“Blue State Bailout” BS Is Stopping Your Stimulus Check

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Sen. Cory Gardner.

Reports are varying out of Washington this afternoon over the state of negotiations over another round of economic relief legislation, which has been stalled for months as the economy sputters and Americans tighten their belts–and is nearly out of runway with Congress’ pre-election recess looming. Politico:

[House Speaker Nancy] Pelosi cast serious doubt on the likelihood of an agreement during a private call with House Democrats Thursday, stressing multiple times that Republicans don’t “share our values” on the need to provide trillions of dollars in health and economic relief to Americans impacted by the pandemic.

The California Democrat also outlined several key areas where Democrats and Republicans remained far apart, including a child tax credit, where she said Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has refused to approve even one dollar in new spending while Democrats have sought tens of billions of dollars for the initiative. The two parties have also been at odds over additional aid for state and local governments — a Democratic push — and Republican demands for liability protections for businesses and schools…

“We come from two different places,” Pelosi told reporters at a press conference later Thursday. “Hopefully we can find our common ground on this and do so soon.”

The Washington Post reports that the House will proceed to vote on Democrats’ latest stimulus proposal, which is a compromise effort reduced by $1.2 trillion-with-a-T from the original HEROES Act passed all the way back in May. But it’s still meeting heavy resistance that calls into question the good faith of Republican negotiators at a pretty basic level:

The legislation expected on the House floor Thursday evening is a slimmed-down version of the $3.4 trillion Heroes Act the House passed in May, which Senate Republicans and the White House dismissed as excessively costly. Republicans are leveling the same complaints against the new bill, but moderate Democrats, in particular, were eager to try to advance a new piece of legislation before returning to their districts to campaign for re-election.

Pelosi (D-Calif.) insisted that plans to vote on the new bill did not preclude reaching a deal with Mnuchin. In the past several days the two have resumed bipartisan negotiations that collapsed in early August, though without reaching agreement so far…

There is overlap in what Democrats want and the $1.62 trillion offer Mnuchin made to Pelosi on Wednesday, which included $1,200 checks, $400 weekly unemployment benefits, and $75 billion for coronavirus testing and tracing, among other provisions, according to two people familiar with its contents who spoke on the condition of anonymity to confirm it. There’s also $250 billion for state and local governments, but Democrats want more.

Here in Colorado, the question of aid to state and local governments to offset massive revenue losses from the economic pause to fight the COVID-19 pandemic is an extremely important matter, one that will directly impact our state’s already strained budget for essential services depending on whether Democrats in these negotiations or Republicans get their way. Aid from the CARES Act is the only thing that saved the legislature from having to make much greater cuts in this year’s abbreviated session, and that fiscal bloodbath is waiting if federal aid is withdrawn before the economy can recover enough to supply pre-pandemic levels of revenue.

If you’re asking why Democrats are holding out, this is the answer–and although Republicans know it’s not as politically lucrative as $1,200 checks made out to every American taxpayer, it’s really important that aid to local governments to keep basic functions of government functioning be a part of this bill too.

For Sen. Cory Gardner, who briefly became known by the nickname “Santa Cory” in the spring for his enthusiastic support for stimulus measures he panned under President Barack Obama, this impasse is poorly timed. Colorado voters know that the sticking point here is not a “blue state bailout,” but necessary support for all the services states and local governments provide for their residents.

It all boils down to this: one side wants to help, and the other side wants to help less.

In 2020, the politically desirable position seems obvious.

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Gardner Takes Both Sides of Both Sides on ACA Lawsuit

FRIDAY UPDATE: As The Hill newspaper reports, Gardner sorta commented on his vote Thursday:

Another bill, sponsored by Gardner, called the “Pre-Existing Conditions Protect Act” would actually let insurance companies refuse to sell coverage to people with preexisting conditions, experts say. If an insurer did decide to sell a policy to someone with preexisting conditions, under Gardner’s bill it could not refuse to not cover services related to that condition or charge them more based on their health status.

