Weekend Open Thread

“Next to a battle lost, the greatest misery is a battle gained.”

–Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington

Colorado Pols Q&A: The State of the GOP Senate Race

UPDATE 5:00PM: Stay granted, GOP U.S. Senate primary screeches to a halt:

Release from Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams (R):

Two Senate candidates, Colorado Springs businessman Robert Blaha and former Aurora City Councilman Ryan Frazier, sought the delay after they were notified Thursday they hadn’t collected enough signatures from Republican voters to make the June 28 ballot.

Their campaigns were holed up in a Secretary of State’s office conference room today, poring over their ballot petitions as they prepare to file protests, likely on Monday…

The Secretary of State’s office will certify today to the county clerks the candidates for other races, such as state House, state Senate and district attorney. Clerks will be instructed to leave a blank space for the Senate candidates and will be notified as soon as possible when the Secretary of State’s office has a complete list of GOP hopefuls.


UPDATE 4:15PM: Ryan Frazier and Robert Blaha file for an injunction to prevent the finalization of the primary ballot:

This afternoon in Denver District Court, the Blaha for Colorado and Frazier for Colorado campaigns filed a joint petition seeking to enjoin the Secretary of State from setting the Republican US Senate ballot today as per the statutory deadline.

“I feel confident that this step will lead us to a positive outcome for our campaigns and for Colorado voters.The thousands of individuals that desire to see us on the ballot should be recognized and affirmed. I look forward to the real race once the ballot is set,” said Robert Blaha, who is represented by Michael Francisco of MRD Law.

“By taking this action today, I’m standing up for the thousands of voters that signed our petitions because their voice should count too. We are requesting the Secretary of State give our respective teams the time, allowed under law, to correct their action. I do so because we are confident we have more than enough validated signatures from real Colorado voters who want to have a choice in June.” Frazier is represented by Scott Gessler and Geoff Blue.

With this joint action, both Blaha and Frazier preserve their rights to file separate lawsuits challenging the insufficiency determination made by the Secretary of State’s office.


Today is the official deadline for the Colorado Secretary of State’s office to finalize the names that will appear on the June 28th Primary ballot, but with so many last-minute decisions about ballot access, it wouldn’t be a surprise if a legal motion delays that process.

To help you understand what is happening in the Republican Senate race, and what to expect next, we put together a nice little Q&A with ourselves. Enjoy:

Jack Graham (L) and Darryl Glenn

Jack Graham and Darryl Glenn

Q: The Republican field of candidates for U.S. Senate once included 13 different names. How many candidates will ultimately end up on the ballot for the June 28th Primary?

A: As of now, there are three candidates on the ballot: El Paso County Commissioner Darryl Glenn, former Colorado State University Athletic Director Jack Graham, and former half-term legislator Jon Keyser. Robert Blaha and Ryan Frazier learned from the Secretary of State’s (SOS) office on Thursday that they had failed to submit enough valid signatures for ballot access; Frazier is pursuing legal action and has hired former Secretary of State Scott Gessler as his legal representative, while Blaha has yet to announce whether or not he will challenge the SOS ruling.


Q: It was announced this morning that Keyser has successfully appealed his case and will be placed on the Primary ballot after all. What does this mean for Blaha and Frazier?

A: That’s a difficult question to answer when there is very little precedent here; prior to 2012, Colorado held its Primary elections in August, which left plenty of time to figure this out before ballots were finalized. Because Primary ballots are supposed to be completed by the SOS office today, Blaha and/or Frazier probably need to file some sort of injunction to stop that process from happening. We’d be surprised if there were no injunction filed today; Frazier hired Gessler to help him challenge the petition decision and seems to be fairly confident about his chances from what he has said publicly.

There are a lot of directions this could go from a legal standpoint, but it stands to reason that both Frazier and Blaha would benefit from the ruling in Keyser’s case. None of these three candidates submitted enough petition signatures to give them wiggle room if there were any problems – only Jack Graham was wise enough to turn in double the required amount of signatures – so if a judge is inclined to let Keyser on the ballot anyway, it would seem to create an opening for Frazier and Blaha to get the same shoulder shrug from a Denver judge.


