Joe O’Dancing on Abortion Rights

The results of the 2022 election could very well hinge on the issue of abortion rights, particularly if the U.S. Supreme Court ends up overturning Roe v. Wade this summer.

Republicans know that this is a problem for them, which is why the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) has been advising anyone who will listen that they should focus talking points on the “leaked opinion” from the Supreme Court rather than discussing abortion rights in general. Americans support abortion rights by a 2-to-1 margin, and those numbers are even larger in Colorado.

Here in Colorado, smart Republicans know that this is a big problem for them in November, but it’s going to be a tough topic to square with the Republican base. For one thing, many Republican candidates legitimately believe in their opposition to abortion rights. Some GOP candidates oppose abortion rights but won’t talk about it. And then there’s Republican Senate candidate Joe O’Dea…who dances himself dizzy whenever the subject comes up.

On Saturday, Joe O’Dancing was a guest of right-wing talk show host Jimmy Sengenberger on KNUS radio. Late in the interview, Sengenberger asked Mr. O’Dancing where he stood on the issue of abortion, particularly in the wake of the news that Roe v. Wade could be overturned. Tell the DJ that he can start the music:

SENGENBERGER: Are you not pro life? Where do you fall on the issue of abortion?

O’DEA: It’s a really complicated issue. It really is. I’m adopted, I’m Catholic, and personally, I am very pro-life. But at the same time I’ve grown up, all my life, thinking government doesn’t need to be involved in our lives. [Pols emphasis] And so, I, right now, in my mind, I would not support overturning Roe v. Wade. I don’t believe that’s the right thing for Coloradans.

At the same time, we’ve got this bill that just came through the House – the Gold Dome – that’s supported by all Democrats that would approve late-term abortions, and I can’t get my head around that. This is a very complicated issue for a lot of Coloradans, and I don’t think it’s as simple as 100% pro choice, 100% pro life. You know, all of us have different experiences in our lives, and so, you know, we need to be able to rely on ourselves. And that’s where I land.

SENGENBERGER: And so, in the context of more compassionate than some on the far right, what does that mean in your…

O’DEA: Well, there’s some people that just draw the line and say, ‘pro-life, every day, all day,’ and there’s others who say, ‘pro-choice all the way up until, you know, the baby is in the birth canal.’ I can’t support either one of those. I’ve landed in the middle, that’s where my head’s at, and that’s where I’ve always been.

SENGENBERGER: I think when we look at Colorado, it’s an interesting state in that regard. I think that there are restrictions on abortion that we must pass in Colorado that are much more practical than anything that…a lot of times, people think, ‘well, we need to go for Personhood amendment.’ I think there are other ways to approach that in a state like Colorado in that regard…

O’DEA: It’s an extremely complicated issue, and everybody has different experiences and they’re coming at it differently. At the core of it, government needs to get out of our lives, so that’s kind of where I’m going to land.

SENGENBERGER: But more restrictions on abortion than we have in Colorado?

O’DEA: Right now, yes. That last law is outrageous.

Whoa, there, Joe — you’re gonna pull a muscle dancing around like that.

Ron Hanks would not say any of the things that Joe O’Dancing just said.

Joe O’Dea literally said all of these things over the span of about 90 seconds:

“Personally, I am very pro-life.”

“You know, all of us have different experiences in our lives, and so, you know, we need to be able to rely on ourselves.”

♦ “At the core of it, government needs to get out of our lives

♦ “Right now, yes,” Colorado needs to have more abortion restrictions in the law.

The Colorado Reproductive Health Equity Act (RHEA), which would allow women access to abortion rights even if Roe v. Wade is overturned, is quote, “outrageous.”

If we were Republican Senate candidate Ron Hanks, we’d be cutting this up for a June Primary ad right now (of course, if we were Ron Hanks, we also wouldn’t have a lot of money for things like “television ads”).

This isn’t the first time that Joe O’Dancing has taken multiple different positions on the issue of abortion in the same interview. It is certainly a bit confounding that he keeps making the same mistake over and over again.

In his quest to stay in an untenable “center” on abortion rights, Joe O’Dea ends up just being nowhere at all. And he already let the horse out of the barn anyway. Once you say, “personally, I am very pro-life,” you’ve planted your flag on abortion rights — no matter how many times you add that “this is a complicated issue.”

Where does Joe O’Dea stand on the issue of abortion rights?

Right here.

Republicans Instructed Not to Talk About Abortion

If you’ve been following the reaction to the news that Roe v. Wade is likely about to be overturned, you might have noticed a consistent narrative from Republicans that has nothing to do with abortion at all. Here’s a good example from Arkansas Republican Attorney General Leslie Rutledge:

 

Let’s ignore the lunacy of this argument — that leaking a draft decision from the Supreme Court is comparable to the Jan. 6 insurrection — because the more important part is what Rutledge is NOT saying. She and other Republicans are largely going out of their way to avoid even talking about abortion, which is a bit odd considering that overturning Roe v. Wade would be a YUGE victory for the GOP base.

Republican leaders don’t want to talk about abortion, at all, because they know that the majority of Americans do not agree with overturning Roe v. Wade. Just last week, a poll from The Washington Post and ABC News found that voters support maintaining abortion rights by a 2-to-1 margin.

As Axios first reported on Tuesday, a memo from the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) makes it explicitly clear that Republicans should focus on the “leak” and ignore the impact of a pending SCOTUS decision on abortion rights. Here’s the first “sample statement” suggested by the NRSC (click here to read the NRSC memo in its entirety):

“This is a draft opinion, so we will wait to see what the final decision of the Supreme Court is in the coming months. The leak of this document is troubling and is indicative of the Radical Left’s mission to undermine the institution of the Supreme Court and ultimately pack the Court with liberal judges who will rubber stamp the Democrats’ radical agenda. It’s wrong and the leaker should be found, fired and potentially prosecuted.”

Nowhere in that sample statement does it indicate that Republicans should support a potential reversal of Roe v. Wade or express agreement on rolling back abortion rights. In fact, if you just read that statement without any context or background information, it wouldn’t be clear what issue was even being discussed.

It speaks volumes that Republicans are taking such pains to avoid talking about something that they have told their base for decades that they are working to support.

The GMS Podcast: Get Off the People’s Lawn! (feat. Christy Powell)

This week in episode 106 of the Get More Smarter Podcast, your hosts Jason Bane and Ian Silverii welcome back Christy Powell, last week’s wildly-popular guest host, for a new segment breaking down the latest questionable spending in fundraising reports for federal campaigns in Colorado.

Later, we listen in as Republican gubernatorial candidates Greg Lopez and Hiedi Heidi Ganahl explain how THEY would have gotten control of the May 2020 riots in Denver [Spoiler Alert: They would have basically used a stern voice with protestors]. We also do our best to decipher a celebratory video from CO-08 Republican candidate Lori Saine.

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

Questions? Comments? Complaints? Let us have it at AngryRants@getmoresmarter.com.

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Joe O’Dea Loves Him Some Unqualified Judges

We noted earlier today that you might want to be particularly nice to transportation workers in the near future after a federal mask mandate was overturned by a Florida judge. U.S. District Judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle of the Middle District of Florida ruled on Monday that a federal mask mandate “exceeds the statutory authority of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.”

This prompted a social media response from Republican Senate candidate Joe O’Dea targeting incumbent Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet:

 

But as Newsweek explains, Bennet had a very good reason for not supporting the nomination of Mizelle, who was nominated by then-President Donald Trump in August 2020:

Trump’s nomination of Mizelle drew criticism from some in the legal community. At the time, the American Bar Association (ABA) wrote in a letter to Senators Lindsey Graham and Dianne Feinstein they determined she was “not qualified” for the position. [Pols emphasis]

In the letter, the ABA wrote Mizelle began to practice law eight years earlier — a “departure” from the 12-year minimum the ABA’s committee uses as a benchmark for determining qualifications of nominees — and that she had not tried a case as lead or co-counsel.

O’Dea is trying to earn some political points for attacking Bennet here, but it’s a bad look for the Denver developer. O’Dea is basically saying that he’s totally fine with confirming unqualified judges to high court appointments…which is a weird position to take.

In a Republican Senate Primary against a far-right opponent like State Rep. Ron Hanks, perhaps O’Dea seems some strategic value in confirming that he would be a rubber stamp for conservative nominees to any judgeship. The problem, of course, is that a General Election audience will be significantly less enthusiastic about O’Dea’s apparent disinterest in “qualifications.”

Federal Fundraising Numbers to Watch: Q1 2022

Quarterly fundraising reports for federal campaigns were due by midnight on Friday. Since many of you had signed off for the weekend long before that time, we’ll break down everything you need to know below…

U.S. Senate

Incumbent Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet maintains his sizable fundraising lead over the rest of the field of Senate hopefuls.

