What’s Your Favorite Blue Wave Win?

This week’s historic victory for Colorado Democrats leaves in its wake innumerable stories of hard work and triumph. There are so many big markers for the history books, like the first gay man elected governor of any state, the sweep of downballot statewide offices, recapturing the Colorado Senate after four years at the mercy of a one-seat GOP majority, the come-from-behind wins growing the Democratic House majority to unexpected heights, major Democratic wins in suburban Denver local governments–we could go on and on, and over the next few weeks we’ll be expounding at length on what this all means.

Use this thread to tell us about the 2018 success stories you were close to, or enjoyed reading about, or anything else you found inspiring coming out of the midterm elections in our state. Before the inevitable plunge back into partisan squabbles and pundit second-guessing, take a moment to contemplate significance of what we’ve just been through.

You earned this moment, Colorado.

Weekend Open Thread

“The problems of victory are more agreeable than those of defeat, but they are no less difficult.”

–Winston Churchill

Trump, Gardner’s NRSC Melt Down Over AZ, FL Senate Races

President Trump (left) and Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma).

Huffpost reports on the angry crossfire in Florida as the races for governor and U.S. Senator head toward a recount:

Florida Gov. Rick Scott suggested there was “rampant fraud” and called for law enforcement to investigate two counties over their election practices as the Republican’s lead in the state’s U.S. Senate race continued to shrink Thursday evening…

“Every Floridian should be concerned there may be rampant fraud happening in Palm Beach and Broward counties,” he said in a televised statement outside the governor’s mansion in Tallahassee. The governor offered no specific evidence of fraud, saying only that the counties were the only two in the state where there were irregularities.

FOX News reports that Sen. Cory Gardner’s National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) is joining Rick Scott’s lawsuit alleging fraud in Florida’s election, further clouding the Sunshine State’s political forecast:

In their lawsuit against Broward County, Scott and the National Republican Senatorial Committeee (NRSC) allege that officials there are hiding critical information about the number of votes cast and counted. And in a parallel suit against Palm Beach County, Scott and the NRSC charge that the election supervisor there illegally used her own judgment to determine voter intent when reviewing damaged or incorrectly filled-out absentee ballots, while refusing to allow impartial witnesses to monitor the process.

And in the other remaining U.S. Senate hotspot of 2018, Politico’s Burgess Everett reporting that Gardner’s NRSC is ramping up election fraud allegations in the close Senate race in Arizona, in which Democratic Rep. Kyrsten Sinema is pulling narrowly ahead as the count grinds on:

Earlier today, President Donald Trump actually suggested an electoral do-over in Arizona, which is insane:

Of course, here in Colorado we have mail ballots like Arizona does, and we know that the signature verification process always results in some number of ballots being rejected. In close races, these ballots are sometimes tracked back to their owners and “cured” of such deficiencies, whereupon they can become decisive votes–something we are likely to see in close Colorado House races this year in which ballots are still being counted.

With all of this in mind, Sen. Cory Gardner is once again stuck–between needing to support Republican candidates as the head of the NRSC, and the fact that these flailing charges of vote fraud look ridiculous to Colorado voters Gardner needs to immediately begin patching things up with if he has any desire to be re-elected in two years. The conflict Gardner faces is making itself evident all kinds of ways since the election, not least with the NRSC declaring itself in lockstep with the President right after Colorado dealt Trump’s (and Gardner’s) party an historic shellacking at the polls.

Colorado voters have heard these allegations countless times before. And they have never panned out.

Gardner Won’t Say If He’ll Back Senate Bill To Protect Mueller

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner is apparently undecided about whether he’ll back legislation protecting Special Council Robert Mueller.

Gardner’s fellow Republican Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona has said he’ll push such legislation before he leaves office at the beginning of next year.

Gardner dodged a direct question from Denver TV reporter about whether he’d support the Flake legislation.

And The Denver Post’s Anna Staver reported that he was not certain about it:

When asked what should happen to the investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller into possible coordination between the 2016 Trump campaign and Russia, Gardner said it should “absolutely continue,” adding that “the president has said he wants it to continue.”

But Gardner was less certain about whether he’d support a bill to protect the investigation, which his outgoing colleague, Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Arizona, says he will try to pass before leaving office.

Sen. Michael Bennet, a Colorado Democrat, was clear about his position [in favor of protecting Mueller] on Twitter.

Gardner has repeatedly said he’s undecided before voting on controversial legislation. Most notably, he said he was undecided until the last minute on three variations of bills to kill Obamacare, before voting for each one of them.

A move by Gardner to protect Mueller would be seen as hostile to Trump, who will likely be on the 2020 election ballot with Gardner. With Colorado split among Democrats, Republicans, and unaffiliated voters, Gardner can’t afford to turn off many GOP voters, who largely approve of Trump, and hope to win here.

(more…)

Trump Doesn’t Know the Guy He Already Said He Knows

President Trump tries out his newest version of “I didn’t do it.”

As Politico reports, President Trump’s adventures in organizing the Justice Department took another weird turn today:

President Donald Trump defended acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker as a “highly respected man” on Friday, while also claiming he didn’t know him despite reports Whitaker had regularly visited the Oval Office in recent months.

“I don’t know Whitaker,” the president told reporters, but added that he is “highly thought of” and a “highly respected man.”

The New York Times reported in September that Whitaker, then the chief of staff to Attorney General Jeff Sessions, had “frequently visited the Oval Office” and that Trump had called him to offer “reassurance that he has faith in him.” The Washington Post also cited a senior administration official who said Whitaker met with Trump in the Oval Office more than a dozen times, usually alongside Sessions.

Trump has also previously said that he does actually know Whitaker.

“I can tell you Matt Whitaker’s a great guy,” he said on an interview on “Fox and Friends” on Oct. 11. “I mean, I know Matt Whitaker.” [Pols emphasis]

This all might just be a really clumsy attempt by President Trump to throw Matthew Whitaker under the bus in the midst of heavy criticism over the appointment…but it is a remarkably lazy effort. The odds are pretty good that somebody has at least one photo of Trump and Whitaker together.

Of course, it’s also not out of the realm of possibility that Trump doesn’t remember his interactions with Whitaker, which is also terrifying.

Signs of the Times at Denver’s #ProtectMueller Rally: “Gardner Grow A Spine”

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

With less than 24 hours’ notice, hundreds of Coloradans gathered at the West Steps of the state capitol on Thursday evening to protest President Trump’s appointment of Matthew Whitaker to be acting Attorney General of the United States. Whitaker had been AG Jeff Sessions’ Chief of Staff. He has publicly argued that Special Counsel Mueller’s Russia investigation has gone too far and that President Trump has the authority to end it whenever he wants.

Speakers included Senator Michael Bennet, Congressmen-elect Joe Neguse and Jason Crow, Attorney General-elect Phil Weiser, State Rep. Joe Salazar (D – Thornton), and AME Shorter Church Pastor Dr. Timothy Tyler.

Gardner Sign at Protect Mueller Rally

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Amendment 74: Now Its Backers Should Be Shunned

Amendment 74 supporters’ message to Colorado.

In a week packed with compelling political stories in Colorado, we wanted to circle back with a few parting words about the failed Amendment 74–a constitutional ballot measure that if passed would have radically altered takings laws in Colorado, forcing either the mass curtailment of zoning and other land use regulations or enormous payouts to business interests who felt the “value” of their property was diminished by such laws.

As the Denver Post’s John Aguilar reports, in the wake of Amendment 74’s defeat, the Colorado Farm Bureau–a storied organization founded in 1919 to represents the interests of agriculture and rural communities generally–is taking the public-relations fall:

Amendment 74, the measure that would have allowed property owners to file a takings claim against the government when a government action or regulation reduces their property’s value, was turned down by voters by a 54-percent to 46-percent margin with more than 1.9 million votes counted Wednesday morning…

Chad Vorthmann, executive vice president of Colorado Farm Bureau, conceded defeat and blamed “shadowy groups” out of the nation’s capital for Tuesday’s result.

“Coloradans clearly support private property rights protections, but ultimately Washington D.C. opposition groups were successful in creating enough doubt to prevent the amendment from passing,” he said in statement released late Tuesday night.

This statement from the CFB’s spokesperson, like the whole facade of the Farm Bureau’s public face for Amendment 74, simply has no basis in reality. This is an initiative that was opposed by virtually every local government in Colorado. The opposition to Amendment 74 was spearheaded by Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper and Republican former AG and Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers, and condemned by every editorial board in the state–to include, belatedly, the idiots at the Colorado Springs Gazette. To suggest that the opposition to Amendment 74 was some kind of Washington, D.C.-based undertaking is demonstrably ridiculous.

The hypocrisy of this response to the defeat of Amendment 74 from the Colorado Farm Bureau is especially galling when you consider that, although their organization was the public face of the campaign, Amendment 74 was literally 99% funded by the oil and gas industry. This was a campaign whose true backers cynically hid themselves behind the much more sympathetic visage of farmers. In reality, the wide-ranging disruption that would have resulted from passage of Amendment 74 would have hurt agricultural interests too, along with (and this is not an exaggeration) everyone else in Colorado except the tiny fraction cashing in at taxpayer expense. As the true extent of this deception was unraveled, it became increasingly more difficult for Amendment 74 supporters to justify their position.

Once you understand just how destructive the seemingly simple language of Amendment 74 would have been in our state’s constitution, the next logical question must be about the irresponsibility of its proponents. Spending millions to enact this devastating end run around the most basic land use powers that local governments (and voters) have taken for granted their entire lives is not something that good-faith partners in civil society do. Any next time an oil and gas company goes before any local or state body to ask for permission to set up operations, Amendment 74 should hang over their heads like a cloud. You say you want to do right by the communities you frack?

That’s not what your money said in 2018.

As for the Colorado Farm Bureau? This disgraceful episode is not what that organization was ever founded to do. And before anyone takes them seriously in state or local politics again, heads should roll.

Friday Open Thread

“You cannot change your destination overnight, but you can change your direction overnight.”

–Jim Rohn

Rally Set To Demand Replacement Of Trump Ally Who’s Now In Charge Of Russia Investigation

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

POLS UPDATE: So, this was quite a thing:

—–

A coalition of groups, organized under the name TrumpIsNotAboveTheLaw, will rally at 5 p.m. today on the west steps of the state Capitol to protest Trump’s decision to place an ally of the president in charge of the Justice Department’s investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election.

Speakers will include U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO), U.S. Rep.-elect Jason Crow (D-CO), State Rep. Joe Salazar (D-Thornton), and Colorado Attorney General-elect Phil Weiser, also a Democrat

After Tuesday’s election, Trump fired his attorney general Jeff Sessions, inserting Trump ally Matthew Whitaker as acting attorney general and putting him in charge of the Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into the Russia investigation.

The message of the rally: a demand that Whitaker recuse himself in light of alleged conflicts of interest and previous statements attacking the investigation.

Similar rallies will take place across the country.

Other speakers include: Dr Reverend Timothy Tyler of Shorter Community AME Church, Nathan Woodliff-Stanley of ACLU Colorado, Nancy Leong of Lawyers for Good Government, and , and Caroline Fry of Common Cause.

Leroy Garcia Will Be Senate President

UPDATE: The Denver Post’s Nic Garcia:

“We’re going to face some tough challenges,” Garcia said. “The state faces tough challenges. But I’m absolutely confident with this dynamic caucus, with these leaders, we’ll be able to represent every Coloradan, we’ll be committed to finding common-sense solutions to move our state forward.”

Garcia, who was previously minority leader, will lead the Democratic caucus along with state Sens. Lois Court of Denver and Steve Fenberg of Boulder. Court was elected president pro tempore and Fenberg majority leader. Their roles are subject to a final vote by the entire Senate after the legislature resumes business in January.

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Senate President-designate Leroy Garcia

Denver7’s Blair Miller reports from Colorado Senate leadership elections held today, elevating Leroy Garcia of Pueblo to serve at the new Senate President:

Sen. Leroy Garcia, D-Pueblo, was chosen to be the next Senate President. He is currently the Senate Minority Leader and will take over for Sen. Kevin Grantham, R-Canon City, who is term-limited and whose party is now the minority party in the Senate…

Garcia took over as minority leader earlier this year after Sen. Lucia Guzman stepped down from the position over her frustration with Republicans’ handling of workplace harassment allegations.

Senate Democrats picked up two seats in the election, putting them at a 19-16 majority. Republicans had held the Senate with an 18-17 majority the past two years. Democrats now control both chambers of the General Assembly as well as the governor’s office after Jared Polis’ victory.

On the Republican side, Sen. Chris Holbert will be the new Senate Minority Leader–fully expected, although the move nonetheless comes as a snub to Senate President pro tem Jerry Sonnenberg who fell from grace for daring to support rural hospitals. The new Democratic leadership has an enormous logjam of agenda items to work through in January, not to mention accountability lingering from last year’s sexual harassment scandal left totally unresolved by Republican leadership.

Here’s looking at you, Randy Baumgardner.

Cory Gardner’s NRSC Director: “We’re Running With President Trump No Matter What”

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Sen. Gardner and Trump on Air Force One

U.S. Senator Cory Gardner’s political operation is full steam ahead on the Trump train.

Celebrating the National Republican Senatorial Committee’s success in the mid-term elections, NRSC Executive Director Chris Hansen, who’s served as Gardner’s right-hand man since 2010, told Politico,

“We have always felt like we’re running with President Trump no matter what. We think he’s a huge asset, to be clear. These rallies are not by mistake.”

Coloradans rarely hear such unapologetic devotion to Trump “no matter what” from the Gardner camp. When speaking to local media outlets, the Senator usually tempers his support of the President. Even when he’s praising Trump he makes sure to add a caveat, as he did during an election day radio interview:

“I think there are elements of the radical left who are going to oppose President Trump, no matter how good it is for this country. There are obviously things that we’re going to agree with and disagree with the president on. But the economy is creating jobs… Wages are going up. This is incredible.”

Yet for a national political audience, Gardner’s team is embracing Trump without reservation. The NRSC’s enthusiasm is understandable. As Politico reported, they owe him:

“Trump’s personal investment in the Senate sealed the deal.  He crisscrossed the country, hitting some states multiple times — all the while delivering sound bites that Republican hopefuls used to promote themselves and bash their opponents.”

(more…)

Dem Women Pull Ahead In Three Close House Races

Bri Buentello (D).

As the final ballots are counted up, three close Colorado House races are trending toward Democratic control–starting with the Pueblo Chieftain’s report on the red-hot HD-47 race between Democrat Bri Buentello and Republican “Deadbeat” Don Bendell:

Democrat Brianna Buentello apparently has won a narrow 54-vote edge over Republican Don Bendell in the race for the House District 47 seat but the race is headed for an automatic recount, according to Pueblo County Clerk Gilbert “Bo” Ortiz.

Buentello received 15,275 total votes in the contest to Bendell’s 15,221, according to the unofficial final results posted by Ortiz’s office Wednesday night…

Bendell had a 259-vote lead after the initial votes were tallied Tuesday night but Pueblo County had more than 13,000 uncounted ballots remaining. Ortiz’s staff finished counting those late Wednesday.

Rochelle Galindo (D).

And the Greeley Tribune reports from HD-50:

With more than 2,000 votes left to be counted, there’s nothing decided when it comes to Greeley’s House District 50 race.

Democratic candidate Rochelle Galindo leads Republican Michael Thuener 50.21 percent to 49.79 percent, taking the lead after more results were uploaded at 7 p.m. Wednesday after trailing Thuener throughout Election Day.

The candidates have just 70 votes separating them, with at least two more results uploads planned and 2,381 votes left to count, according to a news release from Weld County Clerk and Recorder Carly Koppes.

Brianna Titone (D).

And finally, the Denver Post reports from Arvada’s HD-27:

In Arvada-centered House 27, Brianna Titone took the lead over Republican Vicki Pyne late on Wednesday in a district that has run deep red. Titone would be the state’s first openly transgender legislator.

“I had conversations with a lot of challenging voters that were often disenfranchised and angry about politics in general,” Titone said, adding that she felt confident about the results. “I told them that what I want to do is I want to bring the people back into government. I don’t want them to be voiceless.”

 

Assuming all three of these races hold their margins through recounts, we’re looking at a 41-seat Democratic majority in the Colorado House. That’s the biggest majority Democrats have enjoyed in the House at any point since that party took the legislature back in 2004, and a sign of just how big the blue wave in Colorado was this year.

In the particular case of Brianna Titone, on course to win the HD-27 seat, it’s worth noting that this is the seat formerly held by Libby Szabo, whose anti-LGBT votes and crass remarks while serving in the House made embarrassing national news. Along with the election of the first LGBT governor of the state in Jared Polis, electing Titone to HD-27 is a major development–reflecting the sea change in Colorado politics since the bad old days of Amendment 2.

For Colorado Democrats, the 2018 wave just keeps rolling.

The White House is Now Pushing Doctored Videos


This is scary stuff, as the Washington Post reports:

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders on Wednesday night shared a video of CNN reporter Jim Acosta that appeared to have been altered to make his actions at a news conference look more aggressive toward a White House intern.

The edited video looks authentic: Acosta appeared to swiftly chop down on the arm of an aide as he held onto a microphone while questioning President Trump. But in the original video, Acosta’s arm appears to move only as a response to a tussle for the microphone. His statement, “Pardon me, ma’am,” is not included in the video Sanders shared.

Critics said that video — which sped up the movement of Acosta’s arms in a way that dramatically changed the journalist’s response — was deceptively edited to score political points. That edited video was first shared by Paul Joseph Watson, known for his conspiracy-theory videos on the far-right website Infowars…

Side-by-side comparisons support claims from fact-checkers and experts such as Jonathan Albright, research director of the Tow Center for Digital Journalism at Columbia University, who argued that crucial parts of the video appear to have been altered so as to distort the action.

On Wednesday the White House “suspended” the press credentials of CNN reporter Jim Acosta, citing his actions at the aforementioned news conference (but really because President Trump doesn’t like him and he wasn’t being enough like Sean Hannity).

Learning Nothing: Boy Neville Stays House Minority Leader

For any Republican hoping that Tuesday night’s historic electoral bloodbath for their party in Colorado, in which Republicans lost their last remaining chokehold on Colorado government as well as constitutional statewide offices they have held for many years, would result in a significant change of course–we’re sorry to bring you this news.

House Minority Leader Patrick Neville (R).

That’s right–with Republicans facing what could be their smallest minority in the Colorado House since Democrats “Blueprinted” the state in 2004 once three outstanding races narrowly favoring Democrats are resolved, House Republicans have re-elected Rep. Patrick “Boy” Neville as their Minority Leader. Along with his father, now-ousted Sen. Tim “Pa” Neville, the Neville clan has exercised disproportionate control over Republican caucuses in both the Senate and the House. In the Senate, nominal Republican Senate leadership found itself dependent on the “Neville faction” to move legislation–and when they were intractable, no progress could be made.

With the re-election of Patrick Neville as House Minority Leader, all the baggage Republicans brought with them into the 2018 elections, from covering for serial sexual harassers to non-mainstream positions on abortion, guns, vaccination of school-age children, and so many other issues will be front-and-center when the General Assembly convenes this January.

As Ed Sealover reports, avoiding “an intraparty fight” was the objective for House Republicans today. The problem is, an intraparty fight is exactly what Colorado Republicans need to have right now if they wish to alter their present trajectory toward permanent minority status.

As of now, it doesn’t look like they do.

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