One sure sign of a political junkie revolves around how he responds to mail. And while my wife remains among the ordinary, everyday, healthy crowd, I am clearly afflicted.

Most people sift through mail for bills, belated holiday cards and Amazon packages. Often, they do so over a wastebasket to deposit unopened solicitations and advertisements directly. Mail from candidates and committees usually finds its way into that latter category for normal people.

Mario Nicolais

For me it’s a race to the mailbox to see whose mailing list I’m on and what line of attack or message candidates think will be the most effective. I meet my mailman at the curb with uncomfortable frequency to look for glossy cardstock or letters stuffed with business reply envelopes.

As an unaffiliated, active voter – I vote in both general and primary elections – and a political donor, my address appears on a lot of targeted mail lists. Consequently, by the end of each election I have a veritable treasure trove of mail pieces.

Not even two weeks into the 2020 election year, and I have already received three pieces of political mail.

The first actually arrived during the holiday season courtesy of John Hickenlooper’s U.S. Senate campaign. Based on the envelope and enclosed letter, you’d think he was running against Mitch McConnell, not Cory Gardner.

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Emblazoned with an all-caps, bold “SEND MITCH MCCONNEL PACKING!” above my address on the envelope, I counted McConnell’s name 12 times in the two-page letter. In contrast, Gardner’s name is used only five times, including a solitary mention on the first page.

Trump got name-checked seven times.

Beyond attempting to nationalize the race by tying Gardner to the unpopular Trump and McConnell, Hickenlooper’s letter also hit on several key liberal talking points. He bashed billionaires, Citizens United, “shadowy organizations,” conservative judges, climate change and gun control.

I learned more about his positions in this letter than you can right now on his website, which is devoid of an “Issues” page. It did tickle me, though, when I scrolled over the “Contribute” button on the top right and it changed from blue to red. Something tells me that isn’t the message he wanted to convey.

A week later, I thought I’d received a counter-letter from Cory Gardner. But it turned out to be from state Sen. Bob Gardner, who should get some kudos for getting fundraising letters out before the legislative session.

By far the most interesting mail came in the form of a two-sided glossy mailer attacking Colorado’s proposed public option for health care.

Though not on the ballot itself, the public option will be a center of controversy during the legislative session that just began and throughout the election year. Gov. Jared Polis recognized that reality during his State of the State address.

Dire warnings that I will “pay more,” “hospitals will be forced to close,” and “politicians will be in control of our health care” and put politics ahead of patients splashed across the mailer. Nothing cements opposition to an issue more concretely than fear.

The group behind the mailer, Colorado’s Health Care Future, isn’t registered with the Secretary of State, either via her business office or the campaign finance department. As an attorney with substantial experience in both government affairs and the health care industry, I found that very interesting if not strictly illegal. 

Maybe that’s why Hickenlooper railed against “shady outside groups”?

At least the mailer linked the organization to the Partnership for America’s Health Care Future Action, a national group funded by multiple healthcare providers, insurance companies and chambers of commerce. The group’s stated goal is to protect the current employer-provided system and oppose any type of government led health care, including Medicare for All, Medicare buy-in or public options.

Only a few days into 2020 and it already promises to be a bumper year for political mail at the Nicolais household. At this rate, it won’t be long before I’m on a first-name basis with my USPS carrier.

Mario Nicolais is an attorney and columnist who writes on law enforcement, the legal system, healthcare, and public policy. Follow him on Twitter: @MarioNicolaiEsq

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