And Now, the Flip Side of the Texas Abortion Ban

UPDATE: Witness this mealy-mouthed nonsense from Maine Sen. Susan Collins:

 

In other words…SQUIRREL!

—–

Headline via “The Onion” (9/1/21)

As NBC News reports, President Biden is reacting strongly to a new abortion ban in Texas that took effect on Wednesday after the U.S. Supreme Court declined to intervene with an opinion:

President Joe Biden said Thursday he is launching a “whole-of-government” response to try to safeguard access to abortions in Texas after the Supreme Court’s decision not to block the state’s near-total ban on the procedure.

In a statement, Biden said he was directing the Office of the White House Counsel and his Gender Policy Council to involve the Health and Human Services Department and the Justice Department to evaluate what “legal tools we have to insulate women and providers from the impact of Texas’ bizarre scheme of outsourced enforcement to private parties.”…

…The president called the Supreme Court’s 5-4 ruling overnight “an unprecedented assault on a woman’s constitutional rights under Roe v. Wade” since the decision nearly 50 years ago.

“Complete strangers will now be empowered to inject themselves in the most private and personal health decisions faced by women,” Biden said. “This law is so extreme it does not even allow for exceptions in the case of rape or incest. And it not only empowers complete strangers to inject themselves into the most private of decisions made by a woman — it actually incentivizes them to do so with the prospect of $10,000 if they win their case.”

Again, via “The Onion” (9/1/21)

As we wrote yesterday, the draconian new anti-abortion law in Texas is a harsh lesson that elections have consequences. The reaction to the law from President Biden and other Democratic politicians — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has vowed to hold a floor vote on a bill that would ensure a woman’s right to an abortion in federal law — is also a reminder that bad policy positions can themselves have serious political reverberations. This could even be the case in deep-red Texas, since a majority of that state’s voters actually OPPOSE the new law.

Republican politicians (and media outlets) often insist that Roe v. Wade is “settled law” and that voters shouldn’t select candidates in a given election based upon their personal beliefs about access to safe abortion and contraception care. In fact, Republican politicians often downplay the issue of abortion because they know that any such discussion can cost them votes. This has been true in Colorado in recent elections, as this Denver Post story from the 2010 U.S. Senate race demonstrates:

As a Republican primary candidate, Ken Buck took absolutist positions on abortion and “personhood” — declaring that if elected to the U.S. Senate he would sponsor a constitutional amendment to ban abortion and backing a proposed state law that would outlaw some common forms of birth control.

Now, faced with televised attacks from incumbent Sen. Michael Bennet over those strident views, Buck is painstakingly trying to modify positions that may not match the beliefs of the unaffiliated moderates who will ultimately decide the contest. [Pols emphasis]

Before the Republican caucuses, Buck answered a Christian family group’s questionnaire and said he supported Amendment 62, the “Personhood Amendment,” on the Colorado ballot.

Buck said Saturday through his campaign spokesman that he will now vote against the measure.

Republican U.S. Senate candidate Eli Bremer would rather fight you in a duel than answer questions about abortion.

What was true in 2010 remains that way in 2021. As Ernest Luning reports for the publication formerly known as the Colorado Statesman, Republican U.S. Senate hopeful Eli Bremer wants absolutely nothing to do with questions about the Texas law:

El Paso County Republican Eli Bremer, a former GOP official and Olympian, said in a text message to Colorado Politics that he wasn’t comfortable commenting [Pols emphasis] because it wasn’t clear whether the high court was simply waiting for another case that could establish a clearer precedent to reach its docket.

Bremer, like Buck 11 years earlier, is smart enough to understand that while his right-wing base might be fervently anti-abortion, the majority of people in Colorado absolutely ARE NOT. Colorado voters have consistently rejected anti-abortion measures of all shapes and sizes when given the opportunity (just search for “personhood fail” in the sidebar). The polling data below, conducted in November 2020, affirms this point: More than 70% of Colorado voters are clearly in the “pro-choice” category.

November 2020 polling from Global Strategy Group for Cobalt

 

Unlike others such as State Republican Party Chair Kristi Burton Brown, Bremer may prefer to stay far away from commenting on this subject. Unfortunately for Bremer, that’s not how this whole “politics” thing works. Recent statewide Republican candidates in Colorado such as Cory Gardner (U.S. Senate, 2020) and Walker Stapleton (Governor, 2018) were unapologetically anti-abortion, and each lost their respective races by an average of 10 points. Neither Gardner nor Stapleton, however, had to contend with a ridiculous abortion ban that is the subject of widespread derision (note the two headlines from “The Onion“).

The Texas law may or may not survive a court challenge, but either way, it is now a must-answer question for politicians in 2022.

Eli Bremer Doesn’t Want to be Taken Seriously

UPDATE: We’re sorry to report it gets even sillier:

Real Americans (see: Boebert, Lauren) don’t need any stinking stock photos of their guns.

Even Jeb! Bush has Eli Bremer beat.

—–

Earlier this month, Republican Eli Bremer formally announced his intention to seek the GOP nomination for U.S. Senate in 2022. Bremer made his announcement with a weird online video that largely only targeted a right-wing audience. He didn’t do any sort of event IN COLORADO, and we haven’t seen or heard much from him since he made his candidacy official.

We haven’t been clear on how serious to take Bremer’s candidacy; after all, he is relatively unknown in Colorado and has had trouble winning even minor elections for official Republican Party positions. But Bremer clarified how his campaign should be perceived with this Tweet today:

 

You absolutely should be offended that a candidate for U.S. Senate is hinting that Americans should basically take up arms and attack “leftist politicians.” You’ll get no argument from us that this is gross and irresponsible.

From a strategic political perspective, however, our take is a little different. This, in a word, is silly.

This is the kind of base level mouthbreather pandering that we would expect from someone like that Erik Aadland guy, whom nobody would consider a serious candidate for U.S. Senate. This is a “look at me!” Tweet designed to attract low-information, small-donation Republican donors. This is not a message from someone who is thinking at all about how they can appeal to a broad swath of voters in Colorado. Politicians who do this sort of thing are basically saying, “Don’t take me seriously.”

In short, real candidates with plausible political ambitions beyond winning a Republican Primary in a bright-red district don’t casually suggest armed rebellions. Eli Bremer just maced himself in the face.

“The Big Line: 2022” Updates (August 2021)

Back in June, we went through the five statewide offices that will be on the ballot in 2022 in an attempt to provide some clarity about who (on the Republican side) might be running for what in Colorado. Two months later, the 2022 election situation (and The Big Line) remains what you might charitably call, “fluid” for the GOP. Here’s a look at where things stand as of today with each of the five big statewide races…

 

En garde!

U.S. SENATE

Former El Paso County Republican Party Chairperson Eli Bremer made it official earlier this month that he will seek the GOP nomination for U.S. Senate in 2022, with his eyes on incumbent Democrat Michael Bennet next November. Bremer is virtually unknown to most Colorado voters and isn’t even a slam dunk choice for more politically-astute Republicans, but he’s probably a better option for the GOP than Juli Henry, strange newcomer Erik Aadland or Peter Yu, who ran a no-hope campaign in CO-02 in 2020 before losing to incumbent Democrat Joe Neguse.

The big remaining question for Republicans is whether someone else might join the GOP field for Senate, with right-wing radio host/attorney Dan Caplis still pondering a campaign of his own. Caplis is certainly not more likely to defeat Bennet in a General Election, but he could make the Republican Primary more interesting.

 

Bottom Line: If Republicans had a good candidate to run for U.S. Senate in 2022, that person would likely already be in the race. Bennet wasn’t going to be a national target for Republicans anyway — not after former Sen. Cory Gardner face-planted last November — so the eventual GOP nominee is essentially just the person who will finish in second place 15 months from now.   

 

Heidi Ganahl

GOVERNOR

Republicans know that they aren’t going to beat incumbent Democrat Jared Polis in 2022, but somebody has to try. Former Parker Mayor Greg Lopez has been running for Governor since [checks calendar] August 2019, but his ceiling isn’t much higher than the third place finish he had in the 2018 GOP gubernatorial primary.

University of Colorado Regent Heidi Ganahl is the lone remaining Republican statewide officeholder in Colorado. She has been teasing a potential run for Governor since late 2020. After flirting with the possibility of running for State Treasurer instead, it appears that Ganahl will indeed jump into the race (officially) sometime in early September.

 

Bottom Line: This is Polis’ race to lose. Ganahl’s candidacy doesn’t change that.

 

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Get More Smarter on Wednesday (August 11)

Your horoscope today says something about progress and fulfillment (probably). Let’s Get More Smarter; if you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of an audio learner, check out The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter

 

CORONAVIRUS INFO…

*Colorado Coronavirus info:
CDPHE Coronavirus website 

*Daily Coronavirus numbers in Colorado:
http://covid19.colorado.gov

*How you can help in Colorado:
COVRN.com

*Locate a COVID-19 testing site in Colorado:
Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment 

*Coloradans can now get a COVID-19 vaccine at one of six locations without a prior appointment. 

