GOP Chaos in CO Springs Could Hamper GOP Comeback Effort

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Rep. Dave Williams (R).

The mysterious implosion of the county GOP party in Colorado Springs may hamper Republican efforts to fortify itself against a blue wave that appears to be heading our way again next year.

With so many of the state’s Republicans congregated in El Paso (157,208 registered Republican voters), and the rapidly growing number of Trump-hating independents and Democrats pooling in previously-thought-of swing areas of the state, the GOP must orchestrate a phenomenal turnout of voters around Colorado Springs–or it has little chance of winning Colorado’s U.S Senate race next year, say analysts.

Hence, the importance of having a functional Republican Party entity in El Paso.

So the sudden resignation Tamra Farah, the leader of El Paso’s Republican Party, less than ten days before their biggest fundraiser of the year and amid allegations that leading donors refused to work with her, is certainly a cause for concern among Colorado Republicans across the state.

Tension among leaders of the Republican Party in El Paso, which includes Colorado Springs, has been evident for many years, but GOP infighting “came to a head” in recent months, State Rep. Dave Williams (R-CO Springs) told KNUS, a conservative radio station, Wednesday.

“I put this squarely at the feet of the establishment,” said Williams on air, referring moneyed Republicans who generally support more moderate candidates.

Williams alleged that establishment Republicans initially supported Farah but backed off, but he wouldn’t name the individuals involved.

“This is not a grassroots problem,” said Williams on air, referring to the faction of the Republican Party that backs more right-leaning candidates and usually has less financial backing.

“I don’t think [Farah] wanted to play games anymore with helping out insiders and their friends and their buddies,” said Williams on KNUS.


NPV Repeal Makes 2020 Ballot–But Will It Even Matter?

As the Colorado Independent reports:

The Secretary of State on Thursday certified that petitioners opposed to Colorado’s participation in the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact have collected enough signatures to place the matter on the November 2020 ballot.

This is a direct challenge to a bill passed earlier this year and signed into law by Democratic Gov. Jared Polis. The bill provoked a significant party-line fight at the Capitol, during which Democrats — who control the state House and Senate — expended much more political capital than they’d planned for. Republicans seeking to recall Polis and various Democratic lawmakers have alleged the bill is a key example of overreach during the past session.

According to the Secretary of State, Colorado hasn’t seen a state law challenged on the ballot since 1932, when voters overturned a tax on margarine.

That the ballot measure challenging this year’s National Popular Vote Interstate Compact law adopted by Colorado received enough signatures to make the 2020 ballot should come as a surprise to no one. In marked contrast to the recall petition drives underway showing little sign of success, backers of the NPV repeal initiative excitedly kept the press informed about their progress and turned in well over the required number.

Since the campaign to repeal the NPV Compact in Colorado got started last spring, we’ve been frank about the likelihood that its solidly Republican proponents would succeed in their petition drive, and be better served politically to organize around this effort than with recall campaigns against legislators in a few small districts. Since then, however, the debate over NPV has become cluttered with external factors like the recent federal court ruling in favor of so-called “faithless electors.” At the same time, the national NPV push appears to have stalled with several states having defeated their attempts to join the compact. As of this writing it’s very unlikely that the NPV Compact would be in effect for the 2020 elections, and even if it were it may not be enforceable against the wishes of Colorado electors.

Donald Trump.

And as we’ve said before, if NPV remains a partisan question in a state about to reject President Donald Trump on the same ballot, the repeal measure’s prospects are dim no matter how many Republican signatures they received.

