How Jerry Kopel learned from his 1976 loss, and won in 1978
David Kopel's business
case study, Jerry
Kopel Cares: An Analysis of the Marketing and Organizational
Techniques in Gerald Kopel’s 1978 Campaign. In 1976, Kopel was upset
by Republican challenger Paul Swalm. Kopel had to reinvent his
political campaign style in order to face Swalm again in 1978.
Colorado Statesmanarchive of
Jerry Kopel columns from 2008 to 2012. (In reverse chronological
order. The columns as published in the Statesman may have
slight differences from the versions here on this website.)
Most of the articles on this website
were originally published in the Colorado Statesman,
Colorado's weekly political newspaper. Jerry Kopel's column, which ran
from 1992 to 2012, won 7 public service awards from the Colorado Press
Denver Public Library and other Archives
The Gerald Kopel Papers, which cover Kopel's entire legislative
career from 1964 to 1992, are housed in the Denver Public Library's
Western History Collection. The papers are perhaps the most
extensive archive of the public career of any American state
legislator from the 20th century. For more information on the
collection, and a link to an HTML table of contents, click here. For the Denver Public Library's online Table of
Contents and information, click here.
Jerry Kopel's Report. Jerry's
newsletter to constituents, from 1967 to 1998. Available in the Denver Public Library.
The Dolores Kopel Papers, cover
the life and career of Jerry's wife Dolores, who was one of the
first female lawyers in Colorado. She served as United States
Bankruptcy Trustee for Colorado and Kansas. Table of Contents here.
Denver Public Library Exhibit on the Soviet
Refuseniks and Kopel's efforts to free them. Slide show in Powerpoint format
Chris Leppek, Reliving the glory days, Intermountain Jewish News. Oct. 1, 2009.
Article on the successful campaign by Colorado legislators Jerry Kopel and
Tilman Bishop to free the Leningrad Three.
Boston Globe story of ceremony
honoring Rep. Jerry Kopel and Sen. Tilman Bishop: Hinda Mandell, Cry of liberty. Foundation will honor refuseniks whose 1970 attempted
hijacking drew world attention to the Soviet Union’s oppression of Jews. Boston
Globe, Oct. 8, 2009.
Adopted March 21, 2012. Video of the day's House session is here. Audio file, in mp3. The Memorial begins at 12:49 and ends at 1:23:30.
Speakers in order.
Current Representatives: Matt Jones (sponsor), Rep. Spencer Swalm, Rep. Lois Court, Rep. Beth McCann, Rep. Dickie Lee Hullinghorst, Rep. Chris Holbert
Former Representatives: Ruth Wright (Minority Leader), David Skaggs (Minority Leader, U.S. Rep.), Wellington Webb (Mayor of Denver), Dorothy Rupert (State
Senator), Barbara Holme (State Senator), Phil Hernandez, Bill Owens (Governor), Bill Thiebaut (Senate Majority Leader; Pueblo
District Attorney), Bob Allen (Majority Leader), J.D. McFarlane
(Colo. Attorney General), Dennis Gallagher (Denver City Auditor).
Held at the
Denver Botanic Gardens, Feb. 4, 2012. Video
file (in .mp4). Audio file (in .wav) of the Celebration.
Program: Opening remarks by Master of Ceremonies Dennis Gallagher.
U.S. Rep. Diana DeGette.
Rep. Wilma Webb.
Gov. Richard Lamm.
Reading of a letter from Regent Tilman Bishop.
grandchildren Kathleen, Margaret, and Andrew.
Note: The audio starts with Gallagher's introduce of
Rep. Webb. Total runtime is for video is 57 minutes, audio is 34:30.
Jerry Kopel, 1928-2012
Jerry Kopel passed away peacefully on
January 21, 2012. He had been seriously ill for a while, and was
definitely ready to move onward. While our family misses him, we are
happy that his spirit has been liberated from the maladies of his
Persons who would like to make a gift in
Jerry's memory are encouraged to donate to the
Denver Public Library. Page 2 of the online donation form will
give you the opportunity in the Comments field to make the donation
a Memorial for Jerry Kopel. The funds will be used to support the
Western History Collection at the Library, which is the repository
of Jerry's papers.
Colorado House of
Representatives. Rep. Matt Jones informs the House of Jerry's
passing. Bipartisan remarks from legislators. Jan. 23, 2012. Video. From 12:10 to 17:54. (The video file can be downloaded in
either .mp4 or .wmv here.)
