Masks Are Back, And Lauren Boebert Is Raging

Rep. Lauren “Q*Bert” Boebert shows the world what tyranny looks like.

As the Denver Post’s Megan Wingerter reports, hope you didn’t throw all of yours away:

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended Tuesday that vaccinated people wear masks in indoor public places in counties with “high” or “substantial” spread of COVID-19 — which includes the majority of Colorado.

New coronavirus infections have increased in Colorado in recent weeks, and hospitalizations are trending up, though significantly more slowly than they did during the state’s four previous waves of cases.

The CDC defines substantial transmission as 50 or more COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people over the last week. About 60% of U.S. counties are above that threshold, officials said.

As of this writing, Gov. Jared Polis of Colorado is not planning on reinstating the state’s mask mandate. At least for now, increasing case rates in Colorado are not putting as much strain on hospitals–a sign that vulnerable populations are better protected today than in previous COVID-19 infection waves. In Congress, however, it’s a different story after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi re-imposed a mask requirement on the chamber effective today.

Take a guess how that’s going:

In response to the mask mandate returning to the House, in addition to childishly taking her frustrations with Pelosi’s mask mandate out on a staffer, Rep. Lauren “Q*Bert” Boebert launched into a Twitter tirade this morning about the “anti-science, totalitarian mask mandate” and went full-on conspiratorial on the so-called “Perma-demic’s” non-medical motives:

Permanent masking. Permanent state of emergency. Permanent control. This will go on until the American people just say enough is enough. The tyrants aren’t giving this up!

So folks, we don’t like wearing masks. We don’t know anyone who does. We don’t want or expect to live in a world of “permanent masking.” As for the emergency caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, at least here in the U.S. this has become a crisis almost entirely affecting the unvaccinated population. Boebert has been openly discouraging her supporters from accepting the “experimental vaccine” from the very beginning, even as Mesa County in her district became the state’s epicenter for continuing spread of the virus.

In short, Boebert is doing everything she can to make this emergency permanent. By encouraging her supporters to go unvaccinated and resist mask wearing–the two most effective steps we can take to reduce the spread of COVID-19–Boebert is helping make her own dark prophecy come true. Except for the nefarious motives, of course, though fortunately for Boebert she never has to prove that part.

If the goal is really to end the pandemic, Boebert is her own worst enemy.  She either doesn’t know that or doesn’t care. Either way, Boebert represents the worst-case scenario for leadership at a moment when leadership is desperately needed.

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.

Hurting The Unemployed: How About No?

Gov. Jared Polis (D).

CBS4 Denver reports on yet another request this week by business interests asking Gov. Jared Polis to cut off the expanded unemployment benefits being paid to workers by the federal government through the first week of September prematurely, in hopes that doing so will “motivate” those workers to return to their pre-pandemic stations:

A group of more than 100 business owners in northern Colorado sent a letter to Gov. Polis, saying the extra weekly payments are disincentivizing people to go back to work, and causing a shortage of workers.

The expanded unemployment benefits that have been flowing to workers for over a year now, already cut in half from the original $600 per week, are set to end in about six weeks. As we’ve explained each time Republicans and business lobbyists have called for the money to be cut off over the last few months, there’s scant evidence that expanded unemployment benefits are slowing workers return to the workforce. This is especially true in Colorado where the minimum wage is well above the federal $7.25 an hour, and is off-base in all cases since workers in every state are required to look for new jobs while they receive unemployment benefits.

In his response to this latest request, Gov. Polis makes the argument even simpler: he would be a fool to cut off hundreds of millions of dollars flowing into Colorado’s economy.

“I wish that we could use the money for something else, but this is $600 to $800 million that the federal government is pumping into Colorado,” Gov. Polis said.

Polis said the weekly payments are temporary and helping businesses in Colorado.

“This current money is only here for another month, but if we cut it off, it would be less money for our retail businesses, for our stores,” Polis said Wednesday.

Once you realize that expanded unemployment benefits are not the reason employers can’t fill many entry-level low paying positions, any rational basis for cutting the benefits off disappears. No one who wants Colorado to recover as quickly as possible from the economic devastation of the COVID-19 pandemic should support a single dime of available money to not be flowing into the state–especially money going directly into the hands of working class people who are most likely to plug it right back into the economy.

It seems like an eternity ago, but the reality is that Colorado’s “labor shortage” was in the headlines long before the pandemic. Rather than meanspirited, shortsighted attempts to punitively motivate workers into accepting the status quo ante, maybe it’s time for businesses to make better job offers.

After all, an employee’s job market is a free market too.

Get More Smarter on Thursday (July 22)

Happy Pi Approximation Day; please celebrate approximately. 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. 

 

As The New York Times reports, the head of the CDC is warning that America is at a “pivotal point” in the battle to end the COVID-19 pandemic:

The director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention struck a new tone of urgency on Thursday about the coronavirus pandemic, warning that the United States is “not out of the woods yet” and is once again at a “another pivotal point in this pandemic” as the highly infectious Delta variant rips through communities with low rates of vaccination.

The warning from the director, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, during a briefing by members of the White House Covid-19 response team, was a marked shift from just weeks ago, when President Biden threw a big Fourth of July party on the South Lawn of the White House to declare independence from the virus.

It reflects a growing concern among administration officials that the gains they appeared to have made are being erased — and that the current surge in cases will overwhelm health systems in parts of the country where vaccination rates are low and hospitalizations are high. Still, new cases, hospitalizations and deaths remain at a fraction of their previous devastating peaks. Vaccines remain effective against the worst outcomes of Covid-19, including from the Delta variant.

Vaxx that thang up, people!

 

Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland is in Denver today ahead of a visit to Grand Junction on Friday in which the future of the headquarters location for the Bureau of Land Management will be discussed.

 

As The Denver Post reports, Colorado is part of a MASSIVE settlement agreement with several major drug companies regarding their role in the opioid epidemic:

Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser on Wednesday unveiled a historic $26 billion multistate settlement with the nation’s three largest drug distribution companies and the drugmaker Johnson & Johnson designed to address the nationwide opioid addiction and overdose crisis.

“This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity,” Weiser said during a virtual news conference Wednesday afternoon. “We need to make the most of it.”

The settlement between more than 40 states, thousands of municipalities and AmerisourceBergen, Cardinal Health, McKesson and Johnson & Johnson would bring $300 million to Colorado, the attorney general said.

That, combined with a previous settlement with Purdue Pharma, would total $400 million in funding to address what Weiser called an “American tragedy.”

 

Remember when several big corporations spoke out against new restrictive voter laws passed in Georgia this Spring? The Washington Post has an unfortunate update:

Three months ago, Comcast responded to the passage of Georgia’s sweeping voting law by saying, “Efforts to limit or impede access to this vital constitutional right for any citizen are not consistent with our values.”

That was then.

On June 30, the telecommunications giant contributed $2,500 to Georgia’s attorney general, Chris Carr, who has vigorously defended the law, which critics say will curtail voting access, including by limiting use of drop boxes for absentee ballots and making it a crime for third-party groups to hand out food and water to voters standing in line…

…Comcast was one of several companies that raised alarm about the voting restrictions but then contributed more than $20,000 collectively between April and June of this year to Georgia politicians who voted for or publicly defended the legislation, according to an examination by Advance Democracy, a nonprofit research group headed by Daniel J. Jones, a former FBI analyst who led the Senate investigation into the CIA’s use of torture after the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

If only Comcast’s customer service was this reliable. Amirite?

 

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Get More Smarter on Wednesday (July 21)

A new study says that Denver is the fourth-fittest city in America. 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. 

 

As The Washington Post reports, more Republican officials are starting to promote the COVID-19 vaccination before the virus kills off their entire voting base:

A growing number of top Republicans are urging GOP supporters to get vaccinated as the delta coronavirus variant surges across the United States, marking a notable shift away from the anti-vaccine conspiracy theorizing that has gripped much of the party in opposition to the Biden administration’s efforts to combat the virus.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) was part of the rising chorus on Tuesday, stressing the need for unvaccinated Americans to receive coronavirus shots and warning that the country could reverse its progress in moving on from the pandemic.

“These shots need to get in everybody’s arm as rapidly as possible, or we’re going to be back in a situation in the fall that we don’t yearn for, that we went through last year,” McConnell said during his weekly news conference. “I want to encourage everybody to do that and to ignore all of these other voices that are giving demonstrably bad advice.” [Pols emphasis]

Republicans such as Rep. Steve Scalise, the #2 person in the GOP House leadership, are now encouraging vaccinations. Even Fox News talking monkey Sean Hannity is now talking up the vaccine…and he once called the COVID-19 pandemic a hoax.

There’s one prominent Republican who is still NOT encouraging Americans to get vaccinated: Former President Donald Trump.

 

Colorado Democrats such as Gov. Jared Polis ran for office in 2018 promising to reduce health care costs for Coloradans. New data shows that these efforts have paid off BIGLY, resulting in significant reductions in health care premiums across the state.

 

As POLITICO reports, “centrist” Republican Senators are trying to lock down support for their watered-down version of a new infrastructure plan as the GOP stymies an effort by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer to hold a discussion on the issue today.

 

A right-wing lunatic attacked a couple of reporters at the State Capitol on Tuesday, as Westword explains:

On July 20, a woman who identified herself as homeless physically attacked Colorado Politics reporter Pat Poblete in the press room of the Colorado State Capitol simply because he is a journalist. And while Poblete wasn’t injured and ultimately declined to ask that the woman be charged with assault — or for stealing items belonging to one of his reporting colleagues, Marianne Goodland — he’s troubled that she appears to have acted out because she believes the terrible things said about the media by ex-President Donald Trump, whose rhetoric she spouted during her violent outburst.

“This wasn’t the sort of hyper-online, hyper-partisan, QAnon, deep-dive type of person who’s ingrained in this stuff,” Poblete says. “This was just a woman who’d heard what the former president said about journalists and took that to heart. Even at that level of information and intake, it’s still penetrating the public psyche.”

Poblete, who publicly revealed the attack in a thread on his Twitter account, is the legislative reporter for Colorado Politics, and even though the Colorado Legislature isn’t currently in session, he was at the Capitol to cover an event celebrating a statue of World War II hero General Maurice Rose that will be placed in nearby Lincoln Veterans’ Memorial Park (click to see his article on the topic).

Words matter, people.

 

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Recall Polis-Griswold 2021 Deep-Sixed By The Zuckster?

Checking in on the website for what would be the third attempt since 2019 to recall Gov. Jared Polis with Secretary of State Jena Griswold thrown in this time because it’s all fantasy and why the hell not, we see that the countdown clock for starting their 60-day petition circulation campaign has ticked down to zero:

We should be on the edge of our seats!

Now, as was the case with Polis Recall 2019 and 2020’s “Polis Recall 2.0,” this is the golden period of opportunity for the Recall Polis-Griswold 2021 campaign to be furiously drumming up whatever buzz and earned media they can, in order to maximize any chance at achieving the goal the two prior campaigns couldn’t even get halfway to reaching: over 630,000 valid Colorado voter signatures needed to qualify a recall question for a future statewide election.

Instead, it looks like the Polis Recall campaign has a more basic problem on their hands:

It would appear that somebody in the private Facebook group where recall organizing was to be taking place posted something stupid–we’re guessing they posted a lot of stupid things–about the COVID-19 pandemic that eventually brought the dreaded ball gag of Mark Zuckerberg down around the piehole of the Recall Polis-Griswold 2021 campaign on that platform. You would think by now most of these very fine people would have moved to Parler or Gab or whichever alternative network it is these days that allows people to lie about stuff without any consequences. That’s not Facebook anymore, and most people we know not named Ken Buck are pretty happy about that.

But to the extent the Recall Polis-Griswold 2021 campaign was relying on Facebook to organize, it’s back to square one! Perhaps they’ll see reason and just start getting ready for the next regular election in 2022, but we have no reason to expect rational behavior at this point. There’s neither fun nor grift in that.

Thanks, Democrats: Health Care Costs Declining in Colorado

Reinsurance Savings 2021

Legit BFD

In 2019, Governor Jared Polis and legislative Democrats passed a reinsurance program that almost immediately created significant cost savings on health insurance for many Coloradans. According to a new press release from Polis’ office, those savings are getting bigger:

Governor Polis and the Colorado Division of Insurance (DOI), part of the Department of Regulatory Agencies (DORA), released preliminary information about the health insurance plans and premiums for 2022, for the individual market (meaning health insurance plans for people who don’t get their insurance from an employer) and the small group market (for small businesses with 2-100 employees).

“We need to do more, but our effort to save people money on healthcare is working. Saving people money on health care continues to be a top priority for our administration especially as we build back stronger and the bipartisan reinsurance program is delivering real results. Keeping premiums down an average of 24.1% in the individual market through the reinsurance program means hardworking families will have more money for things like after-school activities, a summer vacation or help with housing,” said Governor Jared Polis.

The savings from the reinsurance program have increased this year. The Colorado Option which Governor Polis signed this year and its standard benefit plan will give Coloradans another tool to save money on health care starting in 2023.

In addition, insurance companies continue to expand where they are offering plans across the state, in both the individual and small group markets. In the individual market, the companies’ proposed expansions for 2022 will leave only one county with a single on-exchange insurance company available – down from 10 counties in 2021, and 22 counties in 2020.

To quote former Vice President Joe Biden from the ACA signing in 2010, this is a “big f***ing deal” that proves out campaign promises from Polis and other Democrats that they would reduce health care costs in Colorado if elected by voters. Average health care premiums in the individual market are now 24% lower than they were before Polis took office.

That’s…huge.

These numbers are likely to decrease even more once The Artist Formerly Known as The Colorado Option — a bill approved in the 2021 legislative session — is fully implemented in 2023. These are significant policy changes that will benefit people across the state, and the narrative poses a very difficult political problem for Colorado Republicans. Democrats told voters that they would save them money on health care…and they’re doing it. How do you downplay this in 2022 if you are a Republican candidate in Colorado? (SPOILER ALERT: You can’t).

If there is a logical campaign slogan that the Colorado GOP can use to counteract this Democratic message, we’re anxious to see what it looks like. Good luck with THAT, Republicans.

Get More Smarter on Tuesday (July 13)

Don’t believe the rumors you might have heard: The Home Run Derby actually did come to an end. 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. 

 

The New York Times reports on the first child tax credit payments going out this week, a big victory for Democrats — including longtime champion Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Denver):

With all but the most affluent families eligible to receive up to $300 a month per child, the United States will join many other rich countries that provide a guaranteed income for children, a goal that has long animated progressives. Experts estimate the payments will cut child poverty by nearly half, an achievement with no precedent…

…While the government has increased many aid programs during the coronavirus pandemic, supporters say the payments from an expanded Child Tax Credit, at a one-year cost of about $105 billion, are unique in their potential to stabilize both poor and middle-class families.

“It’s the most transformative policy coming out of Washington since the days of F.D.R.,” said Senator Cory Booker, Democrat of New Jersey. “America is dramatically behind its industrial peers in investing in our children. We have some of the highest child poverty rates, but even families that are not poor are struggling, as the cost of raising children goes higher and higher.”

Among America’s 74 million children, nearly nine in 10 will qualify for the new monthly payments — up to $250 a child, or $300 for those under six — which are scheduled to start on Thursday. Those payments, most of which will be sent to bank accounts through direct deposit, will total half of the year’s subsidy, with the rest to come as a tax refund next year.

Colorado Newsline has more on how the program will work. Democrats are trying to make the child tax credit a permanent policy.

 

At least you don’t live in Mesa County…unless you do, in which case, that sucks and we are very sorry.

 

 Voting rights are still a top issue as the Major League Baseball All-Star Game kicks off on Tuesday night. The Denver Post has more on an unusually-political meaningless baseball game.

 

Texas Republicans are once again trying to restrict voting rights, which has forced Democratic lawmakers to flee the state in a last-ditch effort to preserve election integrity.

 

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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.

The COVID-19 Pandemic State of Emergency Is Over

Gov. Jared Polis symbolically pummeling COVID-19 in March 2021.

As the Denver Post’s Saja Hindi reports, the day at least some Republicans wanted you to think would perhaps never come is upon us: the formal end of the state of emergency imposed by Gov. Jared Polis over a year ago to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis lifted the state’s emergency declaration on Thursday, nearly 16 months after it was issued.

Polis rescinded all of his pandemic executive orders, he told The Denver Post in an interview, but signed the Recovery Executive Order, which is focused on the economy and federal reimbursements…

In June, he said he would begin to phase out his emergency powers.

“This has been a challenging year for our state and country,” he said in a statement. “We’ve experienced pain and loss, but through it all, Coloradans did their part, made good choices by wearing masks, socially distancing and sacrificing moments with loved ones and we succeeded in having one of the lowest COVID fatality rates in the nation.”

So ends almost a year and a half of misguided resistance to common sense and wacky conspiracy theories–but as Rep. Ken Buck can tell you, there’s always another way to get to the conclusion you’ve preordained, like Gov. Polis having another secret emergency order that he can still use to send the stormtroopers into your cul de sac at any moment. Less sensational but sadly more possible, COVID-19 variants spreading and mutating among unvaccinated population could indeed make another emergency necessary down the road if the pandemic isn’t crushed in the near term.

Either way, it should be a comfort to even the most resistant “COVIDiot” resister to know now that just like he said all along, Gov. Polis never had any intention of pulling an Emperor Palpatine with his emergency powers. The reality is that Gov. Polis was cautious to the point of vulnerability to criticism about imposing public health restrictions to control the spread of the pandemic, and pushed to quickly ease restrictions as case numbers declined. The result of Gov. Polis’ management of the pandemic, a death rate from COVID-19 significantly below the national average, speaks for itself along with Polis’ high job approval rating.

To everyone who played by the rules and got your shots, thank you. You’re the reason it didn’t get even worse.

The rest of you should think about all the things you heard (and said) in the last year that didn’t come true. The one prediction that did come true, unfortunately, was that a whole lot of Americans would die from COVID-19.

Get More Smarter on Thursday (July 8)

It’s really hot today. It’s going to be really hot tomorrow, too. Don’t skimp on the sunscreen. 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. 

 

Western Colorado is very dry and in significant danger of suffering serious wildfires. As Colorado Public Radio reports, the federal government is trying to help:

There’s a confluence of events happening in the West this summer: extreme heat, extreme drought and the possibility of another record-breaking wildfire season, all driven by a long-term drying trend worsened by climate change. It’s so serious that President Joe Biden convened a meeting last week with Western governors to talk about wildfire preparedness and response.

“This is an area that has been under-resourced. But that’s going to change, if we have anything to do with it,” Biden said. “We can’t cut corners when it comes to managing our wildfires or supporting our firefighters.”

Members of Colorado’s Congressional delegation have their own ideas for how to deal with the twin problems of drought and wildfires.

[Cattle rancher Mark] Roeber says he’s talked to Democratic Sens. Michael Bennet and John Hickenlooper, as well as his local representative, Republican Lauren Boebert, about the need for financial assistance for the ag industry, in particular flexibility in some existing programs, as well as better water efficiency policies and water infrastructure — from storage to piping.

Western Slope leaders probably shouldn’t count on much help from Rep. Lauren “Q*Bert” Boebert, who remains more interested in scoring political points than policy victories:

Boebert backs increasing water storage capacity, something she hit on during a recent hearing.

“I support efforts to streamline cumbersome and bureaucratic policies in order to allow the construction of new water storage projects,” she said.

Boebert sits on a water subcommittee in the House, but when it held a public hearing on the subject, she did not ask any drought-related questions. Instead, she focused on potential conflicts of interest by Elizabeth Klein, the Interior official testifying at the hearing.

As CPR notes, supporting more water storage isn’t an idea that’s going to do much to help with severe drought conditions NOW.

 

Congressman Ken Buck (R-Greeley) is worried enough about a potential Republican Primary opponent that he’s gone full “election truther.” Buck is spinning a strange tale about Google somehow manipulating search engine results to allow Democrat Joe Biden to defeat Republican Donald Trump, or something like that. This doesn’t make a lot of sense, but then, that isn’t the point, is it?

 

The Denver Post reports on a law signed by Gov. Jared Polis — inspired by the death of Elijah McClain in Aurora — that restricts the use of ketamine by first responders.

 

New data again shows the importance of receiving both doses of a COVID-19 vaccine in order to protect against rising strains of the “Delta Variant.” The “Delta Variant” is overwhelming medical response teams in unvaccinated areas such as Southwest Missouri. As POLITICO reports, the “Delta Variant” is probably much more widespread than federal officials can even estimate.

In related news, a Colorado mother of four is the final winner of a $1 million lottery for receiving her COVID-19 vaccination.

 

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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.

Colorado On Track for 70% Vaccination by July 4th

Gov. Jared Polis symbolically pummeling COVID-19 in March 2021.

According to a press release from the office of Governor Jared Polis, which includes a subtle little jab at our southern neighbors:

Colorado continues to be on track for 70% of adults to receive at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine and achieve President Joe Biden’s aspirational goal of vaccinating 70% of Americans aged 18 and up by July 4th. To date, 69.64% of Coloradans 18 and older have received at least one dose of the life-saving COVID-19 vaccine.

“Colorado is on track to vaccinate 70% of eligible adults by July 4th and that is a testament to the spirit and resilience of Coloradans. People across our state wore masks, socially distanced, and are now doing their part by getting vaccinated and starting to enjoy their summer of freedom,” said Governor Polis. “We still need more Coloradans to get the free, quick, and easy vaccine to protect themselves and our economy.”

Other Western states lag behind President Biden’s ambitious goal and only Colorado’s neighbor to the south, New Mexico, which is home to an inferior chile is also home to a slightly higher vaccination rate of the eligible population. [Pols emphasis]

Our battle with the coronavirus is far from over, of course. In Los Angeles, officials are urging vaccinated and unvaccinated residents alike to return to wearing masks in public because of the threat of the Delta variant of COVID-19. Here in Colorado, both ignorance and negligence are keeping vaccination rates lower in some counties than elsewhere in the state, with 35 counties still lagging behind at a vaccination rate of less than 50%.

Nevertheless, most Coloradans should be proud that 70% of the state’s population is on track to have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. Around the country, 18 states have already surpassed Biden’s July 4th goal, with Colorado and Oregon soon to be #19 and #20.

If you still haven’t received a COVID-19 vaccination, click here for more information on how to join the 70% club.

Get More Smarter on Wednesday (June 23)

Today is the Grand Duke’s Official Birthday in Luxembourg, so send him a Starbucks gift card or something. 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. 

 

As The Washington Post reports, Senate Republicans have killed a massive voting rights bill proposed by Congressional Democrats:

Senate Republicans banded together Tuesday to block a sweeping Democratic bill that would revamp the architecture of American democracy, dealing a grave blow to efforts to federally override dozens of GOP-passed state voting laws.

The test vote, which would have cleared the way to start debate on voting legislation, failed 50-50 on straight party lines — 10 votes short of the supermajority needed to advance legislation in the Senate.

It came after a succession of Democrats delivered warnings about what they said was the dire state of American democracy, accusing former president Donald Trump of undermining the country’s democratic system by challenging the results of the 2020 election in a campaign that prompted his supporters in numerous state legislatures to pass laws rolling back ballot access.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell had long ago promised to torpedo S.1 (the “For the People Act“), so Tuesday’s actions weren’t a huge surprise…but a disappointment to many nevertheless.

 

Colorado’s Independent Redistricting Commissions will be touring the state in July and August to elicit feedback on potential new maps for 2022. Things will get a LOT more interesting on the redistricting front this afternoon, when nonpartisan staffers will introduce the first look at a potential new map of Colorado’s Congressional districts.

Click here for more on the redistricting commissions.

 

The El Paso County Republican Party announced that Georgia Republican Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene will be the featured speaker at its big annual fundraising dinner in August. Yes, really.

 

As Colorado Newsline reports, President Biden will soon meet with Western Governors to talk wildfires — which are already exploding in Colorado — and he’s taking up the cause of firefighters as well:

Biden said Tuesday that he will host a meeting next week of Western governors, Cabinet members and Federal Emergency Management Agency officials “to prepare for heat, drought and wildfires in the West.”

Biden at a White House FEMA briefing also sharply criticized the low salaries paid to federal wildland firefighters.

“There’s an old expression: God made man. Then he made a few firefighters. They have a higher incidence of severe injuries than police officers do. They are incredibly, incredibly brave at what they do…. And I just realized — I didn’t realize this, I admit — that federal firefighters get paid 13 dollars an hour,” Biden said.

“That’s gonna end in my administration,” he said, banging the table for emphasis, according to a pool report. “That’s a ridiculously low salary to pay federal firefighters.”

Meanwhile, 9News is tracking the status of various wildfires in Colorado. The smoke from some of these fires is now visible (and smellable) in the Denver Metro Area.

 

 Governor Jared Polis will sign 14 different pieces of legislation into law at various stops in Colorado today.

 

 An Indiana woman will today become the first person to be sentenced for taking part in the January 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.

 

 

Click below to keep learning stuff…

 

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Polis Pandemic Approval Hits 60%; Partisan Divide Kills

Gov. Jared Polis (D).

The Colorado Sun’s Jesse Paul got the first look at a new poll from nominally conservative but in experience frank and reliable Magellan Strategies, looking at the partisan divide over the personal decision to take the now readily available COVID-19 vaccine and voter approval of Gov. Jared Polis’ handling of the pandemic:

A survey of 545 Colorado adults conducted by conservative-leaning Magellan Strategies from June 3-10 provides more evidence that the state is on track to inoculate more than 70% of its residents with at least one dose of coronavirus vaccine by July 4. Gov. Jared Polis said Friday that he believes the goal, set by President Joe Biden, will be reached in Colorado.

The poll from the Louisville-based firm showed that 90% of Colorado adults who are registered as Democrats have received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine, while 7% have yet to get inoculated and 3% refused to say. Among Colorado adults who are registered as unaffiliated voters, 76% have received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine, while 15% have yet to get inoculated.

But only 57% of Republicans said they have received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine, with 26% saying they haven’t been inoculated and 17% refusing to answer.

This polling corresponds with the experience of heavily conservative areas of the state like Mesa County, which are seeing new outbreaks of COVID-19 while overall cases across the state decline. Mesa County was at one point championed by conservative opponents of public health orders to slow the spread of the pandemic, but today has one of the highest rates of infection in the state with the county’s hospitals nearing capacity. The willfully unvaccinated are also the populations most vulnerable to the new rapidly spreading variants of the virus.

The short answer is that these politically conservative areas of the state, which have from the beginning been the least compliant with measures to slow the spread of the pandemic and are now reluctant to accept the vaccine, are poised to suffer still more deadly consequences that heavily vaccinated politically liberal areas of the state (hopefully) will avoid. At this point, if you can’t see the connection, you’re willfully refusing to.

Gov. Jared Polis’ 60%-32% approval margin of his handling of the emergency in this poll is clear evidence that Republicans have failed to turn the necessary measures to respond to the pandemic into a liability. A majority of Colorado voters have stuck with Polis throughout this crisis and it’s too late now for that positive perception of Polis’ leadership to meaningfully change. If these trends continue, with conservative areas of the state suffering needlessly while the virus is stamped out where herd immunity can prevail, the political disparity will be underscored in a way that only tragedy can.

Hearts and minds are being won, but not in a way any of us would choose.

Weak, Uncertain Heidi Ganahl Running Out Of Time

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

U.S. SENATE

Sen. Michael Bennet

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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How Is Hurting The Unemployed A Winning Strategy?

Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Colorado Springs).

As the Grand Junction Sentinel’s Charles Ashby reports, late last week Gov. Jared Polis rejected a call from Colorado’s three Republican members of Congress to cut off supplemental federal unemployment funds based on the incorrect assumption that those funds are operating as a disincentive for workers to return to their their pre-pandemic jobs:

U.S. Reps. Lauren Boebert of Silt, Doug Lamborn of Colorado Springs and Ken Buck of Windsor said in a joint letter to Polis on Friday that the added benefit is prompting some people to prefer to stay on unemployment, a stance that is not supported by state labor officials.

That money is part of the $1.2 trillion COVID-19 relief plan that Congress approved in March, which provided direct aid to state and local governments and extended unemployment benefits to those who don’t qualify for regular state aid or have exhausted their state benefits…

Since May, the Republican governors in at least 25 other states, including Utah, Wyoming and Nebraska, have discontinued giving out that money, with some also ending other state or federal benefits in an effort to encourage people to return to work.

Polis and Democratic governors around the nation, however, have resisted that. Instead, Polis instituted a Colorado Jumpstart Incentive Program last month offering those still receiving unemployment insurance money a one-time benefit of up to $1,600 if they ended receiving that aid and returned to work by the end of this month.

Rep. Lauren “Q*Bert” Boebert (R-ifle).

Last month as Republican governors began to swear off the federal supplemental unemployment benefit, Rep. Lauren Boebert chimed in by suggesting that if we just “take away unemployment bonuses” the economy would quickly reopen. And as Ernest Luning at the Colorado Springs Gazette’s political blog reports, Boebert along with Reps. Ken Buck and Doug Lamborn are unanimous today that it’s time to financially flog those deadbeat American workers back to their shifts:

“We must get Coloradans back to work,” Lamborn said in a statement. “I am extremely concerned that what was meant to be a temporary supplemental to help Americans through forced lockdowns has now been weaponized by Democrats in an attempt to raise the minimum wage.”

As we wrote in May, Republicans are relying on mistaken and meanspirited assumptions about the American workforce in order to justify cutting off the expanded unemployment benefits for their own constituents. The reality is that there is no evidence the additional unemployment funds are keeping workers from rejoining the labor pool. The biggest reason, going back to the Grand Junction Sentinel’s report Friday, is that it’s against the law:

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“Recall Polis 2021” Sets Sights On Double #Fail

Checking in as we periodically do on what’s promised to be a third recall campaign against Gov. Jared Polis, there’s a lot of chatter suggesting that another petition drive is in the offing at the end of the month. Readers will recall that the Recall Polis 2021 campaign has promised a 400% bigger effort than the 2020 recall campaign, which is good because Recall Polis 2020 was much less successful than the Recall Polis 2019 campaign was and…well, the math gets complicated but you get the idea. There’s just not much reason at this point to take any of this seriously.

Especially now that their “400% bigger operation” just doubled their workload:

That’s right, folks! Rather than waiting for the general election at its regular allotted interval in November of 2022, this is now apparently a campaign to recall both Gov. Jared Polis and Secretary of State Jena Griswold. We haven’t seen the campaign’s list of grievances against Griswold specifically as of this writing, presumably Scott Gessler is still writing that up at his billable rate of $450 an hour. But to be clear, the signature requirement to qualify a recall question for the ballot against a sitting Secretary of State is the same as recalling Gov. Polis–and the previous two petition campaigns against Gov. Polis came nowhere close to the 630,000+ valid voter signatures required for a recall to move forward. We’ll never even know how far short the second effort fell because they never turned in their signatures to be verified.

As for why they decided to add Secretary of State Griswold, greatly increasing the logistical hurdle they’ve never once come close to successfully reaching for the much higher profile governor himself?

In the timeless words of Forrest Gump, “stupid is as stupid does.”

Winners and Losers from Historic Legislative Session

House Speaker Alec Garnett and Senate President Leroy Garcia on opening day (2/17/21)

Democrats brought an end on Tuesday to an historic legislative session that included landmark bills on pandemic recovery, health care, and transportation infrastructure.

With the 2021 session officially in the books, here is our look at the Winners and Losers from the last couple of months…

If you don’t want to read ahead, the TL;DR version is this: “Winners” include basically all living people in Colorado. Actually, it even includes some dead people, considering the passage of a bill that allows for human composting.

 

 

WINNERS

 

People Who Live and Breathe in Colorado

As John Frank of Axios wrote on June 4, “This is the most significant legislative session in years.”

If you could say only one thing about the 2021 legislative session, this would be it.

Via The Denver Post

 

Democrats kicked off the year with an ambitious list of policy goals — and even added to it in response to events — and they checked off damn near every single one of them

♦ Jump-starting Colorado’s economic recovery post-COVID

♦ Saving people money on health care

♦ Reducing the cost of prescription drugs

♦ Much-needed transportation infrastructure funding

♦ Real solutions for combatting Climate Change

♦ Gun safety

♦ Tax reform

Democrats were even able to craft an historic state budget that includes $800 million in economic stimulus funding, $480 million for K-12 education, and $1.5 billion set aside in the state reserve fund.

From transportation funding to tax reform, we could list off dozens of significant bills passed in 2021, but instead check out this press release from Democrats in the legislature.

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In 2021, Colorado GOP Obstruction Games #Failed Bigly

“Raging” Rep. Ron Hanks (R).

In today’s Unaffiliated newsletter from the Colorado Sun, which we highly recommend subscribing to if you don’t already, Colorado House Republican lawmakers including ex-House Minority Leader Patrick Neville complain bitterly that the obstruction tactics which had in previous years resulted in some amount of negotiation from majority Democrats–or failing that, at least some base-pleasing headlines about Republicans slowing progress to a crawl–didn’t work in the 2021 legislative session most likely wrapping up today.

This year under new House Minority Leader Hugh McKean, the “performative obstruction” fell flat:

“It seems like when we’ve done it, there hasn’t been a sense of purpose behind it. There’s been no objective,” Neville, the former House minority leader, said of the delay tactics.

First-year Reps. Richard Holtorf of Akron and Ron Hanks of Fremont County were among the Republican representatives who most readily deployed the delay measures. They asked for bills to be read at length and delivered long floor speeches, keeping Democrats, and their fellow Republicans, at the Capitol late into the night.

But even Holtorf admits he didn’t accomplish much. [Pols emphasis] On Friday, Republicans — led by Holtorf, who spoke at great length and detail about cows giving birth — stretched debate over a bill to expand labor rights for agricultural workers until about 11 p.m. The payoff was a few “soft amendments,” Holtorf said.

Tension became high enough between the hard-right members of the GOP minority and Leader McKean that Rep. Ron Hanks threatened to break McKean’s neck over continuing a then-nine hour filibuster against a business property tax bill. It is interesting to note that the obstruction campaign in the House has been spearheaded by two of the most embarrassing freshman members of the GOP House minority. But as today’s Unaffiliated continues, it wasn’t just far-right Reps. Richard Holtorf and Hanks getting burned by ill-advised obstruction tactics:

Even Rep. Colin Larson, a more moderate Republican from Littleton who is well-regarded by Democrats, jumped in on the delay tactics at one point, slowly reading aloud a legal opinion related to a Democratic bill to cut tax breaks for the wealthy and expand tax credits benefiting working families…

He thought Democrats might take it to heart if a moderate member of the GOP launched a mini filibuster. But instead of winning concessions, Larson lost the respect of some of his Democratic colleagues, they say. [Pols emphasis]

It’s a huge contrast from the 2019 session of the Colorado General Assembly, which ended with Republicans at least rhetorically fired up and preparing to launch a round of (failed) recall attempts against targets of opportunity in the legislature and Gov. Jared Polis. This year, Colorado Democrats have enjoyed the most productive legislative session since at least 2013, while Republicans have simply been too mired in infighting and confusion to mount anything like that level of opposition.

As the old saying goes, “the minority gets their say, and the majority gets their way.”

This year, the GOP minority couldn’t even get out of its own way enough to have their say.

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.

Chalk Up Another ‘W’ for Colorado Democrats

As Jon Murray reports for The Denver Post reports, Democrats in the state legislature have approved another hugely-important piece of legislation:

A massive $5.4 billion transportation package that would charge a new set of road-user fees to fix highways, expand transit and supercharge electric vehicles will land soon on Colorado Gov. Jared Polis’ desk.

The House’s approval of Senate Bill 260 on Wednesday marked the latest green light on a remarkably smooth journey for the biggest, most complicated transportation-funding bill ever attempted by state lawmakers. [Pols emphasis] It includes serious money both for road improvements, including much of the Colorado Department of Transportation’s 10-year priority project plan, and initiatives to address climate change and accelerate the transition from gas-guzzlers to cleaner vehicles.

The 41-24 vote was strictly along party lines, reflecting strong opposition from Republicans to a half-dozen proposed fees and the wide scope of the bill.

No House Republicans voted in support of the transportation bill, which is both predictable and idiotic on their part. Republicans are refusing to support all sorts of popular bills, from lowering health care premiums and reducing the cost of prescription drugs, to stimulus bills that will help Colorado recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.

It would have made a lot more strategic sense for Republicans to participate in some of these discussions and then take some credit for the good things that became law. Instead, what are Republican candidates going to say to voters in 18 months? Democrats wanted to fix your roads, help small businesses, and make health care more affordable, and we tried to stop them!!!

One of the main reasons that Republicans lost power in Colorado was because they had no idea what to do with majority control when they had it. Voters booted Republicans because they didn’t do anything. Now that they are in the minority, the GOP strategy for winning back those voters is…to not do anything.

It is theoretically possible to knock down a building by repeatedly banging your forehead against the wall. Colorado Republicans will surely let us know when this works.

Running for a Seat that May Not Exist

The CU Board of Regents will look different in 2022…one way or another.

One of the first declared statewide candidates for 2022 is getting some decent media attention, though it’s not clear that the seat in question will even appear on the next Colorado ballot.

Charles Ashby reported this week for The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel on the candidacy of Scott Mangino, a Denver Democrat seeking to win an at-large seat on the University of Colorado Board of Regents. Katie Langford of The Boulder Daily Camera first picked up on Magino’s candidacy late last month:

Mangino, a 34-year-old Democrat, announced his candidacy for at-large regent this week. The seat is currently held by Republican Regent Heidi Ganahl, who was elected in 2016.
Ganahl did not respond to emails requesting comment on whether she will run for reelection…

…Mangino said he was partially inspired to run for the Board of Regents because of the lack of transparency around the hiring of CU President Mark Kennedy, who is leaving on July 1 after two years on the job.

The political maneuverings around this particular seat are interesting in part because of who holds the position currently: Heidi Ganahl, the sole remaining statewide Republican elected official who is a likely GOP candidate for Governor in 2022. As The Colorado Times Recorder noted last week after the Camera story, Ganahl has repeatedly refused to respond to questions about her political intentions in 2022, though she is clearly working hard to raise her profile in the meantime.

Heidi Ganahl

Ganahl recently stuck both feet in her mouth on the subject of departing CU President Mark Kennedy, who seems to have been widely disliked among both the faculty and student body at Colorado’s flagship university. Ganahl’s statements on Kennedy will hurt her candidacy for whatever office she seeks in 2022.

But Ganahl may not have to choose between running for re-election as Regent or taking a shot at Governor. The seat that she currently holds may not even exist in 2022.

As Langford reported earlier this week, the makeup of the CU Board of Regents will change with Colorado’s redistricting process. The first group of nine CU Regents in Colorado were elected in 1974; at the time, Colorado had six Congressional districts, which meant one regent per CD and three statewide “at-large” positions. When Colorado was awarded a Seventh Congressional District in 2001, there was a corresponding change that added another Regent position from the 7th CD by reducing the number of at-large seats from three to two (eliminating the at-large seat then held by Maureen Ediger).

Colorado’s population has grown enough over the last decade that our state will get an 8th Congressional District, which will be up for grabs in 2022. This will likely alter the CU Board of Regents in the same way that adding a 7th seat changed the makeup in 2001. Ganahl’s term as Regent expires in 2022, but the other at-large seat (held by Democrat Lesley Smith) isn’t up for re-election until 2024; the obvious move here will be to eliminate the at-large seat held by Ganahl and turn it into a position representing the still-to-be-determined CO-08. The decision on changing the makeup of the CU Board of Regents will ultimately be up to the state legislature.

These changes will complicate Mangino’s plans for 2022, but it should clarify things where Ganahl is mentioned. Ganahl won’t say whether she will run for re-election in 2022…but that’s the wrong question to ask.

Republican Claims of Gerrymandering Ring Hollow in Colorado

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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