Rematch: Adam Frisch Will Challenge Boebert In 2024

Once and future CD-3 Democratic candidate Adam Frisch.

That’s the big news today via the Colorado Sun’s Jesse Paul:

Democrat Adam Frisch, a former Aspen city councilman who narrowly lost his bid in November to unseat Republican U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert, will run again to represent the 3rd Congressional District in 2024.

“November’s election results show us that Boebert is weak and will be defeated, which is why I have decided to launch my 2024 congressional campaign,” Frisch said in a written statement.

Frisch had already filed paperwork with the Federal Elections Commission to run against Boebert next year. His formal campaign announcement kicks off what’s likely to be one of the nation’s most closely watched congressional contests.

After Adam Frisch’s unexpectedly strong showing against GOP Rep. Lauren Boebert in last November elections, forcing a mandatory recount under state law before Frisch graciously conceded the race, this is a rematch that was fully expected unless Frisch himself opted against it. Since narrowly prevailing over Frisch, Boebert has shown absolutely no sign of changing course to help her perform better in a district that on paper shouldn’t be competitive. Rep. Boebert’s reputation as a “team player” in the GOP caucus despite her immoderate rhetoric was severely damaged during her failed attempt to prevent Kevin McCarthy from becoming Speaker of the House. Boebert’s ongoing public rivalry with Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, whose R+22 district is immeasurably more tolerant of far-right whackadoodlery, shows that Boebert still doesn’t understand her own vulnerability.

Even with Boebert unable to get out of her own way, Frisch will still face the challenges he faced–and again, nearly overcame–in 2022. Will the presidential election year help boost Frisch beyond his groundbreaking performance last year? How might the GOP’s expected presidential primary bloodbath affect Boebert’s own campaign? And how much are national Republicans prepared to spend to prop up Boebert in a race Republicans shouldn’t have to worry about?

Lots of moving parts, but the one thing we know for sure is that just a few months ago, Adam Frisch came within 546 votes of making a loser of Lauren Boebert. For that alone, Frisch has earned the right to try again.

Gazette Brings Conversion Therapy “Debate” Back To Life

In 2019, the Colorado General Assembly passed a prohibition on what’s known as “conversion therapy” performed upon minors, the widely-denounced pseudo-psychological counseling intended to rid the patient of “unwanted” homosexual desires under the presumption that homosexuality is a mental disorder. This bill passed after years of unsuccessful debate over similar measures that resulted in the narrowly split legislature defeating the bill, usually with a flourish of anti-LGBTQ+ prejudice like when then-Rep. Kathleen Conti compared being gay to alcoholism. 20 states have now joined Colorado in banning the practice.

The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry says conversion therapy lacks “scientific credibility and clinical utility.” As a reform on the books for four uncontroversial years and part of a trend of states banning conversion therapy for minors, by a Democratic-dominated legislature that grew from majority to supermajority since passage of this bill, most people would consider the “debate” over conversion therapy to be over. But for GOP gazillionaire Phil Anschutz-owned Denver Gazette worming its way into the Denver media market, nothing is ever over:

Apparently, there is still a “debate” over the efficacy of so-called “conversion therapy”–at the headquarters of Colorado Springs-based Focus on the Family. And it’s not so much of a “debate” as it is Focus refusing to accept settled law:

[Jeff] Johnston of Focus on the Family decries the movement for states to criminalize such therapy.

“I want to emphasize that ‘conversion therapy’ isn’t a thing — counselors can’t force you to do something,” he said. “We believe people should get the help they want and therapists should be able to help them. We advocate for people’s freedom of speech, freedom of religion and self-determination.”

Given the remote possibility of “conversion therapy” being made legal again for use on minor children in Colorado, which would require undoing the last fifteen years of political history, we’re curious why this story was written at all. We’re not aware of any legislation coming to repeal the 2019 bill, and we expect Democrats would welcome a fight over this issue once again given the lack of a political downside.

We’re rehashing “conversion therapy” because Phil Anschutz’s newspaper wants us to.

This is not what the Denver Post would do.

Podcast: Please Stop Yelling at the SOTU (feat. Christy Powell)

It’s her.

This week on the Get More Smarter Podcast, the State of our Union is….WEIRD. Ian Silverii back from the worst seats in the House Gallery because Jason Bane wasn’t invited.

Later, the great Christy Powell joins us with a new game where we try and explain the inexplicable, for prizes (metaphorical ones). Overtly racist pro-claymore mine lobby Rocky Mountain Gun Owners flies its overtly-racist flag. There is still no bottom with Representative Scott Bottoms. And our 8th favorite member of Congress from Colorado, Lauren Boebert, has some loud thoughts about WHO TURNED OFF MY TWITTER MACHINE???

Listen to previous episodes of The Get More Smarter Podcast at

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GOP Glee Over IRS TABOR Snafu Says a Mouthful

Gov. Jared Polis (D).

As Colorado Newsline’s Lindsey Toomer reports, uncertainty thrown into the already fraught annual affair that is tax season in the United States by the Internal Revenue Service’s indecision on how to treat special tax refunds and economic stimulus payments made by nearly 20 states in 2022 was relieved Friday night, with the announcement that the IRS will not treat those payments as taxable income:

On Feb. 3, the IRS encouraged taxpayers who were uncertain about their state refunds to hold off on filing their taxes until the agency released additional guidance. Colorado’s TABOR refunds totaling $750 for single filers and $1,500 for joint filers were among 19 state refunds called into question.

“The IRS has determined that in the interest of sound tax administration and other factors, taxpayers in many states will not need to report these payments on their 2022 tax returns,” the IRS said in a statement.

Colorado’s full bipartisan federal delegation as well as Gov. Jared Polis wrote to IRS Commissioner Douglas O’Donnell asking the agency to treat the refunds as nontaxable income.

“We, like millions of Coloradans, are breathing a sigh of relief that the IRS and federal government have stepped away from taxing our refunds this year,” Polis said in a news release. “This ultimately is the best outcome for families and individuals and we will continue seeking out more ways to save people money. I will continue fighting to maintain this precedent that refunds under TABOR should never be taxed.”

