Cary Kennedy’s Got Lots of Friends, Too

Cary Kennedy.

We took note in early September of the healthy list of endorsements for Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jared Polis, reflecting his many years of supporting fellow Democrats and helping build the progressive infrastructure that gets a lot of the credit for turning Colorado from red to blue in the past decade.

We’d be remiss if we didn’t take similar note of the very long list of updated endorsements another contending Democratic candidate in the gubernatorial race, Cary Kennedy, is circulating along with her latest fundraising numbers–an adequate if not exactly stunning total of about $233,000 for Q3, which is enough to keep her viable. Kennedy’s support from current and former state lawmakers is particularly strong from this list, as well as luminaries in local Democratic politics like former Lt. Gov. Gail Schoettler.

Kennedy’s endorsements follow after the jump. With everything weighed in the balance today, we would argue that most likely scenario in the Democratic gubernatorial primary by next spring is a Kennedy vs. Polis horse race with the other candidates acting as spoilers. That’s not the only way the race could play out, but that would accurately reflect the state of the race as of now. Between Polis’ name ID and wealth and Kennedy’s hard work cultivating support, there may just not be a lot of oxygen left for other candidates with little to differentiate themselves.


Gardner on Bannon Insurgency: This is Fine!

Bloomberg News tracks the growing Republican unease over Steve Bannon, the former White House chief strategist now masterminding what appears to be a nationwide insurgency against the “establishment” GOP–after toppling appointed GOP incumbent Sen. Luther Strange of Alabama in favor of freak-right icon Roy Moore, and at least some manner of contact with prospective Colorado GOP gubernatorial contender Tom Tancredo:

Steve Bannon won’t abandon his war against congressional Republican incumbents, not even after President Donald Trump publicly pleaded for a truce that could salvage the tax overhaul at the heart of his legislative agenda.

Trump’s ousted chief strategist will continue to back insurgent candidates who pledge to usurp Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a person familiar with Bannon’s plans said. His message was made plain on Monday on the Breitbart News website he once again runs: “Bitter Mitch! Triggered by Bannon,” one headline crowed…

Trump is “frustrated” with Senate Republicans over the health-care failure and the challenges that have surfaced in the process of overhauling the tax code, White House budget director Mick Mulvaney said Tuesday.

“Republicans need to start figuring out a way to pass stuff, and not look for reasons not to pass stuff,” Mulvaney said on Fox News. “They ran promising tax reform, and we’re sort of hitting a hurdle on that.”

The Trump administration’s tacit support for Bannon’s threats to primary backsliding incumbents and fielding of hard-right pro-Trump candidates for open seats, an acknowledged fact whatever the administration may say publicly on any given day, is primarily a blow against Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. McConnell’s support for Luther Strange in Alabama, which the Trump administration keyed off of, marked a breaking pint for loss-averse Trump personally. Trump is keenly aware of the discontent among the conservative rank-and-file with the establishment GOP, having ridden it to power, and wants to ensure he remains on the side of right-wing establishment discontent instead of becoming another target.

Where does all of this leave Sen. Cory Gardner, the chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) who reports directly to McConnell–and pivoted seamlessly from opposing Roy Moore in Alabama to backing him after he won the primary?

Some Republicans on Capitol Hill downplayed Bannon’s threat.

Senator Cory Gardner of Colorado, the chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, said Bannon is helping the party in some instances, backing candidates for Democrat-held or open seats who have a good chance of prevailing in their general elections in states like West Virginia and Tennessee.

The fact is, Gardner is in an impossible situation. As everyone who has followed Republican politics in Colorado knows, the NRSC is deeply involved in the GOP primary process in any strategically valuable Senate race. Examples abound: Scott McInnis being forced out of the 2008 U.S. Senate race in favor of Bob Schaffer. Jane Norton openly favored by the NRSC in the 2010 primary. And of course, Gardner himself cleared the field in 2014 with the full support of the organization he now chairs.

