Get More Smarter on Friday (Dec. 2)

The United States Men’s soccer team faces Netherlands on Saturday in the World Cup Round of 16, but you’ll have to wake up early to watch the game (8:00 am MST). Now, let’s Get More Smarter. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of an audio learner, check out The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter.

 

FIRST UP…

 

Fox 31 News is heavily promoting an interview with Rep. Lauren Boebert that will run on its Sunday political show. During the interview, Boebert doubles-down on her vile comments about the LGBTQ community and then makes a completely absurd statement about Colorado’s “Red Flag” laws that proves — once again — that Boebert has no grasp whatsoever of any policy issues:

The suspect in the Club Q shooting did have a past run-in with law enforcement in Colorado Springs. The suspect’s mother called police after she was threatened with a homemade bomb in 2021. Many, including Boebert, questioned why Colorado’s red flag law wasn’t used.

Derp

“Why did this (person) have a firearm if we have red flag laws in the state of Colorado?” Boebert said. “I’m not in favor of red flag laws. It’s just pointing out the hypocrisy of using this against law-abiding citizens, having this law on the books, which is completely unconstitutional. But then where it could have potentially matter, it wasn’t used.” [Pols emphasis]

Why wasn’t the “Red Flag” law used in Colorado Springs? This isn’t a mystery. It wasn’t used because Republican officials in El Paso County, including District Attorney Michael Allen and Sheriff Bill Elder, openly admit that they refuse to abide by the law.

 

Meanwhile, elected officials in Colorado who actually DO understand what is happening in our state continue to discuss potential new gun safety measures. From The Colorado Sun:

A host of changes to Colorado’s gun laws, from a ban on so-called assault weapons to tweaks to the existing red flag law, are already being considered by Democrats at the state Capitol in response to the shooting last month at an LGBTQ nightclub in Colorado Springs.

“Pretty much everything is on the table,” said Senate President Steve Fenberg, a Boulder Democrat. “The question now is: What seems like a priority?”

Democrats will return to the Colorado Capitol in early January with expanded majorities in both the House and Senate and facing pressure to act after the state’s latest mass shooting. Five people were killed and more than a dozen others wounded in a Nov. 19 attack on Club Q allegedly carried out by a 22-year-old shooter armed with a semi-automatic, AR-15-style rifle.

Gun policy could be the first big test of Democrats’ expanded majorities at the Capitol next year. Memories of the 2013 recalls of Democratic lawmakers over tougher gun regulations adopted in the wake of the Aurora theater shooting certainly remain, but Colorado is a different state politically than it was a decade ago, and the Democratic majorities in the House and Senate are almost guaranteed until January 2027. [Pols emphasis]

 

The U.S. economy just won’t die, despite what Republicans told you for the last 10 months. From The New York Times:

America’s jobs engine kept churning in November, the Labor Department reported Friday, a show of continued demand for workers despite the Federal Reserve’s push to curb inflation by tamping down hiring.

Employers created 263,000 jobs, even as a wave of layoffs in the tech industry made headlines. That was only a slight drop from the revised figure of 284,000 for October.

The unemployment rate was steady at 3.7 percent, while wages have risen 5.1 percent over the year, more than expected.

The labor market has been surprisingly resilient in the face of successive interest rate increases by the Fed, adding an average of 323,000 jobs for the last six months.

Some economists are still fretting about particular aspects of the labor market, but finding things to be nervous about is sort of a requirement for an economist.

 

Remember when Weld County rancher/oil and gas development land owner Steve Wells made headlines for promising to spend $11 million of his own money to defeat Democratic Gov. Jared Polis?

The Dream Team: Steve Wells and Heidi Ganahl

That was all nonsense.

As The Colorado Sun reports:

Steve Wells, the deep-pocketed Weld County rancher and oil and gas booster who made waves over the summer when he dedicated $11 million toward a longshot effort to unseat Democratic Gov. Jared Polis, ended up spending only about 30% of the money.

Wells has refunded himself about $7 million from the super PAC, Deep Colorado Wells, he formed to defeat Polis and support Republican candidates, leaving about $850,000 in the committee’s coffers for future political spending. [Pols emphasis]

Wells said he always intended to spend the full $11 million but that he stopped at $3.3 million about a month before Election Day after he realized other GOP donors weren’t going to open their wallets in Colorado and as he saw how much money Polis, a wealthy self-funding candidate, was dedicating to his reelection bid.

Sure thing, Steve. We all totally believe you.

 

Click below to keep learning things…

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Of Whores and Asswipes: The Colorado GOP Fractures Further

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

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

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

Anil Mathai, ranting outside the Boot Barn on Wednesday.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tina Peters is…inevitable.

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

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

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

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

     — Political Supervillain Tina Peters

 

As Luning reports:

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

“Peace Out!”

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

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

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

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

At Least He’s Not Your Loser Senate Candidate

Mehmet Oz, Joe O’Dea.

As the Philly Voice’s Michael Tanenbaum reports, defeated Pennsylvania GOP U.S. Senate candidate Mehmet Oz is finding his once-bankable star power has faded after Oz’s nasty and unsuccessful bid to hold Pat Toomey’s seat:

“I can’t imagine ‘The Dr. Oz Show’ being rebooted at this point,” Robert Thompson, professor of television and popular culture at Syracuse University, told The Wrap on Monday.

The tabloid RadarOnline quoted an unnamed insider who said Oz is now being confronted with the stark reality of having entered politics, which inherently makes him more of a divisive figure than he was previously.

“He can’t even get a word with his former producers,” the unnamed source said. “Dr. Oz is a social creature who likes to hear himself talk, and it’s beginning to dawn on him that he’s just not wanted in Hollywood circles anymore.”

Another unnamed source described Oz as desperate to get his show back…

In Dr. Oz’s case, the problem may not solely be political baggage. We’re not sure if Oz was ever what you’d call a credible source of medical knowledge, but in the last few years his show witnessed a descent into wholesale quackery that punched large holes in Oz’s credibility even before he became Donald Trump’s anointed candidate to run for the Senate in Pennsylvania. It’s a much greater problem than for example Colorado’s U.S. Senate loser Joe O’Dea faces, since Democrats will still need O’Dea to pour concrete on the public projects that always made up the bulk of O’Dea’s business.

But in the same way we can’t imagine Heidi Ganahl’s motivational slogan business having the same appeal after Ganahl’s disastrous campaign spent courting Colorado’s hateful political fringe, it will be even harder for at least half the country to believe anything Dr. Oz says now. It’s probably time for Oz to hang up broadcast TV and join the conservative speaking tour circuit, which won’t be as lucrative as Oz’s Oprah-blessed former career.

It’s reasonable to speculate that O’Dea regrets running. Before the end, Dr. Oz may regret it much more.

Winners and Losers of the 2022 Election (Part 2)

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

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

 

The 2022 “Extinction Level Event” for Republicans

 

The Losingest Losers of 2022

 

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Winners and Losers from the 2022 Election (Part 1)

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

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

 

The Winningest Winners of 2022

 

Reality

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

 

Felix Lopez

Er, maybe not.

