Post Finds Its Voice To Call Out RGA’s Immigrant Baiting

Walker Stapleton.

After the sudden departure of the former Denver Post editorial board editor Chuck Plunkett earlier this year, the opinion section of the Post was without its institutional voice for several months. The Post resumed publication of editorials a few weeks later after new editor Megan Schrader, ex-Colorado Springs Gazette reporter, returned from leave. The first few offerings from the new Denver Post editorial board were not very satisfying, with a particularly insipid defense of Cory Gardner in mid-July that made eyes roll.

But today, the editorial board weighs in strongly in condemnation of the Republican Governors Association’s recent attacks on Democratic gubernatorial nominee Jared Polis, making incendiary claims about Polis’ stand on immigration:

Groups like the RGA and Better Colorado Now, are going to try to make this election for Colorado governor about immigration. We hope Colorado voters don’t take the bait. This race should be focused on the important issues that a governor can actually control like education and transportation and what this state should do with a windfall of cash…

Oddly the door hanger also says Polis “even wants to give in-state tuition to illegal immigrants.” Of course he does. It was good public policy with bi-partisan support when Colorado lawmakers voted in 2013 to allow recent graduates of Colorado high schools to attend state colleges with in-state tuition regardless of their legal status.

…It should make all Colorado voters, regardless of how they feel about immigration and Trump, a bit nauseated that the RGA and Better Colorado Now are using this wedge issue with such dishonesty. [Pols emphasis]

The editorial notes correctly that Walker Stapleton personally raised funds for Better Colorado Now before he formally launched his campaign–which made a farce of the idea of an “independent expenditure committee,” and most certainly makes it fair game to hold Stapleton responsible for the group’s communications now. This was one of the original examples of Stapleton’s fumbling of the most basic principles of a modern campaign–and we expect it won’t be the last time it comes back to haunt him.

For all the consternation over the Post’s milquetoast or even mercenary opinions through the years, with the seminal example remaining the paper’s credibility-straining endorsement of Cory Gardner in 2014, we’re glad to see them drawing a bright line against the factually-challenged attacks on immigrants that have become even more routine in the Donald Trump era than they were before. Newspapers no longer have the commanding audience to serve as a binding moral authority, if they ever did.

But today’s politics need all the moral checks and balances we can get. More like this please.

Get More Smarter on Wednesday (August 15)

A man, a plan, a canal, Panama (the Panama Canal opened on this day in 1914). 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.



► Another big Primary Election is in the books. The Washington Post breaks down the winners and losers from Tuesday’s elections in Connecticut, Minnesota, Vermont, and Wisconsin, including some historical firsts:

For the first time, voters of a major party nominated an openly transgender woman for governor. Christine Hallquist won the Democratic nomination for governor in Vermont (though she’ll have to work hard to actually make that race against Gov. Phil Scott (R) competitive). In Connecticut, Democrat Jahana Hayes won her primary for Congress and is set to become the first black woman to represent New England in the House. In Minnesota, Democrat Ilhan Omar is one of two candidates who won primaries in the past two weeks vying to become the first Muslim woman elected to Congress.

Perhaps the most notable individual result was in Minnesota, where former two-term Gov. Tim Pawlenty was soundly rejected by Republican Primary voters. From the Associated Press:

Republicans needed only the governorship to take full control of state government in Minnesota, a traditionally left-leaning state that had become a lone outpost of divided government in the conservative Upper Midwest. Big donors saw Pawlenty as the man to do it.

Johnson had been viewed as a longshot given Pawlenty’s unparalleled name recognition and the money that quickly flowed to his campaign when he announced his campaign in early April. Pawlenty was the last Republican to win statewide in Minnesota with his 2006 victory for a second term.

But voters were unwilling to coronate Pawlenty, who didn’t bother challenging Johnson at the state party convention. His loss effectively ends a political career that peaked with two terms as governor and a short-lived 2012 presidential bid.

As the right-wing Washington Examiner writes, there is no place for the likes of Pawlenty in the current Republican Party.


► Kansas Gov. Jeff Colyer conceded the Republican Primary to Secretary of State Kris Kobach on Tuesday. Kobach won a narrow race after being endorsed by President Trump, but his victory could put the Governor’s race up for grabs as a result. Kobach is a Trumpian favorite but a train-wreck in general.


According to a new poll from CNN, Democrats have a 52-41 advantage in the latest survey on the national generic congressional ballot. The CNN poll also shows that health care is the top issue for most voters heading into November.


► The Colorado Springs Gazette published one of the dumbest editorials you will ever read on Tuesday. The editorial in question was edited throughout the day as Colorado journalists mocked its stupidity; it was later inexplicably defended by Gazette Editorial Page Editor Wayne Laugesen.


Get even more smarter after the jump…


Behold! The Dumbest Thing You Will Read This Year!

UPDATE (6:39 pm): This ridiculous editorial has apparently caught the attention of other journalists around Colorado, which has prompted the Gazette to make a bunch of changes throughout the day (as documented by Westword).

It gets better.

These discussions eventually led to this exchange between Colorado Independent columnist Mike Littwin and Gazette editorial page editor Wayne Laugesen. If you were silently hoping that Laugesen would try to spin this disaster as high-level satire that readers just don’t understand…well, you got your wish:

“Rhetorical reductio ad absurdism,” which translates roughly to, “This is a steaming pile of crap.”


Actual screenshot from the Colorado Springs Gazette (August 14, 2018)

The editorial board of the Colorado Springs Gazette today barfed out 726 of the most impressively stupid words you are likely to ever read in an actual newspaper. If there is Pulitzer Prize for petulance, the members of the Gazette editorial board might as well start writing up their acceptance speech.

The purpose of Tuesday’s long, meandering editorial is to decry stories about Republican gubernatorial candidate Walker Stapleton and his great-grandfather, the Ku Klux Klan-loving former Denver Mayor Benjamin Stapleton. This nonsense was presumably crafted in order to come to Walker Stapleton’s defense – something the Gazette has never been shy about doing in the past – but using an entire editorial page to flog this very issue is hilariously counterproductive. You know what definitely does not help Stapleton’s cause when it comes to stories about his family history with the KKK? Using 726 words to talk about Stapleton’s family ties to the KKK.

At least they’re spelling his name right.

Before we get to the actual “arguments” being attempted by the Gazette, let us again remind you why this issue continues to haunt Stapleton’s campaign: Because Walker Stapleton inexplicably refuses to just say that he condemns his great-grandfather’s coziness with the Klan. That’s it. There are plenty of self-inflicted wounds in politics, but this is more akin to letting a minor cut become a gangrenous infection simply because you refuse to apply a band-aid.

Let’s continue this metaphor as we break down the Gazette’s unintentionally-hilarious decision to pour raw sewage into Stapleton’s wound…


Even More Silly California Bashing–Who Is This Aimed At?


9NEWS’ Marshall Zelinger takes a look at another ad running in the Colorado governor’s race, once again demonizing the state of California as a segue into attacking Democratic nominee Jared Polis:

RadiCalifornia is back.

There is another political ad calling out Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jared Polis and suggesting he’s trying to turn Colorado into California: “RadiCalifornia.”

The ad ends with a suggestion to call Polis at his Washington, D.C. Congressional office. So, is this an ad about Polis’ gubernatorial campaign or his job as a Congressman?

The ad is paid for by State Solutions, Inc., which is a non-profit issue-advocacy group connected with the Republican Governors Association. The RGA produced the previous “RadiCalifornia” scrabble ad.

Like we said when the original “RadiCalifornia” ad ran in late July, the whole premise of this attack doesn’t make a lot of sense to us. It’s true that California’s tax and regulatory burden is overall higher than Colorado’s, but the presumed negative consequences of this aren’t explained convincingly. If you have some kind of predisposed hatred of the state of California, we suppose you’ll fill in the blanks.

But seriously, how many Colorado voters hate California enough to do that? This strikes us as an idea that sounded really good in a strategy session of political operatives, but has absolutely no resonance with ordinary people. The fact is that a very large percentage of the population of Colorado was not born here, and plenty of those folks hail from the Golden State themselves. California’s natural beauty is renowned, their unemployment rate is at a record low, and the state’s economy is bigger than most nations of the world.

So what exactly is, you know, the problem?

The only other thing we can add to this curious discussion is a little data. Neither Jared Polis nor his running mate Dianne Primavera were born in California, in fact they were both born here in Colorado: Polis in Boulder, and Primavera in Denver. By contrast, Republican nominee Walker Stapleton and his running mate Lang Sias were born in the state of Connecticut. Obviously a contest between Colorado and Connecticut is no contest–so we’ll ask the question another way.

Which state sucks more?
View Result


With all due respect to the Republican Governors Association, this just doesn’t seem like a winning message.

Get More Smarter on Tuesday (August 14)

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President Trump is the least racist person you have ever met. He just happens to say a lot of racist things. As the Washington Post reports:

President Trump on Tuesday referred to Omarosa Manigault Newman as “that dog” as the former senior White House adviser continued a publicity tour to promote her new book depicting Trump as a racist.

In a morning tweet, Trump praised his chief of staff, John F. Kelly, for firing Manigault Newman last year. The former reality television star was the highest-ranking black employee in the White House.

“When you give a crazed, crying lowlife a break, and give her a job at the White House, I guess it just didn’t work out,” Trump said. “Good work by General Kelly for quickly firing that dog!”

In response, Republicans like Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake issued STERN TWEETS!

Elected Republicans may not be interested in going out on even the sturdiest of limbs here, but as CNN’s Chris Cillizza writes, Trump is clearly very irritated by Omarosa:

Eight tweets in 24 hours — all about Omarosa. Eight tweets in which Trump refers to Omarosa, an African-American woman and former White House employee, as, among other things, a “dog,” “wacky,” “deranged,” a “crazed, crying lowlife,” “vicious” and “not smart.”

