Get More Smarter on Friday (March 24)

Welcome to Spring; enjoy the allergies! 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.




If you are a registered voter in Denver but have not yet cast your ballot ahead of the April 4th election — headlined by the first open race for Denver Mayor in 12 years — then welcome to the club! Less than 5% of Denver voters have cast a ballot as of today.

Recent shootings at East High School in Denver may help voters make a decision among the 16 candidates running for Mayor.


Former President Donald Trump won’t likely be indicted for hush money payments to a porn star until at least next week. In the meantime, Trump is handling the wait with his typical subtlety and grace:


As The Denver Post reports, students from several local high schools visited the State Capitol on Thursday to plead with lawmakers to take more action on gun safety:

Hundreds of students from at least five Denver high schools, reeling from another school shooting, filled lawmakers’ offices and surrounded them in the hallways of the Capitol on Thursday to demand safer schools.

The rally was in response to the second shooting at East High School in as many weeks, but violence at any school affects every school, students said. They chanted slogans like “protect schools, not guns” from the Capitol steps.

“This should have stopped with Luis,” Jasmine Brown, a junior at West High School, said. “This should have stopped with Columbine.”

Luis Garcia, a junior and varsity soccer player at East High School, was shot last month while sitting in his car outside of school. He died of his injuries.

The response from Republican lawmakers was…not good:

In a series of Tweets today, Colorado House Republicans cast the blame for shootings at East High School squarely on the Denver School Board.

As Westword reports, the Denver School Board completed quite the flip on its policy of armed police officers in public schools. Following the Black Lives Matter protests of 2020, the school board pulled armed police out of schools over concerns about officers potentially targeting minority students for extra scrutiny.


 Governor Jared Polis unveiled a sweeping new affordable housing proposal that supporters say will also have huge benefits for the environment.


Click below to keep learning things…



It’s Official: The “Kia Challenge” Inflated The GOP “Crimenado”

Look how easy it is to steal this car!

Among the many social ills weaponized by Republicans for electoral gain last year (albeit ineffectively) was an undeniable increase in auto thefts, seized upon by Republicans along with the general uptick in property crimes over the past couple of years as evidence of Democratic mismanagement. The causes of increased criminal activity after decades of decline is a complicated subject best addressed with an exploration of the roots of the problem, but nuance was the last thing Republicans wanted as they demanded a crackdown and rollback of sentencing and police conduct reforms.

And of course, the only real way to solve the problem was to vote Republican last November! But in the end, voters saw through the GOP’s “Crimenado” blame-gaming, and instead punished Republicans at the polls once again. This year, a bipartisan bill to make the theft of low-value cars a felony, like cars worth over $2,500, is moving forward with little resistance–which neutralizes the politics of the issue at least for the present.

But even that is not the whole story: as it turns out, there’s a very much non-political factor helping drive the increase in auto thefts. KDVR FOX 31’s DJ Summers, the station’s “data guru” with relatively unconcealed conservative leanings, reports accurately:

Several Colorado authorities including the Colorado State Patrol, Auto Theft Prevention Authority, Division of Insurance and Division of Motor Vehicles have identified an increase in thefts of certain late-model Kias and Hyundais. These cars are being stolen more than 10 times as often as in 2019 and now make up a large share of the total number of cars stolen in the state. [Pols emphasis]

Former Senate Minority Leader Chris Holbert (R) riding the “Sharknado” of crime.

Last summer, a video posted to the social media site TikTok revealed a defect in a wide range of cars made by Hyundai, which also owns Kia, allowing vehicles that still use a traditional-style key to be easily stolen. Thieves need nothing more than a computer USB cable to turn the ignition and start affected cars.

The result? A massive spike in thefts of Hyundai and Kia models that we now know has significantly contributed to the overall increase in auto theft reported across the country and in Colorado:

These vehicles make up a disproportionate share of Colorado’s stolen vehicles. Of the motor vehicles stolen in 2022, 13% were Kias and 12% were Hyundais.

The share of passenger vehicles that are Kias or Hyundais is even higher. Together, those two makes represented about one-third of all stolen passenger vehicles in 2022. Kias were 15% of all stolen passenger vehicles and Hyundais another 15%.

To put this in perspective, in 2022 Hyundai and Kia had a combined 11% market share in U.S. light vehicle sales, but were responsible for a wildly disproportionate 25% of all motor vehicle thefts and 30% of passenger vehicle thefts. That’s not a political or even a criminal justice problem–it’s a product brand with a flaw being massively exploited.

It’s just another example of Colorado Republicans trying as they regularly do to turn every news headline into a political bludgeon to use against their opponents. But this time, the facts don’t fit the spin: a giant multinational corporation manufactured a defective product that led to a major spike in thefts of that product–enough to significantly skew the nationwide statistics for auto theft in 2022.

And as much as Republicans wanted easily-stolen Hyundais and Kias to be Jared Polis’ fault, it just isn’t.

Rehabilitating 2022’s Losers: Welcome Back, Heidi Ganahl!

We give you the next stop on the Colorado Republican Party’s “We’ve Learned Nothing” tour following the weekend’s disastrous triumph of the whacktivist fringe led by former state Rep. Dave “Let’s Go Brandon” Williams: of all the candidates who ran and lost in last November’s historic shellacking at the hands of Democrats, who’s the candidate Republicans should be least interested in welcoming back to the spotlight?

Heidi Ganahl.

That’s right, folks! The biggest GOP loser in a Colorado governor’s race since Dan Maes brought home 11% of the vote in 2010, fur-natic culture warrior who never met an election denier she didn’t like Heidi Ganahl is back with a new podcast, much like the thinly-veiled campaign vehicle Ganahl launched in 2021. After losing the 2022 race for governor by just shy of 20 points, Ganahl is promising to dish on the shadowy leftist treasonators responsible for her defeat:

On the campaign trail, I learned most folks in Colorado have no idea who the good guys or the bad guys are in politics. [Pols emphasis] They know something is wrong with our state, but they’re unsure how to tackle it.

They told me they don’t trust the media, the politicians, the power players to tell the truth. They’ve given up.

So first of all, voters knew enough for Ganahl to lose by over 19 points. That tells us voters had formed a pretty unambiguous opinion on who the “bad” versus “good” guys were. Second, the 2022 Republican nominee for governor of Colorado says the people don’t trust “the politicians?”

Based on the election results it’s certainly true in Ganahl’s case!

I’m launching an initiative using what I learned behind the scenes to help inform, educate and empower the people of Colorado, so they know the TRUTH – exactly who’s good, who’s bad, what they can do about it, and how to be effective.

Let’s start by exposing what Is REALLY going on behind the curtain in Colorado, who is helping and who is getting in our way.

Next to Dave Williams’ scorched-earth victory in the race to be the next Colorado GOP chairman, Heidi Ganahl’s return to the spotlight is the worst possible news for Republicans hoping to recover from their current historic nadir of influence in state government. Ganahl doesn’t have the solution to any of the Republican Party’s problems, because she is the problem. The failure of Republicans to realize the immense collateral harm Ganahl’s far-right moral panic conspiracy politics was doing to the rest of the ticket last year was a blind spot resulting from consensus at the highest levels of the GOP’s donor base with Ganahl’s wacky beliefs. They couldn’t see it coming, but it’s impossible to deny in hindsight.

Instead of retooling, Colorado Republicans are reaffirming the chaos that brought them to this low point.

Debate Diary: The Wacky Race for State Republican Party Chair

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

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

The candidates are:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Democrats are Very Good AND Republicans are Very Bad

WEDNESDAY UPDATE: The tide keeps turning…


Governor Jared Polis

In the aftermath of the 2022 election, there was a question that kept coming up among political observers — particularly in Colorado — that went something like this: Are Democrats really good at campaigning and governing, or is it just that Republicans are SO BAD at both? 

Nearly four months later, the answer seems pretty clear.

While Republicans remain hamstrung by MAGA extremists, Democrats are focusing on governing and proving to future voters that they are more than capable of being the adults in the room.

As The Colorado Sun reports today via its “Unaffiliated” newsletter, new polling numbers from a noted Republican pollster show that Coloradans are pretty happy with their Democratic leaders:

The poll, commissioned by the conservative education group Ready Colorado, revealed that 61% of participants view Governor Jared Polis favorably, compared with 35% who said they view him unfavorably, 3% who had no opinion and 1% who said they had never heard of him. It’s notable that so few participants didn’t know or have an opinion of the governor.

Additionally, 53% said they think “things in Colorado” — that’s how the question was worded — are headed in the right direction, while 41% said they think the state is on the wrong track and 6% said they were unsure.

That’s a solid majority of Coloradans who both approve of Gov. Jared Polis and believe that Colorado is headed in the right direction. 

Polling numbers aren’t as favorable for President Joe Biden, but that might be more of a casualty of the partisan/tribal nature of a post-Trump era of Presidential politics.

Via Bulwark (2/21/23)

As Jonathan V. Last writes today for Bulwark, the Biden administration is deftly handling perhaps the three most significant governing issues of the day:

Inflation is coming under control and we may be headed for a soft landing; which would be a tremendous achievement.

Biden’s response to Ukraine is the most deft handling of foreign policy by an American president since Reagan and H.W. Bush’s handling of the Cold War endgame.

And immigration?

Here’s the headline from CATO’s Alex Nowrasteh: “Biden’s New Border Plan Slashes Illegal Immigration.”

Writes Nowrasteh:

The total number of encounters along the southwest (SW) border with Mexico dropped by 37.9 percent in the month following President Biden’s new immigration and border plan.

Over the weekend, Biden made a surprise and unprecedented visit to Ukraine to reaffirm American support for its war against Russia. With air-raid sirens blaring in the background, Biden walked the streets of Kiev with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. As images of leadership go, you’d be hard-pressed to come up with something more powerful than this:

President Biden in Kiev, Ukraine


And how did Republicans respond? With the only note they know how to play: Blindly criticizing Biden. Former President Donald Trump, the frontrunner for the GOP’s nomination in 2024, even praised Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Via Rolling Stone (2/20/23)

There is no arguing that 2022 was a devastating cycle for Colorado Republicans. The top of the GOP ticket saw candidates for Governor (Heidi Ganahl) and U.S. Senate (Joe O’Dea) get hammered by double-digit margins. Elsewhere, Republicans spent more than $13 million to lose two seats in the State Senate and now holds the ignominy of the smallest legislative minority in state history (only 31 of 100 seats are held by the GOP).

On a national scale, Republicans fumbled a favorable Senate map by nominating nutball candidates, which allowed Democrats to actually gain a Senate seat and avoid having to rely on Vice President Kamala Harris as a tie-breaking vote. Republicans avoided a complete disaster by managing to eke out a smaller-than-expected five-seat majority in the House of Representatives. Just how unexpected was this squeaker? Eight months earlier, then-House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy confidently predicted, “We’re going to win the majority, and it’s not going to be a five-seat majority.”

“We’re going to win the majority, and it’s not going to be a five-seat majority.”

 — Kevin McCarthy in March 2022

McCarthy would end up being part of history in January…though not in a good way. McCarthy needed 15 different roll call votes to secure his role as Speaker of the House — something that hadn’t been seen in Congress since before the Civil freaking War.

Republicans are locked in a “Circle of Strife” here in Colorado as they look ahead to an increasingly-crowded field of candidates vying to lead the State GOP into 2024. Things aren’t much better elsewhere; Republicans chose an “election-denying demon hunter” as GOP Chair in Michigan and an ally of Donald Trump to be the new State Republican Party leader in Florida.

Over the weekend in Montana, former two-term Republican governor and onetime chairman of the Republican National Committee Marc Racicot was informed by the Montana Republican Party that a resolution had been approved in which it was declared that Racicot “would no longer be considered a Republican.” Racicot apparently had no idea that such a resolution was even being discussed.

The Republican Party is making national headlines for mostly bad reasons. At the same time, a Democratic President is racking up one policy win after another (and leaving plenty of oxygen in the room for other Democrats to claim their own victories), and elected Democrats in Colorado are proving voters correct for trusting them to govern the state effectively.

So, we ask again: Are Democrats really good at campaigning and governing, or is it just that Republicans are SO BAD at both? 

The answer is simple: “Yes.”

GOP Glee Over IRS TABOR Snafu Says a Mouthful

Gov. Jared Polis (D).

As Colorado Newsline’s Lindsey Toomer reports, uncertainty thrown into the already fraught annual affair that is tax season in the United States by the Internal Revenue Service’s indecision on how to treat special tax refunds and economic stimulus payments made by nearly 20 states in 2022 was relieved Friday night, with the announcement that the IRS will not treat those payments as taxable income:

On Feb. 3, the IRS encouraged taxpayers who were uncertain about their state refunds to hold off on filing their taxes until the agency released additional guidance. Colorado’s TABOR refunds totaling $750 for single filers and $1,500 for joint filers were among 19 state refunds called into question.

“The IRS has determined that in the interest of sound tax administration and other factors, taxpayers in many states will not need to report these payments on their 2022 tax returns,” the IRS said in a statement.

Colorado’s full bipartisan federal delegation as well as Gov. Jared Polis wrote to IRS Commissioner Douglas O’Donnell asking the agency to treat the refunds as nontaxable income.

“We, like millions of Coloradans, are breathing a sigh of relief that the IRS and federal government have stepped away from taxing our refunds this year,” Polis said in a news release. “This ultimately is the best outcome for families and individuals and we will continue seeking out more ways to save people money. I will continue fighting to maintain this precedent that refunds under TABOR should never be taxed.”

Although Colorado is the only state with a constitutional refund mechanism for so-called “excess” revenue over the arbitrary limit set by the 1992 TABOR initiative, the state was far from alone in distributing revenue directly to taxpayers as part of a variety of temporary economic relief measures. The IRS’s scrutiny of last year’s Colorado Cashback program, which resulted in the jarring announcement last week that Coloradans should hold off on filing our tax returns, produced a similar moment of panic in other affected states.