 

Oregon will join Louisiana and Hawaii in instituting a statewide mask mandate as concerns grow over the Delta variant of COVID-19. From The Washington Post:

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown (D) is expected Wednesday to put in place a statewide indoor mask mandate and a vaccination requirement for state employees, citing concerns over growing coronavirus cases due to the more transmissible delta variant.

The indoor mask mandate will make Oregon the third state — following Louisiana and Hawaii — to apply the measures to both vaccinated and unvaccinated people, as bans on mask and vaccine mandates play out in a number of Republican-run states such as Texas and Florida. Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak (D) last month mandated that face coverings be worn indoors in public settings in counties with “substantial or high transmission.”…

…Brown’s decision comes as schools and political leaders battle over masks elsewhere. Florida’s second-largest school system is now threatening legal action to challenge the ban on mask mandates by Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) and voted Tuesday evening to keep its own requirements in place for students and staff.

The Broward County School Board — which voted 8 to 1 on Tuesday to uphold its mask mandate despite DeSantis’s move to curb such restrictions and subsequent threat to stop paying superintendents and school board members who defy his orders — said in an evening news conference that it told its legal counsel to prepare a challenge.

Local leaders are increasingly rejecting efforts by Republican governors from Florida to Texas to prohibit mask mandates. Private companies are also implementing vaccination requirements despite threats from Republican governors.

Here in Colorado, COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations are the worse they have been since May.

 

The U.S. Census Bureau is expected to release final data on Thursday that will guide the process of redistricting. As Colorado Public Radio explains, there are a lot of criticisms for the redistricting commissions to sift through:

When the U.S. Census Bureau releases its final numbers on Thursday, it will start the clock on a mad dash to prepare final congressional and statehouse maps.

Nonpartisan state staffers will have just over three weeks to combine that data with feedback on the state’s draft map and release an updated version for the state’s new Redistricting Commission to consider.

For the past six weeks, Coloradans of all stripes have been weighing in on where the lines should go for the state’s congressional and statehouse districts. The final result could shape the balance of power between the parties, and the level of representation for different interest groups, for the next decade.

Several Latino organizations have raised concerns that preliminary maps dilute the political power of the state’s second-largest ethnic group.

There’s a similar story today from Denver7:

 

Big news for former Colorado Sen. Ken Salazar:

 

 Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters is furiously digging as deep a hole as possible for herself. Following news that Peters may have been involved in a serious breach of election security, she showed up at “MyPillow Guy” Mike Lindell’s lunatic election fraud symposium on Tuesday that is allegedly going to unveil “proof” of fraud in the 2020 Presidential election any day now.

 

 

Click below to keep learning stuff…

 

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Eli Bremer for Senate, Or Whatever

 

Eli Bremer and some dirt

We finally have a notable Republican campaign announcement for 2022 (sorry, Erik Aadland)!

Former El Paso County Republican Party Chairperson Eli Bremer made it official today with a rather silly online ad that he will seek the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate in 2022.

As Justin Wingerter reports for The Denver Post:

The 43-year-old Republican competed in the modern pentathlon at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing and has worked as an Olympics announcer for NBC since, including during this year’s Games. He also serves on a congressional committee that is studying possible reforms to the U.S. Olympic system.

Bremer has never run for public office but was the El Paso County GOP chairman from 2011-2013 and his family has deep ties to Colorado Springs politics. His father was a county commissioner and his wife currently is. His uncle, Paul Bremer, was a presidential envoy to Iraq in the 2000s.

This is the point where you think to yourself, Oh, THAT’S why I recognize the name ‘Bremer.’ If you have a particularly good memory for Colorado politics, you might also recall that Eli’s father, Duncan Bremer, was one of the six Republican candidates who ran for a vacant seat in Congress in CO-05 in 2006 (that GOP Primary was ultimately won by current Rep. Doug Lamborn). Bremer’s wife, Cami Bremer, is also a first-term commissioner in El Paso County.

Eli Bremer’s most recent political experience included a two year stint as Chair of the El Paso County Republican Party. In 2020, Bremer was involved in a spat with then-State Party Chairman Ken Buck about a district assembly that may have unfairly excluded at least one Republican candidate and might have opened up Buck to charges of perjury.

Bremer competed in the modern pentathlon in the 2008 Olympics, which [checks Wikipedia] involves running, swimming, jumping a horse, shooting a pistol, and fencing (presumably not all at once). Bremer has since done Olympic television commentary for the modern pentathlon, which resulted in this completely bizarre Facebook post from last week about Bremer taking a cautious approach to a story about a coach who may have punched a horse (there’s NO WAY we could make this up).

Via Eli Bremer’s Facebook page

Bremer has long expressed interest in the 2022 Senate race, telling Ernest Luning of the publication formerly known as the Colorado Statesman in June that he was “very, very, very, very serious” about the idea. Bremer is now the most prominent Republican candidate for U.S. Senate mostly because nobody else in the GOP has been even “very” interested in challenging incumbent Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet.

With former state lawmaker Clarice Navarro apparently backing away from making a Senate run in 2022, that leaves the Republicans with only right-wing radio host/ambulance chasing lawyer Dan Caplis as a potential candidate with an ability to gather any sort of serious resources for a 2022 campaign.

In other words, Eli Bremer is probably the frontrunner for the GOP Senate nomination. That’s good news if your name is Michael Bennet, but less exciting if you are a Colorado Republican.

So Many Captions For One Awkward Photo

Committed to the public domain by Rep. Lauren Boebert’s official Twitter account, from yesterday’s visit by Interior Secretary Deb Haaland (center) to Grand Junction accompanied by (from left) Sen. Michael Bennet, Rep. Joe Neguse, Gov. Jared Polis, and Sen. John Hickenlooper:

There’s a lot going on here, and 90% of it doesn’t need to be said.

Take care of the other 10%, gentle readers.

“Bennet Bucks”–Slashing Child Poverty, Locking In Re-Election

Sen. Michael Bennet (D-livers).

As the Pueblo Chieftain’s Sara Wilson reports, this morning millions of American families are waking up to a fresh round of economic relief in their bank accounts–with billions more on the way, marking one of the biggest direct transfers of wealth into the cash flows of families with children in American history:

Eligible families will begin to receive monthly payments on Thursday for the expanded federal child tax credit, a milestone in social public policy that was passed as part of the American Rescue Plan Act earlier this year.

It’s a longtime legislative goal of Sen. Michael Bennet, a Democrat who represents Colorado.

“In my view, the expanded child tax credit is the biggest investment Washington has made in kids and families in more than a generation,” Bennet told constituents during a telephone town hall on July 12.

“It’s the most progressive change to the tax code in my lifetime.”

Couples making less than $150,000 and single heads of household making less than $112,500 will get half of their $3,000-$3,600 per child tax credit in monthly installments–or if taxpayers prefer, they can forego the payments and get all the money in a lump sum when filing their taxes next year. Either way it’s a dramatic increase in the child tax credit delivered sooner and providing sustained help to millions of American families. As FOX 31 reports, the battle now turns to making this historic relief for working families permanent:

“Even if we extend the child tax credit payment for a few years, that would still be a tremendous achievement for our kids and for our families. But if we can make it permanent, that would be a historic victory for America, no less important than what we did with social security or Medicare,” Bennet said. [Pols emphasis]

In terms of legislation that will have a direct and tangible impact on the lives of a very large percentage of the population, Sen. Bennet’s child tax credit expansion ranks among the most substantial achievements ever realized by a U.S. Senator from Colorado. Making this credit and the monthly relief payment plan permanent will create a stream of income directly to families with children, and is projected to result in the biggest reduction in child poverty since the Great Society reforms of the 1960s.

Superlatives get thrown around in politics until they’re meaningless. But what Sen. Michael Bennet and Democrats have achieved with the child tax credit expansion objectively is historic. Ever since Bennet’s appointment to the U.S. Senate in 2009 and through his two election wins in 2010 and 2016, he’s been frequently maligned from the left still sore that Andrew Romanoff didn’t win the 2010 primary. But especially in the last couple of years, Bennet has become an influential voice for progressive policy goals–as well as an advocate for breaking the filibuster logjam in the U.S. Senate to allow many more Democratic priorities to become law.

Bennet’s name won’t be on “Bennet Bucks” checks, of course, but with this accomplishment alone he’s given himself a formidable edge for his re-election campaign in 2022. A primary from the left has less than ever to offer in contrast, and the general election message for Bennet just got compellingly reinforced. It’s not “buying support,” and it’s not “socialism.” This is targeted economic relief where it helps the most.

And it’s the stuff great legacies are made of.

Coming Soon: Official GOP Campaign Announcements

Cowabunga!

We’ve noted on more than one occasion in this space that the Republican field of potential candidates for 2022 is remarkably sparse. That may be about to change.

Two things are different this week that might lead to some long-awaited announcements from 2022 hopefuls: 1) The Q2 fundraising period has concluded, and 2) We’ve made it past the extended holiday weekend(s) tacked onto Fourth of July festivities.

