The Get More Smarter Podcast: Let’s Talk About Polling

Andrew Baumann

This week on The Get More Smarter Podcast, Turd Ferguson makes his debut in front of the Independent Ethics Commission; a police accountability bill moves surprisingly swiftly through the state legislature; and the walls are caving in for one political party.

Hosts Jason Bane and Ian Silverii also interview Andrew Baumann, Senior Vice President of Research at Global Strategy Group, for insights on interesting poll numbers in Colorado and throughout the country. We also take a step back and ask Baumann how pollsters make their research scientifically-valid and why a small percentage of people still claim to be unfamiliar with Donald Trump.

If you missed last week’s episode, check it out when you’re done here.

Questions? Comments? Complaints? Hit us up at

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Come For The Donald, Stay For The COVID!

Donald Trump, Cory Gardner in Colorado Springs, 2/20/20.

As The Hill’s Brett Samuels reports, President Donald Trump has scheduled a rally for next Thursday in Tulsa, Oklahoma–the first Trump rally since the country with into lockdown to fight the COVID-19 pandemic. President Trump’s choice to hold a rally in Tulsa, the scene of an historic race riot, on the Juneteenth holiday commemorating the end of slavery, has been roundly criticized as either insensitive in the extreme or even a deliberate racial provocation.

But there’s another problem with showing up at this rally:

The Trump campaign on Thursday formally announced that the president’s first rally in three months will take place June 19 in Tulsa. The page for guests to sign up for free tickets to the event includes a disclaimer related to the virus.

“By clicking register below, you are acknowledging that an inherent risk of exposure to COVID-19 exists in any public place where people are present,” the statement reads. [Pols emphasis]

“By attending the Rally, you and any guests voluntarily assume all risks related to exposure to COVID-19 and agree not to hold Donald J. Trump for President, Inc.; BOK Center; ASM Global; or any of their affiliates, directors, officers, employees, agents, contractors, or volunteers liable for any illness or injury.”

Reading this story, we immediately recalled the February 20 rally hosted by Trump in Colorado Springs with Sen. Cory Gardner. Although Gardner today plays up his supposed serious concerns about the spreading pandemic as early as late January, there was no social distancing to be seen at his rally with Trump and twenty thousand or so friends inside and outside the Broadmoor World Arena–except perhaps when Trump awkwardly denied Gardner’s incoming man hug.

We assume there was some kind of boilerplate disclaimer on the February 20 rally tickets about how attendees arrive at their own risk, and to watch out for foul balls and broken bats. But in retrospect, disclaimer language specifically pertaining to COVID would certainly have been in order on February 20–and Cory Gardner, if he was anything near as presciently worried about the pandemic as he claims he was by that time, would have insisted on it. Or more likely not showed up at all.

Good luck Tulsa, and we’ll check in on your case numbers in a couple of weeks.

More “Real History” with State Rep. Lori Saine

State Rep. Lori Saine (R-Firestone) dropping some knowledge on lawmakers on Thursday.

At least once during the 2019 legislative session, State Rep. Lori Saine (R-Firestone) — who is also the House Minority Caucus Chair — delivered a questionable history lesson during a floor speech in the House of Representatives. In 2019, Saine talked about how Christopher Columbus really wasn’t such a bad guy. On Thursday, Saine delivered another history lesson that was so incredibly bizarre that we felt it was our duty to share this knowledge with Colorado Pols readers.

Saine took to the floor today in opposition to HB20-1420, “Adjust Expenditures for State Education Fund” (otherwise known as “The Tax Fairness Act”). In order to provide more funding for public education in Colorado, which was among the many cuts made to balance the state budget amid a $3.3 billion shortfall, HB20-1420 would revoke tax breaks from the 2017 Trump Tax Cut for Rich People; restrict certain cuts included in the federal coronavirus stimulus bill (the CARES Act); and reduce some state tax credits for certain industries. Supporters of the bill say it could raise about $278 million for public schools in Colorado.

Saine doesn’t like this bill, so she stepped into the well on the House floor and delivered a whopper of a rambling speech that included references to “Atlas Shrugged,” Adam Smith, Henry Ford, Rep. Richard Holtorf, and the process of making a pencil. Here’s one of our favorite lines:

Atlas shrugs, and we are left to make our own pencils.

Despite Saine’s objections, HB20-1420 was later approved by the House of Representatives.

You can watch Saine’s speech here. We also transcribed her entire diatribe, which is available in full after the jump…



Ken Buck’s Perjury Doo-Doo Deepens

Rep. Ken Buck (R).

