Please Stop Calling This Guy Credible, Dave Kopel Edition

A clip we were forwarded from last Friday’s episode of Colorado Inside Out:

This will destroy Weld County. It will wipe out their tax revenues and wouldn’t surprise me if they start another secession movement, uh over this because that’s it’s no longer an economically viable county, uh with what’s going to be done with it. And for their own survival, uh would be better off uh joining Northeast Colorado and uh then in Nebraska or Wyoming. [Pols emphasis]

That’s Dave Kopel of the Independence Institute, calling with a straight face for Weld County to secede from Colorado in the event that Senate Bill 19-181 passes–legislation to increase local control of oil and gas development decisionmaking. We can start by fairly easily debunking the baseless claim that this legislation “would destroy Weld County,” since by definition a bill increasing local control over oil and gas drilling would give pro-energy areas of the state like Weld County the power to “drill baby drill” if they chose to. It’s not at all like, for example Amendment 74, which would have upended any sense of local control over oil and gas and every other zoning decision.

This is a nice way of saying that Dave Kopel’s statement above is completely ridiculous.

Let’s talk about that.

The Independence Institute is one of the more storied conservative advocacy groups in Colorado, a “stink tank” originally founded in the early 1980s by Tom Tancredo backed by New Right funders including the Coors family to provide an argumentative underpinning for the Republican politics that eventually reached their peak of control in this state during the 2002 elections. A combination of pseudo-intellectual white paper outreach to friendly lawmakers and political antics mostly carried out by their shock-jock longtime executive director Jon Caldara, the Independence Institute’s year-round agenda and well-paid ranks of staff have remained a force in Colorado politics even though the wins in the past decade have become few and far between.

Although Jon Caldara has willingly–some would say happily–sacrificed personal credibility to become the state’s pre-eminent conservative prankster, Kopel and the so-called “research” department of the Independence Institute are supposed to be a little more serious in their approach. That means Kopel isn’t personally out there trying to break election law or using children with disabilities as political props.

But when Kopel calls a good idea the biggest political joke of the last decade in Colorado, which dismally failed including in Weld County the last time they tried it, we feel like it’s okay to stop calling him serious.


Blue Wave Prompts State Lawmaker To Propose Weld County Leave Colorado and Join Wyoming

(Always with the “secession” talk — Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Colorado State Senator John Cooke & U. S. Senator Cory Gardner

Colorado State Senator John Cooke & U. S. Senator Cory Gardner share a laugh in Feb. 2013, photo by Alison Noon/Greeley Tribune

In response to Democratic gains in this month’s election, State Sen. John Cooke (R-Greeley) now thinks Weld County has “a lot more in common with Wyoming than Boulder” and therefore should cut ties with Colorado and “join Wyoming.”

Sen. John Cooke speaks to Greeley Centennial Rotary

Sen. John Cooke talked secession at the Greeley Rotary last Thursday. It is unclear if the blue wave on the podium was intended to be ironic.

Republicans in northern Colorado first floated the idea of “seceding” from Colorado back in 2013, and Cook didn’t support it. But now he thinks Weld County should “join Wyoming,” as the Greeley Tribune reported Sunday:

In an appearance Thursday with Greeley Centennial Rotary, Sen. John Cooke, R-Greeley, said he didn’t support the secession movement when it happened, and now that the state is moving toward Democratic leadership at the top levels of the state government, he said Weld County would be better off joining its neighbor to the north.

“I’m thinking we oughta join Wyoming instead of seceding,” he said. “We have a lot more in common with Wyoming than Boulder. Gun control will be a big issue. They (Democrats) just can’t help themselves. They’ll ramrod a lot of bad policy through.”

Cooke is the most prominent Weld County Republican currently musing about abandoning Colorado, but he isn’t the only one. According to the Tribune, County Commissioner Sean Conway, who was a leader of 2013’s “51st State Movement,” received multiple calls asking about secession.

A call to secede also appeared on the comments section of the Weld County Republicans’ Facebook page. In part it read, “TIME TO END THE DENVER BOULDER FORT COLLINS TRIAD. TIME TO SECEDE! I have contacted the people behind the 2013 secession movement and we are ready to start again!”

While Weld County was the epicenter of the secession movement that culminated with an eleven-county referendum five years ago, voters rejected the notion despite Commissioner Conway’s enthusiasm. Of the eleven counties voting on the issue, only five approved the measure. The largest of those was Yuma County, home to U.S. Senator Cory Gardner (R-CO).

At the time, then-Congressman Gardner was in the early stages of his statewide campaign against incumbent Democratic Senator Mark Udall. Despite being a resident (and registered voter) of the county, he refused to say how he voted on secession ballot initiative.

Five years later, Gardner is again looking at a long and difficult statewide Senate campaign. Once again the candidate who likes to talk about his “Four Corners plan” definitely does not want to be talking about whether his hometown corner should tear itself away from the rest of our square state. If Sen. John Cooke continues to talk about secession publicly, he may find that Senator Gardner isn’t smiling quite as widely next time they meet.

This story first appeared on the Colorado Times Recorder.


Republicans Revive Silly Threat of Secession


The “Blue Wave” in 2018 led to significant Democratic victories around the country, but nowhere was this more evident than in Colorado, where Democrats now control all four major statewide offices — Governor, Attorney General, Treasurer, and Secretary of State — as well as both chambers of the state legislature. This big “Blue Wave” in Colorado has some rural Republicans mashing the panic button and returning to one of the sillier threats in recent Colorado political history.

As the Grand Junction Sentinel reports:

“We lost everything,” lamented Republican Rio Blanco County Commissioner Shawn Bolton.

