Fact Check:  Gardner Opposed Comprehensive Immigration Reform and Backed Government Shutdown

(Check out the update — Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Sen. Cory Gardner.

Sen. Cory Gardner.

Update: After seeing the comments attacking Denver Post editorial page editor Chuck Plunkett, I asked him to comment on my blog post below. I regret not seeking comment from him before posting, but here’s what Plunkett said via email:

Gardner has called for acting on immigration reform. He stood and clapped when Obama asked in is SOTU in 2014 calling for Congress to get it done. He’s for a path to legal status. Yes, he says the border situation has to be secure, and I understand that some use that condition to dodge real reform, but Gardner has for the last two years been more friendly to the issue than others.

I include this piece from Mark Matthew’s in 2014 to show what I mean.

I get it that the use of the word “comprehensive” is too much of a buzzword and it isn’t specific enough. And were I writing specifically about immigration I would have had to have been more detailed. But in the context of a broader editorial about leadership styles, a 10,000-foot view comparison between Gardner’s approach and Cruz/Trump, Gardner is much different. Cruz called for deporting 12 million people in the country illegally, for example.

—————-

In an editorial this weekend holding out U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner as the model of the way forward for the Republican Party, The Denver Post claimed Gardner “supports comprehensive immigration reform.”

In fact, then U.S. Rep. Gardner opposed a 2103 comprehensive immigration reform bill, which died in the Republican-controlled House, after it passed by a bipartisan 68-32 vote in the U.S. Senate.

Gardner said at the time immigration reform has to start with border security, and he called for  “additional personnel on the border,” an “e-verify system,” and “additional security, a fence, you name it, on the border.”

Sounds much like Trump, even though The Post’s editorial, titled “How will the GOP rebuild after Trump,” aimed to contrast Gardner with Trump.

Since then, Gardner has called for immigration reform, but the issues section of his website doesn’t list immigration at all. There’s no indication that his position has changed or that he’s for comprehensive immigration reform, in any real sense of the term.

(more…)

Clarice Navarro “Pre-Buts” Crisanta Duran For Trump

Donald Trump, Rep. Clarice Navarro.

Donald Trump, Rep. Clarice Navarro.

Rep. Crisanta Duran, the Majority Leader of the Democratic-controlled Colorado House, scored a big coup with her scheduled address to the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia this coming Thursday. The Denver Post’s Joey Bunch reports:

[A]lthough she received only a week’s notice to prepare the biggest speech of her political career so far, Duran’s past aligns well with the campaign of presumptive nominee Hillary Clinton.

“It’s an amazing opportunity and an amazing moment, when we’re on the verge of having the first woman president, not because she is a woman but because she has the right vision for America,” Duran said Friday.

Rep. Duran’s speech at the DNC this week is just one of dozens of speeches from Democratic elected officials, activists, and others intended to present Democrats as the more diverse, more mainstream, and above all the more sane and prudent choice for Americans compared to last week’s parade of horrors at the Trump Republican Party’s convention in Cleveland. Duran probably won’t net any more cable news face time in her speaking slot than GOP U.S. Senate candidate Darryl Glenn did, but considering Glenn is a Senate candidate and was speaking much closer to prime time, Duran is still on the receiving end of quite an honor. Also, Duran’s speaking voice doesn’t come across like fingernails of a chalkboard a la former Rep. Libby Szabo’s forgettable RNC speech, so there’s that.

We did want to take note of the “pre-buttal” response to Rep. Duran from what appears to be the Team Trump’s foremost Latina surrogate in Colorado, Rep. Clarice Navarro of Pueblo:

“Latinos across America want the same things I want for my Latino children,” said Navarro, a rising Republican star who introduced Sarah Palin at the Western Conservative Summit on July 1 and has been lauded by the RNC.

“They want a safe America, they want a prosperous America with jobs, they want a smaller government, they want an America that provides a solid education,” Navarro said. “The liberal progressives haven’t done that for Latinos in America for the last eight years, and Rep. Duran, in the majority, hasn’t done it for Colorado.”

First of all, somebody should tell Navarro about the millions of jobs created during the Obama presidency?

But perhaps more important–like having her photo taken with Donald Trump, a photo now certain to be used against her with Pueblo voters–once again the choice of Navarro as the GOP’s countermessenger to Democrats taking the national stage is strategically very questionable to us. However strongly you feel for or against Trump, the simple fact is that Trump is alienating large numbers of Americans, including overwhelming numbers of Latinos. The decision to publicly align with Trump in any even remotely competitive race, especially in a place like Pueblo and southeast Colorado, is fraught with uncertainty that hinges on Trump’s own popularity. If the polls that show Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton in a close race prove accurate, it may not matter as much.

But if Trump gets slaughtered on Election Day, a lot of Republicans who are perceived to have aligned themselves with Trump will go down with him. In that event, Navarro may sorely regret taking on her high-profile Trump surrogate role.