The Denver Post’s Conrad Swanson updates the developing story of an apparent attempt last month by Rep. Ken Buck, acting in his capacity as chairman of the Colorado Republican Party, to pressure a subordinate party volunteer to falsify a sworn affidavit on assembly results in order to qualify at least one candidate for the June 30th primary ballot:

U.S. Rep. Ken Buck of Windsor must defend actions he took as Colorado Republican Party chairman or face a possible investigation by a state office that oversees attorneys’ conduct.

A representative for the Colorado Office of Attorney Regulation wrote to Buck earlier this month asking that he answer questions about a recorded conversation in which he pressured a local party official to submit incorrect election results to set the primary ballot for a state Senate seat in El Paso County…

The Denver District Court chief judge ruled that filing the paperwork would have indeed been illegal. The Colorado Supreme Court cemented the decision when it declined to hear the Republican Party’s appeal.

While the office awaits a response from Buck, allegations of election fraud and corruption made against several Weld County Republicans — including one of Buck’s congressional aides — remain under consideration by the Colorado Attorney General’s Office.

It’s been several weeks since the controversy exploded in early May over Buck’s attempt to induce Senate District 10 district chairman Eli Bremer to falsify the results of the district assembly, in order to place a challenger to Rep. Larry Liston on the ballot in the race to succeed term-limited Sen. Owen Hill. We’ve heard differing excuses for Buck’s recorded conversation with Bremer, in which Bremer clearly outlines and disavows the violation of the law Buck is demanding–later confirmed in a lawsuit filed on Bremer’s behalf that went all the way to the Colorado Supreme Court. Explanations range from grudges against longtime Rep. Liston among local party officials, to a misguided determination on the part of Buck to “be nice” no matter what the law says about the required support to make the primary ballot.

But the fact remains that pressuring a subordinate official to falsify a sworn affidavit, which Buck did in this case for whatever reason, is a criminal act. And even if no prosecutor brings a charge against Buck, as an attorney Buck is subject an additional level of oversight to prevent dishonest conduct of exactly this sort.

If you’ve watched Better Call Saul, you know how this works. Buck has a problem now that won’t just go away.

Tom “Send in the Troops” Cotton Mobilizes for Gardner

Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) is raising money for Sen Cory Gardner.

Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) is rolling out endorsements from fellow Republican Senators and spending a lot of money on Facebook to promote them in an effort to raise more money for his own re-election bid. For obvious reasons, Gardner’s campaign has been less enthusiastic about announcing one particular endorsement.

This week Gardner promoted endorsements/fundraising pleas from Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham. Gardner’s campaign is also spending money promoting an endorsement from Arkansas Sen. Tom “Send in the Troops” Cotton; curiously, Gardner’s campaign hasn’t yet mentioned this endorsement outside of its Facebook ad spending disclosure.

Using Cotton’s endorsement in any capacity is a strange choice after the Arkansas Republican made national headlines last week for a fascist Op-Ed published in The New York Times in which Cotton called for an armed military response — “send in the troops” — in response to nationwide protests related to the murder of George Floyd. The Times later amended a note on the Op-Ed, writing “the tone of the essay in places is needlessly harsh and falls short of the thoughtful approach that advances useful debate.”

Gardner hasn’t said a peep about President Trump’s militant rhetoric in response to the protests, and now he’s throwing in his lot with a controversial Republican Senator who wants armed soldiers roaming American streets. By not making any other mention of Cotton’s support, Gardner was probably hoping that nobody would notice outside of the people targeted with the Facebook ad.

The video message from Cotton also contains a narrative about Democrat John Hickenlooper that is outright false. Cotton says that Hickenlooper “is running from the law to avoid ethics charges for using state funds to fund his lavish lifestyle.” As The Denver Post writes today in an editorial about Hickenlooper’s ethics charges, Cotton’s description is nowhere close to the truth:

We don’t believe Hickenlooper was trying to undermine the system, or disrespect the commission, or avoid accountability. In fact, the governor has been extremely transparent. He has provided details about what he did and did not pay for and he has spoken publicly about the trips. And he is now committed to paying whatever fees are imposed by the commission out of his own pocket.

Also, we are confident that Hickenlooper is an ethical public servant, albeit one who has made mistakes. The ethics commission didn’t find any evidence that MDC Holdings or Fiat Chrysler had business before the state when Hickenlooper accepted these “gifts.” We’ve not seen evidence of a quid-pro-quo despite Hickenlooper’s opponents’ best efforts to paint the governor as a corporate-shill whose decision making is compromised by his friendships and acquaintances with wealthy businessmen and women.

