Felon Elected to Greeley City Council – Opponent Sues

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Eddie Mirick was just elected to the at-large seat on Greeley’s City Council.  Mirick  has a 1978 felony conviction for forgery, which he lied about when he filled out the paperwork to run for City Council.  The charter of Greeley, a “home-rule” city, specifically does not allow anyone convicted of a felony to be elected to City Council. Yet Mirick was elected, and City Council members have seated him, and are letting the court decide whether he will be allowed to serve.

Mirick’s eligibility to serve on City Council will be decided in District Court, pending the result of a lawsuit filed by Mirick’s opponent, Stacy (Deb) Suniga.

Mirick (3rd from left) on Greeley for a Stronger Economy’s FB ad

The makeup of Greeley’s City Council will affect the balance of power between oil and gas interests vs. the public health of residents, in one of the most fracked cities in America.

Mirick is a veteran, and lives with physical disabilities. He is active in charities and community groups. And he strongly supports oil and gas development in Greeley.  Mirick benefitted from over $65,000 spent for cable TV ads from a shadowy Denver group: “Greeley for a Stronger Economy (GSE)*”.  Mayor John Gates, and two other candidates for Greeley City Council:   appointed member Brett Payton, who won his seat against opponent Lavonna Longwell by a grand total of 2 votes. (after recount), and Ward 3 candidate Michael Fitsimmons were also promoted by GSE advertising.

(more…)

Cynthia Coffman is Just Not Good at This

“Better Late Than Never” is not a recommended campaign slogan.

Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman has almost been running for Governor for an entire month now. She’s still not getting any better at this politics thing.

We’ve talked before in this space about Coffman’s amazingly-terrible campaign for Governor, and the Colorado Independent gives us yet another example this week:

Days after it was reported that Cynthia Coffman, who is running for governor in Colorado, was one of only two Republican attorneys general who hadn’t signed a letter in support of an NRA-backed law to allow people with concealed weapons permits to carry hidden guns in any state, she said she supports it.

“Better late than never,” said David Kopel, a Colorado attorney who has written books and articles about gun laws and the Second Amendment and supports the federal legislation.

The U.S. House could vote on the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act this week, just around the five-year anniversary of the Sandy Hook mass school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, and as advocates for more regulation of firearms are holding vigils around the nation. The proposed law, which is a top priority for the National Rifle Association, would expand concealed carry rights from state to state.

As the Independent notes, the Salt Lake Tribune published a story on Saturday about Utah’s Republican Attorney General signing onto this letter to Congressional leaders in support of the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act. The Tribune story reported that Coffman and Tennessee Attorney General Henry Slatery were the only two Republican AGs in the entire country who did not sign their names to the letter.

Someone with Coffman’s campaign apparently noticed this omission, and on Sunday Coffman sent off her own letter in support of the NRA-backed legislation. On Monday, Coffman promoted the letter from her personal/campaign Twitter account:

The Independent writes that Coffman spokesperson Annie Skinner did not respond to an email asking why Coffman didn’t just sign onto the original letter dated December 1. If form holds, Coffman’s campaign will likely get back to the Independent sometime next week.

Cynthia Coffman’s Campaign Completely Off the Rails

Earlier this week we wrote about the unmitigated disaster that is Republican Cynthia Coffman’s campaign for Governor. Somehow things seem to have gotten even worse just since Monday:


This Tweet today from CBS4 Denver reporter Shaun Boyd seems to confirm — in a really strange way — that Attorney General Cynthia Coffman is, in fact, pro-choice on the issue of abortion. We probably don’t need to tell you that this is not going to help Coffman make it through a crowded Republican Primary next year.

At Least She’s Not Your Train Conductor


The fact that Coffman’s position on abortion would be revealed in this manner is another sign of a gubernatorial campaign that has been completely off the rails since day one. Just last week, a spokesperson for Coffman’s campaign told Joey Bunch of the Colorado Springs Gazette that Coffman would discuss her position on abortion at a later date, or “when the time’s right.” The “right time” in this case appears to be in response to a Tweet from a local reporter. That’s not good.

