Profiles in Cowardice: Colorado’s GOP Delegation

UPDATE #2: Congressman Ken Buck (R-Greeley), who also serves as the State Republican Party Chairman, won’t answer questions about the Presidential election…but he’ll happily take time to write a letter to Attorney General William Barr asking for an investigation into “Hunter Biden’s laptop.”


UPDATE: It’s worth noting that this is not a new phenomenon. As Justin Wingerter reported for The Denver Post on November 23:

In the nearly three weeks since Biden defeated Trump, none of the state’s four congressional Republicans have acknowledged Trump’s defeat or signaled support for his wild claims of widespread election fraud. On Monday, spokespeople for the four declined to comment when asked if Trump should concede.


Nope, nope, nope, and nope

Life is full of unanswerable questions. “Who won the 2020 Presidential Election?” is not among them.

Nevertheless, The Washington Post devoted what we imagine was a considerable amount of time into surveying every Republican Member of Congress — all 249 of them — about the results of last month’s election. The Post mostly got a bunch of non-responses and was thus forced to research other public comments from Republicans. All told, only 27 GOP lawmakers acknowledged that Democrat Joe Biden is the President-elect. Two Republicans, Rep. Mo Brooks of Alabama and Rep. Paul Gosar of Arizona, actually maintain that Donald Trump won the 2020 election.

All told, 88% of Congressional Republicans REFUSE TO OFFER AN OPINION on the winner of the 2020 election. That percentage is even more dismal among Colorado’s GOP delegation, which is 100% united in silence. No member of Colorado’s Republican delegation even bothered to respond to questions about the election outcome. Not Sen. Cory Gardner, not Rep. Scott Tipton, not Rep. Ken Buck, nor Rep. Doug Lamborn.

And these were not difficult questions:

Via The Washington Post (12/6/20)

The last question and non-answer is particularly absurd. Most Republicans won’t even say if they would accept Biden as President of the United States once members of the Electoral College cast their ballots. How about after Biden is inaugurated on January 20, 2021? Or when Biden is literally sitting in front of the Resolute desk in the Oval Office of the White House?

As Chris Cillizza writes for CNN, this is beyond ludicrous:

Saying that we need to consider both sides of this argument equally is an utter farce. It’s as though one side is arguing that 2 +2 = 4 and the other side is saying that 2+ 2 = 5, and we have to act as though both arguments are equally valid.

We are fortunate that the outcome of the Presidential election does not depend on the opinion of Doug Lamborn, but there are other important factors at play in this discussion. Cillizza goes on to make a point that should not — must not — be dismissed as simple partisan politics:

Because if some decent chunk of the population is so convinced — facts be damned — that Trump won and the election was stolen from him, it leads to events like we saw in Michigan on Saturday night: A group of armed protesters surrounded the home of Democratic Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson demanding that she “stop the steal” of the election from the President.

Donald Trump’s poisonous impact on America is undebatable, but let’s not forget the importance of Trump’s enablers. Republicans don’t have to mimic Trump’s unfound allegations about widespread voter fraud in order to weaken democracy and foment violence. By remaining silent, they are admitting that avoiding a mean Tweet from Trump is more important to them than preventing real people from getting hurt.

Shame on Cory Gardner. Shame on Scott Tipton. Shame on Ken Buck. Shame on Doug Lamborn. May their cowardice never be forgotten.

Which Car Lot Will Cory Gardner Land In?

Donald Trump and Cory Gardner in Colorado Springs, February 20, 2020.

We’re obliged to note this report in the New York Times, though we’re not ready to take it to the bank:

[Republican Party chair Ronna Romney] McDaniel, a Michigan native, has a gilded political pedigree: She is the niece of Senator Mitt Romney of Utah and the granddaughter of George Romney, a three-term Michigan governor. She earned Mr. Trump’s trust in part by urging him to make trips to her home state during the 2016 campaign, which he credits with helping him win there.

She has told people she does not intend to seek another term after 2022, one person briefed on the discussions said, a move that could ensure her exit before the 2024 presidential cycle gets underway in earnest.

So far nobody has emerged to challenge Ms. McDaniel, but some influential Republicans are trying to stir support for Senator Cory Gardner of Colorado, who has just lost his re-election bid and is well-liked among pro-Trump and Trump-skeptical Republicans alike in Washington. [Pols emphasis] Mr. Gardner did not respond to two emails inquiring whether he had any interest in the chairmanship.

In the three weeks since the 2020 election Sen. Cory Gardner and President Donald Trump both lost, Gardner’s failure to join the ever-so-slowly-growing chorus of fellow Republicans admitting the reality that Joe Biden won has stood out–even more so after being cornered in Washington long enough to accuse reporters asking if he considers Biden to be the President-elect of asking “gotcha questions.” After losing his Senate seat in no small part due to his loyalty to Trump while the voters of Colorado migrated left, Gardner’s silence is generally assumed to be in the interest of preserving his standing in the GOP long enough to land his next gig.

It’s not unreasonable to think Cory Gardner might want Ronna Romney McDaniels’ job, and as former head of the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) Gardner undeniably has relevant experience. On the other hand, Gardner leading the Republican Party after running in both 2014 and to a lesser extent in 2020 as a contra-brand “different kind of Republican” highlighting his supposed post-partisanship is a bit whiplash-inducing for those who don’t know him well. Also, K Street pays much better.

Would Cory Gardner give the Republican Party the smooth-talking pitchman they need to move on after Trump? Or would Chairman Gardner just be another indicator that Republicans aren’t learning any lessons? This particular rumor may or may not pan out, of course, but it’s reasonable to assume Gardner won’t be immediately selling tractors in Yuma in 2021.

Jeffco Republicans Refuse to Do Thing Nobody Needs Them to Do

As Erik Maulbetsch reports for The Colorado Times Recorder, the Jefferson County Republican Party is mad as hell and they’re not going to pretend to be doing nothing anymore. Instead, they are going to pretend to do something that doesn’t mean anything. So there!

From The Times Recorder:

The Jefferson County Republican Party announced on Facebook today that it “refused to certify the election results.” Election certification is the responsibility of the canvass board and the County Clerk, not political parties.

