Heidi Ganahl Tosses Anchor to John Kellner

When a particular political party has a strong candidate running at the top of the ticket, it generally benefits all of the other associated candidates down the ballot. When this happens, the common political lexicon is to say that lower-tier candidates are “riding the coattails” of the candidate at the top of the ticket.

But the reverse can also happen, which is what Colorado Republicans have experienced in recent election cycles and seem destined to deal with again this November. Republican gubernatorial candidate Hiedi Heidi Ganahl was recently a guest on KHOW radio (with Ryan Schuiling filling in as a guest host on The Leland Conway Show), where she proceeded to make a big splash that drenched several other unsuspecting Republicans.

After listening to Schuiling drown for a full minute while trying to downplay national polling showing widespread support for abortion rights, Ganahl was asked about the Reproductive Health Equity Act (RHEA) passed by the state legislature. Here’s her response:

GANAHL: Well, I mean, right, it’s disgusting. I don’t know any, um, many other moms – and I’m a mom of four – that believes that this is okay. We fight like crazy to keep our kids safe and the thought of, you know, letting a child die after birth…or giving birth and letting a child die, is abhorrent to the majority of women I know.

And so, I think we should do every single thing we can to overturn that law, and as governor I will fight to do that. Hopefully I’ll have the legislature to help me do that as well, and a good Attorney General – um, go John Kellner! [Pols emphasis]

You’ll want to add this to your playlist:

 

Here’s the audio of Ganahl’s entire response on the question, which concludes with her statement that incumbent Democratic Gov. Jared Polis is destroying the State of Colorado.

 

Ganahl’s extreme position on abortion rights is not a new revelation — she has regularly talked about reversing RHEA but won’t say if she would back legislation to restrict abortion rights — but this is the first time we can recall that Ganahl also tossed this live hand grenade to other Republicans in the legislature and to Republican Attorney General candidate John Kellner.

Perhaps Kellner is completely on board with efforts to overturn RHEA and/or rollback abortion rights in Colorado, but we’d imagine he’d prefer to answer that question himself. Ditto for other Republican candidates running for State House or State Senate in a state where voters overwhelmingly support abortion rights.

 

The GMS Podcast: The One With the Epic Rant on Abortion Rights

This week in episode 107 of the Get More Smarter Podcast, your hosts Jason Bane and Ian Silverii welcome back Christy Powell once more for the latest news on fundraising numbers for statewide races and one unforgettable diatribe about abortion rights (seriously, it could be its own episode — jump to the 22:45 mark).

But first, Jason and Ian consider the political implications in Colorado of the demise of Roe v. Wade and make sure to update you on where Republican candidates for federal office stand on the issue. We also dive into the big news in the race for Governor and listen to Republican candidate Greg Lopez talk himself into oblivion in an interview with 9News.

Listen to previous episodes of The Get More Smarter Podcast at GetMoreSmarter.com.

Questions? Comments? Complaints? Let us have it at AngryRants@getmoresmarter.com.

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Statewide Fundraising: Bad News for Ganahl and the GOP

WEDNESDAY UPDATE: Tina Peters at last filed her first campaign finance report, and it was pretty good (relative to her Republican opponents, anyway).

—–

UPDATE: As of 3:41 pm, Peters has yet to file a campaign finance report.

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The deadline to file Q1 fundraising reports in Colorado was midnight on Monday, May 2, which means we have our first good look at how much support the various campaigns for statewide office have generated…

…Except for Mesa County Clerk and Recorder Tina Peters, who as of this writing has yet to submit her first fundraising report as a candidate for Secretary of State. On the one hand, it is perfectly on-brand for Peters to miss her first fundraising deadline, since she clearly operates on the idea that laws are meant for everyone else. On the other (much larger) hand, candidates for SECRETARY OF STATE should probably follow the same rules they will be expected to enforce if elected.

We’ll update this post if and when Peters decides to file a fundraising report. In the meantime, here’s a breakdown of how the rest of the statewide candidates fared in Q1.

As you read these numbers, remember something that we often repeat here at Colorado Pols: Fundraising isn’t just about money — it is an indicator of the level of support for a particular candidate. People generally don’t give money to candidates if they don’t believe they can win. 

 

GOVERNOR

This has not been a great week to be Republican gubernatorial candidate Hiedi Heidi Ganahl. You could say that about most weeks since Ganahl first announced her candidacy last September, but this has been a particularly rough couple of days for the current CU Regent.

Ganahl has long been the presumed frontrunner for the Republican nomination for Governor and the chance to challenge incumbent Democratic Gov. Jared Polis in November, but her entire campaign has been what you could charitably call “underwhelming.” Over the weekend, Danielle Neuschwanger became the gubernatorial nominee of the American Constitution Party (ACN), which is a massive blow to whichever Republican candidate wins the nomination in June. On Monday, Ganahl essentially confirmed the weakness of her candidacy with another poor fundraising report.

Ganahl’s fundraising has been historically bad for a Republican gubernatorial candidate — a trend that continues with the first quarter of this year. There’s no positive way to spin the fact that the presumed GOP frontrunner begins the month of May with just $200k in the bank. It’s not fair to compare fundraising numbers with Polis, who will self-fund his re-election campaign to whatever tune he deems necessary; but as you’ll see with other fundraising numbers below, Ganahl’s totals don’t even look that great compared to campaigns for lower-profile offices.

The rest of the campaign finance numbers in this race aren’t all that relevant, since we wouldn’t expect either Greg Lopez or Neuschwanger to be raising a lot of money.

 

ATTORNEY GENERAL

Incumbent Democrat Phil Weiser continues to raise boatloads of cash for his re-election bid, which has allowed him to already book a lot of television advertising time (hence Weiser’s large Q1 expenditures).

Republican John Kellner didn’t get a full quarter in which to fundraise — he didn’t really begin his AG campaign until February — but these are poor numbers nonetheless. Strong candidates often raise a good deal of money in their first quarter because that’s when they are first hitting up the donors with whom they have a close relationship. Kellner’s weak fundraising may also be an indication that he will be relying almost entirely on the assistance of the Republican Attorney General’s Association (RAGA) for most of his advertising expenditures.

 

SECRETARY OF STATE

Incumbent Democrat Jena Griswold is setting new records for fundraising for a candidate for SOS. Similar to Weiser, this is allowing her to reserve a bunch of advertising time in advance.

We wrote about Republican Pam Anderson’s anemic numbers in an earlier post. If Anderson is going to win a Republican Primary in June, she’s likely going to need a significant expenditure from an outside group or PAC to boost her name ID. We still don’t know who Mike O’Donnell is, but it’s a bad sign for Anderson that his cash on hand numbers are nearly seven times larger.

 

STATE TREASURER

Much like his Democratic colleagues (though to a lesser extent), incumbent Dave Young is raising enough money that he can start to book advertising spots in advance, which generally saves campaigns a good deal of money.

Republican Lang Sias, meanwhile, is raising the kind of money that would be great for a State House race but is not particularly impressive for a statewide campaign. Sias has been doing this long enough that he should have plenty of contacts for fundraising purposes; of course, he’s also been losing for long enough that those contacts may not be returning his phone calls. These weak fundraising numbers could be a sign that Sias is counting on a third-party expenditure to raise his name ID…or it might just be a reminder that he’s Lang Sias.

DougCo Water Grab Blows Up Fractious Commission

Douglas County Board of Commissioners George Teal, Lora Thomas, and Abe Laydon

Elliott Wenzler of Colorado Community Media reports that the always entertaining (unless you happen to live there, in which case it’s just frightening) all-GOP Douglas County Board of Commissioners is at each others’ throats once again–and this time, the intrigue concerns that most emotionally volatile of resources in the American West, water for fighting:

Douglas County Commissioner Lora Thomas has been removed from her position as leader of the board for the second time almost exactly one year after it happened initially…

[Commissioner Abe] Laydon asserted that Thomas had directed a lawyer working for the county to record and take notes on who met with Laydon during a meeting in the San Luis Valley regarding the Renewable Water Resources proposal.

RWR has asked the county for $10 million to begin working on a plan to transport about 22,000 acre-feet of water per year from southern Colorado’s San Luis Valley to Douglas County. Many in the valley and around the region have spoken out against the plan, including U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert, Rep. Cleave Simpson, Gov. Jared Polis and U.S. Sens. John Hickenlooper and Michael Bennet.

While Thomas is against the water plan and Commissioner George Teal is in support, Laydon has not yet announced how he will vote. He said he attended a meeting in the valley to privately hear from supporters of the plan. Laydon and Teal have voiced concern that these supporters don’t feel they can speak publicly because of fear of retribution.

The hotly controversial proposal to pipe groundwater from the San Luis Valley to exurban Douglas County is opposed by just about everyone except those who would directly benefit from the exported water in DougCo–on both sides of the aisle. If allowed to go forward, it could lead to the desertification of the San Luis Valley much like the Owens Valley of California was drained by Los Angeles in the 1920s and rendered basically uninhabitable. Proponents of the Orwellian-named “Renewable Water Resources” water grab are earnestly courting Republican AG candidate John Kellner, whose support if he wins could be crucial to allowing the scheme to proceed.

Lora Thomas, who is now running in the June 28th GOP primary for Douglas County Sheriff, is an outspoken opponent of the RWR project. Commissioner Abe Laydon, a shifty operator, is keeping his vote to support the RWR project close to the vest–but this latest and, let’s be honest, contrived conflict indicates to us that he’ll be a “yes” vote on funding to move the project forward and probably always was.

In that event, the DougCo water grab nobody outside DougCo wants will be an issue for John Kellner to deal with on the campaign trail. Our guess is that anywhere outside Douglas County, Kellner will want only to change the subject.

Dems Take Aim At Kellner Over Donor’s Good Legal Fortune

Holly Kluth.

Following a story that’s been on slow-burn for some weeks now, the Colorado Democratic Party sent out a release today slamming Republican attorney general candidate John Kellner for letting Holly Kluth, a Republican candidate for Douglas County Sheriff and nearly-maxed out campaign donor to Kellner, skate after investigators recommended charges of official misconduct:

After troubling pay-to-play allegations surfaced against John Kellner, Republican candidate for Colorado Attorney General, today the Colorado Democratic Party released the following statement:

“Our elected leaders are supposed to follow the law without fear or favor, but John Kellner has tarnished that public trust. Kellner should take immediate steps to restore public confidence in his office and ensure Coloradans that his prosecutorial decisions are based on a person’s conduct, not their political contributions,” said Morgan Carroll, chair of the Colorado Democratic Party. “Kellner should immediately return the money he took and institute safeguards that prevent even the appearance of favored treatment by campaign contributions from facing possible criminal charges. Kellner must also immediately disclose any and all other instances in which he failed to bring charges against his campaign contributors.”

The District Attorney for the 18th Judicial District, Kellner is under fire for refusing to prosecute his campaign donor, Holly Kluth, despite an independent investigation finding wrongdoing from the Jefferson County Sheriff’s office. Kellner likewise refused to recuse himself from the case despite the potential appearance of a conflict of interest. Kluth had been under investigation for official misconduct in her role at the Douglas County Sheriff’s office — allegations so severe that her office requested the investigation be conducted by a neighboring jurisdiction.

The scandal has led to a call for official investigations into Kellner for violating the Colorado Rules of Professional Conduct for lawyers as well as for prosecutorial misconduct for failure to disclose a conflict of interest. After the alleged misconduct occurred in 2019, Kellner accepted two donations from Kluth in 2020. In October of 2021, despite being called on to bring official misconduct charges, Kellner declined to file charges against his campaign donor and has yet to answer questions as to why…

The simplest explanation why, of course, is the worst-case scenario–which is why we don’t expect questions about Kellner’s prosecutorial generosity toward his near-maximum campaign donor and Republican political ally to go away, certainly not until Kellner fully explains the timing and reasoning behind his decision to ignore the recommendation of outside investigators. Donations provide a ready quid pro quo but in this case we’re more inclined to think the political alliance between Kellner and Kluth against their common much-maligned adversary Douglas County Sheriff Tony Spurlock is the tie that binds.

One misconduct can cover up another, but two misconducts exposed are double the trouble.

The GMS Podcast: For a Better Circus, Add More Clowns

This week in episode 105 of the Get More Smarter Podcast, your hosts Jason Bane and Ian Silverii guest host Christy Powell spend an entire episode breaking down the fantastic disaster that was last weekend’s Republican Party state assembly. Which other Republicans are dancing alongside Secretary of State nominee Tina Peters?

Listen to previous episodes of The Get More Smarter Podcast at GetMoreSmarter.com.

Questions? Comments? Complaints? Let us have it at AngryRants@getmoresmarter.com.

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The Republican Party’s Weekend Disaster in 9 Parts

Colorado Republicans spent the weekend in Colorado Springs finalizing candidate positions for various important races in 2022. In case you haven’t heard, the GOP State Assembly did not go well. Here’s what happened…

 

(1) Colorado Media Outlets All Saw the Same Thing

Colorado political reporters came to the same obvious conclusion following Saturday’s circus: The “Big Lie” reigns supreme in the Colorado Republican Party. Here’s a sampling:

♦ The Denver Post: “Colorado GOP embraces election conspiracy theories in nominations for Secretary of State, Senate”

Axios Denver: “Colorado GOP nominates election deniers to 2022 primary ballot”

Colorado Public Radio: “False claims about 2020 election front and center as Tina Peters clinches spot in GOP secretary of state race”

9News: “Far-right challengers gaining ground ahead of GOP primary”

Colorado Newsline: “Far-right conspiracy theorists triumphant at Republican state assembly”

 

(2) If This Weekend Surprised You, Then You Haven’t Been Paying Attention

Colorado Republican Party Chair Kristi Burton Brown (KBB) was elected to her current post early last year after basically running on the “Big Lie.” She flat-out said at one point that the Colorado Republican Party is NEVER going back to the Pre-Trump days (though she later tried to walk that back). 

Presumptive GOP gubernatorial frontrunner Hiedi Heidi Ganahl has been flailing since her 2021 campaign kickoff about her persistent refusal to acknowledge that the 2020 election was legitimate. You can see from Saturday’s results why Ganahl has been so terrified to waffle on the “Big Lie” where the GOP base is concerned.

On Friday night, Republicans heard from a “Big Lie” keynote speaker at their Centennial Dinner: Arizona Rep. Andy Biggs.

Republicans spent HOURS on Saturday arguing over multiple efforts from groups trying to force the Party to abandon electronic voting in favor of paper ballots. Did Republicans really think that NOBODY would bring this up at their State Assembly? 

“We had to take two different votes on whether to do paper ballots,” said KBB on KNUS radio on Monday. One of the requests for paper ballots came from local militia group FEC United; KBB herself served as the President of FEC United prior to becoming State Republican Party Chair. 

On Monday, the founder of FEC United, Joe Oltmann, was still pushing an extensive, elaborate, and completely insane conspiracy theory about electronic voting “problems.”

 

(3) Danielle Neuschwanger Claims Fraud After Losing

Again, in the “of course this happened” category.

The odds that a Republican candidate was going to lose on Saturday and then immediately claim election fraud as the reason were approximately 100%.

Danielle Neuschwanger finished in third place in the race for Governor, behind Greg Lopez and Ganahl, but short of the 30% threshold that would get her name on the June Primary ballot. Neuschwanger then publicly alleged that there were some sort of voting irregularities and that she would refuse to concede (not that anybody needs Neuschwanger to concede in order to move on to June). We know this happened because Neuschwanger posted a video of herself making this very argument:

Near the end of the video, an unidentified man can be heard yelling, “We didn’t lose! We got screwed!”

On KNUS radio on Monday morning, KBB elaborated on this event, adding that Neuschwanger’s husband threatened to beat up her father! Totally normal stuff.

 

 

(4) Raise Your Hand if You Want to be on the Ballot!

Republicans allowed nominations from the floor on Saturday. This did not go well.

The first problem with this approach came when Oltmann was nominated for Governor (and seconded by State Rep. Pat Neville). Oltmann had no intention of accepting this nomination, but he DID use his time on stage to endorse two other Republicans: Ron Hanks for Senate and Tina Peters for Secretary of State. Both KBB and Republican Party Vice-Chair Priscilla Rahn bemoaned this on Monday on KNUS radio as a waste of everyone’s time. You’d think KBB might have had some advance knowledge of this given the fact that she basically worked for Oltmann 18 months ago.

Following the vote for Governor, two different people were then nominated from the floor for Attorney General. We wrote earlier about Stanley Thorne, but there was a second woman nominated for AG who admitted soon thereafter THAT SHE WASN’T EVEN AN ATTORNEY. Thorne, by the way, is a licensed attorney, but not in Colorado (he’s also apparently not a registered Republican). 

In the end, District Attorney John Kellner escaped Colorado Springs without a Primary opponent, but he can’t be feeling too pleased with himself. As we wrote on Sunday:

Apparently 42% of Colorado Republicans said they would prefer “any random asshole” for Attorney General rather than John Kellner…EVEN if that person is not even a registered Republican in Colorado.

