Pro Tip: Don’t Spring a Pop Quiz After Your Political Speech

Former Ft. Collins City Council member Gino Campana is one of a handful of Republicans seeking the GOP nomination for U.S. Senate and the opportunity to lose in November to incumbent Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet. Campana is fairly new to campaigning for a bigger office, so he’s still working out the nuances of how to do things like communicating a coherent message and not boring the hell out of small crowds of people.

Campana was speaking to a group of Republicans at a U.S. Senate candidate forum/COVID-19 superspreader event on Tuesday night in Jefferson County when he decided to spring a pop quiz on the audience. It…did not go well:

You really need to listen to the audio to get the full #FAIL experience. Campana asks the crowd to essentially repeat what he just told them about himself, using a line that should never be repeated by a candidate for political office anywhere, ever again:

I’m Gino Campana, and I’m running for the U.S. Senate to do what?

After a moment of awkward silence, someone in the crowd sputters out — in a completely unintentionally-hilarious manner — “Uh, to…beat…Michael Bennet?”

Are you not entertained?

Note that Campana is pounding on the table as he asks these questions, as though making loud noises will help shake out the answers he’s looking for. Campana then prompts:

And???

This follow-up question elicits only crickets, so Campana provides the answer:

Fight for the American dream, guys. You heard it a lot tonight.

Apparently not, Gino. You might have SAID it a lot, but nobody seems to have been listening. But good call on admonishing the crowd for not paying sufficient attention to your rambling nonsense!

Should you find yourself running for political office in the near future, please: Don’t do this. You’ll thank us later.

Joe Biden Heads For Colorado Disaster Zone

 

9NEWS reports, President Joe Biden accompanied by Gov. Jared Polis, Rep. Joe Neguse of Boulder, and both of Colorado’s U.S. Senators will visit Louisville and Superior this afternoon to assess the damage from devastating wind-driven wildfires that destroyed nearly 1,000 homes one week ago:

Biden will be joined by Colorado Gov. Jared Polis (D) and Neguse (D-Colorado) on Friday’s tour. It was announced Friday morning that Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colorado) and Sen. John Hickenlooper will also join them. Both will travel with the president on Air Force One before touring fire damage and visiting with survivors…

Once in the area, the officials, also including First Lady Jill Biden, will tour an area of Louisville that was damaged by the Marshall Fire. Following the damage tour the president will meet with survivors at the Louisville Recreation & Senior Center and deliver brief remarks about the federal response to the fire.

“This week, many in the Boulder County community – throughout Superior and Louisville – are beginning the long road to recovery in the wake of the unprecedented and terrible Marshall Fire,” Neguse said in a statement.

Traffic through the Denver metro area is not expected to be disrupted, with the President taking a helicopter from Buckley Air Force Base across town to Rocky Mountain Metropolitan Airport in Jeffco. President Biden’s remarks are scheduled for 5:15PM local time (video will stream above).

All we can say is, it’s refreshing to have a presidential President in these moments of need.

Top Ten Stories of 2021 #6: Michael Bennet Finds True North

Sen. Michael Bennet (D).

A side narrative to the last fifteen years of history in Colorado politics, alongside the general trend of Democrats with the help of demographic evolution ascending to political dominance, has been a current of dissent among harder-left Democrats that the “Colorado Model” did not meet their ideological standards. A pro-life Democratic Gov. Bill Ritter elected in 2006 was succeeded in 2010 by a fossil-fuel friendly Gov. John Hickenlooper, and in the early years of Democratic control the party’s agenda was focused more on practical matters like funding health and education than hot-button social issues. At the same time, Colorado Republicans were totally focused on a repellent wedge-issue agenda that made casting them in an unfavorable light easy.

Another product of this early “Colorado Model” political emphasis on the practical over ideological stridency was Sen. Michael Bennet. Appointed by Gov. Ritter in 2009 to succeed Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, Bennet’s relatively thin resume as Denver Public Schools superintendent and chief of staff for then-Denver Mayor Hickenlooper led to the first signs of grassroots pushback against Colorado’s relatively new Democratic leadership. The “pushback” didn’t last long, of course. Bennet easily dispatched a primary challenger in 2010 who ran a bitter campaign from Bennet’s left, and then went on to narrowly hold the seat against the tide of the 2010 GOP wave election.

