Expert Analysis: What Happened in Colorado in 2014?

The good folks at Hilltop Public Solutions, one of the leading Democratic-aligned political consultant firms in Colorado with offices across the nation, have put together a fascinating presentation analyzing the results of the 2014 elections in Colorado. We had the opportunity to view their presentation this week, and obtained permission to use their slides and data in a post. We doubt we can explain in a blog post as well as Craig Hughes and team can tell the story, but we'll try to give readers a sense of their conclusions.

Hilltop-Public-Solutions-2014-Election-Results-Analysis-2

This slide dispels one of the major misconceptions about the 2014 elections. The fact is, Democrats turned out the votes they believed were necessary to win in Colorado, and did so in greater numbers than they had in the last midterm election in 2010. What Democrats didn't count on was a national political climate that Colorado has slowly caught up with in the years since President Barack Obama's election. In 2010, Democrat Michael Bennet won substantially more right-leaning independents and even Republican votes than Mark Udall did in 2014. Combine that with the sudden erosion of support for Democrats in formerly reliable blue areas of the state–Pueblo and Adams County–and you can account for much of the difference between Bennet's narrow win and Udall's narrow defeat.

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What you can see in these slides is analysis of the "surge" vote in 2014 midterms–voters who did not vote in the last 2010 midterms elections but did this year. As you can see, Democrats performed well among these lower-propensity voters, and it wasn't really what you'd call a "Republican wave" at all. But it wasn't enough to overcome the large Republican base in Colorado, which was much more unified behind Cory Gardner than the GOP was united behind Ken Buck in 2010.

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Some reporters frame Coffman vote as pro-immigrant, when it wasn’t

(Words mean things - Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Rep. Steve King (R-IA) and Rep. Mike Coffman (left).

Rep. Steve King (R-IA) and Rep. Mike Coffman (left).

Rep. Mike Coffman got a lot of credit from Denver media earlier this month when he voted against blocking Obama's executive order allowing millions of immigrants with family ties in American to temporarily avoid deportation.

The Associated Press, for example, reported Dec. 4 that "Mike Coffman, who has also tacked to the center on immigration, was one of only seven House Republicans to vote to uphold Obama's order from last month." And the Durango Herald offered similar reporting.

But Coffman made it clear in a statement after the vote that he thought Obama's executive order was unconstitutional, and that he was only voting against the legislation because, if passed, the bill would deceive Americans into believing Congress had but a check on Obama's "overreach."

So he managed to cast a pro-immigrant vote, even though he maintained and reiterated his anti-immigrant position in opposition to Obama's initiative.

Some news outlets handled Coffman's duplicity better than the AP did. The Denver Post and Fox 31 Denver, for example, ran Coffman's entire statement, at least giving readers the chance to scratch their heads and wonder about it.

The Post's Nancy Lofholm reported Coffman's vote against blocking Obama's program, but informed readers:

[I]n a statement on his nay vote on the Yoho bill, Coffman made clear his vote had nothing to do with support for Obama's executive orders.

"I voted against H.R. 5797 because, although I strongly believe it is unconstitutional to have immigration policy made through executive orders and without consent of Congress, this legislation will only mislead the American people into believing that we are taking care of the problem when the only way to address President Obama's overreach is either through the U.S. Supreme Court or through the appropriations process," Coffman's statement read

I'm hoping more reporters take notice next time, if Coffman's position on a bill runs counter to his actual vote on it.

Senate Passes “CRomnibus,” Another Tea Party Tantrum Backfires

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas).

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas).

The Hill reports on somewhat unexpected passage last night in the U.S. Senate of the $1.1 trillion "CRomnibus" spending deal, which funds most of the federal government through next September but contains provisions upsetting to both the left and right:

The debate exposed divisions within the Democratic and Republican caucuses on both sides of the Capitol and sets the stage for what could be a year of internecine squabbling in 2015. 

Twenty-one Senate Democrats voted against the bill while 24 Republicans voted for it, including every member of the Senate GOP leadership.

Democratic opponents included several senators rumored to have presidential ambitions such as Elizabeth Warren (Mass.), Cory Booker (N.J.), Amy Klobuchar (Minn.) and Kirsten Gillibrand (N.Y.)…

As Politico reports, the vote on the spending bill yesterday came after "Tea Party" Sens. Ted Cruz and Mike Lee demanded the Senate remain in session this weekend to vote against President Barack Obama's recent immigration executive order–this after Senate leadership had agreed to wait until this week to finish debating the divisive "CRomnibus" spending bill. Seeing an opening, Sen. Harry Reid took advantage of the tactical mistake to pass "CRomnibus," and also move ahead on another major Democratic priority: confirming Obama's many stalled nominees.

