DCCC Steps Up In CD-3

Rep. Scott Tipton (R).

As the Grand Junction Sentinel’s Charles Ashby reports, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) is starting to run ads targeting incumbent Rep. Scott Tipton in Colorado’s CD-3–signaling that once again Democrats will compete for a seat they held until Tipton picked off incumbent Rep. John Salazar in the 2010 Republican wave year:

Seeing 2020 as an opportunity to pick up another seat in Congress, the national Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is sinking money into the race to defeat incumbent GOP U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton…

Currently, two Democrats have entered the primary race and the right to challenge Tipton. They are Mitsch Bush, a former state representative, and Durango resident Root Rutledge. Mitsch Bush eventually won the nomination in last year’s race, while Rutledge never qualified for the ballot.

Other Democratic candidates are expected to come forward, but no on else has so far. One possible contender, Senate President LeRoy Garcia, D-Pueblo, said he’s been approached about running, but wouldn’t say if he will.

Although Tipton survived in 2018 against former state Rep. Diane Mitsch Bush, Democrats are increasingly hopeful for another wave in 2020 that could give them a shot at this and other “reach goal” districts. The possibility of Senate President Leroy Garcia of Pueblo launching a bid is certainly interesting, and speculation has been fueled to some degree by Garcia’s spending on self-promotion following the end of this year’s session despite being term-limited. Garcia would bring a very different set of qualifications to the race, including the ability to potentially shut down the crucial Pueblo-area vote for Tipton.

Being the only GOP-held seat left in Colorado that Democrats have a realistic chance of picking up, CD-3 is where the House action is in 2020. We’ll be watching to see how Rep. Tipton handles the undivided attention.

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Blockhead Republicans Prepare Another Idiotic Recall Attempt

Brittany Pettersen

State Sen. Brittany Pettersen (D-Lakewood)

The big story in Colorado politics this week was the implosion of an asinine recall attempt against Rep. Tom Sullivan (D-Centennial). The Sullivan recall attempt fizzled amid an onslaught of terrible press, bickering over money, and a general sense from everyone with half a brain that this was a stupid idea altogether.

Naturally, this week in politics is coming to a close with ANOTHER absolutely idiotic recall attempt of a sitting lawmaker who was easily elected to office last November. This time, Republicans aren’t trying to recall a man who lost his son in a mass shooting over his support of gun safety legislation, but they found the next-worst look for a recall effort. As Marianne Goodland reports for the publication formerly known as the Colorado Statesman:

Republican Nancy Pallozzi says she will mount a recall attempt against state Sen. Brittany Petterson of Lakewood in Senate District 22.

Petterson defeated Pallozzi in a 2016 race for a state House seat by 19 percentage points. [Pols emphasis]

On a closed Facebook page Pallozzi set up for the recall effort, she announced Thursday that “[e]verything is moving along and we are hoping to have the petitions in hand by July 16th, if not sooner. We are finalizing the wording to submit to the secretary of state’s office in July.”

According to the page, the Pettersen recall effort is intended to coordinate with a recall attempt against Democratic Gov. Jared Polis.

You read that correctly, dear readers: The Republican candidate who lost to Pettersen in a State House race by nearly 20 points in 2016 wants to recall her then-opponent, nevermind that Pettersen was swept into a State Senate seat two years later by a 16-point margin.

Republican Nancy “Don’t Call Me Pelosi” Pallozzi believes that Pettersen should be recalled because of…well, there’s probably some sort of reason in there somewhere, but Goodland’s story doesn’t mention anything specific.

WHO DO WE WANT TO RECALL? Brittany Pettersen!

WHY DO WE WANT TO RECALL HER? We don’t know!

Please clap, or something.

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Get More Smarter on Friday (June 14)

“Father’s Day” is on Sunday, so make sure to buy some wrenches or something. 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…

► Former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper and Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Denver) have both qualified for the first round of debates for 2020 Presidential hopefuls. As Colorado Public Radio reports:

Hickenlooper and Bennet will appear either June 26 or 27 in Miami. Each night will feature 10 candidates, chosen at random, making their case why they should be the nominee to take on President Donald Trump.

An NBC News drawing Friday will divide the large field between the first and second night. Party officials have promised to weight the drawing with the intention of ensuring that top tier and lagging candidates are spread roughly evenly over the two nights.

Montana Gov. Steve Bullock was the most high-profile candidate left off the list. He failed to reach the party’s polling or grassroots fundraising thresholds.

Rep. Seth Moulton of Massachusetts, former Sen. Mike Gravel of Alaska and Miramar, Florida, Mayor Wayne Messam were among the others who missed the threshold for the debate.

According to the candidate drawing that took place today, Benkenlooper will share the stage in one of the debates with Sen. Bernie Sanders, Sen. Kamala Harris, and former Vice President Joe Biden.

 

► President Trump and his supporters are furiously trying to walk back comments Trump made to ABC News earlier this week in which he said that he would accept intelligence on political opponents from foreign governments and likely would not alert the FBI to such an approach (which is very clearly a federal crime). From Politico:

President Donald Trump on Friday tried again to rectify the mess he made by saying he would likely accept dirt on a political opponent from a foreign entity, going on “Fox & Friends” to clean up the comments.

Trump insisted during a meandering 50-minute interview on the network that “of course” he would alert the FBI in such a case, but only after reviewing it first, “because if you don’t look at it, you won’t know it’s bad.”…

…Remarkably, Trump also asserted on Friday that he didn’t foresee that issue arising. “I don’t think anybody would present me with anything because they know how much I love the country,” he said, despite well-documented attempts by Russian nationals to do just that during the 2016 election.