And then something happened that Bennet’s liberal critics did not anticipate: Bennet actually became one of the more effective progressive voices in the U.S. Senate. In 2013, Sen. Bennet was part of the “Gang of Eight” coalition that successfully passed comprehensive immigration reform legislation out of the U.S. Senate–and then of course watched as the bill died in the GOP-controlled U.S. House determined to not allow President Barack Obama any victories. Faced with enormous pressure to support U.S. Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch simply on account of geography, Bennet cast a brave and defining “no” vote. Today, Sen. Bennet is an articulate critic of the Senate’s dysfunction, and supports reforming the filibuster in order to clear the body’s self-imposed legislative logjam.

In 2019, Sen. Michael Bennet launched a presidential campaign that failed to ignite. On the campaign trail for President, however, Bennet called for among other things a dramatic expansion of the Child Tax Credit. Bennet’s vision was realized just this year by the passage of the American Rescue Plan, which started in July sending direct payments to 88% of American families with children. If the Child Tax Credit expansion can be made permanent, and as readers know that’s beyond Bennet’s control, it is projected to directly reduce child poverty by as much as 45%.

In 2010, it’s unlikely that Bennet’s critics on the left could have predicted that he would one day help bring about the greatest blow struck against child poverty since the Great Society. But it’s these accomplishments that have effectively taken the wind out of any Democratic primary challenge to Bennet in 2022. On the GOP side, the only opponent to Bennet with any legislative experience is freshman Rep. Ron Hanks, who is literally running on a platform of blowing up voting machines.

Bennet may not be the most charismatic Democrat in the caucus, but he’s earned the trust of voters that should see him through 2022 without too much drama–and from there, as long as he wants to serve.

Inside Gino Campana’s Weird New Bennet Attack

Gino Campana is a Ft. Collins businessman seeking the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate for the right to challenge incumbent Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Denver) next November. We haven’t mentioned Campana much in this space because, frankly, there isn’t a whole lot to discuss.

Campana launched his campaign in October with an online video that seemed more like a commercial for Ancestry.com than a political spot. His general narrative seems to be that he is a moderate-ish Republican businessman who is able to form sentences on his own. Campana’s big claim to fame is getting appointed to something called the Public Buildings Reform Board by former President Donald Trump — an offer that came literally within the final month of the Trump administration and thus never materialized into a real job.

Email from Gino Campana Senate campaign

Thus far, Campana has been trying to navigate inside a space that is not quite “raving lunatic Big Lie advocate” but also allows him to avoid the dreaded “RINO” label (during an interview with right-wing radio host Peter Boyles in October, Campana used about 10,000 words to — sort of — answer the question, “Did Trump win the 2020 election?”). Because nobody seems to be paying much attention to his campaign, last week Campana launched a new narrative effort targeted at Bennet that will only make a modicum of sense if you watch a crapload of Fox News.

Campana recently sent out an email to supporters calling on Sen. Bennet to condemn some thing that happened at some school in Denver that only got right-wing media attention because of a poorly-worded sign.

According to a Fox News story (via Yahoo!) from last Friday, an anti-critical race theory group called Parents Defending Education filed a civil rights complaint after Centennial Elementary school in Denver tried to do a thing:

Centennial had a sign announcing its “families of color playground night.” Earlier this week, the school defended the event in a statement provided to Fox News. “Our school leaders met with some of the Black families whose children attend our school to determine ways for these families to feel more included in our school community,” the statement said.

“Some of these families shared with us that, since the only time many of them see one another is at drop-off and pick-up times, we host some events where Black families can meet one another, connect with one another and share their experiences about the school with one another. We are honoring their request. All families are welcome to attend all of our events, and families from a variety of backgrounds have done so.” [Pols emphasis]

Campana jumped on this “woke segregation” and finagled his way onto the Jimmy Lakey Show in order to somehow blame this on Bennet:

What does this have to do with “segregation”? Absolutely NOTHING. But here’s how Campana attempts to connect the dots:

CAMPANA: [Bennet] is in a unique position to comment on this because he was the superintendent of Denver Public Schools. And these teachings didn’t happen overnight. It happened over a course of time, and he was there 15 years ago, and perhaps the seed was planted 15 years ago or six years ago.

Before being appointed to a vacant U.S. Senate seat by then-Governor Bill Ritter, Bennet served as the Superintendent of Denver Public Schools for about three and a half years (2005-09). According to Campana, the poorly-worded sign outside Centennial Elementary school is all part of a sinister plan that Bennet set in motion “15 years ago or six years ago,” and Bennet’s refusal to discuss this matter is proof that he is complicit in a broader effort to allow families of different racial backgrounds to meet together on a school playground.