Now ask yourself this: Would you ever be as focused — bordering on obsessed — with someone who you didn’t care about and who you genuinely believed was just saying all sorts of false things? Would you call that person all sorts of names — including a number with quite clear racial under- (and over-) tones, if that person didn’t matter?

The answer of course is “no.” The fact that Trump appears to be absolutely fixated on Omarosa — and the book she wrote about her time in the White House — speaks to the fact that Trump is concerned about what the allegations she makes about him might have.


► Energy Secretary Rick Perry is visiting the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) in Golden today alongside Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma). This is the same Rick Perry who said earlier this year that moving from fossil fuels to renewable forms of energy is “immoral.”

Following their NREL tour, Gardner will likely get right back to work trying to avert electoral disaster in November.


► Today is Primary Election Day in another handful of states (Connecticut, Minnesota, Vermont and Wisconsin). Politico previews a particularly busy day in Wisconsin:

Wisconsin Democrats on Tuesday will choose from a field that once swelled to over a dozen candidates — an array of businessmen, state legislators, the mayor of Wisconsin’s most liberal city and the chief of the state firefighters union — to realize their long-elusive goal of defeating Republican Gov. Scott Walker.

But the clear frontrunner is state education superintendent Tony Evers, a 66-year-old white man who stands out in a year when Democrats have put forward high numbers of women, young people and first-time candidates for office. What Evers lacks in sizzle, Democrats are hoping he compensates for with a record of clashes with Walker over education that could energize his party and deny the Republican governor a third term.

After years of doing battle with unions and pushing conservative legislation, Walker may be the one Republican who gets Wisconsin Democrats as agitated as President Donald Trump does. And that, say some Democratic officials in the state, might be enough in a year like this.

The New York Times has more on what to watch for in today’s Primary races.


Get even more smarter after the jump…


Pundits Plead With Stapleton To Address KKK Great-Grandpa

Members of the Ku Klux Klan march in a parade on Larimer Street in Denver, Colorado May 31, 1926.

A story this weekend from the Denver Post’s John Aguilar and Ben Botkin once again revisits the story that Walker Stapleton used to lead with, and now runs away from: his great grandfather Benjamin Stapleton, who gives Walker most of his “Colorado native” bonafides but also saddles him with a legacy of Ku Klux Klan dominance of local politics during Benjamin Stapleton’s time in office.

This latest recap takes a fairly amusing turn as local members of the pseudo-centrist pundit class practically beg Stapleton to address the situation, after his responses to previous inquiries on the subject have revealed he really doesn’t know what to say:

“You can’t just ignore it,” said Eric Sondermann, a political analyst who has long kept an eye on state politics. “In this era of independent expenditures, it’s going to continue to come up.”

By independent expenditures, Sondermann is referring to the millions of dollars that interest groups not affiliated with political candidates have pumped into Colorado elections in recent years and will undoubtedly do again in 2018. Whether a third-party group decides to run an ad attempting to link Stapleton to his great-grandfather’s racist leanings, the candidate needs to be prepared — even proactive — about blunting any such attack, he said…

Pollster and political analyst Floyd Ciruli said Stapleton need not shine a light on the issue unsolicited but should have a response ready to go if the topic comes up.

The problem with this too-public telegraphing of concern to Stapleton’s campaign is that it’s already well past time to address the story. This weekend’s prominent piece in the Denver Post follows a similarly high-profile write-up in the New York Times two weeks ago, and Stapleton’s response to that story was totally inadequate. Stapleton has staked his dubious “Colorado native” identity on his great-grandfather, and in the 2009 campaign video you can watch above he celebrated Ben Stapleton’s leadership of Denver with no mention whatsoever of the Ku Klux Klan’s control of the city.

It’s not just that Walker Stapleton wants to have it both ways on his family’s KKK ties. For almost a decade, Stapleton has had it both ways. He has freely traded on his Stapleton family name to advance in Colorado politics without having to answer for the dark side of that legacy. Stapleton has had innumerable chances to address this, and has chosen not to.

At this point, any change of course looks like an election-season ploy–because it is. Maybe six months ago, it could have been different. Or in 2010.

Blowing The Dog Whistle With Lang Sias

Rep. Lang Sias (R).

A story today in the Grand Junction Sentinel from reporter Gabrielle Porter covers Republican “Lite Gov” nominee Lang Sias, delivering in Grand Junction yesterday what seems to be the party’s central message about Democratic nominee Jared Polis: he’s from the dreaded socialist hellhole of Boulder, he’s so super far lefty-left that he would be as bad as [insert 20th Century Marxist tyrant here], and that everybody he knows is excited to “work with” Walker Stapleton:

Republican lieutenant governor candidate Lang Sias may have been speaking to at least one self-described “hard-core conservative” at a Grand Junction eatery Saturday afternoon.

