Get More Smarter on Friday (January 13)

Superstitions like “Friday the 13th” seem like they belong in a simpler time — when reality wasn’t so scary. It’s time to Get More Smarter with Colorado Pols. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of a visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show.

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

►As the Obamacare repeal-and-we-swear-we-have-a-plan-for-replacement debate rages on in Congress, Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) is finally getting a bit more attention from local media outlets. Gardner is fully onboard with plans to repeal Obamacare – replacement be damned — and is doing his best to pretend that his constituents in Colorado actually want this mess…nevermind the fact that constituents are not able to get through to Gardner’s office at all. As the Associated Press reports today, Senate Republicans still seem to be no closer to even having a plan for replacement.

Polling results are continually showing that repealing Obamacare without a replacement in place is HUGELY UNPOPULAR with Americans. From The Hill:

Only 18 percent of voters think Congress and President-elect Donald Trump should fully repeal ObamaCare, a new poll released Thursday finds.

Another 47 percent said only some of ObamaCare should be repealed, while 31 percent said it should be left untouched.

According to a separate poll from NPR/Ipsos, only 14% of Americans support repealing Obamacare without a replacement plan in place. 

 

► When President-elect Donald Trump is inaugurated next week, he will assume office as the most unpopular incoming President in modern history. From “The Fix”:

Just four in ten people polled by Gallup say they approve of the way Trump is handling his transition — a stand-in for presidential approval in this odd three-month interregnum.  Those are the lowest marks ever measured by Gallup for an incoming president. They are also half — yes HALF — as high as the 83 percent of people who approved of how then President-elect Barack Obama handled his own transition in late 2008/early 2009.  And Trump’s numbers even track well below those of George W. Bush, whose transition was cut short by an extended recount that left lots of the country unconvinced that he had actually won! [Pols emphasis]

Wow. Worse than Dubya?

The Colorado Springs Independent has a handy list of local events related to the January 20th Inauguration.

 

► In his State of the State address on Thursday, Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper called on the legislature to ask voters to approve a tax hike for transportation and infrastructure needs.

“We’ve had this debate for too long. If talk could fill potholes, we’d have the best roads in the country.”

 

 

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

The State of the 2018 Governor’s Race

Who wants to follow this routine?

It’s that time of year in an off-year election cycle when the rumors and name-dropping are coming from every direction. On the same day that Gov. John Hickenlooper delivered his State of the State address, we thought it would be a good time to takes a look at what we’re seeing, reading, and hearing when it comes to jockeying for Colorado’s top job in 2018…

 

IN THE RACE
Noel Ginsburg (D)
As of this writing, there are seven candidates who have officially filed with the Secretary of State’s office to run for governor in 2018. Ginsburg is the only relevant name here; the other six are just gadflies who apparently think it would be fun to run for governor. We’ve written a bit about Ginsburg already, though it’s far too early to gauge whether the Denver businessman can really make a dent in this race.

 

NOT YET “OFFICIAL,” BUT DEFINITELY RUNNING
George Brauchler (R)
Walker Stapleton (R)
Cary Kennedy (D)
Mike Johnston (D)
Brauchler and Stapleton are both going to run for governor; the only suspense is about when they will make an official announcement. Kennedy and Johnston have been moving toward a run for governor for many months now, and it would be more of a surprise at this point if they chose not to enter the race — although that could change depending on what happens with Ken Salazar and Ed Perlmutter (see below).

 

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Winners and Losers from 2016

Today is the first “official” workday following the Holidays, and since we’re still practicing writing “2-0-1-7,” let’s take one more look back on the year in politics that concluded (finally) over the weekend…

WINNERS

Darryl Glenn is neither a unicorn nor a U.S. Senator.

