A Few Words on the “Business Community’s” False Friendship

caci_1xFor the last two sessions of the Colorado legislature, the partisan battle over the state’s “Hospital Provider Fee” has been a major flashpoint. Passed in 2009 during a budget shortfall, the fee was negotiated with Colorado hospitals in order to obtain federal matching funds under Medicaid to expand health coverage, and reduce cost shifting in emergency rooms for unreimbursed services.

But naturally, anything involving the words “fee” and “health care” falls into a meat grinder of spin from the conservative right who lambasted the provider fee as a “bed tax” on hospital stays. When state revenues began to recover, the “fee” collected in hospitals started running into the revenue limits under TABOR that would force the state to refund money that otherwise could go to schools and roads. Removing the fee from the TABOR limits would be a relatively easy statutory fix in the legislature.

The only problem being that Republicans won control of the state Senate in 2014.

Even though traditionally Republican interests in the business community lined up in a big way for the budgetary fix, conservative hardliners and the Koch-funded pressure group Americans for Prosperity locked down and the fee died in a Senate committee, despite bipartisan support in the state House. Senate President Bill Cadman went so far as to publicly thank Americans for Prosperity in the middle of the budget fight.

But as the Denver Business Journal’s Ed Sealover reports, the business community who supported the hospital provider fee fix are still backing the Republicans who shafted them:

That’s why some Democrats and liberal-leaning organizations were surprised when the Senate Majority Fund — which has gotten much of its $2.7 million in contributions from business groups — put out mailers blasting Democrats who have supported that effort as wanting to subvert TABOR. And Democrats who tout themselves as being pro-business — such as former state Sen. Rachel Zenzinger, who is in a tight race to reclaim her old Arvada-area seat from Republican Sen. Laura Woods — have touted that they will back any similar bills in 2017 to help out roads and schools…

Just since Oct. 17, the Senate Majority Fund has raised more than $372,000, including contributions of $70,000 from Colorado Concern and $3,500 from the political action committee of the Colorado Hospital Association — groups that have supported the hospital-fee reclassification. And it is spending money to help candidates Woods and state Rep. Kevin Priola, who is seeking an open Democratic-held Senate seat, even though both have said they want to find ways other than the hospital-provider fee bill to get money to roads.

But Furman said there is much more at stake in this election than one particular funding bill. And that’s why Republican control of the Senate is important even to groups who disagree with the GOP on that issue. [Pols emphasis]

Senate President Bill Cadman (R).

Senate President Bill Cadman (R).

The admission from the Colorado Association of Commerce and Industry’s (CACI) Loren Furman to Ed Sealover is a remarkable moment of candor in the political world. For all the “intense pressure” Bill Cadman was said to experience from his friends in the business community to see reason on the hospital provider fee fix, there is no sign of it where it would matter most. For lobbyists who pride themselves on their ability to whip support for tough votes, Republicans have proof now that they can always call their bluff. As for Democrats, why should they care the next time the business groups want something?

That’s the takeaway lesson for future legislatures–and it won’t help CACI get their agenda passed.

Assuming that’s even what matters to them.

Get More Smarter on Monday (November 7)

MoreSmarterLogo-ElectionYou’re not early today; you just forgot to set your clock back for the end of Daylight Savings. It’s time to Get More Smarter with Colorado Pols. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of a visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show.

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

DO NOT MAIL YOUR BALLOT! If you still have a ballot sitting on your kitchen table or buried in your briefcase, dust that sucker off and drop it off at a ballot collection site in your county; ballots must be received by your county clerk by 7:00 pm on Tuesday, so you don’t have time to mail it anymore. Check JustVoteColorado.org for more information on where to take your ballot or to find your nearest polling location. If you haven’t submitted your ballot or just can’t find it, you can still vote in person.

 

► It took nearly the entire early ballot period, but Republicans finally caught up to Democrats in early voting returns. Historically-speaking, Republicans in Colorado have always held early voting leads while more Democrats traditionally hold their ballots to vote on Election Day. Longtime Colorado political reporter Ernest Luning puts the returns in perspective:


As you can see, Republicans now have a 7,000-vote lead over Democrats in early voting, which is a far cry from the 35,000-vote lead they held at this point in 2012.

