“Recall Polis 2021” Sets Sights On Double #Fail

Checking in as we periodically do on what’s promised to be a third recall campaign against Gov. Jared Polis, there’s a lot of chatter suggesting that another petition drive is in the offing at the end of the month. Readers will recall that the Recall Polis 2021 campaign has promised a 400% bigger effort than the 2020 recall campaign, which is good because Recall Polis 2020 was much less successful than the Recall Polis 2019 campaign was and…well, the math gets complicated but you get the idea. There’s just not much reason at this point to take any of this seriously.

Especially now that their “400% bigger operation” just doubled their workload:

That’s right, folks! Rather than waiting for the general election at its regular allotted interval in November of 2022, this is now apparently a campaign to recall both Gov. Jared Polis and Secretary of State Jena Griswold. We haven’t seen the campaign’s list of grievances against Griswold specifically as of this writing, presumably Scott Gessler is still writing that up at his billable rate of $450 an hour. But to be clear, the signature requirement to qualify a recall question for the ballot against a sitting Secretary of State is the same as recalling Gov. Polis–and the previous two petition campaigns against Gov. Polis came nowhere close to the 630,000+ valid voter signatures required for a recall to move forward. We’ll never even know how far short the second effort fell because they never turned in their signatures to be verified.

As for why they decided to add Secretary of State Griswold, greatly increasing the logistical hurdle they’ve never once come close to successfully reaching for the much higher profile governor himself?

In the timeless words of Forrest Gump, “stupid is as stupid does.”

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Weekend Open Thread

“Many a calm river begins as a turbulent waterfall, yet none hurtles and foams all the way to the sea.”

–Mikhail Lermontov

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Colorado’s Eighth Congressional District Taking Shape

This proposal from COHCC places an 8th CD in the North Metro area (the pink map).

As The Colorado Sun explains in “The Unaffiliated” newsletter, the Colorado Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (COHCC) is pushing for a congressional redistricting map that places a new 8th CD in the North Metro area:

The group wants the new district to be drawn in north metro Denver and be 35% Hispanic.

The district would include Berthoud, Greeley, Firestone, Dacono, Frederick, Fort Lupton, Longmont, Erie, Northglenn, Brighton and Thornton. In a video, the Hispanic Chamber noted the Interstate 25 corridor north of Denver had the highest growth in the state in the past decade, based on 2019 population estimates.

The chamber said the common interest among those cities includes balancing public health with the economics of oil and gas development.

The city of Aurora would remain in the 6th District, under the Hispanic Chamber’s plan.

A zoomed-in look at the Congressional redistricting map proposed by COHCC.

This proposal from COHCC seems to be gaining some traction in the redistricting discussion. According to a press release from COHCC, “The district prioritizes communities of interest that may be subject to federal legislation around growth and transportation and the intersection of oil and gas development with air- and water-quality concerns.” The group’s website explains the new 8th CD thusly:

This 8th CD is designed as a minority-influence district, with Latinos comprising nearly a third of the voting-age population, and should be competitive for both parties…

…We believe it is critical to avoid any attempts to “pack” minority voices into a single district under the guise of creating a majority-minority district.

The nonpartisan staff for Colorado’s Independent Congressional Redistricting Commission will release a first look at a potential new map on June 23.

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Depart Dudley, For KBB Never Knew Ye

Colorado GOP chairwoman Kristi Burton Brown in 2021.

The conclusion of this year’s historically productive session of the Colorado General Assembly was marred, as readers know, by a failed attempt by the hard right wing of the House Republican minority to remove Minority Leader Hugh McKean from his position immediately following adjournment. Freshman Rep. “RagingRon Hanks led the rhetorical assault on McKean, but as the Denver Post’s Alex Burness explains, the same old factional split with which the House GOP started out the session is what’s driving the ongoing conflict:

To the 24 caucus members gathered, Hanks complained they were ineffective, unwilling to fight the Democrats in the majority and generally rudderless. He called for the ousting of the caucus leader, Loveland Rep. Hugh McKean. Over about 45 minutes, the Republicans snapped at one another, cursed, fought over the basic rules of how the meeting should be run — all in front of the media and House GOP staffers.

Recall that McKean became the leader because the caucus decided to move on from former leader and current Rep. Patrick Neville of Castle Rock, who has a record of going after his own colleagues and has been accused by former and sitting Republican lawmakers of mismanaging campaign funds.

The pro-Neville faction, of which Hanks is a part, appears to be even more out of power than a year ago. Other than Lauren Boebert, the far-right, no-compromise culture-war stuff just hasn’t worked on voters, which is one big reason the Colorado GOP is out of power…

Yesterday afternoon, Colorado Republican Party chairwoman Kristi Burton Brown weighed in with a statement co-signed by almost all of the House Republicans who voted 15-8 against ousting McKean, calling out infamous “no compromise” gun-rights organization Rocky Mountain Gun Owners by name in a turnabout that makes the head spin:

Together with Representatives Baisley, Bradfield, Carver, Catlin, Geitner, Holtorf, Larson, Lynch, McKean, Pelton, Pico, Rich, Soper, Van Beber, Will, and Woog, the Colorado GOP urges our fellow Republicans to dismiss false accusations that any member of our House caucus is anti-gun. Every Republican elected to our State House is an ardent supporter of the Second Amendment and will continue to defend each Coloradan’s constitutional right to defend themselves and their families.

This session, Democrats shamefully voted to endanger Coloradans’ concealed carry permits and take away their right to self-defense. Rocky Mountain Gun Owners should join in defending lawful gun owners against the real opponents of the Second Amendment — the Democrats.

Kristi Burton Brown’s public rebuke of RMGO is especially noteworthy since just two years ago in 2019, KBB and RMGO were allies in the disastrous failed recall campaign against Rep. Tom Sullivan of Centennial. The hubris of the Sullivan recall helped break the back of the larger campaign mounted by Republicans following the 2019 legislative session to target vulnerable lawmakers and Gov. Jared Polis for recall campaigns, but it didn’t hurt KBB personally as she ascended to the post of party chairwoman. If anything, the failed recall gave KBB some juice with the conservative grassroots.

