Of Whores and Asswipes: The Colorado GOP Fractures Further

The Colorado Republican Party was already in the midst of a massive civil war even before the 2022 election inflicted unthinkable losses on the GOP. What has happened since has taken this internal conflict to an entirely new level. It’s like Infinity War, but in this case there are no heroes — only villains.

In case you missed it, Democrats won every statewide race last month by wide margins and added to supermajorities in the state legislature, where 69 of 100 total elected representatives now carry a ‘D’ next to their name. Democrat Adam Frisch even came within a few hundred votes of defeating Rep. Lauren Boebert in CO-03, a district that Donald Trump carried by 9 points in 2020. The Bluenami that swept through Colorado has resulted in some very grim assessments from longtime Republican fixtures. Soon-to-be former State Rep. Colin Larson of Jefferson County — who was in line to become House Minority Leader before he lost his own re-election bid to Democrat Tammy Storycalled the 2022 election an “extinction-level event” for the Republican Party in Colorado.

So, naturally, right-wing Republicans have decided that the only way forward is to lurch even further to the right. A group of very loud and very angry Republicans rallied on Wednesday outside a Boot Barn store in Greenwood Village to voice scream their frustrations with the Colorado Republican Party and embattled Chairperson Kristi Burton Brown (KBB).

Anil Mathai, ranting outside the Boot Barn on Wednesday.

The “whores” and “asswipes” comments came from Anil Mathai, a former Adams County GOP chairperson, who blamed unnamed political consultants for taking their money and leaving Republicans with no victories to celebrate.

“We have a Republican Party that is full of whores. They listened to the consultants, right? They keep telling you about messaging, right? They are liars — they have done something different. They have not held to the Republican platform, which is conservative. They’ve not held to the U.S. Constitution. And then you wonder why these asswipes can’t win a race.” [Pols emphasis]

This attack on Republican consultants is not without merit, of course, and activists are backing up their barking with official complaints. A Republican named Marcie Little filed a campaign finance complaint even before Election Day accusing a bunch of establishment Republicans of a multitude of misdeeds. The complaint specifically accuses Larson, Restore Colorado Leadership Fund (527), Restore Colorado Leadership Fund IEC, Frank McNulty, Square State Strategy Group, LLC, Daniel Cole, Cole Communications, and Victors Canvassing of various campaign finance violations [Marcie Little Complaint (PDF)].

But let’s get back to the Boot Barn, where Ernest Luning has more for the publication formerly known as the Colorado Statesman:

“Our Republican Party leadership has failed us,” said Aaron Wood, an organizer of a press conference held across the street from state GOP headquarters in Greenwood Village. [Pols emphasis]

Wood, founder of the conservative Freedom Fathers group, and a dozen others took turns speaking from the bed of a pickup truck in the parking lot of a Western-wear retailer as roughly 100 supporters braved sub-freezing temperatures to hear their pleas to restore the state’s Republican Party to its conservative foundations.

Speaker after speaker at the press conference blasted state GOP chair Kristi Burton Brown, whose two-year term running the state party ends in March.

Through a spokesman, Burton Brown declined to comment. Earlier on Wednesday, she said she plans to announce by the end of December whether she’s seeking a second term as state chair.

Tina Peters is…inevitable.

[Burton Brown was also busy on Wednesday issuing a legally-dubious demand for Frisch to “withdraw” as a candidate from CO-03 in order to prevent a MANDATORY RECOUNT as prescribed by Colorado statute. Frisch has already conceded to Boebert, but rather than staying quiet and enjoying one of the GOP’s rare victories, KBB felt compelled to vomit out a bunch of nonsense.]

In short, right-wing Republicans in Colorado have convinced themselves that the best way to win back voters in our state is to nominate candidates who are MORE extreme than the lot that got pummeled in November. This is sort of like trying to put out a fire by covering it with matches, but it’s also difficult to completely dismiss the idea considering just how poorly Republicans performed in 2022.

The first step for the right-wing base is finding a new leader. While KBB has apparently not yet decided whether she will seek re-election as State Party Chair in 2023 — and we have no idea how she could possibly make an argument for another term — our “Infinity War” theme continues with news that Mesa County Clerk and Recorder Tina Peters is interested in the job because she believes that Colorado is actually a “red state” (recent election results from 2022, 2020, 2018, and 2016 notwithstanding).

“We are not a blue state. We’re not even a purple state. We are a red state.”

     — Political Supervillain Tina Peters

 

As Luning reports:

A potential candidate for the party position blamed Burton Brown for Republican losses in the November election.

“Our country’s being taken away from us,” said Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters, who provided the pickup truck the speakers used as a podium. “It starts with the treachery of the GOP in our state. You know, there’s these speakers that are going to talk about the infractions of Kristi Burton Brown, the inactivity of Kristi Burton Brown, to stand up and inform the chairs in every county on how to come against the election fraud.” …

Peters told Colorado Politics after she addressed the crowd that she’s open to running for state party chair.

“If the people ask me to, and if it’s the right thing, then I will do it,” she said. “But it has to come from the people.” [Pols emphasis]

Outgoing State Rep. Dave Williams — who lost a 2022 Primary Election in CO-05 to incumbent Doug Lamborn — is also considering a bid for State Party Chair. Former congressional candidate Erik Aadland is thinking about it as well, since he knows so much about how to win an election and all. But if Peters runs, she’s the odds-on favorite to win; the people who gave her topline on the SOS Primary ballot following last Spring’s Republican State Assembly are the same group of people who are going to show up to cast a vote for Party Chair.

 

 

“Peace Out!”

Peters has probably already decided to run for Chair; what she told Luning is basically the same thing she said before announcing her bid for Secretary of State in February. But she’s also going to be busy next year when her election tampering case goes to trial; coincidentally on Wednesday, news came out that a second former Peters employee named Sandra Brown has made a deal with prosecutors to testify against her old boss. It seems ridiculous that Peters might be running the Colorado Republican Party from a prison cell in 2024…but again, can things really get worse than they were in 2022?

If you’re waiting for some adults to get involved and prevent right-wing activists from blowing up what was already a box full of ashes, you had better get comfortable. Republican State Sen. Bob Rankin of Carbondale announced today that he is resigning from the State Senate as of January 10th. Rankin and former Republican State Sen. Kevin Priola were possibly the last remaining rationale actors in the upper chamber of the state legislature. Rankin is bouncing out entirely, while Priola decided to change parties and become a Democrat. If Rankin and Priola don’t even want to be Republican lawmakers, what sane person would want to be the State GOP chairperson for the next two years?

Colorado Republicans might have been able to prevent this timeline from becoming reality if they had clearly and forcibly rejected Trump and MAGA-ism after the Jan. 6, 2021 insurrection. Instead, they allowed someone like KBB to ride her support for election deniers all the way to becoming Chair of the State Republican Party. If you’re shocked that right-wing Republicans are now saying that KBB “hates America,” then you really haven’t been paying attention.

Once you give the inmates the keys to the asylum, you can’t very well expect them to lock up.

Another Relatively Sane Colorado Republican Calls It Quits

Sen. Bob Rankin (R).

A press release from Colorado Senate Republicans a short while ago announces the imminent resignation of Sen. Bob Rankin, a member of the powerful bipartisan Joint Budget Committee and considered one of the last remaining functional members of the shrunken GOP minority:

Senator Rankin was appointed to serve in the State Senate in 2019 and reelected in 2020, having first been elected to the State House in 2012. Since 2015, Rankin served on the Joint Budget Committee.

“I have informed the Secretary of the Senate my intention to resign from the Colorado State Senate effective January 10th,” Rankin said. “After proudly serving this state for the past 10 years, I have made the decision to move forward with the next chapter of my life.”

“We are all incredibly grateful for Senator Rankin’s service to this state,” Minority Leader Cooke remarked. “His grit, integrity, and honesty is something every member of the General Assembly can aspire to. During his tenure, Bob championed responsible conservative fiscal policy to the benefit of every Colorado taxpayer. His commitment to this state and the people of Colorado will always be cherished. We wish Bob all the best in the next chapter of his life.”

Then-Rep. Rankin was appointed to his Senate seat to replace disgraced ex-Sen. Randy “Boob Grabber” Baumgardner, and at least in the goal of not further scandalizing the Senate minority Rankin was successful. Sen. Rankin’s resignation can fairly be considered bipartisan bad news, since he had a reputation for being one of the more affable Republican lawmakers under the Dome. Similar to Rep. Colin Larson before Larson’s unexpected defeat in November, it was assumed that Rankin would have a Senate leadership role had Republicans successfully flipped the chamber. You can’t call it a shock that Rankin had much less desire to serve in a 23-12 GOP minority with colleagues he would frequently need to apologize for.

Had Rankin wished, he could have followed Sen. Kevin Priola and either switched parties, or even taken the Kathleen Curry route and disaffiliated for the remainder of his term. But at this point, the only paths for the sane Republicans in Colorado following the wholesale destruction of 2022 lead out of the party or into retirement. In hindsight, Priola made the smartest bet of any Colorado Republican this year.

We wish Sen. Rankin well, and when he’s so inclined we expect he’ll have some good stories.

Rep-Elect Brittany Pettersen Gets More Smarter

State Sen. Brittany Pettersen and son Davis.

This week on the Get More Smarter Podcast, your hosts Jason Bane and Ian Silverii talk with Brittany Pettersen, Congresswoman-elect from the seventh congressional district (and Ian’s wife). Pettersen takes us behind the scenes for a look at what it’s like for a newly-elected Member of Congress to spend the week after the election learning the ins and outs of life at the U.S. Capitol. 

Later, we discuss Rep. Lauren Boebert’s narrow victory in CO-03; Donald Trump’s very sad 2024 campaign announcement; and leadership elections at the State Capitol. Happy Thanksgiving, and thank you for listening!

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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Winners and Losers of the 2022 Election (Part 2)

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

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

 

The 2022 “Extinction Level Event” for Republicans

 

The Losingest Losers of 2022

 

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So Much For Recalling Kevin Priola

State Sen. Kevin Priola (D-Henderson).

Readers will remember that Republicans led by Michael Fields of the conservative advocacy group Advance Colorado immediately announced a recall campaign against state Sen. Kevin Priola following Priola’s defection in August to the Democratic Party, obtaining a deadline to return signatures coinciding with Election Day before Denver District Court Judge Marie Avery Moses ruled that recallistas had to wait until Priola began representing the new boundaries of his Senate district in January. This ruling was highly adverse to the recall campaign, effectively negating the effort and money expended up to that time on the petition drive.

But as the Denver Post’s Seth Klamann reports, another even more adverse event was on the horizon:

A renewed attempt to recall party-switching state Sen. Kevin Priola is less likely to unfold early next year in the wake of Colorado Republicans’ electoral losses last week, an organizer said Thursday.

Officials behind the first failed attempt to recall Priola have yet to make a final decision on whether to resurrect the effort next year, said Michael Fields, of the conservative group Advance Colorado. But the expense of another campaign and the scale of the Democrats’ control of the Senate — with or without Priola — makes a second try “more unlikely” going forward, he said. [Pols emphasis]

Priola, a Henderson lawmaker, was the target of a recall campaign shortly after he announced in August that he was switching his party affiliation from Republican to Democrat. At the time, officials from both parties believed control of the state Senate could swing Republican, and Priola’s switch complicated that path and provided a lifeline to Democrats wary of what appeared to be a looming red-wave election…

As it turns out, the best thing Democrats could do to defend Sen. Priola was to make his party switch irrelevant to determining the Senate majority by burying the Republican Party in this year’s elections. Having expanded their Senate majority by several seats, Democrats left Republicans with no material benefit to recalling Sen. Priola–and after their humiliating losses, the partisan momentum Republicans felt they had initially to pursue this recall has completely dissipated.

