Winners and Losers from the 2022 Election (Part 1)

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

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

 

The Winningest Winners of 2022

 

Reality

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

 

Felix Lopez

Er, maybe not.

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

 

Lisa Cutter and Tammy Story

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

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

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

 

Steve Fenberg

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

 

Jared Polis 

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

 

Michael Bennet

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

 

Most Colorado Media Outlets

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

Kyle Clark of 9News

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Residents of CO-03

Enough of this, thanks.

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

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

 

Non-Republican Polling Outfits 

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

 

Colorado’s Election System

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

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

 

 

Mike Lynch 

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

 

Women in the General Assembly

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

 

Yadira Caraveo

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

 

Brittany Pettersen

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

 

Devastated Republicans Grope For Answers They Can’t Handle

Defeated GOP Rep. Colin Larson.

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

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

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

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

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

Dick Wadhams.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Get More Smarter Podcast Breaks Down the Bluenami

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

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

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

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

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

Elephant fight!

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

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

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

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

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

El Paso County Republican Chairwoman Vicki Tonkins.

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

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

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

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

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

Dave Williams

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

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

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

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

Gah!

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

Absolute lunacy.

Master GOP strategist Colin Larson

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Joe O’Dea Courts Dozens of Voters in Final Days of Campaign

UPDATE: On a Thursday night before Election Day, Joe O’Dea was in Rifle, Colorado.

 

 

There are about 10,000 people who live in Rifle. About 45% of Coloradans cast ballots in the last midterm election in 2018.

You can do the rest of the math yourself. This is NOT what we would be doing five days from Election Day if we were trying to win a statewide race.

 

—–

Remember me?

Way back in 2008, Republican Senate candidate Bob Schaffer telegraphed his pending 10-point defeat to Democrat Mark Udall by spending the final week of the election puttering around the Eastern Plains of Colorado. Schaffer even started running a television ad in which he spoke to the camera in front of a barn and some cows, which was about as country as Schaffer got in that race.

Schaffer was apparently trying to appeal to rural Colorado voters in the final days of that campaign, which was a weird strategy given that the vast majority of Colorado voters don’t live in rural parts of the state.

Fourteen years later, another Republican Senate candidate is preparing for his own likely defeat by doing pretty much the same thing. Denver businessman Joe O’Dea is touring Southwest Colorado and the Eastern Plains in the waning days of his campaign…which is as even weirder in 2022 than it was in 2008.

As Reuben Schafir (probably no relation) reports for The Durango Herald today:

Joe O’Dea, the GOP challenger to Sen. Michael Bennet, visited La Plata County for the first time since the primaries this week. He stopped briefly in Durango after holding a campaign event Monday afternoon in Pagosa Springs. Former state Sen. Ellen Roberts confirmed she had a private meeting with O’Dea on Monday to discuss issues important to the region. [Pols emphasis]

According to O’Dea, about 50 people attended the event in Pagosa Springs, which he held at the Den Restaurant. Although 49% of La Plata County voters are unaffiliated with a political party and the remaining 51% are approximately evenly split between the Democratic and Republican parties, O’Dea has not held a public campaign event in the county since March.

In their private meeting Monday, Roberts said O’Dea sought input on issues relevant to the region. She said the two discussed the Colorado River crisis as well as Front Rage dominance on political and policy issues, and that she reinforced how important it is for O’Dea to get to know the region.

“I am comfortable he had done that,” Roberts said. “He let me know all the places he’s going to be in the next week and many of them are western and out on the eastern plain, so I’m comfortable that he’s spending a lot of time with the whole state and not just the Denver-metro area.” [Pols emphasis]

 

 

O’Dea seems to have wrapped up the support of former Republican state lawmaker Ellen Roberts. That’s nice for O’Dea, but it may not be the best use of his time at the moment. The election, you may have heard, is next week. More than 90% of Colorado voters live along the Front Range between Ft. Collins and Pueblo…and O’Dea is driving AROUND them.

Cory Gardner on Election Day 2020

In the Fall of 2018, then-Republican gubernatorial candidate Walker Stapleton also visited Pagosa Springs — but Stapleton went through town in September.

When they know that defeat is inevitable, statewide Republican candidates have been known to end up in strange places in the last few days before an election. Schaffer was spending half a day touring a power plant in the last week in 2008. On Election Day in 2020, then-Sen. Cory Gardner started the day waving to no-one in Greeley. Recently, Gardner told Republicans in Akron that the key to victory in November was to “run up the score” in rural Colorado, which is a really terrible piece of advice for simple mathematical reasons.

Perhaps O’Dea is touring smaller parts of Colorado in an effort to avoid scrutiny in the final days of his doomed campaign. The Durango Herald story mentioned earlier is also noteworthy for an important acknowledgement by the reporter in response to O’Dea’s false claims about Bennet’s record:

The O’Dea-Bennet race splashed across headlines after tensions between the two reached a boiling point during their only televised debate Friday. O’Dea repeated a claim that Bennet has written only “one bill in 13 years that became law.” Bennet responded that the claim was not true, calling O’Dea a liar.

The claim rests on the fact that many of the other bills Bennet has written have become incorporated into other pieces of legislation but have not been passed as stand-alone laws…

…O’Dea has promised to lead in the mold of Sen. Joe Manchin, who he says is an example of how a senator ought to buck his or her party to serve a state. He says Manchin’s work to approve the permitting of a pipeline in West Virginia is exemplary of the way that a senator should put a state first – however, Manchin backed off that legislation after colleagues from both sides expressed disdain for the amendment. If the statistics on Bennet’s work during his time in the Senate are to be interpreted the way O’Dea has repeatedly done, Manchin has also only written one bill that has been passed into law. [Pols emphasis]

D’Oh!

Oh, well. By the time O’Dea finally rolls back into his home in Greenwood Village, there won’t be anything left to do but crack open a beer and pour it into a glass of ice.

Get More Smarter Before Election Day!

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

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

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

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

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

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The Sad Final Days of the Top of the GOP Ticket

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

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

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

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

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

 

Lighting Money on Fire

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

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

 

Running to the Right

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

 

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

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

 

 

NewsMax?

Really?

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

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

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

 

Time Travel

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

 

 

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

 

 

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

 

 

Facing Reality

They’re not laughing WITH you.

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

Oof.

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

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

O’Dea Continues Another GOP Tradition: Bombing on National TV

We wrote earlier about Republican Senate candidate Joe O’Dea inexplicably spending the last week of the 2022 election cycle touring the Western Slope and Eastern Plains of Colorado. This is a strange tradition for GOP Senate candidates who know they are about to lose, from Bob Schaffer in 2008 to Cory Gardner in 2020.

On the checklist of bad traditions among Republican Senate candidates in Colorado, there is another box that O’Dea apparently decided to mark off: Completely imploding on national television. When Democrat Michael Bennet was running for his first full term in the Senate in 2010, his Republican opponent was then-District Attorney Ken Buck. That race went down the wire, and most observers believe Buck lost the Senate race with a disastrous late-October appearance on “Meet the Press” in which he compared homosexuality to alcoholism and used the term “buyer’s remorse” in discussing the case of an alleged rape in his judicial district four years earlier.

Buck’s “Meet the Press” appearance was so bad it was even lampooned by “Saturday Night Live.” Had Buck not bombed so memorably, he might well have been elected to the U.S. Senate in 2010.

Joe O’Dea makes his “nailed it” face after repeating for the 100th time his joke about how he doesn’t even agree with his wife 98% of the time.

On Tuesday evening, O’Dea sat down for an interview with Jake Tapper of CNN and flopped in a much different manner. You really should watch the entire seven-minute interview to grasp the extent of the problem for O’Dea, but we’ll break it down into a couple of pieces.

But first, it’s important to understand some context here. Candidates don’t just end up talking to Jake Tapper on CNN; this is the sort of interview that campaign staffers (or national GOP helpers) work hard to arrange. A couple of people had to go to a lot of trouble to get this interview to happen in the last few days before an election. Some of those same people apparently didn’t bother to prepare O’Dea for some difficult questions.

This is a masterclass in how to show voters that you have absolutely no business being anywhere near Congress.

Tapper’s first question is about former President Donald Trump’s outspoken opposition to O’Dea after the Colorado businessman said he would campaign against Trump in 2024. O’Dea dodges this question, which leads to Tapper replaying a moment from a Senate debate last week when Bennet talked about O’Dea’s previous support for Trump.

 

Tapper asks O’Dea “did it bother you” when Trump pushed his family separation policy at the border or said that there were fine people on both sides after white supremacists rallied in Charlottesville, VA in 2017. Here’s O’Dea’s response:

JOE O’DEA: Well, I believe that [President] Obama started that policy to be quite frank with you.

JAKE TAPPER: Not really.

Gah!

O’Dea goes on to say that the border is “leaking like a sieve” and talks about fentanyl “coming right up I-25.” Tapper notes that former President Trump did not solve the border problem, either, and adds that every time immigration reform has come up in Congress in the last 20 years, it is Republicans in the House of Representatives who have blocked it from becoming law. Tapper asks O’Dea if Republicans share some of the blame for a lack of action on immigration reform. O’Dea calls the border situation “a humanitarian crisis of epic proportions”; he says that he is going to run an immigration reform bill and make sure it passes both the Senate and the House.

This is the point where things really start to go downhill for O’Dea. Tapper asks O’Dea about his appearance on “Meet the Press” last week and a question from Chuck Todd about whether O’Dea is comfortable with the idea of using migrants as a “political tool” (such as Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis flying migrants to Martha’s Vineyard).

TAPPER: Do you think it was right for them to ship off migrants under false pretenses into other parts of the country? That part of it — not just bringing attention to [the issue], but that part of it — was that the right thing to do?

O’DEA: [long pause] Well, I know that President Biden is shipping them all over the country right now in airplanes. Nobody said a word.

What? President Biden is flying migrants all over the country?

It appears at this point that a small part of O’Dea’s brain realized that he is screwing up, so he reverts to repeating his same talking points from before.

O’DEA: Every state is a border state now. We’ve got a humanitarian crisis down there — epic proportions. And I believe that Gov. Abbott and Gov. DeSantis are trying to bring some attention to this because of the failed policies of Joe Biden. And Michael Bennet’s right with him. 98% of the time he has failed because he’s with his President instead of stepping out and getting something done. We need change, and that’s why I got into this race.

Epic proportions!

Tapper then shifts to a question about gun violence that clearly surprises O’Dea (for some reason).

We are all Jake Tapper when listening to Joe O’Dea.

TAPPER: You do not support raising the age limit for purchasing a semi-automatic weapon — the kind used in Uvalde [Texas] and other massacres. Why should an 18-year-old be able to purchase a semi-automatic weapon before he’s even mature enough to buy a beer?

O’DEA: [long pause] Look, this is about crime. We don’t need any more gun laws. What we need is more cops. And this is about Michael Bennet and Joe Biden having the wrong priorities. Here they pass this inflation reduction act — 87,000 new bureaucrats for the IRS — instead of focusing that money on getting our border under control, focusing that money on putting more cops on the ground here. Colorado had one heck of a weekend. I gotta tell you that we had 12 shootings this weekend, and we lost some Coloradans. Crime is at an all time high here.

