The Importance of the Colorado Water Plan

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

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

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

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

(more…)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jane Barnes.

Jane Barnes.

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

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

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

Large Honey Bee die-off in Southern Colorado

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

Wonder what the Chinese had to say about bees?

Thousands of Bees Die Suddenly in Southern Colorado

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tell Us How You Really Feel, Big Oil

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

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

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

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

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

Meetings where they hatch really bad ideas.

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

And this ad more or less insults them all.

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

Colorado River Basin drying out faster than previously thought

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

What will our Fracker in Chief say about this?

Seven Western states that rely on the Colorado River Basin for valuable water are drawing more heavily from groundwater supplies than previously believed, a new study finds, the latest indication that an historic drought is threatening the region’s future access to water.

In the past nine years, the basin — which covers Wyoming, Colorado, Utah, New Mexico, Nevada, Arizona and California — has lost about 65 cubic kilometers of fresh water, nearly double the volume of the country’s largest reservoir, Lake Mead. That figure surprised the study’s authors, who used data from a NASA weather satellite to investigate groundwater supplies.

About two-thirds of the water lost over the past nine years came from underground water supplies, rather than surface water.

“We were shocked to see how much water was actually depleted underground,” Stephanie Castle, a water specialist at the University of California at Irvine and lead author of the report, said in an interview.

This water is critical for all aspects of life in the geological area.(No, I will not change my screen name to Captain Obvious.) Fracking, which our governor, a trained geologist, says is harmless, uses enormous amounts of water which in turn affects individuals' water wells. Discarded fracking fluids are now also beginning to affect water tables and aquifers around the nation.

Oh, and did I mention increased earthquake activity in fracking areas?

Here's a map of the Colorado River Basin by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation that is in the Post article:

The ease with which our Governor gives his support to the highly disruptive extraction of fossil fuels from our environment never ceases to amaze me. There are many negative aspects of the technology, yet he has remained firm in his support of Big Energy. Maybe this latest piece of evidence will finally catch his attention to the long-term harm fracking will do to Colorado's environment. 

When Gardner Praised Udall…

Rep. Cory Gardner (R).

Rep. Cory Gardner (R).

9NEWS' Brandon Rittiman takes us on a trip down memory lane–before U.S. Senate candidate Cory Gardner's career depended on disparaging everything that Sen. Mark Udall and other Democrats have ever said or done:

The recent battle over fracking in Colorado quickly entered Colorado's Senate race and the latest tiff involves Rep. Cory Gardner (R-Colorado) caught on tape a couple years ago praising his opponent on oil and gas policy.

"I believe, as Governor Hickenlooper believes, as Senator Udall has said, that the decisions on fracking ought to be made at the local level," Gardner says in the video, provided to 9NEWS by the Udall campaign. [Pols emphasis]

Gardner was responding to a question from a voter at a 2012 town hall event in Berthoud, Colorado…

Now before anybody gets too excited:

In the video, Gardner goes on to clarify that he meant states should control fracking as opposed to the federal government, adding, "I believe that [fracking policy] ought to be deferred to the state, just as Governor Hickenlooper does."

Sen. Mark Udall (D-CO).

Sen. Mark Udall (D-CO).

So no, Gardner was not making a statement that could be interpreted as endorsing the local control ballot initiatives underway this year. That said, this little vignette courtesy 9NEWS is a useful reminder that Republicans in Colorado don't really have much of a case against Colorado Democrats on pro-energy policy. After Sen. Udall announced his opposition to the local control ballot measures, Republicans continued to attack him with the same intensity. But the fact is, Udall's longstanding support for a balance between energy development and conservation is much closer to the mainstream in Colorado than "drill baby drill"–and that's why the polls consistently show Udall is better trusted on energy policy and the environment than his opponent.

There was a time, as you can see, when the trust the public places in Udall (and yes, even Gov. John Hickenlooper) on energy and the environment worked to Gardner's advantage as he tried to demonstrate how his views were mainstream views. There is a possibility that this November, the voters of this state will push the frame of the debate over drilling in Colorado well to the left of any of these politicians' comfort zones.

