Why Are Republicans Speaking At The ‘Democrats For Life’ Conference?

(For the lulz, obviously – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Democrats for Life of America (DFLA) is holding its first conference this weekend in Denver, but speakers include no currently-elected Democratic politicians, and several speakers who have been identified as Republicans, Independents, or have no registered party affiliation.

The “I Want My Party Back” conference comes after a recent debate around whether the Democratic Party should make room for candidates who oppose abortion rights.

Some have argued that it’d behoove Democrats who are eager to regain support from Trump voters to field candidates who may not adhere to every single aspect of the party’s platform. But more progressive Democrats say the party’s so-called big tent isn’t big enough for those who would allow limitations on reproductive rights.

But within this debate, one key fact is often ignored: These days, pro-life Democrats are few and far between.

So it shouldn’t necessarily come as a surprise that DFLA, which has aimed to elect anti-choice Democrats since its inception in 1999, apparently struggled to find true-blue Democratic speakers for their upcoming conference.

The only Democratic politicians speaking are two former Congressmen — Bart Stupak of Michigan and Lincoln Davis of Tennesse, both of whom haven’t held office since 2011.

And many of the speakers aren’t Democrats at all, according to a voter database. Lauren Castillo, for example, is the National Church Relations Director for Students for Life of America, and she’s registered in Colorado as a Republican. Castillo didn’t respond to a request for comment and confirmation.

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Anti-Abortion Group: Top GOP Candidates for Governor are Dodging Abortion Questions

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Colorado Campaign for Life, a statewide anti-abortion group, says two leading Republican candidates for governor won’t answer specific questions about abortion.

The silence from the two candidates, State Treasurer Walker Stapleton and former state lawmaker Victor Mitchell, has led Colorado Campaign for Life to accuse them of being “squishy” on their alleged “pro-life” stand.

In a Facebook post this week, Colorado Campaign for Life asserted Stapleton and Mitchell “mouth Pro-life rhetoric in private” but won’t say whether they believe life begins at conception or whether they support a proposed law mandating women receive an ultrasound and the option of seeing it, prior to having an abortion.

A review of statements about abortion by Mitchell and Stapleton shows that they’ve both signaled their vague support for the anti-abortion cause, even though their campaign websites are silent on the subject.

The “Issues” section of Stapleton’s website, for example, lists “Sanctuary Cities, Retirement, Education, Energy and Land, Transportation, Second Amendment, and Jobs.” Nothing about abortion rights. In a Facebook interview last week, Stapleton said he’d defend the Colorado Constitution’s ban on state funding of abortion. And during a speech to state Republicans in April, he vowed to protect the “born and unborn,” according to the liberal blog ColoradoPols.

Stapleton did not return an email from the Colorado Times Recorder seeking details on his abortion positions.

Mitchell wrote on Facebook last year that Colorado Republicans “should nominate pro-life candidates,” but he reportedly also believes that Roe v. Wade is settled law–a view that’s considered more pro-choice. And he said he doesn’t support more restrictive abortion laws in Colorado, according to a questionnaire he filled out for the Colorado Independent. He contradicted this stance earlier this year when he said he wants to ban late-term abortions in Colorado. Mitchell did not return an email asking for an explanation of this stance.

Two other Republicans in the GOP primary race appear to have hard-line anti-abortion views.

“I believe that only God has the right to take a life, whether in the womb, beginning at conception, or before natural death,” states the campaign website of Greg Lopez, a former mayor of a Denver suburb, on his website. “I am pro-life, without exceptions.”

Another Republican in the primary race, businessman Doug Robinson, has said he voted for Colorado’s personhood amendment, which would ban all abortion, even after a rape. But responding to a questionnaire from the Colorado Independent, Robinson skipped a question asking if he would support more restrictive abortion laws in Colorado.

Surveys show Republican primary voters  to be anti-choice, but with a recent poll showing Stapleton ahead by double digits, his campaign tactics may already be focused on  the general election, where voters overwhelmingly favor abortion rights.

February poll conducted by a GOP consulting firm showed that 47 percent of Republican voters would reject a pro-choice primary candidate.