TAPPER: Yeah, but, why should a 19-year-old be able to buy a semi-automatic weapon when he can’t even buy a beer or a handgun? That’s my question.

O’DEA: Well, he can sign up and go into our military. So, I just believe that we don’t need any more gun laws. What we need is more cops…

TAPPER: You’re…I’m…I’m sure you know of all the training that enlistees undergo when it comes to how to use a firearm.

Mercifully for O’Dea, Tapper wraps up the interview at this point. Unfortunately for O’Dea, his inch-deep understanding of a bevy of important issues has already been revealed. When the best thing you can say about O’Dea’s interview was that it wasn’t quite as bad as Ken Buck in 2010, you know things did not go well.

In fact, you might even say this interview was a disaster…of epic proportions.

Joe O’Dea Begins Final Sad Week as Senate Candidate

Republican Joe O’Dea is wrapping up his long, strange trip as a 2022 candidate for U.S. Senate by doubling-down on an obvious lie and hanging out with former Sen. Cory Gardner, whose last election cycle concluded with a nearly 10-point loss to Democrat John Hickenlooper.

Before we get to Gardner, we’ll start with Friday’s final Senate debate between O’Dea and incumbent Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet. This video clip from the Colorado Democratic Party is a pretty good summary of O’Dea’s final few weeks as a statewide candidate:

As you can see, O’Dea got a little emotional about being called out for a ridiculous lie that is still being pushed by his campaign despite the fact that it has been widely debunked…including by O’Dea himself. We’ve been covering the O’Dea campaign’s absurd claims that his campaign is being “censored” by Google — something that appears to be a desperate effort to raise a few more dollars before O’Dea turns back into a little-known contractor on November 8th. In fact, just last week O’Dea told Spencer Soicher of KRDO in Colorado Springs that his “crack team” had already “addressed” the fake problem with Google and “cleaned it up.”

That doesn’t mean that O’Dea’s campaign has stopped running its fake conspiracy fundraising ads, however, which is why Kyle Clark of 9News asked him about it during Friday’s debate:

KYLE CLARK: Mr. O’Dea, would you like to provide any evidence [that Google is censoring your campaign]?

JOE O’DEA: I’m not going to do it here tonight, Kyle. I’m not debating you. I’m debating Michael Bennet.

CLARK: Well, I’m asking you if you’re interested in backing up this allegation…

O’DEA: I told you, you can go look it up. It happened. Two weeks, they downed our Google efforts so we couldn’t…search for our stuff. It’s documented.

CLARK: It actually…it is not. Because these things are public. And we looked again this morning. And you have run Google ads without a single day of interruption since April 14th.

O’DEA: That’s not true. That’s just not true.

CLARK: The public can go, and they can go look…

O’DEA: They can go look. That’s just not true.

CLARK: …at the transparency portal, and they can see that you have run ads…

Republican Senate candidate Joe O’Dea tries to wave away the truth.

O’DEA: That’s not true.

CLARK: …every single day, without interruption. There’s a single ad pulled in June for an unspecified violation…

O’DEA: A single ad, they pulled…

CLARK: …which your campaign won’t tell us what that was for, or if you attempted to fix it. So just one last question: Serious allegation, about a behemoth company, that you could regulate as a U.S. Senator, do you have any evidence?

O’DEA: I just told you, they pulled one of our ads for two weeks. That’s the evidence…

CLARK: With respect, your word is not evidence, sir. Any evidence?

O’DEA: It’s there, you can find it.

CLARK: Very good.

This is a very weird hill to die upon. It’s not “furries” weird, but it’s still strange.

O’Dea’s campaign is apparently so desperate to raise money in the last week of the election that O’Dea is willing to keep this ridiculous conspiracy theory alive…AND to call on 2020’s big election loser to help him collect a few thousand more dollars for his doomed Senate bid. Via Punchbowl News, the original orange Republican leader (former House Speaker John Boehner) will join former Sen. Cory Gardner for a last-minute fundraiser in Denver that is probably more about cultivating O’Dea as a future GOP donor:

 

We can’t imagine that Tuesday’s fundraiser is going to make much of a difference for O’Dea’s campaign. Are there a lot of people who have not yet donated to O’Dea who are interested in shelling out $10,000 for a photo with two former elected officials and a guy who is only slightly more likely than you are to be in the U.S. Senate next month? This might have been a decent fundraising event two months ago, but not one week before Election Day.

Anyway, there are just a few more days left Joe, and you’ll have all the time in the world to live your best #HorseSushi life.

State Sen. Kevin Priola Gets More Smarter

State Sen. Kevin Priola (D-Henderson).

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

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

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

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

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Newsline: O’Dea Repeats False Bennet Legislation Claim

(Republished under Creative Commons license by Colorado Pols)

Sen. Michael Bennet speaks at the Colorado Water Congress in Steamboat Springs on Aug. 23, 2022. (Chase Woodruff/Colorado Newsline)

by Chase Woodruff, Colorado Newsline
October 27, 2022

In Tuesday night’s U.S. Senate debate in Colorado, Republican challenger Joe O’Dea saved his most pointed attack on incumbent Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet for his closing statement, after Bennet would have the ability to respond.

“Bennet passed one bill — one bill — in 13 years that he wrote,” O’Dea claimed.

In one of the only tense moments in what otherwise was a night of civil exchanges at Grand Junction’s Colorado Mesa University, a frustrated Bennet interrupted O’Dea: “That’s completely untrue.”

Bennet was right. O’Dea’s false claim — which is also being spread by his campaign staff and allies, and appears in a new TV ad — rests on a misleading search result on a government website and a misunderstanding of how legislation is routinely passed in Congress.

Dozens of individual pieces of legislation sponsored by Bennet have been signed into law after they were added via amendment to larger appropriations or omnibus bills, according to a Newsline review of the congressional record.

Many of the approved amendments are easily traceable using functions on Congress.gov, the official website maintained by the Library of Congress. Others are harder-to-track cases in which Bennet-authored legislation appeared in a larger bill as it was newly introduced, or won passage in a companion bill from the House of Representatives.

(more…)

Colorado Senate Race Ends With a Whimper and a Shrug

This is the face of a guy who just wants to go get some #HorseSushi and a mug of iced beer.

Colorado’s U.S. Senate race is entering its final days with a big ol’ heaping plate of “whatever.”

For weeks, national news outlets pretended that the battle between incumbent Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet and Republican challenger Joe O’Dea could be a closely-watched race on Election Day. But with less than two weeks to go, reality has sunk in for O’Dea as he faces anger from the right and apathy from everywhere else.

During Tuesday’s Senate debate at Colorado Mesa University in Grand Junction, O’Dea displayed the energy and enthusiasm of a teenager asked to wake up early on a weekend morning. In fact, the most notable takeaway in watching O’Dea might have been his audibly heavy breathing whenever Bennet was talking. O’Dea flubbed many of his lines; declined to use up his full allotment of time in responses; and literally read aloud his closing remarks from a piece of paper (remarks you would think a Senate candidate would have memorized by now).

O’Dea has seen the polls, all of which show him losing badly to Bennet. O’Dea knows that he won’t have the resources to do anything about it in the final stretch of the race, with his campaign resorting to weird tinfoil hat conspiracy theories in a desperate attempt to raise a few more bucks from conspiracy-minded donors.

Quite frankly, we can’t blame O’Dea for having trouble mustering up any excitement. The writing is on the wall. The fat lady is getting ready to sing. Pick your cliché.

As CNN’s Chris Cillizza wrote on Tuesday:

Last week, a super PAC affiliated with Mitch McConnell announced it was pulling nearly $6 million out of the New Hampshire Senate race. On Tuesday, the group dumped an additional $6 million into the Pennsylvania Senate race…

Seemingly gone for Republicans are the dreams of picking up the likes of the New Hampshire seat, where Sen. Maggie Hassan is seeking a second term. Ditto Republican hopes of beating Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet. [Pols emphasis]

Sen. Michael Bennet is endorsed by every major newspaper making a decision in Colorado.

Jesse Paul of The Colorado Sun continued this theme today:

O’Dea hasn’t benefited from the kind of NRSC spending Republicans running in other U.S. Senate races have benefited from. And [NRSC Chairman Rick] Scott wouldn’t commit Sunday to allocating more money in Colorado. [Pols emphasis]

In Arizona, for instance, the NRSC has spent nearly $7 million opposing Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly. In North Carolina, the group has spent $6 million. The NRSC has spent more than $3 million in each Georgia and Pennsylvania.

The NRSC, by comparison, has spent just $241,000 in Colorado on O’Dea’s behalf, and that was in August.

“We spent money defining Bennet. We spent money on polling. We spent money on get-out-the-vote. We spent money on texting. Things like that,” Scott told The Sun.

When asked whether the NRSC would spend millions in Colorado in the next two weeks before Election Day, Scott said “we’re working to raise money every day.”The Senate Leadership Fund, a super PAC aligned with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, has spent $1.25 million in Colorado on O’Dea’s behalf. That’s a fraction of the amount the group has allocated to races in other states.

This is a continuation of the national Republican message from earlier this month (which was a continuation from the previous month) that “We’re keeping an eye on Colorado.” It’s reminiscent of a kid asking his mom if they could go out for ice cream, and the mom saying, “We’ll see”; it’s not a definite “no”, but you know enough not to put on your shoes.

With the caveat that, yes, Coloradans still need to cast their ballots, yada, yada…the reality is that the U.S. Senate race is pretty well wrapped up.

Podcast: The Blue Wave Cometh (feat. Andrew Baumann)

Andrew Baumann

This week on the Get More Smarter Podcast, your hosts Jason Bane and Ian Silverii talk once again with Andrew Baumann, senior vice president of research at Global Strategy Group and the lead pollster for the quarterly “Rocky Mountaineer” poll in Colorado. Baumann explains why the latest poll numbers here look so darn good for Democrats and whether any of that could change in the final weeks of the 2022 election.

We also update you on the latest news from the election season, including a conversation on (some) of the 11 statewide ballot measures in Colorado; we discuss how much longer the Colorado Springs Gazette will be taken seriously given its absurd editorial department; and we offer an important tip for all potential candidates for future office.

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

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

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

PNC/GSG Poll: Colorado Democrats on the Cusp of Glory

The Denver Post’s Seth Klamann reports today on the latest Mountaineer poll from Global Strategy Group and liberal activist group ProgressNow Colorado–numbers that cannot be spun any way positively for Republicans three weeks out from the 2022 midterm elections, and the downward trajectory for Republicans in the gubernatorial race in particular opening the possibility of a rout on Election Night that Colorado Democrats could scarcely have dreamed of at the beginning of the year.

If the Global Strategy Group poll is to be believed, Republicans have a lot of catching up to do over the next three weeks. About 52% of likely voters surveyed said that, if Election Day were tomorrow, they would vote to re-elect Gov. Jared Polis, compared to 34% who said they would vote for CU Regent Heidi Ganahl; another 8% said they were undecided. It’s a larger lead than FiveThirtyEight’s analysis, which still gives Polis a sizable 16-point advantage.

