Donald Trump is Death for Colorado Republicans

Sen. Cory Gardner (right) waves to crowd behind President Trump ahead of a campaign event in West Virginia (Aug. 21, 2018)

The Washington Post has an interesting story up today about the drag of President Trump on Republicans in 2018 and 2020. The gist of the story, which features Colorado as a prominent example, is that 2018 proved Trump to be helpful to Republicans in states where people already liked Trump, but a real problem everywhere else:

“Trump just overwhelms and takes all of the oxygen out of the room and it’s all focused on him,” said Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), [Pols emphasis] a critic of the president who declined to run for reelection…

…Republicans in rural parts of Kentucky, Georgia and Tennessee were newly excited about the election, according to Democratic polling in those races, increasingly favorable toward the president and cheered by the recent confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh. In suburban, wealthier parts of the country such as Northern Virginia, the opposite was happening, as moderates recoiled…

…Strategists from both parties say the president, in effect, erected a wall that broke the blue wave, allowing Republicans to hold onto key House seats and defeat Democratic Senate incumbents in conservative Missouri, Indiana and North Dakota. The same strategy, however, empowered Democrats to win decisive victories in formerly Republican suburbs in New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, California and the otherwise reliably red state of Texas.

Trump’s late campaigning may have saved Republican candidates in states like Florida, where the GOP narrowly won contests for U.S. Senate and Governor. But Florida is also a state that Trump won in 2016 (albeit narrowly). In states like Colorado, where Trump lost to Democrat Hillary Clinton, the outcome was much different:

“It was very difficult to try to make a case — particularly to suburban, college-educated women who were so upset with the president — to vote for me when they felt there needed to be a greater check on his power,” said Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Colo.), who lost his suburban Denver district by more than 11 points after winning by 8 points in 2016.

Coffman’s experience was certainly not unique. Republican-leaning outfit Magellan Strategies found Trump to be quite the albatross for the the GOP in 2018. From Denver7:

Thirty-four percent of respondents said they were less likely to vote for a Republican candidate in the election because of Trump’s influence, and Trump’s approval rating is far underwater among Colorado’s unaffiliated voters: His approval rating is 31 percent among the group, while 62 percent said they disapproved of the job he is doing as president and 48 percent said they strongly disapproved.

Flaherty said in his analysis those numbers made Trump’s overall approval rating “toxic” and that “it is quite clear that any association with Donald Trump and his policies harmed Republican candidates in most parts of Colorado” in this year’s election.

Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma), the 2018 chair of the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) added his “no shit, Sherlock” analysis in a comment to the Washington Post:

“The states where we saw the most success with the rallies were states where he won by 20 points or 30 points or 40 points,” said Gardner.

Colorado, of course, is not one of those states. It is clear that Trump was a mighty albatross for Colorado Republicans in 2018, and with his name on the ballot again in 2020, the impact may be even worse.

A Few Words About Polis Education Transition Heartburn

Bob Schaffer.

Gov.-elect Jared Polis is grappling with the first real controversy he’s encountered since his double-digit victory earlier this month, with a less-then-enthusiastic response to certain members of his “transition team.” As John Frank at the Colorado Sun reported last week:

The team includes prominent Democrats, such as former Gov. Bill Ritter, Lt. Gov. Donna Lynne, former Colorado State University President Al Yates, former Democratic Party Chairman Rick Palacio and two former Democratic House speakers, Crisanta Duran and Andrew Romanoff. The Keystone Center will facilitate the effort.

But Polis touted his transition effort as a bipartisan affair and pointed to one prominent Republican on the team, former U.S. Rep. Bob Schaffer, a charter school leader who is a member of the education effort. Schaffer served in a similar role for Gov. John Hickenlooper in 2010, a move that drew scorn from liberals for his controversial stances in the past.

Marianne Goodland of the Colorado Springs Gazette elaborated further on the education team, which has justifiably rankled public school supporters:

The Polis education team — one of seven teams whose members were announced Friday — includes Jen Walmer, director of Democrats for Education Reform (DFER), a political group that advocates for charter schools. Some education-policy liberals accuse the group of seeking to restrict teacher unions.

