Cory Gardner Likes Talking Secession, Sometimes

The flag of Cory Gardner’s State of North Colorado.

We took note last week of an interview of Sen. Cory Gardner by CBS4’s Shaun Boyd, in which Gardner cited the failed 2013 secession movement by 11 rural Colorado counties as evidence of a “silent majority” that would rise up to help him beat John Hickenlooper in the November elections. It’s a head-scratching claim to say the least, since we broke down the actual votes in 2013 in favor of secession, and not only did secession go down by a majority of individual votes, but a majority of the counties that participated including the most populous, Weld County, voted no.

And as the Denver Post’s Justin Wingerter reports in today’s edition of The Spot newsletter, this interview wasn’t the only time Gardner has mentioned the secession movement as some kind of ace in the electoral hole:

Gardner, who lives and votes in one of the 11 counties that considered seceding in 2013, has invoked that quixotic attempt at creating a new state on several occasions this year – and blamed Hickenlooper for the fact that it happened.

“Remember what happened in rural Colorado,” Gardner said during a virtual event in late May. “You had a whole bunch of counties that tried to secede under his leadership and what he did.”

On June 30, the night Hickenlooper won the Democratic primary, Gardner told Colorado Politics, “He needs to explain why 20% of the state tried to secede when he was governor.”

In response to all these mentions, the Post tried to get an answer to a germane question: how did Gardner of Yuma County vote on secession?

Gardner’s Yuma County voted to secede but Gardner has never said how he voted. He was a congressman at the time and claimed that it would be inappropriate to comment on state issues. When asked this week whether Gardner voted to secede, his campaign did not respond. [Pols emphasis]

It seems that secession is strictly a red meat for the base affair–and when reporters ask follow-up questions about Gardner’s resurgence of support for one of the greatest jokes of the 2010s in Colorado politics, he can’t be reached for comment. After Gardner’s CBS4 interview, we wondered if secession had become a regular part of his stump speech as opposed to a one-off throwaway line. And sure enough, it’s in his script.

We hope every interview with Gardner “goes deep” on secession now. There’s so much to unpack.


Boebert Accepting Endorsement of Conspiracist Group Gun Owners of America at Pueblo Event

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Republican CD3 candidate Lauren Boebert poses with militia members in front of her restaurant in Rifle.

The far-right Gun Owners of America (GOA) group is endorsing Lauren Boebert for Colorado’s 3rd congressional district at an in-person event in Pueblo this Saturday. GOA is a fringe pro-gun group that, like Dudley Brown’s National Association for Gun Rights, has sent fundraising emails asking for money to defend Kenosha shooter Kyle Rittenhouse.

The group also has a history of promoting extremist conspiracy theories. Following the Aurora theater shooting in 2013, GOA issued a press release offering founder Larry Pratt’s availability to discuss the possibility that the massacre was a false flag attack orchestrated by the federal government. As Mother Jones’ Tim Murphy reported at the time,

“[GOA President] Pratt believes the timing of Holmes’ rampage, which left 12 people dead and 58 wounded, seemed designed to coincide with the upcoming negotiation of the United Nations Small Arms Treaty. A press release sent out to radio bookers on Tuesday advertising Pratt’s availability noted that, ‘In an article posted at The New American…one expert even outlined a theory that Holmes didn’t act alone, but was possibly ‘enlisted’ to carry out his violent act.” Pratt, the publicist stated, was free for interviews on Holmes’ ‘impeccable’ timing.’”

GOA Vice President Erich Pratt (Larry’s son) and Boebert will appear together at Saturday’s event. The announcement praises the upstart candidate while noting her inexperience.

“Lauren Boebert may be new to the world of politics, but she’s not new to defending the Second Amendment,” Pratt said. “I look forward to her standing up to the anti-gun likes of Nancy Pelosi and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in the halls of Congress.”

The announcement also credited Boebert for her primary victory over Scott Tipton, whom GOA had endorsed in previous cycles.

“While she’s new to the field of public policy, she’s no shrinking violet. Lauren shocked the political world when she defeated the sitting incumbent in the primary – something which hasn’t been done in this state for almost 50 years!”

Boebert isn’t the first Colorado Republican to appear with Erich Pratt. GOA’s December 2014 newsletter featured a photo of Pratt and Gardner together following Gardner’s election to the U. S. Senate. GOA has endorsed numerous Colorado Republicans over the years, including Congressman Ken Buck and Cory Gardner in his campaigns for the U.S. House as well as U.S. Senate. In a May 2017 release, GOA featured a Gardner quote celebrating their work together. Gardner called the group “a fierce defender of the second amendment” that “provided invaluable support as we worked to bring a new generation of leadership to Washington, D.C.” GOA’s extreme positions aren’t limited to gun rights. Over the past thirty years the group has supported white supremacists and the anti-government “Christian Reconstructionism” movement. A 2014 Rolling Stone feature noted that GOA “donated thousands to Christian Identity lawyer Kirk Lyons’…white supremacist organization CAUSE (short for the Aryan bastions of Canada, Australia, the United States, South Africa and Europe).”

As noted by the Southern Poverty Law Center, in 1996 GOA founder Larry Pratt was forced to resign as co-chair of Pat Buchanan’s presidential campaign after news broke of his 1992 speech at the “Gathering of Christian Men” in Estes Park, an event that featured Klansmen, Neo-Nazis, anti-Semitic Christian Identity zealots and other extremists. The event is widely considered the birthplace of the current anti-government militia movement.

Boebert is an enthusiastic supporter not only of gun rights, but of so-called “Patriot” or “Three Percenter” militias. She has appeared at events with militia members and has asked local militia members to provide security at campaign events.

A call to the Boebert campaign’s communications director asking if the candidate has any concerns about GOA’s endorsement was not immediately returned. This article will be updated with any response. The event will take place at 3:00 PM in the old K-Mart parking lot on N. Elizabeth Street in Pueblo.


Hickenlooper or Gardner…and by How Much?

Sen. Cory Gardner and John Hickenlooper

We haven’t asked readers this question since early July, when the consensus seemed to be that Democrat John Hickenlooper is headed for a comfortable victory over Republican Cory Gardner in November.

What say you now, Polsters? Who is going to win Colorado’s marquee race? Senator Cory Gardner or former Governor John Hickenlooper?

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…



Get More Smarter on Thursday (September 3)

The Denver Nuggets begin their second-round playoff series tonight against the Los Angeles Clippers. 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:


► President Trump told voters in North Carolina on Wednesday — TWICE — that they should vote by mail AND in person. You, uh, can’t do that.

Meanwhile, Attorney General Bill Barr is totally on board with whatever election security nonsense President Trump dreams up. From The Washington Post:

For example, claiming that expanding mail-in balloting is “changing the rules” is like saying that restaurants moving to outdoor service is “changing the rules.” There’s a reason for the shift: limiting the risk posed by the coronavirus. Admittedly, it’s not ideal, but it’s also something that could have been done all along.

Then there’s Barr’s citing “logic” to dismiss mail balloting as risky. He did so again at another point in his interview with Blitzer:

BLITZER: You’ve said you were worried that a foreign country could send thousands of fake ballots, thousands of fake ballots to people that it might be impossible to detect. What are you basing that on?

BARR: I’m basing — as I’ve said repeatedly, I’m basing that on logic.

BLITZER: Pardon?

BARR: Logic.

You know who else falls back on “logic” as a defense of their beliefs? QAnon adherents.

