The GMS Podcast: Rep. Yadira Caraveo Gets More Smarter

State Representative, Pediatrician, and Congressional candidate Yadira Caraveo

This week on Episode #89 of The Get More Smarter Podcast, hosts Jason Bane and Ian Silverii talk with State Rep. Yadira Caraveo about her work as a state legislator, a pediatrician, and now, a candidate for Congress in CO-08.

Later, Jason and Ian try to figure out who is the driver of the Republican Senate candidate clown car; we wonder if Rep. Lauren “Q*Bert” Boebert even knows what she is saying anymore; and we decide that Republican Heidi Ganahl is running the worst campaign for governor in the entire country.

Catch up on previous episodes of The Get More Smarter Podcast at GetMoreSmarter.com.

Questions? Comments? Complaints? Hit us up at AngryRants@getmoresmarter.com.

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Get More Smarter on Tuesday (Oct. 19)

Return those ballots, people! Visit GoVoteColorado.com to check on the status of your mail ballot for 2021. Let’s Get More Smarter. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of an audio learner, check out The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter

 

CORONAVIRUS INFO…

*Colorado Coronavirus info:
CDPHE Coronavirus website 

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

*How you can help in Colorado:
COVRN.com

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

 

Republican gubernatorial candidate Hiedi Heidi Ganahl is running the worst gubernatorial campaign in the entire country. She’s making national headlines today for another bad reason: Hosting an in-person event with a conservative speaker who was literally TRYING to get infected with COVID-19. We wrote about this story on Monday, but here’s more from The Washington Post:

Days before he announced he had tested positive, Prager was in Colorado, where he spoke at a campaign event for Heidi Ganahl, a Republican running for governor. Officials with her campaign told KUSA they were not aware of Prager’s plan to get infected with the coronavirus.

“We are reaching out to all those who attended to make sure they are informed,” Ganahl’s campaign told the station in a statement. “We encourage those who attended … to get tested and follow CDC guidelines if they experience any Covid-like symptoms.”

The problem with this response from the Ganahl campaign is this: There is video evidence of Prager flat-out telling Ganahl that he was hoping to get infected with COVID-19.

Here’s more from 9News:

 

The Denver Post updates the latest COVID-19 numbers in Colorado:

Colorado’s COVID-19 hospitalizations continued to rise over the weekend, but it’s difficult to predict whether that trend will continue.

On Friday, more people were hospitalized with COVID-19 in Colorado than at any point since late December. The number of hospitalizations continued to increase, reaching 1,101 people with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 on Monday afternoon.

New cases appeared to fall last week, however. The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment reported 12,885 cases in the week ending Sunday — a decrease of roughly 2,500, if it stands. The state’s data has lagged in recent months, though, with late reports sometimes erasing any signs of progress.

“We’ve been in a period of uncertainty with the trends in the data,” said Talia Quandelacy, an assistant professor of epidemiology at the Colorado School of Public Health. “It’s hard to tell what some of these trends are showing.”

The bottom line seems to be the same as it has been: We’re still not yet getting a handle on turning back the coronavirus pandemic as too many Coloradans continue to refuse to get vaccinated. Westword has more on Colorado’s COVID numbers.

In related news, Larimer County is reinstating a mask requirement for residents in indoor public areas. As Colorado Public Radio reports, one of the safest places to be in Colorado, in terms of a high-percentage of people who are vaccinated, is on college campuses.

 

The House committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection plans to move forward today with holding former Trump adviser Steve Bannon in contempt for refusing to respond to a Congressional subpoena.

 

As The Associated Press reports, Texas has approved a new gerrymandered congressional map that dilutes minority representation.

 

 

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Rep. Richard Holtorf Is Not A Nice Man

State Rep. Richard Holtorf (R).

Russ Baldwin of the Prowers Journal out of the southeastern plains town of Lamar reports on a heated meeting of the Prowers Medical Center Board of Directors at the end of September to address the COVID-19 vaccination mandate that took effect on October 1, resulting in a small percentage of health care workers and public employees who refused to comply losing their jobs:

The Prowers Medical Center Board of Directors heard from over 100 callers and in-person attendees during a special meeting September 29th, held to receive comments and questions from the audience regarding vaccine and health guidelines from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment and Colorado Department of Health.

The majority of residents, crowding the hospital hallway outside the meeting room, were there to voice their opinions on the national mandate requiring hospital employees to be masked as of September 30th or not be allowed to work. Of the 23 PMC employees who requested an exemption from the mandates by way of medical situations or religious beliefs, one received the exemption, requiring the balance to abide by the mandates…

It’s a situation that has played out all over the country countless times in the last 18 months as lower-ranking officials absorb the public’s wrath over measures put in place well above their pay grade. In Mesa County, as readers know, angry mobs threatened the all-GOP Mesa County Board of Commissioners with “civil war” over mask mandates and other measures imposed by the state government. However you feel about public health orders to control the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s simply wrong to take out your frustrations on functionaries who have no ability to affect the policy they’re charged with enforcing.

Apparently, nobody explained this to the area’s representative in the state legislature, Rep. Richard Holtorf:

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Get More Smarter on Wednesday (Oct. 13)

Today is International Day for Natural Disaster Reduction, which doesn’t seem like something that should be limited to a once-a-year deal. Let’s Get More Smarter. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of an audio learner, check out The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter

 

CORONAVIRUS INFO…

*Colorado Coronavirus info:
CDPHE Coronavirus website 

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

*How you can help in Colorado:
COVRN.com

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

 

Colorado’s 2021 redistricting process is complete. Almost.

As Alex Burness of The Denver Post reports:

It was not immediately clear what the projected split would be on the Senate map, approved Tuesday, since the version the commissioned adopted was drawn on the fly during a live Zoom meeting. That version made slight changes to a previous drafted map that projected 22 districts leaning in Democrats’ favor, to 13 for Republicans.

But both the House and Senate maps would have many potentially competitive seats, which was one of the goals of this commission. Recent election results suggest margins of 3.1% or under in nine House districts, and margins of 3.8% or under in seven Senate districts.

The Colorado Supreme Court will now have to approve both maps by November 15. We’ll likely have more analysis later. For additional reporting, check out Colorado Public Radio and The Colorado Sun. In the meantime, be wary of the misleading narrative that these two maps will allow Democrats to remain control of the State Legislature; if Democrats do maintain majorities in both chambers, it won’t be because of these maps.

CLICK HERE to see the approved map for the State Senate.

CLICK HERE to see the approved map for the State House.

Elsewhere, 9News has more on the Supreme Court hearings for the new Congressional redistricting map approved last week.

 

Colorado Public Radio reports on efforts by Trump-aligned forces to get a favorable court ruling in Colorado. CBS4 Denver has more on a two-day hearing beginning today that may include several notable figures from the “Stop the Steal” crowd. Business Insider also looks at the story from a national perspective, with credit to The Colorado Times Recorder.

 

Colorado Newsline reports on a big announcement in Colorado:

Colorado has become the first state in the nation to require comprehensive gender-affirming care as part of minimum, or “benchmark,” health care plans sold on the individual and small group markets, which accounts for about a quarter of the state’s health care customers.

The gender-affirming care element was announced during a Tuesday news conference that included speakers Gov. Jared Polis and Chiquita Brooks-LaSure, administrator of the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. Brooks-LaSure, whose agency had to approve additional benchmark items, called the move “momentous” and said “gender-affirming care can be life-saving.”…

…The gender-affirming care will be included in plans sold in Colorado on the individual and small group markets starting in 2023. It does apply to insurance obtained through large employers. New benchmark items also include an expansion of behavioral health care, including an annual mental health exam, and more options for substance abuse treatment, which were required as part of this year’s House Bill 21-1276.

John Frank of Axios Denver includes some important — and largely overlooked — key points about this announcement. This is not something that is solely about transgender care; for example, “gender-affirming care” also includes procedures such as breast reconstruction following a mastectomy.

 

 As Westword notes, COVID-19 hospitalizations in Colorado are at their worst level since 2020. Please get vaccinated.

 

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Last-Minute Treachery Threatens Redistricting Independence

As Colorado’s Independent Redistricting process nears its conclusion, the “independent” piece might be getting left behind in the final chaotic hours.

Last week the Congressional Redistricting Commission approved a new map that must now be approved by the State Supreme Court. That map had its supporters and its detractors, but it seemed to be a decent consensus decision if you follow the old saying that a good compromise is one in which neither side is particularly happy.

There’s a much different story brewing with the Legislative Redistricting Commission, where two Republican commissioners (Hunter Barnett and Aislinn Kottwitz) are trying to shepherd maps — one for the State House and one for the State Senate — that would throw a life raft to a drowning Colorado Republican Party for the next decade. This is the sort of gerrymandering that Colorado voters thought they were going to avoid with the passage of Amendments Y&Z in 2018. It’s also something that we thought the legislative commission would have avoided itself given the wealth of reporting on the illegal behind-the-scenes lobbying efforts that have been undertaken by Republican political operatives.

