Get More Smarter: The Big Predictions Thread

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Silliest Ad Yet Hits CD-3 Race


ThinkProgresscheck this one out:

Fourth-term Republican Rep. Scott Tipton, facing a tough re-election in Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District, has launched a new broadside against his Democratic opponent Diane Mitsch Bush — falsely accusing her of socialism because she once subscribed to a non-profit magazine that was originally founded by a socialist historian.

Though she is not a socialist, in an attack ad posted on Wednesday, Tipton first warns that the Democratic Socialists of America (an organization with which Mitsch Bush has no affiliation) “openly propose to do away with capitalism” — which is sort of the point of socialism. The narrator then claims that Diane Mitsch Bush “helped fund a leading socialist magazine.” In text on the screen, the ad cites three issues of the award-winning monthly magazine In These Times — a progressive publication that has not identified as an “Independent Socialist Newspaper” since 1989…

For those unfamiliar, the magazine In These Times was started over 40 years ago as a fairly unapologetic lefty magazine–for a time even adopting the tagline “The Socialist Newsweekly.” Since that time, though, the magazine has evolved into a more mainstream source of still unapologetically progressive news and commentary, and is particularly popular among labor unions.

A spokesperson for the Mitsch Bush campaign told ThinkProgress that she was a subscriber and believes she made an “insignificant” small additional contribution to support the publication. The campaign also provided a list of other publications she has “helped fund” by subscribing, including Time, Newsweek, Ms., The Nation, the High Country News, the New York Times, the Washington Post, Colorado Politics, and the Denver Post.

That’s right, folks. This is an attack ad entirely based on a magazine subscription. Like most nonprofit or modestly for-profit publications, it’s no surprise that In These Times solicits subscribers for additional donations in support of their work–just like Colorado Public Radio or any charity does. But even that doesn’t make Rep. Diane Mitsch Bush anything more than a subscriber to a magazine, and on the basis of that magazine subscription voters are supposed to believe she is some kind of anti-‘Merican saboteur? By this logic, every Money subscriber is Bernie Madoff and every Playboy subscriber is a pervert. It’s completely ridiculous.

And above all, it shows Rep. Scott Tipton doesn’t have anything to use on Diane Mitsch Bush.

Who Will Win in CO-6: Coffman or Crow?

Rep. Mike Coffman (left) and challenger Jason Crow

We’ve asked you, our wise readers, to weigh in on the outcome of the race for Governor, and we’ve asked for your opinions on the other top statewide races in 2018. Now it’s time to get Congressional.

As always, we want to know who you think will be the winner in November, not who you support or who you would prefer to see emerge victorious. The point of this exercise is to track how perceptions of various races are changing (or not) as Election Day nears.

Who will win the U.S. House race in CO-6? Will Republican Rep. Mike Coffman hold off another challenger, or will Democrat Jason Crow emerge victorious?

Who Will Win the Race in CO-6?
Mike Coffman
Jason Crow
View Result

Tipton And Other Republicans Return to Pueblo Racist’s Annual Fundraiser

(Gross — promoted by Colorado Pols)

Every year, Republican lawmakers gather at Tom Ready’s Steak Fry fundraiser. Ready is an unapologetic racist and anti-government conspiracy theorist whose annual backyard BBQ nevertheless continues to draw GOP candidates and elected officials of all levels, including Congressman Scott Tipton.

 Ready’s history of overt racism, homophobia and Islamophobia has been well-documented by the Colorado Times Recorder in the past. The post on the left is from a couple years ago.

Tom Ready racist NFL FB postHe continues to do so today, with posts like this one about NFL players. 

 

Confirmed attendees at this year’s event include Congressman Scott Tipton, State Sens. Larry Crowder (R-Alamosa) and Bob Gardner (R-Colorado Springs), HD46 Jonathan Ambler, HD47 candidate Don Bendell, HD62 candidate Scott Honeycutt, Pueblo County Commissioner District 3 candidate Zach Swearingen, University of Colorado Regent Glen Gallegos, and Marla Spinuzzi Reichert, chair of the Pueblo County Republicans.

 

(more…)

DMB Comes Out Swinging At Club 20 Debate


Rep. Scott Tipton (R).

