Colorado Republicans Stand at Historical Crossroads

Via CNN

On Thursday the House of Representatives voted along party lines to formalize the process for impeachment proceedings against President Trump.

For weeks Republicans have railed against Democrats for not opening a “formal” impeachment inquiry — it was easier for Republicans to attack the process than to defend Trump on the merits of his actions — but on Thursday the GOP demonstrated that this argument was more style than substance. If Republicans can’t assail the process or defend the President’s decisions, then what’s left?

The only obvious step forward is to actually consider the case against President Trump and to vote accordingly. As the editorial board of the Aurora Sentinel wrote on Wednesday:

Credible, compelling, consistent and growing allegations against Trump extorting Ukraine for his own political gain have reached a tipping point…

…Trump himself has now offered honest Republicans a way out of having to defend an indefensible, lying, untrustworthy and incompetent president. Trump has admitted his “high crimes and misdemeanors.” Democrats are documenting them and making the unequivocal case for impeachment. Gardner and others can now finally step out from under the pressure to appease Trump’s misguided base of supporters. But to do that, they must commit to representing the voters in their district, not the delusional, fear-driven scheme of Republican Party leaders.

This is the way out for Gardner and other Republicans of becoming complicit with a duplicitous president. The nation is about to see Trump’s malevolent scandal exposed, and all voters will see which Republicans have the temerity to spurn or defend it.

The nation and history are watching what happens next.

Clockwise from top left: Cory Gardner, Ken Buck, Doug Lamborn, and Scott Tipton.

History does not yet appear to motivate Republican members of Colorado’s Congressional delegation. Instead, they appear more concerned about the present and how they will be perceived by Trump in 2020. Congressmen Scott Tipton (R-Cortez) and Doug Lamborn (R-Colorado Springs) are the co-chairs of Trump’s re-election campaign in Colorado; even if you could figure out a simple way to explain this to Lamborn, there’s little chance that he would bother to listen to the arguments. Congressman Ken Buck (R-Greeley)? He moonlights as the Chairman of the State Republican Party (or vice-versa) and has been clear about his loyalty to Trump.

As for Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma)…well, Quid Pro Cory gave up any pretense of a conscience long ago. Gardner may not have a breaking point when it comes to Trump.

It seems clear that Colorado Republicans aren’t going to be moved by the present, but surely they can comprehend the impact impeachment proceedings may have on their own legacies. David Greenberg, a history professor at Rutgers University, examined this subject for The Washington Post:

Still, people return to this notion for a reason: It acknowledges the potentially high stakes of any political action — how a single vote or decision can loom large in someone’s legacy when the day of reckoning finally comes. It appeals to transcendent ideals that may be obscured by the fervor of the moment; sometimes these coalesce crisply over time, making right and wrong seem obvious and incontestable in retrospect. When, for example, a dying Sen. John McCain went to the well of the Senate to give his thumbs-down on the gutting of Obamacare, he knew this was an act he’d be remembered for…

But the Watergate saga does tell us this much: Those loyalists who abandoned Nixon early, when it mattered — who stood up for principle over party, for integrity over professional advancement, before Nixon was politically doomed — are remembered and praised for their courage. [Pols emphasis]

And what of those who chose to stand with Nixon?

None of these men has been well remembered. All of their obituaries led with the fact that they defended Nixon. That decision became the headline of their entire lives. [Pols emphasis]

Wherever the impeachment inquiry leads, Tipton, Buck, Lamborn, and Gardner have shown no indication that they will do anything but march alongside Trump.

But there is never a wrong time to do the right thing.

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Trump, Tipton Join Forces To Screw West Slope

UPDATE: Ernest Luning at the Colorado Springs Gazette:

[Sen. Cory] Gardner hasn’t signed on to a bill sponsored by U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet and U.S. Rep. Joe Neguse, both Colorado Democrats, dubbed the Colorado Outdoor Recreation & Economy Act, or the CORE Act — but he hasn’t said he’s opposed to the legislation, either…

“Coloradans need a senator who will stand up for public lands and listen to local communities,” [former Gov. John] Hickenlooper said in a statement. “I am calling on Sen. Gardner to join me and Coloradans from across our state in supporting the CORE Act.”

Rep. Joe Neguse:

—–

Rep. Scott Tipton (R-Cortez)

As the Colorado Sun’s Jesse Paul reports, the unexpectedly “partisan partisanized” standoff over what should have been bipartisan legislation to extend new protections to some 400,000 acres of Colorado land, the CORE Act, escalated dramatically today after President Donald Trump threatened a veto of the bill:

President Donald Trump’s administration on Tuesday threatened to veto the CORE Act in a statement that said the massive Colorado public lands bill puts the Western Slope economy at risk.

The White House also said that not enough local input has been addressed when it comes to the legislation, which is expected to get a vote this week in the U.S. House.

If the act — which aims to protect about 400,000 acres of public land, including around the historic Camp Hale and along the Thompson Divide — were “presented to the president in its current form, his advisers would recommend that he veto it,” the White House statement said.

As our readers know the shell game over the CORE Act has been going on for some time now, with Colorado Democrats united with local stakeholders in support of the bill attempting to persuade Rep. Scott Tipton and Sen. Cory Gardner to join them. Republicans have alternated between delaying while they slowly “consider” changes to the CORE Act, and competing legislation introduced last summer by Tipton and backed by Gardner that significantly dimmed prospects of a bipartisan CORE Act at all–and with a divided Congress and a Republican President, a bipartisan bill is the only bill with a prayer.

Politically, this further partisan isolation on an issue that voters on all sides care about isn’t going to help either Tipton or Gardner going into next year’s elections. Just yesterday a new poll was released showing strong public support for the goals of the CORE Act on the Western Slope–voters who are about to be bitterly disappointed by the evening news, as the Colorado Springs Gazette reports:

Of 400 voters surveyed in Congressional District 3 and Chaffee and Fremont counties, two-thirds endorsed the designation of more public lands as wilderness areas, which is one of the aims of the Colorado Outdoor Recreation & Economy Act… [Pols emphasis]

Another finding of the poll, conducted by New Bridge Strategy, is that support for wilderness areas increases among people who participate in more than one outdoor recreational activity. Majorities of both Republicans and Democrats agreed with greater wilderness designations.

At this point, CORE Act supporters need to stake out clearly what they are willing to live with in terms of compromise to get a bipartisan CORE Act back on track. And if the current administration, Republican-controlled Senate, and the incumbent representative of most of the affected lands are determined to forestall the bill Colorado needs, it may be necessary to solve the political problem first.

It looks like in that event, the voters will have Democrats’ back.

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James Iacino Joins the Fray in CO-3

James Iacino

As Justin Wingerter reports for the Denver Post:

With a campaign kickoff video touting his family’s attainment of the American dream, the former CEO of Seattle Fish Co. announced Thursday that he is running for Congress in Colorado’s expansive 3rd District.

“While working on loading docks and driving trucks, I learned that upward mobility for workers is key to a whole community’s success,” said James Iacino, a grandson of the century-old Colorado company’s founder.

Here’s more from SeafoodSource.com, mostly because we can’t pass up an opportunity to cite a Seafood news website as a resource for something political:

Seattle Fish Company is a major seafood distributor in the Rocky Mountain region of the U.S.. The company, founded in 1918 in Denver, Colorado, has 170 employees and counts more than 1,400 restaurants and retailers as customers.