 

 

(5) More Clowns = Better Circus

Saturday was unquestionably a dumpster fire for the Colorado Republican Party, but that didn’t stop KBB from attempting her own lame spin on the results:

It is true that State Treasurer candidate Lang Sias does not have a Republican opponent. As we noted earlier, AG candidate John Kellner would have had a Primary had Stanley Thorne actually been a registered Republican. In order to find a third candidate for this “no Primary”  narrative, KBB had to include some guy running for state school board.

Meanwhile, Republicans do have a primary fight for Governor, U.S. Senate, and Secretary of State. All three Republican incumbents in Congress will have a Primary in June, and both open seats (CO-07 and CO-08) have multiple-candidate Primary battles. Republicans also have NO candidates in CO-01, CO-02, or CO-06. 

But, sure, YAY for Sias, Kellner, and school board guy.

In case you were wondering, Democrats have no primary battles for any statewide race. Democrats also have no Primary fight in any congressional race. The Republican spin on this is just silly. 

 

(6) The Tina Peters Assembly

Greg Lopez  won top line at the assembly BECAUSE he promised to pardon Peters of any crimes committed during her tenure as Mesa County Clerk and Recorder. Stanley Thorne got 42% of the vote in the race for AG because he and others claimed that John Kellner failed to support Peters with sufficient vigor. 

The biggest surprise from Saturday’s assembly might be that no Republican candidate publicly proposed to marry Peters. 

This is the part where we remind you that Tina Peters spent a night in jail literally one month ago. She might yet be jailed on a contempt of court charge, and we don’t even know about the federal crimes she could get dinged for in the coming months.

If there is a ray of hope for the GOP, it is that Mike O’Donnell made the June Primary ballot, giving Republicans a three-way Primary for SOS. O’Donnell is a long shot to win, but he could be helpful to the GOP if he is able to siphon votes away from Tina Peters to the benefit of Pam Anderson (who skipped the assembly after getting on the ballot via the petition route).

This weekend Twitter take is…not wrong:

 

(7) No-mentum for Heidi Ganahl 

Despite her endless pandering to the Republican base, presumed GOP gubernatorial frontrunner Heidi Ganahl came in second to Greg Lopez, who collected basically the same vote percentage that he received in his 2018 bid for Governor. We don’t need to tell you that it’s bad news that Ganahl is basically an afterthought following the biggest weekend of the year for Colorado Republicans.

 

 

(8) All The Momentum for Ron Hanks

Just look at this photo, via Colorado Public Radio:

 

Republican operatives have insisted for months that Ron Hanks is not a real candidate for U.S. Senate and would have no chance in a GOP Primary. We’ve long believed that reality was exactly the opposite of this position. 

On Saturday Hanks SHUT OUT every other Republican Senate candidate, emerging from the State Assembly as the only person to make the Primary ballot via this process (if you’re wondering how this happened, see point #2 above). Hanks will face Joe O’Dea in June after O’Dea was the only Republican Senate candidate with the sense to collect petition signatures instead of relying on the GOP’s lunatic base.

Hanks has raised very little money for his U.S. Senate campaign and is about as far away from the average Colorado voter on policy issues as a candidate could get. But he might well win the Republican Primary in June, following in the footsteps of 2016 Senate hopeful Darryl Glenn

There is still a lot to be told on the other side of the GOP ledger. Gino Campana is a multi-millionaire former Ft. Collins City Council Member who regularly touted his connections to Donald Trump and even hired Kellyanne Conway as a consultant. He didn’t make the ballot.

Eli Bremer is a former Chair of the El Paso County Republican Party and a onetime Olympic athlete (albeit in the “modern pentathlon”) who was the first Republican candidate to enter the race in 2021. He didn’t make the ballot. 

Deborah Flora is a former radio host and onetime “Miss Colorado” who entered Saturday touting the endorsement of Texas Senator Ted Cruz. She also left Broadmoor World Arena on Saturday in need of a new hobby.

Campana, Bremer, and Flora spent a lot of time and paid a lot of consultants a lot of money for a whole lot of nothing. 

 

(9) Ken Buck, Canary in the Coal Mine

We knew things were going to be (extra) weird on Saturday after incumbent Congressman Ken Buck (R-Greeley) almost failed to get his name on the June Primary ballot during Friday’s CO-04 assembly. Buck finished in second place behind somebody named Bob Lewis. Buck will likely still win the GOP Primary, but getting just 38% of the vote from your own base is pretty sad for an incumbent Congressman. 

 

So…About that Republican Attorney General Race

Saturday’s Republican State assembly was an absolutely EPIC disaster. In their wildest dreams, Democrats couldn’t have hoped for a bigger mess than the one that occurred at the Broadmoor World Arena in Colorado Springs.

The big stories were State Rep. Ron Hanks (U.S. Senate) and Greg Lopez (Governor) capturing first place in their respective races, but no political contest better encapsulates the circus that was the Republican convention better than the race for Attorney General.

John Kellner, the District Attorney in JD-18 (Arapahoe County) entered the day as the only known candidate seeking the Republican nomination for Attorney General. He damn near left World Arena with a Primary battle on his hands.

 

Stanley Thorne, apparently.

After Kellner spoke to the Republican faithful on Saturday, some guy named Stanley Thorne raised his hand and announced that he, too, would like to be a Republican candidate for AG. Thorne is apparently an attorney (in Texas) and the host of a radio show called “Dr. Thorne’s Traveling Emporium and Medicine Show” [like we could make that up]. It’s a little weird for somebody to get nominated for statewide office from the floor like this, but that’s how Lauren Boebert’s Party rolls these days.

Thorne made the case to delegates that he would be a better choice to be the eventual Republican nominee for AG because Kellner is not doing enough to support (now Secretary of State candidate) Tina Peters. In the race just before AG, Lopez ended up taking first place on the gubernatorial ballot after pledging to “pardon” Peters for her many sins as Mesa County Clerk and Recorder; needless to say, this was not an unwise narrative for Thorne to explore.

When the ballots had been cast, 42% of the delegates in the room decided to vote for Thorne instead of Kellner.

This is worth repeating: Forty-two percent of Colorado Republicans said they would prefer “any random asshole” for Attorney General rather than John Kellner.

But while Thorne can apparently be nominated for Attorney General despite not being a registered attorney in the State of Colorado, there is one hurdle he might still find insurmountable. As Jesse Paul of The Colorado Sun reports via Twitter:

 

Sad John Kellner

We need to amend our earlier sentence: Apparently 42% of Colorado Republicans said they would prefer “any random asshole” for Attorney General rather than John Kellner…EVEN if that person is not even a registered Republican in Colorado.

It’s still not clear if Thorne could be an official candidate for Attorney General without being a registered attorney in Colorado (it would certainly be a requirement in order to hold the office of AG), but he definitely can’t be a Republican candidate if he isn’t, you know, AN ACTUAL REGISTERED REPUBLICAN. That it took the Colorado Republican Party the better part of a day to figure this out is another story altogether.

Kellner may have dodged a Republican Primary contest on a technicality, but his campaign now has to move forward knowing full well that a sizable percentage of the Republican base doesn’t really like him. There’s probably a word for this, but it doesn’t rhyme with “Bomentum.”

In Declining to Charge a Donor, GOP AG Hopeful Kellner Didn’t Mention Campaign Cash

(Rule 1: always mention the cash — Promoted by Colorado Pols)

18th Judicial DA John Kellner is running to be the GOP nominee for Colorado Attorney General

Eighteenth Judicial District Attorney John Kellner, the Colorado GOP’s lone candidate for attorney general, faces an ethics complaint for his decision not to charge a former Douglas County undersheriff and campaign donor with misconduct despite a finding of probable cause by investigators.

The misconduct in question involves Kluth’s directing an employee to delete sensitive records from her personnel file prior to running for Douglas County sheriff.

Kellner’s decision not to file charges was first reported by 9News last month. 

“Based on a thorough review of the investigative findings in this case, we have probable cause to believe Holly Nicholson-Kluth committed the crime of Official Misconduct in the First Degree and Official Misconduct in the Second Degree,” reads the JeffCo Sheriff case report. “These acts were all found to have been committed in 2019 during Nicholson-Kluth’s tenure with the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office, specifically while she was serving in the capacity of Undersheriff.”

The ethics complaint filed with the state’s Independent Ethics Committee (IEC) by progressive advocacy group ProgressNow Colorado notes that former Undersheriff Holly Kluth, made two donations totaling $350 to Kellner’s DA campaign in 2020. Colorado law caps the maximum contribution to a non-statewide campaign at $400, the lowest amount in the nation.

