Dr. Chaps: Jared Polis Wants To Behead America’s Christians

Gordon Klingenschmitt.

Gordon Klingenschmitt.

Colorado House District 15's Republican nominee, Gordon "Dr. Chaps" Klingenschmitt, continues to shock national audiences with his video program–in which he has made statements that are, there's no nice way to say this, disqualifying from anything you'd call responsible politics. But after Klingenschmitt's victory in the June HD-15 primary, a relatively safe Republican district, the chances are pretty good that Dr. Chaps will be bringing his special brand of over-the-top distasteful lunacy to the Colorado Capitol next January.

When we say this guy is insane, do we really mean in a clinical sense, or just kind of, you know, metaphorically for politics? For those who still haven't heard about Dr. Chaps, we can't introduce him any better than Right Wing Watch:

Just let that sink in: a man who thinks that "Obamacare causes cancer," that the Bible commands people to own guns in order to "defend themselves against left wing crazies," and that the FCC is allowing demonic spirits to "molest and visually rape your children" is now a Republican candidate for office.

Yes, folks, we mean crazy on the objective scale. And you really can't say that about many politicians.

Early this morning, Klingenschmitt possibly topped even his own very high mark for insanity. In an email from Klingenschmitt's Pray in Jesus' Name Project, a screed attacking Rep. Jared Polis that very straightforwardly blew us away:

Gay Congressman:  "No Religious Exemptions" for Christians

The openly homosexual Congressman Jared Polis (D-CO) introduced a revised bill to force Christian employers and business owners to hire and promote homosexuals with ZERO RELIGIOUS EXEMPTIONS for Christians who want to opt out.

Polis "wants sexual orientation and gender identity treated the same way as race, religion, sex, and national origin, when it comes to employment protections," claims the Advocate, under the headline "Polis trims ENDA's religious exemption."

Dr. Chaps' comment:  The open persecution of Christians is underway.  Democrats like Polis want to bankrupt Christians who refuse to worship and endorse his sodomy.  Next he'll join ISIS in beheading Christians, but not just in Syria, right here in America. [Pols emphasis]

There's really no commentary necessary to elucidate how disgustingly inappropriate, false, nonsensical, whatever adjective you want to apply this is. To say this kind of talk has no place in Colorado politics is a major understatement. Perhaps the best that can be said is it's so far over the line, no one can take it seriously–but that brings us back to the fact that this man is the Republican nominee for a seat in the Colorado legislature.

Like it or not, many more people than Dr. Chaps should be ashamed right now.

What To Make of Gessler Harrassment Allegations?

Scott Gessler.

Scott Gessler.

Earlier this week, Westword's Melanie Asmar posted a story about the former chief financial officer in Colorado Secretary of State Scott Gessler's office–who claims she was harassed, intimidated, and ultimately demoted after she raised questions about Gessler's use of discretionary account funds. You'll recall that Gessler's use of taxpayer money to attend partisan political events resulted in a ruling from the state's Independent Ethics Commission that he had "breached the public trust for private gain."

As published at Westword Tuesday afternoon:

The former chief financial officer for the Colorado Secretary of State's Office is accusing Secretary Scott Gessler of harassing her, retaliating against her and eventually demoting her after she "began to push back on the financial mismanagement" she reportedly saw in the office. Heather Lizotte took issue with Gessler's use of the office's $5,000 discretionary fund and federal grant funds meant to improve state elections, according to a lengthy claim notice filed with the Colorado Attorney General's Office.

According to the notice, Lizotte began working for the secretary of state's office in 2003 and got excellent performance reviews for many years. The trouble started shortly after Gessler took office in 2010, the notice says. Gessler made headlines for wanting to moonlight at his previous law firm because, he claimed, the secretary of state's salary wasn't enough. Meanwhile, the notice says, Gessler didn't always provide receipts in connection with his use of the office's $5,000 discretionary fund; at the end of fiscal years 2011 and 2012, he also asked Lizotte to give him all of the money left in the fund.

