Mike Pence Coming to Colorado for Gardner

Vice President Pence (left) and Sen. Cory Gardner

As Joe St. George reports for Fox 31 Denver, Vice President Mike Pence will be in Colorado next week to raise money for the 2020 re-election campaigns of President Trump and Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma):

Vice President Mike Pence will visit Colorado next week. He will be in the state until Tuesday.

According to a White House source, Pence will help Senator Cory Gardner’s reelection effort in Windsor, Co — a rural community north of Denver. The event in Winsor is not expected to be a public event. It will be a private fundraiser according to sources.

Additionally, Pence will be in Aspen for a Trump Victory Fundraiser and the Republican Governor’s Association Quarterly Meeting.

Vice President Pence’s previous fundraising visits to Colorado have been met with fairly…unenthusiastic crowds. When Pence visited Colorado last October, in fact, quite literally no Colorado politicians were on hand to greet his arrival at Buckley Air Force Base.

We’ll be interested to see if Pence’s Windsor visit attracts more than just a few crickets — and whether this fundraiser for Gardner will be worthy of the Yuma Senator’s own attendance. Gardner kicked off his 2020 re-election effort in Washington D.C. earlier this year but has yet to hold a major campaign event inside the borders of Colorado.

Either way, here’s hoping some of that world-famous Colorado BBQ is on the menu in Windsor.

Trump Now Calls Racist Chanters “Incredible Patriots”

President Trump in North Carolina (7/17/19)

We wrote yesterday that President Trump seemed to be in damage control mode after the “send her back” chants that erupted during a campaign rally in North Carolina on Wednesday.

So much for that.

As the Washington Post reports today, Trump may now be in a different kind of damage control mode with his frothing base:

President Trump stepped back Friday from a day-old claim that he was unhappy with a hostile chant by his supporters, lashing out at the media for its coverage of the episode and calling the crowd at the North Carolina rally “incredible patriots.” [Pols emphasis]

“Those are incredible people. Those are incredible patriots,” Trump said during an event in the Oval Office at which he again attacked Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), the Somali-born lawmaker whom he was criticizing at his rally earlier this week when the chants of “Send her back!” rang out.

“She’s lucky to be where she is, let me tell you,” Trump said. “And the things that she has said are a disgrace to our country.”

Asked about his unhappiness with the rally chant, Trump said, “You know what I’m unhappy with — the fact that a congresswoman can hate our country. I’m unhappy with the fact that a congresswoman can say anti-Semitic things.”

Perhaps Trump is no longer pretending that he was opposed to the “send her back” chant, since video of the event shows a man making no effort to put a stop to it:

As David Brooks writes for the New York Times, there is no reason to dispute that Trump’s vision of America — at least as it pertains to his re-election campaign — is anything other than what we saw in North Carolina this week:

So apparently Donald Trump wants to make this an election about what it means to be American. He’s got his vision of what it means to be American, and he’s challenging the rest of us to come up with a better one.

In Trump’s version, “American” is defined by three propositions. First, to be American is to be xenophobic. The basic narrative he tells is that the good people of the heartland are under assault from aliens, elitists and outsiders. Second, to be American is to be nostalgic. America’s values were better during some golden past. Third, a true American is white. White Protestants created this country; everybody else is here on their sufferance.

When you look at Trump’s American idea you realize that it contradicts the traditional American idea in every particular. In fact, Trump’s national story is much closer to the Russian national story than it is toward our own. It’s an alien ideology he’s trying to plant on our soil.

Trump’s vision is radically anti-American.

There are now just 473 days until the next election.

Please, Please Don’t Throw Me Into the Recall Thicket!

“Everywhere you look, people are circulating petitions to recall elected officials throughout the state. And yes, it’s all a little silly.”

The Pueblo Chieftain (July 18, 2019)

As you may have heard, there are a lot of nonsense recall campaigns being instituted by a handful of disgruntled Republicans still steaming over big election losses in 2018. Most, if not all, of these recall efforts appear doomed to fail because of disunity, disorganization, and a general lack of sense.

On Thursday, Republican Nancy “Don’t Call Me Pelosi” Pallozzi received official approval to restart her recall of State Sen. Brittany Pettersen (D-Lakewood), apparently after the group realized that they were basing their complaints in part on legislation that Pettersen never even had a chance to vote on (not to mention that the group was trying to collect petition signatures well outside of Pettersen’s actual Senate district).

