McConnell To Vulnerable GOP Senators: Maybe Abandon Ship?

Donald Trump and an adoring Sen. Cory Gardner (R).

CNN reports on what could be rightly considered an inevitable development as we close in on three months before the fateful 2020 presidential election–GOP Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has given the signal that vulnerable Republican Senators up for re-election in November alongside an imploding President Donald Trump can, if they determine it is politically expedient to do so, make for the lifeboats:

In recent weeks, the Senate majority leader has become so concerned over Republicans losing control of the Senate that he has signaled to vulnerable GOP senators in tough races that they could distance themselves from the President if they feel it is necessary, according to multiple senior Republicans including a source close to McConnell.

That could mean breaking with Trump on the administration’s response to the coronavirus pandemic and the continued efforts by the President to paint an optimistic picture despite rising cases and deaths across parts of the country, especially in many Republican states in the South and Midwest.

The process of staking out daylight between the campaigns of vulnerable Republicans and Donald Trump is well underway in some races around the country, best evidenced by Sen. Susan Collins’ ever-so-slowly escalating criticism of the President in recent months. In Colorado, however, Sen. Cory Gardner has made no effort to undo the basically locked-in perception at this point of Gardner as one of Trump’s closest allies. This week’s reassurance by Gardner that despite what Trump suggested, there would be no delaying the election over Trump’s fictitious concerns about mail ballots, notably did not include a defense of Colorado’s mail ballot system–which Gardner has defended in the past, but not directly in response to Trump as he had the opportunity to do on Thursday.

The problem for Gardner’s is that his image as a principal ally of Trump–Trump told cheering crowds in Colorado Springs last February how Gardner showed “no waver” in his commitment–is so firmly embedded in the public consciousness that to pivot only 90 days from the election, after so many opportunities moral obligations to do so, would be broadly identified for the shameless act that it is. Not to mention, CNN continues:

While this may give some senators the flexibility to draw a distinction between themselves and the President, it also forces them to walk a tightrope. Trump remains enormously popular with the Republican base, and any attempts to undercut him risks alienating those voters. [Pols emphasis]

“These vulnerable senators can’t afford to explicitly repudiate Trump,” said one senior Republican on Capitol Hill. “They just need to show they are independent on issues important in their states.”

Even if Mitch McConnell gives Gardner a hall pass to start disagreeing with Trump on various minor points of controversy, this carries with it the grave risk of alienating the Republican base. In Colorado, that base overwhelmingly remains loyal to Trump, is already not real keen on Gardner, and on guard for exactly the kind of “disloyalty” McConnell is opening the door to. There’s no realistic hope for Gardner to split the ticket with anti-Trump voters, so to lose Republicans would leave Gardner without any core base of support at all.

If Gardner could ever have “jumped ship” and saved himself from going down with Trump, the moment was six months ago–at least. If Gardner tries it now, three months from the election and only after the all-clear has been given from Republican leadership to do it, Gardner action is neither loyal nor courageous.

It is what Sun Tzu called “the noise before defeat.”

Denver DA Claps Back At GOP Broken-Window Croc Tears

Photo by Colorado Senate GOP spox Sage Naumann.

As anyone who has driven through downtown Denver in the last two months knows, the weeks of protests against police brutality in the wake of the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis have resulted in a significant amount of as-yet unrepaired property damage to public buildings and monuments. Statues with connections to atrocity and other historical sins have been toppled or pre-emptively removed, windows on the state capitol and other state buildings boarded up, and graffiti thick and overlapping on the walls. It’s not practical to initiate a comprehensive cleanup of the damage while it is still accumulating, not to mention the health risk of sending work crews out in a pandemic, but Gov. Jared Polis recently announced the cleanup would begin as quickly as possible.