Lizotte told Gessler's staff "that the casual practices being used were not appropriate," the notice says. In a November 2011 e-mail to two staffers, Lizotte wrote that all expenditures from the discretionary fund "should have supporting documentation (for example meal receipts etc.)" and that memos for "blanket expenditures" are not allowed. Lizotte's insistence on the rules, the notice says, caused "ongoing tension" between her and Gessler.

Heather Lizotte testified before the Independent Ethics Commission about the matter of Gessler's discretionary funds account. As Westword reports, Lizotte claims that after her testimony, Gessler and his close staff started shutting her out of meetings. Within a few months, Lizotte was on the wrong side of performance evaluations, and in June she was demoted with loss of pay. While we can't claim to know all of the particulars, there are plenty of circumstances in play here that could add up to plausible claim of retaliation.

Between Tuesday and yesterday afternoon, though, something interesting happened. In a new story, Asmar writes about SoS employees, in interviews "facilitated by Gessler's office," coming out of the woodwork to throw Gessler's former CFO under the bus:

[A] document signed by Deputy Secretary of State Suzanne Staiert gives different reasons, including that Lizotte abruptly left the office in December 2013 on sick leave without giving her staff any direction. Lizotte claims that she left because Gessler treated her "so aggressively that she became frightened and seriously ill" and that she did brief her staff on how to handle the meetings scheduled during her absence…

Ryan Moyle, who worked for Lizotte from April 2011 until he left the department in November 2013, says that it seemed to him that Lizotte was in over her head. "In my experience, we were doing a lot of her work," says Moyle, who was a budget analyst.

Moyle says he never saw Gessler mistreat Lizotte; instead, he was "supportive" and "patient" with her. However, Moyle recalls Lizotte saying things that made it clear she didn't see things the same way. "She would always make comments about how it was a boys' club and the men didn't respect her," Moyle says…

Deana Wiedemann, an account tech who worked under Lizotte for eight years, agrees. "It's been a rough road to work with her," Wiedemann says in a conversation facilitated by Gessler's office. "Nothing has been consistent with how she makes decisions."

Bottom line: we don't know Heather Lizotte. We don't know any of the people in the story above who question her performance in these downright ad hominem terms. We do know that Lizotte's employment with the Secretary of State's office predates Gessler's term, meaning she wasn't part of the team that Gessler brought in when he took office. And we know that Gessler was found by the IEC, with their judgment upheld in court, to have improperly spent his office's discretionary funds–which could quite reasonably upset his CFO. The Colorado Civil Rights Division, which is currently investigating, will eventually make a judgment. Until then, yesterday's story ends this way:

Laura Schwartz, one of Lizotte's attorneys, says that Lizotte disagrees with the statements made by the other employees but does not want to comment on them further. Adds Schwartz: "These people who are coming out against Heather are the very people who want to stay in touch with a powerful person. And Gessler is." [Pols emphasis]

Perhaps Gessler will be vindicated. But if he is not vindicated, these subsequent actions, marshaling current and former employees to smear this woman even as the investigation of her claims is underway, could turn out to be one of the very worst of "Honey Badger's" many misdeeds.

Weekend Open Thread

"It is a man's own mind, not his enemy or foe, that lures him to evil ways."

–Gautama Buddha

Big Line Updates; Now, with Percentages!

We have occasionally changed the appearance of The Big Line from representing fractional odds to presenting percentages. It's a matter of preference, of course, but as Election Day nears and Colorado Pols attracts more and new readers, we figured now would be a good time to switch again to percentages.

Here's what we're currently thinking as to the main movers in the top races in Colorado. For the first time this cycle, we've also added Lines for State Senate and State House majorities, respectively.

U.S. SENATE
Mark Udall (65%)
Cory Gardner (35%)

Gardner has been throwing multiple messages at the wall of late, which is typically the sign of a campaign that doesn't feel confident in the direction it is headed. There's a saying in football that if you are rotating more than one quarterback into the game, then you don't really have a quarterback. If you're a Gardner fan, this is a very difficult question to answer: What is his path to victory here?