The numbers for Ron Hanks are interesting for a non-obvious reason. Yes, Hanks isn’t raising diddly squat for his campaign, but it also appears as though he’s not really trying to fundraise. Only 11 individual contributors appear on Hanks’s fundraising report; Bennet, by comparison, has hundreds of individual contributors. We suppose it’s possible that Hanks is just really bad at fundraising, but the limited number of contributors suggests that Hanks is intentionally choosing to do other things with his time. Hanks may be hoping for more unsolicited donations now that he is the top line candidate on the June Primary ballot, which is sorta what happened for 2016 Republican Senate nominee Darryl Glenn. Hanks also knows that if he wins the GOP Primary, he’ll get national fundraising help to some degree.

Joe O’Dea does appear to be raising money in the traditional manner — just not a lot of it. His numbers would be pretty good if he were running for a seat in the House of Representatives, but this is a weak quarter for a Senate candidate. Again, fundraising is likely to be a lot easier for O’Dea now that the GOP field is down to just he and Hanks, but this isn’t a great sign for a candidate who has more of a name ID problem than his Republican opponent.

Three other former Republican Senate candidates committed the cardinal sin in politics of losing with money in the bank. Gino Campana ($625k), Eli Bremer ($150k), and Deborah Flora ($209k) all failed to qualify for the June Primary ballot via the assembly process, which puts an end to their 2022 campaigns but does not zero out their candidate bank accounts.

 

CO-03

Incumbent Republican Rep. Lauren “Q*Bert” Boebert continues to raise a lot money…but she’s also spending a good deal of her coin as well. Her opponent in the June Primary, Don Coram, isn’t doing well on the fundraising front and will likely need to rely on spending from third-party groups to boost his name ID and/or weaken Boebert.

As for the Democrats, Sol Sandoval continues to burn through her money at an alarming rate. Sandoval’s fundraising hasn’t been bad — she has pulled in more than $800k for her campaign thus far — but she has also spent more than $700k. The “poop guy,” Alex Walker, raised nearly $130k in just about one month, which would put him on a decent trajectory if he were able to maintain this pace. Adam Frisch, meanwhile, is sitting on $1.66 million in the bank — most of it coming from people named Adam Frisch.

 

CO-05

Challenger Dave Williams had a decent fundraising quarter, though he has a long way to go in order to catch up to what incumbent Rep. Doug Lamborn has in the bank. Lamborn’s $82,955 Q1 is pretty weak, but it’s not much less than what he normally raises in a given quarter. Money likely won’t play that big of a role in the June Primary, which will mostly be a battle over a smaller group of consistent Republican voters.

 

CO-07

Democrat Brittany Pettersen turned in a solid first fundraising quarter, trailing only Boebert for the lead among candidates for the U.S. House in Colorado. Republican Tim Reichert technically reported more money in contributions, but $500k came in the form of a personal check. [Side note: Reichert laughably claimed in a press release that “70%” of his donations came from Coloradans…a figure that includes 100% of all Tim Reicherts in the state].

The other two Republicans in the race are struggling on the money front. Erik Aadland had a not-completely-terrible contribution number, but he spent most of it and now has very little left in the bank. Laurel Imer, meanwhile, would likely be trailing her opponents in a race for the STATE House of Representatives.

 

CO-08

This entire list might qualify as the biggest surprise of the first quarter. Congressional district eight is a brand new congressional district with no incumbent in the way, yet no candidate is really crushing it on the fundraising front. Democrat Yadira Caraveo has the most in the bank, and she should be able to build on that lead now that she doesn’t have an opponent in the June Primary.

Republican Lori Saine, who earned top line on the June Primary ballot, seems to be taking a similar approach to that of Ron Hanks in the U.S. Senate race; Saine only has about 30 total contributions, which indicates that she isn’t putting any real time or effort into fundraising. Saine has good enough name ID in a four-way Primary that being a top fundraiser isn’t as important as it might be for other candidates.

Fellow Republican Barbara Kirkmeyer dropped the biggest turd of the bunch, though perhaps her low numbers indicate that she expects outside groups (such as Americans for Prosperity) to do the heavy lifting on her behalf. Meanwhile, Jan Kulmann’s numbers are fairly weak for someone who touts strong connections to the oil and gas industry. Tyler Allcorn produced a better quarter than we would have expected, though it helps to be able to write yourself a big check; still, Allcorn’s numbers indicate that he may have enough resources to play a spoiler role in June.

 

Rick Scott and Kristi Burton Brown Talk Around U.S. Senate Race

Florida Republican Senator Rick Scott is the 2022 Chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC), which means it is his job to ensure that Republicans take majority control of the U.S. Senate in 2022. Scott was in Colorado this week to meet with Republicans and pretend to be excited about GOP Senate candidates Ron Hanks and Joe O’Dea.

Scott joined Colorado Republican Party Chair Kristi Burton Brown (KBB) for a five-minute interview with Matt Mauro of Fox 31 News. We didn’t learn a whole lot from this interview, other than that neither Scott nor KBB really want to talk about Hanks or O’Dea. Instead, they promised to remain neutral:

SCOTT: “We’ve got two very good candidates, but look, the voters of Colorado are going to choose the person that they want to represent them. I know one of those individuals is going to be the next U.S. Senator. I’m going to do everything I can to make sure we win this seat. I’ll be back here, working hard to make sure we win.”

Mauro tried to press both Scott and KBB on the importance of finding a Republican candidate who is “electable,” but neither would take the bait:

KBB: “Well, you know Matt, I think electability is exactly the question. And that’s what Republicans across Colorado will get to decide in the Primary in June. We need to chose a Republican who is going to send Michael Bennet packing…

…Republican voters will choose that [person] in June, and we’ll go on to defeat Michael Bennet.”

Very insightful.

Mauro then asked Scott about infighting within the GOP, particularly a back-and-forth between Scott and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell regarding Scott’s ridiculous policy proposals, which include a plan TO RAISE TAXES ON ALL AMERICANS.

Scott responded by…talking about Glenn Youngkin?

Let’s look at the Glenn Youngkin race. Biden won that state a year ahead of time by 10 points. And then we won the governor’s race. So that’s going to go on all across the country. [We] almost won the governor’s race in New Jersey. And look at these school board races – Republicans are winning all across the country. 

Glenn Youngkin was elected Governor of Virginia in November 2021, which apparently means that all Republican candidates will now win in every state in 2022. Also, please don’t ask Scott about how he wants to raise everyone’s taxes.

The rest of the conversation is mostly standard rhetoric about the horribleness of President Biden and Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Denver), but we did want to share Scott’s interesting pronouncement of “Coloradans”:

 

We’re not sure how we would explain the point of this interview, since neither Scott nor KBB so much as muttered the names “Ron Hanks” or “Joe O’Dea.”

In fairness, it’s hard to talk about Hanks without discussing the “Big Lie,” and it’s difficult to speak about O’Dea because nobody knows who he is.

But hey, Glenn Youngkin!

Joe O’Dea Sticks to the Far-Right Lane

Ron Hanks and Joe O’Dea

After last weekend’s debacle that was the State Republican Party Assembly, only two GOP candidates remain in the race for U.S. Senate: State Rep. Ron Hanks and businessman Joe O’Dea. Differentiating between the two finalists may be a harder task for Republicans than we might have thought.

Hanks is the center of gravity in this race, something he confirmed with his shutout victory at the state assembly on Saturday. O’Dea qualified for the June Primary ballot via the petition process, and staying away from the state assembly could have provided him an opportunity to chart more of a moderate path forward.

Except, that’s not at all what Joe O’Dea is doing.

First, from Sean Price at the Colorado Times Recorder:

At a candidate meet-and-greet in Westminster Monday, Denver businessman and Republican U.S. Senate candidate Joe O’Dea refused to speak with the Colorado Times Recorder, saying that he is not speaking to Democrats.

“I’m not talking to Democrats,” O’Dea said [Pols emphasis] when approached for an interview. The Colorado Times Recorder is a nonpartisan news outlet whose coverage reflects a progressive perspective, as explained on our website.

We get that O’Dea is still pretty new to this whole “being a candidate for public office” thing, but it’s never a good idea to vocalize the idea that you don’t plan on even having a conversation with a Democrat in Colorado. Whoever wins the Republican Primary in June will face off against incumbent Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet, who is definitely focused on talking to all Colorado voters, regardless of political affiliation.

Perhaps O’Dea believes that his checkbook does enough talking to Democrats that he doesn’t have to get involved:

But O’Dea, who owns a construction company and an event center in Denver, has let his money talk to Democrats.

He’s supported candidates from the Democratic Party since 2010, according to reports from Colorado’s Secretary of State TRACER database.

Since 2009, O’Dea has made monetary campaign donations to 13 candidates for public office in Colorado. Five of those 13 were Democrats, including then-Gov. John Hickenlooper (D-CO) in his 2014 reelection campaign.

We have no doubt that Hanks will make plenty sure that Colorado Republicans are aware of O’Dea’s contributions to Democratic candidates over the years. O’Dea may be trying to make up for this history by positioning himself firmly to the right on every issue possible.

O’Dea was a guest on The Leland Conway Show on KHOW radio on Monday, and he definitely let his (right-wing) freak flag fly. Conway asked O’Dea about eliminating federal departments; O’Dea replied that the first thing he would do is get rid of the Department of Education:

 

O’DEA: I think I’d get rid of [the Department of] Education. [Pols emphasis] I think we proved that here in Colorado through COVID, right? We finally got to look and see what our kids our learning. Parents around this state took it back. They took it seriously. We turned over school boards.

 

Conway then went on a rant about other federal agencies that could be combined or eliminated, and O’Dea was right there with him!

CONWAY: I think we could also probably roll like, the Department of Interior, the EPA, and the BLM all together in to one department, you know, the ‘office of the environment’ or whatever you’d want to call it. That could all work together as one. You could probably pare that back to one-third the size. When you talk about pruning the tree of government, there’s a lot of it. I don’t think people quite realized what our Founders intended in terms of how little the government was really ever supposed to do in our lives.

O’DEA: Oh, you’re spot on. You asked me what the first thing I would do…the second week I’d start going through the next bureaucracies. [Pols emphasis] And I think [by] the third week, you start getting good at it and we start hacking this thing back to a manageable size. We don’t need to be paying for all this.

Joe O’Dea wants to go to Washington D.C. and just start chopping stuff down.

There’s really only one of two things that could be happening here: 1) O’Dea thinks he needs to stay to the far right in order to get through the June Primary, particularly given his Democratic donor history; or 2) This is what Joe O’Dea really, actually believes.

Maybe there was never going to be an internal campaign conversation about Joe O’Dea moving toward the middle. As it turns out, O’Dea isn’t acting like a right-wing Republican at all.

A moderate O’Dea? No way.

The GMS Podcast: For a Better Circus, Add More Clowns

This week in episode 105 of the Get More Smarter Podcast, your hosts Jason Bane and Ian Silverii guest host Christy Powell spend an entire episode breaking down the fantastic disaster that was last weekend’s Republican Party state assembly. Which other Republicans are dancing alongside Secretary of State nominee Tina Peters?

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

Questions? Comments? Complaints? Let us have it at AngryRants@getmoresmarter.com.

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Republicans Realizing The Depth of Their “Big Lie” Problem

Ron Hanks is pushing a narrative that is right on target for the GOP base in 2022.

We’ve written at length in this space about Republican U.S. Senate candidate Ron Hanks — specifically that he is the “center of gravity” in the large GOP field vying for the opportunity to challenge incumbent Sen. Michael Bennet in November. It seems that Colorado Republicans are finally coming around to the fact that Hanks is a very real problem for them in 2022…yet at the same time, they remain so terrified of the GOP base that they can’t help but admire Hanks’s dedication to the gospel of the “Big Lie.”

Last weekend’s county assembly meetings in Colorado proved — again — that the Republican base in Colorado is still more interested in conspiracy theories and “owning the liberals” than it is in selecting candidates who can win in a General Election. Even House Minority Leader Hugh McKean couldn’t get enough support to make the Primary ballot via the assembly process.

Reality is irrelevant for the GOP base. If you can come up with a cute slogan that employs a clever trigger word, then you have everything you need to win a Republican Primary in 2022. Consider Dr. Rae Ann Weber, an unknown Republican who took TOP LINE at the El Paso County GOP assembly by promising to be a “constitutional coroner” and pledging to fight back against mask and vaccine mandates (for dead people?) What, exactly, is a “constitutional coroner”? Your guess is as good as ours.

The power of the Republican base was a major topic of discussion following the assemblies. On Monday, former District Attorney George Brauchler was filling in for Peter Boyles on “The Peter Boyles Show” on KNUS radio, with former Republican Party Chair Dick Wadhams participating as a guest, when the topic turned to Hanks:

 

BRAUCHLER: And I also see, I’m guessing here, Ron Hanks. I see Ron Hanks pulling out the lion’s share of whatever vote can be had at the assembly, largely because they speak to the…I guess to the folks that are more likely to be there. [Pols emphasis] Am I crack-smoke crazy on that, Dick?

WADHAMS: You know, I anticipate the same thing, George. Pam [Anderson] is not going to go through the assembly – she submitted petitions. The Senate race, other than Joe O’Dea, all of the Senate candidates are going through the assembly. So that could be a wild afternoon in the Senate race. But I do agree with you that Ron Hanks probably starts with an advantage among delegates because he is the one candidate in the race that really does represent that view of the stolen election. Um, the others are not. So we’ll see how that plays out.

BRAUCHLER: I disagree, strongly, with the stolen election thing, but I respect his willingness to at least come out and say it. [Pols emphasis] So many of the other candidates for office, and you’ve seen this, want to dance around and finesse the issue. Like, ‘Well, I don’t want to sound like I’m so extremist still, but I can’t really alienate…’ At least Ron Hanks comes out and says, ‘It was stolen, I truly, blah, blah.’ At least he gives us that to make a decision from…I do think that’s a good thing. I want to know where candidates stand more than I want them to give an answer that doesn’t offend. Because what offends me is not answering the question.

Ron Hanks, the center of gravity

We recognized a long time ago that Hanks was a serious threat to win the Republican Senate Primary because he was speaking directly to the GOP base, but apparently folks like Brauchler needed to see it for themselves at the county assemblies. The most telling part of the conversation, however, is when Brauchler acknowledges that he “respects” the fact that Hanks is willing to say that the 2020 election was stolen from Donald Trump.

This is precisely the reason that Colorado Republicans are in such a political pickle in 2022. 

It is the same reason that Congressperson Lauren “Q*Bert” Boebert (R-ifle) has become the face of the Colorado Republican Party despite the fact that her entire existence seems to be centered only around getting attention on social media. Republicans who are not prone to mindless conspiracy theories were happy to support outspoken politicians like Hanks and Boebert, but by encouraging this behavior — or at the very least not bothering to condemn it — they allowed these same people to use their nonsense rhetoric to fuel their own political rise. Hanks is definitely a problem for the GOP — but he’s a problem of their own creation.

More rational people in the Republican Party know what is happening to them…they just don’t do anything about it. Take a look at what Wadhams wrote in a column for The Denver Post earlier this month:

Unaffiliated voters might be rejecting the Biden presidency and Democratic control of Congress and the state legislature but if they are faced with Republican candidates who are Trump clones parroting “Big Lie” stolen election conspiracy theories, they will be driven right back to Democratic candidates.

Unaffiliated voters will be looking for real answers from Republican candidates on the real issues of inflation, crime and Covid shutdowns. They do not want to hear about stolen election conspiracy theories that make Republican candidates look like unserious buffoons. [Pols emphasis]

George Brauchler

Right. Yet just this week, George Brauchler is talking on the radio about how he respects Ron Hanks for being brave enough to lie to people, and Wadhams says nothing in response.

Hanks is a relatively-unknown state lawmaker from Cañon City who doesn’t appear to have the ability to raise any money, but he can get his name on the June Primary ballot just by screaming incessantly about Dominion Voting machines and paper ballots and election audits. Hanks is even using HIS OWN PRIVATE FOOTAGE from the Jan. 6 insurrection as a selling point for his candidacy. At Republican Senate candidate forums, Hanks regularly elicits the loudest response from the audience whenever he starts talking about the “Big Lie.” Hanks has a good chance of making the Primary ballot at the GOP state assembly next month, and from there anything can happen (just ask Darryl Glenn).

It was about this time last year when the Colorado Republican Party was looking for a new Chairperson. Every last one of the main contenders for the job ran on a “Big Lie” platform. The eventual winner, Kristi Burton Brown (KBB), went so far as to say, “The Republican Party will never go back to the pre-Trump era.”

People like KBB and Boebert have used the “Big Lie” to gain support and influence within the Republican Party, so it should surprise nobody that politicians such as Hanks and Mesa County Clerk and Recorder Tina Peters (now running for Secretary of State) are following the same script.

As we’ve said again and again, words matter. Voters in Colorado have heard Republicans loud and clear.

Wikipedia #FAIL for Ron Hanks

Pretty much anybody can make Wikipedia edits, though not with a pen.

State Representative Ron Hanks (R-Cañon City) is a busy guy. In his day job as a state lawmaker, Hanks spends a lot of time trying to get legislation to be discussed (with no hope of passage) that would fix all of the 2020 election fraud that never happened in Colorado. Hanks is a true believer in the “Big Lie,” having attended the Jan. 6 insurrection and repeatedly stated that it is his belief that Donald Trump actually won the 2020 Presidential election.

When he’s not on the clock at the State Capitol, Hanks is running a campaign for the Republican U.S. Senate nomination, speaking to Republicans who consider his election conspiracy ideas to be much more palatable. Hanks feeds red meat to a hungry right-wing base and generally gets plenty of applause for doing so.

Hanks is focused on getting enough Republican support to get his name on the June Primary ballot. Someone in his orbit is also trying to convince the world that his “Big Lie” beliefs are worth serious consideration by the rest of the non-right-wing universe. Recently, someone who might be Ron Hanks or might just be a big fan of Ron Hanks (we know where we’d place our bet) tried to make some fairly silly changes to Hanks’s Wikipedia page. For example:

At around 7:15 pm on Feb. 8, a Wikipedia user tried to make a few changes to Hanks’s page. One edit changed “Hanks has questioned the results of the election and promoted false claims of election fraud” to “Hanks has questioned the results of the election and promoted credible claims of election fraud.” [CLICK HERE to see the comparison of edits on Wikipedia].

Another edit changed “since Joe Biden defeated Donald Trump…” to “since Joe Biden cheated Donald Trump…” That same paragraph was also edited to say that “MyPillow Guy” Mike Lindell’s election conspiracy theories were “credible.”

Just before midnight on Feb. 8, a few more changes were attempted in order to, er, clarify Hanks’s presence in Washington D.C. on insurrection day.

One edit changed a section stating that “Hanks participated in the January 6, 2021, attack on the United States Capitol and that ‘people had already entered the building’ by the time he arrived at a designated meeting area.” The attempted changes sought to read, “Hanks attended the January 6, 2021, rally at the ellipse, by the time he arrived at the Capitol he said that “people had already entered the building.” [CLICK HERE to see the comparison of edits on Wikipedia]

[Side note: This explanation is similar to how Colorado Springs Gazette editorial page editor Wayne Laugesen and his wife, Dede Laugesen, explain their appearances at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.]

In that same edit, someone also removed the word “conspiracy” from the sentence, “in a fundraising newsletter, Hanks continued to promote conspiracy theories regarding the certification of the 2020 election.”

Alas, all of these edits were rejected on Feb. 10 by a more senior Wikipedia user who labeled them “unconstructive.”

All of this information is publicly-available on Wikipedia. If you were so inclined, you could also use publicly-available websites to see where the IP addresses of each proposed change originated. If you went down that road, you might find that some of the edits were made from an IP address in the Cañon City area.

This might seem to be a strange use of time to most people, but it does prove once again that Ron Hanks is absolutely, positively dedicated to promoting the “Big Lie” far and wide.

In Colorado — in 2022 — that dedication just might be enough to win Hanks the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate.

New “Big Line: 2022” Updates

With all of the fundraising reports from 2021 now available, we took a moment to make some adjustments to The Big Line: 2022. Here’s a brief synopsis of what changed (and what didn’t):

 

U.S. SENATE

Incumbent Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet remains the clear favorite here, so the only movement is on the Republican side. You can argue whether or not State Rep. Ron Hanks is a clear threat to Bennet given his fundraising troubles, but Hanks is following the same script that won Darryl Glenn the GOP Senate nomination in 2016. Gino Campana and Joe O’Dea look to have the most resources of all the Republican candidates, which puts them in the best position to attract undecided voters in June.

Eli Bremer and Deborah Flora drop into a lower tier after last week’s Senate debate in Lakewood showed that they don’t have anything interesting to say nor a clear strategy moving forward. Hanks, Campana, Bremer, and Flora are all going the State Assembly route for ballot access; there’s probably only room for two of them.

 

GOVERNOR

No real movement here. Hiedi Heidi Ganahl is still Hiedi Heidi Ganahl.

 

CO-03

This race will likely be decided in the June Republican Primary between Rep. Lauren “Q*Bert” Boebert and State Sen. Don Coram. Democrat Don Valdez has seen his fundraising numbers drop off significantly, while Sol Sandoval continues to spend as much money as she brings in to her campaign; both Democrats are just treading water at this point.

 

CO-07

Brittany Pettersen has cleared the Democratic field and is well-positioned to win this race. On the Republican side, State Rep. Colin Larson is probably not running, but some big Trump donor named Timothy Reichert has stepped into the fray.

 

CO-08

While the race in CO-07 seems to be getting clearer, the opposite is taking place in Colorado’s newest congressional district. Fundraising numbers for the top five hopefuls were pretty similar at the end of 2021. Both the Democratic and Republican Primaries are shaping up to be close fights. Keep an eye on Weld County Commissioner Lori Saine; if she can maintain her fundraising efforts, she’ll be in good shape to bring home the right-wing base in June. 

 

How Darryl Glenn Inspires Ron Hanks

Can I borrow a bullet?

Today is the deadline for candidates for federal office to file fundraising reports for the last quarter of 2021. Many Colorado candidates have already announced their fundraising totals for the last quarter, removing much of the suspense from today’s news, but we’ve been waiting on numbers for one particular candidate: Republican U.S. Senate hopeful Ron Hanks.

Those numbers are now in, and they are not good.

The Cañon City Republican raised a mere $16,000 in Q4 and finished 2021 with just $13,333 in the bank. These would be disappointing numbers for a STATE Senate candidate. For any other U.S. Senate candidate not named Ron Hanks, this sort of fundraising quarter would be completely devastating. But Hanks exists in a different world than the rest of the GOP field for Senate.

The last time Republicans battled it out for the chance to take on incumbent Democratic Senator Michael Bennet (D-Denver) was in 2016, when little-known El Paso County Commissioner Darryl Glenn ended up capturing the GOP nomination for U.S. Senate despite a similar inability to raise money. As bad as Hanks did on the fundraising front in Q4 (2021), he actually raised more money than Glenn over a similar period of time:

None of the numbers in the chart above are at all impressive, but they are still instructive. Glenn wasn’t trying to win the money race in 2016, either, and he still ended up with the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate.

Six years ago, the general consensus heading into the State GOP Assembly was that State Sen. Tim Neville would dominate the grassroots vote while other candidates — including Jon Keyser, Jack Graham, Robert Blaha, and Ryan Frazier — battled it out for Primary ballot access via the petition process. Neville ended up tanking at the State Assembly and opening the door for Glenn, who stunningly captured first place — and top line on the June Primary ballot — after delivering a fiery speech on the day of the vote.

Glenn’s fundraising numbers jumped after his Assembly win and subsequent endorsements from folks like Texas Sen. Ted Cruz. While Keyser, Graham, Blaha, and Frazier all managed to limp through the petition process and make the ballot, Glenn maintained his insider momentum and walked away with a surprisingly-robust victory in the June Primary.

Hanks is following a similar path to the one blazed by Glenn in 2016. As we noted in our Republican Senate candidate “Debate Diary” last week, Hanks is clearly the candidate drawing the most enthusiastic response from the Republican base. The big difference between 2022 and 2016 is that most of the GOP candidates this time around will seek ballot access through the assembly process; only Denver businessman Joe O’Dea appears to be going the petition route.

Hanks has long been the center of gravity in the race for the 2022 Republican Senate nomination, and for good reason. Following the 2020 election, Colorado Republicans continued to support former President Donald Trump and the “Big Lie,” which allowed conspiracy-minded screamers such as Rep. Lauren “Q*Bert” Boebert to define the future direction of the State GOP (even the 2021 campaign for State Party Chair focused almost entirely on gathering support from “Big Lie” adherents).

The Republican base is now dominated by election deniers — and they’re eating up what Hanks is dishing out. Hanks doesn’t need a lot of money to reach these people and convince them to support him at the State Assembly. If Hanks can make the Primary ballot through the assembly process, his fundraising problem will take care of itself.

Conventional wisdom would say that Hanks can’t possibly win a U.S. Senate nomination with such poor fundraising results. But like 2016, these are not “conventional” times for Colorado Republicans.

Debate Diary! Republican Senate Candidate Forum in Lakewood

The Republican candidates for U.S. Senate met on Tuesday evening (Jan. 25) for a candidate forum at Colorado Christian University in Lakewood. The forum was moderated by State Republican Party Chairwoman Kristi Burton Brown and Republican political operative Michael Fields, who is presented as the “President of Advance Colorado Institute,” whatever that means. Lakewood, BTW, is located in Jefferson County, where there is still a mask mandate in place; nobody in the room appears to be wearing anything on their face other than looks of bewilderment. 

In attendance: State Rep. Ron Hanks; former Ft. Collins City Council member Gino Campana; former El Paso County GOP Chair Eli Bremer; radio personality Deborah Flora; perennial candidate Peter Yu; and some professor guy named Greg Moore. Denver businessman Joe O’Dea couldn’t make it because he is recovering from recent back surgery.

We watched the entire forum and followed the action in our typical blow-by-blow manner made popular in previous “Debate Diaries.” You can watch the verbal intercourse yourself on YouTube, or read along for our perspective below.

 

NOTE: What follows is a chronological re-hash of Tuesday’s debate. As always, unless it is in direct quotes, consider all statements paraphrased in the interest of time and/or the prevention of carpal tunnel syndrome. 

 

If you want to skip the back-and-forth and just get to our takeaways, here they are:

Ron Hanks actually seems to be the only candidate to put any real thought into an answer. A lot of what he says is insane, but it’s a considered insanity that caters to a Republican Primary electorate. If Hanks can raise even a decent amount of money, he’s going to be tough for other Republicans to dislodge.

Gino Campana is running in the traditional Colorado Republican “say nothing of substance” lane. His main goal is uttering the phrase “American dream” as many times as possible. Other than that, Campana clearly just wants to keep his head down and hope he can sneak onto the General Election ballot.

Deborah Flora would like to run in the same lane as Campana, but she struggles to make her platitudes sound coherent. Flora comes across as someone trying to give a book report based on the Cliff’s Notes.

Eli Bremer hasn’t been able to gain much traction despite being the first (plausible) Republican candidate in the race, and this debate shows why. It’s hard to take Bremer seriously on any topic; he spends most of this forum pointing out friends and family in the audience.

Peter Yu just seems like he enjoys being on a stage where people have to listen to him talk for awhile.

Greg Moore is not a serious candidate. Full stop.

 

Now, to the diary!

(more…)

Ballot Access Fight Kicks Off for GOP Senate Candidates

Ron Hanks is the center of gravity in the Republican Senate race. But Gino Campana (far left) and Joe O’Dea (far right) are fighting each other at the moment.

The Republican candidates for U.S. Senate (most of them, anyway) will gather tonight for a candidate forum at Colorado Christian University. Tonight’s event, moderated by Colorado Republican Party Chair Kristi Burton Brown, could include some interesting fireworks as contenders try to wrestle the spotlight away from State Rep. Ron Hanks (R-Cañon City).

As Ernest Luning reported last week for the publication formerly known as the Colorado Statesman, the candidates are also starting to scrap about how they plan to seek access onto the June Primary ballot:

Colorado Republican U.S. Senate candidate Gino Campana blasted primary rival Joe O’Dea on Friday after the latter announced plans to seek a spot on the June primary ballot by petition, suggesting O’Dea is too liberal to win support from GOP delegates at the state assembly.

In turn, O’Dea, the owner of a Denver-based construction company, ripped Campana, a real estate developer and former Fort Collins city council member, as a “tax-and-spend” liberal and added that he intends to compete for every vote in the primary…

…Major-party candidates can make the ballot two ways in Colorado — via the caucus and assembly process or by gathering signatures from fellow party members, something candidates were able to start doing this week. Senate and other statewide candidates can expect to pay petition firms in the neighborhood of $500,000 to collect the required 12,000 signatures this year, political consultants say.

O’Dea is the only declared Bennet challenger who has pulled petitions, leaving the others to vie for support from delegates who will be chosen at a series of party meetings starting at precinct caucuses the first week of March.

It appears that Joe O’Dea is the only Republican candidate for U.S. Senate who will seek access to the June 28 Primary via the petition process. Gino Campana is going through the assembly process, which makes sense for a lot of reasons; one of his campaign advisers is Matt Connelly, who was the spokesperson for Jon Keyser when the latter’s U.S. Senate campaign imploded in 2016 because of alleged fraud in the petition-gathering process. Nobody who was involved with Keyser’s campaign wants to ever see another petition again.

Including O’Dea and Campana, there are five plausible Republican Senate candidates (six if you include Peter Yu, and we’re not sure if we do). The Republican state assembly takes place on April 9. Petitions for ballot access, meanwhile, must be turned into the Colorado Secretary of State’s office by March 15; anybody who was considering the petition route would need to be moving on that effort by the end of this month.

In order to qualify for the Primary ballot through the assembly process, candidates must receive AT LEAST 30% of the vote on April 9. Thus, only three candidates — at most — will gain ballot access via the assembly route. More likely, two candidates will split the majority of the votes in April, which will come down to a battle between Campana, Ron Hanks, Eli Bremer, and Deborah Flora.

Who wins that four-way contest at the state assembly? Hanks probably has the crazy Trumpian election-fraud group in his corner, and recent history in Colorado suggests that group will represent a solid chunk of the voters who show up on April 9. That likely leaves Campana, Bremer, and Flora to battle it out for the rest of the assembly-goers.

With time running out, we’d expect events like tonight’s candidate forum to start getting a bit prickly.

Ron Hanks is a Monster of the GOP’s Own Creation

Ron Hanks is the center of gravity in the Republican Senate race.

Colorado Republicans are nervous about Ron Hanks. They should be.

Hanks, the state representative from Cañon City, has become the center of gravity in the race for the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate. That’s not good for Colorado Republicans, and many in the State GOP are well aware of the problem.

Again, they should be aware…they created this monster.

Colorado Republicans are desperately trying to refute the notion that Hanks could be the frontrunner in a GOP Senate Primary for the right to take on incumbent Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet in November. As The Colorado Sun reports today in its “Unaffiliated” newsletter, Sage Naumann, spokesman for the Colorado Senate GOP, flatly declared, “Ron Hanks won’t be the nominee.”

Naumann, who has fiercely rejected his party’s election conspiracies, called the notion [of Hanks as the frontrunner] “bullshit.”

Kyle Kohli, a former Colorado GOP spokesman who is now the executive director of the conservative nonprofit Compass Colorado, said Hanks is “a guy with no name ID and (in all likelihood) no money.”

Why it matters: The Colorado GOP is trying hard to stay on message this year about their efforts to increase affordability, decrease crime and improve Colorado’s education system. But members of the party, like Hanks and state Rep. Dave Williams, who keep spreading lies about the 2020 presidential election, shift the conversation away from those policy goals.

 

“The Unaffiliated” goes on to report that Hanks and State Rep. Dave Williams were primarily responsible for blowing up what House Minority Leader Hugh McKean intended to be a quiet protest on Tuesday. Instead, as Alex Burness reported for The Denver Post, it became fodder for another round of terrible headlines and pointless infighting:

Two-thirds of Colorado House GOP members voted Tuesday in favor of formally thanking state Rep. Ron Hanks and those who joined him at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 at the U.S. Capitol.

A majority of House Republicans also voted to “call into question” whether Joe Biden was legitimately elected; to urge the decertification of 2020 election results in an effort to reinstall former President Donald Trump; to support embattled Mesa County Clerk and Recorder Tina Peters, an ally of election deniers who is under investigation for allegedly allowing a security breach in her elections division; and to commit to ensuring dead people are removed from voter rolls — something for which there is already a process in Colorado.

Republican State Rep. Matt Soper is already voicing regret about his votes on Tuesday. As an editorial in The Aurora Sentinel concluded, Tuesday’s theatrics showed that the 2022 campaign cycle has already “unravelled into a grave and dangerous heap of far-right extremist deceit and delusion.”

The danger here is obvious when a majority of Republican elected officials in the House lavish praise on a dubious peer who says a thwarted effort to violently overthrow the U.S. government was carried out by “nice people” who “did nothing wrong.”

Yes, Colorado Republicans should absolutely be nervous about Hanks and his U.S. Senate candidacy. But they can’t act surprised, and they sure as hell can’t pretend that Hanks is some sort of rogue actor within the State GOP. The Colorado Republican Party is Dr. Frankenstein, and Hanks is a monster of their own creation.

Last weekend, Hanks easily won a “straw poll” following a Republican Senate candidate forum in El Paso County. You could perhaps argue as to whether Hanks is truly the “frontrunner” in a field of misfit, unknown candidates – we won’t know his Q4 fundraising numbers until the end of the month, for example – but there’s no debate that the current state of the GOP Senate race revolves around this one man.

It’s not a mystery as to how someone like Hanks could end up at the top of the pile in a U.S. Senate Primary. The Colorado GOP has been playing footsie with Trumpers and “Big Lie” adherents ever since Election Night in 2020. The Republican frontrunner for governor, Hiedi Heidi Ganahl, is so terrified of angering the Trump base that she won’t even answer straightforward questions about the legitimacy of the 2020 election.

Most of the top elected officers in the State Republican Party believe that the 2020 election was fraudulent. Those who disagree have generally refused to admit as much in public out of fear that Colorado Trumpists will turn on them. In early 2021, then-Republican Party Chair candidate Kristi Burton Brown (KBB) said flatly, “The Republican Party will never go back to the pre-Trump era.” She said this, in part, because she wanted “Big Lie” adherents to vote for her…and they did.

Did KBB know this was a bad idea for the long-term strategy for the Colorado GOP? Does it matter? What’s more important is that KBB was more than happy to trade on the “Big Lie” in order to get herself elected. Ron Hanks has every reason to be annoyed now that she’s wagging her finger at him for doing the same thing.

The reason KBB won election as State Party Chair is the same reason that Soper blindly voted to “thank” insurrectionists and why Rep. Lauren “Q*Bert” Boebert has become the heart and soul of the Colorado GOP: They beat the drum of the “Big Lie” for their own personal gain. Of course the 2022 election cycle was going to include a number of election-denier adherents as official candidates – they’re just following the example of the Republican “leaders” before them.

If you keep feeding a stray cat that wanders onto your porch, you can’t reasonably be irritated when the same cat won’t go away later.

Pro Tip: Don’t Spring a Pop Quiz After Your Political Speech

Former Ft. Collins City Council member Gino Campana is one of a handful of Republicans seeking the GOP nomination for U.S. Senate and the opportunity to lose in November to incumbent Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet. Campana is fairly new to campaigning for a bigger office, so he’s still working out the nuances of how to do things like communicating a coherent message and not boring the hell out of small crowds of people.

Campana was speaking to a group of Republicans at a U.S. Senate candidate forum/COVID-19 superspreader event on Tuesday night in Jefferson County when he decided to spring a pop quiz on the audience. It…did not go well:

You really need to listen to the audio to get the full #FAIL experience. Campana asks the crowd to essentially repeat what he just told them about himself, using a line that should never be repeated by a candidate for political office anywhere, ever again:

I’m Gino Campana, and I’m running for the U.S. Senate to do what?

After a moment of awkward silence, someone in the crowd sputters out — in a completely unintentionally-hilarious manner — “Uh, to…beat…Michael Bennet?”

Are you not entertained?

Note that Campana is pounding on the table as he asks these questions, as though making loud noises will help shake out the answers he’s looking for. Campana then prompts:

And???

This follow-up question elicits only crickets, so Campana provides the answer:

Fight for the American dream, guys. You heard it a lot tonight.

Apparently not, Gino. You might have SAID it a lot, but nobody seems to have been listening. But good call on admonishing the crowd for not paying sufficient attention to your rambling nonsense!

Should you find yourself running for political office in the near future, please: Don’t do this. You’ll thank us later.

Joe Biden Heads For Colorado Disaster Zone

 

9NEWS reports, President Joe Biden accompanied by Gov. Jared Polis, Rep. Joe Neguse of Boulder, and both of Colorado’s U.S. Senators will visit Louisville and Superior this afternoon to assess the damage from devastating wind-driven wildfires that destroyed nearly 1,000 homes one week ago:

Biden will be joined by Colorado Gov. Jared Polis (D) and Neguse (D-Colorado) on Friday’s tour. It was announced Friday morning that Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colorado) and Sen. John Hickenlooper will also join them. Both will travel with the president on Air Force One before touring fire damage and visiting with survivors…

Once in the area, the officials, also including First Lady Jill Biden, will tour an area of Louisville that was damaged by the Marshall Fire. Following the damage tour the president will meet with survivors at the Louisville Recreation & Senior Center and deliver brief remarks about the federal response to the fire.

“This week, many in the Boulder County community – throughout Superior and Louisville – are beginning the long road to recovery in the wake of the unprecedented and terrible Marshall Fire,” Neguse said in a statement.

Traffic through the Denver metro area is not expected to be disrupted, with the President taking a helicopter from Buckley Air Force Base across town to Rocky Mountain Metropolitan Airport in Jeffco. President Biden’s remarks are scheduled for 5:15PM local time (video will stream above).

All we can say is, it’s refreshing to have a presidential President in these moments of need.

Top Ten Stories of 2021 #6: Michael Bennet Finds True North

Sen. Michael Bennet (D).

A side narrative to the last fifteen years of history in Colorado politics, alongside the general trend of Democrats with the help of demographic evolution ascending to political dominance, has been a current of dissent among harder-left Democrats that the “Colorado Model” did not meet their ideological standards. A pro-life Democratic Gov. Bill Ritter elected in 2006 was succeeded in 2010 by a fossil-fuel friendly Gov. John Hickenlooper, and in the early years of Democratic control the party’s agenda was focused more on practical matters like funding health and education than hot-button social issues. At the same time, Colorado Republicans were totally focused on a repellent wedge-issue agenda that made casting them in an unfavorable light easy.

Another product of this early “Colorado Model” political emphasis on the practical over ideological stridency was Sen. Michael Bennet. Appointed by Gov. Ritter in 2009 to succeed Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, Bennet’s relatively thin resume as Denver Public Schools superintendent and chief of staff for then-Denver Mayor Hickenlooper led to the first signs of grassroots pushback against Colorado’s relatively new Democratic leadership. The “pushback” didn’t last long, of course. Bennet easily dispatched a primary challenger in 2010 who ran a bitter campaign from Bennet’s left, and then went on to narrowly hold the seat against the tide of the 2010 GOP wave election.

And then something happened that Bennet’s liberal critics did not anticipate: Bennet actually became one of the more effective progressive voices in the U.S. Senate. In 2013, Sen. Bennet was part of the “Gang of Eight” coalition that successfully passed comprehensive immigration reform legislation out of the U.S. Senate–and then of course watched as the bill died in the GOP-controlled U.S. House determined to not allow President Barack Obama any victories. Faced with enormous pressure to support U.S. Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch simply on account of geography, Bennet cast a brave and defining “no” vote. Today, Sen. Bennet is an articulate critic of the Senate’s dysfunction, and supports reforming the filibuster in order to clear the body’s self-imposed legislative logjam.

In 2019, Sen. Michael Bennet launched a presidential campaign that failed to ignite. On the campaign trail for President, however, Bennet called for among other things a dramatic expansion of the Child Tax Credit. Bennet’s vision was realized just this year by the passage of the American Rescue Plan, which started in July sending direct payments to 88% of American families with children. If the Child Tax Credit expansion can be made permanent, and as readers know that’s beyond Bennet’s control, it is projected to directly reduce child poverty by as much as 45%.

In 2010, it’s unlikely that Bennet’s critics on the left could have predicted that he would one day help bring about the greatest blow struck against child poverty since the Great Society. But it’s these accomplishments that have effectively taken the wind out of any Democratic primary challenge to Bennet in 2022. On the GOP side, the only opponent to Bennet with any legislative experience is freshman Rep. Ron Hanks, who is literally running on a platform of blowing up voting machines.

Bennet may not be the most charismatic Democrat in the caucus, but he’s earned the trust of voters that should see him through 2022 without too much drama–and from there, as long as he wants to serve.

Inside Gino Campana’s Weird New Bennet Attack

Gino Campana is a Ft. Collins businessman seeking the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate for the right to challenge incumbent Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Denver) next November. We haven’t mentioned Campana much in this space because, frankly, there isn’t a whole lot to discuss.

Campana launched his campaign in October with an online video that seemed more like a commercial for Ancestry.com than a political spot. His general narrative seems to be that he is a moderate-ish Republican businessman who is able to form sentences on his own. Campana’s big claim to fame is getting appointed to something called the Public Buildings Reform Board by former President Donald Trump — an offer that came literally within the final month of the Trump administration and thus never materialized into a real job.

Email from Gino Campana Senate campaign

Thus far, Campana has been trying to navigate inside a space that is not quite “raving lunatic Big Lie advocate” but also allows him to avoid the dreaded “RINO” label (during an interview with right-wing radio host Peter Boyles in October, Campana used about 10,000 words to — sort of — answer the question, “Did Trump win the 2020 election?”). Because nobody seems to be paying much attention to his campaign, last week Campana launched a new narrative effort targeted at Bennet that will only make a modicum of sense if you watch a crapload of Fox News.

Campana recently sent out an email to supporters calling on Sen. Bennet to condemn some thing that happened at some school in Denver that only got right-wing media attention because of a poorly-worded sign.

According to a Fox News story (via Yahoo!) from last Friday, an anti-critical race theory group called Parents Defending Education filed a civil rights complaint after Centennial Elementary school in Denver tried to do a thing:

Centennial had a sign announcing its “families of color playground night.” Earlier this week, the school defended the event in a statement provided to Fox News. “Our school leaders met with some of the Black families whose children attend our school to determine ways for these families to feel more included in our school community,” the statement said.

“Some of these families shared with us that, since the only time many of them see one another is at drop-off and pick-up times, we host some events where Black families can meet one another, connect with one another and share their experiences about the school with one another. We are honoring their request. All families are welcome to attend all of our events, and families from a variety of backgrounds have done so.” [Pols emphasis]

Campana jumped on this “woke segregation” and finagled his way onto the Jimmy Lakey Show in order to somehow blame this on Bennet:

What does this have to do with “segregation”? Absolutely NOTHING. But here’s how Campana attempts to connect the dots:

CAMPANA: [Bennet] is in a unique position to comment on this because he was the superintendent of Denver Public Schools. And these teachings didn’t happen overnight. It happened over a course of time, and he was there 15 years ago, and perhaps the seed was planted 15 years ago or six years ago.

Before being appointed to a vacant U.S. Senate seat by then-Governor Bill Ritter, Bennet served as the Superintendent of Denver Public Schools for about three and a half years (2005-09). According to Campana, the poorly-worded sign outside Centennial Elementary school is all part of a sinister plan that Bennet set in motion “15 years ago or six years ago,” and Bennet’s refusal to discuss this matter is proof that he is complicit in a broader effort to allow families of different racial backgrounds to meet together on a school playground.

What?

Look, we get what Campana is doing here: He’s attempting the same tactic that many of his Republican brethren have used for several years. In this case, the general formula is to use the word “woke” in a sentence about brown people so that you can attract support and a few bucks from ignorant racists. But Campana could appeal to the same breed of supporter by merely repeating QAnon conspiracies alleging that Bennet drinks fresh baby blood while riding around on a unicorn with Chelsea Clinton. This is a silly attack designed to appeal to the lowest common denominator of Republican voter in Colorado.

Serious candidates for serious political offices don’t spend significant chunks of time scribbling out nonsense on an etch-a-sketch board. That Campana even thinks that he can (or should) do this is a pretty strong indictment of his abilities as a politician.

If you’ve been wondering what to make of Campana as a candidate for U.S. Senate, you now have your answer.

The Pivot To Voting Rights: A Time To Be Honest

Sens. Michael Bennet, John Hickenlooper.

Colorado Newsline reporter Chase Woodruff relays the new message from U.S. Senate Democrats, who are said to be “shelving” consideration of President Joe Biden’s Build Back Better budget reconciliation bill in order to switch focus to quickly passing voting rights legislation:

Sen. John Hickenlooper of Colorado on Wednesday announced his support for “changes” to the filibuster, as Senate Democrats move to take up voting rights legislation in the final weeks of the year.

“We’ve been here almost a year, and we’ve seen enough: It’s time to change the filibuster to protect voting rights,” Hickenlooper said in a statement released by his office. “Protecting the right to vote shouldn’t be a partisan issue, and we set out to work across the aisle. But three separate voting rights bills have failed in the Senate this year.”

Hickenlooper’s announcement came as Senate Democrats signaled they would postpone consideration of President Joe Biden’s “Build Back Better” budget bill until next year, and instead move forward with legislation to protect voting rights.

News of this shift of priority to passing legislation to protect voting rights, which has always been the highest Democratic priority after passage of Build Back Better itself, comes as talks between the White House and Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia broke down this week over continued funding of the expanded Child Tax Credit–putting Manchin squarely into conflict with one of the CTC’s principal supporters, Sen. Michael Bennet of Colorado:

One of the most pivotal issues holding up progress is the child tax credit, a major Democratic Party priority that delivers aid to families and is key to the Biden administration’s effort to reduce child poverty. Manchin wants to cut the expanded child tax credit from the bill, with a source telling CNN that he wants to “zero it out.”

The Denver Post’s Alex Burness reports, we’re talking about a lot of Colorado families who will very quickly feel the pain unless the tax credit is extended:

Some 600,000 Colorado households were slated Wednesday to receive their monthly payment through the federal expanded child tax credit program.

But those families should not count on this program continuing. Unless Congress acts to extend the program — and that doesn’t appear likely in this calendar year — there’s no promise of any payments beyond those that go out Dec. 15.

If this program expires, said U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet, a Colorado Democrat who has championed this tax credit, “It’s going to make it harder for (families) to pay the rent, to pay for food, to pay for child care.”

If the push to change filibuster rules enough to get a voting rights bill through with 50+1 votes succeeds, and the latest word is that fellow recalcitrant Sen. Krysten Sinema still doesn’t support weakening the filibuster so that is not in any way assured despite Manchin’s expressed support for a voting rights bill, it would be a significant accomplishment for Democrats with practical benefits in terms of combating vote suppression going into the 2022 midterms. But with so much hanging in the balance including the biggest direct attempt to reduce childhood poverty in most of our lifetimes, the fight to fund the CTC with or without the rest of Build Back Better will be top priority in the new year.

No honest observer of this situation can characterize it as politically ideal for Democrats. The U.S. Senate 50/50 split has left the party’s agenda effectively at the mercy of its weakest links. Sens. Manchin and Sinema have done tremendous damage by protracting this intra-party struggle through the first year of Biden’s presidency, and showing voters how fractious the couldn’t-be-narrower Democratic majority coalition is. The results of the 2021 elections threw a scare into Democratic leadership, who responded by hastily passing the bipartisan roads and bridges bill–giving Biden a bankable win at the expense of weakening his negotiating position to pass Build Back Better.

What Colorado Democrats must always remember is that this is not being done by fellow Colorado Democrats like Sen. Bennet and Sen. Hickenlooper. They are victims of the weakness at the margin of this smallest possible majority like the rest of us. Manchin has kicked the legs out from under major policy priorities from both Hickenlooper and now Bennet with Manchin’s assault on the Child Tax Credit. And if Bennet or Hickenlooper “get tough on Manchin,” whatever that means but that being the battle cry of vengeful progressive activists, Manchin will simply make good on his threats to switch parties, at which point all hope of passing anything Democrats want ends.

With all of this dreary reality acknowledged, the long-term best-case scenario is still pretty good. If Democrats get meaningful voting rights protections to Biden’s desk in this priority pivot, if they return after the holidays with renewed urgency to pass Build Back Better and keep relief flowing to millions of American families…

Until that is mathematically impossible, the only option is to keep plugging away with the army they have.

“The Big Line” Is not a Poll, and Other Notes

 

Republican U.S. Senate candidate Eli Bremer was a guest on something called “The Richard Randall Show” earlier this week. We’re noting Bremer’s right-wing radio appearance here only because Colorado Pols and “The Big Line” were an early topic during the discussion. We listened to the interview and transcribed the relevant sections below…

During his introduction of Bremer, host Richard Randall opened things up with some bellyaching about “The Big Line,” which he may or may not think represents actual scientific polling results: 

RANDALL: I was doing a little bit of research on you and Greg Lopez, and I got on to “The Big Line” by ColoradoPols.com, and they’re ranking the odds for various races…

…You know, I’m looking at this poll, and it was November 5, and I think it’s B.S. And I think one of the things that I think, a lot of folks on the left, or even left-leaning media do, is that they try to make it sound as though, you know, Greg Lopez doesn’t have a snowball’s chance in hell. This Eli Bremer, hell would have to freeze over before he would ever have a chance against a great Senator like Michael Bennet who has done so much for the State of Colorado and for the nation…they’ve got him at 70%, and then they’ve got you at 20%, and then they have a bunch of other candidates who go from 20, 10, 10, 5…

I think sometimes they do that because they want people to think, these guys have no chance of winning. I’m just going to stay home. Why do I even bother with this stuff? What would you say to somebody who is starting to have that attitude?

First of all, “The Big Line” has been a feature of ColoradoPols.com since our inception in 2004. It is most definitely NOT A POLL, nor have we ever pretended otherwise. Here’s what it has said at the bottom of “The Big Line” for more than a decade:

It is an accurate, if unscientific, look at the races from insider perspectives from both parties. It does NOT reflect who we might like to see win, but reflects who has the best chance to win a General Election based on inside information and our analysis of that information.

“The Big Line” is our analysis of the changing odds of the most prominent races in Colorado each major election cycle. It’s just our opinion.

Love it or hate it, we’re usually correct. History bears this out.

As for Randall’s suggestion that Colorado voters are deciding whether or not to vote every year based on what it says on “The Big Line”… well, that’s probably true.

Also, Greg Lopez absolutely does not have a snowball’s chance in hell of being elected Governor of Colorado.

Let’s continue with the interview…

BREMER: Well, I think it’s…first, you’ve got to remember where it came from. That’s not even left-leaning. That’s a leftist blog website. It’s not a poll — it’s their opinion.

The other thing I think that is really interesting to point out is that in the 2020 election, Republicans did not lose. We won 100% of the, quote, “toss up” congressional seats around the country — one of which was won by my friend Mike Garcia, who’s the first Republican in California to gain a congressional seat in 22 years. He’s a friend and supporter. But that shows us, when 100% of the toss-ups are won by Republicans, that the ratings systems are off. 

My rule of thumb is that the ratings systems are always ticked one to the left. So, if they say it leans Dem, which is where the Colorado Senate is now — I’m not sure where they put the governor — but on the Senate they say it leans Dem…that’s actually probably a toss-up. By the time it’s a toss-up it’s usually a Leans R. 

And then, polling, if you look historically at the Real Clear Politics average, in many cases it’s about 5 points skewed to the left. I think that the polling and the ratings are largely controlled by liberals, and they…you can just look back historically. Don’t take my word for it — look back historically and then adjust in your own mind accordingly. So, take it with a grain of salt.

Kudos to Bremer for pointing out that “The Big Line” is just our opinion of things. The rest of his argument is a bit muddled…

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Colorado Dems Celebrate As Biden Gets Part One Done

(Clockwise from top left): Diana DeGette, Joe Neguse, Ed Perlmutter, and Jason Crow

Denver7’s Robert Garrison reports on the final and narrow passage last night of a bipartisan roads and bridges bill by the U.S. House, a vote made possible by 13 Republicans who crossed party lines to offset “no” votes from a handful of progressive Democrats led by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez–handing President Joe Biden a major and much-needed victory that will have voter-visible effects in the near term, but also putting the onus squarely on Democratic Senate holdouts to ensure the much larger Build Back Better reconciliation package actually gets passed:

Colorado leaders hailed the passage of the $1 trillion infrastructure package as more details as to what it will mean for the state comes to light. But not everyone was in a celebratory mood.

