Coffman vs. Frazier For Aurora Mayor–Please Clap!

The Aurora Sentinel’s Kara Mason reports on what’s shaping up to be an epic contest between two battle-hardened Republican politicians, stepping up to reach for the prize of serving as the Mayor of Aurora…

Actually it’s just Mike Coffman, recently ousted from his seat in Congress versus Ryan Frazier, one of the state’s losing-est perennial also-ran Republican candidates:

Frazier, who served two consecutive terms as an at-large city council member for Aurora in the early 2000s and made a run for U.S. Senate in 2016 and for for the 7th Congressional District against Congressman Ed Perlmutter in 2010, is back at it, hoping to secure the chief city lawmaker position this year. He ran for mayor in 2011, losing by seven percentage points to former Mayor Steve Hogan, who died last year.

The Aurora politician, who owns his own consulting firm, kicked off his campaign Saturday at Bethel Eritrean Church with a room full of supporters who cheered when Frazier talked about “Aurora on the rise,” the candidate’s campaign slogan.

For ex-Rep. Coffman, serving as Mayor of a Denver suburb cannot reasonably be considered an advancement of his career. The best analogy we have is former Rep. Scott McInnis, whose dreams of being governor of Colorado were dashed in a plagiarism scandal, finding a second life in the much-diminished but still elected position of Mesa County Commissioner.

As for Ryan Frazier? Sure, serving as Mayor of Aurora would be a step up–if not in aspirations as a former congressional and U.S. Senate candidate, then in practical effect since Frazier never came close to winning any of those higher offices. It remains our considered opinion that Coffman is more damaged as a candidate for any office within the congressional district he just lost by double digits than conventional wisdom seems to indicate. On the other hand, Frazier has always come across as a politician in search of a constituency instead of a leader in his own right.

Who would win this matchup of mediocrity? If you have the inclination to ponder, we’re all ears.

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So Mike Coffman Wants To Be Aurora’s Mayor, Does He?

Ex-Rep. Mike Coffman (R).

The Aurora Sentinel’s Kara Mason makes official what’s been water-cooler discussion for some weeks now–Mike Coffman, fresh off his double-digit defeat in last year’s CD-6 race, is planning a run for Mayor of the City of Aurora:

Former Aurora Congressman Mike Coffman is in the race for Aurora mayor, the longtime Aurora resident’s spokeswoman confirmed to the Sentinel on Thursday. 

“I’m running because I know that I can bring my leadership, experience, and knowledge to the City of Aurora to address the challenges of affordable housing, transportation, and public safety,” Coffman said in a statement about his candidacy…

Coffman, who lost to Democrat Rep. Jason Crow in November, has been suspected of eyeing the seat, currently held by Mayor Bob LeGare. LeGare was appointed by city council members to be mayor when former Mayor Steve Hogan died last year.

LeGare said during the appointment process he would not run for the seat. 

As we’ve recounted in this space many times before and since his belated comeuppance last year, Rep. Mike Coffman started out as a hard-right Republican in the mold of his predecessor in Congress, notoriously anti-immigrant former VDARE board member Rep. Tom Tancredo. In 2011, Coffman’s district was redrawn to exclude arch-conservative southern Denver exurbs and include the urban and diverse heart of Aurora.

Redistricting and a near-defeat in 2012 forced Coffman to scramble to reinvent his Tancredo-style image, paying frequent lip service to a new moderate position on immigration while steadfastly supporting the GOP leadership in Congress who ensured no actual immigration reform would take place. After Donald Trump became President, Coffman attempted to triangulate off Trump’s controversial image–but in the end was forced into the party line on enough high-profile issues like the 2017 tax cut bill that his long streak of defying the district’s propensity to elect Democrats was ended by now-Rep. Jason Crow.

After his defeat last November, Coffman cast lame-duck votes that are certain to haunt him in any future bid for votes from the same constituents who just threw him out of office. Coffman voted against the Farm Bill, complaining that it didn’t go far enough to impose work requirements on food stamp recipients, and then voted for the funding bill that included Trump’s $5.7 billion in wall funding–a failed vote that led directly to the longest government shutdown in American history. These votes set back Coffman’s image reinvention considerably, widely interpreted as his true colors shining through with the pressure off.

In short, sure–Coffman has name recognition. But along with that name ID comes a hefty load of baggage from his decades-long political career, and especially events leading up to his crushing defeat at the hands of the same voters who would elect him Aurora Mayor. The liabilities that finally caught up with Coffman in 2018 have not gone away. And before anyone declares Coffman a favorite for Mayor of the most economically and culturally diverse city in Colorado, he has a great deal to answer for.

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Of Course Coffman’s Gonna Help Build The Wall

Rep. Mike Coffman (R).

With the impasse over President Donald Trump’s demand for $5 billion in funding for a wall along the southern U.S. border having resulted in a partial shutdown of the federal government over the Christmas holiday and potentially beyond, let’s take a few minutes to discuss the vote of lame-duck GOP Rep. Mike Coffman to give Trump his wall funding–in particular what it says about Coffman’s career in the U.S. House and his defeat this November.

Mike Coffman was originally elected to succeed retiring Rep. Tom Tancredo in Colorado’s CD-6. At this time, CD-6 was an extremely safe Republican seat representing the southern Denver suburbs and conservative Douglas County, a district not just untroubled but supportive of the anti-immigrant hard line politics that remain Tancredo’s calling card. Tancredo may have been persona non grata in the Bush White House, but he developed a base of support that he leveraged into a vanity campaign for President that further raised Tancredo’s name ID.

Succeeding Tancredo, Coffman originally strained to present as fierce an anti-immigrant image as his predecessor, telling immigrant voters to “pull out a dictionary” and claiming “the DREAM Act will be a nightmare for the American people.” Coffman had fought a nasty primary to win his seat, and in this district had an obligation to show the flag with vigor to stave off another in 2010.

All of this changed in 2011, when the redistricting process transformed CD-6 from Tom Tancredo’s stronghold into a district comprised of almost 20% Latino voters. CD-6 never again voted for a Republican candidate in presidential races, and was in fact carried in 2016 by Hillary Clinton by a substantial margin. In 2012, Coffman barely survived re-election against an underfunded Democratic challenger, a lucky break given him by Democrats who were slow to capitalize on the opportunity.

After 2012, Coffman set to work remaking his image on immigration. He did this primarily through paying lip service to accommodating the children of immigrants who arrived here with no agency in the decision to migrate, the same DREAMers he had previously maligned. With Republicans in control under a Democratic President, gridlock on immigration along with basically everything else ensued, and when Coffman thumbed his nose at the Senate’s 2013 attempt at immigration reform it somehow didn’t undermine his new credentials with the local media as a “moderate on immigration.”

