Walker Stapleton on PERA Reform: Eight Years of Zilch

State Treasurer Walker Stapleton

Long periods of inactivity occasionally interrupted by pointless platitudes.

If you were going to summarize Republican Walker Stapleton’s history with his self-professed signature issue of PERA reform, this is about where you’d end up.

As Brian Eason writes for the Colorado Sun, Stapleton has spent the last eight years as State Treasurer talking about the importance of reforming PERA (the Public Employees’ Retirement Association) but rarely bothering to actually do much to support his rhetoric. This won’t likely come as much of a surprise to anyone who is even remotely familiar with Stapleton, but the details are still pretty damning:

“Everything I said about the need to fix this problem seven or eight years ago I think has been borne to be true,” he told The Colorado Sun in an interview. “I’m proud of the fact that I was right on a lot of the things that I said were wrong.”

But when it came time to actually fix it? Stapleton — by his own admission — was largely absent from the public debate. [Pols emphasis]

By his own admission…

By Stapleton’s own admission, he wasn’t even conscious when lawmakers were voting on the most significant piece of PERA legislation (SB12-200) in the last decade. This is a direct quote from Stapleton via Colorado Public Radio:

“I was not physically even at the legislature. I think I was asleep by the time they finally passed the deal.”

It’s been pretty clear for awhile now that the Republican nominee for Governor is not a good candidate, but Eason’s story reinforces a more fundamental problem voiced by Democrats and Republicans alike: Walker Stapleton just doesn’t show up, and he’s not really interested in arguing otherwise. His legacy at the State Capitol is an empty parking spot.

Stapleton’s poor attendance as State Treasurer has been well-documented. Eason’s story in the Colorado Sun is different in that it takes a more focused look at Stapleton’s “involvement” with the one cause he has championed above all others:

In the fall of 2017, he trashed the board’s plan in interviews and editorials. In December, he offered suggestions of his own. But in the spring of 2018, when lawmakers set about to craft the final product, he went uncharacteristically silent.

He wasn’t at the negotiating table when the bill was drafted. Nor did he testify publicly on the measure, as he’d done on pension-related bills in years past.

“At the time it was really hard to tell whether he was a critic of what was being proposed or whether he was supporting it,” said Terry Campbell, PERA’s lead lobbyist.

Largely absent” will be the inscription on Stapleton’s political gravestone. 

Who Will be Colorado’s Next Governor? (Round 4)

Jared Polis (left) and Walker Stapleton

We forgot to post our weekly poll on the Governor’s race on Monday, so here it is. Tell us who you THINK is going to win the race for Governor.

Remember, we’re looking for your best educated guess on the outcome of this race, not who you support or who you would prefer to see emerge victorious. The point of this exercise is to track how perceptions of the race are (or are not) changing as Election Day nears. For previous results, click Round 1Round 2, or Round 3.

Who gets to move into the Governor’s Mansion in January? Will it be Democrat Jared Polis or Republican Walker Stapleton?

Who Will Be the Next Governor of Colorado?
Jared Polis
Walker Stapleton
View Result

Local Media Shreds RGA’s Latest BS Ad

A new-ish ad running from the Republican Governor’s Association (RGA) (above) attacks Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jared Polis for allegedly “not paying taxes” for a number of years, and stashing funds offshore in the tax haven of the Cayman Islands. Not paying one’s fair share of taxes is a common allegation made against wealthy political candidates on both sides, sometimes quite damagingly (see: Romney, Mitt).

But in Rep. Polis’ case, as the Denver Post’s editorial board did a surprisingly good job explaining yesterday, it’s a warmed-over hit job with no factual basis:

The television ad makes it sound like Polis has used clever accounting tricks, specifically off-shore accounts that shelter money from the IRS, to avoid paying federal income taxes.

The Denver Post’s reporters have never found evidence of such behavior in Polis’ lengthy financial disclosures required by Congress or in the tax documents he voluntarily disclosed when he ran for Congress in 2008. [Pols emphasis]

The Denver Post’s Jon Murray reported that in the four years spanning 2001 to 2005, Polis reported “a net loss of income.” Murray noted that in other years “Polis paid more than $18.4 million in income taxes on more than $120 million in adjusted gross income.”

