BREAKING: Jack Graham Enters GOP Senate Race with $1M and a Wadhams

A visual guide to the Jon Keyser for Senate campaign this morning.

A visual guide to the Jon Keyser for Senate campaign this morning.

The race for the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate just changed in a big way. As Ernest Luning reports for the Colorado Statesman:

Former CSU athletic director Jack Graham is planning to petition his way onto what could be a crowded Republican primary ballot for the U.S. Senate seat held by Democrat Michael Bennet, and he seeded his run with a $1 million deposit to his campaign account yesterday.

Not only is Graham seeding his campaign with a cool million, he’s bringing on former Republican Party Chair Dick Wadhams as his campaign manager.

We’ll admit that we don’t know a lot about Jack Graham politically, but $1 million and Dick Wadhams is more than enough to shake the foundations of the massive GOP field running for U.S. Senate. Wadhams is no longer the feared political operative who guided Wayne Allard and John Thune into the U.S. Senate, but he does give Graham a legitimacy that he otherwise would have had to work hard to establish on his own.

Former Colorado State University Athletic Director Jack Graham

Former Colorado State University Athletic Director Jack Graham

On the fundraising side, seeding his campaign with a million dollars instantly gives Graham a warchest that the 10-12 other GOP candidates may not be able to match. Graham is a former Athletic Director at CSU, and the job of AD at a major university is largely related to fundraising; Graham no doubt has a hefty rolodex that he can consult as he starts dialing for dollars.

Graham’s loud entry into the Senate race changes some of what we wrote just yesterday in assessing the state of the Republican field of candidates. State Sen. Tim Neville is still in the driver’s seat to win the June Primary because, for one thing, he doesn’t really have to worry about getting his name on the ballot. Neville should have little trouble generating more than 30% of the votes at the State Republican Convention (the minimum amount needed for ballot access), and he’s a known and trusted quantity to many in the far-right base of the GOP.

And then there’s Jon Keyser. To borrow a Trump-ism, Keyser just got schlonged.

Keyser was the National Republican Senatorial Committee’s (NRSC) big recruit for the Senate race, and he pushed all of his chips into the center of the table by resigning his seat in the State Legislature as well as his job at a big Denver law firm. Keyser’s campaign got off to an inauspicious start, with questions about campaigning while on military duty and a general  indifference from the media about his chances. The plan was for Keyser to hunker down and raise money — he reportedly had soft offers of support for millions in campaign cash — but Graham, Wadhams, and $1 million may scurry that support in a hurry.

Graham’s entry into the Senate race really changes the math for Keyser. Anybody can try to petition onto the ballot (Graham, Ryan Frazier, and Robert Blaha are already going that route), but it’s a giant pain in the ass and a significant drain on resources, time, and money to go that route. Keyser’s team has already indicated that he will go the petition route, but that assumes that big donors are still onboard with the NRSC’s Keyser experiment following Graham’s bombshell. Remember, there was already a self-funder in the race in Blaha, and Frazier claims to have raised at least $200k, which gives him a good head start on the petition process. Writing a big check to Keyser suddenly looks like a long-shot bet.

Keyser could try to switch strategies and go the convention route, but Republicans don’t really know who he is, and there are — at most — three available ballot spots through the Party. Neville will certainly claim one of those spots, with Peggy Littleton and Darryl Glenn (or someone else) potentially fighting it out for 30%.

With just a few months to go until the June Primary, serious GOP candidates for the U.S. Senate need three things: Ballot Access, Television ads, and enough cash to fuel a staff of at least a half-dozen people. How many Republican candidates can still check all three boxes this morning?

It would seem the only Senate candidate smiling this morning is incumbent Democrat Michael Bennet.

Another Day, Another Republican Candidate for U.S. Senate

IMPORTANT POLICY CHANGE: If you live in Colorado and have been a registered Republican for about a year, Colorado Pols will henceforth assume you are running for U.S. Senate in 2016 until we hear otherwise.

