Obama, Clinton Stumping Hard for Congressional Races

Here comes Obama!

Here comes Obama.

As CNN reports, Democratic Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton is increasingly shifting her campaign resources toward helping Democrats in winning close Congressional seats around the country:

After nearly five months of ripping into Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton suddenly has a new list of enemies on the campaign trail: Republican candidates in competitive down-ballot races.

Clinton’s pivot is an unmistakable sign that she and her top aides have never felt more confident about victory on November 8…

…Determined to capitalize on her opponent’s her opponent’s recent struggles, Clinton has picked up her pace of campaigning, and in the final two weeks of the 2016 race, she will crisscross the country to vouch for Democrats in tough congressional races.

Her ultimate goal is to secure a Democratic-controlled Senate — crucial to a Clinton administration’s ability to set an aggressive first-term agenda.

President Barack Obama is also turning up the heat in several competitive Congressional battles around the country. Obama directly criticized Republican Rep. Darrell Issa at a fundraiser in La Jolla, California on Sunday. Here in Colorado today, Obama formally endorsed Democrat Morgan Carroll in CD-6. As the Aurora Sentinel reports, here’s the full statement of Obama’s endorsement:

“I’m proud to endorse Morgan Carroll for the United States House of Representatives,” Obama said. “Over the last eight years, we’ve made tremendous strides towards making our nation safer, stronger, and fairer, but it’s clear that to continue this progress, we need to send more commonsense leaders like Morgan Carroll to Congress to get things done for the middle class. Morgan Carroll is a champion for Colorado families — fighting for good-paying jobs and better wages, and isn’t afraid to take on the tough fights, like defending a woman’s right to make her own healthcare decisions, passing tough campaign finance and lobbying reform laws, making sure we keep our sacred promises to our nation’s veterans and their families, and addressing the crushing burden of student loan debt felt by so many Colorado students. Morgan Carroll is the kind of tough and smart leader who will build on all we’ve accomplished and take our nation forward, and that’s why I know Coloradans can count on Morgan Carroll.”

Coffman is touting  his own list of endorsements, though they are decidedly less interesting than President Obama’s backing:

Coffman rolled out his own partisan praise last week, announcing the endorsement of area Republican mayors and county commissioners.

We wrote last week that the worst-case-scenario for Republicans was that disaffected GOP voters just wouldn’t bother voting at all. But if Obama and Clinton are confident enough about the top of the ticket with two weeks left that they are going to focus their efforts on down-ballot races…well, the worst-case-scenario for Republicans might have changed significantly.

Get More Smarter on Monday (October 24)

GetMoreSmarter-SnowYou’ve got one week left to find the perfect Halloween costume. 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.


► Got ballot? Your 2016 ballot may be sitting in your mailbox at this very moment; election officials began mailing out ballots on Monday. For voting information or to check your registration, go to JustVoteColorado.org. If you would prefer to vote at a polling place rather than via mail balloting, check here for your nearest polling location. Denver7 also includes a good list of election-related information. And one more thing: Don’t take selfies with your ballot, please.


► For the first time in recent memory, Democrats continue to outpace Republicans in early voting returns in Colorado…but it’s not just here where Democrats are turning out to vote early. The Washington Post notes that early voting favors Democrats in Nevada, and as Public Policy Polling explains, the same is true in North Carolina:

PPP’s newest North Carolina poll finds that Democrats are running up large leads already during early voting. Among those who say they’ve already voted, 63% say they cast their ballots for Hillary Clinton to only 37% for Donald Trump. Interestingly, less than half of a percent say they voted for Gary Johnson, which could be a sign that he won’t end up getting that much more support than a normal third party candidate.


► The 2016 election concludes in just 15 days. As Chris Cillizza notes for “The Fix,” this isn’t nearly enough time for Donald Trump to find a way out of his giant crater:

Clinton now has 323 electoral votes either solidly for her or leaning her way. Trump has just 180. (Reminder: You need 270 to win.) And, virtually all of the vulnerability from here until Nov. 8 is on Trump’s side. Arizona and Utah, two states that haven’t voted for a Democratic presidential nominee since 1996 and 1964, respectively, are toss ups! Texas, the one large-population state that has long been considered solidly Republican is within mid-single digits! States like Colorado and Virginia — swing states in the last two elections — aren’t even real opportunities for Trump anymore!

Cillizza and the Washington Post are moving Nevada to “lean Democratic,” while putting Utah in the “toss up” category and even listing Texas as potentially competitive in the race for President.

Meanwhile, as Politico reports, Donald Trump is starting to grapple with one of his oldest adversaries: Reality.

Fifteen days out from Election Day, a tone of resignation has crept into Donald Trump’s talk about his presidential ambitions, even as he still barks loudly about winning in November.

The Republican presidential nominee expressed both sentiments Monday morning, acknowledging during a radio interview that he’s losing, while also boasting “we are winning” to his millions of supporters on Twitter, an incorrect claim that he accused the media of concealing…

…He also rolled back — slightly — his refusal to say that he’ll accept the outcome of the election, saying “too much is being made” about his declaration on last week’s final debate stage.


► Just when you might have thought the “The Most Knowingly False Campaign Advertisement” of 2016 couldn’t get any worse…it done got worse. As we explained over the weekend, voters in SD-19 are getting fortune cookies in the mail.



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

Bush Cousin Stapleton Doesn’t Disavow Trump

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Walker Stapleton

Walker Stapleton

In an appearance on KNUS 710-AM’s Kelley and Kafer Oct. 11, Colorado Treasurer Walker Stapleton chose not to disavow Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump–as Stapleton’s second cousin, failed presidential canidate Jeb Bush, has done.

Asked by host Steve Kelley for a “quick comment” about the “top of the ticket,” Stapleton stopped short of denouncing the mogul:

Stapleton: “Well, you know, I think it’s a messy situation. It’s an unfortunate situation. I think it’s a lost opportunity to expose the many, many flaws that Hillary Clinton has.  I think she’s a very duplicitous individual. And I just wish we could find a way to pull it together. And in the last month of the campaign, we should be uniting Republicans, not dividing Republicans. So, I’m pretty frustrated, as you might imagine, with the ‘macro’ — I guess — state of affairs on the national level, which is why I am really redoubling my efforts to focus here in Colorado on what’s at stake on the ballot this election cycle.”

The radio appearance marks the second time Stapleton, who’s mentioned as a possible gubernatorial candidate in 2018, has passed on a chance denounce Trump. Last week, the Colorado Independent’s Marianne Goodland posted a story about the reaction of Colorado Republicans to Trump, and Stapleton did not return the Independent’s request to comment.

Other Replicans rumored to be considering future runs for statewide office,  Attorney General Cynthia Coffman and District Attorney George Brauchler, did not returns calls and/or emails from The Independent.

With Trump unlikely to disappear from the national Republican stage after the upcoming election, the current stance of future Republican candidates toward Trump could prove important next year and beyond.

Stapleton is the second cousin of former President George W. Bush and of failed presidential candidate Jeb Bush, who sparred with Trump repeatedly during the Republican presidential primary. Jeb’s and W’s father, and Stapleton’s first cousin, is former President George Herbert Walker Bush, with “Walker” as the linneage connecting Walker Stapleton to the Bushes.

Jeb Bush has stated that he will not vote for Trump, and neither will his mother Barbara Bush.

Jeb Bush, whom Stapleton supported of course, wrote on Facebook:

Jeb Bush: The American Presidency is an office that goes beyond just politics. It requires of its occupant great fortitude and humility and the temperament and strong character to deal with the unexpected challenges that will inevitably impact our nation in the next four years.

Donald Trump has not demonstrated that temperament or strength of character. He has not displayed a respect for the Constitution. And, he is not a consistent conservative. These are all reasons why I cannot support his candidacy.

The reaction of Colorado Republicans to Trump has spanned the full spectrum, from enthusiastic support to denunciation.

Monday Open Thread

“The reason I talk to myself is because I’m the only one whose answers I accept.”

–George Carlin

False “China Girl” Attacks Escalate In Key Swing Senate Race

We’ve been talking quite a bit in recent days about a false allegation being used repeatedly against SD-19 Democratic candidate Rachel Zenzinger–a claim that Zenzinger “voted to use public funds for a trip to China as Arvada City Councillor.” This allegation was originally used against Zenzinger in her 2014 race, where it was swiftly ruled “Pants on Fire” false by fact-checkers. Not only did Zenzinger introduce a motion requiring that no public funds be used on any such trip, Zenzinger never went to China.

