Of Whores and Asswipes: The Colorado GOP Fractures Further

The Colorado Republican Party was already in the midst of a massive civil war even before the 2022 election inflicted unthinkable losses on the GOP. What has happened since has taken this internal conflict to an entirely new level. It’s like Infinity War, but in this case there are no heroes — only villains.

In case you missed it, Democrats won every statewide race last month by wide margins and added to supermajorities in the state legislature, where 69 of 100 total elected representatives now carry a ‘D’ next to their name. Democrat Adam Frisch even came within a few hundred votes of defeating Rep. Lauren Boebert in CO-03, a district that Donald Trump carried by 9 points in 2020. The Bluenami that swept through Colorado has resulted in some very grim assessments from longtime Republican fixtures. Soon-to-be former State Rep. Colin Larson of Jefferson County — who was in line to become House Minority Leader before he lost his own re-election bid to Democrat Tammy Storycalled the 2022 election an “extinction-level event” for the Republican Party in Colorado.

So, naturally, right-wing Republicans have decided that the only way forward is to lurch even further to the right. A group of very loud and very angry Republicans rallied on Wednesday outside a Boot Barn store in Greenwood Village to voice scream their frustrations with the Colorado Republican Party and embattled Chairperson Kristi Burton Brown (KBB).

Anil Mathai, ranting outside the Boot Barn on Wednesday.

The “whores” and “asswipes” comments came from Anil Mathai, a former Adams County GOP chairperson, who blamed unnamed political consultants for taking their money and leaving Republicans with no victories to celebrate.

“We have a Republican Party that is full of whores. They listened to the consultants, right? They keep telling you about messaging, right? They are liars — they have done something different. They have not held to the Republican platform, which is conservative. They’ve not held to the U.S. Constitution. And then you wonder why these asswipes can’t win a race.” [Pols emphasis]

This attack on Republican consultants is not without merit, of course, and activists are backing up their barking with official complaints. A Republican named Marcie Little filed a campaign finance complaint even before Election Day accusing a bunch of establishment Republicans of a multitude of misdeeds. The complaint specifically accuses Larson, Restore Colorado Leadership Fund (527), Restore Colorado Leadership Fund IEC, Frank McNulty, Square State Strategy Group, LLC, Daniel Cole, Cole Communications, and Victors Canvassing of various campaign finance violations [Marcie Little Complaint (PDF)].

But let’s get back to the Boot Barn, where Ernest Luning has more for the publication formerly known as the Colorado Statesman:

“Our Republican Party leadership has failed us,” said Aaron Wood, an organizer of a press conference held across the street from state GOP headquarters in Greenwood Village. [Pols emphasis]

Wood, founder of the conservative Freedom Fathers group, and a dozen others took turns speaking from the bed of a pickup truck in the parking lot of a Western-wear retailer as roughly 100 supporters braved sub-freezing temperatures to hear their pleas to restore the state’s Republican Party to its conservative foundations.

Speaker after speaker at the press conference blasted state GOP chair Kristi Burton Brown, whose two-year term running the state party ends in March.

Through a spokesman, Burton Brown declined to comment. Earlier on Wednesday, she said she plans to announce by the end of December whether she’s seeking a second term as state chair.

Tina Peters is…inevitable.

[Burton Brown was also busy on Wednesday issuing a legally-dubious demand for Frisch to “withdraw” as a candidate from CO-03 in order to prevent a MANDATORY RECOUNT as prescribed by Colorado statute. Frisch has already conceded to Boebert, but rather than staying quiet and enjoying one of the GOP’s rare victories, KBB felt compelled to vomit out a bunch of nonsense.]

In short, right-wing Republicans in Colorado have convinced themselves that the best way to win back voters in our state is to nominate candidates who are MORE extreme than the lot that got pummeled in November. This is sort of like trying to put out a fire by covering it with matches, but it’s also difficult to completely dismiss the idea considering just how poorly Republicans performed in 2022.

The first step for the right-wing base is finding a new leader. While KBB has apparently not yet decided whether she will seek re-election as State Party Chair in 2023 — and we have no idea how she could possibly make an argument for another term — our “Infinity War” theme continues with news that Mesa County Clerk and Recorder Tina Peters is interested in the job because she believes that Colorado is actually a “red state” (recent election results from 2022, 2020, 2018, and 2016 notwithstanding).

“We are not a blue state. We’re not even a purple state. We are a red state.”

     — Political Supervillain Tina Peters

 

As Luning reports:

A potential candidate for the party position blamed Burton Brown for Republican losses in the November election.

“Our country’s being taken away from us,” said Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters, who provided the pickup truck the speakers used as a podium. “It starts with the treachery of the GOP in our state. You know, there’s these speakers that are going to talk about the infractions of Kristi Burton Brown, the inactivity of Kristi Burton Brown, to stand up and inform the chairs in every county on how to come against the election fraud.” …

Peters told Colorado Politics after she addressed the crowd that she’s open to running for state party chair.

“If the people ask me to, and if it’s the right thing, then I will do it,” she said. “But it has to come from the people.” [Pols emphasis]

Outgoing State Rep. Dave Williams — who lost a 2022 Primary Election in CO-05 to incumbent Doug Lamborn — is also considering a bid for State Party Chair. Former congressional candidate Erik Aadland is thinking about it as well, since he knows so much about how to win an election and all. But if Peters runs, she’s the odds-on favorite to win; the people who gave her topline on the SOS Primary ballot following last Spring’s Republican State Assembly are the same group of people who are going to show up to cast a vote for Party Chair.

 

 

“Peace Out!”

Peters has probably already decided to run for Chair; what she told Luning is basically the same thing she said before announcing her bid for Secretary of State in February. But she’s also going to be busy next year when her election tampering case goes to trial; coincidentally on Wednesday, news came out that a second former Peters employee named Sandra Brown has made a deal with prosecutors to testify against her old boss. It seems ridiculous that Peters might be running the Colorado Republican Party from a prison cell in 2024…but again, can things really get worse than they were in 2022?

If you’re waiting for some adults to get involved and prevent right-wing activists from blowing up what was already a box full of ashes, you had better get comfortable. Republican State Sen. Bob Rankin of Carbondale announced today that he is resigning from the State Senate as of January 10th. Rankin and former Republican State Sen. Kevin Priola were possibly the last remaining rationale actors in the upper chamber of the state legislature. Rankin is bouncing out entirely, while Priola decided to change parties and become a Democrat. If Rankin and Priola don’t even want to be Republican lawmakers, what sane person would want to be the State GOP chairperson for the next two years?

Colorado Republicans might have been able to prevent this timeline from becoming reality if they had clearly and forcibly rejected Trump and MAGA-ism after the Jan. 6, 2021 insurrection. Instead, they allowed someone like KBB to ride her support for election deniers all the way to becoming Chair of the State Republican Party. If you’re shocked that right-wing Republicans are now saying that KBB “hates America,” then you really haven’t been paying attention.

Once you give the inmates the keys to the asylum, you can’t very well expect them to lock up.

Winners and Losers of the 2022 Election (Part 2)

As we wrote on Thursday, we had been waiting to post our annual post-election “Winners and Losers” list until we actually knew all of the election winners and losers (we’re looking at you, Lauren Boebert).

Click here for Part 1 (The “Winners”) of our end-of-cycle analysis, or read on for Part 2 “The Losers.”

