Trump and Businesses Accused of “Staggering Fraud”

Via The New York Times (9/21/22)

There were some pretty strong words today from New York Attorney General Letitia James in announcement about a lawsuit against former President Donald Trump.

As The New York Times reports:

Donald J. Trump, his family business and three of his children lied to lenders and insurers for more than a decade, according to the New York attorney general, Letitia James, who accused him of fraudulently overvaluing his assets by billions of dollars in a sprawling scheme. She is seeking to bar the Trumps from ever running a business in the state again.

Ms. James concluded in a sweeping lawsuit filed on Wednesday that Mr. Trump and his family business violated several state criminal laws and “plausibly” broke federal criminal laws as well. Her office, which in this case lacks authority to file criminal charges, referred the findings to federal prosecutors in Manhattan; it was not immediately clear whether the U.S. attorney would investigate.

The 220-page lawsuit, filed in New York State Supreme Court, lays out in new and startling detail how, according to Ms. James, Mr. Trump’s annual financial statements were a compendium of lies. The statements, yearly records that include the company’s estimated value of his holdings and debts, wildly inflated the worth of nearly every one of his marquee properties — from Mar-a-Lago in Florida to Trump Tower and 40 Wall Street in Manhattan, according to the lawsuit.

The company also routinely spurned the assessments of outside experts: After a bank ordered an appraisal that found 40 Wall Street was worth $200 million, the Trumps promptly valued it at well over twice that number. Overall, the lawsuit said that 11 of Mr. Trump’s annual financial statements included more than 200 false and misleading asset valuations.

Rep. Lauren Boebert (R) and the former occupant of the White House.

Meanwhile, Trump’s poll numbers in a hypothetical 2024 Presidential matchup are slipping among Republicans…but the Big Orange Guy is still the clear leader in the hypothetical clubhouse. From The Hill newspaper:

The Morning Consult-Politico survey released Wednesday found that 52 percent of Republican primary voters would support Trump, who is followed by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis with 19 percent. Former Vice President Mike Pence came in third with 8 percent, while all other candidates received support from 3 percent of primary voters or less.

Trump’s support among GOP voters is 5 points lower than the 57 percent support he received last month. That polling came shortly after the FBI conducted a search of Trump’s Mar-a-Lago property for classified and sensitive documents.

This is quite the conundrum for Republicans across the country and here in Colorado. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, whose political stunt sending migrants to Martha’s Vineyard continues to unravel, is trying to out-Trump Trump…to Trump’s dismay:

 

Maybe this will all turn out great for Republicans, but it’s really, really hard to see a happy ending at the end of this crap rainbow.

Boebert Finally Becoming Too Toxic?

Rep. Lauren Boebert (R).

We wrote yesterday morning about the cancellation without explanation of what would otherwise have been an epic convergence of two of the far right’s most iconic luminaries, former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and Colorado freshman GOP fountain of nuttery Rep. Lauren Boebert of Colorado, who were set to hold a joint fundraiser in Anchorage. The reason for the fundraiser being canceled wasn’t disclosed, but the Boebert Palin Victory PAC is still a thing that exists now. And we think everyone can agree it always should have existed.

Today in the Utica, New York Observer Dispatch, we read about the postponement of another event set to star Lauren Boebert–and this time it looks like a popular uprising may have been responsible:

The announcement of an appearance by U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert, whose national profile has been marked by controversy, at a Utica fundraiser in October sparked opposition on social media. The event has since been postponed, but organizers say they still plan to extend an invitation to Boebert after the 2022 election cycle.

Vincent Scalise, executive director of the Utica Center for Development, said he met Boebert while he was deployed with the Army National Guard to the U.S. Capitol following the Jan. 6 riot. While there, he took photos with all 100 senators and some members of the House, including Boebert, a Colorado Republican.

The congresswoman bought Chick-fil-A for troops on duty one night and the two became friends, he said.

“I ran into her while I was doing security,” Scalise said. “She was extremely nice to us and our troops.”

Considering Boebert’s role in helping incite the violence on January 6th, 2021, her rush afterwards to shower affection on National Guard troops who were deployed in the aftermath has always struck us as an example of Boebert audaciously returning to the scene of her own scandals in order to confound her critics. It’s difficult to imagine a soldier deployed to protect the Capitol after January 6th not knowing who Boebert is and what she did in the runup to the violence that day, but we’ll have to give this individual the benefit of the doubt.

Because either way, the people of Utica, New York surer than hell remembered:

The announcement that Boebert would speak at the fundraising gala at the Fort Schuyler club drew attention online. A Facebook post by the Utica Center for Development garnered a majority of angry reactions and some of the public shares of the post expressed outrage over her involvement. Comments on the post were limited by the page managers…

And subsequent to that, the gala for the Utica Center for Development starring Boebert was postponed. Boebert may draw adoring crowds at far-right conferences like CPAC, but if this experience is any guide, outside a thoroughly partisan political environment Boebert is basically useless for drawing anything but controversy. Boebert’s inherent divisiveness, which she has proudly made central to her public image, makes it inevitable that her mere appearance will overshadow the purpose of any event she’s invited to.

Enough that even Sarah Palin pulled the plug? We may never know, but now we know Boebert doesn’t play well in Utica. This could also explain Boebert’s notable absence from the Colorado GOP’s joint campaign touring around the state, and why her endorsement isn’t being sought or promoted by local Republican candidates.

If Adam Frisch does manage to pull off a Betsy Markey-style underdog win, few Republicans will truly mourn.

Doug Lamborn, Meet the Internet

Brick Tamland and Doug Lamborn (or vice-versa)

Longtime readers of Colorado Pols will remember one of our all-time favorite political quotes, courtesy of the late former Alaska Senator Ted Stevens.

Stevens was well known for his pet projects, including the infamous “bridge to nowhere,” but we’ll always hold a special place in our heart for this amazing explanation of the Internet he provided in 2006:

Ten movies streaming across that, that Internet, and what happens to your own personal Internet? I just the other day got… an Internet [email] was sent by my staff at 10 o’clock in the morning on Friday. I got it yesterday [Tuesday]. Why? Because it got tangled up with all these things going on the Internet commercially. […] They want to deliver vast amounts of information over the Internet. And again, the Internet is not something that you just dump something on. It’s not a big truck. It’s a series of tubes. [Pols emphasis] And if you don’t understand, those tubes can be filled and if they are filled, when you put your message in, it gets in line and it’s going to be delayed by anyone that puts into that tube enormous amounts of material, enormous amounts of material.

Stevens delivered this gem of an explanation in a Senate committee hearing on June 28, 2006. At this same time in Colorado, Republican Doug Lamborn was engaged in a heated 6-way battle for a vacant congressional seat in CO-05 in Colorado Springs (this was back when Colorado still held its Primary Elections in August). Lamborn would go on to win that race, and effectively a seat in Congress, by capturing all of 15,000 votes in the August Primary. He has held this seat ever since.

