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TOP OF MIND TODAY…
► The Colorado legislature kicks off its 2020 session on Wednesday. Right-wing nutcases are descending on the State Capitol in preparation.
State Sen. Lois Court (D-Denver) will not be joining her colleagues in the Senate chambers. Court announced on Monday that she was resigning her seat after being diagnosed with a rare autoimmune disease known as Guillain-Barré syndrome. From The Denver Post:
Court will step down Jan. 16, and her job will be filled by a Senate District 31 vacancy committee, the caucus said. Court’s seat is up for election this year, and she previously said she would not seek another term.
State Rep. Chris Hansen, D-Denver, declared in October that he’d run for the seat, but he says now that he’ll seek appointment to the seat via the vacancy committee. Another announced candidate for Court’s seat, Maria Orms, also plans to seek appointment via the committee. If Hansen is tabbed to replace Court in the Senate, another committee would have to meet to fill his House seat.
Elsewhere in pre-session preparation news, House Democrats announced new committee assignments and Republicans say they want to focus on transportation funding legislation. The Colorado Sun previews the session with a Top 10 list.
► As CNBC reports, there is still much confusion about whether or not the United States has agreed to withdraw military forces from Iraq:
Iraq’s Prime Minister said that the U.S. military sent a letter regarding American troop withdrawal from the country, Reuters reported on Tuesday, further deepening confusion over plans for troops in the region.
It’s the latest in a messy string of events sparked by a U.S. airstrike that killed Iran’s top general.
Iraq’s Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi said that his country received an English and Arabic version of the letter but that they were not identical. Therefore, Iraq requested clarifications on U.S. plans.
The news comes on the heels of the Pentagon’s admission that the letter informing Iraq’s Defense Ministry that U.S.-led coalition troops would leave Iraq “was a mistake.”
This headline from New York Magazine sums up the entire mess nicely:
► Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) continues to avoid talking about pretty much anything. We recapped the last three months in the world of #NoCommentCory. As Megan Verlee of Colorado Public Radio notes, reporters have caught on to Gardner’s persistent obfuscation.
— Megan Verlee (@CPRverlee) January 7, 2020
Meanwhile, Josh Marshall of Talking Points Memo says that Gardner’s silence on impeachment is precisely the reason journalists should keep asking him questions:
Take Cory Gardner. Is he going to come out for a real trial? Probably not. But he’s hiding in the background now because he wants to be able to present himself as independent-minded and moderate next November. It’s folly to give him that chance. Democrats should be focusing on him nonstop, making clear in Colorado and nationally that it really is all up to him. It’s not about some vague thing called Republicans or the Senate GOP caucus. It’s about him. He could change the equation himself, very quickly.
As Politico reports, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is preparing to move ahead on setting rules for an impeachment trial without the input of Senate Democrats.
Get even more smarter after the jump…
IN CASE YOU ARE STANDING NEAR A WATER COOLER…
► Former United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley is suggesting that Democrats are mourning the death of Iranian General Qasem Soleimani and are thus traitors to the United States. As Philip Bump writes for The Washington Post, this is right in line with the Trump narrative:
If Haley is a thermometer for the evolution of the Republican Party — something she seemingly is quite eager to be — her comments this week were a grim indicator. A politician who rose to national attention on the basis of her stand in opposition to the use of the Confederate flag in her home state has decided falsely accusing her opponents of sympathizing with an enemy of the United States is at least politically safe if not politically advantageous.
Perhaps she, like many Republicans, actually believes Democrats are unpatriotic and not simply questioning Trump’s judgment. It’s worth remembering the following quote, though, from three years ago this week:
“During anxious times, it can be tempting to follow the siren call of the angriest voices. We must resist that temptation.”
That, of course, was Nikki Haley, tacitly critiquing Republicans being wooed by Trump’s rhetoric.
► Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced that he will NOT run for a U.S. Senate seat in his home state of Kansas. As Chris Cillizza of CNN explains, this is a problem for Senate Republicans:
Had Pompeo, who represented the state’s 4th district from 2010 to 2016, run, he would have walked to the Republican nomination and been a heavy favorite to replace retiring Sen. Pat Roberts (R) in the fall. Without him, there is now the very real possibility that former Kansas secretary of state Kris Kobach winds up as the GOP Senate nominee — a prospect that could imperil the seat for Republicans.
Kobach is a deeply divisive figure within the Kansas Republican Party — and the state more broadly. He made a national name for himself by championing hardline immigration policies that won him the praise and attention of President Donald Trump. Early in his presidency, Trump named Kobach as the chair of a commission to examine alleged voter fraud in the country, although the commission was disbanded after less than a year.
Kobach then embarked on a run for governor in 2018, narrowly ousting the appointed governor in a Republican primary before losing in the general election to Democrat Laura Kelly. (Trump endorsed Kobach in his contested primary fight, calling him “a fantastic guy who loves his State and our Country.”) Following that loss, Kobach was reportedly considered to be Trump’s immigration czar, but was eventually passed over — perhaps due to a wild list of reported demands he had for taking the job.
It’s quite possible that Kris Kobach could cost Republicans a gubernatorial race and a U.S. Senate race in consecutive election cycles, which would be pretty impressive.
► When State Sen. Angela Williams (D-Denver) dropped her no-shot bid for the Democratic U.S. Senate nomination last fall, we noted that her political gamble may have costed her a chance at winning re-election in SD-33. Williams conceded as much on Monday when she announced that she was ending her bid for a second term in the State Senate after falling behind a tough challenger in state Rep. James Coleman.
► Colorado voters will get to decide whether or not to become the first state to reintroduce an endangered species into the animal population. As Sam Brasch reports for Colorado Public Radio:
For more than 25 years, Rob Edward, president of the Rocky Mountain Wolf Action Fund, has dreamed of returning wolves to Colorado.
His vision is now much closer to reality.
On Monday, the Colorado Secretary of State’s office announced Edward’s campaign had gathered an estimated 139,333 valid signatures — above the 124,632 signatures needed to earn a place the 2020 ballot. If it passes, the measure would require state wildlife managers to reintroduce wolves to Western Colorado by the end of 2023.
► Colorado lawmakers may take final steps in eliminating cash bail requirements for certain criminal offenses.
► The Department of Justice is now recommending jail time for former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn. From NBC News:
The Justice Department, in a change of heart, said Tuesday it no longer supports a lenient sentence for President Donald Trump’s former national security adviser Michael Flynn.
In a court filing, prosecutors said he should be sentenced for up to six months, in line with federal guidelines.
Flynn pleaded guilty two years ago, admitting he lied about his conversations with Russia’s ambassador to the U.S. during the Trump transition.
► Republican State Sen. Kevin Priola talks about a personal side regarding efforts to curtain teen vaping.
► More than $163 million could be poured into television and digital advertisements in Colorado in 2020 — and that’s just for the U.S. Senate and Presidential races.
► Congressman Jason Crow (D-Aurora) helped to ensure the extension of an energy saving tax credit for 2020.
Your Daily Dose Of ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
► The wacko QAnon conspiracy theorists are running amok in Colorado. Check out the comments to 9News reporter Kyle Clark below:
— Kyle Clark (@KyleClark) January 7, 2020
► Politico takes a look at the process for transforming yourself into a Republican.