Smaller Government Strategy is Drowning in its Own Bathtub

Americans don’t want their government in here.

New polling data from CNN/SSRS was released on Thursday that made headlines largely because it showed significant vulnerabilities for President Biden, including a topline finding that Biden and former President Donald Trump are running neck-and-neck in a hypothetical 2024 rematch. Analysis from ABC News, for example, exclaimed that CNN’s new polling was “nothing but bad news” for Biden.

Yet while Biden’s approval ratings aren’t very good and voters aren’t enthusiastic about the impact of White House policies on improving the economy, there was a significant and largely overlooked piece of data included in the CNN/SSRS polling results that should make Democrats feel a little better: For the first time in modern memory, a plurality of Americans believe that the government should do MORE to solve the country’s problems.

Via CNN/SSRS (Aug. 2023)


As you can see from the comparisons below, for decades Americans have tended to agree with the idea that the government is too big and too burdensome and that the free market fairy will always make things right. As conservative activist Grover Norquist infamously said in 2001:

“I’m not in favor of abolishing the government. I just want to shrink it down to the size where we can drown it in the bathtub.”

Via CNN/SSRS (Aug. 2023)

In 1985, Norquist founded “Americans for Tax Reform,” an organization that opposed all tax increases “as a matter of principle” and was a vocal advocate for Colorado’s “Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights” (TABOR) in 1992. As even Republicans will tell you today, TABOR has been awful for Colorado because it places artificial spending restrictions on a state that has been growing in population since it was first passed more than 30 years ago; it’s no accident that no other state in the country has ever wanted to replicate TABOR.

For decades, “Americans for Tax Reform” played an outside role in conservative politics by serving as a litmus test for any Republican candidate seeking elected office. Failure to sign the ATR “no taxes” pledge could be a campaign killer. But as Paul Krugman wrote for The New York Times in 2010, the “starve the beast” Republican strategy came with one YUGE problem: Nobody really wanted to cut programs that Americans had come to rely upon:

But there has always been a political problem with this agenda. Voters may say that they oppose big government, but the programs that actually dominate federal spending –— Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security — are very popular. So how can the public be persuaded to accept large spending cuts?

The conservative answer, which evolved in the late 1970s, would be dubbed “starving the beast” during the Reagan years. The idea — propounded by many members of the conservative intelligentsia, from Alan Greenspan to Irving Kristol — was basically that sympathetic politicians should engage in a game of bait and switch. Rather than proposing unpopular spending cuts, Republicans would push through popular tax cuts, with the deliberate intention of worsening the government’s fiscal position. Spending cuts could then be sold as a necessity rather than a choice, the only way to eliminate an unsustainable budget deficit…

Why are Republicans reluctant to sit down and talk? Because they would then be forced to put up or shut up. Since they’re adamantly opposed to reducing the deficit with tax increases, they would have to explain what spending they want to cut. And guess what? After three decades of preparing the ground for this moment, they’re still not willing to do that. [Pols emphasis]

Rep. Ken Buck recognizes the problem.

Not much has changed in the 13 years since Krugman wrote that opinion piece. Republicans still want to cut spending…but they don’t want to talk about how that might work. Colorado Republican Rep. Ken Buck said last month that a federal government shutdown — perhaps as soon as the end of this month — was all but inevitable. “We are going to shut down,” he told the crowd at a Colorado Chamber of Commerce luncheon, claiming that the federal government simply must cut spending in order to avoid some sort of nebulous debt/deficit problem that is often predicted but never realized.

The only serious way to reduce spending is to propose meaningful cuts to military spending, medicaid, medicare, or social security, but Republicans aren’t going to do that because voters would revolt and throw them out of office. Earlier this year, Buck suggested raising the retirement age to 72, which would require Americans to work longer than people in any other industrialized nation. Buck hasn’t really said much about that idea since floating it during a Fox 31 interview in May.

But it’s not just these long-running entitlement programs that voters seem to like. As The Washington Post reported this week, $24 billion in stimulus funding that helped make child care possible for millions of parents is about to run dry:

That record investment has helped keep the industry afloat by propping up workers’ salaries, boosting training programs and waiving family payment requirements.

Now, with the last of that money expiring this month, an estimated 70,000 child-care programs — or about 1 in 3 — could close as a result of lost funding, causing 3.2 million children to lose care, according to a study by the Century Foundation, a liberal think tank. That translates to $10.6 billion in lost U.S. economic activity, researchers found, adding new strain to a nation already struggling with a profound lack of child care.

“It isn’t just individual children or parents that will be impacted, it’s the economy as a whole,” said Julie Kashen, a senior fellow at the Century Foundation. “When more than 3 million children lose care, that means all of those parents are going to have to figure out something else or reduce their work hours or leave their jobs altogether.” [Pols emphasis]

It’s hard to understate the significance of the philosophical change that Republicans will need to confront if Americans continue to express the belief that we should have MORE government instead of less. Buck is a perfect example of that: He votes against just about every spending bill — sometimes one of just a handful of Republicans to oppose things like raising the debt ceiling — based solely on his robotic devotion to the old “starve the beast” ethos. This is his entire political identity.

A new generation of Americans sees what governments CAN do for people in other countries, and they’re no longer buying into the message long shouted from the mountaintops by rich white men. If support for a more active government continues to rise, Republicans are going to need to toss out the old “smaller government, lower taxes” routine or just cede the entire argument to Democrats.

Universal Preschool Program Takes First Steps

Governor Jared Polis visiting a Denver preschool earlier this month.

Colorado’s new universal preschool program is still being rolled out across the state, and despite a few hiccups for one of Gov. Jared Polis’s signature issues, tens of thousands of families are taking advantage of the opportunity.

As Ann Schimke reports for Chalkbeat Colorado, participants in the program are happy to get started:

The new $322 million program offers 10 to 30 hours a week of tuition-free preschool to 4-year-olds statewide and 10 hours to some 3-year-olds.

Up to 40,000 4-year-olds are expected to participate in the program this school year, double the enrollment of Colorado’s previous state-funded preschool program.

Many parents and early childhood advocates are excited about the state’s effort to help more families with preschool costs and prepare kids for kindergarten. [Pols emphasis] At the same time, some aspects of universal preschool rollout have been rushed, confusing, and punctuated by eleventh hour changes.

Thousands of families who had expected the state to cover full-day preschool based on meeting certain criteria found out in late July the program would only pay for half-day classes. Most recently, school district officials sued over the program, claiming the state is harming students with disabilities and breaking funding promises to families and schools. Religious preschools also have sued, alleging that anti-discrimination requirements violate their religious beliefs.

We wrote last week about one of those lawsuits, a ridiculous challenge from the Denver Catholic Archdiocese complaining that it should get state funding even though it openly discriminates against LGBTQ families. While there have been challenges in rolling out the new Universal Preschool program (also dubbed UPK, for “Universal Pre-Kindergarten), some of the complaints have been a tad overwrought considering that this is a BRAND NEW initiative that has room for 56,000 eligible children in Colorado:

For her part, Auraria Early Learning Center Director Emily Nelson said she’s pleased with how universal preschool is shaping up. There have been challenges, but that’s true with any new system, she said.

“I feel good with where we’re at,” she said. “I feel like parents have the information they need.” 

She’s heard some parents express relief that the state is helping defray tuition costs. [Pols emphasis] Under universal preschool, the state covers the cost of 15 hours a week at the center, dropping monthly full-day tuition from $1,531 to $921. Some parents get additional assistance through campus scholarships or a taxpayer-funded tuition credit program called the Denver Preschool Program.

Like many providers across Colorado, Nelson had empty universal preschool seats on the first day of school — eight between her two 4-year-old classrooms. Statewide, about 56,000 4-year-old seats are available, well above the number that will be needed even if more families sign up in the coming months.

“Statewide, about 56,000 4-year-old seats are available, well above the number that will be needed even if more families sign up in the coming months.”

— Chalkbeat Colorado (8/23/23)

In a recent Op-Ed published in The Denver Post, two of the leaders of the UPK initiative — Nicole Riehl and Sue Renner — explained that some program complaints are related to a “mixed delivery” implementation system that was very much intentional:

At issue is the ability of families to select programs that best meet their preschool and childcare needs. A mixed delivery system offers families such flexibility. Mixed delivery is a system that distributes funding across multiple providers of early childhood education, including licensed center-and family-based childcare programs, Head Start, Early Head Start, public schools, and community-based organizations to ensure access to high-quality, affordable care and learning options for children through age five and their families.

Requiring families to secure services exclusively from a school district, as a recent school district lawsuit would enable, does not allow families the flexibility to select a provider who can meet their children’s needs for year-round stability. [Pols emphasis]

Research has long shown that early childhood education has a significant impact on how children learn and grow in later years. While the Polis administration is working on ironing out the wrinkles with the new UPK program, that shouldn’t overshadow the significance of what is a massive statewide accomplishment.

Colorado closer to banning ‘abortion reversal’ treatment after medical board decision

(Republished under Creative Commons license by Colorado Pols)

by Sara Wilson, Colorado Newsline

The Colorado Medical Board decided Thursday that a so-called abortion reversal method is outside the “generally accepted standard of practice.”

The board did not go so far as to declare the method unprofessional conduct, as Democrats in the state Legislature hoped for. Still, the decision is a significant step in getting the practice banned in the state, which has become a destination for pregnant people seeking abortion care, as other states restrict access.

A new law signed by Gov. Jared Polis this year would classify providing medication abortion reversals as unprofessional misconduct, thus effectively banning it in the state — unless the state’s medical, nursing and pharmacy boards decide the procedure is a “generally accepted standard of practice.”

“Although the board will not treat medication abortion reversal as a per se act of unprofessional misconduct, the board does not consider administering, dispensing or delivering progesterone with the intent to interfere with, reverse, or halt a medication abortion undertaken through the use of mifepristone and/or misoprostol to meet generally accepted standards of medical practice,” the new rule reads. “Licensees are expected to practice evidence-based medicine, and any licensee who provides unscientific treatments that fall below the generally accepted standard of care may be subject to discipline.”

