To Hell With “State’s Rights” Say Buck, Lamborn

Rep. Ken Buck (top) and Rep. Doug Lamborn.

Following the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision this summer overturning the landmark Roe v. Wade ruling guaranteeing abortion rights in all fifty states, Rep. Ken Buck of Colorado celebrated what he characterized as the restoration of state authority to regulate abortion as they saw fit:

The Supreme Court made the right decision in overturning Roe v. Wade, a tragic abortion mandate that has cost over 73 million unborn babies their lives. The power to decide this profound moral question has officially returned to the states, where it will be debated and settled in the way it should be in our democratic society—by the people.

In his statement the same day, Rep. Doug Lamborn likewise heralded the turn of the struggle over abortion rights “to the states.”

While today we are rejoicing, the fight now turns to the states where the American people must go on the offense for life.

But in the same press release where Lamborn said “the fight now returns to the states,” Lamborn contradicted himself by vowing to pursue further federal restrictions on abortion that would apply in all 50 states–no secret, but also making no sense right before celebrating the return of the fight “to the states.” And true to form, as the Washington Post’s Glenn Kessler reports, both Lamborn and Buck have signed on to legislation severely restricting abortion rights at the federal level–demonstrating they were lying about wanting states to decide the question at all:

When the Supreme Court in June overturned Roe v. Wade, which in 1973 established a nationwide right to an abortion, Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito wrote in his majority opinion for Dobbs v. Jackson that the legality of abortion would now be up to individual states. “The Constitution does not prohibit the citizens of each State from regulating or prohibiting abortion,” Alito said. “Roe and Casey [in 1992] arrogated that authority. We now overrule those decisions and return that authority to the people and their elected representatives.”

Many Republican foes of abortion celebrated the ruling as a victory for states’ rights. Yet since Alito’s draft opinion was leaked on May 2, 28 lawmakers have also signed onto a proposed nationwide ban — one that would impose abortion restrictions even in Democrat-led, pro-abortion rights states. [Pols emphasis]

This would seem to be a direct contradiction to the idea that states could chart their own course. Blue states that have less restrictive laws in place suddenly would find those laws overridden by a federal law.

Kessler reports that Rep. Ken Buck signed on as a co-sponsor of the so-called “Heartbeat Protection Act,” which would ban abortions if a “heartbeat” can be detected–an effective ban since this occurs before most people even know they’re pregnant–on May 27, after the Supreme Court opinion overturning Roe was leaked. Rep. Lamborn signed on as a co-sponsor on July 11th, after the Supreme Court’s decision overturning Roe was published. In both cases they knew that this ruling was coming, and it makes it impossible for them to claim to support returning the question of abortion rights “to the states.”

Will this glaring contradiction hurt Buck or Lamborn in the state’s two safest Republican districts? Of course not. But for fellow Republican candidates like Joe O’Dea trying (and generally failing) to walk a tortuous fine line on an issue expected to turn out voters in force against anti-abortion politicians, Buck and Lamborn’s example is a reminder that there is no longer any tenable middle ground on the issue. With Republicans in control of Congress, this is the kind of legislation that will pass. And a Republican President will sign it.

These are not hypotheticals anymore. Those with nothing to lose have exposed those who do.

Meet 2022’s Most Classy State House Candidate

As Hannah Metzger of the Colorado Springs Gazette’s political blog reports, while some candidates running as placeholders in districts they cannot mathematically win run a clean campaign intended primarily not to cause collateral damage elsewhere, some others just don’t give a crap–and serve as reminders that if a candidate isn’t fit to run in a competitive race, they’re nothing but a liability to their party as placeholders:

A Republican candidate for the Colorado House came under fire and accusations of racism after calling Black and Latina Democratic candidates “chimps” in a tweet on Monday.

The interaction began with the Colorado branch of the American Federation of Teachers tweeting its endorsement for Democrat Rep. Meg Froelich in the House District 3 race, along with three other candidates, two of whom are Black and one who is Latina. Froelich reposted the tweet calling her fellow candidates “champs.”

“Did you say chimps?” responded Marla Fernandez, the GOP nominee for House District 3. [Pols emphasis] “Sorry must be my dyslexia.”

HD-3 candidate GOP Marla Fernandez has spent the last 24 hours insisting to all comers that she’s not racist for referring to a group that included two African American lawmakers as “chimps,” and that the incident went just the way Fernandez wanted, claiming she “needed media attention.” But running in what everyone knows is an unwinnable race also means that when you get in trouble, no one finds it necessary to defend you:

In a statement to Colorado Politics, Colorado GOP Chairwoman Kristi Burton Brown rebuked Fernandez’s tweet, saying it was “uncalled for, highly inappropriate, and that she should apologize immediately.”

Defending the indefensible is nothing new for Colorado GOP chair Kristi Burton Brown, but the universal principle of risk vs. benefit always applies. There’s nothing to be gained from defending Fernandez since she can’t win her race, and that makes Fernandez far more vulnerable to being disowned by a Republican Party desperate to prove it isn’t comprised solely of people like…well, Marla Fernandez. If Fernandez had a hope in hell, the long odds of recapturing a House majority would obligate Republicans to try to defend her.

And of course, Fernandez has her supporters too! They’ll still be there after she loses in November.

Hoping for Turnaround, O’Dea Gets More of a “Turn Away”

UPDATE: Filings from Senate Leadership Fund confirm the bad news for Joe O’Dea:

—–

Joe O’Dea waits for someone to pay attention to him during event on the Western Slope last month.

Ballots will begin arriving in the mailboxes of Colorado voters in about six weeks. Little-known Republican Senate candidate Joe O’Dea is in desperate need of a cash infusion from national Republicans if he is going to get his name and face in front of enough voters in time to make a difference before voting begins.

From the look of things, that money may not be coming.

The Colorado Sun reported today on something we’ve been discussing for the last week in this space (HERE and HERE): All of the talk from national Republicans about how Colorado could have a competitive Senate race in 2022 hasn’t resulted in any significant spending thus far.

Just under $9 million worth of TV ads have aired or been booked in the Senate contest this year, according to a Colorado Sun analysis of contracts filed with the Federal Communications Commission through Wednesday.

