Secretary of State Wayne Williams Rips “Faithless Electors”

Secretary of State Wayne Williams.

Secretary of State Wayne Williams.

The Colorado Independent’s Corey Hutchins reports on a lawsuit filed by two Colorado members of the Electoral College, both Democrats, seeking to switch their votes to a Republican candidate other than Donald Trump in a last-ditch bid to deny Trump the presidency:

Two of Colorado’s nine national electors are taking Colorado to federal court today, challenging a law that requires them to cast their Electoral College votes for Hillary Clinton since she won the state.

The electors, both Democrats, are former state Sen. Polly Baca and Colorado Springs math teacher Bob Nemanich.

In the lawsuit, the first of its kind, according to Electoral College experts, the electors argue the U.S. Constitution allows them to vote their conscience instead of being bound by a decades-old state statute to vote for the candidate who won the state— Clinton, in this case. All 538 national electors will cast their official votes for president in their respective state capitols on Dec. 19.

Colorado’s Republican Secretary of State Wayne Williams fired back with a statement that could be the most strongly-worded of his political career:

Instead of honoring the will of the Coloradans who voted for them, these two faithless electors seek to conspire with electors from other states to elect a president who did not receive a single vote in November. Indeed, the very Federalist 68 they cite cautions us that “every practical obstacle should be opposed to cabal, intrigue, and corruption.” Yet that is exactly what the electors here have succumbed to: cabal, intrigue and corruption. The court should reject this illegal conspiracy.

Make no mistake, this is not some noble effort to fight some unjust or unconstitutional law; rather, this is an arrogant attempt by two faithless electors to elevate their personal desires over the entire will of the people of Colorado. And in so doing, they seek to violate Colorado law and their own pledges. The very notion of two Colorado electors ignoring Colorado’s popular vote in an effort to sell their vote to electors in other states is odious to everything we hold dear about the right to vote. It is this type of evil that President Franklin Roosevelt warned us about when he cautioned that voters — not elected officials such as these faithless electors — are “the ultimate rulers of our democracy.”

Ouch! Do you think he’s mad?

It’s very unlikely that this attempt will succeed of course–and given the ugly potential consequences of the Electoral College upending the will of the voters in this manner, we’d say that most Americans, even the majority of Americans who voted against Trump, would not want this if they thought it through. A more legitimate method of denying Trump his Electoral College victory is through the recounts proceeding in several “Rust Belt” states, and that effort does not appear to be headed for success either.

With that said, one way this suit could be impactful to future events is to further delegitimize the Electoral College system in general, exposing another defect in a system widely criticized after a second Republican won the presidency while losing the popular vote. In Trump’s case, we’re talking about losing by millions of votes, and causing more Americans to question the process than ever before.

Bottom line: when both sides game the system, one to win and the other to try to stop them, maybe it’s the system that’s the problem.

Boeing Survives Trump Twitter Onslaught–This Time

UPDATE: MarketWatch tallies the damage:

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President-elect Donald Trump.

President-elect Donald Trump.

President-elect Donald Trump’s Twitter account, which may or may not be making autonomous decisions about the fate of the free world at this point, struck again early this morning with an outburst directed at one of America’s most important worldwide export businesses, aircraft manufacturer Boeing:

Donald Trump on Tuesday called for the cancellation of a Defense Department contract with Boeing to build the next generation of presidential aircraft, decrying the deal as too expensive.

“Boeing is building a brand new 747 Air Force One for future presidents, but costs are out of control, more than $4 billion. Cancel order!” the president-elect wrote on Twitter.

As it turns out, Trump’s Twitter tirade against Boeing came in response to comments from the CEO of the company that were apparently not supportive enough of the incoming President’s trade policies:

Trump’s tweet came just 22 minutes after the Chicago Tribune published comments by Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg, who said he worried that Trump’s promises of a more protectionist trade policy could hurt his company, which does robust business with China. Muilenburg told the Tribune that he would urge the president-elect to take a warmer stance toward the kinds of trade deals he railed against on the campaign trail, warning, “If we do not lead when it comes to writing these rules, our competitors will write them for us.”

