Michael Hancock Getting Ready Early for Third Term Campaign

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

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

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

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

If DPS Isn’t Reform-y Enough For Betsy DeVos, What The Hell Is?

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos.

Sarah Darville writes for Chalkbeat Colorado:

Earlier this month, U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos was praising Denver’s efforts to support school choice. Not today.

Speaking at the Brookings Institution Wednesday, she called out Denver as an example of a district that appears to be choice-friendly — but actually lacks sufficient options for families.

A new Brookings report gave the city the top score for school choice, citing the unified application process that allows families to consider charter and district-run schools at the same time.

But DeVos implied that without vouchers to pay for private schools (something Colorado’s state Supreme Court has twice ruled unconstitutional) and a sufficient supply of charter schools, Denver’s application process amounts to an optical illusion.

“The benefits of making choices accessible are canceled out when you don’t have a full menu of options,” she said, pointing to New Orleans as a better example of the choice ecosystem she’d like to see. “Choice without accessibility doesn’t matter. Just like accessibility without choices doesn’t matter. Neither scenario ultimately benefits students.”

As a reform-minded public school district responsible for a large and diverse urban population of students, Denver Public Schools has been on the front lines in the battle over “innovation” and school choice for a number of years. Battles over the district’s school choice programs and reform efforts in struggling DPS schools have made for bitter infighting between nominally allied liberal Democrats, and frequently sparked conflict between the school board and the district’s teachers.

With that said, there should be absolutely no daylight between the factions in Denver Public Schools when it comes to opposing private school vouchers, a question that has already been thoroughly explored by the Douglas County school district to the south of Denver. Colorado’s constitution explicitly prohibits public funding for religious schools, which has been repeatedly upheld by the state supreme court. The Brookings Institution’s report praising DPS for its accommodation of choice for parents shows that the district is doing everything it can be reasonably expected to do under state law.

And if that’s not good enough for Education Secretary Betsy “Amway U” DeVos, that only demonstrates how far she is from the mainstream–not Denver Public Schools.

Poll: Who Will Win The Denver DA Democratic Primary?

With the June 28th primary election now less than a week away, we’re rolling out informal polls for our readers in a number of races around the state. The Denver District Attorney’s Office, currently occupied by term-limited DA Mitch Morrissey, features an intense three-way Democratic primary between Kenneth Boyd, Michael Carrigan, and Beth McCann.

As with all of our polls, we’re interested in knowing who you actually think will win this election–not your personal preference.

Who will win the Denver DA Democratic primary?
Kenneth Boyd
Michael Carrigan
Beth McCann
View Result

Poll: Who Will Win The Democratic HD-3 Primary?

With the June 28th primary election now just a week away, we’re rolling out informal polls for our readers in a number of key races around the state. Highly competitive Colorado House District 3, presently held by Rep. Daniel Kagan, features a robust Democratic primary race between Jeff Bridges and Meg Froelich.

As with all of our polls, we’re interested in knowing who you actually think will win this election–not your personal preference.

Who will win the HD-3 Democratic primary?
Jeff Bridges
Meg Froelich
View Result

 

Poll: Who Will Win The Democratic HD-8 Primary?

With the June 28th primary election now just a week away, we’re rolling out informal polls for our readers in a number of key races around the state. Strongly Democratic Colorado House District 8, presently held by Denver DA candidate Beth McCann, features a closely-watched primary this year between Aaron Goldhamer and Leslie Herod.

As with all of our polls, we’re interested in knowing who you actually think will win this election–not your personal preference.

Who will win the HD-8 Democratic primary?
Aaron Goldhamer
Leslie Herod
View Result

 

Aurora School Board Member, House Candidate, Appears to be Spectacular Con Artist

UPDATE #3: Nelson for Colorado responds directly in the comments below….

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UPDATE #2: Rep. Rhonda Fields, who holds the HD-42 seat Eric Nelson is running for, calls for him to withdraw from the race and resign from the Aurora school board:

“Impersonating a military officer, violence against women, bigamy, dodging child support payments? This pattern of behavior is deeply disturbing to me, it’s unacceptable in a leader, it goes against everything Democrats stand for, and I believe the people of Aurora and the state of Colorado deserve better. Therefore, I call on Eric Nelson to immediately withdraw his candidacy for state representative and to resign his seat on the school board.”

—–

UPDATE: The “you know what” is hitting the proverbial fan in Aurora:

Meanwhile, Nelson’s Democratic Primary opponent in HD-42 — Dominique Jackson — is speaking out and taking the high road.