As Greg Sargent writes for the Washington Post, no amount of spin from Trump can fix this mess:

The key to the ABC interview is that even though we now understand these full dimensions — now that we understand that this effort was a wide-ranging criminal scheme designed to harm our democracy and country — Trump has confirmed that he would happily profit from such an effort again, and wouldn’t alert law enforcement about it.

This is what Trump’s spinners are trying to make disappear when they falsely claim that Trump actually said he would report another offer of help to the FBI.

Law enforcement officials say that Trump’s statements about accepting foreign election interference have all but smashed months of work by federal agencies to prevent this very problem.

Trump’s comments also prompted Federal Election Commission Chairwoman Ellen Weintraub to issue a very direct statement on Thursday warning against candidates accepting help from foreign governments. “I would not have thought that I needed to say this,” said Weintraub.

 

 President Trump is pointing his stubby fingers at Iran in the wake of reports of new attacks on oil tankers. From the New York Times:

President Trump said on Friday that there was no doubt that Iran was behind the explosions that crippled two oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman this week and warned Tehran not to try to close the Strait of Hormuz, a major transit point for the world’s oil supplies.

“Well, Iran did do it,” the president said in a telephone interview on “Fox & Friends” in his first comments since the ships were damaged. “You know they did it because you saw the boat. I guess one of the mines didn’t explode and it’s got essentially Iran written all over it.”

The president was referring to video footage released by the United States military that it said showed an Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps patrol boat pulling alongside one of the stricken ships several hours after the first explosion and removing an unexploded limpet mine in broad daylight…

…Iran dismissed allegations of its involvement, characterizing them as American propaganda intended to provoke a conflict.

 

Get even more smarter after the jump…

(more…)

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“Benkenlooper” Makes The Cut–And Will Share The Stage

UPDATE: Here’s the complete debate lineup, via the New York Times:

—–

Michael Bennet, John Hickenlooper.

Colorado Public Radio reports:

Former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper and Democratic U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet have both qualified for the first Democratic presidential primary debates. The Democratic National Committee announced the names of the candidates that made the cut on Thursday…

An NBC News drawing Friday will divide the large field between the first and second night. Party officials have promised to weight the drawing with the intention of ensuring that top tier and lagging candidates are spread roughly evenly over the two nights.

Montana Gov. Steve Bullock was the most high-profile candidate left off the list. He failed to reach the party’s polling or grassroots fundraising thresholds.

Today the grouping of the candidates was announced after the drawing mentioned above–former Gov. John Hickenlooper of Colorado and Sen. Michael Bennet will share the stage with the man both have set their sights on as a principal target to plink at from the right side of the primary field, Sen. Bernie Sanders. Both candidates have a higher bar to meet in terms of polling and financial support in order to qualify for the third round of debates later in September, so it’s critical they take maximum advantage of the brief amount of camera time each candidate will receive in Miami.

Obviously it’s what they both wanted, including the chance to face off against Sanders.

We’ll see what they do with it.

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BREAKING: Sarah Sanders Leaving White House

NPR’s Sarah McCammon reports:

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders is leaving the White House, President Trump tweeted on Thursday.

“After 3 1/2 years, our wonderful Sarah Huckabee Sanders will be leaving the White House at the end of the month and going home to the Great State of Arkansas,” Trump said. “She is a very special person with extraordinary talents, who has done an incredible job! I hope she decides to run for Governor of Arkansas – she would be fantastic. Sarah, thank you for a job well done!”

We’ll update when the next press secretary is announced–not that it matters much.

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Who’s Who Of GOP Losers Oppose Statewide “De-Brucing”

Walker Stapleton is back.

As the Denver Post’s Anna Staver reportsProposition CC, this fall’s referred measure to allow the state to retain revenues in excess of the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights’ (TABOR) prescribed growth limits, has an opposition committee stocked with big-name Republicans past and present:

The group [Former Gov. Bill] Owens joined as an advisory board member is called the No on CC campaign, and its list of co-chairs includes former State Treasurers Walker Stapleton and Mark Hillman and 18th Judicial District Attorney George Brauchler. Their goal is to convince voters that this request is different from the temporary TABOR refund timeout passed in 2005 because it’s permanent and because Colorado isn’t facing steep budget cuts from a recession.

Proposition CC asks voters to unwind part of a constitutional amendment called the Taxpayer Bill of Rights. The amendment changed how Colorado governments work in two important ways: It gave people the right to vote on all proposed tax increases, and it mandated that any money governments collected above a certain amount be refunded.

Although the requirement in TABOR that tax increase measures be subjected to a vote is of course the marquee feature of the 1992 law, held up as a model for the past 25 years despite no other state adopting a similar measure. That requirement sounded good enough to help pass TABOR by 53% in 1992, a margin that would not have allowed the measure to pass under current Colorado law.

George Brauchler.

But the lesser known restriction of revenue growth under TABOR has proven even more onerous, counterintuitively forcing the state to make painful choices even when times are good in order to stay under the measure’s artificial 6% cap–and refunding the money that goes over in pittance-sized refunds to taxpayers. Proposition CC would eliminate this cap, one of the less-understood but more pernicious effects of the law. Known as “de-Brucing,” it’s a step that most local governments in the state have already taken–as the Denver Post reported earlier this year:

Most local governments in Colorado no longer adhere to the TABOR spending limit.

