Happy “Autumnal Equinox,” everybody! Try saying “Autumnal Equinox” three times fast. It’s time to 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). If you are more of a visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show.
TOP OF MIND TODAY…
► Last week some polls showed Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump apparently gaining momentum on Democrat Hillary Clinton. This week, it seems, that narrative is no longer accurate. A new poll from Colorado Mesa University and Rocky Mountain PBS shows Clinton with a 44-35 lead over Trump in Colorado — right about where Clinton had been polling prior to last week’s outlier results.
► Opponents of Obamacare in Colorado are unabashedly cheering the news that health insurance premiums are expected to rise in 2017, but that’s only a piece of the story. Insurance premiums are not rising 20% across-the-board, as Charles Ashby notes for the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel.
► Republican State Senator Randy Baumgardner is running into some trouble as he campaigns for re-election. As journalist David O. Williams reports, Baumgardner is having trouble answering questions about repeated instances of using state resources for his own benefit through the Colorado Department of Transportation:
The Rocky Mountain Post obtained the results of a Colorado Open Records Act request filed with the Colorado Department of Transportation last spring revealing that Randy and Lori Baumgardner were involved in three different incidents of personal use of state property.
Randy Baumgardner worked for the state highway department for 11 years starting in 2000, and his wife Lori still works for CDOT. Lori Baumgardner received multiple Performance Documentation Forms for incidents that also involved her husband, including the improper use of a fuel card PIN number in 2009, using CDOT sand on their ranch in 2014, and earlier this year using CDOT office photocopy machines to duplicate their tax returns.
Get even more smarter after the jump…
IN CASE YOU ARE STANDING NEAR A WATER COOLER…
► Senator Chris Coons (D-Delaware) fired off a pretty hilarious criticism of Donald Trump last weekend. As the Associated Press reports:
Speaking Sunday at an annual Democratic rally in southern Delaware, Coons called Trump “a thin-skinned reality TV star” and “a Cheeto-faced short-fingered vulgarian.”
Coons also described Trump as “a serial developer of casinos and beauty pageants” whose knowledge of Russia and its president, Vladimir Putin, “seems so shallow as to shock the conscience.”
On creativity alone, it’s going to be awfully difficult to top this one-liner about Trump: “A Cheeto-faced short-fingered vulgarian.”
► Chris Cillizza of “The Fix” thinks that much of Donald Trump’s support is really related to a general disillusionment among some voters about the direction of the country in general.
► Democrat Hillary Clinton continues to generate bipartisan support for her campaign for President. From Yahoo news:
Seventy-five former ambassadors, including 57 appointed by Republican presidents, released a letter Thursday endorsing Hillary Clinton and criticizing Donald Trump as “entirely unqualified” for the office.
“As career officers, we have served every President since Harry Truman, and have proudly represented every President since Richard Nixon as ambassadors or senior State Department officials in Senate-confirmed positions,” the letter obtained by Yahoo News reads. “We have served Republican and Democratic Presidents with pride and enthusiasm.” The Washington Post also reported on the letter.
But the diplomats said this election is different, with one candidate “unqualified” to serve in part because his rhetoric has “comforted our enemies.” They highlighted Trump’s praise and “admiration” for Russian President Vladimir Putin, as well as the mogul’s recent remark that U.S. generals have been “reduced to rubble” under President Obama.
One of the career diplomats who signed the letter, Ryan Crocker, was picked by George W. Bush to be his ambassador to Pakistan and then Iraq. Another of the group, Daniel Kurtzer, was Bush’s pick for ambassador to Israel.
► Colorado’s ratio of Trumpians to average citizens is skewed today. Two of Donald Trump’s children, Ivanka Trump and Donald Trump, Jr. are campaigning for their father in Colorado today, as is Vice Presidential nominee Mike Pence.
Bennet’s campaign declined to give a reason that it refused requests to appear at debates hosted by Denver’s CBS4 and Colorado Springs’ 11 News, also a CBS affiliate. It is only the second time in CBS4’s history that a candidate declined to participate in its debate, the station said. The other: Democrat Mark Udall, who lost in 2014 to Cory Gardner.
Earlier, Republican challenger Darryl Glenn refused to participate in a debate that was to be hosted by The Denver Post and Denver7, the local ABC affiliate. Glenn has said he is boycotting The Post because of a series of stories and subsequent editorials it ran that focused on conflicting stories he offered about his 1983 assault charge that was later dismissed.
Now, the two candidates will meet in only one televised debate hosted Oct. 11 by 9News and the Denver Business Journal — and only two debates total. The only other U.S. Senate debate occurred Sept. 10 at the Club 20 meeting in Grand Junction. Both candidates are expected to attend a Denver Chamber of Commerce forum, but the format is not yet finalized.
We’d be more inclined to raise concerns about this debate schedule if not for the fact that Glenn has absolutely no chance of even being competitive against Bennet in November.
► Fox 31 profiles the race for state senate in SD-19 (Arvada), which remains the most significant legislative contest of 2016.
► Donald Trump is blaming President Obama — of course he is — for unrest in Charlotte, North Carolina, following another questionable shooting death at the hands of a police officer.
► Big Tobacco is spending big money in Colorado as it attempts to convince voters not to approve a new tax increase on cigarettes. Meanwhile, new research documenting the devastating effects of smoking show that cigarettes may permanently damage your DNA.
► Donald Trump the businessman is benefitting financially from Donald Trump the Presidential candidate. As Politico reports, Trump’s campaign has already paid $8.2 million to various Trump-related businesses.
OTHER LINKS YOU SHOULD CLICK
► This is probably not the best approach for trying to appeal to African-American voters. As the Washington Post reports:
Donald Trump did yet another town hall with Sean Hannity on Wednesday, with this one being focused on issues of significance to African Americans voters. It was scheduled to air Wednesday night, but was preempted by coverage of the race-infused protests in Charlotte. Fox News has released a transcript, which is below.
Over the course of the town hall, Trump continued his uneven attempt to appeal to African Americans, saying the crime in Chicago is “worse than Afghanistan.” He also called for a nationwide program akin to the controversial New York City stop-and-frisk program that was struck down in 2013 and the black community strongly opposed. Don King even made an appearance.
► Marianne Goodland of the Colorado Independent breaks down the latest campaign finance reports for state legislative races in Colorado.
► If you can’t trust “Big Soda,” then who can you trust?