Respondents were also asked about Ganahl’s repeated comments about children allegedly identifying as cats in schools across Colorado, a claim that school officials thoroughly rejected. The poll showed that 71% of respondents said the claim wasn’t an important issue at all.

A message sent to Ganahl’s campaign Tuesday was not returned. A Polis spokeswoman told the Post the governor was “working hard to earn the support of Colorado voters.”

The poll gave Bennet an 11-point lead over challenger Joe O’Dea among likely voters, with 7% undecided. It’s a stronger projection than FiveThirtyEight, which has Bennet up eight points as of last week, or polls aggregated by Real Clear Politics, which gives the Democrat a 7.7-point average lead. The race has received national attention as one that Republicans believe they can win in what they hope will be a wave election repudiating President Joe Biden and his fellow Democrats up and down the ticket.

It’s the latest in a spate of recent polls showing that Heidi Ganahl’s campaign for governor has unrecoverably tanked. Multiple polls now have Ganahl losing to Gov. Jared Polis in the 15-20% range, and three weeks out from the election there’s just no realistic hope of turning those numbers around.

The situation is little better for U.S. Senate candidate Joe O’Dea, who before this poll was locked 7-10% behind incumbent Sen. Michael Bennet. Despite months of national press phoning in stories insisting that Colorado’s U.S. Senate race could become competitive, there is nothing to suggest that has actually happened. If anything, O’Dea is losing ground as the election nears.

Down the ballot there’s even more good news for Democrats, with incumbent Secretary of State Jena Griswold and Attorney General Phil Weiser holding solid leads over their Republican challengers:

The poll showed comfortable leads for both Attorney General Phil Weiser and Secretary of State Jena Griswold, both Democrats. Weiser had a seven-point lead over challenger John Kellner among likely voters, but with a sizable 12% of respondents undecided. The poll found Griswold with a 10-point lead over Republican Pam Anderson, with 10% of respondents reporting they’re undecided.

Although the poll didn’t survey the Treasurer’s race, the Attorney General and Secretary of State races have by far seen the most attention of the downballot statewide races. If these numbers are accurate both Weiser and Griswold are successfully weathering shrilly negative campaigns waged against them. Griswold in particular has been the subject of intense opprobrium from the state’s political elite and pundit class, and should take comfort from the durable show of support indicated in this poll.

You can read the full poll memo from Global Strategy Group here. Given the overall consistency of this latest poll with so many other recent surveys, the only way we can see at this point for Republicans in Colorado to have a shot at winning on November 8th is not just for this poll to be wrong, but all of the polling from every responsible pollster who has polled Colorado to be wrong. The unexcludable lingering possibility of exactly that is why we don’t expect Democrats to become complacent over these good polling numbers in the final few weeks of the 2022 campaign.

We expect them to close the deal.

Newspaper Endorsement Roundup for 2022

Sen. Michael Bennet is endorsed by every major newspaper making a decision in Colorado.

Several Colorado newspapers have decided against making endorsements in political races in 2022, including The Pueblo Chieftain, The Ft. Collins Coloradoan, and The Greeley Tribune.

The Colorado Springs Gazette, meanwhile, has turned its candidate endorsement process into a ridiculous partisan pit of repetitive Republican talking points. The Gazette has completely given up on even pretending to be nonpartisan by endorsing only Republican candidates — even those, such as GOP gubernatorial candidate Hiedi Heidi Ganahl — for whom it is virtually impossible to make a coherent argument of support.

The good news is that there are still a handful of Colorado newspapers that are making thoughtful, considered endorsements of candidates in 2022. We rounded up the endorsements in some of Colorado’s top-tier races that are available as of this writing, including some notable lines. Included in our list below are The Denver Post, The Durango Herald, The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel, and The Aurora Sentinel.

Two statewide candidates — Sen. Michael Bennet and Attorney General Phil Weiser — picked up endorsements from all four newspapers. Governor Jared Polis will undoubtedly join that list once The Denver Post makes its endorsement.

Also noteworthy: Congressperson Lauren “Q*Bert” Boebert failed to receive a single endorsement other than the rubber-stamp backing of The Colorado Springs Gazette. The two most important newspapers in CO-03 both backed Democratic challenger Adam Frisch instead of Boebert.

 

(more…)

Oh No, Joe O’Dea

If you enjoy silly campaign schwag and you want to make an ass of yourself, then boy howdy do we have good news for you!

Head on over to the schwag store at the website for Republican Senate candidate Joe O’Dea, and you can buy all sorts of bizarre crap. But the real gem is this bumper sticker below. You can buy NOT ONE, BUT TWO of these stickers that proclaim “Woman for O’Dea.”

Actual merchandise available at “The O’Dea Store” on Joe O’Dea’s campaign website.

 

Why do these stickers not use the plural form of “woman” instead? Who knows? Maybe “Women for O’Dea” was a tougher sell.

The O’Dea schwag store offers a few more bumper sticker options, including “Student for O’Dea,” “Native for O’Dea,” and “Transplant for O’Dea.” But we thought they could do better, so we came up with some suggestions of our own:

 

 

Please send 25% of all proceeds to ColoradoPols.com.

The GMS Podcast: It’s Voting Time! (feat. Alec Garnett)

This week on the Get More Smarter Podcast, your hosts Jason Bane and Ian Silverii sit down once again with House Speaker Alec Garnett to talk about the next generation of House leadership and his predictions for the 2022 election.

Later, we update you on everything you need to know about the latest in the major campaigns in Colorado. We also talk about a judge’s ruling on the Republican recall effort targeting State Sen. Kevin Priola, and together we listen to some bizarre videos courtesy of Republican Hiedi Heidi Ganahl’s campaign for governor.

