9NEWS Shreds Stapleton Over Dumbest Lie Ever

Back in mid-May, we were the first observers to note that GOP gubernatorial candidate Walker Stapleton’s premiere TV spot contained a major false statement: Walker claimed without supporting any evidence that he was the “only treasurer in the country” to support President Donald Trump’s tax bill. As it turns out many Republican state treasurers supported the Trump tax cuts, some of whom traveled to Washington to shill for the law and took other actions well beyond Stapleton’s mere endorsement on paper.

Over the next few days, every local television station in Denver proceeded to call out this false statement, along with other falsehoods and exaggerations in Stapleton’s ad though this was by far the most blatantly false claim. Despite these unfavorable fact-checks, the ad has continued to run unmodified including the false claim that Stapleton was the “only treasurer in the country” to support the Trump tax cuts.

This week, the situation came to a head after Stapleton made an ass of himself at a 9NEWS debate when questioned about the discrepancy. In the aftermath of that performance, outgoing 9NEWS political correspondent Brandon Rittiman has apparently had enough of Stapleton’s unrepentant bullshit:

We rated that claim false in a Truth Test last month. It’s easily disproved because several other GOP state treasurers publicly supported the President’s plan.

We don’t know what Stapleton was thinking when he started running this ad, but we know he knows better now.

In the 9NEWS Republican debate Thursday night, Stapleton acknowledged that what his ad says isn’t true.

What’s more, he said it’s not important that it isn’t true…

And that (see video above) was a big mistake.

We can’t take his ad down, but it’s fair for his opponents to call it a lie.

If Mr. Stapleton doesn’t want to be called a liar, then he should stop saying something he knows is false. [Pols emphasis]

It’s extremely rare for journalists to use the word “lie” or “liar” without qualifications, or as anything other than a verbatim quote. That’s because journalists, rightly or wrongly, consider their role to be to report rather than judge, and leave the question of truthfulness to the viewer. There’s a credible argument to be made that the chronic unwillingness of journalists to aggressively call out false statements contributed to the “post-factual” political environment that facilitated the rise of Trump to begin with.

But not this time. Stapleton is lying, he knows it, and everyone else does too now. At this point it’s truly baffling why Stapleton didn’t just admit the “mistake,” change the ad, and move on with his campaign. But he couldn’t own up to even such an obvious error. He had to double down. He had to defend this pointless lie as not a big deal, and claimed he learned nothing from the experience.

To use any other word than “liar” in this case would simply be a whitewash.

Weekend Open Thread

“I just want you to know that, when we talk about war, we’re really talking about peace.”

–George W. Bush

WATCH: The Most Godawful Campaign Ad You Will Ever See

Democratic congressional candidate Levi Tillemann has struggled to gain traction in the CD-6 primary to challenge Rep. Mike Coffman in November. After failing to scandalize some sharp primary elbows from national Democrats into grassroots support, Tillemann bizarrely promised to drop out of the race–or not–based on the results of a poll he later failed to disclose. It’s a story that plays out often enough as minor candidates reckon with the humiliation of not being a real contender.

But this time, Tillemann may have found a way to leave a lasting impression.

By…macing himself.

As for the point that Tillemann was making, that teachers in schools should be equipped with nonviolent defense tools such as mace…well, sure. But this exceedingly graphic demonstration of the effects of being pepper sprayed was far from necessary, if anything making a joke of what most people would consider to be a deadly serious matter. And, well folks…

Sorry, that is not an image that wins votes. It might make viewers lose their appetites, votes not so much.

But it is fun to watch candidates fail so memorably! We won’t soon forget this.

The Saddest Tweet of the 2018 Primary

We just want to draw your attention to this Tweet from Brian Watson, one of three Republicans seeking the GOP nomination for State Treasurer:

Watson might very well win the Republican nomination for State Treasurer. We’re almost cheering for him because this image is so depressing.

Get More Smarter on Friday (June 8)

Your Primary ballots should be in the mail if they haven’t already arrived. Check GoVoteColorado.com for more information. 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 going to bat for Russia and throwing barbs at U.S. allies in advance of the G-7 summit. From the Washington Post:

President Trump on Friday said Russia should be readmitted to the Group of Seven leading economies, breaking with other world leaders who have insisted that Moscow remain ostracized after its 2014 annexation of Crimea.

