It seems somehow fitting that Ted Harvey's late father was a celebrated combat fighter pilot who duked it out with communism in the skies over Vietnam. The junior Harvey of course went on to do battle in his own right, becoming an unrelenting Republican pit bull and conservative spear carrier throughout his many years in Colorado's General Assembly. The native of GOP heartland El Paso County who nowadays is a family man in equally Republican DougCo, remains an all-around political play maker for Colorado's right.
A chip off the old block?
"... Many would think he would be my hero," Harvey says of his dad in this week's Q&A, "but they would be wrong."
"My hero is my mom."
Harvey tells us why his family's matriarch was in fact the one who had the biggest impact on his world view and served as his greatest inspiration; keep reading for a backstory that's both heart-rending and uplifting.
He also recounts in detail how and why he believes his party lost its hold on power in Colorado; assesses President Trump's prospects in Colorado in November, and explains why he thinks an upcoming statewide ballot proposal to "air-drop" wolves into the state is a very bad idea.
Colorado Politics: You put in a long stretch as an elected lawmaker at the State Capitol, entering the House in 2001 and leaving the Senate after two terms at the beginning of 2015. During your tenure, your party was at turns in the majority and the minority, so you have experience as the underdog and at wielding the upper hand. Does the latest power shift following the 2018 election — handing control of all state government to the Democrats — represent something more than just another swing of the pendulum? What do you think caused that sea change, and is it possible Colorado overall is tilting leftward for the foreseeable future?
Ted Harvey: Yes, I served 13 years in the Colorado legislature. It was an incredible honor, but it was also one the most frustrating times of my life. There were many reasons for the takeover of our state. First and foremost, there was a tremendously well-funded, focused and organized small group of far-left activists who set their sights on winning the state legislature and Governor’s Office.
The takeover began in 2000 with the all-important redistricting process. As everyone involved in politics understands, every 10 years the federal Census is taken to determine the national population. Based on this census, every 10 years all congressional and state legislative districts are redrawn to assure equal representation.
Well in 2000, just prior to the start of the redistricting process, a group of well-funded Democrat strategists put an initiative on the Colorado ballot which, if passed, would have essentially eliminated any development along the Front Range. This initiative massively distracted Republican leaders, and rather than focusing on legislative races, the Republican governor, the GOP state party and the Colorado Home Builders Association invested an inordinate amount of time and tens of millions of dollars into fighting this initiative. In the end it was defeated by a two-to-one vote, but for the Democrats, the distraction worked. In the same election, the Republicans lost the majority in the Colorado State Senate for the first time in 38 years — by one vote. This shocking outcome resulted in a Democratic Senate majority controlling the redistricting process that would impact legislative and congressional races for the next decade.
The legislative redistricting process in Colorado is done by an 11-person commission. Each of the four legislative leaders appoints one member of the commission. The governor appoints three, and the chief justice of the Supreme Court is tasked with appointing four unaffiliated, unbiased members to the committee. However, in 2000 the Colorado Supreme Court chief justice was an unprecedented partisan activist. Rather than appointing four unbiased members to the committee, the chief justice appointed four left-leaning activists including two former Democratic county chairs to fill her four appointments. These four “independent voices” actively worked with Democratic appointees on the committee to redraw the legislative district boundaries in such a way that it put the GOP in the minority for most of the next 10 years.
Additionally, in 2000, state law required redistricting congressional district boundaries to be done by the state legislature. The redistricting maps were to be incorporated into a bill and passed by the both chambers of the legislature and then sent to the governor for signature. However, because the Democrats now held a one-vote majority in the state Senate, they refused to work with the Republican-controlled House on any compromise maps. Therefore, no bill was passed prior to the end of the 120-day legislative session. This resulted in the entire congressional redistricting process being thrown into litigation. This litigation eventually resulted in the finalized congressional redistricting maps being redrawn by the aforementioned, biased Supreme Court chief justice. The court eventually approved a congressional redistricting map that was drawn by the Democrats.
Following the 2000 election, and the resulting legislative and the congressional redistricting process, the die had been cast. The Democrats would control the entire political process and therefore the destiny of Colorado for much of the next 20 years.
- Chairman of the Committee to Defend the President, a super PAC supporting President Trump.
- Campaign director for the Stop the Wolf PAC Issue Committee.
- Represented Douglas County's District 30 in the Colorado Senate, 2007-2015. Represented District 43 in the Colorado House, 2001-2006.
- Previously served as district office manager for then-5th Congressional District Republican U.S. Rep. Joel Hefley; was a staffer, at 22 years old, in the Reagan White House.
- Earned a bachelor's degree from Colorado State University and a master's degree in public administration from the University of Colorado at Denver's Graduate School of Public Affairs.
CP: Some ex-pols leave the game and never look back; you, on the other hand, haven’t really left politics at all. Among your other current endeavors, you took the reins last month of the “Stop the Wolf” PAC, which is fighting Initiative 107 on the upcoming November ballot to introduce wolves into Colorado’s wilds. Give us your take on that issue.
Harvey: I am passionate about our country and the beautiful state of Colorado. Unfortunately, all of the things I love about this country and state are under assault by the radical socialists who control the Democratic Party today.
Evil prevails when good men sit and do nothing — and in Colorado, evil is prevailing. That is why I am unable to ride off into the sunset and never look back. I am not wired that way. The future of Colorado is at stake for generations to come.