Jerry Natividad, Republican candidate for U.S. Senate

Jerry Natividad, Republican candidate for U.S. Senate

 

Okay, we’re kidding…sort of. As John Frank reports for the Denver Post, Colorado Republicans will have yet another candidate seeking the GOP nomination for U.S. Senate:

Jerry Natividad, a leading Hispanic businessman in the Denver area, is preparing to announce a bid later this month for the GOP nomination. “I’m at the stage where I’m probably going to do this thing,” the 65-year-old told The Denver Post…

Natividad is the president of American Facility Services Group and owner of the Jeffco Regional Sports Facility in Lakewood. For decades, he worked the sidelines of the political field, serving as a board member of the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, the Colorado Chair of the Republican National Hispanic Assembly and a member of Mitt Romney’s Hispanic leadership team in 2012, according to a biography from the Koch-funded Leadership Institute, where he was a guest speaker…

Depending on your definition of a “U.S. Senate candidate,” Natividad is at least the 9th Republican candidate to enter the 2016 field. Why would Natividad want to try to squeeze into this clown car? He doesn’t like the current occupants:

“When I take a look at (the GOP Senate primary),” he said, the candidates are “just more of the same.”

Fair enough.

Whoops! Jon Keyser’s Own Words Trip Up Campaign Announcement

State Rep. Jon Keyser (R-Morrison), sans feet-in-mouth.

State Rep. Jon Keyser (R-Morrison), sans feet-in-mouth.

Freshman state Rep. Jon Keyser formally launched his campaign for U.S. Senate on Monday. It was quite an inauspicious start for the half-term lawmaker from Morrison.

As Peter Marcus reports for the Durango HeraldKeyser’s campaign wasn’t even a few hours old before Keyser ran into trouble over his own words:

ProgressNow Colorado on Monday filed a complaint with the Judge Advocate General’s Corps for the Air Force, alleging that Keyser violated Air Force rules by engaging in politics while on active duty.

Keyser is a major in the Air Force Reserve.

ProgressNow highlighted a Dec. 10 report by The Colorado Statesman, which interviewed Keyser regarding his likely candidacy. Keyser told The Statesman, “right now I’m focused on national security and serving our country in uniform as a member of the Air Force Reserve.”

The article – citing an unnamed source – also noted that Keyser attended a luncheon on a day off from military duties, where he received $3 million in commitments to back his campaign.

The Judge Advocate General’s office had not received the complaint as of Monday afternoon. Generally, such complaints are handled through an internal investigation through the accused’s command post. The Inspector General of the Air Force could also investigate.

The National Journal was among the media outlets to pick up on the Herald story. Keyser supporters were quick to try to dismiss the complaint as partisan politics, but Keyser has only himself to blame for his inexplicable statements to the Colorado Statesman last month. Take a closer look at Keyser’s comments from the Dec. 10th Statesman story [all emphasis is ours]:

“I’m strongly considering it,” Keyser said in an interview with The Colorado Statesman this week. “Right now I’m focused on national security and serving our country in uniform as a member of the Air Force Reserve.”

Keyser, who holds the rank of major in the Air Force Reserve, has been deployed on a training mission in Florida this month as part of a mission to combat terrorist and transnational criminal networks in Central and South America, a spokesman said. He returns to Colorado next week.

“There’s not a campaign yet,” Keyser. “But as I spend a few weeks serving in the military, I think now more than ever, our nation is at a crossroads and the threats we face are enormous. This is a pivotal time in our nation’s history.”…

…Following a recent visit to Washington, D.C., where Keyser attended the Republican Jewish Coalition’s presidential forum luncheon last week as an invited guest on a day off from his duties, he received $3 million in commitments of soft money to back his campaign, said a source familiar with the matter.

If you’re scoring at home, you can mark this down as an “unforced error” by Keyser.

The Keyser Senate campaign is clearly intending to focus on his military background as a primary selling point, but Keyser really stuck both feet in his mouth with his comments to the Statesman. This wasn’t just a one-off thing, either; Keyser talks about “serving our country in uniform” in the same breath as a potential Senate bid, and he does so in two separate quotations.

The U.S. Military has specific rules about combining politics with military service. It is too early to tell if Keyser’s words will lead to a formal investigation by the Air Force or Department of Defense, but regardless of the outcome, it’s important to repeat that Keyser is being tripped up by his own words here. This was a completely avoidable and unnecessary mistake by someone who will need to defend himself against Republican critics who worry that Keyser is too inexperienced for such a big leap in elected office.

This isn’t the first time that Keyser has made a weird, unforced political error, either. In October 2013, when Keyser was first running for his state House seat, he falsely alleged that there was a problem with Colorado’s voting system because he received two ballots instead of one. Jefferson County Clerk Pam Anderson, a Republican, immediately noticed that Keyser’s “second ballot” was not a duplicate, but a separate ballot for a special taxation district election related to property Keyser owned outside of Jefferson County. Go back and read the story before you try to argue that this was an innocent mistake by Keyser and not an intentional lie.

