So Long, Jeff Sessions

Ex-Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

NPR reports as Coloradans toke up in celebration:

Jeff Sessions, the president’s earliest and most fervent supporter in Congress, stepped down as attorney general Wednesday after brutal criticism from the president, bringing an abrupt end to his controversial tenure as the nation’s top law enforcement officer.

President Trump wrote on Twitter after a marathon press conference at the White House that Sessions was out and that his chief of staff, Matthew Whittaker, would serve as an acting replacement.

Of course, there is that Russia thing.

With Sessions out, Trump may attempt to limit or end the probe led by special counsel Robert Mueller III into Russian interference in the 2016 campaign and whether the president himself obstructed justice.

But for today, smoke ’em if you got ’em Colorado! We’ll update with local reactions.

Trump Throws Coffman Under The Bus, Because Of Course

Via Denver7’s Blair Miller, you knew this was going to happen:

President Donald Trump’s pathological inability to take responsibility for any consequence of his bull-in-a-china-shop presidency made this morning-after insult piled on injury 100% inevitable. Nobody should be a bit surprised, especially after Mike Coffman’s two years of high-visibility dissing of Trump over anecdotal and personal matters–while voting with Trump over 95% of the time–that the president had no interest in softening the blow of Coffman’s defeat yesterday, indeed using Coffman’s loss as a cautionary tale with his own supporters to stay close.

Back in reality, of course, locals are aware that CD-6 has consistently elected Democrats in other races, and Coffman survived for three elections in a ticket-splitting feat of triangulation that bedeviled Democrats who always knew the seat was winnable. What Trump did most to affect the CD-6 race was to cast Coffman’s two-faced playing off his own party’s soiled brand in undeniably harsh relief. Once that happened, the ticket-splits that kept Coffman office simply evaporated.

We suspect there will be some lingering debate among conservatives whether Coffman should have openly embraced the President, but in the case of swing CD-6, we’re pretty confident that would have only widened Coffman’s margin of defeat.

Phil Weiser Wins AG Race as Brauchler Concedes

Phil Weiser (left) and George Brauchler

Things looked good for Democratic Attorney General candidate Phil Weiser on Tuesday night, but it wasn’t until this morning that the final outcome was determined.

As the Denver Post reports:

Republican George Brauchler on Wednesday morning conceded the Colorado attorney general’s race to Democratic opponent Phil Weiser.

Weiser won with 49.67 percent of the vote, while Brauchler garnered 47.49 percent, according to Colorado Secretary of State’s Office results updated Wednesday morning.

Brauchler said he called Weiser on Wednesday morning to congratulate him and told him “anything he needs just to call on me.”

The political future for Republican George Brauchler looks pretty grim. Brauchler was initially a candidate for Governor before sputtering out and switching to the Attorney General’s race in late 2017. The Republican Attorney General Association (RAGA) spent millions of dollars to prop up Brauchler’s AG campaign to no avail.

Weiser’s victory completes a stunning Democratic sweep of Colorado’s top statewide offices. Weiser is also the first Democrat to win the race for Attorney General since Ken Salazar was re-elected in 2002.

For Now, Gardner (And An Unknown CU Regent) Are The Lone CO Republicans Holding Statewide Office

(This is what a blue wave looks like – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

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

Yesterday, as Coloradans finished casting a blue wave of ballots that upended state politics, U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner, who along with CU Regent Heidi Ganahl are now the lone Republicans occupying state-wide offices in Colorado, was on the radio talking like a candidate.

That’s what he’ll likely be in 2020, if he defends his seat for the first, and Democrats hope, the last time.

On the radio, Gardner said “there are elements of the radical left who are going to oppose President Trump, no matter how good it is for this country.”

Gardner was trying to find a middle ground on Trump, acknowledging the widespread anger with the president in Colorado, which favored Hillary Clinton by five points, while focusing on economic themes.

GARDNER: And 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. Money is coming back in, a thousand manufacturing jobs a day added to this country. You’ve got billions of dollars relocating into the United States. Wages are going up. This is incredible.

And you’re exactly right. There are elements of the radical left that are going to vote against that economic growth, vote against that economic opportunity, just because of the sheer blindness of their opposition.

Whether Gardner’s love-some-of-Trump-Hate-some-of-Trump message would work in Colorado in 2020, is obviously unknown today, two years out.

But after this election, you have think this would fail miserably, and Gardner couldn’t win here with Trump on the ticket, especially given that Gardner has been a loyal ninety-one-percent Trump supporter.

