Big Line Updates; Now, with Percentages!

We have occasionally changed the appearance of The Big Line from representing fractional odds to presenting percentages. It's a matter of preference, of course, but as Election Day nears and Colorado Pols attracts more and new readers, we figured now would be a good time to switch again to percentages.

Here's what we're currently thinking as to the main movers in the top races in Colorado. For the first time this cycle, we've also added Lines for State Senate and State House majorities, respectively.

U.S. SENATE
Mark Udall (65%)
Cory Gardner (35%)

Gardner has been throwing multiple messages at the wall of late, which is typically the sign of a campaign that doesn't feel confident in the direction it is headed. There's a saying in football that if you are rotating more than one quarterback into the game, then you don't really have a quarterback. If you're a Gardner fan, this is a very difficult question to answer: What is his path to victory here?

 

GOVERNOR
John Hickenlooper (68%)
Bob Beauprez (32%)

While there has never been a point in this race where it really felt like Gov. Hickenlooper was in trouble, Hick has made enough errors that it has provided Beauprez with an opportunity. Still, Beauprez can't win just by running a decent race; if Hick stops his stumble, there's not enough room for Beauprez to squeeze past in November.
 

ATTORNEY GENERAL, STATE TREASURER, SECRETARY OF STATE
With so much money going into races for the U.S. Senate and CD-6, there will be little oxygen left in the room for candidates in the other statewide races after Governor. It's difficult to tell at this stage whether any of the candidates will be able to do enough to make their own luck.
 

CD-6 (Aurora-ish)
Andrew Romanoff (54%)
Mike Coffman (46%)

We wrote earlier about our belief that Countdown Coffman is underway following incumbent Rep. Coffman's boorish behavior in last week's debates. We've been hearing consistent buzz that Romanoff is now rising steadily while Coffman seeks the momentum he needs to prevent a complete collapse.
 

STATE SENATE MAJORITY
DEMOCRATS (55%)
REPUBLICANS (45%)

We usually wait until this point in the cycle to attempt handicapping state legislative outcomes, but our analysis is similar to what we anticipated in the aftermath of the June Primary. Tea Party victories in two key Senate districts (SD-19 and SD-22) make winning the majority an uphill battle for Republicans.


STATE HOUSE MAJORITY
DEMOCRATS (75%)
REPUBLICANS (25%)

The ballot wasn't even completely settled until recently, but the direction of this battle has been clear for some time. Republicans have had difficulty even finding candidates for 2014; the GOP will be lucky not to lose a seat or two at this point.


Check out the full Big Line 2014 or comment below.

Obamacare “Cancellation” Carping Gets Dumber By The Day

As the Denver Post's Electra Draper reports, Republican opponents of the Affordable Care Act in Colorado have taken to regularly updating the number of health insurance "cancellations" in Colorado, so as to pronounce each new one a cataclysmic failure of President Barack Obama, Senator Mark Udall, and everybody else all the way down the line–presumably not Republicans who supported Colorado's health insurance exchange, but everybody else:

The Colorado Division of Insurance has reported that there were about 2,100 health-plan cancellations in the state over the past two months, bringing this year's total to more than 6,150.

The division reported the figures for June 15-Aug. 15 to Senate Minority Leader Bill Cadman last week. Senate Republicans have requested monthly on the numbers…

Since 2013, there have been about 340,000 policy cancelations in Colorado. Many customers received notices last fall as the Affordable Care Act was rolling out.

Policies that did not meet the act's minimum standards were canceled, though customers were offered replacement policies. Other cancellations were the result of business decisions by the insurers as part of normal operations. The insurance division did not track cancelation numbers in the same way before the act.

Opponents of the Affordable Care Act cite the cancelations as proof that it is hurting consumers more than helping.

The conservative Daily Caller portrays these new "cancellations" as further proof of Obamacare's utter failure:

More than 2,000 more Coloradans had their health insurance plans cancelled as a result of the Affordable Care Act, according to a letter from the state regulatory agency to state Senate Republicans.

Following a dust-up earlier this year between Colorado Democratic Sen. Mark Udall and the Division of Insurance, Republicans have requested regular updates on policies that are cancelled because they don’t conform to Obamacare or because companies are getting out of the individual insurance market…

State Senate Republicans have requested regular updates from the insurance commission about continuing cancellations. In March, the commission reported 1,755 cancellations and in June another 2,320. Last week’s total was 2,105.

In all, nearly 340,000 Coloradans received cancellation notices, although not all are because they don’t conform to the ACA; some carriers are leaving the individual insurance market altogether.