But if you were a Colorado Republican, this debacle was solely the fault of–you guessed it–Gov. Jared Polis:

It’s a tactic we’ve seen more times than we can count, a good example being the absurd attempt to blame Gov. Polis for the global crash in oil production that accompanied the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic after the passage of state-level drilling reforms–or that Colorado’s new “red flag” law would have resulted in outlandish “unintended consequences” despite having been successfully implemented in other states. The IRS did not single out Colorado for this admittedly ill-timed second-guessing, and as a TABOR tax refund mechanism, last year’s Colorado Cashback checks were if anything more clearly not taxable than economic relief checks distributed by some other states.

It was a relief to see Colorado’s entire congressional delegation clap back in unison when the IRS asked taxpayers in all of the affected states to delay filing their tax returns. That stands in stark contrast to less responsible local Republicans (see above) with their pre-existing axes to grind who can’t help but try to exploit the confusion created by the IRS’s actions for political gain. The only change in last year’s reformulated Colorado Cashback refunds was to make them equal, which had the effect of boosting substantially the amount distributed to lower-income households. Despite a furious campaign from Republicans to badmouth Democrats’ rejiggering of TABOR to help lower-income Coloradans, based on the results of last year’s elections we can conclude with certainty that voters liked it just fine.

As a general rule, it’s risky politics to be gleeful about other people’s pain, especially regarding something as important as timely filing of tax returns. Last week’s surprise announcement by the IRS caused unnecessary chaos for thousands of Colorado households who had already or were about to file their returns. By pretending Colorado was somehow unique in this uncertainty, and by hammering away with off-base political attacks instead of showing some sympathy for affected Colorado taxpayers, too many local Republicans showed again that in their estimation, political leverage is worth seeing people suffer.

If you ever find yourself on that side of the debate, it’s the wrong side.

Scott Bottoms and the Tax Cut Zombies

Heidi Ganahl and Dean Singleton in Sept. 2022.

One of the more entertaining and enlightening moments of the 2022 election cycle in Colorado took place in September during a gubernatorial candidate forum hosted by Colorado Concern. Longtime Denver Post publisher Dean Singleton was the moderator of the event; he tried really, really hard to understand how Republican Heidi Ganahl planned to eliminate the state income tax while also avoiding MASSIVE cuts to important government services that would result from making billions of dollars in revenue just vanish.

Despite promising that she would eventually come up with a plan for her plan to eliminate the state income tax, Ganahl never did put forward anything that could have even remotely been considered a plausible path forward for eliminating the state income tax and continuing to pay for things like public education and road maintenance. As Ryan Warner of Colorado Public Radio said to Ganahl in July 2022 in response to her plans to eliminate the income tax and halve the gas tax, ““I hear you talking about growth and oversight and regulation. I don’t hear where you would get $9 billion and another $600 million in savings.”

As The Colorado Sun wrote in a separate story last July: “Conservatives have mostly avoided calls to eliminate the income tax, which has been around since 1937, because no one has presented a feasible way to do it.”

Like a Bizarro Robin Hood

Evidently Republican State Rep. Scott “There is No” Bottoms did not get the memo on this subject (or, frankly, on any other subject). Bottoms, a freshman Republican lawmaker from Colorado Springs, is sponsoring legislation (HB23-1063) that seeks to “reduce both the individual and the corporate state income tax rates from 4.40% to 3.5%” starting on January 1, 2024.

On Tuesday, the nonpartisan Legislative Council Staff released its required Demographic/Fiscal note on Bottoms’ proposal. Here’s the Bottoms line:

This bill may increase existing income disparities by providing larger tax savings for those with higher incomes, both in absolute amounts and proportionally to income. [Pols emphasis]

Individuals who are not required to file income taxes because they have insufficient incomes and those without an income tax liability due [to] the structure of the federal and state income tax code (e.g., deductions and tax credits) will be unaffected by the change in income tax liability under the bill. Higher income earners, who tend to have a higher income tax liability, are more likely to experience income increases from tax savings under HB 23-1063.

State Rep. Scott “There is No” Bottoms (R-Colorado Springs)

In other words, only wealthy Coloradans (and the zombie “think tank” wizards who are paid by wealthy people) would see any real benefit from reducing Colorado’s state income tax rate from 4.40% to 3.5%. Middle- and lower-income Coloradans could end up paying more in taxes as a result.

For example, a Coloradan who is a single filer with an annual income of $52,000 or less would save about $85 per year from the reduced income tax rate. HOWEVER, the overall impact would mean a $249 reduction in TABOR refund savings for that same individual; the net result for such a person would be a $164 INCREASE in taxes owed. Meanwhile, taxpayers with incomes of more than $200,000 per year would save about $3,500 annually…a savings they might barely even notice.

There’s no pressing need to even discuss this stupid idea, but Ganahl and Bottoms are part of a generation of Republicans who were raised on a message that tax cuts are always good policy for everyone in any situation and no-one should ever question that wisdom, period. The rhetoric is part of the Reagan-era “Trickle Down Economics” theory that has been widely debunked as providing virtually no benefits for anyone who isn’t already rich.

Republicans such as Ganahl and Bottoms either A) Only care about helping rich people make more money, or B) Have no actual idea how tax and fiscal policy actually works. Or perhaps, C) Both.

Fortunately, Colorado voters have seen through these nonsense claims over the years and have elected representatives who are not solely interested in giving wealthy people a little more ‘walking around money’. This legislation, like everything else touched by Bottoms, will go nowhere in a state legislature with a Democratic majority.

Kyle Clark Gets More Smarter on the GMS Podcast

This week on the Get More Smarter Podcast, 9News anchor/reporter/producer Kyle Clark (“Next With Kyle Clark”) joins the podcast to talk about how to cover a jam-packed Denver Mayoral race; calling a lie a lie (and a liar a liar); and the disservice that journalists do for a community when they “both sides” a story into oblivion.

Later, your hosts Jason Bane and Ian Silverii discuss the amazing ability of Republican Rep. Scott “There is No” Bottoms to find new (and old) ways to cripple the State GOP; and we dive into another segment of “What the Buck?!” as Republican Congressman Ken Buck manages once again to take every position possible within a matter of days.

Listen to previous episodes of The Get More Smarter Podcast at

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

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


UPDATE: Going great!


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

Oh Captains, My Captains!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



Why Do Republicans Do Anything? (feat. Tim Miller)

This week on the Get More Smarter Podcast, your hosts Jason Bane and Ian Silverii talk with bestselling author, Colorado (almost) native, and former Republican political consultant Tim Miller about why Republicans went off the deep end and whether they can ever find their way back from the wilderness. Miller also talks about the early days of Colorado Pols!

Later, Ian and Jason talk about gun safety legislation in the Colorado legislature and the odd fact that nearly a quarter of all state lawmakers began their legislative careers through “vacancy committee” appointments.

When you’re done listening, go buy Tim’s book: “How We Did It: A Travelogue from the Republican Road to Hell.”