—–

While you were tucked all snug in your bed last evening, Ernest Luning of the Colorado Statesman was breaking a story that is so bizarre you’d be forgiven if you thought it was a fairy tale. Eric Nelson, a member of the Aurora School Board and a Democratic candidate for House District 42 (Aurora), is one hell of a con man:

This is Eric Nelson. As far as anyone else knows, anyway.

This is Eric Nelson. Or a man who calls himself Eric Nelson.

A member of the Aurora Public School Board and Democratic state House candidate who describes his occupation as “Life Visionary” appears to have taken his knack for self-invention to extreme heights, an investigation by The Colorado Statesman has revealed. [Pols emphasis]Eric Durane Nelson, 38, one of two Aurora Democrats in a primary for the House District 42 seat, was rebuked by the state Division of Insurance for lying about his criminal background — including domestic violence arrests spanning a decade — and was denied an application for another insurance license for “failure to demonstrate that you are competent, trustworthy and of good moral character.”

At another time, Nelson was married to two women at the same time, according to court documents.

Based on information uncovered by The Statesman, the organization that works to elect House Democrats on Monday said it is calling on Nelson to withdraw from the race and, in an unprecedented move, will endorse his primary opponent, Dominique Jackson. [Pols emphasis]

The HD 42 seat is currently represented by state Rep. Rhonda Fields, D-Aurora, who is term-limited and in a primary of her own against state Rep. Su Ryden, D-Aurora, for an open state Senate seat. Republican Mike Donald is running unopposed for the GOP nomination for the heavily Democratic House seat.

You really have to read the entire story yourself — it is an incredible tale of a career criminal and con man who talked his way into a position of being the top-line candidate on the June 28th Primary ballot. Just look at some of these examples:

Although the specifics of his claims have changed over the years, Nelson says he’s earned numerous advanced degrees — as many as seven have shown up on various resumés — including a master’s degree from a university that says he was never enrolled there.

Asked by The Statesman early Monday afternoon why the Northeastern University registrar’s office in Boston said the school had no record of him, Nelson promised to email copies of his diploma and academic records but six hours later hadn’t sent anything.

—–

In earlier versions of his resume, Nelson describes himself as an Air Force veteran and has also been fond of posting photographs of himself on social media in a captain’s uniform, despite having been an active duty member of the service for just eight weeks, according to Department of Defense documents.

The story is not without its victims, unfortunately. Luning writes that Nelson recently talked his way into a job leading a nonprofit called Angel Eyes, claiming to have a Master of Social Work degree. By the time other employees and volunteers realized the lie, he had nearly robbed them blind.

“We were thinking, this couldn’t be happening because he was so slick. But it just snowballed,” said a woman who works at Angel Eyes, a Cherry Creek-based organization that comes to the aid of parents who have lost an infant.

From a political perspective, House Democrats absolutely did the right thing by immediately calling on Nelson to drop out of the race, as well as endorsing a Primary opponent for the first time in the history of the House Majority Project. It is a pretty stark difference between Democrats and Republicans in Colorado in recent years, particularly when it comes to troublesome individual candidates or campaigns.

Republicans often spend days and weeks wringing their hands when bad eggs emerge and legislators make terrible comments without rebuke; they only seem to act when something is so egregious that virtually no member of the public at-large would disagree. The Nelson story is going to leave a lot of confused and angry Democrats — particularly those who endorsed his House candidacy — but this is a band-aid that needs to be pulled quickly.

“Both Ways Beth?” Denver DA Candidate Flips on Death Penalty

Beth McCann, left, appears to have changed her position on the death penalty to more closely resemble Michael Carrigan's stance on the issue.

Beth McCann, left, appears to have changed her position on the death penalty to more closely resemble Michael Carrigan’s stance on the issue.

The race for the Democratic nomination for Denver District Attorney is one of the more interesting battles to watch in Colorado this Primary season. Three candidates — Michael Carrigan, Beth McCann, and Kenneth Boyd — are running to replace outgoing, term-limited Denver D.A. Mitch Morrissey.

The winner of the June 28th Democratic Primary in Democrat-heavy Denver will almost certainly go on to wrap up the job in the General Election, which is particularly enticing because the Denver D.A. can serve three terms, for a total of 12 years, without ever really needing to worry about re-election efforts again. The Democratic Primary has been a heated affair thus far and has emerged as the single most expensive Primary race in the state (not counting federal races). University of Colorado Regent and attorney Michael Carrigan has long been considered the odds-on favorite in this race, which may help explain why State Rep. Beth McCann is flipping her position on a pretty major issue.