As a candidate, Iacino said he will campaign on a platform of advocating for economic mobility, environmental conservation and sustainability initiatives, and the importance of social justice.

Iacino is not a well-known name in Colorado politics, but he has both the local roots and the personal wealth to be a very interesting candidate in CO-3. Iacino slots into The Big Line just below 2018 candidate Diane Mitsch Bush and well ahead of State Rep. Don Valdez (you can stick a fork in Valdez’s candidacy after a miserable $25k third quarter fundraising period).

Incumbent Rep. Scott Tipton (R-Cortez) is still the presumptive favorite here because of the general conservative makeup of the district, but his ties to President Trump — Tipton is a co-chair of Trump’s Colorado re-election campaign — could come back to bite him.

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Blame Trump, But Don’t Forget His Republican Enablers

Republicans don’t seem to sweat President Trump’s dangerous behavior.

According to the website VeryWell Family, these are the top warning signs for children with a “serious behavior problem”: 1) Difficulty managing emotional outbursts, 2) Difficulty managing impulses, and 3) Behavior that does not respond to discipline.

You don’t need to be an expert or a parent to recognize reckless behavior in children. We’ve all seen out-of-control children at grocery stores, shopping malls, and airplanes. Our first reaction in this situation is usually to glance around in search of a parent or guardian, shaking our head in bewilderment that such behavior could go unchecked. We might be dismayed at the child’s actions, but our ire is generally reserved for the oblivious or indifferent parent nearby.

President Trump is the man-child in this analogy, and the Republican Party — particularly top GOP elected officials such as Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) — are the parental guardians. While the world collectively shakes its head at Trump’s ridiculous behavior, it is Trump’s Republican enablers who deserve an equal amount of scorn. When Trump throws a tantrum, he doesn’t get rebuked by fellow Republicans; instead, he gets a cookie. Trump can all but beg to be impeached, as he did on Thursday, and Republicans like Gardner will still headline a big fundraiser for him days later.

Chris Cillizza of CNN has a great outline today of this phenomenon, which he calls “the real issue” regarding President Trump’s scandalous behavior:

And yet, even as his actions in office grow more and more erratic and without historical precedent, the party stays united behind him.

Why? Simple! Fear.

“What is surprising, or shocking might be the better word for it, is the fact that Republican elected officials seem willing to not just condone this sort of behavior but even defend it.”

Every GOP elected official lives in fear of becoming the next Jeff Flake or Justin Amash — conservative Republicans in good standing with the party until they decided to publicly criticize Trump for something or other. The President pounced, his base attacked and both men found themselves in deeply precarious political predicaments.

Fear of being “Flaked” explains, for example, Sen. Lindsey Graham’s (R-South Carolina) absolute and total about-face on Trump. Ditto Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul. And dozens and dozens of other Republican elected officials who voiced deep concern about the idea of Trump even being their party’s nominee in 2016 — much less the President of the United States.

If political survival is your only goal, then what Republicans are doing vis a vis Trump is not only fine, but right. Of course, leadership is a very different thing than what we are seeing out of Republican elected officials at the moment.

And there is the very real possibility that the damage Trump is doing to the party (let alone the country) will have impacts that last well after he is gone from office — and come back to haunt those Republicans who stood silently by. [Pols emphasis]

Republicans like Gardner have always valued political survival above the interests of anything else, but it’s still hard to fathom the idea that there is no line Trump can cross that will be a line too far for the GOP.

Sen. Cory Gardner always stands behind President Trump

Gardner has made it abundantly clear, in fact, that he won’t be backing away from Trump for any reason. As Ian Silverii writes today in the Denver Post:

That Gardner would participate in this fundraiser with the full knowledge of the whistleblower scandal probably tells us that he understands that there will be no political exit for him. If new facts emerge from the impeachment inquiry or if public opinion continues to move against him, calling for Trump’s resignation will also be an indictment against Gardner for supporting him this far. Afterward, if Gardner tries to pull the ripcord, Trump-brand forks and knives will come out of the bag instead of his parachute.

The 2020 election will be a referendum on President Trump. It should also be a referendum on his Republican enablers. History will not be kind to the likes of Gardner and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, but Americans won’t have to wait for those books to be written in order to take action.

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Scott Tipton Won’t Do Squat About Gun Violence

Rep. Scott Tipton (R-Cortez)

Congressman Scott Tipton (R-Cortez) was a guest on “Politics Unplugged” on Denver7 last weekend. Late in the interview, Denver7 host Anne Trujillo tried to ask Tipton several questions about how Congress plans to address the issue of gun violence and got absolutely nowhere with the CO-3 Republican.

You can watch the entire interview below, but here’s the relevant pablum on gun violence:

TRUJILLO: Do you think Congress has a role in addressing gun violence? What would that be?

TIPTON: I think, uh, as a society we have an obligation to be able to deal with this. The one issue that I hope to have a lot more conversation on…

[TIMEOUT!] We’d bet $1,000 that he says “mental health” next. Any takers?

TIPTON: …I just had a few visits earlier today with people in regards to mental health…

Somebody owes us $1,000! Let’s continue…

TIPTON: As a society, what did we do that was so wrong that all of a sudden this becomes an outlet? To be able to have these mass tragedies that are going on when they never, ever used to happen before, and we had guns, uh, that were there. [Pols emphasis] So, a lot of mental health issues, talking to our families in terms of awareness of issues, and building that family structure again.

The Columbine High School massacre took place in April 1999. We understand that Tipton is 700 years old, but there are entire generations of Americans who have absolutely no experience living in a time when mass shootings “never, ever used to happen before.”

Also, we need to build “that family structure again.” Whatever that means. Look, squirrel!

TRUJILLO: And how do you feel about background checks?

TIPTON: You know, here in Colorado we have the universal background checks. I always want to be able to look…speculation in terms of what’s always in legislation, to be able to look at. None of us want to be able to have guns in the hands of people who shouldn’t have them…

TL;DR: Scott Tipton does not support background checks.

TRUJILLO: So, ‘red flag’? Where do you view that…

TIPTON: So, ‘red flag’ needs to be sure that it’s always protecting also something that is integral to the American system, and that’s called ‘due process.’ To make sure that you don’t have somebody just assign something, and you pay a consequence, and have to prove yourself innocent, if you will, to be able to address that. [Pols emphasis]

Please, tell us more about this “due process” thing, Congressman.

If we’re worried about consequences, how about we consider the people who get shot and killed by someone with an assault rifle when they are just minding their own business shopping or going to school? That’s seems like an unfair consequence for doing absolutely nothing wrong.

TRUJILLO: So, are you prepared to address any changes in our gun laws right now?

TIPTON: You know, we’ll see. We’re having conversations currently. We’re in, you know, what’s called the ‘August break,’ the recess for Congress to be out. There are a couple of pieces of legislation that are being discussed in a tentative fashion right now until we get back to Washington. And, uh, it’s always important to be able to look at the legislation and to be able to see where there is an appropriate role to play.

See, Anne, we’re in what they call an “August break,” which means that I don’t have to even pretend to be considering legislation to curb gun violence. But if people are still talking about gun legislation when I get done with this “August break,” there’s a decent chance that I’ll read at least some of those bills. In the meantime, are there any other terms that I can mansplain for you?

TRUJILLO: So you’re willing to consider changes?

TIPTON: Huh? Wha…I think we all want to make sure that we are ending gun violence in this country. This should not happen. We ought to be able to go to our schools, to our shopping areas, and also to be able to be safe in our homes. And to be able to protect the Second Amendment. [Pols emphasis]

Yada, yada, yada, Second Amendment.

