This is What Elected Officials Are Supposed to Do

Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-Jefferson County) held his 100th “Government in the Grocery” event last weekend.

We all get tired of negative news, even if we recognize that the negative aspect of a story might be what makes that story relevant in the first place. Media outlets report on airplane crashes but never list out every flight that landed safely in a given day. “Dog Bites Man” is not a newsworthy headline because it’s not unique, but “Man Bites Dog” will get your attention every time.

It is for similar reasons that we often discuss the inexplicable inaccessibility of Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma), who can be easily located in cardboard form but can be almost impossible to find in real life. It is not normal — nor should it be — for an elected official to be so completely disconnected from his or her constituents. To quote Kyle Clark of 9News:”Citizens shouldn’t have to be detectives to meet with their representatives.”

Or, to put it another way, Sen. Gardner is the “Bizarro” version of Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-Jefferson County).

Perlmutter was first elected in CO-7 in 2006 and hasn’t lost a re-election contest ever since. In fact, Perlmutter has won every one of his re-election bids by at least a double-digit margin. There are many reasons for Perlmutter’s success, but at the top of the list is a very simple explanation: Constituent services. Perlmutter makes it easy for his constituents to find him and goes out of his way to provide assistance — which is exactly what you should expect from your elected official.

Rep. Ed Perlmutter holds a “Government in the Grocery” event in 2007.

Over the weekend, Perlmutter reached a milestone by holding his 100th “Government in the Grocery” event, in which he sets up a table at a grocery store in the district so that constituents can talk to their Congressman directly. From a press release:

Perlmutter started the Government in the Grocery program when he first took office in 2007 in order to better hear from constituents and meet them in their local community. The first Government in the Grocery was held on January 27, 2007 in Wheat Ridge. Perlmutter holds these events on a regular basis at different grocery stores in cities across the 7th Congressional District and meets with constituents one-on-one about whatever is on their mind.

“I believe being accessible and engaging often with constituents is essential to the fabric of our democracy,” said Perlmutter. “The Government in the Grocery program is an easy and convenient way for constituents to share their concerns, ideas and questions and, in turn, makes me a better representative.”

Congratulations, and kudos, to Congressman Perlmutter.

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Perlmutter Backs Hickenlooper for Senate

Congressman Ed Perlmutter (D-Jefferson County) made some big news today by declaring that former Gov. John Hickenlooper has his support for a potential 2020 U.S. Senate campaign:

Perlmutter’s support carries a great deal of weight amid a crowded field of Democratic candidates for a couple of reasons. First and foremost, Perlmutter is (not very) arguably the most well-known, and well-liked, member of Colorado’s Democratic congressional delegation. This kind of pre-emptive announcement of support is also not something you normally see from the seven-term Congressman, so Democratic activists and party leaders are going to take notice.

Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-Jefferson County)

And, of course, Perlmutter himself had long been considered to be a potential top candidate for U.S. Senate in 2020. We actually moved his name off of The Big Line on Friday as speculation mounted that Hick was likely to enter the race sometime soon; our logic: It is unlikely that Perlmutter would still consider the Senate race if Hickenlooper is indeed running (for the same reason, we also dropped Rep. Joe Neguse of Lafayette from The Big Line).

Perlmutter’s early endorsement is an unmistakable signal that Hickenlooper is both likely to enter the Senate race and likely to pick up support from notable other Democrats once he does. Hickenlooper announced last week that he was dropping his bid for the Democratic Presidential nomination, at the same time acknowledging that he was considering taking a run at the seat currently occupied by Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma). Gardner is widely considered to be among the top 1-2 most endangered incumbent Republican Senators on the ballot this cycle, which only increases the pressure for Democrats to find their best potential challenger in 2020.

As we wrote here on Friday, both polling and simple logic point to Hickenlooper as the best candidate for Democrats to defeat Gardner in 2020. Supporters of the Senate candidates already running argue that the Party would be fine with any number of those candidates. Maybe, but it’s tough to make a strong case that Hickenlooper is not the Democrat with the best chance of defeating Gardner. Perlmutter surely thought about that and came to the same conclusion.

Former Gov. John Hickenlooper (D)

This is a blog about politics. Fundamentally, success in politics requires that you win elections. As we’ve seen in the last four years, Senate Republicans aren’t going to do a damn thing about anything — they won’t even consider discussing any number of important pieces of legislation passed out of the House this year — so Democrats need to take majority control of the Senate for anything significant to happen on issues from health care and education to equal rights and gun safety. For Democrats to win the majority in 2020, they need their best candidates (say, Hickenlooper) running against the most endangered Republican incumbents (like Gardner) around the country.

It’s tough to argue against Hick’s likely frontrunner status should he enter the race for Senate. Lots of people can, and will, argue about how far left Hickenlooper sits in the Democratic Party. But what that discussion can’t change is this: Among Colorado voters, Hick has already shown — twice — that he can carry the top of a ticket in a statewide election. These are just factual truths.

Perlmutter’s endorsement of Hick today is both symbol and signal. Another signal that Hick is coming, and a symbol of the support that appears to be waiting for him. If Democrats around the country can find their Hickenloopers — the candidates with the best chance of winning, period — then they can re-take the Senate majority and maybe even turn that mess back into a functioning government.

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Impeachment: What You Want, What You Can Get, What Wins

President Donald Trump.

The Denver Post’s Justin Wingerter has a good write-up today on the views of Colorado Democrats on impeaching President Donald Trump following the release of a redacted version of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report–a report that is considerably worse for Trump after digestion than Attorney General William Barr led the nation to believe.

Despite this, most of the delegation agrees that the moment is not yet ripe to commence impeachment proceedings:

“The Mueller report details many instances in which President Trump actively attempted to interfere with the investigation into his campaign’s potentially treasonous ties with Russia,” said Rep. Diana DeGette, a Denver Democrat. “The president’s actions are clearly beneath the high personal, ethical and legal standards our founders envisioned in the executive branch, and, as such, constitute a prima facie case to trigger an impeachment investigation.”

…When asked if there is enough evidence in the redacted Mueller report to justify impeachment, Rep. Ed Perlmutter paused for seven seconds and sighed before answering. “My guess is, if we could see what’s been redacted, that there would be enough. [Pols emphasis] But I don’t know that because it’s been redacted,” he said, adding that there is “pretty damning” evidence Trump obstructed justice.

Perlmutter, a former critic of [House Speaker Nancy] Pelosi, largely agrees with her on the next steps for House Democrats: Further investigate alleged instances of wrongdoing by Trump and his campaign, such as a June 2016 meeting in Trump Tower, and only act on impeachment if new details come to light that warrant impeachment.

