Don’t let 80,000 Coloradans down

The following is from Dr. Christine Gilroy of Colorado Health OP:

“I am writing to explain what you will see in the news in the next few days.

The feds have quietly been shutting down co-ops in other states over the last 3 months. New York and Nevada were most recent. I am speaking now, as they have since issued gag orders to these co-ops.

The reason these co-ops were closed was that they were successful in the Individual Market. New York had 200,000 members.

Start up insurance requires 3 years to build Risk Based Capital. Starting Co-ops required an initial start-up loan, the feds promised second year funds to Risk Based Capital, which they reneged on in the CROMNIBUS budget of 12/9/14.

They told us at the same time we could not accept Venture Capital loans or Angel Investor dollars that help other start-ups through their initial capitalization period.

The Feds also promised to support the new individual market for 2 years through Reinsurance of the Risk Corridors. This meant that insurance companies would be incentivized to take all comers through the exchanges, and more insurance companies would participate to dilute the risk.

Today they broke their promise to Colorado, and denied us the Risk Corridor funds we were promised. They offered 12%. This affects every company that participated in the individual exchanges, not just Colorado HealthOP. Colorado HealthOP only needed 35% risk payment, and would have required no further infusions of federal money to be profitable in 2016, and are currently on track to pay back our loans — with interest –before they were due.

Short-sighted partisan politics are harming the people of Colorado.

The ACA was successful in lowering individual health premiums throughout Colorado. The Colorado HealthOP is part of that.

Please, call your Congresspeople. 80,000 Coloradans rely on Colorado HealthOP to provide access to affordable care. Let’s make sure they keep their promises to the people of this state.

DeGette Skipping Bibi Netanyahu’s Speech

Benjamin Netanyahu.

Benjamin Netanyahu.

Controversy is building in Washington over an address to Congress by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu scheduled for March 3rd–just weeks before Israeli elections, and not invited by President Barack Obama as a breach of diplomatic protocol. Netanyahu's address, pertaining to negotiations with Iran over that country's nuclear program, is controversial in Israel for the same reason, with a majority of Israeli voters saying the speech should be cancelled. Reuters:

The speech has caused controversy in Israel and the United States, where the Democrats and the White House are angry that the Republican speaker, John Boehner, invited Netanyahu to speak at a sensitive time in the nuclear negotiations between Iran and six big powers including Washington, and only two weeks before Israel's closely fought March 17 election.

Following complaints from opposition parties, election chief Salim Joubran decided that Netanyahu's address should be broadcast with a five-minute delay in Israel, giving news editors time to cut any statements deemed partisan…

President Barack Obama, at odds with Netanyahu over the Israeli prime minister's criticism of the nuclear talks, will not meet him during his visit, saying it is a breach of protocol to receive a foreign leader before an election.

As of now, most members of Colorado's delegation reportedly plan to attend Netanyahu's speech, including all the Republicans, Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet, and Rep. Jared Polis. Rep. Ed Perlmutter hasn't made a public announcement yet. The one Colorado representative who has said she will not attend Netanyahu's speech is…well, we just gave it away, it's Rep. Diana DeGette. Rep. DeGette has a scheduling conflict on March 3rd:

Congresswoman DeGette will not be able to attend Prime Minister Netanyahu’s speech. She has had a long-standing scheduling commitment that morning to address a clinical research group about her 21st Century Cures initiative, and we just learned this morning that the Prime Minister’s speech is scheduled for 11:00, which creates a conflict for her.

Other than a highly one-sided report in the Boulder Jewish News, DeGette's decision to not attend Netanyahu's address hasn't received much press. We expect that will change as long as the speech isn't cancelled, that others will be given many chances to comment, and that Rep. Perlmutter's decision whether or not to attend will be closely watched. It's a longstanding presumption in American politics that categorical public support for Israel is mandatory for any real political viability. The problem with this address to a Republican-dominated Congress is that Netanyahu is making a partisan issue out of something that historically hasn't been. And it's forcing a conflict of loyalties that American supporters of Israel haven't been made to reckon with.

In Israel, Netanyahu has been roundly criticized even by some of his right-wing allies, mostly for appearing to put his ties to the Republican Party ahead of the close relationship Israel has always had with the United States. [Pols emphasis]

It should be noted that attending a speech is not the same thing as agreeing with it. But insofar as Netanyahu is involving Colorado politicians in Israeli domestic politics without their consent, we're obliged to point out that not every friend of Israel is a Likudnik.

Or, for that matter, a Republican.