The "335,000 cancellations" figure is one we've been talking about in this space for many months, mostly in an effort to debunk highly misleading characterizations of the issue. As we've noted repeatedly, over 90% of these "cancellations" were in fact renewal notices for existing policies, as state health insurance officials had determined this was permissible even before President Obama did the same thing for health plans across the nation. We're honestly surprised to still be seeing this talking point at all, after studies showing the rate of uninsured in Colorado has plunged arithmetically disproved it.

But setting aside the "cancellations" that occurred after the rollout of the ACA versus subsequent total numbers of insured, there's a much more basic reason this claim is just getting silly. Even before Obamacare, insurance plans in the individual and small group markets were routinely cancelled and modified by insurance companies. There is nothing to indicate that we are seeing a higher rate of cancellations today, now that the initial changeover due to ACA mandates is past, than before the ACA was implemented. Insurance companies used to cancel plans for all kinds of financial reasons, many of which have been outlawed by the ACA's tight restrictions on the rescission of policies. Consumers in the individual market were well accustomed to this. But for the things that actually matter, like getting sick, cancellations are no longer a threat as they were before the ACA.

Bottom line: there's a reason why attacks on Obamacare like the "cancellations" canard are widely believed to be running out of stream. It's because voters can see for themselves now that the horror stories promised by Republicans once the ACA went into effect have not come to pass. If the millions of Americans the GOP insists "lost their health insurance" actually had, there would be riots in the streets. Instead, we now know that the rate of uninsured both nationally and in Colorado has plummeted since the ACA went into effect. Republicans continue to pump more and more money into ads demonizing Obamacare, but the point of diminishing return has already been hit.

To quote Gertrude Stein, "there is no there there."

Hickenlooper Picks Max Potter as New Communications Director

Maxamillian Potter

Max Potter, Gov. Hickenlooper’s new Communications Director

Governor John Hickenlooper informed his staff this week that Max Potter will replace the departed Eric Brown as the Governor's Communications Director.

Potter was a longtime editor at 5280 magazine before making a surprise jump to Hickenlooper's staff earlier this year in a broad communications role. Brown left the Governor's office in July for a communications job in the private sector. Kathy Green, director of communications for the Colorado Tourism Office, has served as interim Communications Director since Brown's departure.

Oppo Dump: Cory Gardner Co-Wrote “Disastrous” Amendment 52

Mark Udall, Cory Gardner.

Mark Udall, Cory Gardner.

A lengthy press release and “research dump” this week from Sen. Mark Udall’s campaign highlights an issue that could prove damaging to GOP Senate candidate Cory Gardner with otherwise conservative-leaning constituencies–his co-authorship of 2008′s failed Amendment 52, which would have diverted mineral severance tax funding revenues away from water projects to road construction.

Amendment 52 was described by co-author Josh Penry as a retaliatory ballot measure, intended to complicate the implementation of Amendment 58–a measure from then Gov. Bill Ritter to increase mineral severance taxes to fund education. As the Denver Post’s Mark Jaffe reported then:

“This is all about politics,” said Sen. Josh Penry, R-Grand Junction, a sponsor of Amendment 52. [Pols emphasis]

Penry said that when Gov. Bill Ritter chose to seek the severance-tax change through the ballot rather than the legislature, those seeking more money for highways “were forced to put our own proposal to the voters.”

Amendment 52, which would become part of the state constitution, would cap tax revenues for water projects and could provide $90 million next year for highway projects and $1 billion over the next decade, supporters say.

While Amendment 58 failed at the polls in 2008, Gardner and Penry’s Amendment 52 went down by a much wider margin. Just about every local government representation group, the state’s Department of Natural Resources, conservationists, and most importantly, water rights stakeholders from across the state came out against Amendment 52.

“We know that we are facing a growing population and a need for water projects,” said Chris Treese, a spokesman for the Colorado River District. “This just hurts.”

We’ve reprinted the Udall campaign’s detailed press release on this subject after the jump. This is just one of a number of stories from Gardner’s long career in politics that warrants close scrutiny by the press between now and Election Day. The negative takeaways for Gardner from the Amendment 52 story are significant: from inappropriate tit-for-tat using our state’s constitution as his chessboard to a callous disregard for vital stakeholders in Colorado’s economy, for the purpose of protecting a couple of percentage points for his benefactors in oil and gas industry.

And there’s absolutely nothing about this story that makes Cory Gardner look good.