As for the ad’s juicy claim that Polis stashed money in the Cayman Islands? The Colorado Springs Gazette’s Ernest Luning joins in the debunking:

As for any “offshore accounts to avoid paying taxes,” a Polis campaign spokeswoman pointed to reporting from 2008, when Polis acknowledged holdings in a company that also maintained a fund in the Cayman Islands for international investors, but said he never had any money in the Cayman fund.

During his run for Congress in 2008, Rep. Polis disclosed all of these financial details–documenting the growth of his personal fortune as well as the years in which he didn’t owe taxes due to investment losses. There was heavy scrutiny of those disclosures by Polis’ opponents in that race, and news reports that validated Polis’ version of all these uncontroversial events.

There’s been tremendous turnover in local media in the ten years between Polis’ run for Congress and his bid for governor, but the RGA made a big mistake in assuming nobody would remember that these details in Polis’ financial history had all been disclosed and questions resolved back in 2008. It’s another case of political operatives knowing an allegation is false, making it anyway, and counting on the new allegation getting more attention than the debunking. Call it “post-truth” politics, which have become the norm in the era of Cory Gardner and Donald Trump.

What we’re seeing here, much like the local media’s revolt against Walker Stapleton’s false ads in the primary or a similar case in 2016 where false and racist attacks against now-Sen. Rachel Zenzinger were audaciously recycled by Republicans–not to mention yesterday’s bizarre “black is white” botched attack on Democratic AG candidate Phil Weiser–is the knowing deception becoming too brazen for even the most complaisant voices to tolerate.

At long last, “post-truth” politics appears to be backfiring in Colorado. That’s a welcome development.

Get More Smarter on Friday (September 7)

Take THAT, glass ceiling. 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.



► President Trump is flipping out over that anonymous Op-Ed published by the New York Times on Wednesday afternoon. On Friday Trump said that the Justice Department should try to identify the author because it is a national security concern, but as the Washington Post writes, “It is unclear what law he believes was broken.”

Meanwhile, the New York Times reports that the White House has identified 12 potential suspects who might have authored the Op-Ed.

Who do you think is the author of the infamous Op-Ed? Cast your vote in our poll.


► Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman is suing Purdue Pharma L.P. over the company’s marketing and distribution of the dangerous painkiller Oxycontin. This will be a big issue in the race to succeed Coffman in November; Republican candidate George Brauchler has been reluctant to say much about the opioid epidemic because his campaign is heavily-funded by the pharmaceutical industry.


► Hey, look: Tom Tancredo’s support of Republican gubernatorial candidate Walker Stapleton is becoming more problematic by the day. It turns out that making racist public comments isn’t very helpful for Stapleton. Whodathunkit?


Get even more smarter after the jump…


Get More Smarter on Thursday (September 6)

Do you know what happened on this day in history? Not much, apparently. 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.



► President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh is in his third day of Senate hearings, and things in Washington D.C. are getting pretty heated. Kavanaugh has generally refused to offer answers on consequential questions: he won’t say whether he believes the President is obligated to respond to a subpoena or could be legally indicted for a crime; he won’t divulge his opinion on Roe v. Wade; and he won’t say how he might deal with the question of pre-existing conditions as it relates to the Affordable Care Act (the Washington Post has a detailed list of important questions Kavanaugh is dodging).

Today’s hearings took a new turn when Democrats — led by New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker — started to push back on the lack of available information on Kavanaugh. From Politico:

Democrats have fumed for weeks over the withholding of hundreds of thousands of pages of documents from Kavanaugh’s years in the George W. Bush White House, including a massive tranche of records that lawyers working for Bush had limited only to Judiciary Committee senators. That secrecy collapsed in dramatic fashion Thursday as Democratic senators vowed to begin releasing records they said were unfairly shrouded and highly relevant to the confirmation.

One of those confidential documents, obtained by POLITICO, shows Kavanaugh leaving the door open to the high court overturning Roe v. Wade. “I am not sure that all legal scholars refer to Roe as the settled law of the land at the Supreme Court level since [the] Court can always overrule its precedent, and three current Justices on the Court would do so,” President Donald Trump’s nominee wrote in 2003.