Because for all the credit Coffman received for not being part of the problem on immigration, his actual policy proposals never matched up. Coffman’s centerpiece legislation to give undocumented immigrants who serve in the military legal status was a niche bill that wouldn’t solve most of the problem, and Coffman’s support for a “clean” DREAM Act, after opposing President Obama’s DACA program for years, came far too late to make a difference. Beyond that, Coffman simply hid behind the gridlock caused by Republican leadership he voted for.

This year, Coffman’s unlikely run of victories in a district that elected Democrats above and below him on the ballot came to an end. Donald Trump’s presidency exposed Coffman’s triangulation strategy as fraudulent, when Coffman was forced to toe the pro-Trump line to appease his own base while simultaneously trying to maintain a facade of “moderation” for the swing voters he needed to overcome the district’s natural propensity to elect Democrats. It’s didn’t work, and Coffman lost by the margin he arguably could have lost by in 2012, 2014, or 2016.

And so this week, when defeated Rep. Coffman voted to build Trump’s wall, all he did was dispense with a pretense that had outlived its usefulness. To the reporters he tricked into validating credentials on immigration Coffman did not deserve, and the pro-immigrant activists and Democratic lawmakers who he likewise used for undeserved cover, it’s a final round of insulting confirmation of the long con game Coffman played to their and the voting public’s detriment.

But there is one consolation. It’s just about over.

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Coffman Kicks The Poor On His Way Out The Door

Outgoing Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Aurora)

The Greeley Tribune’s Tyler Silvy reports on final passage last week of the Agriculture and Nutrition Act of 2018, known in the vernacular as the “farm bill” to set a wide variety of food production and access policies for the next five years–a bill that Rep. Ken Buck, who represents the agribusiness-heavy Eastern Plains of Colorado, voted against:

Ken Buck this past week had his first opportunity to support farmers in the Fourth Congressional District via a final farm bill vote. His “no” vote in the U.S. House of Representatives had some farm advocates scratching their heads, even if they’re still celebrating a landslide victory for the bill…

Buck defended his vote by pointing to the increase in food stamp recipients during the Great Recession, arguing that millions of people who came onto the rolls “got used to food stamps.”

“That’s what we were trying to address,” Buck said. “Those people who got used to food stamps, how do we get them back into the employment world?”

For all of his time in office, Rep. Ken Buck has been reliably frank in his positions–even when they’re politically unpleasant. But left unsaid in Buck’s call for the “takers” of America to put some “skin in the game” in exchange for food stamps is the fact that there are already such requirements in place. Since the last big push for “welfare reform” in 1996, able-bodied food stamp beneficiaries have been limited to three months of benefits every three years without qualifying work, job training, or volunteer service. The GOP’s now-scrapped proposal to increase those work requirements would have directly resulted in 1.2 million fewer Americans every month getting food stamps.

Which is great if you’ve got Buck’s “makers vs. takers” mentality, not so much if you’re, you know, hungry.

But again, Buck is a very predictable Scrooge-y case of ideological lack of sympathy, representing an overwhelmingly conservative district unlikely to ever penalize him for it. But another Colorado vote against the farm bill justified by the same insulting “tough love” approach to food stamp recipients, might surprise some of our readers–the Aurora Sentinel’s Kara Mason:

“I voted for the initial version of this bill, which passed the House of Representatives back in June, largely because it included some significant and important reforms to the food stamp program,” Coffman, who represents mostly suburban Aurora outside of Denver, said in an email to constituents.

“Specifically, it required able-bodied, working-aged individuals who are not the primary caregiver for minor dependent children, either to find some work (part-time or full-time), participate in a job training program, or volunteer with an approved non-profit to remain eligible for SNAP assistance.”

Coffman said the most important part of the Farm Bill was the SNAP program and couldn’t support it without the reforms. [Pols emphasis]

Of course, if you’re familiar with Rep. Mike Coffman’s long record in office–especially before his congressional district was redrawn in 2011 into a diverse swing seat–Coffman’s extolment of the “dignity and and improved self-esteem that comes from work” to undercut food stamp beneficiaries isn’t much of a surprise. This is the same Mike Coffman, after all, who called Social Security a “Ponzi scheme” and once declared himself “a proud member of the ‘Party of No.'” Mike Coffman tried hard and spent big to reinvent his image into “a different kind of Republican,” and it worked all the way up until November of 2018.

In the final days of Mike Coffman’s political career, there’s at last no reason to hide his true colors.

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“No Labels” Leaves Nancy Pelosi Opponents In The Lurch

Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D).

Following the Democratic retaking of the U.S. House this month, speculation over a possible battle for the new Speaker of the House quickly became a hot topic for both victorious Democrats and defeated Republicans. Nancy Pelosi’s return to the post of Speaker was by no means a foregone conclusion, but in the intervening weeks Pelosi has expertly navigated the challenges and mollified much of her Democratic opposition.

With an exception worth a mention, as ThinkProgress reports:

16 Democratic colleagues, later reduced to 15 when Rep. Brian Higgins (NY) changed course, signed a letter opposing the California congresswoman earlier this week.

Now another group of moderate Democrats is threatening to upend Pelosi’s House Speaker bid. And they’re working with Republicans to do it.

The House Problem Solvers Caucus, a bipartisan collection of lawmakers that reportedly has solved very few problems since its creation, is refusing to back Pelosi unless she adopts their proposed rule changes.

The so-called “House Problem Solvers Caucus” is a product of a pseudo-centrist group known as No Labels. No Labels has aggressively played in Colorado politics in recent years, most prominently with their controversial backing of Cory Gardner’s Senate campaign in 2014. In that race, No Labels “evolved” from a nonpartisan atta-boy service to a heavily funded subsidiary of Gardner’s campaign, with No Labels field crews knocking on doors for Gardner in the final weeks. The other Colorado politician who has benefited from No Labels’ support is–you guessed it, Rep. Mike Coffman!

Cory Gardner, “Problem Solver.”

With that, local readers should realize very quickly that this not about “solving problems.”

Pelosi’s consolidation of Democratic support since the election, combined with an increasingly obvious interest in stirring up infighting among Democrats on the part of crypto-GOP groups like No Labels, makes continuing opposition to Pelosi from honorably-intentioned Democrats problematic. In Colorado, the most vocal opposition to Pelosi has been from Rep.-elect Jason Crow. Did Crow’s stated opposition to Pelosi during the campaign win him votes? As much as Coffman tried to vilify Pelosi for his own benefit over the years, we doubt it. In the end, the CD-6 election was not about Nancy Pelosi. It was about Mike Coffman, who vilified Pelosi, and Donald Trump. And Coffman lost.

At this point, the greater mistake may be to not recognize how the playing field has shifted.