To all of that uncertainty, here’s another twist–a column in Politico published Wednesday just ahead of the NPV question in Colorado making the ballot, by Republicans arguing that the National Popular Vote Compact is necessary for that party in the long term as well:

In the wake of the 2016 election, when Democrats lost the presidential election but won the popular vote for the second time in 20 years, it’s easy to understand why momentum to abolish the Electoral College once again gathered on the left. It’s not so easy to understand, though, why Republicans have become so committed against the idea of a national popular vote in response. [Pols emphasis]

The Denver Post recently reported that Republican Sen. Cory Gardner actually donated $50,000 to an effort to withdraw Colorado via a referendum from the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact. The compact is an agreement that state legislatures have voted to join that would pool the electoral votes from among the participating states. Once the 270-vote threshold has been reached between those participating states, they would award all of those votes to whoever wins the popular vote across all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Fifteen reliably blue states, plus the District of Columbia, have joined the compact since 2006, but it has not been as popular among Republicans—perhaps because of some kind of partisan loyalty to the Electoral College.

That loyalty is misguided, though. From a practical standpoint, moving to a national popular vote may well be the best way, and perhaps the only way, for Republicans to have a reasonable chance of winning the White House in 2020 and beyond. That’s because, despite President Donald Trump’s widely unexpected 2016 electoral victory, there is no red state advantage in the Electoral College. And things are going to look much, much worse for the GOP’s chances with the Electoral College if red Texas, along with the battleground state of Florida, move to purple or blue in the coming years.

This column makes a convincing argument that with large states like Texas and Florida steadily moving leftward, the still-large bloc of GOP voters in those states could save a Republican presidential candidate in a nationwide popular vote–voters whose voices are completely lost in today’s 50%+1 winner-take-all system. Which, we should add, has been the status quo for Republican voters in Colorado too in the last several presidential elections.

Like the panic over “faithless electors,” there’s a simple resolution: just make every voter’s vote equal.

Gardner Cites New Bipartisanship Report That Ignores All His Votes and Stances on Issues

Invisible Cory Gardner(Did someone change the definition of “bipartisan”? Did we miss that? — Promoted by Colorado Pols)

U.S. Senator Cory Gardner (R-CO) issued a news release Wednesday about a new report showing Gardner to be “one of the most bipartisan Senators” in Congress.

It turns out the report, produced by Quorum Analytics, a software company, looks at one narrow set of data: the number of bills Gardner co-sponsored with a Democrat as the lead sponsor.

Nothing else was taken into consideration, not Gardner’s actual votes, not the significance, impact, or symbolism of the co-sponsored legislation, not his official stances on issues, like guns, climate change, healthcare, and abortion.

Quorum spokeswoman Theresa Hebert said her company is not judging Gardner or any lawmaker but simply demonstrating the “value of our software with the statistics that we have at our disposal to show what’s going on in Congress.”

Asked if she thought Quorum’s report was too narrow and easily manipulated, Hebert said, “There are certainly other ways that you can measure [bipartisanship]. We are specifically looking at that data set. It’s certainly not the only one you could use.”

Gardner issued the news release, titled “Quorum Highlights Senator Gardner’s Strong Bipartisan Record,” and tweet citing the Quorum data.

“Colorado is a fiercely independent state,” said Gardner in the news release. “We judge ideas based on how they will affect the Centennial State, not by the letter that is next to someone’s name. Coloradans expect our elected officials to work across the aisle for the good of our entire state. I’m proud of my bipartisan record of results for Colorado, and I will always place the people of Colorado first.”

Gardner’s news release also cited his fifth-place ranking, earlier this year, by the Lugar Center, as Washington DC think tank, that also used bipartisan co-sponsorships as the basis for a more in-depth analysis.

Asked for his views on Lugar’s report, Norman Ornstein, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research, said he’s “not a fan of using cosponsorship as an indicator; it is a symbolic gesture for the vast majority of bills.”

When DC Comes Calling: How Quickly They Forget

Andrew Romanoff and would-be 2014 CD-6 primary opponent Karen Middleton.

As the intraparty tempest following the entry into the Democratic U.S. Senate primary of former Gov. John Hickenlooper continues apace today, and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee’s (DSCC) choice to endorse Hickenlooper from the outset in the race over a slate of lesser-known candidates continues to provoke debate, former Colorado House Speaker Andrew Romanoff is controversially slamming both Hickenlooper and Washington Democrats as morally equivalent to the Republican incumbent all sides say is the real target:

Two news stories broke today. One shows some of the nation’s most powerful corporate interests are bankrolling not only Cory Gardner’s campaign but also the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.

