Friday Open Thread

“It’s fine to celebrate success but it is more important to heed the lessons of failure.”

–Bill Gates

Why Keep Tina Peters? Big Pillow Cash Money, That’s Why

Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters, “MyPillow Guy” Mike Lindell.

The pivotal moment in last weekend’s election of far-right Rep. Dave “Let’s Go Brandon” Williams to be the next chairman of the Colorado Republican Party came when one of Williams’ rivals for the job, indicted former Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters, spoke out of order following the second round of balloting to announce her supporters would switch to Williams. Peters may be facing trial on felony charges related to the theft of election system data in her failed quest to prove Donald Trump should still be President, but she has enough support from the substantial percentage of Colorado Republicans who believe without factual basis that the 2020 election was stolen from Trump to have played this key role in putting Williams over the top.

The smart thing for Dave Williams to have done at that point would have been to thank Peters for her help getting him elected, and then quietly excommunicate Peters and her election conspiracy theorist cabal of crazies before her criminal trial does even more collateral damage to the party. But as readers already know, that didn’t happen–in fact, Williams has reportedly offered Peters a job of some as-yet-undetermined title and responsibilities. Being a fervent election denier himself, Williams is actively opposed to recognizing the liability Peters represents. What’s the end game here from Williams’ point of view? What’s going to happen in the likely event Peters is sent to prison for her crimes while employed by the Colorado Republican Party?

Williams either doesn’t know or doesn’t care.

Rep. Lauren Boebert with reality-based friends MyPillow Guy, Rudy Giuliani, and censured couptastic attorney Jenna Ellis (right).

On Monday in a friendly interview with failed candidate turned talk-radio host George Brauchler, Williams made crystal-clear the reason why he’s elevating Peters instead of running away from her baggage:

GEORGE BRAUCHLER: Let me ask this, too. Is there a formal role for Tina Peters in the party under your leadership, or is she just going to work from the outside?

DAVE WILLIAMS: I’ve extended a formal role for everyone to include Tina. So that’s Erik. That’s Aaron. That’s Casper. Forgive me.

BRAUCHLER: Lundberg? Kevin Lundberg?

WILLIAMS: Yep. And to Tina. I mean, this is something that we all promised on the campaign trail and, um, you know, especially for, for anyone that wants to help me succeed, I’m going to certainly do it. With respect to Tina, you know, she’s she has a network of nationally, uh, well-funded friends that can bring money in for a party. I’m not going to turn that away. [Pols emphasis]

Williams isn’t completely wrong about this. Since becoming a minor celebrity in the MAGA election conspiracy theory world, Peters has proven capable of raising enormous amounts of money to pay for her legal defense, as well as frivolous expenses like a recount of the Republican Secretary of State primary Peters lost by a wide margin. One of Peters’ most faithful financial supporters is the thoroughly discredited but equally unrestainable crackpot Mike “MyPillow Guy” Lindell, who helped hide Peters out of state for weeks during the early period of the investigation into her alleged theft of election data.

And that’s when it all clicks: the Colorado GOP is about to become a MyPillow subsidiary! Perhaps they’ll get their own discount code. It’s possible that Lindell and the Steve Bannon netherworld funding sources that have kept Tina Peters afloat through her long legal odyssey will be able to partly offset the financial support widely assumed to be fleeing the state party as local conservative luminaries announce they don’t want to be Republicans anymore. And of course, they’ll save a little on air travel.

It comes the price of the party’s soul, and the prospect of never winning an election in Colorado again.

They Will Eat Dave Williams Too: A List of the Last 6 Poor Souls To Lead the State GOP

(Meat’s back on the menu, boys — Promoted by Colorado Pols)

When he decided not to seek another term as leader of the Colorado Republican Party, Dick Wadhams wrote in a 2011 good-riddance letter to fellow Republicans that he was tired of GOP activists who see “conspiracies around every corner.” (Emphasis: That was 2011.)

Poor Wadhams’ head is obviously spinning around his neck these days, as he furiously re-writes the same stuff — except in a fully blue state now, a dozen years later. You wouldn’t think Wadhams would have such stamina.


Over the weekend, election conspiracist and Trump booster extraordinaire Dave Williams won the election to lead Colorado’s Republican Party.

There’s no dispute that Williams is the type of Republican Wadhams loves to hate, now and 12 years ago.

Williams represents a faction of the party that’s turned not only against Wadhams, but against each of the last five leaders of the Republican Party in Colorado. All five have been run out after one, most after one term in office, four of them by angry right-wing grassroots forces within the party.

Will this happen to Williams as well, the most extreme right-wing conspiracist to lead Colorado’s Republican Party in memory?

If you look at the list below, and you examine the evidence objectively, you conclude that yes, the Republican right will turn against him too. It’s their culture.

Kristi Burton Brown. Burton Brown, elected to lead the state party in 2021, is clearly an extremist. She first made a name for herself trying to pass personhood abortion bans in Colorado and she managed Boebert’s campaign for a stint. She announced she would not seek re-election as GOP leader after she found herself in the crosshairs of fellow Republicans who said she wasn’t conservative enough. Late last year, about 100 Republicans — including indicted Mesa County’s Clerk Tina Peters — gathered in front of party headquarters and called for her ouster, due in part to her “treachery.” One rally speaker, Anil Mathai, said, “We have a Republican Party that is full of whores!”