Listen to previous episodes of The Get More Smarter Podcast at

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What’s STILL Happening to Colorado Republicans

As we’ve discussed at length in this space, Colorado Republicans have a long road ahead of them following the 2022 “Bluenami” that wiped out GOP candidates up and down the ballot. We keep looking for examples that the Colorado GOP understands its predicament and is willing to make the type of changes necessary to become competitive again, but we haven’t seen many signs of life thus far.

In a column published today in National Review, Republican Sage Naumann tried to explain how things got so bad in Colorado and what needs to be done to make them better for Republicans. Naumann is a former communications staffer for state legislative Republicans who transitioned to working for the GOP consulting firm called the “76 Group” in 2022 (the “76 Group” is run by longtime Republican consultant Josh Penry). We’ll give Naumann credit for trying to address the Republican problems in Colorado, but what makes his column for National Review truly insightful is what gets glossed over or swept under the rug entirely. This isn’t a Sage Naumann problem so much as it is a reflection of a larger issue for Colorado Republicans as a whole.

Let’s dig in, shall we?



“It’s the Industry That is Unappreciated in Speeches”

Colorado Republicans kicked off the 2023 legislative session by immediately proving that they had no intention of acting like serious adults and adjusting the course that brought them to their smallest representation at the State Capitol in generations. This week, they are literally counting the appearance of certain words in “the “State of the State” speech (SOTS) delivered by Gov. Jared Polis.

Republican legislators are still obsessed with their imaginary gripe about a “war on rural Colorado” being waged by Democrats — the sort of closed-loop idiocy that results in Republicans projecting “MeatOut Day” as a larger coordinated attack on Colorado’s livestock industry — and they can prove it by hitting ‘control-f’ on their computers.

On Wednesday, House Republicans issued the following statement signed by four members (Reps. Richard Holtorf, Marc Catlin, Ty Winter, and Ryan Armagost) attacking Polis for literally not saying the word “agriculture” enough times in his SOTS speech on Tuesday:

Statement from House Republicans following the “State of the State” speech.


One line in this statement is particularly ridiculous: “It’s the industry that is unappreciated in speeches” is beyond parody. The rest of the statement isn’t any better.

“In his 70-minute, 8,000-word monologue, the governor mentioned “agriculture” one single time. For perspective, the name ‘Gandalf’ was used three times. The governor may find humor in Lord of the Rings and Star Wars references while addressing the state, but Colorado’s struggling ranchers and farmers don’t quite find it as funny when they’re the ones being left out.”

Gov. Jared Polis saying lots of different words on Tuesday.

You can read the entire text of Gov. Polis’s prepared speech by clicking here. Polis did not actually “leave out” ranchers and farmers, but apparently he didn’t use those words enough for House Republicans. In Polis’s prepared remarks, the words “agricultural,” “farmer,” and “rancher” are all included:

“Farmers and ranchers across the state fear that Colorado won’t have the water resources to sustain the next generation of agricultural jobs.

When Colorado is 150, I want our state to have the water resources necessary for our farms, communities, and industries to thrive, and the tools in place to protect our state’s waterways and defend our rights.”

The word “water” appears 24 times in the SOTS speech. It is true, however, that the word “food” only appears twice in the speech, which obviously means that Polis is anti-eating. Also suspicious: No mention of the words “cow,” “chicken,” “steak,” or “hamburger.” And not once did Polis say “meteorite.”

In order for Republicans to start winning again in Colorado, they need suburban voters to swing in their direction. But their focus is elsewhere:

“There’s more to Colorado than a handful of metros and cities like Denver and Boulder. Our districts encompass the vast majority of geographical territory in the state.”

This would be great news for the GOP if dirt could vote. Alas, people still make the decisions in a democracy, and people in Colorado tend to live near “metros and cities.”

Wednesday’s statement from House Republicans closed with the all-too-familiar perpetual victimhood approach:

“We may be an afterthought to those in their ivory towers or gold domes looking down, but our agriculture community remembers every day the struggles we go through to keep Colorado’s economy and people strong. Agricultural businesses and families have earned more than one or two passing lines when discussing the current and future state of Colorado.”

So many gold domes.

This is what House Republicans are doing with their time. If Polis would just say “agriculture” a half-dozen times, then everything would be cool? Is that really the argument here?

Instead of recognizing the root causes that led to their micro-minority status, Republicans keep focusing on losing issues such as opposition to abortion rights and mindless support of people carrying any sort of firearm in any situation (even at the State Capitol). Last week ended with no House Republicans co-sponsoring the completely-benign annual resolution honoring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. — an unprecedented move that won’t help the GOP attract future support from Black voters. That resolution passed in the State Senate on Tuesday with only Senate Minority Leader Paul Lundeen adding his name as a co-sponsor.

You can argue that government functions best when there is more than one political party piloting the ship. You can’t make that argument when one of those political parties is spending time and energy counting the number of specific words in a speech and extrapolating some sort of ridiculous grievance from the result.

Gov. Jared Polis’ Second Inaugural Party Day Thread

UPDATE #2: The Denver Post’s Nick Coltrain reports:

Polis was a tech entrepreneur and served on the state Board of Education before representing Northern Colorado in Congress. He won the governorship in 2018 as part of a trifecta victory for Democrats that included the state House of Representatives and Senate. The party has held that control since. This past November, Democrats defied their own expectations and that of prognosticators by not just holding the trifecta but expanding their majorities in the legislative chambers.

Legislators who introduced Polis attributed their victories to voters recognizing their record over the past four years…

“For too many people, life is simply too hard and too expensive,” Polis said. “Coloradans are counting on all of us who work in this building behind me to deliver solutions.”


UPDATE: Watch live:


We’ll be live in this space at 10:30AM for Gov. Jared Polis’ second swearing in, and updating throughout the day as the pomp, circumstance, and They Might Be Giants play out.

Top Ten Stories of 2022 #9: Temporary Relief For Abortion Rights

Colorado GOP chair and lifelong anti-abortion activist Kristi Burton Brown.

Just one of several convergent storylines around the issue of abortion rights that we’ll be discussing in our ongoing recap of the top stories in Colorado politics for 2022 is the legislation passed this year by the Colorado General Assembly expressly codifying abortion rights into statute. This legislation was forced by the widely-expected and since-fulfilled promise kept by the new 6-3 right-wing U.S. Supreme Court to strike down the landmark Roe v. Wade ruling that guaranteed abortion rights nationwide for decades.

As the Denver Post’s Alex Burness reported in March, the minority Republican caucus in the Colorado House employed every obstructionist parliamentary trick in the book to slow the inevitable passage of the Reproductive Health Equity Act to a crawl:

Colorado Republicans cannot stop the Democrats from passing a bill codifying the right to abortion in state law.

But they can sure stretch it out.

A debate in the House of Representatives on HB22-1279, the Reproductive Health Equity Act, began at 10:53 a.m. Friday and concluded with a preliminary voice vote at 10:18 a.m. Saturday. After that vote the House Democrats moved to kill some final, unsuccessful GOP amendment proposals, before lawmakers and Capitol staff could leave the building at last.