The Board of Nursing and the Board of Pharmacy are scheduled to decide on their proposed rules Sept. 20 and 21.

The rule states that the board would investigate reported instances that could meet the definition of a medication abortion reversal on a case-by-case basis.


Don’t Discriminate Against…Our Ability to Discriminate?

The “St. John Paul II Center for the New Evangelization” in Denver. If it were an amusement park, you’d call it “Discriminationland!”

The Denver Catholic Archdiocese is wading into the issue of Colorado’s new Universal Preschool program with a disgusting and ridiculous lawsuit, proving once again that for the Archdiocese, there is never a wrong time to do the wrong thing.

As Elizabeth Hernandez reports for The Denver Post:

The Denver Catholic Archdiocese along with two of its parishes is suing the state alleging their First Amendment rights are violated because their desire to exclude LGBTQ parents, staff and kids from Archdiocesan preschools keeps them from participating in Colorado’s new universal preschool program.

The program is intended to provide every child 15 hours per week of state-funded preschool in the year before they are eligible for kindergarten. To be eligible, though, schools must meet the state’s non-discrimination requirements.

There are other issues associated with the rollout of Gov. Jared Polis‘ signature proposal to provide free state-funded preschool for Colorado families, but those arguments are significantly more complicated (including a recently-filed lawsuit by a handful of school districts). This complaint from the Denver Archdiocese is much more straightforward: They want to be allowed to discriminate against certain Colorado families AND still be allowed to collect checks from the State of Colorado for providing preschool services. 

Let’s break out a few more sections of the Post story separately:

The Denver Archdiocese said in the suit they do not believe adhering to their religious beliefs against accepting LGBTQ people qualifies as discrimination. The Denver Post published written guidance last year issued by the Denver Archdiocese to its Catholic schools on the handling of LGBTQ issues, including telling administrators not to enroll or re-enroll transgender or gender non-conforming students and explaining that gay parents should be treated differently than heterosexual couples…

The Denver Archdiocese doesn’t think THEIR kind of discrimination is REALLY discrimination? They literally tell staff that gay parents should be treated differently than heterosexual couples.

What’s their real argument here? It’s only gay people!

Gov. Jared Polis is (rightfully) not on board with the Archdiocese complaints.

We’re not going to do the “dictionary definition of discrimination” thing, because that would insult the intelligence of anyone reading this. Suffice it to say that you are discriminating if you are intentionally excluding a particular group of people based on specific characteristics. If you’re trying to argue about the definition of the word “discrimination,” then you’ve already lost.

The lawsuit said enrolling children with gay parents into an Archdiocesan school “is likely to lead to intractable conflicts” because a “Catholic school cannot treat a same-sex couple as a family equivalent to the natural family without compromising its mission and Catholic identity.”

We can’t disagree here — nor do we understand why a same-sex couple would even want to enroll their children in a Catholic preschool — but that’s really not the point of the Archdiocese complaint.

The lawsuit is seeking a jury trial and for the state to reverse its decision and allow the Denver Archdiocese to participate in the universal preschool program while giving them the ability to exclude LGBTQ students, staff and parents from their schools.

“When you are publicly funded, you have to agree with the basic values: We don’t discriminate…When we publicly support preschool, that means preschool for everybody, every kid.”

— Governor Jared Polis (KDVR, 8/17/23)

There it is.

Again, the point here is that the Archdiocese wants to be treated financially like any other preschool program despite the fact that it is very different because of its transparent discrimination policies. Nobody is saying that the Archdiocese can’t discriminate against certain groups of people based on their religious views, although that’s pretty gross in and of itself. The State of Colorado is just saying, We’re not going to give you money for preschool if you’re going to discriminate about who gets to attend your school. 

For his part, Gov. Polis has a very simple response. From Fox 31 Denver:

“I think our focus has always been: the kids first, of course no discrimination, serve everybody if you want to take public funds, and it’s great to see so many preschoolers going back to school across the state,” Polis said Thursday…

…For Polis, the issue is simple: Do not discriminate, and you can have access to state dollars.

“I’m not commenting on specific lawsuits, but obviously, if you run a preschool that doesn’t receive state money, you can run it the way you want,” Polis said.

Pro-discrimination attorney Nick Reaves

Nick Reaves, an attorney representing the Archdiocese, has his own asinine logic:

“Families have to choose between receiving a Catholic education and sending their kids to a Catholic school or getting a free preschool education at a secular school. And for parents who have worked hard and sacrificed to send their kids to a Catholic school, it’s not fair that Colorado is saying, ‘If you pull your kids out and go to any secular, private preschool, we’ll give you this tuition for preschool.’”

This is completely absurd. Colorado’s Universal Preschool program was not created to convince parents to move their kids out of a Catholic preschool. The purpose of the program is to give all Colorado kids — even the ones with same-sex parents — access to preschool programs.

This argument is, of course, part of broader discussion about school voucher programs, whose proponents inevitably come across the same problem. Not only do they think it should be totally fair to discriminate against an entire class of people…they want taxpayer money to help them advance their biases. This doesn’t make much sense, as Polis said to KDVR:

“If folks want to remain private and omit certain parents, they can do that but they won’t be funded for universal preschool by the state.”

It’s really that simple. If you want to be a bigoted asshat, that’s your decision — but the rest of Colorado shouldn’t have to help you.

Trump Makes 2024 Another Lost Cause for Colorado GOP

Ex-President Donald Trump with Colorado GOP chairman Dave “Let’s Go Brandon” Williams.

Former President Donald Trump already held the record of being the first current or former U.S. President to be indicted for a crime. Trump has probably now put that record forever out of reach after Monday’s big indictment in Georgia marked his FOURTH in just the last four months.

Yet as Peter Baker explains for The New York Times, Trump’s unthinkably-long list of alleged crimes might have gotten…boring?

The novelty of a former leader of the United States being called a felon has somehow worn off. Not that the sweeping 98-page indictment handed up in Georgia accusing him of corruptly trying to reverse the state’s 2020 election results was any less momentous. But a country of short attention spans has now seen this three times before and grown oddly accustomed to the spectacle.

Multiple prosecutors have now cumulatively laid out an alleged presidential crime spree of epic proportions, complete with tangled intrigues, mysterious co-conspirators and intersecting subplots. The Georgia indictment went further than previous ones by charging 18 others with joining a criminal enterprise with the former president, including associates like Rudolph W. Giuliani, Mark Meadows, Sidney Powell, Jeffrey Clark and John Eastman.

Yet most Americans made up their minds about Mr. Trump long before prosecutors like Fani T. Willis or Jack Smith weighed in, polls have shown. He is, depending on the perspective, a serial lawbreaker finally being brought to justice or a victim of persecution by partisans intent on keeping him out of office. The Georgia indictment, powerful as it is in its language, has been priced into the market, as the Wall Street types would put it.


It is true that many diehard Republicans have shrugged off Trump’s indictments for the most part. Most of the other candidates seeking the Republican Presidential nomination in 2024 have played along as Trump and his MAGA base brush off his various alleged crimes as “witch hunts” or whatever nonsense is uttered by diehard supporters such as Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-ifle).

We also know that Trump (the candidate for President) gets a bump from his base every time he gets indicted, a strange phenomenon that moves him closer to the Republican nomination for President in 2024. But as we wrote last week, every Trump indictment also moves him further away from the rest of the American voting population who will cast ballots in the 2024 General Election.

Don’t get lulled to sleep by any of this news, because Trump’s indictments DO matter quite a bit — particularly in Colorado.

Before we dive into that, let’s consider what makes Trump’s latest legal troubles a little different than the rest. As Philip Elliott writes for TIME magazine:

…the Georgia case may be the most durable, most threatening, and most important headache facing Trump because he can’t pay a fine or pardon himself. Georgia’s alleged crimes are beyond the scope of federal pardons, and they may set up a collision course over whether state laws can compel a President to face the music, even if he’s busy prosecuting wars, negotiating trade deals, or just trying to keep Americans’ national security safe.

America has never faced a scenario of asking whether someone in the clink can also have the nuclear codes or have visiting hours limited by local wardens. This is no longer some academic exercise. Voters—especially GOP primary voters—would do well to just take a beat with that remote possibility. [Pols emphasis]

Or, as Baker writes for the Times:

Still, even if the surprise value has faded, the outrage surely has not for a sizable part of the country, which sees this as a much-deserved comeuppance. And while the indictments have bolstered rather than eroded Mr. Trump’s support among Republicans, no one can predict for sure what might happen if and when he goes on trial after trial after trial. [Pols emphasis]

Indeed, check out Trump’s potential trial schedule in 2024, via The New York Times:

Via The New York Times (8/14/23)


It’s one thing to talk about Trump’s indictments in the abstract; it’s a different story when the man himself is sitting in a courtroom for a good portion of 2024.


Colorado Doesn’t Want What the MAGA Base Wants

“We are the party that elected Donald J. Trump, and we are not going to apologize for that anymore.”

   — State Republican Party Chair Dave Williams (3/11/23)

Since this is a website about Colorado politics, let’s talk about the impact of Trump’s various indictments on…Colorado politics.

Trump remains very popular with the Republican base in Colorado. As Dave Williams proved again in March, you can’t get elected as the Chairperson of the Colorado Republican Party unless you support Trump without question. Trump repeated the favor in early August with a video message shown at the Republican Central Committee Meeting:


The majority of Colorado voters, however, do not share this sentiment. Democrat Hillary Clinton carried Colorado in 2016 by 5 points. Democrat Joe Biden upped that margin to more than 13 points in 2020. Should Trump win the GOP nomination in 2024, it’s a good bet that this margin will grow even wider by next November.

There’s plenty of recent evidence to support this claim. Trump isn’t the sole reason that GOP Senate candidate Joe O’Dea or GOP Gubernatorial candidate Heidi Ganahl were crushed by Democratic incumbents in 2022 (by 15 and 20 points, respectively), but the candidates’ inability or indifference about separating themselves from Trump were absolutely a significant problem. The graphic used by Ganahl’s campaign ahead of the June Primary Election might have helped her secure the GOP nomination for Governor, but it was an albatross around her neck from that point forward.

We also know that the main premise of Trump’s legal defense in his various charges related to attempting to overturn the 2020 election rest on a strategy that is death to Colorado Republicans; talking about the 2020 election in 2024 is the surest way for a Republican candidate to turn off a Colorado voter, just as it was in 2022.


So, How About 2026?

Dick Wadhams

It’s hard to overstate how problematic Trump and his MAGA base are to Republican hopes of winning elections in Colorado. Republicans can’t begin to crawl back into power in this state until they leave Trump’s burning orange corpse behind them, but that’s not going to happen until AT LEAST 2026.

Former State Republican Party Chairman Dick Wadhams has regularly spoken out about how Trump is at the root of the Colorado GOP’s historic lows. He did so again in a recent column for the Colorado Springs Gazette. The problem, of course, is that Wadhams has also long admitted that he voted for Trump in both 2016 and 2020, so he’s standing on a pedestal of moldy cheese. Nobody who voted for Trump TWICE has any business commenting on the inherent problems associated with supporting the felonious former President.

To be sure, Trump’s multiple indictments are an absolute disaster for Republicans in Colorado. The GOP’s only bit of luck in 2024 is that there are no major statewide races on the ballot for them to lose; things can’t really get THAT much worse for them next November. But in the meantime, every Republican leader in Colorado — from the State Party Chair to the loudest members of the state legislature (we’re looking at you, “DeBottoms”) and Congress (yes, you, Lauren Boebert) — are fully committed to whatever path Trump lights on fire in front of them.

Colorado Republicans SHOULD have dumped Trump after the Jan. 6 insurrection or after his second impeachment trial in 2021, but they didn’t. They SHOULD have supported anyone else for President in 2024, but they didn’t. Even if Trumpism eventually collapses under its own weight, the Colorado GOP will either need to figure out how to keep its MAGA overlords engaged and willing to play nice with other Republicans in the state…or find a way to move forward without them while also re-engaging with the non-MAGA group of Republicans who have been waiting for the fever to break.

The Trump indictments have almost guaranteed that 2024 is another wasted election cycle for Colorado Republicans. The real question now is whether the Colorado GOP can get its collective shit together by 2026.

Democrats’ GVP Measures Become Reality (Almost?)

UPDATE: Or, maybe not all of them. As The Denver Post reports:

A new law restricting gun purchases to people 21 and older is not in effect while a broader lawsuit challenging its constitutionality plays out, a district court judge ruled Monday afternoon.

In granting the preliminary injunction, District Court Judge Philip A. Brimmer said Gov. Jared Polis “failed to meet his burden to demonstrate that SB23-169 is consistent with the Nation’s historical tradition of firearms regulation.” The individual plaintiffs, he added, “have demonstrated a likelihood of success on the merits” of their case.

The lawsuit challenged the age limit law as well as another measure that would institute a waiting period for all firearm purchases in the state. The age limit law went into effect Monday. The judge did not rule on the waiting period law, which is slated to go into effect in October.


State Sen. Tom Sullivan (D-Centennial), one of Colorado’s most visible GVP advocates.

Elections have consequences.

This is a mantra we repeat often in this space, but it’s not always for bad reasons. For example, as Charles Ashby reports for the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel, Coloradans now have greater protections against gun violence thanks to the work of Democrats at the state legislature and Gov. Jared Polis:

Unless otherwise exempted, people age 21 or younger will no longer be allowed to purchase a firearm, under a new law that goes into effect on Monday.

That controversial new law, which all Republicans in the Colorado Legislature opposed, is designed to help protect children from harm.

“Gun deaths in Colorado have been climbing higher and higher every year, and a disproportionate number of them are committed by younger Coloradans,” said Sen. Kyle Mullica, D-Thornton, who introduced Senate Bill 169 with Sen. Jessie Danielson, D-Wheat Ridge, and Reps. Monica Duran, D-Wheat Ridge, and Eliza Hamrick, D-Centennial…

…Danielson said that people between the ages of 12 to 24 make up one-fifth of the state’s population, but account for half of all gun murders.

Democrats also cited research by the pro-gun law group Everytown for Gun Safety, which says that suicide by firearms among people 21 and younger has increased more than 60% over the past decade.

Exceptions to the new law include an active duty member of the U.S. armed forces while on duty, a peace officer serving with or employed by a law enforcement agency, but only while on duty, and anyone certified by the state’s Peace Officer Standards and Training Board, which can include people who are not peace officers.

Gov. Jared Polis signs gun safety bills in April. (Photo by Rep. Lindsey Daugherty)

Senate Bill 169 was one of several significant gun violence prevention measures that sailed through the state legislature in 2023 with meek and ineffective opposition from groups like Rocky Mountain Gun Owners (though RMGO is trying, again, to use legal measures to stop the implementation). Also included on the Democrats’ list was an expansion of Colorado’s successful “red flag” program, which helps to temporarily remove firearms from people believed to be an immediate risk to themselves or others.

Pieces of legislation involving a new three-day waiting period for delivery of a purchased firearm also start to take effect today, though the full impact of House Bill 1219 won’t be felt until the law is implemented in full on Oct. 1. That same day, Senate Bill 168 will also take effect, eliminating some of the current hurdles for victims of gun violence who try to sue gun manufacturers and others involved in the firearm industry.

During the 2022 election cycle, Democrats made it a priority to tell voters about their commitment to gun violence prevention measures. Voters agreed with that plan, awarding Democrats the largest supermajority in modern Colorado history, and the Democratic trifecta (State House, State Senate, and Governor) got right to work on fulfilling those promises.

Democrats made it all happen in about eight months. Colorado will be safer as a result.

Heidi Ganahl Is Starting Up A “Moms For Liberty” Posse

Heidi Ganahl, seen here with the manager of her 2022 campaign for governor.

We took note earlier this week of defeated 2022 GOP gubernatorial candidate Heidi Ganahl’s latest venture, peddling “woke free” household products from a MAGA-themed multilevel marketing organization (MLM) known as “Patriot Switch.” Patriot Switch features the usual Amway-style network marketing hype about someday replacing the traditional retail economy with reliance on “home businesses” hard-selling overpriced household products to their friends. The gimmick of signing up to be a “patriot” caters to a whole new audience of suckers who might not otherwise take the plunge.

But if you thought that Ganahl’s aspirations had turned entirely to fleecing the Republican faithful on consumer goods, don’t worry–the candidate who made stamping out the menace of “furries” in our public schools the single-minded focus of her campaign as she went down in flames last November is putting a toe back in the political arena–organizing a new chapter of the notorious right-wing “concerned parents” group Moms for Liberty:

Moms for Liberty’s influence within the Republican Party has grown rapidly in the last year as party activists became fixated on a shared goal of stamping out “woke ideology” in public schools, which has come to mean any acknowledgment whatsoever of topics ranging from racism to the existence of LGBTQ+ people. In Florida where MFL was founded, the organization lavished praise on Gov. Ron DeSantis’ controversial “Don’t Say Gay” law. MFL has gained notoriety in 2023 across the country by aggressively organizing to influence school boards over books and policies, frequently exaggerated or fictional, said to be “grooming” kids for their deviant Qanon horror-story lifestyles.

That brings us to the issue that helped seal Ganahl’s 19-point humiliation at the polls last year, the “furry panic” of 2022:

In Colorado, GOP gubernatorial nominee Heidi Ganahl insisted in several [2022] interviews that students were dressing and identifying as cats, disrupting class, and the state’s schools were tolerating it. Some children, she alleged, would only communicate in barks and hisses. Her campaign declined to answer questions about Ganahl’s claims, but in one interview with a local Fox affiliate, she suggested “there’s a lot of this going on” in Jefferson County.

The Jefferson County school district disputed Ganahl’s claims and said its dress code prohibits costumes at school. The district — where Columbine High School is located — has been stocking classrooms with small amounts of cat litter since 2017, but as part of “go buckets” that contain emergency supplies in case students are locked in a classroom during a shooting. The buckets also contain candy for diabetic students, a map of the school, flashlights, wet wipes and first aid items.

As NBC News reported last fall and we covered in this space, the “litterboxes in schools” rumor spread like wildfire among conservative parent groups on social media that have since consolidated into Moms for Liberty. One of the original sources of these unfounded rumors went on to found her own MFL chapter:

In December 2021, conservative activist Lisa Hansen claimed at a school board meeting in Midland, Michigan, that an unnamed school in the district had placed “a litter box for the kids that identify as cats” in a unisex bathroom as “part of the agenda that’s being pushed.” Hansen, who later started a local chapter of Moms for Liberty, a conservative activist group, did not respond to requests for comment…

As the video circulated, the Midland superintendent issued a statement to clarify Hansen’s claim was false.

It quickly emerged that “litterboxes in schools” had nothing whatsoever to do with “furries,” but were rather a part of emergency preparations for a mass shooting. But Ganahl never acknowledged that her campaign against the “furries” was a particularly cruel fiction, and today the Moms For Liberty have moved on to new moral panics.

Moms for Liberty quoting Hitler.

Most recently, the organization has had trouble–and let’s face it, who hasn’t–with quoting Adolf Hitler in a sympathetic light. AP reported last month:

An Indiana chapter of Moms for Liberty, a nonprofit that advocates for “ parental rights ” in education and was recently labeled as “extremist” by an anti-hate watchdog, is apologizing and condemning Adolf Hitler after using a quote attributed to the Nazi leader in its inaugural newsletter…

“We condemn Adolf Hitler’s actions and his dark place in human history,” read a statement from chapter chair Paige Miller on the cover of the revised newsletter. “We should not have quoted him in our newsletter and express our deepest apology.”