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

 

Lisa Cutter and Tammy Story

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

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

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

 

Steve Fenberg

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

 

Jared Polis 

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

 

Michael Bennet

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

 

Most Colorado Media Outlets

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

Kyle Clark of 9News

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Residents of CO-03

Enough of this, thanks.

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

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

 

Non-Republican Polling Outfits 

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

 

Colorado’s Election System

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

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

 

 

Mike Lynch 

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

 

Women in the General Assembly

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

 

Yadira Caraveo

Caraveo’s victory in the newly-formed CO-08 was considered by some national prognosticators – including Nathaniel Rakich of 538.com – to be a YUGE surprise. Given how blue Colorado has become, we’re not sure Caraveo qualifies as a “biggest upset,” but defeating Republican Barbara Kirkmeyer in a close race is still an impressive victory.

 

Brittany Pettersen

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

 

Heidi Ganahl: The New Best Loser in Colorado History

We’re #1! We’re #1!

Now that the 2022 election is behind us (most of us, anyway), there are a number of questions to be answered. Chief among them: Just how historically bad was Hiedi Heidi Ganahl’s campaign for Governor?

Bad. Really, really bad. Like, all-time bad.

In fact, we’d say that Ganahl has dethroned Bob Beauprez as the single worst statewide candidate and campaign in modern Colorado history. If you disagree, consider that the margin between Ganahl and Democrat Jared Polis is now 20 points wide.  That’s right — updated election results show that Polis beat Ganahl by better than 20 points.

If you still disagree, keep reading. To put our theory to the test, we brought in some help from the Ghost of Bill Owens

Owens was the last Republican to be elected Governor in Colorado, winning a second term in 2002. Owens isn’t dead (as far as we know), but his party is virtually deceased, so the metaphor works well enough.

Published below is our conversation, conducted with the Ghost of Bill Owens in the Republican spirit land known as Rur-al-Colorado. 

 

COLORADO POLS: Hiedi Heidi Ganahl, the Republican candidate for Governor in Colorado in 2022, is the worst major statewide candidate AND campaign in Colorado history. Change our mind.

 

Woody is in there!

GHOST OF BILL OWENS: Boo! Oh, nevermind. I’m not sure that I could make an intelligent counter-argument for you. But first, a question: What do you mean “candidate AND campaign?”

 

POLS: Well, you can have a bad candidate with a good campaign, or vice-versa. They don’t necessarily have to go hand-in-hand. 

For example, Lauren Boebert was not a great candidate in 2020 when she defeated Scott Tipton for the Republican nomination in CO-03. Boebert was almost completely unknown, but she managed to put together a campaign to beat a long-term incumbent in Tipton, who basically fell asleep that Spring and didn’t wake up again until the day after the election.

Oddly enough, Boebert might lose her seat in Congress after pulling a “Tipton” herself once cycle later. She didn’t spend a lot of time campaigning in her district; in the last few weeks of the 2022 election, Boebert was in Tennessee to deliver a Christian Nationalism speech and then went to Mar-a-Lago in Florida for…for whatever it is that people do there. 

Anyway, back to Ganahl. Let’s look at some comparisons:

 

See what we mean? Ganahl wasn’t even able to get to 40% of the vote in Colorado, which is downright remarkable. Every other statewide Republican candidate received somewhere between 41% and 43% of the total vote in their respective races). Even David Torres, the Democratic candidate for Congress in beet-red Colorado Springs, managed to get 40% of the vote running against incumbent Republican Doug Lamborn (56%). Hundreds of thousands of Colorado voters who were willing to say “Yes” to the rest of the GOP ticket just could not force themselves to vote for Ganahl. 

Ganahl remained below even her own floor: A recent exit poll memo in Colorado conducted by Global Strategy Group found that only 42% of voters even considered voting for Heidi Ganahl

Here are a few more numbers to consider:

♦ Global Strategy Group found that Ganahl lost Unaffiliated voters in Colorado by 33 points. Yes, that’s two threes.

♦ There were six statewide races in Colorado in 2022 (U.S. Senate, Governor, Attorney General, State Treasurer, Secretary of State, and the State Board of Education at-large position). Out of 12 major party candidates on the ballot in these races, Ganahl is THE ONLY ONE who is not going to reach at least 1 million total votes.

 

By the way, Polis is the first major statewide candidate in Colorado in 20 years to win a General Election by at least 20 points. The first since…

 

GOBO: Me.

POLS: Right. You, or whatever. In 2002, Bill Owens defeated Democrat Rollie Heath by nearly 33 points to win re-election as Governor. In fairness to Heath, he joined the race fully understanding that it was virtually unwinnable that year and was the sacrificial lamb for Democrats so that Owens wouldn’t run unopposed. 

This is an incredibly rare occurrence. We’ve only seen a 20+ point statewide race 4 times since 1990 (Ben “Nighthorse” Campbell in 1998 and Roy Romer in 1990). 

 

GOBO: Good times. But what about Dan Maes?

POLS: Ah, yes. Dan Maes. This is always the first name that comes up on this topic. Maes was another completely-unknown Republican who won the GOP nomination for Governor in 2010 with Scott McInnis weighed down by a plagiarism scandal. Republicans were so convinced that Maes would be a disaster in a General Election against popular Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper that they recruited Tom Tancredo to run as the American Constitution Party candidate for Governor. Maes ended up with only 11% of the vote; had he dropped under 10%, Republicans would have lost their official “major party status” for 2012.

Maes was not a good candidate, but he was more of a dunce who was in the right place at the right time when McInnis cratered in the Republican Primary. Since nobody else had been challenging McInnis for the GOP nomination, Maes was the beneficiary of being the only “Not Scott” candidate. Maes performed poorly in the 2010 General Election in large part because Republican bigwigs sandbagged him and refused to help. Maes didn’t really know what he was doing as a statewide candidate, and Republicans weren’t interested in helping him. Maes should not have won the GOP nomination in the first place, but that was the Party’s fault, not his, for an inability to organize another option to McInnis.

Here’s what makes Ganahl different: She HAD all of the advantages that were denied to Maes but could not or would not capitalize on them. Starting off her campaign as an election denier really crippled any momentum in the early stages. Still, Ganahl managed to win a Republican Primary and then inexplicably just kept moving to the right

 

GOBO: Wait, that means Ganahl is worse than Bob Beauprez in 2006?

POLS: Beauprez’s 2006 campaign for governor was absolutely the Best Loser in Colorado until he was out-losered by Ganahl. Beauprez was a schmuck of a candidate who said really stupid things (such as his absurd claim that 70% of African-American pregnancies end in abortion) and made equally-terrible decisions (choosing Janet Rowland as his running mate after she suggested that homosexuality was a gateway to bestiality). He also lost by a sizable margin to Bill Ritter, the former Denver DA who was nobody’s first, second, third, or even fourth choice on the Democratic side (at the time, there were a lot of bigger-named Democrats who decided against running, among them Hickenlooper, House Speaker Andrew Romanoff and Senate President Joan Fitz-Gerald).

But Beauprez did have a second act, sort of. In 2014, he won the Republican nomination for Governor and gave then-incumbent Governor John Hickenlooper a scare before ultimately losing by 3 points.

Still, we’ll always have this:

Bob Beauprez saw the future way back in 2006.

 

POLS: Here’s another question: Could you see Ganahl making a comeback in a few years after all her nonsense about furries in schools; election conspiracies; and failing to raise enough money to even have a legitimate television advertising budget?

GOBO: [Thinking] I guess you’ve got me there. Ganahl couldn’t get elected as a local PTA President after everything she said in the last few months.

 

POLS: Exactly. She’s radioactive. 

Look at how many Republican candidates were severely hurt by Ganahl’s awful campaign. Ganahl was probably never going to beat Polis, but if she could have made it a race, it would likely have made a big difference in turnout for down-ticket races. How many extra votes might Boebert (CO-03) or Barbara Kirkmeyer (CO-08) have picked up if there had been even a modest enthusiasm among Republicans for the top of the ticket?

 

GOBO: What about Joe O’Dea’s Senate campaign? Wasn’t he a drag on other Republicans?

POLS: Sure, but not like Ganahl. O’Dea’s campaign is definitely in the top 20 of worst major campaigns of all time, but he was more of a drag by virtue of being uninteresting. Ganahl was an unshakable anchor on the entire Republican Party.

GOBO: Ganahl was not a great candidate, but she was the best the GOP had this year…

 

POLS: Was she? Surely Greg Lopez, who lost to Ganahl in the GOP Primary, could have at least made it to 40% of the vote in Colorado. You might have done better if you painted a smiley face on a rock and made it the Republican nominee; at least the rock wouldn’t have been talking about furries.

GOBO: Fine, I concede that Ganahl is the worst candidate and campaign in state history. Lesson learned, amirite?

 

POLS: There are indeed a lot of lessons for Republicans. The real question is whether the Colorado GOP is at all interested in learning any of those answers. 

In multiple post-mortem news stories after the election, Republicans claimed that they had a great slate of candidates (they did not) and some great issues to run on (they did, but they screwed that up). They complained about too many liberal voters moving to Colorado, but they never adjusted their message to have a conversation with those voters. 

As for Ganahl, she spent 99% of her time complaining about Polis and talking about every negative statistic related to Colorado that she could dig up. Listening to her was exhausting. Her policy ideas were so shallow and ridiculous that she even managed to exasperate longtime Republican and Denver Post publisher Dean Singleton.

Were Republicans surprised by how ridiculous Ganahl became from the moment she announced her campaign? Were they unprepared by how quickly things went from bad to worse? If they were surprised…why, and how come nobody came to the rescue? Surely somebody had talked with Ganahl before she launched her campaign, right? Were they so blinded by their dislike of Polis that they didn’t see their own disaster of a candidate?

 

GOBO: Are all those questions for me?

A fitting metaphor if ever there was one.

POLS: No, they’re mostly rhetorical…though still probably worth answering if you are a Republican. 

GOBO: Okay, riddle me one last thing: Was the candidate or the campaign worse?

POLS: Ooh, that’s tough. Also, how is it that we are now answering your questions?

It’s difficult to separate the candidate from the campaign here, given that Ganahl had 47 different campaign managers [that’s an exaggeration, but it was a lot] and seemed to direct most of the strategery by herself, with the occasional input from nitwits like Lindsey Datko of Jeffco Kids First.   

It’s interesting, and sad, to think that 18 months ago, Ganahl was a fairly well-respected CU Regent who was the sole remaining Republican to have been elected statewide in Colorado. Today, she is “that furry lady.” And that’s only to the extent that anyone would even recognize her due to her lack of advertising during the campaign. 

GOBO: Maybe that’s the silver lining here.

POLS: What’s that?

GOBO: It’s probably good that most Coloradans don’t know what Ganahl looks like – that means fewer people who will recognize her in public.

POLS: Fair point. Now, can someone please tell her to take a break? As the old saying goes, we can’t miss you if you won’t go away.

 

Heidi Ganahl: Still A Public Health Hazard

Vanquished 2022 gubernatorial candidate Hiedi Heidi Ganahl, as we’ve discussed in this space a number of times, was and remains a dyed-in-the-wool ideological “movement conservative” who, when given the chance to reinvent herself into a more electable image after winning the June 28th primary, instead doubled down on her conservatism and campaigned against vaccine requirements, embraced election conspiracy theorists, and promoted fringe rumor-mill moral panics like the “furries” supposedly taking over the hallways of Colorado public schools. Ganahl also vowed to undertake just plain kooky actions like repealing every single one of Gov. Jared Polis’ executive orders, which includes disaster declarations and the state’s condemnation of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

After Ganahl’s approximately 20-point trouncing one week ago today cemented her status in history as a hopelessly overmatched placeholder candidate, one might have thought that Ganahl would take a break from the crazy rhetoric of the campaign trail, if for no other reason than the race is over. But again, Ganahl being the committed ideologue that both powered and doomed her campaign she is, can’t help but continue hucking spitwads from the sidelines:

If you read the executive order issued by Gov. Jared Polis last Friday, you’ll quickly discover there’s nothing “fascist” about it. Polis is responding to this year’s very large outbreak of Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV), as well as what’s forecast to be a nastier-than-average flu season due to these illnesses’ resurgence after the lifting of COVID restrictions. There are no public health restrictions, mask orders, lockdowns, or any other such measures in this order–it’s about allowing hospitals filling up with sick kids to function under staffing shortages and ensuring emergency room patients aren’t ripped off by surprise billing.

This is what you learn when you take five minutes to understand what’s actually happening before lighting your hair on fire and crying “fascism” on social media. We expect that elementary critical analysis from every responsible citizen, to say nothing about someone aspiring to be governor. Ganahl’s friend Dennis Prager, who caused a one-man public health scare when he deliberately tried and apparently succeeded in catching COVID-19 at a Ganahl campaign event, might approve. For the rest of us, this unhinged reaction to a necessary public health measure is precisely why Ganahl deserved to lose by 20 points.

It won’t be the last time Heidi Ganahl shows how Colorado dodged a metaphorical bullet.

But here’s one for the record.

At Least She’s Not Your Losing Candidate For Governor

At the desperate end of Colorado GOP gubernatorial candidate Hiedi Heidi Ganahl’s campaign, she returned once again to election conspiracy theorist and 2020 coup plotter Steve Bannon for a last-minute infusion of goodwill ahead of losing the race by somewhere close to 20 points one week ago. Bannon claimed based on what we now know were fictional polls that Ganahl was “surging” in her race against incumbent Democratic Gov. Jared Polis, and that the U.S. Senate race in Colorado was similarly “neck and neck.”

As readers know, it didn’t quite work out that way for Ganahl, who conceded within two hours of the polls closing and left (one would think) Bannon looking like a latter-day Dick Morris. But in the governor’s race in our caddy-corner neighbor Arizona, called last night for Democrat Katie Hobbs over Ultra-MAGA Republican Kari Lake, Bannon is as of this morning certain that the fix is in:

Nonetheless, as the Washington Post reports:

Kari Lake, projected Monday night to have been defeated in the Arizona governor’s race, was being advised by GOP operatives and some of her closest aides to take a measured approach and not “storm the castle,” as one person present for the discussions described the sentiments. [Pols emphasis]

The Republican nominee, who rose to national prominence as a chief exponent of former president Donald Trump’s false claims of 2020 election fraud, fell to Democrat Katie Hobbs, who oversaw that election and defended the process from baseless claims of wrongdoing.

