Wildfire Recovery Act Passes, No Thanks to Boebert and Buck

Reps. Lauren Boebert and Ken Buck

Congressman Joe Neguse (D-Boulderish) celebrated the passage on Tuesday of legislation intended to help communities recover from devastating wildfires.

Via press release from Neguse’s office:

Congressman Joe Neguse and Congressman John Curtis (R-UT), Co-Chairs and Founders of the Bipartisan Wildfire Caucus, announced that the House of Representatives passed their legislation to help ensure impacted communities have the resources they need to recover from devastating wildfires. The bipartisan Wildfire Recovery Act would increase flexibility in the federal cost share for Fire Management Assistance Grants (FMAG) to bring in additional resources for communities as they rebuild from wildfire damage. [Pols emphasis] The bill is sponsored by California Senator Alex Padilla in the U.S. Senate.

“Coloradans have been impacted by multiple natural disasters in recent years, from the devastating wildfire season in 2020 to the record-breaking Marshall Fire just this past year. For them and for all the communities across this country impacted by wildfires, floods, and more, we must ensure full and adequate federal support for recovery,” said Congressman Joe Neguse. “The Wildfire Recovery Act helps to support state and local governments in cases of disaster, covering the costs of critical services needed for protection and recovery. The strong bipartisan support for this bill – demonstrated by the House vote today – gives me hope that Colorado families and communities will never again have to navigate recovery alone.”

The Wildfire Recovery Act has a ton of bipartisan sponsors, as you might expect for something that wouldn’t look like a political maneuver no matter how hard you squinted. In short, the legislation allows people impacted by devastating fires, such as the Marshall Fire in Boulder County in 2021 that destroyed more than 1,000 homes, to qualify for additional federal assistance through Fire Management Assistance Grants (FMAG).

The Wildfire Recovery Act was approved on the House Floor on Tuesday by a wide margin (328-88). Two of those ‘NO’ votes, all of which came from Republicans, were cast by Colorado Reps. Lauren “Q*Bert” Boebert (R-ifle) and Ken Buck (R-Greeleyish).

These votes are indefensible considering what Aldo Svaldi reported for The Denver Post on Tuesday:

Nearly 320,000 single-family homes in Colorado are at risk of wildfire damage with potential losses highest in El Paso County, according to CoreLogic, a property information firm that prepares an annual Wildfire Report.

California, Florida, Texas, Colorado and New Mexico are the top five states in terms of the number of homes susceptible to wildfire damage, CoreLogic estimates. But given their much smaller populations than the first three states, Colorado and New Mexico are more vulnerable on a percentage of homes basis.

As you can see from the map below, the five Colorado counties with homes that are most at-risk for severe fire damage include THREE that are within areas represented by Boebert (Eagle and La Plata) and Buck (Douglas).

Via the annual “Wildfire Report” from CoreLogic.

El Paso County is considered to have the highest risk of single-home damage, which is probably why even Republican Rep. Doug Lamborn of Colorado Springs voted for the Wildfire Recovery Act.

As far as we can tell, neither Buck nor Boebert have said anything about why they would have voted against a bill that would provide significant help for people IN THEIR OWN DISTRICTS.

It is inexplicable why any voter in Colorado would continue to support the likes of Boebert and Buck when they go to such great lengths to work against the interests of their constituents.

National Money Tells the Tale on Colorado Congressional Races

So far, so good for Democrat Brittany Pettersen

Every seat in the House of Representatives is on the ballot every two years, but not every seat will create a competitive race in a given district.

In Colorado, there are two districts that were believed to be more competitive than the rest in 2022*: CO-07 (Jefferson County to Cañon City, roughly) and CO-08 (Adams County and north of Greeley, roughly). At least, that was the prevailing wisdom a few months ago.

New spending numbers from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) were announced today, and only CO-08 made the list.

Republicans, meanwhile, are also spending money in CO-08 but NOT in CO-07.

The fact that neither Democrats nor Republicans are spending money (thus far, anyway) in CO-07 indicates that Democrat Brittany Pettersen is running well ahead of Republican Erik Aadland. We know this to be the case in candidate fundraising, but it’s likely also true in terms of internal polling. Anecdotally, Aadland has been all but invisible on the campaign trail and hasn’t managed to generate any sort of positive media coverage.

Meanwhile, we know from (limited) public polling in CO-08 that Democrat Yadira Caraveo and Republican “Secession” Barbara Kirkmeyer are running neck-and-neck. Caraveo might be in a better position at the moment, since Kirkmeyer has some trouble spots with her attacks on the FBI and her extreme-right position on abortion rights, but that’s likely why the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) is spending heavily on television advertising in the district.

It ain’t over until it’s over in either of these two districts, but the trend lines are impossible to ignore.

 

*Note: In CO-03, the home of Rep. Lauren “Q*Bert” Boebert, Democrat Adam Frisch would need to overcome a tough Republican voter advantage in order to win in November. Because of a combination of voter registration benefits and general candidate strength, incumbents will almost certainly win easily in CO-01 (Diana DeGette), CO-02 (Joe Neguse), CO-04 (Ken Buck), CO-05 (Doug Lamborn), and CO-06 (Jason Crow). 

Ganahl’s Idiotic “Polis Tax” Campaign Embraces Predatory Towing

Heidi Ganahl says you had it coming.

For some weeks now, Republican gubernatorial candidate Hiedi Heidi Ganahl has kept up an irregular message campaign on social media they call the “Polis Tax”–examples of various things Gov. Jared Polis has supposedly made more expensive during his tenure. Having started with #100, Ganahl’s campaign committed to coming up with at least that many such examples, but we’re sorry to report that the effort quickly lost credibility–blaming Polis for global inflation, the cost of cleaning up the state capitol after 2020 racial justice protests, and even including measures to delay and offset fee hikes as an “election year ploy” instead of simply admitting they do the opposite of what Ganahl says.

