UPDATE (3:00pm): Democrat Noel Ginsburg reports $224,668 in contributions for Q4…but $190,000 of that came from his own pockets. Officially, Ginsburg now has $223,733 in the bank.
According to a press release, Ginsburg’s campaign seems happy to pretend that personal checks from the candidate should be counted as donations:
Democrat Noel Ginsburg today announced strong year-end fundraising numbers in his bid for Colorado’s next Governor. Ginsburg raised more than $790,000 in 2017.
“I’d like to thank our many donors and volunteers for giving us strong momentum,” said Ginsburg, who recently finished a tour of the state.
Of the $790,000 that Ginsburg “raised” in 2017, at least $340,000 came from donors named “Noel Ginsburg.” When you include his personal checks, Ginsburg only received about $34,000 from donors in Q4.
UPDATE (1:46pm): Republican Brian Watson reports raising $179,530 for his campaign for State Treasurer. Watson contributed about $18k of his own money to that total, and has $153,647* in the bank.
*Watson’s campaign finance report also lists a $32,000 “contribution” for something labeled “opposition research,” but the filing doesn’t indicate that this was a personal in-kind contribution. This is probably not legal.
UPDATE (11:55 am): Republican Victor Mitchell (Governor) seems content to self-fund his campaign. Mitchell’s campaign reported just $4,324 in contributions for a cash-on-hand total of $2,175,432 (Mitchell wrote his campaign a $3 million check early last year). Mitchell’s campaign spent $113,162 in Q4 (2017).
Democratic Secretary of State (SOS) candidate Jen Griswold announced this morning that her campaign raised $58,381 in Q4 and now has a total of $115,537 in the bank. These are strong numbers for a challenger in a lower-tier statewide race such as SOS.
Fundraising reports from Q4 (2017) are due to be filed with the Colorado Secretary of State’s office today. We’ll keep a running update here on some of the most noteworthy numbers as they become available.
Over the weekend on 9NEWS, local Republican political consultant Kelly Maher caused a bit of a stir when she said on the station’s Balance of Power local politics show that last week’s comments from President Donald Trump regarding what he considers to be “shithole countries” were racist. Though we expect most of our readers will appreciate this unequivocal statement from a local Republican, Maher received some pointed criticism on Facebook from Trump loyalists:
Jack Hilbert: Kelly I was very disappointed about your stance on Trump and his recent remarks about other countries. Frankly I hav been to those countries and his description was correct. [Pols emphasis] It is not what he said that is incorrect, it is the use of harsh words to describe those conditions. That does not make him racist. You fallen into the liberal mantra trap that started the whole PC crap. So if I said I think that typical African is ugly I am a racist. No. I just do not like their clothing and it is an opinion. You need to rethink the term racist, look at the definition and adjust. I cannot repeat what my wife called you but that does not make her anti-feminist. Just an opinion in the moment that is emotionally charged. We slipping backwards into that liberal muck….
The source here is interesting: Jack Hilbert is a former Republican county commissioner from arch-conservative Douglas County. While that helps explain his talk-radio strident political views, it’s somewhat troubling to note that Hilbert now serves as the manager of the Colorado Child Welfare Protection Hotline at the state Department of Human Services.
In other words, a job where you really shouldn’t be validating Trump’s notion of “shithole countries.” We have to think that a public official’s conception of various regions of the world as “shitholes” might adversely affect their judgment, and when their job is protecting the welfare of children across the state of Colorado, that’s a big problem.
Yes, for the President of the United States too. But no less so in this case we’d say.
► Fundraising reports for the last quarter of 2017 are due to be filed today with the Colorado Secretary of State’s office. Check back here at Colorado Pols for more on the fundraising reports as they become available.
► President Trump is blaming Democrats for a potential federal government shutdown, but Republicans would unquestionably own any funding problem. As CNN notes, it has been nearly 40 years since the last government shutdown when one political party controlled both chambers of Congress and the White House. According to a story from NBC News, Democrats are well-prepared to push back on Trump’s blame game:
Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., said a shutdown would “humiliate” the country, the president and the GOP, which controls Congress.
