Liars vs. Nerds: So Much For Proposition CC

Sandra Fish at the Colorado Sun reports:

The only-in-the-nation fiscal handcuffs on Colorado’s budget will remain in place after voters Tuesday rejected a move by Democrats to repeal the spending limits in the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights.

Preliminary election returns showed Proposition CC losing by a solid margin, trailing 56% to 44% with an estimated three-quarters of the vote counted.

If the numbers hold, it would amount to a resounding victory for fiscal conservatives and national organizations that spent big money to keep TABOR intact and push back against Gov. Jared Polis and the Democratic agenda.

There’s little question that the double-digit defeat of Proposition CC was a victory for Republicans, but we’ll stop short of calling it a “resounding” victory because the math doesn’t support the superlative. Compared to previous off-year revenue questions, 2013’s Amendment 66 and 2011’s Proposition 103, Proposition CC actually did quite a bit better–Amendment 66 only garnered 35.54%, and Prop 103 36.3%. Everything short of a win is of course a loss, and we’re not trying to sugar coat this undeniable defeat, but comparing the outcome of Proposition CC to these previous measures shouldn’t leave proponents entirely hopeless.

It is clear, however, that TABOR reform proponents need to recalibrate their game for future elections–and be ready for misinformation that might seem outlandish at first but in the end was persuasive with low-information voters. Prop CC’s opponents deliberately sought to mislead voters about what kinds of “tax refunds” would be affected by the measure. Numerous ads against Proposition CC warned that voters would “sign away their tax refunds” with no distinction between TABOR rebates, which are infrequent and based on the total state revenue exceeding TABOR’s revenue growth cap, and the vastly more common income tax overpayment refunds that most voters are familiar with.

On the other side, the thinktank-driven campaign to pass Proposition CC was overrun by an opposition campaign relying on a single-sentence falsehood to induce “no” votes. It’s not our purpose here today to beat up Prop CC’s proponents, since in historical context they didn’t do that badly. But the Yes on CC’s reliance on dense technical bullet points to sell the Proposition to voters was ineffective against an easy-to-comprehend false argument from opponents. It may also be found in the post-mortem that leading off the ballot language with the words “without raising taxes” was a strategic mistake as well, even though it’s a perfectly defensible statement since tax rates under the measure would not have increased. In the back-and-forth of accusations between the sides, though, opponents were able to successfully cast this as deceptive and rebut the charge that they themselves were misleading voters far more egregiously.

In the 2018 elections, a tax increase measure for roads, Proposition 110, failed with only 40% of the vote–in the same election that Colorado Democrats triumphed at every level with the biggest electoral gains since Franklin Delano Roosevelt. The one thing we can say confidently today is that Republican candidates have an established record of being totally unable to capitalize on TABOR ballot measure wins. Understanding this sometimes-confusing dynamic in Colorado politics takes more than any one election, but yesterday’s outcome didn’t change it.

Colorado voters want what Democrats have to offer. They just don’t want to pay for it.

And that is where the next debate over TABOR will begin.

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Colorado GOP Runs From Recalls They Once Hyped

Colorado GOP chairman Rep. Ken Buck (R-Greeley).

A week after the spectacular failure of the last of the recall campaigns from Colorado Republicans, launched against several individual Democratic legislators and Gov. Jared Polis over the summer, the Denver Post’s Alex Burness circled back with Republican leaders for a post-mortem look at what went wrong–Republicans who were willing to return his calls, that is, because evidently many were not.

It’s not easy to capture to full magnitude of the failure for Colorado Republicans without resorting to language that seems hyperbolic, but objectively is not an exaggeration of any kind. After the 2018 elections resulted in an historic bloodbath for the Colorado GOP–destroying their gubernatorial candidate, wiping out the GOP’s hold on the attorney general, secretary of state, and treasurer’s office ,and losing their only remaining legislative majority–Republicans in this state faced a hard choice: to learn the lessons dwindling moderates in their midst were begging them to learn and fundamentally change course, or embrace a future where all the elections look like 2018.

As we now know, Colorado Republicans chose the latter.

Sen. Cory Gardner (R).

This infamous clip of now-state GOP chairman Rep. Ken Buck promising to make Democrats “learn how to spell R-E-C-A-L-L,” cheered on by the state’s highest ranking Republican Sen. Cory Gardner, has become a major embarrassment for the party leadership now that the recalls have failed. The recalls did not fail narrowly, but failed calamitously with juicy attendant details like the conservative operative class in the state glomming on to the cash flow and “gifts” of thousands of dollars to individuals after the campaign had already failed. Any way you look at what happened–from building donor confidence to mobilizing the base to credibility with the media–this summer was another unprecedented disaster for Colorado Republicans on par with their electoral defeats last November.

So we can’t claim to be surprised to see, as the Post’s Alex Burness reports today, Colorado Republicans making absurd excuses to deflect responsibility. Defeat, as they say, is an orphan:

U.S. Rep. Ken Buck, the Colorado GOP chair, told The Denver Post on Friday that the recall failures don’t fall on him in any way. [Pols emphasis]

“I didn’t cast any net,” he said. “There’s a lot of people in the grassroots … who went after legislators. I didn’t direct any recall effort.”

When he was elected to lead the state party on the fourth ballot in March, Buck promised to teach Democrats “how to spell R-E-C-A-L-L.” Now, though, he claims he did not endorse the concept of mass recalls in Colorado.

House Minority Leader Patrick Neville (R-Castle Rock).

Buck’s cowardly denial of any responsibility for recalls he ran for the chair of the state party promising to support is an indicator of just how thoroughly weak and disorganized Republicans are as the last days of October 2019 come to a close. Practically from the moment Democrats visited historic destruction on Republicans in last November’s elections, Republicans had threatened retaliation via recalls. House Minority Leader Patrick Neville openly threatened his Democratic colleagues with recalls during this year’s legislative session. Republican operatives criss-crossed the state spreading the gospel of recalls as a way to “reweight the electorate,” and score victories that are now out of reach in general elections.

History will likely record that the attempted recall of Rep. Tom Sullivan, a freshman Democrat whose advocacy for gun safety is rooted in his son’s tragic murder in the July 2012 Aurora theater shooting, is the moment where the GOP’s recall strategy went off the rails for good. Ironically, this is the recall attempt that Colorado Republicans are most obliged to take ownership of, since it was initiated by Colorado Republican Party vice-chair Kristi Burton Brown personally. Attempts to recast Brown’s action as “personal” after the Sullivan recall was clearly doing more harm than good simply have no credibility.

Cole Wist, a Republican who lost his house seat to Sullivan in 2018 — and who publicly bashed the Sullivan recall effort — said there is an important distinction to be made between staying out of recalls and actively condemning them.

“I didn’t see one elected Republican speak out against it,” he said. “The state party needs to own this failure. [Pols emphasis] They stirred the pot, and when they could see that the strategy wasn’t going to work, they didn’t speak up. They retreated and disappeared while rank-and-file members of the party floundered and were exploited by political consultants.”

When exactly high-ranking Republicans belatedly realized that the recalls were going to fail is irrelevant. The fact is that top Republicans kept up appearances of support for the recalls very late in the game, such as when Sen. Cory Gardner told recall organizers in Pueblo at the end of August that “I’ve never said I was against recalls” about sixty seconds after telling Senate President Leroy Garcia “I’m kind of sorry that this is happening.” For rank-and-file Republicans, any emotional (not to mention financial) investment made in these recalls has been a tremendously demoralizing experience.

And above all, while Democrats have been organizing like it’s an election year to oppose the recalls, the GOP spun its wheels throughout this whole critical off-year when they should have been preparing for the 2020 general election. When all is said and done this could be the most damning of the many indictments against Rep. Ken Buck’s absentee leadership of the party while still trying to serve in Congress, and with the greatest long-term impact. Here we are a year after the 2018 Democratic wave, and Colorado Republicans have totally squandered the backlash they hoped to foment as Democrats carried out the agenda they promised voters. There are many mistakes to point out, but there are no excuses. This was the strategy Republicans chose.