As the Glenwood Springs Post-Independent’s Matthew Bennett reports, the Democratic candidate running in CD-3, former state Rep. Diane Mitsch Bush, surprised attendees at this weekend’s Club 20 candidates debates with a strong performance that called out incumbent Rep. Scott Tipton on a broad range of issues relevant to the district:

Club 20, billed as the “Voice of the Western Slope,” held its fall political debates Saturday in Grand Junction, and while numerous candidates vigorously debated and cross-examined their opponents, the hotly contested race for Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District seat proved the most contentious showdown…

Tipton did not waste any time comparing his opponent to Democratic U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders. Mitsch Bush, however, quickly pushed back at Tipton’s socialist portrayal of her candidacy and told the audience that she would promote bipartisanship and not fall victim to big donors but rather serve her constituents.

When asked if she would support Nancy Pelosi as Speaker of the House should the Democrats take control of the House this November, the former state representative and Routt County commissioner responded, “I am going to support the candidate who is best for our district.

“We need new leadership,” Mitsch Bush said. “I will not necessarily support Nancy Pelosi, but you know what? You guys are using this issue to cast our attention away from the bills that you have passed.” [Pols emphasis]

The Grand Junction Sentinel’s Charles Ashby:

U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton, R-Colo., said his Democratic opponent, Diane Mitsch Bush, wants single-payer health care, refuses to take a position on the Jordan Cove liquefied natural gas export facility, and would vote for U.S. Rep. Nancy Pelosi as speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives.

Mitsch Bush said Tipton hasn’t done enough to help farmers and ranchers get the migrant workers they need, only started supporting the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund in an election year, and backs President Donald Trump entirely too much.

We mentioned last week the debate over the Jordan Cove LNG export project, and Tipton’s mistaken claim that Mitsch Bush had taken a position on the highly controversial project. He corrected that mistake in time for this weekend’s debate, but it didn’t matter–by all accounts Tipton’s Democratic challenger was fully in charge, and easily demonstrated her ability to keep pace with the incumbent. It’s always been our opinion that Tipton isn’t very good on stage, even with a script. A good opponent really makes Tipton’s oratorical inadequacies stand out.

CD-3 is still the Democratic “reach goal” in a year of high wave year hopes. What we can say, based on Diane Mitsch Bush’s strength in this weekend’s Club 20 debate, is that this was a good day to keep hope alive.

Tipton Trips Trying To Trash Opponent’s Hick Endorsement

Rep. Scott Tipton (R).

David O. Williams writes for the Vail Daily:

Gov. John Hickenlooper this week endorsed the campaign of fellow Democrat Diane Mitsch Bush, as Mitsch Bush, a former state representative and Routt County commissioner, tries to unseat four-term Republican U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton, of Cortez, in the Tuesday, Nov. 6, general election.

“I’m proud to endorse Diane Mitsch Bush for Congress,” Hickenlooper was quoted as saying in a news release. “I worked closely with Diane during her time in the Colorado Legislature. … She is both hard working and dedicated to her community. Diane’s experience and fact-based legislating would make her a strong voice for Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District.”

Naturally,

Tipton’s campaign questioned Hickenlooper’s endorsement of Mitsch Bush.

“It’s bizarre that Gov. Hickenlooper would support someone who is against Jordan Cove and a supporter of a Bernie Sanders-style, government-run health care system, but clearly he is trying to remake himself in the image of the new extremist Democrat Party as he gears up to run for president,” Tipton campaign spokesman Matt Connelly wrote in an email.

Setting aside the government-run “health scare” boilerplate, some variation of which is finding its way into basically every Republican press release in 2018, there appears to be a problem with the claim that former state Rep. Diane Mitsch Bush is “against Jordan Cove”–meaning the proposed Jordan Cove, Oregon liquified natural gas export terminal that would enable sales of Colorado natural gas to Asian markets. Although Jordan Cove would be good for energy companies, energy consumers would likely see big increases in the price of natural gas on the local market–all for the purpose of exporting energy reserves, not domestic energy independence. The project was voted down by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in 2016, but has been controversially revived by the Trump administration.

Not to mention, you know, fracking the West for China. Is that something we want as national policy?

