► Congressman Mike Coffman’s re-election campaign is mashing the panic button. On Monday, Coffman’s campaign started attacking Democratic opponent Morgan Carrollwith bizarre claims that she is not a supporter of immigration reform; in 2013, in fact, Carroll was a co-sponsor of the ASSET bill in Colorado, also known as “Colorado’s DREAM Act.” Of course, it is Coffman who has been wishy-washy on immigration issues throughout his entire career, and Monday’s blatant attempt to confuse the issue was another indication of Coffman’s political worries this election cycle.
► Republican Presidential nominee Donald Trump is sorta-kinda taking a new approach to the issue of illegal immigration. As the Washington Post reports:
After spending a few days reflecting on his immigration stances and consulting with Hispanic supporters, Donald Trump on Monday detailed how he would deal with the millions of immigrants illegally living in the United States: Enforce laws that are already on the books and continue to do what President Obama is doing, although “perhaps with a lot more energy.”
This strategy marks a sudden change for the Republican nominee, who has presented himself as a politically incorrect outsider who is not afraid to take extreme measures to combat illegal immigration, such as deporting 11 million people or constructing a massive wall along the Southern border. For more than a year, Trump insisted that all illegal immigrants “have got to go” and that he would create a “deportation force” to carry out the task.
Trump struck a starkly different tone during an interview with Bill O’Reilly that aired on Fox News on Monday night. Trump said he would separate the country’s undocumented immigrants into two groups: The “bad ones” who would be kicked out of the country as soon as he takes office and “everybody else” who would go through the same process that the Obama Administration is currently using.
On Monday, Trump told O’Reilly that the first thing he would do as President would be to “get rid of all the bad [illegal immigrants.]” That sounds so easy! Why didn’t anyone think of that before?
UPDATE: As Politico reports, Trump’s schedule changes are directly related to his new campaign team:
The new approach, which includes visits to Florida and Nevada, appears to have the fingerprints of Kellyanne Conway, a respected Republican pollster who was elevated last week to the role of campaign manager and who has been credited for Trump’s toned-down approach in recent days.
Asked on Tuesday why the campaign decided to nix Trump’s speech on immigration previously slated for Thursday in Colorado, Conway suggested it as a vestige of the old regime.
“You know, we inherited this schedule and although I think it’s a great idea to have that kind of speech and certainly put together a full plan, immigration is such a complex issue and Mr. Trump has been taking the counsel of many different people on this,” Conway told Fox News. “He obviously has some very strong feelings and policy prescription with respect to immigration, but he’s speaking to people to understand how to execute on those ideas.”
USA TODAY’s Eliza Collinsreports on the recent spate of event cancellations by embattled Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump–including an event in Denver on Thursday where Trump was set to discuss (sorry, Rep. Mike Coffman) immigration policy:
On Monday, outlets in Colorado, Nevada and Oregon reported that Trump events set to go on in their states were canceled, though in Nevada and Colorado, Trump is still slated to attend fundraisers.
Trump was originally scheduled to make a speech on immigration in Denver on Thursday, but according to The Denver Post the speech has been postponed. The campaign said that his speech was “still being modified.” Trump will, however, attend a fundraiser in Aspen, according to the Post…
Both Colorado and Nevada are battleground states where Hillary Clinton leads in recent polling. However, a Suffolk University poll last week had her lead within the margin of error in Nevada.
The Wall Street Journalhad a good piece last week explaining what the latest staff shakeups and now public appearance cutbacks mean for Trump: damage control before he loses even more Republican support. If he’s hiding in Aspen with Larry Mizel, he’s not outraging the majority of Americans:
Donald Trump’s overhaul of his campaign staff, his second shake-up in two months, is being welcomed by Republicans who want a dramatic change in the candidate’s faltering trajectory. But many are worried about the kind of change it will bring and about whether the campaign will be able to recover the ground Mr. Trump has lost in recent weeks…
Some allies of Mr. Trump say the problem isn’t his top staffers; it’s the nominee himself and his performance on the stump. Paul Manafort, the Trump campaign chairman, had said repeatedly that Mr. Trump was transitioning into a more disciplined candidate, only to see him go off-script.
Some Republicans see Labor Day, the traditional starting line for the last sprint to the general election, as a kind of deadline for Mr. Trump.
Trump’s free-wheeling speeches at public campaign events are a major part of his historic energizing of the right-wing GOP grassroots–which enabled him to power right past the helpless Republican establishment and seize the nomination in essentially a hostile takeover of the party. At the same time, Trump’s unscripted, frequently juvenile, and almost always hotly controversial words on the stump may well be setting the Republican Party up for its greatest landslide defeat in generations.
In terms of actually making Donald Trump competitive in this year’s presidential election, we’d say it’s much too late for that. But muzzling Trump before Labor Day could be one of the only damage control options left that might help salvage races down the ballot.
Assuming Trump can stay muzzled, which we’re inclined to doubt.
But didn’t Carroll vote against the “Dream Act” in Colorado, Tancredo asked, reminding me that he’d referenced this on the radio, when he said, “Who knows, we may have something better [with Carroll].”
I told Coffman that Carroll had initially voted against providing in-state tuition for undocumented students in Colorado, but she later joined state lawmakers in passing the measure.
So, today, even with Coffman’s shifts on immigration, Coffman is much more in Tancredo’s immigration camp than Carroll, who’s now as immigrant-friendly as they get, I told Tancredo.
“With that in mind,” Tancredo said after hearing this, “I guess I’d write somebody else in. That would probably be my fallback position.”
So Tancredo changed his mind. He wouldn’t vote for Carroll.
“My point is this, more than anything else,” said Tancredo. “… I am absolutely convinced that [Coffman] is a fraud. If Trump were [running] even in the district, or if [Trump] were ahead, I know that Mike Coffman would be putting ads on TV talking about how wonderful Trump is.”
But does Tancredo think Coffman is sincere about his past and present opposition to the comprehensive immigration bill that Carroll supports?
“No. I don’t think there’s anything sincere about Mike Coffman,” said Tancredo, whom Coffman once called his “hero.” “Nothing that I have observed over the last several years would lead me to that conclusion, except his sincere desire to remain in Congress. So I guess I would say that’s a caveat there.”
UPDATE: For good measure, here’s a clip of Mike Coffman praising Tom Tancredo during the latter’s run for governor in 2010:
Listen to the lavish praise from Coffman for Tancredo “standing up” to President Bush’s immigration reform attempts.
And ask yourself how this could possibly be the same man vilifying Democrats today by likening them to Tancredo.
In 2014, GOP Rep. Mike Coffman, who once called the DREAM Act to protect immigrant students “a nightmare for the American people” and fought against immigration reform until his congressional district was redrawn to include a large immigrant population, defeated his Democratic opponent in part by audaciously claiming his own position on immigration to be more progressive than the Democrat in the race.
This year, Coffman doesn’t seem to be changing the playbook a bit against his current Democratic opponent, Sen. Morgan Carroll:
Don’t be modest, Morgan. You were the deciding vote to kill CO’s Dream Act.
That’s in reference to Coffman’s predecessor Tom Tancredo, the nationally-famous anti-immigration firebrand who has recently criticized Coffman’s reinvention on the issue as contrived to win votes in his new district. This Tweet refers to a vote in 2009 by Sen. Carroll against legislation that would have created similar tuition status as the DREAM Act for undocumented high school graduates in Colorado.
Just one problem: in 2013, Sen. Carroll cosponsored the ASSET bill, a.k.a. “Colorado’s DREAM Act.” ASSET is now the law in Colorado thanks to Carroll’s support. Once you realize that, it’s obvious that Coffman’s campaign is playing the most cynical kind of game with the truth–the lie of omission.
In 2006, as at least a few of our longtime readers will remember, Republicans proposed a harsh immigration crackdown ballot measure called “Defend Colorado Now.” Hoping to forestall that measure, Democrats in the Colorado legislature made the in-hindsight highly regrettable decision to convene a special session of the legislature to pass immigration restrictions that would make such a ballot measure “unnecessary.” The truth is, Tom Tancredo was one of the original backers of the Defend Colorado Now measure, and was opposed to the special session convened by Democrats to forestall it.
Folks, what side do you think Coffman was on? The Longmont Times-Call reported (article no longer online):
Illegal-immigration foes drew a crowd to the foot of the state Capitol on Thursday to launch their petition drive for a state ballot measure that would deny government services to anyone who’s not in this country legally…
The rally began with state Treasurer Mike Coffman, a Republican candidate for secretary of state, leading the participants in the pledge of allegiance. [Pols emphasis]
In retrospect, both the 2006 Defend Colorado Now measure and the legislative session convened to counter it were ill-advised. Democrats have been taking their lumps over that mistake since 2006. But not only was Morgan Carroll working against Tancredo’s goals in 2006, at that same moment, Mike Coffman was the one standing with Tom Tancredo.
The real story behind today’s attacks on Carroll from Coffman’s campaign is one of such eye-popping hypocrisy and outright falsehoods that we’re legitimately surprised Coffman was willing to go there yet again. On the other hand, this is the perfect example of the kind of blatant disregard for the truth Coffman has repeatedly demonstrated against his Democratic opponents since redistricting.
For all the deference Coffman gets from the media over his wholesale flip-flops on the issues, with this latest we think Coffman may finally have taken it too far. Everyone who was there in 2006 knows the truth about what Coffman said and did then. It’s not a question of interpretation. It’s not a “misstatement.”
According to a press release from the Colorado Secretary of State’s office, an initiative seeking to increase the Tobacco Tax has gained approval and will be on the fall ballot:
Initiative No. 143 would amend Colorado’s constitution so that starting in January taxes on a pack of cigarettes would increase from 84 cents per pack to $2.59 per pack. The tax on other tobacco products would increase by 22 percent of the manufacturers’ list price. The language in the measure spells out how specific percentages of tax revenues would be spent.
As of today, there are five measures that are approved for the statewide ballot:
ColoradoCare (single-payer health insurance)
Minimum Wage Increase
Medical Aid in Dying
Making it Harder to Amend the Constitution
Tobacco Tax Increase
Four other proposed initiatives are still awaiting final ballot approval:
In one of the most important elections of our lifetime, in one of the most important counties in the state, the Donald Trump campaign is relying heavily on a 12 year old to help open a field office.
Weston Imer is co-chair of the campaign in Jefferson County.
If you stopped by the field office at the corner of 27th and Youngfield in Wheat Ridge Friday, you would have seen young Weston instructing volunteers on what to do, as well as making phone calls to supporters…
Now first of all, we think it’s totally cool that a 12-year-old kid is interested enough in politics to put in long hours volunteering to help open a campaign office. When we say we wish there were more kids interested in politics and willing to actually get involved in a meaningful way, we mean it–and Weston Imer is living the dream.
But with that said, no, we obviously don’t think having a 12-year-old kid as the co-chair of Donald Trump’s campaign in the pivotal swing suburban battleground of Jefferson County, Colorado is a good idea. The Trump campaign’s reputation for the hiring of campaign operatives most charitably described as “second string,” meaning losers and total unknowns, is not helped by putting a 12-year-old “in charge” of deploying volunteers and making phone calls. It almost seems like the Trump campaign is deliberately pushing Weston Imer’s story of “running the Jeffco office” as a positive for them.
With all due respect to a great kid with a bright future, this isn’t a good story for Trump.
One of the more significant messaging problems for Colorado Republicans this year during the legislative session was a gaffe committed by Rep. Kevin Priola, now a candidate for the Colorado Senate in closely-divided Senate District 25 in Adams County. Priola was part of a committee debating a bill to expand family leave rights for employees to attend their children’s academic functions. Priola voted no on the bill, but not before requesting a delay of the vote so he could take his own children to a doctor’s appointment.
The issue is expected to loom large in Priola’s closely-watched race for the Senate against Democratic opponent Jenise May–and as the Colorado Statesman’sJohn Tomasicreports, Priola seems eager to tackle the problem head-on:
This year at the Legislature, progressive groups pilloried Priola for voting against a parental leave bill after asking for time off from the committee that was considering the bill in order to take one of his kids to the doctor. Priola’s critics called him a hypocrite.
Priola said the flap actually says something positive about how he goes about his work at the Legislature.
“Honestly, it was going door to door that colored my decision on that bill. I’ve probably knocked 45,000 doors through the years. Not once, not one time, has one person ever said, ‘You know what, I really wish I had time off to go to my kids parent-teacher conference. [Pols emphasis] That’s a problem in my life.’ That never happened, not one time. And that’s because people live in the real world. They have good relationships with their employers, and employers know that if they’re too harsh, employees will just call in sick to go to the conference, or they’ll say their aunt died…
“It’s having that real world experience. I’m a small business owner. I work with people. I have lots of conversations. Too often, people run legislation that sounds good but that just clutters up the statutes, and no one is really coming to say this is a real problem. So you sometimes say, ‘C’mon, maybe this is just silly.’” [Pols emphasis]
Needless to say, or at least we hope it isn’t needed, this is a really horrible answer. The truth is that working parents of school-age children do need leave from work from time to time to attend their children’s academic functions. Priola “never heard about it” knocking on doors because he didn’t ask. But if you ask parents if they think they should be able to take leave from work for their kid’s school functions, they’re going to say yes in overwhelming numbers.
And that’s why downplaying parents’ need for parental leave, and especially calling the issue “silly,” is a huge mistake for Priola. Democrats have already signaled an intent to attack Priola on this issue, and this dismissive response proves the point they are trying to make. Sure there are a lot of good bosses, but Priola’s assumption that everybody has a good boss just doesn’t hold water in middle-class reality.
To have made the original mistake during the legislative session is one thing. To crassly double down like this as a candidate in a tough race? That’s a sign of real hubris.
In a subsequent KNUS radio interview with guest host Matt Dunn, Tancredo said, “as a conservative, we would lose nothing” if Coffman lost his seat. And Tanc went further:
Tancredo: [W]hen he won the election, I was of course a supporter and was happy about the fact that he would be succeeding me in that office because of what he promised me, because of our discussions about the issues, especially immigration. And of course all those things have gone by the wayside, and done so because he feels that he has to give up those principles — if he ever held them. I don’t know if he has any real set of principles upon which — you know, that certain bedrock – I don’t know that they exist at all…As his district changes, so does he. He sort of morphs into a different person.
…I’ll tell you this: if Trump were polling well in his district, you would be hearing nothing but accolades from Mike Coffman about Donald Trump. So, it isn’t – it doesn’t really have anything to do with Trump’s positions, his faux pas, his – whatever. It’s got nothing to do with that. It’s got everything to do with Mike wanting to keep that little pin on his collar – I mean, on his lapel, on his suit, that indicates you’re a Member of Congress. Because that’s more important to him than anything else. And I’m just sick of this stuff! I’m sick of it because it’s a seat we could still retain by somebody better. And you know, you just think to yourself, “What a — what a waste!” [Aug. 11, KNUS Peter Boyles show]
Keep in mind that Coffman once called Tancredo his “hero.”
Tancredo’s comments deserve wider media attention because they raise the question, again, of how many conservatives Coffman can piss off and still win a narrow majority in his district.
We took note of the photo proudly posted to social media by Republican Rep. Clarice Navarro of Pueblo from a recent campaign swing through Denver by presidential nominee Donald Trump–running in a competitive district full of the kinds of voters likely to find Trump, well, repulsive, Rep. Navarro proudly sucking up to the GOP’s controversial nominee could be considered politically very risky.
Well folks, Rep. Navarro wanted our readers in particular to know she ain’t worried:
And that is indeed a much better quality photo of Rep. Navarro with Donald Trump, everybody! This one should print out much better on Democratic opponent Jason Munoz’s mail pieces. Like we’ve said, the danger of Navarro publicly linking herself to Donald Trump is that it forces her to own Trump’s prodigious baggage–meaning that Trump’s own popularity (or lack thereof) is what makes these photos toxic or not. Photos with a Latina Republican lawmaker are of course good for Trump, but we don’t see how they help Navarro much.
The downside, however, is as big as Trump’s gap in the polls. Trump’s downward trajectory does not inspire confidence in Navarro’s judgment.
Cameron Forth is the new Republican candidate for State House in HD-18 (Colorado Springs). You might not know Cameron Forth, which is okay, because he probably doesn’t know you, either. And he’ll tell you that.
As of Thursday night, Forth is the new Republican challenger to Democratic Rep. Pete Lee, who was first elected in 2010 and has been comfortably re-elected ever since (this is not your typical conservative Colorado Springs district; about half of HD-18 voters are registered Unaffiliated). Republicans had already nominated Sonya Rose as their candidate, but Rose decided that she didn’t want to run after all, so the GOP needed to quickly convene a vacancy committee.
The Colorado Independent covered the events at last night’s vacancy committee, and the result is one of the more unintentionally-hilarious stories of the 2016 election cycle. You really need to read the entire story, but in the meantime, here’s a fun excerpt to get you started:
Speaking from a lectern, Rose nominates local land surveyor Cameron Forth for the post. His previous political experience included running for Congress in Iowa as an independent a decade ago.
“I don’t even know anyone in this room,” Forth says to the assembled local Republicans when he accepted the nomination. [Pols emphasis]
But, to Forth’s apparent surprise, he’s quickly challenged.
Forth ended up (kinda) winning the vacancy committee, which wasn’t totally official because Republicans didn’t have enough people show up to qualify for a quorum (State Party Chair Steve House had to formally appoint Forth as the candidate later). Forth emerged as the choice of the vacancy committee after two rounds of voting, despite the fact thatnobody knew who he was.
Following up on the week’s blue-on-blue dustup over Amendment 69, the “ColoradoCare” initiative to set up single-payer health coverage in Colorado–after liberal groups and a large contingent of Democratic lawmakers came out against the measure this week at a press conference hosted by liberal activist group ProgressNow Colorado, the AFL-CIO affiliated Colorado Building and Construction Trades Council representing 30,000 skilled trade workers in the state is urging its members to vote no:
“The Colorado Building and Construction Trades Council stands in opposition of Amendment 69. While our organization has a long history of fighting for national healthcare reform and for better benefits for our members, Amendment 69 would actually increase, and in many cases double, the healthcare costs of our construction industry employees represented by this council. It would also impact our fellow union members who travel to Colorado to help us build our infrastructure in Colorado.”
“The drafters of amendment 69 made broad assumptions that failed to recognize the complexities of the Taft-Hartley healthcare trust funds utilized by our employers and unions to provide healthcare to our members. Healthcare reform requires a national focus and uniform application to work for our members and this industry. For these reasons, we will be in opposition to Amendment 69.”
Our organization has three main concerns with Amendment 69:
• Our members would be forced to pay the Colorado Care payroll tax surcharge for at least 3 years while the fund to implement the program was established – all the while continuing to contribute to their existing healthcare plan. This would double our members costs for at least the first three years of the program.
• Amendment 69 would double the costs for our members with working spouses. Currently our healthcare benefits provide full family coverage for children and spouses allowing the spouse to often waive healthcare benefits when they choose to work. Amendment 69 would force the working spouses of our members to pay payroll tax surcharges for Colorado Care regardless of whether they were covered under the plan of their spouses.
• Finally, Amendment 69 would require union construction workers from other states who come to Colorado work to pay twice, for their existing healthcare plan at their home local union in another state AND the Colorado Care payroll tax surcharge for the wages they earn in Colorado. It is unclear whether or not the out-of-state workers would ever receive any benefits under Colorado Care. Colorado unions would still be required to reimburse out-of-state sister unions for the traveling employees healthcare benefits.
Every bit as significant comes word today that Democratic congressional candidate Morgan Carroll in CD-6 will oppose Amendment 69:
Carroll is just the latest high-profile Democrat to oppose Amendment 69, joining a long list of respected leaders from former Gov. Bill Ritter and Lt. Gov. Gail Schoettler to Gov. John Hickenlooper and much of the Democratic House caucus.
At this point, it should be evident that opposition to Amendment 69 is much stronger among liberal Democrats than anything that could be arranged by “corporate lobbyists” or other usual suspect blame receptacles. The policy objections raised by Democratic critics of the proposal, including the new problems voices by the trades council above, haven’t been acknowledged so much by Amendment 69’s proposed as dismissed out of hand. But along with objections raised by NARAL Pro Choice Colorado over access to abortion, these are legitimate concerns–not “misdirections” to be flip about.
And if it’s true that these weren’t adequately considered when Amendment 69 was drafted, well, that’s a big problem. The permanence of a constitutional amendment leaves no room for oversights of the kind these liberal interest groups allege. Unions and pro-choice advocates cannot be expected to go along with vague promises to address in the unspecified future problems they can see with their own eyes today.
When all of your allies are giving you the same bad news, it’s time to listen.