Hickenlooper did need to exercise more caution when traveling to avoid these infractions, but we also think there is ample evidence that he tried to comply with the spirit and letter of the law.

“Using state funds to fund his lavish lifestyle”? Yeah, not so much.

But the biggest issue with Cotton’s endorsement video is that it creates another problem that Gardner didn’t need; it is now perfectly acceptable for reporters to ask Gardner if he agrees with Cotton that armed soldiers should be patrolling our streets in response to protests about police brutality.

Cotton’s video had better raise a LOT of money for Gardner, because there is a considerable downside to his public support.

Even More GOP COVID BS Bites The Dust

Rep. Mark Baisley (R).

As the Denver Post’s Jessica Seaman reported on Tuesday, and we wanted to be sure it got a mention in this space:

A Colorado district attorney announced Tuesday that an investigation into the handling of death certificates of COVID-19 patients at a Centennial nursing home found no evidence that the state’s health department illegally altered nor falsified the documents.

The investigation was started last month after Rep. Mark Baisley, R-Roxborough Park, alleged the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment falsified the number of people who have died from COVID-19…

On Monday, 18th Judicial District Attorney George Brauchler sent a letter to Baisley that said “since I have found insufficient evidence of death certificates being falsely made or altered, there are no criminal charges or additional investigations warranted at this time.”

The baseless allegation from GOP Rep. Mark Baisley of Douglas County that Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment staff were “altering death certificates” was just one of a huge number of dubious-trending-false claims circulated by Republicans during the height of “resistance” to the stay-at-home orders, which are now universally credited with helping reduce death and suffering during the COVID-19 pandemic. Rep. Baisley in particular, one of the wilder blowhards in the House minority caucus, has been a major source of controversy for Republicans during the pandemic–from comparing lawbreaking shopowners to Rosa Parks to demanding Douglas County pull out of the Tri County Health Department after the agency imposed a stay-at-home order quickly rendered moot by Gov. Jared Polis’ statewide order.

“The public health field has high standards of data collection and dissemination, which CDPHE follows rigorously,” said a statement by the state health department. “This is illustrated by the DA’s response to the claim. We are disappointed that such a bogus allegation would be perpetuated by a member of the general assembly in the first place.” [Pols emphasis]

It’s unusual for a state agency to use the word “bogus” in an official statement, but we’d say it’s justified here.

Unfortunately, as is so often the case with political misinformation, many more Coloradans saw the initial reports about Baisley’s baseless allegation than will most likely ever see the conclusion–from a Republican prosecutor no less–that the allegation was in fact baseless. Baisley’s ridiculous claim that CDPHE was “doctoring death certificates” is now a permanent part of the conspiracist mythology about the COVID-19 pandemic a segment of Colorado voters will believe for the rest of their lives.

But it’s not true. It was never true. And the only way to fight back is to tell the truth to as many people as Baisley lied to in uncritical media coverage. That’s difficult to do, and liars know it.

The truth these days is always at a disadvantage.

It’s Called “Greenwashing,” And Cory Gardner Is Lathering Up

Denver Post headline, May 19, 2020.

President Donald Trump, Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma)

The Denver Post’s Bruce Finley reported yesterday on a green light from GOP Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to allow passage of the Great American Outdoors Act, legislation to permanently fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund and provide cash to chip away at the huge backlog of maintenance and other projects on public lands:

Colorado senators are leading a congressional push to pass landmark conservation legislation that would deploy $9.5 billion to maintain overrun national parks and permanently direct $900 million a year for outdoor recreation on public lands.

President Donald Trump has said he will sign this Great American Outdoors Act if lawmakers get it to his desk. Senators this week took up the issue, aiming for a vote next Tuesday, and around 200 House members have said they’ll support similar legislation…

Congress has failed to provide the full $900 million a year for land acquisition and other spending that the 1965 Land and Water Conservation Act requires. Lawmakers have approved spending between $255 million and $450 million a year since 2008 and only twice in 55 years provided the full $900 million.

Down by double digits in a blue state, GOP Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado is banking on this legislation to attract any undecided Colorado voters out there who might be swayed by support for the environment. Because the legislation has literally dozens of co-sponsors including Colorado’s other Sen. Michael Bennet, Gardner is taking credit largely for convincing Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to allow a vote–which instantly raises questions about an election-year ulterior motive. Under questioning from former local now-national Scripps reporter Joe St. George yesterday, Mitch McConnell didn’t try very hard to downplay this possibility:

[St. George] asked McConnell about the timing of the bill Tuesday.