“The only one that can allow a government shutdown is Donald Trump. And I don’t know why he would humiliate the United States, humiliate himself and humiliate his party by having a government shutdown,” he said.
“Republicans control the House, they control the Senate, and they control the presidency,” Leahy said. “The government stays open if they want it to stay open. It shuts down if they want it to shut down.”
TIME magazine provides a good rundown of several key questions and answers surrounding a potential government shutdown.
Meanwhile, President TrumpTweeted on Sunday that discussions on DACA — the program to protect undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as children — is “probably dead.” Immigration policy discussions had been a key part of the debate over a potential government shutdown.
► The New York Times reports that former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon has been subpoenaed by special counsel Robert Mueller in the investigation into potential collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign in the 2016 election.
This weekend, the Colorado Springs Gazette’s editorial board–considered a direct expression of the political desires of the owner of the Gazette, billionaire Phil Anschutz—attempted to put an early end to the 2018 Republican gubernatorial primary by declaring Treasurer Walker Stapleton the only viable candidate:
If Republicans hope to elect a governor this fall, they need to narrow the primary field and unite behind State Treasurer Walker Stapleton…
Several of the other candidates pitch mostly interchangeable platforms, lack substantial public service, and share the uphill battle of achieving name recognition.
Coffman has won state office but has failed to launch a primary campaign that shows promise of traction. If Tancredo gets only 22 percent of the primary vote, eight other candidates divide up the remaining 78 percent. The winner in a nine-way race will enter the primary with scars inflicted by eight opponents.
If Tancredo wins the primary, even his most loyal supporters should know he cannot win the general.
By all accounts we’ve heard so far today, this editorial is provoking major controversy among Colorado Republicans. It’s still very early in the primary process, before many Republican primary voters have even learned about the field of candidates in the running. Precinct caucuses aren’t until March 6 this year. Without a chance for opinions to form in the minds of many Republican party faithful, this heavy-handed declaration that it’s time to clear the field isn’t likely to be received well. Colorado Republicans have a larger-than-usual contingent of perennially disaffected party activists waiting for the chance to declare shenanigans.
And the Phil Anschutz machine just gave those folks exactly what they needed! Ethically, this editorial only compounds widely-perceived problems at the Gazette with favoring establishment Republican candidates–and not just an editorial problem, as the Gazette’s political blog’s questionable “breaking” of news about Stapleton’s fundraising haul most recently evidenced. We also took note in this space about blatant impropriety at the Gazette in the service of Bob Beauprez’s Pioneer Action group, which attacked unfavored Republican incumbents in 2016. Suffice to say that there is a great deal here to enrage anyone who isn’t already backing Stapleton. Stapleton may be the candidate of choice for the moneyed GOP establishment in Colorado, but this editorial could well have the effect of driving the angry GOP base away from Stapleton.
With all of that said, of course there is plenty in this editorial that accurately reflects political reality. Cynthia Coffman has indeed failed to carve out a place of strength in this primary, and the self-funded candidates have not attracted the Trump-style grassroots support they got in the race laying claim to. The September poll cited by the Gazette shows Stapleton trailing distantly behind Tancredo, though with a large undecided factor that they argue should coalesce around Stapleton. All told, and as we said when he originally got into the race, we agree that Walker Stapleton is the GOP primary frontrunner–and more than that, he is most likely the only candidate who has a shot at stopping Tom Tancredo in the gubernatorial primary.
But above all, this editorial should have the effect of emboldening Tancredo and his hard-right supporters. For a candidate who has been waging insurgent politics his entire political career, this clear signal of fear in addition to the usual loathing from the Republican establishment is the greatest validator Tancredo could ever ask for.
(The Anschutz Machine throws down – Promoted by Colorado Pols)
Acting as if the Republican Party in Colorado is on its death bed, the Colorado Springs Gazette trashed all the GOP gubernatorial candidates Sunday, except Colorado Treasurer Walker Stapleton, whom the newspaper presented as the last great hope:
Republicans have an unusual opportunity to elect a governor this year. Stapleton’s primary contenders would do themselves and their party a favor by selflessly clearing the field and helping him win against the odds.
