Bad Policy, Clever Politics for Victor Mitchell

Victor Mitchell

Republican gubernatorial candidate Victor Mitchell today released a new online ad to jumpstart an idea he has been pushing for a few months now: Going after elected officials who campaign for a new job while maintaining their old position. From a press release:

The Victor Mitchell campaign has unveiled a new web-video explaining his support for a new law that would require Colorado candidates holding full-time state or local elective offices to resign before seeking a higher office. “Taxpayers should not be forced to continue to pay the salaries of officeholders who are seeking promotion to a higher office,” says Mitchell, the businessman and former state legislator. “Campaigning is almost a full-time job these days and we can’t expect an officeholder to run for a different office without neglecting their current office responsibilities.”

“This law would not prevent anyone from seeking any office they choose. It would merely prevent neglect of duty and taxpayer subsidies of campaigners,” continued Mitchell. “I don’t like corporate welfare, and I don’t like welfare for politicians, either.”

“In the same spirit that “Term Limits” has constrained political careerism and TABOR has promoted financial accountability, Resign-To-Run will help keep the political insiders accountable to the people that elect them,” contends Mitchell. “Don’t expect the establishment to embrace this new idea, but I am already seeing that the people of Colorado believe it’s a welcome check on political ambition.”

The web video itself is very well done and could be an effective message for Mitchell. Take a look:

We actually like the strategy of what Mitchell is trying to do here, but we have to point out the unworkability of the policy idea. Requiring elected officials to resign from office if the are running for another elected office isn’t going to solve the alleged problem here of officials who aren’t getting their work done. Frankly, it could make the situation worse.

But, of course, this is an advertisement designed to help Mitchell win a Republican Primary, and to that end it will probably work well. Mitchell doesn’t have the name ID of many of the other top GOP candidates, so he needs to differentiate himself in some way. He does that here with what he doesn’t say: That Republican gubernatorial candidates such as State Treasurer Walker Stapleton and Attorney General Cynthia Coffman –and, before he dropped out of the race on Monday, Arapahoe County District Attorney George Brauchler — are part of the problem while Mitchell is seeking the solution (though in Stapleton’s case, he could just say that he was never showing up to work in the first place).

Positioning yourself as a regular Joe Businessman running against a bunch of career politicians is a tried and true political tactic. With public polling showing consistently that people aren’t particularly happy with their elected officials, this could be the kind of spark that gets Mitchell’s campaign going.

Victor Mitchell Hits Cynthia Coffman on Abortion

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Republican gubernatorial candidate Victor Mitchell stated on Facebook that the Colorado Republican Party “should nominate pro-life candidates” and to do “otherwise is to abandon our values.”

Mitchell’s comment on Facebook came in response to a news report Friday that Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman, who’s also running for the GP gubernatorial nomination, is pro-choice.

The report, by CBS4 political specialist Shaun Boyd, prompted KNUS radio host Dan Caplis to denounce Coffman and to speculate that she lied about her pro-choice stance during her campaign for attorney general.

Caplis’ hostility reflects the opinion of what appears to be a sizable segment of GOP voters who participate in primary elections. Their position on the abortion issue precludes many pro-choice Republicans from running at all.

In fact, one pro-choice Republican, Ellen Roberts, dropped out of consideration for the U.S. Senate race in 2015 after denying that she’d described herself as pro-choice, when in fact she had done so on the floor of the Colorado Senate.

In taking a pro-choice stance, Coffman could be targeting an unknown number of unaffiliated voters who could participate in this year’s Republican primary. But in doing so, she risks alienating anti-abortion Republicans, who’ve demonstrated their grassroots abilities to push much of their agenda into the GOP platform in Colorado and who’ve seen it adopted by most GOP elected leaders here.

The State of the Race (for the State): November 2017

Tom Tancredo and Cynthia Coffman are in, and George Brauchler is out. There’s been lots of upheaval in the 2018 race for Governor in the last couple of weeks, so lets reset the field as we near the end of the year. Here’s our latest look at the State of the Race (for the State).

 

LOOKING GOOD

Rep. Jared Polis (D-Boulderish) remains the frontrunner in the race for governor.

Democratic candidates are outraising Republican counterparts not named Walker Stapleton by significant margins. Democrats Jared Polis, Cary Kennedy, Mike Johnston, and even Donna Lynne are running strong campaigns as we enter the campaign doldrums of the Holiday Season. Things should start to shake out a bit once we cross into 2018, because there just isn’t room for all four of these candidates to mathematically make the ballot through the caucus/assembly process; remember, any candidate who does not petition onto the ballot must get at least 30% of the vote at the state assembly for ballot access.