This epidemic of gun violence absolutely “should not happen.” But it does. Scott Tipton isn’t going to do a damn thing to stop it, but he is going to trot around the topic as long as he can. Heck, even Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) eventually stops dancing enough to say, “I don’t support gun control.”

We’ve said it over and over and over again: If we really want to see movement on curbing gun violence, we’re going to have to elect different people.

 

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Public Lands Shenanigans: Why Play These Games At All?

Rep. Scott Tipton (R).

The Aspen Daily News’ Todd Hartley follows up on a story we’ve been watching for some days now, growing controversy over a “public lands” bill from Republican Rep. Scott Tipton and backed by Sen. Cory Gardner introduced in direct competition with the CORE Act–legislation Colorado Democrats are hoping to get bipartisan consensus on in order to move any kind of public lands protection bill forward in the current divided Congress.

As Hartley reports, Tipton is responding to the blowback with vague promises to revisit a major difference in the two bills pertaining to the Thompson Divide area, additional protections for which was “left out” of the Republican version:

“The congressman is interested and plans to have those conversations regarding Thompson Divide,” said Matt Atwood, Tipton’s communications director. “That’s part of the reason we left it out, because it is a ‘discussion draft,’ and we want to get all sides of the story before we introduce the full bill.”

That’s better than nothing, we guess, but it sidesteps the larger problem: why run two bills at all?

The prospect of having Thompson Divide protections included in an amended draft of the bill is welcomed by leaders of local conservation groups, but they still expressed skepticism about the underlying motivation behind the REC Act and the exclusion of the divide in the first place…

“We believe that the CORE Act is a well-crafted, well-vetted compromise that is the result of a decade of consensus and stakeholder engagement, and it has really broad community support,” said Julia Morton, interim executive director of the Thompson Divide Coalition. “We believe the solution that has been crafted in the CORE Act is a really fair and good one, and so I think our preference is, obviously, for Tipton to support the CORE Act.” [Pols emphasis]

Not surprisingly, it’s a sentiment echoed by Bennet and his staff.

“The CORE Act is the result of Coloradans working together to hammer out compromises and develop proposals that have widespread local support, including in places such as the Thompson Divide,” said Courtney Gidner, a spokesperson for Bennet. “Our focus is on advancing each of the four components of the CORE Act together. Any contribution that leads us to accomplish these goals is welcome, and we hope Congressman Tipton will join this effort.”

The problem, as we’ve outlined in previous posts, is straightforward. In a divided Congress, the only public lands protection bills that have any realistic chance of passage are bills that enjoy enough bipartisan support to survive the Democratic-controlled House and GOP-controlled Senate to arrive on the President’s desk. If Democrats have a bill and Republicans introduce competing legislation instead of working out their differences with Democrats, the most likely outcome is that no legislation at all passes. That’s why supporters of the CORE Act, the product of years of study and negotiation, were blindsided by Tipton’s introduction of the “REC Act” to accomplish many of the same goals but with certain key differences–in the case of Thompson Divide, taking a side by omission in a long-running fight over protecting a vast natural area from oil and gas drilling.

What happens next? We’ll have to wait. There’s always a chance of a resolution that’s acceptable to all parties, which would take this issue off the table politically ahead of a pivotal general election next year. But if the more likely outcome of no bill at all prevails, Scott Tipton’s bad faith is going to be plain for all CD-3 voters to see.

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Tipton/Gardner Fake Lands Bill Goes Over Like A Lead Zeppelin

Rep. Scott Tipton (R).

Westword’s Chase Woodruff follows up on legislation we wrote about earlier this week from Colorado Republicans Scott Tipton and Cory Gardner, ostensibly to protect more Colorado public land but in truth a competing measure to an original Democratic proposal to protect thousands of acres of wilderness–and, importantly close the long-fought over Thompson Divide area to new oil and gas drilling:

When congressional Democrats and a coalition of conservation groups unveiled the Colorado Outdoor Recreation and Economy (CORE) Act earlier this year, Senator Michael Bennet voiced his hope that the bill, a proposal to establish protections for approximately 400,000 acres of public lands across the state, might be immune to the “partisan disease” afflicting American politics.

The CORE Act, which is narrower in scope than other Colorado public-lands bills introduced in Congress in recent years, had “required compromise,” Bennet told supporters at a Denver ski-industry conference in February. He hoped that Colorado Republicans like Senator Cory Gardner and Representative Scott Tipton — who represents the West Slope’s 3rd Congressional District, where much of the CORE Act land is located — would sign on as co-sponsors, and urged conservationists to lobby Gardner and Tipton to make a “bipartisan lands package” a reality.

Six months later, Colorado Republicans have made a counterproposal, and their offer is this: nothing. Or at least very close to it, conservation groups say. [Pols emphasis]

In the Glenwood Springs Post-Independent today, locals express anger at Rep. Tipton over the omission of Thompson Divide in particular:

[T]he absence of Thompson Divide protections in the bill suggests Tipton is “not interested in helping out our community even though support for protecting the Divide spans political and social divides,” according to Mike Pritchard, board member of the Thompson Divide Coalition.

According to Tipton’s staff, the reason the proposed removal of the 200,000 or so acres of Thompson Divide area west of Carbondale from future oil and gas leasing was not included in the REC Act is because Garfield County’s position remains unclear, and because there are still questions about grazing.

According to the Post-Independent, Garfield County commissioners have indeed come out in support of protecting Thompson Divide under the terms of the Democratic-sponsored CORE Act–but Tipton’s spokesman says came too late to make it into the GOP “REC Act” as introduced. But that could all just be a smokescreen for partisan treachery, since Tipton’s spokesman alluded to the congressman’s real problem being with Democrats having the temerity to care about public lands “in another member’s district.”

As with any such impasse where there remains hope of a bipartisan agreement, it’s important to show restraint in calling these situations how they appear–not least so one doesn’t end up forestalling agreement by being uncomfortably frank to one side.

But if, as conservation groups warn, this attempt by Republicans to sidestep the bipartisan consensus Democrats are trying to reach results in no public lands bill whatsoever or a bill that woefully fails to meet the desires of non-industry stakeholders, it’s going to be painfully obvious who’s to blame. If the goal of the “REC Act” was to provide cover to Tipton and Gardner while scuttling the public lands protections they say they support, these past few days of scrutiny have made that impossible.

That’s a nice way of saying the game is up.

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How To Screw Public Lands While Pretending You’re Not

Rep. Scott Tipton (R).

The Colorado Sun’s Jesse Paul takes an informative look today at a new “public lands” bill introduced by Republican Rep. Scott Tipton and expected to be supported by Sen. Cory Gardner–but rather than cheering this new legislation, the effort is raising questions about the true motives of Tipton and Gardner among public lands supporters:

U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton, a Cortez Republican, took issue with parts of the omnibus Colorado Outdoor Recreation Economy Act — or CORE Act — brought earlier this year by his Democratic colleagues from Colorado. It aims to protect thousands of acres of public land with new wilderness designations and by limiting oil and gas drilling.

And on Wednesday he unveiled a draft public lands proposal of his own: the Colorado Recreation Enhancement and Conservation Act, or Colorado REC Act.