The Folly of Denver’s Residential Requirements Effort

There is an effort underway in Denver to re-establish a degree of residency requirement that may appear on the May 2015 ballot. This is a stupid idea, for reasons that we'll explain in a moment. But first, we'll let Jon Murray of the Denver Post explain the trumped-up controversy:

Denver voters long ago repealed a requirement that city workers live within city limits, but a group of residents is working to revive the rule for mayoral appointees.

They're aiming to place a charter amendment on the ballot for next May's municipal election, when Mayor Michael Hancock is up for re-election...

…For about 20 years, landlocked Denver had the rule for all city employees, from top political appointees to janitors.

But in 1998, Denver voters decided, 58 percent to 41 percent, to expand the residency rule significantly, allowing city employees to live not only in Denver, but also in six nearby counties.

In 2001, Denver voters repealed the residency requirement altogether, 51 percent to 48 percent.

SWDenver-Map2

You’re not in Denver anymore. Or are you?

The editorial board of the Denver Post weighed in over the weekend, calling the residency requirement "a step too far" and "unnecessary," and we wholeheartedly agree with this sentiment. We have no problem with requiring elected officials to live in the area in which they seek to represent, but there's a good reason that Denver scrapped this requirement for city workers in general.

Denver's City and County boundaries evolved in a weird way over the last century, which you can see from the map at right. There are official Denver tentacles that stretch wayyy outside reasonable boundaries, with little pockets of the City and County existing as municipal islands in the middle of Jefferson County.

The reason that Denver County juts well past Sheridan to the Southwest is because old residency requirements once required all city employees — including those working for the fire and police departments — to live within official Denver boundaries. As Metro Denver grew into the vast sprawl that exists today, many of these Denver employees wanted to move into newer, and more affordable, developments popping up in nearby unincorporated Jefferson County.

As a workaround solution so that Denver employees could keep their jobs and their new homes, odd sections of land were annexed into Denver — the metropolitan mountain moving to Muhammad, to borrow a phrase. This is a middle finger to the entire argument in favor of residential requirements, which is the idea that City and County employees will be more attuned to the needs and desires of Denver so long as you extend a boundary on a map.

Today, these neighborhoods are so far removed from the City and County of Denver that residents spend most of their lives (and money) in Jefferson County, even if their property taxes go somewhere else. Denver residents wisely voted to drop the requirements in 1991, but now some folks want to reestablish these requirements for mayoral appointees for petty reasons. This is a slippery slope that can quickly become problematic as more and more levels of local government get obsessed with the relevance of residency. Employees of Jefferson County are not required to live within the county boundaries, nor should they be. We can only imagine how it would stifle diversity if we required all government employees to live in specific areas.

The Denver Metropolitan Area is more than just the boundaries of its capitol city…and that's a good thing. If you don't like a particular mayoral appointee, then you can take it up with the Mayor's office; requiring an employee to move into the dotted-line sections of a map isn't going to change anything.

 

Big Line Updates: Democrats Appear to Have Slight Advantage

As Election Day gets closer and closer, we're updating The Big Line on a weekly basis. Remember: Percentages listed indicate our view of the win/loss outcome only (we are not attempting to guess margin of victory).

You can always access the full Big Line 2014, but below we provide a bit more detail about our thoughts on various races.
 

U.S. SENATE
Mark Udall (62%)
Cory Gardner (38%)
Senator Mark Udall has seen his momentum slow down of late, but that probably has more to do with the natural tightening of this race as October draws near. Public polling in Colorado has become about as reliable as a Ouija Board, though if the final outcome is within the general margin of error of most voter surveys, the data is largely irrelevant anyway. For Congressman Cory Gardner, the one thing that has yet to change remains his biggest problem: He just has too many bad votes on too many important issues. Gardner's campaign also seems to have no idea how to go after Udall effectively; they've been changing tactics like the rest of us change socks.

When all is said and done (or insert cliche of your choice), we always come back to the same question: If you had to gamble everything you had on predicting the winner of this race, would you really choose Gardner?

Neither would we.

 

GOVERNOR
John Hickenlooper (60%)
Bob Beauprez (40%)

This race continues to be one of the stranger contests we can remember because of its relatively low profile. Republican Bob Beauprez hasn't run a particularly strong, or interesting, campaign thus far — but perhaps it's enough to ask that his campaign doesn't crater as completely as it did in 2006. Governor John Hickenlooper, meanwhile, has been largely invisible for the last few months. No matter how you look at the race, it's hard to envision Beauprez actually ending up in the Governor's Mansion.

