Get More Smarter on Wednesday (Nov. 25)

MoreSmarter-ThanksgivingIf you can make it to the break room and back without seeing another person, you have our permission to go home (after you read this). It’s time to Get More Smarter with Colorado Pols. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example).


► State Sen. Tim Neville (R-Jefferson County) has been fairly quiet since he began campaigning for U.S. Senate a few months ago. Yesterday, Neville took time off from dialing for dollars to join the fear-mongering parade on Syrian refugees with a scary fundraising email. Perhaps Neville is taking a cue from Republican Presidential candidate Marco Rubio, who said over the weekend that the Paris terrorist attacks were a “positive development.” Sure, a lot of innocent people were killed, but it’s not all bad if it helps you raise money for your campaign!

BTW, if you had any concerns that Neville might get squishy on his fervent anti-choice beliefs…well, you need not worry. Nobody is going to be flanking Neville on the right when it comes to abortion.


► You may have heard of the (cough-cough) “bipartisan” group of former Colorado lawmakers pushing for changes in Colorado’s reapportionment/redistricting process. What you haven’t been hearing from some of the cheerleading media outlets in Colorado is that Initiative 55 is a jumbled mess of a policy proposal. Colorado voters shouldn’t be asked to vote on a crayon drawing.

Get even more smarter after the jump…


Neville Gleefully Stokes The Fear on Syrian Refugees


A fundraising email appeal from 2016 U.S. Senate candidate and Colorado Sen. Tim Neville yesterday pulls out all the proverbial stops, invoking the prospect of Syrian refugees coming to Colorado as an invitation to an attack on Mile High Stadium (see photo above)–now with an angry President Barack Obama Photoshopped in leading the ISIS terrorists on! Argumentum in terrorem is the order of the day:

Governor Hickenlooper refuses to back down from his plans to bring Barack Obama’s potentially dangerous Syrian “refugees” to Colorado.

An unsecured border and unvetted Syrian “refugees” threaten the safety and security of Colorado’s families…

I’m under fire for daring to stand up to Barack Obama and Governor Hickenlooper.

In fact, ProgressNow — one of the largest left-wing organizations in Colorado — called me the “most dangerous politician in America” because I represent the “no-compromise, take-no-prisoners wing of the Republican Party.”

But the real reason they’re attacking me is because I’ve taken on an entrenched Democrat in a purple district before — and won.

They know I’m the Republican with the best chance to DEFEAT Michael Bennet in November 2016.

They fear me the most.

That last part is a bit confusing, since we were under the impression it was the refugees–excuse us, “refugees”–we were supposed to be afraid of? However you may feel about this message qualitatively, and we know many readers will find it thoroughly contemptible, certainly it would be a mistake to underestimate it in the context of the Republican U.S. Senate primary Tim Neville is running in today.

By most estimates the aftermath of the terrorist attacks in Paris has been very good for Republican presidential primary frontrunner Donald Trump’s campaign. Marco Rubio actually said Sunday before sort-of-but-not-really backpedaling Monday that the Paris attacks were a “positive development” if they placed Americans in an appropriately fearful psychological condition. Last year on the campaign trail, now-Sen. Cory Gardner freely exploited xenophobic fears and ignorance from ISIS to Ebola.

So yes, love it or hate it, Tim Neville knows exactly what he’s doing.

Slow Down! Initiative 55 (Redistricting) Is a Rough Draft, Not a Real Policy Fix

Pump the brakes!

Pump the brakes!

Redistricting. Reapportionment. Gerrymandering. Big words that create big problems.

There is no political or policy issue that is not affected by the re-drawing of legislative and congressional districts every 10 years. A truly representative democracy requires that we regularly adjust local “boundaries” in an effort to create a responsive and responsible government that reflects our ever-changing demographics.

In an ideal world, these boundaries would always be drawn in a competitively-balanced manner so as not to give an unfair advantage to any particular community, interest group, or political party. In the real world, this is akin to trying to take “politics” out of politics.

A new group of current and former lawmakers is pushing for a change to Colorado’s political map-making process. The proposal – known already as Initiative 55 – has some bipartisan support but is largely backed by Republicans such as former Governor Bill Owens (R), former Secretaries of State Donetta Davidson (R) and Gigi Dennis (R), and former House Speaker Frank McNulty (R). In fact, Initiative 55 should look pretty familiar to partisan Republicans: Much of the map-drawing requirements in Initiative 55 is comparable to a Republican redistricting attempt in 2004 that was ultimately repealed in 2010.

The primary talking point for the Initiative 55 group is that their proposal will hand over the map-making process to “nonpartisan experts,” which (in theory) would put a stop to gerrymandering. This smells like a good idea that has gained traction in other parts of the country, but what are the other ingredients that make up this political sausage? We don’t disagree that our current map-making process needs to be adjusted, but as we read through the draft language for “Initiative 55,” we found ourselves pumping the policy brakes on numerous occasions. For example:

♦ Initiative 55 would essentially make it impossible for minority groups to increase their voting power. In fact, the language specifically prohibits crafting district boundaries “for the purpose of augmenting or diluting the voting strength of a language or racial minority group.” This is one of several sections that would appear to be unconstitutional from the start.

Initiative 55 upends some critical redistricting criteria in a way that actually makes it more difficult to craft competitive boundaries. The draft language outlines a few specific redistricting factors in a very specific order; the result is that “competitiveness” and “communities of interest” would become the least important considerations in redistricting. Initiative 55 supporters say that map makers would be “required” to draw competitive seats under this plan, but it would appear that they missed their own fine print.

♦ Metropolitan counties with large populations will still be carved up into several districts, but under Initiative 55, counties can be split even if they divide minority communities or other communities of interest.

♦ One of the stranger quirks in the language of Initiative 55 is related to the tie-breaking process for the Redistricting Commission. If the Commission cannot agree on a particular map and becomes deadlocked, the default solution is to go back to the first map presented by Commission staff – no matter how flawed or misguided it may have been. If the Commission can’t agree on later versions of a redistricting map, the law would require that they formally submit the first draft to the Colorado Supreme Court for approval.

♦ Here’s another weird quirk: In the event that staff “is unable to present initial plans to the commission,” Initiative 55 would allow the staff to draw district lines and directly present them to the Supreme Court for approval (Initiative 55 doesn’t explain what kind of “event” would prohibit staff from meeting with the Commission). In other words, a handful of unnamed “staff members” could somehow skip this entire process and do the map-drawing by themselves. 

Colorado could certainly benefit from a change to its reapportionment and redistricting process, and there may be some seeds of thought in the draft language of Initiative 55 that should be examined further. As it stands currently, however, Initiative 55 is more of a rough first draft than a carefully-considered policy proposal. When you skip the details and rush past the fine print, you risk enacting a policy that ends up doing the opposite of whatever was intended.

Colorado can absolutely lead the way and show the rest of the country how best to deal with re-drawing legislative boundaries…but let’s slow down and get this right, first.

Rep. Clarice Navarro-Ratzlaff: Seal Off Colorado?

We’ve seen plenty of reactions from Colorado politicians to the Paris terrorist attacks and subsequent controversy over allowing Syrian refugees into the United States, but this (we hope) ill-thought-out Facebook stream of consciousness from GOP Rep. Clarice Navarro-Ratzlaff of Pueblo stands apart from even the “usual” crazy talkers like Tom Tancredo and Sen. Laura Waters Woods:



So, uh, did Rep. Navarro-Ratzlaff misspeak here some way, or does she really think we need to “pause on letting anyone into Colorado?” When she says we need to “pause on letting anyone into Colorado,” does this mean refugees? Immigrants? Californians?


That’s the problem with sweeping statements in the era of “Tea Party” crazy talk. They might actually mean it.

Tipton promoting apparent misinformation that Paris attacker had “Syrian refugee passport”

(Rumor doesn’t have it – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Rep. Scott Tipton (R).

Rep. Scott Tipton (R).

On Facebook Monday, Rep. Scott Tipton posted the apparent misinformation that “one of the bombers involved in the Paris attacks had a Syrian refugee passport.”

This is almost certainly wrong, apparently a so-called false flag, yet the statement remains on Tipton’s official Facebook page.

Newsweek reported: “Serbian officials told The Guardian that they think both the passport found in Paris and on the man they arrested are fake. A source investigating the case told the AFP that the passport belongs to a Syrian soldier who was killed earlier this year. Officials have not made any public statements on the passport confirming or denying its authenticity.”

Tipton on Facebook: The risks posed to our national security by admitting tens of thousands of refugees from a war-torn region that is currently the global hotbed for terrorist activity are very real. The U.S. should immediately stop accepting Syrian refugees…

While most of these people are innocent and victims themselves, all it takes is one ISIS terrorist posing as an asylum seeker to come to the United States and inflict harm…

Given that at least one of the bombers involved in the Paris attacks had a Syrian refugee passport, the threat is very real and the risk is high. [BigMedia emphasis]

Tipton’s post incited these ugly comments, which is another reason he should remove it ASAP.

Esther Scaman: Keep up the good work Scott! Keep all those bastards out of our country! I say pack n carry at all times! And for those opposing you I’ll thank you for them since they are like their president putting America in harms way and won’t accept the truth if it slapped them in the face!!!

Patricia R. Lang: Much like it was in Viet Nam, one can not tell the refugee from the terrorist bent on destroying our country and our way of life. It is sad but all Syrian refugees much be stopped from entering the United States of America

Tipton was on KVOR’s Richard Randall show Tuesday, talking about this topic, but he did not refer to the Syrian passport. Another guest on the show, Andy Pico, a GOP Colorado Springs City Councilman, spread the same apparent falsehood that the Paris attacker was a Syrian refugee. (Listen here.)

Pico, along with Tipton, should walk this comment back in some public venue–because it poisons reasonable debate about the refugees. And reasonableness regarding poor Syrian refugees is under severe attack.

A Colorado governor who fought bigotry–and won in the end

(Past is prologue – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Gov. Ralph Carr (R-CO).

Gov. Ralph Carr (R-CO).

During WWII, the U.S. government forced Japanese Americans  from their homes on the West Coast and moved them to interior states. Kansas Gov. Payne Ratner, reflected the opinions of many governors when she responded at the time with, “Japs are not wanted and not welcome in Kansas.”

With at least 22 Republican governors saying they’ll try to keep Syrian refugees out of their states, Denver University’s Seth Masket wrote a blog post yeserday reminding us of this and pointing out that Colorado Governor Ralph Carr “stood out” among his fellow governors at the time and declared that the forced relocation of the Japanese Americans under Executive Order 9066 was unconstitutional. He also welcomed them to Colorado.

Masket didn’t mention Hickenlooper, who has welcomed Syrian refugees, but the loose parallel between the two Colorado governors isn’t lost on anyone reading Masket’s post, titled “The governor who didn’t give in to fear … and paid a price for it.

Masket: “Obviously, the relocation of American citizens of Japanese ancestry is not the same as accepting refugees from another country,” writes Masket, who’s an Associate Professor of Political Science at DU. “But there are clear parallels, particularly in the political incentives governors are confronting. It’s not just that it’s easy to demagogue against foreign invaders; it’s that it’s sometimes politically risky not to. The governors refusing to take in Syrian refugees today may or may not know Ralph Carr’s name, but they have surely imagined his fate, and they don’t want the same for themselves.” [BigMedia emphasis]

Masket cites the Principled Politician, former 9News reporter Adam Schrager’s much-acclaimed biography of Carr. The book shows the respect Carr has now, in hindsight, even though his stance during WWII ended his political career.


Stay Classy, Tom Tancredo: Blame “Diversity” For Paris Edition

WEDNESDAY UPDATE: The Denver Post’s Joey Bunch reports today:

Tancredo, a Republican who has long fought for tougher immigration standards, said he was glad to “start a conversation” about the risks of allowing Syrian refugees into the United States.

“I’m referring to the fact that this tragedy (in Paris), this horror, is something you cannot contain to one country is you don’t do something meaningful about immigration — a subject I’ve been involved in for some time — these are the kinds of things that result when you don’t protect your citizens,” he told The Denver Post.

Hickenlooper, a Democrat, was not amused.

“That’s beyond comment,” he said, dropping his shoulders after seeing the meme during a stop at The Post. “Come on.” [Pols emphasis]


As posted to former Congressman, gubernatorial candidate, and most recently “Coffmangate” co-conspirator Tom Tancredo’s Facebook page a short while ago:


For the record, this isn’t the original image. We’ve digitally obscured what appear to be a number of dead bodies and streaks of blood in the highly gruesome unedited photo Tancredo posted. The photo appears to be the interior of the Bataclan Theater in Paris, France after the terrorist attacks last Friday. The caption on the photo, “Celebrating Diversity One Massacre At A Time,” may or may not have been added by Tancredo personally, but clearly that’s the message he endorses.

We’re pretty sure the original photo violates Facebook’s terms of service, so we wouldn’t be surprised if it disappears at some point soon. But as much as he frequently embarrasses his erstwhile fellow Republicans, Tancredo has a considerable following on the anti-immigrant right–and his views are representative of enough of the conservative movement that he can’t simply be ignored.

And folks, sometimes that is a damned shameful fact.

Scrubbing Jeffco Schools Clean of Partisan Turd-Shiners

millerAs the Colorado Independent’s Marianne Goodland reported yesterday, two of the more controversial expenditures approved by the outgoing right-wing majority on the Jefferson County school board are swiftly going the way of the dodo following this month’s blowout recall election:

Brad Miller, the attorney hired by the conservative majority that was ousted in this month’s recall election, resigned this morning.

Miller was hired by the Jeffco board just a month after the November, 2013 election, a hiring that some have claimed violated the state’s open meetings law.

In his resignation email to board liaison Helen Neal, Miller cited the incoming school board’s desire to use the district’s legal counsel and statements by new board members that they would not need a private attorney…

As our readers will recall, the hiring of attorney Brad Miller by Jeffco Schools was hotly controversial, both due to his shady, very possibly illegal approval process, and his known-quantity status as an insider advocate for charter schools. According to the Denver Post’s report today, Miller’s contract stipulated $7,500 monthly for “services not to exceed 30 hours per month.” Nice work if you can get it!

Novitas' Michelle Balch Lyng (left), with former Jeffco comms director Lisa Pinto.

Novitas’ Michelle Balch Lyng (left), with former Jeffco comms director Lisa Pinto.

As Goodland continues at the Independent, Miller isn’t the only line-item from the old board’s tenure being shown the door:

Saturday, the school district posted a job opening for a chief communications officer. Those duties have been handled lately by Novitas Communications and Michelle Balch Lyng.

Novitas, a public-relations firm, was brought in last February, under a $50,000 five-month contract, to handle “supplemental communications duties.”

Novitas was hired by Lisa Pinto, who served as communications chief for less than six months. Pinto, an attorney with no background in public education communications, was deemed unqualified by the district search committee. Hired by Superintendent Dan McMinimee, she was frequently criticized for unprofessional behavior. After Pinto resigned, Lyng became the district’s chief spokesperson…

In retrospect, Novitas Communications’ service to Jefferson County Public Schools was an unqualified disaster. A solidly GOP-aligned public relations outfit staffed by local Republican usual suspects, Novitas was brought in to “supplement” the work of another longtime Republican Party communications flack, Lisa Pinto. Pinto’s lack of qualifications and by-all-accounts horrible interpersonal skills necessitated Novitas’ “help”–which ironically even more pointedly demonstrated Pinto’s uselessness, and hastened her departure a short while later under a considerable cloud.

But in the end, as is now a matter of history, Novitas couldn’t save the board majority that hired them.

Observers expect that the new Jeffco school board majority will work toward re-establishing the status quo ante in the district’s public relations office, using qualified district employees instead of high-priced contractors. Likewise with the board’s need for legal counsel. We haven’t heard if that future will include ex-Novitas GOP media operative Devan Crean, but we could certainly see how it might not.

The moral of the story: when your agenda for your organization is constructive instead of malicious, there’s less need for all that, you know, “outside help.”

Profiles In Courage: Hickenlooper Welcomes Syrian Refugees

Gov. John Hickenlooper.

Gov. John Hickenlooper.

As the Colorado Independent’s Corey Hutchins reports:

So far more than a dozen governors, most of them Republicans, have said they want to close their state borders to refugees from Syria. Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf and Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe both, Democrats, however, have said their states will continue accepting refugees.

Colorado Republican U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton said in a statement today he wants to stop refugees from Syria from entering the United States.

President Barack Obama said the United States would continue to accept refugees and called efforts to screen those fleeing Syria based on their religion “shameful.”

In September, Colorado “was preparing to help” as refugees left Syria and other countries in the Middle East, according to CBS Denver.

In a statement today, Gov. John Hickenlooper makes it clear that nothing has changed:

“A few short days ago we witnessed another senseless act of terrorism. Our hearts go out to the families, friends and loved ones of those lost and injured in Paris, and in other acts of terror around the world. Our first priority remains the safety of our residents. We will work with the federal government and Homeland Security to ensure the national verification processes for refugees are as stringent as possible. We can protect our security and provide a place where the world’s most vulnerable can rebuild their lives.” [Pols emphasis]

As the American Civil Liberties Union notes, the knee-jerk response from some Republican governors against taking in refugees from the war in Syria is, in addition to optically quite troubling, most likely not legal:

For our part, we’re reminded of the example of another governor of Colorado, Gov. Ralph Carr, who in the early days of World War II urged the people of Colorado to welcome and respect Japanese-Americans being transported here by the federal government away from the West Coast. Carr paid for his foresight and equanimity with his political career, but is today remembered as one of our state’s best governors.

Today, Gov. Hickenlooper has spoken out in the finest traditions of a state that has witnessed both great compassion and great intolerance in our history. He deserves not just the gratitude of future Colorado citizens with the benefit of hindsight, but to be heeded now as a voice of reason in difficult times.

Good on you, Governor.

Terror Grips Colorado Republicans

eiffel-111415As the world comes to terms with the horrific terrorist attacks on Paris, France this past Friday evening, responses from Colorado Republicans run the gamut from level-headed to…well, not so much. We’ll start with a rare moment of praise for Sen. Cory Gardner, whose statement in the immediate wake of the attacks showed commendable restraint:

“The people of Colorado and the United States stand firmly beside our oldest ally, France. We mourn those lost and pray for their families. And we are united with all Parisians as they unite against this senseless violence.”

Rep. Mike Coffman, unfortunately, couldn’t resist taking a potshot at the Obama administration on FOX News:

From Sen. Laura Woods, set to compete in Colorado’s hottest state senate race next year, more or less full-blown panic:

And don’t even get Jonathan Lockwood of leading local conservative group Advancing Colorado started:

Really, please don’t get him started:

It should be noted that the latter outburst from Lockwood is apparently in response to President Barack Obama arriving a few minutes late for a moment of silence in honor of victims at the G-20 conference in Turkey. To characterize Mr. Lockwood’s reaction to that minor infraction as over the top is a considerable understatement.

It’s not our intention to belittle any genuine shock felt over the terrorist attacks in Paris, which given the nature of events there is to a significant degree completely understandable. We understand that an attack of this magnitude will certainly be a factor in many debates about American policy, and the role of Colorado politicians in shaping that policy. The number of current stories this event affects that we’ve been talking about in this space range from the debate over the threat posed by ISIS to the transfer of detainees from the Guantanamo Bay prison to facilities in Colorado.

But there is some rhetoric that, we should all be able to agree, simply does not help anybody.

Klingenschmitt says Gardner is doing the “Bob and Weave Dance”

(Finally some fireworks in the race to succeed Bill Cadman – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Rep. Gordon “Dr. Chaps” Klingenschmitt likes to come out swinging at his various targets, including, now, his Republican opponent for state senate, Rep. Bob Gardner.

Showing off his media skills, Klingenschmitt posted an entertaining video today, labeling Gardner a “liberal” and featuring Gardner doing the “Bob and Weave Dance.”

Klingenschmitt: My opponent for the race for State Senate District 12, Bob Gardner, has just started performing this Bob and Weave Dance to perfection! Here’s a quick example. If you’re following this Colorado Springs election, you know we’re both Republicans. And I’m actually conservative and Bob Gardner is a liberal who pretends to be a conservative.

Klingenschmitt’s undercover video features Gardner saying he supports the principles of liberty, but Chaps points to the Principle of Liberty website, which lists Gardner as receiving an F in 2013 2014.

“Don’t believe ratings systems that are odd, distorted,” Gardner apparently says in Chaps’ undercover video.

Chaps calls that statement an examaple of the Bob and Weave Dance–and he wants an apology from Gardner for allegedly calling Chaps a liar.

Chaps concludes with, “Unlike you, Mr. Bob-and-Weave Gardner, I don’t dance.” (But we know Chaps does throw poop.)

County Commissioner again accuses Obama of promoting charter schools with ties to Turkish cleric

(What a swell primary this is going to be – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

El Paso County Commissioner Peggy Littleton.

El Paso County Commissioner Peggy Littleton.

A Colorado Springs county commissioner, who’s considering entering the Republican primary for U.S. Senate, is again alleging that President Obama backed a national education program, in part, as a way to establish U.S. charter schools linked to a Turkish Islamic cleric.

“One of the reasons that President Obama was actually looking at and amenable and actually kind of agreeable to, if you will, Common Core was, that would be a way to influence and infiltrate and open up charter schools to able to have the Fethullah Gulen charter schools, which were bringing teachers over from Turkey,” said El Paso County Commissioner Peggy Littleton Monday on KLZ 560-AM.

Littleton did not cite her evidence for this, but it reflects what she said at a conservative conference in March, as reported by Scott Keyes of ThinkProgress.  It’s not clear what Common Core, which is an education curriculum, has to do with establishing charter schools in the United States.

Followers of the reclusive Gulen, many with Turkish ties, have opened charter schools worldwide over the past decade, including over 100 in the U.S.  They focus on math and science, in keeping with Gulen’s notion that devout Muslims should not teach religion but science instead. “Studying physics, mathematics, and chemistry is worshipping God,” he sermonizes, according to a CBS investigation.

CBS discussed allegations that the Gulen schools are exploiting foreign-born teachers and the charter-school system for profit–and that the schools are secretly “promoting an Islamic agenda.”

CBS interviewed a teacher who claimed she was exploited, but CBS couldn’t confirm these accusations regarding Islam, reporting that “we looked into this and Islam is not taught at all.”

But Littleton implies that religious education is taking place at a Colorado charter school, which she allegedly visited, with ties to Gulen.

Littleton: “When I went in, it was apparent to me that the some of the pictures and things had been taken off in the walls. And they practiced, you know, some of the Muslim practices that are taught in the Koran, is what I observed when I was there.”

In March, Littleton told ThinkProgress that these charter schools teach students to “hate Americans.” This may or may not connect with her belief, expressed at a Alliance Defending Freedom Conference in July in Colorado Springs, that churches should prepare to “respond biblically” to disasters like “martial law.”  Anyway, when I hear back from Littleton, I’ll ask her about this, too.


Rubio Immigration Tap-Dance Leaves Coffman Stumbling

THURSDAY UPDATE: MSNBC’s Steve Benen talks more about the trouble facing Marco Rubio–and also Mike Coffman:

“In my view, if Republicans nominate for president a candidate who supports amnesty,” Cruz added, ‘we will have given up one of the major distinctions with Hillary Clinton and we will lose the general election – that is a path to losing.”

In fairness to Rubio, it’s worth emphasizing that he dramatically flip-flopped on the immigration issue, betrayed his former allies, and now rejects the very proposals he helped write just two years ago. Maybe that will satisfy Republican voters, maybe not…

Keep in mind, this isn’t just some peripheral issue for many conservatives. A far-right, hard-line stance on immigration is for the Republican base what support for Social Security is for many Democrats – a stance the base simply expects as a commitment to party orthodoxy.

Although Coffman’s hard-line pre-redistricting positions on immigration were a polar opposite to Rubio’s former moderate position, it’s striking how the flip-flopping in both directions on the issue has exposed both men’s vulnerabilities. Coffman’s job of appearing moderate on immigration, while not going so far as to upset his Republican base of support in a swing district, is really not all that different from Rubio laboring to appease the GOP base on an issue he has already “sold them out” on once before.

In both cases voters, albeit different voters, are being asked to swallow big camels and strain gnats–and it may well end with nobody trusting either of them. Original post follows.


Rep. Mike Coffman.

Rep. Mike Coffman.

NPR’s Steve Inskeep reports on the continuing “evolution” of Republican presidential candidate Marco Rubio’s position on immigration reform, which has “evolved” even further in the last 24 hours:

Sen. Marco Rubio clarified his view on the 11 million immigrants, who are in the United States illegally. The day after a presidential debate, which exposed a continuing divide in the Republican Party on immigration, Rubio told NPR on Wednesday that he favors a path to citizenship for some, though the prospect would be very distant.

“If you haven’t been here very long, or you’re a criminal, you will be deported,” Rubio told NPR’s Morning Edition. “Otherwise, you will have to come forward, pass the background check, learn English, pay a fine, because you violated the law, start paying taxes, and you’ll get a work permit. And that’s all you’re going to have for at least a decade.”

Rubio went a step further. “After 10 years on the work permit, I personally am open to — after the 10 years have expired — to allowing people to apply for a green card, just through the normal process that anyone else would use.”

That means Rubio still broadly backs one of the most hotly debated portions of a 2013 immigration bill that passed the Senate overwhelmingly but could not get through the Republican-controlled House. Rubio helped author the legislation, but later dismissed it as politically unsustainable.

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL).

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL).

Rubio’s position on immigration reform has been a famously moving target since 2013, when an immigration reform bill he hammered out with input from both sides of the U.S. Senate was pronounced DOA in the Republican-controlled House. In the face of furious objections from the anti-immigrant wing of the Republican Party, Rubio abandoned the legislation he had previously worked to pass. On the campaign trail as a Republican presidential candidate, Rubio has tried hard to keep up with his opponents’ free-wheeling demagoguery of immigrants while keeping the door open to moderating on the issue for a general election audience Etch-a-Sketch style.

That’s how you get Rubio telling NPR today that he would keep some kind of path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants open, even as he says he would close down President Barack Obama’s DACA program meant to protect thousands of childhood-arrival immigrants from deportation. To be honest, we don’t see how Rubio is going to be able to keep these contradictions from breaking down eventually. But with Rubio trying to position himself as the alternative to the Trump/Carson sideshow that’s presently dominating the Republican primary, he needs to be able to say something.

The real loser in this back-and-forth may not be Rubio, but swing Republicans like Rep. Mike Coffman–who have been dancing between the GOP base’s hard line on immigration, and the needs of a diverse constituency that includes a large immigrant population with and without documentation. Even Coffman’s recent “moderated” opinion on immigration doesn’t go nearly as far as Rubio says today he would. In 2010, Coffman said flat-out that the DREAM Act “would be a nightmare for the American people.” Coffman’s most recent statements about undocumented students and/or military eligible recruits are best described as purposefully confusing, but Coffman certainly has not come out in favor of a path to citizenship for undocumented adults–even a “very long path.”

Up to now, Coffman has been able to use Rubio’s immigration reform bill, more to the point its death, as a means to obfuscate his shifting position on a very delicate issue. The trouble now is that Rubio is under a harsher spotlight then ever before as a presidential candidate, and is going to be forced to spell out clearly once and for all what his agenda on immigration actually is.

And that’s going to leave Mike Coffman with no place to hide.

Dems Take Aim At Laura Woods on Veterans Day

A press release from the Democratic Senate Campaign Fund on a new ad (above) playing on cable in Senate District 19, the ultra-swing Jefferson County district held by hard-right Sen. Laura Waters Woods expected to play a central role in the Democratic strategy to retake the Colorado Senate in 2016:

The Democratic Senate Campaign Fund (DSCF), an initiative of the Colorado Democratic Party, launched an ad today highlighting State Senator Laura Woods’ hypocrisy on veteran’s issues. The ad was spurred by a recent Woods Facebook post about Veterans Day writing she supports veterans – “I am reminded I owe each veteran a debt I can never repay.” Woods can never repay because she repeatedly votes against veterans.

“Laura Woods does not get to call herself a patriot just because she posts a flag on Facebook or carries a sign in a parade. She’s playing politics with our veterans and it makes me sick to my stomach,” said Korean Era Veteran Dennis Larsen. Larsen explained, “I’m a veteran in Laura Woods’ district, and I want answers. Why has Laura voted against those of us who have put their lives on the line for our country?”

Beginning with Woods’ statement that she refers to herself as a, “liberty-minded patriot,” the ad outlines some of Woods’ harmful votes against veterans. This includes her vote against tax breaks for veterans (HB 15-1181), against in-state tuition for dependents of active duty military members who have attended school in Colorado (HB 15-1215), and her “no” vote on establishing employment services for veterans (HB 15-1030) seeking job training. The ad ends, “Laura Woods. What a hypocrite.”

“Laura needs to explain her record. Why did she vote against the majority of her party and against veterans? What would drive someone to vote for not taxing soft drinks (SB 15-274), but then vote to tax active duty service men and women (HB 15-1181),” said Andrew Short, Executive Director of the DSCF.

It’s a good ad that makes a number of hard-hitting points in rapid succession, and ends with a simple message: “what a hypocrite.” Taking advantage of the seasonal lull in political ads just after the election, it’s actually a very good time to plant messages on low-name ID downballot candidates like Sen. Laura Waters Woods–whose negatives Democrats hope will become her story ahead of 2016’s hottest state senate race.

As just these few votes demonstrate, they’ve got plenty to work with.

Oh, You Mean THAT War on Women

Rep. Gordon Klingenschmitt (R).

Rep. Gordon Klingenschmitt (R).

The Durango Herald’s Peter Marcus reports from yesterday’s standing-room-only “hearing” (parentheses explained below) held by the Republican Study Committee of Colorado at the Capitol. The announced subject of yesterday’s all-day public event was something they called “fetal tissue trafficking,” but the event quickly devolved into a free-for-all anti-abortion speechification exercise:

Colorado Republicans on Monday held a listening session at the state Capitol that quickly turned into a trial of Planned Parenthood.

The Republican lawmakers who spearheaded the six-hour packed listening session said the purpose of the event was strictly “informational” in an effort to guide future policy decisions. It followed similar hearings on the congressional level.

Republicans are considering legislation for next year in an effort to crackdown on Planned Parenthood, though such measures would face a tough climb in a Legislature split between Republicans and Democrats.

As CBS4 reports, yesterday’s “hearing,” which was a completely nonofficial event that, as Sen. Chris Holbert took pains to note yesterday, will not result in any state staff time or legislator per diem pay, is nonetheless a prelude to what we can expect to see in the 2016 legislative session:

The Republican Study Committee of Colorado met at the state Capitol to discuss video tapes and legislation in response to them. Eight Republican state lawmakers met for what they called an “informational hearing” on fetal tissue trafficking.

“There’s a problem and we’re trying to get down to the essence of what the facts are here in Colorado,” said Sen. Kevin Lundberg, R-Larimer County.

The meeting comes after a secretly recorded tape showed a doctor from Planned Parenthood of the Rockies talking about fetal tissue donation. Republicans say it shows the doctor trying to sell fetal tissue for profit, which is against the law. But the attorney general and state health department declined to investigate, prompting Republicans to launch their own investigation.

State Sen. Owen Hill.

State Sen. Owen Hill.

As the Colorado Springs Gazette’s Megan Schrader writes, GOP lawmakers busily working on gratuitous Planned Parenthood troll-bills for 2016 are shocked, shocked mind you, that nobody wants to have anything to do with this:

Sen. Owen Hill, R-Colorado Springs, has pulled a bill title to defund Planned Parenthood, a nonprofit that provides abortions in Colorado along with other family planning and health screening services. Hill was not at the meeting, but Sen. Kevin Lundberg, R-Berthoud, said he had spoken to Hill about the bill.

Sen. Kent Lambert, R-Colorado Springs, said he was concerned about the testimony he heard and had questions for the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment and the research facilities at CSU that procure fetal tissue. He said he was surprised that both organizations declined an invitation to participate in the event.

From Planned Parenthood and their liberal allies, while obviously condemning the entire spectacle, an enthusiastic response that signals a willingness, even eagerness to take Republicans head-on: