Left and right agree: vote NO on Amendment 71

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Meet one of Colorado’s most conservative Republicans, Rep. Justin Everett.

And one of his most liberal colleagues in the Colorado legislature, Rep. Joseph Salazar.

Everett and Salazar don’t agree on much. But one thing they do agree on: vote NO on Amendment 71.

The Get More Smarter Show: October 26, 2016

Today on the Get More Smarter Show: Jason Bane talks elections with Sen. Andy Kerr, a Lakewood Democrat who’s lucky enough to not be up for election this year! Join us as Sen. Kerr talks about his election experiences, politics in bellwether Jefferson County, and a look ahead at 2018.

If you’ve missed an episode of the Get More Smarter Show, click here to catch up! And thanks as always for watching.

Where’s Sen. Cory Gardner? Nowhere Near Darryl Glenn!

WEDNESDAY UPDATE: As the Denver Post’s John Frank reports:

Gardner campaigned in recent weeks for Roy Blunt in Missouri, Ron Johnson in Wisconsin, Marco Rubio in Florida and Pat Toomey in Pennsylvania. But his absence from the Colorado campaign trail is drawing notice — notably in the U.S. Senate race, where Republican Darryl Glenn is being overpowered by Democratic incumbent Michael Bennet.

“Cory Gardner’s absence in Colorado, while he travels the country helping embattled incumbents, shows that GOP leadership in Colorado has abandoned Darryl Glenn and given up on the idea of a victory on November 8,” said Chris Meagher, a Democratic Party spokesman.

The liberal blog Colorado Pols added to the bonfire: “There’s no question that Gardner (stumping) for Glenn would help a candidate who needs all the help he can get.”


Today with only two weeks remaining in the 2016 general election season, Colorado’s top-ranking Republican lawmaker Sen. Cory Gardner is hard on the campaign trail…in Pennsylvania:


That’s Senator Gardner, campaigning today on behalf of Pennsylvania GOP Sen. Pat Toomey in Blair County, Pennsylvania. Last week, Gardner was in Missouri with Sen. Tom Cotton to boost the embattled campaign of Sen. Roy Blunt:


After swinging through Missouri, Gardner traveled to Florida to boost his friend Sen. “Marcomentum” Rubio:


With Sen. Gardner winging his way around the nation to help out the campaigns of threatened Republican incumbents, the obvious question presents itself: why isn’t Gardner campaigning on behalf of Colorado’s U.S. Senate nominee, Darryl Glenn? There’s no question that Gardner stumping for Glenn would help a candidate who needs all the help he can get.

Now, this is not to say that Glenn is getting zero support in his race. Sen. Ted Cruz is traveling to Colorado tomorrow to stump for Glenn, and given Cruz’s dominance of the presidential caucus process in this state that is not insubstantial support–at least for a candidate still struggling to win over his own Republican base as Glenn is. But the overall absence of Gardner from Glenn’s campaign says much more about the realistic assessment of Republican leadership about Glenn prospects than anything else we’ve seen.

That and the poll numbers, of course! Perhaps this is all that’s left for the GOP in 2016: opportunists salvaging what they can, and unqualified eccentrics going down with the ship? By 2020, though, some conservatives in Colorado might recall bitterly that Gardner kept Glenn at arm’s length in 2016 when Glenn needed him most.

Woods Likes Facebook Post Accusing Obama of Treason

woods-likes-comment-accusing-obama-of-treasonState Sen. Laura Woods (R-Arvada) has apparently liked a Facebook post accusing President Obama of treason.

In a Facebook discussion Oct. 23, Woods liked this comment, which was provided by a source:

“I’ll tell you what is dangerous. Having a lying, treasonous President! Obama illegally takes millions of US taxpayer dollars, ‘launder’ them into Swiss francs, and ships them to Iran…. That in turn gives that money to ISIS to kill Americans. That used to be called TREASON!”

Woods, who does not return my calls to discuss posts like this, makes no secret of her ultra-conservative beliefs, leading The Denver Post to label her as “one of the most conservative lawmakers in the chamber.”

She’s stood by her conservative positions, despite having to defend her record in one of Colorado’s most competitive state senate districts, where she faces Democrat Rachel Zenzinger.