Despite the fact that McKean survived the attempt to remove him from his Minority Leader post, the underlying conflict between the “suits” wing of the Republican Party and the activist base who the Neville clan still very much aspires to speak for is not going away. Rep. Lauren Boebert’s low-information big-MAGA energy helped propel KBB past her opposition for party chairwoman, but since then KBB has gone off-message in some troubling ways for conservatives: suggesting that a focus on abortion doesn’t win elections, that there’s no “loyalty test” to former President Donald Trump in today’s Republican Party, and now siding with the corporate wing of the party over her erstwhile RMGO allies.

All we can say is that either KBB has learned a lesson, or she’s about to.

Because this isn’t over, and RMGO has never once in our experience gone away quietly.

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No Surprise: Lauren Boebert Plays Poorly In Pueblo

Rep. Lauren Boebert (R).

A feature-length story today from Politico’s Jennifer Oldham has one of the more comprehensive recent examinations of what may be the hardest region of Colorado to nail down politically: Pueblo, the diverse working-class southern Colorado population center that might (load-bearing “might” here) play a major role in ousting freshman Rep. Lauren Boebert in 2022:

Since her election last November, in a district that sprawls across a huge swath of the mountains and ranch lands that make up the western half of Colorado, Boebert, 34, has become known as one of Donald Trump’s most outspoken acolytes in Congress. A restaurant owner who had never run for office before she declared her candidacy in late 2019, Boebert tried to stop the certification of the 2020 presidential election and made a show of carrying a gun inside the U.S. Capitol in her early days in Congress. On Twitter, she frequently attacks Biden and other Democrats; during the January 6 insurrection, she tweeted out House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s location to her hundreds of thousands of followers.

Among voters in Pueblo—the largest and most politically unpredictable city in Boebert’s vast district—there is a growing sense of exasperation with the freshman representative not yet six months into her tenure.

Pueblo County, located on Colorado’s dusty, windswept plains two hours south of Denver, is the swingiest part of Boebert’s district—making it a key test of her staying power. The county is nothing like the conservative, government-skeptical towns west of the Continental Divide, where Boebert is from, or the glitzy, liberal ski areas in Aspen and Telluride, which she also represents. While Boebert’s district overall is purple—about 32 percent Republican, 26 percent Democratic and 40 percent unaffiliated, among registered voters—the Pueblo County electorate flips this dynamic, with about 36 percent of voters registered as Democrats, 25 percent as Republicans and 37 percent unaffiliated. Still, big-money donors here often give to candidates from opposing parties, independents regularly vote Republican, and blue-dog Democrats skew conservative. Boebert’s Democratic opponent in the 2020 race won the county by just 204 votes. Biden won by 1,520 votes in November, after Trump had claimed victory by 390 votes in 2016.

In the last decade, Pueblo County has played host to some of the most intense political battles in the state, including the controversial recall of Sen. Angela Giron in 2013 and the pitched battle over a swing state house district that has changed hands repeatedly. Although Pueblo has many of the characteristics of a Democratic stronghold, blue votes run conservative enough in these parts that unsuspecting liberals can make significant and costly messaging errors. In the legislature, Pueblo Democrats have an independent streak on certain issues like gun control that, as annoying as it may be in Denver, represents their constituents faithfully. There’s no way we can do justice to the rich detail in this story about one of Colorado’s trickiest political locks to pick, so please do click through to read it all.

Lauren Boebert, in short, is not the kind of Republican who can appeal broadly to voters in the Steel City. Boebert’s overtly race-baiting virulent anti-immigration platform is thoroughly toxic in this diverse community, and Boebert simply doesn’t understand the issues that matter in Pueblo well enough to speak to them. Boebert’s votes against economic relief in a hard-hit community like Pueblo are a far greater liability than other parts of her district.

The big unresolved question in all of this, of course, is what Boebert’s district is going to look like on the other side of this year’s redistricting process. Colorado’s new CD-8 will result in big changes that will at least need to be rebalanced by alterations to the state’s two large rural districts, CDs 3 and 4. One new map proposed this week by the Colorado Hispanic Chamber of Commerce would move Pueblo County out of CD-3 and into safely red CD-4. However Republicans may feel about that map in general, Boebert would greatly benefit from that change in particular.

CD-3 as we’ve known it for the past decade has been a GOP-leaning district with Pueblo as the anchor of Democratic competitiveness. Boebert’s extreme partisan polarization, as this article explains well, increases Pueblo’s importance in any Democratic strategy to unseat her based on the current map. As long as Boebert must answer to the voters of Pueblo, it’s a pretty safe bet what that answer is going to be.

Buh bye, Boebert.

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The Get More Smarter Podcast: Stop Trying to Make “Gerrymandering” Happen

This week on Episode #77 of The Get More Smarter Podcast, hosts Jason Bane and Ian Silverii explain why Republicans aren’t going to get “Gerrymandering” to stick in Colorado; we bid farewell to Donald Trump’s sad blog; and we revisit two popular segments in “Legislating With Crayons” and “The Boebert Report.”

Catch up on previous episodes of The Get More Smarter Podcast at GetMoreSmarter.com.

Questions? Comments? Complaints? Hit us up at AngryRants@getmoresmarter.com.

Subscribe: Apple Podcasts | Google Podcasts | Spotify | Stitcher | TuneIn

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And Now For A REAL “Throwback Thursday”

Newly-elected Colorado Republican Party chairwoman Kristi Burton Brown is on a tour to visit all the vast expanses of dirt where Republicans reside from corner to corner of our rectangular state–and gentle readers, check out the fossil she dug up in Yuma!

