GOP Just Can’t Help But Lose Their Minds Over Sex Ed Bill

Rep. Perry Buck (R-Ludicrous)

More or less the whole day Friday in the Colorado House of Representatives was wasted on a marathon and factually-challenged debate over House Bill 19-1032, legislation to requiring that if sex ed courses in Colorado are taught, which is not mandatory, that they provide medically accurate and nondiscriminatory information.

As we saw previously in debate over this bill in the House Health and Insurance Committee, there was very little connection between the reality of what this legislation would do and the views of its opponents–who turned public testimony on the bill into a lurid freakshow of ill-informed homophobia. And as 9NEWS’ Marshall Zelinger reported last night, Republican House lawmakers proved every bit as unhinged as the public witnesses–if perhaps a bit less outright vulgar for decorum’s sake.

“House Bill 19-1032 requires schools that provide comprehensive sex education to teach pro-LGBTQ sex education while banning the teaching of religious or values-based sex education,” [Rep. Steve] Humphrey read from the email.

He didn’t say if he corrected the constituent with accurate information, but here it is: sex education classes in Colorado have been required to include conversations on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities since the 2013 version of this bill was signed into law by then-Gov. John Hickenlooper.

The current sex ed bill doesn’t add that. It already exists. And it doesn’t ban religious sex education discussion.

Erik Maulbetsch at the Colorado Times Recorder took a look recently at the kind of messaging used to draw out citizen opponents to flood the state capitol on January 30th for the bill’s House committee hearing, and found they were chock full of exactly the same misinformation that witnesses spewed forth in testimony. A persistent theme among these witnesses, best exemplified by the extremely graphic testimony of Joan “Anal Fisting Granny” Poston, has been to describe in smut-novel detail various sex acts under the false pretense that these details would be taught to children in sex ed class.

After hours of gratuitous offense from literally hundreds of such witnesses, many of whom were there only to log their dislike for LGBT people in the permanent record, the bill passed committee–and local media spent the next two weeks unpacking the falsehoods told during this hearing as best they could. But as we saw from House Republicans yesterday, no amount of fact-checking has been able to penetrate the intense misinformation about the bill among its opponents, and at this point the legislation’s “credible” foes at the Centennial Institute simply have no incentive to disabuse their flock of these lies.

And as Zelinger continues, the floor debate took an outlandish twist of its own when:

Rep. Perry Buck (R-Windsor) took issue with teaching consent.

“You cannot do a one-size-fits-all. My district, the unincorporated God bless them all, don’t want to be told what they think is consent, what they think is their curriculum, everybody has different degrees,” said Buck. [Pols emphasis]

We’re not sure exactly where to start unpacking this, so we’ll just lay the facts out for you like Zelinger did. House Bill 19-1032 defines “consent” as “the affirmative, unambiguous, voluntary, knowing agreement between all participants in each physical act within the course of a sexual encounter or interpersonal relationship.” This definition is legally consistent with the behavior anyone who wants to avoid being charged with the crime of sexual assault must adhere to. To the extent that such a foundational concept in a relationship might be negotiable or variable between…oh wait, consenting adults! There’s that word again. It’s as if there’s no getting away from it…

In truth, no matter which of the Fifty Shades of Gray is your particular shade–and be assured we do not ever want to know the answer, least not in the case of Rep. Perry Buck–a universally accepted definition of unambiguous consent is the place from which everybody needs to start. Not just educationally, or morally, but legally. If this isn’t obvious to you in a position of authority, you might end up like now-Congressman Ken Buck, who as Weld County DA called a 2005 alleged rape he declined to prosecute a case of “buyer’s remorse”–a decision that helped cost him a U.S. Senate seat five years later.

Without invoking a single body part, for which we are grateful, Perry Buck proved again why we need reality-based sex ed.

Weekend Open Thread

“The greatest obstacle to discovery is not ignorance–it is the illusion of knowledge.”

