No Russia for You!

Three more Colorado politicians can’t go…here, anymore.

Three more prominent Colorado Democrats have been banned from entering Russia: Gov. Jared Polis, Attorney General Phil Weiser, and Congresswoman Brittany Pettersen.

As Colorado Newsline explains:

Three elected officials from Colorado are included on a new list that Russia’s Foreign Ministry released of 500 U.S. citizens banned from entering the country.

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis, Attorney General Phil Weiser and U.S. Rep. Brittany Pettersen of Lakewood, all Democrats, are named on the list alongside other government officials, journalists, professors and historians, and arms company leaders who have supported Ukraine…

…The Russian ministry’s statement said the new entry bans come as the Biden administration “regularly imposes personal anti-Russia sanctions … to create as much hardship for Russia as possible.”

Polis and Weiser were not exactly heartbroken by the news:


Polis, Weiser, and Pettersen join a long list of other local and national officials who have shown support for Ukraine amid the country’s invasion by Russia — and subsequently suffered the great tourism ban as a result.

Don’t Pine For Erik Aadland

2022 CD-7 loser Erik “Oddland” Aadland.

As you may have read by now, the Denver Post’s editorial board laid into the Colorado Republican Party this morning for their disastrous selection of former state Rep. Dave “Let’s Go Brandon” Williams to serve as the next party chairman, succeeding Kristi Burton Brown who presided over a 2022 election cycle that will go into the history books as an “extinction-level event.”

We’ll give the Post credit for their unsparing condemnation of Williams, who has a well-earned reputation for Ted Cruz levels of bipartisan disaffection:

We aren’t sure exactly what was going through the heads of the approximately 200 Republican Party leaders who voted for Williams. We thought that conservative El Paso County sent a pretty clear message about Williams’ divisive brand of politics – often divorced from reality – when only 33% of voters in Congressional District 5 supported Williams.

A conservative who can’t win a majority in El Paso County against a flawed incumbent who faced an embarrassing personal scandal involving the misuse of congressional office resources, including allowing his son to sleep in Capitol office space, should be a red flag to those who hope for a Republican Party comeback.

And yet, Williams is now bearing the standard for the Colorado GOP…

There’s little to argue with in the Post’s thorough takedown of Williams’ career going back to anti-LGBT antics on the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs campus. Succeeding the equally offensive Rep. Gordon “Dr. Chaps” Klingenschmitt in deep-red House District 15, Williams built his career on pushing the rhetorical envelope on the full range of far-right causes from election denial to militant anti-vaxxism. With Williams at the helm, the Colorado Republican Party is headed for two more years in open opposition to the sensibilities of a majority of Colorado voters. After the catastrophic 2022 midterms that were supposed to mark the beginning of a comeback, short of perhaps Tina Peters herself, Williams is the worst possible choice to lead the party into 2024.

From there, we are obliged to correct the record on an important point next raised in this editorial:

The second-place choice, Erik Aadland, would have been a much wiser choice.

Aadland is a thoughtful man who served this country in the Marines. Yes, he was caught on camera once fully endorsing the stolen election conspiracy, but Aadland has worked hard to distance himself from that position, including taking a more forceful stance against the election lies when he ran for Congress than GOP candidate for governor, Heidi Ganahl, did in 2020.

This favorable depiction of an election denier who found truth is not our experience with failed 2022 CD-7 candidate Erik “Oddland” Aadland, who–as this attempted whitewash makes clear–tells different audiences different stories about the 2020 presidential election based on what he thinks they want to hear. When directly called out for his very clear previous assertions during a debate last fall against now-Rep. Brittany Pettersen, Aadland made a fool of himself trying to bothsides the issue:


The closest Aadland came in this debate to admitting he was wrong about the 2020 elections is when he said he has “evolved” from the speech he gave at the start of his campaign claiming the election was “absolutely rigged”–“recognizing the divisiveness of that language.” But as we’ve seen in other debates this year, conceding a viewpoint is “divisive” is not the same as admitting it was wrong. Especially not while Aadland insists the real problem is Hillary Clinton.

And sure enough, during his campaign for GOP chair, Aadland coyly hedged his words for the GOP faithful, even while correctly saying that rehashing 2020 is a losing issue:

“Clearly Biden won, by hook or by crook,” [Pols emphasis] says Aadland.

In short, sure–Erik Aadland doesn’t want to talk about 2020 anymore. We get that. But he’s also never going to say the words that would truly put his election conspiracy theorist background behind him, at least not so long as he still entertains the idea of public office as a Republican someday. There are just too many Republicans for whom the Big Lie is gospel truth, and it’s clear that Aadland only “softened” his position for short-term political expediency. As much of a danger as Dave Williams represents to Republicans’ ongoing viability in a state that has been steadily shifting leftward for many years, it’s equally dangerous to let election deniers like Erik Aadland off the hook for views they haven’t actually repudiated.

Dave Williams is a disaster, but there were also no good alternatives. Admitting to the former comes easy, especially considering how many Republicans don’t like Williams. But the latter contains the hardest truth for Colorado Republicans.

Banking, Biden, and Boebert Baloney

Lauren Boebert’s daily decision

Congressperson Lauren Boebert (R-ifle) is not a particularly complicated politician. Boebert only has one setting no matter the issue being discussed: Yell at Joe Biden.

It is not uncommon for Boebert to go overboard in her anti-Biden zeal, particularly when the topic being discussed is complicated enough that she might have to stop and do a little reading in order to actually understand the issue. But conducting research or reading memos would take time away from drafting her next Biden rant, so she skips that part and goes straight to the yelling.

It’s fair to say that you could criticize Boebert for many of her comments, whether from social media posts, Congressional committee hearings, or wacky House Floor rants. But sometimes Boebert pushes a narrative that is so completely false that it can be harmful to the country as a whole. This is what Boebert has been doing in response to the failure of two big banks: Silicon Valley Bank (SVB) and Signature Bank of New York (SBNY).


This rhetoric is particularly dangerous because there are plenty of Boebert followers who will believe — to some extent — that the Biden administration is “bailing out” these two failed banks and picking favorites in deciding which banks get government help. But that isn’t what is actually happening. 