Voters rejected election-denying candidates in key battleground states nationwide this year, and many of those candidates have responded by doing what Trump wouldn’t: concede defeat.

There’s no sign of a concession from Kari Lake so far, rather the opposite in fact:

On the campaign trail one year ago, Ganahl appeased election conspiracy theorists by telling them in what she believed was a private setting that Donald Trump “won by such a big margin” that there was no way Democrats “could fix it,” and therefore the solution was “to do that again in Colorado. We’ve got to have such a red tsunami, that there’s no question, there’s no fixing it.”

Ganahl didn’t realize it, but she was describing her own defeat with the parties flipped.

And with the cautionary tale of Kari Lake in Arizona playing out before our eyes, Ganahl was more right than she can ever admit again–probably even to herself.

Devastated Republicans Grope For Answers They Can’t Handle

Defeated GOP Rep. Colin Larson.

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

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

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

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

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

Dick Wadhams.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Get More Smarter Podcast Breaks Down the Bluenami

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

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

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

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

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

Elephant fight!

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

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

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

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

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

El Paso County Republican Chairwoman Vicki Tonkins.

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

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

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

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

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

Dave Williams

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

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

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

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

Gah!

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

Absolute lunacy.

Master GOP strategist Colin Larson

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tina Peters Backs Ganahl, Scolds Neuschwanger

Heidi Ganahl and Tina Peters

We haven’t seen or heard much from Mesa County Clerk and Recorder Tina Peters lately, which is a bit of a surprise given that she has plenty of time on her hands. Peters is not allowed to be anywhere near election equipment on account of breaking into her own election system in 2021, a crime for which she is facing multiple investigations and which may result in Peters spending a significant chunk of time in prison in the very near future.

But today, Peters popped up in an online video that is both entertaining and completely insane but that also provides a look into the finger-pointing taking place among Colorado Republicans ahead of what will likely be a tough night on Tuesday.

Peters says that she has made a decision on which candidate to endorse in the race for Governor in Colorado. Her pick — SURPRISE! — is Republican candidate Hiedi Heidi Ganahl.

Why is Peters making this endorsement NOW? No idea. Why would anyone have been in suspense about which candidate Peters WOULD endorse? Can’t tell you.

Here’s how Peters explains the process she went through for endorsing a candidate for Governor in Colorado:

What brought me to this decision is that [California Governor] Gavin Newsom just passed a law that will kill babies 28 days after they are born.

Say what?

In late September, Newsom did sign 13 bills in California related to preserving a woman’s reproductive rights. As far as we can tell, Newsom did not somehow make it legal to murder a four-week-old baby.

Jay Sekulow says that Colorado is next.

Colorado is going to legalize murder? That seems unlikely. But if hack attorney/podcaster Jay Sekulow Tweets about it, then it must be true!

We must do everything that we can to make sure that Jared Polis is not our next Governor. The only person leading in the polls that can do this is Heidi Ganahl.

So, because California is apparently allowing babies to be aborted after they are born, Peters has decided to endorse Ganahl for Governor…in Colorado. At least her logic is consistently baffling. Also, there is no public poll showing that Ganahl is even CLOSE to Polis, but whatever.

Tina Peters talking on the phone with Danielle Neuschwanger

At about the 1:07 mark in the video above, Peters then says that she is very disturbed by a conversation she had with American Constitution Party (ACP) candidate Danielle Neuschwanger. Since nothing Peters said earlier makes any logical sense, you won’t be surprised to learn that this section is equally confusing.

The video shifts to Peters yelling at Neuschwanger in front of a truck somewhere. Her beef is that Neuschwanger’s presence on the ballot will throw the gubernatorial election to incumbent Democrat Jared Polis. It’s hard to make out all of what Neuschwanger says, but the details aren’t that important; they key thing to know is that this is a preview of one of the idiotic arguments that Republicans will try to make after Ganahl gets pummeled at the polls: It’s all Danielle Neuschwanger’s fault!

It’s also not clear what Peters thinks Neuschwanger could do at this point even if she was in complete agreement about her “campaign” hurting Ganahl. Neuschwanger’s name is on the ballot. That ship sailed a LONG time ago. As a Clerk and Recorder herself, you would think this would be one thing that Peters would understand.

Regardless, there is approximately NO FREAKING CHANCE that Neuschwanger will earn enough votes to make any sort of difference on the outcome of the race for Governor.

In the 2020 Senate election in Colorado, the Libertarian candidate received 1.74% of the total vote. The “Approval Voting” Party candidate earned 0.3% of the vote, while the “Unity Party” candidate finished with 0.28%.

In the 2018 Governor’s race in Colorado, the Libertarian candidate received 2.75% of the vote and the “Unity Party” hopeful finished with 1.02%.

It’s certainly possible that Neuschwanger does better than recent third-party candidates, but it’s not going to make a difference as to who gets elected Governor. Recent polls show Polis leading Ganahl by 15-18 points. If Neuschwanger does better than previous third-party candidates, it could maybe change the Polis win margin from, say, +14 to +15.

As we noted last week, the finger-pointing is already well underway for Republicans. It’s all over but the shouting…and there will be a lot of shouting.

See The Refs Get Worked In Real Time

On Friday, we reported briefly on a story from KDVR FOX 31 in which a leading local Republican talking head appeared to agree with his Democratic counterpart on the following conclusion about the Colorado gubernatorial race:

It’s not just the consensus between FOX 31’s political analysts Michael Fields (R) and Andy Boian (D), of course–every legitimate poll of the governor’s race over the last few months has tracked Heidi Ganahl’s slide into the double-digit abyss, a consistent range between 15-20% down. But like we said Friday, it may be a little soon to let Ganahl’s most diehard defenders in on this consensus.

And it looks like we were right:

Because after somebody complained, the title of this story was changed to no longer unequivocally state that the governor’s race is over. The new title is not inaccurate, it’s just not as, you know, conclusive.

Unfortunately for Team Heidi, although they were apparently successful in “working the refs” to get this undesirable headline changed, nobody thought to change the URL of the story, which still reads:

https://kdvr.com/copov/analysts-governors-race-is-over/

In a matter of hours, it will be. Until then, obtain solace however you can.

What Will be the Outcome in the Race for Governor?

Gov. Jared Polis

We’re not going to bother asking readers if incumbent Democrat Jared Polis or Republican challenger Hiedi Heidi Ganahl are going to win the race for Governor on Tuesday because there is absolutely no evidence to suggest that this contest will even be close once the final ballots are counted.

Instead, we’re presenting a range of options for the final outcome of this race. Will Polis defeat Ganahl by better than the 11-point margin he held over Republican Walker Stapleton in 2018? The numbers below represent a potential margin of victory.

 

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

 

What Will be the Outcome of the Race for Governor?

View Results

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GOP Mouthpiece Concedes: “Governor’s Race Is Over”

With only three days and change remaining in the dreadfully overheated 2022 election season in Colorado, we’ve arrived at what’s known in some regions of the country as “nut-cutting time”–that magic moment when political analysts drop their partisan game faces and start to show some honesty about the expected outcome.