Candidates historically tend to wait until the beginning of a new fundraising quarter to officially launch their bids for elected office. A candidate’s first fundraising quarter is often a good barometer of the potential strength of that campaign, so it’s smart practice to time announcements to take full advantage of every available day in a particular fundraising period (in this case, after June 30). It’s also a wise idea to avoid making a big announcement when people aren’t paying attention to the news; thus this is the first conceivable week in which it would make sense to kick off a big campaign.

Overall, the field of potential candidates for statewide office in Colorado remains about as muddled as it was when we examined the subject in mid-June. We’ve updated The Big Line: 2022 with the latest chatter, but here are the Republican announcements we’re expecting within the next several weeks:

 

Secretary of State: Rose Pugliese
Pugliese’s interest in challenging Democratic incumbent Jena Griswold has been an open secret for months; at the same time, chatter about other potential SOS challengers has gone quiet. If you were going to bet money on the most likely GOP announcement for statewide office, this would be a fairly safe choice.

U.S. Senate: Eli Bremer
The former El Paso County GOP Chairman has been positioning himself to be the Republican nominee for Senate since well before 2021. We hear that Bremer has already had fairly extensive discussions with the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) and is beginning to pick up support from key Republican names in Colorado. Bremer is also believed to be further along than any other potential candidate in terms of forming a campaign staff. With so much uncertainty in the GOP field, there’s strategic value in being the first “plausible” Republican to announce a 2022 Senate campaign against incumbent Democrat Michael Bennet. It makes sense for Bremer to make his move here within the next few weeks.

Governor: Heidi Ganahl
Ganahl is the lone Republican statewide elected official in Colorado (she’s a CU Regent) and has been working hard to raise her profile in anticipation of a run for something bigger. After vacillating between running for Governor or State Treasurer, it looks like Ganahl is getting close to making her gubernatorial ambitions official (even though recent polling shows Ganahl losing to incumbent Democrat Jared Polis by 20 points). Ganahl might wait a little longer to make the jump than Pugliese and Bremer, but we expect this announcement fairly soon.

 

We’re still waiting to hear more about potential GOP candidates for State Treasurer or Attorney General. The former seems to be attracting more interest among Republicans, which means there might be more behind-the-scenes maneuvering that needs to take place before any official announcement.

New Poll: Colorado Dems In Great Shape, Polis Beats Ganahl By 20

Jesse Paul at the Colorado Sun reports on new polling by Global Strategy Group for our friends at ProgressNow Colorado that invalidates more or less every Republican talking point coming out of the 2021 session of the state legislature:

Democratic Gov. Jared Polis and U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet lead a generic Republican candidate, the survey shows, and generic Democratic statehouse candidates would beat their GOP counterparts. No big-name Republicans have announced a bid to unseat either Polis or Bennet, which is why the poll tested how they would fare against a generic — or, in other words, any — GOP candidate.

“This electorate has been pretty consistent over the past few years with Democrats having an advantage of somewhere between 8 and 11 points,” said Andrew Baumann of the Democratic firm Global Strategy Group, which conducted the quarterly Rocky Mountaineer poll with the liberal political advocacy group ProgressNow Colorado. “And that’s where things remain.”

Global Strategy Group polled 800 registered voters between June 17 and 23, weighting the survey to reflect Colorado’s mix of registered voters. The poll, which was conducted through a mix of phone calls and the internet, had a confidence interval of 95%.

Here’s the full memo and toplines for the poll. Notable findings include enduring strong approval of Gov. Jared Polis’ job performance (+22%) and high approval of Polis’ handling of the COVID-19 pandemic in particular (+35%)–as well as high marks for legislative Democrats after passing the most ambitious agenda in nearly a decade. From the memo:

Democrats are more trusted than Republicans on nearly every issue tested, with their largest margins on climate issues, improving wages, and education. Republicans only earn near-draws on certain economic issues. The Democratic margin has expanded significantly since last year on responding to the pandemic (+22 now, up from +11 in September and +14 last May) and on improving the state’s transportation infrastructure (+16 now, up from +6 last May).

Although this poll led with a measure of Democratic strength against a “generic” candidate, the poll includes a few head-to-head matchups to set the tone. Gov. Polis beats possible Republican opponent CU Regent Heidi Ganahl by a humiliating 54-34%, while Sen. Michael Bennet would hold off Rep. Lauren “Q*Bert” Boebert 51-38% in an unlikely face-off between the two. In Ganahl’s case, it’s evident that voters in large part simply don’t know who she is, and those who do have in many cases already heard something negative.

All told, the results of this poll indicate that three years of intense Republican opposition to Gov. Polis and the historic Democratic majority in the Colorado General Assembly have failed to meaningfully reduce voter support for Colorado Democrats and the agenda they were elected to carry out. After Democrats reduced Republican political power in Colorado to its weakest point since FDR in 2018, Colorado Republicans responded furiously but ineffectually with failed recalls, failed obstruction tactics in the legislature, and ultimately failure at the polls in 2020 to roll back 2018’s Democratic victories.

If there’s a reason 2022 will be different, we have yet to see it.

Weak, Uncertain Heidi Ganahl Running Out Of Time

Republican candidate for something Heidi Ganahl wants to have a totally spontaneous not staged at all conversation with you.

For the past couple of months now, as our readers know and is slowly making its way into political news coverage, Republican CU Regent Heidi Ganahl has been waging a low-intensity public relations campaign centered around a “traveling podcast” to raise her name ID ahead of a run for higher statewide office in 2022. Ganahl, the only remaining Republican holding even a minor statewide elected office in Colorado after Cory Gardner’s ouster last November, is not so much what you’d call a “rising star” as the GOP’s last potential hope for a turnaround after years of defeat.

Unfortunately for Regent Ganahl and beleaguered Republicans hoping she could be their ticket out of the electoral abyss, the recent political tumult at CU–over the conservative Benson Center and professor John Eastman’s role in the January 6th insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, and more recently the departure of divisive CU President Mark Kennedy who Ganahl helped install just two years ago–has created serious obstacles to running on her record there.

Nonetheless, over the past few month it’s become very clear that Ganahl intends to run for something, especially since her statewide at-large seat on the CU Board of Regents may not even exist in 2022. The most common assumption is that she wants to run against Gov. Jared Polis, but as we noted earlier this week in our Big Line 2022 update, Ganahl may be considering a run for Treasurer instead in consideration of Gov. Polis high approval ratings.

And that’s where Ernest Luning of the Colorado Springs Gazette’s political blog picks up the story:

Until recently, pretty much every Republican operative and insider in the state has been describing Ganahl as the candidate most likely to challenge Democratic Gov. Jared Polis, the wealthy tech entrepreneur who served five terms in Congress before being elected governor in 2018 by 10 points.

After a brief scare last year when, as she put it in a recent speech, Ganahl “had to fight through a brain tumor”— which wasn’t cancerous but required surgery — she’s sounding again like she has her eye on higher office, though Republican sources say she’s told them in the last month that she’s considering a run for state treasurer or U.S. Senate instead of governor.

Ganahl wouldn’t be the first Republican to walk and talk like a candidate for office without actually filing to run for office, which obliges the candidate to then comply with campaign finance and reporting laws. In 2017, soon-to-be gubernatorial candidate Walker Stapleton was criticized for hosting fundraisers for the Colorado GOP’s independent expenditure committee and a SuperPAC to support Stapleton’s campaign as a candidate in all but formality. In Ganahl’s case, however, there appears to be a more basic problem: Heidi Ganahl doesn’t know if she can beat Jared Polis.

There’s little question, as Luning’s story continues, that at least up until recently Ganahl has been fully focused on running for governor:

[D]elivering the keynote at a recent meeting of Jefferson County’s Foothills Republicans in a talk titled “What’s the future for the Republican Party and Colorado?” she took aim at Polis throughout, not even mentioning any other state politicians…

After ticking off some of the restrictions imposed by Polis and local officials during the pandemic, Ganahl unveiled a rhetorical device meant to puncture Polis’ generally high approval ratings.

“Was he paranoid? No, it was worse than that. Paranoid people only limit themselves, but Polis limited all of us. That’s not paranoid, that’s Karen-oid,” she said. “Polis is the king of Karens.” [Pols emphasis]

So first of all, if Ganahl thinks anybody is going to miss her loudly blowing a homophobic dog whistle by emasculating Gov. Polis as “king of the Karens,” she’s mistaken. It’s completely contrary to the tolerant image Ganahl wants to project to swingable voters repelled by Republican culture war red meat. And with the public still solidly in support of Gov. Polis’ handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, this is just not a message that helps Ganahl outside the “deplorable” Republican base. There’s a lot more we could say about Ganahl’s “Karen” slur against Gov. Polis if we weren’t taking the high road, but we are.

What we will say is this: letting speculation grow about stepping down to a lesser race, as George Brauchler can tell you, is a terrible way to kick off a campaign. If Ganahl can’t beat Polis, she can’t beat Michael Bennet either–and choosing instead to run for a lesser office throws Ganahl’s motivations for that job into question.

What office you want to run for (and why) is definitely something you’re supposed to figure out before you launch your campaign, but for all the aforementioned reasons Ganahl doesn’t appear to have that luxury and the clock is ticking.

