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I support People, not Parties. I support Ideas, not Ideologies. I am an independent voter.

Colorado is First Again

(We like making history – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

flag-decorative-transgender02_1Among the big stories of Tuesday night’s primary, there is a story that I think is a bigger deal than it’s coverage would indicate.

As the New York Daily News reports, Colorado tied with Utah as the first states to nominate openly transgender candidates for Congress.

Two women have become the first transgender candidates to gain a major party nominations to Congress after Democratic primary wins.

Colorado’s Secretary of State website still showed one county left to be tallied in Plowright’s race, though she led Donald Martinez by more than 16 points and local media had called the race for her.

On her campaign website the 33-year-old former Microsoft employee describes herself as “an Army veteran, a self-educated woman, a member of the LGBTQ+ community, and a passionate social democrat.”

She will face Douglas Lamborn, a Republican incumbent running for his sixth term in the House who has had a series of easy wins for the positions in general elections and easily defeated a primary challenger on Tuesday.

Misty Plowright defeated Donald Martinez in CD-5, and will now go on to face Doug Lamborn in the general election. Neither of the two candidates featured in the article are likely to win their elections in November, but nonetheless, this is a milestone worthy of notice.

State Sen. Jesse Ulibarri Will Not Seek Second Term

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

POLS UPDATE: Statement from leading LGBT advocate group One Colorado:

“Senator Ulibarrí has been a strong champion for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Coloradans and their families during his time in the State Senate. Particularly, his leadership on the Birth Certificate Modernization Act – a bill that will make it less burdensome for transgender Coloradans to update the gender on their birth certificate – has been remarkable.

“Colorado will be losing a champion for all those whose voices have been drowned out by big money and special interests in politics – his voice will be missed greatly in the State Senate. As a member of the LGBT Caucus, Senator Ulibarrí has consistently made sure that the needs of LGBT Coloradans are represented at the Legislature. We know he will bring these issues to his work at Wellstone Action and wish him the best of luck. He certainly leaves big shoes to fill.”


In a statement posted to Facebook, State Senator Jesse Ulibarri today announced that he would not be running for re-election in Adams County Senate District 21 this November.

Sen. Ulibarri will be taking a position as Vice President of Impact and External Affairs for Wellstone Action, a progressive leadership training organization. Representative Dominick Moreno will seek election to the now open Senate seat with Sen. Ulibarri’s endorsement. No other candidates have entered the race for SD21.


Mike Coffman Promotes Self at Lamborn’s Expense

(Maybe it was Don Suppes — Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Around 9:30pm tonight (Sept. 28), the twitter account @RepMikeCoffman posted a link to the Denver Post story regarding controversial comments by Doug Lambourn supposedly encouraging military leaders to resign. The tweet said:

This is a rare moment of disunity in Colorado's GOP delegation to Congress which is normally hesitant to discuss each other or express disagreement. 

Coffman has, up til now, declined to comment on the story in the press. One wonders whether the Congressman actually had anything to do with the tweet or whether this will be another one chalked up to "rogue staffers."

State Sen. King Charged with 3 Felonies & 2 Misdemeanors

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

THURSDAY POLS UPDATE: In a press release this morning, Colorado Ethics Watch calls on Republican Sen. Steve King to resign from the Colorado Senate.

Yesterday, Senator Steve King (R-Mesa County) was indicted on three felony and two misdemeanor charges related to alleged theft of public funds and falsification of records. Today, Colorado Ethics Watch calls on him to resign from the Colorado Senate.

According to the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel, the 18th Judicial District Attorney's office filed a criminal complaint against Sen. King, alleging that he wrongfully took between $2000 and $5000 from the Mesa County Sheriff's Office and Colorado Mesa University, both part-time employers of Senator King. The article also states that the District Attorney is investigating Senator King for other possible criminal violations.

Although Senator King is not seeking re-election, he remains the Chair of the powerful Legislative Audit Committee. The Committee is scheduled to meet twice more before Senator King's term ends. [Pols emphasis]

"The people of Mesa County deserve better than a Senator facing felony charges for embezzlement from public entities," said Luis Toro, Director of Ethics Watch. "Senator King should step down immediately and allow a replacement to serve the remainder of his term."


Sen. Steve King (R).

Sen. Steve King (R).