 

► Democrat Hillary Clinton his putting the final touches on her Presidential campaign as the FBI makes another weird announcement. From Politico:

Pressing to lock in her electoral advantage in the final hours of the 2016 campaign, Hillary Clinton will summon the collective firepower of the last two Democratic presidents on Monday while Donald Trump scrambles furiously across state lines in a last-ditch bid to scale the blue wall of support she has built.

In a shock announcement only 40 hours before the first polls were set to open, Trump was robbed of his favorite rhetorical cudgel on Sunday. FBI Director James Comey told Congress he had concluded his review into new Clinton-related emails only nine days after he shook up the race by announcing there was a review underway at all.

The news of his probe — and the subsequent ricocheting jumble of the words “FBI,” “email,” and “Clinton” on television and news sites — had allowed Trump to claw back into the presidential race, lifting him from his polling doldrums in late October. His campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway, tried to brush aside Comey’s announcement as insignificant…

…But after the FBI reaffirmed its conclusions from July — when Comey said “no reasonable prosecutor” would bring a case against Clinton — Trump returned to railing against the “rigged system.”

The latest polls in Colorado show Clinton with a relatively-comfortable lead over Trump with a few days left before Election Day. As “The Fix” notes today, Clinton appears to have a clear path to winning the Presidency.

 

► Democrats appear likely to defeat Republican Sen. Richard Burr in North Carolina, which means they are in prime position to take back control of the U.S. Senate. As the Washington Post reports, political insiders on both sides of the aisle seem to be making the same predictions:

Every person I talked with presupposes that Hillary Clinton will win the presidency, even though the race has tightened. That means Democrats need to pick up four seats because Vice President Tim Kaine would be the tie breaking vote.

Both sides are girding themselves for what they expect will be a very late night, but the conventional wisdom is that it is more likely than not that Democrats net at least four. Reflecting the high stakes, a study out this weekend showed that more than $532 million has now been spent by outside groups on Senate ads in the general election.

 

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Colorado Republicans and the Laura Woods Problem

lockherup2Colorado Republicans understand Faust perhaps better than most.

Faust, of course, is the main character in the classic 600-year-old German legend of a man who makes a “deal with the devil” to turn over his soul in exchange for unlimited knowledge and worldly pleasures. In modern times, a “Faustian bargain” is the term for a person or entity that gives up some moral authority in order to achieve short-term success or power. Even if you are unfamiliar with Faust, you’ve almost certainly come across similar stories in any number of horrible Hollywood movies (we’re looking at you, “Bedazzled”).

It has been widely discussed that national Republicans made a deal with the developer devil in making Donald Trump their nominee for President in 2016. We could easily expand on this narrative here, but we’d rather bore down into a more local level of politics for our Faustian example: State Senator Laura Waters Woods (R-Arvada).

Even in an election year with no shortage of questionable characters, Sen. Woods stands out as a Republican beacon of dope. Woods was at the peak of her powers in her fist-shaking diatribe as a warm-up act for Trump last weekend in Jefferson County. In case you missed Woods’ speech, just know this: She opened with a “lock her up” chant directed at Hillary Clinton.

Colorado Republicans have been spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on Woods’ re-election bid in SD-19 — along with races in SD-25 (Adams County) and SD-26 (Arapahoe County) – after strategists rightly figured early in the summer that the best GOP hopes in 2016 were to focus most of its resources on a handful of legislative seats. Laura Woods represents one of the Republican Party’s best hopes for maintaining control of their one-seat majority in the State Senate…and that’s precisely the problem for the GOP. Whether or not Woods is successful in her re-election bid is almost beside the point; this race is so expensive for Republicans because Woods is their candidate.

 

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Get More Smarter on Friday (November 4)

MoreSmarterLogo-ElectionFour more days! Four more days! Four more days! It’s time to Get More Smarter with Colorado Pols. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of a visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show.

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► PUT. DOWN. THE. STAMP. If you still have a mail ballot buried under that pile of crap on your kitchen table, DON’T PUT IT IN THE MAIL! Officials are encouraging voters to drop completed ballots at any number of collection sites as Election Day nears. Remember, friends: Ballots must be received by your county clerk and recorder by 7:00 pm on Tuesday (postmarked ballots that arrive later will not be counted).