Polis has the name ID and the resources to go the caucus route, so at least one of the other three major Democratic candidates will need to spend a great deal of time and money on gathering petition signatures if they hope to see their name on the June Primary ballot. It’s hard to envision a scenario where Lynne does not go the petition route; the bigger question will be about what Kennedy and Johnston decide. Right now, all four major Democratic candidates are essentially rowing in the same direction. Expect that to change in January.

On the Republican side, State Treasurer Walker Stapleton and former Congressman Tom Tancredo have pulled away from the rest of a crowded pack. Stapleton is sweeping up one major Republican donor after another, and he likely ends the year with the largest amount of contributions among Republican candidates. Stapleton raised more than $300k just from major donors (contributions of $1,000 or more) in the last six weeks, and wrote himself a $250k check. This doesn’t count the hundreds of thousands of dollars being funneled into a pro-Stapleton PAC, either.

Ed Gillespie, Tom Tancredo, and Donald Trump

Tancredo, meanwhile, seems to be establishing himself as the [quote-unquote] insurgent candidate for Republicans. We learned from last Tuesday’s election results that incumbency won’t save Republicans in 2018. We saw that the Republican brand is in tatters. And Tuesday’s Democratic wipeout confirmed something many had long expected: That Trumpism doesn’t exist without Donald Trump. Tancredo is not an establishment Republican like failed Virginia gubernatorial candidate Ed Gillespie, nor is he a diehard Trumpian whose political fortunes will be tied to President Twitterer. In 2018, Tancredo may be embraced by national Republican factions – rather than openly opposed – and his strong name ID among Republican voters means that he doesn’t need to compete dollar-for-dollar with Stapleton.

 

LOOKING LOST

Attorney General Cynthia Coffman

Cynthia Coffman finally entered the GOP field for Governor after nearly a year of publicly teasing the idea. Even with Brauchler out of the race, it’s difficult to see how she might have a path to the GOP nomination in June. Longtime Republican operative/consultant Dick Wadhams told CBS4 Denver that Coffman’s entry into the race probably helps Tancredo more than anything else:

“Tancredo starts off with anywhere from 20 to 23 percent — a rock hard political base,” Wadhams said. “So the more the rest of the vote is divided up by these other Republican candidates, it helps him.

“Now, the challenge for the other candidates is for somebody to break through.”

Coffman is essentially running for Governor because she doesn’t want to be Attorney General any longer; if she’s going to run another statewide race in 2018, she figures that she might as well try for the top prize. Unfortunately for Coffman, she has neither the fundraising chops nor the conservative bonafides to be a top contender in a Republican Primary. Coffman has never been good at raising money; when she was first campaigning for Attorney General in 2013, she failed to surpass $100k in donations in her first four months in the race. It’s fair to say that Coffman would have entered the race for Governor long ago if she knew that the money would be there to sustain a campaign.

As for her conservative credentials, Coffman has lots of explaining to do to a right-wing base about why she issued a ruling in support of legislative efforts to reclassify the Hospital Provider Fee (HPF). Coffman may have been doing her legal duty with the HPF decision, but that won’t make diehard Republican voters feel any better. If you don’t think Coffman doesn’t already realize this problem, take a look at how she answered some straightforward budget questions in an interview with the Durango Herald:

Coffman deflected a question about the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights and Gallagher Amendment, which limit tax collections and have been blamed for hampering the state budget and dozens of local government budgets, including special districts.

“We would need to set a longer conversation,” she said. “I don’t want to give it short shrift.”

Nothing demonstrates leadership by refusing to answer questions about the state budget.

Oh, and then there’s the whole “Coffmangate” scandal that will be rehashed repeatedly.

 

STILL LOOKING AROUND

Things aren’t going well for the first 3 GOP candidates for Governor: Victor Mitchell, Mitt Romney’s Nephew, and George Brauchler.

Colorado Springs entrepreneur/pastor/author Barry Farah was supposedly going to enter the Republican gubernatorial field back in August, but he seems to have vanished since those initial reports. Farah is either playing a complicated political shell game, or (most likely) he just decided that there was no place for him in the 2018 field.