But that’s not the dynamic anymore. The NRSC isn’t in charge anymore, and the Alabama Senate primary proved it. That’s why the NRSC’s fundraising is drying up, and Trump is looking outside the party’s power structure for candidates who will carry out his agenda. This is a huge threat to Gardner’s own political power, which is tied to McConnell’s and that of the pre-Trump GOP establishment. As the (nominal) chief political strategist for Senate Republicans, Gardner has to make the best of whatever Bannon gives him to run with in 2018. And he can’t do anything publicly to complain.

For if it prosper, none dare call it an insurgency.

George Brauchler Falls Off a Cliff

UPDATE: Via reporter Ernest Luning, attempts to shine this turd did not go well:

While Brauchler’s campaign manager Ryan Lynch boasted in a tweet early Monday about the 18th Judicial District attorney winning the quarter with a $98,846 haul, the tweet disappeared later in the morning after Michael Fortney, Stapleton’s campaign manager, asked in a tweet why Lynch was “trying to spin” the modest haul. After spending $68,842 during the quarter, Brauchler had $173,970 in the bank. (Lynch told Colorado Politics he deleted the tweet because it was meant as a preliminary message in advance of the campaign’s statement.)


UPDATE: Brauchler supporters are a tad, um, delusional…

“This is what momentum looks like.”

George Brauchler Q3-2017 Fundraising Report


It is difficult to come up with a more appropriate reaction to the Q3 fundraising numbers posted by Republican gubernatorial candidate George Brauchler late Monday night. Brauchler’s campaign reported a stunningly-awful $98,846 in contributions for the fundraising period between July-Septembe.

If you were sketching out a worst-case scenario for Brauchler’s Q3 fundraising report, failing to reach $100,000 in contributions would have most certainly been at the top of that list. Getting hit by a bus would be about the only thing that might have qualified as worse than raising just $98,846. Brauchler’s paltry Q2 fundraising haul of $190,696 looks positively gargantuan in comparison.

Brauchler now has $173,970 in the bank, which is absolutely awful for a candidate who was supposed to be one of the top Republican candidates of 2018. By comparison, Democratic Lieutenant Governor Donna Lynne raised $384,335 in only two months, and she doesn’t have anywhere near the name ID of the Arapahoe County Attorney General. Brauchler’s candidacy already had plenty of problems, but this disastrous fundraising performance may well mark the beginning of the end for his gubernatorial hopes. There is no spin required here; failing to hit triple digits is preposterously terrible.

Brauchler supporters may try to say that it is still early in the race, but that’s not reality for a candidate whose only path to the June Primary ballot lies in making it through the caucus/assembly process. This isn’t about whether or not Brauchler will have enough money to pay for an effective advertising campaign — at this rate, Brauchler is barely going to have enough money to run a functional campaign at all. Brauchler’s campaign needs to be staffing up by the end of this quarter and opening offices around the state if he is going to have the organization to succeed at the GOP state convention, and it’s difficult to see from here how he might be able to pull that together.

These Q3 fundraising numbers will also go a long way toward convincing Tom Tancredo to jump in the race for Governor, which would be particularly awful for Brauchler. Any concerns Tancredo might have had about harming the chances of a Republican like Brauchler are largely irrelevant now that Brauchler has proven to be so inept as a statewide candidate.

We’ll have much more commentary on the Q3 fundraising numbers later today, but it’s safe to say that no other report will reverberate quite as much this turd from Brauchler.

Just How Safe Is Colorado’s Most Worthless Congressman?

Rep. Doug Lamborn (R).

As the Denver Post’s John Frank reports–Rep. Doug Lamborn of Colorado Springs, who has weathered numerous primary challenges ever since winning his own cut-throat Republican contest to succeed now-long retired (and fondly remembered) Rep. Joel Hefley, has stepped into scandal just as he prepares to face a whole pack of fresh Republican faces in 2018:

U.S. Rep. Doug Lamborn of Colorado Springs bought shares of stock in a company at the center of a recent congressional ethics investigation into possible insider trading involving one of his House colleagues…

Lamborn and his wife bought stock in the company in 2016 and again in 2017. Financial disclosures show the couple currently owns between $30,000 and $102,000 of Innate stock.