But more than focus on his own resume — which includes three years as a state legislator and nearly three decades in the military with stints as a Navy fighter pilot before being tapped as running mate to GOP gubernatorial pick Walker Stapleton — the Arvada resident spent considerable time Saturday casting his as the more moderate ticket.

But then, in one of Colorado’s reddest towns and surrounded by the friendliest of fellow conservatives, Sias took the rhetoric a step further:

To laughs, Sias said he’s heard from several Democrats who he claimed confided in him that they plan to vote for Walker because “the alternative is 50 shades of crazy.” [Pols emphasis]

Full stop. We have little doubt that Sias and the Stapleton campaign will protest mightily at the suggestion that this little wisecrack was an example of what’s known in politics as “blowing the dog whistle”–a statement that thinly conceals its true intention of invoking prejudice against its target, picked up clearly by a prejudicial audience. Be assured that we absolutely do understand what what Lias was saying to a crowd of Mesa County GOP faithful–not trying to say, broadcasting loud and clear–and it is not acceptable. Stapleton himself is such a poorly composed public speaker that he can’t be trusted to pull off this kind of delicate work, so it appears to have fallen to “moderate” Rep. Sias to lay down the “dog whistle” smear the base wants.

There’s going to be more of this, folks. The coded attacks on Polis’ personal life that are being mounted right now by Stapleton’s campaign–and you can’t deny it’s the campaign now–are as ugly as they are inevitable. The full display of that animus between now and November is going to compel Colorado voters to make a fundamental choice.

As for Lang Sias, perhaps we did expect a little better. Clearly we shouldn’t have.

Get More Smarter on Friday (August 10)

For many of you, this is the last weekend before the start of the new school year. Please act accordingly. 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.



Politico breaks down the numbers from Tuesday’s special congressional election in Ohio, and finds even badder news for Republicans this fall:

Deep suburban antipathy toward President Donald Trump has turned the old GOP electoral coalition inside-out in many areas in 2017 and 2018 — like Ohio’s 12th District, which for two decades sent former Rep. Pat Tiberi to Congress on the back of his popularity in the Columbus suburbs. His anointed successor, Republican Troy Balderson, took a different path to a small special-election lead, instead building on Trump’s rural strength while Democrat Danny O’Connor cut deeply into Tiberi’s old base.

In Columbus’ Franklin County, where Tiberi regularly received more than 55 percent support, O’Connor held Balderson to just one-third of the special election vote. In Delaware County — a wealthier, whiter bedroom community to the north — Balderson scraped together a majority where Tiberi used to win 70-plus percent. But the further Balderson got from the city, the better he performed compared to Tiberi’s baselines, taking up to 71 percent of the vote in further-flung counties.

It’s a shift that was underway before Trump arrived on the political scene — but the president accelerated it. In 2016, Tiberi and some other Republicans even combined their traditional suburban power with growing rural strength on Trump’s ticket. But that combination has proven unattainable in elections during the president’s tumultuous first term, and Republicans across the country will have to confront the full force of that change in the November elections.


► Fox News is all in on embracing white anxiety, as CNN reports:

It wasn’t so much a dog whistle as it was an airhorn. Or perhaps a primal scream. But whatever it was, Laura Ingraham’s forceful denunciation of “massive demographic changes” served as another raw example of a Fox News host echoing white nationalist language…

…The Fox News audience is almost 100% white, according to Nielsen. And on the channel’s highest-rated shows, the politics of white anxiety play out practically every day, as hosts and guests warn about the impacts of immigration and minimize or mock the perspectives of people of color. The talk show segments are clearly intended to appeal to people who perceive they are losing their grip on power.

In 2018, Tucker Carlson, at 8 p.m., and Ingraham, at 10 p.m., spend the most time on this subject. (The host in between, Sean Hannity, concentrates more on defending Trump.)

“The America we know and love doesn’t exist anymore,” Ingraham said Wednesday night. “Massive demographic changes have been foisted on the American people, and they are changes that none of us ever voted for, and most of us don’t like.”

In related news, former Congressman Tom Tancredo was his familiar racist self in a recent talk with the Jefferson County Republican Men’s Club. This is the same Tancredo who formally nominated Walker Stapleton for the Republican gubernatorial nomination last spring.


► In his never-ending quest to antagonize every other country on Earth, President Trump is now targeting Turkey with new tariffs (say that three times fast!) From the Washington Post:

President Trump said Friday that he told his administration to double steel and aluminum tariffs against Turkey, reflecting the rapidly deteriorating state of relations between the two countries.

The announcement would mark a major policy shift, but it was made in a Twitter post with little context. [Pols emphasis] Trump remarked that Turkey’s currency, the lira, was weakening against the U.S. dollar, a phenomenon that had made existing tariffs less effective.