Ken Buck. As a Freedom Caucus member from Colorado’s 4th Congressional District, Buck hasn’t been known as a squish among Colorado Republicans. But in 2019 when he took on double duty as the state chair of the party, his fate was sealed by two factors. As state GOP candidates continued to slide into electoral oblivion, the buck had to stop somewhere and it stopped with the head of the party. Also, Buck was centered in an intra-party spat concerning a primary election ballot dispute between candidates in an El Paso County district. Along with the state central committee, Buck intervened to force a local party officer to place a veteran party activist on the primary ballot despite that candidate’s failure to meet the required threshold. That episode ended with state courts ruling against Buck and the party in that dispute, staining Buck’s tenure as chair.

Jeff Hays. Hays won in 2017 with the backing of Wayne Williams, with his opponent supported by Anil Mathai (who called Republicans whores this year) and El Paso Republican Vicki Tonkins. The grassroots faction subsequently picked up steam and drove Hays from power after one short term.

Steve House. House resigned from his post after he was nearly deposed by fellow Republicans Cynthia Coffman, Becky Mizel, and Tom Tancredo in 2015, in part, it appeared, for not selecting raducak Republican Ted Harvey to serve as executive director. That controversy included accusations of blackmail and allegations of an affair contributing to the drama.

Ryan Call. Call was voted out of office in a GOP uprising after a tumultuous tenure, during which he was on the hot seat for creating a PAC that his GOP critics saw as a vehicle to attack fellow Republicans. He was also vilified by Republican activists for opposing the recall of a Democratic state senator in Westminister.

Dick Wadhams. Wadhams’ 2011 good-bye letter to Republicans sounded as if it could have been written today. He wrote that he was tired of GOP activists who see “conspiracies around every corner.” Wadhams possibly holds the distinction of being among the first Republicans to call fellow Republicans conspiracists.

Michael Lund is a co-author of this post.

Here’s What Happened in the 2023 Denver Mayoral Race

The Denver Mayoral race is kinda like this.

Who do you think will make it through to the runoff election in the race for Denver Mayor?

That’s the hot question right now in Colorado politics, for a couple of reasons: 

For one thing, the Denver Mayor’s office is only open (without an incumbent seeking re-election) about once a decade; the ultimate winner of this race will likely be calling the shots in Denver for the next eight years — and perhaps even 12 years, should they seek a third term. 

The second reason that this race is such a hot topic is that nobody really knows anything. The limited polling that has been available in this race is virtually worthless because none of the candidates boast much in the way of name recognition. The ridiculous number of candidates also makes it hard to discern useful information from candidate forums or other similar events; at most events, you’ve got at least a dozen candidates all talking about the same basic issues (homelessness, crime, and affordability), which makes it difficult to remember the policy nuances of the candidates. 

And, finally, this is the first time that Denver has run a municipal election with a public financing system in place. It’s difficult to compare this race with past battles for Denver Mayor because this one is just so different. 

Nevertheless, we’re going to do our best to help you make sense of this bloated field of candidates. To do that, we looked into the future to see just what in the hell happened on April 4 (ballots were mailed out to Denver voters this week, but Election Day isn’t until April 4).

These two questions will be heavily-discussed in early April as two candidates prepare for the June 6 runoff election:

  1. Why Candidate X made it to the runoff election;
  2. Why Candidate X came up short.

To make this easier to digest, we’re also going to break it into tiers. There are 17 candidates — and another 5 “write-in” hopefuls — running for the first open Mayoral seat in Denver since 2011. While there are certainly more questions than answers at this point, some candidates face longer odds than others because of experience, name ID, fundraising, etc. We’re not going to analyze every candidate, because there’s no sensible way to predict what might happen with the bottom half of this field; if Renate A. Behrens gets into the runoff, for example, then things really went off the rails. 



Mike Johnston

♦ Kelly Brough

♦ Leslie Herod

♦ Debbie Ortega

♦ Chris Hansen

These are the candidates who possess similar advantages over the rest of the field: They have more experience in the public eye and an easier road to raising their name ID; prominent endorsements; strong fundraising; and a more robust and strategic paid advertising plan than the other hopefuls. These candidates also have relatively-mainstream policy ideas that would be more attractive to a broader group of voters.

Let’s go through our two-part exercise with each candidate:


Mike Johnston

WHY HE MADE THE RUNOFF: Johnston picked up the endorsement of The Denver Post editorial board, which proved to be more important than in prior elections because of the wide-open nature of this race. Voters were looking for ANY sort of third-party validation to help them make decisions, and the Post endorsement served that purpose well.

Johnston also had the resources to dominate the airwaves and digital advertising, both through his own fundraising and from an Independent Expenditure Committee (IEC) supporting his candidacy.

And his first television ad was really, really good:

Being memorable is critical in a crowded field of candidates. This was the sort of ad that made voters say, “I kinda like this guy.” When other candidates started attacking Johnston in a mid-March debate, it was a clear sign that he was being considered a frontrunner.


WHY HE CAME UP SHORT: Informed voters, particularly Democrats, remembered that Johnston ran unsuccessfully for Governor (2018) and U.S. Senate (2020). To those voters, Johnston came across as a guy who just wanted to be elected to SOMETHING. 

Johnston also had the same potential (unavoidable) problem as Chris Hansen: They are financially-comfortable middle age white dudes. With the exception of John Hickenlooper, Denver Mayors in the last three decades have been Black or Latino. Denver has also never elected a female Mayor. More progressive voters ultimately had a tough time convincing themselves to vote for a white dude in 2023.


Leslie Herod

WHY SHE MADE THE RUNOFF: Herod is a tireless self-promoter who has been planning for this race for a long time. She entered the race with the gravitas of a potential front runner and largely maintained that status to the end. Herod’s solid record of accomplishments and progressive bonafides at the state legislature appealed to voters, and being a Black LGBT candidate certainly helped her stand out from the crowd. 