Republicans Victor Mitchell and Mitt Romney’s Nephew are still plugging along as candidates. Both men have the financial resources to make a serious run at the nomination, but thus far neither has been able to grab much of a foothold of support to reach top-tier status. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see both candidates out of the race by the beginning of 2018…nor would it be a shock if one or both made a late push to get into contention.

The longest-running candidate on the Democratic side, meanwhile, is businessman Noel Ginsburg, who officially joined the race last December. But like the Denver Broncos, Ginsburg is going nowhere fast; unless something changes, he is largely inconsequential in this discussion.

 

LOOKING AHEAD

Colorado’s next Governor is going to come out of the current field of candidates. There is really no other potential candidate lurking who could make a serious bid for the job at this late date.

This is Not What Momentum Looks Like

I have seen the future of Colorado, and it does not include me as Governor.

Republican George Brauchler has officially abandoned his bid for Governor in order to run for Attorney General. As the Colorado Springs Gazette reports this morning:

George Brauchler, the 18th Judicial District Attorney, has decided to drop his candidacy for the Republican nomination for Governor of Colorado for 2018. He first announced his decision to run last April.

Instead, Brauchler will campaign for Attorney General.

“My decision to run for office has always been about my commitment to serving Colorado far more than it has been about the title of the elected position,” said Brauchler in a statement released Monday. “That commitment remains just as strong as we make this important change.”

Brauchler is absolutely committed to getting elected to some sort of statewide office. It appears as though he won’t have to navigate through a crowded primary in a race for Attorney General — both Rep. Ken Buck (R-Greeley) and state Rep. Cole Wist are backing off — but Brauchler has a long way to go to catch up to Democrats like Phil Weiser and Michael Dougherty in the AG’s race.

Two years ago, Brauchler resisted a courtship from Republicans to be their default U.S. Senate candidate. After the 2016 election, Brauchler moved quickly to build support for a bid for Governor, officially launching his campaign in early April. But Brauchler’s gubernatorial bid never really took off; he had been limping along for months, and when he failed to even raise $100k in the Q3 fundraising period, the narrative of a campaign on life support began to take hold. Tom Tancredo’s subsequent entry into the race closed off whatever path to the GOP nomination Brauchler might have had left, and Attorney General Cynthia Coffman’s decision to run for Governor rather than re-election gave Brauchler the opening he needed to exit a race he couldn’t possibly win.

Attorney General is probably the statewide office that always made the most sense for Brauchler, but as he enters the race today, it is with the air of a man seeking a consolation prize.

Brauchler Confirms Interest in Attorney General Bid

Do I look like a good candidate for Attorney General?

Last week the Denver Post pulled out its own sad trumpet for Republican George Brauchler, who has driven his gubernatorial campaign off a cliff with awful fundraising numbers and then had a piano dropped on his corpse by Tom Tancredo. The Post story also suggested that Brauchler may be considering changing horses in mid-cycle in order to run for Attorney General in 2018, but that seemed like just a rumor…

Until today.

Mark Matthews has the rundown for the Denver Post on a fascinating game of musical chairs taking place in Colorado’s top races:

Brauchler’s campaign confirmed in a statement that he has entertained the idea of switching races. Brauchler serves as the 18th Judicial District attorney and made his name as the prosecutor as the Aurora theater shooter.

“The AG race in Colorado will be bigger than George, and the list of people qualified and dynamic enough to win a down-ticket race at this late date, less than one year out, is short. So, is he taking the calls and hearing people out? Yes, he is,” wrote Sean Tonner, a Brauchler adviser.

Wow.

We’re not going to pretend that it doesn’t make some sense for Brauchler to abandon his increasingly-hopeless bid for the GOP gubernatorial nomination, but we also have to admit that we’re surprised Brauchler is being so open about the possibility now that Attorney General Cynthia Coffman has entered the race for Governor.

As Matthews reports, Brauchler has been reaching out to potential rivals in an Attorney General’s race, including Rep. Ken Buck, who confirmed today that he will not run for the AG job himself. Some of this probably has to do with political necessity; with state Rep. Cole Wist preparing for a potential run at Attorney General, Brauchler needs to move quickly to stake out his position. It’s not unlikely that Wist may step aside for Brauchler — so long as the ask comes soon enough.

Whether or not Brauchler can clear out a GOP Primary in a race for Attorney General is a question for another day. By admitting that he is seriously considering leaving the governor’s race for something else, Brauchler is essentially waving the white flag on a gubernatorial bid. There’s no real way back from this kind of announcement.

