DeGette Nabs Notable Endorsement

Rep. Diana DeGette (left) and Crisanta Duran

Politics is often compared to chess, and for good reason. A successful political campaign requires sound strategy and foresight to cut off your opponent at the most opportune moments.

This analogy is particularly apt in light of a notable endorsement today in the Democratic Primary race for CO-1. Incumbent Rep. Diana DeGette (D-Denver) picked up the endorsement of the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW), one of the largest labor unions in Colorado. From a press release:

Today, the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 7 Union announced their endorsement of Congresswoman Diana DeGette as she seeks re-election in 2020. UFCW Local 7 President, Kim Cordova, announced the endorsement at their union hall alongside Congresswoman DeGette and Local 7 members.

“United Food and Commercial Workers Local 7 is proud to announce our Endorsement of Diana DeGette, a proven workers champion for another term. Diana shares our core values through her advocacy for affordable and quality healthcare, gender equity, raising the minimum wage and workers’ rights. Colorado needs her continued strong leadership in Congress to fight for workers and to ensure Labor has a voice.” – UFCW Local 7 President Kim Cordova…

…UFCW Local 7 is Colorado’s largest labor union representing Supermarkets, Packing Houses, Food Processing Plants, Barbers and Cosmetologists and Healthcare facilities. Large employers in Congressional District One include Mission Tortillas, King Soopers, and Safeway.

The significance of this endorsement will be obvious to longtime political observers. It was nearly 10 years ago to the day that Ernie Duran, Jr. — UFCW’s longest-standing President — was voted out of office after charges of nepotism. As the Denver Post reported on September 22, 2009:

During the contentious battle over the “right to work” ballot measure last year, reports surfaced about nepotism within the union under Duran’s leadership.

In 2007, Crisanta Duran was paid $133,410 and Ernie Duran’s son, Ernie Duran III, was paid $134,378 as an executive staff member, according to Labor Department filings. The elder Duran earned $162,368 that year.

“The nepotism was a big issue with the workers — Ernie hiring his family and putting them into high-paid positions,” Cordova said.

Allegations surfaced this year about misspent union funds.

Duran’s daughter is Crisanta Duran, who picked up the job as UFCW’s staff attorney not long after she graduated from law school. Duran would later earn a seat in the State House of Representatives, where she served as the first Latina Speaker of the House in Colorado (2017-19). Earlier this year Duran announced that she was mounting a Primary challenge against DeGette, the longest-serving member of Colorado’s Congressional delegation.

Duran kicked off her CO-1 campaign with much fanfare but has failed to gain any momentum against DeGette; Duran has posted a couple of miserable fundraising quarters and lost out on the endorsement of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, which backed DeGette in July.

Given the controversy that surrounded the elder Duran’s departure from UFCW, it was probably unlikely that Crisanta Duran was ever going to earn the support of the grocery workers’ union — but it’s not insignificant that the UFCW decided to publicly back DeGette. In every political campaign, some endorsements mean more than others. For Denver politicos — the sort of voters that DeGette and Duran will be fighting over next spring — this is one of those endorsements.

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Bernice King Slams Denver GOP Chair Over Sick Sniper Crack

UPDATE: A statement from the Denver Republican Party chairwoman Kristina Cook acknowledges the clap back from Bernice King but blames the controversy on rascal Democrats on social media– while admitting both the photo and the comment are accurate if not originally meant to be, you know, viewed together:

On Tuesday, as happens too often in the current political climate, a comment made as part of an online conversation was photoshopped to appear connected with a photo taken 3 years ago. This action was taken in an effort to misrepresent the intent of my comment. I wish the thread was still available for people to judge for themselves, but in the interest of maintaining this ruse, the other party has deleted the thread.

Regardless of the context of the conversation, my comment about Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. drew the attention of Dr. Bernice King. Her tweet helped me understand that while I wish that he’d had a protective detail on that day so that he’d still be with us, that would not have been her father’s wish. I have reached out privately to Dr. King to thank her for helping me understand her father’s perspective. I will also be issuing a public response to her tweet following an opportunity to speak with her further.

We could use Dr. Martin Luther King’s presence in this divided world. Doctored memes like the one being circulated of me only serve to increase the division, when in a case like this both sides share the same ultimate respect for Dr. King. The Denver County Republican Party will continue to reach a hand over that divide in the hopes that we can join others looking to find unity, peace and healing for our community.

We must have missed the “unity, peace, and healing” part, because we surer than hell never saw it here.

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We were forwarded a Facebook post attributed to Denver Republican Party chairwoman Kristina Cook from a couple of days ago that, whether it was intended as a throwaway line in an unrelated argument or whatever the purpose was, has now become a major embarrassment for Republicans nationally after being denounced last night by Bernice King, the youngest daughter of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr:

So first of all–actually second after we note how gratuitously offensive this post is in any context–we’re curious whether this photo was taken in the City and County of Denver, which has had an assault weapon ban in place for many years. We’re not lawyers, but we do know that Denver’s assault weapons ban has withstood plenty of legal challenges–and it’s possible this photo was not a good idea for Denver GOP chairwoman Cook for very straightforward criminal liability reasons.

Setting that issue aside, the idea that Dr. King would have wanted a “a sniper on his side” on April 4th, 1968 when he was killed by a white man with a high-powered rifle is sufficiently ignorant of everything King stood for that we believe his daughter’s powerful rebuttal is absolutely sufficient. If Denver or other Colorado Republicans possess any residual shame, we expect to be hearing from them soon as well.