–Daniel Boorstin

Gardner’s Totally Predictable Wall Waffle Underway

SATURDAY UPDATE: Mid-waffle update–KRDO 13 reports:

“I think the President is right to pursue additional border security dollars,” Gardner says, [Pols emphasis] “I think Congress ought to do their job and make this border security a reality.”

The declaration receiving a lot of criticism from Democrats and Republicans, including questions about its legality. The Republican Senator saying that before things move forward on the proposed wall, he wants to find out himself.”That’s what i’m looking at before anything further is just understanding the law, understanding the legal ramifications.”

He’ll be home in time for supper, folks.

—–

Donald Trump, Cory Gardner.

In an interview yesterday with Colorado Public Radio, Sen. Cory Gardner sure sounded like he was certain about his opinion of President Donald Trump’s plan to declare a national emergency in order to build his wall fence barrier whatever you want to call it:

When asked whether Trump should declare an emergency or use other federal funds to pay for the wall, Gardner said he had personally told Trump he opposed both steps. [Pols emphasis]

“I think Congress needs to do its job,” Gardner said.

Was anything lost in translation from the live interview to the news story, you might reasonably ask?

Ryan Warner: How do you get the message to him that you don’t want him to perhaps declare a national emergency, as has been hinted? Or, raid other funds for this. How does —

Cory Gardner: Well, it’s pretty simple. I’d tell him that in person, that I think Congress needs to do its job.

Ryan Warner: Have you done, that? And do you —

Cory Gardner: I have.

Got that? Cory Gardner–not on board with the national emergency. As we pointed out. Yesterday.

Oh wait, you thought Sen. Gardner meant all that stuff, didn’t you? Sorry to disappoint you, but this is the same Cory Gardner less than 24 hours later! The only thing that’s changed is Trump has declared his emergency, and Gardner isn’t sitting next to Sen. Michael Bennet on Colorado Public Radio.

If you’ve ever found yourself frustrated at how Cory Gardner shamelessly utilizes Bennet as a human shield, particularly in situations where the Republican position is going to look unsalvageably bad–a frequent profanity-laden topic among Democratic operatives–this could be the most maddening occurrence yet. Gardner is caught midway through a fully predictable 180-degree pivot back to supporting Trump, and he simply lied his way through what could have been a telling confrontation over the issue yesterday with his Democratic counterpart.

If you didn’t already know to never take anything Gardner says at face value, here is the lesson writ large.

CCU Speaker Charles Murray: “Feminist & civil rights movement” made it “obligatory to not to be critical of blacks or women”

(He seems nice – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Colorado Christian University’s Centennial Institute hosted controversial author Charles Murray Monday evening as part of its “Distinguished Lecture Series.”

Murray’s speech addressed “The State of White America” and largely focused on the widening income gap between rich and poor Americans. Following the speech, an audience member asked Murray to explain the “intolerance and fear of new ideas” of the “New Elite,” Murray’s label for wealthy American intellectuals.

Question: Could you explain why the “new elite” has become so close-minded and intolerant and just frightened of ideas if they don’t follow whatever the spiel is on NPR?
Dr. Murray: To answer that you have to say, “What does the political correctness go back to?” I guess it goes back to both the feminist and civil rights movements, which had great moral authority, certainly among the new upper class and academia. And deserved great moral authority.
By the way I’m being very speculative here. I’ve thought about this a lot; I can’t document it.
In a way it became obligatory to not say things that seemed to be critical of blacks or of women. A raised consciousness about both minorities and women that appropriately produced a sense of guilt. That’s fine- no problem with that, but it went too far. And it stifled the expression of certain kinds of beliefs and that has kind of snowballed.
So first it was African Americans and women, and then you added homosexuals and then you added the disabled and then you went on down through the list and you have one group after another who has taken a victim status which circumscribes further the bounds of permissible discourse on all sorts of topics.

Murray did not identify the “new ideas” that might be discussed if this political correctness wasn’t preventing people from critiquing African-Americans, women, LGBT Americans, Americans with disabilities or other groups that he believes have “taken a victim status.”