But polling generally shows Colorado’s general election voters to be pro-choice. A 2014 Pew Poll, for example, found 59 percent of the state’s population wants abortion to be legal in most or all cases.

A Leading GOP Candidate for Governor Says He Once Voted to Ban All Abortion in Colorado

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Mitt Romney’s Nephew.

A leading Republican candidate for governor told a talk radio host Saturday that he voted for a constitutional amendment that, if it hadn’t been overwhelmingly defeated by Colorado voters, would have banned all abortion, even for rape, and possibly some forms of birth control.

Asked by KNUS 710-AM host Craig Silverman if he voted for the “personhood amendment,” which would have bestowed legal rights to fertilized human eggs, also called zygotes, Robinson said, “I sure did, yeah.”

Robinson went on to tell Silverman that although he’s “pro-life” and has been his entire life, his anti-abortion stance would not “be the main focus of my administration.”

“I am pro-life,” said Robinson on air. “I don’t expect this is going to be the main focus of my administration. You know, I’m going to be focused on really making lives better every day for Coloradans, in terms of our roads and our schools, reducing the cost of health care. Those are going to be my priorities.”

Robinson’s opponents in the GOP primary apparently haven’t been asked about their support for a personhood amendment, which was a major issue in the 2014 senatorial election here, with U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner saying he supported a personhood bill in Congress but opposed an nearly identical amendment here in Colorado–even though he’d previously supported state personhood measures in Colorado as well. 

Treasurer Walker Stapleton, the Republican front runner for governor, hasn’t said much about his abortion stance, though he vowed to protect the “born and unborn” during his April speech at the Republican state convention. Republican Greg Lopez didn’t return an email asking about his stance on personhood and abortion-related issues. Democrats in the gubernatorial race are pro-choice.

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One Election Away: Iowa Passes Six-Week Abortion Ban

As the Des Moines Register reports:

With a middle-of-the-night vote that followed hours of heated debate, Iowa Republicans have approved a measure that would ban most abortions in the state and give the state the strictest abortion law in the nation.

The move came in the final days of the legislative session, after mounting pressure from the Legislature’s most ardently anti-abortion corners to pass the so-called heartbeat bill before adjournment. It was accompanied by legislative threats and predictions — even hopes — the resulting law will be challenged in court.

Senate File 359, if signed into law, would ban nearly all abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected. That can occur about six weeks into a pregnancy and often before a woman realizes she’s pregnant.

Iowa’s Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds hasn’t said for sure if she intends to sign the bill into law, but she campaigned for office as a pro-life conservative and the pressure on her to sign the bill is very intense. Passage of this legislation will of course provoke an immediate court challenge and in all probability an injunction against enforcement while that lawsuit takes place. That legal battle, all the way up to the U.S. Supreme Court, is exactly the point of this legislation–setting up a direct challenge to Roe v. Wade before the most conservative Supreme Court in decades.

Here in Colorado, the political press corps can scarcely be bothered to report on abortion bans and onerous restrictions like mandatory transvaginal ultrasounds introduced year after year by conservative Republicans in the state legislature. The presumption is that with Democrats in control of one chamber and the governor’s office, abortion ban bills “aren’t a story” since they stand no realistic chance of becoming law.

What’s happening in Iowa is a sobering reminder of how wrong that complacency is. The worst case scenario is never more than a single election away. If the Republicans in office in Colorado right now had the legislative majority they’re going to pitch Colorado voters to give them this fall, and a Republican governor like the one they want Colorado to elect, they would not hesitate to pass the bill Iowa’s legislature just passed.

And that is something every voter in Colorado needs to know.

Colorado Dems just introduced one of the most progressive reproductive health bills in the U.S.

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Democratic state lawmakers introduced a bill yesterday that aims to increase access to all reproductive care and protect Coloradans from the Trump administration’s rollbacks.

The Reproductive Health, Rights, and Justice Act would require all public and private health insurance plans regulated by the state of Colorado to cover the entire gamut of reproductive care, from cancer screenings and prenatal care to contraceptives and abortion, at no cost to the patient. And the bill guarantees that coverage for everyone, regardless of gender identity, income, or immigration status.

