Betsy Markey a Bright Spot In Latest PPP Poll

Betsy Markey.

Betsy Markey.

The Denver Post's John Frank reports on today's Public Policy Polling numbers, which shows Republican U.S. Senate candidate Cory Gardner leading by the same comfortless 3-point margin we've seen throughout October, and Gov. John Hickenlooper leading Bob Beauprez by the same statistically insignificant single point:

Gardner received 46 percent and Udall took 43 percent in a Public Policy Polling survey of likely voters released Tuesday. The edge is within the 3.5 percent margin of error. The other candidates in the race get a combined 5 percent with another 7 percent undecided.

It is the latest poll in a long line that show the Republican challenger ahead of the Democratic incumbent.

The governor’s race is even closer, the poll found, with Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper holding a one-point edge, 45 percent to 44 percent, against Republican challenger Bob Beauprez. The other candidates on the ballot get 4 percent with 7 percent undecided…

It's the story you know: both races are very close, and the all-star Democratic field campaign has the proven ability, at least in theory, to close the gap in the U.S. Senate race just like 2010. Looking down the ballot, however, there is a pleasant surprise for Democrats. From PPP's memo:

Further down the ticket the closest race is for Treasurer, where incumbent Republican Walker Stapleton leads Democratic challenger Betsy Markey 42/40. [Pols emphasis] Stapleton's lead had been 10 points when we last polled the state in July. Republicans have larger leadsin the other down ballot races- Wayne Williams is up 36/31 on Joe Neguse for Secretary of State and Cynthia Coffman has a 46/32 advantage over Don Quick for Attorney General.

There are several factors we can think of that would explain Treasurer candidate Betsy Markey closing eight points to within striking distance from the last PPP poll–Markey's higher name recognition as a former member of Congress, and effective ads hitting incumbent Walker Stapleton. Cynthia Coffman's large lead over Don Quick in this poll, combined with Markey's strength, may speak to a simple wisdom of running qualified women candidates in these downballot races. In 2010, there was a significant undervote–five percent or more–in the secretary of state, treasurer, and attorney general races. Finding the electable edge here is a perennial challenge, and we'll be interested to see if results this year point to a new strategy.

As for today, Democrats appear to have good reason to get serious about winning the Treasurer's race.

Field Campaigns Win Elections

votebutton

AP's Nicholas Riccardi has an insightful story about the storied Democratic combined field campaign effort, swinging into action again this year as the polls in Colorado's marquee U.S Senate race look a lot like they did in 2010:

The relentless ground game to inspire voters to cast ballots has helped Democrats dominate Colorado under even the most difficult political circumstances. Four years ago, the strategy helped Sen. Michael Bennet’s come from behind to win re-election. Now Bennet is directing the Senate Democrats’ national campaign arm, testing whether a $60 million get-out-the-vote effort — named, “The Bannock Street Project,” for his old Denver campaign office — can do the same for Udall and other Democrats defending their Senate majority…

Colorado Republican Rep. Cory Gardner has led Udall in recent public polls. Bennet didn’t lead in a single public poll in 2010. [Pols emphasis] Udall’s campaign is modeled on Bennet’s — but with a get-out-the-vote operation three times larger. The incumbent may also benefit from Colorado’s new elections law, passed last year by its Democratic-controlled legislature over Republican objections, that sends mail-in ballots to all voters and allows citizens to register until Election Day.

There’s no guarantee Democrats will dominate on the ground this year. Republicans in Colorado and elsewhere in the nation have upped their focus on getting out the vote. But GOP and conservative opponents know the ground game remains a potent Democratic weapon.

In 2012, the Republican coordinated campaign had serious problems with a new integrated field campaign system called "ORCA," which resulted in widespread breakdowns in their get-out-the-vote operation. We've heard that at least some of the lessons from that failure have been learned by the GOP in time for 2014, but the fact remains that Democratic field campaign efforts have done this successfully over and over in Colorado. Democrats have a degree of experience with getting out the vote in Colorado that the right simply has no analog for in recent elections.

One big variable this year is the impact of the 2013 election modernization legislation, House Bill 13-1303, which resulted in both mail ballots being delivered to every registered voter and the ability to register and vote through Election Day. Consistent with past elections, Republicans are leading the early mail ballot returns. Democratic ballots will come in as they're canvassed, and historically Democrats dominate early voting. 

Just like in 2010, it's going to be very close. But Cory Gardner's steady three-point October lead in the U.S. Senate race, given 2010's experience, is nothing for Republicans to feel good about.