But with today’s #56 on the list, the “Polis Tax” review backfires superlatively:

This year, Colorado passed House Bill 22-1314, making significant reforms to the vehicle towing industry to prevent widespread abuses that have resulted in thousands of Colroadans’ vehicles towed without notice and held hostage for confiscatory amounts of money by unscrupulous predatory towing companies. The legislation passed with bipartisan support, including a lopsided 31-4 vote in the Colorado Senate. The $24,000 Ganahl cites in “fees” that would “no doubt be passed to you” comes from the fiscal note estimate for the bill, citing an increase in staff time to support implementation and reporting requirements. It’s such a tiny fraction of the state’s total budget that most lawmakers would be thrilled to have their bill judged by nonpartisan staff to be so cheap to implement. It’s also not a fee, but if it were, each Coloradan would be on the hook for about one-fifth of a cent.

And when we’re talking about fees imposed by towing companies, what Coloradans get back in the bargain is fewer predatory towings. Politically, siding with predatory towing companies has to be on the same abysmal moral plane as standing up for loan sharks and Ponzi schemers–but in her zeal to come up with 100 individual examples of Jared Polis doing something dastardly, Heidi Ganahl just offered to drive the tow truck to relieve the next single mom of her grocery getter.

Only 44 more to go, folks!

Deborah Flora Explains Truth About O’Dea and Abortion

Deborah Flora

Republican Senate nominee Joe O’Dea responded today to the big (bizarre) news that Sen. Lindsey Graham is introducing legislation in the U.S. Senate for a nationwide ban on abortion at 15 weeks of pregnancy. As you might expect, O’Dea is trying really hard to thread a needle with a giant piece of rope.

As Nick Coltrain of The Denver Post reports:

O’Dea thinks the 15-week ban goes too far.

“America wants balance on the abortion issue, not a forever cold war between the far left and the far right,” O’Dea said in a statement Tuesday. “Congress should pass a bill protecting a woman’s right to choose early in pregnancy, whether a woman lives in Mississippi or Massachusetts, and there should be sensible limits on non-medically necessary late term abortion and parental notification for minors. I don’t support Senator Graham’s bill.”

O’Dea instead supports his own arbitrary ban on abortion at 20 weeks of pregnancy, which is just a different way of saying that he has his own ideas for how to assign reproductive rights to women in America.

But as we’ve written before in this space, and as incumbent Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet has explained in his own television ads, the most important thing you need to know about O’Dea’s ever-changing position on abortion is that O’Dea himself acknowledges that he would have supported all of the recent Supreme Court nominees whose votes overturned Roe v. Wade in June — even with the benefit of hindsight.

Via JoeODea.com

This point about supporting right-wing Supreme Court Justices has not been lost on the Republican base in Colorado. Deborah Flora is a right-wing radio host who was briefly a Republican candidate for U.S. Senate in 2022 (you’re excused if you already forgot about that). As the Colorado Times Recorder recently noted, Flora praised O’Dea for this very position on her radio show on September 8.

Listen for yourself:

 

FLORA: Here’s the bottom line: You know, we may disagree on some of these issues, you know. And I’ve served on the board of a pro-life organization supporting women in crisis, predominantly, but one of the reasons why I ran [for U.S. Senate] is Michael Bennet is actively pushing abortion up until, or after the moment of birth. Michael Bennet voted against the “Born Alive Act,” and Joe, I know you’ve said that you would have supported the most recent Supreme Court Justices that Trump nominated, which are the reason why Roe v. Wade was overturned. So, I appreciate that, [and] I just want to get that out of the way because I think it’s important for people to know. [Pols emphasis]

First of all, nobody supports “abortion after birth.” We already have a law against that. But the key here is that Flora fully understands the functional reality of O’Dea’s support for the Trump Supreme Court nominees — and the reason that he has made that position clear: It is a nod and a wink to right-wing Republicans that when push comes to shove, O’Dea will be right where the right-wing wants him to be on abortion.

As Axios Denver wrote in August:

O’Dea’s comments on abortion are the latest example of the candidate embracing conservative viewpoints and putting guardrails on his middle-of-the-road reputation.

The other most obvious juxtaposition is how he claimed to be in favor of maintaining Roe v. Wade’s protections, yet acknowledged he would have supported Supreme Court Justices Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett. [Pols emphasis]

As we’ve said before, O’Dea’s position on abortion rights — whatever he says now — is not really relevant when you consider that he would have held open the door for the same Supreme Court decision that led to overturning Roe v. Wade. Deborah Flora gets it, as do other Republican voters in Colorado.

Everything else is just noise.

Republicans to Introduce 15 Week Abortion Ban

UPDATE: Wait, really?

—–

What has two thumbs and just screwed Colorado Republicans?

As Inae Oh reports for Mother Jones, South Carolina Republican Senator Lindsey Graham is going to make the final two months of the 2022 election considerably harder for many Republicans candidates in Colorado (and around the country):

Lindsey Graham is set to introduce a new bill to restrict abortion nationally, specifically banning the procedure after 15 weeks of pregnancy. [Pols emphasis]

This will mark the sixth time that the South Carolina governor has introduced legislation to restrict abortion at the federal level. The plan, which will be introduced Tuesday, has no chance of surviving a Democratic-controlled Senate; even if Republicans seize control of Congress, it would still likely face serious challenges, including an all-but-certain veto from the president.

But what’s interesting here is that by once again proposing nationwide abortion restrictions, Graham is reportedly hoping that the legislation will convince voters that the GOP is willing to make some concessions on the issue—that amid intense outrage, the Republican Party is not as cruel as the Democrats have been portraying. [Pols emphasis] But much of Graham’s logic here weaponizes the stigma, as well as the general misunderstanding of the term “late-term abortions,” and it’s difficult to see newly mobilized voters falling for it in our post-Roe landscape.

If a “15 week” abortion ban sounds familiar, it should: This is the same arbitrary restriction proposed by Mississippi lawmakers that led to the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Supreme Court decision in June that essentially overturned Roe v. Wade.

This bears repeating. Senator Graham is introducing a bill to ban abortion at 15 weeks of pregnancy — a timeline that has no scientific or medical basis whatsoever — that would create the same abortion restrictions as the Mississippi law that led to the destruction of federal abortion rights in the United States. Graham thinks that this will somehow be helpful to Republicans; he apparently didn’t get the memo that “nuance” is dead when it comes to abortion rights.