Reached for comment, Jefferson County Clerk spokesperson Kara Rowland explained that the county’s election results are already certified…

…Colorado Secretary of State spokesperson Betsy Hart confirmed this.

Oh yeah? Well, then, the Jefferson County Republican Party is going to refuse to certify every election this century! Not only that, they’re thinking about refusing to certify future elections!

2020 Election Results in Jefferson County, Colorado. Not exactly a photo finish.

And what is the Jeffco GOP’s particular beef with 2020?

While the Jeffco GOP says it is not alleging fraud, it is basing its demands for “an audit” on unfounded conspiracy theories about the voting machine software company, Dominion Voting, which is used by Jeffco (and nearly every other county in Colorado).

It’s unclear from the public statements and the party’s so-called “Minority Report” if the Jeffco executive committee understands the county election process. Chair Denise Mund did not return a request for comment. [Pols emphasis]

With regards to the Jeffco GOP’s audit request, Jefferson County Clerk and Recorder George Stern explains that it’s already happened.

Oh…so you already did the audit thing…that we are demanding. Okay, well, it’s a good thing we demanded it!

We’ll leave it to you, dear readers, to suggest other potential actions that the Jefferson County Republican Party can take that will serve absolutely no purpose whatsoever.

Cory Gardner’s Loyalty To Trump Extends Beyond Political Grave

After nearly two weeks of trying, a reporter finally got outgoing Sen. Cory Gardner to utter words in response to the terminal crisis of Donald Trump’s out-of-control presidency–Trump’s refusal to acknowledge the results of an election that no reasonable observer has found any reason to question the results of.

Free of the obligation to defend a unified Republican ticket in a state Republicans have been losing for 15 years and at an accelerated pace since Trump took office, did Gardner finally summon up the spine to admit the obvious, and call for the peaceful transfer of power he assured us would take place when Trump suggested delaying the election back in July?

Sorry to disappoint you, folks.

The only thing we can say in response to this latest and perhaps final refusal by Sen. Gardner to keep the promise he made to voters in 2014, “when my party is wrong, I’ll say it,” is that it strongly indicates something more than political expedience at work in Gardner’s loyalty to Donald Trump. After Gardner called on Trump to pull out of the presidential race in October of 2016, Gardner’s swift about-face into one of Trump’s most indefatigable defenders ran directly counter to the preference of a majority of Colorado voters–even many Colorado Republicans, who had tried to make the state an example of Republican resistance to Trump by locking down for Ted Cruz at the 2016 GOP state assembly.

Cory Gardner had countless opportunities to meaningfully separate from Trump, plotting a careful course like neighboring Sens. Mitt Romney and Ben Sasse to exit the Trump era with their reputations intact in much redder states. Trump’s divisiveness created a bright white line between his supporters and the rest of the country, and Gardner stayed with his President even though that clearly meant aligning with a minority of Colorado voters. In setting the stage for Gardner’s widely anticipated defeat, there was a rush to make excuses for Gardner’s very deliberate choice to stay loyal to Trump over Colorado.

None of those excuses explain why Gardner is still covering for Trump now.

Lobbyists Who Joined Gardner and Mickey & Goofy Could Be Seeking Access to Another Character: Donald

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

While trips to Disney World following hard-fought contests are generally associated with the winners, lame-duck Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO) nevertheless spent last weekend in Orlando in what has become an annual tradition of his own: schmoozing with lobbyists at the “Happiest Place on Earth.”

Last year Gardner’s campaign committee and his PAC spent nearly $40,000 at the resort according to Federal Election Commission records. That may sound like a lot to spend on a fundraiser, until you consider that in 2017, tickets to Project West PAC’s “Family Weekend at Disney World” cost between $1,500 and $5,000.

The event is similar to another Gardner tradition, the annual ski weekend at Beaver Creek, for which tickets started at $2,500. Over 70 lobbyists attended that January event, representing a variety of corporate interests, such as oil & gas, law firms, health insurance, transportation companies, and pharmaceutical makers. Even at the minimum ticket price for each of them, the Beaver Creek event would have brought in $175,000. Gardner himself wasn’t able to attend this year’s ski weekend, but it’s believed he did make it to Orlando.

Gardner’s weekend at Disney World actually began last Friday. On an earnings call with investors the day before, Disney CEO Bob Chapek announced the park was upping its attendance limits by 40%. The park is now operating at 35% capacity, up from the 25% limit it had in place since reopening in July. Two weeks ago Disney laid off 11,350 workers from the Orlando resort.

Florida is experiencing a severe spike in coronavirus cases, reporting over 10,000 new cases and 29 deaths yesterday.

It’s unclear whether the Senator’s recent election loss caused any fiscally conservative lobbyists to withdraw from the fundraiser. And while Gardner may be a lame duck, those who did pony up to eat and play with Cory and Mickey and Goofy are likely more interested in his remaining access to another character: Donald.

Professor Seth Masket Gets More Smarter

This week on The Get More Smarter Podcast, hosts Jason Bane and Ian Silverii talk with Professor Seth Masket, Director of the Center for American Politics at the University of Denver, about the 2020 election results and his new book, “Learning from Loss: The Democrats, 2016-2020.” Masket’s book analyzes how and why Democrats ended up nominating Joe Biden for President in 2020 and how the 2016 election shaped the strategy and thought process for that decision.

Catch up on previous episodes of The Get More Smarter Podcast at

Questions? Comments? Complaints? Hit us up at

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Different Year, Same Mountain: GOP Plants Flag on Denial

UPDATE: In his column for The Denver Post, soon-to-be-former District Attorney George Brauchler explains that there was no blue wave in Colorado because Republican Lauren “Q*Bert” Boebert was elected to a Congressional seat that Republicans already held and Democrats only won one extra battle in the State Senate:

The Blue Wave redux appears to have only dampened Republican socks.

Ah, yes, “2020: The Dampening.”