What?

Look, we get what Campana is doing here: He’s attempting the same tactic that many of his Republican brethren have used for several years. In this case, the general formula is to use the word “woke” in a sentence about brown people so that you can attract support and a few bucks from ignorant racists. But Campana could appeal to the same breed of supporter by merely repeating QAnon conspiracies alleging that Bennet drinks fresh baby blood while riding around on a unicorn with Chelsea Clinton. This is a silly attack designed to appeal to the lowest common denominator of Republican voter in Colorado.

Serious candidates for serious political offices don’t spend significant chunks of time scribbling out nonsense on an etch-a-sketch board. That Campana even thinks that he can (or should) do this is a pretty strong indictment of his abilities as a politician.

If you’ve been wondering what to make of Campana as a candidate for U.S. Senate, you now have your answer.

The Pivot To Voting Rights: A Time To Be Honest

Sens. Michael Bennet, John Hickenlooper.

Colorado Newsline reporter Chase Woodruff relays the new message from U.S. Senate Democrats, who are said to be “shelving” consideration of President Joe Biden’s Build Back Better budget reconciliation bill in order to switch focus to quickly passing voting rights legislation:

Sen. John Hickenlooper of Colorado on Wednesday announced his support for “changes” to the filibuster, as Senate Democrats move to take up voting rights legislation in the final weeks of the year.

“We’ve been here almost a year, and we’ve seen enough: It’s time to change the filibuster to protect voting rights,” Hickenlooper said in a statement released by his office. “Protecting the right to vote shouldn’t be a partisan issue, and we set out to work across the aisle. But three separate voting rights bills have failed in the Senate this year.”

Hickenlooper’s announcement came as Senate Democrats signaled they would postpone consideration of President Joe Biden’s “Build Back Better” budget bill until next year, and instead move forward with legislation to protect voting rights.

News of this shift of priority to passing legislation to protect voting rights, which has always been the highest Democratic priority after passage of Build Back Better itself, comes as talks between the White House and Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia broke down this week over continued funding of the expanded Child Tax Credit–putting Manchin squarely into conflict with one of the CTC’s principal supporters, Sen. Michael Bennet of Colorado:

One of the most pivotal issues holding up progress is the child tax credit, a major Democratic Party priority that delivers aid to families and is key to the Biden administration’s effort to reduce child poverty. Manchin wants to cut the expanded child tax credit from the bill, with a source telling CNN that he wants to “zero it out.”

The Denver Post’s Alex Burness reports, we’re talking about a lot of Colorado families who will very quickly feel the pain unless the tax credit is extended:

Some 600,000 Colorado households were slated Wednesday to receive their monthly payment through the federal expanded child tax credit program.

But those families should not count on this program continuing. Unless Congress acts to extend the program — and that doesn’t appear likely in this calendar year — there’s no promise of any payments beyond those that go out Dec. 15.

If this program expires, said U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet, a Colorado Democrat who has championed this tax credit, “It’s going to make it harder for (families) to pay the rent, to pay for food, to pay for child care.”

If the push to change filibuster rules enough to get a voting rights bill through with 50+1 votes succeeds, and the latest word is that fellow recalcitrant Sen. Krysten Sinema still doesn’t support weakening the filibuster so that is not in any way assured despite Manchin’s expressed support for a voting rights bill, it would be a significant accomplishment for Democrats with practical benefits in terms of combating vote suppression going into the 2022 midterms. But with so much hanging in the balance including the biggest direct attempt to reduce childhood poverty in most of our lifetimes, the fight to fund the CTC with or without the rest of Build Back Better will be top priority in the new year.

No honest observer of this situation can characterize it as politically ideal for Democrats. The U.S. Senate 50/50 split has left the party’s agenda effectively at the mercy of its weakest links. Sens. Manchin and Sinema have done tremendous damage by protracting this intra-party struggle through the first year of Biden’s presidency, and showing voters how fractious the couldn’t-be-narrower Democratic majority coalition is. The results of the 2021 elections threw a scare into Democratic leadership, who responded by hastily passing the bipartisan roads and bridges bill–giving Biden a bankable win at the expense of weakening his negotiating position to pass Build Back Better.

