Search Results for: neville recall

Ken Buck Keeps On Squashing Republican Dreams

Rep. Ken Buck (R-Greeley).

As the Colorado Sun’s Jesse Paul reports:

U.S. Rep. Ken Buck will seek reelection to his congressional seat next year, the Windsor Republican said Wednesday, dispelling any speculation that he was planning to give up the seat.

“I have been running for this position and I will continue to,” Buck, who is in his third term, told The Colorado Sun.

The confirmation comes as several high-profile members of the Republican Party were considering campaigns for Buck’s 4th Congressional District seat if he decided not to run for another term. The potential contenders included 18th Judicial District Attorney George Brauchler, who fell short in his 2018 bid to become Colorado attorney general, state Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg of Sterling and state House GOP leader Patrick Neville of Castle Rock.

Speculation about Rep. Ken Buck’s next move exploded over the summer, as national conservative “news” sources like Newsmax confirmed rumors we had been hearing that Buck was moving toward retirement from his ultra-safe CD-4 congressional seat–and prospective successors jockeying for pre-position like repeat GOP loser George Brauchler and embattled House Minority Leader Patrick Neville.

Rep. Buck’s “moonlighting” as chairman of the Colorado Republican Party, a job he narrowly won last spring and then immediately raised eyebrows by appointing former party chair Steve House as “CEO” to run day-to-day while Buck continues to serve in Washington–a job House has now ditched to run for CD-6–is creating significant discord among the party’s involved membership and (more importantly) donor base. A petition campaign of state party central committee members is underway to oust Buck from his party position, and confirmation that Buck intends to continue splitting his attention between these two demanding jobs may only increase calls for him to pick one.

Since Buck took over the state party promising to teach Democrats “how to spell R-E-C-A-L-L,” all Republicans in Colorado have managed is a series of failed recall attempts that have devastated the morale of the rank-and-file. Buck’s failure to prevent the vice chair of the party Kristi Burton Brown from “personally” filing the ill-fated recall attempt against Rep. Tom Sullivan indelibly linked the official state party apparatus to the recalls.

With all of this in mind, if Buck decides that he wants another term as CD-4’s representative in Congress, there’s little we can see standing in his way as of this writing. As for the mess Buck has made of the Colorado Republican Party trying to do two jobs?

Somebody’s going to have to clean it up.

Thank God Ken Buck is No Longer a Prosecutor

Colorado GOP chairman Rep. Ken Buck (R).

Surveying the responses from Colorado politicos to the rapidly-deepening impeachment crisis threatening to end Donald Trump’s presidency, we were struck in particular by Rep. Ken Buck of Greeley’s defense of Trump in an interview with the Denver Post’s Justin Wingerter. Buck as readers know was formerly the district attorney of Weld County, and never misses a chance to remind audiences of his steel-trap prosecutorial mind:

“The chief of law enforcement in the United States asked the chief of law enforcement in a foreign country to assist on an ongoing investigation,” Rep. Ken Buck, a Windsor Republican who sees no reason for an impeachment inquiry, told The Post in an interview. “He didn’t suggest what the outcome was. He asked for cooperation from the new government because of election interference in the 2016 election, as well as alleged crimes (involving) the former vice president in the country.”

Buck said Democrats and the press have attacked Trump constantly, fostering cynicism among the public that amplifies otherwise minor revelations, such as those unveiled this week.

“I don’t think this rises to an impeachable offense,” said the congressman, who is chair of the Colorado Republican Party. “I don’t think this is necessarily even wrong. [Pols emphasis] Could it have been handled better? Sure. But it is not something that, I think, is suggesting this president was trying to interfere in an ongoing criminal investigation or trying to affect the outcome of an election in 2020.

In order for Rep. Buck to suggest that this wasn’t “necessarily even wrong,” he has to ignore all of the context of this story in addition to the phone call in question–the freezing of hundreds of millions of dollars in foreign aid just before the call and un-freezing of the aid in its aftermath, Trump’s private attorney Rudy Giuliani who Trump told the Ukrainian president would “be in touch” along with Attorney General William Barr, the resignation of the special envoy to Ukraine Kurt Volker on Friday…the list goes on and on. It’s true that Republicans are being asked to swallow a lot here in order to stay loyal, but for Ken Buck apparently no encouragement is needed to put his own credibility on the line in defense of Trump. To the point of absurdity:

“Vice President Biden is not going to be the Democratic nominee,” Buck added. [Pols emphasis] “I think that is more than just conventional wisdom at this point. And what the president was doing involved a matter within the scope of the executive branch.”

Whether or not Democratic primary voters ultimately agree, it’s widely known that Trump considers Joe Biden to be his most dangerous potential Democratic adversary. Biden may be in a tight three-way race for the Democratic presidential nomination, but to assert flat-out that Biden is “not going to be the nominee” is a ridiculous attempt at clairvoyance. It’s a useful thing to say if the goal is to minimize Trump’s actions, but as a prediction it simply it has no factual basis.

In recent months Ken Buck’s reputation has been under heavy assault, as his early support for recalling Colorado Democrats collapsed in a heap along with those efforts and his absentee management of the Colorado Republican Party has allowed the conservative backlash coming out of the 2019 legislative session to dissipate in confusion. But it should be noted that Buck’s questionable judgment goes back to his days as a deputy U.S. Attorney where he was reprimanded for damaging the case against a politically-connected gun dealer and then as Weld County DA, when a sexual assault case Buck dismissed as “buyer’s remorse” helped seal his narrow defeat in the 2010 U.S. Senate race.

As rumors of Buck’s retirement continue to swirl, nobody’s quite sure what his next move will be.

But we sincerely hope he’ll never be asked to prosecute another case.

The Get More Smarter Podcast: Episode 9

This week: Cory Gardner is very sad, a celebration of saying nothing, one more recall to spell out, a fundraiser mystery (sort of) in Aspen, a clever chess move in a Denver primary race, and thinning out the Democratic Senate primary! With Ian Silverii on vacation, host Jason Bane trots Progress Now Colorado political director Alan Franklin out of his mom’s basement to fill in. A full transcript follows after the jump.

The Get More Smarter Podcast is also available on Apple Podcasts, Buzzcloud, Spotify, and Overcast. You can also follow the Podcast on Twitter @MoreSmarterShow. Thanks for listening!

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Ken Buck’s “Spell R-E-C-A-L-L” Speech Bites Back Hard


Colorado GOP chairman Rep. Ken Buck (R).

The Denver Post’s Anna Staver wrote an excellent post-mortem of the Colorado Republican Party’s failed summer of recalls this past weekend, and here’s how it starts:

When Congressman Ken Buck took the reins of the Colorado Republican Party in March, he stood on the stage in Englewood High School’s auditorium and told the party faithful they were going to teach Democrats “how to spell R-E-C-A-L-L.”

The room erupted in applause…

[I]n the nearly six months since that fiery speech in the high school auditorium, conservatives have tried to recall five Democratic lawmakers and the governor. Four of those campaigns failed to gather enough signatures to put a recall election on the ballot, one recall target resigned for unrelated reasons, and the attempt to remove Senate President Leroy Garcia, D-Pueblo, is ongoing. His opponents have until Oct. 18 to turn in their petitions.

“I think the recall process has done what it was supposed to do,” said former GOP chair Dick Wadhams. “It provided an outlet for Republicans. … Were they politically smart? I think it’s a resounding no.”

As the Republican recall threats that dominated the end of the 2019 session of the Colorado General Assembly have collapsed under their own weight in the last two weeks, Rep. Ken Buck’s speech in late March before the GOP state convention committing the party to support for recalls against Democratic lawmakers with dramatic flair has emerged as a symbol of the party’s incompetent reaction to massive defeat in the 2018 elections. Moderate GOP columnist Mario Nicolais writes in the Colorado Sun:

Rep. Ken Buck took the reins of the Colorado Republican Party promising to “teach [Democrats] how to spell r-e-c-a-l-l.” Vice Chair Kristi Burton Brown initiated the recall against state Sen. Tom Sullivan. Former state House candidate Nancy Pallozzi targeted her historical nemesis state Sen. Brittany Pettersen.

Heading into a critical 2020 election year, the Colorado Republicans spent the past six months demonstrating an ineffectual ground game and undermining their own credibility. That doesn’t bode well for President Trump’s reelection efforts or Sen. Cory Gardner’s slim hope of hanging onto the seat he narrowly won in 2014.

Mike Littwin of the Colorado Independent:

When the effort to recall state Rep. Tom Sullivan failed just as spectacularly as the recall-Polis movement, I asked whether the Colorado GOP knew enough to be embarrassed. I think we have now answered that question. The attempt to recall Polis may not have been an official GOP project, but it’s close enough. Marianne Goodland of Colorado Politics reports that groups aligned with House Minority Leader Patrick Neville donated $10,000 to the effort.

And remember Ken Buck’s speech when he was elected GOP state chair last March, promising Democrats would need to learn how to spell r-e-c-a-l-l in the coming months? We remember Sen. Cory Gardner standing on the stage in support of Buck.

Jim Spehar in the Grand Junction Sentinel:

The correct spelling is in the headline. Your dictionary (for those of a certain age) or spell-check (for those who don’t remember or never used that heavy old bound Webster’s) will confirm it. The alternative spelling, at least for disgruntled conservatives and Colorado Republicans, is F-A-I-L.

My GOP friends need to forward that alternative spelling to their state party chair. It was Ken Buck, whose day job is representing Colorado’s 4th congressional district, who pledged at the party’s last state convention that “we’re going to teach them (Democrats) how to spell R-E-C-A-L-L.” To applause, it’s worth noting, from the only two remaining Republicans officeholders elected statewide, Sen. Cory Gardner and University of Colorado Regent Heidi Ganahl.

Republican sources tell us that there is a fierce intraparty debate underway today on both sides of “recall season” as to how seriously Rep. Buck’s absentee leadership of the Colorado GOP contributed to the failures. On the one hand, Buck certainly could have (and in retrospect should have) intervened in the filing of the doomed recall petition against Rep. Tom Sullivan, the failure of which effectively stymied any momentum Republicans had coming out of the legislative session. On the other hand, Buck is widely rumored to have discouraged the Polis recall behind the scenes, helping further alienate the party’s radical wing after paying them lip service.

Perhaps most telling in all of this is that Staver reports Rep. Buck couldn’t be reached for comment on how the spelling lesson ended up! At this point, that’s probably Buck’s best option. Comparing the rhetoric to the outcome of the now-faceplanted “summer of recalls” is an embarrassment to more than Ken Buck, but there’s only one chairman.

Perhaps it’s time to hang up both hats.

House Minority Leader Attacks Fellow Republicans Over Fundraising Groups

(This is going swimmingly — Promoted by Colorado Pols)

House Minority Leader Patrick Neville took to the airwaves to attack his Republican colleagues last week. He dismissed the fundraising efforts of his former state Reps. Dan Thurlow and Polly Lawerence, calling them “the JV squad.”

The pair of former legislators, considered “establishment” Republicans compared to the far-right Minority Leader, launched an independent expenditure committee to support GOP legislative candidates. Former Attorney General Cynthia Coffman and other Republicans have since joined the group, Friends Of The Future, as advisors.

During a Sept. 6 appearance on KNUS 710AM’s Chuck & Julie Show, Neville mocked the moderate politicians for imitating his small-dollar fundraising prowess:

“They’re kind of like the JV squad reuniting, wearing their letter jackets and talking about all the great things they did. Imitation is the biggest form of flattery, so in this case they’re seeing how successful we’re being with developing a small dollar donor base so we don’t have to be totally dependent on these large donations from corporations or other big donors…” House Minority Leader Patrick Neville, KNUS, 9/6/19

Asked by KNUS host Julie Hayden which Republican fundraising entities conservatives should support, Neville briefly mentioned his official House 527 Values First Colorado, but quickly moved on to promote “Recall Colorado,” another 527 Neville and his brother Joe created, ostensibly to separate their recall fundraising from their regular election cycle work.

Values First Colorado is the official House 527 and then we also have RecallColorado.com. We’re transforming that into small dollar donations that we’re really trying to turn into a base that we can hand off towards future election cycles so that’s really main effort that we’ve put into it. It’s becoming Take Back Colorado, now that we’re getting past the recall cycles and getting closer to 2020, we’re running out of time to initiate a lot of these recalls. So that’s what we’re going to transform that into. So recallcolorado.com, there you go.”

Neville’s claim that he’s transforming Recall Colorado into “Take Back Colorado” (TBC) as part of an effort to shift from “recall cycles” to “future election cycles” is interesting for a few reasons.

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Get More Smarter on Wednesday (August 21)

After a slow start to the week, things are heating up quickly in Political Land. 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.

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

President Trump had another bad day on Tuesday. As Dan Balz writes for the Washington Post:

He poked another U.S. ally in the eye, questioned the loyalty of American Jews, backpedaled on gun legislation and undercut the denials of his advisers on the economy. It was just another normal day in the Trump administration.

Take this quartet case collectively and it portrays an administration and White House in chaos, lacking in systematic policymaking. It portrays a president who changes his mind whenever it suits him, whose statements change with the moment, and who uses words carelessly and sometimes destructively. It forms a pattern of dissembling, of deliberate or unknowing falsehoods as well as efforts to divide already divided Americans from one another.

Trump is spending part of his day today slinging barbs at Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen, whom he says said “nasty” things about his dumbass idea to try to buy Greenland. As Chris Cillizza writes for CNN, this Greenland nonsense is the perfect metaphor for Trump’s Presidency.

Trump is also further inflaming his comments about Jewish voters, as USA Today explains:

Speaking to press on Wednesday, Donald Trump reiterated his earlier comments on Israel, saying “In my opinion, if you vote for a Democrat you’re being very disloyal to Jewish people and you’re being very disloyal to Israel.”

“I have been responsible for a lot of great things for Israel,” Trump said.

This is the second time Trump has expressed this sentiment, which prompted backlash on Tuesday from Jewish Americans. Trump, though, said his assertions are not anti-Semitic.

The Chair of the Colorado Democratic Party, Morgan Carroll, had harsh words for Trump on Tuesday.

 

Cardboard Cory is getting a lot of love around the state during the August recess. The same can not be said of the real guy, Sen. Cory Gardner. Here’s more on the “Since You’ve Been Gone” tour from the Ft. Collins Coloradoan and the Greeley Tribune.

Gardner, meanwhile, continues to avoid public events in Colorado. At a posh fundraiser in the Denver area earlier this week (hosted by former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley) Gardner spoke to reporters and it did not go very well.

 

► You can mark this down in the category of “Completely Unsurprising Political News.” As 9News reports:

The group trying to recall Democratic Governor Jared Polis could choose not to turn in the signatures they’ve gathered. And that might be a smart strategy.

The poorly-funded effort to recall Polis is declining whether to say if organizers are even approaching the 631,266 signatures needed as they approach a September 6th deadline.

No petition signature-gathering effort in Colorado history has needed so many signatures. The amount represents 25% of the votes cast in the last election….

…[Dismiss Polis spokeswoman Karen Kataline] confirmed that recall organizers will not submit the gathered signatures to the Secretary of State for verification if they believe they will fall short of the required 631,266 valid signatures.

Of course the recall Polis groups aren’t going to get enough signatures. But that was never really the point. Getting paid was the point.

 

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Get More Smarter on Friday (August 16)

We should just buy all of the islands. 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.

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

President Trump is apparently getting nervous about the economy — mostly for what it means related to his 2020 re-election. From the Washington Post:

Mounting signs of global economic distress this week have alarmed President Trump, who is worried that a downturn could imperil his reelection, even as administration officials acknowledge that they have not planned for a possible recession.

Trump is banking on a strong economy to win a second term in 2020, and in recent weeks he has impulsively lashed out at the Federal Reserve, pressured Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin to label China a “currency manipulator,” and unexpectedly delayed tariffs on Chinese imports out of fear they could depress holiday retail sales.

Yet despite gyrations in the U.S. stock market and economic slowdowns in other countries, officials in the White House, at the Treasury Department and throughout the administration are planning no new steps to attempt to stave off a recession. Rather, Trump’s economic advisers have been delivering the president upbeat assessments in which they argue that the domestic economy is stronger than many forecasters are making it out to be.

President Trump might be setting up Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell to take the fall for any potential economic troubles, but as Catherine Rampell writes in a separate story for the Washington Post, there’s no real plan from the White House:

If things go south, this administration doesn’t have a plan. It never had a plan. And it doesn’t have competent personnel in place to come up with a plan.

Trump’s economic brain trust consists of a guy who plays an economist on TV, a crank  who has been disowned by the (real) economics profession and the producer of “The Lego Batman Movie.”

D’oh!

 

► “So whether you love me or hate me, you’ve got to vote for me,” said President Trump at a campaign rally in New Hampshire on Thursday. 

 

► House Minority Leader and recall grifter Pat Neville says that he is personally responsible for talking President Trump out of supporting so-called “red flag” laws in the aftermath of the Parkland High School shootings in Florida last year.

 

► An astonishing 67% of Americans support an assault weapons ban, according to polling conducted on behalf of Fox News. As CNN’s Chris Cillizza explains:

Yes, there is something of a partisan divide on the question — with 86% of Democrats favoring a ban on automatic and semiautomatic weapons, while 46% of Republicans feel the same. But look at it another way: On a proposal that is widely regarded in GOP congressional circles as a non-starter because it is going too far in limiting guns, self-identified Republicans are split right down the middle — 46% support, 46% oppose.

Among Republican women — one of the key swing voting blocs heading into 2020, a majority (54%) support an assault weapons ban, while just 36% oppose it. And even a majority of people in gun-owning households (53%) support an assault weapons ban.

There hasn’t been an assault weapons ban in place in the United States since the last one expired in 2004, after a decade on the books. Attempts to renew it in 2004 failed — due at least in part, to a heightened national security climate in the wake of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks and a lack of urgency from the Bush White House.

 

 

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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.

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► 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.

 

 

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Get More Smarter on Wednesday (August 7)

Welcome back to school, kids. 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.

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

President Trump is visiting Toledo Dayton, Ohio and El Paso, Texas today in the wake of last weekend’s mass shootings. As the Associated Press reports:

Protesters greeted President Donald Trump’s arrival in Dayton Wednesday, blaming his incendiary rhetoric for inflaming political and racial tensions in the country, as he visited survivors of last weekend’s mass shootings and saluted first responders.

Critics say Trump’s own words have contributed to a combustible climate that can spawn violence such as the outbreaks in Dayton and El Paso, Texas.

Trump rejected that assertion as he left the White House, strongly criticizing those who say he bears some responsibility for the nation’s divisions.

“My critics are political people,” Trump said, noting the apparent political leanings of the shooter in the Dayton killings and suggesting the man was supportive of Democrats.

If pointing fingers healed wounds, President Trump would be our greatest surgeon.

 

► Republican politicians are starting to poke their heads up after a week of mass shootings in the United States and realizing that we have a gun violence problem on our hands. James Hohmann of the Washington Post explains the latest convert:

When the National Rifle Association endorsed Rep. Mike Turner (R-Ohio) for a ninth term last fall, the group noted that he’s consistently maintained an “A” rating and has been “solidly pro-gun.” Literature sent to members emphasized Turner’s opposition to expanding background checks and banning assault weapons, as well as his past vote to immunize gun manufacturers from liability and to force all states, regardless of their own laws, to recognize concealed carry permits issued anywhere else.

In the wee hours of Sunday morning, Turner’s daughter and a family friend had just entered the Tumbleweed Connection bar in Dayton when a gunman opened fire across the street. Nine people were killed, and 27 were injured. The congressman’s daughter ran home, as he prayed for her and the community.

On Tuesday afternoon, Turner announced that he’s had a change of heart on gun control.He said he would vote for an assault weapons ban, limits on the size of gun magazines and for a federal “red flag” law that would make it easier to “quickly identify people who are dangerous” so their firearms can be taken away.

“The carnage these military style weapons are able to produce when available to the wrong people is intolerable,” Turner said in a statement. “I understand not every shooting can be prevented or stopped from these measures, but I do believe these steps are essential. … This tragedy must become a catalyst for a broader national conversation about what we can do to stop these mass shootings.”

As the saying goes, “Where there’s a will, there’s a way.” Unfortunately, there is still not yet enough of a will from Republicans to seriously address gun violence. President Trump said Wednesday that he sees “no political appetite” for renewing a long-expired ban on assault rifles in the United States, though he left open the possibility that he would support calling Congress back into session to expand background checks for gun purchases. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is facing increased pressure to act on gun violence but has so far continued to refuse to even debate a pair of bills passed in February by the House of Representatives.

 

► Plans to move the headquarters of the Bureau of Land Management to Colorado were met with skepticism from those who worried that the real motivation for the move was to kill off the agency altogether. Those concerns are now being realized.

 

 

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It’s Official: The Colorado GOP Is Totally Out Of Control

UPDATE #2: Sen. Cory Gardner toes the Dudley Brown line, says the Denver Post’s Justin Wingerter:

Sen. Cory Gardner took some questions in Aspen yesterday.

“I don’t support gun control,” he said of dealing with the weekend shootings. [Pols emphasis]

There it is, folks. Cory Gardner is RMGO’s man to the bitter end.

—–

UPDATE: Given that Dudley Brown told 9NEWS that Sen. Cory Gardner should face a primary if he supports a “red flag” law like President Donald Trump, here’s what Gardner told radio host Craig Silverman back in May:

Well, look, I think we have to prevent violence and we should protect our communities, but we can’t violate the Constitution. And you know, we cannot allow other rights and people’s — innocent people’s rights — to be taken in the name of trying to protect other innocent people’s rights. That’s not what the Constitution is about. Let’s find ways to stop the scourge of violence without harming people’s liberties.

And with that, recall how Cory Gardner was one of Dudley Brown’s early success stories (see below).

When we say Dudley Brown is the Colorado Republican Party, we mean it.

—–

Cory Gardner, Dudley Brown.

In the last 72 hours, events have transpired nationally that would under any normal circumstances have resulted in an instant sea change in Colorado politics. In the aftermath of two mass shootings in separate states within hours of each other that have killed over 30 people and wounded dozens more, President Donald Trump has called for the passage of extreme risk protection order legislation–“red flag” laws like the one passed in Colorado this year following the preventable killing of a Douglas County deputy sheriff.

ERPO laws enjoy overwhelming public support both nationally and in Colorado, where a 2017 survey found 80% of voters in support of laws to give family and law enforcement a court process to temporarily remove guns from people judged to an evidentiary standard to be a significant risk. It’s therefore not politically hard to understand why Trump would come out in support of them.

In Colorado, though, there’s a problem–the fact that Republicans are working to recall Democratic lawmakers and Gov. Jared Polis for passing Colorado’s “red flag” law. And the word today from our local news outlets is that even President Donald Trump can’t reason with the Colorado Republican Party. The Denver Post’s Justin Wingerter:

Dudley Brown, the director of Rocky Mountain Gun Owners, which is suing to stop Colorado’s red-flag law from taking effect, slammed Trump’s remarks Monday. “You cannot infringe on the gun rights of millions of law-abiding Americans based on the actions of lawless madmen,” he said.

“Let me be crystal clear. Forcing universal (background) checks and red-flag gun confiscation laws on Americans would have done nothing to stop either of these murderers. They went through the failed and unconstitutional National Instant Criminal Background Check system,” Brown added.

Brown said 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, regardless of political party.

It’s important to understand exactly what Dudley Brown of Rocky Mountain Gun Owners is saying here. Not only is he against red flag laws, Brown just called the existing instant background check system used for almost all gun sales today “unconstitutional.” Not the “universal” background checks that have been law in Colorado since 2013–Brown is actually asserting that all gun purchase background checks are unconstitutional.

For those of us who understand just how far out of the mainstream Brown and RMGO really are, this isn’t news. But realizing how extreme RMGO is on the issue of keeping guns out of the hands of criminals is critical to grasping the next critical point: RMGO effectively owns the Colorado Republican Party. Dudley Brown actually told 9NEWS yesterday that Sen. Cory Gardner, one of ther nation’s most vulnerable Republican Senators, should be primaried if he joins Trump in supporting a red flag law. And as 9NEWS’ Marshall Zelinger reports:

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Get More Smarter on Thursday (August 1)

Welcome to August, friends. It’s time to “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.