We can quickly dispense with Boebert’s favoritism claim; SBNY was a go-to bank for Donald Trump and son-in-law Jared Kushner, and Ivanka Trump sat on SBNY’s board of directors.

Look familiar?

The bigger issue is that the government is not “bailing out” these failed banks. The federal government is instead playing a role it first started in the 1930s to backstop the economy and protect regular depositors. You might be familiar with one of these central concepts: The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), which guarantees the money people deposit in a bank up to a certain amount. The FDIC is supposed to protect depositors from a bank failure — that’s why it exists and why you see those little signs about the FDIC whenever you speak with a bank teller.

As White House economics reporter Jeff Stein explains for The Washington Post:

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation will guarantee all deposits at SVB and Signature — even those above the usual $250,000 limit. SVB held roughly $150 billion in uninsured deposits, and Signature Bank held more than $70 billion in uninsured deposits. Those customers will be able to access all their funds now, even though the banks collapsed. This sends the message that customers have no reason to move their money, because they won’t lose it if their bank goes down.

The government also tried to ensure that most banks don’t get close to failing in the first place. So the Federal Reserve announced a new special lending facility with unusually generous terms: It will loan money to banks that put their assets up as collateral, even if those assets are worth less now than what the bank paid for them. Typically, the central bank only lends against the current value for a bank’s assets, according to Todd Phillips, who served as an attorney at FDIC. The move means banks shouldn’t have trouble getting access to cash if customers start withdrawing funds.

The federal government is not going to bring SVB or SBNY “back to life.” Executives at these banks will not keep their jobs. The money used to reimburse depositors will NOT come from taxpayers, but from the Deposit Insurance Fund that U.S. banks HAVE ALREADY BEEN PAYING INTO. 

Caitlyn Kim and Sarah Mulholland have more for Colorado Public Radio:

President Joe Biden on Monday tried to reassure the public and calm the markets over the state of the banking system.

“Look, the bottom line is this: Americans can rest assured that our banking system is safe. Your deposits are safe,” he said…

…The Colorado Bankers Association is also trying to reassure people that the troubles aren’t likely to spread to regional banks here.

Rep. Brittany Pettersen (D-Jefferson County)

Instead of listening to Boebert, let’s go to someone who actually knows what she is talking about: Rep. Brittany Pettersen (D-Jefferson County), who sits on the House Financial Services Committee:

“Right now, it seems that any immediate threats to our financial system caused by the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank (SVB) and New York Signature Bank have been averted,” she said in a statement. “It’s important for people to understand that the actions of the FDIC, the Federal Reserve, and the Treasury Department will not use any taxpayer dollars, and cannot be considered a ‘bailout.’”

Pettersen said she wants to avoid situations like this in the future and joined a letter to key regulators “urging swift action to prevent broader bank failures.” Pettersen and her staff have been involved in multiple briefings with regulators about SVB since Friday. The Financial Services Committee will also be holding a members-only briefing Monday evening, according to a senior advisor with knowledge.

Boebert also had access to a briefing from the Biden administration and the Treasury department, but she came away with a very different understanding:

Say what?


This doesn’t even make sense. But if it lets Boebert boo Biden, then she’s happy.

Boebert narrowly won re-election in 2022 by a 546-vote margin. She said then that it was time to “take the temperature down” in Washington D.C. and prove that Republicans can lead with “strength” and “grace.” That promise was forgotten by Christmas because Boebert doesn’t know any other way forward. She has no operating principle beyond “Biden and Democrats suck.” This is her shtick, and she leans in HARD at every opportunity.

But at some point — and this is one of those points — politicians need to set the rhetoric aside for the good of the country. Suppose Boebert’s anti-Biden screeching helped stoke a run on banks that set the country on the course toward another financial crisis like we saw in 2008? Don’t laugh — bad information often leads to bad decisions and worse outcomes.

Somebody in the GOP caucus needs to explain to Boebert that partisan hackery can eventually be dangerous for all Americans. Let’s just hope that conversation happens before Boebert breaks something that we can’t glue back together.

And There Was Not Much in the Way of Rejoicing

Via The Bulwark (3/13/23)

We wrote on Sunday about former State Rep. Dave Williams emerging as the “winner” of the race to become the next Chairperson of the Colorado Republican Party. Our analysis of Williams’ victory was decidedly grim for the GOP; judging by a roundup of news articles related to Saturday’s State Republican Party Chair election, we weren’t alone in that assessment.

Writing for The Bulwark, former Colorado Republican Tim Miller sees Williams’ election as another stop on the state GOP’s train ride to oblivion:

…the GOP’s most wild-eyed members are determined to run things even further into the ground. This weekend they handed the keys to the party to a tiny cloister of extremists more interested in owning the libs than fixing their losing brand…

…In his speech accepting the new role Williams said, “We are the party that elected Donald J. Trump, and we are not going to apologize for that anymore.” (Minor fact check: Donald Trump lost Colorado twice, most recently by 13 points).

Pro-Trump, anti-gay, anti-vax. Determined to change the party rules to prevent independents from participating. This doesn’t seem like a path to success in a blue state. But maybe Mr. Let’s Go Brandon sees something I don’t.

New beard, new leadership

Miller once worked for Bill Owens, the last Republican in Colorado to be elected Governor. As former State Party Chair Dick Wadhams told Miller:

You might’ve worked for the only Republican Colorado governor in your lifetime.”

Wadhams was equally pessimistic in speaking with Ernest Luning of the publication formerly known as the Colorado Statesman:

Colorado Republicans on Saturday elected Dave Williams, a former state lawmaker from Colorado Springs who insists that former President Donald Trump won the 2020 presidential election, to lead the state party for the next two years.

“We need a wartime leader who will boldy articulate our conservative, America-first agenda while going toe-to-toe with the radical Democrats every chance we get,” Williams said in a combative speech before the first round of voting at a party meeting in Loveland.

Williams takes control of a Republican Party riddled with infighting and reeling from a string of losses in a state whose voters elected Democrats to every statewide office in last year’s midterm election.

“It’s just going to be a wasteland at the Colorado Republican Party for the next two years.”

