Gardner Takes Both Sides of Both Sides on ACA Lawsuit

Cory Gardner’s smile

Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner weaved his way into Congress on a singular issue: His fervent opposition to the Affordable Care Act (ACA). He once called the ACA “the worst government boondoggle” in American history and said that the government should not provide coverage protections for people with pre-existing medical conditions.

In February 2018, a group of Republican states — with the support of the Trump administration — filed a lawsuit to repeal the ACA altogether. That lawsuit is expected to be heard by the U.S. Supreme Court in November.

As The Hill reported in August 2019:

Asked if he supported the lawsuit, Gardner replied: “That’s the court’s decision. If the Democrats want to stand for an unconstitutional law, I guess that’s their choice.”

Gardner was again asked about his position on the ACA lawsuit back in March 2020. Again, from The Hill newspaper:

The office of Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) did not respond to a request for comment on if he supports the lawsuit.

And don’t forget Gardner’s interview on July 1 with Ryan Warner of Colorado Public Radio, in which the Yuma Republican dodged direct questions about his support of the ACA lawsuit 6 TIMES!

Why are we reminding you of this? Because as Igor Bobic of The Huffington Post reports, Gardner voted today to advance legislation that would cut off financial support for the Department of Justice’s anti-ACA lawsuit:

This maneuver pushed by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer was previewed by POLITICO on Tuesday. It was designed to force vulnerable Republicans to take an on-the-record vote on the ACA lawsuit, and it worked. A total of six Republican Senators voted ‘YES’ on this proposal (Collins, Ernst, Gardner, McSally, Murkowski, and Sullivan). Senator Lindsey Graham — another increasingly-endangered Republican — was listed as “Not Voting.”

Cheers!

This procedure put Gardner in a tough spot as he fights for his political life with about one week left until ballots start going out in Colorado. Gardner could a) Vote ‘NO’ and re-affirm that he supports the ACA repeal lawsuit, or b) Vote ‘YES’ and start trying to pretend that he opposes the ACA repeal lawsuit.

Gardner apparently chose the second option, which is interesting since his recent ploy to pretend to be in favor of protecting pre-existing medical conditions failed so miserably. We’re curious to see how Gardner tries to explain today’s vote and if he attempts to claim that he is now against the ACA repeal lawsuit. Gardner could always just come out and say he opposes the lawsuit — he didn’t need today’s vote as an impetus — but that would contradict everything he’s said (and not said) about the lawsuit in the last two years.

Gardner knows that the ACA is popular in Colorado, so it’s bad politics for him to keep calling for its demise. But Gardner also backed himself into a corner on this issue a LONG time ago — opposing the ACA is a foundational piece of his political narrative. And if he says he now opposes the lawsuit, then it makes it weird for him to continue to support a new Supreme Court Justice who may soon be voting on said lawsuit.

As for Schumer’s proposal, it ultimately failed to get enough votes to invoke cloture, so the measure is dead. The votes are now public record, however, and Gardner is going to have to figure out how to spin this favorably.

Good luck with that.

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Another Indication that Gardner’s Days are Numbered

Hi, I’m calling about the job opening posted online…

Last week, the Cook Political Report changed its ratings for Colorado’s U.S. Senate race, moving their prediction to the left from “Toss Up” to “Lean Democratic.”

Today, another national handicapper made an even bigger change: Sabato’s Crystal Ball has adjusted its ratings for Colorado from “Leans Democratic” to “Likely Democratic.”

As Kyle Kondik and J. Miles Coleman write for Sabato’s Crystal Ball:

Last week, the Crystal Ball downgraded the prospects of Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) — we now rate the four-term Maine senator as an underdog against her Democratic challenger, state House Speaker Sara Gideon. Aside from Collins, the only Republican senator running in a Clinton state this year is Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO). Colorado, at least in 2016, voted a couple of points more Democratic than Maine, and Gardner hasn’t had decades to cultivate a personal brand — as Collins has — so we’ve had his race at Leans Democratic since February.

The picture for Trump is not good in the Centennial State: as of Wednesday, polling aggregates from FiveThirtyEight give Biden a clean 51%-41% advantage. As one Republican operative summed up in July, “Jesus Christ himself couldn’t overperform Trump by double digits.” Senate polling since then has born this out: while Gardner generally performs better than Trump, he often lags his Democratic challenger, former Gov. John Hickenlooper (D-CO), by high single-digits…

…Even before the court vacancy, Gardner’s opposition to the ACA seemed to be hurting his electoral standing. So the coverage of the court hearings may emphasize two issues where Republicans are out of step with the Colorado electorate. This pushes our rating to Likely Democratic and emphasizes, in our ratings, that Gardner is clearly the most vulnerable Republican senator.

Of course, this does not mean that Colorado’s Senate race is over — but it’s moving quickly in that direction. Organizations like Cook Political Report and Center for Politics are usually pretty conservative in adjusting their probabilities for individual races; they want to be able to boast in December that their predictions were largely accurate. With a low number of undecided voters in Colorado, Gardner himself seems to be acknowledging this reality.

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Notable Updates to “The Big Line”

We’re officially into the last month of the election cycle, so we’ve made some adjustments to our predictions for various outcomes in “The Big Line.”

The biggest change is in CO-3, where we have moved Democrat Diane Mitsch Bush into the lead for the first time:

Take a look and tell us why we’re wrong.

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Yes Colorado, Post Card Palooza Was One Giant Setup

Meet the pitcher and the catcher.

This afternoon, as Ernest Luning of the Colorado Springs Gazette’s political blog reports, the other shoe dropped in a situation we’ve been following for a number of days–an erroneous story at CBS4 Denver about post cards sent to non-voters outlining eligibility requirements to register to vote, since deleted, which has caused a nationwide wave of misplaced anxiety on the right, “confirming” their groundless fears that mail ballots are an impending disaster:

U.S. Rep. Ken Buck, the chairman of the Colorado Republican Party, on Tuesday demanded an explanation about allegations contained in a TV news story that was retracted over the weekend concerning a mailing sent to potential voters by Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold, a Democrat…

CBS4 news director Tim Wieland pulled the story Sunday afternoon and replaced it later that night with an interview with Griswold meant to “[set] the record straight,” but not until after conservative news outlets and Republican personalities had blown up the misleading account across the internet.

The Denver Post’s Justin Wingerter:

U.S. Rep. Ken Buck, who chairs the Colorado Republican Party, has asked the Justice Department and Federal Election Commission to investigate postcards sent by the Colorado Secretary of State’s Office, the latest escalation in a dispute that began with a debunked and retracted television news story.

“The American people deserve to know that the 2020 election will be conducted in a fair and transparent manner,” Buck wrote to the federal officials Wednesday. “As such, I urge the DOJ and FEC to open an investigation into the Colorado Secretary of State’s efforts to register individuals who are ineligible to vote.”

Somewhere in here, Buck either became or always was fully aware that this entire story was wrong. If he needed any further confirmation, he could have asked Republican Secretaries of State Wayne Williams and Scott Gessler–both of whom sent similar post cards during their own terms in office. From Luning’s story:

[Betsy Hart, the secretary of state’s communications director] added that the election information postcard was first sent out using a similarly compiled list by Griswold’s GOP predecessor Scott Gessler, and former Secretary of State Wayne Williams, also a Republican, continued the practice through his four-year term. [Pols emphasis]

Given that this entire nontroversy is based on a news report which has been retracted by the original outlet, a fact which every subsequent story has been diligent in noting, Buck’s request for a formal investigation into the Colorado Secretary of State by the Justice Department isn’t off to what you’d call a good start. In fact, barreling forward with this grandstand regardless of what facts emerge subsequently is a pretty good indicator that it was all a setup.

