Why do some conservatives think it’s okay to say Colorado’s Democratic candidate for governor, Jared Polis, is backed by the “gay mafia?”

KNUS radio host Chuck Bonniwell, who also owns of the Cherry Creek/Glendale Chronicle, told me in a free-wheeling and respectful conversation Friday that Polis has the support of the “gay mafia.”

“Did you say gay mafia?” I interrupted.

“Well, they work hard,” replied Bonniwell.

I told him I had to write a blog post about the slur.

“Oh no, not the gay mafia. You can’t say that,” said Bonniwell, who one analyst described as the “id of Colorado’s Republican Party.”

“What is the gay mafia?” I asked.

“It’s just a lot of guys I know and am friends with who work incredibly hard for Jared Polis,” answered Bonniwell. “And they man these offices. And they do a great job on his behalf. I call them the mafia because they work so hard.”

“Would you ever say the ‘Jewish mafia,'” I asked Bonniwell.

“Oh god, yes, I grew up with the Jewish mafia all around me.”

I take Bonniwell at his word, but Polis is also Jewish and I didn’t hear Bonniwell–or any other conservative pundit–say Polis is part of the Jewish mafia or any other mafia.

In July, KCOL guest host Karen Kataline said she was “pretty sure” Polis was part of the “gay mafia,” and she worried on air that the Republicans’ timid treatment of Polis being gay will make it harder to defeat Polis.

“I knew it. You’re criticizing the Italians,” Bonniwell joked when I continued to object to his saying “gay mafia.”

“There are wonderful Italian people here in Colorado, and you shouldn’t put them down.” said Bonniwell, concluding with, “Why don’t you like Italians?”

(Listen here: Aug. 24 at 33:15)