Perlmutter Backs Hickenlooper for Senate

Congressman Ed Perlmutter (D-Jefferson County) made some big news today by declaring that former Gov. John Hickenlooper has his support for a potential 2020 U.S. Senate campaign:

Perlmutter’s support carries a great deal of weight amid a crowded field of Democratic candidates for a couple of reasons. First and foremost, Perlmutter is (not very) arguably the most well-known, and well-liked, member of Colorado’s Democratic congressional delegation. This kind of pre-emptive announcement of support is also not something you normally see from the seven-term Congressman, so Democratic activists and party leaders are going to take notice.

Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-Jefferson County)

And, of course, Perlmutter himself had long been considered to be a potential top candidate for U.S. Senate in 2020. We actually moved his name off of The Big Line on Friday as speculation mounted that Hick was likely to enter the race sometime soon; our logic: It is unlikely that Perlmutter would still consider the Senate race if Hickenlooper is indeed running (for the same reason, we also dropped Rep. Joe Neguse of Lafayette from The Big Line).

Perlmutter’s early endorsement is an unmistakable signal that Hickenlooper is both likely to enter the Senate race and likely to pick up support from notable other Democrats once he does. Hickenlooper announced last week that he was dropping his bid for the Democratic Presidential nomination, at the same time acknowledging that he was considering taking a run at the seat currently occupied by Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma). Gardner is widely considered to be among the top 1-2 most endangered incumbent Republican Senators on the ballot this cycle, which only increases the pressure for Democrats to find their best potential challenger in 2020.

As we wrote here on Friday, both polling and simple logic point to Hickenlooper as the best candidate for Democrats to defeat Gardner in 2020. Supporters of the Senate candidates already running argue that the Party would be fine with any number of those candidates. Maybe, but it’s tough to make a strong case that Hickenlooper is not the Democrat with the best chance of defeating Gardner. Perlmutter surely thought about that and came to the same conclusion.

Former Gov. John Hickenlooper (D)

This is a blog about politics. Fundamentally, success in politics requires that you win elections. As we’ve seen in the last four years, Senate Republicans aren’t going to do a damn thing about anything — they won’t even consider discussing any number of important pieces of legislation passed out of the House this year — so Democrats need to take majority control of the Senate for anything significant to happen on issues from health care and education to equal rights and gun safety. For Democrats to win the majority in 2020, they need their best candidates (say, Hickenlooper) running against the most endangered Republican incumbents (like Gardner) around the country.

It’s tough to argue against Hick’s likely frontrunner status should he enter the race for Senate. Lots of people can, and will, argue about how far left Hickenlooper sits in the Democratic Party. But what that discussion can’t change is this: Among Colorado voters, Hick has already shown — twice — that he can carry the top of a ticket in a statewide election. These are just factual truths.

Perlmutter’s endorsement of Hick today is both symbol and signal. Another signal that Hick is coming, and a symbol of the support that appears to be waiting for him. If Democrats around the country can find their Hickenloopers — the candidates with the best chance of winning, period — then they can re-take the Senate majority and maybe even turn that mess back into a functioning government.


“Doug Lamborn Sided With Abusers”

Rep. Doug Lamborn (R).

A press release from the Animal Wellness Foundation last week celebrates the recent passage in the U.S. House of the Prevent All Soring Tactics (PAST) Act, a measure designed to prevent a particularly cruel practice against certain show horses:

The PAST Act seeks to strengthen the Horse Protection Act and end the torturous, painful practice of soring Tennessee Walking, Racking, and Spotted Saddle Horses. Soring, the intentional infliction of pain to horses’ front limbs by applying caustic chemicals such as mustard oil or kerosene or inserting sharp objects into the horses’ hooves to create an exaggerated gait known as the “Big Lick,” has plagued the equine world for six decades.

U.S. Senator Michael Bennet joined as a cosponsor of the Senate companion bill on July 30th, S. 1007, led by the senior U.S. Senator from Idaho, Republican Mike Crapo, that mirrors the House passed legislation. Senator Cory Gardner has not cosponsored the Senate PAST Act but was formerly a cosponsor of the House bill when he served in the Lower Chamber in the 113th Congress. Colorado Governor Jared Polis was also a longtime supporter of the PAST Act during his time in the U.S. House as well.

“Soring involves cruel and intentional infliction of pain on a horse’s legs and hooves purely for sport,” said Rep. Joe Neguse (D-CO-02). “No horse should be made to suffer for competition. Though laws have been on the books for decades banning this inhumane practice, horse soring still runs rampant. The PAST Act would strengthen and improve current regulations and ensure that this practice finally comes to an end. I am proud to be a cosponsor of and advocate for this legislation because it is time for Congress to step-in and halt this brutal and unnecessary practice.”

