Cory Gardner In The Dock: SCOTUS Takes ACA Sabotage Case

Sen. Cory Gardner (R).

NBC News reports on good and bad news for Colorado’s #1 enemy of the Affordable Care Act, a.k.a. Obamacare, Sen. Cory Gardner–the U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments this fall in a case brought by Texas to declare the entire landmark 2010 health reform bill unconstitutional, after legislation passed by the GOP-controlled Congress in 2017 kicked a principal mechanism out from under the law:

Since the law was passed, opponents have attacked the individual mandate, a central feature, which requires all Americans to buy insurance or pay a penalty on their income tax. The Supreme Court upheld Obamacare in 2012, ruling that it was a legitimate exercise of Congress’ taxing authority.

But in 2017, the Republican-led Congress set the tax penalty at zero. That led Texas and a group of red states to rule that the revised law is unconstitutional. A federal judge in Texas agreed, ruling that because the tax was eliminated, the law could no no longer be saved as a use of the taxing power. The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans upheld that ruling by a 2-1 vote in mid-December.

But the appeals court decision ordered the trial judge to reconsider his ruling that the entire law must fall without the glue of the individual mandate holding it together. The Trump administration initially said parts the law could be saved without the individual mandate, but then changed its position to say the rest of the statute could not stand.

The good news for Sen. Cory Gardner in this decision is that the Supremes did not grant a request for an expedited hearing of the case, which could have resulted in the Court issuing a politically fateful decision just a few months before the 2020 election. This is a law which has been helping millions of Americans for nearly a decade, and remains popular despite one of the most vitriolic propaganda campaigns in American history. The pain an adverse decision could inflict on millions of ordinary Americans represents a dire political threat to the law’s opponents. Politico:

[I]t’s unlikely the justices will rule before the election on the lawsuit, which could wipe out the Affordable Care Act’s insurance protections and coverage for millions of people. The court is expected to hear the case during its next term starting in October, but the court did not yet say when it will hear oral arguments…it’s rare that justices review a case before it’s received full consideration in lower courts — and the decision to do so underscores the monumental stakes of a case could upend coverage for millions of people and create chaos across the health care system. [Pols emphasis]

Democrats were able to leverage the lawsuit’s threat to coverage for preexisting medical conditions to retake the House of Representatives in the 2018 midterms. Democratic leaders, eager to run the same playbook this year, have routinely attacked Trump over his support for the lawsuit and the lack of a viable Obamacare replacement.

The bad news, of course, is that Gardner is directly to blame, more than any other public figure in Colorado, for the continuing peril the ACA finds itself in. Gardner voted for the 2017 bill zeroing out the individual mandate, which paved the way for the legal challenge the SCOTUS just agreed to hear. But that’s just the beginning: Gardner voted on innumerable occasions in both the House and Senate to repeal the ACA in its entirety. Gardner voted to repeal the ACA with or without a replacement, and with or without protection for patients with pre-existing conditions who are some of the biggest undisputed beneficiaries of the law.

Because Gardner has relentlessly attacked the Affordable Care Act as a central goal of his career in federal office, trading on just about every falsehood about the law that came and went as facts caught up with the spin, Gardner is even more vulnerable to voter backlash against Republicans for endangering the literal health of millions of Americans without providing any alternative. Zeroing out the individual mandate was supposed to be just one component of a broader Republican replacement for the Affordable Care Act–but because the GOP majority never put a replacement plan together, all they did was damage.

In theory, delaying the potentially devastating impact of this decision until after the 2020 election is good for Cory Gardner. But for a Senator already down by double digits, the needless threat to the health of millions of Americans the oral arguments in the case will reveal to voters is probably enough. On this issue, Cory Gardner’s day of reckoning has been a long, long time coming.

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Klobuchar to Drop Out, Endorse Biden

As Politico reports, Coloradans are quickly running out of people to support in Tuesday’s Democratic Presidential Primary:

Amy Klobuchar is ending her presidential campaign and will endorse Joe Biden later on Monday, according to a campaign aide, making her the third Democrat in three days to exit the race after Biden’s big win in the South Carolina primary.

Klobuchar is dropping out just before her home state, Minnesota, votes on Super Tuesday.

Klobuchar was scheduled to hold a campaign rally in Denver this afternoon, but that event has been cancelled.

Klobuchar is the third major candidate to exit the race in the last few days, following the departure of businessman Tom Steyer and former South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg.

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Get More Smarter on Monday (March 2)

March didn’t really come “in” like a lion or a lamb — more like a mildly-irritating raccoon.  It’s time to Get More Smarter. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of an audio/visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show or The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter.

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

Super Tuesday got a whole lot more interesting over the weekend. Former Vice President Joe Biden won a decisive victory in the South Carolina Primary on Saturday; Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg subsequently suspended his Presidential campaign (as did businessman Tom Steyer).