After another mail piece from Republican-aligned attack group Colorado Citizens for Accountable Government featuring Zenzinger wearing a Vietnamese-style hat arrived in SD-19 mailboxes last week, Zenzinger’s campaign filed a criminal complaint with Jefferson County DA Pete Weir. But then just a couple of days later, before anyone could even address that complaint, a small package began showing up in SD-19 mailboxes:


That’s right, folks. They’re mailing out fortune cookies.


A press release yesterday from Zenzinger’s campaign makes no attempt to conceal their anger–and at this point, who wouldn’t be?

Demonstrating the highest degree of disregard for the Jefferson County District Attorney’s office, a Republican group called Colorado Citizens for Accountable Government sent the packages with the false message that the cookie commemorates “Rachel Zenzinger’s vote for a taxpayer-funded trip to China.” Zenzinger has never been to China.

Just two days previously, Zenzinger had filed a complaint with the DA’s office about false mailers that implied she had taken a personal vacation to China using taxpayers’ money. In public statements following her interaction with the DA’s office, Zenzinger called upon her opponent, Sen. Laura Woods, to disavow these false ads. Woods has not responded.

“As far as we can determine, this strategy by Woods’ supporters represents a new low in Colorado political campaigning, and in fact it is not a strategy at all,” said Zenzinger. “The word strategy implies some element of creativity, and there is none here. Some desperate Republican henchman decided at some point it would be better to create this outright lie, rather than lose the election and possibly lose majority control of the Senate.”

The majority leader in the Senate is Bill Cadman, who has publicly acknowledged that he will do whatever the Koch Brothers tell him to do, with no regard for ethics or even legalities. It is a violation of Colorado Revised Statue 1-13-109 to distribute material in an election that is knowingly false, and the crime is considered a first class misdemeanor.

“I’m looking into the future, and I would say fortunes look bleak for the people who concocted this criminal ad campaign,” said Zenzinger.

Ever since it became clear that this Republican attack group was focusing almost solely on a proven-false allegation, doubling down on it after adverse fact-checks and even deceptively quoting from those fact-checks in new mailings, we’ve been trying to figure out the real motive for this almost unprecedented campaign of lies against Zenzinger. Obviously, the “China Girl” attack polls well for the GOP, but there’s more to this strategy at this point. Is it possible that Republicans are hoping the backlash over this lie will help them some way? In these low-information downballot races, everyone is looking for an edge to cut through the noise and raise awareness about the race any way they can.

After some deliberation, we do think it’s possible that this is a test–to see if the continuous application of an demonstrable falsehood in a low-information race, with all the outrage, criminal complaints, and hostile press coverage that this falsehood is ginning up, can still be a net positive for the Republican candidate.

On an objective, nonpartisan level, it’s a test everyone should hope they fail.

Rep. Tim Leonard, You’re in a World of Hurt

SUNDAY UPDATE: Via the Colorado Statesman’s Ernest Luning, Rep. Tim Leonard’s response to the story:


Here’s what’s important to remember: Rep. Leonard’s wife has the court-appointed authority to make education decisions for her kids, and Leonard does not. So when Leonard bemoans the fact that “the school requires two signatures on a form,” or that he only wants to opt the kid out from a test like any “good parent,” left unsaid is the fact that he is using these situations to meddle with his wife’s court-ordered authority–to the extent that he has been ruled in contempt of court.

Which invites a more basic question: how is it that Leonard has seen fit to file some 80 motions against his wife over their divorce, but Leonard can’t follow simple instructions from a judge about letting his wife make these decisions? We’d say the answer lies in what Leonard’s ex-wife describes as “controlling and manipulative behavior.”

Rep. Leonard’s response to this story did him no favors.


Rep. Tim Leonard

Rep. Tim Leonard

A story breaking today from the Colorado Independent’s Marianne Goodland spells bad news for one of the state’s most conservative lawmakers, Rep. Tim Leonard of Evergreen:

During a hearing in Jefferson County District Court on Sept. 29th, a magistrate scolded Leonard for repeatedly shrugging off the judge’s order and interfering with his ex-wife’s educational decisions.

This time, it could cost him his freedom.

Magistrate Marianne Marshall Tims found Leonard in contempt of court on two charges related to educational decision-making. She said she intends to enter a punitive sanction, which she told him could be a jail sentence of up to six months. But the hearing adjourned after 5 p.m. in the business day, after the bailiff had ended the shift.