Murray drew his speech from his 2012 book, “Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960-2010,” which he says addresses the “cultural fissures” that have emerged in America since 1960. He explained that he would only examine “non-Latino whites” to avoid arguments that the problems he is identifying “are the result of the legacy of slavery, racial divisions or ethnic problems, not that those aren’t real problems, but “you won’t come to grips with the dynamics that have been at work, until you understand that these have been happening within the white population.”

(more…)

The Knives Come Out For Clan Neville

Ex-Sen. Tim “Pa” Neville, Rep. Patrick “Boy” Neville.

The talk of the Colorado politics water-cooler set this Friday morning is a deep-dive from Marianne Goodland of the Phil Anschutz-owned Colorado Springs Gazette, covering in two detailed stories the intra-party division among legislative Republicans in the wake of the devastating 2018 wave election that gave Colorado Democrats almost unprecedented power at every level of state and county government.

The subject of today’s story is a dynastic Republican political family that we’ve written a great deal about in this space. Over the last few elections, the Neville family, led by now ex-Sen. Tim “Pa” Neville and his son House Minority Leader Patrick “Boy” Neville has acquired an outsize degree of influence in local Republican politics through both running family members and aggressive recruitment of loyal Republican candidates–leading in 2018 to management of the House GOP’s “independent expenditure” campaigns via the family’s political consultant business Rearden Strategic:

“It’s a family business and about controlling the power,” former Republican state Rep. B.J. Nikkel of Loveland, who served in the House from 2009 to 2013, told Colorado Politics.

Nikkel was referring to the control Neville, R-Castle Rock, and members of his family exercised over independent expenditures used to support Republicans running for the Legislature in 2018 or oppose their Democratic challengers — spending not coordinated with the candidates.

The Nevilles used that money “to keep their own little mountain of power,” Nikkel said, echoing comments made by other Republicans. [Pols emphasis]

Now, here’s the first thing to understand: there’s nothing out of the ordinary for the leadership in a given chamber to run the increasingly critical independent expenditure side of that party’s campaign. Before the Nevilles and Rearden Strategies did so for House Republicans in 2018, we had the example of GOP Senate President Bill Cadman’s Advantage Marketing–which very similarly to the Nevilles both developed the independent-side strategy for GOP Senate candidates and was widely seen as a vehicle for Cadman to cultivate his personal power base.

What’s the difference, you ask? On the surface it’s simple–Cadman won elections, while the Nevilles presided over one of the greatest humiliations for Colorado Republicans in the lifetime of anyone now living. But that’s not all: Cadman worked in concert with the state’s GOP elite and donor class, while the Nevilles sought to supplant that traditional Republican power structure with a much more radical model featuring the Neville family, hard-right movement ideologues, and Dudley Brown of Rocky Mountain Gun Owners calling the shots.

Undeniably, there were some examples of what can only be called amateur work product, like the slate of Jefferson County candidates advertised by Rearden that was so riddled with errors it was worse than putting up nothing at all. Goodland also reports that over $300,000 in campaign funds were left unspent in 2018, which is sure to aggrieve every Republican House candidate who lost last year. So, there’s that.

But beyond the second-guessing over details, this backbiting against the Nevilles represents to us another attempt by establishment Republicans to purge themselves of what they consider to be out-of-touch losers holding the party down. Readers  may recall how two years ago, the same Anschutz-owned media outlet became deeply enmeshed in controversy over Bob Beauprez’s Pioneer Action group–who rather brazenly attempted to “frag” a number of Neville-backed Republican candidates in 2016. The Gazette aggressively attacked the Republican who filed complaints over Pioneer Action’s red-on-red attacks in 2016, only clamming up after the complaint against Beauprez’s group was upheld.

The shortest summary to all this is that there is a civil war going on behind the scenes for the soul of the Republican Party in Colorado. It is not a new struggle by any means, but last year’s historic defeat for Republicans has instilled figures on both sides of this fight with a sense of urgency. The factions at this point are well-defined: it’s a battle between the Republican establishment controlled by a few powerful wealthy donors like Phil Anschutz, versus an unruly GOP grassroots coalition that regards the wealthy donor class as part of the same problem along with the Democrats.