Lamborn is a political zombie, that strange type of politician who cannot be killed no matter the circumstances. He has survived multiple Primary and General Election challenges over the years; in June, he annihilated State Rep. Dave Williams in a Republican Primary (by 18 points!) despite the fact that Lamborn faces a lawsuit and ethics violations related to a bunch of problems in his office (including allowing his adult son to live in a storage closet in the basement of the U.S. Capitol).

Lamborn’s political survival is all the more remarkable considering a recent nugget unearthed by Colorado Public Radio reporter Caitlyn Kim:

 

It does appear to be possible to donate online to Lamborn’s campaign (theoretically, anyway — we didn’t actually try it), but you’d need to use a different payment processing service THAN ANY OTHER REPUBLICAN INCUMBENT IN THE COUNTRY.

Perhaps other Republicans are doing it wrong and should be following Lamborn’s lead, but we would imagine that you are more likely to raise money online if you use the same platform as all the other GOP candidates, since efforts are often made to direct donors in that direction. Of course, this assumes that Lamborn even WANTS money; he never seems to have any of it in his campaign coffers anyway.

Lamborn may not really understand the Internet, which is just one more thing to add to a long list of things that is beyond Lamborn’s ability to comprehend. In fairness, we also don’t understand how Lamborn has remained in Congress since 2007, so who are we to judge?

In the end, this is just one more nugget to add to the legend of Brick Tamland Doug Lamborn that historians will one day struggle to piece together.

The Get More Smarter Podcast: Governor Jared Polis

This week on the Get More Smarter Podcast, your hosts Jason Bane and Ian Silverii talk with Governor Jared Polis about the 2022 campaign, truth in advertising, executing an agenda during COVID, saving people money, and the best cut of meat of a cow: The brisket. We also ask Gov. Polis for his thoughts on the recent immigrant relocation stunt pushed by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.

Here’s Gov. Polis’s recipe for the perfect brisket rub:

♦ 1 cup brown sugar
♦ 1 tablespoon paprika
♦ 1 teaspoon black pepper
♦ 2 teaspoons salt
♦ 2 teaspoons ground mustard
♦ 2 teaspoons garlic powder
♦ ½ teaspoon cumin
♦ ½ teaspoon coriander
♦ 1 teaspoon rosemary (crumbled)

Rub the brisket and refrigerate for 12-24 hours before cooking. How long to cook it depends on how large a brisket you’ve got, but it’s usually around six hours at 250 in the oven.

About halfway through cooking, open the oven, flip over the brisket, and pour some Worcestershire sauce and/or ketchup on the brisket after flipping it over. Then cook it for the remaining time.

Listen to previous episodes of The Get More Smarter Podcast at GetMoreSmarter.com.

Questions? Comments? Complaints? Let us have it at AngryRants@getmoresmarter.com. Or send emails to jason@getmoresmarter.com or ian@getmoresmarter.com.

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

Send In Cory: Erik Aadland’s Worst Endorsement Yet

Ex-Sen. Cory Gardner (right).

Republican CD-7 congressional candidate Erik Aadland’s campaign, despite running in a race made somewhat more competitive by redistricting, entered what could be a terminal nosedive beginning in late August, when archived video of Aadland calling the 2020 elections “absolutely rigged” was conspicuously deleted from the Jefferson County GOP Men’s Club website. A couple of weeks later, 538.com reported on Aadland telling Republicans in the district more recently that “we have an illegitimate government in power,” but he can’t “talk about election integrity on and on and on because it’s not an issue that wins us this race.” Aadland has been endorsed by a variety of toxic far-right personalities like QAnon theorist Paul Vallely and local anti-immigrant firebrand Tom Tancredo–which is on the message Aadland has clearly chosen, but doesn’t help Aadland appear reasonable in a district that still favors Democrats (and therefore reality) based on previous results by several points.

So as the Colorado Springs Gazette’s Ernest Luning reports, Aadland is bringing in…a different kind of backup:

Republican congressional candidate Erik Aadland won a formal endorsement on Monday from former U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner, who called the Army veteran “exactly who we need to bridge the divides and fight for our values.”

A former project manager for an oil and gas company and first-time candidate from Pine, Aadland is running against state Sen. Brittany Pettersen, a Lakewood Democrat, in the open, Democratic-leaning 7th Congressional District, which covers Broomfield, most of Jefferson County and mountain counties stretching south past Cañon City…

Aadland said in a release that he will “strive to emulate” Gardner’s example, adding that he was “honored” and “humbled” to have his support. [Pols emphasis]

As readers know, the most recent “example” set by Cory Gardner was losing in 2020 to Sen. John Hickenlooper by just over 9 percent, 53.5-44.2%–by about 10 percent within the boundaries of the new CD-7. That’s a bit wider margin than the newly redrawn CD-7’s D+4 estimate from Cook Political. Aadland will therefore need to work a little harder to “emulate Gardner’s example”–but if there’s any Colorado Republican up to the challenge in 2022 of losing by a few more points than expected, it’s Erik Aadland.

Although we can perhaps see the value of Gardner’s endorsement during the primary phase of Aadland’s campaign, in the general election the blessing of a Senator who just went down in flames two years ago isn’t a blessing at all. It’s a curse, and even though Gardner may be slightly to the left of Tom Tancredo policywise, Gardner brings no voters to Aadland who wouldn’t vote the straight Republican ticket anyway. For swing voters able to remember the last election, which we hope is a fair number, Gardner is perhaps the worst possible surrogate for 2022 candidates who want to win.

But just like with Joe O’Dea, Gardner’s playbook seems to be all Colorado Republicans have left.

Bummer: The Most Obvious Fundraiser in America Cancelled

Sarah Palin and Lauren Boebert (probably)

Colorado Congressperson Lauren “Q*Bert” Boebert was scheduled to be in Anchorage, Alaska on Saturday to be the special guest at a fundraiser for GOP Congressional candidate Sarah Palin.

Boebert is often considered to be something like the off-brand version of Palin, the former Alaska Governor who somehow ended up being Republican Presidential candidate John McCain’s running mate in 2008. “Caribou Barbie” was the original Boebert without the benefit of social media; indeed, it’s fair to say that Boebert built much of her current shtick off of the image that Palin created for herself in the years following her disastrous run as the Republican nominee for Vice President.

Alas, Saturday’s event was apparently cancelled for reasons that were not provided. Perhaps Boebert and her team of political “strategists” realized that it was a bad look to travel all the way to Alaska in late September when she has her own re-election campaign to worry about. Or maybe the event organizers were concerned that putting both women in the same place would create a tear in the space-time continuum and open a portal to a new dimension. Whatever the reason for the cancellation, here’s the original invitation as proof that this event was at least theoretically going to happen at one point:

 

Motion To Dismiss History’s Silliest Campaign Finance Complaint

Colorado GOP chair Kristi Burton Brown.