He fears the Democrats “will just run rampant” when it comes to oil and gas and other policy matters, potentially prompting the revival of the secession movement that arose in some rural Colorado counties several years ago due to Democrat-led state actions at the time. [Pols emphasis]

“They don’t know how to act. They get power and act like little kids. I have a feeling if they go and start being stupid again like they were that time you’ll see that movement start up big-time,” he said.

Shawn Bolton

First off, let’s not overlook the irony of this quote. Republican County Commissioner Shawn Bolton of Rio Blanco County is mad that his team lost last week, so he wants to take his ball and go home. But Bolton says that it is Democrats who “don’t know how to act.”

In 2013, a handful of Colorado counties put a “secession” question on the ballot that failed in embarrassing fashion. The entire population of the 11 counties that sought to form the 51st state of “North Frackistan” represented about 7% of Coloradans.In the final vote tally, only about 41,000 people voted “YES,” which works out to roughly 0.0079 percent of Colorado’s population. Rio Blanco County was not one of the 11 counties that considered secession in 2013, but if you extrapolate the same percentage of support for its 7,000 residents, you end up with about 55 votes.

In 2014, there was briefly a second attempt to revive the secession idea that crashed and burned before it even got out of the garage. In other words, there is no succession “movement” that could be re-started because there was never a real movement in the first place. But that doesn’t make this topic completely irrelevant for 2020, because it revives a question for Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) that he absolutely does not want to answer.

Everybody should have the opportunity to consider forming a new state.

At the time of the 2013 secession vote, then-Rep. Cory Gardner was still six months away from running for U.S. Senate. Gardner’s home county of Yuma was one of the 11 counties considering secession, and Gardner refused to offer a position on the subject. Here’s what the editorial board of the Denver Post wrote on November 1, 2013:

Ten of the 11 counties where voters will be asked to secede from Colorado next week are in the 4th Congressional District.

But if you want to know how the member of Congress from that district who lives in one of those counties stands on secession, or how he’ll vote, you’re out of luck…

…We understand that members of Congress may not want to weigh in on every local issue voters consider, but this is one of those times when his constitutents — and other Coloradans — deserve to know where a top leader from the area stands on such an important topic.

“When asked about the 51st state initiative previously, Congressman Gardner has said that he loves Colorado,” said spokesman Alex Siciliano.

OK, but does he love Colorado enough to stay a part of it?

Gardner is up for re-election in 2020, of course, and this is not a good topic for him. It would be very awkward to be running for a statewide office while continually dodging questions about whether part of that very state — the part that represents much of Gardner’s base — should break away from the rest of Colorado. If talk of another secession movement increases, so will calls for Gardner to explain how he voted on the subject in 2013.

“Secession” is a real threat for Gardner because of the political ramifications for his re-election. For everyone else, secession is like putting up a “Beware of Dog” sign for a chihuahua.


Ultra-conservative CPAC conference has Colorado connections

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

The 2018 Conservative Political Action Conference kicked off today in Maryland. It features a lengthy list of speakers and panels, including NRA President Wayne LaPierre, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and Vice President Mike Pence. You can watch the livestream here. Coloradans, though, may be more interested in tomorrow’s program, which not only features former Congressman Bob Beauprez interviewing two Trump cabinet members, but also two live events taking place locally at Lakewood’s Colorado Christian University. Tickets for the Friday events at CCU are available here. Here’s a rundown of all the Colorado-related events:

Friday, February 23, 6:35 am MT

A Conversation with Secretary of Energy Rick Perry and Secretary Ryan Zinke, interviewed by former U. S. Rep. Bob Beauprez

Former CD7 Representative, twice-failed GOP gubernatorial candidate, conservative blogger and occasional right-wing radio host Bob Beauprez will interview two powerful members of President Trump’s cabinet: Energy Secretary Rick Perry and Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke. No specific topics are listed, but issues such as fracking, the oil & gas industry and public land management are safe bets. If a discussion of federal vs. state responsibility for public land does occur, it’s always possible that Beauprez will reiterate his support for the failed “Northern Colorado” secession movement launched by conservative activists in 2013. It’s also possible that Beauprez will raise his fears of “creeping Sharia” with Secretary Perry, who has been accused by fellow CPAC speaker* Pam Geller of being overly friendly with Texas Muslims.

Friday, February 23, 11:50 am MT

Michelle Malkin: “A Time for Action,” Live from the Colorado CPAC Stage

 It’s unclear what specific action Michelle Malkin will advocate for during her ten-minute speech, but a review of her past positions and statements reveals some possibilities. She may suggest placing Muslim-Americans in internment camps, which she justified in her 2004 book, “In Defense of Internment: The Case for “Racial Profiling” in World War II and the War on Terror.”  She may call for Americans to mock the suicides of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, as she did in 2006, shocking her interviewer, Bill O’Reilly.  Perhaps she’ll pose for selfies with those who believe President Obama was a Nazi, as she did in this picture, taken at the Colorado state capitol in 2009.    



Somebody please run against Jerry Sonnenberg

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Jerry Sonnenberg is winding up his first term in the Colorado Senate. He is up for re-election in 2018, and no one has stepped up to run against him.  Sonnenberg ran unopposed for his first Senate term, and for all four of his previous House terms, until he was termed out in 2014.  No wonder he doesn’t return liberal constituent’s phone calls – he feels pretty safe ignoring their concerns. What are they going to do, run a Democrat against him?

Sonnenberg has referred to a fellow female Senator as”eye candy” and tweeted that he’d like to lube his assault rifle with “Obama tears”. He legislated against eminent domain for water pipelines, and for eminent domain for oil and gas companies. He sponsored legislation to prohibit protesting at oil  and gas sites, and he is a climate science denier.

In an excellent piece by Win the Fourth (WTF),  the author makes the case for fielding a Democrat to run against Sonnenberg.