Keyser is going to need to run a tight campaign if he hopes to defeat state Sen. Tim Neville in a Republican Primary in June. These are the kind of boneheaded moves that will only add to the perception that Neville is unbeatable with GOP voters.

Top 10 Stories of 2015 #5: Everybody (and Nobody) Wants to Run for U.S. Senate

Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Denver) attempts to count the number of Republican Senate candidates with two hands.

Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Denver) attempts to count the number of Republican Senate candidates with two hands.

Robert Blaha; George Brauchler; Ken Buck; Bill Cadman; Cynthia Coffman; Mike Coffman; Dan Domenico; Ryan Frazier; Darryl Glenn; Jack Graham; Jon Keyser; Peggy Littleton; Greg Lopez; Tim Neville; Ellen Roberts; Greg Robinson; Don Rosier; Mark Scheffel; Justin Smith; Scott Tipton.

That’s 20 names, just off the top of our head, of Republicans who made some manner of noise about running for U.S. Senate in 2016. The names in bold are those who have either declared their intentions to run or have very recently gone public with the proposition. This is by no means an exhaustive list, but we were exhausted by the very thought of trying to look up every single Republican who was somehow connected to the U.S. Senate race.

The National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) likes to say that Sen. Michael Bennett is the most endangered Democratic incumbent in 2016, pointing to generic heads-up matchups tested in polls throughout 2015. What these polls show, in a nutshell, is that Bennet could have a competitive re-election race if — and that’s a big “if” — he was facing a strong Republican challenger on the ballot in November (and if the election were held at the time each particular poll was actually conducted).

Here’s the rub: If Bennet is so seemingly beatable in 2016, then why are Republicans having so much trouble finding a candidate to rally behind?

First of all, any poll conducted more than year out from Election Day — in any race — is relatively useless. The average voter isn’t paying much attention to Michael Bennet just yet, and they certainly have little familiarity with the likes of Greg Lopez or Don Rozier.

The other piece of this story that Republicans fail to mention is that Bennet is considered the most endangered Democratic Senate incumbent in large part because he is the only Democratic incumbent running in a swing state in 2016. With Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada choosing to retire rather than seek another term in office, Bennet is the list of endangered Democratic incumbents. It’s a useful fact if spun correctly, but the big Republican talking point on Bennet isn’t nearly as compelling as it sounds.

Sen. Cory Gardner, left, poses for an awkward photo with state Sen. Tim Neville

Sen. Cory Gardner, left, poses for an awkward photo with state Sen. Tim Neville

When you consider all of the rumors and news about the 2016 Senate race that floated out in 2015, one name stands above the rest: Tim Neville. The far-right conservative state senator started to dip his toe in the U.S. Senate field late last summer, and on Tuesday he formally kicked off his 2016 bid with a strong focus on social issues such as abortion and gun rights. Neville will have massive support from grassroots Republican activists, the Tea Party, anti-choice groups, and big gun lobbies such as the Rocky Mountain Gun Owners (RMGO) — all of which makes him nearly unbeatable in the June Republican Primary.

What makes Neville such an important figure in 2016? It is not clear that he could defeat Bennet in a General Election given his out-of-the-mainstream beliefs on abortion, gay marriage, and gun safety…but it is also difficult to see how Neville could possibly lose a Republican Primary to put his name on the ballot opposite Bennet. Any Republican candidate considering a 2016 Senate bid needs to first decide if they can beat Neville among the Republican base, and whether that campaign would need to avoid the caucus process out of fear that Neville would capture so many delegates that it would stop his challengers cold.

As of this writing, the NRSC thinks it has its best candidate in freshman state Rep. Jon Keyser. Washington Republicans are trying to push Keyser as their candidate because they like how he matches up against Bennet in a General Election. It is quite likely, however, that Keyser will never even make it to the General Election ballot because of Neville’s growing presence. In short, Washington Republicans want Colorado Republicans to get behind a Senate candidate who probably can’t win the GOP nomination in the first place.

Good luck with all that.

 

Fort Morgan’s Cargill Plant Fires 150 Muslim Employees in Dispute over Religious Freedom

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

On December 23, 2015, Cargill Meat Solutions Plant in Fort Morgan fired 150 mostly Somali Muslim employees after forbidding Islamic prayers at work, saying, “If you want to pray, go home”. The employees are not eligible to be rehired for six months.