     — Former Republican Party Chair Dick Wadhams on the GOP Chair election


Sandra Fish of The Colorado Sun noted that Williams was more than happy to name names when it came to talking about of all of his perceived enemies:

Williams pledged Saturday that the party will go to court to prevent unaffiliated voters from participating in the GOP primary election. A similar effort by individual Republicans failed in federal court in 2022.

“Right now there are efforts to eliminate the caucus by the consultant class and a wealthy unaffiliated millionaire who hates our party,” he said, referencing Kent Thiry, the former DaVita CEO.

Williams also criticized past party leadership.

“Our party doesn’t have a brand problem,” he said. “Our party has a problem with feckless leaders who are ashamed of you and ashamed of our conservative values.” [Pols emphasis]

Fish adds that Williams also promised to overhaul the staff at the State Republican Party:

“Everyone’s going to have to go through a rehiring process, they’re going to resubmit their applications,” Williams said.

Inspiring stuff! Who’s ready to get yelled at?

Via The Washington Post (3/13/23)

Bente Birkeland of Colorado Public Radio has more on Williams’ airing of grievances:

“Here’s the truth that the fake news media, crooked politicians, and the failed consultants won’t tell you,” Williams said in his speech at the Embassy Suites Convention Center in Loveland, “our party can win again, but only if we first reject their failed leadership and go on offense.”

Williams, who is Latino and lives in Colorado Springs, served six years in the state legislature before mounting an unsuccessful primary challenge against congressman Doug Lamborn last year. He tried to include the anti-Biden slogan ‘Let’s go Brandon’ as his nickname on the ballot, but was denied by a judge.

Saturday’s GOP reorganization meeting was held in the shadow of ongoing electoral losses. Democrats currently hold every statewide office and five of Colorado’s eight congressional seats (and came within 546 votes of claiming a sixth).

If it makes you feel any better — and if you are a Republican, it should not — Colorado is far from the only state to have selected an election denier as a State Party Chairperson. Idaho, Kansas, and Michigan recently went in the same direction, and Florida selected a former Trump staffer to lead its state party.

It was just a week ago that Ernest Luning wrote for the Colorado Springs Gazette’s political website that Republican state chair candidates were vowing “to learn from losses” suffered in recent election cycles.

Maybe the “learning from losses” part comes later.

Debate Diary: The Wacky Race for State Republican Party Chair

A free-ranging debate between six candidates for Colorado Republican Party chair last Saturday was sponsored by the Republican Women of Weld County, a group that does a pretty good job of wrangling Republican candidates for all sorts of different candidate forums. The moderators were Jesse Paul of The Colorado Sun and Ernest Luning of the publication formerly known as the Colorado Statesman. 

The venue was Ben’s Brick Oven Pizza in Hudson, Colorado, where about two dozen old white people gathered to hear the six candidates for State Republican Party Chair lay out whatever it is that they think can prevent the no-longer-slow death of the Colorado GOP following a 2022 election beatdown of epic proportions.

The candidates are:

♦ Erik Aadland, who ran for U.S. Senate on a platform of election denial in 2022 before switching horses to CO-07, where he was thoroughly dismantled by Democrat Brittany Pettersen.

♦ Casper Stockham, who ran for State GOP Chair in 2021 and lost. Stockham has also run (and failed to win) races in CO-01, CO-06, and CO-07 in recent years. Statistically-speaking, this might be Stockham’s year if only because you’d think he’d have to win something eventually. 

♦ Aaron Wood, who is fairly new to organized politics but is certain that everyone else, especially outgoing party chair Kristi Burton Brown, is doing it wrong.

♦ Tina Peters, the former Mesa County Clerk and Recorder who is a betting favorite to be in prison before the end of this year for a long list of alleged crimes related to breaking into her own election computers in an attempt to find the little ballot-eating smurfs that live inside the server. 

♦ Dave “Let’s Go Brandon” Willams, the far-right “edgelord” former State Representative from Colorado Springs who got his butt kicked by America’s least charismatic Rep. Doug Lamborn in a Republican primary for Congress last summer.

♦ Kevin Lundberg, a former State Representative and State Senator who has won more races himself than the rest of this field combined. Unfortunately for fans of sanity, Lundberg was a right-wing lunatic years before it was popular to be a right-wing lunatic–so it’s not like he’s bringing a different perspective to the race.

Let’s start with the obvious: there are no winners in this pack. As former State Republican Party Chair Dick Wadhams observed recently, “every one of these six candidates would drive the party into deeper oblivion with their conspiratorial, exclusionary and politically naïve agendas that are already repelling a rapidly changing Colorado electorate.”

As you’ll discover, every one of the candidates who participated in this debate proved Wadhams right.

Let’s get to it. Anything not included in direct quotes is paraphrased in the interest of time.


The Circle of Strife: Republicans Set Sail in Separate Leaky Boats

MONDAY UPDATE: Republicans in Jefferson County are having their own set of problems, as this Facebook post explains:


UPDATE: Going great!


[Pols Note: This is Part Two of a three-part series]

Oh Captains, My Captains!

In part one of “The Circle of Strife,” we covered the ongoing feud between the El Paso County Republican Party and the State Republican Party. On Tuesday evening, the State GOP voted by a 139-123.8 margin (yes, 123.8) to allow a neutral group of observers to oversee the Feb. 11 election for new officers in El Paso County. The reason for this unprecedented vote is because of concerns that two-term El Paso Chair Vickie Tonkins (who is also seeking re-election) is trying to rig the election in her favor. 

This is not a new accusation – similar charges were made when Tonkins was re-elected in 2021 – but the El Paso GOP is so mad about being bigfooted by its statewide siblings that it filed a lawsuit against the State Party to stop the influence of a “neutral group of observers.” Meanwhile, accusations of election interference are also being made in Adams County regarding Chairperson JoAnn Windholz

While these battles are fascinating on their own, they are also part of a longer trend for Colorado Republicans that goes back more than a decade. It isn’t the GOP’s neverending circular firing squad that is solely responsible for recent election losses; but when you understand the history of these conflicts, it’s easy to wonder how Republicans even have the time or energy to worry about Democrats.

The timeline we reconstructed below begins in January 2019, but Republican leadership problems go much further back. For instance, the “Coffmangate” scandal of 2015 was as wild and ridiculous as anything Colorado Republicans have done since. The short version of “Coffmangate” is that a handful of powerful Republicans – including then-Attorney General Cynthia Coffman – attempted to overthrow State Republican Party Chair Steve House just three months after his election to the post. The scandal included some pretty believable stories of blackmail, which made it national news throughout the summer of 2015.

January 2019 was a pivotal time for the State Republican Party. The 2018 election had been devastating to Republicans both because of the results and because of the shattering of expectations that had grown after Donald Trump’s Presidential election in 2016. Democrat Jared Polis trounced Republican Walker Stapleton in the race for Governor by nearly 11 points; Democrats won all four statewide constitutional offices for the first time in modern history; Republicans lost six seats in the state legislature; and Democratic newcomer Jason Crow ousted longtime Republican Rep. Mike Coffman in CO-06 by an 11-point margin.

The 2022 election was dubbed by one Republican as “an extinction-level event.”

Then-State GOP Chair Jeff Hays was wrapping up a disappointing two-year term by promising not to seek re-election. Colorado Republicans SHOULD have been introspective about their 2018 performance and looking to chart a different path forward ahead of the 2020 election cycle, where they would be trying to re-elect the last remaining well-known Republican in Colorado (Sen. Cory Gardner). Instead, the GOP went with a new leader who only worked at the job of Chair when he had time away from his regular job of serving in Congress. Naturally, a part-time effort generated half-assed results. 

In May 2020, we chronicled Rep. Ken Buck’s disastrous first year as State Chair. In that same spirit, here’s a broader timeline of the many, many, many Republican missteps that brought them to their current “Circle of Strife.” 

As you’ll see below, there is one consistent commonality among all of the personalities involved with the Colorado Republican Party: Regret, rinse, and repeat. Republican leaders keep making the same mistakes by appealing to the right-wing for short-term gains and then finding themselves flummoxed when that same group creates a whole new batch of problems.



Pettersen Lands Spot on “A-List” Committee

Congresswoman Brittany Pettersen (D-Lakewood)

Democrat Brittany Pettersen, a freshman lawmaker from Lakewood now representing CO-07, picked up an important committee assignment this week.

As POLITICO explains:

Democrats also named their rosters for the most desired “A” committees — Energy and Commerce, Financial Services, Appropriations, and Ways and Means…

…Just two freshmen — Reps. Wiley Nickel (N.C.) and Brittany Pettersen (Colo.) — nabbed a spot on one of the panels. They both landed on Financial Services.

This is a pretty impressive accomplishment for Pettersen to be one of two freshmen — along with the fantastically-named Rep. Wiley Nickel — to earn an assignment on one of the four most influential House committees (Energy and Commerce, Financial Services, Appropriations, and Ways and Means).

Only one other Member of Congress from Colorado sits on one of these top four committees: Rep. Diana DeGette of Denver is a member of the House Energy & Commerce committee.

Congressman Joe Neguse of Boulder was also recently appointed to the House Rules Committee, which is sort of like a “B-Plus Committee” but with the caveat that he’s going to have to deal with a whole lot of crazy; Reps. Chip Roy, Thomas Massie, and Ralph Norman are among the Republican members of the House Rules Committee.

Preventing Voter Fraud to Make Room for More Election Deniers


Every accusation is a confession. 

This phrase has become increasingly popular since the rise of Donald Trump in Republican politics. Its origins are often misattributed, in part, to former Nazi Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels. The concept of “accusing the other side of that which you are guilty” may have been a tactic espoused by Goebbels, but it is not clear that he publicly said this directly (though he did accuse critics of Nazi Germany of doing something similar).

Whatever the etymology of the phrase, it’s hard to argue that it doesn’t often apply to Republicans – particularly those who incessantly accuse others of election fraud. Real examples of actual election fraud are actually very rare, but when it does happen, it is almost always a Republican committing the fraud (see HERE, HERE, or HERE for just a few examples in Colorado). Earlier this month, a Republican election official in New York pleaded guilty to using voters’ personal information in order to obtain multiple absentee ballots. 

The latest example of concerns about election fraud involves the entire Colorado Republican Party. As Ernest Luning reports for the publication formerly known as the Colorado Statesman:

Colorado Republican Chairwoman Kristi Burton Brown wants state Republicans to decide whether an outside entity should run the El Paso County GOP’s upcoming officer elections.

Responding to what she described as “ongoing internal conflict” between Republicans in Colorado’s largest county, Burton Brown called a special meeting of the state GOP’s central committee for Jan. 31 in an email sent to committee members late Monday.

The county party is scheduled to elect a chair, vice chair, secretary and bonus members — based on top-ticket Republican votes received in the November election — to two-year terms on Feb. 11, part of the regular reorganization Colorado’s political parties undertake in odd-numbered years. The state party picks its own leadership at the end of March, with ballots cast by the newly elected county officers and bonus members, along with elected GOP officials.

As things stand, the El Paso County Republican Party’s leadership election will be run by two-term county chair Vickie Tonkins and her lieutenants, but under the proposal floated by Burton Brown, the state party could decide to substitute a “neutral party outside El Paso County” to conduct the election.

Burton said she decided to call the special meeting — which will be held online on the Zoom teleconference platform — after receiving a request submitted last week in a petition that expressed concerns Tonkins won’t operate the party election fairly.

“We need a county organization in El Paso County that will support our Republican nominees — not attack them,” read the petition, which was signed by nearly 100 of the state central committee’s roughly 460 members.

El Paso County Republican Chairwoman/Supervillain Vicki Tonkins

Why would so many Republicans be concerned that El Paso County GOP Chair Vicki Tonkins might try to rig an election in order to help her supporters? 

Because Tonkins seems to do just that on a regular basis. 

Colorado Republicans made similar accusations two years ago, when Tonkins was re-elected as El Paso County GOP Chair despite “voting irregularities.” After Tonkins defeated Peggy Littleton by just seven votes, Littleton accused Tonkins of wrongly denying credentials for several voting members who Littleton believed were in her corner. 

Then-El Paso County Sheriff Bill Elder went so far as to call the El Paso County GOP elections a “sham.” A group of Republicans later took their concerns to State GOP Party leaders and appealed for a new election, but the state GOP central committee allowed the results to stand.  

Tonkins has continued to face accusations of bias; last February critics charged that Tonkins was bending the rules for her preferred candidates ahead of the GOP precinct caucuses in March 2022. Tonkins largely succeeded in ousting many longstanding Republicans in El Paso County. Mistrust of Tonkins continued into the fall, when a group of Republicans – including the campaigns for gubernatorial candidate Heidi Ganahl and Senate hopeful Joe O’Deacreated their own separate GOTV headquarters in Colorado Springs. Just days before the November election, Tonkins gathered her troops in El Paso County to officially “censure and condemn in the strongest possible terms” these Republicans – going so far as to even call on them to “cease and desist” using the word “Republican.”

This is all silly and ridiculous nonsense from a political party that thrives on silly and ridiculous nonsense, but the latest effort by outgoing State Party Chair Kristi Burton Brown (KBB) to remove Tonkins from overseeing an internal election underscores a very real problem for all Colorado Republicans. The Republicans who succeed in winning election to county party offices in February are the same folks who will be casting votes for the next group of people vying to run the entire State Republican Party in March. If Republicans can’t solve this local problem, they’re not going to be able to fix their statewide issues. 

Kristi Burton Brown

This entire circus is full of delicious irony. When KBB was elected State Party Chair in March 2021 – fresh off of serving as the President of the militia group FEC United – she was celebrated in some circles as the “grassroots” candidate who defeated the “establishment” choice of former Secretary of State Scott Gessler. Both KBB and Gessler had courted Republican voters by talking about their commitment to – wait for it – fighting election fraud and the outcome of the 2020 Presidential election. 

Following the November 2022 “Bluenami” that decimated Republicans statewide, critics began lambasting KBB as a “RINO” (Republican In Name Only). Those critics have also referred to the state GOP leadership as “asswipes” and “whores.” To the surprise of nobody, KBB announced in late December that she would not seek re-election as State Party Chair. 

Several Republicans have announced that they will seek to become the next State GOP Chair, including retread loser Casper Stockham; GOP “activist” Aaron Wood; failed 2022 State Senate candidate Stephen Varela; and failed 2022 Senate/congressional candidate Erik Aadland, who lost to Democrat Brittany Pettersen in CO-07 by 15 points. During his campaign for Congress, Aadland regularly cast doubt on the outcome of the 2020 Presidential election, at one point saying that Democrat Joe Biden’s victory was “absolutely rigged.” 

In short, Colorado Republicans are trying to prevent one of their own (Tonkins) from rigging a county leadership election so that they can be confident that there will be no malfeasance in March when Republicans select new State Party leadership from among a bunch of candidates who are themselves election deniers. 

Colorado Republicans…this is your life.

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.

Rep-Elect Brittany Pettersen Gets More Smarter

State Sen. Brittany Pettersen and son Davis.

This week on the Get More Smarter Podcast, your hosts Jason Bane and Ian Silverii talk with Brittany Pettersen, Congresswoman-elect from the seventh congressional district (and Ian’s wife). Pettersen takes us behind the scenes for a look at what it’s like for a newly-elected Member of Congress to spend the week after the election learning the ins and outs of life at the U.S. Capitol. 

Later, we discuss Rep. Lauren Boebert’s narrow victory in CO-03; Donald Trump’s very sad 2024 campaign announcement; and leadership elections at the State Capitol. Happy Thanksgiving, and thank you for listening!

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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



Winners and Losers from the 2022 Election (Part 1)

We’ve been waiting to publish our annual “Winners and Losers” lists from the election until all of the big races had been finalized. But with the outcome in CO-03 likely headed to a recount, it’s time to just move ahead.

Up first is our list of “Winners” from 2022. This is not merely a list of winning candidates, of course, but a deeper dive into the winningest winners of the election cycle. We’ll post our “Losers” list separately.


The Winningest Winners of 2022



Republican candidates lied with impunity in 2022, but Colorado voters chose instead to believe their own eyes about the state of the state in which they live. Colorado schools are not overrun by kids in “furry” costumes. Colorado is not #2 in fentanyl deaths. Denver is not a smoking crater in the ground. Jared Polis did not steal your car. Google is not out to get Joe O’Dea


Felix Lopez

Er, maybe not.

In politics, as in life, sometimes your best moves are the ones you DON’T make. Republican Las Animas County Commissioner Felix Lopez was GOP gubernatorial nominee Heidi Ganahl’s first choice to be her running mate and Lieutenant Governor – to the point that Ganahl was teasing an announcement in early July. But Lopez started having second thoughts as an announcement neared and ultimately decided to back out. Ganahl’s candidacy ended up being so historically bad that everyone who was at all associated with her campaign will be forever tainted. Perhaps Lopez is not interested in seeking higher office, but at least now he still has that option.


Lisa Cutter and Tammy Story

These Jefferson County Democrats were significantly impacted by redistricting and other political decisions taking place in their respective orbits. 

When Brittany Pettersen decided to seek a seat in Congress, Cutter was the obvious choice to run for Pettersen’s Lakewood-area State Senate seat. The problem for Cutter was that Republican Tim Walsh was willing and able to spend more than a million dollars of his own money to become a state senator himself. Despite a barrage of advertising in SD-20, Cutter ended up winning by nearly 10 points.

Story was a State Senator herself when redistricting changed the political landscape and chopped up her Southwest Jefferson County Senate district. Instead of taking the loss and moving on, Story decided to run for a State House seat in South Jeffco (HD-25) and ended up pulling off an upset (an incumbent State Senator running for State House is incredibly rare). Story’s narrow victory in HD-25 proved very consequential for Republicans, because it ousted incumbent Rep. Colin Larson – who was likely to become the next House Minority Leader if he had been re-elected.


Steve Fenberg

Senate President Steve Fenberg has now led his caucus to three consecutive majorities, including an unprecedented 23-vote majority in 2022. Fenberg should remain in charge of the State Senate through 2024 and will be well-positioned for higher office when he’s finished.


Jared Polis 

Winning re-election had been a foregone conclusion for months, given the sheer ineptitude of Republican Heidi Ganahl. But winning re-election by 20 points was something that virtually nobody saw coming. Polis is only the fourth major statewide candidate in Colorado to win by 20+ points since 1990. Polis was first elected Governor in 2018 by an 11-point margin; clearly, Colorado voters approve of both Polis and his policies. 


Michael Bennet

The incumbent Democratic Senator had been elected twice before, but had never quite reached 50% of the total vote in Colorado (he came really close in 2016). As of this writing, Bennet is on the cusp of surpassing 56% of the total vote, extending his margin of victory over Republican Joe O’Dea to 15 points.


Most Colorado Media Outlets

National media outlets played a silly game that we documented repeatedly in which they pretended that Republican Joe O’Dea might knock off incumbent Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet, who ended up winning by 15 points. Most Colorado media outlets did not buy into this nonsense narrative and instead focused on actual on-the-ground reporting to guide their coverage – in this race and every other in Colorado. 

Kyle Clark of 9News

Colorado journalists did a good job asking the relevant questions of candidates, from Heidi Ganahl’s September 2021 campaign kickoff to the fall 2022 debates. For example:

Jesse Paul of The Colorado Sun asking O’Dea if he voted YES on Proposition 115, a 2020 ballot measure that sought to make abortion illegal after 22 weeks of pregnancy (a measure opposed by 69% of Colorado voters). This was a great question that clarified O’Dea’s impossible efforts to dance around the subject and take every side of the abortion issue, and it was a question that only a good local reporter would know to ask;

Spencer Soicher of KRDO in Colorado Springs asking Ganahl if she really believed that Colorado schools were being overrun by “furries.” Ganahl doubled-down on her nonsense claims, validating Soicher’s question;

♦ Longtime Denver Post editor Dean Singleton hosting a candidate forum in which he repeatedly pressed Ganahl to provide actual details on some of her loudest claims (including her nonsense proposal to eliminate Colorado’s income tax without a plan for how to make up the resulting $11 billion budget shortfall);

 Multiple news outlets reporting the facts about various residency questions for several candidates.

Kyle Clark of 9News pressing O’Dea to provide proof for his claim that Google was “censoring” his campaign, which led to one of our favorite quotes of the election cycle

♦ 9News, Fox 31, Denver7 and other outlets calling out CD-8 candidate Barb Kirkmeyer’s indefensible lie that Democrats “legalized fentanyl.” In taking apart this falsehood, 9News educated viewers on how reporters evaluate misleading statements from candidates, and what escalates a merely false statement from a “lie” (when a candidate, in this case Kirkmeyer, KNOWS that what they are saying is untrue).

In future elections, we’d like more of this, please. 

There were exceptions to this trend, unfortunately. Shaun Boyd of CBS4 Denver regularly showed that she has no interest whatsoever in trying to get a story correct; she was just about the only local journalist who bought into the nonsense “O’Dea surprise” narrative pushed by Republican operatives. Many of her “truth tests” were flat out wrong on the details and the facts presented. Her ridiculous story suggesting that every school district in Colorado was covering up a non-existent “furry” epidemic should never have made it onto the air. Whether Boyd is just lazy or an outright hack, we would be embarrassed to work with her. 


Residents of CO-03

Enough of this, thanks.

Regardless of the final outcome between incumbent Republican Rep. Lauren Boebert and Democrat Adam Frisch, voters in CO-03 stood up and declared that they were fed up with Boebert’s silly theatrics and her lack of accomplishments in the district. Multiple stories emerged before and after the election in which voters – many of them Republicans – told reporters that they were embarrassed by Boebert’s antics and just wanted a Representative who would do the actual job required of them.

If Boebert does manage to eke out another term, Republicans would be wise to organize strong opposition in a GOP Primary so that they aren’t facing another election in which they could lose a seat that otherwise favors Republicans by 9 points.  


Non-Republican Polling Outfits 

Lots of Republican pollsters made fools of themselves in 2022. Meanwhile, polling from Global Strategy Group (including the “Mountaineer”) and the University of Colorado did a good job of accurately measuring what was really happening in our state. The Colorado Sun covered this well in a recent edition of its “Unaffiliated” newsletter. 


Colorado’s Election System

Colorado’s all-mail ballot system worked perfectly once again. It is both easy to cast a ballot in Colorado and difficult to vote fraudulently. You can track your ballot in Colorado through its entire life cycle, from when it gets sent out in the mail to when it is received by your county clerk. The only people who want more restrictions on voting are those who want fewer people to cast ballots. 

This Tweet from former Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker was “liked” and “shared” by several Colorado Republican “leaders.” What critics of Colorado’s voting system are really saying is that they believe we should change the voting age to “middle-age white people” so that Republicans might be able to win elections in Colorado.



Mike Lynch 

It’s tough to find a Republican “Winner” from 2022, but we’ll go with Lynch after the Northern Colorado Republican was elected House Minority Leader following another awful Election Day for the GOP. We debated about whether to put this in the “Losers” category, however, because being the House Minority Leader in a Republican caucus in 2023 is like “winning” a basket full of rattlesnakes infected with COVID. 


Women in the General Assembly

For the first time in state history, more than 50% of the members of the Colorado legislature are women. That’s pretty cool. 


Yadira Caraveo

Caraveo’s victory in the newly-formed CO-08 was considered by some national prognosticators – including Nathaniel Rakich of – to be a YUGE surprise. Given how blue Colorado has become, we’re not sure Caraveo qualifies as a “biggest upset,” but defeating Republican Barbara Kirkmeyer in a close race is still an impressive victory.


Brittany Pettersen

It’s no easy task to follow a beloved politician such as retiring Rep. Ed Perlmutter, especially when the district is redrawn in a significant fashion. No matter. Pettersen ran a virtually flawless campaign and cruised to a 15-point victory over Republican Erik Aadland. She’ll be safe here for the next decade. 


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.

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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

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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.

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The Best Ad of 2022 Shows Democrats the Way on Fentanyl

This new television ad from the CO-07 campaign of Democrat Brittany Pettersen is the single best spot we have seen in Colorado in 2022. Take a look:



This single TV ad absolutely demolishes attacks by Republican opponent Erik Aadland intended to label Pettersen as being on the wrong side of the debate about the proliferation of fentanyl and the opioid crisis in general. It is an incredibly powerful spot that is beautifully produced, but what makes it so strong is the story it tells.

Republicans up and down the ballot have been using “fentanyl” as their primary bogeyman in 2022, distorting the issue to such a degree that Colorado media outlets finally started pushing back on the nonsense. But an increase in “fentanyl” use isn’t some new issue that Democrats have been ignoring, despite what Republican politicians such as Hiedi Heidi Ganahl would like voters to believe.

This ad shows Democrats how to reshape the fentanyl crisis as an issue that they have worked hard to address in a thoughtful manner — which is a narrative that also happens to be true. There are no easy solutions here, but Democrats have not shied away from trying to find an answer that doesn’t involve just locking away any person who ever even thought about a substance that might include fentanyl.

We’ve seen it time and time again: Good storytelling ALWAYS beats empty talking points.

In Which Erik Aadland Realizes That He’s Sunk


Republican Erik Aadland is sinking fast, and he has finally realized that national Republicans will not be extending any branches to save him.

Aadland is a full-fledged election denier who began the 2022 election cycle as a candidate for U.S. Senate before switching metaphorical horses and capturing the GOP nominee for Congress in CO-07 (Jefferson County-ish) for the right to take on Democrat Brittany Pettersen.

Aadland used his “Big Lie” beliefs to garner enough Republican support to win the June 28th Primary, but his subsequent efforts to scrub away the MAGA went over about as well as Joe O’Dea pouring a Michelob Ultra into a glass of ice. Aadland has struggled to raise money for his campaign, but even if he had the resources to reach more voters, it’s not clear that he has a coherent message for them anyway. National Republicans have been pouring money into Colorado’s eighth congressional district but have largely ignored CO-07 because of its Democratic-leaning electorate and Pettersen’s strong, well-financed campaign operation.

As The Colorado Times Recorder explains today via Twitter, the reality of Aadland’s situation is sinking in (pun intended):


Some Colorado Republicans have attempted to make the ridiculous argument that Democratic spending in CO-07 is a sign that Aadland is doing well, but Aadland’s admission today correctly blows up that strained logic. National Republicans (or Democrats) don’t expend resources in races that they don’t think they can win.

None of this should come as a surprise to anyone not sipping the MAGA Kool-Aid. Aadland is a completely-unknown candidate who has been running a middling campaign against a well-known and well-prepared Democratic opponent. He kept hope of national help alive for as long as he reasonably could, but you can’t rely on big lies about your own lack of movement forever.

For Aadland, the end is near here.

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.



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.

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Wait, What? (Erik Aadland Edition)

Yeah, not so much

We were taking our time, catching up on our political news today, when a sentence just reached out and socked us in the face like one of Hiedi Heidi Ganahl’s out-of-left-field batshit insane theories on education reform.

Sandra Fish did a comparison of the candidates in CO-07 for The Colorado Sun that was mostly a “she says this, he says that” kind of piece. Democrat Brittany Pettersen and Republican Erik Aadland explained their positions on a number of issues (admittedly, “explained” is a very generous term when it comes to Aadland’s policy proposals). Aadland also generally took the opportunity to flat-out lie on multiple occasions.

This isn’t the thing that smacked us in the face, but for example:

The Sun asked Pettersen and Aadland, who have each talked about their mothers’ battles with opioid addiction, how Congress could address drug addiction and recovery.

Aadland falsely claimed that Pettersen “started a clean injection site.”…

…Aadland didn’t offer a federal solution to the issue.

Kudos to Fish for pointing out here that Aadland’s words were not at all true. Unfortunately, Fish didn’t always take the time to, um, “correct” Aadland’s misperceptions.

The big smackaroo came at the end of the Sun article, in response to the following question: “Did Joe Biden legitimately win the 2020 presidential election?”

Because she is not a lunatic, Pettersen answered that yes, she believes Biden legitimately won the 2020 election. And then it was Double-A’s turn to respond:

Aadland acknowledged that Biden “is the legitimate president. I have said that many times.”

The Sun asked about reports that he said the election was illegitimate. In June, he told a Republican group the election was “undermined by fraud, how they were corrupted, and now how we have an illegitimate government in power.” The Washington Post included him on a list of election deniers.

“I said it was rigged,” he told The Sun. “That’s different.”

First of all, this is complete horseshit from Aadland. Dating back to June 2021, when the political world was first learning of his existence, Aadland has publicly questioned the integrity of the 2020 Presidential election at least seven different times. As recently as June 21, 2022, Aadland told members of the Mountain Republicans Club that he was concerned by how the 2020 elections were “undermined by fraud, how they were corrupted, and how we have an illegitimate government in power.”

The Sun made the following correction later in the day:

Via The Colorado Sun

Okay, now that we have that first part out of the way, let’s examine the rhetorical punch to the face we mentioned at the top:


“I said it was rigged. That’s different.”



If you believe that the 2020 Presidential election was rigged…but you ALSO claim that President Biden is “the legitimate president,” then there may be several words at play here that have simply eluded your comprehension.

If you are sure that you understand the meaning of all the words and you STILL think the election was rigged AND you think the winner of that election is “the legitimate president”…then we are sad to inform you that you are most likely an absolute fucking moron.

Seriously. We have had it with these election denier candidates who make it to the General Election and try pretending that they didn’t really question the integrity of the Presidential election. If you truly believe that the 2020 Presidential election was rigged, then own it. If nothing else, owning it is a gazillion times better than making it appear as though you are too stupid to understand simple questions that require basic logical reasoning.


“I said it was rigged. That’s different.”


Aadland knows that it is bad for his election hopes if people know he is a full-on “Big Lie” believer. Why do we know he knows this? BECAUSE HE SAID IT HIMSELF. Out loud. In public. In front of a camera.

So what does Aadland do when confronted with this question by the Sun? He reaffirms, for all intents and purposes, that he is both an election denier AND a complete goddamned idiot. Frankly, the two are probably one in the same anyway, but you get what we’re throwing down here.

