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.

—–

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.

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.

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

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.”

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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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.

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

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.

Colorado’s “Faithless Elector” Question Heads For SCOTUS

KUNC’s Scott Franz reports:

Colorado is asking the U.S. Supreme Court to take up a case that could have big implications for future presidential elections.

Secretary of State Jena Griswold and Attorney General Phil Weiser are hoping the nation’s highest court will decide that presidential electors must follow state laws that require them to vote for the candidate who wins the most votes in the state.

The legal challenge comes after the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in August that former Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams was wrong to remove a presidential elector who refused to cast a vote for Hillary Clinton, who won the state’s popular vote in 2016.

An appeals court ruling in August which essentially held that members of the Electoral College have the inalienable right to vote for whoever they wish to be President of the United States, regardless of who a majority of the voters in their state supported. Although this ruling is plainly contrary to the spirit of democratic fairness and the individual franchise Americans take for granted, the fact is that it’s arguably fully consistent with the intention of the Founders–who very frankly saw the Electoral College system as a check against unbridled democratic majoritarianism. It’s only in recent years that the College has emerged as an undeniable advantage to Republicans, proving decisive against the majority vote in 2000 and again in 2016.

Secretary of State Jena Griswold and Attorney General Phil Weiser are no fans of the Electoral College, and both supported passage of this year’s National Popular Vote Compact legislation which is now being challenged via a citizen-referred repeal measure on the 2020 ballot. The NPV Compact in turn relies on the ability of states to enforceably bind electors to the results of the nationwide vote in order to work, and until the Electoral College ceases to exist it can only be defensibly do its job if individual voters have confidence that the Electoral College is carrying out their wishes.

Now, the Supreme Court will be obliged to either prop up the Electoral College by pulling the reins on the rights of Electors, or throwing the entire Electoral College system into chaos by destroying even an imaginary linkage between this arcane institution and the rights American voters think they have. Griswold and Weiser are doing what they have to to keep the system working–and we know they agree the solution in the end is for one person to receive one nationally equal vote in presidential elections.

AG Weiser: Sheriffs Will Enforce “Red Flag” Or Let People Die

Attorney General Phil Weiser (D).

Colorado Public Radio’s Allison Sherry:

State Attorney General Phil Weiser told gun control advocates Tuesday that despite some sheriffs threatening not to enforce the state’s new “red flag” law, he believes they will rethink that decision when faced with the realities of an armed and potentially dangerous person.

“It won’t be an abstraction,” Weiser said, during a panel of lawmakers hosted by Colorado Ceasefire and Colorado Faith Communities United to End Gun Violence. “It’s ‘my daughter Susie is thinking about taking her life, and she has procured weapons, can we do something my sheriff?’ And at that point, it’s not rhetoric, it’s human life.”

…Some sheriffs have said they will not enforce it and a number of county commissions have passed resolutions to prevent local law enforcement from carrying out ERPOs.

“Almost all those ordinances say the following, ‘we don’t want our sheriff in our county to implement an unconstitutional gun law’ to which I have always said in those counties, ‘I don’t either,’” Weiser said. “And the extreme risk protection law is constitutional and will be upheld.”

It’s a point we’ve made previously about the state’s extreme risk protection order (ERPO) law, even as county sheriffs in many cases hand-picked by the hard-right Rocky Mountain Gun Owners (RMGO) defiantly promise to never enforce the new law within their jurisdictions. What is going to happen when the first family member of a suicidal person seeks help from their county sheriff under the ERPO law and is rebuffed because the sheriff refuses to enforce the law?

No one would ever wish for a tragedy take place in order to prove a political point, but once there are demonstrable cases of lives being lost due to a sheriff’s refusal to enforce state law, something akin to legal hell is going to break loose. A sheriff who has arbitrarily decided not to enforce this law, with the result of a person who could have been saved dying, must reckon with the legal and moral aftermath of that decision–and it won’t be nearly as easy to bluster on about the Second Amendment to the families of the dead.

This is part of the reason why, even though he staunchly opposed the new “red flag” law in Colorado, El Paso County Sheriff Bill Elder condemned the idea that “a Sheriff, a Chief of Police, a Mayor, or ANY elected person [can] decide if a law is ‘constitutional’ or not.”

For his part, AG Weiser yesterday threatened county sheriffs who refuse to enforce a lawful ERPO from a judge with contempt of court proceedings, and vowed to defend judges against sheriff’s appeals. Beyond that, if it can be proven that a sheriff was “willful and wanton” in their refusal to enforce the law, demonstrating a “conscious disregard for the safety of others,” they could face personal liability for the outcome despite the state’s public employee immunity law.

For now, it’s a hypothetical discussion.

Very soon, unfortunately, it will not be hypothetical. And the wild rhetoric against this law will not age well.

The Get More Smarter Show: April 14, 2019

Today on the Get More Smarter Show: host Jason Bane sits down with Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser to talk about the 2018 elections, Weiser’s agenda and accomplishments in just a few short months in office, and the greatest video game ever.

Catch up on previous Get More Smarter Show episodes here, and thanks for watching!

Get More Smarter on Wednesday (January 23)

Happy “Bounty Day,” everyone; be sure to celebrate responsibly. Now, 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 a visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show.

 

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► Here’s the latest news on the government shutdown, now in its 33rd day. From the Washington Post:

House Democrats are prepared to support new levels of border security funding, but not a wall, if President Trump agrees to reopen the government first, lawmakers and aides said Wednesday.

The proposal, which Democrats plan to put into a formal letter to Trump, will include border security improvements such as retrofitting ports of entry, new sensors and drones, more immigration judges and border patrol agents, and additional technology, among other measures.

The letter was not final and the exact figure Democrats will suggest was not yet determined, but aides said it would be higher than the levels Democrats have supported in the past, which have ranged from $1.3 billion to $1.6 billion.

Some Democrats suggested they would even be willing to meet Trump’s request for $5.7 billion — as long as it goes for technology and other improvements, not the physical wall the president is seeking.

Democrats remain opposed to offering any funding for Trump’s great big wall, and new polling data shows that they are on the right side of the American public. As Politico reports:

President Donald Trump’s disapproval rating is at an all-time high amid a historically long partial government shutdown and concerns about the president’s relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin, according to a new POLITICO/Morning Consult poll.

Nearly 6-in-10 voters — 57 percent — disapprove of Trump’s job performance, compared to the 40 percent that approve. In addition, 54 percent of voters blame Trump and Republicans on Capitol Hill for the government shutdown. Only 35 percent blame congressional Democrats…

…While 43 percent support the construction of a border wall — compared to 49 percent who oppose construction — only 7 percent of voters said that they support dedicating funding to a border wall if it was the only way to end the government shutdown. [Pols emphasis]

That’s compared to 72 percent who oppose dedicating funding to a border wall if it was the only way.

In local shutdown news, CBS4 Denver reports on local “Dreamers” who see President Trump’s offer of temporary protections for immigrants as a “bargaining chip for our lives.”

 

President Trump is insisting that he be allowed to deliver his State of the Union Speech in the House chambers. As CNN reports:

President Donald Trump insisted in a letter Wednesday he would deliver his annual State of the Union address from the chamber of the US House next week as planned, telling House Speaker Nancy Pelosi her concerns about security during a partial government shutdown were unfounded…

…He said the speech would occur on January 29 from the House chamber.

“It would be so very sad for our country, if the State of the Union were not delivered on time, on schedule, and very importantly, on location!” he wrote. [Pols emphasis]

As speaker, it is Pelosi’s prerogative to invite the President to deliver the annual address. Both the House and the Senate would need to pass resolutions convening a Joint Session of Congress before the President’s appearance. And it’s not yet clear — despite Trump’s insistence he would be appearing in the Capitol next Tuesday — whether Pelosi would take the required steps.

In times like these — with a record government shutdown and an administration under investigation for federal crimes — it’s important that we focus on the things that are most important. You know, like making sure that the State of the Union speech is delivered at its traditional location.

 

► Republican State Rep. Lori Saine (R-Weld County) is still getting whacked over comments she made suggesting that white and black people were lynched in equal numbers after Reconstruction (comments first reported here at Colorado Pols).

Saine’s ridiculous antics — this is a pattern of behavior, remember — has earned her a new title from Westword: “Colorado’s Nastiest, Most Clueless Politician.”

This week, Colorado Representative Lori Saine stirred controversy (again) with a “tribute” to Martin Luther King Jr. in which she argued that blacks and whites were once lynched in “almost equal numbers.” She also struck back against naysayers by claiming that a fellow white Republican was a victim of reverse racism.

This combination of idiocy and vindictiveness is Saine’s brand, as Westword has documented over the past decade.

Even the Russians think Saine is a bit nutty. Colorado Republicans, meanwhile, remain silent about Saine.

 

Get even more smarter after the jump…

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Get More Smarter on Tuesday (January 22)

If you have gone the entire month without once writing “2018,” then give yourself a nice pat on the back. Now, 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 a visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show.

 

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► The federal government shutdown is now in its 32nd day, and supporters of President Trump are increasingly getting fed up with the man they helped elect to the White House. From the Washington Post:

“What the [expletive] were we thinking?”  [Pols emphasis] he asked the other night inside a Walmart here, in an area of blue-collar suburban Detroit that helped deliver the presidency to Trump.

While Trump’s relationship with much of his base remains strong, two years after his inauguration his ties are fraying with voters like Jeff Daudert, the kind who voted in droves for Trump in key pockets throughout the industrial Midwest, flipping previously Democratic states to him in 2016. The shutdown fight, as it has played out over the past month, is further eroding the president’s support among voters who like the idea of beefing up border security — but not enough to close the government.

Many here, even those who still support Trump, say they hold him most responsible. They recite his comment from the Oval Office that he would be “proud to shut down the government.” When he said it, they listened. [Pols emphasis]

“What the [expletive] were we thinking?” If there is a more perfect quote for Trump supporters, we’d love to see it.

 

► In local shutdown news, Colorado has spent more than $100,000 on unemployment benefits for federal workers who aren’t getting paychecks anymore; Gov. Jared Polis authorized an emergency rule to allow federal employees who remain on the job (without pay) to apply for unemployment benefits.

As the Denver Post reports, the shutdown is causing significant economic damage across a broad range of sectors in Colorado.

 

Senate Republicans have ceded the shutdown/border wall debate to President Trump, offering little resistance to their man in the White House. And as Politico reports, upcoming Senate legislation to end the shutdown is filled with sharp, pointy bits that won’t do much for a compromise:

A 1,300-page spending bill released by Senate Republicans Monday night contains provisions to restrict asylum and other hard-line immigration changes that make it unlikely to generate bipartisan support.

Democrats already were poised to reject President Donald Trump’s proposal to pass his $5.7 billion funding request for a border wall in exchange for temporary protections for some immigrants brought to the United States as children and others covered by a humanitarian status. But hawkish measures embedded in the Republican spending bill will give Democrats even more reason to spurn the legislation.

“This is a Stephen Miller special,” Kerri Talbot, a director with the Washington, D.C.-based Immigration Hub, told reporters Tuesday. “It’s a Trojan horse with many extreme immigration proposals included.”

The bill doesn’t appear likely to end a partial shutdown of the federal government that stretched into its 32nd day Tuesday.

Elsewhere, CNN takes a look at six potential scenarios that could possibly lead to an end of the government shutdown.

 

► Republican State Rep. Lori Saine (R-Weld County) is getting blasted in both local and national press over comments she made suggesting that white and black people were lynched in equal numbers after Reconstruction (comments first reported here at Colorado Pols). Here’s a brief rundown of the coverage.

You know you done f*cked up when even Fox News calls you out.

 

Get even more smarter after the jump…

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