Screen capture of ABC news video

Cargill employees fired for praying at work. Attribution: Denver Channel, 12/30/15

The meat processors, some of whom had worked at the plant for 10 years, had been allowed, under long-standing policy, to take five minutes to pray during their own unpaid lunch and break times, in a “reflection room” provided by the plant. This policy, in place since 2009,  allowed its employees the freedom to pray at work, and allowed the company to produce meat products profitably and on time. Six hundred of the 2100 workers at Cargill’s Fort Morgan plant are Somali Muslims.

Then, suddenly, according to CAIR’s Hussein, Cargill cracked down and stopped allowing Muslim prayer at work. Members of other faiths, presumably, are still allowed to use the company “reflection room” to pray during break time.

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Local Vet Makes Colorado Look Good, Trump Look Very Bad

Donald Trump.

Donald Trump.

There’s no nice way to say it: Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump’s hotly controversial call to bar the entry of all Muslims into the United States has a surprising–the better word may be disturbing–amount of support among American conservatives according to polls taken since terrorist mass shooting attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, California. While polls of the general public show Americans reject Trump’s demagoguery as unconstitutional, it has given Trump new strength in GOP presidential primary polls after opponent Ted Cruz began narrowing the gap in recent weeks.

Trump’s enduring dominance in the Republican presidential primary has legitimized a segment of American conservative political opinion that, while we’ve always known it was out there, has truly significant implications for America’s reputation as a global moral leader in human rights and equality when brought into the light of day. Trump’s campaign has ripped the proverbial scab off the ugliest manifestations of not just the “Tea Party,” but decades of divisive politics American that has its roots in the Southern Strategy of the 1960s and the racist realignment to the GOP that strategy produced.

Needless to say, what’s happening could make for a very long blog post. And it is very bad for America’s moral authority.

But instead, ABC News reports this Christmas week on a lifelong Denver resident Iraq War veteran with a campaign in response to Trump that’s going viral:

Veterans and current service members are using social media to reassure Muslim Americans that they will fight for their rights as citizens.

On Facebook and Twitter, military service members and veterans have started using the hashtag #iwillprotectyou after one mother’s post went viral about her daughter’s fear of being kicked out of the country.

Melissa Chance Yassini posted about her daughter’s reaction to hearing proposals by Donald Trump to ban Muslims from entering the country.

“She had began collecting all her favorite things in a bag in case the army came to remove us from our homes,” Yassini wrote on Facebook about her daughter Sofia. “She checked the locks on the door 3-4 times. This is terrorism. No child in America deserves to feel that way.”

Iraq War veteran Kerri Peek.

Denver-area Iraq War veteran Kerri Peek.

Melissa Chance Yassini’s post about her daughter’s fear of being deported for being Muslim caught the attention of local veteran Kerri Peek:

Kerri Peek, an Army veteran saw the story on social media and was horrified.

“I was up all night, it bothered me,” Peek told ABC News. “I’m a mom, for mother to mother … I know you want to protect your children from everything.”

Peek said she was especially upset that Sofia was worried about soldiers coming to take her away.

“What’s a way [for her] to know that soldiers are not going to come to her door,” Peek told ABC News, who eventually sent her a picture of herself in her Army uniform.

Peek’s response to Yassini was picked up by the national social sharing site Upworthy on Friday, and from there is making its way into national media today. You can follow the hashtag #iwillprotectyou on Twitter and Facebook to see the trending nationwide response, which as of this writing has many more veterans and supporters than pro-Trump “trolls.”

From our vantage point watching over Colorado politics, and with Christmas coming later this week, we can’t think of a better response to Trump than this story–maybe even a validation of the principles that make America a great place, even as Trump besmirches them. Here’s a local Iraq War veteran doing a lot more to defend American values from the Donald Trumps of the world than some others we know in much higher places.

Latinos To Cruz, Rubio: No Habla Por Nosotros

Sen. Ted Cruz, with Tom Tancredo (L) and Rep. Steve King of Iowa (R).

Sen. Ted Cruz, with Tom Tancredo (L) and Rep. Steve King of Iowa (R).

The Washington Post’s Mary Jordan reports today on the liberal pushback underway against Republican “Latino outreach” efforts ahead of the 2016 elections. As the GOP and allied major funders like the Koch brothers pour millions of dollars into bettering their performance among America’s fastest-growing demographic bloc of voters, the Latino activists the community has grown up with have a simple message:

“It’s not comfortable for us to do this, to call out members of our own community who don’t reflect our community values, but we have no choice,” said Cristóbal Alex, president of the Democratic-backed Latino Victory Project.

