► Governor Jared Polis delivered his 2023 “State of the State” speech this morning. Polis spent a lot of time talking about the importance of affordable housing in Colorado; renewable energy advancements; water and drought issues; the high costs of healthcare; and increasing funding for public education. Polis also took a shot at quoting Yoda from “Star Wars”…in a Yoda-ish voice.
► We noted last week that ZERO House Republicans in Colorado co-sponsored a resolution to honor Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., something that has not happened before in the state legislature. We had wondered if House Republicans just dropped the ball and made a mistake. As it turns out, this was apparently done on purpose for really stupid reasons:
► Colorado parents can now apply for free preschool programs — a longtime goal for Gov. Jared Polis dating to his first gubernatorial campaign in 2018. From Chalkbeat Colorado:
The parent application for Colorado’s new free preschool program opened at 8 a.m. on Tuesday — a major milestone in the march toward the program’s launch next summer. The program, funded in part by a voter-approved nicotine tax, will offer 10 to 15 hours a week of tuition-free preschool to 4-year-olds statewide, with some eligible for 30 hours a week. In addition, some 3-year-olds will be eligible for 10 hours a week.
State officials expect about 30,000 children to opt into the universal preschool program in its first year. That’s about half the number that will be eligible.
A failed Republican candidate who authorities said was angry over his defeat in November is facing numerous charges in connection with drive-by shootings targeting the homes of Democratic lawmakers in New Mexico’s largest city.
Solomon Pena, 39, was arrested Monday evening after SWAT officers took him into custody and served search warrants at his home, police said.
Pena, a felon whose criminal past had been a controversial issue during last year’s campaign, repeatedly made baseless claims that the election was “rigged” against him as he posed with “Trump 2024” flags and a “Make America Great Again” hoodie.
“I dissent. I am the MAGA king,” he posted the day after the election. And on Nov. 15, he added: “I never conceded my HD 14 race. Now researching my options.”
He was being held pending an initial court appearance Wednesday on charges including multiple counts of shooting at a home and shooting from a motor vehicle, aggravated battery with a deadly weapon, conspiracy and being a felon in possession of a firearm.
Albuquerque Police Chief Harold Medina described Pena as the “mastermind” of an apparently politically motivated conspiracy leading to shootings at the homes of two county commissioners and two state legislators between early December and early January.
We say it all the time: Words matter. It’s not harmless to pretend that elections are fraudulent.
TUESDAY UPDATE #2: The resolution honoring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. passed in the State Senate on Tuesday. In the final count, only one Republican signed on to the legislation as a co-sponsor: Senate Minority Leader Paul Lundeen.
There are 31 Republicans in the state legislature in 2023. Only one out of 31 Republicans agreed to co-sponsor the MLK resolution.
TUESDAY UPDATE: It turns out that not sponsoring the MLK resolution was actually an intentional decision by House Republicans because of concerns they had about “Critical Race Theory” language that wasn’t even in the bill. Check this out from Kyle Clark at 9News:
[Original post on Friday, Jan. 13]
Monday is a federal holiday celebrating the birthdate of civil rights activist Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
King’s actual birthdate was January 15, 1929, but we officially celebrate the “MLK Day” holiday on the third Monday of January.
Actually, let’s skip the rest of the lede and get right to the numbers:
[Note that the “GOP House Total” above reflects the number of Republicans who were elected members in the House at the time]
We have never seen this before: Not a single Republican member of the Colorado House of Representatives co-sponsored the traditional resolution to honor and commemorate Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
To be fair, nobody voted against the resolution, but where are the co-sponsors? It’s not like Republicans didn’t know this was coming. Several GOP House members, including Rep. Scott Bottoms of Colorado Springs, went to the House floor to speak about Dr. King before the vote took place.
Rose Pugliese trying to command her face to smile
So, does this mean that all 19 House Republicans are racist and/or ambivalent about Dr. King? Of course not (probably). But it is absolutely yet another troubling sign that nobody seems to know what they are doing in the House Republican Caucus.
Now, we are giving House Republicans the benefit of the doubt here; we are assuming that this was a mistake or an oversight. But it’s hard to ever be sure with the recent generation of GOP lawmakers in Colorado — particularly when you remember that the MLK Day holiday has often been a problem for Republicans.
The most infamous moment in recent history came in 2019, when then-Rep. Lori Saine delivered a speech on the House floor with a “history” lesson straight out of her own bizarre imagination. According to Saine, “black people and white people were lynched in nearly equal numbers for being Republican in the post-Reconstruction era.” We probably don’t need to tell you that this is complete nonsense.
Last year, Saine was more reserved but nevertheless used the occasion of MLK Day to complain about Critical Race Theory, suggesting that Dr. King himself would not approve of the imaginary practice of incorporating CRT in public school teachings (to the extent that CRT is taught anywhere, it is done as part of a higher-level discussion meant more for college students — not for primary schools).
House Minority Leader Mike Lynch, more or less
Yet despite some strange and inappropriate speechifying by Republicans in years past, one thing always remained fairly consistent: House Republicans made sure to co-sponsor the annual joint resolution commemorating the life of Dr. King.
Today’s fumble was an unsurprising ending to a difficult first week for House Republicans. The session kicked off on Monday with an unusual (and pointless) break of decorum when a few Republicans tried to nominate someone from their micro-minority to become House Speaker (that ship sailed back in November, when the 46-member majority House Democratic Caucus selected Rep. Julie McCluskie as Speaker). Assistant House Minority Leader Rose Puglieselater embarrassingly admitted that there had been no “plan” to challenge McCluskie…nor, apparently, any other sorts of plans.
In fairness to House Minority Leader Mike Lynch, he doesn’t have a lot of help at the top. Pugliese has been around GOP politics for years, but she’s still a freshman lawmaker who has spent less time inside the State Capitol than many of our readers. Pugliese is learning how to be a state lawmaker at the same time she is supposed to be leading people who are learning how to become state lawmakers. That’s working about as well as you’d think.
We’ll see just how bad this might get if Republicans have to respond to not co-sponsoring the MLK resolution. If someone tries blaming Democrats for not inviting them to be a co-sponsor…
Aurora Mayor Mike Coffman with “Mini-Mike,” City Councillor Dustin Zvonek.
As the Aurora Sentinel’sCarina Juligreports, a slate of candidates was announced over the holiday weekend by Democrats in the city of Aurora to challenge the openly partisan Republican majority on the Aurora City Council, and oust the city’s controversial conservative Mayor Mike Coffman:
A slate of Democrats announced Sunday at a joint press conference that they will be running for Aurora City Council in this fall’s elections.
That includes current city Councilmember Juan Marcano, who will be running for mayor.
“I’m running for Mayor to create an Aurora that puts our working families first — to create a city that is safe, clean, and thriving,” Marcano said on social media following an announcement at the Aurora Municipal Center Sunday afternoon…
The city council currently has a 6-4 Republican majority. Mayor Mike Coffman, who can cast votes in the event of a tie, is also a Republican. City council seats are technically nonpartisan, but critical city council decisions have become hyper-partisan and polarizing, particularly in recent years. [Pols emphasis]
After losing his congressional seat in 2018, career politician Mike Coffman plotted his comeback as Mayor of Aurora, barely winning the office in 2019 by just over 200 votes. Coffman then set to work installing a majority Republican City Council majority, which came to include Coffman’s former staffer Dustin “Mini-Mike” Zvonek.
Unfortunately, Coffman’s political success in installing a GOP majority to do his bidding hasn’t been matched with success in governing the state’s most ethnically and economically diverse city. Coffman’s disastrous mishandling of the 2020 racial justice protests that swept the nation and focused on Aurora due to the police killing of Elijah McClain further inflamed tensions in the community. Instead of stabilizing the situation in 2021, Coffman’s conservative majority has been plagued by embarrassments and scandals, from Danielle Jurinskydeclaring her own city to be a no-go zone to Steve Sundberg’sattempt to lampoon every ethnic minority in the city. All of this happened while the city turned over three police chiefs in a single year.
After last November’s sweeping victories for Colorado Democrats, now-outgoing GOP chair Kristi Burton Brown cited formerly nonpartisan city council and school board races as key to the party’s strategy for rebuilding. But instead of a rallying point for recovery, in 2023, Republicans in control of Aurora will be on the defensive.
Mike Coffman’s Aurora is an anomaly in today’s Colorado politics, and its end could be in sight.
There was only one instance of “Friday the 13th” in 2022; it will happen again in 2023 in October. Let’s GetMore Smarter. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of an audio learner, check out The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter.