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Friday Open Thread

“The future influences the present just as much as the past.”

–Friedrich Nietzsche

Stapleton cites possibility of judicial bias in PERA lawsuit decision

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Colorado State Treasurer Walker Stapleton took to the airwaves of KLZ 560-AM yesterday to raise the specter of judicial bias in Monday’s Colorado Supreme Court decision not to release records on the top PERA recipients.

Speaking on KLZ’s nooner show, Freedom560, hosted by Ken Clark, Stapleton said:

“It’s worth pointing out, call me a cynic, that every single member of the judicial branch is also a member of PERA. And that means that every single judge that heard my case had a vested economic interest in doing nothing about the problem, in maintaining the status quo, in feeling that their pension would be somehow released to me and not wanting that to be the case. I mean it’s mind-boggling to think our judicial branch is aiding and abetting a lack of transparency. It really is.”

Commenting via Twitter on Stapleton’s remark, Luis Toro, Director of Colorado Ethics Watch, wrote dryly: “Shocking admission that the point of his suit is to undermine PERA. If his suit was to strengthen PERA, the ‘vested interest’ would be to support him, wouldn’t it?”

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Colorado a Role Model on Health Reform, and That’s No Accident

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

The No. 1 goal of the Affordable Care Act is to make sure that more Americans have health insurance.

How’s that working out?

We learned recently that, nationally, the uninsured rate has dropped from a high of 18 percent in 2013 to 13.4 percent as of June, according to the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index.

And the same survey has numbers for Colorado: In 2013, 17 percent of residents had no insurance. A year later, after the start of the ACA, the number is down to 11 percent.  Colorado ranks fifth among all states in reducing the size of its uninsured population.

Colorado’s success didn’t happen by accident, and it stands in stark contrast to states that have not pursued reforms, either on their own or though the ACA.

In Colorado, it took foresight and cooperation among lawmakers, policy-makers, administrators and other stakeholders. When the ACA came along in 2010, Colorado had already taken many important steps to reform health insurance and access to health care.

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DSCC Drops $1 Million To Hammer Gardner on Abortion

AP’s Phillip Elliot reports on the latest media buy from the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, $1 million on an ad hitting GOP Senate candidate Cory Gardner squarely on the issue of abortion:

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee on Thursday ordered a two-week ad buy that hammers Republican congressman Cory Gardner. The narrator in the 30-second ad says Gardner backed three amendments that would have banned all abortions.

Gardner supported changes to Colorado’s state constitution that would have banned stem cell research, some birth control and abortion. Gardner has since changed his position on the so-called personhood measure, and says now he opposes it.

From the DSCC’s release:

“If Congressman Cory Gardner had his way, Colorado women would be denied critical decisions about their personal health,” said Justin Barasky, a spokesman at the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. “Congressman Gardner’s record of backing measures to take women’s health care decisions away is simply too extreme for Colorado. Until Election Day, the DSCC will continue to highlight how Congressman Gardner is completely wrong for Colorado women, seniors, and middle class families.”

What’s particularly interesting to us about this latest TV spot is the lack of any mention of birth control–focusing strictly on Gardner’s support for banning all abortions, even in cases of rape or incest. Much of the advertising up to this point has tried to invoke the added consequence of banning birth control as a result of the Personhood abortion bans, and the federal Life at Conception Act that Gardner remains a co-sponsor of. Gardner has vigorously pushed back against the assertion that he wanted to ban even so-called “abortifacient” birth control as Personhood proponents did–going as far as voicing support for over-the-counter birth control as a means of deflecting the charge that he supports legislation that could ban it.

By avoiding the issue of birth control entirely and focusing solely on Gardner’s support for total abortion bans even in cases of rape or incest, the DSCC takes away Gardner’s ability to deflect. Regardless of whether or not you believe Gardner wanted to ban birth control when he supported legislation that could have that effect, there’s no question that Gardner has repeatedly sponsored and voted for legislation to ban all abortions without exception. To be honest, anecdotal conversations we’ve had with low-information voters suggest to us that the claim Gardner supported legislation to ban birth control, intentionally or not, is much harder to swallow than the argument that Gardner supports banning all abortions even in cases of rape or incest.

Given the public’s skepticism of election-season claims these days, it may indeed be better to stick to an argument that Gardner can’t, as local Republican consultant Katy Atkinson crassly admitted was the plan, “muddy up.”

Because we don’t think Gardner can say much about this one.

Gardner Goes Full “Con Man Cory” In Aspen Times Interview

Cory Gardner.