WHY SHE CAME UP SHORT: Herod is a tireless self-promoter who has been planning for this race for a long time. Yes, you read that same sentence earlier, but it cuts both ways. In this case, voters grew tired of Herod’s “look at me” persona; her thirst for attention intensified in March with a strange appearance at SXSW in Austin, Texas that resulted in this awkward photo with Nick Jonas.


No other candidate in this field was damaged more than Herod in the last month or two. Accusations of a hostile work environment portrayed Herod as a ruthless and unkind leader, which gave voters more than enough reason to look elsewhere when they had plenty of other options; Herod also misplayed the response to these accusations, which had the effect of giving more credence to the “bad boss” claims.

Herod also made voters nervous by changing her position on important issues out of an obvious concern that those positions wouldn’t be popular in a municipal election. Her sudden reversal on a much-discussed fentanyl bill — which was only in the early stages of being implemented after passing the legislature in 2022 — provided a jarring contrast with other candidates (see below).

And finally, Herod’s decision to NOT release her tax returns — even though she is theoretically only working as a state lawmaker — raised a lot of eyebrows. Herod was the only top tier candidate who didn’t open up her tax returns for The Denver Post.

In short, voters saw Herod as a candidate who is thirsty for the minor fame of being Denver Mayor and willing to do or say just about anything in order to get there. 



Kelly Brough

WHY SHE MADE THE RUNOFF: Brough had the resources to compete with anyone and benefitted from an early consensus of Denver influentials that she was next in line; her paid advertising campaign appeared to be the most robust of any of the other candidates. She also presented a relevant background in those ads that included serving as Chief of Staff under Mayor Hickenlooper and later working for more than a decade as the CEO of the Denver Chamber of Commerce. Brough came across as a serious, no-nonsense candidate with the experience to hit the ground running.


WHY SHE CAME UP SHORT: Brough, in a word, was boring. Her resume would have been a hit if this were a regular job interview – she was better suited for a different election in a different time – but a successful politician needs to also possess a charisma that can attract uninformed voters. Brough instead came off as dour and perhaps a little too serious through a cookie-cutter paid media strategy. Brough’s narrative at times seemed tin-eared and borrowed from 2022 Republican gubernatorial candidate Heidi Ganahl, who packaged personal tragedy and business success and tried to shoehorn it into a rationale for electing her as governor. 

Brough’s biggest anchor, however, proved to be the 12 years she spent directing the Denver Chamber of Commerce. Fair or not, the Chamber of Commerce has a reputation as an organization that works for big corporations at the expense of the little guy. On a national level, the Chamber of Commerce no longer even pretends that it isn’t just a subsidiary of the Republican Party. 

Brough couldn’t find a way through a tough catch-22 in the race for Mayor. She was relatively unknown by voters, which is why her television ads repeated her name every 3 seconds. But the more that progressive-minded Denver voters learned about Brough, the less interested they were in electing her as Mayor. 


Chris Hansen

WHY HE MADE THE RUNOFF: From the very beginning, Hansen leaned in HARD on the idea that Denver was a crime-ridden, drug-infested hellhole that needed his strong leadership to fix. This hardline position got him attention in a crowded field, and there were apparently enough Denver voters who quietly agreed and were willing to give him a shot in a runoff election.


WHY HE CAME UP SHORT: Colorado Republicans tried Hansen’s “Denver in decay” narrative in 2022, and they were absolutely crushed at the ballot box. It’s generally not a good idea in politics to tell voters so bluntly that their home city is a terrible place; you’re basically telling people that their decision to live in Denver is wrong.

Some of Hansen’s other messaging was a bit odd. He kept saying in his commercials that he would “audit Denver’s homelessness programs.” Is this something that probably needs to be done? Yes. Is this a message that appeals to people who don’t spend their days looking at spreadsheets? Nope. 

Hansen also gave off a very strong vibe of a wealthy and well-educated white guy who is smarter than you and not unwilling to remind you of that fact. If more voters believed that Denver is burning to the ground, perhaps this persona would have worked. Instead, Hansen created a fairly unlikable image that didn’t work outside of his “scary Denver” wheelhouse.



Debbie Ortega

WHY SHE MADE THE RUNOFF: Voters have been electing Ortega to municipal office in Denver for more than 30 years. On a ballot full of unfamiliar names, Ortega had a HUGE potential advantage as a result. Ortega was also helped by a strong endorsement list of grassroots organizations and labor unions, as well as familiar names such as Paula Sandoval and Lucia Guzman.

For voters who were still undecided when filling out their ballot, Ortega was a “safe” name to mark.


WHY SHE CAME UP SHORT: Ortega is not particularly memorable in person, in interviews, or on a debate stage. Some politicians have that undefinable “it” factor that can overcome other potential weaknesses; Ortega is not one of those politicians. In the end, voters didn’t know enough about Ortega beyond just recognizing her name.



Thursday Open Thread

“The motto should not be: Forgive one another; rather understand one another.”

–Emma Goldman

Tina Peters Confirms New CO GOP Chair Offered Her a Party Leadership Role

(Welcome to the previously unthinkable — Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Colorado GOP Chair Dave Williams prior to his win, posing with opponents Kevin Lundberg & Tina Peters after they endorsed him

Despite losing the election to lead the Colorado Republican Party last weekend, former Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters may yet have a role in leading the state GOP. Peters says she’s considering a party leadership position offered to her by newly elected Chair Dave Williams, who won his election with Peters’ help.

Peters first teased her possibly joining Williams in a March 12 tweet, in which she taunted Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold for noting that by electing Williams, the state GOP had just endorsed election denialism.

