Kevin McCarthy’s Speaker Bid: The 15th Time’s A Charm

UPDATE #9: After 15 rounds of voting, Kevin McCarthy will barely become the next Speaker of the House with the final six “Never Kevins” including Rep. Lauren Boebert voting “present.”


UPDATE #8: The U.S. House floor erupts in chaos as the 14th vote for Speaker comes down to two intransigent members, one of which is Colorado’s Rep. Lauren Boebert:

Just wow. Stay tuned.


UPDATE #7: In the 14th round of balloting, Rep. Lauren Boebert waves the white flag and votes “present.”


UPDATE #6: The House of Representatives adjourns until 8:00 pm (MST).


UPDATE #5: Via The Washington Post, Colorado Republican Rep-elect Ken Buck finds himself in a rare position of being useful:


Via The Washington Post


Buck returned to Colorado on Thursday for what his office has called a “non-emergency planned medical procedure.”



UPDATE #4: Lucky Vote #13 will fail as Rep. Lauren Boebert obstinately votes with Rep. Matt Gaetz for Rep. Jim Jordan.



UPDATE #3: Kentucky Republican Rep-elect James Comer formally nominates Kevin McCarthy as House Speaker, so we’re off and running with Round 13.



UPDATE #2: Kevin McCarthy will lose the twelfth ballot for Speaker, though by a smaller margin as last night’s dealmaking appears to have flipped some members of the “Never Kevin” coalition.

McCarthy finishes Round 12 with 214 votes, marking the first time that he has gained votes in successive rounds.



UPDATE: As the twelfth round of balloting gets underway, Rep. Matt “Giggity” Gaetz returns to Rep. Jim “Gym” Jordan of Ohio for his next Speaker nomination. Rep. Lauren Boebert renominates Rep. “Alt-Kevin” Hern.




MSNBC’s Stephanie Ruhle nonverbally speaks for all of us. Day Four of Kevin McCarthy’s showdown with the monsters he helped create gavels in at 10:00AM Mountain:



Updates will follow. It’s the only game in town.

McCarthy Fails on Ballot #11; Congress Inches Toward Record

UPDATE #10: McCarthy failed yet again in an 11th round of voting. House members then agreed to recess until Noon EST on Friday.


UPDATE #9: Kevin McCarthy finished the 10th round of voting in pretty much the same position as he started. Republicans are talking about trying to recess until Tuesday, though Democrats are pushing back (as they should). Every day of this debacle is another lost day where the Legislative Branch of the government isn’t functioning.


UPDATE #8: Make it an even 10!

Arizona Republican Rep-Elect Juan Ciscomani nominates Kevin McCarthy for House Speaker. For the 10th time.

This is now the longest Speaker’s race since 1859.


UPDATE #7: Nine rounds of voting have now concluded. Still no Speaker.



UPDATE #6: Round 9? Round 9.



UPDATE #5: Kevin McCarthy loses the eighth round.


UPDATE #4: In the eighth vote, currently underway, Rep. Lauren Boebert switches her vote to Rep. Kevin Hern of Oklahoma–briefly sparking a stir when the name “Kevin” was heard before it was realized she wasn’t talking about that Kevin.


UPDATE #3: Always keen to milk a little extra press out of the spectacle, Rep. Matt “Giggity” Gaetz of Florida switches his vote to Donald Trump for the speakership.


UPDATE #2: Rep. Lauren Boebert votes for Rep. Byron Donalds in the seventh vote, which appears on track for a seventh failure for Kevin McCarthy. Rep. Ken Buck despite his contradictory statements votes for McCarthy one more time.


UPDATE: Freshman Rep-elect John James of Michigan nominates Kevin McCarthy for Speaker to kick off Vote #7. North Carolina Republican Rep-elect Dan Bishop then rises to nominate Florida Republican Byron Donalds as Speaker (again) before promptly accusing Republicans of being racist for not supporting Donalds.

Things are going great for the GOP.


Watch the train wreck in live slow motion (that’s the speed of live), and stand by for updates:


Get More Smarter on Thursday (Jan. 5)

Believe it or not, there are other political stories not related to the GOP’s persistent inability to select a House Speaker. Let’s 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 an audio learner, check out The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter.




Congressional Thunderdome got underway on Thursday at 10:00 with Republican Rep-elect John James of Michigan (first elected in November) nominating Kevin McCarthy for House Speaker. CLICK HERE to keep up with our updates, starting with vote #7.

A desperate McCarthy made new concessions to right-wing holdouts on Wednesday evening. As The Washington Post reports:

McCarthy has made fresh concessions to a group of 20 GOP lawmakers in hopes of ending their blockade of his speakership ahead of votes Thursday, a stunning reversal that, if adopted, would weaken the position of speaker and ensure a tenuous hold on the job.

During late-hour negotiations Wednesday, McCarthy (R-Calif.) agreed to the proposed rule changes, according to four people familiar with the talks who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss private deliberations.

In a major allowance to the hard-right Republicans, McCarthy offered to lower from five to one the number of members required to sponsor a resolution to force a vote on ousting the speaker — a change that the California Republican had previously said he would not accept.

McCarthy also expressed a willingness to place more members of the staunchly conservative House Freedom Caucus on the House Rules Committee, which debates legislation before it’s moved to the floor.

To track the votes on a member-by-member basis, check out this handy guide from The New York Times.


Colorado Rep-elect Lauren Boebert rose to nominate Florida Republican Rep-elect Byron Donalds on Wednesday, kicking former President Donald Trump in the nuts in the process. As POLITICO explains:

It was the second day of chaos on the floor of the House of Representatives when Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.) took the previously unthinkable step of thumbing her nose at Donald Trump, the ex-president she otherwise venerates.

“Let’s stop with the campaign smears and tactics to get people to turn against us — even having my favorite president call us and tell us to knock this off. I think it actually needs to be reversed and the [former] president needs to tell Kevin McCarthy you do not have the votes and it’s time to withdraw,” Boebert said. “Ooo”s from Democrats could be heard from the chamber.

The inability of McCarthy to secure the needed votes to be House Speaker — despite six tries at doing so — represents a unique failure on his part. But it has also called into question the extent of Trump’s own power to shape the party in his image, coming at a time when some Republicans have openly soured on his current run for the presidency.

Boebert is clearly enjoying her role as potential spoiler, telling reporters that there is NOTHING McCarthy can do to get her vote for Speaker. Boebert is also she’s getting hammered by right-wing McCarthy supporters — including Sean Hannity of Fox News and former Trump cabinet member Ryan Zinke:


Colorado’s other Republican Members of Congress are diverging in different ways. Colorado Springs Republican Doug Lamborn has steadfastly voted for McCarthy, as has Greeley’s Ken Buck

…but Buck has offered several conflicting answers on what might happen to end this circus. Shaun Boyd of CBS4 Denver somehow managed to put together a story with AN INACCURATE INTERVIEW from Buck’s own mouth.


Colorado lawmakers kick off their legislative session next week; they’ll be able to get right to work because there is no confusion about who will be House Speaker (Julie McCluskie). As Seth Klamann reports for The Denver Post reports, rent control could be front-and-center:

For years, the idea of rent control in Colorado simmered at a low temperature. Advocacy groups have pushed for it, some lawmakers have nudged at it, but there was no broad political movement to cap rising rents.

Even as Minneapolis, St. Paul and the state of Oregon have enacted or are considering policies capping how much rent can be raised in a given year, Colorado has eschewed it. When one lawmaker proposed limited rent protections for mobile home residents last year, Gov. Jared Polis threatened to veto it. A state law, on the books for more than 40 years, prohibits local governments from enacting any form of rent caps.

“It’s important to remember — this housing crisis we’re in right now, this affordability crisis, it’s actually a very new thing,” said Brian Connolly, a lawyer who works in land use policy and has taught at the University of Colorado law school. “Even five years ago, there was such little conversation — even though it was a problem — so little conversation about housing affordability and how we address this.”

The problem is not what it was five years ago. The housing crisis in Colorado has come to a head, several state and local officials say, prompting broader conversations about how to address it. The lessons of the pandemic — which required tens of millions of dollars of federal intervention to stave off mass evictions — and broader questions about the state’s role in addressing a statewide problem have reframed the housing debate.

Rent for Denver apartments increased more than 14% between 2021 and 2022, according to one survey. Another found that suburban rents had jumped 25% on average since the pandemic began.

This discussion also touches on local control issues; cities and counties aren’t thrilled at the idea of the state government dictating their housing policies.

The Colorado Sun has more to discuss in its preview of the upcoming legislative session.


Click below to keep learning things…



Will The Real Ken Buck Please Stand Up?

Rep. Ken Buck (R).

Throughout the stalemate in the U.S. House over the selection of the next Speaker of the House that has dominated national political news all week, Rep. Ken Buck of Colorado has become increasingly vocal about the dilemma faced by would-be Speaker Kevin McCarthy. Although Rep. Buck has voted for McCarthy in each of the six rounds of balloting so far, Buck has made no secret of his growing consternation, telling almost everyone who asks that McCarthy is quickly running out of time and support. Jeff Rice reports for the Sterling Journal-Advocate, a Buck-friendly publication in his district:

Buck told CNN on Wednesday that he had talked with McCarthy and with Rep. Steven Scalise of Louisiana about the possibility of McCarthy stepping aside to see whether Scalise, the No. 2 Republican in the House, could garner the votes needed to win the Speaker’s chair.

Buck told CNN’s Jake tapper on Wednesday that he can no longer support McCarthy because it’s become clear the California Republican cannot break the deadlock that Boebert and her cohorts have caused.

“Kevin McCarthy, I think, will make the decision at some point and what’s going to happen and what should happen sooner rather than later, is some of the senior members, some the cardinals on appropriations and the committee chairman and some of the other folks who have been here a long time, have supported Kevin are going to have to have that private conversation with him that this doesn’t make sense and we need to move forward,” Buck said.


“I’ve had a number of conversations with Kevin, and I basically told him at some point this needs to break loose,” Buck said in the interview. “He either needs to make a deal to bring the 19 or 20 over, or he needs to step aside to give somebody the chance to do that.

“I don’t know what that timeframe is, but it makes sense that at some point today we’re able to move forward in a way that we elect a speaker,” Buck continued…

Buck suggested Louisiana Rep. Steve Scalise is “next in line” if progress can’t be made on McCarthy’s bid to lead the House.

Listening to Rep. Buck on CNN, you would certainly agree with the growing consensus that McCarthy’s bid for the speakership is damaged beyond repair. The problem is, Buck basically contradicted all of this in a story last night from CBS4 Denver’s notoriously slanted political reporter Shaun “Furry Panic” Boyd:

Rep. Ken Buck, a Republican who represents Colorado’s 4th Congressional District, says the Republican Party will emerge stronger from a standoff at the nation’s capitol over who should be the next Speaker of the House.

Buck says McCarthy’s opponents aren’t cohesive – some want rule changes, others want policy commitments – and they keep changing their demands.

“You got 20 people dissenting at this point and they have 20 different reasons,” Buck said. “They were voting for Jim Jordan and Jim Jordan was voting for Kevin McCarthy, and that didn’t make sense to anybody. So they nominated Byron Donalds, who was voting for himself, so it made a little bit more sense.”

Buck believes McCarthy will ultimately prevail… [Pols emphasis]

The interview that Buck gave to Shaun Boyd is so far removed from what Buck told CNN that’s it’s almost impossible to believe it was same person talking. We assume this was done for the purpose of giving Buck cover after contributing significantly to McCarthy’s deteriorating position in Buck’s CNN interview. But it takes a shamelessly credulous reporter like Shaun Boyd to write this story knowing–or at least who should have known–what Buck was telling literally everyone else.

As for Ken Buck, never assume he’s telling you anything except what he thinks you want to hear.

Still No House Speaker After Six Rounds of Voting

UPDATE #13: After a brief gavel-in, the leaderless U.S. House is in recess until noon Eastern tomorrow.


UPDATE #12: The GOP circus is officially in recess until 8:00 pm EST.


UPDATE #11: Kevin McCarthy fails on Ballot #6 with the same number of Republicans (21) refusing to support his candidacy.

House Republicans reportedly want to take a break from bashing their foreheads against a wall:


“The Daily Show” wins the Internet for today:


UPDATE #10: After five failed ballots, it’s less a question of which side blinks first, since nobody is blinking–but rather how much more humiliation Kevin McCarthy can take:


UPDATE #9: And…McCarthy will fail on Ballot #5.


UPDATE #8: Colorado Rep-elect Lauren Boebert rises to nominate Byron Donalds for House Speaker. She has a lot of grievances with Kevin McCarthy, apparently.

Boebert says the job of the House is not to “go along to get along” and calls on McCarthy to withdraw his name for consideration. This is how Boebert “turns down the temperature” in a toxic partisan swamp.


UPDATE #7: Democratic Rep-elect Pete Aguilar nominates Hakim Jeffries again, noting that Jeffries has been the top vote-getter in the last three rounds of voting. That’s gotta sting.


UPDATE #6: Republican Rep-elect Warren Davidson of Ohio nominates Kevin McCarthy to be House Speaker, kicking off Round 5 of Congressional Thunderdome.


UPDATE #5: Gah!


UPDATE #4: We have our first “present” vote — Indiana Republican Rep-elect Victoria Spartz (who was previously a McCarthy vote). Round 4 is complete.

In the third Speaker vote on Tuesday, 20 Republicans voted against Kevin McCarthy for Speaker — one more than the 19 who had picked someone else in the first two rounds of voting.

Last night, former President Donald Trump endorsed McCarthy for House Speaker. Today, 21 Republicans voted for someone other than McCarthy.

Trump’s endorsement is now a net negative for Republicans.


UPDATE #3: Welp, that didn’t take long. We didn’t even get through the ‘C’s in the alphabet before McCarthy’s hopes were dashed again.


UPDATE #2: Colorado Rep-elect Lauren Boebert votes for Byron Donalds. Colorado Rep-elect Ken Buck goes with Kevin McCarthy, as does the corpse of Doug Lamborn.

Boebert voted for Rep-elect Jim Jordan of Ohio three times on Tuesday. Buck and Lamborn have stuck with McCarthy.


UPDATE: Rep-elect Mike Gallagher of Wisconsin opens the day by nominating Kevin McCarthy for House Speaker (again). Gallagher starts with a lame speech about how “Democracy is messy” and how it is just really neat that they can have disagreements in Congress.

Texas Republican Rep-elect Chip Roy then rises and nominates Florida Republican Rep-elect Byron Donalds as Speaker. Donalds was first elected to Congress in 2020.

It looks like today is going to go about the same as it did on Tuesday.


The microphone tells the story for Kevin McCarthy

So, uh, now what?

The House of Representatives reconvenes today (click here to watch live) without a House Speaker and with every member in the chamber still carrying the title of “Rep-elect” because they haven’t yet been officially sworn in to office. Republican Rep-elect Kevin McCarthy failed on Tuesday to secure enough votes to become House Speaker…not once, not twice, but thrice.

As Charlie Sykes writes for The Bulwark, McCarthy suffered a “hat trick of humiliation” on Tuesday:

Historians should note that the party that lost control of the House brought popcorn to the ceremony. The party that “won” blew itself up. And then did it again. And again. And then left for a night of pizza, bitterness, and recriminations. Meanwhile, the MAGA crackup accelerated as crackpots fought with nihilists, wingnuts pointed fingers at extremists, and grifters started slap-fights with one another.

This isn’t just about the embarrassing chaos that Republicans have inflicted on themselves, because as Philip Bump explains for The Washington Post, the entire chamber is in limbo:

A report from the endlessly useful Congressional Research Service explains the chain of events that usually leads to the swearing-in of members of the House. First, the House convenes (at noon on Jan. 3, unless the prior Congress changes things). There’s no clerk of the House yet, so the clerk of the preceding Congress checks that there’s a quorum — meaning that at least half of the full body is present. Then, the chamber votes on a speaker, itself a role defined in the Constitution. The speaker is sworn in.

The speaker then swears in the members-elect. That happens en masse on the House floor, but photographs are banned; the photos you see of new members posing with the speaker are ceremonial, souvenirs.

You can see the problem. On Tuesday, after three votes, the House had failed to select a speaker. Without a speaker, there was no administration of the oath to the new members. So they wait at the starting line, “runners” instead of runners. Or, to use the proper vernacular, members-elect instead of members.

Rep-elect Brittany Pettersen

Former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has called for all members to be sworn-in to office so that friends and family in Washington D.C. for the event can go back to their own lives. All of Colorado’s elected Representatives — including its two newest members, Democrats Brittany Pettersen and Yadira Caraveo — are still waiting to be officially inducted as members of the new Congress. But it’s not clear if this can take place without an election for Speaker.

In short, the lower chamber is effectively paralyzed until somebody is selected to hold the gavel.

We will update this space throughout the day as we did on Tuesday.

Boebert Helps Foil Kevin McCarthy’s Hopes of First Ballot Victory

UPDATE #9: Rep. Ken Buck, who was good enough to show up to work today, warns after three failed ballots that Kevin McCarthy is more likely to lose support in successive rounds of voting than turn things around:


UPDATE #8: Rep. Joe Neguse revels in the schadenfreude as Kevin McCarthy loses a third round of balloting, with Rep. Lauren Boebert and the “Never Kevins” seeing no reason whatsoever to budge:


UPDATE #7: For round three, Rep. Steve Scalise nominated Kevin McCarthy. Colorado Rep. Lauren Boebert still voted again for Jim Jordan.


UPDATE #6: Via The Washington Post, here are the Republican opponents of McCarthy:


Meanwhile, McCarthy is reportedly playing a game of “chicken” with his opponents to see which side will fold first. We can’t see Rep. Lauren Boebert changing her mind — it’s too much fun for her to be on this list.


UPDATE #5: There will be a THIRD vote for House Speaker. Colorado Rep. Lauren Boebert is among those who voted for Rep. Jim Jordan instead of Kevin McCarthy.

This is shaping up to be a loooonnggg day.


UPDATE #4:  Kevin McCarthy will lose the first ballot for Speaker of the House, the first such humiliation for an incoming majority in exactly 100 years.



UPDATE #3: Declaring that Kevin McCarthy is “taking the path of Nancy Pelosi” (whatever that means), Rep. Lauren Boebert casts her vote for Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio.


UPDATE #2: Looks like Colorado Rep. Ken Buck is throwing in with the nutball caucus. Here he is sitting with Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz earlier today:

Rep. Ken Buck (left) and Matt “Giggity” Gaetz



UPDATE: As expected, the new Republican “majority” in Congress is off to a bad start.


This headline from The Atlantic got us thinking about a poll idea, so please weigh in below.

What's the Deal With House Republicans?

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Race for State GOP Chair More Muddled than Ever

Weld County Sheriff Steve Reams (R-MGO) may have made the best decision of his political career.

As The Colorado Sun reports in its “Unaffiliated” newsletter, a potential top candidate for State Republican Party Chairperson has decided to remove his name from consideration:

Weld County Sheriff Steve Reams says he has decided not to make a bid to chair the Colorado GOP.

“I have some family milestones that I want to focus on,” he told The Unaffiliated, “and the effort needed to bring the factions in the party together is going to require more attention than I could provide.” [Pols emphasis]

Reams said he is “not supporting any candidate at this time.”

The background: Reams told us last month he was leaning toward making a bid to lead the Colorado Republican Party because he felt he had a good shot of uniting the fractured GOP. He still has four more years as sheriff, however, and he wasn’t sure if he could do both jobs at the same time.

As the Sun notes, Reams was sounding very much like a candidate for Chair just a few weeks ago, though how that would have made sense given his full-time job as Weld County Sheriff was not clear. Colorado Republicans tried this route in 2020 when Congressman Ken Buck tried (and failed) to do two jobs at the same time.

Casper Stockham

So who might be willing to take control of the State GOP now that the disastrous term of Kristi Burton Brown has come to an end? The list of candidates is neither long nor impressive.

Former Republican gubernatorial candidate Greg Lopez says he is “actively evaluating” a campaign for GOP Chair, and former Chair Dick Wadhams has been pushing the idea of Holly Osborn Horn — who ran John Kellner’s failed campaign for Attorney General in 2022. The “Boot Barn” faction of the GOP lists Aaron Wood and Vicki Tonkins as candidates on its website. Wood is the organizer of a group called “Freedom Fathers,” while Tonkins is a longtime fixture in the El Paso County Republican Party who might well be the worst possible option for Colorado Republicans.

Oh, and perpetual (losing) candidate Casper Stockham is also running. If Stockham can somehow end up being the only candidate on the ballot, he’ll have a 50-50 chance of winning.

Republicans won’t elect a new State Party Chairperson until March, but by this point in 2021 there were already several full-scale campaigns underway (including those of Burton Brown and former Secretary of State Scott Gessler). The lack of movement as of today is an ominous sign for a Republican Party in desperate need of adult supervision after the 2022 Bluenami wiped out virtually every candidate with an ‘R’ next to their name.

It’s hard not to notice the parallel with this GOP problem and the circus in Congress over the normally-perfunctory vote to elect a new House Speaker. Whether in Colorado or Washington D.C., Republicans can’t seem to get out of their own way.

The Last Get More Smarter Podcast of 2022 (In 2023)

Yes, we know it’s now 2023, but this week on the Get More Smarter Podcast, your hosts Jason Bane and Ian Silverii discuss the last of the big political stories of the year that was.

We talk about the new Congress and whether Republicans will ever settle on a new House Speaker — a mess that involves Colorado Rep. Lauren Boebert. We also discuss the Colorado Republican Party now that it officially needs a new Chairperson; the relative level of demise for Donald Trump; and Colorado’s version of New York Congressman-elect and master liar George Santos.

Listen to previous episodes of The Get More Smarter Podcast at

Questions? Comments? Complaints? Let us have it at Or send emails to or

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

Top Ten Stories of 2022 #9: Temporary Relief For Abortion Rights

Colorado GOP chair and lifelong anti-abortion activist Kristi Burton Brown.

Just one of several convergent storylines around the issue of abortion rights that we’ll be discussing in our ongoing recap of the top stories in Colorado politics for 2022 is the legislation passed this year by the Colorado General Assembly expressly codifying abortion rights into statute. This legislation was forced by the widely-expected and since-fulfilled promise kept by the new 6-3 right-wing U.S. Supreme Court to strike down the landmark Roe v. Wade ruling that guaranteed abortion rights nationwide for decades.

As the Denver Post’s Alex Burness reported in March, the minority Republican caucus in the Colorado House employed every obstructionist parliamentary trick in the book to slow the inevitable passage of the Reproductive Health Equity Act to a crawl:

Colorado Republicans cannot stop the Democrats from passing a bill codifying the right to abortion in state law.

But they can sure stretch it out.

A debate in the House of Representatives on HB22-1279, the Reproductive Health Equity Act, began at 10:53 a.m. Friday and concluded with a preliminary voice vote at 10:18 a.m. Saturday. After that vote the House Democrats moved to kill some final, unsuccessful GOP amendment proposals, before lawmakers and Capitol staff could leave the building at last.

Roughly one full day in length, this is thought to have been the longest debate in this Capitol in at least 25 years.

Despite dogged Republican resistance in the House that extended the debate over RHEA all night Friday and well into the following Saturday morning, the hard-right faction of the GOP caucus nonetheless raged that then-Minority Leader Hugh McKean wasn’t doing enough to obstruct passage of the bill–at one point reportedly having an off-camera belly-bumping incident with fellow Republican Rep. Shane Sandridge. But as the old saying goes, the minority gets their say and the majority in the end gets their way. In the end the bill passed like it was always going to, and the Republican resistance to passing RHEA only further alienated Republicans from voters energized by the issue following Roe’s repeal later last year.

The imperilment of abortion rights by the U.S. Supreme Court by repealing Roe v. Wade has been a central plank in the Republican Party’s platform for so long that there was no real way for Republicans to maneuver around the issue, as Colorado’s “personally very pro life” U.S. Senate candidate Joe O’Dea discovered when he tried and spectacularly failed to muddy up the issue enough to nullify it Cory Gardner style. But O’Dea’s feints on abortion never squared with the explicit position of outgoing Colorado Republican Party chair and lifetime anti-abortion zealot Kristi Burton Brown. Gubernatorial candidate Hiedi Heidi Ganahl assailed Colorado’s Reproductive Health Equity Act and vowed to repeal it. O’Dea also slammed RHEA during and after the primary as “too extreme,” part of his ill-fated attempt to anoint himself as the candidate who “brings balance to women’s rights.”

As we know now and will explore further as we get into O’Dea’s race in detail, Colorado Republicans like their national counterparts catastrophically misread the mood of voters following the repeal of Roe v. Wade. Voters were not interested in hearing why Colorado’s abortion rights bill was “too extreme,” they wanted to punish Republicans who put abortion rights in danger to begin with. It’s not like Kristi Burton Brown could have concealed her glee over the Supreme Court’s decision, but the fierce (not to mention dreadfully factually challenged) opposition to Colorado’s abortion rights bill set our local Republicans up to take the full wrath of voters who have rejected abortion bans over and over.

Although RHEA is now statute in Colorado, the fight isn’t over here to ensure that reproductive rights are not a single election away from being under direct threat in a post-Roe America. The same rights protected in RHEA should next become constitutional protections via a statewide vote–and unlike Republican ballot measure campaigns to ban abortion, it won’t be a measure that burns its supporters politically.

Abortion has never been a winning issue for Colorado Republicans, and now that they’ve gotten what they’ve always wanted in Roe’s repeal, they only have more to lose.

They Love “Luhansk Lauren” In Moscow


Rep. Lauren Boebert (R) featured on Russian state television.

Barely re-elected Rep. Lauren Boebert received the usual headline-making scorn she cannot distinguish from praise last week after publicly dissing Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky during Zelensky’s address to Congress. Joining with Rep. Matt Gaetz to ostentatiously sit out repeated standing ovations for Zelensky while scrolling on their phones, Boebert announced afterward that she would be a no on any future aid to Ukraine in their defense against the ongoing Russian invasion.

As Newsweek reported yesterday, the Motherland is grateful for the sympathy:

Representatives Lauren Boebert and Matt Gaetz have been praised on Russian state TV after they refused to clap and join a standing ovation for Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky in Congress last week.

In a clip shared by Russian Media Monitor—an independent project monitoring Russian news media—TV host and Kremlin propagandist Dmitry Kiselyov reported on Zelensky’s unannounced visit to Washington on December 21 with a focus on the Republican figures that have greeted the Ukrainian leader with skepticism: Boebert, Gaetz and Fox News host Tucker Carlson…

“Congress members Gaetz and Boebert didn’t clap,” Kiselyov said. “They demonstratively remained seated and didn’t jump up. You can feel the fatigue in Washington over the boundless aid to Ukraine.”

Jane Fonda in Hanoi, 1972. Any resemblance to current events is unintended and coincidental.

If you’re a Russian propagandist, definitely you want to encourage a sense of “fatigue” over American support for Ukraine, a nation that has defied all the predictions made early in the war and doggedly held on against Russian aggression. But unfortunately for Vladimir Putin and Lauren Boebert, that’s not what the polls say:

A Reuters/Ipsos poll in October found that 73 percent of Americans — including 81 percent of Democrats and 66 percent of Republicans — favor continued U.S. support for Ukraine against Russia.

This tracks with a poll from the Chicago Council of Foreign Affairs conducted in November. It found 65 percent of Americans support continuing to support Ukraine with arms, 66 percent support continuing economic aid and 75 percent favor continuing sanctions on Russia.

Before Boebert came within 550 votes of losing her ostensibly safe Republican seat this year, taking a position wildly at odds with the overwhelming consensus of public opinion was considered part of her charm. Viewed through the lens of Boebert’s vulnerability demonstrated in this year’s elections, it’s a warning that Boebert has learned nothing from almost losing–despite her offhanded promise in a single Tweet to help “take down the temperature” in Washington.

In addition to ever-present Russian propaganda on social media and Tucker Carlson’s monologues, animus against Ukraine from the MAGA movement goes all the way back to the first impeachment of Donald Trump. But that animus has not aged well, and today it has the effect of providing aid and comfort to the enemy on the business end of all those billions of dollars we’ve spent helping to defend Ukraine.

There was a time in history when that alone could end a political career faster than you can say Jeanette Rankin.” While Lauren Boebert’s re-election in 2024 probably won’t hinge on carrying water for Vladimir Putin, we don’t see how this can possibly help her.

And a 550-vote election can hinge on just about anything.

Top Ten Stories of 2022 #10: The Faithful Choose The Crazies

2022 U.S. Senate candidate Ron Hanks (R).

In order to understand the historic disaster that unfolded for Colorado Republicans in the 2022 midterm elections, a good place to begin is the results of the Republican Party state assembly in April. Historically, winning the state assembly is not a reliable predictor of success in the primary election, but it is a reliable indicator of where the party’s most dedicated organizers and influencers are.

And as Colorado Public Radio reported on that fateful Saturday, April 9, the GOP faithful chose candidates for the primary ballot who would come back to haunt them:

Republicans on Saturday set the stage for competitive primary elections in a statewide assembly that was dominated by talk of election security and gender politics — along with high hopes for the party’s return to power in Colorado.

The nominees include some of the party’s most prominent election deniers. Tina Peters, the Mesa County clerk who has been indicted for the alleged theft of election systems data, will take the top line among three Republican candidates to challenge Democratic Secretary of State Jena Griswold.

Meanwhile, state Rep. Ron Hanks shut out all other assembly candidates and will be one of only two names on the party’s U.S. Senate primary ballot, alongside businessman Joe O’Dea, who petitioned on. They’re vying to challenge Democratic incumbent Michael Bennet. Hanks has embraced false claims that the 2020 elections were stolen and has been closely involved with Peters and a national network of election skeptics…

The result of the GOP state assembly, especially in the U.S. Senate race where multiple ostensibly viable candidates were knocked out of the race by insurrectionist state Rep. Ron Hanks, was a major shock to Colorado Republican strategists hoping to regain ground after punishing defeats in the two previous election cycles. Hanks’ resounding win at the assembly left only unknown self-funding construction executive Joe O’Dea, who petitioned on the ballot, to oppose Hanks for the U.S. Senate nomination.

Recognizing that Hanks would be not just a concession of the race but a source of collateral damage for the rest of the Republican ticket–like Hiedi Heidi Ganahl proved to be, but that’s for another post–“establishment” Republicans and their pundit-class mouthpieces leaned in hard to prop up O’Dea, casting any pretense of neutrality to the wind in a desperate attempt to stave off Hanks. In the Secretary of State’s race, Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters’ felony indictments didn’t faze the party faithful one bit, and her win at the state assembly likewise terrified country club Republicans into openly boosting the eventual nominee Pam Anderson.

With some help from unaffiliated voters who were receptive to the false argument from establishment Republicans that candidates who won their party’s assemblies were being imposed upon then by “meddling” Democrats, Hanks, Peters, and Ganahl’s feckless opponent Greg Lopez all lost in the June 28th primary election. It’s true that Democrats trolled the Senate and gubernatorial races by promoting Hanks and Lopez in ads intended to have backhanded appeal to conservative voters. In response, Republicans put all their chips on the argument that “Democratic meddling” had made the winning candidates more electable.

As we know now, that’s not what happened. After Joe O’Dea and Heidi Ganahl had a brief honeymoon with national political press falsely casting them as “moderate” victors over Democratic shenanigans, both of these campaigns fell apart after they failed with absolutely no one’s help to live up to that billing. As we’ll explain in upcoming posts, O’Dea and Ganahl each squandered their June primary victories in different ways. But their spirals downward began with a common hubris, borne of denial of what today’s Republican Party has become–and how far out of touch they are even at the highest levels from a majority of Colorado voters.

It’s a problem so fundamental that we do not have a solution, so fortunately that is not our job.

Monday Open Thread

“All progress is precarious, and the solution of one problem brings us face to face with another problem.”

–Martin Luther King, Jr.

Colorado Pols Turns 18 Today: We Can Vote!

Today, at long last, we are old enough to vote! Colorado Pols is 18 years old!

On this day in 2004, Colorado Pols was born into the world. Thank you for continuing to spend time with us here on the single greatest website on the Internet tubes that isn’t porn.