Carroll Punches Trump/Coffman. Hard.

Rep. Mike Coffman (R), Sen. Morgan Carroll (D).

Rep. Mike Coffman (R), Sen. Morgan Carroll (D).

As the Aurora Sentinel reports today, Democratic congressional candidate Morgan Carroll is out with a new TV spot, a shot directly at one of GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump’s most controversial moments of verbal diarrhea–and by extension, whether incumbent GOP Rep. Mike Coffman likes it or not, her opponent:

The gloves have officially come off in the race for Colorado’s 6th Congressional District seat in Aurora, and GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump gets a hard left hook from state Sen. Morgan Carroll in a political TV ad being released today.

The one-two punch then aims for Carroll’s Republican incumbent opponent, Congressman Mike Coffman…

This round is over Trump’s infamous public slight to a disabled reporter. In the short TV ad, Carroll says her late father suffered from Parkinson’s Disease and that spurred her career in fighting for disabled workers.

The ad highlights a notorious clip of Trump imitating and mocking New York Times reporter Serge Kovaleski, who is disabled. Carroll’s campaign ad then shifts right to Coffman, who Carroll says tacitly approves of Trump’s antics because he hasn’t outright denounced his remarks and his candidacy.

As you can imagine, Team Coffman is outraged, outraged that Carroll isn’t buying Coffman’s Trump triangulation:

And the reason is simple, as we’ve discussed in this space countless times: Coffman’s “distance” from Trump is a contrivance.

[S]ince Coffman’s never said that he won’t vote for Trump, Democrats continue to taunt him on social media, and now with this ad. [Pols emphasis]

It goes both ways, however. Carroll has backed Hillary Clinton for president, something the Coffman campaign and Republicans tie to her with the same fervor.

“Donald Trump is running against the most corrupt candidate for president in modern political history,” Coffman told Aurora Sentinel reporter Rachel Sapin earlier this month in response to Trump meeting with Mexico President Enrique Peña Nieto, and then flying to Arizona. There he gave a speech essentially inciting his base in regards to building a wall between the United States and Mexico. “Richard Nixon has nothing on Hillary Clinton. But Trump’s obsession with a hard-edge immigration policy is like a slammed door in the face of millions of voters. His meeting with the President of Mexico was one step forward. His Arizona speech was three steps back.”

Carroll campaign officials say Coffman is being disingenuous about being critical of Trump, having previously backed similar positions on immigration and other issues.

There’s a reason why Coffman is attacking Donald Trump for the same hard-line stance on immigration that he himself campaigned on for years. It’s also the reason why Coffman can’t have a sustained debate on the issue. The reason is that Coffman has spent most of his time in Congress hopelessly at odds with the majority of his constituents, and he can’t defend his record beyond the most superficial questions.

At the same time, Coffman can’t make the only commitment that matters with the election fast approaching: a pledge to not vote for Donald Trump. To do so would alienate too many Republican voters Coffman needs to win re-election. That is all the opening Carroll needs to plausibly assert, as she does in this ad, that Coffman “won’t stand up to Trump.”

And seriously, Richard Nixon? That’s just a talk-radio crock.

There’s no question that, in light of how undeniably effective Team Coffman has been at arguing reporters into a subject change, Carroll needs to be much more aggressive on calling out Coffman’s long “Trumplike” record. For Democrats, this latest ad is a welcome sign she is moving in that direction–and there’s a lot more material where this came from.

Tuesday Open Thread

“Men who are unhappy, like men who sleep badly, are always proud of the fact.”

–Bertrand Russell

Oil Executive Favored as Trump’s Interior Secretary

Forrest Lucas

Forrest Lucas

As Politico reports, Donald Trump is likely to choose a well-known oil and gas executive as his Secretary of Petroleum Interior should he win the race for President:

Forrest Lucas, co-founder of oil products company Lucas Oil and an outspoken opponent of animal rights, is a leading contender for Interior secretary should Donald Trump win the White House, say two sources familiar with the campaign’s deliberations.

The Republican businessman, 74, is well known in Indiana, where in 2006 he won the naming rights to Lucas Oil Stadium, the home of the Indianapolis Colts football team, for a reported $121.5 million over 20 years. He and his wife have given $50,000 to Mike Pence’s gubernatorial campaigns, according to Indiana state records.

Lucas’ company, Lucas Oil, is a fast-growing manufacturer of automotive oils, lubricants and other additives used in everything from cars to heavy-duty trucks.