At a Monday gathering in Nevada of Democratic Hispanic leaders, ahead of tonight’s GOP debate in Las Vegas, photos of Cruz and Rubio were plastered alongside Trump’s picture, as all three were criticized as anti-Latino. A press release noted, “While Trump continues to grab headlines with his hateful anti-Latino, anti-immigrant language, the positions and records of the two Latino presidential candidates in the race are equally dangerous for Nevada communities.”

Dolores Huerta, an influential labor leader and civil rights activist, called Cruz and Rubio “sellouts” and “traitors” at the gathering and said the Hispanic candidates “are turning their backs on the Latino community.”

The latest nationwide polls show GOP presidential frontrunner Donald Trump with a commanding lead over the rest of the GOP field. With that once again noted for the record, a considerable segment of the GOP party activist class sees Marco Rubio and (to a less rational extent) Ted Cruz as the most electable candidates in the pack. A large part of that perception rests on their Cuban-American heritage–a curious embrace of the “identity politics” Republicans generally claim to shun.

Here in Colorado, Rubio’s campaign in particular is organizing as much as is practical with a state party that has rendered its own Republican caucuses meaningless. The Koch-funded Libre Initiative has an office in lower Highlands in Denver, ready to chase the Latino vote in the general election for the GOP. On paper, it all sounds like a formidable strategy.

The problem, as community icon Dolores Huerta and a who’s-who of recognized names among Latino voters are here to tell you, is that the appeal of these candidates is–and there’s no nice way to say ths–literally skin-deep. Other than an ability to converse in the native language, Marco Rubio simply has nothing tangible to offer Latino voters on the issues that matter to their daily lives. Rubio has abandoned the central policy plank on which he could have won over Latino votes, and running rightward in this primary, he can’t articulate any real plan for improving the personal economics of Latino families. As for Cruz?

You see the picture of him with Tom Tancredo and Steve King, right?

There’s no question that as a large and growing bloc of at least theoretically swingable voters, Latinos are going to be aggressively courted by anyone who wants to win elections.

For Republicans, this is a necessity that’s perilously likely to backfire.

Coffman/Trump Faceplant Gets Even Worse

Rep. Mike Coffman (R).

Rep. Mike Coffman (R).

Roll Call reports today–you think Democrats are being unfair to Rep. Mike Coffman by linking his past words and votes to controversial Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump, do you?

Well folks, Coffman’s doing his best to make it stick like glue:

In Colorado’s 6th District, where Rep. Mike Coffman is facing a competitive re-election, his likely Democratic opponent, state Sen. Morgan Carroll, accused him Wednesday evening of sharing Trump’s “anti-Muslim affiliation” for having spoken at an Act for America conference, which Carroll called an “anti-Muslim advocacy organization.”

And Democrats seized on Coffman’s Tuesday statement reacting to Trump, saying it didn’t go far enough.

“I put out a statement yesterday that I represent all the constituents in my district, including Muslims, and I think my record speaks for itself,” Coffman told Roll Call outside House chambers on Wednesday afternoon.

His original statement did not mention Trump.

Pressed about whether he’d support Trump if he were the Republican nominee, Coffman said, “I’m not going to go there. Thanks.” [Pols emphasis] Several seconds later, about to board an elevator, Coffman added, “He’s not going to be the nominee.”

“I’m not going to go there?” Given the enormous damage that Trump is doing to the entire Republican brand as his headlong descent into straight-up hate speech and demagoguery rolls on, Coffman’s non-response to these questions is absolutely stunning. We’re inclined to agree with Coffman that Trump is unlikely to win the Republican nomination, though he is already positioning himself to run as an independent in that event. But if anything, that should make Coffman more willing to call out Trump, not less.

So what the hell is going on? Honestly, we’re not completely sure. It may be that Coffman is looking at polling numbers that say he cannot go against Trump publicly for fear of losing votes he must retain to keep his seat. It may be that Coffman authentically likes Trump, or something that he has said–though you’re not going to hear that publicly. Given Coffman’s silence on the matter, it may be that Coffman actually agrees with Trump.

Whatever the reasons, we have to think that Coffman failing after repeated chances now to denounce Trump’s anti-Muslim rhetoric is going to damage him significantly in swing CD-6. Just wait until voters in the district are reminded how Coffman can’t bring himself to do what so many other Republicans are not just willing, but desperate to do.

Unfortunately for Coffman, Trump is making himself the focus of every political discussion. And there’s no escape.

Bennet Votes For CO’s Public Health; Gardner Supports Polluters

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

It’s fairly common for people to feel disenchanted with politics these days. Unfortunately, they’re not unjustified; our elected officials don’t always behave in accordance with the values we expect of them.

