State Lawmakers Select Caucus Leaders

FRIDAY UPDATE: House Democrats have selected Rep. Julie McCluskie of Dillon to be the next Speaker of the House. Here are the rest of the leadership positions:

House Majority Leader: Monica Duran
Assistant House Majority Leader: Jennifer Bacon
Co-Whips: Iman Jodeh & Andrew Boesenecker
Caucus Chairs: Brianna Titone & Mandy Lindsay
Joint Budget Committee: Emily Sirota & Shannon Bird 

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State Rep. Mike Lynch and his giant hat will now attempt to corral House Republicans.

Colorado Democrats may well end up with 69 out of 100 state legislative seats when the final votes are tallied, creating super-majorities in both the State Senate and State House.

It was against this background that Colorado Republicans met today to select their caucus leaders in the legislature. The meetings did not take long because, well, there aren’t that many of them left.

In the battle for House Minority Leader, Rep. Mike Lynch (Larimer/Weld Counties) defeated Rep. Stephanie Luck by a vote of 12-5. This job probably would have gone to Colin Larson had Larson not been defeated by Democrat Tammy Story in HD-25 (South Jeffco). Republicans didn’t have a lot of options here, but at least they avoided the worst-case scenario of putting a conspiracy theorist like Luck in charge.

Republicans selected newly-elected Rose Pugliese to be Assistant Minority Leader. Pugliese ran unopposed for the position, which speaks volumes about the GOP leadership vacuum in Colorado. The #2 person in the GOP House caucus has literally NO EXPERIENCE as a state legislator. 

The new House Minority Whip is Rep. Richard Holtorf, who ran unopposed. Holtorf is the same guy who infamously dropped a loaded gun on the floor during the last legislative session and has a history of making disgusting racist comments. So, neat!

Rounding out the leadership positions: Rep. Mary Bradfield defeated Ken DeGraf to become GOP caucus chair, and Rod Bockenfeld was unopposed in his bid to be the House GOP leader on the Joint Budget Committee (JBC).

Over in the State Senate, all leadership positions were made by acclamation; there were no challenges for any of the top 5 leadership spots. As expected, Sen. Paul Lundeen is the new Senate Minority Leader. The Assistant Minority Leader is Bob Gardner; Caucus Chair is Jim Smallwood, and ranking JBC member is Bob Rankin. Fresh off her loss to Democrat Yadira Caraveo in congressional district eight, Sen. Barbara Kirkmeyer’s booby prize is to serve as Minority Whip for Senate Republicans.

Democrats are holding leadership elections this afternoon on the House side. In the State Senate, Steve Fenberg was elected Senate President and James Coleman is President Pro-Tempore; Dominick Moreno is Senate Majority Leader; Rob Rodriguez is Assistant Majority Leader; Julie Gonzales is Majority Whip; Janet Buckner is Caucus Chair; and Rachel Zenzinger and Jeff Bridges join the JBC.

The Get More Smarter Podcast Breaks Down the Bluenami

This week on the Get More Smarter Podcast, your hosts Jason Bane and Ian Silverii talk once again with Seth Masket, Director of the Center on American Politics at the University of Denver, to break down the massive Bluenami that overtook Colorado on Election Day.

And, no, we still don’t know who won the race in CO-03 between Republican Lauren Boebert and Democrat Adam Frisch.

Listen to previous episodes of The Get More Smarter Podcast at GetMoreSmarter.com.

Questions? Comments? Complaints? Let us have it at AngryRants@getmoresmarter.com. Or send emails to jason@getmoresmarter.com or ian@getmoresmarter.com.

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Pueblo Republican Who’s Recruiting Poll Watchers for Boebert Race Is an Election Denier

(This could be interpreted as problematic — Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Christy Fidura w/ Lauren Boebert & Matt Gaetz at the Pueblo GOP Lincoln Day Dinner

In a race that may determine control of the U.S. House of Representatives, election workers across Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District are still counting votes to determine if dark horse Democrat Adam Frisch will upset Congresswoman Lauren Boebert.

In Pueblo, the largest city in the district, the local Republican recruiting GOP poll watchers to oversee the tabulation is an election denier.