Chris Cillizza of CNN calls Barr’s “defense” of scaring people about ballots “indefensible.” Barr repeatedly claimed that he wasn’t sure if it was legal to vote twice in the United States, but what would he know? He’s only THE ATTORNEY GENERAL OF THE UNITED STATES.


Colorado Republicans are going all-in on President Trump’s re-election message that everything is on fire and we’re all going to be killed if Joe Biden wins in November.


Hey, Jefferson County Department of Health: WTF?

As Denver7 reports, the Jeffco Health Department has still not commented on Tuesday’s COVID CHAOS superspreader rally.


As The Nation reports, the coronavirus response among major health-related agencies in Washington D.C. is a full-on “clusterfuck.” POLITICO can confirm said “clusterfuck.”


The real killer of police officers in the United States? COVID-19. As The Washington Post explains:

In a speech this week in Pittsburgh, Joe Biden linked the Trump administration’s mismanagement of the coronavirus to its handling of protests and riots with a surprising statistic: “More cops have died from covid this year than have been killed on patrol,” he said.

The Democratic presidential nominee’s claim is true, according to data compiled by the Officer Down Memorial Page and the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, two nonprofits that have tracked law enforcement fatalities for decades.

As of Sept. 2, on-the-job coronavirus infections were responsible for a least 100 officer deaths, more than gun violence, car accidents and all other causes combined, according to the Officer Down group.

NLEOMF reported a nearly identical number of covid-related law enforcement deaths. It also noted that fatalities due to non-covid causes are actually down year-over-year, undermining President Trump’s claims that “law enforcement has become the target of a dangerous assault by the radical left.” [Pols emphasis]


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




“Yosemite Samantha” Leaves Gardner High, Dry at Club 20

Yesterday, Sen. Cory Gardner once again complained about the decision by former Gov. John Hickenlooper to skip the Club 20 annual conference debates, which as we’ve discussed at length in this space have faded from prominence in recent years due to stilted politics and equally antiquated execution in the digital campaign era:

Cory Gardner, Lauren Boebert.

It’s nothing new, of course–ever since Hickenlooper announced he would skip Club 20 following now-Gov. Jared Polis‘ precedent for skipping it, Republicans have done all they could to exact a toll politically. But after Polis’ spurning of Club 20 didn’t affect his blowout win over Walker Stapleton in 2018, this election year Hickenlooper was joined by plenty of other Democrats who decided kissing this particular ring wasn’t worth the trouble.

And then yesterday evening, as the Colorado Springs Gazette’s Joey Bunch reports, a funny thing happened:

On Tuesday evening, the Republican nominee in the House race also pulled out. [Pols emphasis] Rifle restaurant owner Lauren Boebert had defeated incumbent U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton in a GOP primary upset…

Club 20 said it had already adjusted the format to feature Boebert in the absence of the Democrat, when the Republican nominee asked to send a prerecorded video answering submitted questions.

Without a Democratic opponent to debate, this could have been a golden opportunity for Lauren Boebert to demonstrate something in the way of qualifications for the job of serving in Congress. A reason we’ve heard for Boebert perhaps not wanting to attend Club 20, with or without an opponent, is the presence there of old-school Western Slope Republicans who are not happy that five-term incumbent Scott Tipton has been ousted by a fringe candidate who has directly placed this seat in jeopardy. Another is that under even slightly adversarial questioning, it’s our understanding that Boebert folds up like an accordion–which would explain a strong desire for scripted answers to scripted questions.

Either way, we do believe the “question” of Club 20’s relevance, which has consisted entirely for the last few years of Republicans carping that nobody pays attention to Club 20 anymore, has been settled. By a Republican that fellow Republicans can’t say a thing negative about, at least in public, until November 4.

Them’s the breaks, folks.


Colorado Republicans: Welcome to Thunderdome!

Clockwise from left: Your office, Gary Busey (“Under Siege” reference), your favorite restaurant; your car

The Colorado Republican Party is going all-in on President Trump’s new narrative that everything you know and love has been destroyed because of Joe Biden and the Democrats.

“Small businesses are being burned to the ground,” says a Colorado Republican Committee email. “Homes are under siege. Families are in danger.”

Colorado Republicans are absolutely insisting that “this is the reality…in Democrat-controlled cities across America.”

If you are looking around yourself and wondering why you don’t see everything on fire and your home being looted, you are not alone. According to a new poll from Reuters:

By contrast, most Americans do not see crime as a major priority and do not think it is increasing in their communities, the poll showed. [Pols emphasis]

Only about 8% of American adults listed crime as a top priority for the country, compared with 30% who said it was the economy or jobs, and 16% who said it was the healthcare system.

But that’s not all. To the degree that people do believe in the Republicans’ doomsday scenario, they mostly blame…Republicans. New polling from Quinnipiac University shows that 6-in-10 active voters believe that the United States is worse off than it was in 2016. All of those respondents are presumably aware that Joe Biden has not been the President of the United States since 2016.

Actual email from the “Colorado Republican Committee”

Colorado Republicans are nevertheless following Dear Leader Trump down this bizarre hole. Last week, White House adviser Kellyanne Conway openly admitted that scaring voters is basically the plan. Via The New York Times:

Kellyanne Conway, President Trump’s departing counselor, said on Thursday that Mr. Trump stood to benefit politically from the kind of unrest that erupted this week in Kenosha, Wis., after the police shooting of an unarmed Black man, Jacob Blake.

“The more chaos and anarchy and vandalism and violence reigns, the better it is for the very clear choice on who’s best on public safety and law and order,” Ms. Conway said on “Fox & Friends.”

She had been asked on the program to respond to criticism from the Biden campaign and Pete Buttigieg, the former Democratic presidential candidate, that Mr. Trump was responsible for societal divisions that have been magnified by the protests this summer over police brutality and racial injustice. She told the interviewers she had seen a quote from a Wisconsin restaurant owner to the effect that protesters were actually helping to get Mr. Trump re-elected.

The next step for Republicans is to prop up a specific villain…if they can find one. Congressman Ken Buck (R-Greeley), who moonlights as the State Republican Party Chairman in Colorado, wants an investigation to find out “who is funding these violent riots” (cue George Soros accusation in 3…2…) According to the previously mentioned GOP email, Lauren “Q*Bert” Boebert is also calling for an investigation into something. Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul went one step further, threatening to subpoena “Antifa,” which is both sad and hilarious because “Antifa” is not an actual organization with a business address or a phone number.

If all of this sounds new and terrible, you’re only half-right. As Paul Waldman writes for The Washington Post, Trump’s doomsday scenarios are just an extension of the same sort of fear-based politics that Republicans have boosted for decades:

“A lot of people are looking at what’s happening to these Democrat-run cities and they’re disgusted,” Trump said before he traveled to Kenosha, Wis., where he walked in front of rubble to illustrate the destruction.

The scene, he would have you believe, is the same everywhere Democrats are in charge. “Portland has been burning for many years, for decades it’s been burning,” he claimed, which would be news to the city’s residents, who somehow manage to get from their small-batch locally sourced kombucha cafe to their artisanal bike shop without being engulfed in flames.

And it’s not just Kenosha and Portland, Ore. “There is violence and danger in the streets of many Democrat-run cities throughout America,” Trump said in his convention speech…

…But facts are irrelevant here; what matters is creating anger and fear. And the only difference between Trump’s rhetoric and what we’ve heard from Republicans for a long time is that the implied and the explicit have been reversed. Trump talks constantly about the nightmare of “Democrat” places but leaves out the flip side that Republicans usually emphasize: the superiority of small towns and rural areas and the people who live there.