Michael Bennet
Few politicians entered 2016 with more at stake than Bennet, who was widely considered to be the number one Senate pickup opportunity for Republicans in the entire country (with Harry Reid’s retirement, Bennet was in fact the only incumbent Democrat facing re-election in a swing state in 2016). Bennet ran a strong re-election race, raising tons of money and making himself a consistent presence in TV ads for months leading up to Election Day, but his re-election was all but assured when Colorado Republicans turned the GOP Senate nomination into a dumpster fire. After a 2010 campaign against Republican Ken Buck that went down to the wire, Bennet no doubt appreciated being able to shift into cruise control for most of 2016.

 

Mike Coffman

After more than 30 years in elected office, the Aurora Republican can finally exhale. Four years ago, Coffman nearly lost his seat in CD-6, eking out a 2-point win over a fairly weak challenger in Democrat Joe Miklosi. Democrats smelled blood in the water, but since then Coffman has handily dispatched two difficult Democratic opponents (9-point victory over Andrew Romanoff in 2014 and 8-point win over Morgan Carroll in 2016). Coffman’s consistent obfuscation seems to be the right formula in his Aurora-centered district, where he keeps winning big no matter the coattails (or lack thereof) in Colorado. The 61-year-old Coffman is not particularly well-liked among Republicans and is unlikely to be a factor for higher office in Colorado, but Democrats won’t likely expend serious effort at defeating him again…at least until redistricting muddles the picture in 2022.

 

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Noel Ginsburg Gets Gubernatorial Campaign for Christmas

Noel Ginsburg may already be a candidate for Governor in 2018.

You read it here first on Colorado Pols earlier this week: Businessman Noel Ginsburg looks to be the first official Democratic candidate for Governor in 2018.

According to a press release dated December 22, 2016, Ginsburg “has filed with the Secretary of State to be a candidate for Governor of Colorado in 2018.” As of this writing, Ginsburg’s candidacy is not listed on the Secretary of State’s website, though that could just be a delay due to the holiday season.

According to a bio attached to the press release:

Noel Ginsburg is a manufacturing entrepreneur and trusted civic leader. Ginsburg serves as the Chairman and CEO of Intertech Plastics as well as the founding CEO and Chairman of CareerWise Colorado, a statewide system of innovative, business-led youth apprenticeships.

Ginsburg currently chairs the Denver Public Schools College and Career Pathways Council. He has previously served as the chair of the Denver Public Schools Foundation, the Mile High United Way and JEWISHcolorado (formerly the Allied Jewish Federation of Colorado). In addition, Noel served as Founding Board Chair for Colorado I Have a Dream Foundation. He and his wife Leslie are Colorado natives and have two adult children.

Hickenlooper for President Rumors Resurface for 2020

How about a President John Hickenlooper?

How about a President John Hickenlooper?

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper was often mentioned in the lead-up to the 2016 Presidential Primaries as a potential Democratic candidate for the top job in the land.

As a popular Governor from a swing state, Hickenlooper’s name has been mentioned as a Presidential candidate numerous times over the past six years (here’s one from 2013, and here’s a mention from 2011). Hickenlooper was also reportedly a consideration for Democrat Hillary Clinton’s running mate in 2016, a job that ultimately went to Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine (though Hick did get a big-time speaking slot at the Democratic National Convention as something of a consolation prize).

Because it’s never too early to talk about the next election, Chris Cillizza of “The Fix” offered up his top guesses for potential Democratic Presidential candidates in 2020. Guess who made the list?

Gov. John Hickenlooper: The Colorado governor was almost Clinton’s vice-presidential pick this time around. And in a field filled with Washington types, the governor of a swing state in the West could have real appeal. Hickenlooper also has a terrific life story — a Denver brewery owner who became mayor and governor — and a down-home demeanor that screams, “I am not a politician.” Hickenlooper’s biggest problem as a candidate may be that he is viewed as too moderate for the current Democratic Party. But some governor (Missouri’s Jay Nixon? Delaware’s Jack Markell?) will run for president, and, at the moment, Hickenlooper seems first among equals for that role.

Cillizza’s early list is very much preliminary and has already been changed to include several more names. Hickenlooper is an obvious name to include on an early 2020 list — as Cillizza wrote, “some governor will run for president” — but is it a real possibility?

Seeking the Democratic Presidential nomination certainly makes more sense for Hickenlooper in 2020 than it did in 2016. The most obvious reason, of course, is that Hick is term-limited in 2018 and will have plenty of time on his hands. Running in 2016 never seemed likely, both because Clinton was essentially entrenched as the Democratic nominee and because Hick had just been re-elected to a second term in 2014.

In the debut episode of The Get More Smarter Show in May, we asked Hickenlooper about how seriously he might have considered seeking the Presidency in 2016. Hick was not shy about expressing his concern in first making it through a partisan primary (question begins around the 13:20 mark):

“I’m the type of person — a small business guy who’s really not a traditional politician. I wouldn’t do well in a primary.”

It is true that Hickenlooper’s moderate image would not have been ideal for seeking the 2016 Democratic Presidential nomination — which is a point we’ve made in this space before — but 2020 could be a different story. Hickenlooper was much more active as a partisan surrogate for Democratic candidates in the last election cycle, and he has two more years as governor to demonstrate a more liberal agenda that could interest potential primary voters. Add to this the fact that the 2020 field should be fairly wide-open (barring the outcome of recounts, of course), and a potential Hickenlooper Presidential run makes more sense than it ever did before.

We’d still guess that a Hickenlooper run for President is unlikely, but much depends on how he decides to position himself for his remaining years as Governor and what kind of outreach (and response) he might garner from the chattering/donor class in the next 12-18 months. After all — a President Hickenlooper wouldn’t be more of a surprise than a President Donald Trump.

Guess Who Hasn’t Voted Yet?

TUESDAY UPDATE: As of this morning, still no returned ballots for the Coffmans or Sen. Gardner.

—–

Congressman Mike Coffman (R-Aurora) once promised to spill the beans on his choice for President “when ballots go out.” Denver Post reporter Jon Murray followed up with Coffman’s campaign recently to see if and when the Congressman would make his choice at the top of the ticket, and we’re still waiting:

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“DJ Hickenloopster” Says Vote Hillary

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper’s final appeal to Democrats to turn out the vote is funny stuff:

Choosing between alpacas and multiple Al Frankens is hard. Choosing between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, not so much! Gov. “Pickenscooper” as always makes a good straight man in the comedy routine.

Also, it’s really easy to vote in Colorado. So make sure you do.

Get More Smarter on Tuesday (November 1)

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

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

Oh Noes! Hick Helps His Own?!

We didn’t want the weeping and gnashing of teeth by Republicans watching the close fight for the Colorado Senate majority over a certain ad now airing in key locales around the state to get too far in the rear-view–as Denver7’s Marshall Zelinger reported over the weekend:

A new political ad paid for by a Washington, D.C.-based group shows Gov. John Hickenlooper telling viewers about four candidates he wants elected to the state Senate.

The governor touts Rachel Zenzinger, Daniel Kagan, Jenise May and Tom Sullivan for their respective Senate seats.

Republicans currently hold a one-seat advantage in the state Senate – 18-17. The races highlighted in the ad are likely to determine if Democrats regain control.

Here’s the ad, 100% positive featuring Gov. John Hickenlooper’s trademark folksy charm:

Republicans are said to be outraged, outraged mind you, that Hickenlooper is “cashing in” his aisle-crossing credentials by daring to openly support state senate candidates of his own party. Apparently, the fact that America Votes, a nationwide 501(c)(4) advocacy group with its own very busy and longstanding presence in Colorado, is paying for the ad adds an additional layer of George Soros watercooler discussion mystery.

Back in reality, this is a popular Democratic governor lending his considerable weight to retaking the Colorado Senate for his party, which over the last two years has become an embarrassing blockade against too many essential functions of government and necessary reforms to list here. The real reason Republicans are angry about this ad is it’s likely to have an effect in races they cannot afford to lose–perhaps directly playing a role in their party’s loss of their only remaining veto power in state government.

As for any Colorado Republican whining about so-called “dark money” in elections, well, that’s just silly.

BREAKING: Hickenlooper Backs Minimum Wage Increase

THURSDAY UPDATE: Colorado Public Radio’s Rachel Estabrook reports:

In an interview with Colorado Matters host Ryan Warner, the Democratic governor said he is concerned that people making minimum wage now can’t afford to live in many parts of Colorado.

“I’m not sure there’s another way to help move more people out of poverty than to raise the minimum wage… I think in this country, if you work 40 hours a week, and you work hard, you ought to be able to afford an apartment somewhere,” Hickenlooper said.

—–

That’s the late-breaking word from Colorado Public Radio via Twitter:

We’ll update with CPR’s interview tomorrow, but we figured readers would want to give feedback as soon as the word was out. Gov. John Hickenlooper’s support for Amendment 70, as a pro-business former bar owner, is a critical boost for the campaign to increase Colorado’s minimum wage to $12 an hour by 2020.

And it’ll be a pleasant surprise to his Democratic base.

GOP Pollster: Wage Hike Finds Favor With Colorado Voters

2016minimumwageAs the Denver Business Journal’s Ed Sealover reports, polling numbers out from GOP-aligned Magellan Strategies spell good news for Amendment 70, the ballot measure to raise the state’s minimum wage–and bad news for Amendment 69, the ColoradoCare single-payer health insurance proposal:

A constitutional amendment to raise Colorado’s minimum wage holds a 13-point lead in the first publicly released poll on the proposal, which came out on Tuesday.

Also, the ColoradoCare amendment to create a statewide single-payer health-care system is getting crushed by a margin of roughly 2-1/2-to-1, according to a second poll put out by Louisville-based Magellan Strategies…

Amendment 70, which would raise the state’s minimum wage from $8.31 an hour to $12 per hour in steps by 2020, gets 55 percent support in the sample of 500 likely 2016 general-election voters that was conducted from Aug. 29-31. Another 42 percent of voters oppose it, while just 3 percent remain undecided roughly two months before the Nov. 8 election.

The numbers for Amendment 70 look even better under the hood, with a bigger margin of Democrats in favor than Republicans opposed–and best of all, a huge lead for the measure among independent voters, 65-35%. The survey also looked at Amendment 69, the ColoradoCare proposal, and the same respondents who score minimum wage so highly are slaughtering single-payer health care 65-27%. Even Democrats oppose Amendment 69, though by a smaller 45-41% margin.

Support for Amendment 70 may be taking even some Democrats by surprise. This past weekend, Gov. John Hickenlooper was interviewed by 9NEWS Brandon Rittiman about the proposal, which he claims to be “undecided” about but as a former bar owner has a natural predisposition against. Hickenlooper didn’t do a very good job talking down the measure, however, bogusly forecasting harm to agricultural employers when farmworkers are exempt from the proposal, and claiming that in downtown Denver servers “already” make $20-30 an hour. While that may be true at the Wynkoop or other higher-end eateries and watering holes, the median wage for tipped workers in Colorado is in reality just over $9 an hour.

If Amendment 70’s numbers stay strong into October, Hickenlooper may want to revisit his knee-jerk reaction to a $12 an hour minimum wage–especially when his own party’s platform is calling for substantially more.

Call it a question of getting with the times.

Polis: Fracking Fight Is Not Going Away

Rep. Jared Polis.

Rep. Jared Polis.

Via the Colorado Statesman’s David O. Williams, Rep. Jared Polis of Boulder responds to the failure of two statewide ballot measures to obtain enough petition signatures to qualify this year–one of which he financially supported:

U.S. Rep. Jared Polis on Monday told The Colorado Statesman that the battle for greater local control over oil and gas drilling will keep coming back every two years if the State Legislature is unable to take action on the emotionally charged issue of fracking in and around neighborhoods.

“Issues are always best addressed legislatively, but if the Legislature fails to address it, I’m sure proponents of ballot initiatives will be back,” Polis told The Statesman on Monday after Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams concluded supporters of two anti-fracking ballot initiatives — one of which Polis backed — didn’t collect enough valid voter signatures.

