Studies show: Protecting Greater Sage Grouse is good for Colorado Jobs & Economy

One of the West’s iconic birds, the Greater Sage Grouse includes among its historic home and heritage significant lands in Northwest Colorado. Now a new study shows that protecting that habitat could secure a $50,000,000 and growing input into the Colorado economy. 

The findings of the report which came out yesterday (September 30) are backed by the Pew Charitable Trusts and the Western Values Project

The Christian Science Monitor reports:

ENERGY/ENVIRONMENT LATEST NEWS WIRES

$1 billion recreation spending fueled by sagebrush, study says

$1 billion in recreation spending helped boost economies in 11 Western states and helped efforts to protect greater sage-grouse habitat last year, according to a study commissioned by Pew Charitable Trusts. The $1 billion in recreation spending came mostly from hunters, campers, fishermen, and others.

…The study is the first of its kind to examine the direct and indirect economic impacts of recreation spending tied to U.S. Bureau of Land Management property with habitat for sagebrush-dependent species, according to the Pew Charitable Trusts.

Hunters, campers, fishermen and others spent more than $623 million directly within 50 miles of Bureau of Land Management property in sagebrush ecosystems across more than 61 million acres, said the report by ECONorthwest, an economic consulting firm founded in Oregon in 1974.

The findings are also supported by another study, backed by the Nature Conservancy, University of Wyoming, the University of Montana, and the US Geological Survey (among others) that was getting reported the day prior: that protecting lands in the Upper Green River Basin in Wyoming for the Greater Sage Grouse is also good for the area’s prized mule deer herds, and that’s good for hunters and local communities alike. 

Conservationists long have speculated that protective measures for sage grouse also benefit the more than 350 other species that inhabit sagebrush ecosystems, but this study is the first to quantify the “umbrella” benefits of those actions for migratory mule deer. Those measures include Wyoming’s sage grouse “core area” policy, which limits development in the state’s key grouse habitat, as well as conservation easements, agreements with private landowners to limit development.

“This study underscores the simple idea that keeping sagebrush habitats intact through Wyoming’s core area policy and conservation easements will have additional benefits for mule deer habitat,” says Holly Copeland, a research scientist with The Nature Conservancy in Wyoming and lead author of the paper.

…Both sage grouse and mule deer, two iconic species of the American West, have seen significant population declines in recent years, as a result of drought, energy and residential development, and other habitat fragmentation. 

The benefit of protecting sage grouse habitat as a way to strengthen the economic activity supported by the public lands is due in part to its value in protecting this range of habitats for numerous species, as the CSM article notes:

Biologists consider the greater sage grouse to be an indicator species whose population numbers signify the health of the entire sage brush ecosystem that supports a wide array of wildlife.

These benefits of protecting our wildlife and wild places ought not only be measured in dollars and cents.  Certainly there is room for the wisdom that embraces  an inherent place for the other species of our world.   But the numbers, if crunched, are clear and compelling as well.  Protecting public lands in Colorado necessary for the survival of wildlife—including the greater sage grouse and big game herds, along with over 300 other species—also secures jobs. 

And that makes it a triple win.   

Conservation Colorado Endorses Gov. Hickenlooper

Gov. John Hickenlooper.

Gov. John Hickenlooper.

A press release this morning from leading environmental advocate group Conservation Colorado announces the endorsement of incumbent Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper for a second term:

Conservation Colorado Executive Director Pete Maysmith, released the following statement endorsing John Hickenlooper for Governor of Colorado today.  

“John Hickenlooper has played an important role in achieving several conservation gains during his time in the Governor’s office. He signed a number of important pieces of legislation into law including increasing Colorado’s renewable energy standard and championing first in the nation air protections to reduce ozone pollution and directly reduce methane pollution from oil and gas facilities. The Governor and his staff also engaged productively in discussions regarding protections of critical open space and wildlands like the Thompson Divide and sage grouse habitat in Northwest Colorado…

We have had disagreements with Governor Hickenlooper over policies of his which have put the interests of the oil and gas industry over the health and environment of Coloradans. Even given those differences, it is the case that under a Governor Hickenlooper administration, Colorado’s air, land, water, and our open spaces have a much greater chance of being protected than if Bob Beauprez were governor. [Pols emphasis] We also believe Governor Hickenlooper will do a significantly better job of promoting our State’s leadership in clean wind and solar energy than Beauprez would.