Cory Gardner, Ken Buck, House Minority Leader Pat Neville, the Colorado GOP as an organization.

For Colorado Republicans who really want this nightmare to end, the housecleaning starts there.

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Garcia, Magnanimous In Victory, Accepts Post’s Mea Culpa

Senate President Leroy Garcia (D).

Colorado Public Radio’s Taylor Allen reports from yesterday’s well-deserved “victory lap” press conference by Senate President Leroy Garcia, after the recall campaign against him collapsed in a heap at the end of last week:

Colorado Senate President Leroy Garcia on Thursday said he’s looking forward to the new legislative session — especially after surviving a recall effort to oust him…

Garcia was one of the six legislators who was the target of ousters during what he calls “the summer of recalls.”

“[It] spotlighted Colorado in a way that we wanted to be spotlighted in,” Garcia said. “And it’s sad to say that some Republicans took Colorado to a new low.”

“Quasi-newsman” Joey Bunch of the Colorado Springs Gazette does what he can to lessen the blow for the GOP:

“It’s no secret Republicans struggled with the new majority, and quite frankly, I would argue, with the reality,” Garcia said. “Some reverted to political shenanigans, in addition to endless temper tantrums.”

He called the recalls a tactic that was better left to Washington politics. Garcia didn’t say it, but the notable difference is that in Washington, it’s Democrats trying to oust Republican President Donald Trump via impeachment.

It’s difficult to see how impeachment “whataboutism” helps Republicans look any better after the once-balleyhooed “summer of recalls”–especially since a majority of Coloradans support impeachment proceedings against President Donald Trump in the most recent poll, and unlike the recalls Trump is increasingly likely to actually be impeached. Beyond that, the moral difference between the failed Colorado recall attempts based on wild misinformation and Trump’s impeachment over serious abuses of foreign policy for political gain are fundamental enough to make the comparison absurd.

On the other hand, the Denver Post took a very different approach to the end of “recall season”–apologizing for their role in hyping what turned out to be a toothless threat from the Garcia recall organizers. Here’s reporter Alex Burness and politics editor Cindi Andrews commendably leveling with Post readers:

Reporters hate being lied to. But it does happen — pretty often, actually — and we are constantly sharing newsworthy statements we have no way to verify. We make sure to attribute these statements to the speakers, so they are not confused for verified facts…

With the previous recall efforts, organizers dropped their efforts when it was evident they wouldn’t have enough signatures — they didn’t go to the trouble of delivering near-empty boxes. We work very hard to avoid being conduits for false information, knowing we can’t always control that.

But we can reflect. And, as the grifters found out, lying to honest reporters doesn’t pay. They’ve permanently damaged their credibility, and their Budweiser-box display in Denver may have done long-term damage to their movement back home. The chair of the Pueblo County GOP told me Wednesday she wishes the organizers had just stayed home. [Pols emphasis]

Looking back not just at the failed Garcia recall but at every one of the attempts launched by Republicans to exact opportunistic revenge for 2018’s devastating losses, it’s clear that the credibility damage from these months of wasted time and money should extend well beyond the two amateur sideshow freaks who delivered the Garcia recall campaign’s four signatures. The Colorado Republican Party’s entire leadership elected this year cheered on and even helped organize the most optically disastrous of the recalls. House Minority Leader Patrick Neville raised money for his family political operation on the pretense of recalling his Democratic colleagues.

Leroy Garcia may be taking the high road, but Republicans still have much to answer for.

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Colo GOP Leaders Hosting Vaccine Summit at Capitol With National Anti-Vaxx Group

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Two Colorado Republican legislative leaders are hosting an all-day “Vaccine & Health Summit” at the state capitol on Monday, Oct. 28. The event features representatives from the National Vaccine Information Center (NVIC), which says it’s “dedicated to preventing vaccine injuries and death,” and has been described as “the most powerful anti-vaccine organization in America.” NVIC promotes the debunked claim that vaccines cause autism.

Monday’s summit is the third and final “Vaccines & Health Choice” event hosted at the state capitol by Saine and Marble. The last one, on Sept. 20, featured an anti-vaccine doctor from Colorado Springs. He suggested that families could send samples of their children’s blood to schools to prove their “natural immunity” in place of required vaccinations. That event also included NVIC Executive Director Theresa Wrangham of Boulder, who will also participate in Monday’s panel.

NVIC has received criticism for spreading dangerous misinformation about vaccines, including via a billboard in New York City’s Times Square. NVIC has also continued to push a discredited academic research paper that has since been determined to be fraudulent.

(more…)

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No Surprise: Fighting Proposition CC By Lying To You


Here’s a mail piece that arrived over the weekend urging a “no” vote on Proposition CC, the statewide measure to allow the state to retain taxes collected in excess of the 1992 Taxpayer Bill of Rights’ (TABOR) arbitrary limit on revenue growth–a provision that has made it counterintuitively more difficult for the state to provide for basic needs even in economic boom times.

Proposition CC, as we believe most of our readers know, pertains specifically to excess revenue collected over TABOR’s revenue growth limit. We are not talking about the income tax refunds that many Coloradans receive every year, and rely on through tax credits and the annual lump sum for essential income. The last time revenue growth was high enough to trigger TABOR refunds was 2015, and the average “payout” ranged from $13 to $41. This distinction is crucial for voters to understand, since Colorado is the only state with a law like TABOR that mandates such refunds, and most people don’t know enough about TABOR to avoid conflating TABOR refunds with the vastly larger annual income tax refunds of withholding overpayments to the federal and state government.

Unfortunately as you can see, conflating TABOR refunds with income tax refunds is exactly what Proposition CC’s opponents are doing to mislead voters–and this mailer is not an isolated incident. Yes, the mailer does use the words “TABOR tax refunds” on one line, but the very next line says Proposition CC is about “taking away your tax refund money” with no distinction between TABOR refunds and income tax refunds. Again, a large percentage of Colorado voters do not understand how TABOR refunds differ from the income tax refunds they depend on annually–but it’s a foregone conclusion that anyone who is honestly convinced Proposition CC will “take away your tax refund money” will vote against Proposition CC, since that would be an unprecedented seizure of both state and federal tax revenue by a state government.

It would also be illegal, and insane. But that doesn’t matter when you don’t have the facts.

In the end, we believe that this fundamentally misleading argument being successfully planted in the minds of low-information voters could result in large numbers of misguided “no” votes on Proposition CC. Factual or not, it is a very real threat, and it’s clear Proposition CC’s opponents intend to exploit this gap in voter knowledge to win. As we’ve observed countless times in Colorado politics, proving the old adage, “a lie travels halfway around the world while the truth is still getting its pants on.” Recent Colorado elections have been packed full of lies seeking to outrun the fact-checkers, from the racist “China Girl” attacks on Sen. Rachel Zenzinger’s to downright slanderous smears against Gov. Jared Polis on the campaign trail last year.

Those lies failed. But if Prop CC supporters don’t refute this lie just as vigorously, it’s going to hurt them.

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AG Weiser: Sheriffs Will Enforce “Red Flag” Or Let People Die


Attorney General Phil Weiser (D).

Colorado Public Radio’s Allison Sherry:

State Attorney General Phil Weiser told gun control advocates Tuesday that despite some sheriffs threatening not to enforce the state’s new “red flag” law, he believes they will rethink that decision when faced with the realities of an armed and potentially dangerous person.

“It won’t be an abstraction,” Weiser said, during a panel of lawmakers hosted by Colorado Ceasefire and Colorado Faith Communities United to End Gun Violence. “It’s ‘my daughter Susie is thinking about taking her life, and she has procured weapons, can we do something my sheriff?’ And at that point, it’s not rhetoric, it’s human life.”

…Some sheriffs have said they will not enforce it and a number of county commissions have passed resolutions to prevent local law enforcement from carrying out ERPOs.

“Almost all those ordinances say the following, ‘we don’t want our sheriff in our county to implement an unconstitutional gun law’ to which I have always said in those counties, ‘I don’t either,’” Weiser said. “And the extreme risk protection law is constitutional and will be upheld.”

It’s a point we’ve made previously about the state’s extreme risk protection order (ERPO) law, even as county sheriffs in many cases hand-picked by the hard-right Rocky Mountain Gun Owners (RMGO) defiantly promise to never enforce the new law within their jurisdictions. What is going to happen when the first family member of a suicidal person seeks help from their county sheriff under the ERPO law and is rebuffed because the sheriff refuses to enforce the law?

No one would ever wish for a tragedy take place in order to prove a political point, but once there are demonstrable cases of lives being lost due to a sheriff’s refusal to enforce state law, something akin to legal hell is going to break loose. A sheriff who has arbitrarily decided not to enforce this law, with the result of a person who could have been saved dying, must reckon with the legal and moral aftermath of that decision–and it won’t be nearly as easy to bluster on about the Second Amendment to the families of the dead.

This is part of the reason why, even though he staunchly opposed the new “red flag” law in Colorado, El Paso County Sheriff Bill Elder condemned the idea that “a Sheriff, a Chief of Police, a Mayor, or ANY elected person [can] decide if a law is ‘constitutional’ or not.”

For his part, AG Weiser yesterday threatened county sheriffs who refuse to enforce a lawful ERPO from a judge with contempt of court proceedings, and vowed to defend judges against sheriff’s appeals. Beyond that, if it can be proven that a sheriff was “willful and wanton” in their refusal to enforce the law, demonstrating a “conscious disregard for the safety of others,” they could face personal liability for the outcome despite the state’s public employee immunity law.

For now, it’s a hypothetical discussion.

Very soon, unfortunately, it will not be hypothetical. And the wild rhetoric against this law will not age well.

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Ben Engen Cashes In On Moribund Garcia Recall


GOP operative Ben Engen.

As readers know, all of the recall attempts initiated by Colorado Republicans in retaliation for last year’s landslide victories for Democrats in this state have fizzled except one: the recall petition due later this month against Senate President Leroy Garcia of Pueblo, the immediate successor to ex-Sen. Angela Giron who was successfully recalled in the fall of 2013.

By all accounts, that ain’t happening again in 2019. Everything we’ve heard from Pueblo is that the signature drive against Garcia has flatlined much like the failed campaigns against Sens. Brittany Pettersen and Pete Lee, Gov. Jared Polis, and the particularly ill-fated recall attempt against freshman Rep. Tom Sullivan–whose advocacy for gun safety legislation after his son was killed in the Aurora shooting made him an audacious but in the end self-injurious target for Colorado Republicans.

But as we learned with the failed but financially lucrative Recall Polis drive, success isn’t the only objective! Not when there’s cold hard cash to be made along the way by all those friendly and super “helpful” for-profit political consultants–consultants who get paid win or lose. And sure enough, in the Committee to Recall Leroy Garcia’s latest fundraising report, you’ll find big line-items for consultants:

Recall Garcia started the reporting period with $2,378 on hand, and reported $4,429 raised, $4,844 spent, with $1,962 cash remaining on hand. Given the pitiful amount of money we’re talking about here, it’s fascinating to see that the biggest expenditure, over $1,700, is for “fundraising consultants!” That suggests to us that the return on investment was…rather poor.

But at least as interesting to us is the $1,200 paid to Ben Engen of Constellation Political Strategies, the young Republican operative who became infamous as the “Johnny Appleseed of recalls” after a video surfaced of Engen very frankly admitting to a GOP audience that recalls were about a “re-weighting of the electorate”–giving Republicans the chance to sneak otherwise unobtainable wins via a recall “that just comes out of nowhere and blindsides” Democrats.

In the end, it’s Republicans who got burned by “recall season.” But for the for-profit side of Republican politics, the checks still cashed. And that’s all that matters.

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SB-181 Madness: Apology Time Yet?


As Colorado Public Radio’s Ben Markus reports:

Six months after shouting that new legislative drilling regulations were an existential threat to their industry in Colorado, the state’s oil and gas producers are now whispering a different message to Wall Street:

No big deal.

The law was billed by both supporters and opponents as a sea change in how the industry is policed, giving local governments and state agencies greater authority to decide where and how drilling can occur. But in filings with the federal Security and Exchange Commission, some of Colorado’s largest drillers now express confidence that they can easily navigate the regulations spinning out of Senate Bill 19-181.

“We do not foresee significant changes to our development plans, as we have all necessary approvals of more than 550 permits to drill wells over the next several years,” Noble Energy representatives wrote to investors.

During the long debate in the Colorado General Assembly this year over Senate Bill 19-181, the landmark reform bill changing the relationship between state oil and gas regulators in the industry from “promotion” of more drilling to the protection of public health and safety first and foremost, the oil and gas industry’s PR armies warned of historic doom and gloom for Colorado’s economy. It would be nearly impossible, and we surely don’t have time to do it ourselves, to list out every time a Republican lawmaker or oil and gas industry press flack claimed with absolutely zero factual basis that SB-181 would “shut down oil and gas production in Colorado.”

The gospel-truth assumption that SB-181 was intended to and would speedily bring about the shutdown of oil and gas drilling in Colorado helped fuel the wave of irrational anger that Republicans deliberately sought to inflame during and after the 2019 legislative session, for the purpose of justifying recall attempts against opportune state legislative targets as well as Gov. Jared Polis. In Greeley, a town heavily dominated by oil and gas-friendly politics and politicians, the supposed threat of SB-181 ripping the local oil and gas industry apart provided cover to the attempt to recall now ex-Rep. Rochelle Galindo via a far nastier anti-LGBT “whisper campaign.”

But then a funny thing happened. Word started to leak out that despite all the weeping and gnashing of teeth over SB-181’s impending destruction, SB-181 wasn’t going to destroy the oil and gas industry at all. Energy producers started quietly telling their investors that they had all the permits they need for years of unhindered operations and were prepared to work with the new law’s additional protections. The gap between dire forecast and reality with regard to SB-181 isn’t the only reason the “summer of recalls” have sputtered out one after another in recent weeks, but it’s just not possible to maintain the level of public backlash required to pull off a recall without something to substantiate the allegations.

So the next time–and you can be assured there will be a next time–somebody tells you SB-181 is destroying/has destroyed past-tense the oil and gas industry in Colorado, here’s your rejoinder! And if you really want to irritate your conservative friends, follow that up with a brief lesson on the global energy economy, which as you and Gov. Polis already know dictates the fate of Colorado’s oil and gas industry far more than SB-181 ever could.

And yes, hopefully next time…nobody believes the hype to begin with.

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Lawmakers Saine & Marble Host Summit in Support of Vaccine Exemptions

(In Colorado, “anti-vaxxer” is spelled G-O-P – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Last Wednesday morning, Rep. Lori Saine (R-Firestone) and Sen. Vicki Marble (R-Greeley) hosted the second public “Vaccine and Health Choice Summit” at the Colorado State Capitol.  

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Screen-Shot-2019-09-12-at-9.05.18-AM.png

The summit featured two head speakers: Cynthia Nevison, Ph.D. in Atmospheric Science, and Dr. John Kucera, M.D.  

The meeting also featured panelists, including Rep. Rod Pelton (R-Cheyenne Wells) and Theresa Wrangham, executive director of the National Vaccine Information Center, a non-profit “dedicated to preventing vaccine injuries and death,” who followed up the presentations with their own questions and comments.

The event circled primarily around the issue of exemption law. Colorado lawmakers tried to introduce a bill in April 2019 that would require parents to acquire an in-person signature from a health department in order for an exemption due to religious or personal beliefs, with pushback from those who oppose vaccines. The bill “died” in legislature before it could pass last session.