“I submitted a letter this morning to the Colorado Supreme Court requesting an investigation of District Attorney John Kellner, for violating the rules of professional conduct as well as for prosecutorial misconduct for his failure to disclose his conflicts of interest when he refused to prosecute his high-profile campaign donor,” stated Sara Loflin, Executive Director of ProgressNow Colorado.

Loflin’s complaint raises the previously unreported issue of campaign donations from Kluth, whose intention to run for Douglas County sheriff was already public at the time of the investigation, to Kellner, who was already running to replace his term-limited boss, George Brauchler, as DA for the Eighteen District.

Kellner’s office gave two reasons for dealing to charge Kluth: First it noted that the statute of limitations had already expired, given that the alleged crimes took place in April 2019 and that circumstances needed to invoke the “discovery” exception to the time limit don’t exist. Secondly, it assessed the evidence to be “insufficient to support a reasonable likelihood of success at trial.”

(more…)

What Not to Do When You Want to be Attorney General

Holly Kluth and John Kellner

Colorado Republicans looked for a long time for a candidate to run for Attorney General in 2022. They tried to convince 2018 AG loser George Brauchler to run again, but he said no. They tried to convince former Secretary of State Scott Gessler to give it a go, but he declined repeatedly. Ditto for former lawmaker and District Attorney Mark Waller.

It wasn’t until late January that the GOP finally convinced newly-elected District Attorney John Kellner (18th judicial district; Arapahoe and Douglas counties) to run against incumbent Democrat Phil Weiser. Kellner was right to be hesitant about making the leap when you consider that he barely won his 2020 DA’s race against Democrat Amy Padden (Kellner squeaked by with 1,433 more votes than Padden out of more than 573,000 total ballots cast). That lack of political experience is already proving problematic for Kellner’s AG campaign.

Earlier this week, Kellner was the guest of honor at a fundraiser hosted by, among others, former Governor Bill Owens and longtime Republican political operative Sean Tonner. The problem for Kellner here is that both Owens and Tonner are YUGE proponents of a cockamamie scheme to divert water from the San Luis Valley to Metro Denver, and they are known to be trying to grease the wheels for their “buy and dry plan” with campaign contributions. Weiser is on the record opposing this “buy and dry plan,” which has even generated a thumbs-down from Republican Rep. Lauren “Q*Bert” Boebert. By allowing himself to be so publicly-connected to Owens and Tonner, Kellner opens himself up to concerns that he might favor a water grab that would cost him a lot of rural votes in a statewide race.

John Kellner (left) with Bill Owens

This isn’t Kellner’s only problem, of course. The issue that is really going to dog his campaign involves allegations that he is helping to cover up for Holly Kluth, a candidate for Douglas County Sheriff who should be politically radioactive in the law enforcement community. 

As we noted earlier this month, Kluth allegedly purged her official record of the existence of a “Brady letter” in her personal file, which is the type of thing that usually ends the career of someone in law enforcement.

As 9News explains:

Named after the Brady v. Maryland case heard in front of the U.S. Supreme Court, a Brady letter is a warning from prosecutors to defense attorneys that explains a law enforcement officer’s credibility may endanger the successful prosecution of cases. Reasons for the letter might include an officer’s untruthfulness or misconduct.

In December, an internal affairs investigation was launched into allegations that Kluth ordered someone in her office to delete the “Brady letter” from her personnel file (Kluth was fired by Douglas County Sheriff Tony Spurlock in 2021 after a separate internal investigation). The “Brady letter” investigation was handled by the Jefferson County District Attorney’s Sheriff’s office; it is not uncommon for another jurisdiction to be asked to handle an internal affairs case in order to avoid any potential conflict of interest. Here’s where it gets sketchy, as 9News reported:

Kluth was found to have violated policy in ordering the deletion of personnel file information that “would be disparaging not only to her personal reputation but also to her campaign to become the next elected Sheriff of Douglas County.” Investigators said Kluth violated four policies: Conformance to Law, Unlawful Orders, Commission of a Deceptive Act, and Removal of Records.

This investigation ended with Jefferson County recommending official misconduct charges to the district attorney’s office. The district attorney in the 18th District, John Kellner, opted not to prosecute the case. [Pols emphasis]

On Wednesday, ProgressNow Colorado released a letter asking the Office of Attorney Regulation at the Colorado Supreme Court to investigate Kellner’s decision to let Kluth skate despite recommendations from a neighboring DA’s office that Kluth be face official misconduct charges. As ProgressNow Colorado Executive Director Sara Loflin explained in a press release:

“Kellner should not have touched this case with a ten-foot-pole, [Pols emphasis] instead he put politics over public safety and needs to be held accountable.”

Unfortunately, it is not unusual for the DA in the 18th judicial district to have trouble holding law enforcement friends accountable. Kellner’s predecessor, George Brauchler, eventually gave up on trying to prosecute former El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa (aka, “The Shirtless Sheriff”) on a multitude of charges after his office twice “failed” to get a conviction despite the existence of what seemed to be a pretty thick binder of evidence. We don’t know if Kellner was involved in any of the failed attempts at prosecuting Maketa, but it’s certainly possible given that he worked in Brauchler’s office at the time.

As far as we can tell, Kellner has not commented on why he ignored recommendations from the Jeffco Sheriff’s Office to formally charge Kluth. It probably has nothing to do with the fact that Kluth is someone he knows personally who has donated to his campaigns in the past:

[SIDE NOTE: Kluth’s husband, Arlan Kluth, was also a frequent contributor to Maketa’s campaigns for Sheriff in El Paso County, which is a weird coincidence.]

Kluth is currently in a heated Republican Primary race to become the next Sheriff of Douglas County; the four-person race includes John Anderson, Lora Thomas, and Darren Weekly. As such, we probably haven’t seen the last of this “Brady letter” story — and the worse it gets for Kluth, the more of a problem it becomes for Kellner.

Kellner hasn’t even been in the AG’s race for two months, and already he has two very big problems that he needs Colorado voters to ignore if he hopes to win in November. The water-grab issue is more of a political problem, but the Kluth situation is potentially crippling. It’s tough to run for the top law enforcement position in Colorado while sporting an open wound bleeding out your law and order legitimacy.

Hide the Water Bottles for Kellner Fundraiser

John Kellner (right)

Republican John Kellner is the district attorney from judicial district 18 (Arapahoe, Douglas Counties) and the likely GOP nominee for Attorney General in 2022. Tonight he’ll shake hands with donors at a fundraiser for his AG campaign that could come back to bite him in the ass before November.

The fundraiser at an undisclosed location in Greenwood Village is being hosted by some interesting names (see below), among them former Republican Gov. Bill Owens and longtime GOP operative Sean Tonner. Owens and Tonner are two of the most outspoken advocates for a “buy and dry” water scheme that would take money from the San Luis Valley and pump it into the suburbs of Douglas County.

This “buy and dry” scheme was a major story in The Denver Post late last month:

A Front Range company called Renewable Water Resources, backed by a cadre of builders, developers and former Colorado Gov. Bill Owens, wants to drill into the aquifers storing the valley’s declining water supply and pipe it to the ever-growing Douglas County.

The Front Range has money, Renewable Water Resources’ Managing Partner Sean Tonner often says. And the San Luis Valley has water.

Tonner is quick to cite poverty statistics for valley residents and says his company can pay those willing to sell their water rights and bring millions more to stimulate the local economy. It’s a win-win deal, he said.

Opposition is widespread among the valley’s farmers, ranchers, water managers, environmentalists, bankers and politicians. [Pols emphasis]

Owens and Tonner are certainly not the first people to peddle some kind of cockamamie water scheme that exploits rural Colorado for the financial and hydration benefits of people in Metro Denver. Owens and Tonner are directing serious money to politicians who support building a giant straw over the Front Range, with the Post noting that one Douglas County Commissioner has accepted $10,000 in contributions from Tonner alone.

Incumbent Attorney General Phil Weiser has already promised to oppose this plan from a ridiculously-named company called “Renewable Water Resources,” and that puts Kellner in quite the political pickle. If elected Attorney General, Kellner could terminate the state’s opposition to this water scheme, giving it the legal and political boost it needs to survive. But if Kellner openly supports this project in 2022 after accepting big campaign contributions from the likes of Owens and Tonner, he’ll hemorrhage support from the rural voters he needs to stage a competitive challenge to Weiser.

We wouldn’t think the financial support of Owens and Tonner would offset the negative headlines that attach Kellner to their water gimmick, but perhaps Kellner thinks it’s a worthwhile trade. Or, perhaps, Kellner is already on board with the “Renewable Water Resources” idea and this fundraising assistance is just the icing on the cake.

Either way, tonight could end up being one seriously-expensive fundraiser.