What Colorado Democrats must always remember is that this is not being done by fellow Colorado Democrats like Sen. Bennet and Sen. Hickenlooper. They are victims of the weakness at the margin of this smallest possible majority like the rest of us. Manchin has kicked the legs out from under major policy priorities from both Hickenlooper and now Bennet with Manchin’s assault on the Child Tax Credit. And if Bennet or Hickenlooper “get tough on Manchin,” whatever that means but that being the battle cry of vengeful progressive activists, Manchin will simply make good on his threats to switch parties, at which point all hope of passing anything Democrats want ends.

With all of this dreary reality acknowledged, the long-term best-case scenario is still pretty good. If Democrats get meaningful voting rights protections to Biden’s desk in this priority pivot, if they return after the holidays with renewed urgency to pass Build Back Better and keep relief flowing to millions of American families…

Until that is mathematically impossible, the only option is to keep plugging away with the army they have.

“The Big Line” Is not a Poll, and Other Notes

 

Republican U.S. Senate candidate Eli Bremer was a guest on something called “The Richard Randall Show” earlier this week. We’re noting Bremer’s right-wing radio appearance here only because Colorado Pols and “The Big Line” were an early topic during the discussion. We listened to the interview and transcribed the relevant sections below…

During his introduction of Bremer, host Richard Randall opened things up with some bellyaching about “The Big Line,” which he may or may not think represents actual scientific polling results: 

RANDALL: I was doing a little bit of research on you and Greg Lopez, and I got on to “The Big Line” by ColoradoPols.com, and they’re ranking the odds for various races…

…You know, I’m looking at this poll, and it was November 5, and I think it’s B.S. And I think one of the things that I think, a lot of folks on the left, or even left-leaning media do, is that they try to make it sound as though, you know, Greg Lopez doesn’t have a snowball’s chance in hell. This Eli Bremer, hell would have to freeze over before he would ever have a chance against a great Senator like Michael Bennet who has done so much for the State of Colorado and for the nation…they’ve got him at 70%, and then they’ve got you at 20%, and then they have a bunch of other candidates who go from 20, 10, 10, 5…

I think sometimes they do that because they want people to think, these guys have no chance of winning. I’m just going to stay home. Why do I even bother with this stuff? What would you say to somebody who is starting to have that attitude?

First of all, “The Big Line” has been a feature of ColoradoPols.com since our inception in 2004. It is most definitely NOT A POLL, nor have we ever pretended otherwise. Here’s what it has said at the bottom of “The Big Line” for more than a decade:

It is an accurate, if unscientific, look at the races from insider perspectives from both parties. It does NOT reflect who we might like to see win, but reflects who has the best chance to win a General Election based on inside information and our analysis of that information.

“The Big Line” is our analysis of the changing odds of the most prominent races in Colorado each major election cycle. It’s just our opinion.

Love it or hate it, we’re usually correct. History bears this out.

As for Randall’s suggestion that Colorado voters are deciding whether or not to vote every year based on what it says on “The Big Line”… well, that’s probably true.

Also, Greg Lopez absolutely does not have a snowball’s chance in hell of being elected Governor of Colorado.

Let’s continue with the interview…

BREMER: Well, I think it’s…first, you’ve got to remember where it came from. That’s not even left-leaning. That’s a leftist blog website. It’s not a poll — it’s their opinion.

The other thing I think that is really interesting to point out is that in the 2020 election, Republicans did not lose. We won 100% of the, quote, “toss up” congressional seats around the country — one of which was won by my friend Mike Garcia, who’s the first Republican in California to gain a congressional seat in 22 years. He’s a friend and supporter. But that shows us, when 100% of the toss-ups are won by Republicans, that the ratings systems are off. 

My rule of thumb is that the ratings systems are always ticked one to the left. So, if they say it leans Dem, which is where the Colorado Senate is now — I’m not sure where they put the governor — but on the Senate they say it leans Dem…that’s actually probably a toss-up. By the time it’s a toss-up it’s usually a Leans R. 

And then, polling, if you look historically at the Real Clear Politics average, in many cases it’s about 5 points skewed to the left. I think that the polling and the ratings are largely controlled by liberals, and they…you can just look back historically. Don’t take my word for it — look back historically and then adjust in your own mind accordingly. So, take it with a grain of salt.