Back in early August as the state ramped up to mail out “Colorado Cashback” refund checks to Colorado taxpayers–refunds mandated by the 1992 so-called “Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights,” reformulated to give lower-income taxpayers a substantial increase at the expense of wealthier taxpayers — former militia leader and current Republican Party chair Kristi Burton Brown filed a campaign finance complaint against Gov. Jared Polis. Colorado Public Radio’s Bente Birkeland reported at that time:

Governor Jared Polis and the Colorado GOP are tangling over a letter taxpayers will receive with their TABOR refund checks in the coming weeks; Republicans accuse Polis of using the communication to boost his reelection chances.

The letter, which Polis described to CPR as informative, comes with the governor’s signature at the bottom. On Thursday, Kristi Burton Brown, the executive director of the Colorado Republican party, filed a campaign finance complaint alleging it amounts to electioneering at the taxpayers’ expense.

“This letter blatantly misleads voters by refusing to say the word ‘TABOR’ or ‘Taxpayer Bill of Rights.’ Instead, the Governor uses his own campaign language of ‘Colorado Cashback,’ a phrase he coined during his campaign for re-election,” states Burton Brown in the complaint.

The complaint against Gov. Polis was heavily covered by local news media, earning stories  in the Colorado Sun, Colorado Newsline, the Denver Post, the Colorado Springs Gazette’s political blog, and KDVR FOX-31 among other outlets. Of all of these outlets, only Ernest Luning and Marianne Goodland of the Gazette looked critically at the substance of the complaint, finding the obvious problem without much difficulty:

The GOP’s complaint, filed with the Colorado Secretary of State’s Office…charges Polis with instead referring to the checks as part of the Colorado CashBack, alleging the phrase was “coined during his campaign for re-election,” though the phrase appears to have been first used by legislators when they introduced the bill to authorize the accelerated refund program. [Pols emphasis]

May 2022 Tweet from Rep. Lindsey Daugherty celebrating the Colorado Cashback refunds.

The complaint asserts without any justification that the term “Colorado Cashback” was created by Gov. Polis’ campaign, when that’s plainly not the case–lawmakers called the rejiggered TABOR refunds the “Colorado Cashback” plan when the legislation was debated last spring (Tweet right). This means the whole basis of Brown’s complaint is bogus–but that didn’t stop the local press from spending almost a week castigating Gov. Polis on the GOP’s behalf before any such determination could be made.

Well folks, today that determination was made by the Elections Division of the Colorado Secretary of State’s office–filing a motion to dismiss Brown’s complaint, finding “there is insufficient evidence to support a finding that Respondents violated Colorado campaign finance law.”

As it turns out, Brown never even tried to provide evidence to back up her contentions:

In support of her allegations, Complainant attached the July 7th letter and a portion of the fiscal note for SB 22-233 referencing the state expenditures related to the refund mechanism. Complainant did not explain why she believed the term “Colorado Cashback” was associated with Respondent Candidate’s campaign nor did she provide any evidence of the campaign using the term in the Complaint or in response to the Division’s request for information…

Complainant illustrated how Respondent Governor Polis did not embrace or use the term TABOR in association with SB 22-233 or the refund checks but presented no evidence that “Colorado Cashback” is campaign language, a campaign slogan, or a term that was coined by Respondent Candidate during his campaign, as alleged in the Complaint. [Pols emphasis]

The reason Brown couldn’t give the Elections Division any evidence that “Colorado Cashback” is a campaign slogan is that is clearly was not, having been used by lawmakers as far back as April to describe the one-time TABOR refund mechanism legislation Senate Bill 22-233. Republicans can seethe that Democrats neglected to mention the word “TABOR,” but there’s no law that says anyone ever had to. And as for the content of the letter to taxpayers accompanying the check?

[T]he plain language of the letter does not concern the nomination, retention, or election of any person to any public office, nor does it reference, let alone support or oppose, any state or local ballot measure. While Complainant alleges that letter supports the (re)election of Respondent Candidate to office, Complainant has failed to provide evidence that the letter is an electioneering communication not subject to the normal course and scope of business exemption. [Pols emphasis]

The flimsy factual basis of this complaint was apparent the day it was filed, and any competent campaign finance lawyer asked by any reporter inquiring would have told them this had zero chance of being upheld after a full review. That raises real questions about why the local press rushed to give this baseless complaint so much attention. For Republicans this is still on balance a misinformation victory handed to them by the media, since far fewer voters will hear that the story was debunked than saw the original reporting about the complaint.

All we can say is, hopefully the media’s attention continues even though Kristi Burton Brown doesn’t want it anymore. Every news outlet who reported about the original complaint now has an obligation to publicize its debunking just as vigorously.

In Which Joe O’Dea Claims to be Pro-Choice

Colorado Republican Senate candidate Joe O’Dea released a new television ad over the weekend that most politicians would be ashamed to have approved. The ad attempts to paint O’Dea as a “pro-choice” candidate, which is nothing short of a complete lie.

In the ad, which you can see below, O’Dea’s daughter, Tayler O’Dea, says, “My dad supports a woman’s right to choose.” The ad then cuts to Steve Kornacki of NBC News saying, “O’Dea is running as a pro-choice candidate” and Marshall Zelinger of 9News saying, “O’Dea…supports a woman’s right to choose early in pregnancy.”

 

We could discuss at length how this advertisement is completely false and goes against everything O’Dea has said about abortion rights. We could also point out that O’Dea’s campaign has regularly tried to claim that he is both pro-life AND pro-choice.

But the simplest way to explain why this ad is false is using O’Dea’s own words. You’ll notice that O’Dea himself never appears and says I am pro-choice, because he is not. And how do we know that Joe O’Dea is pro-life, and NOT pro-choice? Because Joe O’Dea said it himself in May:

 

Republicans know that the issue of abortion rights is a huge problem for them, particularly since the overturning of Roe v. Wade in June. Joe O’Dea probably can’t win an election in a heavily pro-choice state like Colorado by being “pro-life,” so O’Dea is now content to just lie about his position in order to curry favor with voters who haven’t been paying close attention to his words on the issue.

This is the worst kind of cynical politics. A candidate who would approve an ad like this has no business representing Coloradans in elected office.

Joe O’Dea Blows Meet The Press Lifeline

Mouth, insert foot. Repeat until defeated.

