Chuck Plunkett and the First Rule of Holes

Chuck Plunkett holes

Chuck Plunkett hopes to escape this hole by digging furiously.

Denver Post Politics Editor Chuck Plunkett has obviously never heard about the number one rule of holes: STOP DIGGING!

Yesterday we followed a rather bizarre decision by Plunkett to remove a story posted to the newspaper's political blog "The Spot." Plunkett took down a story about Republican Congressman Mike Coffman written by reporter Kurtis Lee (you can read about that original post here) that had appeared earlier in the day. Plunkett then offered up a rambling blog post of his own in an effort to explain his decision…which made absolutely no sense.

Well, on Thursday afternoon, Plunkett doubled-down on his own defense with an even more confusion explanation of his other explanation. Only in this explanation, Plunkett concludes with a convincing argument for why the story should have never been removed in the first place (which was clearly not his intention, but, whatever). Here's the lede of Plunkett's post this afternoon, titled, "No Facts Hidden from Mike Coffman Story."

On Wednesday I published a post on this site that meant to explain why a story about Mike Coffman’s views on personhood and abortion was taken off The Denver Post’s online edition the night before.

A day later I see that some are suggesting that the story has somehow been suppressed.

I submit that this is not accurate.

My blog post on Wednesday was written and published to provide the central facts that had been in the story that I had taken down. I provided these facts in the context that I felt the story lacked.

We'd like to give Plunkett the benefit of the doubt here, but it speaks volumes about his decision when he feels compelled to write two separate blog posts about why he pulled a story after it appeared online — and then titles it, "No Facts Hidden." This is sort of like a little kid standing over a mess on the floor saying, "I didn't do it" even before you had a chance to ask.

Kurtis Lee's original story featured a new quote from Coffman about Personhood (namely, Coffman's reasoning behind his recent flip-flop on the issue), but Plunkett says he pulled the story in part because it didn't include the proper "context" — namely, that it failed to mention that Coffman's office issued a press release last summer in regards to H.R. 1797, which dealt with allowing exceptions for abortion in the case of rape or incest. This is an odd point for Plunkett to make, because Lee's story did mention Coffman's statement last summer. As we wrote Wednesday:

This explanation is strange to say the least, since the story by reporter Kurtis Lee (now deleted) does refer to Coffman's 2013 vote for H.R. 1797:

Over the weekend, in a brief interview at the state GOP assembly, Coffman broadened his position on abortion, saying he now supports it in cases of rape and incest — a position he did not voice in 2012, when he supported abortions only to protect the life of the mother. In 2013, Coffman backed a House bill and noted his support for exceptions in the case of rape and incest. [Pols emphasis]

We also took note of Coffman's June 2013 vote for a late term abortion ban when it happened, and how it represented a marked shift from his prior opposition to all abortions, even in cases of rape or incest. This is not new information, and nothing in Lee's now-removed story is invalidated by this detail. Coffman previously supported banning abortion even in cases of rape or incest, and now he doesn't. That's the story.

Now, back to Plunkett's 2nd explanation ("No Facts Hidden from Mike Coffman Story") that appeared Thursday afternoon. Here's how he ends his 2nd explanation for removing the original story:

I’ve talked to some reasonable people who said they thought the Coffman quote that appeared in the online story was worth having on the record.

I agree with that point, so I provide this information from the story.

In our interview with Coffman on Saturday, we asked about his change of positions on personhood in 2012.

Coffman that year told The Post he would not be “endorsing nor opposing any state or local ballot questions.”

When asked Saturday to elaborate on why his position on personhood had changed, Coffman said: “There are parts of it that are simply unintended. … I think it’s too overbroad and that the voters have spoken.”

This year, Coffman said he’s opposed to Amendment 67, which defines an unborn child as a human being in the Colorado criminal code.

Coffman said there is no language he would change in the ballot initiative that would make him support it.

Whaaaaaaattt??? The original story was pulled because it didn't include something that it really did include, and by the way, here's why the story that I removed was actually important.

Plunkett obviously wants to convince Denver Post readers that he did not pull Kurtis Lee's story in order to be helpful to Congressman Coffman — that this was all about good journalism or something. Maybe that's true, but there's one person who is primarly responsible for making people think something funny is going on:

His name is Chuck Plunkett.

 

Faced With Catholic/GOP Uprising, Dems Kill Pro-Choice Bill

Protesters against SB-175 Tuesday. Photo credit: Peter Zelasko, Catholic News Agency

Protesters against SB-175 Tuesday. Photo credit: Peter Zelasko, Catholic News Agency

The Denver Post's Kurtis Lee reports on drama yesterday in the Colorado Senate over Senate Bill 14-175, the Reproductive Health Freedom Act. After several days of intense controversy, what was once an important bill for at least some Democrats to close out this year's legislative session is now dead–and the finger-pointing is well underway:

Rather than battle Republicans over a proposal they stressed would help protect reproductive rights, Senate Democrats on Wednesday spiked the legislation — a move that drew applause from some religious groups packed into the chamber's gallery who strongly opposed it…

All Senate Republicans, alongside the Archdiocese of Denver, denounced the legislation as "overreaching" and "ambiguous," saying the measure was not needed.

"It's a solution in search of a problem," said Sen. Bernie Herpin, R-Colorado Springs. "There is no one, no evidence, that has said there's a denial of things like contraception to women in Colorado."