But the six-term congressman is refusing to answer questions from The Denver Post about his stock purchases, declining multiple interview requests through a spokesman.

An inauspicious development for sure, as Frank points out the trouble:

The ethics investigation comes at a precipitous time for Lamborn. Four fellow Republicans are now challenging him in the party’s 2018 primary, including state Sen. Owen Hill and El Paso County Commissioner and unsuccessful U.S. Senate candidate Darryl Glenn.

For readers who haven’t followed the primary machinations in what is traditionally considered Colorado’s safest Republican congressional district, Lamborn won his congressional seat in 2006 in that year’s GOP primary. Two years later, Lamborn survived a narrow and contentious victory over activist Jeff Crank that was largely the result of opposition to Lamborn being split between Crank and a third candidate, former Gen. Bentley Rayburn. Since that time Lamborn has used the power of incumbency and rubber-stamp support for anything the military-industrial backbone of his district’s economy wants to ward off primary challengers. And naturally, whatever Focus on the Family wants too.

The problem for Lamborn is that he has failed to distinguish himself in any meaningful way after over a decade in Congress–much like his service in the Colorado legislature, where he was best known for his campaign to swap the names of Mount Democrat and Republican Mountain so the latter would be taller. He has not significantly advanced in House leadership, and has essentially no legislative accomplishments to point to. With an ideologically strident electorate in El Paso County, this is a seat that could support a far more vocal and agenda-driven conservative leader.

Instead, they’ve had the opposite. And the big pack of comparatively big names coming after Lamborn in 2018 is strong evidence of dissatisfaction. Lamborn’s insipid and uninspiring brand of leadership is just not what today’s energized conservative base wants and everybody knows it–including Lamborn’s own handlers.

Add in a little scandal, and Lamborn could easily be shown the door.

The biggest obstacle for CD-5 conservatives looking to rid themselves of their milquetoast congressman, just as in 2006, is that Lamborn’s opposition is splitting behind too many (meaning more than one) qualified opponents. As of now, the most likely outcome of the battle for second place emerging between Sen. Owen Hill and 2016 U.S. Senate candidate Darryl Glenn is another term for Doug Lamborn. It’s not like anybody can dictate to these ambitious politicians what’s best for the district, but if they could flip a coin or something and the winner gets to go head-to-head against Lamborn they’d be doing their overall cause a favor.

We would suggest arm-wrestling, but Hill is going to lose.

Trump: Such a Damn Hypocrite It’s Just Frigging Ridiculous

President Donald Trump.

CNN reports, it’s just insane:

Breaking his public silence about four American soldiers killed during an ambush in Niger, President Donald Trump said Monday he’d penned personal letters to their families and planned to phone them later this week.

He also claimed, without merit, that his predecessors hadn’t written or called the families of slain American troops during their tenures, though the tradition of presidents reaching out after US servicemen are killed in action is long-established.

Trump said he’d written the letters over the weekend, and suggested they’d be mailed early this week. He was speaking 12 days after the ambush — the deadliest combat incident since he took office.

Folks, can you imagine the outcry if President Barack Obama had waited 12 days to comment on four Americans who died at the U.S. consulate in Benghazi? This isn’t the first case of eye-popping hypocrisy from the Trump administration–the recently-disclosed use of a private email server by numerous White House staff after Trump blew his opponents’ private email server out of all earthly proportion.

But these are four dead Americans. And it took Donald Trump 12 days even to acknowledge they had died.

How can anyone excuse this?

Gardner Gets All Fire and Brimstone on Chuck Schumer

Sen. Cory Gardner (R).