As Paul explains, the process of passing a public lands bill is long and frequently unsuccessful in today’s Washington, and when such bills do succeed it’s usually only because they enjoy overwhelming bipartisan support. That means a competing measure from Republicans up against a bill supported by Democrats is more likely to ensure that no bill passes than any other outcome.

Sen. Cory Gardner (R).

And in the case of the “Colorado REC Act,” there’s plenty for Democrats–or anyone actually concerned about protection of public lands–could object to:

The CORE Act calls for roughly 100,000 acres of wilderness, recreation and conservation areas in the White River National Forest along the Continental Divide and would also designate the land around Camp Hale, where the 10th Mountain Division’s roots are, as a national historic landscape.

That’s not part of the Colorado REC Act.

The CORE Act also has clauses withdrawing about 200,000 acres of public lands along the Thompson Divide from being open to oil and gas drilling. The measure also would create a program to lease and generate energy from excess methane in coal mines in the North Fork Valley.

Again, those are not components of the Colorado REC Act.

In other words, some of the biggest public lands protection priorities in the state are omitted from Tipton and Gardner’s bill! To be sure, Democrats are still talking hopefully about working with Republicans, and if both sides are able to make a deal we don’t want to prejudice their efforts. But with this weaker legislation now in the mix, the two most likely outcomes are a scaling back of the original goals to win back Republican support or (more likely) nothing passes at all until after the 2020 elections.

Either of those outcomes would be “wins” for Tipton and Gardner’s political benefactors.

As for Colorado’s public lands, which everybody claims they care about, not so much.

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Throwback Thursday: When Colorado Republicans Opposed Racism

Nate Marshall.

The past week has seen a massive escalation of racial tensions in American politics, primarily the result of President Donald Trump’s racist attacks on four women of color who have been vocal opponents of the President since winning office last November. It’s important to be clear from the outset that Trump’s call for four members of Congress, three of whom were born in this country to “go back” to their countries of origin cannot be interpreted any way other than as a racially motivated attack–since by definition persons born in this country have nowhere to “go back” to.

Since Trump’s racist attacks on these four members of Congress over the weekend, Colorado Republicans have played an uneasy game of cat and mouse with inquiring reports–generally avoiding comment as much as they can, and when cornered giving either the most gentle criticism of the President or none at all. Rep. Scott Tipton doesn’t think it was racist, and while Sen. Cory Gardner worked up the nerve to say on the radio that he “disagreed” with the Tweets in question he refused to condemn them for what they are.

One of the biggest dangers of electing an openly racist demagogue like Donald Trump has always the normalization of rhetoric that has not been acceptable, at least in mainstream American politics, for many years. Trump’s open appeals to nativism and racial prejudice have opened the door to a rise in hate crime since his election, and given space to Republican candidates at all levels to either turn a blind eye to racism or exploit racist sentiment themselves for political gain.

Maria Weese.

In Colorado, we have a long history of Republican candidates and even officeholders who turned out to be unapologetically racist. In 2014, GOP House candidates Nate Marshall and Maria Weese had frightful racist comments in their recent pasts exposed just in time for Republican brass to intervene–dumping both candidates for slightly less embarrassing placeholders who went on to lose. In 2006, Rep. Jim Welker was “persuaded” by ranking Republicans to not run for re-election after racist commentary he shared with his supporters become public.

Colorado Republicans certainly weren’t free of racists back in the day (see: Tancredo, Tom), or even really making a concerted attempt to dissociate themselves from racism. But when people like Nate Marshall became a political liability for Colorado Republicans, the will existed to deal with the problem.

Based on what we’ve seen this past week, no such will exists today.

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Cory Gardner is Too Darn Busy to Condemn Racism

UPDATE: Gardner was on KOA radio this morning to talk about the BLM move to Colorado, but he couldn’t get away without being asked about Trump’s racist remarks. His answer was pretty awful:

HOST: What’s your take on that, and is it defensible to say things like that?

GARDNER: Well, I disagree with the President. I wouldn’t have sent this Tweet. I think he shouldn’t have done it, and I think we oughta be focused on things that are bringing this country together and moving this country forward…I wouldn’t have sent that Tweet. I just disagree with it.

“I wouldn’t have sent that Tweet.” Unreal.

—–

Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma)

The House of Representatives is preparing to hold a vote today to rebuke President Trump for his racist comments over the weekend about four Democratic Members of Congress. In the meantime, as the Washington Post reports, Trump is really digging in on his disgusting remarks:

Trump lashed out at the freshman Democrats again on Tuesday and questioned why Congress was not rebuking them instead.

“The Democrat Congresswomen have been spewing some of the most vile, hateful, and disgusting things ever said by a politician in the House or Senate, & yet they get a free pass and a big embrace from the Democrat Party,” Trump wrote on Twitter, listing several grievances about the lawmakers. “Why isn’t the House voting to rebuke the filthy and hate laced things they have said? Because they are the Radical Left, and the Democrats are afraid to take them on. Sad!”

His tweets marked the third day in a row of attacks on the lawmakers — a series that began Sunday with tweets in which the president said the four Democrats should “go back” to “the crime infested places from which they came.” Three of the lawmakers were born in the United States, and the fourth is a naturalized U.S. citizen who was born in Somalia.

As we wrote yesterday, Colorado Republicans have been reluctant to speak out about Trump’s remarks. The Washington Post has been keeping track of Republican responses (and non-responses) to Trump’s comments; as of this morning, Rep. Ken Buck (R-Greeley) is the only member of Colorado’s congressional delegation to offer an opinion, expressing (very) mild disagreement in an interview with Fox News.

Still silent on the matter are Rep. Scott Tipton (R-Cortez), Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Colorado Springs), and Senator Cory Gardner (R-Yuma). As Justin Wingerter of the Denver Post reports, Gardner has just been too darn busy to speak out about racism:

Gardner obviously does not want to talk about any of this, either because he doesn’t disagree with President Trump or because he doesn’t want Trump to think that he disagrees. Gardner’s excuse that he has been solely focused on “the BLM move” is as silly as Acting Director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Ken Cuccinelli repeatedly insisting that he didn’t have a response to Trump’s remarks because he hadn’t logged onto Twitter recently.

Gardner’s silence on Trump’s racism nevertheless speaks volumes, particularly considering that other endangered Republican Senators up for re-election in 2020 have still managed to find their voice.

Here’s Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa):

“Yeah I do [find Trump’s comments racist]. They’re American citizens. I personally think the GOP has a stronger platform to talk about. That’s what we should be focusing on.”

And Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine):

“I disagree strongly with many of the views and comments of some of the far-left members of the House Democratic Caucus – especially when it comes to their views on socialism, their anti-Semitic rhetoric, and their negative comments about law enforcement – but the President’s tweet that some Members of Congress should go back to the ‘places from which they came’ was way over the line, and he should take that down.”

Gardner’s refusal to discuss Trump’s comments reminds us of something that then-House Speaker Paul Ryan told CBS News after he was elevated to the top job: “I think you can walk and chew gum at the same time. I think you can oppose the president on some issue that you fundamentally disagree with, but also work with the other party on issues you do agree with.”

Maybe now that the BLM’s move to Colorado has been announced, Gardner can manage to turn his attention to another issue…not that we’re holding our breath or anything.

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DCCC Steps Up In CD-3

Rep. Scott Tipton (R).

