Chieftain “applaud[ed]” Wadhams' election as GOP chair, ignored its own criticism of “negative campaigners”

Echoing an earlier editorial that also contradicted its claim to “disdain negative campaign attacks,” The Pueblo Chieftain congratulated Dick Wadhams on his selection as Colorado Republican Party chairman. But the Chieftain did not note reports in other news outlets that have called Wadhams' campaign tactics “brutal” and “cutthroat” or in which Wadhams himself reportedly stated, “There's nothing wrong with going negative.”

In a March 6 editorial about the March 3 election of Dick Wadhams to chair the Colorado Republican Party, The Pueblo Chieftain stated that it “applaud[s] the [Colorado Republican] Central Committee for supporting Mr. Wadhams and congratulate[s] him on his appointment.” In doing so, the Chieftain repeated the unqualified praise for Wadhams that it voiced in a January 10 editorial, despite the incongruity between Wadhams' notoriety for negative campaigning and a November 2, 2006, Chieftain editorial (accessed through the Nexis database) claiming that “we disdain negative campaign attacks.”

Colorado Media Matters earlier noted the conflict between the Chieftain's endorsement of Wadhams and its professed “disdain” for negative campaign attacks in the context of largely uncritical reporting accompanying Wadhams' January 8 announcement that he would seek the Colorado Republican chairmanship. Similarly, Colorado Media Matters has noted the uncritical reporting that has accompanied Wadhams' election.

In both instances, the Chieftain failed to note its November 2 editorial criticizing negative campaigning, which referred to independent political groups in Colorado's House District 47 race. The editorial praised Pueblo District Attorney Bill Thiebaut for not “further politicizing what already is a politically charged election campaign” by deciding not to file charges against “political groups that attacked the two candidates” -- Democratic incumbent Buffie McFadyen and Republican challenger Jeff Shaw (both of Pueblo West). That editorial also warned voters not to “be swayed by political attacks that have a nasty smell.”

Regarding Wadhams, an online article dated January 8 noted that he “is politically brutal enough to be considered a Republican hitman.” A September 2006 Washington Monthly article reported Wadhams' comment that "[g]oing negative gets a bad rap." Similarly, a June 10, 2005, profile in the online magazine Slate quoted Wadhams as saying, “There's nothing wrong with going negative.”

In its March 6 editorial, the Chieftain noted that Wadhams “has been a skilled political operative for all of his adult life” and that he “managed successful campaigns of several Colorado Republicans and two in Montana and South Dakota.” However, the editorial failed to mention the negative campaign tactics Wadhams used in those campaigns, which Washington Monthly characterized as “combining blistering verbal assaults, nasty wedge issues, and general loud-mouthing.”

From the March 6 editorial “Revitalizing the GOP,” in The Pueblo Chieftain:

DICK WADHAMS was selected unanimously by the Colorado Republican Central Committee to be the new state chairman of the GOP.

Mr. Wadhams, a Las Animas native, has been a skilled political operative for all of his adult life, having managed successful campaigns of several Colorado Republicans and two in Montana and South Dakota. He said his first order of business will be to find a candidate for the U.S. Senate to succeed GOP Sen. Wayne Allard, who has announced he will step down when his current term expires.


We applaud the Central Committee for supporting Mr. Wadhams and congratulate him on his appointment.