“[Democrats] will say, ‘You’ve got your side of the argument and it’s the Constitution, but we’ve got real, live people on our side.’
“And we’re like, ‘We don’t care.’”
— State Rep. Scott Bottoms (R-Colorado Springs)
House Republicans are spending their first Saturday of Spring on another inevitably-pointless “filibluster” related to gun violence prevention legislation that Democrats are moving through the State Capitol.
Today’s attempted filibuster comes at the end of a week that began with the shooting of two staff members at East High School in Denver and ended with students descending on the Capitol building to plead for help in enacting new gun violence prevention measures. As we noted on Friday, Republicans in the state legislature responded to these desperate calls for help by treating students as a nuisance; State Sen. Larry Liston (R-Colorado Springs) wrote on Twitter: “How would you feel if rude and impertinent 15/16 year olds barged into your office unannounced and berated you for an unfortunate situation that you had nothing to do with?”
As Kyle Clark of 9News reported on Friday evening, Liston’s horrible comments were only the tip of the iceberg from Republicans. Last Wednesday — AFTER the East High School shootings — State Rep. Scott “There is No” Bottoms (R-Colorado Springs) flatly told an audience at a local church that the Republican response to personal stories of being impacted by gun violence was to flatly state, “We don’t care.”
Colorado’s GOP legislators are dismissing citizens coming to the Capitol to advocate for gun control. Sen. @LarryListon10 said East High students were “rude and impertinent” and Rep Scott Bottoms said they “don’t care” about testimony that’s “all about feelings.” #copoliticspic.twitter.com/WLA4VPBuRu
The “filibluster” that Rep. Bottoms promised to undertake on Friday evening instead began today. Members of the Republican micro-minority in the State House have been droning on for hours in opposition to SB23-170, an addition to Colorado’s successful “red flag” law that seeks to expand the list of people who can petition for an “extreme risk protection order” to temporarily remove a firearm from the possession of a person believed to be an immediate risk to themselves or others. This bill is a common sense addition to a program that has already been proven to save lives in Colorado, but that matters little to a Colorado Republican Party that now operates as little more than a subsidiary of the “no compromise” gun group Rocky Mountain Gun Owners (RMGO).
Republican lawmakers literally don’t care about how gun violence might impact Coloradans or their communities. They’re not even pretending otherwise.
Senate President Steve Fenberg addresses East High students on gun safety legislation.
As the Denver Post’s Capitol reports Nick Coltrain and Seth Klamannreported yesterday evening, for the second time this legislative session, the students of nearby East High School marched to the Colorado state capitol building to demand in the wake of gun violence on and near their campus that lawmakers pass stronger gun safety measures:
Hundreds of students from at least five Denver high schools, reeling from another school shooting, filled lawmakers’ offices and surrounded them in the hallways of the Capitol on Thursday to demand safer schools.
The rally was in response to the second shooting at East High School in as many weeks, but violence at any school affects every school, students said. They chanted slogans like “protect schools, not guns” from the Capitol steps…
On Wednesday, two administrators at the school were shot by a student, according to law enforcement. The student suspected of shooting the administrators was found dead by suicide hours later in Park County.
Students arriving at the state capitol to lobby lawmakers in favor of stronger gun safety laws yesterday, continuing today with Denver Public Schools closed for a “mental health day,” met two very different partisan reactions. Sympathetic Democrats welcomed students’ support for four gun safety bills moving through the legislature, and Sens. Chris Hansen and Rhonda Fields promised in response to news that the East High shooter may have utilized an untraceable “ghost gun” to introduce a new bill to ban them completely in the state.
According to a number of witnesses present, however, the interactions between East High students and Republican lawmakers were somewhat less cordial:
Got that, kids? Sen. Larry Liston was “happy” to be “berated” with your “rude and impertinent” “unannounced” grievances about your friends and administrators getting shot. What makes you think Liston can help? It’s not like lawmakers pass laws, right?
As for Republicans who hid in darkened offices as though high school students were January 6th insurrectionists, that’s just rank cowardice. For one thing, these students all went through the capitol’s metal detectors, which is more than we can say for clueless Republican lawmakers with a habit of fumbling their guns in a building where no one else can possess them. Why would armed Republican legislators be afraid of high school students who didn’t even smash any windows to get in the building like January 6th “sightseers?”
As one of Colorado’s longest-serving backbencher safe-seat Republicans, this is far from Larry Liston’s first offense when it comes to general disdain for children. Back in 2008, then-Rep. Liston drew scorn and was forced to apologize after he flat-out called unwed teen parents “sluts” in a debate over teen pregnancy rates. It’s not something Liston would be likely to repeat today, especially in earshot of Lauren Boebert, but we can see that time hasn’t made the kids any more welcome on Larry Liston’s lawn.
This time, Liston and friends helped turn a crowd of East High kids into lifetime Democratic voters.
► If you are a registered voter in Denver but have not yet cast your ballot ahead of the April 4th election — headlined by the first open race for Denver Mayor in 12 years — then welcome to the club! Less than 5% of Denver voters have cast a ballot as of today.
► Former President Donald Trump won’t likely be indicted for hush money payments to a porn star until at least next week. In the meantime, Trump is handling the wait with his typical subtlety and grace:
In the last 48 hours, Trump has called Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg “human scum” and “a degenerate psychopath who truely [sic] hates the USA.” He also warned of “death & destruction” if he’s charged with a crime. Trump is clearly terrified of his upcoming indictment and he’s… pic.twitter.com/vpEd2rw2ib
► As The Denver Post reports, students from several local high schools visited the State Capitol on Thursday to plead with lawmakers to take more action on gun safety:
Hundreds of students from at least five Denver high schools, reeling from another school shooting, filled lawmakers’ offices and surrounded them in the hallways of the Capitol on Thursday to demand safer schools.
The rally was in response to the second shooting at East High School in as many weeks, but violence at any school affects every school, students said. They chanted slogans like “protect schools, not guns” from the Capitol steps.
“This should have stopped with Luis,” Jasmine Brown, a junior at West High School, said. “This should have stopped with Columbine.”
Luis Garcia, a junior and varsity soccer player at East High School, was shot last month while sitting in his car outside of school. He died of his injuries.
The response from Republican lawmakers was…not good:
In a series of Tweets today, Colorado House Republicans cast the blame for shootings at East High School squarely on the Denver School Board.
As Westword reports, the Denver School Board completed quite the flip on its policy of armed police officers in public schools. Following the Black Lives Matter protests of 2020, the school board pulled armed police out of schools over concerns about officers potentially targeting minority students for extra scrutiny.
You know it’s BS and I know it’s BS and here it comes anyway.
Today, the Colorado Senate Democratic majority passed three important pro-choice bills over the fervent objections of the shrunken GOP minority. These three bills, to protect abortion rights in Colorado from out-of-state legal pursuits, limit “surprise billing” for abortion care, and regulate so-called “crisis pregnancy centers” set up to steer patients away from abortion for religious reasons, build on the landmark Reproductive Health Equity Act passed last year to formally protect abortion rights in the state following the repeal of Roe v. Wade.
But if all you knew about these three bills consisted of the press release sent out by Colorado Senate Republicans this afternoon, you would have no idea what these bills actually do:
Senate Bill 188 identifies a problem that it doesn’t solve and instead unnecessarily reiterates that gender-affirming health care and reproductive health care services are legal in Colorado.
“Unnecessarily reiterates?” If these same Republicans had their way, abortion would be illegal in Colorado. And the “problem” identified by the bill is other states taking legal action against Colorado abortion providers. Any comment on that?
Senate Bill 189 prioritizes abortions over other medical issues by requiring individual and small group health insurance plans to cover the complete cost of an abortion. Democrats rejected proposed amendments from Senator Jim Smallwood that would have included cost coverage for treatment of other life threatening diseases such as cancer.
Again, there’s nothing in this legislation that “limits women’s choices,” in fact it requires insurance companies to cover abortions without surprise bills for out-of-network providers. If Republicans want similar protections for other health conditions, propose a bill to do that (we’re not holding our breath).
That’s two out of three bills, and we still haven’t seen any evidence of Democrats “limiting women’s choices.” Apparently the justification for this mind scramble script-flipping comes in Senate Bill 23-190, which cracks down on so-called “crisis pregnancy centers.”
Senate Bill 190 suppresses abortion alternatives and marginalizes pregnancy resource centers by declaring the advertising and administration of abortion reversal medication a “deceptive trade practice.”
There is absolutely nothing in Senate Bill 190 that “suppresses abortion alternatives.” Everyone knows that if you don’t want to have an abortion you most certainly don’t have to, and as the fervently anti-abortion Sen. Barb Kirkmeyer herself pointed out yesterday, Planned Parenthood offers detailed educational resources on healthy childbearing in addition to abortion care. But when a patient arrives at a crisis pregnancy center instead of Planned Parenthood, their choices are inherently limited by not offering the option of an abortion.
This is such a plainly self-owning argument that we were momentarily taken aback, trying to figure out what we missed. After careful review, we’re forced to conclude it really is as outrageously dishonest as it looks.
Republicans are the only ones “limiting women’s choices” on abortion. To claim otherwise is not just false but madness.
That key around Kirkmeyer’s neck does not open a box of logical arguments.
Republican lawmakers in Colorado have spent the majority of their minority’s time in 2023 objecting to pretty much any legislation proposed by Democrats. It matters not whether the legislation is significantly objectionable or only moderately disagreeable — the response is the same on every issue of consequence.
In the State Senate on Tuesday, Republican Barbara Kirkmeyer of Weld County took her remonstrations to another level. Kirkmeyer was speaking on the Senate Floor in opposition to SB23-190 (“Deceptive Trade Practice Pregnancy-Related Service”), a bill that seeks to crack down on so-called “crisis pregnancy centers” — which are often funded by religious organizations — that advertise an array of services but actually only exist to sermonize against abortion and/or offer quack science alternatives such as non-existent drugs that claim to “reverse” abortions.
Over the course of about 25 minutes, Kirkmeyer barfed out a mouthful of completely ridiculous false-equivalency arguments that were a) Completely nonsensical; b) Either plainly false or an embarrassing example of Internet illiteracy; and c) Laughably hypocritical.
