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We shouldn't be surprised that Steve Bach supporters have tried to turn the mayoral campaign into a battle between left and right rather than a test of competence/fitness for office.

This is, after all, one of America's most conservative cities. And we're not just conservative — we're often over-the-top conservative. Brand your boy as the "Colorado Conservative" and you'll win (unless he's a not-so-secret liberal).

Late last week, after Barack Obama released his long-form birth certificate, the Gazette and Denver Post asked the same question of their readers.

Is it real? Are you now satisfied that the president of the United States was born, like Bruce Springsteen, in the USA?

More than 2,000 readers responded to each poll.

Twenty percent of the Post's respondents still had doubts, reflecting our national lunacy quotient. One in five variously believe that the moon landing was faked, aliens touched down in Roswell, The Da Vinci Code is based on historical fact, and this is the week they'll win Powerball. So this poll is no cause for concern.

Fifty-five percent (yes, 55!) of the 2,000 Gazette respondents believed the certificate is fake. That is cause for concern.

Two thousand folks is a pretty big sample. No matter how you choose to interpret the results, they're not encouraging for those of us who lack the means to leave for Key West, Marfa, Scottsdale, Santa Barbara or Hawaii, the president's birthplace.

But let's be optimistic! Maybe some clever hackers gamed the system. I'll nominate Paul Kleinschmidt, the cement salesman whose Taxpayers for Budget Reform website, tfbr.org, contributes vituperative anti-Skorman posts to both the Indy and the Gazette. TFBR also gave Bach a generous campaign contribution, although the actual source of the dough is unknown. I called Kleinschmidt at the number listed on the website, but he hung up on me.

And perhaps Gazette readers are an unrepresentative sample of the community: older, more conservative, less educated, angrier and more inclined to conspiracy theories. But maybe the town is just nuts, in which case we'd better hope our two candidates are listening to the advice of sane people.

Who's advising Bach? He's utterly without experience in city government, or in government of any kind. As far as I know, he's never been on a homeowners association board, let alone served in elected or appointed office. But judging from his campaign contributors and declared supporters, he'll have plenty of folks ready to guide him on the right path.

Maybe Tom Gallagher will give him some tips on getting on with City Council, as could Bernie Herpin. A free tip: Listen to Bernie!

Former city manager Lorne Kramer has supported Bach from the start. Folks who served in the Los Angeles Police Department in the 1960s, '70s, and '80s are well-grounded in the reality-based community, so listen to Kramer, Steve! And if you want an even tougher former L.A. cop, call local private investigator Tom Hoff.

Bach has adopted many of the City Committee's talking points, which suggests that Steve Bartolin, Chuck Fowler, Laura McGuire and BJ Scott might be among his advisers. All four are smart, successful and creative, as are Bach's longtime associates Steve Schuck, Becky Medved and Jon Medved.

It's a formidable lineup, and one from which the loony majority is notably absent. If Bach is smart enough to get elected, he's smart enough to listen to them ... or is he?

And what about Skorman?

It's reasonable to assume his campaign treasurer, Les Gruen of Urban Strategies, will be in the mix. But Skorman's wide and deep experience in business, government and nonprofit advocacy gives him a substantial advantage over Bach. He knows the players intimately, knows whom to trust and whom to dismiss, and, most importantly, how to change the playing field.

Before Dwight Eisenhower took office in 1953, his predecessor in office made a prediction.

"He's a military man," said Harry Truman. "He'll sit there and say do this, do that, and nothing will happen. It's a different world in Washington."

Ike was a quick study. He mastered the presidency, just as he mastered the Axis in World War II.

Let's hope that Skorman or Bach can master the mayor's office, just as they mastered selling real estate and baking pizzas.

hazlehurst@csindy.com

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