Doubling the tariffs to 20 percent for aluminum and 50 percent for steel would magnify the impact of the trade restrictions.

Trump is mad at Turkey and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in part over the country’s refusal to release an American pastor charged with espionage.


Get even more smarter after the jump…


Stapleton Still Embracing Tancredo, Whose Jaw-Dropping Racism Hits Another Low

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Tom Tancredo is always comfortable in front of a microphone, even when his words are making his audience uncomfortable. That’s exactly what the most prominent Republican to endorse Walker Stapleton did July 30 at the Jefferson County Republican Men’s club, when he delivered racist comments about black student athletes at his alma mater, Northeastern Junior College.

Musing about the racial and religious quotas imposed on his college’s dormitories by the Klan-influenced local government, Tancredo, a former Congressman, wondered why the restrictions didn’t apply to the whole school rather than just the students at the residences:

Tancredo: “I always wondered, why just the dorms? If you’re gonna have a quota, why not on everything. I dunno, they needed black players, I guess, on the team.”

The anti-immigrant firebrand’s influence with the GOP base is exactly why Stapleton asked the conservative icon to introduce and nominate him at the Republican state assembly. That said, Tancredo’s remark about the Klan’s relaxed racial quota when it came to black athletes fell flat on the conservative audience, which appeared to be shocked by the comment.

Undeterred, he stuck with his racist theme by promoting “a great book,” Losing Ground by Charles Murray, which argues for abolishing welfare. The sociologist has also argued that African-Americans tend to be less intelligent than white Americans and that genetic differences between the races are partially responsible. Current Affairs magazine wrote an extensive profile of Murray’s racist writings in a feature piece, “Why Is Charles Murray Odious?” Tancredo acknowledged the author’s controversial status, noting, “Of course, everyone gets scared the minute you say his name.”  

Yet he proceeded to rattle off statistics from the book, showing a decline in numbers of traditional nuclear African-American families and an increase in “black-on-black murders” since the 1950s and ascribing that decline to “the war on poverty.” “[The government] started paying people not to have a male in the household.”

He went on to claim that African-Americans “used to have a higher commitment to Christianity than whites,” but “that’s all changed and it was because of the destruction of the family structure.”

In Tancredo’s other roles, including frontman for an anti-immigrant 501c4 nonprofit, occasional radio host, and social media personality, his continual race-baiting and sometimes flat-out racist statements fall on generally friendly ears.

Ever since Walker Stapleton used Tancredo’s name and brand to secure the Republican nomination however, pundits have noted that ultra-conservative firepower that proved so useful before the primary will likely become a liability in November.

Mike Littwin made this exact point in his July 25 column in the Colorado Independent, writing “Enter Tancredo, who was brought in to help Stapleton appeal to the assembly’s right-wing fringe. It worked then. But how about in November?”

Littwin’s argument matched that of pundit Eric Sondermann, who a month earlier on RMPBS Colorado Inside Out said,

“I think Walker Stapleton is making a number of strategic errors here… To have Tom Tancredo give his nominating speech at the convention in Boulder…you don’t think that one will come back to bite him come September, October, etc.? In tennis, it’s called ‘unforced errors.’”

In his speech nominating Walker Stapleton to Colorado Republicans at the state assembly in April, Tancredo gave two reasons for his presence.

First he said it was because “the day after the election, I want to see all those liberal looneys running with their heads in their hands, looking for a safe space because they can’t handle what just happened to them.”

He concluded by saying, “the only reason I am here and I am proud as I can be to do it, is to place into the nomination for the Republican governor of Colorado, Walker Stapleton.”

If Tancredo continues to make blatantly racist statements in public and the pundits are correct, then some people will indeed have their heads in their hands November 7, just not the ones Tancredo is thinking of.

Get More Smarter on Thursday (August 9)

Could Omarosa be Donald Trump’s downfall? If God has a sense of humor, it just might happen. 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.



► Republican Rep. Devin Nunes of California — the Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee — may have spoken a little too openly about the 2018 election in a speech to donors recently. From the Washington Post:

It was in private, at a closed-door fundraiser for a Republican colleague, that Nunes took the new step of tying the investigation to the midterm elections this fall. In comments captured in an audio recording aired Wednesday by “The Rachel Maddow Show,” Nunes laid out in stark terms the rationale for preserving the GOP majority in Congress.

“If Sessions won’t unrecuse and Mueller won’t clear the president, we’re the only ones, which is really the danger,” Nunes said at an event for Republican Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Washington, referring to Jeff Sessions, the attorney general, and Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel. Sessions said last year that he would keep his distance from inquiries related to the 2016 election, owing to his role in Trump’s campaign — a move that has frustrated the president, leading him to blame his own attorney general  for the “Russian Witch Hunt Hoax.”

“I mean, we have to keep all these seats,” Nunes added. “We have to keep the majority. If we do not keep the majority, all of this goes away.”