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► The U.S. Senate passed a broad new spending agreement that completely ignores Republican claims to be “fiscally conservative.” As the Washington Post reports:

The Senate passed a broad, two-year budget deal Thursday that boosts spending and eliminates the threat of a debt default until past the 2020 election, while reducing chances for another government shutdown. The legislation now goes to President Trump, who is expected to sign it despite conservative complaints that it will fuel the nation’s runaway debt…

…Republican leaders including Trump himself had been working to round up GOP support ahead of Thursday’s vote, trying to avoid a repeat of the outcome in the House last week, when a majority of Republican lawmakers ignored Trump’s pleas and voted against the deal. It passed the House anyway, on the strength of Democratic votes. The lobbying effort paid off in the Senate as more Republicans voted in favor of the deal than against it.

The agreement heads off several looming fiscal threats, most immediately the possibility that the Treasury Department could have run out of money to pay its bills as early as September if Congress didn’t act, resulting in a market-shattering default on U.S. obligations.

The deal passed Thursday suspends the debt ceiling through July 31, 2021, removing the threat of default and the accompanying risk of political brinkmanship that typically accompanies debt limit negotiations. It lifts strict Obama-era spending caps that would otherwise slash indiscriminately into agency and military budgets, and sets overall spending levels that will make it easier for lawmakers to write the individual appropriations bills needed to keep the government open past Oct. 1, when current agency budgets expire.

Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) was among the Republicans who had been waffling on a new spending agreement, expressing half-hearted concern about deficits while conveniently ignoring the budgetary peril they inflicted with massive tax cuts for the wealthy in late 2017.

 

► We could be just days away from Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) claiming credit for free full-day kindergarten in Colorado. On Wednesday, Gardner made the ballsy and completely baseless boast that he helped Colorado secure approval for a “reinsurance” program that could cut healthcare costs for Coloradans by as much as 18% in 2020. Credit for this program actually goes to Gov. Jared Polis and Democrats in the state legislature, who have worked for years to implement this cost-saving measure.

Colorado journalists, including Kyle Clark of 9News, saw right through Gardner’s nonsense:

► We’ve made it through the second round of debates for candidates seeking the Democratic Presidential nomination. Chris Cillizza of CNN lists his “winners and losers” from Wednesday night, while Ed Rogers of the Washington Post doesn’t give high marks to either Colorado-based contender, former Gov. John Hickenlooper or Sen. Michael Bennet. Hickenlooper and Bennet had brief moments in Detroit, but neither did well enough to likely keep them in the race for much longer. As Nic Garcia writes for the Denver Post, it is Hickenlooper who might be the first to depart:

John Hickenlooper’s campaign for the presidency was always a longshot. Now, after another lusterless debate performance, national political observers and some of his closest allies are wondering when — not if — the former Colorado governor will end his quixotic bid for the White House.

At best, Hickenlooper’s friends are split on whether he should persist in seeking the Democratic nomination or bow out. State party insiders are annoyed with Hickenlooper — some openly pushing him to run for the U.S. Senate instead. Others merely dismiss him as a relic of a political era gone by.

“I think he’s done,” a former Hickenlooper aide told The Denver Post.

Like many former gubernatorial and campaign staff members interviewed for this article, he spoke on the condition of anonymity to protect his relationship with Hickenlooper.

“I think his team will know in the next two days after they see the numbers and analyze other data,” the former aide said. “But my sense is he’s not going to see that.”

 

Get even more smarter after the jump…

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House GOP Chief Of Staff Pfaff Answers Accusation Of Threatening Fellow Republican

(Republican Party events are probably great fun these days — Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Colorado Republicans continue to air internal disputes over the airwaves and social media, accusing and denying various claims of blackmail, threats and extortion.

House GOP Chief of Staff Jim Pfaff joined KNUS’ Chuck & Julie show for an hour-long interview on Monday. Responding to ongoing claims in a Denver Post column by former El Paso County Chair Josh Hosler that he threatened Hosler’s family, Pfaff technically denied the accusation, but with some significant qualifications:

KNUS host Julie Hayden: I mean one of the things he did in [the op-ed] is he attacked you for saying you were going to attack his family, right?
Pfaff: “It’s just amazing that he has been implying that the whole time. Now, if he feels threatened or whatever, I don’t– all I did was just tell him, “What if I were threatening you.” I didn’t threaten to threaten him. I didn’t say I was going to do it. And obviously, after the phone call, I didn’t.”

Listen to the exchange here, which begins with Hayden’s radio partner Chuck Bonniwell reading from Hosler’s guest column:

Pfaff also explained the origins of the dispute, recounting Hosler’s issues with Rocky Mountain Gun Owners (RMGO) president Dudley Brown:

House Minority Chief of Staff Jim Pfaff: About mid-May, someone told me that Josh was putting together a book to try to expose Dudley Brown and RMGO for personal issues. And I’m like, “WHAT?!” But I kind of pawned it off for a little bit, until I got a call from someone who …would have been dragged through the mud by what Josh was trying to claim with Dudley, had they talked to him. Well, fast forward [to] just a few days after that, and he and I are having a Twitter battle over this whole thing. We’re ramping up — [Colorado Republican Party Vice Chair] Kristi Brown is ramping up the whole recall. And I’m like, going back and forth on Twitter with him, like, “Can we just back off of this? Why are we fighting together? We got to get this thing going! Maybe it won’t work, but it’s definitely not going to work if we’re all in a circular firing squad.

The recall Pfaff is referring to was the failed attempt to remove Rep. Tom Sullivan (D-Centennial), a joint effort of RMGO and the Colorado Republican Party. Although embraced by Minority Leader Neville and Vice Chair Brown, (both considered RMGO allies) the wisdom of the longshot endeavor had been questioned by other GOP officials and leaders.

Hosler stands by his column, saying via email that he has a recording of Pfaff’s threat that he has shared with others and that the Denver Post would not have printed his column without that recording. In an email, Editorial Page Editor Megan Schrader said that while she had not heard a recording of the call, in the fact-check she conducted with Pfaff he did not refute the conversation he had and that he would let Hosler’s statement stand on its own.

Rep. Dave Williams

Hosler also confirmed the claims made on Facebook by El Paso County GOP Women President Missy Ward, that Rep. Dave Williams (R-Colorado Springs) shared false rumors about Hosler w/ Pfaff in an attempt to blackmail him. Hosler further accused Williams of using those same rumors to “extort” him last year:

“While I was Chairman of El Paso County Rep Party, Rep. Williams tried to use the same rumors that Pfaff tried to use to extort me. Rep Williams said if I didn’t make sure he did not get a primary in 2018 he would smear me with the same false rumors he shared with Pfaff.”

Pfaff posted a link to his radio interview on Facebook, calling the dispute a “petty situation” and saying he “answered the accusations made against [him] by Josh Hosler.”

Rep. Mark Baisley (R-Roxborough Park) supported Pfaff on Facebook, commenting:

“I listened live to your interview, Jim. I believe that you clarified matters. It was not a case of getting too cozy with [Rocky Mountain Gun Owners]. Rather, some leftover tenderness from a lost election that did not seem fair to Josh.”

Longtime Colorado conservative Matt Arnold, who is the filing agent for Neville’s House GOP caucus fund, Values First Colorado, took issue with Bailey’s assertion that Republicans can’t afford this much infighting because a “far more determined and cruel enemy is lurking.” Arnold tracked Pfaff’s complaints about “establishment GOP operatives mucking up the system,” saying that the GOP’s real enemy is the “establishment crony class.”

Pfaff’s comments about the establishment echo those he made on the radio, when he told the hosts:

There is a cadre of consultants who make a lot of money by keeping the status quo that we’ve lived with for the last 15 years. I complained about it when I was chairman of the Douglas County Republican Party and on the state committee. This has been a problem for a long, long time. I’ve been a consultant myself in previous years, prior to going to Washington D.C., and I don’t have a problem with people making money doing consulting. My problem is that they’re not about winning.

Throwback Thursday: Cory Gardner, Meet Dudley Brown

As Republicans bicker in hindsight over the takeover of the Colorado Republican Party in recent years by hard-right elements supported by the Rocky Mountain Gun Owners advocacy group, which has led the party down a path of increasingly unelectable candidates and such political self-made disasters as the recent failed attempt to recall freshman Rep. Tom Sullivan from office, we thought it would be useful to recall a time, not so long ago, when Dudley Brown and his strident friends were welcomed into the fold by the state’s highest ranking Republicans. In 2010 when this photo was taken, the “Tea Party” insurgency against President Barack Obama was in full swing, and then-state Rep. Cory Gardner was delighted to accept Dudley’s money and brand support.