All but four of Colorado’s 178 school districts have already “de-Bruced,” the nickname for permanently lifting the limit on the amount of tax dollars a government can keep. Eighty-five percent of Colorado’s municipalities and 51 of 64 counties have also convinced their voters to let them opt out.

“Nobody here is hopping mad at their local school district for doing this,” Rep. Matt Gray, D-Broomfield, said.

The fact that this measure is not asking for in increase in tax rates, but to eliminate a restriction on the back end of revenue growth that many voters would be surprised to learn even exists, make opposition to it more difficult. Most voters don’t even remember the last TABOR refunds of several years ago, which took the form of credits on income tax returns instead of a separate check and ranged from $13 to $41.

So how do you explain the opposition to Proposition CC by a crew of Republican usual suspects? That’s easy–TABOR is an article of faith to activist Colorado Republican base voters, to whom the measure’s net effect of throttling government revenue regardless of need is an ideological end unto itself. 2018 gubernatorial loser Walker Stapleton, attorney general loser George Brauchler, and long-irrelevant figures like Mark Hillman are all part of a generation of Colorado Republicans who rose to prominence in this political climate and will never turn against any aspect of TABOR publicly. As for ex-Gov. Bill Owens, who did turn against TABOR’s revenue caps in 2005? He’s spent every day since then trying to live Referendum C down–and opposing Proposition CC is just another chance to salvage his own dented conservative image.

Given the well-documented long-term fiscal challenges faced by the state of Colorado, there’s a strong argument that Proposition CC doesn’t do enough to alleviate TABOR’s chokehold on today’s priorities. But any way you slice it, the opposition to this measure is made up of the losing side of the past decade in Colorado politics.

Relics defending another relic.

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Trump Says He’d Accept Foreign Help with Re-Election

UPDATE #2: Gardner speaks…sort of. From Politico:

Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), one of the most vulnerable senators in the 2020 cycle, said foreign opposition “should be turned over to the FBI, plain and simple.”

Perhaps there is more to come from Gardner, but you probably noticed that he didn’t actually say anything about Trump’s comments. He isn’t alone, as Politico noted later:

Still, most stopped short of calling out Trump by name despite some private anger over the president’s comments. Republicans seemed to view the firestorm as a temporary one that will pass given Trump’s penchant for changing the media narrative.

There are two parts to this question for other elected officials, particularly Republicans: 1) Would you inform the FBI about information you received from foreign countries about a political opponent, and 2) What do you think about President Trump’s comments that he would accept politically-helpful information from a foreign government?

—–

UPDATE: Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) regularly boasts about his frequent communication with Trump. So what does Gardner have to say about this? Bloomberg reporter Steven Dennis tried to find out:

But not all Republican Senators are avoiding the subject:

—–

President Trump

I’m not “not listening.”

President Trump sat down for an interview with George Stephanopoulos of ABC News on Wednesday and candidly admitted that not only would he accept foreign help in his 2020 re-election campaign — but he probably wouldn’t even tell the FBI about those interactions:

President Donald Trump may not alert the FBI if foreign governments offered damaging information against his 2020 rivals during the upcoming presidential race, he said, despite the deluge of investigations stemming from his campaign’s interactions with Russians during the 2016 campaign.

Later in the interview, Stephanopoulos brought up FBI Director Christopher Wray’s warning that anyone who received incriminating information from a foreign government should immediately contact the FBI. As James Hohmann recaps for the Washington Post:

Trump said that he would “want to hear” whatever information a foreigner was offering and that accepting compromising information about a challenger does not count as foreign interference. “The FBI doesn’t have enough agents to take care of it,” he said. “When you go and talk, honestly, to congressmen, they all do it. They always have, and that’s the way it is. It’s called oppo research.”

Trump added: “You don’t call the FBI. … Oh, give me a break – life doesn’t work that way.”

In response to rebukes, including from Republicans, Trump claimed in the summer of 2016 that he had been joking when he encouraged Russia to hack his opponent’s emails. Watch last night’s clip, and you’ll see that Trump is clearly not joking about welcoming dirt from foreigners. Once again, this puts him crosswise with the FBI.

After the ABC News interview aired, Trump seemed to belatedly understand the problem with these statements and is now furiously trying to spin his own remarks in a different light. As Stephen Collinson writes for CNN:

President Donald Trump threw up a smokescreen of deflection and confusing counter attacks Thursday as a furor mounted over his staggering comment that he would be open to dirt dug up on his 2020 opponents by foreign powers such as Russia or China.

The President even implied — clearly erroneously — that he had been merely referring to the content of his conversations with foreign dignitaries such as the Queen of England and Prince Charles when he made the remark in an ABC News interview.

Even in a presidency that long ago burned through all conceivable superlatives, Trump’s statement was a stunner…

…This was the President of the United States — the man charged with protecting the Constitution, American democracy and the Western world — sitting at the Resolute desk in the Oval Office, saying he would accept damaging information from Russia and China on his 2020 Democratic foe. [Pols emphasis]

It is a federal crime in the United States for a political candidate to accept money (or anything of value) from foreign governments or citizens for the purposes of winning an election.

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Supergirl Asks, “Who Is Cory Gardner?”


An excellent new video from NowThis News takes an in-depth and most unflattering look at the political career of Colorado’s Sen. Cory Gardner–tracing back to his roots as a Democrat in college to one of the state’s most stridently anti-abortion legislators, then his election to the U.S. Senate and subsequent role as principal Donald Trump apologist and arrester of wheelchair-bound health care protesters.

