Surreal Senate GOP: Democrats “Limiting Women’s Choices?”

You know it’s BS and I know it’s BS and here it comes anyway.

Today, the Colorado Senate Democratic majority passed three important pro-choice bills over the fervent objections of the shrunken GOP minority. These three bills, to protect abortion rights in Colorado from out-of-state legal pursuits, limit “surprise billing” for abortion care, and regulate so-called “crisis pregnancy centers” set up to steer patients away from abortion for religious reasons, build on the landmark Reproductive Health Equity Act passed last year to formally protect abortion rights in the state following the repeal of Roe v. Wade.

But if all you knew about these three bills consisted of the press release sent out by Colorado Senate Republicans this afternoon, you would have no idea what these bills actually do:

Senate Bill 188 identifies a problem that it doesn’t solve and instead unnecessarily reiterates that gender-affirming health care and reproductive health care services are legal in Colorado.

“Unnecessarily reiterates?” If these same Republicans had their way, abortion would be illegal in Colorado. And the “problem” identified by the bill is other states taking legal action against Colorado abortion providers. Any comment on that?

Senate Bill 189 prioritizes abortions over other medical issues by requiring individual and small group health insurance plans to cover the complete cost of an abortion. Democrats rejected proposed amendments from Senator Jim Smallwood that would have included cost coverage for treatment of other life threatening diseases such as cancer.

Again, there’s nothing in this legislation that “limits women’s choices,” in fact it requires insurance companies to cover abortions without surprise bills for out-of-network providers. If Republicans want similar protections for other health conditions, propose a bill to do that (we’re not holding our breath).

That’s two out of three bills, and we still haven’t seen any evidence of Democrats “limiting women’s choices.” Apparently the justification for this mind scramble script-flipping comes in Senate Bill 23-190, which cracks down on so-called “crisis pregnancy centers.”

Senate Bill 190 suppresses abortion alternatives and marginalizes pregnancy resource centers by declaring the advertising and administration of abortion reversal medication a “deceptive trade practice.”

There is absolutely nothing in Senate Bill 190 that “suppresses abortion alternatives.” Everyone knows that if you don’t want to have an abortion you most certainly don’t have to, and as the fervently anti-abortion Sen. Barb Kirkmeyer herself pointed out yesterday, Planned Parenthood offers detailed educational resources on healthy childbearing in addition to abortion care. But when a patient arrives at a crisis pregnancy center instead of Planned Parenthood, their choices are inherently limited by not offering the option of an abortion.

This is such a plainly self-owning argument that we were momentarily taken aback, trying to figure out what we missed. After careful review, we’re forced to conclude it really is as outrageously dishonest as it looks.

Republicans are the only ones “limiting women’s choices” on abortion. To claim otherwise is not just false but madness.

Barbara Kirkmeyer: Finding New Ways to Look Stupid

That key around Kirkmeyer’s neck does not open a box of logical arguments.

Republican lawmakers in Colorado have spent the majority of their minority’s time in 2023 objecting to pretty much any legislation proposed by Democrats. It matters not whether the legislation is significantly objectionable or only moderately disagreeable — the response is the same on every issue of consequence.

In the State Senate on Tuesday, Republican Barbara Kirkmeyer of Weld County took her remonstrations to another level. Kirkmeyer was speaking on the Senate Floor in opposition to SB23-190 (“Deceptive Trade Practice Pregnancy-Related Service”), a bill that seeks to crack down on so-called “crisis pregnancy centers” — which are often funded by religious organizations — that advertise an array of services but actually only exist to sermonize against abortion and/or offer quack science alternatives such as non-existent drugs that claim to “reverse” abortions. 

Over the course of about 25 minutes, Kirkmeyer barfed out a mouthful of completely ridiculous false-equivalency arguments that were a) Completely nonsensical; b) Either plainly false or an embarrassing example of Internet illiteracy; and c) Laughably hypocritical.

Let’s get right to the meat of her argument, in which Kirkmeyer narrates her attempted navigation of the Planned Parenthood website:


KIRKMEYER: It took me…three clicks. Three clicks on Planned Parenthood before I even got to the word ‘abortion.’ And when you go on to Planned Parenthood, what it says on their opening page is, ‘Maybe you want the facts on how pregnancy happens, or you’re pregnant, and want to know about your options, or want to know how to have a healthy pregnancy.’ This is Planned Parenthood…

…Yet when you go on their page, you have to go to three clicks. You go to a page that says, ‘Explore related topics.’ There’s this list. That list doesn’t say abortion. Number 11 on that list says ‘pregnancy options.’ And when you tap on ‘pregnancy options,’ then you finally for the first time read the word ‘abortion’ on the Planned Parenthood website. But again, nowhere on that list, when it says, ‘explore related topics,’ after it says it is about how to have a healthy pregnancy, does it say ‘abortion.’ It doesn’t show up. 

So if we’re talking about deceptive practices, this is a [sic] agency, Planned Parenthood, who in their 2020-21 report provided evidence that it continues to prioritize abortion.

In fact…so…again, this bill wants to imply that crisis pregnancy centers are deceptive. And what I’m saying is, Planned Parenthood is deceptive. [Pols emphasis]

Kirkmeyer’s argument hits a problem right from the start. Kirkmeyer points out that Planned Parenthood encourages healthy pregnancies and tells patients the whole truth about different reproductive health options. That’s horrible! Er, wait…

Then Kirkmeyer claims that the Planned Parenthood website is deceptive because it takes her “three clicks” to find a mention of the word ‘abortion.’ We conducted that same experiment ourselves; it took us precisely NO CLICKS to discover the word ‘abortion’ right there on the home page of


The home page of, which doesn’t mention the word ‘abortion’ at all (except for the four different times that it does).


It should serve as no surprise that Kirkmeyer is providing false information about Planned Parenthood. After all, she was perhaps the most egregious liar of all the 2022 Colorado candidates during her campaign for Congress in CO-08 (where she eventually lost to Democrat Yadira Caraveo).

But here’s the kicker…

As multiple news outlets reported in August 2022, the hardline anti-abortion rights Kirkmeyer scrubbed all mention of the word ‘abortion’ from her campaign website after winning the Republican nomination for Congress in CO-08 (where being a hardliner against abortion rights was a political necessity).

Literally two weeks after Kirkmeyer told Jesse Paul of The Colorado Sun that she had been “very transparent” about her positions on the issue of abortion rights, her campaign website in CO-08 had become noticeably opaque on the subject. As Axios Denver reported in August 2022:

In a newly created Colorado battleground district, Republican Barb Kirkmeyer listed defending “the Sanctity of Life” on an issue page of her website, according to a July 5 archived version of the page. An old version also included a video of her speech at the 2022 March for Life event. Both references now appear to be gone.

To use Kirkmeyer’s own words from Tuesday’s Senate debate: “So if we’re talking about deceptive practices…”

If Republicans are ever going to crawl back into the good graces of Colorado voters, the first step might be to stop being so cravenly untrustworthy and patently ridiculous. For example, don’t say stupid crap that people can fact check for themselves with a quick Google search.

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.


Sabato’s Crystal Ball Pegs Colorado’s Top 2024 Races

Lauren Boebert sweating potential defeat on Election Night 2022.

In the battle for the U.S. House majority in 2024, political prognosticator of record Larry Sabato says the initial landscape is a tossup–an easy call to make in a chamber where a tiny majority flipping between the sides is the general rule. Major unknown variables in the presidential race make hard predictions more than a year and a half out from the election speculative at best. But in Colorado, Sabato has the two most competitive congressional races “leaning” toward the incumbents:

Rep. Lauren Boebert (R, CO-3), an in-your-face conservative who only barely won in a clearly GOP-leaning district in western Colorado, has not moderated her behavior at all in the aftermath of her near-loss. [Pols emphasis] But observers on both sides of the aisle think she should be favored anyway because a more engaged and larger 2024 presidential electorate could help her stabilize her vote. This is something we sometimes hear from operatives: Near-miss upsets can occur precisely because a race isn’t heavily engaged with national money, perhaps lulling an incumbent (and maybe even voters themselves) into a false sense of security…

In the respective Leans columns, we gave the benefit of the doubt to a handful of incumbents, including Reps. Don Bacon (R, NE-2) and Tom Kean Jr. (R, NJ-7) on the GOP side and Reps. Yadira Caraveo (D, CO-8) and Gabe Vasquez (D, NM-2) on the Democratic. The former pair will likely have to create some distance between themselves and the GOP presidential nominee in their blue-trending districts, but Bacon has shown the ability to do that and Kean may be able to after knocking off Tom Malinowski (D) last cycle. Caraveo and Vasquez overcame a tricky political environment to each snatch surprising albeit narrow victories. With Democrats likely to carry their districts for president again, we give them an edge to start. [Pols emphasis]

Rep. Yadira Caraveo (D).

Although both Democratic CD-8 Rep. Yadira Caraveo and CD-3 Rep. Lauren Boebert are in districts Sabato considers leaning toward their respective parties, there’s a very big difference between Caraveo’s strength in her closely divided district versus Boebert’s struggles in an ostensibly R+9 partisan leaning CD-3. Boebert has underperformed relative to the district’s partisan breakdown in two consecutive general elections, effectively negating the district’s built-in GOP advantage in the 2022 election decided by only 546 votes. When Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene says Boebert doesn’t have the support in her own district to engage in shenanigans like the scrambling of Kevin McCarthy’s confirmation, this is what she’s talking about.

As for the effect the presidential race in 2024 will have on these down-ballot contests, we’re inclined to agree that Caraveo will be helped by the Democratic presidential leanings in her district. The much greater potential for divisive chaos in the Republican presidential primary–assuming the resurgent Joe “Dark Brandon” Biden runs again as expected–makes predicting the impact of that race on Boebert’s future much more difficult. What we can say is that Boebert’s continuing vulnerability requires a bigger investment than Republicans should have to make to hold this seat. It’s up to not just Boebert’s constituents but also Republican donors to decide whether what they get back from Boebert is worth the investment.

Two races with similar ratings, but under the hood very different dynamics at work.

Republicans, Thiry Want Inmates to Return Asylum Keys

UPDATE: As expected, Senate Bill 101 failed to make it out of the Senate State, Military and Veterans Committee on Thursday and is now officially dead. Republican State Sen. Larry Liston was the only ‘YES’ vote.


Former DaVita CEO Kent Thiry is making it rain for GOP consultants once again

There is an effort underway by the likes of “Unaffiliated” voter enthusiast Kent Thiry and Republican State Sen. Barbara Kirkmeyer to scrap the party caucus system that has played a significant role in turning the Colorado Republican Party into a barn full of drooling nitwits.

As The Colorado Sun reports in its “Unaffiliated” (no relation) newsletter:

The former DaVita CEO’s next political act, which may be his most transformative yet, comes on the heels of his acquittal in April on federal criminal charges alleging that he worked with business competitors to prevent the hiring of each other’s employees.

“I’m passionate about democracy,” Thiry told The Colorado Sun in a recent interview. “And it takes work to keep a democracy working.”

