5280 Loves It Some Freshman Legislators

A few weeks late for Valentines day, but last Tuesday 5280 sent the literary equivalent of hand-delivered red carnations to four of its favorite freshman legislative crushes.

From the State Senate, the magazine noted Democrat Senator Rollie Heath’s involvement with the repeal of Arveschoug-Bird – otherwise known as the ratchet effect. Senator Joyce Foster felt the love for her work reaching across the aisle to pass “a controversial pro-Israel resolution,” winning near-unanimous approval. Republican Senator Mark Scheffel somehow managed to get a proposal to kill the state’s business personal property tax passed out of committee, which certainly endears him to 5280 readers more than the hate-mongering from some of his colleagues.

Finally, my good friend Sal Pace is the lone House member to make the list. In his first session Pace has already joined the ranks of Democratic leadership as assistant majority caucus chair, and is “knowledgeable on the issues and legislative rules.” Aka he’s a huge policy nerd who also, according to 5280, knows how to work across party lines.

So that’s 5280’s take on the outstanding freshman legislators. Personally, I’d put Rep. Joe Miklosi up there along with several others. Got any of your own outstanding freshman to add to the list? Post ’em in the comments!

Bartels Moving to Denver Post

With the close of the Rocky I’ve worried incessantly that the quality of news coverage in this state will go down. My main concern focused on the loss of one of Colorado’s top political reporters, my friend Lynn Bartels. (As much as any political flack can really befriend a reporter…)

So it was with much relief that I read an email from her this morning saying she had accepted a position with the Denver Post, starting on Monday. From Bartels:

So, it is late and I sit down at my laptop    which must be turned in Friday with all of my other Rocky equipment – and I get weepy.

I’m staring at the Rocky Mountain News drinking glasses that city editor Tonia Twichell found at an antique story and got me for Christmas. They must have been for some promotion decades ago.

Today is the end of a long, sad day. This isn’t a death in the family. It’s the death of a family.

My beloved Rocky will no longer exist, physically that is, after 5 p.m. Friday. For so many of us, it will live on and on and on.

I appreciate the calls and e-mails today and I’m sorry I couldn’t get back with lots of you. I was on deadline, calling movers and shakers for their reaction. Jon Caldara made my cry. Bill Owens made me laugh.

I regret this blast e-mail but I fear I won’t have the time Friday to reach all of you – or I will be too much of a wreck.

The Rocky has been an amazing adventure. I worked for Scripps for 26 years, including 10 years at The Albuquerque Tribune.

I have accepted a job with The Denver Post starting Monday.

Yes, it feels strange.

I am thinking this is going to be like when I have had to put down one of my dogs. I would get a new dog and think, “I’ll never love him/her as much I loved my other dog.” I always have, but just in a different way.

I am thrilled to be staying in journalism and honored that the Post considered me. Many of you were instrumental in my success at the Rocky, and I hope you will continue that tradition.

Thanks for everything. Long live newspapers.

Lynn Bartels, Feb. 26, 2009

I haven’t heard anything about the plans of another great political reporter, Ed Sealover, but I have heard that Mike Littwin will make the move to the Post as well. His column today, which is certainly worth a full read, seems to confirm that: “I’m moving to another newsroom now, but it won’t be the same.”

No, it won’t be the same.

First Lady Visits Ken Salazar at Interior

The First Lady, Michelle Obama, stopped by the Department of the Interior yesterday, where Colorado’s own Secretary Ken Salazar had the honor of introducing her. At the event she spoke about “how important it is to protect our natural resources and move towards a clean, sustainable energy future.”

From the First Lady’s remarks:

I want to thank Secretary Salazar, who has been a unique and wonderful friend. He is correct; he and his wife, Hope, were two of the first people we met when Barack joined the United States Senate. And they showed us a level of kindness that we will never forget, and we are proud for his contribution to this country. He brings the department a lifetime of experience protecting our natural resources, promoting clean energy, and standing up for rural communities. And we could not be more pleased — could not be more pleased — to have him as a part of this administration. You are lucky to have him as a leader.

As side note, President Obama’s new White House Blog is fantastic – they even liveblogged his Town Hall in Ft. Myers, FL. Obama also made history at his first Presidential press conference when he called on – wait for it – a blogger! Think this’ll encourage the U.S. Senate to finally join the 21st Century?

Now That’s Good Strategery: A 60 Vote Senate Majority

As a hard-core political nerd, for a few years now I’ve subscribed to Roll Call’s “Breaking News Alerts.” They usually deal with things so inane only beltway insiders could possibly care. But hey, that’s Roll Call. (If you don’t know what Roll Call is, count yourself lucky, then imagine ColoradoPols as a full-fledged DC newspaper.)

So earlier today when I read that several anonymous sources had confirmed rumors about Obama possibly considering New Hampshire Republican Senator Judd Gregg for Secretary of Commerce, I hit delete like I usually do. I never really cared much about the Commerce Department, mostly because I have no idea what they do, and the “possibly maybe” just didn’t pique my interest. While Gregg does have an R after his name, the bipartisan Obama cabinet thing is nothing new.

