Debate Diary: Blogging the Secretary of State Debate

MaxHeadroom

Kids, ask your parents.

It’s time to fire up the Colorado Pols Debate Diary once again.

It has become something of a tradition here at Colorado Pols for us to give you, our loyal readers, a live blog, play-by-play of political debates in Colorado. Yesterday in Grand Junction, Secretary of State candidates Joe Neguse (D) and Wayne Williams (R) took to the stage for the first SOS debate hosted by the Colorado Clerks Association. Colorado Pols was not in attendance at the debate (you wouldn’t drive to Grand Junction on a Monday, either), but thanks to the miracle of YouTube, we’re watching the video and providing a blow-by-blow rundown of the action.

*NOTE: Unlike a regular “live blog” Debate Diary, we're posting the most recent update at the bottom of the page, so you can read like a normal person. As always, unless it is in direct quotes, consider all statements paraphrased in the interest of time.

 

0:15
We’re looking at the stage at the Two Rivers Convention Center in Grand Junction. El Paso County Clerk Wayne Williams is to the left of the screen, while CU Regent Joe Neguse is on the right. Maybe it’s just a weird camera angle, or maybe Williams is standing on a couple of phone books, but he looks absolutely ginormous. Williams looks like Godzilla preparing to destroy the convention center.

Our moderator is Gary Harmon from the Grand Junction Sentinel, who is sitting at his own table between the two candidates.

0:20
Let’s get right to the opening statements. Each candidate is allowed 3 minutes to start, which seems kind of excessive. If either candidate is able to coherently talk about the Secretary of State’s office for 3 consecutive minutes, we should just let them have the job.

0:27
Neguse is up first. He’s wearing a dark suit, with a white button-up shirt and a white t-shirt underneath. That’s a lot of layers, but maybe he just likes to be prepared.

1:04
“My name is Joe Neguse, and I’m running for Secretary of State for a pretty simple reason. I believe the right to vote is sacred.” Neguse talks about how his parents immigrated from East Africa.

1:39
And…we have our first Scott Gessler mention. Neguse criticizes the current SOS and makes sure to mention that Gessler has endorsed Williams.

[SIDE NOTE: Is there a lightbulb shortage on the West Slope? Neguse looks like he’s speaking from a dark alley, with half of his face shrouded in shadow.]

2:16
Neguse says that Williams is the only county clerk in the state who is NOT a member of the Colorado Clerks Association. That’s really strange – it will be interesting to see what Williams says about this. Why would the El Paso County Clerk not be a member of the Colorado Clerks Association? Is there a competing organization in which Williams is the sole member?

3:24
Neguse finishes up his opening statement with a story about doing bipartisan work as a CU Regent.

3:42
Now it’s time for Williams to speak. He’s wearing a brown jacket, a shirt of indeterminate color, and Max Headroom’s tie from 1984. He also has a “Wayne Williams” campaign sticker on his lapel, just in case.

“I had an interesting conversation in 2011 with my wife. I explained to Holly that I would not be at our house for her birthday.” Seriously, that’s the first thing he said.

Williams says that the Saguache County Commissioners scheduled a recall for January 24 (the same day as Holly Williams’ birthday) and asked him to run the recall election. So he sacrificed his wife’s birthday for the greater good of Saguache County, or something.

“I have been committed for many decades to working hard to ensure that everybody has the ability to vote.” Good work on the English, Wayne. Maybe he really IS Max Headroom.

4:45
Williams is now telling a story about serving on the Canvas Board in El Paso County for the first time in 1997. This is going to be a looonnggg 45 minutes.

5:15
Williams criticizes the 2000 election process in Florida, which resulted in a team of lawyers making sure that Al Gore George W. Bush was elected President. Didn’t see that one coming.

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The Importance of the Colorado Water Plan

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Most politicians from the Western Slope run on a platform of “not one more drop.” That’s because 80% of Colorado’s water falls on the western slope, yet 87% of the population lives on the other side of the Continental Divide. To solve the problem and get more water to the Front Range of Colorado, in the 1930’s Colorado began building tunnels and water storage facilities that divert water from the Colorado River Basin to the Front Range. Over time Western Slope water users became concerned that too much water was being diverted, hence the mantra about not one more drop.

Today there are 30 completed water diversion projects in the State, most of which take water from the Colorado River Basin and deliver it to the other side of the mountains, although a few just move it from one river basin to another without the inter-mountain transfer. The 24 diversions that do change the flow of water from west to east currently deliver approximately 500,000 acre feet of water to farmers and municipalities on the Front Range annually.

In 2005, Colorado passed House Bill 1177, which created River Basin Round Tables. This was a bi-partisan attempt to get water policy out of the world of partisan politics. The bill was supported by two names you will recognize from here:  Josh Penry and Bernie Beuscher. Abel Tapia, running to unseat Scott Tipton, was in the Colorado legislature at the time and was also a sponsor of this bill. The short name of the bill was “Colorado Water for the 21st Century Act.”