Conservation Colorado endorses Governor Hickenlooper and we look to the Governor to lead in his second term on the most pressing environmental issues of the day – climate change and safeguarding what we love about Colorado – clean air, water, scenic opens spaces and our unique quality of life.”

Though it's not unexpected, the endorsement of Conservation Colorado is very important to Hickenlooper for shoring up the Democratic base ahead of the November elections. It's no secret that Hickenlooper's relations with environmentalists have not been a strong point. With that said, Hickenlooper can credibly point to agreements like the Air Quality Control Commission's new emissions rules, and the compromise brokered with Rep. Jared Polis to work on legislation aimed at enhancing local control of oil and gas drilling. These and other examples from Hickenlooper's first term show a different side of the proverbial coin: when Hickenlooper's ability to bring opposing parties to the table was key to making any kind of progress.

Recognizing that this may not be quite enough for all of their constituents, Conservation Colorado invites you to consider the alternative:

Coloradans face a clear choice. The Governor’s opponent, Bob Beauprez, has returned to his extreme right wing roots promoting an anti-conservation, anti-clean renewable energy agenda. Beauprez has stated that climate change is a hoax, he has mocked efforts to address citizen concerns around drilling and fracking, and he supported a failed referendum to boost transmountain water projects that would have further damaged Colorado’s rivers and streams. Disturbingly, Beauprez has recently aligned himself with far right wing, anti-government ideologues who are calling for the state to seize control of America’s public lands. This is a costly proposition for the State and could fence off Coloradans from areas they have long enjoyed for camping, fishing, hunting, and hiking.

When the question is between someone who agrees with you 80% of the time or not at all, the answer is pretty simple.

Big Line Updates: Democrats Appear to Have Slight Advantage

As Election Day gets closer and closer, we're updating The Big Line on a weekly basis. Remember: Percentages listed indicate our view of the win/loss outcome only (we are not attempting to guess margin of victory).

You can always access the full Big Line 2014, but below we provide a bit more detail about our thoughts on various races.
 

U.S. SENATE
Mark Udall (62%)
Cory Gardner (38%)
Senator Mark Udall has seen his momentum slow down of late, but that probably has more to do with the natural tightening of this race as October draws near. Public polling in Colorado has become about as reliable as a Ouija Board, though if the final outcome is within the general margin of error of most voter surveys, the data is largely irrelevant anyway. For Congressman Cory Gardner, the one thing that has yet to change remains his biggest problem: He just has too many bad votes on too many important issues. Gardner's campaign also seems to have no idea how to go after Udall effectively; they've been changing tactics like the rest of us change socks.

When all is said and done (or insert cliche of your choice), we always come back to the same question: If you had to gamble everything you had on predicting the winner of this race, would you really choose Gardner?

Neither would we.

 

GOVERNOR
John Hickenlooper (60%)
Bob Beauprez (40%)

This race continues to be one of the stranger contests we can remember because of its relatively low profile. Republican Bob Beauprez hasn't run a particularly strong, or interesting, campaign thus far — but perhaps it's enough to ask that his campaign doesn't crater as completely as it did in 2006. Governor John Hickenlooper, meanwhile, has been largely invisible for the last few months. No matter how you look at the race, it's hard to envision Beauprez actually ending up in the Governor's Mansion.

 

ATTORNEY GENERAL
Cynthia Coffman (51%)
Don Quick (49%)
We've had Quick at the top of the Line for a very long time, so what's different? Nothing, really. In fact, it will be hard (post-election) to explain the outcome of this race no matter what happens in November. If this race were taking place in a bubble, we'd give the edge to Quick. But if Democrats win seats for Senate and Governor, history suggests that voters will split their ballot and pick Republicans for other statewide spots.

 

CD-6
Andrew Romanoff (55%)
Mike Coffman (45%)
There may still be a "Coffman" in elected office come January; for the first time in 25 years, we don't think it will be Mike. In their third debate of the campaign, Democrat Andrew Romanoff completely demolished Congressman Mike Coffman. One debate does not a campaign make (or something like that), but the momentum in this race is unmistakably on the side of Romanoff. Coffman's campaign has been insisting that their guy is ahead in internal polling numbers — just don't ask for proof.