And then just a few days later in early July, the folly escalated into (pardon us) multilevel Hitlering:

While speaking to the crowd gathered for Moms for Liberty’s “Blessings of the Liberty Breakfast” event on Sunday, North Carolina Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson (R) said it’s time to “start reading” some of the quotes from homicidal dictators like Adolf Hitler and Josef Stalin rather than automatically criticize Moms for Liberty having quoted Hitler in their June newsletter…

“Here’s the thing,” Robinson said. “Whether you’re talking about Adolf Hitler, whether you’re talking about Chairman Mao, whether you’re talking about Stalin, whether you’re talking about Pol Pot, whether you’re talking about Castro in Cuba, or whether you’re talking about a dozen other despots all around the globe, it is time for us to get back and start reading some of those quotes.”

Although North Carolina Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson did right after this call these dictators “communist and socialist despots” who did “dirty, despicable, awful things,” coming on the heels of the group quoting Hitler positively it was an egregious violation of the first rule of holes. When you’re under fire for quoting Hitler, stop talking about quoting Hitler.

If you read this brief history and thought to yourself “what a PERFECT fit for Heidi Ganahl,” whose losing campaign for governor became a circus of far-right conspiracy theorizing from election denial to the furries, you’re not alone. All you have to keep in mind is that, much like Ganahl’s campaign for governor, winning was never the point.

When Company Loves Misery

“Can you imagine how mad we’d be at Shad [Murib, the Chairman of the Colorado Democratic Party] if he were attacking sitting Democrats? I would be furious with Shad. I’d be like, ‘What the hell are you doing?'”

  — Gov. Jared Polis on State Republican Party Chairman Dave Williams (via the Get More Smarter podcast)

Misery loves company, as the saying goes. For state Republican parties dominated by MAGA extremists, the opposite is also true.

Colorado GOP Chairman Dave Williams — whose attacks on current Republican elected officials are just one of his many bizarre moves since becoming Chairman in March — is featured today in the conservative National Review in a story about the sad state of Republican parties nationwide.

As Jim Geraghty explains:

The seemingly frozen-in-amber GOP presidential primary is getting most of the attention and headlines, but under the radar, in at least a quartet of key states, the state Republican parties are collapsing — going broke and devolving into infighting little fiefdoms. Even worse for the GOP, these aren’t just any states — Arizona, Colorado, Michigan, and Minnesota all rank as either key swing states or once-purple states that would be tantalizing targets in a good year.

Meanwhile, the Georgia state Republican Party is spending a small fortune on the legal fees of those “alternate” Republican electors from the 2020 presidential election. If Republicans are disappointed with the results of the 2024 elections — for the fourth straight cycle, mind you — a key factor will be the replacement of competent, boring, regular state-party officials with quite exciting, blustering nutjobs who have little or no interest in the basics of successfully managing a state party or the basic blocking and tackling involved in helping GOP candidates win elections.

Fun fact: This was a real made for TV movie that came out in 2007.

We’ve covered at length in this space the current plight of the Colorado Republican Party under Williams — a party that would need to make some drastic improvements just to earn the right to be called a “dumpster fire.” Remember when former President Donald Trump pondered the possibility of using nuclear weapons to bomb hurricanes? The Colorado GOP is the political party equivalent of that idea.

[Side Note: It’s still difficult to fully comprehend the sheer lunacy that was the Trump administration. Future American students will miss test questions about this moment in history because they’ll think, “That can’t possibly be true.”]

Anyway, back to our main story: Colorado Republicans can take some sort of solace while observing the wreckage of their party by understanding that they are not alone. Republican Parties in some of the swingiest states in America are the equivalent of a train derailing into a landfill before being hit with a meteor and getting swallowed up by a sinkhole:

Just like Colorado’s GOP, the Arizona Republican Party is burning money so fast that it might be contributing to a record streak of nearly a month of 110+ degree temperatures in Phoenix.

♦ In Michigan, at least four county Republican parties are fighting openly and firing off lawsuits. That beats Colorado, where earlier this year the State GOP and the El Paso County GOP sued each other. The Michigan GOP is also leaving its longtime office space, which is also something that Colorado Republicans can understand.

♦ We know that the Colorado Republican Party has been struggling to raise money, but at least things aren’t as bad here as they are for the Minnesota Republican Party…which has less than $54 in the bank.

That’s not a typo. We double-checked:

See, we’re not “broke” broke.


♦ And then there’s the Georgia GOP, which HAS money but is trying really hard to get rid of it as quickly as possible. Similar to Colorado, the Georgia GOP is blowing most of the money it does have on high-priced lawyers. From the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:

The Georgia GOP spent more in the first six months of 2023 than it paid out in all of 2022 to represent “alternate” Republican electors targeted amid Fulton County’s probe into whether Donald Trump and his allies committed crimes while trying to overturn his 2020 defeat.

Newly filed campaign disclosures show that the party paid out more than $520,000 in legal expenses in the first six months of 2023. That’s about 75% more than what was paid out in 2022 and five times what the party spent for legal expenses in 2021, according to disclosures.

Now, it is theoretically possible that this is all part of a sinister coordinated plan to lull Democrats into a false sense of security ahead of the 2024 Presidential Election.

More likely, this is a simple case of the combustible mixture of incompetence and idolatry.

State GOP Chair Dave Williams has 99 problems, but…no, actually, he has 100 problems.

As Geraghty surmises for National Review:

When a political party adopts a mindset that prioritizes loyalty to a particular figure — in this case, Donald Trump — over all other traits, eventually it tends to run low on those other traits. We see the consequences of this mentality in the condition of several state Republican parties…[Pols emphasis]

…In these states, we are seeing the self-marginalization of the Republican Party. No outside force came along and forced these state parties to spend money, alienate traditional supporters and donors, pick nasty fights with their own lawmakers, turn loyalty to Trump into the preeminent litmus test on all issues and disputes, and alienate and repel once-persuadable swing voters. No, the people who took over these parties chose this path.

Yes, the pre-Trump Republican Party had its faults, and there’s no getting around that. Perhaps you remember it as being boring, stuffy, and predictable, with the state and local parties largely being run by nice old ladies who liked to wear big hats. But those allegedly boring types also tended to get the basics right: get more money coming in than is going out, pay attention to down-ballot races, and avoid infighting and messy public squabbles. Prudence, diligence, coalition-building, and cooperation — sure, those traits might not quicken your pulse, but they are required to get the job done. You cannot bellow, snarl, table-pound, and rage your way to an effective state or local party organization. [Pols emphasis]

You can’t? Oh. Well, shit.

The modern obsession with all things Trump is a common explanation for why State Parties are in such bad shape. Colorado Gov. Jared Polis (D-Boulder) made this same argument on the latest episode of the Get More Smarter podcast when discussing the problems that plague the Colorado Republican Party:

“Obviously, the national standard-bearer is part of the problem. It’s challenging because it’s not traditional conservatism. You could obviously fix a [traditional] conservative party.

“It’s a kind of cult of charisma and nationalism. It doesn’t have a cohesive ideology.”

Geraghty has reached a similar conclusion:

The modern, very Trumpy Republican Party attracts certain people and repels certain people. It attracts people with passion, a sense that the fate of the country is at stake, and an eagerness to denounce any Republican official they deem insufficiently devoted to the cause. They also often adamantly insist that the 2020 election was stolen and see conspiracies at work everywhere. This same party repels the old guard and anyone with the old guard’s positive traits. [Pols emphasis]

These state party leaders are not interested in attracting the votes of anyone they deem insufficiently dedicated to the MAGA vision. That includes a lot of suburbanites, white-collar professionals, soccer moms — the kinds of voters who are fine with voting for the likes of Virginia governor Glenn Youngkin, Georgia governor Brian Kemp (who’s at odds with the leaders of his state’s GOP), Ohio governor Mike DeWine, Iowa governor Kim Reynolds, and New Hampshire governor Chris Sununu. Sometimes you hear this rejection of past Republican voters expressed explicitly, as when Kari Lake declared at a rally shortly before the 2022 Arizona gubernatorial election, “We don’t have any McCain Republicans in here, do we? Get the hell out!”

A movement driven by a sense of a culture war requires enemies, and a lot of members of the MAGA crowd are perfectly happy to cast the old Republican base of boring, sensible, prudent suburbanites as one of its many enemies. [Pols emphasis]


In Colorado, Williams has been very clear about his vision of a Republican Party that has no patience for anyone who doesn’t own a red MAGA hat. You could argue, in Williams’ defense, that whatever the State GOP has been doing in recent election cycles was also disastrous. This is inarguably true; the next Republican to hold a statewide office in Colorado will be the only Republican holding a statewide office in Colorado.

With that recent history in mind, maybe Williams is right to take a different approach. Why not try more MAGA? What’s the worst that will happen — they won’t win elections?

Of course, losing elections isn’t the bottom of the barrel in this case. For example, Williams is asking the Colorado Republican State Central Committee to vote on Aug. 5 on a proposal to CANCEL the 2024 Republican Primary Election altogether. This leads to an entirely different sort of political question: Is it better to have a bad Republican Party, or no Republican Party whatsoever?

This isn’t one of those interesting philosophical ideas anymore. We might actually find out the answer sometime in the next 18 months.

Governor Jared Polis Gets More Smarter…Again!

Governor Jared Polis

This week on the Get More Smarter Podcast, our 8th favorite member of congress from Colorado took a safe Republican district and made it a tossup, all by herself! Speaking of congressional races, friend of the show Dr. Congresswoman Yadira Caraveo has gotten herself an opponent in Colorado’s newest congressional race, and let’s just say…they’re not sending their best. Denver officially has a new Mayor — one Mike leaves and one Mike takes over — and Senator Michael Bennet is out there fighting for the troops while Republican Senators are out there fighting culture wars and using our service members as pawns in their weird little game.

BUT FIRST…he’s back! The 43rd Governor of the Great State of Colorado, Jared Polis joins us once again to talk about the 2023 legislative session; the state of the Colorado GOP; renewable energy and clean tech; the Libertarian Party; and the best part about being Governor of the greatest state in the nation.