Thiry, who is registered as an unaffiliated voter, is pushing the legislature to make changes to Colorado’s primary processes, but he indicated he’s willing to pursue ballot measures if the General Assembly doesn’t act…

…Thiry supports Senate Bill 101, which would end Colorado’ caucus and assembly process of selecting primary candidates and make signature gathering the only way to make the ballot. It would also let unaffiliated voters sign partisan candidate petitions. [Pols emphasis]

Senate Bill 101 is sponsored by Kirkmeyer and Republican State Rep. Mary Bradfield of Colorado Springs. Kirkmeyer was the Republican nominee in CO-08 last November, eventually losing a close race to Democrat Yadira Caraveo. But in order to even make it to the General Election, Kirkmeyer had to first win a Republican Primary Election that turned into an all-out brawl over which candidate was the most MAGA of them all. To be clear, Kirkmeyer holds plenty of extremist views, but she had to let her right-wing freak flag fly more than she probably would have preferred in order to become the official Republican nominee.

Kirkmeyer understands that Colorado voters largely reject right-wing views; outside of a few bright red districts here and there, a Republican path to victory in a General Election is now closer to “none” than “slim.” But Republican candidates who try to soften their right-wing viewpoints have a hard time even making it onto the ballot, let alone winning a Primary Election. Last weekend we learned another lesson on the extent of the problem for the GOP when El Paso County Republican Party Chair Vickie Tonkins was re-elected to a third term despite significant effort from the establishment to kick her out.

The MAGA Republicans are firmly in control of the Colorado Republican Party, and they aren’t going to let anyone just take their keys away. Take a look at this email dated Feb. 4, 2023, from former Republican State Sen. Kevin Lundberg:


Email from former GOP State Sen. Kevin Lundberg to Republican supporters


Thiry and Kirkmeyer can talk all they want about fairness and equality and protecting democracy, but right-wingers such as Lundberg know what is really happening here: Establishment Republicans are looking for a way to bypass the base in future elections so that they can still sound like reasonable candidates in a General Election.

Senate Bill 101 isn’t something that most people are clamoring for; it is opposed by grassroots Republicans, the Colorado Democratic Party, and the Colorado Libertarian Party, among others. This is a bill, and potentially a future ballot measure, that was created in order to fix a problem that Colorado Republicans created for themselves.

It’s not a mystery as to how the Colorado GOP lost control to the right-wingers. The roots of the problem date back to at least the Tea Party movement that preceded the 2010 election, but it wasn’t until the 2020 election that the GOP establishment in Colorado decided to hand everything over to the most MAGA members of the Republican Party. Nationally, the GOP largely stood with President Donald Trump after he blamed his re-election loss on claims of election fraud, and they mostly refused to budge even after the insurrection on January 6, 2021. Here in Colorado, Republicans such as Kristi Burton Brown and Scott Gessler ran for the role of State Republican Party Chairperson by explicitly campaigning on their support for Trump’s unfounded claims of election fraud.

Kristi Burton Brown (KBB) won the 2021 election for GOP Chair by effectively capturing a larger percentage of crazy people than Gessler. The downside to recruiting all of these nuts to take part in the race for GOP Chair was that it put many of them in local party leadership positions. The completely bananas 2022 State Republican Party Assembly demonstrated what happens when a major political party caters almost exclusively to its right-wing base.

Establishment Republicans need Kent Thiry and Senate Bill 101 to solve a problem they can’t fix on their own. Unfortunately for them, this legislation is destined to be killed in committee as soon as this week.

The GMS Podcast: Have Republicans Reached the End of the End?

Christy Powell and Alan Franklin (he’s older now)

This week on the Get More Smarter Podcast, Ian Silverii is on vacation, so Jason Bane sits down with returning guests Christy Powell and Alan Franklin to take a closer look at the 2022 election in Colorado and what it portends for the future of this state.

We talk about how Republicans completely hosed themselves in 2022; whether or not the Colorado GOP is even salvageable; and what Democrats need to be careful about with their new super-duper majorities in Colorado. We also touch on some news about exporting QAnon and whether failed Georgia Republican Senate candidate Herschel Walker was tanking all along.

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Barb “Kirkliar” To Help Write Colorado’s Budget

Coming soon to the Joint Budget Committee.

As Colorado Newsline’s Sara Wilson reports, the Colorado Senate GOP minority caucus has selected Sen. Barb Kirkmeyer of Weld County to replace retiring Sen. Bob Rankin on the General Assembly’s powerful Joint Budget Committee:

Senate Republicans elected Kirkmeyer to the position by acclamation on Friday. She was the only nominee for the position.

“I deeply appreciate your support and your vote of confidence that I can handle this job,” Kirkmeyer said Friday. “To all my colleagues … There are areas that I know you are all experts in and I would appreciate it if you would attend JBC meetings. Give me information and tell me what’s going on.”

…Kirkmeyer ran this year to represent Colorado’s 8th Congressional District but was defeated by Democrat Yadira Caraveo. Her current term in the state Senate ends in 2025.

Sen. Barb Kirkmeyer (R).

In the closing days of Kirkmeyer’s losing campaign against now Rep.-elect Yadira Caraveo, Kirkmeyer released a controversial and brazenly false campaign ad campaign accusing Democrats in the Colorado legislature of having voted to “legalize fentanyl.” When questioned about this outrageously false accusation, Kirkmeyer’s campaign manager Alan Philp responded that Kirkmeyer’s campaign was delighted to be “haggling” over whether fentanyl was illegal or not, despite the simple irrefutable fact that fentanyl is not now and has never been legalized without a prescription in Colorado.

Kirkmeyer’s brazenly false ad, which her campaign aggressively defended and fellow Republicans doubled down on in the final days before last month’s election, became the subject of a meta-debate in the Colorado press about how to deal with politicians who lie not just with impunity, but as part of a deliberate strategy to shock and corral swingable low-information voters. 9NEWS’ Kyle Clark used the moment to explain the difference between a merely false statement and a knowing, deliberate lie–the difference being that Kirkmeyer knew as a lawmaker who participated in the debate over the legislation in question that what she was saying was not true.