That compares with the nearly $46 million worth of TV ads that had aired or were booked before Sept. 1 in Colorado’s 2020 Senate contest between Republican U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner and Democratic former Gov. John Hickenlooper.

O’Dea’s campaign has thus far been relying on its own meager fundraising for media buys, and sources tell us that his campaign is currently buying ad space on a week-to-week basis. It’s obviously more cost-effective to purchase TV ad time in advance, but only if you know that you’re going to have the money to pay for it. In recent weeks, O’Dea has been outspent by incumbent Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet by a 3-to-1 margin.

According to a new story from NBC News, national Republican groups are putting together sizable ad buys in a handful of states…none of which are in Colorado:

While the National Republican Senatorial Committee has enlisted former President Donald Trump to help reverse lagging fundraising, much — if not most — of the money will come from the Senate Leadership Fund to start. The group, aligned with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, had already been on-air in Pennsylvania, and this week will begin to deploy the rest of a $169.2 million advertising plan across key states…

…At the moment, McConnell’s Senate Leadership Fund seems the likelier bet for a bailout. Multiple sources who spoke with NBC News said they viewed that group, and not the National Republican Senatorial Committee, as the cavalry capable of financing the bulk of the fall push. The senatorial committee had just $23 million on hand at the end of July, according to its latest filing with the Federal Election commission, giving it far less capital than the Senate Leadership Fund.

The Senate Leadership Fund ad blitz that begins Tuesday includes $37.1 million in Georgia, $27.6 in North Carolina, $28 million in Ohio and $15 million in Nevada and Wisconsin. That’s atop an existing $34.1 million commitment in Pennsylvania. Overall, the group has reserved $169.2 million in ad spending for fall campaigns. [Pols emphasis]

O’Dea probably can’t expect much help from the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC); under the leadership of Florida Republican Sen. Rick Scott, the NRSC has pissed away 95% of the money it had raised — much of that on questionable online small donor fundraising schemes. The small amount ($241,000) that the NRSC spent on ads for O’Dea in August appears to have come from an NRSC legal fund, which is probably not…legal.

 

As The Colorado Sun reports, whatever money the NRSC does have does not appear to be earmarked for O’Dea. And despite Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s claim in July that he would be “all-in” for O’Dea in the fall, the Senate Leadership Fund (SLF) remains frustratingly vague (for O’Dea, at least):

The NRSC spent $241,000 on cable TV in August with an ad linking Bennet to Democratic President Joe Biden. But NRSC and Senate Leadership Fund have yet to schedule TV time for the fall, which is a major indication the race isn’t a priority, as is the fact that national Democratic groups haven’t started spending in Colorado to shore up Bennet.

“It’s a race we’re keeping an eye on,” said Jack Pandol, a spokesman for the Senate Leadership Fund. “We continue to be impressed by the race Joe O’Dea is running in Colorado.” [Pols emphasis]

In other words, Joe: You’re probably screwed. Again, Colorado voters will be marking their ballots in about six weeks. The NRSC and SLF are waiting to board a plane that is already pulling away from the gate.

Meanwhile, in something of a last-ditch effort to generate interest in Colorado, local Republicans are still promoting a poll that may or may not exist that allegedly shows O’Dea within striking distance of Bennet. These results would be completely at-odds with all of the known public polling in the race thus far, which is probably why Republicans literally won’t show it to any reputable news outlets (as the Sun reports today, they “asked the state party for a copy but did not receive one.”) If the local GOP really has poll results filled with good news for O’Dea and they are refusing to show anyone…well, let’s just say we’d be in completely uncharted territory at that point.

We’ll update this post if we get word that any of this might be changing. If we’re not updating within the next week or so, it will be time to stop looking.

First General Election Ads for Polis and Caraveo

Democrats running in two of the most-watched political races of 2022 are up with their first television ads of the General Election.

Here’s Democratic Gov. Jared Polis (and his shoes) in his first re-election spot for Governor:

 

Elsewhere, Democrat Yadira Caraveo has launched her first television ad in her race for Congress in the new CO-08:

 

The GMS Podcast: Dark Brandon’s MAGA Smackdown

Charles Ashby, sans beard

This week on the Get More Smarter Podcast, your hosts Jason Bane and Ian Silverii discuss President Biden’s momentous speech last week calling out “MAGA Republicans” and what it means for the 2022 election in Colorado. We also update on the apparently very expensive recall effort against new Democratic State Sen. Kevin Priola; big new problems facing Republican State Sen. Dennis Hisey in El Paso County; and top GOP candidates who are scrubbing all mention of “abortion” from their campaign materials.

Our interview this week is with podcast favorite Charles Ashby of the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel, who stops by to update us on the always-weird Tina Peters saga, Rep. Lauren “Q*Bert” Boebert’s Christian Nationalism, and the Western Slope perspective on the final stretch of the 2022 election.

Listen to previous episodes of The Get More Smarter Podcast at GetMoreSmarter.com.

Questions? Comments? Complaints? Let us have it at AngryRants@getmoresmarter.com. Or send emails to jason@getmoresmarter.com or ian@getmoresmarter.com.

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Biden Delivers Powerful Speech as MAGA Republicans Freak Out

UPDATE: Greg Sargent of The Washington Post sums up the conundrum for “MAGA Republicans:

Republicans are in a rage over President Biden’s speech in Philadelphia, in which he flatly declared that the American democratic experiment is in serious danger due to Donald Trump and the Republicans who remain allied with his political project.

So here’s a question for those Republicans: What exactly in Biden’s speech was wrong?…

…That MAGA coup attempt included extraordinarily corrupt pressure on many government actors, including law enforcement, which flouted the rule of law on its face. It involved pressure on Vice President Mike Pence to violate his constitutional duty. Pence himself said he was being asked to betray basic tenets of constitutional democracy.

Many Republicans who are now professing outrage supported all that. A review of their own conduct proves Biden right.

—–

“The MAGA Republicans believe that for them to succeed, everyone else has to fail.”

     — President Biden (9/1/22)

President Joe Biden delivered a powerful primetime speech on Thursday night from the Independence National Historical Park in Philadelphia that laid out in clear terms the battle for democracy in the United States.

