Who Wears it Better (Theoretically)?

The U.S. Senate campaign of Democrat John Hickenlooper is out with a new Spanish-language television ad featuring former Senator and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar. As you can see yourself, there’s something…different about Salazar:

Apparently, Ken Salazar is rocking a mustache these days. Since we could all use a little lighthearted humor with the election cycle finishing up its final three weeks, we wondered how other Colorado politicians might look if they decided to change up their style by adding the ol’ face caterpillar.

Clockwise from top left: John Hickenlooper, Cory Gardner, Joe Neguse, Ken Buck, Jared Polis, Doug Lamborn

Now, we’ve long been of the opinion that politicians who want to be re-elected should avoid a mustache at all costs, but what say you, Polsters?

Click after the jump to vote on which one of these imaginary facial decorations works best…

 

(more…)

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Recall Polis 2020 Claims Over 200,000 Signatures Already

They’re the ones saying so, we’re just the messenger:

If the graphic you see above is truthful, the Recall Polis 2020 campaign would have now have in its possession somewhere in excess of 200,000 signatures, on their way to the minimum necessary 631,266 minimum number necessary by the deadline of November 13th to qualify a recall question against Gov. Jared Polis for the ballot. Just like last year, collecting that historic number of signatures would still fall well short of the 30% or more in excess needed to cover the expected percentage of invalid signatures that arise in the verification process–but presumably 631,000 is the campaign’s initial target.

The problem, of course, is that we have absolutely no way of knowing whether this claim has a basis in reality–and plenty of reasons to suspect it does not. The first thing the current recall campaign would logically try to do, assuming they’re in possession of the data, is reach out to the of signers of the 2019 Polis recall petition. That effort claimed to have collected more than 300,000 signatures after the full 60-day campaign, but the true number will never be known since they were never turned in for verification by the Secretary of State.

The thing is, an outreach campaign to those signers just by itself would be a huge logistical undertaking that there’s been no sign of actually taking place. We’re more than three weeks into this recall petition campaign, and it’s true that the campaign needs to be at well over 200,000 signatures collected to be on track for success by the deadline–but apart from this graphic that claims all is well, there’s very little sign of the field campaign that would actually be required to produce those numbers. And even if in the most charitable benefit of the doubt we assume they can get all 300,000 alleged 2019 petition signers to sign again, accounting for an early pad to their numbers, that’s going to leave them distantly short of the number needed just like 2019.

But for the sake of argument, let’s say the Recall Polis 2020 campaign is being completely honest about their numbers, and have actually managed through a herculean yet somehow concealed effort to collect over 200,000 signatures to qualify a recall election question for the ballot at some point after the 2020 elections.

Folks, do you realize how much effort is not being put into winning the election on November 3rd if this is true? The energy expended by Republicans on organizing the Polis recall petition drive on the scale they are claiming is underway now, with a deadline ten days after the election, is such a perfect diversion of resources that Democrats should raise money to help them. Any Republican with even the most minimal sense of self-preservation should be screaming at the top of their lungs to abandon this folly and focus on what actually matters while they still can.

For all of these reasons, we’ll believe it when we see the proof. And we doubt that will ever happen.

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Budget Crunch Forces State Employee Furloughs

As The Denver Post reports:

Most state employees who make more than $50,000 annually will be taking up to four furlough days before the end of the fiscal year, the governor’s office announced Tuesday.

The number of furlough days will be dependent on an employee’s salary. Some employees will be exempt, but those taking the days include the governor and lieutenant governor. Employees who are exempt include those working necessary services during the pandemic as well as those in public safety.

The State of Colorado’s fiscal year resets on July 1.

Furlough days are calculated based on an employee’s annual salary. Here’s how that works, according to a press release from the governor’s office:

Colorado State Employee furlough days

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Recall Polis 2020: Few Signs Of Life

The first bonafide photograph of a place where Colorado voters can sign a petition to recall Gov. Jared Polis–not requiring a time machine back to 2019, mind you, the 2020 Recall Polis campaign–was sent to us today from a street corner in Loveland:

That’s the only hard proof we’ve seen of any actual organizing for this latest effort, and the clock is ticking–every day these very fine people don’t collect at least 10,500 signatures (that’s 631,266 divided by 60 days), they’re falling behind the mark. We assume if there were thousands of people lining up in Loveland to sign the petition, they’d send a photo of that instead. And that’s not the worst part: a look at the Recall Polis 2020 “Find a Signing Location” page this afternoon contains a whole lot of nothing in terms of information for such populated places as Jefferson County:

Or Denver:

The good news is, you can sign at the Otero County GOP office, conveniently located 180 miles from Denver:

We just looked through the entire “directory” of signing locations, and the only two listings in the entire state direct potential recall petition signers to the La Junta GOP office and a “Save the Republic” rally Saturday in Colorado Springs. If this campaign was serious, they would have been ready with signing locations across the state to follow up the press they received this week that their petition was approved for circulation–thus capitalizing on the less critical media attention these campaigns enjoy at the outset.

But much like the last Recall Polis campaign, we’re making a mistake if we’re presuming this is a serious effort. Any thinking Republican, of course, has no time to waste organizing a futile recall during the height of election season, when every available hand and resource needs to be focused on saving Republican candidates from another impending Democratic wave. If you’re working on this recall instead of helping Republicans who are on the ballot in November, you might as well be helping Democrats.

We’re pretty sure that doesn’t matter to them. So enjoy the distraction while it lasts.

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Everything Old and Dumb is New Again (And Still Dumb)

Hey, Wyoming, you’ve got a thing hanging from the bottom of your border.

As we learned last month during the Republican National Convention, the GOP does not have a party platform in 2020. This is at least consistent with a Republican President who does not have a plan — for anything — and it seems to be inspiring Colorado Republicans to ignore plotting for the future in favor of embracing failures from the past.

Earlier this week, we learned that a group of Republican activists received approval from the Colorado Secretary of State’s office to begin collecting signatures for another attempt at recalling Gov. Jared Polis. Republicans tried to recall Polis and a bunch of other Democrats in 2019; the end result of all of this effort turned out to be four signatures in a Budweiser box.

But if recalls aren’t your thing, perhaps you could be enticed to join another secession movement.

Recent post from the “Weld County, WY” Facebook page.

There are apparently some folks in Weld County who are working on trying to figure out a way to get adopted by Wyoming. This is not going to happen, but there are 3,390 people who like the idea on Facebook enough to convince “organizers” to start the process of collecting signatures to petition the Weld County Commissioners to bail on Colorado. We can’t tell you why this group thinks the Weld County Commissioners have the authority or ability to move the county into Wyoming, but that seems to be the plan for now.

(Also, doesn’t Wyoming get a say in this transaction? Or do they just have to agree to whatever the Weld County Commissioners command?)

You might be asking WHY Weld County would want to secede from Colorado. That’s a tough question to answer, though there are several reasons listed on the Weld County, Wyoming (WCW) Facebook page:

♦ The (WCW) group links to this video — originally posted to YouTube by Colorado Pols — of the Independence Institute’s Dave Kopel saying that the passage of Senate Bill 181 would “destroy” Weld County by making it economically-unviable. Senate Bill 181 did in fact become law, and as far as we can tell, Weld County still exists. The oil and gas industry isn’t doing great in Weld County or anywhere else, but you can’t blame any Colorado legislation for that problem.

♦ Wyoming is “more conservative” and “elects more Republicans” than Colorado. This is undoubtedly true. Weld County is also not inhabited entirely by conservative Republicans, but, whatever.

♦ Wyoming has a lower cost of living than Colorado. This is also true. Unfortunately, the cost of living isn’t going to change just because you put “WY” after “Weld County.” You could change your address to “Weld County, Indonesia,” but your landlord isn’t suddenly going to lower the rent.

Back in 2013, 11 rural Colorado counties — representing about 2% of Colorado voters — actually voted on a question about seceding from Colorado and forming a new state. That proposal failed miserably, with less than 41,000 people voting “YES.” Perhaps Weld County residents will be more excited about the idea of joining Wyoming instead of creating a 51st state.

It’s not clear why secession is bubbling back to the surface now. Senator Cory Gardner seems to think that secession makes for a good talking point, but any actual attempt at seceding from Colorado is not politically-helpful for the Yuma Republican because it means that his supporters are doing something other than helping him get re-elected.

Recall Polis! Secede from Colorado! Re-elect Cory Gardner! 

In that order.

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Of Course There is Another Polis Recall Effort

This calls for the “Quad Facepalm.”

Polling data continues to indicate that Colorado Republicans are in big trouble in 2020. But instead of organizing phone banks or fundraisers in the 50 days left before Election Day, a group of GOP activists have decided to hunker down and focus instead on trying to recall Gov. Jared Polis.

Again.

You may recall that in 2019, Republicans tried to recall a half-dozen different Democrats in Colorado. All of the recall attempts failed miserably — and we do mean miserably. The Colorado Republican Party supported these efforts to varying degrees before eventually calling for a full evacuation from Hurricane Recall. That message was apparently not received by some activists, as Jesse Paul reports for The Colorado Sun:

The Colorado Secretary of State’s Office on Monday approved the petition drafted by “Recall Polis 2020,” which is tied to at least one of the people behind the failed efforts last year to remove the Democrat from office.

The organization has 60 days — or until Nov. 13 — to collect 631,266 signatures to force a special election to decide whether or not Polis, who is halfway through his first term in office, should be recalled.

Thus far, the Recall Polis 2020 issue committee, formed on June 10, reports raising only about $4,000 in cash. Organizer Lori Ann Cutunelli, of Summit County, reported donating more than $7,300 to pay for drafting the petition wording and to make a downpayment on printing costs. Additionally, a GoFundMe campaign has raised about $7,600 from 275 donors.

If you’re still worried that this new Polis recall effort might be successful, go ahead and read this paragraph:

Greg Merschel, one of the people behind Resist Polis PAC — which Coloradans Against Polis was formerly known as — is listed as one of the organizing members of Recall Polis 2020.

We’d love to explain this better, but we’d need an entire office wall and two rolls of red string to map out the lunacy in full.

Efforts at recalling Polis in 2019 did not end well, unless you measure success based on how many people you trick into writing you a check; in fact, you could make a strong argument that the primary purpose of trying to oust Polis was so that a couple of people could earn some extra cash. There were at least two separate groups claiming to be the “real” recall effort in 2019. “Resist Polis” and “Official Recall Jared Polis” sniped back and forth for months, and by the end of their “campaigns” they were openly rooting for each other to fail.

Before she was “Q*Bert,” Lauren Boebert collected Recall Polis petitions at her Rifle restaurant.

The “Resist Polis” campaign eventually held a comical press conference outside of the State Capitol in Denver, where several plastic boxes full of “petition signatures” were piled up on the West Steps as proof that “Resist Polis” did a thing. Organizers claimed to have collected more than 300,000 signatures, though they refused to submit their bounty to the Colorado Secretary of State’s office for verification. We can at least confirm that some of the boxes definitely contained pieces of paper.

Confusion about the recall Polis efforts persisted until the very end. Lauren “Q*Bert” Boebert, now the Republican nominee for Congress in CO-3, literally drove across the state so that she could be there in person when the recall petitions were (not) submitted.

When Senator Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) was asked about the recall efforts last summer, he was perplexed that Republicans would be spending time and resources focusing on work that was completely unrelated to the upcoming 2020 election. As The Denver Post reported in July 2019:

Even the state’s highest-ranking Republican officeholder, U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner, danced around the question when asked about the Polis recall.

“You know what, we gotta focus all we can on winning in 2020; getting our congressional seats back, getting our state legislature back … ,” Gardner said at a recent Republican Party event in El Paso County. “That’s where I’m at. You may agree or disagree, but boy I think we gotta get our nuts and bolts together so that we can win.”

Gardner wasn’t necessarily opposed to the idea of trying to recall Polis; he was more concerned that organizers were diverting the attention of volunteers and donors when the GOP really needed them for the actual upcoming election. This was definitely a problem for Republicans in 2019, but in 2020 it’s an outright disaster.

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GSG: Trump Down 11, Gardner Down 10

Sen. Cory Gardner and John Hickenlooper.

As the Denver Post’s Alex Burness reports as the usual mid-September anxiety sets in over the usual mid-September election year question in Colorado–“sure Democrats are ahead, but is it close?”

After a couple of polls inspired speculation that in Colorado, the race for President and our state’s U.S. Senate seat was “narrowing,” a new survey out today from Global Strategy Group for liberal group ProgressNow Colorado once again shows the Democratic candidates in both these races with the double-digit leads we’ve been accustomed to for months now:

The findings were released by the liberal advocacy group ProgressNow Colorado, which contracted with Democratic firm Global Strategy Group to conduct the survey. The pollsters surveyed 800 likely Colorado voters between Aug. 28 and Sept. 1, with a breakdown of party affiliations — 43% unaffiliated voters, 27% Republicans and 30% Democrats — that roughly mirrors the latest statewide breakdown reported by the Secretary of State’s Office. The poll has a 3.5% margin of error.

The poll finds Joe Biden leading Trump by 11 points in the presidential race. Kanye West will be on the state’s ballot in that race, too, and he received 1% support.

The poll finds that in the U.S. Senate race, Republican incumbent Gardner is down 10 points to Democratic challenger Hickenlooper, the former governor. Other recent polls have shown Gardner within single digits of Hickenlooper, including one released last week that put Gardner just five points behind. Many view Gardner as the most vulnerable Republican incumbent in the Senate, and the outcome of this race could be a deciding factor in whether Democrats can gain control of the chamber.

Read the details here. It’s a poll loaded with good news for Democrats and fans of recent Democratic policy accomplishments like the Senate Bill 217 police accountability law, which is favored by 69% of respondents, and a solid 58% approval of Gov. Jared Polis’ handling of the COVID-19 pandemic with 36% disapproving. President Donald Trump’s approval on handling the pandemic is stuck at 40% with 58% of Coloradans disapproving–and in tough news for CD-3 GOP nominee Lauren Boebert, only 8% of Coloradans have a positive view of the “QAnon” conspiracy theory.

Individual polls aren’t gospel, for anyone seeking a clear picture of any race or question polling is about informing averages. But these numbers feel pretty close to reality to us, and they’ll provide some comfort to Democrats riding out the September of their discontent.

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Gov. Jared Polis Has Finally Gone Too Far

Pueblo chiles are the best, but hopefully we can all agree this gastronomical error is not the best way to prove it to New Mexico. Chalk it up to Gov. Jared Polis’ lovable oddity, along with the polo shirt bow tie.

And then forget it ever happened.

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Big Press Day For Pat Neville’s Mask Lawsuit Cash Cow

House Minority Leader Patrick Neville, columnist Michelle Malkin.

Colorado House Minority Leader Patrick Neville announced his intention to file a lawsuit against Gov. Jared Polis’ statewide mask order over a month ago, and as the Denver Post’s Saja Hindi reports, Neville intends to file this week after a month of we have no reason to assume was not very successful fundraising:

Colorado House GOP Minority Leader Patrick Neville and conservative activist Michelle Malkin are suing Gov. Jared Polis over the statewide mask order…

“Governor Polis’ Executive Orders have been devastating to the people of Colorado,” Neville said in a statement. “People have been ordered to stay at home; their right to travel has been trampled; their right to worship has been taken away; businesses have been shut down; and countless jobs have been lost. The Governor has overstepped his Constitutional powers. We have checks and balances and Governor Polis needs to follow them.”

KDVR:

“Let’s have a thorough, full debate through all the different people,” Neville said. “Let’s get citizen input. Let’s have that process go through. Right now it’s – Polis says so. King Polis says so.”

The governor issued the following statement regarding the lawsuit:

“We are free to be on the side of a deadly virus that has taken the lives of too many friends, parents, and loved ones, or on the side of Coloradans. I’m on the side of Coloradans.”

After the initial announcement from Neville back in July soon after the mask order was issued, we didn’t hear much about this until yesterday–not that anyone expected he wouldn’t follow through. We don’t how much money Neville raised over the last month to finance this lawsuit, but given the degree of generalized agitation on the far right for which masks have become a focal point, we’re not going to underestimate the possibility that it could be a lot. Since the funds appear to have been raised through Neville’s independent expenditure committee Take Back Colorado, we should find out eventually how much was raised during the period.

The announcement that nationally prominent right-wing columnist Michelle Malkin is joining the lawsuit as a co-plaintiff is sure to attract a lot more fringe attention to the effort. Malkin’s increasingly close association with the GOP House Minority Leader, even after Malkin was cancelled by mainstream conservatives once she became an unapologetic defender of Holocaust denial and openly white supremacist alt-right leaders, is of course not a good look for any Colorado Republican hoping to appeal to non-racist, mask mandate-supporting voters–who despite the disproportionate noise made by the COVIDiot fringe are in every poll the overwhelming majority. Also, the governor very clearly has the power to enact a mask order under Colorado law.

But again, in discussing the actual issue here, we’re missing the point. For the sputtering Neville political machine, it’s not even about Republicans winning anymore–2018 and the 2020 Republican primaries settled that question.

It’s about faking relevance, and keeping the funds rolling in.

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Polis Keeps Eviction Balls Juggling While DC Dawdles

President Trump and Gov. Jared Polis.

As the Denver Post’s Alex Burness reports, Gov. Jared Polis took action yesterday to extend the limited protections that have been in place giving renters in Colorado more notice of impending eviction proceedings–short of the full eviction moratorium affordable housing and civil rights advocates are calling for, and as a result not pacifying the growing discontent on Polis’ left over the issue:

Gov. Jared Polis has extended an executive order that requires that Colorado landlords must, for at least one more month, give tenants 30 days’ notice before pursuing evictions.

The normal rule requires only 10 days’ notice. Vulnerable tenants deserve a little extra wiggle room now, Polis wrote in his extension, because, “many Coloradans continue to experience substantial loss of income as a result of business closures and layoffs, hindering their ability to keep up with their rent payments through no fault of their own.”

…The order does not prevent evictions. They have restarted in most of the state, though eviction defense advocates and some Democratic lawmakers continue to push Polis to temporarily ban them. He’s resisted those calls because, he told reporters recently, he believes people should generally be back at work and thus able to cover rent.

So far, the large wave of evictions that experts do expect will inevitably result from the economic disruption of the spring and summer has not materialized. A major factor in this delayed pain is the extended unemployment benefits unemployed workers have received since the passage of the CARES Act in March, which expired at the end of July and are set to be cut by at least one-third after Donald Trump’s actions this weekend–along with the $1,200 per person stimulus checks most taxpayers have by now received and long spent.

Gov. Polis’ management of the crisis faced by renters in this state reflects an attempt to hit a “moving target” of minimal disruption–meaning property owners can still control their properties–while trying to slow down evictions for nonpayment of rent for as long as needed to allow renters to recover and meet their obligations. This strategy depends, among other variables, on the federal government continuing to provide the economic stimulus that has kept American households going since March–and for the economy to recover rapidly enough for paycheck-to-paycheck workers to get their already-behind balance sheets current. Nuanced management of the problem and taking sweeping action only when necessary has characterized Polis’ leadership throughout the COVID-19 pandemic–and while it’s not as satisfying as headline-making executive orders, the outcome so far suggests that it has worked.

But as we’re seeing today in D.C.’s chaos over the next round of stimulus, this calculation is not without risk. If the wave of evictions that everyone agrees is looming can be staved off long enough, in theory the net effects can be mitigated by recovery and aggressive assistance. In the end, however, success depends in part on factors that Gov. Polis doesn’t control.

We hope enough things go right that Polis’ “just in time” strategy doesn’t go wrong.

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Polis Scores Significant Win For Environment, Gets No Credit

Colorado Public Radio reported Friday on an agreement brokered by Gov. Jared Polis to keep another round of confrontational oil and gas ballot measures off the 2020 ballot, in order to give one of the biggest achievements of Polis’ term in office so far, Senate Bill 19-181 reforming oil and gas permitting in the state to prioritize public health, a chance to work:

According to Polis, the agreement is meant to allow for the full implementation of SB19-181, an overhaul of oil and gas regulations he signed in 2019.

“Let’s give SB181 a chance to work, and let’s see the full effects of the law instead of returning to the same old ballot box wars that this legislation was designed to avoid,” the governor wrote.

Protect Colorado, a political group funded by oil and gas companies, confirmed it planned to drop two ballot initiatives likely headed to voters in the fall. One is Initiative 284, which would have blocked local governments from limiting natural gas hookups in new buildings. The other is Initiative 304, which would have required fiscal impact statements attached to future ballot initiatives…

Kelly Nordini, executive director of Conservation Colorado, said her group participated in the discussion along with the League of Oil and Gas Impacted Citizens and Western Colorado Alliance. They all agreed not to back regulatory reforms on the 2020 or 2022 ballot. That said, she added that Conservation Colorado will not pause other efforts to combat climate change or limit the health impacts of oil and gas development.

Gov. Jared Polis (D).

After the over-the-top initial political reaction to the passage of SB181 last year, which ended in a string of embarrassing failed recall attempts against Gov. Polis and Democratic lawmakers, the oil and gas industry belatedly admitted that the law had not “destroyed the oil and gas industry” as its opponents breathlessly insisted it would before passage. Since SB181 has taken effect, historic declines in the price of oil and gas have disrupted the industry in Colorado far more than any regulatory burden ever could.

The collapse of fossil fuel prices in 2020 has led to bankruptcies and acquisitions across the industry, and the players who lavishly funded pro oil and gas measures like 2018’s ill-conceived Amendment 74 don’t have the means to throw tens of millions at a statewide ballot initiative in Colorado–and if they do, the return on that investment has dwindled even if they are successful to the point of mootness. With all of this in mind, the industry’s new tune that they’re going to “allow SB181 to work through the regulatory process and work for Colorado” is more an acknowledgement of reality than it is good faith.

Despite this significant win for Gov. Polis, we were struck by curious editorializing in some coverage of this deal–a good example being the Colorado Sun’s ever-contrarian John Frank:

Gov. Jared Polis declared a truce in the oil and gas wars in Colorado — but once again it appears to be an illusion.

Here’s the problem with this lede: because environmentalist groups had already announced that their proposed ballot measures were not going forward due to the difficulty in gathering signatures this year, the only net effect of Gov. Polis’ agreement is the withdrawal of the pro-industry measures. In Gov. Polis’ op-ed announcing the deal, he doesn’t claim that any final agreement for 2022 has been reached–only that the groups involved “have committed to withdraw current ballot measures filed for 2020 and have expressed a willingness to work together to prevent future ballot measures through 2022.” Frank quotes some of the groups who had already withdrawn their 2020 measures, and they won’t commit to a plan for 2022 yet.

And that’s fine, because this deal is about giving SB181 a chance to work in 2021.

All told, this agreement marks the biggest win for Gov. Polis on energy policy since the original passage of SB181, and clears the way for the law to prove itself instead of being hyped out of earthly proportion for political gain. The oil and gas industry’s assent is further proof that the hyperbolic warnings of doom and gloom over SB181 bill were false.

But above all, it’s a sign that this industry’s power over Colorado politics in general is waning.

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Pat Neville’s Mask Lawsuit All About The Benjamins

Colorado House Minority Leader Patrick Neville (R).

As we we discussed last week and Colorado Public Radio reported, Republican House Minority Leader Patrick Neville threatened a lawsuit on Thursday in response to the statewide face mask executive order issued by Gov. Jared Polis, which came after weeks of pleading by public health authorities to take this additional step as COVID-19 cases grow in the state:

House Minority Leader Patrick Neville tweeted that Polis was “on a power trip,” and said he had hired attorneys with “the intent to sue” for an alleged violation of civil liberties, though he didn’t give any further details about the potential lawsuit.

In a separate written statement that didn’t mention legal action, Neville asserted that the order is unnecessary because Colorado’s COVID-19 infections, hospitalizations and deaths are still lower than their April peak.

Although Neville “didn’t give any further details” about his impending lawsuit against Gov. Polis’ mask order, yesterday on Facebook what’s probably the most important component of the whole operation went live.

The fundraising page!

You knew this was coming: “lawsuits aren’t cheap,” and in this case as unlikely to be successful as any of the Neville political clans other recent failed stunts (see: recall of Rep. Tom Sullivan, et al)–but as the organizers of the stillborn recall attempt against Gov. Polis last year can tell you and P.T. Barnum can tell you, there’s a sucker born every minute! The Nevilles have figured out that win or lose, usually the latter, there’s cash to be raised by slapping Polis’ picture on an ad with the words “stop this guy.”

Democrats should of course celebrate Neville’s anti-mask crusade, since it further divorces the Republican brand from the mainstream majority of Coloradans who support masks and any other measure needed to slow the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Given the money spent by fellow Republicans during the recently-concluded primary to take out Neville’s favored House candidates, and a significant reduction in money flowing into the House GOP’s Neville-owned “independent” messaging group Values First Colorado, we don’t doubt that the Neville clan needs to get creative to make payroll.

As always, it is our sincere hope that nobody sends Pat Neville their welfare check.

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Big Oil’s Presumption Of Your Stupidity Is Apparently Endless

Bizwest’s Dan Mika via the Greeley Tribune has a story up today with what may honestly be the dumbest headline you’ll see this week, and in 2020 that is no small achievement:

Dan Haley of COGA.

That’s right, readers, with a straight face, Dan Haley of the Colorado Oil and gas Association wants you to believe that a 2019 law incrementally prioritizing public health over drill-baby-drilling in Colorado has done more to damage the oil and gas industry than the global demand for oil plunging to levels so low it become unaffordable to store current production, let alone produce more oil:

BizWest previously reported oil producers in Weld County cut production by around 60% and plugged thousands of wells between March and April, as the COVID pandemic and resulting stay-at-home orders reduced the need for fuel to power cars on commutes, planes in the sky and destabilization in transport and freight supply chains.

That sudden and dramatic drop in domestic demand was matched by a production and price war during the two months between Saudi Arabia and Russia, the world’s second and third-largest oil producer nations behind the U.S., further depressing global oil prices.

Dan Haley, president of the Colorado Oil and Gas Association, said the state had about 20 rigs drilling new wells across the state at the start of 2019, but between COVID and the implementation of sweeping oil regulations from Senate Bill 181, those active rigs have fallen to five across Colorado. He attributes that decline to Gov. Jared Polis and SB 181 supporters.

Got that? The chief talking head for the oil and gas industry in Colorado actually wants you to believe that the decline in oil and gas drilling in Colorado is not attributable to this:

But rather because one state responsible for a small percentage of the total output of the U.S. oil industry tightened up our permitting process for new wells a little. Now, we know that the industry’s many well-compensated defenders in this state are excited to start firing off densely worded justifications for this ridiculous claim, how the fractionally higher cost of compliance that can be reasonably expected from prioritizing public health and safety over “fostering” more oil and gas production means Colorado’s oil and gas industry is somehow more wounded by the historic plunge in the price of oil than, say, Texas.

But that doesn’t change the bottom line: the price of oil fell so low this year that no one on Earth could drill for it profitably–and Senate Bill 19-181 had nothing to do with that development. If the price of oil supports profitable extraction, the industry will comply with whatever rules they have to in order to extract it. And if the price of oil is so low that companies can’t make money drilling for it no matter what the rules for drilling for it are, which it has been for much of this year, due to factors entirely beyond the control of anyone in Colorado?

The free market is what dictates we leave it in the ground, not Jared Polis.

If the oil and gas industry expects sympathy for its plight in 2020, they first need to be honest about it.

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Get More Smarter on Friday (June 26)

Don’t look now, but we’re rounding the bend of June and rolling into July already. 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/visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show or The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter.

 

BECAUSE CORONAVIRUS…

*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

 

***If you still have a Primary Election ballot at home, don’t put it in the mail! Go to GoVoteColorado.com to find a ballot drop off location near you.*** 

 

It might still be the first wave. Maybe it’s a second wave. The number doesn’t really matter, because the important part is that the COVID-19 is still growing in the United States with 40,000 new cases being reported. Texas is seeing a huge spike in coronavirus cases, as is Arizona — two Republican-led states in the southwest that were too anxious to reopen without making sure it was safe to do so.

The Washington Post explains how Arizona lost control of the pandemic:

Maricopa County, which includes Phoenix, is recording as many as 2,000 cases a day, “eclipsing the New York City boroughs even on their worst days,” warned a Wednesday brief by disease trackers at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, which observed, “Arizona has lost control of the epidemic.”

But physicians, public health experts, advocates and local officials say the crisis was predictable in Arizona, where local ordinances requiring masks were forbidden until Gov. Doug Ducey (R) reversed course last week. State leaders did not take the necessary precautions or model safe behavior, these observers maintain, even in the face of compelling evidence and repeated pleas from authoritative voices.

“We have failed on so many levels,” said Dana Marie Kennedy, the Arizona director of AARP, who said her organization has yet to receive a response to four letters outlining concerns to the governor. She is working on a fifth.

Neither the governor’s office nor the state health department responded to requests for comment.

Florida — another Republican-led state — is slowing down its reopening process because of a surge in cases; on Friday, Florida reported nearly 9,000 new cases (the state’s previous daily high was 5,500).

Colorado has also seen an uptick in coronavirus cases, but not nearly to the extend of neighboring states. Within Colorado, El Paso County is one of the worst-hit areas; it’s not a coincidence that El Paso is a solid-red Republican county.

At the White House today, Vice President Mike Pence will provide a media briefing on the nation’s coronavirus response…the first such briefing IN TWO MONTHS.

President Trump, meanwhile, is apparently watching an entirely different movie than everyone else:

 

President Trump is hemhoraging support. As a new NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll finds, Trump’s disapproval ratings have reached an all-time high:

Trump’s approval rating sits at just 40% overall, while a record 58% disapprove.

What’s more, a whopping 49% of voters “strongly disapprove” of the job Trump is doing. That kind of intensity of disapproval is a record never before seen for this president or any past one. [Pols emphasis]

So much winning! The #1 most disliked President ever!

 

Sticking with the subject of political polling, 9News released new data on Thursday showing that the race for the Democratic U.S. Senate nomination is pretty much over. According to data from SurveyUSA, former Gov. John Hickenlooper is a 2-to-1 favorite over former House Speaker Andrew Romanoff ahead of Tuesday’s Primary Election.

 

Hickenlooper is probably not going to beat Romanoff by 30 points, but as the saying goes, you can tell the “fat lady” to start warming up.

 

Political suicide. On Thursday the Trump administration announced another boneheaded decision that one Republican consultant called “pretty dumb” earlier this week. As The Washington Post reports:

The Trump administration asked the Supreme Court late on Thursday to overturn the Affordable Care Act, telling the court that “the entire ACA must fall.” The administration’s argument comes as hundreds of thousands of Americans have turned to the government program for health care as they’ve lost jobs during the coronavirus pandemic.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) responded to the brief by saying there is “no moral excuse for the Trump Administration’s disastrous efforts to take away Americans’ health care.” Dismantling the ACA would leave more than 23 million people without healthcare plans, according to a recent analysis by the liberal-leaning think tank Center for American Progress.

“President Trump and the Republicans’ campaign to rip away the protections and benefits of the Affordable Care Act in the middle of the coronavirus crisis is an act of unfathomable cruelty,” Pelosi, who on Wednesday filed a bill to expand the ACA, said in a statement.

Again, the Trump administration is making a big show of trying to take away health insurance for millions of people in the midst of an historic global pandemic that is pummeling the United States. Is Trump trying to lose in 2020?

This is also bad news for Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma), who has repeatedly voiced support for destroying the ACA through the courts.

 

If you’re looking for political news that isn’t about Coronavirus, it’s available right after the jump…

 

(more…)

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Endnotes: The Ridiculous Hullaballoo Over Senate Bill 163

Measles.

In today’s The Spot newsletter, Denver Post political reporter Alex Burness offers some useful context as the battle over Senate Bill 163, legislation to improve Colorado’s bottom-in-the-nation childhood immunization rates, comes to a successful conclusion for proponents:

[I]t has taken a Democrat-controlled General Assembly two years to muster support to pass a bill that allows parents to… still not vaccinate their kids.

This year’s bill preserves the right to nonmedical exemptions. You just have to take an online education course first. The opponents aren’t happy about that, but the bottom line is that no parent is going to be forced to watch a needle be plunged into their kid, even after this bill passes.

Other states have stricter policies; some allow no exemptions except for medical reasons. Colorado lawmakers have concluded that this is not a legislative option here, which is a credit to A) the governor’s stated “pro-choice” stance on vaccines and B) the fervent activism of the vaccine bill’s opponents.

Burness argues that the passage of SB-163, even though opponents have vowed to mount a repeal ballot initiative campaign to prevent the law from taking effect, betrays a hard limit on the ability of today’s lawmakers to take effective action even on an issue with overwhelming majority support–due to the fierce opposition of a small but vocal minority. Vaccines are not the only issue for which this appears to be the case. Even though the public strongly supports common-sense gun safety laws that our state is a model for today, passage of those bills resulted in a backlash from the passionate minority of gun rights activists that led to the successful recall of two Democratic Senators in 2013 and the resignation of a third.

One of the biggest problems with both this year’s modest vaccine bill as well as 2013’s gun safety bills is that the opposition was (and is) completely untethered from the facts about the legislation. Just as Republican lawmakers told the public in 2013 that the gun bills would “effectively ban gun ownership,” many of the protesters who turned out against Senate Bill 163 believe the bill does away with non-medical exemptions from school vaccination requirements. Although a majority of the public would support doing just that according to polls, SB-163 does not eliminate exemptions available for any or no reason.

There were a lot of variables involved in the drafting of this legislation, not least of which is a governor reticent to impose “medical mandates” on families. Gov. Jared Polis is expected to sign SB-163 precisely because it does not coerce anyone to get any vaccine. The gulf between perception and reality with this bill among its opponents is not the fault of Gov. Polis, however, and the Republican lawmakers who have eagerly embraced the “anti-vaxxer” movement in opposition to this bill are the ones making no attempt to give opponents factual information.

With that, we’ll ask our readers: is there any way to prevent the tail from wagging the dog? Will the fringe always wield disproportionate influence simply because of their ability to yell louder and longer? And will passing a modest reform now make further reforms that would still enjoy broad public support harder to pass later?

These are all questions worth answering as the dust settles on this particularly crazy fight.

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Polis Rips Trump Threat To Send In Army, Gardner Silent

Gov. Jared Polis (D).

As the Denver Post’s Jon Murray reports:

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis said Tuesday that violence during recent nightly protests in Denver overshadowed demonstrators’ “righteous” message, but he rebuked calls by President Donald Trump and others to activate the military to put down civil unrest in cities across the country.

“This is not China. This is not Tiananmen Square. And that’s not leadership,” Polis said early in an afternoon briefing on the coronavirus pandemic. “That’s just creating more of the very division that we need to prevent and heal from and bridge. To create real systemic change, we all need to come together.”

Westword’s Michael Roberts:

In these introductory remarks, Polis didn’t specifically mention Trump, but later in his talk, he made it clear that the president’s assertions were at the top of his mind. He suspects that Trump’s threat about troops shows that he “has become so isolated in the White House, in the ivory tower, that he doesn’t understand what’s going on in our streets.” After lauding those who helped clean up after vandalism near the State Capitol, Polis stressed that “part of leadership is feeling and understanding the anguish and pain that so many Americans feel — Americans who believed we lived in a better America, one that had overcome many aspects of our legacy of racism stemming back to the days of slavery.”

As for Trump’s suggestion that governors unwilling to assert “dominance” over protesters show that they’re “weak,” Polis stated, “Even those who support his policies often question his careless use of words and rhetoric” — a habit that predates his tenure as president, he allowed.

Gov. Jared Polis has earned both praise and some criticism in recent months for avoiding direct confrontation with President Donald Trump, even in situations where it would be entirely reasonable and appropriate to do so. The reason for this is simple: angering Trump for any reason risks provoking his arbitrary and capricious wrath, and the possibility of real world consequences for the state from a governor failing to get along with this President during the emergencies plaguing the year 2020 makes challenging his daily verbal assaults on decency more trouble than the headlines would be worth.

In this case, however, Trump’s threat to use military force against American civilians is egregious enough that even Trump’s own Secretary of Defense Mark Esper came out against it in an interview last night. Such high-level dissent within Trump’s own White House appears to have given Gov. Polis latitude to let his real feelings show a bit.

Sen. Cory Gardner, on the other hand, can’t even show the backbone of Trump’s own Secretary of Defense.

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Neville to Push Bill Limiting Governor’s Authority to Issue Public-Health Orders

(#COVID4Colorado – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Colorado House Minority Leader Patrick Neville (R).

Colorado Republicans plan to push for legislation limiting Gov. Jared Polis’ authority to issue public-health orders to 15 days, after which time Polis or a future governor would need to get the green light from the state legislature to extend orders any longer.

State House Republican leader Patrick Neville of Castle Rock said at a news conference and on KCOL radio that he and fellow Republicans plan next week, when the legislative session resumes, to begin “pushing back on the governor’s authority, making sure that after 15 days he actually has legislative approval to continue on with his emergency powers.”

When Arapahoe County area District Attorney George Brauchler called on lawmakers earlier this month to push this type of legislation, a professor of medicine and public health at the University of Colorado School of Medicine called it a “sad” illustration of how the response to the pandemic is being converted into a “partisan issue.”

Brauchler called for a “liberty-loving legislator” to offer a “bill to claw back the massive authority given to the governor.”

Brauchler appears to have found his lawmaker in Neville, who’s one of the highest-ranking Republicans in Colorado.

Neville, who’s falsely alleged that masks “don’t accomplish anything,” said on air that the GOP plans to run a bill that “essentially says ‘the governor can only have emergency authority for 15 days. After 15 days, he has to go back and seek legislative approval.'”

Neville acknowledged his proposed legislation probably won’t move forward this year, because it will be considered a late bill that can’t advance without the approval of the Democratic majority, which, he says, will not allow it.

Republicans Target November Election

In light of the likely paralysis of his proposal to strip Polis of his authority to issue pubic-health orders, Neville tried to turn Republicans’ attention to the upcoming election.

Neville said he saw this situation coming, and that’s why he was involved in the failed recall campaigns last year in Colorado

“This is a big reason we were active in the recall elections a year ago and why we were trying to push back, because we saw a lot of this happening,” said Neville on air. “We never thought it would actually get to this point.”

“We really need people to be on the ground fighting for Republicans in elections,” he continued. “If we don’t at least close the gap on Democrat control, then we will probably never solve this.”

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Delta County Commish Hopes There’s No Violence, But…


Don Suppes.

Here’s a video we were forwarded of Delta County Commissioner Don Suppes, who readers east of the Divide probably remember better a fierce Republican opponent to now-Sen. Kerry Donovan from her tough SD-5 election in 2014. Suppes, speaking at a “Reopen Colorado” rally Saturday along with Rep. Matt Soper and other local GOP luminaries, railed against Gov. Jared Polis and called on supporters to “put pressure” on the state government–saying he “prays to God” that “we can get this resolved without getting violent.”

The implied threat in these words is of course very clear. Affecting disdain for violence and then immediately offering sympathetic justifications for that violence is tantamount to threatening violence. Suppes knows this, and his open-carrying audience last weekend knew it too. When the press comes calling, this tacit understanding is strenuously denied even though all parties know what’s going on. It’s a game as old as closeted racism itself.

Apropos on the subject of racism, in 2014 now-Commissioner Suppes was hit with revelations of racist social media activity–for which he concocted an elaborate “rogue staffer” defense that was a bit too convoluted to believe. The incident contributed with other scandals to Suppes’ narrow loss to Donovan that year. Suppes’ political brand is all about this kind of shock-jock conservatism, so it can’t be considered out of character.

Gov. Polis has got a nice state here, and we too hope nothing bad happens to it.

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You’ll Decide: Reality-Based Fiscal Policy Or Bloodletting

Under controversially relaxed signature-gathering rules in place to maximize voter participation during the ongoing pandemic, two opposing campaigns are petitioning to get on the November ballot with initiatives that can be credibly called tax cuts–or at least tax cuts for the overwhelming majority of Colorado residents. One measure, Initiative 271 (but don’t memorize that number because it will be different on the ballot), cuts the state’s income tax from 4.63% to 4.58% for everyone who makes less than $250,000 a year. For the wealthiest, the rate goes up to 7%–a move toward a progressive income tax structure used by a majority of states and the federal government. The net effect is a $2 billion increase in state revenue to help offset the enormous cuts coming even after federal COVID-19 economic stimulus factors in.

The other initiative is Initiative 306, an across the board tax cut to 4.5% regardless of income. This initiative is being run by the Independence Institute, the arch-conservative “stink tank” which has quarterbacked the opposition to every attempt to increase revenue for the state of Colorado since the 1980s. In his press release Monday announcing the launch of 306, Independence Institute honcho Jon Caldara makes it abundantly clear that his initiative is about muddying the waters for voters considering Initiative 271:

“The Colorado economy —pre-COVID-19— was on fire thanks to our Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights and our flat state income tax,” said Jon Caldara, President of the Independence Institute, and co-ballot proponent of the tax rate reduction. “We look forward to giving the voters a real choice [Pols emphasis] between a progressive tax increase which will be billed as a middle-class tax cut, and a real tax cut for every Coloradan. Question is: which one is actually the tax cut? Hint: Not the ballot question that starts “Shall state taxes be increased $2,000,000,000 annually…”

“We think that a small tax cut for everyone makes a lot more sense than a $2 billion tax increase,” said Michael Fields, Executive Director of Colorado Rising State Action. “And even if both pass, the tax cut only has to win by one vote over the tax hike to be implemented. So, we like our chances.”

Jon Caldara.

The context for these initiatives, of course, is the biggest fiscal crisis faced by the state of Colorado at least since the Great Depression. The estimated $3 billion shortfall lawmakers are wrestling with today is expected to be partially offset by federal economic stimulus, but not enough to close the gap completely–and certainly not in a recurring manner to meet the ongoing need. The state has faced a looming revenue shortfall for many years, resulting from the throttling effect on revenue growth over time relative to the need created by the 1992 Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights (TABOR). TABOR’s labyrinthine limits and regulations on revenue growth, and stilted language requirements the ballot questions it mandates for any tax increase, created a growing gap between need and revenue supply that the COVID-19 economic crisis has severely exacerbated. Colorado’s budget is already very tight, and the pandemic is a fiscal disaster the state can’t afford.

With this in mind, Colorado voters have to ask themselves a simple question: who has our state’s best interests at heart? Supporters of a measure to cut taxes for just about everybody while raising more net revenue the state desperately needs–or those who think the solution to a grave fiscal crisis is to make the crisis worse? Like with other extremely ill-advised ballot measures in previous years, like 2010’s infamous “Bad Three” or 2018’s nightmarish Amendment 74 which would have crippled local governments to empower the oil and gas industry, we’re obliged to trust the wisdom of Colorado voters to see through the misdirection. It’s honestly helpful when the bad actors admit up front like Caldara did here that they’re playing a political shell game instead of proposing serious policy.

Conservatives rely on the axiom that while voters may want the vital services government provides, they hate paying for them. That’s the unspoken presumption that turned TABOR into a blunt weapon against government instead of a tool to encourage responsible government. In Colorado, tax increase measures have slowly increased their percentage in consecutive losing efforts, reflecting the slow progress of years of educational efforts mounted by progressive fiscal policy groups as well as the state’s leftward-shifting electorate in general.

In 2020, this old battle will be fought once again. In a changed world, with higher stakes.

And we’ll find out if the old tricks still work for Caldara and friends.

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Even More Drain-Circling Poll Numbers For Cory Gardner

As the Denver Post’s Justin Wingerter reported Saturday, a new survey of Colorado voters shows solidifying trendlines indicated by previous polls–high marks for Gov. Jared Polis, relatively favorable opinion of the Democratic majority in the Colorado legislature ahead of next week’s “grand reopening,” and positively brutal numbers for Sen. Cory Gardner and President Donald Trump:

“This isn’t 2014, when Cory Gardner was a relative blank slate with the national winds at his back,” said Andrew Baumann, a Denver-based pollster with Global Strategy Group, a Democratic firm. “Colorado voters now clearly understand that Gardner has put his loyalty to Trump ahead of Coloradans, which has left him well-defined in a very negative way — and with a deeply unpopular albatross hanging around his neck.”

Baumann and Global Strategy Group surveyed 800 registered voters in Colorado online between May 7 and 11. They found 37% of voters approve of the job Gardner is doing, which is lower than the 41% of Colorado voters who approve of the job Trump is doing. Thirty percent approved of Gardner’s work on coronavirus response.

There’s a lot of data to unpack in the latest issue of the Rocky Mountaineer, and if that’s not enough you can further digest the details here. Highlights include a declining approval rating for Donald Trump, a double-digit lead for Joe Biden, John Hickenlooper’s name ID owning the Democratic Senate primary, and great news for Democrats in the Colorado General Assembly looking to expand their majority even beyond 2018’s historic wins. As for Cory Gardner, his sub-Trump approval rating is a continuing sign that he is weak on both flanks–and his base support is heavily dependent on his continued fealty to Trump, even though Gardner’s servility to Trump seals his doom with many more voters.

That all looks right to us, folks.

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Polis and the President: A Mutually Beneficial Exercise

President Trump and Gov. Jared Polis yesterday.

Colorado Public Radio’s Caitlyn Kim kicks off our coverage recap of yesterday’s visit by Gov. Jared Polis to the White House, which appears to have been successful for the state in terms of obtaining supplies to respond to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic–an issue deep in political subtext for President Donald Trump, Sen. Cory Gardner, and other Republicans in the room with Gov. Polis yesterday:

Trump said Polis and North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum have done a “fantastic” job starting to lift social distancing measures and allow economic activity to ramp up…

Following a public discussion, the press left the room and the governors had a private conversation with the president and other state and federal officials. In a press conference following that, Polis told reporters he felt the need pursue all “possible options” for supplies for Colorado and it wasn’t an opportunity he could pass up. Polis said he was asked to talk about Colorado’s needs and update the president.

Polis said that he did not feel it was “a time to air differences on unrelated policies.” [Pols emphasis] He said both political leaders shared a single foe: the new coronavirus.

The Aurora Sentinel’s Kara Mason details some of the commitments Gov. Polis obtained:

Among the commitments Polis said he was able to secure from the federal government during his trip is approximately 96,000 tests, which he said will aid in the state’s goal to amp up testing to nearly 10,000 per day…

More deliveries of protective gear, including masks, from FEMA is anticipated to be delivered to the state for nursing home workers, Polis said, adding that he’s urged the federal government to continue that program into June and July.

But as Alex Burness of the Denver Post reports, yesterday’s meeting was not without its misinformation:

Trump also spoke against all-mail voting.

“It’s subject to tremendous corruption — cheating,” he said.

Colorado, which is at the vanguard of the all-mail voting trend, has shown that this is not true. [Pols emphasis] The state is widely regarded as one of the safest places in the country to vote, and the practice has been touted by Republican and Democratic state election officials alike. It’s also increased voter participation.

Speaking after the meeting, Gov. Polis made it clear that his purpose yesterday was not to challenge President Trump’s inaccurate statements, rebuke the administration for its deficiencies, or engage the President at all on issues unrelated to pandemic response:

“I’m here to advocate around COVID-19, around coronavirus, not to get into a debate or correct the president when he makes inaccurate statements about the reliability of mail-in voting,” Polis said in a press call after the meeting.

He clearly made an effort not to rankle the president. Asked whether he was impressed by Trump, Polis said, “He’s the president that we have,” three times in a 14-second span. [Pols emphasis]

We’ve seen a number of different reactions to Gov. Polis’ meeting with President Trump yesterday, ranging from relief that Polis stayed focused on productive discussions instead of sparring politically to irritation that Polis let any number of serious problems with the federal government’s management of the pandemic slide despite a golden opportunity to challenge Trump on national television. For our part, we expected Polis to stay professional in his dealings with the administration, as he has from the beginning of the emergency so as not to arouse the President’s wrath–and we would have been more surprised if Polis had turned this meeting into a pissing match with America’s undisputed pissing match titleholder.

Obviously the President benefits politically from a positively-framed meeting with a Democratic governor, but Polis benefits too: we have to think that Trump’s effusive praise for Gov. Polis’ controversial reopening of the state, ahead of any other Democratic governor, will help mollify the far right in Colorado led by GOP House Minority Leader Patrick Neville who have been clamoring for Polis’ political head. The shrill, distasteful attacks on Polis from high-ranking Colorado Republicans like Neville have gone on ignorant of the reality that Polis is taking a big risk to do exactly what they want. They won’t hear it from Polis, but maybe they’ll hear it from Trump.

If this all leaves you feeling a bit unsatisfied politically, it’s understandable. But it’s important to keep in mind what both Trump and Polis were looking for get out of this meeting. Trump earns one somewhat less scandalous news event–certainly not enough to overcome the overwhelming view of Americans that Trump’s pandemic response is a failure. Trump’s fictional characterization of mail ballots seems to have been fact-checked and debunked in real time by most news stories that mention it. Meanwhile, Polis gets cover from the very top against the fringe-right hordes turning out to protest and commitments for more equipment the state needs, while solidifying his reputation for staying cool in moments of political adversity.

As long as the numbers–for once we’re not talking about poll numbers–keep moving the right direction, Gov. Polis and Colorado come out ahead here. And we hope there’s nobody on either side who wants to bet against that.

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Brauchler’s Proposal to Roll Back Polis’ Power Shows How Pandemic Is Being “Converted into a Partisan Issue”

(It would be cool if Brauchler spent this much time on his real job — Promoted by Colorado Pols)

In a proposal that one health expert is calling a “sad” illustration of how the response to the pandemic is being converted into a “partisan issue,” Arapahoe County area District Attorney George Brauchler is urging lawmakers to roll back Gov. Jared Polis’ (D-CO) power to fight the COVID-19.

“I think Gov. Polis ought to convene a task force to say, ‘How can we trim back my authority,'” said Brauchler recently on his Saturday morning “George Show” on KNUS radio. “You know that will never happen. We need to re-look at these public health orders. We need to look at how we give authority to these people.” “Which liberty-loving legislator from either party will stand up and begin this important and needed conversation by offering a bill to claw back the massive authority given to the governor?” wrote Brauchler in a Denver Post opinion today.

Matthew Wynia, a Professor of Medicine and Public Health at the University of Colorado School of Medicine, says proposals like Brauchler’s are an “illustration of how the response [to the pandemic] has been increasingly converted into a partisan issue.”

“That’s sad because it shouldn’t be partisan,” Wynia wrote in an email to the Colorado Times Recorder. “Both Republicans and Democrats are dying of this illness – and we all care about the people in our families and communities who are at particular risk.”

“Also,” continued Wynia, “people in both parties are equally concerned with re-opening society as quickly as possible and reducing the harms the shut-down is creating, which are very real and which should not be downplayed at all. No one wants to keep the shut down in place, and no one is talking about keeping it in place forever or even indefinitely. The argument is whether to keep measures in place until we have the numbers going down, when we can do adequate testing and tracing, and when our health care system is ready for the inevitable increase in cases that will come with re-opening.

In questioning the wisdom of Colorado laws that give the governor broad power to respond to public health emergencies, Brauchler is aligning with Republicans across the country who are proposing legislation and filing lawsuits to roll back pandemic-related orders, like closing restaurants and requiring residents to shelter-in-place and wear masks.

In Colorado, Brauchler, who briefly ran for governor in 2018 before dropping out to launch a failed bid to be the state’s attorney general, appears to be the highest-profile Republican who’s proposing to trim Polis’ power.

State Rep. Rod Pelton, a conservative Republican from Eastern Colorado, said last month he’d like the General Assembly to “roll back” the governor’s power to issue public-health orders. He’d like to start on this when the legislature resumes next week, but it might have to wait until next year, he said.

Wynia called the type of legislative effort proposed by Pelton and Brauchler “purely political messaging” that has “no chance of success since the Democrats control both houses.”

“In that regard, it’s a waste of time at a moment when there are much more important things for legislators to be addressing,” wrote Wynia.

In his opinion column, Brauchler didn’t acknowledge that passing legislation now is next-to-hopeless with Democrats, including Polis himself, in charge of state government, but he did address the issue of legislators being too busy.

“And before the ‘we’re too busy’ crowd can claim that they have more important issues to address with their limited time, let me address those more pressing issues,” wrote Brauchler. “Outside of the state’s budget, an ironic victim of these very orders, what legislative action can result in as sweeping and devastating an impact on Coloradans as permitting a potential second, nearly unchecked shutdown of the state?”

Bruachler did not return a call for further comment.

Nationally, the most intense efforts to roll back the power of governors’ public-health orders, either via legislation or the courts, has occurred in key the presidential battleground states of Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania, all of which have Republican-controlled legislative bodies and Democratic governors.

But Republican legislators in Ohio have targeted the authority of the state’s health director, leading fellow Republican governor Mike DeWine to tell them they should focus on coronavirus testing and the economy.

So far, actions to reduce gubernatorial power to fight the virus have failed nationally, according to James Hodge, director of the Center for Public Health Law and Policy at Arizona State University, but he predicted there will be “massive legislative and judicial battles ahead for the rest of the summer.”

Hodge, who helped develop model legislation designed to help state governments respond to health crises, said if roll-back efforts are successful, they could set back the government’s ability to deal with the pandemic.

When he drafted legislation, “governors essentially told us, ‘Spell out for what powers we might have, and let our legislators consider that and pass these specific provisions, and we’ll act based on those specific legislative authorizations,” said Hodge. “If you don’t spell that out, you create more chaos, not less,” he said.

It appears that Colorado law does not give more emergency powers to its governor than many other states, judging from comparisons available online and a review of emergency orders issued in other states.

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Mr. Polis Goes To Washington

Gov. Jared Pols and Vice President Mike Pence (4/18/20)

Colorado Public Radio reports on the event dominating Gov. Jared Polis’ work week, a trip to Washington, D.C. to meet with President Donald Trump in a newly contaminated area of the city known as the White House:

“The Governor’s first priority is the health and safety of Coloradans, and the federal government is an important partner in Colorado’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic,” the spokesperson said in a statement.

Polis is expected to push for “more federal support during this global pandemic, including critical testing supplies and personal protective equipment” during the meeting, scheduled for Wednesday.

While Colorado has received shipments from the national stockpile, it hasn’t been enough to meet demand. And efforts to purchase supplies on the open market haven’t always worked out well for the state. At the start of the pandemic, Polis told CNN that one shipment was taken by the federal government.

Headlines over the weekend that staff uncomfortably close to both the President and the Vice President have tested positive for COVID-19 infections make this trip to Washington especially worrisome for Gov. Polis, and the apparent disregard for personal and therefore community safety expressed by both Trump and Mike Pence even after their staffers tested positive is also not what you’d call a good omen either. Gov. Polis has been nothing but diplomatic in his dealings with the Trump administration, even when it would be difficult or impossible for any reasonable person to avoid swear words–which will hopefully work in Colorado’s favor when the moment comes Wednesday to “kiss the ring” and ask Trump to come through with the equipment our state still very much needs.

Gov. Polis may not need hazard pay, but anyone obliged to visit the White House right now should get it.

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Gov. Polis To Veep Pence: Cover Your Damn Piehole, Please

UPDATE: Vice President Mike Pence’s wife, Karen (er, “Mother”) says that the guy in charge of the White House coronavirus task force didn’t know that he was supposed to wear a mask

Sure, maybe Pence never noticed at any point that he was the only person in the room without a mask. Or maybe they were short one mask and Pence lost the coin flip.

—–

Vice President Mike Pence’s ongoing refusal to wear a non-medical mask to slow his potentially COVID-19 contaminated droplets as they exit his orifices became a national point of controversy earlier this week, when Pence flouted the policy of the world famous Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, greeting patients and doctors all clad in masks conspicuously without one of his own.

But a week before, as readers will recall, Pence previewed his au naturale babyface on a trip to Colorado to speak at the Air Force Academy commencement ceremony–where he was greeted, some say confronted, by a mask wearing Gov. Jared Polis:

Gov. Jared Pols and Vice President Mike Pence (4/18/20)

Yesterday, CBS4 asked Gov. Polis about Pence’s mask resistance, and Polis once again was as diplomatic as he could be in tiptoeing around an obviously frustrating situation. After all, public expressions of displeasure with the Trump administration can have unfortunate consequences for mouthy state governors:

When asked about the behavior, Polis said “As elected officials I think we have an additional responsibility, with the soapbox we have, to practice what we preach.”

“I’m trying to be an ambassador for wearing masks. I walk to all my press conferences wearing a mask, take it off when I speak and I’m at the podium,” Polis said.

“I think elected officials should be role models and wear masks because they can save lives and help us return to economic normalcy sooner rather than later.” [Pols emphasis]

What’s the opposite of a role model? A cautionary tale. Hopefully the vice president doesn’t become one.

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Screw The Workers, Says Trump, The Meat Must Flow

Pork: it’s the new toilet paper.

Among the many headlines involving the COVID-19 pandemic in Colorado has been the plight of thousands of workers in meat processing plants located in predominately conservative agricultural areas of the state like Weld County. At the JBS beef packing plant in Greeley, over 100 confirmed cases led to a very brief shutdown of the plant before controversially reopening late last week. The Denver Post reports:

A fifth employee at the JBS USA plant in Greeley died Sunday after contracting the novel coronavirus, according to the United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 7.

Four workers at the Greeley beef plant have now died, as well as one person who worked at the JBS corporate office. The death of plant employee Way Ler, 61, comes two days after JBS reopened its Greeley plant after a nine-day closure prompted by the spread of the novel coronavirus among employees.

The plant reopened Friday after the company installed a variety of protections for workers designed to slow the spread of the virus, and most employees will return to work Monday, despite ongoing concerns about worker safety and a lack of testing for employees.

Vice President Mike Pence.

The COVID-19 outbreak at the JBS Greeley plant was sufficiently alarming earlier this month that Vice President Mike Pence himself acknowledged the situation, and promised federal support to test plant workers–as Denver7 reported back on April 10th:

Pence said he spoke with Polis about having those new testing resources for the plant in-state this weekend. [Pols emphasis]

“I want to encourage people in Colorado that we will work to support that effort, but I also want to emphasize that all the people that are working in food supply – from farmers, to meatpackers, to distributors, to truckers, to grocers – continue to have our gratitude,” Pence said.

Unfortunately, Denver7 updated 12 days later:

Contact7 Investigates has confirmed promises from the White House and JBS management to provide testing for employees at the massive meatpacking plant in Greeley have not been kept. [Pols emphasis]

But the plant reopened anyway–and instead of testing for every employee, JBS sent a cease-and-desist letter to Kim Cordova, president of the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union Local 7 telling her in contractually threatening terms to pipe down.

And then, Bloomberg News reported today:

President Donald Trump plans to order meat-processing plants to remain open, declaring them critical infrastructure as the nation confronts growing disruptions to the food supply from the coronavirus outbreak, a person familiar with the matter said…

Trump signaled the executive action at the White House on Tuesday, saying he planned to sign an order aimed at Tyson Foods Inc.’s liability, which had become “a road block” for the company. He didn’t elaborate. [Pols emphasis]

The order, though, will not be limited to Tyson, the person said. It will affect many processing plants supplying beef, chicken, eggs and pork.

It looks to us like Colorado’s meat packing plant workers, many of whom speak English as a second language (if at all) and have been subject to inequities large and small while they labor to supply our nation’s ravenous appetite for meat, have been judged as expendable as the animals they process. As essential as their product may be, if these workers are not afforded the same protection as every other essential worker on the job in this pandemic, it’s going to be hard for anyone with a conscience to enjoy their juicy burger, grilled chicken sandwich, or honey-baked ham.

And we say that as devoted carnivores.

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