“If it was earlier, Mr. Leonard, you need to know that a sheriff would be coming to take you into custody,” the magistrate said, according to a transcript of the hearing obtained by The Colorado Independent this week. [Pols emphasis]

The situation presents novel possibilities if Leonard were to be in jail for contempt of court on a civil matter at the start of the legislative session in January. Perhaps they’d let him vote from his cell? Of course, this presumes the situation Leonard finds himself in doesn’t cost him his seat on November 8th. And depending on what happens in the coming days, that’s something we wouldn’t take for granted.


Mike Coffman ‘Doesn’t Know’ If Trump Is a Sexual Predator. Colorado Women Do.

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

coffmansmileDenver – Karen Middleton, Executive Director of NARAL Pro-Choice Colorado, today issued the following statement about Rep. Mike Coffman’s response that he “doesn’t know” if Donald Trump is a sexual  predator during the 9News debate Thursday night:

“Mike Coffman said he doesn’t know if Donald Trump is a sexual predator. Colorado women do. Grabbing a woman’s body without her consent is the definition of sexual assault. This is not difficult.

As the Aurora Sentinel put it in their editorial today, “What Trump did was perverse and criminal. It legally constitutes sexual assault, and it’s morally repulsive.”

…He can’t have it both ways on this issue. Trump’s blatant misogyny and admitted sexual assaults are not debatable political philosophies”

The fact that Mike Coffman seems unclear on this point could explain why he voted to redefine rape. We believe a woman has a right to control to her own body. Mike Coffman’s anti-choice record demonstrates he does not.

This is just one more reason why we support Senator Morgan Carroll for Congress.  She is a pro-choice champion with NARAL Pro-Choice Colorado, has a 100% rating on our 2016 Legislative Scorecard, and has been endorsed by NARAL Pro-Choice America. We know that Colorado women deserve someone who will take the time to listen to them, believe them, and take action.  Morgan Carroll will stand with the women of CD6.  She would never say “I don’t know” about sexual assault for political expedience.”

Debate Diary: Carroll v. Coffman, Round 3

DebateDiaryFor what should be our last Debate Diary of the 2016 election season, we’re taking you through what we’ve already speculated would be “The Most Pivotal Debate of 2016” in Colorado.

The third and final televised debate in CO-6 between Democratic challenger Morgan Carroll and incumbent Republican Rep. Mike Coffman took place on Thursday evening and was televised live via 9News on Channel 20 (channel 657 for Comcast subscribers). If you missed the debate in favor of Thursday night football or Game 5 of the National League Championship Series (the Chicago Cubs are now one win away from the World Series) — or for any other number of reasons — we’ve got you covered with a complete question-by-question rundown.

You may have already heard about the biggest news from Thursday’s debate: Coffman’s inexplicable answer to a question about Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump’s offensive remarks about women. Debate moderator Kyle Clark asked both candidates if Trump’s own comments are indicative of a sexual predator; Coffman responded by saying, “I don’t know” before desperately trying to change the subject.

*NOTE: When we do our “live” Debate Diaries, we normally list the most current update at the top of the page. But because we’re posting this entire Debate Diary at once, it makes more sense to write it out chronologically from the top-down. As always, unless it is in direct quotes, consider all statements paraphrased in the interest of time and the prevention of carpal tunnel syndrome.  



Woods apparently thinks twice about thanking Democrats

(The wrong color of astroturf? – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Woods deleted Facebook postRepublican State Sen. Laura Woods of Arvada has removed a post from her Facebook page, in which she thanked alleged “supporters from the Democrat Party.”

It appears that Woods was referring to members of a Facebook group called, “Democrats for Senator Laura Woods,” who joined with Woods at a parade last month. “It was awesome to have you there,” Woods wrote on Facebook.

As I posted last week, none of the group’s members have been shown to actually live in Woods’ district and so they cannot vote for her, with one member registered to vote as far away as Boone, North Carolina.

Another group member, pictured on the site, was registered as a Republican, until asked about his voter registration last week, at which time he registered as a Democrat, saying it was a mistake.

Woods did not return a call seeking an explanation for removing the post.

In addition to possible concerns about the group’s members who can’t vote for her, Woods may worry that promoting Democrats on her Facebook page would turn away Trump supporters, whom she says are a key part of her path to victory in her district.

Woods, who’s long supported Trump and forgives him for his lewd comments, told a Denver radio station last week:

“I think if Donald Trump wins my district, I’m likely to,” Woods said on air. “And if Hillary Clinton wins my district, my opponent is likely to win.”