Check here for your nearest polling and ballot crop-off locations. For more information on when and where to vote or drop of your ballot, go to JustVoteColorado.org.If you’ve already voted, you can still go to one of several links on our website to cast a vote for who you think will win one of the many races on the ballot this year.

 

► Colorado Republicans are finally starting to vote in higher numbers, but they still trail Democrats in early ballot returns:

This is fairly good news for Republicans, but it is not a trend with any sort of broader meaning. Remember, Democrats in Colorado have never held the lead in early voting over Republicans; in 2016, Democrats have been ahead in early ballot returns from the first day ballots started to return.

If you’re wondering where to look for voters this weekend, the answer is: Everywhere!

 

► The march of the campaign surrogates continues in Colorado. Former President Bill Clinton is in Pueblo, Denver, and Ft. Collins today. Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders will be in our state on Saturday to help voter turnout for Hillary Clinton and CD-6 Democrat Morgan Carroll.

Julian Castro, U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, will stump in Colorado for Clinton along with his brother, Congressman Joaquin Castro of Texas, and women’s health advocate Cecile Richards.

On the Republican side, Donald Trump, Jr. campaigned in Colorado on Thursday one day after a visit from Vice Presidential candidate Mike Pence. How come Donald Trump never sends Chachi to Colorado? We want Chachi!

 

The last economic report before Election Day shows more good news for job growth and general economic gains in months to come.

 

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Campaign aims to take advantage of climate of “misogyny” to boot anti-choice state lawmakers

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

komen-planned-parenthood4-1The combination Trump’s “misogyny,” last year’s murders at a Colorado Springs clinic, and the popularity of Planned Parenthood is translating into votes for pro-choice candidates in Colorado, according to Planned Parenthood Votes Colorado (PPVC) Director Sarah Taylor-Nanista.

“Violent rhetoric across the country angers women, but there is a specific connection in Colorado, where we just saw how violent anti-choice language actually ended up hurting people,” said Taylor-Nanista. “And I think it’s hitting home among women voters in a profound way.”

Trying to take advantage of this election climate, PPVC is executing a multi-prong strategy to push pro-choice voters, particularly women, to the polls.

Under a $250,000 state-wide program, PPVC staff has knocked on over 6,000 doors, called over 13,000 voters, launched 10 mail pieces, and pushed earned and digital communications efforts focusing on reproductive health messages, including abortion access, according to Taylor-Nanista.

Taylor-Nanista said internal polling shows Planned Parenthood’s approval rating in Colorado to be over 65 percent.

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Polls: Who Will Win The Colorado General Assembly?

With the 2016 elections less than one week away, we’re rolling out informal, highly unscientific polls of our readers to gauge where key races and ballot measures stand. As always with our reader polls, we’re looking for your honest prediction–not your personal preference.

Who will win control of the Colorado House of Representatives?
Democrats
Republicans
View Result
Who will win control of the Colorado Senate?
Republicans
Democrats
View Result

Where’s the Votes?

We’ve been updating you regularly on the rate of ballot returns in Colorado, and the news has been pretty consistent: Democrats have been returning ballots at a greater rate than Republicans from wire-to-wire. This is an early voting advantage that has always favored Republicans in Colorado, so the fact that Democrats are ahead at all in pre-Election Day voting is significant news.

According to the latest ballot return figures provided by the Secretary of State’s office, Republicans are starting to catch up, albeit slowly:

Democrats:     508,938
Republicans:  494,757
Unaffiliated:   383,275
TOTAL:          1,406,573

Without enough context, these numbers leave a lot of room for speculation. Where are the rest of the votes? In which counties should we expect to see the largest increases through Election Day? Where in the hell is Hinsdale County?

To help answer those questions, we made a chart:

Colorado ballot return comparison

What does this all mean? That depends on which prior election year you use for comparison’s sake, though any comparison would be difficult given that this is the first year in history that Colorado is an all-mail ballot state in a Presidential cycle.

Since this is a Presidential election year, and since mail ballots should theoretically increase turnout, it’s probably best to compare 2016 turnout with 2012; in that case, it looks like voters in the most populous counties in Colorado are only about halfway to their projected totals. This is likely good news for Democrats, because historically it is Democrats who have usually turned out in greater numbers the closer we get to Election Day.