Sen. Andy Kerr, D-Lakewood, who sponsored the measure, said he carried it because constituents expressed at town halls and forums concerns over efforts in other states to make it more difficult for women to seek guidance on abortions and receive common forms of contraception.

From Senate President Morgan Carroll's statement after Senate Bill 175 was killed:

We were optimistic that the Republicans would come on board with a proposal that would ensure all women are able to make private and personal reproductive health decisions with freedom from government interference. But we are disappointed that we were unable to get bi-partisan support to acknowledge and uphold the values of the majority of Coloradans.
 
With 21 days left in the legislative session and 269 bills still pending, having a GOP filibuster would bring D.C. style dysfunction to Colorado.  We have made our point and in the interest of getting the remaining work done, on education, jobs, higher education affordability and childcare, we laid the bill over. 
 
We will continue to fight against attacks on women and their private healthcare decisions and uphold the values of Colorado women and families.

On the other side, here's the story as told by the Catholic News Agency:

Amid growing protests led in large part by the Catholic Church, the Colorado Senate on April 16 killed a controversial bill that could have banned all pro-life laws in the state…

Originally introduced March 31, the controversial bill – S.B. 175 – only gained wide publicity last week. It sought to ban all new pro-life laws and regulations, including requirements for pre-abortion ultrasounds and restrictions on the RU-486 abortion drug.

With the bill now dead, there are reporters and Republicans who say this was a "quixotic effort"–but clearly the bill's religious opponents didn't agree while they massed crowds at the Capitol to oppose it. Proponents point to new restrictions on abortion being passed around the nation, as well as other so-called "pre-emptive" bills, like a bill signed in Oklahoma just this week that pre-emptively bans future minimum wage increases and paid sick day laws, to justify both the intent and functional precedent for the Reproductive Health Freedom Act.

It's our understanding and has been reported, though victorious Republicans deny it today, that threats were leveled by the Senate Minority to bring the entire chamber to a halt for the rest of the legislative session if Senate Bill 175 passed–which could have endangered dozens of important bills. The fact is, Democrats are on solid ground, given the polling on the abortion issue and the overwhelming defeat of abortion ban initiatives in Colorado, pushing a bill to affirmatively protect reproductive choice rights. For that reason alone, predictions that the defeat of Senate Bill 175 has major ramifications seem overblown–certainly not to the degree that Republicans harmed themselves by killing the popular civil unions bill two years ago. In the eyes of voters, questions about efficacy and timing aside, Democrats were on the right side of the issue.

If anything? If you have to take on the Catholic Church, Holy Week might not be the best timing…

It Would Be Difficult to be a Worse Politician than Doug Lamborn

Doug Lamborn (R).

Rep. Doug Lamborn must work harder in order to do the minimum.

Fundraising reports for the first quarter of 2014 became available this week, and Colorado's own Rep. Doug Lamborn has reached a new pinnacle of shittiness: No incumbent Member of Congress raised less money than Lamborn in the first three months of the year. Nobody. In the entire United States.

Lamborn raised a grand total of $38,253 in Q1, an amount so miniscule that the four-term Congressman had to loan his campaign $100,000. As Megan Schrader of the Colorado Springs Gazette reported on April 15:

Lamborn was forced into an unexpected primary last week when Republican challenger Bentley Rayburn won support from enough state delegates to get his name on the June 24 primary ballot.

Rayburn, who entered the race late, won't be required to file a quarterly report showing his campaign finances to the Federal Elections Commission until after the primary election. Rayburn said he'll begin filing his official candidate paperwork in late May.

In the meantime, Lamborn may also be feeling pressure from Democratic candidate Irv Halter, a retired Air Force major general, who last quarter brought in $165,095 in contributions and had $217,432 cash on hand at the end of March. Records indicate Halter has given himself about $32,000 since he entered the race.

We've been wondering aloud if 2014 might be the year that Lamborn's overall ineptitude (both as a candidate and a Congressman) catches up to him. Lamborn has survived challenges from the right, left, and everywhere between since he was first elected in 2006, so perhaps it is hard for him to really gear up for election season. But there is no reason for Lamborn to be this bad at raising money — so bad that he has to guarantee a $100,000 loan to his own campaign. Keep in mind here that Lamborn is not independently wealthy, so a $100k loan is a very real amount of money for him that is a bit of a risk; if Lamborn doesn't win the June Primary, he's going to have a hell of a time trying to convince anyone to give him donations to help pay off his campaign debt. All of this could have been avoided had Lamborn just taken a little time each quarter to raise money and build up a modest warchest larger than the $123,000 he had in the bank before his loan.

Maybe Lamborn defeats Rayburn and holds off Democrat Irv Halter to win re-election in November. But what Lamborn is doing is exactly how an incumbent ends up losing an otherwise safe seat.

It only requires a little bit of effort to maintain your hold on a district like CD-5. Lamborn has yet to reach that minimum.

LCV Hits Gardner With $1 Million Ad Campaign

UPDATE: The Denver Post's Kurtis Lee has a response from Republican Cory Gardner's campaign:

“The League of Conservation Voters (LCV) is an extreme anti-fracking group that works every day to attack Colorado’s energy economy and calls Senator Udall one of their ‘staunchest allies in the U.S. Senate.’ While Senator Udall says he is a ‘champion of natural gas,’ the LCV has called this resource ‘dirty energy,’ said Alex Siciliano, Gardner’s spokesman. “If Senator Udall and the LCV had their way, Colorado would lose tens of thousands of jobs, and working families across the state would see huge increases in their energy bills. The LCV and Mark Udall are out of touch with Colorado’s economy and energy resources.”

—–

From a League of Conservation Voters release today, a big media buy hitting GOP U.S. Senate candidate Cory Gardner on his environmental record:

The League of Conservation Voters (LCV) today announced that they’ve added Congressman Cory Gardner to their Dirty Dozen program and kicked off a $1 million television ad campaign highlighting his Big Oil ties. The first ad, “Wrong Way,” reminds Colorado voters that Gardner has taken more than $450,000 in contributions from the oil and gas industry while repeatedly voting to protect their tax breaks, subsidies and giveaways. It begins airing this week in the Denver media market. 

“It’s no surprise that corporate polluters are already trying to buy climate change denier Cory Gardner a Senate seat in November. Cory Gardner has repeatedly helped Big Oil avoid paying their fair share while taking contributions from them hand over fist,” said Gene Karpinski, President of the League of Conservation Voters.

“Cory Gardner’s extreme agenda may work for his special interest allies, but it’s the wrong path for Colorado. With Cory Gardner, Big Oil wins and Colorado families lose,” said Pete Maysmith, Executive Director of Conservation Colorado.

The ad highlights that Gardner has repeatedly sided with Big Oil by voting against eliminating billions of dollars in taxpayer subsidies to the nation’s most profitable oil companies. Gardner also voted for the extreme fiscal year 2012 Ryan budget, which would retain $40 billion in oil subsidies, and even signed a pledge that would protect billions in Big Oil subsidies. Gardner’s votes have come at a time of record profits for the oil and gas industry. Documentation for the ad can be found here.

Eight reasons why a Denver Post reporter’s scrubbed blog post was newsworthy and should be re-posted on Post’s website

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Here are eight reasons why Denver Post reporter Kurtis Lee's blog post, quoting Rep. Mike Coffman about personhood and abortion-for-rape-and-incest, was newsworthy and should not have been deleted from The Post's website.

1. It was news! The core of Denver Post Politics Editor Chuck Plunkett's written explanation for scrubbing the piece is that it was basically old news. But Lee's piece advanced our understanding of Coffman's thinking both on the personhood amendment (he opposes it under any circumstances; see number four below.) and on abortion-for-rape-and-incest (he supports it beyond his previous narrow support of it in a specific piece of legislation; see number three.)

2. It was the first time Coffman made a public statement himself about un-endorsing the personhood amendment and withdrawing his longstanding opposition to abortion-for-rape-and-incest. These are major flips, and journalism is all about providing a record of actual statements by public officials, not their mouthpieces.

3. Lee's deleted piece, for the first time, informed the public that Coffman has completely changed a long-held position and now broadly favors allowing a woman raped by her father to have an abortion. Last year, as Lee noted in his piece, Coffman supported a provision in a bill allowing abortion for rape and incest. But this anti-choice bill focused narrowly on banning abortions 20 weeks after fertilization, and no news outlets covered Coffman's position. It was completely unknown, until Lee asked Coffman about it, if Coffman favors broad rape-and-incest exceptions to his overall extreme opposition to abortion. It turns out his flip was complete. So Lee's headline for his post reflected actual news: "Mike Coffman adjusts abortion stance in cases of rape and incest."

4. Lee's deleted piece reported, for the first time, that Coffman is opposed to any version of the personhood amendment, even of it were narrowed. In his deleted piece. Lee reported that "Coffman said there is no language he would change in the ballot initiative that would make him support it." This advances Lee's March 25 story, which quoted Coffman's spokesperson, Tyler Sandberg, as saying only that Coffman did not support the personhood amendment in 2012 or this year, and the matter is settled because voters rejected it (not that Coffman's thinking had changed).

(more…)

Thursday Open Thread

"Delay always breeds danger; and to protract a great design is often to ruin it."

–Miguel de Cervantes

Denver Post Pulls Story with Coffman Interview on Personhood

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

POLS UPDATE: In a very unusual development, the story referred to in the blog post below has been taken down by Denver Post politics editor Chuck Plunkett. In a post this afternoon on The Spot blog, Plunkett explains:

Tuesday night I pulled a story from The Denver Post’s online edition that had been up for several minutes. The story dealt with the abortion stances of Colorado Congressman Mike Coffman.

It shouldn’t have run. I had it taken down because a key piece of information that came to us late contradicted the original point of pursuing the story…

[T]he story launched with an important fact that I had not been privy too. That fact is that on June 18, 2013, Coffman’s office issued this statement in a press release available also to the public on his congressional webpage that clearly complicated my earlier understanding of our story.

“I voted today in favor of H.R. 1797 to limit late term abortion,” Coffman said in the statement. “I strongly support the exceptions for rape, incest, and protecting the life of the mother that have been included in this legislation.”

Had I known about that public statement, my news judgment would have been different.

This explanation is strange to say the least, since the story by reporter Kurtis Lee (now deleted) does refer to Coffman's 2013 vote for H.R. 1797:

Over the weekend, in a brief interview at the state GOP assembly, Coffman broadened his position on abortion, saying he now supports it in cases of rape and incest — a position he did not voice in 2012, when he supported abortions only to protect the life of the mother. In 2013, Coffman backed a House bill and noted his support for exceptions in the case of rape and incest. [Pols emphasis]

We also took note Coffman's June 2013 vote for a late term abortion ban when it happened, and how it represented a marked shift from his prior opposition to all abortions, even in cases of rape or incest. This is not new information, and nothing in Lee's now-removed story is invalidated by this detail. Coffman previously supported banning abortion even in cases of rape or incest, and now he doesn't. That's the story.

We do not understand Plunkett's reasoning here at all–unless he simply, in his capacity as political news editor of the Denver Post, did a favor for Mike Coffman. Needless to say, that would be a big problem.

If so, it was also a big mistake, because now he has drawn even more attention to the real story here.

Original post follows.

—–

Mike Coffman.

Mike Coffman.

The Denver Post's Kurtis Lee has done what no other reporter in Colorado could manage to do for three long weeks since Rep. Mike Coffman's spokesperson sort of told Lee that Coffman had un-endorsed the personhood amendment–sort of because it hasn't been clear if Coffman opposes personhood per se, or just the amendment.

And, after reading Coffman's comments to Lee, it's still not clear, though it appear Coffman still supports the personhood concept, at least to some degree, but not the amendment.

Lee tracked down Coffman at last weekend's Republican assembly and asked him to confirm his new-found opposition to the personhood amendment and to explain why his stance had changed:

Coffman: "There are parts of it that are unintended. … I think it's too overbroad and that the voters have spoken."

Lee noted that Coffman received high praise from personhood organizers in the past. (It's true, plus personhood supporters don't point to any elements of their amendment that are unintended, and Coffman didn't point out any unintended consequence less than two years ago, when he was last lauded by personhood organizers.)

Lee also asked Coffman whether he opposes abortion, even in the case of rape and incest. Coffman has never personally backtracked from his steadfast opposition to abortion under these circumstances.

In fact, Coffman went out of his way in the past to underline his opposition to rape-and-incest exceptions.

But he told Lee that he now supports abortion for rape or incest victims, putting an exclamation point on an about-face that started last year when, as Lee points out, his office put out a statement saying Coffman supported such exceptions in a House bill. Still, this is the first time Coffman has talked about his flip himself.

Lee described his Coffman interview as "brief," and there are still big questions hanging out there for the next reporter that manages to snag Coffman. These include: What is Coffman's current abortion stance, beyond being "pro-life?" Does he support Roe v. Wade? Does he support the personhood concept? If he still believes life begins at the zygote (fertilized eggs) stage. Does he oppose forms of birth control, like IUDs, that threaten zygotes?

The headline of Lee's article reads, "Mike Coffman adjusts abortion stance in cases of rape and incest." Trouble is, we still don't know what his abortion stance is, except he opposes a women's right to choose pretty much all the time.

“Both Ways Bob” Makes The Ballot–Barely

UPDATE: FOX 31's Eli Stokols:

Beauprez, who had just three weeks to get the 10,500 signatures required to make the ballot after entering the governor’s race in late February, initially appeared to have fallen just short, despite spending upwards of $200,000 on the petition collection effort. The Secretary of State’s office decided to do an additional review late Tuesday and found that Beauprez had enough valid signatures after all.

Secretary of State Scott Gessler, who is running for governor himself, was “walled off” from the certification process, but sources indicate there was consternation within the office about the “optics” of Gessler’s office ruling Beauprez’s signatures insufficient to make the ballot and an intense effort to ensure that the petition review process was accurate…

To collect enough signatures in just three weeks, Beauprez spent around $250,000, according to those close to his campaign.

Other sources, however, indicated that the total expense may have been closer to $300,000.

—–

Bob Beauprez.

Bob Beauprez.

A press release from Colorado Secretary of State Scott Gessler's office confirms, failed 2006 gubernatorial candidate Bob Beauprez has qualified for the 2014 Republican primary ballot:

Today Deputy Secretary of State Suzanne Staiert announced Bob Beauprez’s petition to appear on the Republican primary ballot for governor was found sufficient as required by statute. Primary Election Day is June 24. 

On March 31, 2014, Beauprez submitted 23,000 petition signatures to the Secretary of State. The Secretary of State’s office began a line-by-line review of the signatures. Beauprez was required to gather 1,500 valid signatures from each of Colorado’s seven congressional districts for a total of 10,500 valid signatures.

Secretary of State Scott Gessler formally delegated authority over the petition verification process to Deputy Secretary Staiert.

Of the roughly 23,000 signatures submitted by Beauprez's campaign, only 12,209 were deemed valid, with a whopping 10,791 signatures thrown out. In addition to the total number of signatures, candidates are required to turn in at least 1,500 signatures from each of the state's seven congressional districts. In CD-1, a total of 1,524 signatures were validated–a perilously thin margin.

By contrast, Tom Tancredo turned in fewer gross signatures than Beauprez, but made the ballot with room to spare and a far higher validity rate. This is attributable to the "Pueblo model" petition campaign his volunteers and paid operatives conducted, drawing on the experience gained in the Senate District 3 recall election where petition signers were cross-checked in real time against the Secretary of State's list of registered voters.

Rumors are widespread that Beauprez paid an absolutely confiscatory rate per signature to make the ballot, as much as $18 dollars per signature or more. If that's true, we would hope that he's only paying for valid signatures, because it's clear that his paid gatherers were signing up anyone they could without any meaningful screening. Either way, you'd think the embarrassment of having almost half of your signatures deemed invalid would motivate petition gatherers to adopt the Pueblo model.

But that's Bob Beauprez, folks. Always a little behind the curve.

Not From Metro Denver? It May Not Be Possible to Win a Statewide Race

Some Colorado politicos were surprised when state Sen. Greg Brophy failed to generate enough support to make the Republican ballot for Governor last weekend, but it makes plenty of sense when you consider recent electoral history in our state. Brophy hails from Yuma County in Eastern Colorado, an area that is home to only about 10,000 residents. Brophy may have had the support of Republican delegates from Yu18 years in Coloradoma County, but that number would be just a fraction of the votes he needed at the GOP State Convention.

Congressman Cory Gardner, the GOP nominee for U.S. Senate, is also from the Yuma area. Gardner succeeded Brophy in the State House when the latter was appointed to the State Senate in 2005. Gardner had no trouble winning the GOP nomination for Senate last weekend, primarily because he did not face the same crowded field of gubernatorial candidates that stood in front of Brophy. But Gardner still needs to figure out how to solve what we’ll call his “Yuma Problem” if he hopes to win a General Election matchup with Senator Mark Udall…and history is not on Gardner’s side.

The last time Colorado voters elected a statewide candidate who did not hail from the Front Range of Colorado? That was in 1996, when Loveland-based Rep. Wayne Allard was first elected to the U.S. Senate (Loveland was much smaller in 1996 than it is today — the population has doubled since the 1990 census).

Cory Gardner, Bob Schaffer.

Can Cory Gardner (left) break a trend that former CD-4 Rep. Bob Schaffer could not?

It has been 18 years since Colorado voters last elected a non-incumbent candidate who did not have roots along the Front Range, and particularly, the Denver Metro area.

Check out the numbers from the 2012 election, when a total of 2,584,719 ballots were cast in the race for President. Nearly 80% of those votes came from the Front Range of Colorado, between Ft. Collins and Pueblo. More than 1 million votes were cast in just four Denver Metro counties: Adams, Arapahoe, Denver, and Jefferson.

There was a time in Colorado when grizzled political veterans of any political party agreed on one thing: That a Denver-based politician could never win a statewide office. That old yarn was repeated as recently as 2006, finally dying out for good when former Denver District Attorney Bill Ritter was elected Governor.

Population shifts in Colorado over the past 20 years have dramatically altered the landscape of statewide politics, to the point where the old saying about Denver politicians has been flipped on its head. In fact, it may no longer even be possible to win a statewide race if the candidate is not from the Denver Metro area – or at the very least, from somewhere along the Front Range.

With so many media outlets concentrated on the Denver Metro area, local politicians have a significant advantage when it comes to earned media and building name recognition. It’s difficult for a rural Congressman such as Gardner to generate name ID when the Greeley Tribune is the largest media outlet in his district.

You’ll hear a lot of different statistics and historical patterns around the 2014 election, including predictions based on how candidates typically fare in the 6th year of a Presidency. But this Colorado pattern is more than a trend – it represents a fundamental shift in the electorate that would be difficult for any candidate to overcome. Check out our graphic of all statewide candidates since 1996 after the jump…

(more…)

Another GOP Obamacare Udall Hit Rates “Mostly False”

mostlyfalse

The Denver Post's Lynn Bartels reports, Politifact's Truth-o-Meter snags another one:

"Mark Udall has voted with the president 99 percent of the time. He lied to us about our health care. He increased our taxes. He voted against the Second Amendment. He cast the deciding vote for Obamacare," [GOP Senate candidate Cory] Gardner told Jefferson County Republicans during their assembly in March.

PolitiFact, a Pulitzer-prize winning enterprise of the Tampa Bay Times, checked out the claim. PolitiFact researches statements and rates the accuracy on what it calls its "Truth-O-Meter." The ratings are True, Mostly True, Half True, Mostly False, False and Pants on Fire.

"Because Udall had consistently sided with the Democratic leadership in votes related to the act, he was not among the handful of undecided senators who (Majority Leader Harry) Reid had to wrangle as the vote was approaching," PolitiFact wrote.

"We rate this claim Mostly False."

As Bartels reports, Cory Gardner's campaign didn't react well to the news.

"It looks like Politifact's pants are on fire this time," he said…

Rather than get sidetracked by the Gardner campaign's eyerolling dis on a Pulitzer Prize-winning fact checker, let's look at Politifact's patiently redundant analysis of Gardner's claim that Sen. Mark Udall "cast the deciding vote for Obamacare." We're pretty sure we've covered this same semantic silliness at least once or twice since 2010:

[Udall] consistently sided with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., in votes relating to the health care law, and he offered several amendments to the bill either as a sponsor or a co-sponsor.

By contrast, then-Sen. Ben Nelson was widely considered a holdout whose late-in-the-game announcement of support was key to the vote’s success…

59 senators…also voted to end debate — and the exact same thing could be said about them. [Pols emphasis] Because Udall had consistently sided with the Democratic leadership in votes related to the act, he was not among the handful of undecided senators who Reid had to wrangle as the vote was approaching. We rate this claim Mostly False.

So yes, folks, this is mindless rhetorical gameplaying. Every Democratic Senator "cast the deciding vote for Obamacare." To be perfectly honest, we would rather see Politifact take a stand on on the much more misleading statement from Gardner they cite from a recent FOX News interview, that "335,000 Coloradans lost their health insurance." As we have explained over and over in this space, that statement is grossly deceptive, since over 90% of those "cancellation notices" were in fact renewal notices, thousands found better deals via the Obamacare marketplace, and–most importantly–we now know that the number of insured Americans has gone up, not down, since the rollout of Obamacare.

Bottom line: arguing over who cast "the deciding vote for Obamacare," like building one's entire case for election on attacking Obamacare, is a waste of everyone's time, and that includes Cory Gardner. While the fact checkers hammer away at the falsehoods, voters can see with their own eyes now that Obamacare is not the disaster they've been told it would be. Obamacare won't be the message Cory Gardner campaigns on this fall–because if it is, the race will be long over.

Old Coffman vs. New Coffman®–Medicare Part D Edition

One of the biggest themes in the CD-6 race has been the wholesale transformation of incumbent GOP Rep. Mike Coffman, from the arch-conservative Republican representing firebrand conservative Tom Tancredo's former district, into a "moderate" representing one of the most economically and culturally diverse congressional districts in the United States. It's a transformation that has mostly taken place since 2012, when a relatively obscure and underfunded Democratic opponent came within only two points of unseating Coffman–demonstrating how redistricting has made Coffman one of the nation's most vulnerable incumbent members of Congress.

Coffman's record before redistricting reshaped the electorate he answers to, from a time when his only threat was being deemed insufficiently conservative, is the biggest problem he faces remaining in office today. This video clip from a 2008 congressional debate, when Coffman was working overtime to prove his conservative credentials in the Republican primary to replace Tancredo, demonstrates the problem better than perhaps anything we've seen:

MIKE COFFMAN: In terms of federal spending it is out of control and that's why Republicans are out of power right now because they didn't hold true to their beliefs as being fiscal conservatives. The biggest part of the budget, unfortunately is now on auto-pilot. It's entitlement spending–it's not discretionary spending. [Interrupted]

What is important about this district, in being a very Republican seat, is it enables someone to be able to take strong positions that someone in a swing seat may not be able to take. [Pols emphasis] And entitlement reform, in order to bring fiscal sanity to this country, has got to be a part of it. 

And here you have a President [Bush] who was talking about Social Security reform, abandoned Social Security reform, turned around and did an entitlement on Medicare for which he cooked the books to make the numbers work, and future generations are going to be paying for that. Someone has to have the courage to step up and say "no." I've demonstrated that courage here in the state of Colorado.

"Old Coffman" was awfully candid, wasn't he?

It's critical to understand this: the "entitlement on Medicare" for which Coffman claims President George W. Bush "cooked the books" to enact is the Medicare Part D prescription drug benefit–the same Medicare Part D Coffman received an award for "protecting" from the National Grange just last year! Has anybody asked Coffman what changed between the time that Medicare Part D was a big bad "entitlement," and when it became a plank in Coffman's platform to "protect Medicare?" We're guessing not. Because there is no good answer, folks.

But it's a great example of how Coffman's "strong positions"…have come back to bite him.

Why Aurorans Want and Need Andrew Romanoff in CD6

(Warning: long)

My friends remember in 2009 when I supported Senator Michael Bennet in his bid to run for the United States Senate. At that time, he was an unpopular candidate among Colorado Democrats because he was appointed by then Governor Bill Ritter, rather then elected by a vote of the people. Ritter bypassed Colorado Democratic hometown hero Andrew Romanoff  to appoint the Denver Public Schools Superintendent. As most readers will recall, a bitterly divided primary ensued when Andrew Romanoff threw his hat into the race against incumbent Bennet. As a neighborhood leader, I chose to stand with my Senator (who was later elected democratically for a second term). At that time, I felt, as many other Coloradans also did, that it was important to support the Democratic Senator we already had, and to work with him to get things done. Four years later, I am proud to stand with both Senator Michael Bennet, and Congressional District 6's Candidate for the United States Congress, Andrew Romanoff. 

Many of the most densely populated portions of Congressional District 6 lie within the city of Aurora. My family and I moved near Mike Coffman's neighborhood in Aurora, CO 23 years ago from the midwestern college town where my husband received his PhD. When we moved into our first home, a rental, I was stunned by the six foot wooden fences, the prevailing libertarian attitudes of the high planes, and the lack of support for worker's rights. It was a foreign landscape for a young wife from a working class neighborhood just outside of Detroit. We had moved from an international student community (similar to DU in some respects), where I organized weekly family shared meals with my neighbors from Japan, Israel, Korea, Russia, Jordan, Mexico, Thailand, Finland and many other places, as well as a babysitting co-op for new moms. My toddler son had already been exposed to hundreds of different languages in that college (bubble) community, and though we could not afford to travel (we could barely afford to eat), every conversation was a lesson in geography and culture.

When we arrived in southeast Aurora, the first neighbor I saw simply said, "Keep your kid away from the fence. My dog hates kids and will eat him."

I called my mother sobbing. "Mom, have you seen the movie 'Dances With Wolves?", I asked.

To which she replied, "Yes. Why?"

"That's where I moohoohooved!", I wailed into the phone.

In the months to come, I was greeted with political notes on my doorstep inviting me to protest the local high school health care clinic (they gave students resource information for contraception), and I was told by a neighbor that Democrats insert tiny computer chips into infant babies' scalps at the hospital to control their every move. I was asked over and over, "Are you coastal?", which to the non-Republican translated means, "You're not liberal, are you?" 

Even the synagogue we attended in Denver had some right-wing members living in the 'burbs who tried to persuade us to join their ranks — a very unusual experience considering it was as true then, as it is now, that more than 2 out of 3 Jews nationwide are Democrats. I felt like I landed on Mars. Many of the hard-working, politically-moderate neighbors we came to know were simply not interested in politics, and truth be told, as a young mother, I had no time for it either. Over the years, our Congressman Dan Schaefer handed the baton to nationally-known immigrant-hater, Congressman Tom Tancredo, who loved his job so much he wouldn't leave it for five terms!

Fast forward 23 years, two more children, and two house moves later, and we live about three miles south of that first rental home. We grew to understand the ways of the west — from planning one's weekly calendar around Broncos games, to taking time off work to see the National Western Stock Show Parade. We came to love the SE Aurora/ E. Centennial area so much, we have made it our forever home. The six foot high wooden fences took some getting used to, but I found people are really very similar all over the world.. Our first neighborhood was receptive to my babysitting co-op idea, as well as organized play dates, and shared meals for new moms. The Cherry Creek schools our sons grew up in and where I volunteered often were, and are, outstanding. The Parks and Recreation programs in Aurora are among the best in the country. More than that, my family and I ventured out to the rest of Aurora, where we found the diversity we loved — and so dearly missed. 

Aurora is now Colorado's most richly diverse city, with more than 80 ethnic restaurants and markets, and more than 90 languages spoken in its public schools (much to Tom Tancredo's frustration, I'm sure). In a single afternoon at the Central library, one can hear dozens of languages spoken, from Russian, to Ethiopian, Chinese, Korean, African, Somalian, Nigerian, Spanish, French, etc. In the summer months, the Aurora Arts Festival and Cultural Events make it one of the most exciting places to be in metro Denver. If you listen to the stories of Aurorans, you will learn they came to America for good schools, for an opportunity to make life better for one's family, and to become an American citizen in order to pursue the American Dream. They want what Coloradans have wanted for hundreds of years — a peaceful place to raise their children, a chance to work hard and make a fair wage, and a sense of community alongside other Coloradans from all over the nation, and all over the globe.

The dreams of the newly-arrived immigrants in Aurora are identical to the dreams of my ancestors who arrived to this country in previous centuries. The only difference is, many of the newer immigrants dress in orange and blue jerseys, wear cowboy hats, and love to watch American Idol-type programs on television. The old Aurora, Mike Coffman's Aurora, contributes its western charm and historic cowboy heritage with the New Aurora, to create a uniquely Colorado experience. 

In 2008, as Colorado's Secretary of State, Mike Coffman attempted to shut-down the dreams of immigrant families and people of color in Aurora when he purged countless new voter registrations, most of which were collected by liberal out-of-state groups assisting in the Obama campaign effort. Coffman knew the groups like Mi Familia Vota, Common Cause, SEIU, MoveOn.org, etc., were targeting people of color and new citizens in Aurora to register them to vote, and he wanted their voices stopped so badly, his office gave inconsistent instructions on how to fill out the forms (I know this because I led a team of voter registrars in Aurora that summer, and they personally gave me incorrect information a number of times). Coffman had the audacity to continue to purge those registrations even after he was ordered not to do so by a federal judge.

Andrew Romanoff understands the New Aurora. Andrew's grandparents were Russian-Jewish immigrants who worked hard to make sure their children and grandchildren could go to college. Andrew seldom boasts about his most-inspiring qualifications for the United States Congress — working with communities the world over to accomplish truly impressive goals through democratic means. Andrew Romanoff has shown visionary leadership not just influence (as Coffman had done) — he brought together Democrats and Republicans to repair Colorado's schools, wrote laws to protect women from domestic violence, focused on services for mental health care, and expanded affordable housing. Andrew fought to protect children and the elderly from neglect and abuse, and taught high school students in rural Central America. He worked with the Southern Poverty Law Center for civil rights, and fought for low-income women's equal pay and education. At IDE (International Development Enterprises), Andrew led efforts to teach people to start businesses and become successful farmers — giving people a hand-up rather than a hand-out. Andrew's efforts have been recognized all over the world as ideas that will work anywhere, including in Aurora, CO.

All Aurorans share another, sadder common experience. Aurorans came together from every neighborhood of its 143 square miles to comfort each other after the Century Theater Shooting. Many volunteers spent last summer visiting the make-shift Aurora memorial site comforting strangers, cleaning up broken glass, providing water bottles, and pruning flowers left in memory of the victims – myself included. We made thousands of tiny black and blue memorial ribbons and passed them out to the grieving and the curious. Among the leaders who became most involved in the healing was Representative Rhonda Fields, who became the voice for many survivors wishing to make all of Colorado's City streets safer. Rhonda faced obscene name-calling, death threats, personal attacks and political savagery for insisting on common-sense gun restrictions. Who stood with Aurora's beloved Representative Rhonda Fields and the majority of Aurorans? It wasn't Congressman Mike Coffman. He was nowhere to be found in protecting Colorado's cities and towns from overly-lax weapon regulations. The person who stood up for Rhonda and all of Aurora was Andrew Romanoff.

There is only one candidate in the race for Congressional District 6 understands the blending of New Aurora with Old Aurora to become Strong Aurora. There is only one person who understand the modern challenges Aurorans face as their city increasingly becomes one of the New West's most interesting destinations. That person is Andrew Romanoff.

Please help us this summer in registering new voters in diverse North Aurora. Aurorans of every color, of every language, of every nation of origin, deserve to have their voices restored — voices stolen from them at one time by former Secretary of State Mike Coffman. When Aurorans vote, they will remember what happened in 2008 and they will vote for Andrew Romanoff.

Republican Insiders: Tancredo, Beauprez Frontrunners for Gov. Nomination

UPDATE #2: FOX 31's Eli Stokols updates with further response from Tancredo, who insists he is neither looking at the Jeffco superintendent's job nor an exit from the gubernatorial race:

Tancredo responded to this story Tuesday afternoon, telling FOX31 Denver that he’s not the least bit interested in the Jefferson County superintendent’s job, or looking for an exit.

“The state government would be a hell of a lot easier to run than the Jefferson County School system,” Tancredo said. “And there’s no way in hell we’d be busting our butts and spending all this money getting signatures if we weren’t committed.

“I’ve said all along that if there’s someone who emerges who’s polling better and more competitive with Hickenlooper than me, I’ll hand them the baton,” he added. “But I don’t see it right now. I think I’ve got as good a shot of winning as anyone.”

—–

UPDATE: Speaking with conservative blog Colorado Peak Politics, Tom Tancredo denies rumors of being in the running for superintendent of Jefferson County Schools:

“Absolutely false. Joked that running the state of CO would be easier than running Jeffco schools. My guess this is someone (party insiders) wants to slow my momentum.”

—–

Beauprez, via The Colorado Statesman.

Like him or not, Republicans see Beauprez as a frontrunner for the nomination.

Fox 31's Eli Stokols takes a good, long look at the four-person field seeking the Republican nomination for Governor. As Stokols reports, according to a host of Republican insiders, Tom Tancedo and Bob Beauprez are the frontrunners for the GOP nomination following Saturday's Republican State Convention. Top-line winner Mike Kopp is still a long-shot and Scott Gessler may be beginning to fade:

A number of top Colorado Republicans, who all spoke candidly to FOX31 Denver in exchange for remaining anonymous, agree that each of the four candidates has a path to winning the party’s nomination, but that two in particular have an inherent advantage.

Even after his surprise top-line victory Saturday, former Senate Minority Leader Mike Kopp has his work cut out for him if he wants to finish on top when the primary votes are counted. For now, he is still viewed as having longer odds to secure the nomination than former Congressman Tom Tancredo, who has a deep base of support, and former Congressman Bob Beauprez, who has the deep financial resources to be the last man standing…

…“Tancredo remains the frontrunner in a four-candidate diffused field,” one Republican said. “He starts with a 25-30 percent base vote in a Republican primary, so unless one of the other three can emerge as the Tancredo alternative, he wins by default.” [Pols emphasis]

Rumors abound that party bosses are looking for a way to get Tancredo out of the race, and even that Tancredo may be listening. One rumor circulating Monday is that the Jefferson County School Board, won by a conservative majority last November, may hire Tancredo, a former teacher, as superintendent.

The rumor that Tom Tancredo might be interested in becoming Jefferson County Superintendent was first reported here at Colorado Pols.

Tancredo’s Tea-Party Position on Education Aligns with Jeffco School Board

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Tom Tancredo.

Tom Tancredo.

ColoradoPols has called on gubernatorial candidate Tom Tancredo to address rumors that "GOP power-brokers" are pushing for him to be Superintendent of Jefferson County Schools.

Pols didn't get into whether Tancredo, who's currently leading the gubernatorial GOP primary field, would be a logical selection for the Tea-Party-controlled Jeffco School Board. No need to fall off your chair because yes, unfortunately, Tancredo's views on education are thoroughly right-wing.

He's not only a consistent supporter of diverting public-school funding to private schools through vouchers, but he also sees the public school system as a way for public officials to control the small minds of America's children.

Tancredo: "Why we can’t at least give kids in those [poverty] circumstances, a key to that door – called a voucher. Tell me, why it is so important to keep them locked into a government school system. Well, we know why they want to. They want to determine how those kids view the world, as we just got done explaining."

Where's the evidence that public-school education is about anything but freedom from indoctrination? Teachers wouldn't tolerate it. They don't want to indoctrinate their students. They want to teach them to understand how the world works and ask questions about it. American public education is about mind control?

Tancredo expressed these views on the Peter Boyles show April 1, with Chuck Bonniwell subbing for Boyles.

Jeffco teachers, supported by community members, are at an impasse with the Jeffco board, whose current leaders would certainly applaud Tancredo's views, as expressed here:

(more…)