The PAST Act passed by an overwhelming 333-96 margin. In the Colorado House delegation, the only member voting no was Rep. Doug Lamborn of Colorado Springs, who has never in his career allowed distasteful optics to get in his benefactors’ way:

“We applaud the Members of the Colorado Delegation who voted to end this barbaric and indefensible practice that has marred the horse show world for decades,” said Marty Irby, executive director at Animal Wellness Action and past president of the Tennessee Walking Horse Breeders’ & Exhibitors’ Association. “We’re disappointed that Doug Lamborn sided with abusers, [Pols emphasis] but the landslide support for the bill is a powerful signal to the U.S. Senate that it should pony up and end this cruelty to horses once and for all.”

Folks, we’ll concede that we are not experts in the field of animal husbandry in general or horsekeeping in particular. But even a brief look at the practice of “soring” horses to produce this trademark showy gait suggests that it is extremely cruel, with only an anachronistic “benefit” to a class of people who are somehow able to enjoy watching an animal prance about oddly without an attack of conscience from the realization that the animal is prancing like that because it is in severe pain. Realizing that, “soring” lumps in with cockfighting and other such practices that are unambiguous animal cruelty and should most certainly be outlawed.

But apparently Rep. Doug Lamborn of Colorado Springs is down with animal cruelty? Perhaps a horse was mean to him as a child? Being on the losing end of such a lopsided vote to outlaw this barbaric practice makes it a question worth asking–even of El Paso County’s infamously uncouth but perennially safe dullard of a congressman.


They Need Not Go Quietly Into That Good Night

The Denver Post’s political duo Justin Wingerter and Nic Garcia report, and we’re obliged to take note:

State Democratic insiders agree that Hickenlooper would be a formidable candidate against Gardner, but a majority of the 11 Democratic candidates already in the field want Hickenlooper to know they won’t be rolling over if he decides to run for the Senate.

“He has his aspirations, and we can’t control what he does, but what I’m concerned about is Washington insiders interfering with Colorado voters in their selection of a Democratic nominee,” [Sen. Angela] Williams said in an interview Thursday morning, hours before Hickenlooper ended his presidential run. “I believe women and people of color deserve a voice in the United States Senate.”

“He’ll have a fight on his hands,” Williams added. “That’s what I believe.” She accused Hickenlooper of attacking “the progressive values of women and people of color on issues like health care reform” during his ill-fated run for president.

In the wake of yesterday’s announcement that former Gov. John Hickenlooper would end his presidential campaign and give “serious thought” to running for the U.S. Senate against Sen. Cory Gardner in 2020, at least three Democrats already running for the seat have suggested they won’t be peremptorily driven from the race if Hickenlooper gets in. Michael Johnston in particular has a sufficient war chest on hand with which to fight on, and at the end of the day nobody can force any declared candidate to pull out.

No person can do that, but reality has a way of working itself out.

We have been clear in this space that based on every available data point, including corroborative polling data and years of experience observing the trends and power centers in Colorado politics, John Hickenlooper as a candidate for the U.S. Senate would be orders of magnitude stronger than anyone else presently in the race for the Democratic nomination. A recent poll showing Hickenlooper’s name ID and persistent favorability crushing his Democratic rivals by 51 points is hotly disputed by supporters of other candidates, but it sensibly reflects the built-in advantage of a popular two-term governor against a primary field consisting mostly of current and former state lawmakers. Another recent poll showing Hickenlooper handily defeating Sen. Cory Gardner in a hypothetical head-to-head matchup, though we don’t doubt other candidates can also compete well, is not an expression of anyone’s bias. It’s reality.

With that said, conventional wisdom has been upset before. All of the factors that we have identified as giving Hickenlooper the upper hand in a Democratic primary will need to be proven out once again. If our analysis is correct that Hickenlooper will dominate if he enters the Democratic primary and quickly relegate opposing campaigns to minor status, that prediction will be borne out by events.

We’re just the messenger, but feel free to prove us wrong–if you can.


Get More Smarter on Friday (August 16)

We should just buy all of the islands. 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/visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show or The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us Facebook and Twitter.


President Trump is apparently getting nervous about the economy — mostly for what it means related to his 2020 re-election. From the Washington Post:

Mounting signs of global economic distress this week have alarmed President Trump, who is worried that a downturn could imperil his reelection, even as administration officials acknowledge that they have not planned for a possible recession.

Trump is banking on a strong economy to win a second term in 2020, and in recent weeks he has impulsively lashed out at the Federal Reserve, pressured Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin to label China a “currency manipulator,” and unexpectedly delayed tariffs on Chinese imports out of fear they could depress holiday retail sales.

Yet despite gyrations in the U.S. stock market and economic slowdowns in other countries, officials in the White House, at the Treasury Department and throughout the administration are planning no new steps to attempt to stave off a recession. Rather, Trump’s economic advisers have been delivering the president upbeat assessments in which they argue that the domestic economy is stronger than many forecasters are making it out to be.

President Trump might be setting up Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell to take the fall for any potential economic troubles, but as Catherine Rampell writes in a separate story for the Washington Post, there’s no real plan from the White House:

If things go south, this administration doesn’t have a plan. It never had a plan. And it doesn’t have competent personnel in place to come up with a plan.