 

Cynthia Coffman Finally Enters Race for Governor

Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman

Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman has been hemming and hawing about running for Governor for more than a year now. On Wednesday, Coffman finally made it official: She will seek the Republican nomination for Governor in 2018.

As the Denver Post explains:

Coffman long considered entering the governor’s race and traveled the country in recent months to raise her profile. One sign that she might not seek re-election as attorney general came in October when reports showed she had raised just $10,600 since July 1 for her attorney general campaign.

State Treasurer Walker Stapleton has already locked down many top Republican donors, but Coffman said she’s confident “money is going to come.”

Sure to surface in the campaign is the unsuccessful attempt Coffman in 2015 helped lead to oust then-Colorado GOP Chairman Steve House in a saga that involved accusations of extramarital affairs and threats. But when asked about the episode, she brushed it aside.

“I don’t think I need to talk about it a lot because I think it’s old news,” she said. “To me, Steve and I resolved that situation several years ago and it’s not something I give a lot of thought to.”

We have no doubt that the Attorney General would prefer that the “Coffmangate” scandal could just be swept under the rug, but as a candidate for the top job in the state, the odds of that happening are about zero. Coffman’s defense for this whole sordid scandal (click here for more background) has been, essentially, that her actions probably did not meet the legal standard for blackmail. As the Denver Post reported in June 2015:

Coffman said the meeting at the Warwick took place over wine and was meant to be confidential. She said she mentioned House’s alleged mistress by her first name at that meeting, but not in a threatening manner. “Nobody accused him of an affair. Nobody threatened to expose anything,” she said.

Coffman said: “If you look up the legal definition of blackmail this doesn’t fit it.” [Pols emphasis]

Yeah, that’s not good. Coffman’s entry in the race, and the necessary reminder of the “Coffmangate” scandal, could also be problematic for Republican candidate Tom Tancredo, who played a central role in trying to oust Steve House as the Chair of the State Republican Party in 2015.

Coffman will also have trouble explaining to a conservative electorate about her decision to offer a favorable opinion on the legality of the “Hospital Provider Fee” change that dominated the 2017 legislative session. Michael Fields of the Koch-brothers funded Americans for Prosperity made that argument in a Tweet this morning:

Coffman is the eighth or ninth Republican running for Governor (depending on whether you count Barry Farah, and we’re not sure if you should). Getting such a late start on the race is certainly a head-scratching decision for Coffman — particularly when you consider that she has been working on putting a campaign together for a very long time — and it’s not clear that there will be enough support for her to sustain a real challenge to more well-known and better funded Republican candidates.

Coffman’s decision to run for Governor also creates new problems for Republicans in the now-open race for Attorney General. Congressman Ken Buck had been considering a run but seemed to have grown wary of Coffman’s inability to make a decision on the race. If Buck stays out of the race, the likely Republican candidate is state Rep. Cole Wist, but it’s not clear that he would have the GOP field to himself.

The Crippling Indecisiveness of Cynthia Coffman

Attorney General Cynthia Coffman

Nobody trolls Colorado Republicans quite like Cynthia Coffman.

Hardly a week goes by that we don’t hear a new rumor about the Republican Attorney General’s interest in joining the crowded field of candidates running for Governor in 2018. For more than a year, Coffman’s name has been bandied about for the top job in the state. Sure, it’s fun to have your name mentioned as a candidate for higher office, but there’s a limit to its usefulness. Equivocate for too long, and you start to come across as more silly than sought-after.

Will Coffman run for Governor? Will she seek re-election as Attorney General? Will she throw her name in the hat to be the starting quarterback of the Denver Broncos? Colorado Republicans would very much appreciate it if she would just make a decision already. As Ernest Luning writes for the publication formerly known as the Colorado Statesman, people have stuff to do:

Cole Wist, Colorado’s assistant House Republican leader, says he’s “thinking seriously” about running for state attorney general in next year’s election if GOP incumbent Cynthia Coffman decides to run for governor, and he expects to announce his plans within weeks, he told Colorado Politics.

Coffman said months ago she was weighing a bid for governor rather than run for a second term but has yet to declare her intentions.

“That job is occupied with a Republican incumbent at this point,” Wist said in a telephone interview. “I’ll be watching closely to see what Attorney General Coffman decides to do. Should she decide to run for governor, I’m thinking seriously about running for that spot.”

Noting that the holidays were fast approaching — with the legislative session starting soon after — the Centennial lawmaker said he hopes to be able to launch a campaign before Thanksgiving if Coffman shifts to the gubernatorial race.