According to the Colorado Organization for Latina Opportunity and Reproductive Rights (COLOR) it’s a “proactive bill with some real teeth,” and the bill aims to address a key barrier to reproductive care: affordability.

“When it comes to marginalized communities, affordability is one of the biggest hurdles,” said COLOR’s Karla Gonzales Garcia. “You can have the right to seek reproductive health care and abortion, but if you can’t afford the care, you can’t access that right.”

Maternal mortality is on the rise in the U.S. Graph shows # of deaths per 100,000 live births. Credit: Rob Weychert/ProPublica

In addition to improving access to services like abortion and contraception, the bill also seeks to improve maternal health, a critical undertaking given that the U.S. has the highest maternal mortality rate in the developed world by a wide margin. And that rate continues to rise while other countries have managed to make childbirth safer.

Women of color bear the brunt of the country’s maternal health crisis. Women of color are more likely to die during childbirth, and black women are at particularly high risk, dying during childbirth at three times the rate of white women.

“A lot of it is due to complications in labor and during pregnancy, but a lot of it is also happening postpartum when people don’t have appropriate care for healing or post-delivery complications, when they frankly don’t have health coverage and then they’re having long-term health consequences and even dying,” said Garcia. “And so we see this legislation as really important to addressing maternal mortality and maternal health issues for women of color.”

As it stands, women who receive Medicaid coverage during pregnancy also receive 60 days of postpartum care. This bill would extend that coverage period to 180 days.

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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.

 

 

Cynthia Coffman Just Keeps Digging and Digging

Cynthia! Are you down there, Cynthia?

We’ve been tough on Attorney General Cynthia Coffman in this space, but it would be impossible to ignore the fantastical absurdity that is her campaign for the Republican gubernatorial nomination. Ever since her belated announcement for Governor in November, Coffman has been unable to figure out if she is here or there or anywhere else.

Ernest Luning reports on Coffman’s latest political gymnastics for the publication formerly known as the Colorado Statesman:

Coffman…told a GOP group last week she would sign a bill removing protection based on sexual orientation from Colorado’s anti-discrimination law.

Her remarks drew criticism from the state’s leading LGBTQ-advocacy organization, but Coffman later said she meant she would repeal the protection only if it turned out it wasn’t needed anymore. [Pols emphasis]

Coffman, who has staked out a position as a defender of LGBTQ rights, made the remarks at a March 21 meeting of the Greeley Republican Politics for Breakfast group at the end of a discussion about her controversial role defending the state’s nondiscrimination law in a U.S. Supreme Court Court case about a Lakewood baker who cited religious reasons when he refused to make a wedding cake for a gay couple.

Well, except that she probably did.

Coffman is seeking a place on the June Primary ballot via the caucus/assembly process, which concludes on April 14, and she’s been taking a strange approach in courting diehard Republicans across the state. Coffman’s pitch to GOP voters is that she is the most moderate Republican in the race, and therefore the candidate with the best chance of winning a General Election in November. But it seems like every time she tries to make this case, she ends up walking it back in a very public manner.

Put aside, for a moment, the question of whether or not it makes sense to court right-wing Republicans with a moderate message; Coffman’s bigger problem has been her persistant inability to be consistent in her positions. Coffman’s supposed support of LGBTQ rights is one of her main talking points for her “moderate” image — but when she gets into a room with conservative Republicans, she compulsively un-moderates herself. As Luning explains further:

Last summer, Coffman praised Colorado’s anti-bias laws as among the strongest in the country when she addressed a rally celebrating lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered equality on the steps of the state Capitol. She pointed out that her office had recently helped pass bipartisan legislation adding sexual orientation and transgender status to the state’s existing law covering bias-motivated crimes.

“Whatever happens on the national front, and I know there is great fear about what lies ahead because it is unknown to us, let me tell you what we do know about Colorado,” Coffman, the only Republican on stage, told the rally. “This state, your legislators, your state officials — we will all stand up for gay rights, for human rights in Colorado.” [Pols emphasis]

Cynthia Coffman will stand up for LGBTQ rights! Unless she won’t.