Lame Duck Sessions, the TPP, and Michael Bennet

Even though the 2016 Democratic Party platform will have a weak statement against the Trans-Pacific Partnership, or TPP, I am not convinced that some of our members of Congress, particularly Senator Michael Bennet will heed their advice.  In spite of the fact that virtually every labor and environmental group opposes the deal, President Obama wholeheartedly supports it.  In fact, he’s its biggest promoter and wants its passage in order to solidify his legacy.  So do all of the Republicans who currently control both houses of Congress.  And that’s what makes me think that they will attempt to pass the TPP during a lame duck session after the election.  That way, those who are leaving Congress cannot be held accountable and those who remain will be the furthest away, in time, from their next election.  There will be plenty of time for people to forget.  In Bennet’s case, six years.

Bennet has been a supporter of TPP from the start.  And recently, he was reminded of that fact when he became the only member of the Congressional delegation from Colorado that did not receive the endorsement of the AFL-CIO.

Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet issued surprise rebuke from AFL-CIO

He was also one of only thirteen Democrats in the Senate who voted with Republicans to fast track the bill by voting for the TPA.

http://www.politico.com/story/2015/06/tpa-trade-bill-democrat-vote-tally-119331

Based on what I have seen from Sen. Bennet’s actions in the past, I have to think that he would gladly vote for passage of the TPP during a lame duck session.  I hope he has the good sense to change his position and vote NO if it does come to a vote.  But I doubt that he will unless the folks who sent him to Washington in the first place let him know where they stand.  I stand opposed to the TPP and, since the TPA rules do not allow it to be amended in any way, it should not come to a vote at any time, particularly during a lame duck session.  And if it does, Sen. Bennet needs to vote NO.

If anybody reading this post has a chance to ask Sen. Bennet whether he will vote for or against the TPP during a lame duck session, please let it be known what he says.  I would love to hear that this is a non-issue.  But in the meantime, if you have the same sneaking suspicion that I do, that Sen. Bennet will vote to pass the TPP during a lame ducks session, please take a minute to add your name to Sen. Bernie Sanders petition by following this link.

https://go.berniesanders.com/page/s/tpp-dnc?source=em160629-v2-full

Supreme Court Ruling Blocks Obama Immigration Plan

Former U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.

Former U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.

UPDATE: Congressman Ed Perlmutter (D-Jefferson County) reacts to the news:

“The Supreme Court’s split decision in U.S. v. Texas is incredibly disappointing and leaves millions of individuals and families hanging in the balance. President Obama’s executive actions were an attempt to move the country forward in light of Congressional inaction on comprehensive immigration reform.

“Today’s split decision also reiterates the need for a full 9 Justice Supreme Court. It is time for Senate Republicans to do their job and move forward with hearings and a confirmation vote for Judge Garland.”

—–

As the Associated Press reports:

The Supreme Court deadlocked Thursday on President Barack Obama’s immigration plan that sought to shield millions living in the U.S. illegally from deportation, effectively killing the plan for the rest of his presidency.

The outcome underscores that the direction of U.S. immigration policy will be determined in large part by this fall’s presidential election, a campaign in which immigration already has played an outsized role.

People who would have benefited from Obama’s plan face no imminent threat of deportation because Congress has provided money to deal with only a small percentage of people who live in the country illegally, and the president retains ample discretion to decide whom to deport. But Obama’s effort to expand that protection to many others is effectively stymied.

As you might expect, immigration-reform activists are not particularly pleased with today’s ruling. Here’s what Marilena Hincapie, the executive director of the National Immigration Law Center, had to say in a press release:

“This politically driven lawsuit should never have made it this far: Two of the four Fifth Circuit judges who have considered the case noted rightly that Texas and other states simply did not have standing to bring it. Other state-driven anti-immigrant lawsuits were thrown out on the same grounds.

“With this case, the Court had an opportunity to provide clarity and guidance on executive power and to free up programs that would have tremendous social and economic benefits. Instead, they followed a troubling trend this term of failing to do the job the American people and the Constitution entrusted to them, due in part to the politicized vacancy on the Court.

The stakes are now even greater for the November elections as the next president will have the opportunity to appoint several Supreme Court justices in their first term, shaping our country’s future for decades to come.  Immigrant communities are committed to continuing our fight for our families.”

We will continue to update this story as it progresses today.

Coffman Sponsors “Nightmare” DOA DREAM Act

Rep. Mike Coffman.

Rep. Mike Coffman.

Patricia Mazzei of the Miami Herald reports on new legislation introduced by two vulnerable Republican members of Congress that would, in the extremely unlikely event that it were to pass the GOP-controlled House, protect children of illegal immigrants in the country since 2010 from deportation–similar to the failed DREAM Act.

Miami Republican Rep. Carlos Curbelo on Tuesday filed legislation that would allow people brought into the U.S. illegally as children before 2010 to remain in the country — a new version of the so-called DREAM Act.

Under the proposed law, immigrants who entered the U.S. illegally before Jan. 1, 2010, and were 16 years old or younger, could follow a path to U.S. citizenship.

The “Recognizing American Children Act” would offer high school graduates without a serious criminal record or dependence on public assistance conditional immigration status for five years. During that time, they could follow one of three ways to remain in the country permanently. If they receive a higher-education degree, serve in the military or remain employed, they could apply for permanent residency — and, later, citizenship. Those enlisted in the military would get an immediate chance at naturalization…

Who’s the other primary sponsor of this bill, you ask?