Grand Junction seems to have really poor luck with elected officials

The complaint alleges King defrauded the Mesa County Sheriff’s Office and Colorado Mesa University of $2,000 to $5,000 between July 2013 and December. The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel reported Wednesday that no affidavit explaining the basis for the charges was filed.

Today, in a turn of events not altogether unforeseen by political observers, State Senator Steve King was charged with a series of crimes related to apparent irregularities in outside work that he did during his time in the legislature. 

As ColoradoPols initially reported earlier this month, King was being paid for three different government jobs simultaneously. King was fired from the Mesa County Sheriff's office early in the summer for allegedly falsifying timecards. As the extent of the questionable behavior became public, King withdrew his candidacy for Mesa County Sheriff. Now, DA George Brauchler has filed a series of charges which include felony counts of embezzlement of public property, forgery and theft. He also was charged with misdemeanor counts of forgery and official misconduct.

Waller Drops Out of AG Race

(What a strange ending for Waller. He probably should have dropped out months ago, or at least soon after the GOP State Convention, so why now? — Promoted by Colorado Pols)

As Eli Stokols at KDVR (And later, everyone else) reports:

State Rep. Mark Waller announced Monday afternoon that he is ending his campaign for attorney general and asked his fellow Republicans to unify behind Cynthia Coffman, FOX31 Denver was first to report.

Honestly, Waller’s decision came about because Republicans already had unified behind Coffman, Colorado’s deputy attorney general, who won support from nearly 70 percent of the delegates at the GOP state assembly earlier this month.

After Waller barely made the primary ballot earning just over 30 percent at the assembly, the writing was on the wall. [Emphasis Mine]

This will free up only a minimal amount of resources for other Republican candidates. As Stokols points out, Waller had only minimal support anyway. While this news is interesting, it doesn't really change much. 


Nate Silver Picks Udall To Win

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Nate Silver, Prophet

Nate Silver.

In one of his first posts since re-launching, Nate Silver picked Udall to win in the 2014 Colorado Senate Race, saying:

The GOP got the candidate of its choice in Rep. Cory Gardner, who declared for the race last month. That will prevent them from again nominating Ken Buck, the tea party candidate who lost a winnable race in 2010. (Buck has withdrawn from this year’s Senate race and decided to run for the U.S. House instead.) By our measures, Gardner is a decent candidate rather than a great one. He’ll start at a fundraising deficit to the Democratic incumbent, Mark Udall, who had $4.7 million in cash on hand as of Dec. 31, and he comes from a conservative district and has amassed a conservative voting record that may or may not translate well in the Denver suburbs. But Udall’s approval ratings only break even, and we give Republicans a 40 percent chance of winning his seat.

In rating the various Senate races, Silver and his team considered the national environment, candidate quality, state partnership, incumbency advantage, and available head-to-head polls. 

Silver went on to predict that the GOP had a slight advantage overall, with North Carolina rated as a 50-50 toss up and set to decide control of the Senate in 2015. He did urge caution though, as many of these races will shift significantly depending on the results of primaries. 

Silver explains that the Senate elections in years like this (seats which last had an election during an open seat presidential year, like 2008), the opposition is expected to have a major advantage, which in this case, should be amplified by the ongoing GOP advantage in off-years. So the fact the Senate battle is shaping up to be an even split, with neither side a clear front-runner, is actually great news for dems. 

But we'll have to wait and see once primaries in states like Alaska have been decided for a truly clear picture of where everything stands. 


Quote of the Year

Maybe not, but it's pretty darn funny. 

In a Denver Post Article today, the opening paragraph is:

State Rep. Mark Waller says he can't quite articulate his thoughts about the current session of the House of Representatives, but he insists they're nonetheless valid.


In other news, has anyone else noticed that this notice has been coming up on the Denver Post site:

You've reached your limit of free articles for this 30-day period. For full digital access, sign up today for just 99¢!

I guess we've all been mooching too much, for too long. The setup on the paywall is pretty flimsy, though. I got by without much trouble.

This probably should be in the open thread, but no one is going to read anything in the weekend open thread this late on a Sunday and I don't want to wait til tomorrow morning. 

Plus, I'm an adult and I'll do what I want. 

