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April 16th, 2024                 Len’s Political Note #636 Trisha Calvarese Colorado 04 Special Election                 

June 25th, 2024                    Special Election

Special Circumstances for a special election.  I try to limit my Notes to competitive elections.  It is astonishing to think of Colorado 04 as competitive for a Democrat.  This is a Republican district. Republicans carried the district in every presidential, senate, and governor election since 2000 and before.  With the exception of one term Betsy Markey, Republicans have held Colorado 04 at since 1972.

2024 is an unusual year.

Begin with the Republicans Congress’s disarray.  Ken Buck was the Congressman from Colorado’s Fourth Congressional District.  Deeply conservative, he joined the self-described Freedom Caucus.  Among his credentials for the group was his fiscal conservatism and his opposition to the enforcement of anti-trust laws.  A native of upstate New York, he went to and played football for Princeton.  After college he went west.  He worked for Wyoming’s legislative services entity, got a JD from the University of Wyoming, and went to work for the Wyoming Congressman, Dick Cheney.  That Dick Cheney, who is remembered for manipulating the United States into war with Iraq, mentored principled conservatives like his daughter Liz and like Ken Buck invites further investigation into Dick Cheney’s behavior.

In November, Buck announced he would not run for Congress again.  He thought his party’s “narratives” about the 2020 election and other matters created a dangerous cynicism about American politics, a cynicism which he felt eroded the country’s confidence in and adherence to the rule of law.  In March, further disturbed by the behavior of his own party, he announced his resignation from Congress.  Among the consequences of that decision was the further slimming of the Republicans already narrow majority in the House of Representatives.

Ken Buck’s announcement that he would not run again attracted at least a baker’s dozen of fellow Republicans interested in running and nearly a half dozen Democrats ready to take a chance that CO 04 would elect one of them.  One of the group of Republicans was a surprise.  Congresswoman Lauren Boebert, in danger of losing to Adam Frisch in western Colorado’s CO 03, announced a switch.  She would take her million dollars or so of campaign money and run in eastern Colorado’s CO 04.

Ken Buck’s resignation created a problem for Boebert and an opportunity for the Democrats.  Boebert was not so close with the CO 04 Republican leaders that she could expect to be named the Republican nominee by the district’s vacancy committee for the Special Election.  This was a problem for her because the Republican nominee would probably be elected in the special and would have an edge for the nomination for the general election.

Lauren Boebert urged the Republican vacancy committee to choose a candidate who would not run in the general election.  After a struggle, they did exactly that.  They chose the former mayor of Parker, a town of 60,000 people that has become a suburb of Denver.  Greg Lopez is the Republican nominee for the special election on June 25.  He will not be on the June 25 primary ballot that will choose the nominee for the November election.

Greg Lopez brings some baggage.  Thirty years ago, his wife filed a complaint about domestic violence.  In response, he filed a complaint.  She agreed to share the blame.  She had struck the first blow.  He had knocked her down and kicked her.  They both point out they are still married to each other.

Twenty years ago, he was charged with driving under the influence. The arrest cost him $10,000.  He explains he believes he should always be early.  “I have a tendency to have a heavy foot.”  But at $700 or $800 per drink, he says he does not drive after he has been drinking.

Ten years ago, he misused his influence as the previous director for the Small Business Administration in Colorado, an appointment made by the Obama administration in 2008.  The problem originated with the failure to include a PTSD treatment center at a VA Hospital being built in Aurora.  Construction of the hospital was four years overdue.  Contractors complained they weren’t getting paid.  The press was commenting on cost overruns. Lopez claims he was forced out of his job because he tried to get contractors paid.  After he was out of the job, whatever he was trying to do, he kept on trying.  In 2020, he paid $15,000 as part of a settlement for improperly attempting to exercise his influence as a former Director of the state office.

Lopez has a platform that is grounded in his religious beliefs.  A former Roman Catholic, he is a member of the Rock Evangelical Church in Castle Rock.  Abortion, he says, should be illegal under all circumstances.  He says the jury is out regarding whether action is needed to address climate change. He is disturbed about the sexualization of children in school and the teaching of Critical Race Theory.  He explains he is Hispanic and has never encountered systemic racism.

Trisha Calvarese is a legitimate Democratic candidate.  Her selection took three rounds of voting by the Democratic vacancy committee.  Of the 250 delegates who were eligible to vote, 118 participated.  In the first two rounds. Marine Veteran Ike McCorkle and political science professor Karen Breslin were eliminated.  In the final round, Trisha Calvarese received nearly two thirds of the votes, defeating addiction recovery advocate John Padora.

The special election will be held on June 25.  That will coincide with the Democratic primary as well as the Republican primary.  With her name on the ballot twice, Trisha Calvarese can be in a position to defeat a weaker and extreme Republican candidate to become the incumbent and be the Democratic nominee as she runs to be in Congress for two full years.

Appearing on a local television’s “Colorado Point of View” she addressed the issue on which Democrats are much vulnerable — immigration.  Trisha Calvarese began by saying she had just provided end-of-life care to both of her parents.  “… [T]here were migrants who were part of that care team.  Migrants are in our fields.  They’re working for our farmers.  They are a critical part of our economy.”  She was critical of CO 03 Congresswoman Lauren Boebert, who may well be the Republican CO 04 nominee, for voting against added resources to protect the southern border.  To finish that up, she said a wall or a fence serves more as a guidepost to prospective migrants than it  prevents people from coming.

Trisha Calvarese has been bold.  After living in Sterling, where her dad is an attorney, and completing her K-12 schooling in Highlands Ranch, she went to Johns Hopkins on an academic scholarship.  Graduating into a financial crisis, she persuaded the Bernie Sanders campaign to take her on as an intern to the press aid.  She had some income, having received a fellowship from the Women’s Campaign Forum.

With that internship, she was on her way.  She worked on campaigns including a presidential campaign.  She managed a congressional campaign in Pennsylvania’s 14th Congressional District. Trisha Calvarese thenwent to work for the AFL-CIO.  She lobbied, helping to shape the infrastructure law and the CHIPs law.  She became the leader in the AFL-CIO’s communication about the Inflation Reduction and climate change law.

She joined the National Science Foundation’s Office of Legislative and Public Affairs.  Less a lobbyist than a supporter of friendly Members of Congress, she wrote speeches and won an award for speech writing.

She learned a lot from her parents.  Her Republican father, as he was dying, urged her to take on this task and run for Congress.  The issues section of her campaign website reflects an appreciation of her Republican family sensibilities and background.  There are only five issues she raises:

  • American Competitiveness: Discover, invent, and make it here.
  • Economic Security: Good jobs, lower costs, smart education.
  • Strong Families: Choice, care, tech
  • Colorado Resilience: Farmers, water, energy
  • Democracy: Defend, debate, democratize

She is running to win the seat in this thoroughly Republican district.  DONATE TO TRISHA CALVARESE.

Close races in Colorado and neighboring states

The House of Representatives


Colorado 03.  Former candidate and former city councilor Adam Frisch will be the Democratic nominee for this jagged L shaped district that includes western Colorado and much of the southern part of the state as well.  Having lost by a tiny margin in 2022 without resources, this moderate, business-oriented Democrat raised money, lots of it, for 2024.  He entered 2024 with $5.1 million and drove incumbent Lauren Boebert to run in CO 04.  Do you need to DONATE TO ADAM FRISCH? Probably not.  Postcards reminding people to vote might be a better focus.

Colorado 04 Political insider Trisha Calvarese is the Democratic nominee for the June 25 special election.  She needs resources now. DONATE TO TRISHA CALVARESE.  What are her chances?  One of the candidates in the primary, Ike McCorkle, paid for a poll that was completed at the end of March.  He led Boebert by 7 points, trailed another potential Republican nominee by 8.  Against Boebert, at least, it is not inconceivable that a Democrat could win.

Colorado 08 Incumbent Yadira Caraveo v either State Rep Gabe Evans or State Rep Janek Joshi.  Winner of a close race in 2022, there are no polls for this district yet.  At the start of 2023, pediatrician and incumbent Yadira Caraveo had $1.3 million.  Evans had $200,000 and Joshi had not begun raising money.  More earnest than charismatic, she had tended to low-income children as a doctor. Her campaign website speaks to Coloradans about containing rising costs, supporting agriculture, key in this district that stretches north from Denver to Greeley, and supporting other industries crucial to the state – science, aerospace, and energy.  DONATE TO YADIRA CARAVEO. Keep her ahead in the money race.



Kansas 03. Incumbent Sharice Davids will probably face Health Care Executive Pranath Reddy in November.  Sharice Davids is a member of the Ho-Chunk people and the daughter of a single mom in the military.  She went from a hard scrabble life in Kansas City to law school at Cornell to a high-powered law firm that made her uncomfortable.  She tried mixed martial arts then returned home to help Native Americans and others create businesses. She is running for a fourth term representing a district that stretches south from Kansas City.  She began 2024 with $1.6 million.  Her probable opponent had $400,000.  She will need to stay ahead of him.  DONATE TO SHARICE DAVIDS.



Nebraska 02. State Senator Tony Vargas is running against Incumbent and former general Don Bacon. Bacon was a kind of leader of Moderate Republicans, making himself vulnerable as he caved, time and again, to extremist Republicans.  Tony Vargas grew up on Long Island and came to Nebraska by way of Teach for America. He has become a Democratic leader in the state and, perhaps, the leader of Nebraska’s Hispanics.  A Democratic funded poll in February showed him leading the incumbent by 3 points in this district which stretches from Omaha west.  Tony Vargas has been competing financially.  He entered 2024 with $1.1 million, behind, but not that far behind the incumbent who had $1.5 million.  DONATE TO TONY VARGAS. Your donation could help him win.


New Mexico

New Mexico 02. Gave Vasquez is running against his predecessor Yvette Herrell for a district that has a history of regularly changing hands.  Gene Vasquez had been a city councilor and a kind of people’s conservationist before he was elected to Congress in 2022, defeating realtor Yvette Herrell.  The district is slightly more Democratic after redistricting.  Nevertheless, a September poll found Herrell leading by a point.  Gabe Vasquez, on the other hand, had a financial lead at the start of 2024: $1.2 million to $800,000.  DONATE TO GABE VASQUEZ. It could make a difference between winning and losing.


US Senator

Nebraska A. Labor Leader Dan Osborn may be the most intriguing candidate for the US Senate in 2024.  He is running against incumbent Deb Fischer.  She has avoided making herself a notorious enemy of the people unlike some of the Republicans running this round (Ted Cruz of Texas, Rick Scott of Florida, Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee, Josh Hawley of Missouri).  She succeeded in making herself so much of a nonentity that she was behind Dan Osborn by 2 points in a poll when very few respondents had any idea who he was.  He is an independent, a man who participated in leading a recent, successful strike against Kellogg’s and was fired for his troubles.  He will probably be endorsed by Nebraska’s Democrats, but he will not ask for that endorsement.  And he could just fulfill the promise of that poll and defeat Deb Fischer. It will not be easy.  She entered 2024 with $3.3 million. Dan Osborn needs help.  DONATE TO DAN OSBORN.

New Mexico Inc Martin Heinrich has an opponent he and we have to take seriously —  businesswoman Nella Domenici.  Martin Heinrich is the son or a seamstress and the stepson of a utility company lineman.  Less a moderate in his politics than an independent, he has supported conservation issues and opposed banning fracking; he has been a member of the NRA and supported gun safety measures.  He is running for a third term. His probable Republican opponent is like many of the 2024 Republican candidates.  She is from out of state and extremely wealthy, with some in state ties.  In her case she was the CFO of a corporation that runs hedge funds.  She is also the daughter of Pete Domenici who served six terms as US Senator from New Mexico.  She could probably pay for her campaign out of her own pocket.  Still, she raised over a million dollars shortly after entering the race.  Martin Heinrich entered 2024 with $3.5 million.  He will need more. DONATE TO MARTIN HEINRICH.


 We have a presidential race to win
Support Joe Biden and Kamala Harris

As we look toward November, 2024, help sustain the Joe Biden and Kamala Harris campaign. Eleven polls between April 1 and April 10 found Trump ahead in 6 of them ranging from +1 to +6, Biden ahead in 4 of them ranging from +1 to +4.  One poll was even. Every donation, large or small, makes a difference.  Larger donations mean more money for the campaign.  But large numbers of small donations are a measure of enthusiasm for the candidate.  Make a small donation if you cannot afford a large one.   DONATE TO JOE BIDEN AND KAMALA HARRIS.  See Len’s Political Note #605
#17 in the Stephenson County, IL list of Biden accomplishments: Boosted the budget of the internal revenue service by nearly $80 billion over a ten year period to reduce tax evasion and increase revenue.