A Few Words About Polis Education Transition Heartburn

Bob Schaffer.

Gov.-elect Jared Polis is grappling with the first real controversy he’s encountered since his double-digit victory earlier this month, with a less-then-enthusiastic response to certain members of his “transition team.” As John Frank at the Colorado Sun reported last week:

The team includes prominent Democrats, such as former Gov. Bill Ritter, Lt. Gov. Donna Lynne, former Colorado State University President Al Yates, former Democratic Party Chairman Rick Palacio and two former Democratic House speakers, Crisanta Duran and Andrew Romanoff. The Keystone Center will facilitate the effort.

But Polis touted his transition effort as a bipartisan affair and pointed to one prominent Republican on the team, former U.S. Rep. Bob Schaffer, a charter school leader who is a member of the education effort. Schaffer served in a similar role for Gov. John Hickenlooper in 2010, a move that drew scorn from liberals for his controversial stances in the past.

Marianne Goodland of the Colorado Springs Gazette elaborated further on the education team, which has justifiably rankled public school supporters:

The Polis education team — one of seven teams whose members were announced Friday — includes Jen Walmer, director of Democrats for Education Reform (DFER), a political group that advocates for charter schools. Some education-policy liberals accuse the group of seeking to restrict teacher unions.

Another is former U.S. Rep. Bob Schaffer, a Republican advocate for taxpayer-funded vouchers for private schools and formerly a member of the state board of education.

Schaffer also is chairman of the board of the Leadership Program of the Rockies (LPR) a Republican-leaning organization that provides training on conservative principles and leadership. Its graduates include three of the former members of the Douglas County Board of Education who approved a controversial private-school voucher program in 2011. Schaffer advocated for the state board of education to endorse the voucher program.
The Dougco program led to lawsuits, including a trip all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. It was dismantled last year after voters elected an anti-voucher school board.

Bob Schaffer, the failed 2008 GOP U.S. Senate turned headmaster of a politically conservative charter high school in Fort Collins, is not the only member of Polis’ education team drawing criticism. There’s also Mike Johnston, who lost to Polis in the Democratic primary largely due to his authorship of a much-reviled “teacher effectiveness” bill that since passage in 2010 has contributed directly to a shortage of teachers in Colorado with no discernible impact on student performance. For the large number of Democratic voters who think supporting public schools is predicate to “reforming” them, these people are more than bad choices: they’re the bad actors in public education base Democrats thought they were voting against. We said the same thing when John Hickenlooper appointed Schaffer to his education transition team, and it’s no less true today.

Since 2010, however, the landscape of education politics in Colorado has significantly changed. The Douglas County religious school voucher program was stymied in court and then soundly rejected by Douglas County voters who threw out the conservative board. The conservative education “reform” movement hit its zenith in 2013 after a slate of far-right school board members took power in Jefferson County, only to be overwhelmingly recalled from office two years later. Johnston’s rejection by Democratic primary voters despite massive infusions of cash from out-of-state education “reform” interests further underscores where the power has shifted on education in the last decade.

In 2004, Polis founded the New America School charter high schools with the specific purpose of “empowering new immigrants, English language learners, and academically underserved students.” Far from the predatory cherry-picking suburban charter schools (rightly) vilified by neighborhood school supporters, NAS is an example of a niche need charter schools can gainfully fill under the right circumstances. Will that experience manifest as a blind spot for Polis with regard to charter schools that aren’t so well-intentioned? That remains to be seen. But this is a charter school doing more good than harm.

With all of this in mind, and especially with Democratic majorities in both chambers of the legislature, the potential harm from appointing Schaffer and “ed reform” Democrats to Polis’ transition team is self-limiting–more so than when Hickenlooper appointed Schaffer to the same committee eight years ago. Polis himself takes pride in engaging with all sides, including those he has little to nothing in common with. The best response is for public education supporters to be loud in their opposition, and back that up with a strong presence in the legislature next year to ensure their policy goals are upheld.

And be assured, Colorado’s public schools are in better hands than the alternative.