I was outraged when I witnessed radical out-of-state interests come into Colorado and invest over a million dollars to put an initiative on the ballot to air-drop Canadian Grey Wolves into the backyards of our Western Slope neighbors. So, when a broad coalition of conservationists, outdoor enthusiasts, hunters, farmers, ranchers, and wildlife management professionals approached me to lead the effort to defeat the initiative, I immediately said yes.
A forced introduction of the Canadian Gray Wolf into Colorado’s well-managed ecosystem will have irreversible and devastating effects on our native elk, moose, and deer populations, and will also encourage the spread of deadly disease among humans, pets, wildlife, and livestock. Additionally, it will create immediate conflict with Colorado’s growing population, and will pose a dangerous and deadly threat to pets, humans and livestock across the region as these wolves will certainly migrate into the Front Range.
Finally, this is completely unfair and devastating to the native wolf of Canada. This initiative would require us to uproot these wolves from their vast native habitat and drop them into a foreign environment, where they will be at immediate odds with a population of 6 million people.
Even former Gov. Hickenlooper’s administration, after being advised by the experts at the Colorado Division of Parks and Wildlife, opposed forced wolf introduction into Colorad — and so should you.
CP: You also chair the Committee to Defend the President, one of the country’s largest PACs devoted to re-electing President Trump. Republicans arguably have reason to cheer for now, in the face of what seems to be a divided Democratic Party; whatever the president’s prospects nationwide, why does he have a harder time in Colorado? Does he have a chance to win here?
Harvey: I think Trump will be very competitive in Colorado in 2020. The president has signed historic international trade deals. He passed the biggest tax cut ever recorded. His aggressive policies on immigration have dropped illegal crossings to a fraction of what it was during the Obama administration. And, despite Democratic Party obstruction, Trump is finally building hundreds of miles of wall along our southern border. All of these changes have resulted in a historic booming economy.
In 2016, I believe there was a massive under-vote for Trump by evangelical voters throughout Colorado. This will definitely NOT happen in 2020. Trump has been the most aggressive defender of life and of religious freedom of any president in our nation’s history. Evangelical Christians will not only passionately vote for Trump in November, but they will walk door-to-door, make phone calls and stuff envelopes. The conservative base of our party is more energized and mobilized than ever before. Not only will Trump be competitive in Colorado, I predict he will turn our state red and help Sen. Cory Gardner win re-election as well.
CP: You grew up in GOP stronghold Colorado Springs and are raising a family of your own in equally Republican Douglas County. What other influences inspired your world view and shaped our politics?
Harvey: My dad was an Air Force fighter pilot. He was one of the first 10 people to fly twice the speed of sound. He flew 178 missions in the Vietnam War. He was a legend. Many would think he would be my hero — but they would be wrong. My hero is my mom. You see, after safely returning from Vietnam without a scratch, my father at the age of 38, died of a massive heart attack. My mother who had only a high school education was left a widow with three kids under the age of 12. This woman lifted herself up by her boot straps, got a real-estate license and went to work. All three kids went to college, and two of them hold master’s degrees. My sister is a successful business owner; my brother is one of our nation’s highest-ranking foreign service officers, and her youngest son served in the Colorado state Senate.
So, you ask what other influences in my life inspired my worldview and shaped my politics; you need look no further than my mother — my hero. She didn’t abide excuses, and she proved that no matter what life throws you, if you live in America — the greatest country on the face of the earth — and put your nose to the grindstone, you can achieve success. You can provide for your family and can leave a legacy that will bless others for generations to come.
CP: What was your greatest accomplishment during your time in the legislature, and what was your greatest disappointment?
Harvey: I had many accomplishments I am proud of during my tenure in the legislature. I am certainly proud to have sponsored the only restriction of abortion ever passed in Colorado — the Parental Notification Act. This historic law requires abortion providers to involve the parents of minor children in this life-altering medical procedure. And most importantly, if this law saves just one innocent unborn life, then my entire 13-year political career will have eternal value.
My greatest disappointment would certainly be the failure of the Republican Party to defeat the liberal takeover of our political system here in Colorado. You need not look further than the rat-infested tent city across the street from the State Capitol to see the effects of liberal utopian policies. The radical left ideology which has prevailed in Colorado over the last 20 years will have lasting and devastating impacts on our children and families.
CP: Name a Democrat you served with whom you admired and tell us why.
Harvey: Without a doubt the Democrat I admired most during my tenure in the legislature was then-Senate President Peter Groff. He boldly and unapologetically did what he believed was right, regardless of the political blowback that he might receive from partisan Democrat critics. He was a passionate advocate for school choice and for providing the best educational opportunities for Colorado kids regardless of their zip code.
Most importantly, as president of the Senate, Peter Groff was the one courageous Democrat vote needed to pass the Parental Notification Act. He was a passionate supporter of parental rights, and for that he was willing to risk not only his leadership position, but also his Senate seat in the next election.
CP: You ran for Congress in the then-lopsidedly Republican 6th District; it’s a whole new ballgame there nowadays, of course. Will there ever be another opportunity for Ted Harvey to run for office, and what position would it be?
Harvey: I am not interested in running for office again. I do find it tremendously rewarding to lead the fight across a variety of fronts both nationally and locally to defend free markets, free enterprise and free people.