As David Frum wrote later for The Atlantic, Biden’s speech was so effective because it was real:

The response from Biden’s Republican opponents has been hotter than mere tut-tutting. Biden’s sharp speech has only one justification: So much of it is true.

If you missed Biden’s 24-minute speech, you can read the full transcript here or watch it in full below. To better understand the significance of Thursday’s events — including here in Colorado — it helps to break things down into a few different parts. Let’s start with…

THE SPEECH

 

Biden’s remarks on Thursday were masterfully constructed. In plain language, he began by defining “MAGA Republicans” as people who were intent on destroying democracy. Biden did not resort to name-calling but stuck with facts instead:

And here, in my view, is what is true: [Pols emphasis] MAGA Republicans do not respect the Constitution. They do not believe in the rule of law. They do not recognize the will of the people. They refuse to accept the results of a free election, and they’re working right now as I speak in state after state to give power to decide elections in America to partisans and cronies, empowering election deniers to undermine democracy itself.

President Joe Biden

Biden then carefully explained that “MAGA Republicans” are a fringe minority in the United States, which had the effect of placing them in a rhetorical corner with the rest of the country on the other side:

But while the threat to American democracy is real, I want to say as clearly as we can, we are not powerless in the face of these threats. We are not bystanders in this ongoing attack on democracy. There are far more Americans, far more Americans from every background and belief, who reject the extreme MAGA ideology than those that accept it. [Pols emphasis] And folks, it’s within our power, it’s in our hands, yours and mine, to stop the assault on American democracy…

…MAGA Republicans have made their choice. They embrace anger. They thrive on chaos. They live, not in the light of truth but in the shadow of lies. But together, together, we can choose a different path. We can choose a better path forward to the future, a future of possibility, a future to build a dream and hope, and we’re on that path moving ahead.

Meanwhile, “MAGA Republicans” were busy identifying themselves and proving every one of Biden’s points.

 

(more…)

O’Dea vs. O’Dea: Mixed Google Messages Aren’t Helping

With election season about to kick into its traditional high gear after Labor Day weekend, most voters’ first stop in researching the candidates they’re seeing in the news is to Google their names–maybe with an issue like “pro-life” appended to narrow the result.

If you search Google for “Joe O’Dea pro life,” you’re greeted with this ad from O’Dea’s campaign:

Another response some users are receiving tries to get a jab in about Michael Bennet’s recent ad depicting the Senator fly fishing, which makes absolutely no sense outside a small class of political insiders:

That’s just weird, folks. One in a hundred might get this joke.

Most users are seeing one of these paid advertisements, along with a few ads from Michael Bennet’s campaign explaining O’Dea’s stumbles on the issue of abortion– claiming to be “personally very pro-life,” supporting the Supreme Court picks who just overturned Roe v. Wade, and declaring his support for 2020’s Proposition 115 failed abortion restriction ballot measure. Both sides are spending to make sure their message is above the fold for search engine queries.

Unfortunately for O’Dea, here’s the very first non-paid search response:

This directs to a page from O’Dea’s primary campaign days, consisting a number of anti-abortion activists in Colorado essentially arguing that O’Dea will be better for the pro-life movement because he’s a more viable Republican candidate than Ron Hanks.

And also shoring up O’Dea’s anti-abortion bonafides:

Joe O’Dea strongly supports a nationwide ban on late-term abortion, a nationwide ban on taxpayer funding for abortion, a nationwide parental choice requirement, and will fight any attempt to make religious hospitals perform a procedure they object to. Joe is adamantly against Chuck Schumer’s late term abortion bill, and strongly opposes Jared Polis’ late-term abortion bill.

This week, a number of Republican candidates including Colorado’s Heidi Ganahl and Barb Kirkmeyer were caught deleting references to their formerly strident positions against abortion. O’Dea wasn’t one of them–but now you can see why the others started mashing the delete button after winning their primary. The gulf between Republican primary voters and the general electorate is so vast on this issue that it’s impossible to please one side without alienating the other.

When the average voter sees an ad for “pro-choice” Joe O’Dea followed by a bunch of ads calling O’Dea a liar and then a page from O’Dea’s own primary campaign that says the same, they’re going to realize something’s fishy–and it’s not the fish Bennet caught.

Biden Prepares to Bring the Ruckus Tonight

UPDATE: In an apparent attempt to proactively make Biden’s point for him, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy delivered this bonkers line in a pre-Biden speech:

Dude…this is exactly what Biden is talking about. Stop attacking the FBI and law enforcement officials because you’re scared of Donald Trump.

—–

President Joe Biden

President Joe Biden will deliver a speech to the nation tonight that is already creating a lot of buzz. As The New York Times reports, Dark Brandon has had enough of this MAGAbot election fraud nonsense:

Biden will travel to Philadelphia on Thursday for a prime-time address in which he will accuse Republicans loyal to former President Donald J. Trump of embracing a form of extremism that is a direct threat to the United States.

Speaking on the condition of anonymity to preview the speech, a senior White House official said the president would state in direct language how “MAGA Republicans” have put the nation’s institutions at risk and undermined democratic values.

The focus on threats to democracy is a return to the issue that Mr. Biden said drove him to run for the presidency, after white supremacists marched through Charlottesville, Va., in 2017.

The speech is intended to deliver a dark message about threats to the very fabric of American democracy.

Biden previewed some of this message earlier this week, saying that Republicans have embraced “semi-fascism”:

As the Times reports, Biden has recently decided that it’s time to start telling it like it is:

The president had long planned to give another speech on the state of democracy but grew more motivated in recent weeks by persistent false claims of election fraud and the midterms, a White House official said.

Here’s a similar take from POLITICO:

In recent days, Biden and his top aides have called out the Republican response to the FBI search of Trump’s Palm Beach home. They note how some GOP lawmakers called to defund federal law enforcement while others have warned that violence could follow a possible Trump arrest. To Biden, that was just the latest transgression from a Republican Party he has told aides he barely recognizes — one that has remained in the thrall of Trump and in support of the insurrection.