The second story shows the DSCC has spent the past six months blackballing our campaign—threatening to punish any firm that does business with us.

Why? Because I’m fighting for a Green New Deal and Medicare for All—priorities that don’t sit well with the party bosses and powerbrokers in DC…

The issue of whether national party strategists should endorse primary candidates based on their estimation of general election viability is of course perennially fraught in both parties. We’ll let readers reckon that moral question for themselves–we prefer to go case-by-case. But aside from the scorched-earth language Romanoff in particular continues to use, likening Hickenlooper and national Democrats he would presumably need as the nominee to the Republican in the race, there’s something important missing from this latest round of indignation.

Back in 2014, as the Denver Post’s Allison Sherry reported almost two years before that election in January of 2013, Romanoff was himself chosen by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) to end the CD-6 Democratic primary for a seat critical to national strategy that year:

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee wasn’t shy Tuesday in talking about how much they want a Romanoff-Coffman 2014 ticket.

“Mike Coffman’s Tea Party approach puts him out of step with voters in the district, and a candidate like Andrew Romanoff would present voters with a real opportunity to elect a leader whose values match theirs and who will protect the middle class,” said DCCC spokeswoman Emily Bittner.

By the end of the following month, February of 2013, all of the potential primary challengers to Romanoff in his ill-fated run for CD-6 in 2014 were unceremoniously out of the race. Romanoff ran unopposed for the CD-6 nomination, and went on to lose to Republican Rep. Mike Coffman by 9 points. It may be true that in both 2010 and now ahead of 2020, Romanoff was passed over for support by Washington, D.C. Democrats for another candidate–but in between those two events, in 2014, Romanoff benefited from exactly the same “favoritism” he’s mad about today.

We can’t be the only ones who remember this. Call it another past-due reality check.

What’s Next for Democrats Who Missed Debate Cut?

Tom Steyer

The field of candidates for the next Democratic Presidential debate is set, with 10 hopefuls invited to the stage in Houston on September 12.

Several candidates who failed to meet the threshold to qualify for the Houston debate — 130,000 individual donors and a 2% polling average in at least four DNC-approved polls — have exited the race. New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand became the latest candidate to bow out on Wednesday.

Missing the September debate is a big blow for candidates such as Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet, but it isn’t necessarily a death knell for 2020 aspirations. For those candidates who remain in the race (as of today), who is the most likely to withstand the September shunning and continue to run a competitive campaign?

As always, we want to know what you THINK, not who you support or would prefer to see successful. Cast your vote after the jump below…


Polis ‘Splains Global Energy Economy To COGA, COGA Freaks Out

Gov. Jared Polis (D).

The Denver Post’s John Aguilar reports on a delightful and long-overdue showdown between Gov. Jared Polis and the Colorado Oil and Gas Association yesterday, which culminated in Gov. Polis giving attendees at COGA’s annual meeting a remedial run-through of the state of global energy markets and oil prices in particular that left industry flacks, hacks, and shills with their jaws agape at the galling effrontery of it all:

Gov. Jared Polis told a large gathering of energy workers and executives Wednesday that what happens in oil-rich Venezuela and Russia — and in global commodity markets far and wide — has more bearing on the industry’s future in Colorado than do the potential effects of a sweeping and controversial state oil and gas bill passed earlier this year.

“Commodities pricing and the market is what drives things,” Polis said during a question and answer session with Colorado Oil and Gas Association President Dan Haley during a packed luncheon at the Colorado Convention Center in downtown Denver. “It has nothing to do with me, nothing to do with — well you know — our state politics and less even to do with national politics. It really has to do with supply and demand.”

But many in the room felt that emphasizing market forces over the effects of new regulations on energy extraction brought about by Senate Bill 181 was disingenuous on the part of the governor…

The Colorado Sun’s John Frank and Mark Jaffe, oh my!