As the Grand Junction Sentinel’s Charles Ashby reports, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) is starting to run ads targeting incumbent Rep. Scott Tipton in Colorado’s CD-3–signaling that once again Democrats will compete for a seat they held until Tipton picked off incumbent Rep. John Salazar in the 2010 Republican wave year:

Seeing 2020 as an opportunity to pick up another seat in Congress, the national Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is sinking money into the race to defeat incumbent GOP U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton…

Currently, two Democrats have entered the primary race and the right to challenge Tipton. They are Mitsch Bush, a former state representative, and Durango resident Root Rutledge. Mitsch Bush eventually won the nomination in last year’s race, while Rutledge never qualified for the ballot.

Other Democratic candidates are expected to come forward, but no on else has so far. One possible contender, Senate President LeRoy Garcia, D-Pueblo, said he’s been approached about running, but wouldn’t say if he will.

Although Tipton survived in 2018 against former state Rep. Diane Mitsch Bush, Democrats are increasingly hopeful for another wave in 2020 that could give them a shot at this and other “reach goal” districts. The possibility of Senate President Leroy Garcia of Pueblo launching a bid is certainly interesting, and speculation has been fueled to some degree by Garcia’s spending on self-promotion following the end of this year’s session despite being term-limited. Garcia would bring a very different set of qualifications to the race, including the ability to potentially shut down the crucial Pueblo-area vote for Tipton.

Being the only GOP-held seat left in Colorado that Democrats have a realistic chance of picking up, CD-3 is where the House action is in 2020. We’ll be watching to see how Rep. Tipton handles the undivided attention.

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Colorado GOP Chair Voted ‘NO’ on Disaster Relief Bill

No disaster relief for you, says Congressman and State GOP Chair Ken Buck.

The House of Representatives has approved $19 billion in disaster relief funds for hurricane and flood-ravaged areas such as the Florida panhandle, Arkansas, Oklahoma, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Puerto Rico. The legislation advanced by a vote of 354-58, with all ‘NO’ votes coming from Republicans (more on that in a moment).

The Senate had already overwhelmingly passed the disaster relief measure, and President Trump — who has repeatedly expressed his support — is expected to sign the bill once it reaches his desk. Yet as the Associated Press reports, this seemingly-popular bill took quite a long time to actually get through the sausage-making process in Washington D.C.:

…conservative Republicans in the House held up the bill last week, objecting on three occasions to efforts by Democratic leaders to pass the bill by a voice vote requiring unanimity. They said the legislation — which reflects an increasingly permissive attitude in Washington on spending to address disasters that sooner or later hit every region of the country — shouldn’t be rushed through without a recorded vote…

…As the measure languished, disasters kept coming — with failed levees in Arkansas, Iowa and Missouri and tornadoes across Ohio just the most recent examples. The measure is supported by the bipartisan party leadership in both House and Senate.

The legislation is also being driven by Florida and Georgia lawmakers steaming with frustration over delays in delivering help to farmers, towns and military bases slammed by hurricanes last fall. Flooding in Iowa and Nebraska this spring added to the coalition behind the measure, which delivers much of its help to regions where Trump supporters dominate. [Pols emphasis]

Panama City, Florida in the wake of Hurricane Michael

Colorado’s Congressional delegation did not vote strictly along party lines; Rep. Scott Tipton (R-Cortez) joined all four Democrats in voting ‘YES’ on Monday. The two ‘NO’ votes from Colorado’s delegation were from Rep. Ken Buck (R-Greeley) and Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Colorado Springs). While Lamborn’s vote is as unsurprising as it is unimportant, Buck’s vote is a different story because of his other job as Chairman of the State Republican Party in Colorado.

When Buck decided to run for the vacant State GOP Chair position earlier this year, he made it clear that he had no plans to give up his Congressional seat. Buck now does both jobs, though the day-to-day operations of the State Party have been handed off to former Chairman and new “CEO” Steve House.

Buck and his spokespeople will say that his votes in Congress are made strictly as a representative of CO-4, where a solidly right-wing base of supporters might actually approve of their Congressman acting like a heartless dickhead. While this may be technically accurate, it doesn’t change the fact that the man who is also the leader of the Colorado GOP was among a small contingent of Congressional Republicans who opposed providing disaster relief for suffering communities across the country.

Buck can claim that what he does in Congress is unrelated to his work as State Party Chairman, but it’s just not possible to cleanly separate the two roles on policy issues. Would Buck have voted differently on the disaster relief measure if he were casting a vote on behalf of all Colorado Republicans? If so, then what does that say about the residents of CO-4? There was always going to be an obvious conflict of interest for Buck to do both jobs at the same time; these are the type of votes that turn a small discomfort into a festering wound.

Buck can be the symbol of the Colorado Republican Party or he can represent his Congressional district…but he can’t do both. Republicans who don’t think this is going to be a problem in 2020 are kidding themselves.

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DMB: Back For Another Run At Scott Tipton

Former Rep. Diane Mitsch Bush (D-Steamboat Springs).

As the Pueblo Chieftain’s Peter Roper reports:

Five months ago, Diane Mitsch Bush lost a bid to defeat U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton, R-Colo., but the Steamboat Springs Democrat is already announcing her intention to take on Tipton again next year in the 3rd Congressional District.

Bush, a former state legislator and Routt County commissioner, received 43 percent of the vote last November while Tipton, a four-term incumbent from Cortez, won with 51 percent…

“We need a representative who works to fix our broken health care system, protects family agriculture, believes that women’s rights are human rights and addresses climate-change head-on,” she said in a message asking for financial contributions.

Former state Rep. Diane Mitsch Bush’s 2018 campaign against incumbent GOP Rep. Scott Tipton was always considered the “reach goal” for ambitious Colorado Democrats. Rep. Bush’s loss was disappointing but attributable in part to a vigorous primary and two minor candidate challengers who soaked up votes that may well have trended against the incumbent. In an interview with the publication formerly known as the Colorado Statesman, Mitsch Bush explained why she thinks 2020 is her year:

“Now we’re moving into a presidential year, when Democrats tend to turn out more,” she said in an interview. “We also have a major U.S. Senate seat on the ballot. I think Democratic turnout will be higher and the unaffiliated turnout that leans this way will be higher too.”

In addition, Mitsch Bush said she’s launching her campaign months earlier than she did in the last cycle and is “starting out with a much clearer strategy.”

“Last time, I was very reticent to talk about his record at first. But what I found out was that many folks just don’t know how he’s voted,” she said, citing Tipton’s record on health care, veterans issues, public lands and reproductive rights.

Since 2018 (and arguably ever since his election in 2010) Tipton has done little to distinguish himself in Congress, relying on incumbency and the district’s Republican voting advantage to survive. But there’s a good argument to make that if Tipton was going to be ousted, the 2018 “wave election” was the year for it to happen.

With that said, each election brings a new landscape, and DMB was the most qualified challenger among the Democratic CD-3 contenders last year. She’ll be the Democratic nominee in this Cook PVR R+6 district once again in the absence of something unexpected, and R+6 isn’t enough of a cushion to ever really rule out a successful challenge.

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Rogue Staffer! Rogue Staffer!

Screenshot from Rep. Scott Tipton’s (R-Cortez) Twitter account

The official Twitter account for Rep. Scott Tipton (R-Cortez) posted a rather disconcerting message on Saturday mocking women in regards to recent state decisions enacting stringent anti-abortion laws. As we noted on Sunday, the Tweet in question was deleted from Tipton’s account, but not before it was captured for posterity in a screenshot.

As the Vail Daily reports in a front page story today, Tipton’s office is resorting to one of our all-time favorite bullshit excuses: The Rogue Staffer!!!