While Stapleton “has earned name recognition and has a host of leadership accomplishments to run on,” the Gazette editorial stated, the other GOP candidates are paralyzed, boring, bumbling, inexperienced, unknown, and/or clueless.
Former Congressman Tom Tancredo is described as a “niche candidate with a single message,” who “invariably returns to his stark views about federal immigration enforcement.”
Attorney General Cynthia Coffman “has failed to launch a primary campaign that shows promise of traction,” states the Gazette.
“Several of the other candidates pitch mostly interchangeable platforms, lack substantial public service, and share the uphill battle of achieving name recognition,” concludes the newspaper, which is owned by Republican billionaire Phil Anschutz, through Clarity Media.
And what does Tanc, who bears the bunt of the Gazette’s criticism, have to say about it?
“Why don’t we let the people of this state figure that out.” Tancredo told KNUS radio Monday when asked to respond to the Gazette editorial. “…Do you really think the Republicans in this state don’t see the needs that we have, don’t look at this whole picture, don’t look at, you know, who would be the best candidate against a Jared Polis? And let’s let them make that decision, right? [The Gazette is] assuming the Republicans are so stupid as to nominate me, even though no one believes I can win this thing.” [Listen here at 29 min 30 sec.]
Tancredo also told the radio station, as he has in the past, that he’d be governor today if establishment Republicans hadn’t succeeded in knocking him out of the gubernatorial race in 2014. (See related posts here and here.)
The question is, is the Gazette’s brazen desperation to stop Tancredo premature? Quite possibly, given the money flying around out there.
But you can see why the Gazette is worried. Tanc isn’t looking any weaker than he did when he jumped out the gate as the front runner to win the GOP nomination.
Yesterday morning, Sen. Cory Gardnerappeared on Face the Nation in an attempt to put some kind of happy face on the unfolding disaster of President Donald Trump’s rejection of the latest bipartisan immigration deal–to which both Colorado Senators are party, but now in mortal danger after Trump denounced the agreement in formerly-unprintable terms.
What does Sen. Gardner think about Trump making the discourse safe for “shithole,” you ask?
SENATOR CORY GARDNER: You know, I wasn’t in that meeting with the president. I was in the previous meeting earlier this week, where we talked about- last week, on Tuesday, where we talked about putting a deal together that reflected the four priorities of the president. And I think that we can do this…
So, I think we’re- we-we put together a very responsible plan and I hope that we can build on that. But look, it’s- it’s unbecoming comments, and I hope that we can move beyond that. And I hope that what we see are Republicans and Democrats coming together, not to fight politics, but to actually come up with a solution to address this challenge before us.
JOHN DICKERSON: Do you think just- this word obviously rocketed around this week. It’s also obviously now an international point of conversation. If Senator Cotton is right and Senator Perdue is right, and Senator Durbin made this up, that’s a pretty extraordinary thing. You’ve now got people in the president’s own party saying it’s a racist comment. If-if another senator makes up something that causes people to come to that judgment, that’s a pretty serious thing.
SENATOR CORY GARDNER: Well, look, I’m not going to get into the- the who-said-what-said, [Pols emphasis] but what was reported is unacceptable. But what we have to do is not let that define this moment. Look, we have a very, very serious challenge in front of us. It’s a challenge that the president laid out very clearly this past week.
Given that the central point in the controversy raging around this question today is what President Donald Trump said, it seems like there’s no choice but to “get into” that. What we have here is yet another opportunity for Sen. Gardner to call out the President over something that could not be more unambiguously wrong, and Gardner refusing to do it. He’s not denying that the comments were made, he even calls them “unbecoming”–Gardner just refuses to “get into” discussing them.