The Round Tables were established, and people from all walks of life were invited to participate. The idea was to get the people who actually used water to talk to each other, in a fact based environment. Over time it got old for volunteers to drive an hour each way to meetings where there were no actual outcomes, and these Round Tables started losing steam. But the problems still existed, and the need to find ways to conserve water and fill the projected gaps in water availability were still very real problems needing statewide solutions.

Needing the Round Tables to come up with a plan, On May 15, 2013, Governor Hickenlooper issued an executive order directing the Colorado Water Conservation Board (CWCB) to draft a water plan. The deadline for the draft is December 2014. Today I had the opportunity to speak with James Eklund, the Director of the Colorado Water Conservation Board, about the process and the plans coming out of the Round Tables.

For the record, I initiated this contact because I wanted to hear from the official leading the efforts his opinion of progress and his expectations regarding outcomes. A lot more follows, but the short version is that the Colorado Water Conservation Board will make some policy recommendations to the next legislative session, based on the identified needs of the nine River Basin Round Tables.

Eklund opened our conversation by saying that this is an historic time for water in Colorado. During July the CWCB hosted a three day meeting to hear the Round Table implementation plans. None of the plans say there will be a new transmountain diversion of water, but every Round Table has identified a water shortage and a need to find new sources of water. It is an interesting coincidence that the projected shortage by 2050 is almost the same amount of water that is currently being diverted from west to east.

Not having a cohesive water plan addressing these issues has negative impacts on economic development that we usually don’t think about. An example used by Eklund was Utah. Businesses thinking about relocating might decide on another state, like Utah, when they see east-west water wars appearing on the front pages of Colorado newspapers. Utah actually has less water than Colorado, but they tell a better story. We can’t keep beating each other up, and these Round Tables, born out of bi-partisan legislation hope to encourage Colorado’s citizens to have adult conversations about the issue, and to find bi-partisan legislative solutions.

One of the issues is “buying and drying.” The term refers to industry and municipalities buying up agricultural water rights, which takes Colorado ag-land out of production. There is a right way and a negative way to solve this problem. Prohibiting the sale or leasing of these agricultural water rights is essentially a “taking” of the property of the owner of the water rights. There needs to be some policy solution that recognizes the personal property rights, yet protects our ability to produce food, and satisfies the thirsty inhabitants of Colorado’s cities.

Knowing a little about land trusts, I asked whether there were Water Trusts, just as there are Land Trusts. Eklund said that they do exist, but they are not economically competitive, especially when cities need water, and are willing to pay a premium to get it. Policy should work to close the competitive gap.

I’ve heard Ute Water suggest that we could negotiate with California, trading our support for desalination plants in California for keeping more of the water that falls in Colorado. Eklund praised Ute Water for thinking outside the box, but scoffed at that idea. The hurdles noted by Eklund included the fact that relative to California, Colorado is capital poor and that desalination plants require a lot of energy, which is expensive.

Finally I asked about Climate Change. Eklund prefers to talk about variable hydrology. Colorado is the only state in the nation where no water flows into the state, rather it falls in the mountains in the form of snow, where it is stored until spring run-off. Climate change is impacting our water two ways: As dust settles on the snow in the high country, melting is hastened. If water falls as rain instead of snow, it is not stored in our high country until we need it, but rather immediately flows into streams and rivers—causing the flooding we saw on the Front Range and immediate delivery into other states.

Eklund noted that our snow pack is a pretty important and effective way to store water in Colorado until we need it. In fact, he said, “Snow pack is our greatest reservoir.” Water at lower elevations evaporates faster than it does at higher elevations, which may explain why the water is so low at the downstream dams that provide both storage and electricity for lower basin states. The delivery system to Arizona is extremely inefficient, as it flows through hot, dry terrain where evaporation steals water destined to quench the thirst of Phoenix. Of course, that water is not lost forever, but given the prevailing weather patterns, it may end up in Texas instead of Arizona.

Water is too important to legislate without understanding the complicated process of water allocations and the reality of water shortages. Yet, my opponent walked out of a briefing presented by James Eklund, which was designed to bring legislators up to speed on the Round Table discussions. Eklund told me that he thinks it is his job to brief legislators and candidates on this non-partisan effort to find solutions to Colorado’s future water woes. He also told me “If Ray Scott calls, I’ll tell him the same thing, but he hasn’t called.”

Voters in Mesa County have a real choice this fall. We can pick the candidate who seeks answers about issues, or the candidate who gets written up in the Denver Post for being too arrogant to listen to a presentation about an issue as important to the Western Slope as water.    