So like the gender reveal party you hope doesn’t start a wildfire, we’ll all find out together.

Updating “The Big Line: 2022” and Statewide Colorado Races

The Republican bench in Colorado can fit inside a phone booth, which is a big reason why 2022 has been such a difficult election cycle to predict for the GOP. That doesn’t mean we won’t give it a try.

Last week, Ernest Luning of the publication formerly known as the Colorado Statesman updated the rumor mill on potential statewide Republican candidates in 2022. That gives us as good of a news peg as any to update “The Big Line: 2022.” Here’s how things look for the five statewide races that will be on the ballot in Colorado…

 

U.S. SENATE

Sen. Michael Bennet

Incumbent Democrat Michael Bennet is the first U.S. Senator from Colorado to even seek a third term in office since Gordon Allott in 1966 (remember to credit Colorado Pols when you get this question right while playing “Obscure Colorado Trivia Pursuit”). Bennet dispatched then-District Attorney Ken Buck in 2010 before lucking out with Darryl Glenn as his Republican opponent in 2016, and the trend toward terrible GOP opponents seems likely to continue. 

A few Republicans have officially filed paperwork to run in 2022, including people named Juli Henry, Peter Yu, and Erik Aadland. Since Donald Trump will be “re-appointed” as President before any of these names are likely to end up in the U.S. Senate, let’s just move along…

Former El Paso County GOP Chairman Eli Bremer indicated his interest in a Senate run back in February (as first reported by Luning); that trial balloon was met with a collective shrug from Republicans, but Bremer hasn’t given up on this dream just yet. Aside from Bremer, two names seem to be popping up more than others for Republicans: Clarice Navarro and Dan Caplis (no, seriously). 

Navarro is a former State Representative from Pueblo who resigned her seat in 2017 to take a job in the Trump administration as the Colorado Farm Service Agency’s state executive director. Navarro currently works as Rep. Lauren “Q*Bert” Boebert’s District Director, which appears to be a fairly irrelevant position. Boebert political advisers like Laura Carno are advising Navarro on making a bid for Senate, and Navarro is taking a close look at running from what we hear.

Caplis is a silly right-wing radio host and ambulance-chasing defense lawyer who has been threatening to run for one office or another for more than a decade. Last fall, Caplis was talking about challenging Gov. Jared Polis in 2022, but he seems to have since changed his focus to the U.S. Senate. Normally we’d just ignore Caplis, but from what we hear, he is actively trying to put together a staff and is willing to front the money for salaries, which is more than can be said for any other potential Republican candidate at this point.

Bottom Line: After Democrat John Hickenlooper’s convincing 2020 Senate win, national Republicans aren’t going to target Bennet in 2022. Whoever emerges as the Republican nominee will have to do most of the work themselves. Bennet is safe here.

 

 

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This Guy for U.S. Senate in 2022

We did not Photoshop this image. This is really what it says on his website.

As Ernest Luning reports for the publication formerly known as the Colorado Statesman, Republicans at last have a candidate for U.S. Senate to challenge incumbent Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Denver) in 2022.

Although (or should we say, Aaaand…) they might want to keep looking for other options.

As Luning explains, some dude named Erik Aadland, who literally just became a registered Republican voter in Colorado a few weeks ago (March 1, 2021, to be exact), is ready to take on Bennet after being trained in the ways of politics by — wait for it — Casper Stockham:

Aadland said he decided to launch a campaign after going through candidate training with America First Republicans, a nonprofit started late last year by perennial GOP congressional nominee Casper Stockham.

“I found America First because I was following Casper on Twitter leading up the 2020 elections and then was somewhat devastated by what transpired in the elections,” Aadland said Monday in an appearance with Stockham on the conservative PJNET Live video podcast.

“I just felt divinely inspired to show up there. Very quickly, he planted a seed that I should run for office,” Aadland said, referring to Stockham, who ran unsuccessfully against U.S. Rep. Ed Perlmutter last year and lost a bid for state Republican Party chairman in April…

…”I think I’m called by God and it’s been a series of synchronicities and meeting the right people and not making this decision on my own,” he said. [Pols emphasis]

Righto!

[Side Note: Stockham also tried unsuccessfully to run for Congress in CO-01 and CO-06 in recent years, so maybe he’s not the best political mentor.]

Aadland is a West Point graduate who served combat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan and currently lives in Pine, Colorado. According to a bio on his website, Aadland worked in the oil and gas industry until recently. In 2020, he apparently earned a Master’s degree from Pacifica Graduate Institute in Depth Psychology…whatever that means.

And why, you may ask, does Aadland want to run for U.S. Senate? (aside from the fact that there might not be a robust job market in the field of “Depth Psychology”) As Luning reports, Aadland had this to say to the Jefferson County Republican Men’s Club in Wheat Ridge:

“This country is on the brink of being taken over by a communist government and perpetuating their communist agenda. We need to open up our eyes and be very aware of that. That’s what’s happening,” he said.

“The 2020 election, it was rigged. Absolutely rigged.”

Um…alright.

In a normal timeline, this might be disqualifying. But as we wrote earlier this week, Republican candidates for federal office — across the country — believe that speaking up about “The Big Lie” is essentially a requirement if you want to win a Republican Primary in 2022. Heck, 3 in 10 Republicans still believe that Donald Trump is going to magically be reinstated as President in a couple of months.

It’s still hard to imagine that this guy could actually win the Republican Senate nomination in 2022, but stranger things have happened to Sen. Bennet. Like Darryl Glenn, for example.

Time To Admit Moving BLM To Grand Junction Was Wrong?

Ex-Sen. Cory Gardner passionately arguing for the relocation of BLM HQ to Grand Junction in 2019.

Colorado Newsline’s Chase Woodruff follows up on a messy story we’ve been watching in the aftermath of the Trump administration’s four years of plundering management of the federal government–the controversial relocation of the Bureau of Land Management headquarters from Washington, D.C. to Grand Junction, Colorado, sharing an office building with Chevron and other fossil fuel businesses.

That is to say the BLM would be sharing office space with Chevron, if the relocation to Grand Junction had actually happened. After all these years and consternation, the professionals who make up the Bureau have voted resoundingly with their feet:

Ex-BLM employees and public-lands advocates paint a dire picture of what happened to the agency following the relocation, which was announced by Gardner and Interior Secretary David Bernhardt, a Colorado native and longtime oil lobbyist, in July 2019. It’s a picture that was backed up by figures released by the Interior Department following President Joe Biden’s inauguration in January; out of hundreds of positions affected by the move, Interior officials said, 287 employees chose to resign or retire from the agency, while 41 accepted relocation. The latter number, however, includes employees who relocated to BLM field offices scattered throughout the West as part of a broader reorganization.

The number of employees who relocated to Grand Junction, BLM officials confirmed this week, is three…

“It is a joke,” [former BLM director Bob] Abbey said. “It would be humorous if there weren’t a lot of people whose livelihoods are dependent upon the Bureau of Land Management doing their job. And when that job’s not being performed, at any level of the organization, then it’s a disservice to the public that BLM employees are supposed to be serving.”

Today, the nominee to serve as the first permanent head of the BLM in over four years, Tracy Stone-Manning, is getting her first confirmation hearing in the U.S. Senate. Stone-Manning, like her boss Interior Secretary Deb Haaland, have both criticized the relocation of BLM headquarters to Grand Junction. And as Woodruff reports, the results of the move speak for themselves. Rather than “moving the agency closer to communities they serve,” forcing this unwanted relocation on the Bureau has resulted in the experts being effectively disconnected from political decision making in Washington–which was perfect for the destructive purposes of the Trump administration, but a disaster for the Bureau’s mission to protect public lands.

Up against this emerging consensus, we have local Democrats who are still pushing for the BLM to come to Grand Junction while acknowledging, as Gov. Jared Polis does, that the Trump administration’s policies affecting public lands were “misguided.”

“While the Trump administration’s lack of knowledge of the West framed this initiative for him as one of energy dominance, the opportunity for [President Biden] is to see this initiative as an opportunity for locally driven conservation,” Polis wrote. “Where he seemed to think it would favor extractive industries, I know that Coloradans across our state realize the need to conserve the places we love.”

It’s important to note that the push to relocate the BLM’s headquarters to the West generally and Colorado in particular predated the Trump administration, and that’s where the support for the move among Colorado Democrats originated. Ex-Sen. Cory Gardner’s interest in moving the BLM was much more straightforwardly in line with the Trump administration’s desire to expand fossil fuel production. And at this point, it may be impossible to separate moving the BLM to Grand Junction from the Trump administration’s destructive motives for doing so.

Which means our local boosters might lose this one. In the larger scheme of things, they might need to.

We’ll just say Mt. Garfield isn’t a hill worth dying on.

Joe Manchin Torpedoes For The People Act, Filibuster Reform

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-ish).

CNN reports, and if there’s anything anybody can legally do about it, now’s the time to show us your plan:

Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin on Sunday defended his decision to vote against a sweeping voting rights bill and reiterated his opposition to gutting the filibuster, declaring in the strongest terms yet that he is not willing to change Senate rules to help his party push through much of President Joe Biden’s agenda.

