Michael Bennet Gets Ready to Jump

Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Denver)

As the Denver Post reports, there is about to be a second Coloradan in the pool of candidates seeking the Democratic Presidential nomination in 2020:

U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet is taking the final steps toward becoming the second Colorado Democrat in the 2020 race for president, with a possible announcement coming soon, sources familiar with his plan have told The Denver Post.

Craig Hughes, a longtime adviser, said a final decision has not been made.

“We’re making progress towards a decision and encouraged by what we are seeing and hearing,” Hughes said.

While an announcement is not imminent, Bennet could announce within a month, the Democratic sources said.

This is about as close as you can get to announcing that you are running for President without actually announcing that you are running for President.

 

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No Seriously, Where Is Cory Gardner This Recess?

We joked earlier today about a photo sent out by Sen. Cory Gardner’s social media accounts featuring Gardner behind the controls of a commercial aircraft, which as it turns out was a simulator at the United Airlines pilot training facility in the Stapleton neighborhood of Denver taken yesterday. So far as we know, that’s the only word that’s leaked out about Sen. Gardner’s whereabouts during the March congressional recess. ShareBlue’s Emily Singer reported earlier this week:

This week is a district work period for members of Congress — better known as a recess week, when lawmakers head home to meet with constituents and get a feel for what the voters who sent them to Capitol Hill want to see them work on in the nation’s capital.

Yet three vulnerable Republican senators up for re-election in 2020, who just voted to ignore the Constitution and uphold Trump’s fake national emergency, have no public events listed for constituents to attend, according to a review of senators’ official websites, campaign websites and social media accounts…

Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO), arguably the most vulnerable Republican incumbent senator facing re-election in 2020, also has no public events listed on his websites nor social media accounts. [Pols emphasis] Gardner was rebuked by his hometown newspaper, which revoked its endorsement of the senator after Gardner’s vote to uphold the fake emergency.

Sen. Gardner’s lack of accessibility by his constituents back home in Colorado is a long-running matter of record, with his last public town hall event apparently having occurred all the way back in November of 2017 in Pueblo. Gardner’s 2017 round of town halls were generally considered to be a public relations disaster, after angry constituents vocally rejected unsatisfying answers that did little to improve Gardner’s dented image.

But when you don’t do them at all, and everybody knows you’re in town…that’s worse.

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Hickenlooper Introduces Himself to America

Former Gov. John Hickenlooper

On Thursday Wednesday, former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper took the spotlight in the race to become the Democratic nominee for President in 2020 when he held a live CNN “town hall” event. Hickenlooper performed very well overall, but most of the attention following the event was about one specific exchange that highlights Hick’s inexperience with “soundbite politics.”

We would encourage you to watch the full town hall event yourself in order to understand the proper context for some of Hick’s remarks (for the Cliff’s Notes version, here are some key takeaways via CNN). But CNN also devotes a separate story to the one exchange that generated the most buzz on Thursday Wednesday evening:

Former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper said that he would consider putting a woman on his presidential ticket, and then asked why female Democratic presidential candidates are not being asked if they would select a man as their running mate.

The comment struck a number of Democrats as off base, especially considering that the nation has never had a female vice president.

“Governor,” CNN’s Dana Bash said at a presidential candidate town hall, “some of your male competitors have vowed to put a woman on the ticket. Yes or no, would you do the same?”

“Of course,” Hickenlooper said, before saying he wanted to ask Bash a question.

“How come we’re not asking more often the women, ‘Would you be willing to put a man on the ticket?’ ” he said with a shrug, to audible groans from the audience.

Gov. John Hickenlooper, left, with CNN’s Dana Bash on March 20, 2019

Obviously, this is not a good soundbite for Hickenlooper, but it’s much less cringeworthy when Hick gets a minute to explain:

Hickenlooper stood by the comment after the town hall, telling CNN that his point was “too often media discounts the chance of a woman winning” by asking questions like that.

What Hick was trying to do, in a nutshell, was to make the case that female candidates should be considered frontrunners on an equal plane with men and that asking a question about “would you put a woman on the ticket” is disrespectful to the women who are running for President. It’s a solid point that was inartfully articulated, and it would be a shame if it dogged Hick’s campaign for an extended period of time.

Hickenlooper also had a weird moment when telling a story about watching an adult movie with his mother — this is a yarn that he’s spun before that is also included in his memoir “The Opposite of Woe.” The story is entertaining, but the problem with telling it to a wider audience is that there is no real “moral” in conclusion; it’s not clear why Hickenlooper is talking about this, and in a Presidential race where soundbites can take on a life of their own, this probably isn’t a great clip for Hick.

