Like us at Colorado Peak Politics, the left-wing ProgressNow Colorado published their own version of Winners and Losers from the 2013 legislative session. While it read like it had been written in January and stuck in desk drawer, it did draw the attention of one of its targets — the conservative/libertarian Independence Institute (i2i).

ProgressNow dubbed the Independence Institute a “Loser” and claimed it had badly damaged its reputation and influence. That drew some snark from i2i’s President and funny man Jon Caldara, who wrote in an email:

I feel I must respond directly to this fallacious assertion. They are in error. I have been at the helm of the Independence Institute for 15 years now. And I can assure you, we have never been influential.

But we have always been right 😉

If there was any way to describe the Independence Institute this past session — ineffectual would not be it. The right-leaning think tank rose to a level of prominence unattained by its rival liberal institutions. 

With one of the preeminent Second Amendment experts in the country in Dave Kopel, the conservative think tank was a major force down at the Capitol, much to liberals, er, progressives chagrin. 

During the gun debates, Kopel was the go-to expert for legislators from both parties, as well as the governor’s office. He even helped craft language to fix a major error in a gun control bill that would have outlawed most shotguns.

Add to that Caldara’s viral YouTube series on the Mag Ban which pre-empted the damning 9News exposé, the rallying of a bipartisan team of County Sheriffs, and the recently announced lawsuit targeting the most overreaching gun bills that passed, and it’s pretty hard to paint a picture of ineffectualness.

Beyond direct impact on policy and news cycles, the Independence Institute’s headquarters – dubbed the Freedom Embassy – played host to many important strategy meetings that helped shape key messaging on the gun issue. Previously a geographically displaced alliance, the center-right coalition in Colorado has been able to better unify its strategy and messaging thanks to Caldara’s new digs.

Not that it stopped ProgressNow from projecting what they wished i2i would be, rather than what it accomplished.

Keep on hoping the Independence Institute would matter less, ProgressNow. It’s working real well.