Nevison’s presentation focused on data and statistics intended to support why “changing vaccine exemption laws in Colorado won’t improve children’s health.”

Nevison made several false claims during her presentation, including that measles vaccination lowers herd immunity, which can only be achieved through natural immunity; that “the four ‘As'” (autism, asthma, food allergies, and ADHD) have risen in direct correlation with, and possibly due to, vaccines; and that boys have no need for HPV vaccinations because they cannot get cervical cancer.

In fact, in order for significant herd immunity to occur, a large portion of the population must be vaccinated in order to prevent the spread of the disease. Likewise, there is little evidence of a causal relationship between vaccines and major chronic health issues, especially autism; various studies have even expressly rejected a causal relationship. Additionally, HPV vaccinations are necessary for both males and females because males are still carriers of HPV (an STD), and they can still get genital warts and several other types of cancer from the disease.

(more…)

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The Real Reason Republicans Love the Electoral College


Colorado voters will get to decide in 2020 whether or not to remain part of a compact of other states that awards the Presidency of the United States to the winner of the national popular vote. Or, as the Colorado Independent deftly explained, “Colorado will decide by popular vote whether it supports electing presidents by popular vote.”

Proponents of a national popular vote (NPV) believe the current winner-take-all Electoral College system essentially disregards votes for the losing candidate in a Presidential election. Recent history supports this argument. Of the five different elections in which the Presidential candidate who received the most votes was not awarded the keys to the White House, two of them happened in the last twenty years.

“The Electoral College has, at various times, given an advantage to Democrats, Republicans, and the now-defunct Whig Party. Now it gives a clear advantage to Republicans.”

— Vox.com (9/17/19)

Opponents of a national popular vote — including Sen. Cory Gardner, who donated $50,000 to the campaign seeking to repeal the NPV proposal– publicly argue that dismissing the Electoral College would disregard rural voters (nevermind that this is already happening) and would diminish the power of less-populated plots of land (which we call “states”) in determining the most powerful elected position in the country.

Privately, however, Republicans cling to the Electoral College for a much more simplistic reason: Because right now it benefits them bigly.

According to a new study from the National Bureau of Economic Research, the setup of the Electoral College significantly increases the odds of an “inversion,” in which one Presidential candidate wins the popular vote but a different candidate wins the office itself. Given the current population makeup of the United States, this is a sizable advantage for a Republican Presidential candidate.

As Vox.com explains:

In modern elections where one party prevails by just 2 points in the two-party popular vote, “inversions are expected in more than 30% of elections.” That number rises to 40 percent in elections with a 1 percentage-point margin.

Republicans, moreover, are far more likely to benefit from an inversion than Democrats. “In the modern period,” the study suggests, “Republicans should be expected to win 65% of Presidential contests in which they narrowly lose the popular vote.”…

…The Electoral College skews elections by giving a structural advantage to small states. Each state receives a number of electoral votes equal to the number of United States House of Representatives members from that state, plus two. These two additional votes effectively triple the voting power of the smallest states, while having only a negligible impact on the voting power of large states.

Republicans today tend to be clustered together in smaller states, so it is to their great advantage to allow boundaries of land – dirt, basically — to determine winners instead of an overall popular vote.

 

(more…)

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Reporter Should be “Sent Packing” To Venezuela, Says Conservative Operative & GOP Matriarch Barb Neville

(The Nevilles are very fine people – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Angered by a news story about her son, prominent conservative activist Barb Neville launched a one-women social media assault on Colorado Politics reporter Marianne Goodland.

Barb Neville

Neville, mother of House Republican Leader Patrick Neville (R-Castle Rock) and wife of former State Senator Tim Neville of Littleton, shared Goodland’s article about Patrick Neville directing financial support to the Recall Polis effort, along with the following commentary to her Facebook page on Sept. 7:

“Why is this even news??? This reporter will report anything to give the appearance that Republicans are evil. I’ll bet if this were a demonrat she would be holding them out as heroes. Republicans and unaffiliates that support our country and constitution should be proud that we have leaders who are principled enough to stand and fight for it. MG and her socialist pervert democrat cronies are the ones who are evil. Tell the Gazette to send her packing to a country like Cuba or Venezuela where they will be more amicable to her Commie leanings. I am sick of these commie women haters I’ma a different kinda .#MeToo

Neville also shared the post with numerous Republican and conservative Facebook pages and groups, including GOP pages for Denver, Arapahoe, Pueblo, Weld, Jefferson, Elbert and Fremont counties. Other groups include the National Asian Indian Republican Association, GetErDoneRightColorado, Arapahoe Tea Party, and OGRE Exposed.

Asked by a commenter on her post if any part of Goodland’s article was false, Neville didn’t dispute any of its accuracy. Instead, she complained that the decision to report the story itself was showing Republicans in a negative light.

Colorado Press Association CEO Jill Farschman expressed concern over Neville’s post:

“While sharing opinions is certainly a First Amendment right, attacks on journalism as a profession undermine our free press which is the only profession enshrined in our nation’s Constitution due to its criticality to a functioning democracy. In this instance, the accuracy of the journalist’s work isn’t being questioned and suggesting she should be sent to other countries openly hostile to free press is extremely offensive. Such personal threats debase our political discourse and put the safety of journalists at risk.”

Barb Neville isn’t just related to politicians. She’s a former candidate-turned-operative herself. She briefly ran for state Senate in 2006, and later ran her sister-in-law Julie Williams’ successful 2013 campaign for Jefferson County School Board. The Denver Post’s profile of the Neville family that year described them as a “political dynasty.”

Reached by email for a response to Neville’s insults and calls for Goodland’s banishment, Mark Harden, managing editor of Colorado Politics, stated:

“Marianne Goodland is an outstanding reporter on state politics whose work is widely respected by Republicans, Democrats and independents alike. We stand by her reporting.”

Barb Neville did not return a Facebook message requesting comment.

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“Dismiss Polis” Turns To Next Existential Threat: Vaccines!


The social media groups for the now-defeated recall attempt against Gov. Jared Polis have been fairly quiet in the week since the effort met its ignominious end–which makes sense since when one suffers a humiliating defeat that should rightly make one question the last six months of their lives’ work at least, if not much larger and more basic questions about their worldview, it’s probably a good idea to look at the floor and think about things for awhile quietly.

But of course the world is never rid of bogeymen, especially when you see them everywhere–and in the “Dismiss Polis” Facebook group, they’ve already moved on to the next crisis:

Back in June, Gov. Polis announced an executive order aiming to improve the state of Colorado’s last-in-the-nation ranking for kindergarten immunizations, with a number of limited steps directing the state Department of Public Health and Environment to look at the problem and standardize the process for requesting exemptions under the law. This order came after Polis controversially opposed a substantially stronger bill from Rep. Kyle Mullica (D) to require vaccine exemption requests to be filed in person. We haven’t seen it confirmed, but it’s reasonable to speculate that this position posting is either related to that executive order or is simply an existing position at CDPHE being turned over.

Either way, Gov. Polis is in no way part of any kind of “crackdown” on child immunizations–to the extent that he took a lot of criticism in the last session for opposing Rep. Mullica’s legislation. How do you get from that reality to sounding the alarm on the Polis recall internets over “immunization compliance inspectors?”

It’s easy if you’re already unhinged.

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House Minority Leader Attacks Fellow Republicans Over Fundraising Groups

(This is going swimmingly — Promoted by Colorado Pols)

House Minority Leader Patrick Neville took to the airwaves to attack his Republican colleagues last week. He dismissed the fundraising efforts of his former state Reps. Dan Thurlow and Polly Lawerence, calling them “the JV squad.”

The pair of former legislators, considered “establishment” Republicans compared to the far-right Minority Leader, launched an independent expenditure committee to support GOP legislative candidates. Former Attorney General Cynthia Coffman and other Republicans have since joined the group, Friends Of The Future, as advisors.

During a Sept. 6 appearance on KNUS 710AM’s Chuck & Julie Show, Neville mocked the moderate politicians for imitating his small-dollar fundraising prowess:

“They’re kind of like the JV squad reuniting, wearing their letter jackets and talking about all the great things they did. Imitation is the biggest form of flattery, so in this case they’re seeing how successful we’re being with developing a small dollar donor base so we don’t have to be totally dependent on these large donations from corporations or other big donors…” House Minority Leader Patrick Neville, KNUS, 9/6/19

Asked by KNUS host Julie Hayden which Republican fundraising entities conservatives should support, Neville briefly mentioned his official House 527 Values First Colorado, but quickly moved on to promote “Recall Colorado,” another 527 Neville and his brother Joe created, ostensibly to separate their recall fundraising from their regular election cycle work.

Values First Colorado is the official House 527 and then we also have RecallColorado.com. We’re transforming that into small dollar donations that we’re really trying to turn into a base that we can hand off towards future election cycles so that’s really main effort that we’ve put into it. It’s becoming Take Back Colorado, now that we’re getting past the recall cycles and getting closer to 2020, we’re running out of time to initiate a lot of these recalls. So that’s what we’re going to transform that into. So recallcolorado.com, there you go.”

Neville’s claim that he’s transforming Recall Colorado into “Take Back Colorado” (TBC) as part of an effort to shift from “recall cycles” to “future election cycles” is interesting for a few reasons.

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GOP Chaos in CO Springs Could Hamper GOP Comeback Effort

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Rep. Dave Williams (R).

The mysterious implosion of the county GOP party in Colorado Springs may hamper Republican efforts to fortify itself against a blue wave that appears to be heading our way again next year.

With so many of the state’s Republicans congregated in El Paso (157,208 registered Republican voters), and the rapidly growing number of Trump-hating independents and Democrats pooling in previously-thought-of swing areas of the state, the GOP must orchestrate a phenomenal turnout of voters around Colorado Springs–or it has little chance of winning Colorado’s U.S Senate race next year, say analysts.

Hence, the importance of having a functional Republican Party entity in El Paso.

So the sudden resignation Tamra Farah, the leader of El Paso’s Republican Party, less than ten days before their biggest fundraiser of the year and amid allegations that leading donors refused to work with her, is certainly a cause for concern among Colorado Republicans across the state.

Tension among leaders of the Republican Party in El Paso, which includes Colorado Springs, has been evident for many years, but GOP infighting “came to a head” in recent months, State Rep. Dave Williams (R-CO Springs) told KNUS, a conservative radio station, Wednesday.

“I put this squarely at the feet of the establishment,” said Williams on air, referring moneyed Republicans who generally support more moderate candidates.

Williams alleged that establishment Republicans initially supported Farah but backed off, but he wouldn’t name the individuals involved.

“This is not a grassroots problem,” said Williams on air, referring to the faction of the Republican Party that backs more right-leaning candidates and usually has less financial backing.

“I don’t think [Farah] wanted to play games anymore with helping out insiders and their friends and their buddies,” said Williams on KNUS.

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Reversal: Neville Now “Can’t Say” that He Talked Trump Out of Backing Red Flag

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

House Minority Leader Patrick Neville (R-Castle Rock)

Republican State House leader Patrick Neville (R-Castle Rock) is walking back his claim that he went to the White House last year after the Parkland massacre and convinced Trump not to support red-flag legislation, which would allow guns to be confiscated by people deemed dangerous by a judge.

“I can’t say that I’m the guy that talked [Trump] out of it or anything, and I don’t even know if he’s still talked out of it,” Neville told KNUS host Randy Corporon Saturday.

That contradicts Neville’s comment on KNUS Aug. 9, in which he took credit for talking Trump out of supporting a red flag bill after Parkland.

“Just about eighteen months ago, I went and visited the president and actually talked him out of [supporting a red flag bill],” Neville told KNUS hosts Chuck Bonniwell and Julie Hayden.

A call to Neville asking about the discrepancy between the two statements was not immediately returned.

A video of a meeting with Neville and Trump last February (at 26 min here) raises questions about whether Neville talked Trump out of backing the legislation, which would allow guns to be confiscated by people deemed dangerous by a judge.

As you can see in the video, Neville indeed argued against gun-safety laws in Trump’s presence in the White House’s Roosevelt Room, and Trump agreed with him. But you can’t conclude that Neville flipped Trump on the the red flag bill, which was barely mentioned. But you also can’t say Neville did not convince Trump.

It turns out that Neville flew to Washington for second meeting with Trump, about a week later, where Neville says he applied more of his persuasive prowess on Trump,

But after describing his meeting with Trump, Neville says he can’t be sure he convinced the president of his stance on the red-flag bill.

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Recall Donations Have a Funny Way of Disappearing


You could donate to a Neville recall campaign…or keep warm for a few minutes.

As we’ve discussed in this space on numerous occasions, various efforts to recall Democratic elected officials in Colorado are about two things: 1) Figuring out a way to get around the fact that pesky Colorado voters won’t support Republican candidates, and 2) Raising money by any means possible.

The fundraising aspect has become so intense, in fact, that it has sparked some nasty infighting among right-wing groups scrapping for loose change. One of the main financial beneficiaries of Recallpalooza is the Neville Clan, led by House Minority Leader Patrick Neville and his political consultant brother, Joe Neville. This isn’t just speculation on our part. The Nevilles openly admit that they are promoting recalls in order to profit financially, which is perhaps somewhat more honorable than pretending otherwise but no less disgusting in general.

As Marianne Goodland reports for the publication formerly known as the Colorado Statesman…well, let’s just say you can color us unsurprised:

A political fund controlled by state House Minority Leader Patrick Neville of Castle Rock and his brother, Joe Neville, has been attempting for months to raise money for the effort to recall Colorado Gov. Jared Polis.

But groups involved in the recall effort say they haven’t seen any of that money yet. [Pols emphasis]

House Minority Leader Patrick Neville (R-Castle Rock)

The most recent fundraising email was sent Aug. 5 under the name of Take Back Colorado, asking respondents to reply to a survey on whether the governor should be recalled. It included a link to a donation site, operated by Values First Colorado, the 527 campaign committee run by Joe Neville that primarily supports Republican candidates for the Colorado state House.

Under tax law, 527 committees can raise unlimited funds to influence an election or issue but can’t coordinate with a campaign.

Joe Neville told Colorado Politics that any money received through that Aug. 5 fundraising email would go to the Resist Polis PAC, one of two groups involved in the petition effort to recall the governor. He did not respond to a request on how much money was raised by the Polis-recall emails.

But Resist Polis PAC spokeswoman Korry Lewis said the group’s dealings with the Nevilles have been frustrating, because while “we’ve been talking to them since April” about the fundraising emails, it hasn’t seen any money yet.

As we’ve already seen with failed recall attempts targeting Democratic Rep. Tom Sullivan, you had better hold on to your receipts if you decide to write a check to one of these grifting operations. Some recall donors have in fact figured this out and are asking for their money back, which is sort of like waiting for a check from Bernie Madoff.

This is not the first time that the Nevilles and their friends at Rocky Mountain Gun Owners have made campaign donations disappear. Since Republican donors don’t seem to be learning anything from these mistakes, it surely won’t be the last time, either.

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Ultra-Conservative Pastor Running for CO House Seat Thinks Women Shouldn’t Wear Pants


(We have nothing to add – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

The question of whether it’s appropriate for women to wear pants is one you might expect to see while studying the beginnings of the feminist movement in the 19th century, but probably not in a 2019 race for a seat in Colorado’s House of Representatives. And yet, here we are.

Longmont pastor Corey Seulean, who recently announced he’s running to replace term-limited Colorado Rep. Lori Saine (R-Firestone), tells women in his congregation at Hopewell Baptist Church that it’s immodest to wear pants, and that they should instead wear either skirts or “modest culottes,” a woman who attended his church said on Facebook.

Corey Seulean
Source: Youtube

When asked by the Colorado Times Recorder about the pastor’s stance on how women decide to cover their legs, a Seulean spokesperson confirmed that he does in fact believe that pants are immodest and that women shouldn’t wear them.

The comment from Melissa Ford was posted on Seulean’s candidate Facebook page announcing his campaign kickoff event.

“Mr. I am going to tell the women of my congregation how to dress?” wrote Ford on Seulean’s post. “Please pick a better candidate.”

When prompted for more details by another commenter, Ford wrote, “We attended his church at one point. He would get in front of the congregation and basically tell us women should not wear pants. We should wear skirts or ‘modest culottes’. Not sure that is the best candidate to be putting forward.”

Ford could not be reached for comment.

The post with Ford’s comment has since been deleted.

Campaign manager Benjamin Seulean, who’s also Cory Seulean’s son, said that’s because they updated the event announcement after learning that Rep. Saine would no longer be able to attend, not because they didn’t want Ford’s comment on their page.

“I did not delete it because of [Ford’s] comment,” said Seulean. “I didn’t have a problem with what she said.”

Benjamin Seulean told the Colorado Times Recorder that while the church doesn’t enforce a dress code, Pastor Seulean has made it known that he believes that the Bible says it’s immodest for women to wear pants.

(more…)

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Surprising Poll Results for Proposition CC, TABOR Refunds


The Colorado Sun reports on some surprising new polling data about Proposition CC and TABOR refunds in general:

A survey conducted by Republican firm Magellan Strategies found that 54% of likely 2019 general election voters intend to approve Proposition CC, while 30% said they were going to reject the question. And 15% said they were undecided. [Pols emphasis]

“You have to give the Democratic legislature and governor credit, because the language of the ballot question is very simple and very good,” said David Flaherty, who leads Louisville-based Magellan. “It’s not your typical ‘shall taxes be raised by $10 billion for transportation or roads?’ It’s a very simple ask and it doesn’t even mention TABOR.”

He pointed to the fact that 32% of Republicans said they intended to support the measure as proof of the well-written language by proponents, given that conservatives are typically fierce defenders of TABOR, Colorado’s complicated tax law limiting government growth and mandating that voters approve any tax hike.

Those polled were read the exact ballot language and then asked if they would support the measure when they vote in November.

The full polling memo from Magellan Strategies is available HERE.

Via Magellan Strategies

Proposition CC is a measure for the November 2019 ballot that was referred by the state legislature earlier this year. It essentially asks voters to allow the State of Colorado to attain excess revenue — for transportation and education funding — that would otherwise be returned to taxpayers in very small amounts under a formula established by the 1992 “Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights” (TABOR).

As anyone familiar with Colorado politics well knows, attempting to make any sort of changes to TABOR has typically been an arduous and often unsuccessful task. It is a huge surprise, then, that 54% of likely general election voters already support the idea of Proposition CC — particularly given that there is still no organized campaign promoting the measure. Republican opponents of Prop. CC have been out in force for months, with funding and support from groups like Americans for Prosperity and big-name fist-shakers such as Walker Stapleton and Heidi Ganahl leading the charge. In other words, Prop. CC is viewed favorably by voters despite the fact that nobody is telling them good things about the measure — and perhaps because there is active opposition from well-known Colorado Republicans.

So, what’s happening here? As Magellan Strategies notes, while 46% of respondents still view TABOR favorably, only 20% say that they are “very familiar” with the 1992 ballot measure. Those respondents who dislike Colorado’s funding restrictions are well-tuned to the anti-TABOR messaging:

“The primary reasons 36% of respondents have an unfavorable opinion of TABOR is the belief that the amendment has had a negative impact on adequate funding for public education, roads, transportation and other government services.”

It’s way too early to get too excited about these polling numbers if you support Prop. CC, but opinions on TABOR are clearly trending in a negative direction. Some of that is undoubtedly because many Colorado voters have no familiarity with TABOR after 27 years; Colorado’s recent blueward tendencies also play a significant role.

Should Prop. CC supporters manage to scrap together a semi-decent campaign this fall, we could be looking at a very interesting election night in November.

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House Republican Leader Says He’s Been “Cut Off” By Powerful Business Group

(Republicans don’t win elections or pass legislation under Neville, but other than that he’s great! — Colorado Pols)

Colorado Concern, one of the most influential business groups in the state, is no longer talking to the leader of the House Republicans. Minority Leader Patrick Neville (R-Castle Rock) says he’s been “cut off” by the powerful lobbying group.

Speaking with KNUS radio hosts Chuck Bonniwell and Julie Hayden on August 2, Neville confessed he hasn’t talked to them since last November’s election.

Bonniwell: Who do you talk to over there? [At Colorado Concern] Greg Stevinson? He’s the Treasurer, he’s a Republican, kinda-sorta. Neville: They [Colorado Concern] have actually cut me off to be honest with you. I really don’t talk to them at all any more. I did when I first took over leadership for about the first year, and then after [Propositions] Y & Z, I haven’t really talked to them since.

Colorado Concern, led by former Republican lawmaker Mike Kopp, is an “exclusive alliance” of over 120 CEOs from around the state. The group ranked third among all entities that lobby at the state capital in campaign contributions last election cycle. The group is bipartisan but its 2018 political giving leaned heavily Republican.

Propositions Y & Z were the 2018 anti-gerrymandering ballot measures reforming Colorado’s federal and state redistricting processes. Both campaigns succeeded by wide margins, thanks in part to support from leadership from both parties, including Neville, as well substantial financial support from a group affiliated with Colorado Concern.

Neville’s admission followed a long discussion about Colorado Concern’s influence and policy goals, specifically the failed negotiations over a possible special session to try to generate more support for Proposition CC. Colorado citizens will decide this November whether or not to approve Prop CC, which would allow the state government to retain and spend all of the revenue it collects. The state is currently barred from keeping more than a certain amount (determined by a formula based on inflation plus population growth) of collected tax revenue. The vast majority of all Colorado counties cities and school districts have already passed a local equivalent of Prop CC.

Neville implied that his reluctance to come to the table led Colorado Concern to threaten primaries against his candidates:

Neville: “I hear they’re threatening ‘we’re gonna start getting involved in races,’ Well [they] always do! $400,000 in 2014- they dumped in a ton of money then against all of our candidates. It’s sad- I was hoping there would be a change when they changed the executive director. It used to be Kelly Brough and she went after all the conservatives and we just cleaned the slate back then and we’ll do it again. Because they might have a lot of money, but we actually have the ideas and the people out there. So if they want to play this game, I’m game.”

Neville later dismissed Colorado Concern’s influence in recent elections, noting that it only gave him $5,000 to $10,000 for house races. He instead praised groups like Right To Work and Rocky Mountain Gun Owners

Colorado Concern president Mike Kopp did not return a call requesting comment.

This article first appeared on the Colorado Times Recorder. 

 

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The Hard Truth About Suicide And Gun-Loving Sheriffs


Weld County Sheriff Steve Reams (R).

FOX 31’s Rob Low correlated a data point in the renewed debate over gun control in general and Colorado’s extreme risk protection order (ERPO or “red flag”) law in particular: something so significant and troubling that we wanted to make sure it was mentioned in this space.

Supporters of Colorado’s “red flag” law say the measure is more likely to prevent suicides than mass shootings, even though it’s the recent mass shootings in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio that led President Donald Trump to embrace red flag laws as a way to reduce gun violence.

In Colorado, more than half of the state’s 64 counties have declared themselves Second Amendment sanctuaries opposed to the the red flag law. Many of those counties have the state’s highest gun suicide rates, according to statistics provided to FOX31 by the Colorado Department of Health and Environment… [Pols emphasis]

Counties with large urban populations like Denver and Boulder tend to have lower rates of suicide by gun: 6.5 deaths per 100,000 people in Denver; 8 per 100,000 people in Boulder between the years of 2013 and 2017. However, Custer County averaged 49 gun suicides per 100,000 people over the same time period.

Gun rights proponents often insist that suicides involving guns should be excluded from statistics used by gun control supporters, arguing that because only the perpetrator is harmed in suicide such incidents shouldn’t “count” as according-to-Hoyle gun violence. But the undeniable positive correlation between access to guns and their use in suicides as well as crimes against other people is why ERPO laws permit the removal of guns from persons ruled to be a risk to themselves or others. Suicide prevention is every bit as important as, and in theory more likely to form the basis of ERPO requests than individuals plotting attacks on others.

With respect to the large number of elected county sheriffs who have announced their intentions to refuse to enforce Colorado’s new ERPO law, the high suicide rate in many of these same counties is going to put these politician-sheriffs in a very difficult position after the law takes effect on January 1, 2020. It won’t be long, perhaps a matter of days, before someone who could have intervened in the suicide of a family member is thwarted by a county sheriff who refuses to enforce Colorado law. It’s not a hypothetical. It’s a certainty.

And it’s not something we’d ever want to face the news cameras to explain.

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Colorado House Republicans Fundraising to Recall Polis

(Everybody on the gravy boat — Promoted by Colorado Pols)
Patrick Neville "Take Back Colorado"
House Republican Leader Patrick Neville is using the statehouse GOP caucus fund to promote another recall effort, this time of Colorado Gov. Jared Polis. Neville didn’t pull any punches in his email soliciting donations:
Take Back Colorado logo
Governor Polis has unleashed the most radical and overreaching agenda in Colorado’s history. Chip in now to support a recall of Jared Polis and help us take back Colorado!
Neville sent the email via Values First Colorado (VFC), which also operates “Recall Colorado,” an entity dedicated to recalling Neville’s Democratic colleagues in the state legislature. Take Back Colorado appears to be an “entity” in name only; there is neither a political committee nor a business of that name registered with the Colorado Secretary of State. VFC’s enthusiastic support of statehouse recalls caused some concern among corporate donors earlier this year. Both Xcel Energy and Noble Energy issued statements saying they intended their 2018 donations to VCF to be used to elect Republicans in November’s general election, not recalling Democrats from office. Following those statements, Neville created a new political committee, “Recall Colorado,” presumably to separate recall funds from VFC’s regular election work. The committee’s lone campaign finance report filed on July 15 shows no money raised or spent over its first 30 days. VFC also filed a campaign finance report on July 15. Top donors include the Colorado Automobile Dealers Association ($10,000 on June 12) Farmers Insurance Group ($5,000 on June 13), Ralph Nagel of Top Rock Investments ($5,000 on May 9), and United Health Group, which also gave $5,000 on May 9. The report also revealed VFC’s largest expenditure: $18,000 to Rearden Strategic for “Digital Marketing.” Rearden is owned by Patrick Neville’s brother Joe. That family connection has already raised eyebrows among Colorado press, leading 9News’ Marshall Zelinger to ask party chair Ken Buck if he thought it appropriate for the Neville family to profit from recalls. It’s unclear how much money VFC has spent on Take Back Colorado so far, but at the very least it has created a logo, built a donation page on its fundraising site, and generated an email.
The email promoting Take Back Colorado is very similar in format and wording “Recall Colorado” emails sent by VCF. The logo is identical except for the addition of the words “Take Back.” The same disclosure, that “Take Back Colorado is an entity operated by Values First Colorado and is “Paid for and authorized by Values First Colorado,” appears at the bottom of the message. A phone call to VFC’s registered agent Joe Neville requesting comment was not immediately returned.
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The Coming Battle Over NPV: Qui Bono?


President Donald Trump.

Denver7’s Blair Miller reports:

Proponents of the effort to repeal Colorado’s new law that would give Colorado’s presidential electoral votes to the winner of the popular vote submitted more than 225,000 signatures Thursday, organizers said.

Mesa County Commissioner Rose Pugliese, who is one of the organizers of the effort along with Monument Mayor Don Wilson , said the Protect Colorado’s Vote initiative submitted 227,198 signatures from voters statewide to the secretary of state’s office for review.

The proponents need 125,000 of those signatures to be deemed valid for the referendum to be put on the 2020 ballot. Aug. 1 was the submission deadline.

Opponents of Colorado joining the not-yet-operational National Popular Vote Interstate Compact have been working to collect signatures for a repeal measure ever since Gov. Jared Polis signed the bill back in March. The campaign reportedly used both volunteer and professional paid signature gatherers. To put this result in perspective, supporters of the campaign to recall Gov. Polis have a much smaller window in which to collect at minimum three times as many valid voter signatures–clearly demonstrating the near-impossible task ahead for the “Dismiss Polis” campaign in only a few short remaining weeks. As we’ve said repeatedly in this space, the NPV repeal effort makes far more political sense for Republicans than pursuing recalls, not least because it’s an attainable goal.

And now, it’s a good bet the NPV repeal will be on the 2020 ballot right along with President Donald Trump, the polarizing chief executive serving as the backdrop for this larger philosophical battle over the role of states in presidential elections and the relative power of individual voters. If Republicans are correct that Democratic “overreach” in Colorado since the 2018 Democratic landslide is provoking a conservative backlash, NPV could give them an excellent vehicle to turn those voters out.

But what if it backfires?

The principal hole in the reasoning of Republican opponents of NPV is the fact that President Donald Trump remains unpopular in this state, and polls show there’s been nothing since the 2018 elections to significantly alter that downward trajectory. The “overreach” tag has not taken hold outside the Republican base, the only group where even a plurality agrees–and who we’d bet money were the overwhelming majority of NPV petition signers. If NPV becomes part of a wholesale rejection of Donald Trump by Colorado voters in 2020, there’s a likely scenario in which the NPV repeal attempt goes down along with him.

Either way, once the dust settles from the current spate of fringe-backed recall attempts, this is going to be a central battlefield for Republicans in 2020. And it will be up to Colorado voters to decide if the personal satisfaction of having a vote “worth more” than a vote in a large state is worth the end result as delivered by the Electoral College in both the 2000 and 2016 presidential elections–Presidents elected by a minority of American voters.

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Get More Smarter on Thursday (August 1)


Welcome to August, friends. 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 an audio/visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show or The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us Facebook and Twitter.

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► The U.S. Senate passed a broad new spending agreement that completely ignores Republican claims to be “fiscally conservative.” As the Washington Post reports:

The Senate passed a broad, two-year budget deal Thursday that boosts spending and eliminates the threat of a debt default until past the 2020 election, while reducing chances for another government shutdown. The legislation now goes to President Trump, who is expected to sign it despite conservative complaints that it will fuel the nation’s runaway debt…

…Republican leaders including Trump himself had been working to round up GOP support ahead of Thursday’s vote, trying to avoid a repeat of the outcome in the House last week, when a majority of Republican lawmakers ignored Trump’s pleas and voted against the deal. It passed the House anyway, on the strength of Democratic votes. The lobbying effort paid off in the Senate as more Republicans voted in favor of the deal than against it.

The agreement heads off several looming fiscal threats, most immediately the possibility that the Treasury Department could have run out of money to pay its bills as early as September if Congress didn’t act, resulting in a market-shattering default on U.S. obligations.

The deal passed Thursday suspends the debt ceiling through July 31, 2021, removing the threat of default and the accompanying risk of political brinkmanship that typically accompanies debt limit negotiations. It lifts strict Obama-era spending caps that would otherwise slash indiscriminately into agency and military budgets, and sets overall spending levels that will make it easier for lawmakers to write the individual appropriations bills needed to keep the government open past Oct. 1, when current agency budgets expire.

Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) was among the Republicans who had been waffling on a new spending agreement, expressing half-hearted concern about deficits while conveniently ignoring the budgetary peril they inflicted with massive tax cuts for the wealthy in late 2017.

 

► We could be just days away from Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) claiming credit for free full-day kindergarten in Colorado. On Wednesday, Gardner made the ballsy and completely baseless boast that he helped Colorado secure approval for a “reinsurance” program that could cut healthcare costs for Coloradans by as much as 18% in 2020. Credit for this program actually goes to Gov. Jared Polis and Democrats in the state legislature, who have worked for years to implement this cost-saving measure.

Colorado journalists, including Kyle Clark of 9News, saw right through Gardner’s nonsense:

► We’ve made it through the second round of debates for candidates seeking the Democratic Presidential nomination. Chris Cillizza of CNN lists his “winners and losers” from Wednesday night, while Ed Rogers of the Washington Post doesn’t give high marks to either Colorado-based contender, former Gov. John Hickenlooper or Sen. Michael Bennet. Hickenlooper and Bennet had brief moments in Detroit, but neither did well enough to likely keep them in the race for much longer. As Nic Garcia writes for the Denver Post, it is Hickenlooper who might be the first to depart:

John Hickenlooper’s campaign for the presidency was always a longshot. Now, after another lusterless debate performance, national political observers and some of his closest allies are wondering when — not if — the former Colorado governor will end his quixotic bid for the White House.

At best, Hickenlooper’s friends are split on whether he should persist in seeking the Democratic nomination or bow out. State party insiders are annoyed with Hickenlooper — some openly pushing him to run for the U.S. Senate instead. Others merely dismiss him as a relic of a political era gone by.

“I think he’s done,” a former Hickenlooper aide told The Denver Post.

Like many former gubernatorial and campaign staff members interviewed for this article, he spoke on the condition of anonymity to protect his relationship with Hickenlooper.

“I think his team will know in the next two days after they see the numbers and analyze other data,” the former aide said. “But my sense is he’s not going to see that.”

 

Get even more smarter after the jump…

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Colorado Celebrates Healthcare Savings; Gardner Shamelessly Claims Credit


Gov. Jared Polis outlines his healthcare savings plan in April. Note the absence of anyone who looks anything like Sen. Cory Gardner.

As Anna Staver reports for the Denver Post, healthcare costs will decrease significantly next year thanks to legislation passed by the Colorado legislature earlier this year:

Colorado has received federal approval for a new program that is expected to save families who buy health insurance through the individual marketplace thousands of dollars a year, Gov. Jared Polis is announcing Wednesday.

The program, known as reinsurance, is expected to drop premiums by an average of 18.2% when it gets under way in January, state officials estimate…

…The reinsurance program is expected to pool $260 million in state and federal money and use it to cover the costliest medical bills among the 250,000 Coloradans who buy their health insurance on the exchange. Taking that burden off of insurance providers will enable them to lower premiums overall.

Colorado is the ninth state to secure a federal waiver for a reinsurance program. Minnesota’s reinsurance program brought down its 2018 premiums by about 11.3%, and Alaska’s dropped by a statewide average of 26%, according to a Georgetown University Health Policy Institute report.

We noted this impressive 18% savings when figures were first projected by the Colorado Division of Insurance earlier this month. The reinsurance program is part of a broader healthcare savings plan promoted by Gov. Jared Polis and passed by Democrats in the state legislature. This reinsurance program is such a good idea, in fact, that Republican Sen. Cory Gardner is now TRYING TO TAKE CREDIT FOR IT:

This did not go over well with Colorado lawmakers such as State Sen. Kerry Donovan (D-Vail):

Likewise, Sen. Brittany Pettersen (D-Lakewood) was not amused:

 

But wait, it gets even more ridiculous. Not only did Gardner have nothing to do with this proposal — his support for getting rid of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) would ultimately kill off the reinsurance deal entirely. As the Colorado Sun reports:

That’s because the Trump Administration — the same one that is expected to sign off on the program — is also backing a lawsuit to strike down the entire Affordable Care Act, the health law that makes a lot of the funding for the reinsurance program possible…

…Earlier this month, a panel of judges at the New Orleans-based 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals heard a lawsuit brought by the state of Texas and others — with the Trump Administration’s backing — arguing that the whole Affordable Care Act should be thrown out. The argument requires its own explainer (like this one), but the upshot from the hearing was that it didn’t gowell for defenders of the health care law. A challenge to the law also known as Obamacare appears headed for the U.S. Supreme Court.

If that lawsuit ultimately succeeds, then Colorado’s reinsurance program in its current form is basically doomed. The subsidies that provide money for the program — and the entire section of federal law that the program lives under — would be gone. Lawmakers would need to do some significant tinkering just to preserve any vestige of it.

This is not the first time that Gardner has been so blatantly duplicitous on the issue of healthcare. In March 2017, Gardner was one of four Republican Senators who signed onto a letter defending the expansion of Medicaid in states like Colorado. A few months later, Gardner voted in favor of a proposal to gut the ACA that quite literally would have ended Medicaid coverage for millions of Americans.

To recap, Coloradans are going to see a major decrease in healthcare costs in 2020 thanks to Gov. Polis and Democrats in the state legislature. Senator Gardner had nothing to do with this and is supportive of federal policies that would destroy this reinsurance plan, but he’s raising his hand like a conquering hero in the meantime.

Please, don’t clap.

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Editorial Boards Across Colorado Discourage Recall Fever


For several months newspaper editorial boards from every part of Colorado have been opining against the various recall efforts underway or under consideration by right-wing activists around the state. There are now more than a dozen editorials from across Colorado encouraging readers to “just say no” to signing a recall petition. Here’s a quick look at some of the most recent offerings:

The Denver Post (7/22/19)

From the Denver Post:

This summer we urge Colorado voters to decline to sign recall petitions for three elected officials.

These men and women – Gov. Jared Polis, Sen. Brittany Pettersen of Lakewood, and Sen. Pete Lee of Colorado Springs – have done nothing nefarious, or illegal or untoward. Rather, they face recalls for their votes, or in the case of the governor his signature, on issues the petition gatherers disagree with.

These are not matters that should be decided by a special election. These are issues that should be decided by the next regular election. That’s how our Democracy works – someone is elected for a term and barring some exceedingly rare and horrendous action on the part of an elected official, they serve that term until the next election. Then voters can have their say.

Recalls are not meant to be do-over elections.

The Colorado Springs Business Journal (7/26/19)

From the Colorado Springs Business Journal:

Recall elections come with a massive price tag, and not just in terms of dollars and cents.

It’s difficult to pinpoint how much a special election — the process required under Colorado Secretary of State rules — costs on a statewide level. However, in Colorado Springs alone as recently as April, the cost of a citywide special election was estimated at a half-million dollars. It stands to reason the cost of recalling a statewide official like the governor would be exponentially higher.

“It’s far better to rein in the recalls and stop the silliness now, for the sake of good governance, for our business climate and for our state’s future.”

And that’s an untenable investment to ask of taxpayers, especially when you consider that special elections historically have low voter turnout.

Recall costs aside, the process is also disruptive to good governance. When lawmakers must constantly step lightly in order to avoid losing their jobs, what chance do they have to draft thoughtful or change-making legislation? How can we expect any level of productivity?

The Colorado Springs Independent (7/24/19)

And from the Colorado Springs Independent:

It’s a sniveling threat from some far-right interests, and it’s all because the Legislature passed and the governor signed some very progressive policies during the 2019 session.

Which leaves us with a question. At what point did we become a selfish, whiny society that has made it easier to threaten to take someone’s job away than to admit you made a mistake and change it when the opportunity arises?…

…So rather than find better candidates and prepare them for victory in 2020 and beyond, they’re whining and threatening those who are doing the job for one simple fact: They’re. Doing. Their. Jobs. When it swings back to the right, what’s to stop the far left from doing the same thing?

You get the idea. From the Pueblo Chieftain and the Greeley Tribune to the Durango Herald and the Grand Junction Sentinel, the conclusion has been the same: This recall madness is wrong and it needs to stop.

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