Colorado Republicans Can Start to Panic Now

votebuttonLongtime Colorado political journalist Ernest Luning has been keeping track of ballot return figures via his Twitter account. This is not good for Republicans:

The last time that Democrats were this far ahead of Republicans in Colorado in early voting returns was…well, maybe never.

The biggest fear for the GOP in 2016 has always been that a terrible top of the ticket — headlined by Donald Trump and Darryl Glenn — would be so disinteresting/disgusting that otherwise reliable Republican voters just wouldn’t bother to vote at all. Right-leaning political pundits have been saying for months that Republican voters could save down-ballot candidates by splitting their ticket at the polls, but that was assuming Republican voters would actually, you know, fill in the bubbles on their ballot.

If this trend continues in Colorado through Election Day, Republican candidates are going to be wiped out across the board. Perhaps the Trump campaign would have been better off staffing their field offices with people who are old enough to drive a car. 

At Least You Didn’t Lose Your Constitution



In another edition of our regular feature, “At Least They’re Not Your Legislators,” we take you to Kyrzakhistan Kryzgystuhn Kyrgyzstan, where they seem to have misplaced their constitution. From The Independent (the international one):

Politicians in Kyrgyzstan have lost the country’s constitution.

It emerged during a debate over planned changes to the law that nobody in the central Asian country knew where the original document was.

The most recent version of the constitution was approved by referendum in June 2010, when changes were made to give more authority to parliament and diminish the power of the president.

On 19 October members of the Kyrgyz parliament queried the exact location of the original copy of the document during a debate on whether to allow another referendum to take place in December, which could result in the consistution being amended again.

For anyone here in Colorado unhappy with the “Raise the Bar” ballot measure (also known as Amendment 71), things could be a lot worse.

Mike Coffman STILL Can’t Call Trump What He Is

UPDATE: Coffman’s hometown Aurora Sentinel is as flabbergasted by these remarks as everyone else:

Congressman Mike Coffman may not know that what Donald Trump has done to women constitutes sexual assault, but we do. Women across Aurora and Colorado do. District attorneys across the country do.

During a televised debate Thursday night on 9News TV, Coffman and his Democratic challenger state Sen. Morgan Carroll were asked whether Trump’s notorious taped comments about doing what he wants to women — and the subsequent flood of women saying he grabbed them, groped them and forced unwanted kisses upon them — constituted sexual assault.

“Well, I don’t know,” Coffman said. He followed the jaw-dropping comment with a political tap dance…

…He can’t have it both ways on this issue. Trump’s blatant misogyny and admitted sexual assaults are not debatable political philosophies, no matter how loudly Trump and his supporters say they are.


We’ll have plenty more to say about last night’s debate on 9NEWS between incumbent GOP Rep. Mike Coffman and Democratic challenger Sen. Morgan Carroll later today (watch this space), but this morning most of the conversation is focused on a very short exchange over Donald Trump’s now-infamous bragging about forcibly groping, kissing, and doing even worse to women he fancies:


CLARK: …Coffman, a question first for you here. Uh, based on the claims that he’s made do you believe that Donald Trump is a sexual predator?

COFFMAN: Oh, I don’t know. [Pols emphasis] But I do know this, that, that I’ve worked, uh, very hard as a member of the Armed Services Committee on a bipartisan basis to work on, uh, preventing sexual assaults and I…

CLARK: Alright, it’s a short answer but thank you. Senator Carroll, do you believe that Donald Trump, based on his own remarks, is a sexual predator?

CARROLL: Yes. The definition of grabbing people without their consent is the definition of sexual assault and sexual harassment. It’s his words, not mine.

CLARK: Thank you.

The uproar over Donald Trump’s multitude of recorded boasts about touching and ogling women under his financial control without their consent, including but not limited to a 2005 recording in which Trump bragged about his star-powered ability to “grab them by the p—y,” is such that Coffman really needed to have a better answer for this question than “I don’t know.” An overwhelming majority of women in Coffman’s district most certainly do know, and their judgment is that Trump’s own words flag him as “the definition” of a sexual predator.

For a man whose political survival depends on putting daylight between himself and Trump at every opportunity–but not too much, lest he offend his Republican base so much that they won’t support him–this is yet another unforced error Mike Coffman can’t afford. Coffman’s answer satisfies no one, and shows again how boxed in he is between his self-destructing party and an electorate that has had enough of Donald Trump.

And this time, it happened when the voters of CD-6 have their ballots in their hands.