DENVER — In its final get out the vote effort ahead of Tuesday’s Republican primaries, Rocky Mountain Gun Owners and other conservative activists backing Laura Woods in state senate district 19 are calling voters to warn them that Woods’ opponent, Lang Sias, is receiving help from a “liberal millionaire homosexual.”
The attack line has been going around for a few weeks, first as part of a direct mail piece from a group called the National Family Coalition (registered to an RMGO ally based in Virginia) that depicted Sias as a monkey alongside text stating that his campaign “is funded by millionaire homosexual activist Tim Gill through Colorado Concern.”
Gill, the software executive whose personal resources helped turn Colorado from red to blue and who’s led the push for LGBT equality through his Gill Foundation, is a board member of Colorado Concern, an organization of more than 100 area CEOs.
While Sias has not received personal financial contributions from Gill, it’s true that Colorado Concern has spent around $50,000 through an independent expenditure committee to help Sias stave off the primary challenge from Woods, believing that the race is critical to Republicans’ chances of winning a senate majority in November.
Colorado Concern has spent its money on a mail piece and a voter turnout operation.
“It was an easy call for us to get behind Lang Sias,” Tamra Ward, Colorado Concern’s CEO, told FOX31 Denver. “We think from day one in the Senate he’ll be an effective leader for jobs and economic growth and he will represent the people in his district well.
“Look at his background. Whether it’s in the military or business or pushing for great schools he has been a leader who gets things done. We know his background and that’s a good preview of how he will lead in the Senate.
“We need more people who will stand up, stand on principle and lead. Plus he can win in November.”
Most establishment Republicans agree that Woods, who is a strong supporter of personhood — twice rejected by Colorado voters — and school vouchers, is too conservative to beat Democratic state Sen. Rachel Zenzinger of Arvada in November in one of the most competitive senate districts in the state.
“Gill is one of the architects of the Democratic majority in Colorado,” said Rob Witwer, a former Republican state lawmaker and the co-author of The Blueprint, which details how Gill and three other progressive millionaires helped build a political infrastructure that enabled Colorado’s Democratic takeover.
“Why would he want to help Lang Sias, the GOP candidate who poses the greatest threat to the Democratic majority in the state senate? That makes no sense.”
The dynamic is similar in the senate district 22 race, also in bellwether Jefferson County, where attorney Mario Nicolais, a moderate who led a Republican group that supported civil unions, is being challenged by Tony Sanchez, who just moved to Colorado but who is backed by RMGO.
“Republican aspirations to win a senate majority for the first time in 12 years really rest on these two primaries Tuesday night,” former Colorado GOP Chairman Dick Wadhams told FOX31 Denver.
“It comes down to: do you want a Democratic state senate? Or do you want a Republican state senate. Lang Sias can win. Mario Nicolais can win. Their opponents cannot. They just don’t fit these districts.
“What we need are Republicans who can articulate conservative principles in a way that attracts swing voters. Extreme rhetoric doesn’t do that.”