Biden is certainly riding the momentum wave at the moment, picking up notable endorsements (including from Denver Mayor Michael Hancock) and raising big money since his South Carolina victory. Sanders, meanwhile, continues to throw down monster fundraising numbers. As for Elizabeth Warrenshe’s not dead yet and is rolling out new endorsements of her own. Finally, Amy Klobuchar will make a last pre-Tuesday campaign stop in Colorado today.

Colorado is among 14 states that will count ballots on Tuesday in a Democratic race that might have become a Bernie Sanders/ Joe Biden battle. For more on the local race to the polls, check out this story from The Denver Post. Here’s a look at the latest ballot return numbers in Colorado.

REMEMBER: If you still have a ballot at home, or in your purse, or wherever, DO NOT PUT IT IN THE MAIL. Ballots must be RECEIVED by 7:00 on Tuesday; go to GoVoteColorado.com for more information on where to find a ballot drop-off location.

 

► The outbreak of the novel coronavirus, which is now being commonly referred to as COVID-19, is quickly becoming a significant political problem for the Trump administration. As CNN reports:

Trump’s earlier rambling, contentious and widely criticized first public appearance on the issue last week as well as inflammatory remarks on the virus and Democrats at a campaign rally Friday night threatened to overshadow its mitigation efforts. His previous comments that the number of US cases could soon disappear and that his administration had made “tremendous” efforts to thwart the virus arriving in the US now look premature.

On Sunday night, the President crowed about a poll that he said showed 77% of adults were confident the government could handle the situation.

“Gallup Poll numbers on the handling of this situation are outstanding, the best. Thank you!”

The poll that he was referring to, however, appeared to be one conducted between February 3-16 — well before the deaths on US soil, the spike of new cases and the stock market routs last week that exemplified growing panic about the coronavirus.

Meanwhile, Trumpistas continue to insist that mean Democrats and those journalist jerks are at fault for politicizing the fact that President Trump is screwing up:

Vice President Pence defended the President’s son, Donald Trump Jr., for saying that Democrats were rooting for “millions” of Americans to die so the coronavirus could hurt Trump politically. And he complained that the President — who has done more to coarsen public life than any other modern politician — had been the target of “very strong rhetoric” from his opponents and the media.

Over the weekend, The Washington Post reported on the Trump administration’s panicked attempts to get control of a coronavirus narrative.

Here in Colorado, COVID-19 is starting to impact larger events.

 

► The U.S. Supreme Court announced today that it will take up two cases that could decide the ultimate fate of Obamacare…but probably not before the 2020 election. From Vox.com:

The Republican legal arguments against Obamacare in this case are widely viewed as ridiculous, even by many lawyers and scholars who spent much of the last decade trying to convince the courts to repeal President Obama’s signature achievement…

…And yet, the lawsuit has received very favorable treatment from Republican federal judges. Judge Reed O’Connor, a former Republican Senate staffer turned district judge, ordered the whole Affordable Care Act repealed in its entirety. Two Republican federal appeals court judges reached a somewhat more mild conclusion — striking down a small portion of the law and then sending the case back down to O’Connor to reconsider which other provisions should fall. But, while that holding creates more work for Judge O’Connor, he remains likely to kill as much of the law as he can.

In addition to weighing the merits of the plaintiffs’ arguments, the Supreme Court will need to consider whether any federal court has jurisdiction to hear this case. As a general rule, no one is allowed to challenge a law in federal court unless they can show they were injured by that law. Because the zeroed-out mandate does nothing, it’s highly doubtful that anyone is allowed to challenge it.

In the meantime, Colorado isn’t waiting around to push forward on health care changes.

 

Get even more smarter after the jump… (more…)

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ICYMI: Pete Buttigieg Ends Presidential Campaign

Democrat Pete Buttigieg announced on Sunday that he is ending his Presidential campaign.

As The Washington Post reported Sunday:

Pete Buttigieg, the 38-year-old former mayor of South Bend, Ind., who saw a meteoric rise from virtual unknown to top-tier contender and became the first openly gay candidate to make a high-profile presidential run, ended his campaign Sunday as he confronted the reality that his prospects of victory had all but collapsed.

Buttigieg’s decision came shortly before Super Tuesday, the biggest primary day of the year, at a time when the Democratic race shows signs of becoming a race between Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and former vice president Joe Biden, with Biden occupying a centrist position that Buttigieg had hoped to make his own.

Buttigieg struggled to win support from black voters, a key pillar of the Democratic coalition and a vulnerability that was emphasized Saturday in South Carolina, where he finished fourth.

When we first started our regular Colorado Pols presidential polling last Spring, we referred to Buttigieg as “That South Bend, Indiana Mayor Guy.” Though he won’t end up with the ultimate prize here, it’s safe to say that Buttigieg has made a name for himself (and one that people can now pronounce correctly).

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Monday Open Thread

“No sensible decision can be made any longer without taking into account not only the world as it is, but the world as it will be.”

–Isaac Asimov

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Joe Biden Back From Oblivion?

Joe Biden eating Bernie Sanders’ ice cream cone.

The results of yesterday’s Democratic presidential primary in South Carolina have, if fans of former Vice President Joe Biden are to be believed, mashed the reset button on the tumultuous 2020 elections just as conventional wisdom was settling into the presumption that Sen. Bernie Sanders was an unstoppable force. But as Politico reports, the depth and breadth of Biden’s victory is perhaps more remarkable than the win itself, which was expected:

The scale of Biden’s victory in South Carolina was enormous. He went into the contest trailing Bernie Sanders in both total votes cast and delegates. He will leave South Carolina, where turnout exceeded Iowa and New Hampshire combined, with a lead in the popular vote and, according to estimates late Saturday night, about a half-dozen delegates behind Sanders.

Biden beat Sanders 48 percent to 20 percent. He won white voters comfortably (33 percent to 23 percent) and crushed Sanders among black voters (61 percent 17 percent). He won voters of every education level. He even beat Sanders among self-identified independents, a core group for the Vermont senator. [Pols emphasis]

The victory was powered by an electorate that was more moderate than the first three states. Half of South Carolina voters identified as moderate (41 percent) or conservative (9 percent) and half as somewhat liberal (30 percent) or very liberal (19 percent). But Biden won every group. The victory revealed an important demographic and ideological divide in the Democratic Party: black voters, especially in the South, are a moderating force in the national party. Biden said nobody should count him out until South Carolina’s more diverse electorate had its say, and he was right.

With Super Tuesday 48 hours away and a large percentage of eligible primary voters in Colorado still in possession of their ballots, Biden’s big win in South Carolina could be the result fence-sitters have been waiting for. The non-Sanders vote in Colorado constitutes around 70% of the Democratic primary electorate based on polling, but the opposition to Sanders is fragmented between far too many candidates to have a chance.

We’ll definitely see a stronger result for Biden on Super Tuesday now than we would have before this victory. In Colorado we’ll be looking to see that effect as well, despite the fact that Biden has basically ignored the state so far–and by cracking Sanders’ invincibility in a big way in South Carolina, Biden could open the door to more votes for the current second-place contender in Colorado polling, Sen. Elizabeth Warren.

Much like Colorado weather, this one’s going to be difficult to predict. But it’s not over by a long shot.

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A Few Words About “Accommodating” Anti-Vaxxer Crazies

A short while ago, Senate Bill 20-163, a bill to improve Colorado’s bottom-of-the-nation childhood vaccination rate, won final passage in the Colorado Senate. For those who haven’t been paying attention to the noise over what should be an uncontroversial bill, SB-163 is a compromise measure sponsored by Democratic Rep. Kyle Mullica and Sen. Julie Gonzales along with Republican Sen. Kevin Priola, which makes a few modest changes to the procedures by which parents obtain a personal belief or religious exemption from vaccination requirements for their children to enroll in public school–primarily by requiring parents to obtain a certificate from the health department to submit to the school in order to claim a nonmedical exemption. The bill also establishes a statewide “vaccine protected children” standard of 95%, which would represent a large improvement over the current 89%.

Rep. Mullica, as readers will recall, introduced a bill last year that was even tougher–originally requiring parents to appear in person at a state health department office to apply for a nonmedical exemption. Gov. Jared Polis controversially shot that bill down for putting what he saw as an excessive burden on anti-vaxxer parents. But in the end, criticism of that move combined with continuing bad press about disease outbreaks and Colorado’s dismal vaccination rate helped bring, as they say inside the Colorado capitol, “the first and second floors together.”

The opposition to this very sensible legislation–which does not in any way prevent Colorado parents from obtaining a nonmedical exemption to vaccines even though doing so would have broad public support–has not been well-grounded in reality.

These are a few examples of the reprintable comments from the anti-vaxxers among the hundreds who testified in a Senate committee earlier this month against SB-163. Testimony in that committee hearing was in many cases only loosely tied to the details of the bill, and many others not at all. The more reasonable testimony expressed concern that the database set up by public health authorities to register nonmedical vaccine exemptions might be hacked or otherwise misused at some point in the future.

The less reasonable testimony…was very difficult to listen to.

Given the overwhelming public support for tightening vaccination requirements, including eliminating nonmedical exemptions entirely or tightening the requirements to obtain one far beyond the scope of this bill, there is a strong case for hearing out the variably shaky-to-crazy objections to SB-163 and then disregarding them with prejudice. Despite this, several Democratic Senators worked patiently to address any reasonably-addressed concerns to the bill in the form of a number of successful amendments.

As the bill moves to the strongly Democratic House, the irrational opposition to this compromise measure aimed at one of the state’s biggest public health deficiencies should tell House members all they need about their responsibilities. There is a responsibility to hear all sides, but there is also a responsibility to tune out irrational noise.

On this issue, the time for the latter has come.

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Trump Thinks Maybe Coronavirus Will Just “Go Away”

Listen, Mike, can you just tell this coronavirus thing to knock it off?

The Trump administration has not put the United States in a strong position to respond positively to the coronavirus outbreak. In recent years, Trump has disbanded groups formed to handle disease outbreaks such as Ebola, and has proposed cutting the parts of the budgets at NSC, DHS, and Health and Human Services designated for fighting global disease.

President Trump has taken to blaming Democrats and the media for inciting fear about coronavirus, while his own musings on the topic have coalesced into a blind hope that everything will maybe probably be fine.

As Stephen Collinson writes for CNN:

President Donald Trump is hoping for a “miracle” that will make the coronavirus disappear but tanking stock markets and signs the disease is stalking America are delivering their verdict on his scattershot management of the crisis.

A historic Wall Street sell off, the first case on US soil that could not be traced to travel to countries battling the virus, and news of drug shortages outpaced White House efforts to show everything was under control.

“It’s going to disappear. One day it’s like a miracle, it will disappear,” Trump said at the White House Thursday as the virus marched across Asia and Europe after US officials said the US should brace for severe disruption to everyday life.

The President also warned that things could “get worse before it gets better,” but he added it could “maybe go away. We’ll see what happens. Nobody really knows.” [Pols emphasis]

The Trump administration is so spooked by the coronavirus that they have implemented new rules requiring public health officials to get clearance from the White House before appearing in on-camera interviews. Trump is using Vice President Mike Pence as a human shield in case things go wrong; appointing the former Indiana Governor to head up the U.S. coronavirus response makes about as much sense as putting Pence in charge of selecting the playlist for a dance party. And where is Pence today? He’s in Florida, raising money for the Republican Party.

For once, we can’t disagree with President Trump; we certainly hope that the coronavirus is just “going to disappear.” But hoping for a miracle is not good public policy.

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Friday Open Thread

“Since a politician never believes what he says, he is quite surprised to be taken at his word.”

–Charles de Gaulle

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The Get More Smarter Podcast: Surveys, Sausages, and Sanders

This week on The Get More Smarter Podcast, we get some fascinating new polling insights from Fawn Bolak (1:10); House Majority Leader Alec Garnett is back to take us through the latest in legislative sausage making (14:16); President Trump makes a bananas visit to Colorado Springs (35:27); and we’re feeling the Bern — whether we like it or not (50:25).

Questions? Comments? Complaints? Hit us up at AngryRants@getmoresmarter.com.

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

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Who Will Carry Colorado on Super Tuesday?

It’s Pretty Good Thursday!

We’re four days away from Super Tuesday, but two days away from finding out the results of the Democratic Presidential Primary in South Carolina, so it’s time once again to ask Colorado Pols readers to predict the future. We’ll post another online poll early next week to see how these projections held after South Carolina.

As with all of our totally non-scientific polls here at Colorado Pols, we want to know what you think will happen on Saturday — not who you support or what outcome you would prefer. Think of it like a placing a wager on a sporting event; if you had to put money on the outcome in Colorado, who would you pick?

 

Who Will Win Colorado on Super Tuesday?
Bernie Sanders
Elizabeth Warren
Mike Bloomberg
Pete Buttigieg
Joe Biden
Amy Klobuchar
Someone Else
View Result

 

 

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Ted Harvey’s “ScamPAC” Hits The Big Time!

UPDATE: Former Sen. Ted Harvey is just kind of saying whatever he wants to in response to the controversy he created, assuming there’s no such thing as bad publicity–telling the Washington Post:

“It took President Trump to lower black unemployment and create jobs for the African American community, in addition to passing criminal justice reform. Joe Biden, on the other hand, is simply giving lip-service for votes. That’s the point President Obama made in his book, and we have every right to use his own words — in his own voice — in the political forum.”

But then saying the opposite on local TV last night:

“Oh, that’s too bad,” Harvey told Next with Kyle Clark. “It’s not misleading.”

“It doesn’t say that [Obama’s] saying that about Biden,” Harvey said. [Pols emphasis]

Obviously, Ted Harvey’s not being honest with one of these news outlets.

We’re guessing it’s the one with the smaller audience?

—–

Ex-Sen. Ted Harvey (R).

USA TODAY’s Savannah Behrmann reports via the Pueblo Chieftain on a scandal brewing ahead of the South Carolina Democratic primary over an ad attacking Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden using dreadfully out of context comments made by former President Barack Obama–so far out of context that Obama is demanding the ad be taken down:

PolitiFact found that the audio is Obama reading a quotation from a barber about Chicago’s first black mayor, Harold Washington, where the man says, “Plantation politics. Black people in the worst jobs. The worst housing. Police brutality rampant. But when the so-called black committeemen came around election time, we’d all line up and vote the straight Democratic ticket. Sell our souls for a Christmas turkey.”

The ad comes from the Committee to Defend the President, and aired on local CBS affiliates in South Carolina before Tuesday night’s Democratic debate in Charleston. Obama’s office said his lawyers would be sending the PAC a cease-and-desist letter.

Obama spokeswoman Katie Hill told USA TODAY in a statement that, ”[T]his despicable ad is straight out of the Republican disinformation playbook, and it’s clearly designed to suppress turnout among minority voters in South Carolina by taking President Obama’s voice out of context and twisting his words to mislead viewers.”

“In the interest of truth in advertising, we are calling on TV stations to take this ad down and stop playing into the hands of bad actors who seek to sow division and confusion among the electorate,” the statement continues.

The so-called “Committee to Defend the President PAC” was known in a previous iteration as the “Stop Hillary PAC,” both chaired by former GOP state Sen. Ted Harvey of Highlands Ranch. Back in 2015, Stop Hillary PAC was profiled along with a number of other similar organizations in a Politico report on what’s become known in the political organizing industry as a “ScamPAC”–political committees that raise lots of money to “independently” support a candidate, but in practice spend most of the money on salaries and offices. In the case of Harvey’s Stop Hillary PAC, the committee “spent more than 87 percent of [what] they raised on operating expenses.”

On the one hand, we suppose it’s good that Ted Harvey is actually spending at least some of the money his PAC is raking in to “Defend The President” on, you know, defending the president–as opposed to just paying Ted Harvey and a few cronies slaving away at America’s most demanding job. Which if you haven’t heard, is sitting around a conference room table coming up with political cheap shots.

But given how this ad appears to be backfiring on former Sen. Harvey, giving him money is still not an investment we’d recommend to anyone without money to literally burn.

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Get More Smarter on Thursday (February 27)

Happy “National Protein Day.” Go eat a burger, or something. It’s time to Get More Smarter. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of an audio/visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show or The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter.

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

As the United States braces for what appears to be an inevitable Coronavirus outbreak, more attention is (rightfully) being paid to Trump administration decisions that have left the country more vulnerable to a pandemic. From The Washington Post:

President Trump insists the United States is “very, very ready” for dealing with the coronavirus. Yet two years ago, his administration undercut its own ability to respond to such an outbreak.

Trump announced in a news conference last night that Vice President Pence will lead the federal government’s response to the deadly coronavirus, trying to reassure Americans amid growing concerns of a global health crisis that has led to tumbling stocks as the virus spreads around the world…

…Trump didn’t mention that there’s evidence the virus could now be spreading within the United States. A person in Northern California has contracted the coronavirus without traveling to regions hit by the outbreak or coming in contact with anyone known to have the infection, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported last night…

And he didn’t point to the history that is making his administration’s response to this new outbreak more difficult. Two years ago, the administration disbanded two permanent groups formed by President Obama to respond to the 2014 Ebola outbreak one within the White House National Security Council and another within the Department of Homeland Security.

That sounds bad, right? But it’s just the beginning…

That’s not all Trump did. He also proposed cutting the parts of the budgets at NSC, DHS, and Health and Human Services designated for fighting global disease. And in early 2018, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention dramatically downsized its epidemic prevention activities in 39 out of 49 countries because money was running out. 

We should also mention that putting Vice President Mike Pence in charge of Coronavirus response is a dicey choice considering Pence’s history with such efforts; Pence was Governor of Indiana during the worst outbreak of HIV in state history, and he regularly overruled suggestions by health officials on how to handle the problem.

If you are concerned about how to prepare for Coronavirus coming to Colorado, experts say to plan like you might for a big snowstorm. 9News.com has more on separating fact from fiction.

 

► Colorado lawmakers gave final approval to legislation that will repeal the death penalty in Colorado. As The Denver Post explains:

After nearly five hours of debate Wednesday, the state House voted 38-27 for the repeal, with three Democrats joining all 24 House Republicans in voting against the bill.

In total, lawmakers spent about 36 hours debating and taking testimony on the bill since late January, when the bill moved through the Senate.

The bill now heads to the desk of Gov. Jared Polis, who will have 10 days to sign it or allow it to become law without any action.

 

► There had been scant polling information in Colorado related to the Democratic Presidential Primary until recently. A new poll from Data For Progress shows Bernie Sanders leading Elizabeth Warren in Colorado. Republican polling firm Magellan Strategies sees similar numbers.

Meanwhile, Colorado Public Radio reports that more candidates are spending money in Colorado ahead of Super Tuesday…but nobody is dropping more coin than Michael Bloomberg. Of course, nobody seems to be dropping in polls more than Bloomberg, either.

 

 If you still have a mail ballot ahead of Super Tuesday, DO NOT DROP IT IN THE MAIL. In order to make sure that your vote is counted, take your ballot to a drop-off location in your area; go to GoVoteColorado.com for more information. You might also check out this Super Tuesday Q&A from Colorado Public Radio.

Republican polling firm Magellan Strategies updates its ballot return numbers HERE.

 

Get even more smarter after the jump… (more…)

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Sen. Larry Crowder’s K-K-Krazy Plagiarism Over Columbus Day

Sen. Larry Crowder (R).

We were forwarded a lengthy Facebook rant from Republican Sen. Larry Crowder of Alamosa, who is most displeased with legislation moving through the Colorado General Assembly to rename Columbus Day in honor of Mother Frances Xavier Cabrini–a now-canonized Italian nun sent by the Pope Leo XIII to assist Italian immigrants to the United States, and the founder of Denver’s Queen of Heaven Orphanage.

Sen. Crowder’s opinion of renaming Columbus Day after Mother Cabrini is…not mainstream.

Racism alive and well;

The 1920’s in Colorado was a period of hatred, prejudice and racism. As hard times deepened, more middle and lower class workers became unemployed. Money was tight, jobs were few, agriculture was failing, and scapegoats were needed. The Ku Klux Klan (KKK) became a powerful force in Colorado politics at this time. The KKK came out of Georgia during the 1912-1918 era, and it gained considerable strength during the “Red Scare” of 1919. Colorado was a good breeding ground for the KKK because of a fairly large ethnic population and several industrial cities. Pueblo was a major contributor of KKK members who spouted patriotism, “Americanism,” racism and bigotry. Their targets were minorities like Blacks (there were few in Colorado at this time), Spanish-Americans, Italians, southern Europeans, Jews, Catholics and Orientals. Trinidad, Walsenburg, Aguilar and other coal towns were prime candidates for Klan activities. Southeastern Colorado may have seen a few cross burnings, some threats against minorities, and other incidents, but there were no deaths or injuries due to KKK activities. Italian newspapers in Trinidad, such as La Voratore Italiano and the Corriere de Trinidad successfully defended their communities against the KKK. Because there was a large Spanish-American population in the San Luis Valley, the KKK did not do well. Canon City saw a fair amount of KKK activity, but there were not very many minorities living there. Local Catholics and Jews took the brunt of KKK hatred. [15] So powerful was the KKK in Denver and the Front Range, that in 1924 these areas elected Clarence J. Morley governor. This Klan-backed executive was a Klan sympathizer, as were most members of the House of Representatives in Colorado’s legislature. All kinds of bills were introduced, from banning wine for use in Catholic church services to the abolition of parochial schools. Colorado’s Senate was the only body that kept these efforts from becoming law. The sole accomplishment of the Morley administration was abolition of the office of Horseshoe Inspector. Morley was removed from office in the 1926 election, and the Klan’s political influence quickly diminished.

Presently, we in colorado face legislative bill HB20-1031, which abolishes Columbus Day. I look at this as racism. Not only does this affect those of Italian descent but also of Hispanic descent. The Knights of Columbus, which are of Catholic descent, are directly affected by this as they also follow the traditions of Columbus Day. The Sons of Italy are another group. All of these groups have contributed greatly to Colorado and their foothold into our society should not be diminished by a small racist group. For over a hundred years this has been happening and should not be tolerated.

Senator Larry Crowder
Alamosa

The first, though perhaps not the biggest problem is that Sen. Crowder appears to have plagiarized most of this copy from A Land of Contrast: A History of Southeast Colorado by Frederic J. Athearn for the Bureau of Land Management. Comparing this post to page 156 of A Land of Contrast, Crowder appears to have made a few tiny edits to what is otherwise a straight copy/paste job with zero attribution. That’ll get you kicked out of college, and it’s remarkably similar to the plagiarism scandal that ended Scott McInnis’ bid for governor in 2010.

So there’s that. Then there’s the idea that people who would prefer to honor someone of Italian heritage who is not a polarizing figure because to the death of 90% of the indigenous population of the Americas as the result of the thing he is being honored for are as bad as the KKK. This is, to put it mildly, onion-like layers of messed up.

For either or both reasons, Sen. Crowder just created a head-on-desk moment for the Republican brand.

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DfP in Colorado: Sanders 34%, Warren 20%, Pete/Bloomberg 14%

There’s been an unusual shortage of polling of the Democratic presidential primary race in Colorado with Super Tuesday now just a week away–so a new poll from Dem pollster Data For Progress is getting a rush of interest this afternoon:

After his victory in the Nevada caucuses, Sanders is leading in Colorado and Virginia. Sanders has a 14 point lead over his next closest rival, Elizabeth Warren in Colorado and a 9 point lead over his next closest rival, Biden in Virginia. In both of these states, several candidates are hovering right around the 15 point threshold for delegate allocation with significant effects on overall delegate counts depending on how many candidates hit this threshold.

Sanders continues to perform extremely strongly with voters under 45, with a majority of these younger voters in each state supporting him. His vote lead is substantially larger in both states among voters with their minds made up and voters who are extremely enthusiastic about their vote choice.

CO
Sanders – 34
Warren – 20
Buttigieg – 14
Bloomberg – 14
Biden – 10
Klobuchar – 6

Here are the crosstabs for DfP’s Colorado poll. We don’t have a lot of experience with Data For Progress, but they correctly forecast a bigger-than-expected win for Sen. Bernie Sanders in the recent Nevada caucus. These numbers are generally in line with the trends in the race we’ve observed, and fans of Sen. Elizabeth Warren in particular will gain fresh hope from her pulling into second place. Warren has targeted Colorado as key to her Super Tuesday comeback play, and it looks like that effort has borne fruit.

With that said, if the 66% of Colorado voters who support someone other than Bernie Sanders don’t consolidate behind a single alternative, he’s the comfortable favorite to win the state.

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Gardner Says Bernie Sanders Doesn’t Like America

Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma)

There was a time when Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) was called a “happy warrior” who worked hard on creating the perception that he was a smiling, sunny, cheery politician. This persona served him well in 2014, when Gardner won a narrow victory over incumbent Democratic Sen. Mark Udall.

These days, the “happy warrior” has become more “used-car salesman” and is trending toward “callous dickhead.” Gardner was a guest today on “The Ross Kaminsky Show” on 630AM, and when the conversation eventually came around to the 2020 Presidential race, Gardner said this:

But the clear difference between Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump: Donald Trump believes in America. Bernie Sanders does not. I’m not even sure Bernie Sanders likes America. [Pols emphasis] He’s embarrassed by America…

…And so, while he very well may be the Democrat nominee, this will be the first time in a very — well, I can’t think of any other candidate who didn’t like America and is running for president. [Pols emphasis]

Really, Cory? Really? 

This is the sort of mindless comment that your drunk uncle blurts out at Thanksgiving. It’s a stupid thing for anyone to say about another candidate for federal office, but particularly a colleague in the United States Senate. We’d have thought this type of comment would be beneath Gardner — yes, even Gardner — but there is apparently no gutter he won’t crawl through if it gets him a chuckle from a right-wing Republican.

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Colorado GOP Chairman Sponsors Bill To Punish Colorado

Colorado GOP chairman Rep. Ken Buck (R-Greeley).

As originally reported earlier this month by Fox News, and we wanted to be sure to mention this before it slips down the memory hole:

Republicans in the House and the Senate are introducing legislation that would block federal funds from states that allow illegal immigrants to obtain driver’s licenses — the latest move in an escalating fight over “sanctuary” laws.

The Stop Greenlighting Driver Licenses for Illegal Immigrants Act would block funds to sanctuary states — which limit local cooperation with federal immigration authorities — and those that give licenses to illegal immigrants. Specifically, it would halt Justice Department (DOJ) grants, in particular those awarded under the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant, which is a top source of federal criminal justice funding for states.

The legislation is being introduced in the Senate by Sen. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn. It is being co-sponsored by Sens. Tom Cotton, R-Ark.; Kevin Cramer, R-N.D.; Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va.; Kelly Loeffler, R-Ga.; Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, and Mike Rounds, R-S.D. Meanwhile, in the House, Rep. Ken Buck, R-Colo., is introducing companion legislation. [Pols emphasis] That bill is co-sponsored by 21 other members.

“Tennesseans know all too well what can happen when illegal immigrants are granted driver licenses,” Blackburn said in a statement…

Here in Colorado, as readers should know, we’ve had a law on the books since 2013 (the Colorado Road and Community Safety Act) that allows undocumented immigrants to who meet specific requirements, including an affidavit promising to apply for legal status if they haven’t already, to obtain a state-issued driver license. The licenses issued to noncitizens are clearly marked to not provide evidence of citizenship. “What can happen” when undocumented immigrants are allowed to obtain driver licenses is pretty simple: they get driver’s licenses. That means they’ve passed driver safety tests, and are able to do basic things expected of everyone on the roads in Colorado like purchase auto insurance.

For Colorado’s Rep. Ken Buck, who is leading the unlikely House effort to pass this legislation despite the fact that it would jeopardize federal funding for his own state, this gratuitous attack on a law put in place to protect all Colorado residents from untrained, uninsured motorists is both insult and injury. Since Rep. Buck is incapable of snapping his fingers and making the undocumented population in Colorado disappear, what he’s essentially saying with this bill is that it’s better to have uninsured, untested motorists on Colorado roads. How is that a responsible position for any public official to take?

Especially with one of our own elected lawmakers leading the charge, this attack on Colorado–and every other state trying to develop reasonable policies to manage public safety and immigration issues–is the public policy equivalent of Buck cutting off Colorado’s nose to spite our face.

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Cory’s “Liberal Heckler Antifa Asshole”-Free Tea Party “Town Hall”

Jimi Mack, President of the North Jeffco Tea Party, alerts us to an event last Saturday featuring one of the most infamously elusive politicians in Colorado political history–Sen. Cory Gardner, whose lack of public availability going into his uphill re-election campaign has been the subject of much unfavorable news coverage.

The good news, says North Jeffco Tea Party president Jimi Mack, is that if your Tea Party group promises to keep the “liberal hecklers and Antifa assholes” at bay, suddenly Sen. Gardner becomes much more available than he’s been in the over two years since Gardner’s last public town hall meeting!

“We promised his staff that we’d keep the liberal hecklers and the Antifa assholes out, and we delivered.”

Earlier this month, Gardner got into a public spat with FOX 31 reporter Joe St. George, after Gardner disputed St. George’s contention that Gardner hadn’t held a public town hall in over two years. Gardner cited a “town hall” in Fort Morgan he had allegedly held last summer, then proceeded to taunt St. George over the fictional implication that Fort Morgan doesn’t matter–which St. George of course never suggested. In truth, Gardner’s “Fort Morgan town hall” was a speech he gave to the Morgan County Republican Central Committee, which not even in the most charitable stretch can be accurately called a public event.

Neither does a ‘heckler and asshole’-free zone enforced by the North Jeffco Tea Party.

Keep this in mind next time Gardner bullies a reporter about his so-called “town halls.”

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Get More Smarter on Wednesday (February 26)

Yes, that person you walked by on the street is well aware that they have a black smudge on their forehead. It’s time to Get More Smarter. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of an audio/visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show or The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter.

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

The Democratic Presidential candidates took to the debate stage in South Carolina on Tuesday, where many a sharp elbow was thrown — most of them aimed at Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders. Here’s a local perspective from The Post and Courier in South Carolina.

If you’re looking for the obligatory “Winners and Losers” analysis, here’s CNN; The Washington Post; Politico; Vox.com; and The New York Times. Most seem to agree that the biggest “losers” were the inept moderators from CBS News.

As Slate.com writes, the problem with digesting these debates may just be that there are too many candidates in the Democratic field.

 

► Congressional leaders have decided that they can no longer wait for the Trump administration to get off its collective butt and start taking action to deal with the spread of the Coronavirus. From The Washington Post:

Congressional leaders on Wednesday planned to begin designing a large emergency spending package for dealing with the coronavirus outbreak, revealing the wide gulf between lawmakers who have demanded more action and a White House that has sought a more measured response.

Even government officials have been split internally about how to respond, with some health officials urging more public preparedness while a number of political appointees have sought to downplay any risks. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, appearing at a congressional hearing Wednesday, sought to clarify that the near-term risk to Americans was low, but that the number of cases would likely increase.

The White House on Monday evening requested $1.8 billion to deal with coronavirus, and $535 million of that would be rerouted from an account that is designed to deal with Ebola. But Trump administration officials told senators Tuesday that they knew their request would need to grow, said a Senate aide who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe discussions with the White House.

Democrats and a number of Republicans have decried the White House request as insufficient and are aiming for a more robust package.

President Trump, meanwhile, is blaming the media for stoking fears about Coronavirus while many administration spokespeople continue to insist that everything will be just fine. Trump is holding a press conference to address the subject today; there has been talk that the White House might appoint a “coronavirus czar” to oversee the government’s response. The White House also wants to fund some coronavirus response by cutting money meant for low-income heating programs.

On Tuesday, Elizabeth Warren ripped Trump for his slow response to the spread of the virus on the same day that the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) announced that it was a matter of “when,” and not “if,” Coronavirus starts spreading across the United States.

CBS4 Denver has more on how Colorado officials are preparing for a potential outbreak.

 

 Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) voted in favor of two more anti-choice bills in the U.S. Senate on Tuesday.

 

 If you plan to mail your Presidential Primary ballot ahead of Super Tuesday, you should probably make sure to drop it in the mailbox by the end of the day; go to GoVoteColorado.com for more information on ballot drop-off locations. If you are having trouble making up your mind…you’re not alone.

Meanwhile, The Denver Post looks at ballot returns thus far and notes that more Unaffiliated voters are deciding to cast a ballot in the Democratic Primary. Colorado Public Radio breaks down how the candidates stand on health care, which continues to poll as the top issue among most voters.

 

Get even more smarter after the jump… (more…)

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Fox News Straight-Up Thieves Denver Post Story

They’re getting lazy over at the Fox News Channel, as a rightfully annoyed Alex Burness of the Denver Post calls out what would definitely meet our old college professors’ definition of plagiarism:

And sure enough, the thinly-disguised (if at all) cribbing is easy to spot–Burness’ story:

A bleary-eyed Colorado House voted for a bill to repeal the death penalty around 4 a.m. Tuesday, after about 11 hours of discussion.

The bulk of that time was taken up by Republicans either making speeches or bringing various unsuccessful bill amendments in an effort to slow the bill’s roll. They forced a couple hours of debate on whether voters should be allowed to decide this matter, but Democrats shot those amendments down.

“I’m not going to dodge the hard issues by sending them to the people,” said Rep. Jeni Arndt of Fort Collins, a sponsor of the repeal bill. “We are the people.”

And here’s Fox News’ Barnini Chakraborty:

The vote from bleary-eyed lawmakers finally came around 4 a.m. after Republicans repeatedly tried to slow the process by making lengthy speeches or bringing unsuccessful amendments up for a vote…

At one point, Republicans forced two hours of debate on whether voters, not lawmakers, should be able to decide whether capital punishment should be legalized in the state.

“I’m not going to dodge the hard issues by sending them to the people,” Rep. Jeni Arndt, the sponsor of the repeal bill, said. “We are the people.”

As Scott “McPlagiarist” McInnis can tell you, you have to change more words than that.

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