, faces a Breckenridge Democrat, Emily Tracy, who is already seeing a boost in fundraising commitments now that she’ll be facing the more conservative Baumgardner, not White.