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

Walker Stapleton.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Get More Smarter on Wednesday (August 15)

A man, a plan, a canal, Panama (the Panama Canal opened on this day in 1914). It’s time to Get More Smarter. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of a visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show.



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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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


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


Get even more smarter after the jump…


Behold! The Dumbest Thing You Will Read This Year!

UPDATE (6:39 pm): This ridiculous editorial has apparently caught the attention of other journalists around Colorado, which has prompted the Gazette to make a bunch of changes throughout the day (as documented by Westword).

It gets better.

These discussions eventually led to this exchange between Colorado Independent columnist Mike Littwin and Gazette editorial page editor Wayne Laugesen. If you were silently hoping that Laugesen would try to spin this disaster as high-level satire that readers just don’t understand…well, you got your wish:

“Rhetorical reductio ad absurdism,” which translates roughly to, “This is a steaming pile of crap.”


Actual screenshot from the Colorado Springs Gazette (August 14, 2018)

The editorial board of the Colorado Springs Gazette today barfed out 726 of the most impressively stupid words you are likely to ever read in an actual newspaper. If there is Pulitzer Prize for petulance, the members of the Gazette editorial board might as well start writing up their acceptance speech.

The purpose of Tuesday’s long, meandering editorial is to decry stories about Republican gubernatorial candidate Walker Stapleton and his great-grandfather, the Ku Klux Klan-loving former Denver Mayor Benjamin Stapleton. This nonsense was presumably crafted in order to come to Walker Stapleton’s defense – something the Gazette has never been shy about doing in the past – but using an entire editorial page to flog this very issue is hilariously counterproductive. You know what definitely does not help Stapleton’s cause when it comes to stories about his family history with the KKK? Using 726 words to talk about Stapleton’s family ties to the KKK.

At least they’re spelling his name right.

Before we get to the actual “arguments” being attempted by the Gazette, let us again remind you why this issue continues to haunt Stapleton’s campaign: Because Walker Stapleton inexplicably refuses to just say that he condemns his great-grandfather’s coziness with the Klan. That’s it. There are plenty of self-inflicted wounds in politics, but this is more akin to letting a minor cut become a gangrenous infection simply because you refuse to apply a band-aid.

Let’s continue this metaphor as we break down the Gazette’s unintentionally-hilarious decision to pour raw sewage into Stapleton’s wound…


Even More Silly California Bashing–Who Is This Aimed At?


9NEWS’ Marshall Zelinger takes a look at another ad running in the Colorado governor’s race, once again demonizing the state of California as a segue into attacking Democratic nominee Jared Polis:

RadiCalifornia is back.

There is another political ad calling out Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jared Polis and suggesting he’s trying to turn Colorado into California: “RadiCalifornia.”

The ad ends with a suggestion to call Polis at his Washington, D.C. Congressional office. So, is this an ad about Polis’ gubernatorial campaign or his job as a Congressman?

The ad is paid for by State Solutions, Inc., which is a non-profit issue-advocacy group connected with the Republican Governors Association. The RGA produced the previous “RadiCalifornia” scrabble ad.

Like we said when the original “RadiCalifornia” ad ran in late July, the whole premise of this attack doesn’t make a lot of sense to us. It’s true that California’s tax and regulatory burden is overall higher than Colorado’s, but the presumed negative consequences of this aren’t explained convincingly. If you have some kind of predisposed hatred of the state of California, we suppose you’ll fill in the blanks.

But seriously, how many Colorado voters hate California enough to do that? This strikes us as an idea that sounded really good in a strategy session of political operatives, but has absolutely no resonance with ordinary people. The fact is that a very large percentage of the population of Colorado was not born here, and plenty of those folks hail from the Golden State themselves. California’s natural beauty is renowned, their unemployment rate is at a record low, and the state’s economy is bigger than most nations of the world.

So what exactly is, you know, the problem?

The only other thing we can add to this curious discussion is a little data. Neither Jared Polis nor his running mate Dianne Primavera were born in California, in fact they were both born here in Colorado: Polis in Boulder, and Primavera in Denver. By contrast, Republican nominee Walker Stapleton and his running mate Lang Sias were born in the state of Connecticut. Obviously a contest between Colorado and Connecticut is no contest–so we’ll ask the question another way.

Which state sucks more?
View Result


With all due respect to the Republican Governors Association, this just doesn’t seem like a winning message.

Pundits Plead With Stapleton To Address KKK Great-Grandpa

Members of the Ku Klux Klan march in a parade on Larimer Street in Denver, Colorado May 31, 1926.