That Coffman is so woefully unprepared to deal with pretty standard and predictable questions is an ominous sign for her campaign’s future. Coffman’s camp (to the extent to which one exists) can’t even figure out how to answer the question of whether or not they have a campaign manager in place, and here they are flubbing answers to the most basic of conservative questions.

Coffman just isn’t ready to run a real campaign for Governor, and she only has a few more weeks to figure this out before she gets steamrolled by the inertia of better-organized Republicans.

It’s Official (Maybe): Cynthia Coffman is Pro-Choice

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

CBS4 political specialist Shaun Boyd reported last week that newly minted gubernatorial candidate Cynthia Coffman was pro-choice.

This set of a wave of disbelief and anger in conservative circles, led by KNUS radio host Dan Caplis, who said on air that Republicans wouldn’t have allowed Coffman to become Colorado’s attorney general if her pro-choice views were known.

But in reporting that Coffman was pro-choice, Boyd did not quote the candidate directly on the matter. Boyd asserted it as a background fact, leading Caplis and others to question whether it was true.

Boyd settled any lingering doubts with this tweet this morning:

Boyd: Responding to questions about my report on @CynthiaHCoffman being pro-choice. I learned it via a source after my interview. I’ve asked Coffman’s campaign if she wants a correction. Her spokesperson says she does not.”

Coffman’s official confirmation of Boyd’s reporting will likely be denounced by fellow GOP gubernatorial candidates, like businessman Victor Mitchell, who’s already called out Coffman on it, and Tom Tancredo, who’s openly and seriously anti-choice.

Even if you didn’t witness the impact of anti-choice personhood activists during multiple elections over the past decade, allowing Republicans like Cory Gardner to build their careers on the issue, you probably know that a large block of GOP primary voters, like Caplis, will not support a pro-choice candidate, unless, possibly, the only anti-choice Republican available is a likely child molester. See Roy Moore.

And like Alabama voters who face the decision of  pro-abortion vs. likely child molestation, they might decide not to vote. That’s how “foundational” the abortion issue is, as Caplis puts it.

This might explain why Coffman has at least appeared to be hostile to abortion rights over the years. For example, she’s bragged about opposing public funds for Planned Parenthood. In some interviews that I’ve found so far, she’s dodged the issue.

Conservatives, like Arapahoe County Tea Party founder Randy Corporon, were left with the impression that Coffman was anti-choice.

“I’ve been around her many times over the years, where all sorts of different conversations have come up, and I’ve never left with the impression that she was anything but pro-life,” said Corporon on air.

Everybody and Nobody Wants George Brauchler

Maybe George Brauchler can be Colorado’s Director of Twitter.

Earlier this month, Republican George Brauchler dropped out of the race for Governor — a race he clearly could not hope to win — in order to run for Attorney General after incumbent AG Cynthia Coffman announced that she would be running for Governor.

When Brauchler made his announcement, it was with a carefully-crafted message intended to convey that he was the Republican White Knight riding to the rescue to save the GOP from losing its hold on the office of Attorney General. Brauchler has even taken swipes at Coffman for “abandoning” a top Republican office so close to the 2018 election. But as this recent story from Charles Ashby in the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel makes clear, Brauchler’s commitment to pretending to be wanted has him looking more than a little bit silly:

“At the time, you couldn’t have foreseen this set of circumstances,” Brauchler said in an interview a few days after he made the switch last week. “Tancredo getting in, it didn’t move the needle for me. We didn’t change plans at all. The single event was vacating that (attorney general) position. I’m an amateur at this. I wasn’t counseled in the ways of ‘never say never.’ I didn’t see this happening.”

Brauchler said as far back as 2015, the Republican Party tried to get him to challenge U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet, a Democrat who ended up facing a little-known Republican who barely campaigned for the seat. But he wasn’t interested in going to Washington, D.C.

A similar thing occurred earlier this year when U.S. Rep. Ken Buck, R-4th, considered running for attorney general, but decided instead to seek re-election.

Brauchler said he wasn’t interested in that seat, either, saying his experience and desire to remain closer to his family outweighed all other considerations.

There were rumors earlier this fall that Brauchler was considering running for Congress in CD-4 should Rep. Ken Buck depart in order to run for Attorney General, but this is the first time we can recall that Brauchler has publicly acknowledged this story. This isn’t something Brauchler would have wanted to acknowledge when he was still a candidate for Governor, but now that he’s moved on to a different office, Brauchler is desperate to make you believe that everyone wants him to run for something!

Michael Dougherty

The flip side to this message is that Brauchler just wants to be elected to some sort of higher office; that he just wants to be Attorney General because he wasn’t going to be our next Governor. Brauchler is leading with his chin here, and at least one potential 2018 opponent is already calling him out. Again, from the Sentinel:

All that sounded like balderdash to Democratic attorney general candidate Michael Dougherty, who currently is the assistant district attorney for Jefferson and Gilpin counties.

“The Attorney General’s Office is critically important right now, too important in my opinion to be a consolation prize for a failed run at being governor,” Dougherty said…

…”Cynthia Coffman ran that office with politics in mind, more so than her predecessors. Now that she’s running for governor, those suspicions are confirmed,” Dougherty said. “Now we have this spot being sought by someone who is running for a different office who is simply looking for somewhere else to land because that race got tough.

“Perhaps if this race gets tough, George can consider running for treasurer.” [Pols emphasis]

You had better get used to this joke, George.

Cynthia Coffman’s Gubernatorial Campaign is a Disaster

Republican Cynthia Coffman might be better off waving a white flag when it comes to her gubernatorial campaign.

Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman announced two weeks ago that she would seek the Republican gubernatorial nomination rather than running for re-election in 2018. We weren’t alone in wondering why it took Coffman more than a year to make a decision on what race to run in 2018, and the long delay apparently wasn’t because she was taking extra time to prepare for a run for Governor.

As Joey Bunch writes in two separate stories for the publication formerly known as the Colorado Statesman, Coffman’s gubernatorial campaign is an absolute mess. In an early preview of a longer story for “Colorado Politics” magazine, Bunch wrote on Friday that it is not clear who, if anyone, is even running the Coffman campaign:

When Coffman officially announced her candidacy for governor on Nov. 8, the Denver Post reported, “To run her campaign, Coffman hired Clinton Soffer, the former regional political director for the National Republican Senate Committee, where he worked for Colorado U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner, whom he helped elect in 2014.”

After I got a well-sourced tip Thursday that Soffer was no longer running the campaign, I reached out to Coffman’s campaign fundraiser Caroline Wren, who also is fielding calls to Coffman from the media this week.

“Clinton Soffer is a part of Team Cynthia, but he is not campaign manager and was never announced by our campaign as such,” said Wren.

Bunch says that Coffman’s campaign never responded to questions about how or why Soffer was misidentified in the Denver Post story, though Coffman “spokesperson” Caroline Wren did eventually tell Bunch that Coffman would only respond to written questions submitted in advance via e-mail…which is a completely absurd thing to stipulate for someone seeking the top office in Colorado.

Coffman did apparently participate in a brief telephone interview with Bunch at some point, which left many more unanswered questions. Here’s an excerpt from Bunch’s full story for “Colorado Politics” magazine (click for PDF version):

Platform, money and momentum are not on her side, according to my very round circle of Republican sources…

…In a way-too-short scheduled phone interview, Coffman assured me my Republican sources are in the minority of her party, but she would have to get back to me on explaining why when she had more time.