Over the past few weeks, GOP U.S. Senate candidate Joe O’Dea’s campaign has stumbled in a series of interviews and public appearances, denting Republican hopes that he could represent a viable fallback option among generally declining GOP prospects in the rapidly-approaching midterm elections. After an attempt in early August to put daylight between himself and ex-President Donald Trump ran aground as O’Dea clarified repeatedly that he would vote for Trump in the event Trump wins the 20224 GOP nomination, O’Dea took aim squarely at his own foot by announcing unbidden he had voted for 2020’s Proposition 115, a rejected abortion restriction measure that made a liar of O’Dea after claiming for months to “support Roe v. Wade.

In September, O’Dea compounded his problems, first by admitting to the AP that he didn’t consider “all the nuances” when he voted for Prop 115. This was followed just a few days later by an appearance on FOX 31 where O’Dea dodged the question about Proposition 115 saying “I don’t write that bill.” Then after all of that digging, O’Dea capped it off with with a historically cringeworthy interview with 9NEWS’ Kyle Clark, where O’Dea announced his quest to be the U.S. Senator who “brings balance to women’s rights.”

In the ten days since O’Dea’s self-immolation on 9NEWS, we’ve been watching for signs that O’Dea might be retooling his message to better withstand scrutiny–like substituting the word “bureaucrat” for “agent” when spreading misinformation about the IRS funding in the Inflation Reduction Act. But on NBC’s Meet the Press yesterday morning, O’Dea disabused us of the silly idea that he was learning valuable lessons from his stumbles in local media interviews.

CHUCK TODD: I’m curious, you voted for a ballot initiative that didn’t have [exceptions for rape, incest, or medical necessity]. As Dobbs been overturned, have you found yourself thinking about this issue a little bit differently?

JOE O’DEA: Well, look, it’s the center of attention in a lot of cases. And I’m exactly where I was when I started this campaign, haven’t changed. I didn’t write that bill. [Pols emphasis] But I believe that, you know, it should be a woman’s right in the first five months.

The great balancer of women’s rights has decided! Five months, ladies!

If you read closely, what Joe O’Dea is saying is that since his vote for Proposition 115 occurred before he launched his campaign for U.S. Senate, he has been “consistent”–since he started his campaign. That is Cory Gardner-level prevarication, but as usual O’Dea lacks the polished delivery that helped Gardner get away with such audacious deception. And just like it was to the local press, saying “I didn’t write that bill” is an intelligence-insulting defense of O’Dea’s vote for Proposition 115. O’Dea would show more character simply admitting he didn’t “look at the nuances” like he managed to one time–but that would only demonstrate that O’Dea’s credibility to bring “balance to women’s rights” is nonexistent.

Next up, O’Dea was asked about the recent political stunt by Republican governors to transport undocumented immigrants from the southern border to liberal northern cities, most recently last week when 50 immigrants were flown by Florida from Texas to Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts:

CHUCK TODD: One of the candidates you promoted is Ron DeSantis. Are you comfortable with the idea of using migrants as a political tool?

JOE O’DEA: Well, look, I think Ron DeSantis and Governor Abbott were right to bring some visibility to this issue… [Pols emphasis]

There’s growing evidence that after making political hay throughout the summer by busing undocumented immigrants to northern cities in political protest, this latest stunt of flying dozens of migrants to Martha’s Vineyard is backfiring politically on Florida Gov. Rick DeSantis. Dumping immigrants, sometimes reportedly under false pretenses of jobs and shelter waiting for them at journey’s end, is not a serious policy response to a serious issue–it’s just the cheapest of political grandstands, with no positive effect on either side of the debate. It’s not something any responsible politician should support.

O’Dea has expressed support for Gov. DeSantis already, but this is the first time we’ve seen O’Dea explicitly come out in favor of this highly controversial policy–and depending on how the story unfolds over the next few weeks, it could be a mistake O’Dea dearly regrets. The rest of this interview is notable mostly for how little O’Dea has improved his message after ample time to purge ridiculous statements like “I didn’t vote for that bill” from his script. That in turn only further highlights O’Dea’s silly semantic dishonesty about being consistent only since he started his campaign.

Joe O’Dea wasn’t ready for Denver market prime time, so we don’t know how he expected to do better on Meet The Press with the same message. For national Republicans deciding whether to throw more than lip service O’Dea’s way in 2022’s closing weeks, this was a performance that will close their wallets–in a place they are very likely to see it.

Was it Ken Buck proudly owning calling a rape case “buyer’s remorse” on MTP 12 years ago?

Longtime readers will debate that. But it was another terrible showing for O’Dea with time to change course quickly running out.

Weekend Open Thread

“In view of the fact that God limited the intelligence of man, it seems unfair that He did not also limit his stupidity.”

–Konrad Adenauer

Unleash the Idiocy: Heidi Ganahl Promotes Another Silly Plan

Republican Hiedi Heidi Ganahl has been an official candidate for Governor for more than a year now, but as we noted on Thursday, time has absolutely not sharpened Ganahl’s political instincts.

Yesterday, Ganahl stood in a field near the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) headquarters building to unveil — nay, UNLEASH — her plan for fixing Colorado’s roads. This was not so much a “plan” as it was a couple of bullet points about roads that Ganahl would like to see fixed.

Much like her “plan” for eliminating the income tax in Colorado and her “plan” to somehow invent new water sources, Ganahl continually demonstrates that she has barely thought about any of these important issues beyond whatever words she can fit into a Tweet condemning incumbent Democratic Gov. Jared Polis.

As Nathaniel Minor reports for Colorado Public Radio, Ganahl’s press event on Thursday was prototypically silly:

She said the plan would make personal vehicular travel a higher priority for the state Department of Transportation than it is currently under Democratic Gov. Jared Polis.

“Jared Polis is stealing one of our basic freedoms,” Ganahl said at a press conference near CDOT headquarters in Denver. “Driving gives you the freedom to go where you want, when you want.”…

In reality, while Polis has supported significant funding boosts for electric vehicles, public transportation (except for RTD), and other climate-friendly transportation efforts, his Department of Transportation is in the middle of its own decade-long plan to spend billions of dollars on roads — including expansion projects. [Pols emphasis]

D’Oh!

Ganahl has repeatedly said that she wants to eliminate Colorado’s income tax and cut the gas tax in half, proposals that would eliminate some $10 billion from Colorado’s budget. Ganahl has acknowledged that she literally HAS NO ACTUAL PROPOSAL for how this would even work or what Colorado would do to replace one-third of its budget. Ganahl’s campaign spokesperson says only, “We have a policy team working on it.”

Ganahl says her transportation plan would cost about $10 billion. Between this proposal and her income tax/gas tax reductions, Ganahl has already allocated two-thirds of the entire state budget. Reality has never been Ganahl’s strong suit as a politician.

We’re kinda surprised that Ganahl didn’t just promise to drive every Coloradan herself.

So how would Ganahl fund her transportation priorities other than relying on magic fairy dust? The very first bullet point in Ganahl’s transportation plan is this: “Will not raise taxes.” It’s a fun thing to say, but it doesn’t really track with her actual proposal. From CPR:

At the heart of Ganahl’s $10 billion transportation plan is a ballot initiative that would be voted on in 2024. The measure would ask voters to repeal the 2021 transportation bill and its related fees on things like deliveries, ride-sharing services and gasoline and replace that revenue with new taxes that would mirror the fees.

“I’m taking this plan to the voters to get approval, and we will call them taxes as they are,” she said. “That’s the key, it’s just being honest and authentic and transparent with the people of Colorado.”

The transportation taxes in Ganahl’s proposal differ from the fees in the Polis-backed 2021 bill in a few important ways. First, the taxes would be temporary, sunsetting in 10 years. Second, there are significant restrictions on how fee revenue can be spent. Ganahl could more easily shift spending to road projects if the revenue came from taxes. Third, the taxes would be voter-approved. The fees in the 2021 transportation package did not require voter approval because of the way the law was written.

And what happens if Colorado voters turn her down?

“It’ll pass, don’t worry,” Ganahl said of her proposed ballot initiative. She did not say what her contingency plan would be if it failed. [Pols emphasis]

In fairness to Ganahl, you can’t expect her to have a “contingency plan” when she doesn’t have a serious plan in the first place. In order to have a “Plan B,” you kinda need a “Plan A.”

And what about the rest of the money needed to fix all of these roads?

Ganahl’s plan would also rely on $3 billion in public-private partnerships and $3.5 billion in state general fund allocations. She said she was “confident” the legislature could find that money despite her plans to eliminate the state income tax. [Pols emphasis]

“If the people of Colorado are going to approve the funding from the voters, the general assembly must meet the people halfway,” she said.

Flying DeLorean not included

If Ganahl is just going to rely on all of these theoretical things taking place one after another, she might as well promise to just build a bunch of new highway lanes throughout the Denver Metro area. Which, of course, she did!

Ganahl embraces toll lanes, which have been standard practice for CDOT for years. Her plan calls for continuous toll lanes from Castle Rock to Fort Collins, which would require widening Interstate 25 through the south side of the metro all the way to downtown. CDOT and the Denver Regional Council of Governments just backed away from a planned expansion for part of that stretch of highway.

Really, the only thing missing from Ganahl’s transportation proposal is a pledge to make sure that every Coloradan has a flying car by 2024.

Colorado Public Radio noted that Ganahl’s transportation plan was actually very similar to what Gov. Polis has proposed. As Colorado Democratic Party spokesperson Kailee Stiles said, “Heidi’s first plan is more like a wishlist…of things the Governor is already doing.”

Heidi Ganahl is not a serious person, let alone a serious candidate. She is the most ill-prepared and uninformed candidate for public office that Colorado has seen since Dan Maes was earning 11% of the vote as the GOP nominee for Governor in 2010.

Joe O’Dea’s “MAGA Republican” Journey

Wait, this isn’t a circle!

Republican Senate candidate Joe O’Dea has a lot of positions on a handful of important issues — many of which he squares into the shape of a circle over time.

O’Dea’s penchant for massaging his own beliefs has been most apparent on the issue of abortion rights. His waffling on this issue has become so well-known among political journalists that he was recently used as a cautionary tale in an episode of the national NPR Politics Podcast during a discussion about Ohio Republican Senate candidate J.D. Vance:

As NPR Political Correspondent Danielle Kurtzleben explained:

[Joe] O’Dea has some sort of inconsistencies [on abortion rights] which Democrats are focusing in on as a big issue in the race.

O’Dea can perhaps explain these “inconsistencies” in person to Vance, who he will be seeing a lot this week as both participate in a couple of “MAGA Republican” fundraising events. O’Dea was among the attendees at a fundraiser for Republican Senate candidates in Miami, Florida on Thursday evening that was hosted by a cringeworthy group of big GOP donors. O’Dea will spend the rest of the weekend at Sea Island in Georgia, where the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) is putting on a two-day retreat that includes a golf tournament and clay shooting for the #HorseSushi type of crowd.

 

For a guy who has tried hard to distance himself from his past support for former President Donald Trump and other “MAGA Republican” election deniers, it’s remarkable how often O’Dea keeps appearing with these very same people at Republican events — whether in Colorado or across the country.

Given the company that O’Dea is keeping this weekend — including the likes of Vance and Arizona Senate hopeful Blake Masters — it’s worth taking another look at how O’Dea’s public comments about “MAGA Republicans” and the Jan. 6, 2021 insurrection have changed over a relatively short period of time…

 

Just a Rally (February 2022)

“That’s a rally in my opinion.”

     — Joe O’Dea on the Jan. 6 insurrection (Feb. 2022)

During a Republican Senate candidate forum in Evergreen, Colorado, O’Dea expressed a remarkably strange opinion about the insurrection that does not track with his efforts to portray himself as more mainstream Republican candidate. As the Colorado Times Recorder reports:

While O’Dea has consistently said Republicans should move on from the 2020 election and focus on future elections, he said he had friends at the Jan. 6 riot and preferred to call it a “rally” instead of an insurrection while answering a question at a February candidate forum in Evergreen.

“I had friends that were out at January 6, they went nowhere near the building,” O’Dea said. “That’s a rally in my opinion.” [Pols emphasis]

This is a completely ridiculous thing to say, of course, which is probably why O’Dea has been walking it back over time.

 

No Blame for Trump (June 2022)

“No.”

     — Joe O’Dea on whether former President Trump deserves any blame for the Jan. 6 insurrection (June 2022)

During a final pre-Primary candidate forum hosted by The Colorado Sun and CBS4 Denver, O’Dea said that he would support Trump if he were the Republican

nominee for President in 2024 and agreed with then-opponent Ron Hanks that Trump was not to blame for the Jan. 6, 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol. From The Colorado Sun:

Both candidates said Trump does not deserve blame — even in part — for the events that unfolded on Jan. 6. 

Hearings? What Hearings? (July 2022)

A few weeks later, the newly-minted Republican nominee for U.S. Senate in Colorado told FOX News that he wasn’t paying any attention to revelations coming out of the Jan. 6 House Committee hearings. Left unsaid was that he hoped no Colorado voters were paying attention, either.

 

Still Backing Trump (August 2022)

Following the FBI’s raid on Mar-a-Lago in search of classified documents illegally-held by Trump, O’Dea confirmed to 9News that he would still support Trump for President in 2024.

Later in August, O’Dea would say publicly — TWICE — that the raid on Mar-a-Lago was a “political stunt.” As more information emerged about the reasoning behind the Mar-a-Lago raid, O’Dea’s comments began to look increasingly terrible. Let the backtracking begin (again)!

 

Perhaps I Misheard Myself… (September 2022)

“I’ve said that [Trump] does bear some blame.”

     — Joe O’Dea on the Jan. 6 insurrection (Sept. 2022)

In his first campaign interview with 9News, O’Dea claimed that he does NOT believe that Trump is blameless related to the Jan. 6 insurrection. Unless you skipped all of the other words above this point, you are well aware that this is NOT what O’Dea said just a few months ago.

Here’s that full exchange:

KYLE CLARK: Okay. Okay. You’ve said that President Trump doesn’t deserve any blame for the January 6 attacks. You don’t think that he egged on those people to do what they did.

JOE O’DEA: I’ve said that he does bear some blame. And I’ve also said it’s a black eye on the country. And I believe he could have done a lot more to dissuade that crowd, three and a half hours to come out and say stop, that’s too long, he should have used his position to stop that immediately. I don’t believe in violence. Anybody that was violent that day deserves to be accountable, just like through all the protests.

 

In this same interview, O’Dea generally tries avoiding the topic of Trump and “MAGA Republicans” altogether:

 

Miami and Sea Island (September 2022)

The “MAGA Republican” circle is complete…

Via the Colorado Times Recorder (9/15/22)

 

Another Classy Moment With MTG And Lauren Boebert

Reps. Lauren Boebert, Marjorie Taylor Greene (R).

As the Washington Post’s Mariana Alfaro and Jacob Bogage report, on the street near the U.S. Capitol yesterday, activists from a youth voter organizing group Voters of Tomorrow caught up with Congress’ “Q-some Twosome,” Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia and Lauren Boebert of Colorado. It’s not an uncommon occurrence for politicians on the street in D.C. to encounter what’s known in the campaign business as “bird dogging,” but this particular incident became newsworthy after both members of Congress reportedly physically attacked the activists trying to ask them unwanted questions:

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) appeared to kick an unarmed demonstrator during a confrontation outside the Capitol on Thursday afternoon.

Videos posted to Twitter by Greene and the Gen Z activist group Voters of Tomorrow show Greene leaving a news conference while being questioned by activists about gun violence. As Greene approaches a crosswalk, she appears to kick one of the activists, who was walking in front of her.

Pretty hard to defend what sure looks to us like MTG rushing ahead to position herself for an unprovoked old-fashioned schoolyard ankle kick, which in the adult world is known as misdemeanor battery, punishable under Washington, D.C. law by up to six months in the clink. As for Colorado’s own walking talking cornucopia of controversy Rep. Boebert? We haven’t seen the video yet, but what the Post describes could also be considered battery under D.C. law:

As the legislators left the event, Santiago Mayer, the 20-year-old founder of Voters of Tomorrow, approached Greene and Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.), another member of the caucus, asking to take a photo and claiming to be a “big fan,” a Washington Post reporter at the event observed.

But both members quickly recognized Mayer as an activist. Boebert pushed Mayor’s smartphone away and quickly exited. [Pols emphasis] Greene instead jousted with the group of activists — and accused Mayer of abusing children…

Again, battery assault is defined under the law as any unwanted intentional touching of a person, and that most certainly includes knocking away someone’s cell phone who happens to be legally recording a video of you. Boebert was wise to leave the scene instead of joining MTG in her smearing and ultimately physically attacking these activists, but the moment she put her hands on this kid’s cell phone the damage–that is, the crime–was arguably done.

The latest report this morning indicates that the activist kicked by MTG is pursuing legal action. We’ll be watching to see if an investigation ensues that could hold Boebert accountable for her behavior as well. In the meantime, much like Boebert’s longsuffering neighbors in Silt, the best we can recommend is to keep a safe distance–and if your values compel you to confront these very fine people in person, be aware of the personal safety risk.

Friday Open Thread

“It is an easy thing for one whose foot is on the outside of calamity to give advice and to rebuke the sufferer.”

–Aeschylus

Kellner Killshot? GOP Ex-AG Cynthia Coffman Endorses Weiser

Ernest Luning of the Colorado Springs Gazette’s political blog breaks some major news today with the endorsement of Democratic incumbent Attorney General Phil Weiser by his Republican predecessor in the office, Cynthia Coffman:

“Phil Weiser understands and honors the office he has held the last four years,” Coffman said in a statement. “He is respected among his fellow attorneys general as a collaborative leader who hasn’t been drawn into base partisan battles that threaten pragmatic problem solving. He is an influential voice in the national attorney general community because he is an independent thinker not susceptible to the sway of special interest groups.

“As General Weiser’s predecessor in the job, I have been pleased by his continuation of impactful initiatives in school safety, domestic violence and sexual assault prevention, substance abuse treatment, and childhood sexual abuse recovery.”

Added Coffman: “Naturally, we do not see eye-to-eye on every policy issue or legal position, but Phil Weiser has earned my professional respect and personal support. General Weiser deserves another four years in service as Colorado’s Attorney General.”

AG Phil Weiser (D), former AG Cynthia Coffman (R).

As readers know the message campaign against Attorney General Weiser has been particularly nasty, seeking to pin blame on Weiser personally for a host of social problems that are much larger than any one state or in any case not the fault of Weiser in any respect. For Weiser’s Republican predecessor in the job to endorse his re-election seriously undermines the acrimony directed against Weiser. It becomes much harder to sell the idea that Weiser wants to hand out fentanyl pills to children via a network of stolen cars after the Republican who held the office before Weiser has endorsed his re-election.

[Coffman] joins a slew of current and former Republican officials who endorsed Weiser last week, including former Colorado House Speaker Russ George, former Colorado Supreme Court Justice Rebecca Love Kourlis and former Westminster Mayor Herb Acheson.

We’re not completely sure what caused this shift, but judicially-focused Republicans like Cynthia Coffman and former Colorado Supreme Court Justice Rebecca Love Kourlis lining up in opposition is a very serious problem for Republican AG candidate John Kellner. For voters doing their homework down the ballot, it’s a big red flag that something’s not right with Kellner–whether it be the ethics and campaign finance questions he’s persistently faced, or self-immolating answers to questions about reproductive rights. These are politically lucid Republicans who would support the Republican candidate for attorney general–unless there’s a very good reason not to.

And it looks like there is. Their judgment discredits Kellner the way little else can.

“Dark Brandon” Makes The Trains Run On Time

Engineer Dark Brandon.

CNN reports on another big win for President Joe Biden with crucial midterm elections right around the corner–an announced tentative deal averting what would have been an economically catastrophic nationwide railroad worker strike:

President Joe Biden proclaimed a huge win for rail workers and organized labor Thursday after his administration brokered a tentative deal with freight bosses on long-sought improvements in working conditions and averted a potentially disastrous strike…

[Biden’s] intervention — including calls with union leaders and bosses in the critical run-up to the deal on Wednesday night — helped lift the threat of a dispute that could have had serious consequences for the economy and still-roaring inflation after talks, led by his Labor Secretary Marty Walsh, lasted all through Wednesday and into the middle of the night on Thursday.

The agreement in principle was a validation of Biden’s support for unions, a politically significant factor given the movement’s role supporting Democrats in November’s midterm elections. But it also averted a prolonged shutdown of freight rail that could have hammered the economy and hurt the President and his party politically and exposed him to Republican criticism.

A railroad strike would have tremendously compounded supply chain issues that have plagued the economy since the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, and shut down both long-distance Amtrak rail lines running through Colorado. Union rail workers won a big raise retroactive to 2020 and other important concessions that reflect the industry’s massive profits reaped during the last few years.

Stacking this latest win on a growing pile of tangible victories for Democrats to campaign on in the rapidly approaching midterm elections, a dramatic improvement in public approval for President Biden supplies fresh hope that the traditional curse of being the party in power during a midterm election could break (or at least retreat) in 2022:

Support for Biden recovered from a low of 36% in July to 45%, driven in large part by a rebound in support from Democrats just two months before the November midterm elections. During a few bleak summer months when gasoline prices peaked and lawmakers appeared deadlocked, the Democrats faced the possibility of blowout losses against Republicans.

Their outlook appears better after notching a string of legislative successes that left more Americans ready to judge the Democratic president on his preferred terms: “Don’t compare me to the Almighty. Compare me to the alternative.”

Like Vince Lombardi famously said, “winning is habit.” The change in fortunes for Democrats, and not a moment too soon, is undeniable.

Throwback Thursday: Ganahl Launches Campaign for Governor

As Kyle Clark of 9News reminds us today via Twitter, we have reached the one year anniversary of the (first) launch of Republican Hiedi Heidi Ganahl’s campaign for Governor (Sept. 14 is the official anniversary):

Ganahl has actually “launched” her campaign for Governor more than once, which is as stupid as it sounds, but shit officially started rolling downhill shortly after her initial announcement on Sept. 14, 2021. Despite having spent more than a year prepping for a gubernatorial run, Ganahl’s campaign was a mess from the jump; as an example, the “issues” page of her website was still Latin text filler (“Lorem Ipsum“) for weeks after her announcement.

Within a month of her campaign kickoff, Ganahl had already fired her campaign manager, which was another preview of things to come; you would need more than one hand to count the number of people who have theoretically been in charge of the Ganahl campaign in the last 12 months.

As we wrote in December 2021:

Ganahl’s campaign launch began with a bungled effort at generating suspense in advance of a formal announcement in an ominous location. Once things got going, Ganahl proved completely unprepared to answer even basic questions from reporters and struggled to elaborate on a nonexistent platform of ideas. Ganahl’s campaign ended up cutting its 2-week statewide tour in half when it became clear that nobody, anywhere, wanted to listen to her speak.

Ganahl’s gubernatorial kickoff was legitimately one of the saddest efforts we’ve seen in recent Colorado political history. Before the month was out, multiple REPUBLICAN political experts were publicly acknowledging that her campaign would have to improve just to reach “dumpster fire” status.

And then things GOT WORSE.

In fact, it’s fair to say that since launching her campaign for Governor (the first time), every subsequent day for Heidi Ganahl has been worse than the one that came before.
 

 

Unfortunately for Ganahl, she still has two more months of misery ahead of her. The Ganahl campaign has no message, no tangible policy ideas, very little money, and no hope of national support. Her attacks on Democratic Gov. Jared Polis have been just plain silly (and often embarrassing). Ganahl is doing so poorly that her campaign can’t even manufacture a poll showing her ahead of Polis even after respondents are subjected to a battery of negative information about the incumbent.

Oh, and the next General Election television ad you see featuring Ganahl…will also be the first General Election ad featuring Ganahl.

Five weeks from today, Colorado voters will have started to return their mail ballots for the 2022 General Election. Three weeks later, Ganahl will finally be able to stop pretending that anybody wants to “Meat Heidi” at the State Capitol. The only suspense remaining? Whether or not Ganahl will capture the mythical title of “worst major candidate in Colorado history.”

Happy “Throwback Thursday”! If Ganahl could go back in time and do it all over again, we’re fairly confident that she would not do this again.

Thursday Open Thread

“The more one listens to ordinary conversations the more apparent it becomes that the reasoning faculties of the brain take little part in the direction of the vocal organs.”

–Edgar Rice Burroughs

Erik Aadland’s Own Dumb Words Return to Haunt Him

Erik Aadland, galaxy brain thinker.

This has not been a great week for Republican Erik Aadland in his largely-invisible campaign for Congress in CO-07.

As we wrote on Tuesday, there does not appear to be any national Republican money coming to help Aadland in his bid to defeat Democrat Brittany Pettersen.

As 538.com reports today, Aadland isn’t responding to multiple requests for comment after a new audio clip emerged in which he talks about 2020 election fraud as recently as three months ago:

[Aadland] told members of the Mountain Republicans Club on June 21 that he was concerned by how the 2020 elections were “undermined by fraud, how they were corrupted, and now how we have an illegitimate government in power.”…

…Many candidates, like Aadland, may now be hesitant to say the 2020 election was fraudulent out of fear that it could cost them at the polls. The voice purported to be Aadland’s admitted in that leaked audio to being strategic in how he talks about the 2020 election, saying, “I don’t always use this kind of language on the campaign trail because I am so deliberate with what I say, because the consequences of not winning are so significant. So I am strategic. I don’t go out and talk about election integrity on and on and on because it’s not an issue that wins us this race.” [Pols emphasis]

This is really the worst part about Aadland’s comments. It’s disqualifying in itself for a candidate to be a full-fledged election denier. It’s another thing entirely when that candidate openly admits to hiding his true beliefs in order to fool voters into selecting him on their ballot.

“I am strategic. I don’t go out and talk about election integrity on and on and on because it’s not an issue that wins us this race.”

     — Republican Congressional candidate Erik Aadland

As 538.com notes, Aadland has long taken pains to change his public response on the election integrity question:

In June 2021, he told the Jefferson County Men’s Club, “The 2020 election, it was rigged. Absolutely rigged.” But in December of that year, he switched to running for the House, and somewhere along the way, he started to backpedal. In April 2022, he danced around the question on conservative talk radio, ultimately answering, “I’m certain there was fraud in the 2020 elections. I have a sense that it influenced the outcome. Can I say definitively? No.” (This was enough for us to reclassify him as “raised questions” and not “fully denied” in our tracker of Republicans’ stances on the 2020 election.) And in August 2022 — after the Colorado primary — a reporter for Colorado Newsline noticed that the Jefferson County Men’s Club had taken down the video with Aadland’s previous, more extreme comments.