We’ve written a few times in this space about the lobbying tactics spearheaded by Republican operatives Alan Philp, Frank McNulty, and Greg Brophy under the banner of a 501c4 group called the “Colorado Neighborhood Coalition.” (We’ve also noted the heavy-handed pleas to supporters from Republican Rep. Matt Soper). Evan Wyloge of The Colorado Springs Gazette has broken several stories about these shady lobbying tactics, including the news that these GOP operatives are being officially investigated by the Colorado Secretary of State’s office.

[You can catch up on all of this reporting by clicking HERE, HERE, HERE, HERE, and HERE.]

We would have thought that the redistricting commissions would be particularly careful to avoid the appearance of impropriety after these reports surfaced. Soper himself flat-out told supporters on a recorded video presentation that Philp, McNulty, and Brophy were hired by the Colorado Republican Party to “represent our interests” with their “only goal” to increase the GOP’s seat count in the state House and Senate. As we wrote on August 25:

The antics of Soper, McNulty, Brophy, and Philp are shining a new light on blatant Republican interference in the redistricting process, contrary to the rules laid out in Amendments Y&Z…and at precisely the wrong time for the GOP.

And again on August 31:

If the commission is worried about the appearance of partisan influence from Republicans, then they are likely to give extra scrutiny to any map boundaries that might so much as appear to be advantageous to the GOP.

As it turns out, Republican members of the legislative commission are apparently unbothered about how shady this all looks. That includes the Chair of the redistricting committee, Unaffiliated member Carlos Perez, whose legacy for the next decade would be sliding out of the way of an independent redistricting process.

Thursday alert email from the Colorado Democratic Party.

The Colorado Democratic Party sent out a “Red Alert” email on Thursday warning that GOP commissioners Barnett and Kottwitz are trying to ram through last-minute changes to their own proposed maps that would provide Republicans with huge advantages:

This is not hyperbole. Take a look at this one image from the Senate redistricting map proposed by Barnett, which includes a ridiculous carve-out for incumbent State Senator Kevin Priola:

Barnett ignored advice from nonpartisan redistricting staff to split Brighton and Commerce City into different Senate districts, which is something that accomplishes two stated redistricting goals: 1) Preserve political subdivisions, and 2) Avoid giving an advantage to incumbent lawmakers. Instead, Barnett included this little carve-out so that Priola would remain inside the boundaries of SD-24.

Here’s why this “Priola Proboscis” is so important: It draws Priola — a Republican — into a Democratic-leaning district, where he can remain in the State Senate until he is term-limited in 2024. This district SHOULD be represented by a Democrat. At the very least, voters in a Democratic district should be allowed to pick their representative in the 2022 midterm election, but for at least two years this district would be automatically represented by a Republican. Democrats currently hold a two-seat majority in the State Senate; that would instantly be reduced to a one-seat advantage thanks to Barnett. This is the very definition of gerrymandering, only Republicans wouldn’t even have to wait for an election to pick up a seat.

Senate Minority Leader Chris Holbert even telegraphed this play in June, as Colorado Newsline reported:

“Y and Z will be the first step toward achieving a Senate majority,” Senate Minority Leader Chris Holbert, a Republican from Douglas County, said during a post-session news conference Thursday at the state Capitol. Holbert referred to Amendments Y and Z, which established a new redistricting process that Holbert said will get rid of unfair election advantages for Democrats.

In approving Amendments Y&Z to create these new redistricting commissions, voters were saying that they wanted more independence and less partisanship from the process. Instead, the legislative commission is on the verge of approving two Republican-drawn maps in a state where Republicans have consistently failed to win recent elections.

For months we’ve been asking aloud if the antics of GOP operatives would damage their own interests in the eyes of the commission. Now we’re left wondering if the independent commission wants to conclude hours upon hours of discussions by approving maps advocated by lobbyists who are being investigated by the state for breaking the law. It would be a shame if the legislative commission concluded their work with a shrug and a partisan rubber stamp.

Some 11th hour independence could still win the day. The legislative commission could follow the lead of their congressional counterparts and vote on final draft maps presented by the nonpartisan redistricting staff, which are scheduled to be unveiled on Tuesday.

The GMS Podcast: Map Madness! (Feat. Evan Wyloge)

Evan Wyloge of The Colorado Springs Gazette/Colorado Politics

This week on Episode #88 of The Get More Smarter Podcast, hosts Jason Bane and Ian Silverii talk redistricting maps with Evan Wyloge of The Colorado Springs Gazette and ColoradoPolitics.com. Wyloge covered the redistricting process in Arizona in 2001 and has been closely following Colorado’s map-making extravaganza; there are few, if any, people in Colorado who understand redistricting better than he does.

But the discussion this week isn’t all about maps. We also dig into the big Ron Hanks problem now facing Colorado Republicans; the State GOP’s misunderstanding of the first rule of “Fight Club”; and more ridiculous commentary from Rep. Lauren “Q*Bert” Boebert.

Catch up on previous episodes of The Get More Smarter Podcast at GetMoreSmarter.com.

Questions? Comments? Complaints? Hit us up at AngryRants@getmoresmarter.com.

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Ron Hanks’ Senate Campaign Kickoff Is A Literal Bomb

 

Last weekend we learned that freshman GOP state Rep. “Raging” Ron Hanks, who has quickly emerged as one of the Colorado GOP House Minority’s go-to sources for full strength conspiracy theory crazypants on a full range of issues from COVID-19 to the legitimacy of the 2020 presidential election, has filed to run for the Republican nomination to face incumbent Sen. Michael Bennet in next year’s midterm elections.

Today, we were treated to a campaign kickoff video introducing Rep. Hanks to Republican primary voters, and…well, let us just say that it exceeds our admittedly low expectations. Last election, readers may recall, Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia ran a now-infamous ad featuring Greene blowing up signs labeled “SOCIALISM” and “GUN CONTROL.” Well move over, MTG because Hanks just one-upped her by filling an entire copy machine with Tannerite target explosive and labeling it a “DOMINION VOTING MACHINE.”

And gentle readers, you know what happens next! KA-BOOM!

It’s the height of absurdity, and we want to be more jovial about the silliness of it all but we’re tempered by the unfortunate seriousness of the “Big Lie” Ron Hanks is running for the U.S. Senate on as his central campaign plank. A low-budget stunt that makes most of us laugh dismissively is exactly what a majority of Republican primary voters want to hear. It’s harder to laugh when you realize Hanks is promoting misinformation that has already led to violence with still more (admittedly simulated) violence.

Blowing things up in effigy beats the alternative we guess.

Get More Smarter on Wednesday (Oct. 6)

Today is National Noodle Day and National Coaches Day. If you can figure out how to celebrate those together, we’re all ears. Let’s Get More Smarter. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of an audio learner, check out The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter

 

CORONAVIRUS INFO…

*Colorado Coronavirus info:
CDPHE Coronavirus website 

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

*How you can help in Colorado:
COVRN.com

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

 

As The Washington Post reports, Senate Republicans are hell-bent on driving the United States right off the fiscal cliff:

Senate Republicans on Wednesday plan to block Democrats from raising the country’s debt ceiling, daring President Biden and his party’s top lawmakers to devise another path forward just 12 days before the U.S. government could run out of flexibility to pay its bills.

For the third time in as many weeks, Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) is set to hold a vote on a measure that would suspend the borrowing limit into next year, aiming to act before Congress blows past an Oct. 18 deadline that could catapult the country into an economic recession.

But the proposal is likely to be as doomed as the two that preceded it. Democrats for the moment cannot advance in the debate over the debt ceiling unless 10 GOP lawmakers join them — and Republicans once again are refusing to supply the votes as part of their broader campaign to oppose Biden’s economic agenda.

“They basically want us to be aiders and abettors to their reckless spending and tax policies, and we just aren’t going to do it,” said Sen. John Cornyn (R-Tex.). [Pols emphasis]

Now, remember that raising the debt limit is necessary in part to help pay for expensive policies ENACTED UNDER THE TRUMP ADMINISTRATION.

Earlier this week, Chris Cillizza of CNN broke down the dangerous game that Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is playing:

McConnell knows — he’s a very smart dude — that his party’s current stance on the debt limit is utterly hypocritical.

But what he’s betting on is this: Democrats control the White House, the Senate and the House of Representatives. Knowing that, voters will put blame on Democrats if the debt ceiling isn’t raised.

That’s the calculation McConnell is making — that complete opposition to anything and everything that happens in Washington between now and November 2022 will best position Republicans to retake the House and Senate majorities.

As for what’s best for the country? That’s not relevant to McConnell or Senate Republicans.