It’s a well produced and damning take on Gardner’s life and time in office, even more interesting to locals since the narrator is Arapahoe High School grad Melissa Benoist–better known as the star of the CW series Supergirl. We weren’t aware that Benoist even followed politics in her home state of Colorado, but with this you can consider her, as they say, thrown down.

Give this a watch and share.

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Gardner’s Re-Elect Pitch: “Ask Senator Udall”


President Trump and Sen. Cory Gardner.

We did a spit-take a few moments ago after watching the above clip from an interview by FOX 31’s Joe St. George of Sen. Cory Gardner today, asking about Gardner’s field of Democratic opponents and the growing unease among Republicans about Gardner’s re-election prospects. Here’s a transcript:

ST. GEORGE: Nine Democrats want to run against you. Are you paying attention to any of them right now or you worried about any of them?

GARDNER: Well I think you’re undercounting! I think there’s more than that. Uh, look we’re going to continue to do what’s right for the people of Colorado, what’s right for this country. And I look forward to taking the things that we have accomplished for the people of Colorado back home and sharing that message. Look, at we’ve cut taxes allowing more and more people to keep their hard-earned money in their own pockets. We’ve helped create reforms that that the VA that’s allowed veterans to receive better care. We’ve brought dollars back to Western Colorado at where they rightfully belong. We’re working hard to move Space Command and BLM headquarters to Colorado. This is about the four corners of our state. This is about opportunity. This is about making sure that the Eastern Plains in the Western Slope and the Front Range benefit. I don’t think socialism gets us there. In fact, I know socialism does not get us there.

ST. GEORGE: A lot of people I’ve talked to are already writing you off. They say no way Cory Gardner can win Colorado in 2020. Why are they wrong?

GARDNER: Well, you could ask Senator Udall that question. [Pols emphasis]

As a pitch for re-election to a U.S. Senate seat, this is fairly stunning for its ineptitude. Gardner’s list of accomplishments pretty much begins and ends with the Trump tax cut bill of 2017, which Americans strongly disapprove of in every opinion poll after failing to realize the promised benefits in their paychecks and tax returns. President Donald Trump did sign legislation reforming VA health care delivery–but critics have denounced the plan as back-door privatization. Either way, after nearly a full six-year term in the United States Senate, these are absolutely piffling “accomplishments,” closer to what the ineffectual safe-seat Rep. Doug Lamborn lists in his franked mailers than a top-tier Senate re-election campaign.

But all of that takes a back seat to Gardner’s testy response to St. George’s question about those who have already written Gardner off as a political dead man walking. It’s a rare moment for the always-scripted Sen. Gardner to slip like this and invoke a backward-looking message–similar to Donald Trump talking about Hillary Clinton three years later. Gardner will not win by re-fighting the last election.

And here’s why: Gardner won his Senate seat in 2014 by a narrow margin of fewer than two percent, after a campaign in which Gardner relied on rank deception about his record as well as a national Republican wave to win against the prevailing local electoral trends. To suggest that Gardner’s narrow win over Mark Udall in 2014 is any indicator of what he faces today in a state that has grown only more hostile to the Republican brand is nothing short of delusional. The improbable circumstances that allowed Gardner to eke out a win in 2014 no longer exist. The polite society he fooled will not be fooled again.

And despite his (fading) reputation as a political mastermind, Gardner is even weaker than he looks on paper.

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The Actual President of the United States of America

Both President Trump and Democratic Presidential hopeful Joe Biden were in Iowa on Tuesday as part of their respective 2020 election campaigns. The two men shot a lot of arrows back and forth, a verbal battle that captured most of the headlines related to the word “Iowa.” But those headlines obscured a couple of really strange comments from Trump on other issues, which thankfully were not missed by Aaron Rupar of Vox.com.

Here we have President Trump commiserating with Iowa farmers about the sad fact that their tractors don’t connect to the Internet:

“We secured nearly $1.2 billion dollars to expand rural broadband, which you need very badly. They have not treated the Midwest well with broadband, with anything having to do with the word ‘computer.’ I look at some of those tractors and they don’t even hook up. [Pols emphasis] They’re all set, but you don’t have the capability here in terms of your infrastructure.”

Where do I plug in?

Senator Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) is the son of a tractor salesman who regularly appears on national political interviews with tractors in the background.

Maybe the Gardner family can sell Iowa some of them Internet Tractors.

Later in his remarks on Tuesday, Trump claimed that California is no longer going to burn down because it listened to him on the importance of cleaning up those dirty forests:

“They were saying it was global warming — could have had something to do with it — but you need forest management. You can’t let 15 and 20 years of leaves and broken trees and dead wood, that after the first 18 months is dry as a bone. You can’t let that be there. You have to clean it. You have to clean those floors of the forest, and you’re going to see a big difference. [Pols emphasis]

And actually, they mocked me. They said, ‘Oh, what’s he doing? He’s talking about sweeping the floors…well, I don’t use the word “sweeping,” but you have to have forest management. And all of a sudden about four weeks after that happened they learned I was right, and now they are managing the forest as least as much as they could — they have a long way to go, because there’s a lot of it. But when you look, year after year, you see California mostly burning down. It’s management. And I think they’re going to do a much better job.” [Pols emphasis]

Here’s the link to that video clip if you are so inclined. In fairness to Trump, it is true that he didn’t previously use the word “sweeping”…he called it forest “raking.

Anyhoo, there are 510 days until the November 2020 election.

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Why Didn’t Ken Buck Do Something?


Colorado GOP chairman Rep. Ken Buck (R).

Entering the second day of reaction to the failure of the Republican campaign to recall freshman Democratic Rep. Tom Sullivan of Centennial, the conversation is moving beyond initial shock into the important follow-up questions–how high up does the blame for this fiasco extend? And how exactly did this incredibly bad idea even get off the ground?