Kudos to Bremer for pointing out that “The Big Line” is just our opinion of things. The rest of his argument is a bit muddled…

(more…)

Colorado Dems Celebrate As Biden Gets Part One Done

(Clockwise from top left): Diana DeGette, Joe Neguse, Ed Perlmutter, and Jason Crow

Denver7’s Robert Garrison reports on the final and narrow passage last night of a bipartisan roads and bridges bill by the U.S. House, a vote made possible by 13 Republicans who crossed party lines to offset “no” votes from a handful of progressive Democrats led by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez–handing President Joe Biden a major and much-needed victory that will have voter-visible effects in the near term, but also putting the onus squarely on Democratic Senate holdouts to ensure the much larger Build Back Better reconciliation package actually gets passed:

Colorado leaders hailed the passage of the $1 trillion infrastructure package as more details as to what it will mean for the state comes to light. But not everyone was in a celebratory mood.

The U.S. House of Representatives passed the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act with bipartisan support late Friday.

Gov. Jared Polis said in a statement the bill is a “win” for the state.

“Let’s fix the roads and reduce traffic! This is a win for our country and a win for Colorado! I’m thrilled that Congress has passed with bipartisan support this once-in-a-generation opportunity to improve our roads, create new jobs, improve our drinking water, and tackle climate change,” Polis said in a statement. “Paired with our state’s historic bipartisan infrastructure plan that I signed this summer, Colorado will see a transformation across all four corners of our state to make our roads safer and better for all Coloradans. Thank you, President Biden and Congress for your bipartisan work to bring real change across our country’s entire infrastructure system.”

Rep. Joe Neguse, who serves as a vice-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC), is ebullient and tallying up the wins for Colorado this morning:

Although passage of the bipartisan roads and bridges bill is making some progressives nervous about the fate of the larger Build Back Better plan (more on that in a moment), this morning the big story is the red-on-red rage from conservative Republicans including Colorado’s own Rep. Lauren Boebert, vowing retribution against the “fake Republicans” who enabled passage of the bill in the House last night:

While Republicans busy themselves eating their own for a few news cycles and President Biden enjoys a major win after an undeniably difficult few months, it is necessary to acknowledge the real concerns raised by the six dissenting Democrats, who say they voted no because it had been previously assured that the bipartisan roads and bridges bill and the larger “human infrastructure” Build Back Better plan would pass as a package deal. As of now, Speaker Nancy Pelosi is operating on a promise by moderate House Democrats to support the larger bill once the Congressional Budget Office completes its necessary scoring–the same thing America’s Most Important Senator® Sen. Joe Manchin claims to be waiting for.

In exchange for accolades today, the stakes are now higher to pass the larger bill Democrats still very much need to deliver ahead of the 2022 midterms. Colorado Democrats have not at any point been part of the problem here, in fact both Sens. Michael Bennet and John Hickenlooper have seen their own priorities threatened and even cut from the bill at Manchin’s whim. It’s a major test of discipline for the razor-thin Democratic majority in Congress–and as Will Rogers famously observed in 1935, organization has never been the Democratic Party’s strong suit.

When there’s a deal, Colorado Democrats will be on the right side of it.

Beyond that, pray and/or bet according to your preference.

Colorado Republicans Continue to Struggle with the “Big Lie”

The “Big Lie” may be the only truth for Republicans, but they still don’t have any idea how to talk about it without getting at least one foot stuck in their mouth. 

Was the 2020 Presidential election fair and accurate, or was it “stolen” from former President Donald Trump? This is the single most important (and obvious) question for any 2022 candidate, yet most Colorado Republicans STILL can’t figure out how to respond in a coherent manner.

Heidi Ganahl during her disastrous interview with 9News on the day of her campaign launch.

Republican gubernatorial candidate Hiedi Heidi Ganahl may have irrevocably damaged her chances with her inability to provide a straightforward answer to this question; this is one of several reasons why even fellow Colorado Republicans believe Ganahl’s long-inevitable candidacy is already doomed. When Ganahl kicked off her campaign on Sept. 14, she was asked by multiple news outlets to provide an answer to a question about the “Big Lie” that any idiot should have known to expect. She botched all of those questions, capping off the day with this infamous disaster of an interview with Marshall Zelinger of 9News in which Ganahl keeps complaining about getting asked “divisive questions” (CLICK HERE to watch that entire cringeworthy interview).  

Colorado Republicans have since tried to figure out a different path forward when this question invariably resurfaces. Earlier this month, State Republican Party Chair Kristi Burton Brown (KBB) went on KNUS radio to tout this advice: Republican candidates should acknowledge that Democrat Joe Biden is the rightful President of the United States and try to move on to something else. 