No Nibiru, just rural Democrats causing trouble.

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

So the world didn’t end today (yet). I  bet a 6th grader a chocolate bar that we’d still have class Monday.  His older brother had told him for sure that September 23 was it. Young students are all on Facebook, gobbling up and sharing every bit of fake news and conspiracy theory out there.

The eclipse, the hurricanes, and the earthquakes proved that doomsday was at hand.

This didn’t happen. Nibiru hitting earth, debunked on

My more sciencey students rushed to debunk this: “If there was a planet about to hit the earth, we would have seen it coming! Planets don’t just jump out of their orbits and go wherever they want! NASA says it’s not true. ”

I love that they’re paying attention in science class, and using evidence-based arguments.

But, no Nibiru in sight. Just another day, living the dream in northeast Colorado. Something else surprising is happening, though….Democrats are organizing in Northeast Colorado, and in rural counties all over the state.

At Octoberfest, it was chilly and drizzly. Felt like fall.  The Morgan County Democrats were boothed next to the American Legion, so we had lots of opportunities to chat while we waited for people to stop by.

I quickly found that we could talk about anything as long as I didn’t directly criticize the President. They could criticize him, though, and did. “Needs to take a Speech 101 class,” said a spry old gentleman who later showed off his world-class polka moves. “He’s embarrassing us with all the tweeting,” confided a lifelong Republican.

Democrats were zeroing in on us, too. “You have a booth? Here? How many Democrats are in Morgan County?” Turns out, about 3,000 registered Dems to about 6,000 registered Republicans, with ~4,500 unaffiliated. Dems have kept rather quiet until now, what with that 2:1 disadvantage.

But those days are gone. Dems had big, loud, crowded floats in all of the recent town parades.



Trump Supporter Who Poisoned Groundwater Places Trump Billboards on I76

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

The plains roll on for hundreds of miles  under blank blue skies near Roggen, Colorado. Sage, scrub grass, fracking tanks, and a few cattle dot the vast landscape.  Roggen itself is a ghost of its former prosperity – the town consists of a grain elevator, a telephone co-op,  two churches, a convenience store, and a post office.

Yet, Roggen boasts two new roadside attractions: gigantic “Trump for President” billboards facing west and east, placed to catch the eyes of all travelers along I76.

I wanted to find out who felt strongly enough about Mr. Trump’s candidacy to build, paint, and place these monumental political advertisements in this desolate area. I investigated, and found a family saga rooted in the heyday of Colorado political journalism, in the gas and oil boom years, including rodeo circuit stardom and family tragedy, and the criminal indictment and sentencing of the landowner, Mr. Mike Cervi, for violating the Safe Water Act by injecting petroleum wastes into the High Plains / Ogalalla Aquifer from 2001 – 2002.

Cervi’s Journal – the founding Cervi business

Eugene Cervi produced and edited Cervi’s Rocky Mountain Business Journal in Denver from 1954 until his death in 1970.   Cervi’s Journal later became the Denver Business Journal. “Gene” and his daughter, editor Cle Symons Cervi, were both inducted into the Denver Press Club Hall of Fame.   Gene Cervi was twice Chair of the Colorado Democratic Party, although he was critical of JFK. Later in his career, the “Journal” became more conservative and more pro-business in viewpoint.



Denver Police asked to Boycott anti-Muslim “Training” in Centennial

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Denver Police are being asked not to attend an anti-Muslim “Training” session tonight, put on by known bigot and Islamophobe John Guandolo.

RMGO’s flyer for the Centennial Gun Club event August 13-15

CAIR, the Council on American-Islamic Relations, put out this press release today:

In an email sent today to a number of Denver-area police departments, CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper wrote:

“CAIR formally requests that your department investigate whether or not any officers will take Mr. Guandolo’s training and whether you believe the biased and agenda-driven presentations he offers will be of any benefit to your officers or to the communities they serve.”

Earlier this year, CAIR welcomed the withdrawal of an FBI representative from an event in Texas that was initially sponsored by the anti-Muslim hate group ACT! for America and featured Guandolo.

Rocky Mountain Gun Owners is sponsoring these “training sessions” at the Centennial Gun Club tonight, August 13, 14, and 15. I wrote to Attorney General Cynthia Coffman July 24, asking her to prohibit law enforcement from attending training to learn how to racially profile people, when I published this diary about Guandolo’s event. I never received a reply. Today, I called Denver Police Public Information to find out their response to the CAIR email on indoctrination of their officers. Again, no response. 

Guandolo makes a living spreading hate and fear of Muslims.

Southern Poverty Law Center considers Guandolo to be a spokesperson for hate groups.  Guandolo, kicked out of the FBI for having a sexual affair with a witness, claims that “Muslims do not have First Amendment rights to anything.” Fellow bigot Frank Gaffney of the Center for Security Policy is worried about Somali nationals packing meat in Greeley; At the Western Conservative Summit in Denver, Gaffney said:

I don’t know about you, but it kind of creeps me out that they are getting jobs in the food supply of the United States.

– Southern Poverty Law Center, Disgraced Former FBI Agent….

Four other states – Kansas, Texas, Arizona, and Virginia –  have prohibited these nuts from spreading their views, at least to police officers and public officials on the public’s payroll. Guandolo’s organization certainly is a “hate group”, and should not be spreading anti-Muslim bigotry and racial / religious profiling in Colorado.


Bigots, Birchers, and Islamophobes in Colorado Mainstream Now

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Groups promoting hatred and fear of Muslims, gays, immigrants, unionized workers, and people of color are openly meeting in Colorado. These meetings are being promoted by mainstream Republican activists, and are aimed at influencing policy by informing local law enforcement and legislators of the  “threats” these groups pose. The John Birch Society had an Executive Dinner in Denver July 24.  RMGO is promoting an anti-Muslim training session for law enforcement, community and the public Aug. 13-15.

John Birch Society- the Founding Bigots

The John Birch Society met July 24, at the Doubletree Hilton Hotel in North Denver.  Many mainstream GOP activists planned to attend, according to their Facebook pages. The John Birch Society (JBS) has a long history of racism and religious bigotry in the United States, and was where the Koch Brothers learned how to prey upon the fears of the ignorant.

In the JBS world view, communists are everywhere.

The JBS had its origins in the McCarthy era, as an anti-Communist group.  “Birchers” preached that all Civil Rights Movement leaders and actions were Communist-inspired. My father, an editorial writer for the Post, used to rail about the “Goddamn Birchers” who would oppose every piece of civil rights or anti-poverty legislation in Denver, and tried to suppress his editorials in the 1960s.

Although JBS leadership now wears three-piece suits, and meets at $50 a plate fundraising dinners in nice hotel ballrooms, their messaging has changed very little: “Those people” (leftists, feminists, unionists, environmentalists, gays, Muslims, the UN, Democrats, people of color promoting Obama’s “race war”) are conspiring to take away your American way of life,  and they must be stopped, preferably with a hefty donation to the JBS. 

The JBS contributes heavily to “Right to Work” and other ALEC- generated legislation.  Colorado legislators are rated  on the JBS “Freedom Index”. Rated at 70% or higher: Mike Coffman, Doug Lamborn, Scott Tipton,  Cory Gardner, and Ken Buck . It will be interesting to see which of these Republican politicians attended the JBS dinner.

 John Guandalo: RMGO sponsored workshops August 13-15 on “Understanding the Threat” of the Global Islamic Movement



Get More Smarter on Wednesday (Feb. 25)

Get More Smarter

BIll O'Reilly would have signed the Declaration of Independence, but he overslept. It's time to Get More Smarter with Colorado Pols. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here's a good example).


► Late yesterday, the Governor's Oil & Gas Taskforce released its "recommendations" for dealing with fracking…and they were about as anti-climactic as skeptics had expected. After months of meetings, the task force submitted a handful of small proposals to Gov. John Hickenlooper, though the most robust proposals for promoting more local control failed to move forward. Conservation Colorado Executive Director Pete Maysmith said the taskforce produced "some gravy, but forgot the meat and potatoes"; Noble Energy Vice President (and task-force member) Dan Kelly told the Denver Post that he thinks the group's recommendations "will address the issue." Congressman Jared Polis (D-Boulderish) was blunt in his assessment that "the oil and gas industry proved they weren't interested in a compromise or solving problems." So, that went well.

► Despite holding majority control of both chambers of Congress, Republicans continue to fight amongst themselves over whether to authorize funding for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) before Friday's deadline. As Politico reports, both Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) and House Speaker John Boehner (R-Tanning Bed) are pretty well hosed:

McConnell has been quiet for weeks about his next steps. But his new proposal on Tuesday — to extend DHS funding through September while advancing a separate plan to block a portion of Obama’s immigration proposal — signaled that he’s nervous a shutdown could damage his party politically. Twenty-four GOP senators are up for reelection next year.

Boehner is in an even tighter jam: Any sense that he is caving to the White House could further erode confidence in his leadership among the far right, which is furious at Obama’s immigration push. Boehner has not directly addressed whether he’d put a stand-alone funding bill on the floor, and several Republican leadership sources say they favor several short-term measures to try to keep the heat on the White House.

Get even more smarter after the jump…



Beauprez Says Secession About “Celebrating Diversity”


Republican gubernatorial nominee Bob Beauprez was featured in a sit-down interview with Fox 31's Eli Stokols that aired Sunday morning on Stokols' #COPolitics public affairs show.

One of the topics of conversation involved the failed Secession movement of last fall, in which voters of 11 counties cast ballots on the question of seceding from the State of Colorado to form a 51st State. The total number of voters able to vote on the topic of secession was relatively small, as we pointed out before, and a majority of politicians on both side of the political aisle did not approve of the proposal.

Stokols asked Beauprez about the Secession effort and where he stood on the issue; as you can see in the video below (beginning around the 7:40 mark), Beauprez says he did not support Secession. But Beauprez does talk a lot about sad rural Coloradans before attempting the odd connection that secession is really about "celebrating diversity" (as opposed to what it really was: a small, loud group of angry partisans who refuse to concede that the majority of Colorado's population is not aligned with rural interests any longer).

"I did not support the secession movement, but I certainly understood the sentiment — that's the key here."

This is a little different, of course, than what Beauprez said about the Secession movement last September. In Voice of America News (Sept. 16, 2013), Beauprez was clearly trying to align himself with sad rural Colorado:

"…maybe we ought to just go our separate ways.  Why don’t you run your state and we'll run ours."

Which state is that, exactly, Bob?



Sad Rural Republicans Suspend Sad Plan to Change Legislature

State of Northern Colorado

It’s not over yet, non-rural people.

The Grand Junction Sentinel follows up on a press release sent over the weekend announcing that the "Restoring Colorado" (Secession 2.0) movement was being suspended on account of nobody cares.

Ballot Initiative #111 sought to re-allocate seats for the State House on the basis of land size — rather than the far-more appropriate method of population size — but organizers of "Restoring Colorado" announced in an email on Saturday that they were "suspending" the campaign. From "Restoring Colorado":

It is with a sad heart that we ask you to suspend your efforts to get Ballot Initiative #111 on the November 2014 ballot to redesign the Colorado House of Representatives.  Even taking into account our Fourth of July push, we simply do not have enough petitions out in the hands of volunteers to make the goal of 86,105 signatures in the next 26 days.