Republicans, meanwhile, are very sad about Biden telling the truth and are raising their rhetoric in response. As Fox News reports:

“Joe Biden’s wretched attacks on millions of Americans have fueled attacks on pregnancy centers, Republican offices, and an assassination attempt on a Supreme Court Justice,” said Ronna McDaniel, chairwoman of the Republican National Committee. “Joe Biden is the divider-in-chief and epitomizes the current state of the Democrat Party: one of divisiveness, disgust and hostility towards half the country.”

Um, okay.

Biden will speak at 6:00 pm (MST) tonight from the Independence National Historical Park in Philadelphia. It probably won’t be hard to find a live stream wherever you watch television.

Big Government Is Not Taking Over Your Thermostat

Denver7’s Jaclyn Allen reports on a not-really new program from Xcel Energy designed to help cope with extremely high electrical consumption during hot summer days, which Tuesday was apparently engaged for the first time to the surprise of a number of homeowners who (sorry to say this) shouldn’t have been surprised:

Xcel confirmed to Contact Denver7 that 22,000 customers who had signed up for the Colorado AC Rewards program were locked out of their smart thermostats for hours on Tuesday.

“It’s a voluntary program. Let’s remember that this is something that customers choose to be a part of based on the incentives,” said Emmett Romine, vice president of customer solutions and innovation at Xcel. [Pols emphasis]

Customers receive a $100 credit for enrolling in the program and $25 annually, but Romine said customers also agree to give up some control to save energy and money and make the system more reliable.

“So, it helps everybody for people to participate in these programs. It is a bit uncomfortable for a short period of time, but it’s very, very helpful,” said Romine.

Many new homes built in Colorado today utilize a smart thermostat that both consumers and–if given permission by the consumer–utility companies can access to help manage power consumption during peak periods. This helps avoid the much less pleasant alternative of rolling blackouts when the power grid hits capacity. It’s also available to existing homeowners who upgrade to compatible smart thermostats.

And again, AC Rewards is a 100% voluntary and compensated program that no consumer is forced to participate in. But that’s not stopping Republicans like this Maryland congressional candidate from declaring an impending thermostatic dystopia and trying to turn this voluntary program into a stick to beat Colorado Democrats with:

Here in the reality-based community, we know that Democratic politicians aren’t trying to punish Coloradans with Xcel Energy’s energy efficiency programs any more than consumers are being forced to participate in them. That Tuesday was the first time the system was activated in this emergency capacity since it rolled out in 2019 shows how sparingly the smart thermostat’s emergency override is employed. Given a choice between limits on power in an emergency versus losing power entirely, it’s an easy choice. Or at least it should be.

If you’re determined to uncover a nefarious plot behind everything, that’s all you tend to find.

No, Everyone Does NOT “Shake The Etch-a-Sketch”

Barb Kirkmeyer (R).

9NEWS followed up last night on a story we wrote about Tuesday, originally reported by Politico, about Republican candidates quietly updating their websites to reduce or even completely remove references to abortion in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s highly unpopular decision to repeal Roe v. Wade. The Colorado example cited by Politico was none other than Barb Kirkmeyer, the ardently anti-abortion state senator and Republican nominee for Colorado’s brand-new closely divided CD-8. After Kirkmeyer rushed to sponsor anti-abortion bills in the legislature this year and then campaigned proudly on her anti-choice record in the GOP CD-8 primary, Kirkmeyer’s retreat on the issue illustrates more than most Republicans just how scared they are of the coming “Roevember” backlash at the polls.

But when confronted about sanitizing her website of this hot-button issue, Kirkmeyer had an answer that could be considered epic–if by that you mean epically terrible:

“If you go back and look at everyone’s websites, not just mine, but you look at my opponents and other folks who are campaigning, there’s a campaign that happens in the primary,” she said. “And then things shift [Pols emphasis] and everybody goes back and revises their webpages and they focus in on the things that they are going to focus in on.”

The problem is, at least in the case of Kirkmeyer’s Democratic opponent Yadira Caraveo, that’s not true:

“Everyone makes changes [to their website]. My opponent made changes to her website… I didn’t notice anyone making comments about that,” she said.

A search of the Wayback Machine internet archive of Kirkmeyer’s opponent Yadira Caraveo’s website congressional website didn’t show any significant changes in policy positions. [Pols emphasis]

The simple reality is that there is no equivalent on the Democratic side to the “shift” on the issues that takes place with Republicans between a Republican primary and the general election. Here in Colorado, that’s in part because there weren’t a lot of Democratic primaries this year, but it’s also a reflection of the relative popularity of the Republican versus Democratic agendas. Republicans feel compelled to downplay views they were proud to express in their primary because the majority of voters in a general election find them repellent.

What’s the Democratic analogue? Universal health care? It doesn’t exist.

While Kirkmeyer was busy saying the same quiet part out loud that Mitt Romney’s spokesman let slip in 2012 with his now-infamous “shake the Etch-a-Sketch” analogy about Romney’s shifting positions from the primary to the general, Kirkmeyer received some less than helpful “backup” from Colorado Republican Party chair Kristi Burton Brown–who as readers know was the public face of the Personhood abortion ban ballot measures repeatedly rejected by Colorado voters in recent years.

Kristi Burton Brown, chairwoman of the Colorado Republican Party, told 9News all Republican candidates are firmly pro-life. [Pols emphasis]

“Our Republican candidates are very clear we’re the pro-life party,” she said.

Kirkmeyer says thanks, but Joe O’Dea would like a word. Urgently.

The lesson, once again because we’ve said it countless times before: don’t delete anything, because nothing is ever really deleted and it only draws attention to what you’re deleting.

As for an agenda that a majority of general election voters don’t want?

We’re not really sure how to help with that.

The Death of Nuance on Abortion Rights

The Associated Press, via the Aurora Sentinel (9/1/22)

As The Associated Press reports in a fascinating new story, one of the major changes to the political landscape in 2022 is the death of nuance in terms of how politicians talk about their positions on abortion rights:

Analysts say similarly nuanced positions were once considered the political sweet spot in the complex world of abortion politics, coming closest to representing the views of the typical, conflicted voter. But that may be changing as abortion restrictions kick in following the fall of Roe with the high court’s ruling in June.

“We are here in this country, right now, with patients traveling thousands of miles for care because politicians have been given the room for the least little bit of nuance,” said Adrienne Mansanares of Planned Parenthood Action Colorado during a recent news conference to back Michael Bennet.