Cory Gardner.

Republican U.S. Senate candidate Cory Gardner sat down with Aspen Times reporter Rick Carroll this week, and was subjected to a lively battery of questions ranging from his views on abortion and contraception to local control over oil and gas drilling. Gardner’s answers are in some ways tellingly evasive if you know the facts, while others could come back to haunt him in very straightforward ways between now and Election Day. Here are some excerpts, make sure you click through to read the whole thing.

On birth control:

AT: During this campaign you have said you favor over-the-counter birth-control pills. Is it fair to say you have changed your mind and how do you explain that?

Gardner: Sen. Udall’s lying and because Sen. Udall can’t run on the economy, on energy, he can’t run on health care, he’s got to run away from those issues. He’s running a very negative and deceptive campaign full of untruths…the fact is I support contraception available over the counter without prescription.

AT: Without prescription?

Gardner: Yes, and that’s the key part and we need to fix Obamacare to allow that to happen… [Pols emphasis]

On abortion:

AT: Do you believe that women have their own right to make their own choices about health care, specifically abortion?

Gardner: I am pro-life and I have voted for measures that have exceptions. [Pols emphasis] I think Sen. Udall wants to divide the state of Colorado and not focus on issues of the economy or health care or energy. In fact, I would say this: When it comes to health care, Sen. Udall has said that people shouldn’t be making their own health-care choices. He cast one of his votes on Obamacare, a bill passed that took 335,000 Coloradans off the insurance they were promised they could keep…

On immigration:

AT: Earlier this month you broke rank with the Republicans by voting against a bill that would have dismantled the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival. But in 2013 you voted in favor of a bill that would have ended it. Can you explain your change of heart?

Gardner: Those were two different pieces of legislation at different times… [Pols emphasis]

On oil and gas drilling and climate change:

AT: Do you support Udall’s legislation to protect the Thompson Divide area from drilling?

Gardner: I know the legislation that Sen. (Michael) Bennet has introduced and Congressman (Scott) Tipton has obviously been working on this issue. … Federal legislation that affects a local issue, those discussions ought to be led by local stakeholders… [Pols emphasis]

AT: Do you believe in climate change?

Gardner: Well, I have said that the climate is changing. I’ve said that before but I’m very concerned that the revenues for it would destroy our economy, like Sen. Udall’s idea to place a carbon tax, driving up the cost on low-income earners, on people with fixed income and they would destroy our economy.

A remarkable interview for the sweeping ground it covers–and the sweeping reinventions Gardner is trying to make from his former staunchly conservative self on display. But beyond that, there’s an audacity to Gardner’s deceptive answers that’s really quite extraordinary. When Gardner says he has voted for abortion ban “measures that have exceptions,” meaning exceptions for victims of rape or incest, he avoids saying that he has also voted and even sponsored abortion bans that do not contain any such exceptions. Gardner’s talk of “fixing” Obamacare is plainly meant to deflect from Gardner’s dozens of unpopular votes to repeal Obamacare. Gardner’s answer on immigration, for its part, is laughably weak, and won’t mollify critics in the least.

But the real shocker in this interview could be Gardner’s lip service to local control over oil and gas drilling. After weeks raking opponent Mark Udall over the coals, demanding Udall publicly come out against ballot initiatives for local control of oil and gas drilling that Gardner falsely characterized as an “energy ban,” what is anybody supposed to make of Gardner saying now that local stakeholders should “lead discussions?”

Even with no knowledge of Gardner’s record and the issues that have been animating this race so far, the responses in this interview raise questions–it’s obvious he’s not telling the whole story, and that he’s responding to allegations the reader can’t fully appreciate without more context. Those who take that next step to get that context will discover pretty easily just how deceptive Gardner was in this interview.

And it’s difficult to see how that ends well for Gardner.

Throwback Thursday: Mike Coffman Hearts Marilyn Musgrave

Former Rep. Marilyn Musgrave doesn’t get a lot of press anymore, but back in 2006, Musgrave was Colorado’s foremost culture warrior in Congress. From abortion to the dreaded gays, no wedge issue was too divisive for Musgrave to not champion from her (relatively) safe Republican CD-4 seat in Congress. In the last great Democratic wave election of 2008, Musgrave was toppled by Democrat Betsy Markey largely on the argument that Musgrave was too focused on wedge issues to effectively represent her constituents on issues that matter.

But in 2006, when this picture was taken, Musgrave was still a star–and then-Treasurer Mike Coffman, at the time running for Secretary of State, was a doting groupie (right).