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Donald Trump is Death for Colorado Republicans

Sen. Cory Gardner (right) waves to crowd behind President Trump ahead of a campaign event in West Virginia (Aug. 21, 2018)

The Washington Post has an interesting story up today about the drag of President Trump on Republicans in 2018 and 2020. The gist of the story, which features Colorado as a prominent example, is that 2018 proved Trump to be helpful to Republicans in states where people already liked Trump, but a real problem everywhere else:

“Trump just overwhelms and takes all of the oxygen out of the room and it’s all focused on him,” said Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), [Pols emphasis] a critic of the president who declined to run for reelection…

…Republicans in rural parts of Kentucky, Georgia and Tennessee were newly excited about the election, according to Democratic polling in those races, increasingly favorable toward the president and cheered by the recent confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh. In suburban, wealthier parts of the country such as Northern Virginia, the opposite was happening, as moderates recoiled…

…Strategists from both parties say the president, in effect, erected a wall that broke the blue wave, allowing Republicans to hold onto key House seats and defeat Democratic Senate incumbents in conservative Missouri, Indiana and North Dakota. The same strategy, however, empowered Democrats to win decisive victories in formerly Republican suburbs in New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, California and the otherwise reliably red state of Texas.

Trump’s late campaigning may have saved Republican candidates in states like Florida, where the GOP narrowly won contests for U.S. Senate and Governor. But Florida is also a state that Trump won in 2016 (albeit narrowly). In states like Colorado, where Trump lost to Democrat Hillary Clinton, the outcome was much different:

“It was very difficult to try to make a case — particularly to suburban, college-educated women who were so upset with the president — to vote for me when they felt there needed to be a greater check on his power,” said Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Colo.), who lost his suburban Denver district by more than 11 points after winning by 8 points in 2016.

Coffman’s experience was certainly not unique. Republican-leaning outfit Magellan Strategies found Trump to be quite the albatross for the the GOP in 2018. From Denver7:

Thirty-four percent of respondents said they were less likely to vote for a Republican candidate in the election because of Trump’s influence, and Trump’s approval rating is far underwater among Colorado’s unaffiliated voters: His approval rating is 31 percent among the group, while 62 percent said they disapproved of the job he is doing as president and 48 percent said they strongly disapproved.

Flaherty said in his analysis those numbers made Trump’s overall approval rating “toxic” and that “it is quite clear that any association with Donald Trump and his policies harmed Republican candidates in most parts of Colorado” in this year’s election.

Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma), the 2018 chair of the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) added his “no shit, Sherlock” analysis in a comment to the Washington Post:

“The states where we saw the most success with the rallies were states where he won by 20 points or 30 points or 40 points,” said Gardner.

Colorado, of course, is not one of those states. It is clear that Trump was a mighty albatross for Colorado Republicans in 2018, and with his name on the ballot again in 2020, the impact may be even worse.

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Gardner Praises Trump For Election Wins, While Coffman Slams The Prez For GOP Losses, Including His Own

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Sen. Cory Gardner (left) and Rep. Mike Coffman.

U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman (R-CO) blamed Trump today for Coffman’s election loss last week, just as Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner jumped on the radio to credit the president for GOP wins in key senate races.

Coffman told Vox today:

“I believe, quite frankly, that the president had a strategy of focusing on the Senate at the expense of the House,” [Coffman] said. “That the map had it where that there were red states that Trump carried that had competitive Senate races and what he did was made the midterm a national election and about him….”

“The president’s tone is polarizing,” Coffman said. “It was very difficult to try and make the case, particularly to suburban, college-educated women who were so upset with the president, to vote for me when they felt there needed to be a greater check on President Trump…”

Coffman says he doesn’t see Republicans regaining any territory in the House.

“Good. Luck,” he said, laughing.

Contrast Coffman’s dark view of Trump with Gardner’s sunbeam comments about the president working his tail off for winning GOP senate candidates:

“We bucked history,” Gardner said on KNUS’ Caplis and Kafer Show last week, repeating his previous assertion that “I don’t think it was a blue wave” in Colorado. “…So, you know, the keeping of the majority in the midterm, I think, is historic. And President Trump went out and worked his tail off in a lot of these states.

“And so I think those are the two key takeaways, how President Trump did more than I think any other president has done for elections and getting these candidates elected, and how we were able to defy history….”

“So, look, I look forward to continuing our work together.” Gardner told Steffan Tubbs on KNUS yesterday, referring to Trump. “And I’d like to see the President come to Colorado. I’d like to see my colleagues want to see him be successful. Let’s talk about the good things we’ve done in Colorado. Let’s show him the good things we’ve done in Colorado. I hope that everybody is engaged in wanting us to have a successful president.

The Coffman-Gardner contrast on Trump underscores again that Republicans have nowhere to turn, with Trump’s unhinged media presence so overwhelming and his popularity so low among so many different types of voters in states like Colorado.

Embrace him? Trash him? Do both? None of those approaches will win over enough voters for a GOP candidate to compete in Colorado, at least as things stand today, based on what happened last Tuesday.

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Jason Crow Beat Mike Coffman By 11 Points

Earlier this week we wrote about the updated numbers in Colorado’s gubernatorial race, which show Democrat Jared Polis defeating Republican Walker Stapleton by a double-digit margin. If you thought those numbers were surprising, then this is really going to bake your noodle: Democrat Jason Crow beat Republican Mike Coffman in CO-6 by more than 11 points!

Take a look at how the margins in CO-6 have changed since the district boundaries were redrawn prior to the 2012 election cycle:

 

In the 2016 Presidential race, Democrat Hillary Clinton carried CO-6 by 9 points over Republican Donald Trump. Clinton’s margin was hard to square with Coffman’s 8-point win over Democrat Morgan Carroll in the same election…so how do you explain 2018?

Many Democrats have long assumed that holding CO-6 would be a tougher challenge than taking it from Coffman in the first place, but Crow’s 2018 margin may flip that thinking. Trump obviously hurt Coffman in 2018, and he wasn’t even on the ballot like he will be in 2020. What these numbers indicate is that Colorado’s 6th Congressional District may actually be out of reach for Republicans until at least 2022.

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What’s Your Favorite Blue Wave Win?

This week’s historic victory for Colorado Democrats leaves in its wake innumerable stories of hard work and triumph. There are so many big markers for the history books, like the first gay man elected governor of any state, the sweep of downballot statewide offices, recapturing the Colorado Senate after four years at the mercy of a one-seat GOP majority, the come-from-behind wins growing the Democratic House majority to unexpected heights, major Democratic wins in suburban Denver local governments–we could go on and on, and over the next few weeks we’ll be expounding at length on what this all means.

Use this thread to tell us about the 2018 success stories you were close to, or enjoyed reading about, or anything else you found inspiring coming out of the midterm elections in our state. Before the inevitable plunge back into partisan squabbles and pundit second-guessing, take a moment to contemplate significance of what we’ve just been through.

You earned this moment, Colorado.