Christy Fidura, who uses the name “Chrissy Ruckus” on Facebook, has repeatedly promoted election fraud conspiracies online, given trainings to conservatives on how to “stop the steal,” and even attended MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell’s most recent election fraud conspiracy conference in August.

In addition to being involved with the Pueblo Republican Party, Fidura runs the grassroots conservative group Pueblo County Patriots, which is filled with election denial conspiracies.

Last April she recruited members of her group to attend an election fraud conspiracy presentation held by the U.S. Election Integrity Plan (USEIP) and the Republican Study Committee of Colorado

Part of Fidura’s pitch to her members was that those attending “will be trained on how to clean these voter rolls up locally to ensure Election Integrity in the future. Those that are trained will lead teams in Pueblo.”

(more…)

Counting To Determine Lauren Boebert’s Fate Grinds On

UPDATE #2: Watch out, Lauren Boebert is throwing fellow Republicans under the bus:

The problem couldn’t possibly be Boebert. That’s inconceivable!

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CD-3 Democratic candidate Adam Frisch.

UPDATE: The latest statement from Adam Frisch as counting goes on:

The race to represent Colorado’s third congressional district is still too close to call with thousands of ballots, including from the military and overseas, remaining to be counted. On Thursday, Rep. Boebert’s opponent Adam Frisch issued the following statement:

“Everyone in this district deserves to have their voice heard, regardless of political affiliation, and I am confident that each and every valid ballot will be counted,” Frisch said. “In particular, we must honor and respect those who serve our country by ensuring that every military ballot is taken into account. Every vote matters in this incredibly close race and thousands of votes in Pueblo County and from military and overseas voters remain, and a considerable number of curable ballots remain as well. It is crucial for our democracy to count every vote and I have full confidence in the 27 county clerks in this district to conduct a fair count. While I remain confident, I will ultimately respect the results of this election regardless of the outcome.”

“The closeness of this race is a testament to the fact that the people of Western and Southern Colorado are growing tired of the angertainment industry that Boebert is a part of and want a representative who will fight for bipartisan solutions to the issues facing their families, their businesses, and communities,” Frisch added.

Boebert is lagging far behind expectations in CO-3, a district that election prognosticators and pundits widely considered to be safe for Boebert, particularly after a redistricting process that favored Republicans. The district favors Republicans by 7 points and elected President Trump by a 15 point margin in 2016. Voters in the district haven’t elected a Democrat to Congress since 2008. The historically close race points to the ability of Frisch, a conservative businessman, to build a coalition of Republican, Democrat, and Unaffiliated voters.

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The Pueblo Chieftain’s Anna Lynn Winfrey has the latest on ballot-counting in Colorado’s CD-3 race, where Democratic challenger Adam Frisch has led incumbent freshman GOP carnival of crazy Rep. Lauren Boebert by a steadily narrowing margin…until this morning:

Republican incumbent Lauren Boebert has now taken the lead from Democratic challenger Adam Frisch as thousands of votes are still being counted in Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District.

A new batch of data from Otero County, a rural community east of Pueblo, put Boebert up over Frisch by 386 votes.

Frisch was leading Election Day and maintained a razor-thin margin over Boebert through Thursday morning. Before the Otero County results were uploaded, Frisch was leading by only 62 votes.

Even though Boebert has pulled narrowly ahead with updates from small but deep-red Otero County, this thing is far from over:

Results from approximately 7,000 additional ballots are expected today from Pueblo County, the largest in the district by population. Frisch is up in Pueblo, with 54% of votes.

7,000 more ballots to drop in Pueblo could be enough if the current margins hold to flip the race back to Frisch. There is also reportedly some number of ballots yet to be counted in Pitkin County, Frisch’s home base and breaking heavily in his direction. Yesterday, 9NEWS’ Kyle Clark asserted that his team’s analysis of the remaining ballots to be counted indicates Frisch will prevail:

The sweeping victory for Colorado Democrats this year reached by what any reasonable pre-election analysis would have considered the best-case scenario with the secession concession of Republican Barb Kirkmeyer in Colorado’s brand-new CD-8. Even with Adam Frisch running a strong campaign and polling within striking distance, few expected Frisch to actually be in a position to oust Boebert in this Republican-leaning district. Whatever happens now, Frisch has blown away Boebert’s presumption of invulnerability after easily beating her Republican primary challenger Don Coram.

