PPP: Hickenlooper 51%, Gardner 38%

UPDATE: As the New York Times reports, Hick is sure looking like a Senate candidate:

Former Gov. John Hickenlooper of Colorado is in discussions about ending his presidential bid and entering the race for his state’s Republican-held Senate seat, potentially giving Democrats a strong candidate in a race they must win to have hopes of retaking the chamber in 2021, according to four Democrats familiar with his thinking.

Mr. Hickenlooper, who is mired at the bottom of public polling of the presidential race, hopped into Senator Michael Bennet’s car on Friday night in this Northern Iowa town to discuss his impending decision, said Democrats familiar with the discussion, who, like others, spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe confidential talks.

The two drove around Clear Lake for about 20 minutes ahead of the Wing Ding dinner, a Democratic fund-raiser that drew 21 presidential candidates. Aides and advisers to the two men, who have been both allies and rivals over their careers in Colorado politics, declined to reveal what was discussed.


As the Denver Post’s Justin Wingerter reports:

“I think there’s one candidate who can beat Cory Gardner and send (Senate Majority Leader) Mitch McConnell into the minority and it’s John Hickenlooper,” said Josh Morrow, the 314 Action Fund’s executive director…

“I just see this as doing a greater service to the country,” Morrow said of running for Senate, “than running for president and being president.”

The 314 Action Fund also paid for a poll of 739 Colorado voters, conducted Aug. 8-11 by Public Policy Polling, that found Hickenlooper leading Gardner in a hypothetical head-to-head contest, 51% to 38%. The margin of error was 3.6%.

Former Gov. John Hickenlooper polling over the 50% threshold as a hypothetical candidate against incumbent Sen. Cory Gardner in this latest poll from Democratic-aligned Public Policy Polling only reinforces the psychological effect of yesterday’s poll showing Hickenlooper over 50% versus the next-best Democratic primary candidate at only 10% support. There’s just no way anyone else in the running today can compete with Gov. Hickenlooper’s overwhelmingly high name in-state name ID and popularity if he decides to get into the U.S. Senate race.

As for the other candidates, including one with a pre-existing relationship with 314 Action Fund as the Post reports today, this turn of events isn’t personal–though it is certainly disappointing to those hopefuls. There was always the possibility that a higher-order candidate would emerge, if not Hickenlooper than with member(s) of Congress whose names came and went. The path for Democrats to retaking the U.S. Senate in 2020 is exceedingly narrow and can afford to leave nothing to chance. That being the case, the best choice by far is the one that minimizes risks.

Every single indicator we have today says that’s John Hickenlooper.

Get More Smarter on Tuesday (August 13)

Enjoy your last day of summer vacation, Jefferson County students. Let’s Get More Smarter. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of an audio/visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show or The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us Facebook and Twitter.


► Eight counties in Western Colorado are among the fastest-warming places in the entire country, according to data compiled by the Washington Post:

Over the past two decades, the 2 degrees Celsius number has emerged as a critical threshold for global warming. In the 2015 Paris accord, international leaders agreed that the world should act urgently to keep the Earth’s average temperature increases “well below” 2 degrees Celsius by the year 2100 to avoid a host of catastrophic changes…

…A Washington Post analysis of more than a century of National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration temperature data across the Lower 48 states and 3,107 counties has found that major areas are nearing or have already crossed the 2-degree Celsius mark.

— Today, more than 1 in 10 Americans — 34 million people — are living in rapidly heating regions, including New York City and Los Angeles. Seventy-one counties have already hit the 2-degree Celsius mark.

Montrose, Rio Blanco, Mesa, and Ouray counties are among the Top 10 most rapidly warming counties in the United States.


Colorado Public Radio follows up on a story we’ve been watching closely here at Colorado Pols: The real reason for moving the headquarters of the Bureau of Land Management to Colorado. From CPR:

Critics of the Trump administration’s decision to move the Bureau of Land Management headquarters to Grand Junction fear the real goal is to weaken the bureau.

