Gardner Wants Obamacare Replacement to Make Colorado Better, But No GOP Bill Does This

(“Undecided” for Gardner is another word for “Whatever Mitch wants” — Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) is a glorified page at this point in his career.

U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO) has told multiple reporters he’s undecided on the latest GOP bill to kill Obamacare, in part, as he told KOA radio this morning, because he wants to see “whether Colorado is better or worse” under the legislation.

But every analysis of the bill so far, like the one from the progressive Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, shows that Colorado will be worse off.

Gov. John Hickenlooper told reporters yesterday that the legislation would cost the state $800 million to $1 billion in federal health-care dollars.

And it’s widely predicted that millions of people would lose health insurance under the latest GOP bill, just as they would under previous Republican proposals that upend Medicaid, the state-federal health insurance program for children, elderly, disabled, and other poor people.

So it’s hard to know what information Gardner is waiting for.

In fact, when asked directly by Denver Post political reporter Mark Matthews what specific information he’s looking for, Gardner replied, “just additional information.”

Strangely, though, Gardner told KDMT’s Jimmy Sengenberger last month that the Cassidy-Graham bill would put the country in the “right direction” on health care and “could result in a 42 percent increase in funding for the state of Colorado.”

Gardner did not divulge where he got this information and a call to his office was not immediately returned today.

On KOA radio, Gardner said of the latest Obamacare replacement bill, “I hope it has bipartisan participation and support.”

It’s not clear why Gardner or anyone would express hope for the unreal outcome of bipartisan support, given the GOP’s seven-year partisan campaign to kill Obamacare. Could Gardner possibly be trying to score political points with rhetoric that’s completely divorced from reality?

Here are Gardner’s full comments from KOA, followed by his comments to The Post.


Michael Hancock Getting Ready Early for Third Term Campaign

Good politicians with strong political organizations understand that the best way to win an election is to prevent top opponents from ever entering the race.

Denver Mayor Michael Hancock won’t be up for re-election until May 2019, but he’s already working to clear the road for his third term. Hancock is holding a “reception” tonight with some very prominent names on the host list, including House Speaker Crisanta Duran, businessman Zee Ferrufino, former Denver Fire Chief Larry Trujillo, and former Interior Secretary Ken Salazar.

You’ll notice that most of the names on this list are those of well-known Latino politicos in the Denver area, which is certainly by design. A list of supporters like this will undoubtedly make any potential Latino candidates think twice about taking on the two-term incumbent Mayor of Denver. Sure, there is a lot that can happen between now and Spring 2019 that could change the dynamics of the next municipal elections in Denver, but the wise move for any incumbent is to get out in front of possible challengers as soon as possible.

Tonight’s event is not being billed as an official “kick-off” for Hancock’s third term, but the message it sends is unmistakable.

Coffman says Tancredo is “bored” and angry

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Tom Tancredo y Mike Coffman, hermanos por vida.

Former Republican Congressman Tom Tancredo is considering a run for governor because he’s “bored” and mad at Republicans for attacking him last time he ran.

That’s the opinion of U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman (R-CO), as explained in a radio interview yesterday.

“I think [Tancredo] misses the spotlight,” Coffman told KHOW guest host Krista Kafer Tuesday. “He really thrives on the attention. And I think he’s bored. I mean, this is cheap entertainment for him. I think it will be awfully hard on the Republican Party.”

Harsh stuff, but it didn’t seem to faze Tank, who joked, “If that’s the best he can come up with, I’ve got nothing to worry about from Mike Coffman.”

“If Mike Coffman was living up to the promises he made me before he was elected, and the people who are running for governor would say the things I believe need to be said, I wouldn’t be thinking about running,” Tancredo told me.

“The idea that I’m bored, well, maybe it’s because he doesn’t have grandchildren, and he doesn’t know how much time they take up with baseball games,” said Tancredo. “It’s constant. Baseball, hockey and basketball. Believe me, I’m not bored.”

A Tancredo’s campaign could “give us a Democratic governor, and I don’t think [Tancredo] cares,” said Coffman on the radio.

If that’s true, Coffman must think a lot of Republicans don’t care or are deluding themselve, because Coffman believes Tancredo can win the GOP gubernatorial primary next year.

Coffman, who once called Tancredo his hero, said on air that if Tancredo can “bring a certain element out” to vote in the crowded Republican primary, Tancredo “may just do it.”

“A certain element? I don’t doubt that to him, that means the troglodytes,” Tancredo laughed in response, adding that he agrees he can win the GOP primary, especially in a crowded field, due to the loyalty of his voters. And in the general, he thinks he’d get serious support from unaffiliated voters.