We honestly do appreciate the periodic welfare check on Colorado’s most recently defeated former U.S. Senator Cory Gardner, mostly because we hear so little from him these days. Where many former U.S. Senators parlay their experience in that august body into a whole new career of bigger and better things, Gardner’s achievements since losing his Senate seat by nine points last November have consisted of co-chairing a new PAC and…well, whatever Gardner was doing yesterday at his family tractor shop we guess.

As for all the amazing things Cory Gardner “delivered for Colorado” during his term, you bet! Much of that is an expected by-product of six years as a Senator, so let’s give first-year Sen. John Hickenlooper a chance to catch up. What we can say is that when Colorado needed Gardner to “deliver” most, be it for JBS meatpacking workers who didn’t get tested for COVID or ventilators Colorado had seen swiped by the federal government, all Gardner had was excuses–and loyalty to Donald Trump that outlasted Gardner’s own defeat.

For good or ill, seeing Cory Gardner’s indestructible smile once again conjures up a lot of memories.

We don’t think they are memories a majority of Colorado voters want to relive.

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This Guy for U.S. Senate in 2022

We did not Photoshop this image. This is really what it says on his website.

As Ernest Luning reports for the publication formerly known as the Colorado Statesman, Republicans at last have a candidate for U.S. Senate to challenge incumbent Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Denver) in 2022.

Although (or should we say, Aaaand…) they might want to keep looking for other options.

As Luning explains, some dude named Erik Aadland, who literally just became a registered Republican voter in Colorado a few weeks ago (March 1, 2021, to be exact), is ready to take on Bennet after being trained in the ways of politics by — wait for it — Casper Stockham:

Aadland said he decided to launch a campaign after going through candidate training with America First Republicans, a nonprofit started late last year by perennial GOP congressional nominee Casper Stockham.

“I found America First because I was following Casper on Twitter leading up the 2020 elections and then was somewhat devastated by what transpired in the elections,” Aadland said Monday in an appearance with Stockham on the conservative PJNET Live video podcast.

“I just felt divinely inspired to show up there. Very quickly, he planted a seed that I should run for office,” Aadland said, referring to Stockham, who ran unsuccessfully against U.S. Rep. Ed Perlmutter last year and lost a bid for state Republican Party chairman in April…

…”I think I’m called by God and it’s been a series of synchronicities and meeting the right people and not making this decision on my own,” he said. [Pols emphasis]

Righto!

[Side Note: Stockham also tried unsuccessfully to run for Congress in CO-01 and CO-06 in recent years, so maybe he’s not the best political mentor.]

Aadland is a West Point graduate who served combat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan and currently lives in Pine, Colorado. According to a bio on his website, Aadland worked in the oil and gas industry until recently. In 2020, he apparently earned a Master’s degree from Pacifica Graduate Institute in Depth Psychology…whatever that means.

And why, you may ask, does Aadland want to run for U.S. Senate? (aside from the fact that there might not be a robust job market in the field of “Depth Psychology”) As Luning reports, Aadland had this to say to the Jefferson County Republican Men’s Club in Wheat Ridge:

“This country is on the brink of being taken over by a communist government and perpetuating their communist agenda. We need to open up our eyes and be very aware of that. That’s what’s happening,” he said.

“The 2020 election, it was rigged. Absolutely rigged.”

Um…alright.

In a normal timeline, this might be disqualifying. But as we wrote earlier this week, Republican candidates for federal office — across the country — believe that speaking up about “The Big Lie” is essentially a requirement if you want to win a Republican Primary in 2022. Heck, 3 in 10 Republicans still believe that Donald Trump is going to magically be reinstated as President in a couple of months.

It’s still hard to imagine that this guy could actually win the Republican Senate nomination in 2022, but stranger things have happened to Sen. Bennet. Like Darryl Glenn, for example.

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Winners and Losers from Historic Legislative Session

House Speaker Alec Garnett and Senate President Leroy Garcia on opening day (2/17/21)

Democrats brought an end on Tuesday to an historic legislative session that included landmark bills on pandemic recovery, health care, and transportation infrastructure.

With the 2021 session officially in the books, here is our look at the Winners and Losers from the last couple of months…

If you don’t want to read ahead, the TL;DR version is this: “Winners” include basically all living people in Colorado. Actually, it even includes some dead people, considering the passage of a bill that allows for human composting.

 

 

WINNERS

 

People Who Live and Breathe in Colorado

As John Frank of Axios wrote on June 4, “This is the most significant legislative session in years.”

If you could say only one thing about the 2021 legislative session, this would be it.

Via The Denver Post

 

Democrats kicked off the year with an ambitious list of policy goals — and even added to it in response to events — and they checked off damn near every single one of them

♦ Jump-starting Colorado’s economic recovery post-COVID

♦ Saving people money on health care

♦ Reducing the cost of prescription drugs

♦ Much-needed transportation infrastructure funding

♦ Real solutions for combatting Climate Change

♦ Gun safety

♦ Tax reform

Democrats were even able to craft an historic state budget that includes $800 million in economic stimulus funding, $480 million for K-12 education, and $1.5 billion set aside in the state reserve fund.

From transportation funding to tax reform, we could list off dozens of significant bills passed in 2021, but instead check out this press release from Democrats in the legislature.

(more…)

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Wednesday Open Thread

“Insanity is knowing that what you’re doing is completely idiotic, but still, somehow, you just can’t stop it.”

–Elizabeth Wurtzel

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House Republicans Trying to Oust Minority Leader

UPDATE: Seriously, just look at this…

—–

Shortly after the Colorado lawmakers concluded the 2021 session, House Republicans including Rep. Ron Hanks and Rep. Dave Williams initiated a challenge to House Minority Leader Hugh McKean.

Very brave of them to wait until after the end of the legislative session.

Alex Burness of The Denver Post is following this raging dumpster fire live on Twitter:

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In 2021, Colorado GOP Obstruction Games #Failed Bigly

“Raging” Rep. Ron Hanks (R).