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Heidi Ganahl Is Back To Recruit You Into Her “Patriot” MLM

Heidi Ganahl opening a box of woke-free Patriot Switch products.

The 2022 Republican nominee for governor of Colorado, Heidi Ganahl, has been working to re-establish her brand after losing to Gov. Jared Polis by almost 20 points last year in what’s generally considered to be one of the worst statewide campaign in the state’s history. Last spring, Ganahl re-launched the podcast she used as a thinly-pretensed campaign vehicle during her long indecisive pre-campaign period, and in May began teasing a major new initiative she was part of.

In late June, Ganahl went public with the details, and…well, here it is:

Hello fellow Patriots! Something the Ganahl household has done to fight the woke agenda is switching our everyday products from woke corporations (no more Target and we are sticking strong to that) to ALL American-made manufacturing. Let me introduce you to the America-first parallel economy!

We are shifting our spending on regular everyday items from cheap CCP manufacturers to clean, American-made, American-worker manufacturing. So far, we’ve loved all the products and nothing feels better than knowing that our money is being well spent in alignment with our values. Want to learn more? Head to 🇺🇸

What’s “Patriot Switch,” you ask? As the Daily Beast reported over a year ago, it’s nothing new:

Scott McKay, a Q-backer who wields a tomahawk on stage and openly fantasizes about the murder of Democrats in his videos, appears at QAnon rallies across the country under the name “Patriot Streetfighter.”

In posts on the messaging app Telegram in March [2022], McKay urged his fans to prepare for the launch of a mysterious project called “Operation Tomahawk.” Revealing little about the project, he promised that he was launching an “economic warfare platform” that would take on liberal corporations and “choke them out.”

“We are going to have millions and then tens of millions of people participating in this,” McKay declared in a video.

McKay’s Operation Tomahawk turned out to be Patriot Switch, another direct-selling business based on multi-level marketing. [Pols emphasis] This time, QAnon followers are being urged to buy their products through Patriot Switch, thereby “supporting companies that promote freedom.” In a video to his followers, McKay promised that they would earn commissions by recruiting new people to sell through the company.

Scott McKay of Patriot Switch, who seems nice.

Patriot Switch is what’s known as a multi-level marketing operation, similar to well-known longstanding outfits like Amway and Herbalife whose business model depends as much or more on the recruitment of new salespeople than the actual selling of products. These businesses are notorious for promising large incomes from a home-based business, when in truth only a small fraction of participants make any money at all. More often, “business owners” are manipulated into stocking up on products they don’t need to meet sales goals and give up in frustration after losing thousands of dollars.

What makes “Patriot Switch” different? Well, it’s a multi-level marketing scheme for patriots! The organizers at the top of the pyramid appear to have simply draped the same old scheme with culture-warrior MAGA rhetoric to deflect from the whys and wherefores of the business model. We’ll concede it’s a novel approach that might catch even some aware of MLM scams in the abstract off their guard. In Ganahl’s case, it appears that she started her own Patriot Switch affiliate a couple of months after “America’s Mom,” far-right Mesa County whacktivist and one-time campaign manager for Rep. Lauren Boebert Sherronna Bishop. Depending on how it’s arranged, that could make Ganahl a part of Sherronna Bishop’s “downline,” or subordinate salespeople who make money for those up the pyramid.

Either way, it’s notable that the 2022 Republican nominee for governor of Colorado has turned to pushing one of the oldest and most notorious business schemes in American history, albeit with a new MAGA “patriot” twist. After Ganahl built and sold off a very successful dogsitting business before her run for governor, we have to call this a sad descent into a much less credible way to earn a living.

The only thing we can add is that the MAGA movement, which Ganahl proudly spoke for as “the MAGA candidate Colorado has been waiting for,” was the victim of one of the greatest scams in American history. That makes them an easy mark for being scammed again and again.

When They Start Losing Colorado Springs… (feat. Spencer Soicher)

Spencer Soicher, political reporter for KRDO-TV in Colorado Springs

This week on the Get More Smarter Podcast, what are all these MAGA Republicans doing funding my centrist organization? Our 8th favorite member of Congress from Colorado is (still) more concerned with what Twitter thinks than doing anything constructive for her district; and the ethically compromised United States Supreme Court wraps up this term by doing some surprisingly good things on elections and gerrymandering…right before essentially ending Affirmative Action in colleges as we know it.

But first…Spencer Soicher, weekend anchor and political reporter for KRDO in Colorado Springs joins us to chat about politics down there off I-25; sports versus political newscasting; and what on earth is going on with El Paso County Republicans (and the rest of the Colorado GOP in general).

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Podcast: Climb Rocks, Pass Bills (feat. Dr. Erik Murdock)

We’re right behind you, Dr. Erik Murdock! Not literally, but in terms of public policy.

This week on the Get More Smarter Podcast, it’s a floor fight! Our 8th favorite Member of Congress from Colorado helps prove what we’ve been saying for years: Elect a bunch of clowns, and you’ll get a f***ing circus. The new Chairman of the Colorado Republican Party is hands down the best one the GOP has ever had in Colorado…at least as far as Democrats are concerned. And Republican Mike Coffman, the Mayor of Aurora, is trying to become king of the third largest city in the state, or something.

Our guest this week is Dr. Erik Murdock, Interim Executive Director of The Access Fund. We talk about the CORE act, the PARK act, and how legislation around rock climbing may be the key to bipartisanship in Washington.

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Just Stop Talking, Kristi Burton Brown

Former Colorado GOP chairwoman Kristi Burton Brown.

As KDVR FOX 31’s Lanie Lee Cook reports, yesterday Gov. Jared Polis issued a disaster declaration covering four counties hit by severe storms on Wednesday:

Gov. Jared Polis issued the verbal declaration for Lincoln, Elbert, El Paso and Washington counties. Severe thunderstorm and flash flood warnings were in effect into Thursday night as weather systems moved across the state.

Thursday brought a second consecutive day of severe weather, adding to weeks of rain that have affected property all over the Front Range…

Shortly before Gov. Polis issued this declaration for the specific areas impacted by Wednesday’s severe weather late yesterday afternoon, a tornado passed directly through the southern Denver suburb of Highlands Ranch doing a considerable amount of fresh damage. The disaster declaration issued for Lincoln, Elbert, El Paso and Washington counties came after the damage in these areas was able to be assessed, a process that obviously takes a little bit of time. But local Republicans led by former Colorado GOP chairwoman Kristi Burton Brown saw what they thought was an opening, and jumped head-first into completely baseless allegations of political favoritism:

The accusation that conservative Douglas County was somehow being slighted by Gov. Jared Polis in a time of need quickly spread among area Republican elected officials:

Again, the disaster declaration issued yesterday was related to storm damage on Wednesday, and it’s necessary to assess the damage from yesterday’s tornado before the incident receives a disaster declaration of its own. As for the sinister allegation that Polis is playing politics with disaster relief, 9NEWS’ Kyle Clark had the conclusion you’ve probably already reached:

If Polis was out to make conservative counties suffer, obviously El Paso County would top the list! In fact any of the counties subject to yesterday’s disaster declaration would be. Fortunately for everyone, Ron DeSantis-style retaliation is not how Gov. Polis does business. The latest word is that pending the assessment of damage from the Highlands Ranch tornado, a disaster declaration may be issued for Douglas County as well. State emergency management officials actually tried to intervene with Kristi Burton Brown on Twitter last night, patiently explaining how the disaster relief process is…well, a process.

They needn’t have bothered, KBB didn’t want to hear it:

In the end, what we have here is Colorado emergency management officials including the governor doing the essential work of governing, versus ankle-biters who have nothing to offer but falsehoods and presumptions of bad faith. There’s no “working across the aisle” with endlessly quarrelsome people whose only goal is to turn every interaction into a wildly acrimonious face-off for political points.

Especially, as in this case, when they don’t know how anything works.

In Which Right Wingers in Colorado Go Truly “Batshit” Crazy

We took note last week of a proposal between the Colorado Republican Party and the Colorado Libertarian Party to “join forces” (sometimes) in an effort to prevent Democrats from continuing to win elections in Colorado. The idea stems from a belief among some politicos on both sides that Libertarian candidates — who have long been sort of the “Dollar Store version” of Colorado Republicans — are siphoning away votes from Republican candidates to the benefit of Democrats.

The math doesn’t really support this idea on a larger scale, but facts have never gotten in the way of complaints for right-wing voices in Colorado. In the 2022 race for Governor, for example, Republican Heidi Ganahl could have received ALL of the votes that went to Libertarian Party candidate [checks notes] Kevin Ruskusky, and Ganahl still would have lost the race by 19 points to Democrat Jared Polis. The situation was the same in the race for U.S. Senate, where Democrat Michael Bennet defeated Republican Joe O’Dea by a 56-41 margin, with Libertarian candidate Brian Peotter picking up less than 2% of the vote.

A “Republicertarian Alliance” might have changed the outcome in Congressional District 8, where Democrat Yadira Caraveo defeated Republican Barbara Kirkmeyer by 1,632 votes; Libertarian candidate Dan Ward received 9,280 votes, which theoretically could have swung the race in Kirkmeyer’s favor. Of course, there’s no guarantee that Ward voters might have instead been Kirkmeyer voters, or if they might have just left that race blank on their ballot.

Anyway, all of this talk about a “Republicertarian” alliance glosses over the bigger problem with the hardcore base in either political party: They’re too crazy to appeal to average voters in Colorado.

According to prominent Republicans and Libertarians, Colorado State University in Fort Collins is building out a bioweapons laboratory focused on bat research because, um, well…like most fantastical conspiracy theories, the “why” is less important than the “yarrghhhhh!!!”