Meanwhile, polling data continues to show that McConnell’s gambit could be the wrong play. New info from Quinnipiac University indicates widespread support for President Biden’s spending proposals in Congress:

Americans say 62 – 34 percent that they support a roughly $1 trillion spending bill to improve the nation’s roads, bridges, broadband, and other infrastructure projects. This compares to 65 – 28 percent support in August. In today’s poll, Democrats support the bill 85 – 11 percent, independents support it 62 – 35 percent, and Republicans oppose it 58 – 38 percent.

Americans say 57 – 40 percent that they support a $3.5 trillion spending bill on social programs such as child care, education, family tax breaks, and expanding Medicare for seniors, compared to 62 – 32 percent support in August. In today’s poll, Democrats support the bill 92 – 5 percent, independents are split with 50 percent supporting it and 48 percent opposing it, and Republicans oppose it 68 – 28 percent.

The Associated Press has more on a pared-down spending bill that is now being discussed. As The New York Times reports, Republican refusal to budge on the debt limit might be moving more Democrats toward supporting changes to the filibuster,

 

We haz more maps!

As Chase Woodruff reports for Colorado Newsline:

One week ahead of a deadline to submit its plan for new statehouse districts to the Colorado Supreme Court for review, the state’s Independent Legislative Redistricting Commission on Tuesday received details of a third and final plan proposed by nonpartisan state staff.

The maps released ahead of the commission’s Tuesday night meeting draw new boundaries for 65 Colorado House of Representatives districts and 35 state Senate seats, as proposed by state staff based on previous feedback from the commission’s 12 appointed members. Any further changes to the two maps must be approved by a two-thirds vote of the panel, which consists of four registered Democrats, four Republicans and four unaffiliated voters.

The deadline for the commission to submit its maps to the Supreme Court is Oct. 15. If commissioners can’t approve a final plan with at least eight votes by then, the third staff plan will be submitted.

 

Colorado Republicans remain committed to the political strategy of complaining about mask and vaccine requirements, even when that message makes no sense whatsoever. State Rep. Tim Geitner (R-Colorado Springs) is all worked up about the idea that kidney transplant patients might first be required to get vaccinated against COVID-19, which to most rational people would seem to be a very logical and obvious request.

 

Colorado Republican Party Chairperson Kristi Burton Brown has some serious explaining to do after court documents revealed that KBB was the leader of FEC United, a far-right conspiracy group, right up until the point in which she started running for the job of GOP Chair. 9News has more on this story:

Burton Brown and the Colorado Republican Party did not respond to 9NEWS’ questions about FEC United, an election rigging conspiracy theory group, and its affiliated militia, the United American Defense Force.

The extent of Burton Brown’s involvement with FEC United was revealed by the group’s founder Joe Oltmann and current president, Stuart Butler, in sworn depositions in September and August, respectively…

…Oltmann testified that Burton Brown was president of FEC United in November 2020 while serving as vice-chair of the Colorado Republican Party and left FEC United to run for state party chair. She was elected to lead the state party in March 2021.

FEC United and the United American Defense Force are extreme right-wing groups with violent histories.

 

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Today’s Fake COVID Controversy: Want A Transplant? Get Vaxxed

Rep. Tim Geitner (R-Colorado Springs).

9NEWS reports on a policy instituted by the UCHealth system over the summer that should be uncontroversial, but in this age where medicine has been hopelessly politicized–especially where it concerns the COVID-19 pandemic–that just doesn’t happen anymore:

UCHealth confirmed Tuesday that organ transplant recipients and living donors must be vaccinated against COVID-19 “in almost all situations.”

In a statement, the hospital system said studies indicate the mortality rate for transplant recipients who test positive for COVID ranges from 18% to 32%, compared to a 1.6% mortality rate among all people who have tested positive. [Pols emphasis]

UCHealth said the policy change was driven by the significantly higher mortality rate, as well as the concern that living donors could still pass on a COVID infection after testing negative.

Clarification of this policy came after Republican state representative Tim Geitner threw a fit on social media, predictably looking to blame Gov. Jared Polis personally for UCHealth’s policy of requiring transplant candidates to be vaccinated–not just against COVID-19, but a host of other conditions along with numerous other rules transplant candidates follow out of medical necessity. From UCHealth’s statement yesterday in response to Geitner’s antics:

Transplant centers across the nation, including the UCHealth Transplant Center, have specific requirements in place to protect patients both during and after surgery. For example, patients may be required to receive vaccinations including hepatitis B, MMR and others. Patients may also be required to avoid alcohol, stop smoking, or prove they will be able to continue taking their anti-rejection medications long after their transplant surgery. These requirements increase the likelihood that a transplant will be successful and the patient will avoid rejection.

As for the objections from the patient and donor against being vaccinated before the kidney transplant can proceed? All we can ask is for readers to assess the legitimacy of these objections yourselves:

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Ron Hanks Will Attack And You Don’t Want That

“Raging” Rep. Ron Hanks (R).

As the Colorado Sun’s political tag team Sandra Fish and Jesse Paul report in case you missed the Friday news dump–the Republican Party’s substantial election-denying insurrection-downplaying conspiracy-theorizing Tina Petersdefending civil war-threatening history-mangling wing has a champion entering the ring for the 2022 U.S. Senate race, and you’d better get ready because if you don’t he might…um, well, physically break your neck:

State Rep. Ron Hanks, a controversial Republican who has peddled unfounded claims about the 2020 presidential election being fraudulent, on Friday filed to run for U.S. Senate.

“The U.S. Senate race needs to be shaken up a bit,” Hanks said in a text to The Colorado Sun… [Pols emphasis]

Folks, freshman GOP state Rep. “Raging” Ron Hanks doesn’t “shake up” the U.S. Senate 2022 Republican primary so much as take a sledgehammer to it. In less than a year in office, Hanks has gone from no-name absentee COVIDiot to the volume-11 voice of the hard right in the Colorado House GOP minority. Yes, Hanks’ attempt to remove House Minority Leader Hugh McKean failed. And yes, the “stolen election” Hanks was so sure had happened he thought that foreign intelligence services might swoop in to prevent Joe Biden’s inauguration still is lacking that vital component known as evidence.

But you understand none of that matters, right? At least not to the Republican primary voters Rep. Hanks is targeting his message at. Whatever a majority of Americans outside the conservative media message bubble may know to be factual, Hanks is poised to take advantage of one simple reality: a solid majority of rank-and-file Republicans believe the 2020 elections were stolen from Donald Trump.

As of today, Ron Hanks is the U.S. Senate candidate in Colorado willing to tell them so.

It is not a development we would recommend underestimating.

Get More Smarter on Friday (Oct. 1)

Happy “World Vegetarian Day.” Try the grilled cheese. Let’s Get More Smarter. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of an audio learner, check out The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter

 

CORONAVIRUS INFO…

*Colorado Coronavirus info:
CDPHE Coronavirus website 

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

*How you can help in Colorado:
COVRN.com

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

 

As Colorado Newsline reports, a debt limit disaster has been averted for the time being:

Congress made a last-minute dash to avert a government shutdown on Thursday, with the U.S. Senate and House approving a short-term spending bill just hours ahead of a midnight deadline.

Every Democratic and independent senator and 15 Republicans supported the bill in the 65-35 vote. The GOP senators in the “aye” tally included Bill Cassidy and John Kennedy of Louisiana; Susan Collins of Maine; Roy Blunt of Missouri; and Richard Burr and Thom Tillis of North Carolina. Both of Colorado’s senators — Michael Bennet and John Hickenlooper — are Democrats.

The House later passed the federal spending bill — which will keep government agencies funded at current levels through Dec. 3, and provide $28.6 billion in aid for regions struck by extreme weather — on a vote of 254-175.

All three Republican members of Colorado’s Congressional delegation — Lauren Boebert, Ken Buck, and Doug Lamborn — voted ‘NO.’

 

…But the slog continues. The Associated Press updates on efforts by Congressional Democrats to work out an infrastructure deal while avoiding a debt ceiling disaster that Republicans refuse to even discuss:

Democrats were back at it Friday, doggedly determined to rescue a scaled-back version of President Joe Biden’s $3.5 trillion government overhaul and salvage a related public works bill after a long night of frantic negotiations that resulted in no deal.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was gathering the party’s lawmakers for a private morning session to assess the path forward. She vowed there would be a “vote today” on the companion $1 trillion infrastructure bill that is popular but has become snared in the broader debate. But the situation was highly uncertain, and no schedule was set.

Holdout Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia sank hopes for a compromise late Thursday, despite hours of shuttle diplomacy with White House aides on Capitol Hill, when he refused to budge on his demands for a smaller overall package, around $1.5 trillion. That’s too meager for progressive lawmakers who are refusing to vote on the public works measure without a commitment to Biden’s broader framework on the bigger bill.