This new revelation has prompted 538.com to include Aadland under the category of “Fully Denied” in its national database of candidates who believe in some amount of election fraud related to 2020.

At this rate “fully denied” will also be the result Aadland receives on Election Night.

First Time Doug Lamborn Has Ever Cared About Saving Energy

Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-eefer Madness).

A conservative Georgia news outlet calling itself Georgia Virtue reports on a letter sent this week by Rep. Buddy Carter, co-authored by Colorado’s own Rep. Doug Lamborn, cautioning that the legalization of marijuana could pose “a threat to the U.S. energy grid.”

A Congressman from Georgia spearheaded the initiative to pen a letter to the Biden administration this week, joined by a colleague who says that nationwide marijuana legalization poses a threat to the nation’s energy grid.

Rep. Buddy Carter, a pharmacist from Georgia’s 1st congressional district, wrote the letter with Rep. Doug Lamborn of Colorado. The duo argued that there are “serious concerns regarding the energy and resource-intensive nature of marijuana cultivation.” The letter also said the practice would pose a threat to the nation’s environmental goals.

Addressed to Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm, Interior Secretary Deb Haaland, Energy Information Administration Administrator Joseph DeCarolis, and Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Michael Regan, the letter calls for more research, noting that “marijuana cultivation alone accounts for 1% of nationwide energy consumption and uses twice as much water as maize, soybeans, wheat, and wine grapes.”

It’s one of the more unusual angles we’ve seen “nationwide marijuana legalization” attacked from, a misleading premise to begin with since there is no proposal today to federally legalize marijuana–only to allow states to do so if they choose, which some number will choose not to. Either way you don’t hear Lamborn complaining about the massive amounts of electrical power consumed by cryptocurrency mining, in which just the seven biggest mining companies consume enough electricity to power all the homes in the nation’s fourth-largest city of Houston. But when it comes to resources consumed to produce marijuana, Rep. Lamborn suddenly becomes a born-again treehugging environmentalist!

As Congress debates whether to advance marijuana legalization, the American people must have a better understanding of the environmental costs of this rapidly growing industry. If the Administration seeks to reduce emissions and protect our environment as aggressively as it has previously committed, [Pols emphasis] we must have a comprehensive view of where emissions and other pollution occurs, as they will likely only grow.

So does this mean that Rep. Doug Lamborn supports the Biden administration’s agenda “to reduce emissions and protect our environment as aggressively as it has previously committed?” Given how Lamborn trashed the historic climate provisions in the Inflation Reduction Act, we’re guessing not. The best we can conclude from his record is that Doug Lamborn only cares about protecting the environment from marijuana.

There are a lot of very good reasons to upgrade the nation’s power grid, with growing marijuana far down the list. A future of electric cars parked in every all-electric heated home makes the power used for growing legalized marijuana an afterthought.

And it’s a future we’ll have to achieve without Doug Lamborn’s help.

Republicans Admit They’re Stuck In Cory Gardner’s Failed Groove

Cory Gardner, Joe O’Dea.

Axios’ John Frank, who wrote an in-depth story for the Colorado Sun about the “Cardboard Cory” grassroots campaign that helped unseat one-term wonder GOP Sen. Cory Gardner in 2020, is back today with a fresh look at 2022 GOP U.S. Senate candidate Joe O’Dea’s attempt to run in a similar lane as Gardner’s narrowly successful 2014 election–and why Democrats in 2022 believe they have the formula to overcome the tactics that worked for Gardner in 2014:

Eight years ago, Republican U.S. Senate candidate Cory Gardner pitched himself as a folksy outsider and hardworking moderate, drawing national praise and independent support on his path to unseating a Democratic incumbent in a midterm election.

Flash-forward: This year, Republican Joe O’Dea is charting a similar course. He casts himself as a moderate and “not a politician,” luring national attention and money in his bid to upset Democratic U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet.

But this time, Democrats are ready for him. [Pols emphasis]

In a state that has been trending steadily leftward as a result of migration from coastal states and urbanization of the Front Range corridor, we’ve written a great deal in this space about how Republicans have attempted to cope with this seemingly inexorable demographic shift away from any possibility of a majority coalition. With the Republican Party’s local brand suffering badly from the party’s march rightward nationally, first in reaction to Barack Obama and then in support of Donald Trump, Republican candidates seeking to win statewide have generally been forced to downplay or even pay lip service to opposing their own national party’s agenda.

That’s exactly what Cory Gardner did in his successful 2014 campaign, shamelessly reinventing his position on key issues like abortion and then daring his opponents to make an issue of it. Once Mark Udall did so, Gardner convinced the media that Udall was “obsessed” with the issue rather than addressing the substance of Udall’s criticism.

What’s missing in 2022 is evidence that this counter-brand strategy is working for Joe O’Dea:

The impact: Democrats’ moves have forced O’Dea to answer tough questions and clarify his stance on multiple issues. On abortion, he’s tried to appeal to both sides of the debate, and said he would bring “balance to women’s rights.”

Cory Gardner enraged his opponents (and reporters) with has unflappable evasions when confronted by issues he didn’t want to address. For all of Gardner’s faults, he would never have allowed a statement as self-destructive as Odea’s vow to bring “balance to women’s rights” to pass his lips. Since the Supreme Court decision just before the June 28th primary overturning Roe v. Wade, O’Dea has stumbled repeatedly on the issue of abortion rights by voluntarily taking ownership of Proposition 115, the 2020 abortion restriction measure, and then awkwardly walking back that support by claiming he didn’t “look at all the nuances” and more recently “I didn’t write that bill.”

It’s not just the political neophyte O’Dea’s inability to manage his own message, but also how the experience of Gardner has made voters wary in a way they were not in 2014. Gardner succeeded in a naive political climate in which conventional wisdom had been lulled into complacency by the presumption that issues like abortion rights were “settled” to a degree that not even a conservative Supreme Court would be able to roll them back. For years before and after Gardner’s 2014 election, the increasingly dire warnings from abortion rights activists that the unthinkable was playing out were ignored. By the fall of 2020, Cory Gardner’s votes to transform the Supreme Court into a body fully capable of repealing Roe had proven all of his defenders wrong (Gardner went on to lose by nearly 10 points to Democrat John Hickenlooper).

But for some reason, even Republicans are repeating this narrative. Here’s GOP “strategist” Matt Connelly being quoted by Axios:

“When you have someone like Cory or O’Dea, they were very successful in making their brand one of a Washington, D.C., outsider.”

Gah!

Anyway, 2022 will not be a reprise of 2014, even if Republicans use the same playbook. The times have changed, and O’Dea hasn’t lived up to his billing as a candidate who can separate himself from the toxic Republican brand.

Joe O’Dea 2022 is the box-office bomb sequel to Cory Gardner 2014.