Over the years, The Welchert Company has provided political consulting services to premier clients from Don Henley of the Eagles to President Barack Obama. Welchert first welcomed Obama to Colorado in 2006 for an Ed Perlmutter event. The firm’s work has also included hundreds of candidates from the state house to the White House and ballot measures on water, education, renewable energy, labor and public works.
Winning A School Tax That’s 20 Points Under Water
The Issue: Jeffco Schools is Colorado’s largest district. Encompassing all the western suburbs of Denver it is also the bellwether county in statewide elections. State funding was flat and the district was facing a crisis. Without a property tax increase, massive cuts were slated district-wide and new schools and classrooms could not be built to handle growth and the districts older schools would fall deeper into disrepair. If that weren’t enough, early private polling conducted by some in the business community said the two tax questions were DOA.
The Solution: Our first job was to convince the district to “tell the story.” If it was a crisis, then we better tell people we have a crisis! Pollster Keith Frederick conducted focus groups and polling to articulate the story and define our messages. We also witnessed the most significant community support we’ve ever experienced for a local issue. After 700 people turned out in support on a beautiful July evening we altered the campaign on the spot.
I developed a school-by-school grassroots campaign model that put up a remarkable 17,000 gold, die cut, yard signs (That’s more than both U.S. Senate and both Presidential campaigns combined...statewide!)
1700 volunteers went door-to-door and made 100,000 phone calls
Produced a hard-hitting TV spot that ran for four weeks.
The victory was enormous, reversing the business poll by 20 points: 58% support for $324 million in new school buildings and 60% support for $38.5 million annual tax increase for teachers and operations.
Passing a First-in-the-Nation
Renewable Energy Mandate
The Issue: Only 15 other states had a renewable energy standard in law—but each was passed through legislation. After three failed attempts at the State Capitol, Colorado leaders went directly to the people in 2004. Amendment 37 would require Colorado to produce 10% of its energy from renewable sources like the sun and wind by 2015.
The Solution: Co-chaired by Republican Speaker Lola Spradley and Democratic Congressman Mark Udall we developed a broad and diverse coalition of farmers and ranchers, business and civic leaders and environmentalists to pass this groundbreaking change. Working with Mark Armour (media) and Paul Harstad (research) we made the risky and contrarian decision to go on broadcast TV first; (10 days earlier than our opponents), even though we couldn’t sustain the buy at the time. While we would be outspent 4-1 by big coal and the utility monopolies, we took the risk that if we defined the debate we could hold our polling lead and backfill our anemic TV buy.
The risk paid off and the discipline and effectiveness of our message cut through the clutter to a 53-47% victory. As the first state in the nation to pass a renewable energy mandate, Amendment 37 is truly a historic achievement for Colorado and the nation.
The Solution II: Building on our success, Bill Ritter campaigned aggressively in 2006 on a platform of energy independence and expansion of renewables. In March 2007, newly-elected Governor Ritter signed--legislation this time--moving the renewable portfolio to 20% by 2020!
This logo was awarded a first place Pollie as the best logo in the country.
Stopping the Koch Brothers Right-to-Work Movement
The Issue: In 2008, a group of well financed Koch-inspired business people decided to strip away the Colorado Labor Peace Act and add Colorado to the list of Right-to-Work states.
The Solution: Together with UFCW President Ernie Duran, we initiated four counter measures that were a poison pill to the business community. This led to negotiations with more level headed moderate business leaders. Their agreement to help fund and endorse our NO campaign allowed us to pull our measures and focus our resources. Joe Slade White produced incredibly tough, hard-hitting TV that blended with our direct mail and grassroots mobilization efforts.
We defeated Right-to-Work for the first time anywhere in the nation in 30 years by building a business/labor coalition that preferred economic prosperity through labor peace over ideological orthodoxy.
Today, Colorado’s diverse, entrepreneurial economy is leading the country. In large part, it’s because Coloradans have chosen to invest in themselves and their neighbors rather than fight old battles from the last century.
Being in Politics is like being a football coach. You have to be smart enough to understand the game and dumb enough to think it’s important.
--Senator Eugene McCarthy