As for the larger implication of this pick, I completely missed it. Luckily I turned on CNN tonight and had it explained to me. I never thought I’d say this, but thank you Anderson Cooper.

Senator Gregg comes from New Hampshire. New Hampshire has a Democratic Governor, John Lynch. As we well know here in Colorado, Governors get to fill vacant Senate seats. Chances are good Lynch would appoint a Democrat. (He won his last election roughly 70-30, so he can pretty much do whatever he wants.)

This means that should Minnesotan Al Franken prevail in court, a new Senator from New Hampshire would give Democrats the magic 60 vote majority they need to shut off a filibuster, thus removing the last legislative roadblock Republicans still have in Congress. Most importantly, I now care about who becomes Secretary of Commerce.

That’s some smart maneuvering, Mr. President. House Republicans, eat your heart out!

Congressional Republicans: Stupid Partisans or Brilliant Tacticians?

Obama made a great show of going to Capitol Hill to try and gain Republican support for his stimulus package. He said, repeatedly, that if Republicans had a good idea he’d listen. So far all I’ve heard is that they want more tax cuts. A shocker, I know.

But really? Tax cuts versus investing in America’s future through infrastructure improvements that will pay dividends for years to come, create thousands (millions?) of jobs, and help to fight global warming through renewable energy projects that will also help us become more energy independent? Sure Republicans have to play to the base, but “more tax cuts” doesn’t exactly scream visionary leadership.

Then, as we covered yesterday, House Republicans all voted against Obama’s stimulus package. Every single one. The President physically went to the Hill seeking bipartisan support, then followed up the vote with a cocktail party at the White House for Congressional leaders from both parties. His thanks – bubkes.

Are Republicans really that out of touch with the new post-partisan world?

This reminds me of a scene from The West Wing where President Bartlet walks over to the Capitol seeking a compromise. When Republican leadership refuses to meet with him they look like inflexible ideologues uninterested in solving America’s most pressing problems – sound familiar?

Now I’m sure the Republicans have PR folks with far more experience than I have, and they certainly need to distinguish themselves from Democrats to win in two years, but this seems rather short sighted to me. There’s plenty of time to present an alternative ideology before the midterms.

To their credit, Republicans did present a stimulus plan that lost in a vote just before the one on Obama’s, but voting as a bloc against the President right out of the gate makes Republicans seem – to me – like a bunch of reactionary partisans without any new ideas.

Thoughts, fellow Polsters?

CO Delegation Split on Releasing Bailout $$

Gotta love the United States House of Representatives. Even though they have absolutely no power to block the release of an additional $450 billion in bailout money, today they went ahead and voted on it anyway. They also considered resolutions “expressing support for designation of the week of February 2 through February 6, 2009, as ‘National School Counseling Week,'” and “commending the University of Florida Gators for winning the Bowl Championship Series National Championship Game.” Go SEC! (But really, even Obama knows we need a playoff system.)

While an entirely symbolic gesture (kind of like the House itself at times), the vote on H.J. Res. 3 gave lawmakers a chance to weigh in on the issue and potentially generate some good earned media coverage back home. I’m happy to oblige.

Vote after the jump…

The Colorado delegation split on the matter, with four of our seven voting in favor of a resolution that expressed “disapproval of obligations” – in other words they voted against releasing the bailout funds. The other three, all Democrats, opposed the resolution and therefore support releasing the additional $450 billion.

Yea (do something better with the cash!): Markey, Salazar, Lamborn, Coffman

No (release the funds!): Polis, DeGette, Perlmutter

Commentary on the vote from a press release sent to me by Congresswoman Betsy Markey’s office, since unlike the Senate Press Gallery they actually consider me a real reporter: “There must be more accountability and stronger independent oversight to protect American taxpayers. The people of the Fourth Congressional District elected me to bring fiscal discipline back to Washington and today’s vote was part of keeping that promise.”

Pelosi Rickrolls Congress

Old people can have their C-SPAN. Earlier this month the legislative branch launched HouseHub and SenateHub, a pair of YouTube channel where we the citizens can watch videos of our favorite elected officials who aren’t the President. To celebrate, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi posted what at first looks like a video of cats pattering around her office, but about thirty seconds in we get… RICKROLLED!

While I assume Pelosi didn’t come up with the idea herself, the fact she let her staff do something like this makes her one cool cat. Rar.

h/t twodgszk. Video after the jump…

Bennet Sets Off for a Ride Around Colorado

Governor Bill Ritter’s pick to replace the promoted Senator Ken Salazar, Denver Public Schools Superintendent Michael Bennet, will depart Denver on Friday to head out on a tour of the entire state.

Officially announced today, the tour has been in the works for a while now – and it’s good thing, too. Earlier today Colorado Pols echoed pretty much everyone’s sentiments and called for, “Less gladhanding in DC, more bus touring in Colorado–and right now, please.”

