Sorry, Ryan Call: El Paso County GOP Stands By “Dr. Chaps”

UPDATE: In a statement earlier today, Democratic CD-5 candidate Irv Halter calls on Rep. Doug Lamborn to condemn Gordon Klingenschmitt's remarks:

“Gordon Klingenschmitt offended Coloradans from both parties and all walks of life with his offensive and out of touch comment comparing a U.S. Congressman to ISIS,” said Halter.  “His statement shows that he has no interest in being a leader in El Paso County who will attract businesses to our region.  Instead, it is clear that he will be an embarrassment.  I also believe his so-called apology was less than adequate from someone who purports to be a man of character who, like me, graduated from the Air Force Academy.  I ask Congressman Lamborn, who has appeared on Klingenschmitt’s online show, to join me in condemning his remarks as inappropriate for political discourse and insulting to our U.S. Congress.”

—–

Colorado GOP Chairman Ryan Call, GOP HD-15 nominee Gordon Klingenschmitt.

Colorado GOP Chairman Ryan Call, GOP HD-15 nominee Gordon Klingenschmitt.

KOAA-TV's Greg Dingrando reports, the El Paso County Republican Party is standing up for embattled Colorado House candidate Gordon "Dr. Chaps" Klingenschmitt in the wake of his outlandish attack on Rep. Jared Polis last weekend, suggesting that Polis would "join ISIS in beheading Christians" for…actually, it doesn't really matter why he thought that statement was justifiable.

Reports KOAA-TV, local Republicans who know "Dr. Chaps" best are standing by him:

"Democrats like Polis want to bankrupt Christians who refuse to worship and endorse his sodomy. Next he'll join ISIS in beheading Christians…" said Klingenschmitt.

It's a comment that has Democrats shocked and appalled yet county Republicans are still defending him…

The Colorado State Republicans are denouncing him from the party, but El Paso County Republicans are standing by him. [Pols emphasis]

"He's part of our team. Whether we agree with him or disagree with him," said El Paso County Republican Chairman Jeffrey Hays…

"They're using that as a smoke screen to get people's attention away from their bad policies of a constant effort to control people," said Hays.

He said it's a smoke screen Republicans aren't afraid to fight right along side Klingenschmitt.

"I want to win. I believe in value of us winning. He represents a whole host of views the Republican Party will have [Pols emphasis] so absolutely we want him to win," said Hays.

While we pick our jaws up off the floor, read again from our friends at 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. [Pols emphasis]

Not just a candidate, the GOP's primary election winner to succeed Rep. Mark Waller in HD-15. A candidate who, in the view of El Paso County GOP Chairman Jeffrey Hays, "represents a whole host of views the Republican Party will have." We haven't heard from other local political figures close to Klingenschmitt, like Sen. Bernie Herpin, but at some point a lack of condemnation is reasonably tantamount to support–especially as the story blows up nationally. In any event, we should be able to accept the word of the county GOP chairman as official.

Right?

Last Monday, Colorado Republican Party Chairman Ryan Call sort-of denounced Klingenschmitt's comments, while making it clear that he wasn't going to let those conniving Democrats turn this into another "Todd Akin" situation–you know, "trying to brand all Republicans." Because obviously, "his views do not reflect my personal position or" (this is the important part) "the position of the party." This isn't the first time that Call has had to condemn a Republican elected official's indefensible remarks (see: Marble, Vicki and Saine, Lori), but it seemed for a moment like he was working from a better prepared script.

Ryan Call, call your office.

“Dr. Chaps’” Opponent Calls For Withdrawal From HD-15 Race

UPDATE: The Washington Post's Abby Ohlheiser keeps the national spotlight on "Dr. Chaps":

A Republican nominee for a Colorado statehouse seat responded to criticism on Monday over his claim that U.S. Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.) would “join ISIS in beheading Christians.”

Gordon Klingenschmitt, a longtime conservative figure in the state, said in the video embedded below that the statement e-mailed to supporters was just “hyperbole” and that “some Democrats do not have a sense of humor” before offering up an apology to Polis…

In his apology video, Klingenschmitt maintained that he thought policies supported by Polis would “persecute” Christian business owners in the state, adding: “I would never compare you to the ISIS rebels who behead Christians, right? Of course, you would never go in for something like that.”

The state Republican party distanced itself from Klingenschmitt’s remarks, and not for the first time…

Meanwhile, local progressives join the call for Klingenschmitt to withdraw from the HD-15 race:

"Gordon Klingenschmitt's extreme homophobic slurs have no place in any civil discussion of American politics," said ProgressNow Colorado executive director Amy Runyon-Harms. "There is absolutely nothing that can justify these outlandish statements, certainly nothing in Rep. Jared Polis' record of fighting for equality for all Americans."

"Like it or not, Klingenschmitt is the Republican Party's nominee for Colorado House District 15," said Runyon-Harms. "His extreme rhetoric dishonors not just the Republican Party, but other Republican politicians who have endorsed his campaign either directly or indirectly. Sen. Bernie Herpin, who invited Klingenschmitt to deliver a prayer at his recall victory party, should disavow Klingenschmitt–or explain why he will not."

"For years, Colorado conservatives have turned a blind eye to irresponsible extremism," said Runyon-Harms. "Now, one of their worst offenders is receiving national attention just before a major election. Is Gordon Klingenschmitt the new face of the Colorado Republican Party? If Klingenschmitt refuses to withdraw, and his Republican colleagues refuse to ask him to do so, he must be."

—–

Gordon Klingenschmitt.

Gordon Klingenschmitt.

​As the Colorado Springs Gazette's Megan Schrader reports, the story of GOP HD-15 nominee Gordon "Dr. Chaps" Klingenschmitt, whose every pronouncement since winning his Colorado House primary has been an absolute disaster for the Republican brand. They were before, of course, but now he's official. Klingenschmitt's Democratic opponent Lois Fornander is now calling for "Dr. Chaps" to pull out of the race:

Lois Fornander is calling for her opponent for the state House of Representatives to withdraw from the election after what she calls "a homophobic attack on Congressman Jared Polis."

Fornander, a Democrat, is set to face Republican Gordon Klingenschmitt in November for the eastern Colorado Springs and El Paso County House District 15 seat…

"Such a statement is far beyond 'hyperbole,' it is inflammatory, irresponsible and repulsive," said Fornander in an email. "Klingenschmitt's attempt to pass off this reference to an ISIS beheading as an attempt at humor is not only disingenuous, it's perverse."

It's interesting to see Fornander call for Klingenschmitt to exit the race, since arguably "Dr. Chaps" represents Fornanders best shot at actually winning the safe Republican HD-15 seat this November. We assume that Fornander and those advising her have considered this, and simply concluded that calling for Klingenschmitt to withdraw from the HD-15 race is the altruistically right thing to do.

On the other hand, there's really nothing that Fornander or Republicans can do to force Klingenschmitt out. As we learned when Rep. Jared Wright's campaign in 2012 went off the rails, leading to not-so-subtle attempts by fellow Republicans to get him out of the HD-54 race, safe Republican seats like HD-15 leave candidates with little to fear no matter what they say or do–within reason, of course, but neither Wright's embarrassing career and financial troubles nor Klingenschmitt's penchant for bug-eyed insanity appear to rise to the proverbial level.

And that could be a problem for Republicans in more than just this one House seat. The next logical step in the Klingenschmitt story, which hasn't been anywhere near fully developed, is his close ties to GOP SD-11 Senator Bernie Herpin. Herpin's recall victory last yearover Sen. John Morse in a district that leans Democratic has made him a major target this year. Herpin's ties to Klingenschmitt include a genuine "Dr. Chaps" prayer at Herpin's victory party, and the subsequent endorsement of Klingenschmitt's House campaign by Herpin's Pikes Peak Firearms Coalition.

Even before this latest, there was a vast wealth of "Dr. Chaps" lunacy on video to make Herpin dearly regret it.

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

MONDAY UPDATE #2: FOX 31's Eli Stokols with reaction from GOP chairman Ryan Call as Gordon Klingenschmitt apologizes for his self-described "hyperbole."

“Gordon, as I’ve said before, does not speak for the Colorado Republican Party,” Call told FOX31 Denver. “His views do not reflect my personal position or the position of the party.

“But this tired, ineffectual tactic of trying to brand all Republicans based on these comments — the Todd Akin approach [Pols emphasis] — it’s not going to work this time around,” Call continued. “Voters are too sophisticated. They know that one legislative candidate in Colorado Springs doesn’t reflect the views of Bob Beauprez or Cory Gardner.”

—–

To summarize, Colorado GOP Chairman Ryan Call really doesn't want to accept that Klingenschmitt is the Republican Party's nominee for Colorado House District 15, a safe Republican seat–which means that barring the extraordinary, this man is headed for the Colorado Capitol in January as an elected GOP state representative. That makes "Dr. Chaps" Call's responsibility, to a significantly greater degree than if he was some lone crazy with a sandwich board.

Chairman Call fails to recognize this at his peril.

—–

Gordon Klingenschmitt.

Gordon Klingenschmitt.

MONDAY UPDATE: House Speaker Mark Ferrandino calls on Colorado Republicans to speak out about "Dr. Chaps." From a press release (full text after the jump):

"I call on Ryan Call and other Republicans to denounce Mr. Klingenschmitt and his homophobic, extreme, and slanderous attacks against Congressman Polis."

—–

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.

 

(more…)

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.

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.

(more…)

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.

(more…)

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.

Steyer Money Swings Into Action Against Gardner

Tom Steyer.

Tom Steyer.

​FOX 31's Eli Stokols reports:

NextGen Climate Colorado, the group founded and funded by San Francisco billionaire and climate change activist Tom Steyer, is hitting Colorado’s airwaves for the first time Tuesday with a new TV ad attacking GOP U.S. Senate candidate Cory Gardner…

The spot taking aim at Gardner, R-Yuma, features a number of people shutting doors and drawing down window-shades; the message to Gardner: “Keep out.”

“He thinks he knows better than the scientists, NASA and the U.S. military on climate change,” a female narrator says over sinister images of a window being closed and a door being pulled shut.

On the screen, text reads: “Denies the science of climate change.”

But the narrator moves right on to highlight a number of other issues: Gardner’s opposition to same-sex marriage and his support for personhood and additional legislation to restrict access to birth control.

As promised, billionaire philanthropist Tom Steyer is wading into the Colorado U.S. Senate race to support a conservation minded incumbent Democrat against a GOP challenger who has publicly expressed doubt about humanity's role in global climate change. It's a good hit on Cory Gardner, with polling on the issue showing his climate change skepticism to be a minority view. But having made the decision to target Gardner because of his views on climate change, as you can see, Steyer's group has a broad menu of hits to attack Gardner with.

Does Steyer's investment in Colorado's U.S. Senate race make a hypocrite of Democrats who attack Republican out-of-state funders like the Koch brothers? Maybe a little, although Democrats will argue a, you know, qualitative difference on the issues.

Pragmatic Democrats may be more inclined to shut up about the Kochs until November and let fire fight fire.

Selling Fracking–With Xenophobia?

There's a new "guerilla marketing" campaign underway in Colorado on behalf of the oil and gas industry, produced by a group calling itself Friends of Safe Energy, which has no filing we can find in the Colorado Secretary of State's website either as a political committee or a business. The campaign is circulating well-produced viral videos like the one you see above–so well produced, in fact, it's a dead giveaway that this is not a "grassroots" effort of any kind. In addition to the videos, the campaign is putting up wheatpaste posters like this cluster we found on East Colfax in Denver today:

putinwheatpaste

It's easy to see what they're getting at, but this campaign openly deceives on crucial details–like the fact that the United States is already a net exporter of petroleum products, or that more of our imported oil comes from Canada, Venezuela and non-OPEC nations today than either the Middle East or Russia.

Also, we're pretty sure that money spent on imported petroleum does not ipso facto go to fund terrorists getting ready to execute a fair-skinned hostage.

This campaign's ability to nail just about every xenophobic Arab stereotype in only one minute of video shows you've got an ad agency that really managed to think outside the proverbial box. Perhaps only for the purpose of offending people, but in the right focus group, that's more than enough. Perhaps at some point we'll find out who paid for this campaign, and whether they like having their names publicly linked with it.

In the meantime, just sit back and enjoy the jingoism we guess.

Randy Baumgardner: Native Americans Liked their Water to be Burning

FireWater

Hooray!

The Western Conservative Summit in Colorado is an annual event hosted by Colorado Christian University in which conservative Republicans of varying degrees of partisan fame descend on Denver to say weird things about important issues. The Summit never fails in producing gems of ridiculousness, and the conversations and events that take place in Denver are so multi-layered that they often provide stories for the media and blogs long after the event has ended.

It is from July's Western Conservative Summit that we bring you, via Raw Story, this absurd discussion between State Sen. Randy "The Mustache" Baumgarder (who was an honest-to-goodness candidate for U.S. Senate for a time) and Republican activist (and likely the newest Representative from HD-15), Gordon “Dr. Chaps” Klingenschmitt. Baumgardner was a guest on Dr. Chaps' "Pray in Jesus' Name" radio show, and this happened:

“I’ve been doing a lot of the fracking seminars,” said Baumgardner, “and if people haven’t been, then they really don’t understand it.”

“They talk about methane in the water and this, that, and the other,” Baumgardner went on, “but if you go back in history and look at how the Indians traveled, they traveled to the ‘burning waters.’ And that was methane in the waters and that was for warmth in the wintertime.” [Pols emphasis]

“So a lot of people,” he said, “if they just trace back the history, they’ll know how a lot of this is propaganda.”

Randy Baumgardner.

Randy Baumgardner and Mustache

Um, what?

We're not sure what this particular line of "thinking" has to do with fracking, but it is one of the dumbest things we've heard on the topic in quite some time. Sure, maybe the "Indians traveled…to the 'burning waters,'" but what the hell does that have to do with fracking? The fracking argument is primarily about the safety of DRILLING for oil and gas on lands that are surrounded by homes and schools, which has nothing to do with Native Americans and burning lakes and whatever else The Mustache is talking about.

What is most disturbing here is that we have an elected State Senator (and former State House member) who is wandering around Colorado talking about 'burning waters' and 'Indians.'

Why is Baumgardner doing "fracking seminars" when he obviously has no idea what he's talking about?

Or did we just answer our own question?

Tom Steyer’s Mission To Stamp Out Climate Denialism

steyer

A story from FOX 31's Eli Stokols looks in detail at billionaire Tom Steyer, who was in Aspen yesterday for the American Renewable Energy Day summit conference–talking about his ambitious plans to aggressively take on politicians in 2014 and beyond who deny the general scientific consensus that human activity is contributing to global climate change:

Steyer’s plan mirrors that of mega-donors on the right — leveraging his personal fortune on behalf of candidates who support his agenda: supporting Democrats who will push for action to combat climate change and going after Republican incumbents who deny climate science…

Steyer, who has come under fire of late amidst disclosures that much of the fortune he amassed at Farallon Capital Management came in part from investing in companies that operate coal mines, is supporting Colorado Democratic Sen. Mark Udall in his reelection bid against Republican Congressman Cory Gardner, who has denied that climate change is impacted by human activity.

“We tried to go into states where there is a big difference between the candidates,” said Steyer, who explained that the 2014 strategy is more about turning out pro-environment voters than persuading swing voters to care more about the issue of climate change.

“A lot of people who support pro-environment candidates like Mark Udall are some of the likeliest drop-off voters. [Pols emphasis] So we are focused not so much on TV ads but on the things that will be old-fashioned, 18th- century politics, trying to get local people to talk to local voters and citizens and why it’s important enough for them to get off the couch and go down to the polling place in the second Tuesday in November,” Steyer said.

As Stokols reports, Tom Steyer has announced his intention to spend $50 million this year to elect pro-environment candidates who acknowledge the role of industry and carbon energy sources in global climate change. Objectively speaking, compared to the amount of money conservative mega-donors like the Koch brothers have invested in American politics over the years, this isn't that much. Liberals also have many other well-established channels for aggregating and strategically spending money like the national Democracy Alliance. What makes Steyer's push different is the electoral focus on the environment. Not to change minds on the issue, but to motivate voters already responsive to the issue to get to the polls.

What Steyer wants is simple: for the voters who turn out in presidential election years to show up this November. Obviously, all Democrats are looking for the key to doing just that: it could help put a stop to the damaging recent cycle of political representation in the United States swinging drastically from left to right between presidential election years and midterm election years. In the polling done by backers of this year's abortive local control ballot initiatives showing enduring public support for locally regulating oil and gas drilling, you can see the electorate Steyer wants to reach clearly. It's a major reason why we believe those measures could not only have passed, but could have helped Democrats at the polls even if Democratic politicians steered clear.

Bottom line: Colorado environmental liberals who are upset by the resolution to the local control debate this year are about to see the issue clarified in the form of a straight-up climate change denier, GOP Senate candidate Cory Gardner. The intra-Democratic debate over fracking in our energy producing state will take an inevitable back seat to a much more fundamental question: does Colorado want to be represented in the U.S. Senate by a man who simply rejects out of hand the overwhelming scientific consensus that humans are contributing to climate change?

That message, with a few million dollars behind it, could honestly be a game-changer.

Say it ain’t so, Andrew, say it ain’t so!

Oh boy, the thoroughly discredited and Colorado-Tried-and-Failed strategy whereby a Colorado Dem tries to run and govern like a Republican will never die:

So which is it? Are Dems tacking left or veering right? The answer isn’t clear yet. But Isenstadt offers some worrisome anecdotes. He points to several Democratic candidates who are recycling Republican rhetoric, even in districts that went for Barack Obama in the 2012 election.

Isenstadt highlights, for example, a campaign video and accompanying material from Colorado Democrat Andrew Romanoff. Romanoff’s video is indistinguishable from a Republican’s, complete with a Paul Ryan-style graph of “soaring” federal debt and admonitions that “you don’t buy things you can’t pay for.”

Andrew Romanoff was one of the few candidates I've given money to the last few years. D's just can't seem to quit this congenital need to pretend they are Republican, or to pretend that some kind of High-Minded Bipartisanship will be met with the same by our Tea Party counterparts. 

RJ Eskow is really an excellent writer, and here's a bit more of his analysis regarding our good friend Andrew:

The game plan for candidates like Romanoff appears to be: Adopt your competition’s failed economic agenda, make yourself your opponent’s pallid shadow, and base your campaign on issues, positions and priorities that have little or no support among voters.

That’s not just a bad strategy. It will also be very difficult to execute. As will inevitably happen in many Democratic races, the National Republican Congressional Committee pointed to Romanoff’s past support for the stimulus and said, “It’s dishonest for Andrew Romanoff to criticize the mountain of government debt he helped create.”

The “government debt” canard is a silly critique, one that Romanoff could easily refute – if he hadn’t already abandoned his ideological post by running away from much-needed government investment. The stimulus didn’t create debt. It helped reduce long-term debt by spurring modest growth and offsetting the job losses caused by the financial crisis. What’s more, its objectives were consistent with the electorate’s priorities. Its only problem, as any good economist will tell you, is that it wasn’t large enough.

Candidates like Andrew Romanoff could choose to campaign on jobs and growth. That would be a winning approach, even in red districts, with voters who are fearful of the economic future. But when they choose to echo Republican messaging instead, they leave themselves defenseless against attacks like the one Romanoff is facing.

It won't work. He might get elected, as Salazar and Markey did, but if he carries it through a bland and unproductive first term, he'll end up exactly as they did.

And Harry Truman's aphorism will remain as true today as the day he said it:

Given the choice between a Republican and someone who acts like a Republican, people will vote for the real Republican all the time.

- Harry S. Truman, 33rd President of the United States and Homespun Political Genius

Where Divesting from Fossil Fuels was born

There is a lot of news about Colorado lately, but I bet this story is still under the Radar.
I interviewed John Powers who is the founder and visionary for the Alliance for Sustainable Colorado and found out that the idea of Divestment from University Portfolios from Fossil Fuels was birthed at a place made to find Energy solutions, the Alliance Center. (a movement needed internationally for Low Lying Islanders)

On the Divestment movement at 3:28 in the video

“There’s a movement now Divest – Invest, I want to go on record that this idea was conceived on the 3rd floor of this building. Here at the Alliance Center, a group called “As You Sow” and other folks happened to be meeting here… they came up with the idea that you have to divest. Take your investments out of fossil fuels and then you have to invest them into something alternative.”


Read on for John Powers’ views on the problem with Natural Gas as a ‘bridge fuel’, the future of Renewable energy, warning about the future of our energy portfolio, and changing the model on which businesses operate from the ground up.

Colorado recently has been in the midst of a fight between pro-fracking and anti-fracking ballot measures that were pulled as ‘compromise’ which left environmentalists upset.

From John Powers:

“When you are talking about a ‘bridge fuel’ (Natural Gas), a bridge starts at some place and ends some place. We are putting all this infrastructure for Natural Gas…
That infrastructure is money we should be putting into demand side and most benign supply side energy (Renewable Energy)
And now Utility scale Solar is the cheapest form out there.
Colorado and the U.S. has the chance to provide the leadership to take these steps…Colorado has the the potential to be a leader internationally.”

On that subject, John knows what he is talking about. He built a coalition to pass the ground breaking Amendment 37 in 2004, which required our State utility, Xcel to make their energy portfolio include renewable energy.

On the Climate forecast of Storms, Droughts, and Floods:

(Question) What things have we seen in real time, the example I want to use is the (Colorado) Flood of September 2013…. When is that point when 50 plus 1 gets that something has changed?

“We can either anticipate what’s coming at us, which is irrefutable, or we can wait for these crises to mount, (if that’s the case) there’s going to be a lot of heartache, sorrow, and economic pain.
People in the short term say that economically, we cant afford to these controls…
I’m saying economically long term if you don’t do them now, you’re TOAST

And on the Grand Re-opening of an even more Energy Efficient Alliance Center on August 14th:

The Alliance for Sustainable Colorado was founded to bring points of view together to find long term solutions. When you are part of creating solutions, you are more likely to implement those solutions. (The Building Remodel) We tend to think in terms of costs in a building per square foot. Instead of per square foot, the deeper more sophisticated question is how much is this building going to cost per worker? This is a model we are looking for people to implement in existing buildings, and IT’S PROFITABLE!

Thanks to John Powers for being the visionary for the Alliance Center and to all the people who are part of the Alliance for Sustainable Colorado for helping navigate the way in which we plan our Renewable energy future.
And come to the Grand Reopening of the Alliance Center August 14th!

CACI Democratic Endorsements: What RMGO Cost The GOP

CACI.

CACI.

The Denver Business Journal reports on endorsements released today by the pro-business Colorado Association of Commerce and Industry–with a very few perennial exceptions like pro-business Sen. Cheri Jahn, this is an organization well known for supporting Republican candidates over Democrats in the vast majority of cases.

But as Ed Sealover reports, not this year in a couple of key Jefferson County races:

Often known as a Republican-leaning organization, CACI, for example, endorsed Republicans in three of the seven most competitive Senate races, endorsed Democrats in two of them and declined to endorse anyone in two others…

CACI endorsed incumbent Democratic Sens. Rachel Zenzinger of Arvada and Cheri Jahn of Wheat Ridge, who sit in two of the six seats that Republicans feel they can win, and that they need to take control of a Senate that Democrats now hold by an 18-17 margin. Two is the minimum target because most observers believe the GOP will lose a Pueblo-area seat that they won in a recall election last year, but that sits in a heavily Democratic area.

…CACI members were closely divided in the Senate District 16 race, with many liking GOP challenger and former state Sen. Tim Neville, but just enough feeling they could work with Nicholson that Neville’s support fell below the two-thirds level needed for endorsement, [CACI vice president Loren] Furman said.

And in the Senate District 22 race, where Kerr has been known to clash with business groups, there just wasn’t support to endorse Tony Sanchez, a gun-rights supporter who beat more mainstream Republican Mario Nicolais in the primary, she said.

Like we said, Sen. Jahn winning CACI's endorsement isn't a big surprise, since she's one of the more centrist pro-business members of the Democratic majority in the Colorado Senate. But in three other vital Senate races with Democratic incumbents on the defensive–Rachel Zenzinger in SD-19, Jeanne Nicholson in SD-16, and Andy Kerr in SD-22–it certainly appears that the victory of Rocky Mountain Gun Owners-endorsed Republican candidates directly affected CACI's decision to either endorse the Democrat, as with Sen. Zenzinger, or in Sens. Kerr and Nicholson's cases, at least remain neutral in the race. In the House, we see a similar flight to moderation in the endorsement of Rep. Tracy Kraft-Tharp over far-right movie theater owner Susan Kochevar in HD-29. Surely CACI has their key votes to gauge support for their agenda, but beyond that, as the decision to stay out of SD-22 shows especially, this is a tacit acknowledgement of the major disaster the primary defeats of more mainstream Republican challengers represents for the Colorado Republican Party.

Because frankly, if you're a Republican, it takes a lot to alienate these people.

Frackapalooza 2014: Losers

Fracking operation in Greeley.

Fracking operation in Greeley.

News broke on Monday that Gov. John Hickenlooper had reached a deal to avert dueling ballot measures related to fracking, and since we are a political blog and all, we had to swoop in and rank stuff.

Tuesday, we gave you our "Winners" from what we are calling Frackapalooza 2014, which culminated in the removal of four initiatives from the ballot (two backed by Polis, and two backed by the oil and gas industry) in exchange for the formation of a humongous "blue ribbon commission" that will make recommendations to the legislature.

Is this a good deal for Coloradans? A bad deal? As always here at Colorado Pols, we limit our analysis to politics while leaving the policy debate to others. Which leads us to…

Frackapalooza 2014: Winners, Losers, and Lessons

In the interest of both time and space (relative though they may be), we're going to break this up into three separate posts. After the jump, check out our "Losers" from Frackapalooza 2014 (you can find the "Winners" here):

(more…)