Bunch writes that he could not clarify Coffman’s position on the issue of abortion, which has stirred commentary from right-wing radio pundits (Coffman’s spokesperson says that she will discuss her position on abortion “when the time’s right,” whatever that means). In response to a question about how Coffman will address the “Coffmangate” scandal from 2015, Bunch writes the following:

“Frankly, I’m not going to spend time on it,” Coffman told me when I asked about it, then she deflected other questions and reminded me that my time was running out.

It isn’t just questions about prior scandals that Coffman is ducking. This paragraph near the end of Bunch’s magazine story is particularly strange:

On the issues, Coffman didn’t have a plan to fund transportation, potentially a huge issue for the next governor, but she’s working on it. She asked me, jokingly, if I wanted to join the campaign to help figure it out.

Whaaaaa???

At the height of the “Coffmangate” scandal in June 2015, we wrote in this space that Coffman’s political career was all but over; we speculated, in part, that Coffman would have trouble running another statewide campaign because she would have a difficult time finding a competent staff that wasn’t scared away by her awkward backstabbing.

Perhaps Coffman will ultimately figure out how to be a viable candidate for Governor. Perhaps she will eventually be able to hire campaign staff that have some idea of what they are doing.

Or, perhaps, Cynthia Coffman’s gubernatorial bid is a complete fool’s errand.

As He Exits Gubernatorial Race, Brauchler Needles Coffman

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

This guy to the rescue!

As he exited the gubernatorial race this week, Republican attorney general candidate George Brauchler criticized current AG Cynthia Coffman, telling KCOL radio host Jimmy Lakey that Coffman’s last-minute “decision to abandon her position as attorney general” put the AG’s office at risk of falling into Democratic hands–something he did not want to see happen. And this helped push him out of the gubernatorial race.

“The timing was so important to my decision,” said Brauchler, the district attorney who tried the Aurora theater shooter, on KCOL’s Nov. 14 show. “When she made the decision to abandon her position as attorney general less than a year before the general election, my phone just started going crazy, started blowing up with people who are saying, ‘What are we going to do to hold this seat?’ The idea of one of the progressive, extremist-type candidates on the other side taking that seat — in addition to possibly having the governorship — it would just put us, Jimmy, on a path where — I’m not even sure we’d be on the road to California. We would be California.  And I was convinced — and I believe — that the best role I can play right now for helping my home state is to defend that Attorney General’s position and to make sure it is held by a conservative and not someone who wants to legislate through litigation.”

Political operative and pundit Laura Carno, who served on Brauchler’s advisory committee, underscored the point on Lakey’s show the same day.

“I’m disappointed that a statewide official left an office where she was going to be running for reelection, and that really should be one of the offices that we don’t have to worry about — a popular incumbent running for reelection,” said Carno on Greeley’s KCOL, adding that she also agree with Brauchler that the “numbers” in the gubernatorial race, with new opponents, did not look good. “But now, with Cynthia Coffman moving over to the governor’s race, that puts at significant risk that attorney general spot. And if we’re going to — if we have the potential of having a Gov. Polis – God forbid– we have to have somebody with guts in that attorney general’s office. So, by the end of the conversation, although I started out saying, ‘I have got to talk George Brauchler out of this,’ there was just no other decision. And I appreciate that he moved over to protect that seat. So, that’s how I’m looking at it, and [I’m] disappointed that he was put in that position. But, I get it. I’m supportive. And I’m still a huge George Brauchler fan. I think he’s an eminently decent human being.”

In other statements, Brauchler acknowledged that the entrance of former Congressman Tom Tancredo into the gubernatorial race complicated his path to a primary victory, as did Coffman’s late decision to run.

“[Tancredo] also competes for some of the same votes that I’d compete for,” Brauchler told the Colorado Independent.

Unless Brauchler draws a primary opponent, he will likely face one of these Democrats vying for the their party’s nomination: Boulder prosecutor Michael Dougherty, attorney Brad Levin, Denver prosecutor Amy Padden, State Rep. Joe Salazar of Thornton, or former CU Law School dean Phil Weiser.

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.