We’d guess that Coffman isn’t likely to win over many conservative Republicans with this dance, so why risk losing potential supporters from the LGBTQ community?

After reviewing a recording of Coffman’s remarks before the Republican group, a spokesman for One Colorado, the state’s leading LGBTQ-advocacy organization, said her statement “feels like a betrayal” from someone the group has long considered an ally.

Of course, this isn’t the only issue that has Coffman flopping about. Coffman thinks Colorado voters are anxious to vote for a female candidate at the top of the ticket (which they did in 2016 with Hillary Clinton), yet she is an unabashed supporter of President Trump.

Coffman doesn’t want to talk about Planned Parenthood, but she can’t very well sidestep the issue because of her involvement in important court cases about funding the organization. In fact, Coffman has waffled so much in the past few months on the issue of abortion that it is nearly impossible to ascertain if she is really “pro-choice” or “pro-life” (as far as we can tell, she’s definitely sorta “pro-life” at the moment).

If Coffman’s political strategy is intentional obfuscation, then she’s doing a hell of a job staying on “message.” But if this is NOT the plan, and we’re guessing it isn’t, then it’s almost sad to see Coffman winding down her political career by pulling up whatever policy stakes she once planted.

Don’t Forget About Irish Women While Your Appropriating Their Culture This St. Patrick’s Day

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Photo: Amnesty International Ireland

It’s that special time each year where we get to partake in shenanigans that subtly appropriate Irish culture while drinking large quantities of green beer, and dressing like a leprechaun —yes, St. Patricks Day is finally upon us. While you’re enjoying your weekend of “green” celebrations and paying homage to our friends “across the pond,” this is a friendly reminder that women in Ireland have been fighting a grueling battle for reproductive freedom for half a century.

Ireland has some of the strictest abortion laws in the world. It is estimated that roughly 12 women per day will travel out of the country to seek abortion care. Though their reasons for needing to terminate a pregnancy may differ, their reasons for traveling elswhere, do not. The penalty for inducing an abortion in the Republic of Ireland can be up to 14 years in prison. In Northern Ireland, penalties are much more severe, and can result in a life sentence. Abortion is permitted only in the most extreme circumstances to save a woman’s life. This provision was only introduced in 2012 after the death of Savita Halappanavar, who was denied a life-saving abortion while suffering a septic miscarriage.

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Con Man Chaps Interviews CD6 candidate Roger Edwards

Roger Edwards, Colorado Polster and candidate for Congressional District 6, was recently interviewed on Gordon “Dr. Chaps” Klingenschmitt’s Pray in Jesus Name online “news” program.

Screenshot, Pray in Jesus Name program 12/21/17

Edwards should be more careful about the people he associates with; Chaps is a known nutcase, homophobe, and a con man who has made millions by exploiting the hopes and fears of his gullible subscribers.

Klingenschmitt’s nonprofit, “Persuade the World Ministries” declared income of $1,362,548 in 2016, while making no charitable grants whatsoever. (2016 990 form, from Propublica Nonprofit Explorer) In 2016, Klingenschmitt was still employed as the Representative for HD15, and attempted to run for Senate District 16.  And he wasn’t too fussy about keeping his political and religious finances separate.

Klingenschmitt: You, Too, Can Discern Demons

How did Klingenschmitt make 1.3 million dollars?  By selling such gems as his $99 “Discern the Spirits” program.

Screenshot – Youtube video of PJIN program

That’s right, for only $99, Chaps will teach you how to see demons and angels. This would be just another laughable claim by a religious fanatic –  if not for the political applications of Chaps “discernment”. He famously tried to exorcise a demon from President Obama, and claimed that gay and transgender people were inhabited by demons.

Also possessed by demons, according to Chaps: Zales ad execs, and anyone who criticizes him.

On the same 40 minute PJIN progam, at 19:11, Chaps promotes his petition to protect the altars of military chapels from the “desecration” of being used for “homosexual wedding ceremonies”. Because, of course, this is a legit national security concern.

Chaps Facebook page is a compendium of conspiracy theories (How Planned Parenthood Killed Toys R Us!!), Trumpism, and fundraising appeals for his various campaigns against gays and abortion, Mexican and Muslim immigrants, etc.  This is how he has become a millionaire. People donate to his “ministry”. A lot.

Edwards: Gays OK to keep their jobs

Chaps’ interview with candidate Roger Edwards starts with the standard biographical questions. Then the two proceed to check the right boxes: Anti-abortion / Pro Personhood? Check. Pro Concealed Carry? Check. Trump voter? Check.

When Chaps probes to find out what policies Edwards is for, the best Edwards can say is that he is “Not Mike Coffman”. There are no specific policies on Edwards’ campaign website, either. Sample: We must recognize that evil exists in the world. 

To Edwards’ credit, at 25:11,  Edwards  declines to denounce the ENDA (Employment Non Discrimination Act), which protects gay people from employment discrimination. Edwards refuses Chaps’ request to get on the homophobic bandwagon against ENDA, and says that gay people should be able to keep their jobs. Edwards says:

I believe in religious freedom, but I also believe that, if you’re a gay person,. . .that you should have equal opportunity to have a job and work a career that you want to work in.

I’m sorry that we live in a world in which we should be grateful that an aspiring politician declines to discriminate against a tenth of the population. Edwards does say that he thinks that Jack Phillips, the baker who wouldn’t make the gay cake, probably did the right thing for “artistic freedom”. So he checked that box for Chaps.

Roger Edwards is trying to establish himself as a legitimate, electable candidate in CD6, a diverse district. The Adams County Republicans endorsed his candidacy over Coffman’s. It does not serve Edwards well to associate with opportunistic right wing hucksters like Dr. Chaps.

In the unlikely event that Edwards defeats Coffman in the primary, Dr. Chaps’ blessing of Edwards will serve the likely CD6 Democratic candidate, Jason Crow, very well, indeed.

Aaaaand…Now Cynthia Coffman’s “Pro Life” Again!

Attorney General Cynthia Coffman.

Joey Bunch of the former Colorado Statesman put the capstone on floundering GOP gubernatorial candidate Cynthia Coffman’s long series of flip-flops on the issue of abortion rights yesterday, and we wanted to be sure it got a mention. After repeatedly making it clear that she supports abortion rights, a novel (if risky) addition to the mix in the 2018 GOP gubernatorial primary, it would appear that Cynthia Coffman has belatedly realized that she is in…well, a GOP primary:

As a conservative Republican who represented the state’s case when it sought to withhold money from Planned Parenthood, Coffman create surprise and anxiety among would-be supporters when her campaign in November reportedly told CBS4’s Shaun Boyd that Coffman was pro-choice, That sent radio political talkers such as Corporon, Craig Silverman and Dan Caplis into orbit. Coffman’s spokeswoman at the time told Colorado Politics that Coffman has never said publicly how she feels personally on the wedge issue, but said the candidate would speak about it on the campaign trail.

“I am personally in favor of life,” Coffman said Saturday. “I would choose life.” [Pols emphasis]

It was Cynthia Coffman’s supposedly moderate views on social wedge issues that some Democratic strategists had worried might make her a formidable candidate in the event she survived the Republican primary. The biggest problem for Coffman, of course, is winning the primary with a public position on a critical issue that conservative primary voters find repellent. Thus before Coffman can put this angle to her advantage, she has to survive it being her greatest disadvantage.

But none of that matters now. With Coffman now backpedaling on an issue she has already backpedaled the other way, she has squandered her credibility on both sides. Nobody who opposes abortion is going to take seriously this obviously contrived flip back in the direction of GOP primary voters, and no one who supports abortion rights can trust Coffman either now. It’s like she is trying to take a page from Sen. Cory Gardner’s playbook, deliberately scrambling her image in hopes of confusing a winning coalition into either supporting her or disregarding abortion in this race entirely.

But in timing or the execution, Cynthia Coffman is no Cory Gardner.

