A New, (Hopefully) Less Creepy ‘Stache Coming To Denver

The Glenwood Springs Post-Independent reports on the results of the Republican vacancy to replace Rep. Bob Rankin in House District 57, after Rankin was himself appointed to replace Sen. Randy Baumgardner in SD-8 following Baumgardner’s resignation in disgrace over serial sexual harassment allegations:

A Republican Party vacancy panel Tuesday appointed Perry Will of New Castle to fill the Colorado House District 57 seat vacated by now state Sen. Bob Rankin in January…

“I’m all about representing rural Colorado,” Will said in an interview Monday. “My entire life has been spent in small towns. I understand the issues with school funding, rural hospitals, roads and health insurance. I don’t want to see any rural areas of Colorado left out of anything,” he said.

Will said his 40 years with CPW and its predecessor the Division of Wildlife has given him a good knowledge of how state agencies work, not just with regards to wildlife, but from the perspective of water, conservation and agricultural interests.

Ex-Republican State Sen. Randy Baumgardner.

Much like the appointment of Rankin to Baumgardner’s SD-8 seat, Rep.-designate Perry Will has a background that suggests he’ll be a competent if rough-hewn representative in the House–especially by Republican standards, who in recent years have wanted greatly for candidates with a professional background suitable for leadership (sorry, Janak Joshi).

Will’s appointment to Rankin’s former House seat brings to a close a long and sordid period of uncertainty for Western Colorado residents, which began when now ex-Sen. Baumgardner was accused of multiple counts of sexual harassment against women who worked in the Colorado Capitol. Despite a scandalous attempt under former GOP majority leadership to conceal evidence affirming the allegations against Baumgardner in order to defeat a motion to expel him from the Senate, Baumgardner was ultimately bounced from all of his committee assignments last May–and chose to resign rather than face a likely renewed effort to expel him with the Senate under Democratic control.

Today, we can admit the truth. “The ‘stache” was the only thing we really ever liked about Randy Baumgardner.

So welcome to the General Assembly, Perry Will, and here’s to you taking the ‘stache back for the good guys.


Will Polis Let ‘Em Strike?

Gov. Jared Polis (D).

Colorado Public Radio’s Jenny Brundin reports as the standoff between the Denver Public Schools management and the Denver Classroom Teachers Association (DCTA) grinds on with no sign of rapprochement between the sides:

Gov. Jared Polis is making one last attempt to meet with both sides in Denver’s contentious teacher labor dispute and broker an agreement before the state decides whether it will intervene…

Colorado’s Department of Labor and Employment will decide whether or not to step in by Feb. 11. In the meantime the strike teachers voted for is on hold. If the state decides to intervene, it could postpone a strike for up to 180 days.

In a letter, the agency said a lack of meaningful dialogue, a fundamental disagreement over the facts and costs of competing proposals, and the reopening of negotiations last week that turned into “political theater at its worst,” all weigh heavily on the state’s decision.

In response, the teacher’s union insisted the state not get involved.

With negotiations between DPS management and the DCTA effectively stalled and teachers itching to get out on the picket line, there is undeniable pushback building over Gov. Jared Polis’ attempt to informally broker a compromise. The real deadline now is the one observed by the Department of Labor and Employment (CDLE), who will soon decide whether or not to order a six-month “cooling off period”–a decision that would buoy management’s negotiating position but greatly increase tensions between the teachers and the governor’s office.

As we said last week, all parties are watching closely to see how Gov. Polis navigates this situation, the first real political controversy of his brand-new administration. Polis campaigned with the strong support of organized labor in this state, but also has been a supporter of the sometimes-divisive education “reform” agenda that underlies the dispute between teachers and Denver Public Schools officials.

The only thing we can say for sure is that kids won’t get to play hooky either way.


Dulce Venganza: GOP Slobbers Selves On “Poll Tax” Ban Bill

Rep. Dave Williams (R).

We’ve been following the odd story of a piece of legislation introduced by Republican Rep. Dave Williams of Colorado Springs this session, usually one of the House’s more disagreeable GOP members. In just a few years, Rep. Williams has garnered himself a disproportionate amount FOX News face time with his high-dudgeon bashing of illegal immigrants, a controversial brand of “reverse identity politics” about which we’ve had a few less-than-positive things to say.