 

The 2022 “Extinction Level Event” for Republicans

 

The Losingest Losers of 2022

 

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The Get More Smarter Podcast Breaks Down the Bluenami

This week on the Get More Smarter Podcast, your hosts Jason Bane and Ian Silverii talk once again with Seth Masket, Director of the Center on American Politics at the University of Denver, to break down the massive Bluenami that overtook Colorado on Election Day.

And, no, we still don’t know who won the race in CO-03 between Republican Lauren Boebert and Democrat Adam Frisch.

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

Questions? Comments? Complaints? Let us have it at AngryRants@getmoresmarter.com. Or send emails to jason@getmoresmarter.com or ian@getmoresmarter.com.

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Colorado Republicans Lie About Fentanyl To The Bitter End

 

Last night, 9NEWS’ Marshall Zelinger took aim at yet another egregiously false campaign message, this time from the Colorado Republican Committee itself–with a similar degree of mendacity as GOP CD-8 candidate Barb Kirkmeyer flat-out lying in a campaign ad that Colorado Democrats “legalized fentanyl,” this shareable graphic identifies Attorney General Phil Weiser and CD-8 Democratic candidate Yadira Caraveo as “pro-fentanyl politicians.”

It was another opportunity for 9NEWS to point out as they did with Kirkmeyer’s ad that these are not unintentional misstatements but knowing and deliberate falsehoods, thus elevating the proper descriptor from “false” to “lie”–a word that journalists are very reluctant to use unless the conclusion is unavoidable.

Over the weekend, the Denver Post’s Seth Klamann finally got Kirkmeyer’s campaign on the record with respect to their false ad, and it’s clear from spokesman Alan Philp’s response that the campaign is fully aware and unapologetic about their totally indefensible lie that Democrats “legalized fentanyl.”

Fentanyl isn’t — and hasn’t been — legalized in Colorado. The 2019 bill made it a misdemeanor to possess 4 grams or less of several substances, including fentanyl, but it remained a crime to have any amount of it. That bill also did not change penalties for dealing drugs — that remains a felony. Democrats stress these nuances but Republicans see it as less an argument over facts than semantics. Asked about the ad’s inaccuracy, Kirkmeyer spokesman and consultant Alan Philp said the campaign was “glad” to haggle over fentanyl being “technically” illegal. [Pols emphasis]

Philp’s brazen contempt for the truth is fully evident in this response. This is not a question of “semantics.” A strategic decision was made to tell an outright lie, based on the assumption that any debate over fentanyl was a winner for Republicans. In Philp’s view, even being called a liar is acceptable because they consider themselves in control of the narrative.

The only question now is whether voters will reward the exceptionally deceptive message Colorado Republicans are shamelessly doubling down on in the closing hours of this election. To the extent that voters do, it normalizes and encourages the Donald Trump-inspired strategy of freely detaching campaign rhetoric from reality.

It would be better for the country in a long-term sense if this kind of behavior was not rewarded.

Why Republicans Can’t Have Nice Things (Like Election Victories)

Elephant fight!

The Republican Civil War in Colorado will not pause for elections.

While candidates and volunteers were working hard on GOTV efforts this weekend, El Paso County Republicans were busy spending several hours yelling at each other about some other really dumb thing. As Ernest Luning reports for the publication formerly known as the Colorado Statesman:

By an overwhelming margin, members of the county party’s central committee approved a resolution to “censure and condemn in the strongest possible terms” more than 30 current and former elected officials, GOP nominees and party volunteers associated with Peak Republicans, an effort launched this spring by local Republicans who said they couldn’t count on the county party to get behind Republican candidates.

The resolution, spearheaded by El Paso County GOP chairwoman Vickie Tonkins, ordered the Republicans to “cease and desist,” claiming the Peak Republicans aren’t allowed to call themselves Republicans, and demanded they issue a public apology. If they don’t, the resolution added, the county party wants the state GOP to step in and exercise its legal right to prevent any organization from using the word “Republican” in its name without permission.

We wrote last month about this latest idiotic argument that stems from the heavy-handed political tactics of the El Paso County Republican Party, which is full of paramilitary weirdos and fervent election deniers under the heavy hand of Chairperson Vicki Tonkins. The El Paso GOP has been hemorrhaging support for years and does not tolerate dissent; things regularly get so bad at county party meetings that the Colorado Springs Police Department or the El Paso County Sheriff are called to come restore some semblance of order.

El Paso County Republican Chairwoman Vicki Tonkins.

This current issue revolves around 2022 campaigns worried that the official county party wasn’t doing its job on volunteer coordination and GOTV efforts. Concerned about the ticking election clock, many El Paso County Republicans started their own group to make sure that this important election work was being done for both local and statewide candidates. Campaigns for both Senate hopeful Joe O’Dea and gubernatorial candidate Hiedi Heidi Ganahl have been working with “Peak Republicans” in the last month.

Among those formally censured by the El Paso County GOP on Saturday — for the crime of [checks notes again] using the word “Republican” — were State Sen. Larry Liston; State Reps. Mary Bradfield and Andres Pico; County Commissioners Cami Bremer and Holly Williams; Colorado Springs City Councilman Wayne Williams; and former state lawmakers Lois Landgraf and Kit Roupe. As Luning continues:

Tonkins argued during Saturday’s party meeting that the upstart outfit — run out of an office near Interstate 25 and Garden of the Gods Road — was confusing voters and candidates by “presenting itself” as the county party headquarters, though a lead organizer behind the effort said no one appears to be confused about what they’re doing. [Pols emphasis]

“It’s just a nickname, that’s all it is,” said organizer Jody Richie. The group hasn’t set up a formal organization but is instead acting like a vendor for candidates who want to get their messages out to voters, she said. She added that it appears Tonkins and the county party lack legal standing to tell the Peak Republicans whether or not they can use the name “Republicans,” according to a state law that grants that authority to the state party.

This is not a new complaint about the El Paso County GOP; in 2020, campaigns for former President Donald Trump and then-U.S. Senator Cory Gardner also set up separate local outreach offices.

Dave Williams

Outgoing State Rep. Dave Williams told Luning that this bickering in El Paso County is a continuation of a long-running feud “between the party’s old guard and current county party leadership.” Williams apparently tried dumping the problem on the State Republican Party, to no avail:

“If we’re going to succeed long-term, we do have to figure out how to work together when their side doesn’t win,” Williams added. “What’s disingenuous is they try to play innocent in all this, and that’s not the truth. It takes two to tango. If we really want peace and we really want unity, they’re going to have to step up and demonstrate some leadership…

…[State Republican Party Executive Director] Joe Jackson refuted Williams’ assertion that the state party hadn’t given any direction to the county GOP about its gripe with Peak Republicans.

“It’s unfortunate Rep. Williams feels the need to lie,” Jackson said in a text message to Colorado Politics. “As he well knows, the county party was given guidance to stop their attacks on fellow Republicans and help get out the vote instead. Just because they don’t like the advice doesn’t mean it wasn’t given.” [Pols emphasis]

Gah!

Again, Colorado Springs Republicans spent a good chunk of the last Saturday before Election Day arguing about who gets to say the word “Republican.”

Absolute lunacy.

Master GOP strategist Colin Larson

Elsewhere, Nick Coltrain and Seth Klamann of The Denver Post wrote an early preview of Tuesday’s midterm elections in Colorado that also included some strange quotes from local Republicans.