Those were the days, folks.

Tancredo: Impeach Obama Over Immigration. Just Do It!

tancgov

Talking Points Memo caught up with former Congressman and Colorado gubernatorial candidate Tom Tancredo, to ask him what Republicans should do in the event that President Barack Obama takes executive action on immigration–the suddenly burning issue Republicans left hanging as they left Washington for the August recess:

If President Barack Obama takes unilateral steps to grant “amnesty” to people living in the U.S. illegally, the House of Representatives must impeach him, former Rep. Tom Tancredo told TPM in an interview.

“It’s unconstitutional. He should be impeached if he tries it,” Tancredo, a Colorado Republican and outspoken immigration hawk in the House from 1999 to 2009, said Wednesday evening by phone from his home in Denver…

House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and his allies emphasize that they have no plans to pursue impeachment. Even some conservative House lawmakers say it’s impractical because there won’t be the two-thirds Senate majority needed to convict and remove him from office.

Tancredo’s message Boehner: do it anyway. [Pols emphasis]

“Do you do what’s right or do you look at it from a political standpoint? You can say, gee, we probably couldn’t convict him,” he said. “Of course, Democrats will take full advantage of this and say it’s because he’s black. But if it’s the right thing to do it’s the right thing to do. But if you don’t do it then all of a sudden you have set a precedent for future presidents to violate the Constitution. You’ve raised the bar — you’ve made it harder to impeach somebody. It’s a very dangerous thing.”

At this point, it’s a fair argument that Tancredo really is speaking for the Republican base–just not its leadership, which has no interest in talking about something as radical as impeachment with elections around the corner. TPM cites a CNN poll last month in which fully 57% of Republicans support impeaching the President. Outside the Republican base there is nothing like this level of antipathy toward Obama, which demonstrates the effectiveness of conservative media in both radicalizing and insulating the Republican base from mainstream public opinion. This last point is critical to understand: if the idea of impeaching Obama seems absolutely insane to you, you’re simply not getting the right programming.

The proof is on FOX News every night, where the impeachment drumbeat is loud and proud.

This is how, even as the party’s leadership insists to undecided voters that there is no appetite for throwing our already divided politics into yet more chaos, the GOP grassroots is kept at the fever pitch Republicans need to win elections. It’s a delicate game, but we submit to you that Tancredo knows exactly what his role is: and somewhere in Washington, a Republican strategist is fine with it.

Any who care about the GOP’s long term future are horrified, but without the base, there’s no midterm victory.

Thursday Open Thread

“One who deceives will always find those who allow themselves to be deceived.”

–Niccolo Machiavelli

Countdown Coffman: The End is Near

Exasperated Mike Coffman

Republican Rep. Mike Coffman practicing his “I’m screwed” face.

Last Thursday and Friday marked an important milestone in the race for CD-6 when incumbent Congressman Mike Coffman joined challenger Andrew Romanoff for the first official debates between the two candidates. A few months from now, we may look back at August 14th and 15th as seminal moments – the first glimpse of the end of Coffman’s 25-year political career.

Coffman is facing what is without question the most difficult campaign in a career that began with his election as a State Representative in 1989. He has since been elected as a State Senator, State Treasurer, and Secretary of State prior to advancing to his current Congressional seat in 2008. Coffman has dispatched plenty of challengers as his political star ascended, but never has he faced an opponent the caliber of Romanoff – a charismatic, likable Democrat with strong name ID, serious policy chops, and an ability to raise massive amounts of money for his campaign.

Political pundits across the country consider CD-6 to be among the most competitive races anywhere in 2014, and when all of the checks have been written by supporters and interest groups, total spending should be in the staggering range of $25 million. Money, or a lack thereof, will not be the deciding factor in this race because each side will have no shortage of resources to draw upon. The outcome in CD-6 will be decided instead on other intangible qualities, and after last week’s debates, the countdown is unmistakably visible for Coffman.

In the first debate last Thursday, sponsored by the South Metro Chamber of Commerce (now available online at DenverPost.com/electionshow), Coffman appeared irritable and unsteady next to the more confident and affable Romanoff. But it wasn’t until the next morning, at a debate in Aurora sponsored by the Aurora Chamber of Commerce, in which Coffman…cracked.

Check out Coffman’s angry response below to a challenge from Romanoff that is virtually identical from the same point made one day earlier. Instead of brushing off Romanoff’s challenge to stop accepting PAC money, Coffman explodes:

Now take a look (after the jump) at this clip from the end of the debate. Coffman scrambles to gather his papers and exit the stage, moving quickly as if his car were being towed outside. This is not the image of a man who feels confident about his position in this campaign.