“All of this goes away” probably sounds pretty good to a lot of voters right now. “Must protect Trump?” Not so much.


► Vice President Mike Pence is at the Pentagon to talk up President Trump’s “Space Force” proposal. Pence says the United States could officially create a sixth branch of the military by 2020.


► We’ve talked before in this space about mystifying Republican efforts at making “California” a centerpiece of their narrative against Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jared Polis. Fox 31 Denver fact-checks the latest ad using this approach from from the Republican Governor’s Association. It doesn’t turn out well.


Get even more smarter after the jump…


Republican Guv’s Association: Slinging The BS Early, Often

FOX 31’s Joe St. George walks us through the latest ad from the Republican Governor’s Association targeting Democratic gubernatorial nominee Jared Polis in the now-familiar “hippie-punching” style we’ve side-eyed in this space before.

Under the fact-checking microscope, this ad is revealed to have some serious issues with every single one of its claims that viewers need to be aware of:

Exact quote in ad: “How Boulder is Jared Polis? – Polis is so Boulder he is skipping the Grand Junction debate the first candidate in decades to blow off the Western Slope”

St. George very generously scores this as the only “true” claim in the whole spot, though even that has a big disclaimer:

Polis will not “blow off” the Western Slope in his campaign. In fact he has agreed to a separate Grand Junction debates hosted by PBS, Colorado Mesa University and the Grand Junction Sentinel. [Pols emphasis]

Polis has also had a field office open for months in Grand Junction and tweeted out photos campaigning with his LG pick last month.

The truth here, as our readers have discussed in some depth, is that Polis will not be attending one particular debate in Grand Junction hosted by regional advocacy group Club 20. Opinions of that decision vary, but Polis will still be debating opponent Walker Stapleton in Grand Junction at the PBS/Mesa State debate. We’d say that makes the vague language in this ad false enough to call out as such, but at least St. George gives us the whole story.

As for the rest of this ad? St. George quickly dispatches with a claim we expect to hear a lot between now and the election, that Polis’ campaign pledge to move the state to renewable energy sources would “destroy energy jobs.” Reading the study cited in the ad, there’s a whole other side to the coin: the tens of thousands of new energy jobs that would be created by the switch to renewables. Much like the bogus assessment of a “Medicare for All” plan “costing trillions,” when it would in fact save trillions, dishonest actors intentionally leave out the critical second half of the equation.

It’s good to see mendacious ads getting scrutiny early in the campaign season. There will be many more.

More Carnage: Stapleton’s LG Timeline Blows Up in His Face

Pro tip: Don’t order your campaign plan from the Acme Corporation

A successful campaign is a lot like a popular Disney cartoon (but with fewer original songs): It tells a good story centered around a compelling protagonist, with a narrative that keeps even casual viewers engaged and invested in a favorable outcome for the main character. Usually there is even a moral lesson involved. You know these stories well – The Lion King, Beauty and the Beast, Frozen, Cars

To keep this analogy going, troubled campaigns tend to veer from a narrative arc and instead end up stitching together incongruent scenes that viewers largely forget the moment they change the channel. This is the same approach that begets Looney Tunes shorts with Wile E. Coyote or animated series like Tom & Jerry. There is no real storyline here; you’re basically just killing time until a piano falls onto somebody’s head.

As we’ve detailed in this space on more than one occasion, Republican gubernatorial candidate Walker Stapleton is running a statewide campaign based on a kit he purchased from the Acme Corporation. It’s hard to develop a positive narrative when your main character falls through an open manhole cover every few days.

Walker Stapleton

So it is that we get to the latest in a series of ridiculous blunders from Team Stapleton. It has been nearly a month since Stapleton’s campaign inexplicably screwed up the seemingly-simple task of choosing a Lieutenant Governor (LG) running mate, but this strange saga is nowhere near completion. Let us recap: In early July, Stapleton’s campaign tried to make it look like Democrat Jared Polis was rushing his announcement of Dianne Primavera as his choice for LG. At some point around this same time period, Team Stapleton realized that there was actually a legal requirement to select an LG within seven days of the June 26 Primary, which had them scrambling to pretend that they had already picked a running mate (after at least one rejection) but were waiting to announce the choice until later in the month. Local reporters quickly caught on to Stapleton’s latest blunder, and on July 11 the campaign rushed out an announcement that State Rep. Lang Sias had agreed to be Stapleton’s running mate (if you don’t think this move was rushed, just look at the sign on the podium at the press conference).

Former Ft. Collins City Council Member Gino Campana

Stapleton’s LG screwup was almost fading into yesterday’s news until a story on Sunday in the Ft. Collins Coloradoan, in which local developer Gino Campana blew up the Stapleton campaign’s LG explanation in a boastful interview about how he was very nearly Stapleton’s choice for a running mate:

Two days before state Treasurer Walker Stapleton announced Republican lawmaker Lang Sias was his pick in the race for governor, the team was still vetting Campana as a potential running mate. Campana said the media attention around Stapleton’s pick, announced July 11, helped move the campaign’s announcement up by a week or more. [Pols emphasis]

He said he and Stapleton “couldn’t get things to align between the two of us.”

[Insert sound of record scratching]

On July 3, we discussed in this space that Stapleton’s campaign looked to have broken the law by not selecting a running mate within seven days of the Primary Election. At 3:09 pm on July 3, Stapleton apparently sent an email to Sias (according to documents from the SOS), thanking him for accepting Stapleton’s offer to be his running mate. Sias submitted a notarized affidavit of acceptance to the SOS office that was dated July 11, the same day as the rushed press conference announcing Sias as Stapleton’s LG (Stapleton said during that press conference that Sias had agreed to be his running mate on July 2).

But according to the Coloradoan and Gino Campana, Stapleton’s campaign was still vetting Campana as a potential running mate as recently as July 9.

This entire fiasco is another mess for Stapleton, and it’s not over yet. Either Campana is lying or Team Stapleton is lying; they can’t both be telling the truth.

If Sias truly accepted Stapleton’s offer on July 2 (or July 3), then why would Stapleton’s campaign still be talking to Campana at all?

Was Stapleton not comfortable with Sias as his running mate? Did Sias know this?

Or did Sias not actually agree to Stapleton’s offer in early July, as Team Stapleton submitted to the SOS office on July 11?

Selecting a running mate is not rocket surgery, but somehow Stapleton’s campaign managed to turn a simple task into a month-long problem. This is Stapleton’s entire campaign in a nutshell, and it makes it easy for his opponents to paint him as a candidate who is not at all prepared for the job of running an entire state government.

Just like the Road Runner in Looney Tunes, it would seem that Polis needs only to keep his head down and keep running while Stapleton finds new ways to hurt himself.

Get More Smarter on Tuesday (August 7)

Today marks the approximate “midpoint” of summer, but don’t tell that to your kids as they prepare to head back to school. 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.



► National Security Adviser John Bolton says President Trump’s good buddy Kim Jong Un isn’t actually following up on any promises made during a summit meeting in June. From the Washington Post:

National security adviser John Bolton said Tuesday that North Korea has not made progress toward denuclearization in a dismal acknowledgment that comes nearly two months after President Trump held a historic summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Singapore.

“The United States has lived up to the Singapore declaration. It’s just North Korea that has not taken the steps we feel are necessary to denuclearize,” Bolton said in an interview on Fox News Channel on Tuesday morning…

…The Trump administration has consistently sought to reassure critics Kim will make good on his pledges to denuclearize. Last month, Trump tweeted he had “confidence that Kim Jong Un will honor the contract we signed &, even more importantly, our handshake” in Singapore.

“Well, that’s a surprise,” said absolutely nobody.


Colorado is joining 18 other states in suing the federal government over plans to permit the distribution of blueprints for untraceable 3D-printed firearms. Local libraries and school districts are taking their own precautions to prevent the printing of these weapons.


► It’s Primary Day in a bunch of states across the country, with most eyes on a special election for a Congressional seat in Ohio. Kansas, Michigan, Missouri, and Washington also hold Primary Elections today. The New York Times lays out what to watch for today, including this confusing Democratic Primary in Washington:

In the solidly Democratic Ninth District, Representative Adam Smith, a longtime congressman with a top position on the House Armed Services Committee, is facing a primary challenge from Sarah Smith, a democratic socialist. On the surface, this looks a lot like New York’s 14th District, where another democratic socialist, Ms. Ocasio-Cortez, beat Joseph Crowley, a longtime congressman with a powerful leadership position. Ms. Smith has encouraged the comparison, while Mr. Smith has emphasized the differences between the two races — including the fact that Ms. Ocasio-Cortez was born and raised in her district, while Ms. Smith lives just outside this one.

As the Washington Post reports, 2018 is a bad year for Republican Lieutenant Governors to be seeking higher office.


► Climate Change is very real, and we could be reaching a dangerous tipping point. From CNN:

Scientists are warning that a domino effect will kick in if global temperatures rise more than 2°C above pre-industrial levels, leading to “hothouse” conditions and higher sea levels, making some areas on Earth uninhabitable…

…Hotter temperatures could result in sea level rise up to 60 meters (197 ft) from today’s shorelines, swamping coastal populations and forcing communities inland. This summer dozens of people have died in wildfires and heat waves from the US to Asia, giving the world an insight into what could lie ahead.

The report says that if the “threshold” — a theoretical point-of-no-return — is crossed, this “would lead to a much higher global average temperature than any interglacial in the past 1.2 million years and to sea levels significantly higher than at any time in the Holocene,” referring to the geological age which began at the end of the last ice age, around 12,000 years ago.


Get even more smarter after the jump…


Jefferson County Republican Party refers to Jared Polis as a “Brown Shirt”

(Stay classy – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

UPDATE: Over the weekend, the Jefferson County Republican Party deleted the post, though officials still have yet to comment.

The Jefferson County Republican Party referred to Congressman Jared Polis as a “Brown Shirt” in an August 1 Facebook post. “Brown Shirt” is a nickname for a member of the Sturmabteilung, Hitler’s Nazi militia which beat and murdered those who opposed his rise to power. Polis, who is Jewish, is Colorado’s Democratic nominee for Governor.

The post shared an article about Rep. Polis’ (D – Boulder) personal wealth and featured a picture of him wearing a suit with a brown dress shirt. Above the image the party wrote:

Jared Polis has a new club “How to Be A Brown Shirt for Fun & Profit”

Nazi references have become a recent habit of Jefferson County Republicans. County Party Chair Joe Webb linked “Brown Shirts” to another Democratic member of Congress two weeks ago, posting:

“Things work out for the best when we disagree with each other respectfully. The Nazis example should teach Dems like Maxine Waters one thing. Today’s button pushers can become tomorrow’s targets. The Brown Shirts (SA) harassed others until Hitler did away with them in the Night of the Long Knives. When one group is unsafe then no one is safe. We should not tolerate this sort of behavior in America.”

Webb was criticizing Rep. Waters’ urging of supporters to confront Trump administration officials they encounter in public places. It’s unclear why he refers to the murderous Brown shirts as “button-pushers,” but he clearly understands that they were Nazi soldiers. Such a comparison would seem to undermine his plea for respectful discourse, which he has made repeatedly, even specifically mentioning the Governor’s race. On June 29 Webb posted:

Votes matter. The cause to prevent Jared Polis from becoming Governor is not served by crawling into the gutter with the worst most juvenile put downs. More people will be attracted to the cause by well thought out and reasoned arguments made with only good humor. Classy is clean, common sense but most importantly effective. It is the only way this race will be won. Think about it.

Former JeffCo Rep. Tim Leonard also used the term. Before he resigned last week — for reasons related to his court-ordered child support obligations — he equated the women who marched in protest of Pres. Trump’s policies to”Hitler’s brownshirts.”

Chairman Webb did not respond to an email request for comment.

Ruh-Roh: Walker Stapleton Fundraising Stalling Out

Perpetually perplexed

Republican gubernatorial candidate Walker Stapleton has been running into one problem after another since winning the June 26 Republican Primary, and now he’s going to have to figure out a way to explain some pretty terrible fundraising numbers.

Democrat Jared Polis reported raising $1,632,021 in the last month, leaving his campaign with $1,268,081 cash on hand. Most of this money comes from Polis’ own bank account — he has now contributed about $12.9 million of his own money to his campaign. Polis appears to be plenty comfortable spending millions more in order to win in November, which puts a lot of pressure on Stapleton to keep up (before you shed a tear for Stapleton, remember that he is independently wealthy in his own right and has a massive fundraising base thanks to his Bush family ties).

Stapleton’s fundraising has been pretty weak since capturing the GOP nomination in June. Stapleton raised just $255,042 in the last month — $80,000 of which came from the Colorado Republican Party — leaving his campaign with $301,811 cash on hand. These numbers are similar to those posted by Republican gubernatorial candidate Bob Beauprez in July 2014* ($261,006 raised, $235,413 cash on hand) when Beauprez was challenging incumbent Governor John Hickenlooper. It’s a lot easier to raise money for an open seat, but Stapleton’s numbers haven’t borne that out. *Note: We’re not comparing fundraising numbers from 2010 and earlier, when Colorado still held its Primary Election in August.

Stapleton is getting some financial support from the Republican Governor’s Association (RGA), which has contributed more than $1 million to a SuperPAC created to boost his chances in November. Stapleton will also benefit from spending by Better Colorado Now, a SuperPAC essentially created in order to support Stapleton, though the committee only had about $18,000 in the bank according to its latest report.

Stapleton was always the General Election opponent that Democrats were hoping to face, and his bumbling performance in the last few months has only strengthened that belief. In the weeks following the June 26 Primary, Stapleton botched an announcement about his choice for Lieutenant Governor; was forced to correct embarrassing errors on his personal financial disclosures; invited President Trump to campaign with him in Colorado; faced serious concerns about his performance as State Treasurer (concerns that were exacerbated by his own boneheaded responses); and has continued to deal with stories about ancestral ties to the Ku Klux Klan. Oh, and don’t forget weird stories about accusing former nannies of stealing underwear and sippy cups.

If not for the possibility of more outside spending help, Stapleton would be in big trouble heading into the final months of the campaign. Stapleton’s weak fundraising means that he’ll be forced to rely on outside help — particularly from the RGA — if he hopes to win in November. If polling numbers don’t improve for Stapleton in the next 6 weeks, the RGA will likely start to pull back in Colorado and look to maximize its investments in other states.

If and when that happens, Stapleton will be a dead man walking.