In the end the Senate passed the $1.1 trillion spending bill, 56-40, but not before Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid was able to begin moving forward on 24 of the president’s nominations, including controversial figures like Vivek Murthy to be the new surgeon general, White House adviser Tony Blinken to be the deputy secretary of State and Sarah Saldana to head Immigration and Customs enforcement and a dozen federal judges to lifetime appointments.

Republicans fought Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid for months to block these nominees from moving forward and many believed as late as Friday that they’d won as the holidays approached. But when Sens. Ted Cruz and Mike Lee took to the floor on Friday night to call for a vote on the president’s executive action on immigration and demand their colleagues stay through the weekend to do so rather than adjourn until Monday, they allowed Reid to exploit a procedural quirk and get the nominations rolling…

Had Cruz and Lee agreed to Reid and McConnell’s deal, the conservatives could have received the same constitutional point of order vote on Monday, though they attracted extra attention from both their colleagues and political watchers by forcing the Saturday session. But the point of order was defeated, so the result was the same: The omnibus was sent to the president without defunding the immigration order — and Obama appears set to win quicker approval of his nominations.

With Obama, Reid, and Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell all in support of the spending package, its passage in the Senate was always assured, despite the anger over the bill's campaign finance, banking rule, and environmental protection rollbacks from the left in both the House and Senate. Those objections are much more legitimately aggrieving to progressives than anything the right has been asked to swallow in this spending deal. Still, Cruz and Lee's antics allowed Reid to get the jump on Republicans on the issue of Obama's stalled nominees, which could in the long run prove the bigger win.

Both Colorado Sens. Mark Udall and Michael Bennet voted to approve "CRomnibus" yesterday, again expected though it won't please liberals who followed the rancorous debate in the House last week and are aware of the bill's many compromises. But especially in the larger context of Reid moving the President's stalled nominees, that vote can now be plausibly chalked up as a win for Obama and Democrats–which seems to be the prevalent media spin today. Looking ahead, we do think this debate was good for progressive Senate leaders with higher career aspirations who opposed it, foremost Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts.

But the big loser here is the Tea Party, whose pointless sound and fury has once again backfired.

So Long, Landrieu–2014′s Last Senate Race Ends Predictably

Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA).

Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA).

CNN:

Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu lost her Senate runoff race Saturday night, felled by the red tide that's swept the South and ties to an unpopular President that she couldn't shake.

CNN called the race for her Republican opponent Rep. Bill Cassidy a little over a half hour after the polls closed. Republicans picked up nine Senate seats this election cycle and will have control of 54 seats in the chamber next year.

Once seen as Democrats' strongest incumbent, Landrieu ended up such a long-shot in her runoff with Cassidy that the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee cut its investment in the state, a move that Landrieu decried as leaving "a soldier on the field."

There's no nice way to say it, really: Louisiana Sen. Mary Landrieu's desperate campaign to hold on against the 2014 Republican wave was an embarrassment as well as a setback to Democrats. Culminating in a last-ditch effort to pass legislation forcing construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, dividing Democrats across the nation, and by all accounts angering the White House who promised a veto, Landrieu seems to have decided that the only way to survive politically in a Republican wave year is to become one. Looking back, Landrieu's efforts to scuttle the so-called "public option" during debate over the Affordable Care Act–not to mention the infamous "Louisiana Purchase"–made her less than popular with the left and a poster child for Republicans hyping the case against Obamacare.

As of this writing, Landrieu is losing to Republican Rep. Bill Cassidy by twelve points. So it's safe to say that stuff didn't work. The decision by Michael Bennet's Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) to effectively pull out of the runoff election weeks ago only acknowledged reality.

There are important lessons in Landrieu's demise for 2016, but they are different lessons from Sen. Mark Udall's much narrower loss here in Colorado. Facing an unexpectedly stiff challenge from Cory Gardner, Udall made mistakes–but not the mistake of pandering to the right, or selling out his party's agenda. Say what you will about Udall, and what he chose to emphasize on the campaign trail, but he ran on consistent values.

And that makes Udall's less than two-point loss much more honorable than Landrieu's shellacking.

Watchdog reporting needed on Gardner

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Sen.-elect Cory Gardner.

Sen.-elect Cory Gardner.

Yesterday, Rep. Cory Gardner voted to halt Obama's program to defer deportation of millions of immigrants who have children in our country.

Gardner voted in Aug. (during the election campaign) against halting Obama's  program to defer deportations of young immigrants.

The two votes weren't exactly identical, but they're close enough to  make you wonder how Gardner reconciles the two. Yet, I can't find a single reporter who asked him directly about the inconsistency.

Instead,  the Associated PressDurango HeraldFox 31 Denver, the Grand Junction Sentinel,  and The Denver Post all apparently relied on Gardner's self-serving statement saying, in part, that "we owe it to generations past and generations to come to find a solution to our broken immigration system."

It's possible some reporters asked to speak with Gardner himself, but they didn't report this. If so, they should have.