That characterization is a distinct contrast with the more measured view of Roe as precedent that Kavanaugh offered on Wednesday. But the day before the document leaked, Kavanaugh was asked on about the exact sentiment he shared back in 2003 and portrayed it as merely a restatement of legal scholars’ opinion, “different from … my position as a judge.”

Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin and Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) are publicly backing up Booker’s decision to release the documents in question.


► President Trump is in full “witch hunt” mode as the White House struggles to contain damning information indicating that Trump is not in contact with all of his marbles. The New York Times on Wednesday afternoon published an anonymous Op-Ed reportedly written by a “senior official in the Trump administration” that reveals an internal “resistance” working diligently to try to prevent Trump from destroying us all. Trump is characterizing the anonymous Op-Ed as “treason” and is reportedly stalking the White House looking for scalps.

As Aaron Blake writes for the Washington Post, it’s hard to argue that we are NOT dealing with a serious threat to Democracy. Stephen Collinson of CNN believes we have crossed a new threshold with Trump:

It’s impossible to know in the moment when a presidency begins to dissolve. But after a devastating 48 hours, it’s already clear that Donald Trump’s will never be the same. [Pols emphasis]

Whatever your view of Trump, his behavior and his presidency, Washington is watching the opening act of a stunning attempt to topple the elected leader of the nation.
Damaging twin portraits of the President in a New York Times op-ed and Bob Woodward’s new book are using the words of current top officials to fracture the mythology of vanity and bombast, conmanship and intimidation of Trump’s personality cult.

In an attack from an enemy within, top officials who see Trump up close, including one calling the band of renegades the “resistance,” are finally daring to say — albeit under Washington’s invisibility cloak of anonymity — what outside critics have long believed.

They warn the President of the United States is not only unfit to be the most powerful man in the world, but is a venal mix of ignorance and ego, pettiness, malignancy and recklessness that is putting the republic and the world itself at risk.

The most popular parlor game in Washington D.C. is trying to figure out the identity of the anonymous Op-Ed author (Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo say they didn’t do it). As Politico reports, this is just the beginning.


President Trump is touting the support of…wait, what?


Get even more smarter after the jump…


Get More Smarter on Wednesday (September 5)

At the very least, we promise not to make you any dumber. 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.



► The Washington Post has the latest on Senate confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh:

In his first morning fielding questions from members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Kavanaugh refused to answer an inquiry about whether a president must respond to a subpoena, an issue that could come before the Supreme Court in special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election.

“I can’t give you an answer on that hypothetical question,” he told Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.)

Feinstein had asked Kavanaugh about his views on investigations involving a sitting president. In the 1990s, Kavanaugh was a member of independent counsel Kenneth Starr’s team investigating President Bill Clinton, and took a hard line on questioning the president about what he called lies and “revolting behavior” involving intern Monica Lewinsky.

As James Hohmann writes for the Washington Post, Kavanaugh’s first day of hearings on Tuesday demonstrated the “institutional decline” of the U.S. Senate.

► Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh made other disconcerting headlines on Tuesday when he apparently refused to shake the hand of the father of a student killed in the Parkland High School shooting in Florida.

► The latest fundraising numbers for Colorado legislative races are now available, and the news is not good for Senate Republicans.


► The League of Conservation Voters is spending big bucks on a new ad targeting Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Aurora) over his poor record on environmental issues. As Ernest Luning writes for the publication formerly known as the Colorado Statesman:

LCV Victory Fund, the political arm of the League of Conservation Voters, plans to spend $663,000 on the 30-second ad, which all but accuses Coffman of causing “cancer, asthma, and heart and lung disease” by voting to let donors “spew dangerous toxins” into the air and water. As ominous music plays over grainy images of belching smokestacks, the ad also ties Coffman to President Donald Trump, dubbed “the worst polluter of all.”

The ad — LCV’s first in a House race this cycle — is slated to run for two weeks on broadcast and cable channels, the group said.

Coffman campaign spokesperson Tyler Sandberg tried to point to one of Coffman’s regular fence-sitting positions on the environment, but that argument against the LCV ad didn’t work out:

While Sandberg listed Coffman’s vote last month against a Republican-sponsored amendment to gut the EPA’s rules on methane emissions as an example of bucking his party to side with the environment, Roberts dismissed the argument, pointing to a Coffman vote in favor of the same amendment a year ago.