“Well you know, I happen to be a Democrat so I worry much more about Trump’s tariffs and their impact on the infrastructure for the oil and gas industry and other industries, the closing down of overseas markets, the damage to the workforce readiness that he’s done with cracking down on immigration. So you can choose which side you worry about the economic threats from, but obviously I’m much more worried about who is president today than who will be president in a couple years,” Polis responded.

A moment later, after Polis rejected the suggestion that government regulation has the power to move markets, contradicting some economists, Haley asked the governor the question that served as the title for the conference session: “Can you still drill for oil in a blue state?”

“It’s just a silly question,” Polis said, adding that “it’s a geological question, it’s not a political question.” [Pols emphasis]

The Denver Business Journal’s Greg Avery–it’s just downright heresy!

“As long as commodity prices are good, you’re going to have a good business,” said Polis, a Boulder Democrat. “It has nothing to do with me, or very little.” [Pols emphasis]

…Polis’ remarks sounded outrageous to some. Barbara Kirkmeyer, Weld County Commissioner and a vocal supporter of the oil industry, afterward said she didn’t think the governor was being genuine when he said industry jobs are important.

“Telling oil operators about economics and then mocking?” Kirkmeyer said. “That’s unreal to me.”

Ever since the passage of Senate Bill 19-181 in the Colorado General Assembly this year, opponents have warned of dire consequences for the fossil fuel industry, lost jobs, and massive declines in oil and gas production. These warnings were never well-grounded in reality, especially after a host of amendments were made to the bill to placate the industry late in the legislative process. Dan Haley of COGA himself admitted that the bill would not have the destructive impact some opponents had irrationally forecast, the industry has continued to expand in key producing regions, and Barbara Kirkmeyer’s avowedly pro-oil Weld County just signed an agreement with the state to ensure a backlog of permit requests panic-filed during last year’s fight over Proposition 112 are processed quickly.

So, there’s that. But more importantly, Gov. Polis is absolutely right that the economics of drilling for oil and gas in Colorado and everywhere else are set by global energy markets, not by local regulations. Currently the price of oil is hovering between $55 and $60 a barrel, having recovered somewhat from a plunge at the beginning of 2019 to as low as $45 a barrel. Persistently high oil prices from 2010-14 ($80-$110) drove expansion of drilling in Colorado under Gov. John Hickenlooper, and the current low price of oil represents a vastly greater threat to the profitability of drilling here than any regulatory factor.

This is not liberal propaganda. It’s Energy Economics 101.

That energy industry bigwigs attending the COGA conference yesterday became so incensed over this reality check from Gov. Polis is more an indicator of long-term concerns about the viability of the fossil fuel industry than it is a reaction to any genuine impact of SB-181. When Polis tells them that if commodity prices support drilling, drilling will happen, he is right. And if the economics support drilling in Colorado, drillers can afford to follow rules to protect public health and safety.

We’ve remarked previously about the odd, almost religious devotion the fossil fuel industry demands from the political establishment in Colorado, backed up by a potent electoral operation and perfectly willing to mount wildly destructive attacks on the entire system like 2018’s Amendment 74. Popping that bubble makes the industry’s backers very upset, but that’s all Polis did yesterday–with facts no one can deny.

Gardner Growing Nervous About Trade War, Farmer Backlash

Well, look, if I wasn’t doing everything in my power to help farmers, then why would I be posing in front of a bunch of tractors?

American farmers are mad.

“I couldn’t vote for him. I have to protect my business,” Ohio soybean farmer Christopher Gribbs told CNBC earlier this month. Gribbs voted for Trump in 2016 and was once part of the President’s midwestern base, but no longer. “The geopolitical problems that we have with the Trump tariffs have weighed on market confidence and the market just can’t move.”