U.S. Rep. Diana DeGette (D-Denver). Remarks in the Congressional
Record, "Celebrating 80th Birthday Of Gerald (Jerry) Kopel And 56th
Anniversary of Jerry And Dolores Kopel." June 12, 2008 (pages E1229-30). Text. PDF.
Based on more than half a
century of experience in the Colorado General
Assembly, "Rules for State Legislators" is a guide to
being a more effective state legislator. The book
offers advice on dozens of topics--including where to
sit, how to pass bills when you're in the minority
part, rescuing your bill from conference committee,
and content of your newsletter for constituents.
"Rules for State
Legislators" also provides stories of Colorado's
political history, including the long battle for
statehood, women's suffrage and first female
legislators, and how the Vietnam War cost a 20-year
U.S. Representative his seat.
Passing the Martin Luther King Holiday
by Jerry Kopel
The Martin Luther King holiday for 1993
has come and gone and not too many people remember the trauma of
getting the measure passed in 1984. Certainly Wilma Webb, the
chief sponsor of HB 1201, does.
About a year ago, then-Rep. Webb opened
her wallet, pulled out a small slip paper on which three words
written, and showed it to me. The paper was slightly worn, but I
remembered what happened on March 25, 1984, and how knowledge of
the Rules of the Colorado House helped make success for the King
Holiday finally possible.
In 1984, Colorado had reached the point
when something regarding a King Holiday was going to happen.
There were two camps in the House: those
who supported Rep. Webb’s position that the state declare the
holiday legislatively, and those who supported then-Speaker
Bledsoe’s position that the issue should be placed on the
November 1984 ballot as a statute referred to the voters for a
decision. In the committee of the whole on February 22, 1984,
the Bledsoe position was defeated; but in the report of the
committee of the whole, an amendment was offered by Rep. Bill
Artist to have the issue decided in the November election. The
Artist amendment passed 33-32. Who says one vote doesn’t count?
The measure passed easily on third
reading, and went to the Senate where, during the second reading
on March 21, 1984. the Artist amendment was stripped from the
bill. The bill passed third reading March 22, 1984 by a vote of
23 to 5. Now the measure came back to the house
If the leadership position held, the
measure would go to conference committee to resolve the
difference tween the two houses. Although Representative Webb
would be on the conference committee, the other two House
members would not be friends of her position on the referral.
And the rules require two members of each house on the
conference committee to approve the committee report.
On the day before the issue is to be
debated in the House, Rep. Webb posed the issue to me: Whatever
motion was voted on would be the one that would pass the house.
How can she ensure that vote would be on her motion to concur in
the Senate amendment?
The normal procedure would be for her, as
chief sponsor of the bill, to make a motion to concur. Then
someone from the opposite camp would make a substitute motion
for conference committee. We probably would have a measure on
the ballot in November, because the majority the House members
did not want to be seen as having voted “against” a motion on
the bill, which could be interpreted by election opponents as
being totally against the holiday.
I suggested strategy. There is nothing in
the rules to prevent her from making a series of motions and
deciding the order of voting. She would be recognized by the
Speaker. Her motion would be to adhere to the House position and
reject the Senate amendment.
After such a motion, she would be
recognized to speak on the motion. When recognized again, she
would make a motion for a conference committee.
And when recognized again, she would make
the motion to concur with the Senate position, and that would be
the motion was voted on first. The following day, the day of the
vote, Rep. Webb wanted to go through the series again to be sure
they were done in proper sequence. I tore off a piece of paper
Rep. Webb was recognized by the Speaker.
She made a motion to reject the Senate amendment and to adhere
to the House position. Democratic House members from their seats
called out: “No, Wilma, that’s wrong.” Legislators turned to
each other and asked, “Why did she do that?”
Rep. Webb raised her hand, and the
Speaker recognized her. Everyone expected her to now explain.
Instead she said: “Mr. Speaker, I move the House reject the
Senate amendment and request a conference committee.” The House
became quiet. Checkmate occurred whether or not Rep. Webb would
be the one to make the final motion. She raised her hand again,
and was recognized. “Mr. Speaker, I move the House concur in the
The motion passed 38-26 and the bill was
readopted by a vote of 38-26. The House Journal for that day
would listed only 2 of the 3 motions Rep. Webb made (conference
and concurrence), but the House tape has all three motions.
I have no doubt that putting the issue on
the ballot 1984 would have resulted in defeat. I believe only
two states have supported the King holiday by way of election.
The year 1984 was conservative landslide. After election day,
there were only 18 Democrats in the House and 11 in the Senate,
the lowest number in 38 years.
The moral of the story? Learn your
rulebook. You never know what can be used to defeat into