Check out the full Big Line 2014 or comment below.

 

VIDEO: Mike Coffman Rejects Climate Change

We discussed this during our Live Blog of last night's CO-6 debate between Rep. Mike Coffman and Democrat Andrew Romanoff, but you really need to see the video yourself as a visibly-uncomfortable Coffman rejects the issue of climate change outright. Coffman's answers came during the "Yes or No answer" segment of the debate:

Here's the transcript of the exchange:

MODERATOR #1 (Denver Post reporter Jon Murray): Mr. Coffman, do you believe humans are contributing significantly to Climate Change?

COFFMAN: Um…No.

MODERATOR #1: Mr. Romanoff?

ROMANOFF: Yes

MODERATOR #2 (Denver Post Politics Editor Chuck Plunkett): Mr. Romanoff, do you think we can reverse Climate Change?

ROMANOFF: Yes

MODERATOR #2: Mr. Coffman?

COFFMAN: Don't know.

MODERATOR #2: Um, what? Sir?

COFFMAN: [long pause] No.

Coffman's answers to these two questions were not entirely unpredictable, but the Congressman was definitely uneasy — and a bit unsure of himself — in giving his answers. It was a strange way to answer a couple of questions that any pre-debate preparation should have covered repeatedly, so why was Coffman caught so off-guard?

Google Dumps ALEC, Crickets In Colorado

google_dont_evil250px

The Center for Media and Democracy claims another huge win in their years-long campaign to persuade American corporations to stop funding the conservative American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC)–an organization with deep ties to Colorado Republicans that has somehow managed to evade scrutiny in local press even as nationwide controversy rages about the group's improper influence in state legislative policy.

Google chairman Eric Schmidt said Monday that the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) is "literally lying" that climate change is not a reality, and that its membership in ALEC "was some sort of mistake."

ALEC stated that it is "unfortunate to learn that the company had ended its membership." Over 80 companies have dropped their membership in ALEC since the Center for Media and Democracy launched ALECexposed.org in 2011…

"I'm curious to know if Google is still supporting ALEC," a caller to the show asked, given the group's promotion of climate change denial and Google's purported commitment to environmentalism.

"Um, we funded them as part of a political [campaign] of something unrelated," Schmidt replied. "I think the consensus within the company was that that was some sort of mistake and so we're trying to not do that in the future…"

"Well, the company has a very strong view that we should make decisions in politics based on facts — what a shock. And the facts of climate change are not in question anymore. Everyone understands climate change is occurring and the people who oppose it are really hurting our children and our grandchildren and making the world a much worse place. And so we should not be aligned with such people — they're just, they're just literally lying." [Pols emphasis]

ALEC has faced growing scrutiny and criticism in recent years, with a nationwide campaign launched against the group in the aftermath of the killing of unarmed Florida teenager Trayvon Martin–whose killer escaped justice, drawing attention to a law pushed by ALEC in Florida called "Stand Your Ground." ALEC's role in a broad variety of Republican legislation, from "right to work" schemes to school vouchers and everything in between, has further stoked controversy as stakeholders in many states discover how many bad ideas that have become law began life as ALEC "model legislation."

Here in Colorado, ALEC enjoys what we can only call protection, or at least deference, from a local media which has been convinced for whatever reason that ALEC "isn't a story." That bias in the local press has forestalled coverage of ALEC's large footprint in the Colorado General Assembly, even as protests against ALEC raged across the nation and major corporations renounced their ties to the group. Despite all of that, Republicans in Colorado serve proudly in key ALEC positions, once in awhile dubious ALEC model bills even attract Democratic support–and nobody says anything.

This is something we really think ought to change.

Republican “Study Committee” Heads For The Border (Again)

UPDATE: Bonus round–check out this photo from 2010's "fact-finding tour" and tell us how many guns you see.

ColoGroupBorder
From left: 2010 House candidate Chris Holbert, then-Rep. Kent Lambert, Sen. Scott Renfroe, then-Rep. Laura Bradford, 2010 House candidate Janak Joshi, then-Rep. Randy Baumgardner.