Hickenlooper will certainly get better at this sort of thing the more he campaigns around the country, but “soundbite politics” are not his strong suit. This is partly because Hick just doesn’t have much experience in this regard; both of his campaigns for Governor featured massively-flawed opponents who didn’t have the ability to land solid punches. By the time Hick was running for re-election in 2014, the former Denver Mayor was a well-known character to voters along the Front Range who largely got the benefit of the doubt whenever he stumbled verbally. This is the same basic reason that Hick speaks out so often against “negative ads” — it’s easy to be critical of negative advertising when you have never had to worry about employing that strategy yourself.

Hickenlooper is not any more or less likely to win the 2020 Democratic nomination based on Thursday’s Wednesday’s performance. In fact, if he learns and grows from this experience as a candidate, this CNN “town hall” might even prove to be a landmark moment for his campaign.

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Biden Considering Adding Running Mate on Day One

Stacey Abrams and Joe Biden

Axios reports on an interesting idea apparently being considered by former Vice President Joe Biden:

Close advisers to former Vice President Joe Biden are debating the idea of packaging his presidential campaign announcement with a pledge to choose Stacey Abrams as his vice president.

Why it matters: The popular Georgia Democrat, who at age 45 is 31 years younger than Biden, would bring diversity and excitement to the ticket — showing voters, in the words of a close source, that Biden “isn’t just another old white guy.”

We’re less interested in who Biden might choose as a running mate (though Abrams would probably be a strong VP choice) than we are in the general possibility of picking a running mate early and not waiting until just a few months out from Election Day. New York Magazine’s “Intelligencer” thinks this is a grand idea:

The biggest single argument against naming Abrams at the beginning is that it just hasn’t been done before. [Pols emphasis] The closest parallel is Ted Cruz’s last-minute desperation gambit to name Carly Fiorina as his running mate in the closing stages of the 2016 primary. The fact that the combined charisma of Cruz and Fiorina was not enough to overcome Trump’s big lead hardly proves it can’t work. If anything, the lateness of the maneuver gave it a whiff of desperation. If Biden does wait, and his polling lead starts to melt, naming Abrams will have the same pitfall. The Cruz example argues for joining with Abrams on Day One.

Sometimes there’s a new idea that has not been done before for no good reason. “Political brilliance” is not a phrase I would normally associate with Joe Biden. But running with Stacey Abrams seems to qualify.

The more we think about this, the more intriguing it becomes — primarily because it’s different. In a field of dozens of Democrat candidates, different is good.

So, what say you, Polsters? Cast your vote below…

Is It a Good Idea for a Presidential Candidate to Choose a Running Mate Early?
Yes
No
View Result

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Caption This Photo: Today You’re Flying With Cory!

Courtesy the Airline Pilots Association, to whom Sen. Cory Gardner paid a visit yesterday during the ongoing congressional recess! The public in Colorado hasn’t seen hide nor hair of our junior Senator in quite some time, and as of now no public events are on the calendar–but as you can see, Sen. Gardner is having a ball behind closed doors.

Keep those seatbelts fastened, though, 2020 is looking increasingly turbulent.

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Who’s Ready For Some Good News?

Courtesy FOX 31:

To which we can only say

Back to you, news cycle.

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Trump’s Shameful McCain Obsession Continues

Sen. John McCain (left) and some other guy

As Politico reports, several prominent Republicans are (finally) coming to the defense of the late Sen. John McCain after President Trump started attacking McCain’s legacy as part of his Sunday Tweetstorm:

Senate Republicans are stepping up their defense of John McCain. And Donald Trump is ignoring them entirely.

In just his latest bid to tarnish McCain’s legacy and reshape the GOP in his own image, the president offered a new set of attacks on the dead Arizona senator even after Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) blasted Trump for “deplorable“ behavior on Wednesday and other Republicans issued statements defending their former colleague.

But Trump made clear at an appearance in Lima, Ohio, that he’s simply not going to adjust his public views of McCain just because it makes his own party uncomfortable.

Trump said on Wednesday of McCain that he “never liked him much … probably never will” and dinged him again for passing the Steele dossier, a mostly unverified report focusing on the president’s alleged ties to Russia, to the FBI. Trump said McCain’s vote against Obamacare repeal ended up “badly hurting our nation.” He also said McCain, who worked on expanding veterans’ health options with Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), “didn’t get the job done for our great vets in the V.A., and they knew it.”