So far this year however, Rep. Williams has earned most of his media from a much less overtly controversial piece of legislation he introduced in response to a practice by Colorado Republicans of charging fees in order to serve as a delegate in the party’s county, district, and state-level assemblies. In this campaign Williams has found ready allies among Democrats, who do not charge any kind of equivalent fee–and as a result, Williams is successfully moving a bill through the Democratic-controlled General Assembly over the growing frustration of Williams’ Republican colleagues.

As the Grand Junction Sentinel’s Charles Ashby reports:

“I had a Denver GOP chair actually tell me on the phone that if you can’t afford fifty bucks, then ‘F’ you, I don’t want you in my party,” Williams said on the floor of the House. “That’s what I’m talking about. That’s the immoral nature of what’s been going on. I am pushing for this bill because it is immoral to force people to pay in order to play.”

Opponents of the bill, primarily Republicans, said the laws that require political parties to hold assemblies constitute an unfunded government mandate…

Rep. Larry Liston, R-Colorado Springs, said the fee is not a poll tax as some have argued, a view contrary to what GOP lawmakers often have said about various fees Democrats have imposed that Republicans have called a tax. [Pols emphasis]

We’re actually somewhat surprised to see Republicans persisting in their opposition to this bill after the initial round of press went very badly for them. The fact that there is no equivalent “fee” imposed by Democrats, who are nonetheless able to conduct their assembly process as the law requires without it, severely undercuts the contention that this change would “bankrupt the party.” If anything, that reinforces the argument that Republicans who need to make some changes–and some moral introspection too.

And it’s absolutely right–if Republicans want to bemoan the “Democratic sleight of hand” that has defined certain fees as something other than a tax in order to function under the strict language of the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights (TABOR), they ought to be consistent.


SOTU: Are You Even Going To Bother?

Coming at the nation fast in the wake of the most boring Super Bowl of our lifetimes, President Donald Trump is set to deliver the State of the Union address tonight, long delayed by the lengthiest federal government shutdown in history.

Generally speaking, the SOTU is a must-watch for every American with an interest in national politics, with supporters tuning in to be energized and opponents to lampoon. Today, though, there is a significant movement afoot on social media to boycott tonight’s speech, with the goal of making it the least-watched State of the Union address in modern history. The thinking is that this would make a choice dent in Trump’s prodigious ego.

A poll follows: what’s your evening looking like?

Do you plan to watch the 2019 State of the Union address?
If calamity strikes between now and then
Literally would rather pop my eyes out with a spoon
View Result

Coffman vs. Frazier For Aurora Mayor–Please Clap!

The Aurora Sentinel’s Kara Mason reports on what’s shaping up to be an epic contest between two battle-hardened Republican politicians, stepping up to reach for the prize of serving as the Mayor of Aurora…

Actually it’s just Mike Coffman, recently ousted from his seat in Congress versus Ryan Frazier, one of the state’s losing-est perennial also-ran Republican candidates:

Frazier, who served two consecutive terms as an at-large city council member for Aurora in the early 2000s and made a run for U.S. Senate in 2016 and for for the 7th Congressional District against Congressman Ed Perlmutter in 2010, is back at it, hoping to secure the chief city lawmaker position this year. He ran for mayor in 2011, losing by seven percentage points to former Mayor Steve Hogan, who died last year.

The Aurora politician, who owns his own consulting firm, kicked off his campaign Saturday at Bethel Eritrean Church with a room full of supporters who cheered when Frazier talked about “Aurora on the rise,” the candidate’s campaign slogan.

For ex-Rep. Coffman, serving as Mayor of a Denver suburb cannot reasonably be considered an advancement of his career. The best analogy we have is former Rep. Scott McInnis, whose dreams of being governor of Colorado were dashed in a plagiarism scandal, finding a second life in the much-diminished but still elected position of Mesa County Commissioner.

As for Ryan Frazier? Sure, serving as Mayor of Aurora would be a step up–if not in aspirations as a former congressional and U.S. Senate candidate, then in practical effect since Frazier never came close to winning any of those higher offices. It remains our considered opinion that Coffman is more damaged as a candidate for any office within the congressional district he just lost by double digits than conventional wisdom seems to indicate. On the other hand, Frazier has always come across as a politician in search of a constituency instead of a leader in his own right.

Who would win this matchup of mediocrity? If you have the inclination to ponder, we’re all ears.


Get More Smarter on Monday (February 4)

Let the record show that the New England Patriots officially killed the Super Bowl on Feb. 3, 2019; there was more drama during “The Puppy Bowl.” 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 still threatening that he might make an “emergency declaration” in order to build his great big border wall. But as the Washington Post reports, Senate Republicans are positively terrified because of what would happen next:

According to one of the country’s leading experts on national emergencies, it appears that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) can trigger a process that could require the GOP-controlled Senate to hold a vote on such a declaration by Trump — which would put Senate Republicans in a horrible political position.

Trump reiterated his threat to declare a national emergency in an interview with CBS News that aired over the weekend. “I don’t take anything off the table,” Trump said, adding in a typically mangled construction that he still retains the “alternative” of “national emergency.”

But Pelosi has recourse against such a declaration — and if she exercises it, Senate Republicans may have to vote on where they stand on it.

Senate Republicans would likely be forced to take a public position on an “emergency declaration,” which leaves them backed into a corner between a rock and a hard place:

…the Senate could vote not to consider that resolution or change its rules to avoid such a vote. But in those scenarios, the Senate would, in effect, be voting to greenlight Trump’s emergency declaration.



Politico answers your questions about the State of the Union speech, which President Trump is scheduled to deliver on Tuesday.


► Former Colorado House Speaker Andrew Romanoff is expected to enter the 2020 race for U.S. Senate, according to Ernest Luning of the publication formerly known as the Colorado Statesman. Romanoff kinda, sorta leaked his Senate plans in mid-December before  an associate walked it back on his behalf.

Romanoff unsuccessfully challenged Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Denver) for the Democratic Senate nomination in 2010; in 2014 he came up short against Republican Rep. Mike Coffman in CO-6. Former State Senator and 2018 gubernatorial candidate Mike Johnston announced his U.S. Senate bid last week.



Get even more smarter after the jump…



Everybody And Their Mother Calls On Ralph Northam To Resign

Today in career-ending yearbook photos.

9NEWS’ Jacob Rodriguez reports the local side of a national story that only ends one way:

Despite holding a press conference denying that he was in a controversial photo from his 1984 yearbook showing someone in blackface and someone in KKK attire, Colorado Democrats Sen. Michael Bennet and former Gov. John Hickenlooper have called on Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D-Virginia) to step down…

“This photo may not be the sum of who Ralph Northam is,” Hickenlooper wrote Friday night after the story broke, “but there’s no doubt, that the right thing for him to do as a leader is step down.”

Bennet, serving in Congress since 2009, did not mince words – and even pointed to who he’d like to get a shot in the governor’s chair.

“The photo is racist and despicable,” Bennet wrote Saturday morning. “Governor Northam should step down and allow his Lieutenant Governor, Justin Fairfax, to become the next Governor of Virginia.”

Basically every Democrat in America has now called on Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam to step down from his position and make way for the popular Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax, who happens to be African-American. Northam’s up-to-now failure to heed this overwhelming consensus is quickly making the transition from tragicomic to outrageous, and we’re hitting refresh in another browser tab as we write to make sure events don’t overtake our blog post.

And yes, lots of Republicans say Northam ought to resign as well.

Here’s to their newfound sense of decency.


Move Over, “Anus Granny”–Meet “Anus FISTING Granny”

Joan Poston.

The big if not altogether expected show this week in the Colorado legislature was Wednesday’s hearing in the House Health and Insurance Committee for House Bill 19-1032: a sex ed bill that requires schools who provide sex ed do so comprehensively and without discrimination. As we discussed on Thursday the testimony in this hearing went freakishly beyond the scope of the legislation, and descended into a 10-hour ordeal consisting mostly of homophobic churchgoers trying their darndest to gross each other out.

For many years, testimony on bills of this kind was highlighted by Rosina Kovar, who earned the nickname “Anus Granny” for her reliably over-the-top explicit characterizations of gay sex entered into the permanent legislative record. This year, although Kovar reportedly showed up to testify, by the time they called her name she had gone home for the night. But she needn’t have worried–in Kovar’s stead we have the testimony of Joan Poston, a defeated Republican House candidate who ran against Rep. Chris Kennedy in 2018. Poston’s three minutes of fame, moderated by the extremely patient committee chair Rep. Janet Buckner, were sufficiently non compos mentis that they deserve special recognition. Transcript of the above clip:

POSTON: Hello, my name is Joan Poston. I represent myself. I am a, um, scientist and I was a healthcare professional for 20 years with um, the city of Denver. I am, um, now retired. I um, when I saw this bill and I looked to see exactly what they were talking about when they said something was comprehensive and I said, I don’t know like I guess I’m going to have to go check my notes that I had when I went and had, um, training and when I worked at Eastside Health Center about um, sexually transmitted diseases, so I’m about to give you a couple of definitions.

Fisting. Fisting is when you take your fist and you shove it up somebody’s anus up to your wrist. But if you have somebody who is [UNINTELLIGIBLE] you can go up to your elbow. This is not a healthy and and it…

REP. BUCKNER: Um, Ma’am?


REP. BUCKNER: I can’t quite figure out where this is going…

POSTON: This is not a healthy relationship. This is actually…

REP. BUCKNER: Is this to the bill?

POSTON: Yes, because you are wanting comprehensive fact-based…

REP. BUCKNER: Experiential…

POSTON: Experiential. Yes. Um, I’ve got another one on rimming and I’ve got another one on golden showers, but I can actually move on to another topic if you’d like me to.

REP. BUCKNER: Um, I’ve read the bill and I’m not, I do not think this fits into the bill because we’re talking about comprehensive sex. Um…

POSTON: This is comprehensive sex…

REP. BUCKNER: Experiences.

POSTON: …And experiences with gay people.



POSTON: You know what, if you give me another minute…

REP. BUCKNER: I think, I think…in all…

POSTON: I will change the subject…

REP. BUCKNER: Well, in all…

POSTON: I will change out the subject and tell you that…

REP. BUCKNER: Um, wait a minute. Ms. Ms., uh…

POSTON: Ms. Poston.

REP. BUCKNER: I’m just trying to keep all the comments to the bill.

POSTON: Okay, so this next comment is to the bill and it is in a different form. So let’s redo this: the population of the gay lesbian and bisexual from the Center of Disease Control in 2014, 26.6% of adults identify as straight. 1.6% and identify as gay or lesbian. 0.7% identify as bisexual and 1.1 or something else. Not sure what but something else. So in Jeffco we have about, um, 64,500 children that are between the ages of, uh fourth grade and 12th. And That means that there are 2,000 students that would be identifying with this kind of sexual education and that is one student per 30.

REP. BUCKNER: Ms., Ms. Poston…

POSTON: Based on how, just one more thing–based on how much money is not in the school’s right now and how we have Denver public school teachers who are going to go out on strike…

REP. BUCKNER: Okay. This is not to the bill. I’m sorry. And your time is up.

POSTON: Thank you.

REP. BUCKNER: Next witness, please.

And with that, dear reader, “Anus Granny” has been dethroned! The transcript spells out Poston’s words, but it’s the glee in Poston’s voice that really tells the story. Suffice to say that proponents of accurate and non-biased sex ed are not the problem here, and there may be…an unmet need in the lives of its imaginative opponents.

That’s as much as we care to speculate, thanks.


Again, Who’s Afraid of the NRA?

NRA spokesperson Dana Loesch (top) and CEO Wayne LaPierre

As Roll Call’s Kate Ackley reports, the National Rifle Association (NRA), the leading political advocacy group for gun owners that has morphed into a much broader “movement conservative” organization closely aligned with the Republican Party, seems to be losing its fabled edge in the era of Donald Trump:

The influence of the National Rifle Association, the nation’s highest-profile Second Amendment-rights organization and a longtime powerhouse against gun-control laws, is showing signs of potential decline.

The NRA’s own tax forms show a dip in revenue. And even as the group, now under the leadership of new president Oliver North of Iran-Contra fame, continues to spend big money on federal lobbying and political campaigns, its opponents in the gun-control movement, after decades of ever more deadly mass shootings and seemingly random incidents of gun violence, have been on the rise…

The NRA has found itself ensnared in controversy in recent months, some of it stemming from the special counsel probe into foreign interference in the 2016 elections. The group had ties to Maria Butina, a Russian who pleaded guilty late last year to charges of conspiracy to act as a foreign agent. Whether the gun group has allowed foreign money to infiltrate its campaign coffers also may be under investigation, according to news reports. And it’s on the hot seat for possible campaign finance violations of improperly coordinating its independent campaign expenditures with candidates, after a report by the liberal magazine Mother Jones.

The NRA faces a combination of circumstances that aggregate into a real threat, if not to the organization’s long-term existence which seems assured, than certainly the organization’s once (pardon us) bulletproof sway among virtually all Republican lawmakers and no small number of Democrats. President Barack Obama’s victory in 2008 provoked a massive buying spree of firearms by (needlessly) panicked gun owners, and gun manufacturers obligingly plowed those profits right back into the NRA’s advocacy budget. But with Trump as President, the hype that motivated the frenzied buying of guns under Obama just doesn’t exist.

At the same time, the continuing and worsening toll of mass shooting events in the United States has forced the debate over guns outside the NRA’s strictly-enforced boundaries. Here in Colorado, public reaction to gun safety laws that led to recall campaigns against Democrats in 2013 would look very different now, after so many intervening mass shootings with body counts that dwarf the 2012 Aurora theater massacre.

Still another factor negatively impacting the NRA’s political strength is a perception among hardened gun-rights advocates that the NRA has gotten “soft” on the issue–a view eagerly promoted by Colorado’s own Dudley Brown, who wields great influence within the gun enthusiast community through his local and national front groups. The NRA’s recent broadening into multi-issue conservative advocacy was meant to counter this ebb in support, but it also has had the effect of driving politically neutral or even left of center supporters away.

For all of these reasons, it’s not a surprise to us that the NRA’s political relevance is on the wane. If the present trend of radicalization among gun owners continues, along with a growing movement in the United States for gun safety laws considerably tighter than the status quo today, it’s a trend that could continue. For intelligent gun-rights supporters, giving the Dudley Browns of the world more power to disrupt Republican election strategy like they did in 2018 is a disastrous prospect–but that is the trajectory today.


So Mike Coffman Wants To Be Aurora’s Mayor, Does He?

Ex-Rep. Mike Coffman (R).

The Aurora Sentinel’s Kara Mason makes official what’s been water-cooler discussion for some weeks now–Mike Coffman, fresh off his double-digit defeat in last year’s CD-6 race, is planning a run for Mayor of the City of Aurora:

Former Aurora Congressman Mike Coffman is in the race for Aurora mayor, the longtime Aurora resident’s spokeswoman confirmed to the Sentinel on Thursday. 

“I’m running because I know that I can bring my leadership, experience, and knowledge to the City of Aurora to address the challenges of affordable housing, transportation, and public safety,” Coffman said in a statement about his candidacy…

Coffman, who lost to Democrat Rep. Jason Crow in November, has been suspected of eyeing the seat, currently held by Mayor Bob LeGare. LeGare was appointed by city council members to be mayor when former Mayor Steve Hogan died last year.

LeGare said during the appointment process he would not run for the seat. 

As we’ve recounted in this space many times before and since his belated comeuppance last year, Rep. Mike Coffman started out as a hard-right Republican in the mold of his predecessor in Congress, notoriously anti-immigrant former VDARE board member Rep. Tom Tancredo. In 2011, Coffman’s district was redrawn to exclude arch-conservative southern Denver exurbs and include the urban and diverse heart of Aurora.

Redistricting and a near-defeat in 2012 forced Coffman to scramble to reinvent his Tancredo-style image, paying frequent lip service to a new moderate position on immigration while steadfastly supporting the GOP leadership in Congress who ensured no actual immigration reform would take place. After Donald Trump became President, Coffman attempted to triangulate off Trump’s controversial image–but in the end was forced into the party line on enough high-profile issues like the 2017 tax cut bill that his long streak of defying the district’s propensity to elect Democrats was ended by now-Rep. Jason Crow.

After his defeat last November, Coffman cast lame-duck votes that are certain to haunt him in any future bid for votes from the same constituents who just threw him out of office. Coffman voted against the Farm Bill, complaining that it didn’t go far enough to impose work requirements on food stamp recipients, and then voted for the funding bill that included Trump’s $5.7 billion in wall funding–a failed vote that led directly to the longest government shutdown in American history. These votes set back Coffman’s image reinvention considerably, widely interpreted as his true colors shining through with the pressure off.

In short, sure–Coffman has name recognition. But along with that name ID comes a hefty load of baggage from his decades-long political career, and especially events leading up to his crushing defeat at the hands of the same voters who would elect him Aurora Mayor. The liabilities that finally caught up with Coffman in 2018 have not gone away. And before anyone declares Coffman a favorite for Mayor of the most economically and culturally diverse city in Colorado, he has a great deal to answer for.


Mike Johnston Enters Race for U.S. Senate

Mike Johnston (center)

As had been expected, former State Senator and 2018 gubernatorial candidate Mike Johnston has joined the 2020 race for U.S. Senate.

The Denver Post had the official announcement this morning:

The 44-year-old father of three joins a growing list of Democrats competing for the chance to challenge Gardner in what is expected to be one of the most high profile and contentious Senate races in the country in 2020. Gardner, a first-term senator, is the only Republican to win a Senate, gubernatorial or presidential race in Colorado since 2008.

Johnston is not the first Democrat to enter the field for 2020, though his is the first name with any real chance of winning the Democratic nomination (sorry, Lorena Garcia, Trish Zornio, and Keith Pottratz). Plenty of other Democrats are also looking to squeeze into the 2020 clown car, including former House Speakers Andrew Romanoff and Crisanta Duran. Former Gov. John Hickenlooper is also regularly mentioned as a potential candidate, though it seems much more likely that Hick will stick to his Presidential aspirations in 2020.

Johnston wheezed to a third-place finish in last June’s Primary for Governor, so the big question for him is whether or not he’s already reached his political ceiling as a statewide politician. Johnston looks like a fine General Election candidate on paper, but can he make it to November? This is, after all, the same guy who pulled out of the caucus/assembly process altogether in 2018 after it became clear that he didn’t have a strong base of support among the Democratic base. As Corey Hutchins of the Colorado Independent wrote in April 2018:

Since March 6, Johnston has been showing up and giving speeches at county assemblies, but he hasn’t caught fire with the delegates to the extent that Kennedy and Polis have.

Johnston has long been packaged as an up-and-comer who takes a different approach to electoral politics; his 2018 campaign, however, managed to be both vanilla (“Frontier Fairness“!) and gimmicky at the same time. If his 2020 Senate kickoff is any indication, Johnston is still “turkey and Swiss on wheat.” From today’s Denver Post:

“I think one of the things that gives me a real advantage is people are looking for someone who represents Colorado,” Johnston told The Denver Post in announcing his run. “I’m a fluent Spanish speaker, and I’ve had a diverse set of experiences and jobs in all parts of Colorado.”

“He Speaks Spanish and He Likes Colorado” probably won’t end up on a yard sign anytime soon.

Nevertheless, Johnston could still be a formidable candidate because he has demonstrated an ability to raise serious money from donors all across the country. One of the main reasons that then-Rep. Cory Gardner was able to waltz into the 2014 Republican nomination for U.S. Senate was the complete inability of GOP candidates to raise significant funds for a viable campaign (See: Stephens, Amy).

Early money and a head start on other candidates are very real advantages for Johnston. Of course, Johnston had these same advantages in the 2018 gubernatorial race, and it only got him about 24% of the Democratic vote.


The Sad Spectacle Of Yesterday’s Sex Ed Hearing

UPDATE: Into the self-immolating spotlight steps, you guessed it, Rep. Lori Saine:

Here you have arguably Colorado’s most infamously shameful Republican, just days off her own national news ridicule for falsely claiming that “whites and blacks were lynched in nearly equal numbers,” complaining about “radical notions of sexuality and gender” and absurdly claiming that “Democrats are compounding their over-reach” by limiting testimony than in fact continued until nearly midnight! Even worse, the photo Saine is using (originally via House Minority Leader Patrick Neville’s front group Advancing Colorado) was taken from a totally unrelated and highly emotional floor speech by Rep. Buckner, recounting racism she personally endured during last year’s commemoration of Martin Luther King, Jr. in the House.

On a day full of small-minded outrages, Rep. Lori Saine manages to stand out. Again.


Packed hearing yesterday for HB19-1032.

The main event yesterday at the Colorado Capitol was a marathon hearing in the House Health and Insurance Committee that ran until almost midnight taking public testimony on a single bill: House Bill 19-1032, “concerning comprehensive human sexuality education.” Here’s the bill summary:

The bill clarifies content requirements for public schools that offer comprehensive human sexuality education and prohibits instruction from explicitly or implicitly teaching or endorsing religious ideology or sectarian tenets or doctrines, using shame-based or stigmatizing language or instructional tools, employing gender norms or gender stereotypes, or excluding the relational or sexual experiences of lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender individuals.

Conservative Republicans organized by Colorado Christian University’s Centennial Institute delivered an unexpectedly large crowd of witnesses to testify against this bill. After over 300 people (not a misprint) signed up to testify, committee chair Rep. Janet Buckner announced her intention to cut off testimony after seven and a half hours, but in the end testimony went on until just before midnight before the bill was finally advanced on a 7-4 party line vote.

In that time yesterday into early this morning, Democratic lawmakers on this committee were subjected to what we can only describe as the worst verbal abuse from witnesses we’ve perhaps ever seen–easily as bad as the invective from opponents of the gun safety bills passed in 2013, and offensive in a way that should trouble any but the most hardened bigot against LGBT people. Colorado Public Radio’s Bente Birkeland reports:



Cory Gardner Endorses Trump in 2020

Sen. Cory Gardner (right) departs Air Force One behind President Trump in 2018.

In the fall of 2016, back when it was still inconceivable to most people that Donald J. Trump might actually end up as the President of the United States, it wasn’t hard to find a Republican seeking distance between themselves and the Republican nominee for President. Media outlets often referred to these Republican politicians as “Never Trumpers.”

Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) was one of these “Never Trumpers.” Gardner called for Trump to drop out of the race for President following the release of the infamous “Access Hollywood.” Not only did Gardner pull his support of Trump — he didn’t even vote for him. Gardner has repeatedly said that he wrote in the name “Mike Pence” on his 2016 ballot rather than vote for Trump.

Naturally, Gardner has now formally endorsed President Trump for re-election in 2020.

As IJR.com reports, Gardner is completely onboard with a second term:

Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), another Republican senator who vocally opposed Trump in 2016, told IJR that he’s endorsing the president now because it’s the “right thing to do for Colorado.”

“Look, there are things here — look, I’ve made it very clear that where I agree with the president, we will agree or where I disagree, we will disagree,” Gardner told IJR. “But I’m going to fight like hell for Colorado, and we’ve done some good things for Colorado.

“I know what Kamala Harris and I know what Bernie Sanders will do to Colorado, and that’s why I’ll be supporting the president,” Gardner added.

Gardner called for Trump to step aside in 2016 and said the only way Republicans would defeat Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton “is with a new nominee that reflects the values of our country and our party.”

“I cannot and will not support someone who brags about degrading and assaulting women.”

— Sen. Cory Gardner, Oct. 8, 2016


Supporting the President in 2020 is “the right thing to do for Colorado.”

— Sen. Cory Gardner, Jan. 30, 2019

As we discussed on Tuesday, a new poll from Keating Research shows just how out-of-tune Trump and Gardner have become with Colorado voters; both politicians own an approval rating of just 39%. Gardner’s poll numbers in Colorado have been in the toilet since 2016, and even his base is leaving him; conservative columnists see right through Gardner’s attempts at appearing to be “bipartisan.”

When Gardner was shown departing Air Force One right behind President Trump in August 2018, he gave up any pretense of separation with Trump. Formally endorsing Trump’s re-election now is a bit odd, however, considering that we don’t yet know the results of the Mueller Investigation and Americans are still angry about the government shutdown. Gardner will now be expected to stand alongside Trump whenever the President campaigns in Colorado, which is a hell of an albatross for any politician.

Perhaps Gardner feels that he needs to make a public endorsement in order to stave off any potential primary opponents, because this move certainly won’t help him with a general electorate in Colorado.


Crow Calls BS On Trump’s Border Troops

Rep. Jason Crow (D-Aurora)

AP reports via the Aurora Sentinel:

The U.S. will be sending “several thousand” more American troops to the Mexican border to provide additional support to Homeland Security, Acting Defense Secretary Pat Shanahan said Tuesday, providing for the first time new estimates for the next phase of the military aid.

It’s a move that Aurora Congressman Jason Crow, a former Army Ranger, is calling part of a political agenda from the Trump Administration.

“I am concerned that our active duty military was deployed with an ill-defined mission that increasingly appears to shift to meet the White House’s narrative,” Crow said in a statement Tuesday. “Even more troubling, this deployment is seemingly at odds with testimony I just heard today from senior Department of Defense officials at today’s House Armed Services Committee hearing.”

More from Rep. Jason Crow’s statement yesterday:

Our military should never be used to advance a political agenda. Yet today we saw several thousand more troops deployed to the southern border, a decision driven by politicians and lacking a clear strategic plan from our national security leadership…

We need clear answers from the White House, from the Department of Defense, and the Department of Homeland Security regarding who is driving this mission. Those answers are paramount to making sure we are responsibly using our military and respecting the burden this places on our service members and their families.

Crow’s statement notably lacks the mealy-mouthed equivocation that typified the objections of his predecessor Rep. Mike Coffman to Donald Trump’s various misdeeds. In particular, Coffman was pinned for his last two years in office between his partisan obligation to support the Republican President, and preserving the veneer of “reinvention” on issues like immigration which allowed Coffman to survive in a district that has elected Democrats above and below Coffman on the ballot consistently since 2012.

Now that voters in CD-6 have resolved the political anomaly that was Mike Coffman, they finally have a representative who can, as the saying goes, dispense with the pleasantries.


Get More Smarter on Wednesday (January 30)

At least you don’t live anywhere East of Kansas, where temperatures are cooler than a penguin’s refrigerator. Let’s warm up with “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 taking another crap on U.S. Intelligence agencies, as the Washington Post reports:

President Trump lashed out at U.S. intelligence officials Wednesday, calling them “extremely passive and naive” about the nuclear danger posed by Iran and pushing back on their assessments of the Islamic State and North Korea during a congressional hearing.

In tweets, Trump offered what amounted to a rebuttal of testimony on an array of global threats provided to the Senate on Tuesday by a panel of top officials from his administration.

Trump was most pointed in his pushback on the assessment of Iran. During testimony, officials said that Iran was not trying to build a nuclear weapon and was in compliance with an agreement forged during the Obama administration from which Trump subsequently withdrew the United States…

…“Perhaps Intelligence should go back to school!” the president added.

Panelists at the Senate hearing included Director of National Intelligence Daniel Coats, CIA Director Gina Haspel, and FBI Director Christopher A. Wray, so this wasn’t exactly the “C” team doing the talking.


► According to a new poll of Colorado voters, most people don’t support a border wall, President Trump, or Sen. Cory Gardner.

As Politico notes in a new poll about another potential government shutdown, voters have no appetite to support President Trump’s threats:

Only 31 percent of voters support shutting the government down again to force Congress to appropriate money for the wall, while nearly twice that many, 58 percent, oppose another shutdown. If the government does shut down again, a combined 54 percent would blame Trump and congressional Republicans, while just 33 percent would blame Democrats in Congress.

Trump has suggested that he could declare a “national emergency” to avert a shutdown but still build the wall — but that, too, is unpopular. A narrow, 51 percent majority opposes declaring an emergency, which is supported by 38 percent.


► Contract negotiations between Denver Public Schools and the teacher’s union are expected to resume on Thursday.



Get even more smarter after the jump…



Keating/OnSight Poll: Trump Sucks, The Wall Sucks, Gardner Sucks

Sen. Cory Gardner (R).

A new poll from Keating Research of Colorado voters shows about what you’d expect the January after a wave Democratic election with nothing in the interim to boost Republican fortunes–continued low favorability for both President Donald Trump and Colorado’s highest-ranking Republican Sen. Cory Gardner, and little appetite for the Republican agenda generally:

Colorado voters remain unimpressed with Donald Trump, with majorities blaming him for the government shutdown and opposing plans to spend $5.6 billion for a wall on the southern border with Mexico, according to results of the latest Keating Research-OnSight Public Affairs poll released today.

In a survey of 500 active Colorado voters, Trump was viewed unfavorably by 60% of respondents. Trump’s low favorability with Colorado voters — 39 percent — is identical to that of Republican U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner. Both Trump and Gardner are up for re-election in 2020.

Both Trump and Gardner clock in a favorability that spells big problems for either of them here in 2020. In Trump’s case, locked-in unfavorability is much higher than Gardner’s 43%, but still underwater–and with Trump likely at the top of the ticket with Gardner in 2020, it’s collateral damage Gardner is likely to suffer. 58% of respondents oppose the construction of Trump’s wall, and 53% blame Trump for the recently-ended shutdown.

“Having seen Republicans in Colorado washed away at all levels by the midterm blue wave, Senator Gardner has been frantically trying to move to the middle. But it’s likely too little too late given the advantages Democrats will have in Colorado in a presidential election year and the Trump anchor around his legs,” said Curtis Hubbard of OnSight Public Affairs.

Difficult to argue with that assessment. Here are your toplines and crosstabs.