Another Jeffco Republican Won’t Finish Elected Term

Jefferson County Commissioner Don Rosier

Walking out of an elected office before the end of your term has become something of a perverse tradition among Republicans serving in Jefferson County government. Jefferson County Clerk and Recorder Faye Griffin is the poster child for Republicans gaming the system for partisan benefit, but the problem is deeply-rooted in Jeffco…and it’s happening once again.

Earlier this week, a press release from Jefferson County announced that Commissioner Donald Rosier would be resigning his post in January 2018 in order to take a top job with an expensive new mixed-use development in Douglas County called Sterling Ranch. If Rosier’s name sounds somewhat familiar, you may recall that he was briefly (and laughably) a Republican candidate for U.S. Senate in 2016.

Rosier was term-limited next year, but his early departure will allow a Republican vacancy committee to appoint a new County Commissioner. The early favorite for the vacancy appointment is Tina Francone, who was already running for Rosier’s seat but will likely now get to campaign as a semi-incumbent against Democrat Lesley Dahlkemper. Former legislator Libby Szabo got the same head start in 2015 — appointed Commissioner just two months after being re-elected to the legislature — which came a few years after Republican John Odom won the vacancy lottery in 2011 (Odom didn’t even bother to finish his partial term after losing to Democrat Casey Tighe in 2012).

Jefferson County has three County Commissioners who can each serve two four-year terms (if elected). The last time a Republican County Commissioner in Jefferson County completed a full two terms? That was back in 2005, when both Michelle Lawrence and Patricia Holloway were term-limited out of office.

Who’s Afraid of Big Bad Teacher’s Unions?

Evidently Kyle Clark didn’t like his school teachers very much.

9NEWS’ Kyle Clark, that’s who!

School board candidates backed and financed by teachers unions [Pols emphasis] are in positions for convincing wins in Jefferson County and Douglas County, with strong leads on Wednesday morning.

In Douglas County, where eight candidates are running for four seats, the union-backed slate [Pols emphasis] needs to flip only one race to gain control of the school board. If that happens, the new school board majority would likely abandon its defense of a controversial voucher program instituted by conservative school reformers. A legal challenge to that program is working its way toward the Supreme Court…

The union-backed [Pols emphasis] candidates for the DougCo school board maintained double-digit leads over the so-called education reform slate into Wednesday.

…In Jefferson County, three of five Board of Education seats were up for grabs. Two of the races were contested by conservative candidates looking to unseat union-supported [Pols emphasis] board members.

Kyle Clark’s full story on the school board elections in Douglas County and Jefferson County is eleven sentences long. Four of those eleven sentences–in addition to the title of the story–contain the words “unions,” “union-backed,” or “union-supported.” Now, we’re not disputing that the Colorado Education Association and their subsidiary organizations in Jefferson and Douglas Counties played a role in these elections–certainly they did, just as they did in the historic recall elections two years ago that swept a controversial far-right school board majority in Jefferson County from power.

But here’s the thing: over 120,000 Jefferson County voters participated in the school board elections that concluded yesterday. No doubt the teacher’s union’s support was helpful to the candidates who prevailed, but it’s Jefferson County voters who made the final decision–not the teacher’s union–and the winning candidates won by a landslide. And that means to obsess over the role of the union to the absolutely ridiculous extent Kyle Clark did in this story makes what he did here something other than journalism. This is a story written by someone so steeped in the demonization pushed by conservatives of organized labor that he completely lost sight of the larger reality–which is not “the unions,” but the fact that 120,000 voters who threw far-right radicals out of power in Jefferson County two years ago reaffirmed their choice by a similarly overwhelming margin.

Much like the Denver Post’s just-plain-sad endorsements that the voters ignored, this is a local TV newsman demonstrating only one thing: that he listens to the wrong people.

Lakewood City Council Race Takes Turn For The Nasty

The western Denver suburb of Lakewood is playing host to a number of tight city council races, with the Ward One race between incumbent longtime Republican political fixture Ramey Johnson and challenger Kyra DeGruy attracting significant attention. Johnson is a former GOP state representative who narrowly lost the mayoral election to Adam Paul in 2015, and has a long, checkered history in Jefferson County politics.

Yesterday morning, Johnson hosted a regularly-scheduled monthly ward meeting, which are supposed to be nonpartisan town hall-type sessions with residents. Instead, by all accounts Johnson launched into a full-throated pitch for her own re-election.

And then things got a little, well…worse:

This is from a handout that Ramey Johnson distributed to attendees at this city-sponsored event “describing” various donors to Kyra DeGruy’s city council campaign. The descriptions provided by Johnson of these donors appear to be lifted from various sources, but are obviously editorial in nature. And, you know, not exactly flattering.

In the case of Johnson’s description of former Lakewood City Councillor Karen Kellen:

A little searching reveals that this context-free blurb was taken without attribution from a 2011 Denver Post story by reporter Monte Whaley–ironically enough titled “Colorado gay officials seeing more-tolerant attitudes.” The story wasn’t about Kellen’s work after leaving the Lakewood city council, but from right after Kellen’s re-election to a second term, when Kellen went on to help represent LGBT local officials at the National League of Cities:

Over the weekend, Kellen was elected as an at-large member to the board of directors of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Local Officials, a constituency group within the National League of Cities.

To summarize, Lakewood City Councillor Ramey Johnson lifted a six-year-old blurb about former Councillor Karen Kellen, and used it out of context in campaign literature improperly distributed at a city-sponsored event–with the obvious purpose of smearing Johnson’s opponent in the Ward One council race, Kyra DeGruy, by implicitly casting DeGruy’s donors as out of the mainstream.

Folks, this is beneath everybody involved. Lakewood is not some kind of culture-war backwater where cheap whisper campaigns should be politically rewarded. It’s a throwback to the ugly politics of the early 2000s–not coincidentally when Johnson was at the peak of her own political career–when this kind of thing would fly in Jefferson County politics.

In 2017, it should not.

Erica Shields and the “Freedom Blanket”

Instagram post by Jeffco School Board candidate Erica Shields (Nov. 2015)

This photo of a “Freedom Blanket” was posted in November 2015 on the Instagram account of Erica Shields, a Republican running for Jefferson County School Board in District 2 against incumbent Democrat Susan Harmon.

Erica Shields

You’re not seeing things — this is an actual social media post by an actual Republican candidate for school board in Jefferson County, which is where the Columbine school massacre took place in 1999. We obscured the face of the boy in the photo because it’s not his fault that his mom thought that this would be a good thing to put out on the Internet tubes.

Shields posts on Instagram and Twitter under the handle “mrscoam2016,” a reference to the fact that she was the 2016 “Mrs. Colorado America,” which is apparently a thing. As of September 2017, she also started posting under the handle “@EricaforKids.”

As the Lakewood Sentinel reported in mid-September, Shields fancies herself as a “public health educator.” Judging by her social media accounts, this is a fancy way of saying that she is a personal trainer/yoga instructor:

Shields, a Jeffco mom, describes her work as being a “public health educator,” who advocates for childhood causes including fitness, resiliency, pediatric cancer, child abuse and neglect, and education.

“Over the last year, I have spent a significant amount of time volunteering in schools which serve high populations of students from families living below poverty,” Shields said. “I have seen the incredible needs in these schools. I have learned not every student in Jeffco has the same opportunities despite the billion dollars we spend each year. I am running to be sure we focus on improving opportunities for all students so that they can be better prepared for college or career.”

According to the Sentinel, Shields opposes closing schools, opposes the idea of moving sixth-graders to middle school, and wants to “attract and retain great teachers and staff.” It’s fun to come out against cuts of any kind when you don’t have to actually worry about a budget.

Mail ballots drop in Jefferson County on October 16.

Strange Case in Lakewood City Council Race

Michael Bieda

We haven’t talked much about local municipal races this year, in part because there hasn’t been a lot of terribly interesting news to discuss. Most city council races are fairly quiet affairs that don’t generate much enthusiasm — or many voters, for that matter.

But there’s a city council battle in Lakewood that is worth watching because of the unusual circumstances surrounding one of the candidates seeking to fill an open seat in Ward 3, (East Lakewood). Michael Bieda is a former State District Court Judge who lost his job in the 1994 election when voters elected NOT to retain him for another term.

If you’re not familiar with the process of retaining judges, let’s just put it this way: You’d have a better chance of finding someone to buy your solar eclipse glasses than you would of being ousted as a judge. Check out these statistics from the Colorado Office of Judicial Performance Evaluation:

Colorado voters elected to retain 1,312 of the 1,323 (99.2%) judicial officers standing for retention since 1990. [Pols emphasis] As shown in Table B, Colorado voters retained 99.7% of the judges receiving retain recommendations, 65% of those receiving do not retain recommendations, and retained all judicial officers where commissions offered no opinion.

Those are staggering numbers. Only 11 sitting judges have been kicked off the bench by voters in the last 27 years. Bieda is among those ignominious 11, and it didn’t take long for people to sour on him; Bieda was appointed to a District Judgeship in 1992 and was off the bench two years later. Bieda lost his job by 1,870 votes out of 126,216 votes cast in 1994.

Bieda served as a District Judge in the 18th Judicial District (Arapahoe County), where he took part in several notable cases, including the trial of Nathan Dunlap (the Chuck E. Cheese murderer). Bieda made enough waves behind the bench that he received a “Do Not Retain” recommendation from the Office of Judicial Performance prior to the 1994 election. Here’s what they said:

The Commission reviewed surveys and personally interviewed representatives from the criminal justice system. Most responses indicated that Judge Bieda has a poor courtroom demeanor, is arrogant, and has angry outbursts toward lawyers and parties. Judge Bieda received low ratings in his sensitivity toward witnesses and jurors. There are also responses that indicate that Judge Bieda is “unfair” in his treatment of women in his courtroom. The Commission is concerned that Judge Bieda’s hostile courtroom behavior has not improved over time nor has it changed with his transfer from the Domestic Division to the Criminal Division. Responses indicate that Judge Bieda has demonstrated an unwillingness to become proficient in his management of his criminal docket, and the handling of criminal cases. An additional concern to the Commission is the number of complaints alleging that Judge Bieda appears unprepared in his handling of criminal matters.

Bieda does address this issue on his campaign website, which you can read in full here. He says that he was targeted by attorneys who were upset that he didn’t let them charge more for their services, or something:

While sitting as judge, I created a pilot project to make the divorce forms with instructions easily available to those who did not want to hire a lawyer. This had never been done before. This project was so successful that the State Judicial Department adopted it and expanded it into the forms available today statewide through the state court system.

As you might expect, I was not popular with everyone, especially the domestic bar association. Because I helped people with the forms project, and because I insisted that the lawyers be prepared and efficient in their presentations, they were not able to charge their clients the outrageous fees they had been used to. Some of them organized a campaign against me when I came up for the election.

Because city council races are usually low-information, low-turnout affairs, it’s hard to gauge how much Bieda’s past will hurt his chances against opponent Michael Gifford. But getting kicked off the bench seems like a pretty tough negative for anyone to overcome.

Ex-Jeffco school board member sounds the alarm on “Spiritual Warfare”

(At least she’s not your school board member…anymore! – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Back in 2015, before conservatives were removed from the Jeffco School Board, the Independence Institute’s Dave Kopel, a conservative, made the memorable observation that school board member Julie Williams got the “rest of the board into trouble with a lot of  foolish, barely thought-out ideas she has expressed inappropriately.”

She’s still saying such things, as evidenced by a Facebook post last week, obtained by a source.

Williams posted an article headlined, “Something Wicked Is Creeping Into U.S. Homes,” which stated, “The U.S. entertainment industry is entrenched with devil worshipers who are actively working to promote and normalize satanism in American culture.”

Williams commented, “Spiritual Warfare is getting stronger…Lord be with us.”

Recall Williams incited protests when she proposed sanitizing American history courses in Jeffco schools.

It’s not known if she would have wanted to put more emphasis on the alleged threat posed by lurking devil worshipers who might want to normalize satanism in Jeffco.