“I believe that partisan voting legislation will destroy the already weakening binds of our democracy, and for that reason, I will vote against the For the People Act. Furthermore, I will not vote to weaken or eliminate the filibuster,” Manchin, a moderate Democrat from West Virginia, wrote in an op-ed published in the Charleston Gazette.

Manchin’s opposition to changing filibuster rules stands as a major roadblock to Biden’s legislative priorities, as current rules allow Republicans to hold up many of the progressive bills the administration supports, including infrastructure spending, federal voting legislation and climate change legislation.

Sen. John Hickenlooper plays the banjo in support of the For The People Act.

From Sen. Joe Manchin’s column in the Charleston Gazette, which Democrats coast to coast are either seething over or in denial of this Sunday morning:

Democrats in Congress have proposed a sweeping election reform bill called the For the People Act. This more than 800-page bill has garnered zero Republican support. Why? Are the very Republican senators who voted to impeach Trump because of actions that led to an attack on our democracy unwilling to support actions to strengthen our democracy? Are these same senators, whom many in my party applauded for their courage, now threats to the very democracy we seek to protect?

The truth, I would argue, is that voting and election reform that is done in a partisan manner will all but ensure partisan divisions continue to deepen.

With that in mind, some Democrats have again proposed eliminating the Senate filibuster rule in order to pass the For the People Act with only Democratic support. They’ve attempted to demonize the filibuster and conveniently ignore how it has been critical to protecting the rights of Democrats in the past.

With no margin to overcome Sen. Manchin’s dissent, the Democratic agenda in the U.S. Senate could now be effectively stalled. Manchin says the alternative to doing away with the filibuster will be “frustrating and slow,” and “will force compromises that are not always ideal.” The problem here is that Manchin assumes there will be any compromise from Republicans who now thanks to Joe Manchin have no incentive to do so. Their obstruction of Biden’s agenda, which is the sole political objective of Republicans between now and the 2022 midterms, has just been fully enabled.

As for coming out against the For The People Act beyond merely opposing ending the filibuster in order to pass it, Manchin says “voting and election reform that is done in a partisan manner will all but ensure partisan divisions continue to deepen.” But that’s exactly what Republicans are doing with their wave of vote suppression legislation being run by Republicans in state houses across the country. The For The People Act would put a stop to vote suppression in the name of Donald Trump’s “Big Lie,” which is the far greater offense than anything in the For The People Act to protect voting rights. Manchin is not just wrong, he’s wrong at the worst possible moment for American democracy.

In the meantime, the one thing we don’t want to see is misguided attacks on Colorado’s Democratic U.S. Senators over Joe Manchin’s intransigence. Sen. Michael Bennet has been very strong in 2021 about not letting the arcane rules of the U.S. Senate forestall necessary legislation. Sen. John Hickenlooper is a major, if not perfect-pitched proponent of the For The People Act. There’s always a temptation to rage indiscriminately at our own when frustrating political news hits, but there’s just nothing to indicate today that either of Colorado’s Senators are part of the problem.

The best hope now is that when that fabled Republican “compromise” fails to manifest, perhaps Manchin will see reason. If Democrats want to achieve anything beyond throwing money at problems via the budget reconciliation process before the midterms, he’ll need to.

Republican Claims of Gerrymandering Ring Hollow in Colorado

If you can’t beat ‘em, cheat ‘em! This is the Republican motto for the 2022 election, born out of “The Big Lie” that all good little Republican boys and girls are expected to endorse in order to avoid the wrath of Donald Trump and get around having to admit that the GOP lost both the White House and the U.S. Senate in 2020. 

Confronting your failures and assessing your shortcomings is an uncomfortable undertaking. Expanding your outreach to appeal to a broader swath of voters is difficult work. Adjusting policy positions to appeal to said voters requires engaging in arduous conversations. Preventing far-right candidates from winning Republican Primary Elections, and becoming liabilities in a General Election, demands a lot of organizing and planning. 

Republicans could reject Trumpism and try to understand what Americans actually want, but they seem to have come to the conclusion that it is easier and more comfortable to change the rules than to alter the way they play the game. 

“There is a very real probability that 2018 will be known as the election when it became apparent that the Republican Party no longer has the voter registration numbers to be competitive in Colorado.”

 — Post-2018 election memo from Republican polling firm Magellan Strategies

This is why Republicans are instead focused on trying to make it harder for people to vote in 2022. It’s working in states like Georgia and Texas, but not in Colorado. So the next step in our state is for the GOP to construct a different boogeyman: Gerrymandering.

Gerrymandering is a very real and very legitimate issue in American politics. As The New York Times examined in 2019, gerrymandering is particularly egregious in some pockets of the United States:

Currently, rigged maps tend to be most prevalent, and most tilted, in states under Republican control. That is in part because Republicans did exceptionally well in the 2010 elections, giving the party far wider control of state legislatures, which oversaw redistricting after the 2010 census. The national Republican Party had poured money and expertise into state legislative races with the specific aim of gaining control over redistricting; the Democratic Party had not.

Many political scientists consider the House maps in Republican-controlled states like North Carolina, Michigan, Ohio and Texas to have the most pronounced partisan slants. (Pennsylvania was also on the list until its map was redrawn last year.) Among Democratic-held states, Maryland, Illinois and — to some observers — California are regarded as the most tilted. Illinois is especially notable for its “pizza slice” division of metropolitan Chicago, using generous helpings of urban Democrats to offset the heavily Republican suburbs in district after district.

In Colorado, gerrymandering has not been nearly as big of a problem…unless you listen to a small but loud cadre of Republicans who are desperately trying to build a false narrative to convince members of Colorado’s Independent Redistricting Commissions that new district lines must be particularly helpful for the GOP in order to make up for the fact that they can no longer figure out how to win elections.

 

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Get More Smarter on Not Tax Day (April 15)

For most people, tax day this year is on May 17th. Let’s Get More Smarter; if you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of an audio learner, check out The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter.

 

CORONAVIRUS INFO…

*Colorado Coronavirus info:
CDPHE Coronavirus website 

*Daily Coronavirus numbers in Colorado:
http://covid19.colorado.gov

*How you can help in Colorado:
COVRN.com

*Locate a COVID-19 testing site in Colorado:
Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment 

 

The defense rested its case in the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, who is accused of murder in the May 2020 killing of George Floyd. As The Minneapolis Star Tribune reports:

Derek Chauvin said in court Thursday that he will not testify in his murder trial shortly before the defense said it has completed its case.

“I will invoke my Fifth Amendment privilege” to not risk making any self-incriminating statements in Hennepin County District Court, where the fired Minneapolis police officer is charged with killing George Floyd late last spring in Minneapolis…

…Chauvin’s declaration came during a series of questions from his attorney, Eric Nelson, and outside the presence of the jury.

Nelson and Chauvin were seated at the defense table as the defendant held a cordless microphone and had his voice heard for the first time on the record during the trial.

Closing arguments in the Chauvin trial could begin as soon as Monday.

 

► You don’t need us to tell you that red states and blue states are very different. But as The Associated Press reports, one significant difference is bad for your health:

With coronavirus shots now in the arms of nearly half of American adults, the parts of the U.S. that are excelling and those that are struggling with vaccinations are starting to look like the nation’s political map: deeply divided between red and blue states.

Out in front is New Hampshire, where 65% of the population age 18 and older has received at least one dose of the vaccine, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Following close behind are New Mexico, Connecticut, Maine and Massachusetts at 55% or greater. All have a history of voting Democratic and supported President Joe Biden in the 2020 election.

Meanwhile, at the bottom are five states where fewer than 40% have rolled up their sleeves for a shot. Four of them — Mississippi, Alabama, Louisiana and Tennessee — lean Republican and voted for Donald Trump last fall. The fifth is Georgia, which has a Republican governor and supported GOP presidential candidates for nearly three decades before narrowly backing Biden.

 

The Douglas County Board of Commissioners are not doctors, but they are pretending to know more about the COVID-19 pandemic than the so-called “experts.” That’s not good news for the rest of us, which is why others are speaking out.

 

Let’s check in on state legislative news:

The State House of Representatives gave preliminary approval to the new state budget proposal.

Fox 31 News reports on opposition to proposed legislation seeking to reduce Colorado’s jail population.

Colorado lawmakers are freezing tuition rates at community colleges.

The Associated Press reports on legislative efforts to improve maternal care for minority women.

Lawmakers are considering legislation to improve health benefits for legislative aides.

The State Senate approved legislation that would allow undocumented immigrants to receive professional licenses in Colorado.

 

More political (and coronavirus) news is available right after the jump…

 

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Get More Smarter on Wednesday (March 24)

With any luck, you will not be traded to Cleveland today. Let’s Get More Smarter; if you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of an audio learner, check out The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter.

 

CORONAVIRUS INFO…

*Colorado Coronavirus info:
CDPHE Coronavirus website 

*Daily Coronavirus numbers in Colorado:
http://covid19.colorado.gov

*How you can help in Colorado:
COVRN.com

*Locate a COVID-19 testing site in Colorado:
Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment 

 

► President Biden called on Congress to re-enact an Assault Weapons Ban after mass shootings in Georgia and Boulder, Colorado. But as The Associated Press reports, Republicans are already digging in:

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer vowed Tuesday morning to bring to the Senate floor legislation passed by the House that would require background checks for most gun sales and transfers. He said the Senate “must confront a devastating truth” after a lack of congressional action on the issue for almost three decades.

“This Senate will be different,” said Schumer, D-N.Y., a day after a shooting at a crowded Boulder, Colorado, supermarket, killed 10 people, including a police officer. “The Senate is going to debate and address the epidemic of gun violence in this country.”…

…Many in the GOP base are still strongly opposed to gun control of any kind. In Tuesday’s hearing, which was scheduled before the Colorado shooting, Republicans showed no signs of wavering. Texas Sen. Ted Cruz said that every time there is a shooting, the Senate engages in “ridiculous theater,” with Democrats proposing laws that he said could take guns away from law-abiding citizens. Republicans have argued that background checks would not stop most mass shootings and would prevent some lawful gun owners from purchasing firearms.

“We already know this pattern is predictable, over and over and over again,” Cruz said.

That might not be the argument you think it is, Sen. Cruz. It’s also worth noting that some right-wing media outlets are voicing agreement on banning “weapons of war.”

Elsewhere, Rep. Joe Neguse (D-Boulder) has been making appearances on a lot of national television shows, including CBS This Morning. “It does not have to be this way,” said Neguse.

Governor Jared Polis has ordered flags in Colorado to be flown at half-staff for 10 days to honor the victims of the Boulder shooting.

 

► While it may seem that 2020 had fewer gun deaths owing to the COVID-19 pandemic, as The Washington Post reports, 2020 was actually a record year for gun violence. Westword looks at how the National Rifle Association (NRA) helped pave the way for mass shootings.

 

► State lawmakers are discussing potential gun safety measures in response to Monday’s shooting in Boulder. As Alex Burness reports for The Denver Post:

The state senator who represents the district where the tragedy occurred said he’s drafting a bill to restore cities’ ability to enact gun restrictions above and beyond the state’s laws.

The shooting came just days after a district court judge in Boulder ruled that the city does not have the legal authority to enforce its 2018 citywide ban on assault-style weapons and magazines with a capacity to accept 10 or more rounds. The judge cited a 2003 state law that preempts local gun restrictions.

Senate Majority Leader Steve Fenberg, of Boulder, said that lawmakers in the Democrat-controlled Statehouse had lightly discussed repealing that 2003 law over the past week, but the talks accelerated among legislative leaders “only in the last 18 hours.”

Colorado Public Radio has more on the push from legislators to move quickly on gun safety discussions.

 

► Let’s catch up on more news from the Colorado legislature:

Lawmakers are trying to figure out if they can legally do more to increase property tax revenues for public education.

Governor Jared Polis and state lawmakers will soon embark on a “Build Back Stronger” tour.

The House Judiciary Committee advanced legislation that seeks to give victims of sexual abuse more time to consider legal action against perpetrators.

Senate President Leroy Garcia’s bill to create a veteran suicide prevention pilot program made it through a committee hearing.

 

► Don’t miss this bonus episode of The Get More Smarter Podcast, featuring an interview with Senator John Hickenlooper (D-Denver) in which he refers to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell as a “schlub”:

 

 

More political (and coronavirus) news is available right after the jump…

 

(more…)

Get More Smarter on Monday (March 22)

RIP to your March Madness bracket. Let’s Get More Smarter; if you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of an audio learner, check out The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter.

 

CORONAVIRUS INFO…

*Colorado Coronavirus info:
CDPHE Coronavirus website 

*Daily Coronavirus numbers in Colorado:
http://covid19.colorado.gov

*How you can help in Colorado:
COVRN.com

*Locate a COVID-19 testing site in Colorado:
Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment 

 

Senator Michael Bennet (D-Denver) takes center stage in a Washington Post story detailing a significant anti-child poverty program included in the American Rescue Plan:

Sen. Michael F. Bennet (D-Colo.) tapped out the longest text messages he’d ever written one night in January, urging Susan Rice, a top Biden aide and a friend, to include a full-scale anti-child poverty measure in the coronavirus rescue plan to be unveiled within days…

…An unlikely coalition of Democrats across the ideological spectrum mounted an 11th-hour push in the final weekend before the American Rescue Plan for President Biden to go big on tackling child poverty. They prevailed over what one person involved in the process called the “cost police” in Biden’s inner circle, those anxiously warning about the ballooning cost of the stimulus package.

This under-the-radar success created what could be the most consequential piece of the $1.9 trillion package — one that, if made permanent, could approach the impact of the programs established under President Lyndon B. Johnson’s War on Poverty…

…The program’s impact probably will be profound. It expands the federal child-rearing subsidy by 50 percent — and parents of toddlers will get even more. A family with two young children and no income will now get $600 a month. The parents of 90 percent of the country’s children will benefit, and 27 million children will be lifted from poverty, according to analysts.

 

► Governor Jared Polis plans to lift the statewide mask mandate on April 4. From The Denver Post:

Colorado will further relax the COVID-19 restrictions managed through the state’s color-coded dial next week, with plans to ease the statewide mask order in two weeks, then turn over control of most public health orders to local governments in mid-April.

The proposed changes to the dial include reopening bars in most parts of the state for the first time since last summer and lifting all statewide limits on the size of personal gatherings.

While this is all good news regarding the COVID-19 pandemic, as The Washington Post reports, COVID-19 infections are trending in the wrong direction nationally:

New coronavirus infections are rising in several U.S. states, despite record vaccinations — an increase experts attribute to the growing reach of new variants and widespread pandemic fatigue after a year of public health restrictions. The seven-day average of newly reported cases climbed 2.6 percent on Sunday, even as overall hospitalizations and deaths remain down.

In Florida, a state where coronavirus measures are lax, authorities in Miami Beach declared a state of emergency and imposed a nighttime curfew this weekend as large crowds of rowdy spring break revelers turned violent and disruptive.

 

► Now, let’s catch up on more news from the Colorado legislature:

Alex Burness of The Denver Post reports on what lawmakers are considering for new law enforcement reforms. The legislature is also looking at changing sentencing guidelines in Colorado so that people who did not commit murder can’t end up serving life in prison for something they didn’t do.

Denver7 breaks down the proposals laid out for efforts to fix Colorado’s crumbling transportation infrastructure.

Colorado Newsline reports on an affordable housing measure that has been years in the making.

Colorado Public Radio elaborates on how and why Colorado’s budget looks better than expected.

Governor Jared Polis signed a bill into law that directs more resources toward state parks and wildlife preservation efforts. Polis also approved legislation directing $30 million in grants to help improve “main streets” in Colorado.

The Associated Press considers whether Colorado may be able to do more on waiting periods for gun purchases. Westword has more on the good and bad news about ongoing efforts to promote gun safety.

Marshall Zelinger of 9News looks at the behind-the-scenes work done at the State Capitol in a story that includes the lede of the week: “Conjunction junction is their function.”

 

John Aguilar of The Denver Post looks at how local governments plan on using their share of billions of stimulus dollars on the way as a result of the American Rescue Plan:

Lakewood Mayor Adam Paul said the city will likely put the $22.6 million allocated to Lakewood toward a budget that lost $18 million last year.

“This is triage,” Paul said. “There is no pork in this for us. I see it as backfill to what we lost.”

Since the city eliminated the sales tax on groceries more than a decade ago, Paul said Lakewood didn’t have the revenue cushion others had when people flooded grocery stores to stock pantries. He said 70 positions remain vacant on Lakewood’s payroll, a result of pandemic-pinched spending by the city.

“We have to use (the Rescue Act money) for the right here, right now,” Paul said.

The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel considers a similar story from a Western slope perspective.

 

More political (and coronavirus) news is available right after the jump…

 

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Sen. Bennet Sounds Ready To Ditch The Filibuster

Sen. Michael Bennet (D).

CBS News reports today on building urgency in the narrowly Democratic United States Senate to do something to break the logjam of 60 votes required to push through crucial Democratic agenda items before the 2022 midterm elections:

“It will be Armageddon,” Democratic Senator Jeff Merkley told CBS News when asked whether Democrats will suffer in the midterms if they don’t enact filibuster reforms. “Our base will be so dispirited, so angry, so disaffected. They will stay home. And I understand why they will stay home if we failed them.”

Merkley has long been pushing for filibuster changes, and introduced the “talking filibuster” which would require senators to actually hold the floor to hold up legislation rather than the current practice of phoning it in. In an interview with ABC News, Mr. Biden said he supported that kind of reform, which reminded him of how the upper chamber operated in his early days as a senator. Now, he said, “It’s getting to the point where, you know, democracy is having a hard time functioning.”