In today’s Unaffiliated newsletter from the Colorado Sun, which we highly recommend subscribing to if you don’t already, Colorado House Republican lawmakers including ex-House Minority Leader Patrick Neville complain bitterly that the obstruction tactics which had in previous years resulted in some amount of negotiation from majority Democrats–or failing that, at least some base-pleasing headlines about Republicans slowing progress to a crawl–didn’t work in the 2021 legislative session most likely wrapping up today.

This year under new House Minority Leader Hugh McKean, the “performative obstruction” fell flat:

“It seems like when we’ve done it, there hasn’t been a sense of purpose behind it. There’s been no objective,” Neville, the former House minority leader, said of the delay tactics.

First-year Reps. Richard Holtorf of Akron and Ron Hanks of Fremont County were among the Republican representatives who most readily deployed the delay measures. They asked for bills to be read at length and delivered long floor speeches, keeping Democrats, and their fellow Republicans, at the Capitol late into the night.

But even Holtorf admits he didn’t accomplish much. [Pols emphasis] On Friday, Republicans — led by Holtorf, who spoke at great length and detail about cows giving birth — stretched debate over a bill to expand labor rights for agricultural workers until about 11 p.m. The payoff was a few “soft amendments,” Holtorf said.

Tension became high enough between the hard-right members of the GOP minority and Leader McKean that Rep. Ron Hanks threatened to break McKean’s neck over continuing a then-nine hour filibuster against a business property tax bill. It is interesting to note that the obstruction campaign in the House has been spearheaded by two of the most embarrassing freshman members of the GOP House minority. But as today’s Unaffiliated continues, it wasn’t just far-right Reps. Richard Holtorf and Hanks getting burned by ill-advised obstruction tactics:

Even Rep. Colin Larson, a more moderate Republican from Littleton who is well-regarded by Democrats, jumped in on the delay tactics at one point, slowly reading aloud a legal opinion related to a Democratic bill to cut tax breaks for the wealthy and expand tax credits benefiting working families…

He thought Democrats might take it to heart if a moderate member of the GOP launched a mini filibuster. But instead of winning concessions, Larson lost the respect of some of his Democratic colleagues, they say. [Pols emphasis]

It’s a huge contrast from the 2019 session of the Colorado General Assembly, which ended with Republicans at least rhetorically fired up and preparing to launch a round of (failed) recall attempts against targets of opportunity in the legislature and Gov. Jared Polis. This year, Colorado Democrats have enjoyed the most productive legislative session since at least 2013, while Republicans have simply been too mired in infighting and confusion to mount anything like that level of opposition.

As the old saying goes, “the minority gets their say, and the majority gets their way.”

This year, the GOP minority couldn’t even get out of its own way enough to have their say.

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Boring Boebert Makes Fool of Herself at Border

Don’t bother watching. This is the whole schtick.

Congressperson Lauren “Q*Bert” Boebert (R-ifle) has become little more than a living, breathing cliche. Boebert’s brand of politics is “Performative Obstruction,” which largely entails two things: 1) Being opposed to anything that Democrats suggest, and 2) Yelling about any one of a handful of predictable social issues of which she has little to no understanding.

Boebert defeated incumbent Rep. Scott Tipton in a 2020 Primary because she presented a new, more interesting caricature of a politician at the same time that Tipton had basically stopped trying to appeal to voters in CO-03. Her gun-toting, smack-talking persona did enough to convince voters in a heavily-Republican district to support her in the General Election, and she has continued that simple shtick into Congress.

On Tuesday, Boebert released a new video on social media that follows a familiar formula. She struts around near an unfinished section of wall along the U.S./Mexico border firing off silly one-liner attacks about how the Joe Biden administration somehow created an immigration crisis out of thin air (nevermind that immigration has been a significant issue for every Presidential administration of her lifetime). Then comes the “big reveal”: Boebert is shown carrying a cardboard cutout (SO CREATIVE!) of Vice President Kamala Harris. The message is that Harris — and therefore the Biden administration — is not doing enough to address the issue of undocumented immigrants because Harris is not standing around at the border pointing at stuff.

So what exactly is the Vice President doing at the moment? As The New York Times reports:

During her first foreign trip as vice president, Kamala Harris said the United States would bolster investigations into corruption and human trafficking in Guatemala, while also delivering a clear, blunt message to undocumented migrants hoping to reach the United States: “Do not come.”

Ms. Harris issued the warning during a trip that was an early yet pivotal test for a vice president currently tasked with the complex challenge of breaking a cycle of migration from Central America by investing in a region plagued by corruption, violence and poverty.

While President Biden campaigned on unwinding some of the Trump administration’s border restrictions, allowing migrants to apply for asylum at the U.S. border, Ms. Harris amplified the White House’s current stance that most of those who crossed the border would be turned away and would instead need to find legal pathways or protection closer to their home countries.

Vice President Harris was in Guatemala on Monday, where she met with President Alejandro Giammattei. Today, Harris is in Mexico to meet with President Andrés Manuel López ObradorAs CNN reports, Harris is actually working on the immigration issue in a manner that seems more likely to produce results than merely taking a field trip to a fence:

(more…)

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Time To Admit Moving BLM To Grand Junction Was Wrong?

Ex-Sen. Cory Gardner passionately arguing for the relocation of BLM HQ to Grand Junction in 2019.

Colorado Newsline’s Chase Woodruff follows up on a messy story we’ve been watching in the aftermath of the Trump administration’s four years of plundering management of the federal government–the controversial relocation of the Bureau of Land Management headquarters from Washington, D.C. to Grand Junction, Colorado, sharing an office building with Chevron and other fossil fuel businesses.