So, if you’ve volunteered for get-out-the-vote (GOTV) efforts this weekend, your work will not be in vain. Also, this chart is worthless if you want to find Hinsdale County.

Metastasis: From Attacking “ColoradoCare” To Demonizing Democrats

52811a4a700a9_chi-thumbA press release from the nonprofit Colorado Health Institute, one of the state’s principal health policy thinktanks whose study of the potential effects of Amendment 69 led to many lefty organizations backing away from the proposal, warns of a group with a similar-sounding name to theirs operating in a much more overtly political way than CHI ever would:

It has come to our attention that a group calling itself the Colorado Health Care Research Institute is financing ads against Amendment 69. Because this name is so similar to our name — the Colorado Health Institute — we feel it is important to let the community know that our organizations are not related or connected in any way.

The Colorado Health Institute — that’s us — is a nonprofit and nonpartisan health policy research organization based in Denver. Our research informs health policy discussions with evidence and unbiased analysis. We take our mission and our nonpartisan status very seriously.

We have written briefs analyzing various aspects of Amendment 69, but we have not and will not take a position on Amendment 69, or any other ballot issue or bill.

The group paying for the anti-Amendment 69 ads appears on state documents as both the Colorado Health Care Institute and the Colorado Health Care Research Institute. Paperwork at the Secretary of State’s office shows the Colorado Health Care Research Institute — that’s not us — was established in July as a 501(c)4. This is a type of tax-exempt group that can make political donations without revealing its donors.

Again, we don’t know this group, and it is not affiliated in any way with the Colorado Health Institute.

And as it turns out, Amendment 69 isn’t the only target of the so-called Colorado Health Care Research Institute–this “dark money” group’s attacks on Amendment 69 have seamlessly morphed into attacks on Democratic candidates over health care. Mailers from the Colorado Health Care Research Institute are reportedly showing up in mailboxes in numerous key legislative races this week. The principal agent for the group is the ubiquitous Katie Kennedy, also the face you’ll never see for dozens of Republican “independent” committees from the Senate Majority Fund to Colorado Citizens for an Accountable Government of “China Girl” infamy.

For Democrats who have contended with the political hot potato of Amendment 69 for the whole year, the irony of this GOP group shifting from attacks on “ColoradoCare” to attacks on Democratic candidates is readily apparent. In a way, it sums up what the doomed Amendment 69 campaign has proven most useful for politically: as a weapon for Republicans to use, against Democrats whether they support the initiative or not. The misinformation from the GOP about Amendment 69 has been as detached from reality as it was with Obamacare itself, and voters have even less ability to cut through the electioneering noise than they did in 2010. Which you’ll recall was a very tough year to be a Democrat, in large part due to misinformation over health reform.

The moral of the story? For a measure that may not even crack 30% support next Tuesday, “ColoradoCare” wasn’t worth it. If you set out to achieve an ambitious goal, you’d better be aware of not just the consequences of failure, but the collateral damage you’re likely to suffer along the way to failure. The political liability created by Amendment 69 in this election outweighed the political benefits, and the reality that it was never going to pass means that’s all that matters.

This is what was on the minds of Democrats who got out of the way of this well-intentioned but politically misguided proposal back in the summertime. And they are being proven right.

Get More Smarter on Tuesday (November 1)

MoreSmarterLogo-ElectionWe don’t care what your friend says; it’s not socially acceptable to still be wearing your Halloween costume today. It’s time to Get More Smarter with Colorado Pols. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of a visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show.

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► Got ballot? If you don’t — or if you know someone who still hasn’t received a ballot — then you had better do something about it. Go to JustVoteColorado.org to start investigating the problem and contact your county clerk for answers. You can always vote at a polling place as well, whether or not you have received a mail ballot (but only if you haven’t already submitted a completed ballot).

Officials are encouraging voters to drop completed ballots at any number of collection sites rather than putting them in the mail as Election Day nears. Check here for your nearest polling and ballot crop-off locations. The Colorado Independent has more on mail ballots and deadlines.

 

Early ballot returns still favor Democrats in Colorado by nearly 30,000 votes. As we’ve noted in this space on multiple occasions, it is unprecedented for Democrats to be at all ahead of Republicans in early voting.