As Kyle Clark of 9News noted on Twitter:

9News covered this manufactured conspiracy back in February, around the same time that the Rocky Mountain Collegian was reporting on the news of a $6.7 million federal grant for a new “Chiropteran Research Facility,” which is a complicated way of saying that CSU is building a new bat cave:

This summer a new construction project will begin at the Colorado State University Foothills Campus. With a $6.7 million grant from the National Institutes of Health, CSU is able to build the Chiropteran Research Facility, which will be a breeding space for bats to research viruses that have been theorized to have developed in the animals. According to Construction Journal, the design of the new building is a 14,000-square-foot, stand-alone bat vivarium.

“CSU researchers have safely studied and worked with bats and other vectors for over 30 years,” said Rebecca Moritz, CSU biosafety director. [Pols emphasis] “Due to global warming and population growth, humans and animals are coming into contact more frequently and in ways not previously seen. This could result in an increased number of outbreaks and possibly pandemics. The main purpose of this facility will be to house bat breeding colonies for CSU researchers and researchers around the United States and the world. This facility will allow an expansion of CSU’s current work, including projects focusing on the role that bats play in disease transmission and the development of vaccines and therapeutics.”

This center is an extension of the CSU Center for Vector-Borne Infectious Diseases, which has been active on campus since the late 1970s. The new facility is projected to be completed by 2025, allowing students to conduct groundbreaking research in the next few years. [Pols emphasis]

“To the Qave!”

This may be big news to Heidi Ganahl and anti-vaxxers such as Pam Long, but CSU has been studying chiropteran bats in Fort Collins for 50 years now. It’s not a big secret.

Nevertheless, Ganahl focused an entire podcast episode on the subject back in May, in which she interviewed the head of a group called — and we’re not making this up –the Covid Bat Research Moratorium of Colorado (CBRMC). The idea that studying bats is tantamount to creating bioweapons is easy to sell to anti-vaxxers, who respond to any use of the phrase “gain-of-function research” as though someone had activated, well, a “bat signal.”

And what proof do any these folks have that would demonstrate that CSU is creating some sort of “COVID bats” in Fort Collins? They have no evidence, of course; they know it is true because the Internet told them all about it.

Substitute “COVID bats” for “kids dressed in cat costumes,” and you have basically the same silly story that put the final nail in the coffin of Ganahl’s 2022 gubernatorial campaign.

As you no doubt recall, Ganahl insisted for weeks — without providing any serious evidence — that school districts across the state were allowing kids to participate in classrooms while pretending to be cats, or something.

The reason Ganahl believed this nonsense is because some people on Facebook told her it was true. Colorado voters, understandably, decided not to allow Ganahl or her Facebook page anywhere near the levers of government.

People who say stuff like this tend to have a hard time winning elections…no matter how many Libertarians are involved. Colorado voters generally worry less about bat research and more about roads, schools, and preserving basic freedoms. As Colorado Democratic Party Chairman Shad Murib told Colorado Newsline when asked about the “Republicertarian Alliance” last week:

“The Colorado Republican Party’s problem is not Libertarians spoiling elections for them – their problem is that their platform is opposed by the vast majority of Colorado voters. If their path to victory is to embrace folks who are even more extreme than then, I’d remind them that two wrongs don’t make a right.”

Two wrongs don’t make a right, but two “rights” make up a bunch of other nonsense. No “Republicertarian Alliance” will accomplish squat in Colorado until they solve that problem.

“Ghost Gun” Ban Caps Off Big Year For Gun Safety

Gov. Jared Polis signs SB23-279 Friday.

Last Friday, Gov. Jared Polis signed Senate Bill 23-279, legislation to outlaw the sale and manufacture of so-called “ghost guns”–weapons made in part from 3D-printed and other home-based fabrication methods with no traceable serial number or background checks required. This legislation, the fifth major gun safety bill from the 2023 legislative session signed into law, was introduced late in direct response (useful reader clarification below) to the use of a “ghost gun” in a shooting at Denver’s East High School. From a joint House and Senate Democratic release:

Governor Jared Polis today signed legislation aimed at preventing further gun violence and cracking down on “ghost guns” into law. Sponsored by Senators Rhonda Fields, D-Aurora, and Chris Hansen, D-Denver, and Representatives Andrew Boesenecker, D-Fort Collins, and Junie Joseph, D-Boulder, SB23-279 prohibits the possession, sale, or transfer of an unserialized firearm, frame or receiver. It also prohibits manufacturing a frame or receiver, unless done by a federally licensed firearm manufacturer, including via a 3D printer.

Ghost guns are unregulated, untraceable firearms that can be bought online and assembled at home, often through DIY kits or downloadable blueprints. They are designed to avoid all gun laws, and are available to purchase without a background check, serial number, sale record, or other protections.

“Ghost guns are untraceable, unserialized weapons that anyone can make or assemble in their own home – and they’re extremely dangerous,” Fields said. “We worked hard this session to make Colorado safer and prevent gun violence, and this new law is a big step towards reaching that goal. I’m proud to champion this legislation that will prevent ghost guns from causing further violence in our communities and create a safer Colorado for us all.”

“Colorado Democrats have passed significant gun violence prevention legislation in recent years, but ghost guns bypass these life-saving firearm protections and make our communities more vulnerable to gun violence,” Boesenecker said. “Unserialized guns allow for dangerous individuals to possess a firearm and makes it harder for victims to seek accountability for gun crimes. With this new law, Colorado is cracking down on unserialized firearm parts so we can save more lives from senseless gun violence and improve accountability for victims and their families.”

Combined with new laws raising the minimum purchase age for all guns to 21, imposing a three-day waiting period on purchases, strengthening the state’s proven “red flag” law, easing the state’s formerly highly protective liability laws to allow victims of gun violence more legal rights, these together represent the biggest advancement on the issue since the tumultuous 2013 session–which saw the passage of landmark universal background check and magazine limit laws that also led to recalls against vulnerable Democrats that fall.

This year, it’s the polar opposite, with gun rights activists having failed to muster significant resistance to this year’s fun safety package despite vows to turn the capitol into a “circus.” And instead of Republicans plotting recalls against Democratic lawmakers, today at the state capitol a substantial group of anti-gun protesters is holding a sit-in to demand Gov. Polis ban all guns. Polis can’t do that, of course, but it’s a sign of how much the politics on gun control have shifted in the past decade.

Once again this year, Colorado was a model for the nation–not by passing draconian gun bans, but with thoughtful regulation of access to guns, and safety mechanisms for people in crisis. Polling consistently shows that there is overwhelming public support for passing these common-sense measures that do not unreasonably interfere with gun rights for law-abiding citizens.

While we respect those asking for still more, it’s okay to be proud of what we’ve accomplished.

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.

DeSantis’ Campaign Launch An Epic Technical Disaster

Not even Fox News can spin this one:

A short while later, the headline was updated:

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R).

Politico reports, and if you were one of the several hundred thousand Americans who tried to tune in this afternoon, a precious half hour or more of your life was thus wasted:

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis was set to announce his highly-anticipated presidential bid during a Twitter spaces session Wednesday.

Then Twitter broke.

The app repeatedly crashed Wednesday night as thousands of listeners attempted to tune in to hear the Florida governor announce he was entering the race for the GOP presidential nomination. Thirty minutes into the event, DeSantis was finally able to begin speaking.

After over twenty minutes of static, mic feedback, false starts, and some of the weirdest synth hold music we’ve ever heard, the original audience of up to 600,000 viewers tuned in to hear Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ campaign announcement–a tiny fraction of the audience DeSantis would have gotten from cable news–had dwindled to less than 150,000. Patient users who navigated to a second Twitter Spaces live stream posted by Twitter owner Elon Musk were finally able to listen to DeSantis reading his canned announcement speech, followed by an equally stilted Q&A with various right-wing celebrities like the NRA’s Dana Loesch.

A spokesperson for former President Donald Trump responded: “Glitchy. Tech issues. Uncomfortable silences. A complete failure to launch. And that’s just the candidate!”

The spectacle represented a major embarrassment for both DeSantis and Elon Musk, Twitter’s relatively new owner, one that could haunt the former as he embarks on a bid to win the GOP’s nomination and the latter as he tries to position himself as a political kingmaker in the new media landscape.

But it doesn’t matter, because nobody cares what they talked about now. The catastrophic failure of DeSantis’ presidential campaign launch event will be taught for generations to come as a cautionary tale in political science classes. DeSantis abetted by Musk thought they were executing a game-changing end run around the “liberal media,” but instead made themselves the object lesson for why we need old-school media outlets who don’t fire everyone who knows how anything works.

In Colorado, we’re no stranger to the “failure to launch” phenomenon, and if this afternoon’s technical difficulties seem right out of the Heidi Ganahl playbook, you’re not alone! Even that’s not fair since Ganahl successfully made a few podcasts. But these are the early stumbles that tell us as they have so many times before that a campaign is hobbled from the outset. And with DeSantis starting off 20 points behind the presumptive 2024 nominee Donald Trump, this debacle might really be DeSantis’ defining moment.

Or…it can’t get any worse. If you’re a DeSantis optimist, that’s what you’ve got left.

The Race for Denver Mayor is a Matter of “Responsibility”

The two finalists for Denver Mayor — Mike Johnston and Kelly Brough — are actually quite similar in how they would approach many of Denver’s most pressing problems in the months and years ahead. 

These similarities were again obvious in a recent debate hosted by Denver7, Denverite, and Colorado Public Radio. As Conrad Swanson wrote for The Denver Post:

They both agree that the city needs more affordable housing, additional child care options and an influx of people and businesses downtown. They differ only slightly on whether to use taxpayer funds to build the Denver Broncos a new stadium and disagree outright on whether the city should revise its snowplowing policy.

Only once during the debate did the pair verge on actually debating each other. And even in that case Brough reminded Johnston that they had both supported the same piece of legislation.

This isn’t to say that Brough and Johnston agree on every issue. Brough supports a potential ballot measure that would seek taxpayer dollars to build a new stadium for the Denver Broncos; Johnston does not. Brough supports “qualified immunity” for law enforcement – essentially removing some personal liabilities for police officers. Johnston does not.  

Where Kelly Brough and Mike Johnston diverge the most is in how they discuss their respective histories: One candidate takes no responsibility. The other takes too much responsibility. 



