Friday Open Thread

“They appear to have become so attached to their outrage that they are even more outraged that they won’t be able to be outraged anymore.”

–Barney Frank

Dan Baer Drops Senate Bid, Backs Hickenlooper

Former Gov. John Hickenlooper

Democrat Dan Baer announced today that he is suspending (ending) his campaign for U.S. Senate and endorsing former Gov. John Hickenlooper.

“I am suspending my campaign for the U.S. Senate and endorsing John Hickenlooper as the candidate who will beat Cory Gardner next November,” said Baer in a statement. “We must win this seat!”

Baer’s announcement comes one day after former U.S. Attorney John Walsh dropped his own bid for the Democratic nomination in 2020. Walsh also endorsed Hickenlooper.

Baer is dropping out of a federal race in Colorado for the second time in three years as he again finds his eyes to be bigger than his stomach. Baer was a candidate for Congress in CO-7 in 2017 until incumbent Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-Jefferson County) changed his mind on retirement and decided to run for re-election (though it took Baer a longer period of time than it should have before he finally ended that campaign). Baer’s U.S. Senate bid was notable mostly for his fundraising ability; he is a Colorado native but has only been back in the state for a few years and and would have struggled to make much of a mark in a Democratic Primary with or without Hickenlooper.

Marble Says She “Liked” Bigoted Facebook Post As Part of Her Job to Listen to People

(A like-ly story – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Colorado Sen. Vicki Marble (R-Ft. Collins) “liked” a Facebook post this week with an image of the burning twin towers set in the middle of this statement:

“Every time a Moslem (sic) stands up in Congress and tells us they will change the Constitution, impeach our President, or vote for Socialism, remember you said you would never forget. They said they would destroy us from within.”

The Colorado Times Recorder asked Marble why she “liked” this post.

Marble: Good morning, Jason. Thank you for calling. As we discussed before, the ‘like’ on FB can mean many things. For example, I find many posts interesting, not that I agree or disagree with them, but ‘Like’ is a way to say thanks for posting or let the person know I read it. I respect their right to say what’s on their mind…

Colorado Times Recorder: Thank you very much. Yes, I agree about Facebook likes. Fair point. Why did you like the post in this case? …To me, it suggests U.S. Reps. Ihan Omar and Rashida Tlaib are terrorists. Can you explain why you like it?

Marble: I ‘Like’ your point of view on this. I don’t think many people agree with you, but this is how you perceive it to read. I find your point of view interesting, but I don’t read things into this the way you do.

Colorado Times Recorder: I see. So in the case of the Muslim meme, why did you ‘like’ it?

Marble: I like hearing people express their views. I need to know what is on their minds. It is part of being a legislator.

Asked about the post “liked” by Marble, Amanda Henderson, Director of the Interfaith Alliance of Colorado expressed concern about “cavalier posts on social media that incite hatred and division.”

“In this case, we are one day from grieving the attacks of September 11, 2001 and stirring this kind of thing up demonizes people simply for their religious tradition, said Henderson via email. “What we really need to do as a country is build relationships across our differences and communities where all people are able to thrive.”

The bigoted post aligns with statements from talk radio hosts and other right-wing Colorado conservatives who regularly denounce not just Muslim extremists but the entire religion of Islam.

For example, in a radio interview shortly after Trump was elected, KNUS radio host Peter Boyles denounced Islam and said Muslims are incapable of respecting the U.S. Constitution and the fundamental values of the United States, due to their religious beliefs, essentially saying there is no place for Muslims in our country. He stood behind the comments.

Pence Aspen Money Mystery Solved–Raising New Questions

Vice President Mike Pence.

Back in July, we took note of an interesting FOX 31 story following up a Republican Party fundraiser in Aspen starring Vice President Mike Pence. As Joe St. George reported at the time, Pitkin County Sheriff Joe DiSalvo sought to collect over $18,000 in reimbursement for security costs related to the fundraiser. After a surprising amount of rigamarole and a round of bad press for the Trump campaign, DiSalvo’s invoice was paid–by donors who wished to remain anonymous.

That’s a big problem, of course, since these were arguably in-kind campaign contributions to the GOP and the Trump 2020 campaign with no reporting to the Federal Election Commission. But it wasn’t a big problem to find out who wrote the checks, whether these donors who requested anonymity knew it or not, because as we noted then Colorado’s open records law made the checks and the checkwriters’ identities a public record the moment they were given to the Pitkin County Sheriff.