Democrats had another successful election cycle in Colorado, winning a U.S. Senate seat, expanding on their majority in the State Senate, and maintaining a massive advantage in the State House. As Ian Silverii writes for The Denver Post, there was not a lot of suspense last Tuesday after the polls closed at 7:00 pm:

At 7:01 p.m. on Election Day our state was called for Biden and U.S. Senator-elect John Hickenlooper. Most of the statewide ballot initiatives were declared quickly, and most competitive legislative races were called right away as well. Our nationally-renowned and bipartisanly-lauded system of all-options voting with universal mail ballots delivered a doubtless result once again, and our Democratic, unaffiliated, and Republican county clerks and recorders, as well as our secretary of state, Jena Griswold, should be applauded for another competent administration of an incredibly high-stakes election.

Colorado Democrats will continue to dominate state government, as I predicted, possessing the most power Democrats have held in our state since FDR was president. They picked up a seat in the state Senate and held a massive 41-24 seat majority against a demoralized state House Republican minority who only after another punishing defeat grasped their previous leadership was leading them into the abyss.

Republicans currently hold only 24 seats in the State House, which is the lowest number since 1965. Actually, it’s the lowest number since 2018, when the same thing happened.

How are Colorado Republicans reacting to their troubles? As The Colorado Sun reports:

It took only an hour after the first election results posted for Colorado Republicans to start seeing the disaster ahead…

…For the party, the examination about how to move forward centers on a fundamental question: Was it President Donald Trump or was it us?

Oh, wait. Those two sentences were written in 2018.

The Republican bench in Colorado

Here’s the 2020 version:

Republicans in Colorado are facing a real crisis as the state moves further to the left. The bench of future GOP leaders the party hoped to build now is looking thin, one that could rival the Broncos’ injured list…

…No Republican running statewide has won more than 45% of the vote in the past two election cycles.

So, again, how did things get this bad for Colorado Republicans? That’s a question that the GOP asked itself after 2018 but never bothered to answer…and it doesn’t look like much has changed after another drubbing at the polls. This section from the 2020 Colorado Sun article is particularly enlightening:

Colorado House Democrats spent big money aiming to expand their majority this year, including in the Republican stronghold of Douglas County, only to see it maintain the status quo.

“That tells me a lot about the voters in this state,” said McKean, the House Republican leader. “We hear all this talk about how blue Colorado might be getting. I don’t believe it for a second.”

You could say that the recently-named House Minority Leader is looking at the world through rose-colored glasses, but that would be overly generous. In reality, McKean is looking at the Colorado political world through glasses covered in black felt. What he’s doing here is essentially celebrating the fact that Democrats only have a 17-seat majority after the 2020 elections.

Did Republicans hold the line this year? Or did Democrats just finally run out of competitive seats that could be flipped? The answer is closer to the latter than the former. After all, there’s no scenario whereby either political party is going to gain 100% of the seats in the state legislature.

It matters not whether McKean and Republicans “believe” that Colorado has turned blue, because this is not a subjective question. What matters is what Colorado Republicans are going to do about it.

If past is prologue, the answer is obvious: Not much.

Judging Gardner’s Legacy

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Written by Madeleine Schmidt & Erik Maulbetsch

After a decade in Washington as a public official, Colorado’s Republican Senator Cory Gardner is going home. The hundreds of judges he voted to approve, however, many of whom are anti-choice extremists, will continue their work interpreting American law for decades to come.

Gardner’s time in the Senate was historically unproductive by the traditional measuring stick of legislation passed. That was never more true than over the last two years, when the upper chamber’s “legislative graveyard” resulted in only one percent of the 15,000 bills becoming law.

On the other hand, under Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), the Senate accomplished one specific task at an unprecedented rate: confirming judicial nominees to the federal bench, with a total of 220 judges, including 53 circuit judges and three Supreme Court justices.

In fact, nearly a quarter of all active federal judges in the U.S. are appointees of President Donald Trump.

Looking at only the appellate and SCOTUS judges, nearly all of these lifetime appointments were selected from lists prepared by the Federalist Society, a far-right legal organization that has only become more extreme during the Trump Administration.

Criteria by which the Federalist Society compiled those judges cover a broad range of conservative policy issues, but none more significant than a consistent anti-choice record.


Colorado Republicans Fundraising on Fraud Allegations

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Colorado Republicans are asking their supporters for donations to investigate election fraud, but apparently only in those races they lost or are still too close to call.

Two days after the election the state party used the still as-yet undecided race for District Attorney in the 18th Judicial District as a hook for donations, warning of “reports of potential fraud taking place across America.”

Arapahoe Clerk Joan Lopez, whose country is within the 18th Judicial District, offered details on the ballot count process and made clear there has been no evidence of fraud locally.

“Arapahoe County is currently focused on the work of the voter ballot cure process, said Lopez. We’re awaiting remaining military and overseas ballots to ensure all votes are counted. In every election, we employ bipartisan teams of election judges at every step of the process, and we welcome watchers from both political parties to observe ballot processing. We have no evidence of fraud affecting the 2020 election.”

On Monday the state party again asked for money, touting Congresswoman-elect Lauren Boebert’s claims that President Trump has not lost the election.


Once Again, Mitt Romney Speaks Out While Cory Gardner Hides

Donald Trump, Mitt Romney.

The Hill:

Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) on Friday pushed back against President Trump’s baseless claim that the election is being stolen, warning that his rhetoric is only inflaming partisan tensions.

Romney, in a statement posted to Twitter, said the president was “right” to “exhaust legal remedies,” including asking for recounts and that alleged voting irregularities be investigated, but “wrong to say that the election was rigged, corrupt and stolen.”

“Doing so damages the cause of freedom here and around the world, weakens the institutions that lie at the foundation of the Republic and recklessly inflames destructive and dangerous passions,” Romney added.

With President Donald Trump’s rhetoric increasingly detached from reality, insisting he has won an election that at this point we can say with some certainty he did not win and making so-far totally unsubstantiated claims of election fraud, most Republicans are taking the middle ground of acknowledging Trump’s legal rights while reinforcing in the abstract that American elections are safe and sound.

As has been his trademark since winning Utah’s Senate seat in 2018, Sen. Mitt Romney has once again gone farther to condemn Trump’s irresponsible statements and actions than any of his Republican colleagues. Romney’s consistency in holding Trump accountable, including being the only Republican Senate vote to convict Trump in the impeachment trial, directly undermines the spin that now-defeated Sen. Cory Gardner of neighboring Colorado was a hapless victim of anti-Trump sentiment he could not avoid. Gardner made a deliberate choice to ride Trump’s ship down, and the debate will go on whether taking a Romney-like path of distance from Trump from the beginning might have saved Gardner in an election that wasn’t as big a Democratic wave as predicted.

But alas, even now…nothing. Presumably there are future career considerations.

Colorado Did Its Duty Again–Sorry, Rest Of America

Small-wave surfing.

John Ingold writes for the Colorado Sun:

For the first time in 84 years in Colorado and for only the fourth time in state history, Democrats have won … everything. The governor’s mansion. The secretary of state’s, treasurer’s and attorney general’s offices. Both chambers of the state legislature. The balance of power in the state’s U.S House of Representatives delegation. Both seats in the U.S. Senate. And the state’s electoral votes for president.

As we expected going in and proved to be the case, Colorado witnessed another massive victory for Democrats in 2020 to follow up a landslide in 2018 that itself pushed the margins of what was achievable in the most favorable circumstances. With the exception of failing to capture the “reach goal” R+6 CD-3 seat despite an extreme and unqualified surprise Republican nominee, Democrats won every race they prioritized in Colorado, and eliminated the last two vestiges of Republican statewide power by toppling Sen. Cory Gardner and winning a Democratic majority on the University of Colorado Board of Regents.

Remember how Donald Trump promised Republicans they would someday be “tired of winning?” In Colorado, Democrats are approaching an electoral ceiling caused by, well, too much winning. Inevitably, Colorado Democrats will find themselves more on the defensive in 2022 than in previous years simply because there is little additional ground left to gain and so many offices to defend.

Outside of Colorado, although Joe Biden appears to be consolidating his win over Donald Trump by a smaller-than-expected margin, this was not a great election for Democrats despite great hope of an historic landslide going in. And as Politico reports, we’ll be figuring out why for some time to come:

Democrats’ path to a Senate majority has narrowed dramatically as the party underperformed expectations in a handful of the most expensive races in the country, but control of the Senate remains undecided with a handful of states still too close to call.

Democrats’ chance for retaking the upper chamber slipped further Wednesday afternoon after GOP Sen. Susan Collins defeated Democrat Sara Gideon in the Maine Senate race…

Democrats went into Election Day expecting to pick up several seats. Yet Republicans remained optimistic as they clung to a slim Senate majority, buoyed by victories in those states and a key victory in Iowa. Sen. Joni Ernst won a second term against challenger Theresa Greenfield despite being badly outspent by the Democrat throughout the race. The GOP also held a narrow lead in North Carolina, where GOP Sen. Thom Tillis was fending off Democrat Cal Cunningham, with votes still coming in.

We know readers have a lot to say about the results of this election both inside and outside Colorado, so we’ll introduce a couple of important factors that may have been decisive in changing the expected narrative last night and yield the floor. Trump and Republicans do not seem to have taken as much of the political blame for the COVID-19 pandemic from voters as many anticipated, despite America having suffered disproportionately and public polls showing broad dissatisfaction with Trump’s handling of the crisis. What’s more, COVID-19 safety considerations restricted Democratic field campaigns to a far greater degree than their Republican counterparts–fewer doors knocked, fewer public events. Despite it being reasonable and appropriate for Democrats to pay heed to pandemic best practices that Republicans routinely disregard, it may not in retrospect have been the most politically expedient decision.

There’s more, of course. A lot more. To the extent that Democrats had hoped for a generational landslide victory that would have reset American politics, stopped rampant gerrymandering that gave Republicans undeserved legislative majorities for the last decade, and provided a clear mandate for bold changes, it’s evident at this point that they will not get what they wanted. Mitch McConnell retaining control of the U.S. Senate, which is as of now the most likely outcome pending the resolution of outstanding races and runoff elections in Georgia, is a sobering reminder of the continuing division and gridlock that besets the nation.

As of now, it looks like Biden will be the next President, and Colorado has progressed even further along its maturation from purple state to blue state. In the wave of 2018 and again last night in an unexpectedly different political climate, Colorado voted consistently blue.

Our advice is to celebrate that; and leave what cannot be helped for a day when you’ve had more sleep.

LIVE: Colorado Election Night 2020

UPDATE: Colorado called for Joe Biden and John Hickenlooper by national outlets at 7:01pm.

Welcome to blue statehood.


Wondering where to watch tonight’s election returns? Well, wonder no more!

Your friends from “The Get More Smarter Podcast” will be LIVE tonight for an Election Night Extravaganza. Special guests will be dropping by throughout the evening to discuss 2020 election results in real time. We’ll kick things off at 6:30 pm on Facebook and Periscope. Check us out on YouTube or CLICK HERE FOR THE FACEBOOK LINK.

Colorado Ballots Surge Past 2018 Total

Coloradans continue to vote in staggering numbers, as evidenced by the latest ballot return data from the Colorado Secretary of State’s office. Through Sunday, Nov. 1, more than 2,573,699 million Coloradans have cast a ballot; this surpasses the total number of ballots cast in all of 2018, when 2.56 million Coloradans circled their ovals.

When all is said and done, Colorado should have little trouble setting a new total vote record — well more than the 2.86 million who voted in 2016. In fact, we might blow by that mark sometime today.

Via Colorado Secretary of State (through 11/1/20)

“When My Party’s Wrong,” “Paid Protesters,” and More: Cory Gardner’s Greatest Quotes

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

With the election so close, and Trump driving so many voters away from Republicans, U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner’s (R-CO) promise to speak out against his own party stands out among everything he’s said from 2014 till today. It’s been oft-repeated, but how can it not top Gardner’s quote list?

“When my party is wrong, I’ll say it. When something is broken, I’ll fix it. I’m Cory Gardner, and I approve this message. I’d be honored to have your support. ” October 15, 2014.

Ranking other statements from Gardner doesn’t make sense, because he’s said so much that’s memorable. But here’s a list to chew on.


“What I worry about though, of course, is the paid protesters from out of state who are crowding out those Colorado voices. That’s a big concern of mine. It’s a concern of my colleagues when they can’t hear the voices of their constituents because paid activists from out of state are getting in the way.” September 14, 2018.

Fox 31 Denver: “As you know, there’s been protests outside your office. There’s a protest outside this hotel, people wondering, during this week of recess, why aren’t you hosting a town hall?” Gardner: “Well look, we’ve had a number of opportunities to engage with a number of Coloradans around the state. And we’ll continue to do that….” February 22, 2017

“Obviously, voter motivation and intensity is important in elections. And if more on the radical left, the loony left, get out and vote than the right, that’s a problem.” September 19, 2020.

“This is nothing more than a revenge majority. They want to fight against a president that they believe never should have been elected in the first place, and so the policies that they are pursuing are all going to be based on revenge: investigations, cutting border security, doing everything they can to provide that revenge.” December 12, 2018.


How Cory Gardner Destroyed Cory Gardner

(Bumped into November)

Sen. Cory Gardner (R-ekt).

It appears likely that Sen. Cory Gardner will not be re-elected to the U.S. Senate next week. If months and years of polling data are accurate, Gardner will be handily defeated by Democrat John Hickenlooper. It will be a loss of his own making. 

Like many Republicans, Gardner might have been dragged down by Trump in 2020 no matter what he did. Democrats certainly would have tied the two together whenever possible, but Gardner made it easy by getting stuck in a quintessential quagmire; instead of trying to extricate himself from Trump’s backside, Gardner just kept stepping closer and closer and closer.

But Gardner also made decisions that would have been wrong under any president. His quest to abolish the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which was his central campaign message in 2014, became untenable as Americans decided that the ACA was actually pretty useful. Gardner’s refusal to engage with constituents and his persistent ducking of reporters fed a narrative of aloof indifference. “Cardboard Cory” was a brilliant counter to Gardner’s detachment from the public, but it wouldn’t have worked so well if Gardner hadn’t been such a perfect foil. 

Gardner was haunted by his infamous 2014 ad in which he said, “When my party is wrong, I’ll say it.” This was the type of grand statement that helped him defeat incumbent Sen. Mark Udall, but eventually the bill came due on his promises. Gardner never tried to earn any equity with Colorado voters since that 2014 victory; by the time the 2020 election really started to heat up, his metaphorical wallet was empty.   

Policy-wise, Gardner put a lot of time and effort into undertakings that were not as politically-useful as he might have calculated. He made a big deal about moving the Bureau of Land Management headquarters to Colorado, but nobody cared. His push to fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) didn’t resonate with voters who were more concerned about the coronavirus outbreak and, later, social justice protests; nobody who was worried about the general state of the country was going to side with Gardner because of LWCF.   

The truth about Gardner is that he was never the brilliant rising star that he was portrayed to be in 2014. He made a lot of objectively dumb decisions that began to pile up over time. He never altered his path to reflect Colorado’s changing electorate

Gardner was good at being the opposition candidate, as he was in 2014, but he never adjusted as Republicans gained more power in Washington DC. Gardner’s shtick only works if he has a villain to oppose, which is why he needed Hillary Clinton to win the Presidency in 2016. When a Republican majority forced him into the position of actually trying to govern, Gardner was lost. 

We took a rather exhausting spin through Gardner’s full term in the Senate to identify precisely where things went wrong for Gardner. You can read through the full timeline after the jump, but the short version breaks down into 13 key moments in time:

♦ October 2016
Following the release of the “Access Hollywood” tape in which Donald Trump brags about sexually assaulting women, Gardner calls on Trump to withdraw from the race and says, “I will not vote for Donald Trump.” [SPOILER ALERT: This doesn’t age well].

♦ Early 2017
Trump takes office and immediately promotes a “Muslim travel ban,” signals his full support for repealing the ACA, and nominates Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court. Meanwhile, Gardner makes two big statements that he will eventually abandon: a) Promising not to repeal the ACA without a replacement plan, and b) Opposing Trump’s call for a wall along the US-Mexico border. 

♦ July 2017
After months of pretending that he hadn’t decided how he would vote on repealing the ACA, Gardner casts TWO separate votes to do just that. Gardner never adjusts his talking points even after Arizona Sen. John McCain’s famous “thumbs down” on the Senate floor.

♦ August 2017
Two things happen this month that will not happen again: a) Gardner holds his last town hall meetings, and b) Gardner speaks out against President Trump following the racial violence in Charlottesville, VA. 

♦ Early 2018
President Trump calls Haiti and other African nations “shithole countries.” A few months later, Trump implements his “family separation” policy for immigrants. Gardner is silent.

♦ November 2018
As Chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Campaign (NRSC), Gardner relies on a largely pro-Trump message in campaigns around the country. Back in Colorado, a massive blue wave sees Republican gubernatorial candidate Walker Stapleton and Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Aurora) defeated by double digit margins. It should have been clear at this point that a pro-Trump message wasn’t going to work in Colorado.

♦ January 2019
Gardner becomes one of the first U.S. Senators to formally endorse President Trump’s re-election campaign. Whatever once bothered Gardner about Trump’s “Access Hollywood” moment no longer troubles the Yuma Republican.   

♦ March 2019
Gardner flips on his previous opposition to a border wall and backs Trump’s efforts to fund the project by declaring a dubious “national emergency.” The editorial board of The Denver Post demolishes Gardner in an Op-Ed that is widely referred to as an “un-endorsement” (The Post endorsed Gardner in 2014).

♦ August 2019
“Cardboard Cory” goes on a statewide bus tour and generates significant media attention, highlighting Gardner’s refusal to engage with constituents.

♦ October 2019
Gardner absolutely implodes in front of a gaggle of Colorado reporters when pressed to respond to reports that President Trump tried to extort the President of Ukraine. It’s hard to overstate how much this moment damaged Gardner’s credibility, both with the media and with voters in general.

♦ February 2020
Gardner votes to acquit President Trump after a Senate impeachment trial in which he gets national press for pressing Senate Republicans NOT to call on additional witnesses. Later, Gardner appears at a Trump campaign rally in Colorado Springs in which Trump says that “Cory never wavered” in his support of the President. Gardner finishes the month by jetting to a $1,000-a-bottle champagne tasting party in Palm Beach, Florida…right at the time that the coronavirus pandemic is becoming big news in the United States.

♦ June 2020
The Trump administration has now completely botched the response to COVID-19, and Black Lives Matter protests are taking center stage in the news. Gardner refuses to speak a negative word about Trump on either issue. Gardner also spends millions on TV advertisements critical of Democrat John Hickenlooper, who handily wins a Democratic Primary Election regardless.

♦ October 2020
Gardner sides with Senate Republicans on confirming a new SCOTUS nominee, which is completely at odds with his 2016 comments on Obama nominee Merrick Garland. Given one last chance to stand up to Trump, Gardner fails; he is asked in a Senate debate whether or not he believes that President Trump is a “moral and ethical man.” Gardner answers, “Yes.”  


And now, the full details of Gardner’s demise…


“Senator, You’re No Jack Kennedy”

Nowhere near JFK on his best day.

The Hill’s Julia Manchester reports as the clock ticks down to the final hours of Sen. Cory Gardner’s all-but-over-but-the-shouting re-election campaign–a final pitch from Gardner making a comparison that has Democrats seeing red:

Gardner is one of the most vulnerable incumbent Republican senators. The nonpartisan Cook Political Report rates the race as “lean Democratic.”

The incumbent’s campaign juxtaposed clips of Gardner with old footage from a 1962 speech that former President John F. Kennedy gave in Pueblo, Colo., in which he called for funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund.

“It took 50 years to get it done, and it took Cory Gardner,” the narrator says in the ad titled “Next Generation.”

The Colorado Springs Gazette’s Ernest Luning reported a week ago when the ad was originally released:

In its closing weeks, Colorado’s grueling U.S. Senate race between Cory Gardner, the Republican incumbent, and John Hickenlooper, his Democratic challenger, witnessed a surprise guest appearance by a politician in an unexpected role — President John F. Kennedy, stumping alongside Gardner in a TV commercial.

JFK is only the latest prominent Democrat to land a starring role in a Gardner commercial, joining Gov. Jared Polis, U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet, former President Barack Obama and even Hickenlooper, who gets a nod for some nice things he said about Gardner before they were running against each other.

Running in a state that has steadily “walked away” from the Republican Party in every election since his own six years ago, most of Cory Gardner’s positive campaign messaging has focused on Gardner’s supposed bipartisanship–despite Gardner’s record of closely toeing the Trump line with his votes in the Senate, and refusing to criticize the increasingly unpopular President even at the expense of his own reputation. Contrasted against Gardner’s deeply ingrained public image of “no waver” loyalty to Trump, these appeals to “bipartisanship” have fallen flat with Colorado voters, and done nothing to avert his double-digit downward slide in the polls.

But Gardner did manage to do one thing this time: draw the wrath of the Kennedy family.

As we’ve said before when Sen. Michael Bennet pulled the rug out from under Gardner in a previous similarly messaged ad, using favorable words of opponents and their allies is an inherently risky business. But a Trump Republican invoking one of the preeminent icons of the Democratic Party in a race against a Democratic candidate, in the most politically polarizing election season of our lives so far, is hubris that simply cannot be allowed to stand.

Based on the polls, it won’t. But as necessary as it was for Lloyd Bentsen to say it to Dan Quayle, the Kennedys had an obligation to inform Cory Gardner themselves–he is not now and will never be.

Mitch McConnell Says Eat Cake For Christmas, America

CNN’s Manu Raju reports that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is pushing back the possibility of another economic stimulus bill even further, from right after election as President Donald Trump promised if he wins to after the New Year no matter what happens Tuesday:

It’s “unfathomable,” Sen. Cory Gardner didn’t say. But for economists and public health authorities warning of a nightmarish winter ahead, and millions of Americans who needed help many months ago while Gardner pretended to hear them, this is very tough news.

Sickly-Sweet Smell of Desperation Hits Colorado’s Senate Race

From a Colorado GOP mail piece attacking John Hickenlooper.

Westword’s Michael Roberts reports on an ugly new mail piece hitting Colorado’s U.S. Senate race from the Colorado Republican Committee, provoking significant backlash over their employment of “Willie Horton”-style racially charged scare tactics:

Accusations of racism and more have arisen over a series of fliers supporting Senator Cory Gardner’s reelection bid. Among other things, the mailers are accused of demonizing Reverend Promise Lee, a prominent Colorado Springs religious leader and criminal reform advocate who’s also serving as spokesperson for the family of De’Von Bailey, who was fatally shot in the back while fleeing from a Colorado Springs Police Department officer in August 2019; the incident has spurred a lawsuit.

Echoing the infamous Willie Horton ad employed by supporters of George H.W. Bush during his 1988 race for the presidency, the fliers attack Gardner’s opponent, former Governor John Hickenlooper, for pardoning, granting clemency or commuting the sentences of supposedly dangerous criminals, most of them people of color.

At the center of five photos is a contemporary snapshot of Lee, whom Hickenlooper pardoned in 2018. But while Lee did indeed commit a murder during a drug deal gone wrong, he was just fifteen at the time — and afterward, he turned his life around, as outlined in his book Pardoned: A Judicial Memoir, which details his inspiring path to redemption.

Using Reverend Promise Lee out of context to bash John Hickenlooper for “putting dangerous convicts back on the street” is deeply offensive to anyone familiar with his story and Colorado Springs-based ministry. Using his image and truncated version of life story to attack Hickenlooper earned this scathing reply from Rev. Lee:

The picture of me and the others lack context. And ironically, showcasing me in the center might acknowledge that reform actually works. However I doubt that this was Mr. Gardner’s intention.

It’s unfortunate that this attitude and strategy to divide people is not only interwoven in Mr. Gardner’s campaign and psyche but is also obviously rooted in his heart.

Do you want to see such a person holding a political office and perpetuating the current toxic climate of racism in our state? I certainly don’t. Mr. Gardner, your attempt to dehumanize people of color to advance your political career has backfired on you. Your party should be ashamed at your desperate divisive tactics.

Another individual depicted in this mail piece is a man named Renee Lima-Marin, who this mailer says was “pardoned to stave off deportation.” What it doesn’t say is that Lima-Marin was pardoned after the Colorado legislature passed a unanimous 99-0 resolution calling for him to be pardoned. Some of the biggest supporters of Lima-Marin’s pardon and sponsors of this unanimously approved resolution were far-right Republican hardliners like Rep. Dave Williams and Sen. Owen Hill.

This isn’t the first time that Hickenlooper has been hit with grossly distorted attacks accusing him of being “soft on crime,” such as in 2014 when his opponent in the governor’s race Bob Beauprez ran ads implying Hickenlooper was responsible for the murder by white supremacists of Hick’s friend and Colorado Department of Corrections director Tom Clements. In 2020, Colorado Republicans are no less factually off base–and piling on racism and xenophobia for good measure.

In the end, this is noteworthy only because it is so pointlessly shameful. In a race where the outcome is as close to a foregone conclusion as politics affords in the modern era, this was an unnecessary act of desperation that robs Colorado Republicans of honor in defeat.

Get More Smarter on Friday (October 30)

[We’re just going to keep this here]: STOP! If you still have a mail ballot at home, DO NOT DROP IT IN THE MAIL. We are close enough to Election Day that you now need to take your completed ballot to a local collection box; visit for more information. 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.



*Colorado Coronavirus info:
CDPHE Coronavirus website 

*Daily Coronavirus numbers in Colorado:

*How you can help in Colorado:

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

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


As The New York Times reports, the United States just recorded its worst week yet regarding the COVID-19 pandemic:

The country reported a record of more than 500,000 new coronavirus cases in the past week.

It’s not just a few areas driving the surge, as was the case early on. Half of U.S. counties saw new cases peak during the past month. Almost a third saw a record in the past week.

Meanwhile, as POLITICO reports, Vice President Mike Pence hasn’t been participating in coronavirus task force meetings FOR MORE THAN A MONTH.

Locally, the Jefferson County Public Health Department has issued new COVID-19 guidelines. Summit County and Mesa County have also added new restrictions.


This is crazy. As The Washington Post reports:

Early voting in Texas on Friday surpassed the total turnout from the 2016 election, with four days left until Election Day.

More than 9 million people have cast ballots early in Texas, according to the secretary of state’s office. In 2016, the Lone Star State’s total turnout was just shy of 9 million.

Texans flocked to polling centers when early voting began on Oct. 13, forming long lines that stretched for blocks in some places. The Biden campaign has narrowed its gap in Texas in recent weeks, trailing President Trump by about three percentage points, thanks to a surge in early voting by Democrats.

The Colorado Sun has more on massive voter turnout here in Colorado.


 Westword spends some time going through the not-so-greatest hits from Lauren “Q*Bert” Boebert. 


Democrat John Hickenlooper closes out his 2020 Senate campaign with another solid ad:

Meanwhile, Sen. Cory Gardner’s closing ad is that spot you may have seen that opens with a speech from former President John F. Kennedy.


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



Rep. Diana DeGette Gets More Smarter

This week on The Get More Smarter Podcast, hosts Jason Bane and Ian Silverii talk with the “Dean of the Delegation,” Congresswoman Diana DeGette (D-Denver), who is about to become the longest-serving federal officeholder in Colorado history. DeGette discusses the craziest election year ever and the curious candidacy of Lauren “Q*Bert” Boebert in CO-03. She also gives us the lowdown on just how close we may be getting to a #COVID-19 vaccine.

Catch up on previous episodes of The Get More Smarter Podcast at

Questions? Comments? Complaints? Hit us up at

Subscribe: Apple Podcasts | Google Podcasts | Spotify | Stitcher | TuneIn

You’ve Just Lost an Election; What Are You Going to do Now?

As The Colorado Sun reports via its Unaffiliated newsletter, Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) already has some post-election plans:

Ten days after the election Republican U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner is hosting a fundraiser at Disney World for his Project West PAC, according to his campaign. It’s an annual event.

It’s nice that Gardner can take his family on a Disney World vacation on somebody else’s dime, but this doesn’t seem like it has the makings of a particularly successful event.

In general, we’re not sure we’d want to go to Florida itself anytime soon with the way COVID-19 cases are spiking — let alone rubbing shoulder to shoulder with a bunch of people at a theme park to wait in line for “Splash COVID in Your Mouth Mountain.” And are there a lot of people who want to go to Disney World to write a check to a PAC controlled by a guy who lost a high-profile Senate race a week earlier?

If you just feel like lighting some money on fire, there are plenty of other bumbling organizations that will take your check.

We’ve Reached The Amnesia Stage Of 2020

UPDATE: The video is cringeworthy:


GOP Sens. Kelly Loeffler, Cory Gardner.

CNN reports…just wow:

Republican Sen. Kelly Loeffler of Georgia said Wednesday she is “not familiar” with President Donald Trump’s widely reported comments boasting about sexually assaulting women that came to light during the 2016 campaign.

Loeffler, who is in a tight Senate race, has campaigned on her alliance with Trump, touting that she has voted with the President 100% of the time.

Loeffler told CNN on Wednesday that there are “no” issues in which she disagrees with the President. When Doug Richards, a reporter for NBC’s Atlanta affiliated television station, asked if she disagreed with Trump’s comments about sexually assaulting women, Loeffler sidestepped the question, saying she agreed with Trump’s approach “since Day One to put America First.”

When Richards pressed, Loeffler asked what the reporter was referencing. Richards said Trump’s statements about “personally sexually assaulting women.”

Loeffler responded, “I’m not familiar with that.” [Pols emphasis]

If Sen. Kelly Loeffler needs a refresher, she could read fellow Sen. Cory Gardner’s statement (temporarily) renouncing his support for Donald Trump in October of 2016 over the very same Access Hollywood recordings of Trump bragging about sexual assault:

Millions of Americans are set to choose between two people to lead this nation,. One candidate is a danger to our constitution, freedoms and security, and would sell our national security to the highest bidder and finalize the destruction of the rule of law. The other – a candidate whose flaws are beyond mere moral shortcomings and who shows a disgust for American character and a disdain for dignity unbecoming of the Presidency. I cannot and will not support someone who brags about degrading and assaulting women.

I am committed to defeating Hillary Clinton. The only way this is now possible is with a new nominee that reflects the values of our country and our party. I will not vote for Donald Trump. If Donald Trump wishes to defeat Hillary Clinton, he should do the only thing that will allow us to do so – step aside, and allow Mike Pence to be the Republican Party’s nominee. If he fails to do so, I will not vote for Hillary Clinton but will instead write-in my vote for Mike Pence.

But let’s face it–Gardner’s “not familiar” with this statement either.

At least not until next Wednesday, when we expect it will be front of mind rather painfully.

Gee Thanks, Cory: So Much For COVID Tests At 7-Eleven

Sen. Cory Gardner (R).

The Phil Anschutz-owned Colorado Springs Gazette is very excited to report:

The White House sent 50,000 additional COVID-19 tests to Colorado in the past week to support increased testing needs resulting from recent wildfires.

The tests are BinaxNOW rapid point-of-care tests, providing results in 15 minutes…

On Oct. 21, 25,000 tests were sent for additional testing and to replace any effected tests from the wildfires. The state requested another 25,000 tests on Saturday that were sent immediately.

Sen. Cory Gardner is, as you can imagine, ebullient:

President Donald Trump’s most recent messaging on the COVID-19 pandemic is that the United States, the scene of more illness and death than any other nation on Earth, was “successful” in confronting the pandemic compared to worst-case early estimates that millions of Americans could die. Similarly, if you compare Cory Gardner’s excitement about these 50,000 tests for emergency personnel and evacuees to what Gardner said all the way back in April, which feels like an eternity ago, about what he wanted to see in terms of COVID testing:

“Testing absolutely is key here,” Mr. Gardner said on “Fox & Friends.” “I’d like to see testing so ubiquitous going forward that you can go buy your Big Gulp at 7-Eleven, and you can get your COVID-19 test at the same time.” [Pols emphasis]

This is where it dawns on the reader that in both cases, the goalposts have been moved to the point of Orwellian absurdity. 227,000 Americans are dead from the virus Donald Trump promised would go away with warm weather when cases were in the dozens–and we are still very, very far from getting a COVID-19 test at 7-Eleven. This “success” in obtaining 50,000 tests is occurring against the backdrop of inestimably greater failure.

All these months later, it’s remarkable–and tragic–how little has changed.

Get More Smarter on Wednesday (October 28)

[We’re just going to keep this here]: STOP! If you still have a mail ballot at home, DO NOT DROP IT IN THE MAIL. We are close enough to Election Day that you now need to take your completed ballot to a local collection box; visit for more information. 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.



*Colorado Coronavirus info:
CDPHE Coronavirus website 

*Daily Coronavirus numbers in Colorado:

*How you can help in Colorado:

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

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


As The Denver Post reports, the COVID-19 outbreak is getting worse in the Denver Metro area:

Denver moved to Colorado’s second-highest level of COVID-19 restrictions Tuesday, forcing most businesses to operate at a quarter of their capacity in an effort to curb the virus’ spread and avoid overwhelming hospitals.

Denver Mayor Michael Hancock announced the state health department had asked the city to tighten its restrictions after weeks of climbing coronavirus cases and rising hospitalizations.

Denver Public Schools followed with plans to send many of the district’s elementary students — who just had returned to their classrooms — back to remote learning.

“I don’t believe this is Denver’s failing,” Hancock said, blaming the virus’s resurgence on the lack of a national strategy to contain COVID-19. “It is, rather, a failing by those who still refuse to believe in science, and those who do not take it seriously.”

Adams and Arapahoe counties are also moving to more restrictive measures in an effort to reduce the number of positive cases.

As The New York Times reports, European counties such as France and Germany are moving toward lockdown status because COVID-19 cases are out of control.

Meanwhile, as CNN reports:

Via CNN (10/28/20)

And then there’s this gem from The Huffington Post:

Via The Huffington Post (10/28/20)


Ask yourself this question: Would you wait outside for hours — at night — in freezing cold temperatures to listen to anyone speak? Right…now go ahead and argue that Trumpism is NOT a cult. As NBC News reports:

Hundreds of President Donald Trump supporters were left in the freezing cold for hours after a rally at an airfield in Omaha, Nebraska, on Tuesday night, with some walking around three miles to waiting buses and others being taken away in ambulances.

Many of those at the rally at the Eppley Airfield faced hours in long lines to get in and clogged parking lots and busy crowds to get out, hours after his Air Force One departed around 9 p.m. Crowds cleared about 12:30 a.m.

According to dispatches from Omaha Police department, recorded by radio communications platform, Broadcastify, at least 30 people including the elderly, an electric wheelchair user and a family with small children were among those requiring medical attention after hours of waiting in the cold at the rally at the Eppley Airfield.

As The Washington Post reports, Democrat Joe Biden maintains an advantage over President Trump in two key battleground states:

Former vice president Joe Biden continues to outpace President Trump in two crucial Midwest battlegrounds, currently holding a slight lead over the president in Michigan while showing a much more substantial advantage in Wisconsin, according to a pair of Washington Post-ABC News polls.

The surveys show Biden narrowly ahead of Trump among likely voters in Michigan by 51 percent to 44 percent, with Libertarian Party nominee Jo Jorgensen at 3 percent. In Wisconsin, likely voters favor Biden by 57 percent to 40 percent, with Jorgensen at 2 percent. Among all registered voters, Biden’s edge in Michigan is five points, while he leads by 17 points in Wisconsin.

Wait, what? Biden is up 17 POINTS in Wisconsin?

As Greg Sargent notes in a different story for The Washington Post, Trump is losing ground all across America AMONG WHITE VOTERS. As Colorado Public Radio reports, the Presidential campaigns in Colorado are largely targeting non-white voters in the final week before Election Day.


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