Republicans have sorta followed this advice in subsequent interviews. Here’s what Ganahl told KNUS radio last week, per The Colorado Times Recorder:

“Joe Biden’s our president, and we have to do everything we can to change that in 2024,” Ganahl responded. “And as a candidate for governor, I can’t speak for the election integrity of other states, but I can speak for Colorado and I would not be running if I did not think I could win here.”

Ganahl then clarified her position on the issue further by saying that she doesn’t believe the outcome of the 2020 Presidential Election in Colorado was changed by fraud, pointing to Biden’s large margin of victory here. She does not go so far as to say that fraud didn’t occur.

“I have not seen any evidence that the presidential election outcome in our state was changed by fraud. I mean, the margin was huge. It was 13 percent or 400000 votes that Colorado went for Joe Biden.”

Ganahl appears to have settled (for now) on the answer that Biden won in Colorado but maybe not in other states. This is not a response that is going to help Ganahl win over moderate voters in Colorado, but will it placate the GOP base?

Republican U.S. Senate candidate Eli Bremer fights off the “Big Lie” question.

On the Senate side of the campaign trail, Republican Ron Hanks flat out states that Biden was not fairly elected in 2020. Some of his fellow Senate candidates, meanwhile, are following the hybrid approach suggested by KBB. The Colorado Times Recorder caught this long and winding answer from Eli Bremer in late September:

“So I’m not an expert on elections,” Bremer said in the Sept. 28 interview. “One of the things I’ve learned, though, is when you have questions, go to people that really know about it. And I’m not going to lie, on election night, back in the aftermath of the election, I had a lot of big concerns about this election. I saw numbers that didn’t make sense to me. I saw outcomes that didn’t make sense to me. And so one of the things that I would say is I have fidelity to the truth. I want to get down and find the truth. And so I started making calls and I started asking people, particularly in Colorado, because that’s, you know, that’s our state. I talked to some clerks and recorders. Our clerk in El Paso, I’ve known for quite a while, talked to him. They’ve done a massive amount of investigation into this. And he said, ‘Eli, when we looked at the results, we’re talking random error of .01% level.’ And so I don’t have to like the outcome of the election. But in looking at what I’m seeing now and in talking to people who have phenomenal amounts of experience on this, who are on our side, I believe that in Colorado the results that were reported are correct.”

Using a LOT of words, Bremer appears to be going with the same theme that Colorado’s elections were fine but other states might have been corrupt. 

Ganahl, Hanks, and Bremer don’t have great answers to this question, but their responses are at least more clear than the one recently attempted by Senate hopeful Gino Campana. On Oct. 13, Campana was a guest on longtime radio host Peter Boyles’s show “Peter Boyles On Demand.” Boyles asked Campana about what he calls “the one question every Republican candidate needs to be able to answer,” which resulted in Campana making a complete fool of himself [note: all emphasis is ours]:

 

(more…)

Manchin Takes Aim At Bennet’s Prized Child Tax Credit

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-ish).

As Pat Poblete of the Colorado Springs Gazette’s political blog reports–while Colorado’s junior Sen. John Hickenlooper reckons with moderate obstinate Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia’s deal-killing opposition to the carbon tax Hickenlooper has championed since his 2019 presidential run, Colorado’s other U.S. Senator Michael Bennet is confronted with a threat to the size and scope of his overwhelmingly popular Child Tax Credit from the same Sen. Manchin:

The number of Colorado parents eligible to receive the federal Child Tax Credit could be cut by nearly 70% if congressional Democrats and the Biden administration cave to the demands of one of their Democratic colleagues, according to a new report.

The vast federal program – which sends monthly payments to parents of children 17 years old and younger – has been a top policy priority of U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet since the middle of the last decade and was signed into law by President Joe Biden in March as part of a pandemic response package…

Researchers at the self-proclaimed “moderate” Niskanen Center, a Washington, D.C.-based think tank, on Tuesday released estimates based off of Axios’ report showing if Manchin got his way, some 37.4 million children across the country would lose out on federal aid.

And that’s not all:

Colorado would be particularly hard hit based on the projections put together by the Niskanen Center’s Robert Orr and Samuel Hammond. Based on the duo’s projections, roughly 320,000 Colorado kids would be eligible for the credit under Manchin’s proposal, down 67.9% from the roughly 1.1 million currently eligible children.

Sen. Bennet’s goal is to see the Child Tax Credit in its current form extended for a further five years–enough time for the credit to make measurable progress toward the goal of cutting child poverty in half throughout the United States. But because of the perfectly divided 50/50 U.S. Senate, Sen. Manchin now wields a degree of influence over the process that has galled and outraged Democrats across the nation. Manchin, the only Democratic representative left representing a state whose failed economy has embittered a white working-class population, seems to be taking pleasure in his dream-crushing role as he demands a smaller final package for the politically self-serving sake of being smaller.

With the signature priorities of both of Colorado’s U.S. Senators now at Joe Manchin’s mercy, the one thing we say for certain is that both Hickenlooper and Bennet are as frustrated as everyone else over the present state of affairs. What’s happening right now is not why either of them were elected to the U.S. Senate, and it’s not their fault. We can only hope that when the dust settles on a final product, some of the good stuff Colorado’s U.S. Senators have fought for is still in there.

In the long run, the only cure is a majority with a margin that prevents any one Senator from playing God.

Anybody Else Want to be a Republican U.S. Senate Candidate?

No, seriously, we’re asking in light of this news from Jesse Paul of The Colorado Sun:

 

What the hell?

Deborah Flora

Deborah Flora is a talk radio host with 710 KNUS in Denver. In terms of name ID among Colorado Republican Senate candidates seeking to eventually lose to incumbent Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet in 2022, Flora probably fits somewhere between Gino Campana and Joe O’Dea (whoever that is).

From what we can tell, Flora is a former actress and Miss Colorado winner, as well as a seasoned veteran of the “aggrieved Republican mom” team.

The only Coloradan who life might be affected by this announcement is fellow right-wing radio host Dan Caplis. We have been under the assumption that Caplis was only pretending (again) to run for U.S. Senate, and this likely cements that status.

On the other hand, maybe it wouldn’t be that weird to have two talk radio host candidates since Caplis is now on KHOW instead of KNUS. That really could have been awkward otherwise.

Bennet Raises Another $2 million in Q3

Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Denver)

Full campaign finance numbers for the third quarter of 2021 will be made publicly available on Friday, but some figures are starting to leak out ahead of time.

As Ernest Luning reports for the publication formerly known as the Colorado Statesman:

U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet raised more than $2 million in the third quarter of 2021 for his re-election bid, the Colorado Democrat’s campaign said Tuesday.

Bennet, who is seeking a third term in next year’s election, has raked in $6.5 million this cycle and heads into the final quarter of the year with more than $3.5 million in the bank, giving the one-time presidential candidate a significant head start as potential Republican challengers are still getting their campaigns off the ground.

The total set a new personal best for Bennet’s fundraising in an off-year quarter, his campaign said, with the $2.06 million clearing his previous highest quarterly total — set in the first three months of 2015 — by around $3,000.

The Republican field of U.S. Senate candidates is a clusterfuck of weirdos and no-name challengers; meanwhile, incumbent Democrat Sen. Michael Bennet just keeps plugging along raising huge sums of money until the GOP figures out which no-hope candidate to nominate in June 2022.

When Democrat John Hickenlooper demolished Republican Sen. Cory Gardner in 2020 by 9 points, it all but assured that national Republican money would be staying away from Colorado’s Senate race in 2022. Bennet is making sure that Republicans have no reason to change their mind about funding strategies for the next 12 months.

Started at the Bottom, Digging Deeper

Ron Hanks

The 2022 U.S. Senate race in Colorado got a bit more interesting last week, with two new Republican candidates joining the field: Ft. Collins developer Gino Campana and State Rep. Ron Hanks (R-Penrose). There are now six Republicans running for the chance to lose to incumbent Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet next November. If this week is any indication of things to come, the Republican Senate Primary is going to be one long race to the bottom.

Let’s start with the candidates, who at this point are separated into two different tiers. Hanks, Campana, and Eli Bremer make up the first tier of “plausible” candidates because they have at least some name ID and/or ability to raise money for a real campaign. Erik Aadland, Peter Yu, and Juli Henry fall into a separate tier; we’d be surprised if any of these three candidates even managed to get their name onto the June 2022 Primary ballot, so we won’t spend any time discussing them in this space.

For now, at least, the race for the Republican U.S. Senate nomination looks like a three candidate affair.

