Gardner’s Trump Apologetics Are Now Just Plain Ridiculous

Donald Trump, Cory Gardner.

ThinkProgress–you knew this would happen eventually:

During a Fox News interview on Tuesday, Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO) was asked to respond to controversial comments President Trump made earlier in the day about his upcoming meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Gardner responded by flatly denying Trump actually meant what he said.

Just before boarding Air Force One, Trump, who repeatedly attacked the NATO alliance on Twitter on Tuesday, told reporters that his meeting with Putin “may be the easiest” he has during his trip to Europe.

“So I have NATO; I have the UK, which is in somewhat turmoil; and I have Putin,” Trump said, referring to meetings he has during his trip to Europe. “Frankly, Putin may be the easiest of them all. Who would think? Who would think?” [Pols emphasis]

President Donald Trump’s repeated statements that he prefers to meet with adversaries as opposed to allies of the United States helps feed the perception that his foreign policy is entirely capricious and personality-driven, with no respect for the long-term relationships with close Western allies that have given American power the consensus needed for global leadership. Obviously, when the President is doing better cultivating relationships with with the nation’s enemies than our allies, something is amiss.

Also, the Russians helped him become President. So this is all, fair to say, very troubling.

Into this latest morass steps Sen. Cory Gardner, Republican member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee–with the unenviable task of making Trump’s brashness comport with the grownup world:

After being played a video clip of Trump’s remarks and being asked whether what he said is “true,” Gardner uttered an uncomfortable chuckle and said, “No. I think the president knows that’s not true as well.” [Pols emphasis]

“I think he’s simply trying to say to our great NATO allies and friends, ‘let’s make sure that we’re all rowing in the same direction, so to speak. Let’s make sure that we’re living up to our expectations and obligations,’” Gardner said. “I think the president knows the challenges he has with Vladimir Putin, we all know that, and I hope that when he meets with our NATO allies he will talk about the violations of international law that Russia has created, and indeed, it sounds like he may have an opportunity at some point to even address that very same concern with Vladimir Putin himself.”

So we are now at the point of hearing the verbatim words of the President of the United States, and Cory Gardner is reduced to simply denying the President meant what he plainly said. Gardner has sometimes been able to redirect the President’s outlandish pronouncements back into a coherent framework that doesn’t do huge damage to the nation’s stated policy objectives, but there’s just nothing to work with here.

Even Con Man Cory can’t spin it anymore. It’s as bad as it looks.

Jason Crow Reports Massive Fundraising Haul

Democrat Jason Crow and family

Democrat Jason Crow continues to put up impressive fundraising numbers in his bid to unseat Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Aurora) in CD-6.

According to a press release from Crow’s campaign, the candidate pulled down more than $1 million in donations in just the second quarter of 2018:

Today, Jason Crow, a decorated former Army Ranger, father, veterans’ advocate and candidate for Congress in Colorado’s 6th Congressional District, announced that he raised $1,003,588 in the second quarter – including over $630,000 in this reporting period. The total represents the most contributions any candidate in CD-6 has ever received in the second quarter. [Pols emphasis] Crow, who has pledged to not accept a dime of corporate PAC money, raised 95% of those funds from individual donors.

Crow will end the quarter with $1,295,458 cash on hand. He has raised $2,263,140 to date from nearly 7200 unique individual donors.

“We’re going to win this race because the grassroots energy in this district is ready for a new generation of servant leadership,” said Crow. “Coloradans are ready to tell Mike Coffman that you don’t need corporate Super PAC dollars to win a campaign. You just need the better ideas and the willingness to put people first.”

To put these numbers in perspective, consider that Coffman’s campaign has raised just more than $2 million for the entire 2018 cycle.

Stapleton Taps Sias for LG, Confirms Screwing Up Process Entirely

UPDATE: The jokes write themselves:


As Brian Eason first reported for the Associated Press this morning, Republican gubernatorial nominee Walker Stapleton has selected Arvada Rep. Lang Sias as his running mate and candidate for Lieutenant Governor.

What Sias may or may not bring to the Republican ticket is really a secondary conversation at this point, because this news confirms speculation that Stapleton’s campaign absolutely botched this entire process.

As we recapped earlier this week, Stapleton’s campaign opened the month of July by criticizing Democratic gubernatorial nominee Jared Polis for “rushing” the announcement of his own LG pick — former state Rep. Dianne Primavera. Stapleton’s campaign manager, Michael Fortney, tried desperately to spin this narrative in the face of what seemed to be a fairly obvious reality: That Stapleton’s team apparently didn’t realize that the law requires a gubernatorial nominee to choose a Lieutenant Governor within seven days of the June 26 Primary Election.

Fortney claimed on July 3 that Stapleton had indeed selected a running mate but would not make the announcement for several weeks under the theory that the law gives LG candidates 30 days to officially register their campaigns with the Colorado Secretary of State’s office. This story was immediately questioned by several reporters, including longtime political journalist Charles Ashby of the Grand Junction Sentinel. With Stapleton’s spin unraveling, Fortney then told reporters that the campaign was likely going to announce its running mate sometime around July 26 in order to theoretically generate more publicity for the decision.


If Stapleton did not, in fact, select a running mate within seven days of the Primary Election, then he appears to have broken the law. We know that Stapleton’s initial choice for Lieutenant Governor was CU Regent Heidi Ganahl, but Ganahl turned down the offer to be his running mate. Mesa County Commissioner Rose Pugliese was believed to be Stapleton’s second choice, though that has not been confirmed, and the rumor mill on Monday seemed to indicate that Jefferson County Commissioner Libby Szabo was at the top of Stapleton’s list. The point of all this speculation leads in the same direction: If Stapleton had actually selected a running mate as his campaign has claimed, there would not have been this insistent chatter about potential candidates to run alongside him.


Stapleton is apparently going to officially announce Sias at an event today — notice the totally-not-rushed signage in the photo above — and the campaign will cross its fingers that nobody asks for proof that Sias was indeed offered the job and agreed to said offer within the seven-day time limit. This is another terrible look for a bumbling Stapleton campaign that is constantly defending concerns that its candidate for Governor pays no attention to details and couldn’t manage a Taco Bell restaurant.

Wednesday Open Thread

“We have to distrust each other. It is our only defense against betrayal.”

–Tennessee Williams

Cook Political Report Shifts Tipton’s District Leftward

Rep. Scott Tipton (R-Cortez).

Nonpartisan Cook Political Report made a number of adjustments to their congressional race rankings today, including one that locals should note carefully–Colorado CD-3, held by GOP incumbent Rep. Scott Tipton, is no longer considered solidly Republican:

CO-03: Scott Tipton (R) – Western Slope: Grand Junction, Pueblo

Likely Republican. This Western Slope district is increasingly fractured between conservative ranch country and liberal ski resort towns, which makes it difficult to traverse politically. Democrats’ ideal candidate here would be a Blue Dog who could appeal to ranchers and Hispanic voters in Pueblo. But since Tipton ousted moderate Rep. John Salazar in 2010, Democrats have had a hard time broadening their base.

State Rep. Diane Mitsch Bush, a social policy professor from wealthy Steamboat Springs who grew up in Minnesota, won the June 26 Democratic primary with 64 percent. She emphasizes her ranch conservation efforts, but may have a hard breaking out of the liberal stereotype. Still, Tipton didn’t crack 55 percent in 2016 (President Trump took 52 percent here), and it’s worth watching in a wave.

It’s an overall accurate view of the state of play in this district. Affluent liberal resort towns compete with large areas of conservative hinterland, with the cities of Pueblo and Grand Junction offsetting each other to create a politically complex environment for both parties. Tipton has held on to this district since 2010 by margins that Democrats remain convinced are not representative of the electorate as a whole, and the expected midterm backlash against Trump in 2018 gives Democrats their best shot since John Salazar held the seat.

With that said, a move from “Solid Republican” to “Likely Republican” isn’t going to make Republicans throw Tipton to the wolves–at least not yet. If in the fall Tipton is in real danger of losing, it will mean that the overall climate for Republicans in the midterms has deteriorated even from where it stands today. It’s a safe prediction that if Tipton loses, Republicans have already lost the House in closer races elsewhere.

This race, like much of the country this year, is moving in the direction Democrats want it to be moving in. Time will tell whether it can get to the elusive 50%+1 needed to actually send Scott Tipton into retirement.

Get More Smarter on Tuesday (July 10)

If you’ve ever wondered if you could really fry an egg on the hood of your car, today would be a good day to try. It’s time to Get More Smarter. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of a visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show.



► President Trump on Monday evening nominated Brett Kavanaugh to fill a vacancy on the Supreme Court, setting up what is expected to be a very tense confirmation battle in the Senate. CNN breaks down where Kavanaugh stands on a number of key issues. Fox 31 Denver has reaction to Kavanaugh’s nomination from Colorado elected officials.

As Aaron Blake writes for the Washington Post, Kavanaugh got off to an…interesting start with his first public comments on Monday evening:

Almost immediately, he made a thoroughly strange and quite possibly bogus claim.

“No president has ever consulted more widely, or talked with more people from more backgrounds, to seek input about a Supreme Court nomination,” Kavanaugh said.

It may seem like a throwaway line — a bit of harmless political hyperbole. But this was also the first public claim from a potential Supreme Court justice who will be tasked with interpreting and parsing the law down to the letter. Specificity and precision are the name of the game in Kavanaugh’s chosen profession. How on earth could he be so sure?

There have been 162 nominations to the Supreme Court, according to U.S. Senate records, over the past 229 years. (The Supreme Court began in 1789.) For Kavanaugh to make such a claim, he would have to have studied not just those confirmations, but the often-secretive selection processes that preceded them. These things, quite simply, are not a matter of public record or even all that well documented by reporters.


► If the Denver Post were still publishing editorials, perhaps they would be inclined to offer a “my bad” for their 2014 endorsement of Republican Cory Gardner for U.S. Senate.


► The nomination of Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court is drawing mixed reviews from social conservatives, as reports:

The selection of Brett Kavanaugh as a replacement for retired Justice Anthony Kennedy has been met by mild disappointment by some Republicans who were hoping for a more exciting (and base-invigorating) pick, someone they would be certain would vote to overturn Roe v. Wade.

As National Review’s David French wrote Monday night, “I’ll defend [Kavanaugh] vigorously from unfair critiques tomorrow, but tonight I join many conservatives in a slight sigh of regret. There was a better choice.”

French was referring to Amy Coney Barrett, who was viewed by many conservatives as a choice more likely to overturn Roe v. Wade. But Kavanaugh, meanwhile, gives some on the right pause because of what they view as insufficiently anti-abortion arguments made in two cases and an opinion in another case that helped shore up the Affordable Care Act. But most Republicans view Kavanaugh as a solid anti-abortion vote, pointing to his decisions on other cases and his lengthy tenure in conservative legal circles.

As Robert Barnes writes for the Washington Post, Kavanaugh represents a conservative shift for SCOTUS, but perhaps not a “lurch” to the right.


► President Trump issued a very controversial pardon of two Oregon ranchers who sparked a standoff with federal agents six years ago. From CNN:

Dwight Hammond Jr. and his son Steven Hammond were granted executive grants of clemency by Trump, according to a White House statement. The father-son duo are cattle ranchers and were convicted in 2012 of committing arson on federal lands in Oregon…

…Dwight Hammond has served approximately three years in prison, and his son Steven has served four years, according to the White House.

The Hammonds said they started a fire on their property in 2001 to protect it from wildfires and reduce the growth of invasive plants, but that the fire got out of hand, CNN affiliate KTVZ reported. Prosecutors said in 2016 they set fires to cover up evidence of poaching…

…The perceived unjust sentence for the Hammonds inspired Ammon Bundy to lead an armed standoff in early 2016, when a group of armed men broke into the headquarters of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon.


Get even more smarter after the jump…


There’s No Denver Post Editorial Board To Say Sorry

Sen. Cory Gardner (R).

Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado’s statement on the nomination of conservative judge Brett Kavanaugh to serve on the Supreme Court, Donald Trump’s second such pick after Republicans (including Gardner) prevented a vote on President Barack Obama’s nominee Merrick Garland in 2016 setting in motion an ideological shift on the court that will be felt for decades to come:

“I look forward to meeting soon with Judge Kavanaugh,” said Senator Gardner. “Over the coming weeks I will review his judicial record while also ensuring that Judge Kavanaugh will approach each case on its merits and follow the law as it is written. I hope my colleagues on both sides of the aisle will thoughtfully and thoroughly review this individual during the confirmation process and carefully consider him rather than making a knee-jerk decision based on politics and nothing else.”

There’s little need for Gardner to hold on to the pretense of being undecided on Kavanaugh, since Gardner’s support along with all but a handful of Republican Senators is a foregone conclusion. Democrats are preparing to put up a major fight over Kavanaugh’s nomination, but at this point the administration and Republicans backing Kavanaugh have the upper hand and the smart money suggests Kavanaugh will be confirmed.

Although Kavanaugh has not publicly declared his intention to overturn the landmark Roe v. Wade decision upholding abortion rights, his record and political affiliations strongly indicate that he will do so if given the opportunity–in keeping with Trump’s campaign-trail vows to appoint justices who would overturn Roe. Court cases intended as direct challenges to Roe are already moving, and the solid conservative majority Kavanaugh provides supplies the means.

As of now, it’s very likely that Roe v. Wade will be overturned, and abortion swiftly recriminalized in many states. In Colorado, where voters have soundly rejected abortion bans in repeated statewide votes, we expect this will energize pro-choice voters–and result in further political losses for Colorado Republicans along with reaffirmed abortion rights protections in Colorado law.

Kavanaugh’s nomination and the expected rightward shift of the Supreme Court is also a short-term realization of Sen. Cory Gardner’s long-sought political goals, but with long-term peril that could jeopardize his re-election in 2020. Gardner won his election in 2014 largely by convincing a pro-choice Colorado electorate that abortion wasn’t an issue that mattered. As the Denver Post’s editorial board said in 2014, “contrary to [Mark] Udall’s tedious refrain, Gardner’s election would pose no threat to abortion rights.” Republicans saddled the derisive nickname “Mark Uterus” on Udall in mockery of his insistence that Gardner would endanger abortion rights–and local reporters were happy to join in the mocking, content in Gardner’s assurances that the issue was being overblown and abortion rights were safe no matter what Gardner did.

Today, anyone who says that is a fool. And anyone who said it in 2014 owes every woman in Colorado an apology.

As for Cory Gardner, 2020 is going to be very different than 2014.

Because the game will be up.

Tuesday Open Thread

“There is no defense against adverse fortune which is so effectual as an habitual sense of humor.”

–Thomas Higginson

“Unite Colorado” Rally a Sad Sack of Fizzle

9NEWS’ Marshall Zelinger Tweeted photos from today’s “rally” for the so-called Unite Colorado slate of candidates, formerly known as the Centrist Project–an out-of-state funded project supporting state legislative candidates running mostly in swing Democratic districts, with the clear purpose of splitting Democratic votes and electing Republicans despite an oncoming Democratic “wave year.”

As we’ve discussed it’s a novel strategy, but judging from today’s turnout it’s not amounting to much:

The “Unite Colorado” candidates running to disrupt tight Democratic races (with a few token Republican-held districts thrown in for what we assume are diversionary purposes) have quite a bit in common strategically with the “Walk Away” movement being promoted by conservative media outlets–both attempting to demoralize and divide Democrats, and thereby reduce what are almost universally expected to be major Democratic gains in the midterm elections. None of the Unite Colorado candidates need to win in order to achieve their objectives, only pull enough votes away from Democrats in close races to swing them–much the same way that Libertarian candidates have undercut Republicans in swing races for many years.

But where Libertarians have a well-established party apparatus and ideological niche they speak for, Unite Colorado is a contrived movement, led by a young conservative activist who actually says that “It doesn’t really matter to voters” where you “stand on the issues.” It doesn’t even matter if you agree! It’s only important, says Nick Troiano, that your candidates be “different.”

All told it’s an insult to the intelligence of all voters, but especially Democratic voters.

As of today, though, it doesn’t look like many real-life Democrats are buying in.

Trump Has Chosen SCOTUS Nominee

UPDATE #4: NARAL Pro Choice Colorado’s Karen Middleton:

“President Trump has said he will only nominate Justices who will overturn and gut Roe v. Wade, and we take him at his word. Judge Kavanaugh recently argued that a young immigrant woman, despite meeting all of Texas’ burdensome requirements to get an abortion, should not be able to exercise her right to choose to terminate her pregnancy. He has also argued against contraception coverage under the Affordable Care Act.

These arguments are not consistent with Colorado values. Colorado is a pro-choice state that strongly supports the right to choose abortion established in Roe v. Wade. Colorado’s US Senators Gardner and Bennet must not just oppose, but actively work to block Judge Kavanaugh from being confirmed to the Court.

The rights and lives of Colorado women depend on it.”

UPDATE #3: Rep. Diana DeGette:

“We are deeply concerned about how Judge Brett Kavanaugh might rule on cases involving women’s health in general, privacy, and access to the full range of reproductive care services, including abortion care – a right that since 1973 has been protected under the Constitution. Donald Trump’s actions on these matters since assuming the Presidency have been decisively anti-reproductive rights, and his administration has pushed anti-woman policies through regulations as well as nominating and installing anti-choice candidates for health-related positions. We urge the Senate to scrutinize Judge Kavanaugh closely to ensure that Americans’ fundamental rights, including the right to choose, will be protected.

President Trump’s reported short list of nominees was selected through a highly partisan process driven by a clear anti-choice agenda. Already, many are questioning the lasting damage this nomination may cause to the reputation of highest court in the land, as well the implications for Americans’ fundamental rights and civil liberties. This nomination is deeply troubling for women across the country. All Americans deserve nothing short of full transparency regarding Judge Kavanaugh’s views, intentions and attitudes toward what the Court stands for: Equal Justice Under Law.”

Daniel Ramos at One Colorado, the state’s principal LGBT rights group:

“President Trump continues to pursue his anti-LGBTQ agenda with his nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court. With this nomination, basic rights and protections LGBTQ Coloradans rely on are now at serious risk — including the ability to adopt and foster children, protection from discrimination in employment, housing, and public spaces; and the ability to get health insurance even if you have a pre-existing condition.”

“I am calling on Colorado’s U.S. Senators, Michael Bennet and Cory Gardner, to fulfill their constitutional responsibility to thoroughly and closely examine this nominee and make sure he unequivocally acknowledges and respects full equality under the law for LGBTQ Americans. The stakes are too high for this process to be rushed or taken lightly.”


UPDATE #2: Woops! President Donald Trump kept this one amazingly close to the vest all day, revealing his choice of Judge Brett Kavanaugh–an unabashedly partisan pick sure to harden battle lines–moments ago:

Kavanaugh, 53, is a judge on the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit and Yale Law School graduate who previously served in both Bush administrations. He also worked on independent counsel Ken Starr’s investigation of President Bill Clinton…

Democrats are warning that Trump’s nominee would jeopardize some of progressives’ most important policy priorities in recent decades — including rulings that legalized abortion and same-sex marriage, as well as former President Barack Obama’s health care law.

Republicans hold 51 seats in the Senate, though Arizona Sen. John McCain has been absent as he battles brain cancer. Trump’s nominee can win confirmation with only Republican votes, but attention will quickly shift to two moderate GOP senators, Maine’s Susan Collins and Alaska’s Lisa Murkowski, who are supportive of abortion rights.


UPDATE: News reports seem to indicate that U.S. Appeals Court (Philadelphia) Judge Thomas Hardiman is the pick. Hardiman has been described as a “Second Amendment extremist.” He is widely believed to have been the runner-up to Neil Gorsuch when Trump selected the Colorado judge to replace Antonin Scalia. Hardiman is a colleague of Trump’s sister — Judge Maryanne Trump Barry — in the 3rd District Court of Appeals.


From Politico:

President Donald Trump has reached a final decision on who he will nominate to the Supreme Court, two sources familiar with the matter said on Monday, just hours before the president plans to do a prime-time reveal from the White House.

The sources did not divulge who the pick will be, but sources earlier on Monday said Judges Thomas Hardiman and Brett Kavanaugh had emerged as the most likely contenders for the Supreme Court.

President Trump is expected to formally announce his choice tonight.

Walker Stapleton’s Short List for Lieutenant Governor

Libby Szabo (right) poses with actor Scott Baio during the 2016 Republican National Convention.

Earlier today we recapped the odd early-July saga of Republican gubernatorial nominee Walker Stapleton maybe (possibly) having chosen a Lieutenant Governor (LG) running mate but thus far remaining mum on the selection. We’ve heard that CU Regent Heidi Ganahl turned down Stapleton’s offer to be his running mate, which prompted a shift in attention toward someone like Mesa County Commissioner and Climate Change denier Rose Pugliese. Stapleton may well choose (or have chosen) Pugliese, but apparently there is another name in the mix.

Over the weekend we ran a poll asking about potential Stapleton LG candidates, and it appears that we just missed the mark on a finalist from Jefferson County. We speculated, half-jokingly, that longtime Jefferson County elected office hopper Faye Griffin could be Stapleton’s choice for LG, but from what we hear, Jefferson County Commissioner Libby Szabo has made Stapleton’s short list (pun intended) to run alongside him in the fall.

Szabo is a former state representative — and Assistant Minority Leader — who made headlines in late 2014 when she abandoned the Republican caucus shortly after winning re-election to the House in order to secure a vacancy appointment for an open seat on the Jefferson County Board of County Commissioners. The Jeffco Commissioner job came with a significant salary increase and other perks — including a brand-new car purchased by Jeffco taxpayers that was equipped with special pedals to accommodate Szabo’s short frame (in the photo at right, Szabo poses with 5-foot-10 actor Scott Baio; you can make your own guesses about Szabo’s actual height).

The upside (pun intended) of choosing Szabo as his running mate is that might help Stapleton with voters in the always-critical Jefferson County. Szabo is also a Spanish speaker, which would theoretically help in attracting Hispanic and Latina(o) voters. There is also considerable downside (pun still intended) of a Szabo selection beyond the negative stories related to her move to Jefferson County government. If Stapleton picks Szabo, it would focus new attention on her 2013 appearance on disgraced Fox News host Bill O’Reilly’s show in which she and O’Reilly agreed that there is some sort of correlation between homosexuality and child sex offenders. The significance of this story is obvious given that Democrat Jared Polis would be the first openly-gay man to be elected Governor in the United States.

In short (yep, still), Stapleton will likely announce a running mate who is either a noted Climate Change denier or someone who has no problem intimating that gay people are more likely to sexually assault children.

Have we mentioned that Democrats aren’t at all afraid of running against Stapleton in 2018?

Stapleton’s Evolving Lite Gov Excuses: How The Stupid Burns

UPDATE: Stop what you’re doing right now and read Westword’s “Eight Reasons Why Walker Stapleton Won’t Announce His Running Mate.”

Walker Stapleton wants Coloradans to know that he totally, totally chose a running mate for his upcoming GOP run for the governor’s seat in November. And that, for the reals, Colorado, he met the legal deadline to do so last week. And he pinkie-swears he’s not lying. Cross his Trump-loving heart.

Like Michael Fortney said. “Not a good look.”


Walker Stapleton and…somebody. Allegedly.

We wanted to briefly circle back to recap last week’s principal story in Colorado politics, the failure of Republican gubernatorial nominee Walker Stapleton to announce his running mate within the seven days nominally prescribed by law. Stapleton, breaking with precedent that has held ever since candidates for governor were given the power to choose their own running mates, claims that a loophole in the law allows him to keep his selection secret for up to 30 days–during which time the candidate is essentially on their honor that they made the pick within the seven-day deadline.

The excuses offered by Stapleton’s campaign for not announcing their running mate by the deadline have evolved considerably as it became apparent that the delay wasn’t going over well. Ernest Luning in the Colorado Springs Gazette:

“I don’t think it makes sense to announce over the Fourth of July week unless you are in a hurry to try to change the narrative, which, after last week, Jared undoubtedly is,” Michael Fortney said, referring to U.S. Rep. Jared Polis, the Democratic gubernatorial nominee.

“He couldn’t unite the party, so he rushed to make his lieutenant governor announcement in hopes she could do what he couldn’t. I am skeptical. Or he didn’t read the entire law. Either way, not a good look.”

Under scrutiny from Charles Ashby at the Grand Junction Sentinel, this got stupid pretty quickly:

[A]ccording to state statutes — and the Polis campaign — the law requires governor candidates to make such a nomination within seven days after the primary. After Stapleton campaign manager Michael Fortney made that “rushed” comment Monday, he told The Daily Sentinel on Tuesday that Stapleton did pick a running mate the same day, [Pols emphasis] but won’t announce who that person is for a few weeks.

“You have to read the rest of that statute,” Fortney said. “We have 30 days to make that announcement.”

Both picked running mates last Monday, but Polis’ choice was “rushed” because he’s not keeping it secret? Is there another way to read this? The fact that no one has interpreted the law this way in the almost 20 years it’s been on the books makes it absurd to suggest that the Polis campaign’s announcement the day before the deadline was “rushed.” Stapleton’s campaign didn’t have to make that charge, but in the end their own failure to announce a running mate by the deadline was obviously the bigger story and the attempt had backfired. Reporters just didn’t buy the bull:

Stapleton campaign manager Michael Fortney accused the Polis camp of choosing his running mate within a week of the primary, as the law requires, [Pols emphasis] to divert attention from that unity rally, saying it was meant to “change the dialogue.”

With that line of attack floundering, it was back to the holiday week as the excuse for what everyone by this point was forced to agree was Stapleton’s unusual move, not Polis’:

Instead of unveiling Stapleton’s pick when voters are paying more attention to fireworks, barbecues and summer road trips, Fortney said, the campaign intends to let its lieutenant governor candidate be known on its own schedule, sometime before July 26 — potentially getting a bump in good publicity from the announcement instead of squandering it.

At this point, the negative press over Stapleton’s failure to announce by the deadline has done far more damage than announcing last week would have cost him in terms of voter attention. Stapleton’s decision to “keep the choice secret,” with no evident way to prove that the selection was made within the seven days required by law, make the question of whether Stapleton has a running mate even today quite pressing–especially given the credible rumors that Stapleton’s first choice for the job, CU Regent Heidi Ganahl, declined to run with him.

In the best case, Stapleton has reinforced his solidifying reputation as a bumbling idiot and the damage is done–unless it becomes clear that Stapleton didn’t have his running mate by the deadline, and has been making excuses and pointing fingers hypocritically ever since.

In that event, yes. This could get even worse.

Get More Smarter on Monday (July 9)

The looonngggg Holiday week(end) has come to an end. For those of you who haven’t really been in front of a screen since June, keep reading for a special “Things You Might Have Missed Because of That Ridiculously-Long Holiday Week” section. It’s time to Get More Smarter. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of a visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show.



President Trump is expected to announce his nominee for a vacant spot on the U.S. Supreme Court late this evening. As the Washington Post reports:

President Trump said he was “close” to choosing a Supreme Court nominee Sunday after a weekend at his New Jersey golf club evaluating four leading candidates and mulling the likely response of key senators and his core supporters to each prospect, according to White House officials and Trump advisers involved in the discussions.

Over rounds of golf with friends, meals with family, and a flurry of phone calls and meetings with aides, Trump remained coy about his final decision, which is expected to be announced Monday evening from among the four federal judges atop his shortlist: Brett M. Kavanaugh, Thomas Hardiman, Raymond Kethledge and Amy Coney Barrett.

“I’m very close to making a decision,” Trump told reporters Sunday afternoon. “Have not made it official yet. Have not made it final.”

He added: “It’s still — let’s say it’s the four people. But they’re excellent. Every one. You can’t go wrong.”

In a tweet Monday morning, Trump said: “I have long heard that the most important decision a U.S. President can make is the selection of a Supreme Court Justice.” He indicated he would stick to plans to make the pick public in a 9 p.m. news conference.

As Aaron Blake writes in a separate story for the Washington Post, there is plenty of potential for some late fireworks in Trump’s announcement.


► Former Trump attorney Michael Cohen is signaling clearly that he plans to speak out about President Trump — and that it won’t be good news for the Big Orange Man. From CNN:

Michael Cohen, the President’s former fixer and ultimate loyalist, is sending a clear signal to President Donald Trump and his attorney, Rudy Giuliani, that “the truth is not you(r) or your client’s friend,” according to sources with knowledge of Cohen’s thinking.

Two sources familiar with Cohen’s thinking say he has “hit the reset button” and is continuing his commitment to speak the “real truth.”

In particular, the same sources say Giuliani is wading into dangerous territory when he asks Cohen to “tell the truth” about the Trump Tower meeting with Donald Trump Jr. and Russian meddling in the election.


► Republicans have a new message for the 2018 election that involves being sad that social media companies don’t tolerate fake right-wing news. Senator Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) tries on the tinfoil hat and finds that it fits quite nicely.



Get even more smarter after the jump…


Cory Gardner Joins Silicon Valley Conspiracy Theory

Sen. Cory Gardner (R).

As Politico’s Ashley Gold reports, Republicans are pushing a not-really-new conspiracy theory among their more persuadable base members that major social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook are systemically biased against conservatives:

Republicans are turning their grievances about biased tech companies into a rallying message for a difficult election year.

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy and RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel are among the GOP leaders vocally complaining about a host of Silicon Valley slights against conservatives, ranging from Facebook’s stripping of ad revenue from the video-blogging duo Diamond and Silk to a Google search result that paired the California GOP with “Nazism.”

…Conservative complaints about Silicon Valley have sprouted in the past year, echoing the frequent GOP accusations that a liberal news media and a pervasive bureaucratic “deep state” are conspiring against Trump’s agenda. But the anti-tech message appears to be accelerating as Republicans fight to fire up their base and counter a feared Democratic “blue wave” in November.

Meanwhile, tech executives are scrambling to prove they don’t harbor anti-conservative prejudice. Facebook has held at least two previously unreported meetings with conservative groups and digital experts since April, and it launched an audit of potential bias with the assistance of former Arizona Republican Sen. Jon Kyl and the law firm Covington & Burling.

Ever since social media networks were exploited by actors foreign and domestic to spread disinformation intended to disrupt the 2016 elections and support Donald Trump’s scorched-earth bid for the presidency, the big social media players have taken steps to crack down on both blatantly false content circulating on their platforms and foreign nationals using social media advertising to post election messages. It’s important to note that both sides in politics at least nominally support this kind of action.

But of course, the other side of this coin is inevitably going to be distrust in the “Silicon Valley liberals” who run these companies, not coincidentally by the same low-information social media users who were most susceptible to “fake news” to begin with. That the flavor of disinformation being targeted is almost all conservative-leaning disinformation doesn’t sit well with conservatives who never stopped believing.

The problem is, those are the same voters Republicans desperately need at the polls in November! So every Republican, even the “smart” ones who “know better,” is obliged to pander to the conspiracy theories:

Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), chairman of the National Republican Senate Committee, said conservatives are concerned about any “Silicon Valley organization that’s using people in Silicon Valley to filter speech.” [Pols emphasis]

Sorry, did you really think Cory Gardner was above this? Recall how in Gardner’s 2014 campaign for the U.S. Senate, Gardner shamelessly exploited baseless fears of an Ebola outbreak in the United States, a lie later singled out by Politifact as 2014’s Lie of the Year. Despite Gardner’s carefully crafted image as a grownup Republican, he manages to subsidize the worst misinformation of any given election cycle–and somehow gets away with it.

Let us be the ones to assure Sen. Gardner and anyone else reading: Facebook is not out to get conservatives. Also, some of the stuff you believe is crazy stupid Russian propaganda and that is not Facebook’s fault.

We don’t expect to convince anybody, but for the record.