McInnis-Norton Think Tank Comes to Life with Bizarre, Irony-Rich Poll

Update, 9/25: From this morning’s Denver Post: Sean Tonner said CPI “is not for elections” and “is going to be here long past 2010.” However, Tonner has a long track record of working on elections, and CPI has absolutely no track record as an independent organization. So despite the obvious explanation that there’s no formal relationship between CPI and these campaigns, the claim is dubious. Gulp — I even agree with the Dead Guvs on this one.

I’d been wondering when the new Colorado Policy Institute (CPI) would come to life and do something. So what did they finally do today? Publish a white paper? None of those yet. Post an item or two on their “Issues” page? Nope, still waiting for that to happen. One more guess, readers….

CPI published the results of a survey of issues and candidates (PDF). And what a bizarre, irony-rich survey it is.

The Colorado Springs Business Journal picked up on the finding that 55 percent of Coloradans favor “repealing TABOR, which requires all tax increases to be approved by voters.” And support for repealing TABOR is higher in the Colorado Springs-Pueblo media market. Are we supposed to take this seriously? Is CPI “a heck of a bigger deal” than yours truly?

Well, it gets weirder. From the same sample of people surveyed, 68 percent favored “requiring all fee increases by gov’t be approved by voters” with support again stronger in the Colorado Springs-Pueblo media market. Say what? Were the questions not clear?? Do that many people want to get rid of their right to vote on tax increases while demanding their right to vote on fee increases??? Huh????

The exasperation doesn’t end with the survey’s treatment of issues. The poll also measured support in the crowded Republican U.S. Senate primary between only Jane Norton and Ken Buck. Umm … Ryan Frazier, anyone? CPI ignored the candidate who has demonstrated more grassroots support than any in the field and one of only two candidates in the field to poll ahead of incumbent Michael Bennet?

Otherwise, the candidate polling is a yawn, once again showing that nearly a year ahead of the primary election Norton and former Congressman Scott McInnis have greater name recognition than their counterparts. But why would CPI be pushing the Norton and McInnis bandwagons?

Well, the only name of a real human being associated with CPI is Monica Owens [ed. update: an observant reader says Sean Tonner's name shows up on the press release as CPI executive director, though it's nowhere on the CPI website ... in any case, this only confirms that the group is an extension of Phase Line], an employee of Phase Line Strategies and daughter of former Republican Governor Bill Owens. You may recall months ago then would-be candidate McInnis leaving phone messages declaring that Monica Owens and Phase Line president Sean Tonner were working for him. And no one doubts that Phaseline is all on board for Norton, the Beltway candidate.

So the McInnis-Norton think tank has finally come to life, releasing a poll reminding anyone who will pay attention that their candidates have higher name recognition than at least some of the other major candidates in the running. And it’s released the day before the major GOP straw poll that McInnis so publicly announced he was going to skip. Interesting…

What’s perhaps most ironic of all is how the poll’s bizarre finding about TABOR evokes reminders that Jane Norton vocally backed Owens’ TABOR-gutting Referendum C, the largest tax increase in state history. Why is that ironic?

The sunset clause in Referendum C expires in 2010. Does anyone honestly believe that Democratic efforts to kill off TABOR once and for all will fail if Norton is the nominee?

A rhetorical question that begs a response from the Jane Norton campaign, or at least the McInnis-Norton think tank.

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