Why Didn’t Ken Buck Do Something?


Colorado GOP chairman Rep. Ken Buck (R).

Entering the second day of reaction to the failure of the Republican campaign to recall freshman Democratic Rep. Tom Sullivan of Centennial, the conversation is moving beyond initial shock into the important follow-up questions–how high up does the blame for this fiasco extend? And how exactly did this incredibly bad idea even get off the ground?

With the effort now officially dead, pointy fingers are converging on the Colorado Republican Party itself, and the central role of vice-chair Kristi Burton Brown in launching the campaign against Sullivan–9NEWS yesterday:

Kristi Burton Brown, Vice Chair of the Colorado Republican Party, posted on Facebook that the recall effort she initiated against the first-year lawmaker was ending.

“While we are pulling the recall today to focus on other essential efforts, Sullivan does not get a free pass. 2020 is the year to oust him, with the support of voters who now know how extreme he is,” wrote Brown.

The obvious first question–who is “we?” Wasn’t this done in her “personal capacity?”

That was of course farcical. After the recall petition against Rep. Sullivan was approved, Colorado Republican Party chairman Ken Buck insisted that his vice chair was acting “in her personal capacity, not as part of her leadership role with the state party.” But Colorado GOP “CEO” Steve House had already eagerly explained how the Colorado GOP would support recalls for electoral advantage–not to mention Buck’s own speech before his election as state party chair promising to teach Democrats “how to spell R-E-C-A-L-L” (video above). Combine that with the vice chair’s “personal” leadership role in the Sullivan recall, and it’s simply absurd to not hold the Colorado Republican Party directly responsible for the outcome.

And that opens the door to more pressing questions that Republicans must reckon with. Is Ken Buck’s absentee leadership of the state party while he tries to serve in Congress at the same time creating a leadership vacuum? Did Buck simply not have time or the presence of mind to recognize that the vice chair leading the Sullivan recall would indelibly link the party to the recall? Who exactly is in charge over there?

As the saying goes, victory has a thousand fathers. But as much as many Republicans want to lay the blame for this massive defeat at the feet of Dudley Brown, the man everyone loves to hate and has little credibility to lose, this is the Colorado Republican Party’s in-house disaster. The party’s vice chair is centrally to blame–and the statements of the party’s chairman and the “CEO” who runs the day-to-day operations on behalf of the absentee chairman oblige them to take the blame as well.

It’s time for Chairman Buck to own up to this disaster and clean house.

Or make way for someone who, for whatever reason, can.

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Colorado GOP Chair Voted ‘NO’ on Disaster Relief Bill

No disaster relief for you, says Congressman and State GOP Chair Ken Buck.

The House of Representatives has approved $19 billion in disaster relief funds for hurricane and flood-ravaged areas such as the Florida panhandle, Arkansas, Oklahoma, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Puerto Rico. The legislation advanced by a vote of 354-58, with all ‘NO’ votes coming from Republicans (more on that in a moment).

The Senate had already overwhelmingly passed the disaster relief measure, and President Trump — who has repeatedly expressed his support — is expected to sign the bill once it reaches his desk. Yet as the Associated Press reports, this seemingly-popular bill took quite a long time to actually get through the sausage-making process in Washington D.C.:

…conservative Republicans in the House held up the bill last week, objecting on three occasions to efforts by Democratic leaders to pass the bill by a voice vote requiring unanimity. They said the legislation — which reflects an increasingly permissive attitude in Washington on spending to address disasters that sooner or later hit every region of the country — shouldn’t be rushed through without a recorded vote…

…As the measure languished, disasters kept coming — with failed levees in Arkansas, Iowa and Missouri and tornadoes across Ohio just the most recent examples. The measure is supported by the bipartisan party leadership in both House and Senate.

The legislation is also being driven by Florida and Georgia lawmakers steaming with frustration over delays in delivering help to farmers, towns and military bases slammed by hurricanes last fall. Flooding in Iowa and Nebraska this spring added to the coalition behind the measure, which delivers much of its help to regions where Trump supporters dominate. [Pols emphasis]

Panama City, Florida in the wake of Hurricane Michael

Colorado’s Congressional delegation did not vote strictly along party lines; Rep. Scott Tipton (R-Cortez) joined all four Democrats in voting ‘YES’ on Monday. The two ‘NO’ votes from Colorado’s delegation were from Rep. Ken Buck (R-Greeley) and Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Colorado Springs). While Lamborn’s vote is as unsurprising as it is unimportant, Buck’s vote is a different story because of his other job as Chairman of the State Republican Party in Colorado.

When Buck decided to run for the vacant State GOP Chair position earlier this year, he made it clear that he had no plans to give up his Congressional seat. Buck now does both jobs, though the day-to-day operations of the State Party have been handed off to former Chairman and new “CEO” Steve House.

Buck and his spokespeople will say that his votes in Congress are made strictly as a representative of CO-4, where a solidly right-wing base of supporters might actually approve of their Congressman acting like a heartless dickhead. While this may be technically accurate, it doesn’t change the fact that the man who is also the leader of the Colorado GOP was among a small contingent of Congressional Republicans who opposed providing disaster relief for suffering communities across the country.

Buck can claim that what he does in Congress is unrelated to his work as State Party Chairman, but it’s just not possible to cleanly separate the two roles on policy issues. Would Buck have voted differently on the disaster relief measure if he were casting a vote on behalf of all Colorado Republicans? If so, then what does that say about the residents of CO-4? There was always going to be an obvious conflict of interest for Buck to do both jobs at the same time; these are the type of votes that turn a small discomfort into a festering wound.

Buck can be the symbol of the Colorado Republican Party or he can represent his Congressional district…but he can’t do both. Republicans who don’t think this is going to be a problem in 2020 are kidding themselves.

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Report: Ken Buck May Not Run for Re-Election

UPDATE: According to an email we received from Buck’s Communications Director Brittany Yanick, “this is falsely reported information.” Writes Yanick: “Congressman Buck has no official plans to retire anytime soon nor in the foreseeable future.”

—–

Earlier today we saw some interesting news from Nathan Gonzales, Editor and Publisher of “Inside Elections” whose expertise is following Congressional races and how they may ultimately impact majority control of either chamber:


We haven’t seen any more information about this report from Rep. Ken Buck (R-Greeley), who was busy today railing about the House Judiciary Committee’s vote to hold Attorney General William Barr in contempt for refusing to turn over the unreacted Mueller report to a select number of Representatives (the Judiciary Committee voted by a 24-16 margin to hold Barr in contempt this afternoon). At the same time, we wouldn’t be quick to dismiss this report as entirely inaccurate.

Rep. Ken Buck (R-Greeley)

This would not be the first time that Buck has hinted at leaving Congress on his own terms; as recently as 2017 he flirted with running for Colorado Attorney General before ultimately deciding to stay put. Buck is also just weeks removed from being elected State Republican Party Chairman, though he has pledged to continue his work in Congress while turning over day-to-day responsibilities to former Party Chair Steve House.

Buck very nearly defeated Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Denver) in a closely-watched Senate race in 2010; he might have even won had he not eaten his foot in a disastrous “Meet the Press” appearance a few weeks before Election Day. Buck put his political aspirations on hold in 2013 while battling lymphoma, then returned to the center stage to win election to Congress in 2014 when then-Rep. Cory Gardner vacated his seat to run for U.S. Senate.

Ever since he was first elected to Congress, there has been regular speculation about Buck’s next potential campaign. It’s no secret that Buck would like another shot at the Senate; if that were to happen in 2020, Gardner would have to step aside, or Buck would have to be comfortable with a bruising Republican Primary. Buck would also need to figure out what to do with his other job as Colorado Republican Party Chairman.