And the timing isn’t the only thing that looks canned:

Buck said the state party heard from a woman who received the postcard addressed to her late mother, who died in 2016 and hadn’t lived in the state since 1967. [Pols emphasis]

Flashback to the now-deleted original CBS4 report from Shaun Boyd:

Karen Anderson says she opened her mail about a week ago to find one of the postcards. It was addressed to her mom.

“Which sounds really nice except my mother has been dead four years and she hasn’t lived, voted, owned property, worked, or done anything other than visit Colorado since 1967.” [Pols emphasis]

That would be, barring a remarkable coincidence, the same person.

While this isn’t enough to prove that Buck and the state GOP are the ones who shopped this bogus story to CBS4 to begin with, it’s pretty likely the case based on the available information. It looks to us like Buck engineered the original story for the purpose of justifying his groundless investigation request to the Justice Department against Colorado’s Secretary of State–and when the story fell apart due to lacking a factual basis, Buck simply carried on with his plan.

The bottom line is the same, and it will be the same no matter how many times it needs to be repeated: this post card wasn’t sent to anyone on the “voter rolls.” Eligibility requirements to vote have not changed. As much as Republicans, even Colorado Republicans who are supposed to know better wish it were so, there is no scandal.

Only partisan distractions, boosted by bad journalism.

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Trump Refuses to Condemn White Supremacists After Debate

Tuesday evening’s disastrous debate performance by President Trump was punctuated by his refusal to condemn white supremacist militia groups (here’s the video of the relevant exchange, ICYMI).

Various Republican elected officials were asked about this moment in the last 18 hours. Some ducked and dodged, and some tried to give Trump the benefit of the doubt. As CNN reports, South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott — the lone black Republican in the Senate — was holding his fire today:

“I think he misspoke,” Sen. Tim Scott, R-South Carolina, a supporter of the President’s, told reporters on Capitol Hill.

“I think he should correct it,” Scott said. “If he doesn’t correct it, I guess he didn’t misspeak.”

Welp. As it turns out, Trump did not misspeak on Tuesday. As CNN continues, reporters tossed him a softball today outside the White House; Trump swung hard and missed completely:

Trump made an attempt at clarification, telling reporters at the White House he’d never heard of the extremist group Proud Boys, whom he told to “stand by” the previous evening.

“I don’t know who Proud Boys are,” he said, departing for a campaign rally in Minnesota. “But whoever they are they have to stand down, let law enforcement do their work.”

But pressed on whether he welcomes support from white supremacists, Trump said only, “I want law and order — it’s a very important part of my campaign.” [Pols emphasis]

For anyone who has paid attention to Trump in recent years, this is not a new tactic employed by The Big Orange Guy when trying to deflect questions about his love for white supremacists who love him back.

Is Trump a racist white supremacist sympathizer? If you’re going to argue that he is not, then you need to come up with an explanation for why he tries so hard to impersonate one.

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Get More Smarter on Wednesday (September 30)

And that about does it for September; please tip your servers, or whatever. Let’s 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 an audio learner, check out The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter.

 

CORONAVIRUS AND VOTING INFO…

*Colorado Coronavirus info:
CDPHE Coronavirus website 

*Daily Coronavirus numbers in Colorado:
http://covid19.colorado.gov

*How you can help in Colorado:
COVRN.com

*Locate a COVID-19 testing site in Colorado:
Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment 

*Register to vote or get other election-related information:
GoVoteColorado.com

 

So, yeah, about that debate last night…

Here’s analysis from The New York Times; CNN; POLITICO; National Public Radio; and The Washington Post.

Via The Washington Post (9/29/20)

As Vox.com reports, polling info from Data for Progress indicates Vice President Joe Biden was the clear winner from Tuesday:

A new poll by Data for Progress provided exclusively to Vox shows that viewers thought Democratic nominee Joe Biden decisively won Tuesday’s first presidential debate against President Donald Trump, by a 52-39 margin.

The poll surveyed debate watchers but then weighted the demographics of the survey group to the population of likely voters in November. Most pollsters don’t do this, which ends up skewing their results toward Democrats because left-leaning college graduates are disproportionately likely to watch debates.

But even with the more Trump-friendly weighting, the poll shows a clear win for Biden and, not coincidentally, a fairly overwhelming sense that Biden’s conduct during the debate was more presidential.

 

► Perhaps the most important moment of Tuesday’s Presidential “debate” came later in the discussion, when President Trump refused to condemn white supremacists and militia groups:

As The Hill reports, these comments were…problematic for Trump aides to defend:

White House and campaign aides on Wednesday struggled to clean up President Trump’s comments a night earlier in which he declined to explicitly condemn white supremacy, instead directing a far-right group to “stand back and stand by” during the first presidential debate.

Trump’s comments about the Proud Boys, a far-right militia group, dominated headlines the morning after the debate.

Multiple Trump surrogates faced questions about the remarks during cable news hits, where they downplayed his calls for the group to “stand by” and pointed to the president’s past denunciations of white supremacists.

“The President’s past denunciations of white supremacists”? When was this? As Chris Cillizza notes for CNN, Trump has a LONG history of NOT calling out these extremist groups.

Via CNN (9/30/20)

And as NBC News reports, the “Proud Boys” were very, um, proud on Tuesday evening:

The Proud Boys, a far-right extremist group, pledged allegiance to President Donald Trump on Tuesday night after he told the group to “stand back and stand by” during the first presidential debate.

Many people on social media who identify with the group echoed that language, saying they were “standing down and standing by.” One known social media account for the group made “Stand back. Stand by” part of its new logo.

As The Colorado Times Recorder reports, this was not the first time that Trump has winked at the “Proud Boys.”

 

House Democrats continue to push for another coronavirus relief package, negotiating terms with the White House and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin in the absence of any involvement from Senate Republicans.

 

 

More political (and coronavirus) news is available right after the jump…

 

(more…)

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Fake Election News Reels In Ken Buck, Because Of Course

Rep. Ken Buck (R).

The Denver Post’s Conrad Swanson follows up on a highly misleading report that aired on CBS4 Denver late last week, which suggested Colorado’s voter rolls were somehow compromised by a post card sent to non-voters encouraging those eligible–with the eligibility requirements outlined right there on the card–to register to vote. This story from CBS4 political reporter Shaun Boyd, who has well-known Republican apologist proclivities, was eventually removed by station management–but in the two days it was up on their site it was widely shared by conservative media and talking heads up to and including Donald Trump, Jr. himself.

As Swanson reports, Rep. Ken Buck, a Coloradan and former district attorney who at least on paper should know better, picked up the misinformation and ran it in for an own goal:

U.S. Rep. Ken Buck, R-Windsor, and the Colorado secretary of state traded barbs on social media Tuesday afternoon in the latest escalation between Republicans and Democrat Jena Griswold as the fall election approaches.

The conflict began after a CBS4 Denver story over the weekend inaccurately suggested that a mailing list for mailers asking Coloradans to vote — a mailing list that included dead people — was connected to the same mailing list from which ballots are sent out. The article was amplified by conservative influencers before CBS4 News Director Tim Wieland took it off the station’s website Sunday and published a clarifying story Monday.

“Reports that the Colorado Secretary of State’s office mailed voter registration postcards to non-citizens and deceased individuals are deeply concerning,” Buck wrote on Twitter as he shared the conservative outlet Brietbart’s version of the original story. “We must get to the bottom of this.”

After having spent the weekend trying to set the record straight after CBS4’s egregious mischaracterization of these post cards to nonvoters as evidence of something amiss with the voter rolls, Secretary of State Jena Griswold was out of courtesy for Buck’s belated rehash of this already debunked news:

“Russia doesn’t have to worry about spreading election misinformation in Colorado,” Griswold wrote. Buck “is doing it for them.” [Pols emphasis]

Because the debunking of a bad story never travels as far as the original misinformation, we expect this fake news to continue to reverberate around conservative media all the way through the election. Every time it comes up, the answer is the same: a post card sent to non-voters has nothing to do with the “voter rolls.” None of the eligibility requirements to actually register to vote were misrepresented, let alone changed by this post card.