Q: Is Keyser the frontrunner to win the Senate nomination?

A: Are you kidding? Of course not. Keyser supporters are celebrating their legal ruling as though his campaign accomplished something significant. In truth, Keyser did only what he was supposed to do: He made the ballot, and he had to file a lawsuit to do it. By failing to initially make the ballot, Keyser picked up more media coverage than he has had for his entire campaign – but all of it was bad. He now must convince potential Republican donors that his campaign is not already dead, despite what they may have seen or read earlier this week. That’s not a position of strength by any means, especially for a candidate who was already struggling to raise enough money just to keep the lights on.


Q: Okay, so if it’s not Keyser, then who is the frontrunner for the GOP nomination?

A: That’s an easier question: It’s the two candidates who didn’t have to spend the last week wondering if they were even going to be on the ballot in June. Colorado Republicans are going to be receiving their Primary ballots in the mail in 5-6 weeks, which isn’t much time for a bunch of unknown candidates to raise their name ID. Only Graham and Glenn have been able to campaign as full-fledged candidates for the last week or two, and both have a sizable advantage so long as they have the resources to run a solid campaign.

A low-information, low-turnout Primary certainly benefits Glenn, the man whose name will appear at the top of the ballot thanks to his victory at the Republican State Convention on April 9. But if we had to pick one name to be the favorite right now, it would be Graham; as of today, he is literally the ONLY Republican candidate whose name is on the ballot and has demonstrated an ability to generate significant campaign funds.

Get More Smarter on Friday (April 29)

GetMoreSmarter-SnowHow do the Broncos replace 6’7″ QB Brock Osweiler? No problem — just draft another humongous quarterback in Paxton Lynch. It’s time to Get More Smarter with Colorado Pols! If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example).


► In. Out. Off. On. The Republican race for the U.S. Senate nomination in Colorado has been crazier than Ted Cruz in gym class. Darryl Glenn and Jack Graham were officially on the Primary ballot as of yesterday, and today, Jon Keyser managed to convince a judge to let him on the ballot as wellRobert Blaha and Ryan Frazier are not on the Primary ballot — not right now, anyway — but Frazier has already hired former Secretary of State Scott Gessler to assist him in the legal department.

Confused? Then check out this Colorado Pols Q&A on the State of the GOP Senate Race.


► Remember that so-called “alliance” announced last Sunday by Ted Cruz and John Kasich as part of a coordinated effort to stop Donald Trump from winning the GOP nomination for President? Yeah? Well, that’s over now. This “alliance” didn’t just fail spectacularly; as the Washington Post reports, it actually backfired:

The agreement, and the way it was announced, has fed perfectly into Trump’s argument that party bosses are trying to rig the system to steal the nomination from him. Many supporters of Cruz and Kasich do not like the other, and  the deal rubs them the wrong way.


► We wish we could say, “At Least He’s Not Your District Attorney,” because, well, he might be. Democrat Bruce Brown is the District Attorney in the 5th Judicial District (Clear Creek, Eagle, Lake, and Summit counties) and is running for re-election in 2016. Apparently Brown took 6.5 weeks of paid vacation in 2015 alone. In a follow up with reporters, Brown made sure to go heavy on the stupid:

“I don’t answer to anybody within the office,” he said. “The reason why I take time off is because I’m a public servant, and I’m not a public slave.”…

…Employees in Brown’s district can accrue up to 22 vacation days each year if they’ve been on the job at least 10 years. But Brown said the taxpayers didn’t elect him to be present. They elected him, he said, to oversee an efficient and responsive office, which includes monitoring and mentoring 13 deputy district attorneys.

“Brown said the taxpayers didn’t elect him to be present.” All this vacation time must have turned Brown’s political brain into meatloaf.


Get even more smarter after the jump…


Senate GOP Kicks Rural Colorado When Its Down

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Its not news that Colorado’s economic recovery has been uneven.  As the Front Range booms much of the Western Slope has been left behind. Consider this article from the Daily Sentinel, today:

Colorado’s population rate ranked as the nation’s second-fastest in growth in 2014 and 2015, with most of the increases on the Front Range. While the state saw an increase of 101,000 people, most of those people located or were born on the Front Range.

The Front Range’s explosive population growth may not be news to some people, but Mesa County also experienced a modest growth rate of 3 percent, or 456 people, during that time.

That’s important to note because some counties in the state, like Delta County, experienced a population loss those years, said Elizabeth Garner, a demographer for the Colorado Department of Local Affairs.

And while the article works to put a good spin on that disparity (500 people!) the conclusion is unavoidable, communities in western Colorado that have long been linked to extractive industries are struggling.

For instance, this happened today.



The silo at Oxbow’s Elk Creek mine, which sat above the former ‘company town’ of Somerset came down.

Although the Oxbow mine was shuttered due to a mine fire (and not due to Democrats as much as some fossil fuel advocates claim otherwise) when it comes to coal the writing is on the wall. And natural gas and oil prices remain depressed. By fits and starts the era of fossil fuels is making way for something different.

This is certainly true in Colorado, where even conservative counties are realizing the key to future economic prosperity is diversifying the economy, not doubling down on the ways of the last century.

So it was rather upsetting, if not altogether surprising, when the Republicans in the Colorado Senate killed, for a second time, a widely supported bill (SB 81) put forward by Sen. Kerry Donovan to aid struggling rural economies with the transition that even they have come to realize is underway.

Why did they kill the bill? According to Sen. Ray Scott because “grants don’t create jobs, people do.”


Loan Shark Liability: Dems Take Aim at Larry Crowder

Sen. Larry Crowder.

Sen. Larry Crowder.

A press release yesterday from the Democratic Senate Campaign Fund calls out Sen. Larry Crowder, in a hot race against Democratic Las Animas County Sheriff Jim Casias, for his support of Senate Bill 16-185: the bill that passed the Senate this week on a party-line vote to jack up interest rates on subprime personal loans.

“In a session in which helping working people should be the focus, my opponent is co-sponsoring a bill that would enlarge profits for the wealthy at the expense of the working class. We need to be looking at how to reward people who work hard and play by the rules, not giving big breaks to Denver special interests at the expense of working people.” said Jim Casias, Candidate for Senate District 35.

Crowder’s senate district has struggled to regain footing since the Great Recession and many people in his district have taken note. During his first-term, Crowder has voted to gut retirement benefits for teachers, state patrol, correctional officers, and other public employees (SB15-80) while voting to give a pay raise for politicians like himself (HB15-1256). Additionally, he has been under fire for voting down a rural economic bill that would bring broadband Internet to rural districts like his (15’ Cow Budget #34).

District 35 resident Paula Lucero said, “I don’t see how helping loan sharks benefits our district. Who is putting Larry Crowder up to this and what is he getting out of it?”

…Non-partisan experts on local and state economy and finance, including AARP Colorado, Colorado Fiscal Institute, and Colorado Center for Law and Policy, testified that the measure is a solution in search of a problem. The bill would allow interest rates up to 36% for loans.

However ingratiating lobbyists for subprime personal lenders may be, the fact is that the industry does not have a good reputation among voters–especially voters in economically challenged areas like the sprawling southern Colorado district Crowder represents. Especially after every Democrat in the Colorado Senate held firm in voting no on Senate Bill 16-185, this is an issue that can be capitalized on to good effect in the upcoming elections.


And it won’t just be Crowder. Ahead of final passage, several Republican Senators added themselves as co-sponsors, including at least two in targeted races this year–Randy Baumgardner and Jack Tate.

We expect to see all of them in shark suits this fall.

Yes, Republicans Are Definitely Blowing Their Senate Chances in Colorado

The Colorado Republican field of U.S. Senate candidates, in a nutshell.

The Colorado Republican field of U.S. Senate candidates, in a nutshell.

UPDATE: Per Lynn Bartels of the Secretary of State’s office, Jon Keyser has apparently won his legal challenge and will be allowed on the June 28th Primary ballot.


Amber Phillips of the Washington Post pens a long story today with the headline: “Are Republicans blowing their chance in the Colorado Senate race?”

Why, yes, as a matter of fact, they are. We’ll get into a bit more of our own analysis in a moment, but first, a few highlights from the Post story:

The past few months have brought on a slew of recruiting and campaign troubles for Republicans. They struggled to find an experienced and reputable candidate to take on Bennet. Now they’re trudging through a crowded nominating process with no obvious standout hopeful. And this week, the establishment’s preferred candidate — to the extent there is one — failed to qualify to be on the GOP primary ballot. So did two other candidates.

Senate Republicans’ campaign arm also hasn’t reserved airtime in Colorado for the fall, which some took as a sign they might just take a pass on the race altogether. (Senate Republicans caution against reading too much into that.) Taken altogether, Republicans’ missteps have given Bennet some much-needed breathing room in a race that his campaign perhaps rightly expected to be much more competitive than it is now…

…Like we said, it’s still too early to tell whether Republicans’ missteps have permanently altered the race. But for now, it seems like the Colorado Senate race is a lot less competitive than we thought it would be.

As of this writing, only two Republican candidates for U.S. Senate have actually made the ballot: El Paso County Commissioner Darryl Glenn and former Colorado State University Athletic Director Jack GrahamJon Keyser is still waiting to hear from a Denver judge regarding his legal challenge of the Secretary of State’s ruling that he failed to submit enough valid petition signatures. Ryan Frazier is vowing the same legal fight and has hired former Secretary of State Scott Gessler as his legal representative. Robert Blaha has not yet indicated whether he will seek a legal remedy for his own failure to make the ballot, but he has been all over talk radio this morning and we can’t imagine that he would have come this far in the race to give up now.


Friday Open Thread

“The only foes that threaten America are the enemies at home, and these are ignorance, superstition and incompetence.”

–Elbert Hubbard

BREAKING: Blaha, Frazier Both Disqualified from Primary Ballot

UPDATE #2: It sounds like Ryan Frazier will be challenging the Secretary of State’s ruling:


UPDATE: It will be interesting to see if either Blaha or Frazier (or both) now get involved in Jon Keyser’s legal challenge. If Keyser remains off the ballot, then Blaha and Frazier would have a bigger list of signers to include on their lists (check here for more information).


From the Secretary of State’s office:

U.S. Senate candidates Robert Blaha and Ryan Frazier were declared insufficient to appear on the Republican primary ballot, Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams announced today.

They were required to gather 1,500 signatures from Republican voters in each of Colorado’s seven congressional districts for a total of 10,500 signatures per candidate. The Secretary of State’s office conducted a line-by-line review of their petitions.

Blaha, a Colorado Springs businessman, submitted 17,844 petition signatures to the Secretary of State’s office. Of that, 10,507 were deemed valid. He was short in three congressional districts.

Frazier, a former Aurora City Council member, submitted 18,581 petition signatures. Of that, 11,108 were deemed valid. He was short in four congressional districts.

Signatures were rejected for a variety of reasons, including the signer was not a Republican, the signer’s address did not match voter registration records, duplicate signatures and notary errors.

Blaha came up short 151 signatures in CD-1, 169 in CD-3, and 49 in CD-6 (here is the signature report for Robert Blaha).

Frazier was short 52 signatures in CD-1, six in CD-2, 306 in CD-3, and 44 in CD-6 (here is the signature report for Ryan Frazier).

Blaha, Frazier Still Waiting to Hear About Primary Ballot

Robert Blaha.

Robert Blaha.

UPDATE #2: Both Blaha and Frazier have been disqualified from the Primary ballot for insufficient signatures. More on this story here.


UPDATE: At least one group of Republican voters in Colorado isn’t interested in this outcome.

For the first time in 13 years, the El Paso County Republican Strategy Forum decided to back the Libertarian candidate in the U.S. Senate race. Lily Tang Williams received the group’s support after a meeting on Wednesday, as the Colorado Independent reports:

[Republican Strategy Forum Chair Sheryl] Glasgow said her group has been disappointed with the large GOP field for U.S. Senate this year, especially after state Sen. Tim Neville was knocked out of the running at the Republican Party’s April 9 state convention.

None of the other candidates for U.S. Senate have spoken to the group about their bids, she said.

We don’t want to overstate the importance of this decision by the Republican Strategy Forum, but it is certainly interesting that an organization with “Republican” in its name has decided against supporting any Senate candidates with an ‘R’ next to their name.



Caption This Photo: “Dirty Douggie” Lamborn!

Rep. Doug Lamborn of Colorado Springs, not generally known as a rugged manly-man politician, nonetheless got his “man card” renewed with a visit to the Magnum Shooting Center–perhaps a very good idea in advance of his unexpectedly stiff primary challenge from a charismatic young female opponent. Lamborn asks, do you feel lucky?

Well do you, punk?

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Are we the only ones who find that look on his face a little…disconcerting? A few more photos of the all-new Badass Doug Lamborn® after the jump.


“Rolling Coal”–Seriously Republicans, WTF?

Rolling coal--ladies, please don't encourage this.

“Rolling coal.”

Nick Coltrain at the Fort Collins Coloradoan reports on the death Tuesday of Rep. Joann Ginal’s House Bill 16-1319, legislation that would have outlawed the practice of intentionally modifying your diesel vehicle to spew black soot on unsuspecting pedestrians, Prius owners, and other such wussies:

Ginal, D-Fort Collins, said she wrote the bill to target the activity, not the modifications. She had input from Fort Collins law enforcement and city officials on the bill. The bill would have created a $35 fine for those who rig light diesel trucks to blast thick, black exhaust and use it to obscure roadways or harass pedestrians, referred to as rolling coal. It would have also tacked two points on the offender’s license. Too many points in a one- or two-year period will lead to license suspension.

The bill passed out of the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives on a bipartisan vote earlier this month. It failed on a party-line vote in the Senate transportation committee, with the three Republicans voting against it. A phone message to the chair of the committee, Sen. Randy Baumgardner, R-Cowdrey, was not immediately returned Wednesday.

Prius-RepellentLet’s have no confusion about about the plain language of HB16-1319:

The bill prohibits “coal rolling”, or “rolling coal”, which is the act of intentionally blowing black smoke through one or more exhaust pipes attached to a diesel vehicle after modifying, disabling, bypassing, or removing the vehicle’s pollution controls, for the purpose of harassing another driver, a bicyclist, or a pedestrian or obstructing or obscuring the view of another driver, a bicyclist, or a pedestrian. A person who violates the prohibition commits a class 2 misdemeanor traffic offense, punishable by 10 to 90 days in jail or a $150 to $300 fine, or both, and is subject to 3 points assessed against the person’s driver’s license.

As you can see, we’re not talking about a new law to bust down poor people with old smoking vehicles. The citizens who would face penalties under this bill have intentionally modified their diesel vehicles to emit vast quantities of sooty diesel smoke from their exhausts at will. There are diesels on the road that emit more than their share of smoke already, but this is a modification that produces far more than any engine problem. If you’ve ever seen someone “rolling coal,” you know that the pall of smoke they generate can dangerously obscure an entire major boulevard–not to mention choke out anyone unfortunate enough to be walking outdoors nearby.

Safe to say, it’s a very bad practice that should most definitely not be legal–any more than it’s legal to defeat your emission controls in a regular car. And since it’s something done with the express purpose of harassing others and creating a nuisance…yeah. It’s ridiculous. Throw the book at ’em.

But no, Sen Randy Baumgardner and his Republicans colleagues on the Senate Transportation Committee chose instead to protect your God-given right to “roll coal.” So remember to keep your Prius’ windows rolled up tight and don’t make eye contact.

Tea Party activist is now “executive editor” at the Colorado Statesman?

POLS UPDATE: Yes, this is the same political hack Jennifer Kerns who absurdly claimed ballots were being mailed “from Chicago” for the 2013 recalls, and who later warned the nation of Colorado’s epidemic of “marijuana crack babies.” What can we say? People fail upward sometimes.


Jennifer Kerns.

Jennifer Kerns.

If all you knew about Jennifer Kerns is her job title of executive editor of the Colorado Statesman, you may have been surprised if you attended last Thursday’s meeting of the North Jeffco Tea Party, where she provided an evening lecture titled, “Brokered Brand: How the GOP continues to compromise its brand and lose elections… and what you can do about it.”

A couple days before her Jeffco speech, Kerns’ Tea-Party conservatism was blaring from KNUS 710-AM, where she subbed for arch conservative Dan Caplis:

Kerns: We can’t forget that we have a big senate race coming up here in 2016, the race against Sen. Michael Bennet, one of the more liberal members of the U.S. Senate, very similar to Mark Udall, except, in my view, there’s one big problem with Senator Bennet, and that is, whereas Mark Udall was concerned about one thing and one thing primarily, your uterus–That was his nickname at least on the campaign trail, given to him by The Denver Post.–Sen. Michael Bennet has many, many interests that he wants to control in your life. And to talk about that a little bit is the executive director of Advancing Colorado, Jonathan Lockwood. … I want to go through some of the attacks you’ve made on Sen. Michael Bennet and rightfully so, given his track record. Let’s start with his support of President Obama’s nuclear deal that gives Iran basically unfettered access to nuclear material… Great work you’re doing, Jonathan Lockwood….

This doesn’t sound like a journalist who, a couple weeks later, would be writing a front-page Statesman article about the Bennet race. But, yes, Kerns authored the April 13 piece, headlined “Bennet will have a fight, but how much of one is TBD.”

The headline was fair enough, but the article hit a low note by repeating an inaccurate conservative attack against Bennet:

“[Bennet’s] initial support of transferring prisoners from Guantanamo Bay detention camps was an unpopular sell to many Colorado voters,” Kerns reported.

Bennet never supported transferring GITMO prisoners here, and Kerns was immediately challenged on Twitter by “MissingPundit,” who pointed out that Politifact found it untrue that Bennet supported bringing Gitmo detainees to Colorado.

In response, Kerns called Politifact a “lefty site,” again repeating a conservative talking point that ignores the fact that Politifact won the Pulitzer Prize in 2009. Kerns tweeted that Politifact is “lefty” in the same way America Rising is “righty.” In reality, America Rising was established to expose the “truth about Democrats”, while the mission of Politifact is fact checking.


Get More Smarter on Thursday (April 28)

MoreSmarter-RainAll these April showers had better bring some serious May flowers. It’s time to Get More Smarter with Colorado Pols! If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example).


Ted Cruz’s quixotic announcement of “running mate” Carly Fiorina yesterday, which has baffled the political world since, well, he’s probably going to lose outright at this point to Donald Trump, remains today’s big political story:

Ted Cruz on Thursday said his campaign for the Republican nomination would continue “as long as we have a path to victory,” expressing confidence that he would earn a majority of the delegates needed to clinch the nomination during the Republican National Convention…

“Well, we are fighting to the end, we are fighting to win, and we are going to do everything possible to win here in Indiana. We’re barnstorming right now,” Cruz said, ticking through his three campaign events scheduled across the state and encouraging Katz’s listeners to visit both his usual campaign website and the one launched yesterday to mark the choice of his vice presidential pick, Carly Fiorina, CruzCarly.com.

Katz attempted to clarify what Cruz meant later in the same interview, to which the Texas senator responded, “We are continuing as long as we have a path to victory, and I believe we are going to earn a majority of the delegates at the convention.”

Local Republicans appear a bit befuddled by the whole Fiorina thing too.

► Meanwhile, the long goodbye begins for Bernie Sanders as his campaign begins laying off staff en masse. The Sanders campaign and millions of supporters now face the challenge of putting a bruising primary campaign behind them and uniting against a common foe–and that foe is not Hillary Clinton.

Get even more smarter after the jump…