Trump’s trade war is costing American farmers BIGLY — and they’re going to be returning the favor in 2020; a survey from Farm Journal found that Trump’s support from farmers has dropped to 71 percent. As the New York Times explains:

More than a year into the trade dispute, sales of American soybeans, pork, wheat and other agricultural products to China have dried up as Beijing retaliates against Mr. Trump’s tariffs on Chinese imports. Lucrative contracts that farmers long relied on for a significant source of income have evaporated, with Chinese buyers looking to other nations like Brazil and Canada to get the commodities they need. Farm bankruptcy filings in the year through June were up 13 percent from 2018 and loan delinquency rates are on the rise, according to the American Farm Bureau.

The predicament of farmers is becoming a political problem for Mr. Trump as he heads into an election year. For months, farmers have remained resolute, continuing to pledge support to a president who says his trade policies will help the agricultural industry win in the end. While there are few signs of an imminent blue wave in farm country, a growing number of farmers say they are losing patience with the president’s approach and are suggesting it will not take much to lose their vote as well. [Pols emphasis]…

Via The New York Times (8/27/19)

President Trump’s trade war with China has farmers speaking out with increasing levels of anger. You can tell that these concerns are getting through to Republican lawmakers, because Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) is now pretending that he is riding to the rescue (spoiler alert: Nope). In a recent interview with Bente Birkeland of Colorado Public Radio (CPR), Gardner said some words:

“It is tough for businesses to plan and that’s why we need to have a resolution. And that’s why I have from day one even before, long before they went into effect said ‘Hey, you can’t do this. Don’t move forward on this,'” Gardner said. “And that’s why I support efforts to take that power back by Congress.”

Say what? If Gardner has said any of these things “from day one,” he has said them under his breath. The only thing Gardner has really said publicly is that tariffs are “a bad idea,” and he has repeatedly demurred when pressed for specifics.

As we all know, Gardner doesn’t push back against Trump on anything. There are a number of Republican Senators who have strongly opposed the Trump tariffs, but Gardner is most certainly not among them. Here’s what Gardner actually said about the tariffs earlier this summer, via Marianne Goodland of the Colorado Springs Gazette:

Gardner told Bloomberg News Monday that tariffs are “a bad idea, plain and simple.” His office declined to comment about whether his opposition would include any efforts to overturn the President’s authority under IEEPA. [Pols emphasis]

And this from Politico (June 7, 2019):

Several Republican senators are warning the president they would vote to overturn the new levies, though Gardner has not explicitly said he would go that far. [Pols emphasis]

You’re really giving him the business, Senator!

There’s Cory!

This has been the extent of Gardner’s “opposition.” He won’t even hint that he might support legislation to curb Trump’s tariff powers. But now that farmers are finally getting fed up, Gardner is putting inserts in his shoes to look taller.

Here’s more of Gardner’s pablum from Colorado Public Radio:

GARDNER: That’s why I oppose the tariffs, and that’s why I continued to try to find a solution that involves more trade opportunities, a more open trade without tariffs, to surround China and the bad actions that they have with a significant portion of the global economy so that they can’t pick our friends off and try to undermine us. And this isn’t just an interest of the United States to make sure that China behaves good. It’s an interest of the entire world to make China behave fairly when it comes to trade. I think the tariffs approach is the wrong way to do it, but we ought to continue our efforts to change their bad behavior while opening up Colorado opportunities.

“We ought to continue our efforts to change their bad behavior while opening up Colorado opportunities.” Shermanesque, he is not.

BIRKELAND: And so would you push President Trump to find a trade deal sooner rather than later?

GARDNER: I have already pushed President Trump to find a trade deal sooner rather than later. I’ve been meeting with the groups of senators over at the White House for well over a year and a half, bringing people like Sen. Ernst and Sen. Fisher to ag states, Sen. Graham and Sen. Alexander, more manufacturing based states, to the White House to talk about how we need a trade agreement. We need to enter into things like the Transpacific Partnership. We ought to have a European free trade agreement. I passed a bill called the Asia Reassurance Initiative Act, and the president signed it into law on December 31 of this past year. And in that legislation, it directs the administration to pursue multilateral and bilateral trade agreements, hopefully the first of which we’re starting to see with Japan.