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Trump Throws Coffman Under The Bus, Because Of Course

Via Denver7’s Blair Miller, you knew this was going to happen:

President Donald Trump’s pathological inability to take responsibility for any consequence of his bull-in-a-china-shop presidency made this morning-after insult piled on injury 100% inevitable. Nobody should be a bit surprised, especially after Mike Coffman’s two years of high-visibility dissing of Trump over anecdotal and personal matters–while voting with Trump over 95% of the time–that the president had no interest in softening the blow of Coffman’s defeat yesterday, indeed using Coffman’s loss as a cautionary tale with his own supporters to stay close.

Back in reality, of course, locals are aware that CD-6 has consistently elected Democrats in other races, and Coffman survived for three elections in a ticket-splitting feat of triangulation that bedeviled Democrats who always knew the seat was winnable. What Trump did most to affect the CD-6 race was to cast Coffman’s two-faced playing off his own party’s soiled brand in undeniably harsh relief. Once that happened, the ticket-splits that kept Coffman office simply evaporated.

We suspect there will be some lingering debate among conservatives whether Coffman should have openly embraced the President, but in the case of swing CD-6, we’re pretty confident that would have only widened Coffman’s margin of defeat.

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Coffman Goes From Hard-Right, To Softer-Right, To Every Which Way–And Then Out

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

After U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman won re-election in 2016, prevailing in a district carried by Hillary Clinton, even a liberal blog ColoradoPols wrote that the Republican’s “ability to survive so many very different electoral climates and the complete refashioning of his congressional district make another serious run at Coffman increasingly difficult to justify.”

Two years later, Coffman has been voted out, replaced by Democrat Jason Crow.

The difference this year is Trump.

Coffman’s increasingly desperate attempts to define himself as an anti-Trump Republican weren’t believed by voters who apparently saw him as a pawn in Trump’s GOP army. A pawn with a 96 percent pro-Trump voting record, as Democrats repeated throughout the campaign.

Actually, Coffman was more Trump-like during the first 18 years of his political career than he was when he was voted out today. He began migrating away from his hardest-hard-right social conservative stances after his congressional district was redrawn after the 2010 census.

Unlike some flip-flopping politicians, Coffman’s migration was achieved by adopting multiple nuanced positions on controversial issues–with variations emerging over years.

On abortion, for example, he went from proudly opposing all abortion, even for rape and incest, to withdrawing his support for a personhood abortion ban. Later, he voted for abortion ban exceptions, infuriating his personhood supporters.

He voted to defund Planned Parenthood multiple times and then put a Planned Parenthood logo in a campaign advertisement. And then, in interviews on conservative radio, he continued to attack the women’s health organization.

On immigration, his spectacular metamorphosis took him from calling the Dream Act a nightmare to embracing it, even though he blocked the country’s best shot at immigration reform when he opposed a comprehensive immigration bill, passed in 2014 with bipartisan support in the U.S. Senate. The bill died in the House, and Coffman went on to learn Spanish.

(more…)

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Get More Smarter: The Big Predictions Thread

With the 2018 elections wrapping up today, here’s our master list of official predictions on the outcome in Colorado. If you’re looking for national predictions, we suggest FiveThirtyEight or your choice of outlets focused on the national map. For the next 24 hours, we’re focused exclusively on the home front.

With that in mind, please refer to this list as you roast your hosts on Wednesday for everything we get wrong:

Governor: Jared Polis will handily win the race for governor. Our previous forecasts had held the prediction of Polis’ win margin below 10% citing a number of factors, but over the past few weeks the climate has only improved for Democrats in Colorado and ballot returns echo this growing confidence. A double-digit Polis win is now a real possibility.

CD-6: After years of trying, Democrats harpoon the proverbial white whale and bring incumbent GOP Rep. Mike Coffman down. Coffman’s ticket-splitting survival strategy of triangulation off his own party was confounded by Donald Trump’s election, and he has been unable to maintain the illusory separation from the GOP brand that kept him in office in a district unsupportive of conservative Republican politics.

CD-3: Despite a spirited campaign by state Rep. Diane Mitsch Bush, recent polling and anecdotes from the field suggest that incumbent GOP Rep. Scott Tipton will retain his seat and thus serve as the Republican Party’s firewall in Colorado for 2018. This race is a good barometer of the size of a potential “Blue Wave” nationally; if Tipton loses, that means Democrats are wiping out Republicans everywhere.

Colorado House: Democrats are poised to gain seats in the chamber they already control by a comfortable margin.

Colorado Senate: Republicans have poured at least $10 million into preserving their single-seat majority in the Colorado Senate, the only locus of Republican veto power in Colorado state government. Control over the chamber appears to be focusing on the SD-24 race between Republican Beth Martinez Humenik and Faith Winter. This race, and with it control of the Senate, is an absolute toss-up, and we honestly have no idea which way it will fall.

Colorado Attorney General: Phil Weiser appears poised to win this race after an ugly but bumbling negative campaign waged by Republican George Brauchler. Historic frustration for Democrats in this race obliges contained enthusiasm, but this is the constitutional statewide office Democrats feel strongest about flipping (other than Governor, of course).

Colorado Treasurer: Republican Brian Watson’s prodigious baggage has been thoroughly aired in this campaign, combining with high Democratic turnout to inspire a measure of confidence in Democrat Dave Young. We give Young the slight edge.

Colorado Secretary of State: Colorado voters haven’t awarded the top four statewide offices to the same party in more than 20 years. Despite a checkered record as Secretary of State and late-breaking scandals that likely would have sunk his re-election bid had they come out earlier, Wayne Williams is the most likely Republican to win statewide in Colorado this year.

We expect this year’s “alphabet amendments,” Amendments V, W, X, Y, Z, and A to all pass handily, as will the payday loan rate cap Proposition 111Amendment 73, a measure to hike taxes on high-income earners for public education, may outperform previous similar measures that were handily defeated but is still unlikely to pass. Amendment 74, the highly controversial takings measure opposed by basically everyone except the oil and gas industry, is also likely to die–as is Proposition 112, a measure to substantially increase setbacks between new oil and gas drilling and surface development, leaving a status quo ante on the issue for the next governor.

Of the two transportation funding measures, Proposition 109 and Proposition 110, we’d say 109 is the more likely of the two to pass because it promises something for nothing to voters by borrowing money to fix roads (assuming legislators will find cuts in the state’s budget to pay for it). We’re concerned that the work to educate voters on the irresponsibility of 109 versus the responsible pay-fors of 110 has not been sufficient, though the overall confusion with two competing ballot measures could sink both options.

And there you have it, readers! We, like everybody on the ballot, await the judgement of history.