“I’d like to be in a position to announce over the next couple of weeks. If I’m going to start raising some money and getting ready to run, I’ll need December for that,” Wist said. “I’m trying to be respectful of her process and her timeframe,” he added. [Pols emphasis]

If this story sounds familiar to you, it’s probably because you saw something similar in July when Congressman Ken Buck (R-Greeley) made it known that he might run for Attorney General if Coffman ever makes up her damn mind about the office. Buck came close to just announcing a campaign for Attorney General in September before ultimately backing off.

Coffman’s charade has gone on for so long that gubernatorial candidate George Brauchler is even being floated as a potential AG contender.

By most accounts, Coffman really doesn’t like her job as Attorney General and would prefer to run for Governor in 2018. Her latest campaign finance report indicates that she (and her donors) are not particularly interested in re-election; of course, it does not appear that there are a lot of people who are especially excited about Coffman running for Governor, either.

While Coffman dithers about 2018, several Democratic candidates for Attorney General are passing her in the left lane, and it’s making Republicans nervous. There’s plenty of reason for potential Republican AG candidates like Buck and Wist to be impatiently checking their wristwatches.

Coffman is not the GOP’s best potential candidate for Governor, and if she keeps this up for much longer, she might not be the best Republican choice for Attorney General, either. Sometimes the only thing worse than making the wrong decision is failing to make any decision at all.

AG Coffman Loves Leadership (Except When She Doesn’t)

Attorney General Cynthia Coffman.

The energy industry-funded Western Wire celebrated yesterday with Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman the decision by the Trump administration’s Environmental Protection Agency to repeal the previous administration’s Clean Power Plan–a plan Colorado was already well on the road to complying with, but Coffman nonetheless fiercely opposed:

Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman (R) welcomed Administrator Scott Pruitt’s announcement that the Environmental Protection Agency would sign papers “to withdraw the so-called Clean Power Plan of the past administration.”

Under Pruitt, the EPA argues the Clean Power Plan exceeded the EPA’s regulatory authority.

“The EPA’s decision to repeal this rule clears the way for a new rule making process that addresses the legal deficiencies in the old rule and thoughtfully considers input from various stakeholders, including States,” Coffman told Western Wire via email. “The goal should be a federal-State partnership that gives States a meaningful role in setting achievable emission standards without dictating how States manage their power grids. Colorado has been a national leader in establishing clean energy standards, and we continue to prove that the States can develop and implement sound environmental policy within the bounds of the law.”

Coffman sparred with Gov. John Hickenlooper, a Democrat, who challenged the legality of Coffman’s participation in the lawsuit against the Obama-era rule. The Colorado Supreme Court declined Hickenlooper’s petition.

Because of renewable energy standards passed a decade ago as well as a major agreement to replace numerous coal-fired power plants in Colorado with natural gas power production, Colorado was already on course to meet the standards established by the Clean Power Plan. That’s why the decision by Attorney General Coffman to join the lawsuit against the administration in 2015 was broadly perceived to be a political stunt.

Of course, that was before Donald Trump became President! Now the lead attorney general in the lawsuit Coffman joined without the Governor’s consent is the head of the EPA, and the Clean Power Plan is headed for the history books at the federal level. Don’t expect Coffman to suddenly become a champion of tougher state standards, either–one need look no farther than her threatening local communities who try to enact drilling protections that exceed the status quo to see both ends of the pro-industry squeeze play. It’s a lot like the duplicitous arguments from state legislators who tried to repeal the Connect For Health Colorado insurance exchange this year, saying it wouldn’t be a problem because the federal exchange would continue to operate–except for the small detail of Republicans in Washington simultaneously working on the repeal of the federal exchange.

In short, the only people this situation should make happy work for the fossil fuel industry, who readers already know wield a disproportionate amount of influence in Colorado politics. Despite that heavy influence Colorado remains a leader in moving toward a clean energy economy, and is more likely to remain so now with further progress among the states becoming even more uneven. Continuing that record of progress versus rolling back Colorado’s model renewable energy standards is set to be a key issue in next year’s gubernatorial elections.

If that’s Cynthia Coffman’s long-term angle, she’d better hurry up! With Walker Stapleton having dedicated his campaign to supporting oil and gas industry, the people most likely to reward Coffman’s unswerving fealty could get taken off the market.

No Nibiru, just rural Democrats causing trouble.