RMGO may be a scapegoat in today’s short-attention-span news cycle, but they’ve been shaping both the makeup and the direction of the Republican Party for many years. Cory Gardner knows it better than most, because he’s been a favorite of RMGO and the “softie” National Rifle Association for his whole career.

On the upside, Gardner hasn’t aged a day in ten years, has he?

Get More Smarter on Wednesday (July 10)

Can we just trade Mississippi to another country? It’s time to “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 a visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show.

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

 Congressman Jason Crow (D-Aurora) is stepping up his efforts to increase accountability for immigrant detention facilities. As Colorado Public Radio reports, Crow says he will make weekly visits to a privately-run detention facility in Aurora:

The move is part of Crow’s effort to provide proper supervision of the facility, which he believes Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the Department of Homeland Security are not currently providing.

“They’re refusing to conduct the oversight and make some of the changes that need to be made,” Crow explained. “So, we’re going to conduct that oversight.”

Crow has been denied entry to the facility in the past. He expects the weekly visits to begin Monday at 12 p.m. MT. Crow’s staff plan to follow the guidelines provided in ICE’s 2011 Performance-Based National Detention Standards and will make their findings available online.

 

► As Westword reports, Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) is taking more heat for his silence as a court battle proceeds over the fate of Obamacare:

As yet another Republican legal challenge to the Affordable Care Act makes its way through the courts, Colorado Democrats are sounding the alarm over its potentially devastating impact on the state’s health care system — and blasting Senator Cory Gardner for his continued silence on the lawsuit.

“This would do irrevocable harm to consumers,” said Adam Fox, director of strategic engagement for the Colorado Consumer Health Initiative, on Tuesday, July 9. “It would leave millions without insurance options, it would throw our health care system into chaos, and it would threaten our state’s fiscal stability.”

Fox and other health policy experts spoke to reporters as the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans heard oral arguments in Texas v. Azar, the latest in a long line of Republican attempts to overturn the ACA, also known as Obamacare, through Congress and the courts…

…Democrats have pressed Gardner, widely viewed as the most vulnerable Republican senator in the 2020 election, to take a position on Texas v. Azar, but he has repeatedly declined to comment, most recently claiming in May that he hadn’t seen a brief  filed by the Trump administration in support of the lawsuit. Gardner’s office did not respond on Tuesday to multiple inquiries regarding his views on the lawsuit. [Pols emphasis]

Don’t stop us if you’ve heard that before.

 

► Poll results released Tuesday on the Democratic race for U.S. Senate in Colorado indicate that likely Primary voters are still very much undecided on whom to support against incumbent Republican Sen. Cory Gardner. The numbers show Secretary of State Jena Griswold just behind former House Speaker Andrew Romanoff, though it turns out that the polling was commissioned through a PAC that is supportive of a potential Griswold Senate bid.

 

Get even more smarter after the jump…

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Get More Smarter on Monday (July 8)

We’ve got a lot to catch up on after a long holiday weekend. It’s time to “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 a visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show.

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

 President Trump announced late last week that he planned to continue efforts to get a citizenship question placed on the 2020 Census form…comments that came just hours after Justice Department attorneys acknowledged that their legal arguments in this regard were essentially worthless. As the Washington Post reports, a new group of saps now must take up Trump’s cause:

The Justice Department is swapping out the lawyers who had been representing the administration in its legal battle to put a question about citizenship on the 2020 Census, possibly signaling career attorneys’ legal or ethical concerns over the maneuvering ordered by President Trump.

The department announced the move in a statement, which was issued after The Washington Post inquired about whether the career lawyers on the team planned to withdraw. A person familiar with the matter, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations, said that at least some of the career attorneys harbored concerns about the administration’s handling of the case — although the nature of those concerns and how widespread they were could not immediately be learned…

…the entire team on the case — both those in political positions and career employees who have served multiple administrations — will be replaced with political and career lawyers from the department’s Civil Division and Consumer Protection Branch. Several career members of the team declined to comment to The Post.

Colorado Republicans continue to pursue half-baked recall attempts against a number of Democratic elected officials. But as Anna Staver writes for the Denver Post, these efforts may be helping Democrats more than they are harming them:

About 75 people showed up in Lakewood on a balmy Sunday morning at the end of June to knock on doors for Democratic state Sen. Brittany Pettersen.

It was an unusual sight — even for residents of a swing district. State lawmakers rarely canvass with an army of volunteers in the years they aren’t up for election, but Pettersen walked her community that weekend because Republican Nancy Pallozzi, who previously ran against Pettersen, announced a plan to recall her from office…

…Wadhams and other Republicans have started to worry that all these recall efforts — most of which they believe to be doomed from the start — are actually playing into the hands of Democrats. Potential recall targets are raking in six-figure donations from national groups and mobilizing their bases to knock on thousands of doors.

“I think this approach is terribly misguided and will end up strengthening the vast majority of Democratic legislators, if not all of them,” he said.

Meanwhile, Republican infighting is getting out of control, with one former county party official openly condemning attacks from Rocky Mountain Gun Owners (RMGO) and the Neville Clan. Check out these two Op-Eds that ran over the weekend, penned by well-known Colorado Republicans who are tired of what has happened to their Party. Former El Paso County GOP Chair Joshua Hosler’s Op-Ed for the Denver Post is particularly jarring:

In May I spoke out on social media. RMGO had launched an effort to recall Rep. Tom Sullivan, the Democrat who had defeated Wist and taken his seat in the Colorado House. Members of the Republican Party’s leadership supported RMGO’s efforts and this felt like a mistake…[a]fter that post, I received three calls from anonymous men who threatened me and my family if I did not back off RMGO and Dudley Brown. No one messes with my family, especially cowards. [Pols emphasis]

Then things got worse. On May 30th at 2:50 p.m. I received a call from the chief of staff for the Colorado House Republicans. Jim Pfaff works directly for House Minority Leader Patrick Neville. He asked when I was going to stop attacking RMGO and Dudley Brown. I responded, “I am not going to stop.”

Pfaff then threatened to smear me with rumors — false rumors that I had heard before from someone close to RMGO trying to influence my decisions — that I had rigged the party chair election and had inappropriate relationships with women in the Republican Party. I told Pfaff that I had already heard those fake rumors and it was old news. Pfaff stated, “I am sure I will find more on you.”

House Minority Leader Patrick Neville’s Chief of Staff, Jim Pfaff, did not dispute this story in response to an inquiry from the Post, and RMGO Executive Director Dudley Brown confirmed that he bullies and threatens candidates when he disagrees with their policy positions.

 

Get even more smarter after the jump…

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House GOP CoS Threatens Fellow Republican Over RMGO

UPDATE: In a column for the Colorado Sun today, GOP attorney Mario Nicolais drives home a similar theme, practically begging fellow Republicans to see reason and focus on rebuilding ahead of the 2020 elections instead of recalls that feel good but ultimately backfire:

Ironically, as the Colorado Republican Party shrinks, its center shifts to the loudest, most ardent voices who have driven away other members of the coalition. The result is a slow, downward spiral that quickens as it closes in on the bottom.

In Colorado, that quickening became evident last year as Republicans lost all levers of power across the state, often by surprisingly large margins. The Republican reaction has been to channel the same energy into recall elections, presumably to take advantage of smaller electorates and concentrated resources.

Unfortunately for Colorado Republicans, the recent spat of recall elections only emphasized an inability to aggregate enough energy and clout to be effective, even in the most hospitable circumstances. That bodes very ominous for Republican hopes of winning back legislative seats, protecting Sen. Cory Gardner, or delivering the state’s electoral votes to President Trump in 2020.

When Congressman Ken Buck took the reins of the Colorado Republican Party in March, he declared the party needed to teach Democrats “to spell r-e-c-a-l-l.” As it turns out, the primary lesson to be drawn from recent recalls is that Republicans must learn how to spell “r-e-b-u-i-l-d” if they hope to remain relevant in Colorado politics.

Smart Republicans are saying it. Is there anyone listening? Anyone who isn’t afraid of the threats that will follow (see below) if they speak out too? We’ll have to wait and see how it ends. Like the Godfather movies, it’s far healthier to watch this drama than be part of it.

—–

House Minority Leader Patrick Neville (R-Castle Rock).

As Colorado politics starts to come alive again after a long holiday weekend, in today’s Denver Post we’re shocked to read in an op-ed from former El Paso County GOP chairman Joshua Hosler about threats he has received in recent weeks over his opposition to the failed recall attempt against Rep. Tom Sullivan–and the influence of the far-right Rocky Mountain Gun Owners over the Colorado Republican Party at manifold levels.

Hosler, a combat veteran, seems to have been the wrong guy to mess with:

In May I spoke out on social media. RMGO had launched an effort to recall Rep. Tom Sullivan, the Democrat who had defeated Wist and taken his seat in the Colorado House. Members of the Republican Party’s leadership supported RMGO’s efforts and this felt like a mistake…[a]fter that post, I received three calls from anonymous men who threatened me and my family if I did not back off RMGO and Dudley Brown. No one messes with my family, especially cowards. [Pols emphasis]

Then things got worse. On May 30th at 2:50 p.m. I received a call from the chief of staff for the Colorado House Republicans. Jim Pfaff works directly for House Minority Leader Patrick Neville. He asked when I was going to stop attacking RMGO and Dudley Brown. I responded, “I am not going to stop.”

Pfaff then threatened to smear me with rumors — false rumors that I had heard before from someone close to RMGO trying to influence my decisions — that I had rigged the party chair election and had inappropriate relationships with women in the Republican Party. I told Pfaff that I had already heard those fake rumors and it was old news. Pfaff stated, “I am sure I will find more on you.”

That the chief of state for the Colorado House Republican minority, Jim Pfaff, is the one who threatened Hosler on behalf of RMGO is extremely important to fully process. RMGO’s controversial history of attacking insufficiently strident Republicans and stacking GOP primaries with candidates personally loyal to Dudley Brown has essentially transformed the party into Brown’s fiefdom–especially where his closest allies in the Neville family hold sway. The Neville political dynasty in particular owes much of its power to RMGO’s support both for their family and their political allies, so much so that today’s it’s impossible to say where RMGO ends and the party begins in Minority Leader Patrick Neville’s House minority.

Needless to say, it’s even harder now.

The ill-fated Sullivan recall attempt was not just a product of RMGO, it was backed at the highest levels of the Colorado Republican Party. The Sullivan petition was filed by Colorado GOP vice-chair Kristi Burton Brown, who although no relation to Dudley Brown has a long work history with the Nevilles as their committee filing agent. We now know that the “official” Sullivan recall committee claims to have raised and spent nothing, meaning all of the donations and spending for this recall filed by the state party vice chair went through RMGO.

It’s clear that there are Republicans in this state who want to change course. But as this Republican just found out the hard way, changing course will require more than scapegoating one organization. There are other moving parts in the mix, including a long-running operation by two-time gubernatorial loser Bob Beauprez to “purge” the party of RMGO-backed candidates and embarrassments (here’s looking at you, Lori Saine) we’ve heard may try again for the 2020 primaries. It’s evident that nothing less than wholesale regime change in the Colorado GOP is needed, but we’re not at all convinced Colorado Republicans at any level are able to understand what that means.

The one thing we do feel certain of is it’s going to get uglier before it gets better.

Thurlow: Republican Party Needs to Modify Core Beliefs

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Rep. Dan Thurlow (R).

There’s no hope, of course, that Colorado Republicans will moderate their hard-line stance on guns, in the wake of the failure of pro-gun groups to find enough signatures to recall a Democratic lawmaker for supporting modest gun control laws after his son was murdered in the Aurora theater.

But I did find some hope in the form of former Colorado State Rep. Dan Thurlow, who’s been pushing fellow Republicans to change their stances on a variety of issues, instead of arguing about whether one consultant or another is to blame for one election disaster or another.

“When I was in business, the first thing you had to have was a good product, and yes, you had to have a good marketing strategy,” Thurlow told me. “But if you didn’t have a good product to begin with, you wouldn’t do very well in the marketplace. And that’s my premise about the current Republican Party in Colorado.”

“We seem to have become fixated on issues the voters have passed us by on,” Thurlow continued. “And that’s guns, and gay rights, and abortion.”

Thurlow stands out among Republicans for his willingness to specify changes to produce a better “product.”

Thurlow not only backed a red-flag bill, allowing guns to be taken from dangerous people, but he says the 2nd Amendment needs to be modified, and Republicans should alter their views on gun control.

“Our party seems to say, ‘NO! We absolutely will not move an inch on that issue!'” Thurlow has said. “And as a result [in Colorado elections], we are getting worse and worse outcomes.”

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Get More Smarter on Wednesday (June 5)

The Brits just love President Trump. They absolutely adore him, really. It’s time to “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 a visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show.

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► Denver finally wrapped up its interminable election season on Tuesday. Incumbent Denver Mayor Michael Hancock won a third (and final) term in office with a 12-point victory over inept challenger Jamie Giellis, but the bigger story might be an unprecedented shift on the City Council. As the Denver Post explains, three incumbent Council members were ousted for apparently the first time in Denver’s history; Mary Beth Susman (District 5), Albus Brooks (District 9), and Wayne New (District 10) will all be looking for new jobs this summer.

The closest race of the night was for Clerk and Recorder, where Paul Lopez appears to have defeated Peg Perl by a few hundred votes out of a total of more than 143,000 cast.

 

Congressman Joe Neguse (D-Lafayette) played an important role as the House of Representatives passed a bill intended to give relief to so-called “DREAMERs.” As the Washington Post reports:

The House on Tuesday passed a bill that would offer a path to citizenship to more than 2 million undocumented immigrants, including “dreamers” who were brought to the United States as children.

The vote was 237 to 187 for the American Dream and Promise Act of 2019, which would grant dreamers 10 years of legal residence status if they meet certain requirements. They would then receive permanent green cards after completing at least two years of higher education or military service, or after working for three years…

…Rep. Joe Neguse (D-Colo.), a freshman congressman and the son of Eritrean refugees, prompted cheers and a standing ovation from Democrats as he quoted President Ronald Reagan to defend immigration as integral to the fabric of the country. He also described dreamers as “young people all across our country who know no other home but the United States.”

“We can’t allow these young people to continue to live in fear, to be at risk,” Neguse said.

The Republican-controlled Senate is unlikely to move the House bill forward, but as Jennifer Rubin writes for the Washington Post, that doesn’t change the significance of Tuesday’s vote:

With each bill on a popular item, the House moves one step closer to locking in its majority as it turns up the heat on vulnerable Senate Republicans who have to show what they’ve done to get reelected in 2020. What exactly are Sens. Joni Ernst (Iowa), Cory Gardner (Colo.), Thom Tillis (N.C.), Susan Collins (Maine) and the rest going to point to? They cannot exactly brag about an unpopular tax cut (wiped out by Trump’s trade tax, otherwise known as tariffs). They had better not boast that they almost obliterated the popular Affordable Care Act and tried to wipe it off the books in court.

This isn’t rocket science. Pass popular bills. Tell voters you’ve passed popular bills. Remind them again. Point to the do-nothing Senate and chaos-creating and incompetent president. It’s a pretty effective way to keep the House majority, win the White House and maybe even win back the Senate.

 

 Senate Republicans are warning President Trump against imposing new tariffs on Mexico, suggesting that they have enough votes to override a potential veto of a measure that would prevent the tariffs from being implemented. The flip-floppety past of Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) makes it difficult to determine whether he would stand with Senate leaders or President Trump on Mexico tariffs.

Meanwhile, a new report suggests that tariffs on Mexico could cost the United States 400,000 jobs.

 

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Matt Arnold Beats Bob Beauprez–Again

“Both Ways” Bob Beauprez (right).

A press release from perennial conservative gadfly Matt Arnold announces his latest David-and-Goliath victory over former GOP gubernatorial candidate Bob Beauprez’s political machine–a battle that has its roots in the 2016 elections and an attempt by Beauprez to “purge” the GOP caucus in the state legislature of undesired Republicans:

Notching yet another appellate victory, Campaign Integrity Watchdog prevailed against the desperate attempt of “Both-Ways Bob” Beauprez” to appeal his ‘Colorado Pioneer Action’ (CPA) committee’s conviction for multiple violations of state law issued over two years ago.

The Colorado Court of Appeals ruling (case 2017CA883) was issued Thursday 30 May 2019 and not only affirms the trial court finding that ‘Colorado Pioneer Action’ (CPA) was guilty of failing to register as a political committee and disclose donors, but also affirmed the monetary penalty imposed on CPA while reversing the imposition of attorney fees on CIW’s officer Matt Arnold.

‘Colorado Pioneer Action’ (CPA) will thus be required not only to finally (after over three years of operating in violation of law) to register as a political committee, disclose its contributors, and pay penalties imposed in the trial court ruling, but also will be required to pay CIW’s court costs incurred as a result of CPA’s meritless appeal.

“The wheels of justice grind slowly,” stated Campaign Integrity Watchdog officer Matt Arnold, “but they do grind – and have ground CPA’s groundless appeal to dust.” Arnold continued, “Campaign Integrity Watchdog calls on Beauprez and Colorado Pioneer Action to quickly and fully comply with the orders of the trial and appellate courts, including registering the entity with the Secretary of State, filing required disclosures, and paying penalties imposed by law. CPA has defied the law long enough; time to man up and pay the piper.”

To briefly recap the history here, Bob Beauprez’s political organization started up a group called Pioneer Action to run ads in the 2016 election cycle. This group proceeded to launch attacks in Republican primaries on both GOP incumbents and candidates aligned with Dudley Brown and the Rocky Mountain Gun Owners, including “pistol-packing” Rep. Lori Saine among a number of others. This “red on red” campaign outraged the targeted candidates and their hard-right backers, and drove a wedge within the Colorado Republican Party still playing out today in the recall of Rep. Tom Sullivan.

The problem for Pioneer Action is that they did not meet the so-called “primary purpose” test required of politically active nonprofits who aren’t required to disclose their donors. Indeed the group was apparently solely focused on electioneering communications–and it doesn’t matter that these were intra-GOP attacks. Matt Arnold sued and won contending that Pioneer Action should be required to disclose their spending like any other solely election-focused organization. This appellate decision cements that victory and ensures Arnold’s attorney fees will be paid by Pioneer Action.

It’s worth noting that Beauprez’s attempt to “purge” the GOP of undesired candidates was not in the end successful, and today the state house leadership as well as leadership of the Colorado Republican Party is dominated by RMGO’s allies. Arnold himself is now the registered agent for Values First Colorado, the House GOP’s “independent” communications arm directly involved with the Sullivan recall.

Once considered a pest to both sides of the aisle, Matt Arnold’s continuing victories over the vastly better funded Beauprez political operation and his current leadership role in the ascendant Neville faction show how the power has shifted within the Colorado GOP. It’s not our role today to judge the morality or long-term implications of this shift–but there is no longer any denying it.

Its Matt Arnold’s party now.

Arapahoe GOP Official: Rep. Tom Sullivan “Shamefully Politicized His Son’s Death”

(That’s just twisted – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Explaining her reasons for supporting a recall of Colorado State Rep. Tom Sullivan (D – Aurora), Arapahoe Republican Party Vice Chair Brenda Stokes told CBS4’s Rick Sallinger that Sullivan politicized his son’s murder.

“You have a politician, who ran on a campaign that sadly politicized the loss of his son… and forgot about the important issues that us parents are faced with, especially with those horrible bills that just passed the state legislature.”

Reached for comment, Stokes reaffirmed her belief:

“Tom Sullivan took out-of-state money –from Bloomberg in particular– and ran on a platform which sadly in my opinion, and it will always be my opinion, he shamefully politicized the death of his son at the Aurora shooting, which tells me he cannot be independent when it comes to some of the legislation that affects other people.”

Sullivan’s son Alex was one of twelve people murdered in the 2012 Aurora theater shooting. Strengthening Colorado’s gun safety laws by establishing Extreme Risk Protection Orders was a primary message of his campaign.

Colorado Republican Party Vice Chair Kristi Burton Brown filed the Sullivan recall petition. She says she did so as a private citizen, rather than as a party official. Party chair Ken Buck affirmed her claim, despite having campaigned for his party position by saying “we need to teach [Democrats] how to spell RECALL!”

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Kopel: Dudley Brown is a “Direct Mail Fundraising Scam Artist” (And So Much More)

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

WEDNESDAY POLS UPDATE: Dudley Brown fires back unrepentant:

—–

Dudley Brown of Rocky Mountain Gun Owners

Pro-gun activists continue to rip at each other over an effort, led by the conservative Rocky Mountain Gun Owners (RMGO), to recall Democratic State Rep. Tom Sullivan of Aurora, who voted in favor of a law allowing judges to order that guns be taken from dangerous people.

In a Saturday interview on KNUS radio (below), the libertarian Independence Institute’s researcher Dave Kopel called Dudley Brown, who directs RMGO, a “direct mail fundraising scam artist” and a “parasite.”

Asked if he supports recalling Sullivan, who’s son died in the Aurora theater massacre, Kopel said: “No, because I think it’s stupid and it’s not going to work, and it’s going to make Sullivan all the stronger. I mean, already he’s raising tons of money.  And thanks to this, he’s not just raising money in Colorado, he’s raising national money. And when this recall fails, which I am almost certain that it will, he’s going to have a lot of money leftover to have a big head start on his re-election and in 2020.”

“He just sucks up money which could go to groups like Gun Owners of America, or the NRA, or Second Amendment Foundation, or anybody else that actually tries to advance the cause,” said Kopel on air.

RMGO backers have pointed out that the organization’s effort to recall Democratic State Sen. Evie Hudak in 2014 resulted in Hudak’s resignation, which paved the way for Laura Woods to win the swing state senate seat later that year, allowing the state GOP to gain a majority in the state senate and, for four years, to block Democratic bills not only on gun control but health, environment, education, and much more.

Here’s a transcript of a portion of the KNUS interview with Kopel:

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As Democrats Seek Gun Violence Solutions, Republicans Push More Guns

Students evacuate from a STEM school in Highlands Ranch earlier this month.

In the wake of the shooting at a STEM school in Highlands Ranch earlier this month, Colorado Democrats are considering legislation to tighten the state’s laws around gun storage and child access, as the Colorado Sun reports:

“The end goal is that someone who shouldn’t have access to a firearm can’t access it,” said Senate Majority Leader Steve Fenberg, who revealed conversations about the potential policies at The Colorado Sun’s legislative forum last week. “Usually that would be a minor, but theoretically would include someone who just isn’t allowed to have a firearm.”…

…There are reports that the shooters in the STEM School attack, which left one student dead and eight more wounded, obtained their weapons by breaking into a gun safe belonging to one of their parents. The suspects are 18 and 16 years old, too young to legally purchase handguns, which authorities say were used in the attack.

About a dozen U.S. states have laws stipulating how guns are stored and how to prevent children from accessing them. Colorado is not among them, though it does have a law against providing a handgun to a juvenile. The older suspect in the STEM attack, 18-year-old Devon Erickson, is accused of committing that crime, according to online court records.

Image of a flyer from “Bullets Both Ways” distributed at a gun rights rally on Saturday.

Republican lawmakers are not enthusiastic about this idea. Senate Minority Leader Chris Holbert dismissed the proposal in an interview with the Sun, as did Sen. John Cooke (R-Greeley), who reverted to a particularly stupid argument about the fallibility of laws in general:

“We have laws against murder. It doesn’t stop people from murdering. If you’re not storing your gun responsibly, a law is not going to change that.”

Why have laws at all? 

The per-capita rate of deaths from gun violence in Colorado is at its highest level in more than 30 years, so what are Colorado Republicans going to do about the problem? They’re not going to do anything, as we’ve seen time and time again, but if backed into a corner the GOP solution continues to be to put more guns in public places.

Over the weekend, firearm enthusiasts gathered by the dozens at the State Capitol for a “Rally For Our Rights” event billed as a protest against a so-called “red flag” bill that passed through the state legislature this Spring. House Bill 1177, signed into law by Gov. Jared Polis in April, allows Colorado families and law enforcement officials to petition a court for an “Extreme Risk Protection Order” (ERPO) to temporarily remove firearms from the hands of individuals who deemed to be a risk to themselves or others. Many Republican lawmakers opposed the “red flag” bill, including Sens. Holbert and Cooke. Perhaps the most vocal opponent was House Minority Leader Patrick Neville, who has been openly advocating for recall elections against Democrats who supported the legislation (including Democratic Rep. Tom Sullivan, a co-sponsor of HB-1177 and the father of a victim of the 2012 Aurora Theater shooting) .