But it's not too late to insist on talking to Gardner, if you're a journalist who has access to him, to cover the basic journalistic function of calling out public officials on their inconsistencies between what's done on the campaign trail and what happens in office.

A baby step in the right direction was provided during a Gardner interview Dec. 3 on SeriusXM's new show, Yahoo! News on POTUS

Host Olivier Knox had the presence of mind to ask Gardner whether his "campaign talk" about making birth control pills available over the counter "can translate into legislative action."

Gardner replied:

It needs to translate into policy action. The FDA has their approval process when it comes to prescription, over-the-counter move. I will certainly continue to support and urge, whether it’s legislative action. We’ve got to figure out the best policy option, the best way forward in making sure we have the continued fight for over-the-counter contraceptives, which I continue and will continue to support and push for. And so, we’ll be talking to the FDA and talking about how best to make that happen. It’s something Gov. Jindal first proposed, ACOG, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, supported the move to over-the-counter contraceptions and it’s something we’ve got to encourage to happen here.

I give Knox credit here for asking the question, even though I'd have pressed Gardner to clarify his plan for implementation of a major campaign promise. Will he seek legislation if necessary? How long will he press the Administration? Etc.

Ditto for Gardner's plan on immigration. If he's against deferring deportations, then what's he for? And how does it comport to his campaign promises?

I'm hoping we get this type of watch-dog attitude from reporters going forward on Gardner.

Immigration Reformers Await Gardner, Coffman Votes Today

UPDATE #2: Salon.com's Luke Brinker:

Endorsing Rep. Cory Gardner’s campaign against Democratic Sen. Mark Udall of Colorado this fall, the editorial board of the Denver Post assured readers that Gardner was not the extremist Udall and Democrats depicted…

It turns out that maybe Gardner didn’t really mean all that stuff about being warm and fuzzy and moderate. Sure, he did what he needed to do during the campaign — voting against a bill, sponsored by Tennessee congresswoman Marsha Blackburn, that would have blocked deportation relief for those who came to the U.S. as youth. But today, Gardner lined up with Tea Party conservatives to support Florida Rep. Ted Yoho’s bill to prevent President Obama from carrying out his executive order granting deportation reprieves to unauthorized immigrants with family ties and expanding the program that allows migrants brought to the country as youth to remain in the U.S.

—–

UPDATE: Rep. Mike Coffman one of only seven Republicans to vote against today's bill symbolically chastising President Barack Obama for his immigration executive order, while Cory Gardner votes yes–FOX 31:

Gardner, who defeated Democratic Sen. Mark Udall and is positioning himself as a moderate within the GOP Senate caucus, voted with a majority of House Republicans in support of Rep. Ted Yoho’s bill that seeks to bar the executive branch from delaying deportations.

Coffman, who pummeled Democratic challenger Andrew Romanoff in a re-drawn and newly diverse 6th Congressional District largely on the strength of his outreach to Latinos and other immigrant communities, was one of just seven House Republicans to vote against Yoho’s bill.

Gardner immediately released a statement following the vote, explaining that he opposes the president’s unilateral action but not comprehensive immigration reform overall…

“I voted against H.R. 5759 because, although I strongly believe that it is unconstitutional to have immigration policy made through executive orders and without the consent of Congress, this legislation will only mislead the American people into believing that we are taking care of the problem when the only way to address President Obama’s overreach is either through the U.S. Supreme Court or through the appropriation’s process,” Coffman said.

—–

Reps. Cory Gardner and Mike Coffman.

Reps. Cory Gardner and Mike Coffman.

A press release from local immigration reform advocates and the Service Employees International Union challenges Colorado Reps. Cory Gardner and Mike Coffman to align their votes with their campaign rhetoric this year, as the House prepares to vote in symbolic opposition to President Barack Obama's executive order later today:

After two years of failing to take up any attempt at meaningful immigration reform in the House, now Republicans have announced that in response to President Obama’s executive action on immigration, they’ll be voting tomorrow to undo the action. While the vote is largely symbolic as it would not pass in the US Senate, it’s a gesture that Republicans see as a way to express their anger at the President for taking steps within his authority to fix the immigration system on his own.

However, the bill is a direct attack on millions of immigrant families and DREAMers whose lives changed because of this new program and the President’s 2012 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). The bill set to be voted on tomorrow was introduced by Rep. Ted Yoho (R-FL) and it would undo both the programs initiated by the President that have and will allow millions to come out of the shadows and apply for legal status and work permits…

Juan Carlos de la Cruz, SEIU Local 105 Executive Board Member, said “Tens of thousands of undocumented Colorado immigrants have lived here for years, worked hard to provide for their families and do their part. With the President’s new program, they’ll finally be able to get papers and contribute more to this state that’s become their home. I can’t believe that Republicans are already trying to take this away and subject them to deportation all over again. I call on Cory Gardner and his fellow Republicans to reject this extremist bill and stand up for immigrants and their families.”

“President Obama just stepped up to begin solving a problem that Republicans have been refusing to address for years. And, he’s improved the lives of millions by taking action. If Republicans don’t like what he did, nothing is stopping them from passing the bipartisan bill sitting on their desk that would solve this problem once and for all,” said Patty Kupfer, Denver-based Managing Director of America’s Voice. “Cory Gardner has said he’s a new kind of Republican. Well, these are the same old Republican tactics to do nothing and then blame Obama. Tomorrow we’ll see whether or not he’s willing to stand up to his party and do the right thing.”

We haven't heard anything from either Gardner or Coffman on how they intend to vote today, but Gardner's previous statements about President Obama's executive order are not encouraging. Most debate over the legality of Obama's order is among conservatives, including 17 red states that filed suit yesterday–this despite persuasive arguments from legal experts that the executive order was not just legal, but in line with similar actions taken by Republican presidents.

We'll update after today's vote. Did Gardner and Coffman's newfound support for immigrant rights survive November 4th? We're about to get our first indication.

Marble, Lundberg suggest CO should help pay for TX border security program

(But would they give up TABOR refunds to do it? - Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Sen. Kevin Lundberg (R).

Sen. Kevin Lundberg (R).

As House Republicans are poised to vote to stop Obama's executive order to halt deportation of millions of undocumented immigrants, two Colorado State Senators are saying Colorado should contribute tax dollars to Texas Governor Rick Perry's efforts to secure the southern border.

Calling Obama's action "nuts" and arguing that "you've got to first secure the border," Assistant Republican Majority Leader Kevin Lundberg said in a recent radio interview that Texas has "spent probably $100 million in the last several months helping to show that you can secure the border. I’m all for Colorado stepping up and being a part of the solution."

Tea Party radio host Ken Clark, who asked Lundberg about immigration during the interview, aired Nov. 19 on KLZ 560-AM, responded enthusiastically to Lundberg's idea to give state money to Texas.

"Senator, that is something I would definitely applaud funding. I think that is very important," Clark told Lundberg on air. "I think it affects all of us, even here in the state of Colorado. Senator Marble, what say you?"

"…I agree. It’s exactly the way I feel," responded State Sen. Vicki Marble, who's the new Republican State Senate Caucus Chair.

Sen. Vicki Marble (R).

Sen. Vicki Marble (R).

Both Marble and Lundberg told Clark they believe Texas is demonstrating to the federal government how to secure the border.

"We could secure the border if the federal government would show some backbone, even as the state of Texas has," Lundberg told Clark.

"If people could just go down [to Texas] and see, and have the opportunity to see what we saw and do what we did, they would understand," Marble told Clark. "This is so critical. And I agree with Senator Lundberg on what he said about the steps to take. I believe it is very necessary."

Lundberg said Texas legislators asked him, during a November fact-finding mission to the Texas, if Colorado could help pay for Texas' border security efforts.

Listen to Marble and Lundberg here:

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Where is Michael Bennet on Tax Extenders and another Wall Street Insider at Treasury?

Colorado's soon to be only Democrat in the U.S. Senate, Michael Bennet, is going to have to make some tough decisions soon. By most accounts, the planning for 2016's election is already underway, with larger strategies that will have to be make public being dissected and fine-tuned. 

Bennet has played it fairly safe throughout his career and managed to win a not so easy election last time. He figured out the P.R. part of his job quite adeptly: a feint to the left on the public option (where he ended up doing nothing) was matched with a blatant give to the right on union "card check" legislation.

Playing the dispassionate "third way" type along with small-ball stuff for Colorado and consistent whining about DC's Republican-rooted dysfunction (both sides don't "do it", Michael. -z) rounds out a conventional term by a conventional politician subscribed to all the standard Democratic political conventions of the last several years.

I don't think those conventions will hold the last 2 years of Obama's presidency. I'm not the only one who thinks that way; and voters surely rejected those conventions in the election we just witnessed. How else to explain why progressive policies won while candidates who ignored them – Landrieu, Udall, et. al - didn't? (That's a rhetorical question, CPOLS. cheeky)

This makes Michael Bennet's next public pronouncements, on tax extenders for Big Corporations and (maybe) the Middle Class, and another Wall Street Insider nominated by President Obama, all the more important:

Only progressives are opposed to the rich-people's gifts. So, progressives — Merkley, Warren, Reid (are you with us?) and friends — why not play a strong game instead of a weak one? 

Instead of surrendering almost everything you care about to get the least bit of something, progressives should threaten everything the other side wants and frankly, call their money-loving bluff. The White House wants the rich to have these gifts in their stocking; all Senate Republicans agree; and so does every corporate-loving Democrat (like "sorry for playing hard" Michael Bennet). Make the other side fight for the money, and look like it.

Could progressives kill the whole deal if they don't get what they want? If you put me in charge of the Open Rebellion insurgency, I'd try. After all, the entire left press is on your side — consider that Volsky's source could already be Senate progressives. In addition, the issue is hugely visible. And even if you lose, you'll get the best deal possible, not the worst one available. Just say to the other three players:

"Progressives in the Senate stand for working people and those struggling with poverty. The deal on the table is unacceptable in every way. We would rather have no deal than the one on offer. If you want our vote, put the deal on the table in 2014 that we voted for in 2013. That way everyone wins. That or nothing from us."

The White House and less-progressive senators will play the kitten card and complain, "But what about the poor?" You then say: 

"We care as much as you do. In fact, we care so much about the poor, we want the best deal possible, not the worst."

"Triangulate this," in other words. The White House has already come out against the size of the "bonanza." This offers them a chance to look even better by siding with you (they've already promised a veto, your own bottom line) — and at the same time, shows them a corner and offers a paint brush if they don't. I think this is worth a test. 

Progressives who really care about people are always blackmailed — far too successfully in my opinion — with a "kitten held hostage" as I alluded to above. Here the kitten (and believe me, kitten lives are valuable) is a set of tax breaks for the poor and renewable energy credits, items of real value. But the only way to end blackmail is to walk away from it. "Do you love your kitten as much as we love ours? Let's find out. No kitten needs to suffer in this deal." 

Bennet can keep doing what he's done in the past, and start lining up his post-Senate gig, or he can come out like a proud, progressive Democrat, and start fighting for more than just the minimum that it takes to be called a Democrat these days………which hasn't been a whole hell of a lot up to now.

 

More on why we know immigrants aren’t spreading disease

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Sen. Vicki Marble (R).

Sen. Vicki Marble (R).

Last week I reported that Tea-Party radio hosts Ken Clark (KLZ 560-AM) and Peter Boyles (KNUS 710-AM), along with Colorado's GOP State Senate Caucus Chair Vicki Marble, believe undocumented immigrants, as Marble put it, "bring the diseases. They bring whatever from across the border — things we haven’t seen in decades and thought we eradicated. Our whole country is at risk.”

There's no credible evidence for this, like there wasn't for attacks on immigrants throughout American history, but how do we know this?

"You have to assume that if [undocumented immigrants] get sick they are going to get medical care or die," said Dr. Michelle Barron in the infectious disease department of the University of Colorado School of Medicine.. "There is a long list of diseases that hospitals must report to the health department. Tuberculosis. Measles. Let’s say you came to the emergency room after traveling in Russia, and you have measles. That’s considered 24-hour-reportable. You would then be contacted by the health department and asked questions about vaccinations and where you’ve been. They would identify how big of a scope this would be."

"Public health departments actually report these things," Barron continued. "There's public reporting. The information wouldn’t be hidden in the background because of a political agenda. It’s part of the reporting that has to happen. If there is a trend, that would be investigated."

And, she added, if a serious disease outbreak or threat existed, it would be "all over the news," not left to the investigators on talk radio only.

But what happens if we can’t find the immigrants, I asked.

"The public health department has lots of experience hunting people down," she said. "They will go to your door. There are always the few people who won’t talk or answer the door, but they have their networks of people who will talk, even in homeless communities. Homeless people don’t want to get disease either. They will talk. The public health department is more savvy than people realize."

How to convince skeptics like Clark and Marble?

"Really and truly, you have to trust that the health care workers are doing the right thing," said Barron. "If you have already decided what you feel about this, no matter what evidence you are presented with, you are not going to believe it."

For more information, including a transcript of the Marble interview, click here.

 

Sen. Marble delivers falsehood that immigrants bring eradicated “disease”

(Your Senate majority leadership in action - Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Sen. Vicki Marble (R).

Sen. Vicki Marble (R).

Warning: KLZ talk-radio host Ken Clark tells me the following blog post is a "hit piece consisting of lies and deceit in order to continue to manipulate the public and your readers at the expense of an elected official who is simply tying to protect her constituents." If only this were true….

The elected official Clark refers to is Republican State Sen. Vicki Marble. At issue is a searing falsehood Marble delivered to Clark on his nooner Freedom 560 show on KLZ 560-AM Nov. 19:

Marble: “Those illegals infiltrate into the system, of the United States, and they bring the disease. They bring whatever from across the border — things we haven’t seen in decades and thought we eradicated. Our whole country is at risk.”

A lengthy search (still in progress) for a factual basis backing up Marble yielded nothing, and I asked Clark why he didn't correct her on air:

Clark: The evidence is overwhelming that we are facing a health risk due to our administrations failure to protect our boarders and as a result are continuing to put our citizens at risk. Senator Marble is 100% correct when she states this fact and by failing to accept the truth and the evidence you are simply attempting to attack a public servant rather than seek the truth. She has been briefed by the Colorado Center for Disease Control as well and is privy to information that is not public, maybe you should try to get some information from them. [BigMedia emphasis]

I asked the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment if there was any evidence that undocumented immigrants are bringing any disease, much less ones that we thought were eradicated, into Colorado.

"CDPHE is not aware of any such evidence," was the simple answer from Mark Salley, CDPHE spokesperson.

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Latinos Slam Hickenlooper’s “Path To Citizenship” Dismissal

Gov. John Hickenlooper.

Gov. John Hickenlooper.

As FOX 31's Eli Stokols reports, the controversy over Gov. John Hickenlooper's remarks earlier this week, in which he appeared to dismiss the aspirations of immigrants to obtain American citizenship, appears to be growing. After giving Hickenlooper a suitable period to retract his comments, the Colorado Latino Forum has run out of patience, issuing a strongly-worded statement this afternoon:

As the nation's Hispanic community Friday celebrated President Obama's executive order sparing 5 million undocumented immigrants from deportation, Colorado Latinos expressed their frustration with another politician — the state's Democratic governor…

"The Colorado Latino Forum is extremely disappointed in Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper's recent statement regarding Latinos and citizenship," the statement began.

"The Colorado Latino Forum has long underscored that access to a path to citizenship is a key value that must be included in any meaningful future comprehensive immigration reform package that Congress debates.

"We are disappointed that immediately following his narrow re-election in which our community voted overwhelmingly for Governor Hickenlooper, his first comments regarding Latino issues demonstrate that he is out of touch with our community's priorities and values."

What we've heard is that just about every Latino interest and immigrant rights group in the state has called Gov. Hickenlooper's office to express their displeasure over what he said, and there has been no satisfactory response. The fact is, an eventual pathway to American citizenship for otherwise law-abiding, long term immigrants is a central goal of immigration reform proponents–who are deeply skeptical of the various "guest worker" programs that have been proposed as alternatives. We don't think Hickenlooper was trying to disparage immigrants' motives, but his statement that the "vast majority" of immigrants simply want to "get paid over the table" and "don't care about a pathway to citizenship" could be interpreted disparagingly. Either way, it's directly at odds with what immigration reformers are advocating for.

Whatever his intentions, this comment — and a wealthy, white politician purporting to tell a minority community what they really want — isn’t sitting well with Colorado’s Latino community…

Bottom line: the pressure may be off Hickenlooper electorally for four years, but since his re-election we've been wondering if that might result in more rigorous accountability from his left–on a variety of issues where Hickenlooper has run afoul of base Democrats, or even good politics. There has been a tendency this election season to pull punches on Hickenlooper, so as to not assist Bob Beauprez's campaign.

As of today, it looks like Hickenlooper's second honeymoon is over.

GOP Responds to Obama Immigration Action…With Lawsuit About Healthcare

We wrote earlier this week about the immigration issue and President Barack Obama's pending executive order to address the topic as Congress refuses to act. Here's the final paragraph from our post on Wednesday:

There's no way around it for the GOP: When they take control of both the House and Senate in January, they can either move forward with immigration reform or not. There is nobody left for Republicans to blame if they don't take action themselves. The GOP painted themselves into a corner with inaction on immigration, and the only way out is to make their own footprints. Ultimately, if Republicans don't actually move on the issue, 2016 voters aren't going to care why they failed to act with their Congressional majority — as Yoda might say, there is only "do" or "do not."

Facepalm city in Congress

Sigh. As CNN reports, House Speaker John Boehner just…WTF?

House Speaker John Boehner said Friday he has sued the Obama Administration in federal court over its decisions to make changes to the President's health care law, which congressional Republicans argue were unconstitutional.

The move was expected for months — the GOP-controlled House of Representatives voted to approve the lawsuit in July. But Boehner had trouble retaining a law firm that would take the case because of the political furor over the controversial health care law…

…News of the lawsuit came just minutes after Boehner held a press conference on Friday to respond to the President's plan to circumvent Congress in order to make sweeping changes to the nation's immigration system by executive order.

The one-two punch from Boehner marks a new era of tension between Republicans who will officially take over Congress in January, and the President who has signaled that despite his party's losses in the midterms, he plans to proceed with his agenda without GOP cooperation. [Pols emphasis]

As CNN points out, Boehner struck out — twice — on trying to find a law firm to sue over Obamacare until convincing a George Washington law professor to take the case. But the very fact that Republicans would allow this lawsuit to become their de-facto response to Obama's executive order on immigration absolutely boggles the mind.

Aside from making some folks in the Tea Party happy, what do Republicans possibly think they can accomplish here?

Talk-radio hosts broadcast from Denver, but where do their hearts reside?

If you live in Denver or send your kid to public school or get involved in our community in even the most limited way, you probably know families who will benefit from Obama's announcement to stop the deportation of some undocumented immigrants with family ties to our country. And you know we'll be better for it, our humanity, our economy, our soccer teams. It gives you hope.

The Republican radio hosts, quoted below, broadcast their shows from Denver, but you wonder if their hearts reside somewhere else:

KHOW's Michael "Heck-of-a-Job" Brown Nov. 19:

Brownie: The people who are, you know, mowing your yards, or fixing your roof, or doing whatever they happen to be doing – those low-skilled workers. I ran into one today over at the Sonic, bless her heart. I’m not sure she could read or write, but she managed to get the order straight, so I guess I should be happy, right? Listen to Brown 11.19.14

KOA 850-AM's Mike Rosen Nov. 19:

Rosen: I think the chip [Obama] has on his shoulder is that he doesn’t want to be pushed around by these white Republicans in the House when they had a majority, and now he doesn’t want to be pushed around by white Republicans in the Senate, now that they’ll have a majority in January. He’s looking at so much of this through a racial prism, and I think that’s his hangup. Listen to Rosen 11.19.14

KNUS 710-AM's Dan Caplis on Wednesday:

Caplis: But we have the President now on the brink, on the brink of essentially tearing up the Constitution. Looks like that “tearing up ceremony”– you know, we get so upset, as we should about flag burning. You know, this president is just going to burn the Constitution. And it’s going to be formally scheduled Friday in Las Vegas. Listen to Caplis 11.19.14

To be fair, most outraged talk-radio hosts say they want something done about immigration, just like many of the Republicans in Washington.

Rosen: We’ve waited so long to address the problem of the 11 or 12 million people who are here illegally, we can wait a little longer. We can wait another year. And a year should give us time to make some real progress on border security. Once that’s done, then the Republicans will be willing to compromise.

Nothing Obama did yesterday stops Congress from passing immigration-reform legislation, Mike. Meanwhile, this allows some families to be home together for the holidays and then get back to work without fear of their lives being torn apart.

Hickenlooper Unfiltered Again–The Good, The Bad, The Ugly

Gov. John Hickenlooper.

Gov. John Hickenlooper.

As Americans wait to hear from President Barack Obama this evening on the subject of immigration reform executive orders, the Wall Street Journal interviewed Colorado's recently re-elected Gov. John Hickenlooper yesterday–and some of Hickenlooper's remarks are raising eyebrows today. As reported by WSJ's Reid Epstein, Hick began with some indirect criticism of Sen. Mark Udall's unsuccessful re-election campaign that we think is shared by many Democrats:

“We stayed on the economy the whole time,” he told Wall Street Journal reporters and editors Wednesday. “We kept coming back to the economy. These are objective sources ranking state economies across the country and we are in the top four of every major assessment.”

Mr. Hickenlooper’s victory explanation came as an inherent rebuke to Mr. Udall, who lost to Republican Rep. Cory Gardner after running a heavily negative campaign focused on social issues. Mr. Udall skipped an appearance on his behalf at a Denver fundraiser – and Mr. Hickenlooper said it was a mistake to reject a visit from the president of the United States.

“My gosh, the president of the United States calls you and you’re going to say ‘No,’?” Mr. Hickenlooper said. “The president of the United States calls and asks for your time, I think generally you should find a way to do it.”

We wanted to start with this comment from Hickenlooper about Mark Udall's decision to avoid President Obama even as Obama campaigned in Colorado on Udall's behalf, because we think it's dead-on. In retrospect, we do not believe that hiding from Obama helped Udall in the least. On the contrary, the Democratic base cheered pictures of Hickenlooper and the President shooting pool together at the Wynkoop Brewery.

The consensus view since the election is that Udall's intense focus on abortion and women's reproductive issues–particularly when that came at the expense of articulating Udall's own case for re-election–was a major strategic blunder. Hickenlooper was criticized during the campaign for refusing to "go negative" against his opponent, who had an enormous wealth of negatives to work with. Instead, Hickenlooper stayed positive, focused on the state's strong economy recovery, and in the end was vindicated by re-election in a very strong Republican year.

So there's that, and we think a lot of readers will agree. But then Hickenlooper turns to the issue of immigration, apropos with Obama's announcement coming tonight. And Democrats waiting nervously since the election can reset their counters–the number of days without a major trip off the proverbial reservation by Hickenlooper is once again zero:

Immigration: Mr. Hickenlooper predicted Mr. Obama’s executive action, to be announced Thursday, will “be very combustible.” He proposed that instead of pushing Congress to enact last year’s Senate legislation, the White House should give up on the path to citizenship that has most inflamed opponents to an immigration overhaul.

“What’s amazing to me is, a lot of young Latinos, the vast majority don’t care about a pathway to citizenship,” Mr. Hickenlooper said. “They want to be able to get on an airplane and get down to Mexico City and visit their grandparents. And they want to get a job and be able to get paid over the table. Why don’t we just take the pathway to citizenship and say, ‘We’re not going to worry about it.’ Let’s have a robust guest worker system where everybody gets five years and we secure the border and we actually hold business accountable if they’re going to pay people under the table.”

There's really no way to spin these comments. Immigration reform advocates we've heard from are absolutely furious over the suggestion that "the vast majority" of immigrants don't want a pathway to citizenship. We don't think Hickenlooper intended this, but these comments could be interpreted as demeaning to the many immigrants who most certainly do want to become American citizens, and who have served as the face of the immigration reform movement for many years. Frankly, we'd like to know more about where Hickenlooper got this stuff, but in the meantime there seems to be consensus that these comments were not helpful to the larger goal of enacting comprehensive immigration reform.

We're watching, as we've seen with previous "Hickengaffes," to see this promptly walked back.

Obama’s Immigration Executive Order and the GOP’s Problem(s)

Obama Immigration Action

President Barack Obama is scheduled to speak to the nation tomorrow night to reveal his plan for an executive order to address the issue of illegal immigration. The move is expected to be made official during an event at a Nevada high school on Friday. As CNN reports:

Obama's prime-time address [on Thursday] will be followed Friday by an event in Las Vegas, sources tell CNN. While exact details of his announcement aren't yet public, the basic outline of the plan, as relayed by people familiar with its planning, includes deferring deportation for the parents of U.S. citizens, a move that would affect up to 3.5 million people.

"Everybody agrees that our immigration system is broken. Unfortunately, Washington has allowed the problem to fester for far too long," Obama said in a video posted on his Facebook page Wednesday. "And so what I'm going to be laying out is the things that I can do with my lawful authority as President to make the system work better, even as I continue to work with Congress to encourage them to get a bipartisan, comprehensive bill that can solve the entire problem."…

…The President declared in June he wouldn't wait for Congress to pass a comprehensive overhaul of the immigration system, initially saying he would announce changes by the end the summer. The decision was delayed until after the midterm elections, when the White House believed it wouldn't be caught up in campaign politics.

But Republicans are expressing deep anger at the anticipated move, saying unilateral action on immigration would forestall any legislative action.

Republicans are revving up the angry rhetoric machine, but they need to be careful how they respond to President Obama's executive order (EO). Every political journalist in the country knows this has been coming for some time, and the message has been clearly sent that President Obama's actions are a direct result of Republican inaction on the issue, so there's no room for Republicans to feign surprise at this point. The Obama administration has also made it clear that the President expects the GOP to move on this issue eventually; they have been up front about acknowledging that an EO should not be a substitute for Congressional legislation and should be replaced by a broader legislative change, which puts the ball squarely in the hands of Republicans once the order is signed.

While the President's EO is an important step for the immigration issue in general, in many ways this is also going to be a story of Republican inaction. As Jonathan Capehart explained in the Washington Post on Monday:

The introduction of a new report from American Bridge about Obama’s forthcoming executive action succinctly details what the president did over the course of a year to allow House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) to move on the comprehensive immigration bill that passed the Senate with 68 votes in June 2013…

…If congressional Republicans don’t want Obama to take action on immigration, they should move on the comprehensive immigration reform bill sitting in the House. In the meantime, as I’ve written before, if the president is going to make people mad, he might as well do it to help people and let the GOP figure out what to do with the poisoned chalice of their own making.

Reagan and Bush Sr

Presidents Reagan, left, and Bush Sr. provide cover for Obama’s pending Executive Order.

President Obama is certainly making Republicans angry, even drawing out new threats of impeachment over the pending EO. But again, Republicans need to be careful not to go too far down the rhetoric hole, because railing on and on about the constitutionality of Obama's decision puts them at odds with history. Two other Presidents have acted alone on immigration reform: Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush. Republicans will argue that those actions took place under different circumstances, but that's just semantics; it's hard to call Obama out for something that was also done by two previous Republican Presidents. In fact, Executive Action providing discretionary relief from deportation has been used by every President since Eisenhower.

Furthermore, Republicans will have trouble trying to make the President's EO seem more nefarious than it is. Alicia Caldwell of The Associated Press does a good job in breaking down what Obama can and cannot do via Executive Order, which largely involves deferred action through clear policies of enforcement and resource allocation. Obama can't "change the law" on immigration any more than you can, and the Administration has worked for months — along with other partners — in laying out the facts for the media to counter ridiculous charges from Congressional Republicans that the President won't work with them on the issue. Don't believe us? Check out today's editorial in the Denver Post calling on Republicans to stop complaining and get to work on their own legislation.

There's no way around it for the GOP: When they take control of both the House and Senate in January, they can either move forward with immigration reform or not. There is nobody left for Republicans to blame if they don't take action themselves. The GOP painted themselves into a corner with inaction on immigration, and the only way out is to make their own footprints. Ultimately, if Republicans don't actually move on the issue, 2016 voters aren't going to care why they failed to act with their Congressional majority — as Yoda might say, there is only "do" or "do not."