► Tax cuts do NOT pay for themselves.
Don’t take our word for it: The House Rules Committee, overseen by Republicans, just inadvertently acknowledged as much. As Catherine Rampell writes for The Washington Post:
Via The Washington Post (1/12/23)
Congress sets rules for what kinds of budgetary changes it can pass under what circumstances, including what kinds of programs must be “paid for” by nipping and tucking elsewhere in the budget. Often, lawmakers want to change the law in a way that would cost money (i.e., increase deficits), either by reducing tax revenue or increasing spending. In recent Congresses, when lawmakers made that kind of change, they were generally supposed to find something to offset the cost so that long-term deficits didn’t grow…
…This GOP-led House has done something a bit different.
Under the new rules package, the budgetary requirements are more one-sided — in favor of tax cuts. Going forward, tax cuts do not need to be offset with any sort of savings elsewhere in the budget. They can add trillions to the debt. No problem.
But this is not true of spending programs. Spending program increases still have to be paid for.
Not only that, but the savings to offset expansions of mandatory programs have to come from cuts to other spending programs. They cannot be offset by tax revenue increases. In practical terms: An expansion of food stamps can’t be paid for by raising taxes on the rich — only by cutting, say, Medicaid or disability benefits. So basically any attempt to provide more support for poor or middle-income people is likely to come from other programs that help those same groups.
In related news, POLITICO reports that House Republicans are setting up a government shutdown this fall by implementing impossible spending requirements:
House Republicans are vowing to put Don Quixote to shame by tilting at a huge windmill: slashing federal spending by at least $130 billion without cutting defense.
It’s a proposition that’s severely unlikely on its face, before factoring in a Democratic Senate and White House that would never accept such cuts. Even the GOP’s fallback plan for avoiding a shutdown later this year — passing a short-term funding patch that would trigger reductions as an incentive for lawmakers to finish comprehensive spending bills — is inconceivable this term…
…that funding work is one of the few items Congress has to accomplish this year as part of basic governing. While lawmakers had always expected appropriations would be a struggle this term, the spending concessions negotiated by Speaker Kevin McCarthy and his conservative foes have raised members’ blood pressure. Those House GOP demands could set the stage for a government shutdown, unless conservatives relent or enough moderate Democrats come to other Republicans’ rescue.
“I don’t think we’ve had a really good full-throated discussion and debate about what is politically doable,” said Rep. Steve Womack of Arkansas, a Republican appropriator.
► The New York Times digs into some clearly-problematic and probably illegal campaign finance issues related to the Congressional campaign of the New York Republican who claims to be named George Santos. Meanwhile, four Republican Members of Congress are calling for Santos to resign. In a separate story from The New York Times, Colorado Rep. Ken Buck BLAMES DEMOCRATS for the existence of Rep. Santos:
Representative Ken Buck, Republican of Colorado, said he believed Mr. Santos’s actions were wrong. But he blamed Democrats for failing to raise concerns about Mr. Santos before his election and said there was little chance of removing him from Congress now.
“If the Democrats had done their research and exposed things, the voters would have had more information,” Mr. Buck said. “I think what he did was wrong, but whether he gets a committee assignment is up to Kevin,” he said, referring to Mr. McCarthy.
Mr. Santos’s committee assignment remained unclear on Wednesday, but he did not receive a spot he coveted on the House Committee on Financial Services. Mr. McCarthy had said earlier in the day that Mr. Santos would not get a spot on choice committees.
What a schmuck.
►The Colorado Sun reports on the swearing-in of Attorney General Phil Weiser for his second term in office.
Be very afraid: Democrats are out there somewhere offering to work with you.
The 2023 Colorado legislative session kicked off on Monday with some of the newest Republican lawmakers doing the same old Republican things that led to their current micro-minority situation. The more we hear from House Republicans, the more it seems that the GOP is too dysfunctional to even accept invitations to work with Democrats.
The session began with eight Republicans in the State House voting against Democrat Julie McCluskie as House Speaker, which was a strange and pointless diversion from traditional decorum.
*Quick Background: The House Speaker in Colorado is selected in a caucus meeting after the November elections. Traditionally both parties cast perfunctory votes in favor of this person as a matter of decorum and for practical reasons, as well; the Colorado legislature is only in session for 120 days, so nobody wants to waste time arguing about a Speaker selection that has already been made. This was a particularly absurd challenge in 2023 given that Democrats outnumber Republicans 46-19 in the House of Representatives.