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

So the world didn’t end today (yet). I  bet a 6th grader a chocolate bar that we’d still have class Monday.  His older brother had told him for sure that September 23 was it. Young students are all on Facebook, gobbling up and sharing every bit of fake news and conspiracy theory out there.

The eclipse, the hurricanes, and the earthquakes proved that doomsday was at hand.

This didn’t happen. Nibiru hitting earth, debunked on Snopes.com

My more sciencey students rushed to debunk this: “If there was a planet about to hit the earth, we would have seen it coming! Planets don’t just jump out of their orbits and go wherever they want! NASA says it’s not true. ”

I love that they’re paying attention in science class, and using evidence-based arguments.

But, no Nibiru in sight. Just another day, living the dream in northeast Colorado. Something else surprising is happening, though….Democrats are organizing in Northeast Colorado, and in rural counties all over the state.

At Octoberfest, it was chilly and drizzly. Felt like fall.  The Morgan County Democrats were boothed next to the American Legion, so we had lots of opportunities to chat while we waited for people to stop by.

I quickly found that we could talk about anything as long as I didn’t directly criticize the President. They could criticize him, though, and did. “Needs to take a Speech 101 class,” said a spry old gentleman who later showed off his world-class polka moves. “He’s embarrassing us with all the tweeting,” confided a lifelong Republican.

Democrats were zeroing in on us, too. “You have a booth? Here? How many Democrats are in Morgan County?” Turns out, about 3,000 registered Dems to about 6,000 registered Republicans, with ~4,500 unaffiliated. Dems have kept rather quiet until now, what with that 2:1 disadvantage.

But those days are gone. Dems had big, loud, crowded floats in all of the recent town parades.

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Hickenlooper Upstages Cynthia Coffman on DACA Lawsuit

UPDATE: Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman picks a side–and it’s not the DREAMers:

“In Colorado, my office has the independent authority to take legal action on behalf of the state when I believe doing so is in the state’s best interest,” Coffman said in the statement. “In this case, I do not. Nor do I support the legal arguments in the Democrats’ lawsuit.”

In the choice between DREAMers and positioning herself for a GOP primary, Coffman chose the primary.

—–

Gov. John Hickenlooper and AG Cynthia Coffman.

As the Denver Post’s Jesse Paul reports, Gov. John Hickenlooper is taking action to challenge President Donald Trump’s decision to rescind the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, standing up for some 17,000 undocumented immigrants in Colorado who came to this country as children–and could face deportation if the high-stakes game of chicken over their fate in Washington doesn’t go well:

Colorado announced Wednesday that it plans to join more than a dozen other states in a lawsuit challenging President Donald Trump’s decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which protects young immigrants living in the U.S. illegally from deportation.

“President Trump’s decision to end the DACA program is outrageous and risks the futures of more than 17,000 Coloradans,” Gov. John Hickenlooper said in a statement. “Colorado benefits when (DACA recipients) have the opportunity to thrive in our communities and the only country they’ve ever known. These young people should not have to suffer because of our broken immigration system.”

Hickenlooper added that while the legal action is “no substitute for the sort of comprehensive immigration reform that can only come from Congress, it sends a necessary message that the rule of law and basic notions of fairness still matter in this country.”

Hickenlooper is taking this extraordinary action without support from Colorado’s Republican attorney general Cynthia Coffman, a prospective GOP gubernatorial candidate in 2018:

An outside attorney will act as a special attorney general and represent Colorado in the legal action, she said. The move requires Coffman’s consent because she is the only one who can file legal challenges on behalf of the state.

Coffman, a Republican, last week suggested she wouldn’t join the other state attorneys general in suing to block Trump from dismantling DACA, saying the immigration debate “belongs in Congress.”

So-called “DREAMer” students and young people, who are the most sympathy-inspiring class of undocumented immigrants being childhood arrivals in this country who in many cases know no other culture, are supported by a large majority of the public–either for a path to American citizenship, or at the very least legal permission to remain in the country. There are really not many people in America outright opposed to protecting DACA recipients in some form–but unfortunately for Cynthia Coffman, who is trying to figure out a path to the GOP nomination for governor of Colorado next year, a lot of those opponents are GOP primary voters.

And that, dear reader, is why Coffman is reluctant to go to bat for the DREAMers.

Get More Smarter on Friday (September 8)

In these times of escalating partisan rancor, it’s nice to know that we can all come together in a shared dislike of Tom Brady. 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.

