In an apparent effort to give herself a nonpartisan shine, Suzanne Staiert, a Republican who’s running for a critical state Senate seat in Arapahoe County, has scrubbed information about her partisan background from her campaign website.
In one notable change in the last month, Staiert removed a statement from her website boasting, “Suzanne is already trying to keep Hickenlooper accountable in her work as the prosecutor on his ethics charge.”
Earlier this year, as director of the Public Trust Institute, a conservative advocacy group, Staiert was the lead attorney in a complaint against Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, a Democrat running for U.S. Senate, over alleged ethics issues.
The minor allegations, two of which were affirmed, were set in motion by dark-money-funded Republicans and formed the basis for a major TV attack campaign against Hickenlooper by his opponent, Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO), and outside groups, including a conservative organization called Unite for Colorado. Staiert is the lawyer for United for Colorado, which also provided money for Staiert’s state senate campaign, triggering a campaign finance complaint against Staiert.
But despite her deep ties to the GOP campaign against Hickenlooper, and its high-profile use in Colorado’s Senate campaign, Staiert scrubbed her campaign website of any mention of her leading role in the effort. There’s now no mention of the name “Hickenlooper” on her entire website.
In place of the Hickenlooper information is content that reads, in part, “Person over party. Suzanne will fight for her constituents, not partisan politics.”
Staiert, who’s “of counsel” with a law firm headed by longtime Republican attorney, deleted other partisan-sounding website content as well, such as a section titled, “Stop the Democrat Overreach,” which stated in part that “Democrats named this district their #1 target to turn blue in 2020. Suzanne won’t let that happen!”
Her current website still mentions that she worked for two “secretaries of state,” but omits their names, Scott Gessler and Wayne Williams, both well-known Republicans.
Also gone is her opposition to the “public option,” a stance that has become highly partisan as Republicans have lined up not only against the public option, which is intended to improve the Affordable Care Act, but also against Obamacare itself.
Staiert had stated on her website that she would “oppose and work against efforts to create a public option in Colorado.”
Staiert declined the opportunity to comment on the website alterations.
But it appears she changed her mind about the political benefit of spotlighting her partisan history, including her role in attacks on well-known Democrat Hickenlooper, in light of the fact that she will require unaffiliated voters, who are left-leaning and alienated by Trump, to “split” their ticket and cast a vote for a Republican in her race. In other words, they are expected to vote for Democrats, like Biden and Hickenlooper, at the top of the ballot and would have to vote for Staiert, a Republican, toward the bottom of the ballot.
“The best that Republicans can hope for is… significant split-ticket voting resulting in Democrats carrying the district at the top of the ticket while Republicans win at the local level,” wrote Ryan Winger, of Magellan Strategies, a Republican-leaning pollster, in an April analysis of Staiert’s race in Colorado Senate District 27.
“However, if the 2018 Democratic victories are indeed the new normal, with less split-ticket voting and Republican voters only making up one-third of all votes cast (and in reality higher turnout due to the presidential election probably means it will be even lower), it will be challenging for Republicans to hold this seat.”
Judging from her new website, Staiert, who faces Democrat Chris Kolker, has apparently taken this advice to heart, deciding to try to present herself as more nonpartisan than she had before, despite her partisan background in attacking Hickenlooper and working for two of Colorado’s top Republicans.
Staiert’s campaign theme is “PRACTICAL, not political,” and the changes to her campaign website indeed appear motivated by the practical political reality she faces in her district.