The message from Democrats: Republicans can’t be trusted on the issue — regardless of their personal beliefs.

“[O’Dea] has the benefit of knowing that [recent SCOTUS justices] actually led the reversal of Roe v. Wade, and still he says he would have voted for them…I mean, that is a pitiful position to be in.”

     — Sen. Michael Bennet (the Get More Smarter Podcast (Aug. 2022)

It’s obvious how and why nuance is no longer accepted in the debate over abortion rights. The Supreme Court’s June 24th decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which essentially overturned Roe v. Wade, triggered strict abortion bans in at least 13 states (many with no exceptions) and changed the narrative for Republican politicians trying to find a middle ground with voters:

The reason this is happening, said Republican pollster Whit Ayres, is “you now have state legislatures that have taken positions opposed by 9 out of 10 Americans.”

“What the Dobbs decision has done along with these trigger laws is focus attention on the early part of pregnancy, not late term,” Ayres said.

While many Americans back some restrictions on abortion, especially after the first trimester, the most extreme measures introduced in some Republican-led states are at odds with public opinion, according to an Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research poll in July.

There are several signs that momentum is with abortion-rights backers. In conservative Kansas, a ballot measure to remove that state’s right to abortion lost by more than 150,000 votes. Democrats won a special election in a narrowly divided upstate New York swing district last week after their candidate focused on abortion. In a survey shortly after the Supreme Court ruling, Pew found that 62% of U.S. adults say abortion should be legal in all or most cases, the highest share in nearly 30 years of tracking the issue. [Pols emphasis]

This is why incumbent Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet’s latest television ad highlights the fact that Republican Joe O’Dea said he would have supported all of the SCOTUS nominees who eliminated federal abortion rights — even with the benefit of hindsight.

 

The AP story concludes with a few quotes from O’Dea that are as absurd as everything else he’s said on the matter this summer:

In an interview, the first-time candidate said of his opponent’s attack: “It’s pretty dishonest, pretty disingenuous.”

Yet in 2020, O’Dea voted for a statewide ballot measure to bar abortions after 22 weeks that failed by 18 percentage points. The measure didn’t contain exceptions for rape, incest or to protect the mother’s life. [Pols emphasis] He now says he thinks those exceptions are essential and added that he would support allowing the termination of nonviable pregnancies. 

He noted he wasn’t a candidate for office when the measure was on the ballot.

“I didn’t look at all the nuances,” O’Dea said.

Michael Bennet, Joe O’Dea

Bennet’s arguments are hardly “dishonest” when they merely state O’Dea’s own public positions on abortion rights.

O’Dea says he wasn’t a candidate for office when he voted for Prop. 115. Why this is a relevant statement is not clear, particularly considering that O’Dea recently insisted that he ACTUALLY favors even stronger restrictions on abortion than those included in Prop. 115 (O’Dea wants to ban abortion at 20 weeks instead of 22 weeks).

O’Dea often tries to counter Bennet’s arguments by claiming that Bennet supports abortions later in pregnancy, which is an absurd comparison. We know that such abortions are incredibly rare and are almost always the result of fetal anomalies or concerns about the health of the mother. When the Colorado legislature passed the Reproductive Health Equity Act (RHEA) last Spring, some anti-choice zealots were claiming that abortion had been legalized even after birth, which is silly.

As the Kaiser Family Foundation explains:

…intense public discussions have been sparked after several policymakers have theorized about abortions occurring “moments before birth” or even “after birth.” In reality, these scenarios do not occur, nor are they legal, in the U.S. [Pols emphasis]

Phil Weiser (left) and John Kellner

All these arguments aside, the point of what The Associated Press is explaining in today’s story is that any sort of nuances on abortion rights are no longer relevant to many voters. Consider this exchange from a forum between Attorney General candidates (Democrat Phil Weiser and Republican John Kellner) in Colorado last month as an example of where nuance is no longer a viable strategy on abortion rights:

QUESTION: Do you support a woman’s right to choose over her reproductive rights?

WEISER: Yes. The Dobbs decision was wrongly decided.

KELLNER: I don’t think I can give you a bumper sticker answer for this. It is just simply, I think like most Americans, too nuanced of a position to be able to tell you a yes or no answer to that. [Pols emphasis]

[Audience murmurs. One unidentified woman groans, ‘Oh, come on.’]

MODERATOR: As it’s a lightning round, let’s move forward. We have an answer.

“Do you support a woman’s right to choose over her reproductive rights?” There are two answers to this question: ‘Yes’ or ‘No.’ In previous election cycles, candidates who couldn’t answer ‘Yes’ could try to avoid ‘No’ by saying something like, Abortion rights are settled law in this country/state. But to quote a familiar line, “That dog won’t hunt” anymore.

It’s easy to roll your eyes at a post like the one you just read. You might be thinking, I’m tired about this argument over abortion. But if that is the case, you’re missing the broader point here: EVERYONE IS TIRED OF THE MANEUVERING.

There is no longer an acceptable middle ground between ‘Yes’ and ‘No’ when it comes to supporting a woman’s right to make her own reproductive health decisions.

Thursday Open Thread

“If there is not the war, you don’t get the great general; if there is not a great occasion, you don’t get a great statesman; if Lincoln had lived in a time of peace, no one would have known his name.”

–Theodore Roosevelt

Joe O’Dea Calls Mar-a-Lago Raid a “Political Stunt”

Joe O’Dea has TWICE called the raid on Mar-a-Lago a “political stunt.”

Earlier today, Chase Woodruff of Colorado Newsline pointed out via Twitter that it has been three weeks since Republican Senate candidate Joe O’Dea said this about the FBI raid on Mar-a-Lago:

“The American people deserve to know what’s going on here. [The] DOJ should put all their cards on the table. If the facts and the law support the action, so be it. If this is about election year politics, that will be equally clear.”

Woodruff was making the point that O’Dea should be asked about this comment in light of all of the new information that has since emerged about former President Donald Trump’s apparent efforts to hide his illegal possession of some of the most sensitive pieces of classified information in the United States. It’s a fair question, to be sure.

But then we saw this clip from Jewish Insider in which O’Dea makes even more outlandish assertions. According to Marc Rod of Jewish Insider, O’Dea made the following statement ON MONDAY:

Despite his criticisms of the former president, O’Dea described the recent FBI raid on Mar-a-Lago as a “political stunt” that is “undermining” Americans’ faith in the federal bureaucracy. But, he continued, if Trump kept documents he “shouldn’t have, that shouldn’t have gone on either.”

“The American people really want to know what’s going on,” O’Dea said. “If it was something wrong, he should be held accountable. If it’s just another political stunt by the Biden administration, which is what it looks like, that should come out as well.” [Pols emphasis]

Whoa.

If you wanted to be very generous, you could call O’Dea’s original comments “unfortunate.” But saying it twice, the second time as recently as Monday, means that THIS IS WHAT JOE O’DEA ACTUALLY BELIEVES.

And that, friends, disqualifies him from elected office.

Bad Polling, No Money for Colorado Republicans

There are 68 days left until Election Day on Nov. 8. That’s not a lot of time left to make your case to voters, but that number is deceiving for elections in Colorado; because Colorado is a mail-ballot state, there are now only 6 weeks remaining until voters start to find ballots in their mailboxes.

To put it a different way, a good chunk of Colorado voters will be filling out a ballot in about 42 days.

With the always-important caveat that things could still change, it would be really difficult to take a reasonable look at the data and conclude that Republicans are not in deep trouble in Colorado. Here’s why…

 

U.S. Senate

Even the most conservative pollsters in America can’t find a way to show Republican Joe O’Dea pulling closer to incumbent Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet. New polling data out today shows that things are actually getting much worse for O’Dea as Election Day draws near.

According to Public Policy Polling (PPP), Bennet currently leads O’Dea by an 11-point margin, with O’Dea only attracting the support of 35% of respondents.

Equally concerning for Republicans are the favorability ratings for O’Dea, which are upside down; 29% of respondents give O’Dea an “unfavorable” rating, while just 27% have a positive view of Mr. #HorseSushi. The O’Dea campaign team responded to these results today by trying to make lemonade out of dandelions:

But…but…Michael Bennet isn’t polling at 50 percent! So what? If this PPP poll is correct, Bennet will only need 36% of the vote to win re-election to the U.S. Senate.

Bennet received just about 50% of the vote in 2016, when he won re-election over Republican Darryl Glenn by 6 points in a race that was never in doubt. In 2010, Bennet didn’t reach 50% of the vote, defeating Republican Ken Buck by a 48-46 margin. You don’t get a bigger office in the U.S. Senate if you surpass 50% of the vote.

The PPP poll shows that 44% of voters are “unsure” about O’Dea, which is probably because they have no idea who he is. O’Dea might be able to dig into that number with more outreach and communications to voters, but they don’t have the resources to do that. As Manu Raju and Alex Rogers report for CNN, Senate Republicans are STILL undecided about whether it is worth investing any real money in Colorado on Joe O’Dea:

the big-spending GOP outside groups are uncertain whether O’Dea can knock off incumbent Colorado Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet – and whether their money should be spent elsewhere.

So far, the National Republican Senatorial Committee has not reserved future advertising in Colorado, after spending just $241,000, according to AdImpact data. [Pols emphasis]

McConnell’s powerful super PAC, the Senate Leadership Fund, has yet to spend money there but is “keeping an eye on the race” and “impressed” with O’Dea’s performance, the group’s spokesman said. The group recently announced it would spend $28 million in Ohio, and cut millions in Arizona, committing to defend J.D. Vance in an increasingly red state rather than help Blake Masters in a battleground, as both Trump-endorsed candidates struggle.

It’s not hard to read between the lines here: Colorado voters are going to start making their selections in six weeks, but there is still no movement from national Republican groups and little reason for them to suddenly get more involved. Without a big infusion of national money, the little-known O’Dea is toast; Bennet has thus far outraised O’Dea by an 8-to-1 margin.

 

Governor

The Heidi Ganahl/Danny Moore ticket never took off.

Let’s be honest: This race has been over for awhile now.

Republican Hiedi Heidi Ganahl is the most inept candidate for major office that Colorado has seen this century, and maybe ever. Even if this race were close, and there is no indication that it is, Ganahl would almost certainly make some idiotic mistake that would cripple her chances of defeating incumbent Democratic Gov. Jared Polis.

Ganahl doesn’t have much money in her campaign coffers — while Polis has virtually unlimited financial resources — and national Republicans haven’t so much as hinted at paying attention to this race since…well, maybe ever. A year ago, Polis was polling 20 points higher than Ganahl; that was before Ganahl started proving to Colorado voters that she has no idea what she is doing. Polis won’t win by 20 in November, but there’s no reason to think either side will be sweating out the results on Election Night.

As we saw earlier in the U.S. Senate polling, conservative pollsters also can’t figure out a way to make this look like a real race. Both of the polls below are from outfits known to be extremely favorable to Republican candidates (Remington Research Group and Trafalgar Group). In Georgia, for example, Trafalgar has Republican candidates for top-ticket races polling much better than most other recent surveys. In Colorado, there’s no way to make the math work for Ganahl:

(Details at 538.com)

 

Generic Congressional Ballot

Finally, the “generic congressional ballot” we discussed earlier this month keeps moving in favor of Democrats. The GCB doesn’t mean that Colorado Democrats are going to perform 9 points better than Republicans, but it does indicate that voters are predisposed to support a Democrat…particularly when they know little about the Republican candidate (we’re looking at you, Joe O’Dea).

(Details at 538.com)

 

Republicans could potentially yet recover in Colorado, but they’re running out of time to keep saying, “there’s still time.” It’s worth noting that national Republicans aren’t just reluctant to spend money in the U.S. Senate or Governor races — the Republican Attorneys General Association (RAGA) has also thus far avoided spending money in Colorado on behalf of Republican candidate John Kellner. At the moment, there appear to be no coattails for any Republican candidate to grab onto.

The 2018 election in Colorado was a MASSIVE wave year for Democrats. For the most part, that trend continued in 2020. There’s little reason to argue that Colorado is not on a similar course in 2022.

Mesa County DA Hits Gas On Tina Peters Prosecution

Tina Peters

As the Grand Junction Sentinel reports:

Prosecutors have concluded their investigation into Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters and intend to ask for a trial date at a hearing next Wednesday.

In a press release Tuesday, 21st Judicial District Attorney Dan Rubinstein said his office and “the Colorado Attorney General’s Office have been engaged in parallel investigations with federal authorities related to the events that formed the basis of the Grand Jury indictment.”

While Rubinstein said his office is ready to ask for a trial date, the press release also noted that they have requested the United States Attorney’s Office “to continue its investigation into all potential perpetrators of federal crimes related to the events in Mesa County.”

AP via Denver7:

Rubinstein’s announcement comes less than a week after Mesa County Deputy Clerk and Recorder Belinda Knisley agreed to cooperate with prosecutors and testify against Peters, former election manager Sandra Brown, and any other people who might potentially be charged in connection with the May 2021 Mesa County election system security breach…

Knisley, who was suspended on Aug. 23, 2021, and barred from performing work for Mesa County, had participated in a proffer session in early June in which she spoke with state and federal investigators for seven hours about the scheme, allegedly masterminded by Peters, to copy hard drive images of the county’s election systems and allow an unauthorized man named Conan Hayes into the trusted build of the election machines with the Secretary of State’s Office and Dominion Voting Systems.

It does increasingly appear that Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters’ deputy Belinda Knisley ‘s decision to cooperate with investigators against her former boss has accelerated the timeline for bringing the case to trial. There’s been no word so far about Peters negotiating a plea deal of her own, and Peters continues to complain loudly about restrictions imposed on her by the court that prevented her from traveling in person to “MyPillow Guy” Mike Lindell’s latest election conspiracy theory conference last week in Missouri. At Lindell’s “Moment of Truth” conference, the Lara Logan-directed movie about Peters’ supposed persecution in the service of conspiracy theorizing, Selection Code, debuted without Peters–which has to hurt after receiving the red carpet treatment at Mar-a-Lago, for the premiere of Dinesh D’Souza’s election conspiracy theory movie having nothing to do with Peters’ case.

Now that Peters is–whether she likes it or not–no longer a candidate for office, the double life she’s led for the last year as a celebrity in the election conspiracy theory world traveling the country in luxury while at the same time an accused felon facing a long jail sentence back here in Colorado is quickly coming to an end. The bubble of misinformation that Peters has thrived in since her case became public does not include the courtroom, and at some point soon Peters is going to have to choose between sacrificing her freedom to preserve her status as a political martyr for the Big Lie, or cutting her own deal with prosecutors to minimize her own suffering.

We hope Peters’ lawyers at some point give her something they’re not known for: good advice.

Dennis Prager Comes Back To Bite Heidi Ganahl

Dennis Prager has some views on the “She Factor.”

Last October, as readers will remember, newly-minted Colorado GOP gubernatorial candidate Heidi Ganahl brought in nationally-known conservative commentator Dennis Prager for a town hall-type discussion in Colorado Springs. Although it probably helped Ganahl in the Republican primary, Prager’s visit was an early indicator that Ganahl is a dedicated conservative ideologue with no intentions of running to the center at any point in the race.

And then, Prager made a bloody ass of himself by calling child vaccination “child abuse” and causing a COVID-19 scare after bragging on stage about trying to get infected–and then, sure enough, getting infected right after appearing with Ganahl in Colorado Springs. Prager’s infection after flippant disregard for the risk wound up being an embarrassing coda to Prager’s visit that received more press coverage than the visit itself.

In the months since Prager’s appearance in Colorado with Ganahl, Ganahl won the Republican primary and now faces the state’s left-leaning majority with a long train of baggage Ganahl saddled herself with in the process–of which Dennis Prager is just one bullet point. But this week, Prager put himself back in the headlines with a new opinion piece that we strongly suspect Ganahl is not going to want to defend:

[I]t should be obvious that at least two generations of parents — especially among the well-educated — did not teach many of their daughters to control their emotions and think rationally.

The result is that women are disproportionately active in doing damage to our society.

The most obvious example is education. American schools teach less and indoctrinate more than ever before. Big-city public (and most private) schools are damaging young Americans to an extent and in ways no one imagined just a few years ago. Young children are prematurely sexualized — they are, for example, exposed to “Drag Queen Story Hour” in class and in local libraries from the age of 5. These feature a man dressed as a woman reading and dancing for them.

And who is facilitating all of this? In virtually every case, a woman. Ninety-two percent of kindergarten teachers are women, 75% of all teachers are women and 85% of librarians are women…

One the one hand, Prager is making claims about public education that are very similar to what Ganahl has argued herself–from misleading stats about Colorado kids’ reading and math proficiency to vowing to fight against rights for transgender people.

On the other hand, Prager just blamed women for literally everything he perceives to be wrong with society. What is the founder of “SheFactor,” which Ganahl calls “a movement founded by women for women,” supposed to do with that?

Hope like hell no one remembers, we guess. But it’s our job to.

How Bad Is It? Even Barb Kirkmeyer Running From Abortion

WEDNESDAY UPDATE: Axios Denver:

Colorado GOP congressional candidate Barbara Kirkmeyer scrubbed her hardline anti-abortion stance from her campaign website, part of a broader overhaul to moderate her image…

What they’re saying: Kirkmeyer spokesperson Alan Philp told Axios the changes came after the campaign did “a complete redesign” of its website.

Other issues removed were education, cost of living, agriculture and more. The site now just highlights her stances on spending, energy and crime. “We are focused on the three issues in which voters have expressed the most interest,” Philp added.

Short version: of course we shook the Etch-a-Sketch. Everybody is doing it!

—–

Barb Kirkmeyer (R-edacted).

Politico reports today on attempts by a growing number of Republican candidates around the country to de-emphasize their formerly strident views against abortion rights, ahead of a general election in which the issue is expected to be a major problem for Republicans facing an angry and mobilized pro-choice electorate:

Democrats have been hammering GOP candidates on abortion since the fall of Roe v. Wade. That’s left some Republicans scrambling to try to figure out how to soften the blow.

A number of Republicans are trying to avoid political fallout from the Dobbs decision by quietly deemphasizing their past position on abortion on campaign websites and on the trail. Another handful of GOP candidates — especially those in contests in states that are more of a reach for the party — have gone up with TV ads looking to counter Democrats’ attacks on abortion.

We’ve written quite a bit in this space about the struggles of GOP U.S. Senate candidate Joe O’Dea to position himself favorably on abortion with Colorado’s pro-choice majority of general election voters. O’Dea hurt himself from the outset by trying to have it both ways on the issue during the primary, claiming to be “personally very pro-life” while still somehow supporting Roe v. Wade–and simultaneously condemning the new Colorado law codifying abortion rights into statute passed just before Roe’s repeal. Then O’Dea tripped himself up again on the issue of abortion by admitting unbidden that he supported 2020’s Proposition 115, an abortion restriction measure overwhelmingly rejected by Colorado voters.

But we didn’t expect today’s story about Republicans throttling back their message on abortion to snare another marquee Colorado Republican candidate, Barb Kirkmeyer running for the brand-new ultracompetitive CD-8:

In a newly created Colorado battleground district, Republican Barb Kirkmeyer listed defending “the Sanctity of Life” on an issue page of her website, according to a July 5 archived version of the page. An old version also included a video of her speech at the 2022 March for Life event. Both references now appear to be gone. [Pols emphasis]

This after less than two weeks ago, when the very same Barb Kirkmeyer had this to say about her position on abortion when asked directly by the Colorado Sun’s Jesse Paul:

“I’ve been very transparent, very open about my position on abortion,” Kirkmeyer said. [Pols emphasis] “It’s a settled question in this state, so I don’t know why they want to keep bringing it back up other than for political reasons. People know who I am.”

How does one square Kirkmeyer’s claim to be “very transparent” on abortion with sanitizing her campaign website of material on the same issue? It’s simple: you can’t. Kirkmeyer just got caught red-handed acting out the opposite of “transparency.” Despite some weak recent attempts to run cover for Kirkmeyer on abortion by untrustworthy fellow Republican surrogates, it’s quite true that she has been for most of career very up front about opposing abortion anywhere at any time.

Until now. Kirkmeyer saw poll numbers that scared her, and her values evaporated like thin morning fog.

At Least They Spelled His Name Right

It’s that time of the year in Colorado when politicians don funny-looking shirts and mingle at cocktail parties in support of the Denver Rustlers at the Colorado State Fair in Pueblo. If you’ve been browsing social media sites lately, you’ve no doubt seen seen the photos.

Republican Senate candidate Joe O’Dea is among the candidates and elected officials in Pueblo this week. As Pols readers know, O’Dea is relatively new to Colorado politics and is not a well-known face, apparently even to the entrenched political types who wrangle people to Pueblo for Denver Rustlers. We caught a glimpse of O’Dea’s name tag in one of the many photos floating around online, and, well, it’s a little embarrassing.

Good luck on your campaign for the U.S. House of Representatives, Joe!

Joe who?

 

Michael Fields’ Partisan Vengeance Won’t Come Cheap

Republican operative Michael Fields, now the face of the recall attempt against Sen. Kevin Priola (D).

As the Denver Post’s Nick Coltrain reports, the estimates are back on the cost to taxpayers and petition signature requirements for the threatened recall election against Sen. Kevin Priola, who switched from the Republican to the Democratic parties earlier this month citing Donald Trump’s war on democracy and Republican indifference on climate change. Secretary of State Jena Griswold also ruled that the recall will be based around the redrawn boundaries of Priola’s district, which gives Priola’s former friends a small advantage:

Voters in the new district have on average given Republican candidates about a plus-four percentage-point margin over eight recent elections, according to nonpartisan redistricting staff. However, its 85,000 registered voters are split nearly dead even between Republicans and Democrats, at 22,602 and 22,544 apiece, respectively, though a plurality of voters there are nonpartisan.

The Secretary of State’s Office did base the signature threshold to force a vote on Priola’s old district. That threshold, 18,291 valid signatures, is 25% of the total votes cast in his last election. The determination on the signature threshold and where they’d need to be gathered was made in consultation with the Colorado Attorney General’s Office, according to a news release.

The special election would cost an estimated $200,000.

Although Priola would obviously have preferred the recall move forward under his old district’s boundaries, his longstanding ties to the area could still be decisively strong with the unaffiliated plurality in the new SD-13. Part of that will depend on whether, after so many unsuccessful and in many cases just plain pathetic attempts, the recall process intended to be used sparingly has been abused to the point of being a discredited tactic.

The prime mover in the GOP’s vengeance campaign against Priola, conservative activist Michael Fields, hopes not:

“Replacing Priola with a state senator who will keep taxes and fees low and help make our state safer is worth it,” Fields said of the cost.

Fields’ zeal to exact revenge on Priola for the sin of switching parties is a significant departure from Fields’ nominally nonpartisan fiscal policy bailiwick, which has comprised most of his public-facing advocacy work for various conservative “stinktanks” like Americans for Prosperity and Colorado Rising Action. Over the last year, however, Fields has had an increasing presence at Republican Party events, and as the face of purely partisan revenge against Sen. Priola, Fields’ “nonpartisan” veneer has been permanently shed.

Fields plunging Republicans into a recall petition campaign against Priola while the GOP is supposed to be organizing for the 2022 midterms in November is a distraction of perhaps even more long-term value to Democrats than Priola’s party switch. Talking about Priola’s defection at all is a terrible thing for Republicans be doing right now, leading inevitably to the reasons why Priola did what he did–for which Republicans have no good answers, particularly not for swing voters. On the other hand, Fields can’t afford to back-burner this campaign until after the election, which would allow whatever backlash against Priola for switching parties to subside.

Since the successful 2013 recalls against Democratic Senators over gun control legislation, the recall process has had a mixed record leading to a dreadful spate of abuses of the process in 2019 by minority Republicans that ended in an embarrassing string of failures. Typified by the failed recall attempt against Rep. Tom Sullivan and then the self-perpetuating joke of failed recall campaigns against Gov. Jared Polis, these failures served mostly to educate the public about how abuse of this important facility in the law could lead to ridiculous outcomes.

Now we’ll just have to wait and see if there’s any appetite for more destruction.