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

Attorney General Cynthia Coffman.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

No Nibiru, just rural Democrats causing trouble.

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Hickenlooper Upstages Cynthia Coffman on DACA Lawsuit

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

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

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

—–

Gov. John Hickenlooper and AG Cynthia Coffman.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Get More Smarter on Friday (September 8)

In these times of escalating partisan rancor, it’s nice to know that we can all come together in a shared dislike of Tom Brady. It’s time to Get More Smarter. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of a visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show.

 

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Get even more smarter after the jump…

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Ken Buck Preparing to Announce Run for Attorney General

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

Dominoes, prepare thy fall.

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

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

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

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

Follow the Bouncing Ball if Coffman Runs for Governor

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

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

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

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

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

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

Democratic Attorney General candidate Phil Weiser.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Good News! June 23-30, 2017

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

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

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

Healthcare, the ACA, and the Senate Wealthcare bill

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

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

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

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

To keep the heat on, keep contacting

Senator Bennet: Contact Us

Senator Gardner: Contact Cory*

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

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Get More Smarter on Tuesday (June 20)

We know that there are probably a number of days this year that have already seemed like they would never end; today really is the longest day of the year. It’s time to Get More Smarter. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of a visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show.

 

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

It’s deja vu all over again.

Senate Republicans don’t yet have an actual healthcare bill, let alone a score from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), and a majority of GOP Senators reportedly still have no idea what might be included in any potential legislation…but Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is moving ahead with plans for a potential floor vote by the end of next week. The Washington Post elaborates on the details:

…the secrecy adopted by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is explicitly designed to shield the Senate GOP health-care bill from as much debate and public scrutiny as possible. The text of the bill will be available for all of one week before it is likely to be voted upon, after having been drafted in such secrecy that even Republican senators complained that they were being kept in the dark. There have not been, and apparently will not be, any hearings before the vote.

What’s more, lawmakers and the public may have only two or three days to absorb the details and significance of the CBO’s conclusions. Given that this will be the most rich and detailed empirical analysis available of the bill’s likely impact on tens of millions of people and one-sixth of the U.S. economy, you’d think this document would be deserving of extensive consideration in all its complexity.

But this rolling scandal doesn’t end there. This compressed schedule is not only designed to limit debate on the bill. As the Journal reports, the vote is being rushed for the express purpose of getting it done before the July 4 recess, because the failure to do so “could open Republican lawmakers up to pressure from constituents,” some of whom might be “concerned about losing their health coverage.” Thus, the schedule is also explicitly designed to shield lawmakers from public exposure and questioning about the immense human toll the measure they are considering could have — before they vote on it.

A new CBS News poll finds that the public broadly wants a more open process. Americans say, 73 percent to 25 percent, that Senate Republicans should discuss their plans publicly rather than privately. More than three-quarters of independents agree.

Vox.com has more analysis on how the Senate can potentially succeed with their secret plan…as well as several scenarios under which it will fail miserably.

The satirical news site The Onion also hits the nail on the head:

Headline from “The Onion” today.

 

► Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) is among the original 13 Republicans appointed by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to craft a Senate version of Trumpcare, but Gardner clearly doesn’t want to talk about any of this. The big question for Gardner relates to whether he will ultimately support legislation that could gut Medicaid coverage for hundreds of thousands of Coloradans. You can call potential Medicaid cuts whatever you want — a “glide path to stability” is a favorite explanation of Gardner’s — but large-scale Medicaid cuts are not going to go over well with the 1.4 million Coloradans who rely on it for healthcare.

And as we said yesterday in this space, it’s also a fair question to ask whether or not Gardner even understands whatever secret legislation the Senate is crafting.

Elsewhere, Congresswoman Diana DeGette (D-Denver) outlined many of the problems with the proposed GOP healthcare bill in a press conference on Monday. Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper is also becoming increasingly outspoken about Republican plans for Trumpcare; Hick says the process taking place is “kind of crazy.”