Jared Polis Will Win Governor’s Race by Double Digits

We don’t yet know the final vote tally from the 2018 election in Colorado, but the numbers continue to grow for Democrats. Check out these totals as of 4:00 pm on Monday (Nov. 12):

The race for Governor was called in favor of Democrat Jared Polis early on Election Night, but Polis’ margin of victory over Republican Walker Stapleton has only risen as more ballots are counted. Also worth noting: Stapleton received the fewest total votes of any of the four major statewide Republican candidates.

And for the record, we called this outcome in our pre-election forecast:

A double-digit Polis win is now a real possibility.

These vote totals should also scare the crap out of Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma), who is up for re-election in 2020. Gardner defeated Democrat Mark Udall by less than two points in 2014 with a total vote count of 965,974. In 2018, the Republican candidate for Governor received nearly 100,000 more votes than Gardner’s 2014 total…and will still end up losing to a Democrat by more than 10 points.

We Told You So (Apparently)

dealinwalkerfinA Colorado Pols reader reminded us over the weekend that we had long ago predicted that Republican Walker Stapleton would not be the next Governor of Colorado.

We had honestly forgotten about this, but everything that we wrote in this May 2015 post — “Walker Stapleton Shows (Again) Why He’ll Never Make it to Higher Office” — held up pretty well in 2018. For example:

Walker Stapleton [is] Colorado’s “gold standard” when it comes to the stereotypical, fast-talking, bullshitting politician. Stapleton has made such a caricature of himself over the last couple of years that it he hardly seems real. Surely, you think, nobody can truly be this transparently smarmy and exist as an actual human politician…or can he?

The State Treasurer doesn’t traditionally generally get a lot of press in Colorado, and Stapleton has been no exception to the norm. But when Stapleton’s name does end up in the news, the odds are pretty good that it’s because he did something stupid. Stapleton is good at stupid.

When we wrote about Stapleton in May 2015, it was in relation to his bizarre attempt to claim that he had opposed a controversial PERA-related bill — nevermind that he wrote a letter in support of the legislation and even testified in favor of HB-1388. We marveled at the fact that Republicans were looking at Stapleton as a contender for higher office in the future despite his obvious shortcomings:

Stapleton is pretty good at fundraising, largely because of his family connections (he’s directly related to the Bush family), but he’s otherwise a complete political dunce who frequently stumbles into obvious potholes. Stapleton was re-elected as State Treasurer in 2014, but it was an unexpectedly close race due entirely to his own idiocy; when an open records request revealed that Stapleton rarely bothered to show up at his office, he made ridiculous excuses and then wouldn’t stop talking about it.

We wrote after the November election that Stapleton’s panicky errors and laughable TV ads should remove his name from future discussion about higher office; since then, Stapleton has done nothing to prove us wrong. Democrats can only hope that Stapleton is someday the Republican nominee for Governor or Senate. [Pols emphasis]

Walker Stapleton was always the candidate that Democrats hoped they would face in November 2018. As the Republican candidate for Governor, Stapleton was exactly who we thought he would be.

What’s Your Favorite Blue Wave Win?

This week’s historic victory for Colorado Democrats leaves in its wake innumerable stories of hard work and triumph. There are so many big markers for the history books, like the first gay man elected governor of any state, the sweep of downballot statewide offices, recapturing the Colorado Senate after four years at the mercy of a one-seat GOP majority, the come-from-behind wins growing the Democratic House majority to unexpected heights, major Democratic wins in suburban Denver local governments–we could go on and on, and over the next few weeks we’ll be expounding at length on what this all means.

Use this thread to tell us about the 2018 success stories you were close to, or enjoyed reading about, or anything else you found inspiring coming out of the midterm elections in our state. Before the inevitable plunge back into partisan squabbles and pundit second-guessing, take a moment to contemplate significance of what we’ve just been through.

You earned this moment, Colorado.

Get More Smarter: The Big Predictions Thread

With the 2018 elections wrapping up today, here’s our master list of official predictions on the outcome in Colorado. If you’re looking for national predictions, we suggest FiveThirtyEight or your choice of outlets focused on the national map. For the next 24 hours, we’re focused exclusively on the home front.