The U.S. House of Representatives passed the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act with bipartisan support late Friday.

Gov. Jared Polis said in a statement the bill is a “win” for the state.

“Let’s fix the roads and reduce traffic! This is a win for our country and a win for Colorado! I’m thrilled that Congress has passed with bipartisan support this once-in-a-generation opportunity to improve our roads, create new jobs, improve our drinking water, and tackle climate change,” Polis said in a statement. “Paired with our state’s historic bipartisan infrastructure plan that I signed this summer, Colorado will see a transformation across all four corners of our state to make our roads safer and better for all Coloradans. Thank you, President Biden and Congress for your bipartisan work to bring real change across our country’s entire infrastructure system.”

Rep. Joe Neguse, who serves as a vice-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC), is ebullient and tallying up the wins for Colorado this morning:

Although passage of the bipartisan roads and bridges bill is making some progressives nervous about the fate of the larger Build Back Better plan (more on that in a moment), this morning the big story is the red-on-red rage from conservative Republicans including Colorado’s own Rep. Lauren Boebert, vowing retribution against the “fake Republicans” who enabled passage of the bill in the House last night:

While Republicans busy themselves eating their own for a few news cycles and President Biden enjoys a major win after an undeniably difficult few months, it is necessary to acknowledge the real concerns raised by the six dissenting Democrats, who say they voted no because it had been previously assured that the bipartisan roads and bridges bill and the larger “human infrastructure” Build Back Better plan would pass as a package deal. As of now, Speaker Nancy Pelosi is operating on a promise by moderate House Democrats to support the larger bill once the Congressional Budget Office completes its necessary scoring–the same thing America’s Most Important Senator® Sen. Joe Manchin claims to be waiting for.

In exchange for accolades today, the stakes are now higher to pass the larger bill Democrats still very much need to deliver ahead of the 2022 midterms. Colorado Democrats have not at any point been part of the problem here, in fact both Sens. Michael Bennet and John Hickenlooper have seen their own priorities threatened and even cut from the bill at Manchin’s whim. It’s a major test of discipline for the razor-thin Democratic majority in Congress–and as Will Rogers famously observed in 1935, organization has never been the Democratic Party’s strong suit.

When there’s a deal, Colorado Democrats will be on the right side of it.

Beyond that, pray and/or bet according to your preference.

Colorado Republicans Continue to Struggle with the “Big Lie”

The “Big Lie” may be the only truth for Republicans, but they still don’t have any idea how to talk about it without getting at least one foot stuck in their mouth. 

Was the 2020 Presidential election fair and accurate, or was it “stolen” from former President Donald Trump? This is the single most important (and obvious) question for any 2022 candidate, yet most Colorado Republicans STILL can’t figure out how to respond in a coherent manner.

Heidi Ganahl during her disastrous interview with 9News on the day of her campaign launch.

Republican gubernatorial candidate Hiedi Heidi Ganahl may have irrevocably damaged her chances with her inability to provide a straightforward answer to this question; this is one of several reasons why even fellow Colorado Republicans believe Ganahl’s long-inevitable candidacy is already doomed. When Ganahl kicked off her campaign on Sept. 14, she was asked by multiple news outlets to provide an answer to a question about the “Big Lie” that any idiot should have known to expect. She botched all of those questions, capping off the day with this infamous disaster of an interview with Marshall Zelinger of 9News in which Ganahl keeps complaining about getting asked “divisive questions” (CLICK HERE to watch that entire cringeworthy interview).  

Colorado Republicans have since tried to figure out a different path forward when this question invariably resurfaces. Earlier this month, State Republican Party Chair Kristi Burton Brown (KBB) went on KNUS radio to tout this advice: Republican candidates should acknowledge that Democrat Joe Biden is the rightful President of the United States and try to move on to something else. 

Republicans have sorta followed this advice in subsequent interviews. Here’s what Ganahl told KNUS radio last week, per The Colorado Times Recorder:

“Joe Biden’s our president, and we have to do everything we can to change that in 2024,” Ganahl responded. “And as a candidate for governor, I can’t speak for the election integrity of other states, but I can speak for Colorado and I would not be running if I did not think I could win here.”

Ganahl then clarified her position on the issue further by saying that she doesn’t believe the outcome of the 2020 Presidential Election in Colorado was changed by fraud, pointing to Biden’s large margin of victory here. She does not go so far as to say that fraud didn’t occur.

“I have not seen any evidence that the presidential election outcome in our state was changed by fraud. I mean, the margin was huge. It was 13 percent or 400000 votes that Colorado went for Joe Biden.”

Ganahl appears to have settled (for now) on the answer that Biden won in Colorado but maybe not in other states. This is not a response that is going to help Ganahl win over moderate voters in Colorado, but will it placate the GOP base?

Republican U.S. Senate candidate Eli Bremer fights off the “Big Lie” question.

On the Senate side of the campaign trail, Republican Ron Hanks flat out states that Biden was not fairly elected in 2020. Some of his fellow Senate candidates, meanwhile, are following the hybrid approach suggested by KBB. The Colorado Times Recorder caught this long and winding answer from Eli Bremer in late September:

“So I’m not an expert on elections,” Bremer said in the Sept. 28 interview. “One of the things I’ve learned, though, is when you have questions, go to people that really know about it. And I’m not going to lie, on election night, back in the aftermath of the election, I had a lot of big concerns about this election. I saw numbers that didn’t make sense to me. I saw outcomes that didn’t make sense to me. And so one of the things that I would say is I have fidelity to the truth. I want to get down and find the truth. And so I started making calls and I started asking people, particularly in Colorado, because that’s, you know, that’s our state. I talked to some clerks and recorders. Our clerk in El Paso, I’ve known for quite a while, talked to him. They’ve done a massive amount of investigation into this. And he said, ‘Eli, when we looked at the results, we’re talking random error of .01% level.’ And so I don’t have to like the outcome of the election. But in looking at what I’m seeing now and in talking to people who have phenomenal amounts of experience on this, who are on our side, I believe that in Colorado the results that were reported are correct.”

Using a LOT of words, Bremer appears to be going with the same theme that Colorado’s elections were fine but other states might have been corrupt. 

Ganahl, Hanks, and Bremer don’t have great answers to this question, but their responses are at least more clear than the one recently attempted by Senate hopeful Gino Campana. On Oct. 13, Campana was a guest on longtime radio host Peter Boyles’s show “Peter Boyles On Demand.” Boyles asked Campana about what he calls “the one question every Republican candidate needs to be able to answer,” which resulted in Campana making a complete fool of himself [note: all emphasis is ours]:

 

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Manchin Takes Aim At Bennet’s Prized Child Tax Credit

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-ish).

As Pat Poblete of the Colorado Springs Gazette’s political blog reports–while Colorado’s junior Sen. John Hickenlooper reckons with moderate obstinate Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia’s deal-killing opposition to the carbon tax Hickenlooper has championed since his 2019 presidential run, Colorado’s other U.S. Senator Michael Bennet is confronted with a threat to the size and scope of his overwhelmingly popular Child Tax Credit from the same Sen. Manchin:

The number of Colorado parents eligible to receive the federal Child Tax Credit could be cut by nearly 70% if congressional Democrats and the Biden administration cave to the demands of one of their Democratic colleagues, according to a new report.

The vast federal program – which sends monthly payments to parents of children 17 years old and younger – has been a top policy priority of U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet since the middle of the last decade and was signed into law by President Joe Biden in March as part of a pandemic response package…

Researchers at the self-proclaimed “moderate” Niskanen Center, a Washington, D.C.-based think tank, on Tuesday released estimates based off of Axios’ report showing if Manchin got his way, some 37.4 million children across the country would lose out on federal aid.

And that’s not all:

Colorado would be particularly hard hit based on the projections put together by the Niskanen Center’s Robert Orr and Samuel Hammond. Based on the duo’s projections, roughly 320,000 Colorado kids would be eligible for the credit under Manchin’s proposal, down 67.9% from the roughly 1.1 million currently eligible children.

Sen. Bennet’s goal is to see the Child Tax Credit in its current form extended for a further five years–enough time for the credit to make measurable progress toward the goal of cutting child poverty in half throughout the United States. But because of the perfectly divided 50/50 U.S. Senate, Sen. Manchin now wields a degree of influence over the process that has galled and outraged Democrats across the nation. Manchin, the only Democratic representative left representing a state whose failed economy has embittered a white working-class population, seems to be taking pleasure in his dream-crushing role as he demands a smaller final package for the politically self-serving sake of being smaller.

With the signature priorities of both of Colorado’s U.S. Senators now at Joe Manchin’s mercy, the one thing we say for certain is that both Hickenlooper and Bennet are as frustrated as everyone else over the present state of affairs. What’s happening right now is not why either of them were elected to the U.S. Senate, and it’s not their fault. We can only hope that when the dust settles on a final product, some of the good stuff Colorado’s U.S. Senators have fought for is still in there.

In the long run, the only cure is a majority with a margin that prevents any one Senator from playing God.