One person briefed by the Trump campaign said Lucas is a “front-runner” for the Interior secretary job. The person, who was granted anonymity to talk about private discussions, added that Trump wants a “more business-friendly and business experience-heavy cabinet.”


Glenn: “I Am The Human Equivalent Of A Unicorn”

Darryl Glenn.

Darryl Glenn.

This week’s quotable quote is in a weekend story from the Durango Herald’s Jonathan Romeo, writing about a Southwest Colorado visit by longshot Republican U.S. Senate candidate Darryl Glenn:

“That has been a theme,” Glenn said of his stops in Cortez, Durango and Salida, among others. “They expect their representation to come out more and talk to them. If you aren’t talking with people and understanding their concerns, you can’t do your job.”

Most polls show the current El Paso County Commissioner trails Bennet with less than 50 days until the election, but Glenn, now on his “third or fourth” visit to the Western Slope, said he’s gaining traction.

“We have a lot of support,” he said. “They appreciate the fact I’m willing to come out here and listen. Sometimes people outside of the Front Range feel like they’re being left out.”

Now the problem with this statement from Glenn, by his own account only on his “third or fourth” trip to the Western Slope, is that Sen. Michael Bennet is in no way a stranger to western Colorado or rural parts of the state in general. Bennet serves on the Senate Agriculture Committee, and has been heavily involved with such Western Slope issues as the battle over oil and gas drilling in the Thompson Divide. Googling Bennet’s name along with “Durango,” “Grand Junction,” or “Western Slope” will return ample proof.

But as we’ve foreshadowed, that’s not the punchline:

“I am the human equivalent of a unicorn,” he said. [Pols emphasis]

It’s been said (famously and recently) that Republicans are not very good at what they derisively call “identity politics”–that is politics that center on one’s race or other superficial identifier. But unless we’re missing something obvious with Glenn calling himself “the human equivalent of a unicorn,” we’re pretty sure he’s trading on the fact that he is a conservative black man running for office.

It’s either that, or Darryl Glenn has joined the Bronies.

Get More Smarter on Monday (September 19)

GetMoreSmarter-SnowToday is the sixth anniversary of September 19th, 2010. 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.


► Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump may be riding a small wave of momentum at the moment, but as Chris Cillizza explains for “The Fix,” the Presidential math is still not in his favor:

There is no doubt — as I have written in this space — that Trump is on the march in swing states. But what gets lost is that a) Trump was way behind so his recent gains have made him competitive rather than dominant and b) the electoral map simply favors any Democrat over any Republican.

The latest Fix analysis of the map represents that dual reality. Yes, Trump is in better shape in our latest map than he was when we last handicapped the 2016 race in mid-August. But, he remains considerably behind Clinton in the race for 270 electoral votes.


Authorities have arrested a man in connection with two bombings (in New York and New Jersey) over the weekend. Law enforcement officials say they do not believe that the bombings are part of a larger terrorist plot.


► Donald Trump was in Colorado Springs on Saturday making his usual ridiculous political promises, and now here comes the rest of the Trumpians. Donald Trump, Jr. will be campaigning for his father at an event on the Western Slope of Colorado on Thursday. Junior has been making some off-the-wall comments lately, and we’re curious how he’ll address “sportsmen issues” given his personal history of killing defenseless animals around the globe.

Elsewhere, Trump’s daughter, Ivanka Trump, will be the guest of honor at a fundraiser in Denver on Wednesday.


Get even more smarter after the jump…


Donald Trump Jr. To Talk “Sportmen’s Issues” In Junction

hunt30n-13-webDonald Trump, Jr. kills big stuff.

Donald Trump, Jr. holding an elephant's tail.

Donald Trump, Jr. holding an elephant’s tail.

As the Grand Junction Sentinel’s Amy Hamilton reports, it’s almost too audacious to be believed:

Donald Trump Jr., son of Republican candidate for president Donald J. Trump, will be drumming up support for policies that benefit sportsmen in the West’s public lands during a talk Thursday night at the Mesa County Fairgrounds.

The event, called “Autumn Fever — A Campfire with Donald Trump, Jr.,” is expected to attract about 4,000 people, said Marjorie Haun, who is helping to spread the word about the event. The effort is hosted through the Colorado Sportsmen “Make America Great” group.

Haun said the junior Trump is expected to talk about sportsmen issues and “issues specific to western Colorado” rather than directly campaigning for his father.

Hamilton didn’t see fit to mention it, but Donald Trump, Jr. is infamous as a big-game hunter, with photos of Junior and his brother with various dead animals having been made a regular issue both before and during his father’s presidential campaign. The Washington Post reported last month about Junior’s love of putting holes in large mammals:

Americans are nearly split when it comes to hunting animals for sport — 56 percent said they oppose it — and they are particularly against big-game hunting. Eighty-six percent of respondents said they disapprove of it, and six out of 10 said they believe it should be illegal. [Pols emphasis]

Donald Jr. spoke in exhaustive detail about his love of hunting for the enthusiast site Bowsite earlier in the year. He explained that he learned to hunt as a boy from his maternal grandfather during summers spent in Czechoslovakia. He said he has been an active hunter throughout his life, that his preferred form is bowhunting, and that he frequently employs it during the weekends to hunt whitetail deer in New York…

He talked of hunting not just as a pastime, but as an important influence on his character. “I owe the outdoors way too much to try to do the usual apologize and hide thing,” Trump Jr. said. “It’s kept me out of a lot of other trouble I probably would’ve gotten into.”

hunt30n-8-webTo be sure, neither we nor we would say most Coloradans are opposed to hunting properly managed by wildlife authorities: especially when the hunt is actually for consumption in addition to sport. Hunting plays a role in regulating animal populations in the West, and the Colorado Parks and Wildlife does a good science-based job administering hunting in our state.

What Donald Trump Jr. does in Africa, killing threatened animals to take crass trophies like an elephant’s tail, bears no resemblance to any kind of hunting that most Coloradans would find acceptable. And that makes Junior’s trip to Junction to discuss “sportsmen issues” more than a little questionable in our minds.

We wouldn’t be surprised to see protesters outside Junior’s event Thursday who agree.

Monday Open Thread

“Insanity is knowing that what you’re doing is completely idiotic, but still, somehow, you just can’t stop it.”

–Elizabeth Wurtzel

Weekend Open Thread

“In the end, people are persuaded not by what we say, but by what they understand.”

–John C. Maxwell

Conservationists Launch Big Campaign Against Laura Woods

Sen. Laura Woods (R).

Sen. Laura Woods (R).

Remember last weekend when we noted with no small amount of surprise a new ad campaign from far-right GOP Sen. Laura Waters Woods of Arvada, in which she claimed with (literally) no factual basis that she has “consistently supported public lands?”

It looks like that was a bigger mistake than even we imagined. A press release from Conservation Colorado today:

Conservation Colorado, the state’s largest environmental organization, today announced that it will be making an investment of hundreds of thousands of dollars in Jefferson County’s Senate District 19 to educate voters about incumbent Senator Laura Woods’ dismal record on protecting Colorado’s open spaces, public lands, and way of life before they cast their votes this fall. The campaign spending will come in the form of mailers, digital ads, and canvassers.

Pete Maysmith, Executive Director of Conservation Colorado, stated:

“When it comes to protecting our open spaces and landscapes, Laura Woods is flat out wrong. She is trying to convince voters that she supports protecting our public lands. But the reality is that she has repeatedly thrown her weight behind Cliven Bundy-style efforts to turn our lands over to private interests, which could make it easier for them to be split up and sold off to out-of-state oil companies. Woods is not being straight with her constituents; her voting record is out of touch with our values as people who enjoy all that our amazing state has to offer. Former Senator Rachel Zenzinger, on the other hand, understands that the outdoors are part of our Colorado way of life and must be protected for future generations. Zenzinger will once again represent the citizens of Arvada and Jefferson County well in the state Senate in 2017.”

John Gale, a hunter and angler from SD-19, echoed:

“Sportsmen and women in Colorado know that our wild public lands and waters support the most robust populations of fish and wildlife we have. They provide quality access to every American for hunting and fishing and other recreational opportunities. But Laura Woods has let hunters and anglers in our district down by aligning with special interests operating on the fringes of popular opinion to comprise our outdoor heritage and take away western traditions like hunting and fishing that mean so much to our families. I urge sportsmen and women to cast their vote for someone who supports their values– and that person is not Laura Woods.”

Woods recently has been scrambling to defend herself on public lands by paying to promote ads on social media touting her “solid” voting record on the issue, despite offering absolutely no proof for her claims. In fact, she has voted the wrong way on every single bill that would protect public lands that Conservation Colorado has scored in its annual scorecard since she has been in office (for reference, here are the 2016 and 2015 scorecards).

Hunters, hikers, families, and everyone in SD-19 who enjoys the outdoors deserve to know what, exactly, Woods believes is her “solid” record on protecting our lands when all of the evidence points to the contrary.