“Did you hand them an election-year gift by allowing this to go forward five months before Election Day?” Scripps National asked McConnell.

“Well, what we had was a unique opportunity to actually make a law,” McConnell said.

“Yeah, it is in proximity to the election, but nobody said you should quit doing things just because there is an election [Pols emphasis] – we have one every two years,” McConnell said.

And as Roll Call reported earlier this week, the political motives of this bill moving at this time are well-understood inside the Beltway:

Gardner is in a tight race in Colorado against former Gov. John Hickenlooper, a Democrat, in a state that has a massive outdoor economy. Daines is in a competitive race in Montana against Gov. Steve Bullock, a Democrat. CQ Roll Call includes both of them in its most recent list of the 10 most vulnerable senators. Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales rates the Colorado Senate race Tilt Democratic and the Montana contest Lean Republican.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell agreed to bring the bill for a vote and filed cloture on Thursday. The bill’s passage could help his chances of holding on to a GOP majority in that chamber by offering Gardner and Daines an opportunity to win over moderate voters who support investments in public lands…

President Donald Trump has lent his support to Gardner and Daines, praising them in a March tweet for their conservation efforts and urging Congress to pass a bill that “fully and permanently” funds the LWCF and restores national parks.

Trump’s call contradicts his own budget request for fiscal 2021, which proposed a 97 percent funding cut to the politically popular fund. [Pols emphasis]

Colorado Springs Gazette headline, today.

This of course is where Gardner’s “greenwashing” strategy of trying to spuriously appeal to environment-minded swing voters breaks down. Yes, permanently funding the LWCF is a good thing–that’s why the bill has almost 60 bipartisan cosponsors. But in the context of the Trump administration’s much larger assault on environmental protections of all kinds, a huge list of misdeeds from weakening the Clean Water Act to using COVID-19 as an excuse to let polluters pollute without penalty to putting a “Sagebush Rebellion” firebrand in charge of the Bureau of Land Management, throwing some money at the maintenance backlog at national parks, as worthwhile as that may be, feels like an insulting diversion.

For Cory Gardner, this isn’t just a case of too little, too late. No one who cares about this issue will be persuaded to support him because of this one piece of legislation. Everyone knows where Donald Trump stands, and more importantly where Cory Gardner stands in relation to Trump. And when Trump smeared the wind power industry that employs thousands in Colorado, on stage in Colorado Springs right in front of a cheering Cory Gardner, the message to every environmental-minded voter in our state was unmistakable.

Between now and Election Day, very much like Cory Gardner’s struggle to live down his anti-abortion record in 2014, Gardner’s “moderation” on the environment is going to become aggressive. We may even see Gardner triangulate off some negative action Trump takes to add some drama, which would be more notable for not having occurred up to that time. Gardner will maintain this fiction right to the end, and just like on abortion he’ll never slip under questioning.

But this year, on both of these issues, Gardner can no longer hide behind hypotheticals.

Gardner’s only protection now is Donald Trump.

President Trump Already Won Re-Election!

You betray me, sweat glands!

If you had any doubt whatsoever that Dear Leader Trump and his campaign were freaking out about losing to Democrat Joe Biden in November, this story will put your mind at ease. As The Washington Post reports:

President Trump’s reelection campaign is asking CNN for an apology and demanding a retraction of a poll this week that shows presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden with a sizable lead, claiming it was designed “to manufacture an anti-Trump narrative.”

CNN said Wednesday that it stands by the poll, which showed Trump trailing the former vice president, 41 percent to 55 percent, or by 14 points, among registered voters in a November matchup.

In a letter to CNN president Jeff Zucker, representatives of the Trump campaign questioned the methodology and timing of the poll, noting that it was largely conducted before better-than-expected unemployment numbers were released Friday…

…While Trump has complained about polling dating back to the 2016 election, this is the first known time that he or his campaign have threatened legal action to suppress results.

Trump’s poll numbers have been plummeting in recent months, making this argument even dumber than it looks at first glance. The lawyers and PR people at CNN wasted little time in crafting a rebuttal. Here’s what Executive Vice President and General Counsel David Vigilante wrote back in response:

To my knowledge, this is the first time in its 40 year history that CNN had been threatened with legal action because an American politician or campaign did not like CNN’s polling results.

To the extent we have received legal threats from political leaders in the past, they have typically come from countries like Venezuela or other regimes where there is little or no respect for a free and independent media.