But aligning herself with those who accuse Obama of treason? A reporter who has access to Woods should find out what’s up. It brings up basic questions about her judgment that should be answered before Colorado’s most important state senate race is decided.

Get More Smarter on Wednesday (October 26)

Get More Smarter Halloween 1Google is using search engine data to track the most popular Halloween costumes in 2016; there are no politically-themed costumes at the top of the list, unless you count “Clown” at number 9. 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.


► If you haven’t received a mail ballot yet, then something is probably wrong; go to JustVoteColorado.org to start investigating the problem. 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.


Democrats continue their unprecedented run in early voting in Colorado. As longtime Colorado political reporter Ernest Luning explains:

► Election Day is just 13 days away, and Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump appears to be shifting gears already. From Eli Stokols at Politico:

Donald Trump has less than two weeks left in his presidential campaign, but his closing argument sounds as much about his business interests as his electoral ones.

As Hillary Clinton and her surrogates fan out across the battleground states, Trump’s schedule has found plenty of room for self-promotion that seems aimed well past Nov. 8, including two stops in two days promoting his hotels and the soft launch of what many see as the prototype for a post-campaign Trump TV.

On Monday, Trump’s campaign launched a nightly Facebook live news program — on the heels of a report that his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, had spoken with a top industry dealmaker about setting up a Trump network.

On Tuesday, Trump summoned the press corps to one of his Florida properties and lavished praise on it. “One of the great places on earth,” he crowed.

On Wednesday, he returns — for the fourth time this presidential cycle — to his new Washington, D.C., hotel for what his campaign has billed as a “ribbon-cutting” to celebrate its grand opening.

It would seem that Trump himself is losing interest in the idea that the election is “rigged” against him; he’s just ready for it to be over now.

Trump’s Vice Presidential choice, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, must not have gotten the memo quite yet. Pence is in Colorado Springs (again) today to pretend to be excited about a foregone conclusion.


► Democrats continue to pick up momentum in Colorado’s most-watched Congressional races. In CD-6, Morgan Carroll announced some impressive fundraising numbers for the first two weeks of October as she seeks to unseat Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Aurora). Meanwhile in CD-3, Rep. Scott Tipton (R-Cortez) may not be able to hold off the rising campaign of Democrat Gail Schwartz, who picked up another big endorsement today.


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

Carroll Campaign Surging in Final Weeks

State Sen. Morgan Carroll

State Sen. Morgan Carroll

As the Denver Post reports today, Democrat Morgan Carroll is not lacking in momentum in the final weeks of the 2016 election:

In less than three weeks, Democrat Morgan Carroll has raised nearly $424,000 for her race against Republican Mike Coffman — a major October windfall that ups the ante in one of Colorado’s most expensive races.

Coffman, the incumbent in Colorado’s 6th Congressional District, has not released the amount of campaign cash he’s collected in the pre-election period that ran from Oct. 1 to Oct. 19. But the $423,600 that Carroll said she raised is much more than what Coffman or Democrat Andrew Romanoff netted two years ago in the homestretch of their 2014 fight for the seat, one of the nation’s most expensive that year. [Pols emphasis]

In fact, Carroll’s two-week haul is more than double what Coffman raised in the same period in 2014, when his campaign reported $185,095 in donations during a similar time frame. Lest you might be tempted to write this off as a late infusion of cash from a major donor or two, a press release from the Carroll campaign has some incredible numbers to consider:

The nearly $424k came from a mind-boggling 33,956 individual donors – with an average donation of $11.54.

Look, we’re long past the point where the outcome of this race will be decided by fundraising, but if you’re tracking momentum, there’s no question that Carroll has the upper hand with less than two weeks until Election Day.

Wednesday Open Thread

“Dictatorship naturally arises out of democracy, and the most aggravated form of tyranny and slavery out of the most extreme liberty.”


