Monday, March 6, 2017

UPDATE: Colorado Springs Council race draws mystery poll

Posted By on Mon, Mar 6, 2017 at 4:10 PM

click to enlarge cityelectionsbug-web_360.png
UPDATE:
Sarah Jack tells us that none of the candidates whose campaigns she's working on have authorized a poll.

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ORIGINAL POST 4:10 P.M. MON., MARCH 6, 2017

A poll is being conducted in District 3, which covers the southwest area of the city, the Westside and downtown, and it appears to be on behalf of Chuck Fowler, an email thread forwarded to the Indy, which included prominent names, indicates.

Fowler,  a newbie to city government, has worked in the oil and gas industry and was a management consultant. He's been endorsed by development and business interests, and is running against Richard Skorman, a business owner who served as a city councilor and vice mayor (1999-2006) and helped get the Trails, Open Space and Parks tax passed in the 1990s and renewed more recently.

Based on the email, which was provided with the agreement that individual names not be used, the poll is what's commonly called a push poll in that it asks pointed questions aimed at discrediting a certain candidate.

Here are the questions posed to District 3 voters, as recounted by a voter who didn't want to be identified:
— If the election were held today, who would you vote for?
— Has the legalization of marijuana been good or bad for Colorado Springs?
— Do you support or oppose allowing recreational marijuana in Colorado Springs?
— Are you more likely to support or oppose Richard Skorman if you found out that he supports allowing recreational marijuana in Colorado Springs or receives money from the recreational marijuana industry?
— Do you support or oppose designating Colorado Springs as a sanctuary city for illegal immigrants?
— Are you more or less likely to support Skorman if you found out that he supports making Colorado Springs a sanctuary city?
click to enlarge Chuck Fowler, left, and Richard Skorman squared off during a Feb. 1 candidate forum at Hillside Community Center, moderated by Council of Neighbors and Organizations executive director Dave Munger, right. - PAM ZUBECK
  • Pam Zubeck
  • Chuck Fowler, left, and Richard Skorman squared off during a Feb. 1 candidate forum at Hillside Community Center, moderated by Council of Neighbors and Organizations executive director Dave Munger, right.
The poll has proven difficult to track down, though one recipient provided the Indy with the phone number from which the polling call came. The number checks back to Rochester, Minnesota. When we tried to chase down the origin, we found a website where someone named Catherine (no last name) had posted this message: "This is a Republican polling group. If you live in Colorado Springs, they will ask you questions about the candidacy of certain City Council candidates and marijuana. An EXTREMELY biased polling service."

Campaign finance reports show no spending on polls by Colorado Springs Forward, which endorsed Fowler and has given $31,000 to candidates and a "vote yes" committee for a ballot measure. Nor do campaign finance reports show any polling expenses for the Housing and Building Association of Colorado Springs, which also endorsed Fowler and has given donations of up to $6,000 to the same slate supported by CSF.

In fact, none of the committees that have filed reports with the city reveal spending money on a poll.

It's worth noting that the candidates backed by business and development interests are turning most of their money over to campaign management provided by Sarah Jack and Associates LLC, and how the money is spent isn't clear. We've asked Jack if she's hired a pollster and will update when we hear something. We've also asked Fowler if he knows anything about the poll. He hasn't responded yet.

Of course, the funder of the poll might simply report the expenditure in coming weeks. Or, the funder is flying below the radar via a dark-money group commonly called a 527 and will never report the source of the funds or how much was paid.

All that said, Skorman has something to say about the poll and the topics it's apparently asking about. He tells the Independent via email:
By the way I'm not on record saying we should be a sanctuary city. I've only echoed John Suthers and Chief Carey's comments that we don't have the desire or the public safety personnel to round up law-abiding citizens and turn them over to ICE [Immigration and Customers Enforcement], even if they are here illegally.

Also, despite the Gazette's editorial [endorsing Fowler] and this push poll, I have gotten 290 separate donations so far and no one has listed there [sic] profession as from the Marijuana Industry...

My stand on Recreational Marijuana is that it is already legal in Colorado Springs, you just have to buy it in Manitou or Pueblo. And it's not going to go away easily, as Amendment 24 [64] is in the State Constitution and we just made it harder to change. I believe we should get the revenue from it and use that revenue for Public Safety. And we should disperse Recreational stores throughout the City. I am not a fan of having it so concentrated on the West Side or having people have to drive across town to buy. We all know that many are tasting their purchases before they get home. In other words, driving stoned.

Skorman adds in a follow-up email, "I have no donors from Dispensary owners yet, although ... I would have no problem accepting their donations."

It's not the first poll to be conducted during this election cycle. A poll was done in District 5, the race between incumbent Jill Gaebler and Lynette Crow-Iverson, but we don't have much information about it. Crow-Iverson's campaign is being largely funded by the same interests who are backing Fowler.

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