A press release this week from the arch-conservative Republican Study Committee of Colorado, a social club for the more right-leaning among Republican legislators in this state, announces they are taking another field trip to the Mexican border. In 2006 and 2010, both years like 2014 when immigration was in the headlines, a gaggle of Republican elected officials and candidates undertook similar border "fact-finding tours."

The Republican Study Committee of Colorado (RSCC) has planned a fact-finding trip to Texas to gain firsthand knowledge of the situation with respect to U.S. border security in southern Texas. In just a few weeks (October 5-7), Colorado legislators plan to meet with representatives from the Texas State Legislature, the Texas Department of Public Safety, the Texas Military Forces (Texas Army National Guard, Texas Air National Guard, Texas State Guard), and perhaps even some local citizen groups during a brief three-day visit.

"With all of the information and misinformation that we see on the topics of immigration and border security, and what they mean to Colorado citizens, we thought that the best approach would be to go gather some real-time information for ourselves," said RSCC Chairman and State Senator Kevin Lundberg, representing Colorado Senate District 15. 

No taxpayer funds will be used for the trip. 

Republican legislators have a history of traveling to the southern border, having made similar visits in 2006 and again in 2010. For legislators, there have been some things that have changed dramatically, and some that haven't changed much at all. The 2010 trip revealed a porous border, some unsettled locals, increasing criminal activity, and frustrated officials. Local ranchers, veterinarians, and others who used to work regularly with their neighbors on the border had seen a dramatic shift in the nature of activity over the years. 

For some legislators, the place to start is to define just what the issues are. "When people talk about immigration', I think it's important to define what we're talking about. Does that mean Naturalization and citizenship? Does it refer to the movement of labor and capital? Does it refer to national security? Does it refer to criminal activity, particularly in drug, slave or sex trafficking? Does it refer to the availability of entitlement programs? Defining and parsing out the issues is an important place to start before we can craft good policy for Colorado," stated Senator Lundberg.

During their 2010 trip to Arizona, RSCC members were "briefed" on that state's new anti-immigrant law SB-1070 by its principal backer, then-Sen. Russell Pearce. Pearce enjoyed brief popularity for his role in passing SB-1070, but within a few years his political career had completely unraveled. Pearce was ousted from his seat in 2011 is Arizona's first-ever successful recall of a sitting legislator. Then just this week, Pearce resigned as vice chairman of Arizona Republican Party after saying this on a local radio show:

"You put me in charge of Medicaid, the first thing I'd do is get [female recipients] Norplant, birth-control implants, or tubal ligations,” Pearce said, according to the Phoenix New Times. “Then, we’ll test recipients for drugs and alcohol, and if you want to [reproduce] or use drugs or alcohol, then get a job."

We assume the RSCC will not be meeting with Mr. Pearce during their trip to the Texas border. With that said, RSCC members who took the trip to see Pearce in 2010 introduced numerous pieces of legislation the following year–both mimicking Arizona's SB-1070 anti-immigrant law, along with other ideas they had heard about on their "fact-finding tour." In the summer of 2012, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down most of SB-1070 as unconstitutional in the landmark case of Arizona vs. United States.

And of course, in the fall of 2012, Democrats retook the Colorado House from the GOP, crushing that party's single-seat, single-term majority in the one chamber they had managed to wrest control of in 2010–and helping lock down what has been the state of affairs in the General Assembly for going on a decade. Immigration wasn't the only factor in the GOP's significant legislative defeats in Colorado last election, but we can safely say that the Colorado GOP's image was not helped by the RSCC's antics in any way. Whatever disappointment Latino voters feel with Democrats for being unable to pass immigration reform, this is the stuff that reminds America's fastest growing bloc of voters who their enemies are in the starkest possible terms.

So, you know, take lots of pictures in Texas.

A Rising Tide in the Sage Brush Sea – Saving the Sage Grouse is Good for Wildlife

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

This time of year the color comes out in Colorado, and it’s not only the golden aspen in the high country or rusty scrub-oak on south-facing slopes.  Blaze orange is also in full display in western Colorado as communities put out banners, and the hunters don’t disappoint—for the arrival of the fall hunting season

The Piceance Basin has been called, at various times, Colorado’s ‘mule deer factory’ and a ‘national sacrifice area.’  One is an apt description of biological fact—the Piceance is home to the largest migratory deer herd in North America and the other an unfortunate description of what too many think: that developing the area’s abundant fossil fuel deposits ought to take precedent over everything else.  Including the wildlife

This isn’t meant to be a soapbox: a lot of lands are already leased or controlled by energy companies in Northwest Colorado, more drilling is coming.  But unlike where the shale is getting drilled and fracked on the East Slope, out in Weld County for instance, gas in the Piceance isn’t worth as much for a variety of reasons and companies are mostly sitting on their large reserves—for now.

This gives Colorado’s wildlife a bit of a time out, and we shouldn’t waste it.  Because it’s not just the mule deer, or the elk, it’s all the wildlife that relies on humans not being reckless with their habitat just to suit our purposes.  That includes the Greater Sage Grouse.  And that’s a reason for everyone to come to the table and figure things out quick. 

Which gets back to the hunting season.  Hunters need animals, and animals need habitat.  It’s as simple as that, and that’s why hunters have long been counted among America’s original conservationists.  The Sage Grouse is in the news lately because its habitat needs are not being met and its headed for a listing under the Endangered Species Act.  Lots of different folks would like to avoid that—including many conservation groups if the bird’s habitat can be protected and enhanced so the grouse’s decline can be reversed. 

But the State of Colorado needs to act fast to put real and strong protection in place that protect the bird’s habitat.  That means doing more to protect habitat in the Piceance Basin, which is also where the Greater Sage Grouse occurs in Colorado.  That’s good for all the animals.  And hunters.  

Greater Sage-grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus) Displaying on a Montana Lek from Ronan Donovan on Vimeo.

 

Pueblo Chieftain Smears “Bo” Ortiz for Political Revenge

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Poor Bo. He just can't catch a break from the Pueblo Chieftain.  To inform the public,  Gilbert "Bo" Ortiz voluntarily advised the Pueblo Chieftain about  faulty driver's licenses distributed by  a Colorado Revenue Department vendor, MorphoTrust. The state IDs and licenses were supposed to have a black band across the top, identifying those ineligible to vote, but 524 of these IDs were sent out without the flag. 

The Chieftain chose  to run the ID story on page one, next to a photo of Ortiz, with the banner headline, "Faulty ID Cards Issued", on September 16, 2014. . The teaser subheading on the online edition read, "No concern for voter fraud." Who issued the faulty IDs? Who is unconcerned about voter fraud?  Judging by his photo under the headline, a reasonable reader would infer: Gilbert "Bo" Ortiz.

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NextGen Climate Releases New Television Ad: “Choices”

(The wrath of Tom – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

NextGen Climate today launched its second television ad against Congressman Gardner, highlighting his extreme positions on issues ranging from climate to women’s health.

The 30-second ad, titled “Choices,” delves into decisions Coloradans face, and the choices Congressman Gardner wants to make for them.

“From the doctor’s office to Colorado’s environment, Congressman Gardner consistently puts his extreme views ahead of those of Coloradans,” said Abby Leeper, spokesperson for NextGen Climate Colorado. “No matter how hard he tries, he can’t outrun his voting record, which has been far outside the mainstream. We’re confident that Coloradans will reject Congressman Gardner and his far right record.”

The ad highlights Gardner’s ongoing support for a federal personhood measure and his polluter-friendly voting history including; his vote to repeal EPA findings on the harmful effects of carbon pollution; and his vote to allow unlimited pollution from power plants while taxpayers and our kids pay the price.

For more information, visit www.KeepCoryOut.com 

Big Line Updates: Udall, Romanoff Growing Lead

As Election Day gets closer and closer, we'll be updating The Big Line on a weekly basis.

Here's what we're currently thinking as to the main movers in the top races in Colorado:

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

We don't see either Udall or Gov. John Hickelooper losing in November, but for the first time, we have Udall as a slightly bigger favorite in his respective race. Gardner's campaign has been an absolute mess, and national politicos and reporters are coalescing around the idea that Udall is in the driver's seat now.

 

GOVERNOR
John Hickenlooper (60%)
Bob Beauprez (40%)

We have this race tightening a little as Gov. Hickenlooper works his way out of a summer-long campaign funk. For Beauprez, this comes down to a lack of time — too much needs to happen in the next 4-6 weeks for Beauprez to have a realistic shot at knocking off Hickenlooper.
 

ATTORNEY GENERAL, STATE TREASURER, SECRETARY OF STATE
Republican State Treasurer Walker Stapleton has not had a good month, but he's still favored to beat Democrat Betsy Markey. Meanwhile, we have the AG and SOS races as toss-ups at this point, primarily because it's difficult to determine whether any of the candidates can do much to control their own destiny; the amount of money pouring into the races for Senate, Governor, and CD-6 will make it nigh impossible for lower-tier statewide candidates to get their message out.
 

CD-6 (Aurora-ish)
Andrew Romanoff (55%)
Mike Coffman (45%)

We wrote earlier about our belief that Countdown Coffman is underway following incumbent Rep. Coffman's boorish behavior of late. We've been hearing consistent buzz that Romanoff has nudged ahead as Coffman seeks the momentum he needs to prevent a complete collapse.
 


Check out the full Big Line 2014 or comment below.

9NEWS Truth Test a Joke To Cory Gardner

Cory Gardner.

Cory Gardner.

​9NEWS political reporter Brandon Rittiman has done a commendable job this election season with a series of Truth Tests of political TV spots running in Colorado. We haven't always agreed 100% with Rittiman's analysis, but the simple act of looking at the claims made this year, like Americans For Prosperity's bogus Obamacare attack ads, has been invaluable for keeping the record at least somewhat straight. So many local newsrooms have simply abdicated the responsibility to fact check what they're told by politicians or see in political ads, that without a dedicated fact-checking segment like 9NEWS' Truth Test, lies simply go into the record uncorrected. And that's, we should all be able to agree, a bad thing.

Last night, Rittiman examined GOP U.S. Senate candidate Cory Gardner's new ad hyping a renewable energy bill Gardner co-sponsored in the Colorado legislature. As we discussed in detail last week, the legislation Gardner sponsored to "launch our state's green energy industry" in fact never funded a single project, and had no effect whatsoever on the development of Colorado's green energy industry. Credit for that goes to Colorado voters more than anyone for the passage of 2004's Amendment 37–which Gardner opposed.

That Gardner's ad was based on a fictional premise was well established by the AP's Kristen Wyatt before Rittiman Truth Tested it yesterday. But the answer Gardner's campaign gave when asked about the discrepancy…well, it could be one of the most embarrassing–and damning things–we've ever read.

CLAIM: Gardner "co-wrote the law to launch our state's green energy industry."

VERDICT: Overstated

This is overstated.

It's true Gardner sponsored a 2007 bill in the state legislature that created a clean energy development authority.

The idea was for that group to help jumpstart projects for clean energy. It ended up actually doing—not a lot…

The report repeatedly blamed the law that Gardner is touting for its own lack of progress, citing "practical limitations bounded by the CEDA statute."

Gardner's response:

The Gardner campaign, of course, knows this. It provided 9NEWS the following explanation (emphasis not added.)

"Cory says that he co-wrote a law "to launch our state's green energy industry," not that launched it."

Folks, we honestly do not know if we have ever seen such a frank acknowledgment of purposeful deception from an American politician. This attempt to semantically defend an obviously misleading claim is more than preposterous; it betrays a contempt for truth on the part of Gardner's campaign that, even if you don't understand all of the facts here, is nothing short of breathtaking. We're pretty sure that Sen. Mark Udall's campaign couldn't have scripted a more self-incriminating answer.

What does it mean? Well, to our knowledge this ad is still running. There is no question the ad is meant to leave the impression that Gardner's useless, repealed legislation "launched our state's green energy industry."

The conclusion is inescapable: Cory Gardner's campaign believes at a strategic level that he can outlast the fact-checkers–in effect, that he can outlast the truth. That he can make the truth of an issue irrelevant simply by "muddying up" hard questions through the election and sticking to his script. Here we see the same strategy Gardner's campaign has employed with the Personhood abortion bans, and the related issue of contraceptive coverage Gardner's campaign has worked overtime to "muddy up." The only difference this time is that it's really, really obvious, and Gardner's campaign let it slip in a moment of arrogance that they don't care how bad it looks.

We understand that there are partisan political considerations. But no one can defend this.

Republicans Need Down-Ballot Miracle in Jefferson County

We've talked plenty in this space of the inconceivably ridiculous problems that Jefferson County Republicans have brought upon themselves and the rest of the GOP ticket this fall. Problems began long before the June 24 Primary Election, but things have only gotten worse since Tea Party favorites Tony Sanchez (SD-22) and Laura Waters Woods (SD-19) won their respective Primary races for the GOP nomination.

Jefferson County Republicans have had trouble recruiting strong candidates in the most important electoral county in the state, and they've even had trouble just convening a vacancy committee before the deadlines outlined in state statute. There's little dispute that Jefferson County will decide the outcome of Colorado's statewide races — as goes Jeffco, so goes Colorado — and a continued poor showing by GOP legislative candidates coupled with community anger at the Jeffco School Board could have a lasting effect in November. Fundraising figures don't provide a complete picture of the problems facing Jeffco candidates, but the comparisons are telling. Take a look at the chart below:

There are a handful of legislative races in Jefferson County that we are not including here, primarily because they are not really competitive seats for one Party or the other (HD-22, safe GOP seat; HD-24, safe Dem seat).

Taking into account the theoretically competitive Senate and House races, seven Democrats have raised $871,173 through the most recent — and final — quarterly fundraising period of 2014. Republicans, meanwhile, have raised about $272,406 — or about one-third the amount brought in by Jeffco Democrats.

In both HD-23 and HD-29, Republican candidates were late entrants after the first batch of GOP candidates were scrubbed from the ballot. Replacement candidates Jane Barnes and Susan Kochevar, respectively, have done very little in terms of raising money.

On the Senate side, Republican Primary winners Laura Waters Woods (SD-19) and Tony Sanchez (SD-22) have been less-than-impressive in their own fundraising efforts

While the outcomes of these Jeffco legislative races may not end up changing the makeup of either the State House or State Senate, the margins of defeat could have major repercussions for top-ballot candidates such as Bob Beauprez and Cory Gardner. If the races for Governor and U.S. Senate come down to Jefferson County voters, a weak stable of legislative candidates could spell D-O-O-M.

 

 

UN Liberals, Unicorn Bans, and Better Broadband—The Battle for Senate District 5

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Senator Gail Schwartz, who has rather tirelessly worked on behalf of Senate District 5 is term-limited, and the battle to replace her is considered one of the top races this cycle for control of the Colorado Senate.  The contest is between Kerry Donavan, town councilor for Vail, and member of a long time Eagle County business and ranching family; and, Don Suppes the self-proclaimed “most conservative mayor” from Orchard City, an incorporated water district on the southern flanks of Grand Mesa, somewhere roughly between Delta and Cedaredge

The Club 20 debates yesterday not only included the marque races for Governor and U.S. Senator, and the second string races for CD 3 (Tipton, R-Worthless and Tapia, D-Pueblo, again) and CD 2 (featuring George Leing talking to himself), but a number of down ticket races as well including one shaping up to be a major battle in the fight to keep or take control of the state senate. 

Senate District 5–which includes Eagle, Lake, Gunnison, Chafee, Pitkin, and Delta counties–bridges the Divide: at the spine of the continent, as well as in the politics in western Colorado. 

Far from the ‘Republican stronghold’ some imagine it to be—western Colorado actually has classically divided politics: a number of areas are blue and trending bluer, even as the Republican strangleholds on places like Mesa and Moffat County increase.

And there is a strong sentiment toward being non-affiliated: which spans the range from conservative to liberal, and not always in familiar pairings.  A lot of folks like guns, and pot.  Your neighbors might be a changing band of hippies or survivalists bunkering down for the post-apocalypse.  Sometimes its the same group of people.  Its not a new thing and we like it that way.  We can be a little crusty, but most of us are friendly, and we help each other out.  

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Pigeon Pie and Fracking Sage Grouse: On Caring for Our Furred, Finned, and Feathered Neighbors

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

A recent story on National Public Radio about the last passenger pigeon’s death in the Cincinnati Zoo – 100 years ago on September 1—raises questions about the role and responsibility of humans in caring for the well-being of other species.

The passenger pigeon was once the most plentiful bird in North America, flocks of which would blacken the sun behind mile after mile of undulating clouds—driven to rapid extinction by human avarice, poor practice, and the absence of professional wildlife management that follows species, and science, even across state lines. 