However, sometimes we get to feel genuine pride for our politicians. For us, one of those came a week ago when Senator Michael Bennet voted against a reckless move in the U.S. Senate to dismantle the Clean Power Plan using a little-used parliamentary maneuver called a Congressional Review Act or CRA.

We were thrilled to hear about this decision; thwarting the Clean Power Plan would have set our nation back years in our effort to reduce carbon pollution.

That’s why Conservation Colorado today launched a $325,000 digital and television ad campaign praising Senator Bennet. His vote shows that he understands our need to protect Coloradans and their public health from carbon pollution.

[Watch the video(s) after the jump]

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Neville Gleefully Stokes The Fear on Syrian Refugees

denvernextparis2

A fundraising email appeal from 2016 U.S. Senate candidate and Colorado Sen. Tim Neville yesterday pulls out all the proverbial stops, invoking the prospect of Syrian refugees coming to Colorado as an invitation to an attack on Mile High Stadium (see photo above)–now with an angry President Barack Obama Photoshopped in leading the ISIS terrorists on! Argumentum in terrorem is the order of the day:

Governor Hickenlooper refuses to back down from his plans to bring Barack Obama’s potentially dangerous Syrian “refugees” to Colorado.

An unsecured border and unvetted Syrian “refugees” threaten the safety and security of Colorado’s families…

I’m under fire for daring to stand up to Barack Obama and Governor Hickenlooper.

In fact, ProgressNow — one of the largest left-wing organizations in Colorado — called me the “most dangerous politician in America” because I represent the “no-compromise, take-no-prisoners wing of the Republican Party.”

But the real reason they’re attacking me is because I’ve taken on an entrenched Democrat in a purple district before — and won.

They know I’m the Republican with the best chance to DEFEAT Michael Bennet in November 2016.

They fear me the most.

That last part is a bit confusing, since we were under the impression it was the refugees–excuse us, “refugees”–we were supposed to be afraid of? However you may feel about this message qualitatively, and we know many readers will find it thoroughly contemptible, certainly it would be a mistake to underestimate it in the context of the Republican U.S. Senate primary Tim Neville is running in today.

By most estimates the aftermath of the terrorist attacks in Paris has been very good for Republican presidential primary frontrunner Donald Trump’s campaign. Marco Rubio actually said Sunday before sort-of-but-not-really backpedaling Monday that the Paris attacks were a “positive development” if they placed Americans in an appropriately fearful psychological condition. Last year on the campaign trail, now-Sen. Cory Gardner freely exploited xenophobic fears and ignorance from ISIS to Ebola.

So yes, love it or hate it, Tim Neville knows exactly what he’s doing.

Climate Change: Its What’s for Dinner

Norman Rockwell painted a scene of a fictionalized Thanksgiving that still haunts hostesses and hosts to this day.

By now most people are aware that the history that brings us Thanksgiving is not all as sanguine as we may have been led to believe. The subtext of conquest is bitter to swallow for many.

And abundance itself can devolve to gluttony and greed – stampeding consumerism no longer contained to the immediate Black Friday aftermath even, but invading the holiday itself.

So don’t blame me for ruining the day to raise another issue we can fret over even as we count our blessings otherwise – and that is climate change. Specifically what that clear and present climate crisis means for the food system and food security.

As you slather butter on squash and pile high your pie, you might consider that food systems are among the most vulnerable to climate change.  At risk from drought and wildlife, floods and landslides, threatened by declining pollinators and expanding pests, burdened by crashing fisheries. Of the systems that sustain humanity, how we produce and find the food we eat may be the most in jeopardy.

The point with all this isn’t to ruin the feast but to provide a morsel to chew on as the tryptophan kicks in. And may there be many more days of too much deliciousness in your life. But if we care about feeding ourselves and each other we ought to care about climate change and what we can do about it.

Recently I helped convene a group of growers, food advocates, climate crusaders, and local heroes in a series of gatherings and events around local food security and climate change, as reported in High Country News and KVNF community radio.

Pete Kolbenschlag, the organizer of the Paonia panel discussion, knows that food security affects everyone. “If you care about what’s on your plate, and you care about feeding other people and the planet, then we need to care about climate change, because climate change is going to affect our food supply,” he says.

The purpose was to consider what climate change means for agriculture and rural communities on the Western Slope and how we could begin to work collaboratively to address it.

Generally western Colorado is vulnerable to increased periods of drought and extreme precipitation, a snowpack that melts earlier and warmer winters, with freezes into May likely to remain a fact on the elevated slopes on the western flanks of the Rocky Mountains.

Warm winters result in early blooms on fruit trees that are then at risk to late snow and spring frosts.

Accepting some problems such as increased incidences of early bloom coupled with late April freeze, which is a real problem for the fruit producers where I live for instance, will be part of living with a changing climate.

And climate change means several things more broadly for farming and food security in Colorado as well, including:

*Adapting our farming and food systems to a changing climate will be necessary: to create more climate resilience into the design, crop selection, and techniques; and to make wise water use and management, a top priority in all aspects of growing and producing food.

*Adopting better practices in agriculture and in food system, to reduce greenhouse gas contributions – from eating less meat to utilizing techniques that enhances local carbon capture.

*Accelerating the transition to cleaner energy sources and more local power production in agricultural and food production.

Food security and the threats looming to it from climate change is an issue of global significance.  It also matters for us here at home.  And meeting the challenges that climate change poses for Colorado’s food system will take national and state commitment, as well as local action.

Homegrown approaches for rural communities and others that can help us adapt our food system to address climate change,  from sharing local clean energy capacity and installations (‘solar barn-raisings’) to expanding local food networks.

There is tangible value in gratitude. And for most of us there are things for which we are rightfully thankful. Considering these things helps cultivate a positive attitude.

We can be thankful we are removed from troubling global events we see, perhaps. We may be thankful we are not fleeing a war torn cluster of other powers’ making.

But even these situations have roots not only in political upheaval, like in Syria and Iraq, but also in basic needs that are going unmet. The fact is we are all connected. Global security is connected to food supply. And that supply is being directly impacted from climate change.

A stock Thanksgiving meal set unlike any that I have personally experienced, yet with several classic elements.

So if you are fortunate enough to be able to look with thanks upon your table this season, do take time to think about the world beyond your circle. Remember your family and friends that aren’t there. Include the farmers and winemakers, the workers and craft that brings bounty to you.

But also thank Governor Hickenlooper for defending the Clean Power Plan and Senator Bennet for supporting it against Republican rollbacks in the Senate. One little bite at a time, and some perseverance, and we can make a real difference.

Maybe say a little prayer for peace. But also send it to the world’s leaders heading to Paris this week. Ask that they keep the wisdom that reminds: the smart ruler fills bellies while the harvest of an army is a waste of thorns.

If we want peace, we need security. And if we want security then people need to be secure in their food supplies. And to ensure people have full bellies, and secure food supplies, political leaders need to Act on Climate. It really is as simple as the food on our plate.

Rep. Clarice Navarro-Ratzlaff: Seal Off Colorado?

We’ve seen plenty of reactions from Colorado politicians to the Paris terrorist attacks and subsequent controversy over allowing Syrian refugees into the United States, but this (we hope) ill-thought-out Facebook stream of consciousness from GOP Rep. Clarice Navarro-Ratzlaff of Pueblo stands apart from even the “usual” crazy talkers like Tom Tancredo and Sen. Laura Waters Woods:

 

navarroclosetheborder

So, uh, did Rep. Navarro-Ratzlaff misspeak here some way, or does she really think we need to “pause on letting anyone into Colorado?” When she says we need to “pause on letting anyone into Colorado,” does this mean refugees? Immigrants? Californians?

coloradowall

That’s the problem with sweeping statements in the era of “Tea Party” crazy talk. They might actually mean it.

Tipton promoting apparent misinformation that Paris attacker had “Syrian refugee passport”

(Rumor doesn’t have it – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Rep. Scott Tipton (R).

Rep. Scott Tipton (R).

On Facebook Monday, Rep. Scott Tipton posted the apparent misinformation that “one of the bombers involved in the Paris attacks had a Syrian refugee passport.”

This is almost certainly wrong, apparently a so-called false flag, yet the statement remains on Tipton’s official Facebook page.

Newsweek reported: “Serbian officials told The Guardian that they think both the passport found in Paris and on the man they arrested are fake. A source investigating the case told the AFP that the passport belongs to a Syrian soldier who was killed earlier this year. Officials have not made any public statements on the passport confirming or denying its authenticity.”

Tipton on Facebook: The risks posed to our national security by admitting tens of thousands of refugees from a war-torn region that is currently the global hotbed for terrorist activity are very real. The U.S. should immediately stop accepting Syrian refugees…

While most of these people are innocent and victims themselves, all it takes is one ISIS terrorist posing as an asylum seeker to come to the United States and inflict harm…

Given that at least one of the bombers involved in the Paris attacks had a Syrian refugee passport, the threat is very real and the risk is high. [BigMedia emphasis]

Tipton’s post incited these ugly comments, which is another reason he should remove it ASAP.