However this struggle resolves–and if it ever does–the political damage to the GOP will be significant.

Tom Sullivan Makes Powerful Case for Red Flag Bill

State Rep. Tom Sullivan (D-Centennial) speaks about his support for “Red Flag” legislation.

We wrote yesterday about so-called “Red Flag” gun safety legislation (also known as an “extreme risk protection order”) that is returning to the Colorado Legislature. Freshman Rep. Tom Sullivan (D-Centennial) is one of the bill’s sponsors, and on Thursday he delivered a heart-wrenching statement about his personal motivation for supporting the legislation. Sullivan’s son, Alex, was among the 12 people killed in the Aurora Theater Shooting on July 20, 2012.

You can watch Sullivan’s entire statement below via 9News. We have also provided a transcription of Sullivan’s statement, but you should really watch the video — just make sure you have a box of tissues nearby.

State Representative Tom Sullivan (Feb. 14, 2019):

Not many people know how to talk to the parent of a murdered child. Certainly not one whose picture was on the front page of the newspaper, that they have all seen.

I mean, I’m wearing Alex’s jacket right now. I wear this jacket every day when I take the bus on in here. Because he’s with me. And I can feel him in me. And maybe that scares some of them.

But I’m not doing this for Alex and my family. I’m doing it for yours. Because this is as bad as you think it is. Watching your child’s body drop into the ground is as bad as it gets. And I’m going to do everything I can to make sure that none of you have to do that.

And I don’t care what Party you belong to. I don’t care what gender you are. I don’t care what country you came from. I’m going to do everything until this jacket falls off of me. I’m working every day to do this.

Trump to Declare Wall Emergency; Gardner Looks Silly (Again)

“Wall, wall, wall. Wall.”

As the Washington Post reports, President Trump is expected to sign compromise legislation preventing another government shutdown…but he’s also going to declare a “national emergency” so that he can siphon off more money for his big ol’ border wall:

President Trump is prepared to sign a massive spending and border security deal, while at the same time declaring a national emergency to get more money to build his border wall, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said Thursday.

McConnell made the announcement on the Senate floor, and told senators to prepare to vote shortly on the legislation that would stave off a government shutdown Friday at midnight.

“The president will sign the bill. We’ll be voting on it shortly,” McConnell said.

McConnell also said he’d told the president he would support the emergency declaration, which would allow the president to circumvent Congress and use the military to build his wall. McConnell has voiced opposition for weeks to the idea of Trump declaring a national emergency. [Pols emphasis]

This is a pretty abrupt change from McConnell, and as you’ll see in a moment, it appears to be a surprise to other Republicans like Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma).  Earlier today, Gardner appeared with Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Denver) for an interview with Ryan Warner of Colorado Public Radio. This exact topic was the first item of discussion:

WARNER: Senator Gardner, let’s do a reality check here. Congress controls the purse strings for the most part. Is it realistic for the President to get the wall built without Congress?

GARDNER: Well, again, you’d have to check the legal authorities that might be there, but I don’t think he should do anything without Congress’ approval. It’s important for Congress to have the appropriate oversight. That’s why this deal is, I think, a compromise that he will sign. I believe he will. Nancy Pelosi said she would not allow one dollar to go to the barrier, barriers on the border. President Trump said he wanted $5.7 billion, and this is a reasonable path forward allowing the government to maintain itself in operation while also providing border security.

WARNER: So how do you get the message to him perhaps that you don’t want him to declare a national emergency, as has been hinted, or raid other funds for this?

GARDNER: Well, it’s pretty simple. I can tell him that in person, that I think Congress needs to do its job.

WARNER: Have you done that?

GARDNER: I have.

WARNER: Alright.

Look who got stuck holding the bag.

D’oh!

Gardner hasn’t missed many opportunities to lavish praise on President Trump lately, perhaps in part because Colorado Republicans remain oddly enamored with the big orange guy (unfortunately for Gardner, the rest of Colorado disagrees with both Trump and his wall).

Just last month, Gardner became one of the first high-profile Republicans to officially endorse Trump’s re-election campaign, which earned him a Presidential Tweet. But when it comes down to policy issues, for everything from a border wall to North Korea, Trump has no problem stepping over Gardner.

Politically-speaking, this could soon get much worse for Gardner and friends. As CNN noted earlier this week, the “national emergency” approach has long terrified Congressional Republicans:

That’s because doing so could set off a chain of events on Capitol Hill that risks splitting the Republican conference, undercutting other parts of Trump’s agenda and likely opening the administration’s actions to legal challenges. It would also provide a clarifying moment that Republicans on the Hill have managed to avoid since Trump took office — casting an up or down vote on whether to build the full-scale wall Trump desires.

According to federal law, Congress can rescind a presidential emergency declaration by passing a joint resolution. In the likely event that such a bill would be vetoed by the President, Congress could then override it with a two-thirds majority in the Senate and the House.

The danger to congressional Republicans isn’t having to overcome a presidential veto, but in having to vote on the resolution itself. Any such measure would be considered privileged — if, for example, the House passed it then the Senate would be required by law to vote on the measure within 18 days. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell would be powerless to stop a floor vote.

Gardner says that he has told Trump directly that he disagrees with a “national emergency” declaration — which didn’t seem to make any difference to Trump. Gardner might soon have to cast a vote on this very issue, which will most certainly make a difference with Colorado voters in 2020.

Loyalty has its price. When it comes to Gardner and Trump, only one person appears to be making any payments.

Denver Teachers Win Big After Successful Strike

Vox’s Alexia Fernández Campbell reports on the developing conclusion to the three-day strike by teachers of the Denver Classroom Teachers Association, ending in victory for the teachers and heralding a new ascendancy for organized labor power in Colorado under Gov. Jared Polis:

Details are not yet available, but the deal includes an average 11.7 percent pay raise and annual cost of living increases, according to the school district and the Denver Classroom Teachers Association, a labor union representing more than 5,000 educators in Denver public schools. It will also include raises for school support staff. Bus drivers and cafeteria workers may also get a raise, but that’s not part of the official agreement with the teachers union.

It also addresses the teachers’ biggest concern: the need to overhaul the merit-pay system, which relies heavily on annual bonuses that fluctuate from year to year. The new system will place more emphasis on education and training when considering promotions, while keeping some bonuses in place…

Teachers did make some concessions, but the deal represents a remarkable win for Denver’s teachers, who have been picketing and rallying in the streets for the past two days, while school administrators struggled to keep classes on schedule. It’s also a sign of the overwhelming momentum teachers have on their side from months of widespread teacher strikes across the country over school funding cuts and low teacher pay.

After the DCTA voted by 93% to walk out, the state Department of Labor and Employment under the direction of Gov. Polis could have ordered a so-called “cooling off period” of up to six months, which would have deprived teachers of their power to back up their negotiations with action. There was considerable worry that Polis would do just that, especially after the governor and his staff took an active role in attempting to mediate between the sides early on.

In the end, though, the decision by Gov. Polis not to curtail the teachers’ ability to strike made it clear who would have the upper hand. In addition Denver Public Schools management did very little to ingratiate themselves with the public, after a message to visa-holding noncitizen teachers wrongly threatening to report them to immigration officials and stories of school administrators trying to censor students documenting the dysfunction on campus.

The proposed new contract, which still needs to be ratified by the teachers, gives the teachers much more than they were offered before the strike–which is, of course, the most important measurement of success. And for Gov. Polis, his campaign promise to be an advocate for working people and organized labor in particular is looking well-kept as of now.

Poll: Colorado Republicans Are Completely Fucked

Rinse, repeat

The conservative polling outfit Magellan Strategies, which is based in Colorado, recently queried Colorado Republicans in an effort to “learn how Republican voters want to move forward.” What Magellan found is that Colorado Republicans are totally and completely hosed for at least the next couple of years.