With that in mind, please refer to this list as you roast your hosts on Wednesday for everything we get wrong:

Governor: Jared Polis will handily win the race for governor. Our previous forecasts had held the prediction of Polis’ win margin below 10% citing a number of factors, but over the past few weeks the climate has only improved for Democrats in Colorado and ballot returns echo this growing confidence. A double-digit Polis win is now a real possibility.

CD-6: After years of trying, Democrats harpoon the proverbial white whale and bring incumbent GOP Rep. Mike Coffman down. Coffman’s ticket-splitting survival strategy of triangulation off his own party was confounded by Donald Trump’s election, and he has been unable to maintain the illusory separation from the GOP brand that kept him in office in a district unsupportive of conservative Republican politics.

CD-3: Despite a spirited campaign by state Rep. Diane Mitsch Bush, recent polling and anecdotes from the field suggest that incumbent GOP Rep. Scott Tipton will retain his seat and thus serve as the Republican Party’s firewall in Colorado for 2018. This race is a good barometer of the size of a potential “Blue Wave” nationally; if Tipton loses, that means Democrats are wiping out Republicans everywhere.

Colorado House: Democrats are poised to gain seats in the chamber they already control by a comfortable margin.

Colorado Senate: Republicans have poured at least $10 million into preserving their single-seat majority in the Colorado Senate, the only locus of Republican veto power in Colorado state government. Control over the chamber appears to be focusing on the SD-24 race between Republican Beth Martinez Humenik and Faith Winter. This race, and with it control of the Senate, is an absolute toss-up, and we honestly have no idea which way it will fall.

Colorado Attorney General: Phil Weiser appears poised to win this race after an ugly but bumbling negative campaign waged by Republican George Brauchler. Historic frustration for Democrats in this race obliges contained enthusiasm, but this is the constitutional statewide office Democrats feel strongest about flipping (other than Governor, of course).

Colorado Treasurer: Republican Brian Watson’s prodigious baggage has been thoroughly aired in this campaign, combining with high Democratic turnout to inspire a measure of confidence in Democrat Dave Young. We give Young the slight edge.

Colorado Secretary of State: Colorado voters haven’t awarded the top four statewide offices to the same party in more than 20 years. Despite a checkered record as Secretary of State and late-breaking scandals that likely would have sunk his re-election bid had they come out earlier, Wayne Williams is the most likely Republican to win statewide in Colorado this year.

We expect this year’s “alphabet amendments,” Amendments V, W, X, Y, Z, and A to all pass handily, as will the payday loan rate cap Proposition 111Amendment 73, a measure to hike taxes on high-income earners for public education, may outperform previous similar measures that were handily defeated but is still unlikely to pass. Amendment 74, the highly controversial takings measure opposed by basically everyone except the oil and gas industry, is also likely to die–as is Proposition 112, a measure to substantially increase setbacks between new oil and gas drilling and surface development, leaving a status quo ante on the issue for the next governor.

Of the two transportation funding measures, Proposition 109 and Proposition 110, we’d say 109 is the more likely of the two to pass because it promises something for nothing to voters by borrowing money to fix roads (assuming legislators will find cuts in the state’s budget to pay for it). We’re concerned that the work to educate voters on the irresponsibility of 109 versus the responsible pay-fors of 110 has not been sufficient, though the overall confusion with two competing ballot measures could sink both options.

And there you have it, readers! We, like everybody on the ballot, await the judgement of history.

Winning, Losing: What It Looks Like

One of the prevalent narratives of the 2018 elections in Colorado is a tremendous gap in voter enthusiasm between Republicans on the defensive under Donald Trump’s widening cloud and Democrats surging to avenge themselves upon every candidate with an (R) after their name. This difference in enthusiasm is broadly evident in the final weekend of field campaigning before Tuesday’s election, with photographic evidence all over social media.

On the Saturday before Election Day in a race GOP incumbent Rep. Mike Coffman is expected by every responsible observer to lose, it would seem that friends are hard to come by. We count ten supporters in this picture, some of whom we assume are staff.

Coffman’s Democratic opponent Jason Crow…did a little better.

A similar story appears to be playing out in races all over the state. In the slate of key state senate races set to determine control of the chamber, big crowds of canvassers mobilized this morning for Faith Winter, Jessie Danielson, Tammy Story, Brittany Pettersen, and Kerry Donovan’s re-election on the Western Slope.