Online Conservative Group Turns on Republicans

(Whatever happened to… – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Divisiveness among Colorado Republicans is a familiar challenge for the state party. Extreme social conservatives and gun rights advocates have challenged the more moderate establishment for years.

Over the past year, however, a previously ordinary Republican entity has launched surprisingly aggressive attacks against its own party. The reason? It’s under new management.

Advancing Colorado is a 501(c)4 entity that in past years has been essentially an online brand used by conservatives to promote “edgy” messages against progressive policies and -obliquely- Democratic candidates. From a 2015 Colorado Independent profile of its former executive director Jonathan Lockwood:

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Rep. Phil Covarrubias Equates Abortion With Prostitution

Rep. Phil Covarrubias (R-Brighton).

Readers will recall Rep. Phil Covarrubias of Adams County, the Republican who made national headlines one year ago when he defended the internment of Japanese-Americans in World War II during a legislative debate about national security and immigration. After establishing himself as the new standard-bearer for xenophobic buffoonery in the Colorado General Assembly, Covarrubias apologized–but has on other occasions done plenty to reaffirm his foot-in-mouth credentials.

Last Thursday, Rep. Covarrubias left the crowd in attendance at the debate in the House Health, Insurance, & Environment Committee over two bills to respectively place onerous restrictions on and ban outright abortion in Colorado picking their jaws up off the floor after he, among a long list of other offenses, compared abortion rights to prostitution. Yes, really:

Transcribed with time stamps from the original committee audio of the eight-plus hour hearing:

Timestamp 1:36:18

COVARRUBIAS: Thank you Madam chair, and thank you all for being here. As people of God, where do men’s rights fall in with all the love and compassion…towards how the man feels…where does that fall in, in your perception of this taking place?

Rev. Garland: …I think the man’s position is to support the woman in whatever decision she makes, to get some counseling and um, support, um …it’s a matter of ratios and the woman’s got a whole lot more into it, than any man involved.

Timestamp: 5:50:21

COVARRUBIAS: Thank you Madam chair, and thank you for being here. We’ve seen across our country where judges will absolutely dismantle our constitution for their own work…with sanctuary cities, illegal immigration…they will protect people who aren’t even citizens, they’ll protect their rights. So we’ve seen where judges and courts will politicize and weaponize their power in order to do what they want for political expediency. And that’s just disgusting…but it happens everyday and now were finding out more and more of how much this has been going on across our country for the last several years. It’s all coming out now. And I wanna know why, or do these unborn children, babies, have any rights, or if they don’t, why not?

Timestamp: 6:29:26

COVARRUBIAS: Thank you Madam chair, and thank you for being here. In 2014, there was 324,000 babies killed through abortion, millions and millions since Roe v. Wade, over 55 million babies have been killed. I’m wondering, is there a statistic on how many of those were necessary, how many of those were from actual rape of incest as opposed to the other…what percentage is that, would you happen to know that?

[…]

COVARRUBIAS: I have another question. We’re talking about liberty and freedom—Women having the right to do whatever they want with their own body. Yet they’re not allowed to be prostitutes if they want to be prostitutes, because there’s laws around that. In fact, there are laws that prohibit women from being able to do whatever they want with their own body, only unless it’s in the case of abortion—then its okay. [Pols emphasis] But we don’t talk about it when it comes to other laws pertaining to the same thing, is that correct?

Ginal: Representative Covarrubias, that question was uncalled for and Miss Schall(sp?), You do not have to answer the question.

Timestamp: 8:13:01

COVARRUBIAS: Thank you Representative Humphrey and to everybody who’s stayed, who’s been here. It’s been another one of those incredible nights. I guess, you know what really bothers me, about being in this building, is the absolute hypocrisy, because the very same people who are willing to kill babies, are willing to keep murderers and rapists alive on death row, and will oppose the death punishment and willing to protect their lives.

Ginal: Representative Covarrubias, let’s stick to the bill please.

COVARRUBIAS: Were talking about 70 to 30 % votes, um, that it could be sentenced to death. I would say, those votes have sentenced millions to death—when it comes to abortion. I appreciate that you brought your bill and the conversation we’ve had and I always learn a lot, but I’m definitely going to support you on this representative.

As you can see, employing the most offensive words possible is not a bug for Rep. Phil Covarrubias.

It’s a feature.

Abortion Ban Bills Die, Colorado Press Corps Mansplains

UPDATE: Honorable mentions to Denver7 and the Pueblo Chieftain for covering this important story on Friday.

—–

Ultrasound wand. Some of you know where it goes.

The Colorado Independent’s John Herrick reports on hearings yesterday in the Colorado House on two Republican-sponsored bills: one banning abortion outright and another imposing onerous medically unnecessary requirements to abortions in Colorado with the clear intent of making them harder to get:

Democrats on Thursday blocked a bill that would have required doctors to offer women seeking an abortion an ultrasound of the fetus 24 hours before the procedure and, if available, an audio of its heartbeat. Doctors also would have had to to inform the patient of the health risks of an abortion.

The bill failed in the Health, Insurance and Environment Committee on a party line 7-6 vote…

[D]octors and women who testified on the bill said it could lead to physicians giving out medically inaccurate information. And other provisions of the bill, they said, would have the effect of making it harder to get an abortion.

[Rep. Lori] Saine has proposed similar bills in the last two years without success. It is one of three bills introduced this legislative session that would restrict or criminalize abortion. In a split legislature, with a Democrat in the governor’s office, the bills are destined to go nowhere.

Another bill, sponsored by Rep. Stephen Humphrey, R-Eaton and Sen. Kevin Lundberg, R-Berthoud, among others, would make it a crime to perform an abortion. Voters have rejected similar personhood proposals, which define life as beginning at conception, when they voted down ballot measures in 2008, 2010 and 2014. The two have proposed the same bill every year since at least 2016.

Eric Galatas of Colorado News Connection also reported on yesterday’s debate, with useful national context:

Victoria Gomez Betancourt with the Colorado Organization for Latina Opportunity and Reproductive Rights, said these kinds of measures perpetuate a dangerous culture of silencing and shaming people for their reproductive health care decisions: “That seek to demonize people for seeking abortion care or other types of reproductive health care services,” Gomez Betancourt said. “That becomes an obstacle for having frank conversations in the family space or with health care providers.”

…According to the Population Institute’s annual 50 State Report Card on Reproductive Health and Rights, the nation as a whole slipped from a “D” to a “D-minus” because of tightened state and federal policies that limit access to contraceptive and other health care services. [Pols emphasis]

Our understanding is that dozens of women showed up yesterday to testify against these two bills. The abortion “information” bill debated yesterday included a requirement to notify women about the dangerous practice of “abortion reversal, and the other was legislation to make abortion a class 1 felony in this state–which would obviously trigger a court battle to overturn the historic Roe v. Wade decision upholding abortion rights.

Colorado is fortunate that the state’s all-female and pro-choice leadership in the House means these bills don’t go far–for now. But in other states, they do. So-called “abortion reversal” legislation has passed in the Arizona legislature, mandatory ultrasounds in many states, and the abortion restrictions in House Bill 18-1082 were actual Texas law before being struck down by the Supreme Court in 2016.

With all of this in mind, the overall lack of press coverage of yesterday’s abortion bills is a real problem. We get that the press corps is stretched thin and tugged in multiple directions. But we’ve heard that the Capitol press corps was actually rather snotty to representatives of pro-choice groups who asked them to cover the event, declaring that abortion bills destined to die in the House were undeserving of their time.

That’s just wrong. Colorado is never more than one election away from going backwards on reproductive rights, and given what is passing into law in other states, these rights cannot be taken for granted in Colorado. In 2014, the local press became openly hostile toward abortion rights activists who insisted that Cory Gardner was deceiving Colorado voters when he “backed off” his support for the Personhood abortion bans.

And then Gardner spent the next three years making them eat their words.

The only thing we have to add to this story is this: the political press in Colorado should consider asking itself why bills that would have such a devastating effect on women are unworthy of coverage when so many other bills destined to die in Colorado’s split legislature do get covered. When we think about this in the context of separate but related issues, like the sexual harassment scandal in the General Assembly that stayed so quiet for so long…

Well, suffice to say we can see a connection.

Cynthia Coffman apparently doesn’t want to talk about Planned Parenthood anymore

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Attorney General Cynthia Coffman

Republican gubernatorial candidate Cynthia Coffman, who’s also Colorado’s attorney general, spent a substantial chunk of time during her early career helping Colorado Republicans develop legal arguments to defund Planned Parenthood.

She became widely known as an expert on the arcane topic, and last year, anti-abortion activists repeatedly cited Coffman’s 2001 legal opinion as evidence in a lawsuit (footnote 3 here) claiming that Colorado’s ban on using tax dollars for abortion precludes the state from funding Planned Parenthood at all, even for the women’s health organization’s non-abortion services for low income people, such as breast cancer screening.

Colorado’s Supreme Court disagreed, ruling last month that the state can provide funds for Planned Parenthood’s non-abortion services, despite the constitutional abortion-funding ban.

You’d think this would be a major disappointment for Coffman, who once boasted about her role in defunding Planned Parenthood, “We went through the legal process, since I was [Jane Norton’s] attorney, and we defunded Planned Parenthood in that case, because they were using public funds to subsidize abortion.”

Coffman’s campaign did not respond to my request for comment after the Colorado Supreme Court decision last month.

But during a brief interview Wednesday, prior to a debate, Coffman indicated that her hard stance against Planned Parenthood may have softened.

Asked whether she still opposes public funding for Planned Parenthood’s non-abortion services, Coffman declined comment, saying, “That’s a longer conversation we should have another time.”

If Coffman were still opposed to funding for Planned Parenthood, a quick “yes” would have ended my interview.

(more…)

WATCH: In “Just the Facts” Facebook post on gun violence, Colorado sheriff calls abortion “a genocidal act”

In the wake the Parkland, FL school shooting last week, Garfield County sheriff Lou Valario posted a live feed to his Facebook page in a bimonthly update from the Sheriff’s office called “Just the Facts,” which is broadcast live on Facebook.

Sheriff Valario acknowledges from the outset that his post will be controversial, inspired by his anger around the Parkland, FL school shooting in which 17 people died.

He editorializes about societal reactions to the tragedy, possible solutions to address the problem, and then directly calls out a perceived hypocrisy of gun safety advocates in supporting abortion rights. He specifically refers to abortion as a “genocidal act.”

In relation to the February 14 shooting, the Garfield County sheriff – himself a National Rifle Association member and former firearms instructor — points to liberal politicians and the “Hollywood elite” who are quick to politicize mass shootings and blame guns for gun violence, while ignoring other factors that might contribute to similar tragedies.

In his video, Sheriff Valario condemns the singling out of the AR-15 as the weapon of choice for many mass shooters, and chastises those who would frame the NRA as “the second coming of ISIS,” while calling to end the designation of schools as Gun Free Zones.

Valario asserts that “taking away guns” will never happen in this country.

It is the last statement in his dispatch that could prove to be his most controversial.  Valario attempts to conflate legal abortion with mass shootings, saying that any argument for gun laws and gun control is undermined and indefensible as long as abortion is legal.

Quoting Sheriff Velario from his Facebook live post:

The biggest American tragedy, however, when it comes to these liberal politicians and these Hollywood elites, is something […] that they support and condone […]. And that is the murder of hundreds of thousands of babies every year through abortion.  So these folks, apparently, pick and choose which lives they think are important, which lives they think are tragic.  But yet, when it comes to this genocidal act, they don’t want to do a thing about it, and they fully support and condone it. So, until they look in the mirror and they tell me that that’s something that needs to be corrected in this country, I will not be lectured by them on gun control.  This is “Just the Facts”.

Watch the entire post from the Garfield County Sheriff below.

Just the Facts with Sheriff Vallario

Posted by Garfield County Sheriff's Office – Colorado on Monday, February 19, 2018