As has been reported previously, staffers have already taken the step of showing Trump false polling data so that he doesn’t yell at them so much. It was probably inevitable that they would eventually start telling Trump that everybody else’s polling data is fake.

To recap, President Trump is absolutely, positively, definitely not trailing Joe Biden in national polls by 14 points. As a matter of fact, President Trump already won the November election even though it is still 6 months away.

Take THAT, liberal media!

“Unite America”–Back And Meddling In GOP Primaries

The Colorado Citizen Press, a blog associated with the activist/fundraising complex administered by the Neville clan, is hopping mad about spending in Republican legislative primary races connected to Unite America–the controversial organization once known as the Centrist Project that fielded a slate of unsuccessful “independent” legislative candidates in 2018. The organization in the end was better causing headaches for mainstream candidates in swing districts than actually electing its own people, so in 2020 they’re back with a new approach–messing around in Republican primaries.

Which feels right, literally and figuratively, after the experience with this group in 2018:

That’s right, New York liberal Kathryn Murdoch contributed millions of dollars to a progressive centrist group called Unite America, where she serves on the board. She worked for the Clinton Climate Initiative for years, as well as other progressive groups. She even donated $88,400 to the Hillary Victory Fund.

Unite America then contributed $507,500 to Unite Colorado Election Fund, an independent expenditure committee. Unite Colorado Election Fund appears to have sent hundreds of thousands of those dollars to Coloradans For Constitutional Values, though reports will likely not reflect this contribution until June 15, 2020.

Coloradans for Constitutional Values is spending that money to oppose conservative Republicans and support liberal-leaning Republicans…

Back in 2016, as readers will remember, former GOP Congressman Bob Beauprez organized a nonprofit political group whose primary purpose turned out to be attacking conservative Republican primary candidates. That tight focus on electioneering resulted in an embarrassing court ruling against the group, Pioneer Action, in the course of which a further embarrassing connection to the Colorado Springs Gazette was identified that has helped keep bad blood flowing between the Colorado Republican Party’s corporate and right-wing activist factions.

Beauprez’s effort to purge the GOP of immoderate figures not only failed but led to increasing control by conservative activists of the state party infrastructure. Hard-right candidates who survived this purge helped provide Pat Neville with a base of support in the House minority caucus that has endured catastrophic defeat in 2018, failed reprisals against Democrats in the 2019 recalls, and ongoing embarrassment for Republicans everywhere as Neville’s wacky politics seize hold of the GOP brand.

With this in mind, we feel pretty confident that Unite America pushing “RINO” candidates on the restive Colorado Republican base, like Beauprez’s attempted party purge in 2016, is just going to piss them off. Kathryn Murdoch, Rupert Morduch’s “radical centrist” daughter-in-law, is set to be the next high-handed conservative to see the lurch right in Colorado as harmful to the long-term viability of the Republican Party, throw money at the perceived problem, and then realize in dismay that the patient doesn’t want to be cured.

“No Waver”

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Donald Trump lies all the time, but we know he prizes loyalty over all else.

So when he says Cory Gardner has been with him 100%, we believe him.

The Andrew Romanoff Campaign in a Nutshell

UPDATE: On Wednesday morning, the Romanoff campaign sent out an email to supporters claiming that he won the debate on Tuesday…citing five anonymous social media messages.


The Democratic candidates for U.S. Senate took part in a 30-minute debate on Tuesday evening that was not particularly enlightening for undecided voters. But it was the aftermath that proved more telling.

Former Gov. John Hickenlooper and former House Speaker Andrew Romanoff faced off — via video link — with 9News anchor Kyle Clark moderating (click here to watch the entire debate). It was hard for either candidate to really engage in a discussion because of the inherent delay in doing this sort of thing via remote video link; this was probably a disadvantage for Romanoff, whose attacks on Hickenlooper were harder to sustain when all speakers need to pause for a few seconds after they finished talking.

Via Colorado Public Radio (6/9/20)

As Colorado Public Radio reports:

Hickenlooper, the establishment favorite, promised to fix “government dysfunction in Washington” and at times seemed to be debating Sen. Cory Gardner, the incumbent Republican.

Meanwhile, Romanoff staked out a progressive call for “bold structural change” and sharply criticized Hickenlooper throughout the confrontation. He even said Hickenlooper should withdraw from the race after the state’s Independent Ethics Commission’s recent findings against him.