This is also why Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) is once again talking about that idiotic failed attempt at secession in 2013, despite the fact that the math absolutely does not add up in his favor. And yes, it’s completely counterintuitive; if you believe that American cities are burning to the ground, then you definitely don’t live anywhere near an American city. Unfortunately for Gardner, the vast majority of Colorado voters do live near cities.

This fearmongering campaign style might help Trump pick up support in certain parts of the country, but it’s not going to be very effective in Colorado. So why do Colorado Republicans do it?

Simple: They don’t have anything else to say.


Get More Smarter on Wednesday (September 2)

Today is the official anniversary of the formal end of World War II. 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 Colorado Sun reports, Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner still very much wants to get rid of Obamacare…but that’s about the extent of his health care plan. Gardner and other Republicans are finding that ACA opposition is not very popular with voters.

Via The Colorado Sun (9/2/20)


In case you missed it, this happened on Tuesday:

As we noted yesterday, the White House is facing increased pressure to explain why the President really made an unscheduled visit to Walter Reed Hospital last November.


Democrat Joe Biden raised $364.5 million dollars IN AUGUST. Democratic Presidential candidate Joe Biden is expected to announce that his campaign raised more than $300 million IN AUGUST. As The New York Times explains:

The sum would shatter past monthly records as small donors have poured money into Mr. Biden’s coffers, especially since the selection of Senator Kamala Harris as his running mate, and big contributors, from Silicon Valley to Wall Street, have given checks that can be as large as $721,300.

In a sign of the financial momentum behind Democrats, ActBlue, the main site that processes donations to the party, reported the second-biggest fund-raising day in its history on Monday, with more than $35 million donated. A majority of Mr. Biden’s August total came from online grass-roots donors, according to another person familiar with the figures.

The people familiar with Mr. Biden’s fund-raising did not know the exact final figure for the month of August, or how much higher than $300 million it would be.

Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign holds the current record for fundraising in one month at $193 million. Biden will OBLITERATE that number.


Senate Republicans and President Trump’s campaign have announced new ad buys in several states…none of them in Colorado. In other words, it sucks to be Cory Gardner.


 If you know anyone who attended the “Covid Chaos” event at Bandimere Speedway in Jefferson County on Tuesday, you should probably not go anywhere near them for the next 14 days.


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




Senate Republicans Still Spending…In Other States

Sen. Cory Gardner and John Hickenlooper.

We noted in early August that the main Senate Super PAC — Senate Leadership Fund — was spending heavily in several states OTHER than Colorado, which was a bad sign for the re-election hopes of Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma).

On Tuesday, Senate Republicans announced another big television ad blitz. Once again, Colorado is not on the list. From POLITICO PRO [subscription required]:

A cadre of groups run by allies of Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) have added heavily to their TV buys in five battleground Senate races, a spokesperson for the groups confirmed to POLITICO.

Three different organizations run by McConnell allies, which fall under the same umbrella, added $41 million in five races: Arizona, Iowa, Georgia, North Carolina and Maine [Pols emphasis], Jack Pandol, a spokesperson for the groups, confirmed. Outside groups in both parties are invested heavily in all five races, which are critical to the battle for the majority.

There’s no good way to spin this news for Gardner. Senate Leadership Fund has now declined to invest in Colorado for the second time in the last four weeks, and we know from available public polling data that they aren’t holding back because Gardner is winning. The top of the ticket isn’t spending in Colorado, either; President Trump’s campaign on Monday announced new ad buys in Wisconsin, North Carolina, Florida, Georgia and Minnesota.

The only reason not to throw money at Colorado NOW, with just 6 weeks to go until mail ballots go out, is if Senate Republicans don’t think Gardner can win.


Colorado and Arizona are Looking Blue


The re-election campaign for President Trump seems to be having trouble raising more money than it spends these days. As The Associated Press reported, Democratic Presidential candidate Joe Biden is outspending Trump by a 10-to-1 margin on political advertising.

The Trump campaign made it known on Monday that it is preparing to go on TV with ads in a handful of states — which says plenty about how the campaign is feeling about 2020. As NBC News explains:

The Trump campaign is going on the air this week with TV ad buys in five key states: Wisconsin, North Carolina, Florida, Georgia and Minnesota, senior adviser Jason Miller told reporters on Monday, returning to the airwaves in battleground states it pulled out of during the GOP convention.

All but Minnesota are seen as essential to Trump’s path to re-election as he trails Democrat Joe Biden nationally and in most battleground state polls.

You may have noticed that Colorado is not included on that list. This isn’t a huge surprise — Colorado has appeared to be out of reach for Trump for some time now — but it’s still interesting to see that the Trump campaign isn’t even feinting in our direction anymore.

It’s also worth noting that Arizona doesn’t appear on this new ad buy, but Georgia remains in the mix; that’s not good news for Trump, who shouldn’t have to worry about a traditionally-red state like Georgia but should be more competitive in traditionally-red Arizona. It would appear that these 6-week-old numbers from Morning Consult are still fairly accurate:

None of this is welcome news for Trump or Senate Republicans, who desperately need somebody on the right to invest more coin in saving Arizona Sen. Martha McSally and Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner. As we wrote in early August, Senate Republicans aren’t investing heavily in Colorado to help Gardner, who has steadily trailed Democrat John Hickenlooper in the polls for many months. Republicans also seem to be backing away from Arizona, where McSally is behind Democrat Mark Kelly in both the polls and in fundraising.

If the Trump campaign isn’t going to play much in either Arizona or Colorado, then McSally and Gardner are basically on their own now. Trump was already an albatross for both Senators, but now he’s an albatross that isn’t even spending money to excite the base.

This could also be a major factor in Colorado’s most competitive congressional district in 2020: CO-3. Like Gardner, Republican Lauren “Q*Bert” Boebert has tied herself firmly to Trump; unlike Gardner, Boebert doesn’t have many millions of dollars to spend on advertising and really needs a national effort to keep Trump supporters engaged in Colorado.


Who Said It?

We don’t want to spoil the ending, so read this quote and then click to see who said these words in response to a question about when/if Congress will finally approve another coronavirus stimulus package:

Well, you know, I think it needs to have additional assistance to individuals and this additional assistance to businesses and additional assistance to health care. You know, we may not get all of that in one package. I hope that we do. But we can also vote on things that have everything that people like, but maybe just not, you know, all of the things that people like. [Pols emphasis] Let’s move forward. Let’s pass them. Unfortunately, people like Nancy Pelosi, she called millions and millions of Americans, “Enemies of the state.” Enemies of the state. Her fellow Americans, she called enemies of the state. That hardly sounds like somebody who wants to actually make a deal on a relief package.

Who said it? The answer is after the jump…



Get More Smarter on Tuesday (September 1)

Four more months, and we’re done with this wretched year. 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 


► President Trump says that…wait, what?

As The Washington Post explains:

As the nation grapples with volatile protests, President Trump on Monday night claimed in a Fox News interview that “people that are in the dark shadows” are “controlling the streets” and manipulating his Democratic opponent Joe Biden to sow chaos.

When host Laura Ingraham suggested the claim “sounds like conspiracy theory,” Trump doubled down, launching into a tale of a plane that allegedly flew from an unnamed city to Washington, D.C., this weekend loaded with “thugs wearing these dark uniforms, black uniforms, with gear.”

The strange exchange prompted head-scratching from prominent Trump critics and produced few clear answers about what precisely Trump was referring to.


The Fox News host then asked who the president believed was pulling the strings. Trump replied, “People that you’ve never heard of. People that are in the dark shadows.”“What does that mean?” Ingraham asked. “That sounds like conspiracy theory. Dark shadows — what is that?”