Although Colorado is the only state with a constitutional refund mechanism for so-called “excess” revenue over the arbitrary limit set by the 1992 TABOR initiative, the state was far from alone in distributing revenue directly to taxpayers as part of a variety of temporary economic relief measures. The IRS’s scrutiny of last year’s Colorado Cashback program, which resulted in the jarring announcement last week that Coloradans should hold off on filing our tax returns, produced a similar moment of panic in other affected states.

But if you were a Colorado Republican, this debacle was solely the fault of–you guessed it–Gov. Jared Polis:

It’s a tactic we’ve seen more times than we can count, a good example being the absurd attempt to blame Gov. Polis for the global crash in oil production that accompanied the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic after the passage of state-level drilling reforms–or that Colorado’s new “red flag” law would have resulted in outlandish “unintended consequences” despite having been successfully implemented in other states. The IRS did not single out Colorado for this admittedly ill-timed second-guessing, and as a TABOR tax refund mechanism, last year’s Colorado Cashback checks were if anything more clearly not taxable than economic relief checks distributed by some other states.

It was a relief to see Colorado’s entire congressional delegation clap back in unison when the IRS asked taxpayers in all of the affected states to delay filing their tax returns. That stands in stark contrast to less responsible local Republicans (see above) with their pre-existing axes to grind who can’t help but try to exploit the confusion created by the IRS’s actions for political gain. The only change in last year’s reformulated Colorado Cashback refunds was to make them equal, which had the effect of boosting substantially the amount distributed to lower-income households. Despite a furious campaign from Republicans to badmouth Democrats’ rejiggering of TABOR to help lower-income Coloradans, based on the results of last year’s elections we can conclude with certainty that voters liked it just fine.

As a general rule, it’s risky politics to be gleeful about other people’s pain, especially regarding something as important as timely filing of tax returns. Last week’s surprise announcement by the IRS caused unnecessary chaos for thousands of Colorado households who had already or were about to file their returns. By pretending Colorado was somehow unique in this uncertainty, and by hammering away with off-base political attacks instead of showing some sympathy for affected Colorado taxpayers, too many local Republicans showed again that in their estimation, political leverage is worth seeing people suffer.

If you ever find yourself on that side of the debate, it’s the wrong side.

Lauren Boebert Goes Back To The Circus

While Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene arrived at this week’s State of the Union address wearing a bulky white Chinese balloon-style costume and loudly heckled President Joe Biden throughout the event, Greene’s rival and fellow sophomore outrage condenser Rep. Lauren Boebert of Colorado made her biggest splash on Twitter with the following now-infamous but as-yet undeleted moment of ludicrousness:

Lauren Boebert sweating potential defeat on Election Night 2022.

We expect our astute readers to instantly recognize that this accusation is false, since it was governors and not presidents who made the decision to close schools during the early vaccineless phases of the COVID-19 pandemic–and that doesn’t matter anyway, since Donald Trump was President of the United States when the schools closed, not Joe Biden. Boebert wasn’t just a little bit wrong in this case, and her mindless poo-flinging betrayed a much deeper ignorance than even most Democrats would have presumed.

After barely surviving a re-election campaign she was supposed to win easily and promising afterward to “turn down the temperature” after two years as one of the most visible, least productive members of Congress, since returning to Congress in January Rep. Boebert has shown no sign whatsoever of changing course. Boebert’s calamitous stand against now-House Speaker Kevin McCarthy resulted in MTG severing any remaining public pretense of friendship. But as the Independent’s John Bowden reports, that didn’t stop the two from making themselves the “Q-some Twosome” stars of this week’s hearing of the House Oversight Committee, devoted to uncovering alleged censorship at Twitter before Elon Musk took over:

Reps Marjorie Taylor Greene and Lauren Boebert fumed about supposed shadow bans and censorship of conservatives, which Twitter executives have long denied ever occurred. Ms Greene, in particular, was so incensed that she ranted about how she would not let Twitter’s former head of safety, Yoel Roth, respond to her questions (thereby making it unclear why a hearing was necessary at all)…

Ms Boebert…used her question time to harrangue Mr Roth about whether he personally authorised the “shadowbanning” of her account, @LaurenBoebert; Mr Roth repeatedly stated that he did not, though Ms Boebert would insist otherwise while growing visibly emotional and claiming that “Twitter staff” had informed her “last night” that he had done so.

All in all, it was a chaotic mess that exemplified the tumultuous start of the 118th Congress, which took more than a dozen tries to elect a Speaker of the House and was widely mocked this week in the media and online after Ms Greene and others caused disruptions during the president’s State of the Union address.

After which Boebert more or less went off the deep end of nuttery:

So everyone’s clear, the “poll” Boebert is misquoting is a joke–and as for Boebert’s suggestion that Wednedsay’s Twitter issues were a conspiracy, Musk has had enough problems keeping the lights on that we’d hesitate to go there without very good evidence.

At this point, it doesn’t matter if MTG and Boebert are friends or blood rivals. The competition between these two bombastic figures to occupy the outer limits of the far right of the Republican Party is just another factor preventing Boebert from “turning down the temperature,” not that she would be inclined anyway. Whether it’s Boebert’s messianic conviction about her election to Congress or a simple inability to recognize self-injurious behavior, Boebert is freshly proving her inability to become less of a risk in a district Republicans shouldn’t have to worry about.

From county party turmoil to the halls of Congress, chaos reigns in today’s GOP.

In Colorado, Boebert remains the face at the top of the pile.

Gun-Toting Kids? Missouri Republicans Say Pack That Heat

Kyle Rittenhouse openly carries an AR-15 through the streets of Kenosha, Wisconsin.

The Washington Post’s Timothy Bella reports on a vote in the GOP-dominated Missouri House of Representatives so sketchy that even the most ardent gun rights supporters have to wonder if they haven’t taken the concept of “guns for everyone” a step too far:

The Republican-controlled Missouri House of Representatives rejected a proposal Wednesday that would have banned children from being able to openly carry firearms on public land without adult supervision.

The proposal, which was part of a long debate in the chamber on how to fight crime in St. Louis, was defeated by a vote of 104-39, with just one Republican voting in support of the ban. After the amendment on the open-carry restrictions for minors was initially supported by the Republican legislator sponsoring a broader crime bill, GOP lawmakers on a committee that he leads removed the firearms provision last week…

State Rep. Donna Baringer (D), who represents St. Louis and sponsored the amendment to H.B. 301, said she brought the proposal to the chamber after police in her district requested tighter regulations to stop “14-year-olds walking down the middle of the street in the city of St. Louis carrying AR-15s.”