 

ATTORNEY GENERAL
Cynthia Coffman (51%)
Don Quick (49%)
We've had Quick at the top of the Line for a very long time, so what's different? Nothing, really. In fact, it will be hard (post-election) to explain the outcome of this race no matter what happens in November. If this race were taking place in a bubble, we'd give the edge to Quick. But if Democrats win seats for Senate and Governor, history suggests that voters will split their ballot and pick Republicans for other statewide spots.

 

CD-6
Andrew Romanoff (55%)
Mike Coffman (45%)
There may still be a "Coffman" in elected office come January; for the first time in 25 years, we don't think it will be Mike. In their third debate of the campaign, Democrat Andrew Romanoff completely demolished Congressman Mike Coffman. One debate does not a campaign make (or something like that), but the momentum in this race is unmistakably on the side of Romanoff. Coffman's campaign has been insisting that their guy is ahead in internal polling numbers — just don't ask for proof.


Check out the full Big Line 2014 or comment below.

 

Big Line Updates; Now, with Percentages!

We have occasionally changed the appearance of The Big Line from representing fractional odds to presenting percentages. It's a matter of preference, of course, but as Election Day nears and Colorado Pols attracts more and new readers, we figured now would be a good time to switch again to percentages.

Here's what we're currently thinking as to the main movers in the top races in Colorado. For the first time this cycle, we've also added Lines for State Senate and State House majorities, respectively.

U.S. SENATE
Mark Udall (65%)
Cory Gardner (35%)

Gardner has been throwing multiple messages at the wall of late, which is typically the sign of a campaign that doesn't feel confident in the direction it is headed. There's a saying in football that if you are rotating more than one quarterback into the game, then you don't really have a quarterback. If you're a Gardner fan, this is a very difficult question to answer: What is his path to victory here?

 

GOVERNOR
John Hickenlooper (68%)
Bob Beauprez (32%)

While there has never been a point in this race where it really felt like Gov. Hickenlooper was in trouble, Hick has made enough errors that it has provided Beauprez with an opportunity. Still, Beauprez can't win just by running a decent race; if Hick stops his stumble, there's not enough room for Beauprez to squeeze past in November.
 

ATTORNEY GENERAL, STATE TREASURER, SECRETARY OF STATE
With so much money going into races for the U.S. Senate and CD-6, there will be little oxygen left in the room for candidates in the other statewide races after Governor. It's difficult to tell at this stage whether any of the candidates will be able to do enough to make their own luck.
 

CD-6 (Aurora-ish)
Andrew Romanoff (54%)
Mike Coffman (46%)

We wrote earlier about our belief that Countdown Coffman is underway following incumbent Rep. Coffman's boorish behavior in last week's debates. We've been hearing consistent buzz that Romanoff is now rising steadily while Coffman seeks the momentum he needs to prevent a complete collapse.
 

STATE SENATE MAJORITY
DEMOCRATS (55%)
REPUBLICANS (45%)

We usually wait until this point in the cycle to attempt handicapping state legislative outcomes, but our analysis is similar to what we anticipated in the aftermath of the June Primary. Tea Party victories in two key Senate districts (SD-19 and SD-22) make winning the majority an uphill battle for Republicans.


STATE HOUSE MAJORITY
DEMOCRATS (75%)
REPUBLICANS (25%)

The ballot wasn't even completely settled until recently, but the direction of this battle has been clear for some time. Republicans have had difficulty even finding candidates for 2014; the GOP will be lucky not to lose a seat or two at this point.


Check out the full Big Line 2014 or comment below.

Gardner: Insurance Website Troubles A Big Fat Conspiracy

Rep. Cory Gardner (R).

Rep. Cory Gardner (R).

Federal contractors responsible for the so-far notoriously glitchy HealthCare.gov, the health insurance marketplace website set up under the Affordable Care Act to provide insurance options in states that chose not to set up a site themselves, today testified before the GOP-controlled House Energy and Commerce Committee. They were there to answer for the considerable trouble the federal exchange site has experienced since launch–far more than in states like Colorado who built our own insurance exchanges. As Politico reports, both Republicans and Democrats had pointed questions about the federal exchange website's embarrassing failures:

Diana DeGette of Colorado agreed. “I want to stress that for the Affordable Care Act to work, these problems need to be fixed, and these problems need to be fixed fast,” she said. “We need to see clear examples of improvement, and we need a timeline for when it will be functional.”

While some Republicans had constructive questions, others couldn't resist taking political potshots that had more to do with their longstanding dogmatic opposition to health care reform that the subject at hand. Some veered into the downright silly with their (to put it mildly) highly speculative conclusions. We're sorry to report that includes Rep. Cory Gardner of Colorado:

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Obama Asks Congress For Permission To Bomb Syria

UPDATE: CBS4 Denver has a new report on fresh skepticism from Rep. Mike Coffman today, including an interesting new possible GOP line of attack: should Obama not have gone to Congress then?