 

GOVERNOR
John Hickenlooper (68%)
Bob Beauprez (32%)

While there has never been a point in this race where it really felt like Gov. Hickenlooper was in trouble, Hick has made enough errors that it has provided Beauprez with an opportunity. Still, Beauprez can't win just by running a decent race; if Hick stops his stumble, there's not enough room for Beauprez to squeeze past in November.
 

ATTORNEY GENERAL, STATE TREASURER, SECRETARY OF STATE
With so much money going into races for the U.S. Senate and CD-6, there will be little oxygen left in the room for candidates in the other statewide races after Governor. It's difficult to tell at this stage whether any of the candidates will be able to do enough to make their own luck.
 

CD-6 (Aurora-ish)
Andrew Romanoff (54%)
Mike Coffman (46%)

We wrote earlier about our belief that Countdown Coffman is underway following incumbent Rep. Coffman's boorish behavior in last week's debates. We've been hearing consistent buzz that Romanoff is now rising steadily while Coffman seeks the momentum he needs to prevent a complete collapse.
 

STATE SENATE MAJORITY
DEMOCRATS (55%)
REPUBLICANS (45%)

We usually wait until this point in the cycle to attempt handicapping state legislative outcomes, but our analysis is similar to what we anticipated in the aftermath of the June Primary. Tea Party victories in two key Senate districts (SD-19 and SD-22) make winning the majority an uphill battle for Republicans.


STATE HOUSE MAJORITY
DEMOCRATS (75%)
REPUBLICANS (25%)

The ballot wasn't even completely settled until recently, but the direction of this battle has been clear for some time. Republicans have had difficulty even finding candidates for 2014; the GOP will be lucky not to lose a seat or two at this point.


Check out the full Big Line 2014 or comment below.

Obamacare “Cancellation” Carping Gets Dumber By The Day

As the Denver Post's Electra Draper reports, Republican opponents of the Affordable Care Act in Colorado have taken to regularly updating the number of health insurance "cancellations" in Colorado, so as to pronounce each new one a cataclysmic failure of President Barack Obama, Senator Mark Udall, and everybody else all the way down the line–presumably not Republicans who supported Colorado's health insurance exchange, but everybody else:

The Colorado Division of Insurance has reported that there were about 2,100 health-plan cancellations in the state over the past two months, bringing this year's total to more than 6,150.

The division reported the figures for June 15-Aug. 15 to Senate Minority Leader Bill Cadman last week. Senate Republicans have requested monthly on the numbers…

Since 2013, there have been about 340,000 policy cancelations in Colorado. Many customers received notices last fall as the Affordable Care Act was rolling out.

Policies that did not meet the act's minimum standards were canceled, though customers were offered replacement policies. Other cancellations were the result of business decisions by the insurers as part of normal operations. The insurance division did not track cancelation numbers in the same way before the act.

Opponents of the Affordable Care Act cite the cancelations as proof that it is hurting consumers more than helping.

The conservative Daily Caller portrays these new "cancellations" as further proof of Obamacare's utter failure:

More than 2,000 more Coloradans had their health insurance plans cancelled as a result of the Affordable Care Act, according to a letter from the state regulatory agency to state Senate Republicans.

Following a dust-up earlier this year between Colorado Democratic Sen. Mark Udall and the Division of Insurance, Republicans have requested regular updates on policies that are cancelled because they don’t conform to Obamacare or because companies are getting out of the individual insurance market…

State Senate Republicans have requested regular updates from the insurance commission about continuing cancellations. In March, the commission reported 1,755 cancellations and in June another 2,320. Last week’s total was 2,105.

In all, nearly 340,000 Coloradans received cancellation notices, although not all are because they don’t conform to the ACA; some carriers are leaving the individual insurance market altogether.

The "335,000 cancellations" figure is one we've been talking about in this space for many months, mostly in an effort to debunk highly misleading characterizations of the issue. As we've noted repeatedly, over 90% of these "cancellations" were in fact renewal notices for existing policies, as state health insurance officials had determined this was permissible even before President Obama did the same thing for health plans across the nation. We're honestly surprised to still be seeing this talking point at all, after studies showing the rate of uninsured in Colorado has plunged arithmetically disproved it.