Esther Scaman: Keep up the good work Scott! Keep all those bastards out of our country! I say pack n carry at all times! And for those opposing you I’ll thank you for them since they are like their president putting America in harms way and won’t accept the truth if it slapped them in the face!!!

Patricia R. Lang: Much like it was in Viet Nam, one can not tell the refugee from the terrorist bent on destroying our country and our way of life. It is sad but all Syrian refugees much be stopped from entering the United States of America

Tipton was on KVOR’s Richard Randall show Tuesday, talking about this topic, but he did not refer to the Syrian passport. Another guest on the show, Andy Pico, a GOP Colorado Springs City Councilman, spread the same apparent falsehood that the Paris attacker was a Syrian refugee. (Listen here.)

Pico, along with Tipton, should walk this comment back in some public venue–because it poisons reasonable debate about the refugees. And reasonableness regarding poor Syrian refugees is under severe attack.

A Colorado governor who fought bigotry–and won in the end

(Past is prologue – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Gov. Ralph Carr (R-CO).

Gov. Ralph Carr (R-CO).

During WWII, the U.S. government forced Japanese Americans  from their homes on the West Coast and moved them to interior states. Kansas Gov. Payne Ratner, reflected the opinions of many governors when she responded at the time with, “Japs are not wanted and not welcome in Kansas.”

With at least 22 Republican governors saying they’ll try to keep Syrian refugees out of their states, Denver University’s Seth Masket wrote a blog post yeserday reminding us of this and pointing out that Colorado Governor Ralph Carr “stood out” among his fellow governors at the time and declared that the forced relocation of the Japanese Americans under Executive Order 9066 was unconstitutional. He also welcomed them to Colorado.

Masket didn’t mention Hickenlooper, who has welcomed Syrian refugees, but the loose parallel between the two Colorado governors isn’t lost on anyone reading Masket’s post, titled “The governor who didn’t give in to fear … and paid a price for it.

Masket: “Obviously, the relocation of American citizens of Japanese ancestry is not the same as accepting refugees from another country,” writes Masket, who’s an Associate Professor of Political Science at DU. “But there are clear parallels, particularly in the political incentives governors are confronting. It’s not just that it’s easy to demagogue against foreign invaders; it’s that it’s sometimes politically risky not to. The governors refusing to take in Syrian refugees today may or may not know Ralph Carr’s name, but they have surely imagined his fate, and they don’t want the same for themselves.” [BigMedia emphasis]

Masket cites the Principled Politician, former 9News reporter Adam Schrager’s much-acclaimed biography of Carr. The book shows the respect Carr has now, in hindsight, even though his stance during WWII ended his political career.

(more…)

Stay Classy, Tom Tancredo: Blame “Diversity” For Paris Edition

WEDNESDAY UPDATE: The Denver Post’s Joey Bunch reports today:

Tancredo, a Republican who has long fought for tougher immigration standards, said he was glad to “start a conversation” about the risks of allowing Syrian refugees into the United States.

“I’m referring to the fact that this tragedy (in Paris), this horror, is something you cannot contain to one country is you don’t do something meaningful about immigration — a subject I’ve been involved in for some time — these are the kinds of things that result when you don’t protect your citizens,” he told The Denver Post.

Hickenlooper, a Democrat, was not amused.

“That’s beyond comment,” he said, dropping his shoulders after seeing the meme during a stop at The Post. “Come on.” [Pols emphasis]

—–

As posted to former Congressman, gubernatorial candidate, and most recently “Coffmangate” co-conspirator Tom Tancredo’s Facebook page a short while ago:

tancparis_blur

For the record, this isn’t the original image. We’ve digitally obscured what appear to be a number of dead bodies and streaks of blood in the highly gruesome unedited photo Tancredo posted. The photo appears to be the interior of the Bataclan Theater in Paris, France after the terrorist attacks last Friday. The caption on the photo, “Celebrating Diversity One Massacre At A Time,” may or may not have been added by Tancredo personally, but clearly that’s the message he endorses.

We’re pretty sure the original photo violates Facebook’s terms of service, so we wouldn’t be surprised if it disappears at some point soon. But as much as he frequently embarrasses his erstwhile fellow Republicans, Tancredo has a considerable following on the anti-immigrant right–and his views are representative of enough of the conservative movement that he can’t simply be ignored.

And folks, sometimes that is a damned shameful fact.