Well folks, as it turns out, a politician willing to lie like a rug until the bitter end is precisely what Republicans want on the Joint Budget Committee! We have to call that a change for the worse, unless you can show us video of Bob Rankin telling a lie of the same magnitude. Rankin wasn’t perfect, but he possessed a degree of integrity that would have made the strategy of lies Kirkmeyer employed against Caraveo unthinkable.

Yes, there is a lot of lying in politics. But politicians don’t all lie, and liars in politics are not always rewarded.

In this case, 2022’s biggest lying loser got one hell of a consolation prize.

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. 


Devastated Republicans Grope For Answers They Can’t Handle

Defeated GOP Rep. Colin Larson.

Going into last Tuesday’s elections, Colorado Republicans thought they had hit the bottom of their years-long slide into the political abyss–a process that began in 2004 when Democrats retook the state legislature after years of Republican dominance, and then continued with only a few exceptions for over a decade before accelerating in backlash against Donald Trump in 2018 to the greatest level of political dominance Democrats have enjoyed in this state since Franklin Delano Roosevelt was President.

As it turned out, they had much farther to fall. Before Tuesday, local Republicans honestly believed they had a chance at retaking the Colorado Senate and narrowing the House majority, in addition to winning the U.S. Senate race and the state’s newest highly competitive congressional district. Instead, Democrats expanded their legislative majorities, easily defeated every statewide Republican candidate, and claimed the new CD-8 for a 5-3 Democratic majority congressional delegation–a majority that may yet grow to 6-2, in the event Democratic CD-3 challenger Adam Frisch prevails as the final votes are counted in his race against freshman GOP compounding calamity Rep. Lauren Boebert.

Speaking to Colorado Public Radio’s Bente Birkeland, GOP Rep. Colin Larson, who was expected to lead the House Minority in 2023 but was instead defeated in his re-election bid, echoes the total dejection Colorado Republicans are feeling after last week’s historic wipeout:

“Honestly I think Colorado Republicans need to take this and learn the lesson that the party is dead. [Pols emphasis] This was an extinction-level event,” said Republican Rep. Colin Larson. “This was the asteroid that ended the reign of the dinosaur, and in this case, the dinosaur was the Republican party.”

Larson’s pessimism is understandable. He was poised to be the incoming House minority leader after the sudden death of Rep. Hugh McKean. Instead, Larson unexpectedly lost his own race in Jefferson County…

Dick Wadhams.

Former Republican Party chairman Dick Wadhams, who himself was ousted from that job years ago by the Colorado GOP’s then-incipient radical wing, is equally morose about the party’s long-term future in Colorado:

“Frankly, it couldn’t be much worse,” said Dick Wadhams, the former chair of the Colorado Republican Party. Wadhams largely blamed demographic shifts and the national Republican brand.

“And I think we put up very strong candidates who were worthy of consideration by all Colorado voters [Pols emphasis] and yet they were soundly rejected in favor of Democratic candidates,” Wadhams said. “So I don’t know what it’s gonna take for this to come back the other way.”

Here we come to the first major misconception Republicans are wrestling with in the wake of last week’s defeats, and there’s no moving on for them without recognizing this despite the hurt feelings it may cause. The 2022 Republican slate in Colorado was one of the worst ever fielded by the party in its history. Dick Wadhams himself enthusiastically supported Heidi Ganahl and Joe O’Dea, but in retrospect as Republican candidates for U.S. Senate and governor both were totally unqualified dreadful political mismatches for Colorado’s blue-trending electorate. Ganahl and O’Dea’s paths to double-digit defeat were a bit different, with Ganahl inexplicably lurching right immediately after winning the primary while O’Dea took a bit longer to show his true immoderate colors. But in the end, both of these terrible candidates at the top dragged the entire Republican ticket in Colorado down.

Once we’ve established that the top GOP candidates in Colorado failed to live up to the insistent hype from their campaigns and friendly talking heads, we come to the next logical question. Was it the issues too? The Denver Post’s political team caught up with GOP chairwoman Kristi Burton Brown, and to no one’s surprise, the former poster child of the Personhood abortion ban measures remains a true believer:

But others questioned whether the state’s electorate had shifted fundamentally, thanks to liberal-minded out-of-staters moving in. That was the assessment of Kristi Burton Brown, the chairwoman of the Colorado Republican Party, on Tuesday night. Her candidates had run on the correct issues, she said, and would focus on them going forward. [Pols emphasis]

“It’s just not what voters chose tonight,” she said.

There’s no way to sugar-coat this. No one should be more pleased to see the Colorado GOP chair conclude that Republicans “had run on the correct issues” than Colorado Democrats. Kristi Burton Brown’s unshakeable anti-abortion convictions make it impossible for her to recognize that the backlash to the overturning of Roe v. Wade was a major component of Republican failure in this year’s elections. Brown’s inability to recognize this political shift leaves the party unable to change course as long as she remains in charge.

As for the other issue that motivated voters to turn out for Democrats this year, the Republican Party’s ongoing threat to democracy under ex-President Donald Trump? Back to Colorado Public Radio’s story:

“January 6th, we just thought it had fallen from most people’s minds,” [Rep. Colin Larson] said. [Pols emphasis] “That just was not the case. They weren’t willing to look past the party.”

Smart Colorado Republicans knew that Trump was toxic going all the way back to 2016 when they revolted in favor of Ted Cruz. But instead of the Republican Party making a clean break from Trump in the aftermath of the violent January 6th insurrection and Trump’s plot to overturn the 2020 elections, Trump has remained the party’s de facto leader. Republicans like Joe O’Dea and Secretary of State candidate Pam Anderson who tried to triangulate off Trump this year either didn’t try hard enough (Anderson) or failed to persuade swing voters while bringing the wrath of the MAGA base down upon themselves (O’Dea).

As it turns out, Americans did not forget about January 6th. And as it turns out, overturning Roe v. Wade had dire political consequences for the party who sought that outcome for decades. There’s no “middle ground” for Republicans to stand on with these defining issues. There’s no “retooling” of the Republican Party’s message that can alter the fundamentals. This is not a question of packaging, it’s the product Republicans are offering that Colorado voters want no part of. Without the will to de-radicalize the MAGA base and truly moderate their wedge-issue-driven agenda, Colorado Republicans are glimpsing at long last what permanent minority status looks like.

The Get More Smarter Podcast Breaks Down the Bluenami

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

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

Listen to previous episodes of The Get More Smarter Podcast at

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These Election Questions Are Still Awaiting Answers

UPDATE 6:00PM: CD-8 GOP candidate Barb Kirkmeyer concedes secession defeat to Yadira Caraveo.


Several Colorado races are still waiting to be decided today, including the final margins for control of the State Senate and State House.

Here’s what we’re watching (results current as of 11:42 am):

A clearly nervous Lauren Boebert late Tuesday night.


Democrat Adam Frisch remains ahead of Republican incumbent Lauren “Q*Bert” Boebert in CO-03.

Democrat Yadira Caraveo is also still leading Republican Barb Kirkmeyer in CO-08.

Remarkably, these two seats could actually play a significant role in deciding whether or not Democrats retain majority control in Congress.

The race in CO-03 has narrowed, but Frisch is still leading Boebert by 2,449 votes (50.4% to 49.6%).

In CO-08, Caraveo is ahead of Kirkmeyer by 3,451 votes (49% to 47%).

We should know more after about 2:00 today, but from what we hear, Democrats crunching the numbers are feeling pretty confident that both Frisch and Caraveo will maintain their leads.



Democrats will maintain majority control of the Senate — a scenario that was certainly not a foregone conclusion entering Election Day. The question now is about how much Democrats might grow that advantage.

We’re keeping a close eye on SD-3 (Pueblo), SD-11 (Colorado Springs), SD-15 (Fort Collins), and SD-24 (Adams County).

In SD-3, Democrat Nick Hinrichsen has a 2,933-vote lead over Republican Stephen Varela (53% to 47%).

In SD-11, Democrat Tony Exum leads Republican Dennis Hisey by 1,978 votes (51% to 44%).

In SD-24, Democrat Kyle Mullica is ahead of Republican Courtney Potter by 5,043 votes (55% to 43%).

Also noteworthy — and a bit unexpected — is the race in SD-15, where Democrat Janice Marchman is ahead of incumbent Republican Sen. Rob Woodward by 2,137 votes (52% to 48%).

If Democrats hold on to leads in these four seats, they will expand their Senate majority from a 21-14 margin to a 23-12 advantage.


State Rep. Colin Larson, the man who was to be House Minority Leader


There are several races in the State House that are still undecided. The most interesting to watch are in HD-16 (El Paso County), HD-19 (Northern Colorado), HD-25 (Jefferson County), HD-43 (Douglas County), and HD-50 (Greeley).

Of this group, HD-25 is of particular interest. Incumbent Republican Rep. Colin Larson is currently losing to Democrat Tammy Story by 1,596 votes (51% to 47%). Following the death of former House Minority Leader Hugh McKean, Larson was widely viewed as the person most likely end up as House Minority Leader. Now it looks like he won’t be in the House AT ALL.

HD-19 is another surprise, with Democrat Jennifer Lea Parenti leading incumbent Republican Rep. Dan Woog by 1,639 votes (51% to 46%).

In HD-16, Democrat Stephanie Vigil is leading Republican Dave Donelson by just 737 votes (50% to 47%).

In HD-43, Democrat Bob Marshall is ahead of Republican Kurt Huffman by 823 votes (51% to 49%).

In HD-50, incumbent Democratic Rep. Mary Young leads Republican Ryan Gonzalez by 426 votes (50% to 47%).

Democrats already held an unprecedented majority in the State House with a 41-24 margin. Should the above results hold, Democrats will control a beyond-unprecedented 46-19 super majority in the lower chamber. 

By the time the counting is complete, Democrats may well hold a total of 69 of the 100 legislative seats in both chambers combined.

Colorado Republicans Lie About Fentanyl To The Bitter End


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Elephant fight!

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

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

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

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

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

El Paso County Republican Chairwoman Vicki Tonkins.

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

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

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

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

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

Dave Williams

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

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

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

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


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

Absolute lunacy.

Master GOP strategist Colin Larson

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nobody In Colorado Has Lied In 2022 Like Barb Kirkmeyer

CD-8 GOP candidate Barb Kirkmeyer.

As the controversy continues to swirl over a blatantly false TV ad running from CD-8 GOP candidate Barb Kirkmeyer’s campaign, Denver7’s Meghan Lopez reports on how in the specific case of candidate ads running on federally regulated broadcast networks, normally expected standards like truth in advertising and even Colorado’s own statute against knowingly false statements in political ads doesn’t apply:

“The Supreme Court gives extra protection to “robust” political speech, which political ads clearly are. The court decided over 50 years ago in NY Times v Sullivan that false and misleading statements about public officials are perfectly legal, as long as they are not made with “malice” and “reckless disregard” of the truth,” said Don Mayer, a professor of business ethics and legal studies at the University of Denver…

Cable channels, on the other hand, like CNN, Fox and MSNBC have much more latitude to determine which ad they want to allow and not allow on their airwaves. In fact, in 2019, CNN rejected two ads from former President Donald Trump’s reelection campaign because of inaccuracies.

There is one important distinction: broadcast channels are allowed to reject or pull ads from non-candidate groups like political action committees or political parties (except when they coordinate with candidates). However, this can be tricky and will inevitably lead to long discussions about free speech.