Coffman says the delay in striking Assad has wasted precious time.

“The Assad government has had all the time in the world to move their assets around so they don’t present themselves as easy targets,” he said. [Pols emphasis]

Coffman is not gung-ho for a strike. Not until it’s proven to him it would not lead to a protracted military engagement. He also wonders if Assad is chased from power, what then?

This wouldn't be the first time President Obama has been damned if he does and damned if he doesn't, of course.

—–

US Navy photo

US Navy photo

As the Washington Post reports:

Syria on Sunday gloated over a "historic American retreat," deriding President Barack Obama for his decision to delay what had appeared to be imminent military strikes and dealing a further blow to U.S. credibility among the Syrian opposition and its allies.

The announcement Saturday by Obama that he would seek congressional approval for any U.S. military intervention in Syria, effectively pushing back any potential strike for at least 10 days, was seized upon by Syrian officials and state media, presenting it as a victory for the regime…

Back on the home front, there's bipartisan support in the Colorado congressional delegation for President Barack Obama's choice to seek congressional approval ahead of any military action by the United States against Syria, though from our read of the statements issued by lawmakers, considerably less evident appetite for actually going to war. Colorado Springs Gazette:

Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet and Reps. Doug Lamborn and Scott Tipton, applauded the president's plan to put the matter before Congress.

"I approve of the president consulting with Congress and seeking congressional support on this important issue. I will be gathering many facts before making any decision," Lamborn, a Colorado Springs Republican, wrote in an email to The Gazette.

Bennet, a Democrat, also stressed in a statement to The Gazette the need for Congress to weigh its options carefully.

"Syria's use of chemical weapons is deplorable. Congress will review the evidence presented by the administration and hold a serious debate about options," he wrote. "We must consider the enormous challenges in the region and the complexity of the situation that includes a military already stretched thin, a nation in civil war, and a region in transition."

9NEWS carried reaction from Rep. Ed Perlmutter and Jared Polis: 

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Colorado House Republicans Unite…To Pass Abortion Ban

Politico:

The House Tuesday passed a bill that would ban most abortions nationwide after 20 weeks. The most far-reaching abortion legislation in the House in a decade, it was passed 228-196, mostly along party lines.

The vote is largely symbolic: The bill will be dead on arrival in the Senate. And the White House has already threatened to veto the “fetal pain” legislation, which is based on the controversial assertion that a fetus can feel pain at that stage of development…

Anti-abortion Republicans are hoping to capitalize on public outrage about Philadelphia abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell’s murder trial, which captured national headlines. Franks’s original bill was crafted to outlaw late term abortions in Washington, D.C., and it failed in the House last year under a procedure that needed a two-thirds vote for passage. But the Gosnell verdict sparked outrage and reinvigorated activists, and a few days after the conviction Franks broadened his legislation to apply nationwide.

Opposing it, Democrats supporting abortion rights are stoking liberal anger over the “war on women” and chiding the GOP for spending its time on a divisive social agenda instead of focusing on jobs. They said the bill is unconstitutional and distracting.

The Los Angeles Times has response from Democrats including Rep. Diana DeGette of Denver:

“I thought we had established this last fall with the election. Americans are tired of Congress taking up extreme and divisive legislation targeted at women’s health,” Rep. Diana DeGette (D-Colo.) said at a news conference before the vote. “Many of our Republican colleagues don’t seem to have gotten that message.” [Pols emphasis]

A recent Gallup poll found that Americans’ views on abortion had changed little after the Gosnell trial, with 78% saying it should be legal under certain circumstances, compared with 20% who said it should be illegal in all circumstances.

All four Colorado House Republicans, Reps. Scott Tipton, Mike Coffman, Cory Gardner, and Doug Lamborn voted for this abortion ban bill. Rep. Lamborn went a fully expected step further and signed on as a co-sponsor. Take note of Rep. Tipton vote for this bill, as he has usually shied away from abortion controversies during his time in office, and could face a woman opponent in 2014–making this a vote that could come back to haunt him. Perhaps even more interesting is Rep. Coffman's vote in favor–not that it's all that surprising, since Coffman was a co-sponsor of Rep. Todd Akin's "legitimate rape" bill, 2011's H.R. 3. But this was an opportunity for Coffman to include reproductive choice in the slate of issues he is "reinventing" himself around, setting himself up as the moderate swing-district New Coffman®.

But much like his recent vote against DREAMers, Old Coffman appears to be the "decider." And as for the very good advice given to all Republicans after 2012's defeats, to steer clear of base-pleasing but otherwise self injurious social wedge issues? Now you have their answer, folks.

The Big Line Updated

Head on over and take a look at the updated version of The Big Line.

There aren't a lot of changes at the top, but the races for Attorney General and Secretary of State look plenty different.

Colorado Pols Big Line

The Big Line Updated

With the 2013 legislative session behind us, we've updated The Big Line with our latest projections. Of note:

  • It looks more and more as though Republican Scott Gessler will run for Governor rather than Secretary of State (as we suggested last year), so we've moved his line "off" the board for SOS.
  • With Gessler off the board, the race for SOS is anybody's guess. Maybe Democrat Ken Gordon will arise from his five-month slumber, or perhaps there will even be a Joe Neguse sighting. Either way, the big news will be if Jefferson County Clerk & Recorder Pam Anderson decides to enter the race, as expected.
  • There aren't any real scenarios whereby Democratic Sen. Mark Udall does not get re-elected, so we've adjusted his odds accordingly.
  • We've changed CD-6 to make Democrat Andrew Romanoff a slight favorite over Republican Rep. Mike Coffman. Romanoff is off to a strong start, and the DCCC seems particularly enthused about a race Democrats probably should have won in 2012.

All-Night Celebration As Civil Unions Law Takes Effect

simonstheshot
"The shot": Fran and Anna Simon kiss after their civil union ceremony. Photo by Evan Semon, Out Front Colorado

If you were part of last night's partying related to the first legal civil union ceremonies for LGBT couples in the state of Colorado, chances are you're not even awake yet (unless you haven't gone to bed). But here's a roundup of initial coverage on the first day of the Colorado Civil Union Act in effect.

Much more after the jump…

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Fundraising Reports for Colorado Congressional Candidates

The Q1 fundraising numbers are now available for all of Colorado's Congressional candidates. We've laid things out in a handy table format below, organized by total amount of cash on hand. Numbers in red indicate that the candidate spent more money in Q1 than he or she raised during the same period.

Candidate Office Q1 Raised Q1 Spent Cash on Hand
Andrew Romanoff (D) CD-6 $514,477 $21,786 $492,691
Rep. Cory Gardner (R) CD-4 $92,674 $93,201 $464,674
Rep. Mike Coffman (R) CD-6 $519,033 $135,175 $391,691
Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D) CD-7 $300,214 $106,695 $225,726
Rep. Scott Tipton (R) CD-3 $134,162 $59,509 $211,199
Rep. Jared Polis (D) CD-2 $97,742 $80,492 $42,626
Rep. Diana DeGette (D) CD-1 $79,658 $111,036 $27,944
Rep. Doug Lamborn (R) CD-5 $30,000 $58,735 $22,368

 

A Few (More) Words on Gun Gaffes and Double Standards

Conservatives across the nation are gleefully pouncing on another Colorado Democrat who said something stupid during the debate over guns. In clearer terms than previous incidents, this latest gaffe from Rep. Diana DeGette, as we'll explain, could be the worst one yet from any Democrat. Huffington Post reports as charitably as can be:

Rep. Diana DeGette (D-Colo.) is feeling the heat from gun advocates after offering a confusing argument for a federal ban on high-capacity magazines that she has twice sponsored.

Speaking at a Denver Post forum on gun control Tuesday, DeGette pushed for legislation that would prohibit the future sale of ammunition-loading devices that hold more than 10 bullets. Noting that Colorado had recently passed a ban on magazines capable of holding more than 15 rounds, DeGette suggested existing devices that are grandfathered into the laws would lose functionality after being used.

"I will tell you these are ammunition, they’re bullets, so the people who have those now they’re going to shoot them, so if you ban them in the future, the number of these high-capacity magazines is going to decrease dramatically over time because the bullets will have been shot and there won’t be any more available,” she said, according to the Denver Post.

Alright, so, we can start by agreeing that this is one of the dumbest things we have heard in the debate over gun safety legislation from either party at any level. As anyone who has ever handled (or even seen a photo of) a magazine-fed firearm in their lives knows, they are very much reusable, not at all like "ammunition" which is expended, and though it's true that the point of the magazine limit is to reduce the availability of these magazines over time, it's not because "the bullets will have been shot." If you have even the most casual understanding of the issue, and you did not cringe when Rep. DeGette uttered these nonsensical words, you weren't paying attention.

And we're sorry to tell you, folks: it gets even worse.

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