A story this weekend from the Denver Post’s John Aguilar and Ben Botkin once again revisits the story that Walker Stapleton used to lead with, and now runs away from: his great grandfather Benjamin Stapleton, who gives Walker most of his “Colorado native” bonafides but also saddles him with a legacy of Ku Klux Klan dominance of local politics during Benjamin Stapleton’s time in office.

This latest recap takes a fairly amusing turn as local members of the pseudo-centrist pundit class practically beg Stapleton to address the situation, after his responses to previous inquiries on the subject have revealed he really doesn’t know what to say:

“You can’t just ignore it,” said Eric Sondermann, a political analyst who has long kept an eye on state politics. “In this era of independent expenditures, it’s going to continue to come up.”

By independent expenditures, Sondermann is referring to the millions of dollars that interest groups not affiliated with political candidates have pumped into Colorado elections in recent years and will undoubtedly do again in 2018. Whether a third-party group decides to run an ad attempting to link Stapleton to his great-grandfather’s racist leanings, the candidate needs to be prepared — even proactive — about blunting any such attack, he said…

Pollster and political analyst Floyd Ciruli said Stapleton need not shine a light on the issue unsolicited but should have a response ready to go if the topic comes up.

The problem with this too-public telegraphing of concern to Stapleton’s campaign is that it’s already well past time to address the story. This weekend’s prominent piece in the Denver Post follows a similarly high-profile write-up in the New York Times two weeks ago, and Stapleton’s response to that story was totally inadequate. Stapleton has staked his dubious “Colorado native” identity on his great-grandfather, and in the 2009 campaign video you can watch above he celebrated Ben Stapleton’s leadership of Denver with no mention whatsoever of the Ku Klux Klan’s control of the city.

It’s not just that Walker Stapleton wants to have it both ways on his family’s KKK ties. For almost a decade, Stapleton has had it both ways. He has freely traded on his Stapleton family name to advance in Colorado politics without having to answer for the dark side of that legacy. Stapleton has had innumerable chances to address this, and has chosen not to.

At this point, any change of course looks like an election-season ploy–because it is. Maybe six months ago, it could have been different. Or in 2010.

Blowing The Dog Whistle With Lang Sias

Rep. Lang Sias (R).

A story today in the Grand Junction Sentinel from reporter Gabrielle Porter covers Republican “Lite Gov” nominee Lang Sias, delivering in Grand Junction yesterday what seems to be the party’s central message about Democratic nominee Jared Polis: he’s from the dreaded socialist hellhole of Boulder, he’s so super far lefty-left that he would be as bad as [insert 20th Century Marxist tyrant here], and that everybody he knows is excited to “work with” Walker Stapleton:

Republican lieutenant governor candidate Lang Sias may have been speaking to at least one self-described “hard-core conservative” at a Grand Junction eatery Saturday afternoon.

But more than focus on his own resume — which includes three years as a state legislator and nearly three decades in the military with stints as a Navy fighter pilot before being tapped as running mate to GOP gubernatorial pick Walker Stapleton — the Arvada resident spent considerable time Saturday casting his as the more moderate ticket.

But then, in one of Colorado’s reddest towns and surrounded by the friendliest of fellow conservatives, Sias took the rhetoric a step further:

To laughs, Sias said he’s heard from several Democrats who he claimed confided in him that they plan to vote for Walker because “the alternative is 50 shades of crazy.” [Pols emphasis]

Full stop. We have little doubt that Sias and the Stapleton campaign will protest mightily at the suggestion that this little wisecrack was an example of what’s known in politics as “blowing the dog whistle”–a statement that thinly conceals its true intention of invoking prejudice against its target, picked up clearly by a prejudicial audience. Be assured that we absolutely do understand what what Lias was saying to a crowd of Mesa County GOP faithful–not trying to say, broadcasting loud and clear–and it is not acceptable. Stapleton himself is such a poorly composed public speaker that he can’t be trusted to pull off this kind of delicate work, so it appears to have fallen to “moderate” Rep. Sias to lay down the “dog whistle” smear the base wants.

There’s going to be more of this, folks. The coded attacks on Polis’ personal life that are being mounted right now by Stapleton’s campaign–and you can’t deny it’s the campaign now–are as ugly as they are inevitable. The full display of that animus between now and November is going to compel Colorado voters to make a fundamental choice.

As for Lang Sias, perhaps we did expect a little better. Clearly we shouldn’t have.

Stapleton Still Embracing Tancredo, Whose Jaw-Dropping Racism Hits Another Low

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Tom Tancredo is always comfortable in front of a microphone, even when his words are making his audience uncomfortable. That’s exactly what the most prominent Republican to endorse Walker Stapleton did July 30 at the Jefferson County Republican Men’s club, when he delivered racist comments about black student athletes at his alma mater, Northeastern Junior College.

Musing about the racial and religious quotas imposed on his college’s dormitories by the Klan-influenced local government, Tancredo, a former Congressman, wondered why the restrictions didn’t apply to the whole school rather than just the students at the residences:

Tancredo: “I always wondered, why just the dorms? If you’re gonna have a quota, why not on everything. I dunno, they needed black players, I guess, on the team.”

The anti-immigrant firebrand’s influence with the GOP base is exactly why Stapleton asked the conservative icon to introduce and nominate him at the Republican state assembly. That said, Tancredo’s remark about the Klan’s relaxed racial quota when it came to black athletes fell flat on the conservative audience, which appeared to be shocked by the comment.

Undeterred, he stuck with his racist theme by promoting “a great book,” Losing Ground by Charles Murray, which argues for abolishing welfare. The sociologist has also argued that African-Americans tend to be less intelligent than white Americans and that genetic differences between the races are partially responsible. Current Affairs magazine wrote an extensive profile of Murray’s racist writings in a feature piece, “Why Is Charles Murray Odious?” Tancredo acknowledged the author’s controversial status, noting, “Of course, everyone gets scared the minute you say his name.”  

Yet he proceeded to rattle off statistics from the book, showing a decline in numbers of traditional nuclear African-American families and an increase in “black-on-black murders” since the 1950s and ascribing that decline to “the war on poverty.” “[The government] started paying people not to have a male in the household.”

He went on to claim that African-Americans “used to have a higher commitment to Christianity than whites,” but “that’s all changed and it was because of the destruction of the family structure.”

In Tancredo’s other roles, including frontman for an anti-immigrant 501c4 nonprofit, occasional radio host, and social media personality, his continual race-baiting and sometimes flat-out racist statements fall on generally friendly ears.

Ever since Walker Stapleton used Tancredo’s name and brand to secure the Republican nomination however, pundits have noted that ultra-conservative firepower that proved so useful before the primary will likely become a liability in November.

Mike Littwin made this exact point in his July 25 column in the Colorado Independent, writing “Enter Tancredo, who was brought in to help Stapleton appeal to the assembly’s right-wing fringe. It worked then. But how about in November?”

Littwin’s argument matched that of pundit Eric Sondermann, who a month earlier on RMPBS Colorado Inside Out said,

“I think Walker Stapleton is making a number of strategic errors here… To have Tom Tancredo give his nominating speech at the convention in Boulder…you don’t think that one will come back to bite him come September, October, etc.? In tennis, it’s called ‘unforced errors.’”

In his speech nominating Walker Stapleton to Colorado Republicans at the state assembly in April, Tancredo gave two reasons for his presence.

First he said it was because “the day after the election, I want to see all those liberal looneys running with their heads in their hands, looking for a safe space because they can’t handle what just happened to them.”

He concluded by saying, “the only reason I am here and I am proud as I can be to do it, is to place into the nomination for the Republican governor of Colorado, Walker Stapleton.”

If Tancredo continues to make blatantly racist statements in public and the pundits are correct, then some people will indeed have their heads in their hands November 7, just not the ones Tancredo is thinking of.

More Carnage: Stapleton’s LG Timeline Blows Up in His Face

Pro tip: Don’t order your campaign plan from the Acme Corporation

A successful campaign is a lot like a popular Disney cartoon (but with fewer original songs): It tells a good story centered around a compelling protagonist, with a narrative that keeps even casual viewers engaged and invested in a favorable outcome for the main character. Usually there is even a moral lesson involved. You know these stories well – The Lion King, Beauty and the Beast, Frozen, Cars

To keep this analogy going, troubled campaigns tend to veer from a narrative arc and instead end up stitching together incongruent scenes that viewers largely forget the moment they change the channel. This is the same approach that begets Looney Tunes shorts with Wile E. Coyote or animated series like Tom & Jerry. There is no real storyline here; you’re basically just killing time until a piano falls onto somebody’s head.

As we’ve detailed in this space on more than one occasion, Republican gubernatorial candidate Walker Stapleton is running a statewide campaign based on a kit he purchased from the Acme Corporation. It’s hard to develop a positive narrative when your main character falls through an open manhole cover every few days.

Walker Stapleton

So it is that we get to the latest in a series of ridiculous blunders from Team Stapleton. It has been nearly a month since Stapleton’s campaign inexplicably screwed up the seemingly-simple task of choosing a Lieutenant Governor (LG) running mate, but this strange saga is nowhere near completion. Let us recap: In early July, Stapleton’s campaign tried to make it look like Democrat Jared Polis was rushing his announcement of Dianne Primavera as his choice for LG. At some point around this same time period, Team Stapleton realized that there was actually a legal requirement to select an LG within seven days of the June 26 Primary, which had them scrambling to pretend that they had already picked a running mate (after at least one rejection) but were waiting to announce the choice until later in the month. Local reporters quickly caught on to Stapleton’s latest blunder, and on July 11 the campaign rushed out an announcement that State Rep. Lang Sias had agreed to be Stapleton’s running mate (if you don’t think this move was rushed, just look at the sign on the podium at the press conference).

Former Ft. Collins City Council Member Gino Campana

Stapleton’s LG screwup was almost fading into yesterday’s news until a story on Sunday in the Ft. Collins Coloradoan, in which local developer Gino Campana blew up the Stapleton campaign’s LG explanation in a boastful interview about how he was very nearly Stapleton’s choice for a running mate:

Two days before state Treasurer Walker Stapleton announced Republican lawmaker Lang Sias was his pick in the race for governor, the team was still vetting Campana as a potential running mate. Campana said the media attention around Stapleton’s pick, announced July 11, helped move the campaign’s announcement up by a week or more. [Pols emphasis]

He said he and Stapleton “couldn’t get things to align between the two of us.”

[Insert sound of record scratching]

On July 3, we discussed in this space that Stapleton’s campaign looked to have broken the law by not selecting a running mate within seven days of the Primary Election. At 3:09 pm on July 3, Stapleton apparently sent an email to Sias (according to documents from the SOS), thanking him for accepting Stapleton’s offer to be his running mate. Sias submitted a notarized affidavit of acceptance to the SOS office that was dated July 11, the same day as the rushed press conference announcing Sias as Stapleton’s LG (Stapleton said during that press conference that Sias had agreed to be his running mate on July 2).

But according to the Coloradoan and Gino Campana, Stapleton’s campaign was still vetting Campana as a potential running mate as recently as July 9.

This entire fiasco is another mess for Stapleton, and it’s not over yet. Either Campana is lying or Team Stapleton is lying; they can’t both be telling the truth.

If Sias truly accepted Stapleton’s offer on July 2 (or July 3), then why would Stapleton’s campaign still be talking to Campana at all?

Was Stapleton not comfortable with Sias as his running mate? Did Sias know this?

Or did Sias not actually agree to Stapleton’s offer in early July, as Team Stapleton submitted to the SOS office on July 11?

Selecting a running mate is not rocket surgery, but somehow Stapleton’s campaign managed to turn a simple task into a month-long problem. This is Stapleton’s entire campaign in a nutshell, and it makes it easy for his opponents to paint him as a candidate who is not at all prepared for the job of running an entire state government.

Just like the Road Runner in Looney Tunes, it would seem that Polis needs only to keep his head down and keep running while Stapleton finds new ways to hurt himself.

Ruh-Roh: Walker Stapleton Fundraising Stalling Out

Perpetually perplexed

Republican gubernatorial candidate Walker Stapleton has been running into one problem after another since winning the June 26 Republican Primary, and now he’s going to have to figure out a way to explain some pretty terrible fundraising numbers.

Democrat Jared Polis reported raising $1,632,021 in the last month, leaving his campaign with $1,268,081 cash on hand. Most of this money comes from Polis’ own bank account — he has now contributed about $12.9 million of his own money to his campaign. Polis appears to be plenty comfortable spending millions more in order to win in November, which puts a lot of pressure on Stapleton to keep up (before you shed a tear for Stapleton, remember that he is independently wealthy in his own right and has a massive fundraising base thanks to his Bush family ties).

Stapleton’s fundraising has been pretty weak since capturing the GOP nomination in June. Stapleton raised just $255,042 in the last month — $80,000 of which came from the Colorado Republican Party — leaving his campaign with $301,811 cash on hand. These numbers are similar to those posted by Republican gubernatorial candidate Bob Beauprez in July 2014* ($261,006 raised, $235,413 cash on hand) when Beauprez was challenging incumbent Governor John Hickenlooper. It’s a lot easier to raise money for an open seat, but Stapleton’s numbers haven’t borne that out. *Note: We’re not comparing fundraising numbers from 2010 and earlier, when Colorado still held its Primary Election in August.

Stapleton is getting some financial support from the Republican Governor’s Association (RGA), which has contributed more than $1 million to a SuperPAC created to boost his chances in November. Stapleton will also benefit from spending by Better Colorado Now, a SuperPAC essentially created in order to support Stapleton, though the committee only had about $18,000 in the bank according to its latest report.

Stapleton was always the General Election opponent that Democrats were hoping to face, and his bumbling performance in the last few months has only strengthened that belief. In the weeks following the June 26 Primary, Stapleton botched an announcement about his choice for Lieutenant Governor; was forced to correct embarrassing errors on his personal financial disclosures; invited President Trump to campaign with him in Colorado; faced serious concerns about his performance as State Treasurer (concerns that were exacerbated by his own boneheaded responses); and has continued to deal with stories about ancestral ties to the Ku Klux Klan. Oh, and don’t forget weird stories about accusing former nannies of stealing underwear and sippy cups.

If not for the possibility of more outside spending help, Stapleton would be in big trouble heading into the final months of the campaign. Stapleton’s weak fundraising means that he’ll be forced to rely on outside help — particularly from the RGA — if he hopes to win in November. If polling numbers don’t improve for Stapleton in the next 6 weeks, the RGA will likely start to pull back in Colorado and look to maximize its investments in other states.

If and when that happens, Stapleton will be a dead man walking.

The Stapletons Once Accused Their Nanny Of Stealing Their Underwear, A Sippy Cup

(This line about the Stapleton’s trying to set a trap for the nanny is amazing: “It didn’t work, however, because Walker Stapleton forgot how much money he left in the book as bait, according to the police report.” — Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Walker Stapleton

Republican candidate for governor Walker Stapleton and wife Jenna Stapleton once filed a police report accusing one of their three nannies of stealing several of their belongings, including thousands of dollars worth of jewelry, a $500 belt, a $200 hat, their son’s sippy cup, their daughter’s hair bows, and their underwear.

The 2015 report from the Greenwood Village Police Department explains that during that period of time, the Stapletons traveled often, and frequently left their children with three nannies. After being unable to locate several items, Jenna Stapleton began to suspect that one of their nannies had been stealing.

But before taking matters to the police, Jenna and Walker attempted to set a trap, placing twenty dollar bills sticking visibly out of a book in hopes that they would catch the suspected nanny in the act of stealing.

It didn’t work, however, because Walker Stapleton forgot how much money he left in the book as bait, according to the police report.

Jenna Stapleton then went to the Greenwood Village Police Department to report missing items: first, she told them, it was her daughter’s hair bows, which she noticed were gone after returning from vacation. Then, a ruby and diamond encrusted gold bracelet from her jewelry box, one of her earrings (which she later found, but still suspected the nanny tried to steal), a belt, and a hat. And then there was the case of the missing sippy cup and a few pairs of Walker and Jenna’s undergarments. Jenna didn’t remember exactly how many pairs of underwear, according to the report.

So why the suspicion? And why only accuse one of the three nannies?


Polis, Stapleton To Debate–A Lot

Jared Polis (L) and Walker Stapleton

A press release yesterday afternoon from Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jared Polis announces a slew of upcoming debates and forums in which he’ll be mixing it up with Republican Walker Stapleton–including several events in which Polis’ former primary opponents will stump on his behalf:

Jared Polis today announced he will participate in 13 gubernatorial debates and forums throughout the state of Colorado and challenged his opponent Walker Stapleton to do the same.

“Voters in every community across Colorado deserve to know how we plan to address the biggest challenges facing their families — from rising expenses and flat paychecks, to the cost of health care, to the need for better funding for our public schools,” Jared Polis said. “I am excited to attend these 13 debates and forums and discuss my positive vision to fight for a Colorado where every family has the opportunity to get ahead.”

“We were disappointed to see Walker Stapleton agree to only nine debates and forums,” Polis for Colorado spokesperson Mara Sheldon said. “But it’s not surprising to see Mr. Stapleton minimizing public appearances, since he has a track record of doing that throughout the primary. At one debate he declared he had not learned anything from being caught lying repeatedly and asked industry lobbyists for ‘a lot more’ campaign contributions. We hope that Mr. Stapleton will agree to these four additional debates and forums.” [Pols emphasis]

Polis and Stapleton are set to debate in all corners of the state, from Mesa State University in Grand Junction to the Pueblo Chieftain. They’ll also debate for all three major Denver television networks and KOAA-TV in Colorado Springs. In addition, Polis plans to attend numerous chamber of commerce and other civic group forums where (presumably) both candidates will slug it out indirectly. And if that’s not enough, Polis says his three primary challengers Cary Kennedy, Mike Johnston, and Donna Lynne will all appear as surrogates at campaign events:

  • Mike Johnston — Colorado Organization for Victim Assistance forum
  • Donna Lynne — Club 20 debate
  • Cary Kennedy will stand in for Jared at an event to be announced in the coming weeks.

Safe to say that by the end of this campaign season, the two sides will be well acquainted–and voters with both. Are you excited? Because we’re excited.

Don’t Discuss Stapleton and the KKK: A Discussion

Front page of Denver Post Op-Ed section, July 29, 2018

Did you hear about Republican gubernatorial candidate Walker Stapleton’s family connections to the Ku Klux Klan? Because if you didn’t, we know of a conservative columnist who would like to remind you all about it!

Walker Stapleton’s great-grandfather is Benjamin Stapleton, who served as Denver’s Mayor in the 1920s thanks in large part to his close ties with the KKK. This is not a particularly new revelation — Walker even spoke on-camera about great-grandfather Ben when he first ran for State Treasurer in 2010 — but the connection gained new light last week after a long story published in the New York Times. From Times reporter Julie Turkewitz: 

Mr. Stapleton, the candidate for governor, once embraced his great-grandfather, making Benjamin’s Stapleton’s civic work a top reason to elect him treasurer.

“My great-grandfather served five terms as Denver’s mayor in the 1920s, in the 1930s, in the 1940s,” he said in a 2009 campaign ad, ticking off the elder Stapleton’s accomplishments — building the airport, reinvigorating the park system. “I’m really proud of my family’s public service.” [Pols emphasis]

But as residents have become more aware of his family’s ties to the Klan, Mr. Stapleton has had to tread more carefully, mostly dropping mentions of his great-grandfather from his campaign.

“It’s 100 years ago, 30 years before I was born,” he said when the Colorado Independent raised the issue recently. “If everybody started trying to apologize or explain what happened with ancestors of theirs who died 30 years before they were born, people would be doing a lot of explaining.”

On Sunday, the Denver Post published a 635-word column from conservative commentator Mario Nicolais inaccurately decrying the Times story as a “hit piece” and “yellow journalism.” The column included a big headline (see photo at top right) with Walker Stapleton’s name next to a gigantic photo of a Klan rally in Denver in 1926. This is probably not helpful for Walker Stapleton.

If the point of Nicolais’ rant was to actually draw more attention to a story that readers of the Sunday Denver Post might otherwise have missed, then we’d say this entire exercise was a smashing success. The second paragraph of Nicolais’ column includes a detailed link to the very same New York Times story that so concerns him:

The Times article details the Ku Klux Klan affiliation of Stapleton’s great-grandfather, Benjamin Stapleton — Denver’s former mayor and a man who died decades before Stapleton himself was born. If the article had stuck to Benjamin Stapleton, and the legitimate discussion of neighborhoods and schools named after him, I might have a different opinion.

But, of course, we aren’t talking about an article that “sticks” only to the topic of Benjamin Stapleton, because it would be completely irrelevant if not for the fact that Benjamin’s great-grandson is running for Governor in 2018. This all makes Nicolais very sad, and he makes sure to explain to readers why this is troublesome for Walker Stapleton:

Tying any string between a candidate and the Ku Klux Klan, no matter how tenuous or twisted, brands the candidate like cattle. The actual process might be short, but the pain and lasting mark stick with the candidate.

If Walker Stapleton had in any way sympathized or supported the Ku Klux Klan, I’d be in favor of this treatment. After all, the Ku Klux Klan is a despicable stain on American history. It is composed of terrorists responsible for many of America’s worst human rights atrocities.

This argument glosses over a very important point: Walker Stapleton has NEVER publicly decried his family ties to the KKK. He’s actually done the opposite — expressing pride in his family’s accomplishments.

Walker is certainly not responsible for the actions of his ancestors. None of us bear that responsibility, but we can always voice our opinion that those actions were wrong. It would have been easy for Walker to say something like this: I find the KKK reprehensible and I’m embarrassed that my family lineage is associated with the Klan in any way. But Walker didn’t say that. The closest he’s come to addressing this subject in a meaningful way is to say “I absolutely condemn racism,” which is nice, but not the same thing. In fact, there is evidence that Walker Stapleton has tried to scrub his family ties to the KKK from a Colorado history museum while he continually refuses to publicly decry those ties.

Let’s get back to the column that started this post. Nicolais channels his inner-Schrödinger when he takes care to point out why a story about Stapleton’s family ties to the Ku Klux-freaking-Klan is so dangerous for the candidate.

Even worse, it trapped Stapleton and the entire gubernatorial race in its vortex. Stapleton can’t talk about the issue, even to disclaim his great-grandfather’s affiliation, because that will only pour fuel on the fire. If he engages, then the entirety of the Colorado progressive movement will bombard his campaign with follow-ups and follow-ups to follow-ups and parsed responses pulled out of context. It makes little sense to anyone who hasn’t worked at the center of high profile campaigns, but after two decades in the field, I recognize the pattern.

Stapleton knows that Coloradans deserve a better debate. And, for the sake of fairness, so does his opponent, Jared Polis. To his credit, Polis’ campaign has not raised the issue. Maybe they recognize that outside groups will do the work; one liberal blog banner blared “Oh Noes! KKKapleton makes The New York Times.” [Pols Note: Hey, that’s us!] Regardless, resisting the temptation to pile on is difficult. Let’s hope Polis continues along the high road.

In short, Nicolais argues here that Walker Stapleton can’t talk about his family ties to the KKK because it is a no-win situation for him.

The irony was not lost on us that he makes this argument in a column that is all about Walker Stapleton’s family ties to the KKK.

Republicans Betting Big on Colorado Into California Message

The Republican Governor’s Association (RGA) came out this week with its first General Election advertisement for 2018, attacking Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jared Polis by saying he “wants to turn Colorado into California.” The ad is…well, it’s not very good, but how about that message?

We’ve heard this “turning Colorado into California” narrative from Republicans since at least the beginning of the year — GOP nominee Walker Stapleton used it regularly during Republican gubernatorial debates — and it continues to get a lot of use. Critics of new vehicle emissions standards being pushed by Gov. John Hickenlooper have been taking a similar approach in their finger-wagging responses.

Republicans no doubt have some kind of polling and/or focus group data telling them that “turning Colorado into California” is a winning message in 2018. They seem determined to push this narrative at all costs, though it’s unclear how effective it might become. Sometimes these cute slogans can be winners, but just as often they fizzle because they are too overdone. The “Frontier Fairness” slogan that Mike Johnston briefly promoted in early 2017 was probably tested and re-tested, but once you get outside of focus groups where you don’t have the luxury of providing more context, the words lose meaning in a hurry.

Maybe we’re completely wrong here and “turning Colorado into California” is a home run of a message. It just sounds a bit…silly.

You can check out the ad yourself below:

Oh Noes! KKKapleton Makes The New York Times

WEDNESDAY UPDATE: Joey Bunch at the Colorado Springs Gazette attempts to throw Walker Stapleton a lifeline, in a story today giving Stapleton a wide-open chance to respond to the New York Times report on his family’s history with the Ku Klux Klan–a chance Stapleton notably fails to take:

Colorado Politics has sought for months to have a discussion with Stapleton about his great-grandfather’s ties to the KKK. On Tuesday he said this:

“All reasonable people understand my great-grandfather died in 1950, about 25 years before I was even born. (I) am focusing on the future.”

That answer isn’t even close to sufficient, particularly after you watch the campaign video above in which Stapleton extolls his great-grandfather’s record as Mayor of Denver with no acknowledgement of Benjamin Stapleton’s leadership role in the KKK whatsoever. Though many would argue Stapleton’s Bush family cousins aren’t exactly a highlight either, Stapleton can’t campaign on his family history while ignoring its most controversial data point. Stapleton is never going to get a more friendly reporter or outlet. This was a chance to respond eloquently and take this whole line of attack off the table for Democrats, and Stapleton punted instead.

Maybe the Stapleton clan just don’t have an answer they’re comfortable saying out loud.


Members of the Ku Klux Klan march in a parade on Larimer Street in Denver, 1926.
Credit: Western History/Genealogy Dept., Denver Public Library

The Colorado political chattering class woke up this morning to a story in the New York Times that resurfaces a controversy Republican gubernatorial candidate Walker Stapleton has tried mightily to avoid during his campaign for governor–his great grandfather Benjamin Stapleton’s avowedly (at least at first) pro-Ku Klux Klan administration as the mayor of Denver in the 1920s:

Mr. Stapleton, the candidate for governor, once embraced his great-grandfather, making Benjamin’s Stapleton’s civic work a top reason to elect him treasurer.

“My great-grandfather served five terms as Denver’s mayor in the 1920s, in the 1930s, in the 1940s,” he said in a 2009 campaign ad, ticking off the elder Stapleton’s accomplishments — building the airport, reinvigorating the park system. “I’m really proud of my family’s public service.”

But as residents have become more aware of his family’s ties to the Klan, Mr. Stapleton has had to tread more carefully, mostly dropping mentions of his great-grandfather from his campaign.

“It’s 100 years ago, 30 years before I was born,” he said when the Colorado Independent raised the issue recently. “If everybody started trying to apologize or explain what happened with ancestors of theirs who died 30 years before they were born, people would be doing a lot of explaining.”

You can watch the not-so-well produced video above in which Stapleton proudly invokes his great-grandfather’s service as Mayor of Denver. Benjamin Stapleton is the strongest historical tie that Walker Stapleton has to the state, key to his much-lampooned claim to be a “fourth-generation Coloradan” born in Greenwich, Connecticut.

The problem for Stapleton, of course, is that he can’t have this both ways. Stapleton can’t claim to be “really proud of my family’s public service,” specifically Ben Stapleton’s public service, without acknowledging that it wasn’t all City Beautiful and the former airport we still wish was open because it was way more convenient than driving to Kansas like we do today. To celebrate Ben Stapleton’s history without acknowledging that he was a key figure in the Ku Klux Klan’s dominance of local politics in the 1920s is to whitewash that history–and it’s wrong. Whether or not you support renaming the Stapleton neighborhood, collectively we have an obligation to be honest about this ugly history in the state we all call home.

And you know what? So does Walker Stapleton. This seems to be an issue that our ever-polite local political reporters have been dissuaded for whatever reason from covering, but fortunately the New York Times is not so easily browbeaten into submission by Stapleton’s PR guys.

It’s the one thing Walker Stapleton doesn’t want to talk about. That may be the biggest reason why we need to.

Get More Smarter on Tuesday (July 24)

Send more rain, please. It’s time to Get More Smarter. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of a visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show.



► American farmers are facing serious financial troubles thanks to President Trump’s obstinate trade wars. As the Washington Post reports, the White House is now pushing for “emergency relief” funding to help with a problem that Trump literally created himself:

The U.S. Agriculture Department announced Tuesday a $12 billion package of emergency aid for farmers caught in the midst of President Trump’s escalating trade war the latest sign that growing tensions between the United States and other countries will not end soon.

Trump ordered Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue to prepare a range of options several months ago, amid complaints from farmers that their products faced retaliatory tariffs from China and other countries. The new package of government assistance funds announced Tuesday and will go into effect in September.

The aid package will target soybean farmers, dairy farmers, and pork producers, among others. White House officials hope it will temporarily quiet some of the unease from farm groups, but the new plan could revive debates about taxpayer-funded bailouts and the degree to which Trump’s trade strategy is leading to unforeseen costs.

Or, maybe — and we’re just spitballing here — perhaps it would make more sense to stop these clearly-harmful trade policies?


► Republican gubernatorial nominee Walker Stapleton is the candidate Colorado Democrats always hoped to face in the 2018 General Election. After two more days of absolutely disastrous media coverage for Stapleton (and family) this week, it’s easy to see why Democrats had been crossing their fingers that he’d be the GOP nominee.

Not well played, Walker. Not well played at all.


► House Republicans are not going to hold a much-discussed vote on immigration reform despite promises to tackle the issue this summer. From Politico:

House GOP leaders are reneging on a vow to hold an immigration vote before the August recess, a move that puts House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy in a particularly awkward spot as he seeks to become the next speaker.

In June, McCarthy (R-Calif.) personally promised several rank-and-file members a vote on a new guest-worker program for farmers, an offer backed by Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.). The assurance was critical at the time: It persuaded Reps. Dennis Ross (R-Fla.) and Dan Newhouse (R-Wash.) not to sign on to an effort — which Republican leaders were desperately trying to stop — to force a vote on legislation creating a pathway to citizenship for Dreamers, the immigrants brought to the country illegally as children. The so-called discharge petition ultimately fell two signatures short.

But now, Republican leaders have no plans to take up the guest-worker program before the summer break, according to four sources in leadership. Ryan does not want to hold a vote that’s certain to fail, they said though proponents of the guest-worker bill said McCarthy’s original promise to hold a vote was unconditional.

“That was not the deal; the deal was that we’re taking it up regardless,” Ross said Monday afternoon, arguing that the lack of 218 votes shouldn’t preclude the promised vote. “There are those of us [who] need to go back [home] and show that we’re doing all we can to do what we said we would do.”

This is not going to be helpful for Rep. Mike Coffman, who backed off of his attempts at pushing for a vote after assurances were made by GOP leadership.

Also today, new research indicates that hardline immigration policies aren’t just inhumane — they’re also ineffective.


Get even more smarter after the jump…