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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Finish Your Damn Job, Faye Griffin (Again)

Jeffco Republican Faye Griffin is (politically) immortal.

Faye Griffin will still be serving as an elected official in Jefferson County long after your children’s children have come and gone — even if Jeffco Republicans have to get her cryogenically frozen in order to make it happen.

It looks like we need to update a long-running saga involving Griffin’s political history in Jefferson County. Current Jeffco Commissioner Libby Szabo is rumored to be considering leaving the Commissioner’s office in order to focus her energy full-time on the open Congressional seat in CD-7. If Szabo does resign early from the Commissioner’s office, we hear that current Jeffco Clerk and Recorder Faye Griffin may be in line to replace Szabo. If this is indeed true, it would mean that the 78-year-old Griffin was leaving the Clerk and Recorder’s office in the middle of her third (non-consecutive) term in order to complete her third term as a County Commissioner. This is absolutely ridiculous, and it needs to stop.

We’ve talked about Griffin’s serial seat-hopping in the past, as well as the fact that her constant movement allows Jeffco Republicans to essentially subvert the will of voters. In the last 10 years or so, numerous Republican candidates have “run” for office for the first time with the power of an unearned-incumbency behind them. The Denver Post has also waded into this story and condemned the political malpractice. Take a look at what the Post wrote in October 2014:

When voters support a candidate, they should expect that person will serve the full term of office. It’s not too much to ask…

…Make no mistake, this isn’t about Griffin’s political affiliation. This is about a vacancy system that empowers party honchos instead of requiring special elections for vacancies, and Griffin’s willingness to abandon a commitment in order to continue in public office.

One of the more amazing parts of that editorial comes from an interview with Griffin herself:

We asked Griffin why she would leave the commission two years early, and she was candid in saying it was due to term limits.

Griffin is in the middle of her second term, and if she stayed in the position, she couldn’t run for the commission again — and there would be no other palatable options for her, in her mind.

“In two years, there’s no county office that is open,” Griffin said. So, she is seeking the office she held for eight years, starting in 1998.

Ahead of the 2018 election, there’s good reason for Jeffco Republicans to continue convincing Griffin to keep moving offices. Democrats appear to have a strong candidate for Clerk and Recorder in George Stern, so it is in the best interests of the GOP to try to place a new Clerk and Recorder now in order to give that person enough time to build up their name ID before 2018. And by moving Griffin back to County Commissioner in the meantime, she wouldn’t need to run again until 2020.

After the 2014 election, Griffin was quoted by the Golden Transcript with this comment about her future plans: “I am going to retire sometime, I just don’t know when.” We’re not saying that Griffin should retire — she just needs to finish her damn job for once.

 

Faye Griffin’s Seat-Hopping History
♦ 1998-2006: Jefferson County Clerk and Recorder (2 terms).
♦ 2006: Elected as County Treasurer (4-year term).
♦ 2008: Elected as County Commissioner after ditching Treasurer’s office mid-term. Republican-controlled Commissioners appoint Republican Tim Kauffman to fill remainder of Griffin’s term as Treasurer.
♦ 2012: Elected to second term as Jefferson County Commissioner
♦ 2013: Griffin announces that she will run for Jeffco Clerk and Recorder again in 2014. For the second time in 5 years, Griffin leaves elected office well before end of term.
♦ 2014: Elected as Jefferson County Clerk and Recorder for third time (1998, 2002). Libby Szabo later appointed to rest of Griffin’s term as Commissioner; Szabo elected to full term in 2016.
♦ 2017: Szabo rumored to consider resigning as County Commissioner in order to run full-time for Congress in CD-7. Szabo’s rumored replacement? Faye Griffin, of course.

 

Jessie Danielson Runs To Succeed Sen. Cheri Jahn In Key District

Rep. Jessie Danielson (D).

Rep. Jessie Danielson of Wheat Ridge announced her run for Senate District 20 yesterday, a closely-divided swing Senate seat now held by term-limited Sen. Cheri Jahn:

Serving Jeffco in the State House has been a tremendous honor – and I am proud to have passed laws that are protecting vulnerable seniors, advancing equal pay, looking out for veterans, protecting our environment, and helping Colorado families get a fair shake when the odds are often stacked against us…

With your help, I will go to the State Senate and continue fighting for a better future – by empowering hard-working Coloradans who want to send their kids to great public schools and build a secure future for their families.

Whether it’s legalizing rain barrels or making child care more affordable, I have passed common sense laws focused on helping make day-to-day life a little easier for regular people. Just this year I passed the Wage Theft Transparency Act, which will shine a light on employers caught cheating workers out of their pay.

In the State Senate, I will continue to uphold the Colorado values that make our state a better place to live. The chaos in Washington shows that it’s up to us – here in the states – to stand up to powerful special interests and protect what makes Colorado unique. As state senator, I will never stop fighting for Colorado, for Jeffco and for you.

Sen. Jahn’s last election in 2014 against Republican candidate Larry Queen was a real nail-biter, with Jahn emerging victorious by fewer than 500 votes. Democrats nonetheless consider Rep. Danielson an ideal successor to hold the seat, with an excellent legislative track record and solid campaign skill and experience–good enough that she was considered a possible candidate for Congress to succeed Rep. Ed Perlmutter. Danielson is a sufficiently strong contender that we would be surprised to see a serious primary opponent emerge, though with an open seat you can never rule one out.

Either way, Democrats are feeling good about holding this swing seat on their way to recapturing the Senate majority in 2018, and now you know why.

In light of Jeffco school board recall, Brauchler’s early support of vouchers raises questions

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

George Brauchler.

Education is a motivating issue anywhere in soccer-mom country, but in Colorado its force is compounded by the lingering impact of the emotional 2015 Jefferson County School Board recall election, in which voters overwhelmingly tossed out conservatives.

Republican Bob Beauprez’s outspoken alignment with the losing school board members, including his support of vouchers, during the 2014 gubernatorial election was arguably a key factor in his loss to Democrat John Hickenlooper. And Republicans have lost a string of state legislative races in Jeffco, with the winning Democrats standing against public school privatization.

So along comes the 2018 gubernatorial race, and reporters should note where Republican candidates come down on vouchers, charters, and education issues. Will they distance themselves from the positions of the losing Jeffco School Board members? Or will they align with them?

Republican candidate George Brauchler, the Arapahoe County District Attorney, has already spoken up for vouchers, agreeing “100 percent” with KNUS 710-AM’s Dan Caplis last month that vouchers benefit kids and empower parents, particularly in low-income areas.

Caplis (11 min 30 sec below): I’m a big believer without even increasing the budget, kids would be benefited immediately by healthy education competition, and by empowering those poor and middle income parents with true purchasing power in education through vouchers, etc. Where do you come down on school choice?

Brauchler: I 100 percent agree with you, in every place, specifically inner cities and socio economically depressed areas. Every place you offer parents the opportunity at a charter school or choice, you see a mad scramble to be part of that successful system. And our family is no different. I got four kids, 14, 12, 9, and 7. They are all in charter schools. They’ve all gone to charter grade schools. Two of them are still there. I am a big believer in choice. And they are figuring out a way to put a better product on the field and turn out students with a better education, better scores than the big establishment system. That’s not an indictment of the entire big establishment system. That is a challenge. That is that kind of competition that you and I have talked about that give you a better product. I am a big believer in choice…big-time public school system, which I am a product of, my wife’s a product of, my kids are going to be a product of it, has got to look internally, but also externally at a better way to do what they are doing.”

I can’t find campaign statements by other Republican candidates on public school privatization, but it’s likely they will be coming soon–with Democrats likely to continue to oppose vouchers. In any case, it’s clearly a key issue for reporters to track, given the Jeffco history and the stakes involved.

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Yes, THAT Tony Sanchez

Tony Sanchez is like the Winter Olympics of Colorado politics: He re-appears every four years to a lukewarm reception, and most everything he does is fairly confusing. This snapshot from Sanchez’s Twitter feed tells you everything you need to know about his return to Colorado politics:

Tony Sanchez last appeared on Twitter in Oct. 2014

Colorado political observers will recall that Sanchez emerged out of nowhere (also called “California”) when he announced in 2014 that he would seek the Republican nomination for State Senate in SD-22 (Lakewood). Sanchez was a recent arrival in Colorado, but he somehow convinced conservative groups such as Rocky Mountain Gun Owners (RMGO) to back him in a GOP Primary against the more moderate and better-known Mario Nicolais.

Sanchez pulled off a surprise victory over Nicolais in a bitter primary fight that caused much consternation among Republicans; Democratic incumbent Andy Kerr went on to defeat Sanchez in the General Election for a seat that Republicans thought they had a decent chance of winning. Kerr was a probably a better candidate than either Nicolais or Sanchez, but the general opinion at the time was that Republicans might have had a shot at capturing SD-22 with a less-extreme candidate who actually had some sort of personal history in the area.

Kerr will exhaust his term limits in the state Senate in 2018 (he’s running for Congress in CD-7), and Sanchez is back to take another shot at the legislature. It is not clear yet who will be the Democratic candidate for SD-22, but the presence of Sanchez won’t exactly be a deterrent for anyone considering the possibility.

So Long, Dan McMinimee

Soon to be ex-Jeffco Schools Superintendent Dan McMinimee.

Denver7’s Blair Miller reports on another endnote in the long battle to wrest control of Jefferson County Public Schools back from a conservative majority elected in 2013 and ousted in an historic 2015 recall election–the departure of conservative superintendent Dan McMinimee:

Jeffco Public Schools Superintendent Dan McMinimee is out of his job early, as the district announced Thursday he was stepping down immediately.

The district announced in December that his three-year contract would not be renewed, and he was set to be out of a job as of June 30.

But the district said Thursday that McMinimee and the school board agreed to McMinimee’s early ouster.

He will remain with the district through June 30, Jeffco Public Schools Communications Office Diana Wilson said, but will not have day-to-day operations responsibilities.

Wilson said McMinimee will “be available to the board in an advisory capacity and will assist as needed in the transition to a new superintendent.”

Dan McMinimee was hired by the conservative majority Jeffco school board in 2014, a pick that was fraught with controversy–McMinimee was formerly an assistant superintendent at arch-conservative Douglas County Schools, whose right-wing board and perceived anti-teacher bias resulted in an exodus of qualified teachers from the district.

As the battles between the new board and the district’s parents and teachers heated up, McMinimee drew fire for not intervening in the board alleged “bullying” of students who showed up to testify at board meetings, as well as his participation in intra-board intrigue on behalf of the majority.

After the recall election that sent the conservative board majority packing, McMinimee was the career equivalent of a dead man walking. Immediately after the recall election we predicted his swift departure, but the new board made the magnanimous (and fiscally prudent) decision to allow McMinimee to serve out his contract. We suppose it’s even hypothetically possible that he might have lived up to the expectations of the new board and had his contract renewed.

But it didn’t happen, and now McMinimee’s departure marks the final stages of a housecleaning three years in the making.

Deep Jeffco Bench Ready For Perlmutter’s Next Move

Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-Jefferson County)

Ernest Luning at the Colorado Statesman reports on the next generation of Colorado Democrats in Jefferson County, waiting to move up in the event Rep. Ed Perlmutter makes the decision to run for Governor in 2018:

Two Lakewood Democrats say they’re likely to run next year for the 7th Congressional District seat represented by U.S. Rep. Ed Perlmutter if the six-term incumbent Democrat jumps in the race for governor.

State Rep. Brittany Pettersen told The Colorado Statesman this week that she will run for the suburban congressional seat if Perlmutter seeks the gubernatorial nomination in 2018, and state Sen. Andy Kerr told The Statesman he’s “very seriously looking at it.”

The two legislators share many of the same constituents — Kerr held Pettersen’s House District 28 seat for three terms before winning an open seat in the upper chamber in 2012 — and both say their ability to win in their own swing districts means they’d be contenders for Perlmutter’s suburban swing seat.