And yesterday’s election shows that Republicans nationwide aren’t in the mood to dump the president from the 2020 ballot, meaning he likely isn’t going anywhere and spelling doom for Gardner.

Even if Trump is gone by 2020, the voting pattern in Colorado today looks bad for the first-term senator, as pollsters on both sides of the aisle have been pointing out all week.


Coffman Goes From Hard-Right, To Softer-Right, To Every Which Way–And Then Out

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

After U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman won re-election in 2016, prevailing in a district carried by Hillary Clinton, even a liberal blog ColoradoPols wrote that the Republican’s “ability to survive so many very different electoral climates and the complete refashioning of his congressional district make another serious run at Coffman increasingly difficult to justify.”

Two years later, Coffman has been voted out, replaced by Democrat Jason Crow.

The difference this year is Trump.

Coffman’s increasingly desperate attempts to define himself as an anti-Trump Republican weren’t believed by voters who apparently saw him as a pawn in Trump’s GOP army. A pawn with a 96 percent pro-Trump voting record, as Democrats repeated throughout the campaign.

Actually, Coffman was more Trump-like during the first 18 years of his political career than he was when he was voted out today. He began migrating away from his hardest-hard-right social conservative stances after his congressional district was redrawn after the 2010 census.

Unlike some flip-flopping politicians, Coffman’s migration was achieved by adopting multiple nuanced positions on controversial issues–with variations emerging over years.

On abortion, for example, he went from proudly opposing all abortion, even for rape and incest, to withdrawing his support for a personhood abortion ban. Later, he voted for abortion ban exceptions, infuriating his personhood supporters.

He voted to defund Planned Parenthood multiple times and then put a Planned Parenthood logo in a campaign advertisement. And then, in interviews on conservative radio, he continued to attack the women’s health organization.

On immigration, his spectacular metamorphosis took him from calling the Dream Act a nightmare to embracing it, even though he blocked the country’s best shot at immigration reform when he opposed a comprehensive immigration bill, passed in 2014 with bipartisan support in the U.S. Senate. The bill died in the House, and Coffman went on to learn Spanish.


Election Night 2018 Open Thread

UPDATE (9:30 pm): Democrat Dave Young will win the race for State Treasurer. In a bigger surprise, Democrat Jena Griswold will defeat Republican incumbent Wayne Williams for Secretary of State.


UPDATE (9:00 pm): Democrats appear to have retaken the Colorado Senate, running the table in all five pivotal races.


UPDATE (7:37 pm): NBC News calls the gubernatorial race for Jared Polis and the CD-6 race for Jason Crow.


UPDATE (7:14 pm): Top State Senate races in Jefferson County all look strong for Democrats. Jessie Danielson (SD-20), Brittany Pettersen (SD-22), and Tammy Story (SD-16) have healthy leads.


UPDATE (7:09 pm): Polls are closed in Colorado. Initial results are trickling in.


UPDATE (6:55 pm): Latest ballot return numbers in Colorado are out. Unaffiliated voters have surpassed Republicans.

Democrats 732,700
Unaffiliated 728,004
Republicans 725,464
TOTAL 2,217,895


UPDATE (6:40 pm): Democrats are currently leading in 21 Republican-held House Districts. Two seats have already been called for Dems (1 in Virginia, 1 in Florida). If you’re counting at home, that adds up to 23.


UPDATE (4:45 pm): Polls are closed in Indiana and Kentucky.


Watch this space for updates.


Get More Smarter: The Big Predictions Thread

With the 2018 elections wrapping up today, here’s our master list of official predictions on the outcome in Colorado. If you’re looking for national predictions, we suggest FiveThirtyEight or your choice of outlets focused on the national map. For the next 24 hours, we’re focused exclusively on the home front.

With that in mind, please refer to this list as you roast your hosts on Wednesday for everything we get wrong:

Governor: Jared Polis will handily win the race for governor. Our previous forecasts had held the prediction of Polis’ win margin below 10% citing a number of factors, but over the past few weeks the climate has only improved for Democrats in Colorado and ballot returns echo this growing confidence. A double-digit Polis win is now a real possibility.

CD-6: After years of trying, Democrats harpoon the proverbial white whale and bring incumbent GOP Rep. Mike Coffman down. Coffman’s ticket-splitting survival strategy of triangulation off his own party was confounded by Donald Trump’s election, and he has been unable to maintain the illusory separation from the GOP brand that kept him in office in a district unsupportive of conservative Republican politics.

CD-3: Despite a spirited campaign by state Rep. Diane Mitsch Bush, recent polling and anecdotes from the field suggest that incumbent GOP Rep. Scott Tipton will retain his seat and thus serve as the Republican Party’s firewall in Colorado for 2018. This race is a good barometer of the size of a potential “Blue Wave” nationally; if Tipton loses, that means Democrats are wiping out Republicans everywhere.

Colorado House: Democrats are poised to gain seats in the chamber they already control by a comfortable margin.

Colorado Senate: Republicans have poured at least $10 million into preserving their single-seat majority in the Colorado Senate, the only locus of Republican veto power in Colorado state government. Control over the chamber appears to be focusing on the SD-24 race between Republican Beth Martinez Humenik and Faith Winter. This race, and with it control of the Senate, is an absolute toss-up, and we honestly have no idea which way it will fall.

Colorado Attorney General: Phil Weiser appears poised to win this race after an ugly but bumbling negative campaign waged by Republican George Brauchler. Historic frustration for Democrats in this race obliges contained enthusiasm, but this is the constitutional statewide office Democrats feel strongest about flipping (other than Governor, of course).

Colorado Treasurer: Republican Brian Watson’s prodigious baggage has been thoroughly aired in this campaign, combining with high Democratic turnout to inspire a measure of confidence in Democrat Dave Young. We give Young the slight edge.

Colorado Secretary of State: Colorado voters haven’t awarded the top four statewide offices to the same party in more than 20 years. Despite a checkered record as Secretary of State and late-breaking scandals that likely would have sunk his re-election bid had they come out earlier, Wayne Williams is the most likely Republican to win statewide in Colorado this year.

We expect this year’s “alphabet amendments,” Amendments V, W, X, Y, Z, and A to all pass handily, as will the payday loan rate cap Proposition 111Amendment 73, a measure to hike taxes on high-income earners for public education, may outperform previous similar measures that were handily defeated but is still unlikely to pass. Amendment 74, the highly controversial takings measure opposed by basically everyone except the oil and gas industry, is also likely to die–as is Proposition 112, a measure to substantially increase setbacks between new oil and gas drilling and surface development, leaving a status quo ante on the issue for the next governor.

Of the two transportation funding measures, Proposition 109 and Proposition 110, we’d say 109 is the more likely of the two to pass because it promises something for nothing to voters by borrowing money to fix roads (assuming legislators will find cuts in the state’s budget to pay for it). We’re concerned that the work to educate voters on the irresponsibility of 109 versus the responsible pay-fors of 110 has not been sufficient, though the overall confusion with two competing ballot measures could sink both options.

And there you have it, readers! We, like everybody on the ballot, await the judgement of history.

With Ballot Calculus Favoring Dems, Trump Is Needed ASAP In Colo To Boost Republican Turnout, Says GOP Pollster

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

President Donald Trump.

Unaffiliated voters are casting ballots “at a level never seen before in a midterm election in Colorado,” says Republican Pollster Ryan Winger at Magellan Strategies in a blog post today.

At the same time, about 43,000 fewer Republicans have voted this year, and over 70,000 more Democrats have voted, compared to the last midterm election in 2014.

With polls showing that most Colorado unaffiliated voters don’t like Trump are expected to vote for Democrats, it’s time for Republicans to bring in the President to rev up the GOP here, said Magellan Strategies Pollster David Flaherty on KNUS radio Friday.

KNUS 710-AM host Julie Hayden, a former local TV reporter, asked Flaherty if a Trump rally help drive Colorado Republicans to the Polls.

“It would absolutely help, Julie,” Flaherty said on air.

“He could not be more popular or more beloved by Republicans. He has higher approval rating numbers than George W. Bush did practically right after 9-11, to give you an idea [of how high]. However, his approval rating among unaffiliated voters in in the low 30s, and that sort of a double-edged sword.”

“But I think without question it would be a good idea for him to swing through for us to pull even and get that final umph,” said Flaherty on KNUS. “I mean, despite his unpopularity among unaffiliated voters. It’s a tough call, no doubt about it, but if Republicans are going to continue lagging in their ballots turned in, I’d call in the big man.”

Brian Watson is the Next Scott Gessler (That’s Not a Good Thing)

Scott Gessler (left) and Brian Watson

Scott Gessler. Never forget Scott Gessler.

Gessler was an ambitious Republican attorney who was elected Colorado’s Secretary of State (SOS) in 2010. His one term in office was marked by numerous scandals, a moonlighting controversy, and easily-disproved false claims about “voter fraud” that harmed Republican candidates and elected officials across the state.

Gessler thought he would be Governor one day, and indeed he tried. Rather than seek re-election as SOS, Gessler sought the top job in the state in 2014. He was rebuffed at every turn by Republicans who were desperate to get rid of him, ultimately finishing a distant third in the GOP Primary behind former Congressman Bob Beauprez (who lost the Governor’s race in 2006 and would lose again in 2014) and former Congressman Tom Tancredo (who failed in his bid for Governor not once, not twice, but thrice). When his SOS term ended in January 2015, Gessler retreated to his private law practice and has generally remained out of the political spotlight ever since.

Gessler’s four years as SOS weren’t just supremely terrible for Scott Gessler – they were a consistent problem for Republicans across the state. If Brian Watson is elected State Treasurer on Tuesday, the GOP could have another Gessler-esque problem on its hands.

In early October, the Aurora Sentinel published a blistering critique of Watson in its endorsement of Democrat Dave Young for Treasurer. The Denver Post followed with a long profile of Watson that was nothing short of devastating for the Republican hopeful. Several days later, Fox 31 News aired an interview with Watson that underscores why Republicans should be so nervous about him.

Watson looks and sounds a lot like Bill Lumbergh.He comes off as smarmy and evasive in responding to several straightforward questions despite repeated attempts at clarity from Fox 31 reporter Joe St. George:

ST. GEORGE: Shouldn’t a candidate for office give up the private sector life if you’re going to be serving in public life?

WATSON: So, I founded my company 18 years ago above Ted’s Montana Grill on Larimer Square and built it up to where we own about $1.3 billion of assets in 16 states throughout America. So, I will remain as Chairman of my company, but we’ve got a phenomenal staff of people who run the day-to-day operations, which allows me to go and serve the people of Colorado in the State Treasurer’s office.

Not to worry, Colorado, Northstar Commercial Partners is in good hands!

But since nobody cares about whether Watson’s company is going to be well-managed if he is State Treasurer, St. George tries his question again:



Trump’s Closing Ad Shunned by Media Outlets

We wrote last week about a horribly-racist television advertisement being promoted by President Trump in an effort to scare voters toward Republicans in the midterm election. The TV spot in question was being aired across the country, but blowback has been significant enough that media outlets are finally pushing back.

As the Washington Post explains:

Facebook and a growing number of media organizations — including Fox News — announced Monday that they would no longer provide a platform for a Trump campaign ad that echoes the president’s rhetoric on immigration ahead of the midterm elections.

After CNN called the ad “racist” over the weekend, NBC announced it was pulling the spot despite allowing it to air during a highly rated football game on Sunday night. Fox News and Facebook followed suit on Monday…

…“Upon further review, FOX News pulled the ad yesterday and it will not appear on either FOX News Channel or FOX Business Network,” Marianne Gambelli, president of ad sales, said in a statement.

In a separate statement, Facebook said it “violates Facebook’s advertising policy against sensational content so we are rejecting it.”

“While the video is allowed to be posted on Facebook, it cannot receive paid distribution,” the social media company said.

President Trump was asked by a reporter today to comment on the advertisement in question. His response was about what you’d expect:

“Well, a lot of things are offensive. Your questions are offensive a lot of the times.”

Trump is going to say whatever he wants, but when Fox News won’t even back you up…

Hey, Look: #Crowmentum is a Thing Now

That’s a lot of post-it notes. (Photo by Hyoung Chang/The Denver Post)

The Denver Post spent the weekend with a bunch of different 2018 candidates. The story gives us a little something to Crow about here at Colorado Pols (yeah, we went there):

Standing before a Post-it display that spelled “#CROWMENTUM,” Crow tried to balance confidence and caution. [Pols emphasis] The polls may be good, he said, but ballots are “still out there,” and Democrats learned a hard lesson in 2016.

“We can do this, we will do this,” he said, “but we have to do it in the next three days.”

And then he was off to launch another wave of volunteers into a grey, stormy morning.

Apparently there’s also a #Crowmentum tag on Twitter now.

We’re fairly certain that you can trace #Crowmentum back to this post on Colorado Pols. Certain enough, at least, that we’re going to take credit for it.