 Homework:

Everything You Never Wanted to Know About Water Diversions

House Bill 1177

Hickenlooper's Executive Order

Ray Scott Walks Out of Briefing by James Eklund

Colorado Water Conservation Board

Dems Go To Court To Stop Late GOP HD-23 Candidate

UPDATE: Click here to read the complaint as filed in Jefferson County District Court today.

—–

Nate Marshall, who got the GOP off to a very bad start in HD-23.

Nate Marshall, who got the GOP off to a very bad start in HD-23.

We've been talking about the Colorado Republican Party's major recruitment problems for state legislative candidates in this space for some weeks now. Perhaps the best example of the GOP's stunning inability to get organized in state legislative races is House District 23. A seat presently held by Democratic Rep. Max Tyler, Republicans originally nominated a candidate named Nate Marshall in this race. Marshall's campaign melted down, as our readers know well, after Marshall's overtly white supremacist past made headlines.

As we reported at the time, Republicans waited for weeks to hold a vacancy committee and appoint another candidate for HD-23 in the wake of Marshall's withdrawal. In the end, we broke the news in mid-May that Jane Barnes would replace Marshall as the GOP's HD-23 candidate–not the party. Which seems kind of weird, doesn't it?

As a complaint filed today shows, that's where things get problematic legally. The last day on which the law allowed the GOP to designate a new candidate to fill this vacancy in its assembly delegation was April 18. But the vacancy committee that selected Barnes didn't meet until April 28th, and Barnes didn't file her candidate affidavit until May 2nd–two weeks after the deadline.

Bottom line: as everyone knows, Jefferson County is the key to this election in just about every respect–with national eyes on races they normally wouldn't care about due to their aggregate effect up the ticket.  Like Politico says, “As Jefferson County Goes, So Goes Colorado.”  Understanding the critical role these races play, not just in the GOP's strategy to retake the legislature but all the way up the line, it's nothing short of unbelievable that the state and county GOP cannot get their act together. Democrats, who we can assure you do vet their candidates, simply do not have this problem.

Jane Barnes.

Jane Barnes.

First the Jefferson County GOP nominates a white supremacist with an arrest record, revealing a disastrous lack of vetting of GOP candidates in competitive races. After an embarrassing public spectacle they manage to force him off the ballot–but then they can’t even convene a vacancy committee in a timely fashion? They let weeks go by without doing anything at all?

And when they finally did hold a vacancy committee, they didn’t even bother telling anyone which candidate they nominated? Why were we the ones to break this news? For a party that claims to be interested in winning elections, this is just inexplicable behavior. Of course Democrats are going to cry foul–because they can and they should. And Republicans have no one to blame but themselves for these repeated displays of rank incompetence.

We'll update with court filings and press coverage later today.

Large Honey Bee die-off in Southern Colorado

 “It’s better to be a dog in a peaceful time than be a man in a chaotic period.”Chinese proverb

Wonder what the Chinese had to say about bees?

Thousands of Bees Die Suddenly in Southern Colorado

Beekeepers in the region are seeing a dramatic drop-off in the number of bees in their hives, just in the past few days.

Kimberly Randall and Jonathan Geurin are beekeepers in Colorado Springs. They told News 5 this season started out well for them, but recently, they could tell something wasn't right. It turns out more than 60 percent of their hive died in just three days. "By the time we got to the bottom of the hive, we found a pile of dead bees that was two to three inches thick," said Randall.

Geurin and Randall have raised a combined six hives of honeybees in both Colorado Springs and Canon City. With 50,000 to 70,000 bees per hive, and half of their hives affected, they estimate well over 100,000 bees have died.

"That hive is completely gone," Geurin said. "When I opened it up a few days ago, there was no queen in it. There was probably only a dozen bees."

But what could be killing hundreds of thousands of bees across Southern Colorado? "There's a lot of theories," Randall said. "We're going to be sending our bees off to have testing done through the state, and notify them in case there's something going on." Randall and Geurin think pesticides and other chemicals used to treat lawns and weeds could be making their way into the water table

"Read what you're putting into your yard," Randall said. "Read what you're putting into your garden, because it all circles back."

Fruits and vegetables thrive on pollination from honeybees, making them vital to sustain our food sources.

The Zombie Apocalypse may be coming……..just not in the form we see on TV.

How GOP Brass Punked The Colorado Grassroots Once Again

UPDATE #2: FOX 31's Eli Stokols:

“Now that we know who was behind many of the false and slanderous ads that were purchased in Colorado in the final days of our primary season, there are many questions that Colorado Republicans deserve to have answered,” Tancredo said. “Voters deserve transparency and they deserve to have a full accounting as to why the RGA would secretly funnel money into our Colorado Republican primary.”

Tancredo called on Christie to release all communications between the RGA and RAGA, disclose who authorized what appears to be $175,000 funneled into the primary, and to say who was involved with coordinating efforts between the RGA and two issues committees formed to help Beauprez through the primary.

“Governor Christie was previously accused of using political power as governor of New Jersey to block bridges as an act of political retaliation. So I’m sure he will relish this opportunity to ‘come clean’ and to ‘clear the air’ to avoid new allegations of using his elected position at RGA to carry out a political vendetta in Colorado.” [Pols emphasis]

—–

UPDATE: We have yet to confirm this report from AM radio host Ken Clark, but very interesting if true–Colorado Republican Party vice-chairman Mark Baisley, a "Tea Party" insurgent, calling for an investigation?

—–

tancgov

Lynn Bartels of the Denver Post breaks an important, if unsurprising development–the Republican Governors Association worked actively behind the scenes to ensure one-time Colorado GOP gubernatorial frontrunner Tom Tancredo did not win that party's primary. Far from a neutral observer, it looks like the RGA was in the tank (pardon the pun) for Bob Beauprez the whole time, and pretty darn sneaky about it too:

Tancredo, considered the front-runner for much of the primary, finished second in the June 24 four-way GOP primary for governor. Beauprez faces the Democrat incumbent, Gov. John Hickenlooper, in November.

"The RGA wanted to play in the Republican primary without anyone knowing about it," CREW executive director Melanie Sloan said.

"To avoid any fingerprints, the group ran the money through RAGA, an organization that typically doesn't weigh in on gubernatorial races. Despite a public posture to the contrary, it seems the RGA is, indeed, willing to pick sides in at least some Republican primaries."

beauprezdemsfear

​There were plenty of signs during the GOP primary that the RGA was actively working against Tancredo and for Beauprez. Early press reports after Beauprez's entry into the race described him as the "prohibitive favorite" of the RGA, and Beauprez himself made it clear he was getting in because the field of candidates as it stood then wasn't considered competitive. As we've discussed at length, Beauprez's loony-tunes record since leaving electoral politics in 2006 makes him almost as great a liability as Tancredo–the biggest difference being that Beauprez's nutty statements haven't been as widely publicized. But the judgment of GOP insiders at the time was that Beauprez hurts them less.

Either way, as Bartels continues, Tancredo is not a happy camper now that the truth is out:

"I am trying my very, very level best to figure out how to deal with my anger with them and exactly what to do about this without hurting Bob," Tancredo said. "I want Bob to become governor, but I want to blow the whistle on these people. They are despicable."

Tancredo said he's certain Beauprez knew nothing about the funding behind the attack ads, and Beauprez's campaign on Monday agreed.

Now folks, without getting too far into the whys and wherefors, let us just postulate right here that Bob Beauprez knew full well the RGA would back him in this primary. When Tom Tancredo says he's "certain" Beauprez didn't know the RGA was helping out, we submit Tancredo knows it's not true. Everybody with an ounce of political understanding knows it's not true. Tancredo can't say that, of course, because that would "hurt Bob." But the report by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) demonstrates clearly how the money flowed from the RGA into the Colorado GOP gubernatorial race:

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Gardner’s immigration spin cycle now includes attack on Udall for supporting Senate Bill

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Cory Gardner.

Cory Gardner.

Senatorial candidate Cory Gardner has been hitting the radio airwaves recently with his thoughts on immigration, and I've discerned a pattern, nothing too complex, but a pattern nonetheless:

Start with point number one here: 1. Sound like you're for immigration reform. 2. Attack others for immigration-reform failures. 3. Sound like you have an actual factual immigration-reform plan, when, in fact, you have nothing specific to offer. 4. Go back to point number 1.

Here's how it works in action, as delivered during a Hot Air interview July 26, so real reporters can be prepared, if they interview Gardner on immigration.

Gardner: We have a humanitarian crisis at our Southern border that underscores the broader need for responsible immigration reform.

[That's point one: He's sounding like he wants rational reform.]

Gardner: My opponent, Senator Udall, voted in favor of the Senate legislation that the Congressional Budget Office estimates would decrease illegal immigration by as little as 33%. Our current problems require long-term reform, not short-term Washington fixes.

[Point two: He's blaming others. And, by the way, the bill would cut illegal immigration by 33-50 percent.]

Gardner: I believe we should move forward with an immigration policy that prioritizes border security, and that includes a viable guest-worker program that capitalizes on the benefits of legal immigration to this country.

[Pont three and four: He's sounding like he has a plan. But where is it? Judging from his utterances, you'd think he supports the bipartisan Senate bill, which he's just slammed Udall for supporting. What does Gardner support?

In another recent interview, on KFKA's Amy Oliver show, Gardner rattled off his immigration spin cycle in a slightly different order, but the points were there.

(more…)

Gardner Camp Responds to Cosmopolitan Article by Ridiculing Magazine

Last Thursday we wrote about a story from Cosmopolitan magazine discussing the Personhood issue in Congress, with a focus on Colorado Rep. Cory Gardner's struggles with flip-flopping on the issue. Here's the money quote from that story:

[Gardner has] built his entire political career on support of personhood," Personhood USA president Keith Mason told Cosmopolitan.com. "I think he's just listening to some bad advice, and he's playing politics."

A few hours after our post first appeared on Colorado Pols, Gardner's campaign responded via Twitter in just about the worst possible manner — by (SURPRISE!) making fun of women's magazines. From Jill Filipovic of Cosmopolitan:

This week, journalist Ada Calhoun published a piece on Cosmopolitan.com about personhood bills, wildly unpopular right-wing legislation that would outlaw abortion and, potentially, some forms of birth control and in-vitro fertilization. She highlighted the Senate race in Colorado between pro-choice candidate Mark Udall and his anti-abortion opponent, Cory Gardner, who supported state personhood legislation until he didn't, and who remains a co-sponsor of federal personhood legislation. Udall's press team tweeted the article. In response, Sam Stookesberry, Gardner's deputy press secretary until last month, responded:

Cosmo Tweets

You may want to adjust those blinders

That kind of condescension is de rigueur when you write in lady-mag land. If your outlet brands itself as a "women's publication," the automatic assumption is that it's lowbrow, apolitical, superficial, or all of the above. And there's certainly plenty of content in traditional women's magazines and websites that fits the bill.

But mainstream "serious" media, with its regular forays into rape apologia and marginalizing female accomplishment, isn't exactly an enjoyable place for the feminist-hearted either. And while beauty tips, fashion spreads, and sex advice are staples of women's publications, so is an abundance of serious reporting and thoughtful writing from excellent journalists. Calhoun, for example, has written for The New York Times, New York Magazine, NewYorker.com, and the New Republic — and that's just the "N" section of her resume. Put her in Cosmo, though, and suddenly "hard-hitting journalist" becomes a sarcastic reproach instead of an accurate characterization…

The reaction to an article's placement also serves as a handy litmus test: Whether a person engages with the work sincerely or whether their go-to response is to brush it off because it appears in a women's publication alongside celebrity, fashion, and sex coverage offers a pretty clear read on how they view women more generally. [Pols emphasis] Which makes smarmy dismissals from conservative men fairly predictable — if especially rich when those men's patronizing tweets are published alongside their own less-than-hard-hitting style advice.

As we wrote last week, it would be foolish to dismiss something that appears in Cosmopolitan magazine — which boasts a readership of a female demographic that Gardner desperately needs in order to have any hope of defeating Sen. Mark Udall in November. It is completely irrelevant if some individuals — primarily men — brush Cosmo off as unimportant. Cosmopolitan magazine isn't trying to influence an audience of conservative men…even if that's all Cory Gardner's campaign can think about.

No Labels’ Gardner “Endorsement” Backfires (For No Labels)

Rep. Cory Gardner (R).

Rep. Cory Gardner (R).

Back in April, a reported "endorsement" of GOP U.S. Senate candidate Cory Gardner by the nonpartisan advocacy group No Labels caused tremendous controversy, leading to the group's clarification that their "Seal of Approval" is not a bonafide candidate endorsement at all. A week later, it came out that No Label co-founder Mark McKinnon had been wrong to characterize this as an "implied endorsement," saying that was strictly his "personal opinion"–although it was not represented as such originally, or when Gardner touted this "endorsment" widely. The belated correction from McKinnon, a former aide to George W. Bush, was an odd footnote in an episode that hinted at something more.

And as Meredith Shiner at Yahoo News reports today, there was indeed a lot more going on behind the scenes than Gardner or McKinnon wanted to talk about in the wake of No Labels' "endorsement."

[T]hough No Labels has positioned itself as a warrior against gridlock, an internal document obtained by Yahoo News suggests the group is banking on more political dysfunction in an attempt to find “opportunity” and relevance for itself…

“Should the balance of power in the U.S. Senate flip following the 2014 midterm elections and Republicans gain control, No Labels sees an opportunity to bridge the gap between Congress and the White House,” the document reads in its “Break Through Strategy” section. “With Republicans holding control of both chambers in Congress and a Democrat in the White House, the likelihood of gridlock will be higher than ever before.

“We have already begun back door conversations with Senate leaders to discuss this increasingly likely scenario,” the document continues.

This privately stated position exacerbates an already publicly spoiled relationship with Senate Democrats, who are still fuming from an April incident in which the group supported conservative Republican Cory Gardner in Colorado over Manchin’s colleague, incumbent Democrat Mark Udall. The endorsement, which No Labels later tried to clarify by saying that any candidate could be backed by the group if they just agreed to be a member, was touted by Gardner in press releases and caused the few Senate Democrats involved with the group to threaten to pull their membership, according to Democratic sources. [Pols emphasis]

We had heard the rumors, but this story confirms that the "implied endorsement" of Gardner by No Labels caused a major rift in this allegedly nonpartisan organization, with participating Democrats considering the endorsement of Gardner to be both political betrayal and objectively indefensible. After all, "endorsing" a candidate who earned the dubious distinction of tenth most conservative member of the U.S. House in 2012, earned by taking such divisive stands as shutting down the federal government to stop Obamacare and risking national default in budget negotiations, cannot help but throw No Labels' credibility into question. How does Gardner fit with the stated goal of replacing "the culture of conflict and division with a politics of problem solving and consensus building?"

Yahoo News continues–Gardner doesn't fit at all, and that sums up the trouble with No Labels.

Multiple Senate Democratic aides characterized the relationship between No Labels and Senate Democratic leaders as “hostile,” and said that the current distance stems from the controversy surrounding Gardner and the Colorado Senate race. [Pols emphasis]

In April, No Labels gave its “Problem Solvers seal” to Gardner, the GOP challenger to the Senate Democratic incumbent Udall. Gardner touted the seal as an endorsement from No Labels, a situation that incensed members of the Senate Democratic caucus.

Gardner and No Labels then were forced to clarify the meaning of the seal, after Democratic members threatened to leave the group and multiple No Labels board calls were held to discuss the matter…

Gardner was among the top-10 most conservative members of the House in 2012 and the 98th in 2013, according to rankings by the National Journal. But the group has also given the seals to Reps. Peter Welch and Jared Huffman, who were among the top-20 most liberal members of the House in 2013, according to National Journal. It’s not that No Labels has shifted rightward ideologically and deliberately, it’s that it’s initial design to provide cover to politicians on both sides to work in a bipartisan way also gives cover to politicians who won’t but want to have lapel pins on their jackets saying they do. [Pols emphasis]

There are two ways to look at this: it's quite possible, and we tend to think in the aftermath of the Gardner "endorsement" fiasco, that No Labels has always simply been a front for unpopular Republicans to obtain token Democratic cover. But, as this story suggests, it's also possible that the organization's once-lofty goals of transcending partisanship, and ending the gridlock that has eroded the confidence of so many Americans, have been subverted by politicians who desire only the pretense of "working together."

Whether No Labels was duped or a willing agent of Gardner's deception, they've only managed to worsen the public's cynicism with politics. And we're pretty sure that's a failure of their most basic mission.

Lamborn Getting Creamed for Absence on VA Issues; Offers Typically Stupid Response

Doug Lamborn (R).

Doug Lamborn (R), has lots of meetings and stuff.

In case you missed it last week, Congressman Doug Lamborn is taking a beating over reports that he has regularly missed congressional meetings of the House Committee on Veterans Affairs — an issue that has become much more politically-important in the wake of a scandal over conditions at VA Hospitals around the country.

Democrat Irv Halter has been successful in drawing significant attention to Lamborn's absences, with coverage last week in the Colorado Springs Gazette, Fox 21, and KRDO News (the ABC affiliate in Southern Colorado). You can probably guess by now that Lamborn's response to critics has been less than optimal. The Gazette's Megan Schrader sums up the issue nicely:

U.S. Rep. Doug Lamborn says he must juggle his time sitting on three committees and six subcommittees at Capitol Hill, but his opponents are questioning why he's missed more than half of the House Committee on Veterans Affairs meetings in the past two years.

"Sometimes three will meet at the same time," Lamborn said. "There is a constant allocation of time."

Democrat Irv Halter, who is challenging Lamborn in November, says Lamborn's attendance record reflects the congressman's priorities…

…Lamborn provided The Gazette with a detailed list of scheduling conflicts that kept him from each of the meetings he missed. He had conflicting committee meetings for 17 of the 19 meetings he missed, including budget hearings for the Department of Defense. During the other two meetings, the records indicate Lamborn was flying to Washington, D.C., at the time. [Pols emphasis]

Lamborn also serves on the House Armed Services Committee and the House Committee on Natural Resources. When he can't attend a meeting, Lamborn said he has a staff member there to take notes. From January 2013 to June 20, the congressman attended 14 of 33 full committee hearings, according to The Gazette's detailed review of meeting videos and minutes from the House Committee on Veterans Affairs. Lamborn's records indicate he attended two additional meetings April 3, one briefly, but The Gazette was unable to verify his attendance at those two meetings.

The response from Lamborn is sadly predictable, reflecting a general air of complete cluelessness. Lamborn is trying hard to avoid the topic directly, instead focusing on telling the press that he has a very busy schedule. That doesn't answer the important question, of course, which is this: Why would Lamborn not be prioritizing these meetings when he represents a district that is as militarily-focused as CD-5? What the hell is he doing instead that is more important?

For a better sense of how bad this looks for Lamborn, take a look at the two-minute KRDO story after the jump…

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Other co-sponsors of Life at Conception Act say it aims to enact personhood at federal level

(Oops. – promoted by Colorado Pols)

Cory Gardner.

Cory Gardner.

Senatorial candidate Cory Gardner's spokespeople are saying that a federal personhood bill cosponsored by Garder, called the Life at Conception Act, is not a real personhood bill because it "simply states that life begins at conception" and would not actually outlaw abortion or contraception.

If so, you'd expect other co-sponsors of the Life at Conception Act to agree with Gardner. But this is not the case.

After co-sponsoring the same Life at Conception Act in March, 2013, four months before Gardner signed on, Rep. Charles Boustany, (R-LA) issued a statement saying:

“As a Member of Congress, I take the cause of fighting for the unborn just as seriously. That’s why I cosponsored H.R. 1091, the Life at Conception Act. This bill strikes at the heart of the Roe v. Wade decision by declaring life at conception, granting constitutional protection to the unborn under the 14th Amendment.”

Boustany's comment comports with the actual factual language of the bill. It's an attempt to outlaw all abortion, even for rape and incest, via the 14th Amendment.

I've made multiple attempts to reach the House sponsor of Life at Conception Act, Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH), for his take on his own bill, but I have yet to hear back. [Hint to a reporter who might be reading this: Would you please give him a call?]

But Sen. Rand Paul is the Senate sponsor of the Life at Conception Act, which is identical to the bill co-sponsored by Gardner. And this is how Paul described his own bill in March of last year.

"The Life at Conception Act legislatively declares what most Americans believe and what science has long known-that human life begins at the moment of conception, and therefore is entitled to legal protection from that point forward." [BigMedia emphasis]

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More Beauprez/Christie Cognitive Dissonance

Chris Christie and Bob Beauprez.

Chris Christie and Bob Beauprez.

After embattled New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie's appearances in Denver last Wednesday, wherein he refused to back off from his previous contention that Colorado's "quality of life" stinks in the wake of marijuana legalization, Christie headed up to Aspen for a panel with other Republican governors at the Aspen Institute. While in Aspen, Christie has some fascinating things to say about the GOP's efforts to reach out to traditionally disaffected voters–women, minorities, young people. The Philadelphia Inquirer's Maddie Hanna reports:

Gov. Christie presented himself as both “pro-life” and a tolerant listener during a panel discussion with other Republican governors Thursday night, arguing that Republicans don’t need to avoid social issues to appeal to a broader range of voters.

The party hasn’t lost elections because of a focus on social issues, but because of its “tone and tenor,” Christie said at the Aspen Institute in Colorado. “I think we’re getting pounded because of the way we present ourselves.” [Pols emphasis]

Voters want people “who are authentic and believe what they say is true, but also are willing to be tolerant and listen to others’ points of view,” Christie said…

As a reminder, this is the same Chris Christie who hours before said in Denver:

Christie, the chair of the Republican Governor's Association, praised [Bob] Beauprez and called him "the best chance for change and the best chance for a more positive Colorado."

Credit for the nickname "Both Ways Bob" is frequently given to Democrats, but the true origin of that nickname was Beauprez's 2006 gubernatorial primary opponent Marc Holtzman. Beauprez earned that nickname in the GOP primary over his tepid-at-best opposition to 2005's Referendum C "TABOR timeout" measure, and then kept earning it as he flip-flopped repeatedly on a wide variety of state issues he had at one time supported or opposed–the Referendum A "water grab," Jon Caldara's ill-considered Amendment 38, and Social Security privatization.

Since re-entering electoral politics this year, Beauprez has already joined U.S. Senate candidate Cory Gardner in flip-flopping on the Personhood abortion ban–as well as jilting backer Mitt Romney on the individual mandate to purchase health insurance. Beauprez, who once strongly endorsed the mandate as a conservative solution for health care reform, has both abandoned the idea of a nationwide mandate (which Romney supported before Barack Obama), and even a state-level mandate like Romneycare in Massachusetts.

As Democrats size up their case against Beauprez for the voters this year, the two principal message tracks are Beauprez's turn to rank extremism since 2006–the "civil war" and birther pandering being easy examples–and the longstanding "Both Ways Bob" theme of Beauprez being willing to change his stand on anything in order curry political favor. What Christie is basically saying is that the former doesn't matter as long as voters trust you.

To which we can only reply, "Both Ways Bob" isn't the man for that job.