Romanoff’s call for Hickenlooper to withdraw from the race was strategically sound, though it’s likely not going to be as effective as Colorado Republicans would hope. The most telling moment of the night, however, came in the post-debate spin cycle, where Romanoff’s campaign face-planted HARD:

“Martin” Booker and “Gregory” Floyd? Yikes! These aren’t just copyediting mistakes; you cannot make this error when Romanoff just got finished telling voters that he is the “real” progressive candidate in the race. It doesn’t really matter who is at fault here, in terms of individual staff members, because it reflects a Romanoff campaign that has always been not quite ready for prime time.

Former Senate candidate Trish Zornio, who is supporting Hickenlooper, put a bow on this idea a bit later:

It is inarguable that Romanoff’s campaign is putting all of its eggs into a June 30 Primary basket. This is not the wrong strategy for Romanoff at this point, but it does open him up to concerns about how his campaign might pivot to a General Election matchup if he were to defeat Hickenlooper. Romanoff’s campaign has always had June 30 circled in red marker and November 3 in pencil.

Romanoff supporters will say something to the effect of, “Senate Democrats will support whomever wins the Primary,” and they aren’t wrong in that regard…but it’s an incomplete argument. If Romanoff were to become the Democratic Senate nominee, his General Election campaign would essentially be starting from scratch on July 1. Hickenlooper has already proven that he can marshal the resources necessary for November — he led all candidates in fundraising in the last quarter, with $4.1 million raised compared to $2.5 million for incumbent Republican Sen. Cory Gardner and $420,000 for Romanoff. Meanwhile, Republicans are doing everything they can to prop up a reeling Gardner, and that job gets significantly easier if a hollowed-out Romanoff campaign limps into the General Election.

Hickenlooper has always been the heavy favorite to win the Democratic U.S. Senate nomination, and he remains the frontrunner despite his troubles in the last week. What Romanoff’s campaign really proved on Tuesday night was that it is still nowhere near ready to be the campaign it needs to be — for the Primary or the General Election.

Police Accountability Bill Passes Senate 32-Jerry Sonnenberg

Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg (R).

Today, the Colorado Senate gave final passage to Senate Bill 217–a slate of urgent reforms to police procedure and immunity from prosecution intended to prevent killings like the alleged murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis police two weeks ago.

As the Denver Post’s Saja Hindi reports, a dramatic shift by the Republican minority in the Senate toward support for the bill after amendments that sponsors say do not compromise the core goals led to almost unanimous passage–with the exception of a solitary Republican no vote, Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg of Sterling:

Colorado’s sweeping police accountability and reform bill passed the state Senate on Tuesday morning with only one Republican vote against the bill.

Senate Bill 217, sponsored by all of the state’s Democratic lawmakers, goes to the House next and is expected to head to the governor’s desk by the end of the week after the session concludes. The bill passed 32-1, with Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg, R-Sterling, casting the lone vote against it.

Sonnenberg said he voted against the bill because he’s representing his rural district… [Pols emphasis]

Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg has served in the Colorado General Assembly as a House member and then in the Colorado Senate since winning the Eastern Plains HD-65 seat in the 2006. He’s one of the longest-serving state lawmakers in office today. Sonnenberg’s income as a farmer in his day job is heavily dependent on government subsidies, having collected over $600,000 in federal ag subsidy welfare checks since 1995.

For all of that taxpayer money invested, we haven’t gotten much out of the deal. Sonnenberg has been a loyal soldier for the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), running model legislation on the organization’s behalf including a recent bill to limit payouts to asbestos cancer victims. Despite his own addiction to federal subsidy checks, Sonnenberg pushed failed legislation to require drug tests from applicants for public assistance. Sonnenberg thinks that “enviros that want less carbon” “want to kill all the trees and plants,” that wolves will hunt skiers if re-introduced to the state, and laughed off President Obama’s concern about gun violence following mass shootings with a can of gun oil labeled “Obama tears.”

And don’t forget the time Sonnenberg referred to a female colleague as “eye candy.”

But much like Rep. Ken Buck, who Sonnenberg has been long rumored to want to succeed in Congress, Sonnenberg is one of those lawmakers for whom contrarian offensiveness has become an end unto itself. Sonnenberg standing proud as the only vote against police accountability in the aftermath of George Floyd’s death is the result of the same political impunity that allowed Buck to justify almost singlehandledly opposing coronavirus economic relief. Votes that should be politically suicidal become perverse badges of honor.

All it takes is a safe enough seat, and the outrageous becomes the norm.

That’s politics on the Eastern Plains of Colorado.