And unfortunately for fans of the truth, once the lie is broadcast, the truth has very little hope of catching up–even if TV stations were inclined to help, and even the candidate chooses to fight back, which they may for strategic reasons choose not to do:

“If candidate Caraveo wished to run to court and get an injunction against the public airing of Kirkmeyers’s ad, she would have to show that the statement was made with “malice” and with “reckless disregard” of the truth. She might succeed in this case, [Pols emphasis] but once the ad airs, the damage is largely done,” Mayer said.

In the past week since the ad in question first aired, most of the Denver TV stations it aired on have responded with unequivocal stories informing their readers that the allegations in the ad are false. 9NEWS’ Kyle Clark used the opportunity to elaborate on what elevates a merely false statement into a full-blown lie, which boils down to the party’s knowledge of the facts. In this latest case, Barb Kirkmeyer knows that her allegation in this ad is false because she was present for legislative debates over the policy. The clear-cut nature of Kirkmeyer’s knowing falsehood, repeated twice for emphasis, makes it impossible to call it anything other than a lie.

In a statement Wednesday, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) tied this latest case of indefensible dishonesty from Kirkmeyer to an issue Kirkmeyer tried mightily to downplay and ultimately deny after winning the June 28th primary–her longstanding support for federal restrictions on abortion rights:

Barbara Kirkmeyer will lie about her platform and her opponent every chance that she gets. She has lied about supporting a federal abortion ban and now she is doubling down on her lies. With her dangerous and unpopular agenda, it’s no wonder Kirkmeyer feels the need to lie in order to distract from how out of touch she is with her own community.

The attempt by Kirkmeyer and her backers to claim that Kirkmeyer was never “an activist” on abortion is easily refuted by her record, and Kirkmeyer was damaged further by revelations she had scrubbed her website of previous anti-abortion positions. But the lies didn’t stop there: Kirkmeyer claimed during a debate that the 2013 measure she supported for rural counties to secede from Colorado was not a secession question, which it plainly was and once again Kirkmeyer cannot be excused for not knowing.

Looking back on Kirkmeyer’s statements since launching her 2022 bid for Congress, and especially since the primary, the wholesale extent to which Kirkmeyer has lied in order to better appeal to swing voters has been objectively much worse than average. Joe O’Dea’s dishonesty and semantic games on abortion rights come close, but Kirkmeyer’s far longer and more strident record on the issue made her about-face much more jarring.

But it wasn’t until Kirkmeyer lied knowingly and audaciously in this latest campaign ad, falsely claiming that her opponent “legalized fentanyl” when everyone even casually following Colorado politics for the last two years knows better, that it became clear how dependent Kirkmeyer’s campaign is on audacious dishonesty. That’s not something that happens by accident. Kirkmeyer’s campaign made a deliberate choice early on to simply lie about Kirkmeyer’s record instead of attempting to defend or explain it.

It’s behavior that should not be rewarded, but too often is. And that’s why liars do it.

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

Listen to previous episodes of The Get More Smarter Podcast at

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TAKE ACTION NOW: Stop Barb Kirkmeyer’s Outright Lies

On Monday, ProgressNow Colorado called for a new ad released by Republican congressional candidate Barb Kirkmeyer to be removed from circulation for falsely claiming that her opponent and the Democratic majority in the Colorado legislature “legalized fentanyl.” [1]

There is absolutely no justification for Kirkmeyer’s claim that “Democrats legalized fentanyl.”

That simply never happened.

It’s not just misleading, or a difference of opinion, it’s a knowing and deliberate flat-out lie.

In a devastating Truth Test last night, 9NEWS’ Kyle Clark explained exactly how this ad is false, and how Kirkmeyer’s knowledge of the truth as a Colorado lawmaker elevates this incident from a merely false statement to a flat-out lie.

Local news outlets Colorado Newsline and the Colorado Times-Recorder have also picked up the story:

Next steps: With Kirkmeyer refusing to respond to press inquiries about this blatantly false ad even as it continues to run in heavy circulation, it’s up to us to take action. Take a moment right now to call all four of Denver’s major television stations and urge them to pull Kirkmeyer’s lies off the air immediately.

KDVR FOX 31/Channel 2: 303-595-3131
CBS4 Denver: 303-861-4444
9NEWS Denver: 303-871-9999
Denver7: 303-832-7777

When you call, remember to be respectful and as brief as possible with the employee you speak with. Responsible media outlets should immediately remove this ad from broadcast, and Barb Kirkmeyer owes the residents of the Eighth Congressional District an apology for brazenly lying about this gravely important subject. Kirkmeyer is the offender, not our local news stations, and this is a chance for these trusted media outlets to do the right thing and refuse to broadcast indefensibly false information.

We’d love to hear how your outreach goes! Please feel free to drop us a line and relay your experience–especially if you’re told the ad will stop running.

Thanks once again for defending the truth in these last few days before the crucial 2022 midterm elections. With your help, we can push back against the far right’s lies and misinformation successfully. Like Kirkmeyer herself, who supported Weld County seceding from the rest of Colorado in 2013, outrageously dishonest politics have no place in our state.


Sara Loflin, Executive Director

FACT CHECK: Kirkmeyer Falsely Claims Her Democratic Opponent Voted To Legalize Fentanyl

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

POLS UPDATE: 9NEWS’ Kyle Clark and Marshall Zelinger tore into Barb Kirkmeyer’s false ad with unusual gusto last night, taking a moment to discuss what elevates a merely false statement by a politician into a knowing and deliberate lie–which this ad is:


In a Sept. 27 interview on Colorado Public Radio, congressional candidate Barbara Kirkmeyer explained that a 2019 Colorado law reduced the penalty for possession of up to four grams of Fentanyl.

The state law, which has since been revised, mandated that fentanyl possession was “no longer a felony after four grams, and it became a misdemeanor,” said Kirkmeyer.