FOX 31 Republican talking head and ubiquitous right-wing political operative Michael Fields, one of the most aggressive local GOP boosters, rejoined the reality-based community while recording that station’s weekly political show Colorado Point of View:

“Heidi Ganahl struggled to raise money enough money to get the message out there and get her name ID up,” FOX31/Channel 2 political analyst and Republican strategist Michael Fields said. “But I also think it’s why you’ve seen Republicans invest so heavily in the state Senate and say, you know, if there’s a Governor Polis, if there is a state house that goes Democratic, how do you stop some of this legislation they don’t like?”

“It’s the first time I’ve heard Michael talk about (this race) in the past tense,” FOX31/Channel 2 political analyst and Democratic strategist Andy Boian said. “The race is over. Heidi Ganahl, very favorable as a (University of Colorado) regent and popular among the regents, and a good person, will lose this race on Tuesday.”

There’s not a poll in existence that predicts any other outcome, of course. Much like it’s easy to predict that the Denver Broncos down by 15 at the two-minute warning will lose the game, it shouldn’t be particularly controversial for Fields to admit that Heidi Ganahl is going to lose the governor’s race. By explaining the Republican strategy of focusing on state Senate races instead of Ganahl’s snakebit campaign, Fields is admitting that Republicans have been planning around Ganahl’s weakness this whole time.

Something tells us Ganahl’s dwindling pool of faithful defenders aren’t going to like that.

For the rest of us, the post-mortem analysis of this trainwreck campaign is already starting.

Get More Smarter Before Election Day!

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

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

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

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

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

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The Sad Final Days of the Top of the GOP Ticket

Ganahl and O’Dea are less of a “Dream Team” and more of a “Creamed Team”

You can count the number of days until the end of the 2022 election cycle on one hand. As Election Day looms, Republican Senate candidate Joe O’Dea and GOP gubernatorial no-hopeful Hiedi Heidi Ganahl are caught in a weird illogical loop of desperation and internal lies.

Before we update you on the strange last days of each campaign, it’s important to keep this in mind: The last two public polls in each race have shown both O’Dea and Ganahl losing by YUGE margins. On Wednesday, the University of Colorado’s American Politics Research Lab released polling data showing Democrat Michael Bennet leading O’Dea by 12 points and Democrat Jared Polis running ahead of Ganahl by 16. These numbers come on the heels of a poll from Global Strategy Group indicating an 11-point advantage for Bennet and an 18-point lead for Polis.

You could argue about methodologies and polling mechanics until you are purple in the face — and it’s more likely than not that both of these races end up being somewhat tighter after the actual votes are counted — but it’s pretty unlikely that these two recent polls are completely wrong. The question for O’Dea and Ganahl, then, is not if they can win on Tuesday, but if they can avoid being completely annihilated.

With that in mind, here’s what O’Dea and Ganahl have been doing in the last few days aside from avoiding populated areas of Colorado

 

Lighting Money on Fire

O’Dea put another $1 million of his own money into his campaign on Monday, upping his total personal commitment to more than $4.2 million. Ganahl wrote her campaign another big check last month and has now committed about $2 million of her own money ($1.4 million in loans and $600,000 in contributions).

O’Dea’s $1 million contribution on Monday is an egregious example of a candidate getting positively robbed by his own consultants. By every public metric, the Colorado Senate race is not close enough that a $1 million contribution in the last week will make much of a difference. O’Dea’s previous personal contributions are certainly excusable but are a sunk cost at this point; writing your campaign another $1 million check in the final week is the very definition of good money chasing bad. Any respectable campaign consultant should have told O’Dea that this late contribution was too little, too late.

 

Running to the Right

Ganahl didn’t really try to moderate her positions after the Primary Election. O’Dea did make that attempt — poorly — but in recent weeks he’s become much more of a right-wing nutter. For example, O’Dea followed up his nightmare interview with Jake Tapper of CNN on Tuesday by talking gibberish on MSNBC, calling Democrat Hillary Clinton the original “election denier.”

 

There are a lot of Colorado Republicans who wouldn’t blink at making this claim, but O’Dea was supposedly different. O’Dea claimed to be a less-insane Republican who was “not a politician,” but you know who else says insane shit like this? Right-wing Republican politicians.

Ganahl, meanwhile, sent out this message in an email late Wednesday:

 

 

NewsMax?

Really?

We feel more than comfortable saying that the ONLY people who would be excited to know that Ganahl was talking to freaking NewsMax are right-wing Republicans who were already committed to supporting her campaign. There’s a better than even chance that Ganahl is interviewed by Alex Jones before Tuesday.

It’s bad enough that Ganahl took the time to talk to NewsMax, but it’s insane that she sent out an email crowing about her appearance. Is it possible that Ganahl thinks she is running to be Governor of Alabama?

Whoever thought this was a good idea apparently also convinced O’Dea. The Republican Senate candidate made his own inexplicable appearance on NewsMax today. Again, if these candidates are worried about their base heading into the final days of the election, then they’re royally screwed.

 

Time Travel

Supporters of both Ganahl and O’Dea have been spending a lot of time this week trying really hard to downplay the anti-choice positions of their candidates…and then getting punched in the teeth immediately afterward:

 

 

O’Dea supporters have been attempting the same switcheroo, with the same basic results.

 

 

If you’re wondering why Ganahl and O’Dea are trying to reassure their base at the same time that supporters are working to make them look less-extreme…well, so are we.

 

 

Facing Reality

They’re not laughing WITH you.

 

 

National media outlets are also finally starting to realize that the “O’Dea Surprise” is more like a weird casserole than a tasty treat. As Jim Newell reports for Slate:

“So are you doing the ‘this race is going to be closer than you think’ story too?” A Colorado politics reporter asked me my first night in Denver.

I was not the first national reporter to do a “fly-in” from D.C. to see Mitch McConnell’s “perfect candidate.” We were becoming tiresome. Perhaps all the more so because Bennet had been maintaining a roughly 10-point advantage on O’Dea in polling averages. Sometimes they’re “sleeper races” for a reason. (“I’m doing something post-that,” I said, stupidly.).

As we’ve written before in this space, all of the other national stories about Colorado’s Senate race had followed the same pattern of asking if Bennet could be in trouble and then coming to the conclusion that Bennet is not in trouble. Newell, at least, skips to the end:

Being the “perfect candidate” in a long-shot state sounds exhausting. Had Colorado Republicans nominated the nearest available warm body, they would not have had any expectations of possibly winning, and the warm body would have coasted freely to an unremarked-upon 15-point loss. O’Dea, though, built up hopes among Republicans and fears among Democrats. Barring some wild change in polling, he could be walking on eggshells to a much remarked-upon 5- to 10-point loss. (For all of McConnell’s talk about how he would be “all-in” on the state, his aligned super PAC, the Senate Leadership Fund, only kicked in a perfunctory $1.25 million in mid-October.)

As for Ganahl, she’s finding out that her “Mad Mom on a Meme Mission” nonsense is not resonating with, well, actual moms.

 

Via The American Politics Research Lab at the University of Colorado.

 

Oof.

The Ganahl and O’Dea campaigns have been two of the strangest statewide efforts that we have seen in Colorado in a long time. Perhaps we should give them some credit for keeping it weird until the bitter end…

But really, we’re just ready for them both to go away.