The experience of the multiple and increasingly pathetic recall attempts against Gov. Jared Polis throughout his first four years in office has taught us that where there’s an opportunity for grift, somebody is likely to make the attempt. Fortunately, it looks like the smart Republican money is backing away from plunging right into yet another recall season on the heels of another failed election season.

That would be the first good decision Colorado Republicans have made in some time.

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. 

 

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Get More Smarter on Tuesday (Nov. 15)

It’s been a few months since we posted one of these news roundups. Now that the election season is over, let’s Get More Smarter. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of an audio learner, check out The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter

 

CORONAVIRUS INFO…

*Colorado Coronavirus info:
CDPHE Coronavirus website 

*Daily Coronavirus numbers in Colorado:
http://covid19.colorado.gov

*How you can help in Colorado:
COVRN.com

*Locate a COVID-19 testing site in Colorado:
Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment 

 

Former President Donald Trump is expected to announce a new bid for the White House today at an event at Mar-a-Lago. Many Republicans don’t seem particularly thrilled about the idea, as NBC News reports:

“Personalities come and go,” said Dave Ball, the GOP chair in Pennsylvania’s Washington County, who has supported and defended Trump. “Sometimes you have overstayed your welcome. You’ve got new people, new faces come, and you have to change with the times sometimes.”

In interviews, more than two dozen state GOP leaders, elected officials and operatives said Trump’s heavy involvement in midterm contests up and down the ballot doomed them in swing states, leaving intact the Democrats’ blue wall in Pennsylvania and the industrial Midwest and costing them a winnable Senate seat in Nevada. Trump loomed large in the minds of voters, exit polls showed, and in many key races, voters rejected his hand-picked candidates.

Those Republicans, including those who supported him in the past and others who tolerated him but rarely spoke out publicly, said they increasingly see Trump and Trumpism as losing propositions and would prefer he not run for president again in 2024. Trump is preparing to do just that, with a Tuesday announcement expected at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida.

Trump had wanted to announce his 2024 Presidential run before the midterm elections, but advisers apparently talked him out of that decision.

 

Trump has invited a bunch of MAGA Republicans in Congress to join him at Mar-a-Lago this evening for his big announcement. But before that can happen, Republicans need to gather to vote in leadership elections. California Republican Rep. Kevin McCarthy is expected to be elected House Speaker, though his power has been significantly diminished already after struggling to net more than a mere five seats that were required for Republicans to gain control of the House of Representatives. 

As The Washington Post explains, the right-wing of the right-wing is promising to make McCarthy’s ascension quite the headache:

If McCarthy doesn’t get 218 today, it will show he is working from a position of weakness as he tries to secure more support in the coming weeks. (Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.) announced Monday evening on Newsmax that he will be nominated by his colleagues to challenge McCarthy.) 

Members of the far-right House Freedom Caucus are asking for concessions on conference rules and seats on key committees in exchange for their votes. [Pols emphasis]

The biggest rule change far-right members want is to reinstate a rule called the motion to vacate, which allows any member, at any time, the ability to submit a motion to remove the speaker. McCarthy doesn’t want to make this concession since the rule could be held over his head by recalcitrant members whenever they don’t get their way.

The House Freedom Caucus includes Colorado Rep. Ken Buck and Congresswoman-in-limbo Lauren Boebert.

 

Speaking of Boebert, the next big update on a potential outcome in her close battle with Democrat Adam Frisch will come tomorrow (though CO-03 seems headed for a recount anyway). Both campaigns are rushing to “cure” ballots, as Colorado Newsline explains. A bunch of military and overseas ballots are also expected to arrive in Colorado by Wednesday.

 

Colorado Republicans are still struggling to understand how they got wiped out in last week’s Bluenami. The latest local story, via Fox 31, is mostly about blaming Trump for their losses. Republicans have also reached that grieving stage wherein everybody pretends that there were moral victories that were won. 

As we wrote on Monday, the Colorado GOP seems to be struggling to comprehend some fairly obvious shortcomings.

 

Don’t miss the latest episode of The Get More Smarter Podcast for a deep dive into last week’s election results with Seth Masket of the University of Denver’s Center on American Politics.

 

Click below to keep learning things…

 

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State Lawmakers Select Caucus Leaders

FRIDAY UPDATE: House Democrats have selected Rep. Julie McCluskie of Dillon to be the next Speaker of the House. Here are the rest of the leadership positions:

House Majority Leader: Monica Duran
Assistant House Majority Leader: Jennifer Bacon
Co-Whips: Iman Jodeh & Andrew Boesenecker
Caucus Chairs: Brianna Titone & Mandy Lindsay
Joint Budget Committee: Emily Sirota & Shannon Bird 

—–

State Rep. Mike Lynch and his giant hat will now attempt to corral House Republicans.

Colorado Democrats may well end up with 69 out of 100 state legislative seats when the final votes are tallied, creating super-majorities in both the State Senate and State House.

It was against this background that Colorado Republicans met today to select their caucus leaders in the legislature. The meetings did not take long because, well, there aren’t that many of them left.

In the battle for House Minority Leader, Rep. Mike Lynch (Larimer/Weld Counties) defeated Rep. Stephanie Luck by a vote of 12-5. This job probably would have gone to Colin Larson had Larson not been defeated by Democrat Tammy Story in HD-25 (South Jeffco). Republicans didn’t have a lot of options here, but at least they avoided the worst-case scenario of putting a conspiracy theorist like Luck in charge.

Republicans selected newly-elected Rose Pugliese to be Assistant Minority Leader. Pugliese ran unopposed for the position, which speaks volumes about the GOP leadership vacuum in Colorado. The #2 person in the GOP House caucus has literally NO EXPERIENCE as a state legislator. 

