Rural Votes, Fertile Soil

My grandfather, a depression-era farmer, knew the value of tending to his seedlings.  For him the seed needed a good beginning: fertile soil, nutrients, good soil tilth and cooperation from from Mother Nature. For the inputs he could control, he was indeed a stubborn steward.  He also had two staunch beliefs: there was no other tractor than a John Deere, and his planter of choice was his red, International Harvester wheat drill. With only an eighth-grade education as his foundation he understood, with great clarity, the value of making prudent investments in labor and inputs. His reward would be a full grainary.

Our children are no different than Granddad's tender wheat sprouts.  Without access to pre-natal care, a stable home, living wages, food security and a solid education there is no amount of money society can invest later in a child's life to successfully fill those voids.  As a fifth-generation Coloradan myself who grew up in the small farming and ranching community of Idalia (pop. 100), I got lucky.  "The Village" made sure we had all that we needed to become productive adults.  In those days our region was aptly-represented by rural titans like Bud Moellenberg and Bev Bledsoe – thoughtful men who not only earned the respect of urban legislators, but understood the important role and contributions of rural Colorado to the state's economy.

They represented the best of the human and political spirit.  

Unfortunately, their style of politics have become extinct.

This election presents us with stark differences between two candidates vying to represent us in the United States Senate.  Only one of those candidate embodies the leadership and vision necessary to achieve the kind of 21st-century rural economy we know is possible.

A decade ago then-Congressman Udall co-chaired the bi-partisan Amendment 37 campaign, an initiative to provide access for  renewable energy in our state grid.  Today, eastern Colorado is the beneficiary of the Senator's vision: nearly $6 billion in wind farms dot the eastern plains.  The Senator is now co-sponsoring a national standard that would deliver billions of dollars in new opportunities to rural areas across the nation.  

When the chips were down and the American Petroleum Institute was waging war on our ethanol industry, the Senator took on the matter and in a letter of praise from the Colorado Corn Growers Association was commended for his role in thwarting Big Oil's efforts.

Congressman Gardner led a fight in the House to remove $40 billion from food assistance, negatively affecting hundreds of thousands of challenged Coloradans. His attempt to gut that program hit a firewall in the Senate, thanks to the vote of Mark Udall.

While Congressman Gardner stood in solidarity with his fellow House members to summarily dismiss a move to increase the national minimum wage to $10.10, Udall faced a Republican filibuster in the Senate.

Congressman Gardner denies that climate change is human-caused. In fact, he has signed a pledge to the Koch Brothers promising Congressional inaction, even though a recent poll shows that fewer than 20% of Coloradans share Gardner's view.  Senator Udall understands the risks of inaction and our opportunity to lead the world in the 3rd Industrial Revolution: Clean Energy.

The difference of opinion between the two magnifies how one candidate champions innovative ideas and prudent public policies that make a difference in the lives of rural Coloradans every day, while other is woefully out-of-step with the needs of his fellow citizens.

Let's aspire to a bumper crop of next-generation Coloradans. This will be a Herculean effort that requires leadership grounded in good public policy. Let's empower communities to develop their energy resources. Let's assure that each and every child is nourished and well-educated.  Let's be fair; no one who works full-time should live in poverty.

The fertile soil awaits.  

Re-elect Senator Mark Udall

 

Heads Up: James O’Keefe Skulking Around In Colorado

James O'Keefe
GOP provacateur James O'Keefe.

We just got a tip that infamous conservative "gotcha game" artist James O'Keefe is on the ground in Colorado, prowling around left-aligned campaign organizations. O'Keefe reportedly showed up at the Fort Collins office of GOTV group New Era Colorado yesterday, and according to the report we got, "tried to force his way in," necessitating a police call. We can't confirm any of those details, but O'Keefe himself was positively ID'ed. We'll update with any additional information we get about that incident.

For those who haven't had the pleasure, James O'Keefe is one of the right wing's most prolific and controversial provacateurs, but he also played a major role in the partisan destruction of the community group ACORN after posing as a pimp and seeking assistance with a hidden camera. Less known is the fact that he was later forced to pay over $100,000 to one of the ACORN workers he selectively edited. O'Keefe later faced charges for attempting to tamper with the phone lines of a U.S. Senator. Most recently, O'Keefe filmed himself crossing the Mexican border wearing an Osama bin Laden Halloween costume, a stunt that resulted in considerably more ridicule than the intended instilling of xenophobic fear.

Anyway, Democratic and otherwise lefty campaign hands across the state, if you see this guy at your office, be advised that he is not there to make you look good.

2010 Redux? Two D-Leaning Polls Give Udall Small Lead

Mark Udall, Cory Gardner.

Mark Udall, Cory Gardner.

The question of whether or not polling of Colorado voters is accurately sampling the 2014 electorate is perhaps the biggest unknown in the current election cycle. In Colorado's U.S. Senate race, polling has shown Republican Cory Gardner with a small but consistent lead since the beginning of October. The Real Clear Politics average of polling in the race as of now shows Gardner ahead by three points.

But is that really what's going on? History says very likely not. Almost exactly four years ago today in October of 2010, a Reuters/Ipsos poll showed then-GOP Senate candidate Ken Buck leading appointed Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet by three points. In fact, every poll taken entirely in the month of October of 2010 showed Ken Buck leading or the race tied. At the end of the race, the RCP average predicted that Ken Buck would win by three points.

Michael Bennet is our junior U.S. Senator. So obviously, the polls were wrong. In the 2010 U.S. Senate race, the polling consistently got the sample of "likely voters" wrong, which proved to be their undoing. Polling underestimated the role of women voters in particular, who went for Bennet by a 17-point margin and in so doing decided the race.

Is it going to happen again? Democrats not prone to spin tell us there's a good chance.

benensoncrosstabs

Two Democratic internal polls made public this weekend, one from the Mellman Group and another from the Benenson Group, both show Udall with a three-point lead over Gardner. Mellman has the race at 44-41%, and Benenson has Udall up 47-44%. Both samples are similar on party breakdown: 38% GOP, 32.5% Democrats, and 29.5% unaffiliated/third party in the Mellman poll, and 38% R, 33% D, 29% U in the Benenson Group poll. The Mellman poll release included no crosstabs, but in the Benenson poll we can see a 17-point lead for Udall with women voters (sound familiar?) and a whopping 22-point lead with Latino voters.

Last week, we discussed the results of a survey of Latino Colorado voters that showed Gardner distantly underwater, by an even greater margin than is shown in this polling. That came just after the lead pollster at SurveyUSA very candidly admitted that his organization and most other pollsters don't know how to properly sample for Latino voters–a critical defect in a state where 21% of the population is Latino. If 2010's experience is any guide, the recent polls showing a paltry lead for Udall with women can straightforwardly be questioned.

Bottom line: these variables are enough to flip the race. Just like 2010. Right out from under the pollsters.

If that doesn't happen, we'll take our lumps. If it does, though, we expect the pollsters to take theirs.

What is Proposition 105?

*Colorado Pols is profiling ballot measures that will appear on the 2014 Colorado statewide ballot. See also:
- What is Amendment 67 in Colorado?
- What is Amendment 68 in Colorado?
- What is Proposition 104 in Colorado?
- What is Proposition 105 in Colorado?
 


Proposition 105 (Colorado)
OFFICIAL TITLE: Mandatory Labeling of GMOs
ALSO KNOWN AS: Stickers on Genetically Modified Foods

 

Official Ballot Language for Proposition 105:
"Shall there be a change to the Colorado Revised Statutes concerning labeling of genetically modified food; and, in connection therewith, requiring food that has been genetically modified or treated with genetically modified material to be labeled, "Produced With Genetic Engineering" starting on July 1, 2016; exempting some foods including but not limited to food from animals that are not genetically modified but have been fed or injected with genetically modified food or drugs, certain food that is not packaged for retail sale and is intended for immediate human consumption, alcoholic beverages, food for animals, and medically prescribed food; requiring the Colorado department of public health and environment to regulate the labeling of genetically modified food; and specifying that no private right of action is created for failure to conform to the labeling requirements?”

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Hulu rejects anti-personhood ad featuring rape victim

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

One of the Vote No 67 Campaign advertisements has been rejected by Hulu, the online streaming video service.

“According to our advertising bylaws, we are not able to accept ‘ads that advocate a controversial political or other public position,” wrote a Hulu ad representative to the Vote No on 67 Campaign.

“I was on my daily run when I was attacked, and beaten and raped,” says “Amanda” in the rejected ad. “What I’ve been through is one of the many reasons I oppose Amendment 67. When I was at the hospital, I was offered emergency contraception. Amendment 67 could ban abortion and emergency contraception, even in cases of rape or incest. Of course, we all want to protect pregnant women, but Amendment 67 isn’t the way.”

Trouble is, this ad is factual, and Hulu has been running spots on numerous other political issues.

I contacted Hulu seeking an explanation for why this ad is unacceptable and will update this post when I hear back.

Amendment 67 is the “personhood” amendment on this year’s election ballot.

What is Proposition 104?