Regretfully.

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Another Brutal Fundraising Quarter for Duran in CO-1

Fundraising reports for the second quarter of 2019 are now available, so it’s time to take another look at the Democratic Primary in CO-1 (Denver) between Crisanta Duran and incumbent Rep. Diana DeGette.

The good news for Duran is that she had a better fundraising quarter than she did her first time around. The bad news is rough: Duran is still nowhere close to a six-figure fundraising quarter, and she’s spending almost as much money as she’s bringing in to her campaign.

DeGette’s $207k fundraising quarter is unimpressive, to say the least, but it is nevertheless $50k more than Duran has raised during her entire campaign. Here’s how we assessed Duran’s campaign in April after her miserable initial fundraising performance:

Momentum and money go hand-in-hand in politics. Duran has neither, and she’s now in a position where she’ll need a very strong Q2 just to remain somewhat viable heading into the dead summer of an off-year. If Duran doesn’t at least quadruple her Q1 numbers, what had looked to be an interesting race will be all but over a year before the Primary Election.

This fundraising disparity, combined with DeGette’s endorsement from the Congressional Hispanic Caucus earlier this month, will make it difficult for Duran to continue to mount a real challenge in CO-1. The only real mystery left here is to see how long Duran can even stay in the race.

It ain’t over until it’s over, as the saying goes…but this is about as close as it gets.

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The Wrath of the Maths: What Really Happened in Denver

Michael Hancock and Jamie Giellis

This is a blog of words. Sure, we talk numbers now and then, mostly as it relates to polling or margins of victory (or The Big Line); but to the extent that we have any expertise, it is definitely more with words than numbers.

So it is with fair warning that we jump into a weird math problem that keeps showing up in analysis of the Denver Mayor’s race.

We started seeing this analysis more regularly after Lisa Calderon and Penfield Tate endorsed Giellis in the runoff, forming what headline writers liked to call a “Unity Ticket.” This idea picked up steam heading into the final weekend of the runoff, as Joe St. George wrote for Fox 31 Denver last week:

At the very basic level, Hancock faces a math disadvantage going into Tuesday’s runoff.

60% of voters who participated in the May election voted for someone other than Hancock. Hancock received around 40%.

The recipients of most of that vote were Penfield Tate, Lisa Calderon and Jaime Giellis. Giellis finished second with 25%.

59,000 people voted for Tate and Calderon.

Both of those candidates have endorsed Giellis. Do the voters follow? Or does Hancock steal enough votes away?

This is all wrong, but more on that in a moment. There is a similar view in a post-election analysis of the race in today’s Denver Post:

 

(more…)

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Denver Runoff Election Night Open Thread

(Still) Denver Mayor Michael Hancock

UPDATE (9:41 pm): Jamie Giellis has conceded the race for Denver Mayor to incumbent Michael Hancock.

The race for Clerk and Recorder remains too close to call, while Candi CdeBaca (District 9) and Chris Hinds (District 10) appear to be pulling away.

—–

 
UPDATE (7:45 pm): Early returns show Denver Mayor Michael Hancock with a 55-44 lead over challenger Jamie Giellis. Unless Giellis captured most of the votes cast today (which are counted/reported last), Hancock probably survives.

The race for Clerk and Recorder is neck-and-neck, as are contests in District 9 (incumbent Albus Brooks and challenger Candi CdeBaca) and District 10 (incumbent Wayne New and challenger Chris Hinds).

—–
 

Let’s end this thing.

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Poll: Who Will Win The Denver Mayoral Runoff?

The endgame of the 2019 Denver municipal elections arrives next Tuesday. In addition to several runoffs in City Council races, incumbent Mayor Michael Hancock faces challenger Jamie Giellis in one of the nastiest, craziest, and sometimes downright silliest Denver mayoral showdowns in memory.

A poll follows: who will be the next Mayor of Denver? As with all of our totally unscientific pre-election reader surveys, please tell us what you actually think will happen, not simply your desired outcome. That steam is better blown off in the comments section.

Happy voting!

Who will win the Denver mayoral runoff?
Michael Hancock
Jamie Giellis
View Result
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Of Camping and Campaign Bans

For Denver Mayoral candidate and occasional voter Jamie Giellis, the good news and the bad news are one in the same: The Denver runoff election finally concludes on Tuesday.

We’ve noted a few times in this space that Giellis is running what you could call a “nontraditional” campaign — which is a nice way of saying that she’s been a mess as a candidate. Both Giellis and incumbent Mayor Michael Hancock have ratcheted up the negative campaigning in recent weeks, though many of the wounds being suffered by the Giellis camp are self-inflicted. Take, for example, this mail piece that arrived in the mailboxes of Denver voters today:

 

First, let’s get to the unfortunate error: An extra ‘a’ and a few other misplaced consonants drastically change the meaning of this mail piece.

The irony of this copy-editing mistake is that it is a pretty good summation of Giellis’ all-over-the-place position on homelessness and the Urban Campaign Camping Ban. Ahead of the first round of balloting in Denver, Giellis was clear that she SUPPORTED ending the Urban Camping Ban but DID NOT SUPPORT Initiative 300 (which was commonly called “The Urban Camping Ban Initiative”). This was on April 28, 2019:

But as you can see in the mail piece above, Giellis now says that she DOES NOT support a repeal of the Urban Camping Ban, though she stands by her opposition on the now-deceased Initiative 300. Furthermore, Giellis claims that Hancock is lying when he says that she once DID support a repeal…even though she very clearly had no problem opposing it a month ago and several news outlets (including the Denver Post and 9News) have noted that she appears to have flip-flopped on the issue.