Trump’s economic brain trust consists of a guy who plays an economist on TV, a crank  who has been disowned by the (real) economics profession and the producer of “The Lego Batman Movie.”



► “So whether you love me or hate me, you’ve got to vote for me,” said President Trump at a campaign rally in New Hampshire on Thursday. 


► House Minority Leader and recall grifter Pat Neville says that he is personally responsible for talking President Trump out of supporting so-called “red flag” laws in the aftermath of the Parkland High School shootings in Florida last year.


► An astonishing 67% of Americans support an assault weapons ban, according to polling conducted on behalf of Fox News. As CNN’s Chris Cillizza explains:

Yes, there is something of a partisan divide on the question — with 86% of Democrats favoring a ban on automatic and semiautomatic weapons, while 46% of Republicans feel the same. But look at it another way: On a proposal that is widely regarded in GOP congressional circles as a non-starter because it is going too far in limiting guns, self-identified Republicans are split right down the middle — 46% support, 46% oppose.

Among Republican women — one of the key swing voting blocs heading into 2020, a majority (54%) support an assault weapons ban, while just 36% oppose it. And even a majority of people in gun-owning households (53%) support an assault weapons ban.

There hasn’t been an assault weapons ban in place in the United States since the last one expired in 2004, after a decade on the books. Attempts to renew it in 2004 failed — due at least in part, to a heightened national security climate in the wake of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks and a lack of urgency from the Bush White House.



Get even more smarter after the jump…



Friday Open Thread

“Remember not only to say the right thing in the right place, but far more difficult still, to leave unsaid the wrong thing at the tempting moment.”

–Benjamin Franklin


The View From 30,000 Feet Is…Fuzzy

Above you can see an image forwarded to us today that depicts the MSNBC cable news network attempting to explain the dynamics of Colorado’s Democratic U.S. Senate primary to their audience. But as our readers should be able to quickly see, there are a few problems:

  1. None of these men are running for the U.S. Senate in Iowa.
  2. The second photo is not Colorado U.S. Senate candidate Mike Johnston.
  3. No one named Mike Johnson is running for Colorado’s U.S. Senate seat.
  4. The depicted Mike Johnson is a member of Congress in Louisiana.
  5. Rep. Mike Johnson is a hard-right Republican.

On the upside, MSNBC did get the poll numbers right. And from their lofty perches that might be the whole story.


Recall Donations Have a Funny Way of Disappearing

You could donate to a Neville recall campaign…or keep warm for a few minutes.

As we’ve discussed in this space on numerous occasions, various efforts to recall Democratic elected officials in Colorado are about two things: 1) Figuring out a way to get around the fact that pesky Colorado voters won’t support Republican candidates, and 2) Raising money by any means possible.

The fundraising aspect has become so intense, in fact, that it has sparked some nasty infighting among right-wing groups scrapping for loose change. One of the main financial beneficiaries of Recallpalooza is the Neville Clan, led by House Minority Leader Patrick Neville and his political consultant brother, Joe Neville. This isn’t just speculation on our part. The Nevilles openly admit that they are promoting recalls in order to profit financially, which is perhaps somewhat more honorable than pretending otherwise but no less disgusting in general.

As Marianne Goodland reports for the publication formerly known as the Colorado Statesman…well, let’s just say you can color us unsurprised:

A political fund controlled by state House Minority Leader Patrick Neville of Castle Rock and his brother, Joe Neville, has been attempting for months to raise money for the effort to recall Colorado Gov. Jared Polis.

But groups involved in the recall effort say they haven’t seen any of that money yet. [Pols emphasis]

House Minority Leader Patrick Neville (R-Castle Rock)

The most recent fundraising email was sent Aug. 5 under the name of Take Back Colorado, asking respondents to reply to a survey on whether the governor should be recalled. It included a link to a donation site, operated by Values First Colorado, the 527 campaign committee run by Joe Neville that primarily supports Republican candidates for the Colorado state House.

Under tax law, 527 committees can raise unlimited funds to influence an election or issue but can’t coordinate with a campaign.

Joe Neville told Colorado Politics that any money received through that Aug. 5 fundraising email would go to the Resist Polis PAC, one of two groups involved in the petition effort to recall the governor. He did not respond to a request on how much money was raised by the Polis-recall emails.

But Resist Polis PAC spokeswoman Korry Lewis said the group’s dealings with the Nevilles have been frustrating, because while “we’ve been talking to them since April” about the fundraising emails, it hasn’t seen any money yet.

As we’ve already seen with failed recall attempts targeting Democratic Rep. Tom Sullivan, you had better hold on to your receipts if you decide to write a check to one of these grifting operations. Some recall donors have in fact figured this out and are asking for their money back, which is sort of like waiting for a check from Bernie Madoff.

This is not the first time that the Nevilles and their friends at Rocky Mountain Gun Owners have made campaign donations disappear. Since Republican donors don’t seem to be learning anything from these mistakes, it surely won’t be the last time, either.