 

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► Congress this morning gave final approval to a $15 billion disaster relief package in the wake of Hurricane Harvey…just as Hurricane Irma prepares to throttle Florida. President Trump is apparently quite excited that his show of “bipartisanship” this week has attracted so much positive media coverage. As NBC News reports:

Trump expressed that he was thrilled with the positive news coverage the debt limit deal had received, a senior Democratic aide told NBC News.

“The people of the United States want to see a coming together, at least to an extent. We’re different parties, we have different thoughts, different feelings, different ideas. But I think you’re coming to see a much stronger coming together,” Trump told reporters at the White House Thursday.

Earlier in the day he said he looks forward to working with both Republicans and Democrats.

You’re a good wittle President, aren’t you? Yes, you are! 

 

► Anyway, back to the hurricane news…As the New York Times reports, nearly the entire state of Florida is in danger from one of the strongest hurricanes ever recorded:

One of the most powerful Atlantic hurricanes ever recorded crescendoed over the Caribbean on Thursday, crumpling islands better known as beach paradises into half-habitable emergency zones and sideswiping Puerto Rico before churning north. It is expected to hit the Florida Keys and South Florida by Saturday night…

…Gov. Rick Scott of Florida urged extreme caution in the face of a powerful storm that could quickly change course. “Every Florida family must prepare to evacuate regardless of the coast you live on,” he said.

Hurricane Irma is the size of France — like, the entire country. Miami could take a near-direct hit by Sunday morning.

Meanwhile, a third potentially major hurricane, Jose, is right on the heels of Irma. And a major 8.1 magnitude earthquake was recorded off the southern coast of Mexico.

 

► Congressman Mike Coffman (R-Aurora) has already dropped his plans to push a discharge petition for a House vote on DACA. As The Hill reports:

Coffman said he made an agreement with Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) to hold off on gathering support for his discharge petition for the bill, which would extend protections under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program for three years.

Coffman filed the discharge petition on Tuesday, which would need 218 signatures to trigger a House floor vote. Discharge petitions are typically used by the House minority party to bring attention to legislation ignored by the majority-party leadership — but are rarely successful.

For a member of the House majority like Coffman to file a discharge petition was an exceedingly rare move.

If you were cynical about Coffman’s newfound commitment to DACA, well, go ahead and say, “I told you so.”

Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman — Mike Coffman’s former spouse — doesn’t want any part of the controversy surrounding President Trump’s decision to end the DACA program for children of undocumented immigrants. Elsewhere, a group of 11 Democratic Governors are urging Congress to take swift action to assist DREAMERS.

 

Get even more smarter after the jump…

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Ken Buck Preparing to Announce Run for Attorney General

Rep. Ken Buck (R) prepares to press the “Attorney General campaign” button.

Dominoes, prepare thy fall.

Congressman Ken Buck (R-Greeley) is apparently on the verge of making official his plan to run for Attorney General in 2018. From what we hear, a formal announcement is expected to happen in “days, not weeks.”

A few weeks ago we outlined the chaos that would result if current Attorney General Cynthia Coffman were to announce a run for Governor in 2018. Coffman has been hemming and hawing on that decision for some time, and Buck is apparently tired of waiting for her to make it official. It is important to note here that Buck does not plan on running against Coffman in a GOP Primary; many Republicans expect Coffman to run for Governor rather than re-election, so Buck is really just prodding her to get off of the metaphorical pot.

Buck has only been in Congress for two terms, first winning election in 2014 to fill the seat vacated by Cory Gardner’s ascension to the U.S. Senate. The former Weld County District Attorney would literally cut his salary in half if he is elected Attorney General, but Buck — who recently announced the death of the Republican Party — would apparently welcome the change because he’s generally miserable in Congress and isn’t getting anywhere in his efforts to drain the swamp.

There is no shortage of Republican candidates who would like their chance to be miserable in Congress. From what we hear, House Minority Leader Patrick Neville is already preparing as though he’ll be a candidate in a likely-crowded Republican Primary in CD-4. State Senator Jerry Sonnenberg and former state Senators Mark Scheffel, Tom Wiens and Scott Renfroe are also among the names to watch here.

Follow the Bouncing Ball if Coffman Runs for Governor

When a politician prepares to change jobs — either voluntarily or because of term limits — it can often create a ripple effect that extends several seats down the ballot in the next election. That’s exactly what may happen for Republicans if Attorney General Cynthia Coffman decides to run for Governor in 2018 instead of re-election.

If Coffman goes ahead with plans to seek the top job in the state, a decision that we hear is increasingly likely, it is widely presumed in Republican circles that Rep. Ken Buck — a former Weld County District Attorney — will leave his relatively-safe seat in Congress in order to run for Attorney General.

Should Buck leave CD-4 open for a new Representative, there will be no shortage of Republican suitors for the position. House Minority Leader Patrick Neville will almost certainly take a shot at Congress (remember, the boundaries of CD-4 creep south around Aurora to the Castle Rock area, which puts Neville’s state House seat in the district), but he won’t likely be alone in a Republican Primary. State Senator Jerry Sonnenberg and former state Senators Mark Scheffel, Tom Wiens and Scott Renfroe will all take a long look at running.  

In this scenario, openings would be created in HD-45 (Neville) and SD-1 (Sonnenberg) — both fairly safe GOP seats that would certainly draw plenty of interest among potential candidates looking to slide into a legislative seat.

We’ve been skeptical in this space about Cynthia Coffman’s chances at actually winning the Republican nomination for Governor, but the outcome of a potential Coffman campaign would do plenty to shake up Republican politics in Colorado no matter how well she performs as a candidate.

Phil Weiser Puts Down One Hell of a Marker in AG Race

Democratic Attorney General candidate Phil Weiser.

As Ernest Luning reports for the publication formerly known as the Colorado Statesman:

Democratic attorney general candidate Phil Weiser raised roughly $355,000 in the fundraising quarter that closed last week, his campaign announced Wednesday, setting a record for donations under Colorado’s current campaign finance laws. [Pols emphasis]

The former CU Law School dean and one-time Obama administration official said he plans to report more in contributions in a quarter than any other attorney general candidate has in a non-election year since the imposition of strict campaign finance limits on state races more than a decade ago…

…The highest reported quarterly haul by an attorney general candidate in a previous off year was the $69,394 raised by incumbent Republican Attorney General John Suthers in the second quarter of 2005. (Suthers had been appointed to the seat at the beginning of the year after its previous occupant, Democrat Ken Salazar, won a race for the U.S. Senate.)

We’ve written plenty of times in this space about the importance of early fundraising in shaping the perceptions of campaigns. Fundraising isn’t just about money; it is a good way to gauge the potential level of support for a campaign, particularly when the candidate is not well-known to the general voting public.

We don’t know how much money any of the other Democratic candidates for Attorney General raised in Q2, though it will be difficult to compare totals — to some degree — because none of the other Democrats had a full quarter in which to raise money (Joe Salazar, for example, couldn’t really raise money in earnest until after the legislative session ended in May). Weiser’s campaign has obviously thought about this, because they took pains in their announcement to note that Weiser didn’t formally declare for AG until May 11 (though we would presume Weiser had already paved the road for many of those checks).

Regardless of comparisons, Weiser’s impressive fundraising numbers are good news for Colorado Democrats in general.

Good News! June 23-30, 2017

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

This diary is about small victories, local heroes, sweet stories, random kindnesses, unexpected grace, cold justice served up on a hot plate. As always, your interpretation of what is “good news” is probably different than mine.

This week, it’s all about healthcare and the resistance to the BCRA Wealthcare bill.  We’ve come too far to give up now. Keep our eyes on the prize:  A public healthcare system like every other industrialized country has.

Healthcare, the ACA, and the Senate Wealthcare bill

The Senate Democrats fought hard to keep the BCRA, aka Trump’s Wealthcare bill, from being voted on without hearings or public input. It was good to see some Senate backbone on display.

Hawaii’s Maisie Hirono led  filibustering on the Senate floor.

Our own Senator Bennet spoke at length,  outlining what’s at stake in this health care bill.

But – we don’t know what Cory Gardner really thinks about the Senate healthcare bill he supposedly helped to draft. Right now, he looks to be in the “Yes on BCRA” camp, because he pretends that insurance costs will go down with the Senate bill.  However, Cowardly Cory will not give his constituents the courtesy of in-person meetings or town halls to discuss his position. Even when said constituents try really, really hard.

To keep the heat on, keep contacting

Senator Bennet: Contact Us

Senator Gardner: Contact Cory*

More good news about healthcare in Colorado: we get to keep all of our insurance brokers next year, said Colorado Insurance Commissioner Marguerite Salazar. No Colorado counties will be without an insurance provider, according to the Summit Daily News.

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