Curbelo filed the legislation with a fellow Republican, Rep. Mike Coffman of Colorado. Both represent two of the most competitive swing districts in the country, in states with a significant proportion of Hispanic voters. Coffman has received money from Curbelo’s political committee, What a Country PAC, intended to support Republican members of Congress who like Curbelo back immigration reform. Curbelo’s Westchester-to-Key West district leans in Democrats’ favor.

That’s right, folks! Rep. Mike Coffman, once the heir to anti-immigrant firebrand Tom Tancredo’s congressional district now representing a diverse and competitive district centered on Aurora, is co-sponsoring this new version of the DREAM Act along with another vulnerable Republican in a swing district. With that said, there are some important differences between Rep. Carlos Curbelo and Coffman–such as that Curbelo has consistently supported the DREAM Act, whereas Coffman once said “the DREAM Act will be a nightmare for the American people.”

In the past, we’ve seen Coffman’s gestures toward immigration reform lavishly rewarded by immigrant rights groups. This time, however, the praise is notably absent:

(more…)

Sierra Club Endorses Bennet, Because Obviously

Sen. Michael Bennet at Chimney Rock National Monument.

Sen. Michael Bennet at Chimney Rock National Monument.

A press release from the Sierra Club this morning announces an endorsement that’s both unsurprising and significant:

Today, the Sierra Club announced its endorsement of Colorado Senator Michael Bennet for re-election.

“The Sierra Club is proud to endorse Senator Bennet for re-election,” said Sierra Club’s Executive Director Michael Brune. “For the past seven years, the Senator has worked tirelessly to protect America’s treasured public lands, expand our rapidly growing clean energy economy, and tackle the threat of climate change. We look forward to continuing our partnership with Senator Bennet to preserve places like Camp Hale, transition to clean, renewable energy, and prevent further climate disruption.”

Since taking office, Senator Bennet has been a vocal advocate for tackling climate change head-on, protecting our public lands and waterways, and increasing clean energy technology like wind and solar.

“The Sierra Club has been a crucial partner on our work to protect natural treasures like Browns Canyon, Hermosa Creek and Chimney Rock, as well as helping to grow our state’s renewable energy economy,” said Senator Michael Bennet. “Coloradans understand the importance of clean air, clean water and clean energy to our everyday lives and environment. Together, we’ll win in November and keep working on collaborative solutions to protect Colorado and our planet for future generations.”

As a comparatively moderate Democrat, support from trusted conservation organizations like the Sierra Club greatly helps Sen. Michael Bennet shore up support within the Democrat base. It’s not like those voters would be likely to support any of the Republican primary contenders, but lingering bad feelings from Bennet’s primary victory in 2010–and of course Bennet’s middle-road voting record–could depress enthusiasm.

Between support from major players that voters recognize and the specter of any of the Republican alternatives, we’d guess that Bennet’s “base problems” won’t be much of a problem by the fall.

Bennet Joins Post-Orlando Gun Safety Filibuster


As the Colorado Independent’s Corey Hutchins reports, Colorado’s senior U.S. Senator Michael Bennet joined with fellow Democrats this week in a day-long filibuster to call attention to the need for enhanced gun safety legislation following last weekend’s terrorist attack on a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida:

Democratic U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet, up for re-election in Colorado this fall, joined 30 of his Democratic colleagues in D.C. for a filibuster about gun laws [Wednesday] following the latest massacre, this time in Orlando, which left a bloody mark as the worst single-gunman mass shooting in U.S. history…

When Bennet took the floor, he talked about the difference between the ways Colorado lawmakers and Congress have reacted to gun violence. Colorado has passed new laws; Congress has not.

“Unlike Washington, in Colorado our legislators actually rose to the occasion to take some tough decisions … they got together and they actually strengthened our background check system. Colorado’s legislature closed the gun show loophole and the internet loophole and required a background check for every gun sale,” Bennet said.

The Senator then ran down the list of what that has meant for Colorado in practice within the past year.

“I want to be precise about this,” he said, noting that in 2015 background checks had blocked 7,714 people from buying guns, a figure that made up about 2 percent of the applications for firearms purchases.

Those within that 2 percent included murderers, rapists, domestic abusers and kidnappers who were denied guns because of the new rules, Bennet said.

“Is there anyone who is going to come to the floor of the United States Senate and say that Colorado is worse off because we’ve kept guns out of the hands of murderers or kidnappers or rapists?” he asked. “This isn’t mythical. This is the actual fact of what’s going on in a Western state that has background checks.” [Pols emphasis]

Bennet’s defense of Colorado’s landmark gun laws is in fact very important to the national debate now taking place over strengthening federal gun safety laws. One of the most critical reforms sought nationally has been standard practice in Colorado in part since 2000 and fully since 2013: universal background checks, both on gun purchases made at gun shows (2000’s post-Columbine Amendment 22) and on most private transfers of guns outside immediate family members (2013’s House Bill 1229).