 

► It is fitting that one of the longest special elections in recent memory will be decided on the longest day of the year. The New York Times has an extensive preview of Election Day in Georgia’s sixth congressional district.

 

 

Get even more smarter after the jump…

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Michael Dougherty Makes Three for A.G.

Michael Dougherty

As Joey Bunch writes for the Colorado Springs Gazette, Democrats now have three candidates for Attorney General in 2018:

“As attorney general, I will do what I have done for my entire career, fight for what is right,” Dougherty said in a statement. “Our attorney general should share the same values of everyday Coloradans, such as protecting our water, environment and public safety.

“The attorney General has to be above politics and do the right thing for all the people of Colorado. Consumer protection, public safety, and transparency of government are non-partisan issues and I plan to work with people from all across Colorado to make real progress.”

Before joining the DA’s office in Golden, Dougherty ran the criminal justice Section of the Attorney General’s Office, supervising special prosecutions, environmental crimes, financial fraud and the Peace Officer Standards and Training Unit, according to his website.

He also represented the office in hearings and meetings with the legislature. Before taking over the Criminal Justice Section, Before that, he supervised the the Colorado DNA Justice Review Project for the AG’s office.

State Rep. Joe Salazar (D-Thornton) and University of Colorado Law Professor Phil Weiser have previously announced their intentions to seek the Democratic nomination for Attorney General in 2018. Incumbent Republican Cynthia Coffman continues to threaten to run for Governor, but she is more likely to run for a second term instead.

Hick Declines Oil and Gas Lawsuit Appeal; Coffman Goes Rogue

Attorney General Cynthia Coffman.

Important news today from the Denver Post’s Bruce Finley, Gov. John Hickenlooper has come out against an appeal of an important recent court court decision obliging the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission to stop issuing drilling permits pending a review to ensure their activity doesn’t impact he environment, public health, or climate change:

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper has ordered state authorities not to fight a court ruling requiring protection of public safety, health and the environment by the state as a precondition before allowing oil and gas drilling…

Hickenlooper late Wednesday sent an e-mail message to Deputy Attorney General Laura Chartrand instructing state attorneys not to proceed with an appeal of the ruling, which reinterprets the mission of the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, according to a letter sent Thursday to Hickenlooper by Coffman.

The COGCC on May 1 decided to fight the ruling. Hickenlooper contends that decision, based on a unanimous vote, was “only advisory” and that the COGCC lacks statutory authority to challenge a court’s interpretation of its mission.

But in a twist we might have seen coming, Colorado’s Republican Attorney General Cynthia Coffman isn’t going to cooperate with Gov. Hickenlooper’s request:

[Attorney General Cynthia] Coffman now is arguing that Hickenlooper is legally incorrect in trying to stop the COGCC, whose members he appointed…

“I understand that sentiment runs high surrounding oil and gas development in our state, even more so in the wake of the tragic house explosion that claimed two lives,” she wrote. “This appeal is not intended to be a statement on complex energy policy issues. Rather it is a legal challenge to a court decision that stands to have a profound effect on regulation and administrative decision-making by government entities.”

It’s a significant development for Hickenlooper to override a unanimous decision by the COGCC and recommend this case not be appealed. And since energy-friendly Gov. Hickenlooper is no “fracktivist” seeking to halt oil and gas extraction in Colorado, we have to assume that his recommendation to not appeal the decision means there would be a path for the industry to comply with the ruling and whatever remedy it prescribes.

Unless, of course, the industry has an even more energy-friendly Republican AG they can turn to! In the wake of the recent home explosion in Firestone blamed on neglected oil and gas well pipelines, Coffman’s stubbornness could be as politically damaging to her as it is beneficial to Hickenlooper to not be a part of it.

Get More Smarter on Thursday (May 18)

Snow? Again? What is this, Russia? It’s time to Get More Smarter! If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of a visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show.

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

Mueller!

It is not difficult to picture a sullen President Trump shaking his fist and softly mumbling the name of  former FBI Director Robert Mueller, the man who will lead a special investigation into potential Trump ties with Russia. The White House issued a bland statement last night in response to the news of Mueller’s appointment, but it wasn’t long before President Twitter took to social media to vent his rage.

From the New York Times:

President Trump lashed out on Thursday, saying he was the target of an unprecedented witch hunt, a day after the Justice Department appointed a special counsel to investigate ties between his presidential campaign and Russian officials.

In a pair of early morning tweets, Mr. Trump cited, without evidence, what he called the “illegal acts” committed by the administration of his predecessor, Barack Obama, and the campaign of his former opponent, Hillary Clinton — and said they never led to the appointment of a special counsel.

“With all of the illegal acts that took place in the Clinton campaign & Obama Administration, there was never a special councel appointed!” Mr. Trump wrote, misspelling counsel.

Moments later, Mr. Trump added, “This is the single greatest witch hunt of a politician in American history!”

And yet, the bell tolls.

As Chris Cillizza summarizes for CNN:

Republicans — from Donald Trump on down — will now live or die by what Mueller finds out.  Full exoneration is now possible. But so too is full guilt or blame.  Republicans’ political fate — in 2018 and perhaps 2020 as well — is now largely in Mueller’s hands.

► Oh, and House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy reportedly expressed concern last summer that Trump was on Russia’s payroll. From the Washington Post:

A month before Donald Trump clinched the Republican nomination, one of his closest allies in Congress — House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy — made a politically explosive assertion in a private conversation on Capitol Hill with his fellow GOP leaders: that Trump could be the beneficiary of payments from Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“There’s two people I think Putin pays: Rohrabacher and Trump,” McCarthy (R-Calif.) said, according to a recording of the June 15, 2016, exchange, which was listened to and verified by The Washington Post. Rep. Dana Rohrabacher is a Californian Republican known in Congress as a fervent defender of Putin and Russia.

House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) immediately interjected, stopping the conversation from further exploring McCarthy’s assertion, and swore the Republicans present to secrecy.

 

► Colorado Republican officials had been largely quiet about President Trump as his administration unravels, but the appointment of Robert Mueller as special prosecutor appears to have finally shaken many of their media malaise. As Jason Salzman writes, Trump talk is also dominating the Republican gubernatorial primary.

 

► The oil and gas industry is directing millions of dollars to Colorado Republicans as concerns grow about the safety of drilling practices near communities. According to a new report, the amount of money pouring into GOP coffers from O&G interests provides the industry with enormous political clout — much more than had been previously considered.

 

 

Get even more smarter after the jump…

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New Poll Shows Tough 2018 Road for Colorado Republicans

Magellan Strategies, a Colorado-based polling firm that is known to lean-Republican, released a fresh new batch of polling numbers in Colorado today. For Republicans hoping to see better results after an awful Keating Research poll in March…

Well, let’s just say that things are looking up — but only because Republican numbers are essentially upside-down.

Magellan Strategies polled 502 “likely 2018 General Election voters in Colorado” on April 26 and 27, and the results are pretty dismal for Republicans. Take a look at some of the “key findings” as presented by Magellan:

♦ Among likely 2018 voters, 47% approve and 49% disapprove of the job Donald Trump is doing as President. Among unaffiliated voters, 40% approve and 53% disapprove of the job he is doing.

♦ The generic Congressional ballot shows voters prefer the Democrat candidate to the Republican candidate by a 5-point margin, 39% to 34% respectively. Among unaffiliated voters, the generic Democrat candidate leads the generic Republican candidate by a 13-point margin, 34% to 21% respectively.

♦ Among all respondents, 34% approve of the job the Republicans in Congress are doing and 58% disapprove.

♦ Among likely 2018 voters, 40% approve of the job Senator Cory Gardner is doing, 37% disapprove, and 23% do not have an opinion. Among unaffiliated voters 37% approve of the job Senator Gardner is doing and 35% disapprove.

President Trump’s approval ratings are definitely upside-down in Colorado. Senator Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) is right on the precipice of being flipped on his head, but remember here that Magellan Strategies generally tilts rightward in its poll results.

Gardner should also be worried that he continues to poll far below Trump among likely Republican voters. In the Keating Research poll from March, Gardner had a 63% approval rating among Republicans compared to 83% for Trump. According to Magellan Strategies, Gardner has a 59% approval rating among Republicans compared to 85% for Trump. In short, Gardner is losing support among Colorado Republicans at the same time that Trump is slowly gaining favor.

There are a lot of reasons why Gardner is losing favor among voters, including Republicans, and it starts with his disinterest in speaking with constituents. It doesn’t help that Gardner is getting splinters in his pants from regularly riding the fence on issues while he bends over backward to show deference to Trump on subjects that are supposed to be right in his wheelhouse.

The only good news for Trump and Gardner is that they won’t have to appear again on a Colorado ballot until 2020. But for Republicans campaigning in 2018, these numbers must be absolutely terrifying.

Stan Garnett Opts Not To Run For AG

Boulder County DA Stan Garnett.

A bit of a surprise from the Longmont Times-Call’s John Fryar:

Boulder County District Attorney Stan Garnett has decided not to make a second run for Colorado attorney general in next year’s statewide election, he announced this morning.

Garnett, a Boulder Democrat who ran unsuccessfully for AG in 2010, is in the first year of his third four-year term as the district attorney in Colorado’s 20th Judicial District. He the state AG’s job would “fit well with my background.”

However, Garnett said, after consulting with his staff, he decided the time it would take to conduct a statewide campaign for the AG’s post over the coming year and a half could prove to be “a huge distraction” from his oversight of the programs he’s launched or is expanding in the Boulder DA’s office.

Stan Garnett’s decision to not run for attorney general and focus on his work as the Boulder County DA is good news for Rep. Joe Salazar, who announced his run for AG already and was facing a tough primary:

[Garnett] said he filed his candidacy affidavit…to avoid any potential legal challenges under campaign finance laws about whether his public statements on any criminal justice issues might be interpreted as an AG’s candidate’s positions.

Garnett said he had called Salazar on Saturday to tell him of his decision not to run for attorney general.

“I had a nice conversation with Joe,” Garnett said.

It’s certainly possible that another Democrat could emerge to make a run at this office, but in the short run this gives Salazar some much-needed head room to consolidate support.

As for Garnett, he’ll have more opportunities to advance.

Cynthia Coffman Trolls Race for Governor

Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman is almost certainly not running for governor in 2018, but she would really like it if you would pretend that she might. This is very, very lame…

“You know I am at least looking at governor” [Pols emphasis]. This is what Coffman told Denver Post reporter Mark Matthews today in Washington D.C. If you are unaccustomed to the language of politics, please allow us to translate:

I don’t actually plan on running for governor, but please float my name so that I can use these rumors to generate support for my re-election bid for Attorney General. 

Attorney General Cynthia Coffman

We noted back in January that Coffman was trying to gin up interest for a potential bid for governor. From everything we’ve heard, that effort didn’t go anywhere and Coffman has since indicated privately that she will seek re-election as Attorney General. That won’t stop her from continuing to troll the rest of the potential field for 2018, however.

Coffman may not particularly like her current job as AG, but there is no path for her to win a Republican primary for Governor. Coffman is not what you’d call a beloved figure in the Colorado GOP — certainly not enough to elbow her way into a Republican Primary that is already expected to include State Treasurer Walker Stapleton and Arapahoe County District Attorney George Brauchler (in addition to a wealthy self-funder in former legislator Victor Mitchell). It’s also important to note that Coffman’s biggest financial backer in 2014 was the Republican Attorney General’s Association (RAGA), a group that obviously doesn’t care about the Colorado race for Governor.

Now, if Coffman could figure out a way to create an office of “Chief Troll” for Colorado, she’d have to be considered a frontrunner.