Republicans are spreading this story for one reason: it helps instill doubt in Colorado’s mail ballot election system, whose successful track record stands in stark contrast to Donald Trump’s baseless warnings that mail ballots are going to result in “fraud like you’ve never seen.” In this battle, at least until the election settles the question, it’s increasingly clear that our local Republicans will be of no help refuting Trump’s false statements even though they know better.

Given the potential consequences for American democracy if Trump refuses to acknowledge a result in November he doesn’t like, the complicity of local Republicans in maintaining Trump’s fictions about our election system could be enormously damaging to the country.

No matter how bad it gets, Ken Buck is the last one who will admit his mistake.

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Trump Campaign Included Proud Boys in Political Ad, Released After CO Springs Rally

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Last night may have been the first time Trump addressed the Proud Boys directly, telling the white nationalist group during the debate to, “Stand back and stand by.”

But after a rally in Colorado Springs in February, the Trump campaign released a two-minute ad that briefly showed a partial, but unmistakable, image of a Proud Boy at the rally, as Trump says in the ad, “And ladies and gentlemen, the best is yet to come.”

Another image in the ad, titled, “Stronger,” can be seen very briefly earlier in the ad.

The images show a yellow jacket worn by about a dozen Proud Boys who attended the event, which drew a total of about 10,000 people both inside and outside the Broadmoor Arena. The jackets state “Proud Boy,” and images and colors match clothes for sale on a Proud Boy website.

Proud Boy image in February Trump ad.

Efforts by the Colorado Times Recorder to find out if the image of the Proud Boys was intentionally included in the ad were not successful, but the image itself clearly shows the arms, jacket, and hat of a Proud Boy in attendance.

(more…)

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Cory Gardner Isn’t Even Pretending Anymore

UPDATE: What, me worry?

—–

Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma)

In early 2016, Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) flat-out refused to even MEET with Merrick Garland, President Obama’s choice to fill a vacancy on the Supreme Court (SCOTUS) created by the death of Antonin Scalia. Gardner told anyone who would listen that it would be wrong to hold confirmation hearings for another SCOTUS nominee when the next election was just nine months away.

Now it’s 2020, and the election is just a few weeks away, but Gardner suddenly has no problem filling a vacant SCOTUS seat. Hell, he doesn’t even need to wait for the process to play out.

Gardner was scheduled to meet today with Supreme Court Justice nominee Amy Coney Barrett, but before that meeting could even take place, he told The Durango Herald that he had already decided to support her confirmation:

“Right now … I plan to vote for her,” Gardner said Tuesday morning.

Gardner has gone from refusing to meet with Obama’s SCOTUS choice to pledging his support for Trump’s SCOTUS choice before he even meets with her.

It’s looking like Gardner will not be re-elected in November, so the Yuma Republican has apparently decided that he will no longer even pretend that he takes his job as a U.S. Senator seriously. If there is a bottom to Gardner’s depravity, we haven’t found it yet.

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Gardner Pumps Trump Pre-Debate–But You Probably Won’t See


Donald Trump, Cory Gardner.

This is a clip of video released yesterday by Gray TV, a company that owns local television stations in numerous mostly smaller media markets across the country. In Colorado, Gray TV owns KKTV, the CBS channel in the Colorado Springs market, and KKCO in Grand Junction.  KKTV hasn’t posted the video above on their own news page at all, and KKCO ran Gray TV’s syndicated story with several other politicos that doesn’t mention Gardner in the headline.

The low profile of this debate preview interesting, since Gardner has already gotten himself in trouble for running pro-Donald Trump fundraising ads for his campaign outside Colorado, where as readers know the President is not popular and Republicans in swing races don’t bring Trump up.

Here’s what Gardner is saying about tonight’s debate:

GRAY TV: Some of the issues being discussed include, uh, the coronavirus, continued coronavirus response, the Supreme Court vacancy, and the ongoing racial, and racial disparities and violence in U.S. cities. Tell me what do you think is the most important topic, not just of those three but he most important topic they should be speaking about and why?

GARDNER: Well I think the American people need to be assured of the next four years. Uh, and the opportunities that they will have to get out of this pandemic, to get back on their feet economically, to have a country that continues to provide the kind of optimism and opportunity that this nation has been defined by. And so that’s the message I think people are going to be looking for. Uh, I know under eight years of Barack Obama, Vice President Biden had a chance, uh to do many of the things that he’s now complaining about not being done. And I think we’ll look at the, the President and he’ll talk about the last four years of economic growth and economic opportunity, the fact that a place like Colorado had massive wage growth between 2018 and 2019, prior to the pandemic and how we need to get back to that once the pandemic is over. Uh, it’ll be an interesting debate, and in terms of Joe Biden explaining why a more socialist big government agenda is something that is going to help the people versus, uh, the kinds of getting government out of the way approach that this nation’s been defined by and has been successful under so, those are going to be the two kinds of roads you’ll see taken tomorrow night, uh, one of big government Joe Biden and one of let’s get America back on its feet and a government that’s helping people, but uh not controlling them.

The first thing to take note of is that while Gardner is happy to say Joe Biden’s name over and over, Trump’s name doesn’t escape his lips a single time in this entire interview. For anyone who lived through the six years of Barack Obama’s presidency in which Republicans in Congress shut down the administration’s agenda out of pure political spite, Gardner’s assertion that Biden “had a chance to do many of the things that he’s now complaining about not being done” is a particularly galling bit of fiction. As for the job growth Colorado enjoyed “prior to the pandemic,” the next question that follows is why the United States under Donald Trump has suffered more illness and death from COVID-19 than any other nation. Colorado voters know the answer.

In this case, unlike Gardner’s MAGA fundraising ads that ran in every state but Colorado, there’s nothing to suggest Gardner didn’t want this video shown here.

But in a state Trump is set to lose, burying this video is the best thing Gardner’s campaign can hope for.

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Get More Smarter on Tuesday (September 29)

We’d say, “let’s get ready to rumble,” but we don’t want to get sued. Instead, let’s 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 an audio learner, check out The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter.

 

CORONAVIRUS AND VOTING INFO…

*Colorado Coronavirus info:
CDPHE Coronavirus website 

*Daily Coronavirus numbers in Colorado:
http://covid19.colorado.gov

*How you can help in Colorado:
COVRN.com

*Locate a COVID-19 testing site in Colorado:
Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment 

*Register to vote or get other election-related information:
GoVoteColorado.com

 

Debate!

The first General Election debate between President Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden takes place tonight in Cleveland, OH. The 90-minute, commercial-free debate at Case Western Reserve University begins at 7:00 pm (Colorado time).

Tonight’s debate may be the last good chance Trump has for defining Biden. POLITICO explains why the stakes are so high. A new poll from The Washington Post shows Biden opening a big lead in the battleground state of Pennsylvania.

 

There have now been more than 1 million deaths worldwide from COVID-19. As The Associated Press reports, that’s probably a low estimate:

Even at 1 million — greater than the population of Jerusalem or Austin, Texas, more than four times the number killed in the 2004 earthquake and tsunami in the Indian Ocean — the toll is almost certainly a vast undercount.

Many deaths were probably missed because of insufficient testing and inconsistent reporting, and some suspect concealment by countries like Russia and Brazil.

And the number continues to mount. Nearly 5,000 deaths are reported each day on average. Parts of Europe are getting hit by new outbreaks and experts fear a second wave may await the U.S.

Here in Colorado, the number of COVID-19 cases continues to rise — as does the number of hospitalizations related to the virus.

 

Senator Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) is one of nine male Republican Senators who will meet today with Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett. Gardner is the only one of the nine who is in danger of losing re-election in 2020; going ahead with this meeting anyway indicates that Gardner realizes his goose is cooked. [UPDATE: Or maybe Gardner is NOT participating in the meeting today?]

Meanwhile, The Colorado Times Recorder reports that Gardner is changing up his tune on why he opposed a confirmation hearing for a SCOTUS nominee in 2016.

 

The New York Times dropped another story in what is expected to be a series of new pieces about President Trump’s finances. The takeaway: Trump sucks at business but is good at being Trump:

But while the story of “The Apprentice” is by now well known, the president’s tax returns reveal another grand twist that has never been truly told — how the popularity of that fictional alter ego rescued him, providing a financial lifeline to reinvent himself yet again. And then how, in an echo of the boom-and-bust cycle that has defined his business career, he led himself toward the financial shoals he must navigate today.

Mr. Trump’s genius, it turned out, wasn’t running a company. It was making himself famous — Trump-scale famous — and monetizing that fame.

As Chris Cillizza writes for CNN, the latest NYT story further demolishes the narrative of Trump as a successful businessman.

 

More political (and coronavirus) news is available right after the jump…

 

(more…)

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Gardner to Meet With SCOTUS Nominee Tuesday

As Washington Post White House correspondent Seung Min Kim reports, Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) is among a group of nine male Republican Senators who will meet on Tuesday with Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett.

What’s interesting about this list is who was NOT awarded a secret decoder ring to access the special meeting with Barrett. Of the eight white guys and a Ted Cruz, Gardner is the only Senator whose seat is in danger of flipping in 2020. Not on the list: Arizona Sen. Martha McSally, Iowa Sen. Joni Ernst, North Carolina Sen. Thom Tillis, Montana Sen. Steve Daines, and Georgia Sen. David Perdue, to name a few.


There are probably a few different ways to interpret this news, but the most obvious for Gardner is that he is essentially admitting that he’s not going to win in November. If there was a political upside with being in this particular club, then McSally, Ernst, and the gang would be included. And Tillis and Ernst are actually members of the Senate Judiciary Committee; there’s a much more logical reason for them to be attending instead of Gardner, who doesn’t sit on a relevant committee immediately related to the SCOTUS confirmation process.

Gardner knows full well that this kind of meeting absolutely does NOT help him with Colorado voters, but he’s doing it anyway. These are the actions of a politician with nothing to lose win.

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Everybody Should Have the Opportunity to be a National Security Threat to the United States

Trump is broke

Via The New York Times (9/27/20)

Even if you have been living under a rock lately, chances are still pretty good that you’ve already heard about the big news surrounding President Trump’s personal finances — including $421 million in debts (which might be a low estimate) and the $750 that Trump paid in federal income taxes in recent years.

The New York Times dropped a bombshell of a story on Sunday that not only shows that Trump pays less in taxes than the average American family — it also completely demolishes his image/brand of being an ultra-successful businessman and calls into serious question his true motive for running for President in 2016 (and for re-election in 2020). We’d encourage you to read the Times story yourself, or at least take a look at this shorter breakdown of the Times’ key findings.

As Chris Cillizza writes for CNN, these new revelations indicate that Trump’s political ambitions were initially just a branding exercise:

[Trump’s] situation was different in 2015. He was no longer riding high financially or otherwise. He was seen less as a business titan and A-list celebrity — and much more as a a cultural curiosity, a sort of has-been throwback to the 1980s. Flirting with a run for president wasn’t enough; he needed to go further this time as a way to restart a flagging brand…

Running for president was one of the last cards Trump had to play. His candidacy was borne of desperation, not of a desire to serve. Which we kind of always knew.

But with the Times’ tax revelations, we can now say so definitively. [Pols emphasis]

Via Bloomberg News (9/28/20)

Trump probably didn’t expect to make it to the White House when he kicked off his Presidential bid in 2015. But even getting close to winning made him a serious national security threat. As Bloomberg News explains, Trump might actually be facing debts of somewhere in the neighborhood of $1.1 BILLION, which would make him an easy mark for foreign governments to prey upon:

Trump has been bloviating about being worth $10 billion ever since he entered the 2016 presidential race, a figure that simply isn’t true. He’s worth a fraction of that amount, and the larger his indebtedness becomes, the more strain it puts on his assets. The Covid-19 pandemic has taken a particularly brutal toll on the sectors in which the Trump Organization operates — real estate, travel and leisure. If Trump is unable to meet his debt payments, he’s either going to have to sell assets or get bailed out by a friend with funds. Trump has never liked to sell anything, even when it’s hemorrhaging money. So if he’s tempted to save himself by getting a handout, that makes him a mark.

If Trump was still just a reality TV oddity, that wouldn’t be earthshaking. But he’s president, and the trade-offs someone like him would be willing to make to save his face and his wallet taint every public policy decision he makes – including issues around national security.

Trump’s persistent refusal to release his tax returns remained a big issue even after Election Day in 2016. Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) addressed the issue with this ridiculous comment in early 2017 that has certainly not aged well:

GARDNER: The issue of the tax returns, I think everybody should should have the opportunity to, to release their tax returns. [Pols emphasis] And that’s, uh people in the state legislature and people running for Congress. I’ve done that, others have, and I think everyone should. So I think I agree with you there. It shouldn’t just be about President Trump, it ought to be about President Obama, President Bush it ought to be about whoever is running for president, Hillary Clinton, you name it, and they should have done that. So…


Gardner is undoubtedly going to get plenty of opportunities to talk about Trump’s finances in the coming weeks, and he’ll need a better answer than this. Because as Gardner himself said in June 2019, “I think the President is going to continue to do what the President is going to continue to do.” 

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And Now For Some Homegrown Election Dezinformatsiya

UPDATE: CBS4 Denver News Director Tim Wieland says this bit of fake news is coming down:

This comes after the story was picked up by none other than Donald Trump, Jr. himself:

We’re pleased to see this, but coming fully two days after the original story spread far and wide the damage is most likely done. It’s just not possible for a local TV news outlet to spread their correction as widely as the conservative media machine is spreading the original false story.

And that…really sucks.

—–

CBS4 Political Specialist Shaun Boyd.

CBS4 Denver’s longtime “Political Specialist” Shaun Boyd has come under fire many times in her career for regularly–though with some notable exceptions–serving as a go-to for local Republicans looking to see their desired spin imparted to various stories being reportedly accurately “unfairly” by other outlets. Last night, however, Boyd aired a story that went considerably farther than spin–making the ostensibly scandalous and Trump-friendly allegation that the Colorado Secretary of State’s office is “encouraging” noncitizens and dead people to vote:

The Colorado Secretary of State’s Office is defending the accuracy of its voter rolls after CBS4 learned the office mailed postcards urging some non-citizens and dead people to go online and register to vote. Karen Anderson says she opened her mail about a week ago to find one of the postcards. It was addressed to her mom…

“I don’t know where they’re harvesting names from but (they’re) doing it without obviously doing any kind of check,” said Anderson.

There’s the lede, and here’s the end of the story:

Anderson wrote a letter to the Secretary of State’s Office last week asking why it mailed a postcard to her dead mother. She says she still hasn’t heard back, “You hear about them trying to register dead people but I never really thought I’d see it.” [Pols emphasis]

And with that, Shaun Boyd has just wrote a story guaranteed to go viral on conservative media, which it already is this morning–reinforcing an alternate reality promoted by Donald Trump in which Colorado’s mail ballot election system is ripe for/rife with fraud. But is there anything actually problematic happening?

In a word, no–two words, hell no:

The first paragraph of Boyd’s story states that “Colorado Secretary of State’s Office is defending the accuracy of its voter rolls.” The problem with this is that the mailing list for this post card didn’t come from Colorado’s voter rolls at all. It was derived from a variety of public sources of information, intended for people who are not registered to vote, and does not change any of the requirements to register to vote like being a live U.S. citizen. It’s literally the first line of the voter registration form in Colorado:

It’s true that the voter registration form in Colorado does not expressly ask if you are, you know, dead. The presumption here, we believe being reasonable people, is that that dead people can not fill out voter registration forms, therefore anyone attempting to register a dead person to vote is already committing a crime.

This is the sort of garbage mischaracterization of uncontroversial reality that normally gets reported by a right-wing blog or faux news site, makes its way around the conservative media echo chamber, and then is either brushed off or debunked with gusto by responsible media as an example of election misinformation. Unfortunately in this case, the misinformation is being put out under the banner of a major local media outlet. Whatever that means for CBS4 Denver’s credibility in the future, it’s hugely problematic today.

Colorado doesn’t need the Russians. We’ve got Shaun Boyd.

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Trump Picks Amy Coney Barrett For RBG’s SCOTUS Seat

Judge Amy Coney Barrett.

CNN reports, and the American culture wars enter a new and perilous phase:

President Donald Trump intends to choose Amy Coney Barrett to be the new Supreme Court justice, according to multiple senior Republican sources with knowledge of the process…

Barrett has been the leading choice throughout the week, since Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died. She is the only potential nominee known to have met with the President in person, according to two of the sources. One source said Trump was familiar with Barrett already and he met with her since she was a top contender the last time there was a Supreme Court vacancy, when the President chose Justice Brett Kavanaugh instead.

“The machinery is in motion,” one of the sources said. In previous nomination announcements, the White House had multiple rollouts planned in case the President made a last-minute decision to switch to another candidate. But one source said it would be surprising if there were a change since allies are already being told.

At age 48, Barrett is set to join President Donald Trump’s other two youthful Supreme Court Justices in cementing a 6-3 conservative majority just in time for the possible collapse of electoral democracy in November–and a pick now known to the world before Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg could even be buried. And she completes the sea change that puts rights once considered to be settled law in danger:

Amy Coney Barrett, who is expected to be Mr. Trump’s pick, meets the president’s unprecedented anti-abortion rights litmus test. The federal judge has referred to abortion as “always immoral” and offers something a former top candidate, Barbara Lagoa, doesn’t: A clear anti-abortion rights judicial record. During her three years on the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals, she has already ruled on two abortion-related cases, both times favoring restrictions on access to abortion…

Many believe that overturning Roe v. Wade — the landmark 1973 Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion nationwide — is no longer a hypothetical. [Pols emphasis] The vacancy on the court follows the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who was not only liberal but an unequivocal supporter of abortion rights. Though Mr. Trump’s two Supreme Court nominations — Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh — have been against abortion rights, both replaced conservative justices, effectively leaving the balance of the court nearly untouched.

In 2014, when now-Sen. Cory Gardner’s opponents warned as loudly as they could that he would put abortion rights in America in fundamental danger, it wasn’t possible to see then how right they were. We have arrived at a moment in history when the worst fears of 2014, dismissed as a “tired refrain” by Colorado pundits and the political oddsmakers, have been fully realized.

Vote accordingly, but understand that more than a single election will be needed now.

The country is moving one way, and the judiciary is moving the other.

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“Q*Bert” Crosses Up Her Talking Points

Lauren “Q*Bert” Boebert, the Republican candidate for Congress in CO-3, is very comfortable in the role of right-wing provocateur. Boebert has the Fox News shtick figured out, and she knows her talking points…but she doesn’t quite seem to understand how those talking points are supposed to fit together.

Boebert was a guest on Fox Business this morning. We know this because Boebert Tweeted out a segment of her interview:

Boebert is obviously pleased with her interview since she is eagerly promoting the content. But there are a couple of “record scratch” moments in this two-minute clip that make Boebert seem like a foreign language student who has memorized many of her vocabulary words but still hasn’t figured out how to fit them into a sentence correctly.

Necesito hacer popó. Donde está la bibiloteca?

For example, Boebert bashes her opponent (Democrat Diane Mitsch Bush) for being a “socialist” and wanting to “bankrupt the country” with The Green New Deal. Boebert actually says that she is not opposed to renewable energy in general, but she gets a bit lost in trying to make her point about energy independence:

“We cannot be energy independent with only renewables, and especially when we are outsourcing to China, to Africa, where we know that they often use child and slave labor.”

Say what, now?

Our best guess here is that Boebert is referring to a talking point that State Sen. Vicki Marble has used before — that the lithium mined for batteries needed for electric cars comes from child labor in Africa (or something). If that is not what Boebert is trying to reference, then we’ve got nothing else to help you here.

Boebert babbles on:

“We have the world’s cleanest coal, right here in Colorado.”

Boebert seems to understand the clean coal process about as well as President Trump, who likes to talk about “clean coal” as though it is a shinier piece of rock. As FactCheck.org wrote in November 2018:

In his rallies, President Donald Trump repeatedly talks about “clean coal,” using the phrase more than a dozen times over the past three months. He also has said in other appearances that clean coal can be exported or “loaded up” on railway cars.

But “clean coal” refers to technologies deployed at power plants that make coal cleaner to burn, not to the fuel itself. Modern definitions require cuts in carbon dioxide emissions, and the only way to do that in a substantial way is through carbon capture. Just two coal power plants in the world use the technique, and it makes up less than 0.1 percent of American coal-fired capacity.

Speaking of things that are “clean,” Boebert then moves along to natural gas and the Jordan Cove Pipeline project:

“Our clean liquid natural gas could be sold to countries all across the world, and get them out of the grips of tyrannical, communist leaders. We can free other countries.”

Purchasing natural gas from the United States = freedom?

We assume the basic gist of this statement is that people might be able to break free from dictatorships if they had access to cheaper sources of energy, which…maybe?

As we’ve written before in this space, it’s fine to support Boebert as long as you understand that there are a LOT of policy issues that Boebert does not seem to understand herself.

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Even Now, Cory Gardner Can’t Say Trump’s Name

Donald Trump, Cory Gardner.

Remarks by President Donald Trump this week suggesting he may not accede to a peaceful transfer of power in the event he loses the election in November have sparked outrage, and deepened concerns about an impending constitutional crisis. As Colorado Public Radio’s Michelle Fulcher reports, Sen. Michael Bennet of Colorado took to the Senate floor yesterday to condemn the President’s latest comments in the strongest unprofane terms:

Sen. Michael Bennet blasted President Donald Trump Thursday over his refusal to commit to a peaceful transition if he loses in November. The Colorado Democrat also continued to condemn the Senate’s Republican leadership for pushing a fast vote to fill the vacancy on the Supreme Court.

In the White House briefing room Wednesday, Trump said “we’re going to have to see what happens” in response to a question about whether he would agree to a peaceful transition of power. The president’s answer rankled Bennet.

“In the history of this country we have never had a president, a Republican or a Democrat, who’s saying the kind of things that Donald Trump is saying at this point,” he said. “He’s become unhinged.” [Pols emphasis]

Even most Republicans were forced against their will yesterday to grudgingly speak up and assure the nation that yes, there will be a peaceful transfer of power no matter the outcome of the election, just as there has been in every American presidential election. The Denver Post’s Alex Burness has Sen. Cory Gardner’s version of the carefully-worded script:

“That’s something I’ve talked about in speeches from my very first days when Nancy Pelosi peacefully handed the gavel over to John Boehner,” Gardner said when asked to comment on Trump’s statement. “It’s a hallmark of our democracy. And I’ve spoken at length about it in the past about the continued need to use that as a symbol of democracy,” according to a pool report from Washington, D.C.

Though Gardner endorsed the concept of a peaceful transfer of power, he did not directly address what the president said, nor did he utter Trump’s name. [Pols emphasis] Trump earlier this week described Gardner as “very, very loyal to the party,” and has previously thanked him for unwavering support.

It’s a similar answer to the one Gardner gave when Trump suggested the 2020 elections might need to be delayed due to Trump’s fictional concerns about mail-in ballots–reassuring in the abstract, without actually addressing the reason we’re even discussing such decidedly un-American ideas as delaying and defying the results of elections.

The reason we are talking about the seemingly unthinkable possibility of delaying and/or defying elections in America is because Donald Trump, the man Cory Gardner has endorsed for re-election as President of the United States, talked about it first. Every time Cory Gardner sidesteps the words of the President he supports without acknowledging why the conversation is happening, he doesn’t actually help himself with either side of the electorate. It’s just enough to hurt Gardner with the GOP base, but not nearly enough save him in November. The cowardice of refusing to name Trump as the cause of all this uncertainty negates any praise Gardner might expect for contradicting Trump on the issue.

When it’s all over–maybe then Cory Gardner will find the courage to say Trump’s name.

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Get More Smarter on Thursday (September 24)

Election Day is now 40 days away. Let’s 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 an audio learner, check out The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter.

 

CORONAVIRUS AND VOTING INFO…

*Colorado Coronavirus info:
CDPHE Coronavirus website 

*Daily Coronavirus numbers in Colorado:
http://covid19.colorado.gov

*How you can help in Colorado:
COVRN.com

*Locate a COVID-19 testing site in Colorado:
Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment 

*Register to vote or get other election-related information:
GoVoteColorado.com

 

► Dear Leader Trump is worried enough about his odds of winning another term in office that he is refusing to commit to a peaceful transfer of power in the increasingly-likely scenario in which he loses to Democrat Joe Biden. As The New York Times reports:

Via The New York Times (9/23/20)

Asked whether he would “commit here today for a peaceful transferral of power after the November election,” Mr. Trump demurred, passing on a chance to call for a calm and orderly election process.

“We’re going to have to see what happens,” he told a reporter during a news conference at the White House. “You know that I’ve been complaining very strongly about the ballots, and the ballots are a disaster.”…

…“Get rid of the ballots and you’ll have a very peaceful — there won’t be a transfer, frankly. There will be a continuation,” the president said. That was an apparent reference to mail-in ballots, which for months he has railed against, without evidence, as rife with fraud and likely to produce a delayed, tainted or outright illegitimate election result.

Mr. Trump’s refusal — or inability — to endorse perhaps the most fundamental tenet of American democracy, as any president in memory surely would have, was the latest instance in which he has cast grave uncertainty around the November election and its aftermath. Democrats are growing increasingly alarmed as Mr. Trump repeatedly questions the integrity of the vote and suggests that he might not accept the results if he loses.

Democrats may be growing increasingly alarmed, but what about Republicans? Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell promised that there would be an “orderly transition” in January but wouldn’t comment on Trump’s earlier statement. Senator Mitt Romney (R-Utah) blasted the suggestion that a peaceful transfer of power would even be questioned by a sitting President. But for the most part, Republicans stayed quiet. Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner? He said some…words:

 

As Chris Cillizza writes for CNN, Trump’s recent comments about the upcoming election are quite troubling:

Add it all up and we have a President who is now on record saying: a) he won’t commit to a peaceful transition of power unless b) all mail-in ballots are eliminated because c) that would mean he would win again and d) has repeatedly raised the possibility of staying on beyond even the eight-year term limit on the presidency…

…So, what Trump is doing is creating the perfect excuse to never concede: He is saying that the vote will be fair and he will agree to a peaceful transition of power if there are no mail-in votes. Which he knows literally cannot happen. And so, if he loses, he already has his fallback plan in place: The acceptance of mail-in ballots means the entire election was a hoax and a fraud. And why should he admit he lost an election that was rigged against him?…

…If you don’t think that’s a uniquely dangerous position to hold for the continued strength of our democracy, well, you’re just not paying attention.

 

With coronavirus cases increasing in the area, Boulder County Public Health issued a new order for residents between the age of 18-22. As Denver7 reports:

In an effort to slow the sharp rise of positive COVID-19 cases in Boulder, and transmission of those 18 to 22 years old, Boulder County Public Health issued a new public health order that prohibits all people in that age group from gatherings of any size.

This applies to all indoor, outdoor, on-campus and off-campus locations, according to the order.

In addition, the order identified 36 addresses where people have repeatedly violated the public health orders, and requires those individuals to stay at their residence at all times. The only exceptions to this part of the order are to seek medical care, exercise outside alone, and obtain necessary supplies such as food, pet food, medical supplies and products needed for safety and sanitation via curbside pickup or contact-less delivery.

 

► Sandra Fish of The Colorado Sun takes a look at Senate District 27, which appears to be the top State Senate battleground of 2020. This story is not good for Republican candidate Suzanne Staiert:

Staiert is representing a dark money nonprofit whose affiliated super PAC spent $175,000 on advertising supporting her campaign.

It’s the newest twist in a nasty campaign filled with mailers and digital and TV advertising that question her past job as deputy secretary of state. She even filed a criminal complaint regarding one of the mailers that she says is false.

Staiert faces Democrat Chris Kolker, a financial planner, in a seat being vacated by current Republican state Sen. Jack Tate. Kolker is an afterthought in the campaign, barely mentioned in the messages from outside political groups who are aiming at Staiert, the attorney who pressed ethics complaints against former Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper.

More than $508,000 in outside spending is targeting Senate District 27, most of it opposing Staiert. It’s one of the Democratic Party’s top legislative contests in the November election, and a Sun analysis shows the district is seeing the most outside money of any statehouse race so far.

Staiert has a strange record of shady affiliations with dark money groups. She is also very sensitive to any sort of criticism. “It’s been really just stressful and unpleasant,” says Staiert of the common practice of examining candidate records and backgrounds.

 

 Several new data points make the case that another Blue Wave is coming to Colorado. Read until the end for the “Holy Shit Numbers.”

 

More political (and coronavirus) news is available right after the jump…

 

(more…)

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This Is An Actual Lede About Your President

President Donald Trump.

The Washington Post’s Greg Miller reports, and we have nothing to add:

In unguarded moments with senior aides, President Trump has maintained that Black Americans have mainly themselves to blame in their struggle for equality, hindered more by lack of initiative than societal impediments, according to current and former U.S. officials.

After phone calls with Jewish lawmakers, Trump has muttered that Jews “are only in it for themselves” and “stick together” in an ethnic allegiance that exceeds other loyalties, officials said.

Trump’s private musings about Hispanics match the vitriol he has displayed in public, and his antipathy to Africa is so ingrained that when first lady Melania Trump planned a 2018 trip to that continent he railed that he “could never understand why she would want to go there.”

Ladies and gentlemen, the President of the United States.

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Hello Again, Blue Wave

Welcome back

At this point two years ago, it was becoming clear that the 2018 election in Colorado was going to be very good for Democrats. We wouldn’t find out until much later that the 2018 cycle would be historically good for Democrats, but the signs were there by late September: Democrat Jared Polis was running away with the governor’s race, for example, and there was unmistakable “Crowmentum” in CO-6.

This year, the June Primary gave us an early glimpse that 2020 could be another strong year for Democrats in Colorado. Polling has consistently shown the top of the ticket with unmistakable blue undertones — both Democratic Presidential candidate Joe Biden and Democratic Senate candidate John Hickenlooper have enjoyed a solid advantage for months now. President Trump’s re-election campaign is virtually non-existent in Colorado, with no indication that the Big Orange Guy will eventually turn his focus back to a state that he lost comfortably in 2016. And Senator Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) has turned his own re-election campaign into a vessel focused on making weird imitations of Hickenlooper.