Colorado’s experience with closing loopholes that allowed weapons to be purchased without a background check has shown that these are workable policies that do result in thousands of gun sales to criminals being stopped–both outright denied purchases, as well as the deterrent effect of having the policy in place. That a Western state like Colorado with its long tradition of gun ownership can successfully implement strict background checks on gun sales shows it can be done nationally–neutralizing a key argument of the gun lobby against them. Politically, Colorado is increasingly a model for passing gun safety legislation and then successfully weathering fierce political reprisals from gun rights zealots. After the high water mark of the 2013 recall elections, the new laws have notably failed to become the cautionary tale the gun lobby wanted them to be.

As desperate as the gun lobby was to stop Colorado’s push to tighten gun laws after the Aurora theater massacre, or failing that to at least contain their spread by exacting a heavy and lasting political toll, their failure is evident with each horrific killing spree. At least for a little while, the conversation inevitably comes back to the easy availability of military weapons that can cut down dozens of people effortlessly. Colorado didn’t want to take the lead on gun safety, it was a responsibility placed on our state by events no one would ever wish for.

When the rest of America is ready, Colorado will still be the model.

Bernie Sanders to Supporters: Run for Office, Keep Progressive Agenda Alive

On June 16, 2016, Democratic Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders  spoke to  his supporters for 25 minutes. Since I have been and am a supporter, I signed up, and took notes on the speech, the important points of which are summarized below. A video link is also included at the bottom of the page.

Screenshot of Bernie Sanders

Bernie Sanders speech to supporters, screenshot 6/16/16

Most of Bernie’s speech was a list of what progressive Democrats want and fought for, what we want our country to be and to do. As such, there are few surprises in the list.These are not “demands”, as we used to say in the 70s. These are the prerequisites for social and economic justice.

I didn’t expect, but was delighted by, Bernie’s call for his supporters to run for local political office: school boards, county commissioners, entry-level offices, however we can get our feet in the door. I applaud this and agree strongly. That is what it will take for real change. From the bottom up -that’s how change happens. As expected, Sanders called for the party to unify to defeat Donald Trump. He has pledged to support this effort, and will do so.

UPDATE: 6700 people responded to Bernie’s call for public service. Per Berniesanders.com, “The 6,685 supporters who expressed interest in running cover 51 percent of state house districts, 69 percent of state senate districts and every congressional district in the country.”

He called for his 1900 delegates to come in to the convention to create the most progressive platform in Democratic history, and to act on it. He called for a 50 state strategy – decrying the lack of support for Democratic candidates,  allowing right wingers to take red state governments unopposed.

He called for the Democratic National Committee to open its doors, welcome young people and working people. He called for the DNC to embrace a $15 / hour wage. He called for a party which has “the guts” to take on the pharmaceutical and fossil fuel industries. He called for stopping the  Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) –  it should not come to a vote during a lame duck session of Congress, he said. These are positions which sharply differentiate his policies from those of Hillary Clinton.

What Bernie did not say was more surprising:

  • He did not “concede” defeat in the primary election, although that was implied.
  • He did not endorse Hillary Clinton’s candidacy, although he emphasized that they have much more in common than not.
  • He included very little on foreign policy – only in points 29 and 30 below did he allude to the Department of Defense and wars abroad, and only to emphasize cutting waste in the DoD, and not to spend young people’s lives in unnecessary wars. This was primarily a domestic policy speech.
  • He didn’t talk about the drug war or marijuana legalization, although he criticized the prison industry and school-to-prison pipeline in point 27.
  • He did not call for an end to superdelegates, lobbyist contributions to the DNC. He did not say what his negotiations with rules committee would be. He did not mention today’s big news that unpopular chairwomanDebbie Wasserman Schultz is stepping aside as party chair to allow Brandon Davis to take over operations.
  • He did not mention the numerous allegations of fraud and voter suppression in the Democratic primary.

 

Here’s what the man did say:
1.    The revolution continues – like every movement for social change, civil rights, etc.
2.    In every state, we won the overwhelming majority of those under 45.
3.    We are mainstream, not a fringe movement.  Numbers. 12 million votes, 22 states, Stats on contributions, 75 million phone calls, 5 million doors, 740,000 meetings, etc. Showed that we could run a national campaign without big money contributions. Bulk of contributions came from low income and working people.
4.    In every state, we took on the entire political establishment. Senators, Reps, Governors, elected officials.
5.   6:35  This campaign has never been about any single candidate .
6.    It’s about ending income inequality. It’s about ending corrupt campaign finance by corporations. Creating an economy for all of us, not just the 1%.
7.    Ending status quo: Native American reservation low life expectancy, lower than 3rd world countries. Millions of Americans dying at a younger age than their parents: suicide, drugs, alcohol, highest rate of childhood poverty of any industrialized country on earth. Ending the disgrace, undocumented people exploited on their jobs.
8.    Tens of thousands of Americans dying every year from preventable diseases, because lack health insurance, high deductibles, costly drugs.
9.    Young single mom in Nevada in tears, asking on $10/hr, How can we make it ? Millions like her.
10.    Mom in Flint, Mich. Excessive lead in water, stunted intellectual development of her child. Thousands of CA homes can’t drink tap water.
11.    Homelessness is increasing.  veterans in streets – lack of affordable housing.
12.    Corporations avoid paying a nickel in Federal taxes, stash in tax havens.
13.    6:40 Priority this year is defeating Donald Trump. Makes bigotry the cornerstone of his campaign.  Trump wants to give hundreds of B of $ in tax breaks to very rich, is a climate change denier.
14.    Major political task: Defeat Trump, badly. My role in that process will begin soon. But can’t be our only goal. Must continue grassroots  movement.
15.    Must take our energy in to the Dem convention in Philly with >1900 delegates. I met with Sec. Clinton.
16.    No secret HRC and I have strong disagreements, on important issues but agree on others.
17.    I will make sure that your voices are heard. Democrats will pass the most progressive platform in its history and that we actually fight for that agenda.
18.    I look forward to working with Sec. Clinton to form aparty that has the guts to take on the Pharma, Fossil Fuel industries, others.
19.    Dem party must support raising Fed. minimum wage to $15 / hr.  women .79 / vs men $1. Women must have right to control own bodies. Protect right to gay marriage.
20.    As Orlando has made clear, Ban sale and distribution of assault weapons, gun show loophole, and have instant background checks.
21.    Stop the TPP, must not come to the floor in a lame duck session.
22.    Expand Social security, not cut it.
23.    Greed, recklessness of Wall st must end. Pass a modern Glass Steagal. No more “too big to fail”.
24.    Aggressively combat climate change, impose a tax on carbon. Must protect our water supply by banning fracking.
25.    To compete effectively globally, Make public colleges tuition free reduce student debt.
26.    Join rest of industrialized world – Health care a right, not a privilege
27.    Stop incarcerating more people than any other country – Rein in prison industry, criminal justice reform.
28.    Comprehensive immigration reform for 11 M undocumented people.
29.    Cut waste in every department including Department of Defense.
30.    Can’t keep throwing young people into perpetual unnecessary wars.
31.    6:47 Revolution means more than Fight for our ideals, defeat D Trump. At every level continue to fight for our nation to be just. Current DNC leadership has turned its back on dozens of states, like red states, allowed right wing to run unopposed, we need a 50 state strategy. Must provide resources to ignored and poor states.
32.    Leadership, DNC must open its doors, welcome working people and young people. That is the energy we need to transform the Democratic party and our country. Cold hard fact. Since 2009, some 900 legislative seats have been lost to Republicans.  We must Start engaging at local and state level in unprecedented way.
33.    Young people deeply concerned about country and community. Start running for office! School boards, commissioners, whatever! Be prepared to engage at that level.
34.    6:50 With energy and enthusiasm our campaign has shown, we can win significant numbers of offices at down ticket level. We need new blood. You are that new blood.
35.    Government is not the enemy.(what Republicans say). I disagree. Government must protect us and our planet. But we need to attract dedicated people from all walks of life to run for office.
36.    Tens of thousands of new Dr.s, medical personnel, where people lack care.
37.    We need child care workers, teachers.
38.    We need scientists, engineers, entrepeneurs to work for renewables, efficient and cost effective as possible. Construction.
39.    Business people who respect employees and environment.
40.    Conclude: we have begun the long and arduous process of transforming America. My hope is that when historians look back and find when we began reversing the trend towards oligarchy. They see that the political revolution began in 2016. 6:53. Dark screen.

Version 1 of this diary posted at caucus99percent.com

Video available here and here

Full transcript of Sanders’ speech from Burlington Free Press

To recruit candidates, go to berniesanders.com/win

Blaha Trumps Trump

UPDATE #2: Backpedal time!

We do love the media attention, but Robert has never supported a ban on Muslims. He supports going “beyond” Mr. Trump’s statements, which singles out Muslims, to instead equally vetting all factors that could present a threat to American lives…

So, Blaha said he wants to “go beyond just Muslims.” That statement would certainly appear to include Muslims. But definitely, tell every reporter in America that what they can plainly see isn’t true. That approach worked out smashingly for Jon Keyser.

Really, how hard is it to choke out the words “I misspoke?”

—–

UPDATE: The Hill’s Lisa Hagen:

A Republican Colorado Senate candidate said this week that he wants to take Donald Trump’s proposal to ban Muslims from entering the United States a step further…

Blaha is part of a crowded GOP field in the June 28 primary to try and unseat Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.). The seat is one of the few GOP targets this cycle as Republicans seek to hold onto their slim Senate majority.

Democrats blasted Blaha’s remarks for taking Trump’s proposal to the “next level.”

“We already knew Robert Blaha was unabashed in his extreme policy positions, but saying banning Muslims from entering the country isn’t taking it far enough is taking extreme to the next level,” Colorado Democratic Party spokesman Chris Meagher said in a statement. “Instead of focusing on real policy solutions, Blaha is adding to the outlandish, offensive, prejudiced rhetoric that is antithetical to our values as a nation.”

—–

Robert Blaha.

Robert Blaha.

Buzzfeed picked up a gem of a tirade from Robert “Bla-ha!” Blaha, a Colorado Republican U.S. Senate primary candidate fighting for relevance in a 5-man race:

Robert Blaha, a Republican primary candidate in Colorado’s Senate race, said on Tuesday that Donald Trump’s proposed ban on Muslims entering the country doesn’t go far enough.

“I want to go beyond just Muslims,” Blaha said at a GOP meeting in Fremont County. “And I’ll tell you why. The issue is not—the issue is partially a religious issue, but the real issue there is—the real issue is security. The real issue is we do not know who these people are. We don’t know where they’re coming from, we don’t know whether a terrorist state. We do not have the ability as a government right now to vet these people…”

“Until we can properly vet people and know who they are and know where they’re coming from and know what their belief structures are they’re coming out of, we cannot afford to take that risk,” he said.

When Blaha says we “can’t vet these people,” we have to assume he just hasn’t heard about all the ways we do “vet these people” right now. We assume Blaha is principally concerned with refugees like other Republicans who find political advantage in demagoguing this stuff, but the fact is, refugees are much more thoroughly screened than other kinds of visitors to the United States–like tourists. Tourists from abroad constitute a large percentage of the 75 million people who traveled to the United States last year from abroad, and while they’re here they contribute billions of dollars to the U.S. economy.

Including right here in the year-round alpine playground of Colorado. Is that what Blaha is trying to do? To hurt Colorado’s tourism economy?

Donald Trump is doing enough to damage America’s image in the world, to include desirability as a vacation destination, with his xenophobic scare tactics. For Colorado’s sake, it would be nice if our Republican U.S. Senate candidates weren’t doing their best to ensure our state has the same problem.

Michael Bennet is Exactly Who You Thought He Was

Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO)

Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO)

Colorado Republicans have endured weeks upon weeks (upon weeks) of positively brutal headlines as the race for the Republican Senate nomination enters its final month, so we can understand why some in the GOP would be overjoyed to come across some negative news about Democratic incumbent Sen. Michael Bennet.

Before we get to bursting the GOP’s bubble on this particular piece of Bennet news, let us pause to allow our Republican friends to bask in the dim glow of this story from the Denver Post:

The Colorado AFL-CIO dealt a surprising rebuke to U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet over the weekend when the union federation declined to endorse the Democratic incumbent in his bid for re-election.

Bennet was the only Democratic lawmaker in Colorado’s congressional delegation who failed to gain the support of the state’s AFL-CIO chapter…

…Sam Gilchrist, executive director of the Colorado AFL-CIO, said the vote on Bennet was close, but that he fell short of the required two-thirds majority needed for an endorsement because too many union members were unhappy with Bennet’s support of a measure last year that gives the White House more power to cut international trade deals.

That authority is broadly seen as a pathway for the Obama administration to approve a new agreement called the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which would ease trade barriers among 12 Pacific Rim countries, from the U.S. and Canada to Japan and Chile.

While the Colorado AFL-CIO declined to endorse Bennet’s re-election campaign because of the Senator’s perceived support of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, Bennet hasn’t exactly been bullish on the idea, either. As the Colorado Independent reports:

Bennet has not yet taken a public position on TPP.

But Bennet voted on a measure giving Obama the authority to “fast track” negotiations for it and other global trade agreements, and Bennet has drawn fire from the AFL-CIO for his stance on trade before. Democratic presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders have come out against TPP.

Failing to lock up the endorsement of the Colorado AFL-CIO is certainly not a positive development for Bennet, but it’s not nearly as problematic for 2016 as Republicans would like you to believe. Bennet is a moderate Democrat who goes about his business on Capitol Hill as a moderate Democrat would be expected to act. Bennet’s moderate credentials may not make him beloved by the liberal Democrats in Colorado, but he is who he is. Maintaining his centrist approach to the Senate is a big part of the reason why he is widely favored to win re-election this fall.

Bennet may not get the official support of the Colorado AFL-CIO, but he should have plenty of backing from other labor groups who prefer Bennet over any of his Republicans challengers. Concerns about the TPP issue as a political millstone are overblown as well; you may recall that Bennet supported the Keystone XL oil pipeline in 2015, yet still received the endorsement of prominent environmental groups such as the League of Conservation Voters and the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC).

The very fact that the AFL-CIO felt comfortable enough to not support Bennet also bodes well for progressive politics in Colorado. The AFL-CIO made its point with Bennet; the message was received and understood, but not at the expense of mortally wounding the only swing-state incumbent Democratic Senator up for re-election this year.

Inside Mike Coffman’s Cognitively Dissonant “Evolution”

dreamactcoffman

Rep. Mike Coffman (R).

Rep. Mike Coffman (R).

We’ve been very excited about the work done over at Denver7’s Politifact Colorado project, working with the Pulitzer Prize-winning national Politifact to provide some desperately-needed critical thinking to the wild claims tossed back and forth by our local crop of prevaricating politicians. It’s yet more evidence of our bellwether swing-state status to see high-profile outfits like Politifact shining a light on Colorado politics.

With that said, it was inevitable that veteran reporter Alan Gathright at Politifact Colorado would write something we need to take issue with at some point. That happened last week with the publication of their latest fact check, “Is Rep. Mike Coffman ‘with Trump’? Coffman says not yet.” This fact check addresses the question of Rep. Mike Coffman’s support for presumptive GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump, both formally and essentially by supporting fundamentally similar positions on issues like immigration reform.

Within this broad question lies some stuff we need to unpack.

Coffman certainly is hedging on his campaign’s previous statement that he would support the GOP nominee, who is now almost certainly Trump.

But do the two candidates line up issue-wise?

The Colorado’s Voice news release pointed to Coffman’s position on immigration legislation. “Colorado already knows Coffman supports the Trump agenda on immigration. He voted … multiple times to deport DREAMers by ending the DACA program. He opposes DAPA, the policy that offers a modest but critical step forward for the parents of U.S. citizens.”

…Here, too, Coffman’s position isn’t cut and dried.

As Gathright explains, Coffman voted against the 2010 DREAM Act, famously declaring “The Dream Act will be a nightmare for the American people.” When Coffman originally ran for Congress, Colorado’s Sixth Congressional District was composed of arguably the most far-right electorate in the state of Colorado, and had repeatedly elected Tom Tancredo to represent them despite his status as a national icon of the nativist anti-immigrant neo-Confederate (you name it, literally) movement.

And then something happened in 2011. We’ve talked about it in this space over and over. And frankly, the whole question of whether Coffman can be accurately said to be “not with Trump,” or anything other than the far-right successor to Tancredo’s extremism, hinges on whether you believe what happened after 2011 was legitimate.

But Coffman’s immigration positions softened in 2011, when his district was redrawn and its population became 20 percent Hispanic. He began taking Spanish lessons to better communicate with his constituents, and in January 2013, he introduced the Military Enlistment Opportunity Act, which sought to provide immigrant children an opportunity to serve in the U.S. military and gain a path to citizenship…

“There’s a narrative out there about Republicans being not just anti-illegal immigrant, but anti-immigrant,” Coffman told the Wall Street Journal in January. “It was very important to me to break the narrative.”

There is no question that redistricting in 2011, which reshaped Coffman’s political universe from Tancredo’s old stomping ground to the enormous cultural and economic diversity of Aurora, presented Coffman with the greatest crisis of his long political career. But it’s important to remember that Coffman did not at first realize how this new electorate would respond to the kind of rhetoric that came so easily before. In 2012, the same year Coffman was caught on camera claiming President Barack Obama “is not an American,” Coffman very nearly lost his seat to an underfunded Democratic opponent.

Since that time, it’s true that Coffman has made many superficial gestures to his newly diverse constituency, including taking some lessons in Spanish so as to debate opponents in the language. But his votes and statements on immigration reform have been far from consistent. His support for allowing DREAMer students to join the military is offset by other votes against the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program as a whole. Immigration reform advocates are looking for votes, not accountability, so any time they get the smallest concession from a Republican, they are of course obliged to publicly rejoice.

Bottom line: notwithstanding the backpedaled statement from Coffman’s spokesperson, Politifact’s contention that it’s wrong to say Coffman is “with Trump” on the issues rests more or less entirely on the contention that “the congressman’s views have moderated.” But Coffman’s detractors say the evidence for that is inconsistent at best, and could be reasonably assessed as a deceptive campaign to feign support for reform without offending the Republican base. And even when Coffman does make a token vote in favor of sensible immigration policy, the Republican leadership in the House he helps keep in power ensures that nothing remotely close to what the immigration reform movement wants will ever happen.

Respectfully submitted as grist for the fact-checking mill.

Sen. Michael Bennet Increasingly Favored to Win Re-Election

Political pundits are bullish on Bennet.

Political pundits are bullish on Bennet.

This isn’t a huge surprise given the Raging Outhouse Fire that is the Republican field for U.S. Senate at the moment, but it’s noteworthy nevertheless.

As Roll Call reports:

…none of the GOP candidates have demonstrated the ability to put together a campaign strong enough to knock off an incumbent in a state that looks likely to go heavily for Hillary Clinton against Donald Trump.

The race certainly isn’t over and Republicans claim Bennet’s numbers are soft. But the senator’s advantage is significant and it’s hard to see how the GOP nominee will overperform Trump enough to win. We’re changing our rating from Lean Democratic to Democrat Favored. [Pols emphasis]

Unless Republicans can gain some ground in Colorado, Minority Leader Harry Reid’s open seat in Nevada will be Republicans’ lone takeover target in the Senate. And that race could be a struggle as Democrats increase their edge in voter registration.

 

Sabato: Colorado Senate Race Moves to “Likely Democratic”

Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Denver)

Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Denver)

Well-known political pundit Larry J. Sabato has updated his regular “Crystal Ball” forecast of U.S. Senate and Gubernatorial races throughout the country, and there’s a significant change in Colorado. From the Center for Politics:

Colorado: Coming into the 2016 cycle, it was pretty clear that the Republicans would largely be on the defensive. Only two Democratic-held seats stood out as ones the Republicans could hope to win, one of which was Colorado (with the other being Nevada, now an open seat on account of Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid’s retirement). Sen. Michael Bennet (D) has proven to be more resilient than some might have thought…

…At the outset of this cycle, Bennet appeared a slight favorite to start, but now it looks as if he may hold a stronger edge. Bigger-name GOP politicians — including Rep. Mike Coffman (R), Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman (R), and Rep. Scott Tipton (R) — declined to challenge Bennet in a presidential cycle. Instead, the Republican field is a logjam of double-digit proportions, though only five candidates officially filed petitions to get on the primary ballot. Other candidates will try to get on the primary ballot by getting at least 30% of the vote at this weekend’s state Republican convention. Whoever wins the GOP nomination on June 28 will have a serious financial deficit to overcome as Bennet had $6.7 million in the bank at the end of 2015. More importantly, just as the circumstances at the presidential level have weakened the ratings for a number of GOP Senate incumbents, they have improved Bennet’s odds as the only potentially vulnerable Democratic Senate incumbent. The Centennial State race shifts from Leans Democratic to Likely Democratic.

Quite frankly, this change isn’t a huge surprise. The Republican Senate field is crowded with seriously-flawed candidates no matter how you slice it. We’re still waiting to hear about any Q1 fundraising numbers from the candidates, and rumor has it that every major GOP candidate has been careful in recent weeks to keep the expectations bar set very low in terms of money raised in the last full quarter before the June 28th Primary.

Unless at least one of the GOP candidates are able to come up with a strong fundraising haul — or anything, really, that could begin to separate one candidate from the rest of the Republican field — the trend lines on Colorado’s Senate race are likely to continue moving in favor of incumbent Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Denver).

Woods joins Trump and Coffman in opposing citizenship for undocumented immigrants born in the U.S.

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Donald Trump, Sen. Laura Woods.

Donald Trump, Sen. Laura Woods.

Woods, who has said Trump is her second favorite presidential candidate, “liked” a Facebok post, sponsored by Numbers USA, which read:

LIKE if you agree with Trump. Illegal aliens should not be awarded birthright citizenship!

A graphic shows a photo of Trump with the text, “End Birthright Citizenship.”

Trump’s immigration platform also calls for the rounding up and deportation of  America’s estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants to their country of origin. From there, they’d be free to apply to become U.S. citizens.

Woods’ office did not immediately return a call for comment on whether she agrees with Trump’s immigration policy in its entirety–or whether she’d want to rescind citizenship from millions of immigratns who’ve become U.S. citizens under America’s birthright-citizenship law.

Most other Colorado politicians have been silent on birthright citizenship, but as recently as 2013, Rep. Mike Coffman confirmed his opposition to the policy, in an interview with The Denver Post, saying “sure” he’d like to abolish birthright citizenship.

Both Woods and Coffman represent swing districts where anti-immigration positions could turn off immigrant voters. About 20 percent of Coffman’s district is Latino.

Woods won her Westminster seat by about 650 votes in 2014, while Coffman has been seen as vulnerable since his district was re-drawn after the 2010 census. Coffman narrowly defeated a Democrat in 2012 and won by a larger margin in 2014.

Racist or Liar? Progressives Condemn Keyser/Tancredo Unholy Alliance

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

POLS UPDATE: As the Denver Post’s Mark Matthews reports, Tom Tancredo isn’t the only endorsement Jon Keyser announced today, but it’s the one everybody is talking about:

[T]he most intriguing of the bunch is the thumbs-up from Tancredo, the on-again, off-again Republican who ran an insurgent race for president long before Donald Trump tried it.

Said Tancredo in a statement released by the Keyser campaign: “Jon brings an unparalleled level of national security experience to this race and I have no doubt he will secure our southern border and bring Colorado common sense to Washington, D.C.”

Tancredo did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment, though it’s not surprising that he mentioned immigration in his statement — as that issue was Tancredo’s often-controversial calling card during his political career.

—–

Tom Tancredo.

Tom Tancredo.

After the announcement this morning that former state Rep. Jon Keyser has accepted the endorsement of Colorado’s foremost anti-immigrant radical politician Tom Tancredo, ProgressNow Colorado, the state’s largest online progressive advocacy organization, condemned Keyser joining forces with a national symbol of racism to win right-wing primary voters.

“Tom Tancredo is one of America’s most notorious anti-immigrant demagogues, and it is outrageous that Jon Keyser has joined forces with him to further his political career,” said ProgressNow Colorado political director Alan Franklin. “Tom Tancredo’s racism has no place in any responsible political campaign, especially with the hate-filled rhetoric we’re seeing around the country. But not only did Keyser welcome Tancredo’s endorsement, Keyser actually sent out quotes from Tancredo in a press release celebrating his support.”

“Does Jon Keyser agree with Tancredo that we should launch a nuclear attack against the Muslim holy cities of Mecca and Medina?” Asked Franklin. “Does Keyser agree with Tancredo that Miami is a ‘Third World country?’ Does Keyser support Tancredo’s longstanding ties to racist groups like the League of the South? Does Keyser endorse the Republican Party’s ‘palace coup’ last year that Tancredo participated in?”

“For Jon Keyser to celebrate the support of a racist demagogue like Tom Tancredo raises very serious questions about Keyser’s integrity,” said Franklin. “Either Keyser shares Tancredo’s racism, or he is a liar willing to say anything to win an election.”