Get More Smarter on Tuesday (Jan. 17)

Snow is coming tonight — perhaps a lot of snow. Let’s Get More Smarter. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of an audio learner, check out The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter.




Governor Jared Polis delivered his 2023 “State of the State” speech this morning. Polis spent a lot of time talking about the importance of affordable housing in Colorado; renewable energy advancements; water and drought issues; the high costs of healthcare; and increasing funding for public education. Polis also took a shot at quoting Yoda from “Star Wars”…in a Yoda-ish voice.


 We noted last week that ZERO House Republicans in Colorado co-sponsored a resolution to honor Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., something that has not happened before in the state legislature. We had wondered if House Republicans just dropped the ball and made a mistake. As it turns out, this was apparently done on purpose for really stupid reasons:


Colorado parents can now apply for free preschool programs — a longtime goal for Gov. Jared Polis dating to his first gubernatorial campaign in 2018. From Chalkbeat Colorado:

The parent application for Colorado’s new free preschool program opened at 8 a.m. on Tuesday — a major milestone in the march toward the program’s launch next summer. The program, funded in part by a voter-approved nicotine tax, will offer 10 to 15 hours a week of tuition-free preschool to 4-year-olds statewide, with some eligible for 30 hours a week. In addition, some 3-year-olds will be eligible for 10 hours a week.

State officials expect about 30,000 children to opt into the universal preschool program in its first year. That’s about half the number that will be eligible.

Click here to apply.


 Election denialism took a dangerous turn in New Mexico, as The Associated Press reports:

A failed Republican candidate who authorities said was angry over his defeat in November is facing numerous charges in connection with drive-by shootings targeting the homes of Democratic lawmakers in New Mexico’s largest city.

Solomon Pena, 39, was arrested Monday evening after SWAT officers took him into custody and served search warrants at his home, police said.

Pena, a felon whose criminal past had been a controversial issue during last year’s campaign, repeatedly made baseless claims that the election was “rigged” against him as he posed with “Trump 2024” flags and a “Make America Great Again” hoodie.

“I dissent. I am the MAGA king,” he posted the day after the election. And on Nov. 15, he added: “I never conceded my HD 14 race. Now researching my options.”

He was being held pending an initial court appearance Wednesday on charges including multiple counts of shooting at a home and shooting from a motor vehicle, aggravated battery with a deadly weapon, conspiracy and being a felon in possession of a firearm.

Albuquerque Police Chief Harold Medina described Pena as the “mastermind” of an apparently politically motivated conspiracy leading to shootings at the homes of two county commissioners and two state legislators between early December and early January.

We say it all the time: Words matter. It’s not harmless to pretend that elections are fraudulent.


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State of the State 2023

Governor Jared Polis is delivering the annual “State of the State” speech this morning.

Click here to read Polis’s remarks as prepared, or watch the feed below:

No House Republicans Join Martin Luther King Commemoration

TUESDAY UPDATE #2: The resolution honoring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. passed in the State Senate on Tuesday. In the final count, only one Republican signed on to the legislation as a co-sponsor: Senate Minority Leader Paul Lundeen.

There are 31 Republicans in the state legislature in 2023. Only one out of 31 Republicans agreed to co-sponsor the MLK resolution.


TUESDAY UPDATE: It turns out that not sponsoring the MLK resolution was actually an intentional decision by House Republicans because of concerns they had about “Critical Race Theory” language that wasn’t even in the bill. Check this out from Kyle Clark at 9News:




[Original post on Friday, Jan. 13]

Monday is a federal holiday celebrating the birthdate of civil rights activist Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

King’s actual birthdate was January 15, 1929, but we officially celebrate the “MLK Day” holiday on the third Monday of January.

Actually, let’s skip the rest of the lede and get right to the numbers:

[Note that the “GOP House Total” above reflects the number of Republicans who were elected members in the House at the time]


We have never seen this before: Not a single Republican member of the Colorado House of Representatives co-sponsored the traditional resolution to honor and commemorate Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Not. One. 

To be fair, nobody voted against the resolution, but where are the co-sponsors?  It’s not like Republicans didn’t know this was coming. Several GOP House members, including Rep. Scott Bottoms of Colorado Springs, went to the House floor to speak about Dr. King before the vote took place.

Rose Pugliese trying to command her face to smile

So, does this mean that all 19 House Republicans are racist and/or ambivalent about Dr. King? Of course not (probably). But it is absolutely yet another troubling sign that nobody seems to know what they are doing in the House Republican Caucus.

Now, we are giving House Republicans the benefit of the doubt here; we are assuming that this was a mistake or an oversight. But it’s hard to ever be sure with the recent generation of GOP lawmakers in Colorado — particularly when you remember that the MLK Day holiday has often been a problem for Republicans.

The most infamous moment in recent history came in 2019, when then-Rep. Lori Saine delivered a speech on the House floor with a “history” lesson straight out of her own bizarre imagination. According to Saine, “black people and white people were lynched in nearly equal numbers for being Republican in the post-Reconstruction era.” We probably don’t need to tell you that this is complete nonsense.

Last year, Saine was more reserved but nevertheless used the occasion of MLK Day to complain about Critical Race Theory, suggesting that Dr. King himself would not approve of the imaginary practice of incorporating CRT in public school teachings (to the extent that CRT is taught anywhere, it is done as part of a higher-level discussion meant more for college students — not for primary schools).

House Minority Leader Mike Lynch, more or less

Yet despite some strange and inappropriate speechifying by Republicans in years past, one thing always remained fairly consistent: House Republicans made sure to co-sponsor the annual joint resolution commemorating the life of Dr. King.

Today’s fumble was an unsurprising ending to a difficult first week for House Republicans. The session kicked off on Monday with an unusual (and pointless) break of decorum when a few Republicans tried to nominate someone from their micro-minority to become House Speaker (that ship sailed back in November, when the 46-member majority House Democratic Caucus selected Rep. Julie McCluskie as Speaker). Assistant House Minority Leader Rose Pugliese later embarrassingly admitted that there had been no “plan” to challenge McCluskie…nor, apparently, any other sorts of plans.

In fairness to House Minority Leader Mike Lynch, he doesn’t have a lot of help at the top. Pugliese has been around GOP politics for years, but she’s still a freshman lawmaker who has spent less time inside the State Capitol than many of our readers. Pugliese is learning how to be a state lawmaker at the same time she is supposed to be leading people who are learning how to become state lawmakers. That’s working about as well as you’d think.

We’ll see just how bad this might get if Republicans have to respond to not co-sponsoring the MLK resolution. If someone tries blaming Democrats for not inviting them to be a co-sponsor…

Aurora Will Be The Partisan Proxy Battlefield of 2023

Aurora Mayor Mike Coffman with “Mini-Mike,” City Councillor Dustin Zvonek.

As the Aurora Sentinel’s Carina Julig reports, a slate of candidates was announced over the holiday weekend by Democrats in the city of Aurora to challenge the openly partisan Republican majority on the Aurora City Council, and oust the city’s controversial conservative Mayor Mike Coffman:

A slate of Democrats announced Sunday at a joint press conference that they will be running for Aurora City Council in this fall’s elections.

That includes current city Councilmember Juan Marcano, who will be running for mayor.

“I’m running for Mayor to create an Aurora that puts our working families first — to create a city that is safe, clean, and thriving,” Marcano said on social media following an announcement at the Aurora Municipal Center Sunday afternoon…

The city council currently has a 6-4 Republican majority. Mayor Mike Coffman, who can cast votes in the event of a tie, is also a Republican. City council seats are technically nonpartisan, but critical city council decisions have become hyper-partisan and polarizing, particularly in recent years. [Pols emphasis]

After losing his congressional seat in 2018, career politician Mike Coffman plotted his comeback as Mayor of Aurora, barely winning the office in 2019 by just over 200 votes. Coffman then set to work installing a majority Republican City Council majority, which came to include Coffman’s former staffer Dustin “Mini-Mike” Zvonek.

Unfortunately, Coffman’s political success in installing a GOP majority to do his bidding hasn’t been matched with success in governing the state’s most ethnically and economically diverse city. Coffman’s disastrous mishandling of the 2020 racial justice protests that swept the nation and focused on Aurora due to the police killing of Elijah McClain further inflamed tensions in the community. Instead of stabilizing the situation in 2021, Coffman’s conservative majority has been plagued by embarrassments and scandals, from Danielle Jurinsky declaring her own city to be a no-go zone to Steve Sundberg’s attempt to lampoon every ethnic minority in the city. All of this happened while the city turned over three police chiefs in a single year.

After last November’s sweeping victories for Colorado Democrats, now-outgoing GOP chair Kristi Burton Brown cited formerly nonpartisan city council and school board races as key to the party’s strategy for rebuilding. But instead of a rallying point for recovery, in 2023, Republicans in control of Aurora will be on the defensive.

Mike Coffman’s Aurora is an anomaly in today’s Colorado politics, and its end could be in sight.

Tuesday Open Thread

“One change always leaves the way open for the establishment of others.”

–Niccolo Machiavelli

Get More Smarter on Friday the 13th (Jan. 13)

There was only one instance of “Friday the 13th” in 2022; it will happen again in 2023 in October. Let’s Get More Smarter. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of an audio learner, check out The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter.




► Tax cuts do NOT pay for themselves.

Don’t take our word for it: The House Rules Committee, overseen by Republicans, just inadvertently acknowledged as much. As Catherine Rampell writes for The Washington Post:

Via The Washington Post (1/12/23)

Congress sets rules for what kinds of budgetary changes it can pass under what circumstances, including what kinds of programs must be “paid for” by nipping and tucking elsewhere in the budget. Often, lawmakers want to change the law in a way that would cost money (i.e., increase deficits), either by reducing tax revenue or increasing spending. In recent Congresses, when lawmakers made that kind of change, they were generally supposed to find something to offset the cost so that long-term deficits didn’t grow…

…This GOP-led House has done something a bit different.

Under the new rules package, the budgetary requirements are more one-sided — in favor of tax cuts. Going forward, tax cuts do not need to be offset with any sort of savings elsewhere in the budget. They can add trillions to the debt. No problem.

But this is not true of spending programs. Spending program increases still have to be paid for.

Not only that, but the savings to offset expansions of mandatory programs have to come from cuts to other spending programs. They cannot be offset by tax revenue increases. In practical terms: An expansion of food stamps can’t be paid for by raising taxes on the rich — only by cutting, say, Medicaid or disability benefits. So basically any attempt to provide more support for poor or middle-income people is likely to come from other programs that help those same groups.

In related news, POLITICO reports that House Republicans are setting up a government shutdown this fall by implementing impossible spending requirements:

House Republicans are vowing to put Don Quixote to shame by tilting at a huge windmill: slashing federal spending by at least $130 billion without cutting defense.

It’s a proposition that’s severely unlikely on its face, before factoring in a Democratic Senate and White House that would never accept such cuts. Even the GOP’s fallback plan for avoiding a shutdown later this year — passing a short-term funding patch that would trigger reductions as an incentive for lawmakers to finish comprehensive spending bills — is inconceivable this term…

…that funding work is one of the few items Congress has to accomplish this year as part of basic governing. While lawmakers had always expected appropriations would be a struggle this term, the spending concessions negotiated by Speaker Kevin McCarthy and his conservative foes have raised members’ blood pressure. Those House GOP demands could set the stage for a government shutdown, unless conservatives relent or enough moderate Democrats come to other Republicans’ rescue.

“I don’t think we’ve had a really good full-throated discussion and debate about what is politically doable,” said Rep. Steve Womack of Arkansas, a Republican appropriator.


The New York Times digs into some clearly-problematic and probably illegal campaign finance issues related to the Congressional campaign of the New York Republican who claims to be named George SantosMeanwhile, four Republican Members of Congress are calling for Santos to resign. In a separate story from The New York Times, Colorado Rep. Ken Buck BLAMES DEMOCRATS for the existence of Rep. Santos:

Representative Ken Buck, Republican of Colorado, said he believed Mr. Santos’s actions were wrong. But he blamed Democrats for failing to raise concerns about Mr. Santos before his election and said there was little chance of removing him from Congress now.

“If the Democrats had done their research and exposed things, the voters would have had more information,” Mr. Buck said. “I think what he did was wrong, but whether he gets a committee assignment is up to Kevin,” he said, referring to Mr. McCarthy.

Mr. Santos’s committee assignment remained unclear on Wednesday, but he did not receive a spot he coveted on the House Committee on Financial Services. Mr. McCarthy had said earlier in the day that Mr. Santos would not get a spot on choice committees.

What a schmuck.


The Colorado Sun reports on the swearing-in of Attorney General Phil Weiser for his second term in office. 


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House Republicans: Inexperienced, Unprepared, and Paranoid

Be very afraid: Democrats are out there somewhere offering to work with you.

The 2023 Colorado legislative session kicked off on Monday with some of the newest Republican lawmakers doing the same old Republican things that led to their current micro-minority situation. The more we hear from House Republicans, the more it seems that the GOP is too dysfunctional to even accept invitations to work with Democrats.

The session began with eight Republicans in the State House voting against Democrat Julie McCluskie as House Speaker, which was a strange and pointless diversion from traditional decorum.

*Quick Background: The House Speaker in Colorado is selected in a caucus meeting after the November elections. Traditionally both parties cast perfunctory votes in favor of this person as a matter of decorum and for practical reasons, as well; the Colorado legislature is only in session for 120 days, so nobody wants to waste time arguing about a Speaker selection that has already been made. This was a particularly absurd challenge in 2023 given that Democrats outnumber Republicans 46-19 in the House of Representatives.

The bad news for House Republicans is that Democrats don’t NEED to work with them to get things done at the State Capitol. Democrats are nevertheless trying to honor the tradition of the majority party “getting its way” and the minority party “getting a say” in issue discussions. As The Colorado Sun noted on Tuesday, Republicans seem confused about their current predicament:

Here’s the question that may define the 2023 legislative session in the House: Democrats have signaled they are willing to bring Republicans into the conversation. But are Republicans willing to work with Democrats? Eight members of the House GOP caucus signaled “no” on Monday.

The takeaway: Democrats don’t have to work with the GOP to get their agenda passed this year. And Rep. Scott Bottoms and Rep. Ken DeGraaf on Monday gave them another reason not to bother.

In fact, it’s not clear that Republicans even WANT to participate in the 2023 legislative session in a meaningful way. We’ll get back to that in a moment.

Assistant Minority Leader Rose Pugliese (R-Colorado Springs)

Assistant Minority Leader Rose Pugliese talked with George Brauchler on his KNUS radio show this week about what happened on Monday and the 2023 legislative session in general. That the #2 person in the GOP caucus is a freshman lawmaker really underscores just how bad things have gotten for Republicans in Colorado. Many of her comments reflected that lack of experience.

For example, here’s Pugliese talking about the silly effort to nominate freshman Republican Rep. Scott Bottoms as House Speaker:

ROSE PUGLIESE: So, generally, historically…it has always been that the Speaker is nominated and then the minority party second[s] the nomination. That has always happened. Patrick Neville did it. Everyone has done it. And it’s a unanimous vote for the speaker.

Last year there was some dissension [Pols note: This was in 2021, not 2022] and Republicans decided they wanted to vote for a Republican. Which, you know what, I’m okay with. But there wasn’t really a plan around this one as there was last year. And so one of our freshman members, Representative Bottoms, threw his name in — which again, I respect anyone who wants to throw their hands up — but it it wasn’t an organized effort. There were no conversations around it. And I think we could have done better if we had been prepared. [Pols emphasis]

Ya think?

Pugliese is the Assistant Minority Leader. There are only 19 Republicans in the House. How hard could it be to call a meeting with everyone?

During her interview with “The Magnificent Putz,” Pugliese also trotted out the same old tired line of predicting “a lot of overreach this session.” Republicans in the legislature love to accuse Democrats of “overreach,” but that message doesn’t really work when the voters of Colorado just gave Democrats a massive mandate to follow through on their campaign promises. There are 100 total members of the state legislature; Colorado voters elected 69 Democrats.

Rose Pugliese (left) learned a lot about paranoia from former Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters.

Silly rhetoric about “overreach” aside, Pugliese seemed to indicate to Brauchler that Republicans are too paranoid to even attempt to work with Democrats:

BRAUCHLER: Have you detected at all because of this significant minority position that the Republicans hold a difference in the way you’ve been treated by the Democrats? I mean, do you guys have like the kids table outside the big hearing room or do they even pretend that you’re there? I mean, what are we looking for to see whether or not you’re going to have the ability to even have a voice, let alone influence?

PUGLIESE: So, so far they’ve been outreaching a lot to us. And I would say the minority leader would agree, Mike Lynch, that, you know, they’ve been bringing us into the fold and trying to have the conversations and want their bills to be bipartisan, which I think we need to really watch and be careful of. [Pols emphasis]

But so far, they’ve been embracing, but they’ve also been very realistic in the expectations that they are going to do what they’re going to do. They have the votes. We don’t. The governor said that many a time. There’s just not enough of us to stop them.

Be careful, Rep. Pugliese! Those darned Democrats might trick you and your fellow Republicans into accomplishing something!

Pugliese and Minority Leader Mike Lynch will (theoretically) get a little smarter about working with Democrats as the legislative session grinds along. Or maybe they won’t. Democrats don’t need their help regardless, but if Republicans want to crawl out of their micro-minority in the House, they’ll first need to show voters that they can be functional members of an elected body of legislators.

So far, not so good.

This is Why You Don’t Put Republicans in Charge

Totally not creepy Ryan Zinke

Last week’s debacle that saw Kevin McCarthy finally ascend to the role of Qanon House Speaker after 15 different votes — a delay not seen since before the Civil War — was just a preview of what to expect from the new narrow Republican majority in the House of Representatives.

Republicans may talk a big game about working on the issues that matter to American families, yada, yada — but their actions are very different.

The U.S. House is voting on two anti-abortion measures today, one day after agreeing to create a new committee under the control of Rep. Jim Jordan that will investigate the federal government basically over anything that makes Jordan sad.

In fact, conspiracy theories were very popular among House Republicans on Tuesday. Republican Rep. Ryan Zinke of Montana even took to the floor of the House to vomit out this ridiculous rant:

As MSNBC explains:

Zinke, speaking from the floor of the House during a congressional debate, seriously asked people to believe that there are nefarious political actors, using the levers of federal power, coordinating plots with allies, and running secret campaigns to advance their insidious agenda.

As for why in the world Zinke made such an argument, it probably has something to do with his extensive record of ethics scandals…[Pols emphasis]

…Zinke ultimately resigned under a cloud of controversy. But even after leaving the nation’s capital, he was haunted by his record.

Last February, the Interior Department’s inspector general concluded that Zinke lied to investigators about his involvement in a Montana land deal and had run afoul of federal ethics rules. In August, the inspector general’s office released the findings of an entirely separate matter in which Zinke was also found to have knowingly — and “repeatedly” — made false statements to federal investigators.

Voters in Montana’s 1st Congressional District elected him anyway, though it was close, and the Republican didn’t quite crack the 50% threshold.


Zinke served two terms in Congress before Donald Trump nominated him to be Interior Secretary in January 2017. Zinke lasted less than two years in Trump’s Cabinet, resigning after a series of scandals that included his frequent use of charter flights for his own personal use.

Back in Congress on Tuesday, Zinke claimed that dark money Democratic groups want to “destroy” the American West and added that “in many cases they want to wipe out the American cowboy completely.”

Wait, what? Zinke believes that evil Democratic gazillionaires are plotting to eliminate all cowboys?

Don’t ask why. It doesn’t matter.

These are not serious people interested in serious issues.

Gazette’s ‘Investigative Journalist’ Levels Baseless Attacks on the Colorado Times Recorder

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Jimmy Sengenberger is best known as a far-right opinion monger on talk radio station KNUS and as a right-wing contributor to Colorado Politics, which is owned by billionaire GOP donor Phil Anschutz.

On Dec. 30, at the bottom of an article published in the Denver Gazettealso owned by Anschutz via Clarity Media, he’s identified not as an opinion columnist but as “an investigative journalist, public speaker, and host of ‘The Jimmy Sengenberger Show.’” The article doesn’t appear in the opinion section of the website, despite the headline, “Nothing Extreme About Parental Rights.”


As investigative journalists ourselves, we couldn’t help but notice some differences between our approach to reporting versus his.

When reporter Heidi Beedle asserted in her Dec. 1 article that groups like Colorado Parent Advocacy Network (CPAN) and FAIR [Foundation Against Intolerance and Racism] have an anti-LGBTQ activist agenda, she provided evidence in the form of direct quotes from group leaders and citations of other news reporting.

Beedle’s reporting — and characterization of these groups as “conservative” — is backed up by facts and quotes.

Sengenberger states without evidence that “none of these groups are extremist.”

He writes that the Colorado Times Recorder “attempted to paint CPAN as a right-wing extremist group working to undermine public education and harm the LGBTQ community. The site grouped CPAN with the Foundation Against Intolerance and Racism, Advocates for D20 Kids, and the longstanding Independence Institute. None of these organizations are extremist.”


Get More Smarter on Wednesday (Jan. 11)

Good luck trying to catch a flight today anywhere in the country. Let’s Get More Smarter. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of an audio learner, check out The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter.




Qanon House Speaker Kevin McCarthy has his caucus running on full grievance mode in his first week since slogging through 15 different votes before he officially claimed the Speaker’s gavel.

The House will vote today on two abortion-related issues, as The Washington Post explains:

One would condemn attacks “on pro-life facilities, groups, and churches,” while the other would force medical practitioners to provide care to infants who survive an abortion — a very rare occurrence. Neither is expected to advance in the Senate, but the measures underscore a marked change in messaging on the issue now that Republicans control the chamber.

Republicans damn near failed to take the majority in the House of Representatives in 2022 in large part because of voter fears about abortion restrictions stemming from the Supreme Court ruling that overturned Roe v. Wade. It makes absolutely zero sense to kick off their first full week in control by voting on two fairly-obscure anti-abortion measures — as opposed to talking about the economy and inflation — but that’s what happens when you give the “Freedom Caucus” control over everything.


That’s not all that House Republicans are doing this week. From The Washington Post:

The subcommittee, approved on a party-line 221-211 vote, will be empowered to investigate any federal agency that collects information about Americans, even in cases of an ongoing criminal investigation — a carve-out at odds with the Justice Department’s long-standing practice of not providing information about ongoing investigations.

The subcommittee, which will be housed under the Judiciary Committee and led by that panel’s chairman, Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), is expected to have resources akin to the House select committee that investigated the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol — a concession extracted last week from GOP leaders by hard-line detractors of Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) in exchange for the votes necessary to make him the new speaker.

The broad resolution also explicitly authorizes the select committee to seek access to highly classified information provided by intelligence agencies to the House Intelligence Committee. Members of that panel are often briefed on extremely sensitive information with contents that, if widely shared, could damage national security and endanger the lives of American intelligence officers and their assets.

“Its mandate is whatever Jim Jordan wants to do,” said one congressional investigator who works on oversight issues and who, like others in this report, spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal discussions and plans.

Maybe the American people will be really happy to hear that Republicans are sticking their noses into any federal investigation they choose.

The more likely outcome is that this goes completely awry, classified information ends up leaking, and evidence in important investigations is tainted by Rep. Jim Jordan’sPolice Squad.”


Governor Jared Polis was formally sworn-in to a second term on Tuesday. Here’s coverage from The Denver Post; Colorado Newsline; The Colorado Sun; and 9News.

The headline of the day, however, comes from Colorado Public Radio in reference to a loud cannon salute:


 Denver7 has more on the legal threats from gun nuts in the wake of news of several new gun safety measures from the state legislature and local municipalities. 

In related news, Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker signed an assault weapons ban into law on Tuesday evening.


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