Today we saw three more indications that 2020 is shaping up to be another banner year for the Blue Team: 1) A national prognosticator moved Colorado’s Senate race from “Toss Up” to “Lean Democrat”; 2) The DCCC is spending money on television in order to boost Democrat Diane Mitsch Bush in Colorado’s most competitive Congressional race; and 3) Polling results from Douglas County suggests that a once solid-red county is now very much in play. Let’s break down each of these points individually, saving the biggest news for last…

 

Cook Political Report Projects Hickenlooper Victory

As Jessica Taylor writes for Cook Political Report, Gardner’s decision to support a confirmation process for a new SCOTUS nominee has probably doomed him to a November loss:

In the past we have been hesitant to move incumbents out of Toss Up unless there are extenuating circumstances. We have for two incumbents so far this cycle. First, Democratic Sen. Doug Jones in Alabama remains the heavy underdog in a state that Trump won in 2016 by 28 points. We now rate that contest as Lean Republican, with former Auburn football coach Tommy Tuberville favored to win. Then, in July, we moved Arizona GOP Sen. Martha McSally to the Lean Democrat column — who was appointed to this seat after losing a race for the same position just two years ago — after consistently trailing Democrat Mark Kelly.

There has been a dearth of quality public polling in Colorado too. But in talking with sources privately, Democrats have never had this race very close, often showing a low double-digit gap that has since closed to high single digits. Still, Hickenlooper has retained the edge. And several Republicans who are monitoring the race closely who may have initially hoped that Gardner could outperform the president enough to win now seriously doubt that is the case…

Gardner’s vote, though, may well seal his fate, even if it was probably heading toward a loss anyway. [Pols emphasis]

The writing has indeed been on the wall for Gardner for some time, as evidenced by the regular reluctance of Republican Super PACs to spend big money in Colorado. The status change by Cook Political Report just says out loud what many political observers in Colorado have been saying for months: There’s no good path to victory for Gardner in 2020.

 

Democrats Start Spending in CO-3

Diane Mitsch Bush was also the Democratic candidate for Congress in CO-3 in 2018, but she was running against an entrenched incumbent in Rep. Scott Tipton (R-Cortez). Tipton’s loss to the comically-unqualified Lauren “Q*Bert” Boebert in the June Primary opened up a new lane for Mitsch Bush that the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) is eager to exploit. Remember: The DCCC did not invest significant resources in CO-3 in 2018, and that bet proved correct when Mitsch Bush lost to Tipton by nearly 8 points.

In 2020, things are noticeably different for Mitsch Bush. She earned “Red to Blue” status from the DCCC in August — a marker that she wasn’t able to reach two years ago — and two consecutive polls have shown that CO-3 is essentially a toss-up. Polling shows that Biden and Trump are running neck-and-neck in this district, which is a YUGE difference from 2016, when Trump carried CO-3 by 12 points.

Voters in CO-3 are opening the door for Democrats, who are plenty happy to stroll inside and take a seat on the couch.

 

Douglas Freakin’ County is a Toss Up

Darien Wilson, Democratic candidate for Douglas County Commissioner

Colorado Republicans are having trouble focusing in 2020; many of their activists are out chasing their tails instead of campaigning for candidates. Whether it is the result of apathy or ignorance (probably a little of both), this sort of behavior is a dangerous combination when you add in a tough national environment for Republican candidates. Sprinkle in a bit of COVID and BLM truther idiocy, and you have a full-fledged recipe for disaster on your hands.

According to the campaign of Darien Wilson, a Democratic candidate for Douglas County Commissioner, polling data shows that this once hopelessly-red county is up for grabs in 2020. Via press release from Meyers Research:

According to the results of our recent survey, Democrat Darien Wilson has a clear path to defeating Republican incumbent Lora Thomas in the contest for Douglas County Commission. The combination of Trump’s collapse of popularity in this county and the Mountain West generally, combined with Thomas’ political attacks on the public health system during a global pandemic, create a dead heat race once contrast messages are introduced.

Wilson has the real opportunity to grow her support thanks to Donald Trump at the top of the ticket. Trump and Joe Biden are locked in a tight race, with neither candidate reaching majority at the outset: 48 percent of Douglas County voters support Biden today while 49 percent support Trump.

Initially, Thomas sits just above the majority threshold, capturing 52 percent to Wilson’s 42 percent. Once voters are introduced to contrast messages on both candidates, the race moves to a dead heat, with 48 percent of voters backing Democrat Darien Wilson and an equal 48 percent supporting Republican Lora Thomas. This race has the potential to go down to the wire come Election Day.

These are what we would call “Holy Shit Numbers.” Donald Trump carried Douglas County by better than 18 points in 2016, and Republican Walker Stapleton’s no-hope gubernatorial bid in 2018 still garnered him 55% of the vote in the southern Denver suburbs.

If Douglas County is this close in 2020, then suburban Republicans should start boarding up the windows.

 

There is still plenty of work to be done before (and after) ballots start arriving in mailboxes in three weeks, but it is definitely “freak out time” for the Colorado GOP.

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Chuck Schumer Throws His Body On The Machine

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, Sen. Michael Bennet.

As The Hill reports, Democrats in Washington are beginning to engage in whatever resistance they can without the votes to actually stop the Republican majority with steamrolling ahead on a new Supreme Court Justice six weeks before Election Day 2020:

Senate Democrats are limiting the ability to hold committee hearings in retaliation for Republicans decision to try to fill a Supreme Court seat in the middle of an election year, the first action in what is likely to be an increasingly combative battle over procedure in the Senate.

A Democratic aide confirmed that Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) had invoked the so-called “two hour rule,” which can be used to limit the ability to hold committee hearings after the Senate has been in session for more than two hours…

“Because the Senate Republicans have no respect for the institution, we won’t have business as usual here in the Senate,” Schumer said from the Senate floor.

A campaign of procedural obstruction to slow down business in the Senate, not unlike the delay tactics waged by Colorado GOP minorities in the General Assembly under Democratic control in 2019, certainly do have the ability to protract and exact the maximum political damage from a majority determined to carry out their agenda. Although Republicans have the votes to push a Supreme Court nominee through to a confirmation vote, even without confirmation hearings, our local Republicans are an example of how well a cohesive minority can jam up the majority–and that’s before we start talking about the moral differences between then and now.

Procedural obstruction may not be the limit of what Democrats can do. Colorado-based liberal commentator David Sirota suggests threatening a full government shutdown, which Speaker Nancy Pelosi has reportedly ruled out, or impeaching William Barr to play havoc with the Senate calendar. But we also know from Colorado experience that while the minority gets their say, it’s the majority who gets their way. And as CNN’s Gregory Krieg and Dan Merica report, it’s the threat of what Democrats have the power to do in the increasingly likely event they win the Senate majority and the White House that might prove the only real bargaining chip:

Sean McElwee, co-founder and executive director of the progressive group Data for Progress, called the threat of eliminating the filibuster, adding justices to the court and new seats in the Senate, the Democratic Senate minority’s “only credible threat.”

“You need a number of Democratic senators to be sending that message to McConnell, because it’s really the only point of leverage that Democrats have,” McElwee said. “Most of the procedural stuff that I’m seeing come out there is a bit of a fantasy, to be entirely frank.”

In the end, Democrats have little to risk from fighting it out over this nomination, and employing every kind of resistance tactic feasible to disrupt Republicans as they barrel with majority power toward the inevitable–along with very explicit promises about how Democrats will remediate the judiciary’s lurch to the right under Donald Trump after victory in November. The specific question of a government shutdown is more complicated because of the ongoing economic and health emergencies of 2020, but everything short of that seems like a no-brainer.

With all of this in mind, however, it’s not pre-emptive concession to acknowledge that this outcome was ensured by Trump’s victory in 2016, and Republican control of the U.S. Senate predating Trump. Unless Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell blinks, the only remedy for anything that happens before next January comes at the polls in November.