In the meantime, Colorado Republicans have seized upon the graffiti and property damage around the Capitol to frighten their base and declare “ruling Democrats” responsible for not just “failing” to clean it up, but allowing it to occur in the first place due to their insufficient commitment to “law and order”–being bleeding-heart liberals who probably secretly want to be out there smashing windows themselves. Former GOP Rep. Mark Hillman howled with faux outrage in an op-ed attack earlier this week on Gov. Polis and Denver city officials:

Today, the grand old building stands disgraced as never before by vandalism that began in late May and — due to the inaction of Gov. Jared Polis and Denver Mayor Michael Hancock — has continued for weeks. Sprayed profanities reach 15 feet high on its marble walls…

The exterior walls of the Colorado Capitol are granite, but we digress.

Never in its 126 years has our Capitol been so disgraced, not only by the mobs who attacked it but by the leaders entrusted to protect it.

That’s just one example of Denver’s descent…

Gov. Polis and Mayor Hancock shut down productive businesses for COVID-19, but they’ve done nothing meaningful to stop anarchists from attacking our Capitol or law-abiding citizens. Denver District Attorney Beth McCann gives vandals a free pass for “crimes against property,” so arrests are rare. Denver residents must wonder why they pay steep taxes on property that police and prosecutors deem unworthy to protect.

Former state Rep. Mark Hillman (R).

That last swipe at Denver District Attorney Beth McCann appears to have a step too far, prompting a a devastating return-fire op-ed in the same Colorado Springs Gazette Hillman used to disparage her office:

Mark Hillman recently opined in this publication that I have given a pass to people who commit property damage (“THE PODIUM: Once-stately Capitol now an eyesore, July 29). That is simply not true. My office files cases against people who commit property damage every day…[s]ome conservative writers are telling a different story. According to their narrative, protesters in Denver are engaging in violence and vandalism while the city’s progressive leaders stand by idly. It’s a false narrative. It’s offensive. And it’s dangerous because it makes an enemy of people who have something valuable to teach us. [Pols emphasis]

We are experiencing an important moment in history. The recent protests have called upon all Americans to take a hard look at our history, to confront practices that trigger the use of excessive force, and to examine the ways in which our current systems are inequitable to people of color. Colorado is rising to this moment. The recent enactment of SB-217, the police reform bill, is proof. That new law represents progress that has emerged from this moment in our history. The recent passage of the Caring for Denver initiative is another step in the right direction to help those suffering from mental health and substance abuse issues who often find themselves involved in the criminal justice system.

There is still much more to do. In addition to racial injustice, we are confronting a global health pandemic that is taking a huge toll on our people and our economy. While Denver’s mayor and Colorado’s governor acted quickly to curb both COVID-19 and its economic devastation, we simply cannot ignore that they did so in part because our national response has fallen woefully short. That shortfall — not progressivism — is the root cause of our current issues concerning the pandemic. The shortfall has caused millions of people to lose their jobs and their health care and thousands to lose housing and to get sick and die.

It’s a very illustrative exchange, folks. If Republicans want to move past the superficial whining about graffiti and broken windows and talk about the underlying cause of those problems–and from there, the underlying cause of a much greater range of problems we’re facing today as a nation–Democrats are excited to do that in the summer and fall of 2020. The damage done in the recent protests will of course be repaired, and as DA McCann explained above Colorado is taking a national leadership role in addressing the hard questions that challenge law and order instead of simply answering violence with violence.

And with that, we lost Mark Hillman. As soon as the conversation moves beyond despairing the broken windows to asking why they’re broken, these guys have got nothing useful to contribute.

Citing his “Concerned” Suburban Sisters, Trump Adviser Pence Says “Safety and Security” Is on Ballot

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

In an interview on Denver radio station KHOW, Trump campaign adviser John Pence put to rest any doubt that Trump is targeting suburban women with his hot rhetoric about riots and chaos in American cities.

Asked July 28 by KHOW morning host Ross Kaminsky if he thought the upcoming election will turn on economic issues or on suburban women’s concern for safety with the riots in the streets and the virus, Pence responded with:

“Well, Ross, I have three older, very opinionated sisters, two of which have four children each. I guess you would say they are suburban women.  They’re very concerned about this radical call of defunding the police. The president made that very clear, that he’s going to stand with our police,” Pence told Kaminsky. “He’s going to back the blue. And safety and security really is on the ballot this November. And that is an issue. I mean, what — you can’t pursue the American dream if you don’t feel safe going to work. I mean, that’s just — that’s fact. And defending our freedom starts with preserving law and order. And that’s why I’m sure you’ll hear strong words from our Attorney General about folks who destroy federal property, folks that commit arson and crimes will be held accountable to the full extent of the law. And President Trump is not going to back down on that to keep the American people safe.”

Pence, who is Vice President Mike Pence’s nephew, went on to say he thinks Trump can win Colorado.

“I don’t like to talk about feelings,” Pence told Kaminsky. “I like to talk about numbers. And our Trump Victory field team has done an excellent job with the voter contact work I mentioned, with knocking doors. And when it comes to making the voter contacts, registering voters, we know that voters are 80% likely to go out and vote for a Republican candidate that very first time. So if we have registered hundreds of thousands of voters in this growing Republican Party between now and November–but really eight weeks away, as you know, with early voting and mail-in voting in this state — you know, we’re in a competitive position.

Pence talked to Kaminsky after campaigning with newly minted congressional candidate Lauren Boebert in Pueblo and Grand Junction.

He called Boebert a “really strong candidate” who could represent a “recipe for American greatness.”

(more…)

Senate Republicans Fail Americans. Again.

UPDATE: As The Washington Post and POLITICO report, the White House is trading barbs with Democrats over whose fault it is that nothing is happening…which somehow overlooks the fact that the holdup is in the SENATE, which is controlled by Republicans. From WaPo:

“We anticipate that we will have a bill, but we’re not there yet,” Pelosi said.

Eager to avoid blame for Friday’s expiration of enhanced unemployment for some 20 million jobless Americans, Republicans have increasingly coalesced around the idea of trying to pass a short-term fix. But Democrats have repeatedly rejected that approach and continue pushing for a wide-ranging $3 trillion bill the House passed in May. That bill would extend unemployment benefits through January.

“We put forward what we need for the American people because we recognize the gravity of the situation. They don’t,” Pelosi said.

In order to get an update on the progress of legislation in the Republican-controlled Senate, it is apparently necessary to now ask the Democratic Speaker of the House of Representatives. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell isn’t even mentioned until you get at least halfway through reading each of the stories linked above.

Should you place blame for relief inaction on a) The White House, or b) Democrats? Well, the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives passed another relief bill back in May, so you can’t accuse them of not doing their job. The White House isn’t doing a lot of leading, but the real blame here goes to the one group of elected officials who continually duck out the back door: Senate Republicans.

—–

Just keep walking and don’t make eye contact.

One week ago today, we wrote this headline: “Senate Republicans Fail Americans.” The Senate adjourned for a three-day weekend last Thursday without so much as a back-of-the-napkin plan for a coronavirus relief package…fast forward one week, and this paragraph works just as well today:

The House passed a massive coronavirus relief package in May called the “Heroes Act.” The Senate has not taken up this legislation and has instead tried — and failed — to craft something of its own. Extended unemployment benefits passed by Congress in March will expire at the end of this month, but Senate Republicans were unable to come up with a plan to help the 20-25 million unemployed Americans who desperately need this assistance. So they went home for a 3-day weekend, saying they’ll try again next week.

That’s right: Senate Republicans adjourned AGAIN on Thursday evening for another three-day weekend without making any headway on a badly-needed coronavirus relief bill and no movement on extended unemployment benefits, which officially run dry today.

As Roll Call reports:

“We just don’t think they understand the gravity of the problem,” Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer said after a two-hour meeting with Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows.

“I think they understand that we have to have a bill, but they just don’t realize how big it has to be,” Pelosi said. [Pols emphasis]

President Donald Trump earlier this week floated the possibility of renewing supplemental unemployment benefits temporarily, as well as extending an expiring moratorium on evictions from federally backed housing. Democratic leaders rejected a similar offer at a meeting Wednesday, and it wasn’t immediately clear what new ideas Mnuchin and Meadows brought to the table Thursday…

It was the fourth meeting in as many days between the four principals, which haven’t included the top Republicans on Capitol Hill, who for now are leaving the negotiations to Trump’s deputies. [Pols emphasis] More talks are set for Friday and possibly Saturday as well, Mnuchin said.

Senate Republicans have become so impotent that Democratic leaders are once again negotiating directly with White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell isn’t even in the room. President Trump is too busy trying to undermine the 2020 election.

On Monday, Senate Republicans finally unveiled their version of a coronavirus relief bill, but it contained so much extraneous nonsense that the legislation was labeled a non-starter by Senators from both political parties. Meanwhile, economists from both sides of the political spectrum are practically begging the Senate to act in order to stave off economic disaster. As The Washington Post reports:

The nation learned Thursday that the U.S. economy endured its worst slump on record this spring, but a larger problem now looms: The nascent recovery appears to be faltering in July, and lawmakers are more divided than ever over what to do about it.

The risk is growing that the economy is going to backslide, a painful scenario where workers who regained jobs in May and June lose them again, and businesses that had started to reopen are forced to shutter, possibly forever. It’s already happening in parts of the country that are seeing a spike in coronavirus cases.

Once the downward spiral starts — more job losses leading to less consumer spending leading to more business closures leading to more job losses — it can lead to an even deeper downturn that permanently damages the economy for years to come. Economists say the United States is not spiraling yet, but the nation is at an inflection point.

With a vaccine still months away, there’s a growing consensus among economists that the best tool the nation has to prevent a long, ugly downturn is for Congress to go big on another relief package [Pols emphasis].

And to those Senate Republican leaders, including Sen. Ted Cruz and Sen. Rand Paul, “right-leaning economists” say: “Now is not the time to worry about the debt.”

As Roll Call notes, vulnerable Senate Republicans seem to understand how bad it looks for them to be leaving town (again) without making progress on a relief package:

Before senators began trickling out of town for the weekend Thursday afternoon, [Arizona Sen. Martha] McSally went to the floor to try a last-ditch unanimous consent effort to renew the $600 benefit for seven days. Schumer blocked the move, saying “a one-week fix can’t be implemented in time and the senator knows that.”

Many Americans have already received their last extended unemployment benefits check, and state unemployment agencies would struggle to implement an extended benefit that only lasts for a few more days.

But at least McSally is kinda paying attention. As for Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner? He’s worried about…other things:

The Get More Smarter Podcast: Q-Donkulous!

This week on The Get More Smarter Podcast, there are less than 100 days until the biggest election ever ever ever; Senate Republicans want everyone to become homeless and then sweep them off the streets; we find Sen. Cory Gardner not in Washington doing his job, but at a ridiculous photo op with handbag designer and black bean enthusiast, Ivanka Trump; 9News fires an antifascist (and it’s not Ian this time); Aurora Mayor and vanquished former congressman Mike Coffman reminds us why we worked so hard to beat him in 2018; and the podcast turns one year old!

Plus, we introduce a new game: “Q-Donkulous!” Play along and see if you can do better than Ian.

If you missed our last episode, click here to catch up or scroll through all of our past episodes at GetMoreSmarter.com.

Questions? Comments? Complaints? Hit us up at AngryRants@getmoresmarter.com.

Subscribe: Apple Podcasts | Google Podcasts | Spotify | Stitcher | TuneIn

Film Review: Cardboard Cory Is about Booting Gardner. But It’s Also a Paean to Political Activism

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

“Cardboard Cory: the Documentary” tells the incredible story about the life and times of a cardboard cutout of Republican Sen. Cory Gardner and the political activists behind the cardboard.

There’s a perception out there of activists as lonely, angry people who you try to slide away from at parties. This film does a beautiful job of debunking that stereotype, showing that activism and activists are about community-building and fun.

But the 15-minute film is also an organizing tool.

And it’s the organizing-tool part that really excites the folks who are promoting the film and want more than anything to see Gardner exit the U.S. Senate.

“We’re fewer than 100 days out from the election. To win in 2020, we need to work together to save our future,” says Katie Farnan, of Indivisible Front Range Resistance (IFFR), which created the cutout along with other local indivisible groups. “The Cardboard Cory documentary inspires us to celebrate our movement’s leaders and past victories and then get to work on the election of our lifetimes.”

The documentary’s release “party” on Tuesday was actually less of a party and more of an action step, timed with Indivisible’s Unity Week of Action, which began Monday.

“After watching the film, viewers were given the tools to call voters directly as well as resources for doing more electoral work in the 97 days remaining in the 2020 election cycle,” stated a news release about the documentary that was headlined, “Viewers make commitment to motivate voters as part of a week of national electoral action.”

But please take a 15-minute break from political organizing and watch this film by Nick Rosen and paid for by the Payback Project, which is Indivisible’s national campaign focused on 11 vulnerable senators.

(more…)

Breathe Free, Weld County–Also Put On A Damn Mask

The flag of North Colorado, which is not going to happen.

A press release today from a coalition of local environmental organizations celebrates the failure of a legal challenge by always cantankerous Weld County, against new air quality rules adopted in the wake of 2019’s landmark Senate Bill 19-181 reform of oil and gas drilling to favor public health over drill baby drill:

Denver District Court Chief Judge Michael A. Martinez granted a motion by the state of Colorado to dismiss Weld County’s lawsuit against the Air Quality Control Commission (AQCC) and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. The county had sought to overturn new air quality rules for oil and gas development adopted by the AQCC in Dec. 2019. They were the first air quality rules adopted under Senate Bill 181, which mandates reductions in ozone-forming pollutants and methane emissions from oil and gas development.

The seven conservation and community groups include Western Colorado Alliance (WCA), League of Oil & Gas Impacted Communities (LOGIC), Conservation Colorado, Earthworks, the Sierra Club, Citizens for a Healthy Community and the San Juan Citizens Alliance. They had intervened in the case in support of the state and in defense of the rules they helped pass in December.

The court’s decision allows the new air quality protections to take effect statewide, including one proposed by three local community organizations (LOGIC, WCA and the Grand Valley Citizens Alliance) and adopted unanimously by the AQCC that requires energy companies to inspect wells, tanks and other infrastructure for leaks more frequently within 1,000 feet of homes, schools, parks and other occupied areas.

Judge Martinez’s decision is a win for people who live near wells and other oil and gas infrastructure. Coloradans statewide will benefit from reduced ozone emissions. And the state will also remain a leader in lowering methane emissions, one of the most potent greenhouse gases.

As readers know, from oil and gas drilling to gun laws to COVID, Weld County is fast becoming the state of Colorado’s nexus of “resistance” to all the realities of the present day conservatives spend so much of their time these days…you know, “resisting.” The northeast region of the state including Weld County actually made an effort via a number of countywide ballot measures back in 2013 to form a new state with a capitol presumably located in Greeley as “North Colorado’s” largest city–which ended in humiliation after a majority of Weld County voters could not be persuaded to join the revolution.

While Weld County’s refusal to enforce Colorado’s gun laws and face mask order puts everyone present within county lines in danger, there’s a simple enough solution to those risks: stay away from Weld County. When it comes to air pollution, however, anyone in Denver who has “smelled Greeley” when a cold front blows in from the north knows that air pollution in Weld County affects all of us. So in that sense, we’ll all breathe easier if Weld County is obliged to follow the same rules as everybody else.

And if the State Patrol writes some tickets against face mask scofflaws in Weld County, that’s okay too.

Trumpism Killed Herman Cain

Herman Cain (center) attending June 20 rally for President Trump in Tulsa, OK. Cain was diagnosed with COVID-19 less than two weeks later.

As The Washington Post reports, former Godfather’s Pizza CEO and one-time Republican Presidential candidate Herman Cain has died following a month-long struggle with COVID-19:

While it is unclear where Cain, who was 74, contracted the disease, he was among several thousand people who attended a Trump campaign rally in Tulsa on June 20, most of whom did not wear masks. Cain, who co-chaired Black Voices for Trump, was pictured maskless and not socially distancing at the event.

Cain is one of the most prominent Americans to have died of the virus, which has now claimed more than 150,000 lives in the United States. Word of his death comes amid a heightened focus on how seriously Republicans have taken advice from medical experts…

…Cain was hospitalized less than two weeks after attending Trump’s campaign rally in Tulsa. He was pictured not wearing a mask at the event, and before being hospitalized, he advertised in a tweet that masks would not be required at an Independence Day celebration that Trump staged at Mount Rushmore in South Dakota.

“PEOPLE ARE FED UP!” Cain wrote.

We may never know if Cain contracted COVID-19 from attending that infamous June rally for President Trump in Tulsa, Oklahoma, but the actual date of infection is a moot point. Cain was outspoken about his distrust of medical advice surrounding the pandemic and applauded Trump’s distaste for masks and social distancing:

News of Cain’s death comes one day after an announcement that Texas Republican Rep. Louie Gohmert — another outspoken anti-masker — had tested positive for COVID-19. Turning Point USA co-founder Bill Montgomery died from COVID-19 complications on Tuesday.

This isn’t a coincidence; if you have followed Trump’s months-long defiance and ignored masks and basic social distancing measures, you are considerably more likely to contract the virus and suffer from its wrath. You can Tweet about COVID conspiracy theories and your strident opposition to basic science as much as you’d like, but it won’t change the fact that scoffing at medical advice makes you more susceptible to COVID-19. People are literally dying because they followed the rhetoric of President Trump.

Cain’s recent political fortunes were not positive, but he was briefly a big name in Republican political circles when he ran for the GOP Presidential nomination in 2011 — and Colorado played a role in that rise. Cain actually won the Presidential candidate straw poll at the 2011 Western Conservative Summit in Denver, which probably says as much about WCS attendees as it does Cain; the former Godfather’s boss flamed out of the race a few months later amid multiple allegations of sexual harassment and adultery.

We can only hope that Cain’s ultimate legacy is to prevent others from contracting COVID-19 by heeding the warning of his death. It might be crass to say that Trumpism is killing its adherents, but it wouldn’t be inaccurate.

The Truth Hurts: Club 20 Isn’t Politically Relevant

Sad Club 20

Once upon a time, Club 20 was one of the more influential political groups in the State of Colorado. Formed in 1953 as a coalition of Western Slope business leaders, Club 20 eventually came to represent the interests of 22 rural counties in Western Colorado. The annual Club 20 debates, which took place in August of every election year, were a consistent stop on the campaign trail for candidates from both political parties.

But not anymore.

As The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel reports, the top statewide Democratic candidate in Colorado is skipping the Club 20 debate for the second consecutive election cycle:

The Hickenlooper [for U.S. Senate] campaign confirmed in an email Wednesday that Hickenlooper will not attend the Club 20 debate — Gardner has said he would — saying that Grand Junction voters would be able to watch a live Oct. 13 debate in Fort Collins that is being sponsored by several media outlets, including the Grand Valley’s two television stations.

The campaign for Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) has not yet agreed to the Oct. 13 debate in Fort Collins, but this is more about Club 20 than it is about a debate schedule. As we wrote in February 2019, Club 20 has permanently branded itself as politically-hostile to Democrats and more trouble than it is worth to engage:

Club 20 has long presented itself as the voice of the Western Slope, which might have been true at one point; but in the last several election cycles, Club 20 has consistently favored right-wing candidates and oil and gas interests at the expense of all other constituents. When Club 20 zigged right, it never bothered to turn around to check if anyone else was following along. It is true that the annual Club 20 debates were once a key date on the election calendar; people also used to wear leg warmers in public. Things change.

Last summer, Club 20 complained loudly about Polis’ decision to skip their gubernatorial debate – at one point, calling the decision “simply outrageous” – but the absence of the Democratic nominee did little to hurt his General Election hopes. The Republican Governor’s Association later tried hard to spin the Club 20 snub as a broader diss of the Western Slope…which also went nowhere.

During the 2018 election, the campaign of Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jared Polis raised a few eyebrows by skipping the Club 20 debates. Club 20 was very sad about this decision, but the election results validated the decision by the Polis campaign. Polis went on to defeat Republican Walker Stapleton by 11 points; final results showed that Polis was competitive in Western Colorado despite Club 20’s frantic fist-shaking.

Results from the 2018 Governor’s race in Colorado, via The New York Times

As Charles Ashby writes for the Daily Sentinel, Club 20 at least seems to understand that it has no political leverage anymore:

Still, Club 20 Executive Director Christian Reece is holding out hope that Hickenlooper might change his mind, saying she doesn’t want to see a repeat of two years ago when Democrat Jared Polis declined to debate Republican Walker Stapleton during the Club 20 fall meeting in the 2018 gubernatorial race, which Polis won.

“This is going to be the only debate in western Colorado,” Reece said. “I appreciate that you don’t have to have western Colorado to win statewide election, but in order to be a good elected leader, you have to represent the entire state and not just the Denver metro area.”

You’ll notice that this language is much softer than the “simply outrageous” tone taken by Club 20 after Polis dissed the group in 2018. As we wrote in this space in 2019, Club 20 isn’t “Western Colorado” — it’s just a group of people IN Western Colorado. Democratic candidates like Polis and Hickenlooper don’t need to go through Club 20 in order to talk with Western Slope voters.

There will no doubt be a few Republicans who will again declare that snubbing Club 20 is a diss to all of rural Colorado, but as we saw in 2018, Colorado voters aren’t listening.

Colorado has changed a lot in recent years. Club 20 has not. Sometimes it’s just that simple.

Paging Wayne Williams: Trump Suggests Delaying 2020 Election

Donald Trump.

CNN reports–does President Donald Trump mean it? Was it a diversion from all the other bad news today? Can he actually do it? All these questions except the last one–the answer is definitely no–are riddles wrapped in mystery:

President Donald Trump explicitly floated delaying November’s presidential election on Thursday, lending extraordinary voice to persistent concerns that he would seek to circumvent voting in a contest where he currently trails his opponent by double digits.

Trump has no authority to delay an election, and the Constitution gives Congress the power to set the date for voting. Yet Trump’s message provides an opening — long feared by Democrats — that both he and his supporters might refuse to accept the results of the presidential results.

But in his tweet on Thursday morning — coming 96 days before the election and minutes after the federal government reported the worst economic contraction in recorded history — Trump offered the suggestion because he claimed without evidence the contest will be flawed.

We’ve never had a case, at least not in modern history, of a President up for re-election in just three months calling for a delay of that election for any reason–not war, natural disasters, or riots in the streets in 1968 and 1992. No one in any of those moments would have seriously suggested postponing an American presidential election, and for any President to suggest it would have meant the swift end of their own careers.

But this morning President Trump did just that, and millions of his supporters will instantly agree because they agree with everything Trump says–and whether you’ve tuned out by this point to Trump’s outlandish statements or still manage to work up some outrage, this has got to rank as one of the most disturbing things that Trump has ever said as President. The constitutional authority to actually do it is not in question. Trump doesn’t have it, and he doesn’t have the total control of Congress that would be required to change the election date.

But let’s say a bill was introduced to delay the election over fictional claims of fraud arising from the use of mail ballots. How do you suppose Colorado Republicans would vote? Trump’s baseless attacks on mail ballots are also an attack on Colorado’s highly successful mail ballot election system, a system which has elected every Republican currently serving–including Sen. Cory Gardner, whose 2014 victory was the first major test of the state’s mail ballot system enacted in 2013.

In Colorado, everyone knows that Trump is lying about mail ballots. That includes every Republican. Republican former Secretary of State Wayne Williams, who ran for office also baselessly fearmongering about mail ballots, became one of our system’s foremost Republican defenders. There’s simply no way that Colorado Republicans can reconcile their own experience with mail ballots with Trump’s baleful warnings.

Trump can’t legally delay the election, but if he can convince enough of his supporters that mail ballots equal fraud, he may indeed foment a situation where millions of Americans reject the outcome if he loses. Where the nation goes from there…is anybody’s guess.

There is a scenario emerging from all of this in which Colorado Republicans would have a crucially important responsibility to debunk their own President if Trump threatens a breach of our democratic process in the November elections like he called for in 2012. It is not hyperbole to suggest that telling the truth about mail ballots in our state could be the most important thing Colorado Republicans do in their entire lives to protect American democracy.

Will Colorado Republicans have the courage if they are needed to literally save America?

We’d say it’s time to get them on the record.

Trump Shrugs Off Russian Bounties on U.S. Troops

Russian President Vladimir Putin

As The Washington Post and others are reporting, President Trump says flat-out that he didn’t even MENTION reports about Russia offering bounties on U.S. troops in a recent call with Russian President Vladimir Putin:

President Trump said in an interview broadcast Wednesday that he has not spoken to Russian President Vladimir Putin about U.S. intelligence reports of Russian bounties given to Taliban-linked militants to kill U.S. and coalition forces in Afghanistan.

“I have never discussed it with him, no,” Trump said during a taping of “Axios on HBO.” He said he did not bring up the issue during his most recent conversation with Putin, which occurred in the past week and which Trump said was “a phone call to discuss other things.” [Pols emphasis]

The Trump administration in recent weeks has questioned the veracity of the intelligence. But some of Trump’s own senior intelligence officials viewed the information as credible enough to warn the Pentagon and allies so they could ensure they had measures in place to protect their forces in Afghanistan and to begin developing options for responding to such a Russian operation, national security adviser Robert C. O’Brien said earlier in the month.

As CBS News notes, Trump tried dodging a similar question earlier this week:

The president’s admission comes after he refused to divulge whether he discussed the Russian scheme with Putin when asked about the call Monday. Mr. Trump told reporters during a trip to Fujifilm Diosynth Biotechnologies in North Carolina that “we don’t talk about what we discussed” but called the conversation with Russia’s president “very productive.”

Here’s the full clip of the Axios interview with Trump that was first made public today:


Earlier this month, Colorado Public Radio asked Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) about concerns — first reported by The New York Times — that a Russian intelligence agency was secretly offering Afghan militants financial incentives to kill American troops. Here’s what Gardner said:

Asked whether Trump should retaliate against Russia, Gardner said, “I think we should always go after people, whether it’s Russia or anyone else, who is trying to attack U.S. soldiers or interests.” [Pols emphasis] He noted he previously introduced legislation to declare Russia a state sponsor of terrorism.

We’ll update this post if Gardner says anything at all about this latest news on Trump’s refusal to even broach the subject with Putin. Just don’t hold your breath waiting for a response.

At Least He’s Not Your COVIDiot Representative

Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX).

Jake Sherman reports for Politico:

Rep. Louie Gohmert — a Texas Republican who has been walking around the Capitol without a mask — has tested positive for the coronavirus, according to multiple sources.

Gohmert was scheduled to fly to Texas on Wednesday morning with President Donald Trump and tested positive in a pre-screen at the White House. The eighth-term Republican told CNN last month that he was not wearing a mask because he was being tested regularly for the coronavirus.

“[I]f I get it,” he told CNN in June, “you’ll never see me without a mask.”

But in a video interview today, GOP Rep. Louie Gohmert of Crazypants, Texas was not wearing a mask–and had this to say about having been made against his freedom-loving American will to wear one occasionally in previous weeks in the course of his duties:

GOHMERT: I can’t help but wonder if by keeping a mask on and keeping it in place that if I might have put some of the virus under the mask and breathed it in. [Pols emphasis]

After the news broke that Rep. Gohmert’s cavalier attitude about protecting himself and those in his orbit from catching COVID-19 had resulted in…well, what any sane person would have expected to happen, Gohmert catching COVID, a member of Gohmert’s staff sent this exasperated message to Sherman:

What an amazing work environment! Everyone has to come into the office and keep masks off so America looks “open”–and when the boss gets COVID, the staff finds out about it in a news story. We can’t imagine why the staff would rat Rep. Gohmert out to a reporter.

Politicians and bosses of America, this is how turnover happens.

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