No Russia for You!

Three more Colorado politicians can’t go…here, anymore.

Three more prominent Colorado Democrats have been banned from entering Russia: Gov. Jared Polis, Attorney General Phil Weiser, and Congresswoman Brittany Pettersen.

As Colorado Newsline explains:

Three elected officials from Colorado are included on a new list that Russia’s Foreign Ministry released of 500 U.S. citizens banned from entering the country.

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis, Attorney General Phil Weiser and U.S. Rep. Brittany Pettersen of Lakewood, all Democrats, are named on the list alongside other government officials, journalists, professors and historians, and arms company leaders who have supported Ukraine…

…The Russian ministry’s statement said the new entry bans come as the Biden administration “regularly imposes personal anti-Russia sanctions … to create as much hardship for Russia as possible.”

Polis and Weiser were not exactly heartbroken by the news:


Polis, Weiser, and Pettersen join a long list of other local and national officials who have shown support for Ukraine amid the country’s invasion by Russia — and subsequently suffered the great tourism ban as a result.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



Get More Smarter on Friday (May 19)

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




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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

McCarthy faces another potential problem of his own creation:

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

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

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

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


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


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


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

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

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

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


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


Click below to keep learning things…




The Get More Smarter Podcast Legislative Wrap Up

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

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

Listen to previous episodes of The Get More Smarter Podcast at

Questions? Comments? Complaints? Let us have it at

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

Polis, Dems Deliver Bigly On Gun Violence Prevention In 2023

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

At long last, let the word go forth.

Republicans Celebrate “Right to Repair” That They Opposed

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

Now, compare that paragraph with this one:

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

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

D mVn

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

Former State Sen. Greg Brophy (R).

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Look how easy it is to steal this car!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Debate Diary: The Wacky Race for State Republican Party Chair

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

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

The candidates are:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Democrats are Very Good AND Republicans are Very Bad

WEDNESDAY UPDATE: The tide keeps turning…


Governor Jared Polis

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

Nearly four months later, the answer seems pretty clear.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Via Bulwark (2/21/23)

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

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

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

And immigration?

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

Writes Nowrasteh:

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

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

President Biden in Kiev, Ukraine


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

Via Rolling Stone (2/20/23)

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

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

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

 — Kevin McCarthy in March 2022

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

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

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

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

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

The answer is simple: “Yes.”

GOP Glee Over IRS TABOR Snafu Says a Mouthful

Gov. Jared Polis (D).

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

AwPzlELzy R oFbY Y YjAyhsm

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

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


UPDATE: Going great!


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

Oh Captains, My Captains!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

Listen to previous episodes of The Get More Smarter Podcast at

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

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?



“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.

LdrM RbbPnHS luiirX R

Gov. Jared Polis’ Second Inaugural Party Day Thread

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

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

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

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


UPDATE: Watch live:


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

Heidi Ganahl Can’t Stop Not Stopping

Walker Stapleton, seen here in late November 2018.

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

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

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

September 24, 2022

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

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

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

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


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

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


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

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

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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Listen to previous episodes of The Get More Smarter Podcast at

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

Get More Smarter on Friday (Dec. 2)

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




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

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


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

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


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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


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

The Dream Team: Steve Wells and Heidi Ganahl

That was all nonsense.

As The Colorado Sun reports:

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

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

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

Sure thing, Steve. We all totally believe you.


Click below to keep learning things…


Winners and Losers of the 2022 Election (Part 2)

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

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


The 2022 “Extinction Level Event” for Republicans


The Losingest Losers of 2022



Winners and Losers from the 2022 Election (Part 1)

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

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


The Winningest Winners of 2022



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


Felix Lopez

Er, maybe not.

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


Lisa Cutter and Tammy Story

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

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

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


Steve Fenberg

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


Jared Polis 

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


Michael Bennet

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


Most Colorado Media Outlets

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

Kyle Clark of 9News

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Residents of CO-03

Enough of this, thanks.

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

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


Non-Republican Polling Outfits 

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


Colorado’s Election System

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

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



Mike Lynch 

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


Women in the General Assembly

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


Yadira Caraveo

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


Brittany Pettersen

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


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…



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.