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Hey, Look: #Crowmentum is a Thing Now

That’s a lot of post-it notes. (Photo by Hyoung Chang/The Denver Post)

The Denver Post spent the weekend with a bunch of different 2018 candidates. The story gives us a little something to Crow about here at Colorado Pols (yeah, we went there):

Standing before a Post-it display that spelled “#CROWMENTUM,” Crow tried to balance confidence and caution. [Pols emphasis] The polls may be good, he said, but ballots are “still out there,” and Democrats learned a hard lesson in 2016.

“We can do this, we will do this,” he said, “but we have to do it in the next three days.”

And then he was off to launch another wave of volunteers into a grey, stormy morning.

Apparently there’s also a #Crowmentum tag on Twitter now.

We’re fairly certain that you can trace #Crowmentum back to this post on Colorado Pols. Certain enough, at least, that we’re going to take credit for it.

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Winning, Losing: What It Looks Like

One of the prevalent narratives of the 2018 elections in Colorado is a tremendous gap in voter enthusiasm between Republicans on the defensive under Donald Trump’s widening cloud and Democrats surging to avenge themselves upon every candidate with an (R) after their name. This difference in enthusiasm is broadly evident in the final weekend of field campaigning before Tuesday’s election, with photographic evidence all over social media.

On the Saturday before Election Day in a race GOP incumbent Rep. Mike Coffman is expected by every responsible observer to lose, it would seem that friends are hard to come by. We count ten supporters in this picture, some of whom we assume are staff.

Coffman’s Democratic opponent Jason Crow…did a little better.

A similar story appears to be playing out in races all over the state. In the slate of key state senate races set to determine control of the chamber, big crowds of canvassers mobilized this morning for Faith Winter, Jessie Danielson, Tammy Story, Brittany Pettersen, and Kerry Donovan’s re-election on the Western Slope.

In the interest of fairness, here’s GOP gubernatorial nominee Walker Stapleton rallying a respectable number of party faithful in the conservative exurban bastion of Douglas County this morning:

But any Republican feeling reassured by this decent turnout in solidly Republican Douglas County is going to have to explain Democratic nominee Jared Polis’ substantially bigger crowd last night in the equally arch-conservative bastion of Colorado Springs. Here’s a campaign not conceding a single precinct:

The rule of winning statewide in Colorado is that you have to run up the score in your base regions of the state, but you can’t lose too badly in areas you’re destined to lose. El Paso County’s large number of Democratic and swingable votes can’t be overlooked simply because they don’t add up to a majority in El Paso County–and the Polis campaign clearly understands this.

All told, the photos tell a story consistent with the polling and analysis that all says Tuesday will be a very good night for Colorado Democrats up and down the ballot. There’s certainly no sign of complacency here on the part of Democrats, which would pose the biggest danger at this point of undercutting Tuesday’s results. This is a party mindful of the opportunity this election presents, and determined to close the deal.

If you have photos from campaign events, field operations, or anything else that helps document this unfolding moment in history, please share them in comments below.

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This Is Not a Good Look for the Colorado Springs Gazette

Wayne and Dede Laugesen

The Washington Post has been conducting interviews with female voters in the suburbs of Atlanta and Denver, and today published a long story looking at how women are shaping the 2018 election. In what was probably an unintentional side-effect, the Post story also laid bare the right-wing leanings of the Colorado Springs Gazette.

Among the women included in the Post’s story is Dede Laugesen, the Republican political consultant and a former campaign operative with the Donald Trump for President campaign who is married to Wayne Laugesen, the Editorial Page Editor for the Colorado Springs Gazette newspaper. The Gazette is an unapologetically right-wing newspaper that has worked hard to carry water for Republicans in 2018, spinning for Mike Coffman and putting their thumb on the scale for Walker Stapleton. The Gazette is so far from the mainstream that it has even recently defended hate groups, but that wasn’t even their most ridiculous editorial; that honor goes to this stupendously dumb editorial in August that tried to defend Stapleton’s family history with the Ku Klux Klan by making a ridiculous argument that Jared Polis should also be dinged for white supremacist connections.

Political observers in Colorado know that the Gazette is a right-wing newspaper. That might not have been as obvious elsewhere, but it would be impossible to miss after reading about Dede Laugesen’s story in the Post:

In early 2015, Dede Laugesen attended the annual Conservative Political Action Conference with her husband in the Washington suburbs.

After Trump spoke, she walked to the press area in the back of the room, where her husband, the editorial page editor of the Colorado Springs Gazette, was sitting. “I said I think it’s Donald Trump,” Laugesen recalled. “He patted my shoulder and he said, ‘Oh honey, he’s not even going to run. . . . ’ And I said, ‘Well, that’s a shame, because I really think that he is the guy who could win.’ ”…

That right there should tell you plenty about the political leanings of the Editorial Page of the Colorado Springs Gazette, but we haven’t yet scratched the surface of this weirdness. Let’s keep reading:

…In the summer of 2016, she joined the Trump campaign, first as a volunteer and then as a member of the staff. On the day the “Access Hollywood” video was released, she was at the El Paso County Republican Party’s headquarters. “I remember taking a really deep breath, closing my computer, packing it up and walking out of the office without saying anything to anybody,” she said.

She prayed about it and pondered the salacious revelation and what it said about her candidate. She talked with her husband. “I found that my commitment to him was firm,” she said. [Pols emphasis] She reached that conclusion based on her faith, of “being a Catholic who is forgiving of sinners, recognizing that we all sinned and have things in our life that we’re not proud of.”

“And the Lord sayeth, thou shalt grab the woman by the pussy.”

— Nowhere in the Bible

Yes, friends, Dede Laugesen prayed about Donald Trump’s disgusting comments in the now-infamous “Access Hollywood Tape,” and the voice in her head replied, “Eh, whatever.”

You know, because Barack Obama. Back to the Washington Post:

Laugesen blames Obama for many of today’s political divisions. When President Barack Obama talked about change, she saw that as an effort to move the country “away from what we have been in the world, a constitutional republic, and moving us toward socialism.” Trump’s message, to make America great again, was a signal that he “wanted to return us to our roots and reaffirm the goodness that is America.”

She is skeptical about talk of a blue wave in November. She is puzzled by the polls that show so many women do not like the president. [Pols emphasis] “It’s hard for me,” she said. “I’ve always been one who gets along better with the guys than I do the girls. And maybe that’s why God made me mother to six boys. I like a guy who can speak his mind and get things done.”

And there you have it. Just remember this when the Gazette runs an editorial this weekend calling the Washington Post a “fake news source.”

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Echoing Trump’s Falsehoods About Journalism, Coffman Accuses New York Times Of Rigging Its Poll Against Him

(Which stage of grief is this? – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Rep. Mike Coffman (R).

With multiple polls showing U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman of Aurora headed toward defeat in Tuesday’s election, the longtime Republican Congressman saw no reason to worry yesterday, blaming the New York Times for deliberately skewing polling results toward his opponent, Democrat Jason Crow, and manufacturing concern about a possible loss by Coffman.