With the effort now officially dead, pointy fingers are converging on the Colorado Republican Party itself, and the central role of vice-chair Kristi Burton Brown in launching the campaign against Sullivan–9NEWS yesterday:

Kristi Burton Brown, Vice Chair of the Colorado Republican Party, posted on Facebook that the recall effort she initiated against the first-year lawmaker was ending.

“While we are pulling the recall today to focus on other essential efforts, Sullivan does not get a free pass. 2020 is the year to oust him, with the support of voters who now know how extreme he is,” wrote Brown.

The obvious first question–who is “we?” Wasn’t this done in her “personal capacity?”

That was of course farcical. After the recall petition against Rep. Sullivan was approved, Colorado Republican Party chairman Ken Buck insisted that his vice chair was acting “in her personal capacity, not as part of her leadership role with the state party.” But Colorado GOP “CEO” Steve House had already eagerly explained how the Colorado GOP would support recalls for electoral advantage–not to mention Buck’s own speech before his election as state party chair promising to teach Democrats “how to spell R-E-C-A-L-L” (video above). Combine that with the vice chair’s “personal” leadership role in the Sullivan recall, and it’s simply absurd to not hold the Colorado Republican Party directly responsible for the outcome.

And that opens the door to more pressing questions that Republicans must reckon with. Is Ken Buck’s absentee leadership of the state party while he tries to serve in Congress at the same time creating a leadership vacuum? Did Buck simply not have time or the presence of mind to recognize that the vice chair leading the Sullivan recall would indelibly link the party to the recall? Who exactly is in charge over there?

As the saying goes, victory has a thousand fathers. But as much as many Republicans want to lay the blame for this massive defeat at the feet of Dudley Brown, the man everyone loves to hate and has little credibility to lose, this is the Colorado Republican Party’s in-house disaster. The party’s vice chair is centrally to blame–and the statements of the party’s chairman and the “CEO” who runs the day-to-day operations on behalf of the absentee chairman oblige them to take the blame as well.

It’s time for Chairman Buck to own up to this disaster and clean house.

Or make way for someone who, for whatever reason, can.

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Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner is Coming to Colorado!

Come see Sen. Cory Gardner on Friday, June 14, at 8:00 am at the Country Steak Out in Fort Morgan.

Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) will be making a rare public appearance in Colorado this week. We wanted to make sure you didn’t miss this announcement from Monday in the Ft. Morgan Times:

The Morgan County Republican Central Committee will be hosting U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner for a Legislative Update at 8 a.m. on Friday, June 14 at the Country Steak Out, 19592 E. 8th Avenue in Fort Morgan.

Join the Republicans for this informative update from Sen. Gardner. The public is invited to attend.

For more information contact any member of the Morgan County Central Committee: Chairman, Vivianne Lorenzini, 970-645-2485; Vice-chairman, Candie Loomis, 970-768-5070; Secretary, Jamie Hochanadel, 970-380-7060; or Treasurer, Dan Marler, 970-380-9621.

Colorado’s first-term Senator doesn’t make many public appearances in the state he was elected to represent, even though (or perhaps because) he is up for re-election in 2020. Normally your only chance at catching a glimpse of Gardner is to stumble upon some unannounced “event” — usually on a Friday — like when Gardner slipped into a meeting of the University of Colorado College Republican club in February. Statistically, you may be more likely to run across Gardner in Southeast Asia, which is where he turned up during the long Memorial Day recess last month.

It’s not just local reporters who get ignored by Gardner, who conducts “town hall” events about as often as you get your driver’s license renewed. But on Friday morning, Gardner will make the one-hour drive from his home in Yuma to the Country Steak Out at 19592 E. 8th Avenue in Fort Morgan. Here’s how to get there:

Here’s where all of your questions will be answered.

Don’t be late, because any “legislative update” about the U.S. Senate isn’t likely to last very long.

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Weld County Commish: Drill Baby Drill, Recall Polis, Same Diff

Weld County Commissioner Barbara Kirkmeyer.

As the Denver Post’s John Aguilar reports:

Weld County is letting it be known that there’s more than one way to interpret Senate Bill 181 — Colorado’s sweeping oil and gas law giving local governments appreciably more power to regulate energy extraction.

The Weld commissioners unanimously passed a resolution Monday designating the unincorporated parts of the county as a “mineral resource area of state interest.”

Previous discussion of SB 181 has focused on municipalities that want to tighten restrictions on the oil and gas industry, but commissioners Monday expressed a clear interest in making sure the industry remains a formidable force in a county that relies heavily on mineral extraction for jobs and tax revenues.

“SB 181 changed a lot of things,” said Commissioner Barbara Kirkmeyer during Monday’s meeting. “We are going to use the additional authority … that was given to us so that we have a fighting chance — so that the men and women in this county have a fighting chance.”

Despite the factually deficient warnings by opponents of this year’s landmark reform of oil and gas drilling regulations that Senate Bill 19-181 would “destroy the oil and gas industry in Colorado,” the reality of the new law is nothing like a ban or even major curtailment of oil and gas drilling. Although some local governments have taken action to restrict drilling within their boundaries under the new law’s “local control,” areas of the state who are friendly to the industry have the ability to remain friendly.