Isakson, the Georgia Republican who chairs the Senate Veteran Affairs Committee, went off on Trump’s criticism of McCain in an interview with “The Bulwark” and called on fellow Republicans to follow suit. As Politico notes, South Carolina Sen. Lindsay Graham has spoken out meekly about Trump’s comments; mostly, Republicans like Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell have praised McCain but generally avoided talking about Trump:

Such a brave statement. 🙄

If Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) says anything about Trump’s repeated attacks on McCain, we’ll be sure to update this page. Maybe he’ll feel more like talking after seeing this ridiculousness from Trump today. The explanation in the Tweet below is only a slight exaggeration, as you’ll see from watching the video:

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So You Wanna Recall Jared Polis, Do You?

Gov. Jared Polis (D).

As Colorado Public Radio’s Hayley Sanchez reports, good luck with that:

The rules for recalling a governor include collecting signatures from 25 percent of the number of the voters who cast a ballot in the last election for governor.

More than 2.5 million people voted in last year’s governor’s race, said Colorado Secretary of State office spokeswoman Serena Woods. To get the recall on the ballot, the groups will need more than 631,000 signatures in the 60 days after the petition is approved by the state’s office. If they fall short, there will be no recall.

On top of that, no recall effort can begin circulating until after a governor has been in office for at least six months. Polis has been in office for two. Woods said the groups could still submit their paperwork to the state’s office but nothing can be done until the six-month period has passed.

In the past few weeks the rhetoric among Republican agitators has ramped up to a fever pitch, accusing majority Democrats in the legislature and Gov. Jared Polis of the highest imaginable crimes for passing in marathon public hearings the agenda they won the majority in 2018 campaigning on. Zeroing in on three principal grievances–the already-signed bill to join Colorado with the National Popular Vote Compact, a popular “red flag” bill to temporarily remove firearms from people in a mental health crisis, and of course the oil and gas drilling reform measure Senate Bill 19-181–Republicans have openly declared their intention to rekindle the rebellious fires of 2013 and punish Democrats for having the temerity to keep their promises.

If it seems like this is the new normal when Republicans can’t win a straight electoral fight, that’s because it is.

In the legislature, a recall movement is getting underway as an unprecedented in-house campaign operation run by the GOP House Minority Leader Patrick Neville. However that controversial move unfolds, initiating a recall against a statewide officeholder is a far more daunting prospect as evidenced by the massive signature count required to place the question on the ballot. Attempting to recall Gov. Polis, especially after letting passions cool the required six months to obtain a 60-day window to collect many times more valid signatures than a ballot measure requires, is not just a fool’s errand but a significant resource sink for Republicans already beset with infighting and demoralization.

The one thing we know in both cases is that no one can tell these people anything strategic. None of this is about political strategy. It’s about bitterness, ruthlessness, and at least in the case of Clan Neville it’s about money. The only thing that can stop it is…well, failure.

In this case, failure is the most likely outcome.

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Republican Lawmakers Proudly Refuse to Do Their Jobs

Senate Minority Leader Chris Holbert (R-Molasses).

Republican leaders in the State Senate spent much of their morning on Tuesday in a Denver courtroom after suing Democrats for using computers to read the text of a 2,000-page bill last week; Sen. John Cooke (R-Weld County) requested a full reading of HB-1172 in an effort to bring Senate business to a standstill over the GOP’s inability to stop an oil and gas regulations bill (SB-181) from moving forward. It was estimated that reading the entire text of the bill out loud would take at least six hours to complete – during which time no Senate business could be conducted on the floor.

Late Tuesday, a Denver judge ruled in favor of Republicans that computers cannot be used to read the text of bills at fast speeds, which is a minor victory for Republicans struggling to deal with their newfound impotence in state government. The implications of that ruling could be significant should Republicans decide to press their luck on this strategy.

Republican lawmakers could ask for any legislation to be read in its entirety before business is conducted, which would devour most of the time in a legislative session that comes to a close in early May.

As 9News reports, Republican leaders aren’t even pretending that they have a strategy other than just gumming up the works at every step:

After the hearing, Senate Minority Leader Chris Holbert (R-Parker) told 9NEWS political reporter Marshall Zelinger that this was the only tool Republicans had at their disposal in an effort to slow legislation.

“Right now we have one party control of the legislature, and again, this is the one tool where we can raise our hand, as the minority, and say slow down,” he said.

“Slow Down! Do Less!” As slogans go, it’s no “Hope and Change.”