RMGO Goes To War Against The GOP

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

SUNDAY POLS UPDATE: The Denver Post's Lynn Bartels:

The three RMGO-backed Senate candidates in Jefferson County are Tony Sanchez, Laura Woods and Tim Neville. Sanchez faces Nicolais in the GOP primary for the Senate seat now held by Democrat Andy Kerr, while Woods faces Sias in the GOP primary for the Senate seat now held by Democrat Rachel Zenzinger. Neville so far has no primary opponent, and is expected to face Democrat Jeanne Nicholson in November.

Rocky Mountain Gun Owners claims in its Facebook post that the party is allowing “campaign operatives” for “anti-gun” candidates Sias and Nicolais to work in the Jeffco office and have “exclusive access to key data” that could give them an advantage in the June 24 primary. Brown also claimed in a fundraising letter that the party is “giving preferential treatment to the candidates who refused to fill out our survey.”

Nicolais, who is a member of the NRA, pointed out that he didn’t bother to fill out the survey for the same reason he didn’t fill out the AFL-CIO survey: He wasn’t going to get the endorsement. He said he received the survey after the gun group already endorsed Sanchez.


Not that it's really anything new, but Dudley Brown of the Rocky Mountain Gun Owners is again causing trouble. 

In an email sent to RMGO members and supports this morning, Brown stated that:

RMGO-PAC has received word from multiple sources that the Jefferson County Republican Party is now turning away volunteers that openly support conservatives in the area

If that sounds strange to you, it should. But he goes on to explain that he doesn't mean ALL conservatives…

The party is asking volunteers, at the door, who they are supporting in contested State Senate primaries, and if they answer "Laura Woods", "Tony Sanchez" and "Tim Neville" (RMGO-PAC endorsed candidates), the volunteers are asked to leave.

That's a pretty bold accusation. And if true, could lead to some interesting GOP intra-party drama come County Assembly, which is on March 22. 


Rep Wright Leaves Gun Unattended at Capitol

(The stupid! It burns! – promoted by Colorado Pols)

THURSDAY POLS UPDATE: Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense​ released the following statement today:

"As a concealed-carry permit holder, Rep. Wright should understand the risks of leaving a loaded gun unattended. On any given day there are classes of school-aged children touring the Capitol. And we all know the horror stories of what happens when children find loaded guns. It is inexcusable,” said State Leader, Jennifer Hope.
She continued, "Rep. Wright claims he carries his weapon because it is his ‘duty to be a first responder.' To that we ask, how can someone respond to an emergency situation when they can't even locate their weapon? The sad irony here is that Rep. Wright sponsored legislation to expand concealed carry rights to gun owners without permits.  We shudder to think of this reality as we see the example of ‘responsible gun ownership’ that Rep Wright has displayed."


Rep. Jared Wright (R-Fruita).

Rep. Jared Wright (R-Fruita).

Let's hear a big hurrah for the Jared Wright as he absolutely obliterates any chance that Republican's will be able to use gun laws to hurt Dems in the 2014 elections in Colorado. 

In a move so ironic it hurts, State Representative Jared Wright left a loaded gun behind after a committee hearing on… wait for it… concealed carry permits. 

As if Jared Wright didn't have enough problems within and beyond his own party, he is now single-handedly responsible for enshrining the Democratic Party's majority for 2015, and will now be the poster boy for the (not so) responsible gun owners. 

The Republic/AP reports:

DENVER — A state lawmaker says he'll no longer carry a firearm in the Capitol after he inadvertently left a loaded handgun in a committee room…

State law prohibits guns in the Capitol "without legal authority." Wright, who was on the Fruita police force in 2007-2011, says that as a peace officer he has a right to be armed in the Capitol.

Wright says after speaking with the State Patrol and Gov. John Hickenlooper's office, he won't carry a gun in the Capitol anymore.

This follows a Durango Herald piece from last year when Rep. Chris Holbert told a witness testifying about gun bills: "Do you understand that there are several guns in this room?"


After Gay Marriage, is Polygamy Next?

Since we seem to have reached watershed status and state after state is now allowing same-sex marriage, many of us have come very accustomed to hearing slippery slope arguments about how gay marriage will ultimately lead to similar laws allowing people to marry multiple spouses, children, or even animals and household appliances. 

Usually, these arguments are rightfully ignored, but let's consider the question honestly for a moment. 

Marrying your Mr. Coffee or pet poodle is simply ridiculous. Neither is capable of expressing consent. Similarly, children are considered to not be capable of rendering consent. Although, the laws establishing the age of consent and the ability to marry with parental permission vary widely across the states.  

But when we reach the question of polygamy, I think the doomsdayers may have a point. It is, in my opinion, entirely plausible that the next fight after gay marriage will be for multiple marriages. After all, we allow unlimited serial marriages, as evidenced by this Indiana woman who is considering her 24th husband. Totally legal. 

So is we are ok, legally, with somebody marrying 24 men one right after the other, why are we so frightened by the idea of someone marrying two men at the same time, with everyone involved consenting?

Unfortunately, polygamy carries with it the stigma of some very famous cult-like communes in which young girls were forced into plural marriages with much older men. But that is a separate issue of age of consent and should not be lumped in with the debate over polygamy.

Meanwhile, tv shows like Big Love and Sister Wives are raising awareness and priming the country for a discussion about the limits of marriage. And in fact, the family featured in Sister Wives was the subject of a recent court case which resulted in the weakening of Utah's bigamy prohibitions, essentially allowing people to choose polygamy as a lifestyle without fear of prosecution, while upholding the state's right to decline recognizing the marriages. 

Colorado currently has a similar law, making it a class 6 and class 2 felony respectively for "Any married person who, while still married, marries or cohabits in this state with another." 

This decision could easily be compared to the Supreme Court case in 2003 which struck down sodomy laws. Once gay couples could be "out" without fear of government persecution, the public was able to see how common it was and how many "normal" people were gay. We may see a similar effect as state cohabitation laws begin to fall all over the US and plural marriage families begin to live openly. 

So perhaps some on the right are correct when they say that the next step in the liberalization of marriage is polygamy. But they are wrong in thinking that the gay rights movement is the first step, this progression began long before gay rights. And they are wrong to draw that line farther by concluding that children, animals, and objects will follow, because those prohibitions are not based in religious preference, but rather in the question of consent. 

As for me, I maintain the position that marriage is not the business of the government. I would rather see governments at every level end recognition and regulation of marriage altogether and replace those laws with a system that allows any number of adults to unify their finances and property if they wish, regardless of their romantic relationship with one another. 

But since that is unlikely in the near future, I will continue to support the movement towards recognition, or at least decriminalization, of consenting adults who choose to be in uncommon relationships, whether they are interracial, same-sex, or polygamous. 

Clown-Car Preview w/o 2/10

(Whee! – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Here are some of the bills we can look forward to seeing die this week. Special note is given to the nearly identical bills to repeal the magazine capacity limit from last year being heard in both the House and Senate committees this week. Also worth noting is Jared Wright's repeat attempt to make it illegal for any state employee to assist federal law enforcement who are pursuing terrorist threats (which is identical to the bill that failed last year).

I particularly enjoy the solution-seeking-a-problem bill proposed Renfroe to keep the governor from restricting firearms in the case of an emergency. 


HB14-1155 Wright–Prohibit State Aid To NDAA Investigations

HB14-1106 Nordberg and Wright–Tax Deduction For Affordable Care Act Penalty

HB14-1151 Holbert and Saine–Repeal Ammunition Magazine Prohibition

SB14-111 by Senator(s) Brophy; also Representative(s) (None)–Interstate Sale Small Employer Health Benefit Plan

SB14-038 by Senator(s) Renfroe; also Representative(s) Everett–Governor Cannot Restrict Firearms During Emergency


SB14-100 by Senator(s) Baumgardner and Herpin, also Representatives(s) None– Repeal Large Capacity Ammunition Magazine Ban


HB14-1128 Szabo–Reduce Voter Identity Theft



CO Campaign Finance Law Struck Down

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Former Rep. Kathleen Curry.

Former Rep. Kathleen Curry.

The Coloradoan and the Herald reported last week that the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled in favor of La Plata County Commissioner Joelle Riddle and, by extension, former State Representative Kathleen Curry of Gunnison in their suit challenging Colorado's campaign finance limits. 

In 2010, Curry ran a write-in campaign as an independent candidate. The fact that she was having to run as a write in is yet another form of discrimination against independent candidates, but that's a separate issue. 

