Get More Smarter on Friday (Oct. 15)

Have you voted yet? Visit GoVoteColorado.com to check on the status of your mail ballot for 2021. Let’s Get More Smarter. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of an audio learner, check out The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter

 

CORONAVIRUS INFO…

*Colorado Coronavirus info:
CDPHE Coronavirus website 

*Daily Coronavirus numbers in Colorado:
http://covid19.colorado.gov

*How you can help in Colorado:
COVRN.com

*Locate a COVID-19 testing site in Colorado:
Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment 

 

We’re just going to say it: Republican gubernatorial candidate Hiedi Heidi Ganahl is running the worst gubernatorial campaign in the entire country. Ganahl has officially been in the 2022 race for about a month…and it’s already time to start the campaign death watch.

Ganahl started the week by hosting an ill-advised forum with right-wing lunatic Dennis Prager, in which her campaign embarrassingly misspelled her first name for people interested in calling in with questions. On Wednesday, her campaign announced anemic fundraising numbers for someone who is supposed to be the frontrunner for the GOP nomination. And on Thursday, news broke that Ganahl’s campaign manager is leaving the campaign after only a month on the job, which is not something that you can even attempt to legitimately spin as being okay.

This is basically what Ganahl’s campaign looks like at the moment:

 

 

A defamation lawsuit filed by a former employee of Dominion Voting Services in Denver is basically de-pantsing “The Big Lie.” For more on this story, check out Axios Denver, The Colorado Sun, Colorado Public Radio, and 9News, among others.

 

If you’re interested in running for the Republican U.S. Senate nomination in Colorado, you had better hurry up. Pretty much every Republican with a heartbeat is jumping into the field. Charles Ashby of The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel has more on the seventh Republican now running for U.S. Senate in Colorado.

 

The Department of Justice is asking the U.S. Supreme Court to intervene in the case of a controversial new abortion law in Texas. From The Associated Press:

The Biden administration said Friday it will turn next to the U.S. Supreme Court in another attempt to halt a Texas law that has banned most abortions since September.

It comes as the Texas clinics are running out of avenues to stop the GOP-engineered law that bans abortions once cardiac activity is detected, which is usually around six weeks. It amounts to the nation’s biggest curb to abortion in nearly 50 years.

The latest defeat for clinics came Thursday night when a federal appeals panel in New Orleans, in a 2-1 decision, allowed the restrictions to remain in place for a third time in the last several weeks alone.

Justice Department spokesman Anthony Coley said the federal government will now ask the Supreme Court to reverse that decision but did not say how quickly.

 

 Check out these 2021 voter guides from Colorado Newsline and The Denver Post.

 

Click below to keep learning stuff…

 

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Diary of a Bonkers Press Conference in Mesa County

Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters

Mesa County Clerk and Recorder Tina Peters and right-wing activist person Sheronna Bishop (who was also Lauren Boebert’s 2020 campaign manager) stood in front of the steps of the Mesa County Courthouse on Monday morning for a “press conference” to explain more about why Peters shouldn’t have to worry about being under investigation by four different agencies, including the FBI.

Someone with the Mesa County Democratic Party was on hand to provide video of this absolutely bonkers event. It was so incredibly strange, in fact, that we felt compelled to memorialize the event in a diary format.

Watch the event yourself, or click below to follow along with our event diary, which includes an allegation of assault (which clearly didn’t happen) and multiple extended rants against Charles Ashby of The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel.

[*Note: The original video was converted from a vertical format to a horizontal format for easier viewing. The times listed here are from the video.]

 

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Don’t Do It, Lang!

Lang Sias (right) with GOP gubernatorial candidate Walker Stapleton in July 2018.

Colorado Republicans are having a difficult time finding candidates willing to run for statewide office in 2022. Since the GOP can’t manage to find anyone new who is willing to embrace the base and turn off everyone else, they are now looking at ways to recycle.

We’re just 14 months away from the 2022 election, and Republicans still need candidates for Attorney General, State Treasurer, and Secretary of State. As we’ve said many times in this space, the Republican bench in Colorado is a phone booth after two massive Democratic wave years that saw topline candidates pummeled by an average of 10 points. The candidates that Republicans DO have are a disaster, which certainly doesn’t help recruitment efforts; we wouldn’t want to share a ticket with Heidi Ganahl and Eli Bremer, either.

There haven’t been many rumors of potential candidates for Attorney General, where incumbent Democrat Phil Weiser has already raised more than $1.7 million for his re-election campaign. Republicans thought they had a candidate for Secretary of State (SOS) in former Mesa County Commissioner Rose Pugliese, but she decided against a run in part because of the Tina Peters disaster. Term-limited Larimer County Clerk and Recorder Angela Meyers is now rumored to be looking at challenging incumbent Democrat Jena Griswold, assuming Peters doesn’t run herself.

That leaves us with the office of State Treasurer, where the GOP is apparently going back to a well that has already turned up dry multiple times. That’s right, friends: Lang Sias still isn’t done getting kicked in the face by Colorado voters.

If you’re not familiar with Sias, that’s probably because he hasn’t had much success in Colorado politics. The 2020 election marked the first time in a decade that Sias was not a candidate for public office.

Sias has sought elected office in Colorado five times for four different seats. His only November victory came in 2016, when he was an “incumbent” State Representative by virtue of having been selected by a Republican vacancy committee a year earlier. Since 2010, Sias has lost races for State Senate (twice), Congress, and Lieutenant Governor; he didn’t even make it past the Primary Election in half of those contests.

The beatings will continue until Lang Sias improves.

 

So why would Sias return to the political stage in 2022? Because he…can? Honestly, we have no idea.

There are certainly some Republican political consultants who are telling Sias that he can totally beat Democratic incumbent Dave Young, which might be music to Lang’s ambitious ears. Of course, some of those consultants are probably the same people who told Sias that he could be a State Senator or a Congressman (they are also the same people who will read this and tell Sias that “Democrats are afraid of you,” as though anyone would be scared of a candidate with his track record of failure).

By most accounts, Sias seems to be a likable guy with big dreams but limited charisma who is more interesting to Republican power brokers than he is to Colorado voters. If Sias runs for Treasurer and can avoid a Republican Primary, maybe he can change his political fortunes. History would suggest otherwise.

We’re all guilty, from time to time, of listening to what we WANT to hear at the expense of what we NEED to hear. In Sias’ case, what he needs to hear is this: Maybe you should try something else.

Meritless Defense: “Honey Badger” Can’t Save Tina Peters

Heidi Ganahl and Mesa County Clerk and Recorder Tina Peters.

We’ve been holding our peace over the past few days as the “defense” of embattled Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters against allegations that she allowed unauthorized access and the subsequent public leaking of proprietary election system data has taken shape. Represented by former Secretary of State and discredited election conspiracy theorist in his own right Scott “Honey Badger” Gessler, Peters is arguing she should not be stripped of her election supervisory duties owing to Peters’ supposedly good intentions. The Denver Post’s Saja Hindi reports:

Last week, Peters — who had been out of the state for more than a month and has become popular among 2020 election conspiracy theorists — responded to the lawsuit by providing to commissioners and the court a report that alleges wrongdoing by the secretary of state’s office and says that a state upgrade wiped out election records that elections officials are required to keep…

Peters’ attorney, former Republican Secretary of State Scott Gessler, acknowledged in a Sept. 17 legal filing that there was an “unauthorized release of information on one or more publicly available web sites,” [Pols emphasis] but said the actions by Griswold and the county commissioners to remove Peters and Knisley were “wholly disproportionate and directly violate Colorado law.”