CU Poll: Dems Owning 2022, GOP MIGHT Accept Results

Michael Bennet, Joe O’Dea.

Adding to a growing consensus of polling in recent weeks, the University of Colorado’s American Politics Research Lab released their latest Colorado Political Climate Survey, with numbers in line with other recent polls showing Gov. Jared Polis rapidly pulling away in the Colorado governor’s race, incumbent Sen. Michael Bennet prevailing over Republican challenger Joe O’Dea by a healthy twelve points, and Secretary of State Jena Griswold, considered the most vulnerable of the three downballot statewide offices, solidly beating Republican Pam Anderson by a ten-point margin.

Less encouraging for what comes after November 8th, the survey found once again a disturbingly wide partisan gap in trust in the integrity of Colorado’s elections, which until Donald Trump began his campaign to overturn the results of an election he lost enjoyed overwhelming bipartisan confidence:

We asked Coloradans about whether they felt elections both 1) across the country and 2) in Colorado would be conducted fairly and accurately. Overall, 54% of Coloradans agreed they would be conducted fairly nationally (with 20% saying they weren’t sure), while 71% agreed they would be fairly in Colorado. In a pattern often repeated, we see substantial differences by partisanship – 73% of Democrats agreed elections would be fair and accurate when asked about the country as a whole, while only 41% of Republicans said the same. When asked about Colorado’s elections, 92% of Democrats expressed agreement with a statement, but only 57% of Republicans agreed (Independents posted 53% agreement). Most Coloradans agreed (75%) that in Colorado all citizens who want to vote in the elections will be able to do so.

We also asked about the legitimacy of the 2020 presidential election, and the need for electoral reforms in the wake of the 2020 elections (both “across the states” and in Colorado in particular). 63% of Coloradans agree that Biden legitimately won enough votes to be elected President (though this number is polarized by partisanship, with 95% of Democrats agreeing, and only 34% of Republicans agreeing).

What happens when Republicans don’t accept election results.

The whole report is worth reading, which you can find here along with links to past year’s surveys.

Although concerning, these numbers do indicate some recovery in popular confidence in American elections from the prior year’s survey, when only 32% of Republicans believed the upcoming election would be fair and accurate compared to 42% today. The persistently more favorable opinion Colorado Republicans have of Colorado’s election system, even though it features most of the accessibility attributes that Trump attacked in 2020 as avenues for election fraud, is another hopeful sign that local Republican officials will accept the result in the event of the defeat this and every other poll now clearly forecasts.

That’s still way too many Republicans who won’t, and we’ll have to wait and see how they respond.

Ganahl Just Makes Stuff Up About Fentanyl On FOX News

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Mad Mom” — From Imaginary Insult To Rallying Cry

It was a Lifetime Movie too.

As some of the more online among our readers may be aware and we’ll forgive them if not, an exchange between Gov. Jared Polis and Republican challenger Hiedi Heidi Ganahl at their debate last week in Grand Junction has enjoyed a curious afterlife, becoming by far the most-discussed moment of the series of debates between Colorado’s gubernatorial candidates. As Colorado Public Radio reported from the scene:

“I am mad,” said Ganahl. “I am a mad mom. We have skyrocketing crime, out of control inflation, a huge fentanyl problem that’s killing our kids, and our kids can’t read, write or do math at grade level. I have a right to be angry and I represent a lot of parents.”

Polis responded, “my opponent identified herself as a mad mom. I identify myself as a happy dad of two great kids, 11 and eight, raising my kids in the best state of all the states, great outdoors. We love our freedom. I will always protect our freedom.”

After some contemplation, Ganahl apparently realized that “mad mom” is not a positive branding experience, at least not to a majority of Colorado voters:

But by this morning’s in-kind contribution guest column at Fox News, Ganahl was over her offense:

Our current governor mocked me in a debate last week for being a “mad mom.” Yes, I am indeed a mad mom. I wear that badge proudly. [Pols emphasis]

No really, she’s over it, to the extent that “Mad Mom” is now the Ganahl campaign’s rallying cry:

And that, gentle readers, marks the most whiplash-inducing turnabout from “how dare you” to “you’re damn right” since Jack Nicholson in A Few Good Men! When you’re down by an average of fifteen points in the polls one week from Election Day, you’re obliged to grasp at whatever straws are available. The main problem here is that few voters know anything about the origin story of the “Mad Mom” tagline from last week’s debate, even Ganahl’s embellished version. They’re just going to see the words “Mad Mom,” without the vital context that makes it…

Slightly less offensive to moms everywhere, we guess? It’s too late to poll test.

CBS4’s Boyd Inexplicably Keeps Ganahl’s Furry Faceplant Alive

“Furries” in their native convention habitat.

Ever since Republican gubernatorial candidate Hiedi Heidi Ganahl introduced the issue of students “identifying as cats” as a campaign theme, later clarifying to Colorado Public Radio that a school play about “a raven that does a sex-change operation” was one of the events that motivated Ganahl to run for office, we’ve been watching for Ganahl’s campaign to come to their senses and realize that they were shredding the last of already severely strained credibility on a long-discredited urban myth that periodically resurfaces in conservative social media around the country whenever there’s not another more pressing false moral panic to address.

Polling earlier this month from Global Strategy Group revealed that the public finds Ganahl’s obsession with furries to be overwhelmingly ridiculous, with just 17% of those polled agreeing that furries are a “widespread movement.”

Ganahl taking up the anti-furry cause has correlated with continued declining poll numbers, with the latest 538 poll average showing Ganahl losing by 15.4%. It’s clear that Ganahl’s war on the furries has compounded Ganahl’s already unfolding political disaster, and the only reason it’s not a bigger story is that most responsible observers have written her campaign off.

In Colorado, the 2022 edition of the “furries invading the schools” myth was generated by a Jefferson County-based conservative parents group call Jeffco Kids First. We wrote earlier this month about this campaign asking parents to gather “evidence” of furries disrupting the academic environment, which produced another round of complete hearsay including the particularly egregious myth about “litterboxes in schools”–the truth behind that sidenote being the existence of buckets of little for use during mass shooting lockdowns. School administrators have responded that dress codes do not allow for kids to go to school in furry costumes and that there is no actual furry menace in Colorado schools–the exact same conclusion reached across the country every time the “furry panic” has swept through. In the weeks since, Ganahl has had plenty of chances to stop talking about furries, and she has declined them all.

Then this weekend, Ganahl called in what may be her last chit: CBS4 political “reporter” Shaun Boyd, for years the go-to reporter for Colorado Republicans looking for a friendly story without annoying follow-up questions. In a segment broadcast this weekend being shared by Ganahl’s campaign but does not so far as we can find appear on CBS4’s website, Boyd attempts to reanimate the “furry panic” and defend Ganahl despite the discredit being heaped on Ganahl by every responsible news outlet:

 

This isn’t the first time Shaun Boyd has embarrassed herself and her outlet by repeating Republican myths that turn out to be entirely baseless or contrived. A few months ago, Boyd tried to help Joe O’Dea’s campaign manufacture a story about a business partner’s address appearing on a mailer, only to broadcast the address repeatedly in the same segment. In September of 2020, Boyd’s bosses at CBS4 were forced to take down a story from Boyd falsely suggesting that dead voters were on the state’s voter rolls. This latest effort attempting to back Ganahl up on the “furry panic,” which contains absolutely no new information and relies on the same second-hand and anonymous “reports” gathered by Jeffco Kids First, is one of the few ways in which Boyd could outdo her previous disgraces.

