Halliburt-Oh No! Big Oil BS Explodes In Local GOP Faces

The last 24 hours have witnessed a remarkable turn of events that has played out mostly on social media, and resulted in considerable embarrassment for local Republicans and the fossil fuel energy industry PR people who they work closely with. The long battle this year over Senate Bill 19-181, landmark legislation reforming the mission of the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission that passed this year, has been a story of hyperbole and engineered backlash slowly giving way to the reality of a law that, while reforming regulatory oversight of oil and gas drilling to prioritize public safety over “fostering” more oil and gas drilling, does not represent anything like the disaster for the industry Republicans and industry flacks like the Colorado Oil and Gas Association warned it would be.

Closing the gap between propaganda and reality over SB-181 was part of the reason why the spate of recall attempts mounted by the Colorado GOP in 2019 against various state legislators and Gov. Jared Polis fizzled–in marked contrast to the infamous 2013 recalls over gun safety legislation. As energy companies assured their investors that they were still able to operate under the new regulations and the swift destruction of the industry in Colorado failed to materialize, the outrage evaporated–and unlike the social wedge issues that have kept the far right frothing at the mouth, it’s the energy industry that has the money to actually retaliate if they wished to. And they don’t.

But despite all the news in recent weeks about the energy industry’s success adapting and prospering in the new regulatory environment of SB-181, energy services giant Halliburton announced this week the layoff of 650 employees in four states, including 178 in Grand Junction. The Grand Junction Sentinel’s Dennis Webb:

Company spokesperson Emily Mir said in an email Tuesday that the company “made reductions to its employee workforce in Grand Junction due to local market conditions. Making this decision was not easy, nor taken lightly, but unfortunately it was necessary as we work to align our operations to reduced customer activity.”

She said that across Halliburton’s Rockies region, which includes Colorado, Wyoming, New Mexico and North Dakota, about 650 employees were affected…

In July, the Houston Chronicle reported that Halliburton cut 8% of its North American workforce as it took fleets of hydraulic fracturing equipment out of the field due to a continued slump in demand for frack services due to low oil prices.

The extremely close relationship between the Colorado GOP and the oil and gas industry means that they regularly coordinate to achieve common goals. Sure enough, Colorado Republicans and energy PR flacks leapt on this story with a ferocity and quickness that strongly suggests they were coordinated. And of course, the acrimony was laid entirely at the feet of Gov. Polis and SB-181:

The hard push from local Republicans and their comms operatives to hype this story against the prevailing narrative on SB-181 shows how desperate they are to inflict political damage on Democrats ahead of the 2020 elections. 2019 is coming to a close for the Colorado GOP as a “lost year” of further weakness after their devastating losses in 2018, and they’re scrambling for any political leverage they can find in the wreckage.

But a funny thing happened after yesterday’s coordinated message offensive against SB-181: notwithstanding FOX 31’s Joe St. George who got duped again, local reporters pushed back just as hard on the GOP’s spin.

(more…)

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Ben Engen Cashes In On Moribund Garcia Recall

GOP operative Ben Engen.

As readers know, all of the recall attempts initiated by Colorado Republicans in retaliation for last year’s landslide victories for Democrats in this state have fizzled except one: the recall petition due later this month against Senate President Leroy Garcia of Pueblo, the immediate successor to ex-Sen. Angela Giron who was successfully recalled in the fall of 2013.

By all accounts, that ain’t happening again in 2019. Everything we’ve heard from Pueblo is that the signature drive against Garcia has flatlined much like the failed campaigns against Sens. Brittany Pettersen and Pete Lee, Gov. Jared Polis, and the particularly ill-fated recall attempt against freshman Rep. Tom Sullivan–whose advocacy for gun safety legislation after his son was killed in the Aurora shooting made him an audacious but in the end self-injurious target for Colorado Republicans.

But as we learned with the failed but financially lucrative Recall Polis drive, success isn’t the only objective! Not when there’s cold hard cash to be made along the way by all those friendly and super “helpful” for-profit political consultants–consultants who get paid win or lose. And sure enough, in the Committee to Recall Leroy Garcia’s latest fundraising report, you’ll find big line-items for consultants:

Recall Garcia started the reporting period with $2,378 on hand, and reported $4,429 raised, $4,844 spent, with $1,962 cash remaining on hand. Given the pitiful amount of money we’re talking about here, it’s fascinating to see that the biggest expenditure, over $1,700, is for “fundraising consultants!” That suggests to us that the return on investment was…rather poor.

But at least as interesting to us is the $1,200 paid to Ben Engen of Constellation Political Strategies, the young Republican operative who became infamous as the “Johnny Appleseed of recalls” after a video surfaced of Engen very frankly admitting to a GOP audience that recalls were about a “re-weighting of the electorate”–giving Republicans the chance to sneak otherwise unobtainable wins via a recall “that just comes out of nowhere and blindsides” Democrats.

In the end, it’s Republicans who got burned by “recall season.” But for the for-profit side of Republican politics, the checks still cashed. And that’s all that matters.

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Getting Stupid With The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel

The headline appeared at the Grand Junction Sentinel yesterday, bold face and ominous:

Gov. Jared Polis (D).

Followed by a story that might make what’s known in the business as “low-information voters” think that oh yes indeedy, Gov. Jared Polis remains in political hot water despite this summer’s failed attempt to place a recall question on the ballot:

The majority of those surveyed feel the recent efforts to recall Colorado Gov. Jared Polis will have a meaningful impact on state politics, according to a poll on gjsentinel.com.

Efforts to recall Polis dominated the state’s political landscape this summer, but the groups gathering signatures ultimately fell well short of the 631,266 valid signatures required.

Slightly more than 65% of respondents affirmed the recall efforts, with 289 saying that it represented a large segment of the voting population. Others felt it sets the stage for further recall efforts (153) and sends a message to the governor (91).

Skeptical yet? You should be, because in the 5th paragraph a crucial detail is added below the fold:

Daily Sentinel polls are open-access and do not meet the criteria to be considered true scientific polls. [Pols emphasis]

That’s right, folks–although the Daily Sentinel is a legitimate news outlet that generally adheres to mutually accepted journalistic standards, this is a story about an online poll published on the Sentinel’s website. The respondents to the poll are self-selected visitors of the website. Basically the exact opposite a reliable cross-section of public opinion, online “polls” can be skewed simply by promoting the poll to an audience likely to vote a certain way. Even without deliberate manipulation there’s nothing to establish the poll’s respondents as representative of anything.

We also put up online polls from time to time, which are similarly unscientific and open to manipulation by anyone who cares enough about a poll on our blog to do it. The difference is that we would never represent such a poll as anything more than a discussion item for our readers. When you see a headline on this blog reporting the results of a “poll,” it’s an actual poll conducted with transparent standards and methodology.

With President Donald Trump Tweeting out the similarly absurd “results” of online polls at the hard-right propaganda website Breitbart News, it’s more important than ever that legitimate news organizations draw a bright white line between credible surveys of public opinion and garbage data with no credibility whatsoever.

For the Grand Junction Sentinel, that means never, ever writing a headline as misleading as this one again.

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SB-181 Madness: Apology Time Yet?

As Colorado Public Radio’s Ben Markus reports:

Six months after shouting that new legislative drilling regulations were an existential threat to their industry in Colorado, the state’s oil and gas producers are now whispering a different message to Wall Street:

No big deal.

The law was billed by both supporters and opponents as a sea change in how the industry is policed, giving local governments and state agencies greater authority to decide where and how drilling can occur. But in filings with the federal Security and Exchange Commission, some of Colorado’s largest drillers now express confidence that they can easily navigate the regulations spinning out of Senate Bill 19-181.

“We do not foresee significant changes to our development plans, as we have all necessary approvals of more than 550 permits to drill wells over the next several years,” Noble Energy representatives wrote to investors.

During the long debate in the Colorado General Assembly this year over Senate Bill 19-181, the landmark reform bill changing the relationship between state oil and gas regulators in the industry from “promotion” of more drilling to the protection of public health and safety first and foremost, the oil and gas industry’s PR armies warned of historic doom and gloom for Colorado’s economy. It would be nearly impossible, and we surely don’t have time to do it ourselves, to list out every time a Republican lawmaker or oil and gas industry press flack claimed with absolutely zero factual basis that SB-181 would “shut down oil and gas production in Colorado.”

The gospel-truth assumption that SB-181 was intended to and would speedily bring about the shutdown of oil and gas drilling in Colorado helped fuel the wave of irrational anger that Republicans deliberately sought to inflame during and after the 2019 legislative session, for the purpose of justifying recall attempts against opportune state legislative targets as well as Gov. Jared Polis. In Greeley, a town heavily dominated by oil and gas-friendly politics and politicians, the supposed threat of SB-181 ripping the local oil and gas industry apart provided cover to the attempt to recall now ex-Rep. Rochelle Galindo via a far nastier anti-LGBT “whisper campaign.”

But then a funny thing happened. Word started to leak out that despite all the weeping and gnashing of teeth over SB-181’s impending destruction, SB-181 wasn’t going to destroy the oil and gas industry at all. Energy producers started quietly telling their investors that they had all the permits they need for years of unhindered operations and were prepared to work with the new law’s additional protections. The gap between dire forecast and reality with regard to SB-181 isn’t the only reason the “summer of recalls” have sputtered out one after another in recent weeks, but it’s just not possible to maintain the level of public backlash required to pull off a recall without something to substantiate the allegations.

So the next time–and you can be assured there will be a next time–somebody tells you SB-181 is destroying/has destroyed past-tense the oil and gas industry in Colorado, here’s your rejoinder! And if you really want to irritate your conservative friends, follow that up with a brief lesson on the global energy economy, which as you and Gov. Polis already know dictates the fate of Colorado’s oil and gas industry far more than SB-181 ever could.

And yes, hopefully next time…nobody believes the hype to begin with.

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Recall Cashola: From Grifting To “Gifting”

FRIDAY UPDATE: Amateur hour continues, writes Marianne Goodland of the Colorado Springs Gazette:

After Colorado Politics reported that a Polis recall committee had disclosed distributing $11,000 in contributed funds as gifts to people involved in the group, the committee has amended state filings to say that the payments were for “consultant and professional services” instead of “gifts.”

The amended report from “Official Recall Governor Jared Polis” group — filed at 4:15 p.m. Thursday, hours after CoPo’s story was posted — labels the purpose of those expenditures as “BOARD APPROVED – THANK YOU FOR CARING ABOUT COLORADO.”

The previous filing identified the purpose as as “BOARD GIFT – THANK YOU FOR CARING ABOUT COLORADO.” Other information about the payments was not changed.

That’s a swell amendment, but we’d say the grounds for the mother of all campaign finance complaints have only been reinforced by this act of ex post facto backside covering. We assume that will be the next shoe to drop–unless it just plain becomes time to start arresting people for fraud! We’ll leave that question to the lawyers, who should be coming directly.

—–

As the Denver Post’s Anna Staver reports, the end of the road has come for the Official Recall Colorado Governor Jared Polis Issue Committee–and after diverting $29,000 into a committee calling itself Colorado For Trump, thousands of dollars in donations to the committee are being given out as “gifts” to the abortive campaign’s organizers:

The Official Recall of Colorado Gov. Jared Polis group — which didn’t participate in the recent failed recall attempt by two other groups — has given $11,000 of the money it raised for the effort as gifts to staffers.

According to online campaign finance records filed with the Secretary of State’s Office, committee manager Shane Donnelley got $5,000 as a “thank you for caring about Colorado” gift, and secretary Lisa Pascoe and Weld County lead Rene McGill both received $3,000.

“Whether you call it a grift or a gift, this is just the latest in a string of events that show these recalls are being driven by scammers who are looking out for their own interests at the expense of unwitting voters,” said Curtis Hubbard, the spokesman for the Democratic group working against the recalls, Democracy First.

When we last checked in on the ashes of the failed push to recall Gov. Jared Polis earlier this month, the chair of the committee Juli-Andra Fuentes said she was waiting for a phone call (that wasn’t coming) from President Donald Trump personally before deciding what next to do with the $29,000 she diverted to “Colorado For Trump” from the Recall Polis committee–which might include legal defense if she’s sued by the Trump campaign for misuse of their brand.  Shane Donnelley, as readers know, is one of the original organizers of the committee, but stepped back from a public role after anti-Semitic posts from Donnelley and another principal organizer Judy Spady wound up on the evening news.

The diversion of tens of thousands of dollars into the bogus Trump committee, and the thousands paid to local political operatives like Jon Caldara and Scott Gessler for their “Freedomfy” fundraising platform and legal fees respectively are well-known scandals at this point. But this latest disclosure of $11,000 given away as “gifts” to organizers after a campaign that accomplished absolutely nothing–helping principally to discredit the Polis recall petition drive after it commenced–is absolutely gobsmacking in its audacity.

This is a campaign whose donors literally contributed their SSI checks.

And they’re pocketing the money.

It may not be on a grand scale, but it is easily as disgraceful as anything we’ve seen in this business.

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“Recall Polis” Grift Descends To New Depths Of Griftiness

With the campaign to recall Gov. Jared Polis now consigned to the dustbin of history, we’ve been following developments surrounding the roughly $100,000 raised by the “Official” Recall Jared Polis committee–which readers will recall is the committee that decided not to launch a recall attempt without the huge financial and volunteer commitment that would be necessary and condemned the “Dismiss Polis” campaign for moving ahead without the resources to succeed. Earlier this month, we took note of a large transfer of funds from the “Official” Polis Recall committee to a committee named “Colorado For Trump,” and took that as a sign that their operations were winding down.

But as 9NEWS’ Kyle Clark reports in the video above, that’s not where this sorry story ends:

You read that correctly: “Colorado For Trump” is not affiliated with the Trump campaign whatsoever, and is in fact run by the same Juli-Andra Fuentes who ran the “Official” Recall Polis committee. The Trump campaign is threatening legal action, and now Fuentes is talking about all kinds of alternative destinations for the committee’s remaining cash:

Of course Scott Gessler gets some of the money! Gessler attaching himself to the revenue stream of this summer’s failed recall attempts has got to be one of the most under-reported angles on the whole story and we hope somebody catches up with him for a few questions. As for the rest of the cash, this boils down to a hard lesson in the pitfalls of political giving–in particular giving to PACs and other entities without a clear purpose and accountability for the monies raised.

This is a campaign that literally had donors pledging their disability and Social Security checks to make donations in their misguided low-information fervor to bring Gov. Polis down. To see that money now slushing around in the hands of obviously marginal people with no sense of responsibility to the donors they spent months fleecing is…well, it ought to be a crime. The only reason it may not be is because the “ScamPAC” industry pays the mortgages of a lot of people in politics. Like Scott Gessler.

When does it stop being a political campaign and just become a fraud? This situation is pushing the boundary.

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“Dismiss Polis” Turns To Next Existential Threat: Vaccines!

The social media groups for the now-defeated recall attempt against Gov. Jared Polis have been fairly quiet in the week since the effort met its ignominious end–which makes sense since when one suffers a humiliating defeat that should rightly make one question the last six months of their lives’ work at least, if not much larger and more basic questions about their worldview, it’s probably a good idea to look at the floor and think about things for awhile quietly.

But of course the world is never rid of bogeymen, especially when you see them everywhere–and in the “Dismiss Polis” Facebook group, they’ve already moved on to the next crisis:

Back in June, Gov. Polis announced an executive order aiming to improve the state of Colorado’s last-in-the-nation ranking for kindergarten immunizations, with a number of limited steps directing the state Department of Public Health and Environment to look at the problem and standardize the process for requesting exemptions under the law. This order came after Polis controversially opposed a substantially stronger bill from Rep. Kyle Mullica (D) to require vaccine exemption requests to be filed in person. We haven’t seen it confirmed, but it’s reasonable to speculate that this position posting is either related to that executive order or is simply an existing position at CDPHE being turned over.

Either way, Gov. Polis is in no way part of any kind of “crackdown” on child immunizations–to the extent that he took a lot of criticism in the last session for opposing Rep. Mullica’s legislation. How do you get from that reality to sounding the alarm on the Polis recall internets over “immunization compliance inspectors?”

It’s easy if you’re already unhinged.

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(NOT) BREAKING: Polis Recall Petition Drive Ends In Failure

UPDATE #4: Progress Now Colorado tries to take the edge off the bad news for President Donald Trump’s next briefing:

—–

UPDATE #3: Gov. Jared Polis’ full statement:

“After all that fuss, I was pleasantly surprised that they didn’t turn in a single signature on the recall. I hope the remaining misguided efforts against others see the same results as Tom Sullivan’s did before. Recalls should not be used for partisan gamesmanship.

“Yesterday I was in Rifle, last week I was in Ignacio, Cortez, and Durango, and next week I’ll be in Trinidad and Lamar. Across the state, people are so excited that kids everywhere are able to attend kindergarten free of charge, and that for the first time in history, health insurance rates are going down more than 18% next year. Mom and pop stores across the state are already benefiting from our tax cut that reduced taxes for 144,000 small and medium-sized businesses across our state.

“Now that this sideshow is over, I will continue to focus my full attention on building upon our bipartisan success with kindergarten and saving money on health care. For my nine months in office I’ve held regular meetings with Republican and Democratic legislative leadership, and after the remaining recall efforts fail I plan on inviting both sides to a joint bipartisan leadership meeting to discuss how together we can improve our schools, reduce our traffic, and save people even more money on health care. Let’s see what amazing things we can do for Colorado, together.”

—–

That’s not very many boxes.

UPDATE #2: Colorado Sun:

Friday was the end of a 60-day period during which supporters of the recall needed to collect 631,266 valid signatures — or more than 10,521 a day — to make the special election happen. No campaign has ever collected that many signatures in Colorado.

Organizers said they collected more than 300,000 signatures…

Organizers also said they will not turn in the signatures that they did collect. If they did, the people who signed would have been prohibited from signing any other petition to recall Polis during his term in office. The maneuver also prevents the public from knowing who signed the petition.

We feel this is crucial to reiterate. No news story should quote the campaign’s 300,000 signatures claim without noting that this number has not been and at this point will not ever be verified, since the petitions will not be turned into the Secretary of State for verification.

For all we know, those forms could be blank.

—–

UPDATE: Marshall Zelinger of 9NEWS reports that the “Resist Polis” campaign collected roughly 300,000 signatures, less than half the required number and nowhere close to the necessary margin for account for the inevitable invalid signatures. They will not be turning collected signatures in, meaning even these pitiful numbers cannot be verified–but based on the typical validity rate for ballot measure petitions, the number of valid signatures is almost certainly far below the announced total..

In short, the campaign to recall Gov. Jared Polis has now been confirmed to be a massive waste of time and energy that in hindsight received much more attention than it ever deserved. Updates, reactions to follow.

—–

That’s the word from a press conference underway now at the “Resist Polis” campaign, whose 60-day window to collect over 630,000 valid Colorado voter signatures ends today.

We’re updating as word comes in, so watch this space.

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“Official” Polis Recall Celebrates Impending Failure Of Polis Recall

If you don’t have the pleasure of being on the “inside” of the 41,000-strong private Facebook group ostensibly devoted to the recall of Gov. Jared Polis–note that the 41,000 did not all join this group for that purpose, since the group has been around threatening the same fate for some years to Gov. Polis’ predecessor–you have to rely on windows into their peculiar little world such our occasional updates.

Readers will recall that the “Official” Recall Polis group distanced themselves from the petition campaign that comes to a close at the end of this week, suggesting that the task was so disproportionate to the resources available that the faction plowing ahead must be supported by Polis himself. And as that fateful deadline approaches, “ORCGJP” chairwoman Juli-Andra Fuentes wants you to know it was all one giant scammy scam-scam just like she told you:

Recalling a statewide official is an immense, difficult and expensive task as putting the recall issue on the ballot requires 631,266 valid signatures, and with a 30% rejection rate, means collecting over 900,000 signatures. Further, with only 60 days to conduct the recall (11,000 signatures a day), means that a statewide governor recall has much less time allotted than a statewide ballot initiative, which only requires about 100,000 valid signatures over 180-day period; still even ballot initiatives often fail.

The recall petition currently being distributed has not even come close to having the resources necessary to get on the ballot. Merely printing petition sections costs roughly $65,000 and those numbers generously assume $5 per section and 70 signature lines per section. According to the most recent campaign finance reports, Dismiss Polis, Resist Polis and Recall Et ALL combined, did not have enough to even cover printing costs and printing is only the first step. The best and most successful volunteer efforts have collected about 40,000 signatures over a six-month timeframe; with only approximately 3,000 Facebook followers, it would be unrealistic to expect Dismiss, Resist and Et ALL to collect 11,000+ signatures a day. Paid signature collectors cost between $3 to $15 a signature so, between that the cost of printing, the math is simple…

The organizers of Dismiss Polis, Resist Polis and Recall Et All are not going to get a recall on the ballot, and it is our belief that was by design. The undertaking of a project of this magnitude needed a tremendous amount of planning and resources for it to be successfully executed. As we all know, if elections have consequences then obviously so do recalls. The consequence of them filing a petition prematurely is they have likely ruined any chance to recall the governor at this time. [Pols emphasis]

Last week, 9NEWS reported that the “Official” Recall Polis campaign divested itself of a large percentage of its funds by writing a $29,000 check to Trump For Colorado. As the statement above indicates this is a committee winding down its operations, not planning to rise again from the ashes of what everyone expects will be a failed attempt to recall Gov. Polis come close of business Friday. As for the stillborn petition drive, we’ve heard rumors that they are “six digits short” of the needed 631,000 signatures to meet the minimum threshold–let alone the hundreds of thousands of additional signatures needed to cover the always-hefty percentage of invalid signers.

They’ll try to spin whatever they get, of course, but what will be no surprise is that their stated goal of 900,000 was a fool’s errand. We’ll be working backward from that figure to calculate just how egregiously this campaign has wasted all of our valuable time.

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Outrage Fatigue: Get a Grip, Cattlemen

The latest threat to liberty.

As the Denver Post’s Nic Garcia reports this burger-grilling Labor Day:

Gov. Jared Polis has rattled some farmers and ranchers with his suggestion that Colorado help its agriculture industry get a foothold in the burgeoning plant-based meat alternative market.

Beef is big business in Colorado. It’s the state’s largest export, totaling nearly $4 billion. So the mere idea that the state could put resources toward the competition has upset industry leaders. What’s more, it’s not a practical idea, some experts say…

“What we can’t and shouldn’t change is that Colorado is a very unique place for beef production,” said Terry R. Fankhauser, vice president of the Colorado Cattlemen’s Association. “To have a governor make any sort of reference that we shouldn’t embrace and support that is problematic.”

2019 has been the year in which Colorado Republicans have positively thrown the kitchen sink at Democrats from Gov. Jared Polis on down, seeking to gin up outrage after Democrats triumphed in the 2018 elections leaving the GOP with its rumpiest of rump minorities since the era of Franklin Delano Roosevelt. After Gov. Polis and the Democratic majority in the legislature destroyed the oil and gas industry, taught your children to go gay, and passed a law so that anyone who doesn’t like your car’s bumper stickers can take your guns–of course Polis is coming for your beef burgers next. Of course he is!

Here in our safe space for reality, though, where we know that the oil and gas industry is doing fine, the kids are whatever they’re born to be, and the state’s new extreme risk protection order law absolutely does not target anyone over their choice of bumper stickers, when somebody says that Gov. Polis is trying to destroy the beef industry by supporting agribusiness’ pursuit of meatless protein products like the “Impossible Whopper,” we’re more than a little skeptical.

This might seem obvious to you, but it’s apparently not to the Colorado Cattlemen’s Association so we’ll review: in an era when the global consumption of beef along with food of every kind is skyrocketing and billions of new hungry people are being born, food production is not a zero-sum game. There is a market for every single juicy all-beef patty produced by Colorado cattle feedlots and for all the meatless protein made by funky genetically-engineered yeast (look it up) the world can produce too. And there will continue to be a burgeoning market for all of these products for the rest of our lives unless something very bad happens.

So do you think, maybe just once, Gov. Polis could do something completely inoffensive like promoting Colorado agriculture and not have a bunch of Republicans in cowboy hats freak out? This endless over-the-top drama gets really, really tiresome. It was tiresome six months ago.

Maybe after the recall fails things will become less silly.

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Polis ‘Splains Global Energy Economy To COGA, COGA Freaks Out

Gov. Jared Polis (D).

The Denver Post’s John Aguilar reports on a delightful and long-overdue showdown between Gov. Jared Polis and the Colorado Oil and Gas Association yesterday, which culminated in Gov. Polis giving attendees at COGA’s annual meeting a remedial run-through of the state of global energy markets and oil prices in particular that left industry flacks, hacks, and shills with their jaws agape at the galling effrontery of it all:

Gov. Jared Polis told a large gathering of energy workers and executives Wednesday that what happens in oil-rich Venezuela and Russia — and in global commodity markets far and wide — has more bearing on the industry’s future in Colorado than do the potential effects of a sweeping and controversial state oil and gas bill passed earlier this year.

“Commodities pricing and the market is what drives things,” Polis said during a question and answer session with Colorado Oil and Gas Association President Dan Haley during a packed luncheon at the Colorado Convention Center in downtown Denver. “It has nothing to do with me, nothing to do with — well you know — our state politics and less even to do with national politics. It really has to do with supply and demand.”

But many in the room felt that emphasizing market forces over the effects of new regulations on energy extraction brought about by Senate Bill 181 was disingenuous on the part of the governor…

The Colorado Sun’s John Frank and Mark Jaffe, oh my!

“Well you know, I happen to be a Democrat so I worry much more about Trump’s tariffs and their impact on the infrastructure for the oil and gas industry and other industries, the closing down of overseas markets, the damage to the workforce readiness that he’s done with cracking down on immigration. So you can choose which side you worry about the economic threats from, but obviously I’m much more worried about who is president today than who will be president in a couple years,” Polis responded.

A moment later, after Polis rejected the suggestion that government regulation has the power to move markets, contradicting some economists, Haley asked the governor the question that served as the title for the conference session: “Can you still drill for oil in a blue state?”

“It’s just a silly question,” Polis said, adding that “it’s a geological question, it’s not a political question.” [Pols emphasis]

The Denver Business Journal’s Greg Avery–it’s just downright heresy!

“As long as commodity prices are good, you’re going to have a good business,” said Polis, a Boulder Democrat. “It has nothing to do with me, or very little.” [Pols emphasis]

…Polis’ remarks sounded outrageous to some. Barbara Kirkmeyer, Weld County Commissioner and a vocal supporter of the oil industry, afterward said she didn’t think the governor was being genuine when he said industry jobs are important.

“Telling oil operators about economics and then mocking?” Kirkmeyer said. “That’s unreal to me.”

Ever since the passage of Senate Bill 19-181 in the Colorado General Assembly this year, opponents have warned of dire consequences for the fossil fuel industry, lost jobs, and massive declines in oil and gas production. These warnings were never well-grounded in reality, especially after a host of amendments were made to the bill to placate the industry late in the legislative process. Dan Haley of COGA himself admitted that the bill would not have the destructive impact some opponents had irrationally forecast, the industry has continued to expand in key producing regions, and Barbara Kirkmeyer’s avowedly pro-oil Weld County just signed an agreement with the state to ensure a backlog of permit requests panic-filed during last year’s fight over Proposition 112 are processed quickly.

So, there’s that. But more importantly, Gov. Polis is absolutely right that the economics of drilling for oil and gas in Colorado and everywhere else are set by global energy markets, not by local regulations. Currently the price of oil is hovering between $55 and $60 a barrel, having recovered somewhat from a plunge at the beginning of 2019 to as low as $45 a barrel. Persistently high oil prices from 2010-14 ($80-$110) drove expansion of drilling in Colorado under Gov. John Hickenlooper, and the current low price of oil represents a vastly greater threat to the profitability of drilling here than any regulatory factor.

This is not liberal propaganda. It’s Energy Economics 101.

That energy industry bigwigs attending the COGA conference yesterday became so incensed over this reality check from Gov. Polis is more an indicator of long-term concerns about the viability of the fossil fuel industry than it is a reaction to any genuine impact of SB-181. When Polis tells them that if commodity prices support drilling, drilling will happen, he is right. And if the economics support drilling in Colorado, drillers can afford to follow rules to protect public health and safety.

We’ve remarked previously about the odd, almost religious devotion the fossil fuel industry demands from the political establishment in Colorado, backed up by a potent electoral operation and perfectly willing to mount wildly destructive attacks on the entire system like 2018’s Amendment 74. Popping that bubble makes the industry’s backers very upset, but that’s all Polis did yesterday–with facts no one can deny.

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The Pivot–“Official” Polis Recall Committee Shifts The Grift

As predictable as sunrise, 9NEWS’ Marshall Zelinger reports:

One of two groups seeking contributions to try to recall Gov. Jared Polis (D-Colorado) recently diverted nearly a third of its money to a different effort.

“Official Recall Colorado Governor Jared Polis” has received $108,000 in contributions since forming in March.

In a campaign finance filing on Monday, that group reported giving $29,657.47 to “Colorado For Trump.” The reason stated was “Board approved expenditure for pivoting purposes.”

To recap, since it’s been awhile since the Recall Polis campaign(s) have merited much attention, with the doomed effort to collect over 600,000 voter signatures heading for its September 6th day of reckoning–this is the “Official” Recall Polis campaign, not the “Dismiss Polis” effort currently conducting the petition drive to get a recall question on the ballot. Readers will recall that the “Official” Recall Polis campaign denounced the “Dismiss Polis” campaign as a sham with no resources, and Dismiss Polis responded with similar allegations against the “Official” campaign excepting the significant resources the “Official” campaign has raised and refused to spend. Because none of these efforts have a snowball’s chance in hell of actually succeeding in placing a recall question on the ballot, all of the money raised by these committees can be reasonably categorized as scammed loot from conception to execution.

With all of this in mind, this decision by the “Official” Recall Polis committee to “pivot” a third of their cash to Colorado For Trump might seem like an attempt to do right by their donors, some of whom had posted on social media about spending their disability and welfare checks on donations to the campaign. The problem is, only a third of the money raised to recall Gov. Jared Polis going to any electoral purpose is still a scam no matter how you sugar-coat it. What’s the status of the other $70,000 this committee took in? We know that some of the biggest checks early in the campaign were written to former Secretary of State Scott Gessler and online payment processors like the Independence Institute, but there’s tens of thousands of dollars slushing around that this rerouting of funds to the Trump re-election campaign does not account for. If it was our money, we’d want to know how to get it back. It’s easy, after all, to donate to the Trump campaign ourselves if we want.

And yes, this is further confirmation that the movement to recall Colorado’s popular freshman governor less than a year after his double-digit victory is just about to be relegated to the dustbin of history! Hopefully that part, anyway, is not news to anyone.

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Greg Lopez Announces Campaign…for 2022

Greg Lopez

Some day there will be an entire generation of Coloradans who don’t remember a time when Greg Lopez was not a candidate for statewide office.

The former Mayor of Parker ran for U.S. Senate in 2016 (he dropped out of the race before he could fail to make the Primary ballot) and sought the GOP nomination for Governor in 2018 to no avail. Lopez can’t run for Senate in 2020 without mounting a Primary challenge against incumbent Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma), so he has set his course for 2022 instead.

On Tuesday, Lopez announced via something called “The Richard Randall Show” that he will be a Republican candidate for Governor in three years:

Greg Lopez joins me today to make his announcement about his run for Colorado Governor in 2022. He just narrowly lost the 2018 primaries, and now with our current Governor just making us more and more like California in the Mountains it is time for Greg Lopez.

The Bronze Medal

You could quibble with Randall’s definition of “narrowly lost,” as you can see from the graphic at right (you could also quibble with the phrase “California in the Mountains,” but we can’t even begin to help you with that one). Lopez was never a serious threat to actually win the GOP nomination in 2018, though he was one of two Republican candidates with a criminal record, and the first statewide candidate in memory to have both asked and answered the question, “When did you stop beating your wife?

Lopez managed to get his name on the ballot for the Republican Primary in 2018 largely because better-known and better-funded campaigns promoted him as a good foil to frontrunner Walker Stapleton. Perhaps Lopez can do even better in 2022 with such a ginormous head start on the rest of the field. If nothing else, it should give him time to make a new campaign video instead of recycling the same one he used in 2018.

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Colo Republican Party Using a Voter Data App Called Sidekick

In a recent Facebook post, Recall Jared Polis heralded its use of the SideKick app, stating, “We are putting the finishing touches on our custom app to track and verify recall petition signatures. Our goal is to shatter the record for the lowest signature rejection rate in Colorado history, and with you as a volunteer, we know we can!”

(more…)

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

During November’s election, someGOP candidates and their allies in critical Colorado races didn’t use the same voter database, potentially causing them to duplicate time-consuming canvassing efforts and to fail at effective voter mobilization.

Now the Colorado Republican Party has a new voter database that’s also being used by allied conservative groups.

Speaking to activists last month, Colorado Trump Chair Jefferson Thomas indicated that the Colorado Republican Party is now using a “door-to-door” application called “Sidekick.”

“Sidekick is our voter contact application,” said Thomas, when he asked about GOP tools that could be used in multiple elections. “There is also a front-facing database, if you will, that contains all of our voters, all of those things integrated in one system.”

The Colorado Republican Party is listed as a client on the website of CampaignSidekick, which sells the app. Other clients are state Republican Parties, like Arkansas, Arizona, and Ohio.

A campaign to recall Democratic Gov. Jared Polis is also appears to be using the Sidekick app.

The Resist Polis PAC made an expenditure to CampaignSidekick on July 1 for “consultant and professional services.”

In a recent Facebook post, Recall Jared Polis heralded its use of the SideKick app, stating, “We are putting the finishing touches on our custom app to track and verify recall petition signatures. Our goal is to shatter the record for the lowest signature rejection rate in Colorado history, and with you as a volunteer, we know we can!”

(more…)

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Recallpalooza: Meet Herbie The Hate Bug!


Photos forwarded to us yesterday from the far western reaches of Jefferson County, at the intersection of US-285 and Pine Valley Road. In the 20 minutes or so our source observed there weren’t any drive-ups to sign petitions either to recall Gov. Jared Polis or the recently-announced “citizens-only voting” ballot measure being pushed in search of a problem by Republican hanger-on George Athanasopoulos.

Much like the Recall Polis “creeper van” we took note of a couple weeks ago, this roadside scene inspires something other than credibility. Would you give your personal information to these very fine people? Also:

Sen. Brittany Pettersen’s district is miles east of here, and that doesn’t bode well for their validity rate.

Cusp of victory, folks. Stay tuned!

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The Hard Truth About Suicide And Gun-Loving Sheriffs


Weld County Sheriff Steve Reams (R).

FOX 31’s Rob Low correlated a data point in the renewed debate over gun control in general and Colorado’s extreme risk protection order (ERPO or “red flag”) law in particular: something so significant and troubling that we wanted to make sure it was mentioned in this space.

Supporters of Colorado’s “red flag” law say the measure is more likely to prevent suicides than mass shootings, even though it’s the recent mass shootings in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio that led President Donald Trump to embrace red flag laws as a way to reduce gun violence.

In Colorado, more than half of the state’s 64 counties have declared themselves Second Amendment sanctuaries opposed to the the red flag law. Many of those counties have the state’s highest gun suicide rates, according to statistics provided to FOX31 by the Colorado Department of Health and Environment… [Pols emphasis]

Counties with large urban populations like Denver and Boulder tend to have lower rates of suicide by gun: 6.5 deaths per 100,000 people in Denver; 8 per 100,000 people in Boulder between the years of 2013 and 2017. However, Custer County averaged 49 gun suicides per 100,000 people over the same time period.

Gun rights proponents often insist that suicides involving guns should be excluded from statistics used by gun control supporters, arguing that because only the perpetrator is harmed in suicide such incidents shouldn’t “count” as according-to-Hoyle gun violence. But the undeniable positive correlation between access to guns and their use in suicides as well as crimes against other people is why ERPO laws permit the removal of guns from persons ruled to be a risk to themselves or others. Suicide prevention is every bit as important as, and in theory more likely to form the basis of ERPO requests than individuals plotting attacks on others.

With respect to the large number of elected county sheriffs who have announced their intentions to refuse to enforce Colorado’s new ERPO law, the high suicide rate in many of these same counties is going to put these politician-sheriffs in a very difficult position after the law takes effect on January 1, 2020. It won’t be long, perhaps a matter of days, before someone who could have intervened in the suicide of a family member is thwarted by a county sheriff who refuses to enforce Colorado law. It’s not a hypothetical. It’s a certainty.

And it’s not something we’d ever want to face the news cameras to explain.

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Colorado House Republicans Fundraising to Recall Polis

(Everybody on the gravy boat — Promoted by Colorado Pols)
Patrick Neville "Take Back Colorado"
House Republican Leader Patrick Neville is using the statehouse GOP caucus fund to promote another recall effort, this time of Colorado Gov. Jared Polis. Neville didn’t pull any punches in his email soliciting donations:
Take Back Colorado logo
Governor Polis has unleashed the most radical and overreaching agenda in Colorado’s history. Chip in now to support a recall of Jared Polis and help us take back Colorado!
Neville sent the email via Values First Colorado (VFC), which also operates “Recall Colorado,” an entity dedicated to recalling Neville’s Democratic colleagues in the state legislature. Take Back Colorado appears to be an “entity” in name only; there is neither a political committee nor a business of that name registered with the Colorado Secretary of State. VFC’s enthusiastic support of statehouse recalls caused some concern among corporate donors earlier this year. Both Xcel Energy and Noble Energy issued statements saying they intended their 2018 donations to VCF to be used to elect Republicans in November’s general election, not recalling Democrats from office. Following those statements, Neville created a new political committee, “Recall Colorado,” presumably to separate recall funds from VFC’s regular election work. The committee’s lone campaign finance report filed on July 15 shows no money raised or spent over its first 30 days. VFC also filed a campaign finance report on July 15. Top donors include the Colorado Automobile Dealers Association ($10,000 on June 12) Farmers Insurance Group ($5,000 on June 13), Ralph Nagel of Top Rock Investments ($5,000 on May 9), and United Health Group, which also gave $5,000 on May 9. The report also revealed VFC’s largest expenditure: $18,000 to Rearden Strategic for “Digital Marketing.” Rearden is owned by Patrick Neville’s brother Joe. That family connection has already raised eyebrows among Colorado press, leading 9News’ Marshall Zelinger to ask party chair Ken Buck if he thought it appropriate for the Neville family to profit from recalls. It’s unclear how much money VFC has spent on Take Back Colorado so far, but at the very least it has created a logo, built a donation page on its fundraising site, and generated an email.
The email promoting Take Back Colorado is very similar in format and wording “Recall Colorado” emails sent by VCF. The logo is identical except for the addition of the words “Take Back.” The same disclosure, that “Take Back Colorado is an entity operated by Values First Colorado and is “Paid for and authorized by Values First Colorado,” appears at the bottom of the message. A phone call to VFC’s registered agent Joe Neville requesting comment was not immediately returned.
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Donors to “Official” Recall Polis Group Want Their Money Back

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

From Colorado Times Recorder intern Noah Zucker:

Across Colorado, the conservative movement to recall Democratic Gov. Jared Polis has been divided for weeks. Now, supporters of one of the groups promising to remove the governor believe they’ve been cheated out of their donations.

Recall discussions started on social media soon after Polis took office. In the ensuing months, the initial “Recall Polis” effort split into two groups: “Resist Polis PAC Recall” and the “Official Recall Colorado Governor Jared Polis.” The word “official” in the second group’s name doesn’t denote any formal standing. It’s simply what they decided to call themselves.

On July 8, the Resist Polis group filed a recall petition with the Secretary of State and, upon approval, launched a signature gathering effort. Over 631,000 valid signatures from registered Colorado voters must be collected in 60 days to successfully put the gubernatorial recall on the ballot.

“Does anyone know how to get our money back from the fraud group if we donated?” Taylor Winters asked in the Resist Polis PAC Recall Facebook group last week.

Winters, a member of the Resist Polis PAC group, said that Shane Donnelly, who runs the “official” Recall Polis Facebook group, “took people’s money [and] did nothing with it,” before refusing “to cooperate for a common goal” with the rest of the recall movement.

(more…)

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Colorado Celebrates Healthcare Savings; Gardner Shamelessly Claims Credit


Gov. Jared Polis outlines his healthcare savings plan in April. Note the absence of anyone who looks anything like Sen. Cory Gardner.

As Anna Staver reports for the Denver Post, healthcare costs will decrease significantly next year thanks to legislation passed by the Colorado legislature earlier this year:

Colorado has received federal approval for a new program that is expected to save families who buy health insurance through the individual marketplace thousands of dollars a year, Gov. Jared Polis is announcing Wednesday.

The program, known as reinsurance, is expected to drop premiums by an average of 18.2% when it gets under way in January, state officials estimate…

…The reinsurance program is expected to pool $260 million in state and federal money and use it to cover the costliest medical bills among the 250,000 Coloradans who buy their health insurance on the exchange. Taking that burden off of insurance providers will enable them to lower premiums overall.

Colorado is the ninth state to secure a federal waiver for a reinsurance program. Minnesota’s reinsurance program brought down its 2018 premiums by about 11.3%, and Alaska’s dropped by a statewide average of 26%, according to a Georgetown University Health Policy Institute report.

We noted this impressive 18% savings when figures were first projected by the Colorado Division of Insurance earlier this month. The reinsurance program is part of a broader healthcare savings plan promoted by Gov. Jared Polis and passed by Democrats in the state legislature. This reinsurance program is such a good idea, in fact, that Republican Sen. Cory Gardner is now TRYING TO TAKE CREDIT FOR IT:

This did not go over well with Colorado lawmakers such as State Sen. Kerry Donovan (D-Vail):

Likewise, Sen. Brittany Pettersen (D-Lakewood) was not amused:

 

But wait, it gets even more ridiculous. Not only did Gardner have nothing to do with this proposal — his support for getting rid of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) would ultimately kill off the reinsurance deal entirely. As the Colorado Sun reports:

That’s because the Trump Administration — the same one that is expected to sign off on the program — is also backing a lawsuit to strike down the entire Affordable Care Act, the health law that makes a lot of the funding for the reinsurance program possible…

…Earlier this month, a panel of judges at the New Orleans-based 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals heard a lawsuit brought by the state of Texas and others — with the Trump Administration’s backing — arguing that the whole Affordable Care Act should be thrown out. The argument requires its own explainer (like this one), but the upshot from the hearing was that it didn’t gowell for defenders of the health care law. A challenge to the law also known as Obamacare appears headed for the U.S. Supreme Court.

If that lawsuit ultimately succeeds, then Colorado’s reinsurance program in its current form is basically doomed. The subsidies that provide money for the program — and the entire section of federal law that the program lives under — would be gone. Lawmakers would need to do some significant tinkering just to preserve any vestige of it.

This is not the first time that Gardner has been so blatantly duplicitous on the issue of healthcare. In March 2017, Gardner was one of four Republican Senators who signed onto a letter defending the expansion of Medicaid in states like Colorado. A few months later, Gardner voted in favor of a proposal to gut the ACA that quite literally would have ended Medicaid coverage for millions of Americans.

To recap, Coloradans are going to see a major decrease in healthcare costs in 2020 thanks to Gov. Polis and Democrats in the state legislature. Senator Gardner had nothing to do with this and is supportive of federal policies that would destroy this reinsurance plan, but he’s raising his hand like a conquering hero in the meantime.

Please, don’t clap.

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Editorial Boards Across Colorado Discourage Recall Fever


For several months newspaper editorial boards from every part of Colorado have been opining against the various recall efforts underway or under consideration by right-wing activists around the state. There are now more than a dozen editorials from across Colorado encouraging readers to “just say no” to signing a recall petition. Here’s a quick look at some of the most recent offerings:

The Denver Post (7/22/19)

From the Denver Post:

This summer we urge Colorado voters to decline to sign recall petitions for three elected officials.

These men and women – Gov. Jared Polis, Sen. Brittany Pettersen of Lakewood, and Sen. Pete Lee of Colorado Springs – have done nothing nefarious, or illegal or untoward. Rather, they face recalls for their votes, or in the case of the governor his signature, on issues the petition gatherers disagree with.

These are not matters that should be decided by a special election. These are issues that should be decided by the next regular election. That’s how our Democracy works – someone is elected for a term and barring some exceedingly rare and horrendous action on the part of an elected official, they serve that term until the next election. Then voters can have their say.

Recalls are not meant to be do-over elections.

The Colorado Springs Business Journal (7/26/19)

From the Colorado Springs Business Journal:

Recall elections come with a massive price tag, and not just in terms of dollars and cents.

It’s difficult to pinpoint how much a special election — the process required under Colorado Secretary of State rules — costs on a statewide level. However, in Colorado Springs alone as recently as April, the cost of a citywide special election was estimated at a half-million dollars. It stands to reason the cost of recalling a statewide official like the governor would be exponentially higher.

“It’s far better to rein in the recalls and stop the silliness now, for the sake of good governance, for our business climate and for our state’s future.”

And that’s an untenable investment to ask of taxpayers, especially when you consider that special elections historically have low voter turnout.

Recall costs aside, the process is also disruptive to good governance. When lawmakers must constantly step lightly in order to avoid losing their jobs, what chance do they have to draft thoughtful or change-making legislation? How can we expect any level of productivity?

The Colorado Springs Independent (7/24/19)

And from the Colorado Springs Independent:

It’s a sniveling threat from some far-right interests, and it’s all because the Legislature passed and the governor signed some very progressive policies during the 2019 session.

Which leaves us with a question. At what point did we become a selfish, whiny society that has made it easier to threaten to take someone’s job away than to admit you made a mistake and change it when the opportunity arises?…

…So rather than find better candidates and prepare them for victory in 2020 and beyond, they’re whining and threatening those who are doing the job for one simple fact: They’re. Doing. Their. Jobs. When it swings back to the right, what’s to stop the far left from doing the same thing?

You get the idea. From the Pueblo Chieftain and the Greeley Tribune to the Durango Herald and the Grand Junction Sentinel, the conclusion has been the same: This recall madness is wrong and it needs to stop.

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Why “Overreach” Is The Dumbest Word In Colorado Politics


Gov. Jared Polis (D).

A new poll from Republican David Flaherty’s Magellan Strategies, who since last year’s landslide election for Democrats has been increasingly frank about the bleak future of the Colorado Republican Party given the state’s demographic and electoral trajectory, is prompting much discussion today in the local political chattering class. The poll offers quotable quotes to both sides, but ends in a conclusion you already know: Republicans are in serious trouble in this state going into next year’s election, and there’s no authentic appetite for recalling either Gov. Jared Polis or Democrats in the legislature. The Colorado Sun’s John Frank:

President Donald Trump gets low marks. Gov. Jared Polis is popular. And people lean toward thinking that the state is headed in the right direction…

“I think having President Trump at the top of the ticket is not good for any Republican running,” said Ryan Winger at Magellan Strategies, which released its poll numbers Thursday.

…In its new poll, Magellan forecasted that 36% of 2020 voters would be unaffiliated with a political party, 33% will be Democrats, 30% would be Republicans and 1% would be from other parties. So it showed a 3-point advantage to Democrats.

The Denver Post’s Nic Garcia reports beneath the obligatory headline “Democrats overreached but…”

Asked if Democrats “went too far and were out of touch with everyday Coloradans,” 45% agreed. Meanwhile, 40% of voters said Democrats did not overreach.

Despite those feelings, most voters — 47% — said they’re not interested in efforts to recall Polis or state lawmakers, according to the poll conducted by Magellan Strategies, a Republican Colorado-based firm…

The survey results, released Thursday morning, mirror earlier findings: Coloradans are generally pleased with Polis, split on the direction state is going and unhappy with President Donald Trump.

And 9NEWS’ Marshall Zelinger:

Based on the 500 survey responses, 45% felt that Polis and the legislature overreached this past session, compared to 40% who did not think so…

Unaffiliated voters are the largest bloc in Colorado, and 50% of unaffiliateds support not recalling Polis, compared to 32% who would recall him. Of the Republicans surveyed, 62% said yes compared to 24% saying no. The Democrats responded 66% no and 21% yes to a Polis recall.

The survey also showed Polis had a job approval rating of 49%, 12 points higher than those who felt he was not doing a good job. [Pols emphasis]

Practically from the moment that Colorado Democrats won in a landslide in last year’s elections, Republicans have employed the word “overreach” to describe the Democratic agenda for 2019. The theory was that Colorado voters weren’t upset with local Republicans and Republican policies so much as they were lashing out against President Donald Trump–and that despite the clear mandate for Democrats won in the 2018 elections, they would “go too far” and provoke a “grassroots backlash.”

After relentlessly beating this word into the heads of reporters, the Republican base, and as far as their message penetrates into the plurality of unaffiliated voters in Colorado who decide elections, it’s not at all surprising to see the spurious notion of “overreach” echoed back in poll numbers, much like the polling on the Affordable Care Act that consistently showed voters hated “Obamacare” but loved what the law actually did. And yes, we’ll concede that 45% of respondents agreeing Democrats “overreached” is a message win for the GOP.

But it’s a hollow victory. Even if Republicans are correct that 2018 was a referendum against Trump, dislike for the sitting Republican President greatly exceeds voter concerns about Colorado Democrats “overreaching” according to these poll numbers. Democrats ran on and were elected to pass a Democratic agenda, and Polis’ enduring high favorability is proof that staying the course was the right decision in the face of over-the-top Republican obstruction this year.

In the end, Democrats keeping their promises will never be as offensive to a majority of Colorado voters as Trump’s chaotic Presidency and the Colorado Republicans who have enabled it. That’s what this poll says most clearly, and it’s not even close.

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Governing Magazine Give Polis Props


(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Governing Magazine give an initial review of Governors elected in 2018 and their performance so far in office.  They rate Polis as among those who are “Thriving”, specifically citing his full-day kindergarten, gun control measures, oil and gas reforms, and health care cost reduction measures.

https://www.governing.com/topics/politics/gov-rookie-governors-elected-2018-thriving.html

Collaborating with a friendly legislature, Polis accomplished a significant portion of his agenda, including funding for full-day kindergarten, a gun control measure, a package of oil and gas reforms, and a variety of bills aimed at reducing health-care costs.

Polis has been more progressive than his predecessor, Democrat John Hickenlooper. But he hasn’t moved so far to the left as to hurt prospects for the state’s rising Democratic Party. Polis faces several recall efforts from the right, but they are considered a nuisance at most.

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Recalls: The Last Gasp of a Beaten Republican Party


GOP operative Ben Engen.

The 2018 election, which in Colorado was an unprecedented landslide in modern political history for Democrats, almost immediately resulted in threats by Colorado Republicans to initiate recall elections this year. Back in April, we were forwarded since-deleted video of a briefing by GOP political consultant Ben Engen of Constellation Strategies in which Engen very frankly lays out the real reason why Colorado Republicans should pursue recalls–because voters “aren’t as aware…of a special election like a recall that just comes out of nowhere and blindsides them.” Engen admitted that Republicans can’t win the seats that would be targeted in recalls in general elections, instead telling them to rely on the “re-weighting of the electorate” afforded by an “surprise” recall election.

It took a few months, but in a must-read AP wire story today running coast-to-coast local reporter James Anderson unpacks Engen’s admissions in their full context–and in so doing severely undercuts the whole strategy:

Once reserved for targeting corrupt or inept elected officials, the recall has become part of the toolkit for Republicans seeking a do-over of election results. One GOP strategist in Colorado has put a name to it — “recall season.”

“…There’s a drop-off in turnout from presidential to midterm elections, and the same thing between midterms and off-year elections,” Engen said. “Initiators of a recall can use the timing to maximize that enthusiasm gap.”

To Democrats, that’s essentially an admission that Republicans are using the recall not as a vehicle to oust corrupt officials, but rather as an attempt to game the system and flip seats they otherwise could not win in a regular election. [Pols emphasis]

“The strategists see that a recall may be the best chance of winnowing down the electorate in such a way as to sneak through a seat,” agreed Jason Bane, a Denver-based Democratic operative. “They need something that goes under the radar for it to work.”

Here’s the thing: if you’re a dyed-in-the-wool Republican only interested in politics from a team-sports perspective, Engen’s frank admission that the recalls are nothing more than an exploitation of voters’ short attention spans for political advantage isn’t a problem for you. But for regular people not already part of the daily talk radio/social media rage fest against majority Colorado Democrats who actually poll quite well, this is all they need to know to realize that recalls are a massive waste of time and money–solely for the purpose of giving angry partisans a do-over.

And that makes them much less likely to sign a recall petition.

As Anderson summarizes in today’s story, recalls are emerging as a go-to tactic in several other Western states where Republicans are in decline–like in California, where a freshman Senator was recalled in June 2018 just to deny Democrats a supermajority in that state’s legislature for a few more months. In all of these cases, recalls are being used to obstruct the clear intent of general election voters, and achieve electoral results that Republicans no longer obtain legitimately.

If you’re a Republican, and this acknowledgment that your party is in long-term decline and reliant on desperate measures to obstruct an increasingly permanent majority doesn’t trouble you, you’re not likely to be receptive to arguments that the recalls underway in Colorado constitute a gross misuse of the system. But a growing number of influential Colorado Republicans have soured on recalls after the disastrous misfire against Rep. Tom Sullivan. Editorial boards across the state are sounding off as loudly as they can. There is a scenario in which the entire recall movement simply falls apart over the next few weeks as the dubious campaigns underway die on the vine.

But whatever happens will not be a show of strength. In every way that matters, this is a story of GOP weakness.

They admit it.

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