Get More Smarter on Friday (Oct. 9)

MoreSmarterLogo-300x218Today is Leif Erickson Day, apparently. Go Vikings! It’s time to Get More Smarter with Colorado Pols. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example).


► While everybody wouldn’t mind getting a little More Smarter, it would be hard to get More Dumber than Jefferson County School Board President Ken Witt. On Thursday, Witt held a press conference in Lakewood to make a “big announcement,” presumably about something that had to do with the Jeffco School Board recall election. As it turned out, Witt wanted to alert the media that he was filing an ethics complaint…against himself…and he didn’t even do that correctly.

If Witt’s goal was to really anger the local media, he succeeded beyond his wildest expectations. If not, the only thing Witt managed to do was make an impressive case for his own recall, while generating one of the weirdest headlines in recent memory.


► We’re gonna need a bigger thesaurus to adequately explain the complete mess that Republicans have made of Congress. Just moments before an official vote was scheduled on Thursday to select new leadership in Congress, California Rep. Kevin McCarthy abruptly withdrew his name from consideration for the next Speaker of the House — throwing the entire institution into an entirely new level of chaos. The quote of the day comes from Wall Street, where a representative from Guggenheim Securities called Thursday “the political equivalent of a dumpster fire.”

Many Republicans are trying to convince Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan to run for Speaker, though he continues to resist the siren call of what has become one of the shittiest jobs in Washington.


Get even more smarter after the jump…


Dubya’s Comin’ To Denver!

The Martin Museum Residence at the DAM.

The Martin Museum Residence at the DAM.

FRIDAY UPDATE: The Denver Post’s Joey Bunch:

Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush will get some brotherly help and collect some Colorado cash when former President George W. Bush comes to Denver on Oct. 18.

Since February the former president has been scheduled as the keynote speaker for the Association for Financial Professionals annual conference at the Colorado Convention Center in Denver.

The location of the fundraiser isn’t being publicized but will be disclosed to invited guests as they RSVP…

We’re not sure what all the attempted secrecy is about with the location of this fundraiser…oh, who are we kidding, we know exactly why they’re not being up front with the location of the Martin Museum Residence for a fundraiser starring George W. Bush. Former President Bush is far and away the most protested American chief executive in a generation, with far bigger demonstrations against his policies–and in more places around the world–than anything the “Tea Party” was ever able to throw at Barack Obama.

So we hope we’re not causing any, you know, problems for this event by disclosing to our readers that J. Landis Martin’s Museum Residence is located…wait for it…at the Denver Art Museum! Which has many convenient nearby protest locations.

Original post follows…


Just arrived in our inbox–a very special guest is coming to town on October 18th:


George W. Bush.

Former President George W. Bush.

That’s right, folks! Republican presidential candidate Jeb! Bush may not want to use his dynastic last name in campaign materials, but apparently enlisting brother and former President George W. Bush to headline a fundraiser is A-OK. We’re not sure how this will work out for Jeb! in the long run, since most analysts agree that getting out from under his more famous sibling’s shadow (not to mention his father’s) is critical if Jeb! really entertains a hope in hell of becoming America’s third Bush President.

Many of these questions also apply to Jeb! and Dubya’s cousin, Colorado Treasurer Walker Stapleton, who himself fancies a run for higher office in the not-too-distant future–perhaps in a gubernatorial primary against George Brauchler in 2018? Naturally, it would look weird for Stapleton to miss an event headlining his cousin and former President. But on the other hand, every photo of them together could someday be a liability.

Not like he can worry about that now! The Bush family is back in the spotlight, and all there is to do is smile.

Why is CNBC running cover for the Republican National Committee?

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

POLS UPDATE: The Boulder Daily Camera’s Sarah Kuta has more from CU Chancellor Phil DiStefano’s response to student outcry over the lack of access to the GOP presidential debate–and sorry to say, we don’t think this will placate anybody:

University of Colorado Chancellor Phil DiStefano is defending his decision to host — and foot the bill for — the Republican presidential debate on campus this month after students loudly criticized the number of tickets available to the CU community…

He emphasized that cable news network CNBC is hosting and organizing the debate, and thus has control over its format and things like audience size. The Republican National Committee is in charge of distributing tickets, he wrote.

He explained that the debate on Oct. 28 is “not a public event,” and is instead a TV broadcast with a studio audience.

“It’s not the same layout as hosting a basketball game,” he wrote, noting the need for an “extensive” stage set-up, lighting and cameras. [Pols emphasis]

The excuse that TV production equipment makes it impossible to fit more than 1,000 people in an 11,000 seat sports stadium is, to put it nicely, quite dubious. We haven’t spoken to a single person of any political persuasion who believes that, and it’s just too easy to understand why Republican organizers don’t want any meaningful number of CU students in the audience for this debate.