Get More Smarter on Friday (May 19)

The Denver Nuggets are two wins away from advancing to the NBA Finals for the first time after defeating the Los Angeles Lakers on Thursday. Game 3 is Saturday in Los Angeles. Let’s Get More Smarter. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of an audio learner, check out The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter.




With the United States roughly two weeks away from a potentially catastrophic debt default, Congressional Republicans are playing a game of “chicken” with the White House. From The Associated Press:

A top debt ceiling negotiator for House Speaker Kevin McCarthy said Friday it’s time to “press pause” on talks as negotiations with the White House came to an abrupt standstill at the Capitol.

Rep. Garret Graves, R-La., tapped by McCarthy, R-Calif., to lead the talks, emerged from an hourlong session and said gaps remained between House Republicans and the Democratic administration.

“It’s time to press pause because it’s just not productive,” Graves told reporters.

He added that the negotiations have become “just unreasonable” and that it was unclear when talks would resume.

Wall Street turned lower as talks on raising the nation’s debt limit came to a sudden halt, raising worries that the country could edge closer to risking a highly damaging default on U.S. government debt.

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy is claiming that a legislative deal needs to be in place by this weekend. But as POLITICO reports, that’s not really true:

Even though timing may seem extremely tight, both chambers have their own escape hatches that could allow them to vote on a bill more quickly, sometimes dramatically so. Plus, lawmakers aren’t all convinced that June 1 is a hard deadline, given the Treasury Department’s uncertainty about when it would truly run out of cash. Congress could potentially have until June 8, according to one estimate, giving lawmakers a crucial extra week to tie up loose ends.

McCarthy faces another potential problem of his own creation:

Next week, the spotlight is on the House, since the Senate is in recess. There, McCarthy believes it would take about four days to pass any potential legislation due to commitments he made back in January, including his promise to give lawmakers 72 hours to review bills before a vote.

He could theoretically ignore that rule if the timeline gets squeezed, but he’d risk the wrath of his right flank.

“I don’t think our members would tolerate it,” said Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.), a senior Republican appropriator, adding that he didn’t think McCarthy would abandon the rule. “I don’t think we want to look like our members didn’t have the time to read and consider the legislation.”

The House is scheduled to depart for recess the week of May 29, but Cole said he wouldn’t be surprised if members are called back to pass a debt limit deal, should a vote fall through next week.


In other debt ceiling news, Colorado Rep. Ken Buck (R-Greeley) is still playing his ridiculous game of pretending to be involved in debt ceiling talks even though he has voted against any such proposal going back to the Obama administration:


Buck is making no serious effort to contribute to a solution here; he was one of just four Republicans to vote against a GOP proposal passed a few weeks ago, and has suggested RAISING THE RETIREMENT AGE to 72 or 73 years of age as a way to cut spending. It’s important to remember here that the debt ceiling discussions are about paying for things that Congress has already approved in previous years.


Congressperson Lauren Boebert (R-ifle) first made her name in politics by yelling at a Member of Congress. Now that she is in Congress herself, that sort of dissent from a member of the public is apparently not tolerated.

It shouldn’t be lost in the coverage that the topic of the press conference itself was completely bonkers. As Erik Maulbetsch reports for the Colorado Times Recorder:

…lawmakers, including Boebert, made numerous unsubstantiated claims, from the World Health Organization being controlled by China, to blaming it for the COVID pandemic, to claiming it is the vehicle for a plot to force all nations under a single worldwide government.

Among other things, Boebert claimed that the United States is surrendering its sovereignty to the WHO, an organization that she and other Republican legislators claim is controlled by “Communist China.”


In other Boebert-related news, Sen. John Hickenlooper (D-Denver) has reached the end of his rope when it comes to Boebert’s habit of taking credit for things she voted against.


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The Get More Smarter Podcast Legislative Wrap Up

This week on the Get More Smarter Podcast, the First Regular Session of the 74th General Assembly has adjourned Sine Die and it was a despicable failure, or a resounding success, or somewhere in between, depending entirely on how much time you spend putting money into Elon Musk’s pocket. Your hosts Jason Bane and Ian Silverii break down the results.

To wrap up the session in style, Christy Powell returns to play “Legislating with Crayons,” and we check in on our 6th and 8th favorite members of congress from Colorado to see what in the hell they’re up to (spoiler alert: nothing good).

Listen to previous episodes of The Get More Smarter Podcast at

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Jesus And Heidi Ganahl Are Coming Back

In a sequence of events eerily similar to her extended “podcast tour” of the state that was in actuality a stealth launch of her historically ill-fated campaign for governor, 2022 19-point loser Heidi Ganahl is holding an event this weekend to discuss her future plans, just a month or so into her latest podcast excursion “Unleashed with Heidi Ganahl.”

“We are and can make a positive impact for our kids.” We want to correct it as badly as you, but then it wouldn’t be an authentic Ganahl-ism! It will be three years before Ganahl has the opportunity to run for another statewide office unless she makes the unlikely decision to run for CU Regent At-Large again in 2024, and after helping drag the Republican ticket down to its worst defeat since most of us were born in last November’s election, there are plenty of fellow Republicans who would like nothing more than for Ganahl to just go away already.

But in the off chance you’re still interested in relitigating the 2020 election and ferreting out the furries–we’d laugh if it wasn’t the shared goal of the Colorado Republican Party’s new leadership–it looks like Heidi Ganahl will be coming back to oblige. Along with state party chairman Dave “Let’s Go Brandon” Williams, it’s all the proof voters need that Colorado Republicans have learned absolutely nothing from last year’s shellacking.

Democrats, on the other hand, should roll out the red carpet.

Polis, Dems Deliver Bigly On Gun Violence Prevention In 2023

Gov. Jared Polis signs gun safety bills. (Photo by Rep. Lindsey Daugherty)

As the Denver Post’s Nick Coltrain reports, Gov. Jared Polis signed into law a package of four gun safety bills today, considered to be the biggest advancement on the issue since at least the passage of the state’s landmark “Red Flag” law in 2019, and possibly the momentous and politically-consequential 2013 session of the Colorado General Assembly:

The new laws restrict gun purchases to people age 21 and older; create a three-day waiting period before a purchaser can take possession of the firearm; expand who can file so-called red flag laws to include medical care providers, mental health-care providers, educators, and district attorneys; and remove liability protections for gun manufacturers in lawsuits.

All four bills passed with only Democratic support in the legislature, where the party holds a supermajority in the House and a near supermajority in the Senate. A fifth bill to ban so-called ghost guns — firearms that lack serial numbers, such as those sold in build-it-yourself-kits — is working its way through the legislature. Democratic leaders backed all five.

Surrounded by advocates and survivors of gun violence, Polis said the bills will save lives. Supporters of the reforms have often pointed out these bills aren’t just about the mass shootings that have rocked the entire state, but also suicides, domestic violence and other shootings that don’t lead to days of news coverage.

Each of these bills directly confront specific gun violence issues that have been in the headlines recently in Colorado. Raising the age for gun purchases might have directly prevented the Boulder King Soopers mass shooting in March of 2021. A more accessible “red flag” law could have prevented any number of shootings and deaths by suicide, a need highlighted by the reluctance of local law enforcement to employ the law ahead of the Club Q shooting in Colorado Springs last year. Three-day waiting periods have been proven to reduce both homicides and suicides, and liability protection for the gun industry became an issue after the parents of an Aurora theater shooting victim were stung by punitive immunity measures in Colorado protecting the gun industry from accountability. Along with a late bill banning so-called “ghost guns,” these are all bills with a backstory in local tragedy that created the mandate for their passage.

The signing of these bills into law is a moment that Republicans in the Colorado General Assembly fought with all their micro-minority might to prevent, leading to the Democratic majority using some of the less-polite parliamentary tools in their bag to cap the number of hours Republicans could endlessly repeat the same complaints. And with their allies at Rocky Mountain Gun Owners (RMGO) firing off a lawsuit within minutes of the bills’ signing, House Republicans remain snarlingly defiant:

Let’s take just a moment to explore the logically faulty case House Republicans are making here. First, a new poll from none other than Fox News out yesterday completely debunks Republican claims they lack public support, as has basically every public opinion poll in the last decade:

A new Fox News Poll finds most voters favor the following proposals:

— Requiring criminal background checks on all gun buyers (87%)
— Improving enforcement of existing gun laws (81%)
— Raising the legal age to buy a gun to 21 (81%) [Pols emphasis]
— Requiring mental health checks on gun buyers (80%)
— Allowing police to take guns from those considered a danger to themselves or others (80%)
— Requiring a 30-day waiting period for all gun purchases (77%) [Pols emphasis]

If Fox News can’t convince Republicans they’re on the short end of the public opinion stick, who can?

Of course, House Republicans aren’t basing their assessment on any actual data, but rather on perception of public turnout to testify against a bill that wasn’t even a part of the leadership-sanctioned gun bill package–the failed assault weapons ban. Republicans forget to mention that the bill never had the support within the Democratic majority to pass, and despite that still saw a very large contingent of gun safety advocates turn out to support it.

If that flimsy anecdote is all Republicans have to counter Democrats’ mountain of data and overwhelming public support, the political battle is over. There will be no repeat of the 2013 or even the fizzled 2019 gun lobby-engineered backlash. With respect to legal challenges, we can only anticipate the political fallout from conservative judicial activism on guns will be similar what is happening to Republicans right now after they achieved their long-sought goal of overturning Roe v. Wade. If a politically tainted judiciary imposes policy the voters don’t like, they’ll take it out on the politicians they can vote against.

In the meantime, none of the bills signed into law today will prevent a law-abiding citizen from buying any type of gun. The mechanism by which these laws will save lives is straightforward to explain. Colorado Democrats have proven over a decade of sustained progress that, even in the Wild West, the gun lobby need not be feared in taking common-sense steps to reduce the toll from gun violence.

At long last, let the word go forth.