Republican U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton’s office is blaming a rogue staffer for tweeting a mocking abortion meme over the weekend deemed offensive by current and past state lawmakers who saw it and retweeted it before it was deleted a short time later…

…“The tweet was mistakenly sent out by a staffer who helps manage the account,” Tipton spokesman Matthew Atwood wrote in an email statement. “It was never viewed or vetted by Congressman Tipton prior to being posted and does not reflect Congressman Tipton’s position or work on healthcare issues.”…

…Atwood did not respond to further inquiries about disciplinary action facing the staffer. Nor did he care to expand on Tipton’s stance on the various abortion bans being passed in other states in hopes of getting the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade.

For as long as we’ve been paying attention to Colorado politics, local Republicans have been plagued by the unnamed “rogue staffer” who causes havoc wherever he or she goes. Occasionally the “rogue staffer” emerges in other states — and sometimes even the White House — but this dastardly creature tends to focus its roguish behavior on Colorado Republicans.

Someday this “rogue staffer” will be brought to justice…and then Colorado Republicans will need to find something else to blame for their awful behavior.

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Oh No, Pikachu! Rep. Tipton Deletes Tweet Mocking Women

If you weren’t around late last night on the Twitters, you missed it:

That’s Rep. Scott Tipton’s official congressional Twitter account, with a meme we have no doubt they thought was terribly clever for a moment–mocking women who appear to be holding #TimesUp movement protest signs, which is the contemporary movement to stamp out sexual harassment and assault, by re-captioning them as health care protesters. Then the meme slams the door on those women with the near-total ban on abortion signed into law last week in the state of Alabama. Cue surprised Pikachu!

Of course, even if you’re a fervently anti-abortion 60+ Republican white dude like Scott Tipton, this really isn’t a good look–especially in a state that overwhelmingly backs abortion rights like Colorado every time it’s put to a vote. Even fellow anti-abortion Republicans might find this insulting meme to be a cheap shot over an emotional issue, better left to internet trolls than sitting members of Congress. And they would be right.

On the bright side, if you’re in Colorado and upset about Alabama’s new abortion ban, now there’s somebody local you can call to complain! And when Rep. Tipton’s aide asks good-naturedly what Alabama’s abortion ban has to do with Rep. Tipton, which they will for at least the first few calls, you can ask them what they think of their boss’s sense of humor.

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Onion Blames Tipton For Shutdown, And Why The Hell Not

The bastard.

America’s leading fake news publication The Onion, which gets a pass on their fake news because they and (hopefully) everyone who reads The Onion knows it’s fake news, has finally uncovered the universal blame receptacle for the ongoing federal government shutdown–and it’s none other than Rep. Scott Tipton, Republican of Cortez, Colorado:

A new Pew Research poll published Thursday revealed that 100 percent of Americans blame the United States federal government shutdown entirely on Scott Tipton (R-CO). “From the Rust Belt to the Sun Belt, across all income brackets and racial demographics, every single respondent surveyed came to the same conclusion that Colorado congressman Scott Tipton was solely at fault for this shutdown,” said lead researcher Michelle Sanger, who explained that the 24-hour news coverage broadcasting Tipton’s failure to negotiate and compromise likely contributed to the U.S. populace’s negative perceptions of the representative from Colorado’s third district.

Makes perfect sense to us, really! As much as any of them, and no doubt that’s what The Onion thought when they picked Tipton presumably at random. As a stand-in for feckless Republicans in the era of Trump, Tipton is both everybody and, well, nobody.

Sometimes fake news still makes you think! We promise to never say that again.

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The Little Bomber That Could

(Anthropomorphism gone rather awry – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

It’s been nearly a century since The Little Engine That Could first charmed children with its cheerful smile and can-do attitude. These days, kids love characters such as Thomas the Tank Engine and the cast of “Toy Story,” all of whom continue the tradition of entertaining young minds while teaching fundamental lessons about overcoming life’s challenges.

Author and Air Force wife Liesl Ross just published her children’s book to help kids –like her own who are growing up on military bases– cope with a challenge that’s especially familiar to families in the armed services: moving to a new home.

The Colorado native and daughter of Congressman Scott Tipton (R-CO), wanted to tell a story that would resonate for the kids on the base. The hero of Ross’ story is also a kid who’s faced with moving away from the only friends and neighborhood she has ever known. And like Thomas the Tank Engine, she’s also a vehicle with a cute smile.

Meet Bonnie the B-1 Bomber:

Bonnie B-One’s Supersonic Move is on a mission to show children the importance of being kind and brave no matter where life takes them! Bonnie B-One is a young United States Air Force B-1B bomber jet who must navigate the emotions that come with moving to a new home and making new friends. Readers of all ages will enjoy Bonnie’s adventure and lesson in resiliency.  —Barnes & Noble overview
B-1B bomber

The B-1B Lancer is a supersonic heavy bomber that carries the largest payload of both guided and unguided munitions in the Air Force. It has served in combat over Kosovo, Iraq, Afghanistan and most recently in Syria. Initially designed to carry nuclear weapons, it was converted to strictly conventional use in the 1990s.

The Air Force currently retains an active inventory of 62 aircraft assigned to squadrons at Dyess AFB, Texas and Ellsworth AFB, South Dakota, where Ross’ family resides.

Ross and her illustrator, airman Alexander Buchanan who is also stationed at the base, were featured in a story about their book last Friday by the Rapid City, South Dakota NBC affiliate.

(more…)

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Get More Smarter: The Big Predictions Thread


With the 2018 elections wrapping up today, here’s our master list of official predictions on the outcome in Colorado. If you’re looking for national predictions, we suggest FiveThirtyEight or your choice of outlets focused on the national map. For the next 24 hours, we’re focused exclusively on the home front.

With that in mind, please refer to this list as you roast your hosts on Wednesday for everything we get wrong:

Governor: Jared Polis will handily win the race for governor. Our previous forecasts had held the prediction of Polis’ win margin below 10% citing a number of factors, but over the past few weeks the climate has only improved for Democrats in Colorado and ballot returns echo this growing confidence. A double-digit Polis win is now a real possibility.

CD-6: After years of trying, Democrats harpoon the proverbial white whale and bring incumbent GOP Rep. Mike Coffman down. Coffman’s ticket-splitting survival strategy of triangulation off his own party was confounded by Donald Trump’s election, and he has been unable to maintain the illusory separation from the GOP brand that kept him in office in a district unsupportive of conservative Republican politics.

CD-3: Despite a spirited campaign by state Rep. Diane Mitsch Bush, recent polling and anecdotes from the field suggest that incumbent GOP Rep. Scott Tipton will retain his seat and thus serve as the Republican Party’s firewall in Colorado for 2018. This race is a good barometer of the size of a potential “Blue Wave” nationally; if Tipton loses, that means Democrats are wiping out Republicans everywhere.

Colorado House: Democrats are poised to gain seats in the chamber they already control by a comfortable margin.

Colorado Senate: Republicans have poured at least $10 million into preserving their single-seat majority in the Colorado Senate, the only locus of Republican veto power in Colorado state government. Control over the chamber appears to be focusing on the SD-24 race between Republican Beth Martinez Humenik and Faith Winter. This race, and with it control of the Senate, is an absolute toss-up, and we honestly have no idea which way it will fall.

Colorado Attorney General: Phil Weiser appears poised to win this race after an ugly but bumbling negative campaign waged by Republican George Brauchler. Historic frustration for Democrats in this race obliges contained enthusiasm, but this is the constitutional statewide office Democrats feel strongest about flipping (other than Governor, of course).

Colorado Treasurer: Republican Brian Watson’s prodigious baggage has been thoroughly aired in this campaign, combining with high Democratic turnout to inspire a measure of confidence in Democrat Dave Young. We give Young the slight edge.

Colorado Secretary of State: Colorado voters haven’t awarded the top four statewide offices to the same party in more than 20 years. Despite a checkered record as Secretary of State and late-breaking scandals that likely would have sunk his re-election bid had they come out earlier, Wayne Williams is the most likely Republican to win statewide in Colorado this year.

We expect this year’s “alphabet amendments,” Amendments V, W, X, Y, Z, and A to all pass handily, as will the payday loan rate cap Proposition 111Amendment 73, a measure to hike taxes on high-income earners for public education, may outperform previous similar measures that were handily defeated but is still unlikely to pass. Amendment 74, the highly controversial takings measure opposed by basically everyone except the oil and gas industry, is also likely to die–as is Proposition 112, a measure to substantially increase setbacks between new oil and gas drilling and surface development, leaving a status quo ante on the issue for the next governor.

Of the two transportation funding measures, Proposition 109 and Proposition 110, we’d say 109 is the more likely of the two to pass because it promises something for nothing to voters by borrowing money to fix roads (assuming legislators will find cuts in the state’s budget to pay for it). We’re concerned that the work to educate voters on the irresponsibility of 109 versus the responsible pay-fors of 110 has not been sufficient, though the overall confusion with two competing ballot measures could sink both options.

And there you have it, readers! We, like everybody on the ballot, await the judgement of history.

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Silliest Ad Yet Hits CD-3 Race



ThinkProgresscheck this one out:

Fourth-term Republican Rep. Scott Tipton, facing a tough re-election in Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District, has launched a new broadside against his Democratic opponent Diane Mitsch Bush — falsely accusing her of socialism because she once subscribed to a non-profit magazine that was originally founded by a socialist historian.

Though she is not a socialist, in an attack ad posted on Wednesday, Tipton first warns that the Democratic Socialists of America (an organization with which Mitsch Bush has no affiliation) “openly propose to do away with capitalism” — which is sort of the point of socialism. The narrator then claims that Diane Mitsch Bush “helped fund a leading socialist magazine.” In text on the screen, the ad cites three issues of the award-winning monthly magazine In These Times — a progressive publication that has not identified as an “Independent Socialist Newspaper” since 1989…

For those unfamiliar, the magazine In These Times was started over 40 years ago as a fairly unapologetic lefty magazine–for a time even adopting the tagline “The Socialist Newsweekly.” Since that time, though, the magazine has evolved into a more mainstream source of still unapologetically progressive news and commentary, and is particularly popular among labor unions.

A spokesperson for the Mitsch Bush campaign told ThinkProgress that she was a subscriber and believes she made an “insignificant” small additional contribution to support the publication. The campaign also provided a list of other publications she has “helped fund” by subscribing, including Time, Newsweek, Ms., The Nation, the High Country News, the New York Times, the Washington Post, Colorado Politics, and the Denver Post.

That’s right, folks. This is an attack ad entirely based on a magazine subscription. Like most nonprofit or modestly for-profit publications, it’s no surprise that In These Times solicits subscribers for additional donations in support of their work–just like Colorado Public Radio or any charity does. But even that doesn’t make Rep. Diane Mitsch Bush anything more than a subscriber to a magazine, and on the basis of that magazine subscription voters are supposed to believe she is some kind of anti-‘Merican saboteur? By this logic, every Money subscriber is Bernie Madoff and every Playboy subscriber is a pervert. It’s completely ridiculous.

And above all, it shows Rep. Scott Tipton doesn’t have anything to use on Diane Mitsch Bush.

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Who Will Win in CO-6: Coffman or Crow?


Rep. Mike Coffman (left) and challenger Jason Crow

We’ve asked you, our wise readers, to weigh in on the outcome of the race for Governor, and we’ve asked for your opinions on the other top statewide races in 2018. Now it’s time to get Congressional.

As always, we want to know who you think will be the winner in November, not who you support or who you would prefer to see emerge victorious. The point of this exercise is to track how perceptions of various races are changing (or not) as Election Day nears.

Who will win the U.S. House race in CO-6? Will Republican Rep. Mike Coffman hold off another challenger, or will Democrat Jason Crow emerge victorious?

Who Will Win the Race in CO-6?

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Tipton And Other Republicans Return to Pueblo Racist’s Annual Fundraiser


(Gross — promoted by Colorado Pols)

Every year, Republican lawmakers gather at Tom Ready’s Steak Fry fundraiser. Ready is an unapologetic racist and anti-government conspiracy theorist whose annual backyard BBQ nevertheless continues to draw GOP candidates and elected officials of all levels, including Congressman Scott Tipton.

 Ready’s history of overt racism, homophobia and Islamophobia has been well-documented by the Colorado Times Recorder in the past. The post on the left is from a couple years ago.

Tom Ready racist NFL FB postHe continues to do so today, with posts like this one about NFL players. 

 

Confirmed attendees at this year’s event include Congressman Scott Tipton, State Sens. Larry Crowder (R-Alamosa) and Bob Gardner (R-Colorado Springs), HD46 Jonathan Ambler, HD47 candidate Don Bendell, HD62 candidate Scott Honeycutt, Pueblo County Commissioner District 3 candidate Zach Swearingen, University of Colorado Regent Glen Gallegos, and Marla Spinuzzi Reichert, chair of the Pueblo County Republicans.

 

(more…)

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DMB Comes Out Swinging At Club 20 Debate



Rep. Scott Tipton (R).

As the Glenwood Springs Post-Independent’s Matthew Bennett reports, the Democratic candidate running in CD-3, former state Rep. Diane Mitsch Bush, surprised attendees at this weekend’s Club 20 candidates debates with a strong performance that called out incumbent Rep. Scott Tipton on a broad range of issues relevant to the district:

Club 20, billed as the “Voice of the Western Slope,” held its fall political debates Saturday in Grand Junction, and while numerous candidates vigorously debated and cross-examined their opponents, the hotly contested race for Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District seat proved the most contentious showdown…

Tipton did not waste any time comparing his opponent to Democratic U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders. Mitsch Bush, however, quickly pushed back at Tipton’s socialist portrayal of her candidacy and told the audience that she would promote bipartisanship and not fall victim to big donors but rather serve her constituents.

When asked if she would support Nancy Pelosi as Speaker of the House should the Democrats take control of the House this November, the former state representative and Routt County commissioner responded, “I am going to support the candidate who is best for our district.

“We need new leadership,” Mitsch Bush said. “I will not necessarily support Nancy Pelosi, but you know what? You guys are using this issue to cast our attention away from the bills that you have passed.” [Pols emphasis]

The Grand Junction Sentinel’s Charles Ashby:

U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton, R-Colo., said his Democratic opponent, Diane Mitsch Bush, wants single-payer health care, refuses to take a position on the Jordan Cove liquefied natural gas export facility, and would vote for U.S. Rep. Nancy Pelosi as speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives.

Mitsch Bush said Tipton hasn’t done enough to help farmers and ranchers get the migrant workers they need, only started supporting the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund in an election year, and backs President Donald Trump entirely too much.

We mentioned last week the debate over the Jordan Cove LNG export project, and Tipton’s mistaken claim that Mitsch Bush had taken a position on the highly controversial project. He corrected that mistake in time for this weekend’s debate, but it didn’t matter–by all accounts Tipton’s Democratic challenger was fully in charge, and easily demonstrated her ability to keep pace with the incumbent. It’s always been our opinion that Tipton isn’t very good on stage, even with a script. A good opponent really makes Tipton’s oratorical inadequacies stand out.

CD-3 is still the Democratic “reach goal” in a year of high wave year hopes. What we can say, based on Diane Mitsch Bush’s strength in this weekend’s Club 20 debate, is that this was a good day to keep hope alive.

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Tipton Trips Trying To Trash Opponent’s Hick Endorsement


Rep. Scott Tipton (R).

David O. Williams writes for the Vail Daily:

Gov. John Hickenlooper this week endorsed the campaign of fellow Democrat Diane Mitsch Bush, as Mitsch Bush, a former state representative and Routt County commissioner, tries to unseat four-term Republican U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton, of Cortez, in the Tuesday, Nov. 6, general election.

“I’m proud to endorse Diane Mitsch Bush for Congress,” Hickenlooper was quoted as saying in a news release. “I worked closely with Diane during her time in the Colorado Legislature. … She is both hard working and dedicated to her community. Diane’s experience and fact-based legislating would make her a strong voice for Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District.”

Naturally,

Tipton’s campaign questioned Hickenlooper’s endorsement of Mitsch Bush.

“It’s bizarre that Gov. Hickenlooper would support someone who is against Jordan Cove and a supporter of a Bernie Sanders-style, government-run health care system, but clearly he is trying to remake himself in the image of the new extremist Democrat Party as he gears up to run for president,” Tipton campaign spokesman Matt Connelly wrote in an email.

Setting aside the government-run “health scare” boilerplate, some variation of which is finding its way into basically every Republican press release in 2018, there appears to be a problem with the claim that former state Rep. Diane Mitsch Bush is “against Jordan Cove”–meaning the proposed Jordan Cove, Oregon liquified natural gas export terminal that would enable sales of Colorado natural gas to Asian markets. Although Jordan Cove would be good for energy companies, energy consumers would likely see big increases in the price of natural gas on the local market–all for the purpose of exporting energy reserves, not domestic energy independence. The project was voted down by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in 2016, but has been controversially revived by the Trump administration.

Not to mention, you know, fracking the West for China. Is that something we want as national policy?

With all of this in mind, given former Rep. Mitsch Bush’s record of voting for environmental protection and renewable energy it would not be a stretch for her to come out against Jordan Cove. The problem is that she has not done that yet, so this attack is just wrong. But more importantly, this weak-sauce response to a key endorsement for Mitsch Bush underscores that Tipton really has very little with which to attack his opponent this year. This election will a referendum on many things, but outside a small bubble of safely Republican pro-fossil fuel voters, Jordan Cove isn’t one of them.

Tipton’s campaign had better sharpen their pencils, because better comebacks than this will be needed.

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Scott Tipton Starts His Own Trump Slow-Walk Back


Rep. Scott Tipton (R-Cortez).

The Pueblo Chieftain’s Peter Roper ran a story over the long weekend that we have to say we’re not surprised a bit to see–GOP Rep. Scott Tipton, looking nervously at the difficult midterm election that awaits him, and wondering if it just might not be a bad idea to at least, you know, maybe think about…

Putting some daylight between himself and President Donald Trump:

U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton is running for a fifth term in Congress, and the Cortez Republican manages to both support President Donald Trump’s agenda as well as step away at times.

Tipton, who represents Pueblo and the 3rd Congressional District, says he doesn’t want a trade war with China or other U.S. trading partners. But he adds that Trump’s willingness to impose tariffs seems to be getting results in some negotiations, such as with Mexico…

What becomes obvious very quickly is that this story is mostly about its headline. Tipton has a consistent response: Trump makes him uncomfortable, but he “seems to be getting results.” It’s a theme that goes on:

Tipton says Trump is right in claiming a wall on the Mexico border is needed— but, he adds, not everywhere…

And on:

And as for Special Counsel Robert Mueller, Trump may want him fired, but Tipton says that would be a mistake…

But then Tipton adds that Mueller’s investigation has “gotten away from its original intent” of investigating Russian interference in the U.S. elections.

Somewhere in this it becomes painfully obvious that Tipton is giving answers crafted to allow him an escape no matter what happens to Trump’s hard-line proposals on immigration and foreign trade, or the investigation into alleged collusion with Russia to win the 2016 elections. Tipton wants to look “independent from Trump,” without saying anything that would land him on the White House’s notorious list of unfavored Republicans who have publicly criticized the President.

Still, it’s happening at the same time Walker Stapleton is closing ranks with Trump–so it’s notable.

This is all happening as national Republican strategists have begun giving tailored advice to Republican candidates based on local polling numbers on how to invoke the president on the campaign trail–from embracing Trump in red states to sort-of shunning him where Trump is likely to drag down GOP turnout. CD-3 is an interesting case, with far-flung very different population centers. Cozying up to Trump has few disadvantages in Grand Junction, but in Pueblo it’s another matter entirely.

The one thing that we can say with certainty is that Tipton is not very good at this. Whatever the strategy is, Tipton’s poor execution makes it both easier to spot and less likely to succeed.

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Scott Tipton Sides With Trump Against Mueller


Rep. Scott Tipton (R-Cortez).

Some revealing comments from the Montrose County Republicans Women’s Luncheon last Friday by Rep. Scott Tipton about his view of the investigation into President Donald Trump’s dealings with the Russian government to gain leverage in the 2016 elections–as the Daily Press’ Katharhynn Heidelberg reports:

United States Attorney General Jeff Sessions should not have fully recused himself from oversight of the investigation into Russian election interference, U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton said Friday…

“I think at the time, he (Sessions) should have had a limited recusal,” Tipton later told the Montrose Daily Press. “It has probably inhibited his ability to be as effective as he could as attorney general.” [Pols emphasis]

During the event, Tipton also was asked whether the president was within his rights to end the Mueller probe, which was characterized as a “witch hunt.”

“He probably could,” Tipton said. “We’ve yet to see one bit of evidence it (interference) impacted the election, in terms of the outcome. Were the Russians playing? You bet they were. Nobody disputes that.”

Of course that’s not true, since President Donald Trump disputed it as recently as last month–in between sort of admitting it and the usual refrain downplaying its significance. Having made statements pretty much all over the map about this issue allows Republicans defending Trump to say anything they want. But the one thing Republicans can’t be honest about regarding Russian meddling in the 2016 elections is the most basic of facts–why they did it:

However, their goal was to create discord and division, Tipton added, calling for more of “something we used to call civility.” [Pols emphasis]

This too is simply not an accurate statement, since it is the conclusion of every impartial investigation into Russian involvement in the 2016 elections that they were working very deliberately to boost Donald Trump at Hillary Clinton’s expense. The only people who don’t admit this today are Republicans who cannot admit it because they are members of Trump’s political party–for whom the admission would be a devastating indictment.

Yes, there are some Republicans speaking out against Trump. They have courage transcendent of the politics of the moment, and a conscience that will not allow them to remain silent while Trump does lasting harm to the nation and their party.

Scott Tipton is not, and does not have the capacity to be, one of those Republicans.

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