Politically, there are a number of competing factors in play. Democratic grassroots desire to strike a blow against the President via an impeachment proceeding is extremely strong, to the point of harshly condemning Democrats like Speaker Nancy Pelosi who have expressed caution about plunging headlong into impeachment.

At the same time, the threshold of wrongdoing that would be required to induce the GOP-controlled Senate to actually vote to convict the President is simply unknowable. We’re pretty sure it’s not as high as Trump thinks–if he shot someone in the middle of 5th Avenue, we’re inclined to think the Senate would vote to remove him from office. But the GOP’s collective tolerance for Trump’s malfeasance, particularly with regard to this issue, makes the chances of getting even 50 votes–let alone the supermajority needed to remove Trump from office–very unlikely.

If impeachment is unlikely to succeed, the next question for Democrats to resolve is whether proceeding with the attempt has political value ahead of the 2020 elections. There’s a good argument that a failed impeachment attempt will do more to shore up Trump’s base of support than erode it, much like Barr’s initial four-page spin of the Mueller report gave many Republicans the pretext they needed to ignore everything that came out afterward. And the closer we get to the 2020 election cycle, the more straightforward remedy of simply voting Trump out arguably makes impeachment talk a distraction.

For Democrats who are old enough to remember when Republicans impeached Bill Clinton for lying about a blow job, having the patience to forego returning the favor over Trump’s infinitely more serious offenses is a lot to ask.

But in the long run, much like Colorado Republicans wasting time and money on recalls instead of preparing for the next general election, keeping Democratic eyes on the 2020 prize could well be the smart play.

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Let’s Talk About the U.S. Senate Race!

Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) is among the most endangered Republican incumbents in the country. We know this because hardly a week goes by without some news outlet mentioning his vulnerability in 2020. While the 2020 election is still 607 days away (as of today), we’re less than a year out from the party caucuses in Colorado, which means the clock is ticking as potential candidates jockey for position in 2019.

Gardner officially kicked off his Senate re-election campaign last month with a high-dollar fundraiser in Washington D.C., but he has yet to announce any sort of campaign launch in Colorado. We’re still not convinced that Gardner will ultimately be on the ballot in November 2020; sharing a slate with Donald Trump is going to be rough for any Republican, particularly in a state like Colorado where Democrats ran roughshod over Republicans in 2018.

Gardner is not the kind of politician who joins a fight he isn’t confident about winning, and his polling numbers have been in the toilet for several years now. His increasingly-close embrace of Trump – Gardner was one of the first big Republican names to endorse Trump’s re-election — won’t help him in a state carried by Hillary Clintonin 2016. His strange waffling on Trump’s “emergency declaration” for border wall money suggests that he’s also worried about a potential Republican Primary.

But enough speculation about Gardner for now. He’s still the incumbent and he says he’s running for re-election, so let’s focus instead on the Democratic side of the aisle, where the likely 2020 nominee isn’t even a candidate yet…

 

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Ed Perlmutter Gets Hard Concessions For Pelosi Support

Colorado Public Radio’s Bente Birkeland reports on the deal struck yesterday between a group of dissident Democratic members of Congress and presumptive Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi–a deal that includes significant changes to the way Democratic House leadership works, most importantly through a term limit that will ultimately apply to Speaker Pelosi herself:

A person familiar with discussions said Democrats wanted to avoid entering the 116th Congressional session leaderless and divided. This agreement will likely quell that intra-party debate.

“An important conversation was started here and going forward I feel confident our leaders will work to share their knowledge, experience and skill with those who aspire to leadership for the sake of our caucus, our party and our country,” said Colorado Congressman Ed Perlmutter in a statement.

The District 7 representative was a key part in negotiating this deal. He now backs Pelosi for Speaker, as do six other members of Congress who were previously opposed to her election. He said he believes her support for term limits will help create a pipeline for a new group of Democratic leaders.

The Denver Post’s Anna Staver:

The deal gives Pelosi at least one and possibly two more terms — or four more years — as speaker. It also sets term limits on the other three top Democratic positions: majority leader, whip and assistant Democratic leader.

“I have pushed for new leadership because I want to see generational change in the Democratic Caucus,” Perlmutter said in a statement. “I am now convinced that generational change has started and will continue to accelerate.”

Putting an exit plan in place earned Pelosi the support of Perlmutter and many others in the small group of “rebel” representatives in the U.S. House who have been calling for her and other top Democrats to step aside.

It should be noted that the agreement to limit terms for Democratic House leadership was not popular among, well, everyone in Democratic leadership:

“She’s not negotiating for me,” [incoming House Majority Leader Steny] Hoyer said, adding that she has not kept him apprised of the ongoing negotiations. “I think there’s a lot of discussion about it. I don’t think it’s going to happen. I hope it doesn’t happen.”

“No … I have not supported term limits,” Hoyer said. “I am against term limits because I have a term limit. It’s a two-year term limit.”

Which only underscores the significance of the deal Perlmutter struck yesterday. The reality is that Pelosi had already done most of the work needed to consolidate support ahead of the formal House leadership election in January, and the remaining holdouts were hitting the limit of their negotiating power. But more than a face-saving kumbaya, this is an agreement that will guarantee the change of leadership Perlmutter wants in due course. Both sides can plausibly claim a win, and House Democrats can unite going into their new majority.

Not to mention that incoming Speaker Pelosi seems to be holding her own just fine.

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Report: BLM HQ Will Move West

As Erin Prater writes for the Colorado Springs Gazette:

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

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

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

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

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

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State Assemblies End; The Big Line Updates

With both the Democratic and Republican state assemblies/conventions now behind us, we’ve made a multitude of updates to The Big Line. If you’re looking for information on who made the ballot and who didn’t, you’ll find those updates in The Big Line. If you’re looking for a good restaurant in Colorado, you will not find that information in The Big Line. If you’re looking for an analysis of the 2018 races for Governor, Attorney General, State Treasurer, Secretary of State, and Congress…it’s in The Big Line.

You may now commence with your complaints…

(P.S.: The Big Line)

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Colorado Democratic Assembly Results

Colorado Democrats assembled at the 1st Bank Center in Broomfield from Friday, April 13, to Saturday, April 14, 2018. The crowd of almost 4,000 Democrats were enthusiastic, engaged, yet civil (in contrast to the stunning back-stabbing and skullduggery at the Republican assembly) . The CDP Assembly was superbly well-organized, with balloting completed in about a half hour, and counted in less than two hours.  Kudos to Chair Morgan Carroll and all of the CDP staff and volunteers.

All of the  congressional districts held their own assemblies; many candidates had primary challengers or Democratic challengers to Republican incumbents. In this “blue wave” year, no office held by the GOP can be considered to be off-limits. Democrats in Colorado put forward a slate of phenomenal candidates.

The official results from the Colorado Democratic Party (CDP) for statewide offices are:

CU Regent-at-Large
Lesley Smith: 3,229 votes (100.00%)

Based on these results, Lesley Smith has qualified for the Democratic primary ballot for CU Regent-at-Large.

Treasurer
Bernard Douthit: 1,074 votes (31.50%)
Charles Scheibe: 557 votes (16.34%)
Dave Young: 1,778 votes (52.16%)

Based on these results, Bernard Douthit and Dave Young have qualified for the Democratic primary ballot for Treasurer.

Secretary of State
Jena Griswold: 3,352 votes (98.44%)
Phillip Villard: 53 votes (1.56%)

Based on these results, Jena Griswold has qualified for the Democratic primary ballot for Secretary of State.

Attorney General
Amy Padden: 360 votes (10.54%)
Joe Salazar: 1,249 votes (36.58%)
Phil Weiser: 1,805 votes (52.87%)

Based on these results, Joe Salazar and Phil Weiser have qualified for the Democratic primary ballot for Attorney General. Amy Padden can qualify for the ballot if the Secretary of State determines that she has collected the requisite number of valid signatures.

Governor
Cary Kennedy: 2,101 votes (61.65%)
Jared Polis: 1,120 votes (32.86%)
Erik Underwood: 187 votes (5.49%)

Based on these results, Cary Kennedy and Jared Polis have qualified for the Democratic primary ballot for Governor.

NOTE: These are not all of the candidates that are running for these particular offices. Some candidates have chosen to qualify for the ballot by submitting petition signatures instead of going through the caucus-assembly process.

Here are the CD results in order: ( rounded to nearest 1%). I’ll update this list with numbers as I find them.

I’ve included my notes on the assemblies I attended and on the speakers I heard.

CD1: (Denver metro)Diana Degette – 61% . Her primary opponent, Saira Rao , got 37%, and  will be on the ballot. Rep. Degette has been a reliable Democratic vote for many years in a safe district – I think Rao’s candidacy will be a needed wake-up call to be more progressive and to offer better constituent services. Rao is sharp, a great speaker, and has energized the progressive base. Degette attended her CD1 assembly on April 13 , did not attend nor speak at the state assembly April 14.

CD2: (Boulder area – Jared Polis vacated the seat to run for Governor) Joe Negeuse – 91% Joe gave a helluva speech, as he always does. His personal story touches many people. Boulder will be well represented by him, as he’ll certainly win the primary, and almost certainly the general election. His primary opponent, Mark Williams, did not make the ballot.  The GOP has put up a couple of “Nicks” against Neguse: Nick Thomas and Nicholas Morse. I don’t know who won the GOP assembly vote, but they won’t beat “the Goose”.

CD3: (most of the western slope and SW CO – currently held by Scott Tipton) Diane Mitsch Bush had the highest delegate vote with 56%; Karl Harlon also cleared the 30% threshold with 41%, and will be on the ballot.

CD4: (Mostly NE CO – current incumbent Ken Buck) The Doctors were in the house! Veterinary doctors Karen McCormick and Chase Kohne each had throngs of energetic supporters on stage for their nominations. Each gave a rousing speech:

Kohne’s best line, in my opinion: “If you want to shoot an AR15, go down to the recruiting office and join the military.”

McCormick’s nominators are emphasizing Dr McCormick’s support for Dreamers and immigrants. Karen McCormick emphasized Cannabis, immigrant rights, healthcare, union support, bipartisan cooperation to get laws passed. Full disclosure: I live in CD4. I’m voting for McCormick, will be fine with Kohne as well.

CD5 (El Paso area, currently held by Doug Lamborn) Stephany Rose Spaulding won the delegate count and will be on the ballot. I don’t know about the other CD5 candidates, whom you can read about at the EPCO Young Dems site.  It’s great to see so many young Democrats running from what has6been the Tea Party GOP’s bastion in Colorado.

CD6 Aurora / Arapahoe County area, currently held by Mike Coffman. Jason Crow won top ballot with 64% , while Levi Tilleman will also be on the ballot with 35%. I saw Crow speak to the assembly, and found his persona to be authentic and appealing. PPP surveyed 761 voters, and found that Crow polled 44-39 against Coffman in Febrary 2018.

CD7 Ed Perlmutter, the Democratic incumbent, did not attend the Assembly as far as I know. Ed, a very popular Congressman in his district,  is not  being primaried in this election.

 

Author’s note – this diary started as an open thread based on my  live blogging at the Colorado State Assembly. I’ve updated it with ballot results.

 

 

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The Big Budget Deal, Guns, and Gardner

Trump sign bill, but Trump still mad!

After briefly threatening a veto — and randomly asking Congress to give him line item veto powers (and eliminating the filibuster) — President Trump today signed a massive $1.3 trillion spending deal that includes changes to background checks for gun purchases that Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) opposed to the very end. If that sentence seems complicated…well, it is. There’s no easy way to unpack the giant omnibus spending bill rammed through by Congress early this morning.

Let’s start things off with the Washington Post reporting from the White House:

Just hours after threatening a veto, President Trump said Friday afternoon that he had signed a “ridiculous” $1.3 trillion spending bill passed by Congress early Friday and averted a government shutdown…

…But speaking to reporters at the White House about four hours later, Trump said he had decided to sign the bill despite his reservations, arguing that it provides much-needed funding for the military, including a pay increase for troops and new equipment.

In his remarks to the media today, Trump was in full angry old man mode. From the New York Times:

In a rambling and disjointed 20-minute statement from the Diplomatic Reception Room, Mr. Trump denigrated the bill, which was rushed through the House and the Senate by members of his own Republican Party, as “crazy” and vowed to never “sign another bill like this again.”

“Nobody read it,” Mr. Trump said of the sweeping funding measure drawn up by Republican leaders in the House and the Senate. Echoing criticism from those who voted against the measure, Mr. Trump added, “It’s only hours old.”

Trump specifically addressed his anger about the 2,322-page spending bill that lawmakers could not have possibly even begun to have read before voting on the measure. The House version of the bill made it to the floor on Thursday after just 16 hours of debate; all four Colorado Republican members of Congress voted to end discussion, moving things along with a narrow 211-207 result. Colorado Reps. Mike Coffman (R-Aurora) and Ken Buck (R-Greeley) were ultimately able to vote “YES” and “NO” on the proposal (Coffman and Buck voted YES on the procedural move before pressing the “NO” button on the final vote).

Senator Cory Gardner (R-Yuma).

Over in the Senate, the spending bill passed with 62 votes; Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Denver) voted “YES” and Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) was a “NO.” Gardner’s vote is particularly interesting because the bill included the “Fix NICS” background check provision that Gardner had been blocking for weeks. The next time Gardner pretends to be concerned about gun violence, remember that he prevented the popular background fix measure from being debated in the Senate and ultimately voted against its final approval.

What else do we know about the giant omnibus spending bill? As CNN’s Gregory Krieg explains, it’s important to consider everything that was NOT bundled into the legislation, such as: 1) DACA and immigration reform, 2) Billions of dollars for Trump’s border wall, and 3) Serious attempts at preventing gun violence, including no new limits on gun purchases.

How did this all happen so quickly? As Sarah Binder writes for the Washington Post, this was Republican strategerie at work:

One of the reasons GOP leaders were keen to rush the bill to a vote is that they didn’t want their partisan base to notice that it both funds innumerable Democratic priorities and blocks the Trump administration from doing such things as expanding detention of immigrants, defunding sanctuary cities, and ending federal funding for the arts, to name a few. [Pols emphasis] The Trump White House and many conservatives wanted deep cuts to domestic programs. Party leaders ignored that. The more quickly the two chambers vote, the less time potential opponents have to unearth details that could outrage the GOP base, who might pressure their representatives to vote against the deal.

To summarize, Congressional Republicans rammed through a humongous spending bill that they didn’t read and didn’t really like that does very little to address their political vulnerabilities on gun violence and immigration reform…and will also likely anger their base of supporters.

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No More Faux-Hawk, but Still Very Weird

Mark Barrington has trimmed his “faux-hawk” for 2018 (“swing” image via Ernest Luning/Colorado Politics)

We were a little sad to read of the official return to the political stage of Republican Mark Barrington, but only because he seems to have foregone the “faux-hawk” that we came to love from previous campaigns.

Ernest Luning of the publication formerly known as the Colorado Statesman has the story of the latest Republican candidate who will not be defeating Democratic Rep. Ed Perlmutter in a General Election:

Barrington, a 39-year-old salesman, says he looks forward to campaigning door-to-door on a Hoverboard and plans to hold a campaign kick-off event at a trampoline park in the heart of the suburban district. Count on balloon rides for children and popsicles encasing campaign messages on popsicle sticks…

…It’ll be Barrington’s fourth run for office. He tried to win a seat on Lakewood’s city council in 2005, when he was a recent graduate of the city’s Colorado Christian University, and again in 2011. In between, Barrington, who lives with his wife and their two young sons in Lakewood’s Green Mountain neighborhood, mounted a 2010 challenge against then-state Rep. Andy Kerr, D-Lakewood. (Kerr, now a term-limited state senator, was one of four Democrats running for the congressional seat who stepped aside when Perlmutter announced he wanted a seventh term.)

Barrington is not without campaign experience, but can he pose a serious challenge for Perlmutter in 2018? This paragraph from Luning’s story speaks for itself:

The National Republican Congressional Committee put the seat on a target list a year ago — when Perlmutter was considered a likely candidate for governor — and a spokesman said last fall the group still believed it was up for grabs after the incumbent got back in. The spokesman didn’t respond this week to a message seeking comment about Barrington’s candidacy. [Pols emphasis]

We have officially added Barrington to “The Big Line” with a generous 2% chance of winning in November. We look forward to pictures of Barrington going door-to-door on his Hoverboard.

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No Nibiru, just rural Democrats causing trouble.

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Get More Smarter on Tuesday (August 22)

If you didn’t blind yourself by staring at the eclipse on Monday, enjoy these words. It’s time to Get More Smarter. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of a visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show.

 

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

The dust is settling in Jefferson County following Monday’s news — first reported by Colorado Pols — that Rep. Ed Perlmutter has decided to seek re-election in 2018 after initially saying he would not be a candidate for any office next year. Democratic candidates Andy KerrBrittany Pettersen, and Dominick Moreno have all publicly announced that they are ending their campaigns in CD-7 and endorsing Perlmutter for re-election.

 

► President Trump will be in Phoenix, Arizona tonight for a campaign-style rally that has Republicans nervous for a whole host of reasons. As A.J. Vicens (formerly of the Columbine Courier) writes for Mother Jones, there’s a lot of buzz that Trump might use the occasion of his speech in Phoenix to pardon Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio:

Arpaio was recently convicted of contempt of court for disregarding a judge’s order to stop his discriminatory anti-immigration patrols, and he now faces up to six months in jail, with sentencing scheduled for October.

The president told Fox News on August 14 that he was “seriously considering” pardoning Arpaio…

…The White House didn’t respond to a question about whether Trump was planning to issue the pardon, and Arpaio said he hasn’t heard about an impending pardon but would be “honored by the potential pardon” and would accept it, according to the New York Times. Arpaio told Politico that he’d be available for the Tuesday night rally if called upon.

Republicans are also concerned that Trump may be planning to use his Phoenix trip to continue his aggressive attacks on Republican Sen. Jeff Flake, who is up for re-election in 2018. As Politico reports:

President Donald Trump faces a decision on Tuesday evening with profound implications for his already strained relationship with the GOP: whether to attack a vulnerable Republican senator on his home turf.

White House officials won’t say exactly what’s on Trump’s agenda when he holds a campaign-style rally here. But it’s widely expected he will go after GOP Sen. Jeff Flake, a loud critic of the president who recently published an anti-Trump manifesto, “Conscience of a Conservative.”…

…In the days leading up to Trump’s Arizona trip, Senate GOP leaders have implicitly warned Trump that attacking Flake, who faces a treacherous path to reelection, would only serve to further rupture his relationship with a congressional GOP wing that he’s grown increasingly isolated from in recent weeks. It came after Trump, in a tweet after the Phoenix event was announced, called Flake “toxic.” The president had earlier threatened to spend as much as $10 million to take out the incumbent Republican.

Flake has received full public support from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and National Republican Senatorial Committee Chair Cory Gardner. It’s hard to say if this is good news for Flake, since McConnell is sporting some amazingly-low approval ratings (with Gardner not far away).

 

► Governor John Hickenlooper announced plans for a state response to dealing with oil and gas companies following a home explosion in Firestone in late April. Cathy Proctor of the Denver Business Journal has the details on Hick’s 7-point plan.

 

Get even more smarter after the jump…

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Field Clears For Smooth Perlmutter Re-Entry*

Perlmutter for Congress yard signs.

The Denver Post’s Jesse Paul reporting, a wild few weeks of uncertainty in Colorado Democratic politics is rapidly winding down as primary candidates for the congressional seat of incumbent Rep. Ed Perlmutter suspend following his decision to run for re-election again:

State Sen. Andy Kerr on Tuesday morning became the third Democrat to leave the 7th Congressional District race after U.S. Rep. Ed Perlmutter’s announcement Monday that he will run for re-election to Congress after all…

“There’s good reason to be excited about Ed’s decision to run for Congress again,” Kerr said. “He’s a true-blue Coloradan that has spent more than a decade in Washington, D.C., fighting for our values and making sure that we have a strong advocate for Jefferson and Adams counties.”

Sen. Andy Kerr’s statement this morning was preceded yesterday by his principal rival in the race Rep. Brittany Pettersen, whose statement was no less gracious:

“While I’m disappointed I will not have the opportunity to serve our community in Congress, I know that the people of the 7th (Congressional) District will continue to be well represented by Ed Perlmutter,” she said in a written statement. “I am so proud and humbled by the support of the people across Colorado who believed in me and stepped up to contribute, volunteer and support my campaign.”

Sen. Dominick Moreno was first to pull out after yesterday’s announcement, first reported by Colorado Pols, saying “we continue to be in good hands with Congressman Perlmutter.” The only other candidate still nominally remaining the Democratic CD-7 race is Dan Baer, a former Obama administration diplomat who parachuted into the race early in August:

A spokeswoman for Baer, who said he raised more than $300,000 in the two weeks after he announced his campaign Aug. 1, said Monday that he was traveling and “given the number of twists and turns in this race so far, we don’t have any immediate response.”

Whatever, Baer. The fact is, it doesn’t matter what this locally unknown come-lately candidate says at this point. For all intents and purposes the 2018 CD-7 Democratic primary is over, and Baer will just humiliate himself if he ignores that reality.

It’s true that this has been a bizarre turnabout, over the course of months, as Ed Perlmutter entered the gubernatorial race then decided against it as the brutality of today’s politics evidenced by the shooting of GOP Congressman Steve Scalise–and the prospect of a hard-fought primary against Rep. Jared Polis–led him to reconsider. But after a period of introspection, it became clear that Perlmutter’s seniority in Congress and long record of effective leadership in this district are powerful assets that serve his constituents and the state well.

So yes, he gets to do this. As we’ve said before, it’s possible that there is no one in Colorado politics today who has the political capital to pull this kind of episode off without loss of standing besides Ed Perlmutter. His decision to run again, as painful as it is to his would-be successors through no fault of their own, is therefore one that everybody on the Democratic side of the aisle is compelled to accept.

The other candidates will all get their chances, in no small part based on their graciousness today.

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BREAKING: Perlmutter Will Run for Re-Election in CD-7

UPDATE #3: Democrats Brittany Pettersen and Dominick Moreno have both “suspended” their campaigns and endorsed Perlmutter for re-election.

—–

UPDATE #2: The Colorado Springs Gazette has more response from the four Democratic candidates who had already filed to run in CD-7:

The Colorado Pols website first reported Monday morning that Perlmutter would officially seek re-election, and The Denver Post first reported Perlmutter’s statement on his decision.

Colorado Politics was the first to report Perlmutter was reconsidering his earlier decision and would likely run for his seat in Congress again, and that other candidates were reconsidering, as a result…

…Moreno announced Monday morning he is dropping out of the Democratic primary and will instead back Perlmutter.

“We continue to be in great hands with Congressman Perlmutter,” Moreno said in a statement. “Thank you to the many people who supported me along this journey. My time serving our community does not end with our campaign suspending, and I remain committed to standing up for our values in the state Senate.”

Kerr said through a spokeswoman Monday he will be discussing the development with friends, family and supporters before making a decision “in the next day or two.”

Campaigns for Pettersen and Baer also responded with comments from spokespeople. It is unlikely that any of the four Democrats will ultimately remain in the race now that Perlmutter is back.

—–

Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-Jefferson County).

UPDATE: Here’s Perlmutter’s official statement on his decision:

“Over the last few weeks a lot has happened, both for me and in the world. I’ve taken some time to regroup and recharge, and in so doing I’ve had many meaningful conversations with friends, neighbors, supporters and family who have encouraged me to run again. I have appreciated each and every conversation. It has made me take time to reflect on the future. And I’ve come to the conclusion to run again for re-election. To ask the hardworking people of the 7th district to once again put their trust in me to be their voice in Washington. I care deeply for our state and I love my home which is here in the 7th district.

“I’ve talked to Andy, Brittany, Dominick and corresponded with Dan about my decision. They are all wonderful people and I know for them and some others my decision is not convenient or well timed, for which I’m sorry. But I know I have more to do and more to give to the people of the 7th district. I understand this is not an ideal situation – I really do – but I know we can all work together to fight for our Colorado way of life.”

—–

Congressman Ed Perlmutter (D-Jefferson County) has decided to run for re-election in CD-7 and has informed other Democratic candidates in the district of his decision. Colorado Pols was first to report the news Monday morning.

Perlmutter’s decision to seek a seventh term marks a whirlwind few months for the longtime Jeffco Democrat. Perlmutter was a candidate for governor for a few months before a surprise announcement in July that he would no longer be a candidate for any office in 2018. In recent weeks, however, word began to leak that Perlmutter was reconsidering that decision and being encouraged by supporters to run for re-election in a district he has never failed to win by a margin of at least 10 points.

Perlmutter’s decision likely ends the Congressional candidacies of four Democrats who had been running to succeed him. For reasons related to campaign finance laws, candidates currently in the race may not officially “close” their campaign committees until a later date.

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Don’t Blink, Colorado Dems!

Peter Marcus, outgoing reporter for the Colorado Springs Gazette mashes the “scramble” button on Democratic politics in Colorado in a big way–with news that Rep. Ed Perlmutter may run again for his CD-7 seat after pulling out of the gubernatorial race and giving every indication that he would retire:

Multiple sources confirmed that after Perlmutter was approached by constituents and fellow colleagues in Congress about a re-election campaign, he began reconsidering running for re-election. Sources could not speak on the record, as they were not at liberty to discuss the details of Perlmutter’s thoughts.

A re-election campaign would come after Perlmutter, a Democrat from Arvada who represents the 7th Congressional District in Jefferson and Adams counties, declared that he would not pursue the seat again.

Several Democrats have been running to replace Perlmutter in a tightly contested primary, including state Sens. Andy Kerr of Lakewood and Dominick Moreno of Commerce City, and state Rep. Brittany Pettersen, also of Lakewood. Also running in the race is former Obama-era U.S. ambassador Dan Baer.

A re-election bid by the popular Perlmutter could cripple those campaigns.

There’s nothing we can add to this report without more information, but we’ll update as soon as we know more. The fact is that Perlmutter is the incumbent representative for this district, and candidates stepping back into their old race after changing their mind on a bid for higher office is not without precedent (see: Marco Rubio). With that said, we have to believe anyone less beloved than Ed Perlmutter would be facing severe blowback over this most uncharacteristic bout of indecision–leaving fellow Democrats who have planned their own career moves around his choices for months in the lurch.

But it is Ed Perlmutter. This is Ed Perlmutter’s seat. And we do expect everyone involved will defer to him.

Whatever happens here needs to happen quickly, so that everyone can move on with their lives.

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Q2 Fundraising Lessons: The Wealthy Shall Inherit the Office

Republican gubernatorial candidate Victor Mitchell

The numbers are in for the first big fundraising quarter of the 2018 election cycle, and like any important fundraising period, the results have provided both answers and questions for many campaigns.

As we’ve said many times in this space, fundraising numbers are often a good barometer of the relative strength or weakness of a campaign – particularly at this stage in the cycle. Fundraising reports are less informative the closer we get to Election Day because it is more difficult to account for independent expenditures, PACs, and other outside spending. But when you are a year out from the Primary and 18 months from the General Election, these numbers can be a terrific guide into how a race is starting to take shape.

Fundraising is about money, of course, but it is a mistake to write off fundraising reports as just a singular piece of financial information. Fundraising reports tells us how much money was raised, but also where it came from and how it was spent. Big donations from out-of-state interests tell a different story than hundreds of small-dollar donations within the boundaries of a given district.

Most importantly, fundraising reports tell us a lot about the perception and support for a particular campaign. Think of it like sports betting; people make all sorts of bets on a given sporting event, but by and large, the big money goes with the outcome that is perceived to be the most likely. Everyone wants to back a winner – it’s human instinct. Of course, there are always exceptions to this rule – including some that we will point out in a moment – but in general you can learn a lot from early money in politics.

We’ve been sifting through fundraising reports for the biggest races in Colorado, and in a series of posts that follow, we’ll tell you what we’ve learned …     

 

If You’ve Got the Money, Honey, You’ve Got More Time

Wealthy candidates are not a new phenomenon in Colorado, but we’re seeing the beginning of a potentially-troubling trend in the early fundraising reports from Q2: Candidates with deep pockets aren’t even trying to raise money.

Former one-term Republican lawmaker Victor Mitchell has earned a lot of money from various business ventures over the years, and he’s apparently planning on spending a good chunk of those earnings in his bid for Governor. Mitchell seeded his gubernatorial campaign with a $3 million check in February, but raised just $13,098 in the period ending on June 30. Likewise, Democrat Jared Polis is putting a lot of his own fortune into his bid for Governor and is only accepting contributions of $100 or less. Other candidates, such as Mitt Romney’s Nephew (aka, Republican Doug Robinson), have said that they plan to rely on hefty sums from their personal fortunes in the months to come. This is a tremendous financial advantage for candidates who can afford it, but it’s more than that; if you don’t have to spend 30+ hours on the phone each week trying to raise money, that’s more time that you can be out meeting voters and gathering broader support.

This disadvantage is one of the reasons that Democrat Ed Perlmutter – at the time, the prohibitive favorite — withdrew from the gubernatorial race earlier this month. It also makes things much more difficult for candidates who also have a day job to worry about; Republican George Brauchler had an awful Q2 , and he’s going to have trouble just keeping his campaign afloat while he maintains his position as District Attorney in Arapahoe County.

Candidates for Governor in Colorado can only accept maximum contributions of $1,150 from any one individual – technically, $575 for the Primary and $575 for the General Election – which makes it that much more difficult for non-wealthy candidates to catch up to their cash-flush opponents. Even if every person on your call list agrees to donate the maximum amount, it still takes hours upon hours of phone time to collect.

There used to be more of a stigma associated with wealthy candidates who sought to bankroll campaigns for higher office, which compelled them to spend more time and energy raising money. For whatever reason, that stigma seems to be fading. 

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Perlmutter Bows Out of 2018 Election

Congressman Ed Perlmutter (D-Jefferson County) announced this morning that he would not seek elected office in 2018, essentially signaling his retirement from public office after decades of service in the state legislature and Congress. Perlmutter had long been considered the frontrunner in the 2018 race for governor, but he admitted on Tuesday that the long grind of politics had finally taken its toll.

“I thought I could do it all,” said Perlmutter at a press conference at his Golden campaign office. “I’m telling all of you, I can’t.”

Perlmutter’s decision to exit the gubernatorial race was influenced in some degree by Rep. Jared Polis’ decision to join the field, but his announcement was more of a candid assessment that running for public office just wasn’t something he wanted to do anymore.

Perlmutter served in the state Senate from 1995-2003. He was first elected to Congress in CD-7 in 2006 and handily won re-election every two years (Perlmutter never failed to win by more than double-digits in any election year).

This decision creates a significant opening in the race for governor that will likely be filled by Polis. Perlmutter said on Tuesday that he did not plan to endorse any candidate for governor nor a successor in CD-7.

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BREAKING: Ed Perlmutter Will Exit Gubernatorial Race

UPDATE #2: State Sen. Andy Kerr, a candidate to replace Perlmutter in Congress:

Ed Perlmutter has been a friend, a mentor, and a hardworking public servant for the people of Adams and Jefferson Counties. I wish him nothing but the best in whatever path he chooses next.

—–

Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-Jefferson County).

UPDATE: Peter Marcus at the Colorado Springs Gazette confirms, Ed Perlmutter will not run again in CD-7:

Sources close to Perlmutter’s campaign, as well as sources from the campaigns of the three Democrats looking to replace him in Congress, confirmed to Colorado Politics that Perlmutter will announce on Tuesday that he is dropping out of the race.

Those sources also confirmed that Perlmutter will not run for re-election in 2018, which leaves the seat open for a spirited Democratic primary.

State Sen. Andy Kerr of Lakewood, Rep. Brittany Pettersen of Lakewood, and Sen. Dominick Moreno of Commerce City, are all in a battle to take over Perlmutter’s seat.

—–

As quickly as it began, breaking news from the Denver Post’s Mark Matthews rocks the 2018 Colorado elections:

U.S. Rep. Ed Perlmutter plans to announce Tuesday that he will end his run for Colorado governor, just three months after the Arvada Democrat started it, according to two sources close to the campaign.

The surprise decision by the sixth-term lawmaker comes a few weeks after another Colorado Democrat, U.S. Rep. Jared Polis of Boulder, said he would join the race.

There’s a lot we’re awaiting now: whether Rep. Ed Perlmutter will retain his CD-7 seat or retire from Congress, the exact reason for this momentous decision, and how this move will affect other candidates in the 2018 gubernatorial primary. We’ll update as soon as we know more.

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Get More Smarter on Wednesday (June 28)

Few things have become as strange as the daily White House press briefing.  It’s time to Get More Smarter. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of a visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show.

 

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► Republicans are scrambling to figure out their next steps after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell abruptly announced on Tuesday that the Senate healthcare bill (“The Better Care Reconciliation Act”) would not be rushed to a vote before Congress takes its July 4th holiday recess at the end of the week.

As the Washington Post explains, Republicans are having trouble finding a reason to push forward with a terrible healthcare bill:

Amid a revolt against the Senate health-care bill, supporters have seized upon something of a last-ditch argument: Whatever you think of this bill, they say, you owe it to your voters. Republicans have been promising for years to repeal and replace Obamacare, the argument goes, and not passing this bill will mean they will have broken their promise.

There is one big problem with that strategy: The GOP base doesn’t seem to see it that way.

Not only aren’t Republican voters particularly keen on this bill, but polls suggest they wouldn’t even blame their Republican members of Congress for failing to close the deal.

A new poll (Marist/NPR) shows that 55% of Americans disapprove of the Senate healthcare plan, with only 17% in favor of the bill. The polling trend lines have shown consistent downward movement.

As Politico reports, the Senate healthcare bill is not dead…yet…while the editorial board of the New York Times says the GOP’s “healthcare hoax” has been exposed.

 

► Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper has been in Washington D.C. alongside a bipartisan group of Governors in opposition to the Senate healthcare bill. Hickenlooper and Ohio Gov. John Kasich, a Republican, held a news conference on Tuesday that was highly critical of GOP healthcare efforts that would include devastating cuts to Medicaid. Hickenlooper specifically called out Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) in his remarks.

Senator Michael Bennet (D-Denver) is pushing back against Republican claims that Democrats are refusing to work with the GOP on healthcare legislation. Bennet took to the Senate floor on Tuesday to hammer this point home.

 

► A group of protestors with disabilities have been camping out at the Denver office of Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) since late Tuesday in an effort to persuade Gardner to oppose the Republican Senate healthcare bill. Gardner has been bullish on the Senate bill despite Monday’s awful score from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), which estimated the legislation would cut health coverage for at least 22 million Americans.

 

Get even more smarter after the jump…

(more…)

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Republican Field for Governor Grows Vaguely Larger

Doug Robinson, the whitest man in Colorado.

Republicans have a new candidate for Governor in 2018: This guy!

“This guy” is Doug Robinson, a nephew of former Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney.

Aside from the fact that one of Robinson’s parents is a sibling of Romney — and that Robinson was a co-chair of Romney’s finance committee in Colorado — we can’t tell you much about the guy. John Frank of the Denver Post has a short story on Robinson’s candidacy that doesn’t say much of anything — the initial version of Frank’s story said that Robinson’s campaign declined to respond to repeated requests for comment, which is a strange way to roll out a statewide campaign — but does include some of the text from Robinson’s announcement letter sent to Colorado Republicans:

The Denver investment banker declared his candidacy for the 2018 race in a letter sent to Republican activists and launched online advertisements directed to a new campaign website [Pols emphasis]. His campaign launch is scheduled for Friday…

…His letter touts himself as a “committed Republican my entire life.” And he highlights his business background, noting that he founded his own company and then worked in technology investment banking for KPMG. “My background is in business — not politics,” he said.

A businessman, not a politician. How inventive.

If you are wondering why Robinson made such a cryptic announcement today, touting a website that says absolutely nothing, the bolded line in the Denver Post story above may provide a clue. Robinson’s campaign appears to have launched online advertisements before bothering to register as an official campaign committee, which is not exactly legal; someone may have panicked and realized that Robinson needed to make his campaign official before he started spending money on said campaign.

The only other thing we remember about Robinson is from a Mitt Romney appearance in Colorado during the 2012 election. Halfway through the clip below, Robinson says something off-camera and then gets a shout-out from Romney:

So, anyway, the GOP race for governor is getting crowded. Maybe it’s time to gas up the 2016 Republican Senate clown car for another tour through Colorado.

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How Not to Remember a Tragic Event

Think before you Tweet, George

You’re probably aware that yesterday was April 20, a day that has become something of a quirky holiday around the world because of the popularity of marijuana (click here for more about how 4/20 became associated with marijuana use).

For many Colorado residents, however, April 20 is a somber reminder of a different sort: The anniversary of the Columbine High School Shooting in 1999. It has been 18 years since the Columbine tragedy, in which 13 students and a teacher were killed by two fellow students (we won’t repeat the names of the killers here), the aftermath of which played out on live television across the globe.

It is not unusual, nor improper, for political figures to recognize the anniversary of the Columbine shootings. But it is possible to mark the tragedy in an inappropriate manner, which is exactly what George Brauchler’s campaign for governor did on Thursday. Take a look at this oddly-branded “remembrance”:

Why on earth would you put your campaign logo onto a “Never Forget” image like this? Never Forget: Brought to you by George Brauchler for Governor! The best thing you can say about this image is that it is incredibly tacky, which is not a good look for anybody, let alone a candidate for statewide office.

This isn’t a huge issue by any means, but it’s worth pointing out that there is a right way and a wrong way to do this sort of thing. This Tweet from Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-Jefferson County) — who is also a candidate for governor — is simple, straightforward, and completely devoid of campaign imagery. It’s not rocket surgery.

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Andy Kerr First to Make Big Launch for CD-7

State Sen. Andy Kerr (D-Lakewood)

As Peter Marcus writes for the Colorado Springs Gazette, state Senator Andy Kerr (D-Lakewood) kicks off today what could be a long and complicated race to succeed Rep. Ed Perlmutter in CD-7:

In a launch video, Kerr said he plans to “take leadership to Washington, the Colorado way.”

“Colorado has taught me what it means to be a leader,” Kerr said in the more than three-minute video. “I’ve learned that good leaders are known for what they do, not for what they say. That’s leadership, the Colorado way.”

The video features images of scenic Colorado views, Kerr with his family, teaching a group of students in a classroom, holding a town hall in a brewery, snowboarding, and, of course, Kerr riding his bike, something that has become a staple of his image…

…Kerr will hold a formal campaign kickoff Wednesday at 3:30 p.m. at  Dunstan Middle School in Lakewood. He also on Wednesday launched his official campaign website.

Also announced in the Democratic race is state Rep. Brittany Pettersen, also from Lakewood. Pettersen, like Kerr, made her intentions known shortly after Perlmutter announced his run for governor.

Kerr is a middle school teacher in Jefferson County who has also served in the state legislature since 2006, both of which make him the early leader in this race. We are still waiting to hear more about which Republican candidates will take a look at this open seat in 2018, but it is expected to get crowded.

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The State of the Race (for the State)

The 2018 race for Governor in Colorado is adding candidates at a rapid pace, with Democrats Ed Perlmutter and Cary Kennedy joining the field just this week. We’re keeping track of all of the big political races in Colorado through The Big Line, but with so much activity surrounding the open race at the top of the ticket in ’18, we thought it would be worthwhile to break down The State of the Race (for the State) on its own:

 

Looking Good

Ed Perlmutter

Congressman Ed Perlmutter (D-Jefferson County) officially joined the race for Governor with a big kickoff in Golden on Sunday. Perlmutter is the clear frontrunner here for a number of reasons:

1. Perlmutter begins the race with a strong base of support in Jefferson County, which is traditionally one of the most important swing counties in Colorado. Thanks in part to his decade of service in Congress, he is also well known in voter-rich areas like Adams and Arapahoe counties.

2. Perlmutter is both a proven fundraiser and an accomplished retail politician; there aren’t a lot of politicians in Colorado who can do both things well.

3. All he does is win. Perlmutter has been elected six times in Congressional District 7 – never by less than double digits.

Also on the upswing is former state Sen. Mike Johnston, who raked in more than $600,000 in his first fundraising period. Johnston’s next trick is to prove that he can find more than just some fat low-hanging fruit to collect. If he can churn out another strong fundraising quarter – with Perlmutter and Kennedy now in the race – Johnston could start to generate some serious momentum with less than a year to go until the Democratic Primary.

 

Looking Shaky

George Brauchler

Former State Treasurer Cary Kennedy has been talking about making a bid for Governor for years, so it was a bit odd that she suddenly decided to join the race one day after Perlmutter’s big rollout. Kennedy made her campaign announcement in an awkward Facebook Live video that featured the candidate driving through a wealthy neighborhood before stopping outside her Denver home. The entire performance was stilted and overly-scripted, and while Kennedy got some decent press for her campaign, she won’t generate any momentum from her Facebook Faceplant.

Arapahoe County District Attorney George Brauchler finally became a statewide candidate after years of threatening to run for higher office. Brauchler got some big help from the Denver Post in his “virtual announcement” for Governor, and he’s been burning up the right-wing talk radio circuit ever since. His platform for Governor is a bit of a head-scratcher, however. Brauchler has thus far focused his chatter on a pledge to execute convicted killer Nathan Dunlap and a promise to make dramatic cuts to Medicaid in Colorado – neither of which seem like good issues to attract new voters. Brauchler is also already waffling on plans for making it through a Republican Primary; after initially saying he would go through the convention/caucus process, Brauchler made it clear in a recent radio interview that he has not ruled out trying to petition his way onto the ballot. If you like your candidates indecisive, Brauchler is your guy.

 

 

Still Just Looking

Walker Stapleton

Current State Treasurer Walker Stapleton has been angling toward the 2018 Gubernatorial race since he was first elected in 2010. So where is he? Stapleton may not formally announce his campaign for Governor until this summer, which is a long time to cede the spotlight to the rest of the candidates already running full-steam ahead. Stapleton is not a big-enough name or personality to just wait out the race on his own timeline, and the flurry of early activity in the Governor’s race may force him to adjust his planned schedule. Stapleton is also the Republican candidate with the deepest potential donor base (he is a cousin of former President George W. Bush, after all); if he’s confident that the money will wait for him, maybe a late start won’t be a major hurdle.

Also still eying the race on the Republican side is DaVita CEO Kent Thiry, though it still looks like the chatter is more rumor than reality. Both Noel Ginsburg (D) and Victor Mitchell (R) have already laid claim to the “businessman candidate” angle for 2018.

 

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Challengers Line Up For Perlmutter’s CD-7 Seat

Sen. Andy Kerr, Rep. Brittany Pettersen.

As the Colorado Springs Gazette’s Peter Marcus reports, the announcement that Rep. Ed Perlmutter will run for governor of Colorado in 2018 is sparking movement upward by Jefferson County Democrats who have been eager for a chance to move up–with two strong candidates announcing or about to announce runs for Perlmutter’s open seat:

Lakewood Democrats Brittany Pettersen, a state representative, and Andy Kerr, a state senator, quickly announced their intentions to run in the 7th Congressional District, with the hopes of keeping the seat in Democratic control.

“Too many families in Colorado are facing tough times and we need leaders who understand those challenges,” Pettersen said in a statement. “When it comes to good schools for Colorado kids, access to health care for everyone and protecting seniors from cuts to Social Security, I’ll stand up to Donald Trump and fight for regular people.”

“Ed has a been a friend, a mentor, and a role model for public service,” Kerr added. “And yes, I will be entering the race for his congressional seat, with a formal announcement soon.”

Rep. Brittany Pettersen and Sen. Andy Kerr are well-positioned to run for Perlmutter’s congressional seat, with legislative constituencies in the heart of suburban Jeffco that give them both a leg up on name identification. It’s possible that other candidates may consider a bid for the Democratic CD-7 nomination–including Rep. Tracy Kraft-Tharp of Westminster, whose swing district offers similar benefits in this race for name recognition, as well as Sen. Dominick Moreno of Commerce City.

Perlmutter has proven a master at campaigning in CD-7 since winning a hotly-contested three way primary for the seat in 2006, consistently outperforming other Democratic candidates overlapping his district and making Republican attempts to recapture the seat look like a fool’s errand. On paper the district is more competitive than Perlmutter’s easy wins suggest, so it will be interesting to see who can win the right to fill his shoes–and whether they can hold the seat by the margins Perlmutter has always enjoyed.

Depending on what happens in the gubernatorial race, this could be 2018’s hottest Democratic primary. We’ll be watching it closely.

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The Denver Post Should Be Embarrassed

The front page of today’s Denver Post

Democrat Ed Perlmutter launched his campaign for governor on Sunday in front of a large crowd in Golden. This was a big deal, regardless of your political affiliations, because Perlmutter is the obvious frontrunner in the race for Colorado’s top job in 2018. Perlmutter’s announcement also opens up his Congressional seat in CD-7 for what is likely to be a crowded affair for both Democrats and Republicans. In other words, there’s a lot going on here.

Yet, somehow, the front page of the Denver Post today is all about…buttons. Most of today’s front page is dedicated to a story about the 49th annual Colorado State Button Society show and sale that apparently took place in Denver over the weekend.

[We’ll pause here while your adrenaline rush dissipates]

Five other stories are headlined on the front page today — but none of them mention anything about the 2018 race for governor. Not. A. Peep.

Front page of the Denver Post from April 5, 2017

This is particularly odd when you consider that the front page of the Post from last Wednesday featured a breathless account of news that Arapahoe County District Attorney George Brauchler would seek the Republican nomination for governor in 2018. Brauchler didn’t even hold a big event to kick off his campaign — and he’s not even the clear frontrunner in his own party — yet the Post fell all over itself to blare the news across its front page.

Look, the Denver Post can do whatever it wants with its front page. But if the idea of this newspaper is to practice actual, you know, journalism, then virtually ignoring Perlmutter’s gubernatorial announcement is farcical at best. This is a joke, and if you work for the Post, you have every right to feel ashamed today.

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