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

UPDATE: Going great!

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[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.

 

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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 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 |

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?

 

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“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.”

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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.

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 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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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]

Gah!nal!

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.

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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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.

 

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.

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

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.

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

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.

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”…