Dawn Haliburton-Rudy says that if progressive candidates are going to win in Colorado Springs, they need some help.
"They're always starting from scratch," she says, noting that there's very few dollars and little mentoring available to newbies.
It's a different world, she says, if you are a promising conservative candidate. Those candidates have a chance to get looped into a wealth of Republican donors as well as to seek help from groups like Colorado Springs Forward. The latter usually, though not always, endorses conservative candidates, who it generally donates to and helps along the campaign trail.
"We [progressives] need to be serious about developing and maintaining that infrastructure," Haliburton-Rudy says.
That's why she's the co-chair of Together for Colorado Springs, a new group that was unveiled on Feb. 7 at an evening event at Stargazers Theatre after the Independent's deadline. (Disclosure: Indy chair and founder John Weiss is a donor to T4CS and one of its founders. He also serves as a board member.) Though she says the group isn't meant to be "the progressive CSF," there are certainly some similarities. The group will, for instance, focus on recruiting and helping local candidates. It's worth noting that Haliburton-Rudy says candidates won't have to be Democrats to be considered "progressive."
But, she says, the group is taking its cues more from former President Barack Obama's campaigns and other successful progressive campaigns around the country than from any local group, and while it may sometimes give directly to a candidate, that's not the group's focus. Rather, T4CS wants to show candidates how to raise money for themselves and how to strategically use donations and time to garner votes. Likewise, while other political groups might look for large donors, Haliburton-Rudy says T4CS wants to focus on small donors and maintain itself as a "grassroots" effort.
Interestingly, attorney Greg Walta, the other co-chair of T4CS, says that the group would one day like to consider teaming with CSF to support certain candidates — though no agreements on such an arrangement have been made. (Colorado Springs Forward did not respond for comment.)
While she wasn't specific, Haliburton-Rudy said T4CS was supporting a District 3 candidate in April's City Council election, and was considering supporting a candidate in D4. But she says T4CS won't be in full swing this election season. Rather, it's looking more at what it can do for future city and county candidates, as well as major issues that might be decided at the ballot box.
Among the issues T4CS is interested in are: raising City Council pay from its current level of $6,250 a year, challenging the Taxpayer's Bill of Rights, and helping the homeless population.
T4CS has applied for nonprofit and political action committee (PAC) status. Its board also includes: Jane Ard-Smith, Todd Luce, Ahriana Platten and Becca Sickbert (who formerly worked for the Indy). It's website (togetherforcos.org) lists two staffers: Research Director Anthony Carlson and Consultant Bob Schaeffer.