Graham’s legislation is a disaster for every Republican candidate in Colorado who is not running in a safe Republican district. Current elected officials, including Reps. Ken Buck (R-Greeleyish) and Doug Lamborn (R-Colorado Springs) have already signed on to the idea of making further abortion restrictions at a national level (so long, “state’s rights”). Here’s a short list of those 2022 candidates in Colorado who will find this to be particularly unhelpful in the weeks before Election Day on Nov. 8:

Joe O’Dea, U.S. Senate

O’Dea has spent the last couple of months diligently trying to take every conceivable position possible on the issue of abortion rights, other than the only one that really matters: Supporting a woman’s right to choose. His latest answer on the subject is that he wants to go to Washington D.C. to “bring balance to women’s rights.”

O’Dea says that he would like to restrict abortions at an equally-arbitrary deadline of 20 weeks of pregnancy. It will be hard for O’Dea to argue that he would oppose Graham’s 15 week deadline given that his own 20 week deadline is not based on any tangible scientific evidence.

John Kellner

John Kellner, Attorney General

Kellner already screwed this up when he said out loud at a candidate forum in August that he considered himself “somebody who supports the Dobbs decision returning this back to the states to make a decision” and later couldn’t answer a ‘yes or no’ question about whether he supported a woman’s right to make her own reproductive decisions. But Graham’s bill destroys whatever wiggle room Kellner might have tried to hold onto because the concept of “state’s rights” would go out the window.

If a Congress were to approve Graham’s legislation, it’s tough to believe that Kellner would still work to protect abortion rights in Colorado if elected Attorney General. He could just say, Oh, I support state’s rights but Congress changed the law, so what are you gonna do?

♦ Erik Aadland, Congress (CO-07)

Aadland is about as far right as you can get on the issue of abortion rights. He cheered the demise of Roe V. Wade and praised the Texas abortion law that basically made bounty hunters out of regular citizens who even heard the word “abortion” whispered by a neighbor.

♦ Barbara Kirkmeyer, Congress (CO-08)

Kirkmeyer has been one of Colorado’s most consistent anti-choice advocates for decades, but even she sees the political danger in talking about her position. Kirkmeyer opposes abortion for any reason. We don’t even need to ask if Kirkmeyer would vote YES on Graham’s bill if given the opportunity. She’s like political Thanos in this regard:

 

To be clear, Graham’s bill is bad for any Colorado Republican trying to finesse a position on abortion rights that is anything other than supporting a woman’s right to choose. Election after election, and poll after poll, have proved Colorado is an overwhelmingly pro-choice state — which is why dolts like GOP Lieutenant Governor candidate Danny Moore are trying to pretend reality is different. From The Colorado Sun’sUnaffiliated” newsletter:

“The Republican Party is not trying to take away anybody’s right to choose,” Danny Moore, the Republican candidate for lieutenant governor [Pols emphasis], said last week on Jeff Fard’s interview show in response to a question about abortion. That statement comes despite the GOP’s efforts at the state Capitol and through ballot measures to restrict or outright ban abortions in Colorado. Moore said he thinks voters should decide Colorado’s abortion laws — even though they already have time and again through ballot measures — while criticizing the law passed by Democrats this year enshrining nearly unfettered abortion access in the state. (Heidi Ganahl, Moore’s running mate, wants to roll back Colorado’s new abortion-access bill and believes the procedure should be banned except in cases of rape, incest or when the life of a mother is at risk.)

Danny Moore is apparently unaware that many interviews with politicians are recorded or written down and are easily accessible to anyone with a connection to the Internet.

Lindsey Graham is expected to announce his national abortion ban legislation sometime today.

O’Dea Backs Away From “87,000 IRS Agents” Fiction…Sort Of

Seeking to explain why he opposes the overwhelmingly popular Inflation Reduction Act, a.k.a. The BFD Act, Republican U.S. Senate candidate Joe O’Dea has leaned heavily on the claim that the legislation will result in the hiring of “87,000 IRS agents,” who will immediately commence with the mass financial persecution of millions of ordinary Americans in order to further squeeze them of tax revenue like the Sheriff of Nottingham.

If you haven’t already looked it up, this argument is completely false.

But that didn’t stop O’Dea from invoking it as recently as a few days ago in his ill-fated encounter with 9NEWS’ Kyle Clark, in which O’Dea claimed among other eye-poppingly disastrous statements that his mission in the U.S. Senate would be to bring “balance to women’s rights.”

Although campaigns reuse headlines published by news outlets regularly in campaign ads, what we have here is a completely fake headline using 9NEWS’ logo and typeface to suggests 9NEWS accepts its premise. Which, to be clear, they don’t:

JOE O’DEA: …What it does is add 87,000, 40,000 IRS agents, depending on who’s counting them, and they’re gonna shake down Americans for more taxes. Let’s take that money. And let’s put that on border security. And let’s put money into our state and our local cops so we can hire more cops. That’s where I think our priorities are. And those are the priorities. I’ll chase.

KYLE CLARK: Let’s talk about that. You and I both know that the IRS wants to staff back up to current levels. So they can make sure that wealthy Americans are paying the taxes that they owe, there’s this $600 billion tax gap between what’s legally owed and what’s paid. So you want to defund the guys that police our tax laws, because you know, the people they’re looking at are the wealthiest Americans like you and like, Senator Bennet, they’re not looking at ordinary Americans…

Again, this is not a slightly false claim. It’s been comprehensively debunked by every unbiased fact checker in American media. O’Dea, whose feints toward the center are hamstrung at every step by his fealty to Mitch McConnell and the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC), has no real justification for opposing this popular legislation other than partisanship. He is therefore obliged to make stuff up–and once you’ve done that in a political campaign, walking it back is never easy.

Here’s how O’Dea is trying:

For the last few days, O’Dea has substituted the word “bureaucrats” instead of “agents” when referring to the IRS’s alleged expansion plans. “Bureaucrat” has a negative but much less threatening implication than “agents,” and won’t help Lauren Boebert keep the idea that these new staff will all be armed stormtroopers alive in her angry House floor rants. It’s also not any more accurate, since the majority of these staff hires are to replace existing IRS employees expected to retire in the next 10 years. But what we see here is an attempt to make O’Dea proven-false rhetoric ever so slightly more defensible.

In short, Joe O’Dea is still lying, and he admits however subtly that he has been lying the whole time.