Ballot Returns in Colorado Continue to Favor Democrats

Colorado Statesman reporter Ernest Luning has been diligently tracking ballot returns since ballots were first mailed last Monday. Today, Luning provides some important historical context:

(BTW: If you’re interested in regular updates on this topic, we’d suggest you follow Luning on Twitter: @eluning)

We’ve been marveling at the rate of ballot returns for Democrats since numbers first started to emerge last week, and now even Republican strategists are getting nervous. From Jon Murray of the Denver Post:

Right-leaning political consulting/polling firm Magellan Strategies has been poring over ballot returns today, and they don’t have good news for Republicans:

As of this morning, the total number of ballots returned is 287,854, an increase of 128,959 from yesterday morning’s tally. The increase in ballots returned among Democrat voters since yesterday morning was 55,476, bringing their current total to 118,444. The Republican ballot return total increased by 39,779, bringing their total to 94,734. If you do the math, the Democrat advantage over Republicans in ballots returned is now 23,710, nearly triple since yesterdays lead.

Based on our 10 years of experience tracking early and absentee voting in Colorado, it’s very clear that a Democrat wave election is in the making. Although there is still a lot of time before Election Day, Colorado Democrats have never had an early voting lead this large with two weeks to go. [Pols emphasis] In the 2008 election two weeks prior to Election Day, Democrats held an early turnout lead of 2,987 votes. (184,386 Democrats had voted / 181,399 Republicans had voted). In the 2012 election with two weeks to go, Republicans held a lead of 11,798 votes. (72,585 Democrats had voted / 84, 383 Republicans had voted.)

We’ve been saying for awhile in this space that we can’t recall another time when Democrats were continually outpacing Republicans in early voting. There’s not really much of a question that Colorado Republicans, by and large, do not appear to be enthusiastic about casting ballots this year; the key question at this point is just how bad turnout might get in the next 14 days.

Singleton Rips Donald Trump

On KNUS over the weekend, former Denver Post owner Dean Singleton called Donald Trump “an intellectual nutcase” and a “demagogue,” who “never had a chance to win.”

“The problem for the country is, [Trump] is going to take the Senate with him…” said Singleton, who nevertheless stated on air he’s voting for his friend Democratic U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet. “The Republicans are going to lose the Senate, for certain.”

Singleton, who tends represent the views of the esablishment business community in Colorado, said, “I’m voting for Hillary Clinton, because she’s the only competent person running.”

Is CD-3 Now Colorado’s Race To Watch?

schwartzsignAs the Grand Junction Sentinel’s Charles Ashby reports, the “sleeper” race between incumbent GOP Rep. Scott Tipton and Democratic challenger Gail Schwartz of Aspen could be shaping up to be Election Day’s biggest surprise in Colorado:

While the incumbent in the race, U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton, R-Colo., has raised more money overall, his Democratic challenger, Gail Schwartz, has fast caught up.

In the past three months alone, Schwartz raised more than double what Tipton pulled in, $1.1 million compared to the congressman’s $520,000. [Pols emphasis]

During this campaign cycle, Tipton has pulled in about $1.5 million compared to Schwartz’s $1.3 million…

Yesterday, Ashby reported on an ad attacking Schwartz in the district that’s so false it could backfire:

The ad focuses on a bill approved during the 2011 legislative session that allowed certain inmates to earn good behavior time while being held in solitary confinement…

The rest of the Senate also voted for it, along with a large majority in the Colorado House, including numerous Republicans…such as former Sen. Steve King of Grand Junction, current Senate Majority Leader Mark Scheffel of Parker and current Senate President Bill Cadman of Colorado Springs.

Oops! Those are some details that considerably reduce the sting of this ad.

Without public polling in this race, we’re forced to rely on anecdotal reports and rumors about unreleased numbers. In both cases what we hear is very good for Gail Schwartz–a general buzz that’s growing every day as Democrats continue to outperform Republicans across the state in ballot returns. With that said, there are still too many variables we just can’t quantify right now, including the full effect of Donald Trump on the Republican electorate in CD-3. In every material sense, the big money and power players in Colorado remain focused on the marquee CD-6 race between Mike Coffman and Morgan Carroll.

What we can say with confidence is that as Democratic hope grows at October’s end in this crazy election, so grow the aspirations for Gail Schwartz in CD-3. A race that was once a “reach goal” for Democrats in 2016 could be the cornerstone of a 5-2 Democratic majority for Colorado’s congressional delegation when the dust settles.