Those human failures are what we remember the passenger pigeon for, as an article about its recent, sad anniversary in the NY Times noted: 

[We] remember the passenger pigeon because of the largest-scale human-caused extinction in history.  Possibly the most abundant bird ever to have existed, this gregarious pigeon once migrated in giant flocks that sometimes exceeded three billion, darkening the skies over eastern North America for days at a time. No wild bird in the world comes close to those numbers today. Yet 100 years ago this week, the very last pigeon of her kind died in her cage at the Cincinnati Zoo. Her name was Martha, and her passing merits our close attention today.

Martha’s passing merits our attention and reflection because we know better now, or at least we should.  Now we have professional wildlife management. And we have federal laws that can compel action if state management to protect vulnerable species is not sufficient to get the job done.

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Gardner Renewable Energy Ad Crashes and Burns

I cowrote the law to launch our state's green energy industry.

Rep. Cory Gardner (R).

Rep. Cory Gardner (R).

​Refreshing journalism yesterday from the AP's Kristen Wyatt, fact-checking GOP Senate candidate Cory Gardner's latest TV spot:

GOP Senate candidate Cory Gardner, framed by sunflowers and wind turbines, tells voters in a campaign ad this week that he co-wrote a law to launch Colorado's green-energy economy. He leaves out that the law was repealed five years later, deemed useless for not enabling a single project. [Pols emphasis]

"Gardner's claiming credit for launching Colorado's clean-energy economy and he did not. Coloradans did that and Coloradans deserve the credit," said Chris Harris, spokesman for incumbent Democratic Sen. Mark Udall. Udall's camp has been deriding Gardner's wind-turbine ad and the Republicans' touting of the 2007 law…

In a press release touting the turbine ad that first aired on Monday, Gardner's campaign cited a 2007 speech by then-Gov. Bill Ritter, a Democrat, who predicted the Gardner bill would "solve one of the biggest challenges when it comes to clean energy."

What we're talking about here is legislation sponsored by Gardner meant to create a "Clean Energy Development Authority" to provide money for clean energy-related upgrade projects. Wyatt makes specific reference to transmission line upgrades as one example. This legislation passed three years after Colorado passed Amendment 37, the state's landmark renewable energy standard law. And it's true that, at the time it was passed, Democrats and Republicans praised the legislation as you can read from then-Gov. Bill Ritter's press release above.

But unfortunately for Gardner, that's not the whole story:

But the authority had financing caveats that made it toothless, said Tom Plant, who oversaw the authority from its creation until 2011 as head of the Governor's Energy Office…

The authority never had a staff and did little but gather once a year to report to the legislature that it had made no progress. By 2012 the authority was scrapped, part of a larger makeover of the Energy Office, now called the Colorado Energy Office.

"There's no point in having something that can't do anything," said Plant, [Pols emphasis] now a policy adviser at the Center for the New-Energy Economy at Colorado State University. The center is run by Ritter, who set up the Governor's Energy Office and appointed Plant to run it.

Bottom line: in every meaningful way, it was Amendment 37 that "launched" Colorado's new energy economy. One of the foremost champions of Amendment 37 was none other than then-Rep., now Sen. Mark Udall. Cory Gardner opposed Amendment 37, as did most Republicans in 2004. Three years later, Gardner helped with a bipartisan bill to finance energy projects that ended up not working out.

The leap from these facts to Gardner's claim he "cowrote the law to launch our state's green energy industry" is, any way you look at it, totally absurd. It cannot be validated by even the most strained definitions. It is a lie every bit as blatant as Gardner's bogus distinction between state and federal Personhood, and it's another case of Gardner trying to "greenwash" his longstanding support for the oil and gas industry. And in a pattern we're seeing repeat itself, Gardner's spokesman Alex Siciliano only makes it worse when confronted with reality:

"In Washington, career politicians like Sen. Udall are fond of killing progress by faulting it for being imperfect. [Pols emphasis] That's one reason nothing gets done," spokesman Alex Siciliano wrote in a statement.

Like Obamacare, Alex? Actually, Gardner's failed energy bill can't even be compared to Obamacare.

Because Obamacare actually did something.