Which is where 9NEWS’ Marshall Zelinger picks up the story yesterday:

“Usually, we don’t have this much trouble. And we do ask way in advance, so it doesn’t usually come as a surprise to the hosts,” said DiSalvo. “I usually use that time to contact the hosts and say, ‘this is an impact on my small department, and it does cost a lot of money, could you please reimburse us?’ I’ve never really had a problem, and I’m not saying that this is a problem this time because we did get reimbursed, but it was kind of uncharted waters for me to have to dig and dig and dig just to find out who the host of this party was, and I still don’t know.”

…There is no requirement that the president or vice president reimburse local law enforcement for visits, even if they’re political and not official visits. If someone pays, it’s usually from a campaign account.

Since the payment came directly from individuals and not the Trump campaign, it isn’t tracked by the Federal Elections Commission. Whereas contributions [EG] Kendrick made to Gardner’s reelection campaign and former Congressman Mike Coffman’s 2018 campaign are searchable. Those contributions were made to the campaigns and recorded with the FEC. These payments were not.

Earl G. “Ken” Kendrick.

The two donors who wrote equal $9,087 checks and asked to remain anonymous were Mark Horace Love, an Arizona investment banker and (much more newsworthy) Earl G. “Ken” Kendrick, the managing owner of the Arizona Diamondbacks. This is where it gets politically quite interesting, since Kendrick’s family has been long on record as fiercely opposed to Donald Trump–reportedly giving big money to a PAC that spent millions in a failed attempt to stop Trump from winning the nomination in 2016.

Much like Sen. Cory Gardner’s about-face from calling for Trump to pull out of the presidential race in October of 2016 to endorsing and defending Trump today, Ken Kendrick’s about-face from a “Never Trumper” to trying to sneak in-kind money to the Trump re-election campaign presents big and obvious questions. What changed? A good place to start would be with Kendrick’s expansive business networks in Arizona and elsewhere. For example, in July fellow Diamondbacks owner and close associate of Kendricks, Mike Ingram, was targeted by a congressional investigation after allegedly getting “help” on a permit from Interior Secretary David Bernhardt for a southern Arizona home development over objections that it could harm threatened species. What else might be out there to underwrite Kendrick’s change of heart?

One thing’s for sure: somebody at this level of the game, and we’re not talking baseball, should have known better.

Get More Smarter on Thursday (September 12)

On this day 45 years ago, it was 1974. Let’s Get More Smarter. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of an audio/visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show or The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us Facebook and Twitter.


► Immigration advocates are facing a setback after a big Supreme Court decision late Wednesday. As the New York Times reports:

The Supreme Court on Wednesday allowed the Trump administration to bar most Central American migrants from seeking asylum in the United States, while the legal fight plays out in the courts.

The Supreme Court, in a brief, unsigned order, said the administration may enforce new rules that generally forbid asylum applications from migrants who have traveled through another country on their way to the United States without being denied asylum in that country.

The court’s order was a major victory for the administration, allowing it to enforce a policy that will achieve one of its central goals: effectively barring most migration across the nation’s southwestern border by Hondurans, Salvadorans, Guatemalans and others. Mexican migrants, who need not travel through another country to reach the United States, are not affected by the new policy.

It was the second time in recent months that the Supreme Court has allowed a major Trump administration immigration initiative to go forward. In July, the court allowed the administration to begin using $2.5 billion in Pentagon money for the construction of a barrier along the Mexican border. Last year, the court upheld President Trump’s ban on travel from several predominantly Muslim countries.

From (9/12/19)

Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor is livid with her colleagues’ decision, however. As the Washington Post explains:

No vote was recorded in the Supreme Court’s order, which is standard on a matter like this, but Sotomayor wrote an uncharacteristically blistering five-page dissent. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg cosigned.

“The rule here may be, as the District Court concluded, in significant tension with the asylum statute,” Sotomayor said. “It may also be arbitrary and capricious for failing to engage with the record evidence contradicting its conclusions. It is especially concerning, moreover, that the rule the Government promulgated topples decades of settled asylum practices and affects some of the most vulnerable people in the Western Hemisphere.”…

…The bulk of Sotomayor’s critique relates to process. She argues, essentially, that it’s in poor form for the Trump administration to immediately come running to the Supreme Court, with two Trump appointees and five of the nine justices appointed by Republicans, every time a lower court puts on hold a policy while legal challenges are being heard. She would prefer to let the process play out the way it has in the past.


► On orders from the Trump administration, the Environmental Protection Agency is scaling back clean water standards to where they were in 1986. From the Washington Post:

In the halls of Washington and on sprawling farms and ranches, in courtrooms and corporate boardrooms, a legal tug of war has unfolded over a 2015 rule that gave the Environmental Protection Agency much broader authority over the nation’s waterways. Critics say the Obama rule gave the federal government far too much power; supporters countered it would prevent the loss of vast swaths of wetlands. Court rulings have temporarily blocked the regulation in 28 states, while keeping it in effect in 22 others.