Hopefully Buck isn’t battling health problems once more, which would be an obvious question to ask of someone with a recent history of cancer. Of course, it might just be that Buck has soured on being in the House Minority and/or is getting tired of the blowback after regularly making a fool of himself on a number of high-profile issues (from LGBTQ rights to race relations).

Regardless of what Buck decides, CO-4 is still a Republican seat until redistricting in 2021. Buck coasted to a 21-point victory in 2018 and should have little trouble keeping his job for at least one more cycle. Should Buck bow out, however, there would be a mad scramble among Republicans to position themselves for the GOP nomination in 2020 — think of names like House Minority Leader Pat Neville, Senate Minority Leader Chris Holbert, Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg, and nutcases-extraordinaire such as Sen. Vicki Marble and Rep. Lori Saine.

For now, consider this report unconfirmed; but if it’s true, there could be a big shakeup coming among Colorado Republicans.

(h/t Arvadonian)

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Get Rid of the Politicians Who Won’t Act on Gun Violence

Students evacuate from a STEM school in Highlands Ranch on Tuesday.

One dead. Eight injured. Two students accused of shooting classmates at a charter school in Highlands Ranch where 1,800 children – some as young as kindergarteners – attend classes daily.

The deadly attack at a STEM school in Highlands Ranch is the fourth school shooting in Colorado since the massacre at Columbine High School in 1999. It is the 12th school shooting in the United States in 2019 alone. Last year, 113 people were killed or injured in school shootings in America.

The numbers are terrifying. The pictures are heart-wrenching. The reality is undeniable.

Gun rights advocates always default to saying that this is a complicated political issue – that solving the problem requires a delicate balance between 2ndAmendment rights and protecting children from being shot in their classrooms. This is patently absurd. There can be no more “on the other hand…” rationalizing on this subject. If we can shield children from being gunned down at school, we do it. What is the point of allowing for a “well-armed militia” to protect a country that won’t even protect its own children?

As Aurora Sentinel editor Dave Perry explains in a column today, we can’t hope to curb gun violence until we get rid of the politicians who will do everything in their power to stand in the way of solutions:

House Minority Leader Patrick Neville (R-Castle Rock)

…the state House legislator who represents the community where this shooting occurred has been a stalwart opponent of the red-flag and other common-sense gun control bills. GOP state Rep. Patrick Neville not only attended Columbine High School during the school shooting there 20 years ago, he is a lauded leader in the movement to arm teachers in schools, rather than pass gun control laws.

After I criticized Neville earlier this year for his moronic stance, Republican staffers in the House emailed reporters here saying no Sentinel writers would be permitted to speak with GOP House members because of my editorial views on the opinion page.

That’s who’s calling the shots, folks. Elected officials beholden to the likes of the National Rifle Association and, worse, wild-eyed and vicious gun-extremists from Rocky Mountain Gun Owners…[Pols emphasis]

…Here’s what will happen if the Nevilles in Colorado and the nation get booted: Other Republicans and cringing pro-gun Democrats will vote with gun-control advocates because they value their seats in Congress and state legislatures more than they value gun rights. And they know it. And you know it.

As news of the shooting in Highlands Ranch was breaking on Tuesday, HOUSE MINORITY LEADER Pat Neville Tweeted the following:

Fix it? Fix it??? This is the very same Rep. Pat Neville who has been openly advocating for recall elections against Colorado lawmakers who supported so-called “red flag” legislation that allows law enforcement officials to temporarily remove weapons — via Extreme Risk Protection Orders (ERPO) — from the hands of people believed to be a danger to themselves or others. This is the very same Rep. Pat Neville who talks about the need to prioritize mental health instead of gun control, yet voted against a separate mental health bill that passed through the legislature nonetheless.

This is the very same Rep. Pat Neville whose brother, Joe Neville, is the political consultant behind “Values First Colorado,” which was literally running these ads on Facebook yesterday:

 

The Nevilles have long been closely aligned with Dudley Brown and his “no compromises” gun rights group Rocky Mountain Gun Owners (RMGO) – which recently filed a lawsuit attempting to overturn the “red flag” legislation and is excitedly advocating for recalls across the state. When RMGO announced their lawsuit at a press conference last week, Rep. Neville stood proudly behind the dais in solidarity. We know where Rep. Neville stands on the issue of preventing gun violence – it’s the same place he’s always stood.

Pat Neville isn’t going to do a goddamn thing to prevent gun violence in Colorado or anywhere else. He’s not the only Colorado politician who will continue to sit on his hands while innocent children are killed, but this is the guy who House Republicans have consistently chosen to lead their caucus. If we want to take real steps to curb gun violence, we must first oust the politicians who have demonstrated time and again that they have no serious interest in supporting anything that might possibly reduce the number of guns available to anyone at any time. On the federal level, this includes politicians like Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) and Rep. Ken Buck (R-Greeley), the latter of whom is now the State Republican Party Chairman.

For politicians in Colorado and the rest of the country, preventing gun violence in schools is a binary choice. Either you work to solve the problem, or you don’t. Period.

It’s time for voters to make the same choice.

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Ken Buck on Nevilles Profiting From Recalls: “That’s for Patrick & House GOP to Decide”

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Local broadcast news faces a challenge when covering politics–how to distill complex topics into brief segments that rarely run longer than four minutes?

Last week 9News’ Marshall Zelinger sat down with Congressman Ken Buck, the newly elected chairman of the Colorado Republican Party. The wide-ranging interview only lasted 3 minutes 30 seconds on air, which is why 9News’ decision to post the entire raw footage of the interview is so important.

Inquiring minds need only visit the Next on 9News Youtube channel to find the full 17-minute interview, “Head of Colorado GOP Ken Buck on recalls, oil and gas, Nazi question.”

At 9:45 Zelinger asks Buck if it’s appropriate for elected officials and their families to profit from recalls they’re promoting publicly.

Zelinger: House Minority Leader Patrick Neville has come out supporting recalls. His family could benefit from recalls because that’s their business. Should it be appropriate for elected officials and their families to profit off of recalls and elections? By being hired for election purposes–this is an added election outside of a cycle–perhaps this is being done in a way that benefits the family business?

Buck initially says he doesn’t understand, but then gives a response that indicates he does understand, but that he doesn’t want to get involved.

Buck: So, Patrick’s brother is a consultant in the business and certainly there were some resources from the House fund that were used in the last cycle and his brother ran some of that political operation. I think that is something that Patrick and the elected Republicans in the state House will have to decide. It’s not something the state party will intervene in in any way. Ken Buck, Next on 9News, 4/5/19

Zelinger’s question about the Neville’s family financial stake in the House GOP political machinery was just the latest reporting on the issue, the most prominent of which was Marianne Goodland’s pair of feature-length articles for Colorado Politics, particularly the second one titled “A hard look at 2018’s GOP ‘soft money’.” Goodland reported that other Republicans expressed concerns with the Nevilles’ performance and tactics:

One Republican insider told Colorado Politics he didn’t mind if Joe Neville and his companies make money off their political activities. But, he said, the lack of results in terms of election wins for the GOP is another matter… Another concern among Republicans who talked with Colorado Politics: what appears to be a large amount of unspent money left over after the election.

By early March, it was clear where at least some of that unspent money was headed- paying for recalls. House Minority Leader Patrick Neville launched a website to support recalling his own colleagues in the legislature. At least one corporate donor, Xcel Energy, expressed surprise that some of its 2018 contribution to the GOP House caucus fund was now being used for recalls.