On the other hand, you could argue that the mail piece above contradicts itself at least once on Urban Camping Bans, so who can really say what her position actually entails?

On the other (other) hand, perhaps Giellis really means to propose an Urban CAMPAIGN Ban. After this election cycle, Denver voters might agree.

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Words Mean Things, Wayne New Edition

Denver City Councilman Wayne New.

Denverite reports on another race-related faceplant by another conservative figure in always-entertaining Denver politics, this time Councilman Wayne New’s self-proclaimed ignorance of things he…well, calls himself:

City Councilman Wayne New said he was once a Dixiecrat, aligning himself with a racist splinter group of the Democratic party that opposed integration, during a District 10 forum Thursday night.

After challenger Chris Hinds questioned New’s politics, the incumbent responded, “This is a nonpartisan race and politics don’t enter into it and I don’t know why you’re bringing it into it so strongly. I’ve been a Republican, I’ve been a Democrat, I’ve been a Dixiecrat, I’ve been an independent now for six or seven years.”

On Friday, New, who is from Georgia, apologized in a statement. He told Denverite that he would not have used the term had he known what it meant.

“I feel like an idiot,” he said in an interview. “The only thing I ever knew about Dixiecrats is what my parents told me — that a Dixiecrat is conservative fiscally and cared about social issues. [Pols emphasis] I always thought it was so positive.”

Okay so, that’s not what a “Dixiecrat” actually is–or was, we say hopefully while unfortunately aware that the term and type are not completely extinct in Wayne New’s native state of Georgia. But for those who weren’t paying attention during this part of 20th Century American history class, the “Dixiecrats” weren’t really concerned with fiscal policy at all. What motivated the Dixiecrats was the single “social issue” of preserving racial segregation, and the desire by Southern states to fend off federal intervention in the Jim Crow legal framework that systematically oppressed African Americans.

If you didn’t already know the history of the Dixiecrats and the peak of their segregationist movement in the 1948 presidential elections, click here and let Google do the educating! It should be noted that Wayne New has changed his political stripes over the years the way most people change socks, switching from Republican to independent just months before his 2015 City Council campaign. But that only reinforces the moral of the story, which is that you really, really need to know what these terms mean before you use them.

Especially to describe yourself.

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Jamie Giellis: A Streetcar Named Disaster

FRIDAY UPDATE: This headline in the Denver Post sums up an awful week for Giellis:

Elsewhere, this interview with Kyle Clark of 9News demonstrates that Giellis still has no idea how to deal with her own blunders:

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Giellis’ Mayoral campaign is a train wreck streetcar wreck.

This week started out pretty good for Denver Mayoral candidate, streetcar enthusiast, and occasional voter Jamie Giellis, who is campaigning ahead of a June 4 runoff election against incumbent Mayor Michael Hancock. On Monday, Giellis held a rally to announce the support of former Mayoral candidates Lisa Calderon and Penfield Tate in a show of unity against Hancock.

After that, everything went off the rails.

On Tuesday, Giellis participated in a live interview on Brother Jeff Fard’s webcast focused on African-American issues in Denver. Giellis was asked about her knowledge of the “NAACP,” and she made it clear that she didn’t have the slightest idea what the acronym stood for. As the Denver Post reported:

Giellis offered that it could begin with the words “National African American,” laughing as she learned that was incorrect.

Jamie Giellis

GAH! This was indisputably bad for Giellis. Then she made it worse. As 9News reports:

Giellis apologized Wednesday for what she called a “momentary lapse” when she was unable to identify what the initialism NAACP stands for in an interview on the Brother Jeff Fard show.

Within hours, Giellis announced a tacos and lowriders fundraiser at a Mexican restaurant in Denver. 

A tweet announcing the tacos and lowriders campaign event was later deleted from Twitter Wednesday night. [Pols emphasis]

“Tacos and lowriders”? Double GAH!

Soon afterward, Giellis COMPLETELY DELETED her social media accounts on Twitter and Instagram, but not before one particularly terrible Tweet was captured in a screenshot. The Tweet below came from the account of Jamie Licko, which is Giellis’ maiden name:

 

Triple GAH!

The Giellis campaign issued a statement this morning regarding the sudden purge of her social media accounts. It was also not good:

“Our campaign Facebook and Twitter pages remain active and we are working on restoring the campaign Instagram page. I turned off my personal accounts when I felt like personal statements were being taken out of context for the purpose of diverting the conversation from the issues that Denver is facing and voters care about.”

Scrubbing social media accounts for problematic posts is something that a smart campaign would have already done a long time ago. Nobody completely deletes their social media accounts — particularly a candidate who is just weeks out from Election Day — for any other reason than to hide embarrassing and or incriminating information. You can’t talk your way around something like this.

In less than a week, Giellis destroyed her chances of becoming Denver’s next Mayor and made political casualties out of prominent supporters like Calderon and Tate. The incumbent Hancock has been working hard on his final re-election campaign, but at this point, all he really needs to do is just get out of the way of Giellis’ runaway streetcar.

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Jamie Giellis, Walking Facepalm

Jamie Giellis points to her biggest problem in the Denver Mayoral runoff.

Denver’s June 4th runoff election is just around the corner. It can’t come soon enough for Mayoral candidate Jamie Giellis, who is trying to oust incumbent Mayor Michael Hancock.

We noted in April that Giellis barely manages to vote at a 50% clip — she didn’t even vote in the 2018 Primary Election — which she explained by eloquently saying, “It’s my bad for not doing that [voting].” On Tuesday, Giellis managed to trip over her own feet once again.

As the Denver Post reports, this mistake is gonna sting:

Denver mayoral challenger Jamie Giellis failed to identify what the acronym “NAACP” stood for in a live interview on an African American-focused show Tuesday afternoon, renewing debate among minority voters about whether she’s a promising new ally or too far removed from communities of color.

Host Shay Johnson told Giellis on Brother Jeff Fard’s webcast Tuesday that the show had received several questions about her knowledge of the NAACP. Giellis offered that it could begin with the words “National African American,” laughing as she learned that was incorrect. [Pols emphasis]…

…“They do advocacy for the African American community, they talk about policy, they talk about issues, they stand up for civil rights, they do a number of things,” Giellis said.

Yes, really.

The acronym “NAACP” stands for “National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.”

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On to the Runoffs

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

UPDATE: A newsworthy come from behind win for Denver’s Initiative 301, decriminalizing “magic mushrooms,” which is now ahead outside the recount margin:

Far out, man.

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Shrooms for you, Denver!

WEDNESDAY POLS UPDATE: It’s runoffs galore in Denver as Westword’s Michael Roberts updates:

The results in Denver’s 2019 election will spur multiple runoffs just under a month from now. Incumbent Mayor Michael Hancock must best former RiNo Art District president Jamie Giellis to keep his job on June 4, when five Denver City Council races will also be decided. Meanwhile, Ordinance 300, better known as Right to Survive, failed by a margin that left plenty of veteran political observers slack-jawed, while Ordinance 301, which called for the decriminalization of psilocybin mushrooms, fared better and isn’t technically dead, but its chances have faded in a big way…

District 2’s Kevin Flynn, District 6’s Paul Kashmann and District 7’s Jolon Clark ran unopposed, while three other incumbents — District 4’s Kendra Black, District 8’s Chris Herndon and District 11’s Stacie Gilmore — tallied more than 50 percent to secure their re-election. Not so for District 5’s Mary Beth Susman, District 9’s Albus Brooks and District 10’s Wayne New, all of whom must immediately gear up for June 4. Their respective opponents will be Amanda Sawyer, Candi CdeBaca and Chris Hinds.

Runoffs will also be necessary in District 1, where Amanda Sandoval and Mike Somma are set to face off, and in District 3, where Jamie Torres and Veronica Barela are still standing. And while Timothy O’Brien had no opposition in his bid to remain Denver auditor, the sprint for clerk and recorder proved tight, tight, tight. Signs point to Paul López and Peg Perl winding up back in the ring next month.

In the at-large council race, incumbents Debbie Ortega and Robin Kniech held on to their seats over a large field of challengers. But from the mayoral race where the incumbent will face a runoff for the first time since 1995 down to a surprisingly hot clerk and recorder’s race where Peg Perl squeaked into a runoff against the better known Paul Lopez, the 2019 Denver municipal elections are only at halftime. Original post follows.

—–

As of 8:30pm it is looking increasingly likely that many of Denver’s races will be decided in runoffs on June 4th. With just over 100,000 ballots counted Mayor Hancock leads by just 39.7%, not enough to avoid facing one of his challengers next month.

Likewise Clerk and Recorder, District 1, District 3, District 5, and District 10 all are very likely to go to a run off at this hour. In District 9 Albus Brooks may yet get enough votes to pass the magic 50% mark, but as of right now he’s only at 48.07%. Incumbent Chris Herndon in District 8 is probably a bit happier with 51.15% of the vote. That could also go to a run off, but unlike in District 9 his closest challenger only has 22.26%. Still not a great result for an incumbent.

There is no doubt, however, that ordinance 300 has gone down to a wide defeat. Over 80% of the votes counted so far have been against it. After this bad showing in Denver it would be surprising to me if a similar bill gets out of committee in the legislature.

Edited to Add: The Denverite relays that there are only 139,412 ballots. This means that there are just short of 40,000 or 28% left to be counted. The next update for people staying up that late will be 10pm.

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Mayoral Candidate Ethics and Transparency…With Scott Gessler

Denver’s Municipal election takes place on Tuesday, May 7. Give low turnout numbers and a handful of candidates who are relatively unknown, the race for Mayor could take on plenty of weird twists before the final votes are counted.

But any twist that happens next would have to be one hell of a pretzel to compete with this mail/walk piece from Denver Mayoral candidate  Penfield Tate:

In the mailer/walk piece below, the final message text is this:

You deserve a mayor that is accessible, ethical and transparent and one who will get the job done RIGHT.

This is all well and good…

…and then Tate’s campaign lists the endorsement of former Republican Secretary of State Scott Gessler, quite possibly the most corrupt and ethically-challenged elected official Colorado has seen in decades.


This is not the first time we’ve pointed out that Scott Gessler is a terrible name to have on your list of endorsements, particularly at the top of said list and particularly when you are running for office in a solidly-Democratic city like Denver. In April 2011, we marveled at the stupidity of Tom Downey, a candidate for Denver Clerk and Recorder who emailed supporters to tout an endorsement from the very same Scott Gessler. We probably don’t need to remind you that Downey did not get elected that year.

Nor is it much of a stretch to predict that Penfield Tate won’t be winning an election on Tuesday.

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Denver Mayoral Candidate Jamie Giellis Didn’t Vote LAST YEAR

What, me vote?

It is, oddly, not unusual to see a story about a candidate for elected office who has apparently not bothered to regularly vote in prior elections. Just last year, a Republican candidate for Governor of Oklahoma struggled to explain why he himself hadn’t voted in a single Gubernatorial election since at least 1999.

As John Ensslin reports for the publication formerly known as the Colorado Statesman, Denver Mayoral candidate Jamie Giellis hasn’t been particularly interested in her civic duty in years past:

Giellis, a candidate for Denver mayor, has not voted in 10 of the 22 municipal elections that have occurred since she moved to the city in 2006, according to a Colorado Politics review of city election records.

Giellis, a former president of the River North Arts District, voted in 12 elections during that time but missed three runoff elections, three coordinated elections, two general elections, one municipal election and one primary election, according to her voting history.

By contrast, three others considered to be in the first tier of mayoral candidates have voted in all but a handful of elections during that same period.

“It’s my bad for not doing that.”

     —  Denver Mayoral candidate Jamie Giellis on failing to vote in nearly half of Denver’s elections

Missing an election here or there is not unusual, but it’s a little weird for a candidate to barely manage to cast a ballot in half of all previous elections. Incredibly, Giellis apparently didn’t even vote in the 2018 Primary Election in Colorado, even as she was considering her own bid for elected office (Giellis formally launched her campaign in November 2018). Giellis thinks that she did vote last June, but she eventually admits to Ensslin that, well, she’s not actually sure about that:

“The 2018 primary election is concerning to me,” she wrote. “During that time my husband and I were traveling for our wedding and living with my parents as we finished a home renovation, but in the midst of that chaos I recall casting a ballot that appears to have not been received. It was my job to ensure my vote was counted, and I failed at that.” [Pols emphasis]

During a Mayoral candidate forum moderated by 9News reporters Marshall Zelinger and Kyle Clark on Wednesday, Giellis got another chance to explain her spotty voting record. She failed. Miserably.

ZELINGER: Since 2011, when Mr. Hancock was elected, voter records show that you have only voted in half of the elections. I know you lived out of the country for some of that time, but if you want to lead the City of Denver, why didn’t you care enough to vote absentee?

GIELLIS: I think it’s a great question, and, you know, I was traveling abroad, in Singapore and the U.K., for most of that time, a big chunk of that time. And it’s a big task to vote while you’re abroad. And it’s my bad for not doing that…

…I didn’t realize that there was a litmus test for being willing to step up and take a leadership role in the city. [Pols emphasis]

Denver voters are receiving their mail ballots for the municipal election this week. It shouldn’t be much of a surprise if many of them don’t bother to vote for Giellis.

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Let’s Go, Nuggets!

The Denver Nuggets take on the San Antonio Spurs tonight in the second game of their first round playoff series. Denver Mayor Michael Hancock is throwing down:

San Antonio is known for its beer? Who knew?

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Crisanta Duran Fails to Clear Very Low Bar in Q1

Artist rendition of Crisanta Duran’s Congressional campaign.

Congresswoman Diana DeGette (D-Denver) is the “dean” of the Colorado Congressional delegation, a title she has earned by consistently winning re-election in what has long been a safe Democratic seat in CO-1. First elected to her Denver district in 1996, DeGette has been in the House of Representatives 10 years longer than her nearest contemporaries; both Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Colorado Springs) and Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-Jefferson County) were first elected in 2006.

Despite that longevity — or perhaps because of it — DeGette is facing a potentially tough Democratic Primary in 2020 from former State House Speaker Crisanta Duran. Or, at least, that was the thinking before Q1 fundraising numbers were announced this week.

DeGette raised a piddling $138,000 in Q1, a shockingly-weak sum for someone looking at a third consecutive Primary challenge. Fortunately for her, Duran only managed to raise about half of that amount. As Denverite reports, Duran’s campaign is trying desperately to spin a $70,000 quarter as a positive outcome:

“This is a great start to our campaign for change,” Duran said in the release. “We received contributions from people of all walks of life and from an inclusive cross-section of leaders and grassroots supporters throughout our community.”

Duran isn’t accepting money from corporate political action committees, a fact her campaign is using to set her apart from DeGette, who is accepting money from these types of PACs. Duran campaign consultant Steve Welchert said in the release that they “don’t expect to keep up with DeGette’s corporate PAC machine, but today’s report shows we’ll build a strong, winning campaign.”

Um…no. You can’t shine a $70,000 turd.

Duran’s campaign is quick to point out that she didn’t have the benefit of a full fundraising quarter after announcing her campaign for CO-1 in late February. This is true, but also irrelevant; if Duran wasn’t confident that she could put up a good fundraising quarter, then she shouldn’t have announced her candidacy so early. This is pretty much the worst-case scenario for Duran’s campaign.

Momentum and money go hand-in-hand in politics. Duran has neither, and she’s now in a position where she’ll need a very strong Q2 just to remain somewhat viable heading into the dead summer of an off-year. If Duran doesn’t at least quadruple her Q1 numbers, what had looked to be an interesting race will be all but over a year before the Primary Election.

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Money Race For Denver Mayor Is Not Close

Denver Mayor Michael Hancock.

Westword’s Michael Roberts reports on the state of play in the Denver mayoral race with mail ballots set to go out next week–a contest high on rhetoric,

But when it comes to raising money, the contest to date is a runaway.

According to statistics through March 31 assembled by Denver-based CleanSlateNow Action, whose goal is to fight “the corrupting influence of big money in politics,” current Mayor Michael Hancock has raised around twice as many dollars as the other five hopefuls on the ballot combined, and more than triple the amount collected by his next closest fiscal competitor… [Pols emphasis]

Of course, having a fatter wallet than any of his challengers doesn’t guarantee Hancock a victory in anything other than yard signs and prime TV time — a point [opponent Lisa] Calderón underscores in a comment shared with Westword about Referred Measure 2E, which was approved by voters in 2018 but doesn’t go into effect until next year (and will impact the mayor’s face for the first time in 2023). The so-called “Democracy for the People” measure will limit mayoral-contest donations to $1,000, ban corporate donations, and enable a public-financing program.

It’s tough to get a read right now on the field of five candidates vying to oust Denver Mayor Michael Hancock, like which if any is consolidating enough support to prevent the most likely outcome: the fragmented “Anybody But Hancock” opposition splitting between the alternatives and handing Hancock another term. There’s a possibility of a runoff election if no candidate gets 50% of the vote, but historically incumbent Denver mayors win by a much greater majority–like John Hickenlooper’s 86% margin in 2007. For all of the discontent with Denver city government over infrastructure, housing costs, police misconduct, the treatment of the poor and homeless, and a laundry list of other issues, we haven’t seen anyone emerge in this race with a winning coalition–though we’re watching to be proven wrong.

With that in mind, nothing says fait accompli like doubling up the rest of the pack combined.

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Denver Council District 1, 2019

Northwest Denver, including Sunnyside, Berkley, Sloane’s Lake, Highlands, and part of West Colfax is in Denver Council District 1. Since it is an open seat in 2019 there are seven (!) candidates to replace the outgoing Councilman Rafael Espinoza.

Denverite has short introductions to all seven in a March 19th article. The really interesting part for the horse race of who’s getting support is the money raised by each.

Somma- $48,791.05, $1,000 self funded
Sandoval- $47,470.00
Durrah- $43,902.20
Kulkarni- $26,093.47 $4,900+ self funded
Sabados- $25,936.59 $1,000+ self funded
D’Agosta- $15,192.75 including a $2,635.75 loan
Aguilar- $6,221 $2,000 self funded

Purely on this basis it looks a lot like a three person race between Michael Somma, Amanda Sandoval, and Scott Alan Durrah and seems likely to go on to a run off. Denver city elections, even though they probably impact people’s lives more than statewide elections, are low turn out and low information votes.

Random chance has them on the ballot as:
1) Praj Kulkarni 2) Victoria R. Aguilar 3) Sabrina D’Agosta 4) David Sabados 5) Mike Somma 6) Amanda Sandoval 7) Scott Alan Durrah

Will this give a boost to Kulkarni? He’s not leading in fundraising, but he’s not totally out of the hunt either. Without the usual signals of party affiliation voters might break for him. Espinoza has endorsed Sandoval and the other two top fundraisers are white guys. Will that give her an edge? On the other hand Somma is a firefighter and lots of people have warm feelings towards that profession. As of the 22nd his election website is also the highest ranked in searches for “Denver Council District 1”.

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Worst-Named Campaign Event Ever. Ever.

UPDATE: It’s been brought to our attention that this event is not hosted by Michael Hancock’s re-election campaign, but rather the Mayor’s official capacity. The event’s name, however, has not changed.

Is that better? We’re agnostic.

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We’re just going to leave this here in the hope that someone on Denver Mayor Michael Hancock’s very talented communications team will see it and act immediately to change the extremely unfortunate name of this event.

That is all.

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Take Me to Your…Um, What’s the Word I’m Looking For?

The word of the day is…

Former State House Speaker Crisanta Duran kicked off her campaign for Congress in CO-1 (Denver) on Sunday with an exclusive interview with Denver7. Today, Duran rolled out a nice endorsement in former Denver Mayor Federico Peña.

As Ernest Luning reports for the publication formerly known as the Colorado Statesman, it’s not hard to figure out what message apparently polled the best in her pre-campaign research (all bold text is Colorado Pols’ emphasis):

Duran declined to point out policy differences with DeGette, who was first elected to the Denver-based 1st Congressional District seat in 1996, but said she wants to let voters in the heavily Democratic district decide if it’s time for a different style of leadership

…”I have appreciated the work Congresswoman DeGette has done,” Duran said. “I do think, though, in these time when we have Donald Trump in the White House, we must evaluate how we move this country forward and make sure we have the right leaders in the right place at the right time.”

She added: “These times in particular, we need to make sure we’re doing everything in our power to be able to lead. I have a new and different style of leadership that I could bring to Congressional District 1. At the end of the day, it’s up to the voters to decide who is the best leader moving forward.”

Her leadership style, Duran said, involves listening to constituents.

“Building community is very important to me and is a different leadership style, I think. I also think that during the time that I’ve served, I’ve never shied away from tough issues,” Duran said. “In this time we need leaders who do things not for political convenience, but for political courage. It’s not a time to be shy, it’s not a time to play it safe, it’s a time to be bold. And I think it should be up to the people of Congressional District 1 to be able to cast their vote (for) who is the best leader to move the district forward.”

In fairness to Duran, words like “conductor,” “skipper,” and “pacesetter” probably don’t pop as much with focus groups.

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Denver Teachers Win Big After Successful Strike

Vox’s Alexia Fernández Campbell reports on the developing conclusion to the three-day strike by teachers of the Denver Classroom Teachers Association, ending in victory for the teachers and heralding a new ascendancy for organized labor power in Colorado under Gov. Jared Polis:

Details are not yet available, but the deal includes an average 11.7 percent pay raise and annual cost of living increases, according to the school district and the Denver Classroom Teachers Association, a labor union representing more than 5,000 educators in Denver public schools. It will also include raises for school support staff. Bus drivers and cafeteria workers may also get a raise, but that’s not part of the official agreement with the teachers union.

It also addresses the teachers’ biggest concern: the need to overhaul the merit-pay system, which relies heavily on annual bonuses that fluctuate from year to year. The new system will place more emphasis on education and training when considering promotions, while keeping some bonuses in place…

Teachers did make some concessions, but the deal represents a remarkable win for Denver’s teachers, who have been picketing and rallying in the streets for the past two days, while school administrators struggled to keep classes on schedule. It’s also a sign of the overwhelming momentum teachers have on their side from months of widespread teacher strikes across the country over school funding cuts and low teacher pay.

After the DCTA voted by 93% to walk out, the state Department of Labor and Employment under the direction of Gov. Polis could have ordered a so-called “cooling off period” of up to six months, which would have deprived teachers of their power to back up their negotiations with action. There was considerable worry that Polis would do just that, especially after the governor and his staff took an active role in attempting to mediate between the sides early on.

In the end, though, the decision by Gov. Polis not to curtail the teachers’ ability to strike made it clear who would have the upper hand. In addition Denver Public Schools management did very little to ingratiate themselves with the public, after a message to visa-holding noncitizen teachers wrongly threatening to report them to immigration officials and stories of school administrators trying to censor students documenting the dysfunction on campus.

The proposed new contract, which still needs to be ratified by the teachers, gives the teachers much more than they were offered before the strike–which is, of course, the most important measurement of success. And for Gov. Polis, his campaign promise to be an advocate for working people and organized labor in particular is looking well-kept as of now.

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Industrial Schoolhouse Action: Denver Teachers On Strike

Striking teachers in Los Angeles, 12/2018.

Colorado Public Radio reports on the final breakdown of negotiations last night between Denver Public Schools and the Denver Classroom Teachers Association, ending with teachers heading for the picket lines for tomorrow morning–the first strike by DCTA in a quarter century that has seen enormous change in the operating philosophy of DPS, and a “reform” agenda that has delivered much more controversy than increased achievement:

Tensions boiled over Saturday night as several hours of discussion between the teachers union and Denver Public Schools aimed at averting a strike came to a halt and a Monday walkout appeared inevitable.

Exasperated negotiators for the Denver Classroom Teachers Association ended talks after they asked whether or not Superintendent Susana Cordova would agree to their concept of a salary schedule that gives teachers more opportunities to advance and rewards them for professional development classes.

Cordova wouldn’t give a specific answer and asked for time to consider their counter-proposal. DCTA lead negotiator Rob Gould tersely responded that they “can have some time, they can have until Tuesday!”

What does this mean for almost 80,000 kids who attends Denver Public Schools, not to mention their working parents? Without those thousands of hard-working long-suffering and no matter what they’re getting not paid nearly enough teachers, the district is doing whatever it can to provide a suitable warehouse educational setting–Denver7:

Denver Public School Superintendent Susan Cordova reassured parents in late January that the district is committed to keeping schools open during the strike and said an announcement would be sent Sunday notifying parents whether their child’s school would be open the next day.

That will not be the case for all early childhood education classes, which will be canceled due to the district’s inability to meet the rigorous requirements for licensed staff in those classrooms, Cordova said, adding they would try to provide opportunities for the 4,714 children currently enrolled in the district’s early childhood education programs.

Additionally, a DPS spokesperson said a daily assessment would be made as to whether there is an adequate number of teachers and substitute teachers — as well as supervisors from the central office — to keep schools in the district open during the strike.

The school district is expected to have every nonunion employee with a college degree serving as a substitute teacher tomorrow, with an unknown number of temporary teachers hired on the promise of a large daily rate to cover the indignity of crossing a picket line. Obviously, the educational value of the substitutes is going to vary widely, and in many cases it’s reasonable to expect to see whole student bodies watching movies in the gym Monday.

The breakdown between the sides continues to be over the district’s bonus system to achieve staffing goals versus the teachers’ demand for broadly higher pay to offset the growing shortage of teachers and Denver’s skyrocketing cost of living. Underlying this standoff is a larger philosophical disagreement over reforming public education, with the DPS “ProComp” compensation plan and the later “teacher effectiveness” law SB-191 passed in 2010 representing a controversial shift toward blaming teachers for the whole range of aggregate social and economic factors that affect student achievement. Without a positive correlation of better educational outcomes for students to justify this approach, and with a demonstrable and growing shortage of qualified college graduates willing to take on the challenge of a career in public education…what are we doing?

Look, folks, we have no idea how deeply this is going to be reckoned with in the current standoff at Denver Public Schools. But it’s critical to understand–on both sides–that this is much more than an argument over a few percentage points more or less in a contract. This is about a fundamental disagreement over the hardships teachers face in their jobs, and how their work should be both valued and evaluated by society.

If you think you have a slogan that answers all these weighty questions, you don’t.

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BREAKING: Polis Will Not Intervene, DPS Strikes Next Week

UPDATE: The Denver Post’s Elizabeth Hernandez:

Gov. Jared Polis on Wednesday declined to intervene in the impending Denver teacher strike, which could have delayed a teacher walkout by up to 180 days…

At the heart of the disagreement is Denver’s teacher compensation plan ProComp. Both sides have proposals they claim improve the pay scale that determines how and what teachers get paid. DCTA’s proposal kicks in about $28.5 million toward teacher compensation, while the district’s is about $20.8 million.

In addition to the $8 million difference in teachers pay plans, the district and union disagree on how educators should advance along their proposed compensation schedules. The union’s plan allows for more opportunities for teachers to bump up in pay as they accrue credits toward advancing their education.

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That’s the breaking word from the first floor of the state capitol, Gov. Jared Polis will NOT order a 180-day cooling-off period via the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment, returning power to the Denver Classroom Teachers Association to commence a strike if a deal isn’t reached by Monday, February 11th.

We’ll update with coverage and statements, but this is a big win for teachers that will shore up Polis’ left flank on the hot-button issue of public education–and puts teeth in Polis’ campaign pledge to help organized workers flex their muscles.

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Will Polis Let ‘Em Strike?

Gov. Jared Polis (D).

Colorado Public Radio’s Jenny Brundin reports as the standoff between the Denver Public Schools management and the Denver Classroom Teachers Association (DCTA) grinds on with no sign of rapprochement between the sides:

Gov. Jared Polis is making one last attempt to meet with both sides in Denver’s contentious teacher labor dispute and broker an agreement before the state decides whether it will intervene…

Colorado’s Department of Labor and Employment will decide whether or not to step in by Feb. 11. In the meantime the strike teachers voted for is on hold. If the state decides to intervene, it could postpone a strike for up to 180 days.

In a letter, the agency said a lack of meaningful dialogue, a fundamental disagreement over the facts and costs of competing proposals, and the reopening of negotiations last week that turned into “political theater at its worst,” all weigh heavily on the state’s decision.

In response, the teacher’s union insisted the state not get involved.

With negotiations between DPS management and the DCTA effectively stalled and teachers itching to get out on the picket line, there is undeniable pushback building over Gov. Jared Polis’ attempt to informally broker a compromise. The real deadline now is the one observed by the Department of Labor and Employment (CDLE), who will soon decide whether or not to order a six-month “cooling off period”–a decision that would buoy management’s negotiating position but greatly increase tensions between the teachers and the governor’s office.

As we said last week, all parties are watching closely to see how Gov. Polis navigates this situation, the first real political controversy of his brand-new administration. Polis campaigned with the strong support of organized labor in this state, but also has been a supporter of the sometimes-divisive education “reform” agenda that underlies the dispute between teachers and Denver Public Schools officials.

The only thing we can say for sure is that kids won’t get to play hooky either way.

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DPS Management Strike PR Off To Really Horrible Start

Are you SURE you want to strike?

Denver7’s Oscar Contreras reports on a nasty little “misunderstanding” this week between Denver Public Schools officials and Denver Classroom Teachers Association (DCTA) teachers who voted overwhelmingly this week to strike for better pay:

Denver Public School officials are apologizing after a notice went out to teachers warning those on working visas that they would be reported to immigration officials should they participate in a district-wide strike voted on earlier this week .

The letter, obtained by Denver7, states the district needs to be informed of the decision of teachers on H or J visas to go on strike “as soon as possible as we are required to report that to immigration and the US Department of State.”

That letter, however, was the result of “misrepresentation” of information received by the district’s immigration firm and an incorrect communication, according to DPS spokesman Will Jones.

“The communication was in no way intended to cause fear for our educators on visas,” Jones said in the prepared statement sent to Denver7 Thursday evening.

First of all, and this needs to be bold faced in every single story about this incident, we are not talking about undocumented immigrants. Teachers from abroad in Denver Public Schools have work visas and fully legal status to do their jobs. According to DPS officials doing damage control after reporters contacted them about these letters sent to teachers, the individual names of noncitizen teachers would not be reported to ICE–just the fact that a strike is taking place, and presumably ICE can…take it from there?

On second thought, that’s not very comforting either, is it?

It should go without saying that DPS management should be extremely careful and diplomatic with their communications with teachers ahead of a strike, and in this case their comms carelessness just happened to come down on the side of intimidating legal immigrant teachers with the specter of Donald Trump’s immigration enforcers–who we’re going to go out on a limb and suggest don’t like strikes much either.

Whether an accident or, you know, not so much, we can all agree this is not the way to win hearts and minds.

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DPS Teachers Vote To Strike, Polis Wades Into The Fray

AP via Colorado Public Radio reports on a situation we’re monitoring closely in Denver, after teachers represented by the Denver Classroom Teachers Association (DCTA) voted overwhelmingly to strike for better across-the-board pay and other unresolved disagreements with the school board.

Into this widening divide steps Colorado’s new Gov. Jared Polis, hoping to bridge the impasse before the potentially disruptive strike is set to begin next Monday:

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis said Wednesday he is seeking to prevent Denver teachers from walking off the job next week after they overwhelmingly voted to strike over pay.

Polis, who took office this month, said he would meet with representatives of the school district and teachers’ union to see if he could “play a role in bringing them together.” But the Democrat who has vowed to increase school funding declined to elaborate…

The earliest teachers could legally walk off the job is Monday. However, the state labor department could also intervene and put the strike on hold for up to 180 days. It would be the first teacher walkout in 25 years.

Can Gov. Polis bring the sides together in a fight dripping with subtext over major philosophical differences in public education? Will the state flex its controversial muscle and impose a cooling-off period? Whatever happens next, this is the first big labor fight of a new era of full Democratic control in Colorado. The outcome here is going to, as they say, set a tone.

We’ll update with developments, and we don’t expect to wait long. Stay tuned.

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