Should Coffman end up losing his seat in November, it won’t be because of his performance at these debates – that’s not the point we’re trying to make here. What we are saying is that last week's debates may prove to be the seminal moment in which Colorado politicos saw the end of the line for Coffman. Countdown Coffman has begun.

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Attention Colorado Republicans: You Own The Shutdown

Reps. Cory Gardner, Mike Coffman, Scott Tipton, and Doug Lamborn.

Reps. Cory Gardner, Mike Coffman, Scott Tipton, and Doug Lamborn.

As FOX 31's Eli Stokols reports, Democrats are ramping up their attacks on Colorado Republican candidates who supported the shutdown of the federal government last October–support that takes on added toxicity, even over the general unpopularity of the shutdown, due to the problems it caused for disaster relief in Colorado. As locals readers know, the GOP-engineered government shutdown came just days after our state was hit with massive flooding that required a large emergency federal response:

Colorado Democrats, who have already lambasted GOP U.S. Senate candidate Cory Gardner for supporting his party’s government shutdown last fall just weeks after devastating floods, are now leveling the same charge at Republican gubernatorial nominee Bob Beauprez.

The party released a new video Wednesday featuring images of last fall’s floods and audio of Beauprez saying on conservative talk radio at the time that he’s “been very, very proud” of his Republican colleagues in Washington, who voted to shutdown the government for 16 days — this, as federal disaster relief was being directed to Colorado flood victims — in a failed attempt to stop the implementation of the Affordable Care Act.

“Politics before disaster relief,” reads the white text that appears over a black background on the screen.

“When thousands of Coloradans were ravaged by historic floods, Congressman Beauprez put Washington politics before the needs of the people of our state,” Rick Palacio, chairman of the Colorado Democratic Party, said in a statement.

“Both Ways” Bob Beauprez (right).

The irate response from GOP gubernatorial nominee Bob Beauprez, echoing the defensiveness from U.S. Senate candidate Cory Gardner's campaign when confronted last week over this same issue, is plainly meant to emote past the real question:

“That the Colorado Democratic Party would politicize these devastating floods where people died and lives were destroyed is appalling. We have been very clear contrasting Bob Beauprez’s plan for a stronger Colorado with John Hickenlooper’s indecisive, weak leadership. That Hickenlooper’s operatives are slinging mud just for the fun of it is outrageous, and Coloradans should be appalled.”

In both Gardner and Beauprez's responses, you can see a lack of willingness to confront the underlying allegation: that Republicans who supported the shutdown abandoned their responsibility to represent Colorado in a time of great need, and left the state in the lurch in the wake of a major disaster simply to score meaningless political hits on President Barack Obama. The shutdown, as you'll recall, ended in abject failure for Republicans as the public solidly turned against them, and the "deal" House Republicans finally agreed to in order to reopen the government after over two weeks of shutdown was more of a capitulation. Republicans enjoyed a brief "I told you so" as the Affordable Care Act's insurance exchange website suffered startup problems, but as Obamacare's prospects have stabilized and the law started finally delivering on its promise, the best the GOP could hope for was that voters would forget about the shutdown completely before the November 2014 elections.

In Colorado, because of the disaster that struck the state just before the shutdown, the situation for the local GOP is even worse. By the time the public nationwide turned against Republicans over the shutdown, Coloradans were already furious over reports that relief efforts were being delayed. Fearing a backlash, Colorado Republicans generally shifted their rhetoric against the shutdown more quickly than their colleagues elsewhere, but nothing they did was reported to have pushed GOP House leadership to resolve the situation any faster. Today, Cory Gardner claims he "never supported the shutdown," but that claim is entirely contradicted by his votes. Maybe Gardner gets it was a mistake now, but he can't admit he was part of it–all he can do is throw a fit when the subject comes up, and hope that fit deflects the hard questions he has never answered.

As for Bob Beauprez? Have you heard the lunatic stuff that's been coming out of his mouth since he lost in 2006? Compared to Beauprez's civil war rant, just as one example among many, this is actually pretty tame stuff. In a perfect world, we'd say the shutdown should be disqualifying for every Colorado politician on the wrong side–but it's not like everyone who backed the shutdown is just going to admit they failed the country and walk away.

But voters are watching. That's the part spin doctors can't control, and it's why they are so afraid of this story.

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