Asked about polls showing him down by double digits in his race with Crow, Coffman told KOA radio host April Zezbaugh:

Coffman: “That was by the New York Times and I think they put their thumb on the scale.”

Put their thumb on the scale?

This accusation reflects statements by Trump, who repeatedly calls the most respected news outlets in America “fake news.” He’s refers to the New York Times repeatedly as, “The failing New York Times.” Even though the stock price of the Times had more than doubled since Trump entered office.

The Colorado Times Recorder called Coffman’s spokesman Tyler Sandberg to ask if Coffman had any evidence that the New York Times rigged its poll against him.

“I don’t talk to fake news.” Sandberg said. “Thanks.”

(more…)

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Trump Exposes Coffman’s Ugly Past on “Birthright Citizenship”

Responding to news this week that President Donald Trump would like to use an executive order to rescind the 14th Amendment’s guarantee of citizenship to persons born on American soil–which he can’t actually do–Rep. Mike Coffman, facing increasingly likely defeat next Tuesday, responded in a way that sounded fairly critical:

In Spanish, so there’s no confusion as to the target audience:

Since Trump took office, Coffman has had plenty of opportunities to triangulate off the president’s hard-line statements on immigration, and he’s taken some of them. Eliminating the constitutional guarantee of citizenship for children born on American soil is certainly one of the most controversial and aggressive moves Trump has proposed on immigration yet. Obviously, it’s in Coffman’s best interests to put as much daylight as possible between himself and this proposal with the swing voters he’s won over with his moderate tone.

Unfortunately for Mike Coffman, when it comes to the issue of “birthright citizenship,” there’s a problem.

The problem is that Mike Coffman himself co-sponsored legislation to rescind birthright citizenship, in both 2009 and 2011. This was back when Coffman was doing his best to uphold his congressional predecessor Tom Tancredo’s hard line anti-immigrant legacy, and before redistricting in 2011 redrew Coffman’s district to include a far more diverse and immigrant-heavy constituency. After that time, of course, these bills morphed from political asset to massive political liability; and Coffman has tried mightily to live them down, and reinvent himself wholesale on the issue.

But as you can see, Coffman can’t criticize Trump on the underlying issue, just the constitutionality of him doing this by executive order, without exposing himself as a hypocrite–even though it’s likely that Coffman’s legislation to rescind “birthright citizenship” would have run up against the 14th Amendment’s plain language too. Once you know Coffman’s true history on this issue, his weak statement of protest against Trump is exposed as a lame attempt to cover up Coffman’s own record. At the very least, a reporter needs to ask Coffman specifically what has changed between 2011, when he sponsored legislation to do exactly what Trump is proposing, and today when he wants voters to think he opposes it.

Better ask soon, though, because after next Tuesday it might not matter.

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Introducing: “Alva The Allknowingest”

Alva The Allknowingest

President Trump has managed to transform Washington D.C. into an even stranger place than it once was. Many of the words that come out of his mouth are outright terrifying and/or completely devoid of any factual basis. Many of his actions are what we’ll charitably call “questionable.”

The pot that Trump stirs can often force Colorado Republicans to issue their own comments or statements, though not always in a timely manner. It took Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) four days to respond to a question from 9News about whether he found Dr. Christine Blasey Ford to be “credible” following her testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee regarding the Supreme Court nomination of Brett Kavanaugh.

So, instead of waiting for comments from our top elected officials on important issues of the day, we decided to access our third political eye to offer predictions for what these political luminaries are likely to say if and when they get around to issuing a response. We’re calling this new feature:

“Alva the Allknowingest”

Today we are discussing President Trump’s declaration that he plans to retroactively remove the U.S. citizenship rights of immigrants who are born in the United States. He can’t actually do this, on account of THE CONSTITUTION, but here’s what Trump said in an interview with Axios:

President Trump plans to sign an executive order that would remove the right to citizenship for babies of non-citizens and unauthorized immigrants born on U.S. soil, he said yesterday in an exclusive interview for “Axios on HBO” [Pols emphasis]…

…This would be the most dramatic move yet in Trump’s hardline immigration campaign, this time targeting “anchor babies” and “chain migration.” And it will set off another stand-off with the courts, as Trump’s power to do this through executive action is debatable to say the least.

Trump told “Axios on HBO” that he has run the idea of ending birthright citizenship by his counsel and plans to proceed with the highly controversial move, which certainly will face legal challenges.

“It was always told to me that you needed a constitutional amendment. Guess what? You don’t,” Trump said, declaring he can do it by executive order.

When told that’s very much in dispute, Trump replied: “You can definitely do it with an Act of Congress. But now they’re saying I can do it just with an executive order.”

So…wow, right?

Tote Bag of Wisdom

Let’s dig deep into our Tote Bag of Wisdom (patent possibly pending) to predict how some of Colorado’s notable Republican officials will respond to this news:

Senator Cory Gardner (R-Yuma):

“I think what the President is trying to say is that Americans recognize that our immigration system is broken. We need Republican Senators from states like Arizona, North Dakota, Missouri, and Indiana to come together and solve this problem for the American people. 

“At the end of the day, I’m going to agree with the President where we agree and disagree where we don’t agree. Everybody should have the opportunity to agree or disagree with the President. That’s the Colorado way.”

Congressman Mike Coffman (R-Aurora):

“I’ve said many times that I would stand up to President Trump if I thought he was wrong. That’s why I’m calling for Deputy Under Secretary for Management Chip Fulghum to be fired from the Department of Homeland Security.”

Republican gubernatorial candidate Walker Stapleton:

Jared Polis wants to open Colorado’s borders to allow anyone to come to our state. Citizenship belongs to Americans born to other Americans in states across this great nation, from Connecticut to California. Jared Polis!”

Republican Attorney General candidate George Brauchler:

“I’m a rule of law guy. If you rule, you make the laws. And I totally rule.”

Congressman Doug Lamborn (R-Colorado Springs):

“I’ll have the soup.”

Alva’s bonus prediction:

You will be very, very cold when you are trick-or-treating on Wednesday.

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Get More Smarter on Thursday (October 25)

One week from today, half of your office will be at home suffering from the “Halloween flu.” It’s time to Get More Smarter. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of a visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show.

 

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► Voter Service and Polling Centers are now open. Head on over to GoVoteColorado.com for more information on voting centers, ballot drop-off locations, or for resources to check on the status of your mail ballot. Click here to see the latest ballot return numbers from the Colorado Secretary of State.

 

► The Washington Post has the latest on the investigation into explosive devices being mailed to Democratic figures (and Robert DeNiro):

Authorities investigating a wave of pipe bombs mailed to prominent figures across the country said Thursday that they have found 10 similar packages, including two sent to former vice president Joe Biden and another mailed to the actor Robert De Niro.