The case involved Colorado's limit of individual contributions of $200 per election. If that number seems wrong to you, it's because that number raises to $400 if you are running as a Democrat or Republican, since you might have a primary, (but probably won't). 

In the 2010 election, despite running as a write in, Curry lost by only 359 votes. If she had been able to raise double the money, like each of her opponents, she certainly could have won. 

In the review of the case, 590 State House and Senate candidates from the Dem and GOP parties were examined and it was determined that only 63 of them had actually faced a primary challenge. Yet, all of them had been allowed to collect twice as much per individual donor and to use all of that money during months immediately before the general election. 

Colorado will now be forced to rethink it's campaign finance laws. One proposal is to copy the federal law and require separate accounts for primary and general election funds, and prohibit primary funds from being spent after the primary election date. Another option is to simply drop the charade of primary vs general funds and just let all candidates collect up to $400 regardless of party affiliation. Either way, Colorado election law is a little bit more fair today.  

Candidates Emerge in Race to Succeed Schafer

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

On January 13th, the same day that HD 24 Rep. Sue Schafer announced she would not seek reelection, Edgewater Council Member Kristian Teegardin filed as a candidate. The next day, America Votes state director Jessie Danielson announced she would seek the seat as well. 

Both campaigns are already interviewing for paid campaign staff positions and it appears that this race will be intense. 


CO Insurance Commissioner Deflates “UdallGate” Claim

POLS UPDATE: State officials say that not only was Sen. Udall not intimidating the State's Department of Insurance in asking about the validity of policy cancellations, he was also HELPFUL in his questions. So much for that outrage. From Fox 31:

In separate letters Tuesday afternoon, Commissioner Marguerite Salazar and Barbara J. Kelley, the executive director of the Dept. of Regulatory Agencies, informed Congressman Cory Gardner, R-Yuma, and state Rep. Amy Stephens, one of several GOP candidates looking to challenge Udall later this year, that a fact-finding review “revealed no evidence of any intimidation, and the ‘level of coercion by Senator Udall and/or his staff’ was zero.”

On Monday, Salazar was pressed about the interaction by Republican lawmakers during her own confirmation hearing at the Capitol.

“I characterize this as a heated discussion between two staff people that happens all the time,” Salazar said, trying to downplay the controversy.

Salazar’s letter to Gardner Tuesday reiterated that position.

“Senator Udall’s staff was doing their own research separate and apart from the Division, and brought certain information to our attention, including the fact that carriers were sending notices that included renewal options,” she wrote.

“Moreover, we think the Senator’s efforts were useful.”


(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Article By The Colorado Independent

Marguerite Salazar, confirmed by the Senate in Denver Monday as state insurance commissioner, threw cold water on state Republican outrage machine. During her confirmation hearing, she said the messages staffers for Democratic U.S. Sen. Mark Udall, who’s up for reelection, sent to her office pushing back on the number of Obamacare-related health insurance policy cancelations was routine communication and in fact bolstered the work of her staff.

As CoPols mentioned yesterday, it's only a matter of time before the facts confirm the material points of Sen. Mark Udall's objection with the widely-reported statistic that a quarter-million Coloradoans (yes, that's the right way to write Coloradoans) had their health insurance canceled. But in the mean time, the accusations that Udall had bullied or harassed a state department is losing steam all on it's own with the "victim" saying that nothing had been done wrong. 

But don't hold your breath waiting for this development to be reported very far outside the Colorado Independent. 

Caldara Gloats About His Voter Fraud in DP Editorial

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)


Jon Caldara, the infamous head of the Independence Institute, had an editorial printed in Colorado's paper of record yesterday telling the people of the state that they can now legally voter anywhere in the state that they want, and that the winner of elections going forward will be the campaign with the most buses. His evidence: "How do we know this? Well, because I'm not going to jail."

As this site has covered on multiple occasions, the law passed last year to expand voter access does not, in any way, allow voters to vote wherever they please, and numerous Republican elected officials have said as much, too. But that means nothing to Caldara, who has continued his "neener, neener" parade across newspapers and talk radio since the Colorado attorney general's office decided not to file charges against him. 

In the editorial, Caldara goes even farther, announcing an accelerated campaign to teach all Colorado voters how to legally vote in districts where they do not live. 

The question remains about how the 2014 legislature intends to deal with this issue, if at all.