For Democrats allowing themselves to dream of a House majority, it’s as much as Colorado can do.

Denver Post likes Doug Lamborn again! But why?

(Go figure – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Rep. Doug Lamborn.

Rep. Doug Lamborn.

I haven’t seen U.S. Rep. Doug Lamborn behave any better over the past two years than he has previously, but he’s apparently impressed The Denver Post, which endorsed him yesterday, after eloquently calling for his ouster last time.

The Denver Post in 2014:

Under the headline, “Oust Lamborn, restore dignity to Colorado’s 5th CD,” The Post wrote:

Rep. Doug Lamborn last month demonstrated yet again why he should do Coloradans a favor and find another job…Lamborn was at an event in Colorado Springs recently when someone asked him about support for the military “despite the fact that there is no leadership from the Muslim Brotherhood in the White House.” At which point, Lamborn launched into an astonishing statement.

“You know what,” he said, “I can’t add anything to that, but … a lot of us are talking to the generals behind the scenes, saying, ‘Hey, if you disagree with the policy that the White House has given you, let’s have a resignation. Let’s have a public resignation, state your protest, and go out in a blaze of glory.’ ”

We don’t know what part of that response is more outrageous.

Is it the fact that Lamborn failed to rebuke — or distance himself — from someone who effectively called the president an agent of a foreign Islamist group? Rather than evince concern, Lamborn actually smiled and said, “I can’t add anything to that.” Or is the most distressing part his urging generals to politicize serious disagreements they might have with the president by taking them public in flamboyant resignations?

The Denver Post this year:

Doug Lamborn, who has served the 5th CD in the greater Colorado Springs area since 2006, has been the kind of conservative representative befitting of the district, and voters there have rewarded him in primary challenges. While we like more independent-minded representatives, this is a Republican you can count on if what you want is a reliable GOP vote.

This year’s endorsement not only fails to explain why Lamorn redeemed himself, but it articulates why The Post doesn’t like him–as opposed to why it’s endorsing him. Oh well.

Key state senate race starting to get media attention but more is needed

With a few of our more bigger badder news outlets (CPR, Denver Post, Fox 31 Denver, and KMGH-TV Denver 7) finally getting around to covering Arvada’s state senate race, which is the most important contest this election, the simple point should be made: follow-up stories are needed.

The candidates, Republican Laura Woods and Democrat Rachel Zenzinger, aren’t being challenged sufficiently on their stances on the issues (See some of their positions, on abortion to guns, here) or on the politics of the race. Some outlets have returned to the races a few times in coverage, which is good, but more attention is required. Some of our state’s most prestigious news entities have essentially dropped the ball on the race.

I’m not saying Aurora’s congressional race, our ballot measures, or other races aren’t important too, but if political journalists want to help voters understand what’s at stake this election cycle, they should turn their attention repeatedly to Senate District 19—and, to a lesser extent, other key state senate races.

Here’s a video to emphasize the point.

Media Continues to Call Out “Knowingly False Attack Ads”

Denver7 political reporter Marshall Zelinger continues to look into patently false campaign ads.

Denver7 reporter Marshall Zelinger (Oct. 24, 2016)

You’ve seen plenty from us in this space about the so-called “China Girl” attack ads taking place in SD-19 (Arvada, Westminster), which we’ve called “The Most Knowingly False” advertisements in Colorado politics. On Monday, Marshall Zelinger of Denver7 reported on the latest iteration of these patently false claims — now including fortune cookies — which have long since crossed the line of negative advertising and have risen to the level of outright fiction.

In the past three months, Denver7 and its partner, PolitiFact, have rated two CCAG campaign mailers attacking Zenzinger “Pants On Fire,” the worst rating reserved for ridiculous statements. 

On Oct. 19, Zenzinger filed a complaint with the Jefferson County District Attorney’s Office accusing CCAG of repeatedly attacking her with the same false campaign mailer: She had voted to use taxpayer money to take a trip to China.

The fortune inside the cookie says, “Past actions are the best predictors of future behavior, so remember Zenzinger’s actions” and directs you to a website that does not reference the China claims.

The cookie also comes with a business card that reads: “Please enjoy this fortune cookie to commemorate Rachel Zenzinger’s vote for a taxpayer-funded trip to China while serving on the Arvada City Council.”

Zenzinger has never been to China and ultimately voted to not use taxpayer funds for a trip to China. [Pols emphasis]

If you haven’t been following this story about Republican attacks on Democrat Rachel Zenzinger, that last sentence above is the key here. Third-party groups like the GOP-aligned “Colorado Citizens for Accountable Government” believe that this narrative is the most effective line of attack they have against Zenzinger, and they may be correct; the problem, obviously, is that this isn’t even sorta true. Not only has Zenzinger never been to China, but she also was adamant on the city council that public funds would not be used on any sort of “sister cities” trips for public officials. Again, from Denver7:

The current mailer that the DA is reviewing cites a comment that Mayor Williams made to PolitiFact in July. “Did (Zenzinger) support a motion that would have funded through city funds the opportunity for her to go? Yes, she did,” the mayor said.

But the flier doesn’t mention that the mayor stressed that Zenzinger also made the subsequent successful motion “with the explicit direction that no city funds be used.” [Pols emphasis] The mailer also left out that the mayor said: “My negativity toward their ad is that it implies that she actually took that trip, and she didn’t.”

In reality, Zenzinger actually did the exact opposite of what these attack ads continue to claim. There is a law in Colorado that prohibits the dissemination of “knowingly false” information intended to sway voters in a particular campaign, but Zelinger quotes an election law attorney in his story who calls the statute “toothless.” In his television report, which led off the 6:00 pm news on Monday, Zelinger rightly asserts that most SD-19 voters won’t know about these falsehoods unless they are watching Denver7.

As Zelinger also notes in his story, “Colorado Citizens for Accountable Government” isn’t exactly standing proud behind their attacks:

On Monday, an official for Colorado Voters for Accountable Government told Denver7 the group’s lawyers advised them not to comment on the dispute because of the pending complaint with the district attorney

This is a big issue, and not just for the 2016 election cycle. It doesn’t take a whole lot of imagination to see where this goes from here; if these sort of attacks are allowed to go unpunished, the political mudslinging will soon reach an entirely different level of terrible. If you can claim that a politician took a taxpayer-funded trip to China that never happened, what’s to stop someone else from producing advertisements that another candidate is a serial rapist who has direct ties to ISIS?

If Jefferson County District Attorney Pete Weir doesn’t prosecute this “China Girl” case, then there’s no point in even having these laws on the books. This shouldn’t be happening in 2016. It definitely can’t be allowed to continue in 2018.

Oh Noes! Hick Helps His Own?!

We didn’t want the weeping and gnashing of teeth by Republicans watching the close fight for the Colorado Senate majority over a certain ad now airing in key locales around the state to get too far in the rear-view–as Denver7’s Marshall Zelinger reported over the weekend:

A new political ad paid for by a Washington, D.C.-based group shows Gov. John Hickenlooper telling viewers about four candidates he wants elected to the state Senate.

The governor touts Rachel Zenzinger, Daniel Kagan, Jenise May and Tom Sullivan for their respective Senate seats.

Republicans currently hold a one-seat advantage in the state Senate – 18-17. The races highlighted in the ad are likely to determine if Democrats regain control.

Here’s the ad, 100% positive featuring Gov. John Hickenlooper’s trademark folksy charm:

Republicans are said to be outraged, outraged mind you, that Hickenlooper is “cashing in” his aisle-crossing credentials by daring to openly support state senate candidates of his own party. Apparently, the fact that America Votes, a nationwide 501(c)(4) advocacy group with its own very busy and longstanding presence in Colorado, is paying for the ad adds an additional layer of George Soros watercooler discussion mystery.

Back in reality, this is a popular Democratic governor lending his considerable weight to retaking the Colorado Senate for his party, which over the last two years has become an embarrassing blockade against too many essential functions of government and necessary reforms to list here. The real reason Republicans are angry about this ad is it’s likely to have an effect in races they cannot afford to lose–perhaps directly playing a role in their party’s loss of their only remaining veto power in state government.

As for any Colorado Republican whining about so-called “dark money” in elections, well, that’s just silly.