Gardner told The Hill in a statement he voted with Democrats on Thursday because “it would have provided an opportunity to vote on my bill to protect coverage with pre-existing conditions.”

“I support having this important dialogue with my colleagues,” he said. His office did not reply to a follow-up question about whether he supports the GOP’s lawsuit. [Pols emphasis] 

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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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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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Cory Gardner’s Zoom Room Appears to Include Book by Racist Extremist David Horowitz

(Rate this room or you hate America – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

During a brief virtual interview with a local Colorado Springs news station last night, Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO) offered viewers a glimpse at some of the books on the bookcase behind his desk. Most prominent among the visible titles is “Take No Prisoners” by David Horowitz, an unapologetic racist ideologue known for his anti-Muslim and racist statements.

Horowitz, whom the Southern Poverty Law Center considers an anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim extremist, has proved so offensive in recent years that being seen as associating with him has created problems for corporations and politicians alike.

In 2018 Florida Governor Ron DeSantis refused to answer questions about his speeches at Horowitz conferences.

A week later Verizon canceled its membership in the American Legislative Exchange Council over the group’s selection of Horowitz as a conference speaker.

“Our company has no tolerance for racist, white supremacist or sexist comment or ideals,” a Verizon spokesperson told the Intercept at the time.

In subsequent weeks, AT&T, Dow Chemical and Honeywell both followed suit, dropping out of ALEC due to its association with Horowitz.

A Colorado resident, Horowitz has spoken frequently to Republicans in his home state, including keynoting the Colorado GOP’s 2018 post-election retreat. He’s also a regular speaker at Colorado Christian University’s Western Conservative Summit.

With the majority of campaign events taking place online, elected officials’ virtual backgrounds are receiving considerable scrutiny.

Neither the Gardner campaign nor Horowitz immediately responded to email requests for comment. This post will be updated with any response received.

Horowitz’ offensive beliefs and statements are legion, but here are a few of the worst, most of which were compiled by Southern Poverty Law Center.

(more…)

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Cory Gardner Isn’t Even Pretending Anymore

UPDATE: What, me worry?

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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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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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In Shift, Gardner Now Says He Blocked Garland Because He ‘Disagreed with the Selection’

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Ever since refusing to meet with Judge Merrick Garland, whom President Obama nominated to replace Justice Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court, Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO) has insisted his objection to Garland was about the process, not the person. In an interview last week, however, Gardner said his decision to block Garland was because he “disagreed with the selection.”

Watch Gardner here, speaking via video to the 20/20 Growth Cannabis Public Policy Conference III on Sept. 23:

Interviewer: “In February of 2016, you said, ‘The next election is too soon. We shouldn’t appoint a new justice, need to let the American people decide this.’ I can read your exact quote, if you want. But now you’re saying that, it’s September 2020, and it’s not too soon, you’re interested in appointing new justice immediately versus qualified. So I guess my question is, why was February of 2020 — of 2016 — too close to an election but September of 2020 not?

Gardner: Yeah, I think it’s the same standard today that applied in 2016. The Senate majority exercising its advise and consent powers. In 2016, we did not move forward [garbled]. In 2020, I think it’s important we move forward to fill the judge. I disagreed with the selection in 2016. And I’m looking forward to a justice that is qualified, that won’t legislate from the bench, who will uphold the rule of law in the Constitution. So, that kind of a nominee put forward, my advice and consent will be to put that justice in place, just like it would have been in 2016, had that advice and consent been for a justice if admitted, that met and fit that criteria.”

(more…)

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Gardner Studiously Ignores William Perry Pendley Shitcanning

Sen. Cory Gardner (R).

Colorado Public Radio’s Hayley Sanchez reports on the removal late Friday of acting Bureau of Land Management Direct William Perry Pendley from his “temporary” position by a federal judge, weeks after Pendley’s politically self-immolating nomination to formally lead the agency he’s directed for over a year was rescinded by the White House:

Environmentalists are celebrating after the controversial head of the U.S. Bureau of Land Management was forced to stop leading the agency Friday.