And one more time we must ask: how does continuing to talk about “furries” help Heidi Ganahl?

That’s the part we can’t understand. Boyd thought she was doing Ganahl a favor.

State Sen. Kevin Priola Gets More Smarter

State Sen. Kevin Priola (D-Henderson).

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

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

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

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

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

Heidi Ganahl and Friends are Rickrolling Colorado Republicans

Never gonna give you up
Never gonna let you down
Never gonna run around and desert you
Never gonna make you cry
Never gonna say goodbye
Never gonna tell a lie and hurt you

We’ve known each other for so long
Your heart’s been aching, but you’re too shy to say it (say it)
Inside, we both know what’s been going on (going on)
We know the game and we’re gonna play it

Rick Astley, “Never Gonna Give You Up”

September 24, 2022

Those lyrics from the “iconic” 1987 ballad from Rick Astley were probably not intended as a love song to the Furry-Lago conspiracy movement that popped up in Colorado this fall, but you can’t argue that they don’t fit perfectly.

It has now been 34 days since Republican gubernatorial candidate Hiedi Heidi Ganahl first told Jimmy Sengenberger of KNUS radio that Colorado schools had been invaded by “furries” — children dressed up in animal costumes. While Ganahl herself has largely stopped her daily furry conspiracy routine, the story lives on in the right-wing media landscape.

Today, it is the national publication The Federalist that has decided it is “never gonna give [furries] up.” The rhetorical gymnastics required to make this sound like a serious story are almost impressive. As the suspiciously-named Tristan Justice reports:

A Colorado school district in the wealthy western suburbs of Denver gave a blanket statement to the local press dismissing parental concerns about an issue that’s galvanized the state’s contest for governor. [Pols emphasis]

In September, Heidi Ganahl, the Republican candidate for governor, gave an interview to a local radio host in which she described a new phenomenon hitting Colorado classrooms.

“Not many people know that we have ‘furries’ in Colorado schools,” Ganahl told 710KNUS. “Have you heard about this? Yeah, kids identifying as cats. It sounds absolutely ridiculous, but it’s happening all over Colorado and the schools are tolerating it.”

Without any evidence, either from school officials or interviews with parents, the left-wing Colorado Times Recorder wrote off the comments as a conspiracy. [Pols emphasis]

Via The Federalist (10/28/22)

We have to stop here before we delve any further into this story. First off, the idea that Furry-Lago has “galvanized” Ganahl’s campaign only makes sense if you have a completely different understanding of the word “galvanized” than everyone else who regularly uses the English language. The “furries” conspiracy has decimated Ganahl’s credibility not just as a candidate, but as a sane human being in general. That fact that Ganahl herself no longer mentions this subject unprompted is an undeniable argument otherwise.

The last paragraph above is particularly absurd, but it also inadvertently speaks to the very problem here. Tristan Justice (seriously, is that really his name?) argues that the Colorado Times Recorder labeled this a silly conspiracy theory “without evidence.” The burden of proof here is on the people who are promoting the idea in the first place — it is not the responsibility of EVERYONE ELSE to come up with evidence that your insane idea is wrong.

For example, if someone says, “I invented a perpetual motion machine,” then it is the responsibility of THAT PERSON to provide proof of their invention. If that person’s response was, “You can’t prove that I didn’t invent a perpetual motion machine,” then they would rightly be disregarded as a lunatic. Demanding that someone else prove a negative is the “Scientific Method” on meth.

The rest of the Federalist story is dedicated to arguing that a handful of parents who have complained about “furries” — without providing any evidence — are actually the people who are correct and that it is the 99% of the population who think they are crazy who are involved in a broader conspiracy to keep it all under wraps. Occam’s Razor was practically created to address this very scenario.

Lindsay Datko, right, with GOP consultant Matt Connelly

Essentially, the point of the Federalist story is to use the same CORA’d emails promoted by nutjobs like Lindsay Datko at Jeffco Kids First to argue that “furries” must exist in schools BECAUSE there are a handful of parents who have complained about it to school administrators. Seriously, THAT is the argument. In other words, if you can convince a dozen people to write an email to a school administrator that Elvis Presley and Tupac are substitute teachers, then it must be true. God help the children of these parents should their families ever decide to start a home schooling curriculum.

The Federalist story also brings up the mythical photographic evidence of furries that Ganahl once claimed that her campaign was collecting. In early October, Ganahl told George Brauchler of KNUS radio that her campaign “provided a list of 30 schools [in which] parents and students have told us this is happening. We’ve provided pictures, but we’ve blurred out the faces.” None of these photos have ever emerged, anywhere (and no reporter in Colorado has ever acknowledged receiving the images) but stories about their existence just won’t go away. From the Federalist:

On Wednesday, a group of parents who met at a local coffee shop presented pictures of students dressed up as animals in local schools to The Federalist. The images were shared on the condition they not be published to protect the privacy of minors. [Pols emphasis]

“The word ‘furries’ is what the kids call them, which is why parents call them that,” explained Lindsay Datko, a co-founder of Jeffco Kids First.

As you may recall, the only photographic “evidence” that has ever been provided as proof of this “furry” epidemic came after 9News questioned the Ganahl campaign in late September and received this photo in response:

This was the original “proof” of “furries” in Colorado schools that the Ganahl campaign provided to 9News.

 

This picture is indeed evidence of the existence of animal costumes. It is not, however, proof that children are wearing these costumes in schools.

Anyway, the fact that Furry-Lago continues to be discussed as a serious issue by national right-wing news outlets underscores just how toxic Ganahl has become for Colorado Republicans. Here’s what Kyle Clark of 9News told “Meet the Press” host Chuck Todd on Todd’s podcast earlier this week:

CHUCK TODD: If Joe O’Dea were the Republican nominee for Governor, would he be more competitive?

KYLE CLARK: To be honest with you Chuck, pretty much anybody would be more competitive. The governor’s race as it has been run by Heidi Ganahl has been baffling to observers. And if you talk to Republicans privately, they will express frustration bordering on anger, because they feel like this could have been an opportunity to make that race a lot more competitive…but if that race had been close, as opposed to the 15, 16, 18 point margin the polls are showing, that would have helped O’Dea. That would have helped Barb Kirkmeyer in CD-8.

But the Ganahl campaign has honestly been – they’ve chased one conspiracy theory after another, as opposed to focusing on crime, inflation, [and] the issues that could help. [Pols emphasis]

TODD: If Republicans lose close races all over the state, that’s where the finger pointing is going to be?

CLARK: Without question.

TODD: Interesting

Republican Joe O’Dea is not going to beat Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet, and he certainly would not have ousted incumbent Democratic Gov. Jared Polis, but Clark is correct in saying that Republicans have every right to be pointing fingers at Ganahl’s radioactive campaign for weakening Republican candidates down-ballot.