Meanwhile, Wisconsin Republican Sen. Ron Johnson again said the quiet part out loud regarding discussions on an infrastructure deal in Congress: The only Republican policy idea is performative obstruction:

 

If you could use a primer on all the drama in Congress, this rundown from The New York Times might be helpful:

 

 

State Republican Party Chair Kristi Burton Brown has been advising Colorado Republican candidates to avoid talking about Mesa C0unty Clerk and Recorder Tina Peters. This seems like perfectly reasonable advice, but KBB is doing it quietly because Republicans are still terrified of upsetting a base that believes deeply in “The Big Lie.”

 

If you’re not familiar with the “Eastman Memo,” then you should really get acquainted with the specifics.

 

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Don’t Do It, Lang!

Lang Sias (right) with GOP gubernatorial candidate Walker Stapleton in July 2018.

Colorado Republicans are having a difficult time finding candidates willing to run for statewide office in 2022. Since the GOP can’t manage to find anyone new who is willing to embrace the base and turn off everyone else, they are now looking at ways to recycle.

We’re just 14 months away from the 2022 election, and Republicans still need candidates for Attorney General, State Treasurer, and Secretary of State. As we’ve said many times in this space, the Republican bench in Colorado is a phone booth after two massive Democratic wave years that saw topline candidates pummeled by an average of 10 points. The candidates that Republicans DO have are a disaster, which certainly doesn’t help recruitment efforts; we wouldn’t want to share a ticket with Heidi Ganahl and Eli Bremer, either.

There haven’t been many rumors of potential candidates for Attorney General, where incumbent Democrat Phil Weiser has already raised more than $1.7 million for his re-election campaign. Republicans thought they had a candidate for Secretary of State (SOS) in former Mesa County Commissioner Rose Pugliese, but she decided against a run in part because of the Tina Peters disaster. Term-limited Larimer County Clerk and Recorder Angela Meyers is now rumored to be looking at challenging incumbent Democrat Jena Griswold, assuming Peters doesn’t run herself.

That leaves us with the office of State Treasurer, where the GOP is apparently going back to a well that has already turned up dry multiple times. That’s right, friends: Lang Sias still isn’t done getting kicked in the face by Colorado voters.

If you’re not familiar with Sias, that’s probably because he hasn’t had much success in Colorado politics. The 2020 election marked the first time in a decade that Sias was not a candidate for public office.

Sias has sought elected office in Colorado five times for four different seats. His only November victory came in 2016, when he was an “incumbent” State Representative by virtue of having been selected by a Republican vacancy committee a year earlier. Since 2010, Sias has lost races for State Senate (twice), Congress, and Lieutenant Governor; he didn’t even make it past the Primary Election in half of those contests.

The beatings will continue until Lang Sias improves.

 

So why would Sias return to the political stage in 2022? Because he…can? Honestly, we have no idea.

There are certainly some Republican political consultants who are telling Sias that he can totally beat Democratic incumbent Dave Young, which might be music to Lang’s ambitious ears. Of course, some of those consultants are probably the same people who told Sias that he could be a State Senator or a Congressman (they are also the same people who will read this and tell Sias that “Democrats are afraid of you,” as though anyone would be scared of a candidate with his track record of failure).

By most accounts, Sias seems to be a likable guy with big dreams but limited charisma who is more interesting to Republican power brokers than he is to Colorado voters. If Sias runs for Treasurer and can avoid a Republican Primary, maybe he can change his political fortunes. History would suggest otherwise.

We’re all guilty, from time to time, of listening to what we WANT to hear at the expense of what we NEED to hear. In Sias’ case, what he needs to hear is this: Maybe you should try something else.

Get More Smarter on Monday (Sept. 27)

The Denver Broncos have started the season 3-0 for the first time since 2016. We won’t remind you how that season ended. Let’s Get More Smarter. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of an audio learner, check out The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter

 

CORONAVIRUS INFO…

*Colorado Coronavirus info:
CDPHE Coronavirus website 

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

*How you can help in Colorado:
COVRN.com

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

 

A government shutdown in the middle of a pandemic that already has the nation’s economy on thin ice? That seems like a horrible idea, but Senate Republicans are hell bent on making it happen. From The Washington Post:

Senate Republicans on Monday prepared to block a bill that would fund the government, provide billions of dollars in hurricane relief and stave off a default in U.S. debts, part of the party’s renewed campaign to undermine President Biden’s broader economic agenda. [Pols emphasis]

The GOP’s expected opposition is sure to deal a death blow to the measure, which had passed the House last week, and threatens to add to the pressure on Democrats to devise their own path forward ahead of a series of urgent fiscal deadlines. A failure to address the issues could cause severe financial calamity, the White House has warned, potentially plunging the United States into another recession.

Ahead of the planned Monday vote, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) staked his party’s position — that Republicans are not willing to vote for any measure that raises or suspends the debt ceiling, even if they have no intentions of shutting down the government in the process. GOP lawmakers feel that raising the borrowing limit, which allows the country to pay its bills, would enable Biden and his Democratic allies to pursue trillions in additional spending and other policy changes they do not support.

The Republican Party platform in 2020 was basically just “do whatever Donald Trump wants.” In 2022, the platform appears to be, “oppose everything.”

 

Maps, maps, maps!

Colorado’s Independent Redistricting Commissions COULD finalize at least one proposed map today. Fox 31 Denver notes some late comments considered by commissioners on Friday, and Megan Verlee of Colorado Public Radio ponders the next steps in the process. John Aguilar of The Denver Post, meanwhile, focuses in on what the new CO-08 might look like when the lines are drawn in pen.

 

On Sunday, The Washington Post published an in-depth story on Mesa County Clerk and Recorder Tina Peters and her election-denying law breaking. Emma Brown’s story begins with a strange office requirement from Peters last spring:

In April, employees in the office that runs elections in western Colorado’s Mesa County received an unusual calendar invitation for an after-hours work event, a gathering at a hotel in Grand Junction. “Expectations are that all will be at the Doubletree by 5:30,” said the invite sent by a deputy to Tina Peters, the county’s chief elections official.

Speaking at the DoubleTree was Douglas Frank, a physics teacher and scientist who was rapidly becoming famous among election deniers for claiming to have discovered secret algorithms used to rig the 2020 contest against Donald Trump. Frank led the crowd in a rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner” and spent the next 90 minutes alleging an elaborate conspiracy involving inflated voter rolls, fraudulent ballots and a “sixth-order polynomial,” video of the event shows. He was working for MyPillow chief executive Mike Lindell, he said, and their efforts could overturn President Biden’s victory.

Being told to sit through a presentation of wild, debunked claims was “a huge slap in the face,” one Mesa County elections-division employee said of the previously unreported episode. “We put so much time and effort into making sure that everything’s done accurately,” the employee told The Washington Post, speaking on the condition of anonymity out of fear of retaliation. Peters, the elected county clerk, had expressed sympathy for such theories in the past, the employee said.

And ICYMI, former Secretary of State Scott Gessler is representing Peters in court…but we don’t yet know who is paying for his services. Charles Ashby of The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel has more on the intersection of Peters and QAnon.

 

The recently-concluded Arizona election audit confirmed what all rational people already knew: Joe Biden won the 2020 election for President. But now, a handful of nutty lawmakers from around the country are calling for NEW audits of the 2020 election in every state.

Colorado’s, uh, contributions to this letter include State Reps. Ron Hanks, Dave Williams, and Stephanie Luck.

 

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Get More Smarter on Thursday (Sept. 23)

Happy “Kyrgyz Language Day.” Please celebrate responsibly…and without vowels. Let’s Get More Smarter. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of an audio learner, check out The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter

 

CORONAVIRUS INFO…

*Colorado Coronavirus info:
CDPHE Coronavirus website 

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

*How you can help in Colorado:
COVRN.com

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

 

As The Washington Post reports, Congressional Republicans’ insistence on refusing to extend the debt ceiling means a government shutdown could be right around the corner:

The White House budget office will tell federal agencies on Thursday to begin preparations for the first shutdown of the U.S. government since the pandemic began, as lawmakers on Capitol Hill struggle to reach a funding agreement.

Administration officials stress the request is in line with traditional procedures seven days ahead of a shutdown and not a commentary on the likelihood of a congressional deal. Both Democrats and Republicans have made clear they intend to fund the government before its funding expires on Sept. 30, but time is running out and lawmakers are aiming to resolve an enormous set of tasks to in a matter of weeks.

House Democrats earlier this week approved a measure to fund the government, suspend the debt ceiling, and approve emergency aid such as disaster relief. But that plan is expected to die in the Senate amid GOP refusal to support Democratic attempts to lift the debt ceiling.

 

Congressperson Lauren “Q*Bert” Boebert has been using her campaign account as a personal slush fund since she was elected in November 2020. As The Denver Post reports, she’s doing it AGAIN:

Republican U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert paid rent and utility bills with campaign funds in violation of federal campaign finance laws, new filings with the Federal Election Commision show.

The filings, submitted to the FEC on Tuesday, also indicate that Boebert reimbursed her campaign for the $6,650 worth of payments. Representatives for the congresswoman could not immediately be reached for comment.

Each of the four payments in question (two for $2,000 each and another two for $1,325 each) were amended to show payments for the same amount, description and on the same days to John Pacheco, whose address is the same as Shooters Grill in Rifle, which Boebert owns. Pacheco’s relationship to Boebert was not immediately clear.

The latest discrepancy appeared in a July campaign finance report for the committee Lauren Boebert for Congress. Payments to Venmo were described as “Personal expense of Lauren Boebert billed to campaign account in error. Expense has been reimbursed.”

This is NOT LEGAL, as we’ve been explaining for months in this space.

 

 Since we’re on the subject of Boebert, here’s more about her potential involvement in efforts by former President Trump to overturn the 2020 election and, well, initiate a coup attempt.

 

A third, and perhaps final, version of a Congressional redistricting map is expected to be introduced today by nonpartisan staff of the Colorado Independent Redistricting Commission. A new draft version of a legislative redistricting map is also supposed to arrive today. As The Associated Press reports:

Colorado’s independent congressional redistricting commission has entered the final stretch in fashioning a map for the next decade that incorporates a new eighth district and tries to keep intact communities of interest, such as Hispanic and Latino voters and urban and rural economic interests. That and avoiding splitting cities and counties into separate districts headlined commission discussions Wednesday…

…Commissioners have a Sept. 28 deadline to approve a map and must submit it to the state Supreme Court by Oct. 1.

Final approval by the 12-member commission requires at least eight “yes” votes, including two unaffiliated commissioners. If the commission fails to submit a final map next week, a staff map must be submitted, without amendments, for judicial review. The court must approve a congressional redistricting map by Dec. 15, 2021.

 

The FDA has authorized COVID-19 booster shots for older Americans who have already received the Pfizer vaccines. Here in Colorado, you can get free at-home COVID-19 tests with a quick signup online.

 

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Never Change, Rocky Mountain Gun Owners

Lest you had any mistaken sense that Colorado Republicans were setting aside their differences ahead of a challenging midterm election next year, the irascible no-compromise gun rights group Rocky Mountain Gun Owners sets the record straight to commemorate World Rhino Day 2021:

Come on, it’s funny–and the Photoshopping could be worse! And it is in fact World Rhino Day.

Earlier this year, the GOP’s corporate wing beat back an insurgent attempt by far-right GOP House members led by freshman Rep. “Raging” Ron Hanks and backed by RMGO to unseat depicted “RINO” House Minority Leader Hugh McKean. The ill-advised failed scheme to opt the party out of Colorado’s open-ish primaries last weekend originated from the same party faction, and was once again vocally supported by RMGO’s leadership.

But if there’s one thing we from years of seeing RMGO in action, it’s that being smacked down by their fellow Republicans will never deter them. Smarting from defeat is historically when RMGO regroups to do the most damage. RMGO has always wielded the bulk of their power in Republican primaries, producing general election candidates who are either too unqualified to win or safe-seat embarrassments to the Republican brand who do damage beyond their own races. That’s one of the principal reasons they’ve become known as arguably one of the best unintentional assets Colorado Democrats have.

Smacked down though they may be, RMGO’s message to the Colorado GOP is clear: no peace in our times.

The Colorado Republican Party is Just One Big Conspiracy Now

If you are a Republican in Colorado, the “good news” and the “bad news” are remarkably similar these days. Whatever decisions are ultimately made about the future of the GOP, the individuals who are involved in the party are stuck in a bizarre negative feedback loop that doesn’t appear likely to end anytime soon. 

Let’s start with what could once have been objectively determined to be “good news.” On Saturday, Colorado Republicans managed to avoid disenfranchising more than a third of Colorado’s electorate when a majority of Republicans at a meeting of the State GOP central committee decided against opting out of the 2022 Primary election. As Jesse Paul reported for The Colorado Sun:

Colorado Republicans on Saturday rejected a contentious push to opt out of next year’s primaries, which would have blocked the state’s 1.7 million unaffiliated voters from helping to select the GOP’s 2022 general election candidates.

The vote, taken at a meeting in Pueblo of the party’s central committee members, was 241 opposed to opting out and 172 in favor, far less than the 75% support — or 380 votes — needed to pass.

The opt-out question received the support of just 34% of the Colorado GOP central committee. Backers of the initiative knew it was likely they would come up short of the 75% threshold, but were hoping to break 50% and send a clear message and potentially prompt a lawsuit challenging Colorado’s law allowing unaffiliated voters to participate in partisan primaries.

The central committee ultimately did vote to authorize the state party to file a legal challenge to the law, but it’s not clear if the lawsuit could proceed fast enough to affect the 2022 election. [Pols emphasis]

As you can see from that last paragraph, this fight still isn’t really over. By deciding to allow a lawsuit to go forward, Colorado Republicans kept alive a bugaboo that had been dividing the party faithful all summer. 

Backers of the primary opt-out included high-ranking members of the Colorado Republican Party, among them State Republican Party Secretary Marilyn Harris; State GOP Vice Chair Priscilla Rahn; and Republican National Committee member Randy Corporon. The State GOP Chair, however, was of the opinion that she should not have an opinion. As The Colorado Sun reported after Saturday’s vote:

“We are focused on 2022 and winning over all voters in Colorado,” Burton Brown said in a written statement after Saturday’s vote. She didn’t take a public position on the opt out question. [Pols emphasis]

That’s some bold leadership, Cotton. On the bright side, at least THIS GOP Chairperson hasn’t yet been accused of stealing money from GOP PACs.

Heidi Ganahl and Mesa County Clerk and Recorder Tina Peters.

Republican candidates seeking office in 2022 were equally divided on Saturday’s big issue. Gubernatorial candidate Heidi Ganahl, who is a member of the state GOP central committee, ducked questions about the subject for weeks before finally telling Ernest Luning of the publication formerly known as The Colorado Statesman that she would oppose opting out of the open primary. Fellow gubernatorial candidate Greg Lopez, however, didn’t respond to Luning’s request for comment. Republican Senate candidate Eli Bremer opposed opting out, but fellow Senate candidates Peter Yu and Erik Aadland both punted when asked to give an opinion. 

Colorado Republicans have a special talent for pointing fingers at others, and it is this distrust and paranoia that is the real lesson from Saturday’s central committee meeting. To hear Republicans explain things, everybody is out to get everybody else, and there’s no convincing them otherwise. 

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Disgraced GOP Hacks Still Monkeying With Redistricting Process

GOP operative Alan Philp.

As Colorado’s new independent redistricting commissions have ground through the work over the summer of drawing new maps for Colorado’s congressional and state legislative districts, Republican operatives working under a “dark money” front group known as the Colorado Neighborhood Coalition got caught red-handed trying to manipulate the process through undisclosed lobbying and pushing a flurry of Republican-favored maps through a variety of “independent” sources like the Colorado Farm Bureau.

Last month, a highly ill-advised recorded presentation from GOP state Rep. Matt Soper of Delta very frankly laid out the Republican redistricting power map, explaining how longtime GOP operatives Alan Philp, Frank McNulty, and Greg Brophy of the Colorado Neighborhood Coalition were actually in the employ of the Colorado Republican Party as well as the state House and Senate Republican caucuses to “represent our interests.” This isn’t new information but it’s useful to recap today:

QUESTION: Have you have you addressed the the matter of the extent to which the uh, this process has been influenced by the state GOP or people engaged by the state GOP?

SOPER: Yes, I’ll talk on that. So, the Colorado Republican Party, the House Republicans in the Hou-uh, Senate Republicans hired Alan Phillips [sic], Greg Brophy, and Frank McNulty to represent our interests. In speaking to all of them and and in listening to their presentations, their only goal is to increase the numbers in the State House and if possible increase numbers in the State Senate. [Pols emphasis]

Rep. Soper, as readers will recall, was bitterly angry at the time of this recording that fellow Republicans had called for Western Slope party faithful to “take one for the team” and allow for Delta County to be divided–presumably in the service of what Soper describes as the “only goal” of these operatives, which is to increase Republican numbers in the Colorado General Assembly:

SOPER: They are not concerned about the Western Slope, and as a matter of fact, anyone who is on the call with the state party who heard I think it was either Frank or Alan say, “Delta County is divided and you need to take one for the team.” They said that to Delta County’s Republican chair, Dave Bradford. I mean, that was just a slap in the face.

But as the Colorado Springs Gazette’s Evan Wyloge reported at the time, Philp objected strongly to Soper’s characterization, and in the end Soper is the one who knuckled under:

Philp told The Gazette Soper is just wrong, and that he’s upset that Soper said Colorado Neighborhood Coalition’s efforts were paid to represent Republican interests in redistricting. McNulty also said Soper was incorrect on the payment arrangement.

“It’s just factually incorrect,” Philp said. “I don’t know Matt Soper and I don’t know where he got that. We don’t work for the Republican Party. We don’t work for the House Republicans. We don’t work for the Senate Republicans. We’ve not received any money from them.”

Soper wrote that he now believes the information he passed along about Colorado Neighborhood Coalition is wrong. Under IRS rules, the organization does not have to specify who is funding it.

Down goes Soper! Unfortunately for him, and for that matter Philp and crew as well as the Colorado Republican Party, everyone knows Soper was right the first time–and the distinction between the “dark money” group organized to push for Republican-friendly maps and the Colorado GOP itself is little more than accounting fiction. It’s for all of these reasons and more that the “Colorado Neighborhood Coalition” is set to be thoroughly investigated by the Secretary of State for its activities.

But that doesn’t appear to be slowing Alan Philp down as the redistricting process heads toward the finish line. In addition to maps tied to Philp submitted by special-interest vassal (think Amendment 74) Colorado Farm Bureau, Philp is connected to several other map proposals recently submitted to the commission from less-obviously Republican names like disaffected ex-Rep. Kathleen Curry of Garfield County. The Colorado Sun reports today that yet another Philp-drawn map was submitted this weekend–which Philp claims to have “consulted” with the Colorado Latino Leadership, Advocacy, and Research Organization (CLLARO) on. Philp has said in response to questions about his “ubiquity” that he even helps people draw maps he doesn’t like:

“We train people on map drawing. We help people draw maps,” Philp told the commissioners at a July public input hearing in Lakewood. “I want to make it very clear that when I help people draw maps it’s their map not my map.”

If you believe that, we have a bridge to sell you.

Rep. Soper’s description of Alan Philp’s job, “to increase [GOP] numbers in the State House and if possible increase numbers in the State Senate,” should be taken at Soper’s word despite his subsequent attempts to backpedal. Amendments Y&Z governing this process are explicit that maps drawn to protect incumbents or gerrymander undeserved majorities are illegal.

At this point, every draft map tied to Alan Philp must be considered tainted.

Philp wears many hats, but he has only one job.

Get More Smarter on Thursday (Sept. 16)

Happy Mexican Independence Day. Please celebrate responsibly. Let’s Get More Smarter. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of an audio learner, check out The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter

 

CORONAVIRUS INFO…

*Colorado Coronavirus info:
CDPHE Coronavirus website 

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

*How you can help in Colorado:
COVRN.com

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

 

As The Colorado Sun reports, there’s a new proposed congressional redistricting map out for discussion:

The latest draft of Colorado’s congressional map avoids putting the state’s current U.S. House members into the same district, while creating a sweeping district across most of the Western Slope and southern Colorado. The new 8th Congressional District in the north Denver metro region would be nearly 39% Hispanic.

The new map released Wednesday groups most of the Western Slope and southern Colorado into a single, L-shaped 3rd Congressional District. Northwest high-country counties including Routt, Jackson, Eagle, Summit and Grand are grouped with Larimer and Boulder into a proposed 2nd Congressional District. And the new districts would no longer pit Garfield County Republican U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert against Democratic U.S. Rep. Joe Neguse of Lafayette.

And the proposed 7th District, now centered in the north and west metro area, would include much of Jefferson County but stretch to South Park in the central Rocky Mountains.

This new map is not without problems, as The Sun notes:

Morgan Carroll, chair of the Colorado Democratic Party, disputed the congressional commission’s formula for determining the political competitiveness of a district.

“Measuring competitiveness by focusing on strong years for one party and ignoring 2014 — which was a strong year for the other party — is simply wrong,” Carroll said in a statement. “As a result, this could very likely end up a 4-4 map after the midterms, which is in no way reflective of Colorado voters.”

The Independent Congressional Redistricting Commission will debate this new map tonight. If at least eight votes can’t be garnered, the nonpartisan staff will produce a third proposed map on Sept. 23. CLICK HERE to see Congressional Map #2.

In other redistricting news, the Colorado Secretary of State’s office is investigating potential illegal lobbying activity committed by a handful of well-known Republican operatives. The Colorado Times Recorder also has the full video of a ham-handed presentation that Republican Rep. Matt Soper gave to several Republicans in July.

 

Republican Heidi Ganahl announced her campaign for Governor on Tuesday and is off to the worst start for a statewide candidate in recent memory.

Former State Republican Party Chairman Dick Wadhams has some biting criticism that applies to Ganahl, as The Colorado Times Recorder reports:

A day after Heidi Ganahl, the newly minted GOP gubernatorial candidate, refused to tell reporters whether she thought the last year’s presidential election was legitimate, Wadhams said Republicans won’t be “credible in a general election” unless they say the election was not stolen.

“I think candidates ought to look at the reporter and say, ‘I do not believe the election was stolen. I do not believe we should ban 1.6 million unaffiliated voters from voting in the primary.’ And I think we just ought to take a stand on this because it’s defining our party,” Wadhams told Peter Boyles.

“I honestly think we’ve got to have strong candidates who were willing to say, no, the election was not stolen because that’s the only way they can be credible in a general election.”

You know Republicans are worried about Ganahl’s campaign when they immediately start blaming the media for her troubles.

 

The Denver Post reports on a significant new finding from the Colorado Attorney General’s office:

Colorado’s attorney general will require the Aurora Police Department to make sweeping reforms after a year-long investigation found officers’ pattern of racially biased policing and use of excessive force routinely violated state and federal law.

The department’s officers persistently arrested and injured Black individuals and other people of color at higher rates than white residents, according to the investigation released Wednesday.

Officers also routinely used excessive force against people unnecessarily, failed to de-escalate encounters and failed to properly document information about individuals they stopped as required by state law, the investigation found.

The department’s training and accountability structures are inadequate and create a culture of violence, according to investigators’ 112-page report.

Anyone who has been paying any attention to Aurora in the last couple of years will not likely be surprised by this report. Attorney General Phil Weiser wants to create a consent decree to allow his office to work with the Aurora PD on making widespread reforms.

 

As Denver7 reports, ICU capacity in Colorado hospitals has reached its lowest levels of the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

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Republican Redistricting Lobbyists Investigated by State SOS

GOP operative Alan Philp

As the redistricting process in Colorado lumbers along toward a theoretical conclusion early next month, we’ve been following in this space the story of some well-known Republican operatives who can’t seem to figure out how to lobby staff and members of Colorado’s two independent redistricting commissions without breaking the law.

Former House Speaker Frank McNulty, former State Sen. Greg Brophy, and longtime Republican consultant Alan Philp have made a number of very obvious mistakes in their ham-handed efforts to tilt the drawing of new legislative and congressional maps toward GOP interests. As Evan Wyloge reports for The Colorado Springs Gazette, there is apparently enough concern with their activities to justify an investigation from the Colorado Secretary of State’s office:

An investigation into whether a secretly funded nonprofit organization has been illegally lobbying the state’s redistricting commissioners will move forward, after the secretary of state reviewed a complaint filed against the group and found enough evidence to warrant a full probe. [Pols emphasis]

The decision to further investigate Colorado Neighborhood Coalition, the 501c4 nonprofit organization run by longtime Republican operatives at the center of the complaint, could have broad implications for the transparency now required around the redistricting process, and comes after several efforts to influence the redistricting commissions without full transparency have emerged…

…The complaint, filed in August by former Democratic lawmaker Stanley Matsunaka, accuses two Colorado Neighborhood Coalition employees — former House Speaker Frank McNulty and former state lawmaker Greg Brophy — of lobbying the commissioners without registering their activity or their clients. Matsunaka also accused a third Colorado Neighborhood Coalition employee, former Colorado Republican Party executive director and now political consultant Alan Philp, of failing to file proper disclosures of his lobbying activity, even though he is registered as the group’s lobbyist.

Philp responded to questions from Wyloge by predictably calling the investigation a “partisan” attack before offering this amusing excuse:

Philp added that he believes he was told in an email by the Secretary of State’s Office, after the complaint was filed, that his disclosures were sufficient.

You have an email from the Secretary of State’s office, eh? Is there a reason you didn’t bother to save a copy of this email? This might have been a good thing to keep in your files if such a thing actually existed.

In related news, The Colorado Times Recorder posted the full video of a redistricting lobbyist training conducted in July by Republican State Rep. Matt Soper. This is the training in which Soper prefaces his comments to people involved in the training by saying, “I never want you to mention that you heard this coming from me.”

The net effect of all these shenanigans from Republicans is to shine a light back on their own partisan interference in the redistricting process, which is something that makes redistricting commissioners and staff very nervous…and absolutely isn’t going to help them in trying to get new maps drawn in their favor.

Never Forget GOP Carping Over The Isabella Joy Thallas Act

Isabella Joy Thallas.

As Denver7’s Stephanie Butzer reports, an important gun safety bill passed in the 2021 session of the Colorado General Assembly takes effect today: the Isabella Joy Thallas Act requiring gun owners whose weapons are lost or stolen to report that loss within 5 days of becoming aware of it:

The Isabella Joy Thallas Act, which requires gun owners to report lost or stolen firearms to law enforcement within five days of realizing its missing, goes into effect in Colorado on Tuesday.

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis signed the bill in April. Earlier that month, the Colorado House on Monday passed the Lost or Stolen Firearms bill (SB21-078), which was renamed via an amendment to its current name of the Isabella Joy Thallas Act.

In June 2020, Thallas was shot and killed in Denver allegedly by a 36-year-old man who had taken a firearm from a Denver police officer he knew. He yelled at Thallas and her boyfriend about their dog defecating on the ground near an apartment complex before opening fire on them, according to a probable cause statement for his arrest. The suspect pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity in March.

Passage of Senate Bill 21-078, renamed the Isabella Joy Thallas Act after the facts of that case underscored the need for such a law during the legislative session, came over the objections of every single Republican in the Colorado General Assembly. The Denver Post’s Saja Hindi reported in April on GOP arguments against the bill:

Republican lawmakers all voted against the bill. Only GOP Rep. Shane Sandridge of Colorado Springs voted for the renaming, but against the bill itself. He said it’s unclear whether this bill would have made a difference for Thallas, and believes the likely changes to the state’s gun laws held in the bill are a violation of the Second Amendment.

“There’s issues with the bill that my constituents had concerns about (like) keeping more stringent records of people who own guns,” he said.

AP reported from the Colorado Senate:

Senate Republicans, including Jim Smallwood, wondered how the bill would reduce gun violence if a missing weapon is already on the streets. Others said it might criminalize gun owners who themselves are victims of the crime of theft.

In both cases, these arguments are directly refuted by the Thallas murder case. The allegedly stolen weapon used to kill Isabella Thallas was owned by a Denver Police officer who has since resigned from the force. Obviously, a police officer’s higher responsibility to keep track of their weapons (department-issued or not) negates all of these objections–and compared to the alternative of lives being lost, “criminalizing” the failure to report the loss or theft of anybody’s gun in the form of a $25 fine seems like a feeble objection indeed. If anything, a $25 civil penalty isn’t nearly enough.

Like we said last spring, the fierce objections by Republicans to what amounts to a very modest and common-sense gun safety reform only please a small minority of the electorate. The absolute loyalty of Republicans to the gun lobby is at its most unpalatable to voters in these debates over proposals that, like reporting stolen guns and properly storing guns in homes with children, many voters are surprised to learn aren’t already the law.

By refusing to consider even the most modest and broadly supported gun safety measures, Republicans rob themselves of both bargaining power and credibility. In so doing, they increasingly squander what has been a traditional political advantage.

The days of Dudley Brown are over.

Get More Smarter on Wednesday (September 1)

Welcome to September. Let’s Get More Smarter. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of an audio learner, check out The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter

 

CORONAVIRUS INFO…

*Colorado Coronavirus info:
CDPHE Coronavirus website 

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

*How you can help in Colorado:
COVRN.com

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

*Coloradans can now get a COVID-19 vaccine at one of six locations without a prior appointment. 

 

There’s good news and bad news on the COVID-19 front, as The Aurora Sentinel explains:

As of Tuesday 75% of Colorado adults have received at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose, but for children who are too young to be vaccinated, their risk from the virus is as high as it has been since the pandemic started.

At a Tuesday news conference to discuss the coronavirus, state epidemiologist Dr. Rachel Herlihy said that Colorado has seen a “pretty rapid rise in pediatric cases” beginning in July.

“This is the first time in the pandemic that we’re really seeing this high rate in children,” she said…

…Unvaccinated people make up the majority of hospitalizations, said Scott Bookman, Colorado’s COVID-19 incident commander. The hospitalization rate of the unvaccinated is seven times that or people who are fully vaccinated.

CNN has more on the concerning rise of COVID cases among children:

Contrary to research early in the pandemic, children are just as likely to become infected as adults. According to the CDC, Covid-19 infection rates for adolescents aged 5 to 17 were as high as in adults 18 to 49, and higher than rates in adults over 50.

There have been 4.8 million cases of Covid-19 in children since April 2020, according to the American Association of Pediatrics, making up about 15% of all documented cases in the United States. In the last month, the number of new weekly cases has surged to near-peak levels.

Areas across the country with lower than average vaccination rates are experiencing higher increases in Covid-19 cases among children. In Mississippi, where only 37.7% of residents are fully vaccinated, there has been a 29% increase in cumulative Covid-19 cases in children over the past two weeks.

 

The United States military presence in Afghanistan officially came to an end this week. Colorado Public Radio has reaction from some of the members of Colorado’s congressional delegation. As Axios reports, Denver ranks among the most popular locations for Afghan refugees relocating to the United States.

While boots may be off the ground in Afghanistan, the political infighting continues — driven in large part by a wave of misinformation propagated by Republicans.

Meanwhile, President Biden previewed a new foreign policy goal in a speech defending the withdrawal of forces from Afghanistan. As The New York Times reports, Biden’s speech points to the end of a long era of attempts at nation-building.
 

Congressperson Lauren “Q*Bert” Boebert (R-ifle) almost seems determined to find a way to get herself into legal trouble. As The Colorado Sun reports:

Boebert has removed her name from business paperwork linked to the oil and gas consulting firm run by her husband, Jayson, after drawing scrutiny for nearly $1 million in payments it received from Terra Energy, a drilling company operating in her district…

…The changes, made after The Colorado Sun reported the congresswoman’s ties to Boebert Consulting, distance Boebert from the two companies, which are registered to the couple’s home in Silt. But it’s not clear what ownership or stake, if any, Lauren Boebert has in either company.

A spokesperson for Boebert’s congressional office did not answer a question last month about whether the congresswoman is an owner of Boebert Consulting, and did not respond to requests for comment Tuesday.

This sure seems like an admission of wrongdoing on Boebert’s part regarding the mysterious new wealth she recently reported from her husband, Jayson. This comes at a time when her various scandals are piling up quickly and attracting a new level of national attention.

As if Boebert didn’t have enough problems, she learned this week that she is among the Republican Members of Congress who are being investigated for their role in the January 6th insurrection.

 

National Public Radio reports on a new abortion ban in Texas that went into effect today:

With the U.S. Supreme Court mum, a new law went into effect in Texas that bans abortions after about six weeks of pregnancy. That’s well before many women even know they are pregnant.

The law allows private citizens to sue abortion providers and anyone else who helps a woman obtain an abortion — including those who give a woman a ride to a clinic or provide financial assistance to obtain an abortion. Private citizens who bring these suits don’t need to show any connection to those they are suing.

The law makes no exceptions for cases involving rape or incest.

If federal courts allow the Texas abortion ban to stand, other states around the country will likely move swiftly to enact similar bans of their own. As The Daily Beast notes, this is a hugely significant moment for reproductive rights in America.

 

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The Dumbassery Continues for GOP Redistricting Consultants

Last week we discussed the story of the bumbling Republican “consultants” working to influence the drawing of new Congressional and legislative district maps through the Colorado Independent Redistricting Commissions. Through a series of bad decisions and “don’t say that out loud” moments, Republicans gave an already-jittery nonpartisan redistricting staff plenty of reason to question the impartiality of certain communities and organizations trying to influence the final map-making process.

Together, these four stooges — former House Speaker Frank McNulty, former State Sen. Greg Brophy, Republican consultant Alan Philp, and State Rep. Matt Soper — shone a spotlight on blatant Republican interference in the redistricting process. As we wrote on August 25:

All of this partisan posturing from Republicans will likely (and rightly) cause both nonpartisan staff and commissioners to worry about the appearance of being inappropriately swayed by undisclosed Republican lobbying efforts.

If the commission is worried about the appearance of partisan influence from Republicans, then they are likely to give extra scrutiny to any map boundaries that might so much as appear to be advantageous to the GOP. This, of course, is the exact opposite outcome from what Republicans were hoping to achieve in this process.

Now that you’re caught up, let’s look at how things just got even worse for Philp and the gang. As Evan Wyloge reports for The Colorado Springs Gazette, the fumbling and bumbling continues:

Days after a formal complaint accused a secretly funded nonprofit organization of violating redistricting lobbying disclosure laws, a video recording obtained by The Gazette reveals the same group helped craft maps proposed by the prominent Colorado Farm Bureau, contradicting what the Farm Bureau’s president told the state’s redistricting commissioners. [Pols emphasis]

The Farm Bureau president Carlyle Currier told the state’s independent redistricting commissioners on Aug. 19 that he was there to present his organization’s map proposal, which aligned with their advocacy for “the interests of farmers, ranchers and real Colorado.” And he told the commissioners that his submission came solely from his group: “I want to note that these maps were created by our staff, and only myself and our vice president have reviewed them.”

Alan Philp

But in a video training recorded two days earlier on Aug. 17 for a group of Pueblo County Republicans, Colorado Neighborhood Coalition’s registered lobbyist Alan Philp presented a map that he said in the video he expected would be presented at the Pueblo hearing, two days later.

“This is a map of Southern Colorado that is probably similar to one that you’ll see on Friday that is being proposed by someone,” Philp said in the video training. “I don’t know that he has agreed to do it yet, so I’m not going to share his name, but it keeps Pueblo County whole, and then the rest of Southern Colorado — east of the San Juans and Wolf Creek Pass, the San Luis Valley, Fremont, into the lower Ark — makes for a perfect Southern Colorado district. So that’s kind of what we’re hoping it ends up as.”

Philp and the Colorado Farm Bureau’s president have since told The Gazette that Philp was referencing the Colorado Farm Bureau’s map proposals, and that Philp helped the group draw the maps, which was previously not publicly disclosed by either group. [Pols emphasis]

In short, the Colorado Farm Bureau presented maps to the redistricting commissions that were supposed to only represent Farm Bureau interests but were actually another example of partisan plans sketched out by Republican consultants. And as Philp acknowledged to The Gazette, there are plenty more examples of this partisan coordination:

Philp said he’s helped others draw maps, including maps he said he doesn’t like, but he said it would be inappropriate to provide a list of all the groups or individuals he’s worked with. [Pols emphasis]

D’oh! 

Usually this sort of slow drip of negative news is something that you would try to engineer AGAINST a political opponent in order to inflict maximum damage. We can’t recall a recent example of a partisan campaign or group doing this to itself.

The Colorado Independent Redistricting Commissions are expected to release new draft maps over the course of the next two weeks.

Get More Smarter on Friday (August 27)

We’re almost three-quarters of the way through 2021. Let’s Get More Smarter. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of an audio learner, check out The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter

 

CORONAVIRUS INFO…

*Colorado Coronavirus info:
CDPHE Coronavirus website 

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

*How you can help in Colorado:
COVRN.com

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

*Coloradans can now get a COVID-19 vaccine at one of six locations without a prior appointment. 

 

 One day after a bombing at an airport in Afghanistan that claimed the lives of 13 U.S. service members, Marine Gen. Kenneth “Frank” McKenzie, head of U.S. Central Command, indicated that more attacks are expected to come from “ISIS-K.” The New York Times explains everything you need to know about “ISIS-K,” the different flavor of ISIS that is responsible for the attack in Kabul.

On Thursday, President Biden promised that the U.S. would retaliate against ISIS-K for the suicide bombing attack that killed more than 100 people in total. From The Washington Post:

In emotional comments at the White House, Biden made clear that the attack would not cause him to rethink his strategy. Rather, he said, it reinforced his belief that the war must end and that the evacuation must proceed. He framed the deaths as the sacrifice of heroes performing a noble mission, and he suggested that any move to cut short the evacuation of Americans and their Afghan supporters would amount to caving to the terrorists.

“I bear responsibility for, fundamentally, all that has happened,” Biden said, addressing the nation hours after the deadly attack. His voice broke as he invoked Scripture, history and personal loss to decry the double suicide bombing at the entrance to the Kabul airport, which stands as the last small acreage controlled by the United States in Afghanistan nearly 20 years after the war began.

Biden promised to track down the killers responsible for the massacre, who he suggested were members of the terrorist group ISIS-K. “To those who carried out this attack: We will not forgive,” he said. “We will not forget. We will hunt you down and make you pay.”

 

Congressman Jason Crow (D-Aurora) addressed Thursday’s attack in Kabul in an interview with MSNBC. The former Army Ranger who served in Afghanistan reaffirmed his belief that the withdrawal of U.S. forces was the correct decision, but stressed that the U.S. must remember its obligation to Afghanistan allies.

 

 As The Associated Press reports, the U.S. Supreme court ruled that evictions may resume in this country after a long COVID-related moratorium.

In related news, Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell indicated that it might be time to start thinking about scaling back stimulus efforts as the economy continues to show signs of improvement even amidst another surge of COVID-19 cases.

 

As The Colorado Sun reports in its “Unaffiliated” newsletter, the Vice Chair of the Colorado Republican Party, Priscilla Rahn, has come out in support of efforts to cancel the GOP Primary Elections in order to help ensure that only the most strident right-wing candidates can win the Republican nomination for basically every elected office. This is a terrible idea for Republicans that is opposed by many moderates, but supporters such as Rahn believe that the only way forward for the GOP is to lurch ever rightward.

 

 The Denver Post asks the same question that has been top of mind for many Colorado politicos lately: WHERE IS TINA PETERS?

The Mesa County Clerk and Recorder has been hiding in an undisclosed location for weeks since being investigated for helping to break in to election computers in order to prove some sort of cockamamie argument about 2020 election fraud. Peters and her supporters have insisted that she is on the lam because of concerns for her personal safety, but a recent review of emails received by the Mesa Clerk’s office indicates that this is complete nonsense.

 

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Get More Smarter on Thursday (August 26)

Teddy! Let’s Get More Smarter. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of an audio learner, check out The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter

 

CORONAVIRUS INFO…

*Colorado Coronavirus info:
CDPHE Coronavirus website 

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

*How you can help in Colorado:
COVRN.com

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

*Coloradans can now get a COVID-19 vaccine at one of six locations without a prior appointment. 

 

Now that the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine has received full approval from the FDA, Republicans are having a hard time trying to figure out where to stand on the issue of mandatory vaccinations. As The Washington Post explains:

In the days since the FDA’s authorization and Biden’s call, Republicans who have otherwise fought tooth and nail against vaccine mandates have been surprisingly quiet about the prospect of employer mandates. And the few who have spoken out have generally said employers should be allowed to implement them.

The issue has played out in recent weeks and months in a number of states, with some lawmakers pushing for bans on mandates. But unlike the party’s posture toward school mask mandates, government vaccine mandates and vaccine passports, there is little cohesion on this subject. So far, only one state bans employer vaccine mandates: Montana…

…[South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem] essentially said conservatives should give businesses the freedom to take this step. And that’s going to be a tough pill to swallow for a Republican base that has been spoon-fed anti-mandate rhetoric — often tinged with conspiracy theories — by its leaders for so long.

Supporting pre-emptive bans on vaccine mandates doesn’t really jibe with “conservative” ideals to leave private businesses alone to make their own decisions. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, however, is plowing ahead anyway.

 

Congressperson Lauren “Q*Bert” Boebert (R-ifle) is facing new calls for investigations related to her bizarre disclosure last week in which she apparently remembered that her husband, Jayson, gets paid a half-million dollars a year to “consult” for an oil and gas company.

 

The redistricting process in Colorado is (finally) nearing its final stages. This is bad news for Republicans, who picked a terrible time to get caught breaking the law on lobbying disclosures.

In related news, Bente Birkland of Colorado Public Radio looks at how a supposedly nonpartisan redistricting process is being corrupted by partisanship:

Colorado’s new redistricting process was intended to replace politicians with independent commissioners, and party interests with public input. But recent developments show there are still plenty of ways for partisans to try to influence the process.

On Tuesday, Democratic attorney Mark Grueskin filed a complaint against three prominent Colorado Republicans — former state sen. Greg Brophy, former state House Speaker Frank McNulty, and Alan Philp with the Colorado Neighborhood Coalition — alleging that they have been trying to influence the state’s redistricting process without properly disclosing their efforts.

The complaint filed on behalf of a voter in Larimer county, alleges the men either failed to properly register as lobbyists while conducting meetings related to redistricting and proposing ideas for maps, or they didn’t disclose income.

Colorado Republicans are trying to convince Mesa County Clerk and Recorder Tina Peters to end her time on the lam and return to Colorado to face the music for allegedly compromising election security in a ham-handed attempt to prove some sort of 2020 election fraud. The Washington Post has more on how a nutty conspiracy theory is causing real-world security problems in Mesa County.

The office of Colorado’s Attorney General has joined in the investigation of Peters. The Colorado Secretary of State’s office, the Mesa County District Attorney, and the FBI are already looking into Peters’ misdeeds.

 

Senator Michael Bennet (D-Denver) is touring Colorado and getting an earful from residents about Climate Change worries.

Meanwhile, Colorado Newsline’s Chase Woodruff reports that Bennet’s 2022 re-election campaign is cruising along with solid fundraising and little Republican opposition.

 

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