Although Rep. Perlmutter’s seat is on-paper competitive, his strong leadership and deep ties to his Jefferson County constituents have made CD-7 completely unwinnable for the GOP since defeating Rick O’Donnell for Bob Beauprez’s open seat in 2006. The last real attempt at the seat was in 2012, when the late Joe Coors lost to Perlmutter 53-41%. Since then Perlmutter has faced only B-List opposition.

With that said, we do expect that Perlmutter giving up the CD-7 seat to run for Governor would embolden Republicans to make another attempt. Either Sen. Andy Kerr or Rep. Brittany Pettersen would make for excellent general election candidates against any Republican we could think of who might run–especially in potential matchups against Tim Neville, Lang SiasLibby Szabo, and other early names that have been floated.

With the biggest variable everyone is waiting on being Rep. Perlmutter’s next move, we don’t expect to see any major updates in this race until he makes his decision–a decision that reportedly depends on whether former Sen. Ken Salazar decides to run for Governor. But if Perlmutter does jump, there is a deep bench in Jefferson County waiting to fill resulting vacancies all the way down the ticket.

“Draft Ed” Movement Pushing Perlmutter for Governor

Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-Jefferson County)

UPDATE: The Gazette has corrected their story with the appropriate Facebook link. We have adjusted the excerpt below to reflect the change.

—–

As Peter Marcus reports for the Colorado Springs Gazette, an online campaign to convince Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-Jefferson County) to run for Governor is growing quickly:

There seems to be more of a buzz surrounding the Jefferson County Democrat these days, though Perlmutter has been playing things close to the vest.

A Facebook page has been created, “Draft Ed Perlmutter for Governor.”

“Run, Ed, Run! Ed Perlmutter’s always a true congressman with character. Now a whole lot of us want him to be a governor with guts. Draft Ed for Gov!” the page states.

“Ed’s district has always been a top target for House Republicans. And he’s always won it, and BIG! If nominated, Ed Perlmutter will keep the Governor’s Mansion blue — and he’ll stand up to Donald Trump like few others can,” a post on the page states.

Backers of the page are even paying for Facebook sponsorship status, though who the backers are has been a mystery to many in the Jefferson County Democratic community.

The link provided in the story above directs readers to Perlmutter’s congressional campaign website; we’re assuming this is a mistake and is meant to point to this “Draft Ed Perlmutter for Governor” Facebook page instead.

 

You Won’t Believe Who Tim Leonard Hired As His Legislative Aide

State Rep. Tim Leonard (R-Evergreen) in his off-season attire.

State Rep. Tim Leonard (R-Evergreen) is at the State Capitol today as the legislature officially convenes for the 2017 session. The accommodations under the Gold Dome are (probably) considerably more comfortable than where Leonard was biding his time three weeks ago, when he was finishing up a 14-day jail sentence in Jefferson County.

From everything we hear, a majority of Republicans at the state legislature would like Leonard to resign — nobody really wants to be associated with the first sitting legislator in at least 40 years to spend time in jail — but Leonard has no plans to give up his seat in the near future. House Minority Leader Patrick Neville is a personal friend of Leonard, so there is no immediate pressure from GOP leadership, either. Since Leonard is likely stay right where he is for the time being, you might think he would be eager to keep his head down and do a little reputation cleansing.

Former Jeffco School Board member John Newkirk

Or not.

Leonard’s paid legislative aide at the State Capitol is a name you may recognize: John Newkirk.

Yes, this is the same John Newkirk who was booted off the Jefferson County School Board in a 2015 recall election.

In short, a state lawmaker who just spent time in jail has hired a legislative aide who was recently kicked out of a different office by essentially the same group of constituents that Leonard represents. This seems like a bad idea.

Newkirk is independently wealthy and doesn’t really need the $12.50 per hour wage paid to legislative aides, so it would make sense that this is being orchestrated so that Newkirk can eventually try to take over Leonard’s seat in HD-25. Leonard isn’t likely to resign from the legislature, but that doesn’t mean he plans to run for re-election in 2018 (not that we would blame him — this video alone would run on a loop for months).

Keep an eye out for this pairing as the legislative session grinds along. Leonard-Newkirk is Colorado’s bizarro Batman and Robin.