Republicans are intentionally wasting time and money in the State Capitol. The electoral repercussions are not difficult to imagine. It’s hard for Republicans to make a strong case to 2020 voters when the GOP aggressively sought to impede legislative movement at every step of the way. “We have a proven track record of making sure that nothing happens in the State Senate – vote for us for State Senate!”

These stalling tactics are completely obvious to anyone paying even a lick of attention:

Nic Garcia, Denver Post political reporter

 

Before the final votes in the 2018 were even counted, Republicans were screeching “overreach” predictions about new Democratic majorities in the state legislature. There is a sad irony, then, that a political party obsessed with this singular narrative would be so blind about its own overreach.

Instead of trying to negotiate with majority Democrats on important issues, Republicans have threatened recalls, inflamed calls for “secession,” and organized “sanctuary counties” by encouraging local governments to refuse to obey proposed gun safety measures. In their zeal to protect their oil & gas industry overlords from SB-181, Republican lawmakers have stalled and filibustered and demanded that Democrats drag out a process that already includes six different committee hearings and two floor discussions.

As we have written before in this space, Republican lawmakers never had any intention of trying to govern now that they are in the minority. The House Minority Leader, Rep. Pat Neville (R-Castle Rock), is leading efforts to recall his colleagues while the legislature is in session. This sentence from a recent email from Neville about recall attempts speaks volumes about how little Republicans actually understand their current situation:

“The truth is – Democrats are completely out of touch with Colorado voters.”

If this were at all true, you’d have to come up with an explanation for 2018; Democrats won every statewide office for the first time in decades — including a double-digit victory in the race for Governor — expanded their House majority to a record number, took control of the State Senate, flipped a Republican-held Congressional seat (CO-6), and wiped out GOP candidates in local county races across the state. This is basically the exact opposite of being “out of touch with Colorado voters.”

Republican legislators are in the midst of a full-fledged political tantrum based on a bizarre and completely indefensible belief that Colorado voters want the GOP to stop the very party that they overwhelmingly elected just four months ago. In response, Democrats have no choice but to keep plugging along. You can’t negotiate with someone who won’t even show up to the table.

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Minority Leader, “Recall Director”–Now THAT’S Statesmanship

House Minority Leader Patrick Neville (R-Castle Rock)

Here’s the email blast that went out at 10:00AM from House Minority Leader Patrick Neville, writing in his alternate capacity as the newly-minted “Director” of Recall Colorado–an organization Neville is as of now fundraising for under the family’s Values First Colorado PAC to initiate recall elections against fellow House members:

From: “Rep. Patrick Neville” <director@recallcolorado.org>
Date: March 19, 2019 at 10:01:48 AM MDT
Subject: Democrats overreaching again
Reply-To: director@recallcolorado.org

Democrats in the General Assembly are rolling out an agenda that spits in the face of our Colorado values.

From undermining our ability to choose our President, to an unconstitutional gun grab, to indoctrinating students against parents’ wishes, Democrats are forcing overreaching legislation despite widespread opposition by Coloradans like you.

We’re launching a statewide effort to recall some of the worst Democrat offenders, and your support will be critical to ensuring our elected officials respect the will of the voters.

Will you help launch these recall efforts by chipping in $10, $25, $50 or even more today?

As you can see, Minority Leader Neville is dispensing with any pretense of separation between himself and his recall committee, presumably staffed and operated by the Neville family’s in-house political consultant firm Rearden Strategic. This would seem to be a deliberate choice, since either Neville’s father ex-Sen. Tim Neville or brother and longtime Rocky Mountain Gun Owners organizer Joe Neville could have served as the figurehead of the recall front group. It represents a significant departure from then-Senate Minority Leader Bill Cadman’s standoff support for the recalls in 2013.

It should go without saying the House Minority Leader taking a director role in a campaign to recall majority Democrats from office is a severe blow to whatever sense of bipartisan comity that may have existed this session. The situation is further complicated by negative press the Nevilles received over their management of House GOP “independent expenditure” efforts this last year, which ended in electoral disaster and hundreds of thousands of dollars anomalously left unspent. Charging headlong into a recall campaign might temporarily deflect questions about their mismanagement in 2018. But will any of the state’s GOP powerbrokers be willing to invest again?

Whatever happens next, what we have here is proof positive that the House minority under Patrick Neville isn’t serious about governing. If Minority Leader Neville wants to personally run a recall campaign against his House colleagues in the middle of a legislative session, he should resign first, at least from leadership–and then perhaps consider why so many fellow Republicans would be happy to see him go.

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Get More Smarter on Tuesday (March 19)

For the first time in six years, the Denver Nuggets are heading to the playoffs. It’s time to “Get More Smarter.” 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…

► Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) has plenty of explaining to do after his inexplicable vote last week to oppose a Senate measure condemning President Trump’s “emergency declaration” for wall building money. As the Colorado Springs Gazette reports, Gardner’s “promises” he claimed to have extracted from President Trump aren’t worth squat:

The Trump administration’s border wall project could raid $77 million in construction money from Fort Carson, according to a Pentagon list released to Congress on Monday.

The list, released to The Gazette by U.S. Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I., ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, puts more than $10 billion in military construction projects across the country and abroad on the chopping block since President Donald Trump declared a national emergency to build the barrier along the Mexican border. The emergency allows Trump to pull money from Pentagon accounts.

U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner, R-Colo., exacted a promise from the Trump administration last week that Colorado military construction money wouldn’t be “repurposed” for the wall, a promise that spokesman Jerrod Dobkin emphasized Monday. But the Pentagon included the Fort Carson project on its list.

Fort Carson was to provide troops with a long-awaited, improved vehicle maintenance shop to repair the post’s aging fleet of trucks, tanks and Humvees.

Really great work, Sen. Gardner.

 

► Colorado Senate Republican leaders are in a Denver courtroom today in a case that could set new standards over judicial involvement with the legislative branch. As Marshall Zelinger reports for 9News:

The 2019 legislative session took on a new look when a sitting lawmaker took the witness stand in a lawsuit pitting Senate Republicans against Senate Democrats and the non-partisan Senate staff.

Sen. Bob Gardner (R-Colorado Springs) took the witness stand in a Denver District Courtroom on Tuesday morning.

Gardner, along with Senate Minority Leader Chris Holbert (R-Parker) and Sen. John Cooke (R-Greeley) were excused from the Senate on Tuesday morning to be at a Denver City and County Building courtroom.

The trio have sued Senate President Leroy Garcia (D-Pueblo) and Senate Secretary Cindi Markwell over the computerized reading of a 2,000-page bill on March 11.

 

► Senate Bill 181 — the oil and gas reform legislation — is moving along in the State House after another 12-hour marathon of testimony that featured plenty of ridiculous rhetoric from Republicans:

 

► As Jon Murray reports for the Denver Post, state lawmakers are looking at a host of different options for transportation infrastructure funding.

 

Get even more smarter after the jump…

(more…)

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Drill Bill Passes “In The Dead Of Night” Again!

Photo courtesy Gov. Jared Polis

9NEWS’ Marshall Zelinger reports on the advancement in the House yesterday of Senate Bill 19-181, the year’s landmark legislation to reform oversight of the oil and gas industry–a 7-4 Energy and Environment Committee vote that took place, scandalously opponents would have you believe, well after midnight once again:

The House Energy and Environment Committee approved Senate Bill 181, the oil and gas reform package, in a 7-4 vote early Tuesday morning after another long night at the Colorado State Capitol.

The bill already passed the state Senate and had its first hearing in the House on Monday which began at 1:30 p.m. and didn’t wrap up until early Tuesday. The bill now goes to the House Finance committee for consideration.

The Denver Post’s Bruce Finley:

State lawmakers’ attempt to re-focus Colorado’s regulation of the $10 billion fossil-fuel industry gained momentum Monday after scores of supporters and opponents packed a first committee hearing in the House on the proposed oil and gas legislation…

Now oil and gas industry leaders are calling the new legislation, launched at the start of the month, “sweeping” and “an overhaul.” The Colorado Petroleum Council, a branch of the American Petroleum Institute, last week launched campaign-style television ads opposing the legislation-in-progress, accusing state lawmakers of operating “in the middle of the night” — a March 5 hearing in the Senate ran from the afternoon to past midnight — and claiming that the legislation is “to shut down energy production in Colorado.”

9NEWS’ fact check of an ad running from the American Petroleum Institute–the same API that employs former Denver Mayor Wellington Webb to attack this bill–underscores the biggest hole in the oil and gas industry’s process grievance against SB-181, the claim that the bill is being passed “in the dead of night” or otherwise without adequate input from the public. The truth is that this legislation has been through exhaustive hearings in the Senate featuring hours of public testimony in addition to last night’s hearing that again went well past midnight–technically “in the dead of night,” sure, but ignoring the hours of public testimony that preceded the late-night vote.

At this point, the gap between industry scare tactics and reality is sufficiently wide that there is little to be gained from further hours-long processions of the same rehashed arguments. But it’s useful to point out again that at least in the Senate hearings, grassroots supporters of the bill actually outnumbered the mostly-paid employees of the oil and gas industry who turned out to protest on the clock. We haven’t seen the exact breakdown of supporters vs. opponents from yesterday’s hearing but we’re told it’s a similar story.

In summary, the industry and their Republican minority backers in the legislature are determined to spin this bill as some kind of tyranny. But the facts, from the process to pass the legislation to the true composition of the crowds thronging the capitol to argue both for and against it, consistently fail to live up to the spin.

As for the doom and gloom predictions from the same parties of the bill’s effects? Experience will be the only cure for that. Grownups can read what’s in the bill, but purposefully misinformed opponents are just going to have wait until after it’s passed and does not “destroy the oil and gas industry” to see the truth for themselves.

Just like Nancy Pelosi said.

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Tuesday Open Thread

“The trouble with most of us is that we would rather be ruined by praise than saved by criticism.”

–Norman Vincent Peale

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Trump’s Sunday Twitter Bender Renews Health Concerns

President Trump spends a lot of time on Twitter, as we all know. But Trump’s Sunday Twitter bender, which included an astounding 29 Tweets and Re-Tweets on a dizzying array of subjects, was a bit concerning for a number of reasons.

As conservative political analyst Bill Kristol asked on Sunday:


While White House adviser Kellyanne Conway continues to defend President Trump at every turn, her husband, George Conway, doesn’t share that confidence. From CNN:

This weekend, as Trump was lobbing his own Twitter invective in all directions, George Conway responded with screengrabs showing the medical definitions of narcissistic personality disorder and antisocial personality disorder from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.

“*All* Americans should be thinking seriously *now* about Trump’s mental condition and psychological state, including and especially the media, Congress—and the Vice President and Cabinet,” he wrote.

On Sunday, he stated simply: “His condition is getting worse.”

Before you try to argue against that point, make sure you have an explanation for…whatever this means:

CNN’s Chris Cillizza lists out the smorgasbord of topics that caught Trump’s fancy on St. Patrick’s Day and tries to find the proper perspective to understand these rants:

Twitter — I’ve long argued — is where the truest form of Trump comes out. It’s his Twitter feed — not official White House statements or signing ceremonies — where we find out what is on Trump’s mind and what he really thinks about his presidency and the world.

When you think of it that way, what we witnessed on Sunday is somewhere between concerning and absolutely terrifying. The most powerful man in the country — and maybe the world — spent his day touting unproven conspiracy theories about stolen elections, suggesting collusion between Democrats and comedians, attacking a military hero and Republican senator, and trying to program his favorite cable network’s broadcasts. And he did all of this while failing to send even a single tweet about the tragic mass shooting in New Zealand.

As conservative columnist Jennifer Rubin writes for the Washington Post, there’s no hope in sight that Republicans — like Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) — might actually push back a little:

There is no moral or intellectual reason that will persuade them. There is no respectful conversation to be had with people who argue in bad faith. The only solution is to defeat Trump and his party so thoroughly that Trumpism is permanently discredited. A party that continues to defend this president is simply beyond redemption.

We’ll leave you with this note from political scientist Brian Klaas:

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Truth Check on Oil & Gas Industry Attack on SB-181

Marshall Zelinger of 9News breaks down a television ad you may have seen over the weekend from oil and gas industry opponents of SB-181, legislation that seeks to prioritize health and safety concerns in decisions about drilling and extraction. The verdict is another strike for the industry’s flailing narrative of opposition:

CLAIM: “But a handful of politicians didn’t like that result and think they knew better. So now they’re trying to ignore the voters and pass a law in the middle of the night, to shut down energy production in Colorado.”

VERDICT: This section is full of overstatements.

“Pass a law in the middle of the night” is not accurate at all. [Pols emphasis]

The bill, Senate Bill 181, is the oil and gas reform bill that would give local governments control over where oil and gas operations could set up. It would also change the makeup of the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission – the state regulators – to include fewer members from the oil and gas industry and one with an expertise in public health. The commission would also have to start making decisions considering public health and safety first.

The first committee hearing for this bill was on March 5. The hearing started at 2 p.m. The vote that passed it out of the committee didn’t happen until nearly 2 a.m. 9NEWS had a camera and reporter at the committee hearing, as did other news media. The public testified before and against the bill throughout the 12-hour hearing. While the bill was voted on early in the morning, it wasn’t passed blindly with no one noticing or participating.

As we’ve pointed out before in this space, arguments that Democratic lawmakers are being secretive about the legislation and speeding the bill through the State Capitol are just plain silly and easily refutable. Attempts to muddy the story being told by Erin Martinez, whose family was devastated after a home explosion in Firestone, have fallen equally flat.

Senate Bill 181 made it through the State Senate last week. Today it makes its first stop in a State House committee, one of three committees it will go through before a floor discussion and vote.

Today begins the third full week of discussions about SB-181.

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Wunderkind To Weak Loser: Cory Gardner’s Worst Week

Sen. Cory Gardner (R).

Last week’s vote by the U.S. Senate to terminate President Donald Trump’s border wall national emergency, in which Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado ended weeks of self-generated confusion over his shifting stands on the issue and voted to protect the President, provoked a backlash against Gardner locally that feels much different and more profound than previous such episodes. Kicked off by the Denver Post’s retraction of their controversial 2014 endorsement of Gardner’s election Thursday, Gardner’s last few days of earned media have been easily some of the most brutal of his career.

The Hill:

“Gardner has been too busy walking a political tight rope to be a leader. He has become precisely what we said in our endorsement he would not be: ‘a political time-server interested only in professional security,’” the editorial board wrote. “Trump’s declaration is an abuse of his power, a direct overturning of Congress’ deliberate decision to pass a federal budget without funding for a wall.”

“Put simply this is a constitutional crisis and one of Colorado’s two senators has failed the test,” the paper added. “We no longer know what principles guide the senator and regret giving him our support in a close race against Mark Udall.”

Gardner is one of the Democrats’ top targets heading into the 2020 election cycle, as they hope to capitalize on Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton’s victory in The Centennial State in 2016. Though the Colorado Republican often touts his bipartisanship, Gardner votes with Trump over 90 percent of the time, according to FiveThirtyEight.

Roll Call’s Emily Kopp:

In its 2014 endorsement, The Denver Post lauded Gardner as an energetic moderate, citing what the paper described as his “restraint” toward military spending. The editorial board cheered the Yuma Republican, saying the Senate “needs fresh leadership, energy and ideas, and Cory Gardner can help provide them in the U.S. Senate.”

The most recent editorial states that optimism is no longer warranted.

Fox News’ Kathleen Joyce:

“This is a bogus emergency that takes executive over-reach to an extreme not seen even under President Barack Obama,” the op-ed stated. “Trump’s declaration is an abuse of his power, a direct overturning of Congress’ deliberate decision to pass a federal budget without funding for a wall.”

The Post said it was “surprised by Gardner’s vote” and called it “inconsistent with every stance he has taken on Trump’s presidency.”

There’s been much debate since 2014 about the role of the Denver Post’s endorsement in Gardner’s narrow victory over incumbent Democratic Sen. Mark Udall, by far the most substantial victory Colorado Republicans have enjoyed in well over a decade of mostly consecutive electoral defeats in this state. Udall was well-loved by the Democratic base in Colorado and respected by his Senate colleagues, and his defeat by Gardner was a bitter pill that has left lingering resentment to this day–not least toward the Denver Post for their dismissive endorsement of Gardner.

In particular, as Westword’s Chase Woodruff astutely observed this weekend, was the arrogant manner in which the Post’s editorial board brushed off legitimate concerns about Gardner’s record:

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King Soopers Workers Vote To Stee-rike

Denver7’s Robert Garrison reports:

Members of the union representing Kroger-owned King Soopers/City Market employees voted Friday night overwhelmingly to authorize a strike.

More than 92 percent voted in favor of walking off the job, according to the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 7 union…

A strike date has not been set, but a strike authorization allows union leadership to call for a strike at any moment going forward, according to a release from the union.

UFCW Local 7’s contract with Safeway stores, the other major neighborhood grocer in Colorado, is not affected by this impasse between the union and The Kroger Company. That and the proliferation of grocery options since the last time UFCW workers went on strike in 1996 in theory puts Kroger in a much more difficult position–it’s going to be a very easy logistical decision for consumers who don’t want to cross a picket line to get their groceries somewhere else.

It’s possible that the leverage union negotiators now possess with the authorization to strike in hand will bear fruit in last-minute negotiations that Kroger agreed to following the vote. We’ll update with news on that front–or when it’s time to look at your grocery alternatives–as it becomes available.

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Erin Martinez: Where The GOP’s Demonization Breaks Down

Erin Martinez, with her husband Mark who died in the April 2017 Firestone home explosion.

