Okay, Polsters — it’s almost time to put on your debate pants. Let’s Get More Smarter with Colorado Pols! If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example).
TOP OF MIND TODAY…
► Famous rich person Donald Trump will be center-stage, literally and figuratively, during the first major debate of the 2016 Presidential election in Cleveland tonight. The Washington Post previews the big event(s):
By virtue of his polling lead, Trump will be positioned at center stage, flanked by Bush and Walker, who have averaged second and third, respectively. The rest of the top 10 candidates will fan out from there, while the remaining seven candidates will participate in a 5 p.m. undercard debate. (One of the seven, Carly Fiorina, dubbed it the “happy-hour debate.”)
The Cleveland showdown opens a new phase of direct combat for the Republicans. A debate once envisioned as an introductory forum has become an unpredictable drama, thanks to Trump’s rise. Millions of voters are expected to tune in — and most of the candidates have privately acknowledged the high stakes.
“Debates are great levelers,” said veteran GOP consultant Alex Castellanos. “There is a physics to this. . . . Somebody is going to have a big moment where they show their best and true self.” Everyone wonders, he added, “Who is that person going to be?”
This debate is probably too much, too soon for a Republican Presidential field that has barely begun to sort itself out, but that doesn’t make it any less important. Remember: Early debates in the 2012 election cycle provided momentum for the likes of former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and all but ended the Presidential hopes of Texas Gov. Rick Perry.
Colorado Pols will be running our traditional Debate Diary during both of the debates today. We’ll be live-blogging the big event at 7:00 pm, of course, but we can’t resist watching the Junior Varsity debate, which is scheduled to start at 3:00 (5:00 pm EST).
► Pennsylvania’s Attorney General faces charges over an alleged grand jury leak. Governing magazine wonders why there are so many state Attorney Generals facing serious legal problems in 2015…including Colorado’s own Attorney General, Cynthia Coffman.
A striking number of current and former state AGs are facing criminal charges or investigations. The five cases, which range from allegations of corruption to campaign finance violations, are unrelated and differ in levels of seriousness…
…And in Colorado, critics accused GOP Attorney General Cynthia Coffman of extortion, saying that she and a former congressman and a county party chair warned state GOP Chair Steve House that if he didn’t resign, word would get out about an alleged affair.
“I think this is something that will follow her,” said former GOP state House Speaker Frank McNulty.
Get even more smarter after the jump…
IN CASE YOU ARE STANDING NEAR A WATER COOLER…
► The third and final stage of the Aurora Theater Shooting Trial may come to a close as soon as today. From the Aurora Sentinel:
The jury could hear closing arguments in the case as soon as Thursday. Prosecutors were set to call their last witness Wednesday, and the defense was expected to not call any of their own.
The same jury that convicted Holmes of murder last month will then decide whether he should be sentenced to death for his crimes.
► There was another movie theater attack on Wednesday in Nashville, Tennessee. Police shot and killed a man who attacked theater-goers with pepper spray, a pellet gun, and a hatchet.
► President Obama is putting the hard sell on Congressional Democrats to support his foreign policy plan for dealing with Iran. “Congressional rejection of this deal leaves any U.S. administration that is absolutely committed to preventing Iran from getting a nuclear weapon with one option, another war in the Middle East,” said Obama during a Wednesday speech at American University.
► The Jefferson County teacher’s union continues negotiations on a new contract this evening. The debate has stalled on the issue of contract length; teachers have thus far been offered only a 10-month contract, a far cry from the traditional two-year contract that the school district normally offers. It doesn’t help discussions when the school district is also going to extreme lengths to keep new teachers away from leaders in the teacher’s union, as the Denver Post reports:
Many metro-area school districts held welcome and training events for hundreds of new teachers this week, but union officials said Denver Public Schools and Jefferson County Public Schools made changes to how the union was allowed to participate.
This comes as union officials in DPS and Jefferson County are in contentious contract negotiations with the districts over teacher pay changes.
The Jefferson County Education Association has in years past hosted a breakfast or lunch during the welcome events, but this year it was not invited, association communications director Scott Kwasny said…
…On Tuesday, he said they had a couple dozen veteran teachers in the parking lot of Green Mountain High School, where training was being held, “just cheering and welcoming new teachers, really building that sense of community,” he said. “They called the police first and threatened teachers with trespassing violations if we didn’t move off the school property.”
Classy move, Jeffco.
► Democratic Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton is spending $2 million for early commercial TV time in Iowa and New Hampshire. As Politico reports, Clinton strategists are trying to define their candidate early and often while Republicans are focused on their 16-person Primary field.
► The first Presidential Primary debate for Democrats will be hosted by CNN on October 13 in Nevada. A total of six Democratic debates have been scheduled.
► The Animas River in San Juan County has been contaminated with 1 million gallons of spilled wastewater from the Gold King Mine near Silverton.
OTHER LINKS YOU SHOULD CLICK
► Jon Stewart will sign off as host of “The Daily Show” tonight. Some “Daily Show” fans decided to hack Donald Trump’s corporate website as a parting “gift” for Stewart.
► Concerns are growing over the likelihood of large-scale election fraud in Kansas, though Republicans are doing their best to stymie any investigations:
According to the Wichita Eagle, Wichita State mathematician Beth Clarkson has found irregularities in election returns from Sedgwick County, along with other counties throughout the United States, but has faced stiff opposition from the state in trying to confirm whether the irregularities are fraud or other, less-nefarious anomalies.
Analyzing election returns at a precinct level, Clarkson found that candidate support was correlated, to a statistically significant degree, with the size of the precinct. In Republican primaries, the bias has been toward the establishment candidates over tea partiers. In general elections, it has favored Republican candidates over Democrats, even when the demographics of the precincts in question suggested that the opposite should have been true.
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