On Thursday, the Trump administration plans to scrap the Obama-era definition of what qualifies as “waters of the United States” under the Clean Water Act, returning the country to standards put in place in 1986…

…critics say the rollback will speed the conversion of wetlands and headwaters, which provide critical habitat for wildlife and support the nation’s drinking water supply. Americans drained about half of the 220 million acres of wetlands in the contiguous United States between the 1780s and 1980s, most of it to expand farmland. That rate began to slow after George H.W. Bush took office, pledging to stem the tide of wetlands loss.


 As CBS4 Denver reports, Colorado Democrats are leading the charge in Washington D.C. in pushing for new gun safety regulations:

Congressman Joe Neguse said he favors changes to federal law, and hopes Republicans will too.

“If my colleagues are serious about addressing gun violence, about addressing suicide — Colorado happens to have the 10th highest rate of suicides in the United States, 50% of those involve a firearm — if my colleagues are serious about that, I would hope that they would join us tonight in supporting this bill so that we can finally do something about the pervasive gun violence that is ravaging communities across our country,” he said during Tuesday’s hearing.

While the bills have support in the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives, there’s an uncertain future in the Republican-controlled Senate. President Donald Trump at first seemed to favor some changes in gun laws several weeks ago, but it’s unclear where he stands now.


 Ten Democratic candidates for President will take to the debate stage tonight in Houston, Texas. The New York Times previews the big show.


Get even more smarter after the jump…


House Minority Leader Attacks Fellow Republicans Over Fundraising Groups

(This is going swimmingly — Promoted by Colorado Pols)

House Minority Leader Patrick Neville took to the airwaves to attack his Republican colleagues last week. He dismissed the fundraising efforts of his former state Reps. Dan Thurlow and Polly Lawerence, calling them “the JV squad.”

The pair of former legislators, considered “establishment” Republicans compared to the far-right Minority Leader, launched an independent expenditure committee to support GOP legislative candidates. Former Attorney General Cynthia Coffman and other Republicans have since joined the group, Friends Of The Future, as advisors.

During a Sept. 6 appearance on KNUS 710AM’s Chuck & Julie Show, Neville mocked the moderate politicians for imitating his small-dollar fundraising prowess:

“They’re kind of like the JV squad reuniting, wearing their letter jackets and talking about all the great things they did. Imitation is the biggest form of flattery, so in this case they’re seeing how successful we’re being with developing a small dollar donor base so we don’t have to be totally dependent on these large donations from corporations or other big donors…” House Minority Leader Patrick Neville, KNUS, 9/6/19

Asked by KNUS host Julie Hayden which Republican fundraising entities conservatives should support, Neville briefly mentioned his official House 527 Values First Colorado, but quickly moved on to promote “Recall Colorado,” another 527 Neville and his brother Joe created, ostensibly to separate their recall fundraising from their regular election cycle work.

Values First Colorado is the official House 527 and then we also have We’re transforming that into small dollar donations that we’re really trying to turn into a base that we can hand off towards future election cycles so that’s really main effort that we’ve put into it. It’s becoming Take Back Colorado, now that we’re getting past the recall cycles and getting closer to 2020, we’re running out of time to initiate a lot of these recalls. So that’s what we’re going to transform that into. So, there you go.”

Neville’s claim that he’s transforming Recall Colorado into “Take Back Colorado” (TBC) as part of an effort to shift from “recall cycles” to “future election cycles” is interesting for a few reasons.


Thursday Open Thread

“The damage done in one year can sometimes take ten or twenty years to repair.”

–Chinua Achebe

What In the Hell Is Cory Gardner Doing?

Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma)

Senate Democrats are pushing for another vote to get Republicans on the record supporting President Trump’s money grab for building his great big wall at the U.S.-Mexico border. As Politico explains:

Last week, the Trump administration unveiled its plan to divert $3.6 billion in military construction funding to build the president’s border wall, a move which came after Trump declared a national emergency in February to access the funds. Among the states with projects the administration plans to raid are Colorado, Arizona, North Carolina, Texas and South Carolina — all of which have senators up for re-election in 2020.

But Democrats are seeking to pressure Republicans to go on the record with their support for Trump’s national emergency by forcing another vote disapproving of it in the next month.

You may recall a similar vote back in March that turned Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) into a crispy waffle. After pretending that he was opposed to President Trump’s efforts to go around Congress for wall money, Gardner ultimately folded and voted “NO” on a resolution of opposition to Trump’s bogus emergency declaration. It was this vote that prompted the Denver Post editorial board to famously un-endorse Gardner, an unusual and incredibly damaging moment for Gardner’s re-election hopes in 2020.