As the Charleston Post and Courier reports, Colorado’s Sen. Cory Gardner got into televangelist character at a fundraising dinner for South Carolina Republicans, waxing bombastic in front of the friendly crowd:

Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner, the evening’s headliner, waxed poetic about his conversion to conservatism at a young age and railed against what he argued is increasing extremism from his Democratic colleagues.

“Our rights come from God, not from Chuck Schumer,” Gardner said, referring to the Senate minority leader from New York. [Pols emphasis]

It took us a minute to put this one together, since we’d say it’s pretty obvious that our rights as Americans do not descend to us from the current Minority Leader of the U.S. Senate. On the other hand, invoking the Almighty against some guy from New York City who…wait, that’s right, isn’t a Christian at allSurefire winner in the Palmetto State.

As it turns out, Cory Gardner can blow a dog whistle as well as anybody.

Q3 Fundraising Reports Available Today

Fundraising reports for the third quarter of 2017 are due to be filed today (both state and federal races). There are still a few candidates in big races, such as GOP gubernatorial hopeful Walker Stapleton, who won’t have much to report because they only recently became formal candidates, but otherwise Q3 numbers provide our best look thus far at how things are shaping up for 2018.

We’ll update this post regularly with reports from key races as they become available…


♦ Democrat Donna Lynne reports raising $384,335 in Q3, despite waiting until Aug. 1 to formally begin fundraising for her campaign. Lynne’s campaign has $321,558 cash-on-hand.

♦ Republican Victor Mitchell raised $9,388 in Q3 and now has $2,318,630 cash-on-hand. Mitchell wrote his campaign a $3 million personal check and has publicly stated that he is not actively raising money at this point in the race.



♦ Incumbent Republican Cynthia Coffman reports $10,600 in contributions for a COH amount of $42,070. Coffman is still considered a potential candidate for Governor in 2018.



CD-2 (Boulder-ish)
Democrat Joe Neguse reports raising $165,437 in Q3, with $174,086 cash-on-hand. Neguse has raised $243,032 since announcing his candidacy in mid-June.


CD-6 (Aurora)
Democrat Jason Crow reports raising $220,556 in Q3, with $393,332 cash-on-hand. Crow has raised a total of $521,037 for his 2018 campaign.

Moving Colorado Laterally

Noel Ginsburg is a Democratic candidate for Governor in 2018. On Sunday, Ginsburg held a “rally” at the State Capitol to decry what he calls “false” promises from his fellow Democratic opponents seeking the top job in the state:

On some level we can understand what Ginsburg is getting at here. Politicians of all stripes do make lofty promises on a variety of issues, and sometimes these promises are practically unworkable [cough, repealing Obamacare, cough].

However…running for office (successfully, anyway) is about inspiring people to think of an idealized version of their world. Leaders are supposed to, well, to lead.

Creating a better future is a premise that works on all levels of politics; it’s the same reason why kids who run for student council promise to fill the drinking fountains with Hawaiian Punch. Leaders should have lofty ambitions. Otherwise, why follow?

But if Noel Ginsburg is intent on driving toward modest standards, we thought we should help him out. Pick your favorite slogan from the list below, or offer one of your own in the comments section.

Which slogan should Democrat Noel Ginsburg adopt for his gubernatorial campaign?
Moving Colorado Laterally
Noel for Governor: Let\'s Not Get Too Excited
Ginsburg for Colorado...Or, Whatever
Incrementalism You Can Believe In!
Ginsburg for Colorado, Please
Not Much Change for You to Believe In
Keeping the Bar About Where it is Already
Frontier Fairness
Noel: Because Somebody Has to be Governor
View Result

At Least She’s Not Your Alien-Abducted House Candidate

Out-of-state special interests.

McClatchy DC reports on a Republican congressional candidate in Florida who’s been there, done that:

Florida has a U.S. senator who once flew aboard the Space Shuttle.

A congressional candidate from Miami can go one better: Bettina Rodriguez Aguilera says she’s been aboard a spaceship too. But this one was crewed by aliens. As in extraterrestrials.

Three blond, big-bodied beings — two females, one male — visited her when she was 7 years old and have communicated telepathically with her several times in her life, she says…

The Miami Herald asked Rodriguez Aguilera about her experiences Friday. She responded with a statement that waxed astronomical, but sadly failed to mention close encounters of any kind.

“For years people, including Presidents like Ronald Reagan and Jimmy Carter and astronauts have publicly claimed to have seen unidentified flying objects and scientists like Stephen Hawking and institutions like the Vatican have stated that there are billions of galaxies in the universe and we are probably not alone,” she said. “I personally am a Christian and have a strong belief in God, I join the majority of Americans who believe that there must be intelligent life in the billions of planets and galaxies in the universe.”

Yes, there is a large percentage of Americans, even a majority, who believes in the scientific possibility of extraterrestrial life. That includes many of the world’s foremost scientists, and has only increased in recent years with the discovery of thousands of extrasolar planets orbiting distant stars. So there’s that.

But if you have personal experience with traveling to the mother ship, it’s more than “belief” for you! Even if it might complicate your run for Congress, you’re kind of obliged to lead with this in your bio. Because once the press finds out you’ve been to the mother ship, what the hell else would they want to talk to you about? It’s a bit, well, distracting.

Just watch. Now that we’ve made fun of her, the aliens will actually show up.

No really, that would teach us a lesson.

Weekend Open Thread

“Sometimes when you stand face to face with someone, you cannot see his face.”

–Mikhail Gorbachev

Colorado Christian U To GOP: Hands Off Weed Money!

Weed biz.

Ernest Luning of the Colorado Springs Gazette follows up on one of the week’s more curious local political stories, a fundraiser for the GOP’s Senate Majority Fund 527 attended by members of the budding (pun) marijuana industry–an interesting change-up for a party that includes Attorney General Jeff Sessions, far and away the biggest threat to legalized marijuana in its short history.

As as suspected in our previous mention of this, Colorado Christian University, which fancies itself as the leading moral arbiter of the Christian conservative ecosphere in our state, is not happy with Republicans consorting with reefers! Though they claim the Senate GOP’s fundraiser is not the reason they’re sounding off:

In a stern letter to state lawmakers, the president of Colorado Christian University and the director of the school’s conservative think tank on Thursday called on legislators to refuse campaign donations from the marijuana industry, saying the legalized drug “has devastated Colorado by nearly every metric.”

“It has come to our attention that state legislators are accepting campaign donations from the marijuana industry. As educators and researchers, we hope this is not the case. Marijuana has devastated Colorado by nearly every metric and we are particularly concerned about marijuana’s health impact on youth,” CCU President Dr. Donald Sweeting and Centennial Institute director Jeff Hunt wrote.

“Colorado Christian University asks that you audit your donations for any money given by the marijuana industry and donate those funds to marijuana youth prevention and recovery organizations. We are happy to meet with you to discuss marijuana’s devastating impacts on Colorado. We look forward to your leadership on this issue and your work to make Colorado a better state for its citizens and especially its young people,” they concluded.

GOP Senate President Kevin Grantham’s sock-in-mouth response:

“More power to them,” Grantham said. “I think they will continue to be a good friend to us while continuing to lead that charge against some of the more destructive qualities of marijuana in Colorado. But as far as the other aspects of this, the donations, etc., that will be up to individual members what they want to do.”

As you can see, the question is not morally ambiguous to Jeff Hunt of CCU’s Centennial Institute like it appears to be with Senate President Grantham. For Hunt, taking money from the marijuana industry is little different from taking money from an organized crime cartel. But could you imagine Grantham saying it’s “up to individual members” whether they want to take money from Al Capone?

And before you flame us, yes, we know the legal marijuana industry has nothing whatsoever in common with organized crime. That’s the point of legalization. We’re just trying to illustrate how passionate the opponents of marijuana legalization are, viewing it as an historic and devastating rollback of almost a century of illegal drug prohibition in this country. Marijuana industry cash is much more of a political problem for Republicans than Democrats–for whom legal marijuana carries little to no moral stigma among their base. Legality of marijuana under state but not federal law supplies all the pretext necessary for opponents to rage against marijuana with the same zeal they had before it was legalized. Legal in Colorado or not, it’s still “a sin.”