That’s, in fact, what happened in 2019. A bipartisan group of lawmakers, including Kirkmeyer’s Democratic opponent, Yadira Caraveo, voted to reduce the penalty of up to four grams of fentanyl from a felony to a misdemeanor, in an effort to help lesser offenders be near support systems and facilitate recovery. Felonies remained in place for higher amounts.

Colorado didn’t legalize Fentanyl. Kirkmeyer said so herself — last month.

But as this month’s election edged closer, and polls showed her race tightening, Kirkmeyer amped up her rhetoric and turned to a falsehood, claiming instead that Caraveo voted to legalize the drug — an allegation that’s widely known to be incorrect.

“Yadira Caraveo and liberal Democrats voted to legalize fentanyl possession,” stated Kirkmeyer in a political advertisement that’s currently airing. “You heard me. They legalized fentanyl. It’s time to get tough on criminals and save our kids.”

Last week, Denver Post reporter Seth Klaman flagged the ad as false, tweeting, “This is inaccurate. Kirkmeyer says Dems ‘voted to legalize fentanyl possession.’ In 2019, Dems – with some GOP support – voted to de-felonize possession of fentanyl up to 4g. It was still illegal to possess it in any amount; it was just a misdemeanor for smaller amounts.”

Colorado Politics reporter Ernest Luning came to the same conclusion. As did 9News’ Kyle Clark.

Numerous Republicans also voted for the 2019 bill. This year, Colorado lawmakers increased penalties for fentanyl possession.

Kirkmeyer’s campaign didn’t respond to an email asking why Kirkmeyer believes fentanyl is legal in Colorado.

Ganahl Just Makes Stuff Up About Fentanyl On FOX News

We took note late last Friday of a new ad running from Republican CD-8 congresssional candidate Barb Kirkmeyer that falsely and repeatedly claims Colorado Democrats “legalized fentanyl,” a claim that has absolutely no basis in reality after legislation passed this year in Colorado significantly tightening penalties for possession of the drug. Previous to this year, illicit possession of small amounts of fentanyl without intent to distribute was a misdemeanor, but at no point has the drug ever been “legalized.” Despite a call for Kirkmeyer to pull this brazenly false ad down, it reportedly remains in heavy circulation in the district as of today.

Not to be outdone, GOP candidate for governor Hiedi Heidi Ganahl appeared on FOX Business yesterday, proudly showing off her no-longer-offensive “Mad Mom” tagline and telling uncritical host Maria Bartiromo that, as you can see in the headline of the story, Gov. Jared Polis “decriminalized fentanyl.”

Colorado’s laws on the possession of fentanyl dominated a significant portion of this year’s session of the Colorado General Assembly. Sen. Kirkmeyer, who was present for the debate over this year’s bill cracking down on fentanyl possession, is fully aware that Colorado has not at any point “legalized fentanyl.” Although Ganahl wasn’t in the legislature this year, we don’t accept the idea that she simply misspoke on national television when she falsely claimed that Gov. Polis “decriminalized fentanyl.”

In both cases, these candidates must be judged to be willfully lying with full knowledge of the truth. Not all dishonesty is created equal, and politics is full of examples of spinning facts to fit an agenda. In the case of Republicans claiming Democrats “legalized” or “decriminalized” fentanyl in Colorado, if you understand enough about the issue to articulate these claims you cannot be excused by ignorance for lying.

In previous elections here in Colorado, brazenly false claims of this kind were met with a vigorous response from media fact-checkers, outside activist groups, not to mention the aggrieved campaigns all clamoring to ensure that the lie doesn’t take root to become persistent mythology. In 2022, for whatever reason, Republicans are getting a pass to tell indefensible lies about fentanyl policy that would not have been allowed to circulate unchallenged in previous elections.

We hope this lie doesn’t work–because if it does, as Donald Trump has taught us, lying is the new normal.

State Sen. Kevin Priola Gets More Smarter

State Sen. Kevin Priola (D-Henderson).

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

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

Listen to previous episodes of The Get More Smarter Podcast at

Questions? Comments? Complaints? Let us have it at Or send emails to or

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

“They Legalized Fentanyl”–2022’s Most Dishonest Campaign Ad?

CD-8 GOP candidate Barb Kirkmeyer.

Ever since winning the Republican primary for Colorado’s brand-new ultra-competitive CD-8 seat in Congress, state Sen. Barb Kirkmeyer has been forced to pivot much harder from her record as a far-right red meat spewing secession-backing anti-abortion activist in order to appeal to this swingiest of districts. Kirkmeyer has flat denied her previous self on abortion in particular, scrubbing her website of her former positions and  “evolving” from the proud no-exceptions abortion opponent of Kirkmeyer’s 2014 run for the deep red CD-4 to a kinder, gentler “I just want to save as many lives as I can” message–denying she would support a nationwide ban only weeks after committing to one.

On the issue of secession, Kirkmeyer lied in her most recent debate about what the measure was about, namely secession, but then claimed the failed effort she led in 2013 was a “success” imagining that it persuaded Denver Democrats to take rural folks seriously–which any of us who were there at the time can tell you it did not.

In short, Kirkmeyer’s campaign is engaging in a greater than average amount of wholesale deception in order to get her over the finish line in this extremely close race, not unlike Cory Gardner in 2014 whose shoes Kirkmeyer that year tried to fill. But yesterday, Kirkmeyer’s campaign released a new ad so outrageously false that it puts all these other reinventions to shame:

Democrats voted to legalize fentanyl possession. You heard me. They legalized fentanyl. [Pols emphasis]

As our readers know and Sen. Kirkmeyer cannot be excused for not knowing, fentanyl is not now and has never been “legalized” in the state of Colorado. There was a debate this year in the Colorado General Assembly over legislation that would have made possession of even the smallest quantity a felony crime instead of a misdemeanor, and that bill ultimately passed with the very smallest amounts remaining a misdemeanor.