It is therefore no small surprise to see them sticking with this feeble excuse–especially when CNBC has so far refused to validate any part of it. Original post follows…


yourmoneyyurvoteThe Colorado Republican Party is blaming CNBC for severely limiting the number of seats available at its Oct. 28 presidential debate at the University of Colorado at Boulder.

But CNBC, which you’d think would advocate for maximum transparency and public access, hasn’t accepted the blame. Instead, strangely, it’s not commenting. What gives?

“We don’t actually know how many seats there are going to be yet,” said Colorado GOP Chair Steve House, discussing the upcoming presidential debate on KFKA’s Stacy Petty show Sept. 23.“The Coors Events Center holds 11,000, but networks are going to narrow that down to a very small number because, for some reason, they think that people might act out, right?”

CU is also blaming CNBC, sort of. In a statement about the limited seating, CU Chancellor Phillip P. DiStefano said: “The debate is being produced and led by CNBC. They determine the audience size, debate format and other aspects of the event. The Republican National Committee is in charge of ticket distribution.”

DiStefano said CNBC determines the audience size, but he was mum about the actual factual audience size set by CNBC for the event. It could have 1,000. It could have been 10,000. What was audience size that the RNC was working with?

We know the CU’s Coors events center holds 11,000 people. The RNC is reportedly distributing just 1,000 tickets, with 100 going to CU students. So did CNBC determine the 1,000 number?

A CNBC spokesman declined to comment to me this morning, as it’s done before about this matter, making CNBC look like it’s running political cover for the RNC. That’s not an appealing role for a journalistic entity.

CNBC’s silence allows the RNC to get away with not taking responsibility for the limited seating, especially because House, the local Republican leader, is flat-out blaming CNBC.

Here’s an example of what the RNC is saying:

“These debates are designed for a television audience and the millions of people who will tune in,” said Fred Brown, an RNC spokesman, according to the Durango Herald. “We look forward to the attention an event of this scale will bring the university.”

Any CNBC reporter, or any self-respecting journalist for that matter, would find that spin revolting. But normally, a journalist couldn’t do much about it. In this case, however, the information to expose the spin resides within the journalistic outfit itself. That would be CNBC.

I’m hoping CNBC will do journalism a favor and start explaining what’s going on here.


Ken Witt, The Dumbest Man In Colorado Politics

UPDATE #2: 7NEWS’ Deb Stanley with an absolutely blistering story–if you were wondering if this little time-waster of a stunt had pissed off the media as we suggested this morning, you can stop wondering.

It did:

The political posturing around the recall election for three JEFFCO Public Schools board members has soared to an absurd new level. [Pols emphasis]

On Thursday morning, embattled board president Ken Witt said he was making a “major announcement” in regards to the recall he was facing.

When the media arrived, Witt announced he was filing an ethics complaint against himself and handed out copies of what he said he was mailing to the Colorado Independent Ethics Commission…

And it turns out, Witt’s point is moot anyway.


UPDATE: We think this clip speaks for everyone who endured today’s presser:

Meanwhile, Jeffco United for Action responds:

“Ken Witt’s political stunt this morning is exactly why thousands of parents and educators are seeking to recall him. We must get politics out of our schools and today, Ken Witt further confirmed he isn’t the person to move Jeffco Schools forward,” stated Lynea Hansen spokeswoman for Jeffco United for Action.

Parents have previously filed complaints about board actions with the IEC. The IEC about a year ago told us the school board is not inside their jurisdiction and neither are open meeting laws. Jurisdiction would lie with the District Court. Even if the court was to rule in our favor that the School Board Majority did hire their personal board attorney behind closed doors, the only outcome would be to require the Board to re-do their vote in the public.

“This recall is so much bigger than one issue. Thousands of parents collected double the required signatures because the community wants these harmful politics out of their schools,” continued Hansen.


Jefferson County School Board President Ken Witt.

Jefferson County School Board President Ken Witt.

Jefferson County School Board President Ken Witt mysteriously gave notice last night that he would make a “big announcement” this morning. Since the report aired on CBS4 Denver last night, Jefferson County politicos have been scratching their heads trying to figure out what Witt was about to announce. Would he resign from the school board? Something else equally dramatic, justifying a presser at the Denver West Sheraton and camera crews from all the local networks?

As the Denver Post reports, not so much:

Ken Witt, board president of Jeffco Public Schools, announced at a news conference Thursday that he has file an ethic complaint against himself.