The most interesting name in the primary tier is Hanks, the copy machine killer who immediately lays claim to the far-right wing in a Republican Primary. Hanks is a full-on election fraud truther, QAnon believer, and proud member of the Donald Trump fan club who has been outspoken in his defense of Mesa County Clerk and Recorder Tina Peters and has made pilgrimages to 2020 recount sites such as Arizona’s Maricopa County. As you can see from his campaign launch video, Hanks is going to largely focus on two issues: “Election security” and the Second Amendment. Head on over to the ‘Issues’ page on his campaign website for more policy proposals, which are entertaining to the extent that you can make sense of the rambling rhetoric.

Whether or not Hanks can mount a truly competitive campaign will depend on his ability to raise money, which is unclear at the moment. But his very existence as a Senate candidate changes the dynamic of this race. This is a guy who has no qualms about making a lynching joke on the floor of the House of Representatives. He’ll be traveling the state in the next 9 months to hoover up support from the right-wing base, which is going to scare other candidates into taking positions that are more extreme than they might have preferred…

ELT Bremer

…which brings us to Eli Bremer. We haven’t heard much from Bremer since he first entered the Senate race in July with a clunky video that lacked any real semblance of a message beyond telling people that he is a former Olympian who competed in an event that most people probably didn’t even know existed. The inclusion of Hanks and Campana in the GOP field seems to have prompted Bremer to take things up a notch.

As Ernest Luning reports for the publication formerly known as The Colorado Statesman, Bremer’s campaign announced this week a slate of “county coordinators” that is mostly designed to affirm that Bremer already has a share of the nutty right-wing base:

One of Bremer’s county ambassadors drew national attention in 2014 when he questioned whether the 2012 mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., “really happened.” [Pols emphasis]

Tom Ready, a dentist and former chairman of the Pueblo County GOP, defended floating a theory that the shooting had in fact been a hoax designed to promote gun control during a debate when he was running for county commissioner.

“Whether it’s true or not, it’s called an open discussion,” Ready said, though he later apologized for the comments.

This is how far things have fallen for Republicans: One of their most plausible Senate candidates literally sought out the endorsement of Tom Ready, who thinks it’s totally cool to have a “discussion” about the idea that a mass shooting of schoolchildren was just a mirage. Bremer may not be familiar with his recent Colorado political history, because having Ready’s support has not generally been a good thing (ask Bob Beauprez). Ready has a long background in Colorado Republican politics, including plenty of allegations of racism and domestic violence. If you seek out this endorsement, it means you want the support of the kind of people who would take Tom Ready seriously. How does this help Bremer if he eventually has to appeal to a wider range of voters in a General Election? (SPOILER ALERT: It doesn’t).

Ready isn’t the only questionable name on Bremer’s “county coordinator” list. Also included is Joe Webb, the former chair of the Jefferson County Republican Party who regularly referred to Democrats like Jared Polis as “brown shirts,” (a reference to Adolf Hitler’s Nazi militia); and Don Suppes, the Delta County Commissioner who is known to be a fan of white supremacist websites and a believer in the silly conspiracy idea that the United Nations is coming to take your guns. Again, these are the type of supporters that Bremer is TOUTING in a press release. If you’re standing with Bremer, you’re standing on the same side as these folks.

Hello fellow regular people!

The third plausible Republican Senate candidate is Gino Campana, a Ft. Collins developer and former city council member whose braggadocio about almost being selected as Walker Stapleton’s Lieutenant Governor nominee in 2018 caused significant media problems for the GOP gubernatorial hopeful. Campana is rumored to have the ability to self-fund a Senate race to some degree, which is the primary “qualification” that separates him from the rest of the GOP field.

Campana launched his Senate intentions this week with the release of a meandering three-minute video (titled “I am running for US Senate”) that looks more like a commercial for Ancestry.com than a campaign announcement. Campana’s launch video is mostly about his immigrant father — you don’t even see the name ‘Gino Campana’ until the :33 second mark — interspersed with images of Gino fiddling around with odd pieces of masonry as part of a tortured effort to come across as a regular guy in a plaid shirt.

The winner of the Republican Senate Primary will likely be the candidate who is best able to garner support from the right-wing base. This fact alone will put the eventual GOP nominee in an impossible position for a General Election; there is no realistic Venn diagram in which fire-breathing adherents of “The Big Lie” join with Unaffiliated voters in backing the same candidate in November 2022.

Former Sen. Cory Gardner set the bar pretty low for future Republican Senate candidates with his 9-point loss to Democrat John Hickenlooper in 2020. Don’t be surprised if the 2022 GOP candidates still manage to limbo underneath.

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.

 

(more…)

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…

 

(more…)

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.

 

 

(more…)

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.