As Ernest Luning writes for the publication formerly known as the Colorado Statesman, it’s not hyperbole to call these numbers disastrous for the GOP:

President Donald Trump remains wildly popular among Colorado Republican voters, and they overwhelmingly believe immigration is the most important issue facing them, a new survey conducted by a GOP polling firm finds.

And by a wide margin, Republicans in Colorado prefer uncompromising conservative candidates to moderates who are willing to work with Democrats to get thing done, according to the survey made available in advance to Colorado Politics…

…“It’s all Trump. They love Trump,” said pollster Ryan Winger, director of data analysis for the Louisville-based firm. “Call it partisan, call it tribal — they support the president.”

You can read the full polling memo from Magellan Strategies, but this is the problem in a nutshell for the GOP: Colorado Republicans love President Trump and a majority are only interested in supporting hard-right Republican candidates at every level of government. Unfortunately for Republicans, this is not at all what the vast majority of Coloradans would prefer. As Magellan pollster Ryan Winger tells Colorado Politics:

“Dislike of President Trump was a big reason why Republicans got swept out of the statewide offices in November. When Republicans say the problem is our guys weren’t enough like Trump, there’s a complete disconnect there between what they’re thinking and what other voters in Colorado are thinking.” [Pols emphasis]

Let’s take a deeper look at some of the more noteworthy numbers from Magellan’s latest poll:

Colorado Republicans give President Trump an astounding 90% approval rating — with 72% of respondents saying that they “strongly approve” of the President’s performance. It would be an understatement to say that these numbers are not supported by the rest of Colorado voters. Among all Coloradans, Trump’s approval rating is at about 39% (and as you may recall, Trump did not carry Colorado in 2016).

A different survey conducted by Magellan Strategies shortly after the 2018 election found that Colorado Unaffiliated voters were THREE TIMES more likely to vote against Republican candidates because of their dislike of Trump. As Magellan’s David Flaherty said at the time, those results “can only be described as extraordinary … because in the past 20 years, never has one political party been so overwhelmingly rejected at every level of representative government by the electorate.”

Among Colorado Republicans, immigration is far and away the single most important issue. Magellan found that 48% of Republican Primary voters and 40% of non-Primary voters prioritize immigration reform policies above any other subject. A full 88% of Republican respondents support the idea of a big ‘ol border wall. “Government spending” (11%) and “Transportation” (10%) were the next most popular issues. The rest of Colorado is much less interested in this topic; in 2018, Unaffiliated voters in Colorado listed “Healthcare” and “Education” as the foremost issues that drove them to the polls.

Colorado Republicans have no interest in candidates looking to find a middle ground, with 61% of respondents saying they prefer “uncompromising, conservative candidates” to “moderate candidates.” This suggests that Republicans are stuck in the same endless loop of nominating the most right-wing candidate for a General Election drubbing, in part because they are sticking with conspiracy theories to explain their 2018 losses. This section of Luning’s Colorado Politics story should make every Republican cringe:

While the Republicans who responded to the poll had plenty of theories to explain their losses in November, the most common reason appeared to be widespread voting by new residents — from California and other bastions of liberalism — as well as a suspicion that immigrants in the country illegally and voting fraudulently are responsible for Democratic wins in Colorado.

“Every available set of information and facts out there tells you it doesn’t happen, and voter fraud is basically nonexistent,” Winger said. “The system of elections in Colorado is consistently ranked the best in the country. I don’t know how you dislodge that in people’s minds.”

He added that the notion that illegal immigrants are behind Republican losses at the ballot box dovetails with another assumption the pollsters heard from the Republican voters, that the media are somehow suppressing the real story.

“It’s this idea that because they love Trump, the only reason [he] and his agenda wouldn’t be popular is if a bunch of illegal people are voting, and the people aren’t hearing the truth about Trump and his policies. When they see a survey that says Trump is not popular, they just don’t believe it.”