Hickenlooper To End Presidential Campaign

THURSDAY UPDATE: Watch Gov. John Hickenlooper’s gracious presidential race exit video, in which he pledges to seriously consider a run for the U.S. Senate:

I’ve heard from so many Coloradans who want me to run for the US Senate. They remind me how much is at stake for our country. And our state. I intend to give that some serious thought.

And this from Sen. Kamala Harris’ press secretary:

And for good measure, Sen. Elizabeth Warren:


John Hickenlooper

As the Associated Press reports, former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper on Thursday will end his bid for the 2020 Democratic Presidential nomination:

John Hickenlooper is expected to drop out of the Democratic presidential primary on Thursday.

That’s according to a person close to the former Colorado governor who wasn’t authorized to speak publicly before the announcement and who spoke to The Associated Press on Wednesday night on condition of anonymity.

It is not expected that Hickenlooper will immediately announce his next steps — only that he is dropping out of the race for President. It has been looking increasingly likely in recent weeks that Hickenlooper is moving toward a run for U.S. Senate in Colorado.


Cory Gardner: Going The Extra Mile For…Movie Theaters?

Sen. Cory Gardner (R).

Sen. Cory Gardner continued his low-publicity “walking tour” of Colorado towns and cities yesterday with a stop in the conservative mountain town of Buena Vista–seat of red-leaning Chaffee County, which narrowly voted for Donald Trump and Darryl Glenn in the last presidential election. The Mountain Mail newspaper obliged Gardner with the closest we’ve seen to a controversy-free puff piece during this year’s August recess, in which Gardner is basically pretending to engage with the public while minimizing the ability of opponents to organize around these short-notice “public events.”

One particular claim from Gardner during this uncharacteristically sedate walking tour of Buena Vista is worth discussing:

Gardner took a walking tour of East Main Street for about an hour, stopping to answer questions from constituents, discussing topics including energy, affordable housing, bipartisan compromise, cannabis and the Pearl theater.

“One thing we’ve done with rural theaters … we have theaters that are stuck with the choice of digital cameras that cost a quarter of a million dollars more than they have. And this is the other thing I find interesting: For the towns like, say, Akron, Colorado, if they want a first run of a movie, say they want to get the new Spider-Man movie or the new Marvel movie, they’re required to keep those in the theater for three weeks. In a small town, you’ve seen it the first weekend,” Gardner said while standing outside the Pearl.

“So I actually called the CEO of Disney and said, ‘Can you make some kind of exception for rural theaters? I guarantee they’re not making the difference in your quarterly profit. So can you just say you guys don’t have to keep it for three weeks?’”

Got that, voters? If your town movie theater needs a break, Cory Gardner will call the CEO of Disney! That’s amazing news for small-town movie theaters, although the story doesn’t mention if Disney’s CEO, you know, ever said yes. But that’s not really the point: once Gardner starts ringing up CEOs on behalf of some constituents, shouldn’t he do that for all of us? Like constituents getting price gouged by pharmaceutical companies? Screwed by their private insurance? Ripped off by loan sharks? Sickened by neighborhood polluters? We could go on and on.

It’s a lot of CEOs, folks. On the upside, most of them should be easier to get on the phone than Robert Iger.


Checked Your Stocks Today?

Look out below.

Maybe don’t. Or have a stiff drink first:

The Dow fell 800 points Wednesday after the bond market, for the first time in over a decade, flashed a warning signal that has an eerily accurate track record for predicting recessions.

Here’s what happened: The 10-year Treasury bond yield fell below 1.6% Wednesday morning, dropping just below the yield of the 2-year Treasury bond. It marked the first time since 2007 that 10-year bond yields fell below 2-year yields.

US stocks fell as investors sold stock in companies and moved it into bonds. The Dow (INDU) fell as many as 808 points and was nearly 3.1% lower at the close. The broader S&P 500 (SPX) closed down 2.9% and the Nasdaq (COMP) sank 3% Wednesday. It was the worst day for stocks of 2019.

We’ll hold off on the political prognostication long enough for readers to grieve. But clearly there will be some.


Cory Gardner Talking Points Robot Appears in Minturn

Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma)

Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) made a 2020 re-election campaign stop in Minturn on Tuesday. It was not particularly inspiring, even by Gardner standards.

As Nate Peterson captures for the Vail Daily, Gardner was asked some tough questions — for which he provided some very Gardner-esque non-answers. Check out this discussion:

Joy Harrison, the former chair of the Eagle County Democrats, pleaded with Gardner to support the CORE Act in a seven-minute back-and-forth exchange.

“It’s an incredibly important bill that would preserve these incredible public lands for our kids and our kids’ kids,” Harrison said. “Your vote and your support is absolutely critical because Republican Senators, your colleagues, are looking to you to see what you will signal.”

“The CORE Act has supporters and it has people who don’t like it,” Gardner said. “I think what’s important in Colorado is that we find that way to find something that people can support. I think that’s incredibly important.” [Pols emphasis]

“You’re dismissing so much work and so much coalition-building that has gone into this,” Harrison said.

“All I said is we’ve got to find a way to find something that works,” Gardner responded. 

“The work is already done,” Harrison said.

Gardner wasn’t done waffling, however, later adding this: “To be clear, I do not oppose this bill.” Clear as mud, sir.

Ready? Here come the words!

Gardner is a caricature of himself at this point. Last week in Wheat Ridge, he answered questions about immigration, racism in politics, and gun violence with nonsense platitudes like, “I’m going to do what’s right for the people of Colorado,” and our personal favorite, “If we have an immigration policy that works, most Americans are going to agree with almost all of it.”

From gun violence to health care, Gardner mumbles out non-answer after non-answer. When he’s not taking credit for things he actually opposes, Gardner attempts weird subject changes in response to basic questions. For example, consider this answer to a question about whether Gardner supports Trump administration efforts to gut the Obama-era Clean Power Plan:

“I voted that climate change is real.”

Uh, okay. What in the hell does that even mean?

Gardner has been getting slammed for regularly ignoring constituents and reporters in Colorado. Now that he’s finally showing his face in his home state, he’s not doing himself any favors by prattling on like a mindless politician. It’s not a mystery why Gardner faces an uphill battle on his road to re-election in 2020.


Surprising Poll Results for Proposition CC, TABOR Refunds

The Colorado Sun reports on some surprising new polling data about Proposition CC and TABOR refunds in general:

A survey conducted by Republican firm Magellan Strategies found that 54% of likely 2019 general election voters intend to approve Proposition CC, while 30% said they were going to reject the question. And 15% said they were undecided. [Pols emphasis]

“You have to give the Democratic legislature and governor credit, because the language of the ballot question is very simple and very good,” said David Flaherty, who leads Louisville-based Magellan. “It’s not your typical ‘shall taxes be raised by $10 billion for transportation or roads?’ It’s a very simple ask and it doesn’t even mention TABOR.”

He pointed to the fact that 32% of Republicans said they intended to support the measure as proof of the well-written language by proponents, given that conservatives are typically fierce defenders of TABOR, Colorado’s complicated tax law limiting government growth and mandating that voters approve any tax hike.

Those polled were read the exact ballot language and then asked if they would support the measure when they vote in November.

The full polling memo from Magellan Strategies is available HERE.

Via Magellan Strategies

Proposition CC is a measure for the November 2019 ballot that was referred by the state legislature earlier this year. It essentially asks voters to allow the State of Colorado to attain excess revenue — for transportation and education funding — that would otherwise be returned to taxpayers in very small amounts under a formula established by the 1992 “Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights” (TABOR).

As anyone familiar with Colorado politics well knows, attempting to make any sort of changes to TABOR has typically been an arduous and often unsuccessful task. It is a huge surprise, then, that 54% of likely general election voters already support the idea of Proposition CC — particularly given that there is still no organized campaign promoting the measure. Republican opponents of Prop. CC have been out in force for months, with funding and support from groups like Americans for Prosperity and big-name fist-shakers such as Walker Stapleton and Heidi Ganahl leading the charge. In other words, Prop. CC is viewed favorably by voters despite the fact that nobody is telling them good things about the measure — and perhaps because there is active opposition from well-known Colorado Republicans.

So, what’s happening here? As Magellan Strategies notes, while 46% of respondents still view TABOR favorably, only 20% say that they are “very familiar” with the 1992 ballot measure. Those respondents who dislike Colorado’s funding restrictions are well-tuned to the anti-TABOR messaging:

“The primary reasons 36% of respondents have an unfavorable opinion of TABOR is the belief that the amendment has had a negative impact on adequate funding for public education, roads, transportation and other government services.”

It’s way too early to get too excited about these polling numbers if you support Prop. CC, but opinions on TABOR are clearly trending in a negative direction. Some of that is undoubtedly because many Colorado voters have no familiarity with TABOR after 27 years; Colorado’s recent blueward tendencies also play a significant role.

Should Prop. CC supporters manage to scrap together a semi-decent campaign this fall, we could be looking at a very interesting election night in November.


PPP: Hickenlooper 51%, Gardner 38%

UPDATE: As the New York Times reports, Hick is sure looking like a Senate candidate:

Former Gov. John Hickenlooper of Colorado is in discussions about ending his presidential bid and entering the race for his state’s Republican-held Senate seat, potentially giving Democrats a strong candidate in a race they must win to have hopes of retaking the chamber in 2021, according to four Democrats familiar with his thinking.

Mr. Hickenlooper, who is mired at the bottom of public polling of the presidential race, hopped into Senator Michael Bennet’s car on Friday night in this Northern Iowa town to discuss his impending decision, said Democrats familiar with the discussion, who, like others, spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe confidential talks.

The two drove around Clear Lake for about 20 minutes ahead of the Wing Ding dinner, a Democratic fund-raiser that drew 21 presidential candidates. Aides and advisers to the two men, who have been both allies and rivals over their careers in Colorado politics, declined to reveal what was discussed.


As the Denver Post’s Justin Wingerter reports:

“I think there’s one candidate who can beat Cory Gardner and send (Senate Majority Leader) Mitch McConnell into the minority and it’s John Hickenlooper,” said Josh Morrow, the 314 Action Fund’s executive director…

“I just see this as doing a greater service to the country,” Morrow said of running for Senate, “than running for president and being president.”

The 314 Action Fund also paid for a poll of 739 Colorado voters, conducted Aug. 8-11 by Public Policy Polling, that found Hickenlooper leading Gardner in a hypothetical head-to-head contest, 51% to 38%. The margin of error was 3.6%.

Former Gov. John Hickenlooper polling over the 50% threshold as a hypothetical candidate against incumbent Sen. Cory Gardner in this latest poll from Democratic-aligned Public Policy Polling only reinforces the psychological effect of yesterday’s poll showing Hickenlooper over 50% versus the next-best Democratic primary candidate at only 10% support. There’s just no way anyone else in the running today can compete with Gov. Hickenlooper’s overwhelmingly high name in-state name ID and popularity if he decides to get into the U.S. Senate race.

As for the other candidates, including one with a pre-existing relationship with 314 Action Fund as the Post reports today, this turn of events isn’t personal–though it is certainly disappointing to those hopefuls. There was always the possibility that a higher-order candidate would emerge, if not Hickenlooper than with member(s) of Congress whose names came and went. The path for Democrats to retaking the U.S. Senate in 2020 is exceedingly narrow and can afford to leave nothing to chance. That being the case, the best choice by far is the one that minimizes risks.

Every single indicator we have today says that’s John Hickenlooper.


Get More Smarter on Tuesday (August 13)

Enjoy your last day of summer vacation, Jefferson County students. 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/visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show or The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us Facebook and Twitter.


► Eight counties in Western Colorado are among the fastest-warming places in the entire country, according to data compiled by the Washington Post:

Over the past two decades, the 2 degrees Celsius number has emerged as a critical threshold for global warming. In the 2015 Paris accord, international leaders agreed that the world should act urgently to keep the Earth’s average temperature increases “well below” 2 degrees Celsius by the year 2100 to avoid a host of catastrophic changes…

…A Washington Post analysis of more than a century of National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration temperature data across the Lower 48 states and 3,107 counties has found that major areas are nearing or have already crossed the 2-degree Celsius mark.

— Today, more than 1 in 10 Americans — 34 million people — are living in rapidly heating regions, including New York City and Los Angeles. Seventy-one counties have already hit the 2-degree Celsius mark.

Montrose, Rio Blanco, Mesa, and Ouray counties are among the Top 10 most rapidly warming counties in the United States.


Colorado Public Radio follows up on a story we’ve been watching closely here at Colorado Pols: The real reason for moving the headquarters of the Bureau of Land Management to Colorado. From CPR:

Critics of the Trump administration’s decision to move the Bureau of Land Management headquarters to Grand Junction fear the real goal is to weaken the bureau.

These concerns and suspicions have only been heightened by recent statements and actions from administration leaders. Interior Secretary David Bernhardt appointed William Perry Pendley as acting BLM director. For years, Pendley advocated selling off the public lands of the agency he’s now leading…

…George Stone, with the Public Land Foundation, a nonprofit made up of many former BLM employees said there’s another saying in D.C.: “If you’re not at the table, you’re on the menu.”

He and many others fear BLM is the next dish to be served up, facing de-facto cuts and a marginalized position far from D.C. power players to advocate for its interests.


A “Draft Hick” movement is the next step in what is increasingly looking like an inevitable U.S. Senate campaign for former Gov. John Hickenlooper. Recent polling indicates that Hickenlooper holds a 51-point lead over the rest of the Democratic field should he join the race for the 2020 nomination.



Get even more smarter after the jump…



How Are Those Trump Tax Cuts Working Out For You?

Sen. Cory Gardner (R).

CNBC reports that they’re not working out so well for the nation’s bottom line:

The U.S. budget deficit widened another $119.7 billion, good for a 27% increase over a year ago, according to government figures released Monday.

Total outlays increased by 22.8% over last July as receipts grew 11.6%. For the year, receipts were up 3% in the October to July period, totaling $2.86 trillion, while expenditures were at $3.73 trillion, an 8% rise.

That brings the fiscal year deficit through July to $866.8 billion, a little over a year and a half after the Trump administration ushered through a $1.5 trillion tax cut that the White House has vowed would pay for itself. At this point last year, the deficit was $684 billion.

While it’s true that overall tax receipts are up with the strong economy we’ve enjoyed for most of the 2010s, the loss of the federal revenue growth that would have occurred were it not for the Trump tax cuts is directly responsible for a budget deficit headed over one trillion dollars this year–the inevitable result of tax cuts made with no offsetting cuts in spending. Spending cuts are the second act of the conservative “starve the beast” philosophy of deliberate fiscal crisis inducement–the part they don’t want to talk about while passing big tax cuts, but then in recent years has become too politically toxic to carry out as the harm those spending cuts would do to ordinary Americans is quantified.

Have voters seen this shell game played enough times to stop playing in 2020? We’ll have to see if repetition of this same tired tactic overcomes short attention spans. The one thing this situation cannot be called is fiscally responsible, and that’s the one thing Republicans are expected to be. Is it true that “deficits only matter when Democrats are in charge?”

If so, we can cut the proverbial crap.


Tuesday Open Thread

“Politics is the ability to foretell what is going to happen tomorrow, next week, next month and next year. And to have the ability afterwards to explain why it didn’t happen.”

–Winston Churchill


Background Checks for Gun Purchases: They Work

Clockwise from top: Dudley Brown, Sen. Cory Gardner, Wesley Gilreath


THIS is why Colorado is among the 13 states that have background checks for gun purchases. THIS is why Republicans in Congress need to pass background check legislation for the entire country.

As CBS4 Denver reports:

Wesley Gilreath, 29, is currently behind bars in Boulder on child pornography charges. His recent attempt to purchase a gun was rejected when a check was run.

A search warrant shows the FBI was looking into what Gilreath called “hunting guides” which had detailed information about area mosques and synagogues…

…The background check flagged Gilreath, who was committed to a mental institution in 2016.

Maybe Wesley Gilreath was trying to purchase a gun so that he could play a real-life version of “Duck Hunt” or because he worried about keeping coyotes away from his chickens. Maybe Gilreath wanted a gun so that he could kill innocent people. We don’t know what might have happened had Gilreath gotten his hands on a firearm, but we don’t need to know that outcome to understand that background checks served their purpose here. When you argue against any sort of gun control — which Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) has done recently — you are standing up for people like Wesley Gilreath. Period.

If you are serious about preventing gun violence, then you must be serious about keeping guns out of the hands of violent people. That’s what is happening in Colorado, As Karen Morfitt reports for CBS4 Denver:

While the percentage of denials hasn’t grown significantly since moving to a universal check in 2013, the addition of private seller checks means hundreds of gun purchases were stopped that may not have been otherwise.

President Trump said on Friday that he is “confident” that Congress will pass “meaningful” legislation implementing background checks for gun purchases. Trump has also indicated support for a federal “red flag” bill similar to what we have in Colorado. When Trump says “Congress” in this context, he is talking about Senate Republicans; the Democratic-led House of Representatives passed two background check bills back in February that the Republican-controlled Senate has refused to even discuss. As the Washington Post reported last week, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell “has shown no willingness to bring up the House background-checks bill, let alone call the Senate back to do so.” McConnell has since paid lip service to the idea of “red flag” legislation and/or background checks, but hardline gun groups and the Republicans they support remain opposed to any sort of common sense restrictions on firearms.

“I don’t support gun control.”

— Sen. Cory Gardner (August 6, 2019)

More than 90% of Americans support background checks for gun purchases, and this isn’t a new phenomenon; polls have consistently shown strong public support for background checks for years, and those numbers remain steady despite an ever-changing news cycle. Extremist groups like the Rocky Mountain Gun Owners (RMGO) insist on blanket, no-exception Second Amendment protections and threaten Primary challenges against any Republican who would dare support something like Colorado’s background check laws.

In the aftermath of mass shootings in Dayton, Ohio and El Paso, Texas, RMGO Executive Director Dudley Brown told the Denver Post that he and his national group, the National Association for Gun Rights, “will hold Trump and all other elected officials responsible for their gun control actions.”

On that we agree.


Poll: Hick Leads Dem Senate Pack By…51 Points

As the Denver Post’s Justin Wingerter reports, this is what a prohibitive favorite looks like:

Six hundred likely Democratic primary voters in the state were polled and 61% preferred Hickenlooper, compared to 10% for Mike Johnston and 8% for Andrew Romanoff. Fifteen percent were undecided and 6% favored Secretary of State Jena Griswold, who said Friday that she isn’t running in 2020.

The poll was conducted July 25-28 by the Garin-Hart-Yang Research Group, which has a B+ pollster rating from FiveThirtyEight. The poll was conducted on behalf of a national Democratic group involved in Senate races. It has a 4% margin of error…

“Governor Hickenlooper is personally popular among likely Democratic primary voters, with 77 percent of them saying they would have a favorable reaction if he decided to enter the Senate race,” wrote Democratic pollster Geoff Garin in a memo accompanying the poll. Nine percent of those surveyed would have an unfavorable reaction to Hickenlooper’s entry.

Garin-Hart-Yang Research Group counts among its clients the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee–and although Wingerter doesn’t say so explicitly it was almost certainly released with their blessing. What this poll tells us is that former Gov. John Hickenlooper remains very popular and (key point) well-known among Colorado Democrats, as well as unaffiliated voters who can now vote in Democratic primaries. Disaffection with Hickenlooper on the left side of the Democratic base doesn’t appear to be a major liability, which tells us that resentment has been siloed with hardcore activists and the general voting public simply considers Hickenlooper to be a moderate Democrat.

Numbers like these make a compelling case for Hickenlooper to enter the U.S. Senate race, and soon, in order to allow Democrats at all levels to lock in their own strategy around Hickenlooper and put an end to unproductive primary spending. Coming later than most candidates, this news is naturally not welcome to the other primary contenders–but just like Cory Gardner himself cleared his field in all but formality upon his late entry in 2014, Hickenlooper arithmetically outclasses his opposition in the Democratic Senate primary. He is better known and better equipped to mount the challenge than anyone else. If Hickenlooper declines to run, he’s not the only candidate who can beat the vulnerable incumbent–but he’s the candidate most likely to force national Republicans to conclude Cory Gardner’s seat can’t be saved.

At the end of the day, that surety is what Democrats need most.


Get More Smarter on Monday (August 12)

Today marks the second anniversary of the deadly white supremacist rallies in Charlottesville, Virginia. 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/visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show or The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us Facebook and Twitter.


► The Trump administration is pushing new restrictions targeting legal immigrants. From the Washington Post:

Legal immigrants who use public benefits — such as Medicaid, food stamps or housing assistance — could have a tougher time obtaining a green card or U.S. citizenship under a policy change announced Monday that is at the center of the Trump administration’s effort to reduce immigration.

The new policy for “Inadmissibility on Public Charge Grounds,” which appeared Monday on the Federal Register’s website and will take effect in two months, sets new standards for obtaining permanent residency and U.S. citizenship. The Trump administration has been seeking to limit those immigrants who might draw on taxpayer-funded benefits, such as many of those who have been fleeing Central America, while allowing more highly skilled and wealthy immigrants into the United States.

Wealth, education, age and English-language skills will take on greater importance in the process for obtaining a green card, as the change seeks to redefine what it means to be a “public charge,” as well as who is likely to be one under U.S. immigration law.


► If former Gov. John Hickenlooper drops his bid for President and instead decides to run for U.S. Senate, the road looks pretty smooth ahead. As the Denver Post reports, Hickenlooper would enter a crowded Democratic field of candidates as a heavy favorite to capture the nomination. 


It is entirely possible that people trying to recall State Sen. Brittany Pettersen believe that “State Senator” means Pettersen is a Senator for the entire state of Colorado. Either that, or they really have no idea where to find Lakewood.


► The latest episode of The Get More Smarter Podcast is now available for your listening pleasure. If you would rather read the transcript, here you go.



Get even more smarter after the jump…



Recallpalooza: Meet Herbie The Hate Bug!

Photos forwarded to us yesterday from the far western reaches of Jefferson County, at the intersection of US-285 and Pine Valley Road. In the 20 minutes or so our source observed there weren’t any drive-ups to sign petitions either to recall Gov. Jared Polis or the recently-announced “citizens-only voting” ballot measure being pushed in search of a problem by Republican hanger-on George Athanasopoulos.

Much like the Recall Polis “creeper van” we took note of a couple weeks ago, this roadside scene inspires something other than credibility. Would you give your personal information to these very fine people? Also:

Sen. Brittany Pettersen’s district is miles east of here, and that doesn’t bode well for their validity rate.

Cusp of victory, folks. Stay tuned!


Hard-Hitting Giffords Ad Wallops Gardner On Guns

Sen. Cory Gardner (R).

Roll Call’s Niels Lesniewski:

“Instead of making lesson plans, I’m making active-shooter plans.”

That’s what a woman identified as a Colorado schoolteacher named Jody says in a new issue ad campaign starting this weekend by the gun control advocacy group named for former Arizona Democratic Rep. Gabrielle Giffords. The group’s aim is to push Colorado Republican Sen. Cory Gardner to back a House-passed gun purchase background check bill…

Gardner and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell are the initial focus of what Giffords’ group says is going to approach a $750,000 advertising buy in support of gun safety legislation. Gardner is among the most vulnerable Republican Senate incumbents on the ballot in 2020, and McConnell also faces a battle for reelection.

In the past week since two deadly mass shootings in Texas and Ohio, the resurgent debate over gun safety legislation–most of which would consist of national editions of laws that are already on the books in Colorado with broad public support–Sen. Cory Gardner’s severe weakness on the issue has been front and center. Gardner, who received almost $4 million from the National Rifle Association during his career, was already on record opposing “red flag” laws to intervene in cases of mentally ill people in crisis with guns that President Donald Trump and a host of Republican lawmakers have voiced support for since last week’s shootings. And when confronted in Colorado this week about the issue, Gardner reiterated his opposition to “gun control” and his overriding concern of protecting constitutional rights versus public safety.

With Gardner now out of a limb even within much of his own party on guns, representing a state that has become a model for responding to and preventing the kinds of mass shooting tragedies that are dominating the headlines, politically this ad from Giffords PAC is extremely well-targeted and damaging. At this rate, Gardner is going to need every penny of those NRA millions to hold off the accountability 2020 has backlogged for him.