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

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

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

Dark Brandon Arrives in Colorado

UPDATE #2: Live from Vail:

—–

UPDATE: Via Sen. John Hickenlooper, a Colorado fashion shot if there ever was one:

Rep. Joe Neguse is the most Colorado dressed of the bunch, with Hickenlooper in second and Sen. Michael Bennet coming in a bookish but respectable third. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack gets it totally wrong without a trace of denim or corduroy, and Gov. Jared Polis has, no surprise here, the flashiest shoes.

—–

President Joe Biden is in the house!

As Denver7 reports, Biden will speak in Colorado about designating the Camp Hale/ Continental Divide National Monument — his first such national monument designation as President:

Biden signed a proclamation Wednesday designating Camp Hale and the area of the Continental Divide that surrounds it as a national monument, and his administration moved to protect 225,000 acres of the Thompson Divide from mining and oil and gas production…

…Wednesday’s proclamation has been expected since last week, when sources first confirmed Biden would be making Camp Hale – where soldiers trained to fight in the Alps during WWII – a national monument.

The moves announced Wednesday include designating 53,804 acres including Camp Hale and the surrounding Tenmile Range as a national monument that will be managed by the U.S. Forest Service, which will develop a plan to protect and manage the land and the historical significance of the area, the White House said.

Click here to watch live coverage of Biden’s remarks.

National Republicans Toss a Few Bucks at O’Dea

Please, sir. May I have some more?

As Natalie Allison reports for POLITICO, one of two major national Republican Super PACs associated with GOP efforts to win majority control of the U.S. Senate has at last contributed some money toward efforts to help Republican Joe O’Dea defeat incumbent Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet:

The question has remained for months about whether the Senate Leadership Fund, the super PAC aligned with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, would put money into a state President Joe Biden won by 13 points in 2020. Republicans this summer nominated Joe O’Dea, a construction entrepreneur who is running as a centrist and has distanced himself from Donald Trump, saying he would be willing to buck his party in the mold of Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) if elected.

The Senate Leadership Fund on Friday made a $1.25 million contribution to the pro-O’Dea super PAC American Policy Fund, an investment the group first confirmed with POLITICO. The spend is significantly smaller than SLF’s expenditures in other battleground states this year, though spokesperson Jack Pandol said they “aren’t closing the door on further investment” in Colorado, and are “keeping an eye on” the race against Sen. Michael Bennet. [Pols emphasis]

“Keeping an eye on Colorado” is something that Republicans have been saying for at least a year. It’s the equivalent of a parent responding to a child with, “That’s nice, dear.”

It would be a much more important story if national Republicans have decided to spend real money in Colorado; $1.25 million is a relative pittance compared to what McConnell’s Senate Leadership Fund (SLF) is spending in other top races around the country — though it’s $1.24 million more than the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) has committed to Colorado. As you can see from this graphic put together by Reuters that covers outside spending through Oct. 3, a $1.25 million “investment” in Colorado is peanuts:

Via Reuters

 

Spending from SLF is arriving pretty late for O’Dea. Mail ballots in Colorado start going out to voters in exactly one week, which will make it hard for any ads to sink in with the electorate before voters are done thinking about 2022. This is probably one reason why the SLF is writing a check to the Super PAC “American Policy Fund,” a contractor-aligned group that has really been the only outside source of advertising for O’Dea. The SLF money isn’t part of any new program for O’Dea — it’s merely a contribution to the same group that is already running ads in Colorado.

Sen. Michael Bennet

Meanwhile, as POLITICO reports, Democrats ARE spending bigger on behalf of Bennet:

The new support for O’Dea’s bid comes as outside Democratic groups have jumped into the race to help Bennet, even as public polling has shown Bennet with a steady lead. On Friday, the League of Conservation Voters’ super PAC bought $1.3 million worth of ads in support of Bennet, following a combined $5 million in recent weeks from Giffords PAC, the gun control super PAC associated with former Rep. Gabby Giffords, and another Democratic group.

Bennet’s campaign has also outraised O’Dea by an 8-to-1 margin; while Bennet has been all over the television, O’Dea’s campaign has been buying TV time on a week-by-week basis. It’s important to note that television ads reserved by candidate campaigns are significantly cheaper than those that come from PACs, so Bennet should continue to saturate the airwaves while O’Dea’s campaign rifles through the couch cushions.

So what is the point of McConnell’s late, meager spending in Colorado? Perhaps McConnell and the SLF want to be able to say that they tried to help O’Dea in Colorado. Maybe it is a way for McConnell to tell future candidates, with a straight(ish) face, that he really does support people who are not complete MAGA Republican weirdos. Whatever the reason, this is not an amount of money that is designed to change the outcome of a Senate race.

For O’Dea, $1.25 million is better than nothing…but it’s not nearly enough to be good enough for something.

Get More Weiserer (feat. Attorney General Phil Weiser)

Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser

This week on the Get More Smarter Podcast, your hosts Jason Bane and Ian Silverii talk at length with Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser about his re-election campaign, law enforcement issues in Colorado, and why you should brace yourself for the next Supreme Court docket.

Later, we talk more about Furry Lago and Hiedi Heidi Ganahl’s decision to take her conspiracy theory a step too far; we update on the latest in several top races in Colorado; a majority of Republican candidates in the United States are full-on election deniers; and why a lesson from Aurora should inform voters about crime narratives being pushed by Republican candidates. Also, the one and only Christy Powell returns for another legendary rant.

*We’re about to hit 50,000 downloads of the Get More Smarter podcast, which is as amazing to us as it might be to you. Thanks to each and every one of you for listening, for subscribing, and for sharing the show with your friends. Ever since we started, Colorado has gone from purple to bright, bright blue. Coincidence? Probably, but we’re gonna take the credit anyway. 

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

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

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

O’Dea Campaign Promotes Saddest Meet and Greet of 2022

As we wrote in this space just a few weeks ago, Republican Joe O’Dea’s campaign for U.S. Senate seems to have been modeled in part on the 2014 strategy that saw Republican Cory Gardner narrowly elected to the U.S. Senate against incumbent Democratic Sen. Mark Udall. As we noted in that same post, there’s not much reason to think that this approach might work again in 2022 — particularly after Gardner was drubbed by Democrat John Hickenlooper when the former sought re-election in 2020.

But with time running out on the 2022 election and O’Dea finding himself abandoned by even the fringiest of the far-right Republicans, Team O’Dea is going back to a well that has long since proven to be emptier than Lauren Boebert’s melon:

O’Dea is the one with the facial hair.

 

O’Dea is similar to Gardner in that both candidates tried to convince Colorado voters that they were totally not a threat to any existing rights (such as abortion). O’Dea’s campaign has even tried to tell voters that they shouldn’t worry about electing him because he won’t get anything accomplished anyway. The main difference between O’Dea and Gardner, aside from the facial hair, is that Gardner was a pretty good politician who stammered out calculated nonsense, as opposed to O’Dea’s habit of just barfing out whatever comes to mind even if it contradicts something he already said.

We assume this “Meet & Greet” means that Gardner is endorsing O’Dea for Senate. You might think this would be obvious, but most Colorado Republicans have avoided Gardner in 2022 like he was trying to give them a COVID booster. We were surprised, in fact, when CO-07 Republican candidate Erik Aadland announced last month that he had received Gardner’s endorsement because the former Senator has been largely invisible in Colorado.

Anyway, if you have a hankering to meet Gardner and O’Dea at an undisclosed location that also will include a food truck of some sort, now you know how to RSVP.

Who Will Win Colorado’s U.S. Senate Race? (10/6)

Michael Bennet, Joe O’Dea.

Here’s what readers thought the last time we asked this question.

Now we’re asking again: Who will win Colorado’s U.S. Senate race? Will incumbent Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet earn a third term, or will Republican businessman Joe O’Dea pull off the upset?

 

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

 

Who Will Win the U.S. Senate Race? (10/6)

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Ron Hanks: Vote for Brian Peotter, Not Joe O’Dea

Ron Hanks takes one last, uh, shot at Joe O’Dea.

We did not expect that during the first week of October the biggest story in Colorado politics would be about a thing that is not happening: Republican gubernatorial candidate Hiedi Heidi Ganahl’s obsession with “furries” in schools.

We also did not expect that during the first week of October, former Republican Senate candidate Ron Hanksthe man who won topline on the Primary ballot at the State Republican Party Assembly — would be endorsing anyone other than the official GOP nominee for U.S. Senate.

But that is what happened today. Hanks released this two page letter endorsing Libertarian candidate Brian Peotter for U.S. Senate instead of Republican candidate Joe O’Dea.

Hanks is apparently still pretty salty about losing the Republican nomination to O’Dea in June. He writes:

Next month, I will vote for Libertarian Brian Peotter for US Senate, and I encourage all Colorado Conservatives to do the same.

The reasons are clear: Brian Peotter is the only conservative on the ballot for US Senate. The COGOP’s candidate in the race has no grounding in conservative positions, nor any proven interest in supporting them.

Foremost among conservative principles is protecting the unborn. Libertarian Brian Peotter is Pro-Life. The COGOP’s candidate, Joe O’Dea, pretends to be, but he supports murderous abortion before 20 weeks of gestation. To O’Dea, apparently, some murders in the womb are acceptable, depending on the calendar. [Pols emphasis]

Libertarian Brian Peotter is a fiscal conservative. He believes the Biden Inflation Reduction Act and the Infrastructure Bill are inflationary. The COGOP’s candidate O’Dea has no such clarity: He has declared one inflationary, but not the other. Such cloudy logic becomes clearer when we learn he and his core supporters have become wealthy from government contracts.

“For U.S. Senate in 2022, Libertarian Brian Peotter is and ought to be the choice of all Colorado Conservatives.”

Ron Hanks, 10/5/22

 

Hanks also has some specific bones to pick with O’Dea that go back to last Spring’s Primary battle:

On abortion and other issues, Libertarian Brian Peotter is vastly more conservative than this “pay-to-play” fake Republican who bought his way on to the ballot, skipping the traditional caucus and assembly process, avoiding Republican voters by paying for petition signatures.

Avoiding the state assembly was not merely political cowardice. It was a deliberate strategy to hide his true political views from Republican voters. When O’Dea’s liberal positions were revealed, many in the so-called conservative media were surprised, and some have since declared him unsupportable. [Pols emphasis]

Hanks says that O’Dea has a “near-zero chance of being elected” and adds, “Only his campaign has declared the race close – a cynical effort to attract donations and reduce the personal costs of losing big.” On this, at least, we agree.

Maybe Joe O’Dea Can…Nope, Nevermind

UPDATE: As The Washington Post reports in a story about Georgia Senate candidate Herschel Walker:

With polls showing Republican candidates underperforming the fundamentals in several key Senate races, Walker — for all his previous problems, which were many — hasn’t lagged as badly as some. And just two weeks ago, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) named Georgia and Nevada as the GOP’s best pickup opportunities, apparently over others in Arizona, Colorado and New Hampshire. [Pols emphasisi]

Oof.

—–

Joe O'Dea

GOP Senate candidate Joe O’Dea

One of the most persistent — and bizarre — storylines this fall has been the steady stream of national publications writing about Colorado’s U.S. Senate race as though it just might be an opportunity for Republicans to pick up a Senate seat.

Multiple national outlets, from The Washington Post to The New York Times, have published stories in recent months considering whether the underfunded and little-known Republican Joe O’Dea could knock off incumbent Democrat Michael Bennet in November. Every single one of these stories follow the same basic script:

  1. Republicans think O’Dea could upset Bennet in 2022;
  2. Here are a few quotes from Republicans saying that O’Dea could beat Bennet;
  3. O’Dea has some different positions on abortion and Donald Trump (sort of);
  4. Here are some quotes from Democrats saying that O’Dea will NOT beat Bennet;
  5. Bennet is way ahead of O’Dea in fundraising and polling numbers;
  6. Nevermind our original premise because Bennet will probably win.

It’s uncanny, and it’s as pointless as responding to one of those spam text messages that just says, “Hi.”

The latest national reporter to embark on this paint-by-numbers journey is Caroline Vakil of The Hill newspaper:

Republicans are hoping Colorado Senate candidate Joe O’Dea’s move to distance himself from the more extreme elements of the party will help them pull off a win in what could be a potential sleeper race come November.

O’Dea, a construction company executive running to unseat Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), has expressed support for some abortion rights while also bucking his party by suggesting former President Trump shouldn’t run in 2024.

Republicans argue that by branding himself as a moderate, O’Dea will appeal to critical voting blocs in the state, like independents and Hispanic voters, even if some in the party acknowledge he likely faces an uphill climb.

“I think that those same unaffiliated voters that voted so overwhelmingly for Democratic candidates in ‘18 and ‘20 are ready to look at Republican candidates in 2022. And I think Joe O’Dea is the perfect kind of candidate to appeal to them,” said Dick Wadhams, a former state GOP chair. [Pols emphasis]

This quote from former Republican State Party Chair Dick Wadhams is perfectly emblematic of the kind of response that national publications include in their stories about Colorado’s Senate race. Wadhams is quoted because he presumably knows what he’s talking about after spending 400 years in Republican politics, although the last time Wadhams was involved in a winning scenario for the GOP was when Wayne Allard was a U.S. Senator.

If you’re asking yourself, “Who in the hell is Wayne Allard,” then you’re getting what we’re putting down here.

Democrats have absolutely CRUSHED Republicans in Colorado in the last two election cycles, but Wadhams says things will be different in 2022 because…um…well…

¯\_(ツ)_/¯ 

Darryl Glenn was a called a “unicorn,” too.

This is all the same fact-free punditry from the same Republicans who keep losing big races in Colorado year after year after year. For example, Axios published a story about O’Dea this summer calling him a political “unicorn,” which is the same thing that some pundits said about Republican Senate candidate Darryl Glenn when he was running against Bennet in 2016.

There’s absolutely no logical reason to suspect that 2022 will be different for Republicans than 2018 and 2020, particularly when they are running the same program again and again. We learned today, for example, that former Republican President George W. Bush will host a fundraiser for O’Dea later this month. In 2018, Bush showed up in Colorado in October to raise money for Republican gubernatorial candidate Walker Stapleton, who went on to lose to Democrat Jared Polis by nearly 11 points. Bush isn’t even going to bother coming to Colorado for O’Dea; that fundraiser will be held in his home state of Texas.

In fact, there’s more reason to believe that 2022 might actually be WORSE for Colorado Republicans than it has been in recent cycles. The GOP’s top-ticket candidate, gubernatorial nominee Hiedi Heidi Ganahl, is a complete lunatic whose campaign somehow gets worse the closer we get to Election Day and threatens to drag other Republicans down with it. Even Republican Rep. Lauren “Q*Bert” Boebert could be in trouble in November, and CO-03 is a district that last elected a Democrat in 2008.

Ganahl isn’t getting any financial help from national Republicans, and neither is O’Dea; the top two Republican campaigns in Colorado are running on fumes. Republicans are pouring millions of dollars into states like Georgia (for Herschel Walker) and Pennsylvania (for Dr. Oz), both of which have terribly-flawed Senate candidates but are still considered more winnable than Colorado. This is the most telling stat of all: National Republicans have spent all of about $100,000 on O’Dea; they’ll spend more than that in Georgia today.

Again, none of these national stories about O’Dea have translated to an increase in support, because nobody actually believes that O’Dea has much of a chance. Polling consistently shows Bennet with an 8-10 point lead, and the incumbent Democrat has outraised O’Dea by orders of magnitude. O’Dea’s campaign has, for several weeks, been buying television ad time on a weekly and sometimes daily basis because it doesn’t have the resources to do anything else.

Thus, The Hill ends up right where all of the other national publications land: In reality.

Indeed, Colorado has not been particularly kind to Republican candidates in recent years. Hillary Clinton won the state against former President Trump by roughly 5 percentage points in 2016, and President Biden won it in 2020 by more than 13 percentage points.

The last time Republicans won a Senate seat in the Centennial State was back in 2014, when Cory Gardner ousted Sen. Mark Udall (D). Gardner later lost reelection to Sen. John Hickenlooper (D) in 2020…

While Democrats — and even some Republicans — believe that Bennet will ultimately prevail in November, they note the political headwinds their party still faces. [Pols emphasis]

Taking a dozen different positions on abortion rights or supporting Trump makes O’Dea different than some other GOP candidates, but it doesn’t make him any better.

All of these national stories start out with an interesting premise but end up with the same inevitable conclusion. In that way, at least, they have captured the true essence of O’Dea’s campaign for Senate.