The bad news for House Republicans is that Democrats don’t NEED to work with them to get things done at the State Capitol. Democrats are nevertheless trying to honor the tradition of the majority party “getting its way” and the minority party “getting a say” in issue discussions. As The Colorado Sun noted on Tuesday, Republicans seem confused about their current predicament:
Here’s the question that may define the 2023 legislative session in the House: Democrats have signaled they are willing to bring Republicans into the conversation. But are Republicans willing to work with Democrats? Eight members of the House GOP caucus signaled “no” on Monday.
The takeaway: Democrats don’t have to work with the GOP to get their agenda passed this year. And Rep. Scott Bottoms and Rep. Ken DeGraaf on Monday gave them another reason not to bother.
In fact, it’s not clear that Republicans even WANT to participate in the 2023 legislative session in a meaningful way. We’ll get back to that in a moment.
Assistant Minority Leader Rose Pugliese (R-Colorado Springs)
Assistant Minority Leader Rose Pugliese talked with George Brauchler on his KNUS radio show this week about what happened on Monday and the 2023 legislative session in general. That the #2 person in the GOP caucus is a freshman lawmaker really underscores just how bad things have gotten for Republicans in Colorado. Many of her comments reflected that lack of experience.
For example, here’s Pugliese talking about the silly effort to nominate freshman Republican Rep. Scott Bottoms as House Speaker:
ROSE PUGLIESE: So, generally, historically…it has always been that the Speaker is nominated and then the minority party second[s] the nomination. That has always happened. Patrick Neville did it. Everyone has done it. And it’s a unanimous vote for the speaker.
Last year there was some dissension [Pols note: This was in 2021, not 2022] and Republicans decided they wanted to vote for a Republican. Which, you know what, I’m okay with. But there wasn’t really a plan around this one as there was last year. And so one of our freshman members, Representative Bottoms, threw his name in — which again, I respect anyone who wants to throw their hands up — but it it wasn’t an organized effort. There were no conversations around it. And I think we could have done better if we had been prepared. [Pols emphasis]
Pugliese is the Assistant Minority Leader. There are only 19 Republicans in the House. How hard could it be to call a meeting with everyone?
During her interview with “The Magnificent Putz,” Pugliese also trotted out the same old tired line of predicting “a lot of overreach this session.” Republicans in the legislature love to accuse Democrats of “overreach,” but that message doesn’t really work when the voters of Colorado just gave Democrats a massive mandate to follow through on their campaign promises. There are 100 total members of the state legislature; Colorado voters elected 69 Democrats.
Rose Pugliese (left) learned a lot about paranoia from former Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters.
Silly rhetoric about “overreach” aside, Pugliese seemed to indicate to Brauchler that Republicans are too paranoid to even attempt to work with Democrats:
BRAUCHLER: Have you detected at all because of this significant minority position that the Republicans hold a difference in the way you’ve been treated by the Democrats? I mean, do you guys have like the kids table outside the big hearing room or do they even pretend that you’re there? I mean, what are we looking for to see whether or not you’re going to have the ability to even have a voice, let alone influence?
PUGLIESE:So, so far they’ve been outreaching a lot to us. And I would say the minority leader would agree, Mike Lynch, that, you know, they’ve been bringing us into the fold and trying to have the conversations and want their bills to be bipartisan, which I think we need to really watch and be careful of. [Pols emphasis]
But so far, they’ve been embracing, but they’ve also been very realistic in the expectations that they are going to do what they’re going to do. They have the votes. We don’t. The governor said that many a time. There’s just not enough of us to stop them.
Be careful, Rep. Pugliese! Those darned Democrats might trick you and your fellow Republicans into accomplishing something!
Pugliese and Minority Leader Mike Lynch will (theoretically) get a little smarter about working with Democrats as the legislative session grinds along. Or maybe they won’t. Democrats don’t need their help regardless, but if Republicans want to crawl out of their micro-minority in the House, they’ll first need to show voters that they can be functional members of an elected body of legislators.
Last week’s debacle that saw Kevin McCarthy finally ascend to the role of Qanon House Speaker after 15 different votes — a delay not seen since before the Civil War — was just a preview of what to expect from the new narrow Republican majority in the House of Representatives.
Republicans may talk a big game about working on the issues that matter to American families, yada, yada — but their actions are very different.
In fact, conspiracy theories were very popular among House Republicans on Tuesday. Republican Rep. Ryan Zinke of Montana even took to the floor of the House to vomit out this ridiculous rant:
Zinke: Despite the deep state’s attempts to repeatedly stop me I stand before you as a duly elected member of the congress and tell you that a deep state exists… They want to wipe out the American cowboy pic.twitter.com/BrOiIltbMp
Zinke, speaking from the floor of the House during a congressional debate, seriously asked people to believe that there are nefarious political actors, using the levers of federal power, coordinating plots with allies, and running secret campaigns to advance their insidious agenda.
As for why in the world Zinke made such an argument, it probably has something to do with his extensive record of ethics scandals…[Pols emphasis]
…Zinke ultimately resigned under a cloud of controversy. But even after leaving the nation’s capital, he was haunted by his record.
Last February, the Interior Department’s inspector general concluded that Zinke lied to investigators about his involvement in a Montana land deal and had run afoul of federal ethics rules. In August, the inspector general’s office released the findings of an entirely separate matter in which Zinke was also found to have knowingly — and “repeatedly” — made false statements to federal investigators.
Voters in Montana’s 1st Congressional District elected him anyway, though it was close, and the Republican didn’t quite crack the 50% threshold.
Zinke served two terms in Congress before Donald Trump nominated him to be Interior Secretary in January 2017. Zinke lasted less than two years in Trump’s Cabinet, resigning after a series of scandals that included his frequent use of charter flights for his own personal use.
Back in Congress on Tuesday, Zinke claimed that dark money Democratic groups want to “destroy” the American West and added that “in many cases they want to wipe out the American cowboy completely.”
Wait, what? Zinke believes that evil Democratic gazillionaires are plotting to eliminate all cowboys?
Don’t ask why. It doesn’t matter.
These are not serious people interested in serious issues.
One would condemn attacks “on pro-life facilities, groups, and churches,” while the other would force medical practitioners to provide care to infants who survive an abortion — a very rare occurrence. Neither is expected to advance in the Senate, but the measures underscore a marked change in messaging on the issue now that Republicans control the chamber.
Republicans damn near failed to take the majority in the House of Representatives in 2022 in large part because of voter fears about abortion restrictions stemming from the Supreme Court ruling that overturned Roe v. Wade. It makes absolutely zero sense to kick off their first full week in control by voting on two fairly-obscure anti-abortion measures — as opposed to talking about the economy and inflation — but that’s what happens when you give the “Freedom Caucus” control over everything.
The subcommittee, approved on a party-line 221-211 vote, will be empowered to investigate any federal agency that collects information about Americans, even in cases of an ongoing criminal investigation — a carve-out at odds with the Justice Department’s long-standing practice of not providing information about ongoing investigations.
The subcommittee, which will be housed under the Judiciary Committee and led by that panel’s chairman, Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), is expected to have resources akin to the House select committee that investigated the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol — a concession extracted last week from GOP leaders by hard-line detractors of Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) in exchange for the votes necessary to make him the new speaker.
The broad resolution also explicitly authorizes the select committee to seek access to highly classified information provided by intelligence agencies to the House Intelligence Committee. Members of that panel are often briefed on extremely sensitive information with contents that, if widely shared, could damage national security and endanger the lives of American intelligence officers and their assets.
“Its mandate is whatever Jim Jordan wants to do,” said one congressional investigator who works on oversight issues and who, like others in this report, spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal discussions and plans.
Maybe the American people will be really happy to hear that Republicans are sticking their noses into any federal investigation they choose.
The more likely outcome is that this goes completely awry, classified information ends up leaking, and evidence in important investigations is tainted by Rep. Jim Jordan’s “Police Squad.”
UPDATE: Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene continues to slam Lauren Boebert, dismissing Boebert’s claims of additional concessions from Kevin McCarthy to win that precious “present” vote:
Marjorie Taylor Greene refused to credit the Republican Speaker holdouts (Biggs, Gaetz, Boebert, etc.) for “the deal,” claiming the concessions “were pretty much already there” and “were made weeks and months before” the public floor fight. pic.twitter.com/mSWOrlInud
Reps. Marjorie Taylor-Greene, Lauren Boebert in happier times.
Over the past few months and culminating in the protracted drama over now-Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy’s historically fraught confirmation vote, the rivalry between what are generally agreed to be the two most unapologetically immoderate Republican women in Congress, sophomore Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia and Lauren Boebert of Colorado, has exploded into public exchanges of insults.
Marjorie Taylor Greene and Lauren Boebert look from the outside like MAGA twins, both loathed by Democrats for their incendiary right-wing rhetoric. But inside the House GOP, they’re not quite buddy-buddy.
Privately, Republicans say Boebert (R-Colo.) — who’s seen as more of a party team player than Greene — detests being tied to her Georgia colleague. [Pols emphasis] And when the House Freedom Caucus board of directors gathered last month at its usual spot a few blocks from the Capitol, the two tangled over Greene’s appearance at a February event organized by a known white nationalist.
Their confrontation grew so heated that at least one onlooker feared the Greene-Boebert back-and-forth might escalate beyond the verbal cage match had another board member not stepped in to de-escalate, according to a GOP lawmaker who was granted anonymity to describe what happened…
Following the battle over McCarthy’s speakership, in which Boebert was one of the last two holdouts in an impasse that just about turned violent on the House floor, the notion that Boebert is “more of a party team player than Greene” has been turned completely on its head. Following her own readily-acknowledged quid pro quo of being allowed back on House committees, Greene emerged as one of Kevin McCarthy’s stoutest defenders–which also happened to be the Donald Trump loyalist position, with MTG photographed trying to pass her phone with Trump on the line to recalcitrant lawmakers.
The end result is that MTG has greatly improved her standing with Republican leadership, but to paraphrase Machiavelli, Boebert struck at the proverbial king and did not kill him. The narrow majority and the concessions made by McCarthy could make it more difficult to punish the holdouts, but the idea that Matt Gaetz and Boebert helped their standing with their Republican colleagues is laughable. Gaetz has always been something of a pariah, and now Boebert and Gaetz and inextricably linked. It’s a disaster for Boebert whether she realizes it or not, but more importantly it’s a disaster for Boebert’s constituents–who will pay the price for Boebert alienating her own leadership.
Politically, MTG is in a much better position to buck fellow Republicans than Boebert from Greene’s ultra-safe Republican district. Boebert, who barely survived in a district that she should have won by ten points, has no more margin for preventable error.
The problem, at the end of the day, is that Lauren Boebert does not know how to change course.
And MTG does. It could make all the difference in the rivalry between them.
Aaron Wood, a conservative activist based in Highlands Ranch, on Monday announced his candidacy for the top leadership position in the Colorado Republican Party.
The current chair, Kristi Burton Brown, announced last month she would not seek a second term. The party suffered historic losses in the November elections, failing to win a single statewide office and losing ground in the Legislature, which prompted an intense debate among members about the party’s future.
Wood, who calls himself a “Christian Conservative, a marketer, a business leader, a grassroots activist, a husband, and a father,” is the founder of Freedom Fathers, a group of men who want “to ensure Christian conservative values remain strongly rooted in our society.”
Polis was a tech entrepreneur and served on the state Board of Education before representing Northern Colorado in Congress. He won the governorship in 2018 as part of a trifecta victory for Democrats that included the state House of Representatives and Senate. The party has held that control since. This past November, Democrats defied their own expectations and that of prognosticators by not just holding the trifecta but expanding their majorities in the legislative chambers.
Legislators who introduced Polis attributed their victories to voters recognizing their record over the past four years…
“For too many people, life is simply too hard and too expensive,” Polis said. “Coloradans are counting on all of us who work in this building behind me to deliver solutions.”
UPDATE: Watch live:
We’ll be live in this space at 10:30AM for Gov. Jared Polis’ second swearing in, and updating throughout the day as the pomp, circumstance, and They Might Be Giants play out.
► The opening day of Colorado’s legislative session on Monday clarified how Republicans plan to deal with their new micro-minorities: By doing the same shit that got them in the voters’ doghouse in the first place. The complete lack of self-awareness from Republicans — including freshman Rep. Ken DeGraaf — is actually pretty remarkable:
As The Colorado Sun reports in its “Unaffiliated” newsletter, Monday was not a good start for Republicans:
“A little blip.”
That’s what House Minority Leader Mike Lynch, R-Wellington, called the disruption Monday by the GOP superminority in the House during the launch of the legislative session. The “blip” was caused by new Republican state Reps. Scott Bottoms and Ken DeGraaf , both of Colorado Springs. DeGraaf nominated Bottoms for speaker (who seconded his own nomination) to protest Democrats’ support for abortion access and gun control measures.
It’s traditional for the House speaker vote in Colorado to be unanimous, [Pols emphasis] and since Democrats are in control of the chamber that means they chose the leader — Julie McCluskie. Bottoms’ nomination failed (he picked up eight GOP votes) and McCluskie was sworn in with bipartisan support. McCluskie’s nomination, in fact, was seconded by Lynch…
…Here’s the question that may define the 2023 legislative session in the House: Democrats have signaled they are willing to bring Republicans into the conversation. But are Republicans willing to work with Democrats? Eight members of the House GOP caucus signaled “no” on Monday.
The takeaway: Democrats don’t have to work with the GOP to get their agenda passed this year. And Bottoms and DeGraaf on Monday gave them another reason not to bother. [Pols emphasis]
House Republicans haven’t quite hit rock-Bottoms yet, but they’re on the wrong track.
► As Marshall Zelinger reports for 9News, Democrats in the state legislature are planning to do more about gun safety. Nick Coltrain of The Denver Post notes that Rocky Mountain Gun Owners (RMGO) is gearing up for a fight with its rapidly-waning influence. Public opinion is definitely on the side of Democrats:
According to a poll commissioned by Giffords and conducted by the highly regarded Global Strategy Group, 73% of voters this November considered gun violence an important factor in their decision. And of the 78% that cited crime more broadly as an important factor, two-thirds said shootings and mass shootings were among their more specific concerns — outstripping crimes like burglary, carjackings, and retail theft.
“Nationally, we’ve seen a huge shift in the politics of the issue,” Giffords Executive Director Peter Ambler said. “It’s gone from having this sort of third-rail reputation to being something that has significant bipartisan appeal. Colorado has been at the epicenter of that transformation.”
UPDATE: The unintended money quote today from frosh Rep. Ken DeGraaf of Colorado Springs:
It’s all too true.
This calls for the “Quad Facepalm.”
The Colorado legislature kicked off its 2023 session with many new names and faces…and some oddly-familiar rhetoric.
After the 2022 “Bluenami” in Colorado that saw Republicans get hammered across the state, we wondered if the GOP would take a different approach to “governing” at the State Capitol. After all, Republicans are working with historically-low numbers in the state legislature (a 23-12 minority in the State Senate and 46-19 in the House of Representatives) that you would think might cause them to second-guess some of their policy positions and the manner in which they discuss those priorities.
But as we learned from Republican Congressperson Lauren “Q*Bert” Boebert, Colorado Republicans learned nothing at all from getting walloped at the polls in 2022. On the opening day of the Colorado legislature, Republican Rep. Ken DeGraaf of Colorado Springs (HD-22) nominated fellow freshman Republican Rep. Scott Bottoms of Colorado Springs (HD-15) as Speaker of the House. This was a perfunctory nomination that had no chance of succeeding — Democrat Julie McCluskie was easily confirmed as Speaker a bit later — but it was DeGraaf’s rhetoric that proved telling for what to expect in the next couple of months.
DeGraaf read his nomination of Bottoms from prepared remarks, delivering his comments in a nasaly intonation that made his frequent use of the Thesaurus sound fairly silly. For example:
“As a citizen, Representative Bottoms is aware of the damage done to our economy by the frivolous spending of this body, and understands that we must remove the jackboot of good intentions from the neck of liberty to enable human thriving.”
At one point DeGraaf even quoted Karl Marx (yes, really). Eventually, he came to the meat of his disagreement with Democrats:
“Last year, fetal harvesting bill HB22-1279…specifically removed any rights of personhood but even any mention of humanity of the unborn human for the purpose of specifically denying the 5th, 8th, and 14th amendments stating a fertilized embryo or fetus does not have independent or derivative rights under the laws of the state and authorized extermination via any medical procedure, any instrument, any agent, or any drug. And ‘any’ is a very broad range…”
In case you were hibernating for most of the last year, the issue of abortion rights played a MASSIVE role in the 2022 election cycle and certainly cost Republicans a significant number of votes in every contested race. Using a good part of your first speech on the House floor to rail against Democrats for supporting abortion rights is not a particularly well-considered decision. But it gets better:
“…This is a very dangerous vector. What we learned from history is that we never learn from history, [Pols emphasis] but if we did, we would recognize that normalizing the stripping of any creator-endowed image of god of a humanity or personhood leads to subjugation, slavery, and genocide. That is a vector we should avoid, not champion as a growth industry.”
State Rep. Scott “There is No” Bottoms (R-Colorado Springs)
When DeGraaf had finally droned on for long enough, Rep. Bottoms stepped up to the microphone and made this off-key declaration:
“We’re not going to have any power this session – we understand that. But we do have principles, and that’s what we’re going to be standing on…
“…We also know that we stand for the second amendment under all circumstances. And we stand for the second amendment even if it’s in the parking lot of the Capitol building. [Pols emphasis] We stand for the second amendment. “
Why would you bring this up? Republican Rep. Ron Weinbergwas already in the news after two guns were stolen out of his car outside of the State Capitol late Sunday/early Monday. Weinberg says that both guns were unloaded and included trigger locks, but why in the hell would you have two guns in your car at the State Capitol?
Bottoms is correct that Republicans don’t have any power in the legislature — because voters rejected their right-wing rhetoric across the state in 2022. But for some reason, the remaining Republicans at the State Capitol thought it would make sense to kick off the 2023 legislative session by vomiting out the exact same crap that got them into this micro-minority position in the first place.
It’s almost as if Colorado Republicans have no idea what they are doing.
Republican demonstrating its mad gun ownership skills.
As the Denver Post’sSaja Hindireports, and it wouldn’t be a session of the Colorado General Assembly without at least one of these so hopefully our statistical wad is now shot:
Two guns were stolen from Colorado Representative-elect Ron Weinberg’s vehicle while it was parked overnight at the Colorado Capitol.
Weinberg, the Loveland Republican chosen by a vacancy committee in November, had stayed a couple of days in Denver for legislative training and parked his work truck in his designated parking spot at the state Capitol building. When he was leaving Friday morning, he noticed his car had been ransacked and multiple items were taken out of it…
Rep.-elect Ron Weinberg’s two guns were reportedly equipped with trigger locks but haphazardly stored–one in his vehicle’s center console and one “behind the seat.” Those two guns are now living a life of crime for the sole reason that Weinberg brought them to the Colorado Capitol. With Weinberg’s guns now on the street, it appears the consequences of schlepping firearms around in your can’t-really-be-secured vehicle are dawning on him:
He said he hasn’t been able to sleep, and “I just couldn’t imagine ever hearing that something that belongs to me could do ill will to anybody. [Pols emphasis] It hurts me sincerely.”
The last few weeks have been a whirlwind, Weinberg said, as he tries to figure out what to do with his business and start his new role at the Capitol, and normally, he doesn’t leave guns in his vehicle. But Weinberg had gone shooting with his 7-year-old son to teach him gun safety at a range, he said, and “it was an oversight.”
Rep. Ron Weinberg (R-Loveland)
Inside the People’s House, as readers know, Republican lawmakers have a history of fumbling and mislaying their personal weapons, which they are allowed to carry due to a loophole in the law despite the presence of armed State Patrol in the building and a ban on concealed guns owned by the public. ex-Rep. Jared Wright set the standard in 2014 when he left his loaded weapon unattended in a House conference room. Last year, Rep. Richard Holtorf’s gun flopped out of his pants while Holtorf was bounding up a flight of stairs. Between those incidents in 2017, yet another GOP Rep. Lori Saine was caught with a gun she “forgot” was in her purse at a Denver International Airport security checkpoint.
The party of gun rights’ inability to retain safe custody of their own firearms has been making a punchine of Colorado Republican legislators for years, but in this case it’s worse because these dangerous weapons have a real danger now of being used to commit a crime. Right after getting busted with her gun at DIA, Rep. Saine kicked off the next legislative session with fresh bills to weaken Colorado gun laws–bills that were never going to pass, but did manage to capture Rep. Saine’s jaw-dropping hypocrisy for the permanent record.
The lesson is always the same: if you don’t want bad things to happen with your guns, LEAVE THEM AT HOME.