Either way, it's better to define the center than attack it.

Everybody And Their Mother Comes Out Against Local Control

Photo courtesy Rep. Jared Polis

Photo courtesy Rep. Jared Polis

As the Denver Post's Mark Jaffe reports, Gov. John Hickenlooper's press conference yesterday kicking off the opposition campaign against two local control ballot measures championed by Rep. Jared Polis left no confusion about where the governor stands–as if there ever was any.

Gov. John Hickenlooper on Thursday said two ballot measures aimed at giving local governments more control over oil and gas drilling would damage the state's economy and must be defeated…

"It is clear these initiatives will kill jobs and damage our state's economy," Hickenlooper said. "These measures risk thousands of jobs, billions of dollars in investment, and millions of dollars in tax revenue."

…Hickenlooper said Initiative 88 is the opposite of local control, for it sets a "arbitrary limit" across the state with no room to adjust it locally.

As for Initiative 89, Hickenlooper questioned whether local governments would have "the sophistication" to enforce it.

Via Gannett's Raju Chebium, Rep. Polis responds:

Democratic Rep. Jared Polis said one measure he wants to include on the state's November ballot would give local governments the power to approve or reject fracking operations without fear of reprisal from the oil and gas industry. Another measure would allow residents to decide how far fracking wells should be from their homes and businesses.

Fracking may be appropriate far from residential neighborhoods and in rural and industrial areas, but communities must have the ultimate say over whether the wells can sprout up nearby, he said.

"It's perfectly reasonable for residents to feel that it shouldn't be in residential neighborhoods. That should be up to them if they want it," Polis said. "If Loveland residents want fracking, they should be able to have it. If Fort Collins residents don't, they shouldn't be sued." [Pols emphasis]

Our understanding is that despite the swift closing of ranks against these initiatives on the part of Democratic insiders, Rep. Polis remains fully committed to passing them. The fact is, whatever fear has been put into establishment Democrats about consequences from running these initiatives, Polis can defensibly argue he is simply representing his district–where three cities have already passed moratoria, and in the case of Lafayette an outright ban, on hydraulic fracturing. That's a point getting lost as Democrats across the state–Mark Udall, Andrew Romanoff, Ed Perlmutter, and many others–fall in line behind Hickenlooper in opposition to these ballot measures, and the chattering class groupthink ramps up against them.

One of the most popular arguments against these initiatives aimed at Democrats is the assumption "certainty" that they will hurt Democratic electoral prospects this November, either directly or indirectly from the resources expended in the fight. We continue to see a plausible scenario wherein Democrats benefit from these initiatives by stoking turnout, even as individual Democratic candidates give themselves cover by opposing them. Today, as Democrats disappoint conservationists with their stand against local control, they still know Democrats are closer to their position than Republicans will ever be. While these initiatives might be setting up 2015 for a divisive blue-on-blue fight over the issue, that doesn't mean the damage will be felt at the polls this year.

And it wouldn't be the first time the voters proved bolder than the leaders.

Democrats Outraising Republicans 5-1 in Key House Races

Earlier this week we took a look at the bizarre string of late-entry and replacement candidates that Republicans have fielded in a number of key State House races. In order to gain control of the State House, Republicans need to win at least 5 seats this fall — without losing any incumbent legislators — which is a mountain that may be too tall for the GOP to climb in 2014.

As a Colorado Pols analysis of fundraising results in key House districts shows, Democrats are raising significantly more money in competitive House districts compared to their Republican counterparts. We took a look at 12 of the top House districts (you can argue that your list of top races would look a little different, but you get the point), and through July 1, 2014, Democrats had raised more than $500,000, while Republican candidates combined for just a tad more than $100,000.

While so-called "soft money" from third party groups, PACs, and other special interests will certainly get involved in many of these House races, the disparity in fundraising is quite stunning. Take a look at the chart below — there is not a single Republican candidate who has raised even close to the totals compiled by their Democratic counterparts.