These latest packages set off new alarms amid a sprawling investigation into explosive devices mailed to a string of politicians — including former president Barack Obama and former secretary of state Hillary Clinton — who have all criticized President Trump. Like the others, the packages sent to Biden and De Niro were intercepted before reaching their intended targets and did not detonate. They also prompted a further surge of law enforcement activity as the effort to find the culprit or culprits, along with any other possible explosives, expanded farther across the country.

The devices have prompted unease and heightened security nationwide. Police have increased patrols of high-profile people, areas and organizations that could be targeted, and authorities have warned some prominent figures — including former president Jimmy Carter — to be on alert. Officials rushed to respond to reported suspicious packages from San Diego to Boston, only to determine they were not dangerous.

President Trump is blaming the media for all of the bomb threats, because, of course he is. But as Philip Rucker writes for the Washington Post, the threats all have a common theme (hint: It’s related to a guy who lives in the White House). The folks over at Politico agree:

Trump’s solemn remarks were a jarring contrast with his typical raucous political rallies, where he regularly whips his supporters into a frenzy by mocking his critics and political opponents.

In Trump’s world, Clinton should be imprisoned, Obama “founded” ISIS, CNN is “fake news,” billionaire George Soros is funding liberal protesters and Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), who called on activists to confront administration officials, should “be careful what you wish for.”…

…“There is a total and complete lack of understanding at the White House about the seriousness of their continued attacks on the media,” CNN President Jeff Zucker said in a statement. “The president, and especially the White House press secretary, should understand their words matter. Thus far, they have shown no comprehension of that.”

 

► Republican Rep. Mike Coffman participated in what might be his final debate as an incumbent politician on Tuesday evening. We chronicled the 30-minute debate in one of our famous “Debate Diaries,” and were surprised to see Coffman going down without much of a fight.

 

► Republican State Senate candidate Tony Sanchez approved a truly disgusting piece of attack mail in his bid to win an open seat in SD-22.

 

 

Get even more smarter after the jump…

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Coffman’s Saudi Arabia Faceplant: Last Chance Blown?

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

CNN reports on the stunning admission late yesterday from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia that officials directly subordinate to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman were indeed responsible for the murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi inside the kingdom’s consulate in Istanbul:

After 18 days in which Saudi Arabia adamantly denied that any harm had come to Jamal Khashoggi at its consulate in Istanbul, it committed a startling about-face. Not only did Riyadh admit that Khashoggi came to a violent end, it pinned the blame on some of the closest aides to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Saudi Arabia’s de facto ruler.

Ahmad al-Assiri and Saud al-Qahtani, both widely known figures who shot to fame during the crown prince’s rapid rise to power, were among five high-ranking officials who were dismissed over Khashoggi’s death. Eighteen others were detained…

In a flurry of coordinated statements, issued in the dead of night in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia claimed Khashoggi’s death was accidental. According to the Saudi Press Agency, preliminary investigations revealed that “discussions” between Khashoggi and suspects currently detained by Saudi Arabia developed into a physical altercation that resulted in Khashoggi’s death. Those responsible then tried to cover up the death, state TV said.

Outside the bubble of Saudi state media–and apparently, the Trump administration–it has been the consensus of investigators and reporters that Khashoggi was murdered inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey. Turkish investigators were said to have evidence from the beginning, though the source and manner has been in question, that Khashoggi was tortured and dismembered by a team of high-level Saudi agents who arrived in the country with this sole task. Given the autocratic control of every part of Saudi Arabia’s economy and government by the Saudi royal family, it’s an easy question even for non-foreign policy experts like this blog how this could possibly have happened without the Crown Prince’s express authorization.

Although Saudi Arabia appears to be working to insulate the royal family from responsibility for what is now indisputably a grave diplomatic crisis, this admission is still pretty close to the worst-case scenario for the Trump administration, who has spent the last two weeks more or less determined to blame anyone else for this killing they can. President Donald Trump in particular has gone on at great length about the purchases of arms and other American products the Saudis have committed to, in a grisly attempt to counterbalance the value of Jamal Khashoggi’s life against these purchases.

As this news was breaking yesterday, embattled Rep. Mike Coffman of Colorado, struggling for life in the 2018 midterms and triaged out of support from national Republicans, tried to get his name into the story:

After Mike Coffman called in penalty and repentance for the “immediate recall” of the “acting ambassador” to Saudi Arabia via Twitter, the internet remembered a fairly important detail: the United States doesn’t have an ambassador to Saudi Arabia.

Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Aurora.

To Coffman’s modest credit, the acting ambassador to Saudi Arabia is the chargé d’affaires, ad interim at the American Embassy in Riyadh, Christopher Henzel. But unlike most “interim” positions at this level, that’s not expected to change anytime soon. The reason for this is that President Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner has personally assumed responsibility for American diplomacy with Saudi Arabia, and this informal nepotistic arrangement has suited the Saudis just fine. Henzel doesn’t have the real power in relations with the Saudis, Kushner does. So if Coffman wanted to call for something that might actually matter, he would call for Trump to tell his son-in-law to do it. But for all the obvious reasons, Coffman’s not going to go there. So he makes a statement that dodges the whole issue.

And that, gentle readers, is how Coffman made himself into a punchline on foreign policy with just over two weeks until the election. Even The Hill, a notoriously incumbent-friendly publication, couldn’t fully spin it back.

With Coffman already well behind in the polls, nobody’s going to say in hindsight that this latest embarrassing demonstration of Coffman’s ineptitude when it comes to the biggest asset he offers the voters of swing CD-6–“standing up to his own party”–was the event that flipped this race. Especially since Trump’s election, Coffman’s inability to affect the course of his party’s unpopular agenda has proven the emptiness of this promise over and over.

But as a straw that breaks the proverbial camel’s back, sure. This might do it.

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Republicans Pulling Out of CO-6, Signaling End for Coffman

Rep. Mike Coffman (left) and challenger Jason Crow

The National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) is pulling out of CO-6 as prospects for Rep. Mike Coffman’s re-election grow increasingly sour.

As Jesse Paul reports for The Colorado Sun:

The powerful National Republican Congressional Committee, the party’s arm in charge of ensuring GOP members are elected and re-elected to Congress, will stop its spending on U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman’s behalf in the 6th Congressional District.

The group confirmed the decision on Friday to The Colorado Sun.

The NRCC had spent or reserved more than $2.1 million in television ad spending for Coffman, a five-term incumbent, as he battles Democrat Jason Crow.

The group will pull all of the spending it had left in the race through Election Day. That’s about $1 million.

The Congressional Leadership Fund (CLF), a SuperPAC run by House Speaker Paul Ryan, announced in late September that it was withdrawing from CO-6. With both public and private polls showing Coffman losing to Democrat Jason Crow, the writing on the wall has apparently become too much to ignore.

Barring some unexpected shift in the next two weeks, Coffman’s 30 years in elected office is coming to an end.

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NY Times Wraps Up CO-6 Poll: Crow Leads Coffman 47-38

The New York Times wrapped up a very long “live” poll in CO-6, and the final numbers aren’t much better for Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Aurora) than they were at first glance a few weeks back. The Crowmentum continues!

In discussing its polling data in CO-6 and other key Congressional races around the country, Nate Cohn of the New York Times wrote on Wednesday that he expects these results to more or less hold depending on turnout in the General Election. This analysis fits with everything else we’ve seen lately, from national Republicans abandoning Coffman to Coffman’s own campaign releasing an internal poll showing their candidate losing to Democrat Jason Crow.

We’ve learned from prior races that Coffman has a way of sticking around and pulling out a victory on Election Day, so it’s way too early for Democrats to start celebrating in CO-6. Nevertheless, Crow appears to be a solid favorite with less than three weeks to go.

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Mike Coffman, Republicans Reach New Level of Absurdity

Republican Congressman Mike Coffman has been in elected office for 30 years, but it’s looking more and more like his political career has reached the end of the line in 2018. Multiple public polls have shown Coffman trailing Democrat Jason Crow by significant margins (Coffman has even released internal polls that show him losing), and national Republican backers are pulling out of CO-6 — a clear sign that Coffman is considered to be a lost cause as the GOP scrambles to find some way to hold on to their House majority.

Coffman’s own desperation is palpable. Long known as a politician who will take every position on every issue, Coffman hammered the panic button recently when said that he would even consider supporting impeachment proceedings against President Trump (never mind the fact that Coffman has voted with Trump 96% of the time in Congress).

But Coffman and Colorado Republicans aren’t done yet. They managed to raise the ridiculous bar another few feet with this new mailer:

In case you can’t see the embedded image, we’re talking about a mail piece paid for by the Colorado Republican Party that talks about how Coffman stands up to the Republican Party. Of course, Coffman doesn’t actually “stand up” to the Republican Party, but the very idea that the State GOP is pushing this message is almost too absurd to believe.

Almost too absurd to believe.

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Get More Smarter on Friday (October 12)

One week from today, you might have already voted. For now, it’s time to Get More Smarter. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of a visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show.

 

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► According to a new Washington Post/ABC News poll, most Americans do not think Brett Kavanaugh should have been confirmed to the Supreme Court:

More Americans disapprove of Brett M. Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the Supreme Court than approve, and a narrow majority says congressional investigation of the new justice should not end with his elevation to the court, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll

…It also suggests the tumultuous battle over his nomination could harm the court’s reputation as the nonpartisan branch of government.

The survey, conducted during Kavanaugh’s first week on the bench, shows that 43 percent of Americans believe the court’s rulings will be more politically motivated with President Trump’s second nominee on the court, compared to 10 percent who said they will be less political. To 39 percent of the public, Kavanaugh’s presence will make no difference in the degree of partisanship.

 

► The stock market is falling. As the New York Times reports, President Trump is pointing fingers at everybody else.

President Trump responded to falling stock prices on Thursday by continuing to throw rocks at the Federal Reserve, which he has described as “crazy,” “loco,” “going wild” and “out of control” for slowly raising interest rates against the backdrop of a booming economy.

No other modern president has publicly attacked the Fed with such venom or frequency. Indeed, some scholars said the only close historical parallel was with President Andrew Jackson, who campaigned successfully in the 1830s to close the Fed’s predecessor, the Second Bank of the United States.

Mr. Trump’s pointed remarks reflect the high political stakes less than a month before midterm elections that have been cast by his political opponents as a referendum on his presidency. Mr. Trump has been riding the economy hard, bragging about job creation, tax cuts and reduced federal regulation, and claiming credit for the rise of the stock market. Now that the market has lost 5 percent of its value in the last week, Mr. Trump is insisting someone else is to blame.

 

► The Trump administration claims that changing the next U.S. Census is not a political maneuver designed to help Republicans. As Philip Bump reports for the Washington Post, this argument doesn’t hold much water:

What the Kobach email reveals, though, is that the political effects of asking the question on immigration were part of the calculus on deciding whether to include it — in case there was any question in that regard. There’s an existing problem in counting noncitizen immigrants in the census, and experts argue that including the question will itself drive down response rates to the survey.

Including the question, in other words, will itself help meet Kobach’s goal of getting undocumented immigrants out of population totals (to whatever extent they’re already included) even without anyone actually answering it.

Oh, you mean those conversations about citizenship questions.

 

Get even more smarter after the jump…

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Rep. Mike Coffman: The Wrong Side of the Firewall

Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Aurora)

New York Times:

As they brace for losses in the House of Representatives, Republican Party leaders are racing to reinforce their candidates in about two-dozen districts, trying to create a barricade around their imperiled majority. They are pouring money and effort mainly into moderate suburban areas, like Mr. Sessions’s seat, that they see as critical to holding the chamber by even a one-seat margin. And they have begun to pull millions of dollars away from Republican candidates who have fallen substantially behind in once-competitive races…

Every election year as October forces national party strategists to make the hard calls about who in Congress can be saved and who must be cut loose–the inverse being who needs help versus who is out of danger–in order to allocate precious resources to the right districts in order to either preserve or win the majority.

In 2018, with majority Republicans looking at an increasingly desperate map and “safe” Republican incumbents in danger all over the country, the goal is to create a firewall of must-hold seats they’ll defend to the last. Because without those seats, the Republican majority in the U.S. House of Representatives is done for.

It’s a firewall that no longer includes Rep. Mike Coffman:

There are between 60 and 70 Republican-held districts that are being seriously contested, and Democrats, boosted by strong fund-raising, have been expanding their television advertising in conservative-leaning districts in an effort to stretch Republicans thin. National polls have shown most voters favor a Democratic-led House over a Republican one, though the Democrats’ lead has varied.

In a tactical retreat, Republican groups have already withdrawn some or all funding from a few embattled incumbents, mainly in suburbs where President Trump is unpopular, including Representatives Kevin Yoder of Kansas, Mike Coffman of Colorado and Mike Bishop of Michigan.

After the 2016 elections, Democratic victory over Coffman was considered out of reach, even a fool’s errand after so many defeats. The double-digit lead in polling for Democratic candidate Jason Crow this year is not an invitation to complacency on the part of Democrats, not after being so bitterly disappointed in this race so many times.

But in previous years, it was Coffman’s Democratic opponents who found themselves cut off from national support as part of the October triage process. This year Coffman is the one being cut off, and every analyst following the CD-6 race has flipped to favoring the Democrat to win. Republican odds of holding the U.S. House have been slim for months based on public polls, but the difference now is the GOP strategy to hold their majority no longer relies on Mike Coffman winning re-election.

For Democrats, it’s truly now or never.

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