Per usual, nobody knows where Trump got these numbers from, as Yahoo! News’ Michael Walsh reports:

It’s not clear how Trump, who frequently tweets exaggerated or baseless claims, arrived at that number. Reuters, citing budget documents, reported that the “budgeted costs for the Air Force One replacement program are $2.87 billion for the fiscal years 2015 through 2021.”

The aircraft manufacturing company issued a statement clarifying that it is currently under contract for $170 million to determine the capabilities of the new aircraft.

But who cares? The message Trump wanted to send was sent.

Boeing stock slumped Tuesday morning in the wake of the president-elect’s remark, [Pols emphasis] but rebounded somewhat as the morning progressed.

Yes, Boeing’s stock price rebounded once the market realized Trump’s attacks were baseless, but Trump’s ability to hurt Boeing’s market valuation just by Tweeting about them is a warning that very few CEOs in America will miss. The nexus of President-elect Trump’s celebrity influence and the real power he is about to have as President is producing something new in our politics.

And if Trump is going to use it to silence his critics, it’s both new and scary.

Get More Smarter on Tuesday (December 6)

Get More SmarterToday is Colorado Gives Day; if you have an email account, you’re probably well aware of this already. It’s time to Get More Smarter with Colorado Pols. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of a visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show.

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► You’d have better luck finding someone who actually likes fruit cake than hearing that Senator Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) is actually being asked substantive questions about…well, about anything.

 

► Serving on President-elect Donald Trump’s transition team may be one of the more pointless endeavors in Washington D.C. As Politico reports:

While Donald Trump dines on frog legs with Mitt Romney and meets with a parade of lawmakers and governors in his gold-plated Midtown skyscraper, most of his transition staff are hunkered down in Washington, D.C., writing detailed governing plans for his first 100 days.

But so far, Trump and his inner circle have largely ignored those plans as they focus on top appointments and lean on the advice of politicians, CEOs and donors, rather than on their transition staff, say sources close to the transition.

The president-elect, meanwhile, has been more likely to set policy on Twitter than through consultation with his D.C. advisers.

“The senior people are all focused on Cabinet appointments,” said a Republican official involved in past transitions. “I wonder how much time, attention and decision-making is being allocated to the rest of the government. … It is not a recipe for smooth governance.”

In a separate story for PoliticoAlex Isenstadt writes that President-elect Twitterer is gradually taking over the Republican Party.

 

► The 2018 race for Governor will be the marquee event on Colorado’s political calendar for the next two years, and the scuttlebutt has already begun to, uh, scuttle.

 

Get even more smarter after the jump… (more…)

Tuesday Open Thread

“If you leave the smallest corner of your head vacant for a moment, other people’s opinions will rush in from all quarters.”

–George Bernard Shaw

Democratic ’18 Guv Race a Two-Plus Affair (For Now)

Ken Salazar, Ed Perlmutter.

Ken Salazar, Ed Perlmutter.

Veteran political reporter Peter Marcus opens some speculation about the 2018 Colorado gubernatorial race over at Colorado Politics, and there are a couple of points worth reinforcing even at this early stage of the game:

Ken Salazar and his inner-circle have been quiet about what the San Luis Valley Democrat’s intentions are, though many say he is first considering the impact a run would have on his family. Salazar has already had a long career in politics, so he might just want to retire, his friends say…

Another name that keeps popping up is U.S. Rep. Ed Perlmutter of Golden, a strong campaigner who has the ability to bridge the party.

“I think he’s thinking about it, he’s trying to decide how he can best serve the state and what we need to do for the future of Colorado,” said state Rep.-elect Chris Kennedy, a Jefferson County Democrat who is close with Perlmutter.

“The biggest thing we need to take away from the election is that authenticity matters, and that’s a place where Ed Perlmutter is really strong,” Kennedy continued.

Other Democratic names in the mix for discussion purposes in Marcus’ story include former Colorado Treasurer Cary Kennedy, Sen. Michael Merrifield of Colorado Springs, and Sen. Michael Johnston of Denver–the latter being a relatively “dark horse” contender who even most political insiders don’t realize is interested in the race.

Despite a healthy field of well-qualified potential Democratic candidates, at this point serious discussion has to boil down to former Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and Rep. Ed Perlmutter of Golden. Either of these candidates are top-tier in terms of qualifications and name ID. For many years now, there has been a presumption among insider Democrats that the successorship to Gov. John Hickenlooper was Salazar’s to turn down, but Marcus is correct that this presumption may be wearing thin with the passage of time. Salazar has served at high executive levels, but he has been out of any kind of office for several years. Salazar’s most recent work with Hillary Clinton’s abortive transition team may not freshen his resume enough to clear the field for the 2018 gubernatorial race.

One other point to consider is that Perlmutter moving up to the gubernatorial race would free up a “logjam” of qualified Jefferson County Democrats to ascend–into his seat, and then into seat(s) vacated by successor candidates. It’s to Perlmutter’s credit that he has proven such an able representative in CD-7, there has never been any real dissatisfaction among Democrats with him–let alone a primary challenger. But if Ed moves up, there are lots of able young Democrats who would be ready to move up with him.

We’ll be watching closely to see what both Salazar and Perlmutter decide.

Maybe Somebody Should Ask Cory Gardner

Wanna hide from the media? Just stand next to Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma).

Senator Cory Gardner (R-Yuma), seen here not being asked relevant questions about anything.

Colorado Senator Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) has had an interesting few months in what has been a fascinating time in American politics. You might not be aware of this, because we only seem to hear from Gardner via prepackaged nothing burger statements with no meaningful follow-up from relevant media outlets.

For example, take Gardner’s answer over the weekend about President-elect Donald Trump’s questionable decision to have a conversation with the leader of Taiwan. From ABC News:

Colorado Republican Sen. Cory Gardner, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations subcommittee on East Asia and Pacific affairs, said he looks forward to working with the president-elect to find ways to “strengthen our relationship with our ally and friend, Taiwan.”

“The friendship between our two countries is important, and I am glad to hear the president-elect is committed to that friendship,” Gardner said in a statement.

That’s…it? Really? Nothing else about how the call might affect U.S. relations with friggin’ China?

Today the Denver Post has a story — via the Washington Post — with more specifics about the Trump-Taiwan call, including the fact that the “protocol-breaking” phone call was “an intentionally provocative move” by the incoming administration. We don’t need to tell you that you shouldn’t bother looking for a quote from Gardner in this story, nevermind that Colorado’s junior Senator is the CHAIRMAN ON THE SENATE FOREIGN RELATIONS SUBCOMMITTEE ON EAST ASIA AND PACIFIC AFFAIRS.

It hasn’t exactly been difficult to locate Gardner in the last couple of months. When he wasn’t busy trying to convince people that Hillary Clinton was dead, Gardner spent most of his time in the final stages of the 2016 election traveling around the country helping Senate candidates in tough re-election contests (so long as they weren’t named Darryl Glenn). Gardner’s Senate-stumping paid off after the election when he was named as the new head of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, which puts him in charge of Republican efforts to maintain their Senate majority in 2018.

On the topic of the biggest political issue in the country world — the election of Donald Trump as President — Gardner has skated along without having to answer any real questions from reporters. Gardner half-assedly endorsed Trump for President in August but quickly called on the GOP nominee to drop out of the race altogether after multiple stories emerged about Trump sexually harassing women. Gardner has been mostly silent since Trump’s surprise victory, but don’tworryeverythingisfine. As Bloomberg News reports today:

Another group of former Never-Trump senators is trying to move past the campaign, including Cory Gardner of Colorado, one of several Republicans who unendorsed Trump after the “Access Hollywood” tape on which he bragged about groping women. Early on, Gardner referred to Trump as a “buffoon.”

“I’ve had several conversations with Trump and the Trump administration and look forward to working with them,” said Gardner, who will head the Senate Republicans’ campaign arm for the 2018 cycle.

Uh…okay. That’s it? The election has been over for nearly a month now, and we still haven’t heard anything substantial from Gardner about Trump. That’s not okay.

Just last week, Mark Matthews of the Denver Post made a point to chastise Rep. Jared Polis (D-Boulderish) for refusing to comment on the election of Nancy Pelosi as House Minority Leader. It was silly for Polis to not just pause and answer a question — we’re certainly not excusing Polis here — but where is Matthews’ dogged determination in following up with one of Colorado’s two U.S. Senators on issues that are much more relevant to most Coloradans? What about asking Gardner to explain how he supports “bailouts” for the insurance industry in repealing Obamacare when Gardner has railed on exactly this subject for years?

No elected official in Colorado regularly gets away with saying nothing quite like Cory Gardner.

Prof Apologizes for Comments Attacking “Snowflakes” Wearing Safety Pins to Class

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

An assistant professor of legal studies at Colorado Christian University apologized Friday for “any offense” she might have caused in stating during a radio show Wednesday that she’d fail students who “wear a safety pin and ask for a safe space.” She also said on air that she’d “tear” safety pins from students.

“I would like to apologize and clarify the comments I made while co-hosting KLZ 560 talk radio this week in my personal capacity, and not on behalf of Colorado Christian University. I certainly did not intend to offend anyone, and my comments were not intended to be taken literally,” said Jenna Ellis, an assistant professor of legal studies and leadership at CCU in a statement. “Please accept my genuine apology for any offense I might have caused. CCU is an institution that values free thinking, discussion, debate, tough questions, and our students are encouraged to think critically and creatively.”

Asked by KLZ radio host Dan Meurer Nov. 30 if there were “safe spaces” at CCU, Ellis said:

“No, there are not, and if any of my students wear a safety pin and ask for a safe space, I will tear it off them and fail them in my class,” replied Ellis, with a partial laugh. “And they know it too. We have no snowflakes on campus.”

Ellis’ comments refer to safety pins worn being worn by some people in the wake of the presidential election, symbolizing support for groups, such as Muslims and undocumented immigrants, who have said they feel threatened by Trump.

Ellis first declined to comment on her radio remarks but later provided a comment via email.

CCU’s website states that Ellis sees “biblical truth” as the place “where we begin, and integrate the learning of law and leadership into our Christian worldview.”

CCU, which is located in Lakewood, does not hide its conservative orientation, with past university leaders, such as former GOP Senator Bill Armstrong, being high-profile Republicans. Armstrong died this year.

But CCU is also known for holding open and public debates –via its conservative Centennial Institute and elsewhere–about current political issues.

Get More Smarter on Monday (December 5)

Get More SmarterHell hasn’t frozen over — as far as we know — but Hawaii is expected to get up to six inches of snow. It’s time to Get More Smarter with Colorado Pols. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of a visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show.

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► If you aren’t paying attention to Republican plans surrounding Obamacare, it’s time to get serious. As we wrote in this space over the weekend, Republicans are eager to dump Obamacare and replace it with…basically the same thing, only with a different name and with massive public bailouts of the insurance industry attached. Mother Jones has a good explanation of this entire mess.

 

► President-elect Donald Trump has officially selected former neurosurgeon Ben Carson as his Secretary of Housing and Urban Development. As CNN reports, you have reason to be concerned about Carson’s ability to direct a big government agency (don’t take our word for it):

Carson’s name had been attached to multiple cabinet-level positions throughout the transition process, most significantly the position of Health and Human Services secretary. But, according to Carson aide Armstrong Williams, the veteran neurosurgeon turned down an offer of that position due to his lack of experience running a federal agency.

“He’s never run an agency and it’s a lot to ask. He’s a neophyte and that’s not his strength,” Williams said.

And to think: Ben Carson made a reasonably-effective run for the Republican Presidential nomination in 2016.

 

► After weeks of baseless claims about election fraud, North Carolina Republican Gov. Pat McCrory has finally conceded his re-election bid to Democrat Roy Cooper. Maybe it wasn’t such a good idea to push that nonsense transgender bathroom bill in North Carolina, eh, soon-to-be-former Governor McCrory?

 

Get even more smarter after the jump… (more…)

Monday Open Thread

“Both read the Bible day and night, but thou read black where I read white.”

–William Blake

Weekend Open Thread

“Voting is completely important. People in America think democracy is a given. I think of it as an ecosystem, and what gets in the way of it is politicians and apathy.”

–Henry Rollins

So You Want To “Repeal Obamacare,” Do You?

Sen. Cory Gardner.

Sen. Cory Gardner.

UPDATE: Oh, and BTW, people kinda like Obamacare after all — and are signing up in record numbers.

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With the election of Donald Trump as President and solid Republican majorities in the U.S. House and Senate, President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act, a.k.a. Obamacare, is seen as a very likely target for swift repeal. After all, Republicans have made the promise to repeal Obama’s signature reform law central to the last three general election campaigns. But as Salon’s Matt Rozsa reports, the plan to repeal Obamacare is looking more convoluted every day:

Republicans are be determined to pass an Obamacare repeal bill as soon as Donald Trump becomes president in January, but after that, everything seems to be up in the air. And so, in true free-market fashion, they’re prepared to give the health insurance industry a massive bailout to counter the problems they’re going to create. [Pols emphasis]

Republicans in congress are talking to health insurance companies, The Hill reported Thursday, hoping that they can prevent a collapse of the insurance market if and when they repeal the Affordable Care Act.

The idea is for the Trump administration to pay any insurance companies that suffer heavy losses as a result of Obamacare’s repeal. This approach may prevent premiums from rising and patients from being dropped by their plans (maybe), but it would certainly be viewed as a bailout to insurance companies — one of the very charges Republicans made against President Obama when he was trying to pass the Affordable Care Act.

That Republicans are settling on a plan that would give insurance companies an enormous bailout to weather losses caused by the ACA’s repeal is particularly galling here in Colorado, where Sen. Cory Gardner has grandstanded against the idea of “Obamacare bailouts”–like the loans provided to Colorado HealthOP, the Obamacare insurance co-op forced to shut down last year after federal funds to keep the operation solvent while starting up were cut off. Despite Gardner’s role in cutting the co-op funds off, Gardner mischaracterized the “bailout” of the co-ops in terms that surely can’t make this new plan to bail out commercial insurers look good:

Several co-ops counted on these bailout provisions to keep premiums artificially low. Because these premiums were artificially low and since many co-ops were planning on receiving the bailout, many could no longer cover their expenses.

In other words, exactly what Republicans plan to do with the rest of Obamacare–bailouts to keep premiums “artificially low!” Except Republicans don’t find this presumably much larger bailout to be a problem, since it’s helping getting rid of a law they don’t like. Unfortunately, it’s anybody’s guess what we’ll end up with in the long term. The new “plan” for repeal involves a three-year “transition period,” during which Obamacare will continue to function in some capacity, followed by its eventual replacement with…something else.

They haven’t figured that part out yet.