Another is former U.S. Rep. Bob Schaffer, a Republican advocate for taxpayer-funded vouchers for private schools and formerly a member of the state board of education.

Schaffer also is chairman of the board of the Leadership Program of the Rockies (LPR) a Republican-leaning organization that provides training on conservative principles and leadership. Its graduates include three of the former members of the Douglas County Board of Education who approved a controversial private-school voucher program in 2011. Schaffer advocated for the state board of education to endorse the voucher program.
The Dougco program led to lawsuits, including a trip all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. It was dismantled last year after voters elected an anti-voucher school board.

Bob Schaffer, the failed 2008 GOP U.S. Senate turned headmaster of a politically conservative charter high school in Fort Collins, is not the only member of Polis’ education team drawing criticism. There’s also Mike Johnston, who lost to Polis in the Democratic primary largely due to his authorship of a much-reviled “teacher effectiveness” bill that since passage in 2010 has contributed directly to a shortage of teachers in Colorado with no discernible impact on student performance. For the large number of Democratic voters who think supporting public schools is predicate to “reforming” them, these people are more than bad choices: they’re the bad actors in public education base Democrats thought they were voting against. We said the same thing when John Hickenlooper appointed Schaffer to his education transition team, and it’s no less true today.

Since 2010, however, the landscape of education politics in Colorado has significantly changed. The Douglas County religious school voucher program was stymied in court and then soundly rejected by Douglas County voters who threw out the conservative board. The conservative education “reform” movement hit its zenith in 2013 after a slate of far-right school board members took power in Jefferson County, only to be overwhelmingly recalled from office two years later. Johnston’s rejection by Democratic primary voters despite massive infusions of cash from out-of-state education “reform” interests further underscores where the power has shifted on education in the last decade.

In 2004, Polis founded the New America School charter high schools with the specific purpose of “empowering new immigrants, English language learners, and academically underserved students.” Far from the predatory cherry-picking suburban charter schools (rightly) vilified by neighborhood school supporters, NAS is an example of a niche need charter schools can gainfully fill under the right circumstances. Will that experience manifest as a blind spot for Polis with regard to charter schools that aren’t so well-intentioned? That remains to be seen. But this is a charter school doing more good than harm.

With all of this in mind, and especially with Democratic majorities in both chambers of the legislature, the potential harm from appointing Schaffer and “ed reform” Democrats to Polis’ transition team is self-limiting–more so than when Hickenlooper appointed Schaffer to the same committee eight years ago. Polis himself takes pride in engaging with all sides, including those he has little to nothing in common with. The best response is for public education supporters to be loud in their opposition, and back that up with a strong presence in the legislature next year to ensure their policy goals are upheld.

And be assured, Colorado’s public schools are in better hands than the alternative.

Will The Hate for Our Traditional Institutions Ever End?

Will The Hate for Our Traditional Institutions Ever End?

The short answer, No. In order to establish new behaviors and new norms it is essential that traditional institutions be torn down, disassembled and erased to make way for the new order.

Yesterday I came face to face with this new effort. Unsuspectingly I entered into discussion with a group who appeared on the surface to be well grounded and reasonable patriotic people. Little did I realize that they were a bunch of sinister hard core change agents dedicated to destroying our traditional institutions.

Their target was the stalwart of the Thanksgiving table side dishes, the green bean casserole. The green bean casserole, synonymous for comfort food, was to be destroyed and wiped clean from our collective taste buds.

The hate that flowed so freely, disgusting, eck, no never, why would you, cream of mushroom or those highly process onion ring things; and even divisive, “it doesn’t taste like my mothers”. Stop the hate!

I wondered if the hate was based on color. The green, associated with radical environmentalists or the bean, associated with gas from the legume family. Whatever the reason it is un American to hate the green bean casserole.

It is time that we embrace diversity and welcome the new green bean casserole to our table for Thanksgiving. A tradition not replaced but built new on the stalwart recipe of the ages.

