Colorado Republican Poutrage Burns In Record Time

By now, most of American is aware that a newly-elected Democratic member of Congress from Michigan, Rep. Rashida Tlaib, employed a colorful but undeniably vulgar term to explain her plans for President Donald Trump once in office:

A choice of words that has sent suddenly genteel Republicans wringing their hands and crying for civility–including the Colorado Republican Party, which as readers know has been sorely in need of something to whine about after one of its most sweeping defeats in history last November:

“Rep. Rashida Tlaib’s comment about our nation’s president is beneath the dignity of her office. Tlaib’s freshman colleagues from Colorado, Rep. Joe Neguse and Rep. Jason Crow, claim to want to elevate our civil discourse. They should start by elevating the discourse in their own house. We’re waiting for them speak out against Rep. Tlaib’s gutter rhetoric.” [Pols emphasis]

This statement from outgoing GOP chairman Jeff Hays seems to have been written in an alternate reality in which the President of the United States is not Donald Trump.

That is, this Donald Trump:

The internet did a good job last week of finding many, many more examples of Trump waxing every bit as vulgar, which should have surprised no one. The outrage being feigned over Rep. Tlaib’s dropping of the dreaded F-bomb in reference to President Trump makes very little sense given the President’s own unabashed vulgarity. But more important, what Democrats complain about with Trump is not dropping F-bombs so much as calling Nazis “very fine people” and saying that “laziness is a trait in blacks.”

In the end, we should all be able to agree that this was a very poor location for Colorado Republicans to plant the flag! And they’re left vulnerable to the next reasonable question, why a man can talk this way with impunity but a woman gets a press release from the Colorado GOP guilting her local colleagues by association.

Safe to say that no votes for the Colorado Republican Party were won back this go-round.

Polis and Primavera, Then and Now

Rep. Matt Gray Tweeted out a found photo last night that’s quickly making its way around the weekend ahead of incoming Gov. Jared Polis’ inauguration–the Governor-elect and our new Lt. Gov. Dianne Primavera, but at least a decade ago when both held very much non-executive offices:

From this year’s campaign, for comparison:

We’d love to know more about precisely when and where the historic photo at top was taken, but it’s a reminder of how long both have been friends and public servants. We should all call ourselves fortunate to have held together as well through a whole intervening decade. Also, as you can see Gov.-elect Polis was rocking the polo shirt years before he made it the hot fashion choice in Congress!

You’re right, that last one is a stretch. But congrats to the new administration just the same.

Adams County GOP Chair Slams Gardner and Republican Party

(MAGA, everybody – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Sen. Cory Gardner (R).

The Chair of the Adams County Republican Party joined other Colorado conservatives today in hot rage against U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner for calling for an end to the government shutdown without funding a border wall.

In comments trashing Republican leaders, Adams Chair Anil Mathai told KNUS right winger Peter Boyles that “we the people need to fight” the Republican Party. “Enough of the silence.”

“They have no steel spine, Pete, as you know,” said Mathai on air. “They’re afraid to take a position on anything. I mean, it’s very clear, they put their finger [in the air] and whichever way the wind blows. Right now, they cower down and don’t say a word…. The Republican Party – we don’t know what they stand for anymore.”

“Lenin had a term, called the ‘useful idiots,'” Boyles told Mathai. “Cory Gardner is a useful idiot. Mike Coffman was a useful idiot. Walker Stapleton was a useful idiot. Where is the Republican Party?”

Mathai went on to say that there is a “cowardice here within the Republican Party” that’s exemplified by Gardner “telling Republicans to vote for a Democratic budget.”

But the state GOP still has some “patriots,” said Mathai, citing State Rep. Patrick Neville.

Listen to Mathai here:

Getting History Wrong With Minority Leader Chris Holbert

A short while ago, the new GOP minority leader of the Colorado Senate Chris Holbert delivered his opening day remarks, but anybody who paid attention in American History class stopped listening and started giggling just moments into the speech:

There is great history here at our state Capitol, much of which points to a time fifteen years before statehood, to 1861. Colorado became a United States Territory on February 28 of that year. Four days later, Abraham Lincoln, known as a “Man of the West,” was inaugurated as the fourteenth President of the United States… [Pols emphasis]

You see, Abraham Lincoln, the first U.S. President from the Republican Party and a man who we’d say everyone in a leadership position in the Republican Party should know the biography of by heart, wasn’t the 14th President. He also didn’t kill vampires, but that’s for another blog post.

Now folks, since every encyclopedic reference to Abe Lincoln we can find anywhere, including Wikipedia itself, lists Lincoln unequivocally as the nation’s 16th President and not the 14th President, how does the Colorado Republican Senate Minority Leader get this wrong–and how does such an error survive the editing process that surely an opening-day address by the Senate Minority Leader is subjected to? It’s mostly likely a sloppy press secretary who wrote this, and worse let it out of his shop–but at the end of the day it’s the guy giving the speech who looks bad.

If Chris Holbert was Sarah Palin, there might be some emergency Wikipedia editing going on.

But sadly, Chris Holbert hasn’t got Sarah Palin-level juice.

Friendless: GOP Base Turns On Cory Gardner

Following the announcement yesterday by Colorado’s imperiled junior GOP U.S. Senator Cory Gardner that he would now support legislation to reopen parts of the federal government without funding for President Donald Trump’s border wall, in effect caving to Democrats on the same day they took control of the U.S. House for the first time since 2011, prominent members of Gardner’s own party still loyal to President Trump reacted–and it wasn’t kind:

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

Ouch! It’s a safe bet that Laura Ingraham’s 2.4 million followers were not impressed, and the replies to her Tweet certainly indicate as much. The real test, of course, will be whether President Trump himself chooses to personally weigh in on Gardner’s new groove. Trump has given Gardner several warm mentions in the past few months both in person and via the Twitters, not least a glowing send-up at a campaign rally in West Virginia after Gardner accompanied Trump to the event on Air Force One (photo right).

Strategically, this move has been broadly recognized as a first step in what pundits agree will be a wholesale political transformation for Sen. Gardner if he has any realistic hope of staying in office after 2020. Much like when Gardner launched his 2014 Senate campaign by audaciously declaring he no longer supported the “Personhood” abortion ban initiatives, Gardner is making a highly public splash of dissent in hopes of disrupting the “Trump toady” image he currently is saddled with.

The problem, as you can see in Ingraham’s response, is that Gardner is alienating base Republicans that he needs every bit as much as swing voters by caving on Trump’s signature priority. Because Gardner is running in a state whose politics have moved steadily away from Republicans, it makes sense that he is trying to put distance between himself and the Republican brand–but whatever Gardner nets in terms of swing support, which won’t be much, comes at the expense of base Republican votes.

Is there a good move for Gardner at this point? Maybe not, but the people who rightly consider themselves Gardner’s closest allies say this is not it.

Like Clockwork, Cory Gardner Begins His 2020 Pivot

Senator Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) is widely considered to be among the most endangered incumbents facing re-election in 2020. In early December, we wondered aloud in this space about how long it would take before Gardner changed course from his increasingly Trump-loving, GOP leadership-having positions into a pretend “moderate” who is theoretically more capable of winning a second term.

Well, if you picked “January 3” in your office pool for the beginning of the backpedal, you may claim your winnings. As The Hill reports:

Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), who faces a potentially tough re-election in 2020, says Congress should re-open the federal government, even without a deal on funding President Trump’s border wall.

Gardner is the first Senate Republican to call for ending the partial shutdown even without a deal on President Trump’s demand for $5 billion to fund a border wall.

“I think we should pass a continuing resolution to get the government back open. The Senate has done it last Congress, we should do it again today,” he said…

…Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) says he will not schedule a vote on a clean stop-gap funding measure to re-open federal agencies without prior sign-off from the president.


Gardner has already publicly reversed himself on the idea of a border wall, but openly calling for an end to the government shutdown without a conversation about a giant wall is a different move — though a completely obvious and expected one for a politician known for saying whatever, whenever. In fact, Jason Salzman of the Colorado Times Recorder previewed this exact scenario just this morning.

Republicans completely own the current government shutdown because President Trump already said it would be his fault. Americans took that message to heart and aren’t buying Trump’s attempts to deflect blame, which makes the shutdown an unquestioned political problem for Republicans like Gardner.

Gardner sees an opportunity here to cast himself as a problem-solving moderate, but these are still just empty words from Colorado’s junior senator. Would Gardner push Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to hold a vote on reopening the government without Trump’s big wall money? Would he support a veto override if Trump refuses to budge? If not, then none of these words matter.

At some point, Gardner is going to need to back up his rhetoric with action. Otherwise, he risks becoming another Jeff Flake — talking loud, saying nothing, and without an office to call his own.

Colorado Legislature Close to Gender Equality

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

The new legislative session will open with 45% of Colorado General Assembly seats being held by women according to the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers. This is second only to Nevada where 50.8% of the seats are held by women (well done Nevada).

Unsurprisingly most of these women are Democrats. In the state senate 11 of the 12 women are Democrats and in the house 25 of the 33 women are Democrats. Another way to look at it is that more than half of the Democratic caucus (60.97% of the house and 57.89% of the senate) in Colorado are women.

All of these numbers are increases from 2018 when 38.0% of Colorado legislators were women and our state ranked down in 4th place.

FiveThirtyEight had an excellent analysis of Why the Republican Party Elects So Few Women last year. Their answer was that Republicans first do not get as many women to run for office as Republicans and then the retention of women in office is worse on the Republican side.

The top 10 states:
Nevada (50.8%) (up from #3)
Colorado (45.0%) (up from #4)
Oregon (41.1%) (up from #9)
Washington (40.8%) (up from #5)
Vermont (39.4%) (unchanged % drops them from #2)
Maine (38.7%) (up from #7)
Alaska (38.3%) (new to the top 10, was #12)
Rhode Island (38.1%) (up from #10)
Arizona (37.8%) (down from #1)
Maryland (37.2%) (increased %, but down from #8)

Also unsurprisingly given the gap between the parties is that very red West Virginia and Mississippi are nearly tied for last place with 14.2% and 14.4% respectively.

Would Gardner Vote To End the Shutdown?

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

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

U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner has been emphasizing that he voted for a senate bill late last year that would have kept the government running.

He made the point in a Dec. 21 tweet, stating, “I voted for a clean government funding bill that passed the Senate on Wednesday night.”

Gardner is referring to his vote on a bipartisan measure that would have kept the government operating without funding for a border wall. That’s why he refers to it as a “clean” bill. It passed the senate but died after the House passed a bill that contained the wall funds.

Gardner said again today in a KOA radio interview that he voted for the clean senate bill in December and that he wants to end the shutdown.

Now the question is, would he vote for the same or very similar bill again, if it’s passed, as expected, by House Democrats in the coming week?

Would he push for a senate vote on the legislation?

That follow-up question wasn’t put to him on KOA this morning, and Gardner didn’t return a call from the Colorado Times Recorder seeking to know the answer.

Another reasonable question is, if the bill were to clear the senate, would he vote to override a Trump veto?

Bob Rankin: No “Boob Grabber,” But Will He Appease The Right?

Rep. Bob Rankin (R), sitting on a fence.

The Grand Junction Sentinel’s Charles Ashby reports on the selection yesterday of Rep. Bob Rankin of Carbondale to replace Sen. Randy Baumgardner, who is resigning after a long controversy over Baumgardner’s serial sexual harassment of women at the Capitol:

Baumgardner’s resignation is effective Jan. 21. That’s when Rankin will be sworn in as his replacement. A new vacancy committee for his House district seat will be formed to replace him. Rankin said he expects to continue to serve on the Legislature’s Joint Budget Committee.

Baumgardner, who was re-elected to Senate District 8 in 2016 and had two more years to serve before being term limited, said he would “retire” from the Senate to spare his family from that controversy.

During last year’s session, the 63-year-old senator faced two investigations of suspected multiple incidents of sexually harassing women inside the state Capitol. Those investigations said there was substantial evidence to indicate that he was a “boob grabber” who repeatedly showed a propensity to sexually harass female staffers, including right outside the Senate chambers.

Bob Rankin has a reputation as one of the more level-headed Republicans serving in the Colorado House, befitting his service on the powerful Joint Budget Committee and providing a sorely-needed degree of professionalism in a frequently immoderate Republican caucus. We’ll never forget when Rankin took on the gun lobby by unsuccessfully proposing a public relations campaign to debunk the wild falsehoods about the state’s 2013 gun reforms–in marked contrast to most Republican lawmakers who were busy spreading those very same falsehoods. And yes, Rankin also voted to expel ex-Rep. Steve Lebsock from the House last year, further distinguishing himself from Baumgardner’s soiled legacy.

All told, Rankin’s appointment to Baumgardner’s SD-8 seat is a hopeful development for the Colorado Senate’s incoming GOP minority. Unfortunately for Rankin, it’s not likely to be the final word. Debra Irvine, a “Tea Party” activist from Summit County contested Rankin for the SD-8 appointment and is likely to run in the 2020 GOP primary for the seat. Irvine’s much more strident conservative platform and grassroots support could upend the primary against a less-exciting incumbent Sen. Rankin.

For today, though, we’re calling Rankin a win for adulting in the Colorado Senate.

Get More Smarter on Thursday (January 3)

This is the first “Get More Smarter” update of 2019; try not to pull a brain muscle after the long holiday break. 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 a visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show.



► The 116th Congress convenes today with Democrats in majority control of the House of Representatives. California Rep. Nancy Pelosi is expected to be elected Speaker of the House on Thursday afternoon. Colorado’s Congressional delegation includes two new members — Rep. Joe Neguse (D-Boulderish) and Rep. Jason Crow (D-Aurora).

At the top of the list for the new Congress is finding a solution for the federal government shutdown now in its second week. From Politico:

Pelosi is set to pass a package of government funding bills on Thursday afternoon aimed at reopening the quarter of the government that’s closed and shirking President Donald Trump’s border wall. But Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) says he won’t take up the proposals — or anything at all without Trump’s approval.

A government shutdown has never in recent history dragged on from one Congress to another, but like so many things under Trump’s presidency this conflict is one without precedent.

The sharp impasse comes after a bipartisan meeting with the president on Wednesday aimed to restarting moribund negotiations. But Trump dismissed Pelosi’s plan and said he would look “foolish” for reopening government departments unrelated to the immigration dispute, leaving the new divided Congress opening in a state of remarkable gridlock.

On Wednesday Trump flat-out rejected a compromise deal with Democrats that had been worked out by Vice President Mike Pence.

For more on the opening day of the new Congress, check out the Washington Post.


► The Colorado legislature convenes for a new session on Friday. Anna Staver of the Denver Post takes a look at the new Democratic supermajority:

The diverse group of incoming state legislators includes a pediatrician and solar entrepreneur, as well as Colorado’s first transgender lawmakerand nine new Latino members who, when added to the list of five returning legislators, set a record for Latino representation in the General Assembly. It’s also the first time women have held a majority in either chamber. The Colorado House has 33 women and 32 men, but this could change in the coming days because of one and potentially two appointments.


President Trump presided over a Cabinet meeting on Wednesday that was bizarre even by his standards. Trump said that he “essentially fired” Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, and then things got even weirder. As the Washington Post reports:

President Trump, 12 days into a government shutdown and facing new scrutiny from emboldened Democrats, inaugurated the new year Wednesday with a Cabinet meeting. It quickly became a 95-minute stream-of-consciousness defense of his presidency and worldview, filled with falsehoods, revisionist history and self-aggrandizement…

…He took credit for falling oil prices, arguing they were the result of phone calls he made to the leaders of oil-producing nations.

“I called up certain people, and I said let that damn oil and gasoline — you let it flow, the oil,” he said.

And Trump defended his push to fund his promised border wall, parrying complaints from Democrats who have called the wall immoral by remarking, “Then we have to do something about the Vatican, because the Vatican has the biggest wall of them all.”

Ladies and gentlemen, the President of the United States of America!


Get even more smarter after the jump…


Adams GOP chair on school fracking setback deal: “COGA capitulated to the environazis”

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Adams County Republican Party Chair Anil Mathai dismissed a unanimous vote by the Colorado Oil & Gas Conservation Commission to increase oil & gas well setbacks from schools to 1,000 feet as “[capitulation] to the environazis.”

Representatives from the oil & gas industry and environmental groups both praised the deal. Colorado Public Radio characterized it as “a rare moment of agreement between oil and gas companies and conservation groups.”

Neither side appeared to share Mathai’s view of the agreement, who also attacked “establishment Republicans.”