“Now, I love our country. I have been Russia’s worst nightmare . . . . But with that being said, Russia should be in this meeting,” Trump said Friday as he left the White House. “Whether you like it or not, and it may not be politically correct, but we have a world to run . . . . They should let Russia come back in.”

Trump’s comments, made just hours before he arrived in Canada for the annual G-7 summit, have further scrambled talks with other leaders, most of whom were already fuming about the U.S. leader’s protectionist trade policies. But in a sign that European unity against Trump is cracking, new Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said he agreed with Trump and wanted Russia back in the fold.

U.S. intelligence officials believe Russia interfered in the 2016 election, and part of this year’s G-7 summit was supposed to focus on protecting democracies from foreign meddling. Special counsel Robert S. Mueller III is investigating Russian interference efforts, including whether Trump’s campaign colluded in any way with Russian officials, a probe that has become an obsession for the president.

Meanwhile, French President Emmanuel Macron is suggesting that six of the group of nations in the G-7 could issue a “joint declaration of unity” without the United States, which would be a rare action taken in a global conference.


► Attorney General Jeff Sessions should probably start updating his resume. Trump told reporters today that “we’ll see what happens” in response to a question about whether he would fire Sessions. During a cabinet meeting on Wednesday, Trump positively crapped on Sessions after heaping praise on other cabinet members.

Sessions could soon join a host of lower-level White House communications staffers on the unemployment line.


The annual Western Conservative Summit is underway and will run through the weekend in Denver.


 According to a new poll — the first public poll released in several months — Democrat Jared Polis has a sizable lead in the race for the Democratic nomination for Governor. The Ft. Collins Coloradoan breaks down where candidates for Governor stand on a variety of issues. 


Get even more smarter after the jump…


Lawmakers, Marijuana Industry Slam Hickenlooper Vetoes

Gov. John Hickenlooper.

As the Denver Post’s Jesse Paul reports, anger over Gov. John Hickenlooper’s veto this week of several important marijuana bills that passed the legislature with overwhelming bipartisan support has yet to subside, with proponents, bill sponsors, and the industry continuing to ask why the lame-duck beer-brewing governor chose to make such a public display of disdain for an industry that helped put Colorado on the map during his expiring term:

Four state lawmakers joined a group of marijuana advocates Thursday in blasting Gov. John Hickenlooper over his veto of three pot bills, saying the term-limited Democrat’s decisions threaten Colorado’s place as a leader on cannabis and hurt patients, consumers and businesses…

Hickenlooper turned down legislation that would have added autism to the list of conditions eligible for medical marijuana, allowed for pot “tasting rooms” and opened up the cannabis industry to investment by public companies.

Hooton was a prime sponsor of House Bill 1263, the medical marijuana for those diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders legislation,and said she was especially upset by Hickenlooper’s decision since a bipartisan group of lawmakers spent months working on the measure. She called its veto “absolutely devastating.”

Here’s more from Rep. Edie Hooton of Boulder on the governor’s veto of House Bill 1263:

HB18-1263 passed the CO State House and Senate with broad bi-partisan support (90%). We worked countless hours with these tireless, committed families, and as legislators across the aisle, did our research and came to the same conclusion that seven other states, representing every region of the country, have already come to – recognizing the value of medical marijuana in significantly reducing the symptoms of autism – CA, FLA, MI, MA, PA, GA, DE. It took a lot of groundwork and collaboration to get this bill passed and was devastating to see it vetoed. I’ve already requested the bill for reintroduction next year with confidence that our next Governor will be more knowledgable about the value of [medical marijuana] and engaged in the legislative process…

While I definitely applaud the call to research, it isn’t going to help alleviate the hardships these families are experience now, or stop children from dying while we wait for it to happen. [Pols emphasis]

Colorado Public Radio’s Ann Marie Awad:

Much of the ire was focused on the veto of HB 18-1263, which would have added autism spectrum disorder to the list of qualifying conditions under the state’s medical marijuana program…

“We have to be here for our children,” Walker said. “We cannot risk losing them. We want to work with our doctors and medical professionals, and we want to do this legally and the right way.”

Walker and others also slammed the timing of the veto at the very end of the day Tuesday, right before Hickenlooper left town Wednesday.

“We respected you, and you vetoed our bill at 5:01 p.m., when we respectfully and cordially left the Capitol,” she said. “This is a slight to our families.”

Politically this unexpected series of vetoes of marijuana bills appears to be backfiring, with much more negativity about the vetoes in press coverage than discussion of Hickenlooper’s defenses offered in his veto letters. In the case of the autism bill, this anger at least partly results from Hickenlooper’s contradictory statements about the reasons–that there wasn’t enough data, then claiming flippantly that the bill could encourage youth marijuana use.

In all cases these were bills intended to resolve legitimate issues, crafted with stakeholders on all sides, and supported by legislative coalitions that spanned the ideological poles. Vetoing these bills, especially with a record as governor of only very rarely vetoing legislation passed with bipartisan support, leaves a permanent blemish on Hickenlooper’s image with no political upside we can see.

If that looks different by 2020, we’ll let you know. As of now it looks like a huge mistake.

Friday Open Thread

“Any idea, plan, or purpose may be placed in the mind through repetition of thought.”

–Napoleon Hill

Walker Stapleton Ducks “Colorado Decides” Debate

Last week we wrote up one of our world-famous “Debate Diaries” from an appearance by Democratic gubernatorial candidates at the “Colorado Decides” series sponsored by Colorado Public Television, CBS4 Denver, KOA NewsRadio and KUNC.

“Colorado Decides” held its debate with Republican candidates on Wednesday, and State Treasurer Walker Stapleton was nowhere to be found. Host Dominic Dezzutti was not at all amused, as you can see at the beginning of this clip of highlights posted online by the campaign of Mitt Romney’s Nephew:

Dominic Dezzutti opens GOP debate with long explanation for absence of Walker Stapleton.

DEZZUTTI: Missing from our lineup today is State Treasurer Walker Stapleton. I feel I need to explain why Treasurer Stapleton is not here.

We made our very best effort to work within Treasurer Stapleton’s very busy schedule. We offered three different dates that would allow us an opportunity to present a debate to you, the voters, within the first week of the mail-in ballots being sent out. We made that request the week after the state assemblies in April. The Stapleton campaign declined those dates but offered two dates that would have pushed our broadcast to a full 10 days after the ballots were sent out. After initially declining their offer of those two dates, eight days later I proposed two additional dates in May. After hearing no response, we decided that we would try to accommodate his schedule, and asked if the original debates they offered were still available. We were told those dates were no longer available.

That brings us to our debate today. We’re disappointed that Treasurer Stapleton could not join us, but as you can see, we did our best. In full disclosure, I want to offer that the other seven candidates running for Governor — both Democrat and Republican — all confirmed the single date we offered them within 48 hours of contact. [Pols emphasis]

Walker Stapleton

What is most interesting here is not that Stapleton did not appear on the “Colorado Decides” debate, but that his campaign apparently created so much ill will in declining multiple invitations. Dezzutti’s explanation for Stapleton’s absence lasted more than a minute; “Colorado Decides” was intent on making it clear that they went out of their way to accommodate Stapleton at every turn.

Here’s what Mitt’s Nephew (Doug Robinson) had to say about Stapleton’s absence:

“Where’s Walker? This is the question we all need to be asking, right? I’m not surprised, he doesn’t show up at half of our events. We have worked — all of us — the state, every small town and so on, he’s not there. He wasn’t here on PERA reform. He says he was the voice on PERA, yet this was the biggest thing that was happening to PERA in terms of its reform since 2010. He wasn’t at the board meeting, he told us where he was the night of the debate — he said he was in bed! Himself, he said he went to bed early that night. He wasn’t lobbying the legislators, he hasn’t shown up.”

Stapleton has participated in other debates during this election cycle, and he is still scheduled to appear at a Republican candidate debate at 9News later today. So why the absence here?

First and foremost, Stapleton does not do particularly well in debate settings. His campaign knows this and thus tries to limit his exposure as much as possible. We’ve heard that Stapleton maintains a comfortable lead over his Republican opponents, though no numbers have been released publicly in recent months, so this may also be a case where Stapleton’s advisers think that there is nothing for him to gain by engaging in multiple debates.

If Stapleton becomes the Republican nominee for Governor, he’s not going to be able to dismiss these events as casually as his campaign handled the “Colorado Decides” forum. Perhaps Stapleton’s campaign is more than willing to worry about that problem later.

Trump on North Korea: “It’s About Attitude!”

CBS4 reported yesterday in a genuflection-heavy story titled “Sen. Gardner Has Clear Vision Of Summit With North Korea” on a very serious meeting of the Senate Foreign Relations East Asia subcommittee, in which a very serious Sen. Cory Gardner outlined his list of very serious priorities he wants to see addressed at the upcoming summit between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un:

“So far, although it has suspended missile tests, North Korea has not taken concrete or verifiable steps towards denuclearization, so it is my hope that during the summit it will be made clear to the regime that the only goal of our negotiations is denuclearization,” said Gardner.

Gardner says he believes the Trump Administration’s policy of isolating North Korea is working. [Pols emphasis]

Sen. Gardner was highly critical of President Barack Obama’s overtures to North Korea during his administration, calling it “extremely disappointing” that Obama “would talk with North Korea without tough preconditions.” That demand for specific concessions from North Korea before Obama held talks was a natural segue into the right’s boilerplate bluster about Obama’s supposed “weakness” on foreign policy, since after all, “he’s just not an American…”

Oh sorry, that was Mike Coffman. But you get the idea.

Back in the present, Gardner admits that North Korea “has not taken concrete or verifiable steps towards denuclearization,” but supports the upcoming summit–despite the complete absence of the “tough preconditions” he demanded from President Obama.

In fact, as The Hill reports today:

President Trump on Thursday said he does not have to prepare “very much” for his high-stakes summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un because he believes “it’s about attitude.”

“I think I’m very well prepared,” Trump told reporters during a meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. “I don’t think I have to prepare very much. It’s about attitude. [Pols emphasis] It’s about willingness to get things done.”

It seems…unlikely that Trump is reviewing CSPAN footage to hear Gardner’s priorities.

Look, we understand that Trump’s chaotic overtures to North Korea have as much a chance of bearing fruit as anything else that’s been tried and failed in recent years. If this summit results in an agreement that reduces tensions on the Korean peninsula in any way, it will be recorded by history a good thing. With that said, it’s absurd to suggest that Gardner is being in any way consistent in his position on diplomacy with North Korea between his support for Trump today and his bitter denunciations of President Obama.

If Obama had ever once said “I don’t have to prepare very much” for a summit with North Korea, which Obama would never have said because it is ridiculous, Cory Gardner would be calling for resignation or impeachment.

Today, it’s just another turd Gardner has to shine.

Joe Biden Endorses Joe Neguse in CD-2

From one Joe to another

‘Tis the season for political endorsements, and today the campaign of Joe Neguse for Congress announced a big one: Former Vice President Joe Biden.

From a press release:

“Joe Neguse is the embodiment of the American Dream and I couldn’t be prouder to endorse his campaign for Congress. We need to send him to Washington to fight for working-class families and to protect the ideals that this nation was founded on.” said Vice President Biden. [Pols emphasis]

If elected, Neguse, 34, would become the first African-American ever elected to Congress from the State of Colorado, and would be one of the youngest members of Congress. Neguse, whose parents immigrated from Eritrea, is an attorney who previously served as a member of the University of Colorado Board of Regents, representing the 2nd Congressional District for six years from 2009 through 2015. He also co-founded New Era Colorado, the state’s largest youth voter registration and mobilization organization.

“Joe Biden is an American icon with a tremendous record of service to this country. Having his support is an incredible honor.” said Neguse

Why Biden, and why now? As The Hill reports, the former Vice President seems to be picking up steam as a potential Democratic candidate for President in 2020:

The former vice president has been the front-runner in some early 2020 Democratic primary polls while drawing a constant stream of news coverage. He’s scheduled to headline a series of events for Democrats running in the upcoming midterm elections.

Some Democrats are becoming increasingly convinced that the plain-spoken Scranton, Pa., native — decidedly not a fresh face for the party after serving eight years as vice president — nonetheless is the one to take on President Trump in the next election.

Biden has been traveling the country lately, both to stump for Democratic candidates and to promote his latest memoir, “Promise Me, Dad.”

Magellan Poll: Polis Leads Democratic Field by 13 Points

Cary Kennedy (L) trails Jared Polis by a significant margin according to a new poll.

The Colorado-based, Republican-leaning polling firm Magellan Strategies is out with numbers in the Democratic race for Governor — the first public numbers for the Democratic Primary that we’ve seen in months.

According to MagellanJared Polis has a solid lead over his three Democratic opponents almost across-the-board, with an overall advantage of 13 points:

Our latest survey of likely Democratic primary voters in Colorado finds Congressman Jared Polis opening up a 13-point lead over his closest opponent, former State Treasurer Cary Kennedy, 31% to 18% respectively. Former State Senator Mike Johnston has 9% support, Lt. Governor Donna Lynne has 3% support and 39% of voters are undecided. Since our March 20th survey, there has been no change in the order of candidate preference, and very little change in support levels for Mike Johnston, Donna Lynne and the percentage of undecided voters.

What has changed since our last survey is a 5-point decline in support for Cary Kennedy and a 4-point increase in support for Jared Polis.

Here are the breakdowns from Magellan:

Magellan Strategies, May 30-31, 2018


As with any poll conducted close to an election, you should take these numbers with the requisite grain(s) of salt. However, these margins are fairly consistent with what we’ve heard through the political grapevine.

It’s also worth noting that this poll was conducted at the end of May, which was before candidate advertisements started to flood the airwaves in larger numbers. Polis has since maintained a sizable advantage in the number of ads on TV, so if these numbers are accurate, the overall margins are probably holding fairly steady today.

Most Predictable Endorsement Ever

Back in January, the Phil Anschutz-owned Colorado Springs Gazette’s editorial board took the unusual step of calling on every Republican gubernatorial candidate not named Walker Stapleton to get out of the race:

If Republicans hope to elect a governor this fall, they need to narrow the primary field and unite behind State Treasurer Walker Stapleton.

This editorial, while conveying an unmistakable message, apparently did not constitute a formal endorsement of Stapleton’s campaign. That came Sunday:

The term-limited state treasurer, Stapleton has a proven record of standing up for hard-working Coloradans. His work benefits middle-class families — struggling to provide food, shelter and clothing — and the working poor. Though holding a statewide public office for two straight terms, he is the rare politician who consistently crusades against the “establishment” of decision makers moving in packs.

The Gazette then recites a list of pro-Stapleton talking points that appear to be lifted directly from Stapleton’s recent ads–including claims that have been debunked by fact-checkers, like Walker Stapleton “led the charge” against Amendment 69 (he didn’t) and “led [the] crusade to defeat a $1 billion tax increase” (he didn’t). It seems there’s not much respect at Clarity Media for colleague journalists’ work product.

There’s nothing surprising about the Gazette’s endorsement, of course, but it should be noted clearly for the record how the biggest conservative news outlet in the state, controlled by the state’s foremost Republican kingmaker, has leaned hard into the GOP gubernatorial primary for Stapleton from the very beginning.

And, you know, sometimes that goes well.

What We Learned from Tuesday’s Primary Elections

Eight states held Primary Elections on Tuesday night, including California, the most populous state in the country. There were a few positive developments for Republicans, but for the most part Democrats were the big winners in Tuesday’s elections — results that don’t fit with President Trump’s claims today that a “red wave” is coming.

Here are some of the key storylines from the biggest Primary Election of the year thus far:


Image via Vox.com

♦ California has long been a Democratic stronghold, but on Tuesday Democrats outperformed expectations in the state’s unpredictable “top two” primary system (in California the top two vote getters, regardless of political party, advance to the General Election). One Democratic consultant called Tuesday’s results “basically a home run for Democrats.”

Republicans won’t be on the ballot at all in 10 of California’s 53 Congressional races, which gives Democrats a nice head start in efforts to re-take the House Majority this fall. From Politico:

Bolstered by an increasing number of young and Latino voters and by President Donald Trump’s deep unpopularity in California, Democrats this year poured millions of dollars into flipping several suburban, Southern California House districts. For months, though, the party feared a nightmare scenario in which no Democrat would appear on the November ballot in several critical House races — victimized by the state’s top-two primary system in which the top two vote-getters advance to the general election regardless of party affiliation.

But as results from the primary election on Tuesday rolled in, Democrats breathed a loud sigh of relief.

In all seven Republican-held House districts that went for Hillary Clinton in 2016 — and that Democrats are targeting this year — a Democrat was running second as of early Wednesday, likely securing a spot on the November ballot.

Democrats need to flip 23 seats to re-take the House Majority; they could pick up 10 of those seats in California alone.

Longtime Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein, meanwhile, won’t even have a Republican opponent in November. Democratic state Sen. Kevin de León emerged from the Primary to challenge Feinstein’s re-election. 


Gavin Newsom is sooo dreamy.

♦ It looks like we know who will be the next Governor of California, though Republicans did manage to get a candidate into the General Election in John Cox. Since California is a heavily-Democratic state, Cox has little chance of defeating Democratic Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom in November. Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, a Democrat, failed to make the runoff election and has already endorsed Newsom; barring a major surprise, Newsom will succeed Jerry Brown as Governor.


♦ Alabama voters are looking at another ugly Republican runoff after Rep. Martha Roby — a vocal critic of Donald Trump in 2016 — failed to fend off a challenge from former Congressman Bobby Bright.


♦ Democrats flipped their 42nd state legislative seat since Donald Trump was elected President with an eye-opening victory in Missouri. Democrat Lauren Arthur could end up defeating Republican Kevin Corlew for a State Senate seat by 20 points once all ballots are counted. Arthur’s decisive victory comes in a senate district that has recently supported Republican candidates for President (Trump in 2016 and Mitt Romney in 2012).


♦ Republicans will get their preferred candidate in a U.S. Senate race in Montana, but it cost them a lot of money:

State auditor Matt Rosendale, who was endorsed by three conservative US senators and backed by conservative outside groups to the tune of $5.7 million, defeated the state’s political establishment pick, retired Judge Russ Fagg. The primary determined who would take on the incumbent Democrat, Sen. Jon Tester, in a state Trump won by 20 points.

The spending in the primary broke down to about $5.60 per resident and about $8 per registered voter in the state, which has a population of about 1 million.

“We really haven’t seen this level of spending in a primary in any of the cycles I’m aware of,” University of Montana journalism professor Lee Banville said.

The incumbent Senator in Montana is Democrat Jon Tester, who is among the top targets for Republicans in 2018.


Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham

♦ Tuesday was also a big night for female candidates. From Politico:

Three states — Alabama, Iowa and South Dakota — are poised to elect female governors for the first time this fall after Republican women secured their party nominations. And women will also make important gains in the House after posting key victories in New Mexico, Iowa and New Jersey…

…Current Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham won the Democratic nomination for governor in New Mexico and will face GOP Rep. Steve Pearce in November.

If elected, Lujan Grisham would be the first female Democratic governor of New Mexico and the first Democratic Latina governor nationwide. Current New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez, a Republican, was the first Latina to hold the statewide executive office in the U.S.

Lujan Grisham is also one of four women of color to secure the Democratic nomination for governor this year, following Stacey Abrams in Georgia, Paulette Jordan in Idaho and Lupe Valdez in Texas, and the most likely to win.


♦ Democrat Pete D’Alessandro finished a distant third in a Democratic Primary for a Congressional seat in Iowa. D’Alessandro was Sen. Bernie Sanders’ top guy in Iowa in the 2016 Presidential race, and his big loss will generate plenty of questions about the viability of another Sanders Presidential bid in 2018.


♦ California judge Aaron Persky was widely criticized for a lenient sentence handed down to a former Stanford swimmer after a sexual assault conviction in 2016, and he’s going to lose his job as a result. Voters ousted Persky in a recall campaign.


♦ Republicans are not doing well in New Jersey.