*Colorado Pols is profiling ballot measures that will appear on the 2014 Colorado statewide ballot. See also:
- What is Amendment 67 in Colorado?
- What is Amendment 68 in Colorado?
- What is Proposition 104 in Colorado?
- What is Proposition 105 in Colorado?
 


Proposition 104 (Colorado)
OFFICIAL TITLE: School Board Open Meetings
ALSO KNOWN AS: "Proposition 104"…There is Very Little Buzz Either Way Here

 

Official Ballot Language for Proposition 104:
"Shall there be a change to the Colorado Revised Statutes requiring any meeting of a board of education, or any meeting between any representative of a school district and any representative of employees, at which a collective bargaining agreement is discussed to be open to the public?”

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Investigating Miscarriages? It’s Baked In The Personhood Cake

Tim Neville.

Tim Neville.

9NEWS' Steve Staeger has an interesting story up about a mailer hitting SD-16 Republican Senate candidate Tim Neville on his longstanding (and as far as we know, ongoing) support for the Colorado Personhood abortion ban amendments. As has emerged as a major controversy in Colorado's U.S. Senate race this year, the language in the Personhood measures conferring rights from "the moment of fertilization" could have a broad range of consequences, including outlawing common forms of so-called "abortifacient" birth control.

And as the mailer in question from Mainstream Colorado explains to SD-16 voters, Personhood could do something else, too:

The mailer, sent to women in the 16th State Senate District, claims Tim Neville supports a plan that could allow the government to investigate women who have suffered a miscarriage.

"Why would anyone in their right mind try to do something like that," Neville responded to the ad…

"We know that Tim Neville has supported personhood measures in the past," said Cathy Alderman, VP of public affairs for Planned Parenthood Votes Colorado.

Alderman says personhood measures can lead to investigations into miscarriages by police or district attorneys.

"If a woman were to lose that pregnancy or choose to terminate that pregnancy that is then determined to be the death of a person, and so any actions she takes in regards to that pregnancy could be investigated as a potential felony or a manslaughter claim," she said. [Pols emphasis]

Alderman admits the bill does not specifically allow investigations into miscarriages, as the ad seems to claim…

That's technically true. As we've noted repeatedly, the Personhood abortion ban amendments that Colorado voters have rejected over and over are very short–one or two sentences defining unborn as persons with rights from "the moment of fertilization." But as experts, fact checkers, and even the proponents of the Personhood measures agree, those words would have very broad effects: outlawing all abortions including in cases of rape or incest, and even outlawing birth control that would have the effect of "killing" a fertilized egg.

It is precisely those "penumbral" conseqeunces of Personhood that led Cory Gardner to publicly abandon support for the measures soon after entering the U.S. Senate race. The exact interpretation of the law if passed would be hashed out by the courts and enabling legislation, but it's the very same language granting rights from "the moment of fertilization" that creates the potential for a ban on "abortifacient" birth control–and yes, even criminal investigations of miscarriages.

In Wednesday's U.S. Senate debate, moderator Kyle Clark coolly informed Gardner that "we will not debate" the effects of his federal Life at Conception Act–Gardner's federal Personhood bill with the same "moment of fertilization" language that opens the door to the measure's worst hypothetical effects. Meaning that for the purposes of that debate, Clark was not interested in hearing diversionary arguments that conflict with the plain and very simple language of the bill.

Well, folks, if it's true for Cory Gardner, it's true for Tim Neville too.

Fact Check: Gardner voted for the government shutdown

(The con is full-on - Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Rep. Cory Gardner (R).

Rep. Cory Gardner (R).

Colorado senatorial candidate Cory Gardner took his falsehoods about the government shutdown to a new level this week when he told PBS’ Guen Ifill:

Gardner: “I voted for every measure that would have avoided the shutdown. I supported efforts during it to make sure we were finding ways not only to get out of the immediate situation but to make sure that we develop long-term solutions."

That's the kind of rotten information journalists should correct before it's too late. Everyone who follows this issue at all knows that Gardner voted with fellow Republicans to shut down the government in an effort to kill Obamacare. Gardner was fully behind using the threat of a government shutdown as leverage to try to de-fund the health-care law. As Gardner told KOA Radio's Mike Rosen in August: "I believe that we don’t need to shut down the government because we ought to just lift this health-care bill out of the way and let America work." As part of a fact-check of a recent ad, 9News political reporter Brandon Rittiman explained how Gardner's votes led to the shutdown, just after Colorado's horrific floods:

Gardner did vote in line with the Republican strategy that led to the government shutdown. That didn't happen by passing a bill to shut it down… Those votes were Republican spending packages, which passed the House. They would have funded the government, but also contained language aimed at curbing Obamacare. For that reason, the president made it clear he wouldn't sign that bill, which had no chance of passing the Senate regardless. Republicans knew they could cause a shutdown by forcing the healthcare issue to be part of the discussion about keeping the government open. However, it takes two to tango, and the Democrats didn't want to mix the ACA into the spending debate. It would have been possible to accept the GOP plan and avoid a shutdown. Whether it was fair to bundle those concepts is the core of the debate.

Against after reading that, even if you're on Gardner's side and you wanted to force Obama to de-fund the health-care law, is there any way you could claim, as Gardner did, that he voted for "every measure that would have avoided the shutdown?" Not.

Gardner’s Democratic Past Comes Back To Bite Him

Cory Gardner.

Cory Gardner.

The Denver Post's Lynn Bartels catches Republican U.S. Senate candidate Cory Gardner in yet another…well, if it's not a straight-up lie, we'll be very surprised. Following up on this week's pivotal 9NEWS debate:

Republican Senate hopeful Cory Gardner can’t recall voting for a single Democrat although he was one for eight years.

Yuma County election records show Gardner registered as a Democrat in 1992 and switched his voter registration in 2000 to Republican. If, indeed, he never voted for a Democrat that means Gardner:

* Didn’t vote for Democratic Gov. Roy Romer’s re-election bid in 1994 although Gardner has said one of his proudest moments as a Yuma High School student (which was not his football career, obviously) was getting the governor to come talk to students in 1992 about the lack of education funding for rural schools. A photo in the Yuma Pioneer of the event begins with “Future politician?” in reference to the junior’s successful effort in attracting attention to the situation.

* Didn’t vote for former Fort Collins Mayor Susan Kirkpatrick for Congress in 1998, although he seconded her nomination at the Democratic 4th Congressional District assembly that year. Kirkpatrick said never at any time during that election did he indicate he was no longer backing her…

During Wednesday's debate, Gardner was asked to name a Democrat–any Democrat–that he had ever voted for. This seemed to us like a tremendous softball for the former Democrat, a low bar to validating his supposed willingness to "reach across the aisle" that has been a cornerstone of his new image. You may have noticed that a considerable investment has been made in remaking Gardner from a safe-seat "Tea Party" darling into a "moderate" electable statewide in Colorado.

And he blew this golden opportunity.

Earlier in the day on Wednesday, a story from highly trafficked national online news site Deadspin exploded on social media, featuring quotes from a local source claiming that Cory Gardner had never played high school football despite his claims otherwise on the campaign trail. It was pretty quickly determined that the story was incorrect after Gardner's campaign Tweeted photos of Gardner in his Yuma High School football uniform, and soon the original source had retracted his quotes. The story was wrong, but one of the reasons it caught fire so quickly was how plausible it seemed. Much like Paul Ryan's infamous marathon and 14er-climbing controversies in 2012, it's just really easy to believe the idea that Gardner is lying. Because he lies a lot.

In this case, he almost certainly did lie, because he was an active Democrat for years before, as he told the Post, "I realized the Democratic Party doesn’t represent me or my values or what I believe this country to be." That, or he realized it's kind of hard for Democrats to get elected in Yuma? Either way, now that he's made the deliberate choice to lie about it, it reinforces a much broader narrative: how you can't trust Cory Gardner.

Republicans Remind You: Walker Stapleton Rarely Shows Up for Work

On Tuesday we discussed the first TV ad from Democrat Betsy Markey in her race to unseat Republican Treasurer Walker Stapleton. The ad, which you can view again after the jump, doesn't waste time in getting to the point: Stapleton doesn't appear to spend much time on the job he was elected to do.

Based on data gleaned from an Open Records request of Stapleton's state-appointed key card (which he needs to enter the State Capitol), there are probably tour guides who spend more time in the building than Stapleton himself. As the script for the ad explains:

At best…it’s inexcusable.

At worst…it’s a scandal. State Treasurer Walker Stapleton.

Official key-card records from his Denver office confirm…

Stapleton only bothers showing up at his office around ten days a month.

Often, skipping the office for weeks at a time.

Or only showing up after three P.M.

This is a pretty straightforward ad that is hard for Stapleton's campaign to fully refute, though Stapleton's spokesperson, Michael Fortney, tried lamely to defend his boss when questioned by Denver Post reporter Lynn Bartels. According to Fortney, Stapleton often forgets his key card, and when he does, he just enters the capitol through the public entrance.

But what about the days in which Stapleton's "key card" doesn't show up at the office until after 3:00 pm? Does his wife drop off the key card when he goes out for an afternoon snack? Or was he really just not in the building until the late afternoon?

You can see why this is a tricky problem. Stapleton's campaign is apparently worried about the effect that Markey's ad may be having with voters, because Republicans are spending an inordinate amount of time trying to explain away the mystery of the key card. Why else would you intentionally bring up the same TV ad — exposing its message to more voters — unless you felt the extra exposure was necessary in order to try to refute the message? We wouldn't want to be drawing more attention to a strong attack ad (particularly when Markey doesn't have millions of dollars for an ad buy), but then we're not Republican Rep. Frank McNulty and the Republican group "Reveal Politics."

Take it away, Frank and friends:

So…does McNulty just hang around outside every day waiting for Stapleton to show up for work?

We're joking — we know that's not the point they are trying to make here, but was this really worth bringing up Markey's ad once again? What do you think? You can watch that ad again after the jump:

 

 

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In pivotal election year, Colorado Students Considering Recall of Conservative School Board Members

The bold protest of Jefferson County, Colorado students to the actions of the conservative majority on the Jefferson County School Board in Colorado has already drawn national and international press.

Yet the school board is still proceeding with a curriculum review committee that would not just examine AP History, but would have the ability to review and change many courses, including English, Health, and Science. Organizations funded by the Koch brothers support such candidates, and would benefit from curriculum that not only promotes what the Board is considering ‘American Exceptionalism’ but also avoids questions related to Global Warming or Climate Change.

But this goes deeper — this could threaten critical thinking in the classroom.

This could not only impact Jefferson County students, but could affect all students in the country.

On October 11, 2014 students held a rally at Clement Park in Littleton, Colorado — adjacent to Columbine High School. There, they began collecting names for a potential recall.

Ashlyn Maher, Thomas Sizemore and Mali Holmes

“We are not a political agenda, and we’re not a profit margin; we are students that need to be educated.”

This issue is not just important for Colorado, but the nation. If anything the Koch Brothers have shown us, is that once they have succeeded with a conservative agenda, they will replicate that agenda everywhere they can.

There is a saying in Colorado elections, as Jefferson County goes, so goes Colorado.
Jefferson County is the biggest county and usually its voters are the pivotal votes in a statewide election. With Ballots going out as of this week – how will the extreme actions of the School Board impact the races for Governor and the even the US Senate?
And will that also be a referendum on the conservative effort to white wash our History and censor our Public Education curriculum?
Here is the extended rally video — where Colorado’s Lieutenant Governor (who is also an educator), Joe Garcia, dropped by to lend his support for the students.

From Mali Holmes — student from Evergreen High School:

Since our protest began, we’ve been featured in the Huffington Post, USA Today, and the New York Times. We’ve been covered by the Guardian and other International news outlets.

America is listening. We won’t be taken down so easily. Like pawns, the students are on the front lines of this issue. We will stand together and fight until we win this battle.
We will be the ones to call ‘Checkmate‘.

Professor Chad Kautzer of University of Colorado at Denver:

I just have one thing to say to (the Jefferson County Majority)
RESIGN. (Cheers)

I have a feeling if they don’t resign, the people of Jefferson County will push them out.
Because they are an embarrassment to Jefferson County, they are an embarrassment to Colorado, they are an embarrassment to our Country and they need to go.

Everything bad in American History has been coupled with social struggles and these are the people that we need to read about, that we have to learn about, and we need to honor that history.

Rachel Hillbrecht of Golden High School:

We will not cut out History. We will not cut out Science classes. We need to know the truth every single piece of it!

Casey McAndrew:

The Jeffco School Board of Education has failed to do the single most important thing that any elected board has to do – to listen to its people.

We will not be censored. People did not die so that they could be erased. Jefferson County will not be erased. WE will stand together.

Lt. Governor Joe Garcia:

In high school, I had the opportunity to take AP History. In college, I had the opportunity to take Ethnic Studies. Those classes did not make us hate each other. They did not make us hate America. They made us hate oppression and injustice.

The students have given me hope and inspiration. Because these high school students now represent potentially a four-year block of students — from Freshman to Senior — that will associate the most important social education protest of their lives with Republican over-reach.
If you have been so inspired, then I will share with you this message from a parent of one of the students – a request.

“Recalls are expensive, right now, the Students don’t know if there is enough support from the community to go ahead with the effort. But maybe someone who reads your article might know someone like Matt Damon or Diane Ravitch or some other well connected person who would be willing to get behind the students with this effort.”

If you do now someone or feel this effort is worth supporting, please visit Jeffco Students for Change and like their page – let them know that they do have support for this effort.
Thanks also to Redfoxrun and to From Thin Air
who performed live at the event at Clement Park.