On the radio, Coffman called it “just bizarre” that Tancredo “came back to register as a Republican so he could run for Governor.”


Trump Delivers…Interesting Speech to U.N.

A different Rocketman

President Trump delivered his first speech to the United Nations this morning. It went about as well as you might expect. As Politico reports:

President Donald Trump condemned authoritarian regimes in harsh and Trumpian terms during his first United Nations speech, threatening to “totally destroy” North Korea, lamenting Iran’s “pursuit of death and destruction,” and warning that major portions of the world are “going to hell.”

The president spoke before the U.N. General Assembly on Tuesday, delivering what a senior administration official described beforehand as a “deeply philosophical address” promoting his vision of “principled realism.”…

…Trump escalated his rhetoric toward the saber-rattling Kim Jong Un regime beyond his prior “fire and fury” warning, deploying his “Rocket Man” nickname as he told UNGA “no one has shown more contempt for other nations and for the well-being of their own people than the depraved regime in North Korea.”

“No nation on Earth has an interest in seeing this band of criminals arm itself with nuclear weapons and missiles,” Trump said.The United States has great strength and patience, but if it is forced to defend itself or its allies, we will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea. Rocket Man is on a suicide mission for himself and for his regime.”

Trump’s inflammatory rhetoric seems to match his militaristic views of late; on Monday, as the New York Times reported, Trump said that he likes the idea of holding a “really great parade to show our military strength.”

Really great.

What you can do to fight back this week (September 18)

“Zombie Trumpcare” is back.

After trying and failing miserably to come up with a replacement for the Affordable Care Act that doesn’t do more harm than good, Republicans in the U.S. Senate are back with what’s being described as a “last ditch effort” to repeal Obamacare and replace it with a plan that would insure millions fewer Americans just to give tax breaks to the rich.

We’ve been through this before. We know how it’s likely to end. But we have to take every attempt by the far right to take away health coverage from millions of people with the deadly seriousness it deserves. In Colorado, there was a time when we thought we could trust the promises of Sen. Cory Gardner to protect Medicaid patients, and to defend Colorado’s successful insurance marketplace that has helped cut the uninsured population in our state by half. Now we know, based on his votes, that Gardner will vote for any health care repeal bill Republican leaders order him to.

Priority #1 this week: stop the repeal of the Affordable Care Act, yet again. The targets haven’t changed: here in Colorado, you need to call Call Rep. Mike Coffman at 202-225-7882, Rep. Scott Tipton at 202-225-4761, and Sen. Cory Gardner at 202-224-5941, and let them know that this latest repeal proposal is still a non-starter.

Then, join Colorado elected officials and health care policy experts TOMORROW for an important press conference to discuss why this latest repeal effort is wrong:

What: Press Conference to Rally for Healthcare
When: Tuesday, September 19, 2017, 11:00 am
Where: Our Savior’s Lutheran Church, 915 E. 9th Ave., Denver

Thanks for your quick response once again. Here are more ways to fight back against the far right for the week of September 18th:

Public Hearing: Volkswagen Diesel Emissions Settlement

A few years ago, Volkswagen (VW) was found guilty of falsifying their emissions detection instruments and selling cars that emitted more pollutants than we were led to believe. As part of the settlement, Colorado will receive $68.7 million to reduce emissions that will offset the excess air pollution from these vehicles. The Colorado Dept. of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) just released their draft plan for how they propose to spend the funds from the settlement. They are holding a public hearing on September 18th and want our input about their plan!

Where: CDOT HQ Auditorium, 4201 E. Arkansas Ave. Denver
When: Monday, September 18 at 2:00pm

Click here to RSVP.

SRL Film Night “Before the Flood”

Join the Sierra Club “Ready for 100” campaign and Sustainable Resilient Longmont at Still Cellars, a distillery and arthouse. (1115 Colorado Ave. Longmont, CO) on Monday, September 18th for a FREE showing of critically acclaimed climate change documentary “Before the Flood,” which features Leonardo DiCaprio on a journey to five continents and the Arctic to witness climate change firsthand.

Where: Still Cellars, 1115 Colorado Ave, Ste C, Longmont
When: Monday, September 18 at 6:00pm

Click here to RSVP.

Energy and Environmental Initiative Organizational Meeting

Let’s Organize!! This meeting will be to elect our officers and adopt the Iniative’s by-laws as required by the Colorado Democratic Party. There’s alot going on in Colorado with Energy and Environmental relations. Let’s take some time to outline a positive step forward in how this initiative can share information, take effective actons to help in areas of concern, including talking with our candidates and elected to find out where they stand with respects to that relationship.

Where: 8485 S Valley Hwy Rd, Englewood
When: Monday, September 18 at 6:00pm

Click here to RSVP.

Boulder CAN and Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition Immigration 101: Part 2 (each session is free standing)

This second Immigration 101 workshop (2 of 3 – though each session is free standing, no need to have come to the previous one!), will feature a discussion with immigration lawyers, Nicole and Yvan Murad. The workshop is designed to help us understand more about the current immigration system, be clear on the challenges and struggles the immigrant community faces, be tuned into and understand what new Executive Orders/legistlation mean, and become ready to respond with compassion. There will be discussion around the concept of “Sanctuary” as well.

Where: First Congregational Church UCC Boulder, 1128 Pine St, Boulder
When: Monday, September 18 at 7:00pm

Click here to RSVP.

Project Homeless Connect 2017

Project Homeless Connect is a free resource fair for individuals and families experiencing homelessness or who are at-risk of becoming homeless. During this one-day event, clients are able to access an array of services ranging from ID services, housing services, resume workshops, clothing banks, vision check and healthcare to veterans services, childcare, petcare and much more. We expect to see 1,000 clients at this year’s event and need nearly as many volunteers to make the day a success. Please join us on September 19 as we help our most vulnerable population access the resources they need to become self-sufficient for themselves and their families.

Where: Colorado Convention Center, 700 14th St, Denver
When: Tuesday, September 19 at 9:00am

Click here to RSVP.

Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition Free DACA Renewal Clinic – Boulder

The Trump administration ended the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program on September 5, 2017. If your DACA expires before March 5, 2018, you MUST apply to renew your DACA within the next thirty days. We cannot emphasize enough how much time is of the essence here. These renewals will be free and completely confidential. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services does require that each DACA applicant pay $495 to renew their DACA; if you can bring a check or money order with you for that amount, please do so. If you do NOT have the $495 for the renewal fee, there is a possibility that we will have some funds available to cover the amount, but it is not guaranteed.

Where: University of Colorado Law School, Wolf Law Building, 2450 Kittredge Loop Road, Boulder
When: Wednesday, September 20 at 10:00am

Click here to RSVP.

Blue Print Denver Community Workshop (NW)

1 of 5 workshops this September for Denverights’ Blueprint Denver Plan. These workshops are focusing on mapping out the city, identifying the areas of growth and reviewing the feedback with the community that we’ve received thus far.

Where: Scheitler Recreation Center, 5031 W 46th Ave, Denver
When: Wednesday, September 20 at 5:30pm

Click here to RSVP.

9to5 Colorado Denver Renter’s Week Action

We will be in solidarity with Denver Meadows Mobile Home Park. This park is set to close in July of 2018 and residents want and have access to purchasing the park but the owner refuses to sell to them. Residents have been organizing and working hard for the past year. About 80 families will be displaced and face a serious threat to end up homeless.

Where: 2075 Potomac St, Aurora
When: Thursday, September 21 at 3:30pm

Click here to RSVP.

Warm Cookies of the Revolution Case Studies: The Year 1939

Come enjoy locally made drinks and eat yummy food while we use specific case studies from history as a jumping off point to explore the impact on politics, fashion, economics, science, culture, etc…and how it relates to our civic life today.

Where: McNichols Building, 144 W Colfax Ave, Denver
When: Thursday, September 21 at 6:00pm

Click here to RSVP.

APS School Board Town Hall

This year 4 seats on the Aurora Public Schools board of education are up for election. Come meet the candidates who are running to help shape education policy for APS and ask questions. All candidates, regardless of party, have been invited to participate.

Where: Community College of Aurora, 16000 E Centretech Pkwy, Aurora
When: Thursday, September 21 at 7:00pm

Click here to RSVP.

Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition Free DACA Renewal Clinic – Ft. Collins

The Trump administration ended the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program on September 5, 2017. If your DACA expires before March 5, 2018, you MUST apply to renew your DACA within the next thirty days. We cannot emphasize enough how much time is of the essence here. These renewals will be free and completely confidential. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services does require that each DACA applicant pay $495 to renew their DACA; if you can bring a check or money order with you for that amount, please do so. If you do NOT have the $495 for the renewal fee, there is a possibility that we will have some funds available to cover the amount, but it is not guaranteed.

Where: Colorado State University, 900 Oval Dr, Fort Collins
When: Friday, September 22 at 10:00am and Saturday, September 23 at 10:00am

Click here to RSVP for Friday.
Click here to RSVP for Saturday.

Rally for Healthcare – NO on Graham-Cassidy

The current healthcare bill, known as “Graham-Cassidy,” was written by members of the Senate GOP and incorporates no bipartisan effort, and is planned to go to a vote in under two weeks. There are currently no scheduled hearings, and no open debate. And yet, just last week in his town hall, Senator Gardner told Coloradans: “I hope people learn that [the healthcare debate] needs to be open.” Coloradans will gather on Friday outside Senator Gardner’s Denver office to hold the senator to his word and demand he stop this bill from entering the Senate floor until normal process (hearings, debate, true bipartisan effort) are restored. We demand that Senator Gardner stand by the words he uttered just one week ago, and not allow a bill to be forced through the senate that does not meet his own stated standards of transparency.

Where: 721 19th St, Denver
When: Friday, September 22 at 11:00am

Click here to RSVP.

Queer Invasion

Queer Invasion is a queer pop-up party in a non-queer space just like Gay Guerilla Group! It’s not a protest, just a fun queer takeover in a novel location. This tradition has been successful all over the country, and it’s time to bring it to Denver. Join the community and make some new friends while surprising some regulars!

Where: LoDo District, Denver
When: Friday, September 22 at 8:00pm

Click here to RSVP.

Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition Free DACA Renewal Clinic at DU – Denver

The Trump administration ended the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program on September 5, 2017. If your DACA expires before March 5, 2018, you MUST apply to renew your DACA within the next thirty days. We cannot emphasize enough how much time is of the essence here. These renewals will be free and completely confidential. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services does require that each DACA applicant pay $495 to renew their DACA; if you can bring a check or money order with you for that amount, please do so. If you do NOT have the $495 for the renewal fee, there is a possibility that we will have some funds available to cover the amount, but it is not guaranteed.

Where: Josef Korbel School of International Studies, 2201 S Gaylord St, Denver
When: Saturday, September 23 at 2:00pm

Click here to RSVP.

Thanks as always for everything you have done and will do to fight off the far right: as many times as it takes. This isn’t the first time we’ve had to fight back on short notice to protect last week’s victory, and it won’t be the last. But with your help, we’ll be there every time. We’ll outlast them, and then we’ll win this country back.

A Denver Post Editor Disputes GOP Gubernatorial Candidate’s Claim that Post Has Decided Not to Endorse Polis

(Mitt Romney’s Nephew jumps the gun – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

At a Sept. 9 campaign stop in Grand Junction, GOP gubernatorial candidate Doug Robinson told the crowd that the “editor” of The Denver Post informed him that U.S. Rep Jared Polis (D-CO) is “too left” for Colorado, and that the unnamed editor “can’t see [The Post] endorsing” Polis.

“This is an interesting story,” said Robinson told supporters at the meet-and-greet event. “When I announced my candidacy, the editor of The Denver Post called me. I was like, ‘Really?’ [laughter]. You know what I mean? Because they have endorsed Democrats for generations. [crowd: “Oh Yeah!”] You know what I mean? And he said, ‘Don’t write us off.’ He says, ‘We are going to endorse a candidate. And if it’s Jared Polis, I can’t see us endorsing him. He’s too left.’ [crowd: “Wow! Ohooo”]. ‘Too far out for Colorado.’ He says, ‘He may be too far out for Colorado.'”

That’s an “interesting story,” to say the least.

Asked about it Friday, Denver Post editorial Page editor Chuck Plunkett said via email that no one on The Denver Post’s editorial board, which has the job of making endorsements for the newspaper, spoke with Robinson about Polis in April, when Robinson claimed the call took place, and that The Post has “not reached any conclusions about endorsements in any of the races.”

Robinson had a phone conversation with the Chair of The Post, Dean Singleton, a few days before Robinson entered the gubernatorial race, but Singleton did not talk to Robinson about Polis at all, according to Plunkett.


Get More Smarter on Monday (September 18)

A lot of stuff happened in the political world over the weekend; let’s get you caught up. 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.



► Senate Republicans are making a last effort at repealing Obamacare before the September 30th deadline to move the legislation under budget reconciliation. But as the Washington Post reports, the GOP still hasn’t solved its biggest issue:

Senators pushing a last-ditch Obamacare repeal effort this week are up against the same old problem: math.

This small group of Republicans — led by Louisiana Sen. Bill Cassidy and South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham — appear convinced they can rework the equation to secure  that ever-elusive 50th vote for their measure, finally passing a bill overhauling the Affordable Care Act with a tiebreaking vote from Vice President Pence and moving closer to their goal of repealing and replacing President Barack Obama’s health-care law.

There will be a lot of moving parts to watch this week. Republicans have asked the Congressional Budget Office to rush a score of the Graham-Cassidy bill, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-Ky.) office confirmed yesterday. McConnell plans to take the temperature of his leadership team and his entire conference over the next few days. They have only two weeks left to scrape together enough support, since the budget reconciliation bill they’re using expires at the end of the month.

But despite all the noise being generated on Capitol Hill, Cassidy and Co. still appear to be shy of the vote total they’d need to succeed. Cassidy says he’s certain they have 48 or 49 Republican votes for his bill. But getting that final, 50th vote is the crucial — and the hardest — part.


► Colorado Republican lawmakers have been making plenty of noise lately in response to news that Gov. John Hickenlooper is calling a special legislative session for October 2. The legislature needs to fix an unintended problem related to SB-267 (Hospital Provider Fee) that is costing organizations such as RTD and the Scientific and Cultural Facilities District (i.e., the Denver Zoo and Museum of Natural History) millions of dollars in tax revenue.

Republicans have been all over the place on their messaging but have generally expressed manufactured outrage at the idea of a brief special session. As Colorado Pols reported late Friday, however, GOP lawmakers already knew about this problem and had even filed draft legislation to fix the error — which pretty well destroys any argument that the special session isn’t necessary.


► Corey Hutchins does a nice job explaining the redistricting/reapportionment controversy for the Colorado Independent.


Get even more smarter after the jump…


Colorado Week in Review: 9/15/17

Get More Smarter on Friday (September 15)

There are 100 shopping days until Christmas. 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.



► We’re going back…to the legislature. As Brian Eason reports for the Denver Post:

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper on Thursday called lawmakers back to the state Capitol to fix a bill-drafting error that has been costing a number of Denver-based institutions hundreds of thousands of dollars a month in marijuana revenue.

The special session set to start Oct. 2 will be the first in five years for Hickenlooper and the Colorado General Assembly, an extraordinary step for a governor who has typically deferred to lawmakers on legislative matters during his two terms in office.

“After hearing about the potential impact on citizens around the state, it is clear that this problem is best solved as soon as possible,” Hickenlooper said in a statement announcing his executive order, capping a day of speculation about his plans.

The October 2 special session is expected to be a fairly quick affair to address a drafting error related to SB-267 (Hospital Provider Fee). As part of SB-267, legislators approved a change to the collection of recreational pot taxes that is inadvertently costing organizations such as RTD and the Scientific and Cultural Facilities District (i.e., the Denver Zoo and Museum of Natural History) millions of dollars in tax revenue.

Colorado Republicans, including the Koch-funded group Americans for Prosperity, are having trouble getting their message straight on the special session announcement.


► Congressional Democratic leaders seem to have figured out how to work with President Trump, crafting another big deal on DACA just a week or so after working with Trump on a debt ceiling/disaster relief proposal. The New York Times examines what happened during that White House dinner on Wednesday night:

Senator Chuck Schumer had just finished outlining a new Democratic immigration proposal over a working dinner at the White House on Wednesday night when President Trump stopped him with a simple question: What is in it for me?

Mr. Schumer, the schmoozy Senate minority leader, responded with a litany of what he saw as Mr. Trump’s presidential sins, according to two people with direct knowledge of the interaction. Those included pulling out of the Paris climate accord and failing to unequivocally denounce anti-Semitism and racism in the wake of the Charlottesville violence.

The time had come, Mr. Schumer declared as Nancy Pelosi, the top House Democrat, nodded in agreement, for the president to prove himself to Democrats if he wanted to do any big deals.

Mr. Trump has been known to freeze out or tongue-lash critics for far less. Instead, to the surprise of people in the room, he responded positively, if vaguely, and laughed.

Congressman Mike Coffman (R-Aurora) sounds pretty optimistic about the deal Trump reached with Democrats. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, meanwhile, is no doubt much less enthusiastic.


► Summer isn’t officially over until next week, but it snowed in the mountains.


Get even more smarter after the jump…


Kudos to Dan Thurlow

Kudos to Dan Thurlow. This evening he hosted a Town Hall to discuss three things, TABOR, the Gallagher Amendment, and Severance taxes. He brought in a “think tank” (his words, not theirs) that specializes in analyzing and thinking about tax and fee data in the context of policies in Colorado. The presentation was excellent. Considering myself a policy wonk, even I learned a few things about Gallagher that I hadn’t previously known. I thought that one important point about severance taxes was ignored (surrounding states get way more revenue from the removal of minerals,) but nothing was sugar-coated or meant to convince people that TABOR, Gallagher, and Severance taxes are untouchable. Each policy has its unique sets of unintended consequences, and all need attention. The fact that a Republican is open to finding fixes, and is willing to stand up in a room filled with more Democrats than Republicans is pretty unique in politicians of either party these days. Thank you, Dan.

Trump Makes Another Big Deal with Democrats

President Trump keeps tipping his hand.

In the parlance of poker, you might also say that Congressional Democrats have “spotted his tell.”

Politico reports on the framework of a new immigration plan for DREAMERs negotiated by Trump and Democratic leadership:

President Donald Trump and Democratic congressional leaders reached a tentative agreement Wednesday night to provide a pathway to citizenship for young immigrants known as Dreamers — but after a conservative backlash, the president and his aides sent conflicting signals about how firm the agreement was.

After a meeting with Trump at the White House on Wednesday night, Democratic leaders Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi said they had come to terms with Trump on a plan that would provide protection for Dreamers in exchange for beefed-up border security — but, notably, no additional funding for a border wall.

“We all agreed on a framework: Pass DACA protections and additional security measures, excluding the wall. We agreed that the president would support enshrining the DACA protections into law,” Schumer (D-N.Y.) said on the Senate floor Thursday.

The news triggered an outcry from the right, which accused Trump of abandoning his tough-on-immigration campaign stance. So Trump and his aides rebutted Democrats’ claims that an agreement had been struck — while at the same time acknowledging the outlines of a deal.

One week after negotiating a debt limit/disaster relief formula with Trump, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi did it again — this time on a legislative framework for DACA protections. House Speaker Paul Ryan says that there is no such deal, but that’s not the narrative coming out of the White House.

Trump supporters are absolutely furious that he would even shake hands with a Democrat, but those critics are missing something if they are just blindly painting Trump as a partisan traitor. Even though they are in the majority, Congressional Republicans haven’t been able to come to any agreement with Trump on much of anything. Republicans seem to be struggling to understand the new political reality of Washington D.C. and the new guy in the White House.

Meanwhile, Democrats might have cracked the code…

We all know that President Trump fancies himself to be a master negotiator, in large part because he tells us whenever he gets a chance. Being adept at negotiating deals is a fundamental part of Trump’s persona — and not just the act he displays in public. Trump desperately wants to show that he can “win” at being President, and he doesn’t really care who he has to work with in order to make that happen [cough, Russia, cough].

Schumer and Pelosi have smartly figured out that Trump wants to get to “yes” as quickly as possible — that he won’t get hung up on policy details at the risk of losing the sale. Trump also loves to get attaboys in the press, as he did earlier this month on the debt limit bill, and it’s hard to generate praise when nothing is getting accomplished in general.

Republicans could follow this same blueprint for dealing with Trump, but they can’t even come to an agreement amongst themselves.

Stapleton Put On Notice for Sketchy Fundraising Tactics

Walker Stapleton

Sometime in early October, state Treasurer Walker Stapleton is expected to announce that he will seek the Republican nomination for Governor in 2018. Even though he’s not yet a candidate for the top job in the state, Stapleton is already facing legal questions about an independent expenditure committee that is raising money ostensibly on his behalf.

As Mark Matthews reports for the Denver Post:

The Democratic Governors Association is threatening to file a complaint with the Colorado Secretary of State against Republican Walker Stapleton over his ties to a campaign group that is raising money to support his expected bid for governor.

The DGA said Stapleton may have run afoul of state election law by headlining an Aug. 21 fundraiser for the group, an independent expenditure committee known as Better Colorado Now, whose primary purpose is to get Stapleton elected.

Colorado prohibits its candidates from coordinating with these committees — which can raise and spend an unlimited amount of money. The DGA vowed to file a complaint with the Colorado secretary of state against Stapleton, the committee and its donors if Better Colorado Now spent any money to back his candidacy.

Stapleton is not the only 2018 hopeful who will benefit from an independent expenditure committee (IEC), but he’s the only one pushing the legal line by being involved with the fundraising efforts. Stapleton’s name appeared as a “special guest” on the invitation for the Aug. 21 fundraiser for an IEC called “Better Colorado Now,” which lists as its official purpose “to oppose Democrat candidates for Governor” but is almost certainly going to be a vehicle meant to benefit Stapleton’s gubernatorial bid.

As we wrote last month, Stapleton may be legally permitted to help raise money for the IEC so long as he isn’t an official candidate for Governor — which is a big reason why he hasn’t already formally announced his candidacy. That could change once the lawyers get involved here, but the legality of this move won’t alter the awful perception for Stapleton. As Republican gubernatorial candidate Victor Mitchell told the Grand Junction Sentinel:

“Stapleton has been running for four years. He’s been doing unethical fundraising that’s basically just down and out wrong. He’s giving political speeches wherever he goes. He’s raising unlimited sums. It’s everything that’s wrong with our political discourse today.”

“Better Colorado Now” had raised about $121,000 as of June 30, and that figure has certainly grown since then. We’ll find out in a few months whether the total amount raised by this IEC is enough to override the negative news it has generated for Stapleton.

Buck Now Says He’s “Very Unlikely” to Run for Attorney General

(So much for that? – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

After first mulling a run for Colorado attorney general if current AG Cynthia Coffman decided to enter the gubernatorial race–and then allegedly being on the verge of diving into the race and creating chaos–U.S. Rep. Ken Buck (R-CO) is now saying it’s “very unlikely” he’d run for state AG.

Asked by KHOW 630-AM’s Ross Kaminsky whether he’d run for the office if Coffman ran for governor, Buck said, “Probably a month ago I would have said yes. Right now, I think it’s very unlikely that I do anything other than stay focused on running for the 4th Congressional and doing the job that I enjoy doing here in DC.”

“I think it’s getting late in the game to put a campaign together for governor or for attorney general,and therefore I am happy doing what I am doing,” Buck continued.

Buck’s comment about it being late to start a gubernatorial campaign may come as news to Colorado Treasurer Walker Stapleton and Coffman, both of whom are still rumored to be considering a run. Former GOP Congressman Tom Tancredo may still jump in, he’s said.

Buck grabbed headlines last month for stating, in a Denver Post op-ed, that the Republican Party is “dead.”

This pessimistic view fueled rumors that Buck would jump at the chance to run for Colorado attorney general.

But after penning the op-ed, Buck said on a Denver radio show:

“I am very happy where I am,” Buck told KNUS’ Dan Caplis. “And I am really feeling emboldened, in a lot of ways, about things – having a voice that can try to change the direction of policy in DC. And so I’m very thankful for that.”

But in the same radio interview, Buck also said that the GOP, as a “political party, that is fighting for the conservative beliefs that that you and I share – and that many others share – the Party is dead.”

Buck lost a close U.S. Senate race in Colorado in 2010 to Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet.

Strange Case in Lakewood City Council Race

Michael Bieda

We haven’t talked much about local municipal races this year, in part because there hasn’t been a lot of terribly interesting news to discuss. Most city council races are fairly quiet affairs that don’t generate much enthusiasm — or many voters, for that matter.

But there’s a city council battle in Lakewood that is worth watching because of the unusual circumstances surrounding one of the candidates seeking to fill an open seat in Ward 3, (East Lakewood). Michael Bieda is a former State District Court Judge who lost his job in the 1994 election when voters elected NOT to retain him for another term.

If you’re not familiar with the process of retaining judges, let’s just put it this way: You’d have a better chance of finding someone to buy your solar eclipse glasses than you would of being ousted as a judge. Check out these statistics from the Colorado Office of Judicial Performance Evaluation:

Colorado voters elected to retain 1,312 of the 1,323 (99.2%) judicial officers standing for retention since 1990. [Pols emphasis] As shown in Table B, Colorado voters retained 99.7% of the judges receiving retain recommendations, 65% of those receiving do not retain recommendations, and retained all judicial officers where commissions offered no opinion.

Those are staggering numbers. Only 11 sitting judges have been kicked off the bench by voters in the last 27 years. Bieda is among those ignominious 11, and it didn’t take long for people to sour on him; Bieda was appointed to a District Judgeship in 1992 and was off the bench two years later. Bieda lost his job by 1,870 votes out of 126,216 votes cast in 1994.

Bieda served as a District Judge in the 18th Judicial District (Arapahoe County), where he took part in several notable cases, including the trial of Nathan Dunlap (the Chuck E. Cheese murderer). Bieda made enough waves behind the bench that he received a “Do Not Retain” recommendation from the Office of Judicial Performance prior to the 1994 election. Here’s what they said:

The Commission reviewed surveys and personally interviewed representatives from the criminal justice system. Most responses indicated that Judge Bieda has a poor courtroom demeanor, is arrogant, and has angry outbursts toward lawyers and parties. Judge Bieda received low ratings in his sensitivity toward witnesses and jurors. There are also responses that indicate that Judge Bieda is “unfair” in his treatment of women in his courtroom. The Commission is concerned that Judge Bieda’s hostile courtroom behavior has not improved over time nor has it changed with his transfer from the Domestic Division to the Criminal Division. Responses indicate that Judge Bieda has demonstrated an unwillingness to become proficient in his management of his criminal docket, and the handling of criminal cases. An additional concern to the Commission is the number of complaints alleging that Judge Bieda appears unprepared in his handling of criminal matters.

Bieda does address this issue on his campaign website, which you can read in full here. He says that he was targeted by attorneys who were upset that he didn’t let them charge more for their services, or something:

While sitting as judge, I created a pilot project to make the divorce forms with instructions easily available to those who did not want to hire a lawyer. This had never been done before. This project was so successful that the State Judicial Department adopted it and expanded it into the forms available today statewide through the state court system.

As you might expect, I was not popular with everyone, especially the domestic bar association. Because I helped people with the forms project, and because I insisted that the lawyers be prepared and efficient in their presentations, they were not able to charge their clients the outrageous fees they had been used to. Some of them organized a campaign against me when I came up for the election.

Because city council races are usually low-information, low-turnout affairs, it’s hard to gauge how much Bieda’s past will hurt his chances against opponent Michael Gifford. But getting kicked off the bench seems like a pretty tough negative for anyone to overcome.

Get More Smarter on Wednesday (September 13)

Go away, (Hurricane) Jose. 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.



► Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) is introducing a “Medicare for All” healthcare plan today with significant support from well-known Senate Democrats. As the Washington Post reports:

Sanders’s bill, the Medicare for All Act of 2017, has no chance of passage in a Republican-run Congress. But after months of behind-the-scenes meetings and a public pressure campaign, the bill is already backed by most of the senators seen as likely 2020 Democratic candidates — if not by most senators facing tough reelection battles in 2018.

The bill would revolutionize America’s health-care system, replacing it with a public system that would be paid for by higher taxes. Everything from emergency surgery to prescription drugs, from mental health to eye care, would be covered, with no co-payments. Americans younger than 18 would immediately obtain “universal Medicare cards,” while Americans not currently eligible for Medicare would be phased into the program over four years. Employer-provided health care would be replaced, with the employers paying higher taxes but no longer on the hook for insurance.

Private insurers would remain, with fewer customers, to pay for elective treatments such as cosmetic surgery — a system similar to that in Australia, which President Trump has praised for having a “much better” insurance regimen than the United States.

Republicans will immediately point to projections showing big tax increases under such a plan, but Americans might actually end up saving money in this scenario because of the reduction or elimination of copays, premiums, and deductibles.

On Tuesday, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Cary Kennedy announced her support for a “Medicaid for All” proposal in Colorado.


► Jefferson County Republicans are mad as hell (at Republicans) and they’re not above issuing toothless threats to prove it! As Ernest Luning writes for the publication formerly known as the Colorado Statesman:

The Jefferson County Republican Party is demanding Congress immediately repeal the Affordable Care Act or, if it can’t, to elect new congressional leadership.

A strongly worded resolution adopted unanimously by the county party’s executive committee Monday night maintains that the failure of congressional Republicans to overturn the sweeping health care legislation known as Obamacare “has caused great consternation and angst among registered Republicans in Jefferson County” and put GOP candidates “in great election peril.”

The county party is giving Congress until Nov. 1 to “repeal the abominable legislation,” but if Republicans “fail to meet our demand … and continue in their deceit of the voters,” the Jefferson County GOP want different Republicans in charge of the House and Senate…

…“[I]t is imperative that we differentiate ourselves from the National GOP,” the county party wrote on Facebook Tuesday. “Otherwise, our local and state candidates will be painted with the same brush as the GOP in Washington. Those in Washington are not doing what they promised, and we intend to hold their feet to the fire.”

The irony is strong with this one. By unanimously demanding that Congress immediately repeal Obamacare, the Jefferson County Republican Party has painted every one of its 2018 candidates into a tight little corner.


► Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos is in Colorado today touring schools, and will finish her visit with a visit to the Air Force Academy this afternoon.


Get even more smarter after the jump…