He has asked the Colorado Ethics Commission to investigate whether Witt was involved in breaking any open meetings laws.

Witt, a conservative member of the board, said the decision was in response to a recall effort seeking his ouster.

“I’m just calling their bluff,” Witt said Thursday…

That’s right, folks! Witt just self-inflicted this nigh-on unbelievable headline:


Now, the first problem here is that Witt filed his “complaint” with an entity that has no jurisdiction over school boards. Because it’s not a paid position, the Colorado Independent Ethics Commission ruled in 2009 that board members are excluded from the definition of “public officers” under Amendment 41. And if that’s not bad enough, the IEC isn’t even scheduled to meet again until after the election.

In short, this was about the most perfectly-engineered waste of the media’s time Ken Witt could have possibly come up with. If we had been a reporter suckered into showing up to this farce of a press conference, we would actually be very upset about the time and expense of dispatching busy camera crews and journalists to an event way out in the suburbs with absolutely zero news value.

The only thing we can add is that drawing attention to one of the principal allegations leveled by recall proponents against himself, especially in a way that makes him look like a uninformed clown while failing to refute anything regarding the allegation in question, is just laughably bad PR strategy. “Hey, look over here! They’re accusing me of something bad and instead of disproving it, I’m pulling this lame stunt!”

Whoever dispenses this kind of political advice needs to find a new career. Right now.

BREAKING: McCarthy Withdraws, House GOP In Chaos

UPDATE #3: Wall Street is equally baffled by the Republican leadership vacuum black hole. From Politico:

“We will not mince words — this is the political equivalent of a dumpster fire,” said Chris Krueger of Guggenheim Securities. “We are increasing our odds from 30 percent to 40 percent for some kind of accident that would keep Congress from raising the debt ceiling in time due to brinkmanship, procrastination or political gridlock.”


UPDATE #2: Colorado’s Rep. Ken Buck has possibly never been more right:


UPDATE: The Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza, tough to argue with him:

The tendency in the after-action reporting on McCarthy’s stunning collapse — and, make no mistake, it is stunning — will be to pinpoint a single reason for it: whether that reason be rumors of personal problems, an inability to win over the more conservative members of his conference or his recent flub when talking about the Benghazi select committee. But, those single-issue theories all miss the broader point here: There is a revolution happening within the Republican party right now. The establishment’s hold on power is more tenuous than it has been at any time in recent memory. There is no one currently in office that can claim with any credibility that he or she speaks “for” the party as a whole. That’s a remarkable development since, for decades, the GOP was known as the party that, eventually, got in line. As in, Republicans tended to nominate the guy for president who was perceived as the runner up the last time around. And, they might grumble but they eventually acceded to the wishes of Congressional leaders like Tom DeLay and Denny Hastert. The Democrats were always the rebellious party; the GOP was the follow-the-rules party.

—– We’ll be talking about this for a few news cycles, via the AP:

Stand by for local updates. And look out below!

Get More Smarter on Thursday (Oct. 8)

MoreSmarterLogo-300x218Back to the Future called it — the Chicago Cubs will win the 2015 World Series. It’s time to Get More Smarter with Colorado Pols. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example).


► The University of Colorado is trying to defend itself against student outrage over a complete lack of access to the Oct. 28 Republican Presidential debate in Boulder. Both the Boulder Daily Camera and the Durango Herald are covering the controversy today.


► Congressman Mike Coffman is facing scrutiny for speaking to an anti-Muslim “hate group” last month. Coffman was a featured speaker in September at a conference for “ACT for America,” which has been labeled a “hate group” by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

On another note, Coffman’s congressional campaign announced yesterday that it had raised $475,000 in the third quarter of 2015. This is Coffman’s biggest fundraising haul of the year, but it also comes after a Q2 that was his worst fundraising performance in the last four years.


► Conservative Republicans have found their own candidate to challenge Rep. Kevin McCarthy as the next Speaker of the House. As the Washington Post reports:

The House Freedom Caucus’s backing of Rep. Daniel Webster (R-Fla.) ahead of a crucial internal party vote Thursday deeply complicates Majority Leader Kevin O. McCarthy’s bid to succeed Boehner. The group counts enough members — about 40 — to deny McCarthy the majority of the whole House he would need to claim the speaker’s chair.