There are no points awarded, but it’s as close to admitting error as you’re going to get.

Boebert Debate Strategy: Anger, Yelling, and “Nancy Pelosi”

If you can turn the entire event into a circus, perhaps people will have a harder time identifying the clown.

Congressperson Lauren “Q*Bert” Boebert made a rare appearance at a candidate forum over the weekend at Club 20 in Grand Junction. Since she first emerged onto the political scene in 2020, Boebert has made a lot of noise but rarely in a debate setting — this was only the third candidate forum in which she has participated.

Boebert’s performance on Saturday was odd, particularly for someone who is favored to win re-election in November against Democratic challenger Adam Frisch. From a strategic standpoint, Boebert had little to gain from participating in this candidate forum at all, but perhaps she just couldn’t resist the opportunity to spew her tedious vitriol at anyone and everyone.

Rolling Stone found the debate worthy of an entire online story, with several handy video clips included. Boebert’s first move was to immediately attack one of the debate moderators, Edie Sonn of the Colorado Behavioral Health Council, over a Tweet she published two years ago in support of former Boebert challenger Dianne Mitsch Busch.

Whether in Congress or on a debate stage in Grand Junction, Boebert has only one volume.

As Conrad Swanson explains for The Denver Post:

Boebert jabbed even before agreeing to the debate’s ground rules. And she came after moderator Edie Sonn of the Colorado Behavioral Health Council.

Years ago Sonn, Boebert said, tweeted her support for the congresswoman’s then-challenger, former state Rep. Dianne Mitsch Busch. Boebert asserted that the debate was not a nonpartisan event, prompting boos from a few of the perhaps 200 people in Colorado Mesa University’s Robinson Theater.

“This debate is not about me,” Sonn shot back, adding that Boebert was free to leave if she didn’t want to participate in the debate. The congresswoman relented.

Typical Boebert: Big talk, but no action. Just like bragging about carrying a gun around the U.S. Capitol but never actually doing it.

Anyway, if the goal was to loosen up the moderators less they felt compelled to ask her tough questions…it probably didn’t work. Boebert’s fiery first few minutes seemed to mostly generate boos among what should have been a hometown crowd. Boebert’s real goal was probably along the lines of trying to distract from the fact that she never has anything substantive to say.

Boebert didn’t lower the volume after her opening rant. She spent most of the debate…yelling. Literally yelling. And mostly about House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who was not in attendance.

Ron Filipkowski helpfully put together this “Nancy Pelosi” montage, which should give you a good sense of just how obsessed she is with the California Democrat:

Boebert also made it clear that she dreams of a United States Congress that is chock full of other Lauren Boeberts:

As is always the case for Boebert, this was not a debate performance intended for Colorado voters. This was a show that Boebert put on for her national base of small-dollar online donors. Her constituency is not in Colorado — it is a group that lives solely within the right-wing social media universe.

It’s too bad that her supporters in the third Congressional district still haven’t figured this out.

Ganahl Reaches “If, Then” Stage of Denial

As Andrew Kenney of Colorado Public Radio notes today, Republican gubernatorial candidate Hiedi Heidi Ganahl totally has all the momentum in her race against incumbent Democratic Gov. Jared Polis

…If your definition of “momentum” is promoting your own nonsense internal polling as a proof point:

This is where we’re at with Ganahl’s campaign with about a month to go until ballots drop: IF a bunch of different things were to happen soon, THEN Ganahl could have Polis right where she wants him!

To some extent, this is even true. IF Ganahl wasn’t an historically-awful candidate, AND Polis wasn’t a popular incumbent in a blue state, THEN she might have a chance.

But she is…and he is…and she doesn’t.

Running for Treasurer Without Really Running for Treasurer

Dave Young and Lang Sias

Longtime candidate Lang Sias is continuing a recent Republican tradition in Colorado of running for the office of State Treasurer without really running for the office of State Treasurer.

We haven’t heard much from Sias as a candidate for State Treasurer. He hasn’t raised much money for his campaign, and on the race occasion when we do see something with his name attached, it’s usually for a negative reason. Sias is basically running for Treasurer in 2022 because he likes being a candidate (even though he usually loses) and because no other Republican showed much interest in this race.

And as we saw from last weekend’s Club 20 debate, Sias can’t articulate a reason as to why voters should elect him State Treasurer, let alone much of an understanding of what the job even entails.

Before we dive into that debate, a little more background on this trend is required: Back in 2010, Republican Walker Stapleton ran for State Treasurer primarily as a way to increase his name ID for a future gubernatorial run. Stapleton’s two campaigns for Treasurer, in 2010 and 2014, were mostly about airing his grievances with the administrations of Democratic Governors Bill Ritter and John Hickenlooper.

Stapleton’s performance as State Treasurer mirrored his indifference as a candidate. Stapleton rarely bothered to show up to his Capitol office for months on end. His out-to-lunch approach to the job ended up costing Colorado taxpayers millions of dollars because of funding delays that he tried to avoid discussing. Stapleton did little to reform PERA, the public employee’s retirement fund, and rarely even showed up to meetings (Stapleton’s penchant for missing these meetings even came up in a debate question last weekend when the moderator asked, “Will you attend all of the meetings?”)

Stapleton’s indifference/incompetence made it easy for Democrat Dave Young to campaign for an open seat in 2018. Young defeated super-shady Republican Brian Watson, a man who was just recently charged with securities fraud and deceiving hundreds of investors in a real estate scheme. When Young took over as Treasurer in January 2019, his first order of business was essentially to clean up the mess that Stapleton left behind. For example, Young needed only about 90 days to clean up a backlog of claims from the Great Colorado Payback that Stapleton failed to take care of in eight years.

Young is seeking re-election in 2022 and has a lot of impressive accomplishments to discuss. Sias, meanwhile, seems to be basing his entire narrative on the idea that you should vote for him because he is not a Democrat. But don’t take our word for it: Watch the Club 20 debate yourself.

In his opening statement, Young focuses on two programs implemented during his first term in office: The Colorado Secure Savings Program, which helps lower-income Coloradans save for retirement, and the CLIMBER loan fund for Colorado small businesses.

Sias, meanwhile, talks about being a pilot in the Navy and a Top Gun instructor. Sias says he wants to “restore balance” to Colorado’s statewide leadership (he says there are too many Democrats) and closes by saying that he will “not engage in any empire building” in the State Treasurer’s office, whatever that means.

 

Sias really starts to show his complete lack of a campaign narrative in response to an early question about the Treasurer’s office supporting small businesses in Western Colorado:

SIAS: As the Treasurer, I will be charged with running the same two statewide programs that Treasurer Young referred to, and I will do those with enthusiasm and I will do it with a real attention to detail.

In other words, Elect me, and I will do the same thing that Dave Young is already doing!

Sias concludes his answer by saying that he will “weigh in” on economic and taxation issues, which allows Young to begin his response to the question with this:

YOUNG: Actually, I’m currently weighing in on tax policy. I’m a member of the tax policy task force. We just met a couple of days ago. We continue to look at comprehensive changes to tax policy.

Again, the same takeaway here: Sias pledges to do something that Young IS ALREADY DOING.

A bit later in the debate, a question about PERA creates another bad comparison for Sias:

 

Sias talks about supporting a 2018 bill to make changes to PERA and criticizes Young for voting against that bill. Young then fires back with an explanation that crushes Sias:

YOUNG: The reason I voted against that bill is because the actual details of the bill were not available to legislators — the financials were not available to legislators in the 11th hour when the vote was being taken on the last day of the 2018 session.

It’s my commitment to make sure that [we do] the due diligence that is necessary in the Treasury to ensure that decisions are made that are appropriate and that we don’t have a repeat of the bad decision making that we had in 2000 that caused this steep decline in the funding of PERA.

Oof.

Sias next runs into more trouble on a question about “debt issuances”:

 

Really great answers, Lang!

Sias pledges to “keep all politics out of investment decisions,” which is an answer that has nothing to do with the question. Young asks for the question to be repeated, and then makes Sias look ridiculous:

YOUNG: I believe that this was not about investment but about debt issuance. Representative Sias may not be aware, but we have a very wide range of professionals that we tap in the financial services community.

Young goes into a bunch of details about how debt issuance is handled in the Treasurer’s office, then concludes with this:

YOUNG: This work is very intense on debt issuance. I’m not sure that Representative Sias was really dialed in on the question.

In response? Sias says, “Oh, I’m quite well dialed-in.”

Ugh.

Lang Sias wants to be elected as State Treasurer because…Lang Sias wants to be elected as State Treasurer (or, really, to any office). It’s the same reason that Walker Stapleton once wanted to be elected as Treasurer, and we saw how that turned out.

As you can see from this debate, there is one candidate for State Treasurer who seems to really understand the job and how to execute those responsibilities. It ain’t broke, and Lang can’t fix it anyway, so maybe we should just stick with Dave Young.

The GMS Podcast: Asshats in Key States

This week on the Get More Smarter Podcast, your hosts Jason Bane and Ian Silverii discuss Republican Senate candidate Joe O’Dea’s pledge to decide what rights women should get to have, and we consider how the breakdown of the national map for Senate Republicans (“Asshats in Key States”) is causing problems for O’Dea in Colorado.

We also talk about the latest state fundraising reports; the deadline for the recall of State Sen. Kevin Priola; and we bemoan the fact that the campaign for Denver Mayor is already well underway even though the midterm election still has eight weeks to go.

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 |

Eyes Off The Prize: Priola Recall Gets Election Day Deadline

State Sen. Kevin Priola (D-Henderson).

A press release from Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold today announces the approval of petition language to recall state Sen. Kevin Priola (freshly D), and a deadline set for recall organizers led by conservative activist Michael Fields to turn in the requisite signatures coinciding with Election Day 2022:

The Colorado Secretary of State’s Office has approved the petition format for the effort to recall Senator Kevin Priola. Proponents now have until November 8th, 60 days after notice of approval, to collect the required signatures and submit them to the Secretary of State’s Office for review.

The Secretary of State’s Office informed proponents on August 29 that they must:

Collect signatures from constituents in Senate District 13, based on the new map that went into effect in 2022; and
Submit no fewer than 18,291 valid signatures in order to be deemed sufficient and hold a special recall election.

The signature threshold for sufficiency was determined based on voter counts from the 2020 election in Senate District 25 per Colorado state law. This determination was made in consultation with the Colorado Attorney General’s Office.

Also on August 29, the Secretary of State’s Office provided a cost estimate of $199,079.95 for a special election to proponents of the petition to recall Senator Kevin Priola. This cost will be paid by the counties in which the special election is held, should proponents’ signatures be deemed sufficient.

You couldn’t ask for a better way to sum up the almost unimaginable folly of launching a recall campaign against a locally popular elected official for the unforgivable sin of switching parties in the middle of an uphill must-win election season than the deadline for turning in petition signatures actually falling on Election Day. No doubt Republicans will claim they can fold the petition campaign into their GOTV program for the district, but the bottom line is that persecuting Priola for the wholly partisan offense of defecting from the Republican Party is of little to no interest to unaffiliated voters who decide Colorado elections. And once they start asking questions about why Priola left the Republican Party, things go downhill with swing voters pretty quickly.

The messaging coming soon to Adams County: vote for Joe O’Dea because he’s “not focused on political parties.”

Then sign up to recall Kevin Priola because…political parties!

It’s a great way to distract yourself from losing the elections that matter.

“Balance To Women’s Rights”: Joe O’Dea’s 9News Unraveling

UPDATE: But wait, there’s more! Because of course there’s more!

These are the actual words from actual Senate candidate Joe O’Dea when pressed about his own admission that he voted YES on Prop. 115 in 2020 (which would have banned abortion at 22 weeks):

“I didn’t write that bill.”

What? How is this at all relevant? It was a ballot measure that YOU said you voted for.

 

—–

We’re still waiting for the feature story, but last night 9NEWS’ Kyle Clark posted a clip from his long-awaited interview of Republican U.S. Senate candidate Joe O’Dea that brutally exposed O’Dea’s contradictions on key issues his campaign has tried to hard to outmaneuver: abortion rights, and running as a Republican in the era of Donald Trump.

Here’s the deal. I’m going to the Senate to negotiate a good bill that brings balance to women’s rights. [Pols emphasis]

Take a seat, young lady, while Joe O’Dea “balances” your rights for you.

Joe O’Dea didn’t just come up with impromptu the slogan “bring balance to women’s rights.” This was almost certainly the product of careful deliberation between Joe O’Dea’s campaign team, where after thorough consideration of the potential pros and cons beinging “balance to women’s rights” was agreed to be the safest path forward for a candidate who just burned himself badly on the issue abortion rights by admitting support for a 2020 abortion restriction ballot measure that Colorado voters overwhelmingly rejected.

Unfortunately, Joe O’Dea’s senior staff is to the best of our knowledge comprised entirely of dudes.

The idea of Joe O’Dea mansplaining to the women voters of Colorado what exactly “balance” should consist of where it concerns their reproductive rights has left Democrats who have seen this interview quite giddy, since they’ve been trying to punch holes in the false narrative that O’Dea is a “pro-choice Republican” ever since O’Dea laid the claim. They couldn’t ask for a more damaging sound bite to accompany O’Dea’s pre-primary claim to be “personally very pro-life” with bringing “balance to women’s rights” in Mitch McConnell’s GOP-controlled Senate.

And if that wasn’t enough:

If you’re aware of how much legislation in the last two years had passed the Democratic-controlled U.S. House but then stalled out in the evenly divided Senate, especially considering O’Dea’s lip service to issues like marriage equality, this is almost as disqualifying for O’Dea as crowning himself the great “balancer” of women’s rights. Marriage equality, codifying abortion rights, voting rights, immigration reform–the list goes on and on. For O’Dea to say there’s nothing in the logjam of stalled legislation in the U.S. Senate he would support effectively negates his position on all of those issues.

And finally, O’Dea’s latest contortion on the question of supporting Donald Trump as the Republican presidential nominee in 2024:

In the video clip above O’Dea gets positively red-faced trying to wriggle out from this one– but after repeatedly stating that he would vote for Donald Trump if Trump wins the Republican nomination in 2024, O’Dea won’t say the words now to Kyle Clark.

After you’ve already said it, that’s the worst choice of all.

Conservatives frequently complain about Kyle Clark’s reporting, but in this case all Clark did was ask straightforward questions with logical follow-ups that took into account O’Dea’s prior statements on these issues. It’s remarkable how damaging that simple expository process can be for Republican candidates trying to overcome their intrinsically unpopular agenda.

Not only does the truth hurt, in the case of Republicans in 2022, nothing hurts more.

Queen Elizabeth II, 1926-2022

UPDATE: Tributes coming in from Colorado political leaders:

Sen. Michael Bennet:

Queen Elizabeth II was a resilient and devoted leader who strengthened the special relationship between our two countries. I share my condolences with all mourning her loss.

—–

And with that, the news cycle for today has ended.

New York Prosecutes “We Build The Wall” Scam

UPDATE: Who will Hiedi Heidi Ganahl turn to for moral support once Steve Bannon layers up in jailhouse orange? It’s a “divisive question” that Ganahl nonetheless should be working on an answer for.

—–

Steve Bannon digesting a baby.

CNN reports today that former presidential advisor, January 6th, 2021 coup plotter, and quintessential political bad guy Steve Bannon has been indicted by a New York state court on criminal charges related to the failed “We Build The Wall” campaign: a scam to bilk donors out of millions of dollars in fruitless pursuit of a privately-funded wall on the Mexican border:

Former Donald Trump aide Steve Bannon was indicted on state charges of money laundering, conspiracy and fraud related to an alleged online scheme to raise money for the construction of a wall along the southern US border, according to an indictment obtained by CNN.

Bannon surrendered Thursday morning to authorities and is expected to plead not guilty when arraigned, his attorney Robert Costello told CNN.

The state charges are based on the same conduct Bannon was charged with by federal prosecutors in 2020 that alleged he and three others had defrauded donors in the border wall effort, which raised more than $25 million.

Presidential pardons do not apply to state investigations, however.

Steve Bannon, Tom Tancredo pitch “We Build The Wall.”

“We Build The Wall,” which sold itself as a serious effort to use private funds to build at least appreciable sections of President Donald Trump’s promised but unrealized wall across the entire southern border, never came close to accomplishing its stated goals. But it did manage to raise millions of dollars, not enough for a wall but still a lot–of which Bannon is accused of pocketing $1 million and other co-conspirators getting their cuts as well. That includes right-wing Castle Rock, Colorado businessman Timothy Shea, whose trial on the federal charges Bannon was pardoned for ended in mistrial earlier this summer. Politico reports that Shea is expected to be retried later this year:

Prosecutors said Shea and other fund organizers promised investors that all donations would fund a wall, but Shea and the others eventually pocketed hundreds of thousands of dollars for themselves.

Shea’s lawyers contended that he acted honorably regarding the fundraising campaign and did not commit a crime.

Shea, of Castle Rock, Colo., owns an energy drink company, Winning Energy, whose cans have featured a cartoon superhero image of Trump and claim to contain “12 oz. of liberal tears.”

Colorado’s foremost anti-immigrant firebrand Republican politico Tom Tancredo, who built his career on demonizing immigrants years before it became cool for Republicans again, served on the “advisory board” of “We Build The Wall” and helped sell the idea at meetings around the country. Unlike Bannon and Timothy Shea, Tancredo was evidently not on the revenue-positive side of the grift–or at least not enough to have faced charges of his own.

As for Bannon and his pardon? Even though it’s a state case, isn’t this an instance of what’s known in the law as double jeopardy? As the Washington Post reports, pre-emptive presidential pardons have a loophole:

Because Bannon was granted clemency in the federal case before a conviction, there is not expected to be a viable issue of double jeopardy in his new case.

That’s a check on presidential pardon power that makes plenty of sense after seeing how an unscrupulous President can abuse it.

Republicans Giveth, But Not Nearly as Mucheth

 

The latest fundraising figures for state races were released earlier this week, and most of the news for Republicans was pretty grim.

Take a look at the cash-on-hand (COH) numbers for Republicans in the top four state races in 2018 compared to 2022:

These are not good numbers, but perhaps Colorado Republicans can feel a bit better knowing that donors are much less interested in giving money to Republican candidates everywhere in 2022. As POLITICO reports today:

The number of online donors to the Republican Party unexpectedly dropped in the first half of 2022, according to a POLITICO analysis of campaign finance data — one in a series of setbacks that have tempered expectations of a red wave in November.

Online fundraising usually ramps up dramatically and predictably over the course of an election cycle. But campaign finance data show that in the first half of this year, the number of people giving federal contributions to Republican candidates and committees through WinRed — the GOP’s widely used donation processing platform — fell to around 913,000 down from roughly 956,000 contributors during the six months prior.

The surprising dip illustrates broader fundraising difficulties that have plagued GOP candidates in key races across the country this summer, even amid hopes that the party could retake control of Congress. It reflects the party’s long-standing challenges in building donor lists to power its campaigns.

Heidi Ganahl, Lang Sias, and Pam Anderson are broketh.

Former President Donald Trump has been blamed by some Republicans for hoovering up many potential donors — Trump has raised more than $100 million online since leaving office — though POLITICO’s analysis suggests that only about 13 percent of online Republican donors have given only to Trump this cycle.

Still, Trump’s committees are sitting on tens of millions of dollars that aren’t likely to be spent helping other Republicans this fall.

Nationally, Senate Republicans are still fighting with each other; the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) is running on fumes, and NRSC head Rick Scott is blaming Minority Leader Mitch McConnell for suggesting that Scott recruited a bunch of dolts as candidates in some of the most important pickup opportunities in the country.

Boebert Hates On Biden’s “Decisive” Speech

Freshman GOP cavalcade of crazy Rep. Lauren Boebert has learned in a relatively short time in public life that when you string adjectives together and deliver them at high volume, you can make what seems like a very strong point. She has not, however, learned what all of those words actually mean, as she demonstrated once again this week on Fox News’ Ingraham Angle:

We assume that Boebert meant to say “divisive.” But she said “decisive,” and that is all late night television needs to do their work. Boebert is not unique in either Dan Quayle-style elocutive misfires or overly earnest high-pitch delivery, but the combination of the two in her case can be uniquely amusing–and this is one of those moments.

Embarrassed constituents may not be amused, but the rest of us just have to laugh.

Thousands of people have voted for this. Three times now.

MAGA Millionaire Tries to Rescue MAGA Candidate for Governor

Steve Wells, Heidi Ganahl

Republican gubernatorial candidate Hiedi Heidi Ganahl filed her latest campaign finance report on Tuesday, and it was as underwhelming as everything else she has done since launching her bid for Governor last September.

Through Sept. 6, 2022, Ganahl has raised $1.6 million, loaned her campaign $250k, and spent about $1.6 million in total. She enters the last two months of the General Election campaign with $188,407 in the bank.

This is not good by any comparison. At about this same time in 2018, then-Republican gubernatorial hopeful Walker Stapleton had about three times as much money in the bank ($555,000) and would end up raising and spending in excess of $4 million total. Stapleton lost the race for Governor to Democrat Jared Polis by about 11 points.

Ganahl has obviously not been able to entice multiple donors to support her campaign, and there’s no indication that national Republican groups — such as the Republican Governor’s Association — are planning on parachuting in at the last minute to boost her chances against the incumbent Polis. There hasn’t been reliable public polling indicating that Ganahl even has a chance in November; even ultra-conservative pollsters haven’t been able to figure out a way to massage the numbers enough to show Ganahl within the margin of error against Polis.

Nevertheless, there is still one MAGA Republican in Colorado who is apparently willing to light his money on fire in support of Ganahl’s lost cause…or, at least, in opposition to her Democratic opponent. As The Colorado Sun reports, a Weld County rancher and oil and gas “booster” is committing big bucks in an effort to unseat Polis:

Wells Ranch, the company owned by Wells, put another $5 million into Deep Colorado Wells, the state-level super PAC he formed in June.

This brings Wells Ranch’s total investment in the PAC to $6 million. And it makes the ranch the biggest donor to a state-level super PAC in Colorado so far this cycle. [Pols emphasis]

While the group’s stated mission is to support Republican candidates, nearly all of Deep Colorado Wells’ $600,000 in spending last month went toward opposing Polis and supporting Ganahl.

Wells told The Sun he isn’t sure how much he’ll spend to defeat Polis. [Pols emphasis]

“MAGA Republican?” Check!

This doesn’t seem like a particularly well-thought out plan considering that Colorado voters will be casting ballots in six weeks and Polis is already on the air (Ganahl, meanwhile, is not). The Polis campaign has reserved at least $4.4 million in television ads from now through Election Day and has $3.3 million more in the bank; Polis is self-funding most of his campaign and could contribute many more millions if necessary (Polis spent more than $23 million of his own money in 2018).

In short, if Wells is really committed to defeating Polis, he’s either going to need to spend a LOT more money or gain access to a time machine so that any ads get enough repetition to get through to voters before ballots drop in mailboxes in mid-October. It would also help if Republicans hadn’t nominated someone who is likely the worst statewide candidate in Colorado history, but that can’t be fixed at this point.

Now, you’re probably asking, Who in the hell is Steve Wells? 

Wells is a wingnut MAGA Republican millionaire who first caught our attention in 2019 when he pledged $100,000 to the recall campaign against then Democratic State Rep. Rochelle Galindo. Wells owns a bunch of property in Weld County that is home to a good amount of oil and gas drilling. He also owns a company called Wells Trucking, but most of Wells’ wealth appears to come from oil and gas operations on his properties.

Wells operates an independent expenditure committee (IEC) called Deep Colorado Wells. The IEC has its own website that is mostly filled with long, strange video rants from Wells himself, in which he sits at a table in a game room of some sort and yells at rhetorical clouds facing a camera that apparently does not include an external microphone.

From the website “Deep Colorado Wells”

 

Wells is apparently angry with Polis for a number of reasons — many of which are listed on this Geocities-inspired website — including inflation, vehicle theft, and fentanyl. Wells is also a Climate Change denier, as this 2016 story from the Christian Science Monitor outlines:

On his ranch near Greeley, Mr. Wells sits inside his “office,” an enormous warehouse filled with hunting trophies, flags, eagle images, rodeo posters, and mementos: a 1927 green beer-delivery truck, a guitar signed by rock star and Second Amendment crusader Ted Nugent, and a ’92 Harley Davidson low-rider in a glass case.

His understanding of the climate and of climate science comes from the numerous articles he reads every day, sifting through them “to search for the truth.”

What strikes him as convincing? Articles about emissions from Mt. St. Helens influencing climate more than humans (a claim opposed by most scientists), and ones detailing NASA data showing the Antarctic ice cap is growing (a paradox that scientists acknowledge, though most say it is insignificant in terms of broad warming trends).

The articles fit into a broader pattern of partisan distrust. He recounts what he sees as a litany of Democratic failures and distortions on energy and the environment.

“Jimmy Carter said we’d be out of oil by the year 2000 and we were headed for an ice age, and that didn’t pan out,” Wells says. “Then it was acid rain. Then we started the global warming thing, and now we’ve started on climate change. You need to follow the money to figure out the truth. If you look at Al Gore’s net worth since he got out of office versus now, he’s made a lot of money with this so-called energy issue.” [Pols emphasis]

Um, yeah. You get the idea.

Wells claims that specific policy decisions drive his political spending — he said he got involved in the Galindo recall because of SB-181, the infamous legislation that (turns out) did not destroy the oil and gas industry in Colorado — but it’s clear from the ranting on his IEC website that he mostly enjoys being able to shake a larger fist than most people.

Perhaps it shouldn’t be a surprise that a MAGA millionaire has stepped forward to support a MAGA Republican candidate — even if that candidate is the feckless Ganahl.

On the other hand, the fact that this doesn’t make much sense might be exactly why it makes all the sense in the world (the MAGA World…not the real one).

So, About Those Nuclear Weapons Secrets Trump Was Hoarding…

Barb Kirkmeyer, Joe O’Dea, and Trump

When the Mar-a-Lago home of former President Donald Trump was raided by the FBI in early August, MAGA Republicans across the country were quick to jump to Trump’s defense. As more details began to emerge regarding the crimes that Trump and his cronies may have committed — including violations of the FREAKING ESPIONAGE ACT — some Republicans started to realize how silly they looked in falling over themselves to stand in front of the train barreling down on The Big Orange Guy.

While smarter Republicans gradually backed away from defending Trump, others dug in their heels. In Colorado, Republicans such as U.S. Senate candidate Joe O’Dea quickly found themselves stuck inside a rhetorical box of their own making. O’Dea has called the raid on Mar-a-Lago a “political stunt” on at least two separate occasions, which was a weird thing to do for a guy who had been spending months trying to distance himself from prior comments supporting the former President.

And then there’s “Secession” Barb Kirkmeyer, the Republican candidate for Congress in CO-08. During a Republican event in Windsor in late August, Kirkmeyer promised to investigate both the FBI and the Justice Department to “hold them accountable” for, presumably, doing their jobs instead of letting Trump do whatever he wants.

As The Julesburg Advocate reported on Aug. 26:

Barb Kirkmeyer, who is running for the new Congressional District 8 seat [Kristi] Burton Brown predicts will be a Republican win in Congress, took aim at inflation, border security and offered a reminder of the country’s exit from Afghanistan. She has initially discussed, with potential House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, policy in the next session.

“We’ll bring in groups like the Department of Justice and the FBI and hold them accountable,” said Kirkmeyer, who is opposed by Democrat State Rep. Dr. Yadira Caraveo.

Now, the problem with calling the Mar-a-Lago raid a “political stunt” or pledging to investigate the FBI and the Justice Department for its actions is that these comments look and sound pretty ridiculous as more information emerges about what Trump was doing with all of these sensitive classified documents.

“We’ll bring in groups like the Department of Justice and the FBI and hold them accountable.”

     — Republican Barb Kirkmeyer (8/26/22)

As The Washington Post reports, Trump was hoarding documents that did, in fact, contain highly-sensitive information about nuclear weapons:

A document describing a foreign government’s military defenses, including its nuclear capabilities, was found by FBI agents who searched former president Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence and private club last month, according to people familiar with the matter, underscoring concerns among U.S. intelligence officials about classified material stashed in the Florida property. [Pols emphasis]

Some of the seized documents detail top-secret U.S. operations so closely guarded that many senior national security officials are kept in the dark about them. Only the president, some members of his Cabinet or a near-Cabinet-level official could authorize other government officials to know details of these special-access programs, according to people familiar with the search, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe sensitive details of an ongoing investigation.

Documents about such highly classified operations require special clearances on a need-to-know basis, not just top-secret clearance. Some special-access programs can have as few as a couple dozen government personnel authorized to know of an operation’s existence. Records that deal with such programs are kept under lock and key, almost always in a secure compartmented information facility, with a designated control officer to keep careful tabs on their location.

In other words, documents that shouldn’t have been sitting in boxes in a basement closet at Mar-a-Lago. When The Washington Post first reported concerns about sensitive nuclear documents at Mar-a-Lago, Trump proclaimed the story to be a “hoax.”

Former Trump Attorney General Bill Barr has been unambiguous in defending the FBI and the Justice Department instead of backing up Trump’s misdirection. Yesterday was Barr’s second big appearance on Fox News in the last week:

As Steve Benen wrote on Tuesday for MSNBC:

The question for rank-and-file Republicans becomes obvious: If even Bill Barr recognizes the seriousness of the Mar-a-Lago scandal, why can’t they?

Andrew Desiderio and Nicholas Wu of POLITICO came to a similar conclusion:

In the days since the FBI search of Donald Trump’s home, GOP lawmakers and allies of the former president have offered increasingly strained responses when it comes to his possession of classified and top-secret documents at his Mar-a-Lago estate.

While the vast majority of Republicans leaped to defend Trump after the FBI executed a search warrant on his Florida residence, the rapidly unfolding investigation — including revelations that he refused to turn over sensitive and top-secret records — has left all but Trump’s staunchest allies tangled in knots. [Pols emphasis]

If the steady stream of bad news coming out of the Mar-a-Lago raid is any indication, this story is going to continue to get worse for Trump and MAGA Republicans like O’Dea and Kirkmeyer.

You’d think politicians would have learned by now that it’s not wise to go out on any limb in which Trump is already perched. O’Dea and Kirkmeyer may have to re-learn this lesson in November.