Welp, there you have it. If ignorance is bliss, as the saying goes, then Colorado Republicans are happy, happy, happy.

For different reasons, Colorado Democrats should be equally thrilled.

“Red Flag” Returns With GOP Cowed By Dudley Brown

The Denver Post’s Anna Staver reports on the introduction of a bill today that’s sure to result in some of the most vigorous debate of the 2019 session–a debate that, if history is any guide, will struggle mightily to remain inside the bounds of reality:

It’s called a “red flag” or extreme risk protection order bill, and House Majority Leader Alec Garnett, D-Denver, is again sponsoring it in memory of Douglas County sheriff’s deputy Zackari Parrish, who was killed at a Highlands Ranch apartment complex in 2017 while he tried to negotiate with a man in the midst of a mental health crisis…

The way an extreme risk protection order would work under this bill is that law enforcement, family member or a household member could petition a judge for the removal of a person’s firearms. The judge would hold a hearing — without the gun owner being present — to decide whether to grant a temporary order for up to 14 days.

During those two weeks, the gun owner and the person who asked for the order would tell the judge why those weapons should or shouldn’t be returned. The judge could extend the order for up to 364 days.

As Staver reports and the details are worth understanding, this year’s version of the bill includes changes suggested by criminal defense lawyers to ensure that anyone subject to a court order to temporarily surrender their firearms has access both to legal representation and a clear path to having their gun rights restored. These changes are intended to mollify Republican opponents, who have repeated the mantra for years of “focusing on mental health” with regard to gun safety instead of regulations on hardware and access. Public polling shows overwhelming 80%+ support for “red flag” legislation, which on seemingly any issue except guns would make this a political no-brainer.

Despite these changes, this year’s bill appears to have even less Republican support than the 2018 version. The reason for this is well-known to our readers, after the bill’s GOP co-sponsor in the House last year was pummeled in return by the Rocky Mountain Gun Owners during the election–“friendly fire” that played a key role in Cole Wist’s loss to Democratic Rep. Tom Sullivan. Sullivan, the father of a victim of the Aurora theater shooting, could not be more antithetical to RMGO’s agenda, but that didn’t matter to them as much as enforcing party discipline on their single issue.

And even though “red flag” is as good as law in the 2019 solid blue Colorado General Assembly, there’s little doubt that RMGO considers the lack of Republican support for the bill this year to be a strategic victory–while the rest of the Republican coalition would call it winning a battle to lose the war. We’ll be watching closely to see if any other Republicans who have expressed prior support have the courage to speak up for the current bill. Here’s looking at you, George Brauchler.

The key difference is that this year, Republican infighting over this bill is background noise.

They are irrelevant–thanks in no small part to RMGO.

Thursday Open Thread

“The trouble with most of us is that we would rather be ruined by praise than saved by criticism.”

–Norman Vincent Peale

Womp Womp, Colin Kaepernick Edition

Colin Kaepernick.

The Hill reports:

A store in Colorado will be closing down after more than 20 years in business after its decision to stop selling Nike merchandise.

The store, Prime Time Sports, first made headlines in September when it announced it would pull Nike merchandise to protest the company’s decision to feature former NFL player Colin Kaepernick as the face of its ad campaign…

Prime Time Sports in Colorado Springs’ Chapel Hills Mall made national headlines last fall over their decision to blow out their Nike inventory and stop selling the brand’s products in protest of their ad campaign featuring ex-QB Colin Kaepernick, whose silent kneeling demonstrations during the national anthem ahead of NFL games made him an unemployed political lightning rod. If there is any place in America where a sporting goods store’s jilting of such a key brand would be survivable, one would think the conservative bastion of Colorado Springs would be it.

But as it turns out,

“As much as I hate to admit this, perhaps there are more Brandon Marshall and Colin Kaepernick supporters out there than I realized,” he added. [Pols emphasis]

For all the pundits who warned that football and politics make for bad business, here’s an example of the rule cutting both ways–even in the reddest of locales! The only thing we can add is our hope that Joe Flacco works out for the Broncos, since boycotting Kaepernick hasn’t exactly been a winning choice for John Elway either.