Governor Ritter (who few can call loathe to make his own decisions after this stunner) will accompany the superintendent cum senator on the tour.

According to the release, Bennet will listen “to local concerns about the economy and other challenges.” Huh? I’ll give Bennet the benefit of the doubt on this one, but “economy and other challenges” doesn’t give me quite the same assurance Bennet understands rural Colorado like Salazar’s “land, water, and people.” Though I’ll wait to hear what Bennet says outside of Denver before passing judgment.

Details after the jump…

Bennet’s out-state swing schedule, from today’s release:

Friday, Jan. 9, 2009: Denver, Loveland and Fort Collins

11:15 a.m. to Noon            Gov. Ritter will attend the annual Boots ‘N Business luncheon at the National Western Stock Show. He will enter the arena on horseback as part of the Color Guard procession, and then provide remarks prior to the start of the luncheon. Location: National Western Stock Show, 4555 Humboldt, Denver.

1:30 to 2:30 p.m.            Gov. Ritter and Michael Bennet will host a community gathering at the Loveland Museum, 503 N. Lincoln Ave., Loveland.  

4:15 to 5:45 p.m.            Gov. Ritter and Michael Bennet will host a community gathering at the Aztlan Community Center, Eagle Room, 112 Willow St., Fort Collins.

Saturday, Jan. 10, 2009: Glendale, Colorado Springs

9 to 9:45 a.m.            Gov. Ritter will address the Metro Mayors Caucus, Infinity Park Events Center at 4400 E. Kentucky Ave., Glendale.

Noon to 1 p.m.            Gov. Ritter and Michael Bennet will host a community gathering at Colorado Springs Library/Penrose Library, 20 N. Cascade Ave., Colorado Springs.

2 to 3 p.m.            Gov. Ritter and Michael Bennet will meet with the Colorado Springs Chamber of Commerce, local businesses and others to discuss the economy and state and federal recovery efforts. Location: Colorado Springs Conservatory and Galileo Math & Science School, 1600 N. Union Blvd., Colorado Springs.

Monday, Jan. 12, 2009: Steamboat Springs and Grand Junction

8 to 9:30 a.m.            Gov. Ritter and Michael Bennet will host a community gathering and pancake breakfast at the Sheraton Steamboat Resort, 2200 Village Inn Court, Steamboat Springs.

3:45 to 5:15 p.m.            Gov. Ritter and Michael Bennet will meet with community members and students at Mesa State College, Science Center, Room SL 100, 1100 North Ave., Grand Junction.

Tuesday, Jan. 13, 2009: Pueblo and Alamosa

8 to 9:30 a.m.            Gov. Ritter and Michael Bennet will host a community gathering and pancake breakfast at the Pueblo Union Depot, 132 West B St., Pueblo.

9:45 to 10:30 a.m.            Gov. Ritter and Michael Bennet will dedicate the Colorado State University-Pueblo’s new solar park with Black Hills Energy and BP Solar. From I-25 South, take Exit 101.Turn left onto Colorado 47 East. Take Bonforte Boulevard exit, then turn left (North) onto Bonforte Boulevard. Turn right on Bartley Boulevard, stay on Bartley Boulevard as it bends around to the North.

2 to 3:30 p.m.            Gov. Ritter and Michael Bennet will host a community gathering, discussing the economy and local, state and federal recovery efforts. Location: Alamosa Family Recreation Center, 2222 Old Sanford Road, Alamosa.

I’m waiting to hear back from the campaign about Bennet’s horseback riding experience.

Potential Replacements for a Potential Senator Perlmutter

Various media outlets have already reported on the circus that would begin in Denver should Mayor John Hickenlooper get the appointment to fill Senator Ken Salazar’s seat. Less discussed, except for a few diaries here and on Jeffco Pols, is what would happen should Congressman Ed Perlmutter get the nod instead.

Perlmutter has helped turn CD-7 into a district that, while still competitive, should remain in Democratic hands if he moves to the upper chamber. Especially considering the plethora of strong Democratic candidates and nearly complete lack of Republican challengers, the Dem’s choice will almost certainly become the next member of Congress.

Here’s a speculative look at how the Democratic field might play out. Two things to keep in mind: both party’s candidates will be selected by the same group of people chosen for the 2008 nominating convention – the district’s “central committee.” Also, in 2008 Jefferson County voters cast more CD-7 ballots than any other county in the district, so a candidate from JeffCo will have a natural advantage.

Jefferson County-Based Candidates

Renny Fagan

Fagan has made his interest known, and while he could make a strong candidate in a general election it’s hard to say how well he would do with the central committee Democrats. Fagan is a former state legislator, deputy Attorney General, and currently serves as Sen. Salazar’s Colorado State Director.

Andy Kerr

Kerr has been a fast-rising State Rep. from Lakewood, currently serving as the House Majority Whip. He is actively making his interest known as well, and could emerge as an opposite version of Fagan – his resume isn’t as strong, but he’s probably more well-known to the Democratic insiders who would choose the candidate. Of the Jefferson County candidates, Fagan and Kerr have been the most aggressive thus far.

Jason Bane

Bane almost pulled off a major upset over a well-known Republican in a race for Jefferson County Commissioner, winning more votes than any previous Democrat. He raised a record amount of money (more than $80,000) for a lower-tier race, and post-election results show Bane won the CD-7 part of JeffCo handily. This gives him something no other candidate mentioned here could use: Bane can say exactly how well he would do in the Jefferson County portion of CD-7. Bane has not actively sought support for a potential run, but his name has come up a number of times and he could be the sleeper in this race. (Full disclosure, he’s a good personal friend – which means I’m even more acutely aware of his political talent.)

Jim Polsfut

Polsfut briefly threw his hat in the ring for CD-7 back in 2006 before bowing out to support Perlmutter. Polsfut once ran for State Treasurer as well, and has a proven talent at fundraising. He’s also close with Gov. Bill Ritter.

Dave Thomas

He’s tried several times to win this seat, and isn’t likely to give it one more shot.

Sue Windels

Has a good base, but passed on CD-7 before and is coming off a tough loss in 2008. I haven’t heard that she would run.

Cheri Jahn

The term-limited State Rep. has her eyes on SD-20 in 2010, but might throw her name in the mix. She hasn’t made any noise about it, however.

Moe Keller

Keller is term-limited from her Senate seat in 2010, but this is really bad timing. She is the new chair of the Joint Budget Committee and would have to resign that post in order to run (see Morgan Carroll below). It’s doubtful she’d do that.

Non-Jefferson County (Adams County, Aurora)

Morgan Carroll

Carroll is dynamic and a darling of the left wing, but she faces the same problem many current state legislators face: she would probably have to give up her Senate seat in order to run for Congress because of rules restricting fundraising during the legislative session. Would she do that?

Karen Middleton

Middleton is the only potential candidate who has already won a race in the district: in 2006 she won CD-7’s seat on the State Board of Education. But talk about bad timing – she has a very young child at home and hasn’t yet served a full term in the State House. Last spring she resigned from the Ed. Board to take an appointment to the legislature following the Michael Garcia kerfuffle. For her to resign another seat one year later, well, I can already see the Republican attack ad. Middleton has made preliminary calls to see how her support might look. (Disclosure: I know Karen as well and like her very much. She’d be great.)

Bob Hagedorn

The termed-out State Senator needs something else to do. Could this be it? No indication of real interest yet.

Someone Else Not Seeking Senate Appointment

I suppose it’s feast or famine here on Pols for my friend and President of the Children’s Museum of Denver Tom Downey. Earlier today we reported that former US Senate candidate Buddy Moore tried to run over Downey in a parking dispute prior to Barack Obama’s acceptance speech last August.

Apparently determined to make it a double-Downey day, I received the following release this afternoon from the Children’s Museum (which you should really take your kids to if you’re a good parent):

Tom Downey Removes Self from Consideration for US Senate

Denver, CO- Following the slew of elected officials and community leaders disclosing that they are seeking appointment to the US Senate seat being vacated by Sen. Ken Salazar, Tom Downey, President of the Children’s Museum, has asked Gov. Ritter to remove his name from consideration. Upon hearing of Downey’s withdrawal, Gov. Ritter was quoted as saying, “Tom who?”

Downey felt obligated to make his announcement after a “ripple, rather than a flood” of inquiries… exclusively from people who work for him and whose salaries he controls, in response to Downey’s not-so-subtle soliciting, and usually after awkward silences. [emphasis added]



In removing himself from consideration, Downey noted that he still had many goals to accomplish at the Children’s Museum. He also proved himself to be a pathetic political wannabe by saying that he wanted to spend more time with his family. Downey’s mother-in-law, Helen Fox, responded by saying, “Oh, get over yourself.”  In a sign of supporting Downey’s decision, Gov. Ritter’s Chief of Staff, Jim Carpenter, said, “Please stop bothering me!”

***

While I fully admit the political news has slowed to a trickle over the holidays, this is still one of the funniest “releases” I’ve ever read. Also, come on – how many more people with clearly no shot at getting the Senate appointment will announce their interest (or lack thereof)? Downey just pointed out in a rather creative way how this whole process has jumped the shark.

And in case you’re wondering, yeah, I want it. Now will someone please make me a facebook group already?

Hispanic Leaders: Send a Farmer to the Senate

A group of Hispanic leaders met with Governor Bill Ritter today to discuss – surprise! – their pick for Senator Ken Salazar’s replacement. Here’s another shocker: they think Ken’s older brother and Congressman John Salazar should get the post. With former Secretary of Transportation and Denver Mayor Federico Pena officially out, John’s the only Hispanic in serious contention.

In other news, dog bites man.

I don’t have any names for who met with the Governor, but I’m told it included the usual suspects plus members of the state legislature, local electeds, &c. With the large size of the group I expect we’ll see more details in tomorrow’s papers, but since we’re a blog we can give you a few more hours notice on these things. Ain’t that great?

I’d like to add, since people seem to think this is strongest argument against appointing the elder Salazar, I seriously believe Democrats can hold the 3rd CD should John get the Senate nod. I worked as his Communications Director in 2004, and we owed our victory in large part to huge voter turnout in Pueblo, where we won over 60% of the vote.

A high enough margin in Pueblo more than makes up for a drubbing in Grand Junction. With Bernie Buescher moving to Denver for the Secretary of State gig, most remaining Democratic candidates hail from Pueblo – though certainly not all. And I’m not saying we need someone from Pueblo to win, we just gotta win there really, really big.

Bottom line we can hold the 3rd, and a fear of losing it shouldn’t keep John Salazar off the short list for Senate.

IBEW Local 68 President: Joan Fitz-Gerald for Senate

Looks like at least one leading member of organized labor has decided on his candidate for Senate. Ed Knox, President of Denver IBEW Local 68, sent out an email on Tuesday requesting that folks contact Governor Bill Ritter and ask him to appoint Joan Fitz-Gerald to the Senate seat being vacated by Senator Ken Salazar.

Full email and analysis after the jump…

Hello Everyone!

Please help make it happen!  

Governor Bill Ritter will have the pleasure of appointing someone to fill the unexpired term of U.S. SENATOR KEN SALAZAR, upon the acceptance by Senator Ken Salazar to President Obama’s Cabinet.  

Please make the phone calls and write the letters that will encourage Governor Bill Ritter to appoint JOAN FITZ GERALD to the U.S. SENATE.  Joan Fitz Gerald served the People of Colorado with absolute integrity and unyielding support for Workers.  It is now our turn to let her know how much we appreciate her service!

Sincerely,

(I did have a conversation with her today in which she indicated that she would be proud to serve.) [emphasis added]

ED KNOX

Now I figure that Fitz-Gerald hasn’t actively campaigned for support from Knox, but the fact she didn’t put the kibosh on his email leads me to believe she’s at least interested in the position. This is a pretty significant shift from her decision to stay out of the SOS replacement process. As the former Jeffco Clerk and Recorder I’d argue she had a better “in” on that one than on the wide-open Senate free-for-all, which has attracted interest from everyone and their mustache.

While I don’t think it’s all that likely she’ll get the gig, I’m very glad to see Fitz-Gerald back in the political mix.

A Model for Denver’s Newspapers?

( – promoted by Colorado Pols)

Jack Foster, editor and CEO of the Rocky Mountain News for three decades, saved the paper from imminent extinction by arguing with the Scripps-Howard owners for a radical move from a Denver Post style broadsheet to their current tabloid format. Foster believed the change would make it easier for readers to use and navigate, while making advertising more affordable.

Today, the Rocky faces imminent extinction once more, and a radical change making it easier for readers to use and navigate could again save the day.

The Detroit Free Press and The Detroit News (working under a similar joint operating agreement as the Rocky and Post) announced on Tuesday they would end daily home delivery and instead focus on leading the “nation and industry with expanded digital offerings.”

Finally.

Newspapers are in trouble across the country. We live in a digital age, and as even the recording industry has begun to grudgingly acknowledge, the way people consume content has and will continue to change. But remember the old fictional yet poignant trope that when written in Chinese the word crisis is composed of two characters: one represents danger, the other opportunity.

The Detroit papers have decided to seize the opportunity. They’ve acknowledged that survival requires a drastic change to how they do business.

MediaNews Group owns both The Denver Post and The Detroit News. Their going out on a limb in Detroit indicates they understand the challenges faced by traditional papers. I suspect they’d have a better chance of finding a working formula if they took the same risk here in Denver.

E.W. Scripps owns the Rocky and has already shut down numerous other papers across the country. Hopefully this means they also understand the old formula simply does not work. Could they be persuaded to take a risk here in Denver?

In 1942 the Rocky Mountain News nearly died, but thanks to the work of a gifted and visionary editor it survives as Denver’s oldest newspaper. Today we again need the leadership, dedication, and tenacity of a new Jack Foster to save the Rocky – and reinvigorate a flagging industry.

Mr. Temple and Mr. Singleton, are you up to the job?

Have any ideas on how a digital paper might work – and how it could make enough money to pay its news and editorial staff? Post ’em in the comments and let’s hope someone’s listening!

Strickland Putting Himself in the Mix for Senate

(Archetype “lawyer/lobbyist” wants another go? – promoted by Colorado Pols)

Rumors are swirling that former US Attorney (and former two-time Senate candidate) Tom Strickland is seeking to replace Senator Ken Salazar, and has spoken with Governor Bill Ritter about the possibility.

Maybe the third time’s the charm?

I Want My Rocky! (dot com)

( – promoted by Colorado Pols)

[POLS Note: Read the sidebar on the IWantMyRocky site, where it says that they expect to only have until mid-January before the Rocky closes down.]

Can’t imagine life in a one-(major)-paper town? Especially if that paper’s the Denver Post? Want to do something more than complain about it here on Pols?

According to the Associated Press, a group of 30 Rocky Mountain News staffers have created an outlet for your passion and support. IWantMyRocky.com launched Sunday night and kicks off with a piece from Mike Littwin:

We meet in this strange place in a noble effort to save the Rocky Mountain News. And if we can’t save the Rocky, we can, at minimum, make some noise before we go. Since the day the proposed sale of the Rocky was announced, we’ve been waiting for the odd billionaire to join our cause. This may surprise you, but none has come forward. Apparently Phil and Tim and Pat and the rest of the team must have misplaced our e-mail address.

So, we turn now to the non-billionaires. We think there may be more of you. We ask not for your money, but – as they say in the sports world – for the opportunity to play for pride. Many of you read the Rocky. Many of you and your families have read the Rocky for generations. Many of you don’t know how to hold a paper that is bigger than a tabloid and simultaneously eat your Wheaties



You can comment on our posts here on iwantmyrocky.com about, yes, why you want your Rocky. You can be the roots in a grassroots effort to save the Rocky or help save our sanity, anyway. There are many helpful (or so I’m told) suggestions on this Web site. Feel free to send in more of your own.

Thanks for your help and for 149½ years (so far).

While I think ireallydontwantogetlaidoffinthisgeorgebusheconomy.com might have been a more accurate name, my heart goes out to these guys. As I’ve commented before, they have – by far – the best political coverage in the state.

So gather up a posse and head on over. I know many of our readers have strong opinions about the sale, and while every Rocky reporter should read Colorado’s most influential political blog every day, I suspect they’ll pay a little more attention to comments on their own site.

Forget the $400,000 – Check Out the Republicans!

( – promoted by Colorado Pols)

As noted yesterday, Senator Ken Salazar kicked off his reelection bid with one heck of a fundraiser. Now I never thought I’d say this about an event that raised $400,000, but the real story here isn’t the astronomical dollar amount – it’s the big name Republican donors who’ve lined up behind our state’s senior Senator.

From the Rocky:

Among the Republican and unaffiliated sponsors were Stewart Bliss, Bill Coors, Martin Hart, Greg Maffei, Larry Mizel, Blair Richardson and Daniel Ritchie.

Some of these names shouldn’t surprise. Stewart Bliss served as Romer’s Chief of Staff and has supported both Ken and John Salazar. Bill Coors, the 92-year-old grandson of brewery founder Adolph Coors, gave to his relative Pete Coors as well as the Salazar brothers back in 2004.

But some of these guys, well, truly unbelievable.

Larry Mizel, Chairman of real estate developer MZD Holdings, has donated well over $100,000 over the last three cycles to Republican candidates and committees and almost a million dollars between his wife and him since 1982. In 2008 he maxed out to McCain, gave $2,300 to Musgrave, and made a $10,000 contribution to the Colorado Republican Campaign Committee. Oddly though, Mizel also maxed out to Jared Polis, one of his only Democratic donations. I have to assume the two of them have a strong personal relationship that transcends their political beliefs, a relationship I doubt Mizel shares with Salazar.

Greg Maffei, the CEO of Liberty Media, also has an extensive Republican contribution record with a whopping $28,500 donation to the RNC in 2008. In the last three cycles he also has tens of thousands of dollars in contributions to other Republican candidates and committees, and until this Salazar fundraiser hadn’t given to any Colorado Democrat (at least not for federal office). I also hear that he appeared on stage with McCain in Grand Junction on election day – not exactly your typical Democratic donor.

While Senator Salazar’s moderate voting record and leadership on every major compromise in the Senate since his arrival certainly provides reason enough for this support from major Republican donors, I think that’s only half the story. If these guys thought they could knock off Ken with someone who voted with them 100% of the time they’d do it in a heartbeat. Instead these savvy Republican donors can read the writing on the wall, and at the end of the day on November 2, 2010 they’d rather be standing with the winner.

This should give pause to any Republican seriously considering a run against Salazar. With major party donors lining up behind the Democrat, even big-name candidates will have a hard time raising money.

Besides, who’d want to take on a political reincarnation of the Manassa Mauler?

Brittany Morris Departs CRL for Commerce City

( – promoted by Elliot)

Brittany Morris, Senior Vice President at Denver-based local lobbying firm CRL Associates, will leave that post on December 15th for a job with Commerce City. Morris will become the city’s Economic Development Director, where she will play a “key strategic role” in updating the city’s comprehensive plan, as well as “evaluating city assets such as the E-470/DIA corridor, Prairie Gateway area and the Mile High Racing Park. Other development projects include Derby revitalization, Ivy-K Shopping Center and the I-270 and Highway 85 redevelopment.”

Sounds like a non-stop roller coaster ride of fun and excitement for my friend Brittany! From the Commerce City press release:

“I was extremely pleased with the pool of applicants, and that we found the right person for this position,” [City Manager Jerry] Flannery said. “I believe Brittany has the credentials to help the city establish a vision for economic development that will guide the city toward what we want to accomplish. My expectations, as well as those of the community and the City Council, are high and I am very confident that Brittany will exceed them.”

“There were a number of qualified candidates, but it was a unanimous decision of the interviewing panels to choose Morris,” Flannery said.



“I’m very excited to be a part of a city that is growing and becoming a major player in the Denver metropolitan area,” Morris said. “Commerce City has come very far in just the past few years, I’m looking forward to the challenge in helping take the city to the next level.”

Certainly sorry to see her go, CEO of CRL Maria Garcia Berry called it, “An incredible opportunity for Brittany, and a huge loss for us. All of us here at CRL are very proud of her and wish her great success.”

Brittany’s a rising star in metro politics with brains, savvy, and determination. I suspect she has a very bright future ahead of her, which I’m sure we’ll read more about here on DenverPols.

An Email From Bob Ewegen

( – promoted by Colorado Pols)

Jason Salzman posted an email on BigMedia.org today from former Denver Post columnist Bob Ewegen, whose sudden departure has caused a great deal of speculation here on Pols. This should clear up some lingering questions, depending of course on whether or not you believe this email contains the whole story.

From Ewegen:

I don’t want to comment other than the fact that I already told my colleagues, which is that I will start working with my daughter Misty Ewegen as a paralegal in January.  I’ve already signed up for classes in legal research and legal writing at CCD.

There are some personal issues here but I have written publicly several times about my diabetes, which I was diagnosed with in 1973, just a few months after I joined The Post.  Retiring at this time will help me focus on my health.  I have also considered for years going to law school after I retired from The Post and if I can regain my full vitality, that may yet happen in 2011.

I had 36 great years at The Post but now I’m able to give my family and grandchildren the attention they deserve.  I’m not ruling out a return to journalism at some future point but at the moment my health and family considerations understandably are at center stage in my life.

Best Wishes

Bob

As Salzman points out on BigMedia.org, it’s weird the Post didn’t have a departing column for the guy, any explanation of why he left, or even a “we’ll miss him!” goodbye piece. Certainly as a private business they have a right to conduct themselves however they’d like, but leaving loyal readers wondering why one of their favorite writers left – that doesn’t seem like good business nor good community relations to me.

I hope Bob doesn’t mind the attention his departure has generated. We don’t mean to pry into your personal life, Bob, we just really miss your commentary in the paper and your comments here on Pols. Best wishes with the new career, and if you’d like to share an opinion from time to time we’d love to hear it.

Hurry! Special Limited Edition Obama Holiday Fleece!

( – promoted by Colorado Pols)

I admit, when I got Obama’s email asking for a $25 donation in exchange for a “limited edition t-shirt,” I bought it. I even bought the “Vote Nov. 4th” shirt, where the Obama logo cutely replaces the “o” in Nov. And yeah, I almost bought the commemorative election day victory shirt, but I figured the guy already won – does he really need any more of my money?

But when I got an email from the first campaign in American history to potentially break the $1 billion mark offering me a “Limited Edition Holiday Fleece,” well, I’ve just got to wonder – when will the madness end?

First of all, nothing about this fleece says “holiday.” It’s a fleece with a logo and the word Obama on it. Unless the campaign has started taking this whole “chosen one” thing seriously, last I checked none of the winter holidays even have an o in them. It’s just a fleece, guys.

Secondly, really? I mean seriously – really? A fleece? Because when I think about the President of the United States, what I really want is a jacket with his campaign’s logo on it to remind me of… higher heating oil costs? Global warming? The fact I paid fifty bucks for something I could have picked up at Old Navy for $9?

We’ve got a whole lot of problems to solve, so please stop trying to sell me junk with your logo and get on with running the country.

Although that blue one does look really comfortable…

My Crystal Ball on Obama’s VP Pick

( – promoted by Colorado Pols)

UPDATE: The Drudge scoop had me worried for a bit, but I love it when I’m right.  Doesn’t always turn out that way, so I savor the moments when it does.  🙂

Based not at all on politics nor inside information nor gut instinct, just a simple examination of a few tea leaves, here’s my crystal ball on Obama’s pick for VP.

Most reports indicate that Obama has already decided on a running mate, and he’ll announce that choice by Saturday. Today his campaign stops in Virginia, and on Saturday they have a huge rally planned back in Springfield, IL, where Obama announced his campaign for president last year.

The Virginia stop could mean that Obama will announce he’s chosen Governor Tim Kane as his running mate, but then why the huge rally in Springfield?  Why go to a state already firmly behind Obama with only a few short months until the election? Especially the day after you make one of biggest announcements of the campaign?

Springfield has symbolism, and a campaign would only chose a symbolic location over a politically helpful one if the VP doesn’t come from a swing state. What good would a huge rally do in, for example, Delaware, a state that’s voted for the Democratic candidate since 1992? Running up the margin doesn’t make a difference with the electoral college.

CBS News reports that Obama’s current short-list for VP includes Indiana Senator Evan Bayh, Kansa s Governor Kathleen Sebelius, Virginia Governor Tim Kane, and Delaware Senator Joe Biden – all potentially competitive states except Delaware. According to George Stephanopoulos, the Obama campaign has signaled that their pick will have “instantly recognizable national security experience.” While this could potentially include Bayh, Biden has far more gravitas on matters of foreign policy.

And, as the Rocky reported today a dark horse, Texas Rep. Chet Edwards, is also in the mix, but from what I’ve read it doesn’t seem he has “instantaneously recognizable national security experience.”

So, (drum roll, please) my crystal ball predicts that Obama has chosen Joe Biden as his running mate. Ta da! I know, not much of a surprise for people following the race, but sometimes the least surprising answer is the right one. (And for those of you REALLY following this story, yes, I think it’s Biden despite some half-hearted claims he’s made to the contrary.)

I’m looking forward to my text message!

Cross-posted, of a sort, at the Colorado Independent.

Why Aren’t Democrats Attacking Republicans Over High Gas Prices?

( – promoted by Colorado Pols)

Republicans have Democrats on the run over high gas prices.  According to the Politco, even Speaker Nancy Pelosi has privately encouraged vulnerable Dems to vote in favor of opening up additional areas to oil exploration.

This is insanity.  Why are Dems conceding that opening up ANWR and offshore drilling sites would reduce the cost of gasoline when it wouldn’t have any impact whatsoever?!  We don’t have enough oil anywhere in America to drill our way out of high gas prices.  Democrats shouldn’t let this issue drag them down, they should hang it on the heads of Republicans for standing in the way of renewable fuels and higher MPG standards.



Defenders of Wildlife
led the way with their attack on Congresswoman Marilyn Musgrave.  Democrats under attack from Republicans over high gas prices should run that spot, not run the other way.

Democrats have the truth on their side.  Why not use it?





X-posted on State38.com

The Great Pueblo Shakeout

( – promoted by Colorado Pols)

(Cross posted at State38.com.)

Earlier today ColoradoPols asked whether Dorothy Butcher would face a primary challenge from Congressman  John Salazar’s District Director Sal Pace in her race for the Colorado House.  The answer: no, because she’s running for County Commissioner instead.

Pace will run for State House, and Butcher will run for Pueblo County Commissioner.

Butcher held a fundraiser this weekend making her intentions rather clear.  The fundraiser: Dorothy Butcher for County Commissioner.  And lest ye of little faith believe she could still change her mind, those funds she raised can’t be changed over quite as easily.  As in, not at all under Colorado law (at least under my understanding of Colorado law, which isn’t quite as strong in court at Colorado law itself).  So should Butcher decide to run for State House, the money from this weekend will disappear – like former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales’ memory at Congressional hearings.

This means that my good friend Sal Pace will run for Butcher’s seat in House District 46.  For those who would like to donate to Sal, please visit his website here and click “Donate.”

Pace has lined up the Pueblo establishment with endorsements from his boss John Salazar, Congressman Ray Kogovsek, former State Rep Bob Jackson, and Wally and Sharon Stealey (the local water buffalos).  Frances Koncilja will host a Denver fundraiser for Pace in November.  Also of note, Pace raised $8,000 for the race in just over a month, putting him on pace (ha!) to raise about $120,000 total.

And, of course, he has an adorable new baby boy and a wonderful wife – who I hear makes a mean green chili.  Voters love that.

Butcher may have lost the vacancy appointment to replace retiring County Commissioner Loretta Kennedy, but she has a very good shot at winning a Democratic primary against the person who got the spot, John Cordova.  A large number of Pueblo county voters have already marked their X next to Butcher’s name three times since 2002, giving her far higher name ID with primary Dems.  That’s not a comment on Cordova, who’s by all accounts a fantastic guy and would make a great Commissioner, he just has a lot of ground to make up by August to even have a shot against Butcher.

Cong. Salazar’s DD Sal Pace Announcing Bid for State House

( – promoted by Colorado Pols)

Sal Pace, one of my best friends and District Director for Congressman John Salazar, will announce his candidacy for Colorado House District 46 at noon on August 29th at the Pueblo River Walk.  No other candidates have announced their intention to seek this office.

Pace hopes to replace retiring Rep. Dorothy Butcher, and will leave his current job with Cong. Salazar to focus all of his efforts on winning next November.

On a personal note, I love Sal Pace. Not only does he know Pueblo inside and out, he’s the kind of down-to-earth, good-hearted person that people on both sides of the aisle hope for in government.  He’s a good Democrat, and I’ve met very few people more dedicated to public service and the great state of Colorado than Sal.

His wonderful wife has the patience of Job, which she’ll need while taking care of their beautiful baby boy as Pace knocks on doors and wrangles votes.  I predict an easy win for Sal in the primary and the general, only because I know he’s one of the hardest working people in politics and the brightest political mind in Colorado.

As soon as he has his website up I’ll link to it from here.  It will likely be www.salpace.com.

Good luck, Sal!