Newspaper editorial boards across the state have been calling out these recall efforts for months. On Thursday, the editorial board of the Pueblo Chieftain took its turn at the piñata:

If you support the brand of democracy that our country’s founders intended, then you should be worried by all this…

Absent some scandals or demonstrations of monumental incompetence, these recall efforts have to be viewed as what they really are — attempts to undo the will of the voters. The recall supporters are like those kids on the playground who always insisted on a “do-over” every time they lost a game. [Pols emphasis]

Do you want to make this summer a little less silly? Then don’t sign a frivolous recall petition.

The Chieftain makes a very succinct point in this regard by using the example of the various convoluted recall efforts targeting Gov. Jared Polis:

There’s been no indication he’s done anything illegal or improper during his first six months-plus on the job. To the contrary, he’s shown himself to be pretty much the person he advertised himself to be on the campaign trail last year. [Pols emphasis]

Are there people who disagree with some of his initiatives? Sure. Those were, in large part, the same people who voted against him last November. But guess what? Polis won that election, with the support of the majority of the state’s voters.

From The Durango Herald (April 12, 2019)

The Greeley Tribune made a similar argument in March about recall efforts targeting then-Rep. Rochelle Galindo:

The best advice we can offer recall backers is put your money into electing a better candidate in 2020. [Pols emphasis] In 2018, 22,783 people cast ballots, with more than 12,000 voting for Galindo. Republican candidate Michael Thuener received more than 10,000 votes, but still lost by 7 percentage points.

Recall elections are costly, especially considering the two-year timeline of elections for the District 50 seat. Instead, it’s fine to oppose Galindo, but let her do her job. Then if she’s not working for this community, elect a new candidate, but do it in 2020.

The Galindo recall was the first such effort of 2019…and also the first to acknowledge that its actions were strictly an attempt to re-do the November election. Back in April, former Weld County GOP Chairwoman Stacey Kjeldgaard candidly (or accidentally) admitted that that Galindo recall effort was mostly about the fact that she was a Democrat and not because of any of her actions or votes at the State Capitol.

“Recall is a tool voters should use only to remove people from office who are seriously negligent in performing their duties or are engaged in official misconduct.”

The Grand Junction Sentinel (June 18, 2019)

A few months later, the Grand Junction Sentinel hit on the same points:

Some Coloradans don’t like recent legislative outcomes, so they’re interested in either changing them or punishing lawmakers for taking certain positions…

…Throughout its history, The Sentinel has taken the position that recalls are only appropriate in cases of malfeasance or incapacity. Competence is in the eye of beholder. One voter’s anger over a legislator’s record is another’s joy. There’s a huge difference between recalling someone because they are corrupt and trying to remove them from office because you disagree with their policies.

Ditto Aurora Sentinel editor Dave Perry from May 14:

There’s a handful of loosely related far-right extremists trying to undermine Colorado’s election system to serve their own political purposes. Among them is Joe Neville, who runs a political action committee called Values First Colorado. He’s the brother of GOP state Rep. Patrick Neville, a champion for snuffing bills like Colorado’s red flag law in favor of arming teachers with guns in schools. Joe Neville wants to recall a few Democratic state lawmakers because they voted for bills focusing on things like protecting children from sexual abuse by providing better sex ed at school, and a bill making sure local cops aren’t tools of national immigration police.

We’re not talking about extreme measures like making kids get their vaccines or making bikers wear motorcycle helmets, we’re talking about no-brainer legislation that real people in Colorado have repeatedly said they want.

These recalls are beyond Colorado crazy. This is Trump crazy.

About a month earlier, the editorial board of the Durango Herald explained how previous recall efforts merely proved that organizers were the ones who were out-of-touch with Colorado voters:

Colorado in this respect has been spooked by 2013, when two Democratic members of the state Senate were recalled, including the Senate president, after they supported gun-control measures. (Durango Rep. Mike McLachlan, another Democrat, also was targeted.) Republicans were elected in their stead, and then, in the 2014 election, they were defeated by Democrats. It was a circular exercise.

Last year, an effort to recall La Plata County Commissioner Gwen Lachelt, one of two Democrats on the three-seat board, fell just short of the number of petition signatures needed. Then, in November, voters put a third Democrat on the commission.

“Oh, please don’t try to recall me.”

And here’s the editorial board of the Denver Post from April 10:

Some of the folks who are spinning this web of outrage, especially state House Minority Leader Patrick Neville, R-Castle Rock, should know better. His vocal support of the recall efforts of Sen. Jeff Bridges, Rep. Meg Froelich and Rep. Rochelle Galindo is painting him and the caucus he leads as political operatives rather than thoughtful lawmakers doing the work of the people at the Capitol.

Colorado Republicans aren’t really pretending that these recall efforts are anything other than an attempt to line the pockets of consultants and sidestep Colorado voters in order to sneak in a few more Republican lawmakers. As these editorials show, the folly of these recalls look the same anywhere you travel in Colorado.

We’ve thought for awhile now that the idiocy of these recall efforts is backfiring on Colorado Republicans by giving Democrats new reasons to organize and reach out to voters a year ahead of the next election. Ol’ Brer Rabbit would be mighty proud.

Trump in Damage Control Mode After “Send Her Back” Chants

As CNN reports, President Trump is now pretending that he disavows chants of “send her back” that broke out at a campaign rally in North Carolina Wednesday evening:

President Donald Trump claimed Thursday to be unhappy that his rally crowd broke out into chants of “send her back” as he denigrated a Democratic lawmaker he’d previously said should leave the US.

“I was not happy with it. I disagree with it. But again, I didn’t say that, they did,” Trump said at the White House a day after the rally, when a crowded arena in North Carolina began the thundering chant as he assailed Rep. Ilhan Omar, a freshman Minnesota Democrat.

Trump’s apparent disavowal came after expressions of concern from Republicans and outright outrage from Democrats, who accused the President of stoking racist sentiments among his white working class base…

…Speaking to reporters, Trump claimed to have attempted to stop the chant Wednesday night by resuming his speech, though he waited 12 seconds before speaking as the crowd loudly shouted the three words.

In the lull, Trump appeared to listen, letting the chant gain momentum, before resuming his speech, which continued with a litany of complaints against Omar and the other lawmakers.

Later in his remarks, Trump encouraged his audience to “tell them to leave” the US if they continue to criticize him.

Kudos to CNN for including the qualifier that Trump “claimed” to be unhappy with the chant. As Greg Sargent writes for the Washington Post: “As the president of the United States leads a domestic hate movement, the world is watching.”

Get More Smarter on Thursday (July 18)

High temperatures in the Denver area are predicted to exceed 100 degrees today, so slather that sunscreen in every nook and cranny. It’s time to “Get More Smarter.” 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…

 “Send her back” might be the “lock her up” chant equivalent of 2020 for supporters of President Trump. As Stephen Collinson writes for CNN:

In a moment of unrestrained demagoguery, President Donald Trump presided Wednesday over a crowd chanting “Send her back! Send her back!” about an American Muslim congresswoman who he targeted with racist attacks.

The scenes at a North Carolina rally provided an ugly overture to a 2020 election campaign already soaked in hate. They exemplified the tribal politics and white nationalism that Trump is making clear he plans to ride to reelection, no matter their impact on America’s fragile societal harmony.

The chants of “Send her back!” referred to Somalia-born, American citizen Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, one of four minority lawmakers attacked by Trump over the weekend. The invective from the crowd replaced the “Lock her up!” and “Build the wall!” chants of Trump’s first campaign with a jarring racial refrain that the commander-in-chief, speaking from behind a podium bearing the symbolic presidential seal, made no effort to stop.

There is at least one Republican Congressman who is aghast at these chants, and he’s speaking up. Again, from CNN:

Republican Rep. Adam Kinzinger of Illinois on Thursday morning called a chant that broke out at President Donald Trump’s rally the previous night — when the crowd yelled “send her back” as the President targeted Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota — “ugly” and “wrong” and said it “would send chills down the spines of our Founding Fathers.”

“I deeply disagree with the extreme left & have been disgusted by their tone. I woke up today equally disgusted – chants like ‘send her back’ are ugly, wrong, & would send chills down the spines of our Founding Fathers. This ugliness must end, or we risk our great union,” Kinzinger said in a tweet on Thursday morning.

Other Republican elected officials are looking to Vice President Mike Pence for answers, since they’re too afraid to actually confront the big orange guy. No, seriously, read this story.

 

► It’s gonna be a hot day today in Colorado, which might make you wonder about the impact of Climate Change. You could ask the federal government for more information, but as Politico reports, you would have trouble finding an answer:

The Agriculture Department quashed the release of a sweeping plan on how to respond to climate change that was finalized in the early days of the Trump administration, according to a USDA employee with knowledge of the decision.

Staff members across several USDA agencies drafted the multiyear plan that outlines how the department should help agriculture understand, adapt to and minimize the effects of climate change…

…The revelation comes after a recent POLITICO investigation found that the department had largely stopped promoting its own scientific findings about the consequences of climate change. The USDA has also moved away from using phrases like climate change, climate, and greenhouse gas emissions in press releases and social media posts.

 

► If Senator Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) thinks President Trump is guilty of making racist statements, he is keeping that opinion to himself. As Kyle Clark of 9News notes, Gardner’s staff finally responded to requests for comment in a very odd manner:

 

Get even more smarter after the jump…

(more…)

House GOP Chief Of Staff Pfaff Answers Accusation Of Threatening Fellow Republican

(Republican Party events are probably great fun these days — Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Colorado Republicans continue to air internal disputes over the airwaves and social media, accusing and denying various claims of blackmail, threats and extortion.

House GOP Chief of Staff Jim Pfaff joined KNUS’ Chuck & Julie show for an hour-long interview on Monday. Responding to ongoing claims in a Denver Post column by former El Paso County Chair Josh Hosler that he threatened Hosler’s family, Pfaff technically denied the accusation, but with some significant qualifications:

KNUS host Julie Hayden: I mean one of the things he did in [the op-ed] is he attacked you for saying you were going to attack his family, right?
Pfaff: “It’s just amazing that he has been implying that the whole time. Now, if he feels threatened or whatever, I don’t– all I did was just tell him, “What if I were threatening you.” I didn’t threaten to threaten him. I didn’t say I was going to do it. And obviously, after the phone call, I didn’t.”

Listen to the exchange here, which begins with Hayden’s radio partner Chuck Bonniwell reading from Hosler’s guest column:

Pfaff also explained the origins of the dispute, recounting Hosler’s issues with Rocky Mountain Gun Owners (RMGO) president Dudley Brown:

House Minority Chief of Staff Jim Pfaff: About mid-May, someone told me that Josh was putting together a book to try to expose Dudley Brown and RMGO for personal issues. And I’m like, “WHAT?!” But I kind of pawned it off for a little bit, until I got a call from someone who …would have been dragged through the mud by what Josh was trying to claim with Dudley, had they talked to him. Well, fast forward [to] just a few days after that, and he and I are having a Twitter battle over this whole thing. We’re ramping up — [Colorado Republican Party Vice Chair] Kristi Brown is ramping up the whole recall. And I’m like, going back and forth on Twitter with him, like, “Can we just back off of this? Why are we fighting together? We got to get this thing going! Maybe it won’t work, but it’s definitely not going to work if we’re all in a circular firing squad.

The recall Pfaff is referring to was the failed attempt to remove Rep. Tom Sullivan (D-Centennial), a joint effort of RMGO and the Colorado Republican Party. Although embraced by Minority Leader Neville and Vice Chair Brown, (both considered RMGO allies) the wisdom of the longshot endeavor had been questioned by other GOP officials and leaders.

Hosler stands by his column, saying via email that he has a recording of Pfaff’s threat that he has shared with others and that the Denver Post would not have printed his column without that recording. In an email, Editorial Page Editor Megan Schrader said that while she had not heard a recording of the call, in the fact-check she conducted with Pfaff he did not refute the conversation he had and that he would let Hosler’s statement stand on its own.

Rep. Dave Williams

Hosler also confirmed the claims made on Facebook by El Paso County GOP Women President Missy Ward, that Rep. Dave Williams (R-Colorado Springs) shared false rumors about Hosler w/ Pfaff in an attempt to blackmail him. Hosler further accused Williams of using those same rumors to “extort” him last year:

“While I was Chairman of El Paso County Rep Party, Rep. Williams tried to use the same rumors that Pfaff tried to use to extort me. Rep Williams said if I didn’t make sure he did not get a primary in 2018 he would smear me with the same false rumors he shared with Pfaff.”

Pfaff posted a link to his radio interview on Facebook, calling the dispute a “petty situation” and saying he “answered the accusations made against [him] by Josh Hosler.”

Rep. Mark Baisley (R-Roxborough Park) supported Pfaff on Facebook, commenting:

“I listened live to your interview, Jim. I believe that you clarified matters. It was not a case of getting too cozy with [Rocky Mountain Gun Owners]. Rather, some leftover tenderness from a lost election that did not seem fair to Josh.”

Longtime Colorado conservative Matt Arnold, who is the filing agent for Neville’s House GOP caucus fund, Values First Colorado, took issue with Bailey’s assertion that Republicans can’t afford this much infighting because a “far more determined and cruel enemy is lurking.” Arnold tracked Pfaff’s complaints about “establishment GOP operatives mucking up the system,” saying that the GOP’s real enemy is the “establishment crony class.”

Pfaff’s comments about the establishment echo those he made on the radio, when he told the hosts:

There is a cadre of consultants who make a lot of money by keeping the status quo that we’ve lived with for the last 15 years. I complained about it when I was chairman of the Douglas County Republican Party and on the state committee. This has been a problem for a long, long time. I’ve been a consultant myself in previous years, prior to going to Washington D.C., and I don’t have a problem with people making money doing consulting. My problem is that they’re not about winning.

Throwback Thursday: When Colorado Republicans Opposed Racism


Nate Marshall.

The past week has seen a massive escalation of racial tensions in American politics, primarily the result of President Donald Trump’s racist attacks on four women of color who have been vocal opponents of the President since winning office last November. It’s important to be clear from the outset that Trump’s call for four members of Congress, three of whom were born in this country to “go back” to their countries of origin cannot be interpreted any way other than as a racially motivated attack–since by definition persons born in this country have nowhere to “go back” to.

Since Trump’s racist attacks on these four members of Congress over the weekend, Colorado Republicans have played an uneasy game of cat and mouse with inquiring reports–generally avoiding comment as much as they can, and when cornered giving either the most gentle criticism of the President or none at all. Rep. Scott Tipton doesn’t think it was racist, and while Sen. Cory Gardner worked up the nerve to say on the radio that he “disagreed” with the Tweets in question he refused to condemn them for what they are.

One of the biggest dangers of electing an openly racist demagogue like Donald Trump has always the normalization of rhetoric that has not been acceptable, at least in mainstream American politics, for many years. Trump’s open appeals to nativism and racial prejudice have opened the door to a rise in hate crime since his election, and given space to Republican candidates at all levels to either turn a blind eye to racism or exploit racist sentiment themselves for political gain.

Maria Weese.

In Colorado, we have a long history of Republican candidates and even officeholders who turned out to be unapologetically racist. In 2014, GOP House candidates Nate Marshall and Maria Weese had frightful racist comments in their recent pasts exposed just in time for Republican brass to intervene–dumping both candidates for slightly less embarrassing placeholders who went on to lose. In 2006, Rep. Jim Welker was “persuaded” by ranking Republicans to not run for re-election after racist commentary he shared with his supporters become public.

Colorado Republicans certainly weren’t free of racists back in the day (see: Tancredo, Tom), or even really making a concerted attempt to dissociate themselves from racism. But when people like Nate Marshall became a political liability for Colorado Republicans, the will existed to deal with the problem.

Based on what we’ve seen this past week, no such will exists today.

Thursday Open Thread


“These congresswomen…never have anything good to say, which is why I say, ‘If they don’t like it, let them leave.’”

— President Trump, at a rally in North Carolina on Wednesday evening.

Enthusiasm Wanes Over BLM Move to Colorado


UPDATE: Senator Gardner pens an Op-Ed on the move for the Grand Junction Sentinel. Try not to choke on the hyperbole:

One local official compared “getting the BLM to the Western Slope” to “Amazon going to Denver.”

Grand Junction is adding 27 jobs.

—–
The Bureau of Land Management formally announced on Tuesday that it will move its headquarters from Washington D.C. to Grand Junction, Colorado, confirming a change that has been in discussion for several years. Senator Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) was so enthusiastic about the announcement that he was rendered incapable of commenting on any other issue, and the news produced bipartisan praise from the likes of Gov. Jared Polis and Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-Jefferson County).

We hate to be the wet blanket at this (or any other) celebration, but some serious brake-tapping may be in order.

While the new BLM headquarters will be located in Grand Junction, most of the additional jobs coming to Colorado will be based in Lakewood. About 58 positions are expected to relocate to Lakewood from Washington D.C., with another 27 setting up shop in Grand Junction.

The BLM’s big move is probably good news for Colorado, which will benefit from the economic impact of the relocation of 85 federal jobs. The effect on Grand Junction’s economy will be significantly less than locals had hoped, however, and it’s not at all clear whether this move is a good thing for the BLM and public lands in general.

Elected officials and Chamber of Commerce types on the Western Slope have had to temper their original enthusiasm quite a bit, as this Grand Junction Sentinel editorial makes clear:

When we first contemplated the impact of this move, we imagined the entire Washington, D.C. operation — some 300 federal workers — being transplanted en masse to a campus setting somewhere in the Grand Valley.

That’s not how this is going down. The BLM is moving its top brass, 27 senior-level officials, to Grand Junction, but twice that many workers are moving to Lakewood. Other BLM employees are headed to other Western states.

A day after feeling like this was a game-changer for Grand Junction, the letdown is palpable. We’re stuck between feeling grateful that Grand Junction will be known as the BLM’s Western Headquarters and frustrated that such a distinction has been hollowed out to its barest impact. [Pols emphasis]

Conservation groups have always been skeptical about a proposed BLM move, worrying that the real motivation of such a change is to reduce the agency’s influence with top decision-makers in Washington D.C. Jennifer Rokola, executive director of the Center for Western Priorities, explained those concerns in a statement earlier this week:

“[Interior] Secretary Bernhardt is asking families to uproot their lives in a matter of months or possibly lose their jobs, all for a PR stunt. It’s yet another cynical attempt to drain the Interior Department of expertise and career leadership. Our public lands deserve an agency that is effectively coordinating with the Interior Department more broadly, and with Congress.”

Before you dismiss Rokala’s red flag, consider this story today about the impact of moving some key departments of the U.S. Department of Agriculture to Kansas City. As CNN reports:

More than half of the employees from two research agencies at the Department of Agriculture slated to relocate from the Washington area have refused reassignment to Kansas City, the department said Wednesday.

Such losses among the research employees affected by the reassignment could result in a drain of institutional knowledge and talent at two agencies that either fund agricultural research across the nation or produce crucial reports, including data on agricultural markets,10-year projections for the farm sector and estimates of US and international agricultural productivity. [Pols emphasis]

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue and the department have argued that the move will lower living costs, save taxpayer dollars and move the agencies closer to “stakeholders.” But many employees at the two affected agencies — the Economic Research Service (ERS) and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) — view the change as politically driven and a way to disrupt climate research and other work with which their bosses disagree by pushing out experienced personnel.

At ERS, 72 researchers accepted relocation while 99 either declined or did not provide a response. At NIFA, 73 workers accepted reassignment while 151 declined or did not provide a response, according to a USDA spokesperson. These numbers, which could fluctuate, are also in line with a survey released last week by the union representing NIFA and ERS employees. Staff must report to work in Kansas City by September 30.

Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) is selling the BLM move as a huge political victory.

Relocating government offices is a trendy thing to propose in Republican circles nowadays. As a candidate for Colorado Attorney General in 2018, Republican George Brauchler often talked about his desire to decentralize the State AG’s office with regional offices around the state. Brauchler’s proposal was an interesting political move, but it made less sense from a practical perspective. Democrat Phil Weiser, who ended up winning the 2018 Attorney General race, disagreed with Brauchler’s approach by pointing to an era of increased telecommuting and the many competing interests for a shrinking pot of public money that would be needed to fund these offices.

Republican gubernatorial candidate Walker Stapleton had similar satellite thoughts during his 2018 campaign, though his general opposition to working in any office was notable in itself; Stapleton’s 11-point loss to Polis put an end to the idea of creating regional state offices.

Senator Gardner unquestionably sees the BLM move as a big political victory as he prepares for his 2020 re-election campaign, but potential land mines remain. Because the economic impact of the move is less of a big deal than originally envisioned, Gardner has been focusing his talking points on the symbolic policy importance of moving the BLM to a Western state (since most federal lands are located west of the Mississippi). We still don’t know much about the downside of moving the headquarters of a federal office to Grand Junction while most BLM employees are hundreds of miles away. There could also be issues, for example, with trying to increase the availability of flights from Grand Junction to Washington D.C. in order to accommodate travel requirements for agency leaders.

Moving the BLM headquarters is likely a net positive for Colorado. It may not be equally helpful for the rest of the country. Gardner was looking for a political home run and may instead end up with a bunt single.

At Least He’s Not Your Congressman


Pennsylvania Republican Rep. Mike Kelly

In another edition of our long-running feature, “At Least They’re Not Your Elected Official,” we take you the halls of Congress (via Pennsylvania), where one Republican Congressman is trying out some new talking points on racism in politics.

As CNN reports:

A white Republican congressman said Tuesday that he isn’t offended by President Donald Trump’s racist attacks on four Democratic congresswomen of color because he’s “a person of color.”

“You know, they talk about people of color. I’m a person of color. I’m white. I’m an Anglo Saxon. People say things all the time, but I don’t get offended,” Rep. Mike Kelly of Pennsylvania told Vice News. [Pols emphasis]

The statements were made as the House was considering a resolution condemning the racist language Trump used on Sunday in a series of tweets in which he told Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Rashida Tlaib, Illhan Omar and Ayanna Pressley to “go back” to their home countries. The comments touched off a firestorm, though House Republicans have largely defended Trump and overwhelmingly voted Tuesday night to oppose the resolution.

Well, this is not at all completely tone deaf or disrespectful of the challenges faced by other people. Would it surprise you to know that Rep. Kelly was not one of the four Republicans who voted in favor of yesterday’s resolution condemning President Trump’s racist remarks?

Cory Gardner Even Backpedals on the Question of Racism


UPDATE: As Political Wire reports, there is a concerted effort in other parts of the country to discourage any dissent toward President Trump:

“Arizona Republican Chairwoman Kelli Ward said she wishes GOP elected officials, specifically Sen. Martha McSally (R-AZ), ‘would just be quiet’ when they disagree with President Trump,” according to audio obtained by Phoenix New Times.

If Gardner has had a similar discussion, you can consider the message received.

—–
Congressional Republicans have largely been going out of their way to refrain from classifying President Trump’s recent comments about four Democratic Congresswomen as what they are: Racist. Most Congressional Republicans are trying very, very hard to not comment at all, either because they agree with Trump or because they fear his political wrath.

On Tuesday, House Democrats were joined by four Republicans in support of a resolution condemning Trump’s racist remarks. None of Colorado’s Republican Members of Congress — Rep. Scott Tipton (R-Cortez), Rep. Ken Buck (R-Greeley), and Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Colorado Springs) — summoned the courage to rebuke Trump. Buck was the first of the trio to offer a flaccid response, and Tipton’s later comments were embarrassingly weak. As for Lamborn…well, it’s never clear that Lamborn is fully cognizant of anything that is happening around him.

Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma), meanwhile, is employing a version of his go-to move, which is something that we like to call “The Gardner Shuffle.” Gardner usually handles a situation like this by 1) Trying to avoid reporters altogether, 2) Offering a completely meaningless comment at the end of the news cycle, and 3) Backpedaling on his previous comment and/or scurrying away from follow up questions.

First, the avoidance. Gardner did his best to ignore questions about Trump’s racism by pretending that he was just so busy working on the BLM’s move to Colorado that he couldn’t possibly do something else at the same time. As the Denver Post reports:

On Monday, Gardner told a conservative radio host that he was focused on other matters, declining to comment on the Trump tweets. The senator had faced flack from his many Democratic opponents, who have accused him of political cowardice for not commenting.

Colorado reporters persisted in trying to get a comment from Gardner, but to no avail. This brief segment from Kyle Clark of 9News on Tuesday is worth a watch:

CLARK: We have been trying to get ahold of Colorado Senator Cory Gardner to discuss President Trump’s racist Tweets telling American Congresswomen of color they should go back where they came from. And today, we heard this from Gardner and his staff…

At this point Clark goes silent for several seconds.

CLARK: Yeah, we didn’t hear anything from them. They aren’t responding to us.

Second, the meaningless comment. During an interview with KOA Radio on Tuesday, Gardner finally managed to eek out a response, saying he “disagreed with the President” and “wouldn’t have sent” the same Tweets. Shermanesque, it was not.

And finally, the backpedal retreat. As the Associated Press reports today:

By Tuesday, Gardner offered up a more on-point answer to the question of whether and how much he supports Trump’s racist tweets.

“I disagree with the president,” Gardner told Denver-area KOA NewsRadio. “I wouldn’t have sent these tweets.”

But asked by CNN later at the Capitol, he would not say whether he thought Trump’s tweets were racist. [Pols emphasis]

Would I lie to you?

As Laurie Kellman and Nick Riccardi explain for the Associated Press, Gardner is all about doing the right thing…for Cory Gardner:

To win another term, Gardner will need to hold the votes of Colorado’s Trump-allied Republicans who remain suspicious of the senator’s rescinded endorsement in 2016, while winning over independents who reject the president but are wary of the Democrats’ agenda.

Gardner has occasionally chastised the president after controversial moments – notably after Trump praised “both sides” following a confrontation between neo-Nazis and activists in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2017 that left a counterprotester dead – and he’s carved out a distinct path on immigration. But Gardner has also voted for most of Trump’s priorities. He’s supported the president’s effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act, his tax cut, both his Supreme Court justices and several other federal judges, along with most of his Cabinet.

Gardner, who has a sunny disposition, has also embraced elements of Trump’s incendiary remarks. In a speech at a conservative gathering in Denver on Friday, Gardner, who has bemoaned Democrats’ embrace of “socialism,” slammed what Republicans describe as the leftward drift of Democrats.

And there you have it.

This is why Gardner is disliked by Coloradans of all political stripes. Cory Gardner is a used-car salesman with a fancier title. You could try to argue otherwise, but you can’t talk faster than he can backpedal.

House Democrats Condemn Trump Racism With 4 GOP Votes


WEDNESDAY UPDATE: Of all the responses we’ve seen from Republicans downplaying President Donald Trump’s overtly racist Tweets, Rep. Scott Tipton’s stands out as particularly weak-minded–via the Colorado Independent:

Tipton, who represents Colorado’s 3rd District, told The Indy he didn’t think Trump’s remarks were racist.

“You’ve got the four folks accusing [House Speaker] Nancy Pelosi of racism,” he said, referring to past comments made by Ocasio-Cortez, Omar, Tlaib and Pressley. “Now they’ve included the president in on that. I don’t think either of them were racist.”

It’s a false equivalence that won’t age well, since:

Pelosi called Trump’s language “disgraceful” and pledged “continue to forcefully respond to these disgusting attacks” in a letter to her colleagues. [Pols emphasis]

There is simply no objective comparison.

—–

“I know racism when I see it. I know racism when I feel it. And at the highest levels of government, there is no room for racism.”

          — Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.)

The House of Representatives capped a dramatic day in Washington D.C. by voting (240-187) in support of H. Resolution 489, condemning President Trump for his racist remarks targeting four Members of Congress. The resolution states that “President Donald Trump’s racist comments have legitimized fear and hatred of new Americans and people of color.” It states that the House “strongly condemns” the President’s remarks, including “that our fellow Americans who are immigrants, and those who may look to the President like immigrants, should ‘go back’ to other countries.”

As NBC News reports:

The Democrat-controlled House of Representatives passed a resolution on Tuesday night condemning President Donald Trump for his “racist comments” about four Democratic congresswomen of color…

…The four Republicans who voted in favor of the resolution, which “strongly condemns President Donald Trump’s racist comments that have legitimized and increased fear and hatred of new Americans and people of color,” were Reps. Will Hurd of Texas, Fred Upton of Michigan, Susan Brooks of Indiana and Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania. Rep. Justin Amash, who announced his departure from the Republican Party earlier this month, also voted in favor of the resolution.

“These comments from the White House are disgraceful and disgusting and the comments are racist,” Pelosi said as she first introduced the resolution condemning Trump’s incendiary remarks about the congresswomen.

All three of Colorado’s Republican Members of Congress — Rep. Scott Tipton (R-Cortez), Rep. Ken Buck (R-Greeley), and Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Colorado Springs) — voted no on the resolution. Senator Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) will almost certainly not have to face a similar vote in the Republican-controlled Senate.

John Andrews’ Islamophobic Rant Bookended by Gardner Praise


(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

The theme of this year’s Western Conservative Summit was “Defending Religious Freedom,” yet the event’s most notable speech was a shockingly Islamophobic rant by WCS founder John Andrews. He said Muslims don’t deserve religious freedom and that he just doesn’t see how “good and faithful Muslims can be good and faithful Americans.”

Prior to his speech Andrews was honored by the event organizers with a lengthy tribute video featuring various politicians and leaders praising his life’s work. Among those showering Andrews with glowing words was Senator Cory Gardner. Gardner then appeared in person as the speaker immediately following Andrews’ anti-Muslim diatribe.

Watch Gardner’s segment of the tribute video, clips of Andrews’ speech, and then Gardner’s cheerful appearance on stage, in which he says it’s an honor to be there.

The Denver Post reported the irony of the event’s creator delivering this speech  “while standing beneath a banner on the importance of religious liberty.” Two days later, the Post’s editorial board didn’t pull any punches:

“Andrews used language of hate to demonize a group of people based on their religion. It is intolerance and a form of small-scale terrorism.”

While local coverage of the conference and Andrews’ speech was thorough, Cory Gardner’s decision to ignore Andrews’ unrepentantly Islamophobic speech received its first national attention today. Think Progress’ Josh Israel noted Gardner’s failure to condemn the hate:

In [a tribute video honoring Andrews], Gardner praised Andrews for his “leadership” and for teaching everyone in Colorado “about limited government” and that “government doesn’t need to be the end-all, be-all for the state or the country.”

Andrews then delivered an 18-minute diatribe, warning that freedom of religion should not apply to devout Muslims and warning that Marxism and Islam are America’s enemies…

Gardner himself then took the stage. Rather than condemn the remarks or even disagree with them, he launched into a speech defending rural America against “inaccurate and hateful descriptions” on television and social media, and accused the “radical left” of focusing only on “coastal and ivory tower elites” and embracing dangerous socialism.

The full video of the evening’s program is available here, beginning with the Andrews tribute video, then his speech, and then Sen. Gardner’s speech.

 

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