We wrote early in May about a resolution passed by the Weld County Board of Commissioners in support of the oil and gas industry during the heated debate over Senate Bill 19-181. Commissioners paid almost $2,000 out of petty cash for signs and bumper stickers celebrating Weld County’s love for the industry–a clear indicator that the county government would remain every bit accommodating to drillers as they were before. And now, Weld County is wasting no time using local control to declare their little slice of feedlot heaven a “drill baby drill” zone!

This move however does create a major contradiction for Weld County Commissioner Barbara Kirkmeyer, the board of commissioners’ ideological lightning rod who supported the failed laugh-track secession ballot question in 2013 and was herself threatened with a recall attempt just last year. In today’s Greeley Tribune, the contradiction stands out rather painfully:

In a letter responding to the recall attempt last year, Kirkmeyer, the Board of Weld County Commissioners chairwoman, said “The recall of a duly elected commissioner should be reserved for serious offenses and violations of public trust — not to retaliate for policy decisions that a handful of individuals or special interests don’t like, nor used to take over county government between regular elections and four-year commissioner terms.”

Polis, she said, violated the public’s trust in supporting and signing SB 181, which proponents say will give local governments more control over oil and gas, but opponents are concerned it will greatly decrease oil and gas in the state, especially after another oil and gas regulation bill failed to pass a public vote last November.

Let’s briefly walk through the tangled web Kirkmeyer weaves. Recalls “should be reserved for serious offenses and violations of public trust,” and not to take over governments “between regular elections!” Now, Kirkmeyer tells the Tribune that in her opinion SB-181 “violated the public’s trust,” clearing a path to support a recall of Gov. Jared Polis–but did she give that quote before or after she invoked SB-181 to protect the oil and gas industry in Weld County Monday night?

Folks, the reality of this is very simple. Months of overheated rhetoric is coming apart now that the bill is law and its true effects are becoming apparent. SB-181 is not the end of oil and gas in Colorado, and it’s certainly not the end of the industry in friendly places like Weld County. Once you understand this, it becomes evident that the real problem for SB-181’s opponents is that the industry will be less able to impose its will on communities who are not slavishly loyal to the oil and gas industry like Weld County is.

And that sounds a hell of a lot more like policy–defensible at that–than a violation of public trust.

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BREAKING: Sullivan Recall Implodes

UPDATE #5: The Denver Post’s Anna Staver:

“This gives Rep. Sullivan and the Democrats a victory,” said Dick Wadhams, a former Colorado GOP chairman. “Clearly, it was unwise to start this fight.”

Wadhams said he thinks recalls have a place in Colorado’s political process, but they need to be “well thought out.” And he isn’t convinced it’s a good idea for state party leaders to wade into the process before one gets on the ballot — even acting as a resident, as Kristi Brown said she was — because it makes any failed attempt look like it’s a failure of the GOP.

“The Colorado Republican Party was all over this aborted recall attempt,” Wadhams said. [Pols emphasis]

—–

UPDATE #4: Colorado Public Radio’s Bente Birkeland:

“If there was any chance of this recall succeeding they wouldn’t be running away from it, and their statement shows that they learned nothing from this failed attempt,” said a statement from Our Colorado Way of Life, the issue committee fighting the effort. “We hope that they will cease this endless election cycle and let voters decide Colorado’s future during normal elections, but we are ready to beat them again if they launch additional recalls.”

One GOP operative called the decision to pull the plug a devastating blow to Republicans that could hurt efforts to get money behind other potential recall efforts. [Pols emphasis] He said there were internal disagreements on messaging and strategy.

—–

UPDATE #3: Rocky Mountain Gun Owners head honcho Dudley Brown has posted a statement to RMGO’s official Facebook page that is fairly defensive about how donated funds are/were being spent:

“I take the responsibility of spending RMGO donors’ money quite seriously,” said Dudley Brown, RMGO’s Executive Director. “At this point, the best use of our resources is to refocus on other efforts.” [Pols emphasis]

“It’s clear from our work on the ground in HD-37 that Sullivan is out of step with his constituents and Colorado at-large,” continued Brown.

The statement goes on to include this nonsensical assertion: “Our work on the ground in HD-37 has made it clear that voters are ready for a change.”

Obviously, it is completely illogical to claim that “voters are ready for a change” in an announcement about ending a recall attempt in HD-37, but nothing in this recall attempt ever made sense anyway.

—–

UPDATE #2: Here’s a video clip from Colorado GOP chairman Ken Buck’s election as party chairman that hasn’t aged well:

Note enthusiastic applause from Sen. Cory Gardner too! We look forward to the follow-up questions.

—–

UPDATE: 9NEWS’ Marshall Zelinger asks the next logical question:

To which the answer appears to be “no.” Ka-ching!

—–

Rep. Tom Sullivan (D).

Word breaking from numerous sources that Colorado Republican vice chair Party Kristi Burton Brown is ending the hotly controversial attempt to recall freshman Democratic Rep. Tom Sullivan of Centennial:

The Democrats were so scared by this recall that they pulled out every stop to defend Sullivan: from Attorney General Weiser to Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, Democrat Socialists screamed their “outrage” and exposed their true colors. Nearly $100,000 of out-of-state money was spent almost immediately to defend the Democrats’ radical agenda.

We have been able to confirm everything we already knew: Tom Sullivan’s days as a State Representative are almost over. While we are pulling the recall today to focus on other essential efforts, [Pols emphasis] Sullivan does not get a free pass. 2020 is the year to oust him, with the support of voters who now know how extreme he is. The best strategies are unified strategies and, in order to accomplish the most good in the shortest time, we have decided to pull essential resources from this recall and free up volunteers to help finish the National Popular Vote petition effort and to focus on recalling Democrat Senators who are not up for re-election in 2020.