On Sunday the Denver Post ran a long comparison piece on the race that includes several answers to specific policy questions. Here’s how McCann and Carrigan responded to the following question:” The death penalty is seldom used in Denver. What is your position on the death penalty and when — if at all — would you find it appropriate to seek that punishment?”

Carrigan 

Carrigan will not seek the death penalty if elected.

“It’s inefficient, it’s expensive, it prolongs the process and is something that is not practiced in the industrialized world,” Carrigan said.

 

McCann

McCann will not seek the death penalty if elected.

“I would not bring it because I don’t believe in it,” McCann said. “I don’t think the state should be in the business of killing people.” [Pols emphasis]

 

The problem here is that McCann’s statement that she would refuse to seek the death penalty is not what she has been saying on the campaign trail for 18 months. Here’s what McCann said about the death penalty in a September story for Law Week – September 2015 (PDF file):

I am personally opposed to the death penalty, and I voted in the legislature to repeal it. But it is the law, and as the DA, you are bound by the law. [Pols emphasis] So I suppose there might be an awful, horrific case where I might file, but it would have to be egregious.

By contrast, here’s Carrigan’s answer to the Law Week question:

I’m against the death penalty. It’s expensive and inefficient, and it’s not something that should continue. If I was elected DA, I would support a repeal.

In a February 2016 forum in House District 8, McCann expanded a little on her previous answer regarding the death penalty (skip ahead to about the 20 minute mark for McCann’s answer).

I am opposed to it. I need to make that very clear…Now, that said, we do have a victim’s rights act…I believe, in deference to people who have lost a child, lost a mother, lost a family member, in the most heinous of circumstances.

That if i’m the DA, I at least owe that family the right to sit down and talk to them. I’m not going to bring the death penalty — I’ll explain my thinking and reasoning to them…but I owe them that courtesy…

And I wonder what other laws Mr. Carrigan would disregard? Because if he doesn’t like the law, then he is just not going to apply it? That is not what the oath is for the District Attorney. You take an oath to uphold the law. So I believe that I would have to respect that.” [Pols emphasis]

Okay, so McCann does not believe in the death penalty and would not seek the death penalty if elected District Attorney…but she would pretend to be open to the idea so that families could tell their side of the story (even though McCann already made up her mind).  McCann concludes her answer by criticizing Carrigan for “disregarding” laws — which she just said she would do herself — as a way of attacking Carrigan’s much simpler answer that he would not pursue the death penalty, period.

The death penalty, as Gov. John Hickenlooper well knows, is not an issue with much room in the middle. You are either against the death penalty or in favor of the death penalty, and the more you try to massage your answer one way or the other, the more confusing your position becomes. McCann can’t very well say now that she would just flat-out refuse to seek the death penalty after nearly a year of equivocating.

Dear Candidates: Proofread Your Websites

Running for office is exhausting, time-killing, and sometimes soul-crushing — and that’s just for those candidates who don’t make ridiculous errors.

We stumbled across the “About the Candidate” link for Elet Valentine, one of three Democrats seeking to win a Primary in HD-7 (Northeast Denver), and…wow.

We really don’t know much about this race or the other candidates seeking the office, but we are confident about one thing: Elet Valentine should proofread her website. Also, it’s never a good idea to shift between first-person and third-person perspectives when discussing your own biography:

From EValentineForStateRep.com

Actual screenshot from EValentineForStateRep.com

Denver DA Candidate Michael Carrigan Debuts Unique TV Ad

If you spend any time watching politics in the United States, the chances are pretty good that you’ve seen just about every variation of a campaign advertisement that there is to see. But every now and then, a TV ad pops up that looks a little different than the rest…like this ad for Denver District Attorney candidate Michael Carrigan titled “Kid Pile”:

Carrigan’s “Kid Pile” ad is presented in a “vertical” format — both on television and online — which is intended to look like something that could have been shot on a cellphone (when the ad appears on television, it is centered between two bars of black space just like a cellphone video might appear). It’s an interesting approach to a campaign ad that should help catch the attention of viewers who are starting to be barraged with TV advertisements for various other campaigns.

Carrigan is the favorite to win the Democratic Primary for Denver DA on June 28th, which essentially serves as the general election in Democratic-heavy Denver. The “Kid Pile” ad is part of an ad buy on TV and online that will exceed $200k. Fellow candidates Beth McCann and Kenneth Boyd are also on the air (or were on the air) with TV buys of only a few thousand dollars apiece.

A Few Words on that Child Abuser/DPS Board Appointee

standholmes

MiDian Holmes.

MiDian Holmes.

We wanted to make sure the recent controversy on the Denver Public Schools board, in which a newly-appointed school board member connected to the corporate-backed education “reform” group Stand for Children was exposed in the media as having been convicted of child abuse, didn’t get too far in the rear-view mirror without a mention. Eric Gorski and Melanie Asmar at Chalkbeat Colorado reported last Thursday:

MiDian Holmes announced on her Facebook page Thursday night that she would not accept her appointment to the Denver school board, saying she did not want to be a distraction after details of a misdemeanor child abuse conviction became public…

In 2005, she was charged with “wrongs to minors” in violation of the Denver municipal code. Documents explaining what led to the charge were not immediately available. Holmes was sentenced to a year of probation, after which the case was dismissed.

In 2006, she was charged with child abuse in violation of state law. Documents reveal that Holmes left her three young children — age 7, 6 and 2 — home alone for more than eight hours while she was at work. She pleaded guilty to misdemeanor child abuse and again was sentenced to probation.

FOX 31 reported more details from MiDian Holmes’ second child abuse case, which Holmes was reportedly not completely honest about with the DPS board that appointed her:

(more…)

Update on Petitions from Denver Candidates

FRIDAY UPDATE: Kudos to Fry for her classy response on failing to make the ballot. From an email sent today:

1000 valid signatures were needed,
5,000 doors were knocked,
926 signatures qualified;

I am proud to say, not one signature collected, or door knocked, was done by paid staff or paid canvassers.

My campaign was grassroots through and through. Powered by me, my family and many, many volunteers.  My gratitude runs deep and I continue to be greatly humbled by the support I received over this last year.

I will not dwell on what could have been, but instead thank each and every one of you for the trust and confidence you placed in my candidacy.

Speak up, speak out loud, speak often

—–

The Colorado Secretary of State’s office announced today that two candidates seeking to make the Primary ballot in Denver ended up with different results.

Erin Bennett had her petition signatures certified today, which means she will be on the June 28th Primary ballot in SD-31 (State Sen. Pat Steadman is term-limited). Bennett joins Steve Sherick and Lois Court on the SD-31 ballot (Sherick and Court made the ballot via the caucus process).

Things did not work out as well for Michele Fry, a Democrat seeking to fill the HD-6 seat of Rep. Lois Court (who is term-limited, which is why she’s running for SD-31). Fry submitted 1,013 signatures — just a tad more than the 1,000 required for ballot access — but 87 of her signatures were rejected, thus keeping her off the June ballot. Democrat Mark McIntosh is also attempting to onto the ballot but has not yet had his signatures verified by the Secretary of State’s office. Democrats Jeff Hart and Chris Hansen made the HD-6 ballot through the caucus process.

Carrigan Claims Top Ballot Spot for Denver DA

Michael Carrigan speaks at Denver Democrats' County Convention on Saturday, March 26.

Michael Carrigan speaks at Denver Democrats’ County Convention on Saturday, March 26.

Campaigns for district attorney have been providing plenty of surprises this caucus season. Two weeks ago, Caryn Datz pulled a surprise upset at the Judicial District 17 Assembly, scooping up 74% of the vote from delegates and keeping (for now, at least) incumbent District Attorney Dave Young from even appearing on the June 28 ballot.

On Saturday in Denver, the crowded race for District Attorney provided another surprising result: Michael Carrigan emerged from the Denver Democrats’ Assembly with topline on the Primary ballot, beating out Democratic Rep. Beth McCann with more than 50% of the vote.

We’ve long written in this space that Carrigan is a strong favorite to win the Democratic nomination for District Attorney (the winner of the Democratic Primary in Denver will almost assuredly go on to win the General Election) because he is a dogged campaigner — he’s been campaigning for essentially two years now — who leads all challengers in fundraising and endorsements by a wide margin. The one place where McCann should have had a natural advantage was within the caucus process itself, where she entered Saturday’s assembly with somewhere in the neighborhood of 33% of Democratic caucus attendees.

Are you SURE one of these roads will eventually take me through the Primary?

Are you SURE one of these roads will eventually take me through the Primary?

Losing at the caucus doesn’t necessarily portend bad things in the Primary. In the 2004 race for Denver DA, McCann bested Mitch Morrissey at the Democratic convention and went on to get pummeled in the Primary by…yes, Morrissey himself. But Carrigan’s big caucus victory is important because it essentially blocks off the last clear path for anyone else to win the Democratic Primary (Kenneth Boyd of the Denver DA’s office is also in the race, but is petitioning onto the ballot). McCann isn’t going to catch Carrigan in fundraising or endorsements, and based on the effectiveness of Carrigan’s ground game over the last few weeks, she won’t have an advantage there, either.

The last full fundraising quarter for this race wraps up in a few weeks, so there aren’t a lot of opportunities left for McCann or Boyd to really outshine Carrigan (it doesn’t help that neither McCann nor Boyd are operating with campaign managers for the time being). There’s still time for something interesting to happen that might change the dynamic of this race, but as it looks today, Carrigan seems to have blocked off every conceivable path to victory for anyone not named Michael Carrigan.

Hancock Backs Carrigan in Race for Denver District Attorney

Denver Mayor Michael Hancock poses with Michael Carrigan.

Denver Mayor Michael Hancock poses with Denver DA candidate Michael Carrigan.

Denver Mayor Michael Hancock on Wednesday endorsed Michael Carrigan for Denver District Attorney. Carrigan is one of three Democrats running for the seat being vacated by the term-limited Mitch Morrissey.

From a press release:

Mayor Michael Hancock today announced that he is endorsing the only candidate in the Denver District Attorneys’ race who has experience as a prosecutor, defense attorney and private sector attorney – Michael Carrigan.

“Michael Carrigan is hands down Denver’s best choice for our next District Attorney,” said Mayor Hancock. “He is a skilled lawyer, active community member and strong leader with the legal experience needed to ensure justice for Denver’s residents. I am confident Michael will bring a balanced perspective to the DA’s office to help make Denver a safer, better place.”

The press release does not mention an interesting factual tidbit about Hancock’s endorsement: This is the first time that a sitting Mayor of Denver has endorsed a candidate for Denver District Attorney in at least 20 years. Some of this has to do with weird timing for both the Mayoral and DA races; Denver’s Mayor is chosen in a municipal election, but District Attorney is technically a “state race,” which puts it on the ballot in a General Election year.

As is normally the case here, Democrats will all but decide who becomes Denver’s next DA in the June Primary. There is an Independent candidate seeking the office, but running against a Democrat in Denver is kind of like being a Raiders fan on Sundays.

Emily’s List Endorses Meg Froelich for Colorado House

MEDIA RELEASE

Date 1/20/15

Contact: Meg Froelich, (720)570-6337 meg@froeforco.com

Kulsoom Jafri, (202)419-1056, kjafri@emilyslist.org

 

 

EMILY’s List Endorses Meg Froelich for Colorado House District 3

Three million member group to lend communications and financial support

 

 

GREENWOOD VILLAGE, COLO. – Longtime Arapahoe County leader Meg Froelich was endorsed today by EMILY’s List in her campaign for Colorado House District 3 including Cherry Hills, Englewood, Greenwood Village and Sheridan. EMILY’s List is the nation’s largest resource for women in politics.

 

Meg Froelich has proven that she will be a strong advocate and strategic leader for the district through her work as Greenwood City councilwoman and NARAL Pro-Choice Colorado board member and interim executive director,” said Lucinda Guinn, EMILY’s List Vice President of Campaigns. “The EMILY’s List community is delighted to devote our resources to elect Meg, a strong supporter of gender equality, women’s reproductive rights, and health care for all.”

 

EMILY’s List works to elect pro-choice Democratic women to national, state and local office so families in Colorado and across the nation can benefit from the open-minded, productive contributions that women have consistently made in office. EMILY’s List began in 1985 and elected Barbara Mikulski in 1986 as the first woman US Senator in her own right. With three million members, the organization has helped elect more than 800 women to elected office.

 

“I’ve lived, worked, and raised kids in Arapahoe County for many years, and I’ve seen the struggles and needs of the families here, especially working women. As a longtime advocate for equal pay for equal work, paid sick leave and reproductive rights, I’m honored to have the support of EMILY’s List in my race for House District 3,” said candidate Meg Froelich. “These are woman’s issues and family issues – core values of fairness and opportunity we share as Coloradans. We need an economy that works for everyone, including a diverse district like this one. And as the representative for the families in HD3, I will fight to make that happen.”

 

 

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