If Boebert survives this incredibly close race in what was supposed to be an adverse election year for Democrats, she’ll be a top target in 2024 now, perhaps from Frisch himself. But if Boebert does lose–and accepts the loss, of course–it’s the capstone achievement in an already historic election for Colorado Democrats. There would be nothing more Democrats could realistically have won in Colorado this year.

It would also be the end of an embarrassment to all of Colorado, without partisan distinction.

We’ll update with new developments as they come in. Stay tuned.

Joe O’Dea: Con Man, Or Victim Of A Long Con?

Republican Senate candidate Joe O’Dea waves goodbye to several million dollars.

The dust is settling after the sweeping Democratic triumph in Colorado in the 2022 elections Tuesday, turning what was once hyped as a coming “red wave” into a cementing of total control over state government by Democrats, expanding their majorities in the Colorado House and Senate and easily re-electing the downballot statewide Democrats who historically were regular victims of ticket-splitting. The results of the 2022 election show much less ticket-splitting in general than prior elections, with voters staying faithful to Democratic candidates all the way down the ballot.

In the closing weeks of the campaign, as readers know, the poll averages maintained 538 and other aggregators were pretty close to the outcome in the two top Colorado races: clearly showing gubernatorial candidate Hiedi Heidi Ganahl losing in excess of 15% and U.S. Senate candidate Joe O’Dea losing around 10%. But in the final days before Tuesday’s election, Colorado’s poll averages in the Senate race were thrown off by what we now know were highly inaccurate partisan polls showing Republicans far more competitive than would turn out to be the case. As the Washington Post’s Dana Milbank reports, those bogus last-minute polls were part of a Republican headfake to motivate their own base and fool gullible reporters:

Political journalists were suckered by a wave of Republican junk polls in the closing weeks of the campaign. They were also swayed by some reputable polling organizations that, burned by past failures to capture MAGA voters, overweighted their polls to account for that in ways that simply didn’t make sense. And reporters fell for Republican feints and misdirection, as Republican operatives successfully created an artificial sense of momentum by talking about how they were spending money in reliably blue areas…

It was telling that Republican campaigns didn’t release their own polls to confirm the dubious results Trafalgar and Rasmussen were producing. Still, such polling helped skew handicapping websites. RealClearPolitics, for example, moved Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) into “toss-up” status in the closing days of his reelection bid. Bennet beat his Republican opponent by double digits. [Pols emphasis]

Ex-Sen. Cory Gardner, Joe O’Dea.

Coming into the 2022 elections, Democrats nationwide were battling against an entrenched presumption that the party in power always suffers during the midterms. In Colorado, facing an electorate very much soured on the GOP brand, Republicans tried to position themselves as “a different kind of Republican” in the Cory Gardner mold–but general election voters never believed it according to the polls. Hype and spin from the campaign aside, O’Dea never lived up to the post-partisan image he wanted to project, and the “moderate” veneer O’Dea tried so hard to hold together fell apart under scrutiny. Attempts to show an endearing personality like riding his horse through the suburbs to get strip-mall sushi instead became punchlines for jokes about out-of-touch rich people.

As Election Day approached and the polls continued to show the major Colorado races locked in their respective ranges, the sudden bewildering announcement that Real Clear Politics had moved the Colorado Senate race to a toss-up gave Joe O’Dea’s campaign an infusion of false hope.

Real Clear Politics has shifted its prediction of a hotly contested Senate race in Colorado from leaning toward Democratic victory to a “toss up” as several high profile races across the country continue to tighten with Republicans hoping to take back control of the chamber next week.

On its updated election prediction map, Real Clear Politics now shows the race between Democratic incumbent Sen. Michael Bennet and his challenger, Republican construction magnate Joe O’Dea, is classified as a “toss up” after previously being viewed as “Leans Dem.”

The fake polls showing the race tightening led directly to this:

While Real Clear Politics moved Colorado’s Senate race to a “toss-up” based on polls that turned out to be completely wrong, O’Dea poured another million and a half dollars of his own money into his campaign–a significant percentage of the total of $4.6 million O’Dea ponied up throughout the race. It’s one of the clearest cases we’ve ever seen of a candidate “believing his own bullshit,” throwing good money after bad in a race that ended up close to the worst-case scenario.

That brings us to a central question of Joe O’Dea’s failed Senate campaign.

Did O’Dea’s campaign consultants, led by Josh Penry, take him for a ride?

Joe O’Dea proudly ran as a candidate with no political experience, and despite repeated promises never received significant outside help from national Republicans. This resulted in O’Dea, with a net worth upwards of $77 million, funding this race largely by himself–despite promises from Republican leadership like Mitch McConnell, who declared the party “all in” for O’Dea but never followed those words up with dollars. And when these last-minute fake polls flooded the averages, O’Dea’s consultants, who knew or should have known those polls were not reliable, nonetheless did not prevent O’Dea from dumping another million and a half into what we now know was a futile effort.

Looking at his race with the benefit of hindsight, O’Dea’s duplicitous attempt to triangulate off the Republican brand while bringing a who’s who of Republican big names to the state to campaign for him could be reasonably termed a con job. But it’s also possible that Joe O’Dea was the victim of a larger and longer con job, by consultants who pretended this campaign had a shot in order to extract money from Joe O’Dea.

Joe O’Dea never had a chance. If any one of O’Dea’s “crew” of loyalists had been honest enough to say so, he could have saved a lot of money. Instead, “Joe’s Crew,” with the help of the Republican fake news industrial complex, fleeced their sucker to the very end.

That’s sure what it looks like, anyway.

These Election Questions Are Still Awaiting Answers

UPDATE 6:00PM: CD-8 GOP candidate Barb Kirkmeyer concedes secession defeat to Yadira Caraveo.

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Several Colorado races are still waiting to be decided today, including the final margins for control of the State Senate and State House.

Here’s what we’re watching (results current as of 11:42 am):

A clearly nervous Lauren Boebert late Tuesday night.

CONGRESS

Democrat Adam Frisch remains ahead of Republican incumbent Lauren “Q*Bert” Boebert in CO-03.

Democrat Yadira Caraveo is also still leading Republican Barb Kirkmeyer in CO-08.

Remarkably, these two seats could actually play a significant role in deciding whether or not Democrats retain majority control in Congress.

The race in CO-03 has narrowed, but Frisch is still leading Boebert by 2,449 votes (50.4% to 49.6%).

In CO-08, Caraveo is ahead of Kirkmeyer by 3,451 votes (49% to 47%).

We should know more after about 2:00 today, but from what we hear, Democrats crunching the numbers are feeling pretty confident that both Frisch and Caraveo will maintain their leads.

 

STATE SENATE

Democrats will maintain majority control of the Senate — a scenario that was certainly not a foregone conclusion entering Election Day. The question now is about how much Democrats might grow that advantage.

We’re keeping a close eye on SD-3 (Pueblo), SD-11 (Colorado Springs), SD-15 (Fort Collins), and SD-24 (Adams County).

In SD-3, Democrat Nick Hinrichsen has a 2,933-vote lead over Republican Stephen Varela (53% to 47%).

In SD-11, Democrat Tony Exum leads Republican Dennis Hisey by 1,978 votes (51% to 44%).

In SD-24, Democrat Kyle Mullica is ahead of Republican Courtney Potter by 5,043 votes (55% to 43%).

Also noteworthy — and a bit unexpected — is the race in SD-15, where Democrat Janice Marchman is ahead of incumbent Republican Sen. Rob Woodward by 2,137 votes (52% to 48%).

If Democrats hold on to leads in these four seats, they will expand their Senate majority from a 21-14 margin to a 23-12 advantage.

 

State Rep. Colin Larson, the man who was to be House Minority Leader

STATE HOUSE

There are several races in the State House that are still undecided. The most interesting to watch are in HD-16 (El Paso County), HD-19 (Northern Colorado), HD-25 (Jefferson County), HD-43 (Douglas County), and HD-50 (Greeley).

Of this group, HD-25 is of particular interest. Incumbent Republican Rep. Colin Larson is currently losing to Democrat Tammy Story by 1,596 votes (51% to 47%). Following the death of former House Minority Leader Hugh McKean, Larson was widely viewed as the person most likely end up as House Minority Leader. Now it looks like he won’t be in the House AT ALL.

HD-19 is another surprise, with Democrat Jennifer Lea Parenti leading incumbent Republican Rep. Dan Woog by 1,639 votes (51% to 46%).

In HD-16, Democrat Stephanie Vigil is leading Republican Dave Donelson by just 737 votes (50% to 47%).

In HD-43, Democrat Bob Marshall is ahead of Republican Kurt Huffman by 823 votes (51% to 49%).

In HD-50, incumbent Democratic Rep. Mary Young leads Republican Ryan Gonzalez by 426 votes (50% to 47%).

Democrats already held an unprecedented majority in the State House with a 41-24 margin. Should the above results hold, Democrats will control a beyond-unprecedented 46-19 super majority in the lower chamber. 

By the time the counting is complete, Democrats may well hold a total of 69 of the 100 legislative seats in both chambers combined.

Midterm Election Day 2022 Open Thread #2

UPDATE 9:30PM: There is one Republican apparently happy about tonight’s results in Colorado:

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UPDATE 9:20PM: Colorado Democrats officially running the table, winning all of the statewide constitutional races. Yadira Caraveo narrowly ahead in Colorado’s new CD-8, and what could be the shocker of the night Adam Frisch is ahead of freshman GOP vortex of trainwreckery Rep. Lauren Boebert.

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UPDATE 8:00PM: Seeing the beginnings of a Democratic blowout in Colorado, with the races for U.S. Senate and governor called early in the night:

Numbers are starting to trickle in from the East Coast. Here we go…

Colorado Republicans Lie About Fentanyl To The Bitter End

 

Last night, 9NEWS’ Marshall Zelinger took aim at yet another egregiously false campaign message, this time from the Colorado Republican Committee itself–with a similar degree of mendacity as GOP CD-8 candidate Barb Kirkmeyer flat-out lying in a campaign ad that Colorado Democrats “legalized fentanyl,” this shareable graphic identifies Attorney General Phil Weiser and CD-8 Democratic candidate Yadira Caraveo as “pro-fentanyl politicians.”

It was another opportunity for 9NEWS to point out as they did with Kirkmeyer’s ad that these are not unintentional misstatements but knowing and deliberate falsehoods, thus elevating the proper descriptor from “false” to “lie”–a word that journalists are very reluctant to use unless the conclusion is unavoidable.

Over the weekend, the Denver Post’s Seth Klamann finally got Kirkmeyer’s campaign on the record with respect to their false ad, and it’s clear from spokesman Alan Philp’s response that the campaign is fully aware and unapologetic about their totally indefensible lie that Democrats “legalized fentanyl.”

Fentanyl isn’t — and hasn’t been — legalized in Colorado. The 2019 bill made it a misdemeanor to possess 4 grams or less of several substances, including fentanyl, but it remained a crime to have any amount of it. That bill also did not change penalties for dealing drugs — that remains a felony. Democrats stress these nuances but Republicans see it as less an argument over facts than semantics. Asked about the ad’s inaccuracy, Kirkmeyer spokesman and consultant Alan Philp said the campaign was “glad” to haggle over fentanyl being “technically” illegal. [Pols emphasis]

Philp’s brazen contempt for the truth is fully evident in this response. This is not a question of “semantics.” A strategic decision was made to tell an outright lie, based on the assumption that any debate over fentanyl was a winner for Republicans. In Philp’s view, even being called a liar is acceptable because they consider themselves in control of the narrative.

The only question now is whether voters will reward the exceptionally deceptive message Colorado Republicans are shamelessly doubling down on in the closing hours of this election. To the extent that voters do, it normalizes and encourages the Donald Trump-inspired strategy of freely detaching campaign rhetoric from reality.

It would be better for the country in a long-term sense if this kind of behavior was not rewarded.

Ballot Return Update (Election Day)

Here are the most recent ballot return numbers via the Colorado Secretary of State’s office. A total of 1,686,304 ballots had been returned as of yesterday.

 

Here’s a bit more context on what these numbers mean. The short version is that Republicans continue to lag behind Unaffiliated and Democratic voters:

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