But since Gardner has already taken his lumps for that terrible decision last March, you would think his response to this latest effort by Senate Democrats would be pretty straightforward. You would be wrong.

Let’s go back to Politico:

Democrats plan to attack Republicans politically for supporting Trump’s wall over projects in their home states. Democratic challengers bashed Republicans last week when the list of military projects affected was announced. Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.), who chairs the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, referenced a Denver Post editorial criticizing Sen. Cory Gardner for failing to speak out against Colorado funds being diverted.

“I think from my perspective, at the end of the day we should all be fighting for our states on issues that matter and no matter what the president is doing if it’s going to harm our communities then we should be standing up against it,” Cortez Masto said. “At least from what I’ve seen from the Denver Post it’s having an impact, absolutely.”

When asked Wednesday if he’d support the national emergency declaration, Gardner responded: “I haven’t seen the resolution of disapproval, but I mean, the Democrats refuse to fund the border.” [Pols emphasis]

Trying to shift blame to Democrats is the same dumbass comment that caused the Denver Post to rip into Gardner just last weekend, but that’s not what makes this response from Gardner so supremely stupid (although continuing to touch a hot stovetop is pretty silly in itself). What is truly baffling here is that Gardner is avoiding a direct response about a question he’s already answered.

Because Gardner was not one of the 12 Republicans to support the March resolution condemning Trump’s emergency declaration, there would be no logical reason for him to support a similar resolution in the coming weeks — yet he still dances around the question. Even Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) was smart enough to acknowledge to Politico that he would oppose such a resolution — and Tillis famously wrote an Op-Ed for the Washington Post condemning Trump’s emergency declaration just days before he flip-flopped and voted in the opposite direction.

Perhaps feigning ignorance is such a reflex for Gardner that he doesn’t even think twice about muttering that sort of statement anymore, but these defensive responses don’t serve him well at all. Gardner has already proven that he’ll acquiesce to President Trump on any topic; anybody paying even a lick of attention to this knows that Gardner will absolutely do it again if Senate Democrats force another vote. What’s the point of pretending otherwise?

At Least It’s Not Your State House

North Carolina House Speaker Tim Moore (R) yucks it up after today’s surprise vote.

As the Raleigh News & Observer reports, North Carolina House Republicans pulled a fast one today while many Democrats were away from the chambers commemorating the 9/11 terrorist attacks–using the absence of most of the Democratic minority to jam through an override of Gov. Roy Cooper’s veto of the GOP-controlled legislature’s budget. It’s the latest treacherous move by Republicans in that state’s continuing partisan battle over expanding Medicaid:

In a surprise move Wednesday morning, the N.C. House of Representatives voted to override Gov. Roy Cooper’s veto of the state budget with just over half of the 120 members present to vote.

Democrats in the chamber objected to the bill being brought up, saying they were told there would be no votes during the 8:30 a.m. session and that it was just a formality so work could begin. Rep. Jason Saine, a Lincolnton Republican, made the motion to reconsider the state budget and chaos in the chamber quickly ensued…

Moore ignored the objections of the Democrats that were in the room and instead mowed through the vote with only 64 members voting. The vote was 55-9. Later, multiple Democratic House members who were there but who weren’t able to vote in time had their votes recorded as “no.” But it still wasn’t enough to change the outcome.

About three hours after the morning vote, Cooper held a press conference to condemn Republicans for what he called “an assault on our Democracy.” He’s been negotiating the budget with Republican leaders for months and was caught off-guard by Wednesday’s vote.

“Today, on the 18th anniversary of 9/11, while the state was honoring first responders, Republicans called a deceptive, surprise override of my budget veto,” he told reporters.

Democrats in the North Carolina House say Speaker Tim Moore explicitly told them there would be no votes on the morning of the 9/11 anniversary, freeing them up to attend other events. We suppose it might have been a telltale warning that Republicans were not at any 9/11 commemorations themselves, but in parliamentary give-and-take like everything else there’s a natural inclination to take people at their word.

Looks like North Carolina Democrats won’t be doing that again.

Colorado GOP In Chaos After Recalls Crash And Burn

Yesterday afternoon, the recall campaigns targeting state Sens. Pete Lee of Colorado Springs and Brittany Pettersen of Lakewood announced the failure of their efforts after having collected an unknown number of signatures short of the requirement in both districts. This news yesterday afternoon came following Friday’s announcement that the “Dismiss Polis” recall petition campaign gathered less than half the required signatures to qualify a recall question against Gov. Jared Polis for the ballot. Back in June, the recall petition campaign targeting Rep. Tom Sullivan failed after intense national news coverage highlighted the offense of trying to recall the father of an Aurora theater massacre victim for passing gun control legislation.


The Recall Polis “creeper van.”

Last March, Rep. Ken Buck was elected chairman of the Colorado Republican Party on a promise to teach Democrats “how to spell R-E-C-A-L-L.” The ill-fated recall attempt against Rep. Tom Sullivan was filed by Colorado Republican Party vice-chair Kristi Burton Brown, who subsequently tried to distance the party from her actions as it became clear to all parties that a serious political and moral error had been made in attempting to recall Rep. Sullivan.

The recall campaign against Gov. Polis kicked off, as readers know well, over the strenuous objections of the “Official” Recall Polis committee who (as it turns out correctly) predicted the effort would fail. Two competing fundraising operations nominally dedicated to the same extremely unlikely goal of recalling Gov. Polis confusingly solicited Republicans for funds, and laid out opposing but always unrealistic visions for how the recall would proceed. In the end the “official” committee denounced the petition drive managed by GOP attorney Korry Lewis, and wrote a big check to Colorado For Trump in hope of deflecting allegations of defrauding its donors–in spirit if not in legal point of fact.

The Polis recall petition campaign claimed to have collected around 300,000 signatures, less than half the required total let alone the 30%+ margin required to cover invalid signatures during the verification process. Because these signatures will never be turned in, no one will ever know if even these claimed numbers are accurate. Likewise with the now-dead recall petition drives targeting Sens. Lee and Pettersen–those campaigns did not disclose even an estimate of signatures they had collected, and it would be impossible to verify any number they provided. On the other hand, Democrats used these petition drives to mobilize large canvass operations in the targeted districts, giving them a jump on the next cycle.

“Herbie The Hate Bug.”

The collapse in just the space of a few days of recall campaigns that have dominated political news coverage in Colorado for most of 2019 has been so stunning that the magnitude of the defeat for Republicans risks not being fully digested by the relentless news cycle. There’s an understandable desire in the wake of this defeat to lay blame on the recall organizers, from the freaks and ghouls of the Polis recall to Nancy Pallozzi, the silly-season caricature who ran the recall campaign against Sen. Pettersen in SD-22 after losing to Pettersen by 20 points in her House race three years ago. In retrospect, yes, these were fringe types who did not deserve the attention they were paid–but the responsibility for what they did goes right back to GOP chairman Ken Buck, House Minority Leader Patrick Neville, and every other high-placed Republican who led the party to this state of ruin instead of preparing for the next general election in 2020.

The red-on-red recriminations are already starting. Buck’s absentee leadership of the Colorado Republican Party while radical subordinates like Kristi Burton Brown run amok, the chokehold of the Neville clan and Rocky Mountain Gun Owners (RMGO) on the GOP House caucus as well as county sheriffs and party organizations across the state, occurring against the backdrop of the Republican Party’s massive losses in Colorado in the 2018 elections–all of this is now a burning issue for every Colorado Republican who wants to avoid another wholesale disaster in November of 2020.

House Minority Leader Patrick Neville (R-Castle Rock).

Over the years as Republicans have faced ever-greater defeats in Colorado both in accordance with and opposed to national trends, voices within the party have made half-hearted and in many cases disingenuous calls for a fundamental shift in direction. After sweeping losses in 2012, Republican strategists Josh Penry and Rob Witwer said flatly that Republicans “must improve or die”–and then Penry in particular got rich as a grifting “consultant” for losing Republican campaigns. In 2016, two-time gubernatorial loser Bob Beauprez, himself no stranger to fringy self-destructive politics, tried unsuccessfully to purge the GOP’s slate of legislative candidates, incumbents and fresh faces alike, whom he believed were doing more harm than good for the party in the long term.

Today, Colorado Republicans find themselves at another such crossroads. Almost a year has been wasted in foolish pursuit of revenge for the losses of 2018 instead of getting ready to minimize what’s shaping up to be yet another Democratic wave in 2020. The state party is in the hands of unserious radicals who do not possess elementary political sense based on their own actions, and still tightly bound to RMGO and the Nevilles even as it costs them their last vestiges of relevance.

In 2010, Dan Maes led the Colorado GOP to an 11% finish in the governor’s race.

The hole they’re in today is every bit as deep, with no one but themselves to blame.

Get More Smarter on Wednesday (September 11)

It’s been 18 years since the September 11 attacks; the Denver Post remembers Coloradans who perished that day. Let’s Get More Smarter. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of an audio/visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show or The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us Facebook and Twitter.


Congressional Republicans avoided a disastrous outcome in a special election in North Carolina on Tuesday. But as Chris Cillizza writes for CNN, all is not well:

Republican Dan Bishop beat Democrat Dan McCready in a special election in North Carolina’s 9th District, an outcome that, given the clear Republican lean of the suburban Charlotte district, should have been a lay-up for the GOP. Bishop won by 2 points after both national parties spent more than $10 million in the district.

That Bishop won — whether by two votes, 2 points or 20 points — averts what would have been an absolute panic within the GOP conference had he come up short. Politics is, at its essence, about winning and losing — and when you have a party coming off as sweeping a defeat as House Republicans suffered in 2018, it’s always a good thing to wind up on the victorious side of the ledger.

But it is also true that Bishop’s victory — and the way in which it was achieved — should still be read as a warning sign for a party that is dealing with a very unpopular President and a decidedly unsettled political environment.

President Trump carried NC-9 by 12 points in 2016. Bishop’s 2-point victory on Tuesday means that the national environment is still terrible for Republicans. That’s significant news in Colorado for Rep. Jason Crow (D-Aurora), who will be defending his seat for the first time in 2020.


 Democratic Senate candidate John Walsh is exiting the 2020 race and endorsing former Gov. John Hickenlooper for his party’s nomination:


 Colorado Republicans are now 0-4 in their efforts to recall various elected officials in Colorado. On Tuesday recall groups announced that they were ending efforts to gather petition signatures for the removal of State Sens. Pete Lee (D-Colorado Springs) and Brittany Pettersen (D-Lakewood). In a nutty statement, the group “Recall Et. All” said that they “are confident in the success of our future efforts to recall both of these elected officials” and then accused mysterious “leftists” of targeting 60-80 year old female petition gatherers for abuse of some sort.


 Senator Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) is quite clearly very nervous about the lack of enthusiasm over his pet project to move the headquarters of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to Colorado. Gardner delivered a stupifying speech on the Senate floor on Tuesday that relied on absurd rhetoric to make his point:

The only reason to oppose this move is if you don’t care about the people of the western United States, or you don’t think somehow the people of the western United States are smart enough to figure out how to run public lands, or to manage public lands. Or maybe you don’t think that Colorado is up to the task of being the headquarters of the BLM, because apparently you don’t trust the people in the West.

This is, in a word, childish.

Members of the House Resources Committee grilled BLM leaders on Tuesday about the proposed HQ move to Grand Junction.


Get even more smarter after the jump…


John Walsh Exits Senate Race, Backs Hickenlooper

UPDATE: The Denver Post’s Justin Wingerter:

In a morning email and video message to supporters, Walsh said he has suspended his Democratic campaign and backs the former governor, who is a friend of his. He’s the second candidate to leave the race due to Hickenlooper’s entry; Mike Johnston did so last week.

“After talking with my family, my friends and with Governor Hickenlooper, I have concluded that Governor Hickenlooper offers our clear and best opportunity to defeat Cory Gardner,” Walsh said in the email to supporters, referring to the Republican senator he had hoped to take on in 2020. “His long record of fighting for Coloradans is unmatched and leaves no doubt in my mind that he will win this campaign, and that he will make an outstanding senator.”

Walsh raised $777,000 in the first three months of his candidacy, placing him near the top of the fundraising race. He gained early support from Obama-era Justice Department officials, such as former Attorney General Eric Holder and former Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates.

Former U.S. Attorney John Walsh’s exit statement is all about the long-term objective of taking down Sen. Cory Gardner in 2020, and his assessment that former Gov. John Hickenlooper is the best-qualified candidate to ensure that outcome. We’ve always considered Walsh to be a professional first and a politician second, and that’s what this decision reflects–a professional focus on the big picture.


As Ernest Luning of the publication formerly know as the Colorado Statesman reports:

BREAKING: Recall Attempts Against Sens. Lee, Pettersen Fail

WEDNESDAY UPDATE: 9NEWS’ Kyle Clark plants a suitable headstone on the day’s news. Republicans lose, but the grift wins big!


UPDATE #4: Denver7’s Blair Miller:

This is the fourth recall petition against Democratic lawmakers this year that has failed.

Last Friday, organizers of an effort to recall Gov. Jared Polis announced they had failed to gather enough signatures for a recall. They claimed to have gathered around 300,000 of the necessary 631,266 but provided no proof…

“It’s hardly a surprise that these bogus recalls failed to find support beyond the grifters, extremists and sore losers who hatched the ploys in the first place,” said the group’s spokesman, Curtis Hubbard. “These scams were designed to raise money and collect data on voters in competitive districts, and all Coloradans — regardless of political affiliation — should be disgusted by the abuse of the recall process.”


Sens. Brittany Pettersen, Pete Lee (D).

UPDATE #3: Here’s the statement from “Recall Et All,” blaming the failure of the Lee and Pettersen recalls on big bad nasty union thugs, et al. — who target 60-80 year old women, no less — while promising like good Scooby Doo villains to be back next time for total victory!

Recall Et All is suspending the recall campaigns for Senators Pete Lee (SD11) and Brittany Pettersen (SD22). We are confident in the success of our future efforts to recall both of these elected officials. In the meantime, we will continue to educate the public regarding the party-line politics being played in both districts that completely undermine the will of the people.

We want to thank each and every volunteer who fought through extreme heat, countless sunburns, and the harassment of dissenters which was not limited to vile name calling and crude gestures. Our dedicated volunteers also went up against the onslaught of paid protesters whose only purpose was to harass and intimidate. We learned that the leftists will stop at nothing to impede our signature-gathering efforts, as they focused on 60-80 year-old volunteers, mostly women.

We are so proud of our volunteers for standing up for freedom. They did not back down from these juvenile, dirty tactics! This opposition only showed the citizens of Colorado their true colors, making the decision to sign that much easier.

To our law enforcement officers and security guards, thank you for checking on us, treating us with dignity and respect, and recognizing our First Amendment rights.

Lastly, our sincere gratitude to the businesses in and around Senate Districts 11 and 22, both large and small, that protected our volunteers’ signature-gathering activities and their right to petition in parking lots, store fronts, etc. Protecting our freedoms is what this whole movement is about, and we will continue to fight that battle for the people of Colorado. The fight isn’t over, it’s just begun.

We’re so confident in future recall efforts that we’re just going to stop altogether! That makes lotsa sense.


UPDATE #2: Colorado Democratic Party chair Morgan Carroll:

Considering that both Senators Lee and Pettersen won their 2018 elections overwhelmingly by double digits, it is hardly surprising the sore losers running these sham recalls are throwing in the towel. As has been the case with the previous failed recalls, this was never about their votes. These were far-right activists who are upset they lost so badly in 2018 and were desperate for a redo through these ridiculous recalls. The people of SD11 and SD22 saw through this sham, which is exactly why they rejected this cynical effort to overthrow their 2018 votes.


UPDATE: Colorado Times Recorder:

An attempted recall of state Sen. Pete Lee (D-Colorado Springs) fizzled today, as proponents will not meet the deadline to submit over 11,000 signatures.

Resist Polis PAC board member Kristina Finley confirmed that signatures will not be submitted by 5:00 PM today…

Recall Et Al, the issue group behind the recall, still has a donor pages for Sens. Brittany Pettersen (D-Lakewood) and Kerry Donovan (D-Vail). However, the local leader of the nascent movement to recall Donovan recently posted on Facebook that “it seems the effort is dying as more people are refusing to help or won’t volunteer.”


That’s the late-breaking word this afternoon from the Colorado Secretary of State–after a 60-day period to collect 11,304 signatures in the case of Sen. Pete Lee and the recall petition against Sen. Brittany Pettersen nearing its deadline next week, both campaigns are announcing failure–via Colorado Public Radio’s Bente Birkeland:

They’re “confident in the success of their future efforts?” We’ve seen this one before:

And with that, another singularly stupid chapter in Colorado politics comes to an ignominious end–four recalls in succession now crashed and burned. We’ll update shortly with statements and coverage.

Cory Gardner is Very Sad That You Don’t Love BLM Move

Indignation or flatulation?

Colorado Republican Sen. Cory Gardner is outraged. Outraged! So much outrage!

Gardner is perplexed that he is not being welcomed like a conquering hero for using his political capital to move the headquarters of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to Grand Junction. He is furious that Congress would dare — DARE! — to question this brilliant idea of his. As Justin Wingerter reports for the Denver Post:

The acting director of the Bureau of Land Management on Tuesday defended his agency’s decision to move its headquarters to Grand Junction in the face of criticisms that it will cause career employees to depart, will needlessly cost federal coffers and will harm tribal interests.

Gardner apparently thought moving the BLM would be a slam dunk of a political proposal that could propel him to re-election victory in 2020, but as it turns out, people aren’t actually thrilled about the idea. Bringing 27 whole jobs to Grand Junction clearly hasn’t obscured the fact that moving a big federal agency is really about trying to destroy that federal agency altogether.

Today, Gardner took to the floor of the U.S. Senate to voice his manufactured outrage about opposition to the BLM’s move, which he says has been “a priority I’ve been working on for a number of years.” A transparently defensive Gardner delivered a long, rambling speech full of odd factoids and indignation that plainly betrayed any facade of confidence in the decision. You can read the full transcript of Gardner’s remarks after the jump, but we’ll break out some of the more inexplicable segments for you below.

Look at how much red is on this map. Look at it!

After a bunch of platitudes about the beauty of the West, Gardner gets to what has been his primary argument in support of moving the BLM offices: That public lands management will work better if the managers are closer to the public lands. Jabbing his finger at a red-colored map of the United States, Gardner said this:

So in the case of Grand Junction, Colorado, the Bureau of Land Management, almost 73 percent of Mesa County, which Grand Junction resides, is public land. Why not make the decisions facing these millions of acres of public lands in the West, where the lands reside instead of thousands of miles removed in Washington D.C.?

This is, of course, a stupid argument. If moving the BLM to a place close to public land was really the primary motivation here, then why not stick the new HQ in the middle of Nevada where it could be 100% surrounded by public lands? Why settle for just 73 percent?

Next, Gardner tries (sort of) to target his critics:

Unfortunately, we’re starting to hear some partisan debate though creep into this incredibly important move. Because what we’re seeing in Washington of course, are Washington Democrats trying to stop the process.

In the news we’ve read about Washington bureaucrats who are opposed to the move, but it’s important to realize that this decision is not about the bureaucrats, it is about the job that we are doing to represent our public lands. This is an agency that doesn’t just work for each other. It’s an agency that works for the people of this country to do the best job they can representing and managing our public lands, the public lands that they are charged to manage and to protect.

Those “Washington bureaucrats” that Gardner denigrates are not exactly divided on moving the BLM headquarters. As E&E News reported from a closed-door meeting last week, “Not one of the more than 200 employees present expressed support for the move.”

But nevermind that, because we’re going to save literally thousands of dollars by moving the BLM…because, uh, well. Says Gardner:

It will also save states in Western communities thousands of dollars in travel expenses. Imagine, if you live in western Colorado, you no longer have to fly thousands of miles to Washington D.C. You don’t have to buy an expensive roundtrip airplane ticket, spend a night in an expensive hotel, buy an expensive meal at an expensive restaurant. You get to travel, drive, or fly a very short trip to western Colorado with great air service and great interstate access. You don’t have to pay for a Washington hotel or a Washington meal. These are things that you can do when the BLM is actually located where 99 percent of the land they represent resides.

Apparently, once the BLM moves its headquarters to Grand Junction, nobody will ever again have to travel to Washington D.C. Anyone who still needs to travel to Grand Junction will be able to use a teleportation machine.

You know, it’s a little bit absurd. It talks a little bit about the lack of hubris that government has, to think that only Washington knows best and only Washington can lead. To think you can’t manage these lands from where they’re at.

Who is saying this? Who is saying that the BLM can’t manage public lands from Colorado? Name just one of these people.

Let’s move along to the math section of Gardner’s speech:

Leasing costs are also worth raising when we talk about the BLM headquarters. The BLM compared leasing space for 27 staffers in Washington versus the leasing space available in Grand Junction, Colorado. The difference is $50 per square foot in Washington versus just over $32 per square foot in Grand Junction. If you think about what that means, that’s a significant savings.

What? How is that a significant savings? How many square feet of office space do you need for 27 people?

You think about what it means for travel, and the cost to taxpayers of travel expenses for BLM employees. According to the Department, in fiscal year 2018 BLM employee travel from Washington to the West was more than $3.2 million. There’s no question that these resources could have been better spent on state offices and field offices that have been starving for resources for years.

Again, Gardner touts the absurd idea that moving the BLM offices will eliminate the need for people to travel anymore. A middle school debater wouldn’t rely on this argument.

As Gardner starts to wrap things up, he turns up the indignity meter to full ludicrousness:

The only reason to oppose this move is if you don’t care about the people of the western United States, or you don’t think somehow the people of the western United States are smart enough to figure out how to run public lands, or to manage public lands. Or maybe you don’t think that Colorado is up to the task of being the headquarters of the BLM, because apparently you don’t trust the people in the West. [Pols emphasis]

If you don’t like my idea to move the BLM headquarters, then you hate Colorado and the entire American West! This is a real argument proposed by a real person.

In conclusion, Sen. Gardner trots out his straw men for one last admonishment:

It’s offensive. It really is, to think that there are people in Washington who think that only Washington can do this job. It’s wrong, and we should stand up against that kind of idea that only Washington can do something and fight back against that mentality…

…Only in Washington do they think it’s only Washington that can do the job. Washington bureaucrats and Washington Democrats can oppose Colorado all they want, but I believe in Colorado. I believe in our ability to manage these public lands better than they’ve ever been managed before.

To the imaginary people who say, “only Washington can do this job,” Cory Gardner says that Colorado can manage the crap out of public lands!

This is all incredibly silly from Gardner, but it is instructive to note how worried he is that his one big Senate thing isn’t going over as well as he imagined. It would be hard to telegraph those concerns any more obviously.