“No, they’re people that you haven’t heard of,” Trump continued. “They’re people that are on the streets, people that are controlling the streets.”

Trump then described a plane “from a certain city this weekend, and on the plane it was almost completely loaded with thugs wearing these dark uniforms, black uniforms with gear.” Ingraham asked where the plane was coming from, but the president demurred.

“I’ll tell you sometime,” he said. “It’s under investigation right now.” [Pols emphasis]

Trump, the actual President of the United States of America, appears to be promoting debunked conspiracy theories of airplanes full of protestors — Antifa Airlines! — descending on cities across the country.


Speaking of Trump, the White House is facing increased pressure to explain why the President really made an unscheduled visit to Walter Reed Hospital last November. As Chris Cillizza reports for CNN:

Days before Thanksgiving 2019, President Donald Trump made an unscheduled visit to Walter Reed hospital, a trip the White House later dismissed as nothing more than a “quick exam and labs” as part of his annual physical.

Even then, the explanation was fishy. Presidents don’t make trips that members of the press don’t know about almost ever — unless they are flying into a war zone and their safety is at risk. And the leader of the free world certainly doesn’t just pop in to the hospital to get an early start on his annual physical — especially without the medical staff at the hospital being given a heads up.

And now, thanks to a new book by New York Times reporter Michael Schmidt, we now know that Vice President Mike Pence was put on alert to take over the duties of president if Trump had to be anesthetized during the trip. [Pols emphasis]

Maybe Trump just gets a different kind of physical examination than every other person in America. Yeah, maybe.


► Senator Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) is out with a new re-election ad in which he takes credit for a Paycheck Protection Program that was approved by a 96-0 vote in the U.S. Senate. Just think: If not for Gardner, the vote might have been 95-1!


Denver police officials are making it clear that they do NOT want self-appointed militia members showing up to “help” them deal with protests.


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




Cory Gardner Milks 96-0 CARES Act Vote Dry

A new TV spot began running today across Colorado from Sen. Cory Gardner’s re-election campaign, and it’s all about one thing:

Watching this ad, you might get the idea that Cory Gardner played some kind of particular role in the passage of “forgivable loans for small businesses,” which was a component of the CARES Act coronavirus economic relief package passed in March. That’s certainly what is intended.

“But wait,” you’d then reasonably ask if you’re the type who follows political news in detail, “didn’t the CARES Act pass the U.S. Senate unanimously?”

And the answer is yes–the CARES Act passed the Senate by a 96-0 margin on March 25th.

If you’re waiting for the payoff here, the additional thing that Cory Gardner did beyond joining a 96-0 vote to approve the CARES Act, you’re not going to find it. Had Gardner voted the other way, the loans that kept Rosie’s Diner afloat would have still passed by a 95-1 margin. Gardner’s campaign and the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) are promoting this ad with the tagline, “no one works harder for Colorado than Cory Gardner,” but in this case literally every other Senator worked as hard as Gardner did.

Although there’s nothing wrong with Gardner’s vote with the entire Senate to approve the CARES Act, building an entire ad campaign around this 96-0 vote only demonstrates once again how little Gardner has to offer voters as he asks them for another six years in office.

Cory Gardner. He’s the incumbent.

That’s it. That’s the whole pitch, with Trump’s pic if you’re outside Colorado.


Gardner Retweets Endorsement Of Racist Ex-Rep. Jim Welker

If you know the name Jim Welker and his history in Colorado Republican politics, our compliments–you’re among a select group of people. And it’s not an accident that you haven’t heard of him if you haven’t, since former Rep. Jim Welker of Loveland back in 2006 helped wreck the Republican brand in this state ahead of an electoral shellacking that helped set the tone of Democratic dominance in state politics for the next going-on fifteen years. Generally speaking, local Republicans don’t like to talk about him. The Denver Post reported on Welker’s decision not to run again in 2006, a decision “encouraged” by the GOP leadership of the era:

Welker has had a colorful run of it, and he said in an interview that powerful forces in the party, including Gov. Bill Owens, had asked him to step aside…

The representative, in office only three years, recently apologized on the House floor for an e-mail he forwarded to constituents and legislators that critics called racist. The e-mail contained negative characterizations of black victims of Hurricane Katrina made by a conservative black minister.

Welker created controversy last year by saying that if state law were changed to allow homosexuals to marry, it could lead to people marrying their pets.

In 2006, Welker’s racist and homophobic embarrassments were too much for Republicans, who feared–correctly as it turned out–that Welker’s out of the mainstream views would do further harm to the party’s already backward image well outside Welker’s district. GOP Gov. Bill Owens wielded enough influence to force his party to disown one of its own–a skill Colorado Republicans had lost by just a few years later, when Sen. Vicki Marble, Rep. Gordon “Dr. Chaps” Klingenschmitt, and a host of similarly freakish lawmakers made offenses like Rep. Welker’s routine occurrences.

The problem in this case is that although you might not remember Jim Welker, Sen. Cory Gardner most certainly does–having served with Welker after Gardner’s appointment to the Colorado House in 2005. Gardner was there when Jim Welker’s career was short-circuited in May of 2006. Not surprisingly, we couldn’t readily find any quotes from Gardner about Welker, but there’s no way Gardner can claim ignorance of him.

Either Gardner’s staff needs a remedial history class in Colorado politics, or Cory Gardner really is fine with rehabilitating a racist the Colorado GOP put out to pasture almost fifteen years ago. Maybe not as big a lift as Gardner walking back “I cannot and will not support someone who brags about degrading and assaulting women,” but it’s the same procedure.


Holy Shit

Cory Gardner and Dudley Brown, whose gun rights groups have long supported Gardner’s campaigns

We don’t have to tell you that 2020 has been a very strange year filled with very odd news stories. It’s hard to get surprised by anything anymore, but sometimes it still happens. Like today, for example.

As Justin Wingerter reports for The Denver Post, the Loveland-based National Foundation for Gun Rights (which is associated with the National Association for Gun Rights, or NAGR) announced on Friday that it is raising money for the legal defense of 17-year-old Kyle Rittenhouse, who has been charged with murder after killing two people in Kenosha, Wisconsin during this week’s protests over the shooting of Jacob Blake:

Rittenhouse, an admirer of law enforcement and President Donald Trump, is seen as a dangerous vigilante by many but has the support of some prominent figures on the political right who believe he was acting in self-defense.

Dudley Brown, executive director of the National Foundation for Gun Rights, says Rittenhouse was peacefully defending himself and businesses when he was attacked by “Antifa thugs.”

Kyle Rittenhouse in Kenosha, WI on Tuesday

“Kyle was doing his best to protect business owners from losing their entire livelihoods when criminal actors instigated violence against him. Unfortunately for them, Kyle was armed with an AR-15 and their rocks, skateboards and handguns stood no chance against his well-placed shots,” Brown said Friday. [Pols emphasis]

Brown was formerly the executive director of Rocky Mountain Gun Owners. RMGO and the National Association for Gun Rights were founded on the premise that the National Rifle Association is too liberal and compromising.

“It’s a sad day in America when anti-gun prosecutors want to throw a young man in jail for defending himself against violent attackers,” Brown said. “When we say the Second Amendment is for lawful self-defense, we mean it. Maybe next time rioting thugs will think twice about squaring off against a patriot carrying an AR-15.” [Pols emphasis]

Those vile comments are from the very same Dudley Brown who readers will recognize as the former Executive Director of Rocky Mountain Gun Owners (RMGO) in Colorado. Brown recently stepped down as the head of RMGO after a round of stinging defeats in the June Republican Primary in Colorado, but he remains the frontman for NAGR, which has designs on becoming the new National Rifle Association (NRA). Brown has deep connections to many Colorado Republicans, including House Minority Leader Pat Neville and Sen. Cory Gardner (NAGR and RMGO donated at least $6,000 to Gardner’s 2014 Senate campaign).

Screenshot from Cory Gardner’s official Congressional website in 2014

Brown’s praise of Rittenhouse ignores some critical context here — namely that the alleged shooter traveled from his home in Illinois to Kenosha for the express purpose of getting into an altercation with Black Lives Matter protestors. Rittenhouse has been arrested and charged with killing two people and shooting a third; a judge today delayed an extradition hearing to allow him more time to secure legal counsel (though right-wing legal activists are scrambling to his defense).

As CNN reports, details of the criminal complaint against Rittenhouse portray a young man who is going to have difficulty convincing a jury that this was all in self-defense:

About 11:45 p.m. Tuesday — hours after the 8 p.m. curfew — Rittenhouse was walking down the streets near the car dealership holding what investigators later determined to be “a Smith & Wesson AR-15 style .223 rifle,” the criminal complaint says.

Social media accounts believed to belong to him portray a young White man with an affinity for guns who supports “Blue Lives Matter” and President Donald Trump. A video posted on a Snapchat account believed to belong to him placed him at the scene of protests Tuesday night. The clips show a few seconds of the point of view of someone carrying a long rifle and police announcements can be heard over loudspeakers.

At those demonstrations, the complaint states, Rittenhouse clashed with people gathered near the car dealership for reasons not specified. Rosenbaum was unarmed and threw an object that appeared to be a plastic bag at him and missed, according to the complaint.

Rosenbaum and the suspect moved across the parking lot and appeared to be in close proximity when loud bangs suddenly rang out and Rosenbaum fell to the ground, according to the complaint.

As Rosenbaum lay on the ground, the suspect made a call on his cellphone and said, “I just killed somebody” as he ran away, the complaint alleges. His friend received a call from him at 11:46 p.m. saying that he shot someone, an investigator says in the complaint. [Pols emphasis]

This is a tragic story for so many reasons. The fact that Brown and NAGR would exploit the situation for fundraising purposes is positively evil.


Circling The Drain: Gardner Invokes Secession Farce Against Hick

Sen. Cory Gardner (R).

As the Republican National Convention got going this week, as readers know, Sen. Cory Gardner wasn’t in attendance–but in a remote interview with CBS4’s Shaun Boyd on Monday from his home in Yuma, Gardner still had plenty to say:

“I’ve never spoken at a convention before and I don’t think anybody would want to listen to a boring speech by me,” he answered. “I love to do this, to be in Colorado to go across the state. Today alone I was in four different counties talking to people across Colorado. I’ll continue to do that.”

[Boyd] asked for his thoughts about the couple from St. Louis who stood outside their home with guns as protesters marched by. They called those protesters Marxist liberals and were part of a theme that the Democrats would ruin suburban America.

“What do you say to those who feel like President Trump is pitting white suburbs against Black Lives Matter for votes?” Boyd inquired.

“I don’t think it’s right to pit anyone against anyone,” Gardner said…

For the most part, Gardner was careful to sidestep the opportunities he had to say something noteworthy in either direction, despite his ability to fill long stretches with empty platitudes. But when it came to that “silent majority” President Donald Trump says will deliver for Republicans on Election Day, Gardner called us back to one of the wackiest moments in the last decade of Colorado politics:

“I think a lot of the silent majority that people may talk about is off the I-25 corridor,” he said. “It’s the Eastern Plains, it’s the Western Slope. It’s 20 percent of the counties in Colorado who tried to secede [Pols emphasis] under John Hickenlooper because he called rural Coloradans ‘backwards’ and they just needed to get rid of some of their beliefs so they would fit in with the people of Colorado. I think they are people who feel like they’ve been forgotten.”

So, for those of you who weren’t around in 2013, yes–technically there was what we guess you’d call…an attempt by 11 counties in Colorado to begin the process of seceding and forming their own state of “North Colorado.” But while it may be true that 11 Colorado counties do arithmetically total up to to 17% of the 64 total counties that make up the state–Gardner was rounding up, we guess–Gardner forgot to mention that those 11 counties make up a whopping 7% of the total population of Colorado.

When you’re through being underwhelmed by the tiny sliver of the state who even voted on secession, consider the results. Six out of the eleven counties voted no, including Weld County, the most populous and would-be host of the “capital city” of North Colorado, Greeley. Across all 11 counties, 55% of the total of just over 91,000 voters who participated in the Great North Colorado Secession Movement of 2013 voted no. Net support for secession in 2013: 40,757.

Folks, that’s not even a “silent majority” of Greeley.

This isn’t the only way we can show that the half-baked North Colorado secession movement was in no way representative of anything remotely close to a majority, silent or otherwise, of Colorado voters. The secession movement was driven by a range of issues from backlash against renewable energy mandates to gun control, and on every such issue it was the secessionists who were out of the mainstream. For a candidate trying to run to the center, invoking the crackpot secession movement of 2013 as anything other than a punchline is probably the dumbest move Gardner could make.

If this is how Cory Gardner really feels, he should run for Senator of North Colorado, after leading the campaign to secede! Unfortunately, we’re pretty sure he’d lose the primary.

P.S. Gardner never did say how he voted on the secession question.


Swallowing Camels, Straining Gnats: Jesus Is In The Tank

Jeff Hunt of the Centennial Institute.

Last night, CBS4 political reporter Shaun Boyd interviewed one of the leading figures in the Republican/Evangelical Christian alliance that has dominated Colorado Republican politics for decades with even more tenacity than the all-powerful gun lobby–Jeff Hunt, director of the Centennial Institute, the political machination arm of the extremely well-funded Colorado Christian University. If you didn’t know, CCU is also a recipient of taxpayer dollars under Colorado’s controversial higher ed funding system known as the College Opportunity Fund.

The subject? How the faithful will vote in 2020, and as you can imagine, Jeff Hunt was wearing his well-worn MAGA hat! The story’s headline, Colorado Conservative Leader Expects MORE Evangelicals To Vote For Trump And Pence In 2020, says it all:

Jeff Hunt is a leader in the social conservative movement in Colorado, the so-called “values voters” you might expect to reject a materialistic, three-times divorced president who is prone to profanity.

Hunt said many are willing to overlook the president’s “moral failings” to advance policies that protect the sanctity of life…

Eighty percent of Evangelicals voted for Trump in 2016. Recent polls show his approval rating with them has slipped some, but remains high. [Pols emphasis]

Hunt is hoping a ballot measure barring late term abortions in Colorado will help turn out Trump voters here. It could also help Republican Sen. Cory Gardner, who has very strong support among Christian conservatives.

One of the principal struggles for politically conservative Christians since 2016 has been supporting a President who, although he has undeniably advanced political causes they hold dear, has proven himself at tortuous length to be a completely amoral person whose religious convictions are an insulting grade of token at best. None of which troubles Jeff Hunt, who happily explains to Shaun Boyd that he’ll overlook all that stuff as long as Trump keeps delivering tax cuts and right-wing judges.