A federal judge blocked William Perry Pendley from continuing to serve in that role. Pendley, who is officially deputy director of the BLM but has sat atop the agency’s organizational chart since July 2019, served unlawfully for 424 days without Senate confirmation, U.S. District Judge Brian Morris said. The Trump administration immediately vowed to appeal the decision…

Sen. Michael Bennet, a Colorado Democrat, tweeted Friday that the decision on Pendley was clear from the get-go.

“Someone who’s spent his entire career opposed to the very idea of public lands is unfit to lead a land management agency. Period,” the tweet read. Sen. Cory Gardner, a Colorado Republican, did not publicly respond to the judge’s ruling. [Pols emphasis]

As the Washington Post reports, Pendley is off the job pending appeal–and keep in mind that the Trump administration, up for re-election by the American people in five short weeks, has never had a Senate-confirmed director for the BLM:

The ruling will be immediately appealed, according to Interior Department spokesman Conner Swanson. He called it “an outrageous decision that is well outside the bounds of the law,” and he said the Obama administration had similarly filled key posts at the agency with temporary authorizations.

The agency will abide by the judge’s order while the appeal is pending, officials said. It will also have to confront questions over the legitimacy of all decisions Pendley had made, including his approval of land use plans in Montana that Morris said Pendley was not authorized to make.

One of the biggest changes to the BLM in its history occurred under Pendley’s term as acting director when the agency moved its titular headquarters from Washington, D.C. to Grand Junction–a move fraught with controversy that still hasn’t been fully completed, yet the accomplishment by the BLM most celebrated by Sen. Cory Gardner. Gardner wasn’t the only local politician who backed this change of address to the same literal office building as major oil companies in Grand Junction, but as opinion soured and the “Pendley situation” hurt the credibility of the Trump administration on public lands, Gardner was the one left publicly holding the bag.

Pendley may have been benched, but Cory Gardner is still holding the bag–which explains his lack of comment.

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Shaun Boyd, CBS4 Denver Still Missing the Point

CBS4 Disinformation Political Specialist Shaun Boyd, still missing the point.

Over the weekend, CBS4 Denver News Director Tim Wieland took the unusual — but correct –step of removing a story from its website because it was factually inaccurate.

On Sunday, CBS4 Denver and Shaun Boyd published a DIFFERENT story about its own erroneously-reported news from a few days earlier. Look at this headline:

“Colorado’s Secretary Of State Sets The Record Straight On Voter Registration Postcards”

The only “record” that needed to be set straight was the false one created by Boyd on Friday, but Boyd’s new lede doesn’t make that at all clear:

Secretary of State Jena Griswold is trying to clear up any confusion after a story by CBS4 about a voter registration mailing by her office.

This would have been a better lede: Secretary of State Jena Griswold explains why a previous CBS4 Denver story was totally wrong. 

While this new CBS4 story is obviously a sort of mea culpa to the Colorado Secretary of State’s (SOS) office, Boyd’s framing hasn’t changed much from her original nonsense narrative:

The mailing she’s referring to says: “Our records indicate that you or a member of your household may be eligible to vote but do not appear to be registered at your current address.” It goes on to delineate the qualifications to vote: 18 years of age, U.S. citizen and Colorado resident at least 22 days before the election.

As CBS4 reported last week, about a dozen of the postcards — that we know of — went to people who were not citizens or deceased. [Pols emphasis]

Some people got a postcard with information that doesn’t apply to them. So what?

The inference here is that the SOS office is encouraging non-citizens and dead people to vote in the 2020 election, but this is a silly projection that has no factual basis. Encouraging people to register to vote in no way ensures that they will then register to vote or be eligible to do so. Perhaps Boyd is the sort of person who receives a letter from Publishers Clearing House that says “you may have won $1 million dollars” and immediately assumes that she did, in fact, become a millionaire overnight. Alas, receiving a piece of mail — whether you were meant to receive it or not — does not provide you with any special abilities or advantages that you didn’t have before you opened your mailbox.