Neville’s “solution” to gun violence has been the same since he first joined the State House in  2105; he is a leader of the movement to get more guns in the hands of teachers. This is a sentiment shared by others in the “Rally For Our Rights” circle. Among the organizations on hand for Saturday’s “more guns” rally was a Colorado-based group called “Bullets Both Ways” that believes that “Bullets Both Ways are better in our nation’s schools than bullets one way coming from an unchallenged perpetrator.” This is asinine.

What Neville and groups like “Bullets Both Ways” don’t mention, of course, is that the “more bullets” approach to gun violence actually creates…more danger for innocent people. As the Denver Post reported last week:

The district attorney for Teller and El Paso counties will review whether a security guard accused of firing at deputies responding to the shooting at STEM School Highlands Ranch should face criminal charges.

The source said a deputy has told authorities that the security guard, who has not been publicly identified, fired a shot at him or her while sheriff’s responders were arriving at the school. [Pols emphasis]

Investigators also are trying to determine whether the trajectory of the bullet indicates the guard may have struck and injured a student, the source said. Eight students were injured in Tuesday’s shooting, which also claimed the life of 18-year-old Kendrick Castillo.

According to an attorney for the security guard, the armed man spent four years in the Marine Corps, which means he was probably plenty experienced with firearms. Yet he still may have mistakenly fired his weapon at students and law enforcement officers responding to the scene of the shooting. It’s ludicrous to expect that anyone other than the most highly-trained law enforcement officers would be able to safely handle a weapon in the midst of a school shooting, but if Neville and other gun advocates had their way, inexperienced shooters would be firing weapons in every direction at the first sign of a threat.

We need real solutions to our gun violence epidemic, not silly fantasies of promoting “a good guy with a gun.”

Colorado GOP Can’t Just Get A Little Bit Pregnant

State Rep. Tom Sullivan (D-Centennial) speaks about his support for “Red Flag” legislation earlier this year.

After the announcement last week of approved recall petitions to circulate against freshman Rep. Tom Sullivan of HD-37 Centennial filed by Colorado Republican Party vice-chair Kristi Burton Brown, a major disagreement has erupted within the Republican coalition with a significant faction including Sullivan’s ousted Republican predecessor Cole Wist condemning the effort of both morally and strategically self-destructive for the GOP.

Faced with this unexpected intraparty criticism, as Colorado Public Radio’s Bente Birkeland reports, there’s an effort underway now to distance the actions of the Colorado GOP vice chair from the party as a whole:

“I would like definitely like to emphasize I’m doing this in my individual capacity as a citizen and a parent in House District 37,” Brown said. “Yes, I happened to be the vice-chair of the party, but I considered filing this recall before I got elected.”

Brown was elected to party leadership alongside Chairman Ken Buck on March 30. The “red flag” gun bill, one of the chief irritants that critics cite as the reason for the recall, passed the legislature April 1 and Gov. Jared Polis signed it 11 days later. Buck has called for the state party to be more active in recalls, but didn’t say what the official role would be in this instance.

“Kristi initiated the recall effort in her personal capacity, not as part of her leadership role with the state party. We will evaluate the HD 37 recall as it proceeds, just as we do with any potential recall or election,” Buck said.

Colorado GOP chairman Rep. Ken Buck (R).

The distinction between a Colorado Republican Party which has openly embraced the recall strategy to blunt increasingly landslide Democratic victories in general election and one of the state party’s highest officer’s personal action to initiate the recall of Rep. Sullivan is, in a word, preposterous. It’s a direct result of the condemnation of this recall attempt in particular by fellow Republicans, which makes it difficult for the party apparatus to publicly engage as party chair Rep. Ken Buck promised they would.

As readers know, vice chair Kristi Burton Brown’s principal allies in her “personal” campaign to recall Rep. Sullivan are House Minority Leader Patrick Neville and the Rocky Mountain Gun Owners, both of whom view recalling Sullivan as a step to restoring their own damaged credibility after 2018’s heavy losses.

To summarize, you have a Colorado Republicans led by officials who have promised to support recalls, and a recall effort against a freshman House member initiated by the party’s vice chair and supported by the House minority leader’s political machine. Yet we’re being asked to believe that this is not a campaign sanctioned by the highest levels of the Colorado GOP–which is conveniently also what allows the Sullivan recall’s Republican opponents to focus their anger on the lightning rod of RMGO instead of acknowledging the bigger problem.

The campaign to recall Rep. Tom Sullivan, whose son was murdered in the Aurora shooting leading to Sullivan’s run for office on a platform of gun safety, is being run in-house by the Colorado Republican Party far more than any previous effort–including the recalls of 2013. Being by orders of magnitude the most divisive recall effort yet undertaken, including everything that happened in 2013, this is either a sign of a brazenness we haven’t seen before from a major state party or severe mismanagement that is going to further damage an already severely weakened coalition.

If you’re a Republican and against the Sullivan recall, it’s not enough to idly say so while hunting scapegoats.

It’s time to make a choice. What are you willing to live with and still call yourself a Republican?

Some Colo Republicans Blame Losses on Dumb Campaign Tactics and, partly, on the Koch’s Flawed Voter Database App

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

A dispute has emerged among Colorado Republicans about how much to rely on a giant database of voter information developed over many years with billions of dollars by the Koch brothers, the GOP’s mega donors.

The Koch database, called i360, is heralded by many Republicans as a beautiful tool to target voters across the country, including Colorado, using information gleaned from consumer spending (from credit agencies and vendors), social media, canvassing by Americans for Prosperity and others here in Colorado, and other places where big data sources.

Just before last year’s election, Salon called i360 an “unprecedented propaganda” tool identifying more than 199 million active voters and 290 million U.S. consumers, with about 2,000 data points on each person, such as “your vitals, ethnicity, religion, occupation, hobbies, shopping habits, political leanings, financial assets, marital status and much more.”

“They know if you enjoy fishing — and if you do, whether you prefer salt or fresh water. They know if you have bladder control difficulty, get migraines or have osteoporosis. They know which advertising mediums (radio, TV, internet, email) are the most effective,” according to Salon.

But for former State Sen. Tim Neville (R-Littleton), the promise of i360 doesn’t match the reality, which led Neville, in part to reject pressure from the Colorado Republican Party (and its consultants) last year to use the party’s voter data to target voters in his (mostly) Jefferson County district, according to sources.

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RMGO’s Dudley Brown: “Cut Douglas County Sheriff’s Budget by 20%. Why not?”

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

At a legislative briefing in March, Gun activist Dudley Brown was so angry at Douglas County Sheriff’s support of a gun safety law, he said county commissioners’ should cut the sheriff’s budget by twenty percent. “Why not?” Brown asked.

“That’s what Douglas County Commissioners should be doing right now… I don’t give a rat’s butt about their sanctuary city resolution. I care about- why don’t you cut his funding? The guy’s down at the state capitol, working for Moms Demand Action. He can draw a paycheck from them. Cut 20% of the Douglas County Sheriff’s office funding right now. Why not?” Rocky Mountain Gun Owners Director Dudley Brown, March 8, 2019

Douglas County Sheriff Tony Spurlock was the most prominent Republican to support a 2019 bill creating the Extreme Risk Protect Order, a means by which law enforcement can ask a judge for permission to remove firearms from someone deemed to be a threat to themselves or others.

Rocky Mountain Gun Owners organized the briefing along with House Minority Leader Patrick Neville (R – Castle Rock). In addition to the ERPO or “red flag bill,” they also discussed plans to recall several legislators.

Brown also promised to end Sheriff Spurlock’s political career, saying he would either be primaried or recalled.

“I’m here to tell you,” Brown said “Tony Spurlock’s career as an elected Republican is over… he’s not going to get elected anywhere because I’ll follow him like a bad habit.”

Several Republican groups, including Senate Minority Leader Chris Holbert, the Douglas County Republicans and the Colorado Senate Republicans praised Sheriff Spurlock and the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office for its response to Tuesday’s fatal school shooting at the Highlands Ranch STEM School.

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