A weekly dive into the pages of Colorado Politics' predecessor, The Colorado Statesman, which started in 1898:
Forty Years Ago This Week: Former U.S. President Gerald Ford deigned to congratulate Mary Estill Buchanan after she upended the campaign of his close personal friend Bo Callaway in a tough primary race for the Republican Senate nomination.
Ford met with a group of 300 Mesa County Republicans in Grand Junction and said, while sporting a ‘Buchanan for Senate’ button, “I can tell from our past relationship and from the fact that you ran such a tough, hard-nosed campaign that you’re the kind of candidate Sen. Gary Hart may well regret.”
The president also told the assembled Republicans that it was his great honor to support Buchanan and wear her buttons.
“I suspect you know I wasn’t on your side in the primary, but I made a mistake. I give you my very best and my full support.”
The former president and long-time Vail condo owner traveled three days later from the Western Slope to Colorado Springs, where he endorsed state Sen. Harold McCormick in his 3rd Congressional District race against Democrat incumbent Ray Kogovsek. In addition to McCormick's “tireless efforts on the campaign trail,” Ford said that McCormick’s expertise on water law, defense and fiscal management virtually mandated his election to Congress.
Ford also took the opportunity to praise his friend Callaway for his teamwork.
“Bo is out there still trying to help and assist the party in our efforts to change the senatorial representation, I commend him on a fine campaign,” Ford said. “And I congratulate him on his team spirit. What Bo is doing is indicative of a fine character Bo has.”
The stops in Colorado were just a sliver of Ford’s schedule. Over 53 days he stopped in 30 states to campaign for 14 U.S. Senate candidates, 29 House candidates and 4 gubernatorial candidates.
Thirty Years Ago: At a press conference Adams County Republican Party Chairman Hal Shroyer charged Gov. Roy Romer with “criminal action” based on statements Romer made during the 1988 election on an airport ballot measure.
Shroyer said that according to his interpretation of state election law, it was illegal to make false statements on an issue coming before voters. Romer had done just that, Shroyer alleged, when he wrote a letter stating that if people voted to give away 46 square miles, the FAA might move the regional airline hubs to Kansas City or Phoenix.
Romer intimated that this would result in a severe loss of jobs for the airport, Shroyer told the assembled press. But according to Shroyer, the FAA did not have the authority to decide where hubs are located — that was the purview of airlines — and Romer had deliberately misled voters.
Shroyer and the Adams County GOP were leading a ruthless campaign against Romer. Shroyer’s accusation of criminal action came on the heels of a charge filed two weeks previously by the Adams County Republican Party that alleged that Romer had accepted illegal reimbursements and contributions to his 1986 gubernatorial campaign.
The Secretary of State’s office ruled that there was no violation by Romer.
When contact by The Colorado Statesman, Secretary of State Natalie Meyer’s office said that no one had yet seen the complaint or knew what Shroyer had alleged.
In other news, another president made a whirlwind stop in Colorado, this time President George H.W. Bush, making an appearance at the Colorado Convention Center’s grand ballroom where attendees raised $900,000 for the Republican Party.
Secretary of State Natalie Meyer made a gushing introduction of Bush and first congressional district candidate Gloria Roemer gave the invocation.
Roemer asked that the president be given the wisdom to act correctly in the Persian Gulf crisis and above all, “grant the Colorado Republicans the wisdom and courage to help us help our president in fighting for our ideals.”
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 Colorado Springs Gazette.