As the state’s most competitive state senate race, SD-19 was always going to get a lot of attention from both sides. With that said, Woods did herself no favors by trying to claim without even an attempt to factually demonstrate that she is a supporter of public lands. If anything, Woods’ far-out right wing politics put her much closer to the Cliven Bundy “sagebrush rebel” side of the public lands debate: that is, so far from the position of true conservationists it’s simply laughable.

Or it should be. As it stands now, conservationists will have to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars just to set the record straight with the voters in Sen. Woods’ district. And that’s no laughing matter. If there’s an upside, it’s that Woods has given conservationists a wealth of material to work with.

And enough to be highly motivated to see her defeated.

Donald Trump Goes Full-Out Reverse Birther

Former Birther-in-Chief Donald Trump now says that Barack Obama was definitely born in the U.S.

Former Birther-in-Chief Donald Trump now says that Barack Obama was definitely born in the U.S.

UPDATE: National media outlets are not happy at being “Rick-rolled” by Trump today. From the Daily Beast:

CNN anchor Jake Tapper decried how Trump had successfully gotten millions to tune into his “birther” address, only to find a drawn-out promotion of his campaign and hotel. “It’s hard to imagine this as anything other than a political Rick-roll,” Tapper remarked. “We got played again by the Trump campaign,” his colleague John King added.


“The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist.”
     — from the movie “The Usual Suspects”

Republican Donald Trump may not be fit or qualified for the Presidency, but there’s no arguing that he is a master media manipulator. As Chris Cillizza reports for “The Fix,” Trump managed to convince news outlets to pay a lot of attention to him this morning in Washington D.C.:

Trump may have outdone himself on Friday morning. He and his campaign touted a “major” announcement at his newly-opened hotel in Washington, DC at 10 AM Friday morning.  The word was that Trump would walk away from his past skepticism about President Obama’s citizenship while also laying the blame for the birther movement at the feet of Hillary Clinton. (That, of course, isn’t true — according to numerous fact-checkers — but no matter: Trump planned to say it anyway.)

And say it he did. “Hillary Clinton and her campaign of 2008 started the birther controversy. I finished it,” said Trump. “President Obama was born in the United States. Period.” [Pols emphasis]

Trump’s assertions about Clinton’s role in the birther movement are wrong. His simple statement that Obama was born in the United States directly contradicts myriad statements he has made questioning the president’s birthplace over the past five years…

…It was a low moment for politics and political coverage. A nothing-burger filled with falsehoods covered as though it was the Super Bowl. But for Trump, it might have been his crowning achievement: All eyes on him with the chance to direct the play in whatever way he saw fit. The ringmaster — calling the shots in all three rings of the circus. It was peak Trump.

We have nothing else to add here that isn’t glaringly obvious already.

Joe Coors, Jr. Dies After Surgery Complications

Joe Coors, Jr.

Joe Coors, Jr.

As KDVR reports:

Joe Coors Jr., the great-grandson of brewer Adolph Coors and former congressional candidate, died Thursday night from complications from surgery. He was 74.

Coors, a Republican, ran against Rep. Ed Perlmutter for Congress in Colorado’s 7th Congressional District in 2012 and lost.

Coors ran an ad during the 2012 election in which he declared “I’m not a beer.”

Coors, Jr. was easily defeated by Democrat Ed Perlmutter in 2012, in part due to difficulties smoothing out his personal biography for voters. Coors, Jr. was the eldest member of the fourth generation of the Coors family.

Mike Coffman Can’t Cease or Desist from Talking Trump

Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Obfuscation)

Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Obfuscation)

Mike Coffman really wants to talk about Donald Trump.

This would seem counterintuitive as a political strategy, but Coffman’s re-election campaign seems convinced that continuing to talk about his support/non-support for Trump is somehow going to help him defeat Democrat Morgan Carroll in November.

Mark Matthews of the Denver Post has the details on Coffman’s strange legal challenge this week regarding his sorta-support for Trump:

U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman on Thursday demanded that a major Democratic booster stop sending Colorado voters an attack piece about him because he says the political mailer inaccurately describes his stance — or lack thereof — on Donald Trump.

Specifically, Coffman is disputing the flier’s assertion that he supports the Republican presidential nominee. Coffman, R-Aurora, is running for re-election in a swing district that curls east around Denver, and he has made a point of not saying either way whether he backs Trump — which is why his attorney sent a cease-and-desist letter to the House Majority PAC, a super PAC that backs Democratic House candidates.