Boyd has emerged as a go-to for Republicans in Colorado looking for favorable spin and damage control, lately with respect to Sen. Cory Gardner’s flagging re-election campaign in much the same way as she ran at times obvious cover for Rep. Mike Coffman on his way out the door in 2018. In this case, however, Boyd is pretty blunt about the President’s moral failings–and Hunt is equally blunt about how none of that matters to him. That bluntness is quite informative, especially when Hunt turns to this year’s abortion ban measure as a turnout driver for Republican candidates first and desired policy second. Based on how previous anti-abortion measures have fared at the polls in Colorado, Hunt’s judgment on this point is questionable. But Hunt has no qualms about admitting to the real game, which is to turn out religious right voters.

The moral of the story…well actually, there isn’t one. Morals have, at best, a casual relationship.


Get More Smarter on Thursday (August 27)

Happy Banana Lovers Day. Please keep that celebration to yourself, whatever it is. 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 


► President Trump will accept the Republican nomination for President tonight in an address from (gag) the South Lawn of the White House. As POLITICO reports, Trump plans to blame Democratic Presidential candidate Joe Biden for pretty much anything that went wrong in the last 50 years:

“We have spent the last four years reversing the damage Joe Biden inflicted over the last 47 years. At the Democrat convention, you barely heard a word about their agenda. But that’s not because they don’t have one. It’s because their agenda is the most extreme set of proposals ever put forward by a major party nominee.”

While Republicans have spent this week going after Biden, the president’s aides contend that the media has filtered the convention and hasn’t adequately highlighted criticisms of Biden’s policies. Over the course of this week, additional policy attacks have been added to Trump’s speech.

This is the part where we remind you that the Republican Party quite literally DOES NOT HAVE A PLATFORM FOR 2020.

Vice President Mike Pence spoke on Wednesday evening and assured convention-watchers that everything is totally cool with the coronavirus.


As The New York Times reports, the director of the CDC is (sorta) backing off of controversial new coronavirus testing guidelines issued this week:

The director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has scaled back the agency’s recommendation advising some people not to get tested after exposure to the novel coronavirus, now saying “testing may be considered for all close contacts of confirmed or probable Covid-19 patients.”

The statement by Dr. Robert R. Redfield was issued to some news outlets late Wednesday, and more broadly Thursday morning, after a storm of criticism over the new C.D.C. guidelines — involving potentially asymptomatic people — which were the product of the White House Coronavirus task force and not the C.D.C.’s own scientists. Dr. Redfield made the statement in an effort to clarify the new policy, an official said. However, the guidelines issued earlier this week remained on the C.D.C.’s website as of Thursday morning, and it appears unlikely that the agency will change them…

…The clarification is unusual. Public health experts say clear, consistent communications are essential to fighting an infectious disease outbreak, and Dr. Redfield’s comments may further confuse things.


Dear Leader Trump is fleecing American taxpayers, as The Washington Post reports:

Via The Washington Post (8/27/20)


Trump has now visited his own properties 270 times as president, according to a Washington Post tally — with another visit planned for Thursday, when he is scheduled to meet GOP donors at his Washington hotel.

Through these trips, Trump has brought the Trump Organization a stream of private revenue from federal agencies and GOP campaign groups. Federal spending records show that taxpayers have paid Trump’s businesses more than $900,000 since he took office. At least $570,000 came as a result of the president’s travel, according to a Post analysis.

Now, new federal spending documents obtained by The Post via a public-records lawsuit give more detail about how the Trump Organization charged the Secret Service — a kind of captive customer, required to follow Trump everywhere. In addition to the rentals at Mar-a-Lago, the documents show that the Trump Organization charged daily “resort fees” to Secret Service agents guarding Vice President Pence in Las Vegas and in another instance asked agents to pay a $1,300 “furniture removal charge” during a presidential visit to a Trump resort in Scotland.


Hurricane Laura came ashore in Louisiana on Wednesday as one of the strongest storms to hit the United States in recorded history. Fortunately, the storm is slowing significantly as it moves northward.


 It’s long past time to do something about army-playing militia members bringing assault rifles to protests in hopes of picking a fight.


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




On His Official Facebook Page, Cory Gardner Always Wears a Mask; Elsewhere, Not So Often

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

It appears that some Colorado Republicans are presenting themselves as mask wearers on public communications platforms, but being less diligent in the real world.

Take, for example, U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO), who’s trying to appeal to moderate mask-lovers–and, and at the same time, fire up his mask-hating conservative base to help him defeat Democrat John Hickenlooper.

In response, he’s apparently decided to consistently don a mask in photos for public Facebook consumption but often go maskless on the campaign trail.

All photos on his official Facebook page since July 17, when Colorado’s statewide order to wear masks went into effect, show him wearing a mask, in indoor or outdoor settings, while photos snapped of the senator during the same period on the campaign trail tell a tale of inconsistent mask-wearing.

Gardner did not return a call seeking to know why.



Sen. Michael Bennet: William Perry Pendley’s Gotta Go

Acting BLM Director William Perry Pendley.

Chase Woodruff reports for Colorado Newsline, who we hope you’ve included in your daily news browsing:

Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet and all 47 of his Democratic colleagues in the U.S. Senate are urging the removal of William Perry Pendley from his leadership post at the Bureau of Land Management, following the Trump administration’s decision to withdraw the conservative firebrand’s formal nomination to lead the public-lands agency.

A former head of the Lakewood-based Mountain States Legal Foundation, Pendley has led the BLM since being tapped by Interior Secretary David Bernhardt, a Colorado native and former oil lobbyist, to a senior role at the agency in July 2019. Pendley remains in charge despite the withdrawal of his nomination; while he has not been officially designated as the BLM’s acting director, he has been assigned leadership powers in his role as its deputy director of policy and programs — a tactic that has drawn criticism from congressional Democrats and lawsuits from environmental groups.

In an Aug. 20 letter to Bernhardt, Bennet and his fellow Senate Democrats called on the Interior Secretary to remove Pendley, who has come under fire for a range of controversial views, including his past support for the privatization of public lands, climate change denial and comments comparing undocumented immigrants to cancer.

The withdrawal of acting Bureau of Land Management director William Perry Pendley’s nomination to be confirmed formally by the U.S. Senate, in any rational universe, should have meant the immediate end of Pendley’s acting directorship. That Pendley continues to serve after his nomination was pulled is not a victory for Senate oversight–the Senate’s oversight is being thwarted every day he continues to serve.

Even Sen. Cory Gardner claimed he would have “tough questions” for Pendley in the confirmation hearings about Pendley’s career-long support for liquidating public lands–just the tip of the iceberg of Pendley’s unpalatable record on a wide range of issues. Shouldn’t Gardner be just as angry as Sen. Michael Bennet, now that he doesn’t get to ask those questions but Pendley continues to direct policy at the BLM?

Per usual, Cory Gardner’s inaction speaks louder than his words.


Cory Gardner Has Nothing Left to Say

Senator Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) is up with a new re-election ad today that probably won’t do much to alter his seemingly-inevitable path to defeat at the hands of former Gov. John Hickenloooper.

Gardner’s latest TV spot, which you can view below, continues on his 2020 theme of commercials that are, frankly, pretty dumb. In this ad, Gardner reminds voters (for some inexplicable reason) that Hickenlooper is a former brew pub owner. The implication is that Hickenlooper is the kind of candidate that you could “have a beer with,” which is not usually something that you want to say about your opponent. But Gardner also makes sure to tell voters that he, too, enjoys beer. Neat!

Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh would be proud.


We’re not exaggerating — this is really how Gardner’s new ad begins.

“Let’s get down to some real differences between me, and John Hickenlooper,” says Gardner. “First, Hickenlooper owns a brewery. And me? I just like beer.”

Uh, okay.

Cory Gardner with his true beverage of choice.

At least Gardner doesn’t go so far as to point out how Hickenlooper’s brew-pub developments have been a big success in cites like Colorado Springs (Gardner’s ad was shot at Bourbon Brothers Tavern in Colorado Springs).

After Gardner reaches for his glass of beer, the ad then cuts to a few shots of Hickenlooper previously claiming that he wouldn’t really like to be a U.S. Senator. Gardner’s campaign is convinced that this is a winning message, nevermind that IT DIDN’T WORK when they tried it back in June. But that was, like, two whole months ago, amiright?

This vapid advertisement might also be an effort to get ahead of negative ads that are surely coming to a television near you at some point: Highlighting Gardner’s attendance at a $1,000-per-bottle Krug champagne soiree in Palm Beach, Florida back in February.

But, but, Cory likes (light) beer!

Whatever the reasons behind this ad, history suggests that Gardner is now firmly on the road to defeat in November. We’re reminded of this (RIP) Rocky Mountain News column from Mike Littwin during the final days of the 2003 Denver Mayoral race:

You can see Don Mares’ problem.

You can see it, in fact, all weekend if you turn on your TV and watch Mares’ belated entry into the world of political humor.

In Mares’ final campaign ad, he’s the one sliding the mug of badly drawn beer across the bar. “I don’t know much about beer,” he is saying, as the mug crashes, off camera, to the floor…

…And yet, in the end, what the ad mainly accomplishes is to reinforce the Hickenlooper phenomenon.

It’s a pretty solid rule of thumb that if you are talking about one of your opponent’s strengths — in this case, Hickenlooper’s long-spun tale as a brewmaster — then you are most definitely not winning.

This is the sort of ad that you make when you are teetering on the edges of a double-digit loss and you simply have nothing left to say to argue your case for re-election.

This is quintessentially Cory Gardner.



Hickenlooper: 51%, Gardner: 42%

As Jon Murray reports for The Denver Post:

These are pretty consistent numbers for Hickenlooper that track with what we’ve been hearing on the race. A previous poll announced just after the Primary Election on July 1 showed Hickenlooper with a 51-40 margin over Gardner. The National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) and Gardner’s campaign have been on a heavy anti-Hickenlooper ad blitz ever since, and it appears they have barely been able to dent Hickenlooper’s previous lead.

If the PPP/GiffordsCourage poll cited above is accurate, that 7% undecided number should be freaking out Team Gardner; it essentially means that Gardner would need to run the table with undecided voters in order to even get close to Hickenlooper by November 3. The NRSC no doubt sees similar internal numbers, which would logically mean that Gardner will continue to be left off the list of endangered Senate Republicans getting big help from national Republican groups.


The Western Slope Isn’t Irrelevant–Club 20 Is

Democrat Diane Mitsch Bush (left) and Republican Rep. Scott Tipton debate issues at the 2018 Club 20 forum underneath a gigantic Chevron banner.

As the Grand Junction Sentinel’s Charles Ashby reports on the continuing decline of Club 20–a Western Slope county-based boosterism group whose annual conference was once a regular stop for candidates in election years, but lost relevance as the group’s internal politics skewed right:

The Democrat in the race for the 3rd Congressional District, Diane Mitsch Bush, is the latest to announce that she’s not planning to attend the Sept. 19 candidate debates during the Western Slope advocacy group’s annual fall conference…

Mitsch Bush is the second biggest named candidate to decline attending after former Gov. John Hickenlooper turned down Club 20’s invitation last month, mirroring what now Gov. Jared Polis did in his 2018 gubernatorial bid.

The two aren’t alone. Seth Cagin, the Democratic challenger to Rep. Marc Catlin, R-Montrose, for House District 58, also said he won’t attend, saying there’s nothing to benefit…

Back in 2018, now-Gov. Jared Polis’ decision to skip the Club 20 conference was greeted with ominous handwringing from the local pundit class. But despite the warnings that this “affront to the Western Slope” would hurt Polis in the general election, the results in 2018 only helped demonstrate that Club 20’s influence as an organization is on the wane.

In 2020, it’s just a reality to accept:

“The group has been in a serious decline for some time because of their old politics,” [Pols emphasis] [Mesa County Democratic Party vice-chair Scott] Beilfuss said. “While it’s easy for Front Range candidates to swing by and kiss the ring, there is rarely anything of consequence that comes out of their meetings.”

The one thing we will say in Club 20’s favor this year is that for the first time ever, the political debates that do take place at their annual conference will actually be livestreamed so what happens inside the room might possibly be learned about by those, you know, outside it. That’s a positive development, but with so many other ways candidates have to directly reach voters in every part of the state, there’s just no reason to treat this organization as some kind of regional gatekeeper. There hasn’t been in years.

If candidates want to stump at Club 20, that’s great. If they don’t, that’s fine too.

Either way, it’s just another club.


Get More Smarter on Tuesday (August 25)

Happy Liberation Day to all of our francophile friends. 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 


The Republican National Convention kicked off on Monday with a lot of anger and bluster. The big story of the RNC is more about what’s missing — like previous Republican elected officials (such as former President George W. Bush) and a party platform. That’s right! Republicans literally don’t have a party platform in 2020. Nothing. Nada.

As Greg Sargent writes for The Washington Post, the public portion of the RNC got off to quite the “culty” start:

It has now become widely accepted that President Trump has essentially hollowed out the Republican Party and turned it into little more than a personality cult. But no level of appreciation of this state of affairs could possibly have prepared us for what we’re witnessing at the GOP convention.

What was truly striking about the convention’s first night, in addition to the widely expected parade of white grievance we’re seeing, is the sheer unbridled messianism that’s been on display.

In this telling, Trump’s performance as president hasn’t just been infallible on every front, though of course it has been that. His personal qualities, too, have been a divine gift to the nation, one that should keep us bowed in deep reverence and thankfulness at all times.

Check out this example provided by Sargent of an “elderly nursing supervisor” speaking directly to Dear Leader Trump:

I am so in awe of your leadership. Honestly, I know many people have said often interesting things, but it takes a true leader to be able to ignore all that stuff and do what is right, and not be offended by all the words being said.

Uh…yeah. As CNN’s Chris Cillizza concludes:

Monday night’s festivities were a remarkable demonstration of how the Republican Party at this moment is less a collection of like-minded people gathered around a set of common principles and much more a cult of personality built around the man one GOP delegate called “Donald J. President.” Virtually every speaker — Sen. Tim Scott was a notable exception — dedicated at least some chunk of their speech to fawning praise of the President, often in terms that would make the average person blush.

Colorado Congressman/State Party Chairman Ken Buck stuck to the script from the beginning, praising the Trump administration because “they’ve protected us from a worldwide pandemic.” Just for reference, there have been nearly 6 million cases of COVID-19 in the United States and nearly 180,000 deaths. So, yeah, bang up job!


New coronavirus cases are down in Colorado for the fourth straight week, but the virus continues to rage around the country. Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly is concerned about “an alarming trend” in cases in Kansas; at least one person has now tested positive for COVID-19 in every county in the state.


We’ve discussed in this space the disgusting political tactics used by Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma), who is pretending to run a bill protecting pre-existing medical conditions even though his entire career has been about eliminating things like pre-existing medical conditions. 9News dismantled all of this in a must-watch “Truth Test” on Friday.

The Colorado Times Recorder has more on the yacht-sized loopholes in Gardner’s bill.


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




The Story of the RNC: Everybody Who ISN’T There

UPDATE: On the subject of things that don’t exist at the RNC 2020, you can now include “a party platform.” The Republican Party stands for Trump…and that’s about it.

Via the Republican National Committee

Tim Alberta of POLITICO has more on how the Republican Party is no longer about anything:

I decided to call Frank Luntz. Perhaps no person alive has spent more time polling Republican voters and counseling Republican politicians than Luntz, the 58-year-old focus group guru. His research on policy and messaging has informed a generation of GOP lawmakers. His ability to translate between D.C. and the provinces—connecting the concerns of everyday people to their representatives in power—has been unsurpassed. If anyone had an answer, it would be Luntz.

“You know, I don’t have a history of dodging questions. But I don’t know how to answer that. There is no consistent philosophy,” Luntz responded. “You can’t say it’s about making America great again at a time of Covid and economic distress and social unrest. It’s just not credible.”

Luntz thought for a moment. “I think it’s about promoting—” he stopped suddenly. “But I can’t, I don’t—” he took a pause. “That’s the best I can do.”

When I pressed, Luntz sounded as exasperated as the student whose question I was relaying. “Look, I’m the one guy who’s going to give you a straight answer. I don’t give a shit—I had a stroke in January, so there’s nothing anyone can do to me to make my life suck,” he said. “I’ve tried to give you an answer and I can’t do it. You can ask it any different way. But I don’t know the answer. For the first time in my life, I don’t know the answer.” [Pols emphasis]


The Republican National Convention officially got underway today with a rousing display of fist-shaking anger. This message from a Louisiana delegate should give you a good idea of the general tone for the week:

In case the video doesn’t work for you, the gentleman from Louisiana says, “Joe Biden is hiding in the dark, waiting to take the lives of our unborn babies.”

And, we’re off!

Colorado was represented early by Congressman Ken Buck (R-Greeley), who moonlights as the State Republican Party Chairman (or vice-versa). Buck had some very nice things to say about an imaginary White House:


Buck’s revisionist history might be the only words you hear from notable Colorado Republicans. The RNC lineup of speakers does include some odd choices, such as the St. Louis, MO couple — Mark and Patricia McCloskey — who got in trouble in June for waving guns at Black Lives Matter protestors, but not a lot of other recognizable names from the GOP’s recent past.

Mark and Patricia McCloskey

As Amber Phillips writes for The Washington Post, perhaps the most notable part of the RNC schedule is about who is NOT participating:

Not speaking for the second time at a convention nominating Trump is the only living past Republican president, George W. Bush — a break from tradition. (All three past Democratic presidents offered remarks at that party’s convention last week.)

We also won’t see a ton of Republican senators and House lawmakers who are running for reelection in potentially competitive races. Republican senators running for reelection from swing states for both the White House and the Senate — such as Colorado, Arizona, North Carolina, Georgia and Maine — won’t be making an appearance to speak on behalf of Trump.

That means Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) will not be making an official appearance. Gardner is tight with Trump, but that’s not really a winning message these days. As Phillips continues:

…many of these lawmakers are facing a difficult political reality in which Trump’s popularity is sinking in their states, largely because of concerns about how the president and his administration have failed to get the novel coronavirus pandemic under control. Voters also give the president poor marks on his handling of racial relations, which is unhelpful to senators representing increasingly diverse suburbs, especially in Southern states.

The conclusion is not to speak prominently at the president’s convention, which would almost certainly make it to their Democratic challengers’ TV ads. The one exception to this is Sen. Joni Ernst (R) in Iowa, who is in Republican leadership and facing a tough reelection but has apparently calculated that speaking will help her.

Normally these senators could use campaigning as an excuse for not being able to make it to the convention. But since it’s a convention where video feeds will be the norm, that excuse doesn’t work.

The rest of the lineup of speakers for the 2020 RNC is heavy on people named “Trump” and light on pretty much everyone else. Donald Trump, Jr. and his girlfriend, Kimberly Guilfoyle, headline the speaking lineup for Monday; First Lady Melania Trump will speak on Tuesday, as will Trump offspring Eric Trump and Tiffany Trump; on Wednesday we’ll hear from Lara Trump, Eric Trump’s wife; and on Thursday First Daughter Ivanka Trump will introduce The Big Orange Guy himself.

Thursday won’t be the first appearance for President Trump, however; he’s literally going to speak every day of the convention, which is fairly unusual for a Presidential candidate in general. Of course, it’s also unusual — and possibly illegal — for a President to accept his party’s nomination from the grounds of the White House.

We’ll keep you updated if any Colorado politicos make noise at the RNC this week, but it appears that the plan for most is to stay as far away from Trump as possible.


Truth Test Plus: 9NEWS Blows Up More Than Gardner’s Record

UPDATE: Let the word go forth: “That is actually horse excrement.”

9NEWS’ Kyle Clark is referring to Cory Gardner’s pre-existing conditions bill (below), but t seems to us this could find its way into an awful lot of content.


Sen. Cory Gardner (R).

Friday evening, 9NEWS ran a “Truth Test” fact check of a recent ad from Chuck Schumer-connected PAC Majority Forward targeting Sen. Cory Gardner’s record on health care, specifically Gardner’s numerous votes in the U.S. House and Senate to terminate the requirement in the Affordable Care Act that insurance companies cover patients with pre-existing conditions–a provision which despite the decade-long war by the GOP against “Obamacare” has remained so popular that not even Donald Trump himself dared to threaten it as Republicans tried and failed to repeal the ACA in 2017.

With respect to Gardner’s many votes to repeal the ACA with no provision to protect patients with pre-existing conditions, there’s really nothing more than this to say:

BOTTOM LINE: Yes, Gardner has a voting history to weaken the Affordable Care Act, including coverage for those with preexisting conditions. [Pols emphasis] However, voters should have known that when they elected him in 2014 in the first place.

This year, we do expect Gardner’s record on health care to factor more strongly in voters’ thinking than in the GOP wave midterm of 2014–but despite what Gardner says now, it’s true that nobody can deny he has repeatedly voted to do away with protection for Americans with pre-existing medical conditions. It was true in 2014, too.

Although this fact-check substantially validates the basic contention in the ad, which is that Cory Gardner has repeatedly voted against protections for patients with pre-existing conditions,  the more important takeaway from this story is Zelinger’s look at legislation recently introduced with tremendous hype by Sen. Gardner in order to rebut accusations based on his record–S. 4506, “To ensure coverage of pre-existing conditions under private health insurance, and for other purposes.”

The bill text is eight lines long, when you open it in pdf form

It does require insurance companies to cover preexisting conditions, it just doesn’t require an insurance company to take you on in the first place. [Pols emphasis]

“In order to truly protect people who are sick with preexisting conditions, you have to be willing to strictly regulate insurance companies and provide the kind of funding that would keep the insurance market stable. And this bill from Sen. Gardner falls well short of providing comprehensive protections for people with preexisting conditions,” said Larry Levitt, vice president of Kaiser Family Foundation.

Because this legislation is in its most charitable reading redundant to the ACA’s much stronger and more explicit protections for patients with pre-existing conditions, all Gardner has really done with this attempt at a diversion is highlight his many failed attempts to enable exactly what this bill is supposed to prevent. But because under a more thorough examination the absurdly short bill Gardner took days to release the text of turns out to contain a glaring loophole that insurance companies could exploit to deny patients with pre-existing conditions coverage to begin with, it’s even worse for Gardner. Either he knows his bill is a wolf in sheep’s clothing, or he’s that clueless. Either way, it’s a fig leaf over a record no one can honestly dispute.

The truth of Gardner’s worthless bill, a sidebar in this fact check, is something every voter should know.