A story in the Colorado Sun by veteran local political reporter Jesse Paul takes an in-depth look at the role of one woman in the ongoing passage of Senate Bill 19-181, legislation to grant more local control over oil and gas drilling decisions as well as changing the mission of state regulators to protect public safety over “fostering” a for-profit industry. Erin Martinez was nearly killed inside her home in the gaspatch town of Firestone in Weld County after an uncapped flowline leading to a disused well owned by Anadarko Petroleum filled underground spaces in the home with odorless raw natural gas. The resulting explosion killed Martinez’s husband and brother while leaving Erin Martinez herself with serious injuries.

The experience, as Jesse Paul reports, turned Erin Martinez into an activist with nobody’s prodding:

“I’m not being exploited,” she said. “I asked to be involved.”

With her life upended by the force of the blast that lifted her family’s home off its foundation and rearranged it into a fiery pile of debris, Martinez told her mother during her recovery that she wasn’t going to let another family go through what happened to her. That launched her on a journey that recently became public and is loudly making its way through the Colorado General Assembly…

“I think it’s important for people to understand that Sen. Fenberg and the governor and the Democrats, they didn’t come to me and ask me to get involved and use my story,” she said. “I came to them. I reached out and I said that I wanted to get involved and that I didn’t want to be behind the scenes.” [Pols emphasis]

While Senate Bill 19-181 does not specifically address the issue of abandoned wells and encroaching new development, the bill’s change of the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission’s (COGCC) mission to prioritize public safety represents a systemic shift leading to better diligence by regulators and producers alike–all of which will help ensure such a tragedy doesn’t happen again.

Politically, there’s no question that Erin Martinez’s support and public advocacy on the issue has made it much more difficult for the oil and gas industry and their Republican champions in the legislature to employ their usual demeaning stereotypes about their opponents. Mark Martinez and Joey Irwin, the two men killed in the April 2017 Firestone home explosion, both worked in the oil and gas industry like so many of their neighbors in Weld County. Martinez makes it clear that she doesn’t want the industry destroyed any more than she would have wanted her own husband to lose his job. Martinez and the tragedy she experienced refocus the questions about regulating oil and gas drilling in Colorado where they belong: away from political caricatures, and back to what our priorities should be as a society.

And that gives Erin Martinez a voice louder than a thousand paid protesters.

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Get More Smarter on Friday (March 15)

Happy early St. Patrick’s Day. It’s time to “Get More Smarter.” 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…

► Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) is in a very bad place, politically-speaking, after his inexplicable vote on Thursday to oppose a Senate measure (which passed anyway) condemning President Trump’s “emergency declaration” for wall building money. Gardner’s decision so incensed the Denver Post editorial board that the newspaper essentially retracted its 2014 endorsement of his Senate candidacy:

Yowza!

 

As the New York Times reports, President Trump made a number of calls to Republican Senators in hopes of persuading them to vote “NO” on the resolution. Was Gardner among those who received a personal call? As one Republican donor told Politico, “Beware the fury of Trump.”

 

► On Wednesday, the House of Representatives overwhelmingly voted on a resolution encouraging the full public release of the final report from special investigator Robert Mueller. Nationwide polling has consistently shown that Americans want to see the full report, and a new Colorado poll echoes that sentiment. From the publication formerly known as the Colorado Statesman:

Public Policy Polling — on behalf of left-leaners ProgressNow Colorado and Protect the Investigation —surveyed 543 registered Colorado voters between March 7 and March 8.

According to a press release about the poll, 77 percent of voters expect “a full, public report” on the investigation’s findings. The Justice Department, under President Trump, will determine how much of the report is submitted to Congress and, by association, the public.

The liberal groups said the poll indicated 57 percent “believe that the Special Counsel investigation has already uncovered crimes by associates close to Donald Trump.”

 

► So-called “red flag” legislation makes its way to the State Senate today after passing the House last week. Meanwhile, Governor Jared Polis and Attorney General Phil Weiser are speaking out against pressure from right-wing Republicans to encourage individual counties in Colorado to just refuse to enforce an Extreme Risk Protection Order (ERPO).

 

►  The Joint Budget Committee gets a new look at Colorado’s budget numbers today, which could play a significant role in how the legislature proceeds on one of Gov. Polis’ signature issues of offering free full-day Kindergarten in Colorado.

 

 

Get even more smarter after the jump…

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Friday Open Thread

“Success is due to our stretching to the challenges of life. Failure comes when we shrink from them.”

–John C. Maxwell

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