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August 10, 2013 12:05 PM UTC

Republicans Veer Off Message: No Help Needed

  • by: Colorado Pols

MONDAY UPDATE: The Colorado Independent updates their story as recall successor candidate Bernie Herpin pushes back on allegations he was a supporter of the “Personhood” abortion ban:

Herpin didn’t answer calls Thursday from the Independent seeking comment. But subsequent to publication, his campaign told the Independent that, although he is pro-life, there is “no evidence” that he has ever supported the personhood movement and that, in fact, Herpin does not support personhood and has never signed a personhood petition.



The Colorado Independent's Tessa Cheek reports today on a new mailer hitting Senate District 11 mailboxes this weekend, attacking Colorado Senate President John Morse's de facto GOP recall opponent Bernie Herpin. A similar mailer is reportedly on the way to residents of Senate District 3, where Democratic Sen. Angela Giron faces a recall challenge led by Republican George Rivera:

The Herpin mailer refers to his support as city council member of the “personhood” movement, which seeks to outlaw abortion by granting full legal rights to fertilized human eggs, or “life from the moment of conception,” as supporters put it. Analysts have said personhood would amount to sweeping changes in the law, where countless statutes would have to be reworked and legal interpretations extended broadly and perhaps to absurd ends, where not only birth control would be outlawed but also where activities like drinking, smoking and raw-cheese eating, for example, could turn pregnant women into suspects or criminals.

Groups have tried and failed three times in recent years to pass a constitutional amendment to make personhood the law in Colorado. Voters in conservative Mississippi also solidly rejected a personhood proposal in 2011…

Republican George Rivera, a longtime Pueblo police officer who retired as a deputy chief, brushed off the mailers Friday on Twitter, calling them “desperate” and a “shell game” being played by Giron.

“I make no apologies for my belief in the sanctity of life,” he wrote.

But Rivera takes a hardline stance on the abortion debate, even for a conservative, and reproductive rights are sure to be one of the issues that will concern voters in Pueblo.

The recall attempts now underway against Sens. Morse and Giron began as a response to the passage of landmark gun safety bills in the Colorado legislature this year. Gun rights groups, grassroots and not so much, did the early organizing. But over time, the recalls have evolved into a much more generalized conflict between conservative and liberal political establishments in Colorado. This is particularly evident from the prominent role played by a group "advised" by Bob Beauprez and Mark Hillman in the Morse recall, not to mention Jeff Crank's Americans for Prosperity organization supplying professional staff to those "grassroots groups"–see Kerns, Jennifer–and lavish paid media support. After years of losing elections, these recalls have come to symbolize Colorado Republican hopes to springboard back into majority power.

It's important to remember that recall organizers themselves have freely expanded the scope of allegations against the targeted Senators to include the whole smorgasbord of Republican pet issues, from hating on renewable energy to civil unions–when it suited them. So nobody can accuse recall opponents of anything inappropriate by using a broader range of issues against the successor candidates now.

Bottom line: the more the recall debate veers away from the single issue of gun rights, the less likely the recalls are to succeed. Voters in both swing SD-11 and heavily Democratic SD-3 trend ambivalent at best, to strongly opposed to Herpin and Rivera's positions on just about every issue. Single-issue backlash from gun rights supporters aside, SD-3 is a Democratic stronghold, and SD-11 after reapportionment is more defensible by Democrats than the 2010 election's close result suggests. The fact is, any transpartisan appeal that recall supporters claim to have with opposition to the gun bills has a point of diminishing return–and it's these other issues, issues Democrats know very well how to use against Republicans politically, that will tip swing voters in these districts toward a "no."


27 thoughts on “Republicans Veer Off Message: No Help Needed

    1. Also, and I may be mistaken here, but I recall the 2012 Personhood initiative differed from prior ones in that it would not have banned the birth control pill.  So you'll need context as to which initiative version Bernie Herpin supported to make the above mailer defensible. 

      1. Eliot,

        The language of the 2012 Personhood initiative, which George Rivera and Bernie Herpin signed the petition for, prohibits birth control "which kills a person". Person is defined as a human being at any stage of development, so hormonal birth control pills or the Nuva Ring or patch, which prevent a fertilized egg from attaching to the uterine wall, are prohibited.

        In 2012, the language criminalizing miscarriages was not in the ballot initiative. But the in vitro fertilization language was in there. This affected couples who might have had a number of frozen embryos, kept one, and destroyed the rest. That would be illegal under personhood.

        Anyone with political ambitions should  refrain from signing petitions unless they whole heartedly agree with the petition's content, as those signatures will come back to haunt a  future political career. 

        I agree with Pols – I dislike dragging more and more issues into what was a simple disagreement over gun legislation.  I am uncomfortable with Democrats  playing dirty politics in the same ways as Republicans, what with the push polls and the 527s and the unrelated issues. Dirty politics, is, unfortunately, very effective, and when the recall fails in Pueblo, which it will, and in El Paso County, which it probably will,then hopefully the conservative fun factories will think twice before investing millions in overturning local elections.

        My squeamishness will not prevent me from working with the Giron campaign, though…we have a very effective legislator in place, and shouldn't be even thinking of replacing her with an unelected, unvetted person who supports a Personhood amendment which Colorado voters have rejected three times.





        1. I do not read section 2 of the 2012 intiative to prohibit the monthly birth control pill unless a woman took five in a row as a makeshift morning after pill

          1. So you think politicians should be able to count a woman's birth control pills to make sure she's been following the presecription–eating no more than four pills, as five would be 'homicide'?  I am not an attorney, but if I were and asked to counsel a Republican male…I'd say STFU already. 

            NOT POLITICAL ADVICE (as I love to see GOP males self-destruct talking about ladyparts…)



            1. My own views on abortion are irrelevant here – what is relevant is that the 2012 Personhood Inititative did not seem to ban taking the birth control pill for the purpose of preventing conception. 

              1. Because one could take 1-4 pills and all would be fine, five and you would commit homicide.  Academically speaking of course.  Suspended behind a veil of ignorance and all that, where what you actually think or believe is unimportant–as are any sometimes messy details about some individual woman's life; because the pure, objective NOT LEGAL ADVICE EF finding is thus: 2012 Personhood would allow a women to continue her birth control regimen and even take a few (up to three additional) extra pills to be sure they worked, I guess, but only if NOT INTERFERING with the alleged zygote, Coloradan, because that would be homicide. 

                So is it up to the CBI to count birth control pills should the question arise?  Or does that fall to the Sheriffs?  What if pill four were taken in Garfield County and #5 in Eagle?

                When you have to get into this level of nuance you are probably losing.  You may, in fact, be digging the hole deeper. 

                I'm a man, so maybe I shouldn't presume here, but allow me to anyways with an additional hint: When GOP men keep explaining to women why the perception many of them have (that GOP male politicians are clueless about their issues and concerns) is because they just need this complicated stuff explained to them more simply,  in different terms, that is probably NOT a winning argument. 

                Here is some advice: its not just women.  People generally don’t like being talked down to.  I particularly think getting into the weeds on this one is stupid for the GOP, particularly men.  That’s STRATEGIC ADVICE.  The correct answer is ‘Coloradans have repeatedly rejected the so-called Personhood amendment, recognizing such matters as best left up to individuals and families.’ Or some such.  TACTICAL ADVICE: Statement per above. Quickly move on. 

              2. sex ed class/ It's the person=human being "at any stage of development" language which bars hormonal birth control. A fertilized egg, by this definition, is a human being. If a woman uses hormonal birth control, the function of this is to prevent the fertilized egg from attaching to a uterine wall, where it would normally start developing and growing. Therefore, hormonal birth control "kills" that fertilized egg, i.e. mini-human.

                Now what that language does not prohibit is "barrier methods" such as condoms and diaphragms.  /sex ed class


                I don't know about the smoking, drinking, and raw cheese, ( stuff pregnant woman does which harms fetus) don't see it in there. That may be covered under the other personhood bill in the legislature now, I forget the bill number, but it would criminalize anyone who harms a fetus.

              3. My own views on abortion are irrelevant here

                Translation: I want to defend Personhood without admitting I'm defending Personhood, because, while I know that the majority oppose it, I don't want to risk being seen taking a position on it. 

          2. Uh, you might want to keep in mind that these same people are currently describing <a href="">ordinary birth control methods</a> like the implant and IUDs as "chemical abortion". 

            (The reference to "chemical abortions costing $817" links to a list of birth control methods, of which the implant is the only one costing $817. The clinics in question do not provide actual chemical abortions.)

            You seem understand that anything which might possibly have a post-fertilization action would be prohibited by personhood. Hasn't it occurred to you to wonder what might happen to all those women out there who already have implants and IUDs? 

    2. I'm sorry, I mised where you supported your assertion by telling us which signatories signed and later recanted their support based on a reinterpretation?







  1. Now that GOP-controlled states have successfully passed legislation closing many Women's health centers, they've decided to spend the taxpayer's money on deception and lies instead:

    While this woman was a particularly entertaining communicator of right wing propaganda, she is hardly an anomaly. NARAL Virginia reached out to 56 of the 58 CPCs in Virginia with 77 phone calls and 10 in-person visits, and found that 71 percent of them gave medically inaccurate information. Forty of them falsely claimed that abortion causes psychological damage, with one clinic vividly telling the client that "the sound of a vacuum" would bring traumatic flashbacks. (Which is actually a good excuse to get out of housework.) Women were falsely told that early term abortions involve "saline injections" to kill the embryo, and were led to believe abortions are performed with hooks. Twenty gave inaccurate information about contraception, including telling clients that birth control pills are less effective than condoms and that the rhythm method is the most effective form.

    While it's certainly true that the Christian right is entitled to spin any tales and tell any lies they wish to justify their beliefs, the problem here is that CPCs do not present themselves as right wing Christian organizations most of the time, but rather try to seem like medical centers. Worse, they are increasingly getting government support, such as with the state funding through license plates, that may give them a sense of authority that they do not deserve. Exposes like this help, but states withdrawing all support from CPCs would help more.



  2. Maybe it's just me or maybe those photos, but does anyone else see a physical resemblance between Bernie and Ken Buck? Political simularities aside…

    1. Not just you, but: Bernie is the pregnant looking one. Buck is the one that looks more like Steve King, that R genius from Ohio. The are all so similar they might be three simulations. Of something else. Leading to amazing simularities.

      1. Bernie is not the sharpest knife in the drawer.  When the debate over whether Colorado Springs Utilities should retire the Martin-Drake coal plant in downtown Colorado Springs there was more than sufficient evidence that the 60-year old plant should be shut down and the city should transition to other sources.  Colorado Springs had a unique opportunity to partner with the military in it's 'Net Zero' energy roll-out and literally re-define itself as a national and international model of a 21st century city utility. 

        Studies by the local health organizations calculated the indirect health costs to the Springs citizens [in the hundreds of millions annually] and a real-estate study showed the drag on housing and commercial property values near the plant.  A water study showed the value of the fresh water consumed annually by the plant that could be used in other ways; the downtown business group made a compelling case on how the core of the business district could re-invent itself.

        An opportunity lost.  I sat in the City Council chambers and listened to Bernie summarily dismiss all of the data.  He cited the fact that because his wife had respiratory problems when they moved from Minnesota to Colorado Springs and that since their re-location she had suffered no problems as 'proof' the studies were bogus.  He voted to saddle the residents of Springs Utilities with decades of rate increases by keeping the coal plants in operation.

        He's just another old, ignorant white man who sees life in a very 'Leave it to Beaver' way.  Life has passed his generation by – and unfortunately he was still in a position of power when some very critical decisions about the future of the Pikes Peak Region were in play. 


  3. Beating your kid with a belt?  sure.  Hormonal birth control?  Murder.

    “We’re experimenting with different wording, and so this is a personhood amendment because it defines ‘person’ for the purpose of the criminal code to be every human being, and so it is 100 percent a personhood amendment, but it is coming at it from the fetal homicide and crimes against the unborn child perspective,” explained Enyart, speaking on behalf of Colorado Right to Life.

    “The Brady Amendment is about protecting all unborn children and getting justice for all unborn children who are victims, and so it’s about Brady, and it’s about all kids, protecting them from violent acts and crimes,” he continued. “So, sure, we’re trying to protect every child by love and by law — not just Brady… No one has the right to kill a baby.”

    Enyart, a talk radio host, has made several headlines over the years, including being a proponent of physical punishment of children. He was convicted of misdemeanor child abuse in 1994 after spanking his girlfriend’s child with a belt and served a jail sentence.


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