Tuesday Open Thread

"The fox has many tricks. The hedgehog has but one. But that is the best of all."

–Ralph Waldo Emerson

Heads Up: James O’Keefe Skulking Around In Colorado

James OKeefe, wearing a Mark Udall sticker.

James O’Keefe, wearing a Mark Udall sticker in Fort Collins Saturday.

MONDAY UPDATE: Mother Jones reports this afternoon on what James O'Keefe is apparently up to in Colorado–not surprisingly, trying to bait progressive GOTV groups into either committing or condoning voter fraud. Also not surprising, he hasn't found any takers:

James O'Keefe, the conservative provocateur, has been on the prowl in Colorado, the setting of a close Senate race between Democratic incumbent Mark Udall and GOP Rep. Cory Gardner, as well as a nip-and-tuck governor's contest. Last week, O'Keefe and two of his collaborators tried to bait Democratic field staffers into approving voter fraud involving Colorado's universal vote-by-mail program, according to three Democratic staffers who interacted with O'Keefe or his colleagues.

Democratic staffers in Colorado recently came to believe they were the subject of an O'Keefe operation after campaign workers became suspicious about would-be volunteers who had asked about filling out and submitting mail-in ballots for others…

Last Tuesday, a man who appeared to be in his twenties showed up at a Democratic field office in Boulder wanting to volunteer to help elect Udall and Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.), according to a Democratic staffer who met with him and asked not to be identified. The man introduced himself as "Nick Davis," and he said he was a University of Colorado–Boulder student and LGBT activist involved with a student group called Rocky Mountain Vote Pride. Davis mentioned polls showing the race between Udall and Gardner was tight, and he asked the staffer if he should fill out and mail in ballots for other college students who had moved away but still received mail on campus. The Democratic staffer says he told Davis that doing this would be voter fraud and that he should not do it. [Pols emphasis]

On Friday, Udall campaigned with Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) on the University of Colorado–Boulder campus. After the event, a woman calling herself "Bonnie" approached a different staffer and, according to this staffer's boss, asked whether she could fill out and submit blank ballots found in a garbage can. The staffer, according to her boss, said that she told her no…

The repeated questions about submitting other people's ballots led Democratic staffers to suspect they were being targeted. Later, the staffers viewed photos of O'Keefe—including one taken in Colorado showing O'Keefe sans mustache and sporting a Udall campaign sticker and a Women for Udall button—and they concluded that O'Keefe and the college professor were the same person.

The story goes on to confirm Saturday's incident at the New Era Colorado as we reported yesterday. If you know anyone working on Democratic or progressive campaigns who hasn't yet gotten the word that O'Keefe is in Colorado looking to entrap them…now would be a good time to let them know. Sunday's post follows.

—–

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.

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Denver Post: Enough is Enough, Faye Griffin

Faye Griffin

The Denver Post published a strongly-worded editorial critical of Jefferson County Commissioner (and Clerk & Recorder candidate) Faye Griffin. The editorial board's rebuke of Griffin for what the Post calls "job hopping" contains some stunningly-candid quotes from Griffin herself:

We asked Griffin why she would leave the commission two years early, and she was candid in saying it was due to term limits.

Griffin is in the middle of her second term, and if she stayed in the position, she couldn't run for the commission again — and there would be no other palatable options for her, in her mind.

"In two years, there's no county office that is open," Griffin said. So, she is seeking the office she held for eight years, starting in 1998. [Pols emphasis]

Political blog JeffcoPols pointed out Griffin's move and speculated that it could be part of a larger shuffle of Republican politicians in Jefferson County intended to avoid open-seat elections.

Even if it is wrong about the specific moves, the blog makes a valid point about how Griffin's action would cede power to the GOP vacancy committee in Jefferson County.

Last week we outlined how Griffin's "job hopping" could sweep two other Republicans into elected office without having to be, you know, elected, which is a stunt Griffin has helped initiate on more than one occasion. This is an issue that Jeffco Pols first picked up last November, when we wrote, "Finish Your Damn Job, Faye Griffin."

The 75-year-old Griffin has been repeatedly elected to various offices in Jefferson County, primarily because of her longstanding name ID, but it's pretty amazing that she is so blunt about her own personal interests taking precedence over doing right by Jefferson County. Her supporters all say that Griffin is "a very nice old lady," and we have no reason to suspect otherwise, but that doesn't make this right. When Griffin tells the Post that "in two years, there's no county office that is open," she almost makes it sound as though she has no other choice but to run for something else before the end of her elected term. Griffin is asking a lot of Jeffco voters, yet as the Post notes in its editorial, it's not too much for voters to ask that she finish the job she sought in the first place.

At Least It Wasn’t Your Midnight Robocall

Banana phone, ring ring ring.

Banana phone, ring ring ring.

FOX 31's Eli Stokols reports on a weekend political "robocall" with high dirty-tricks potential that failed rather spectacularly:

Numerous robocalls purporting to support U.S. Senate candidate Gaylon Kent went out to voters late Saturday night and early Sunday morning, but the Libertarian candidate says his campaign was not behind them…

The calls seem to be intended to hurt Democratic Sen. Mark Udall, who is locked in a tight race with GOP Congressman Cory Gardner that is likely to determine which party controls the Senate next year.

Via e-mail and social media, multiple people complained of being awoken by the calls. Kent’s campaign said they received reports of calls going out between 10:40 p.m. Saturday and 4 a.m. Sunday.

“Most of the contacts came from Denver-area supporters of (Mark) Udall,” Kent said. “But one gentleman from Philadelphia called me to complain, and I got a Facebook message from a lady in Virginia, too.”

Here's a rough transcript of said midnight robocall:

"Since Mark Udall was elected to the US Senate in 2008, the United States has bombed seven countries. We bombed Iraq, we bombed Afghanistan, we bombed Pakistan, we bombed Libya, we bombed Yemen, we bombed Somalia. And now, we're bombing Syria.

In fact, with Mark Udall in the Senate, the US has bombed more countries than it did under George Bush. Not only has Mark Udall not done anything to stop this, Mark Udall has been leading the charge to bomb Syria for years and to continue the carnage that we're inflicting on the world. It's right there on his website.

There's only one true anti-war candidate in this year's Senate election: Gaylon Kent. So grab your ballot right now and vote for Gaylon Kent, and tell Washington: 'No more war!' This message brought to you by the Libertas Institute."

By all accounts, this call went out to younger, "high propensity" Democratic voters–that is, safe and core constituency voters for Democratic Sen. Mark Udall. It's not hard to imagine why Udall's opponents would try just about anything to confound and depress these key voters. Suspicion focused early on an organization called the Libertas Institute based in Utah. That group, however, claims no affiliation with the "Libertas Institute" identified in the robocall. A website for the "Libertas Institute of Colorado," however, displays this message:

Normally calls are restricted to reasonable hours, however, due to a programming error calls continued through the late night hours. It was not the intent to call people in the middle of the night, or to cause Mr. Kent any negative effect.

We deeply regret the intrusive effect of these calls and also the embarrassment they caused Mr. Kent.

Sources tell us a "Libertas Institute" also called active Democrats in 2012, with a similarly-themed call urging Colorado Democratic voters to support Gary Johnson over Barack Obama–with a message that began, "Greetings fellow Democrat!" There's no registration for this group that we can find in Colorado, so it's anybody's guess who they really represent or what their real agenda is. All of which would have probably stayed nicely under the radar had their robocall not gone out in the middle of the night, thus making it an embarrassing news story. Once it's a story, people can easily corroborate basic details like the fact that it was aimed entirely at high propensity Democratic voters.

Once those voters realize they are being played, their reaction is likely to be…other than intended.

Michael “Heck-of-a-Job” Brown doesn’t want “stupid people” to vote

(Tell us how you really feel, Brownie – promoted by Colorado Pols)

Remember Michael "Heck-of-a-Job" Brown, George W. Bush's go-to guy on the Katrina disaster/embarrassment/tragedy.

Now he's a talk-radio host on KHOW 630-AM in Denver, and he's still doing a heck of a job.

We caught "Brownie," as Bush called him, on the air saying he doesn't want "stupid people" to vote, because they're "more likely than not to vote for a Democrat." Who do you think he wants to see voting?

Most talk-radio rants should just be ignored. But, needless to say, there's a great response to this one. Let's vote so the Brownies in our country don't get more power. In Colorado, you can still register at www.justvotecolorado.org.

Politifact Condemns Gardner CDC/Ebola Fearmongering

mostlyfalse

A "flip" statement from Republican U.S. Senate candidate Cory Gardner in last week's 9NEWS debate is coming in for harsh criticism from Pulitzer Prize-winning fact-checker Politifact:

As fears over Ebola reached a crescendo, Rep. Cory Gardner, R-Colo., took a shot at the federal government’s handling of the disease during a debate with Democratic Sen. Mark Udall.

Gardner has been gaining ground in the closely watched Colorado Senate race, and that contest is just one of many around the country in which Ebola has become an issue.

Gardner, referring to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said, "Perhaps the CDC should quit spending money on things like jazzercise, urban gardening and massage therapy and direct that money to where it's appropriate in protecting the health of the American people."

We wondered if it was true that the government is spending money on jazzercise, urban gardening and the like at the expense of funding for Ebola…

Rep. Cory Gardner (R).

Rep. Cory Gardner (R).

And yes, dear reader, the idea that the Centers for Disease Control is blowing its Ebola budget on "Jazzercise" is as ridiculous as it sounds. The funds in question pay for a whole lot of things the public values–including prevention of hospital-acquired infections.

Like Ebola.

Does Gardner’s focus accurately describe what the fund does?

No, it’s pretty misleading…

[E]ven within the $300 million-plus spent on items such as preventing obesity, diabetes, heart disease, stroke and cancer, experts are certain that items such as jazzercise represent a tiny fraction of what CDC is spending.

The plan’s critics have chosen the silliest-sounding items — an effective rhetorical tactic, but not a very honest one…

[A]s it happens, there’s really no need to switch money out of the fund, since the fund can be used directly to pay for Ebola expenses. [Pols emphasis] Remember that $12 million we noted above that’s targeted for "infection prevention in health care facilities" for 2014? That’s relevant because, "right now in the United States, Ebola is exclusively a hospital-acquired infection," Mays said.

Bottom line?

Gardner said the CDC is "spending money on things like jazzercise, urban gardening and massage therapy" that could be redirected Ebola.

We weren’t able to document such expenditures, but given the agency’s spending parameters, it’s certainly possible they’ve been made. However, by cherry-picking three chuckle- (or outrage-) inducing spending items, Gardner presents a misleading description of what the fund does. Those efforts almost certainly represent a tiny fraction of spending from the prevention fund, which is dominated by efforts to attack diseases that kill more than 1.4 million people every year…

The only thing we have to add is that it's objectively not cool, or at least it shouldn't be cool, to mislead people about the government's response to the Ebola outbreak. The CDC funding a couple of insignificant–and cast in a more truthful light, perfectly reasonable–health programs does not render the agency less able to respond to public health threats like Ebola. It's one thing to invoke these kinds of "$500 toilet seat" myths and misleading anecdotes in the abstract. To make these bogus claims in the midst of a public health crisis that is genuinely scaring people in order to win an election is, in our view, deplorable. It's the sort of thing that the Denver Post editorial board used to condemn, not endorse.

We're glad Politifact at least agrees it's bogus.

Snoop Dogg and Mike Dunafon: The Fog of Weed

Snoop Dogg, Mike Dunafon.

Snoop Dogg, Mike Dunafon.

9NEWS reports:

Mike Dunafon is not exactly a household name. Sure, he is a former Bronco and the current mayor of Glendale, but his name is not what

comes to mind when thinking of Colorado's gubernatorial race. But multi-platinum recording artist Snoop Dogg is looking to change that this Halloween weekend.

The "Yes We Cannabis Festival" features a lineup that is yet to be announced, but will feature Snoop Dogg as the main act. Snoop collaborated with Dunafon and artist Wyclef Jean on Dunafon's campaign song, "The Trap," which features all three rapping about campaign issues like big government, pot laws, and campaign finance reform.

Despite a fair amount of press for the colorful mayor of Glendale and longtime principal of the infamous Shotgun Willie's strip club, he has yet to register in the polls with any significance. The reason for that is simple enough: the budding (pun intended) marijuana industry in Colorado has no desire to upset the proverbial apple cart, and Republican gubernatorial candidate Bob Beauprez has openly spoken in favor of repealing of Amendment 64. Even though incumbent Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper has occasionally made statements about marijuana legalization that upset stakeholders, he's not going to try to kill the industry off out of pure snooty moral rectitude.

There's a good possibility that the voters who Dunafon and rapper Snoop Dogg could swing would not vote at all otherwise, but if Dunafon were to pull votes from anyone it would logically be from Hickenlooper. We think the smart money in the marijuana lobby knows that, and that's why Dunafon hasn't gotten much traction even with high profile (pun intended) entertainers like Wyclef Jean and now Snoop Dogg backing him up.

Having said that, this might be a good remedial lesson in how politics work to share with your stoner friends.

Rural Votes, Fertile Soil

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

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.

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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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