That is to say the BLM would be sharing office space with Chevron, if the relocation to Grand Junction had actually happened. After all these years and consternation, the professionals who make up the Bureau have voted resoundingly with their feet:

Ex-BLM employees and public-lands advocates paint a dire picture of what happened to the agency following the relocation, which was announced by Gardner and Interior Secretary David Bernhardt, a Colorado native and longtime oil lobbyist, in July 2019. It’s a picture that was backed up by figures released by the Interior Department following President Joe Biden’s inauguration in January; out of hundreds of positions affected by the move, Interior officials said, 287 employees chose to resign or retire from the agency, while 41 accepted relocation. The latter number, however, includes employees who relocated to BLM field offices scattered throughout the West as part of a broader reorganization.

The number of employees who relocated to Grand Junction, BLM officials confirmed this week, is three…

“It is a joke,” [former BLM director Bob] Abbey said. “It would be humorous if there weren’t a lot of people whose livelihoods are dependent upon the Bureau of Land Management doing their job. And when that job’s not being performed, at any level of the organization, then it’s a disservice to the public that BLM employees are supposed to be serving.”

Today, the nominee to serve as the first permanent head of the BLM in over four years, Tracy Stone-Manning, is getting her first confirmation hearing in the U.S. Senate. Stone-Manning, like her boss Interior Secretary Deb Haaland, have both criticized the relocation of BLM headquarters to Grand Junction. And as Woodruff reports, the results of the move speak for themselves. Rather than “moving the agency closer to communities they serve,” forcing this unwanted relocation on the Bureau has resulted in the experts being effectively disconnected from political decision making in Washington–which was perfect for the destructive purposes of the Trump administration, but a disaster for the Bureau’s mission to protect public lands.

Up against this emerging consensus, we have local Democrats who are still pushing for the BLM to come to Grand Junction while acknowledging, as Gov. Jared Polis does, that the Trump administration’s policies affecting public lands were “misguided.”

“While the Trump administration’s lack of knowledge of the West framed this initiative for him as one of energy dominance, the opportunity for [President Biden] is to see this initiative as an opportunity for locally driven conservation,” Polis wrote. “Where he seemed to think it would favor extractive industries, I know that Coloradans across our state realize the need to conserve the places we love.”

It’s important to note that the push to relocate the BLM’s headquarters to the West generally and Colorado in particular predated the Trump administration, and that’s where the support for the move among Colorado Democrats originated. Ex-Sen. Cory Gardner’s interest in moving the BLM was much more straightforwardly in line with the Trump administration’s desire to expand fossil fuel production. And at this point, it may be impossible to separate moving the BLM to Grand Junction from the Trump administration’s destructive motives for doing so.

Which means our local boosters might lose this one. In the larger scheme of things, they might need to.

We’ll just say Mt. Garfield isn’t a hill worth dying on.

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The Big Lie is Still the Only Truth for Republicans

Not Donald Trump at work in The Oval Office.

It has been 216 days since the last Presidential election…unless you are a Republican candidate for public office in 2022. Republican politicians exist in an alternate reality from everyone else; they can’t discuss the future because they’re still obsessed with re-writing the past. For them, the Big Lie is still the only truth that matters.

As The New York Times explains:

Across the country, a rising class of Republican challengers has embraced the fiction that the 2020 election was illegitimate, marred by fraud and inconsistencies. Aggressively pushing Mr. Trump’s baseless claims that he was robbed of re-election, these candidates represent the next generation of aspiring G.O.P. leaders, who would bring to Congress the real possibility that the party’s assault on the legitimacy of elections, a bedrock principle of American democracy, could continue through the 2024 contests.

Dozens of Republican candidates have sown doubts about the election as they seek to join the ranks of the 147 Republicans in Congress who voted against certifying President Biden’s victory. There are degrees of denial: Some bluntly declare they must repair a rigged system that produced a flawed result, while others speak in the language of “election integrity,” promoting Republican re-examinations of the vote counts in Arizona and Georgia and backing new voting restrictions introduced by Republicans in battleground states.

They are united by a near-universal reluctance to state outright that Mr. Biden is the legitimately elected leader of the country… 

…But Republicans’ unwavering fealty to the voter fraud myth underscores an emerging dynamic of party politics: To build a campaign in the modern G.O.P., most candidates must embrace — or at least not openly deny — conspiracy theories and election lies, and they must commit to a mission of imposing greater voting restrictions and making it easier to challenge or even overturn an election’s results. The prevalence of such candidates in the nascent stages of the party primaries highlights how Mr. Trump’s willingness to embrace far-flung falsehoods has elevated fringe ideas to the mainstream of his party. [Pols emphasis]

Multiple news outlets — including the Times — reported last week that former President Trump remains completely consumed by the idea that the 2020 election was somehow stolen from him. These aren’t just the bitter ramblings of a fragile ego; Trump actually believes that he is going to end up back in the White House within a matter of months. As Charles Cooke of the conservative National Journal writes:

I can attest, from speaking to an array of different sources, that Donald Trump does indeed believe quite genuinely that he — along with former senators David Perdue and Martha McSally — will be “reinstated” to office this summer after “audits” of the 2020 elections in Arizona, Georgia, and a handful of other states have been completed. [Pols emphasis] I can attest, too, that Trump is trying hard to recruit journalists, politicians, and other influential figures to promulgate this belief — not as a fundraising tool or an infantile bit of trolling or a trial balloon, but as a fact…

…The scale of Trump’s delusion is quite startling. This is not merely an eccentric interpretation of the facts or an interesting foible, nor is it an irrelevant example of anguished post-presidency chatter. It is a rejection of reality, a rejection of law, and, ultimately, a rejection of the entire system of American government.

Cool pants

As Cooke continues, even if there were irrefutable proof that the 2020 election was rigged against Trump, there is absolutely nothing that can change the fact that Joe Biden is the current President of the United States.

None of this apparently matters to many Republicans, who continue to insist that their ideal 2022 candidates look and act like Trump. This is a real problem for the GOP, because the majority of Americans prefer to see 2022 candidates who are as ideologically different from Trump as possible. This devotion to The Big Lie also prevents Republicans from even pondering their next steps. As The Associated Press reports:

Republicans are fighting to seize control of Congress. Just don’t ask what they’d do if they win.