The mailer makes the claim that “Mike Coffman Supports Donald Trump And That Puts America’s Safety At Risk,” according to a copy included in the correspondence.

“The advertisement includes false statements prohibited by Colorado law,” notes attorney Jonathan Anderson in a letter to the House Majority PAC. “Mike Coffman has never indicated that he supports Donald Trump as a candidate for President.” [Pols emphasis]

This isn’t an argument about semantics. You can’t accuse someone of distorting your position when you refuse to make that position clear yourself. Let’s go back to what Coffman spokesperson Kristin Strohm said about his support for Trump back in February, via Ernest Luning of the Colorado Statesman:

“Will Mike Coffman support the Republican nominee over Bernie or Hillary? The answer is obviously yes.”

Coffman could easily put this whole argument to rest by stating clearly that he DOES NOT SUPPORT Donald Trump for President, but he won’t do that. As we’ve discussed in this space in the past, Coffman perhaps feels he cannot do that because of the risk that pro-Trump voters in CD-6 would abandon him.

Coffman continues to play this strange game over Trump in large part because media outlets like the Denver Post let him get away with it. Former Political Editor and current Editorial Page Editor Chuck Plunkett never misses an opportunity to throw Coffman a life preserver, and neither does Matthews. Take this paragraph from Matthews’s story today:

A spokesman for House Majority PAC defended the flier, and noted a past statement by a Coffman aide who said the congressman “obviously” would support the Republican candidate over a Democrat. That was long before Trump clinched the nomination, however. [Pols emphasis]

Huh? Coffman’s spokesperson said he would “support the Republican nominee [for President],” but that doesn’t matter because it was before Trump clinched the nomination? That’s completely absurd. If his spokesperson was wrong in saying that Coffman would support the nominee, then Coffman should just say as much. But Coffman doesn’t want to do that; in his story today, Matthews even quotes a different Coffman spokesperson repeating that Coffman hasn’t decided not to support Trump.

Mike Coffman, and only Mike Coffman, is responsible for being ambiguous about Donald Trump.

Again, Coffman could settle this argument at any time by just saying, one way or the other, whether he supported Trump for President. We’d say it’s probably too late for Coffman to sincerely oppose Trump at this point, but it’s still on his shoulders; if Coffman refuses to say that he does not support Trump, then by logical default we must rely on his spokesperson’s statement from earlier this year.

Obviously Coffman is trying to play both sides here so that he doesn’t lose support based on what he says about Trump. This isn’t complicated.

Donald Trump May Never Break His Own Ceiling

This is how far Donald Trump has risen in recent polling.

This is how far Donald Trump has risen of late.

Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump has been rising in national polls of late, though political analysts disagree on what this might mean for the Presidential race as we approach 50 days until Election Day. Glenn Thrush of Politico breaks out the political ouija board and finds that Trump is still stuck with the same problems he’s had for months:

Everything has gone Trump’s way — and he’s still not ahead. If 2012 was all about the 47 percent, this year — at least for Trump — is defined by the 44 percent. In poll after poll after poll — during the good times and bad, the most disliked politician in the country can never rise (with a few outliers) beyond the 38 to 44 percent range among likely voters (he typically tops out at 42 among registered voters). In a normal year, numbers such as these are in a statistical range political consultants like to call “the Killing Field.” [Pols emphasis]

Clinton’s decision to lay low in August (a time when Trump dumped his Man from Ukraine Paul Manafort and hired the competent professional Kellyanne Conway) will be debated for years. If she wins, her summertime fundraising blitz, meant to unleash a torrent of anti-Trump advertising at campaign’s end, will be regarded as strategic genius; lose and her decision is up there with Michael Dukakis in the tank. But the bigger point: Even with Trump’s nifty new telepromptered campaign, even with Clinton’s paranoia-will-destroy-her decision-making (i.e. covering up her own pneumonia) — Trump isn’t doing particularly well. “True to form, he’s underperforming any other Republican candidate in his position,” said a GOP operative who is publicly backing the reality-star-turned-politician. “He’s just now starting to crack Mitt Romney levels, and everything has gone right for him, including an on-camera face-plant by his opponent.”

Of course, Democrat Hillary Clinton has her own likability problems, though her ceiling is not nearly as low as Trump’s 42 percent. This election has been cast as a battle between two of the most disliked major party candidates in American history, and the Presidential race may very well be won by the candidate who is the least offensive to voters.

If that’s the case, we’d still rather be in Clinton’s shoes right now.