But setting aside the "cancellations" that occurred after the rollout of the ACA versus subsequent total numbers of insured, there's a much more basic reason this claim is just getting silly. Even before Obamacare, insurance plans in the individual and small group markets were routinely cancelled and modified by insurance companies. There is nothing to indicate that we are seeing a higher rate of cancellations today, now that the initial changeover due to ACA mandates is past, than before the ACA was implemented. Insurance companies used to cancel plans for all kinds of financial reasons, many of which have been outlawed by the ACA's tight restrictions on the rescission of policies. Consumers in the individual market were well accustomed to this. But for the things that actually matter, like getting sick, cancellations are no longer a threat as they were before the ACA.

Bottom line: there's a reason why attacks on Obamacare like the "cancellations" canard are widely believed to be running out of stream. It's because voters can see for themselves now that the horror stories promised by Republicans once the ACA went into effect have not come to pass. If the millions of Americans the GOP insists "lost their health insurance" actually had, there would be riots in the streets. Instead, we now know that the rate of uninsured both nationally and in Colorado has plummeted since the ACA went into effect. Republicans continue to pump more and more money into ads demonizing Obamacare, but the point of diminishing return has already been hit.

To quote Gertrude Stein, "there is no there there."

Judge Allows Jane Barnes to Remain on the Ballot in HD-23

Jane Barnes.

Republican HD-23 candidate Jane Barnes

The long, strange saga of finding a Republican candidate in House District 23 (Lakewood) reached a conclusion yesterday when a Jefferson County judge ruled that Jane Barnes will remain on the fall ballot despite acknowledging that the Republican Party missed deadlines en route to finally nominating someone to challenge incumbent Democratic Rep. Max Tyler. The Jefferson County Republican Party is still imploding, to be sure, but they can celebrate this minor victory.

As John Aguilar of the Denver Post reports:

Attorney Edward Ramey, representing the Democrats, told the judge that after Nate Marshall, the first GOP candidate for the seat, dropped out of the race in early April after it came to light that he had sympathized with white supremacists, the Republican Party failed to certify a replacement candidate in the time required by law.

It formed a vacancy committee at the end of April to choose Barnes as its candidate. She didn't file her papers with the Colorado Secretary of State's Office until May 2, Ramey said, about three weeks too late…

Attorneys for the GOP, the Jefferson County Clerk's Office and the Secretary of State's Office argued that the Democrats were making a "hyper-technical" argument about deadlines that would have the effect of disenfranchising voters.

While acknowledging that Republicans missed the dates outlined by the state, attorney Writer Mott told the judge that the party is in "substantial compliance" with the law and should be able to move forward.

There was no argument from Republicans or the Secretary of State's office that Republicans missed the deadline to find a replacement candidate to end the brief, but disastrous, Nate Marshall experiment. In fact, Republican attorneys admitted that they dropped the ball. But Jefferson County DIstrict Judge Stephen Munsinger effectively punted on a decision rather than removing Barnes from the ballot, which would have left Republicans without a candidate to challenge Rep. Tyler. As we wrote back in May, there really is no reason whatsoever for Jefferson County Republicans to have screwed this up:

Jefferson County Republican Party officials inexplicably waited several weeks to form a vacancy committee to replace Marshall on the ballot — you would think that the GOP would be in more of a hurry to close this ridiculous chapter — and it wasn't until Monday, April 28, that they (very quietly) officially met to replace Marshall on the ballot. If you are wondering who the Republicans found to replace Marshall on the ballot, you wouldn't be alone — nobody in or out of the Republican Party said anything about the candidate who prevailed at the vacancy committee. There was no press release. No call to reporters. Even today, the Jeffco Republican Party website doesn't even list a candidate in HD-23.

It wasn't much of a surprise to see Judge Munsinger rule that Barnes could remain on the ballot — though it certainly calls into question the merits of having candidate filing deadlines if they apparently aren't enforceable — but the Barnes case remains a black eye for a Republican Party that has been utterly incompetent in trying to find candidates to challenge incumbents in winnable House Districts. Judge Munsinger ruled that the missed deadlines in HD-23 were an "isolated incident," though that has absolutely not been the case with the GOP in 2014. We posted the following chart (after the jump) in July as a way of illustrating the follies of House Republican leadership in 2014; it's hard to win back control of the State House when you aren't even filling out paperwork correctly.

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Hickenlooper Picks Max Potter as New Communications Director

Maxamillian Potter

Max Potter, Gov. Hickenlooper’s new Communications Director

Governor John Hickenlooper informed his staff this week that Max Potter will replace the departed Eric Brown as the Governor's Communications Director.

Potter was a longtime editor at 5280 magazine before making a surprise jump to Hickenlooper's staff earlier this year in a broad communications role. Brown left the Governor's office in July for a communications job in the private sector. Kathy Green, director of communications for the Colorado Tourism Office, has served as interim Communications Director since Brown's departure.

Oppo Dump: Cory Gardner Co-Wrote “Disastrous” Amendment 52

Mark Udall, Cory Gardner.

Mark Udall, Cory Gardner.

A lengthy press release and “research dump” this week from Sen. Mark Udall’s campaign highlights an issue that could prove damaging to GOP Senate candidate Cory Gardner with otherwise conservative-leaning constituencies–his co-authorship of 2008′s failed Amendment 52, which would have diverted mineral severance tax funding revenues away from water projects to road construction.

Amendment 52 was described by co-author Josh Penry as a retaliatory ballot measure, intended to complicate the implementation of Amendment 58–a measure from then Gov. Bill Ritter to increase mineral severance taxes to fund education. As the Denver Post’s Mark Jaffe reported then:

“This is all about politics,” said Sen. Josh Penry, R-Grand Junction, a sponsor of Amendment 52. [Pols emphasis]

Penry said that when Gov. Bill Ritter chose to seek the severance-tax change through the ballot rather than the legislature, those seeking more money for highways “were forced to put our own proposal to the voters.”

Amendment 52, which would become part of the state constitution, would cap tax revenues for water projects and could provide $90 million next year for highway projects and $1 billion over the next decade, supporters say.

While Amendment 58 failed at the polls in 2008, Gardner and Penry’s Amendment 52 went down by a much wider margin. Just about every local government representation group, the state’s Department of Natural Resources, conservationists, and most importantly, water rights stakeholders from across the state came out against Amendment 52.

“We know that we are facing a growing population and a need for water projects,” said Chris Treese, a spokesman for the Colorado River District. “This just hurts.”

We’ve reprinted the Udall campaign’s detailed press release on this subject after the jump. This is just one of a number of stories from Gardner’s long career in politics that warrants close scrutiny by the press between now and Election Day. The negative takeaways for Gardner from the Amendment 52 story are significant: from inappropriate tit-for-tat using our state’s constitution as his chessboard to a callous disregard for vital stakeholders in Colorado’s economy, for the purpose of protecting a couple of percentage points for his benefactors in oil and gas industry.

And there’s absolutely nothing about this story that makes Cory Gardner look good.

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Friday Open Thread

“The future influences the present just as much as the past.”

–Friedrich Nietzsche

Stapleton cites possibility of judicial bias in PERA lawsuit decision

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Colorado State Treasurer Walker Stapleton took to the airwaves of KLZ 560-AM yesterday to raise the specter of judicial bias in Monday’s Colorado Supreme Court decision not to release records on the top PERA recipients.

Speaking on KLZ’s nooner show, Freedom560, hosted by Ken Clark, Stapleton said:

“It’s worth pointing out, call me a cynic, that every single member of the judicial branch is also a member of PERA. And that means that every single judge that heard my case had a vested economic interest in doing nothing about the problem, in maintaining the status quo, in feeling that their pension would be somehow released to me and not wanting that to be the case. I mean it’s mind-boggling to think our judicial branch is aiding and abetting a lack of transparency. It really is.”

Commenting via Twitter on Stapleton’s remark, Luis Toro, Director of Colorado Ethics Watch, wrote dryly: “Shocking admission that the point of his suit is to undermine PERA. If his suit was to strengthen PERA, the ‘vested interest’ would be to support him, wouldn’t it?”

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Colorado a Role Model on Health Reform, and That’s No Accident

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

The No. 1 goal of the Affordable Care Act is to make sure that more Americans have health insurance.

How’s that working out?

We learned recently that, nationally, the uninsured rate has dropped from a high of 18 percent in 2013 to 13.4 percent as of June, according to the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index.

And the same survey has numbers for Colorado: In 2013, 17 percent of residents had no insurance. A year later, after the start of the ACA, the number is down to 11 percent.  Colorado ranks fifth among all states in reducing the size of its uninsured population.

Colorado’s success didn’t happen by accident, and it stands in stark contrast to states that have not pursued reforms, either on their own or though the ACA.

In Colorado, it took foresight and cooperation among lawmakers, policy-makers, administrators and other stakeholders. When the ACA came along in 2010, Colorado had already taken many important steps to reform health insurance and access to health care.

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DSCC Drops $1 Million To Hammer Gardner on Abortion

AP’s Phillip Elliot reports on the latest media buy from the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, $1 million on an ad hitting GOP Senate candidate Cory Gardner squarely on the issue of abortion:

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee on Thursday ordered a two-week ad buy that hammers Republican congressman Cory Gardner. The narrator in the 30-second ad says Gardner backed three amendments that would have banned all abortions.

Gardner supported changes to Colorado’s state constitution that would have banned stem cell research, some birth control and abortion. Gardner has since changed his position on the so-called personhood measure, and says now he opposes it.

From the DSCC’s release:

“If Congressman Cory Gardner had his way, Colorado women would be denied critical decisions about their personal health,” said Justin Barasky, a spokesman at the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. “Congressman Gardner’s record of backing measures to take women’s health care decisions away is simply too extreme for Colorado. Until Election Day, the DSCC will continue to highlight how Congressman Gardner is completely wrong for Colorado women, seniors, and middle class families.”

What’s particularly interesting to us about this latest TV spot is the lack of any mention of birth control–focusing strictly on Gardner’s support for banning all abortions, even in cases of rape or incest. Much of the advertising up to this point has tried to invoke the added consequence of banning birth control as a result of the Personhood abortion bans, and the federal Life at Conception Act that Gardner remains a co-sponsor of. Gardner has vigorously pushed back against the assertion that he wanted to ban even so-called “abortifacient” birth control as Personhood proponents did–going as far as voicing support for over-the-counter birth control as a means of deflecting the charge that he supports legislation that could ban it.

By avoiding the issue of birth control entirely and focusing solely on Gardner’s support for total abortion bans even in cases of rape or incest, the DSCC takes away Gardner’s ability to deflect. Regardless of whether or not you believe Gardner wanted to ban birth control when he supported legislation that could have that effect, there’s no question that Gardner has repeatedly sponsored and voted for legislation to ban all abortions without exception. To be honest, anecdotal conversations we’ve had with low-information voters suggest to us that the claim Gardner supported legislation to ban birth control, intentionally or not, is much harder to swallow than the argument that Gardner supports banning all abortions even in cases of rape or incest.

Given the public’s skepticism of election-season claims these days, it may indeed be better to stick to an argument that Gardner can’t, as local Republican consultant Katy Atkinson crassly admitted was the plan, “muddy up.”

Because we don’t think Gardner can say much about this one.

Gardner Goes Full “Con Man Cory” In Aspen Times Interview

Cory Gardner.

Cory Gardner.

Republican U.S. Senate candidate Cory Gardner sat down with Aspen Times reporter Rick Carroll this week, and was subjected to a lively battery of questions ranging from his views on abortion and contraception to local control over oil and gas drilling. Gardner’s answers are in some ways tellingly evasive if you know the facts, while others could come back to haunt him in very straightforward ways between now and Election Day. Here are some excerpts, make sure you click through to read the whole thing.

On birth control:

AT: During this campaign you have said you favor over-the-counter birth-control pills. Is it fair to say you have changed your mind and how do you explain that?

Gardner: Sen. Udall’s lying and because Sen. Udall can’t run on the economy, on energy, he can’t run on health care, he’s got to run away from those issues. He’s running a very negative and deceptive campaign full of untruths…the fact is I support contraception available over the counter without prescription.

AT: Without prescription?

Gardner: Yes, and that’s the key part and we need to fix Obamacare to allow that to happen… [Pols emphasis]

On abortion:

AT: Do you believe that women have their own right to make their own choices about health care, specifically abortion?

Gardner: I am pro-life and I have voted for measures that have exceptions. [Pols emphasis] I think Sen. Udall wants to divide the state of Colorado and not focus on issues of the economy or health care or energy. In fact, I would say this: When it comes to health care, Sen. Udall has said that people shouldn’t be making their own health-care choices. He cast one of his votes on Obamacare, a bill passed that took 335,000 Coloradans off the insurance they were promised they could keep…

On immigration:

AT: Earlier this month you broke rank with the Republicans by voting against a bill that would have dismantled the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival. But in 2013 you voted in favor of a bill that would have ended it. Can you explain your change of heart?

Gardner: Those were two different pieces of legislation at different times… [Pols emphasis]

On oil and gas drilling and climate change:

AT: Do you support Udall’s legislation to protect the Thompson Divide area from drilling?

Gardner: I know the legislation that Sen. (Michael) Bennet has introduced and Congressman (Scott) Tipton has obviously been working on this issue. … Federal legislation that affects a local issue, those discussions ought to be led by local stakeholders… [Pols emphasis]

AT: Do you believe in climate change?

Gardner: Well, I have said that the climate is changing. I’ve said that before but I’m very concerned that the revenues for it would destroy our economy, like Sen. Udall’s idea to place a carbon tax, driving up the cost on low-income earners, on people with fixed income and they would destroy our economy.

A remarkable interview for the sweeping ground it covers–and the sweeping reinventions Gardner is trying to make from his former staunchly conservative self on display. But beyond that, there’s an audacity to Gardner’s deceptive answers that’s really quite extraordinary. When Gardner says he has voted for abortion ban “measures that have exceptions,” meaning exceptions for victims of rape or incest, he avoids saying that he has also voted and even sponsored abortion bans that do not contain any such exceptions. Gardner’s talk of “fixing” Obamacare is plainly meant to deflect from Gardner’s dozens of unpopular votes to repeal Obamacare. Gardner’s answer on immigration, for its part, is laughably weak, and won’t mollify critics in the least.

But the real shocker in this interview could be Gardner’s lip service to local control over oil and gas drilling. After weeks raking opponent Mark Udall over the coals, demanding Udall publicly come out against ballot initiatives for local control of oil and gas drilling that Gardner falsely characterized as an “energy ban,” what is anybody supposed to make of Gardner saying now that local stakeholders should “lead discussions?”

Even with no knowledge of Gardner’s record and the issues that have been animating this race so far, the responses in this interview raise questions–it’s obvious he’s not telling the whole story, and that he’s responding to allegations the reader can’t fully appreciate without more context. Those who take that next step to get that context will discover pretty easily just how deceptive Gardner was in this interview.

And it’s difficult to see how that ends well for Gardner.

Throwback Thursday: Mike Coffman Hearts Marilyn Musgrave

Former Rep. Marilyn Musgrave doesn’t get a lot of press anymore, but back in 2006, Musgrave was Colorado’s foremost culture warrior in Congress. From abortion to the dreaded gays, no wedge issue was too divisive for Musgrave to not champion from her (relatively) safe Republican CD-4 seat in Congress. In the last great Democratic wave election of 2008, Musgrave was toppled by Democrat Betsy Markey largely on the argument that Musgrave was too focused on wedge issues to effectively represent her constituents on issues that matter.

But in 2006, when this picture was taken, Musgrave was still a star–and then-Treasurer Mike Coffman, at the time running for Secretary of State, was a doting groupie (right).

Those were the days, folks.