In 2018, Republican gubernatorial candidate Walker Stapleton was a bad candidate running a bad campaign who lost by 11 points to Polis…but he didn’t cripple the rest of the GOP ticket along the way. Stapleton didn’t hijack the Republican message in the final weeks of the election by distracting everyone with nonsense conspiracy theories.

Beginning on November 9th, Colorado Republicans should immediately disassociate themselves with anyone even remotely connected with Ganahl — starting with the people who continued to promote her candidacy long after she had become a national embarrassment.

What they’ll probably do instead is elect Ganahl to be the chairperson of the Colorado Republican Party for the 2024 election cycle.

“Never gonna give you up”…

“Heidi Gump.” Are We Done Yet?

As released yesterday by the conservative website Campfire Colorado, who we’re pretty sure thought they were helping GOP candidate for governor Heidi Ganahl:

 

So no, not helping, but definitely granting some comic relief to the end of one of the worst campaigns in Colorado political history! These mashups are very popular with the MAGA crowd, though it’s usually superheroes or other figures who make the subject of the parody (usually Donald Trump) look good. As heart-warming as the story of Forrest Gump may have been, we don’t know anybody who would want Forrest Gump to be governor.

For Heidi Ganahl, the end is near. But until then, there’s time enough for things to get even weirder.

Pam Anderson’s Selective Opposition to Election Deniers

Republican Secretary of State candidate Pam Anderson on Monday evening

Last night, Colorado candidates for Secretary of State took part in one of the few public debates in that contest. The forum televised by 9News featured a lot of detailed discussion about elections and voting that was about as interesting as it sounds, but there was one key exchange between incumbent Democrat Jena Griswold and Republican challenger Pam Anderson that is worth highlighting.

We’ve written several times in this space about Anderson’s selective opposition to election deniers (HERE, HERE, HERE, and HERE). Anderson, the former Clerk and Recorder in Jefferson County, launched her campaign for Secretary of State by claiming that Griswold was “too partisan” while standing herself up as a true Republican champion of fair elections. Anderson likes to say that it is “critically important” to inform the public “that elections are safe and secure” and that she will be a Secretary of State that “both sides can trust.” This all sounds great, except that Anderson’s deeds do not always match her rhetoric.

The sad truth is that Pam Anderson is totally against election deniers…except when she is not.

On Monday evening, Anderson was asked to explain how it is that she talks about opposing election deniers while also regularly campaigning with election deniers. Her response was pretty bad:

 

 

KYLE CLARK: Ms. Anderson, you in fact have campaign alongside election deniers, including the Republican candidate for Lieutenant Governor, Danny Moore. But you recently criticized a scheduled event featuring Moore and fellow election denier, FEC United’s Joe Oltmann. You called him ‘reprehensible.’ Can you explain to us why you are comfortable keeping company with SOME election deniers but not other election deniers? [Pols emphasis]

PAM ANDERSON: So, I am a registered Republican and a center point of my campaign is to go to voters where invited to push back on false, misleading information and conspiracy. It’s been a real honor to go and go talk about my campaign for 10 minutes and then answer questions for an hour and 45 minutes. Now, I haven’t seen my opponent doing that. Thirty-second spots saying, ‘Trust me, I’m your government’ isn’t going to get us through this.

I have pushed back against President Trump, former President Trump, candidate President Trump, and anyone who seeks to mislead it [sic]. My opponent won’t even stand up to her party when they spent millions of dollars propping up the candidates, saying exactly what she says she hates. So I’ve done it when it’s difficult. I will continue to do that against either party that misleads our voters.

Anderson’s initial response here is to provide a similar answer to what Republican gubernatorial candidate Hiedi Heidi Ganahl has said about 2020 election denialism. It’s the Why can’t we just have a conversation? argument. Or Danny Moore’s I’m just saying… explanation.

Pam Anderson (left) with Danny Moore (center) and Joe O’Dea (right)

 

To his credit, Clark was not satisfied with Anderson’s gibberish about her opposition to multiple iterations of Donald Trump, which will also come into play again in a moment.

CLARK: But I’m trying to understand the difference. Why will you literally stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the Republican Lieutenant Governor candidate, Danny Moore, who is an election denier…but then another election denier, Joe Oltmann, you said that the two of them campaigning together is reprehensible. Where’s the line? [Pols emphasis]

ANDERSON: Actually, when Danny Moore was appointed by the Governor candidate, Heidi Ganahl, I said that I was disappointed in that appointment because of his comments. What I will continue to do is not, um, wag my finger and lecture people about their questions, but talk to them. I don’t think that we…if we vilify people with good conscience, like voters, we should push back on candidates. I’ve reached out to all of them to provide information, opportunities to visit with county clerks, to learn more about elections. And I think that’s made a difference.

I will continue to run my own race, who I am, representing all voters, regardless — in a non-partisan way — not dividing people and vilifying them.

Election denier Heidi Ganahl (left) and Pam Anderson. Also, Lang Sias.

At this point, Griswold asks if she can add a comment.

JENA GRISWOLD: I just want to explain how dangerous this is to Colorado elections and why it’s so personal to me. You know, the “Big Lie” is why Tina Peters breached her election infrastructure. The “Big Lie” is why the Chafee County Clerk works behind bulletproof glass. The “Big Lie” is why a man was just sentenced to 18 months in prison for threatening my life. This has real effects. These lies are destabilizing our democracy. And Coloradans can always expect from me never to campaign with election deniers, to stand up…if there’s a Democratic election denier, I will stand up to them. If there is a Republican, I will stand up to them.

Coloradans can also expect me to very clearly state I will never vote for someone trying to take away our right to vote. That’s another distinction between my opponent and me. She refuses to say that she will not support Donald Trump if he runs again.

CLARK: (to Anderson) Is that the case?

ANDERSON: That is absolutely false. I’ve said as a principled election official that I won’t tell you who I will vote for but I will continue to push back. I will also tell you that there is no nuance for me, ever, on this issue. [Pols emphasis]

Gah!

It’s a really bad look to spend three minutes providing nuanced answers about your opposition to election deniers and THEN proclaim “there is no nuance for me, ever, on this issue.”

What might be worse is talking at length about your opposition to Donald Trump and THEN refusing to say whether or not you would support Trump in 2024. Why would you do this?

In fact, Anderson’s answer reminds us of Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney in 2012. From CNN:

Asked on his charter plane whether Donald Trump’s questioning of President Barack Obama’s birthplace gave him pause, Romney simply said he was grateful for all his supporters.

“You know, I don’t agree with all the people who support me and my guess is they don’t all agree with everything I believe in,” Romney said. “But I need to get 50.1% or more and I’m appreciative to have the help of a lot of good people.”

Anderson doesn’t really have the political courage she claims to possess. People who oppose election deniers don’t campaign with election deniers, just like people who oppose white supremacists don’t take pictures with Klan members. It’s not more complicated than this.

Likewise, people who say they oppose conspiracy theories don’t promote conspiracy theories in order to win elections…which is exactly what Anderson did in April 2022 when she claimed that she would “crack down on ballot harvesting” despite the fact that “ballot harvesting” isn’t a real thing that actually happens.

Pam Anderson may be perplexed that others find it odd that she claims to oppose election deniers but regularly campaigns with them. Colorado voters will likely be less confused.