Get even more smarter after the jump…


Who Will Be Colorado’s Next Governor? (Round 3)

Jared Polis (left) and Walker Stapleton

Normally we would post this poll on Monday, but the Labor Day weekend means that we’re moving our regular query one day later. Otherwise, the rules of this game are simple: Tell us who you THINK is going to win the race for Governor.

Remember, we’re looking for your best educated guess on the outcome of this race, not who you support or who you would prefer to see emerge victorious. The point of this exercise is to track how perceptions of the race are (or are not) changing as Election Day nears. For previous results, click Round 1 or Round 2.

Who gets to move into the Governor’s Mansion in January? Will it be Democrat Jared Polis or Republican Walker Stapleton?

Who Will Be the Next Governor of Colorado?
Jared Polis
Walker Stapleton
View Result

Get More Smarter on Wednesday (August 29)

There is a ridiculous amount of political news to discuss today. Ridiculous! 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.



► The body of former Arizona Sen. John McCain will lie in state at the Arizona Capitol building today before being flown to Washington D.C. for a similar honor in the U.S. Capitol building.


► Voters in Arizona and Florida made their selections in Tuesday’s Primary Election. The Washington Post breaks down the winners and losers, but the biggest story is probably in Florida, where Democrat Andrew Gillum pulled off a big upset and could now become Florida’s first black Governor. Also worth noting: Arizona will elect a woman to the U.S. Senate for the first time in 2018.


Aaron Blake of the Washington Post writes that failed Arizona Republican Senate candidate Kelly Ward is one of the worst candidates in recent memory. Colorado Republican gubernatorial candidate Walker Stapleton can make a strong argument himself.

Seriously, just watch this interview.


► White House Counsel Don McGahn will leave his post his fall, as the Washington Post reports:

“White House Counsel Don McGahn will be leaving his position in the fall, shortly after the confirmation (hopefully) of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the United States Supreme Court,” Trump wrote on Twitter. “I have worked with Don for a long time and truly appreciate his service!”

The exit of McGahn — a low-key, 50-year-old lawyer who has been a presence at Trump’s side since the early days of the 2016 presidential campaign — comes at a fragile moment inside the White House amid escalating tensions between the president and the Department of Justice in recent weeks…

…Many Republicans on Capitol Hill, who see McGahn as a stable force and accessible official, were stunned and dismayed by Trump’s announcement.

“Stunned” might be the wrong word to use here. After all, McGahn has apparently talked extensively with special prosecutor Robert Mueller’s investigation into potential collusion between Trump and the Russians. Nevertheless, McGahn’s departure is a very big deal.

Get even more smarter after the jump…


Good God! Walker Stapleton is a Terrible Candidate

Walker Stapleton, pretty much all the time.

We talk a lot about Republican gubernatorial candidate Walker Stapleton in this space. In fact, Stapleton was the subject of our first blog post today after his flabbergastingly-disastrous interview with CBS4 last night. It makes perfect sense that we would regularly discuss the GOP nominee for the top job in Colorado — after all, this is a website dedicated to Colorado political news and analysis — but with such consistent commentary it can be difficult to fully express the stupendous ineptitude of the man Republicans hope to elevate to the Governor’s office in November.

Colorado has had some bad statewide candidates in recent years, from Bob Beauprez in 2006 (with honorable mention for 2014) and Dan Maes in 2010 to Jon Keyser and Darryl Glenn in 2016. We’ll wait until after the November election to rank Stapleton in the pantheon of ridiculous Republicans, but we wouldn’t be doing our jobs if we didn’t make sure that Colorado Pols readers fully understood the history unfolding before us this fall:

We are all witness to a uniquely-awful candidate running an absolutely brutal campaign…and we still have two more months to go until Election Day.  

Lest you attempt to argue with our point, take a look at today’s story from Patty Calhoun in WestwordThis is the first paragraph of Calhoun’s story:

Walker Stapleton looked at me the way a bull calf must regard a castration knife. “I can’t talk to you,” he said, turning on his heel as I extended my hand and introduced myself. “I don’t do extemporaneous interviews. It doesn’t work out for me. Talk to my people.” [Pols emphasis]

“I can’t talk to you,” says Stapleton.

“I don’t do extemporaneous interviews,” says Stapleton.

“I think they have a new strategy: Hide and seek.”

— Tom Tancredo on Walker Stapleton’s campaign for Governor

This is THE REPUBLICAN CANDIDATE FOR GOVERNOR OF COLORADO candidly explaining to a journalist that “it doesn’t work out for me” to respond to questions with unrehearsed answers. In fairness, Stapleton is not wrong here — he really is a walking, talking dumpster fire when asked to say anything to anyone — but, just…WTF???

As Calhoun explains later in her story, she was merely trying to introduce herself to Stapleton in hopes that Westword might be able to get a sit down interview with THE REPUBLICAN CANDIDATE FOR GOVERNOR OF COLORADO (we should also point out here that Calhoun is not merely a reporter for Westword — she is also the freaking publisher). Stapleton’s campaign is notoriously media-shy — again, not for nothing — but this is very odd:

…others who witnessed our brief encounter had plenty to say. “In forty years in politics, I’ve never seen anything like that,” said one insider, who’s handled plenty of uncomfortable inquiries from reporters during that time.

“Isn’t he running for governor of Colorado?” asked another. “Won’t he have to talk to the press sometime?”

If recent history is any guide, we won’t have to wait long for the next great Republican disaster of a candidate in our state, but Walker Stapleton is truly remarkable in his own way. It seems inconceivable that Stapleton might get elected as Colorado’s next Governor (but of course, Donald Trump), so we encourage all Coloradans to fully appreciate this spectacle while you have the opportunity.

In other words, embrace the suck.

Who Will Be Colorado’s Next Governor? (Round 2)

Jared Polis (left) and Walker Stapleton

It’s time again for our regular Colorado Pols reader poll of the Governor’s race.

Remember: We want to know who you think will be the winner in this race, not who you support or who you would prefer to see emerge victorious. The point of this exercise is to track how perceptions of the race are (or are not) changing as Election Day nears.

Who gets to move into the Governor’s Mansion in January? Will it be Democrat Jared Polis or Republican Walker Stapleton?

Who Will Be the Next Governor of Colorado?
Jared Polis
Walker Stapleton
View Result

Radio Host Says “Gay Mafia” Is One Of Polis’ Weapons

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Why do some conservatives think it’s okay to say Colorado’s Democratic candidate for governor, Jared Polis, has the support of the “gay mafia?”

KNUS radio host Chuck Bonniwell, who also owns of the Cherry Creek/Gendale Chronicle, told me in a free-wheeling and respectful conversation Friday that Polis has the support of the “gay mafia.”

“Did you say gay mafia?” I interrupted.

“Well, they work hard,” replied Bonniwell.

I told him I had to write a blog post about the slur.

“Oh no, not the gay mafia. You can’t say that” said Bonniwell, who one analyst described as the “id of Colorado’s Republican Party.”

“What is the gay mafia?” I asked.

“It’s just a lot of guys I know and am friends with who work incredibly hard for Jared Polis,” answered Bonniwell. “And they man these offices. And they do a great job on his behalf. I call them the mafia because they work so hard.”

“Would you ever say the ‘Jewish mafia,'” I asked Bonniwell.

“Oh god, yes, I grew up with the Jewish mafia all around me.”

I take Bonniwell at his word but Polis is also Jewish and I didn’t hear Bonniwell–or any other conservative pundit–say Plid is part of the Jewish mafia or any other mafia.

In July, KCOL guest host Karen Kataline said she was “pretty sure” Polis was part of the “gay mafia,” and she worried on air that the Republicans’ timid treatment of Polis being gay will make it harder to defeat Polis.

“I knew it. You’re criticizing the Italians,” Bonniwell joked when I continued to object to his saying “gay mafia.”

“There are wonderful Italian people here in Colorado, and you shouldn’t put them down.” said Bonniwell, concluding with, “Why don’t you like Italians?”

(Listen here: Aug. 24 at 33:15)

Get More Smarter on Tuesday (August 21)

If you are mean to President Trump, you’re going to lose your security clearance. Trump isn’t even pretending otherwise. 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.



► As the Washington Post reports, Russian hacking attempts are picking up ahead of the 2018 election:

A group affiliated with the Russian government created phony versions of six websites — including some related to public policy and to the U.S. Senate — with the apparent goal of hacking into the computers of people who were tricked into visiting, according to Microsoft, which said Monday night that it discovered and disabled the fake sites.

The effort by the notorious APT28 hacking group, which has been publicly linked to a Russian intelligence agency and actively interfered in the 2016 presidential election, underscores the aggressive role that Russian operatives are playing ahead of the midterm elections in the United States. U.S. officials have repeatedly warned that the November vote is a major focus for interference efforts. Microsoft said the sites were created over the past several months and that the company was able to catch them early, as they were being set up. It did not go into more specifics.

On Monday, Trump talked with Reuters about his concerns with the investigation into potential collusion between his campaign and the Russian government, suggesting that special counsel Robert Mueller might come down hard on him because he is friends with former FBI Director James Comey. Trump also questioned the assessment of U.S. intelligence officials that Russia interfered in the 2016 election:

“So if I say something and he (Comey) says something, and it’s my word against his, and he’s best friends with Mueller, so Mueller might say: ‘Well, I believe Comey,’ and even if I’m telling the truth, that makes me a liar. That’s no good.”…

…He again neglected to blame Russia for interfering in the 2016 election, a conclusion reached by the U.S. intelligence community.

The probe, he said, “played right into the Russians – if it was Russia – they played right into the Russians’ hands.” [Pols emphasis]

“If it was Russia.”

For more news related to Trump and Russia, check out “The Daily D’oh.”


President Trump is apparently pretty unnerved about the 30+ hours of interviews between White House Attorney Don McGahn and Robert Mueller’s team of special prosecutors. From CNN:

White House counsel Don McGahn’s 30 hours of conversations with special counsel Robert Mueller’s team have unnerved President Donald Trump, who didn’t know the full extent of McGahn’s discussions, two people familiar with his thinking said…

…The President was unsettled by the notion that he didn’t know everything McGahn said to the special counsel during their interviews, the sources said. And while he had approved the cooperation, Trump did not know the conversations stretched for 30 hours or that his legal team didn’t conduct a full debriefing with McGahn after the fact.

Trump remained agitated for the rest of the weekend, the people said, believing the revelation made him look weak.

‘Tis better to be thought crazy than weak — it’s not exactly Machiavellian.


Via the New York Times, Aug. 21, 2018

► The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is rolling back Obama-era restrictions on coal emissions. As the New York Times reports, the Trump administration acknowledges that the move will probably kill some people:

The Trump administration on Tuesday made public the details of its new pollution rules governing coal-burning power plants, and the fine print includes an acknowledgment that the plan would increase carbon emissions and lead to up to 1,400 premature deaths annually.

The proposal, the Affordable Clean Energy rule, is a replacement for the Obama-era Clean Power Plan, which was an aggressive effort to speed up the closures of coal-burning plants, one of the main producers of greenhouse gases, by setting national targets for cutting carbon dioxide emissions and encouraging utilities to use cleaner energy sources like wind and solar.

The new proposal, issued by the Environmental Protection Agency, instead seeks to make minor on-site efficiency improvements at individual plants and would also let states relax pollution rules for power plants that need upgrades, keeping them active longer.

In other environment-related news, Coloradans are speaking out in hopes that Congress will renew funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF).


Get even more smarter after the jump…


Who Will Be Colorado’s Next Governor?

Jared Polis (left) and Walker Stapleton

Election Day is now just 11 weeks away, so it’s time to start asking you — our loyal readers — the big questions for 2018.

As always, we want to know who you think will be the winner in this race — not who you support or who you would prefer to see emerge victorious. Cast your vote below.

Who gets to move into the Governor’s Mansion in January? Will it be Democrat Jared Polis or Republican Walker Stapleton?

Who Will Be the Next Governor of Colorado?
Jared Polis
Walker Stapleton
View Result


Post Finds Its Voice To Call Out RGA’s Immigrant Baiting

Walker Stapleton.

After the sudden departure of the former Denver Post editorial board editor Chuck Plunkett earlier this year, the opinion section of the Post was without its institutional voice for several months. The Post resumed publication of editorials a few weeks later after new editor Megan Schrader, ex-Colorado Springs Gazette reporter, returned from leave. The first few offerings from the new Denver Post editorial board were not very satisfying, with a particularly insipid defense of Cory Gardner in mid-July that made eyes roll.