Republicans Celebrate “Right to Repair” That They Opposed

The total number of House Republican votes for a new “right to repair” bill for farmers.

As Jesse Bedayn reports for The Associated Press, Colorado is now the first state in the country with a “right to repair” law that allows farmers more freedom to fix their own tractors and combines:

Sitting in front of a hulking red tractor, Democratic Gov. Jared Polis signed a bill Tuesday making Colorado the first state to ensure farmers can fix their own tractors and combines with a “right to repair” law — which compels manufacturers to provide the necessary manuals, tools, parts and software.

Colorado, home to high desert ranches and sweeping farms on the low-and-level plains, took the lead on the issue following a nationwide outcry from farmers that manufacturers blocked them from making fixes and forced them to wait precious days for an official servicer to arrive — delays that imperiled profits…[Pols emphasis]

…Colorado has taken the lead, but Democratic Rep. Brianna Titone, the bill’s sponsor, and Dan Waldvogle, director of the Rocky Mountain Farmers Union, said it’s a potential launch pad for other states and even at the federal level where discussions about similar legislation are already underway.

The legislation advanced through long committee hearings, having been propelled forward mostly by Democrats even though a Republican lawmaker co-sponsored the bill. The proposal left some GOP lawmakers stuck between their farming constituents pleading for the ability to repair their equipment and the manufacturers who vehemently opposed it. [Pols emphasis]

Bedayn went into more detail back in February on the “right to repair” bill for farm equipment — one of many areas where product owners are asking the government to reduce regulations preventing them from fixing something they already own so that manufacturers can make more money off of repairs under the guise of protecting trade secrets. HB23-1011 was championed in Colorado by Rep. Brianna Titone (D-Arvada), but House Republicans were more than happy to claim credit because of the co-sponsorship of Rep. Ron Weinberg (R-Larimer County):



House Republicans — and Weinberg — are pounding their chests over a bill that Republicans overwhelmingly opposed. Only two of the 19 Republicans in the State House of Representatives actually voted for HB23-1011 in its final form: Weinberg and Rep. Rod Bockenfeld (R-Watkins)

Voting against legislation and then claiming credit later is a common tactic for Colorado Republicans (it’s basically the only thing in Congressperson Lauren Boebert’s playbook). It’s nice that Weinberg had the good sense to co-sponsor this bill, but he and his caucus had nothing to do with the passage of HB23-1011. Democrats got this done.

It’s also worth noting that Colorado Republicans who otherwise spend a lot of time braying about their support for “rural Colorado” once again sided with big business interests instead of local farmers. As Bedayn reports:

“Forcing a business to disclose trade secrets, software and jeopardize consumer safety is poor public policy,” said Republican state Rep. Matt Soper, adding that it will stifle tech innovation.

Now, compare that paragraph with this one:

Behind the governor and arrayed farmers and lawmakers sat a red Steiger 370 tractor owned by a farmer named Danny Wood. Wood’s tractor has flown an American flag reading “Farmers First,” and it been one of two of his machines to break down, requiring long waits before servicers arrived to enter a few lines of computer code or make a fix Wood could have made himself.

Remember this the next time you hear a Republican whining that Democrats are fighting some mythical “war on rural Colorado.”

“Skin In The Game” Medicaid Policy Ends With Bipartisan Support

Former State Sen. Greg Brophy (R).

As the Denver Post’s Nick Coltrain reports, legislation that you might not have heard about being less exciting than the major fights this session nonetheless marks a significant policy victory for Democrats, expected to ease a major burden to obtaining care by the state’s most in need:

Coloradans who rely on Medicaid — the public health insurance for the state’s lowest-income individuals and children — will no longer need to pay nearly all copays under changes passed by the General Assembly and a law signed by Gov. Jared Polis.

Patients would still need to cover copays for non-emergency emergency room visits. Currently, Health First Colorado, the state’s Medicaid program, charges copays of $10 per day for inpatient hospital services, $4 for outpatient hospital services, $2 for primary care and $1 per day for radiology services, such as non-dental X-rays…

“People struggle to afford the cost of health care, even when they have insurance,” state Rep. Emily Sirota, a Denver Democrat and sponsor of the bill to eliminate most cost pays and member of the budget-writing Joint Budget Committee, said. “We know that for many Coloradans, a copay of any size can be a deterrent to seek that care. We think this will be good for our Medicaid patients and for the providers who serve them.”

Senate Bill 23-222 eliminating copays for many covered services under Medicaid enjoyed bipartisan sponsorship from the Joint Budget Committee’s GOP Sen. Barbara Kirkmeyer, and passed the Senate with overwhelming bipartisan support. In the House the bill passed closer to party lines, with GOP Rep. Rod Bockenfeld crossing over to vote with the Democratic supermajority. But in order to understand the long-term significance of this bipartisan achievement, let’s go back in time to March of 2011, and listen to former Republican Sen. Greg Brophy talk about the importance of Medicaid recipients having, as he called it, “skin in the game.”

Brophy: We have grown the number of people getting free health care in Colorado. We’re up to 550,000 kids on Medicaid or SCHIP in Colorado, and they pay effectively nothing for their health care. And I don’t think that’s right. Everybody should have a little skin in this game, and I think what we’re going to end up doing, then, is seeking real copays and maybe even a little bit of a premium payment out of people who are on Medicaid or SCHIP.

Rosen: …Does that mean that poor kids are going to go untreated?

Brophy: Well, that’s what the opponents of charging people will say, but I think when you look at it what we’re doing as a matter of public policy is we are allowing people who have their kids on Medicaid to spend their money on other things. For instance, the average Medicaid recipient is four times more likely to smoke than the average Coloradoan. So we’re paying for their kids’ health care, and they’re buying cigarettes instead. And I think if you look at the statistics, you’ll see that they are also much more likely to play the lottery. So instead of paying for their kids’ health care, they are playing in the lottery and buying cigarettes. Oh, and by the way, most of them have air conditioning. So instead of paying for their kids’ health care, they are paying for their air conditioning bills, and it goes on and on and on. I think they should put a little bit of skin in the game.

It took every election between then and now to bring us to today’s changed political environment, where Sen. Brophy’s crass dismissal of the financial hardship faced by Medicaid recipients has not only aged poorly but now officially been repudiated in Colorado statute. Sen. Brophy’s complaints about Medicaid recipients blowing their money on “playing in the lottery and buying cigarettes” would be met with outrage in today’s State Senate, necessitating an apology like Rep. Matt Soper’s sort-of sorry earlier this session for threatening civil war over gun safety laws. Not to mention that in the era of climate change, dissing poor people for paying for “air conditioning” seems gratuitously meanspirited.

If you’re looking to show friends and neighbors a tangible example of how we’re a better state than we were ten years ago, this legislation tracks that change as well as any. It’s a good story to tell the kids about growing up to become, as a people, better people.

Ganahl Assumed Conservative Nonprofits “Would Have The Ground Game Ready” For Her in 2022

(¯\_(ツ)_/¯ — Promoted by Colorado Pols)

It would be hard to name someone who knows Colorado’s conservative training program, the Leadership Program of the Rockies (LPR), better than Heidi Ganahl. After graduating from LPR in 2013, she joined its Advisory Board, a position she still holds today. Following her election as a statewide Regent for the University of Colorado, she joined LPR’s Board of Directors, serving from Feb. 2017 through 2018.

It’s the breadth and depth of Ganahl’s experience with LPR that makes the statement she made for the launch event for her new political podcast, “Unleashed,” so puzzling. In a prerecorded introduction Ganahl filmed just prior to the March 28 live event, Ganahl addressed her failed gubernatorial campaign, calling it “the elephant in the room.” Ganahl listed three issues she says affected her campaign: insufficient fundraising; minimal coordinated field work, and media bias. As she finished summarizing each of three problems, she concluded with “we’re gonna fix that,” perhaps implying that she is considering another run for office.

Her gripe about LPR was made in passing, but nevertheless as part of what appeared to be scripted remarks. For her second point concerning the lack of a good door-knocking campaign, Ganahl called out several groups by name, including LPR.

“I thought organizations that are on our side, like the GOP, both state and — believe me there were some good people in the counties — but the RNC, LPR, AFP would have the ground game ready to go after the primary,” said Ganahl. “It was not there! We realized quickly we had to build our own- fast. Enter the wonderful hundreds of Ganahl Gals, the folks who showed up for rallies, our great volunteers. But we couldn’t build it big enough fast enough. Now we know. We’re gonna fix that.”

As the old Sesame Street song goes, “one of these things is not like the others.” The state GOP and RNC, or Republican National Committee, are both campaign committees that can and do undertake field efforts for GOP candidates. AFP is Americans for Prosperity, the Koch-funded political behemoth that does all kinds of independent work on behalf of Republicans it chooses to endorse through its 501c4 nonprofit, including lots of door knocking. The Colorado Times Recorder could not find any evidence that AFP endorsed Ganahl in 2022 as it did for the previous GOP nominee for governor, Walker Stapleton, in 2018. AFP did not return a request for comment on Ganahl’s statements.

LPR, however, is a 501c3 nonprofit, meaning that while it can accept tax-deductible contributions, it is a non-partisan corporation that definitely cannot run “ground game” for a Republican gubernatorial candidate.

Responding (after publication) to CTR’s request for comment, LPR Board Chairman Bob Schaffer provided the following statement:

“The Leadership Program of the Rockies is a well-respected academic institution that helps civic leaders hone their craft,” wrote Schaffer. “It engages in neither partisan campaigns nor advocacy for the election or defeat of political candidates. After listening to the segment, it seems more likely to me Mrs. Ganahl was referring to a different organization with either the same or similar shorthand initials.”

Ganahl too did not return an email request for clarification on her statement. The Colorado Times Recorder asked whether she knows that LPR is nonpartisan and therefore is not allowed to support any candidate, why she considers the organization to be “on her side,” as well as what sort of “ground game” she expected it to provide. This article will be updated with any responses received.

This article first appeared in the Colorado Times Recorder.