A clue as to why could be in Gardner’s choice of words describing the immigration deal he brokered and Trump has now rejected. The “priorities of the president.” The “challenge that the President laid out clearly.” Not only is Gardner avoiding the unsavory part of this story that has attracted the most attention, he’s trying to characterize a deal that Trump has rejected–using the racist language Gardner does not want to acknowledge–as something Trump wants.
We understand Gardner is obliged to say something, but this is just back-breaking contortion.
U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO) is continuing to soften his threat to block Justice Department nominees if U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions won’t reverse his decision to undermine pot legalization in Colorado and elsewhere.
In a radio interview Wednesday, Gardner called U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions a “good man” and said he’s now giving Trump’s Justice Department time to provide pot “enforcement priorities that we need” and to “work with us to protect those states’ rights.”
KNUS radio host Dan Caplis: Your blocking of certain Justice Department appointments until Senator Sessions does what he had promised you he would do. Where does that stand now?
Gardner: Well, I think we have to have an understanding from what then-Senator Sessions had told us, and why it is different today. Because I think there are – not just me, but a number of other Senators who were told one thing, and it turns out that another action was taken. So, we have to have an understanding of why that is the case. And I think we’ll hopefully have that. And I also think this gives us a chance to give the Department of Justice time to provide the transparency and enforcement priorities that we need, and can work with us to protect those states’ rights.
Look, in 2016, when Trump came to CO, he said he was going to protect states’ rights, and he would not use federal powers to do this. And so, under the several provisions that we’ve talked about tonight, I think we can help make sure that President Trump’s word is kept in Colorado.
Gardner got national media attention for his threat last week, delivered from the floor of the U.S. Senate, to block Justice Department nominations in response to Sessions’ decision to rescind an Obama-era policy allowing states to legalize marijuana without federal intervention to stop it.
After his angry floor speech, in an interview with MSNBC, Gardner clarified that he would not block the nomination of judges, stating, “Look, it’s the DOJ appointees. I’m assuming U.S. Marshalls, U.S. Attorneys as well.”
Gardner, who also told MSNBC that he’s never smoked pot, took an even more conciliatory response after meeting with Sessions Wednesday.
“When did you stop beating your wife” is one of the most well-known “loaded questions” in the English language. In a strange new video, Republican gubernatorial candidate Greg Lopez is the first politician in memory who actually answers that question.
In this video posted to YouTube on January 7 by “Greg Lopez for Colorado Governor,” Greg and Lisa Lopez discuss a domestic violence incident from 1993 in which they admit to physically assaulting each other. The video is a bizarre play on the #MeToo movement that is partially about having an open discussion of domestic violence and the importance of counseling…but also a pretty obvious attempt at generating some publicity for a campaign for governor.
Lopez is a former Mayor of Parker who made a half-hearted effort to seek the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate in 2016 (Lopez didn’t have enough support to come close to getting his name on the Primary ballot). Lopez is now making another no-shot bid for statewide office which isn’t likely to advance beyond his apparent ability to influence a GOP county straw poll, and this video is an uncomfortable attempt at making news. The entire video is 9 minutes and 20 seconds of mostly broad generalities about domestic violence and marriage counseling, with a significant helping of political posturing for good measure. Here are some of the, uh, highlights:
(:25 second mark) LISA LOPEZ: Over 24 years ago, that [domestic violence] happened to us in our marriage, and in a twist of irony, it made us stronger in our marriage…stronger as individuals. We learned a lot from it. We grew. Our marriage has survived for this long because we learned to work together, love each other, and respect one another.
GREG LOPEZ: A lot of people out there might be asking, ‘why are we talking about this?’ We’re talking about this because it’s important, and we want everybody out there to know that we don’t condone any type of violence in any home, regardless of ethnicity, regardless of wealth, regardless of what it is [sic]. This kind of issue does not discriminate.
(2:25 mark) LISA LOPEZ:When Greg becomes Governor, we want to bring this to the forefront. [Pols emphasis]
(2:40 mark) GREG LOPEZ: It happened one time, and this is a very traumatic event for anyone to go through. But really, the test of love, the test of character, is how you come out of it. And we are united. We are a team. We have been traveling the state. We’ve been talking to people. We’ve been listening. And we just hope that you listen to us, as we share with you, some of the challenges that we’ve faced in our marriage, and most importantly, how we were able to come out on the other side.