 

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Why Are Republicans Covering For DougCo’s Dirty Sheriff Candidate?

GOP AG candidate John Kellner (right).

A story reported late last week by 9NEWS that we didn’t want to escape mention–Holly Kluth, a former deputy sheriff now running to be the next elected Sheriff of Douglas County has run into some scandal in the form of a “Brady letter” on her permanent record. This is a letter sent by prosecutors under federal law to defense attorneys warning that testimony from that law enforcement officer may be…”unreliable” do to previous acts of dishonesty:

Such letters often end law enforcement careers.

This notification follows an internal affairs investigation into Kluth, launched in December, that related to allegations she ordered another employee to alter her personnel file years ago. The Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office conducted the investigation that began after Kluth’s attorney requested her personnel file from the sheriff’s department while preparing a federal lawsuit against Douglas County Sheriff Tony Spurlock contesting Kluth’s firing. Her termination came after a separate internal affairs investigation.

According to the personnel file investigation, when sheriff’s office staff began to prepare the file, they found a discrepancy — a file had been deleted from the department’s human relations computer system.

Kluth was found to have violated policy in ordering the deletion of personnel file information that “would be disparaging not only to her personal reputation but also to her campaign to become the next elected Sheriff of Douglas County.” Investigators said Kluth violated four policies: Conformance to Law, Unlawful Orders, Commission of a Deceptive Act, and Removal of Records.

Curiously, however:

This investigation ended with Jefferson County recommending official misconduct charges to the district attorney’s office. The district attorney in the 18th District, John Kellner, opted not to prosecute the case. [Pols emphasis]

That’s the same John Kellner who is now running for attorney general against incumbent Democratic AG Phil Weiser. And Kellner isn’t the only one lending a hand to protect Holly Kluth’s reputation. Last weekend, Kellner’s predecessor as Arapahoe County DA and 2018 attorney general’s race loser George Brauchler offered a lifeline on his KNUS radio show for Kluth to make excuses:

Holly Kluth is running in a Republican primary against term-limited County Commissioner Lora Thomas, MAGA crazypants “constitutional sheriff” John Anderson, and current DougCo deputy Darren Weekly. The term-limited incumbent Sheriff Tony Spurlock has endorsed Weekly to replace him, and as the Douglas County News-Press reported in February, Spurlock’s theory on Kluth is straightforward:

Spurlock said he believes Kluth ordered the report to be deleted because she was trying to “cover up her past so she could be the sheriff of Douglas County.” [Pols emphasis]

For her part, Kluth denies she ever ordered the deletion of these records pertaining to an alleged domestic violence case from the 1980s–which is flatly contradicted by the fellow deputy who deleted it, a contradiction for which Kluth has no explanation:

In a recorded call with Jeffco deputies, retired Douglas County Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy Robert McMahan said Kluth had ordered him to do this, according to the recording…

When asked why McMahan would delete something from her file, Kluth said she didn’t know.

Outgoing Sheriff Spurlock ran afoul of the far right when he dared to support the state’s new and by all accounts successful extreme risk protection order (ERPO) law ,allowing a court to order the temporary surrender of guns from persons at risk of hurting themselves or others. Kluth’s personal feud with Sheriff Spurlock is part of this story, but not in any way that exonerates Kluth. Deletion of these negative personnel records is a far greater problem than Kluth’s spat with Spurlock reportedly over political endorsements, and erupted in plenty of time to sink in before the primary. It may be that no amount of talk-radio rehabilitation will be enough to salvage Kluth’s campaign now.

Who wants a dishonest sheriff? The answer appears to be…more people than you think.

The Slow Death of the Republican Crimenado Narrative

Senate Minority Leader Chris Holbert (R)

Republicans, including fledgling gubernatorial candidate Hiedi Heidi Ganahl, are trying really, really, really hard to cement a 2022 election narrative that crime is out of control in Colorado and it’s all because of Democrats. Vote for us, say Republicans, and your catalytic converters will be safe once again!

This entire effort is getting rather silly. Research show that increases in crime in Colorado have generally mirrored those in the rest of the country, but Republicans have cherry-picked statistics in a dubious scientific manner in order to support their rhetoric that Colorado is more murdery than other states as a result of policies enacted by Democratic lawmakers. We’ll get to that canard in a moment, but first let’s consider how Republicans are dealing with the crime issue right now.

On Wednesday, NOT A SINGLE REPUBLICAN voted to advance legislation out of the House Judiciary Committee intended to cut down on identity-based crimes. Two weeks ago, a bill to reduce youth violence also passed out of the House Judiciary Committee…again, without one Republican vote of support.

For months, Republicans have brayed about “Democratic bills” that have led to a rise in crime throughout Colorado. Yet Republicans are actively opposing crime-prevention measures during the current legislative session. Republicans don’t appear to be interested in preventing crime; their focus is instead on keeping people in jail who have already committed crimes. Or, perhaps Republicans will only work on crime prevention if Coloradans vote for them in November.

Now, let’s get back to the Republican claim that Democrats are responsible for an increase in crime because of legislation passed in recent years. Even if you were able to definitively state that Colorado has more crime than other states and it is because of recent legislation, then you would need to blame Republicans as much as Democrats. Take a look at the list below of the various crime-related bills that Republicans point toward as proof of their “crimenado” nonsense. You’ll notice that most of them have…wait for it…Republican support.

For example, consider HB19-1263, which is the legislation that Republicans generally point toward when they complain that Democrats have made it easier for bad guys to flood Colorado with fentanyl. That bill had bi-partisan support and received eight Republican votes when it was passed. This is why some Republicans, such as State Party Chair Kristi Burton Brown, are now being forced to throw their fellow Republicans under the bus rather than abandon their shaky rhetoric altogether.

Of all of the crime-related bills that get shoehorned into the “crimenado” narrative, only one was passed without any Republican support — and that was legislation (HB21-1251) about regulating the use of ketamine when detaining suspects who are considered overly-aggressive when confronted by police officers. If you want to say that crime is on the rise because Democrats made it harder for paramedics to inject a suspect with ketamine…well, good luck with that.

Look, we get it: Republicans think that scaring Colorado voters about an increase in crime is their best bet for getting elected in November. They might even be correct in that assessment. The problem, of course, is that this narrative of Democrats making life easier for criminals is not supported by actual facts.

New “Big Line: 2022” Updates

With all of the fundraising reports from 2021 now available, we took a moment to make some adjustments to The Big Line: 2022. Here’s a brief synopsis of what changed (and what didn’t):

 

U.S. SENATE

Incumbent Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet remains the clear favorite here, so the only movement is on the Republican side. You can argue whether or not State Rep. Ron Hanks is a clear threat to Bennet given his fundraising troubles, but Hanks is following the same script that won Darryl Glenn the GOP Senate nomination in 2016. Gino Campana and Joe O’Dea look to have the most resources of all the Republican candidates, which puts them in the best position to attract undecided voters in June.

Eli Bremer and Deborah Flora drop into a lower tier after last week’s Senate debate in Lakewood showed that they don’t have anything interesting to say nor a clear strategy moving forward. Hanks, Campana, Bremer, and Flora are all going the State Assembly route for ballot access; there’s probably only room for two of them.

 

GOVERNOR

No real movement here. Hiedi Heidi Ganahl is still Hiedi Heidi Ganahl.

 

CO-03

This race will likely be decided in the June Republican Primary between Rep. Lauren “Q*Bert” Boebert and State Sen. Don Coram. Democrat Don Valdez has seen his fundraising numbers drop off significantly, while Sol Sandoval continues to spend as much money as she brings in to her campaign; both Democrats are just treading water at this point.

 

CO-07

Brittany Pettersen has cleared the Democratic field and is well-positioned to win this race. On the Republican side, State Rep. Colin Larson is probably not running, but some big Trump donor named Timothy Reichert has stepped into the fray.

 

CO-08

While the race in CO-07 seems to be getting clearer, the opposite is taking place in Colorado’s newest congressional district. Fundraising numbers for the top five hopefuls were pretty similar at the end of 2021. Both the Democratic and Republican Primaries are shaping up to be close fights. Keep an eye on Weld County Commissioner Lori Saine; if she can maintain her fundraising efforts, she’ll be in good shape to bring home the right-wing base in June. 

 

Republicans Finally Get a Candidate for Attorney General

John Kellner (left) poses with George Brauchler, his predecessor in both the 18th Judicial District and the race for AG.

With five days remaining in the first month of 2022, Colorado Republicans at last finished filling out their statewide candidate brackets. Recently-elected 18th Judicial District District Attorney John Kellner “announced” today that he will run for Attorney General in hopes of ousting incumbent Democrat Phil Weiser.

We put “announced” in quotations because, well, this was a strange way to kick off a campaign: Kellner made his candidacy official in the last paragraph of an Op-Ed published at 1:00 am behind the paywall of the publication formerly known as the Colorado Statesman.

This is about as effective as Kellner standing in his front lawn in the middle of the night yelling out, “I’m running for Attorney General!” But, hey, at least Republicans have someone to run for the top law enforcement position in Colorado.

If you’re not familiar with Kellner, you shouldn’t feel lonely. Kellner was first elected in 2020 by a very narrow margin. His opponent in that race, Democrat Amy Padden, noted that Kellner isn’t even halfway through his first term in office:

As we noted in December, Kellner had been going back and forth on whether or not to run for the Republican nomination for Attorney General after multiple potential GOP candidates — including Scott Gessler, Mark Waller, and George Brauchler — had repeatedly refused entreaties to enter the race themselves. It’s understandable that a Republican would be reluctant to challenge Weiser, who has already raised a record-breaking $2.7 million for his re-election campaign and has been a vocal leader on a number of important issues. It doesn’t help that the rest of the GOP ticket is a disaster, starting at the top with Hiedi Heidi Ganahl’s silly campaign for governor.

In 2018, Democrats swept the four major statewide constitutional offices in Colorado for the first time in modern history. In 2022, Republicans will counter with Ganahl for Governor; a guy with one year in public office under his belt for AG; a State Treasurer candidate who has lost four of his last five races (Lang Sias); and a challenger for Secretary of State (Pam Anderson) who is petitioning her way onto the Primary ballot because her belief that the 2020 Presidential election was not fraudulent doesn’t sit well with the Trumpy Republican base in Colorado.

Yikes.

Get More Smarter on Thursday (January 6)

One year ago today, something very bad happened and it’s still too soon to joke about it. Let’s Get More Smarter anyway. 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 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 

► President Joe Biden spoke this morning on the anniversary of the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol seeking to overturn his victory in the 2020 elections. Politico:

President Joe Biden on Thursday marked one year since his predecessor’s supporters besieged the Capitol with a pointed rebuke of the violence — and a declaration that Donald Trump bears “singular responsibility” for the attack.

“His bruised ego matters more to him than our democracy, our Constitution,” Biden said of the former president. Trump, he added, is “not just a former president. He’s a defeated former president, defeated by a margin of over seven million of your votes in a full and free and fair election.”

…Calling out Trump and his GOP allies marks a notable tonal shift for Biden. Since taking office, he’s largely held off on sharp barbs toward the foe he could face again in 2024. But Biden hewed to one of his post-election conventions on Thursday: He did not use Trump’s name while criticizing the former president.

Colorado Public Radio’s Caitlyn Kim spoke with Rep. Jason Crow, credited with bravery by his colleagues in the face of the chaos of that day, and other Democratic members of Congress (unsurprisingly, Republicans like Rep. Lauren Boebert weren’t available to talk):

Crow said that as the House was locked down, his brain went into “Ranger mode.”

“I wasn’t really allowing myself to kind of process or think about it,” he said. “I was just triaging the information and trying to figure out our way out, because at that moment, we were trapped and surrounded by a violent mob.”

A famous photo shows Crow holding the hand of a panicked looking Representative Susan Wild of Pennsylvania, comforting her as she lays back on the floor of the gallery.

On the floor below, Rep. Joe Neguse, who had been tapped to help lead the arguments for the Democrats that day, spent those chaotic minutes reaching out to his family.

For more on the anniversary of the January 6th insurection, Axios recaps the role of ex-CU professor John Eastman and local attorney Jenna Ellis in drafting plans to overturn the 2020 presidential elections on January 20th. Here’s the latest updates on Coloradans facing charges for their role in the violence at the U.S. Capitol courtesy Westword.

 

► President Biden is headed to Colorado tomorrow to meet with Gov. Jared Polis and see firsthand the devastation from the December 30th Marshall Fire, the most destructive in Colorado history in terms of homes destroyed. Denver Post:

Accompanying Gov. Jared Polis and Democratic U.S. Rep Joe Neguse, D-Lafayette, the president will survey the damage and discuss “urgently needed federal support,” according to a news release from Neguse’s office…

“We cannot expect our communities to bear the burden of this disaster on their own,” Neguse said in a statement Wednesday. “We must bring the full force of the federal government to bear as our communities work to rebuild and recover.”

Over $25 million has been raised to support fire victims despite crass attempts to politicize the relief efforts.

 

As the drama over the Build Back Better legislation continues in D.C., Sen. John Hickenlooper joined with a group of Democratic Senators insisting that climate change funds be preserved in the rewrite of the bill currently underway.

 

Meanwhile, the renewed push to get voting rights legislation through the Senate by any means necessary continues.

 

Click below to keep learning stuff…

 

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Republicans Can’t Find an Attorney General Candidate

Phil Weiser

There may be no political office in Colorado that better illustrates our state’s changes over the last decade than that of Attorney General.

For 21 of the last 30 years, a Republican served as the chief law enforcement officer in Colorado. In 2022, the GOP may all but concede the office to a Democrat.

But for a six-year interruption by Democrat Ken Salazar (1999-2005), Republicans in recent history held a pretty firm grip on the Attorney General’s office. Gale Norton (1991-99), John Suthers (2005-15) and Cynthia Coffman (2015-19) kept the AG’s chair warm for the GOP until Democrat Phil Weiser easily defeated Republican George Brauchler in 2018 (Suthers, in fact, is the second-longest serving AG in state history).

Weiser is running for re-election in 2022 and raising record sums of money for his campaign. Through Q3 of this year, Weiser had raised $2.2 million for the cycle, ending the month of September with more than $2 million in the bank — a feat made all the more impressive considering the $625 contribution limits for the race.

Republicans, meanwhile, don’t even have a potential candidate for the job. For months, it was rumored that 18th JD District Attorney John Kellner would likely be the Republican candidate for AG. But from what we hear, Kellner recently decided not to seek the GOP nomination in 2022. Last summer, former state lawmaker and prosecutor Mark Waller made a similar decision to skip the AG’s race after months of deliberation. Former U.S. Attorney Jason Dunn, who seemed like the most logical 2022 choice for Republicans, closed the door on that idea earlier this year.

Republicans will surely nominate someone for AG in 2022, but it’s looking increasingly likely that the GOP won’t be spending much time, money, or energy on defeating Weiser. The Republican Attorney General’s Association (RAGA) has the money to swoop in and fund most of the media buys for a GOP candidate. At some point, however, the lift just becomes too big to make sense; RAGA would have to foot the bill for just about everything given the lack of time for a GOP candidate to raise money.

It is not illogical that Republicans haven’t found a real candidate for AG. Weiser has proven to be an active and adept AG, leaving no obvious narrative to spin for why he should be voted out. The fact that Weiser will likely add another big chunk of money to his warchest in Q4 makes a serious challenge that much more daunting.

If Republicans don’t present a viable candidate for Attorney General by mid-January, it probably means that the GOP is just going to throw some schmuck to the wolves in order to prevent Weiser from having the 2022 ballot all to himself. This isn’t a scenario many political observers would have predicted a decade ago, but that’s the new reality for Republicans in Colorado.

Don’t Do It, Lang!

Lang Sias (right) with GOP gubernatorial candidate Walker Stapleton in July 2018.

Colorado Republicans are having a difficult time finding candidates willing to run for statewide office in 2022. Since the GOP can’t manage to find anyone new who is willing to embrace the base and turn off everyone else, they are now looking at ways to recycle.

We’re just 14 months away from the 2022 election, and Republicans still need candidates for Attorney General, State Treasurer, and Secretary of State. As we’ve said many times in this space, the Republican bench in Colorado is a phone booth after two massive Democratic wave years that saw topline candidates pummeled by an average of 10 points. The candidates that Republicans DO have are a disaster, which certainly doesn’t help recruitment efforts; we wouldn’t want to share a ticket with Heidi Ganahl and Eli Bremer, either.

There haven’t been many rumors of potential candidates for Attorney General, where incumbent Democrat Phil Weiser has already raised more than $1.7 million for his re-election campaign. Republicans thought they had a candidate for Secretary of State (SOS) in former Mesa County Commissioner Rose Pugliese, but she decided against a run in part because of the Tina Peters disaster. Term-limited Larimer County Clerk and Recorder Angela Meyers is now rumored to be looking at challenging incumbent Democrat Jena Griswold, assuming Peters doesn’t run herself.

That leaves us with the office of State Treasurer, where the GOP is apparently going back to a well that has already turned up dry multiple times. That’s right, friends: Lang Sias still isn’t done getting kicked in the face by Colorado voters.

If you’re not familiar with Sias, that’s probably because he hasn’t had much success in Colorado politics. The 2020 election marked the first time in a decade that Sias was not a candidate for public office.

Sias has sought elected office in Colorado five times for four different seats. His only November victory came in 2016, when he was an “incumbent” State Representative by virtue of having been selected by a Republican vacancy committee a year earlier. Since 2010, Sias has lost races for State Senate (twice), Congress, and Lieutenant Governor; he didn’t even make it past the Primary Election in half of those contests.

The beatings will continue until Lang Sias improves.

 

So why would Sias return to the political stage in 2022? Because he…can? Honestly, we have no idea.

There are certainly some Republican political consultants who are telling Sias that he can totally beat Democratic incumbent Dave Young, which might be music to Lang’s ambitious ears. Of course, some of those consultants are probably the same people who told Sias that he could be a State Senator or a Congressman (they are also the same people who will read this and tell Sias that “Democrats are afraid of you,” as though anyone would be scared of a candidate with his track record of failure).

By most accounts, Sias seems to be a likable guy with big dreams but limited charisma who is more interesting to Republican power brokers than he is to Colorado voters. If Sias runs for Treasurer and can avoid a Republican Primary, maybe he can change his political fortunes. History would suggest otherwise.

We’re all guilty, from time to time, of listening to what we WANT to hear at the expense of what we NEED to hear. In Sias’ case, what he needs to hear is this: Maybe you should try something else.

Weiser Announces Indictments in Elijah McClain Investigation

Elijah McClain

As The Denver Post reports:

Three Aurora police officers and two paramedics will face criminal charges, including manslaughter, in connection with the 2019 death of Elijah McClain.

A state grand jury indicted Aurora police officers Nathan Woodyard and Randy Roedema, former officer Jason Rosenblatt and paramedics Jeremy Cooper and Lt. Peter Cichuniec on 32 counts, according to an indictment made public Wednesday by Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser.

The indictment comes just over two years after McClain, 23, died after being violently detained by the officers and injected with the sedative ketamine by paramedics.

The charges brought by the grand jury mark the first time the officers and paramedics involved in McClain’s death have faced any punishment for their actions that night.

Congressman Jason Crow (D-Aurora) issued the following statement after news of the indictments became official:

“While nothing can bring Elijah McClain back, this is a critical step in ensuring that justice is served on his behalf. I stand with Elijah’s family, friends, and community who mourn his loss. Today we join the community in seeking greater accountability and justice.”

McClain was killed on August 24, 2019 while walking home from a convenience store in Aurora.

“The Big Line: 2022” Updates (August 2021)

Back in June, we went through the five statewide offices that will be on the ballot in 2022 in an attempt to provide some clarity about who (on the Republican side) might be running for what in Colorado. Two months later, the 2022 election situation (and The Big Line) remains what you might charitably call, “fluid” for the GOP. Here’s a look at where things stand as of today with each of the five big statewide races…

 

En garde!

U.S. SENATE

Former El Paso County Republican Party Chairperson Eli Bremer made it official earlier this month that he will seek the GOP nomination for U.S. Senate in 2022, with his eyes on incumbent Democrat Michael Bennet next November. Bremer is virtually unknown to most Colorado voters and isn’t even a slam dunk choice for more politically-astute Republicans, but he’s probably a better option for the GOP than Juli Henry, strange newcomer Erik Aadland or Peter Yu, who ran a no-hope campaign in CO-02 in 2020 before losing to incumbent Democrat Joe Neguse.

The big remaining question for Republicans is whether someone else might join the GOP field for Senate, with right-wing radio host/attorney Dan Caplis still pondering a campaign of his own. Caplis is certainly not more likely to defeat Bennet in a General Election, but he could make the Republican Primary more interesting.

 

Bottom Line: If Republicans had a good candidate to run for U.S. Senate in 2022, that person would likely already be in the race. Bennet wasn’t going to be a national target for Republicans anyway — not after former Sen. Cory Gardner face-planted last November — so the eventual GOP nominee is essentially just the person who will finish in second place 15 months from now.   

 

Heidi Ganahl

GOVERNOR

Republicans know that they aren’t going to beat incumbent Democrat Jared Polis in 2022, but somebody has to try. Former Parker Mayor Greg Lopez has been running for Governor since [checks calendar] August 2019, but his ceiling isn’t much higher than the third place finish he had in the 2018 GOP gubernatorial primary.

University of Colorado Regent Heidi Ganahl is the lone remaining Republican statewide officeholder in Colorado. She has been teasing a potential run for Governor since late 2020. After flirting with the possibility of running for State Treasurer instead, it appears that Ganahl will indeed jump into the race (officially) sometime in early September.

 

Bottom Line: This is Polis’ race to lose. Ganahl’s candidacy doesn’t change that.

 

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Updating “The Big Line: 2022” and Statewide Colorado Races

The Republican bench in Colorado can fit inside a phone booth, which is a big reason why 2022 has been such a difficult election cycle to predict for the GOP. That doesn’t mean we won’t give it a try.

Last week, Ernest Luning of the publication formerly known as the Colorado Statesman updated the rumor mill on potential statewide Republican candidates in 2022. That gives us as good of a news peg as any to update “The Big Line: 2022.” Here’s how things look for the five statewide races that will be on the ballot in Colorado…

 

U.S. SENATE

Sen. Michael Bennet

Incumbent Democrat Michael Bennet is the first U.S. Senator from Colorado to even seek a third term in office since Gordon Allott in 1966 (remember to credit Colorado Pols when you get this question right while playing “Obscure Colorado Trivia Pursuit”). Bennet dispatched then-District Attorney Ken Buck in 2010 before lucking out with Darryl Glenn as his Republican opponent in 2016, and the trend toward terrible GOP opponents seems likely to continue. 

A few Republicans have officially filed paperwork to run in 2022, including people named Juli Henry, Peter Yu, and Erik Aadland. Since Donald Trump will be “re-appointed” as President before any of these names are likely to end up in the U.S. Senate, let’s just move along…

Former El Paso County GOP Chairman Eli Bremer indicated his interest in a Senate run back in February (as first reported by Luning); that trial balloon was met with a collective shrug from Republicans, but Bremer hasn’t given up on this dream just yet. Aside from Bremer, two names seem to be popping up more than others for Republicans: Clarice Navarro and Dan Caplis (no, seriously). 

Navarro is a former State Representative from Pueblo who resigned her seat in 2017 to take a job in the Trump administration as the Colorado Farm Service Agency’s state executive director. Navarro currently works as Rep. Lauren “Q*Bert” Boebert’s District Director, which appears to be a fairly irrelevant position. Boebert political advisers like Laura Carno are advising Navarro on making a bid for Senate, and Navarro is taking a close look at running from what we hear.

Caplis is a silly right-wing radio host and ambulance-chasing defense lawyer who has been threatening to run for one office or another for more than a decade. Last fall, Caplis was talking about challenging Gov. Jared Polis in 2022, but he seems to have since changed his focus to the U.S. Senate. Normally we’d just ignore Caplis, but from what we hear, he is actively trying to put together a staff and is willing to front the money for salaries, which is more than can be said for any other potential Republican candidate at this point.

Bottom Line: After Democrat John Hickenlooper’s convincing 2020 Senate win, national Republicans aren’t going to target Bennet in 2022. Whoever emerges as the Republican nominee will have to do most of the work themselves. Bennet is safe here.

 

 

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Brauchler Promotes Vote Fraud Video & Doesn’t Reject Guest’s Claim of Fraud in Colo Elections

(Not under oath – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

After partnering with the new conservative organization FEC United during the election season, Colorado Republicans are now forced to choose sides between their own party’s officials and the conspiracy theorist leader of the grassroots group, Joe Oltmann.

Oltmann appeared on George Brauchler’s radio show and claimed that not only was the presidential election stolen, but that there was “ginormous” corruption and fraud in Arapahoe, Denver and Jefferson county elections.

Oltmann was recounting his anger over what he saw as Congressman and Colorado Republican Party Chair Ken Buck’s implicit dismissal of local voter fraud during an “election security” panel discussion with three Republican clerks last week.

“This is the reason why people don’t trust Republican leadership,” Oltmann said to Brauchler. “It’s because they don’t question things, because you can explain it away in an hour, an hour and a half. Right?”

Brauchler, who’s the sitting District Attorney for the 18th District, responded by sharing his experience touring Arapahoe and Denver’s vote centers and said he saw “a significant amount of oversight” that made the election “pretty darn safe.”

Oltmann, who is a paying advertiser of Brauchler’s show, replied with a litany of unsubstantiated but very specific claims about fraud. He even alleged fraud in Colorado’s 2018 election, saying he believed Brauchler actually won the race for Attorney General. Democrat Phil Weiser defeated Brauchler by six points, a margin of over 160,000 votes, in an election administered and certified by Republican Secretary of State Wayne Williams.

“With all due respect George, you’re wrong,” Oltmann countered. “I think you won the election in 2018. I think the amount of corruption that happens in Arapahoe, Denver, Jefferson County specifically is ginormous. And I think that we have to start looking at how they actually have these audit systems so they can do full audits where they took out samples and say, OK, did this person vote for this person, goes vote for this person? But I think that if you do a hand count, especially this year, you will find a drastic change in what is the election results for Jefferson, Denver and Arapahoe County versus what the Scanners 4.0 tabulation system for Dominion shows.”

Brauchler never disputed or questioned Oltmann’s claims, instead returning the conversation to the false allegations of fraud in Georgia he promoted to start the segment. Those claims had already been publicly debunked in the days prior to the radio show. Brauchler later offered to invite Oltmann back on the show along with former Arapahoe County Clerk Matt Crane, (a Republican who administered his county’s portion of the state’s 2018 attorney general election which Oltmann alleges Brauchler rightly won). Crane has publicly supported Dominion voting machines and the Colorado election process as secure.

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The GMS Podcast Gets More Weiser

Attorney General Phil Weiser (D)

This week on The Get More Smarter Podcast, we get more Weiser thanks to an interview with Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser.

Your hosts Jason Bane and Ian Silverii talk with Weiser about his time serving as a clerk for the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and his thoughts on how a new SCOTUS confirmation should proceed.

We also talk about what looks to be another blue wave in Colorado; President Trump and Cory Gardner using the same fake healthcare playbook; and Rep. Ken Buck’s persistence to make an ass of himself at any and every opportunity.

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

Questions? Comments? Complaints? Hit us up at AngryRants@getmoresmarter.com.

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Get More Smarter on Friday (June 26)

Don’t look now, but we’re rounding the bend of June and rolling into July already. 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/visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show or The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter.

 

BECAUSE CORONAVIRUS…

*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

 

***If you still have a Primary Election ballot at home, don’t put it in the mail! Go to GoVoteColorado.com to find a ballot drop off location near you.*** 

 

It might still be the first wave. Maybe it’s a second wave. The number doesn’t really matter, because the important part is that the COVID-19 is still growing in the United States with 40,000 new cases being reported. Texas is seeing a huge spike in coronavirus cases, as is Arizona — two Republican-led states in the southwest that were too anxious to reopen without making sure it was safe to do so.

The Washington Post explains how Arizona lost control of the pandemic:

Maricopa County, which includes Phoenix, is recording as many as 2,000 cases a day, “eclipsing the New York City boroughs even on their worst days,” warned a Wednesday brief by disease trackers at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, which observed, “Arizona has lost control of the epidemic.”

But physicians, public health experts, advocates and local officials say the crisis was predictable in Arizona, where local ordinances requiring masks were forbidden until Gov. Doug Ducey (R) reversed course last week. State leaders did not take the necessary precautions or model safe behavior, these observers maintain, even in the face of compelling evidence and repeated pleas from authoritative voices.

“We have failed on so many levels,” said Dana Marie Kennedy, the Arizona director of AARP, who said her organization has yet to receive a response to four letters outlining concerns to the governor. She is working on a fifth.

Neither the governor’s office nor the state health department responded to requests for comment.

Florida — another Republican-led state — is slowing down its reopening process because of a surge in cases; on Friday, Florida reported nearly 9,000 new cases (the state’s previous daily high was 5,500).

Colorado has also seen an uptick in coronavirus cases, but not nearly to the extend of neighboring states. Within Colorado, El Paso County is one of the worst-hit areas; it’s not a coincidence that El Paso is a solid-red Republican county.

At the White House today, Vice President Mike Pence will provide a media briefing on the nation’s coronavirus response…the first such briefing IN TWO MONTHS.

President Trump, meanwhile, is apparently watching an entirely different movie than everyone else:

 

President Trump is hemhoraging support. As a new NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll finds, Trump’s disapproval ratings have reached an all-time high:

Trump’s approval rating sits at just 40% overall, while a record 58% disapprove.

What’s more, a whopping 49% of voters “strongly disapprove” of the job Trump is doing. That kind of intensity of disapproval is a record never before seen for this president or any past one. [Pols emphasis]

So much winning! The #1 most disliked President ever!

 

Sticking with the subject of political polling, 9News released new data on Thursday showing that the race for the Democratic U.S. Senate nomination is pretty much over. According to data from SurveyUSA, former Gov. John Hickenlooper is a 2-to-1 favorite over former House Speaker Andrew Romanoff ahead of Tuesday’s Primary Election.

 

Hickenlooper is probably not going to beat Romanoff by 30 points, but as the saying goes, you can tell the “fat lady” to start warming up.

 

Political suicide. On Thursday the Trump administration announced another boneheaded decision that one Republican consultant called “pretty dumb” earlier this week. As The Washington Post reports:

The Trump administration asked the Supreme Court late on Thursday to overturn the Affordable Care Act, telling the court that “the entire ACA must fall.” The administration’s argument comes as hundreds of thousands of Americans have turned to the government program for health care as they’ve lost jobs during the coronavirus pandemic.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) responded to the brief by saying there is “no moral excuse for the Trump Administration’s disastrous efforts to take away Americans’ health care.” Dismantling the ACA would leave more than 23 million people without healthcare plans, according to a recent analysis by the liberal-leaning think tank Center for American Progress.

“President Trump and the Republicans’ campaign to rip away the protections and benefits of the Affordable Care Act in the middle of the coronavirus crisis is an act of unfathomable cruelty,” Pelosi, who on Wednesday filed a bill to expand the ACA, said in a statement.

Again, the Trump administration is making a big show of trying to take away health insurance for millions of people in the midst of an historic global pandemic that is pummeling the United States. Is Trump trying to lose in 2020?

This is also bad news for Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma), who has repeatedly voiced support for destroying the ACA through the courts.

 

If you’re looking for political news that isn’t about Coronavirus, it’s available right after the jump…

 

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Doing Cory’s Job: Weiser Joins Lawsuit Against Trump’s Wall

President Trump and Sen. Cory Gardner.

The Hill:

A coalition of 19 states is suing the Trump administration over its new diversion of $3.8 billion in defense funds to the border wall, arguing that the move is unconstitutional and ignores possible environmental impacts…

This month, the Pentagon informed Congress that it would transfer an additional $3.8 billion to be used for the wall, with money coming from weapons programs.

The 19 states are arguing that the new allocation is unconstitutional because it violates the separation of powers as well as Congress’s power of the purse.

The case’s introduction:

The States of California, Colorado, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Wisconsin, the Commonwealths of Massachusetts and Virginia, and Attorney General Dana Nessel on behalf of the People of Michigan (collectively, “Plaintiff States”) bring this action to protect their residents, National Guard units, natural resources, and sovereign and economic interests from the harm caused by President Donald J. Trump’s flagrant disregard of fundamental separation of powers principles engrained in the United States Constitution. For the second consecutive year, the Trump Administration has acted contrary to the will of Congress by redirecting billions of dollars appropriated by Congress for Department of Defense (“DOD”) projects toward building a wall on the United States-Mexico border. This includes the diversion of funds for military projects in the Plaintiff States and vital equipment for the States’ respective National Guards. Defendants must be enjoined from carrying out President Trump’s unconstitutional and unlawful scheme.

As readers will recall, the diversion of previously appropriated funding for Department of Defense projects, including millions for projects in Colorado, was the tipping point for the Denver Post’s editorial board to retract their 2014 endorsement of Sen. Cory Gardner:

Gardner was not among the 12 Republicans who joined Democrats in rejecting President Donald Trump’s use of a national emergency declaration to allocate funds to a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border…

This is a bogus emergency that takes executive over-reach to an extreme not seen even under President Barack Obama. Trump’s declaration is an abuse of his power, a direct overturning of Congress’ deliberate decision to pass a federal budget without funding for a wall.

Put simply this is a constitutional crisis and one of Colorado’s two senators has failed the test.

In this case, Sen. Gardner failed to stand up to Donald Trump, on a question that forced him to make a defining choice between loyalty to Trump and the interests of the state he represents. In the end Gardner meekly fell in line behind the President, despite having previously criticized both the supposed need for a border wall and the means by which Trump circumvented congressional authority to fund the project.

Now it’s up to Attorney General Phil Weiser to do what should have been Cory Gardner’s job.