State Rep. Colin Larson, a Ken Caryl Republican, predicted a “red riptide” in Colorado, rather than a wave. Even 2010 — an infamously disastrous year nationally for Democrats — was blunted here, he said, and the state’s turned bluer in recent years.

Following a string of electoral setbacks and infighting over recent years, Larson said the Republican Party in Colorado has been “lost in the wilderness for a little while.” But he was critical of the Democrats’ singular control of the state in recent years, pointing to crime and the cost of living. He’s confident that a fiscal conservative streak remained here, citing the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights and voters’ refusal to strike it down. A re-focused Republican Party could still make inroads here and shade Colorado purple, he argued, and local legislative races will help signal if that’s possible.

“If Barbara Kirkmeyer wins,” he said, “and we win one or two statewide races, significantly narrow the (Democrats’) House majority, narrow the Senate majority, then we will signal the course has turned.” [Pols emphasis]

Larson is trying to both simultaneously LOWER expectations for Republicans on Tuesday and make a case that a few smaller victories would mean that Colorado is moving to the red column. You’d need to have a minor concussion for this to even begin to make sense.

Over in the other legislative chamber, State Sen. John Cooke is still using the same talking points from 10 years ago:

“If Democrats continue controlling the state senate, then I think Colorado is lost for a generation,” state Sen. John Cooke, the outgoing Republican leader, said. “It’s California, it’s Oregon.”

He predicted a future that’s anathema to many in his party: a kneecapped oil and gas industry; powerful oversight commissions staffed by the governor’s appointees and confirmed by an agreeable senate; a “war” on rural Colorado.

Colorado will turn into California! The oil and gas industry has been destroyed! There’s a war on rural Colorado!

Republicans keep saying this nonsense, year after year, and Colorado voters keep electing more Democrats. Maybe try something else?

It’s not really a mystery as to why Democrats have been so successful in Colorado over the last 4-5 election cycles. Democrats choose solid candidates who run professional campaigns and do a great job of organizing volunteers and supporters.

Republicans nominate candidates like Ganahl, repeat tired talking points, and spend the weekend before Election Day lowering already shin-high expectations and yelling at each other over trivial nonsense.

Get More Smarter Before Election Day!

This week on a special pre-election episode of the Get More Smarter Podcast, hosts Jason Bane and Ian Silverii make their final prognostications for the 2022 Election.

We also talk again with Andrew Baumann, senior vice president of research at Global Strategy Group and the lead pollster for the quarterly “Rocky Mountaineer” poll in Colorado, about what to watch out for on Election Night once numbers start trickling in nationally. Later, Jason and Ian show off what they’ve learned from Republicans in 2022 by attempting to repeat — from memory — stump speeches for Senate candidate Joe O’Dea and gubernatorial candidate Hiedi Heidi Ganahl.

Remember, friends: Vote early, not often. If you’re still holding onto your ballot, DO NOT drop it in the mail; instead, take your completed ballot to one of many drop boxes in your area. For more information, head over to GoVoteColorado.gov.

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

Questions? Comments? Complaints? Let us have it at AngryRants@getmoresmarter.com. Or send emails to jason@getmoresmarter.com or ian@getmoresmarter.com.

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State Sen. Kevin Priola Gets More Smarter

State Sen. Kevin Priola (D-Henderson).

This week on the Get More Smarter Podcast, your hosts Jason Bane and Ian Silverii are joined by State Sen. Kevin Priola of Henderson, who made lots of news this fall by switching parties from Republican to Democrat. Senator Priola talks about how he ended up leaving the Republican Party, how he plans to vote in 2022, and what it feels like to be rooting for a different team this election cycle.

Later, we update listeners on all the latest news from the top races in Colorado, including GOP gubernatorial candidate Hiedi Heidi Ganahl’s closing “argument.” We also discuss the relentless disgusting editorializing from The Colorado Springs Gazette; and we introduce a new segment for the show that we’re just calling “That’s Bullshit!”

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

Questions? Comments? Complaints? Let us have it at AngryRants@getmoresmarter.com. Or send emails to jason@getmoresmarter.com or ian@getmoresmarter.com.

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Podcast: The Blue Wave Cometh (feat. Andrew Baumann)

Andrew Baumann

This week on the Get More Smarter Podcast, your hosts Jason Bane and Ian Silverii talk once again with Andrew Baumann, senior vice president of research at Global Strategy Group and the lead pollster for the quarterly “Rocky Mountaineer” poll in Colorado. Baumann explains why the latest poll numbers here look so darn good for Democrats and whether any of that could change in the final weeks of the 2022 election.

We also update you on the latest news from the election season, including a conversation on (some) of the 11 statewide ballot measures in Colorado; we discuss how much longer the Colorado Springs Gazette will be taken seriously given its absurd editorial department; and we offer an important tip for all potential candidates for future office.

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

Questions? Comments? Complaints? Let us have it at AngryRants@getmoresmarter.com. Or send emails to jason@getmoresmarter.com or ian@getmoresmarter.com.

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No, Colorado is Not #2 in Fentanyl Deaths

Heidi Ganahl and Joe O’Dea have both often repeated false statistics about fentanyl deaths in Colorado.

Republican politicians in Colorado have fallen in love with a dubious talking point about fentanyl deaths in our state that has prompted at least two local news outlets to debunk the statistic. As Election Day draws closer, this talking point is getting shared with increasing frequency by Republican candidates.

And it’s wrong.

The talking point is some variation of this: “Colorado is #2 in the country in fentanyl deaths.” Gubernatorial candidate Hiedi Heidi Ganahl says it all the time. Senate candidate Joe O’Dea and Attorney General candidate John Kellner are among the Republican candidates who have recently started repeating the number.

But as both The Colorado Sun and The Denver Post report, that number is just straight-up false. More importantly, experts say that attributing this scary-sounding statistic to Colorado is missing the point of the fentanyl problem in general.

Let’s start with The Colorado Sun’s Jesse Paul via its “Unaffiliated” newsletter following a recent gubernatorial debate:

Ganahl claimed during the debate that Colorado is “No. 2 in fentanyl deaths.” That’s wrong. [Pols emphasis]

Ganahl’s campaign, when asked for evidence to back up the claim, pointed to a line in an Axios Denver story about fentanyl deaths in Colorado to back up this claim.

The news outlet accurately reported “Colorado’s uptick (in fentanyl deaths) ranked second in the country from 2019 to 2021, according to a report published this month from the nonprofit Families Against Fentanyl.” Families Against Fentanyl, an organization that advocates for tougher policies against the drug and better awareness around it, found that the number of fentanyl deaths in Colorado increased by 382% between the fiscal year ending in May 2019 and the fiscal year ending in May 2021, from 147 to 709. That rate of increase ranked second among states over that time frame.

But Colorado’s per capita fentanyl death rate from June 2020 to May 2021 didn’t even rank in the top 20, according to Families Against Fentanyl. West Virginia was No. 1. Colorado was No. 33. [Pols emphasis]

Colorado was, however, in the top 10 — at No. 7 — when it comes to states with the highest rate of fentanyl death increases from 2015 to 2021, according to Families Against Fentanyl.

And here’s Seth Klamann of The Denver Post:

Where does Colorado rank in fentanyl deaths?