With all of this in mind, might the Senate Majority Fund think twice about spending that freshly-raised marijuana cabbage? And if they don’t…will they answer to a higher authority?

Get More Smarter on Friday (October 13)

Today is the second, and final, Friday the 13th of 2017. It’s time to Get More Smarter. 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.



President Trump is destroying healthcare in America. Trump signed an Executive Order on Thursday that encourages the creation of cheap and largely worthless health insurance plans for healthier Americans — the result of which will likely drive up costs significantly for everyone else.

As the Denver Post reports, Colorado’s top insurance regulator is concerned about what comes next:

Colorado’s top insurance regulator responded on Thursday to President Donald Trump’s health care executive order with concern, saying the policies endorsed could lead to flimsier coverage in the state and much higher costs for the sick.

“The limited benefits, the focus on the healthy at the expense of those with pre-existing conditions, and lack of regulatory oversight will cause problems for the health insurance market as a whole,” said Marguerite Salazar, the state’s insurance commissioner…

…In her statement, Salazar said expanding the use of these plans — and loosening the requirements around them — could pull healthy people into skimpier plans, while heaping unbearable costs on the sick.

“Premiums may end up being lower for people buying these plans, but for many, paying for services not covered by the plans will be much more costly in the long run,” she said.


► Thursday’s Executive Order was just the first blow in a one-two combination thrown by Trump to bury the Affordable Care Act. As Politico reports:

President Donald Trump plans to cut off subsidy payments to insurers selling Obamacare coverage in his most aggressive move yet to undermine his predecessor’s health care law.

The subsidies, which are worth an estimated $7 billion this year and are paid out in monthly installments, may stop almost immediately since Congress hasn’t appropriated funding for the program.

The decision — which leaked out only hours after Trump signed an executive order calling for new regulations to encourage cheap, loosely regulated health plans — delivered a double whammy to Obamacare after months of failed GOP efforts to repeal the law. With open enrollment for the 2018 plan year set to launch in two weeks, the moves seem aimed at dismantling the law through executive actions.

Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders confirmed the decision in a statement emailed to reporters Thursday night.

How is Trump able to just cancel these subsidies? You can draw a straight line between this pending E.O. and legislation passed by Congress in 2014 with the support of Republicans Cory Gardner, Mike Coffman, Scott Tipton, and Doug Lamborn. has more on how and why Trump’s actions on Obamacare create a lose-lose situation for Americans.


► President Trump’s decision to use Executive Orders to cripple the Affordable Care Act puts the results — which aren’t likely to be good — squarely on his shoulders. As the Washington Post explains:

This is not “letting” Obamacare fail. Many nonpartisan experts believe that these active measures are likely to undermine the pillars of the 2010 law and hasten the collapse of the marketplaces.

The Pottery Barn rule comes to mind: You break it, you own it. Yes, the plate you just shattered had some cracks in it. But if you dropped it on the ground, the store is going to blame you.

As Barack Obama learned after the Great Recession, with heavy Democratic losses in the 2010 midterms, it’s hard to blame your predecessor for problems two years after you take office. Especially when your party has unified control of the federal government. No matter how much it might be the previous guy’s fault, many voters won’t buy it. People have very short attention spans.

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper calls Trump’s healthcare decisions “cruel and irresponsible.” The editorial board at the New York Times calls on Congress to prevent Trump from destroying the healthcare marketplace.


► In non-healthcare news, President Trump has apparently made a decision on how to proceed with the Iran nuclear deal: He’s going to punt. Instead of scuttling the deal altogether, Trump is asking Congress to fix “flaws” in the agreement that was sealed by the Obama administration. Why Trump thinks Congress can fix anything is another question altogether.


Get even more smarter after the jump…