Handing the Press a Gift

Talk about handing the media a gift. Yesterday's altercation between employees of the two Republican candidates for governor - at a forum that included the Democrat - gave the Rocky Mountain News's Stuart Strears a chance to focus on the Republicans' arguments and the Democrat's message:

An intern for the Holtzman campaign, Laura Mendenhall, tried to block a Beauprez staffer, Jory Taylor, from videotaping the event. That outraged the Beauprez campaign, which says it routinely tapes such forums.

"They were shoving him out of the way," said John Marshall, a spokesman for Beauprez. "They totally accosted him. This is just junior high school stuff. It's disappointing and juvenile and not befitting a campaign for the highest office in Colorado."

A spokesman for Holtzman said Mendenhall had made "a rookie mistake" and gotten carried away. "She's very protective of Marc," said Jesse Mallory.

...

Mallory said the Holtzman campaign apologized for the incident.

"We're sorry the girls in our campaign beat up the boys in their campaign," he said.

That's a pretty funny line, but it doesn't change the fact that the whole article was about Republicans shoving each other. Here's the tail end of the coverage on the Republicans:

Holtzman began broadcasting his first television ad earlier this week. He said he would be running ads from now until the Aug. 8 primary, and indicated that future spots will target Beauprez's record.

Holtzman's parents, Seymour and Evelyn Holtzman, attended the forum. Seymour Holtzman's company, Jewelcor Inc., was a major funding source of TV ads Holtzman ran last fall opposing Referendum C. Those ads were the subject of a trial earlier this month, in which the Holtzman campaign was accused of violating Colorado campaign finance laws. An administrative law judge has not yet ruled in the case.

Seymour Holtzman said he would not be involved in funding his son's gubernatorial campaign, including any so-called 527 political groups that might run ads attacking Beauprez.

"Marc has asked me not to make any contributions to any 527s," he said.

TV ads, the upcoming convention, and more controversy over last year's TV ads.

Last year, Colorado passed a $3.7 billion tax hike, over five years. Now, under the tax formula, the state is now raking in billions more than that. Both Republicans have proposed plans to return the excess money back to the people. But because the Republicans were too busy giving Mr. Strears something juicy to write about, the only substantive comments on taxes came from the Democrat, Bill Ritter:

In it, Ritter assailed Holtzman's call for a $1.2 billion tax cut, saying it would gut education in the state. He said Colorado already suffers from a lack of adequate funding for community colleges and vocational education.

"We need public dollars to have a world-class educational system," Ritter told the audience.

That's it. Nothing from either Republican on taxes, on a day when both of them spoke at length.

It's easy - and correct - to blame the press here. But it's a textbook case of giving them something else to write about other than your message. Holtzman and Beauprez both did. Ritter didn't. Guess whose message got printed.