Roughly one full day in length, this is thought to have been the longest debate in this Capitol in at least 25 years.

Despite dogged Republican resistance in the House that extended the debate over RHEA all night Friday and well into the following Saturday morning, the hard-right faction of the GOP caucus nonetheless raged that then-Minority Leader Hugh McKean wasn’t doing enough to obstruct passage of the bill–at one point reportedly having an off-camera belly-bumping incident with fellow Republican Rep. Shane Sandridge. But as the old saying goes, the minority gets their say and the majority in the end gets their way. In the end the bill passed like it was always going to, and the Republican resistance to passing RHEA only further alienated Republicans from voters energized by the issue following Roe’s repeal later last year.

The imperilment of abortion rights by the U.S. Supreme Court by repealing Roe v. Wade has been a central plank in the Republican Party’s platform for so long that there was no real way for Republicans to maneuver around the issue, as Colorado’s “personally very pro life” U.S. Senate candidate Joe O’Dea discovered when he tried and spectacularly failed to muddy up the issue enough to nullify it Cory Gardner style. But O’Dea’s feints on abortion never squared with the explicit position of outgoing Colorado Republican Party chair and lifetime anti-abortion zealot Kristi Burton Brown. Gubernatorial candidate Hiedi Heidi Ganahl assailed Colorado’s Reproductive Health Equity Act and vowed to repeal it. O’Dea also slammed RHEA during and after the primary as “too extreme,” part of his ill-fated attempt to anoint himself as the candidate who “brings balance to women’s rights.”

As we know now and will explore further as we get into O’Dea’s race in detail, Colorado Republicans like their national counterparts catastrophically misread the mood of voters following the repeal of Roe v. Wade. Voters were not interested in hearing why Colorado’s abortion rights bill was “too extreme,” they wanted to punish Republicans who put abortion rights in danger to begin with. It’s not like Kristi Burton Brown could have concealed her glee over the Supreme Court’s decision, but the fierce (not to mention dreadfully factually challenged) opposition to Colorado’s abortion rights bill set our local Republicans up to take the full wrath of voters who have rejected abortion bans over and over.

Although RHEA is now statute in Colorado, the fight isn’t over here to ensure that reproductive rights are not a single election away from being under direct threat in a post-Roe America. The same rights protected in RHEA should next become constitutional protections via a statewide vote–and unlike Republican ballot measure campaigns to ban abortion, it won’t be a measure that burns its supporters politically.

Abortion has never been a winning issue for Colorado Republicans, and now that they’ve gotten what they’ve always wanted in Roe’s repeal, they only have more to lose.

Get More Smarter on Tuesday (Dec. 20)

It’s about to get really freaking cold in Colorado. Like, dangerously cold. Bundle up, people! 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.




State Republican Party Chairperson Kristi Burton Brown announced on Monday that she will not seek another term after leading the GOP to its worst election year defeat in generations. As The Colorado Sun reports in its “Unaffiliated” newsletter, there’s a new name who could be interested in half-assing the job for the 2024 cycle:

Weld County Sheriff Steve Reams, a fierce gun rights advocate and familiar face at Republican events, is strongly considering running next year to become the Colorado GOP’s next state party chair.

Reams told The Colorado Sun on Monday there’s a greater than 50% chance he makes a bid for the job when the Colorado Republican Party votes for a new leader in March, but that he still has “some work to do to convince myself fully.”

Reams was reelected Nov. 8 to a third four-year term as sheriff, meaning he would have to balance his position as sheriff with the demands of being state party chair. That’s his biggest consideration in weighing whether to make a party chair bid. U.S. Rep. Ken Buck served as party chair from 2019 to 2021 while he was also a congressman.

Colorado Republicans lost every statewide race in 2022 by at least 10 points; lost a new Congressional seat in CO-08; and fell further into minority party status in the state legislature. What Republicans definitely need now is a new leader who already has a full-time job and can’t devote 100% of his time to being GOP Party Chair. Here’s how well that approach worked when Congressman Ken Buck tried doing two jobs at once in the 2020 cycle.

Reams says he will decide by the end of the year whether to run for Party Chair, where there are a handful of perennial losers lining up for the job. Casper Stockham, who loses political campaigns like children lose baby teeth, is running once again to be State Party Chair. Two-time gubernatorial loser Greg Lopez is also apparently looking at running, as is outgoing Mesa County Clerk and Recorder Tina Peters (who might well be in prison by next summer); outgoing State Rep. Dave Williams (who lost a Republican Primary in CO-05 in June); and Holly Osborne Horn (who managed Attorney General candidate John Kellner’s debacle of a campaign in 2022).

In fairness, Republicans would probably prefer a candidate for State Chair who has not recently lost a campaign of some sort, but those people don’t really exist.


The House committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021 insurrection referred Donald Trump and several associates to the Justice Department for prosecution on Monday. Republicans who have always rushed to Trump’s defense have been noticeably silent this week, as The Associated Press reports:

The Republican Party quickly and forcefully rallied behind Donald Trump in the hours after federal agents seized classified documents from his Florida estate this summer.

Four months later, that sense of intensity and urgency was missing — at least for now — after the Jan. 6 House committee voted to recommend the Justice Department bring criminal charges against him. Leading Republicans largely avoided the historic criminal referral Monday, while others pressed to weigh in offered muted defenses — or none at all.

Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell called for “an immediate and thorough explanation” after the FBI executed the August search warrant at Mar-a-Lago. On Monday, he told reporters he had only one “immediate observation” about the criminal referral: “The entire nation knows who is responsible for that day.” Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., who called for Attorney General Merrick Garland’s resignation in the wake of the search, was silent on the committee’s referral, focusing instead on alleged FBI missteps…

…The divergent responses are a sign of how quickly the political landscape has shifted for Trump as he faces a new legal threat and mounts a third bid for the presidency. It’s a marked change for a party that has been defined, above all, by its unconditional loyalty to Trump under any and all circumstances for the last six years.


Regents at the University of Colorado are finally calling a spade a spade, as Elizabeth Hernandez reports for The Denver Post:

The chair of the University of Colorado’s Board of Regents called John Eastman “an embarrassment” Monday and said the elected board respects the ability of the Justice Department to weigh the Jan. 6 committee’s request that the attorney be prosecuted in connection with the Capitol insurrection.

Eastman was employed by CU Boulder as the visiting scholar of conservative thought and policy at the Bruce D. Benson Center for the Study of Western Civilization while he was advising President Donald Trump on how to overturn the results of the 2020 election.