Look no further for evidence of the GOP’s muddled governing agenda than battleground North Carolina, where party leaders packed into a convention hall Saturday night to cheer former President Donald Trump. Even with a high-stakes U.S. Senate election looming, the Republicans there were united not by any consistent set of conservative policies or principles, but by Trump’s groundless grievances about the 2020 election and his attacks against critics in both parties…

…“I’m unaware of a GOP agenda. I would love to see one,” said Texas-based conservative activist and former tea party leader Mark Meckler. [Pols emphasis]

How do Republicans in Colorado move forward in 2022 when they are so chained to 2020? How can someone like Heidi Ganahl seek the GOP nomination for Governor when she risks losing the support of her base just by answering the question, “Is Joe Biden the President?”

Insisting that Biden is not really the President might still work for the likes of Rep. Lauren “Q*Bert” Boebert (R-ifle) or Doug Lamborn (R-Colorado Springs), but it’s not going to win much support outside of deep-red districts. Colorado will gain an eighth Congressional seat in 2022; it’s likely that the winner of an eventual GOP Primary will be someone who declares that 2020 never happened. Good luck explaining that in a General Election.

There’s an old saying about how those who fail to learn from the past are condemned to repeat the same mistakes in the future. This still applies even if you pretend the past never happened.

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Boebert Useless On Water As Historic Drought Rages

Denver7’s Blair Miller reported late last week about the growing disparity between an unusually wet spring’s worth of rain along the Front Range of Colorado and on the Eastern Plains, while areas of the state west of the Continental Divide remain in historic drought:

Colorado’s drought situation continues to be a tale of two halves of the state, with the eastern half nearly entirely drought-free as of this week and the western half under moderate-to-exceptional drought conditions…

Denver is already up to 10.49 inches of precipitation so far this year – 4.77 inches above normal and already nearly 2 inches above what the city got in all of 2020. Grand Junction, meanwhile, has still only received 2.04 inches of precipitation all year, which is 1.74 inches below normal. After 0.4 inches of precipitation fell on May 3, Grand Junction saw only 0.02 inches for the rest of the month of May, according to the National Weather Service.

As such, the drought conditions have remained relatively unchanged on the Western Slope all month. Sixteen percent of Colorado – all in the western third of the state – is experiencing exceptional drought, the most severe on the drought scale. In total, 43% of the state is experiencing moderate drought or worse conditions.

Because the area of the state suffering from drought is almost entirely west of the Continental Divide, most of the affected area is represented in Congress by freshman GOP Rep. Lauren Boebert, who sits on the House Energy and Natural Resources Committee. At a hearing late last month on the drought crisis affecting much of the western United States including western Colorado, Boebert had a chance to contribute intelligently to the discussion–or at least keep focused on the subject, which was the drought.

As Gizmodo’s Molly Taft reported Friday, Boebert didn’t take it. Instead, Boebert spent her allotted question time berating an Interior Department official for her supposed “ethics problems” due to environmental advocacy work before the Biden administration–an axe Boebert is grinding along with two of the hardest-right western Republicans in Congress:

E&E News reported that Boebert joined fellow Republican extremists Rep. Bruce Westerman and Rep. Paul Gosar in sending a letter Thursday complaining about Elizabeth Klein, the senior counselor to Interior Secretary Deb Haaland. The letter concerns Klein’s previous role at New York University’s State Energy and Environmental Impact Center, which placed legal fellows at state attorneys general’s offices to help work on climate litigation. Several right-wing outlets, including the oil-and-gas-funded Western Wire, have been worrying at this issue for years, accusing Michael Bloomberg, via his donations to NYU, of footing the bill to attack poor, defenseless oil and gas companies…

As Boebert demonstrated in last month’s committee hearing, uncovering Elizabeth Klein’s supposedly nefarious agenda to be a big meanie in court to the oil and gas industry is the more pressing issue than the drought gripping almost all of Boebert’s district:

After Klein’s testimony, which mostly covered the scientific facts of the water shitstorm the West is in right now, Boebert used her five minutes of questioning to badger Klein about her ethics obligations, including accusing her of “help[ing] infiltrate state governments with Green New Deal extremists for the sole purposes of suing the federal government on environmental policies you all disagreed with.” Boebert was chastised by the hearing’s chairman, Rep. Jared Huffman, for not sticking to the issue (you know, the catastrophic drought that we all need to figure out a way to deal with), but she nevertheless used her closing arguments to accuse Klein of “slither[ing] her way into a high-level position at the department that doesn’t require the scrutiny of a public confirmation process” while calling her an “extremist partisan hack,” which is honestly pretty incredible coming from Boebert.

After Boebert appeared at a virtual hearing of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee with numerous firearms precariously jumbled together on the shelves behind her back in February, it became evident that her work on the committee would not be substantive as much as, you know, performative. As for staying on the issue, it looks like even on a matter of dire importance to Boebert’s constituents she cannot be expected to remain on task. Because Boebert knows nothing about the issues, she simply has nothing useful to contribute. The off-topic bombast is a deflection from Boebert’s lack of comprehension.

On a practical level beyond her long record of pre-congressional outrages, this is why Marjorie Taylor Greene lost her committee posts in a vote by the House earlier this year. It was an easy guess that every committee meeting in which MTG participated would devolve into a circus. If Lauren Boebert can’t participate in a single hearing without making a distraction of herself and embarrassing the voters who put her in office, maybe it’s time for Boebert to join MTG on the light duty roster?

It doesn’t seem like CD-3 would be losing much.

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Joe Manchin Torpedoes For The People Act, Filibuster Reform

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-ish).

CNN reports, and if there’s anything anybody can legally do about it, now’s the time to show us your plan:

Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin on Sunday defended his decision to vote against a sweeping voting rights bill and reiterated his opposition to gutting the filibuster, declaring in the strongest terms yet that he is not willing to change Senate rules to help his party push through much of President Joe Biden’s agenda.

“I believe that partisan voting legislation will destroy the already weakening binds of our democracy, and for that reason, I will vote against the For the People Act. Furthermore, I will not vote to weaken or eliminate the filibuster,” Manchin, a moderate Democrat from West Virginia, wrote in an op-ed published in the Charleston Gazette.

Manchin’s opposition to changing filibuster rules stands as a major roadblock to Biden’s legislative priorities, as current rules allow Republicans to hold up many of the progressive bills the administration supports, including infrastructure spending, federal voting legislation and climate change legislation.

Sen. John Hickenlooper plays the banjo in support of the For The People Act.

From Sen. Joe Manchin’s column in the Charleston Gazette, which Democrats coast to coast are either seething over or in denial of this Sunday morning:

Democrats in Congress have proposed a sweeping election reform bill called the For the People Act. This more than 800-page bill has garnered zero Republican support. Why? Are the very Republican senators who voted to impeach Trump because of actions that led to an attack on our democracy unwilling to support actions to strengthen our democracy? Are these same senators, whom many in my party applauded for their courage, now threats to the very democracy we seek to protect?

The truth, I would argue, is that voting and election reform that is done in a partisan manner will all but ensure partisan divisions continue to deepen.

With that in mind, some Democrats have again proposed eliminating the Senate filibuster rule in order to pass the For the People Act with only Democratic support. They’ve attempted to demonize the filibuster and conveniently ignore how it has been critical to protecting the rights of Democrats in the past.

With no margin to overcome Sen. Manchin’s dissent, the Democratic agenda in the U.S. Senate could now be effectively stalled. Manchin says the alternative to doing away with the filibuster will be “frustrating and slow,” and “will force compromises that are not always ideal.” The problem here is that Manchin assumes there will be any compromise from Republicans who now thanks to Joe Manchin have no incentive to do so. Their obstruction of Biden’s agenda, which is the sole political objective of Republicans between now and the 2022 midterms, has just been fully enabled.

As for coming out against the For The People Act beyond merely opposing ending the filibuster in order to pass it, Manchin says “voting and election reform that is done in a partisan manner will all but ensure partisan divisions continue to deepen.” But that’s exactly what Republicans are doing with their wave of vote suppression legislation being run by Republicans in state houses across the country. The For The People Act would put a stop to vote suppression in the name of Donald Trump’s “Big Lie,” which is the far greater offense than anything in the For The People Act to protect voting rights. Manchin is not just wrong, he’s wrong at the worst possible moment for American democracy.

In the meantime, the one thing we don’t want to see is misguided attacks on Colorado’s Democratic U.S. Senators over Joe Manchin’s intransigence. Sen. Michael Bennet has been very strong in 2021 about not letting the arcane rules of the U.S. Senate forestall necessary legislation. Sen. John Hickenlooper is a major, if not perfect-pitched proponent of the For The People Act. There’s always a temptation to rage indiscriminately at our own when frustrating political news hits, but there’s just nothing to indicate today that either of Colorado’s Senators are part of the problem.

The best hope now is that when that fabled Republican “compromise” fails to manifest, perhaps Manchin will see reason. If Democrats want to achieve anything beyond throwing money at problems via the budget reconciliation process before the midterms, he’ll need to.

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Colorado Announces First COVID Lottery Winner

One of these pictures shows Rep. Diana DeGette (D-Denver)

As 9News reports, we have a winner in the first $1 million drawing for Coloradans who have received at least one COVID-19 vaccination:

Gov. Jared Polis on Friday announced that Sally Sliger of Mead was the first $1 million winner of the Colorado Comeback Cash COVID-19 vaccine drawing.

“The odds of me and my family being given $1 million overnight seemed impossibly small,” Sliger said at a news conference Friday at the Governor’s Residence. “Even with this winning, I’m still having a hard time believing our luck of the draw.”

The Colorado Lottery is holding five drawings between June 4 and July 7. Anyone 18 and older who is a Colorado resident and has received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine will be automatically entered. You can check if your record is in the Colorado Immunization Information System (CIIS) here.

The winner is definitely not Denver Rep. Diana DeGette, though there is a decent chance that they are somehow related based on the two pictures above.

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Will Colorado Republicans Come Along As Trump Loses His Mind?

The New York Times’ Maggie Haberman kicked off the abbreviated news week with a scoop that has driven the discussion in the MAGA universe since then–rumors that ex-President Donald Trump now believes he will be “reinstated” President by late summer after some manner of sweeping turnabout (or maybe just a coup):

This guy again?

And lest you think this is a one-off crackpot rumor getting undue attention, the National Review’s Charles Cooke says this is what Trump actually believes will happen:

I can attest, from speaking to an array of different sources, that Donald Trump does indeed believe quite genuinely that he — along with former senators David Perdue and Martha McSally — will be “reinstated” to office this summer after “audits” of the 2020 elections in Arizona, Georgia, and a handful of other states have been completed. I can attest, too, that Trump is trying hard to recruit journalists, politicians, and other influential figures to promulgate this belief — not as a fundraising tool or an infantile bit of trolling or a trial balloon, but as a fact.

It will be tempting for weary conservatives to dismiss this information as “old news” or as “an irrelevance.” It will be tempting, too, to downplay the enormity of what is being claimed, or to change the subject, or to attack the messengers by implying that they must “hate” Trump and his voters. But such temptations should be assiduously avoided. We are not talking here about a fringe figure within the Republican tent, but about a man who hopes to make support for his outlandish claims “a litmus test of sorts as he decides whom to endorse for state and federal contests in 2022 and 2024.”

AP is also confirming that this is now Trump’s comeback strategy, despite the lack of any constitutional mechanism for doing so:

Trump continues to push Republicans to embrace his election lies. He’s criticized his former vice president, Mike Pence, for fulfilling his constitutional duty to preside over the congressional certification of Biden’s victory. And Trump has gone a step further recently by giving credence to a bizarre conspiracy theory that he could somehow be reinstated into the presidency in August, according to a longtime Trump ally who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss private conversations.

There’s no constitutional or legal mechanism for Trump to return to the presidency absent winning another election in 2024. [Pols emphasis] Trump’s argument that the last election was tainted has been roundly rejected by federal and state officials, including his own attorney general and Republican election leaders. Judges, including those appointed by Trump, also dismissed his claims.

Official counts and recounts of all the contested states in the 2020 presidential elections have found no irregularities, but the decidedly unofficial and dubious “audit” of ballots in Arizona being conducted by partisan operatives is widely expected to come away with some kind of narrative that keeps the Big Lie that the election was stolen from Trump alive. Any other conclusion would be devastating for anyone still clinging to the fantasy that Trump was the rightful winner, and a process as sloppy as the one by all accounts taking place in Phoenix right now is almost certain to produce results that deviate from the official count simply due to their own incompetence.

With that said, don’t expect reality to slow this crazy train even a little bit. The charade of the Arizona “audit” will serve as a pretext for others elsewhere, and over the next few weeks the official record of the 2020 election, counted, recounted, and re-recounted for the history books though it may be, will be second-guessed by Trump’s diehard supporters until no one even remembers that the results haven’t been found irregular by a single impartial source or court.

This continuing assault on the integrity of the 2020 elections puts Colorado Republicans in a difficult situation. As we’ve discussed in this space many times, Colorado’s election system incorporates just about every feature that Trump’s conspiracy theorists cite as problematic, from same-day registration to mail-in ballots counted almost entirely by Dominion Voting Systems hardware. The cognitive dissonance required to agree with Colorado’s GOP county clerks (and former GOP chairman Ken Buck) that Colorado’s elections work, but then also support Trump’s claims that the 2020 elections were stolen via all these same systems that worked fine in Colorado, is simply too much for a reasonable person to accept.

This contradiction can’t last forever, and local Republicans will have to choose at some point between what they can see with their eyes and the national party line. The worse it gets, the harder it will get for them. Which is why we’re asking, once again, how Colorado Republicans plan to navigate what’s turning out to not be a post-Trump landscape after all.

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Get More Smarter on Friday (June 4)

The Denver Nuggets have advanced to Round 2 of the Western Conference Playoffs after dispatching the Portland Trailblazers on Thursday; Game One is scheduled for Monday evening in Phoenix. Let’s 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 an audio learner, check out The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter

 

CORONAVIRUS INFO…

*Colorado Coronavirus info:
CDPHE Coronavirus website 

*Daily Coronavirus numbers in Colorado:
http://covid19.colorado.gov

*How you can help in Colorado:
COVRN.com

*Locate a COVID-19 testing site in Colorado:
Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment 

*Coloradans can now get a COVID-19 vaccine at one of six locations without a prior appointment. 

 

As The Washington Post reports, Congressional Democrats unveiled an ambitious new transportation funding plan:

Democrats on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee unveiled a $547 billion transportation funding package Friday that would ramp up spending on rail and transit, while encouraging states to repair existing roads rather than build new ones.

The biggest chunk of the bill is $343 billion for road and bridge construction, as well as highway safety, a boost of more than 50 percent over the last transportation bill Congress passed in 2015. It also calls for $109 billion for transit and $95 billion for rail — including a tripling of funding to Amtrak.

Rep. Peter A. DeFazio (D-Ore.), chairman of the committee, said the proposed legislation embodies a core piece of President Biden’s infrastructure plans, “seizing this once-in-a-generation opportunity to move our transportation planning out of the 1950s and toward our clean energy future.”

 

As The Associated Press reports, COVID-19 is still very much a danger to Coloradans — particularly those who refuse to get vaccinated:

About 500 people remain hospitalized in Colorado with COVID-19 even though the pandemic seems to be receding, and health officials say almost all of the patients share a common trait: They’re unvaccinated.

“We’ve taken a deep look at this,” Dr. JP Valin, chief clinical officer at SCL Health, told Colorado Public Radio. “Ninety-five percent of the patients who have been hospitalized since February are unvaccinated.”

After more than a year of dealing with the pandemic, the near-constant churn of unvaccinated patients is wearing on front-line doctors and nurses, and their frustration arises in part because at least some of the cases may have been avoidable.

“We are tired,” said Dr. Sandeep Vijan of Parkview Medical Center in Pueblo. “We’ve been doing this for a year. We are emotionally tired; tired of seeing people die. We are physically tired.”

The CDC is again encouraging teenagers to get vaccinated quickly.

Get your damn shot, people. Help our first responders out.

 

The 2021 legislative session needs to end by June 12, though lawmakers are hoping to gavel out sometime next week. In the meantime, Democrats keep passing major pieces of legislation that will positively impact nearly everyone in Colorado. Here’s what’s happening in the last few days of the session…

Women in the Colorado legislature are focusing their efforts on ending discrimination in the workplace, as The Denver Post reports. CBS4 Denver has more on how Sen. Faith Winter is working on sexual harassment changes that are guided in part by her own experiences.

House Bill 1325 seeks to provide more resources for the education of higher-needs students.

As Colorado Public Radio reports, legislative Democrats think they have reached a deal with Gov. Jared Polis that will allow a significant climate change bill to move forward.

A massive transportation funding bill is on its way to the desk of Gov. Polis.

Legislation that allows local governments to make their own gun control measures is headed to the desk of Gov. Polis. It will be joined by a bill that prevents HOAs from getting all up in your business, and legislation that bans the use of Native American mascots.

Fox 31 reports on the passage of five economic stimulus bills.

Marianne Goodland of the publication formerly known as the Colorado Statesman reports on the progress of a late bill dealing with property tax changes.

Westword has the latest on potential changes related to Colorado’s legal marijuana industry.

 

More political (and coronavirus) news is available right after the jump…

 

(more…)

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