Trade agreements with Japan, eh? Trump recently dismissed sales of wheat in Japan, saying the country was only buying from American farmers as a favor to the United States.

Got anything else, Sen. Gardner?


Well, then, let’s give the last word to an actual farmer:

“If [President Trump] doesn’t lose 100 percent of [votes] from the farm belt then people are kind of crazy because this is not going well for farmers at all.”

     — Bob Kuylen, North Dakota farmer (8/27/19)


Here’s the full interview with North Dakota farmer Bob Kuylen on CNN earlier this week:

Gardner Allegedly Changes Tune On Pueblo Recall Within 60 Seconds

(That’s pretty fast even for “Con Man Cory!” – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Tom Ready & Cory Gardner

According to the two people he spoke with, in the space of 60 seconds last Friday, U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO) flipped from expressing sympathy for state Senate President Leroy Garcia and misgivings about the recall process to telling a recall booster, “I’ve never said I was against recalls.”

Former Pueblo GOP chair Tom Ready shared a paraphrased version of the exchange on Facebook last weekend:

The State Fair’s Legislative BBQ is neutral territory for politicians. Elected officials from both sides of the aisle, often wearing Western apparel with still-visible store creases, mingle over pulled pork and potato salad. Conversations are typically friendly and casual, but talking politics is never off-limits for this crowd, especially with an active recall taking place in the host city.

Garcia confirmed the exchange last Friday between Gardner and himself, saying that Gardner approached him and his wife. As Garcia tells it:

Gardner: “Hey how are things down here?” Garcia: “Well, obviously you know it’s a bit of a busy season right now.” Gardner: “Yeah I’m kind of sorry that this is happening and I don’t know that this should be the process in which this is the way things work.”

Garcia noted that Tom Ready was standing next to them and “was caught up in the exchange” while it occurred. Ready then engaged Gardner directly about the recalls after he and Garcia had finished speaking.

Ready, who says he and Gardner have been friends for a long time, confirmed he was nearby during Gardner and Garcia’s conversation and that he spoke with Gardner immediately afterward.

“I spoke with Sen. Gardner about a minute later,” he said.


Report: Rep. Buck Will Retire, Brauchler/Neville Primary?

Colorado GOP chairman Rep. Ken Buck (R).

Newsmax, a right-wing media outlet not generally known for high journalistic standards, nonetheless reports news our readers will be keen to discuss:

Should Reps. Paul Cook, R-Calif., and Ken Buck, R-Colo., make their exits official, they will bring the number of House Republicans resigning, retiring, or seeking another office to 14…

Stalwart conservative Buck, 60, has held Colorado’s strongly Republican 4th District since 2014. In recent weeks, discussion of his not running again or even resigning from office persist. Last week, Buck (who also is state Republican chairman) raised eyebrows by failing to attend a major party function at which he was billed as a speaker along with Sen. Cory Gardner, R-Colo.

Centennial State sources told Newsmax that Arapahoe County District Attorney George Brauchler, who lost a tight race for state attorney general last year, and State House GOP Leader Patrick Neville, son of a popular former state senator, are considered certain candidates should Buck bow out. Both are conservative in the mold of Buck.

We reported back in May on word that Rep. Ken Buck may retire rather than run for re-election in 2020. At that time Buck’s office denied that report, saying “Congressman Buck has no official plans to retire anytime soon nor in the foreseeable future.” Something about that answer always seemed fishy, and now we may know why.

If Rep. Buck does decide to retire and focus on his newer job of chairman of the Colorado Republican Party, the prospect of a Republican primary to succeed him between Arapahoe County DA George Brauchler and House Minority Leader Patrick Neville would be, to say the least, very exciting–pitting two Republicans who have fiercely disagreed with each other on gun policy, with Brauchler having been targeted by Neville’s allies at Rocky Mountain Gun Owners with damaging ads blasting his (erstwhile) support for Colorado’s popular red flag law. There are some other potential candidates we wouldn’t rule out, but this would be a battle royale matchup with implications for the Colorado GOP’s long-term direction.

We’ve long known it’s a good idea to fact-check anything Ken Buck says.

The new rule appears to be, don’t accept the first round of denials either.

Gardner Special Guest At Trump’s NYC “Fall Retreat”

President Trump and Sen. Cory Gardner.

The Hill reports–Sen. Cory Gardner might not be head of the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) anymore, but he’l be getting plenty of high-profile donor face time at a Trump re-election campaign fundraiser this fall in New York City:

Former ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley will reportedly attend a fundraiser this fall for President Trump and Vice President Pence as a “special guest.”

Axios reported the invitation lists Haley alongside other featured guests including Donald Trump Jr., Kimberly Guilfoyle, and Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), who is up for reelection in 2020.

The fall retreat in early October is being held by the Trump Victory Committee, a joint fundraising committee of the Trump reelection campaign and the Republican National Committee.

It hasn’t been confirmed that this “retreat” will be taking place at one of President Donald Trump’s properties in New York City, though that’s been a great way for the Trump family to enjoy a kickback on such events in the past! Although Gardner’s appearance at this fundraiser isn’t likely to play well back at home in increasingly bluish Colorado, his loyalty is certain to be rewarded with more lavish praise from Trump, thus helping shore up Gardner’s shaky right flank. The Hill reports that the headlines from the event could revolve more around Nikki Haley–who just had to promise again that she’s not about to bump Vice President Mike Pence off the 2020 ticket.

Either way, Gardner and Donald Trump Jr. can swap hunting stories and avoid talking about October of 2016.

The End of the Line (Sort Of) for Michael Bennet

And then there were…none?

At the beginning of this month, there were two Colorado-based candidates seeking the Democratic nomination for President. By the time the calendar turns to September, there might be zero.

Former Gov. John Hickenlooper formally ended his Presidential campaign on August 15, and Sen. Michael Bennet may not be far behind. Candidates seeking the Democratic Presidential nomination have until the end of the day today to hit two benchmarks to qualify for the September debate in Houston: 1) Demonstrate contributions from at least 130,000 individual donors, and 2) Reach 2% in at least four DNC-approved polls. Bennet has not met either threshold, and he’s not particularly close (Bennet’s polling average is in the neighborhood of 0.4%).

As Dan Merica writes for CNN, failing to qualify for next month’s debate will be a tough blow to overcome:

Publicly, many of these candidates — like Montana Gov. Steve Bullock and former Rep. John Delaney — are pledging to forge ahead and downplaying the impact of missing the media moment. But privately, nearly every campaign that has missed the debate stage is worried about staying relevant with both voters and donors while not being part of the contest.

And the lack of an invite has already contributed to the thinning of the field. Massachusetts Rep. Seth Moulton and Washington Gov. Jay Inslee both dropped out — in part — because they weren’t going to qualify for the debate, according to people close to the two Democrats…

…According to Matt Corridoni, Moulton’s spokesman, it’s likely that all the campaigns will underestimate the negative impact missing the debate stage will have on them…

“At a certain point you have to weigh viability and, like it or not, polls follow media coverage, media coverage follows polls and voters are using these debates to help them figure out and pare down candidates,” said Corridoni. “So if you are not on that stage, you have to really be able to penetrate the media cycle. It is a near impossible task.”

An Inslee aide echoed Corridoni.

“It was clear that he wasn’t going to make the debate and it is very difficult to stay in the race if you aren’t going to make the debate stage,” the aide said.

It appears that 10 Democratic candidates have met both requirements for the Houston debate: former Vice President Joe Biden, New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker, South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg, former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro, California Sen. Kamala Harris, Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, former Rep. Beto O’Rourke, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren and businessman Andrew Yang. Three other candidates have met the fundraising threshold but not the polling requirements (Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, businessman Tom Steyer, and author/mystic Marianne Williamson).