Today’s announcement comes on the heels of a Denver Post story this morning in which Rocky Mountain Gun Owners’ Dudley Brown expressed doubts that the signature drive would be successful:

“We’re not confident,” Rocky Mountain Gun Owners Executive Director Dudley Brown said Monday when The Post asked whether the recall will get onto the ballot. “It’s been tough work.” [Pols emphasis]

The audaciousness of the recall campaign against Rep. Sullivan, who was elected on a platform of gun safety legislation after his son Alex was killed in the 2012 Aurora theater mass shooting, has dominated headlines and effectively stymied the GOP’s declared strategy for initiating recalls in numerous legislative districts–and in doing so severely weakened the momentum Republicans arguably possessed toward the end of the 2019 legislative session.

The division this recall attempt has caused within the Republican Party is not going away either, particularly given the role of GOP leadership figures like Kristi Burton Brown and Minority Leader Patrick Neville. Republicans disgusted by the overreach of attempting to recall Rep. Sullivan over other more vulnerable Democrats–and there are a considerable number of such Republicans today–must also reckon with the fact that this “faction” is in effective control of the Colorado Republican Party. Are Colorado House Republicans really prepared to go into the 2020 election cycle with the Nevilles at the helm after they waded into this misguided recall? Right after losing 2018 in an historic landslide?

We’ll be updating this post throughout the day with coverage and reactions. It’s anybody’s guess what happens next. The magnitude of this defeat for the whole Republican Party in Colorado, no matter which side of this particular recall individuals came down on, will take some time to become fully evident. At the very least, this is a cold bucket of water for anyone with “recall fever.”

It’s a very big deal though. The game, once again, has completely changed.

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“RiNO” Cory Gardner Blowtorched For Belatedly Ditching Trump

Sen. Cory Gardner (R).

We wrote yesterday about the political peril Sen. Cory Gardner finds himself in following the “resolution” of President Donald Trump’s latest spate of wildly unpopular tariff threats against Mexico. Within the conservative news bubble from which the Republican base obtains most of their information about current events, Trump’s announcement Friday that Mexico had agreed to last-minute demands averting a 5% tariff on goods from Mexico from taking effect today was a triumph for the President. The rest of the country, understanding that this “last minute deal” had been agreed to weeks before by both governments, doesn’t consider any of this a “win” either for Trump or the jittery national economy.

Like most Republican Senators, there was never really a question whether Sen. Gardner could countenance support for punitive tariffs against Mexico. This latest round of unilateral threatmaking from Trump against Mexico saw Republican Senators provoked dissent against the President in the most public fashion since Trump took office–more backlash than equal or even more serious issues like the killing of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi by Saudi Arabia’s government earned. The controversy over Trump’s threatened tariffs on Mexico raged for days while Gardner kept his head down, and only spoke up last Friday just hours before Trump folded “triumphed.”

At (literally) the end of the day, Gardner waited too long to make a difference in the tariff debate–but speaking up at all nonetheless earned Gardner the renewed wrath of Trump’s loyal Republican base. Gardner is under continuous pressure to please base Republicans without whom he can’t be re-elected, while at the same time remaining viable in a state whose politics are rapidly trending away from both Trump and the Republican brand generally. The inability to satisfy those opposing audiences is why Gardner is the only incumbent Republican Senator with a sub-50% approval rating among fellow Republicans.

In the coming months, Gardner is likely to face more such impossible tests, and it’s likely he will continue to suffer from tepid support among base Republican voters. In the worst case Gardner is wide open to a primary challenge, though we’d have a hard time identifying a viable replacement. At the very least, Gardner is critically weak going into his re-election bid–lacking base Republican support for opposing Trump, however belatedly, and having alienated the middle for backing Trump every time it mattered.

It’s as close to a no-win situation as you’ll find in politics.

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Get More Smarter on Monday (June 10)

If this were 2020, we’d be two weeks away from the Primary Election. 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…

President Trump is lobbying tariff threats…again. As Greg Sargent writes for the Washington Post:

President Trump has spent the last half day frantically retweeting his propagandists, who are pushing the absurd deception that Trump’s new deal with Mexico is a massive and historic victory. In reality, the agreement — which averts Trump’s threatened tariffs — consisted mostly of things Mexico already agreed tomonths ago.

Trump is in a rage over this — he repeatedly fumed at the New York Times for reporting it — and now he’s amplifying the notion that he won enormous concessions from Mexico by claiming that Mexico has secretly agreed to another major provision that will be revealed at some unspecified future time.

This has come packaged with a threat: Trump just tweeted that if Mexico does not soon take formal steps to ratify that secret provision, “Tariffs will be reinstated!” [Pols emphasis]

The White House called off tariff threats against Mexico over the weekend after pretending that its crack negotiatin’ resulted in a capitulation that — in reality — had already been agreed upon. Or maybe it was all because of Sen. Cory Gardner’s (R-Yuma) breathtaking “dear colleague” letter on Friday.

From a local perspective, Aldo Svaldi of the Denver Post explains why Colorado farmers and business owners stand to lose Bigly because of Trump’s trade war.

 

The U.S. Senate isn’t doing much of anything these days, and Republicans are now pretending to be concerned. As Politico reports:

The Senate is going to get back to good old-fashioned legislating any day now. Republicans swear it.

Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s Senate has been almost entirely focused on confirming President Donald Trump’s personnel and judges and has had little in the way of recent legislative victories…

…The paltry list of accomplishments has given Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer an opening to portray the GOP as devoid of any agenda and could endanger Republicans at risk in a tough election cycle. And there’s a growing recognition within the GOP that it needs to do more.

 

 The Justice Department has reached a deal with Congressional leaders on turning over evidence from the Mueller investigation. From the New York Times:

The Justice Department, after weeks of tense negotiations, has agreed to provide Congress with key evidence collected by Robert S. Mueller III that could shed light on possible obstruction of justice and abuse of power by President Trump, the House Judiciary Committee said on Monday.

The exact scope of the material the Justice Department has agreed to provide was not immediately clear, but the committee signaled that it was a breakthrough after weeks of wrangling over those materials and others that the Judiciary panel demanded under subpoena.

The announcement appeared to provide a rationale for House Democrats’ choice, announced last week, to back away from threats to hold Attorney General William P. Barr in contempt of Congress. The House will still proceed on Tuesday with a vote to empower the Judiciary Committee to take Mr. Barr to court to fully enforce its subpoena, but even that may no longer be necessary, the panel’s leader said…

…House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler said he expected the department to begin sharing some of the material Monday afternoon and that all members of the committee would be able to view it privately.

 

Get even more smarter after the jump…

(more…)

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Trump’s Tariff Cave: Thanks For Nothing, Cory Gardner

President Trump and Sen. Cory Gardner.

While President Donald Trump and the conservative mediasphere celebrate their “big win” in high-stakes negotiations with Mexico under the threat of punitive sanctions to reduce undocumented immigration into the United States via that country, the New York Times was obliged to pop the bubble:

The deal to avert tariffs that President Trump announced with great fanfare on Friday night consists largely of actions that Mexico had already promised to take in prior discussions with the United States over the past several months, [Pols emphasis] according to officials from both countries who are familiar with the negotiations.

Friday’s joint declaration says Mexico agreed to the “deployment of its National Guard throughout Mexico, giving priority to its southern border.” But the Mexican government had already pledged to do that in March during secret talks in Miami between Kirstjen Nielsen, then the secretary of homeland security, and Olga Sanchez, the Mexican secretary of the interior, the officials said.

The centerpiece of Mr. Trump’s deal was an expansion of a program to allow asylum-seekers to remain in Mexico while their legal cases proceed. But that arrangement was reached in December in a pair of painstakingly negotiated diplomatic notes that the two countries exchanged. Ms. Nielsen announced the Migrant Protection Protocols during a hearing of the House Judiciary Committee five days before Christmas.

It’s become a distinct patten in the Trump administration: when facing defeat on a high-stakes policy gambit, Trump simply moves the goalposts to a location from which he can claim victory. Can’t replace Obamacare? At least we messed it up good! North Korea still firing off missiles? Hey, at least they’re not testing nukes! So it makes perfect sense that with the deadline to make good on his threats or fold rapidly approaching, Trump decided the concessions he already had won from Mexico were enough to stand down his threat of tariffs starting Monday.

Obviously, the revelation that Trump didn’t actually win new concessions in this latest round of drama undercuts the sense of triumph this was all supposed to build up to. We’re not completely sure how this was going to play out in the long term–would it have meant Trump was done demonizing immigrants, having solved the issue once and for all? That seems hard to imagine. In this respect, the news that Friday’s “last-minute deal” was a sham could actually help Republicans stay on their anti-immigrant message.

As for Sen. Cory Gardner? Once again Gardner has exhibited precisely zero leadership on the issue dominating the past week of nationwide news headlines. Gardner was one of the last Republicans who claimed to oppose the tariffs to dissent publicly before Trump announced that the tariffs would not be imposed. Gardner hasn’t commented publicly since the announcement that we’ve seen, but we’re not sure what he should say. If Gardner acknowledges reality and thanks the President for caving, the GOP base will be outraged. But if Gardner tries to validate Trump’s fictional pretense of a deal, everybody who knows the facts will laugh at him.

The sole piece of good news here that everybody can agree on is that there will be no sudden tariffs on billions of dollars of goods starting Monday. That’s a relief for everyone, though it comes no thanks to Trump, Gardner, or anyone with an (R) after their name. A relatively painless end to another self-inflicted crisis does not leave voters with anything to celebrate.

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Cory Gardner on the Ass-End of History Once Again

Never fear, Cory Gardner is here!

(To get the full multimedia effect of this blog post, we suggest listening to “Ride of the Valkyries” in the background as you read).

President Trump’s threat to impose new tariffs on Mexico — which are widely considered to be an economic disaster waiting to happen — become reality on Monday. Naturally, Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) boldly took action

…on Friday.

As Politico reports:

Gardner is raising the alarm about Donald Trump’s tariff threat just three days before the president’s proposed penalties against Mexican imports take effect.

The Colorado Republican distributed a letter to his Republican colleagues on Friday afternoon warning “current and proposed tariffs would negate all the economic benefits of tax reform” as Trump prepares to slap a new 5 percent tariff on Mexican goods that could increase to as much as 25 percent. The president has said those levies would go into effect on Monday without border reforms from Mexico aimed at stopping illegal immigration to the United States…

…Gardner’s missive comes as the GOP broadly frets about the effects the tariffs could have on the American economy and their constituents. Several Republican senators are warning the president they would vote to overturn the new levies, though Gardner has not explicitly said he would go that far. [Pols emphasis]

Gardner’s letter to Republican colleagues has all the political power of a letter-to-the-editor in a small town newspaper.

Whatever ends up happening with Trump’s Mexico tariff threat, the outcome will have absolutely nothing to do with Cory Gardner. And that’s exactly how Gardner likes it.

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