Peters replied, “This is great. … Wait until she sees who’s Executive Director. That’s REALLY going to blow her mind… wait for it! Taking back Colorado.”

Via text, Peters confirmed that she is thinking about Williams’ offer.

“I’m considering it,” said Peters. “Will evaluate if it’s the right step for me, the state and the people that I love and serve.”

Williams himself publicly addressed Peters’ potential hiring earlier this week during an interview with KNUS radio host Dan Caplis.

CAPLIS: But there’s there’s a lot of chatter on social media that you may be considering appointing Tina Peters as executive director of the GOP. Is there any truth to that?

WILLIAMS: So all the candidates that ran, I’ve already given them the invitation to have some sort of formal role. As it relates to executive director, we’re not even going to have that title anymore. For Tina, she is welcome to join us should she want to and we’ve engaged on what that looks like. But that’s true for Aaron Wood. That’s true for Erik Aadland, that’s true for Casper [Stockham]. And you know, to both Kevins [Lundberg and McCarney] in the race. It’s a matter of trying to get everyone squared away so that we have a good team of rivals, so to speak, where we can be firing on all cylinders and win for the party again.” Colorado GOP Chair Dave Williams on the Dan Caplis Show, March 13, 2023

Peters wasn’t the only opponent to throw her support to Williams. Former state Sen. Kevin Lundberg did the same. Via email, he told the Colorado Times Recorder that his decision to support Williams happened quickly and wasn’t predicated on any sort of quid pro quo.

“My agreeing to support David with Tina happened about 30 seconds before she announced it,” said Lundberg. “I have offered to help David in any way I can, but not in any professional way, just as a volunteer for the party. Erik [Aadland] is a good man, but very little experience and history in working with the GOP. David’s work in the legislature and with the party gives him a big advantage in hitting the ground running.”

Aadland, who was by far Williams’ closest opponent in the race for chair, did not respond to a voicemail requesting comment as to whether he and Williams have discussed his having a leadership role in the party and whether such a position even interests him. This article will be updated with any response received.


Move Over, Tina Peters! Or Just Maybe…

“Tiger King” Joe Exotic, ex-Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters (R).

As Oklahoma News4 reports, one of the Sooner State’s more infamous native sons isn’t letting their legal trouble get in the way of upward political mobility. Sound like someone Colorado knows?

A well-known Oklahoman says he plans to be on the ballot for the 2024 presidential election.

The ‘Tiger King’ is throwing his hat in the ring for president…

Joseph Maldonado-Passage, who is also known as Joe Exotic, says he is not ashamed of anything he has done, and says he believes he can represent all people.

“So put aside that I am gay, that I am in prison for now, that I used drugs in the past, that I had more then one boyfriend at once and that Carole hates my guts. This all has not a thing to do with me being able to be your voice. The best thing you have going for supporting me is that I am used to fighting my whole life just to get by. I am broke, they have taken everything I ever worked for away, and it’s time we take this country back,” he wrote on his campaign page.

He is currently serving a 21-year federal sentence after being convicted on multiple charges.

Whether or not you agree that Carole Baskin killed her husband and fed him to the tigers, you’ve got to admit that “Tiger King” Joe Exotic has more name identification than most American politicians. If you were to do random man-on-the-street interviews just about anywhere in America, more people would name “Tiger King” correctly than Ron DeSantis. We’re not sure about Donald Trump himself, just because Trump’s mug has been so indelibly burned into the minds of the entire globe–but DeSantis, definitely.

Colorado’s own celebrity accused criminal and former Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters, as readers will recall, ran for Secretary of State while a grand jury prepared her indictment on multiple felony charges, and stayed in the race to be the next chairperson of the Colorado Republican Party after her conviction in an obstruction case–considered just the first of many stemming from her half-baked quest to prove Donald Trump should still be President by stealing election data in her care. If Peters follows the trend, as her trial on the principal charges nears, she’ll find an even higher office to run for! After all, indicted candidates for office get perks ordinary accused criminals do not.

You can see where we’re going with this, right? It’s absolutely perfect.

If Exotic/Peters 2024 becomes the plot of the next “Tiger King” installment, we expect a story credit.

Republican Lawmakers Surprised that Actions Have Consequences

Colorado House Republicans are sad.

The GOP’s micro-minority office issued a statement on Tuesday complaining about how they were not included in a discussion about a joint resolution (HJR23-1018) declaring March 14, 2023 as “Equal Pay Day.” The entire statement is worth examining, both for the absurdity of the text itself and for the very obvious point that Republicans seem to have missed completely.

Here is that statement broken up into paragraphs:

The Colorado House Republican Caucus released a joint statement on today’s resolution brought forth by the Democrats regarding women’s equal pay:

We’re not clear on whether this is a joint statement from Republicans in both chambers — which would make sense, given that the topic is about a joint resolution — or just a “joint statement” in that it represents all House Republicans.

We are disappointed that once again we weren’t notified by the majority caucus about this resolution, nor were we included in any discussions leading up to it being presented on the House floor. It is a recurring theme in this chamber that we are not even given the courtesy of being consulted about resolutions involving issues pertaining to women. [Pols emphasis] Unfortunately, time and again the talk about inclusivity seems to actually mean the exclusion of diverse opinions.

Given that “Equal Pay Day” is something that comes up every year at this time, legislative Republicans probably should have expected this discussion — just as they should have expected a Martin Luther King, Jr. resolution that they literally refused to co-sponsor. But that’s a minor point.

Sure, we peed in your pool at your last house party, but we won’t do it again. We swear!

This statement seems to forget that less than two weeks ago, Republicans turned a fairly uncontroversial resolution about the “Equal Rights Amendment” into a ridiculous circus of disgusting diatribes attacking transgender people and abortion rights. Republicans behaved in such an awful manner that Rep. Brianna Titone (D-Arvada) — the first transgender lawmaker in state history — took to the House Floor the following day to politely ask her GOP colleagues to stop being such complete assholes.

Legislative Democrats may have decided that they weren’t interested in doing this AGAIN after what happened on March 2, and who could blame them? 

While we believe that equal pay is an important issue and we will continue to fight for the women in our state; we expect and deserve to be included in these discussions. We refuse to take part in the political games that are being played in this chamber by the majority, and we will not stop fighting for what is right for Colorado’s women. [Pols emphasis]

Um, no, that’s not what’s happening. House Republicans have proven particularly disinterested in participating in any sort of useful discussion during this legislative session. Every single week since early January has been filled with off-topic and offensive ranting from House Republicans. Things have gotten so out of hand that we can’t even say for certain who is actually in charge of the GOP caucus.

Moving forward, we will continue to work towards a fair and reasonable solution to the issue of equal pay. We believe that it is important to have an open and honest dialogue about this issue and to include diverse opinions from both sides of the aisle. [Pols emphasis]

Honest dialogue

If you want to have “an open and honest dialogue” about any issue, then you also need to make some sort of effort yourself. Instead, GOP lawmakers have threatened “civil war” over gun safety legislation and have prided themselves in opposing anything that involves governing. Last week concluded with a pointless “filibluster” by House Republicans on a measure to create a three-day waiting period for gun purchases. After making fools of themselves for 12 hours, the GOP’s 19-member micro-minority gave up and watched the legislation pass easily on second reading in the House. Republicans even had the gall to complain that Democrats weren’t listening to speeches that were specifically intended to waste everyone’s time.

Legislative Republicans have spent more than two months telling us exactly who they are, beginning with the first day of the legislative session on January 9 when freshman Rep. Ken DeGraaf (R-Colorado Springs) demonstrated the lack of self-awareness in his caucus with a quote about how “we” never learn from history.

Here’s what everyone else has learned from recent history: If you ask House Republicans to offer an opinion on an issue, someone will inevitably pull down their pants and take a dump on the floor right in front of you.

Legislative Republicans can spend the majority of their time catering to their extreme MAGA base by debasing both their fellow lawmakers and Coloradans in general…

…Or they can expect Democrats to take them seriously.

But they can’t do both, and they sure as hell can’t complain about a situation they created for themselves. 

Colorado Republicans seem to have truly internalized the belief that they are always the victims in every scenario. Perhaps this is what blinds House Republicans to the consequences of their own actions and creates the idea that a “give and take relationship” means that Democrats give and Republicans take. Democrats have figured this out, and so have Colorado voters in recent election cycles.

We reap what we sow. Even if you are a Republican.

Don’t Pine For Erik Aadland

2022 CD-7 loser Erik “Oddland” Aadland.

As you may have read by now, the Denver Post’s editorial board laid into the Colorado Republican Party this morning for their disastrous selection of former state Rep. Dave “Let’s Go Brandon” Williams to serve as the next party chairman, succeeding Kristi Burton Brown who presided over a 2022 election cycle that will go into the history books as an “extinction-level event.”

We’ll give the Post credit for their unsparing condemnation of Williams, who has a well-earned reputation for Ted Cruz levels of bipartisan disaffection:

We aren’t sure exactly what was going through the heads of the approximately 200 Republican Party leaders who voted for Williams. We thought that conservative El Paso County sent a pretty clear message about Williams’ divisive brand of politics – often divorced from reality – when only 33% of voters in Congressional District 5 supported Williams.

A conservative who can’t win a majority in El Paso County against a flawed incumbent who faced an embarrassing personal scandal involving the misuse of congressional office resources, including allowing his son to sleep in Capitol office space, should be a red flag to those who hope for a Republican Party comeback.

And yet, Williams is now bearing the standard for the Colorado GOP…

There’s little to argue with in the Post’s thorough takedown of Williams’ career going back to anti-LGBT antics on the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs campus. Succeeding the equally offensive Rep. Gordon “Dr. Chaps” Klingenschmitt in deep-red House District 15, Williams built his career on pushing the rhetorical envelope on the full range of far-right causes from election denial to militant anti-vaxxism. With Williams at the helm, the Colorado Republican Party is headed for two more years in open opposition to the sensibilities of a majority of Colorado voters. After the catastrophic 2022 midterms that were supposed to mark the beginning of a comeback, short of perhaps Tina Peters herself, Williams is the worst possible choice to lead the party into 2024.

From there, we are obliged to correct the record on an important point next raised in this editorial:

The second-place choice, Erik Aadland, would have been a much wiser choice.

Aadland is a thoughtful man who served this country in the Marines. Yes, he was caught on camera once fully endorsing the stolen election conspiracy, but Aadland has worked hard to distance himself from that position, including taking a more forceful stance against the election lies when he ran for Congress than GOP candidate for governor, Heidi Ganahl, did in 2020.

This favorable depiction of an election denier who found truth is not our experience with failed 2022 CD-7 candidate Erik “Oddland” Aadland, who–as this attempted whitewash makes clear–tells different audiences different stories about the 2020 presidential election based on what he thinks they want to hear. When directly called out for his very clear previous assertions during a debate last fall against now-Rep. Brittany Pettersen, Aadland made a fool of himself trying to bothsides the issue:


The closest Aadland came in this debate to admitting he was wrong about the 2020 elections is when he said he has “evolved” from the speech he gave at the start of his campaign claiming the election was “absolutely rigged”–“recognizing the divisiveness of that language.” But as we’ve seen in other debates this year, conceding a viewpoint is “divisive” is not the same as admitting it was wrong. Especially not while Aadland insists the real problem is Hillary Clinton.

And sure enough, during his campaign for GOP chair, Aadland coyly hedged his words for the GOP faithful, even while correctly saying that rehashing 2020 is a losing issue:

“Clearly Biden won, by hook or by crook,” [Pols emphasis] says Aadland.

In short, sure–Erik Aadland doesn’t want to talk about 2020 anymore. We get that. But he’s also never going to say the words that would truly put his election conspiracy theorist background behind him, at least not so long as he still entertains the idea of public office as a Republican someday. There are just too many Republicans for whom the Big Lie is gospel truth, and it’s clear that Aadland only “softened” his position for short-term political expediency. As much of a danger as Dave Williams represents to Republicans’ ongoing viability in a state that has been steadily shifting leftward for many years, it’s equally dangerous to let election deniers like Erik Aadland off the hook for views they haven’t actually repudiated.

Dave Williams is a disaster, but there were also no good alternatives. Admitting to the former comes easy, especially considering how many Republicans don’t like Williams. But the latter contains the hardest truth for Colorado Republicans.

Wednesday Open Thread

“Concern should drive us into action and not into a depression. No man is free who cannot control himself.”


State Lawmakers Strike Back For Abortion Rights Tomorrow

Tomorrow morning, two different Colorado Senate committees are set to hear testimony on a total of three pieces of legislation introduced by Democrats to further protect abortion rights in the state, as well as regulate dubious services offered by so-called “crisis pregnancy centers” substituting religious dogma and quack science for medical care. Denver7’s Meghan Lopez reported from the presser last week announcing this bill package:

So far this legislative session, a handful of Republicans have introduced anti-abortion bills, which all failed in committees. Democrats, on the other hand, want to further enshrine abortion and gender-affirming care into state law

During a press conference Thursday, three bills were unveiled. All three will start in the Colorado Senate….

The bills will start in the Senate and are likely to lead to some of the longest and most lively debates this legislative session.

The Denver Post’s Saja Hindi summarizes the three pro-abortion rights bills up tomorrow:

Cobalt, Colorado Organization for Latina Opportunity and Reproductive Rights, Planned Parenthood and New Era Colorado worked with lawmakers to craft three bills. Here’s what each would do if it became law:

  • SB23-188: Prevent the state from recognizing or engaging in any criminal prosecutions or civil lawsuits for anyone who receives, provides or assists in abortions and gender-affirming care. It also prevents state employees from participating in any such interstate investigations.
  • SB23-189: Limit surprise billing and require coverage for reproductive health care and treatments, including abortion, sterilization and sexually-transmitted infections. It also expands access to contraceptives and lets patients use Medicaid transportation for abortion services. And it allows any authorized provider to offer HIV medication, not just pharmacies.
  • SB23-190Prohibit using “deceptive advertising” by crisis pregnancy centers and designate offering so-called abortion reversal medication as “unprofessional conduct.”

The first bill up in the Senate Health and Human Services Committee, Senate Bill 23-188, is a direct challenge to states like Texas which have passed legislation allowing individuals to bring private lawsuits against abortion providers in order to enforce the law. Under this legislation, authorities in Colorado will have not just the right but the obligation to tell Texas abortion litigants to pound sand. Limiting “surprise billing” for reproductive health care, the first up in the Senate Judiciary Committee tomorrow, is a no-brainer just as it is for all other kinds of health care.

Although anti-abortion groups are mobilizing their crowds of faithful to testify against all three of these bills in committee tomorrow, the bill expected to draw the most ire from the religious right for both doctrinal and cold hard cash reasons is Senate Bill 23-190, legislation to crack down on so-called “crisis pregnancy centers”–well-funded religious organizations who lure in the unsuspecting to offer sermonizing and quack science instead of reproductive health care. The Colorado Times Recorder’s Heidi Beedle reported yesterday:

“I am joining Sen. Winter on a bill to crack down on what we know as anti-abortion centers, or crisis pregnancy centers, which use manipulation and deception to influence people seeking reproductive health care,” said Sen. Janice Marchman (D-Loveland) during a Thursday press conference. “Anti-abortion centers represent the on-the-ground presence of the national anti-abortion movement, offering dangerous, sometimes life-threatening medical procedures like so-called ‘abortion pill reversals.’ These centers are found all across our state. They outnumber legitimate abortion-providing clinics 51 to 20. Even worse, they often target marginalized communities, sometimes posting Spanish-language billboards in neighborhoods with large immigrant populations or offering free services to low-income communities. Right now, these ideologically-driven centers are free to present themselves as legitimate family planning, reproductive health care clinics. But the reality is, these are fake clinics that lure in vulnerable people seeking care. They peddle biased and inaccurate information about abortion care and contraceptives. And they take advantage of people during some of their most vulnerable moments.”

This bill operates on the simple argument that “crisis pregnancy centers” are not legitimate reproductive health providers. Being run by religious organizations who refuse to recommend the full range of options available to pregnant patients, these centers leave those who turn to them in crisis at risk of life-altering and even life-threatening outcomes. And as we’ve noted repeatedly in response to perennial Republican bills trying to legitimize the practice, abortion “reversal medication” is an “unproven medical approach” condemned by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

As one of the nation’s strongest remaining havens for reproductive rights in the post-Roe world, Colorado doesn’t need fake reproductive health providers offering pregnant people false choices. What we should be doing instead, as these bills do, is strengthening and easing access to actual reproductive care.

To us it’s as simple as not taking horse paste for COVID.