In short, not second. [Pols emphasis] The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention does not list deaths specifically for fentanyl, but it does for synthetic narcotics — of which fentanyl is the dominant substance. According to that data, Colorado’s provisional, accidental overdose rate involving synthetic narcotics in 2021 was 16.8 per 100,000 residents, which was 31st in the nation and paled in comparison to top-ranked West Virginia, which had an overdose rate of just over 66.

A separate report, compiled by the Kaiser Family Foundation, ranked Colorado 30th for opioid overdoses through 2020; Kaiser’s calculation is a slightly larger category than the CDC’s and would include heroin and prescription pills as well as fentanyl.

The truth is that it is difficult to come up with an accurate number of fentanyl deaths IN ANY STATE because the drug is normally included in data sets among a broader category of “opiates” or “synthetic narcotics.”

“Parsing out inter-state differences is sort of a useless exercise.”

Josh Blum of Denver Health

As Klamann notes in the Post, talking about fentanyl death rates in a given state is fairly pointless anyway:

That’s part of the reason why Josh Blum, the head of outpatient substance use treatment at Denver Health and a leading addiction specialist in the state, says that comparing states is a “useless exercise.” There’s no way to say how fentanyl’s presence in one place compares to others: Is there more fentanyl in Kansas versus Colorado? Is the drug supply in Illinois as contaminated with fentanyl as it is here, where heroin, meth and cocaine are often laced with the drug? A RAND Corporation study published earlier this year found that the potency of the drug supply varies even among neighboring states.

Blum noted that Colorado has several major cross-country interstates, plus a major metropolitan area, which makes it more conducive for drug traffickers. He ticked off other factors that make cross-state comparisons difficult: Colorado has a younger population, he said, which would mean residents are more likely to initiate drug use.

Colorado’s numbers are probably skewed because we do a pretty good job of tracking data on fentanyl deaths. By contrast, our neighbor to the north (Wyoming) has been particularly bad about collecting accurate information.

Colorado ranks 30th in the country when it comes to opioid overdose death rates per 100,000 people. That includes fentanyl deaths, but again, it also counts other opioid deaths.

In general, we wouldn’t listen to anything that Ganahl repeats out loud. Ganahl has a troubling history of not bothering to fact-check her own, uh, facts. She has claimed that “60% of Colorado kids can’t read, write, or do math,” which is silly, and she’s absolutely positive that there is an epidemic of “furries” in Colorado schools no matter how many times this conspiracy theory is debunked.

Likewise, John Kellner has regularly cherry-picked crime statistics he uses to attack incumbent Democrat Phil Weiser; the data actually shows that crime rates in Kellner’s judicial district are significantly higher than statewide averages. As for O’Dea…well, he changes his story on issues like the rest of us change our underwear.

Nobody would argue that tackling the fentanyl crisis is not an important issue, in Colorado or nationwide. But in order to have an honest discussion that leads to real results, we need to first start with accurate information.

PNC/GSG Poll: Colorado Democrats on the Cusp of Glory

The Denver Post’s Seth Klamann reports today on the latest Mountaineer poll from Global Strategy Group and liberal activist group ProgressNow Colorado–numbers that cannot be spun any way positively for Republicans three weeks out from the 2022 midterm elections, and the downward trajectory for Republicans in the gubernatorial race in particular opening the possibility of a rout on Election Night that Colorado Democrats could scarcely have dreamed of at the beginning of the year.

If the Global Strategy Group poll is to be believed, Republicans have a lot of catching up to do over the next three weeks. About 52% of likely voters surveyed said that, if Election Day were tomorrow, they would vote to re-elect Gov. Jared Polis, compared to 34% who said they would vote for CU Regent Heidi Ganahl; another 8% said they were undecided. It’s a larger lead than FiveThirtyEight’s analysis, which still gives Polis a sizable 16-point advantage.

Respondents were also asked about Ganahl’s repeated comments about children allegedly identifying as cats in schools across Colorado, a claim that school officials thoroughly rejected. The poll showed that 71% of respondents said the claim wasn’t an important issue at all.

A message sent to Ganahl’s campaign Tuesday was not returned. A Polis spokeswoman told the Post the governor was “working hard to earn the support of Colorado voters.”

The poll gave Bennet an 11-point lead over challenger Joe O’Dea among likely voters, with 7% undecided. It’s a stronger projection than FiveThirtyEight, which has Bennet up eight points as of last week, or polls aggregated by Real Clear Politics, which gives the Democrat a 7.7-point average lead. The race has received national attention as one that Republicans believe they can win in what they hope will be a wave election repudiating President Joe Biden and his fellow Democrats up and down the ticket.

It’s the latest in a spate of recent polls showing that Heidi Ganahl’s campaign for governor has unrecoverably tanked. Multiple polls now have Ganahl losing to Gov. Jared Polis in the 15-20% range, and three weeks out from the election there’s just no realistic hope of turning those numbers around.

The situation is little better for U.S. Senate candidate Joe O’Dea, who before this poll was locked 7-10% behind incumbent Sen. Michael Bennet. Despite months of national press phoning in stories insisting that Colorado’s U.S. Senate race could become competitive, there is nothing to suggest that has actually happened. If anything, O’Dea is losing ground as the election nears.

Down the ballot there’s even more good news for Democrats, with incumbent Secretary of State Jena Griswold and Attorney General Phil Weiser holding solid leads over their Republican challengers:

The poll showed comfortable leads for both Attorney General Phil Weiser and Secretary of State Jena Griswold, both Democrats. Weiser had a seven-point lead over challenger John Kellner among likely voters, but with a sizable 12% of respondents undecided. The poll found Griswold with a 10-point lead over Republican Pam Anderson, with 10% of respondents reporting they’re undecided.

Although the poll didn’t survey the Treasurer’s race, the Attorney General and Secretary of State races have by far seen the most attention of the downballot statewide races. If these numbers are accurate both Weiser and Griswold are successfully weathering shrilly negative campaigns waged against them. Griswold in particular has been the subject of intense opprobrium from the state’s political elite and pundit class, and should take comfort from the durable show of support indicated in this poll.

You can read the full poll memo from Global Strategy Group here. Given the overall consistency of this latest poll with so many other recent surveys, the only way we can see at this point for Republicans in Colorado to have a shot at winning on November 8th is not just for this poll to be wrong, but all of the polling from every responsible pollster who has polled Colorado to be wrong. The unexcludable lingering possibility of exactly that is why we don’t expect Democrats to become complacent over these good polling numbers in the final few weeks of the 2022 campaign.

We expect them to close the deal.

Newspaper Endorsement Roundup for 2022

Sen. Michael Bennet is endorsed by every major newspaper making a decision in Colorado.

Several Colorado newspapers have decided against making endorsements in political races in 2022, including The Pueblo Chieftain, The Ft. Collins Coloradoan, and The Greeley Tribune.

The Colorado Springs Gazette, meanwhile, has turned its candidate endorsement process into a ridiculous partisan pit of repetitive Republican talking points. The Gazette has completely given up on even pretending to be nonpartisan by endorsing only Republican candidates — even those, such as GOP gubernatorial candidate Hiedi Heidi Ganahl — for whom it is virtually impossible to make a coherent argument of support.

The good news is that there are still a handful of Colorado newspapers that are making thoughtful, considered endorsements of candidates in 2022. We rounded up the endorsements in some of Colorado’s top-tier races that are available as of this writing, including some notable lines. Included in our list below are The Denver Post, The Durango Herald, The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel, and The Aurora Sentinel.

Two statewide candidates — Sen. Michael Bennet and Attorney General Phil Weiser — picked up endorsements from all four newspapers. Governor Jared Polis will undoubtedly join that list once The Denver Post makes its endorsement.

Also noteworthy: Congressperson Lauren “Q*Bert” Boebert failed to receive a single endorsement other than the rubber-stamp backing of The Colorado Springs Gazette. The two most important newspapers in CO-03 both backed Democratic challenger Adam Frisch instead of Boebert.

 

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New Ad Hammers Kellner for Not Supporting Abortion Rights

“As somebody who supports the Dobbs decision returning this back to the states to make a decision…”

     — Republican Attorney General candidate John Kellner (8/2/22)

Back in early August, we took note of a candidate form in the race for Attorney General in which Republican John Kellner made an admission that we immediately flagged as a dagger in his efforts to unseat incumbent Democrat Phil Weiser.

During the forum at the Community College of Aurora on August 2, Kellner told the audience that he supported the Supreme Court’s decision on the Dobbs decision that essentially overturned Roe v. Wade and removed federal protections for women seeking an abortion. When asked later if he supported a woman’s right to choose over her reproductive rights, Kellner answered:

I don’t think I can give you a bumper sticker answer for this. It is just simply, I think like most Americans, too nuanced of a position to be able to tell you a yes or no answer to that.

John Kellner

As we wrote at the time, “there is often a seminal moment in high-profile political campaigns in which the race permanently shifts to one side or another. Tuesday was that moment in the race for Attorney General.”

As Ernest Luning reported last week for the publication formerly known as the Colorado Statesman, that moment has become a devastating television ad (see below):

The Democratic Attorneys General Association on Friday launched a $2 million ad campaign aimed at Colorado Republican attorney general nominee John Kellner over the prosecutor’s support for the Supreme Court decision that overturned Roe v. Wade.

Kellner, the district attorney for the 18th Judicial District, is challenging Attorney General Phil Weiser, the Democratic incumbent who is seeking reelection to a second term.

“John Kellner supports the Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision giving politicians the power to outlaw abortion, with no exceptions for rape or incest,” says the narrator of a 30-second TV ad released Friday by the Colorado People’s Lawyer Project, DAGA’s independent expenditure committee in Colorado. The ad includes footage of Kellner calling himself a supporter of the high court’s June 24 ruling.

As Luning also notes, Kellner is still waiting for significant help from the Republican Attorneys General Association (RAGA):

RAGA has yet to approach the group’s spending level in the 2018 Colorado race, when it poured roughly $6 million into the state. According to campaign finance reports, the Republican group has so far spent in the neighborhood of $350,000 on digital ads and mailers but doesn’t appear to have reserved any TV time yet.

If RAGA is going to start running television ads in Colorado for Kellner, they had better hurry up; mail ballots started going out to Colorado voters today.

John Kellner for AG: Bad on Crime AND Indifferent to Laws

UPDATE: The Denver Post finds some similar problems with Kellner’s narrative:

Between 2020 and 2021, Colorado saw an 8% increase in crime against persons, according to state public safety data, compared to an increase of 12% in Kellner’s district. Judicial District 1 (Jefferson and Gilpin counties) saw a 5% increase, Judicial District 2 (Denver) saw a 3.8% increase and Judicial District 17 (Adams and Broomfield counties) saw a 12.7% increase.

Judicial District 18’s increases in crimes against property and sex offenses were also higher than the state’s, though the increased percentage of motor vehicle theft was lower.

—–

“Indifference to election rules should call into question Mr. Kellner’s ability to fulfill the duties of the office he is seeking.”

     — Bruce Brown, former DA in JD-5.

Republican John Kellner is running to be Colorado’s Attorney General despite only being elected as the District Attorney in JD-18 (Arapahoe, Douglas counties) in 2020. You could make a solid argument against Kellner based on the distasteful fact that he is seeking higher office without even getting halfway through his first term as DA, and you wouldn’t be incorrect.

But Kellner’s happy feet might also be emblematic of more troubling issues: Kellner is not doing particularly well at his current job and doesn’t seem to have much of an interest in following laws that apply to his own campaign.

As we noted earlier this week, Kellner has been saying for months that he is the solution to rising crime (which is not just a Colorado problem, of course, but that’s a different story). Kellner inaccurately blames incumbent Democratic Attorney General Phil Weiser for rising crime in Colorado. He focuses on motor vehicle theft because the numbers show that crime rates are actually significantly higher in JD-18.

 

But this isn’t the only trouble Kellner has run into while running for Attorney General. Check out this headline on Thursday from The Colorado Springs Gazette:

 

Original headline from The Colorado Springs Gazette (10/13/22)

 

As Marianne Goodland reports for the Gazette:

Republican attorney general candidate John Kellner is facing a third campaign finance complaint, a historic benchmark among those seeking to become Colorado’s chief legal officer.

No attorney general or candidate for that office has more than one complaint in the 22 years TRACER, the campaign finance database run by the Colorado Secretary of State’s Office, system has tracked those complaint. [Pols emphasis]

John Kellner

Kellner supporters will argue that all three complaints came from the same place, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t valid. The third complaint is similar to the first two complaints, filed in May and July, that were both ruled to be legitimate campaign violations that Kellner’s campaign was allowed to fix.

The bigger picture here is that Kellner keeps violating the law yet wants Colorado voters to elect him to be the chief law enforcement officer in Colorado.

As Goodland continues:

Kellner’s campaign did not respond to a request for comment.

The repeated violations raise questions about Kellner’s ability to follow the law, according to Bruce Brown, an attorney in Idaho Springs and the former district attorney for the Fifth Judicial District. [Pols emphasis]

“Colorado campaign finance rules serve an important role in assuring voters obtain transparent and timely information. A candidate for a law enforcement leadership position, such as attorney general, should and is held to a higher standard given the need to set the best possible leadership example for the rule of law,” he said. “Indifference to election rules should call into question Mr. Kellner’s ability to fulfill the duties of the office he is seeking, since an attorney general has a legal duty to assist in the conduct of fair elections.”

Welp.

John Kellner wants to be Colorado’s next Attorney General, despite the fact that crime rates are WORSE in his current judicial district and he is setting new records for breaking campaign finance laws. Oh, and Kellner also supported the Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision that overturned Roe v. Wade.

Perhaps we’re asking the wrong question here. Instead of debating whether Kellner is qualified to be Attorney General, we should probably start asking why Kellner is a District Attorney right now.

The GMS Podcast: It’s Voting Time! (feat. Alec Garnett)

This week on the Get More Smarter Podcast, your hosts Jason Bane and Ian Silverii sit down once again with House Speaker Alec Garnett to talk about the next generation of House leadership and his predictions for the 2022 election.

Later, we update you on everything you need to know about the latest in the major campaigns in Colorado. We also talk about a judge’s ruling on the Republican recall effort targeting State Sen. Kevin Priola, and together we listen to some bizarre videos courtesy of Republican Hiedi Heidi Ganahl’s campaign for governor.

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

Questions? Comments? Complaints? Let us have it at AngryRants@getmoresmarter.com. Or send emails to jason@getmoresmarter.com or ian@getmoresmarter.com.

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Poll: Who Will Win the Race for Attorney General? (10/13)

Phil Weiser (left) and John Kellner.

With ballots about to drop, it’s time to get another temperature check on the Colorado attorney general race (here’s the last reader survey on this race two weeks ago). Who will win the race between incumbent Democratic AG Phil Weiser and Republican challenger DA John Kellner?

*Remember, as always with our totally non-scientific polls, we want to know what you legitimately THINK will happen — not what you hope will happen or which candidate you support personally. If you had to bet the deed to your house that your prediction would be correct, how would you vote?

Who Will Win the Race for Attorney General? (10/13

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Crime Rates are Much Higher in John Kellner’s District


Republican Attorney General candidate John Kellner and his friends at the Republican Attorneys General Association (RAGA) have spent months making a big deal about the rise in auto thefts in Colorado. This is the heart of Kellner’s pitch to voters in arguing that he would keep Colorado “safer” than incumbent Democratic Attorney General Phil Weiser.

If you listen to Kellner talk about rising crime rates in Colorado, you’ll notice that he ONLY ever mentions auto theft. It’s the only issue that pops up in mail pieces from RAGA, and it’s pretty much the only crime-related issue that Kellner discusses on the campaign trail. We’d argue that it is silly to blame the Attorney General (whoever it is) for crime rates in general, since that’s not really the AG’s job, but since Kellner keeps bringing it up, the topic is fair game.

Take a listen to Kellner and his former boss George Brauchler from KNUS radio this morning talking about motor vehicle theft as though it is the only sort of crime metric that is relevant when discussing law enforcement in Colorado.

 

KELLNER: I think we’re taking the right approach [on auto theft], and I think that’s probably reflected in some of that CMAT data that shows that the lowest rates of car theft in the metro area are in Arapahoe and Douglas counties.

BRAUCHLER: Wow. That is so contrary to the message that your opponent has put out that crime is somehow more rampant in the 18th [judicial district] than it is in, I don’t know, Denver. You don’t even need to look at data to know that that’s flat false. [Pols emphasis]

Would it surprise you to learn that Brauchler is full of crap here? Of course not.

We did look at data from the Colorado Crime Stats website, and the numbers explain quite clearly why Kellner (and Brauchler) are always cherry-picking auto theft statistics about Judicial District 18, where Kellner is the District Attorney. As it turns out, you are MUCH less safe in JD-18 than you are in the rest of Colorado since Kellner took over as District Attorney in 2021.

It is true that motor vehicle theft in JD-18 is slightly lower than the statewide averages. The bad news for Kellner — and anyone who lives in Arapahoe, Douglas, Elbert, or Lincoln Counties — is that rates for violent crime, property crime, and sex offenses are much higher in JD-18 than the statewide averages.

Motor vehicle theft has increased more in Denver than anywhere else, which is to be expected given that Denver is Colorado’s largest city. But violent crime rates in Denver have increased by 8.7% between 2020-21…compared to 30.9% in JD-18.

For a different comparison, let’s examine crime rates in JD-1 (Jefferson, Gilpin) compared to JD-18. Both districts are in the Denver Metro area, and both have new District Attorneys who started their jobs in 2021.

Again, you can see that you are less likely to have your car stolen if you live in JD-18. Unfortunately, you are significantly more likely to be robbed, raped, or murdered if you live in Kellner’s district.

Kellner obviously knows that these numbers look really, really bad for him, which is why he never talks about any sort of crime other than motor vehicle theft. But when he does talk about crime, Kellner makes sure to make it sound like he would be better than Weiser on the issue. Here’s what Kellner said on Colorado Public Radio in August:

I think Coloradans are ready for somebody who is going to wake up every single day and think about how they are going to make the state safer.

Kellner isn’t making JD-18 any safer, so why would we expect him to do a better job statewide?

On Kellner’s campaign website, it says, “Colorado needs an Attorney General who will prioritize public safety over politics.”

We couldn’t agree more. By John Kellner’s own metrics, he should be disqualified as a candidate for Attorney General.

Get More Weiserer (feat. Attorney General Phil Weiser)

Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser

This week on the Get More Smarter Podcast, your hosts Jason Bane and Ian Silverii talk at length with Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser about his re-election campaign, law enforcement issues in Colorado, and why you should brace yourself for the next Supreme Court docket.

Later, we talk more about Furry Lago and Hiedi Heidi Ganahl’s decision to take her conspiracy theory a step too far; we update on the latest in several top races in Colorado; a majority of Republican candidates in the United States are full-on election deniers; and why a lesson from Aurora should inform voters about crime narratives being pushed by Republican candidates. Also, the one and only Christy Powell returns for another legendary rant.

*We’re about to hit 50,000 downloads of the Get More Smarter podcast, which is as amazing to us as it might be to you. Thanks to each and every one of you for listening, for subscribing, and for sharing the show with your friends. Ever since we started, Colorado has gone from purple to bright, bright blue. Coincidence? Probably, but we’re gonna take the credit anyway. 

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

Questions? Comments? Complaints? Let us have it at AngryRants@getmoresmarter.com. Or send emails to jason@getmoresmarter.com or ian@getmoresmarter.com.

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

The GMS Podcast: Crazier Than a Bag of Squirrels

This week on the Get More Smarter Podcast, your hosts Jason Bane and Ian Silverii try to understand what in the holy hell is wrong with Republican gubernatorial candidate Hiedi Heidi Ganahl and her obsession with furries.

Later, we talk about GOP Senate candidate Joe O’Dea and his definition of “Chickeenos”; the weird maybe-not-a-coincidence campaign strategy that many Republicans across the country seem to be following; and the strangest part of former President Donald Trump’s de-classification explanation (it’s not what you think).

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

Questions? Comments? Complaints? Let us have it at AngryRants@getmoresmarter.com. Or send emails to jason@getmoresmarter.com or ian@getmoresmarter.com.

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

Who Will Be Elected Attorney General? (9/30)

Phil Weiser (left) and John Kellner

It’s been awhile since we asked readers this question, so let’s get right to it.

What will happen in the race for Attorney General between incumbent Democrat Phil Weiser and Republican Arapahoe County-ish District Attorney John Kellner?

 

*Remember, as always with our totally non-scientific polls, we want to know what you legitimately THINK will happen — not what you hope will happen or which candidate you support personally. If you had to bet the deed to your house that your prediction would be correct, how would you vote?

 

Who Will Win the Race for Attorney General? (9/30)

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Which Way is Down? Republicans Follow Each Other

Take a look at the following quotes and see if any of them sound familiar. We’ll number each quote to make it easier to check your answers later.

 

1) “I’ve not seen anything that is even a semblance of a campaign.”

 

2) “She’s running an aggressive and low-budget campaign for school board, but she happens to be running for governor.”

 

3) “Isn’t that sad that Democrats have to spend so much money?…We don’t need as much money as [our opponent] needs because our message is better.”

 

4) “Winning elections is not about having a lot of money. It’s about having enough money.”

 

Any one of these quotes could be referencing Republican gubernatorial candidate Hiedi Heidi Ganahl. Some of them could even apply to the campaign of Republican Senate candidate Joe O’Dea. In truth, none of them are even about Colorado. 

Quote #1 is about Doug Mastriano, the Republican candidate for Governor in Pennsylvania.

Quote #2 is about Republican gubernatorial candidate Tudor Dixon in Michigan.

Quote #3 is Tudor Dixon herself. 

Quote #4 is from Dan Cox, the Republican candidate for Governor in Maryland. 

There is a clear theme emerging across the country for Republican candidates running for top-tier statewide offices. These candidates all rely on extreme, divisive rhetoric but have proven to be incapable or uninterested in raising the kind of money that is necessary to get their message out to a majority of voters. 

As The New York Times reported earlier this week, Republicans are struggling to compete with their Democratic opponents when it comes to both money and exposure to voters:

Along with Mr. Mastriano in Pennsylvania, Trump-backed candidates for governor in five other states — Arizona, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts and Michigan — have combined to air zero television advertisements since winning their primaries.

Gov. Doug Ducey of Arizona, the R.G.A.’s co-chairman, was asked about whether he views Mr. Mastriano as a viable candidate during a question-and-answer session this month at Georgetown University.

“We don’t fund lost causes and we don’t fund landslides,” Mr. Ducey said. “You have to show us something, you have to demonstrate that you can move numbers and you can raise resources.”

Trump has not endorsed Ganahl or O’Dea, but the story is similar in Colorado. O’Dea has been running television ads for several weeks, but his campaign has recently been buying ad time on a day-to-day basis and has no television presence on network TV (O’Dea’s ads are only available on cable television). Ganahl hasn’t run a single television ad, which puts her in the same position as Republican candidates for Governor in Illinois (Darren Bailey), Massachusetts (Geoff Diehl), Maryland (Cox), and Pennsylvania (Mastriano).

As The Denver Post reported a few weeks ago, it’s not just Ganahl who is struggling to find enough money to reach out to voters in Colorado: None of the statewide Republican candidates (for Attorney General, State Treasurer, or Secretary of State) have the resources to do much more than complain on social media. This has been an issue for Colorado Republicans throughout the 2022 election cycle.

But Governor is a much more important office, and here Ganahl’s financial problems mirror Republicans in other states. At the end of August in Maryland, Dan Cox had been outraised by Democrat Wes Moore by a 10-to-1 margin, ending the fundraising period with all of $130,000 in the bank. Ganahl concluded the fundraising period that ended on Sept. 6 with $188,000 cash-on-hand.  

The similarities with many of these MAGA Republicans make their campaign strategies look oddly intentional. Take a look at what Chris Cillizza of CNN recently wrote about Mastriano in Pennsylvania:

Mastriano is running one of the most unorthodox campaigns ever in such a high-profile race. He has not run a single television ad in the general election. He doesn’t do interviews with mainstream media, choosing instead to deal with conservative media outlets.

Got your thumb! Wait, that’s MY thumb

It’s eerie how similar that is to the Ganahl campaign in Colorado. Up until the week before the June 28th Primary Election, Ganahl hadn’t conducted a single interview with a mainstream media outlet anywhere in the state since her Sept. 2021 campaign kickoff. 

It’s not just a lack of fundraising or television advertising where you can find similarities between Ganahl and other MAGA Republican candidates. The Washington Post recently ran a story wondering if Republican gubernatorial candidate Darren Bailey could get elected in Illinois after spending so much of his time and rhetoric bashing Chicago as a “crime-ridden, corrupt, dysfunctional hellhole.” 

Sound familiar? It should. Ganahl has spent an inordinate amount of time talking about Denver as some sort of crime-infested hellhole.

Like many MAGA Republican candidates, Ganahl is running essentially the same General Election campaign that she ran ahead of the Primary Election.

“When you have candidates who essentially aren’t helping themselves by staking out either extreme positions or extreme positions on weird issues that only speak to a real core Trump part of the base, it’s not a surprise that there are going to be struggles,” said Republican strategist Doug Heye in a recent interview with The Hill newspaper. 

You don’t need to be a rocket surgeon to understand this, so why do Ganahl and other MAGA Republican candidates continue rushing toward the same brick wall? The fact that this strategy seems to be so prevalent among multiple candidates suggests that it is an intentional incompetence at work – like they are doing this on purpose

If nothing else, what we’re seeing from Republicans in 2022 may be idiocy by osmosis. For example, it makes sense that Joe O’Dea would pick up some strange habits when he spends so much time with MAGA Republicans such as JD Vance (Ohio) and Blake Masters (Arizona). It doesn’t defy logic that this collective weirdness isn’t helping MAGA Republicans get elected.

As GOP pollster Whit Ayres told The Hill newspaper: “People are looking for good judgment and good sense and good decisionmaking out of governors. Anything that casts doubt on the judgment or the common sense of a gubernatorial candidate undermines that candidate’s potential to get elected governor.”

You could say the same thing about candidates for every major political office. Doing the opposite hasn’t been working for Republicans thus far, and it doesn’t seem like it’s going to have worked on Nov. 8. 

Perhaps these candidates have adopted an alteration to the infamous Qanon slogan: “Where We Go One, We Go All…to Defeat.” 

Here Come the Political Ads!

We are six weeks away from Election Day and three weeks from ballots going out in the mail. This means that top-tier campaigns that plan to use television as a significant part of their advertising strategy are hitting the airwaves with gusto.

Click after the jump to see all the latest television ads running in Colorado, nearly all of which are from Democrats (we’re listing ads from campaigns, not dark money or third-party spots). We’re also not ignoring ads for Republican candidates — there just aren’t many of them to even discuss.

If we missed any new ads, please drop them in the comments section…

 

(more…)

Kellner Throws RAGA, and His Election Hopes, Under the Bus

Republican John Kellner

As we approach the final days of the 2022 election cycle, a similar theme is playing out across many of Colorado’s top contests. Democratic candidates who have significantly outraised their Republican opponents are now up on television with a bevy of advertisements; underfunded GOP challengers, meanwhile, continue to twiddle their thumbs hoping that some sort of national money will be spent in Colorado on their behalf. 

In the race for Attorney General, incumbent Democrat Phil Weiser started running this ad last week and will likely maintain a presence on television through Election Day. 

As of the last fundraising period ending Sept. 14, Weiser had raised $4,160,692 and reported $1,130,285 in the bank. Republican John Kellner, meanwhile, has raised a total of $242,116 and reported a cash-on-hand amount of just $97,867. This is enough money to produce a TV spot but not enough to make an ad buy that will come anywhere close to reaching enough voters to give him a chance against Weiser.

As we’ve written before in this space, Kellner’s only real chance at making a dent in Weiser’s support would likely have to come via funds from the Republican Attorneys General Association (RAGA), the group that spent more than $5 million in 2018 trying to boost the chances of GOP candidate George Brauchler (whom Weiser defeated 52-45). While RAGA does have a committee open in Colorado that could receive and spend money in the race for AG, as of this writing there is no indication that any significant expenditure is forthcoming.

Yet even if RAGA were to make a last-ditch effort in Colorado, it would put Kellner in a very difficult position given an answer he gave at a candidate forum last week. 

RAGA has been floundering trying to fix its reputation after it was widely reported in the aftermath of the Jan. 6 insurrection that the group had spent big money trying to help the very folks who were intent on overturning the results of the 2020 Presidential election. As a result of its zeal in pushing election fraud conspiracy theories and funding robocalls to urge “patriots” to attend the Jan. 6 insurrection, donations to RAGA fell off appreciably in the months that followed. 

During a candidate forum sponsored by the Lowry United Neighborhoods on Sept. 20, both candidates for Attorney General were asked a very specific question about taking help from election deniers. Here’s that video and the transcription:

 

QUESTION: Would both of you pledge to commit to accepting no campaign funds and holding no fundraisers with anybody that gave to the Jan. 6 insurrection and worked with election deniers?

 

KELLNER: That’s a great question, and it’s absolutely appropriate to ask. I think anybody who violated the law that day on Jan. 6 should be held accountable, [and] should probably go look at jail or prison [time]. I don’t support the folks that denied the outcome of the election in any way, shape, or form. [Pols emphasis] 

What I’m gravely concerned about, honestly, is the amount of money – upwards of $10 million dollars – spent by the Democrat Party to try and uplift people that they also simultaneously said are a true threat to our democracy. I think that amount of hypocrisy is probably something that we’ve never, ever seen before. I think it is fundamentally wrong.

So, to answer your question, no, I don’t support that. I support the peaceful transition of power as a Marine, as an officer. I was commissioned under George W. Bush. I went to war under President Obama. I served under President Trump in the reserves. I continue to serve under President Biden in the reserves and I’m proud to do it.

Kellner’s statement — “I don’t support the folks that denied the outcome of the election in any way, shape, or form” – would absolutely apply to RAGA, and it would put him in a very weird position if RAGA decided to start spending money in order to assist his campaign for Attorney General. Perhaps Kellner went ahead and gave the answer he did because he already knows that RAGA isn’t coming to his rescue, but this is still a problem for him. 

Kellner’s statement last week also means he has some explaining to do regarding his attendance at the RAGA “Summer National Meeting” in Colorado Springs in August; on the final day of that retreat, Kellner held a RAGA-sponsored fundraiser for his campaign. This is a question he’s going to have to answer at some point in the next few weeks. 

Kellner needed RAGA’s money to give him a chance in November, but after last week, any help from the national group would come with new problems for the District Attorney from the 18th Judicial District. And if RAGA needed an excuse to stay out if this race, they got it from the candidate himself.

New Episode of The Get More Smarter Podcast

This week on the Get More Smarter Podcast, your hosts Jason Bane and Ian Silverii update the progress of every key race in Colorado now that we’ve passed the 50 day mark until Election Day.

We also talk about the latest embarrassing antics of Republican Reps. Lauren “Q*Bert” Boebert and Ken Buck — including wontons! — and give an attaboy to local media for taking time to do some important election narrative fact-checking.

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

Questions? Comments? Complaints? Let us have it at AngryRants@getmoresmarter.com. Or send emails to jason@getmoresmarter.com or ian@getmoresmarter.com.

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

GOP Sec. of State Candidate Won’t Disavow Endorsement of Jan. 6 Participant

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Colorado Secretary of State hopeful Pam Anderson has made rejecting the Big Lie a central message of her campaign, but a new video shows her arm-in-arm with a major state GOP activist and fundraiser who’s not only pushed QAnon-linked election conspiracy theories, but also participated in the Jan. 6 insurrection.

As the Colorado Times Recorder reported last week, prominent Republican fundraiser Wendy Meritt tweeted about being at the Capitol on Jan. 6, claimed the violence was carried out by Antifa, and pushed multiple election fraud conspiracies.

Meritt, whose husband Xernie is U.S. Senate candidate Joe O’Dea’s longtime business partner, deleted her Twitter account following the publication of our article.

Anderson has previously campaigned with fellow GOP candidates who have denied the legitimacy of the 2020 election, including gubernatorial nominee Heidi Ganahl’s Lt. Gov. pick Danny Moore, and statehouse candidate Stephanie Wheeler.

Meritt, however, is the only one who has publicly posted about participating in the Jan. 6 insurrection or promoted the QAnon-linked “Italygate” conspiracy, which claims Italian military satellites remotely switched voted from the Trump to Biden.

The Colorado Times Recorder asked Anderson if she was aware of Meritt’s beliefs or participation in the Jan. 6 insurrection when they made the video, and if not, would she disavow Meritt’s endorsement

Anderson” offered the following response, which does not include a disavowal.

“I have not had a conversation with Ms. Meritt, a private citizen, about the details of her political views besides what you see-her congratulations and appreciation of my primary win against Tina Peters and Mike O’Donnell,” said Anderson. “I will continue to run on my strong message of uniting and informing Coloradans behind our election system, not further divide or ostracize people.“

Anderson’s refusal to disavow the endorsement of a conspiracist election denier seems at odds with a candidate who today promoted her appearance on the cover of Time Magazine as an “election defender.

Anderson also declined to answer the Colorado Times Recorder’s inquiry as to whether she would call on her fellow Republican candidates to return Ms. Meritt’s many thousands of dollars’ worth of campaign contributions. Meritt has given the maximum amount not only to the O’Dea campaign, but also to Ganahl and the campaigns of Lang Sias and John Kellner, Colorado Republicans running for state treasurer and Attorney General, respectively.

Kellner Killshot? GOP Ex-AG Cynthia Coffman Endorses Weiser

Ernest Luning of the Colorado Springs Gazette’s political blog breaks some major news today with the endorsement of Democratic incumbent Attorney General Phil Weiser by his Republican predecessor in the office, Cynthia Coffman:

“Phil Weiser understands and honors the office he has held the last four years,” Coffman said in a statement. “He is respected among his fellow attorneys general as a collaborative leader who hasn’t been drawn into base partisan battles that threaten pragmatic problem solving. He is an influential voice in the national attorney general community because he is an independent thinker not susceptible to the sway of special interest groups.

“As General Weiser’s predecessor in the job, I have been pleased by his continuation of impactful initiatives in school safety, domestic violence and sexual assault prevention, substance abuse treatment, and childhood sexual abuse recovery.”

Added Coffman: “Naturally, we do not see eye-to-eye on every policy issue or legal position, but Phil Weiser has earned my professional respect and personal support. General Weiser deserves another four years in service as Colorado’s Attorney General.”

AG Phil Weiser (D), former AG Cynthia Coffman (R).

As readers know the message campaign against Attorney General Weiser has been particularly nasty, seeking to pin blame on Weiser personally for a host of social problems that are much larger than any one state or in any case not the fault of Weiser in any respect. For Weiser’s Republican predecessor in the job to endorse his re-election seriously undermines the acrimony directed against Weiser. It becomes much harder to sell the idea that Weiser wants to hand out fentanyl pills to children via a network of stolen cars after the Republican who held the office before Weiser has endorsed his re-election.

[Coffman] joins a slew of current and former Republican officials who endorsed Weiser last week, including former Colorado House Speaker Russ George, former Colorado Supreme Court Justice Rebecca Love Kourlis and former Westminster Mayor Herb Acheson.

We’re not completely sure what caused this shift, but judicially-focused Republicans like Cynthia Coffman and former Colorado Supreme Court Justice Rebecca Love Kourlis lining up in opposition is a very serious problem for Republican AG candidate John Kellner. For voters doing their homework down the ballot, it’s a big red flag that something’s not right with Kellner–whether it be the ethics and campaign finance questions he’s persistently faced, or self-immolating answers to questions about reproductive rights. These are politically lucid Republicans who would support the Republican candidate for attorney general–unless there’s a very good reason not to.

And it looks like there is. Their judgment discredits Kellner the way little else can.