The new House Minority Whip is Rep. Richard Holtorf, who ran unopposed. Holtorf is the same guy who infamously dropped a loaded gun on the floor during the last legislative session and has a history of making disgusting racist comments. So, neat!

Rounding out the leadership positions: Rep. Mary Bradfield defeated Ken DeGraf to become GOP caucus chair, and Rod Bockenfeld was unopposed in his bid to be the House GOP leader on the Joint Budget Committee (JBC).

Over in the State Senate, all leadership positions were made by acclamation; there were no challenges for any of the top 5 leadership spots. As expected, Sen. Paul Lundeen is the new Senate Minority Leader. The Assistant Minority Leader is Bob Gardner; Caucus Chair is Jim Smallwood, and ranking JBC member is Bob Rankin. Fresh off her loss to Democrat Yadira Caraveo in congressional district eight, Sen. Barbara Kirkmeyer’s booby prize is to serve as Minority Whip for Senate Republicans.

Democrats are holding leadership elections this afternoon on the House side. In the State Senate, Steve Fenberg was elected Senate President and James Coleman is President Pro-Tempore; Dominick Moreno is Senate Majority Leader; Rob Rodriguez is Assistant Majority Leader; Julie Gonzales is Majority Whip; Janet Buckner is Caucus Chair; and Rachel Zenzinger and Jeff Bridges join the JBC.

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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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These Election Questions Are Still Awaiting Answers

UPDATE 6:00PM: CD-8 GOP candidate Barb Kirkmeyer concedes secession defeat to Yadira Caraveo.

—–

Several Colorado races are still waiting to be decided today, including the final margins for control of the State Senate and State House.

Here’s what we’re watching (results current as of 11:42 am):

A clearly nervous Lauren Boebert late Tuesday night.

CONGRESS

Democrat Adam Frisch remains ahead of Republican incumbent Lauren “Q*Bert” Boebert in CO-03.

Democrat Yadira Caraveo is also still leading Republican Barb Kirkmeyer in CO-08.

Remarkably, these two seats could actually play a significant role in deciding whether or not Democrats retain majority control in Congress.

The race in CO-03 has narrowed, but Frisch is still leading Boebert by 2,449 votes (50.4% to 49.6%).

In CO-08, Caraveo is ahead of Kirkmeyer by 3,451 votes (49% to 47%).

We should know more after about 2:00 today, but from what we hear, Democrats crunching the numbers are feeling pretty confident that both Frisch and Caraveo will maintain their leads.

 

STATE SENATE

Democrats will maintain majority control of the Senate — a scenario that was certainly not a foregone conclusion entering Election Day. The question now is about how much Democrats might grow that advantage.

We’re keeping a close eye on SD-3 (Pueblo), SD-11 (Colorado Springs), SD-15 (Fort Collins), and SD-24 (Adams County).

In SD-3, Democrat Nick Hinrichsen has a 2,933-vote lead over Republican Stephen Varela (53% to 47%).

In SD-11, Democrat Tony Exum leads Republican Dennis Hisey by 1,978 votes (51% to 44%).

In SD-24, Democrat Kyle Mullica is ahead of Republican Courtney Potter by 5,043 votes (55% to 43%).

Also noteworthy — and a bit unexpected — is the race in SD-15, where Democrat Janice Marchman is ahead of incumbent Republican Sen. Rob Woodward by 2,137 votes (52% to 48%).

If Democrats hold on to leads in these four seats, they will expand their Senate majority from a 21-14 margin to a 23-12 advantage.

 

State Rep. Colin Larson, the man who was to be House Minority Leader

STATE HOUSE

There are several races in the State House that are still undecided. The most interesting to watch are in HD-16 (El Paso County), HD-19 (Northern Colorado), HD-25 (Jefferson County), HD-43 (Douglas County), and HD-50 (Greeley).

Of this group, HD-25 is of particular interest. Incumbent Republican Rep. Colin Larson is currently losing to Democrat Tammy Story by 1,596 votes (51% to 47%). Following the death of former House Minority Leader Hugh McKean, Larson was widely viewed as the person most likely end up as House Minority Leader. Now it looks like he won’t be in the House AT ALL.

HD-19 is another surprise, with Democrat Jennifer Lea Parenti leading incumbent Republican Rep. Dan Woog by 1,639 votes (51% to 46%).

In HD-16, Democrat Stephanie Vigil is leading Republican Dave Donelson by just 737 votes (50% to 47%).

In HD-43, Democrat Bob Marshall is ahead of Republican Kurt Huffman by 823 votes (51% to 49%).

In HD-50, incumbent Democratic Rep. Mary Young leads Republican Ryan Gonzalez by 426 votes (50% to 47%).

Democrats already held an unprecedented majority in the State House with a 41-24 margin. Should the above results hold, Democrats will control a beyond-unprecedented 46-19 super majority in the lower chamber. 

By the time the counting is complete, Democrats may well hold a total of 69 of the 100 legislative seats in both chambers combined.

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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CO Senate Candidate Walsh Praised Trump in Private, Now Tells Voters He’s ‘Not a Fan’

(At least someone has been listening to Joe O’Dea — Promoted by Colorado Pols)

A candidate who says one thing to one audience and the opposite to another is the most common political cliche. It’s rarer to catch one doing so in front of a reporter, but that’s what has happened to Tim Walsh, a Republican running for state senate in Jefferson County.

Back in May, Walsh made an appearance at the venerable Jefferson County Republican Men’s Club (JRMC), a local GOP institution. The Colorado Times Recorder previously reported his statements from that speech which cast doubt on the legitimacy of the 2020 election.

Following his biographical stump speech, Walsh spoke in detail about a poll his campaign conducted. He explained that while is he is a Trump supporter “who loves what he did,” he can’t share his love for Trump with voters because of their dislike of the former president.

In an almost apologetic tone, Walsh explains that Trump is hugely unpopular in his district, especially with younger voters. He tells them specifically,

“I am the first to be a Trump supporter. Loved what he did, but I can’t campaign on being a Trump person. And so just letting you know that. When we’re out knocking on doors, we don’t even bring up Trump.” 

If Walsh simply did that — avoided talking about Trump while campaigning, this story would just be about that typical politician cliché — telling folks what they want to hear. He told his far-right base supporters that he loves Trump but won’t reveal his pro-MAGA position when knocking doors of swing voters in his district.

Except we know he isn’t just avoiding the subject on the campaign trail — he’s telling them he doesn’t like Trump.

According to an article published last week by the Colorado Sun’s Elliott Wenzler, who accompanied Walsh on the campaign trail, he is now saying he’s “not a fan” of Trump and “never has been.”

(more…)

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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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.

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The Best Ad of 2022 Shows Democrats the Way on Fentanyl

This new television ad from the CO-07 campaign of Democrat Brittany Pettersen is the single best spot we have seen in Colorado in 2022. Take a look:

 

 

This single TV ad absolutely demolishes attacks by Republican opponent Erik Aadland intended to label Pettersen as being on the wrong side of the debate about the proliferation of fentanyl and the opioid crisis in general. It is an incredibly powerful spot that is beautifully produced, but what makes it so strong is the story it tells.

Republicans up and down the ballot have been using “fentanyl” as their primary bogeyman in 2022, distorting the issue to such a degree that Colorado media outlets finally started pushing back on the nonsense. But an increase in “fentanyl” use isn’t some new issue that Democrats have been ignoring, despite what Republican politicians such as Hiedi Heidi Ganahl would like voters to believe.

This ad shows Democrats how to reshape the fentanyl crisis as an issue that they have worked hard to address in a thoughtful manner — which is a narrative that also happens to be true. There are no easy solutions here, but Democrats have not shied away from trying to find an answer that doesn’t involve just locking away any person who ever even thought about a substance that might include fentanyl.

We’ve seen it time and time again: Good storytelling ALWAYS beats empty talking points.

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.

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Court Does Overzealous Priola Recallistas Big Thankless Favor

State Sen. Kevin Priola (D-Henderson).

As the Colorado Sun’s Jesse Paul reports, a Denver district court judge has thrown a monkeywrench into the gears of the GOP’s revenge recall campaign against Sen. Kevin Priola of Adams County, ruling after weeks of effort that the campaign should have waited until the new district boundaries Sen. Priola is set to represent are operative:

Denver District Court Judge Marie Avery Moses ruled that the recall organizers must wait until Jan. 9 to initiate their effort to oust Priola. That’s when the 2023 legislative session begins and when Priola will begin representing Senate District 13.

It’s unclear what happens to the recall petition signatures that have already been collected, though it appears they must be scrapped. It’s likely that tens of thousands of dollars have already been spent by the recall organizers, who said they were on track to collect enough signatures to force a special recall election…

Colorado’s recent history with crackpot failed recalls by Republicans teaches very clearly that you can never, ever take these campaigns at their word when they claim they are “on track” to deliver the signatures needed to force a recall election. While it’s easier to meet the requirements for recalls in legislative districts than statewide offices, the only signature estimate that counts is what is actually turned in to the Secretary of State’s office.

Having said that, the ruling in this case makes good sense: Republicans led by up-and-coming Republican provocateur Michael Fields wanted to rush the recall forward in the newly redrawn district Priola represents while partisan tempers were hot, but Priola doesn’t actually represent that new district yet–thus denying residents of Priola’s current district their own rights in the matter. If anything, the Democratic Secretary of State’s decision to allow to recall to proceed in the new district was overly deferential to Republicans.

Moses, the Denver judge, found that state elections officials likely erred when they decided the recall should take place in District 13, which leans in the GOP’s favor. Senate District 25 is a political tossup.

“The recall Petitioners have argued that if they are not able to circulate a recall petition until January 2023, they will likely be represented by Sen. Priola throughout the entire 2023 legislative session,” Moses wrote in her ruling. “While that may be true, such a timeline is consistent with (the Colorado constitution).”

Notwithstanding the money this recall campaign has already blown collecting signatures that will have to be recollected, the judge in this case did Republicans another favor despite themselves by pushing the recall back to 2023. The distraction of this recall petition campaign with a literal Election Day deadline could have ended up being blamed for any underperformance by Republicans in overlapping races in the general elections next month–and still might, even if the campaign stops today.

The simple reality is that the 100% partisan vengeance message behind the Priola recall effort is a bad fit with swing voters Republicans need to be contacting with their field campaign efforts right now. Priola’s decision to defect from the Republican Party provokes blind rage from partisan Republicans, but swing voters want to know why–and that’s a conversation Republicans don’t want to have outside their bubble of dogmatic support. The legal questions about the timing and location of the recall made committing resources to the petition campaign before they were resolved a risky proposition, and organizers got burned by their haste.

The partisan anger at Sen. Priola may be very real. But when you get angry, you make mistakes.

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.

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Residency Questions Clear One Candidate, Imperil Another

Dennis Hisey won’t be sending a Christmas card to George Brauchler

Where did you live and when did you live there?

This has been a recurring theme in recent months in relation to a handful of residency challenges involving candidates for state legislative seats. Republicans have been particularly aggressive in trying to make a case stick against a few Democrats, but it appears that they royally screwed up in one misguided attempt to trip up State Senate candidate Kyle Mullica.

We’ll get to that in a moment, but first some background: In August, outgoing State Sen. Pete Lee (D-Colorado Springs) was indicted by a grand jury for allegations that he registered to vote at an address in which he did not actually live. A few weeks later, it was revealed that Republican State Sen. Dennis Hisey (who is running against Democrat Tony Exum) was moving around like a political transient. Republican attorneys Suzanne Staiert Taheri and the “Magnificent PutzGeorge Brauchler then went after Mullica.

As Sara Wilson writes today for Colorado Newsline, another Democrat is in Republican crosshairs:

Boulder County Republicans Chair Theresa Watson submitted a complaint to the Boulder County district attorney’s office last week, according to the party’s Facebook page and as first reported by The Daily Camera, against state Rep. Tracey Bernett.

The complaint alleges that Bernett, a Democrat, changed her address in order to remain eligible to run for reelection in House District 12, even though she still lives at a house that now sits in the newly drawn House District 19.

House District 12 is a pretty safe seat for Democrats given its voter registration makeup, so whatever happens with Bernett won’t likely affect the partisan makeup of the state legislature. That’s a different story for Republicans and Hisey, whose case got more problematic because of how far Taheri and Brauchler pushed their losing case against Mullica.

Democrat Kyle Mullica

As The Colorado Sun reported last week:

After a daylong hearing that featured testimony from a private investigator and questions from two high-powered partisan attorneys, Denver District Court Judge Alex C. Myers ruled late Wednesday that state Rep. Kyle Mullica, a Democrat, did not violate a requirement that candidates for Colorado statehouse seats live in the district they are running to represent for a year before Election Day.

Mullica is running to represent Senate District 24 in a closely watched race against Republican Courtney Potter, an Adams 12 Five Star Schools board member. Until November of last year he was registered to vote at his family’s home in Northglenn, where his wife was a city council member. But on Nov. 4, 2021, he changed his voter registration to his mother’s house in Federal Heights.

Mullica says he moved in with his mother to help her manage some health and financial issues. His wife and children stayed in Northglenn.

Taheri and Brauchler apparently didn’t really think through their challenge and what it could mean for the case against Hisey. Their failed Mullica challenge inadvertently proved that Hisey is almost certainly ineligible to seek election in SD-11 (something that was already making Republicans very nervous).

Back to the Sun:

Mullica testified, under questioning from former 18th Judicial District Attorney George Brauchler, a Republican, that he would frequently visit his family at the Northglenn home — and sometimes spend the night there — but that he always intended his residence to be his mother’s Federal Heights home after moving there in November 2021. Mullica said moving into his mom’s house was a difficult decision because it meant he couldn’t run for reelection to his House seat, but that she was facing physical and mental health challenges and was struggling with her finances…

Myers, the judge overseeing the case, said his ruling was a “close call,” but that he found Mullica’s explanation of why he moved credible.

“It is apparent that Rep. Mullica genuinely wanted to care for his mother and moved for that purpose,” Myers wrote. [Pols emphasis]

The case against Mullica ended with a judge agreeing that the Adams County Democrat went about his own residency change in the right way; Mullica clearly had roots in the district in which he lived before he launched his campaign for State Senate.

[Pro Tip: If you ever need an attorney, you’re better off picking someone off of Google than hiring Brauchler, who continually proves that he is the legal equivalent of Nick Riviera from The Simpsons.]

 

Here’s a visual representation of Sen. Dennis Hisey’s current problem.

 

In short, the Mullica ruling sets a precedent that Hisey cannot possibly follow. In an effort to establish residency in SD-11, Hisey “moved” into a house owned by his stepson (Residence #2 above), but Hisey admitted to KRDO in August that he did not have a lease agreement that would be required to establish legal residency. Hisey has since “moved” into an apartment on Westmeadow Drive (Residence #3), though his wife still lives in their longtime home in Fountain (Residence #1).

In their zeal to get Mullica in trouble, Taheri and Brauchler failed to consider the liability on their own side of the political aisle, and Hisey is likely going to pay for their mistake.

Next time, look before you litigate.

Colorado Democrats Vindicated On Equal Pay Law

In 2019, the Colorado General Assembly’s Democratic majority passed the Equal Pay For Equal Work Act, Senate Bill 19-085, which required among other provisions for Colorado employers to post the salary range for available positions in job postings. Transparency in salary range is considered a vital component to reducing gender-based wage inequity.

The bill passed over the strained objections of the Republican minority, as the Denver Post’s Justin Wingerter reported at the time:

“It’s not so much of a woman thing,” said Rep. Perry Buck, a Windsor Republican and opponent of the bill, during House debate Friday. “I don’t believe in the women as being victims. [Pols emphasis] You look at how many are graduating with degrees. Women are on a movement and look at the legislature. There is absolutely, definitely equal pay here.”

Buck and business groups say they fear frivolous lawsuits will increase, costing companies even when they’ve done nothing wrong. The National Federation of Independent Business opposed the bill, saying most Colorado small businesses don’t have a legal department and could be bankrupted by a lawsuit. Plus, it says, salary history is a necessary tool for determining qualified applicants.

Republican amendments would have allowed companies to be reimbursed legal fees by an employee whose discrimination claim was found to be baseless and allowed for voluntary disclosure of salary history, but those amendments failed in the Senate Judiciary Committee.

After the Equal Pay For Equal Work Act took effect in January of 2021, the same Republicans who opposed the bill in 2019 were (no nice way to say this) inappropriately overjoyed when some employers began excluding Colorado applicants for remote work in job listings in retaliation for Colorado’s requirement that salary ranges be posted in job listings. Conservative outlets like Reason rejoiced that the “Equal Pay Law in Colorado is backfiring.”

A new employee compensation bill in Colorado was supposed to help close gender gaps in worker pay. But the so-called Equal Pay for Equal Work Act could be making it harder for Colorado residents—regardless of gender—to find jobs…

Understandably, some employers who can help it are opting out.

“This is a remote job except that it is not eligible to be performed in Colorado,” says an Airbnb listing for an accounting manager.

“This work is to be performed entirely outside of Colorado,” says an Ally Financial posting about a developer position.

But then a funny thing happened–although the number of position postings for Colorado jobs dropped, as CNBC reports, our state’s labor participation rate actually went up:

Two notable things happened in the first year after the law went into effect, research author Sam Kuhn tells CNBC Make It: First, daily job postings on Indeed fell by 8.2% in Colorado compared with neighboring Utah (which was chosen as a control for having similar demographics and economic characteristics).

The drop in Colorado jobs corresponds with reports that companies were actively barring workers in the state from applying to some remote jobs, or were taking the work elsewhere, in order to avoid the posting requirement.

Second, data shows there was a 1.5% increase in Colorado’s labor force participation rate relative to Utah’s.

By June of this year, as the Colorado Sun’s Tamara Chaung reported, the entire debate over salary transparency had shifted thanks in no small part to Colorado’s visionary and much-maligned new law breaking open the discussion:

(more…)

State Senate Candidate Attempts to Paint Opponent…With Paint

Travis Nelson and Rod Pelton

Here’s a good story out of Southern Colorado in the race for State Senate in SD-35.

Democrat Travis Nelson is challenging Republican State Rep. Rod Pelton for a State Senate seat in the Alamosa area. Pelton is running for Senate in part because he was drawn out of his former House District during the redistricting process last fall.

We don’t know much about Nelson, but we’re familiar with Pelton from his regular silly rants about a “war on rural Colorado” and his anti-vaxxer position that led him to self-medicate with horse dewormer (ivermectin) during the COVID pandemic.

State Senate District 35 leans Republican, so Nelson probably doesn’t have much of a chance at winning in November. For this reason, Pelton is understandably not that interested in meeting his opponent for a candidate forum anytime soon. In order to press the issue and try to convince Pelton to join a debate, Nelson came up with a creative idea: He’s challenging Pelton to a “paintball duel” followed by a forum on private water issues.

We’d encourage Pelton to agree to this “duel.” It would be fun, and we could definitely use more fun in this election cycle.

Paintball guns could have saved Alexander Hamilton.

The GMS Podcast: Asshats in Key States

This week on the Get More Smarter Podcast, your hosts Jason Bane and Ian Silverii discuss Republican Senate candidate Joe O’Dea’s pledge to decide what rights women should get to have, and we consider how the breakdown of the national map for Senate Republicans (“Asshats in Key States”) is causing problems for O’Dea in Colorado.

We also talk about the latest state fundraising reports; the deadline for the recall of State Sen. Kevin Priola; and we bemoan the fact that the campaign for Denver Mayor is already well underway even though the midterm election still has eight weeks to go.

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 GMS Podcast: Dark Brandon’s MAGA Smackdown

Charles Ashby, sans beard

This week on the Get More Smarter Podcast, your hosts Jason Bane and Ian Silverii discuss President Biden’s momentous speech last week calling out “MAGA Republicans” and what it means for the 2022 election in Colorado. We also update on the apparently very expensive recall effort against new Democratic State Sen. Kevin Priola; big new problems facing Republican State Sen. Dennis Hisey in El Paso County; and top GOP candidates who are scrubbing all mention of “abortion” from their campaign materials.

Our interview this week is with podcast favorite Charles Ashby of the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel, who stops by to update us on the always-weird Tina Peters saga, Rep. Lauren “Q*Bert” Boebert’s Christian Nationalism, and the Western Slope perspective on the final stretch of the 2022 election.

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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Bad Polling, No Money for Colorado Republicans

There are 68 days left until Election Day on Nov. 8. That’s not a lot of time left to make your case to voters, but that number is deceiving for elections in Colorado; because Colorado is a mail-ballot state, there are now only 6 weeks remaining until voters start to find ballots in their mailboxes.

To put it a different way, a good chunk of Colorado voters will be filling out a ballot in about 42 days.

With the always-important caveat that things could still change, it would be really difficult to take a reasonable look at the data and conclude that Republicans are not in deep trouble in Colorado. Here’s why…

 

U.S. Senate

Even the most conservative pollsters in America can’t find a way to show Republican Joe O’Dea pulling closer to incumbent Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet. New polling data out today shows that things are actually getting much worse for O’Dea as Election Day draws near.

According to Public Policy Polling (PPP), Bennet currently leads O’Dea by an 11-point margin, with O’Dea only attracting the support of 35% of respondents.

Equally concerning for Republicans are the favorability ratings for O’Dea, which are upside down; 29% of respondents give O’Dea an “unfavorable” rating, while just 27% have a positive view of Mr. #HorseSushi. The O’Dea campaign team responded to these results today by trying to make lemonade out of dandelions:

But…but…Michael Bennet isn’t polling at 50 percent! So what? If this PPP poll is correct, Bennet will only need 36% of the vote to win re-election to the U.S. Senate.

Bennet received just about 50% of the vote in 2016, when he won re-election over Republican Darryl Glenn by 6 points in a race that was never in doubt. In 2010, Bennet didn’t reach 50% of the vote, defeating Republican Ken Buck by a 48-46 margin. You don’t get a bigger office in the U.S. Senate if you surpass 50% of the vote.

The PPP poll shows that 44% of voters are “unsure” about O’Dea, which is probably because they have no idea who he is. O’Dea might be able to dig into that number with more outreach and communications to voters, but they don’t have the resources to do that. As Manu Raju and Alex Rogers report for CNN, Senate Republicans are STILL undecided about whether it is worth investing any real money in Colorado on Joe O’Dea:

the big-spending GOP outside groups are uncertain whether O’Dea can knock off incumbent Colorado Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet – and whether their money should be spent elsewhere.

So far, the National Republican Senatorial Committee has not reserved future advertising in Colorado, after spending just $241,000, according to AdImpact data. [Pols emphasis]

McConnell’s powerful super PAC, the Senate Leadership Fund, has yet to spend money there but is “keeping an eye on the race” and “impressed” with O’Dea’s performance, the group’s spokesman said. The group recently announced it would spend $28 million in Ohio, and cut millions in Arizona, committing to defend J.D. Vance in an increasingly red state rather than help Blake Masters in a battleground, as both Trump-endorsed candidates struggle.

It’s not hard to read between the lines here: Colorado voters are going to start making their selections in six weeks, but there is still no movement from national Republican groups and little reason for them to suddenly get more involved. Without a big infusion of national money, the little-known O’Dea is toast; Bennet has thus far outraised O’Dea by an 8-to-1 margin.

 

Governor

The Heidi Ganahl/Danny Moore ticket never took off.

Let’s be honest: This race has been over for awhile now.

Republican Hiedi Heidi Ganahl is the most inept candidate for major office that Colorado has seen this century, and maybe ever. Even if this race were close, and there is no indication that it is, Ganahl would almost certainly make some idiotic mistake that would cripple her chances of defeating incumbent Democratic Gov. Jared Polis.

Ganahl doesn’t have much money in her campaign coffers — while Polis has virtually unlimited financial resources — and national Republicans haven’t so much as hinted at paying attention to this race since…well, maybe ever. A year ago, Polis was polling 20 points higher than Ganahl; that was before Ganahl started proving to Colorado voters that she has no idea what she is doing. Polis won’t win by 20 in November, but there’s no reason to think either side will be sweating out the results on Election Night.

As we saw earlier in the U.S. Senate polling, conservative pollsters also can’t figure out a way to make this look like a real race. Both of the polls below are from outfits known to be extremely favorable to Republican candidates (Remington Research Group and Trafalgar Group). In Georgia, for example, Trafalgar has Republican candidates for top-ticket races polling much better than most other recent surveys. In Colorado, there’s no way to make the math work for Ganahl:

(Details at 538.com)

 

Generic Congressional Ballot

Finally, the “generic congressional ballot” we discussed earlier this month keeps moving in favor of Democrats. The GCB doesn’t mean that Colorado Democrats are going to perform 9 points better than Republicans, but it does indicate that voters are predisposed to support a Democrat…particularly when they know little about the Republican candidate (we’re looking at you, Joe O’Dea).

(Details at 538.com)

 

Republicans could potentially yet recover in Colorado, but they’re running out of time to keep saying, “there’s still time.” It’s worth noting that national Republicans aren’t just reluctant to spend money in the U.S. Senate or Governor races — the Republican Attorneys General Association (RAGA) has also thus far avoided spending money in Colorado on behalf of Republican candidate John Kellner. At the moment, there appear to be no coattails for any Republican candidate to grab onto.

The 2018 election in Colorado was a MASSIVE wave year for Democrats. For the most part, that trend continued in 2020. There’s little reason to argue that Colorado is not on a similar course in 2022.

Michael Fields’ Partisan Vengeance Won’t Come Cheap

Republican operative Michael Fields, now the face of the recall attempt against Sen. Kevin Priola (D).

As the Denver Post’s Nick Coltrain reports, the estimates are back on the cost to taxpayers and petition signature requirements for the threatened recall election against Sen. Kevin Priola, who switched from the Republican to the Democratic parties earlier this month citing Donald Trump’s war on democracy and Republican indifference on climate change. Secretary of State Jena Griswold also ruled that the recall will be based around the redrawn boundaries of Priola’s district, which gives Priola’s former friends a small advantage:

Voters in the new district have on average given Republican candidates about a plus-four percentage-point margin over eight recent elections, according to nonpartisan redistricting staff. However, its 85,000 registered voters are split nearly dead even between Republicans and Democrats, at 22,602 and 22,544 apiece, respectively, though a plurality of voters there are nonpartisan.

The Secretary of State’s Office did base the signature threshold to force a vote on Priola’s old district. That threshold, 18,291 valid signatures, is 25% of the total votes cast in his last election. The determination on the signature threshold and where they’d need to be gathered was made in consultation with the Colorado Attorney General’s Office, according to a news release.

The special election would cost an estimated $200,000.

Although Priola would obviously have preferred the recall move forward under his old district’s boundaries, his longstanding ties to the area could still be decisively strong with the unaffiliated plurality in the new SD-13. Part of that will depend on whether, after so many unsuccessful and in many cases just plain pathetic attempts, the recall process intended to be used sparingly has been abused to the point of being a discredited tactic.

The prime mover in the GOP’s vengeance campaign against Priola, conservative activist Michael Fields, hopes not:

“Replacing Priola with a state senator who will keep taxes and fees low and help make our state safer is worth it,” Fields said of the cost.

Fields’ zeal to exact revenge on Priola for the sin of switching parties is a significant departure from Fields’ nominally nonpartisan fiscal policy bailiwick, which has comprised most of his public-facing advocacy work for various conservative “stinktanks” like Americans for Prosperity and Colorado Rising Action. Over the last year, however, Fields has had an increasing presence at Republican Party events, and as the face of purely partisan revenge against Sen. Priola, Fields’ “nonpartisan” veneer has been permanently shed.

Fields plunging Republicans into a recall petition campaign against Priola while the GOP is supposed to be organizing for the 2022 midterms in November is a distraction of perhaps even more long-term value to Democrats than Priola’s party switch. Talking about Priola’s defection at all is a terrible thing for Republicans be doing right now, leading inevitably to the reasons why Priola did what he did–for which Republicans have no good answers, particularly not for swing voters. On the other hand, Fields can’t afford to back-burner this campaign until after the election, which would allow whatever backlash against Priola for switching parties to subside.

Since the successful 2013 recalls against Democratic Senators over gun control legislation, the recall process has had a mixed record leading to a dreadful spate of abuses of the process in 2019 by minority Republicans that ended in an embarrassing string of failures. Typified by the failed recall attempt against Rep. Tom Sullivan and then the self-perpetuating joke of failed recall campaigns against Gov. Jared Polis, these failures served mostly to educate the public about how abuse of this important facility in the law could lead to ridiculous outcomes.

Now we’ll just have to wait and see if there’s any appetite for more destruction.