More recently, 9News’ Kyle Clark noted that both former Secretary of State Scott Gessler and also the conservative Independence Institute are both generating revenue from another proposed Colorado recall, the moonshot that is the attempt to remove Governor Jared Polis. State law dictates that petition gathering for a gubernatorial recall can’t begin until at least six months into the governor’s term, but there are no restrictions on when political operatives can start gathering checks from naive donors.

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CU Regent Heidi Ganahl Endorses Trump

(Colorado’s only OTHER statewide elected Republican official – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

The red meat was indeed raw and juicy at the Colorado Republican Central Committee meeting last month.

Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner shouted about needing “a fighter” at the top of his lungs. Congressman Ken Buck (R-CO) threatened recalls and dared Democrats to take his guns from his “cold dead hands.” District Attorney George Brauchler said “the front was bloody” and warned that soon Coloradans will have to call California “our overlords.”

Compared to violent language and imagery favored by Buck, Gardner, and Brauchler, University of Colorado Regent Heidi Ganahl’s speech was relatively tame.

“We’re on the right side of history. We have the right solutions for the problems our state faces, and Ken Buck has a track record of winning and winning big, as our president likes to say. “It’s time to get to work to re-elect President Trump, to re-elect Senator Gardner, and to win back the state legislature.” CU Regent Heidi Ganahl, Republican Central Committee meeting, 3/30/19

This straightforward endorsement wouldn’t be significant were it not for the fact that during her 2016 campaign for CU Regent, Ganahl refused to even utter the name of her party’s presidential candidate.

(more…)

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Ken Buck Keeps Making a Jackass of Himself on Race


Rep. Ken Buck (R).

Yesterday in Washington, the Democratic-controlled House Judiciary Committee held a hearing on the increase in white nationalism and hate crimes in the last few years, with prominent examples like the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia in 2017 and the mass murder of Jewish congregants at a synagogue in Pittsburgh in October of 2018 serving as a backdrop to the reported three years of consecutive increases in such crimes. USA TODAY:

Last week, FBI Director Christopher Wray called white supremacist violence “a persistent, pervasive threat” during testimony before the House Appropriations Committee.

In November, the FBI released a report that showed a 17% increase in hate crimes from 2016 to 2017, although the bureau pointed out the number of law enforcement agencies reporting the data had also increased.

While majority Democrats in the Judiciary Committee wanted to talk yesterday about the statistically undeniable increase in hate crimes in the United States since Donald Trump became President, undeniable even factoring better reporting of hate crimes or any other kind of excuse one could make to explain the increase away…Republicans on the committee had other ideas. Right Wing Watch’s Jared Holt:

Conservatives on the House Judiciary Committee, of which notably few were even in attendance, made it clear today that they are not equipped or willing to engage in a meaningful conversation about understanding and solving white supremacy and hate crime in America.

A panel of experts and people with lived experience who study and feel the effects of violent extremism in this country sat under the lights in the Rayburn House Office Building this morning–next to right-wing activists Candace Owens, communications director for Turning Point USA, and Zionist Organization of America’s Mort Klein. The esteemed experts attempted to share factual information and proposed solutions, but their messages were frequently derailed by the conservative duo’s efforts to change the topic of discussion and wield the hearing as a bludgeon against Democrats. Republican members of the Judiciary Committee in attendance, including Reps. Louie Gohmert and Ken Buck, egged them on and, at one point, Rep. Greg Steube yielded his time to Owens to make whatever comments she wanted to. Buck asked Owens if her status as a “pro-life” conservative “triggers” liberals. [Pols emphasis]

Owens testified that she was participating in the hearing because she had been the victim of a hate crime in high school, which is true. But Owens spoke only briefly about that incident and then pivoted to make accusatory and incorrect claims, such as that the GOP’s Southern strategy was a myth, ignoring the fact that RNC chairman Ken Mehlman apologized for the Southern strategy’s existence in 2005.

Candace Owens.

Candace Owens of the hard-right college organizing group Turning Point USA recently caused a stir in Colorado when she spoke before Boulder County Republicans shortly after recorded comments of her saying Adolf Hitler “just wanted to make Germany great” in a way that could be interpreted as an excuse for Naziism if it only happened inside one country. Boulder Republicans gave Owens a pass, but the Turning Point USA chapter at CU Boulder later called for her to step down. But at yesterday’s hearing Rep. Ken Buck of Colorado, fresh off his most recent lowlight last week comparing gay people to Nazis, had Owens’ back:

Buck, who was a longtime Weld County district attorney and is now the new chair of Colorado’s GOP party, was among the Republicans who defended Owens during the testy hearing.

“I think you’ve caused my friends on the left to go to their safe spaces,” said the 4th District Colorado Republican. [Pols emphasis]

As for Owens’ blanket denial that Republicans intentionally courted whites in Southern states with coded racist campaign messages, initiating the great Southern realignment from the Democratic Party to the GOP by the early 1980s? There’s simply no historical basis for this contention. The strategy was publicly avowed by its principal architect Lee Atwater, and it is an historical fact that the Republican Party apologized for it back in 2005:

Mehlman, speaking before the NAACP, said Republicans had been wrong to try to make use of racially divisive issues.

“Some Republicans gave up on winning the African American vote, looking the other way or trying to benefit politically from racial polarization,” Mehlman said, according to his prepared remarks. “I am here today as the Republican chairman to tell you we were wrong.” [Pols emphasis]

While the “Southern strategy” helped Nixon win the White House in 1968, Democrats went on in the ensuing decades to solidify their support among black voters, as Mehlman acknowledged.

What changed between 2005 and today to make Republicans deny this dark but important period of their own history? That’s simple. The strategy became popular again–and not just in the South. The low-information apologetics of Candace Owens, backstopped by members of Congress like Ken Buck who are seemingly out to prove Owens wrong, is a bizarre spectacle that says a great deal about today’s GOP politics.

And nothing good.

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GOP Chairman Buck Defends Comparing Gays To Nazis


Rep. Ken Buck (R).

Readers were shocked this past week by an exchange in the U.S. House Judiciary Committee Tuesday between Rep. Ken Buck, newly elected chairman of the Colorado Republican Party, and a woman who had experienced discrimination as an LGBT woman seeking pediatric care for her children:

Rep. Ken Buck: Um, is it your position that, uh a uh orthodox Jewish doctor should be required to work with a uh–an orthodox Jewish doctor whose grandparent was killed in the Holocaust be required to work with a–um, a Nazi, uh patient?

The clear suggestion here is that a doctor who doesn’t like gay people would be just as justified in refusing treatment to a gay family as a Jewish person who had ancestors killed in the Holocaust would be justified in refusing to treat a Nazi. Needless to say, this comparison is extremely offensive to both gay and, by cheapening the pertinent history to crassly make Buck’s point, Jewish people.

Yesterday, 9NEWS’ Marshall Zelinger broadcast an interview with Rep. Buck in which he’s asked about this ghastly comparison–and Buck launched into a defense of his words that demonstrates he meant exactly what he said:

“My point was, and it’s similar to the (Masterpiece Cakeshop) baker case in Jefferson County. We’re getting to the point where we’re forcing people to conduct business that they may not want to conduct. We have to be very careful, it’s not a line we haven’t crossed in the past, we’ve certainly crossed that line with African-Americans in the 1950s, ’60s and ’70s, and it was very appropriate not to have segregated lunch counters, not to have segregated buses, but we keep finding more and more groups that we are putting into a category of forcing people to conduct business with,” said Buck.

What Buck is trying to say here is that he doesn’t think LGBT people should be a protected class of people under discrimination law, as they would be under the legislation under debate and are in Buck’s home state of Colorado as well as 20 other states. That’s consistent with the ballot measure Amendment 2 passed by Colorado in 1992 and later found unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court. Buck’s brazen contempt for the law in the state he represents in Congress invites its own criticism.

But more importantly, what Buck’s “clarification” doesn’t contain is any reasonable justification for comparing gay people to Nazis. The underlying assumptions necessary to make this a valid comparison are simply unworkable for anyone who doesn’t virulently hate LGBT people. It seems fundamentally absurd to even have to write this, but the Nazis were directly responsible for the deaths of six million Jewish people, and started a war that killed 50 million people globally. To compare that abominable history to LGBT Americans who want health care without being victims of discrimination is…

It’s sick, folks. And treating this as a defensible viewpoint for a member of Congress from the state of Colorado, not to mention the chairman of the state party, is totally unacceptable. We honestly do believe that in previous years, before Donald Trump desensitized the nation from outrage, Buck would have been compelled to apologize for these comments–not double down on them on prime time TV. But if it isn’t clear from this episode how deep the moral rot in today’s Republican Party runs, erupting to the surface in the hate-rooted recall campaigns against Rep. Rochelle Galindo and Gov. Jared Polis, here may be all the proof you’ll ever need.

Ordinarily one would call on the Colorado Republican Party to stand up against these kinds of outrages, like when Ryan Call called out Vicki Marble for blaming African American health problems on eating too much chicken–but that’s obviously a problem in this case! In the end, despite all the protestations to the contrary, history may be forced to conclude that the unconcealed hatred common in Buck’s horrific analogy and the stated motivations of recall organizers reflects who Colorado Republicans really are.

Want to prove us wrong? For God’s sake, somebody condemn this madness.

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Cory Gardner on Ken Buck: “We need him. I need him. This country needs him.”

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

At last weekend’s Colorado Republican Central Committee meeting, Senator Cory Gardner gave Congressman Ken Buck such a full-throated endorsement that his voice almost cracked.

Nominating Buck for Colorado Republican party Chair, Gardner praised his experience and his fundraising and organizing ability before concluding simply, “We need him. I need him. This country needs him.”

“It’s about our federal government. It’s about all of us. It’s about making sure we are prepared for redistricting and reapportionment. It’s about making sure we raise the money and the resources so we have the dollars to fight the fight. Ken Buck has been in the U.S. Attorney’s Office He’s been Attorney General [he hasn’t] He’s been a district attorney. He’s been in the US Congress. He knows what it takes to bring people together across the four corners of the state. From rural Colorado to urban Colorado and everywhere in between. Ken Buck knows how to organize a party. He knows how to bring the grassroots together. He knows how to bring the people who are going to fight for President Trump together. He knows how to win Colorado in 2020, he knows how to win Colorado in the Senate. He knows how to make sure Hillary Clinton- Guess What? Last Democrat to win Colorado- that’s what’s going to happen. Because Ken Buck’s a fighter. We need him. I need him. This country needs him. And I’m proud to second the nomination of Ken Buck to be our party chair.”

Coming from the highest profile Republican in the room, Gardner’s endorsement helped Buck secure his victory over Rep. Susan Beckman. Three days later, Buck made national news for comparing a lesbian mom to a Nazi to her face during a House Judiciary hearing on the Equality Act.

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Rep. Ken Buck: Gays, Nazis, Same Difference


UPDATE #2: 9NEWS’ Kyle Clark Tuesday evening:

—–

UPDATE: Yahoo! News:

Rep. Ken Buck, R-Colo, posed an even more outlandish scenario to one of the witnesses, Jami Contreras, who faced discrimination in seeking medical care for her child because she is in a same-sex marriage.

“Is it your position,” Buck asked Contreras, “that an Orthodox Jewish doctor whose grandparent was killed in the Holocaust be required to work with a Nazi patient?”

Nazis are not a protected class, meaning that adherents of a political ideology — in this case, fascism — are not covered by the anti-discrimination statute of the Civil Rights Act. A seemingly confused Contreras answered by pointing out that she and her wife were raising their child according to “Christian values” and wanted only protection from prejudice.

—–

Rep. Ken Buck (R).

We’re picking our jaws up off the floor after being sent the video clip you can see above featuring GOP Rep. Ken Buck, the newly-elected chairman of the Colorado Republican Party, questioning a witness testifying on behalf of HR5, the Equality Act–a bill introduced in the U.S. House to amend the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to protect Americans from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in addition the basis of race, sex, religion, and national origin. Colorado already has discrimination protection enshrined in law for LGBT residents, but federal law has never been updated to match the protection that already exists here and in many states.

From Rep. Buck’s questioning of this witness, it’s pretty clear he doesn’t respect Colorado’s version of the law:

Chairman Jerry Nadler: Thank you gentlemen for yielding. The gentleman from Colorado, Mr. Buck?

Rep. Ken Buck: Thank you Mr. Chairman. Ms. Contreras, I want to ask you a quick question, you said in your testimony that, uh that you uh had chosen a doctor, and uh the doctor refused to work with you and another doctor came in and worked with you. Did you receive inferior medical care?

Witness: Uh, possibly. I don’t know, to be honest with you. So we didn’t do any research on that doctor, we didn’t have the opportunity to…

Rep. Ken Buck: Did you have any complaints about the medical care that you received from that doctor?

Witness: There were some things in that uh meeting that were less than what we were looking for and what we expected from a pediatrician, yes.

Rep. Ken Buck: Did you, is your daughter healthy now?

Witness: She was healthy at the time, luckily, yeah.

Rep. Ken Buck: Um, is it your position that, uh a uh orthodox Jewish doctor should be required to work with a uh–an orthodox Jewish doctor whose grandparent was killed in the Holocaust be required to work with a–um, a Nazi, uh patient? [Pols emphasis]

Witness: Um, well, here’s what I, here’s what I believe. I believe that the Religious Freedom Act, uh religious freedoms are a core American value, I think it’s very important, um, I think it’s important that you know that I was raised on Christian values, came from a Christian home. Me and my wife are raising our children on those same values, which is respect everyone, love thy neighbor, treat everyone equally, um, which is…

Rep. Ken Buck: Would you answer my question? Should that doctor be required to take that patient?

Witness: I think that there are some people here who could answer that a little bit better than I could but I think that everyone should be treated equally.

Rep. David Cicilline: Mr. Buck, if you will yield, I’m happy to answer that question.

Rep. Ken Buck: I will not yield, I will not yield.

Rep. David Cicilline: I don’t think Nazis are a protected class…

Rep. Ken Buck: I reclaim my time. I will not yield. Professor Coleman, I have a question for you.

Chairman Jerry Nadler: Gentleman doesn’t want an answer, doesn’t have to yield.

Rep. Ken Buck: Well, that’s a nice cheap shot from the chairman, I appreciate that. I didn’t know the chairman…

Chairman Jerry Nadler: It’s not a cheap shot, it’s a real shot. [Pols emphasis]

You’re reading that right, folks. Rep. Ken Buck just today in the U.S. House of Representatives attacked an LGBT witness testifying about discrimination she experienced trying to obtain medical care for her children by comparing her to a Nazi. There’s a lot we could say about this, from the very reasonable point by Rep. David Cicilline that Nazis are not a protected class of people subject to discrimination to responding at length to the sheer outrageousness of Buck likening this mother’s experience getting medical care for her children with a Nazi seeking treatment for themselves.