Let’s get right to the meat of her argument, in which Kirkmeyer narrates her attempted navigation of the Planned Parenthood website:
KIRKMEYER: It took me…three clicks. Three clicks on Planned Parenthood before I even got to the word ‘abortion.’ And when you go on to Planned Parenthood, what it says on their opening page is, ‘Maybe you want the facts on how pregnancy happens, or you’re pregnant, and want to know about your options, or want to know how to have a healthy pregnancy.’ This is Planned Parenthood…
…Yet when you go on their page, you have to go to three clicks. You go to a page that says, ‘Explore related topics.’ There’s this list. That list doesn’t say abortion. Number 11 on that list says ‘pregnancy options.’ And when you tap on ‘pregnancy options,’ then you finally for the first time read the word ‘abortion’ on the Planned Parenthood website. But again, nowhere on that list, when it says, ‘explore related topics,’ after it says it is about how to have a healthy pregnancy, does it say ‘abortion.’ It doesn’t show up.
So if we’re talking about deceptive practices, this is a [sic] agency, Planned Parenthood, who in their 2020-21 report provided evidence that it continues to prioritize abortion.
In fact…so…again, this bill wants to imply that crisis pregnancy centers are deceptive. And what I’m saying is, Planned Parenthood is deceptive. [Pols emphasis]
Kirkmeyer’s argument hits a problem right from the start. Kirkmeyer points out that Planned Parenthood encourages healthy pregnancies and tells patients the whole truth about different reproductive health options. That’s horrible! Er, wait…
Then Kirkmeyer claims that the Planned Parenthood website is deceptive because it takes her “three clicks” to find a mention of the word ‘abortion.’ We conducted that same experiment ourselves; it took us precisely NO CLICKS to discover the word ‘abortion’ right there on the home page of PlannedParenthood.org:
The home page of PlannedParenthood.org, which doesn’t mention the word ‘abortion’ at all (except for the four different times that it does).
It should serve as no surprise that Kirkmeyer is providing false information about Planned Parenthood. After all, she was perhaps the most egregious liar of all the 2022 Colorado candidates during her campaign for Congress in CO-08 (where she eventually lost to Democrat Yadira Caraveo).
Literally two weeks after Kirkmeyer told Jesse Paul of The Colorado Sun that she had been “very transparent” about her positions on the issue of abortion rights, her campaign website in CO-08 had become noticeably opaque on the subject. As Axios Denver reported in August 2022:
In a newly created Colorado battleground district, Republican Barb Kirkmeyer listed defending “the Sanctity of Life” on an issue page of her website, according to a July 5 archived version of the page. An old version also included a video of her speech at the 2022 March for Life event. Both references now appear to be gone.
To use Kirkmeyer’s own words from Tuesday’s Senate debate: “So if we’re talking about deceptive practices…”
If Republicans are ever going to crawl back into the good graces of Colorado voters, the first step might be to stop being so cravenly untrustworthy and patently ridiculous. For example, don’t say stupid crap that people can fact check for themselves with a quick Google search.
In our second episode of the week, theGet More Smarter Podcast sits down with Congressman Joe Neguse (D-Boulderish) for another visit to discuss being named the most effective lawmaker of the last Congress; his role leading the messaging arm of the House Democratic Caucus; and how his job is different now that Democrats are in the minority in the House of Representatives.
Later, we check back on two of our recurring segments, “That’s Bull***” and “The Boebert Report,” including the news from Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-ifle) that she’s about to be a 36-year-old grandmother. Colorado Republicans are fleeing the party after the selection of Dave Williams as State Party Chair; we’ll discuss this as well as why the GOP’s insistence on talking about Denver as a crime-infested hellhole is doing them no favors. Also, former gubernatorial candidate Heidi Ganahl has a new podcast/lecture series about why you’re wrong; how one candidate for Denver Mayor might now be in the driver’s seat for the runoff election; and remembering former Congresswoman Pat Schroeder, who died at the age of 82.
The GOP’s micro-minority office issued a statement on Tuesday complaining about how they were not included in a discussion about a joint resolution (HJR23-1018) declaring March 14, 2023 as “Equal Pay Day.” The entire statement is worth examining, both for the absurdity of the text itself and for the very obvious point that Republicans seem to have missed completely.
The Colorado House Republican Caucus released a joint statement on today’s resolution brought forth by the Democrats regarding women’s equal pay:
We’re not clear on whether this is a joint statement from Republicans in both chambers — which would make sense, given that the topic is about a joint resolution — or just a “joint statement” in that it represents all House Republicans.
We are disappointed that once again we weren’t notified by the majority caucus about this resolution, nor were we included in any discussions leading up to it being presented on the House floor. It is a recurring theme in this chamber that we are not even given the courtesy of being consulted about resolutions involving issues pertaining to women. [Pols emphasis] Unfortunately, time and again the talk about inclusivity seems to actually mean the exclusion of diverse opinions.
Sure, we peed in your pool at your last house party, but we won’t do it again. We swear!
This statement seems to forget that less than two weeks ago, Republicans turned a fairly uncontroversial resolution about the “Equal Rights Amendment” into a ridiculous circus of disgusting diatribes attacking transgender people and abortion rights. Republicans behaved in such an awful manner that Rep. Brianna Titone (D-Arvada) — the first transgender lawmaker in state history — took to the House Floor the following day to politely ask her GOP colleagues to stop being such complete assholes.
Legislative Democrats may have decided that they weren’t interested in doing this AGAIN after what happened on March 2, and who could blame them?
While we believe that equal pay is an important issue and we will continue to fight for the women in our state; we expect and deserve to be included in these discussions. We refuse to take part in the political games that are being played in this chamber by the majority, and we will not stop fighting for what is right for Colorado’s women. [Pols emphasis]
Moving forward, we will continue to work towards a fair and reasonable solution to the issue of equal pay. We believe that it is important to have an open and honest dialogue about this issue and to include diverse opinions from both sides of the aisle. [Pols emphasis]
Here’s what everyone else has learned from recent history: If you ask House Republicans to offer an opinion on an issue, someone will inevitably pull down their pants and take a dump on the floor right in front of you.
Legislative Republicans can spend the majority of their time catering to their extreme MAGA base by debasing both their fellow lawmakers and Coloradans in general…
…Or they can expect Democrats to take them seriously.
But they can’t do both, and they sure as hell can’t complain about a situation they created for themselves.
Colorado Republicans seem to have truly internalized the belief that they are always the victims in every scenario. Perhaps this is what blinds House Republicans to the consequences of their own actions and creates the idea that a “give and take relationship” means that Democrats give and Republicans take. Democrats have figured this out, and so have Colorado voters in recent election cycles.
We reap what we sow. Even if you are a Republican.
Tomorrow morning, two different Colorado Senate committees are set to hear testimony on a total of three pieces of legislation introduced by Democrats to further protect abortion rights in the state, as well as regulate dubious services offered by so-called “crisis pregnancy centers” substituting religious dogma and quack science for medical care. Denver7’s Meghan Lopezreported from the presser last week announcing this bill package:
So far this legislative session, a handful of Republicans have introduced anti-abortion bills, which all failed in committees. Democrats, on the other hand, want to further enshrine abortion and gender-affirming care into state law
During a press conference Thursday, three bills were unveiled. All three will start in the Colorado Senate….
The bills will start in the Senate and are likely to lead to some of the longest and most lively debates this legislative session.
The Denver Post’sSaja Hindisummarizes the three pro-abortion rights bills up tomorrow:
Cobalt, Colorado Organization for Latina Opportunity and Reproductive Rights, Planned Parenthood and New Era Colorado worked with lawmakers to craft three bills. Here’s what each would do if it became law:
SB23-188: Prevent the state from recognizing or engaging in any criminal prosecutions or civil lawsuits for anyone who receives, provides or assists in abortions and gender-affirming care. It also prevents state employees from participating in any such interstate investigations.
SB23-189: Limit surprise billing and require coverage for reproductive health care and treatments, including abortion, sterilization and sexually-transmitted infections. It also expands access to contraceptives and lets patients use Medicaid transportation for abortion services. And it allows any authorized provider to offer HIV medication, not just pharmacies.
The first bill up in the Senate Health and Human Services Committee, Senate Bill 23-188, is a direct challenge to states like Texas which have passed legislation allowing individuals to bring private lawsuits against abortion providers in order to enforce the law. Under this legislation, authorities in Colorado will have not just the right but the obligation to tell Texas abortion litigants to pound sand. Limiting “surprise billing” for reproductive health care, the first up in the Senate Judiciary Committee tomorrow, is a no-brainer just as it is for all other kinds of health care.
Although anti-abortion groups are mobilizing their crowds of faithful to testify against all three of these bills in committee tomorrow, the bill expected to draw the most ire from the religious right for both doctrinal and cold hard cash reasons is Senate Bill 23-190, legislation to crack down on so-called “crisis pregnancy centers”–well-funded religious organizations who lure in the unsuspecting to offer sermonizing and quack science instead of reproductive health care. The Colorado Times Recorder’sHeidi Beedlereported yesterday:
“I am joining Sen. Winter on a bill to crack down on what we know as anti-abortion centers, or crisis pregnancy centers, which use manipulation and deception to influence people seeking reproductive health care,” said Sen. Janice Marchman (D-Loveland) during a Thursday press conference. “Anti-abortion centers represent the on-the-ground presence of the national anti-abortion movement, offering dangerous, sometimes life-threatening medical procedures like so-called ‘abortion pill reversals.’ These centers are found all across our state. They outnumber legitimate abortion-providing clinics 51 to 20. Even worse, they often target marginalized communities, sometimes posting Spanish-language billboards in neighborhoods with large immigrant populations or offering free services to low-income communities. Right now, these ideologically-driven centers are free to present themselves as legitimate family planning, reproductive health care clinics. But the reality is, these are fake clinics that lure in vulnerable people seeking care. They peddle biased and inaccurate information about abortion care and contraceptives. And they take advantage of people during some of their most vulnerable moments.”
This bill operates on the simple argument that “crisis pregnancy centers” are not legitimate reproductive health providers. Being run by religious organizations who refuse to recommend the full range of options available to pregnant patients, these centers leave those who turn to them in crisis at risk of life-altering and even life-threatening outcomes. And as we’ve noted repeatedly in response to perennial Republican bills trying to legitimize the practice, abortion “reversal medication” is an “unproven medical approach” condemned by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.
As one of the nation’s strongest remaining havens for reproductive rights in the post-Roe world, Colorado doesn’t need fake reproductive health providers offering pregnant people false choices. What we should be doing instead, as these bills do, is strengthening and easing access to actual reproductive care.
Among the many social ills weaponized by Republicans for electoral gain last year (albeit ineffectively) was an undeniable increase in auto thefts, seized upon by Republicans along with the general uptick in property crimes over the past couple of years as evidence of Democratic mismanagement. The causes of increased criminal activity after decades of decline is a complicated subject best addressed with an exploration of the roots of the problem, but nuance was the last thing Republicans wanted as they demanded a crackdown and rollback of sentencing and police conduct reforms.
And of course, the only real way to solve the problem was to vote Republican last November! But in the end, voters saw through the GOP’s “Crimenado” blame-gaming, and instead punished Republicans at the polls once again. This year, a bipartisan bill to make the theft of low-value cars a felony, like cars worth over $2,500, is moving forward with little resistance–which neutralizes the politics of the issue at least for the present.
But even that is not the whole story: as it turns out, there’s a very much non-political factor helping drive the increase in auto thefts. KDVR FOX 31’s DJ Summers, the station’s “data guru” with relatively unconcealed conservative leanings, reports accurately:
Several Colorado authorities including the Colorado State Patrol, Auto Theft Prevention Authority, Division of Insurance and Division of Motor Vehicles have identified an increase in thefts of certain late-model Kias and Hyundais. These cars are being stolen more than 10 times as often as in 2019 and now make up a large share of the total number of cars stolen in the state. [Pols emphasis]
Former Senate Minority Leader Chris Holbert (R) riding the “Sharknado” of crime.
Last summer, a video posted to the social media site TikTok revealed a defect in a wide range of cars made by Hyundai, which also owns Kia, allowing vehicles that still use a traditional-style key to be easily stolen. Thieves need nothing more than a computer USB cable to turn the ignition and start affected cars.
The result? A massive spike in thefts of Hyundai and Kia models that we now know has significantly contributed to the overall increase in auto theft reported across the country and in Colorado:
These vehicles make up a disproportionate share of Colorado’s stolen vehicles. Of the motor vehicles stolen in 2022, 13% were Kias and 12% were Hyundais.
The share of passenger vehicles that are Kias or Hyundais is even higher. Together, those two makes represented about one-third of all stolen passenger vehicles in 2022. Kias were 15% of all stolen passenger vehicles and Hyundais another 15%.
To put this in perspective, in 2022 Hyundai and Kia had a combined 11% market share in U.S. light vehicle sales, but were responsible for a wildly disproportionate 25% of all motor vehicle thefts and 30% of passenger vehicle thefts. That’s not a political or even a criminal justice problem–it’s a product brand with a flaw being massively exploited.
It’s just another example of Colorado Republicans trying as they regularly do to turn every news headline into a political bludgeon to use against their opponents. But this time, the facts don’t fit the spin: a giant multinational corporation manufactured a defective product that led to a major spike in thefts of that product–enough to significantly skew the nationwide statistics for auto theft in 2022.
And as much as Republicans wanted easily-stolen Hyundais and Kias to be Jared Polis’ fault, it just isn’t.
(For obvious reasons regarding the narrative voice, this post is being published under the name of Jason Bane instead of Colorado Pols.)
So much for that filibuster.
It was at about 2:00 pm on Thursday afternoon when the Republican micro-minority in the State House launched a doomed “filibluster” attempt to delay voting on HB23-1219, a bill that seeks to implement a three-day waiting period for gun purchases. Over the course of more than 12 hours, Republicans babbled about the Second Amendment; read aloud the writings of Dave Kopel and rehashed the Conquistador point of view from Justin Diamond’s classic book “Guns, Germs, and Steel.”
At roughly 10:30 pm on Thursday night – more than eight hours since their filibuster began – House Republicans rejected a deal to bring their bickering to an end.
House Republicans accepted that same deal four hours later, finally concluding their pointless stand at 2:30 am on Friday morning. House Bill 23-1219 passed on second reading and moved forward.
THIS Is Your Great Injustice?
House Republicans drew this invisible line in the sand primarily because the no-compromise gun group Rocky Mountain Gun Owners (RMGO) and its Executive Director, Taylor Rhodes, demanded a “circus.” And as we’ve already seen before in this legislative session, when RMGO tells Republicans to dance…they f***ing dance.
There was no circus on Thursday and Friday. House Republicans could only manage a small, broken-down carnival atmosphere instead:
♦ Representative Ken “Skin” DeGraaf regularly mentioned data he found from a publication of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), but instead of using the full name for maximum time-wasting efficiency, DeGraaf used a shorthand that he kept pronouncing as “pee-nahs.”
♦ Rep. Richard Holtorf told lawmakers that he cared more about human life than any of them and would also die for any person in the chamber because…???
♦ Republicans took turns trying to one-up another with melodramatic stories about a woman who might have been assaulted if not for her gun…or the time so-and-so heard a weird noise downstairs that they didn’t check because it was probably nothing and it turned out to be nothing but hoo boy it was a good thing I had my Barrett .50 cal rifle under the bed.
As gun safety bills go, HB23-1219 is fairly benign. Implementing a three-day waiting period for gun purchases is a common sense idea borne of lived experiences. It allows for a “cooling off period,” as State Sen. Tom Sullivan so deftly explained a few weeks ago. Marianne Goodland of the publication formerly known as the Colorado Statesman reported on these real-world examples from a hearing earlier in the week:
Several witnesses recounted the heartbreak they suffered from the death of a loved one, some from suicide, some from homicide, all from guns.
Kaycie Artus said her daughter, Lindsay, died an hour after buying a gun. She was a language arts teacher in Douglas County who won teaching awards but also battled with depression and anxiety. Lindsay’s children would still have their mom if there had been a waiting period, added her friend, Jenny Gunther.
Kathy Hagan of Erie talked about the death of a friend’s father, who also struggled with mental health issues. He stopped taking his medication and bought a gun. Confronted by his daughter, he locked himself in the bathroom and shot himself.
“It was a cry for help,” Hagan said. A waiting period could have saved his life, she said.
Dr. Maya Haasz, a pediatrician representing the Colorado Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, pleaded with lawmakers to support the bill: “Young people who attempt suicide by firearm do not have the chance to change their minds.” She also pointed out that nine out of 10 children who use a firearm in their suicide attempt will die even though guns are used in only one of 20 suicide attempts.
Okay, fine, said Republicans. We see your real world examples and raise you some entirely theoretical concerns! What if a raccoon needs minigun right away so that it doesn’t get gobbled up by hungry coyotes? What if I get into an argument with a neighbor about the length of their grass lawn and I can’t run to the gun store to pick up something threatening?
The GOP argument against this legislation is that people should have the right to get a gun RIGHTNOWTHISMINUTE because you never know when the Chupacabra might come through your window and the Chupacabra does NOT respect three-day waiting periods.
But if you really think you need the ability to buy a gun RIGHTNOWTHISMINUTE, then there are two other more pressing concerns that need to be addressed instead:
When people go out and demand a gun RIGHTNOWTHISMINUTE, they have a tendency to use that gun RIGHTNOWTHISMINUTE. And that’s not good for them or the people they love.
If you find yourself in a situation in which you think you need a new gun RIGHTNOWTHISMINUTE, then you are almost certainly in a scenario that requires some very different help. For example, maybe you should be calling the police instead of running around trying to buy a new firearm.
A true filibuster has to have some sort of achievable goal based on opposition to a great injustice, whether that be delaying a vote or preventing one altogether on a controversial piece of legislation. Democrats hold an historically-large majority in the House (46-19), which means Republicans would have needed to flip at least a dozen Democrats in order to achieve a meaningful outcome.
This was never going to happen, and Republicans knew it. But their filibluster wasn’t about achieving anything. It was just simple angertainment from a caucus that thinks Colorado voters get excited about this sort of thing (spoiler alert: they don’t).
A true filibuster requires a cause that is just and noble. This is not that cause. Polling continually shows that Coloradans (and Americans, frankly) overwhelmingly support common sense gun safety legislation.
This bill is so nonthreatening to gun lovers that there weren’t many Republicans who showed up at the Capitol to lend their moral support. If even the gun nuts aren’t excited, then you have to ask for whom this angertainment performance is intended for in the first place.
► Colorado Republicans and their micro-minority in the state legislature are promising a big battle over some very common sense gun safety regulations, mostly because when Rocky Mountain Gun Owners (RMGO) tells Republicans to dance…
Republicans have promised to do whatever they can to fight the proposals — which include a ban on the sale of assault weapons, age limits and an expansion of the state’s red flag law — and cast them as ineffective solutions to complex problems.
The first of those bills — to institute a minimum three-day waiting period between a would-be gun buyer initiating a background check and taking ownership of the weapon — came before the House’s State, Civic, Military, & Veterans Affairs committee Monday. Three other gun reform measures will be in committee Wednesday. All are expected to pass committees controlled by Democrats, but they’re also certain to attract hours of testimony from opponents and supporters alike.
Fighting that and other bills, Republican minority leader Rep. Mike Lynch has said, is a top priority for his caucus…
…Lynch said the party is likely to launch hours of filibuster delays — akin to the 24-hour filibuster they undertook last year to fight a marquee abortion bill — to stall the gun legislation.
“It’s a bright, shiny thing that’s easier to approach than attacking the harder issues,” Lynch said of the gun reform bills. “We’re not talking about mental health because we’re going to waste the next three weeks dealing with guns. I’m not sure it’s an effort in the right direction.”
Ah yes, the old “why aren’t we talking about mental health legislation” canard. But here’s the thing: When Democrats propose legislation dealing with mental health as it relates to gun violence, Republicans back away from that, too. Monday’s bill to create a waiting period for firearms passed through a committee hearing despite RMGO’s limp protest.
Regardless, State Sen. Tom Sullivan (D-Aurora), whose son, Alex, was killed in the Aurora Theater Shootings, isn’t backing down:
Woah. @Sully_720 just told committee (#SB170, red flag upgrade) that activist (pro gun) told him they would turn Capitol into a circus. Sullivan said he’s going outside to look for the clown car. Not taking prisoners today. @colo_politics
► Senator Michael Bennet (D-Denver) has joined the legislative battle to ban Tik Tok — and potentially other foreign-based technology platforms — because of security concerns. From Colorado Public Radio:
The RESTRICT Act would give the Commerce Secretary new authority to identify and mitigate threats posed by foreign technology products and services in the United States.
“What we’re trying to deal with here is insecure information and communication technology,” explained Virginia Democratic Sen. Mark Warner, the chair of the chamber’s intelligence panel. “These risks are not going away and unfortunately, our tools to date have been relatively limited.”
Warner said the secretary’s new powers would extend “up to and including the opportunity to ban.” He added such decisions would be risk-based, informed by intelligence, and follow a clear process, instead of the current ad hoc approach. The bill would also allow for the declassification of information on how a certain foreign tech might pose undue or unacceptable risks.
Bennet and others noted that while the popular social media app TikTok is the concern now, the threat around foreign tech goes back years, ranging from Russia’s Kaspersky Labs, which produced an antivirus software, to Huawei’s 5G system.
►Vox.com digs into Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who is hoping to boost his likely Presidential campaign by staging an all-out assault on the First Amendment.
DeSantis wants to eliminate the First Amendment safeguards that prevent lawsuits seeking to strong-arm the press into silence.
He’s been very clear about this goal: In February, DeSantis led a roundtable discussion brainstorming ideas to weaken the press’s First Amendment protections. Flanked by a panel dominated by defamation plaintiffs and lawyers, the Orbánesque governor attacked the Supreme Court’s landmark decision in New York Times v. Sullivan (1964) for, in his words, empowering a media that will “find a way to smear you.”
Sullivan was a historic decision establishing that the government (and, in many cases, private litigants) may not censor the media, political advocates, and the public at large through defamation suits intended to shut down dissenting voices. The case arose out of a Jim Crow-era official’s attempt to silence civil rights protesters. It established that someone accused of making false claims about a public figure regarding a matter of public concern may not be held liable for defamation, unless the statement was made “with knowledge that it was false or with reckless disregard of whether it was false or not.”
Without Sullivan, government officials could potentially use defamation suits to impose financially devastating liability on their political enemies — which is what an Alabama official tried to do in Sullivan itself. And a wealthy individual who disagrees with a newspaper’s coverage could potentially fund lawsuits targeting any false statement made by that newspaper, no matter how minor, until the sheer cost of defending against these suits bankrupts the paper.
New York Times v. Sullivan is a very important ruling that also protects blogs like ours.
With the 2023 session of the Colorado General Assembly well underway, a conservative group known as Colorado Liberty Republicans has released a scorecard of all 100 Colorado House and Senate members ranking their “vote[s] according to Constitutional Principles: Individual Rights, Free Markets and Limited Government.” A fair amount of work went into tracking each lawmaker’s status on an exhaustive list of bills, so whether you agree with their slant or not it’s a wealth of data worth a glance at least.
So who, you ask, is the most unshakable liberty-loving conservative Republican in the Colorado legislature today? The answer might surprise you based on the recent headlines:
It’s no coincidence that these lawmakers have been involved with some of the greater embarrassments so far this session, like turning the debate over a resolution in support of the Equal Rights Amendment into a circus of transphobia. Reps. Ken “Skin” DeGraaf and Scott “There Is No” Bottoms have emerged as the leading public faces of the House GOP minority caucus by turning the incendiary rhetoric up to 11 at every opportunity. But while DeGraaf and Bottoms hog the spotlight, it’s Rep. Stephanie Luck easily besting all of them as the ideological pole star of the caucus–and it’s not close.
Rep. Luck was one of only two non-freshman lawmakers to vote in support of Bottoms’ failed and widely-criticized bid for House speaker, which was also a vote of disloyalty to GOP House Minority Leader Mike Lynch. Together with DeGraaf and Bottoms, Luck represents the “next generation” leadership of the former hard-right GOP caucus faction once led by ex-House Minority Leader Patrick Neville.
And making Neville proud, they’re the tail wagging the dog. When the time inevitably comes for the caucus to get publicly upset about the lack of spirit in the House micro-minority’s resistance, here’s where the belly-thumping will begin.
Just like Congressperson Lauren Boebert, State Rep. Matt Soper (R-Delta) will say pretty much anything.
Last weekend, Republican State Rep. Matt Soper (R-Delta) posted on Twitter that efforts to enact gun safety measures (presumably by the state legislature) could have ominious consequences. As Soper wrote: “We will NOT bow to tyrants and those who seek to disarms [sic] us need to be prepared for civil war!”
On Monday, Soper asked for a moment of personal privilege on the House Floor so that he could “apologize” for his words, though he never actually said WHAT part of his Tweet needed clarification. Soper also did not delete the Tweet in question — he was probably thrilled at the engagement it received — so there’s no reason to take him at his word that he felt some sort of regret for anything he wrote.
In an uncharacteristic comment, Rep. Matt Soper called for civil war over several bills before the Colorado Legislature dealing with gun control. [Pols emphasis]
Without being specific about what of the four gun measures he was referring to, the Delta Republican wrote:
“Come and take it! They’ll have to invade the West Slope and murder us if they intend on us being defenceless! (sic),” he wrote in a Saturday tweet, a comment he also sent to The Daily Sentinel earlier that day. “We will NOT bow to tyrants and those who seek to disarms (sic) us need to be prepared for civil war!”
On Monday, Soper stood before the Colorado House and apologized for at least “some of those words,” but didn’t say which words he was apologizing for using. [Pols emphasis]
The Unambiguously Lame Duo of Reps. Scott Bottoms and Ken DeGraaf may sound ridiculous, but there’s no hiding who they are.
In his non-apology apology on Monday, Soper began by saying, “Normally I’m known as rational and reasonable, and choosing my words very carefully.” Soper than immediately contradicted himself when he said of those words, “They were chosen carefully.”
In other words, Soper “carefully” chose his threat about gun safety laws inciting a “civil war.” This was not a mistake. Soper did not misspeak. The only reason he pretended to apologize is because he hoped media outlets would pretend that he apologized, too.
Soper’s statement on Monday is another reminder that we shouldn’t make any extra effort to be surprised when elected Republicans in Colorado use theatrical and uncouth rhetoric on any particular issue. Soper’s words over the weekend were not “uncharacteristic” — they were perfectly in character for a Republican who has shown again and again that he’ll do or say pretty much anything to remain in elected office.
Two years ago, Soper did basically the same thing on a different topic. Soper was called out by Charles Ashby at the Daily Sentinel for comments on Facebook in which Soper alleged — without a shred of evidence — that municipal elections in Mesa County had been rigged by Dominion Voting Services (Soper is also a supporter of former Mesa County Clerk and Recorder Tina Peters). Soper DEFENDED his comments in an interview with Ashby, using the now-common Republican canard of saying, Hey, we’re just asking questions!
Later that summer, Soper got caught red-handed trying to illegally influence the redistricting process in order to make sure new district lines were drawn to benefit his re-election hopes. A few months after this episode, Soper dismissively referred to an argument between Republican Congressperson Lauren Boebert and Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar as a “cat fight.” Soper didn’t apologize for any of those comments, either.
The only difference between someone like Soper and his even more extreme and ridiculous colleagues (we’re looking at you, Reps. Scott “There is No” Bottoms and Ken “Skin” DeGraaf) is that Soper likes to pretend that he practices a more reasonable ridiculousness.
Threatening a civil war, as Soper did, is not “uncharacteristic” of him or his caucus. Hijacking a hearing about the Equal Rights Amendment in order to attack transgender people and abortion rights is not “uncharacteristic” of the GOP. This is who they are now.
Colorado Republicans keep showing us their true selves. We may wish they were different than they are. We may want to see something more in them. But we can’t find something that isn’t there.
The race to become the next Mayor of Denver has been fairly uninteresting to this point — aside from the regular commentary regarding the absurdly-large field of candidates — but with ballots hitting mailboxes next week, things are finally starting to heat up.
State Representative Leslie Herod is widely-considered to be residing within the top tier of Mayoral candidates, a list that includes (in no particular order) Debbie Ortega, Chris Hansen, Mike Johnston, and Kelly Brough. Today, Herod was on the receiving end of attacks in two publications regarding some oft-heard rumors that she tends to treat her staffers poorly.
Axios Denver reports that Herod has been accused of fostering a “toxic workplace culture,” a shorter but similar story published by Denverite with the headline: “Former Leslie Herod aide says her time in the mayoral candidate’s office was ‘degrading’.”
More than a dozen current and former lawmakers, lobbyists, political strategists and legislative aides tell Axios Denver that Herod bullied, berated or belittled them when they worked with her…
…In interviews with Axios, Herod’s colleagues and associates shared similar experiences while working with her during her six-plus years at the Capitol. They used the same words to describe a toxic work environment, with some suggesting her behavior amounted to verbal harassment and others calling it inappropriate…
…One veteran Democratic strategist, Sheena Kadi, went public with concerns about Herod, saying she won’t be supporting her campaign for mayor because she is not a good boss.
Axios also reports that “a Latino advocacy organization confirmed it no longer assigns interns to work in Herod’s legislative office after two of its fellows reported experiencing an unhealthy work environment.”
The Denverite story, meanwhile, begins with concerns from a former staffer named Kaylee Browning, who alleges — among other things — that Herod dismissed a medical issue related to her hearing. Browning also says that her job under Herod consisted largely of running personal errands:
“It was rough. It was really rough,” Browning said. “She was very mean. I don’t remember like yelling so much, it’s like ‘you have poor critical thinking skills,’ like degrading to the point of like you just could not do right by this individual.”
Throughout the 2017 session, Browning said Herod alienated her small staff, and on the last day they didn’t celebrate together, like other lawmakers and aides.
Dejected by the experience, Browning left politics for good on the last day of that session.
Axios says that former colleagues spoke out “on condition of anonymity because they feared retribution.” Denverite also claims to have spoken to more than a dozen aides and lawmakers, “all of whom spoke on condition of anonymity, for fear of reprisals. Many didn’t want specific incidents published because it would identify who said it.”
While Browning never filed an official complaint about her time as an aide for Herod, Denverite reports that “the general outline of her account was corroborated by other Capitol staffers who knew her, and by friends and family she confided in at the time.”
These accounts are reminiscent of concerns that plagued Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar when she was seeking the Democratic nomination for President in 2020. Klobuchar responded to these concerns by saying that she had “high expectations.” In early 2019, Klobuchar acknowledged being a tough boss during a forum sponsored by CNN:
“Am I a tough boss sometimes? Yes. Have I pushed people too hard? Yes.”
Herod took a different approach when confronted with these accusations from former staffers. Axios Denver says that Herod did not respond to messages seeking comment, and that her Mayoral campaign declined to make her available for an interview. Herod did speak to Denverite, but her rebuttal was unconvincing:
Herod told Denverite she was taken aback to hear of the negative experience staffers had.
“This is the first time I’ve ever heard of it,” she said. “I have never received any complaint at all from any of my aides or staffers.” [Pols emphasis]
This is virtually impossible to believe. Rumors about Herod’s treatment of staffers have circulated for years; there’s simply no way that Herod is just now hearing these complaints for the first time. If Herod was truly surprised by the accusations, why would she go out of her way to avoid responding to Axios Denver? And if she wants voters to believe that she was unaware of the concerns, what does that say about her level of self-awareness as a politician?
And then there’s this from Denverite:
Herod’s campaign provided contacts to Denverite for about a dozen lawmakers and former and current staff. Some staffers ultimately didn’t want to speak on the record, but two former staffers did. [Pols emphasis]
Herod’s campaign provided a dozen names to Denverite to counteract these claims…but only two of those people would talk on the record? Additionally, one of the former aides who responded to Denverite, Phoebe Blessing, is now the policy director for Herod’s Mayoral campaign; Blessing is not exactly an unbiased source on this topic.
There are two common themes in both the Axios and Denverite stories: 1) The people who are critical of Herod’s treatment of staff are speaking out more loudly than Herod’s supporters, and 2) Herod’s response to these allegations does little to douse the flames — and might have even made things worse.
The allegations reported today by Axios and Denverite should not have been a surprise for Herod…just as her response should not have been to actsurprised. All of this could prove devastating for Herod’s Mayoral hopes. In a race with 17 candidates, voters don’t need a lot of reasons to pick someone else.
On Thursday in the State House of Representatives, a handful of Republican lawmakers strode to the podium during a discussion about the Equal Rights Amendment to barf out a litany of complaints about issues ranging from abortion to the very existence of transgender people. It was a disgusting breach of decorum and common decency from a Republican micro-minority that seems intent on crossing those lines at every available opportunity.
On Friday morning, Representative Brianna Titone (D-Arvada) requested a moment of personal privilege to reflect on her experiences on the House Floor on Thursday (Titone is serving in her third term after becoming the first transgender lawmaker in state history in 2019). Titone had a very simple point for her colleagues — particularly those on the Republican side such as Reps. Scott Bottoms and Ken DeGraaf: If you can’t manage to look your colleague in the eye when you say something, then you probably shouldn’t be saying it at all.
You can watch Titone’s powerful and thoughtful speech below, or read the entire text that follows:
TITONE:I don’t know why a resolution on the Equal Rights Amendment…turned into demeaning, dismissive, and derogatory remarks about me and people like me, among other things.
Whether you like it or not, I am your colleague. Whether you believe me or people like me should exist, I do exist, and I am your equal in this chamber. I accomplished the same thing that you did to be here, and I proudly represent ALL of my constituents in the course of my work in this chamber. [Pols emphasis]
Obviously the decisions we make here are not ones that everyone can agree on. But I do my best to do the work that my constituents put me here to do every single day. I have no problem disagreeing, and accepting that we disagree on topics. But I won’t take my disagreement to the level of insulting and demeaning my colleagues. I believe in decorum and collegiality in this forum, and I believe in respect for people despite our differences.
Yesterday I felt disrespected and diminished. Trans people are simply claiming our unalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. But how can we have that when what you say tries to take that away from us?
Today, I’m standing up for myself and people like me. For kids who are like me. For YOUR constituents who are like me – who you refuse to acknowledge. I would like to see ways we can disagree without being disrespectful. I would like to see us be able to disagree and look each other in the eyes when we say these things. If we can acknowledge the pain that we cause each other by ignoring it, we shouldn’t be saying the things we are saying.
I sat in my chair listening and looking at colleagues – in the eyes – as they said demeaning, dismissive things to me…which felt like a VERY long time. But I got no eye contact back. Why? Can you not disagree with my existence in your presence and not look me in the eye? By the way, my existence is not up for debate. It’s not something you can disagree away, and I will not let anyone – in this chamber or outside this chamber – bully or intimidate me out of my existence. Not today, and not EVER.
That facts still remain that what was said yesterday was dangerous rhetoric that harms people and encourages bullying. If you also recognized that this rhetoric was harmful, enough to reach out to me afterwards, I hope that next time you will find it within yourself to call it out in the moment for what it is.
I have had many conversations with people inside and outside of this body who disagree with me – with people who have said they have a problem with me being in the bathroom with them. People who don’t understand why I am the way that I am. And people who fundamentally disagree with me on certain issues.
My approach? I ask them questions, with empathy. I want to understand why they feel that way. Although I am the one in the position of [being] less-privileged, the one facing the hardship, I ask THEIR feelings and their positions. Very few people bother to ask me about me. Many of you think, what could I possibly have in common with THAT person. Many of you don’t care to know or want to know about people different from you because if you did, I think it would be a lot harder for you to say the hurtful things that were said yesterday from this well.
We have been granted great power and responsibility with the badges we bestow on our lapels. This was entrusted by the people of Colorado to conduct ourselves in this chamber with decorum and respect to debate – not denigrate. I ask you to use your power wisely. Our relationships are built on trust and mutual respect. We don’t just speak to the TV cameras. We speak here to our colleagues, to our constituents, and to the young people – and the words that we say affect me, us, and them.
I implore all of you to think about the words and consider whether or not you can look your colleagues, or your constituents, in the eye when you say these things directly to them. If you can’t, I would suggest that you find kinder ways to disagree, and foster a better environment for everyone who walks these hallowed halls and those who observe us here. [Pols emphasis]
The Notorious RBG would like a word with these nitwits
The month of March is recognized as “Women’s History Month” — officially established by Congress in 1987 — which made today a good time for the State House of Representatives to discuss a resolution marking the 100th anniversary of the first effort to establish the Equal Rights Amendment.
While you might not expect this to be particularly controversial — though there is conservative opposition to the idea — you can never underestimate the ability of the lunatic Republican micro-minority in the State House to turn even the most benign discussion into an hours-long rant about abortion, transgender athletes, and even gun rights.
There’s a lot to discuss here. Keep reading, because things get progressively weirder as the yammering continues.
Senate Joint Resolution 23-006 is the Colorado legislature’s effort to prod Congress toward approving the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA), which would guarantee equal rights for all American citizens regardless of sex. What should have been a fairly straightforward discussion devolved into all sorts of ridiculous nonsense, led again by “The Unambigiously Lame Duo” of Republican Reps. Scott “There is No” Bottoms and Ken “Skin” DeGraaf. There were plenty of other Republicans rushing to the podium to air their grievances, including Reps. Richard Holtorf, Stephanie Luck, and Brandi Bradley. Once again, House Minority “Leader”Mike Lynch was apparently fine with letting his caucus elaborate at length on why Colorado voters should never, under any circumstances, allow these people to be in charge of anything.
Republican Rep. Scott “There is No” Bottoms on his way to mansplain the Equal Rights Amendment
Let’s begin with Rep. Bottoms, who marched through a gathering of female lawmakers to tell everyone about how he is more of a feminist than his own wife:
“I’d like to speak to this amendment, and why I strongly agree with it and to give some language to it also.”
In other words, let me explain the ERA to you ladies…
Bottoms talked about being an ordained minister and how his wife — also a minister — had a tough time being formally ordained in their “Assemblies of God’ ministry. “I know how this actually works firsthand,” said Bottoms, apparently unfamiliar with the meaning of the word ‘firsthand.’
Bottoms then pivoted from his amazing feminism to his real point: Abortion.
In fact, I am a little more egalitarian than my wife is. So I have fought this sometimes when she just wants it to move on because she’s fighting too big of a machine. I don’t let that happen – I fight FOR her, because I actually believe in rights of women. Not SOME rights of women, but all women. I believe in unborn women’s rights. I believe in all women’s rights, on every single level.
‘But your Letter was the first Intimation that another Tribe more numerous and powerful than all the rest were grown discontented. — This is rather too coarse a Compliment but you are so saucy, I wont blot it out.’
The Unambiguously Lame Duo of Reps. Scott Bottoms and Ken DeGraaf
“That one really speaks to me,” said Bottoms. He then moved on to explain how Republicans are the true warriors for women’s rights:
“[Adams] is saying that our brave heroes would fight for women. We are pushing back in today’s context. This started out – as mentioned earlier – this started out as a Republican mentality. When the Democrats took it over, it stalled out, completely, until Ginsberg said, ‘We should let it go and start over.’
This is where we are at with this. We believe in women, but we believe in the rights of all women, under all circumstances, under no deviation from that.”
Quoting former Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg out of context was a regular thing for both Bottoms and DeGraaf. Bottoms then complained about woke culture, or something:
“We can’t even define what a woman is today. We call it ‘pregnant persons’ and things like that.”
We do? Okay.
Bottoms moved on to complain about the “right of a woman to compete in single-sex athletics” and the right of a mother to hold dominion over her female offspring:
“The right of a mother to refuse coerced medical treatment on her daughter and the right of a mother to speak up at school boards without the fear of reprisal are still being infringed TO…THIS…VERY…MOMENT.”
Bottoms would return to the podium on multiple occasions, eventually introducing an amendment to the ERA resolution to recognize the right of women to “live by moral beliefs”; to refuse abortion rights for their children (“coerce medical options”); to let them rant freely at school board meetings; and to prevent transgender athletes from competing in women’s sports. Oh, and also the ERA should include unfettered rights to shoot people with firearms. Equal rights, baby!
Representatives DeGraaf and Stephanie Luck also chimed in with their own amendments in opposition to transgender people in general.
“The rights of women are, and have been, enshrined in our Constitution from the beginning,” said DeGraaf after reading the “All men are created equal” preamble from the Declaration of Independence. “Perhaps not always recognized, but they have been enshrined.”
Republican Rep. Ken “Skin” DeGraaf smirks after saying that Republicans were the first to recognize women’s rights.
DeGraaf explained that the Founding Fathers were only using the word “men” in a general sense…or something.
“The pronoun ‘he’ is a generic that all men are created equal. [It] is a generic. It means all men or women unless it is specifically known to be male. Well, a female has an individual, a specific pronoun that is, uh, that would be considered special.
“Abigail Adams was determined to foment a rebellion if the ladies were not more generously acknowledged in the new Constitution. She didn’t. There was no rebellion fomented. So it can only be naturally recognized that they were.”
This is “DeGraaf Logic” in action: Because women didn’t rebel at the time the Declaration of Independence was drafted, it must mean that women who lived in that time understood that they did indeed have equal rights already. You could make the same dumb argument about Black slaves, of course, but let’s move along…
“The first female representatives were Republicans, as were the first representatives who happened to be female. So I’d like to say to my Democrat colleagues, ‘Welcome.’”
At this, DeGraaf smirked and left the podium. You can thank Republicans for the equal rights that you already have…even though this entire discussion is about an Equal Rights Amendment that millions of women believe is still necessary. Got it!
In a failed effort to appear smarter than he actually is, DeGraaf returned to the podium later to read some ERA history from his iPad — including, again, numerous quotes from Ruth Bader Ginsburg — before firing off some big words that he may or may not actually understand:
“Well, recognizing that as a heterogametic human, that my colleagues don’t necessarily recognize my equal rights before the law in this matter.”
Here’s a Wikipedia entry on heterogametic and homogametic sex that may help you make sense of what DeGraaf thinks he’s talking about. Anyway, DeGraaf uses his big thesaurus brain to move from the ERA to abortion, naturally. He cites former Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney of New York for comments she made in 2019 that he claims were false statements that the ERA is NOT about abortion.
“Me thinks that the Representative doth protest too much. The Equal Rights Amendment-abortion connection has already been established for more than 40 years when Maloney tried to deny it.”
Boy Wonderbread continues with his explanation that “Sex is represented as the difference between homogametic and heterogometic in an XY organism such as a human,” using this as a jumping off point for an amendment about…fetacide?
“In the June 22 decision Dobbs v Jackson, the Supreme Court held that the Constitution does not confer a right to abortion — actually feticide. This will no doubt intensify the search by feticide advocates for a constitutional alternatives. Despite denials that no one believes the groundwork has already been laid and all eyes are on the Equal Rights Amendment.
So again, in recognized recognition of the work and intellect of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, I would request that you would recognize my equality before the law and speaking to this body as a heterogametic individual and vote yes on this amendment for the sake of historical accuracy.”
It is both disgusting and infuriating to watch House Republicans turn a discussion about the Equal Rights Amendment into an extended diatribe about abortion, guns, transgender athletes, and whatever the hell DeGraaf is talking about. But the real harm here is to Colorado Republicans in general.
The further Republicans sink into DeBottoms — and the more members of its historically-small caucus that follow along — the harder it becomes for Republicans to make a serious argument in 2024 that Colorado voters should put them in charge. Other Republicans, such as Senate Minority Leader Paul Lundeen, can scream all they want about how there are “other perspectives” in the GOP’s “diverse caucus,” but nobody can hear them over the unhinged rhetoric of the rightest right-wing members in their tribe.
If it’s true that the month of March will come in like a lamb and out like a lion (or vice-versa), what do you make of today? Sort of a lamb/lion hybrid? Let’s GetMore 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.
► Here’s a quick look at what’s happening in the Colorado legislature:
► As The Denver Post reports, Colorado food banks are bracing for a rush in demand as some pandemic-era benefits come to an end:
Since March 2020, people who qualify for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly known as food stamps, have received the maximum legal allotment for their household size. Starting Wednesday, the program will revert back to its previous formula, based on household income and certain expenses, such as rent and utilities.
The Colorado Department of Human Services estimated the average person receiving SNAP benefits in the state will lose about $90 in assistance per month, for a roughly $53 million monthly reduction overall. In January, monthly payments averaged about $538 per household in Colorado, and about 553,000 people in more than 291,000 households received food assistance.
The “emergency allotments” were supposed to expire when the federal public health emergency ends in May, but Congress opted to end them early. Nearly 30 million people nationwide will see their food assistance reduced this month. Eighteen states already reduced benefits, affecting about 10 million people.
► Senator John Hickenlooper (D-Denver) today introduced Phil Washington at a confirmation hearing to become the next head of the Federal Aviation Administration. Washington is currently the CEO of Denver International Airport. Click here to view Hickenlooper’s full remarks.
A free-ranging debate between six candidates for Colorado Republican Party chair last Saturday was sponsored by the Republican Women of Weld County, a group that does a pretty good job of wrangling Republican candidates for all sorts of different candidate forums. The moderators were Jesse Paul of The Colorado Sun and Ernest Luning of the publication formerly known as the Colorado Statesman.
The venue was Ben’s Brick Oven Pizza in Hudson, Colorado, where about two dozen old white people gathered to hear the six candidates for State Republican Party Chair lay out whatever it is that they think can prevent the no-longer-slow death of the Colorado GOP following a 2022 election beatdown of epic proportions.
The candidates are:
♦ Erik Aadland, who ran for U.S. Senate on a platform of election denial in 2022 before switching horses to CO-07, where he was thoroughly dismantled by Democrat Brittany Pettersen.
♦ Casper Stockham, who ran for State GOP Chair in 2021 and lost. Stockham has also run (and failed to win) races in CO-01, CO-06, and CO-07 in recent years. Statistically-speaking, this might be Stockham’s year if only because you’d think he’d have to win something eventually.
♦ Aaron Wood, who is fairly new to organized politics but is certain that everyone else, especially outgoing party chair Kristi Burton Brown, is doing it wrong.
♦ Tina Peters, the former Mesa County Clerk and Recorder who is a betting favorite to be in prison before the end of this year for a long list of alleged crimes related to breaking into her own election computers in an attempt to find the little ballot-eating smurfs that live inside the server.
♦ Dave “Let’s Go Brandon” Willams, the far-right “edgelord” former State Representative from Colorado Springs who got his butt kicked by America’s least charismatic Rep. Doug Lamborn in a Republican primary for Congress last summer.
♦ Kevin Lundberg, a former State Representative and State Senator who has won more races himself than the rest of this field combined. Unfortunately for fans of sanity, Lundberg was a right-wing lunatic years before it was popular to be a right-wing lunatic–so it’s not like he’s bringing a different perspective to the race.
Let’s start with the obvious: there are no winners in this pack. As former State Republican Party Chair Dick Wadhamsobserved recently, “every one of these six candidates would drive the party into deeper oblivion with their conspiratorial, exclusionary and politically naïve agendas that are already repelling a rapidly changing Colorado electorate.”
As you’ll discover, every one of the candidates who participated in this debate proved Wadhams right.
Let’s get to it. Anything not included in direct quotes is paraphrased in the interest of time.
Wells of Colorado’s two biggest local oil producers pumped $3 billion in profits last year, and the companies see production holding steady in 2023 despite freezing temperatures sharply cutting production to start the year…
PDC Energy, which has some production in West Texas, expects to average 255,000 to 265,000 barrels of oil and natural gas equivalents per day in 2023. Close to 88% of that will be from northeast Colorado.
Pumping an average of 247,000 barrels of oil and gas in 2022 netted the company nearly $1.8 billion in full-year profits from $4.3 billion in oil and gas sales in 2022, using the sale figure before financial hedges are counted.
Dan Haley of the Colorado Oil and Gas Association.
Keep in mind that these huge profits were reaped during the 2022 election year, when the high price of gas and its contribution to general economic inflation was seized upon as a political weapon for Republicans to use against Democrats. As it turns out, “Bidenflation” was a river of profits flowing directly into the pockets of industries who complained the most about the policy changes from ex-President Donald Trump to Joe Biden’s administration.
The massive profits reaped by energy companies while their political surrogates blamed Democrats for high prices charged to consumers is indefensible, but the dishonesty required to make the claim is nothing new–especially in Colorado, where oil and gas producers have been openly lying to the public for years, warning that additional regulations on their business would “shut down oil and gas” production in Colorado. This misinformation reached its peak during the battle over 2019’s Senate Bill 181, which changed the mission of oil and gas regulators in Colorado to prioritize public health over growing the industry. This legislation and its now-proven fictional “disastrous impact” on the oil and gas industry helped fuel a recall campaign against a Greeley-based Democratic lawmaker that forced her resignation in the summer of 2019, as well as the successive failed recall campaigns against Gov. Jared Polis and other Democratic lawmakers that continued to sputter as recently as last year.
Four years after the passage of Senate Bill 181, not only is the industry alive and well, but in their own words thriving like they haven’t in decades:
PDC Energy’s $1.3 billion acquisition of Denver-based Great Western Oil & Gas, which closed in May, gave it more drilling locations, and now the company counts an inventory of 2,100 wells it can drill in coming years, most of which would be profitable at oil prices significantly lower than today, the company says.
“PDC Energy today is in the strongest position in its 50-year history,” said Lance Lauck, executive vice president of corporate development and strategy, during Thursday’s conference call. [Pols emphasis]
Between the passage of Colorado’s landmark oil and gas reforms in 2019 and today, the industry has endured global shocks like the pause in demand during the COVID-19 pandemic and the invasion of Ukraine by Russia–both of which immeasurably more impactful events on the industry than the passage of SB-181. Now that we know this industry reaped massive profits after terrorizing Coloradans over the passage of legislation they warned would “shut down oil and gas” in Colorado, why would anyone trust them when they argue that further regulation to clean up the industry would do the same?
If the price of energy justifies it, Colorado producers will play by the rules to get it. But before they give in, they’ll make up a campaign of lies and foment political chaos to avoid playing by the rules. But the one thing they can’t hide is the massive profits that belie all of their false claims of persecution.
Last week we wrote about two related topics involving Republicans at the Colorado legislature: 1) The crazy, no-hope bills being promoted by the rhetorical leaders of the GOP House caucus, Colorado Springs Reps. Scott “There is No” Bottoms and Ken “Skin” DeGraaf; and 2) An open question about who is actually leading a caucus that is moving further to the right and away from the majority of Colorado voters.
Today, courtesy of Elliott Wenzler of The Colorado Sun, we can coalesce these two posts into one singular thought:
Banning abortion. Restricting transgender athletes’ participation in school sports. Slashing state revenues by cutting the income tax rate.
A wave of bills Republicans are introducing in the Democrat-controlled Colorado legislature reads like a list of hot-button GOP talking points. And that’s not by mistake, even if they have no chance of becoming law.
House Minority Leader Mike Lynch, R-Wellington, said the measures — some of which are highly controversial — are “statement bills” that show Coloradans what Republicans’ priorities are and how they would lead the state if they were in charge.
“I think if we were suddenly to be in the majority, you’d see a whole bunch of really drastic right-wing legislation,” Lynch said. [Pols emphasis] “But I think that’s largely a factor of the fact that we’ve been out of the majority for so long. We’re trying to fix these things that have piled up over the last 10 years.”
What we have here is House Minority Leader Mike Lynch (R-Wellington) making it crystal clear that the extremism on display from the Republican micro-minority in the State House is not a lack of leadership nor a problem of strategic indifference — it is instead an intentional approach geared toward attracting the attention of Colorado voters.
Senate Minority Leader Paul Lundeen and his pleading eyes.
We’re not entirely convinced that this is really part of a broader plan sketched out in advance. Lynch may just be saying this now in order to make it appear that he has more control over his caucus than he actually does. But regardless, this comment from Lynch is going to come back to haunt Republicans again and again ahead of the 2024 election cycle. Colorado voters have affirmed in the past three election cycles that they want no part of any “really drastic right-wing legislation.”
The few remaining rational Republicans at the State Capitol understand this problem. Back to The Colorado Sun:
The legislation may only be sponsored by a handful of Republicans, but they reflect on the entire caucus. Senate Minority Leader Paul Lundeen, R-Monument, urged people not to necessarily lump the entire GOP together. [Pols emphasis]
“The Republican caucus is an intellectually diverse caucus. It brings an array of perspectives,” he said. “One or two people have a strong conviction of this specific nature and there may be other perspectives.”
Republicans should have left THIS cat in the bag.
Every Colorado legislator can submit up to five different bills each legislative cycle, and the State Constitution guarantees that every one of those bills must at least be granted a committee hearing. Thus, there is no way for Republicans or Democrats to prevent crazypants legislation from getting its moment in the spotlight…supposing either caucus would want to get in the way here.
Wenzler writes in The Sun that “Democrats are effectively powerless to stop controversial GOP measures from seeing the light of day.” While this is true in a technical sense, from a strategic sense Democrats have no interest in preventing “really drastic right-wing legislation” from getting its turn in the spotlight.
If Republicans want to talk about cutting taxes for rich people and screwing over the lower- and middle-class, Democrats should be happy to hand over the microphone.
The 2024 election, like all elections, will be another chance for voters to decide which political party they would prefer to be in charge in Colorado. House Republicans are doing all of the the heavy lifting…for Democrats.
Don’t take our word for it, Democrats can say. The Republican House Minority Leader himself says that if the GOP is in control, “really drastic right-wing legislation” would be just around the corner.
Last Thursday, Colorado Senate Democrats announced a quartet of bills to prevent and reduce the impact of gun violence, an issue that Colorado has led the nation as a model for reform–going all the way back to the passage by voters of a constitutional amendment closing the so-called “gun show loophole” in the wake of the 1998 Columbine High School massacre.
In 2013, in response to the mass shooting at an Aurora movie theater the previous year, Colorado passed landmark universal background check and gun magazine limit legislation that provoked a furious backlash from the gun lobby and short-term losses for Colorado Democrats politically. Having regained their mid-2010s losses with interest in just a few years, Colorado Democrats passed crucially important “red flag” legislation in 2019 creating a legal process to temporarily remove guns from individuals judged to be a threat to themselves or others. By this time, Republican threats of retaliation had lost their political bite, and a spate of attempted recalls that year sputtered out.
The last decade of intense partisan conflict over gun safety legislation in Colorado has taken place against the backdrop of a shifting national debate over guns, which culminated in the passage last year of the first significant federal legislation to address gun violence since the lapsed 1994 assault weapons ban. Both federally and in Colorado the issue has undeniably evolved in the direction of greater reform, driven by public opinion polling that consistently shows the public is ready to embrace more aggressive reforms than politicians are willing to risk politically.
But here in Colorado, where we’ve made progress on this issue the rest of the nation is still catching up to, the situation this year doesn’t neatly fit the script: some of the state’s foremost proponents of gun safety legislation, whose motives on the issue are unassailable, are not on board with a so-far-unintroduced statewide ban on assault weapons. As Colorado Public Radio’sBente Birkelandreported last week:
[W]hile the overwhelming majority of Democratic lawmakers agree with an assault weapons ban in principle, some influential party members appear ready to stand in the way of advancing one this year, with one of the legislature’s strongest advocates saying he doesn’t think an outright ban is the right approach at this moment.
“We’ve got a lot of work to do, I think, before we step into that,” said Democratic state Sen. Tom Sullivan of Littleton, who mentioned giving the state licensing authority over gun stores as something he wants to see in place first. “If you look at those other nine states that have [assault weapons bans], they’ve already passed all of that kind of stuff we’re woefully behind on.”
Sullivan got involved in politics after his son, Alex, was killed in the Aurora Theater shooting. He is the other co-chair of the Gun Violence Prevention Caucus.
He emphasized that he supports an assault weapons ban in concept, but believes the best approach would be a federal law. “That’s really where we need it because as far as an enforcement mechanism to it, we need feds here in the state to enforce it.”
Speaking with the Denver Post’sSeth Klamann and Nick Coltrain for an in-depth story on the absence of the assault weapons ban bill from the package of bills announced at last Thursday’s press conference, Sen. Sullivan was a little more direct in explaining his opposition:
“I don’t know what they’re really trying to accomplish,” Sullivan said of efforts to define and limit assault weapon access. “I’m trying to save lives. And the way we save lives is by passing things like safe storage and red flag laws.”
He doesn’t disagree with an assault weapon ban in theory, but he said it needs to be a federal, not state, requirement. He and others raised practical questions, too, like local law enforcement’s ability to enforce a state-level ban. [Pols emphasis]
That last is a critical point. In the fall of 2019, 9NEWS’ Marshall Zelingerconducted a statewide investigation into compliance with the 2013 law limiting gun magazine capacity to fifteen rounds. Zelinger found that gun stores across the state were either skirting the 2013 law with workaround gimmicks like “magazine repair kits,” or just plain disregarding the law under the often-correct assumption that their county sheriff will not enforce it.
Which leads to this straightforward question that proponents of a statewide assault weapons ban, unfortunately, don’t have a good answer for: if the state can’t (or won’t) enforce the magazine limit, how can anyone reasonably expect a statewide assault weapons ban to be enforced? This is why Sen. Sullivan says we need to give the state the power to enforce state law through licensure of gun stores (see above) instead of relying on politician sheriffs who have decided they wield the power to arbitrate what laws they want to enforce.
With grandstanding politician sheriffs refusing with apparent impunity to enforce laws they don’t like and easy access to anything we prohibit in Colorado across the border with fireworks in Wyoming, Sen. Sullivan makes a compelling argument that restrictions on gun products are more likely to be successfully enforced at the federal level. Sullivan has been consistent on this position throughout his time in office. At the very least, we would argue that until we enforce the statewide magazine limit legislators sacrificed their careers to pass ten years ago, it’s folly to expect lawmakers to pass new statewide gun hardware restrictions to be simply ignored at will by their would-be enforcers. By focusing on access to weapons by youth, slowing down gun acquisition by a few often critical days, improving the state’s proven-effective “red flag” law, and giving victims of gun violence legal tools for accountability from manufacturers, Democrats are focusing on policies that will make the greatest real-world impact.
This may not be the most satisfying answer, but it’s the right answer.
The Unambiguously Lame Duo of Reps. Scott Bottoms and Ken DeGraaf
Republicans in Colorado are working with historically small minorities in the state legislature, with just 19 of 65 seats in the State House and 12 of 35 seats in the State Senate. These micro-minorities, combined with ineffective or altogether absent leadership, makes it relatively easy for a few lawmakers to become the face of the entire GOP caucus.
As we wrote earlier, House Minority Leader Mike Lynchdoesn’t appear to be all that interested in charting a reasonable path for his caucus to follow. This is how “The Unambiguously Lame Duo” of freshman Republicans from Colorado Springs have come to dominate the GOP discussion at the State Capitol in 2023. State Reps. Scott “There is No” Bottoms and Ken “Skin” DeGraaf have made a lot of noise in the first two months of the legislative session — and nearly all of it has been bad for Republicans.
In order to better understand just how nutty these two have been in their first few months, we compiled a list of the bills that they have sponsored in the current legislative session. Lawmakers are limited to five bills apiece; while Bottoms has only introduced four bills, the filing deadline for new legislation has passed. As you’ll see below, “The Unambiguously Lame Duo” has had difficulty finding support for their legislative proposals even among Republican colleagues.
Let’s start with Bottoms. None of his bills even made it out of a committee hearing:
Bottoms is laser-focused on restricting abortion rights, which speaks to DeGraaf’s quote about not learning from history. Colorado voters have said over and over and over and over that they DO NOT want restrictions on abortion rights. Bottoms also used one of his four bills to promote a thing that doesn’t even exist. There is no such thing as a pill that would “reverse” an abortion.
We wrote about Bottoms’ income tax cut proposal earlier this month. That legislation was so poorly-written that the nonpartisan Legislative Council Staff determined that middle- and lower-income Coloradans would end up paying MORE money in taxes if HB23-1063 were to become law.
As for DeGraaf, he managed to max out his allocation of bills but at least hasn’t (yet) seen all of his legislation summarily postponed indefinitely in a committee hearing:
DeGraaf’s list of bills run the gamut from virtually unintelligible to flat out silly.
“Distributed Ledgers Voting” has something to do with paper ballots and preventing election fraud and…frankly, who the hell knows? His “Due Process Asset Forfeiture Act” is the only one of the nine bills from Team DeBottoms that seems to have even a remotely plausible premise.
DeGraaf has a lot of red meat in his bill folder. He introduced a “guns for everyone” bill that sought to pre-emptively stop ANY prohibitions on firearms, and he was the designated carrier of the annual doomed effort to create a school vouchers program in Colorado.
Rep. Ken DeGraaf is smoking a lot of this.
And then there is HB23-1163, which was axed in the House Committee on Energy and Environment on Thursday. DeGraaf’s legislation sought to clear the air, so to speak, on his belief that carbon dioxide is being inaccurately blamed as a pollutant and a cause of Climate Change. DeGraaf enlisted the help of a couple of wacko academics to provide supportive testimony, including Dr. Paul Prentice, a fellow at the Centennial Institute at Colorado Christian University. According to Prentice’s bio at CCU, “He believes that God created you to be free, and that you cannot have a controlled economy and maintain a free society.”
Here’s a sample of Prentice’s testimony from Thursday:
PRENTICE: This whole idea of anthropomorphic, carbon dioxide driven, carbon-dating climate change. You see that, certainly, over long periods of time, the graph of temperature and the graph of carbon dioxide appear to be moving in tandem. But when you explode the graph, and look at it more carefully, so that you have 50 and 100 year time periods instead of millennia, you actually see that the lead in that is FIRST the temperature rises, and then later, the carbon dioxide increases. So if there is any causality, it’s the opposite of what people are assuming – that carbon dioxide is causing the warming. It’s actually the opposite. [Pols emphasis]
Um, yeah. At this point, Democratic Rep. Stephanie Vigil of El Paso County jumped in to comment and ask a question:
VIGIL:It sounds like you are at odds with a number of folks in your profession.
Understated, but accurate. Vigil then asked Prentice why the U.S. military is planning for climate mitigation and the construction of more renewable energy resources.
VIGIL: Why does the U.S. military not share your view on this, and why are they falling for this if indeed they are falling for something?
PRENTICE: Yes, I do not know WHY, but I know that they have fallen for it. Um…[long pause]…I’m trying to be polite here. The experience of childish, magical thinking has gotten so deep in our institutions that people don’t even think of the assumptions under which they are making these arguments. The military has taken these actions based on false assumptions.
Right. DeGraaf and THIS GUY know the real causes of Climate Change, and everybody else is doing it wrong.
Anyway, the Dynamic Dolts of Bottoms and DeGraaf have introduced a total of nine pieces of legislation. Seven of these bills have failed to advance out of a committee hearing. The final two — HB23-1086 and HB23-1170 — will be heard in committee next week.
When Republicans are trying to claw back from their micro-minorities in 2024, they’re going to need some better arguments than what “The Unambiguously Lame Duo” is presenting. As it stands now, Democrats need only to point to the lists above and say, THIS is what Republican leadership looks like.
Denver7’s Meghan Lopezreports on the press conference by Colorado Senate Democrats today announcing four new pieces of legislation intended to curb gun violence. All of the legislation announced today concerns lawful access to weapons, not outright bans on any particular type of firearm:
Democratic lawmakers have unveiled a series of bills that will add more regulations around the purchase and possession of firearms in Colorado.
On Thursday, House and Senate Democrats hosted a press conference announcing four bills. They mark the biggest slate of gun reforms in the state since a package of gun bills passed in 2021 in the wake of the Boulder King Soopers mass shooting.
The four pieces of legislation announced today–raising the age limit to 21 to purchase firearms; a three-day waiting period for delivery of gun purchases; strengthening the state’s “red flag” law; and tightening liability on gun manufacturers–are certain to provoke a significant confrontation with the gun lobby, whose power has waned along with the Republican Party’s sweeping losses in recent elections. After the high point of pushback from the gun lobby after the General Assembly’s passage of landmark gun safety reforms in 2013, their bellicose threats have proven politically impotent, best demonstrated by the failure in 2019 to recall now-Sen. Tom Sullivan of Centennial in a campaign spearheaded by the Colorado Republican Party’s Kristi Burton Brown with the help of the far-right Rocky Mountain Gun Owners.
That’s the same RMGO who made national news earlier this month when staffer Kevin Lorusso challenged statistics on gun violence deaths among children by asserting Black males should be removed from such statistics, as their deaths are supposedly “a different issue.” In a garbage non-apology, RMGO claimed Lorusso “misspoke,” while Lorusso himself maintains he meant exactly what he said. The same press release also declared that RMGO would not be answering any more questions about the incident, because apparently that’s something a public advocacy organization gets to arbitrarily declare.
But at today’s presser by Colorado Senate Democrats announcing their new gun safety bills, RMGO still felt empowered to ask questions. Or at least shout them out of turn:
Let’s set aside the breach of decorum under the dome this represents on the part of RMGO, wherein we’re old enough to remember when this kind of disruption would have been vociferously condemned by both parties. Given that Sen. Tom Sullivan is a career employee of the United States Postal Service who lost his son in the July 2012 Aurora theater mass shooting, we’re trying to imagine a lower blow than suggesting Sen. Sullivan might be “going postal.” It’s a statement perfectly calculated to be as inhumanly awful to Sen. Sullivan as possible, and there’s no way it was an accident.
In their long history of bedeviling Democrats and fellow Republicans alike with their uncompromising mission of not just gun rights but free proliferation, one has ever accused RMGO of being tactful. At some point, however, one has to ask whether this kind of pointless ad hominem vitriol is persuasive to anyone, even those who agree with RMGO on the issue.
The only way to make the vileness stop, if that’s even possible, is to never let it win.
In the aftermath of the 2022 election, there was a question that kept coming up among political observers — particularly in Colorado — that went something like this: Are Democrats really good at campaigning and governing, or is it just that Republicans are SO BAD at both?
Nearly four months later, the answer seems pretty clear.
While Republicans remain hamstrung by MAGA extremists, Democrats are focusing on governing and proving to future voters that they are more than capable of being the adults in the room.
As The Colorado Sun reports today via its “Unaffiliated” newsletter, new polling numbers from a noted Republican pollster show that Coloradans are pretty happy with their Democratic leaders:
The poll, commissioned by the conservative education group Ready Colorado, revealed that 61% of participants view Governor Jared Polis favorably, compared with 35% who said they view him unfavorably, 3% who had no opinion and 1% who said they had never heard of him. It’s notable that so few participants didn’t know or have an opinion of the governor.
Additionally, 53% said they think “things in Colorado” — that’s how the question was worded — are headed in the right direction, while 41% said they think the state is on the wrong track and 6% said they were unsure.
That’s a solid majority of Coloradans who both approve of Gov. Jared Polis and believe that Colorado is headed in the right direction.
Polling numbers aren’t as favorable for President Joe Biden, but that might be more of a casualty of the partisan/tribal nature of a post-Trump era of Presidential politics.
The total number of encounters along the southwest (SW) border with Mexico dropped by 37.9 percent in the month following President Biden’s new immigration and border plan.
Over the weekend, Biden made a surprise and unprecedented visit to Ukraine to reaffirm American support for its war against Russia. With air-raid sirens blaring in the background, Biden walked the streets of Kiev with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. As images of leadership go, you’d be hard-pressed to come up with something more powerful than this:
There is no arguing that 2022 was a devastating cycle for Colorado Republicans. The top of the GOP ticket saw candidates for Governor (Heidi Ganahl) and U.S. Senate (Joe O’Dea) get hammered by double-digit margins. Elsewhere, Republicans spent more than $13 million to lose two seats in the State Senate and now holds the ignominy of the smallest legislative minority in state history (only 31 of 100 seats are held by the GOP).
On a national scale, Republicans fumbled a favorable Senate map by nominating nutball candidates, which allowed Democrats to actually gain a Senate seat and avoid having to rely on Vice President Kamala Harris as a tie-breaking vote. Republicans avoided a complete disaster by managing to eke out a smaller-than-expected five-seat majority in the House of Representatives. Just how unexpected was this squeaker? Eight months earlier, then-House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy confidently predicted, “We’re going to win the majority, and it’s not going to be a five-seat majority.”
“We’re going to win the majority, and it’s not going to be a five-seat majority.”
McCarthy would end up being part of history in January…though not in a good way. McCarthy needed 15 different roll call votes to secure his role as Speaker of the House — something that hadn’t been seen in Congress since before the Civil freaking War.
Over the weekend in Montana, former two-term Republican governor and onetime chairman of the Republican National Committee Marc Racicot was informed by the Montana Republican Party that a resolution had been approved in which it was declared that Racicot “would no longer be considered a Republican.” Racicot apparently had no idea that such a resolution was even being discussed.
The Republican Party is making national headlines for mostly bad reasons. At the same time, a Democratic President is racking up one policy win after another (and leaving plenty of oxygen in the room for other Democrats to claim their own victories), and elected Democrats in Colorado are proving voters correct for trusting them to govern the state effectively.
So, we ask again: Are Democrats really good at campaigning and governing, or is it just that Republicans are SO BAD at both?
► School districts across the state are dealing today with multiple “swatting” incidents. As The Denver Post explains:
Four more unconfirmed incidents are being reported at Colorado high schools after an unconfirmed report of an active shooter was made at Boulder High School and an “unknown incident” happened near Aspen Schools.
So far, police have not found any victims at any of the schools, and almost all the schools have been cleared of any threat.
Schools in Brighton, Canon City, and Alamosa were among those dealing with “swatting” calls today. “Swatting” is the act of making a “prank” call to emergency services in an attempt to force the dispatch of a large number of armed police officers to a particular address.
► A handful of local elections across the country are making political pundits wonder if a strong performance by Democrats in 2022 is a trend that could continue into 2024:
First big night of 2023 elections this year and Democrats are doing very well
– Liberal WI Supreme Court candidates >50% total
– In NH, D outrunning 2022 by 10pts
– A KY state senate seat that was Biden+30 is D+55
– Dems on track to swing VA04 by 10pts; huge rural vote swing
The Washington Post reports on perhaps the most important of these races: The battle for a Supreme Court seat in Wisconsin:
In a race that will determine whether liberals or conservatives control the Wisconsin Supreme Court when it considers the future of the state’s abortion ban, voters narrowed the field to two candidates in a Tuesday primary.
The winners now begin a 42-day sprint to an April 4 general election that is sure to see record spending. If liberals take over the court for the first time in 14 years, they are expected to reverse some GOP policies and could revisit election maps that have given Republicans huge margins in the state legislature.
Milwaukee County Judge Janet Protasiewicz will represent the Democrats in the runoff election, while a bitter fight on the Republican side saw Daniel Kelly emerge as the Republican choice. The election is technically “nonpartisan,” but that doesn’t make it any less of a partisan fight. Democrats are optimistic about winning the runoff election given that the Democrats in the race combined to collect more than 50% of the total votes cast.
► Colorado Democrats have unveiled a couple of gun safety proposals. First, as Nick Coltrain reports for The Denver Post:
A proposal to limit all firearm purchases and possession to people 21 and older — including rifles and shotguns — will be the first in a slate of bills Democrats hope will curb gun violence in the state…
…According to the Giffords Law Center, there was a 61% increase in gun suicides among minors between 2011 and 2020 and 18- to 20-year-olds being 17% of known homicide offenders despite being 4% of the general population chief among them. The Giffords Law Center advocates for more stringent gun laws and is named for former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords, who was shot in the head at an event.
The Colorado Sun, meanwhile, reports on legislation to enact a three-day waiting period for gun purchases.
This week Democrats will introduce a bill that would enact a three-day waiting period between when someone purchases a gun and when they can access the weapon, mirroring policies that have been adopted in other states.
“It’s giving people the opportunity to take a breath,” said Sen. Tom Sullivan, a Centennial Democrat whose son, Alex, was murdered in the 2012 Aurora theater shooting and who will be a lead sponsor of the legislation. “We know that when people decide to kill themselves with a firearm, sometimes they spend less than 20 minutes making that decision.
► Check out the latest episode of the Get More Smarter Podcast, featuring an interview with former Fox 31 reporters and current POLITICO White House Correspondent Eli Stokols: