The Race for Governor Does Not Appear to be Tightening

Today the political prognosticators at unveiled their latest predictions about the races for Governor across the country. FiveThirtyEight’s take on Colorado’s gubernatorial battle is about as optimistic as you can get for Democrat Jared Polis:


We’re not going to get into a discussion here about probabilities and likely outcomes, in part because attempting any sort of math is frightening, but we can still make some good assumptions based on everything we know with three weeks to go in the 2018 election.

According to, Polis has a 90% chance of becoming Colorado’s next Governor and projects to have a 9.4 point advantage (meaning Polis is nearly in double-digit win territory). Interestingly enough, this about what Colorado Pols readers have been predicting in numerous non-scientific queries conducted in this space. We also learned today that a new poll from Republican-aligned firm Magellan Strategies shows Polis with a 7-point lead over Republican Walker Stapleton.

We’re seeing these new numbers the same week that a shady outside group started to run ridiculously-false new television ads portraying Polis as the villain in a 1999 incident in which he was actually the victim of a crime. And finally, it was just a few weeks ago that Stapleton started airing his first big General Election television ad that was (oddly enough) 90% about Polis.

Stapleton has responded to questions about polling numbers by shrugging off the existence of all polls, which is probably what he needs to say. But candidates who believe they are in a close race do not make TV ads that are entirely about their opponent. Likewise, Stapleton supporters would not pack a television ad full of lies that are easily crushed by media outlets unless they thought that they were in a deep hole already. In short, Team Stapleton is behaving exactly how you would expect them to behave if they felt as though the race was getting away from them.

The other interesting thing to note here is that the negative attacks on Polis might not be moving the needle. The TV ad from Colorado [cough] Citizens for Truth [cough, cough] did not go on the air before Magellan began its survey of voters, but anti-Polis ads from Stapleton had been running for weeks. A Keating/Magellan poll released in early October showed Polis with the same 7-point lead we see in today’s release.

As Donald Trump reminded us all in 2016, it ain’t over until it’s over. But if you’re looking for signs that Stapleton might end up pulling it out in November…well, there aren’t any.


Magellan: Polis 47%, Stapleton 40%

Jared Polis (left) and Walker Stapleton.

The Colorado Sun’s John Frank reports on a new poll from GOP-aligned local pollster Magellan Strategies showing Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jared Polis up seven points on Republican Walker Stapleton–and that’s not all:

Democrat Jared Polis remains in a comfortable lead in the Colorado governor’s race, according to a new poll, but the numbers showing a partisan gap in voter enthusiasm are even more troubling for Republicans…

The numbers from the poll — conducted Oct. 8-10 — show 59 percent of Democrats responded at the highest end of the scale when asked about their interest in the Nov. 6 election, compared to 47 percent for Republicans. When the top two levels are combined, Democrats held an eight-point advantage, just outside the roughly 7.5 percent margin of error for this partisan breakdown.

The dynamic quiets the notion that the confirmation process for U.S. Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh would give the GOP a boost because of its polarizing nature.

We never bought into the conventional wisdom briefly prevalent after the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court that he bitter battle over his nomination would motivate Republicans to vote in the November elections. On the other hand, the failure to stop Kavanaugh was a bitter but powerful lesson for Democrats on the importance of turning out just before ballots went in the mail in Colorado. More polling will help firm up this trend, but the latter dynamic appears to be the one actually playing out in our state.

There are some other numbers in this survey that Democrats will find less positive, particularly with regard to two competing transportation ballot measures–one of which would create new debt that lawmakers would have to pay for with cuts to other programs, and another to raise sales taxes modestly to responsibly pay for road projects. A large disparity in support for the two could mean a big headache awaiting lawmakers in January, even if all other election trends put Democrats back in majority control of both chambers of the legislature.

At the top of the ticket, at least, Democrats are feeling good–with consistent poll numbers backing them up.


Get More Smarter on Tuesday (October 16)

Check those mailboxes, people! It’s time to Get More Smarter. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of a visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show.



► Ballots should be starting to arrive at your mailbox this week. CLICK HERE to visit the Colorado Secretary of State website, where you can check on the status of your mail ballot and double-check your voter registration information. Colorado Public Radio explains what to do with your mail ballot after it arrives.


► Is it Festivus season already? President Trump seems to think so, as CNN reports:

President Donald Trump, with an empty public schedule and a litany of festering grievances, spent Tuesday unleashing fresh vitriol at his enemies over Twitter. His targets began with Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who this week released a DNA test seeking to rebut Trump’s insults about her claims of Native American heritage. But he soon moved on, griping about the porn actress who alleged to have spent the night with him, fake news, the Russia “witch hunt.”

Elsewhere, Trump’s campaign has already raised $106 million — more than any previous President at the same point in time relative to his re-election.


► The Colorado Republican Party paid for a mail piece in CO-6 touting the idea that Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Aurora) stands up to the Republican Party.


► The truth hurts. Local media outlets are tearing apart a new television ad full of falsehoods aimed at Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jared Polis.


Get even more smarter after the jump…



Outspending Truth: Reporters Rage As False Claims Recycle

UPDATE: You can add the Associated Press to the list.


This past weekend, a new ad from a “dark money” group called Colorado Citizens for Truth his Colorado screens backed by a $700,000 buy. The new group’s agent is Katie Kennedy, also the registered agent for Stapleton for Colorado, Walker Stapleton’s SuperPAC Better Colorado Now, and a variety of other GOP campaign organizations.

Both 9NEWS and FOX 31 devoted segments last night to this new ad, which recycles a discredited smear on Democratic candidate Jared Polis originally published in the right-wing Washington Free Beacon in late September. Team Stapleton has desperately tried to get local press to pick up their narrative of this story, which concerns a crime committed against Polis in 1999 and resulted in a permanent restraining order against the perpetrator– secretary who had been caught misusing the company card and attempting to steal trade secrets. In the GOP’s telling of the story Polis becomes the perpetrator, not the victim, even though a police investigation determined the exact opposite.

In particular, 9NEWS’ Kyle Clark and Marshall Zelinger slammed this latest ad as a blatant disregarding of facts they had already laid out weeks before, and cited their own debunking of the original story on September 25th. Nothing has changed between then and now, so they literally just replayed Clark’s previous commentary.

At least on social media, the response to the complete failure to win over the press on this story has been a spate of silly ad hominem attacks on the reporters who refuse to write the story the way Stapleton’s campaign wants. It’s a reaction similar in some respects to the shrill but baseless attacks on Zelinger in 2016 from Republicans after he uncovered extensive forgery in Jon Keyser’s ballot petitions for the U.S. Senate race.

But the problem here, of course, is not that the entire Colorado press corps is covering for Polis as Republicans are now asking voters to believe. The problem is that this story as told by Republicans is misleading in the extreme, and relies on visceral shock value to overcome its 180-degree factual deficiencies. Recasting the victim of a crime as the perpetrator of a crime is, it’s fair to say, as deceptive as it gets.

So why do it, you ask? That’s the easiest question to answer of all. We can’t speak to the environment in every state, but in Colorado in recent elections we have seen what can only be called a premeditated disregard for truthfulness on the part of Republican candidates and political operatives. In 2014, Cory Gardner pioneered “post truth politics” in Colorado by audaciously denying his former self on any issue that could pose a general election problem. In 2016, some of the same Republican hacks behind this latest attack on Polis knowingly pushed that totally false claim that Rachel Zenzinger “used taxpayer funds for a trip to China”–over and over again, even as the local press blasted them at every step. The “China Girl” attacks on Zenzinger ultimately backfired, but the willingness to keep pushing this proven lie after everyone knew it was a lie was notable.

In the end, our local Republicans do this because they don’t care how it looks. In their arithmetic, relentlessly pushing out false claims will win over more voters than will ever see the truth about those claims and be repelled by their dishonesty. Lying is not only acceptable, it’s integral to the strategy.

The only way to make it stop, like with now-Sen. Zenzinger, is to make sure it doesn’t succeed.


Who Will Be Colorado’s Next Governor? (Round 7)

Jared Polis (left) and Walker Stapleton

Mail ballots are on their way this week, so it’s time to vote again. We’ve been asking our readers this question for weeks now: Who do you THINK is going to win the race for Governor?

Remember, we’re looking for your best educated guess on the outcome of this race, not who you support or who you would prefer to see emerge victorious. The point of this exercise is to track how perceptions of the race are (or are not) changing as Election Day nears. For previous results, click Round 1Round 2, Round 3Round 4Round 5, or Round 6).

Who gets to move into the Governor’s Mansion in January? Will it be Democrat Jared Polis or Republican Walker Stapleton?

Who Will Be the Next Governor of Colorado?

Get More Smarter on Thursday (October 11)

We swear, it’s almost over. For now, it’s time to Get More Smarter. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of a visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show.



► Dozens of accusations of judicial misconduct against new Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh have been transferred to the 10th Judicial District, which is headquartered in Denver. Westword looks at 10th Circuit Court Chief Judge Timothy Tymkovich, the man who will be in charge of handling these complaints. Don’t expect a whole lot here, since Tymkovich is on President Trump’s short list of potential future Supreme Court justices.


► Congressman Mike Coffman (R-Aurora) will say absolutely anything if he thinks it might help him get re-elected. The New York Times, meanwhile, re-confirms that Republican leaders are pulling up stakes in CO-6 and abandoning Coffman.


► Democrats across Colorado are calling on State Rep. Jovan Melton (D-Aurora) to resign from the legislature after new reports surfaced about prior domestic violence arrests. Melton is thus far refusing to step down and is getting some public support from prominent figures in the black community, as Colorado Public Radio reports. The CPR story also links to a police report from 1999 that is pretty horrible.


Get even more smarter after the jump…



Get More Smarter on Tuesday (October 9)

Nevermind Columbus [ducks]. Happy Leif Erikson Day! It’s time to Get More Smarter. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of a visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show.



► United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley abruptly resigned today. Haley and President Trump broke the news after a meeting at the White House, as the Washington Post reports:

Trump praised the work of the former governor of South Carolina, who was confirmed as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations shortly after Trump’s inauguration last year.

“She’s done a fantastic job, and we’ve done a fantastic job together,” Trump said, adding that Haley has been “very special to me.”

Trump said Haley first told him about six months ago that she would like to “take a little time off” at the end of this year. Nevertheless, the announcement surprised many in the Trump administration.

Trump said he is hopeful that Haley will return to the administration at some point, perhaps in a different capacity.

As the Associated Press reports, Haley’s departure came as a surprise to key U.S. allies, as well as many Congressional Republicans active in foreign policy areas.


► Republican gubernatorial candidate Walker Stapleton might actually be getting worse as we get closer to Election Day. Over the weekend, Stapleton had a bizarre debate moment where he struggled for 14 seconds to repeat two numbers intended to support whatever argument he was trying to make. On Monday during a debate in Pueblo, Stapleton was booed by the crowd for making an awful joke suggesting that Democrat Jared Polis encourages his young children to smoke marijuana.

► As Politico reports, the Republican House Majority is crumbling in front of our eyes:

With a month to go until Election Day, there are now 209 seats either firmly or leaning in the Democratic column — only nine shy of the 218 the party needs to wrest away control of the chamber — according to the latest update of POLITICO’s race ratings.

The ratings, which reflect extensive reporting on the state of the 23-seat GOP majority, evaluations of both parties’ strategies, historical trends and polling data, reveal Democratic candidates have grabbed the lead in a number of House districts — including some with longtime GOP incumbents. Republican outside groups have already started cutting off funding to some races in which prospects had dimmed.

The GOP still has a path to keep the House, but it would require either a near-sweep of the toss-up races or a significant change in the political environment in the final four weeks of the campaign.

According to a new poll from CNN, Democrats have widened their lead in the “Generic Congressional Ballot” to 13 points.


Get even more smarter after the jump…



Who Will Be Colorado’s Next Governor? (Round 6)

Jared Polis (left) and Walker Stapleton

Mail ballots will be out in the wild starting next Monday. We’ve been asking our readers this question for weeks now: Who do you THINK is going to win the race for Governor?

Remember, we’re looking for your best educated guess on the outcome of this race, not who you support or who you would prefer to see emerge victorious. The point of this exercise is to track how perceptions of the race are (or are not) changing as Election Day nears. For previous results, click Round 1Round 2, Round 3Round 4, or Round 5).

Who gets to move into the Governor’s Mansion in January? Will it be Democrat Jared Polis or Republican Walker Stapleton?

Who Will be the Next Governor of Colorado?

The Republican Candidate for Governor of Colorado

Republican gubernatorial candidate Walker Stapleton, ladies and gentlemen…

This video clip is from a gubernatorial debate on Saturday in Grand Junction — hosted by Colorado Mesa University and Rocky Mountain PBS — the third debate in two days for Stapleton and Democratic candidate Jared Polis (Debate #4 takes place tonight in Pueblo).

According to an email from Stapleton’s campaign that went out on Sunday afternoon, Stapleton “offered a stark contrast between him and liberal Jared Polis.” Indeed he did. Stapleton supporters tried desperately to spin Saturday’s debate as a victory for the Republican candidate, but there’s no way around this gaffe. If you look closely, you can almost see the smoke coming out of Stapleton’s ears as his hard drive tries to reset.

This is the same Walker Stapleton who told Shaun Boyd of CBS4 Denver last week that he is “a numbers guy.” This is the same Walker Stapleton whose policy positions are little more than a series of words that someone looked up in a Thesaurus.

It is fair to say that you can summarize Stapleton’s entire campaign for Governor with this 14-second clip. Stapleton is running for the top office in Colorado, and here he is trying to recite facts and figures like he was up all night cramming for an exam instead of actually demonstrating a real grasp of important issues.

This is Walker Stapleton.


Denver Post Endorses Jared Polis for Governor

Democratic candidate for Governor Jared Polis

On Sunday, the Aurora Sentinel made the first major newspaper endorsement in the 2018 race for Governor. The Sentinel’s endorsement of Democrat Jared Polis included a no-holds-barred takedown of Republican Walker Stapleton that began with the very first sentence:

Making the case for Jared Polis to become Colorado’s next governor is just as easy as understanding why Walker Stapleton is unsuited for the job.

Today the Denver Post published their own endorsement in the race for Governor: A cheery, flattering, and wholehearted backing of Polis:

Coloradans have the chance to cast their vote this fall for a governor who is thoughtful, innovative and has proved his mettle as a leader both in the business world and as a congressman for the past decade.

Jared Polis, 43, has a vision for this great state that is easy to support, and critically, we think he has the gumption to actually deliver results…

Coloradans would be fortunate to have Polis as governor pushing for a brighter future.

He’s won our endorsement and we hope he wins your vote. [Pols emphasis]

While the Post isn’t as negative about Stapleton as the Sentinel, there is no indication that backing Polis was in any way a difficult decision for the Post editorial board. Oftentimes editorials like this will go out of their way to praise both candidates and call the decision-making process a “tough call” between “two well-qualified individuals.” It’s telling that the Post does not do this, reserving these four lines for Stapleton:

But the current state Treasurer’s vision seems less well-defined and is based in large part on a dedication to fiscally sound practices.

While admirable, it isn’t as critical a priority in a place like Colorado where voters must approve tax increases and debt increases and where the annual budget must be balanced (according to law) — on time, every year.

Stapleton has made immigration a major issue in his public campaign, which we think is overstating the impact a mostly federal problem is having on the day-to-day lives of Coloradans.

There are much more important issues than making sure that the rare person arrested on a felony charge and released from jail while awaiting a trial is instead held until federal immigration officials can make their own apprehension.

Of course, the endorsement of one or two newspapers — even those that cover two of Colorado’s largest cities — does not in itself mean that Polis is headed to victory in November (though there is plenty of reason to call him the clear frontrunner).

What these endorsements do confirm, however, is that Stapleton’s campaign strategy is an abject failure. Stapleton says very little about important issues in Colorado, choosing instead to focus on the same tired attacks about Polis and his “extreme and radical agenda.” If you’re going to try to paint your opponent as an extremist, it had better work; otherwise, news outlets like the Sentinel and the Post destroy that entire narrative with a single endorsement.

As we pointed out last month, Stapleton’s “policy ideas” are about as fulfilling as eating a sleeve of saltine crackers for dinner. This is the other broken leg of his campaign stool, because without real ideas for solving real problems, Stapleton’s entire message just boils down to, “But, I’m not Jared Polis.” That might work if you were running against a lunatic like former Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore, but it’s toothless against a solid, likable candidate such as Polis — particularly when Polis is all over the airwaves with positive messages.

Walker Stapleton’s gubernatorial campaign isn’t dead…yet. But nobody would blame them if they started making funeral arrangements.


Live Debate Diary: Governor

Jared Polis (left) and Walker Stapleton

What better way to kick off the home stretch of the 2018 mid-term election than with a long time feature at Colorado Pols that we call our “Debate Diary.”

We’re LIVE at the Hyatt Regency in downtown Denver for the first gubernatorial candidate debate forum of the General Election. Democrat Jared Polis and Republican Walker Stapleton have agreed to participate in 10 debates/forums over the next couple of weeks, with a particularly-busy schedule in the next couple of days that includes a CBS4/Colorado Sun/KOA debate tonight; a debate sponsored by Colorado Mesa University and Rocky Mountain PBS on Saturday in Grand Junction, and a debate moderated by the Pueblo Chieftain on Monday.

There are more than 50 tables full of Denver business leaders for this event sponsored by the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce.

*NOTE: The most current update will appear at the top of the page. As always, unless something appears in direct quotes, consider all statements paraphrased in the interest of time and/or the prevention of carpal tunnel syndrome.  




Get More Smarter on Thursday (October 4)

The Colorado Rockies take on the Milwaukee Brewers today in Game 1 of the National League Division Series. First pitch is scheduled for 3:07 pm.  It’s time to Get More Smarter. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of a visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show.



► The White House and U.S. Senate are reviewing an FBI report into allegations of sexual assault and misconduct by Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. As the Washington Post reports, there’s a big ‘ol lump under the rug:

As the Senate began reviewing the new FBI report on Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh on Thursday, both Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles E. Grassley and the White House stood by President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, saying the investigation found nothing sufficient to corroborate allegations of sexual misconduct while Kavanaugh was a teenager.

“There’s nothing in it that we didn’t already know,” Grassley (R-Iowa) said in a statement after being briefed on the report by his staff. “It’s time to vote.”

Senators are allowed to view the new FBI report behind closed doors, but the information is not expected to be released publicly. As Bloomberg News reports, there are two GAPING holes in the FBI’s report:

The FBI hasn’t interviewed Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh or Christine Blasey Ford because it doesn’t have clear authority from the White House to do so, according to two people with knowledge of the matter.

Instead, the White House has indicated to the FBI that testimony from Kavanaugh and Ford, who has accused him of attempting to rape her when they were in high school, before the Senate Judiciary Committee last week is sufficient, said the people, who asked to not be identified discussing the sensitive matter.

Yes, you read that correctly. It appears that the FBI “investigated” claims of sexual assault and misconduct without interviewing the two people most directly involved in these claims. The understatement of the day comes from the Washington Post, which says the FBI report has been “highly curtailed.” As Westword reports, it appears that sexual assault/misconduct accusations from Boulder resident Deborah Ramirez were also given only a cursory investigation.

The Senate could vote on Kavanaugh’s confirmation as soon as Saturday.


► If Republican gubernatorial candidate Walker Stapleton doesn’t show up to the State Treasurer’s office today, it will have been at least 30 days since he last appeared at the State Capitol.

Republican State Treasurer candidate Brian Watson has apparently been taking notes. If he wins in November, Watson says has absolutely no intention of working as a full-time State Treasurer.


► Gubernatorial candidates Jared Polis and Walker Stapleton begin a string of 10 public debates on Friday. A squabble hosted by the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce kicks things off on Friday morning, with a CBS4/Colorado Sun/KOA debate in the evening. Colorado Mesa University and Rocky Mountain PBS host a debate on Saturday in Grand Junction, and the Pueblo Chieftain moderates a discussion in Pueblo on Monday. The candidates will then go their separate ways before they reconvene in Colorado Springs on Saturday, Oct. 13.

We’ll be following the debates here at Colorado Pols with at least one Debate Diary.


Get even more smarter after the jump…



Well Played, Polis Campaign

Republican gubernatorial candidate Walker Stapleton released a new television ad today that is almost entirely about Democrat Jared Polis. In response, the Polis campaign Tweeted out a cut of the ad that removed all of the parts about Polis…which left about 3 seconds of video.

As the kids say, Stapleton just got pwned.

Here’s Stapleton’s original ad:


Two Polls, Same Conclusion: Women Hate Republicans

The Denver Post reports on the first publicly-available poll this fall in the race to become the next Governor of Colorado, which shows Democrat Jared Polis with a seven-point lead over Republican Walker Stapleton. This figure is pretty consistent with what we’ve heard about internal polls from both sides in recent weeks, but the breakdown of the data is where things get particularly interesting:

Polis’ lead was especially strong with Colorado’s unaffiliated voters, women and those who make less than $75,000 a year, found the poll, which was jointly conducted by one Democratic-leaning firm and one Republican-leaning firm. Stapleton beats Polis with male voters and those who make more than $75,000 a year.

The live telephone survey of 600 likely voters was conducted by Keating Research and Magellan Strategies between Sept. 18 and Sept. 20. The results are weighted to reflect historic voter turnout during non-presidential election years. It was commissioned by Healthier Colorado, a nonpartisan health care advocacy organization……One of the most striking data points is Polis’ lead among unaffiliated women: 48 percent said they were likely to vote for Polis, while 22 percent said they were inclined to vote for Stapleton. [Pols emphasis]

It’s important to note that this poll was conducted before last week’s widely-covered Senate Judiciary Committee hearings in which California professor Christine Blasey Ford confirmed her accusation of sexual assault against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. This poll was also completed before widespread media coverage of other Kavanaugh accusers, such as Boulder resident Deborah Ramirez. If you conducted this same poll today, chances are pretty good that the numbers would be considerably worse for Stapleton (and every other Republican on the ballot in November).

This Keating/Magellan Colorado survey is also in line with national polling trends, as CNN reports today:

It’s raining men for Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Ford’s detailed allegations of sexual assault against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh could allow Democrats to solidify an unprecedented advantage among those women, who represent one of the few steadily growing components of the white electorate.

Coming even as many professional white women are already recoiling from President Donald Trump’s definition of the Republican Party, and Democrats have nominated an unprecedented number of professional women for Congress, the collision between Kavanaugh and Ford — a professional herself — has the potential to reinforce a lasting shift in loyalties that could tip the partisan balance in white-collar suburbs around America…

…New polling released Monday showed how the confrontation over Ford’s allegations could reinforce these dynamics. A national Quinnipiac University survey found that 61% of college-educated white women said they believed Ford over Kavanaugh; 58% of such well-educated women said the Senate should reject his nomination, according to detailed results provided by Quinnipiac. [Pols emphasis]

Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Aurora) pleads for support from female voters.

You can count Congressman Mike Coffman (R-Aurora) among Republicans who are very concerned about the GOP’s problem with women — particularly college-educated and Independent women. Last month CNN’s Dana Bash asked Coffman about the election drag of Donald Trump in a profile of CO-6 characterized as a barometer of the mid-term elections:

“It’s less about his policies than it is about his tone. College educated independent women, just really are offended by his tone and his mannerisms in the office. [Pols emphasis] So it’s baked in now.” Coffman said, with resignation in his voice.

You don’t talk about “college educated independent women” unless you’re seeing significant problems with this particular voter demographic. This is a big reason why Coffman can’t even produce an internal poll that doesn’t show him losing to Democrat Jason Crow next month.

Of course, it’s easy for Republicans to blame President Trump for their poor image with female voters, but it’s not like GOP elected officials in Colorado and around the country have made much of an effort to do anything differently. Hell, it took Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) FOUR DAYS to publicly respond that he found Ford’s testimony to be credible — an admission he made on the same day that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell declared that the Senate would vote on Kavanaugh’s confirmation this week no matter what happens with an FBI investigation into sexual assault charges.

“Tone deaf” doesn’t do justice to this Republican idiocy. At this rate, we’re going to need come up with a new phrase entirely.


This is an Actual Newspaper or Something

UPDATE: Kyle Clark is appropriately bewildered by all of this.


Take a look at the sentence below. We’re not going to provide any context quite yet, because it’s instructive just to read these words as they are written:

Liberal political activist Kyle Clark, a 9 News Denver anchor, rules against Republicans and Hughes more like a wannabe judge than a journalist.

Now, humor us for a moment. Don’t keep reading beyond this paragraph; instead, re-read that sentence and make a guess about where it appeared today. Breitbart News? The Washington Free Beacon? Whichever right-wing political blog that still exists in Colorado? Perhaps a Republican campaign’s Facebook page or Twitter account? Tom Tancredo?

Okay, if you’re done guessing or just want us to get on with it already, we’ll tell where you can find this sentence. It is from a new editorial signed by the actual editorial board of the Colorado Springs Gazette.

The Colorado Springs Gazette, which generally pretends to be an actual newspaper most of the time, wrote an editorial in which it called a Colorado media colleague a “liberal political activist.” The Gazette didn’t say that 9News anchor/reporter Kyle Clark was unbalanced in his storytelling or failed to understand some nuance of the story. No, they just hit fast-forward and used “liberal political activist” as a title for Clark, merely because he didn’t fall for the spin coming from the right:

The point of the Gazette’s childish partisan editorial is to express rage, sadness, confusion, and general manufactured angst over the fact that a Republican attempt to smear Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jared Polis failed to work because virtually every other media outlet in the state looked at the facts of the case and came to the rather obvious conclusion that Polis was actually the victim in this 20-year-old tale.

The Gazette editorial board can write whatever it wants, of course, and it would have been perfectly within its wheelhouse to question aspects of the story involving Polis. But instead, the Gazette goes full “liberal conspiracy theory.” Here’s the last paragraph of the editorial:

Contemporary society has no higher cause than protecting women from violence of any type. Women are rightly given every reasonable benefit of the doubt. Unless that is, a woman blames a powerful Colorado Democrat. That man gets a media pass.

If you didn’t know anything about this story, you might assume from this conclusion that the woman in question, Patricia Hughes, had recently accused Polis of wrongdoing. She didn’t. She couldn’t. She’s been dead since 2014.

As Michael Roberts writes for Westword, there’s no mystery that needs to be solved here, regardless:

But the report, accessible below [link], as well as other documents in the public record, reveal that the only person charged with a crime in the incident was the female employee, the late Patricia Hughes, whom Polis held for Boulder Police Department officers (he had called them) because she’d stolen documents either before or after she resigned in response to accusations that she’d used his credit card for her own financial benefit. She later pleaded guilty to theft, and the judge in her case mandated that she undergo mental health treatment.

Unfortunately, it shouldn’t come as as surprise that the Colorado Springs Gazette would so willingly reflect such a radical partisan bent in its pages. The Gazette’s fawning over Republican gubernatorial candidate Walker Stapleton throughout 2018 has been cringeworthy in itself.

What the Gazette is trying to do here is not journalism. Not even a little bit. And that’s a damn shame.


Victim, Not Perp: Local Media Swiftly Debunks Smear On Polis

UPDATE: Local conservative commentator Ari Armstrong calls out Republicans:


Conservative “reporter” Todd Shepherd.

Yesterday, longtime local conservative political operative Todd Shepherd published a story in the right-wing Washington Free Beacon about an incident involving Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jared Polis from 20 years ago.

But by the end of the day, it was clear that Shepherd’s version of events wasn’t anything close what really happened. After Republican mouthpieces from the state Republican Party to the Republican Governor’s Association, and in turn Walker Stapleton’s campaign, began echoing this story with maximum hyperbole–including knee-jerk calls for Polis to withdraw from the governor’s race–local media took a look at the claims, and found a very different reality.

As Colorado Public Radio’s Bente Birkeland reports, Polis was the victim.

A two-decades-old police report details an altercation between Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jared Polis and his former personal assistant, as he attempted to prevent her from leaving his office with stolen documents.

In the police narrative, Polis said he pushed Patricia Hughes, at the same time that she was hitting him with a bag. The police report from June 23, 1999, was first written about in the conservative outlet The Washington Free Beacon. Polis is listed as the victim on the report. Hughes was charged and pled guilty to stealing trade secrets after police found company contracts in her bags. [Pols emphasis]


After a report from the conservative Washington Free Beacon about the incident was published Tuesday afternoon, several GOP groups emailed the 9NEWS newsroom about the story, including Better Colorado Now and the Colorado GOP. The story also gained considerable traction in some conservative circles on Twitter…

The Boulder County District Attorney’s Office said she was charged and eventually pleaded guilty to stealing trade secrets. The police report said bruises on the secretary’s arms didn’t match what either she or Polis told officers that day.

Westword’s Michael Roberts:

[T]he report…as well as other documents in the public record reveal that the only person charged with a crime in the incident was the female employee, the late Patricia Hughes, whom Polis held for Boulder Police Department officers (he had called them) because she’d stolen documents either before or after she resigned in response to accusations that she’d used his credit card for her own financial benefit. She later pleaded guilty to theft, and the judge in her case mandated that she undergo mental-health treatment.

“According to the court records,” says Catherine Olguin, spokeswoman for the Boulder County District Attorney’s office, which declined to prosecute Polis in connection with the incident, “he was the victim. She was ordered to stay away from him, among other conditions of her sentence.” [Pols emphasis]

Roberts goes into detail about the factual omissions and distortions to the original police report necessary to reach the conclusion of the deceptive story from Todd Shepherd. But none of that mattered to Republicans pushing this story with a zeal that betrayed an underlying desperation to land some kind of punch on Polis. By the end of the day yesterday, 9NEWS’ Kyle Clark had seen enough:

Given the aggressive contempt for media fact-checking that Walker Stapleton’s campaign has demonstrated so far this year, it’s a good bet that seeing this deceptive smear universally panned by local reporters won’t even slow down the attack ads and mail pieces. The clock was ticking on production of those items for delivery as ballots drop, which may have played into the decision to release this through the Free Beacon. The goal, as always, is simply to reach more voters with the false claim than the debunking reaches.

We don’t know all of the steps along the way that led to this story being published by a usual suspect conservative operative in a right-wing publication, but it’s highly likely that local Republicans “shopped” this story to local news reporters before resorting to breaking it through a less-credible outlet. The swiftness with which local media debunked this story after it was published in the Free Beacon means they may well have already found that the story wasn’t true, or at least not at all as represented by Republicans pushing it.

Much like Sen. Beth Martinez Humenik’s complaint against Sen. Daniel Kagan to deflect from the sexual harassment crisis in the Colorado legislature, and its release to deflect from Republican lawmakers cracking dismissive jokes about Brett Kavanaugh’s alleged sexual assault, this attempted smear shows that to Republicans, all of these events are nothing more than game pieces. There is no moral comprehension, let alone equivalence–just empty words to string together for the purpose of deflection and denial.

And lurking under it all, hypocrisy so audacious it’s stunning to behold.


Get More Smarter on Wednesday (September 26)

The news is 30-40% Kavanaugh today. It’s time to Get More Smarter. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of a visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show.



► And then there were three.

A third woman has accused Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct on the eve of Thursday’s hearing in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee. From the Washington Post:

A third woman came forward Wednesday to accuse Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct, saying he was physically abusive toward girls in high school and present at a house party in 1982 where she says she was the victim of a “gang” rape.

The woman, Julie Swetnick, a Washington resident, is represented by lawyer Michael Avenatti, who revealed her identity on Twitter and posted her photograph.

Meanwhile, the Senate Judiciary Committee released a copy of the testimony that Kavanaugh is expected to deliver on Thursday.


What do 11 Republican Senators do when they are worried about saying something awful when a woman testifies about sexual assault? They hire a woman to do their work for them. As Chris Cillizza writes for CNN:

Senator Chuck Grassley, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee…confirmed what had been rumored for days — that Rachel Mitchell, a deputy county attorney in Maricopa (Arizona) County, was coming on as outside counsel and would handle the bulk of questioning of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford, the woman accusing Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her when they were both teenagers…

…Every one of the 11 Republican senators on the current Judiciary Committee are deathly afraid of becoming the next Specter or Heflin — a man who looks either condescending, clueless or both when talking to a woman about her own story of experiencing sexual misconduct. The party, writ large, has massive concerns that even a single moment in which one of their senators looks to be out of touch or bullying could trigger even larger problems for Republicans at the ballot box in 41 days time. Less than 3 in 10 women said they approved of the job President Donald Trump was doing in the latest CNN-SSRS poll, and the party is looking at a major gender gap on the generic congressional ballot…

…Desperate times call for desperate measures. And that’s exactly what this move by Grassley is.

As James Hohmann writes for the Washington PostPresident Trump’s comments about Kavanaugh’s second accuser likely played a role in this decision by Grassley.


► Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) on Monday appeared to support the idea of investigating claims of sexual misconduct levied at Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. On Tuesday, Gardner stood next to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell in a press conference in which Senate Republicans all but guaranteed that Kavanaugh would be confirmed to the highest court in the land.

What will Gardner say today?



Get even more smarter after the jump…



Who Will be Colorado’s Next Governor? (Round 5)

Jared Polis (left) and Walker Stapleton

We’ve been asking our readers this question for weeks now. Who do you THINK is going to win the race for Governor?

Remember, we’re looking for your best educated guess on the outcome of this race, not who you support or who you would prefer to see emerge victorious. The point of this exercise is to track how perceptions of the race are (or are not) changing as Election Day nears. For previous results, click Round 1Round 2, Round 3, or Round 4.

Who gets to move into the Governor’s Mansion in January? Will it be Democrat Jared Polis or Republican Walker Stapleton?

Who Will be the Next Governor of Colorado?

Top Colorado Races Get Ratings Changes

We wrote yesterday about our decision to move Democrat Jason Crow ahead of Republican Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Aurora) in our CO-6 listing on “The Big Line.”

The “Crowmentum” appears to be spreading. Check out today’s updated rankings from the prognosticators at Larry Sabato’s Crystal Ball:

Via University of Virginia Center for Politics

The folks over at the University of Virginia Center for Politics have moved the race in CO-6 from “Toss-up” to “Leans Democratic.” We can’t say that we have ever seen CO-6 listed as better than a “Toss-up” in any national ranking.

Sabato’s Crystal Ball also has a new listing for Colorado’s race for Governor that is much less surprising:

Via University of Virginia Center for Politics

Thanks in part to the stunning incompetency of Republican gubernatorial candidate Walker Stapleton, the race for Governor in Colorado “Leans Democratic” in the same way that President Trump “Leans Crazy.”


Walker Stapleton on PERA Reform: Eight Years of Zilch

State Treasurer Walker Stapleton

Long periods of inactivity occasionally interrupted by pointless platitudes.

If you were going to summarize Republican Walker Stapleton’s history with his self-professed signature issue of PERA reform, this is about where you’d end up.

As Brian Eason writes for the Colorado Sun, Stapleton has spent the last eight years as State Treasurer talking about the importance of reforming PERA (the Public Employees’ Retirement Association) but rarely bothering to actually do much to support his rhetoric. This won’t likely come as much of a surprise to anyone who is even remotely familiar with Stapleton, but the details are still pretty damning:

“Everything I said about the need to fix this problem seven or eight years ago I think has been borne to be true,” he told The Colorado Sun in an interview. “I’m proud of the fact that I was right on a lot of the things that I said were wrong.”

But when it came time to actually fix it? Stapleton — by his own admission — was largely absent from the public debate. [Pols emphasis]

By his own admission…

By Stapleton’s own admission, he wasn’t even conscious when lawmakers were voting on the most significant piece of PERA legislation (SB12-200) in the last decade. This is a direct quote from Stapleton via Colorado Public Radio:

“I was not physically even at the legislature. I think I was asleep by the time they finally passed the deal.”

It’s been pretty clear for awhile now that the Republican nominee for Governor is not a good candidate, but Eason’s story reinforces a more fundamental problem voiced by Democrats and Republicans alike: Walker Stapleton just doesn’t show up, and he’s not really interested in arguing otherwise. His legacy at the State Capitol is an empty parking spot.

Stapleton’s poor attendance as State Treasurer has been well-documented. Eason’s story in the Colorado Sun is different in that it takes a more focused look at Stapleton’s “involvement” with the one cause he has championed above all others:

In the fall of 2017, he trashed the board’s plan in interviews and editorials. In December, he offered suggestions of his own. But in the spring of 2018, when lawmakers set about to craft the final product, he went uncharacteristically silent.

He wasn’t at the negotiating table when the bill was drafted. Nor did he testify publicly on the measure, as he’d done on pension-related bills in years past.

“At the time it was really hard to tell whether he was a critic of what was being proposed or whether he was supporting it,” said Terry Campbell, PERA’s lead lobbyist.

Largely absent” will be the inscription on Stapleton’s political gravestone. 


Who Will be Colorado’s Next Governor? (Round 4)

Jared Polis (left) and Walker Stapleton

We forgot to post our weekly poll on the Governor’s race on Monday, so here it is. Tell us who you THINK is going to win the race for Governor.

Remember, we’re looking for your best educated guess on the outcome of this race, not who you support or who you would prefer to see emerge victorious. The point of this exercise is to track how perceptions of the race are (or are not) changing as Election Day nears. For previous results, click Round 1Round 2, or Round 3.

Who gets to move into the Governor’s Mansion in January? Will it be Democrat Jared Polis or Republican Walker Stapleton?

Who Will Be the Next Governor of Colorado?

Local Media Shreds RGA’s Latest BS Ad

A new-ish ad running from the Republican Governor’s Association (RGA) (above) attacks Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jared Polis for allegedly “not paying taxes” for a number of years, and stashing funds offshore in the tax haven of the Cayman Islands. Not paying one’s fair share of taxes is a common allegation made against wealthy political candidates on both sides, sometimes quite damagingly (see: Romney, Mitt).

But in Rep. Polis’ case, as the Denver Post’s editorial board did a surprisingly good job explaining yesterday, it’s a warmed-over hit job with no factual basis:

The television ad makes it sound like Polis has used clever accounting tricks, specifically off-shore accounts that shelter money from the IRS, to avoid paying federal income taxes.

The Denver Post’s reporters have never found evidence of such behavior in Polis’ lengthy financial disclosures required by Congress or in the tax documents he voluntarily disclosed when he ran for Congress in 2008. [Pols emphasis]

The Denver Post’s Jon Murray reported that in the four years spanning 2001 to 2005, Polis reported “a net loss of income.” Murray noted that in other years “Polis paid more than $18.4 million in income taxes on more than $120 million in adjusted gross income.”

As for the ad’s juicy claim that Polis stashed money in the Cayman Islands? The Colorado Springs Gazette’s Ernest Luning joins in the debunking:

As for any “offshore accounts to avoid paying taxes,” a Polis campaign spokeswoman pointed to reporting from 2008, when Polis acknowledged holdings in a company that also maintained a fund in the Cayman Islands for international investors, but said he never had any money in the Cayman fund.

During his run for Congress in 2008, Rep. Polis disclosed all of these financial details–documenting the growth of his personal fortune as well as the years in which he didn’t owe taxes due to investment losses. There was heavy scrutiny of those disclosures by Polis’ opponents in that race, and news reports that validated Polis’ version of all these uncontroversial events.

There’s been tremendous turnover in local media in the ten years between Polis’ run for Congress and his bid for governor, but the RGA made a big mistake in assuming nobody would remember that these details in Polis’ financial history had all been disclosed and questions resolved back in 2008. It’s another case of political operatives knowing an allegation is false, making it anyway, and counting on the new allegation getting more attention than the debunking. Call it “post-truth” politics, which have become the norm in the era of Cory Gardner and Donald Trump.

What we’re seeing here, much like the local media’s revolt against Walker Stapleton’s false ads in the primary or a similar case in 2016 where false and racist attacks against now-Sen. Rachel Zenzinger were audaciously recycled by Republicans–not to mention yesterday’s bizarre “black is white” botched attack on Democratic AG candidate Phil Weiser–is the knowing deception becoming too brazen for even the most complaisant voices to tolerate.

At long last, “post-truth” politics appears to be backfiring in Colorado. That’s a welcome development.


Get More Smarter on Friday (September 7)

Take THAT, glass ceiling. It’s time to Get More Smarter. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of a visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show.



► President Trump is flipping out over that anonymous Op-Ed published by the New York Times on Wednesday afternoon. On Friday Trump said that the Justice Department should try to identify the author because it is a national security concern, but as the Washington Post writes, “It is unclear what law he believes was broken.”

Meanwhile, the New York Times reports that the White House has identified 12 potential suspects who might have authored the Op-Ed.

Who do you think is the author of the infamous Op-Ed? Cast your vote in our poll.


► Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman is suing Purdue Pharma L.P. over the company’s marketing and distribution of the dangerous painkiller Oxycontin. This will be a big issue in the race to succeed Coffman in November; Republican candidate George Brauchler has been reluctant to say much about the opioid epidemic because his campaign is heavily-funded by the pharmaceutical industry.


► Hey, look: Tom Tancredo’s support of Republican gubernatorial candidate Walker Stapleton is becoming more problematic by the day. It turns out that making racist public comments isn’t very helpful for Stapleton. Whodathunkit?


Get even more smarter after the jump…



Get More Smarter on Thursday (September 6)

Do you know what happened on this day in history? Not much, apparently. It’s time to Get More Smarter. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of a visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show.



► President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh is in his third day of Senate hearings, and things in Washington D.C. are getting pretty heated. Kavanaugh has generally refused to offer answers on consequential questions: he won’t say whether he believes the President is obligated to respond to a subpoena or could be legally indicted for a crime; he won’t divulge his opinion on Roe v. Wade; and he won’t say how he might deal with the question of pre-existing conditions as it relates to the Affordable Care Act (the Washington Post has a detailed list of important questions Kavanaugh is dodging).

Today’s hearings took a new turn when Democrats — led by New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker — started to push back on the lack of available information on Kavanaugh. From Politico:

Democrats have fumed for weeks over the withholding of hundreds of thousands of pages of documents from Kavanaugh’s years in the George W. Bush White House, including a massive tranche of records that lawyers working for Bush had limited only to Judiciary Committee senators. That secrecy collapsed in dramatic fashion Thursday as Democratic senators vowed to begin releasing records they said were unfairly shrouded and highly relevant to the confirmation.

One of those confidential documents, obtained by POLITICO, shows Kavanaugh leaving the door open to the high court overturning Roe v. Wade. “I am not sure that all legal scholars refer to Roe as the settled law of the land at the Supreme Court level since [the] Court can always overrule its precedent, and three current Justices on the Court would do so,” President Donald Trump’s nominee wrote in 2003.

That characterization is a distinct contrast with the more measured view of Roe as precedent that Kavanaugh offered on Wednesday. But the day before the document leaked, Kavanaugh was asked on about the exact sentiment he shared back in 2003 and portrayed it as merely a restatement of legal scholars’ opinion, “different from … my position as a judge.”

Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin and Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) are publicly backing up Booker’s decision to release the documents in question.


► President Trump is in full “witch hunt” mode as the White House struggles to contain damning information indicating that Trump is not in contact with all of his marbles. The New York Times on Wednesday afternoon published an anonymous Op-Ed reportedly written by a “senior official in the Trump administration” that reveals an internal “resistance” working diligently to try to prevent Trump from destroying us all. Trump is characterizing the anonymous Op-Ed as “treason” and is reportedly stalking the White House looking for scalps.

As Aaron Blake writes for the Washington Post, it’s hard to argue that we are NOT dealing with a serious threat to Democracy. Stephen Collinson of CNN believes we have crossed a new threshold with Trump:

It’s impossible to know in the moment when a presidency begins to dissolve. But after a devastating 48 hours, it’s already clear that Donald Trump’s will never be the same. [Pols emphasis]

Whatever your view of Trump, his behavior and his presidency, Washington is watching the opening act of a stunning attempt to topple the elected leader of the nation.
Damaging twin portraits of the President in a New York Times op-ed and Bob Woodward’s new book are using the words of current top officials to fracture the mythology of vanity and bombast, conmanship and intimidation of Trump’s personality cult.

In an attack from an enemy within, top officials who see Trump up close, including one calling the band of renegades the “resistance,” are finally daring to say — albeit under Washington’s invisibility cloak of anonymity — what outside critics have long believed.

They warn the President of the United States is not only unfit to be the most powerful man in the world, but is a venal mix of ignorance and ego, pettiness, malignancy and recklessness that is putting the republic and the world itself at risk.

The most popular parlor game in Washington D.C. is trying to figure out the identity of the anonymous Op-Ed author (Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo say they didn’t do it). As Politico reports, this is just the beginning.


President Trump is touting the support of…wait, what?


Get even more smarter after the jump…



Get More Smarter on Wednesday (September 5)

At the very least, we promise not to make you any dumber. It’s time to Get More Smarter. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of a visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show.



► The Washington Post has the latest on Senate confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh:

In his first morning fielding questions from members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Kavanaugh refused to answer an inquiry about whether a president must respond to a subpoena, an issue that could come before the Supreme Court in special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election.

“I can’t give you an answer on that hypothetical question,” he told Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.)

Feinstein had asked Kavanaugh about his views on investigations involving a sitting president. In the 1990s, Kavanaugh was a member of independent counsel Kenneth Starr’s team investigating President Bill Clinton, and took a hard line on questioning the president about what he called lies and “revolting behavior” involving intern Monica Lewinsky.

As James Hohmann writes for the Washington Post, Kavanaugh’s first day of hearings on Tuesday demonstrated the “institutional decline” of the U.S. Senate.

► Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh made other disconcerting headlines on Tuesday when he apparently refused to shake the hand of the father of a student killed in the Parkland High School shooting in Florida.

► The latest fundraising numbers for Colorado legislative races are now available, and the news is not good for Senate Republicans.


► The League of Conservation Voters is spending big bucks on a new ad targeting Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Aurora) over his poor record on environmental issues. As Ernest Luning writes for the publication formerly known as the Colorado Statesman:

LCV Victory Fund, the political arm of the League of Conservation Voters, plans to spend $663,000 on the 30-second ad, which all but accuses Coffman of causing “cancer, asthma, and heart and lung disease” by voting to let donors “spew dangerous toxins” into the air and water. As ominous music plays over grainy images of belching smokestacks, the ad also ties Coffman to President Donald Trump, dubbed “the worst polluter of all.”

The ad — LCV’s first in a House race this cycle — is slated to run for two weeks on broadcast and cable channels, the group said.

Coffman campaign spokesperson Tyler Sandberg tried to point to one of Coffman’s regular fence-sitting positions on the environment, but that argument against the LCV ad didn’t work out:

While Sandberg listed Coffman’s vote last month against a Republican-sponsored amendment to gut the EPA’s rules on methane emissions as an example of bucking his party to side with the environment, Roberts dismissed the argument, pointing to a Coffman vote in favor of the same amendment a year ago.


Get even more smarter after the jump…