In the interest of fairness, here’s GOP gubernatorial nominee Walker Stapleton rallying a respectable number of party faithful in the conservative exurban bastion of Douglas County this morning:

But any Republican feeling reassured by this decent turnout in solidly Republican Douglas County is going to have to explain Democratic nominee Jared Polis’ substantially bigger crowd last night in the equally arch-conservative bastion of Colorado Springs. Here’s a campaign not conceding a single precinct:

The rule of winning statewide in Colorado is that you have to run up the score in your base regions of the state, but you can’t lose too badly in areas you’re destined to lose. El Paso County’s large number of Democratic and swingable votes can’t be overlooked simply because they don’t add up to a majority in El Paso County–and the Polis campaign clearly understands this.

All told, the photos tell a story consistent with the polling and analysis that all says Tuesday will be a very good night for Colorado Democrats up and down the ballot. There’s certainly no sign of complacency here on the part of Democrats, which would pose the biggest danger at this point of undercutting Tuesday’s results. This is a party mindful of the opportunity this election presents, and determined to close the deal.

If you have photos from campaign events, field operations, or anything else that helps document this unfolding moment in history, please share them in comments below.

This Is Not a Good Look for the Colorado Springs Gazette

Wayne and Dede Laugesen

The Washington Post has been conducting interviews with female voters in the suburbs of Atlanta and Denver, and today published a long story looking at how women are shaping the 2018 election. In what was probably an unintentional side-effect, the Post story also laid bare the right-wing leanings of the Colorado Springs Gazette.

Among the women included in the Post’s story is Dede Laugesen, the Republican political consultant and a former campaign operative with the Donald Trump for President campaign who is married to Wayne Laugesen, the Editorial Page Editor for the Colorado Springs Gazette newspaper. The Gazette is an unapologetically right-wing newspaper that has worked hard to carry water for Republicans in 2018, spinning for Mike Coffman and putting their thumb on the scale for Walker Stapleton. The Gazette is so far from the mainstream that it has even recently defended hate groups, but that wasn’t even their most ridiculous editorial; that honor goes to this stupendously dumb editorial in August that tried to defend Stapleton’s family history with the Ku Klux Klan by making a ridiculous argument that Jared Polis should also be dinged for white supremacist connections.

Political observers in Colorado know that the Gazette is a right-wing newspaper. That might not have been as obvious elsewhere, but it would be impossible to miss after reading about Dede Laugesen’s story in the Post:

In early 2015, Dede Laugesen attended the annual Conservative Political Action Conference with her husband in the Washington suburbs.

After Trump spoke, she walked to the press area in the back of the room, where her husband, the editorial page editor of the Colorado Springs Gazette, was sitting. “I said I think it’s Donald Trump,” Laugesen recalled. “He patted my shoulder and he said, ‘Oh honey, he’s not even going to run. . . . ’ And I said, ‘Well, that’s a shame, because I really think that he is the guy who could win.’ ”…

That right there should tell you plenty about the political leanings of the Editorial Page of the Colorado Springs Gazette, but we haven’t yet scratched the surface of this weirdness. Let’s keep reading:

…In the summer of 2016, she joined the Trump campaign, first as a volunteer and then as a member of the staff. On the day the “Access Hollywood” video was released, she was at the El Paso County Republican Party’s headquarters. “I remember taking a really deep breath, closing my computer, packing it up and walking out of the office without saying anything to anybody,” she said.

She prayed about it and pondered the salacious revelation and what it said about her candidate. She talked with her husband. “I found that my commitment to him was firm,” she said. [Pols emphasis] She reached that conclusion based on her faith, of “being a Catholic who is forgiving of sinners, recognizing that we all sinned and have things in our life that we’re not proud of.”

“And the Lord sayeth, thou shalt grab the woman by the pussy.”

— Nowhere in the Bible

Yes, friends, Dede Laugesen prayed about Donald Trump’s disgusting comments in the now-infamous “Access Hollywood Tape,” and the voice in her head replied, “Eh, whatever.”

You know, because Barack Obama. Back to the Washington Post:

Laugesen blames Obama for many of today’s political divisions. When President Barack Obama talked about change, she saw that as an effort to move the country “away from what we have been in the world, a constitutional republic, and moving us toward socialism.” Trump’s message, to make America great again, was a signal that he “wanted to return us to our roots and reaffirm the goodness that is America.”

She is skeptical about talk of a blue wave in November. She is puzzled by the polls that show so many women do not like the president. [Pols emphasis] “It’s hard for me,” she said. “I’ve always been one who gets along better with the guys than I do the girls. And maybe that’s why God made me mother to six boys. I like a guy who can speak his mind and get things done.”

And there you have it. Just remember this when the Gazette runs an editorial this weekend calling the Washington Post a “fake news source.”

Donald Trump Loves Him Some Walker Stapleton

And hilarity ensues…


This Tweet started out fine, but President Trump went off the rails with the “He is strong, smart, and has been successful at everything he has ever done” part. If you’ve ever wondered if Trump was well-acquainted with Walker Stapleton, you now have your answer (though they do have plenty in common).

Trump’s renewed endorsement might be a helpful message in a place like Mississippi or Nebraska. Or Russia. But here in Colorado, the only person more unpopular than Trump is Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma).

Coincidentally, Gardner is traveling with Stapleton today on the Republican GOTV circuit. Things are really going well for Stapleton.

Poll: Predict Polis’ Win Margin (Knock On Wood)

Jared Polis (left) and Walker Stapleton.

There a growing consensus now with just a few days of voting left in the 2018 elections that Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jared Polis will win his race. Polling in this race has been remarkably consistent showing an upper-single digit lead for Polis enduring throughout the season, and surviving all the frightful negatives thrown at him by Republican opponent Walker Stapleton. The likelihood of a Polis victory is further underscored by ballot returns showing serious underperformance for Republicans compared to the last midterm election in 2014.

With this in mind, we thought it appropriate to poll our users not just on who will win the race as we’ve been tracking weekly, but on what the margin of victory for Polis is likely to be. It’s a question with significant implications down the ballot, and without jinxing anything it does seem to be the more important question to ask as of now.

As with all of our highly unscientific user polls, all we ask is that you vote for what you honestly think will be the outcome–not your personal preference.

By what margin will Jared Polis win the gubernatorial race?
Less than 1%
Over 10%
Over 15%
Not sure/other (see comments)
Stapleton wins
View Result

Polis Maintains Lead in Latest Poll Numbers

Jared Polis (left) and Walker Stapleton.

Democrat Jared Polis has consistently polled ahead of Republican Walker Stapleton in the race for Governor, and two new polls indicate much of the same.

Republican-leaning outfit Magellan Strategies shows Polis with a 5-point lead over Stapleton. This is a slight change from a Magellan poll conducted two weeks ago, but the difference is well within the margin of error. Poll results from a consortium led by Democratic-leaning Keating Research and OnSight Public Affairs indicate that Polis is leading Stapleton by 8 points heading into the final days of the election.

As Jon Murray reports for the Denver Post, a closer look at the numbers show Polis well ahead in several important subgroups:

In both of the new polls, Polis notched double-digit leads over Stapleton among women, unaffiliated voters and voters in their 40s or younger. Notably, the Magellan poll reported more voters undecided overall (11 percent) than the Colorado Poll (4 percent)…

…David Flaherty [of Magellan Strategies] said Stapleton remains the clear underdog, given Polis’ consistent leads as well as mail ballot returns that, so far, show registered Democrats and unaffiliated voters outpacing their 2014 midterm turnout. Republicans, while leading slightly in returns through Tuesday, were underperforming significantly compared to the GOP wave election four years ago.

The latest ballot return numbers available this morning from the Colorado Secretary of State show a surge of returns from Unaffiliated voters and no indication that Republican turnout is on the uptick. More than 1 million Coloradans have now returned ballots.

The Keating/OnSight poll also tracked approval ratings for President Trump and Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma), both of whom will likely be on the ballot in 2020. Trump is viewed unfavorably by 59 percent of respondents, with only 39 percent expressing a positive opinion of the President. Gardner’s favorability rating remains upside-down, with 43 percent of respondents professing a negative view of the freshman Senator (compared to 42 percent showing approval). Perhaps more concerning for Gardner is that he is only viewed favorably by 71 percent of Republicans, compared to Trump’s 82 percent approval with the GOP base.

