Report: BLM HQ Will Move West

As Erin Prater writes for the Colorado Springs Gazette:

U.S. Department of the Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke is prepared to move ahead on moving the Bureau of Land Management headquarters to the West, according to reports.

Grand Junction is expected to be a prime possibility for the new national headquarters, partly because of the work of Colorado’s two U.S. senators, Republican Cory Gardner of Yuma and Michael Bennet of Denver…

…Rep. Scott Tipton’s office said Thursday that the department will conduct an analysis to help choose a location in the next six to eight months, Interior Department senior adviser Susan Combs told the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, according to the release Thursday. “Ninety-nine percent of the land that the BLM manages is located in the West, and the decisions made by the Bureau have daily impacts on those who live there, so it only makes sense to move the headquarters to a Western state. This would ensure that decisions would be made by those who understand the land best, resulting in more effective land management programs and policies.

Moving the headquarters of the BLM to the American West has been a long-running project that has the support of Colorado’s entire Congressional delegation, as well as the backing of local officials and Gov. John Hickenlooper. Colorado isn’t guaranteed to be the new home of the BLM, but Grand Junction is at least among the frontrunners.

It’s too soon to tell if this pending move will have a significant effect on BLM policies in the West or is more of a publicity stunt, though a new HQ would almost certainly create some new jobs in Colorado.

State Assemblies End; The Big Line Updates

With both the Democratic and Republican state assemblies/conventions now behind us, we’ve made a multitude of updates to The Big Line. If you’re looking for information on who made the ballot and who didn’t, you’ll find those updates in The Big Line. If you’re looking for a good restaurant in Colorado, you will not find that information in The Big Line. If you’re looking for an analysis of the 2018 races for Governor, Attorney General, State Treasurer, Secretary of State, and Congress…it’s in The Big Line.

You may now commence with your complaints…

(P.S.: The Big Line)

Colorado Democratic Assembly Results

Colorado Democrats assembled at the 1st Bank Center in Broomfield from Friday, April 13, to Saturday, April 14, 2018. The crowd of almost 4,000 Democrats were enthusiastic, engaged, yet civil (in contrast to the stunning back-stabbing and skullduggery at the Republican assembly) . The CDP Assembly was superbly well-organized, with balloting completed in about a half hour, and counted in less than two hours.  Kudos to Chair Morgan Carroll and all of the CDP staff and volunteers.

All of the  congressional districts held their own assemblies; many candidates had primary challengers or Democratic challengers to Republican incumbents. In this “blue wave” year, no office held by the GOP can be considered to be off-limits. Democrats in Colorado put forward a slate of phenomenal candidates.

The official results from the Colorado Democratic Party (CDP) for statewide offices are:

CU Regent-at-Large
Lesley Smith: 3,229 votes (100.00%)

Based on these results, Lesley Smith has qualified for the Democratic primary ballot for CU Regent-at-Large.

Treasurer
Bernard Douthit: 1,074 votes (31.50%)
Charles Scheibe: 557 votes (16.34%)
Dave Young: 1,778 votes (52.16%)

Based on these results, Bernard Douthit and Dave Young have qualified for the Democratic primary ballot for Treasurer.

Secretary of State
Jena Griswold: 3,352 votes (98.44%)
Phillip Villard: 53 votes (1.56%)

Based on these results, Jena Griswold has qualified for the Democratic primary ballot for Secretary of State.

Attorney General
Amy Padden: 360 votes (10.54%)
Joe Salazar: 1,249 votes (36.58%)
Phil Weiser: 1,805 votes (52.87%)

Based on these results, Joe Salazar and Phil Weiser have qualified for the Democratic primary ballot for Attorney General. Amy Padden can qualify for the ballot if the Secretary of State determines that she has collected the requisite number of valid signatures.

Governor
Cary Kennedy: 2,101 votes (61.65%)
Jared Polis: 1,120 votes (32.86%)
Erik Underwood: 187 votes (5.49%)

Based on these results, Cary Kennedy and Jared Polis have qualified for the Democratic primary ballot for Governor.

NOTE: These are not all of the candidates that are running for these particular offices. Some candidates have chosen to qualify for the ballot by submitting petition signatures instead of going through the caucus-assembly process.

Here are the CD results in order: ( rounded to nearest 1%). I’ll update this list with numbers as I find them.

I’ve included my notes on the assemblies I attended and on the speakers I heard.

CD1: (Denver metro)Diana Degette – 61% . Her primary opponent, Saira Rao , got 37%, and  will be on the ballot. Rep. Degette has been a reliable Democratic vote for many years in a safe district – I think Rao’s candidacy will be a needed wake-up call to be more progressive and to offer better constituent services. Rao is sharp, a great speaker, and has energized the progressive base. Degette attended her CD1 assembly on April 13 , did not attend nor speak at the state assembly April 14.

CD2: (Boulder area – Jared Polis vacated the seat to run for Governor) Joe Negeuse – 91% Joe gave a helluva speech, as he always does. His personal story touches many people. Boulder will be well represented by him, as he’ll certainly win the primary, and almost certainly the general election. His primary opponent, Mark Williams, did not make the ballot.  The GOP has put up a couple of “Nicks” against Neguse: Nick Thomas and Nicholas Morse. I don’t know who won the GOP assembly vote, but they won’t beat “the Goose”.

CD3: (most of the western slope and SW CO – currently held by Scott Tipton) Diane Mitsch Bush had the highest delegate vote with 56%; Karl Harlon also cleared the 30% threshold with 41%, and will be on the ballot.

CD4: (Mostly NE CO – current incumbent Ken Buck) The Doctors were in the house! Veterinary doctors Karen McCormick and Chase Kohne each had throngs of energetic supporters on stage for their nominations. Each gave a rousing speech:

Kohne’s best line, in my opinion: “If you want to shoot an AR15, go down to the recruiting office and join the military.”

McCormick’s nominators are emphasizing Dr McCormick’s support for Dreamers and immigrants. Karen McCormick emphasized Cannabis, immigrant rights, healthcare, union support, bipartisan cooperation to get laws passed. Full disclosure: I live in CD4. I’m voting for McCormick, will be fine with Kohne as well.

CD5 (El Paso area, currently held by Doug Lamborn) Stephany Rose Spaulding won the delegate count and will be on the ballot. I don’t know about the other CD5 candidates, whom you can read about at the EPCO Young Dems site.  It’s great to see so many young Democrats running from what has6been the Tea Party GOP’s bastion in Colorado.

CD6 Aurora / Arapahoe County area, currently held by Mike Coffman. Jason Crow won top ballot with 64% , while Levi Tilleman will also be on the ballot with 35%. I saw Crow speak to the assembly, and found his persona to be authentic and appealing. PPP surveyed 761 voters, and found that Crow polled 44-39 against Coffman in Febrary 2018.

CD7 Ed Perlmutter, the Democratic incumbent, did not attend the Assembly as far as I know. Ed, a very popular Congressman in his district,  is not  being primaried in this election.

 

Author’s note – this diary started as an open thread based on my  live blogging at the Colorado State Assembly. I’ve updated it with ballot results.

 

 

The Big Budget Deal, Guns, and Gardner

Trump sign bill, but Trump still mad!

After briefly threatening a veto — and randomly asking Congress to give him line item veto powers (and eliminating the filibuster) — President Trump today signed a massive $1.3 trillion spending deal that includes changes to background checks for gun purchases that Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) opposed to the very end. If that sentence seems complicated…well, it is. There’s no easy way to unpack the giant omnibus spending bill rammed through by Congress early this morning.

Let’s start things off with the Washington Post reporting from the White House:

Just hours after threatening a veto, President Trump said Friday afternoon that he had signed a “ridiculous” $1.3 trillion spending bill passed by Congress early Friday and averted a government shutdown…

…But speaking to reporters at the White House about four hours later, Trump said he had decided to sign the bill despite his reservations, arguing that it provides much-needed funding for the military, including a pay increase for troops and new equipment.

In his remarks to the media today, Trump was in full angry old man mode. From the New York Times:

In a rambling and disjointed 20-minute statement from the Diplomatic Reception Room, Mr. Trump denigrated the bill, which was rushed through the House and the Senate by members of his own Republican Party, as “crazy” and vowed to never “sign another bill like this again.”

“Nobody read it,” Mr. Trump said of the sweeping funding measure drawn up by Republican leaders in the House and the Senate. Echoing criticism from those who voted against the measure, Mr. Trump added, “It’s only hours old.”

Trump specifically addressed his anger about the 2,322-page spending bill that lawmakers could not have possibly even begun to have read before voting on the measure. The House version of the bill made it to the floor on Thursday after just 16 hours of debate; all four Colorado Republican members of Congress voted to end discussion, moving things along with a narrow 211-207 result. Colorado Reps. Mike Coffman (R-Aurora) and Ken Buck (R-Greeley) were ultimately able to vote “YES” and “NO” on the proposal (Coffman and Buck voted YES on the procedural move before pressing the “NO” button on the final vote).

Senator Cory Gardner (R-Yuma).

Over in the Senate, the spending bill passed with 62 votes; Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Denver) voted “YES” and Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) was a “NO.” Gardner’s vote is particularly interesting because the bill included the “Fix NICS” background check provision that Gardner had been blocking for weeks. The next time Gardner pretends to be concerned about gun violence, remember that he prevented the popular background fix measure from being debated in the Senate and ultimately voted against its final approval.

What else do we know about the giant omnibus spending bill? As CNN’s Gregory Krieg explains, it’s important to consider everything that was NOT bundled into the legislation, such as: 1) DACA and immigration reform, 2) Billions of dollars for Trump’s border wall, and 3) Serious attempts at preventing gun violence, including no new limits on gun purchases.

How did this all happen so quickly? As Sarah Binder writes for the Washington Post, this was Republican strategerie at work:

One of the reasons GOP leaders were keen to rush the bill to a vote is that they didn’t want their partisan base to notice that it both funds innumerable Democratic priorities and blocks the Trump administration from doing such things as expanding detention of immigrants, defunding sanctuary cities, and ending federal funding for the arts, to name a few. [Pols emphasis] The Trump White House and many conservatives wanted deep cuts to domestic programs. Party leaders ignored that. The more quickly the two chambers vote, the less time potential opponents have to unearth details that could outrage the GOP base, who might pressure their representatives to vote against the deal.

To summarize, Congressional Republicans rammed through a humongous spending bill that they didn’t read and didn’t really like that does very little to address their political vulnerabilities on gun violence and immigration reform…and will also likely anger their base of supporters.

No More Faux-Hawk, but Still Very Weird

Mark Barrington has trimmed his “faux-hawk” for 2018 (“swing” image via Ernest Luning/Colorado Politics)

We were a little sad to read of the official return to the political stage of Republican Mark Barrington, but only because he seems to have foregone the “faux-hawk” that we came to love from previous campaigns.

Ernest Luning of the publication formerly known as the Colorado Statesman has the story of the latest Republican candidate who will not be defeating Democratic Rep. Ed Perlmutter in a General Election:

Barrington, a 39-year-old salesman, says he looks forward to campaigning door-to-door on a Hoverboard and plans to hold a campaign kick-off event at a trampoline park in the heart of the suburban district. Count on balloon rides for children and popsicles encasing campaign messages on popsicle sticks…

…It’ll be Barrington’s fourth run for office. He tried to win a seat on Lakewood’s city council in 2005, when he was a recent graduate of the city’s Colorado Christian University, and again in 2011. In between, Barrington, who lives with his wife and their two young sons in Lakewood’s Green Mountain neighborhood, mounted a 2010 challenge against then-state Rep. Andy Kerr, D-Lakewood. (Kerr, now a term-limited state senator, was one of four Democrats running for the congressional seat who stepped aside when Perlmutter announced he wanted a seventh term.)

Barrington is not without campaign experience, but can he pose a serious challenge for Perlmutter in 2018? This paragraph from Luning’s story speaks for itself:

The National Republican Congressional Committee put the seat on a target list a year ago — when Perlmutter was considered a likely candidate for governor — and a spokesman said last fall the group still believed it was up for grabs after the incumbent got back in. The spokesman didn’t respond this week to a message seeking comment about Barrington’s candidacy. [Pols emphasis]

We have officially added Barrington to “The Big Line” with a generous 2% chance of winning in November. We look forward to pictures of Barrington going door-to-door on his Hoverboard.

No Nibiru, just rural Democrats causing trouble.

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

So the world didn’t end today (yet). I  bet a 6th grader a chocolate bar that we’d still have class Monday.  His older brother had told him for sure that September 23 was it. Young students are all on Facebook, gobbling up and sharing every bit of fake news and conspiracy theory out there.

The eclipse, the hurricanes, and the earthquakes proved that doomsday was at hand.

This didn’t happen. Nibiru hitting earth, debunked on Snopes.com

My more sciencey students rushed to debunk this: “If there was a planet about to hit the earth, we would have seen it coming! Planets don’t just jump out of their orbits and go wherever they want! NASA says it’s not true. ”

I love that they’re paying attention in science class, and using evidence-based arguments.

But, no Nibiru in sight. Just another day, living the dream in northeast Colorado. Something else surprising is happening, though….Democrats are organizing in Northeast Colorado, and in rural counties all over the state.

At Octoberfest, it was chilly and drizzly. Felt like fall.  The Morgan County Democrats were boothed next to the American Legion, so we had lots of opportunities to chat while we waited for people to stop by.

I quickly found that we could talk about anything as long as I didn’t directly criticize the President. They could criticize him, though, and did. “Needs to take a Speech 101 class,” said a spry old gentleman who later showed off his world-class polka moves. “He’s embarrassing us with all the tweeting,” confided a lifelong Republican.

Democrats were zeroing in on us, too. “You have a booth? Here? How many Democrats are in Morgan County?” Turns out, about 3,000 registered Dems to about 6,000 registered Republicans, with ~4,500 unaffiliated. Dems have kept rather quiet until now, what with that 2:1 disadvantage.

But those days are gone. Dems had big, loud, crowded floats in all of the recent town parades.

(more…)

Get More Smarter on Tuesday (August 22)

If you didn’t blind yourself by staring at the eclipse on Monday, enjoy these words. It’s time to Get More Smarter. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of a visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show.

 

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

The dust is settling in Jefferson County following Monday’s news — first reported by Colorado Pols — that Rep. Ed Perlmutter has decided to seek re-election in 2018 after initially saying he would not be a candidate for any office next year. Democratic candidates Andy KerrBrittany Pettersen, and Dominick Moreno have all publicly announced that they are ending their campaigns in CD-7 and endorsing Perlmutter for re-election.

 

► President Trump will be in Phoenix, Arizona tonight for a campaign-style rally that has Republicans nervous for a whole host of reasons. As A.J. Vicens (formerly of the Columbine Courier) writes for Mother Jones, there’s a lot of buzz that Trump might use the occasion of his speech in Phoenix to pardon Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio:

Arpaio was recently convicted of contempt of court for disregarding a judge’s order to stop his discriminatory anti-immigration patrols, and he now faces up to six months in jail, with sentencing scheduled for October.

The president told Fox News on August 14 that he was “seriously considering” pardoning Arpaio…

…The White House didn’t respond to a question about whether Trump was planning to issue the pardon, and Arpaio said he hasn’t heard about an impending pardon but would be “honored by the potential pardon” and would accept it, according to the New York Times. Arpaio told Politico that he’d be available for the Tuesday night rally if called upon.

Republicans are also concerned that Trump may be planning to use his Phoenix trip to continue his aggressive attacks on Republican Sen. Jeff Flake, who is up for re-election in 2018. As Politico reports:

President Donald Trump faces a decision on Tuesday evening with profound implications for his already strained relationship with the GOP: whether to attack a vulnerable Republican senator on his home turf.

White House officials won’t say exactly what’s on Trump’s agenda when he holds a campaign-style rally here. But it’s widely expected he will go after GOP Sen. Jeff Flake, a loud critic of the president who recently published an anti-Trump manifesto, “Conscience of a Conservative.”…

…In the days leading up to Trump’s Arizona trip, Senate GOP leaders have implicitly warned Trump that attacking Flake, who faces a treacherous path to reelection, would only serve to further rupture his relationship with a congressional GOP wing that he’s grown increasingly isolated from in recent weeks. It came after Trump, in a tweet after the Phoenix event was announced, called Flake “toxic.” The president had earlier threatened to spend as much as $10 million to take out the incumbent Republican.

Flake has received full public support from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and National Republican Senatorial Committee Chair Cory Gardner. It’s hard to say if this is good news for Flake, since McConnell is sporting some amazingly-low approval ratings (with Gardner not far away).

 

► Governor John Hickenlooper announced plans for a state response to dealing with oil and gas companies following a home explosion in Firestone in late April. Cathy Proctor of the Denver Business Journal has the details on Hick’s 7-point plan.

 

Get even more smarter after the jump…

(more…)

Field Clears For Smooth Perlmutter Re-Entry*

Perlmutter for Congress yard signs.

The Denver Post’s Jesse Paul reporting, a wild few weeks of uncertainty in Colorado Democratic politics is rapidly winding down as primary candidates for the congressional seat of incumbent Rep. Ed Perlmutter suspend following his decision to run for re-election again:

State Sen. Andy Kerr on Tuesday morning became the third Democrat to leave the 7th Congressional District race after U.S. Rep. Ed Perlmutter’s announcement Monday that he will run for re-election to Congress after all…

“There’s good reason to be excited about Ed’s decision to run for Congress again,” Kerr said. “He’s a true-blue Coloradan that has spent more than a decade in Washington, D.C., fighting for our values and making sure that we have a strong advocate for Jefferson and Adams counties.”

Sen. Andy Kerr’s statement this morning was preceded yesterday by his principal rival in the race Rep. Brittany Pettersen, whose statement was no less gracious:

“While I’m disappointed I will not have the opportunity to serve our community in Congress, I know that the people of the 7th (Congressional) District will continue to be well represented by Ed Perlmutter,” she said in a written statement. “I am so proud and humbled by the support of the people across Colorado who believed in me and stepped up to contribute, volunteer and support my campaign.”

Sen. Dominick Moreno was first to pull out after yesterday’s announcement, first reported by Colorado Pols, saying “we continue to be in good hands with Congressman Perlmutter.” The only other candidate still nominally remaining the Democratic CD-7 race is Dan Baer, a former Obama administration diplomat who parachuted into the race early in August:

A spokeswoman for Baer, who said he raised more than $300,000 in the two weeks after he announced his campaign Aug. 1, said Monday that he was traveling and “given the number of twists and turns in this race so far, we don’t have any immediate response.”

Whatever, Baer. The fact is, it doesn’t matter what this locally unknown come-lately candidate says at this point. For all intents and purposes the 2018 CD-7 Democratic primary is over, and Baer will just humiliate himself if he ignores that reality.

It’s true that this has been a bizarre turnabout, over the course of months, as Ed Perlmutter entered the gubernatorial race then decided against it as the brutality of today’s politics evidenced by the shooting of GOP Congressman Steve Scalise–and the prospect of a hard-fought primary against Rep. Jared Polis–led him to reconsider. But after a period of introspection, it became clear that Perlmutter’s seniority in Congress and long record of effective leadership in this district are powerful assets that serve his constituents and the state well.

So yes, he gets to do this. As we’ve said before, it’s possible that there is no one in Colorado politics today who has the political capital to pull this kind of episode off without loss of standing besides Ed Perlmutter. His decision to run again, as painful as it is to his would-be successors through no fault of their own, is therefore one that everybody on the Democratic side of the aisle is compelled to accept.

The other candidates will all get their chances, in no small part based on their graciousness today.

BREAKING: Perlmutter Will Run for Re-Election in CD-7

UPDATE #3: Democrats Brittany Pettersen and Dominick Moreno have both “suspended” their campaigns and endorsed Perlmutter for re-election.

—–

UPDATE #2: The Colorado Springs Gazette has more response from the four Democratic candidates who had already filed to run in CD-7:

The Colorado Pols website first reported Monday morning that Perlmutter would officially seek re-election, and The Denver Post first reported Perlmutter’s statement on his decision.

Colorado Politics was the first to report Perlmutter was reconsidering his earlier decision and would likely run for his seat in Congress again, and that other candidates were reconsidering, as a result…

…Moreno announced Monday morning he is dropping out of the Democratic primary and will instead back Perlmutter.

“We continue to be in great hands with Congressman Perlmutter,” Moreno said in a statement. “Thank you to the many people who supported me along this journey. My time serving our community does not end with our campaign suspending, and I remain committed to standing up for our values in the state Senate.”

Kerr said through a spokeswoman Monday he will be discussing the development with friends, family and supporters before making a decision “in the next day or two.”

Campaigns for Pettersen and Baer also responded with comments from spokespeople. It is unlikely that any of the four Democrats will ultimately remain in the race now that Perlmutter is back.

—–

Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-Jefferson County).

UPDATE: Here’s Perlmutter’s official statement on his decision:

“Over the last few weeks a lot has happened, both for me and in the world. I’ve taken some time to regroup and recharge, and in so doing I’ve had many meaningful conversations with friends, neighbors, supporters and family who have encouraged me to run again. I have appreciated each and every conversation. It has made me take time to reflect on the future. And I’ve come to the conclusion to run again for re-election. To ask the hardworking people of the 7th district to once again put their trust in me to be their voice in Washington. I care deeply for our state and I love my home which is here in the 7th district.

“I’ve talked to Andy, Brittany, Dominick and corresponded with Dan about my decision. They are all wonderful people and I know for them and some others my decision is not convenient or well timed, for which I’m sorry. But I know I have more to do and more to give to the people of the 7th district. I understand this is not an ideal situation – I really do – but I know we can all work together to fight for our Colorado way of life.”

—–

Congressman Ed Perlmutter (D-Jefferson County) has decided to run for re-election in CD-7 and has informed other Democratic candidates in the district of his decision. Colorado Pols was first to report the news Monday morning.

Perlmutter’s decision to seek a seventh term marks a whirlwind few months for the longtime Jeffco Democrat. Perlmutter was a candidate for governor for a few months before a surprise announcement in July that he would no longer be a candidate for any office in 2018. In recent weeks, however, word began to leak that Perlmutter was reconsidering that decision and being encouraged by supporters to run for re-election in a district he has never failed to win by a margin of at least 10 points.

Perlmutter’s decision likely ends the Congressional candidacies of four Democrats who had been running to succeed him. For reasons related to campaign finance laws, candidates currently in the race may not officially “close” their campaign committees until a later date.

Don’t Blink, Colorado Dems!

Peter Marcus, outgoing reporter for the Colorado Springs Gazette mashes the “scramble” button on Democratic politics in Colorado in a big way–with news that Rep. Ed Perlmutter may run again for his CD-7 seat after pulling out of the gubernatorial race and giving every indication that he would retire:

Multiple sources confirmed that after Perlmutter was approached by constituents and fellow colleagues in Congress about a re-election campaign, he began reconsidering running for re-election. Sources could not speak on the record, as they were not at liberty to discuss the details of Perlmutter’s thoughts.

A re-election campaign would come after Perlmutter, a Democrat from Arvada who represents the 7th Congressional District in Jefferson and Adams counties, declared that he would not pursue the seat again.

Several Democrats have been running to replace Perlmutter in a tightly contested primary, including state Sens. Andy Kerr of Lakewood and Dominick Moreno of Commerce City, and state Rep. Brittany Pettersen, also of Lakewood. Also running in the race is former Obama-era U.S. ambassador Dan Baer.

A re-election bid by the popular Perlmutter could cripple those campaigns.

There’s nothing we can add to this report without more information, but we’ll update as soon as we know more. The fact is that Perlmutter is the incumbent representative for this district, and candidates stepping back into their old race after changing their mind on a bid for higher office is not without precedent (see: Marco Rubio). With that said, we have to believe anyone less beloved than Ed Perlmutter would be facing severe blowback over this most uncharacteristic bout of indecision–leaving fellow Democrats who have planned their own career moves around his choices for months in the lurch.

But it is Ed Perlmutter. This is Ed Perlmutter’s seat. And we do expect everyone involved will defer to him.

Whatever happens here needs to happen quickly, so that everyone can move on with their lives.

Q2 Fundraising Lessons: The Wealthy Shall Inherit the Office

Republican gubernatorial candidate Victor Mitchell

The numbers are in for the first big fundraising quarter of the 2018 election cycle, and like any important fundraising period, the results have provided both answers and questions for many campaigns.

As we’ve said many times in this space, fundraising numbers are often a good barometer of the relative strength or weakness of a campaign – particularly at this stage in the cycle. Fundraising reports are less informative the closer we get to Election Day because it is more difficult to account for independent expenditures, PACs, and other outside spending. But when you are a year out from the Primary and 18 months from the General Election, these numbers can be a terrific guide into how a race is starting to take shape.

Fundraising is about money, of course, but it is a mistake to write off fundraising reports as just a singular piece of financial information. Fundraising reports tells us how much money was raised, but also where it came from and how it was spent. Big donations from out-of-state interests tell a different story than hundreds of small-dollar donations within the boundaries of a given district.

Most importantly, fundraising reports tell us a lot about the perception and support for a particular campaign. Think of it like sports betting; people make all sorts of bets on a given sporting event, but by and large, the big money goes with the outcome that is perceived to be the most likely. Everyone wants to back a winner – it’s human instinct. Of course, there are always exceptions to this rule – including some that we will point out in a moment – but in general you can learn a lot from early money in politics.

We’ve been sifting through fundraising reports for the biggest races in Colorado, and in a series of posts that follow, we’ll tell you what we’ve learned …     

 

If You’ve Got the Money, Honey, You’ve Got More Time

Wealthy candidates are not a new phenomenon in Colorado, but we’re seeing the beginning of a potentially-troubling trend in the early fundraising reports from Q2: Candidates with deep pockets aren’t even trying to raise money.

Former one-term Republican lawmaker Victor Mitchell has earned a lot of money from various business ventures over the years, and he’s apparently planning on spending a good chunk of those earnings in his bid for Governor. Mitchell seeded his gubernatorial campaign with a $3 million check in February, but raised just $13,098 in the period ending on June 30. Likewise, Democrat Jared Polis is putting a lot of his own fortune into his bid for Governor and is only accepting contributions of $100 or less. Other candidates, such as Mitt Romney’s Nephew (aka, Republican Doug Robinson), have said that they plan to rely on hefty sums from their personal fortunes in the months to come. This is a tremendous financial advantage for candidates who can afford it, but it’s more than that; if you don’t have to spend 30+ hours on the phone each week trying to raise money, that’s more time that you can be out meeting voters and gathering broader support.

This disadvantage is one of the reasons that Democrat Ed Perlmutter – at the time, the prohibitive favorite — withdrew from the gubernatorial race earlier this month. It also makes things much more difficult for candidates who also have a day job to worry about; Republican George Brauchler had an awful Q2 , and he’s going to have trouble just keeping his campaign afloat while he maintains his position as District Attorney in Arapahoe County.

Candidates for Governor in Colorado can only accept maximum contributions of $1,150 from any one individual – technically, $575 for the Primary and $575 for the General Election – which makes it that much more difficult for non-wealthy candidates to catch up to their cash-flush opponents. Even if every person on your call list agrees to donate the maximum amount, it still takes hours upon hours of phone time to collect.

There used to be more of a stigma associated with wealthy candidates who sought to bankroll campaigns for higher office, which compelled them to spend more time and energy raising money. For whatever reason, that stigma seems to be fading. 

Perlmutter Bows Out of 2018 Election

Congressman Ed Perlmutter (D-Jefferson County) announced this morning that he would not seek elected office in 2018, essentially signaling his retirement from public office after decades of service in the state legislature and Congress. Perlmutter had long been considered the frontrunner in the 2018 race for governor, but he admitted on Tuesday that the long grind of politics had finally taken its toll.

“I thought I could do it all,” said Perlmutter at a press conference at his Golden campaign office. “I’m telling all of you, I can’t.”

Perlmutter’s decision to exit the gubernatorial race was influenced in some degree by Rep. Jared Polis’ decision to join the field, but his announcement was more of a candid assessment that running for public office just wasn’t something he wanted to do anymore.

Perlmutter served in the state Senate from 1995-2003. He was first elected to Congress in CD-7 in 2006 and handily won re-election every two years (Perlmutter never failed to win by more than double-digits in any election year).

This decision creates a significant opening in the race for governor that will likely be filled by Polis. Perlmutter said on Tuesday that he did not plan to endorse any candidate for governor nor a successor in CD-7.

BREAKING: Ed Perlmutter Will Exit Gubernatorial Race

UPDATE #2: State Sen. Andy Kerr, a candidate to replace Perlmutter in Congress:

Ed Perlmutter has been a friend, a mentor, and a hardworking public servant for the people of Adams and Jefferson Counties. I wish him nothing but the best in whatever path he chooses next.

—–

Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-Jefferson County).

UPDATE: Peter Marcus at the Colorado Springs Gazette confirms, Ed Perlmutter will not run again in CD-7:

Sources close to Perlmutter’s campaign, as well as sources from the campaigns of the three Democrats looking to replace him in Congress, confirmed to Colorado Politics that Perlmutter will announce on Tuesday that he is dropping out of the race.

Those sources also confirmed that Perlmutter will not run for re-election in 2018, which leaves the seat open for a spirited Democratic primary.

State Sen. Andy Kerr of Lakewood, Rep. Brittany Pettersen of Lakewood, and Sen. Dominick Moreno of Commerce City, are all in a battle to take over Perlmutter’s seat.

—–

As quickly as it began, breaking news from the Denver Post’s Mark Matthews rocks the 2018 Colorado elections:

U.S. Rep. Ed Perlmutter plans to announce Tuesday that he will end his run for Colorado governor, just three months after the Arvada Democrat started it, according to two sources close to the campaign.

The surprise decision by the sixth-term lawmaker comes a few weeks after another Colorado Democrat, U.S. Rep. Jared Polis of Boulder, said he would join the race.

There’s a lot we’re awaiting now: whether Rep. Ed Perlmutter will retain his CD-7 seat or retire from Congress, the exact reason for this momentous decision, and how this move will affect other candidates in the 2018 gubernatorial primary. We’ll update as soon as we know more.

Get More Smarter on Wednesday (June 28)

Few things have become as strange as the daily White House press briefing.  It’s time to Get More Smarter. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of a visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show.

 

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► Republicans are scrambling to figure out their next steps after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell abruptly announced on Tuesday that the Senate healthcare bill (“The Better Care Reconciliation Act”) would not be rushed to a vote before Congress takes its July 4th holiday recess at the end of the week.

As the Washington Post explains, Republicans are having trouble finding a reason to push forward with a terrible healthcare bill:

Amid a revolt against the Senate health-care bill, supporters have seized upon something of a last-ditch argument: Whatever you think of this bill, they say, you owe it to your voters. Republicans have been promising for years to repeal and replace Obamacare, the argument goes, and not passing this bill will mean they will have broken their promise.

There is one big problem with that strategy: The GOP base doesn’t seem to see it that way.

Not only aren’t Republican voters particularly keen on this bill, but polls suggest they wouldn’t even blame their Republican members of Congress for failing to close the deal.

A new poll (Marist/NPR) shows that 55% of Americans disapprove of the Senate healthcare plan, with only 17% in favor of the bill. The polling trend lines have shown consistent downward movement.

As Politico reports, the Senate healthcare bill is not dead…yet…while the editorial board of the New York Times says the GOP’s “healthcare hoax” has been exposed.

 

► Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper has been in Washington D.C. alongside a bipartisan group of Governors in opposition to the Senate healthcare bill. Hickenlooper and Ohio Gov. John Kasich, a Republican, held a news conference on Tuesday that was highly critical of GOP healthcare efforts that would include devastating cuts to Medicaid. Hickenlooper specifically called out Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) in his remarks.

Senator Michael Bennet (D-Denver) is pushing back against Republican claims that Democrats are refusing to work with the GOP on healthcare legislation. Bennet took to the Senate floor on Tuesday to hammer this point home.

 

► A group of protestors with disabilities have been camping out at the Denver office of Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) since late Tuesday in an effort to persuade Gardner to oppose the Republican Senate healthcare bill. Gardner has been bullish on the Senate bill despite Monday’s awful score from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), which estimated the legislation would cut health coverage for at least 22 million Americans.

 

Get even more smarter after the jump…

(more…)

Republican Field for Governor Grows Vaguely Larger

Doug Robinson, the whitest man in Colorado.

Republicans have a new candidate for Governor in 2018: This guy!

“This guy” is Doug Robinson, a nephew of former Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney.

Aside from the fact that one of Robinson’s parents is a sibling of Romney — and that Robinson was a co-chair of Romney’s finance committee in Colorado — we can’t tell you much about the guy. John Frank of the Denver Post has a short story on Robinson’s candidacy that doesn’t say much of anything — the initial version of Frank’s story said that Robinson’s campaign declined to respond to repeated requests for comment, which is a strange way to roll out a statewide campaign — but does include some of the text from Robinson’s announcement letter sent to Colorado Republicans:

The Denver investment banker declared his candidacy for the 2018 race in a letter sent to Republican activists and launched online advertisements directed to a new campaign website [Pols emphasis]. His campaign launch is scheduled for Friday…

…His letter touts himself as a “committed Republican my entire life.” And he highlights his business background, noting that he founded his own company and then worked in technology investment banking for KPMG. “My background is in business — not politics,” he said.

A businessman, not a politician. How inventive.

If you are wondering why Robinson made such a cryptic announcement today, touting a website that says absolutely nothing, the bolded line in the Denver Post story above may provide a clue. Robinson’s campaign appears to have launched online advertisements before bothering to register as an official campaign committee, which is not exactly legal; someone may have panicked and realized that Robinson needed to make his campaign official before he started spending money on said campaign.

The only other thing we remember about Robinson is from a Mitt Romney appearance in Colorado during the 2012 election. Halfway through the clip below, Robinson says something off-camera and then gets a shout-out from Romney:

So, anyway, the GOP race for governor is getting crowded. Maybe it’s time to gas up the 2016 Republican Senate clown car for another tour through Colorado.