Banking, Biden, and Boebert Baloney

Lauren Boebert’s daily decision

Congressperson Lauren Boebert (R-ifle) is not a particularly complicated politician. Boebert only has one setting no matter the issue being discussed: Yell at Joe Biden.

It is not uncommon for Boebert to go overboard in her anti-Biden zeal, particularly when the topic being discussed is complicated enough that she might have to stop and do a little reading in order to actually understand the issue. But conducting research or reading memos would take time away from drafting her next Biden rant, so she skips that part and goes straight to the yelling.

It’s fair to say that you could criticize Boebert for many of her comments, whether from social media posts, Congressional committee hearings, or wacky House Floor rants. But sometimes Boebert pushes a narrative that is so completely false that it can be harmful to the country as a whole. This is what Boebert has been doing in response to the failure of two big banks: Silicon Valley Bank (SVB) and Signature Bank of New York (SBNY).


This rhetoric is particularly dangerous because there are plenty of Boebert followers who will believe — to some extent — that the Biden administration is “bailing out” these two failed banks and picking favorites in deciding which banks get government help. But that isn’t what is actually happening. 

We can quickly dispense with Boebert’s favoritism claim; SBNY was a go-to bank for Donald Trump and son-in-law Jared Kushner, and Ivanka Trump sat on SBNY’s board of directors.

Look familiar?

The bigger issue is that the government is not “bailing out” these failed banks. The federal government is instead playing a role it first started in the 1930s to backstop the economy and protect regular depositors. You might be familiar with one of these central concepts: The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), which guarantees the money people deposit in a bank up to a certain amount. The FDIC is supposed to protect depositors from a bank failure — that’s why it exists and why you see those little signs about the FDIC whenever you speak with a bank teller.

As White House economics reporter Jeff Stein explains for The Washington Post:

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation will guarantee all deposits at SVB and Signature — even those above the usual $250,000 limit. SVB held roughly $150 billion in uninsured deposits, and Signature Bank held more than $70 billion in uninsured deposits. Those customers will be able to access all their funds now, even though the banks collapsed. This sends the message that customers have no reason to move their money, because they won’t lose it if their bank goes down.

The government also tried to ensure that most banks don’t get close to failing in the first place. So the Federal Reserve announced a new special lending facility with unusually generous terms: It will loan money to banks that put their assets up as collateral, even if those assets are worth less now than what the bank paid for them. Typically, the central bank only lends against the current value for a bank’s assets, according to Todd Phillips, who served as an attorney at FDIC. The move means banks shouldn’t have trouble getting access to cash if customers start withdrawing funds.

The federal government is not going to bring SVB or SBNY “back to life.” Executives at these banks will not keep their jobs. The money used to reimburse depositors will NOT come from taxpayers, but from the Deposit Insurance Fund that U.S. banks HAVE ALREADY BEEN PAYING INTO. 

Caitlyn Kim and Sarah Mulholland have more for Colorado Public Radio:

President Joe Biden on Monday tried to reassure the public and calm the markets over the state of the banking system.

“Look, the bottom line is this: Americans can rest assured that our banking system is safe. Your deposits are safe,” he said…

…The Colorado Bankers Association is also trying to reassure people that the troubles aren’t likely to spread to regional banks here.

Rep. Brittany Pettersen (D-Jefferson County)

Instead of listening to Boebert, let’s go to someone who actually knows what she is talking about: Rep. Brittany Pettersen (D-Jefferson County), who sits on the House Financial Services Committee:

“Right now, it seems that any immediate threats to our financial system caused by the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank (SVB) and New York Signature Bank have been averted,” she said in a statement. “It’s important for people to understand that the actions of the FDIC, the Federal Reserve, and the Treasury Department will not use any taxpayer dollars, and cannot be considered a ‘bailout.’”

Pettersen said she wants to avoid situations like this in the future and joined a letter to key regulators “urging swift action to prevent broader bank failures.” Pettersen and her staff have been involved in multiple briefings with regulators about SVB since Friday. The Financial Services Committee will also be holding a members-only briefing Monday evening, according to a senior advisor with knowledge.

Boebert also had access to a briefing from the Biden administration and the Treasury department, but she came away with a very different understanding:

Say what?


This doesn’t even make sense. But if it lets Boebert boo Biden, then she’s happy.

Boebert narrowly won re-election in 2022 by a 546-vote margin. She said then that it was time to “take the temperature down” in Washington D.C. and prove that Republicans can lead with “strength” and “grace.” That promise was forgotten by Christmas because Boebert doesn’t know any other way forward. She has no operating principle beyond “Biden and Democrats suck.” This is her shtick, and she leans in HARD at every opportunity.

But at some point — and this is one of those points — politicians need to set the rhetoric aside for the good of the country. Suppose Boebert’s anti-Biden screeching helped stoke a run on banks that set the country on the course toward another financial crisis like we saw in 2008? Don’t laugh — bad information often leads to bad decisions and worse outcomes.

Somebody in the GOP caucus needs to explain to Boebert that partisan hackery can eventually be dangerous for all Americans. Let’s just hope that conversation happens before Boebert breaks something that we can’t glue back together.

It’s Official: The “Kia Challenge” Inflated The GOP “Crimenado”

Look how easy it is to steal this car!

Among the many social ills weaponized by Republicans for electoral gain last year (albeit ineffectively) was an undeniable increase in auto thefts, seized upon by Republicans along with the general uptick in property crimes over the past couple of years as evidence of Democratic mismanagement. The causes of increased criminal activity after decades of decline is a complicated subject best addressed with an exploration of the roots of the problem, but nuance was the last thing Republicans wanted as they demanded a crackdown and rollback of sentencing and police conduct reforms.

And of course, the only real way to solve the problem was to vote Republican last November! But in the end, voters saw through the GOP’s “Crimenado” blame-gaming, and instead punished Republicans at the polls once again. This year, a bipartisan bill to make the theft of low-value cars a felony, like cars worth over $2,500, is moving forward with little resistance–which neutralizes the politics of the issue at least for the present.

But even that is not the whole story: as it turns out, there’s a very much non-political factor helping drive the increase in auto thefts. KDVR FOX 31’s DJ Summers, the station’s “data guru” with relatively unconcealed conservative leanings, reports accurately:

Several Colorado authorities including the Colorado State Patrol, Auto Theft Prevention Authority, Division of Insurance and Division of Motor Vehicles have identified an increase in thefts of certain late-model Kias and Hyundais. These cars are being stolen more than 10 times as often as in 2019 and now make up a large share of the total number of cars stolen in the state. [Pols emphasis]

Former Senate Minority Leader Chris Holbert (R) riding the “Sharknado” of crime.

Last summer, a video posted to the social media site TikTok revealed a defect in a wide range of cars made by Hyundai, which also owns Kia, allowing vehicles that still use a traditional-style key to be easily stolen. Thieves need nothing more than a computer USB cable to turn the ignition and start affected cars.

The result? A massive spike in thefts of Hyundai and Kia models that we now know has significantly contributed to the overall increase in auto theft reported across the country and in Colorado:

These vehicles make up a disproportionate share of Colorado’s stolen vehicles. Of the motor vehicles stolen in 2022, 13% were Kias and 12% were Hyundais.

The share of passenger vehicles that are Kias or Hyundais is even higher. Together, those two makes represented about one-third of all stolen passenger vehicles in 2022. Kias were 15% of all stolen passenger vehicles and Hyundais another 15%.

To put this in perspective, in 2022 Hyundai and Kia had a combined 11% market share in U.S. light vehicle sales, but were responsible for a wildly disproportionate 25% of all motor vehicle thefts and 30% of passenger vehicle thefts. That’s not a political or even a criminal justice problem–it’s a product brand with a flaw being massively exploited.

It’s just another example of Colorado Republicans trying as they regularly do to turn every news headline into a political bludgeon to use against their opponents. But this time, the facts don’t fit the spin: a giant multinational corporation manufactured a defective product that led to a major spike in thefts of that product–enough to significantly skew the nationwide statistics for auto theft in 2022.

And as much as Republicans wanted easily-stolen Hyundais and Kias to be Jared Polis’ fault, it just isn’t.

Rep. Patricia Schroeder, Pioneering Colorado Lawmaker

UPDATE: President Joe Biden released the following statement honoring the life and service of Rep. Patricia Schroeder:

Pat Schroeder was a pioneer.

In her 24 years in Congress, she seized every opportunity to advance equality for women, and the laws she helped pass fundamentally reshaped our country for the better.

The 1978 Pregnancy Discrimination Act, which protected women from being fired for having children.

The Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993, which allowed millions of women and men to care for family members without losing their jobs.

The opening of military jobs – including flying combat missions – to women.

More access to early screening for breast and cervical cancer for lower-income women.

On issue after issue, Pat stood up for basic fairness, sensible policy, and women’s equal humanity. The result was a legislative record that changed millions of women’s lives – and men’s lives – for the better.

I saw firsthand Pat’s moral compass, legal mind, and political savvy when we worked together on the Violence Against Women Act. She was the primary sponsor in the House; I led the charge in the Senate. Together, we got it done. With Pat as my partner, I never doubted that we would.

She inspired a generation of public servants, proved that a young mom could be a formidable Congresswoman, and did it all with legendary wit.

Jill and I send our prayers to Pat’s husband James, her children Jamie and Scott, and the entire Schroeder family.


Rep. Patricia Schroeder (D-Denver).

Colorado Public Radio’s Caitlyn Kim reports sad news from last night:

Coloradans and people elsewhere are remembering former U.S. Rep. Pat Schroeder, a trailblazer who paved the way for women’s rights in national and local politics. She died Monday at 82.

“Representative Schroeder was a one-of-a-kind leader and barrier breaker,” said Gov. Jared Polis in a statement late Monday. “Our daughter’s future and women across our country’s future are better thanks to her service. ” [Pols emphasis]

Schroeder was the first woman to represent Colorado in Congress. She had a stroke recently and died at a hospital in Florida, where she had been living, according to her former press secretary, Andrea Camp.

Schroeder paved the way for women’s and family issues in Congress and helped push for the passage of the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993.

Rep. Pat Schroeder’s successor in Congress Rep. Diana DeGette released the following statement:

Pat Schroeder was a pioneer for women’s rights. She was a trailblazer, a role model, a mentor and a friend. She dedicated her life to serving her community, and to championing the well-being of women and families throughout this country. Pat was elected to Congress when I was in high school and she inspired a generation of young women, like me, to dream high. She became a mentor and dear friend after I succeeded her, and I am eternally thankful, not only for all of the incredible work she did for our state, but for the guidance and friendship she provided along the way. My condolences to Jim, Scott and Jamie during this difficult time. Pat’s brilliance, passion and wit will never be duplicated, but will always be remembered.

Politically Rep. Schroeder was years ahead of her time, an uncompromising progressive decades before the rest of Colorado caught up with Denver and initiated the current era of Democratic dominance in state politics. Rep. Schroeder’s example of cheerfully challenging the “boy’s club” establishment in Washington, D.C. inspired a generation of elected officials in Colorado and elsewhere who came after her.

We’ll update with memorial information when it’s available.