 

► Local postal workers joined with Governor John Hickenlooper on Monday to dispel the notion from Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump that there could be ballot problems in Colorado — specifically the idea that postal workers could somehow see through envelopes and discard ballots that favored the GOP nominee. Colorado’s Republican Secretary of State, meanwhile, continues to publicly challenge Trump’s suggestion of ballot fraud in our state.

 

► With Election Day just eight days away, campaign surrogates for both major party Presidential candidates continue to make stops in Colorado. Labor Secretary Tom Perez is in Colorado today, along with Chelsea Clinton, to stump on behalf of Democratic Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders will also make another stop in Colorado sometime before Election Day.

On the Republican side of things, Vice Presidential candidate Mike Pence will campaign on behalf of Donald Trump in Loveland on Wednesday.

 

► Can’t wait for the results on Election Day? Check out the Halloween edition of the Get More Smarter Show for a sneak preview of the outcome next week.

 

Get even more smarter after the jump… (more…)

Um, You’re Not Helping, RMGO

Excerpt from RMGO mailer dated October 17, 2016.

Excerpt from RMGO mailer dated October 17, 2016.

Firearm enthusiast Dudley Brown and his Rocky Mountain Gun Owners (RMGO) group have been a prominent voice in Colorado politics in recent years, though they have proven much more effective at swaying Republican Primary races than earning votes in a General Election. This is not entirely the fault of the RMGO; strident pro-gun rhetoric just doesn’t have the same effect in the Denver suburbs that it might have in places like Weld County.

Nevertheless, RMGO is going to continue to solicit donations and shake fists wherever it can find Republican voters…even if their outreach isn’t particularly helpful for Republican candidates. We were recently forwarded a copy of a mail pitch from RMGO on behalf of GOP Senate candidate Nancy Doty that the candidate herself probably wasn’t too enthusiastic about reading. “State Senate candidate Nancy Doty is a proven Second Amendment patriot,” says the mailer. “That is why RMGO SuperPAC is enthusiastically endorsing Nancy Doty in Senate District 26.”

State Senate District 26

State Senate District 26

The battle for Senate District 26 is one of the most competitive legislative races of 2016, where Doty and Democrat Daniel Kagan are in a close contest to fill the seat being vacated by the term-limited Democratic Sen. Linda Newell. Located just south of Denver, SD-26 encompasses Arapahoe High School and sits just east of Columbine High School. We probably don’t need to tell you that this community has dealt with two of the most infamous school school shootings in Colorado.

It’s not a coincidence that Doty’s own campaign doesn’t spend any time talking about firearms; you’re not winning undecided voters in SD-26 by telling people that you support “permitless carry, open or concealed.”

VIDEO: Sen. Laura Woods Celebrates Her Love For Donald Trump

Here’s Sen. Laura Woods of Arvada’s twelve minutes and fifty-seven seconds of can’t-take-it-back, from today’s rally at the Jefferson County Fairgrounds for Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump.  It’s Colorado’s most endangered incumbent legislator at, well, her Trumpiest:

Watch it all if you can! Or, skip ahead to right about 5:15 into the video, where Sen. Woods enthusiastically endorses Donald Trump for President–not just because he’s the Republican candidate, but because she believes in him.

This video has the rare distinction of being something both the featured candidate and her opposition hope every voter in SD-19 gets to see.

Get More Smarter on Friday (October 28)

Get More Smarter Halloween 1Eleven. There are only 11 days left until Election Day. It’s time to Get More Smarter with Colorado Pols. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of a visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show.

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► Got ballot? If you don’t — or if you know someone who still hasn’t received a ballot — then you need to do something about it. Go to JustVoteColorado.org to start investigating the problem and contact your county clerk for answers. You can always vote at a polling place as well, whether or not you have received a mail ballot (but only if you haven’t already submitted a completed ballot). Check here for your nearest polling location. Denver7 also includes a good list of election-related information.

 

► If the political winds are shifting and Republicans are finally starting to get serious about voting in Colorado…well, it hasn’t happened yet:

Whether or not Republican ballots are starting to get returned in greater numbers wouldn’t be all that relevant, anyway. Republicans have always had a substantial lead in early voting returns in Colorado — until this year. Colorado Republicans are simply not voting with the same enthusiasm as Democrats in 2016, and there is still no indicator that this is going to change anytime in the next 11 days.

As Election Day nears, the more important numbers to watch are turnout figures in specific competitive races. Democrats are still outperforming Republican voters in CD-6 (the most closely-watched Congressional race in Colorado), as well as in SD-19 (the most carefully-tracked state senate race) and outside the Metro Denver area in HD-59 (one of the top state house races).

 

► Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump is returning to Colorado on Saturday for a rally in Jefferson County. Trump will appear at the Jefferson County Events Center in Golden at noon on Saturday. If you were hoping for some insight into the strategy behind Trump’s latest Colorado visit…we can’t help you here.

 

► And then there were five. For the fifth time in the last couple of weeks, a Colorado media outlet deems an attack ad against Democrat Morgan Carroll to be complete nonsense. If we didn’t know better, we’d almost think that Republicans and Rep. Mike Coffman were intentionally trying to screw up their negative ads.

 

Get even more smarter after the jump… (more…)

Get More Smarter on Thursday (October 27)

Get More Smarter Halloween 1Your Denver Nuggets are undefeated! Sure, it’s only one game, but enjoy it while it lasts. It’s time to Get More Smarter with Colorado Pols. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of a visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show.

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► Got ballot? If you don’t — or if you know someone who still hasn’t received a ballot — then you need to do something about it. Go to JustVoteColorado.org to start investigating the problem and contact your county clerk for answers. You can always vote at a polling place as well, whether or not you have received a mail ballot (but only if you haven’t already submitted a completed ballot). Check here for your nearest polling location. Denver7 also includes a good list of election-related information.

 

► Democrats are still outpacing Republicans in terms of early ballot returns, according to the latest figures from the Colorado Secretary of State’s office. Republicans are normally far ahead of Democrats in early voting totals — a trend that has reversed in 2016 for the first time in recent memory. Here’s the latest tallies as of Thursday morning:

Ballots Returned + Early Voting
Democrats:     224,914
Republicans:  196,082
Unaffiliated:   143,866

Longtime Colorado political reporter Ernest Luning continues to track early voting numbers and breakdowns by district/office. Democrats are voting in higher numbers in the swing state Senate battleground of SD-19 (Arvada/Westminster) and in Congressional District 6 (Aurora). Republicans are slowly catching up to Democrats overall, but remember: It is unprecedented for Democrats to not be trailing Republicans in early voting returns.

 

► Utah Congressman Jason Chaffetz was the first Member of Congress to completely dump Trump after accusations of sexual assault surfaced for the Republican Presidential nominee. But as the Washington Post and other outlets are reporting, Chaffetz is reversing himself and now pledging that he will vote for Donald Trump for President:

Nineteen days ago, Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) was so over Donald Trump.

“I’m out. I can no longer in good conscience endorse this person for president,” Chaffetz said the day after The Washington Post revealed Trump’s 2005 “Access Hollywood” tape. The breaking point, Chaffetz went onto say, was that he couldn’t look his 15-year-old daughter in the eye and talk about what the GOP presidential nominee said: “It is some of the most abhorrent and offensive comments that you can possibly imagine.”

That was 19 days ago. Now, he’s — well, here’s where Chaffetz stands on Trump as of Wednesday night:

 

We certainly hope that Chaffetz has good health insurance coverage; we can only imagine the horrific back troubles associated with not having a spine.

This waffling from Chaffetz is not helpful to Colorado Republicans such as Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Aurora). In his own wishy-washy manner, Coffman has kinda sorta tried to distance himself from Trump; now, thanks to Chaffetz, Coffman is going to get those questions all over again.

 

► Why is Chaffetz suddenly taking a pro-Trump position after being so defiant in his repudiation of the GOP nominee? It’s politics, baby: Chaffetz wants to be a lead figure in Republican plans to hold endless hearings and challenges to soon-to-be President Hillary Clinton. Chaffetz may also be angling for support as a potential replacement House Speaker to Rep. Paul Ryan, though using your family as a political shield and then shrugging off those concerns weeks later doesn’t exactly paint Chaffetz as a strong leader. One way or the other, we may see a new Speaker of the House next month.

 

► What’s it like to be a candidate for public office in Colorado as the hours melt away before Election Day? Check out the Get More Smarter Show for an interview with state Sen. Andy Kerr, a veteran of several close legislative races who doesn’t have to worry about his own campaign this year.

 

Get even more smarter after the jump… (more…)

Get More Smarter on Wednesday (October 26)

Get More Smarter Halloween 1Google is using search engine data to track the most popular Halloween costumes in 2016; there are no politically-themed costumes at the top of the list, unless you count “Clown” at number 9. It’s time to Get More Smarter with Colorado Pols. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of a visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show.

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► If you haven’t received a mail ballot yet, then something is probably wrong; go to JustVoteColorado.org to start investigating the problem. If you would prefer to vote at a polling place rather than via mail balloting, check here for your nearest polling location. Denver7 also includes a good list of election-related information.

 

Democrats continue their unprecedented run in early voting in Colorado. As longtime Colorado political reporter Ernest Luning explains:

► Election Day is just 13 days away, and Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump appears to be shifting gears already. From Eli Stokols at Politico:

Donald Trump has less than two weeks left in his presidential campaign, but his closing argument sounds as much about his business interests as his electoral ones.

As Hillary Clinton and her surrogates fan out across the battleground states, Trump’s schedule has found plenty of room for self-promotion that seems aimed well past Nov. 8, including two stops in two days promoting his hotels and the soft launch of what many see as the prototype for a post-campaign Trump TV.

On Monday, Trump’s campaign launched a nightly Facebook live news program — on the heels of a report that his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, had spoken with a top industry dealmaker about setting up a Trump network.

On Tuesday, Trump summoned the press corps to one of his Florida properties and lavished praise on it. “One of the great places on earth,” he crowed.

On Wednesday, he returns — for the fourth time this presidential cycle — to his new Washington, D.C., hotel for what his campaign has billed as a “ribbon-cutting” to celebrate its grand opening.

It would seem that Trump himself is losing interest in the idea that the election is “rigged” against him; he’s just ready for it to be over now.

Trump’s Vice Presidential choice, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, must not have gotten the memo quite yet. Pence is in Colorado Springs (again) today to pretend to be excited about a foregone conclusion.

 

► Democrats continue to pick up momentum in Colorado’s most-watched Congressional races. In CD-6, Morgan Carroll announced some impressive fundraising numbers for the first two weeks of October as she seeks to unseat Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Aurora). Meanwhile in CD-3, Rep. Scott Tipton (R-Cortez) may not be able to hold off the rising campaign of Democrat Gail Schwartz, who picked up another big endorsement today.

 

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Ballot Returns in Colorado Continue to Favor Democrats

Colorado Statesman reporter Ernest Luning has been diligently tracking ballot returns since ballots were first mailed last Monday. Today, Luning provides some important historical context:

(BTW: If you’re interested in regular updates on this topic, we’d suggest you follow Luning on Twitter: @eluning)

We’ve been marveling at the rate of ballot returns for Democrats since numbers first started to emerge last week, and now even Republican strategists are getting nervous. From Jon Murray of the Denver Post:

Right-leaning political consulting/polling firm Magellan Strategies has been poring over ballot returns today, and they don’t have good news for Republicans:

As of this morning, the total number of ballots returned is 287,854, an increase of 128,959 from yesterday morning’s tally. The increase in ballots returned among Democrat voters since yesterday morning was 55,476, bringing their current total to 118,444. The Republican ballot return total increased by 39,779, bringing their total to 94,734. If you do the math, the Democrat advantage over Republicans in ballots returned is now 23,710, nearly triple since yesterdays lead.

Based on our 10 years of experience tracking early and absentee voting in Colorado, it’s very clear that a Democrat wave election is in the making. Although there is still a lot of time before Election Day, Colorado Democrats have never had an early voting lead this large with two weeks to go. [Pols emphasis] In the 2008 election two weeks prior to Election Day, Democrats held an early turnout lead of 2,987 votes. (184,386 Democrats had voted / 181,399 Republicans had voted). In the 2012 election with two weeks to go, Republicans held a lead of 11,798 votes. (72,585 Democrats had voted / 84, 383 Republicans had voted.)

We’ve been saying for awhile in this space that we can’t recall another time when Democrats were continually outpacing Republicans in early voting. There’s not really much of a question that Colorado Republicans, by and large, do not appear to be enthusiastic about casting ballots this year; the key question at this point is just how bad turnout might get in the next 14 days.