With all of this in mind, given former Rep. Mitsch Bush’s record of voting for environmental protection and renewable energy it would not be a stretch for her to come out against Jordan Cove. The problem is that she has not done that yet, so this attack is just wrong. But more importantly, this weak-sauce response to a key endorsement for Mitsch Bush underscores that Tipton really has very little with which to attack his opponent this year. This election will a referendum on many things, but outside a small bubble of safely Republican pro-fossil fuel voters, Jordan Cove isn’t one of them.

Tipton’s campaign had better sharpen their pencils, because better comebacks than this will be needed.

Scott Tipton Starts His Own Trump Slow-Walk Back

Rep. Scott Tipton (R-Cortez).

The Pueblo Chieftain’s Peter Roper ran a story over the long weekend that we have to say we’re not surprised a bit to see–GOP Rep. Scott Tipton, looking nervously at the difficult midterm election that awaits him, and wondering if it just might not be a bad idea to at least, you know, maybe think about…

Putting some daylight between himself and President Donald Trump:

U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton is running for a fifth term in Congress, and the Cortez Republican manages to both support President Donald Trump’s agenda as well as step away at times.

Tipton, who represents Pueblo and the 3rd Congressional District, says he doesn’t want a trade war with China or other U.S. trading partners. But he adds that Trump’s willingness to impose tariffs seems to be getting results in some negotiations, such as with Mexico…

What becomes obvious very quickly is that this story is mostly about its headline. Tipton has a consistent response: Trump makes him uncomfortable, but he “seems to be getting results.” It’s a theme that goes on:

Tipton says Trump is right in claiming a wall on the Mexico border is needed— but, he adds, not everywhere…

And on:

And as for Special Counsel Robert Mueller, Trump may want him fired, but Tipton says that would be a mistake…

But then Tipton adds that Mueller’s investigation has “gotten away from its original intent” of investigating Russian interference in the U.S. elections.

Somewhere in this it becomes painfully obvious that Tipton is giving answers crafted to allow him an escape no matter what happens to Trump’s hard-line proposals on immigration and foreign trade, or the investigation into alleged collusion with Russia to win the 2016 elections. Tipton wants to look “independent from Trump,” without saying anything that would land him on the White House’s notorious list of unfavored Republicans who have publicly criticized the President.

Still, it’s happening at the same time Walker Stapleton is closing ranks with Trump–so it’s notable.

This is all happening as national Republican strategists have begun giving tailored advice to Republican candidates based on local polling numbers on how to invoke the president on the campaign trail–from embracing Trump in red states to sort-of shunning him where Trump is likely to drag down GOP turnout. CD-3 is an interesting case, with far-flung very different population centers. Cozying up to Trump has few disadvantages in Grand Junction, but in Pueblo it’s another matter entirely.

The one thing that we can say with certainty is that Tipton is not very good at this. Whatever the strategy is, Tipton’s poor execution makes it both easier to spot and less likely to succeed.

Scott Tipton Sides With Trump Against Mueller

Rep. Scott Tipton (R-Cortez).

Some revealing comments from the Montrose County Republicans Women’s Luncheon last Friday by Rep. Scott Tipton about his view of the investigation into President Donald Trump’s dealings with the Russian government to gain leverage in the 2016 elections–as the Daily Press’ Katharhynn Heidelberg reports:

United States Attorney General Jeff Sessions should not have fully recused himself from oversight of the investigation into Russian election interference, U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton said Friday…

“I think at the time, he (Sessions) should have had a limited recusal,” Tipton later told the Montrose Daily Press. “It has probably inhibited his ability to be as effective as he could as attorney general.” [Pols emphasis]

During the event, Tipton also was asked whether the president was within his rights to end the Mueller probe, which was characterized as a “witch hunt.”

“He probably could,” Tipton said. “We’ve yet to see one bit of evidence it (interference) impacted the election, in terms of the outcome. Were the Russians playing? You bet they were. Nobody disputes that.”

Of course that’s not true, since President Donald Trump disputed it as recently as last month–in between sort of admitting it and the usual refrain downplaying its significance. Having made statements pretty much all over the map about this issue allows Republicans defending Trump to say anything they want. But the one thing Republicans can’t be honest about regarding Russian meddling in the 2016 elections is the most basic of facts–why they did it:

However, their goal was to create discord and division, Tipton added, calling for more of “something we used to call civility.” [Pols emphasis]

This too is simply not an accurate statement, since it is the conclusion of every impartial investigation into Russian involvement in the 2016 elections that they were working very deliberately to boost Donald Trump at Hillary Clinton’s expense. The only people who don’t admit this today are Republicans who cannot admit it because they are members of Trump’s political party–for whom the admission would be a devastating indictment.

Yes, there are some Republicans speaking out against Trump. They have courage transcendent of the politics of the moment, and a conscience that will not allow them to remain silent while Trump does lasting harm to the nation and their party.

Scott Tipton is not, and does not have the capacity to be, one of those Republicans.

Progressive Activist With Degenerative Disease Can’t Find Congressman Tipton at Pueblo Town Hall Meeting

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

If you had a horrible disease and didn’t know how long you were going to live, would you spend your days driving around the country chasing down politicians who cast votes to repeal Obamacare?

That’s what Ady Barkan is doing. The progressive activist, who has nerve-degenerating Lou Gehrig’s disease, is spending 42 days in an RV on a mission that led him to Pueblo last Sunday in search of U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton (R-CO).

Tipton, according to a video Tweeted by Barkan, was invited to a Pueblo town-hall meeting on health care issues, but didn’t show up, leading Barkan to pull out a cardboard cutout of the Congressman, who’s represented southwestern Colorado since 2010, when he defeated Democrat John Salazar.

Barkan’s video shows the Tipton-less meeting, with folks directing questions about health care at the cutout and Barkan saying the Congressman “seems reticent” to answer the queries, drawing laughs from the group.

Barkan, who gained viral fame when he pleaded with Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake in 2017 to save lives by voting against the Trump tax bill, speaks slowly in his video, claiming Tipton hasn’t held a town hall meeting in Pueblo since 2016.

Tipton’s office did return a call seeking to know why he’s avoided Pueblo–or if he could dispute the no-show allegation.

“The point is to highlight for the American people just how irresponsible and unresponsive their congress members are,” Barkan told the Reno Gazette Journal, explaining his tour. “They refuse to prioritize our best interests.”

Health care issues are a top concern of voters in southwestern Colorado, according to one recent poll from a Democratic pollster.

Tipton represents what’s been considered a solidly Republican district, but national political analysts at the Cook Political Report recently determined that Democrats have a greater chance to win Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District this year than they have in recent elections, though Tipton is still favored.

Report: BLM HQ Will Move West

As Erin Prater writes for the Colorado Springs Gazette:

U.S. Department of the Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke is prepared to move ahead on moving the Bureau of Land Management headquarters to the West, according to reports.

Grand Junction is expected to be a prime possibility for the new national headquarters, partly because of the work of Colorado’s two U.S. senators, Republican Cory Gardner of Yuma and Michael Bennet of Denver…

…Rep. Scott Tipton’s office said Thursday that the department will conduct an analysis to help choose a location in the next six to eight months, Interior Department senior adviser Susan Combs told the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, according to the release Thursday. “Ninety-nine percent of the land that the BLM manages is located in the West, and the decisions made by the Bureau have daily impacts on those who live there, so it only makes sense to move the headquarters to a Western state. This would ensure that decisions would be made by those who understand the land best, resulting in more effective land management programs and policies.

Moving the headquarters of the BLM to the American West has been a long-running project that has the support of Colorado’s entire Congressional delegation, as well as the backing of local officials and Gov. John Hickenlooper. Colorado isn’t guaranteed to be the new home of the BLM, but Grand Junction is at least among the frontrunners.

It’s too soon to tell if this pending move will have a significant effect on BLM policies in the West or is more of a publicity stunt, though a new HQ would almost certainly create some new jobs in Colorado.

Cook Political Report Shifts Tipton’s District Leftward

Rep. Scott Tipton (R-Cortez).

Nonpartisan Cook Political Report made a number of adjustments to their congressional race rankings today, including one that locals should note carefully–Colorado CD-3, held by GOP incumbent Rep. Scott Tipton, is no longer considered solidly Republican:

CO-03: Scott Tipton (R) – Western Slope: Grand Junction, Pueblo

Likely Republican. This Western Slope district is increasingly fractured between conservative ranch country and liberal ski resort towns, which makes it difficult to traverse politically. Democrats’ ideal candidate here would be a Blue Dog who could appeal to ranchers and Hispanic voters in Pueblo. But since Tipton ousted moderate Rep. John Salazar in 2010, Democrats have had a hard time broadening their base.

State Rep. Diane Mitsch Bush, a social policy professor from wealthy Steamboat Springs who grew up in Minnesota, won the June 26 Democratic primary with 64 percent. She emphasizes her ranch conservation efforts, but may have a hard breaking out of the liberal stereotype. Still, Tipton didn’t crack 55 percent in 2016 (President Trump took 52 percent here), and it’s worth watching in a wave.

It’s an overall accurate view of the state of play in this district. Affluent liberal resort towns compete with large areas of conservative hinterland, with the cities of Pueblo and Grand Junction offsetting each other to create a politically complex environment for both parties. Tipton has held on to this district since 2010 by margins that Democrats remain convinced are not representative of the electorate as a whole, and the expected midterm backlash against Trump in 2018 gives Democrats their best shot since John Salazar held the seat.

With that said, a move from “Solid Republican” to “Likely Republican” isn’t going to make Republicans throw Tipton to the wolves–at least not yet. If in the fall Tipton is in real danger of losing, it will mean that the overall climate for Republicans in the midterms has deteriorated even from where it stands today. It’s a safe prediction that if Tipton loses, Republicans have already lost the House in closer races elsewhere.

This race, like much of the country this year, is moving in the direction Democrats want it to be moving in. Time will tell whether it can get to the elusive 50%+1 needed to actually send Scott Tipton into retirement.

Hope Springs Eternal As EMILY’s List Backs DMB

Rep. Diane Mitsch Bush (D-Steamboat Springs).

David O. Williams writes for the Vail Daily:

EMILY’s List, which bills itself as “the nation’s largest resource for women in politics,” is betting on former Eagle County state Rep. Diane Mitsch Bush to do something that’s never been done in the 103-year history of Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District: be the first woman to win the seat.

In fact, since Socialist Edith Halcomb garnered a scant 2 percent of the vote in the 1918 election, only a handful of women have even sought election in the sprawling, mostly rural, suburban and Republican district that stretches from Pueblo in the south to Grand Junction on the Utah state line, including roughly the western two-thirds of Eagle County.

Women have not fared well in District 3 since it was first formed in 1915. Democrat Linda Powers lost to Republican Scott McInnis by a 70 percent to 30 percent margin in 1994, Independent Tisha Casida twice picked up small percentages of votes in 2012 and 2014, and Democrat Gail Schwartz lost decisively to incumbent Rep. Scott Tipton, 54 percent to 40 percent, in 2016.

But Mitsch Bush, who quit the State House to take on Tipton, thinks 2018 will be different.

It’s important to keep in mind that, although EMILY’s List endorses women candidates for office, not just any woman candidate makes the list. To qualify for support from the organization means a candidate has met specific benchmarks that assess the viability of a candidate before they are endorsed–a process that helps the reputations of both the candidate and EMILY’s List as a credible endorser. The organization’s support doesn’t end with an endorsement, either, as candidates can tap into a pool of financial and in-kind support for their race.

All of which brings us back to the central question, whether Rep. Diane Mitsch Bush has what it takes to successfully challenge entrenched incumbent Republican Rep. Scott Tipton. To her credit, Mitsch Bush dispatched her Democratic primary challenger Karl Hanlon by a much wider-than-expected margin. After years of disappointment in this district, Democrats do see the 2018 election cycle as the best chance of flipping Tipton’s seat that has existed since Tipton himself unseated a Democrat in the 2010 wave year.

As of this writing, there’s every reason for Democrats to be hopeful. There are two realistic locations where Democrats can advance the cause a House majority in Colorado–Rep. Mike Coffman’s district, and Tipton’s.

So if you’re ready to believe in a 2018 Democratic wave, here is where you’ll put that belief to the test.

Thanks For Nothing, Scott Tipton (Dead Letter Office Edition)

Rep. Scott Tipton (R-Cortez).

As the Glenwood Springs Post-Independent reports, the Trump administration’s self-inflicted debacle over child separations along the southern border is tripping up GOP Rep. Scott Tipton of Cortez–who is quickly emerging as a “reach goal” target for Democrats in the upcoming elections:

Two Democratic challengers who are seeking to replace Colorado’s 3rd District U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton are pressing the congressman after he Tweeted earlier this week about his position on U.S. border patrol family separations.

“I recently signed onto a letter w/ some of my colleagues to be sent to DHS, that expresses disapproval of the current policy of separating families & requests additional information on what is being done when a family arrives at the border in-between legal port of entry,” Tipton stated, responding to growing criticism of President Trump’s zero-tolerance policy of separating children from parents, before he signed an executive order Wednesday reversing the policy.

However, asked Wednesday for a copy of the letter outlining Tipton’s position on the issue, staffers in Washington, D.C. said they couldn’t immediately provide a copy.

Apparently, as of Wednesday the reason that Rep. Tipton could not provide a copy of this letter to the Department of Homeland Security is that it hadn’t been delivered yet! The crisis over family separations has been front page for nearly a month, and a major bone of contention for months prior to that, so a letter delivered Wednesday (or later, who knows) when President Donald Trump rescinded the policy that same day can be fairly categorized as totally meaningless ass-covering.

“I think that is classic Tipton, that he is trying to avoid taking a position on an issue because he doesn’t know which direction the political wind is blowing.” [Pols emphasis]

[Democratic CD-3 candidate Karl] Hanlon continued, “If I am sending this letter to the Department of Homeland Security, and speaking to a humanitarian crisis within our borders, I absolutely want my constituents to know what I said.”

In addition to the overwhelming public disapproval of the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” policy that led to families being separated at the border, Tipton’s district has been impacted by the Trump administration’s crackdown with documented shortages of both agricultural and seasonal resort labor. The state’s extremely low unemployment rate combined with visa programs for the needed labor that haven’t grown in decades is demonstrably holding back the economy in Tipton’s district.

And that’s before we even talk about Pueblo. In short there’s real danger for Tipton here, and he appears to already be well behind the curve in addressing the biggest headline in the national news today.

This isn’t a good year to be complacent.

Trump’s EPA, Colorado Springs’ Pollution: Dirty Deeds Afoot?

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt.

A story published Friday by the Colorado Springs Independent, a frequent source for the straight dope on happenings along the Ronald Reagan Highway when the Phil Anschutz-owned newspaper of record for that city turns a blind eye, is causing considerable concern among Colorado Springs’ neighbors to the south along the city’s principal drainage Fountain Creek. It’s a situation we’re discussed a number of times as Pueblo has sought to hold the Springs accountable for unchecked stormwater and sewage pollution surging into Fountain Creek–but under Donald Trump’s Environmental Protection Agency, the story may be taking a sinister turn:

Despite protests from fellow plaintiffs, the Environmental Protection Agency has agreed to revisit a possible settlement with the city Colorado Springs over alleged Clean Water Act violations caused by the city’s longterm neglect of stormwater management, according to documents obtained by the Independent.

The renewed negotiations come as U.S. District Judge Richard Matsch scheduled an August trial in the lawsuit on May 22, the day after the state’s lead attorney in the case was reportedly fired for a reason the Colorado Attorney General’s Office won’t discuss.

Margaret “Meg” Parish, first assistant attorney general in the Natural Resources & Environment Section, wrote several scathing letters to the EPA in recent months, calling the EPA’s action “shocking and extraordinary” and expressing “deep concern and disappointment” that the agency would unilaterally reopen settlement discussion without consulting co-plaintiffs. Besides the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE), those include Pueblo County and the Lower Arkansas Valley Water Conservancy District.

The move was particularly alarming, she noted, because the state and EPA had signed an agreement in which both agreed not to communicate with the city without the presence of the other.

The EPA is a lead plaintiff in the long-running litigation over Colorado Springs’ pollution of Fountain Creek, obviously possessing resources local municipalities do not have–especially smaller, poorer communities like Pueblo versus Colorado Springs–to force polluters to work in good faith to clean themselves up. What’s happening here could be interpreted as an end run around the upcoming trial, allowing Colorado Springs to settle on terms vastly more favorable to the city than the trial would likely produce. It follows a request last year by GOP Rep. Doug Lamborn for the EPA to drop the lawsuit entirely.

What changed between the EPA working in good faith with Pueblo and other downstream communities to hold Colorado Springs accountable for stormwater and sewage pollution? Donald Trump became President, appointing the most controversially permissive EPA administrator in the agency’s history in Scott Pruitt. The recent completion of the Southern Delivery System, which pipes Arkansas River water north to Colorado Springs, facilitates future growth in Colorado Springs while increasing the treated sewage flows into Fountain Creek. And now you have the Republican city administration of Colorado Springs cozying up with this new EPA, seemingly in opposition to the parties the EPA was charged with assisting.

When Lamborn’s request to the EPA to terminate its involvement in the lawsuit agaist Colorado Springs was reported, Lamborn’s fellow Republican Rep. Scott Tipton who represents Pueblo stood up for his constituents–reminding Lamborn that “the lawsuit was filed by both the EPA and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment for a reason.”

Now that it appears the treachery is moving from the planning to the operational stages, it’s definitely time for Pueblo’s representative in Congress to throw down! If Tipton’s split loyalties between his constituents in Pueblo and his party allow Colorado Springs to escape accountability for polluting Fountain Creek, it’s a very serious problem for Tipton’s re-election.

However this situation resolves, it’s a hard lesson in how times have changed–and how elections matter.

This is Really Not a Good Year for Incumbent Republicans

Clockwise from top left: Rep. Ken Buck (R-Greeley), Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Aurora), Rep. Scott Tipton (R-Cortez), and Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Colo. Springs).

Four states held Primary elections on Tuesday (Indiana, North Carolina, Ohio, and West Virginia), and perhaps the biggest takeaway from those results is this: 2018 is a terrible year to be an incumbent Republican.

As the Washington Post reports:

Republican members of the House fared especially poorly Tuesday in primaries across four states, offering fresh evidence that this fall will bring another change election and a new batch of outsiders promising to shake up Washington.

North Carolina Rep. Robert Pittenger was felled by former Baptist pastor Mark Harris despite a massive spending advantage, an outcome that caught D.C. Republicans off guard. Harris portrayed the third-term lawmaker as a creature of “the swamp” and relentlessly hammered him over his March vote for the $1.3 trillion spending bill. Pittenger is the first incumbent of either party to be forced out of Congress this year.

In the primary to take on Indiana Sen. Joe Donnelly (D), wealthy businessman Mike Braun won an upset over two GOP congressmen, Todd Rokita and Luke Messer, who have been rivals since college and spent months beating the tar out of each other.

In West Virginia, Rep. Evan Jenkins (R) lost to state Attorney General Patrick Morrisey in the primary to challenge Sen. Joe Manchin (D).

The fifth Republican Member of Congress (from Tuesday alone) who will not be returning to the House in 2019 is Ohio Rep. Jim Renacci, who won the GOP Primary for U.S. Senate in unspectacular fashion; Renacci managed just 47% of the vote against four unknown candidates despite plenty of campaign support from President Trump.

CNN’s Chris Cillizza includes all Members of Congress in his list of “Losers” from Tuesday, though we’re really only talking about Republicans here:

There was a time when being a sitting member of Congress was a major advantage when running statewide. You had a political base and a fundraising base. Those days are done — at least for now.

Here in Colorado, Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Aurora) is regularly fighting for his political life, but 2018 may be his toughest challenge yet should Jason Crow emerge from the Democratic Primary (which is likely). Polling results released in February showed Crow with a 5-point lead over Coffman, marking the first time a public poll showed Coffman trailing anyone since he was first elected in CD-6 in 2008.

Recent polling also shows Rep. Scott Tipton (R-Cortez) to be in serious trouble this fall, thanks in large part to his support for the Great Republican Tax Cut for Rich People and his regular enthusiasm for gutting health care benefits.

In CD-5, Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Colorado Springs) almost failed to make the June Primary ballot altogether, though he’ll still have a tough fight for his seat against three four Republican challengers. Our final incumbent Republican is Rep. Ken Buck (R-Greeley), who is probably safe because of a combination of relatively-weak Democratic challengers and a sustained effort to build a more “independent” image; still, it’s worth pointing out that Buck seriously considered abandoning his seat in CD-4 last fall in order to run for Attorney General.

We’re still six months out from the General Election, but disdain for GOP incumbents partnered with a growing blue wave should make the rest of 2018 very uncomfortable for at least two long-tenured Republican Members of Congress in Colorado.