Start with fresh green beans cook until soft.

In a large pot add olive oil and a large onion. Sauté until golden brown when all the sugar has been released.

Add a pound of chopped apple wood smoked bacon from the meat case, not the packaged kind and cook until that wonderful aroma has filled the house…..bacon.

Add the green beans and mix well.

Now add some Velveeta cheese, just enough so that it melts and gets a thin coating on the beans.

You can serve as is or add the onion rings and bake. Make it ahead and your guest will love how you have saved an institution for American.

Make Green Bean Casserole Great Again!

“Radicalifornia” Endnotes

California.

As readers know, the state of California factored oddly heavily in the 2018 midterm elections in Colorado. Colorado Republicans attempted to capitalize on the “threat” of Colorado becoming more like the Golden State in all kinds of ways, from the horrors of life in San Francisco to the supposedly wrecked California economy–and, of course, a generous helping of dog-whistle subtext about hippie liberals and their “alternative lifestyles.”

But as it turns out, the states of Colorado and California did have something in common in the 2018 elections. For Republicans in both states, 2018 was an historic wipeout that has left the state’s Republican establishments wondering what the future (if any) looks like. As Politico reports:

In the wake of a near-political annihilation in California that has left even longtime conservative stronghold Orange County bereft of a single Republican in the House of Representatives, a growing chorus of GOP loyalists here say there’s only one hope for reviving the flatlining party: Blow it up and start again from scratch.

That harsh assessment comes as Republicans survey the damage from the devastation of a “blue tsunami” in California which wiped out five GOP-held House seats — with more still threatened — while handing every statewide seat and a supermajority to the Democrats in both houses of the state legislature this week…

For anyone with an understanding of California politics, the idea of the conservative bastion of Orange County failing to send a single Republican back to Congress for 2019 is practically unthinkable. California’s Democratic majorities in the State Assembly and Senate are now supermajorities–a critical hurdle since California requires a two-thirds legislative majority to pass a budget. California’s blue wave, like Colorado’s, delivered a sweep of statewide races to the Democrats.

“I believe that the party has to die before it can be rebuilt. And by die — I mean, completely decimated. And I think Tuesday night was a big step,’’ says veteran California GOP political consultant Mike Madrid. “There is no message. There is no messenger. There is no money. And there is no infrastructure.” [Pols emphasis]

It’s striking to us how you can change the name “Mike Madrid” to any number of veteran Republicans in Colorado, and the quote above would remain generally accurate. When Colorado Republicans warned that Colorado would become “like California” if Colorado Democrats won, it wasn’t just a warning about the culture.

They foresaw their own destruction. And they were right.

As we said during the campaign, demonizing California was a strategy fully dependent on cultural prejudice and a kind of weird talk radio intra-American xenophobia that was never going to appeal to a majority of Colorado voters. In 2016, less than 43% of Coloradans were born in the state at all. Not only did the “Radicalifornia” message miss the mark, it helped cement the Colorado GOP’s image of being ignorant and out of touch.

In both states, the results speak for themselves.

Weekend Open Thread

For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?

–Matthew 16:26

Get More Smarter on Friday (November 16)

If you lived in Canada, you would have already celebrated Thanksgiving (and, presumably, you wouldn’t be the only person still in your office today). It’s time to Get More Smarter. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of a visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show.

 

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

President Trump is no match for the First Amendment…at least for today. As CNN reports about CNN:

CNN’s Jim Acosta will return to his post at the White House on Friday following a court ruling that forced the Trump administration to reinstate his press pass.

The ruling by federal judge Timothy J. Kelly was an initial victory for CNN in its lawsuit against President Trump and several top aides. The suit alleges that CNN and Acosta’s First and Fifth Amendment rights were violated by last week’s suspension of his press pass.

Kelly did not rule on the underlying case on Friday. But he granted CNN’s request for a temporary restraining order. And he said he believes that CNN and Acosta are likely to prevail in the case overall.

Speaking outside the court, Ted Boutrous, an outside attorney representing CNN, said “this is a great day for the First Amendment and journalism.”

 

► As the Denver Post reports, Colorado is on the verge of adopting new standards for vehicle emissions:

A Colorado commission appears likely to decide that new cars sold in the state have to emit fewer greenhouse gases and get better gas mileage starting in 2022.

The nine-member Colorado Air Quality Control Commission is scheduled to vote Friday on a set of low-emission vehicle standards proposed by Gov. John Hickenlooper. The Democrat mandated in June that the commission — composed of his appointees — adopt the rules by the end of the year.

Opponents say the new statewide standard, which is based on California’s rules, would make cars a lot more expensive without making them a lot cleaner.

Opponents say the proposed standards will raise the average price of vehicles in Colorado, while supporters of the change say drivers will save thousands of dollars on fuel costs.

 

► The margins of victory in many Colorado races have changed quite a bit since Election Day. Updated numbers from the Colorado Secretary of State show that Democrat Jason Crow defeated incumbent Republican Mike Coffman in CO-6 by better than 11 points.

 

► Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner is sounding more and more like President Trump every day. Gardner has been on the post-election talk radio circuit and is working very hard to convince himself that 2018 was not a wave election for Democrats. Gardner’s talking points aren’t backed up by reality, as Republican-aligned polling outfit Magellan Strategies explains. Unaffiliated voters in Colorado made themselves very clear in 2018.

 

 

Get even more smarter after the jump…

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Gardner Praises Trump For Election Wins, While Coffman Slams The Prez For GOP Losses, Including His Own

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Sen. Cory Gardner (left) and Rep. Mike Coffman.

U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman (R-CO) blamed Trump today for Coffman’s election loss last week, just as Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner jumped on the radio to credit the president for GOP wins in key senate races.

Coffman told Vox today:

“I believe, quite frankly, that the president had a strategy of focusing on the Senate at the expense of the House,” [Coffman] said. “That the map had it where that there were red states that Trump carried that had competitive Senate races and what he did was made the midterm a national election and about him….”

“The president’s tone is polarizing,” Coffman said. “It was very difficult to try and make the case, particularly to suburban, college-educated women who were so upset with the president, to vote for me when they felt there needed to be a greater check on President Trump…”

Coffman says he doesn’t see Republicans regaining any territory in the House.

“Good. Luck,” he said, laughing.

Contrast Coffman’s dark view of Trump with Gardner’s sunbeam comments about the president working his tail off for winning GOP senate candidates:

“We bucked history,” Gardner said on KNUS’ Caplis and Kafer Show last week, repeating his previous assertion that “I don’t think it was a blue wave” in Colorado. “…So, you know, the keeping of the majority in the midterm, I think, is historic. And President Trump went out and worked his tail off in a lot of these states.

“And so I think those are the two key takeaways, how President Trump did more than I think any other president has done for elections and getting these candidates elected, and how we were able to defy history….”

“So, look, I look forward to continuing our work together.” Gardner told Steffan Tubbs on KNUS yesterday, referring to Trump. “And I’d like to see the President come to Colorado. I’d like to see my colleagues want to see him be successful. Let’s talk about the good things we’ve done in Colorado. Let’s show him the good things we’ve done in Colorado. I hope that everybody is engaged in wanting us to have a successful president.

The Coffman-Gardner contrast on Trump underscores again that Republicans have nowhere to turn, with Trump’s unhinged media presence so overwhelming and his popularity so low among so many different types of voters in states like Colorado.

Embrace him? Trash him? Do both? None of those approaches will win over enough voters for a GOP candidate to compete in Colorado, at least as things stand today, based on what happened last Tuesday.

Elway Is A Loser On And Off The Football Field This Election Season

(Sad trombone – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

John Elway and Tim Neville

One reason political analysts think the waters of the blue wave won’t be leaving Colorado anytime soon is the absence of a Republican candidate who appears to be able to win.

Bronco legend John Elway has been thought of as such a candidate in the past, even though he’s apparently never really wanted to run.

And, even if he did, he appears to be on a deep losing streak, presiding over both a losing football team and endorsing failed GOP candidates.

John Elway and Beth Martinez Humenik

His favorite candidates appear to have included State Sen.Tim Neville (R-Littleton), who lost to Democrat Tammy Story; GOP businesswomen Christine Jensen, who lost to State Rep. Jessie Danielson  (D-Wheat Ridge); and State Sen. Beth Martinez Humenik (R-Thornton), who was defeated by Democratic State Rep. Faith Winter, of Adams County.

Apparently trying to jump to an early lead, the Superbowl quarterback gave $10,000 in August to Better Colorado Now, which spent heavily on behalf Walker Stapleton, who was blown out by Democrat Jared Polis by over 10 percentage points. Whether that entity was playing by the rules when Stapleton helped collect early donations has been questioned.

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Jason Crow Beat Mike Coffman By 11 Points

Earlier this week we wrote about the updated numbers in Colorado’s gubernatorial race, which show Democrat Jared Polis defeating Republican Walker Stapleton by a double-digit margin. If you thought those numbers were surprising, then this is really going to bake your noodle: Democrat Jason Crow beat Republican Mike Coffman in CO-6 by more than 11 points!

Take a look at how the margins in CO-6 have changed since the district boundaries were redrawn prior to the 2012 election cycle:

 

In the 2016 Presidential race, Democrat Hillary Clinton carried CO-6 by 9 points over Republican Donald Trump. Clinton’s margin was hard to square with Coffman’s 8-point win over Democrat Morgan Carroll in the same election…so how do you explain 2018?

Many Democrats have long assumed that holding CO-6 would be a tougher challenge than taking it from Coffman in the first place, but Crow’s 2018 margin may flip that thinking. Trump obviously hurt Coffman in 2018, and he wasn’t even on the ballot like he will be in 2020. What these numbers indicate is that Colorado’s 6th Congressional District may actually be out of reach for Republicans until at least 2022.

Post-Mortem Poll: Trump Led Colorado GOP To Slaughter

The Denver Post’s Jon Murray reports on a post-election poll from GOP-aligned pollster Magellan Strategies out today, documenting how backlash over President Donald Trump’s election and controversial term in office since 2016 directly translated to historic defeat for Republicans at every level in Colorado in 2018:

The phone poll, conducted by a Republican firm Nov. 7-9, confirmed that unaffiliated voters — whose participation surged to historic levels for a midterm election — broke with tradition by favoring Democrats by huge margins on Nov. 6. Unaffiliated voters who turn out in midterms in Colorado tend to break for Republicans, while leaning left in presidential elections.

And unlike previous Democratic electoral routs, the poll suggests, it’s less likely Republicans will be in a position to bounce back in two years, when Trump is up for re-election.

“What is still the most important voting bloc is all of the unaffiliated voters,” said David Flaherty, the founder and CEO of Louisville-based Magellan Strategies. “And the bottom line is that boy oh boy, they did not like what Republicans were offering up. And boy oh boy, they do not like this president. … It could not have been a darker day.”

Midterm losses for the party holding the White House are almost always certain, but there’s a reason why the “blue wave” of 2018 crested higher in our state than most. Despite the fact that Trump lost Colorado in the 2016 presidential election, Colorado Republicans deliberately embraced Trump on the campaign trail. This began in earnest during the Republican gubernatorial primary, in which eventual nominee Walker Stapleton made “supporting President Trump” his principal message to the party faithful. Whether motivated by sheer hubris or a misguided calculation that holding the Republican base together was more important than alienating swing voters hostile to Trump, the result was disaster.

Colorado Republicans willfully, consciously, happily followed President Trump into the abyss. Responsibility for this mistake is both broad and deep. From Stapleton to the state party brass to every Republican candidate who made the choice either to stand with the President or remain silent–they earned this outcome. They chose it.

And the unaffiliated voters of Colorado who decide elections will not soon forget.

Thursday Open Thread

“He who puts out his hand to stop the wheel of history will have his fingers crushed.”

–Lech Walesa