It’s Official: Gardner 2020 Campaign Kicks Off in DC With Leadership Luncheon

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Gardner & McConnell NRSC election night 2018

Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner is officially running for re-election next year.

His 2020 campaign will “kick off” Feb. 27 with a Washington, D.C. luncheon hosted by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), “benefiting the reelection campaign of Senator Cory Gardner (R-CO).”

This event invitation appears to put to rest speculation among political pundits that Gardner may have been thinking about stepping down in the face of discouraging poll numbers.

(more…)

Bill Coming Due for Gardner on Healthcare #FAIL

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Sen. Cory Gardner (July 28, 2017)

Poll after poll has shown that healthcare was the most dominant political issue of the 2018 election cycle, in which Democrats took majority control of the U.S. House of Representatives and earned sweeping victories across the country — including here in Colorado. Republicans were well aware of this problem ahead of Election Day; they tried unsuccessfully to mitigate the impact last fall with a silly measure intended to show that the GOP really did care about pre-existing conditions.

The Republican healthcare problem is back in the news today with a report from the Washington Post about a recent conversation between House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and top GOP donors:

Speaking privately to his donors, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy squarely blamed Republican losses in last year’s midterm elections on the GOP push to roll back health insurance protections for people with preexisting conditions — and in turn blamed his party’s right flank.

McCarthy’s comments, made in a Feb. 6 conference call from which The Washington Post obtained partial recordings, represent a vindication of Democratic efforts to elevate health care as an issue in last year’s campaign. And in singling out the House Freedom Caucus, the remarks threaten to rekindle internal resentments inside the House Republican Conference…

…Elsewhere on the call, McCarthy offered a selective account of the 2017 health-care battles on Capitol Hill, where Republicans in the House toiled for months to craft an alternative to the Affordable Care Act, narrowly passing a bill in May before watching the Senate abandon the effort three months later.

“When we couldn’t pass the repeal of Obamacare the first way through, an amendment came because the Freedom Caucus wouldn’t vote for” the original House bill, McCarthy said. “That amendment put [the] preexisting condition campaign against us, and so even people who are running for the very first time got attacked on that. And that was the defining issue and the most important issue in the race.”

McCarthy’s frank assessment of how Republicans bungled attempts at changing healthcare policy will be particularly relevant for Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) as he approaches his re-election campaign. Gardner makes a lot of vacuous statements about healthcare policy as he tries to dance around the fact that he was a reliable vote for every Republican attempt at gutting the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in 2017. He won’t be able to shimmy around these tough questions with his name on the ballot in 2020.

July 27, 2017

Mark Matthews (then of the Denver Post) foresaw this very scenario for Gardner after Sen. John McCain dramatically sank Republican efforts to dismantle healthcare protections for Americans in July 2017:

…[Gardner] wouldn’t take a concrete position on any of the GOP plans to undo the 2010 health care law — only to back every major Republican proposal last week to come up for a vote, from repeal-and-replace to repeal-and-delay.

On one level, it’s not surprising: Gardner ran for Senate in 2014 on a pledge to dismantle the ACA and, as chair of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, he’s close to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and tasked with the responsibility of ensuring that his GOP colleagues — most of whom want to unwind the ACA — get re-elected in 2018.

“I am committed to reforming our nation’s broken health care system, and I’ll continue to work to bring relief to Coloradans being hurt by the negative impacts of Obamacare,” Gardner said after the repeal effort collapsed early Friday.

But the way the fight played out — from his own wavering to the Senate’s rushed, overnight vote — leaves Gardner exposed back in Colorado, a swing state with an active conservative base but one where surveys have shown a greater desire to fix the ACA rather than repeal it.

It is, of course, deeply ironic that a politician who rose to prominence because of his opposition to the ACA will struggle to win another term in office…for the exact same reason.

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