(4:00 mark) GREG LOPEZ: Alcohol is something that we should all be careful about when we utilize it. Not only is it causing a lot of injuries and deaths on the highways, but we find that alcohol oftentimes can alter the judgment of people. I had been drinking that evening. I’m not proud of it, but after nine weeks of counseling — marriage counseling — and I’m proud to say that we’ve been three times since our marriage. And it saved our marriage. And it made us stronger.
(5:24 mark) GREG LOPEZ: For those of you who were wondering, ‘what were the charges?’ Well, we were both charged. We were both charged, and we were both held accountable, for our actions that night. But we did it together.
(6:40 mark) LISA LOPEZ: [On talking with their children about the incident] We instilled upon them, ‘it’s okay to make a mistake. Just don’t continue to repeat it.’
(7:22 mark) GREG LOPEZ:As Governor of Colorado, I will make sure that people understand that life is difficult. When we try to make decisions for the betterment of our families, and our state, and our children, we must always remember that family comes first…[Pols emphasis]
…On this issue of domestic violence, I can assure you: I will make sure that we do not let this issue go off into the dark without some real discussion. Because it’s important. For everyone. All ages. All generations. To know that this is something that, here in Colorado, we do not condone this, and we want to make sure that families are strong and united, and that we all work together to make Colorado a better state.
(8:26 mark) LISA LOPEZ:As first lady, I, like Greg, I echo his sentiment. We need to bring this from the darkness to the light. We need to be there for the victims of domestic violence. [Pols emphasis]
(8:46 mark) GREG LOPEZ:So, Lisa and I ask you, as we continue down this journey to the Governor’s Mansion, we ask for your support. [Pols emphasis]
LISA LOPEZ:We thank you for your support. Not only during the time of the campaign, but when Greg becomes Governor, we are thankful for the support of all the people of Colorado. [Pols emphasis]
Neither Greg nor Lisa Lopez get very specific about their domestic violence incident in the video. Here’s what the Denver Post reported on August 10, 1993:
The mayor of Parker was cited for third-degree assault and taken to a hotel after an argument with his wife allegedly escalated into domestic violence last weekend.
Greg Lopez, 29, is alleged to have pushed his wife, who is six months’ pregnant, to the floor and kicked her after she hit him on the top of his head with a closed fist Friday night, according to a police report of the incident.
Lisa Lopez, 28, was cited for harassment in the altercation.
You might be inclined to look at this video from Lopez as an attempt to get ahead of an issue that could be a strategic problem in his campaign, but that would assume that Lopez is anything more than a gadfly candidate. It’s doubtful that any other Republican campaigns have even bothered doing opposition research on Lopez, who has virtually no chance of winning the Republican nomination for Governor — let alone generating enough support to get his name on the June Primary ballot.
This video appears to be nothing more than a cheap publicity stunt dressed up as a public service announcement. It’s transparently absurd and disgusting — which makes it exactly the kind of politics that have come to define our times.
Trump supporters are going to fall in line with the Twitterer-in-Chief in labeling this some sort of fake news attack, but for those of you with the ability to form your own opinions, CNN’s Chris Cillizza makes a very strong argument for why you should believe the shithole:
…Then, soon after Shah’s comment, came this from an anonymous White House official to CNN’s Kaitlan Collins, “The President’s ‘shithole’ remark is being received much differently inside of the White House than it is outside of it. Though this might enrage Washington, staffers predict the comment will resonate with his base, much like his attacks on NFL players who kneel during the National Anthem did not alienate it.”
According to Collins, Trump spent Thursday evening making calls to friends and associated to gauge how they believed the “shithole countries” story was playing. One White House official told Collins that Trump’s calls amounted to a “victory lap.” [Pols emphasis]
If Trump had really not used the word “shithole” (or something very like it), then why would the White House not come out and issue a blanket denial and a condemnation of the reporting? Why, rather than doing that, would they issue a statement that sought to own his “shithole countries” comment and make political hay out of it?
The answer, of course, is because he said it.
Let’s pause and reflect for a moment on the fact that we are actually having a discussion about whether or not THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES used the word “shithole” to describe other countries in a meeting with Congressional leaders. That this is even a subject of debate speaks volumes about the White House.
At some point during Thursday’s event, the Mesa County Republicans held a “straw poll” vote to express their preference among the GOP candidates for Governor. State Treasurer Walker Stapleton apparently won the most straws, and his campaign was quick to pound its chest in an email announcement:
Last night we attended the Mesa County GOP Governors Straw poll. I’m so humbled by all of the support our campaign received and really enjoyed the opportunity we had to share our campaign’s vision for renewing and inspiring strength in Colorado.
The results of the straw poll were overwhelming: We won the straw poll with a sweeping majority! [Pols emphasis] Here were the totals:
First off, it is a bit embarrassing for Colorado’s frigging STATE TREASURER to call this straw poll win a “sweeping majority.” Stapleton received 35 votes out of a total of 78, which works out to a little less than 45%. This is not a “sweeping majority” or even a regular plain-old “majority,” which can only occur when you receive more than half of the total votes cast. Stapleton’s margin here is what people who are supposed to be familiar with numbers — you know, like State Treasurers — would call a “plurality.” What we have here is some Donald Trumpinauguration crowd math.
Now, as to the rest of the results…
Yes, straw polls are largely meaningless, but they can still provide some interesting information. The most curious number here — other than the 16 votes for Greg Lopez, which is about the same number of people who supported his 2016 U.S. Senate campaign — is the fact that Cynthia Coffman only managed to pick up one vote more than Steve Barlock. Coffman is the sitting Attorney General of Colorado, and Barlock is…some guy named Steve Barlock. Heck, even Mitt Romney’s Nephew got 5 votes, and nobody even knows his real name. This isn’t a definitive problem for Coffman, but it is another bad sign for a campaign that has been trending in the wrong direction since day one.
UPDATE: Nobody else is censoring the word “shithole,” so we stopped bothering to.
Please excuse…well, everybody. We’re all in this together apparently.
Denver7’s Blair Miller reports on an agreement between a small group of U.S. Senators including both Cory Gardner and Michael Bennet of Colorado on an immigration reform package that could in theory break the logjam around this long-vexing issue–creating a good deal of excitement yesterday:
The group – which Denver7 first reported in December was working toward a bipartisan deal – has worked for months to pair the Dream Act, which would extend protections for immigrants brought to the U.S. when they were children, with border security, visa lottery and family-based migration reforms.
Sens. Cory Gardner (R) and Michael Bennet (D) of Colorado are part of the bipartisan group, along with Sens. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Robert Menendez (D-N.J.).
“President Trump called on Congress to solve the DACA challenge,” said a joint press release from the senators. “We have been working for four months and have reached an agreement in principle that addresses border security, the diversity visa lottery, chain migration/family reunification, and the Dream Act—the areas outlined by the President. We are now working to build support for that deal in Congress.”
But as CBS Newsreports today, President Donald Trump is throwing cold water on Gardner and Bennet’s work product in a trademark Twitter barrage this morning:
President Trump on Friday expressed opposition to the “agreement in principle” struck by a bipartisan group of senators to protect so-called “Dreamers” and to enhance border security.
In a series of tweets, Mr. Trump said that it is a “big step backwards” and that his proposed wall along the U.S.-Mexico border was “not properly funded.”
And that, dear readers, is how the President scuttles the deal.
Most of the press attention this morning is focused on a comment reportedly made by Trump yesterday about so-called “shithole countries” that the U.S. shouldn’t prioritize for immigration, and how we “need more people from Norway” as opposed to those “shithole countries” including Haiti.
Once the dust settles from Trump’s latest verbal offense, we’ll still have this more consequential development flying under the radar.