A misdemeanor is still a crime, therefore fentanyl has not been by any correct definition “legalized,” and no Democrat voted this year on legislation that would legalize fentanyl. There is no interpretive excuse, it’s a flat-out lie that Kirkmeyer not only says herself but repeats twice, the second time saying for emphasis: “they legalized (past tense) fentanyl.”

Kirkmeyer’s shameless post-primary dishonesty to cover up the less palatable aspects of her far-right record was one thing. The lie in this ad is so indefensibly brazen that if there was ever a case that qualified on the merits for Colorado’s little-used laws against knowing and reckless false statements in election campaigns, this would have to be it. Commercial media outlets should refuse to run it.

How can Kirkmeyer look a reporter in the eye, not to mention her colleagues in the Colorado General Assembly who all know the truth, and justify her words in this ad? Is the plan to just run for the elevators Gardner style until Election Day? Eerily reminiscent of Gardner’s narrow triumph of aggressive mendacity in 2014, in the homestretch of this marquee congressional race, the efficacy of a campaign fundamentally built on lies is being tested once again.

In a just world, it would never work.

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

Andrew Baumann

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

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

Listen to previous episodes of The Get More Smarter Podcast at

Questions? Comments? Complaints? Let us have it at Or send emails to or

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“Secession Barb” Lies About, Then Owns Her Greatest Folly

Barb Kirkmeyer (R-North Colorado).

Last night, 9NEWS hosted the candidates running in Colorado’s hottest congressional race, the newly created Eighth Congressional District pitting Democratic state Rep. Yadira Caraveo against GOP state Sen. and former Weld County Commissioner Barbara Kirkmeyer. Kirkmeyer took the opportunity during this debate to shamelessly run away from her long-held “no exceptions” position on abortion rights, unconvincingly stating “at this point no” in response to a question about a nationwide abortion ban after ridiculously claiming that she never supportedone–but also conceding that her position on the issue has in some respects “evolved.”

Then the questions turned to Kirkmeyer’s involvement in the ill-fated 2013 campaign by several rural Colorado counties to secede and form the new state of “North Colorado.” And if you thought Kirkmeyer was bold in shamelessly reinventing herself on abortion, check out how she frames the ballot measure she supported for secession–which as a reminder failed even in Kirkmeyer’s own Weld County, envisioned as “North Colorado’s” future capital:

Kyle Clark: Ms. Kirkmeyer, you were one of the leaders of an effort in 2013 to have northeast Colorado secede, to break away and create a new state over political differences. Secession attempt did not pass, your own county Weld voted it down. Would you take that same problem-solving approach to Congress?

Barb Kirkmeyer: Where I would go out and actually listen to my constituents and follow what they wanted to…

Clark: Break away if you don’t get what you want?

Kirkmeyer: Well actually we didn’t put on the ballot to break away, [Pols emphasis] we put on the ballot at the request of our citizens, after we had several forums around our county to talk about it, after the issues that were occurring, where basically there was a war on rural Colorado…

Here is the verbatim text of the ballot measure voted on in Weld County in the 2013 elections:

Shall the Board of County Commissioners of Weld County, in concert with the county commissioners of other Colorado counties, pursue becoming the 51st state of the United States of America?

The secession ballot measure Kirkmeyer not just supported but was instrumental in getting on the ballot was to break away from the state of Colorado and form “the 51st state.” We have no doubt that Kirkmeyer’s defenders are prepared with some kind of contorted Herschel Walker-style explanation as to how Kirkmeyer didn’t just straight-up lie to Kyle Clark. But in this case, it couldn’t be more obvious that Kirkmeyer simply didn’t want to own the consequences of the flop initiative she supported nine years ago and chose to lie about it at the most fundamental level.

But then Kirkmeyer did something we didn’t expect. Rather than pausing to let Kyle Clark follow up, Kirkmeyer proceeded unbidden to list all the reasons why she supported the secession measure, in the process admitting that yes, it was indeed a secession measure:

Kirkmeyer: It felt like there was a war on Weld County. Where they weren’t doing snowplowing on state highways in rural Colorado, where they passed laws, uh, that were specific to rural Colorado with regard to increasing utility costs, and it wasn’t applied to the urban districts. When we asked then-Gov. Hickenlooper to declare a drought, and figure out how to help us with getting water to the number one agriculture county in the state and he said no.

There was a lot that was going on. People were very upset. When we asked them, you know, went out and had the discussion with them, they asked the county board of commissioners to put on the ballot a discussion about whether or not, should we go through the process. [Pols emphasis] That’s what was on there.

And then, again at no one’s urging, Kirkmeyer proudly announces she would do secession again:

Would I go through that process again? Yes, I would [Pols emphasis] because even Gov. Hickenlooper, who is now U.S. Senator Hickenlooper, said after this effort that it made the state stronger, that it made him listen more to rural Colorado, and that he would give us a better ear.

Now folks, we don’t want to make then-Gov. and now Sen. John Hickenlooper appear disingenuous in his olive branch to the secessionists after their ballot measure collapsed in a heap of late-night television joke fodder, but we’re going to go out on a limb and suggest that the secession effort accomplished absolutely nothing except to embarrass everyone who participated in it. Gov. Hickenlooper, who was not “waging war” on either rural Colorado in general or Weld County in particular either before or since, had no reason to treat this crackpot campaign as some kind of watershed moment.

Like any politician with discrediting follies on their record, Kirkmeyer had two options for dealing with the secession question: denial or full-throated embrace. And just like Danny Moore’s inexplicably making a case for election denial right after denying his previous position, Kirkmeyer lied about the secession measure she supported before proceeding to take full ownership of it–choosing a third option, denial and full-throated embrace.

All we can say is, it’s downright Trumpish. Even before Donald Trump, the secessionists always were.