On Monday, the House Jan. 6 committee recommended to the Department of Justice that Trump be charged with violating four criminal statutes, including aiding an insurrection, and that Eastman be prosecuted on two of the same statutes as Trump: conspiracy to defraud the United States and obstructing an official proceeding…

…CU Regent Chair Lesley Smith, an at-large Democrat, issued a new statement Monday on behalf of the university’s governing board:

“John Eastman has not been affiliated with CU for some 20 months. As CU Boulder Chancellor Philip DiStefano clearly noted immediately following the Jan. 6 riot, Eastman’s conduct in the weeks preceding Jan. 6 and on that day was shameful and it certainly does not reflect CU’s values. He is an embarrassment. We respect both the January 6 Committee’s right to make a referral to the Justice Department and the department’s ability to evaluate the evidence and determine whether to seek charges against him.”

We would imagine that CU Regent Hiedi Heidi Ganahl does not agree with this statement, given her repeated excuses for Eastman.



Click below to keep learning things…



Heidi Ganahl Can’t Stop Not Stopping

Walker Stapleton, seen here in late November 2018.

Four years ago, Republican Walker Stapleton lost an open race for Governor to Democrat Jared Polis by 11 points. A few weeks later, a photo emerged of a newly-bearded Stapleton smiling into a camera during a family vacation to Hawaii.

Stapleton had been preparing to run for Governor for roughly a decade, so you could have forgiven him for being a tad bitter about the results of the 2018 election. But Stapleton dealt with his defeat in what appeared to be a healthy manner. He didn’t spend the next six weeks complaining to anyone who would listen about how he was wronged by mean journalists. He didn’t promote bonkers conspiracy theories about how everyone was out to get him, and he didn’t try to prove that it was someone else’s fault that he did or said something dumb during his campaign for Governor.

Stapleton didn’t do any of the things that Hiedi Heidi Ganahl has done since losing by 20 points to Polis in the 2022 election.

September 24, 2022

You’ve no doubt heard the proverb that “Success has many fathers, while failure is an orphan.” It’s a well-worn saying because it’s true, but not everyone accepts that reality. Sometimes those who fail are so determined not to be alone that they continue to do everything in their power to relitigate past mistakes in a desperate search to avoid acknowledging their own blunders. Sometimes, there is Heidi Ganahl.

It’s important to start out here by repeating the fact that Ganahl didn’t just lose the race for Governor — she set a new standard for incompetence. We’ve said in this space that Ganahl is both the worst major candidate and the driving force behind the worst top-level campaign in Colorado history. Ganahl was so bad that she doomed several downballot Republican candidates across the state to narrow defeats

In the weeks following her election defeat, Ganahl spent a lot of time blocking critics on Twitter and conducting interviews with conservative talk radio outlets in which she complained that the “mainstream media” refused to convey her message — nevermind that Ganahl spent most of her campaign literally refusing to agree to interviews with these outlets.

Her argument, in essence, is this: Colorado media outlets wouldn’t talk about the things that I refused to talk to them about.


Ganahl is still fighting that bizarre battle today, nearly six weeks after her election loss. Naturally, Ganahl is also coming back to the story that put the final nail in her campaign coffin: Her inexplicable insistence that kids in “furry” costumes have overrun Colorado schools. [For more on Ganahl’s furry obsession, click Here, Here, Here, Here, Here, Here, Here, Here, Here, and Here]

Ganahl has latched on to the idea that Colorado Times Recorder reporter Heidi Beedle is a secret member of Antifa, or something, which somehow means that Ganahl’s own obsession with furries in schools is…um…well, that’s about where she lost us entirely. But she wants to make sure that the #1 news station in Colorado is aware of her grievances!


We’re not going to bother addressing right-wing chucklehead Andy Ngo, who is the journalistic equivalent of a three-year old trying to color inside the lines. As Wikipedia explains, Ngo is often accused by other journalists of throwing around the word “Antifa” with little rationale.

There are plenty of reasons why Ganahl shouldn’t be paying attention to Ngo, either, but her argument about Beedle’s reporting on Furry-Lago would be ridiculous anyway. When Beedle initially reported about Ganahl’s obsession with furries in late September, SHE WAS QUOTING GANAHL’S OWN COMMENTS ON RIGHT-WING RADIO. Ganahl has been whining incessantly that journalists wouldn’t pay attention to what she said…now she’s mad that she was quoted word-for-word?

Just so there is no confusion, this is what Ganahl said on Jimmy Sengenberger’s KNUS radio show on Sept. 24, 2022:


Ganahl just can’t quit “furries,” and it’s a real problem for Colorado Republicans who absolutely need to find a way to move forward by moving on from the 2022 Bluenami. Take a look at some of the other exchanges Ganahl is having on Twitter today:


Here Ganahl references the one agreeable story she managed to corral from CBS4 Denver political “reporter” Shaun Boyd, who is so universally discredited at this point that she might as well just become a meteorologist. Boyd’s ridiculous story posited that every school district in Colorado was covering up the furry epidemic in order to discredit a handful of parents who claimed otherwise. Or something like that. It was basically the exact opposite story that EVERY OTHER NEWS OUTLET in the country was reporting on the nonsense story about furries in schools. Lindsay Datko, a Ganahl adviser and the nutball leader of “Jeffco Kids First” (one of the groups that threw down hard on Furry-Lago), even claimed recently that a story from Colorado Community Media debunking the furry claims was being retracted. It was not.

Colorado Republicans spent millions of dollars in 2022 only to get pummeled in the polls — Ganahl herself lit $2 million of her own money on fire — which indicates that they have significant systemic and narrative problems in Colorado. The GOP can’t move forward until it stops talking about the silly crap that helped cement its defeat in 2022, but it can’t do that until its top-ticket candidate from the last election cycle moves on herself.

If any influential Colorado Republicans have a line into Elon Musk, the self-described “Chief Twit” at Twitter, it might be time to make a personal request to get Colorado’s own chief twit removed from the platform.

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

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

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

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

Listen to previous episodes of The Get More Smarter Podcast at

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

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Here’s How Much Money Colorado Republicans Lit on Fire in 2022

Sandra Fish of The Colorado Sun outlined today some big-picture campaign spending takeaways from state races in Colorado, with the main takeaway being that Gov. Jared Polis was the biggest spender of them all in 2022.

You can argue about what Polis’ self-funding means in relation to elections and campaign finance norms and whatnot, but remember this: Polis WON. He defeated Republican Hiedi Heidi Ganahl by 20 points. We’ll come back to this race a bit later, but the outcome is an important context to consider when looking at these numbers.

For our (play) money, there are a couple of other totals that are significantly more interesting. For example, take a look at the top two Republican spenders in this chart:


“Senate Majority Fund” and “Unite for Colorado Action” combined to spend nearly $13 million in 2022. “Unite” spent a portion of its total fundraising on canvassing for Republican State House candidates, but the bulk of this nearly $13 million went toward GOP efforts to retake the majority in the State Senate.

One year ago today, Democrats controlled the Colorado State Senate by a 20-15 margin. When Sen. Kevin Priola of Henderson left the Republican Party to become a Democrat in August, it shifted the numbers to a 21-14 Democratic majority. After all the votes were counted in November 2022, Democrats had increased their majority even further; when the legislature reconvenes in a few weeks, Democrats will hold a 23-12 advantage in the State Senate.