We had hoped, in late June, that parties might step up to fund paid circulators to get us over the top, but that did not materialize.  It will take time to build that financial foundation.

Since state statutes allow only tax issues on the ballot in 2015, our plan is to use the next eighteen months to build a stronger network across the entire state.  We welcome—and need—your help in that.  In January of 2016, we plan to go through the initiative process at the state level to begin the petition drive again, with much more time and a wider support base.  Our new goal is to have this issue on the November 2016 ballot. 

"Restoring Colorado" plans to return in 2016 with a similar ballot measure, though by then enough time will have passed since the 2013 Secession debacle that potential supporters may be inclined to just move along to something else. But that doesn't mean that this issue won't still have ramifications in 2014. Remember, Rep. Cory Gardner — the GOP nominee for U.S. Senate (in Colorado) — is one of the few Northern Colorado politicians who has somehow managed to avoid taking a position on the idea of seceding from Colorado. The Editorial Board of the Denver Post called out Gardner last November for repeatedly ducking the issue. As the Post wrote on Nov. 1:

"When asked about the 51st state initiative previously, Congressman Gardner has said that he loves Colorado," [Gardner spokesman Alex] Siciliano added.

OK, but does he love Colorado enough to stay a part of it?

By choosing to "suspend" its campaign rather than just give it up altogether, "Restoring Colorado" is leaving this big 'ol matza ball hanging in the air for Gardner. The discontent among rural Republicans with their "big city" neighbors continues to fester, with State Sen. Ellen Roberts recently bemoaning the plight of rural Coloradans. And in an interview on KOA's Mike Rosen Show in late June. "Restoring Colorado" organizer Randy Schafer (who is also a Phillips County administrator), really upped the rhetoric:

"Rural people are the new disenfranchised minority."

          — Randy Schafer, on the Mike Rosen Show in June 2014.

Last November's vote on secession failed miserably, and ever since, the 51st State movement has become increasingly absurd. But they haven't yet become irrelevant — not when the Republican candidate for Senate is still silent on whether or not he would prefer to serve as Colorado's Senator or as the first Senator of a new Northern Colorado state. It's worth noting, after all, that the man who will succeed Gardner in Congress — Ken Buck was openly opposed to the idea of secession even before ballots were cast last fall.

Complete email announcement from "Restoring Colorado" follows after the jump.



Secession, the Sequel

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

I received my first email today asking to join the "Restoring Colorado" movement.  In a perfect world this would be a great idea.  Being the fifth-generation of my family to live in rural Colorado, that 'blood' runs deep.  I personally believe in the mostly-untapped potential of our region to produce energy, local food and environmental services.  Statewide, we are a $40 billion industry; we have nothing but opportunity. 

But a trip down memory lane reminds me of what we've morphed in to: Amendment 37, perhaps the best public policy (in modern times)?  We fought it.  Embracing environmental services?  No thanks.  Childhood poverty?  Off the chart while we simultaneously remain a recipient of federal transfers AND claim to be independent.  Marriage equality?  Not on our watch.  Guns?  Dudley Brown as the face of our citizens?

Sadly, I have not yet exhausted "the list".

If you listen to the YouTube below by Jeffrey Hare, you could come to the conclusion he's making the case for Initiative 75 (Local Control), yet every nearly every major farm organization opposes the proposed constitutional amendment.  So I'm pretty sure he's not supporting I-75.



In CD-4, Secession Question May Play Big Role in Winning GOP Nomination

cd-4 candidates and secession

Guess who?

Lynn Bartels of the Denver Post takes a look at the race to succeed Congressman Cory Gardner in CD-4, which includes a particularly interesting tidbit about the secession issue. 

Weld County Commissioner Barbara Kirkmeyer has the endorsement of fellow Commissioner Sean Conway, who was one of the ringleaders of last year's disastrous secession efforts. Weld County voters opposed secession when the final ballots were cast, as did the overwhelming majority of voters who cast a ballot on the issue. But that doesn't mean Kirkmeyer won't use her support of secession in a Republican Primary, as Bartels reports:

She noted her involvement in last year's secession movement involving 11 counties — 10 of which are in the 4th District.

"It wasn't so much about seceding from the state as it was sending a message that there's a lot of discontent with what was going on at the state Capitol," Kirkmeyer said, pointing to bills about renewable energy mandates and gun control.

Buck was opposed to secession. Renfroe, while in agreement that the Democratic-controlled legislature was not listening, did not publicly say where he stood.

Former Senate candidate and current CD-4 frontrunner Ken Buck opposed secession when pressed to give an opinion last fall, but Gardner has consistently avoided the question — to the extent that the Denver Post editorial board even called him out on it. Now running for the U.S. Senate, Gardner would like to continue to avoid answering that question. But as Kirkmeyer continues to make it an issue, she may also force Scott Renfroe to publicly support the idea as well. If secession becomes something of a litmus test for Republican candidates in CD-4, you can bet it will only increase the pressure on Gardner to say something about his position — and there's only one good answer to that question for "Con Man Cory."




In Which The “51st State Movement” Just Gets Ridiculous


Analisa Romano of the Greeley Tribune reports today, with most of the story behind a paywall:

If Greeley residents had not voted in last week’s election, the 51st state initiative still would have been shot down by Weld County voters, according to a breakdown of ballots provided by the Weld County Clerk and Recorder’s Office.

Without Greeley voters included, 52 percent of Weld County voters would have chosen not to move forward with seceding from the state of Colorado, versus 48 percent who voted for the measure.

The final count on the 51st state question was 56 percent of Weld County voters against secession, compared to 44 percent in support.