In an election cycle that has been unusually dumb, Erik Aadland persevered and somehow found a way to make #copolitics even dumber.

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. 

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Erik Aadland’s No Good, Very Weird Super PAC Problem


Republican Erik Aadland is a strange dude with strange friends and awful policy positions who is running for Congress in CO-07 behind a vague narrative centered around a picture of a lion and his belief that Erik Aadland should be in Congress (Aadland has said that he “doesn’t have time” to start out running for a smaller office, because “freedom” or something).

Aadland began the 2022 election cycle as a candidate for the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate, kicking off that campaign on 9/11 alongside Tom FREAKING Tancredo, before switching to run in CO-07 following the announcement that longtime Congressman Ed Perlmutter had decided to retire. Aadland has only been a registered voter in Colorado since March 2021, but he was trained in the ways of Colorado politics by Casper Stockham, who himself has failed as a candidate in more election cycles than we can even remember.

The Washington Post recently included Aadland as one of five notable Republican candidates in Colorado who are full-on election deniers, which is the closest he is going to come to being endorsed by a reputable media outlet. In fact, the only positive thing anyone seems to be able to say about Aadland is that at least he’s not as creepy as Tim Reichert.

Aadland’s campaign isn’t getting much help from the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) because he is a MAGA Republican weirdo who came out of nowhere and is likely going to be directed back toward irrelevance by Democrat Brittany Pettersen in November. But Aadland is getting some assistance from an unusual political action committee (PAC) that is almost certainly breaking several laws.

Erik Aadland probably thinks this is going to be a problem for him.

As Andrew Kenney explains for Colorado Public Radio:

For Colorado’s Future, an independent spending committee supporting Colorado congressional candidate Erik Aadland, may have received an illegal donation from a company doing business with the federal government. It has also spent hundreds of thousands of dollars more than it has collected, leaving significant sums of money unaccounted for, according to campaign finance records…

A Colorado company, Pericle Communications, gave about $25,000 to For Colorado’s Future. Public records show Pericle works on projects for the federal government, and federal contractors are banned from spending money on federal elections. [Pols emphasis]

“This is a prohibition that has been around for decades. The basic idea is that if you’re a federal contractor and you are benefiting from taxpayer-funded contracts, then … it’s either actually corruption or creates the appearance of corruption for you to be able to make political contributions,” said Saurav Ghosh, director for federal reform at Campaign Legal Center, a nonprofit government watchdog.

Stay with us here, because this story gets into some territory that we have honestly never encountered before.

Pericle is a Colorado Springs-based engineering firm that specializes in wireless communications and has received several contracts with the Department of Defense and the Commerce Department dating back to 2007. It’s not clear how or why Aadland is connected with Pericle, but here’s where this story veers into unusual territory:

As of June 30, the last day for which complete data is available, the super PAC has taken in a total of $80,000 in donations, but it had spent $338,000 in support of Aadland in the primary election. The organization had not reported taking out any loans, so it’s unclear where the extra $250,000-plus came from. The committee has spent tens of thousands more since then, according to its interim financial reports. [Pols emphasis]

“The receipts just don’t explain how they’re paying for the independent expenditures that they’ve made … It just doesn’t really add up,” Ghosh said. “Voters have a right to know who is spending on elections, and when a committee fails to provide complete and accurate transparency of what they’re receiving and what they’re spending on, they’re denying voters their right, and essentially pulling the wool over their eyes.”…

For Colorado’s Future PAC has spent all $393,000 of its reported expenditures with Telephone Town Hall Meeting, based in Golden. The Aadland campaign also had spent about $37,000 with the company as of June 30, or about 8 percent of its total spending, which raised other questions for Ghosh.

Sharing a vendor would be illegal if the company is helping the campaign and the super PAC to coordinate their advertising. Campaigns and independent groups are not allowed to work together. [Pols emphasis]

Let’s recap:

♦ The Super PAC “For Colorado’s Future” is carrying at least $250,000 in debt for Aadland. What would compel the people behind this PAC to take on such a hefty burden for an unknown candidate running in a Democratic-leaning district that he almost certainly cannot win?


♦ “For Colorado’s Future” PAC has spent nearly $400,000 with a company called Telephone Town Hall Meeting (TTHM). Aadland’s campaign has paid this same company $37,000. Setting aside the issue of illegal coordination, why is TTHM the SOLE VENDOR for this Super PAC?


Curt Cerveny

It’s also interesting to note that TTHM was founded in part by Curt Cerveny, a longtime Republican consultant with a history of shady political maneuverings. Cerveny was once a co-owner of a company called “Politically Direct” — in which he worked alongside disgraced former Republican State Rep. Rob Fairbankwhich was accused in 2008 of receiving taxpayer money funneled through the offices of a then-freshman Congressman named Doug Lamborn. That same year, Cerveny came under fire from Republicans for producing mailers that attacked Mike Coffman, who was then one of several candidates running for an open congressional seat [these are older stories that can still be read in the Colorado Pols archives by clicking HERE].

Colorado Public Radio reached out to Pericle, the Super PAC “For Colorado’s Future,” and TTHM but did not get a response.

Perhaps it will turn out that all of this maneuvering is perfectly legal and aboveboard, but it sure looks shady as hell.

There was never much upside to assisting Aadland’s silly campaign, and this mess doesn’t help his cause. We wouldn’t want anything to do with whatever is going on here, either.

Who Will Win the Race for CO-07? (10/7)

Here’s what you thought the last time we asked this question.

Now, it’s time to vote again. Colorado’s new eighth congressional district is the most competitive federal race in the state. Will Democratic State Sen. Brittany Pettersen succeed retiring Rep. Ed Perlmutter, or will Republican guy Erik Aadland be the winner?


*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 CO-07? (10/7)

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Who Will Win the Race in CO-07? (9/30)

More polls!

Who will be elected in the new version of CO-07 to succeed the retiring Rep. Ed Perlmutter? Will it be Democratic State Sen. Brittany Pettersen, or Republican guy Erik Aadland?


*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 in CO-07 (9/30)

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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…