But today, the editorial board weighs in strongly in condemnation of the Republican Governors Association’s recent attacks on Democratic gubernatorial nominee Jared Polis, making incendiary claims about Polis’ stand on immigration:

Groups like the RGA and Better Colorado Now, are going to try to make this election for Colorado governor about immigration. We hope Colorado voters don’t take the bait. This race should be focused on the important issues that a governor can actually control like education and transportation and what this state should do with a windfall of cash…

Oddly the door hanger also says Polis “even wants to give in-state tuition to illegal immigrants.” Of course he does. It was good public policy with bi-partisan support when Colorado lawmakers voted in 2013 to allow recent graduates of Colorado high schools to attend state colleges with in-state tuition regardless of their legal status.

…It should make all Colorado voters, regardless of how they feel about immigration and Trump, a bit nauseated that the RGA and Better Colorado Now are using this wedge issue with such dishonesty. [Pols emphasis]

The editorial notes correctly that Walker Stapleton personally raised funds for Better Colorado Now before he formally launched his campaign–which made a farce of the idea of an “independent expenditure committee,” and most certainly makes it fair game to hold Stapleton responsible for the group’s communications now. This was one of the original examples of Stapleton’s fumbling of the most basic principles of a modern campaign–and we expect it won’t be the last time it comes back to haunt him.

For all the consternation over the Post’s milquetoast or even mercenary opinions through the years, with the seminal example remaining the paper’s credibility-straining endorsement of Cory Gardner in 2014, we’re glad to see them drawing a bright line against the factually-challenged attacks on immigrants that have become even more routine in the Donald Trump era than they were before. Newspapers no longer have the commanding audience to serve as a binding moral authority, if they ever did.

But today’s politics need all the moral checks and balances we can get. More like this please.

Get More Smarter on Wednesday (August 15)

A man, a plan, a canal, Panama (the Panama Canal opened on this day in 1914). 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.



► Another big Primary Election is in the books. The Washington Post breaks down the winners and losers from Tuesday’s elections in Connecticut, Minnesota, Vermont, and Wisconsin, including some historical firsts:

For the first time, voters of a major party nominated an openly transgender woman for governor. Christine Hallquist won the Democratic nomination for governor in Vermont (though she’ll have to work hard to actually make that race against Gov. Phil Scott (R) competitive). In Connecticut, Democrat Jahana Hayes won her primary for Congress and is set to become the first black woman to represent New England in the House. In Minnesota, Democrat Ilhan Omar is one of two candidates who won primaries in the past two weeks vying to become the first Muslim woman elected to Congress.

Perhaps the most notable individual result was in Minnesota, where former two-term Gov. Tim Pawlenty was soundly rejected by Republican Primary voters. From the Associated Press:

Republicans needed only the governorship to take full control of state government in Minnesota, a traditionally left-leaning state that had become a lone outpost of divided government in the conservative Upper Midwest. Big donors saw Pawlenty as the man to do it.

Johnson had been viewed as a longshot given Pawlenty’s unparalleled name recognition and the money that quickly flowed to his campaign when he announced his campaign in early April. Pawlenty was the last Republican to win statewide in Minnesota with his 2006 victory for a second term.

But voters were unwilling to coronate Pawlenty, who didn’t bother challenging Johnson at the state party convention. His loss effectively ends a political career that peaked with two terms as governor and a short-lived 2012 presidential bid.

As the right-wing Washington Examiner writes, there is no place for the likes of Pawlenty in the current Republican Party.


► Kansas Gov. Jeff Colyer conceded the Republican Primary to Secretary of State Kris Kobach on Tuesday. Kobach won a narrow race after being endorsed by President Trump, but his victory could put the Governor’s race up for grabs as a result. Kobach is a Trumpian favorite but a train-wreck in general.


According to a new poll from CNN, Democrats have a 52-41 advantage in the latest survey on the national generic congressional ballot. The CNN poll also shows that health care is the top issue for most voters heading into November.


► The Colorado Springs Gazette published one of the dumbest editorials you will ever read on Tuesday. The editorial in question was edited throughout the day as Colorado journalists mocked its stupidity; it was later inexplicably defended by Gazette Editorial Page Editor Wayne Laugesen.


Get even more smarter after the jump…