Gessler also wrote that Peters “suspected that the Secretary’s trusted build process (annual system update) wiped out election records that she is required to preserve under Colorado law.” So Peters had a consultant copy the hard drive of the county’s Dominion Voting Systems equipment and commissioned the report “which appears to validate (Peters’) suspicions,” Gessler wrote.

Scott Gessler.

In her response filing yesterday, Secretary of State Jena Griswold effectively shredded these convoluted misinformed arguments, explaining how they betray basically total ignorance of how these systems work. CBS4’s Jennifer McRae:

The brief also states that “there is nothing further from the truth” in regards to Peters’ false claims about the destruction of election records during the routine trusted build. Election records are required to be maintained by county clerks for up to 25 months.

Griswold cited the Colorado Election Code and referenced that election records “include items such as: accounting forms, certificates of registration, pollbooks, certificates of election, signature cards, all affidavits, voter applications, other voter lists and records, mail ballot return envelopes, voted ballots, unused ballots, spoiled ballots, and replacement ballots. None of these items were named in the “report” produced by Peters.”

“The Secretary would have no objection to a county backing up its log files for its voting systems—in fact, Larimer County requested to backup their log files prior to a trusted build, and the Department of State helped Larimer County perform such a backup,” the brief states. “Instead, Peters made copies of the entire hard drive, exposing the security of the entire election system when those copies were posted on the Internet.” [Pols emphasis]

Again, the idea that the proper procedure for Clerk Peters to follow if she suspected some kind of illegal act was to commit another crime is so ridiculous it’s embarrassing to anyone making the argument. Helping uncredentialed unqualified conspiracy theorists steal secure data and then going on the lam for a month instead of cooperating with the investigation is not how legitimate whistleblowers call out problems. The so-called “forensic examination” conducted on Peters’ behalf doesn’t appear to take into account what data is legally required to be preserved, and they don’t know enough about the data they were improperly allowed to access to assess the significance (if any) of files being updated or deleted in a system update. And at no point are they able to demonstrate even hypothetically how any of this adds up to changing the results of an election.

In short, Peters’ response is an epic pile of hopelessly uninformed nonsense–just like Gessler’s garbage legal brief for Donald Trump suggesting the presidential election in Nevada was stolen, and just like Gessler’s fruitless failed quest to uncover “tens of thousands of illegal voters” that landed his political career on the rocks back in 2014. Even the all-GOP Mesa County commissioners acknowledged that the Secretary of State has the power to relieve Clerk Peters of her election responsibilities. It’s a completely meritless defense, and we’re awaiting only the judge’s ruling saying so.

And then at some point after that, hopefully soon, criminal charges.

Death Threats Against Jena Griswold: You Already Know Why

Fact-deprived conspiracy theorists and the armed activists who love them continue to insist without evidence that the 2020 elections were stolen from Donald Trump, the fervent belief in which pushing a small but troublingly well-armed and vociferous segment of the population toward what they tell us could be another civil war. The failed insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on January 6th resulted in a temporary realignment of some Republicans away from Trump and the subversive conspiracy theories underpinning continued resistance to Trump’s defeat, but that proved to be only temporary–GOP congressional leadership soon came crawling back as it became clear that the Republican rank and file were unshakably loyal to Trump.

Today, across the country “dead-ender” supporters of Trump are still agitating without evidence that the election was stolen, though attempts to prove that to anyone outside their own self-reinforcing circle of misinformation have fallen apart. But as Denver7’s Sloan Dickey reports, for those already convinced that what they want to believe is true, there’s no need to wait any longer to start making death threats:

The Colorado Secretary of State’s Office shared some of those threats with Denver7. The comments were posted to [SoS Jena] Griswold’s personal and public social media accounts and sent in direct messages. The messages make direct and gruesome threats against her life.

“I KNOW WHERE YOU SLEEP, I SEE YOU SLEEPING. BE AFRAID, BE VERY AFRAID. I hope you die,” one message said.

“Everyone knows… there are people looking for you,” another said.

Thousands more posts and threats, many with unrepeatable vulgarity, have filled her online accounts over the past year. She says the threats come as she works to increase access to voting and election security in Colorado.

In Mesa County, where Republican elected officials have been threatened with civil war over public health measures to combat the COVID-19 pandemic and more recently pilloried for purchasing new election equipment from the same Dominion Voting Systems at the center of the most prevalent conspiracy theories about 2020, the rhetoric hasn’t gotten as personal. Given the vitriol fellow Republicans in Mesa County have contended with for months from their own putative base, it’s not hard to understand how Colorado’s Democratic Secretary of State would be targeted with much, much worse.

While in the end you can’t call these grotesque threats against Secretary of State Griswold a surprise, it’s our sincere hope that they’re dealt with as rigorously as the law allows. With the scandal over Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters’ allegedly criminal actions trying and failing to prove the “Big Lie” dominating the headlines, we feel there’s a need for the public to understand what’s happening to Secretary of State Griswold as a byproduct of the same pressure.

There’s no excuse for any of it, and Republicans have the primary obligation to stand up against it.

Who The Hell Would Want To Be A GOP SoS Candidate Today?

Rose Pugliese (left) and Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters.

Ernest Luning of the Colorado Springs Gazette’s political blog took note of a Tweet yesterday from Rose Pugliese, the Republican former Mesa County commissioner widely expected to run for Secretary of State against Democratic incumbent Jena Griswold, putting the brakes on that speculation–which as we noted a month ago was getting wobbly:

“Despite speculation that I am ‘running for something,’ ” Pugliese tweeted, “I have decided not to run for office at this time so that I can focus on providing for my two young children.”

Since early this year, Pugliese has been making the rounds at GOP functions while chatter grew that she intended to run against Griswold, the first Democrat elected secretary of state in nearly 60 years.

The announcement leaves Colorado Republicans without even a rumored candidate for the state’s top election office. Since last year, Griswold has been at the center of a partisan firestorm surrounding voting methods and unfounded allegations of widespread election fraud by former President Donald Trump and his supporters.

Rose Pugliese shows her support for Tina Peters in 2018.

Pugliese was a regular feature at Republican Party fundraisers through the summer of 2021, often joined by all-but-announced gubernatorial candidate Heidi Ganahl in what very much looked like a preview of the 2022 ticket. Pugliese had set up a generic fundraising entity “Rose For Colorado” chaired by GOP usual suspect functionary Katie Kennedy, and by all accounts was pretty far down the field toward launching a run for Secretary of State–“running for something,” anyway, like we said back in April.

So what happened? Notwithstanding personal circumstances we’re not able to speak to, the simple truth is that Rose Pugliese was severely compromised by the election data breach in Mesa County for which Pugliese’s longtime friend and political ally Tina Peters is now under criminal investigation. There was no way Pugliese could launch a campaign for the state’s chief elections officer without addressing the scandal in Mesa County, and any answer she gave would have the effect of undermining her campaign–with either the Republican base who think Tina Peters is a hero, or everybody else.

And that brings us to the next question: given the chasm between Republicans who believe without evidence that the 2020 elections were stolen from Donald Trump and the reality the rest of us live in, what Republican in their right mind would want to run for Colorado Secretary of State in 2022? Republican county clerks who dare to challenge the conspiracy theorists in their own party are subjected to threats and harassment. Trump and his minions are constantly on watch for signs of disloyalty. But at the same time, an SoS candidate who embraces the increasingly nonsensical conspiracy theories pushed by Trump’s dead-enders cannot possibly win a statewide election in Colorado.

If Rose Pugliese sized up this politically untenable situation and decided “no thanks,” it’s tough to blame her. The question is, can any Republican win the Secretary of State race in 2022 with Trump looming over their shoulder?

As of today, that seems unlikely.

“The Big Line: 2022” Updates (August 2021)

Back in June, we went through the five statewide offices that will be on the ballot in 2022 in an attempt to provide some clarity about who (on the Republican side) might be running for what in Colorado. Two months later, the 2022 election situation (and The Big Line) remains what you might charitably call, “fluid” for the GOP. Here’s a look at where things stand as of today with each of the five big statewide races…

 

En garde!

U.S. SENATE

Former El Paso County Republican Party Chairperson Eli Bremer made it official earlier this month that he will seek the GOP nomination for U.S. Senate in 2022, with his eyes on incumbent Democrat Michael Bennet next November. Bremer is virtually unknown to most Colorado voters and isn’t even a slam dunk choice for more politically-astute Republicans, but he’s probably a better option for the GOP than Juli Henry, strange newcomer Erik Aadland or Peter Yu, who ran a no-hope campaign in CO-02 in 2020 before losing to incumbent Democrat Joe Neguse.

The big remaining question for Republicans is whether someone else might join the GOP field for Senate, with right-wing radio host/attorney Dan Caplis still pondering a campaign of his own. Caplis is certainly not more likely to defeat Bennet in a General Election, but he could make the Republican Primary more interesting.

 

Bottom Line: If Republicans had a good candidate to run for U.S. Senate in 2022, that person would likely already be in the race. Bennet wasn’t going to be a national target for Republicans anyway — not after former Sen. Cory Gardner face-planted last November — so the eventual GOP nominee is essentially just the person who will finish in second place 15 months from now.   

 

Heidi Ganahl

GOVERNOR

Republicans know that they aren’t going to beat incumbent Democrat Jared Polis in 2022, but somebody has to try. Former Parker Mayor Greg Lopez has been running for Governor since [checks calendar] August 2019, but his ceiling isn’t much higher than the third place finish he had in the 2018 GOP gubernatorial primary.

University of Colorado Regent Heidi Ganahl is the lone remaining Republican statewide officeholder in Colorado. She has been teasing a potential run for Governor since late 2020. After flirting with the possibility of running for State Treasurer instead, it appears that Ganahl will indeed jump into the race (officially) sometime in early September.

 

Bottom Line: This is Polis’ race to lose. Ganahl’s candidacy doesn’t change that.

 

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Signs Point to Possible But Difficult Road to Victory for GOP Activists Who Want to Opt Out of Primaries

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

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With a crucial vote coming before the Colorado Republican Party’s state central committee next month on whether to continue allowing unaffiliated voters to participate in Republican primary elections, recent voting records of that governing body indicate that grassroots Republicans hold power over establishment members, and could indicate that the state GOP will opt out of open primary elections.

Three different votes on issues before the state central committee in the past year indicate that, with the current composition of the 518-member committee, grassroots-affiliated members could prevail in their campaign to have the GOP opt-out of open primaries and, instead, select their nominees for federal and state races through systems of caucus, convention, or assembly in which only Republicans can participate.

First, last summer, the state central committee elected Randy Corporon — a Tea Party leader, conspiracist attorney, talk radio host, and Trump supporter — to the position of National Committeeman for the state of Colorado.

Corporon cites this win over Eli Bremer, an establishment Republican who recently announced his campaign to challenge incumbent U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO), as proof that the grassroots-affiliated central committee members hold sway with their numbers.

“When I was elected Republican National Committeeman with more votes than the next two establishment candidates, Bill Cadman and Eli Bremer,” said Corporon on his Saturday morning conservative talk radio show on KNUS, “that’s the Republican Central Committee. That’s those delegates voting. And so we know that the people who actually take the time to donate their time to the Republican Party and be a part of this structure are the conservatives that want to see a fighting Republican Party.”

Then, this spring, the Colorado GOP state central committee voted to install Kristi Burton Brown as Chairwoman of the party over her establishment rival, former Colorado Secretary of State Scott Gessler.

Burton Brown cut her teeth in politics as a teenaged grassroots activist organizing for Colorado’s first Personhood Amendment, an anti-abortion referendum that failed in 2008. Similar versions of Personhood subsequently failed again, twice, in 2010 and 2012.

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Coming Soon: Official GOP Campaign Announcements

Cowabunga!

We’ve noted on more than one occasion in this space that the Republican field of potential candidates for 2022 is remarkably sparse. That may be about to change.

Two things are different this week that might lead to some long-awaited announcements from 2022 hopefuls: 1) The Q2 fundraising period has concluded, and 2) We’ve made it past the extended holiday weekend(s) tacked onto Fourth of July festivities.

Candidates historically tend to wait until the beginning of a new fundraising quarter to officially launch their bids for elected office. A candidate’s first fundraising quarter is often a good barometer of the potential strength of that campaign, so it’s smart practice to time announcements to take full advantage of every available day in a particular fundraising period (in this case, after June 30). It’s also a wise idea to avoid making a big announcement when people aren’t paying attention to the news; thus this is the first conceivable week in which it would make sense to kick off a big campaign.

Overall, the field of potential candidates for statewide office in Colorado remains about as muddled as it was when we examined the subject in mid-June. We’ve updated The Big Line: 2022 with the latest chatter, but here are the Republican announcements we’re expecting within the next several weeks:

 

Secretary of State: Rose Pugliese
Pugliese’s interest in challenging Democratic incumbent Jena Griswold has been an open secret for months; at the same time, chatter about other potential SOS challengers has gone quiet. If you were going to bet money on the most likely GOP announcement for statewide office, this would be a fairly safe choice.

U.S. Senate: Eli Bremer
The former El Paso County GOP Chairman has been positioning himself to be the Republican nominee for Senate since well before 2021. We hear that Bremer has already had fairly extensive discussions with the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) and is beginning to pick up support from key Republican names in Colorado. Bremer is also believed to be further along than any other potential candidate in terms of forming a campaign staff. With so much uncertainty in the GOP field, there’s strategic value in being the first “plausible” Republican to announce a 2022 Senate campaign against incumbent Democrat Michael Bennet. It makes sense for Bremer to make his move here within the next few weeks.

Governor: Heidi Ganahl
Ganahl is the lone Republican statewide elected official in Colorado (she’s a CU Regent) and has been working hard to raise her profile in anticipation of a run for something bigger. After vacillating between running for Governor or State Treasurer, it looks like Ganahl is getting close to making her gubernatorial ambitions official (even though recent polling shows Ganahl losing to incumbent Democrat Jared Polis by 20 points). Ganahl might wait a little longer to make the jump than Pugliese and Bremer, but we expect this announcement fairly soon.

 

We’re still waiting to hear more about potential GOP candidates for State Treasurer or Attorney General. The former seems to be attracting more interest among Republicans, which means there might be more behind-the-scenes maneuvering that needs to take place before any official announcement.

Arizona State Senator Thanks CO Conservative for Educating AZ Lawmakers on ‘Our Ability To Do the Audit’

(At the center of every Tootsie Pop is a Colorado Republican operative – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

An Arizona lawmaker thanked a Colorado conservative last week for educating the Arizona legislators about their authority to challenge the state’s certified 2020 presidential election results–and about their ability to conduct an audit on ballots cast in the populous urban center of Maricopa County.

Rob Natelson, a senior fellow at the Independence Institute, a local conservative think tank, denies advising the AZ legislators to launch the audit. He said that the AZ lawmakers invited him to present over two Zoom calls, and that he incurred no expenses in giving his presentation.

“I wanted to give a shout out to Rob Natelson, our country’s premier Constitutional scholar, who educated the legislators in Arizona on the plenary power we possess in elections, our abiliyt to do the audit, and our responsibility to finding the truth, all at no cost,” stated Arizona state Sen. Kelly Townsend, a Republican, on Telegram, a messaging app that’s been described as a haven for the far right.

In response to an inquiry from the Colorado Times Recorder, Natelson said:

“My communications with the [Arizona] legislature were limited to clarifying issues of constitutional law. I informed lawmakers that … the Constitution grants the state legislature power to determine the method of choosing presidential electors. I said that they should take action only if they thought there were irregularities and if they thought those irregularities might have changed the election result. I don’t recall suggesting any particular course of action.”

Arizona Sen. Kelly Townsend (R-Mesa) did not respond to a request for comment regarding her social media post mentioning Natelson, who is a weekly columnist for The Epoch Times.

The “recount” of all 2.1 million ballots cast in Maricopa County, Arizona, was launched by the GOP-controlled AZ state senate in late April, five months after the 2020 presidential elections results in AZ were certified and following two formal audits of random samplings of Maricopa ballots and a formal hand-recount that revealed no discrepancies.

By statute, formal audits are required before certifying results in more than 40 states, including in Colorado.

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

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

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

 

U.S. SENATE

Sen. Michael Bennet

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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“Recall Polis 2021” Sets Sights On Double #Fail

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

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

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

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

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

Get More Smarter on Friday (April 16)

Happy World Voice Day. Please yell out responsibly. Let’s Get More Smarter; if you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of an audio learner, check out The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter.

 

CORONAVIRUS INFO…

*Colorado Coronavirus info:
CDPHE Coronavirus website 

*Daily Coronavirus numbers in Colorado:
http://covid19.colorado.gov

*How you can help in Colorado:
COVRN.com

*Locate a COVID-19 testing site in Colorado:
Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment 

 

The Indianapolis Star reports on yet another mass shooting in the United States, this one at a FedEx distribution site in Indianapolis:

Officers arrived to a “chaotic and active” crime scene, according to IMPD Deputy Chief of Investigations Craig McCartt.

Eight people, plus the suspected gunman, were found dead in and around the facility. It’s believed the shooter died by suicide shortly before police arrived.

McCartt said at a Friday morning news conference that the shooter arrived at the building and began “randomly” firing in the parking lot — with no confrontation or argument before the shooting started. He then went inside the building and continued shooting. Four people were found dead outside and four were found dead inside.

 

► Republican State Rep. Ron Hanks, the “Insurrectionist Man of Mystery,” continues to press his case as the biggest asshole in the Colorado legislature. Hanks attempted to give lawmakers a history lesson on Thursday and warmed up with a really tasteless joke. From 9News:

Hanks (R-Penrose) falsely alleged that the three-fifths compromise was not “impugning anybody’s humanity” while debating a civics education bill on the House floor Thursday.

“The three-fifths compromise, of course, was an effort by non-slave states … to try and reduce the amount of representation that the slave states had,” Hanks said. “It was not impugning anybody’s humanity.”

This comment was preceded by another where he referenced being mistakenly called up as Rep. Mike Lynch (R-Wellington).

“Being called Mr. Lynch might be a good thing for what I’m about to say … no, just kidding,” Hanks said.

Hanks’ ridiculous comments earned him national headlines.

 

Let’s check in on more state legislative news:

The House of Representatives approved the annual state budget bill despite a few mindless protests from Republican lawmakers.

A bill that would reduce sentencing requirements for felony murder convictions is on its way to the desk of Gov. Jared Polis. On Thursday, Gov. Polis signed into law a bill that allows victims of child sexual abuse more time to bring civil lawsuits against perpetrators.

Lawmakers are considering making significant changes to admission requirements for colleges and universities.

A new law will give formerly incarcerated people with firefighting experience more opportunities to return to the firefighting profession.

Legislation that would have required ski resorts to provide more transparency about injuries on the slopes died in committee.

Pueblo County is opposing a proposal to speed up the process of reducing harmful emissions in Colorado.

Dave Perry of The Aurora Sentinel voices support for the “Colorado Option” healthcare plan being debated in the state legislature.

 

The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel confirms a story first reported here at Colorado Pols about former Mesa County Commissioner Rose Pugliese withdrawing her name from consideration as Mesa County Attorney…which probably has something to do with the fact that Pugliese wants to run for Secretary of State and now lives in Colorado Springs.

 

 Republican Qaucus leaders were the ONLY two Members of Congress to vote NO on a routine reauthorization of the nation’s bone marrow registry and umbilical cord blood used in bone marrow transplants. Republican Reps. Lauren “Q*Bert” Boebert and Marjorie Taylor Greene represented the “2” in the 415-2 vote in favor of H.R. 941.

 

 

More political (and coronavirus) news is available right after the jump…

 

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Rose Pugliese for County Attorney, or SOS, or Whatever

FRIDAY UPDATE: Charles Ashby of The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel confirms what we first reported on Thursday: Rose Pugliese withdrew her name from consideration for the Mesa County Attorney position:

In a letter of withdrawal sent on Tuesday, Pugliese told Commissioners Janet Rowland, Cody Davis and Scott McInnis that she’s not yet done with politics. As a result, she is not ready to take a bureaucratic position where she isn’t supposed to be political.

“Thank you for the opportunity to interview with you as a finalist for the Mesa County Attorney position,” Pugliese wrote in a letter of withdrawal from consideration. “Upon much deliberation and prayer, I realized that at this point in my life, my passion lies in my political work, and I am not ready yet to put that work aside. The county attorney needs to possess political savvy without being political. Therefore, I withdraw my name from consideration.”

This would also seem to confirm our original point: That Pugliese is focused on running for Secretary of State in 2022.

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Rose Pugliese (current title pending)

As we had previously reported in this space, the endlessly-ambitious former Mesa County Commissioner Rose Pugliese is seeking the Republican nomination for Secretary of State in 2022. From what we hear, Pugliese recently moved to Colorado Springs in part to make it easier to seek statewide office by being geographically closer to the majority of voters and potential donors.

Unless Pugliese is about to become the new Mesa County Attorney in Grand Junction.

Stick with us, because this story is a bit messy…

Pugliese has long been mentioned as a potential “rising star” in the Republican Party. In September 2019, The Denver Post featured Pugliese along with failed SD-27 candidate Suzanne Staiert Taheri and State Sen. Kevin Priola as three Republicans who could “save the Colorado GOP from obscurity.”

Pugliese has positioned herself as a champion of right-wing issues like Climate Change denial and blind obedience to the oil and gas industry, and her extracurricular political activities have kept her name in the mix in GOP circles for other jobs (Pugliese finished her second term as Mesa County Commissioner in January). In 2020, Pugliese was one of the main organizers of a failed effort to overturn a Colorado law that seeks to award the state’s electoral votes to the Presidential candidate who wins the National Popular Vote.

Pugliese was rumored to be on the short list of potential running mates for 2018 Republican gubernatorial candidate Walker Stapleton (former State Rep. Lang Sias was ultimately awarded that turd of a prize). In 2019, Pugliese registered a campaign committee to run for a state senate seat in SD-07…in 2022. Pugliese terminated that committee on February 22, 2021, which was probably a good idea since she no longer lived in the district; public records show that Pugliese purchased a home in Colorado Springs in October 2020, and on January 5, 2021, she officially changed her voter registration to that same address. This move was not a secret: She penned a thank you letter to Mesa County citizens that ran in The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel in December 2020 in which she noted her plans to relocate to Colorado Springs (the bio on her website also lists her as a resident of Colorado Springs).

Now, here’s where things get weird. On Sunday The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel reported that the Mesa County Board of Commissioners was struggling to defend its decision to announce Pugliese as THE SOLE FINALIST for the job of Mesa County Attorney, which [checks map] is nowhere near Colorado Springs. That decision came only after previous finalists apparently failed to impress someone, as the Sentinel explains:

On Feb. 15 the commissioners publicly announced that they had chosen Atencio and Chief Deputy District Attorney Jennifer Lee Springer as the two finalists. Atencio has been with the county attorney’s office for a decade, while Springer has worked in the DA’s office for more than a dozen years.

Commissioners then formally interviewed Atencio and Springer in separate close-door sessions on March 16, but three days after that the application process was reopened, which was announced with little fanfare and no comments during a regular commissioners’ meeting.

The second round was intended to increase the applicant pool, resulting in six additional people applying, including Pugliese…

…The following Monday, Pugliese was named the sole finalist.

Pugliese acknowledged her role in this process in an interview with the Sentinelin which she noted again that she had already moved to Colorado Springs:

Pugliese told The Daily Sentinel that she didn’t apply during the first round primarily because she had recently moved to Colorado Springs with her two young children, and was starting a new job there in the law offices of Wegener, Scarborough & Lane, where she is of counsel along with Willett working on estate planning and business development for municipal and county outsourced work.

Headline from Grand Junction Daily Sentinel editorial (4/11/21)

It’s also worth noting that the law firm of Wegener, Scarborough, and Lane lists Pugliese as a staff attorney, which is a job she could not have held prior to January on account of the fact that she was still a Mesa County Commissioner. Anyway, Pugliese was supposed to have her final interview for the Mesa County Attorney job on Monday. But from what we hear, Pugliese instead withdrew her name as a candidate for the position.

Perhaps Pugliese’s name is out of the mix for County Attorney because of public criticism (on Sunday, the editorial board of The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel blasted the decision to name Pugliese as the sole finalist). Maybe Pugliese finally realized that a daily commute from Colorado Springs to Grand Junction would be a nightmare. Or…it’s possible that Pugliese figures that this sort of dysfunction is exactly the sort of thing that would endear her to a GOP base that remains devoted to Donald Trump. Support Rose Pugliese for Secretary of State, or she’ll do something else!

Former CO Sec. of State Gessler Brags About Engineering Negative Press Coverage of Current SOS

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Former Secretary of State Scott Gessler.

During a GOP chair forum hosted by an election-fraud conspiracy group, former Colorado Secretary of State Scott Gessler bragged about being responsible for a negative news report about the current Secretary of State Jena Griswold.

Asked to list his unpaid work on behalf of the Colorado GOP during the last election, Gessler ticked off a number of activities including candidate training, fundraising and media work.

He then claimed credit for a Colorado Public Radio story about Griswold, a Democrat, that Gessler described as containing, “a lot of bad information about her.”

“I actually did it. I made sure [Colorado Public Radio] got it,” said Gessler at the GOP forum.

He didn’t explicitly name the headline, but an Oct. 9 Colorado Public Radio story that explored a rift between county clerks and Griswold seems far and away the most likely story.

Gessler, who is quoted in a similar Denver Post story published the previous day saying bluntly, “She does not know her (expletive),” did not return a call requesting comment and confirmation as to which CPR story he was referring to.

Reached by phone, CPR investigative reporter Ben Markus said he could neither confirm nor deny Gessler’s claims.

“Also in the media, you’ll remember, for example, I worked on a fair amount of media behind the scenes,” Gessler began. “Colorado Public Radio did that piece on the Secretary of State Donetta Dav– I’m sorry, Jena Griswold. There was a lot of bad information about her. There was a way that that got in Colorado Public Radio’s hands. And I helped make sure that that–I actually did it. I made sure they got it…

And I’ll tell you, I spent probably 10 to 15 hours over the last two weeks talking to a number of Republican clerks and recorders, walking them through how to do the ClearBallot review of Dominion, how to deal with the public policy implications and the PR side. I’m the guy that they call.”

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Top Ten Stories of 2020 #9: Colorado’s “Gold Standard” Election Chumps Trump

A press release on December 8th from Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold celebrated another successful major election in 2020, which this year saw the highest-ever rate of participation by eligible Colorado voters and came second only to Minnesota for the honor of highest participation rate nationwide:

“The 2020 General Election will be remembered as one of the most challenging and successful elections in our state’s history,” said Secretary Griswold. “Colorado rose to the challenge of executing a successful general election during a pandemic by adding access and safeguards. Over 3.2 million Coloradans made their voices heard, setting the highest record number of voters participating in any election held in state history. We are tremendously proud of this success, and I commend my staff and county clerks offices for all their diligent work this year.”

…In addition to a record number of voters participating, Coloradans also embraced the new initiatives that the Colorado Secretary of State’s Office introduced for the election, including statewide BallotTrax and Txt2Cure. A total of 1,771,523 voters (53.8% of all ballots returned) enrolled in BallotTrax. Meanwhile, a total of 11,085 voters utilized Txt2Cure to conveniently cure any signature discrepancies.

This year, voting by mail increased dramatically nationwide in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. But in Colorado, a comprehensive election system built for accessibility featuring mail ballots automatically sent to all active voters and same-day voter registration has been in place since 2013. 2020 was the fourth federal election carried out under House Bill 13-1303’s landmark election reforms, and voters in Colorado are very much at ease with the popular system. Security measures like signature verification have proven effective, and this year an innovative “cure by text” system allowed voters to fix ballots with signature or other problems instead of their votes simply being rejected.

Colorado’s successful history with the exact manner of election that President Donald Trump has seized upon as the excuse for his defeat in the presidential race nationwide is a major logical inconsistency for Colorado Republicans. Although the 2013 election reforms were bitterly opposed by Republicans who warned they would lead to outlandish consequences, many of those same Republicans became defenders of Colorado’s mail ballot system once they saw that it doesn’t actually give either party an advantage–it simply increases access to the vote, which both parties can benefit from. After this year’s election, Colorado GOP chairman Rep. Ken Buck angered diehard Trump supporters by hosting an event with Republican county clerks debunking the conspiracy theories about mail ballots and locally-based election system vendor Dominion Voting Systems.

Unfortunately, none of this was enough to convince a segment of local Republicans determined to side with Trump over their lying eyes. A hearing of the state’s Legislative Audit Committee, convened by a retiring GOP lawmaker because it was one of the only such stunts that could be pulled without the consent of the Democratic majority, devolved into a parody of laughably vague allegations and grudging concessions by local Trump attorney Jenna Ellis that there’s no actual evidence Colorado’s elections were anything but free and fair. In the end, Colorado’s uncontroversial experience discredits the 2020 election “truthers” as well as any of the 50+ court rulings across the country they’ve lost.

In a few weeks, we hope, local Republicans will be able to admit this freely once again like they used to.

That will be nice, because right now their cognitive dissonance is head-splitting.

Yes Colorado, Post Card Palooza Was One Giant Setup

Meet the pitcher and the catcher.

This afternoon, as Ernest Luning of the Colorado Springs Gazette’s political blog reports, the other shoe dropped in a situation we’ve been following for a number of days–an erroneous story at CBS4 Denver about post cards sent to non-voters outlining eligibility requirements to register to vote, since deleted, which has caused a nationwide wave of misplaced anxiety on the right, “confirming” their groundless fears that mail ballots are an impending disaster:

U.S. Rep. Ken Buck, the chairman of the Colorado Republican Party, on Tuesday demanded an explanation about allegations contained in a TV news story that was retracted over the weekend concerning a mailing sent to potential voters by Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold, a Democrat…

CBS4 news director Tim Wieland pulled the story Sunday afternoon and replaced it later that night with an interview with Griswold meant to “[set] the record straight,” but not until after conservative news outlets and Republican personalities had blown up the misleading account across the internet.

The Denver Post’s Justin Wingerter:

U.S. Rep. Ken Buck, who chairs the Colorado Republican Party, has asked the Justice Department and Federal Election Commission to investigate postcards sent by the Colorado Secretary of State’s Office, the latest escalation in a dispute that began with a debunked and retracted television news story.

“The American people deserve to know that the 2020 election will be conducted in a fair and transparent manner,” Buck wrote to the federal officials Wednesday. “As such, I urge the DOJ and FEC to open an investigation into the Colorado Secretary of State’s efforts to register individuals who are ineligible to vote.”

Somewhere in here, Buck either became or always was fully aware that this entire story was wrong. If he needed any further confirmation, he could have asked Republican Secretaries of State Wayne Williams and Scott Gessler–both of whom sent similar post cards during their own terms in office. From Luning’s story:

[Betsy Hart, the secretary of state’s communications director] added that the election information postcard was first sent out using a similarly compiled list by Griswold’s GOP predecessor Scott Gessler, and former Secretary of State Wayne Williams, also a Republican, continued the practice through his four-year term. [Pols emphasis]

Given that this entire nontroversy is based on a news report which has been retracted by the original outlet, a fact which every subsequent story has been diligent in noting, Buck’s request for a formal investigation into the Colorado Secretary of State by the Justice Department isn’t off to what you’d call a good start. In fact, barreling forward with this grandstand regardless of what facts emerge subsequently is a pretty good indicator that it was all a setup.

And the timing isn’t the only thing that looks canned:

Buck said the state party heard from a woman who received the postcard addressed to her late mother, who died in 2016 and hadn’t lived in the state since 1967. [Pols emphasis]

Flashback to the now-deleted original CBS4 report from Shaun Boyd:

Karen Anderson says she opened her mail about a week ago to find one of the postcards. It was addressed to her mom.

“Which sounds really nice except my mother has been dead four years and she hasn’t lived, voted, owned property, worked, or done anything other than visit Colorado since 1967.” [Pols emphasis]

That would be, barring a remarkable coincidence, the same person.

While this isn’t enough to prove that Buck and the state GOP are the ones who shopped this bogus story to CBS4 to begin with, it’s pretty likely the case based on the available information. It looks to us like Buck engineered the original story for the purpose of justifying his groundless investigation request to the Justice Department against Colorado’s Secretary of State–and when the story fell apart due to lacking a factual basis, Buck simply carried on with his plan.

The bottom line is the same, and it will be the same no matter how many times it needs to be repeated: this post card wasn’t sent to anyone on the “voter rolls.” Eligibility requirements to vote have not changed. As much as Republicans, even Colorado Republicans who are supposed to know better wish it were so, there is no scandal.

Only partisan distractions, boosted by bad journalism.

Shaun Boyd, CBS4 Denver Still Missing the Point

CBS4 Disinformation Political Specialist Shaun Boyd, still missing the point.

Over the weekend, CBS4 Denver News Director Tim Wieland took the unusual — but correct –step of removing a story from its website because it was factually inaccurate.

On Sunday, CBS4 Denver and Shaun Boyd published a DIFFERENT story about its own erroneously-reported news from a few days earlier. Look at this headline:

“Colorado’s Secretary Of State Sets The Record Straight On Voter Registration Postcards”

The only “record” that needed to be set straight was the false one created by Boyd on Friday, but Boyd’s new lede doesn’t make that at all clear:

Secretary of State Jena Griswold is trying to clear up any confusion after a story by CBS4 about a voter registration mailing by her office.

This would have been a better lede: Secretary of State Jena Griswold explains why a previous CBS4 Denver story was totally wrong. 

While this new CBS4 story is obviously a sort of mea culpa to the Colorado Secretary of State’s (SOS) office, Boyd’s framing hasn’t changed much from her original nonsense narrative:

The mailing she’s referring to says: “Our records indicate that you or a member of your household may be eligible to vote but do not appear to be registered at your current address.” It goes on to delineate the qualifications to vote: 18 years of age, U.S. citizen and Colorado resident at least 22 days before the election.

As CBS4 reported last week, about a dozen of the postcards — that we know of — went to people who were not citizens or deceased. [Pols emphasis]

Some people got a postcard with information that doesn’t apply to them. So what?

The inference here is that the SOS office is encouraging non-citizens and dead people to vote in the 2020 election, but this is a silly projection that has no factual basis. Encouraging people to register to vote in no way ensures that they will then register to vote or be eligible to do so. Perhaps Boyd is the sort of person who receives a letter from Publishers Clearing House that says “you may have won $1 million dollars” and immediately assumes that she did, in fact, become a millionaire overnight. Alas, receiving a piece of mail — whether you were meant to receive it or not — does not provide you with any special abilities or advantages that you didn’t have before you opened your mailbox.

This vague “voter fraud” inference is, unfortunately, exactly what Republicans such as Donald Trump, Jr. are eager to promote. Take a look at this Tweet from right-wing nonsense provocateur George Brauchler:

Boyd’s false reporting encourages nitwits like Brauchler to break out their Twitter machines and cry out “fraud,” but it doesn’t change the very important fact that NON-CITIZENS AND DEAD PEOPLE CAN’T REGISTER TO VOTE (for that matter, dead people also can’t read a postcard that was erroneously mailed to their former residence). As Ian Silverii of ProgressNow Colorado explained via Twitter:

Voter fraud in Colorado and the rest of the United States is virtually nonexistent (in the 2016 election, there were four documented cases of voter fraud out of about 138 million votes cast, which works out to about 0.00000003 percent). Christopher Wray, the Director of the FBI, testified in front of the Senate Homeland Security Committee LAST WEEK and reaffirmed the safety of our elections:

“Now, we have not seen, historically, any kind of coordinated national voter fraud effort in a major election, whether it’s by mail or otherwise.”

It is nice that CBS4 Denver allowed SOS Jena Griswold the opportunity to correct their own misinformation, but this second story does not fix the original mistake. This is just doubling-down on bad journalism with more bad journalism.

Take Trump’s Advice? Jena Griswold Says She’ll Lock You Both Up

Donald Trump.

As the Denver Post’s David Migoya reports, Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold responded with emphasis to last week’s suggestion by President Donald Trump that voters in North Carolina cast both mail and in-person ballots, meaning vote twice, which is in case you didn’t already know this is a crime everywhere including in Colorado:

Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold said Monday she would consider referring President Donald Trump for prosecution in cases where double-voting is suspected in the state.

In the latest salvo against Trump and his call for voters to test the integrity of election systems by casting both mail-in and in-person ballots, Griswold tweeted that her office is serious about combating voter fraud…

“It’s important to underline to the president and the U.S. attorney general and anyone who is confused that it’s illegal to double vote,” Griswold told The Denver Post in an interview Monday. “We have safeguards in place, including signature verification, laws on ballot collection, and checking the participation in other states. If the president is causing people to vote twice, he could be partially to blame and we’ll explore the options if it happens.”

As we all learned again exhaustively during the impeachment proceedings, a sitting President can’t be criminally prosecuted, but assuming Trump becomes a private citizen in January it’s certainly possible that Trump could find himself criminally liable for this and any number of other misdeeds–as Rep. Ken Buck sussed out himself in questioning special prosecutor Robert Mueller. It’s fair to note that objectively speaking, encouraging voters to commit election fraud could find itself down the list of prosecutable offenses.

Republicans like Sen. Cory Gardner commonly downplay Trump’s rhetorical outrages by claiming it doesn’t matter, and Trump “blowing off steam” doesn’t do any real-world harm. This becomes a more difficult pretense to maintain when the President instructs his supporters in detail to commit felonies, and reminds us as he did after he told “his people” to “slow the testing down” that he never makes jokes.

Here’s another fair warning: don’t try it, at least not on Jena Griswold’s watch.

Goddamn Right I’m Sabotaging The Postal Service, Says Trump

MONDAY UPDATE: WTF?

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U.S. Postmaster General Louis DeJoy.

National Public Radio reports on an admission so jaw-dropping it could only be…an average Thursday in Donald Trump’s train wreck presidency:

While President Trump has long railed against mail-in voting, falsely claiming it leads to rampant fraud, he appeared to confirm Thursday morning that he opposes Democrats’ proposed boost in funding for the U.S. Postal Service because he wants to make it harder to expand voting by mail…

“They [the Democrats] want three and a half billion dollars for something that’ll turn out to be fraudulent — that’s election money basically,” Trump said.

Continued the president: “They want $25 billion for the post office. Now, they need that money in order to have the post office work so it can take all of these millions and millions of ballots. Now, in the meantime, they aren’t getting there. But if they don’t get those two items, that means you can’t have universal mail-in voting because they’re not equipped to have it.” [Pols emphasis]

First of all, there is no proposal for “universal mail-in voting” at the federal level. For all the discussion about migrating to a mail ballot system during the COVID-19 pandemic, only two additional states have switched to primarily mail ballots in addition to the six states including Colorado that already conduct mail ballot elections.

Trump’s characteristically frank admission that he opposes more money for the U.S. Postal Service because he doesn’t want USPS to be able to handle mail ballots is fully consistent with the reports of new policies within the Postal Service that are slowing down the delivery of mail across the country–policies put in place by Trump’s newly appointed postmaster general Louis DeJoy, a campaign donor and supporter. Taken together, these clearly point to an agenda by the Trump administration to deliberately harm the USPS–and blame any resultant election chaos on the mail ballots Trump is determined without evidence to vilify in advance for his expected defeat at the polls in November.

As you can imagine, Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold is pretty upset…

 

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SoS Griswold Goes To Bat For Ballot Boxes

Denver ballot box.

NPR reported yesterday that mail ballot collection boxes, which have proven highly popular among Colorado voters–and that’s before President Donald Trump started monkey-wrenching the U.S. Postal Service coincidentally just a few months before an election he insists without factual basis will be defraudulated by mail ballots:

Tennessee Secretary of State Tre Hargett…told the U.S. Senate Committee on Rules and Administration recently that his state doesn’t allow drop boxes for fear voters might be pressured to vote a certain way.

“If someone knows you’ve got an absentee ballot, they can say, ‘Hey I’ll be glad to take that for you and drop that off for you.’ They can ask to watch you fill that ballot out or they cannot turn it in at all for you,” Hargett said. “We believe it’s a great security measure to have someone returning their own ballot by the United States Postal Service.”

The Republican National Committee and the Trump campaign have even gone to court to try to block Pennsylvania from using such boxes in November, arguing they could increase the chances for fraud.

CNN:

[Drop boxes] been pretty much uncontroversial, said Connecticut Secretary of State Denise Merrill.

“They are strongly in favor, strongly in favor, because it gives them more options,” she said.

But in the battleground state of Pennsylvania, Republicans are already challenging the state’s use of drop boxes, arguing in a lawsuit that allowing ballots to be collected in the boxes “allows illegal absent and mail-in voting, ballot harvesting, and other fraud to occur and/or go undetected, and will result in dilution of validly cast ballots.”

Responding to this latest angle on the same old low-information fight over the logistics of mail ballots, which have been in uncontroversial and highly successful use in Colorado since 2013, Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold tore into the Republican National Committee and the Trump campaign today for asserting without evidence what Colorado’s experience has already wrong:

“Colorado’s election model is the nation’s gold standard, and we use both mail ballots and ballot drop boxes,” said Secretary Griswold. “Mail ballot drop boxes are safe, secure, and add great access to voting. In fact, about 75% of mail ballot voters return their ballots to a drop box. Our use of drop boxes is even more crucial as the U.S. Postal Service is under attack.” [Pols emphasis]

…Colorado drop boxes are safe and secure. Drop boxes are sturdy, metallic, weather-resistant, and are bolted to the ground. Colorado law also requires that all drop boxes be kept under 24-hour video surveillance with adequate lighting in order to be able to easily detect potential tampering. When drop boxes are emptied, they are done so at least every 24 hours by a team of bipartisan election judges who must maintain a detailed chain of custody log when transporting ballots between drop boxes and the central counting facility to ensure no ballots are removed or added.

With budget cuts and other attacks on the U.S. Postal Service, [Pols emphasis] Colorado’s election model is uniquely insulated to withstand any service disruptions. Ballots are sent to voters starting 25 days before Election Day and voters are reminded that they must return their ballot via drop box instead of the mail within eight days of the election. In addition, during the 2020 legislative session, Secretary Griswold led the Colorado legislature to pass a law requiring replacement ballots be sent via first-class mail starting 11 days before Election Day.

With uncertainty growing about the reliability of a politicized U.S. Postal Service to support mail ballot elections that have gone off without a hitch year after year in Colorado, our state’s already very high utilization of ballot drop boxes at libraries, municipal offices, and other public locations could be an important countermeasure against shenanigans. Because there is no rational justification for the alarm that Trump and his surrogates are now raising about mail ballots, especially in Colorado where in our state’s successful history with mail ballots makes all of this talk look ridiculous, if there’s going to be a problem it’s increasingly clear that Trump is going to have to manufacture it.

In that event, Coloradans on both sides of the aisle will have an outsize role in stopping the madness.

Steyer, Griswold Talk Vote Suppression (Elsewhere)

UPDATE: It’s been suggested, not unreasonably, that we should better acknowledge former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s large donations in support of Democratic campaigns–including a $50 million pledge this month to House Democrats following the vote to impeach President Donald Trump. Bloomberg and the other wealthy self-funding candidates in the primary have faced criticism over the potential diversion of scarce resources away from more viable Democratic priorities, and Bloomberg’s big check undeniably blunts some of that criticism–like Tom Steyer’s own $50 million pledge to youth GOTV efforts mentioned below.

We apologize if we unfairly slighted the efforts of any billionaire. All billionaires matter.

—–

Tom Steyer.

Colorado Public Radio’s Anthony Cotton reports on a town hall yesterday hosted by longshot self-funding Democratic presidential candidate Tom Steyer–and although Steyer’s signature issue remains human-caused climate change,

[S]peaking with about 100 voters Sunday in a Denver union hall, the environment barely came up.

Instead, the California hedge fund billionaire spoke about voter suppression across the country, and why race relations should be a greater focal point for the people running for the White House. At one point, on the topic of gun violence, he stopped the conversation to console a woman whose son was killed in a 2018 shooting…

Steyer appeared with Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold and Omar Montgomery, the runner-up to Mike Coffman in the 2019 Aurora mayoral election. Griswold also sponsored a town hall earlier in December with another Democratic presidential candidate, Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar.

Wherever Tom Steyer winds up in the Democratic presidential primary–here’s our interview with Steyer from August shortly after he got in the race–the $50 million Steyer has pledged to youth voter mobilization efforts nationwide in 2020 is a huge investment in turnout that will undeniably benefit Democratic candidates up and down the ticket. In contrast to a certain other self-funding billionaire who came lately to the already stratified Democratic primary field, Steyer deserves credit for spending money on the common defense instead of, you know, pure hubris.

With respect to voter suppression, Colorado’s system is a model for facilitating access to the franchise, which is the exact opposite of the intent of Byzantine election laws in so many other states. Colorado’s combination of mail ballots and same-day voter registration removes fundamental roadblocks to voting that are used every election in other states to suppress “undesired” turnout. As a result Colorado’s voter turnout is consistently in the top couple of states. Absurd disinformation notwithstanding, Colorado’s success in making the vote accessible over repeated elections and Secretaries of State from both parties simply leaves no excuse for the rest of the country to not adopt similar laws. In the end, the only reason not to adopt Colorado’s election model is if you benefit politically from vote suppression.

That’s a message we’d be happy to see carried to the four corners of the land. Starting with Georgia.

22 States Join Colorado To Stop “Faithless Electors”

A press release from Secretary of State Jena Griswold this afternoon:

Today, twenty-two states signed on to an amicus brief that underlines the urgency in Colorado’s petition asking the U.S. Supreme Court to review an unprecedented decision issued in August in Baca v. Colorado Department of State. The 10th Circuit decision states that Colorado cannot remove presidential electors if they fail to cast their ballots in accordance with state law, which requires presidential electors to cast their Electoral College ballots for the candidate who won the most votes in Colorado. Because the 10th Circuit’s ruling impedes Colorado’s ability to enforce state law and has the potential to undermine voters across the nation, Secretary of State Jena Griswold and Attorney General Phil Weiser have asked the U.S. Supreme Court to review the case and protect Americans’ fundamental right to self-determination.

In filing the petition to the U.S. Supreme Court, Secretary Jena Griswold said the 10th Circuit’s decision, if upheld, “undermines voters and sets a dangerous precedent for our nation. Unelected and unaccountable presidential electors should not be allowed to decide the presidential election without regard to voters’ choices and state law.”

The states that signed onto the brief request are Alaska, California, Illinois, Mississippi, Maryland, Nevada, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Arizona, New Mexico, Indiana, Nebraska, Ohio, Delaware, West Virginia, Virginia, South Carolina, South Dakota, North Dakota, Montana, Tennessee, and Rhode Island.

“Having twenty-two states support our petition to the U.S. Supreme Court underlines the urgency of this matter. When Americans vote in the presidential election, we are exercising our most fundamental right – the right to self-governance and self-determination. We have to preserve that right. Without swift action by the Supreme Court, the foundation of our democracy is at risk,” said Griswold.

The appeals court decision last August in the Baca v. Colorado Department of State case sent a shock through many more state capitols than our own, since the ruling threatens to destabilize the entire Electoral College system used to elect Presidents since the founding of the Republic. Although the notion of “faithless electors” is not new and historically very rare, the heightened awareness of the power of the Electoral College after two presidential elections in the past 20 years were decided adverse to the winner of the nationwide popular vote–combined with a ruling enshrining the right of electors to go “faithless”–could make them a regular, unpredictable, and decidedly un-democratic component of future elections.

As we’ve discussed in this space, the decision also complicates the as-of-now stalled implementation of the state’s National Vote Compact law, which would assign the state’s electoral votes to the winner of the national popular vote. The Compact doesn’t have enough participating states to take effect, and the law in Colorado is under challenge via a statewide ballot question set for next November–but if the 10th Circuit’s ruling in this case prevails, NPV would be impossible to enforce here or anywhere else.

The one upside we can offer is that if the end result of this court battle is an Electoral College that no longer functions as the Founders intended, or no longer has the public’s confidence, it could result in the change the Electoral College’s opponents desire faster than any other means. We and everyone else with a stake in the outcome of presidential elections–meaning everybody–should be watching closely.

Colorado’s “Faithless Elector” Question Heads For SCOTUS

KUNC’s Scott Franz reports:

Colorado is asking the U.S. Supreme Court to take up a case that could have big implications for future presidential elections.

Secretary of State Jena Griswold and Attorney General Phil Weiser are hoping the nation’s highest court will decide that presidential electors must follow state laws that require them to vote for the candidate who wins the most votes in the state.

The legal challenge comes after the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in August that former Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams was wrong to remove a presidential elector who refused to cast a vote for Hillary Clinton, who won the state’s popular vote in 2016.

An appeals court ruling in August which essentially held that members of the Electoral College have the inalienable right to vote for whoever they wish to be President of the United States, regardless of who a majority of the voters in their state supported. Although this ruling is plainly contrary to the spirit of democratic fairness and the individual franchise Americans take for granted, the fact is that it’s arguably fully consistent with the intention of the Founders–who very frankly saw the Electoral College system as a check against unbridled democratic majoritarianism. It’s only in recent years that the College has emerged as an undeniable advantage to Republicans, proving decisive against the majority vote in 2000 and again in 2016.

Secretary of State Jena Griswold and Attorney General Phil Weiser are no fans of the Electoral College, and both supported passage of this year’s National Popular Vote Compact legislation which is now being challenged via a citizen-referred repeal measure on the 2020 ballot. The NPV Compact in turn relies on the ability of states to enforceably bind electors to the results of the nationwide vote in order to work, and until the Electoral College ceases to exist it can only be defensibly do its job if individual voters have confidence that the Electoral College is carrying out their wishes.

Now, the Supreme Court will be obliged to either prop up the Electoral College by pulling the reins on the rights of Electors, or throwing the entire Electoral College system into chaos by destroying even an imaginary linkage between this arcane institution and the rights American voters think they have. Griswold and Weiser are doing what they have to to keep the system working–and we know they agree the solution in the end is for one person to receive one nationally equal vote in presidential elections.

Jena Griswold Declines U.S. Senate Clown Car

Secretary of State Jena Griswold (D).

Late breaking this Friday evening, a press release from the Senate exploratory committee for Secretary of State Jena Griswold announcing a no-go on her possible run for the nomination to take on vulnerable Sen. Cory Gardner:

Today, Colorado’s Secretary of State Jena Griswold announced that she will not seek the Democratic nomination for US Senate, and remains committed to her work on voting rights, campaign finance reform, and ensuring Colorado continues to have the most secure elections in the nation. Griswold released the following statement:

“I was surprised and humbled when Coloradans began to approach me about running for the US Senate. I knew I needed to take this encouragement seriously and give it real consideration. After some heartfelt deliberation, I have decided that now is not the right time for me to run for the Senate. Last year, Coloradans gave me the honor of electing me to serve as their Secretary of State. Together, we’ve already passed bi-partisan reform to shine light on dark money, we’ve made it more accessible for Coloradans to vote, we lead the nation in election security, all of which makes Colorado a national model on democracy. I am moved by the encouragement I have received, and sincerely want to thank everyone for their support. I look forward to continuing to work to ensure that Coloradans have a democracy they can believe in.”

Griswold set up an exploratory committee after a July poll showed strong early support from Democratic primary voters. The committee raised over $200,000 in just 2 weeks.

It’s a wise decision for Secretary of State Griswold, who pole-vaulted out of obscurity to win a statewide Colorado election in 2018 and certainly has demonstrated the chops to run for higher office–after perhaps spending a little more time consolidating her position, and earning by experience the gravitas to match her considerable ambition. SoS Griswold is no doubt also aware of big changes in the Senate race on the horizon. Presiding over Colorado’s elections in a pivotal presidential year is a full-time job that deserves the full attention of a qualified public servant, and that’s where Griswold is best suited today.