Even though it’s not (yet) legal for children in Missouri to own guns, and the consequences of individuals without well-developed adult sensibilities including a daily weapon as a fashion accessory are well-known, every Missouri House Republican save one voted to let the practice continue:

“I just have a different approach for addressing public safety that doesn’t deprive people, who have done nothing to any other person, who will commit no violence, from their freedom,” Republican state Rep. Bill Hardwick, who represents Pulaski County and Fort Leonard Wood, told the Post-Dispatch.

And with that, children in Missouri who can’t legally own a gun can parade it down the street without an adult in sight! If that makes sense to you, all we can say is your name must be Kyle Rittenhouse, because this twisted logic is why he’s not in prison for killing two people. It should not make sense to any reasonable person.

But when it comes to guns in America, all too often reason has no relationship with policy.

Double the County Officers, Double the Confusion

Elephant fight!

We’ve been writing a lot recently about the “Circle of Strife” within the Colorado Republican Party, and particularly the ongoing fight between Republicans in El Paso County that has forced the involvement of the State Republican Party.

This story just keeps getting more and more bizarre, and on Saturday it will reach a new level of insanity: El Paso County (EPC) Republicans will hold TWO separate elections at TWO different locations at the same time, with each presiding group claiming to have selected the only true slate of county party leaders for the 2024 election cycle. These elections will also determine dozens of “bonus members” from the county; all of these positions will be important on March 11, when Republicans from across the state gather to elect a new State Party Chairperson.

Click here for a detailed background of this stone-throwing, finger-wagging, lawyer-hiring debacle. The short(ish) version is this: Republicans in EPC asked the State Republican Party to intervene in Saturday’s election for new county party officers in EPC because of concerns about the heavy-handed tactics of current EPC GOP Chair Vickie Tonkins. These Republicans, who include former Secretary of State and current Colorado Springs Mayoral hopeful Wayne Williams, were worried that Tonkins might try to rig the Feb. 11 elections in her favor (she is seeking a third consecutive term as Chair) and in support of her preferred candidates for Vice Chair and Secretary. This is not a baseless concern, since many EPC Republicans believe that Tonkins essentially rigged the 2021 election for EPC Chair in her favor.

“If you are a member of the El Paso County Central Committee, your vote will ONLY BE VALID if you cast it at the Discovery meeting…

…The meeting Chairwoman Tonkins is leading is not the officially recognized meeting, and anyone who claims to be elected out of that meeting will not be recognized.”

     — State GOP Chair Kristi Burton Brown in an email to EPC county voters.

Tonkins and the official EPC GOP filed a lawsuit to stop the State GOP from bigfooting their county reorganization election; one day later, the State Party voted in an unprecedented internal election to appoint a “neutral” arbiter to oversee the elections taking place on Saturday. On Thursday, the EPC GOP learned that their initial lawsuit had been rejected by a district court judge. As Ernest Luning explains for the publication formerly known as the Colorado Statesman:

A district court judge on Thursday threw out a complaint filed by the El Paso County Republican Party that sought to prevent the Colorado GOP from stepping in to run the county party’s upcoming leadership elections.

Colorado law clearly gives state political parties’ central committees the power to resolve county party controversies, leaving the courts without jurisdiction in such disputes, 18th Judicial District Judge Elizabeth Volz said in an order dismissing the county GOP’s lawsuit.

A complaint filed last week by El Paso County GOP chair Vickie Tonkins and six precinct-level Republican officers on behalf of the county party asked the court to block the state Republican Party and its chair, Kristi Burton Brown, from putting in place a neutral team of outsiders to supervise the county party’s reorganization meeting, which is scheduled to take place on Saturday in Colorado Springs.

An attorney for Tonkins and the El Paso County party said late Thursday that his clients are “disappointed” with the ruling and plan to appeal.

That means county Republicans still plan to hold two separate party elections on Saturday at different locations, with each side charging the other’s is illegal and won’t count.

Tonkins and her supporters in EPC say that they are appealing the judge’s ruling, but that appeal won’t be decided before tomorrow’s elections, which will undoubtedly result in more confusion for the GOP faithful and fuel later claims of disenfranchisement from whichever group ultimately loses.

“[This] is the only official call and information regarding the only legitimate meeting…

…[There are] corrupt establishment insiders who are trying to mislead you and steal your vote so there is no reason to go to the fake meeting.”

     — El Paso County GOP Chair Vickie Tonkins in a series of emails to EPC county voters.

If you’re still confused, imagine how EPC Republican voters are feeling. Attorneys for Tonkins argue that 18th Judicial District Judge Elizabeth Volz did not actually rule in favor of the State GOP on Thursday but merely pointed out that the court does not have jurisdiction in the matter. Kristi Burton Brown and the State GOP believe that Volz did, in fact, rule in their favor and that Colorado statutes support their ability to oversee county party elections.

This isn’t just a fight among unknown GOP insiders, either. Some of the more recognizable names in Colorado Republican politics have taken sides as either “Pro-Tonkins” or “Anti-Tonkins” (the “anti-Tonkins” group also calls itself “Pikes Peak United Republicans”). Here’s a brief list of names on each side:


Vicki Tonkins


♦ State Rep. Scott “There Is No” Bottoms

♦ State Rep. Ken “Skin” DeGraaf

♦ Former State Rep. Dave Williams

♦ Todd Watkins, failed 2022 candidate for EPC Sheriff

Most of the Republican candidates who lost a Primary Election in EPC in 2022, including Peter Lupia; Rae Ann Weber (the self-dubbed “Constitutional Coroner”); Lynda Zamora Wilson; and Karl Dent.



♦ State GOP Chair Kristi Burton Brown

♦  Former Secretary of State and current Colorado Springs City Council Member Wayne Williams

♦ Former State Rep. Lois Landgraf

♦ EPC GOP Treasurer Chuck Broerman

♦ State Sen. Bob Gardner

♦ State Sen. Larry Liston

♦ State Rep. Mary Bradfield

 Former EPC Party Chair and failed 2022 U.S. Senate candidate Eli Bremer


In an appearance on Randy Corporon’s KNUS radio show recently, State Rep. Scott Bottoms framed the battle in EPC as the age-old “establishment Republicans” versus the “real” grassroots GOP base:

[Establishment Republicans] don’t like guys like myself and Ken DeGraff in District 22 that have come up and we’re saying, ‘Hey, we’re actually going to be Republicans.’ And that’s that’s very dangerous to them because that’s what the people want and it’s not what they want…[Pols emphasis]

…There’s this mentality that the Republicans have had for so long that if we’re just really nice, everything will work out. And we and they kowtow more to the Democrats than they do the Republicans.

And then you’ve got this group down here in El Paso County that they’ve been used to…[for] so long actually being controlled by Democrats, thinking that when some people in the grassroots stand up and say, ‘This is enough, we’re not doing this,’ and they cannot handle it — they will not let that happen. They’ve got a nice big cash cow. They’ve got this power, they’ve got this control, and they don’t want the average people to have a voice in that. And that’s that’s part of the reason I ran. That’s part of the reason I know that Representative DeGraaf ran because we’re tired of this stuff. [Pols emphasis]

Speaking on KLZ radio’s “Rush to Reason” show, former State Rep. Dave Williams outlined similar concerns, particularly his grievances over the formation last summer of the “Peak Republicans” group that operated separately from the EPC GOP:

But really, the bone of contention here was that for a considerable amount of time, specifically toward the end of the election cycle, this group [“Peak Republicans”] was purporting to be the actual Republican Party headquarters and misrepresenting themselves as the actual apparatus, an organization that you would know as the El Paso County Republican Party.

This dispute won’t likely be settled in time for tomorrow’s elections, which means that EPC Republicans will end up electing TWO county party chairs, TWO county party vice chairs, TWO county party secretaries, and TWO sets of bonus delegates. You don’t need an abacus to understand the calculation that half of those people are going to be pretty pissed off when they eventually learn — once and for all — that they didn’t actually get elected to do anything. It will be equally confusing for the three candidates running for State Party Chair — Casper Stockham, Aaron Wood, and Erik Aadland — who will be trying to rally support from both groups just in case.

The only certainty in all of this is that EPC Republicans aren’t going to be singing “Kumbaya” anytime soon, which is a bad sign in a county that has long been the beating heart of the Colorado Republican Party.

Tina Peters Gets Months More To Loom Over GOP’s Future

Tina Peters on the red carpet at Mar-a-Lago last year.

As Colorado Public Radio’s Bente Birkeland reports, the upcoming trial of former Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters on felony tampering and misconduct charges, which was provisionally set to begin next month, has been delayed until the summer as both sides process a huge dump of information from the federal side of the investigation:

The defense said it needs more time to examine a trove of new information and data from the Federal Bureau of Investigation related to the case. Peters faces ten state criminal charges but a federal investigation is ongoing.

The trial was originally scheduled to begin March 6 in Grand Junction, before the judge agreed to the delay. The prosecution and defense are expected to meet Feb. 22 to set a new trial date, likely this summer…

Peters has been charged with identity theft, criminal impersonation and official misconduct, among other things, over allegedly using [another man’s] identity to create an office key card that a different man then used to access secure parts of the Mesa County elections office during a system update of the voting equipment.

Tina Peters, who enjoyed freedom to travel as a candidate for Secretary of State in 2022 that allowed her to be honored at Mar-a-Lago and the star of conferences dedicated to election conspiracy theories across the country, is to our knowledge generally restricted now from leaving the state as a condition of her pre-trial bond. Peters not only asserts her innocence, but claims to be both morally and legally justified in her actions as a “whistleblower” exposing the supposed theft of the 2020 presidential election from Donald Trump. Peters is of course far from alone in that belief despite none of her actions supplying any such evidence, and in general Peters’ support and opposition break consistently with belief in the larger “Big Lie.”

That means for as long as Peters remains an unconvicted felon, she will retain a base of unshakable support and remain influential in party politics. All three of the major candidates to be the next chairman of the Colorado Republican Party, Erik Aadland, Aaron Wood, and Casper Stockham are on-the-record election deniers–and since Peters no longer has a trial starting up next month, she’ll have time to campaign for one of them. Peters’ criminal trial, in which she is innocent until proven guilty but also does not appear to be a close case with co-conspirators singing like canaries and Peters readily admitting to most of what’s alleged, looks to be the only thing that can put an end to Peters’ pernicious influence on her party.

Which is why, for all of Tina Peters’ complaints, the lack of a speedy trial won’t be one of them.

Inside The Sick Arrogance Of RMGO’s Non-Apology

UPDATE: Marianne Goodland at the Colorado Springs Gazette reports:

Lorusso, who hosts the two-hour program Common Nonsense on 1360 KHNC, a conservative talk radio show based in Johnstown, has testified on behalf of RMGO in community hearings throughout 2022, including in Boulder last August, where he said his group would sue over a handful of ordinances adopted in Boulder County communities on guns. In July, RMGO later obtained a temporary restraining order in July against the town of Superior over its ordinance banning so-called “assault weapons.”

Lorusso doubled down on his comments in an interview with KUSA Tuesday, describing Black children who are killed by guns as “gangland violence” and said those deaths are separate from gun deaths for children of other races.

On Wednesday, Taylor Rhodes, RMGO’s executive director, told KMGH that Lorusso is the group’s most junior staffer and that he was nervous during the committee testimony. Rhodes did not apologize for Lorusso’s comments.


Kevin Lorusso of Rocky Mountain Gun Owners.

We’ve been talking for a few days now about testimony from a lobbyist for Rocky Mountain Gun Owners in a Colorado House committee hearing Monday, in which under questioning from Democratic Rep. Kyle Brown, Kevin Lorusso asserted that Black children under the age of nineteen should not be counted in gun violence statistics. Again, here is the verbatim dialogue from the House State Affairs Committee:

REP. BROWN: According to an article published in the New England Journal of Medicine by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, firearms are the leading cause of death for American children. More than 5 deaths per 100,000 Americans between the ages of one and 19 were due to guns in 2020.

KEVIN LORUSSO: Uh, yeah, so if you remove Black males from that age group from that, it is not true. And that is a symptom of a different issue. The issue that is causing young Black males to be killed in their homes, on their streets, is a very different issue. [Pols emphasis]

When questioned by 9NEWS’ Kyle Clark, Lorusso acknowledged that his remarks “came off horrible” but insisted there would be somehow “no racial intent” behind removing–again, his words–“Black males from that age group” from gun violence statistics:

LoRusso stood by his statement over the phone. [Pols emphasis]

He described Black children being killed as “gangland violence” and a separate issue from gun deaths among other children of other races.

“There was no racial intent behind it,” LoRusso told 9NEWS. “I can understand how it can be taken out of context.” After a lengthy defense of his remarks, [Pols emphasis] LoRusso acknowledged his comments “came off horrible.”

The problem here of course is not with the well-known statistics on the racial distribution of gun violence victims, but rather the idea that Black children are somehow “skewing” gun violence statistics and should therefore be categorized separately. The only way you can do that is if you believe Black lives have inherently lesser value than children of other races. When given a chance to make clear that’s not what Mr. Lorusso believes, he chose to double down on the point that Blacks dying from gun violence is a “different issue.”

Last night, apparently becoming aware that Lorusso had rather seriously screwed up in letting slip this unscripted moment of alt-right “race realism,” Rocky Mountain Gun Owners released the following statement via Denver7’s Meghan Lopez:

Executive Director Taylor Rhodes said in a statement to Denver7, “Monday, I allowed Kevin Lorusso, our most junior staffer, [Pols emphasis] to testify on behalf of Rocky Mountain Gun Owners on two bills we knew were going to die in committee to get him experience in the public forum. If you have testified on behalf of a large organization, or even on behalf of yourself, this can be a very nerve-wracking exercise. In his testimony, he misspoke when discussing a heated topic surrounding the gun issue. Rocky Mountain Gun Owners will continually support and defend the Second Amendment freedoms of all law-abiding Coloradans.”

The statement went on to say that RMGO will not provide any more interviews or statements on the topic but will continue to fight for gun rights at the Colorado State Capitol.

No apology, not even a hint of regret. By characterizing Lorusso’s comments as having “misspoke,” RMGO fails to resolve Lorusso’s subsequent defense of his statements to 9NEWS. RMGO had the same opportunity that Lorusso did to acknowledge the problem with what Lorusso was proposing, intentionally downplaying gun violence statistics by excluding a certain race–and they chose not to address the question at all.

Because Lorusso meant exactly what he said. While it’s true that the fate of these ill-conceived pro-gun bills in the Democratic-controlled legislation was never in question, as RMGO carries out their latest legal campaign of suing local governments who take advantage of new Colorado law allowing for local gun control ordinances, it’s fair to say they don’t need the taint of overt racism accompanying them into the courtroom.

Once again, the “junior staffer” has messed up the whole program.

RMGO: Don’t Count Black Kids in Gun Violence Statistics

WEDNESDAY UPDATE: 9NEWS’ Kyle Clark followed up yesterday evening with Rocky Mountain Gun Owners’ Kevin Lorusso, who stands by his suggestion to exclude young Black males from gun death statistics:


Apparently you can contact Mr. Lorusso for an apology on a case-by-case basis, but we’re guessing it will contain the word “snowflake.” In the absence of any official Republican condemnation, we’re left to conclude that Mr. Lorusso speaks for the gun lobby as a whole.

And they like the racist stuff he says.


UPDATE: Sara Loflin of liberal activist group ProgressNow Colorado condemns Rocky Mountain Gun Owners for their “racist and immoral devaluation of Black lives.”

“Black lives matter, and every single victim of gun violence matters,” said ProgressNow Colorado Executive Director Sara Loflin. “The epidemic of gun violence has wreaked immeasurable harm to families, communities, and our nation. For the gun lobby to suggest ‘removing’ Black males under the age of nineteen from gun death statistics in order to understate the total impact of gun violence is a racist and immoral devaluation of Black lives, and an affront to the humanity of every person of color in America. The death of children caused by gun violence in America is an assault on our future, and must never be racially downplayed to achieve a desired statistic. It is deplorable that anyone would suggest otherwise.”

“What surfaced yesterday in the Colorado House State Affairs Committee is simply racism that still holds sway among far too many conservatives in America today,” said Loflin. “It’s a sad reality that Kevin Lorusso speaks for a substantial number of Republicans who believe BIPOC families are outsiders in their own communities. The racism on display in the committee hearing yesterday has no place in Colorado politics or in our legislature, and must be condemned without partisan distinction.”


Picture of a (white) kid holding a gun.

State lawmakers discussed two bills related to expanding rights for gun owners on Monday in the State, Civic, Military and Veterans Affairs committee. It didn’t take long for Republicans to lose their minds during the testimony, which included an absolutely disgusting comment from a representative of the militant gun rights group Rocky Mountain Gun Owners.

The conversation in the State, Civic, Military and Veterans Affairs committee centered around HB23-1044 “Second Amendment Preservation Act” (sponsored by Rep. Ken DeGraaf) and HB23-1050 “Protection of Business from Unlawful Entry” (sponsored by Rep. Ty Winter). HB-1044 is a ridiculous attempt to override even federal regulations on firearms. HB-1050 basically allows business owners to shoot whoever they want.

About 90 minutes into the testimony, as you can hear in the clip below, Democratic State Rep. Kyle Brown makes a point about gun violence being the leading cause of death for American children. Kevin Lorusso — who said he was testifying “on behalf of Rocky Mountain Gun Owners and our more than 200,000 members and supporters across the state of Colorado” — then responds with a truly despicable claim:



REP. BROWN: According to an article published in the New England Journal of Medicine by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, firearms are the leading cause of death for American children. More than 5 deaths per 100,000 Americans between the ages of one and 19 were due to guns in 2020.

KEVIN LORUSSO: Uh, yeah, so if you remove Black males from that age group from that, it is not true. And that is a symptom of a different issue. The issue that is causing young Black males to be killed in their homes, on their streets, is a very different issue. [Pols emphasis]


Lorusso’s argument has something to do with his belief that Black kids are killed primarily with guns that were acquired illegally. We would assume that most of those guns were once manufactured legally, but that’s not the point here. A prominent gun rights group is arguing in public that national statistics about gun deaths among children shouldn’t count Black kids.


Rocky Mountain Gun Owners (RMGO) is a self-described “no compromise” gun rights organization that is tied into the National Association of Gun Rights (NAGR); both organizations share many of the same goals as the National Rifle Association (NRA), though RMGO and NAGR are further to the right than the NRA. Here in Colorado, RMGO has a sordid history that has led them to be called “Colorado’s Taliban.” In 2019, RMGO was blasted by Republican Cole Wist over their efforts to recall then-Rep. Tom Sullivan, a Democrat who had defeated Wist the previous November (now a State Senator, Sullivan’s son Alex was among those killed in the 2012 Aurora Theater Shooting).

This was not the only questionable line of argument made by Republicans on Monday. Both Reps. Ken DeGraaf and Scott “There is No” Bottoms angrily questioned the motives of a handful of teenagers from different chapters of “Students Demand Action” who had come to the State Capitol to testify in opposition to the bills.

While RMGO may have extreme views on gun ownership, they also have plenty of supporters in the Colorado Republican Party. Both DeGraaf and Bottoms were formally endorsed by RMGO in 2022 and received contributions to their campaign coffers. In its pre-Primary endorsement, RMGO wrote that Bottoms “is passionate about defending the Second Amendment from its political enemies.”

Hickenlooper Joins Call for Investigation Over Rising Utility Rates

Senator John Hickenlooper (D-Denver)

As Colorado Public Radio reported last week, Xcel Energy says it has a “plan” to reduce utility costs now that enough consumers have complained about rising rates. That “plan” is essentially just to pass along savings from lower natural gas prices, which is something that you would hope a utility provider would be doing anyway.

Xcel and other utility companies have caused enough pain across the country that Democratic Senators — including Colorado Sen. John Hickenlooper (D-Denver) — are demanding more accountability for utilities charging astronomical rates to consumers. According to a press release from Hickenlooper’s office:

This week, U.S. Senators John Hickenlooper, Sheldon Whitehouse, Chris Van Hollen, and Elizabeth Warren sent a letter to Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Chair Lina Khan requesting the agency investigate the investor-owned utility industry’s abusive practices that drive up costs, hurt consumers, and damage the public trust.

In the letter, the Senators highlight how the changing energy landscape can threaten existing electricity industry profit models, and implore the FTC to look into potentially harmful and deceptive actions taken by utility companies that prioritize profit. [Pols emphasis]

“Some utilities have responded by engaging in questionable practices to subvert these trends in the interest of protecting their profits over the pockets of their customers, harming poor communities and communities of color in particular,” wrote the Senators. “We believe these disturbing anti-competitive and anti-democratic incidents merit an FTC investigation.”

The Senators’ letter supports a May 2022 petition submitted by more than 230 organizations and advocates, including Environment Colorado, Environment Colorado Research & Policy Center, the Center for Asian Studies (CASE) at the University of Colorado, and Living Rivers & Colorado Riverkeeper.

Click here to read the full letter from the Senators. Colorado has two investor-owned utilities that would be affected by an FTC investigation: Xcel Energy and Black Hills Energy.

Scott Bottoms and the Tax Cut Zombies

Heidi Ganahl and Dean Singleton in Sept. 2022.

One of the more entertaining and enlightening moments of the 2022 election cycle in Colorado took place in September during a gubernatorial candidate forum hosted by Colorado Concern. Longtime Denver Post publisher Dean Singleton was the moderator of the event; he tried really, really hard to understand how Republican Heidi Ganahl planned to eliminate the state income tax while also avoiding MASSIVE cuts to important government services that would result from making billions of dollars in revenue just vanish.

Despite promising that she would eventually come up with a plan for her plan to eliminate the state income tax, Ganahl never did put forward anything that could have even remotely been considered a plausible path forward for eliminating the state income tax and continuing to pay for things like public education and road maintenance. As Ryan Warner of Colorado Public Radio said to Ganahl in July 2022 in response to her plans to eliminate the income tax and halve the gas tax, ““I hear you talking about growth and oversight and regulation. I don’t hear where you would get $9 billion and another $600 million in savings.”

As The Colorado Sun wrote in a separate story last July: “Conservatives have mostly avoided calls to eliminate the income tax, which has been around since 1937, because no one has presented a feasible way to do it.”

Like a Bizarro Robin Hood

Evidently Republican State Rep. Scott “There is No” Bottoms did not get the memo on this subject (or, frankly, on any other subject). Bottoms, a freshman Republican lawmaker from Colorado Springs, is sponsoring legislation (HB23-1063) that seeks to “reduce both the individual and the corporate state income tax rates from 4.40% to 3.5%” starting on January 1, 2024.

On Tuesday, the nonpartisan Legislative Council Staff released its required Demographic/Fiscal note on Bottoms’ proposal. Here’s the Bottoms line:

This bill may increase existing income disparities by providing larger tax savings for those with higher incomes, both in absolute amounts and proportionally to income. [Pols emphasis]

Individuals who are not required to file income taxes because they have insufficient incomes and those without an income tax liability due [to] the structure of the federal and state income tax code (e.g., deductions and tax credits) will be unaffected by the change in income tax liability under the bill. Higher income earners, who tend to have a higher income tax liability, are more likely to experience income increases from tax savings under HB 23-1063.

State Rep. Scott “There is No” Bottoms (R-Colorado Springs)

In other words, only wealthy Coloradans (and the zombie “think tank” wizards who are paid by wealthy people) would see any real benefit from reducing Colorado’s state income tax rate from 4.40% to 3.5%. Middle- and lower-income Coloradans could end up paying more in taxes as a result.

For example, a Coloradan who is a single filer with an annual income of $52,000 or less would save about $85 per year from the reduced income tax rate. HOWEVER, the overall impact would mean a $249 reduction in TABOR refund savings for that same individual; the net result for such a person would be a $164 INCREASE in taxes owed. Meanwhile, taxpayers with incomes of more than $200,000 per year would save about $3,500 annually…a savings they might barely even notice.

There’s no pressing need to even discuss this stupid idea, but Ganahl and Bottoms are part of a generation of Republicans who were raised on a message that tax cuts are always good policy for everyone in any situation and no-one should ever question that wisdom, period. The rhetoric is part of the Reagan-era “Trickle Down Economics” theory that has been widely debunked as providing virtually no benefits for anyone who isn’t already rich.

Republicans such as Ganahl and Bottoms either A) Only care about helping rich people make more money, or B) Have no actual idea how tax and fiscal policy actually works. Or perhaps, C) Both.

Fortunately, Colorado voters have seen through these nonsense claims over the years and have elected representatives who are not solely interested in giving wealthy people a little more ‘walking around money’. This legislation, like everything else touched by Bottoms, will go nowhere in a state legislature with a Democratic majority.

Boebert: Speaker McCarthy Is Just Another Demon

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-SATAN).

The Washington Post’s Amy Wang reports via Twitter ubertracker PatriotTakes on Colorado GOP trainwreck por vida Rep. Lauren Boebert, on a speaking tour this past weekend in Dallas–and if you were wondering how Boebert has been processing the battle over now-House Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s ascension to the post, a battle Boebert lost after fourteen rounds of voting left her and Rep. Matt “Giggity” Gaetz as the last desperate holdouts, Boebert has a lot to say.

Nothing we expect Speaker McCarthy will be pleased to hear, however:

Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.) suggested that God used her to stand up to House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), whom she indirectly referred to as one of her “demons,” while speaking at a women’s conference at a Dallas church over the weekend.

“Ladies … God is using you in mighty ways,” she told a crowd of what appeared to be mostly women, according to clips of her remarks posted by PatriotTakes, a liberal PAC. Boebert was a featured speaker at the SALT Conference at Storehouse Dallas, which aims to provide “spiritual and leadership training to equip an army of women to awaken culture with the truth and love of Jesus.”

“Maybe he’ll have you ball up your fists and stand in front of some demons — maybe a speaker of the House?” Boebert added, to laughter and a standing ovation from those in the audience. [Pols emphasis]

Full stop. Did Rep. Boebert just call Speaker McCarthy a demon? As in an actual according-to-Hoyle Dr. Chapscertified servant of the dark lord himself?

After some of the laughter died down, Boebert joked that she had also stood up to former House speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), “so nobody knows what I really meant there, for the record, when they try to put this in print.”

To be fair, nobody knows what Boebert means at least 20% of the time she speaks. But in this case, we think there was no mistaking in that venue with that audience who Boebert was calling a “demon.” They all certainly agreed with Boebert’s description in the case of Nancy Pelosi, but it was “standing in front of” McCarthy that earned Boebert the standing ovation.

Speaker McCarthy has by all accounts been good to his word regarding the sweeping concessions he made to the far right to buy off opposition–and critically in Boebert’s case, to refrain from retaliation against the engineers of McCarthy’s embarrassing confirmation fight. But one has to wonder how long that largesse can last with Boebert running around the country framing fellow Republican Speaker McCarthy as her demonic opponent.

Neither Jesus nor Ronald Reagan would approve.

v WpluerEE Fb Tyo N wa G

2023 State of the Union Open Thread

CNN reports, the law has been allegedly laid down:

Ahead of President Joe Biden’s State of the Union address, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy warned members during a closed-door meeting to behave themselves, reminding them that the “mics are hot” and the “cameras are on,” according to a source in the room.

House GOP conference chair Elise Stefanik issued a similar warning.

Tonight, President Joe Biden is expected to take a victory lap after a historically productive first two years in office, punctuated by the best midterm performance by a sitting President’s party in two decades. Republicans in narrow control of the House are unlikely to see things so positively, of course, necessitating Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s warning to be on their best behavior. Will Rep. Lauren Boebert make it through tonight’s address without a spectacle? We’ll be watching to see how Boebert’s ongoing feud with fellow controversy magnet Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene impacts their willingness/ability to make a scene like they did last year.

Catch the address live below, and watch this space for updates and antics:

The Circle of Strife: What Does “Winning” Really Mean?

[Pols Note: This is Part 3 of a three-part series. Click for Part 1 and Part 2]

Take a look at this headline from POLITICO and see if it seems familiar:

The story that goes with the headline is about Arizona, but it could apply equally to Colorado.

In Arizona, Republicans are rushing to censure each other for all matter of grievances — real and perceived — from the 2022 election cycle. The same thing has happened in Colorado: The El Paso County Republican Party voted to censure a bunch of Republicans on the weekend before Election Day, and the State Republican Party responded a few weeks later by censuring the El Paso County Republicans who did the earlier censuring.

Best in years? Gubernatorial candidate Heidi Ganahl and Senate candidate Joe O’Dea lost their 2022 races by a combined 33 points.

Republicans in Arizona insist that they had strong candidates in 2022. One GOP strategist told POLITICO that gubernatorial loser Kari Lake was “the best candidate in anyone’s lifetime.” Following significant losses in Colorado last November, both State Party Chairperson Kristi Burton Brown (KBB) and former State Party Chairperson Dick Wadhams told reporters something very similar; they claimed that Colorado Republicans in 2022 had the best slate of candidates the GOP has seen in years. That’s an ominous takeaway when all of those top-ticket candidates were crushed at the polls by their Democratic opponents.

In Arizona, the outgoing State Republican Party Chair (Kelli Ward) recently told a gathering of Republicans that, “Things at the party are going great.” In Colorado, this is one message that Republicans don’t seem to be willing or able to repeat.

As Colorado Republicans prepare to elect a new State Party Chairperson next month, they are grappling with many of the same problems as their counterparts in Arizona. As Kyle Clark of 9News recently summarized on the Get More Smarter Podcast:

I think the broader question for Colorado Republicans is, ‘Do you want to win?’ I think, for a lot of them, the answer is ‘no’.

[Their answer is that] I want to stand for what I believe in and I want to influence the policy debate in that direction. I’m not interested in putting up centrists. I’m interested in putting up people who reflect my views, even if they lose. And you know what, it’s their party. They get to do what they want. 

This quote also fits perfectly in any discussion about the next State Party Chair. While other candidates could emerge between now and March 11, the current field of challengers  include Casper Stockham, Erik Aadland, and Aaron Wood. Former State Senate candidate Stephen Varela had made noise about a potential campaign but seems to have backed away since winning a vacancy committee appointment to serve on the State Board of Education.

Perhaps Stockham, Aadland, or Wood will prove to have the leadership chops to right the sinking Colorado Republican ship…but their resumes do not inspire confidence. Stockham ran for State Party Chair in 2021 and lost, an effort that followed consecutive defeats as a candidate in CO-01 and CO-07 (Stockham was also a candidate in CO-06 for a time). Aadland was an unknown candidate when he ran for the Republican Senate nomination in 2021 before switching his candidacy to CO-07; he lost to Democrat Brittany Pettersen by 15 points. Wood is an activist who founded the organization (or perhaps just a website) called the “Save Colorado Project“; he was involved in the infamous “Boot Barn” protest in late November in which GOP leadership was derided as “whores” and “asswipes.

Stockham, Aadland, and Wood may not be the most, um, exciting candidates for State Party Chair, but the bar for success in 2024 is pretty damn low. Take a look at how recent GOP leaders have fared in the charts below:



Any one of the current crop of State Party Chairperson candidates could reasonably tell GOP activists that they will have more success than their predecessors. Of course, you could also argue that Republicans would improve under the leadership of a block of cheese. Things have gotten THAT bad for the GOP.

This will also be the fourth consecutive cycle in which the previous State Party Chairperson chose not to run for re-election. Nobody has even tried to get re-elected since Steve House defeated Ryan Call in 2015. Colorado Republicans had their last real taste of success in Call’s final term in 2014; oddly enough, Call would go on to face accusations of “misappropriating” hundreds of thousands of dollars from a pro-Donald Trump SuperPAC.

Some, if not all, of the GOP candidates for State Chair will argue that the best way forward for Republicans is to move further to the right. There are a good number of people in the GOP base who will agree with that sentiment. Thus the March 11 election for State Party Chair might be less about personalities and more about deciding the most popular definition of “winning.”

Whack Week: Crazy Republican Bills On Deck To Die

Freshman Rep. Ken “Skin” DeGraaf (R).

We’re almost a month into the 2023 session of the Colorado General Assembly, and the calendar this week turns to a number of bills introduced by the Republican micro-minority that won’t survive past their first committee hearing–but tell us a great deal about what Colorado Republicans would do with legislative power in this state if they possessed any.

The fun begins today at 1:30PM in the House State, Civic, Military, & Veterans Affairs Committee, affectionately known as the “kill committee” for its longstanding role as the circular file where bills required by law to have their hearing before being mercifully put down get their moment of glory. Starting with Rep. Ken “Skin” DeGraaf–we didn’t invent this nickname and we’re not sure we want to know how he earned it–who used one of his five allotted bills in 2023 on something called the Second Amendment Preservation Act:

The bill states that any federal act, law, executive order, administrative order, rule, and regulation (federal laws) that is, or accomplishes, any of the following is an infringement on the right to bear arms in Colorado:

A tax, levy, fee, or stamp not common to all other goods and services that is imposed on a firearm, firearm accessory, or ammunition and that might reasonably be expected to create a “chilling effect” on the purchase or ownership of those items by law-abiding citizens;
Any registration or tracking of firearms, firearm accessories, or ammunition;
Any registration or tracking of the ownership of firearms, firearm accessories, or ammunition;
A prohibition on the possession, ownership, use, or transfer of a firearm, firearm accessory, or ammunition by law-abiding citizens; and
Any order to confiscate firearms, firearm accessories, or ammunition from law-abiding citizens.

You see, folks, in order to protect your federal Second Amendment rights, Rep. “Skin” says we need to nullify all other federal gun laws! The language is broad enough to theoretically include nullification of very basic gun safety protections like federal background checks, not to mention any forthcoming federal gun control legislation like an assault weapons ban. This bill along with a new version of the perennial attempt to expand the state’s controversial “Make My Day” law to include business will both go down today/tonight after the gun nuts make an as-yet-to-be-determined spectacle.

Then hold your breath for tomorrow’s hearing of the House Health & Insurance Committee! We mean it:

Freshman GOP Rep. Scott “There Is No” Bottoms.

Because on Tuesday afternoon, “anti-vaxxer” activists are set to flood the Capitol to take on the nonexistent problem of children being, as former Sen. Laura Waters-Woods explained some years ago about different vaccines, “rounded up and vaccinated.” The problem with this bill is simple: parental consent is already required for vaccinations in Colorado. The only real change this bill makes is to allow individuals to sue Texas abortion ban-style in the event the law is violated.

Rounding out the week of Republican DOA legislation on Thursday are bills that would delay the implementation of the voter-approved FAMLI paid family and medical leave program because socialism is bad, and then slash the state’s income tax by over a billion dollars with no plan to replace the revenue. And finally, there’s House Bill 23-1127 in the House Energy & Environment Committee, “Customer’s Right To Use Energy,” ending local government power to restrict natural gas in new construction–in 180-degree opposition to the state’s climate reduction strategy that depends in part on full electrification of new residential and commercial construction.

Under the voter-approved GAVEL Amendment passed in 1988, every bill introduced in the Colorado General Assembly is required to receive a fair hearing and a vote. There are no doubt plenty of Republicans who, aware of the damage these bills cause to public perception as well as their futility in a legislature dominated by the opposing party, would be fine with these bills quietly dying with no public exposure.

But that’s not how we do it in Colorado. Every cringeworthy “message bill” gets its fifteen minutes of fame.

Kyle Clark Gets More Smarter on the GMS Podcast

This week on the Get More Smarter Podcast, 9News anchor/reporter/producer Kyle Clark (“Next With Kyle Clark”) joins the podcast to talk about how to cover a jam-packed Denver Mayoral race; calling a lie a lie (and a liar a liar); and the disservice that journalists do for a community when they “both sides” a story into oblivion.

Later, your hosts Jason Bane and Ian Silverii discuss the amazing ability of Republican Rep. Scott “There is No” Bottoms to find new (and old) ways to cripple the State GOP; and we dive into another segment of “What the Buck?!” as Republican Congressman Ken Buck manages once again to take every position possible within a matter of days.

Listen to previous episodes of The Get More Smarter Podcast at

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