Polis gave $25,000 to Yes for Local Control Over Oil and Gas, the group pushing Initiative 75 that would have given local governments more regulatory control over oil and gas drilling within town and county boundaries, including possibly banning fracking in certain areas. Drilling is currently regulated primarily by the state…

Polis supported anti-fracking ballot initiatives in 2014 and worked toward a legislative solution in what would have been a special session designed to avoid a ballot fight. He later supported a deal with Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper that formed an oil and gas task force to hopefully address the setback and local-control issues.

fracksmokeRep. Polis did not contribute to Initiative 78, which would have mandated a very large 2,500 foot setback for new oil and gas development from existing structures. Likewise, leading environmental advocacy group Conservation Colorado endorsed Initiative 75 (local control) but not 78. Although both the local control and setback ballot measures were jointly promoted during the petition drive, opinions on the two different approaches even among environmentalists are not unanimous. For everyone except those who very deliberately are seeking to completely ban the practice of “fracking” for oil and gas, the large inflexible setbacks in Initiative 78 just aren’t workable–and if you want to ban fracking, you should be honest about that in your proposal.

Looking ahead, it’s clear that the realistic battleground in the ongoing debate over oil and gas development under the urbanizing Front Range of Colorado is going to be over the rights of local cities to regulate the industry within their boundaries to a greater degree than the state oil and gas commission. The ballot measure fights in 2014 and this year both stem from decisions by local voters and governments in Front Range cities to ban or place moratoria on fracking within their boundaries. Many of those bans and moratoria have been overturned by the Colorado Supreme Court, but Polis is absolutely correct that the issue isn’t going away. Until a better deal is struck between mineral rights holders and the growing population centers on the surface–one that recognizes that human beings on the surface do indeed matter more than the minerals beneath–every election is going to be haunted by these unsatisfied grievances.

In the Denver Post today, even Gov. John “Frackenlooper” Hickenlooper paid lip service to this ongoing challenge:

The Democratic governor said he wants to “continue the discussions” between the energy sector and supporters of the two unsuccessful ballot measures, which would have prohibited new oil and gas facilities within 2,500 feet of homes, and given more power to local governments to restrict fracking. But he offered no specifics. [Pols emphasis]

“I think most of the people I’ve talked to both in the environmental community and the oil and gas industry recognize that there is more work to be done,” he said.

The trick, as we’ve learned now in two disappointing election cycles, will be turning that lip service into something tangible–for local residents and local governments who have been pleading with Hickenlooper’s administration for years for better protections. “Banning fracking” should not be the goal of environmentalists in Colorado, but effective control of oil and gas drilling to ensure local governments can make land-use decisions that are appropriate for their communities.

Every legislative session, like every election, is a fresh chance to do the right thing.

Hick, Crisanta Duran Shine on DNC’s Final Night

Here’s video of Colorado’s two stars on the last night of the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia–first, Colorado House Majority Leader Crisanta Duran’s three minutes of glory, with musical intro by Coldplay:

The Denver Post’s Joey Bunch reports:

Colorado House Democratic leader Crisanta Duran spoke of breaking her own glass ceilings Thursday afternoon at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia.

“No matter who you are, no matter where you’re from or how you got here, you are special and your potential is as big as America itself,” Duran said to young people in her speech. “That’s what Hillary Clinton believes. That’s why she’s spent a lifetime fighting for every child.”


At least Hick didn't...

At least Hick didn’t…

Later in the evening, it was Gov. John Hickenlooper’s turn at the mic to take a surprisingly hard shot at Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump. As the Colorado Springs Gazette’s Megan Schrader reports:

“I’ve never hosted a reality TV show but I know the true mark of a successful businessman is not the number of times you say you’re fired, it’s the number of times you say you’re hired,” Hickenlooper said, taking a dig at Trump’s TV show “The Apprentice.” “Unlike Trump’s businesses, my businesses didn’t go bankrupt six times.”

The governor didn’t pause for applause or laughter but plowed right into his plug for Denver’s urban revitalization, which began after Hickenlooper opened the Wynkoop Brewing Co. in an abandoned warehouse district nearly 30 years ago.

“More entrepreneurs arrived and the neighborhood took off and so did Denver,” Hickenlooper said. “As Hillary Clinton says, ‘it takes a village’ … she understands that even in Colorado, land of rugged individualism, our economy is stronger together.”

Unvarnished reviews of both speeches we’ve heard have been quite positive. It’s clear that Hickenlooper was nervous about his prime-time speaking slot, but he delivered a strong if a bit dry-mouthed five minutes of solid support for the Democratic nominee–with a few great quotables like “my businesses didn’t go bankrupt six times.” Tim Kaine, who narrowly bested Hickenlooper for the vice presidential nomination, is obviously a more comfortable speaker and attack dog, but Hick didn’t disappoint. Those couple of times we were sure his voice was going to crack, it didn’t.

All told, not too shabby for our little flyover state this convention season! If only Darryl Glenn had gotten some face time.

Hickenlooper Nabs Big-Time Speaking Slot at DNC

Gov. John Hickenlooper

Gov. John Hickenlooper

We’ve known since last week that Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper would be speaking at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, but until today, we didn’t know when. As the Denver Post reports, Hick has been handed one of the most desirable time slots of the entire convention:

He won’t be introducing Hillary Clinton, but Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper still landed a prime time speaking slot this Thursday at the Democratic National Convention, the curtain call of the four-day gathering.

Hickenlooper told Denver Post TV that he is slated to speak between 8 p.m. and 9 p.m. eastern — not long before Clinton is expected to deliver her acceptance speech at the Wells Fargo Center. The topic of the speech was not disclosed.

This is a pretty big deal. Democratic House leader Crisanta Duran is also speaking on Thursday, sometime between 5:00 and 6:00 pm, but Hickenlooper’s time slot is about as good as it gets if you aren’t the nominee for President. Hick will speak shortly before Hillary Clinton is announced to accept the Democratic nomination for President, which all but guarantees that he will speak in front of a huge national TV audience.

Hickenlooper’s high-profile speaking slot is also another good indication that he will likely be picked for some sort of Cabinet post if Clinton is elected President.

Tim Kaine: The Better Hickenlooper?

Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA).

Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA).

The New York Times reports on the selection of Sen. Tim Kaine as Democratic presumptive nominee Hillary Clinton’s running-mate: beating out a number of other “finalist” contenders including Gov. John Hickenlooper of Colorado:

Hillary Clinton named Senator Tim Kaine of Virginia to be her running mate Friday, selecting a battleground-state politician with working-class roots and a fluency in Spanish, traits that she believes can bolster her chances to defeat Donald J. Trump in November.

Mrs. Clinton’s choice, which she announced via text message to supporters, came after her advisers spent months poring over potential vice-presidential candidates who could lift the Democratic ticket in an unpredictable race against Mr. Trump…

Ultimately, Mrs. Clinton, who told PBS that she was “afflicted with the responsibility gene,” avoided taking a chance with a less experienced vice-presidential candidate and declined to push the historic nature of her candidacy by adding another woman or a minority to the ticket.

Instead, the campaign, which had become concerned about its deficit with white men, focused on Mr. Kaine and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, and looked more closely at Gov. John Hickenlooper of Colorado. [Pols emphasis]

Sen. Tim Kaine is in many ways a safe pick for Clinton, being a relatively moderate white male politician in a key swing state. It’s true that those descriptors could also apply to our own Gov. Hickenlooper, although we’d say excepting Hickenlooper’s soft spot on energy issues he’s probably more of a “progressive” than Kaine is. With Clinton expected to run strongly to the middle in a bid to pick up support from Republicans who cannot bring themselves to vote for Donald Trump, Kaine can be regarded as a “ticket balancer” who will make the choice of Hillary more palatable.

Bottom line: this may not be the more exciting choice for the Democratic base, but Kaine is arguably closest to what Hillary needs to close the deal: with the broadest possible range of American voters.