The city of Greeley is the largest population center both within Weld County, as well as all eleven mostly rural Colorado counties who voted on a secession ballot question this month. Six of those eleven counties voted against–not just in Weld, but also truly rural locations like Lincoln and Sedgwick counties. Now, most reasonable people would conclude from that that the secession movement was simply a bad idea.

Weld County commissioners last week said they feel the rural-urban divide also exists within the county. [Pols emphasis]

Oh, okay, so it wasn't that secession was a bad idea? It's just that those Greeley city-slickers (we're amazed to be typing that with a straight face) are infected with the same urban degeneracy that exists in the obviously foreign nations of Denver and Boulder!

Except that's not true either. As it turns out, the voters of Weld County–regardless of how far out on the fruited plain they live–rejected the secession measure, even without…the mean streets…of Greeley. And with that, we can't hold back our laughter anymore. It's just irredeemably preposterous.

Weld County commissioners. Note Colorado flag to right.

Weld County commissioners. Note Colorado flag to right.

​Do you think we're being too hard on these poor Weld County commissioners, groping for an excuse to explain away their abject failure of a secession movement? Folks, we run the state of Colorado's political blog of record. The Weld County board of commissioners–Doug Rademacher, Sean Conway, William Garcia, Mike Freeman and Barbara Kirkmeyer–wanted to break up the state of Colorado, a state we happen to love. They never had a good reason. It was absurdist folly from the very beginning. They relied on offensive "urban vs. rural" stereotypes that, now that they have failed to provoke a secession movement, are apparently being applied within Weld County as an excuse for the movement's failure. To call that pathetic is, we believe, a considerable understatement.

In a perfect world, this nonsense would cost all five of them their political careers. But that will depend on the same Weld County voters, and Greeley voters, whose intelligence they have so thoroughly insulted.


Talk About Your All-Time Backfires: 51st State Effort Fails Miserably

"Holy Shit! Talk about your all-time backfires."
      – Adam Sandler in Happy Gilmore

Amid all the talk of the secession effort, or "51st State" movement, we tried our best here at Colorado Pols to keep things in perspective. At the same time, others tried to prop up the rural revolt against Democrats the Denver Metro area as a significant political moment, not just in Colorado but perhaps even nationally. Before votes were being counted in the 11 counties considering secession, we thought it was important to consider the total number of people involved — the entire population of those 11 counties is about 360,000, or 7% of Colorado's population.

One thing we never really discussed here is what might happen if Weld County Commissioner Sean Conway's pet project completely backfired. Yes, we were dismissive of the secession effort, but we were still surprised at how miserably it failed:


NO: 50,614 (55%)
YES: 40,757 (45%)

The results are so bad that it will be hard for Conway and others to continue to support their argument that rural Colorado is "fed up" with the Front Range. After Weld County rejected secession by a 57-43 margin, Conway told the Denver Post that they will "continue to look at the problems of the urban and rural divide in Colorado." But why will anyone listen? He and other "51st state" advocates put all their chips in the center of the table, and voters called their bluff.

Sean Conway

Sean Conway and his plaid jacket

Conway and friends will point out that the secession question passed in 5 of the 11 counties, but so what? The "51st state" effort was billed as a "movement," and any halfway-serious discussion of secession depends on more than just a handful of sparsely-populated counties. Supporters of secession called it a symbol of rural anger, etc., and that is how the outcome must be judged. The number of counties that voted in favor of secession is of secondary importance to the total vote count on the issue.

The Denver Post reported, rather ridiculously, that the measure passed "by strong margins" in those 5 counties. While that is true when you look at percentages, it's more than a bit misleading when you don't bother to point out that the largest number of votes in favor of secession was in Yuma county — where a whopping 2,008 people voted YES. Only 91,371 people bothered to vote on the issue — not even 2% of Colorado's population even cast a ballot.

Of those 91,371 votes, 64% were cast in Weld County alone. In fact, if you add up all of the votes cast on the issue in the other 10 counties, the number (32,620) barely adds up to more than half of Weld County's votes. With that perspective, what does it say that 5 counties voted in favor of secession? Not much.

Take a look at the vote breakdowns by county after the jump:



Total Votes for Secession Likely Less than 2% of Colorado


We understand that secession is an interesting topic this Election Day; after all, the idea of trying to secede to form a new state isn't something that you normally find on the ballot. But as conservative politicians increasingly try to distance themselves from the topic, we would remind our friends in the media and around the state to keep the secession effort in the proper perspective.

A vote for secession is a symbol, to some degree, that some rural Coloradans are increasingly frustrated by the growing (and inevitable) population shifts to the Denver Metro area. Yet while 11 counties are voting on secession today, many more rural counties chose not to even put the issue on the ballot. And of those that are voting, their total population represents less than 7% of Colorado's population. Less than half of that 7% will cast a vote one way or the other for secession, and it would take about 60% of those voters to surpass the 100,000 mark.

In other words, the bluster of secession doesn't actually add up to much. When all of the votes are counted, it is quite likely that less than 2% of Coloradans will have voted in favor of seceding and forming a new state. It that still an interesting story? Sure, as a footnote. But as a significant political movement? Nope.



Statewide Candidates Ditch Secession While Cory Gardner Dodges

SATURDAY UPDATE: The Denver Post editorial board busts Rep. Cory Gardner's chops pretty well today:

"When asked about the 51st state initiative previously, Congressman Gardner has said that he loves Colorado," [Gardner spokesman Alex] Siciliano added.

OK, but does he love Colorado enough to stay a part of it?



FOX 31's Eli Stokols reports:

State Sen. Greg Brophy, one of four prominent Republicans vying to be their party’s gubernatorial candidate next year, told FOX31 Denver Thursday that he will vote against a ballot measure for Yuma County to secede from the state of Colorado and form a 51st state along with other rural counties.

“It’s a drastic thing, like a couple that’s been married for 50 years suddenly filing for divorce,” Brophy said Thursday. “I’m running for governor to be the marriage counselor, to help bring this state back together."

Resisting the urge to make a joke out of Sen. Greg Brophy's "marriage counselor" analogy, he's the second candidate for high office in Colorado after U.S. Senate candidate Ken Buck to come out against the secession proposals being voted on next week in ten rural Colorado counties. Buck and Brophy were under particular pressure to take a stand on secession, being items on their respective ballots in Yuma and Weld counties.



Do Colorado Candidates Support Secession?

UPDATE: The Denver Post's Kurtis Lee reports, Ken Buck is a "no" vote on secession:

“I think the better strategy is to work to defeat the out-of-touch politicians causing this feel of separation,” said Buck, a GOP candidate in 2014 for U.S. Senate. Five Republicans have announced their candidacies and are vying to challenge incumbent Democratic U.S. Sen. Mark Udall…

Buck said his decision was “tough.”

“It’s a symbolic gesture,” he said of the secession plan. “But there are a lot of people who feel strongly they’re being ignored. My wife, Perry, and I are traveling around the state on weekends and that sentiment is widespread.”


51st State

Voters deserve to know whether candidates would vote for secession.

The Colorado Democratic Party sent out a press release today (full release after the jump) demanding that Republican Senate candidate Ken Buck disclose whether he plans to vote in favor of the secession ballot measure.

Normally we don't get all that jazzed up about the kind of press release or announcement where somebody (whoever it is) "demands" or "calls on" somebody else to disclose something, but in the case of secession, we think voters do have a right to know where candidates stand. This is particularly true in Buck's case;  Weld County is where this whole secession nonsense began, and as the Weld County District Attorney and a candidate for U.S. Senate, his opinion is certainly relevant.

Other Republican candidates, such as gubernatorial hopeful Greg Brophy (whose state senate district is in Yuma county, which is also voting on secession), have danced around the question, but it's important for reporters to keep broaching the subject. For Brophy, Buck, (as well as Rep. Cory Gardner, who is also from Yuma), and other candidates running for office in 2014, the public deserves to know whether they support the idea of a new state — particularly when they are asking for votes to represent Colorado in 2015.

In fact, we'd like to see all of the candidates for statewide office, Congress and the legislature make it known whether they support secession…because they might be asked to cast a vote in their respective legislative body should the secession idea progress to that point. While the odds of secession actually facing a vote in the state legislature or Congress aren't particularly strong, that doesn't make the question any less relevant so long as some Colorado voters are casting ballots on the idea.



Secession Movement’s New, But Actually Very Old Groove


The Denver Post's Monte Whaley reports:

A new proposal to give rural Colorado residents more clout in the legislature by changing the way senators are apportioned goes hand-in-hand with the 51st state movement, proponents of both ideas say.

"As long as something changes and gives us some voice in what happens in this state, there is more than one way to skin a cat," Phillips County administrator Randy Schafer said…

Rep. Jerry Sonnenberg, R-Sterling, is advancing a new plan that shifts the emphasis to the state Senate.

His proposal would give one state senator to each of the six largest counties by land mass — Las Animas, Moffat, Weld, Mesa, Gunnison, and Rio Blanco. The remaining counties would be paired off, and one senator would be elected from each group.

We'll start with the bottom line that this story omits: the two "plans" mentioned in this story to "reweigh" legislative districts in favor of "greater rural representation," whether the so-called "Phillips County" plan to apportion House districts by county or Rep. Jerry Sonnenberg's referred measure to similarly alter Senate districts, are unconstitutional per the 1964 Supreme Court decision of Reynolds vs. Sims. This decision overturned the state of Alabama's legislative apportionment, stating that "the right of suffrage is denied by debasement or dilution of a citizen's vote," and that "the Equal Protection Clause requires substantially equal legislative representation for all citizens in a State regardless of where they reside."



Keeping Secession in Perspective

The Washington Post ran an interesting story today about a rapidly aging population in Iowa, which included some fascinating figures:

Iowa is one of eight states where the population hasn’t doubled over the last century. It’s the only state that hasn’t grown by at least 50 percent in the same time, said Tim Albrecht, a spokesman for Gov. Terry Branstad (R). Iowa had 2.2 million residents in 1900; the 2010 Census estimated the state had 3 million residents.

Those numbers got us thinking about the Colorado counties that are planning to ask their citizens to vote on seceding from the state. There are 11 counties, by our count, that have approved a ballot measure asking voters if they want to secede from Colorado (which, of course, is only a very small step toward an otherwise implausible final outcome). Weld County, the ringleader of this circus, is far and away the largest of the 11 counties considering secession. With a 2012 population estimate of 263,691 residents, Weld County has grown at roughly the same rate as the State of Colorado since 1910 — increasing its population by about 650% in the past century.

But what about the other 10 counties in question (see chart below)? That's where things start to look a bit silly when news articles lump the counties together as a "movement." The combined estimated 2012 population of those 10 counties is 96,270 — or just about 37% of the entire population of Weld County. Some of those 10 counties saw modest population increases in the last 100 years, but four (Cheyenne, Lincoln, Sedgwick, and Washington) actually had more residents in 1910 than in 2012. 

So as we hear more about Colorado counties trying to secede from the state, it's important to keep in mind the amount of people we are talking about here. This isn't to say that the opinion of a rural county resident is less important than someone in Metro Denver — there are just fewer of those opinions by an exponential amount. Population shifts to the Front Range created more Front Range legislators, which is exactly how our representative Democracy is intended to function.