These concerns and suspicions have only been heightened by recent statements and actions from administration leaders. Interior Secretary David Bernhardt appointed William Perry Pendley as acting BLM director. For years, Pendley advocated selling off the public lands of the agency he’s now leading…

…George Stone, with the Public Land Foundation, a nonprofit made up of many former BLM employees said there’s another saying in D.C.: “If you’re not at the table, you’re on the menu.”

He and many others fear BLM is the next dish to be served up, facing de-facto cuts and a marginalized position far from D.C. power players to advocate for its interests.


A “Draft Hick” movement is the next step in what is increasingly looking like an inevitable U.S. Senate campaign for former Gov. John Hickenlooper. Recent polling indicates that Hickenlooper holds a 51-point lead over the rest of the Democratic field should he join the race for the 2020 nomination.



Get even more smarter after the jump…


How Are Those Trump Tax Cuts Working Out For You?

Sen. Cory Gardner (R).

CNBC reports that they’re not working out so well for the nation’s bottom line:

The U.S. budget deficit widened another $119.7 billion, good for a 27% increase over a year ago, according to government figures released Monday.

Total outlays increased by 22.8% over last July as receipts grew 11.6%. For the year, receipts were up 3% in the October to July period, totaling $2.86 trillion, while expenditures were at $3.73 trillion, an 8% rise.

That brings the fiscal year deficit through July to $866.8 billion, a little over a year and a half after the Trump administration ushered through a $1.5 trillion tax cut that the White House has vowed would pay for itself. At this point last year, the deficit was $684 billion.

While it’s true that overall tax receipts are up with the strong economy we’ve enjoyed for most of the 2010s, the loss of the federal revenue growth that would have occurred were it not for the Trump tax cuts is directly responsible for a budget deficit headed over one trillion dollars this year–the inevitable result of tax cuts made with no offsetting cuts in spending. Spending cuts are the second act of the conservative “starve the beast” philosophy of deliberate fiscal crisis inducement–the part they don’t want to talk about while passing big tax cuts, but then in recent years has become too politically toxic to carry out as the harm those spending cuts would do to ordinary Americans is quantified.

Have voters seen this shell game played enough times to stop playing in 2020? We’ll have to see if repetition of this same tired tactic overcomes short attention spans. The one thing this situation cannot be called is fiscally responsible, and that’s the one thing Republicans are expected to be. Is it true that “deficits only matter when Democrats are in charge?”

If so, we can cut the proverbial crap.

“Never Trump” Kafer Considers Eating Out of the Trump Dumpster

(Okie dokie then – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

A once brave “Never Trump” conservative, who couldn’t hold her nose and vote for Trump, is caving.

That’s Denver Post columnist Krista Kafer. As a talk radio host, she took endless abuse for her stance against Trump, and KNUS eventually dumped her.

Now, she’s saying she’s upset with Democrats and “looking at voting for Trump.”

“The deal is, that, yeah, [voting for Trump] a little like eating out of the dumpster, but if you’re that hungry, you’re going to do it,” said Kafer on Colorado Public Television’s weekly politics show, Colorado Inside Out. (on channel 12)

I’m a fan of dumpster diving. Great stuff to be found, including good food.

But if Kafer eats out of the Trump dumpster, not only will she get incredibly ill and possibly die, but she’s leading conservatives into a long stretch of political starvation.

Swing Voters in Colorado hate Trump, and Republicans can’t win without them. If you’re a practical Republican, you have to avoid the Trump dumpster–because the numbers don’t work for Republicans. Ask failed GOP congressional candidate Mike Coffman if he agrees.

Tuesday Open Thread

“Politics is the ability to foretell what is going to happen tomorrow, next week, next month and next year. And to have the ability afterwards to explain why it didn’t happen.”

–Winston Churchill

House Republican Leader Says He’s Been “Cut Off” By Powerful Business Group

(Republicans don’t win elections or pass legislation under Neville, but other than that he’s great! — Colorado Pols)

Colorado Concern, one of the most influential business groups in the state, is no longer talking to the leader of the House Republicans. Minority Leader Patrick Neville (R-Castle Rock) says he’s been “cut off” by the powerful lobbying group.

Speaking with KNUS radio hosts Chuck Bonniwell and Julie Hayden on August 2, Neville confessed he hasn’t talked to them since last November’s election.

Bonniwell: Who do you talk to over there? [At Colorado Concern] Greg Stevinson? He’s the Treasurer, he’s a Republican, kinda-sorta. Neville: They [Colorado Concern] have actually cut me off to be honest with you. I really don’t talk to them at all any more. I did when I first took over leadership for about the first year, and then after [Propositions] Y & Z, I haven’t really talked to them since.

Colorado Concern, led by former Republican lawmaker Mike Kopp, is an “exclusive alliance” of over 120 CEOs from around the state. The group ranked third among all entities that lobby at the state capital in campaign contributions last election cycle. The group is bipartisan but its 2018 political giving leaned heavily Republican.

Propositions Y & Z were the 2018 anti-gerrymandering ballot measures reforming Colorado’s federal and state redistricting processes. Both campaigns succeeded by wide margins, thanks in part to support from leadership from both parties, including Neville, as well substantial financial support from a group affiliated with Colorado Concern.

Neville’s admission followed a long discussion about Colorado Concern’s influence and policy goals, specifically the failed negotiations over a possible special session to try to generate more support for Proposition CC. Colorado citizens will decide this November whether or not to approve Prop CC, which would allow the state government to retain and spend all of the revenue it collects. The state is currently barred from keeping more than a certain amount (determined by a formula based on inflation plus population growth) of collected tax revenue. The vast majority of all Colorado counties cities and school districts have already passed a local equivalent of Prop CC.

Neville implied that his reluctance to come to the table led Colorado Concern to threaten primaries against his candidates:

Neville: “I hear they’re threatening ‘we’re gonna start getting involved in races,’ Well [they] always do! $400,000 in 2014- they dumped in a ton of money then against all of our candidates. It’s sad- I was hoping there would be a change when they changed the executive director. It used to be Kelly Brough and she went after all the conservatives and we just cleaned the slate back then and we’ll do it again. Because they might have a lot of money, but we actually have the ideas and the people out there. So if they want to play this game, I’m game.”

Neville later dismissed Colorado Concern’s influence in recent elections, noting that it only gave him $5,000 to $10,000 for house races. He instead praised groups like Right To Work and Rocky Mountain Gun Owners

Colorado Concern president Mike Kopp did not return a call requesting comment.

This article first appeared on the Colorado Times Recorder. 


Colo Republican Party Using a Voter Data App Called Sidekick

In a recent Facebook post, Recall Jared Polis heralded its use of the SideKick app, stating, “We are putting the finishing touches on our custom app to track and verify recall petition signatures. Our goal is to shatter the record for the lowest signature rejection rate in Colorado history, and with you as a volunteer, we know we can!”


(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

During November’s election, someGOP candidates and their allies in critical Colorado races didn’t use the same voter database, potentially causing them to duplicate time-consuming canvassing efforts and to fail at effective voter mobilization.

Now the Colorado Republican Party has a new voter database that’s also being used by allied conservative groups.

Speaking to activists last month, Colorado Trump Chair Jefferson Thomas indicated that the Colorado Republican Party is now using a “door-to-door” application called “Sidekick.”

“Sidekick is our voter contact application,” said Thomas, when he asked about GOP tools that could be used in multiple elections. “There is also a front-facing database, if you will, that contains all of our voters, all of those things integrated in one system.”

The Colorado Republican Party is listed as a client on the website of CampaignSidekick, which sells the app. Other clients are state Republican Parties, like Arkansas, Arizona, and Ohio.

A campaign to recall Democratic Gov. Jared Polis is also appears to be using the Sidekick app.

The Resist Polis PAC made an expenditure to CampaignSidekick on July 1 for “consultant and professional services.”

In a recent Facebook post, Recall Jared Polis heralded its use of the SideKick app, stating, “We are putting the finishing touches on our custom app to track and verify recall petition signatures. Our goal is to shatter the record for the lowest signature rejection rate in Colorado history, and with you as a volunteer, we know we can!”


Background Checks for Gun Purchases: They Work

Clockwise from top: Dudley Brown, Sen. Cory Gardner, Wesley Gilreath


THIS is why Colorado is among the 13 states that have background checks for gun purchases. THIS is why Republicans in Congress need to pass background check legislation for the entire country.

As CBS4 Denver reports:

Wesley Gilreath, 29, is currently behind bars in Boulder on child pornography charges. His recent attempt to purchase a gun was rejected when a check was run.

A search warrant shows the FBI was looking into what Gilreath called “hunting guides” which had detailed information about area mosques and synagogues…

…The background check flagged Gilreath, who was committed to a mental institution in 2016.

Maybe Wesley Gilreath was trying to purchase a gun so that he could play a real-life version of “Duck Hunt” or because he worried about keeping coyotes away from his chickens. Maybe Gilreath wanted a gun so that he could kill innocent people. We don’t know what might have happened had Gilreath gotten his hands on a firearm, but we don’t need to know that outcome to understand that background checks served their purpose here. When you argue against any sort of gun control — which Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) has done recently — you are standing up for people like Wesley Gilreath. Period.

If you are serious about preventing gun violence, then you must be serious about keeping guns out of the hands of violent people. That’s what is happening in Colorado, As Karen Morfitt reports for CBS4 Denver:

While the percentage of denials hasn’t grown significantly since moving to a universal check in 2013, the addition of private seller checks means hundreds of gun purchases were stopped that may not have been otherwise.

President Trump said on Friday that he is “confident” that Congress will pass “meaningful” legislation implementing background checks for gun purchases. Trump has also indicated support for a federal “red flag” bill similar to what we have in Colorado. When Trump says “Congress” in this context, he is talking about Senate Republicans; the Democratic-led House of Representatives passed two background check bills back in February that the Republican-controlled Senate has refused to even discuss. As the Washington Post reported last week, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell “has shown no willingness to bring up the House background-checks bill, let alone call the Senate back to do so.” McConnell has since paid lip service to the idea of “red flag” legislation and/or background checks, but hardline gun groups and the Republicans they support remain opposed to any sort of common sense restrictions on firearms.

“I don’t support gun control.”

— Sen. Cory Gardner (August 6, 2019)

More than 90% of Americans support background checks for gun purchases, and this isn’t a new phenomenon; polls have consistently shown strong public support for background checks for years, and those numbers remain steady despite an ever-changing news cycle. Extremist groups like the Rocky Mountain Gun Owners (RMGO) insist on blanket, no-exception Second Amendment protections and threaten Primary challenges against any Republican who would dare support something like Colorado’s background check laws.

In the aftermath of mass shootings in Dayton, Ohio and El Paso, Texas, RMGO Executive Director Dudley Brown told the Denver Post that he and his national group, the National Association for Gun Rights, “will hold Trump and all other elected officials responsible for their gun control actions.”

On that we agree.

Poll: Hick Leads Dem Senate Pack By…51 Points

As the Denver Post’s Justin Wingerter reports, this is what a prohibitive favorite looks like:

Six hundred likely Democratic primary voters in the state were polled and 61% preferred Hickenlooper, compared to 10% for Mike Johnston and 8% for Andrew Romanoff. Fifteen percent were undecided and 6% favored Secretary of State Jena Griswold, who said Friday that she isn’t running in 2020.

The poll was conducted July 25-28 by the Garin-Hart-Yang Research Group, which has a B+ pollster rating from FiveThirtyEight. The poll was conducted on behalf of a national Democratic group involved in Senate races. It has a 4% margin of error…

“Governor Hickenlooper is personally popular among likely Democratic primary voters, with 77 percent of them saying they would have a favorable reaction if he decided to enter the Senate race,” wrote Democratic pollster Geoff Garin in a memo accompanying the poll. Nine percent of those surveyed would have an unfavorable reaction to Hickenlooper’s entry.

Garin-Hart-Yang Research Group counts among its clients the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee–and although Wingerter doesn’t say so explicitly it was almost certainly released with their blessing. What this poll tells us is that former Gov. John Hickenlooper remains very popular and (key point) well-known among Colorado Democrats, as well as unaffiliated voters who can now vote in Democratic primaries. Disaffection with Hickenlooper on the left side of the Democratic base doesn’t appear to be a major liability, which tells us that resentment has been siloed with hardcore activists and the general voting public simply considers Hickenlooper to be a moderate Democrat.

Numbers like these make a compelling case for Hickenlooper to enter the U.S. Senate race, and soon, in order to allow Democrats at all levels to lock in their own strategy around Hickenlooper and put an end to unproductive primary spending. Coming later than most candidates, this news is naturally not welcome to the other primary contenders–but just like Cory Gardner himself cleared his field in all but formality upon his late entry in 2014, Hickenlooper arithmetically outclasses his opposition in the Democratic Senate primary. He is better known and better equipped to mount the challenge than anyone else. If Hickenlooper declines to run, he’s not the only candidate who can beat the vulnerable incumbent–but he’s the candidate most likely to force national Republicans to conclude Cory Gardner’s seat can’t be saved.

At the end of the day, that surety is what Democrats need most.

Get More Smarter on Monday (August 12)

Today marks the second anniversary of the deadly white supremacist rallies in Charlottesville, Virginia. Let’s Get More Smarter. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of an audio/visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show or The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us Facebook and Twitter.


► The Trump administration is pushing new restrictions targeting legal immigrants. From the Washington Post:

Legal immigrants who use public benefits — such as Medicaid, food stamps or housing assistance — could have a tougher time obtaining a green card or U.S. citizenship under a policy change announced Monday that is at the center of the Trump administration’s effort to reduce immigration.

The new policy for “Inadmissibility on Public Charge Grounds,” which appeared Monday on the Federal Register’s website and will take effect in two months, sets new standards for obtaining permanent residency and U.S. citizenship. The Trump administration has been seeking to limit those immigrants who might draw on taxpayer-funded benefits, such as many of those who have been fleeing Central America, while allowing more highly skilled and wealthy immigrants into the United States.

Wealth, education, age and English-language skills will take on greater importance in the process for obtaining a green card, as the change seeks to redefine what it means to be a “public charge,” as well as who is likely to be one under U.S. immigration law.


► If former Gov. John Hickenlooper drops his bid for President and instead decides to run for U.S. Senate, the road looks pretty smooth ahead. As the Denver Post reports, Hickenlooper would enter a crowded Democratic field of candidates as a heavy favorite to capture the nomination. 


It is entirely possible that people trying to recall State Sen. Brittany Pettersen believe that “State Senator” means Pettersen is a Senator for the entire state of Colorado. Either that, or they really have no idea where to find Lakewood.


► The latest episode of The Get More Smarter Podcast is now available for your listening pleasure. If you would rather read the transcript, here you go.



Get even more smarter after the jump…


Recallpalooza: Meet Herbie The Hate Bug!

Photos forwarded to us yesterday from the far western reaches of Jefferson County, at the intersection of US-285 and Pine Valley Road. In the 20 minutes or so our source observed there weren’t any drive-ups to sign petitions either to recall Gov. Jared Polis or the recently-announced “citizens-only voting” ballot measure being pushed in search of a problem by Republican hanger-on George Athanasopoulos.

Much like the Recall Polis “creeper van” we took note of a couple weeks ago, this roadside scene inspires something other than credibility. Would you give your personal information to these very fine people? Also:

Sen. Brittany Pettersen’s district is miles east of here, and that doesn’t bode well for their validity rate.

Cusp of victory, folks. Stay tuned!

Hard-Hitting Giffords Ad Wallops Gardner On Guns

Sen. Cory Gardner (R).

Roll Call’s Niels Lesniewski:

“Instead of making lesson plans, I’m making active-shooter plans.”

That’s what a woman identified as a Colorado schoolteacher named Jody says in a new issue ad campaign starting this weekend by the gun control advocacy group named for former Arizona Democratic Rep. Gabrielle Giffords. The group’s aim is to push Colorado Republican Sen. Cory Gardner to back a House-passed gun purchase background check bill…

Gardner and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell are the initial focus of what Giffords’ group says is going to approach a $750,000 advertising buy in support of gun safety legislation. Gardner is among the most vulnerable Republican Senate incumbents on the ballot in 2020, and McConnell also faces a battle for reelection.

In the past week since two deadly mass shootings in Texas and Ohio, the resurgent debate over gun safety legislation–most of which would consist of national editions of laws that are already on the books in Colorado with broad public support–Sen. Cory Gardner’s severe weakness on the issue has been front and center. Gardner, who received almost $4 million from the National Rifle Association during his career, was already on record opposing “red flag” laws to intervene in cases of mentally ill people in crisis with guns that President Donald Trump and a host of Republican lawmakers have voiced support for since last week’s shootings. And when confronted in Colorado this week about the issue, Gardner reiterated his opposition to “gun control” and his overriding concern of protecting constitutional rights versus public safety.

With Gardner now out of a limb even within much of his own party on guns, representing a state that has become a model for responding to and preventing the kinds of mass shooting tragedies that are dominating the headlines, politically this ad from Giffords PAC is extremely well-targeted and damaging. At this rate, Gardner is going to need every penny of those NRA millions to hold off the accountability 2020 has backlogged for him.

Weekend Open Thread

“Man is a rational animal who always loses his temper when he is called upon to act in accordance with the dictates of reason.”

–Oscar Wilde

Jena Griswold Declines U.S. Senate Clown Car

Secretary of State Jena Griswold (D).

Late breaking this Friday evening, a press release from the Senate exploratory committee for Secretary of State Jena Griswold announcing a no-go on her possible run for the nomination to take on vulnerable Sen. Cory Gardner:

Today, Colorado’s Secretary of State Jena Griswold announced that she will not seek the Democratic nomination for US Senate, and remains committed to her work on voting rights, campaign finance reform, and ensuring Colorado continues to have the most secure elections in the nation. Griswold released the following statement:

“I was surprised and humbled when Coloradans began to approach me about running for the US Senate. I knew I needed to take this encouragement seriously and give it real consideration. After some heartfelt deliberation, I have decided that now is not the right time for me to run for the Senate. Last year, Coloradans gave me the honor of electing me to serve as their Secretary of State. Together, we’ve already passed bi-partisan reform to shine light on dark money, we’ve made it more accessible for Coloradans to vote, we lead the nation in election security, all of which makes Colorado a national model on democracy. I am moved by the encouragement I have received, and sincerely want to thank everyone for their support. I look forward to continuing to work to ensure that Coloradans have a democracy they can believe in.”

Griswold set up an exploratory committee after a July poll showed strong early support from Democratic primary voters. The committee raised over $200,000 in just 2 weeks.

It’s a wise decision for Secretary of State Griswold, who pole-vaulted out of obscurity to win a statewide Colorado election in 2018 and certainly has demonstrated the chops to run for higher office–after perhaps spending a little more time consolidating her position, and earning by experience the gravitas to match her considerable ambition. SoS Griswold is no doubt also aware of big changes in the Senate race on the horizon. Presiding over Colorado’s elections in a pivotal presidential year is a full-time job that deserves the full attention of a qualified public servant, and that’s where Griswold is best suited today.