The more you try to rationalize this, the worse it gets.

Even in Rep. Buck’s Eastern Plains arch-conservative district, it’s very difficult to imagine a majority of residents standing behind this extremely offensive suggestion. You’ve got to be awfully deep-fried in your disdain for LGBT people to genuinely believe their children should be victimized in a medical setting as if their parents had committed a crime against humanity. At any other time in modern American history, we would think that these scurrilous remarks would be both national news and a career-ending disaster.

But in Trump’s America–and apparently in Buck’s Colorado Republican Party–it’s just another sad day.

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No Fooling: Colorado Republicans Descend Deeper Into the Void


Ken Buck and Steve House

On Saturday, Colorado Republicans selected Rep. Ken Buck to serve as State Party Chairman for the 2020 election cycle. Since Buck is not inclined to give up his day job as a Member of Congress, this means that former GOP Party Chair Steve House will oversee the day-to-day operations of the State Republican Party. This is not an April Fool’s joke.

We’ll get back to House in a moment, but first, a recap: Buck won a narrow victory over State Rep. Susan Beckman on Saturday after four rounds of balloting and a late change from Sherrie Gibson. After failing to generate much interest from Republican voters on the first three ballots, Gibson dropped out of the race for State Chair and endorsed Buck, which was enough to propel the Greeley Congressman to a 51.3% to 47.7% victory over Beckman.

These two paragraphs from John Frank of the Colorado Sun sum up both Buck’s election and the weird state of the Colorado GOP in 2019:

The third top candidate, Sherrie Gibson, the African American former party vice-chairwoman, emphasized the party’s need to diversify, saying the GOP “is not a party of just old men.”

Moments later, she endorsed Buck, 60, saying he’s the best for the job. [Pols emphasis]

In his acceptance speech on Saturday, Buck voiced strong support for President Trump and spewed out a number of highly-partisan statements. As Senator Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) stood behind him, Buck enthusiastically talked up recall efforts in Colorado; cast the 2020 election as a battle between “freedom-loving Republicans versus socialist, corrupt Democrats”; suggested that Hillary Clinton, and not Donald Trump, “colluded” with Russians in 2016; and was defiant about so-called “red flag” gun safety legislation that has widespread support among Colorado voters.

There are those within the Colorado Republican Party who seem to understand that they should make changes in order to better compete with Democrats in 2020, but as Buck demonstrated on Saturday, right-wing rhetoric and Trump love still rule the day for the State GOP. As Justin Wingerter writes for the Denver Post:

Buck will find himself between a Colorado Republican base that strongly backs Trump and moderate Republicans who are uneasy with the bombastic president. But Saturday’s gathering of party officials was loudly supportive of Trump and bitterly critical of any Republicans who say otherwise.

Yet as Ryan Winger of Republican-aligned polling outfit Magellan Strategies explained in February, this blind loyalty to Trump doesn’t fit well in Colorado:

When Republicans say the problem is our guys weren’t enough like Trump, there’s a complete disconnect there between what they’re thinking and what other voters in Colorado are thinking.

This leads us back to House, who was savaged by Trump supporters in 2016 after the State GOP’s anti-Trump sentiments were laid bare.

 

 

Buck’s decision to install House as his right-hand man is a strange move indeed — though not strange enough to deter Republicans with apparently-short memories from going right back to the same well. Republicans seem to have forgotten about how desperate they were to get rid of House ahead of the 2016 election cycle. Efforts to oust House as Party Chairman began literally on the same day that House was elected in 2015 — and several months before the long, strange Coffmangate saga that ultimately turned Colorado Republicans into a national laughingstock.

Consider this 2017 story from John Frank, then of the Denver Post, about House’s decision not to seek another term as Party Chairman:

House served a tumultuous two years as the party’s leader after his historic ouster of the incumbent chairman in 2015 with the backing of the more conservative members of his party.

Months into his term, House faced an unsuccessful coup attempt led by Attorney General Cynthia Coffman that involved accusations of extramarital affairs and threats. And he came under fire in the 2016 election for his perceived bias against Donald Trump, drawing numerous death threats.

Two years later, Republicans are back in the same place — only with significantly more electoral ground to make up after huge Democratic gains in 2018.

Colorado Republicans probably needed to make significant changes in order to be more successful in 2020, but in the end, few in the GOP seemed to be interested in such a move. They’d rather someone like Buck just tell them what he thinks they want to hear.

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Cory Gardner Applauds Ken Buck’s Call for Recalls

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Congressman Ken Buck gave a fiery campaign speech at the Colorado Republicans Central Committee meeting Saturday. Cheered on by U.S. Senator Cory Gardner, Buck hit all the usual red meat issues: guns, abortion, oil and gas, before delivering the coup de grace: a call for recalls.

Buck dared Democrats to “come and take” his guns, invoking Charlton Heston by saying they’d only get them from his “cold dead hands.” He claimed Democrats also want to “kill babies now after birth, while we want to stand up for life at every stage of life.”

Then he mentioned the failed anti-fracking ballot initiative Proposition 112, which Republicans have been claiming shows opposition to an oil and gas safety regulation bill moving through the state legislature.

“They want to shut down the oil & gas industry. We need to remind them [Democrats] that we won Proposition 112 and we need to teach them how to spell “RECALL.”

As he belted out his punchline, “we need to teach them how to spell “R-E-C-A-L-L,” the applause came not only from the audience, but from the three other Republicans who had just endorsed him for party chair: Regent Heidi Ganahl, District Attorney George Brauchler, and U.S. Senator Cory Gardner.

Buck’s speech did its job; the Colorado GOP Central Committee members elected him Chairman. Buck narrowly defeated State Representative Susan Beckman, who had broad support from her colleagues in the legislature, including House Minority Leader Patrick Neville who introduced her.

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Colorado Republicans Pick Ken Buck as Party Chairman


Quad facepalm? Quad facepalm.

Forward into the past, once more!

The Colorado Republican Party selected its new leadership for the 2020 election cycle today. After four rounds of balloting, members of the State GOP boldly decided to just keep doing what they’ve been doing for the last several years in Colorado.

That’s right, friends: Congressman Ken Buck (R-Greeley) is your new State Party Chairman! Buck won a narrow victory over State Rep. Susan Beckman and will now devote some of his time to overseeing the rebuilding of the Republican Party in Colorado. Buck is not giving up his seat in Congress, so instead he’ll hand the controls of the State GOP to Steve House — the same man who drove them off a cliff in 2016 after presiding over the biggest Republican scandal in state history.

It’s also worth noting that Buck becomes the State Republican Party Chairman less than two years after very publicly declaring that “The Republican Party is dead.”

This is the point where we would normally say, “You can’t make this stuff up,” but we don’t want to infringe on what may be the official slogan of the 2020 Republican Party.

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Who’s Running The Polis Recall? Nazis. Yes, Really.


Over the past couple of weeks there have been a number of stories about groups organizing to recall Gov. Jared Polis from office. Because Gov. Polis is constitutionally protected from a recall effort for the for six months he is in office, it has not been possible for these groups to gather any signatures, and the massive requirement of over 600,000 valid signatures makes the attempt as a practical matter highly unlikely. Regardless, the agitation is contributing to the current zeitgeist of GOP rebelliousness against Democrats, who won in an historic landslide election in 2018 leaving Republicans with no way of stopping Democrats from passing desired legislation.

But for all the legitimizing press the Polis recall proponents have received this month, there’s been something very important missing–information about the people behind the effort. And as the Greeley Tribune’s Tyler Silvy reports today in one of the biggest stories ever from that media outlet, this data point is extremely significant.

Because some of them are Nazis.

Recall Governor Jared Polis page, a closed Facebook group, is nearly 30,000 members strong after adopting that name.

Shane Donnelly is one of the admins for the page, and appears to be in charge, as he has called the page “my group,” and commented that he “created this movement.”

He also once posted that Hitler was good to the German people, and “its time america has someone american.” Donnelly hasn’t responded to a Facebook message seeking comment. [Pols emphasis]

There’s no way we can effectively summarize all the the damning detail in this story, so make sure you click through and read it all. The short version is that an online right-wing activist named Shane Donnelly is the principal organizer of the “official” Polis recall closed Facebook group and the issue committee of the same name. The Tribune reports on a recent split between that organization and another group calling itself the Resist Polis PAC. Regardless it’s Donnelly’s group that has almost 30,000 members, the only hard indicator of support that exists for any of this.

And Shane Donnelly is not the only Nazi in the group.

Then there’s the OFFICIAL RECALL ELECTION COMMITTEE, which would discuss potential candidates for election to take Polis’ place should a recall be successful.

Judy Spady is officially involved with both committees, and she’s also an admin for the Facebook group, earning that title following Good’s exodus.

Spady’s public Facebook page is rife with anti-semitic posts, including a post from September 2017 saying “Israel did 9/11,” and another that credits the western world with creating radical Islam to “use fear to push the Jew World Order.” [Pols emphasis]

Now, let’s compare this revelation to the outrage over Minnesota Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar’s comments about “allegiance to a foreign power” in reference to support for Israel, the advisability of which remains a subject of hot contention among Democrats after a push to condemn Omar via a resolution went sideways. Republicans of course had no such division in their ranks, if anything with a few like Rep. Ken Buck of Colorado voting against the watered-down Omar resolution because it didn’t single out anti-Semitism above all other forms of oppression:

In the history of the world, no group has suffered more insidious hatred than the Jews. Anti-Semitism can’t be compared with any other hate speech without marginalizing the history of Jewish oppression. I will not vote to overlook the anti-Semitism which has been covered up by the Democratic leadership…

Well folks, we’re sorry to inform Rep. Buck that the campaign to recall Jared Polis–which he’d better handle with care as a candidate for Colorado Republican Party chairman–is run by people who aren’t at all ambiguous in their hatred of Jewish people.

There’s a lot more to say about this, and it’s time for that conversation to happen. It’s not just that these vile fringe figures were given credibility in multiple news reports that they never deserved. The Recall Polis campaign is trading on the same ginned-up outrage as the recall campaign against House members personally fronted by GOP House Minority Leader Patrick Neville. It’s the same message, motivating the same segment of the electorate. If anything, Neville would love to have the nearly 30,000 members of Donnelly’s Recall Polis group give Neville’s relatively obscure Recall Colorado page a like.

This is who they are. If it’s not who you are, and you’re part of their movement, you know what to do.

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Ken Buck for GOP Chair: Forward Into the Past


The GOP Dream Team? Rep. Ken Buck and Steve House

Ernest Luning of the publication formerly known as the Colorado Statesman has a fascinating new story out today about Rep. Ken Buck (R-Greeley) and his bid to become the next Chair of the Colorado Republican Party. Luning’s story includes a handful of jaw-dropping quotes from various Republican sources in response to a marvelously absurd proposition from Buck outlining how he would lead the GOP into the 2020 elections.

As Luning reports, Buck has apparently been distributing a memo outlining his proposal for how he would oversee the State Republican Party — a plan that includes hiring former State Party Chair Steve House as the GOP’s new “CEO.”

Yes, you read that correctly. Buck’s plan for overseeing the State Republican Party after a disastrous 2018 election cycle is to direct the Party right back to where it was in 2016. We suppose, if you squinted really hard, that you could argue 2016 was not as terrible of a year for Republicans as 2018, but you’d be splitting hairs on the definition of “terrible.”

Darryl Glenn, aka “The Unicorn

Democrat Hillary Clinton easily carried Colorado in the 2016 Presidential race after an embarrassing #NeverTrump movement that was likely driven by the State Party itself. The only major statewide race on the ballot in 2016 was for U.S. Senate, in which Darryl Freaking Glenn emerged from a ridiculous cavalcade of controversial candidates as the GOP nominee against incumbent Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet. The only reason Glenn came within 6 points of Bennet was because Democrats essentially stopped worrying about the race altogether after the June Primary.

And we haven’t even mentioned the infamous “Coffmangate” scandal that turned the State Republican Party into a national laughingstock.

As Luning reports, Buck’s main opponent in the race for Chair teed off on his proposal:

“This is not a part-time job, this is not the time for an absentee chair, this is a leadership position, for an organization that has been failing,” said state chair candidate Susan Beckman, a two-term state representative from Littleton who has said she’ll step down from the General Assembly if she’s elected chair.

Beckman’s response was actually pretty tame compared to this:

Veteran Republican strategist Dick Wadhams, who served two terms as state chairman last decade, said he was stunned after reviewing Buck’s proposal, calling it “unworkable” and “absolutely nonsensical.”

“If Steve House wants to be state chairman, he ought to run for it, and if Ken Buck doesn’t want to be state chairman, he ought to get out of the race,” Wadhams said… [Pols emphasis]

…He also slammed Buck’s plans to run the party from Washington, D.C., saying he was “baffled” by the proposition.

Buck responded to this criticism by expressing surprise that Republicans might object to his regurgitated ideas:

“When you get your butts kicked in every corner of the state, people should shut their mouths and come together and do their very best to help the party and make sure we do our best to get Cory Gardner and Donald Trump elected,” Buck said.

“It’s a little surprising people feel emboldened to be so critical in the open when we have not been very successful.” [Pols emphasis]

This is really the Colorado Republican Party in a nutshell: One of the top contenders to be the next GOP Party Chair is proposing a return to an era in which the Colorado Republican Party was objectively not very successful, and then lashing out at anyone who questions his ideas.

Colorado Republicans will select their new leaders on Saturday, March 30.

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Buck Amps Up The Extremism During Campaign To Be State GOP Chair


(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Rep. Ken Buck (R).

To get a sense of just how deep the partisan divide goes in Colorado, take a look at Ken Buck, who’s running in an obscure election to lead the Colorado Republican Party.

Buck is already known nationally as a leader of the U.S. House Freedom Caucus, a group of the most conservative Congresspeople, unafraid to drive fellow conservatives nuts with their ideological stands on immigration, healthcare, guns, and more.

In recent days, Buck is speaking up here in Colorado, apparently hoping Republican voters are listening.

Buck is adamantly opposing legislation that would require criminal background checks when you transfer a gun to non-family member, even if you know the person (family members are excluded).

Bucks says this wouldn’t allow a priest from seeing “someone that might hurt himself and [saying], ‘Give me that gun.'”

But, Buck objects, the law would stop a foster parent from giving his or her foster child a gun.

Ironic, says Buck, because Democratic policies have “caused the breakdown of the family in this country.”

“And those people that are really suffering as a result of Democratic policies — the War on Poverty has created more poverty – that those people (foster children) that are suffering as a result of Democratic policies now, are going to be prosecuted under this law,” Buck told KHOW’s Krista Kafer.

“Democrats’ hypocrisy knows no bounds!”

Buck likes to talk about hypocrisy. He’s written a book about Washington D.C. that’s overflowing with the word.

But that didn’t stop Buck this week from coming out in favor of Trump’s state of emergency, even though Buck went on and on, for years, about the horrors of Obama’s alleged executive overreach to, among other things, stop the deportation young immigrants who came here as kids and know no other country as their home but America.

“It’s a failure of Congress, certainly,” Buck told KOA, in explaining his support of the state of emergency. “The fact that the Congress is not recognizing the terrible situation we have in this country with heroin, the fact that this Congress is not recognizing the terrible situation we have with transnational gangs that are crossing our southern border, I think is a failure. I think the emergency is that Congress is not acting when it knows the facts.”

But, as has been reported over and over again, the reality and the facts about immigration don’t support Trump’s cry for a wall–or Buck’s.

But will Colorado Republicans, as they vote for their state leader, shun Buck’s hypocrisy or lap it up? Hint: Why did Walker Stapleton woo Tom Tancredo?

(more…)

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Seven Republicans Vote No on Back Pay for Federal Employees


UPDATE: Rep. Ken Buck was apparently misidentified as one of the 7 Republicans voting against back pay for federal employees.


—–

As The Hill reports, Congress is trying to do the right thing for federal workers who will miss their first paycheck today as a result of the government shutdown:

The House on Friday cleared a bill that would ensure back pay for federal workers missing paychecks as a result of the partial government shutdown, as well as guarantee payment for employees affected by any future closures.

The measure passed with broad bipartisan support, 411-7. All seven votes against the bill came from Republicans.

The Senate approved the back pay measure — unanimously — on Thursday, and President Trump says he will sign the legislation. That makes the overall vote total 511-7 in favor of paying federal employees the salary they are currently not receiving through no fault of their own.

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Buck Sides With GOP Establishment in Race To Be Party Chair, Calling Gardner A “Bubbly Ray Of Sunshine”

(But you said, uh… — Promoted by Colorado Pols)

U.S. Rep. Ken Buck (R-CO), who entered the race yesterday to be the leader of Colorado’s Republican Party, threw his unequivocal support behind Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner’s re-election bid in 2020, calling the first-term senator a “bubbly ray of sunshine that puts a smile on the face of the Republican Party. “

But key Colorado Republicans have been frowning, even snarling, at Gardner lately, potentially making Gardner a flashpoint in the race to select Colorado’s next Republican leader.

Some Republicans are calling for Gardner’s ouster from the 2020 GOP ticket. Pueblo County Republican Party Treasurer George Mayfield wants someone to challenge Gardner in a primary.

And GOP activist and KNUS radio host Chuck Bonniwell called Gardner a
“total [whore] for the Chamber of Commerce,” a “Mitch McConnell stooge,” and, “just like” U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman, a “traitor to every [position] he held in 2010.”

But Buck doesn’t see it that way.

BUCK: “To criticize Cory is, I think, short-sighted,” Buck told KNUS radio host Randy Corporon, who was subbing for host Peter Boyles today. “We need the majority in the senate.

“I think Cory is that bubbly, ray of sunshine that puts a smile on the face of the Republican Party. And I really think we are fortunate to have him…. I am absolutely going to support Cory Gardner, President Trump, and the rest the Republican ticket. And I really think that this is going to be an outstanding year for the Republican Party.”

 

Buck’s view is shared by former Colorado Republican leader Dick Wadhams.

Buck generated headlines in 2017 for calling the Republican Party “dead,” run by “special interests” and “weak-kneed senators.”

Asked how he could hold this belief and now seek to be the leader of the GOP in Colorado, Buck responded with this:

BUCK: “When you see a problem, you go forward and you solve that problem. I love the principles of the Republican Party…We have to bet back to those. I’m not going to walk away from the Party. I’m not going to say, “I’m taking my marbles and going home because I disagree with people.”

Buck said he’d remain in Congress if he won the race to be state chair, saying he’s gotten the approval of the House Ethics Committee to hold both jobs.

Buck said he’d change the model of how the state party is run, with the elected chair acting more as a “chairman of the board” and “holding people accountable and raising money,” but not rolling up his “sleeves and getting into the details of the political machinery.”

Complete Colorado reported that others eyeing the state party chair are “Don Ytterberg, CEO of Advanced Surface Technologies and former Republican candidate for the 7th Congressional District; former State Representative and Senator Tom Weins; Sherrie Gibson, current Colorado GOP vice-chairman; and Joshua Hosler, current El Paso County GOP chairman.”

State Rep. Susan Beckman, a Littleton Republican, is also apparently running, Corporon said on air.

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Everyone Wants to be GOP Party Chair (Even Ken Buck)


Ken Buck to the rescue?

Colorado Republicans were positively demolished in the 2018 election cycle, losing their slim majority in the State Senate and giving up all four major statewide offices to Democrats (Governor, Attorney General, State Treasurer, Secretary of State). Republicans desperately need new leadership to guide their wounded flock out of the political wilderness in 2020, which means the soon-to-be-vacant role of State Party Chair is suddenly the most sought-after job in the state.

As 9News reports, there’s a new name atop the list of people vying to succeed Jeff Hays as Chairman of the Colorado Republican Party:

Four sources with knowledge of the process on Wednesday told 9NEWS Congressman Ken Buck will run for chair of the Colorado Republican Party.

The replacement for outgoing party chairman Jeff Hays, who is not seeking another two-year term, will be selected by roughly 500 party insiders at a State Central Committee meeting on March 30.

Buck is presumably making his intentions known because the line for the job is already getting pretty long. Among those who have expressed interest in taking the reins of the State GOP are former Jefferson County Republican Party Chair Don Ytterberg; former State Senator Tom Wiens; current Republican Party Vice-Chairman Sherrie Gibson; El Paso County Republican Chair Joshua Hosler; and State Rep. Susan Beckman of Littleton.

The jockeying to become the next person thrown under the bus Chair of the Colorado Republican Party has always been filled with intrigue, back-stabbing, and complicated rivalries. The job itself isn’t nearly as important as it is made out to be — the 2002 passage of Amendment 27 basically neutered the influence of State Parties in Colorado — but the mythology of the position persists for the GOP.

Buck and others appear to be looking at the chairmanship as a stepping stone to a statewide run in 2022 (Bob Beauprez, you’ll recall, was GOP Chair before running for Congress and Governor). It’s easy to understand the narrative when you consider that Colorado Republicans can’t really do much worse than they did in 2018. As long as the next GOP Chair doesn’t plunder the bank accounts or get somebody killed, they’ll be able to claim ownership of whatever resurgence Republicans can muster in 2020.

“The Republican Party is dead.”

Rep. Ken Buck (7/31/17)

Nevertheless, it is unusual for a sitting Member of Congress to be attempting to take the lead of the State Republican Party. Beckman would likely resign from the legislature if she succeeds in her bid for Chair, but it’s not clear that Buck would do the same. As 9News reports:

Colorado Republican Party spokesman Daniel Cole said he was unaware of any reason why a currently elected official, on the state level or federal level, could not simultaneously lead the state party. Cole could not recall a recent time when the chair of the state GOP was also in elected office.

State Party Chairman used to be more of a volunteer role until Republicans turned it into a full-time salaried position for Dick Wadhams in 2007. It’s hard to see Republicans being interested in the idea of Buck serving as Chair while maintaining his seat in Congress, but that’s not Buck’s biggest problem.

Buck’s biggest hurdle to becoming State GOP Chair is that he already declared the patient to be deceased. Here’s what Buck wrote in a guest commentary for the Denver Post on July 31, 2017:

The Republican Party is dead.

At one time, the blood of the people coursed through its veins, enlivening the party with their values and virtues, their goals and dreams. The party became its own energizing force, compelling people to sacrifice for a higher moral purpose.

But today’s Republican Party abandoned these people. It no longer represents their values. It no longer has a vision for a better America. And no one is stepping up to provide that vision.

Yikes! Good luck walking that one back, Congressman.

The Republican Party is dead. Long live the Republican Party.

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Coffman Kicks The Poor On His Way Out The Door


Outgoing Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Aurora)

The Greeley Tribune’s Tyler Silvy reports on final passage last week of the Agriculture and Nutrition Act of 2018, known in the vernacular as the “farm bill” to set a wide variety of food production and access policies for the next five years–a bill that Rep. Ken Buck, who represents the agribusiness-heavy Eastern Plains of Colorado, voted against:

Ken Buck this past week had his first opportunity to support farmers in the Fourth Congressional District via a final farm bill vote. His “no” vote in the U.S. House of Representatives had some farm advocates scratching their heads, even if they’re still celebrating a landslide victory for the bill…

Buck defended his vote by pointing to the increase in food stamp recipients during the Great Recession, arguing that millions of people who came onto the rolls “got used to food stamps.”

“That’s what we were trying to address,” Buck said. “Those people who got used to food stamps, how do we get them back into the employment world?”

For all of his time in office, Rep. Ken Buck has been reliably frank in his positions–even when they’re politically unpleasant. But left unsaid in Buck’s call for the “takers” of America to put some “skin in the game” in exchange for food stamps is the fact that there are already such requirements in place. Since the last big push for “welfare reform” in 1996, able-bodied food stamp beneficiaries have been limited to three months of benefits every three years without qualifying work, job training, or volunteer service. The GOP’s now-scrapped proposal to increase those work requirements would have directly resulted in 1.2 million fewer Americans every month getting food stamps.

Which is great if you’ve got Buck’s “makers vs. takers” mentality, not so much if you’re, you know, hungry.

But again, Buck is a very predictable Scrooge-y case of ideological lack of sympathy, representing an overwhelmingly conservative district unlikely to ever penalize him for it. But another Colorado vote against the farm bill justified by the same insulting “tough love” approach to food stamp recipients, might surprise some of our readers–the Aurora Sentinel’s Kara Mason:

“I voted for the initial version of this bill, which passed the House of Representatives back in June, largely because it included some significant and important reforms to the food stamp program,” Coffman, who represents mostly suburban Aurora outside of Denver, said in an email to constituents.

“Specifically, it required able-bodied, working-aged individuals who are not the primary caregiver for minor dependent children, either to find some work (part-time or full-time), participate in a job training program, or volunteer with an approved non-profit to remain eligible for SNAP assistance.”

Coffman said the most important part of the Farm Bill was the SNAP program and couldn’t support it without the reforms. [Pols emphasis]

Of course, if you’re familiar with Rep. Mike Coffman’s long record in office–especially before his congressional district was redrawn in 2011 into a diverse swing seat–Coffman’s extolment of the “dignity and and improved self-esteem that comes from work” to undercut food stamp beneficiaries isn’t much of a surprise. This is the same Mike Coffman, after all, who called Social Security a “Ponzi scheme” and once declared himself “a proud member of the ‘Party of No.'” Mike Coffman tried hard and spent big to reinvent his image into “a different kind of Republican,” and it worked all the way up until November of 2018.

In the final days of Mike Coffman’s political career, there’s at last no reason to hide his true colors.

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Buck: Children Being Separated From Parents For Their Own Good


(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Rep. Ken Buck (R).

Despite widespread condemnation of Trump’s mandate to separate immigrant children from their parents at the border, U.S. Rep. Ken Buck (R-CO) doubled down on his support for the Trump policy today, telling a radio host that the “children are being separated from their parents out of consideration for their own safety.”

In radio comments last week, Buck blamed the parents of the children, saying it’s “unfortunate” that immigrants choose to cross the border illegally.

And so it’s “just a sad reality that there is going to be some unfortunate separation of individuals when crimes are committed.”

On KOA radio this morning, host April Zesbaugh asked Buck if he agreed with U.S. Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-CO) who called for the immediate cessation of the “policy that separates kids from their families.”

Buck:I rarely agree with Ed, but I like Ed a lot. But no, I think that it is terribly unfortunate when kids are separated from their families. But the reality is there has to be a responsibility taken by parents who bring kids to this country illegally or who don’t go through the proper asylum procedure when coming into this country. Putting kids in a detention facility with adults is a dangerous situation that’s not done in this country in our criminal system. And where these families are going are to detention centers. And so there is a public safety issue for these kids that has to be taken into account also. It doesn’t change the fact that it’s a terribly unfortunate situation. But I think that the Trump administration — and previous administrations — have had a tough time dealing with how to deal with — or how to address — families that are that are coming into this country legally.

On the same show this morning Perlmutter said Trump “of course” has the power to stop immigrant kids from being separated from their parents, pointing out that Trump’s attorney general, Jeff Sessions, launched the policy this year–and that under previous Democratic and Republican presidents, this did not happen to children at the border, even though past administrations had the power to do it.

“I think it’s illegal and it is immoral to be separating these kids from their families,” said Perlmutter, calling the situation an “emergency” in which kids are being “housed in cages.”

“It’s just wrong,” said Perlmutter.

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State Assemblies End; The Big Line Updates


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

You may now commence with your complaints…

(P.S.: The Big Line)

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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.

 

 

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The Big Budget Deal, Guns, and Gardner


Trump sign bill, but Trump still mad!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Senator Cory Gardner (R-Yuma).

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

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

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

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

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

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Ken Buck: Leave Donald Trump Alone!


Rep. Ken Buck (R).

As the Greeley Tribune’s Tyler Silvy reports, Rep. Ken Buck, the former District Attorney for Weld County before being elected to Congress, is tired of all this investigating of our Dear Leader already:

Rep. Ken Buck said Wednesday he’s concerned the special counsel investigation has gone beyond its original scope, saying the law allowing the special prosecutor undermines the integrity of U.S. elections.

The Greeley Tribune reached out to Buck and Sen. Cory Gardner, R-Colo., in the wake of the firing of former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, statements from President Donald Trump’s attorney regarding the special counsel investigation and tweets from the president on the same topic…

Buck, a former federal prosecutor, didn’t directly answer whether he ever found things he wasn’t looking for during the course of his investigations. Instead, he said he was never given unlimited resources or unlimited time to investigate someone.

“No federal prosecutor has ever worked on a case like this,” Buck said. “This law is fundamentally flawed. It undermines the integrity of our elections if we’re going to investigate anything a president could have done wrong.” [Pols emphasis]

Rep. Buck seems to forget the expansive prosecutorial discretion enjoyed by the special prosecutor charged by Republicans in Congress to investigate…well, anything they could possibly find or conjure to impugn the integrity of former President Bill Clinton. An investigation that began with real estate deals ended up producing articles of impeachment over oral sex with an intern. The fact remains that crimes committed during the course of an investigation, like perjury and obstruction, are still crimes. By contrast, the investigation into the Trump campaign’s alleged collusion with Russians to win the election has been hewing pretty closely to the original stated scope–and, we might add, fruitfully.

But seriously, folks. If you poll 100 people about whether we should “investigate anything a president could have done wrong,” we’re pretty sure the answer is going to be an enthusiastic yes in about 99% of cases. The only exception to that would most likely be sycophant cronies of the president.

Perhaps Rep. Buck just self-ID’ed as one?

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