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Get More Smarter on Tuesday (September 22)

So long, summer; hello, autumn. Let’s 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 an audio learner, check out The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter.

 

CORONAVIRUS AND VOTING INFO…

*Colorado Coronavirus info:
CDPHE Coronavirus website 

*Daily Coronavirus numbers in Colorado:
http://covid19.colorado.gov

*How you can help in Colorado:
COVRN.com

*Locate a COVID-19 testing site in Colorado:
Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment 

*Register to vote or get other election-related information:
GoVoteColorado.com

 

► President Trump still plans to nominate a new Supreme Court (SCOTUS) Justice by the end of the week, and it’s looking like Senate Republicans are going to ignore their own hypocrisy and allow a confirmation vote to take place. As The Washington Post reports:

Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) announced Tuesday that he believes President Trump should get to choose a replacement for Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg regardless of whether he wins in November. The move clears the way for a vote this year by the GOP-led Senate on a nominee that Trump is expected to name Saturday.

Late Monday, Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) announced that he would support a confirmation vote for a new SCOTUS nominee — despite the fact that Gardner argued vociferously in 2016 that a new SCOTUS pick should wait until a new President was elected. As Denver7 reports:

There has been immense pressure for the Republican senator to make a statement on what he would decide to do with a potential nominee since Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died last Friday, as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and fellow Republicans blocked hearings and a vote for President Obama’s March 2016 nominee, Merrick Garland, saying at the time that voters should decide the pick in an election year. Justice Antonin Scalia had died in February of that year…

…Denver7 asked Gardner’s office on Friday following the announcement of Justice Ginsburg’s death what the senator would do with a potential nomination but did not receive a response until his office sent out a news release Monday. He declined to comment on the nomination to some reporters in Washington D.C. and did not directly address a question about the vacancy at an appearance on the Western Slope this weekend.

As Chris Cillizza writes for CNN, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s “nothing matters but SCOTUS” political strategy appears to have worked again. The big question now: Will voters punish Republicans at the polls?

 

► The death toll from COVID-19 in the United States has surpassed the 200,000 mark. As The Washington Post reports, President Trump told rallygoers in Ohio on Monday that everything is cool:

President Trump falsely claimed at a Monday night campaign rally that the coronavirus “affects virtually nobody” below the age of 18 and is mainly a risk to elderly people with heart problems and other preexisting conditions. In a March 19 interview with Washington Post associate editor Bob Woodward, however, Trump acknowledged that “plenty of young people” were affected and admitted that he had downplayed the risks of the virus.

COVID-19 cases in Colorado are on the rise for the third straight week, potentially marking a third spike in our state. Classes at the University of Colorado-Boulder are moving online for at least two weeks because of an outbreak among students.

Meanwhile, the City of Denver is shifting COVID-19 testing strategies toward a focus on smaller pop-up testing sites.

 

► President Trump went on Fox & Friends on Monday and reminded us that Sen. Cory Gardner is “very, very loyal to the party.”

 

The Denver Post editorial board endorsed Rep. Jason Crow (D-Aurora) for re-election in CO-6.

 

More political (and coronavirus) news is available right after the jump…

 

(more…)

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Cory Gardner: Sure, Let’s Confirm a New SCOTUS Nominee!

Brave as ever, Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) waited until the very end of the day to issue a statement about his position on filling the Ruth Bader Ginsberg vacancy before the election.

Cory Gardner’s teeth

As The Denver Post reported in February 2016, that Cory Gardner was totally opposed to holding confirmation hearings in an election year and refused to even meet with President Obama’s eventual choice, Merrick Garland:

Asked his opinion about the high court vacancy, Gardner said the successor to the recently deceased Antonin Scalia “ought be chosen by the American people through the election of the next president.” [Pols emphasis]

Pressed…on what he would say to the argument that he should wait to see who the president nominates, Gardner responded: “Again, I think we’re too close to the election. The president who is elected in November should be the one who makes this decision.” [Pols emphasis]

It’s gross, folks. It really is.

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Fact Checkers are Demolishing Gardner Talking Points

UPDATE (MONDAY): Gardner’s pre-existing medical conditions ad is so dishonest that even CBS4 Denver political reporter Shaun Boyd didn’t have anything nice to say (Boyd is well-known in Colorado political circles for her eagerness to toss softball after softball toward Gardner). From a CBS4 “Reality Check”:

There is maybe no provision of the Affordable Care Act that is more popular than protections for people with pre-existing conditions. And that has created a predicament for Republicans like Senator Cory Gardner who has voted repeatedly to repeal the law…

…This ad is meant to convince you Cory Gardner is sincere about his promise to protect people with preexisting conditions… Problem is, unlike the protections in the law he wants to repeal, his protections don’t go far enough.

 

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Via Politifact (9/18/20)

Politifact is out with a new fact check on legislation being promoted by Senator Cory Gardner’s campaign that has already been blown to bits by local fact checkers.

Despite spending his entire career railing (and voting) against the Affordable Care Act (ACA), Gardner is campaigning on a 117-word bill that he introduced in late July that is intended to give the impression that he is doing something serious about protecting pre-existing medical conditions. The reason is simple: Protecting pre-existing medical conditions is popular with voters, and Gardner is not.

Rather than concentrate on a TV spot from Gardner’s campaign about his legislation regarding pre-existing medical conditions, Politifact instead skips straight to the meat of the discussion: Does Gardner’s bill do what he says it would do?

A campaign spokesperson reiterated in an email that Gardner’s goal is “to guarantee coverage for individuals with preexisting conditions and ensure they cannot be charged more as a result of their underlying medical conditions.”

Thomas Miller, a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, a think tank in Washington, D.C., quipped that the main goal might be something else entirely.

“It’s probably about 100 words too long,” Miller said. “It could have said, ‘I’m running for election. I’ll do whatever is necessary.’” [Pols emphasis]

Politifact’s ultimate ruling is consistent with what other news outlets have discovered: Gardner’s bill is crap.

Because protecting people with medical conditions requires many moving parts, the brevity of Gardner’s proposal makes it appear to be a fig leaf for a political problem rather than a means to guarantee protections for people with preexisting conditions. [Pols emphasis]

The legislation is unclear on whether it guarantees that people with health problems will be able to buy insurance in the first place. And, even if they can, they may well find it priced out of reach because the legislation does not bar insurers from varying premiums widely on the basis of age, gender or occupation.

Viewed in its most favorable light, Gardner’s 117-word proposal would only serve as a place holder for larger legislation, upon which more protections would have to be layered to bolster the effectiveness of its guarantee.

In an effort to defend Gardner, his campaign spokespeople have been working really hard to move the goalposts in describing “things that are true.” A spokesperson tells Politifact above that Gardner’s “goal” is to “guarantee coverage for individuals with preexisting conditions and ensure they cannot be charged more as a result of their underlying medical conditions.” That’s a cute bit of wordplay about a “goal” that skips past the fact that this is not what Gardner’s legislation would actually accomplish.

Responding to a Fox 31 News “truth check“, a Gardner spokesperson said, “Insurers would be required to take on and cover individuals with pre-existing conditions no matter what happens to Obamacare.” That’s not what health policy experts say. But our favorite Gardner campaign narrative came in response to a 9News “Truth Test” about his pre-existing conditions TV spot:

In an email, Gardner’s campaign spokeswoman defended the bill.

“One thing is 100% true: Cory Gardner authored the bill and he says it guarantees coverage, which means insurers would be required to cover and take on individuals with pre-existing conditions,” wrote spokeswoman Meghan Graf.

It is 100% true that Gardner authored the bill! It is 100% true that Gardner “says” it guarantees coverage! It is 100% true that Gardner is an actual U.S. Senator!

Here’s one more thing that is true: Gardner’s pre-existing medical conditions stunt is not working.

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