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-California, made a similar point. “I think once it’s repealed, you will have hopefully fewer people playing politics and [instead] coming together to try to find the best policy,” McCarthy said, before adding that “a date certain that something’s going away . . .  you know you have to have something done.” [Pols emphasis]

For the millions of Americans and thousands of Coloradans who have gotten covered through the Affordable Care Act, and millions more who have benefited from the law’s numerous reforms to coverage and care that have nothing to do with premiums, this is not reassuring in the least. As for Gardner, now so willing to swallow the “bailouts” that outraged him before they became part of a Republican plan?

Is there no one left to call out his absolute hypocrisy?

DNC Chair Candidates Converge On Denver

FRIDAY UPDATE: News breaking from today’s Democratic chair forum via Peter Marcus:

—–

seanscreamWashington Post via the Denver Post, big Democratic names are arriving in Denver for a forum tomorrow featuring candidates to be the next chair of the Democratic National Committee:

The “Future of the Party Forum” comes as the race for chairman of the Democratic National Committee has emerged as a proxy battle for the direction of the party with President-elect Donald Trump preparing to enter the White House and Republicans retaining control of both chambers of Congress.

The hopefuls planning to participate Friday include Ray Buckley, the chairman of the New Hampshire Democratic Party; Howard Dean, a former governor of Vermont; Keith Ellison, a Minnesota congressman; and Jaime Harrison, the chairman of the South Carolina Democratic Party.

Several others are also eyeing the race, including Ilyse Hogue, the president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, who earlier this week laid out her vision of where the DNC should head in a Medium post. The proposals from Hogue, who has yet to declare her candidacy, include re-examining the electoral college, in which Trump prevailed despite losing the popular vote to Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.

Rep. Keith Ellison of Minnesota and former Gov. Howard Dean of Vermont are by most accounts the two top names in the race to be the next DNC chair. Ellison has attracted a bevy of endorsements from leading Democrats like Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, while Gov. Dean’s last tenure as DNC chair is fondly remembered by Democrats due to the success of his so-called “50 State Strategy”–a strategy that coincided with Barack Obama’s victory and the last Democratic majority in Congress.

We’ve been insulated from the worst in Colorado, but since Dean’s chairmanship ended, Democrats have lost power at every level of government, from the U.S. Senate to state houses around the country–and now the White House. The bitter presidential primary battle this year between Sanders and Hillary Clinton, which ended the rule of DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz in a hail of acrimony, has left deep divisions that the next chair will have to bridge.

We doubt tomorrow’s forum will see much press coverage, but it could tell us a lot about the Democratic Party’s future.

Will Steve House Ever Be Governor? (Answer: No)

houseforgopchairPeter Marcus writes for Colorado Politics:

Colorado Republican Party Chairman Steve House is unsure whether he will seek re-election next year as he continues to mull a run for governor in 2018.

House, who has served as chairman of the party since March 2015, said he doesn’t want to put the party through chaos if he does choose to enter the gubernatorial race.

“If I were to run for governor, the one thing I would not do is run for chair again,” House told ColoradoPolitics.com.

“Just because I don’t run for chair doesn’t mean I’m going to run for governor. But the one thing I wouldn’t do to the party is run for chair and then drop out and run for governor, because I think that would be too damaging for the party.”

The first and most obvious point here is that the GOP field to run for Colorado’s open gubernatorial seat in 2018 is full of bigger names than party chairman Steve House, such as Treasurer Walker Stapleton. It would be a major surprise for all of the candidates higher up the food chain to pull out or fail to the extent that House might be competitive.

As far as House running again for Colorado GOP chairman, it’s hard to see that working out much better. House’s high-profile clash with Attorney General Cynthia Coffman was enormously damaging to both House’s and Coffman’s reputations, and the unresolved bad blood stemming from that red-on-red battle strongly points to a change of leadership at the earliest opportunity. And all that before even considering the still-unresolved #NeverTrump fiasco, part of a chain of events that could leave Colorado in the proverbial doghouse during the incoming Donald Trump administration.

What was it House did before he got into politics again? That’s probably where he should be looking for his next opportunity.

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