COUNTY 2012 POP. 1910 POP.
Weld 263,691 39,177
Cheyenne 1,874 3,687
Elbert 23,383 5,331
Kit Carson 8,094 7,483
Lincoln 5,453 5,917
Logan 22,631 9,549
Moffat* 13,200 5,129
Phillips 4,367 3,179
Sedgwick 2,383 3,061
Washington 4,766 6,002
Yuma 10,119 8,499

*Census data for Moffat County begins in 1920, not 1910.


Greg Brophy Nimbly Dances Around Obvious Secession Questions


As the Grand Junction Sentinel's Charles Ashby reports:

[I]f some people in several of the counties in his expansive northeast Colorado Senate district have their way, the Wray Republican who’s seeking the GOP nomination to challenge Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper soon could live in another state.

The state of North Colorado.

Brophy, who’s in town to attend this weekend’s Club 20 fall meeting, said that while he encouraged commissioners in numerous counties in his district to place a 51st state initiative on their November ballots, he isn’t necessarily in favor of the idea…

“I encouraged my county commissioners to move forward with this to catch the governor’s attention and the state Legislature’s attention,” Brophy said. “I think that most of the counties will vote to secede, but it won’t pass through the state Legislature.”

If such a vote passed, though, Brophy said he would be obligated to introduce a measure into the Legislature if his constituents demanded it of him, even though he’s not sure how he would vote on it.

Greg Brophy.

Greg Brophy.

Sen. Greg Brophy's (albeit wholly realistic) lack of confidence in the ultimate success of the movement to split a number of rural Colorado counties, including Brophy's own Yuma County, into the separate state of North Colorado, could upset secession's proponents. If somebody "encouraged" you to do something, but then told a newspaper on the other side of the state that you're not "necessarily in favor" of it, wouldn't you find that a little two-faced?

With that said, it makes an obvious kind of sense that Brophy would keep his options open on how to vote on legislation to allow these counties to secede even if he was its sponsor–after all, he needs to preserve his status as a serious contender for governor of, you know, the rest of Colorado. We've been wondering how Brophy intended to juggle these competing interests.

And the answer is, as delicately as he can.


Secession Officially Gets More Stupider

This is stupid

Good luck with forming your new state.

We've talked plenty in this space about the complete and utter nonsense of the grandstanding "secession" efforts underway in some parts of rural Colorado.

The whole idea officially just got more stupider yesterday when Moffat County officials decided to put the secession question on the ballot, as reported by the Craig Daily Press (the article is behind a paywall, but thankfully the "picture tells a thousand words" image of three old white dudes can be viewed by all).

For those of you who are a little rusty on your Colorado geography, here's Moffat County in relation to Weld County, the latter being the progenitor of this idiocy:



A Few Words on “Taking Secession Seriously”

One proposed North Colorado flag (via Progress Now).

One proposed North Colorado flag (via Progress Now).

Today, the Denver Post devotes most of its front page, and a great deal of interior space, to tremendously in-depth coverage of the movement by (mostly) northeastern plains Colorado counties to secede and form a new state informally referred to today as North Colorado. Under a headline quote beginning with the words "they feel they have been ignored," there's a photo of a forlorn 13-year-old rodeo contestant riding a mostly empty carousel in Kit Carson County.

We later learn, reading reporter Monte Whaley's front-page story, that the headline "they feel they have been ignored" quote is none other than Sen. Greg Brophy, Yuma County farmer and GOP candidate for governor–but that is curiously not attributed above the fold. We assume readers will figure that out? We were a little struck by that. And does that mean Brophy is a supporter of secession and a candidate for governor of the rest of Colorado? That's kind of weird. We digress.

All told there are eight articles published today in the Post on the "51st state" movement, telling stories from the various counties where the question will appear on the ballot, as well as two where it won't. Once you get past Sen. Brophy's self-serving headline, the stories go into details about the concerns of some rural residents, while keeping the extreme unlikelihood of success in what we suppose you can call a reasonable context.

We have argued in this space that the mere talk of secession by elected Republican leaders in these mostly sparsely populated counties is not only a major long-term embarrassment to themselves, but actually detracts from what may be in some cases legitimate issues of equitable funding and services in rural areas relative to what the populous Front Range counties enjoy.

Nothing in the oddly expansive coverage of the secession movement in the Denver Post today changes our mind. 



Weld County Takes Silly Secession Sideshow To The Ballot


FOX 31's Thomas Hendrick:

The Greeley Tribune reported commissioners unanimously voted in favor of placing a 51st state initiate on the ballot.

The initiative reads: “Shall the Board of County Commissioners of Weld County, in concert with the county commissioners of other Colorado counties, pursue becoming the 51st state of the United States of America?”

Weld County has had a series of meetings talking about seceding from Colorado in recent months. Commissioners have cited a feeling that northeastern Colorado counties are ignored by the state legislature…

Liberals have mocked the move on blogs and on Twitter, where some tossed around new names for a separate, northern Colorado state: “Weldistan”, “Tancredonia” and “Fracktopia.”

“It’s embarrassing for them, and it’s embarrassing for the people they represent,” Jason Bane, the founder of the blog ColoradoPols, told FOX31 Denver. “They complain that the legislature didn’t listen to them — they DID listen to them, but in a Democracy, there are lots of other people who have viewpoints, and they don’t all throw a tantrum just because a vote doesn’t go their way.”

As we've said before, conflicts between urban and rural areas of the state are nothing new. But pursuit of a totally unworkable "solution," if anything, debases what may be legitimate complaints about rural priorities in state government. We've always felt that this secession business was solely meant to provide political visibility to otherwise obscure county-level politicians, but it's fascinating to see their inability to tell, as many of us have explained to our young children, good "attention" from bad.

Bottom line: making a joke of your grievances rarely solves them.