This vague “voter fraud” inference is, unfortunately, exactly what Republicans such as Donald Trump, Jr. are eager to promote. Take a look at this Tweet from right-wing nonsense provocateur George Brauchler:

Boyd’s false reporting encourages nitwits like Brauchler to break out their Twitter machines and cry out “fraud,” but it doesn’t change the very important fact that NON-CITIZENS AND DEAD PEOPLE CAN’T REGISTER TO VOTE (for that matter, dead people also can’t read a postcard that was erroneously mailed to their former residence). As Ian Silverii of ProgressNow Colorado explained via Twitter:

Voter fraud in Colorado and the rest of the United States is virtually nonexistent (in the 2016 election, there were four documented cases of voter fraud out of about 138 million votes cast, which works out to about 0.00000003 percent). Christopher Wray, the Director of the FBI, testified in front of the Senate Homeland Security Committee LAST WEEK and reaffirmed the safety of our elections:

“Now, we have not seen, historically, any kind of coordinated national voter fraud effort in a major election, whether it’s by mail or otherwise.”

It is nice that CBS4 Denver allowed SOS Jena Griswold the opportunity to correct their own misinformation, but this second story does not fix the original mistake. This is just doubling-down on bad journalism with more bad journalism.

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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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Consensus Forming: Cory Gardner is D-O-N-E

Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma)

We’ll preface this opinion with all of the necessary clichés: It’s not over until the fat lady sings. The future isn’t carved in stone. Don’t count your chickens before they hatch.

These are all wise sayings, but Election Day is less than 40 days away. Mail ballots in Colorado start going out in two weeks. And as we enter the final stretch of the 2020 election cycle, a consensus opinion seems to be forming about Colorado’s U.S. Senate race.

As Ella Nilsen writes for Vox.com, Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) is toast, thanks in part to his close association with President Trump. We’d recommend reading the entire article for the full effect, but take a look at some of the opinions provided in the Vox.com story; not one of them is from someone who thinks Gardner is going to beat Democrat John Hickenlooper in November:

Jessica Taylor, Cook Political Report Senate Editor

“Gardner is one of the best incumbents [Republicans] have running; it’s just that he’s running in one of the toughest states for them,” said Cook Political Report Senate editor Jessica Taylor, who recently moved Cook’s Colorado Senate race rating from a toss-up to Lean Democratic.

Dick Wadhams, Republican Strategist and former State GOP Chair:

“I think there will be a slice of the electorate who will vote for Joe Biden over Donald Trump but will vote for Cory Gardner as well if they can be convinced he’s been an effective senator for Colorado,” said Dick Wadhams, a Colorado Republican strategist and former chair of the state GOP. “That’s Cory’s only path for victory.”

“If Trump moves toward losing the state by 10 points, it makes it virtually impossible for Cory to win.”

Dave Flaherty, Republican Pollster (Magellan Strategies)

“He’s twisting himself in knots,” Colorado Republican pollster Dave Flaherty told Vox. “Justice Ginsburg’s death is an example. l think that is going to be hard to get away from; that is going to hurt him.”

“The fact Gardner has to spend hard-earned dollars to do the negative on his own is an interesting observation [of] where outside money is in a very long list of Republicans that need to be defended by Mitch [McConnell].”

Josh Freed of the center-left think tank Third Way

“Cory Gardner, unfortunately he is the example of a Republican Party that has fallen in lockstep behind a maniac,” said Josh Freed, the founder of the Climate and Energy Program at the center-left think tank Third Way. “Gardner is saying to Coloradans, ‘Don’t pay attention to my entire record; pay attention to this one thing.’ Gardner is the neighbor whose willful negligence caused your house to burn down, and he knocks on the door to apologize by bringing you a potted plant.”

Former Colorado House Majority Leader Alice Madden

“I know Cory and I served with him,” said former Colorado House Majority Leader Alice Madden, a Democrat. “He has been the king of trying to make everybody happy without doing a lot.”

Jonathan Houck, Gunnison County Commissioner

“I’ve often had a more difficult time nailing down where his position actually is,” said Jonathan Houck, a commissioner in Colorado’s Gunnison County. “He doesn’t seem to engage at a level that’s easy to discern off the bat, it takes some digging to get there.”

“I’m also supporting [Hickenlooper] because he’s done the work here,” Houck said. “The western and eastern parts of the state are sparsely populated. When John Hickenlooper was governor, he was governor of the whole state and he didn’t forget about rural folks out here.”

As you can see, there is not a lot of confusion on this topic.

Gardner has no real message in 2020, other than trying to convince voters that he’s a better version of Hickenlooper. His ridiculous flip-flop on confirming a new Supreme Court Justice is the latest in a long line of baffling failures that are out of step with the Colorado electorate. Fact checkers regularly demolish his carefully-hewn talking points, and his own television ads are idiotic. His refusal to discuss anything, with reporters or constituents, has become a running joke.

It ain’t over ’til it’s over, but the consensus opinion is that it’s right around the corner.

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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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Throwback Thursday: Cory Gardner Rages Over “Brosurance”

As FOX 31’s Eli Stokols reported in October of 2013, then-Rep. Cory Gardner wasn’t much concerned back then about protecting patients with pre-existing conditions like he claims to be today, or anything else in the Affordable Care Act, which his single-minded purpose in office up to that time and years since has been to repeal.

No, in 2013, Gardner was incensed about a pro-Obamacare ad called “Brosurance.”

During Wednesday’s hearing before the House Energy and Commerce Committee, Gardner held up a large poster board showing the ad itself, which shows three young men engaged in a keg stand under the text, ‘Got Insurance?’

“Do you agree with this kind of advertising?” Gardner asked, gesturing toward the poster board held up by a staffer over his shoulder.

“I can’t see it,” Sebelius responded.

“It’s a college student doing a keg stand,” Gardner explained.

“I did not approve it,” Sebelius answered, talking over Gardner. “This is a state-based marketplace.”

Gardner also referred to the Brosurance campaign as something “that a board member of the Colorado exchange brought forward”, although the ad is actually the work of the Colorado Consumer Health Initiative and Progress Now, two progressive groups that are not associated with Connect for Health Colorado, the state’s exchange.

Now the first problem with this is, as we said at the time, is that the ad in question was in no way under the control of then-HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, being just one of many independent efforts to spread the word about the new coverage options available to Americans under the Affordable Care Act. In this case, the ad didn’t even have any official connection to the Colorado health coverage marketplace it was promoting. And because Sebelius had nothing whatsoever to do with the “Brosurance” ad, Cory Gardner pestering her about it in an official hearing was a colossal waste of everyone’s time.

It’s a moment lost down the memory hole after years of hot air over the Affordable Care Act, which has only gained popularity since its passage despite a ruthless campaign of over-the-top misinformation against it. But it’s an excellent example of how little Republicans like Cory Gardner cared about health care policy during their ultimately failed campaign to repeal the law. Petty grandstands like this faux outrage over “Brosurance,” and misinformation such as Gardner’s false claims of “hundreds of thousands of cancellations” while the ACA drove the rate of uninsured in Colorado to record lows, have been the whole strategy–up until the 117-word bill Gardner introduced this summer to paper over a decade of not caring about people with pre-existing conditions.

In 2020, kegstands for health coverage seem like a small complaint indeed.

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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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Gardner or Hickenlooper…and By How Much?

Sen. Cory Gardner and John Hickenlooper.

When we last asked this question in early September, the results indicated again that Democrat John Hickenlooper is headed for a comfortable victory over Republican Cory Gardner in November.

Ballots will start going out in a little more than two weeks, so it’s time to ask once more: Who is going to win Colorado’s marquee race? Senator Cory Gardner or former Governor John Hickenlooper? This is obviously not a scientific survey, but Colorado Pols readers have traditionally been pretty accurate in predicting the outcomes of big races in Colorado.

As always, we want to know what you think will happen here — not what you want to happen or who you personally might support. If you had to place a bet — right now — on one of the following options, what would you select?

Click after the jump to cast your vote…

 

(more…)

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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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McConnell: Gardner Is Likely To Be “Key Vote” That Gets Supreme Court Nominee “Across the Finish Line”

(“Very, very loyal” – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Mitch McConnell, Cory Gardner.

In an email to supporters this morning, U.S. Senate leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky wrote that Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner will “likely be a key vote that gets [Trump’s Supreme Court] nominee across the finish line when she comes up for a vote.”

Then McConnell asked for a donation to help Gardner win his November race against Democrat John Hickenlooper, so that Republicans will maintain control of the U.S. Senate.

McConnell wrote:

“Cory Gardner made a huge announcement Monday night. Cory will be sticking with the Majority and supporting President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee. Cory will likely be a key vote that gets the nominee across the finish line when she comes up for a vote. But..the fight doesn’t stop once our nominee is on the Court. That’s just the beginning. Chuck Schumer has vowed that ‘nothing is off the table’ if they win the Majority in 2020. Court-packing, eliminating the filibuster, eliminating the Second Amendment, and any other radical idea Chuck dreams up will all be in play next year if we don’t defend our Majority. That’s why I’m asking you to support Cory Gardner today, and help us defend the Senate Majority this fall. There’s too much at stake….. Donate today to save the Republican Senate Majority!”

Gardner made it clear he will support a “qualified” Trump nominee for the Supreme Court.

“When a President exercises constitutional authority to nominate a judge for the Supreme Court vacancy, the Senate must decide how to best fulfill its constitutional duty of advice and consent,” wrote Gardner in a statement Monday. “I have and will continue to support judicial nominees who will protect our Constitution, not legislate from the bench, and uphold the law. Should a qualified nominee who meets this criteria be put forward, I will vote to confirm.”

RELATED: Mitch McConnell Video Urges Republicans to “Step Up” for Cory Gardner

Democrats, who have criticized Gardner for his close ties to McConnell, blasted Gardner for refusing to even meet with Obama’s nominee to the Supreme Court in 2016.

“I think we’re too close to the election. The president who is elected in November should be the one who makes this decision,” Gardner said at the time.

“We are deep in the heart of a political campaign, a divisive election, a divisive president, who has done nothing but overreached Congress time and time again,” Gardner added.

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Cory Gardner’s Hickenlooper Wannabe Campaign Continues

Hot on the heels of Sen. Cory Gardner’s last negative ad, in which Gardner lovingly hand-washes somebody’s Maserati while reciting various falsehoods about former Gov. John Hickenlooper’s record, Gardner has a new TV spot out today lamenting the fact that Hickenlooper is running negative ads about Gardner:

Back in 2010, Hickenlooper ran a particularly well-received ad in that year’s gubernatorial race depicting himself showering fully clothed–highlighting the fact that in that he didn’t campaign on negative attacks against his opponent. Of course, in 2010 Hickenlooper didn’t need to go negative, since the Republican gubernatorial campaign that year collapsed in a heap of plagiarism allegations and the emergence of a laughably unqualified GOP nominee who proceeded to garner 11% of the vote.

In 2020, nobody is going to begrudge Hickenlooper for taking the gloves off against Cory Gardner, certainly not after the ruthless character assassination campaign waged by Republicans against Hick from the moment he got into the U.S. Senate race. But with this latest ad from Gardner, there’s something else becoming quite clear: Gardner is mimicking Hickenlooper’s greatest hits as his own campaign strategy. And it’s…weird:

Here’s the problem: everybody knows Hickenlooper is the beer-drinking friendly former governor who once took a shower fully clothed. When Cory Gardner steps out of that shower, or toasts you with his Coors Light or whatever he’s drinking in the ad above, the viewer doesn’t think of Cory Gardner–they think about John Hickenlooper. Sure there’s a message in the ad attacking Hickenlooper, but the visual is just Gardner pretending to be Hickenlooper. With Gardner struggling to offer an affirmative case for re-election in a state that has abandoned his politics, these ads are practically an admission that Gardner has nothing original to offer. They’re the ads you make on the way to losing.

All that’s left now is for Gardner to jump out of his own plane.

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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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