Steyer didn’t enter the race until July; because of his personal wealth and the fact that he’s collected a significant number of individual donors, he can probably hang around for awhile. Staying in the race will be a tougher call for Gabbard. It probably doesn’t really matter either way what Williamson decides to do going forward.

The writing is on the wall for Bennet, though he may have already accomplished his true goal of raising his profile enough to get a top job in the next Democratic Presidential administration as Secretary of…something. Bennet might even been an attractive option for Vice President, depending on who wins the Democratic nomination (it makes less sense for Biden or Sanders to choose Bennet as a running mate).

Bennet isn’t going to be the next President of the United States, but if he plays his cards right — and if Donald Trump isn’t re-elected in 2020 — then he could have a prominent role in American politics in the next 4-8 years. In that context, tomorrow could be both the beginning of the end and the end of the beginning for Michael Bennet.

Can Joe Biden Be Stopped?

Joe F’ing Biden (D).

Two new polls out today show former vice president Joe Biden pulling away in the Democratic presidential primary race, as Politico reports:

Thirty-two percent of likely Democratic voters favor Biden as the party’s pick to take on President Donald Trump in next year’s election, according to a USA TODAY/Suffolk University poll released Wednesday.

Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren ranks in second place with 14 percent, followed by Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders with 12 percent. South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg and California Sen. Kamala Harris both received 6 percent. Entrepreneur Andrew Yang, who polled at 3 percent, was the only other candidate to garner more than 2 percent support.

Biden similarly dominated a Quinnipiac University poll published later Wednesday morning, again achieving 32 percent support among Democratic voters and independent voters who lean Democratic.

Both of these latest polls show Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont now trailing Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, who continues to work her way into the #2 spot while both Warren and Biden pull support away from Sanders and the rest of the pack. In an Emerson poll of Colorado voters released last week, Sanders was narrowly ahead of Biden with Warren trailing them by single digits.

The sum of all available data today confirms again a consolidating three-way race between Biden, Warren, and Sanders for the Democratic presidential nomination: with Joe Biden the candidate to beat, Bernie Sanders with sagging but still strong built-in support, and Elizabeth Warren coming on strong–and ready to capitalize on either nominal frontrunner’s emerging weakness.

And there’s plenty of time yet for these numbers to move.

Republican Won’t Seek Re-Election As CU Regent

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

University of Colorado Regent John Carson, a Republican representing a Democratic-leaning district, has decided not to run for re-election next year, widening the highway for Democrats to color Colorado a deeper hue of blue.

Republicans currently hold a tenuous one-seat majority on CU’s Board of Regents, which fell under intense scrutiny after it voted in a 5-4 party line vote in May to appoint CU President Mark Kennedy, a former GOP Congressman, to be CU’s President.

Carson’s departure from the race leaves Republicans without the advantage of incumbency in a district where Democrats have a distinct, but not overwhelming, advantage. The district covers Aurora and suburbs south, east, and north of Denver.

CU Regent Carson

A Democratic victory next year would likely flip CU’s governing board, as two regents up for re-election next year come from solid blue districts that would be expected to elect Democrats.

Gaining a majority on the board of regents would mark another step in a steady takeover of statewide representative bodies and offices by Democrats, having flipped the state Senate and Colorado State Board of Education last year–as well as the secretary of state, treasurer, and attorney general offices.

Only two Colorado Republicans remain in offices that require approval by voters statewide: U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO), who will defend his seat next year, and CU Regent at-large Heidi Ganahl, who’s up for re-election in 2022.

Republicans have held a majority on the Board of Regents for a jaw-dropping 40 years, and the board has a history of appointing Republican Presidents, like Kennedy, Bruce Benson, Hank Brown (a former Colorado Senator), and others.

Carson told the Colorado Times Recorder that he decided not to run primarily because he’s been dedicated to public service, in various capacities, for 14 years, and he wants to spend more time with family and elsewhere.

Asked if the political climate in Carson’s district was a factor in his decision, Carson said it would have been a close race that would have demanded a lot of his time.