GOP-House-Fundraising3-2

Local Control Special Session Officially Dead; Voters To Decide

Photo courtesy Rep. Jared Polis

Photo courtesy Rep. Jared Polis

As 9NEWS' Brandon Rittiman reports, Gov. John Hickenlooper is giving up on the idea of a special session of the legislature this year to pass legislation giving local communities greater control over oil and gas drilling. That means two measures supported by Rep. Jared Polis to increase setbacks from drilling and establish an "environmental bill of rights" for Coloradans, are likely a go for this November's ballot:

Talks aimed at brokering a compromise to allow increased local control over oil and gas drilling operations have failed, Gov. John Hickenlooper's (D-Colorado) office reported Wednesday.

The governor's office says there will be no special session – as Hickenlooper had hoped – to pass a compromise law on fracking.

"Despite our best efforts and those of other willing partners," the governor said in a written statement. "We have not been able to secure the broader stakeholder support necessary to pass bipartisan legislation in a special session."

That news all but ensures Colorado voters will have the opportunity to weigh in with a statewide vote on fracking this year, a follow-up to local ballot questions which have halted the practice in four Front Range communities.

With the special session now dead, as many observers expected, Sen. Mark Udall was quick to announce his opposition to the ballot measures:

"Fracking can be done safely and responsibly," Udall wrote shortly after the governor's announcement. "I believe that Colorado can and must do better, which is why I oppose these one-size-fits-all restrictions."

Undaunted, Rep. Polis announces he is moving ahead:

“I have said from the beginning of this debate that my one goal is to find a solution that will allow my constituents to live safely in their homes, free from the fear of declining property values or unnecessary health risks, but also that will allow our state to continue to benefit from the oil and gas boom that brings jobs and increased energy security,” Polis said.

“I stand by this goal, I am confident that the majority of Coloradoans share this goal, and I am committed to continuing to work to protect our Colorado values.”

FOX 31's Eli Stokols reports that the American Petroleum Institute, which plans to spend a great deal of money fighting these initiatives, hardened opposition among Republicans and the oil and gas industry against a compromise with a poll indicating they can beat the ballot measures. On the other side, proponents have polling that says the measures can pass–even after respondents hear the industry's arguments against the measures.

Stokols speculates once again about the measures "potentially jeopardizing the reelection of Hickenlooper and Sen. Mark Udall — and, by extension, Democratic control of the senate." As we've said previously, that is a dubious suggestion at best. We also don't believe that high-profile Democrats steering clear of these initiatives hurt either the initiatives or their re-election campaigns–there's a lot more driving those campaigns than this one issue, and by disavowing the initiatives early, there's nothing to use against Udall or Hickenlooper even if they do go badly. As for Rep. Polis? The FOX 31 story a week ago, trying to cast CD-2 Republican candidate George Leing as a credible opponent–which even most Democrats opposed to Polis on this issue found laughable–makes it pretty clear he doesn't have much to worry about. That said, we expect the industry will do whatever they can to extract a cost from Polis for his "impertinence."

In November, all of these assumptions will meet their ultimate test–and somebody's going to be wrong.

State Legislators: Today’s Foreclosure Scandal just the Tip of the Iceberg

LISTEN UP Colorado Legislators:  Today's Foreclosure Scandal News in the Denver Post: is the tip of the Iceberg.  I've been telling Democrats and anyone else who would listen about it for years.  Absorb this from the story:  "Colorado Attorney General John Suthers said he was disturbed by what investigators uncovered, fostered largely by how the state's foreclosure system carried little oversight." 

Think about that sentence:  Our Republican AG is questioning the oversight of our laissez-faire foreclosure system!

 

Realize that Attorney Castle helped change the state foreclosure laws to his favor in 2006 and that there are homeowners throughout the state being unlawfully foreclosed upon with no documentation.  The banks are literally stealing homes from borrowers where they are not even the party of interest and have no skin in the game.  It is more difficult to repossess a car than a house in our state.

FIX THIS NOW!   

"Colorado is the only state in the country that allows an unsworn statement by an attorney for a foreclosing party — without any penalty — to say, 'Trust me, judge, these guys are the qualified holder for this deed of trust,' " Federal District Court Judge William Martinez said last year. "Is there another state that has lowered the bar for a foreclosure any lower?"

One former attorney who worked for Castle testified in 2012 when some foreclosure law changes failed to get to a state House vote, said he routinely signed foreclosure documents with limited but legal underlying documentation – at the direction of his boss.  He now works to defend homeowners in foreclosure cases.

It's time we quit listening to the Colorado Bankers Association," which is an accomplice in the foreclosure scam and pretends to represent banks in the state when in reality only 1% of assets represented by CBA are headquartered in Colorado (note Citigroup is a leading large-asset member of CBA who just cut a $7 Billion deal for a small part of their reported misdeeds in the mortgage securitization scam that should've been prosecuted under the RICO Act).  Ask why the "Colorado" Lobbyst Arm of the CBA has to bank at the JPMorgan Chase Branch in Baton Rouge.  (Pull up their actual filings on Tracer and click on View Filed Report at the bottom of this page).

Realize how the tables are being turned on MERS, the Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, in some states that require all transactions of home ownership be recorded locally — not in an electronic database run by the banking industry who is complicit in the scam.  We should be able to go to our County Clerk and Recorders office to see who owns property, but MERS has undertaken a bloodless coup to hold half of the nations ownership records in the bank-owned system.  Colorado needs to require publicly recorded ownership documentation, just as Pennsylvania does.  Earlier this month a court ruled that MERS must stand trial to determine how much money it owes that state for avoiding recording fees and that should be a requirement here. Don't buy that garbage about how interest rates are lower because of MERS, and remember it when it becomes impossible to get a clear title to property down the road (Hint: Don't believe you'll be safe with title insurance either).

It's time to fix the system and demand we treat the largest asset most of us will ever have with respect before the banks turn us all into renters of "their" houses.  

FIX THIS NOW! Make it a Legislative Priority in 2015.  

– Dennis Obduskey, Co-Chair, Progressive Democrats of Colorado

 

GOP Hopes for State House Fade Under Wave of Ineptitude

“I don’t believe in coincidences.”

Any good fictional detective will usually mutter a similar phrase at some point in a story. The phrase usually means that if two or more occurrences seem like a coincidence, it’s probably connected in some way…and, yada, yada, yada…Scooby Doo and the gang foil another plot by criminals dressed in elaborate costumes.

What does this have to do with Colorado politics, you ask? Well, here at Colorado Pols, we are always skeptical of coincidences (and not just when it comes to talking dogs). And in recent months, the manner in which Republicans have stumbled across many of their nominees for State House seats has raised our collective eyebrows. Republican candidate recruitment (and the lack thereof) has been so comically inept that its problems can’t just be dismissed as coincidence.

Do Republicans believe there is some strategic advantage in waiting until the last possible minute to finalize candidates? Or are really they just ludicrously disorganized and discombobulated as they ponder how they can win control of the House in 2014? We’re inclined to go with the latter explanation; there is no way someone could have actually thought this up on purpose.

GOP State House Confusion

There are 65 House Seats on the ballot every two years, but only a fraction of those seats are really “winnable” in any given year. In 2014, Republicans could gain control of the House with a net gain of 5 seats, though the odds of this happening are beginning to seem as likely as Dudley Brown officiating a same-sex marriage ceremony. Republicans have a host of problems related to their State House campaigns, the most glaring of which is also the most important: Finding strong candidates to run.

In the last 6-8 weeks, Republicans have been playing a weird game of musical chairs in 5 House Districts (HD3, HD23, HD28, HD29, HD35), changing out one bad candidate for another or secretly quietly filling vacancies without bothering to send out so much as a press release to the media. In several other districts, Republicans have fielded last-minute candidates with little name recognition in their respective districts.

Nature abhors a vacuum, and politics is no different. With no competition for the Republican nomination in many House seats, solitary candidates arose like the walking dead, dragging minor connections with Tea Party and gun rights groups (including RMGO) behind them. Perhaps Republican House leadership, piloted by Reps. Libby Szabo and Brian DelGrosso, had given up on trying to recruit decent candidates for several competitive races. But somebody still needed to fill those seats, and as the GOP quickly learned, there’s no telling who might emerge through the caucus process. As it turned out, many of the GOP nominees for competitive House seats were so unfathomably terrible that Republicans had to scramble to replace them to prevent outright disaster that could doom the entire Republican ballot.

So how did we get here? The landscape for Republicans in 2014 has been markedly different from the 2012 election cycle, and the fallout from a disappointing election two years ago is partly to blame for GOP struggles this year. In 2012, Republicans recruited fairly strong candidates overall and outspent Democrats by a 2-1 margin (including both soft and hard money) in hopes of expanding on their one-seat majority in the House. But Democrats ran solid House campaigns with strong candidates who excelled at both fundraising and grassroots outreach; when all the votes were counted, Democrats picked up 5 seats to give them a new 37-28 majority.

The demoralizing results of 2012 gave way to new Republican House leadership, but Szabo and DelGrosso have struggled to date in managing the broad strategy for retaking the House. There is little margin for error when trying to capture the majority in a state where only a handful of the 65 House seats are truly competitive districts, yet Republicans were having trouble uncovering live human beings willing to put their name on the ballot. When candidates arose anyway, the GOP had a new problem on its hands.

Nate Marshall, GOP candidate for HD-23.

Nate Marshall, briefly the GOP nominee in HD-23. Also a convicted felon with ties to white supremacist groups.

Consider HD-23, where Nate Marshall was nominated at the county assembly by virtue of being the only Republican interested in running for the seat. Marshall may have seemed like a nice-enough guy when he raised his hand at the county assembly in March, which was enough to grant him the Republican nomination; but a cursory online search quickly revealed that Marshall was a convicted felon with ties to white supremacist groups. Whoops!

Republicans quickly called on Marshall to resign as the GOP nominee, but they didn’t finally hold a vacancy committee until nearly one month later. They eventually settled on Jane Barnes, a former member of the Jefferson County School Board, as their nominee in HD-23…and then they didn’t bother to tell anyone. In fact, Colorado Pols broke the news of Barnes’ candidacy, nearly two weeks after a vacancy committee made the selection. You would think Republicans would have been a bit more anxious to put Nate Marshall in their rearview mirror.

We might have been inclined to consider this a random event that unfolded under a strange set of circumstances…except that it keeps happening. In late June, former HD-29 Rep. Robert Ramirez ended his campaign after failing to file numerous campaign finance reports. Republicans in HD-29 again called a vacancy committee – and again, nobody seemed to know about it – and just last week it was finally reported that Susan Kochevar had been chosen to replace Ramirez.

Republicans have managed to avoid problematic candidates before they were formally nominated, as they did in HD-35 in selecting Mike Melvin instead of Maria Weese (though Melvin may only be slightly better). As you can see from the chart above, Republicans have had trouble with recruiting candidates in at least 7 competitive House Districts, severely hampering their chances of winning control of the State House. But now that they have their candidates in place (theoretically, anyway), can Republicans pull together the resources in win in 2014? As we’ll examine in Part 2 of our look at the State House races to watch, raising money has been just as difficult as finding candidates.

All Brown People Look Alike To Conservative Blogs

UPDATE: Colorado Peak Politics attempts to correct their post:

CORRECTION: This post has been corrected to reflect that JulieMarie Shepherd is not of Hispanic decent. [Pols emphasis]

Perhaps she is of Hispanic in-"decent?" Kidding aside, there's still no explanation as to why Peak Politics decided Shepherd is "Hispanic" for the purposes of this blog post about "Hispanic" Republican House candidates, so…it must have been the photo?

Not the local conservative blogosphere's finest hour, safe to say.

—–

JulieMarie Shepherd.

JulieMarie Shepherd.

On the conservative blog Colorado Peak Politics today, a fascinating post, and by that we mean incredibly embarrassing, about Colorado Republican legislative candidates who represent the state's "diverse heritage." Here's what they have to say about one JulieMarie Shepherd, running against Rep. John Buckner in Aurora's House District 40:

Two of Colorado’s top targeted legislative races both feature Hispanic GOP candidates [Pols emphasis] and have made the list of “14 in ’14 Races to Watch” put out by the Republican State Leadership Committee:

Beth Martinez Humenik, Colorado Senate District 24

JulieMarie Shepherd, Colorado House District 40

…JulieMarie Shepherd is challenging Democrat Rep. John Buckner for his Aurora-based seat.  She has already distinguished herself in the community and is an at-large member of the Aurora Public Schools Board of Education.  Shepherd is young, energetic and hungry to make a difference.

Just one problem: Shepherd isn't Hispanic. Wrong continent, in fact:

While she was born in Calcutta, India, [Pols emphasis] Shepherd considers herself an "almost" native of Aurora. As an infant, she was adopted and came to live in Aurora with her mom, a retired United States Army Officer.

As you can see from the photo above, Ms. Shepherd is brown. Apparently, to our local conservative bloggers, brown skin tone is enough to be considered "Hispanic," even though there are in fact many ethnicities where brown skin tone is commonplace. For example, people from India.

If anyone would like to explain to us how this isn't every bit as bad as it looks, we're all ears…

Local Control Polling: “Terrorism” Enjoys Broad Public Support

Photo courtesy Rep. Jared Polis

Photo courtesy Rep. Jared Polis

As the Denver Post's Lynn Bartels reports, there's a simple reason why the oil and gas industry and their political allies are losing their minds about ballot measures supported by Rep. Jared Polis to increase local control over drilling and hydraulic fracturing.

It looks like they're going to pass.

The poll from Benenson Strategy Group asked voters about two of the proposed ballot measures, both backed by Polis, D-Boulder. Initiative 88 would require drilling rigs to be set back 2,000 feet from homes — four times the current state rule. Initiative 89 would create the so-called Environmental Bill of Rights…

The measure changing existing setback requirements to require any new oil or gas well to be located at least one half mile from the nearest occupied structure initially passed 64 percent to 21 percent, then 56 percent to 35 percent after poll recipients were read a series of negative arguments against the measure — the same arguments Coloradans will hear on the campaign trail.

For those who don't know, Joel Benenson is Barack Obama's lead pollster, and his firm has a reputation for accuracy. And as you can see, this was no leading-questions poll: respondents were subjected to the industry's arguments against the initiatives, and they would still pass.

The other measure includes a provision that if state and local laws conflict the more restrictive law or regulation governs. It initially passed 64 percent to 27 percent, then, after the negative arguments, it passed 52 percent to 34 percent.

As readers know, the rhetoric over these initiatives has really become extreme in recent weeks, with lobbyist Steve Durham bombastically denouncing Polis as a "terrorist" for supporting them. What we're seeing here is the other side of the coin: strong and enduring public support for better protection of local communities from the harmful effects of drilling.

News coverage of these initiatives so far has been unusually one-sided in favor of the oil and gas industry, and overly focused on the failing effort by Gov. John Hickenlooper to broker a "compromise" that would "keep these measures off the ballot." Lost in that narrative, much to the industry's relief, is something critically important: what the people of Colorado want

But they won't be able to ignore the votes this fall.

In Which a Statewide Vote of the People Becomes “Terrorism”

Photo courtesy Rep. Jared Polis

Photo courtesy Rep. Jared Polis

​The Denver Business Journal's Ed Sealover updates on the still-sputtering negotiations over a possible–but increasingly unlikely–special session of the state legislature to address local control of oil and gas drilling. The session, were it to be convened, would seek to pass legislation to forestall ballot initiatives to that could more strictly regulate the industry–from allowing local governments to impose larger setbacks between drilling and other development, to even banning the practice of hydraulic fracturing ("fracking") entirely within municipal boundaries.

As Sealover reports, it's pretty amazing what the oil and gas industry can get insiders to say on their behalf:

The Colorado Association of Home Builders' bipartisan lobbying team and six of its board members have resigned in response to the organization’s decision to support Gov. John Hickenlooper’s proposal to give cities and counties more regulatory power over oil and gas drilling.

The shakeup of one of the most powerful business-industry groups in Colorado — including statements by one of the resigned lobbyists that CAHB seems intent on appeasing a congressman that the lobbyist called a "terrorist" — comes as the governor has said he’ll only call for a special legislative session to consider the proposal if he gets enough support from interest groups to persuade Democrats and Republicans to get behind the plan…

“Governor Hickenlooper has chosen to appease terrorist Polis rather than stating in no uncertain terms that what he is proposing is devastating for Colorado’s economy and should be defeated,” [lobbyist Steve] Durham wrote. [Pols emphasis]

Lobbyist Steve Durham.

Lobbyist Steve Durham.

In truth, many of the conservationist groups supporting one or more of the ballot measures in question are displeased with Rep. Jared Polis for even negotiating with Gov. John Hickenlooper and the oil and gas industry–since they believe, and not without good reason, that a local control ballot measure can pass this fall. Despite this, Polis has expressed support for Hickenlooper's compromise bill, and offered to pull his support for the ballot measures if the compromise effort were to succeed. Without Polis' wealth to back these initiatives, they will naturally be more difficult to pass.

But to claim that pursuing a statewide ballot initiative, the most small-d democratic process that exists in this state or for that matter most anywhere, is tantamount to "terrorism" reveals just how far out of touch lobbyists like Steve Durham are. Our genteel local media is pretty good about sanitizing ridiculous statements like these before the public gets wind of them, so we suspect this won't see much publicity beyond the Denver Business Journal. If they're smart, Durham's friends in the oil and gas industry hope so–Durham might not care what anyone thinks of him, but voters get a little upset about being lumped in with "terrorism" for, you know, voting.

How much contempt does this industry have for the voters of Colorado? If Steve Durham is any indicator, a lot.

Bob Beauprez Breeds Idiocy

“Both Ways” Bob Beauprez (right).

There was a school of thought leading into the June Primary that Democrats were better off with Tom Tancredo as the Republican nominee for Governor, mostly because Tancredo was thought to be particularly poisonous for Republicans across the ballot. While we certainly understood the logic behind that premise, we'd always believed that Bob Beauprez was just as problematic for Republicans, if not more so, because of his incredible penchant for saying ridiculously stupid things. For all of Tancredo's problems as a candidate, he at least seemed to have figured out how to keep his own feet out of his mouth lately.

Beauprez? Not so much.

As the Denver Post reports today, Beauprez's foolhardy nature seems to infect everyone around him; his campaign can't even put out a prepared statement that doesn't say something dumb:

Republican gubernatorial candidate Bob Beauprez on Tuesday said calling a special legislative session to forge a compromise on local control over oil and gas drilling in Colorado is not in the best interests of the state.

In a statement sent in response to Denver Post questions, Beauprez called on his incumbent opponent Gov. John Hickenlooper to " reject calls for a special legislative session that would serve as little more than a tool to force ill-advised policies on the people of our state without debate, deliberation, or discussion."…

…Beauprez wrote that the issue should be resolved during the normal legislative session.

"The governor and the legislature have 180 days to deal with issues they determine to be important enough to warrant new laws. [Pols emphasis] The Colorado taxpayer should not have to finance a special session, just so a bill can be passed that would strip citizens' property rights, and create a chaotic patchwork of different regulatory environments around the state, which would remove any remaining shred of certainty — especially on the heels of six consecutive years of rule changes."

Colorado's normal legislative session is 120 days. [Pols emphasis]

As Post reporter Bruce Finley noted, Colorado's legislature is not in session for 180 days — or anywhere close to that number. The normal legislative session runs from early January to early May, but in recent years has been concluded early as legislative leaders seek to save the state a little money.

How on earth does Beauprez's campaign make such a stupid mistake? It's not like this is just Beauprez talking off the cuff and saying something ridiculous, as he is wont to do. This is a prepared statement that included a foolish error that went completely unnoticed by anyone on Beauprez's staff. This is the Republican nominee for Governor who seems clueless to something as simple as how often the legislature convenes.

Is Beauprez's own peculiar brand of idiocy just infecting everyone around him? Has he had trouble finding staff who actually live in Colorado? What's going on here?