…[A]dvocates note that Republicans haven’t yet filibustered legislation, such as the COVID relief bill, which was passed on party lines through a reconciliation process that only requires majority support. Once the opposition begins in earnest to agenda items like voting rights, climate, immigration and other Democratic priorities, the calls from the base of the party to change the upper chamber’s rules will only grow louder.

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-ish).

As CNN reports and everyone following this developing situation knows, “Pretendocrat” Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia holds all the cards as the deciding vote on any changes to the filibuster, and is as of now drawing a hard line against the most ambitious reforms in the spirit of his predecessor Sen. Robert Byrd:

Manchin says he’s protecting the rights of the minority, something he says Democrats will need whenever Republicans regain control of the chamber.

Manchin is open to some changes — such as requiring senators to stand on the floor and actually argue, a position Biden just adopted. Such a change to require a “talking filibuster” would amount to a departure from the silent filibuster permitted under current rules, which allow a simple threat to force the Senate into time-consuming procedural steps and a 60-vote threshold they must clear to advance bills.

But Manchin again made clear he is drawing a firm line: The 60-vote threshold will stay, and no exceptions will be allowed.

It remains to be seen whether this will remain a tenable position for Manchin and others considered reluctant to embrace the full “nuclear option” of eliminating the legislative filibuster as pressure to pass legislation send over from the U.S. House builds–an as-yet untested coalition that includes other moderates like Sens. Krysten Sinema of Arizona, Jon Tester of Montana, and (yes) Sen. John Hickenlooper of Colorado. But in today’s Unaffiliated newsletter from the Colorado Sun, Colorado’s senior Sen. Michael Bennet is signaling a willingness to do what it takes:

“I hope we get to a place where at a minimum we can figure out how to bring back the talking filibuster,” said Bennet, referencing a proposal rule to make senators speak on the chamber floor while they are trying to block a bill.

But if Republicans dig in their heels? “We may end up with obstruction that is too intense. We may end up having to reform it in some other way,” said Bennet, who spoke at a Colorado Sun event on Thursday. [Pols emphasis]

What happens next in part depends on how Senate Republicans choose to deal with the increasing backlog of important legislation coming over from the House. The more Mitch McConnell accedes to the majority’s will voluntarily, the less likely it becomes that the “nuclear option” will be necessary. At the same time, Democrats are rightly wary of false concessions from Republicans that weaken their legislative agenda and may not result in GOP support even if adopted (see: Affordable Care Act, American Rescue Plan).

What we can say, and it’s a good thing for those of you who want real progress made in these two vanishing years of full Democratic control in Washington, is that Michael Bennet is tired of playing by rules that only benefit one side–like he was in 2013, when he voted to end the filibuster of most presidential nominees to forestall obstruction of Barack Obama’s second term. And as the pressure builds to get the legislation passed by the House to Joe Biden’s desk, Bennet is today where the base will expect all Democrats to be soon.

Get More Smarter on Thursday (March 18)

Happy Oil Expropriation Day! Please celebrate responsibly. Let’s Get More Smarter; if you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of an audio learner, check out The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter.

 

CORONAVIRUS INFO…

*Colorado Coronavirus info:
CDPHE Coronavirus website 

*Daily Coronavirus numbers in Colorado:
http://covid19.colorado.gov

*How you can help in Colorado:
COVRN.com

*Locate a COVID-19 testing site in Colorado:
Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment 

 

As CNN reports, the United States could be facing a new surge of COVID-19 infections:

Health officials have repeatedly warned about a potential fourth surge as state leaders eased restrictions and several lifted mask mandates. The first warning sign came when case numbers, after weeks of steep declines, appeared to level off — with the country still averaging tens of thousands of new cases daily. That kind of plateau previously predicted surges, some experts have said.

Cases of the worrying variants — notably the highly contagious B.1.1.7 variant — have also climbed and are set to become the dominant strain by the end of March or early April…

…Now, as the country inches closer to 30 million reported infections, cases are rising by more than 10% in 14 states this week compared to last week, according to Johns Hopkins University data — with half of those states seeing a rise of more than 20%.

Wear your masks and get your shots, people!

 

► All three Republican members of Colorado’s Congressional delegation — Reps. Lauren Boebert, Ken Buck, and Doug Lambornvoted AGAINST reauthorization of the “Violence Against Women Act.” Arizona Republican Rep. Andy Biggs has some nutty thoughts on his opposition to the bill.

 

POLITICO magazine tackles a question that we have been openly pondering in this space for weeks:

Via POLITICO magazine (3/18/21)

 

Democrats are relentlessly hyping President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief bill, while Republicans are trying to change the subject to Dr. Seuss, Mr. Potato Head and the Mexican border. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, arguably the shrewdest Republican strategist in Washington, has started floating a half-hearted anti-stimulus message that the coming recovery would have happened anyway…

…It may be an overstated political cliché that if you’re explaining, you’re losing. But you’re almost certainly losing if you’re explaining, ahead of time, why the economic boom you’re expecting on your opponent’s watch shouldn’t be attributed to your opponent. One lesson of the volatility of the past dozen years is that fairly or not, the president’s party tends to get the credit or blame for the economy—or at least for the way people perceive the economy. Biden is visiting swing states this week to sell American Rescue Plan’s focus on giving Americans vaccines and money, but with economists across the ideological spectrum forecasting explosive growth, many veterans of the 2009 stimulus wars believe the economy will be all the sales pitch the bill needs.

Elsewhere, Vox.com examines efforts by Republican Attorneys General to sue the federal government for giving money to local and state governments.

 

► Let’s get you caught up on the Colorado legislature…

Lawmakers are working on a couple of bills intended to help protect immigrants from being arrested over civil immigration violations.

The Associated Press reports on the status of legislation that would grant a minimum wage and overtime rights to thousands of farm workers in Colorado. 9News also reports on Senate Bill 87.

As the Fort Collins Coloradoan reports, it is now up to the U.S. Department of Education to determine how many restrictions can be granted this year on standardized tests in Colorado.

CBS4 Denver reports on efforts to reduce the cost of prescription drugs in Colorado.

Colorado Newsline reports on legislative efforts to balance the scales between landlords and tenants. The Colorado Sun has more on a proposal to make it easier for municipalities to require the construction of more affordable housing.

9News reports on an idiotic piece of legislation sponsored by House Minority Leader Hugh McKean that carried a $2.7 BILLION price tag.

Efforts to build a fence around parts of the State Capitol have not been well-received.

 

More political (and coronavirus) news is available right after the jump…

 

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Bennet, Hickenlooper Co-Sponsor “For the People Act”

Sens. Michael Bennet, John Hickenlooper.

Colorado Senators Michael Bennet and John Hickenlooper have signed on to co-sponsor the “For the People Act,” the election reform bill introduced today that is a companion to H.R. 1, which passed the House of Representatives on March 3.

As CNBC reports:

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said “everything is on the table” to pass a comprehensive voting reform bill, the For the People Act, during a press conference introducing the legislation Wednesday.

“We will see if our Republican friends join us. If they don’t join us, our caucus will come together and decide the appropriate action to take,” Schumer said. “Failure is not an option.”

The legislation, also known as S.1, includes provisions that aim to make it easier to register and vote, prevent gerrymandering, improve election cybersecurity and reform campaign finance, among other initiatives.

The bill faces an uphill battle in the Senate, where it would require a minimum of 10 Republican votes to defeat a filibuster and move to a final vote on passage.

Click here for a section-by-section breakdown of S.1, the “For the People Act.”

Whither Grand Junction, BLM?

Interior Secretary Deb Haaland.

As the Grand Junction Sentinel’s Dennis Webb reports, Rep. Deb Haaland of New Mexico has been confirmed by the U.S. Senate to be the next Secretary of the Interior, elevating a 35th generation Pueblo Native American to the highest authority over the nation’s land use policies short of the President himself. It’s an historic moment.

A big backlog of thorny issues awaits Haaland as she settles into this crucially important leadership role over the American West, not least the fate of the highly controversial move of the Bureau of Land Management (known since 2020 as the “other BLM”) from its former headquarters in Washington, D.C. to Grand Junction, Colorado during the previous administration:

Haaland…previously has criticized the Trump administration’s relocation of the BLM’s headquarters from Washington to Grand Junction. The agency moved 41 largely top-level jobs to the city, and many more from Washington to other locations in the West. Hickenlooper and Bennet support having what they call a fully functioning headquarters in Grand Junction but say the Trump administration didn’t follow through on its commitment to the city by moving only 41 jobs there.

Haaland said during her confirmation hearing that she would keep an open dialogue with western senators on the issue and accepted Hickenlooper’s invitation to visit the new headquarters if confirmed. She said it will be important to look at the headquarters issue while first considering the well-being of the career staff there.

Outside the new BLM HQ building in Grand Junction, shared with various oil companies.

It’s necessary to be honest about this: the issue of the BLM headquarters’ move to Grand Junction has split Colorado’s top Democratic elected officials from many of their colleagues, as well as the bulk of the environmental advocacy community. Environmental groups including local advocacy organizations like the Center for Western Priorities have been clear from the beginning that this move was a terrible idea taking place for all the wrong reasons:

Aaron Weiss, deputy director of the Center for Western Priorities, described the move in blunt terms.

“This headquarters move has just been a total failure,” Weiss said.

Some people would argue that trimming government is not necessarily a bad thing, and supporters of the move have argued that BLM employees unwilling to relocate closer to the lands they manage weren’t a good fit for the agency anyway. But for Weiss, the numbers confirmed his worst fears about the Trump administration’s real motivation.

“The headquarters move was not a move. It was simply an evisceration of the agency,” Weiss said. [Pols emphasis]

In a January statement, Colorado Sens. Michael Bennet and John Hickenlooper reiterated their support for the agency’s move to Grand Junction under President Joe Biden, while making the case that the Trump administration had executed it poorly:

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The GMS Podcast: Saying No to Boebert’s No to Our Noes

This week on The Get More Smarter Podcast, hosts Jason Bane and Ian Silverii review the wacky CPAC weekend — including Rep. Lauren “Q*Bert” Boebert’s incomprehensible rhetoric — and break down the opening week(s) of the 2021 Colorado legislative session.

Catch up on previous episodes of The Get More Smarter Podcast at GetMoreSmarter.com.

Questions? Comments? Complaints? Hit us up at AngryRants@getmoresmarter.com.

Subscribe: Apple Podcasts | Google Podcasts | Spotify | Stitcher | TuneIn

What History Will Record In The End (Hopefully)

Sens. Michael Bennet, John Hickenlooper.

It didn’t get much press–and that’s a thing we need to talk about–but last week, Colorado’s Democratic U.S. Senators John Hickenlooper and Michael Bennet announced they are signing on as sponsors of the U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021: the first legitimate attempt at a comprehensive immigration reform package since 2013’s Gang of Eight negotiations (which also included Sen. Bennet) led to the passage out of the Senate before dying in the GOP-controlled House:

U.S. Senators John Hickenlooper and Michael Bennet today joined over twenty of their Senate colleagues and dozens of members of the House of Representatives to introduce the bicameral U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021. The comprehensive immigration reform bill is modeled after President Biden’s bold, inclusive, and humane framework for the future of the United States immigration system.

The legislation would provide millions of hardworking, undocumented immigrants with a pathway to citizenship, including Dreamers, Temporary Protective Status (TPS) recipients, and essential workers who have made enormous sacrifices during the pandemic; prioritize family reunification and keeping families together; and bolster the country’s long-term economic growth. The bill would also equip the country to responsibly and effectively manage the border with smart and effective investments, address root causes of migration that force people to leave Central America, and restore the United States’ commitment to human rights.

“For decades our broken immigration system has stifled our economy, undermined our security, and violated our country’s proud heritage as a nation of immigrants. We’ve seen this failed system play out in particularly horrific fashion over the last four years as families were ripped apart and children were housed in cages,” said Hickenlooper. “Today’s bill represents a comprehensive approach to tackling this challenge once and for all, including a much-needed, fair path to citizenship along with smart investments to effectively and responsibly manage our borders. It signals a new day in aligning our national values with our immigration policy.”

If passed into law, the U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021 would go considerably beyond the failed 2013 immigration reform bill by providing a three-year path to citizenship for green card holders, immediate green cards for “DREAMers,” and temporary legal status for undocumented immigrants already in the country with good records. It keeps families together in the U.S. during immigration proceedings, and clears visa backlogs for students and needed workers. It funds citizenship and English language instruction. And yes, it has money for border security as well–the smart kind, not the dumb wall-based variety.

But as we said at the beginning, buzz about this new ambitious proposal has been surprisingly lacking here in Colorado despite the active participation of both of the state’s U.S. Senators. One reason for this may be that finding the Republican Senators necessary to go along with any comprehensive immigration reform package is going to be difficult–likely more so than in 2013. In 2013, 14 Republicans joined with unanimous Senate Democrats to pass the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act by a lopsided 68-32 margin. If the U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021 gets to President Joe Biden’s desk, it’s almost certain to do so with less Republican crossover support simply due to the rightward drift of that party in the meantime.

Another reason we unfortunately suspect Sens. Bennet and Hickenlooper are not getting the credit they deserve for being part of this campaign, however, is local intra-Democratic politics. After Hickenlooper’s easy primary victory in 2020 and perhaps in anticipation of an underdog primary challenge against Bennet in 2022, there seems to be some reluctance to acknowledge politically positive developments involving our two Senators when they occur–and a great deal of focus on miscues that, while deserving of criticism, are just not of the same magnitude as the good they’re trying to do.

That’s a mistake. And in the event Bennet and Hickenlooper do get comprehensive immigration reform passed after all these years of trying, they’ll have both thanks and a few apologies coming.

Senate Republicans Acquit Trump for Second Time

UPDATE: Statement from impeachment manager Rep. Diana DeGette on today’s decision:

“Our case was strong, the facts were clear and the evidence we presented was overwhelming. This was the largest bipartisan vote to impeach a president ever, and even Mitch McConnell agreed that we proved our case. It’s shameful that so many Senate Republicans chose to hide behind a faulty technicality instead of considering the facts as we had laid them out.

“President Trump incited a violent insurrection against our government. He used his platform as the president of the United States to launch a deadly attack on the U.S. Capitol building to try to stop Congress from certifying the election for his opponent. It was the highest of high crimes. It was the greatest betrayal of office. And it was the most brazen attack on our own government by a sitting U.S. president that our nation has ever seen.

“Our goal in pursuing a conviction against Donald Trump for his conduct was not to punish him, but to prevent the type of violence that took place that day from ever happening again. While we didn’t get the conviction we ultimately sought, I believe we made our case to the American people. And that’s just as important because, at the end of the day, they are now the ones who will ultimately decide whether Donald Trump is ever allowed to hold public office again.”

—–

Twice impeached, twice acquitted by Senate Republicans

As The Washington Post reports:

Senate Republicans voted against convicting Donald Trump Saturday for inciting his supporters to storm the Capitol Jan. 6, bringing a swift end to the former president’s second impeachment trial after Democrats abandoned plans to call witnesses in the face of GOP opposition.

Seven Republicans joined Democrats in a 57-43 vote in favor of conviction, falling short of the two-thirds majority needed to convict Trump in the Senate. Sens. Richard Burr (N.C.), Bill Cassidy (La.), Susan Collins (Maine), Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), Mitt Romney (Utah), Ben Sasse (Neb.) and Patrick Toomey (Pa.) were the Republicans who voted with Democrats.

There was never much of a question about whether Senate Republicans would vote to acquit former President Trump on impeachment charges for inciting an insurrection. There were enough Trump lackeys in the Senate who had made up their minds on impeachment well before the trial even began; that includes Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz, who advised Trump’s legal team on strategy and said on his podcast Friday that he told Trump’s team that they had “already won.”

As the Post reports, the vote to acquit Trump came after the Senate voted to allow witness testimony to take place in the impeachment trial:

The drama earlier Saturday began when lead House impeachment manager Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) opened the day’s proceedings with an unexpected request to call Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-Wash.) as a witness following reports of her account that Trump had refused the entreaties of House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) to call off the rioters.

Herrera Beutler described an expletive-laden phone call in which Trump falsely claimed that the rioters were members of antifa, the loose-knit movement of sometimes violent liberal activists. He also accused McCarthy of caring less about Trump’s efforts to overturn Biden’s victory than the rioters did.

Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) had told Democrats earlier Saturday that the decision about witnesses would be left to the House managers. So after Raskin’s request, the chamber voted 55-45 to allow witnesses, with five Republicans joining Democrats and with the chamber sliding into uncertainty as groups of senators huddled for hours to figure out what would come next.

Despite the vote, Senate Democrats remained cool to the idea of calling witnesses and extending the impeachment trial, believing that no amount of evidence was going to dissuade Trump backers from sticking with the former President. House impeachment managers ultimately agreed and allowed the proceedings to come to a close with a final vote.

McConnell can talk himself blue in the face, but that won’t excuse another acquittal.

Senate Republicans will now try to explain their decision to let Trump skate while many also acknowledge the damage caused by The Big Orange Guy. As The Washington Post reports in a separate story, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell rushed to the microphone to make an ass out of himself soon after casting a vote to acquit Trump:

McConnell said Saturday that the former president is “practically and morally responsible” for provoking the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol — but that the Senate was upholding the Constitution by acquitting him.

“The Senate’s decision today does not condone anything that happened on or before that terrible day,” McConnell said. “It simply shows that senators did what the former president failed to do: We put our constitutional duty first.”…

…McConnell spent much of his remarks condemning Trump’s actions and directly linking them to the Jan. 6 insurrection. The former president’s supporters, he argued, launched their violent attack “because they had been fed wild falsehoods by the most powerful man on Earth, because he was angry he lost an election.”

That’s some pretty remarkable cowardice right there.

On a more positive note, Colorado Rep. Joe Neguse (D-Boulderish) put an exclamation point on a week that saw his national profile increase considerably. Neguse’s final speech urging the Senate to convict Trump on inciting an insurrection featured a number of powerful lines that will be repeated for a long time: