From a franked mailer sent to CD-6 constituents at taxpayer expense.
Rep. Mike Coffman has become quite adept at taking multiple positions on specific issues, sometimes flip-flopping within less than 24 hours. As he faces his most difficult re-election challenge, against Democrat Andrew Romanoff, Coffman is trying hard to cut-and-paste over his own record, which his campaign must know is incredibly damaging.
Coffman has been an unabashed supporter of Personhood, which is of the belief that "life" starts just before a man and woman have finished having the sex with each other. He supports the "re-definition" of rape (as does Rep. Cory Gardner, BTW) to mean "forcible rape," which is, in a word, ludicrous. Coffman has co-sponsored legislation that would cut off funding for stem-cell research, which is pretty common among Republican elected officials who are as extreme right on abortion as Coffman has been.
Can you guess where this is going?
Perhaps it should be unsurprising, then, to see a "franked" mailer go out in his congressional district touting Coffman as a champion for curing cancer and advancing stem-cell research. Is it true? Who cares, right? This is New Coffman® we're talking about, after all.
Check out the PDF of the mailer "CoffmanCuresCancer" to see for yourself, or read more from Coffman's "Dear Neighbor" letter below. Coffman says he's made it a "priority in Congress to fund the kind of medical research that helps find the cures that can prevent these hearbreaking losses." It's not true, but it sounds nice, doesn't it? Or how about this line, "We have a moral obligation to continue this research." Really? Then why has Coffman tried to defund stem-cell research? Or was that just Old Coffman speaking?
I’m Mike Coffman, and I’d approve this message if I could keep track of what I was trying to say, and when.
Interesting stuff from Lynn Bartels at "The Spot" late last night:
Secretary of State Scott Gessler is the winner of a straw poll for gubernatorial candidates conducted during Tuesday night’s GOP precinct caucuses, although results are incomplete and not every county asked for a show of hands.
Former Congressman Bob Beauprez only entered the race Monday, but he came in second behind Gessler in several counties, including Adams, Broomfield, Douglas and Larimer.
These results should, of course, be taken with a grain of salt considering that the three most important counties for a statewide candidate — Arapahoe, Denver, and Jefferson — did not take straw polls. Still, we're surprised to see such a strong showing from Beauprez, who filed his campaign paperwork on Monday and announced his bid for Governor Tuesday morning.
Also noteworthy: Sen. Greg Brophy had very little support in the counties that held straw polls. We would think such an outspoken conservative as Brophy would have had a bit more support among GOP caucus-goers.
(Very interesting clarification – Promoted by Colorado Pols)
Gubernatorial candidate Bob Beauprez can try to get on the GOP primary ballot through both petitions and the assembly, despite news reports in 2010 stating that Republican candidates could not pursue both routes simultaneously.
Ditto for Beauprez opponents Tom Tancredo and Owen Hill, who are trying both the assembly and petition avenues.
"Access to the Republican primary ballot by political party assembly or by nominating petitions signed by a sufficient number of registered party members are not mutually exclusive," GOP Chair Ryan Call emailed me, in response to my request to clarify the rules. "Whether a candidate seeks access to our Republican primary ballot by assembly, by petition, or by both methods, all routes are legal, legitimate, and permissible under state law and the rules of the Colorado Republican Party."
Media stories produced during the 2010 election, cited below, stated, apparently incorrectly, that a GOP candidate had to choose between the assembly process and the petition route.
When he joined the governor's race Monday, Beauprez first told reporters he'd petition onto the Republican primary ballot. Then he told KHOW talk-show host Mandy Connell that he might also try to get on the ballot through the vote of Republican activists attending the party's assembly April 10.
When Jane Norton ran for U.S. Senate in 2010 and bypassed the GOP assembly, she was not allowed to speak at the event. Beauprez could face a similar ban if he decides against submitting his name for nomination at the assembly.
News articles at the time do not cite sources for their assertions that GOP rules forbid candidates from using multiple avenues to get on the primary ballot.
As you may have read in the New York Timesthis week, Colorado Sen. Mark Udall is front-and-center in another controversy over "extraordinary measures" taken in recent years to protect national security:
The Central Intelligence Agency’s attempt to keep secret the details of a defunct detention and interrogation program has escalated a battle between the agency and members of Congress and led to an investigation by the C.I.A.’s internal watchdog into the conduct of agency employees.
The agency’s inspector general began the inquiry partly as a response to complaints from members of Congress that C.I.A. employees were improperly monitoring the work of staff members of the Senate Intelligence Committee, according to government officials with knowledge of the investigation…
The specifics of the inspector general’s investigation are unclear. But several officials interviewed in recent days — all of whom insisted on anonymity, citing a continuing inquiry — said it began after the C.I.A. took what Senator Mark Udall, Democrat of Colorado, on Tuesday called an “unprecedented action” against the committee.
The action, which Mr. Udall did not describe, took place after C.I.A. officials came to suspect that congressional staff members had gained unauthorized access to agency documents during the course of the Intelligence Committee’s years-long investigation into the detention and interrogation program.
As you can see, the details of this latest incident between inquiring elected officials and the "national security community" are shrouded in mystery–because they are classified. Even when someone in Udall's position feels they must speak out about improprieties they become aware of through classified information they are privy to, in most cases, they can't. In this latest case, reports suggest that the Central Intelligence Agency was monitoring computers used by Senate staff. The Denver Post'sLynn Bartelsreported Tuesday night:
Various news agencies reported the CIA is now investigating whether its officers improperly monitored committee staffers and possibly their computers after Udall publicly revealed in December the existence of an internal CIA report that contradicted public comments about the program. The CIA questioned how the committee got the report.
"I'm deeply concerned that the CIA is trying to subvert congressional oversight through intimidation," Udall told The Post. "My job is to fight like hell to make sure the CIA never dodges congressional oversight again and that the White House publicly commits to declassify as much of the intelligence's committee report as possible."
He conceded that might not make him popular with the president, but Udall said his oversight role is "sacred, regardless of who is in the White House."
Politically, this latest clash with the Obama administration over national security policies (and excesses) is quite good for Sen. Udall. With President Barack Obama's approval numbers suffering post-Obamacare rollout, Udall's public role in opposition to controversial national security issues like harsh interrogation methods and domestic surveillance provide a means of differentiating Udall from Obama with Colorado's independent electorate. Although most Republicans–and yes, some Democrats–have to reckon with personal hypocrisy, Udall does not–and can credibly hold civil liberties and national security up as evidence of his independence.
With all of this in mind, we're amused to see conservative mouthpieces trying to attack Udall on this issue:
One of the earliest time-honored strategies developed by Republican brainiac Karl Rove is the simple practice of never leaving any issue unanswered–even where one's opponent is the very strongest. We're seeing more attempts like the Tweet above by Republicans to attack Udall over his handling of national security issues from the left–that is, attempting to claim that Udall "didn't do enough" to stop the practices he has decried in cryptic terms from his position on the Senate Select Intelligence Committee.
Of course, Udall couldn't do that, any more than he can go into details about this latest controversy involving Senate staffers and the CIA. Because the information is classified. Any reasonable analysis makes clear Udall has done everything he could do to alert the American public about these controversies, and is one of very few lawmakers in either party who civil liberties advocates can trust.
Hopefully, it will make more than a few chutzpah-laden Tweets to change that perception.
We suppose it was only a matter of time before something like this happened. From Politico:
Momentum is building in Congress to wield the United States’ vast natural gas resources to break Vladimir Putin’s energy stranglehold over Ukraine — although some lawmakers acknowledged their efforts would have no immediate impact on the crisis in Crimea.
Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.) and Rep. Ted Poe (R-Texas) introduced bills Wednesday to make it easier to export natural gas to countries including Ukraine, and the House Energy and Commerce Committee is working on its own legislation. Meanwhile, Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) is seeking new momentum for a bill he introduced last year that would give Ukraine, Japan and NATO members the same preferential access to U.S. gas as countries that have free-trade agreements with the United States…
…The legislation builds on days of pleas from lawmakers in both parties, including House Speaker John Boehner, for the Obama administration to unleash energy exports as a wedge against Russia, which supplies 30 percent of Europe’s natural gas using pipelines that largely run through Ukraine.
Sen. Mark Udall's bill will be followed up today by a similar measure from…guess who? Reports The Hill:
Rep. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) will introduce a bill on natural gas exports Thursday, a congressional source told The Hill.
Gardner, who recently announced his campaign against Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.), will introduce details Thursday.
Here's a brief but important clip of video from yesterday's interview by Brandon Rittiman of 9NEWS of once-and-future GOP gubernatorial candidate Bob Beauprez:
RITTIMAN: Have you ever supported Personhood, and do you now?
BEAUPREZ: No, I've got a 100% pro-life voting record, as you probably know. So I'm very much pro-life. But Personhood, uh, as my dear friend and my archbishop Charles Chaput, our previous archbishop here in Denver, said that's not the way to do it. I think it creates a whole 'nother set of problems that probably don't help anyone really. And probably won't save more lives. I don't think this is the right solution to, uh, a big uh, a big issue that's been with us for a long time and probably will be.
Well, the only thing we can assume is that Bob Beauprez hopes you never see his 2006 Colorado Right to Life candidate questionnaire! Because it pretty straightforwardly makes a liar of Bob Beauprez:
"Bob's answer was the right answer," said Dustin Olson, a strategist working for the campaign.
The Beauprez campaign asserts that "personhood" can mean different things to different people. [Pols emphasis]
"Just like the terms 'pro-choice' and 'pro-life' can encompass a spectrum of specific policy points, the term 'Personhood' in the context of Colorado's landscape actually means 3 entirely different policy proposals over just the last 6 years," Beauprez said. "I'm firmly pro-life, and my record reflects that, but some of the proposals we have seen on the ballot in Colorado over the last 6 years have been written in a way that could have far-reaching unintended consequences."
The campaign says Beauprez did sign on to HR 552, federal personhood legislation, which in a similar manner to ballot questions that have appeared in Colorado aims to confer legal protections on unborn children…
As you can see above, Beauprez answered "yes" to every one of Colorado Right to Life's litmus-test questions. According to this questionnaire, Beauprez supports a constitutional amendment protecting "preborn human beings." Beauprez opposes abortion even in cases of rape or incest. And most important for this discussion, Beauprez answered "yes" when asked if he would sign on to federal HR 552, the "Right to Life Act." Which reads:
The terms `human person' and `human being' include each and every member of the species homo sapiens at all stages of life, including, but not limited to, the moment of fertilization, [Pols emphasis] cloning, or other moment at which an individual member of the human species comes into being.
So there's absolutely no confusion, here's the text of Colorado's Amendment 48, the 2008 "Personhood" initiative that failed in Colorado by over 70%.
Section 31. Person defined. As used in Sections 3, 6, and 25 of Article II of the state constitution, the terms "person" or "persons" shall include any human being from the moment of fertilization. [Pols emphasis]
Anyone who entertained the notion that Beauprez might have kicked his 2006 habits, which earned him a place in history as one of the worst candidates for governor ever, can now put that silly idea to bed. Beauprez's 2006 campaign was littered with like incidents of sloppy, disorganized flip-flopping–it's how he earned the nickname "Both Ways Bob."
National Rifle Association board member Ted Nugent is fundraising for Republican Colorado gubernatorial candidate Tom Tancredo weeks after Texas gubernatorial hopeful Greg Abbott caused a firestorm of controversy for campaigning with Nugent after the NRA figurehead made a racist comment about President Obama.
According to a March 4 article in The Colorado Independent, Nugent sent a fundraising e-mail on behalf of Tancredo that asked for donations of $25 or more to be entered into a raffle for an AR-15 assault weapon. In a letter addressed to "Real Americans," Nugent warned that "Barack Obama and his radical America-hating leftist goons are perilously close to taking away our guns and nullifying the Second Amendment." According to Nugent, "Tom Tancredo is running for Governor in one of the most anti-gun states in the union, so he urgently needs our help. That's why we're giving away a free AR-15 to a fellow gung-ho supporter." Nugent praised Tancredo for "opposing President Bush's wasteful spending spree, amnesty for illegal immigrants, and of course, insane infringements to our sacred Second Amendment rights."
An image of Nugent's latest fundraising letter follows. We are a little surprised to see Tom Tancredo still using aging rocker Ted Nugent as a fundraising pitchman, after Nugent very grudgingly apologized for referring to President Barack Obama as a "subhuman mongrel"–an apparent reference to the fact that Obama had a black father and a white mother. If that kind of talk seems more at home in the pre-civil rights era South than a mainstream political campaign in 2014, you're probably not alone.
Nugent's presence on the campaign trial recently caused headaches for a different Republican gubernatorial candidate. In Texas, Greg Abbott received widespread criticism for hosting campaign events with Nugent, who is also a spokesman for the Outdoor Channel, after Nugent recently termed Obama a "subhuman mongrel." Abbott was also widely criticized for campaigning with someone who had made numerous profane and derogatory comments about women, including calling Hillary Clinton a "toxic cunt" and "worthless bitch." Even prominent members of the GOP condemned Nugent, with Arizona Sen. John McCain adding, "That kind of thing is beyond the pale, and I hope that our candidate down there learned a lesson." Nugent eventually offered a disingenuous apology — "not necessarily to the president" — for his "subhuman mongrel" comment and Abbott stated publicly he had no plans to hold future events with Nugent.
Tancredo primary voters are less likely to be troubled. And apparently, so is Tancredo.
(More on the "$10,000 Obamacare deductible" fiction – promoted by Colorado Pols)
In his farewell column in The Denver Post years ago, the great food writer John Kessler wrote: "You've kept me honest through numerous gaffes. You let me know when my Chinese Orange Chicken recipe was missing a key ingredient (chicken)"
Mistakes are part of journalism, but that truism will never stop people from getting mad about them, and rightfully so.
Serious errors, for example, in a recent Post piece about Obamacare were spotlighted by ColoradoPols, and to it's credit, The Post quickly made a bare-bones correction and clarification to the article.
The story, written by long-time Denver journalist Art Kane, was the product of a "partnership" between The Post and Kaiser Health News.
Fascinating story from our friends at "The Fix" on the issue of "gay marriage," which is now supported by a majority of Americans:
Here's what (most) amazing to us. Only among those who strongly favor same-sex marriage are a majority aware that a majority of the country supports that position. Equally fascinating is that just more than one in five (22 percent) of those who oppose gay marriage believe a majority of the country supports it. And those numbers are even smaller (19 percent) among those who strongly oppose same sex marriage.
How to explain such a disconnect? By self-sorting within the electorate and the silo-ing of media consumption. That is, increasingly people live in homogenous communities with people who share similar likes, dislikes and, yes, political persuasions. And, not surprisingly, the way in which they consume information, too, has become increasingly isolated/isolating. Liberals watch Rachel Maddow, read liberal blogs and listen to liberal radio/podcasts. Conservatives listen to Rush Limbaugh, watch Fox News Channel and read conservative blogs. The twain never meet. They are ships passing in the political night.
Follow the link for a great graphic outlining the vast differences between how people think they view "gay marriage."
Rocky Mountain National Park ranked as the sixth-biggest loser among the parks and monuments shuttered during the federal government's closure last fall.
The 16-day shutdown cost Colorado's busiest national park $10.9 million, with visitation plunging 73 percent in October compared with the previous three Octobers, according to a report released Monday by the National Park Service.
The pain spilled into Estes Park, which relies mightily on park visitors spending in hotels, restaurants and shops…
NPS also reported Monday that the 16-day government shutdown last October resulted in 7.88 million fewer park visits nationwide than would otherwise be expected for an estimated loss of about $414 million.
That closure — and the prior flooding in Colorado, damaging many roads — resulted in a double-whammy last fall for Estes Park, the gateway city to Rocky Mountain park. Estes Park hotels had a decrease in occupancy rates by over 50 percent after the September floods…
“The flood impact [was] difficult for our residents and businesses and the closure of Rocky Mountain National Park was a huge economic blow just as we were pulling together toward recovery,” said Estes Park Mayor Bill Pinkham in an announcement last October.
Last year's shutdown of the federal government by Republicans seeking to kill or delay implementation of the Affordable Care Act, most observers agree, was an enormous political miscalculation on the part of those who supported it. That's why vulnerable Republicans like Colorado's Rep. Mike Coffman were seeking an exit–or at least rhetorical cover–only a few days into the crisis. At the same time, Colorado's congressional delegation was attempting to win federal flood relief for communities affected by last year's historic Front Range floods. The combination of these two events, in particular stories that suggested flood relief was being delayed by the shutdown, worsened the political morass in which Colorado Republicans found themselves.
And now we know the shutdown did real economic damage to Colorado communities who depend on our national parks and monuments to bring in business. Even after the state paid out of pocket to reopen Rocky Mountain National Park, the shutdown had already resulted in thousands of paying tourists changing their plans. In answer to all of the hypothetical (and often fictional) economic pain Republicans insist is about to be visited on the people of America from "Obamacare," here is real pain. Inflicted needlessly on real people.
By the four guys you see at the upper right of this post: Reps. Cory Gardner, Mike Coffman, Scott Tipton, and Doug Lamborn. Gardner and Coffman are now among the highest-profile Republican candidates in the nation. Polling has consistently shown that the public blame House Republicans for the shutdown.
Folks, if the absolutely devastating attack ads that write themselves from this story aren't obvious to you yet, politics just may not be your thing. Messaged right, this is a potent counterattack on "pro business" Republicans like Gardner. It's harder, or at least it should be harder, to call yourself "pro business" after costing real businesses in your own state millions of dollars.
UPDATE: We're getting word of a "no confidence" resolution against Colorado Republican Party chairman Ryan Call being approved by a number of GOP precincts tonight. We'll update with more information once available.
Now, Udall’s campaign is quickly shifting gears, going on offense and trying to define Gardner early in the race as someone whose conservative voting record is outside the mainstream — more conservative even than Ken Buck, one of the former GOP Senate hopefuls now planning to run for Gardner’s House seat.
“We’ve swapped one reckless Tea Partier for another,” said Udall’s campaign manager Adam Dunstone. “But unlike Ken Buck, Congressman Gardner will be held to account for the out-of-touch votes he cast in Congress. His voting record placed him in the top ten most conservative members of the House, while radicals like Rep. Tom Tancredo never cracked the top 50.”
That ranking is courtesy of National Journal, which ranked Gardner as the 10th most conservative member in the House based on his votes in 2012…
…[The Udall] campaign deeply believes that once voters in this rapidly changing state learn more about Gardner’s votes, they’ll find him similar to Buck, no matter how smooth a talker he may be.
We've said as much about Gardner in this space before. Once the newness of Gardner's campaign has passed, and both the media and voters turn more attention to Gardner's recent history, it's difficult to see how Cory can present himself as more moderate than Ken Buck. It's going to be even more difficult for Gardner than it would have been for Buck to run a strong "anti-incumbent" message when Gardner is a sitting member of Congress; there's a reason that the press releases sent out by Udall's campaign use "Congressman Cory Gardner" in the header image.
As for Gardner, he seem to be betting the farm that he can beat Udall by saying the word "Obamacare" repeatedly. Again, from FOX 31:
When asked about his record at his campaign kickoff event Saturday morning, Gardner offered a response that likely encapsulates his campaign strategy of focusing almost exclusively on Obamacare, which Udall supported.
Gardner can certainly get some traction by attacking Udall on Obamacare, but there's no way that will be enough to win this race in November (assuming Gardner gets through a Republican Primary). Gardner's low statewide name ID means that he must define himself as well as attack Udall — and he must do it before Udall does it for him (see above). As we saw in 2008, merely repeating the same thing over and over again (ie, "Boulder Liberal" Mark Udall) isn't a very sound strategy for winning a U.S. Senate seat.
We've updated The Big Line to reflect a wacky week that saw major changes to the races for U.S. Senate, Governor, and CD-4. We expect to be changing the CD-4 Line quite frequently in the coming days as more potential candidates consider their options.
Your opinions, as always, are welcome in the comments…