Get even more smarter after the jump…


OF COURSE Coffman Spoke To An Anti-Muslim Hate Group

As the Colorado Independent’s Kyle Harris reports:

Republican Rep. Mike Coffman spoke in September at the conference of an organization that has been profiled repeatedly as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

“ACT For America is perhaps the nation’s leading Anti-Muslim hate group … extremely out there in terms of their bigotry and extremism and hate mongering,” said Ibrahim Hooper of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

The New York Times Magazine described the organization’s president Brigitte Gabriel, who also spoke at the conference, as follows: “She presents a portrait of Islam so thoroughly bent on destruction and domination that it is unrecognizable to those who study or practice the religion.”

Gabriel has described Arabs as “barbarians” and has said, “Every practicing Muslim is a radical Muslim.” [Pols emphasis]

Now before you make any, you know, presumptions:

Would he speak for this group, which has have given him a 100 percent grade for voting against “radical Islam,” had he been warned?

“With regard to why he spoke to this group (ACT! for America), the Congressman speaks with literally hundreds of groups every year, and very rarely agrees with every aspect of their agenda. But that doesn’t mean you don’t have a dialogue,” his spokesperson [Cinamon] Watson wrote.

As Harris recounts, Rep. Mike Coffman has made bashing so-called “radical Islam” a favorite topic in guest opinion columns and at public events. The group that Coffman spoke at, ACT! For America, appears to take it a step further by declaring all Muslims to be “radical” Muslims. It should be noted that this belief has a fair number of adherents in Colorado, as one example the openly anti-Muslim climate that pervades the Western Conservative Summit year after year–even inviting internationally-infamous anti-Muslim demagogues like Geert Wilders of the Netherlands to speak.

At a Defense Department course on Islam, in 2007, Gabriel said: “If a Muslim who has — who is — a practicing Muslim who believes the word of the Koran to be the word of Allah, who abides by Islam, who goes to mosque and prays every Friday, who prays five times a day — this practicing Muslim, who believes in the teachings of the Koran, cannot be a loyal citizen to the United States of America.”

Wow! But remember, Coffman doesn’t necessarily agree. He just gave a speech at their conference, right? After all, it’s not like Coffman has ever said anything even remotely close to what this group says, right?

Oops (see photo).

Given the substantial percentage of the Republican base who believe to this day that President Barack Obama, like Coffman said in 2012, “is just not an American,” a belief largely revolving around President Obama’s Muslim father…well, don’t you think that if Coffman meant any of those apologies, he might be a little more careful about appearing before an organization given to all-too-similar generalizations?

All we can say is, he must really be counting on that free ride from the press.

Arvada Prepares for Bigger Ballot in 2015

As Austin Briggs of the Denver Post reports, Arvada voters have a plethora of choices on the ballot for 2015:

Because District 1 Councilwoman Rachel Zenzinger was called to serve in the Colorado Senatealmost two years ago and was  replaced by Jerry Marks, residents will have a rare opportunity to select five — instead of three or four — municipal officers.

All five incumbents are running for re-election, with six challengers hoping to replace them for four-year terms in the single at-large and mayor positions and two-year terms in the District 1, 2 and 4 seats.

Read the rest of the Post story to see how urban renewal issues may end up being the top priority for Arvada voters.

Turning Points for Renewable Energy

Turning points.

Turning points.

Whether it comes out of the ground or from the sky, energy production remains a hot topic in Colorado. Each side has its own set of arguments, but we may be reaching a true tipping point in favor of renewable energy.

As Tom Randall writes for Bloomberg Business, the “capacity factor” is making solar and wind energy more economically-viable than other sources of energy:

Wind power is now the cheapest electricity to produce in both Germany and the U.K., even without government subsidies, according to a new analysis by Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF). It’s the first time that threshold has been crossed by a G7 economy.

But that’s less interesting than what just happened in the U.S.

To appreciate what’s going on there, you need to understand the capacity factor. That’s the percentage of a power plant’s maximum potential that’s actually achieved over time…

…One of the major strengths of fossil fuel power plants is that they can command very high and predictable capacity factors. The average U.S. natural gas plant, for example, might produce about 70 percent of its potential (falling short of 100 percent because of seasonal demand and maintenance). But that’s what’s changing, and it’s a big deal.

For the first time, widespread adoption of renewables is effectively lowering the capacity factor for fossil fuels. [Pols emphasis] That’s because once a solar or wind project is built, the marginal cost of the electricity it produces is pretty much zero—free electricity—while coal and gas plants require more fuel for every new watt produced. If you’re a power company with a choice, you choose the free stuff every time.

In any political debate, simple economic factors can end up making the strongest argument. All of the saber-rattling and fist-shaking about fossil fuels and renewables will grind to a halt when oil and gas production is no longer economically preferable…and it appears we may be crossing that bridge.

Justin Everett says Neville is Superior Senate Candidate to Sonnenberg or Scott

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

UPDATE: State Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg confirmed this afternoon that he has been “looking at” running for U.S. Senate for “several months” but was waiting on “George Brauchler’s decision” before deciding whether to enter the race himself.

“I’ve spent the past week meeting with a number of people in Denver,” he said, adding that he anticipates “having a decision by the first of next week.” “Michael Bennet’s numbers look worse than Mark Udall’s did a year out,” he said. “I see that as an opportunity to have two Republican Senators from Colorado.”


After State Sen. Ray Scott’s name was floated on Facebook as a possible candidate to take on Sen. Michael Bennet, Rep. Justin Everett of Littleton stood up for his guy, Sen. Tim Neville.

“I don’t see anyone beating Tim in the primary, and I don’t see Ray as a threat,” wrote Everett. “Especially because [Jerry] Sonnenberg will probably get in as well, and they’d probably be competing with each other for the rural vote.”

To which, Ray Scott replied, “Tunnel vision only applies when you’re in a tunnel.”

Everett then wrote: “Reality based on 20 years political experience from being paid staff on state-wide campaigns, tight with consultant class, to doing high dollar fundraising for the RNC [Republican National Committee]. I got creds.”

“I’m friends with Ray and Jerry, but the fact is, this is a battle. If you are going to take on Michael Bennet, you have to have a proven candidate,” Everett told me when asked about the Facebook post.

But how does he know Sonnenberg is even likely to run?

“I call it the rule of three. I’ve heard from three people  that Jerry flat-out said he would run,” said Everett, adding that the three people are from different groups.

As for Scott, Everett says he’s heard from other sources that Scott is serious about the race, and Everett points to the fact that Scott himself “chimed in” during the Facebook exchange as further confirmation of this.

Scott did not return a call for comment. I’ll update this blog post if he does. [I spoke with Sonnenberg after posting this blog. See update above.]

In response to a Facebook commenter who called Ray a “good candidate,” Everett wrote: “Performance matters. Ray hasn’t raised money from anyone or PACS. Tim has… My horse [Neville] knows how to win a race and is battle tested. Ray has never had a competitive race. Tim Neville, no better horse out there.”

Everett told me Neville can win based on the “Ken Buck Model of 2010 when he beat Jane Norton.” Buck went on to nearly defeat Bennet in the general, despite mistakes by national Republicans, he told me.

“There’s a path for victory for Tim, not only in the primary, but in the general,” said Everett, adding that Buck was way outspent by Norton and still won.

“Tim is smart enough to get good people behind him and raise money,” continued Everett. “He knows how to do direct mail, micro-targeting, voter ID. They know how to run campaigns, and they’ve been successful in primaries. He’ll work his butt off. He’s authentic. He’s in an excellent position to win the primary. Is this a battle Republicans want to fight? Or should they coalesce around Tim?”

In addition to Neville, businessman Robert Blaha, El Paso County Commissioner Darryl Glenn and former Parker mayor Greg Lopez have already announced their intention to seek the GOP spot against Bennet. Attorney Dan Caplis is “very serious” about a run, and Larimer County Sheriff Justin Smith is thinking about entering the race.

Get More Smarter on Wednesday (Oct. 7)

MoreSmarterLogo-300x218The Yankees…don’t win. It’s time to Get More Smarter with Colorado Pols. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example).


► Democrat Morgan Carroll is shaking up the race for CD-6 in more ways than one. Carroll’s straight-talk style seems to be confusing for Republican trackers, and could be the key to defeating incumbent Republican Rep. Mike Coffman in 2016.


► Famous rich person Donald Trump remains atop the Republican field for President, and this one’s gotta sting the other candidates: He’s only spent $2 million on his campaign. In total. As the Washington Post reports, Trump appears to have realized that he might actually win this thing, so he’s moving toward creating a more traditional campaign structure. And a new poll from Quinnipiac University shows Trump crushing both Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio in their home state of Florida.


►Using polling data to forecast election winners is getting more and more difficult as demographics change and more people drop landlines altogether. Gallup has decided not to track the general election for the first time since predicting Franklin Roosevelt’s re-election in 1936. Gallup’s poor showing in 2012 didn’t help matters, writes Politico:

Gallup’s final survey showed Romney leading Obama by 1 point — 4.9 points off from the final result, in which Obama prevailed by 3.9 points. It also misidentified the winner. That led to a lengthy and expensive effort by Gallup to retool its methodology, a process the pollster described back in 2013 as aimed at the next presidential election.


Get even more smarter after the jump…