In short, Republicans in Colorado spent at least $13 million dollars to LOSE TWO SENATE SEATS in 2022. The GOP could have lost those Senate seats for free!

Heidi Ganahl’s campaign had a perpetual air of sadness.

Now, let’s go back to the race for Governor. As the Sun reports:

Polis spent a total of $13.2 million on his reelection, more than three times the $3.7 million spent by his Republican opponent, University of Colorado Regent Heidi Ganahl…

…Polis spent $9 per vote cast in his favor in the general election, less than the $9.72 per vote he spent in the 2018 general election and far less than the nearly $40 per vote he spent winning a four-way primary that year.

By comparison, Ganahl spent $3.77 per vote cast in her favor, which was the second-highest amount by a candidate for state-level statewide office. She put more than $2 million of her own money into her campaign. [Pols emphasis]


There are recent cryptocurrency investors who got a better return on their money than Ganahl; at least those folks didn’t spend millions of dollars destroying their own reputations. The Republican nominee for Governor was barely on television more than you were, but it wasn’t because she lacked the resources to run a viable statewide campaign. Historically-speaking, Ganahl had more than enough money to be a competitive candidate, but she spent it on useless things like airplane banners and social media videos.

Money is important in political campaigns. Only a fool would argue otherwise. But what is often overlooked is how wisely that money is spent. How much more money would it have cost Colorado Republicans to only suffer a net loss of one seat in the State Senate? How many more airplane banners would Ganahl have needed to fund in order to get within single digits of Polis? What if Steve Wells had designed twice as many weird billboards in his Weld County man cave?

Regular life is no different than politics in this regard: Money is only useful to the extent that you find useful things to do with it. Colorado Republicans missed this lesson in 2022.

It’s Good To Run Your Own “Stink Tank”

Chairman of the Board of the Common Sense Institute, Earl L. Wright.

Although Colorado Republicans don’t have much to be proud of coming out of yet another disastrous election season in 2022, one piece of their political infrastructure Republicans appear to want to save is the so-called Common Sense Institute, an organization created to push conservative messaging with (hopefully) more credibility than the typecast old-school conservative “stink tank” the Independence Institute. Although CSI churned out reams of repackaged public data to support favored Republican scare tactics like fentanyl and increasing auto theft rates, there’s not a single race in Colorado this year in which CSI’s “analysis” made even a small dent in Democratic dominance.

As post-mortem analysis continues to unpack the profound weakness of the Colorado Republican ticket in 2022, generally agreed to have been led to ruin by the unqualified train wreck that was hard-right gubernatorial candidate Hiedi Heidi Ganahl, the recurring theme has been an inability of Colorado Republicans at the highest levels to realize Ganahl would be a disaster–which was evident long before Ganahl won the Republican nomination. From the beginning of Ganahl’s campaign, it was clear that Ganahl would not be following the Cory Gardner playbook of feinting to the political center to win in a blue-trending state. Unfortunately, there was no one left in the Colorado Republican Party, even at the very top, removed enough from the GOP’s Trump-era ideological brainrot to see what was coming.

That is why we spent most of September and October talking about “furries.”

An excellent example of the hubris at the very top of Colorado’s conservative leadership that blinded them to impending disaster at the polls in November is the founder and chairman of the board of the Common Sense Institute, Earl Wright, who was recently exposed as having been in contact with Trump coup plotter John Eastman in the days after the January 6th, 2021 insurrection and on the coup-curious side of the 2020 presidential election. CSI announced yesterday that Wright is the recipient of something they’re calling the “Free Enterprise Trailblazer Award Winner!”


If we ever have enough money in one place to found our own “stink tank,” we’re going to make it a rule that we get a cool-sounding award every year! We fund the joint, we get the awards. Isn’t that how it works? Here’s precedent that says it is.

Sadly, if Earl Wright is who they’re giving awards to after this terrible year, no lessons have been learned.

Post-Election Media Bashing: Conservative Radio Is ‘Only Way We Got Our Voice Out,’ Says Ganahl

(Preach only to the choir? — Promoted by Colorado Pols)

“What really was frustrating to me is that the public, the people of Colorado, didn’t get to hear my heart. They didn’t get to hear who I am, or how I wanted to solve problems for them because [the news media] were so jaded and cynical, cynical and selective,” Heidi Ganahl told KOA radio host Mandy Connell last week.

“I would have a conversation with a reporter for an hour and talk all about policy and what I wanted to do. And the headline would be — what do you think?”


“Furries! Furries!” responded Connell.

“Or election deniers or you know. …” said Ganahl.

Ganahl said the situation with the media is “not fair to the people of Colorado.”

“Look at what’s happening with Twitter right now,” she told Connell on Dec. 5. “That’s not fair to the Americans who could have made a different decision about what they were going to vote if they knew what happened with the Hunter Biden story or pick your pleasure, whichever story they covered up. But in a smaller scale that happened in Colorado because we could never get our message out.”

In the end, Ganahl is left thinking that “conservative radio in Colorado is the only way we got our voice out.”

Ganahl is not the only failed conservative candidate in Colorado who’s said that conservatives should avoid media environments where challenging questions might pop up — and instead focus on their own platforms.

In the runup to his loss in 2020, former Sen. Cory Gardner, a Republican, said that to win, conservatives should skirt the media’s “pre-approved filter” and speak directly with constituents in order “to get our message around the people who want to twist or turn it or ignore it.” Gardner once told a right-wing talk radio host that the media is biased against “people like us.”

Asked by Connell if she regretted not accepting an offer during the campaign to debate on 9News, Ganahl said, “No, Mandy, I don’t. I just, I have no respect for [9News anchor] Kyle Clark. He does not treat women well. And I’ve spent the last couple of decades of my life working on helping women, lifting them up, and teaching them how to be strong and bold and speak up for themselves. And at the end of the day, we tried to negotiate something with 9News where he had a woman with him instead of Marshall. Nothing against [9News political reporter] Marshall [Zellinger]. We just to make a point, said, ‘You need a woman’s perspective up there to counteract his attitude towards especially conservative women.’ And they wouldn’t do it. And so at that point, it was like, ‘Fine, then never mind, I am going to put my money where my mouth is and stand up like I tell other women to do and say no, even if it will cost me, you know, some name recognition.’ But I also, you know, we had four other debates that were really good that people could watch online.”

On the other hand, Ganahl praised CBS4 Political Specialist Shaun Boyd’s coverage of the furry story, which first appeared in the Colorado Times Recorder, but she lamented that “nobody paid attention” to it because it came out late.

Meanwhile, with respect to her Democratic opponent, Gov. Jared Polis, Ganahl told Connell, “The media covered up for him and let him do his thing.”

Nobody Wanted To Throw Money Down Deep Colorado Wells

One of Deep Colorado Wells’ many anti-Polis billboards.

The Colorado Sun’s Jesse Paul followed up yesterday with one of the biggest individual funders pumping message dollars into the 2022 elections, Weld County oil and gasman millionaire Steve Wells. Back in September, Wells made a big splash with his announcement that he would spend millions in support of GOP gubernatorial candidate Hiedi Heidi Ganahl in an attempt to counter wealthy incumbent Democratic Gov. Jared Polis’ overwhelming financial advantage.

But now we know thanks to the Sun, who reported originally in their Unaffiliated newsletter last week, that Steve Wells’ “Deep Colorado Wells” were more like holding tanks for money that went mostly unspent:

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

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…

A few fake last-minute polls and lots of hot air notwithstanding, the race between Polis and Ganahl was never close, with every credible poll showing her losing by 10 points or more going into the campaign’s final weeks. As Ganahl mired herself in disastrously silly right-wing sideshows like the quest to prove that “furries” are overrunning Colorado’s public schools, Ganahl’s decline in the polls accelerated toward her eventual 19-point defeat on Election Day.

But incredibly, Steve Wells doesn’t blame Ganahl, but rather fellow Republican donors who refused to pony up:

Wells, whose fortune comes from oil and gas drilling on his 40,000-acre Weld County ranch, said he has severed ties with some wealthy GOP donors over their unfulfilled financial commitments.

“It’s changed who I do business with,” Wells said without getting specific. “If you want to sit and piss and moan and bitch about your taxes and crime and all this shit and do absolutely nothing, then get the hell away from me, because I don’t have time for that.”

…Wells said he doesn’t blame Ganahl for her loss, and he doesn’t regret supporting her candidacy rather than directing his money toward other candidates. [Pols emphasis] He figured that supporting Ganahl would provide a boost to all Republicans running this year. Wells also thought other GOP donors would follow his lead.

There’s no nice way to say this, but the “wealthy GOP donors” who refused to throw good money after Wells’ bad money did so based on a realistic assessment that this race was unwinnable, and they were right. This was money spent unimaginatively (see cheesy representative billboard above) by an individual with little to no political experience. The fact that Steve Wells didn’t have anyone to tell him he was on a fool’s errand is Wells’ problem and no one else’s.

This is not an attempt to defend the strategic choices made by Republican donors in the 2022 election cycle as a whole. But in the case of Heidi Ganahl, no responsible strategist with the ear of any GOP funder would have advised to keep pumping money into Ganahl’s lost cause–especially at the expense of races like the Eighth Congressional District, where a few million dollars might have gone much farther in support of Barb Kirkmeyer.

Like self-funding lost cause Joe O’Dea, Wells was a fool easily parted with lots of his money.

May both of them learn lessons from the losses they were unable to cut.

Why Republicans Couldn’t See Ganahl Train Wreck Coming

Heidi Ganahl, who helped Colorado Republicans turn defeat into disaster in 2022.

Ernest Luning of the Colorado Springs Gazette’s political blog took a long-form look at the aftermath of the Colorado Republican Party’s calamitous 2022 midterm elections, as the party’s right-wing base demands heads roll for not supporting “America First candidates,” and the party’s funders and strategists who got exactly the candidates they wanted try to get their collective heads around why it didn’t work a third consecutive time.

The general consensus is that the worst-performing statewide Republican candidate on the ballot in Colorado this year, gubernatorial loser Hiedi Heidi Ganahl, dragged the entire Republican ticket downward by several crucial points that made the difference in downballot races. This is notable since the Republican U.S. Senate primary featured a number of candidates with some institutional support who unwisely chose the caucus path to the ballot, but Ganahl faced only perennial weirdo Greg Lopez in the June 28th primary after edging out upstart challenger Danielle Neuschwanger.

Although Ganahl tried to glom onto the false post-primary spin that “moderates” had prevailed, it was clear from the outset that Ganahl was making no attempt to actually change course from her message to GOP primary voters that she was “the MAGA candidate Colorado has been waiting for.”

While nearly all the Republicans’ statewide nominees rejected election deniers — secretary of state nominee Pam Anderson, who beat Peters in the primary, largely based her campaign on her contention that Colorado’s elections are safe and secure — this year’s top-ticket GOP candidate bookended her candidacy by casting doubt on the integrity of elections, and voters rewarded her with a landslide loss.

Outgoing University of Colorado Regent Heidi Ganahl spent more than a year winking and nodding at election conspiracy theories and closed out her bid by cozying up to some of the most prominent theorists…

It’s been 32 years since a GOP gubernatorial nominee has lost by as wide a margin in Colorado as Ganahl, who lost to Gov. Jared Polis by 19 percentage points in final, unofficial results.

The last Republican to perform as poorly as Ganahl in a governor’s race was John Andrews, the former state Senate president who lost his 1990 bid to deny Democrat Roy Romer a second term by 26 percentage points.

Chairman of the Board of the Common Sense Institute, Earl L. Wright.

The consequences of Ganahl’s failure to change course became evident in the polls through the summer and fall that showed Ganahl consistently not just losing by double digits, but substantially underperforming the other Republican at the top of the statewide ballot U.S. Senate candidate Joe O’Dea who went on to lose by several points less. Ganahl’s choice of election denier Danny Moore as her running mate underscored what was either a massive blind spot or a deliberate choice to embrace the election denial wing of the party–even as Ganahl’s campaign pretended unconvincingly that Moore was no longer an election denier.

Which brings us to the question: if Republican strategists knew they had to run to the center in order to compete, which was the strategy with O’Dea, how did Ganahl make it through the Colorado Republican Party’s nomination process with so much less competition than O’Dea? The answer is partly in Ganahl’s status as the last remaining statewide elected Republican in office. But as Erik Maulbetsch at the Colorado Times Recorder reported over the Thanksgiving holiday, there’s a more fundamental problem.

The rot goes right to the top:

The conservative Common Sense Institute (CSI) says its rigorous research provides Coloradans with facts and data-driven analysis to help make informed decisions. Yet three days after the Jan. 6 riot, CSI’s founder shared a debunked election fraud conspiracy video with insurrectionist attorney John Eastman and set a meeting to discuss it further… [Pols emphasis]

Upon receiving Wright’s email asking “Are you aware of any relevance in this?”, Eastman replied that the wild conspiracy theory had “huge relevance” and suggested they discuss it further…

The so-called Common Sense Institute, which grew out of former state Sen. Josh Penry’s political consulting business, is the Colorado GOP’s premiere establishment “stink tank” created to churn out conservative talking points on state-level issues. CSI was created in part due to a perception that the state’s traditional conservative institutions like the Independence Institute were too beholden to the radical right, in hope of keeping conservatives on messages that voters would be more receptive to like auto theft and fentanyl than election conspiracy theories and “furries” taking over public schools.

The problem appears to be that far too many Colorado Republicans, even among the party’s most influential, had the same “blind spot” as Heidi Ganahl. Ganahl dragged the entire Republican ticket downward and refused to change course even after the damage was obvious–and the best reason we can come up with as to why Republican powerbrokers didn’t see it coming is they are just as radicalized as Ganahl is.

This is a conversation the strategists don’t want to have with the party elite.

Holding up a mirror when they demand to know who’s responsible for another crushing loss.

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.




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.


“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…


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.