Tell Us How You Really Feel, Big Oil

Lynn Bartels of the Denver Post reported Friday, and we didn't want it to escape mention:

A new campaign ad that features the "Flat Earth Discussion Group," cheese by-products and a man with a sock puppet takes a humorous look at Colorado's fracking battle, but some voters aren't laughing.

The Environmental Policy Alliance launched the 60-second spot this month as a way to counter what it says are are false claims from "radical activists" about hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, an issue that has dominated Colorado's political landscape for almost two years.

But in hyper-educated Colorado — which ranks second in the nation per capita for the number of people with college degrees — will the ad backfire? [Pols emphasis]

Because the oil and gas industry has–pardon the pun–money to burn on promoting its agenda, we expect them to shovel every kind of media at Colorado voters for as long as their risk/benefit equations make it gainful. This ad is a lesson in the need to better prescreen the concepts their media department/consultants/meddling executive directors hatch in a moment of heady, undisciplined groupthink. You've been to those meetings.

Meetings where they hatch really bad ideas.

You see, outside the world of the oil and gas industry's vast payroll and legions of politicos and PR firms in their orbit, a large percentage of perfectly reasonable, well educated people have legitimate concerns about drilling–especially now that "fracking" has brought drilling to places it previously was not, residential areas unaccustomed to industrial activity. These are not people who want to ban the practice of fracking outright; but they are persuadable that the industry's invasive status quo, sometimes in neighborhoods like their own, is not satisfactory.

And this ad more or less insults them all.

At the end of the day, the purpose of paid advertising is not to make the people who already agree with you chuckle, it's to persuade persuadables who have not yet decided. This might be a good video to play at oil and gas industry trade conferences to lighten the mood or whatever, but for the purpose of reaching the middle-road segment of Colorado voters who could decide the fate of local control ballot initiatives this November, it's misguided enough to significantly backfire on its creators.

My response to the lies and racism that Rachel O’Bryan of SMART Colorado is promoting

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Hi Rachel,
My name is Wanda James and I am former Naval Intelligence Officer, a former marketing director at two Fortune 100 companies and I served on Barack Obama's National Finance Committee. I was also a part of the Amendment 64 campaign and task force work group. And I'm Black.

As a Black woman, I am more concerned with the arrest of black and brown children over cannabis. Clearly this is a racial issue. The NAACP and the ACLU have clearly outlined the destruction of the black and brown communities over cannabis arrests. I find your misinformation and flat out lies truly disturbing.

https://www.aclu.org/billions-dollars-wasted-racially-biased-arrests
http://www.nytimes.com/2013/06/04/us/marijuana-arrests-four-times-as-likely-for-blacks.html?_r=2&

I watched in horror as you and your counterparts presented a series of misinformation and political spin in Florida. It is sad to watch. Yes, 94% of people on the Marijuana registry have pain. I'm sure you know that pain is the leading condition for the over prescribed, Oxycodone and it is killing our population. As a matter of fact Colorado has the second-highest rate of prescription-painkiller abuse in the nation, according to a new federal report, boosting the urgency of various state efforts to curb rampant overuse of the pills.

Six percent of Coloradans said they used prescription painkillers — such as Percocet or OxyContin — for nonmedical purposes in 2010 and 2011, according to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health. That was second only to Oregon, where the rate was 6.37 percent. And BTW, over 500,000 children have been prescribed this drug.

http://www.nytimes.com/2002/09/19/us/children-s-use-of-prescription-drugs-is-surging-study-shows.html

So, if people choose a plant that has NO ability to kill them, isn't that a better choice. Facts Rachel, you must address the facts.

Secondly, since when hasn't food been considered medicine? And where did you get your MD from? According to the Hopkins University, food is apparently the best medicine of all. Dr. Oz has said the same; if medical scientific studies are too difficult understand. There is also this little tidbit from a guy in ancient times….
“Let medicine be thy food and let food be thy medicine." — Hippocrates

And lastly Rachel, as for the person that took an edible and jumped out of a window, truly a tragedy. Not unlike the kids that die each year at CU Boulder and other American universities from guzzling whiskey. And I am sure that you are aware that Colorado tops the list of alcohol related deaths. 1 in 7 adults die from alcohol in this state.

http://www.9news.com/story/news/local/2014/06/29/alcohol-responsible-for-1-in-7-deaths-among-co-adults/11699461/

So, I implore you to stop with the reefer madness and give people facts. The fiction created by you and a bunch of racist law enforcement officers for the purpose of continuing to harass black and brown people, and lock up their children for the purposes of slave labor, will not go unanswered. But of course, the idea of parenting for white women is obviously not the answer. You are happier with black and Latino mothers losing their children to life in prison, than the simple idea of white women teaching their children how to deal in world full of temptations, like alcohol, sex and too much sugar. Your White Privilege does not trump facts. Nor does it trump our right to Freedom.

Wanda James
wanda@cannabisglobal.org