The Real Walker Stapleton Stands Back Up

Walker Stapleton.

Republican gubernatorial nominee Walker Stapleton penned an opinion piece for Fox News this week about his great big battle against “socialism” in Colorado. The entire column consists of 558 words of Trumpian talking points, but it does illustrate something of moderate interest…

This is the real Walker Stapleton.

It is difficult to find someone in Colorado who truly believes that Stapleton might defeat Democrat Jared Polis next Tuesday, so perhaps Stapleton now feels comfortable enough to return to his truest shade of red.

This is the Walker Stapleton who used to appear on Fox News to complain about legislative efforts to limit obscene bonuses for corporate executives. This is the Walker Stapleton who said these words on national television:

“The most alarming thing to me [is that] President Obama is now trying to take away tax loopholes for corporations.”

Walker Stapleton, fighting to protect corporate tax loopholes!

Like most things Stapleton, our favorite part about his Fox News opinion piece is the end:

While we are working tirelessly to defeat socialism in Colorado, it ultimately will be up to voters. It is my hope and prayer that voters across the country choose to let freedom ring and that Coloradans’ voices are heard from coast to coast.

You can imagine this closing paragraph going through several iterations:

While we are occasionally working to defeat socialism…

If it is after 3:00 in the afternoon, we are working to defeat socialism…

If it is not raining or snowing, we are working to defeat socialism…

Unless we fell asleep, we are working to defeat socialism…


Honestly, we could do this all day. We’ll let our readers take it from here.

Who Will Be Colorado’s Next Governor? (Round 8)

Jared Polis (left) and Walker Stapleton.

We’re one week away from the BIG poll. This is a question we’ve been posing to Colorado Pols readers for months: Who do 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, Round 3Round 4Round 5Round 6, or Round 7).

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

Reminder: Don’t Feed The Trolls

The Denver Post’s Anna Staver reports from yesterday’s Bernie Sanders GOTV rally at CU Boulder, where reportedly Republicans with cameras were everywhere hoping to catch some item of embarrassment value to Democrats, from the candidates down to the level of individual rallygoers:

A top staffer for Colorado gubernatorial candidate Jared Polis got into a confrontation with a right-wing activist at a Bernie Sanders campaign event Wednesday.

Jovanni Valle, aka “Jovi Val,” was asking two women at the University of Colorado rally why they support Polis and video-recording them with his smartphone. The recording, posted to Valle’s Facebook page, shows one of the women saying Polis is a feminist and Valle responding: “I thought assaulting a woman is not something a feminist would really do.”

For those who don’t know, Jovanni Valle is a well-known New York-based conservative “Youtube activist” whose specialty appears to be goading unsuspecting Democrats into saying and doing, and there’s no nice way to say this, stupid things on camera. At one point or another Valle was in fact assaulted “for wearing his MAGA hat,” making him a modest celebrity among the Breitbart-loving “alt-knight” set.

In this case, Mr. Valle was trolling for reactions to a widely-discredited smear campaign against Democratic candidate Jared Polis, springing a particularly incendiary version of the false story on people after they express their support for Polis. It’s all done for lowbrow shock value, and the fact that the accusation ranks among 2018’s most thoroughly debunked is obviously very irritating to Polis’ staff and supporters.

At that point, Mara Sheldon, Polis’ campaign communications manager, steps in to say his accusations about Polis aren’t true. The video picture goes dark briefly but a Denver Post photographer caught the moment as Sheldon grabbed for Valle’s phone.

But with that, this self-described internet “troll” gets exactly what he wants. Now the story isn’t about a right-wing usual suspect trolling co-eds with lurid slander against Polis, it’s about a Polis staffer “grabbing” for the guy’s phone! It is a more or less universal rule in tech-ubiquitous politics that you never intervene with a “tracker” or even in most cases a camera-equipped troll, because the resulting interaction is worse than whatever was being recorded before. And if you must confront someone, TV interview rules apply: hands at your side, calm and delivered straight at the camera.

Fortunately for Team Polis, this particular individual is enough of a known provocateur and the incident mild enough that the story won’t get any real traction. But it’s a useful lesson as the 2018 campaign heads down the home stretch. The only way to deal with this kind of thing, which is certainly not ever going away in modern politics, is to not give them the “gotcha” moment they came to your rally to film.

Get More Smarter on Wednesday (October 24)

The Denver Nuggets are a perfect 4-0 to start the regular season. 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.



► Voter Service and Polling Centers are now open. Head on over to GoVoteColorado.com for more information on voting centers, ballot drop-off locations, or for resources to check on the status of your mail ballot.


► White House officials are scrambling to put together some sort of half-assed tax proposal in order to back up President Trump’s nonsensical claims about asking Congress to approve a tax cut before the Nov. 6 election (which would be difficult since Congress isn’t in session anymore).

“In the service of whim” is how the Washington Post explains the day-to-day work of the Trump administration in this bizarre and frightening story about the work involved in inventing reality to soothe a crazy person:

The mystery tax cut is only the latest instance of the federal government scrambling to reverse-engineer policies to meet Trump’s sudden public promises — or to search for evidence buttressing his conspiracy theories and falsehoods.

The Pentagon leaped into action to both hold a military parade and launch a “Space Force” on the president’s whims. The Commerce Department moved to create a plan for auto tariffs after Trump angrily threatened to impose them. And just this week, Vice President Pence, the Department of Homeland Security and the White House all rushed to try to back up Trump’s unsupported claim that “unknown Middle Easterners” were part of a migrant caravan in Central America — only to have the president admit late Tuesday that there was no proof at all. [Pols emphasis]

“Virtually no one on the planet has the kind of power that a president of the United States has to scramble bureaucracies in the service of whim,” said Kathleen Hall Jamieson, director of the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania. “Whatever Donald Trump wakes up and thinks about, or whatever comes to mind in the middle of a speech, actually has the reality in that it is actionable in some odd sense.”


► In a related story, Politico reports that officials from the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Homeland Security had no advance warning of Trump’s “zero tolerance” immigration policy demands:

Trump administration officials had no plans in place to deal with more than 2,600 migrant children separated from their parents at the border because the Justice Department gave them no advance notice of its “zero tolerance” policy, according to government investigators.

The report, by the GAO, offers the most complete account yet of the Trump administration’s implementation of a decision to criminally prosecute all adults suspected of crossing the southwest border, which created such an outcry that President Donald Trump effectively reversed it three months later.

► Republican gubernatorial candidate Walker Stapleton, a guy who is notorious for not bothering to show up for his job as State Treasurer, says that Colorado “needs a Governor who shows up.”

The mind reels.


► The debates are finally coming to an end. Candidates for Governor participated in their final debate on Tuesday, as did the candidates for Congress in CO-6. Blair Miller of Denver7 breaks down the final verbal joust between Republican Walker Stapleton and Democrat Jared Polis9News fact-checks the answers from Tuesday’s debate between Republican Rep. Mike Coffman and Democrat Jason Crow.



Get even more smarter after the jump…


“We Need a Governor Who Shows Up,” Says Guy Who Doesn’t Show Up

Walker Stapleton

Republican State Treasurer Walker Stapleton probably won’t be Colorado’e next Governor, but when it comes to unintentional self parody, he’s locked down the top position in the state.

Stapleton and Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jared Polis participated in a candidate forum hosted by the Arvada Chamber of Commerce on Monday, in which Stapleton said this:

“We need a Governor who shows up.”

You can say a lot of things about Walker Stapleton, but you can’t ever accuse him of “showing up” on a regular basis. Stapleton is finishing up his second term as Colorado’s State Treasurer — which is a full-time, salaried position — and he hasn’t been spotted at his State Capitol office in months.

Literally months.

This is not new territory for Stapleton, who took criticism during his 2014 re-election campaign when keycard records showed that he only appeared at his office about 10 days per month — and usually only in the late afternoon. After Stapleton was re-elected in November 2014, he stopped using his keycard altogether, presumably so that it would be harder to document the fact that he doesn’t do his job.

Watch Stapleton essentially endorse Polis for Governor at about the 1:41 mark in the video below: