Faced With Catholic/GOP Uprising, Dems Kill Pro-Choice Bill

Protesters against SB-175 Tuesday. Photo credit: Peter Zelasko, Catholic News Agency

Protesters against SB-175 Tuesday. Photo credit: Peter Zelasko, Catholic News Agency

The Denver Post's Kurtis Lee reports on drama yesterday in the Colorado Senate over Senate Bill 14-175, the Reproductive Health Freedom Act. After several days of intense controversy, what was once an important message bill for at least some Democrats to close out this year's legislative session is now dead–and the finger-pointing is well underway:

Rather than battle Republicans over a proposal they stressed would help protect reproductive rights, Senate Democrats on Wednesday spiked the legislation — a move that drew applause from some religious groups packed into the chamber's gallery who strongly opposed it…

All Senate Republicans, alongside the Archdiocese of Denver, denounced the legislation as "overreaching" and "ambiguous," saying the measure was not needed.

"It's a solution in search of a problem," said Sen. Bernie Herpin, R-Colorado Springs. "There is no one, no evidence, that has said there's a denial of things like contraception to women in Colorado."

Sen. Andy Kerr, D-Lakewood, who sponsored the measure, said he carried it because constituents expressed at town halls and forums concerns over efforts in other states to make it more difficult for women to seek guidance on abortions and receive common forms of contraception.

From Senate President Morgan Carroll's statement after Senate Bill 175 was killed:

We were optimistic that the Republicans would come on board with a proposal that would ensure all women are able to make private and personal reproductive health decisions with freedom from government interference. But we are disappointed that we were unable to get bi-partisan support to acknowledge and uphold the values of the majority of Coloradans.
 
With 21 days left in the legislative session and 269 bills still pending, having a GOP filibuster would bring D.C. style dysfunction to Colorado.  We have made our point and in the interest of getting the remaining work done, on education, jobs, higher education affordability and childcare, we laid the bill over. 
 
We will continue to fight against attacks on women and their private healthcare decisions and uphold the values of Colorado women and families.

On the other side, here's the story as told by the Catholic News Agency:

Amid growing protests led in large part by the Catholic Church, the Colorado Senate on April 16 killed a controversial bill that could have banned all pro-life laws in the state…

Originally introduced March 31, the controversial bill – S.B. 175 – only gained wide publicity last week. It sought to ban all new pro-life laws and regulations, including requirements for pre-abortion ultrasounds and restrictions on the RU-486 abortion drug.

With the bill now dead, there are reporters and Republicans who say this was a "quixotic effort"–but clearly the bill's religious opponents didn't agree while they massed crowds at the Capitol to oppose it. Proponents point to new restrictions on abortion being passed around the nation, as well as other so-called "pre-emptive" bills, like a bill signed in Oklahoma just this week that pre-emptively bans future minimum wage increases and paid sick day laws, to justify both the intent and functional precedent for the Reproductive Health Freedom Act.

It's our understanding and has been reported, though victorious Republicans deny it today, that threats were leveled by the Senate Minority to bring the entire chamber to a halt for the rest of the legislative session if Senate Bill 175 passed–which could have endangered dozens of important bills. The fact is, Democrats are on solid ground, given the polling on the abortion issue and the overwhelming defeat of abortion ban initiatives in Colorado, pushing a bill to affirmatively protect reproductive choice rights. For that reason alone, predictions that the defeat of Senate Bill 175 has major ramifications seem overblown–certainly not to the degree that Republicans harmed themselves by killing the popular civil unions bill two years ago. In the eyes of voters, questions about efficacy and timing aside, Democrats were on the right side of the issue.

If anything? If you have to take on the Catholic Church, Holy Week might not be the best timing…

It Would Be Difficult to be a Worse Politician than Doug Lamborn

Doug Lamborn (R).

Rep. Doug Lamborn must work harder in order to do the minimum.

Fundraising reports for the first quarter of 2014 became available this week, and Colorado's own Rep. Doug Lamborn has reached a new pinnacle of shittiness: No incumbent Member of Congress raised less money than Lamborn in the first three months of the year. Nobody. In the entire United States.

Lamborn raised a grand total of $38,253 in Q1, an amount so miniscule that the four-term Congressman had to loan his campaign $100,000. As Megan Schrader of the Colorado Springs Gazette reported on April 15:

Lamborn was forced into an unexpected primary last week when Republican challenger Bentley Rayburn won support from enough state delegates to get his name on the June 24 primary ballot.

Rayburn, who entered the race late, won't be required to file a quarterly report showing his campaign finances to the Federal Elections Commission until after the primary election. Rayburn said he'll begin filing his official candidate paperwork in late May.

In the meantime, Lamborn may also be feeling pressure from Democratic candidate Irv Halter, a retired Air Force major general, who last quarter brought in $165,095 in contributions and had $217,432 cash on hand at the end of March. Records indicate Halter has given himself about $32,000 since he entered the race.

We've been wondering aloud if 2014 might be the year that Lamborn's overall ineptitude (both as a candidate and a Congressman) catches up to him. Lamborn has survived challenges from the right, left, and everywhere between since he was first elected in 2006, so perhaps it is hard for him to really gear up for election season. But there is no reason for Lamborn to be this bad at raising money — so bad that he has to guarantee a $100,000 loan to his own campaign. Keep in mind here that Lamborn is not independently wealthy, so a $100k loan is a very real amount of money for him that is a bit of a risk; if Lamborn doesn't win the June Primary, he's going to have a hell of a time trying to convince anyone to give him donations to help pay off his campaign debt. All of this could have been avoided had Lamborn just taken a little time each quarter to raise money and build up a modest warchest larger than the $123,000 he had in the bank before his loan.

Maybe Lamborn defeats Rayburn and holds off Democrat Irv Halter to win re-election in November. But what Lamborn is doing is exactly how an incumbent ends up losing an otherwise safe seat.

It only requires a little bit of effort to maintain your hold on a district like CD-5. Lamborn has yet to reach that minimum.

LCV Hits Gardner With $1 Million Ad Campaign

From a League of Conservation Voters release today, a big media buy hitting GOP U.S. Senate candidate Cory Gardner on his environmental record:

The League of Conservation Voters (LCV) today announced that they’ve added Congressman Cory Gardner to their Dirty Dozen program and kicked off a $1 million television ad campaign highlighting his Big Oil ties. The first ad, “Wrong Way,” reminds Colorado voters that Gardner has taken more than $450,000 in contributions from the oil and gas industry while repeatedly voting to protect their tax breaks, subsidies and giveaways. It begins airing this week in the Denver media market. 

“It’s no surprise that corporate polluters are already trying to buy climate change denier Cory Gardner a Senate seat in November. Cory Gardner has repeatedly helped Big Oil avoid paying their fair share while taking contributions from them hand over fist,” said Gene Karpinski, President of the League of Conservation Voters.

“Cory Gardner’s extreme agenda may work for his special interest allies, but it’s the wrong path for Colorado. With Cory Gardner, Big Oil wins and Colorado families lose,” said Pete Maysmith, Executive Director of Conservation Colorado.

The ad highlights that Gardner has repeatedly sided with Big Oil by voting against eliminating billions of dollars in taxpayer subsidies to the nation’s most profitable oil companies. Gardner also voted for the extreme fiscal year 2012 Ryan budget, which would retain $40 billion in oil subsidies, and even signed a pledge that would protect billions in Big Oil subsidies. Gardner’s votes have come at a time of record profits for the oil and gas industry. Documentation for the ad can be found here.

Eight reasons why a Denver Post reporter’s scrubbed blog post was newsworthy and should be re-posted on Post’s website

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Here are eight reasons why Denver Post reporter Kurtis Lee's blog post, quoting Rep. Mike Coffman about personhood and abortion-for-rape-and-incest, was newsworthy and should not have been deleted from The Post's website.

1. It was news! The core of Denver Post Politics Editor Chuck Plunkett's written explanation for scrubbing the piece is that it was basically old news. But Lee's piece advanced our understanding of Coffman's thinking both on the personhood amendment (he opposes it under any circumstances; see number four below.) and on abortion-for-rape-and-incest (he supports it beyond his previous narrow support of it in a specific piece of legislation; see number three.)

2. It was the first time Coffman made a public statement himself about un-endorsing the personhood amendment and withdrawing his longstanding opposition to abortion-for-rape-and-incest. These are major flips, and journalism is all about providing a record of actual statements by public officials, not their mouthpieces.

3. Lee's deleted piece, for the first time, informed the public that Coffman has completely changed a long-held position and now broadly favors allowing a woman raped by her father to have an abortion. Last year, as Lee noted in his piece, Coffman supported a provision in a bill allowing abortion for rape and incest. But this anti-choice bill focused narrowly on banning abortions 20 weeks after fertilization, and no news outlets covered Coffman's position. It was completely unknown, until Lee asked Coffman about it, if Coffman favors broad rape-and-incest exceptions to his overall extreme opposition to abortion. It turns out his flip was complete. So Lee's headline for his post reflected actual news: "Mike Coffman adjusts abortion stance in cases of rape and incest."

4. Lee's deleted piece reported, for the first time, that Coffman is opposed to any version of the personhood amendment, even of it were narrowed. In his deleted piece. Lee reported that "Coffman said there is no language he would change in the ballot initiative that would make him support it." This advances Lee's March 25 story, which quoted Coffman's spokesperson, Tyler Sandberg, as saying only that Coffman did not support the personhood amendment in 2012 or this year, and the matter is settled because voters rejected it (not that Coffman's thinking had changed).

5. Coffman has been avoiding abortion issues for years, and so any elaboration on his near silence takes on added value and newsworthiness. During the last election, the only substantive statement Coffman made on abortion that I can find was this comment to The Post: "I am against all abortions, except when it is necessary to protect the life of the mother. Given the fact I'm running for federal office, I will not be endorsing nor opposing any state or local ballot questions." Frustrated by the lack of media coverage in 2012, I asked him about abortion for rape and incest, and Coffman replied with his pat, "I'm not focused on social issues." This is what he would also say in debates that year, and reporters didn't insist that he elaborate.

6. Lee's direct interview with Coffman, which Lee described as "brief," might inspire other journalists, who manage to snag Coffman for a longer interview, to go deeper and find out more details about Coffman's abortion stance, like what is it? Does he support Roe v. Wade? Why did Coffman flip on these deeply and long-held positions? Does he support the personhood concept but not the amendment? What was the evolution of Coffman's thinking?

7. Lee's article made The Post look good. I know other media figures in town have been trying to ask Coffman more about his personhood stance, since his spokesperson was interviewed by Lee on March 25, and Coffman has not made himself available. Lee showed enterprise by tracking down Coffman at the Republican assembly and asking him substantive questions about these serious issues. That kind of reporting earns The Post respect and subscriptions.

8. With dwindling staff and resources, the newsworthiness of an accurate and informative news story, once it's been written, is greater than it used to be. In other words, the old newspaper adage that "the greatness of a newspaper can be judged by the stories that don't see the light of day" is sadly part of a bygone era. The piece was not only written but already on the website! Why delete an accurate news story?

And finally, a reason why the story is even more newsworthy today than when Lee originally wrote it: Now that Plunkett has deleted the piece, a much larger number of people are curious about it. This adds to its news value. Not a ton, I know, but reader interest is a consideration of newsworthiness.

Obviously, Plunkett didn't rob Kurtis Lee of a Pulitzer by deleting his blog post from The Post's website. It wasn't an earth-shattering piece, but it advanced, in its small way, an issue that's important to a lot of real people as well as political elites.

Plunkett should re-post Lee's piece immediately.

Thursday Open Thread

"Delay always breeds danger; and to protract a great design is often to ruin it."

–Miguel de Cervantes

Denver Post Pulls Story with Coffman Interview on Personhood

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

POLS UPDATE: In a very unusual development, the story referred to in the blog post below has been taken down by Denver Post politics editor Chuck Plunkett. In a post this afternoon on The Spot blog, Plunkett explains:

Tuesday night I pulled a story from The Denver Post’s online edition that had been up for several minutes. The story dealt with the abortion stances of Colorado Congressman Mike Coffman.

It shouldn’t have run. I had it taken down because a key piece of information that came to us late contradicted the original point of pursuing the story…

[T]he story launched with an important fact that I had not been privy too. That fact is that on June 18, 2013, Coffman’s office issued this statement in a press release available also to the public on his congressional webpage that clearly complicated my earlier understanding of our story.

“I voted today in favor of H.R. 1797 to limit late term abortion,” Coffman said in the statement. “I strongly support the exceptions for rape, incest, and protecting the life of the mother that have been included in this legislation.”

Had I known about that public statement, my news judgment would have been different.

This explanation is strange to say the least, since the story by reporter Kurtis Lee (now deleted) does refer to Coffman's 2013 vote for H.R. 1797:

Over the weekend, in a brief interview at the state GOP assembly, Coffman broadened his position on abortion, saying he now supports it in cases of rape and incest — a position he did not voice in 2012, when he supported abortions only to protect the life of the mother. In 2013, Coffman backed a House bill and noted his support for exceptions in the case of rape and incest. [Pols emphasis]

We also took note Coffman's June 2013 vote for a late term abortion ban when it happened, and how it represented a marked shift from his prior opposition to all abortions, even in cases of rape or incest. This is not new information, and nothing in Lee's now-removed story is invalidated by this detail. Coffman previously supported banning abortion even in cases of rape or incest, and now he doesn't. That's the story.

We do not understand Plunkett's reasoning here at all–unless he simply, in his capacity as political news editor of the Denver Post, did a favor for Mike Coffman. Needless to say, that would be a big problem.

If so, it was also a big mistake, because now he has drawn even more attention to the real story here.

Original post follows.

—–

Mike Coffman.

Mike Coffman.

The Denver Post's Kurtis Lee has done what no other reporter in Colorado could manage to do for three long weeks since Rep. Mike Coffman's spokesperson sort of told Lee that Coffman had un-endorsed the personhood amendment–sort of because it hasn't been clear if Coffman opposes personhood per se, or just the amendment.

And, after reading Coffman's comments to Lee, it's still not clear, though it appear Coffman still supports the personhood concept, at least to some degree, but not the amendment.

Lee tracked down Coffman at last weekend's Republican assembly and asked him to confirm his new-found opposition to the personhood amendment and to explain why his stance had changed:

Coffman: "There are parts of it that are unintended. … I think it's too overbroad and that the voters have spoken."

Lee noted that Coffman received high praise from personhood organizers in the past. (It's true, plus personhood supporters don't point to any elements of their amendment that are unintended, and Coffman didn't point out any unintended consequence less than two years ago, when he was last lauded by personhood organizers.)

Lee also asked Coffman whether he opposes abortion, even in the case of rape and incest. Coffman has never personally backtracked from his steadfast opposition to abortion under these circumstances.

In fact, Coffman went out of his way in the past to underline his opposition to rape-and-incest exceptions.

But he told Lee that he now supports abortion for rape or incest victims, putting an exclamation point on an about-face that started last year when, as Lee points out, his office put out a statement saying Coffman supported such exceptions in a House bill. Still, this is the first time Coffman has talked about his flip himself.

Lee described his Coffman interview as "brief," and there are still big questions hanging out there for the next reporter that manages to snag Coffman. These include: What is Coffman's current abortion stance, beyond being "pro-life?" Does he support Roe v. Wade? Does he support the personhood concept? If he still believes life begins at the zygote (fertilized eggs) stage. Does he oppose forms of birth control, like IUDs, that threaten zygotes?

The headline of Lee's article reads, "Mike Coffman adjusts abortion stance in cases of rape and incest." Trouble is, we still don't know what his abortion stance is, except he opposes a women's right to choose pretty much all the time.

“Both Ways Bob” Makes The Ballot–Barely

UPDATE: FOX 31's Eli Stokols:

Beauprez, who had just three weeks to get the 10,500 signatures required to make the ballot after entering the governor’s race in late February, initially appeared to have fallen just short, despite spending upwards of $200,000 on the petition collection effort. The Secretary of State’s office decided to do an additional review late Tuesday and found that Beauprez had enough valid signatures after all.

Secretary of State Scott Gessler, who is running for governor himself, was “walled off” from the certification process, but sources indicate there was consternation within the office about the “optics” of Gessler’s office ruling Beauprez’s signatures insufficient to make the ballot and an intense effort to ensure that the petition review process was accurate…

To collect enough signatures in just three weeks, Beauprez spent around $250,000, according to those close to his campaign.

Other sources, however, indicated that the total expense may have been closer to $300,000.

—–

Bob Beauprez.

Bob Beauprez.

A press release from Colorado Secretary of State Scott Gessler's office confirms, failed 2006 gubernatorial candidate Bob Beauprez has qualified for the 2014 Republican primary ballot:

Today Deputy Secretary of State Suzanne Staiert announced Bob Beauprez’s petition to appear on the Republican primary ballot for governor was found sufficient as required by statute. Primary Election Day is June 24. 

On March 31, 2014, Beauprez submitted 23,000 petition signatures to the Secretary of State. The Secretary of State’s office began a line-by-line review of the signatures. Beauprez was required to gather 1,500 valid signatures from each of Colorado’s seven congressional districts for a total of 10,500 valid signatures.

Secretary of State Scott Gessler formally delegated authority over the petition verification process to Deputy Secretary Staiert.

Of the roughly 23,000 signatures submitted by Beauprez's campaign, only 12,209 were deemed valid, with a whopping 10,791 signatures thrown out. In addition to the total number of signatures, candidates are required to turn in at least 1,500 signatures from each of the state's seven congressional districts. In CD-1, a total of 1,524 signatures were validated–a perilously thin margin.

By contrast, Tom Tancredo turned in fewer gross signatures than Beauprez, but made the ballot with room to spare and a far higher validity rate. This is attributable to the "Pueblo model" petition campaign his volunteers and paid operatives conducted, drawing on the experience gained in the Senate District 3 recall election where petition signers were cross-checked in real time against the Secretary of State's list of registered voters.

Rumors are widespread that Beauprez paid an absolutely confiscatory rate per signature to make the ballot, as much as $18 dollars per signature or more. If that's true, we would hope that he's only paying for valid signatures, because it's clear that his paid gatherers were signing up anyone they could without any meaningful screening. Either way, you'd think the embarrassment of having almost half of your signatures deemed invalid would motivate petition gatherers to adopt the Pueblo model.

But that's Bob Beauprez, folks. Always a little behind the curve.

Not From Metro Denver? It May Not Be Possible to Win a Statewide Race

Some Colorado politicos were surprised when state Sen. Greg Brophy failed to generate enough support to make the Republican ballot for Governor last weekend, but it makes plenty of sense when you consider recent electoral history in our state. Brophy hails from Yuma County in Eastern Colorado, an area that is home to only about 10,000 residents. Brophy may have had the support of Republican delegates from Yu18 years in Coloradoma County, but that number would be just a fraction of the votes he needed at the GOP State Convention.

Congressman Cory Gardner, the GOP nominee for U.S. Senate, is also from the Yuma area. Gardner succeeded Brophy in the State House when the latter was appointed to the State Senate in 2005. Gardner had no trouble winning the GOP nomination for Senate last weekend, primarily because he did not face the same crowded field of gubernatorial candidates that stood in front of Brophy. But Gardner still needs to figure out how to solve what we’ll call his “Yuma Problem” if he hopes to win a General Election matchup with Senator Mark Udall…and history is not on Gardner’s side.

The last time Colorado voters elected a statewide candidate who did not hail from the Front Range of Colorado? That was in 1996, when Loveland-based Rep. Wayne Allard was first elected to the U.S. Senate (Loveland was much smaller in 1996 than it is today — the population has doubled since the 1990 census).

Cory Gardner, Bob Schaffer.

Can Cory Gardner (left) break a trend that former CD-4 Rep. Bob Schaffer could not?

It has been 18 years since Colorado voters last elected a non-incumbent candidate who did not have roots along the Front Range, and particularly, the Denver Metro area.

Check out the numbers from the 2012 election, when a total of 2,584,719 ballots were cast in the race for President. Nearly 80% of those votes came from the Front Range of Colorado, between Ft. Collins and Pueblo. More than 1 million votes were cast in just four Denver Metro counties: Adams, Arapahoe, Denver, and Jefferson.

There was a time in Colorado when grizzled political veterans of any political party agreed on one thing: That a Denver-based politician could never win a statewide office. That old yarn was repeated as recently as 2006, finally dying out for good when former Denver District Attorney Bill Ritter was elected Governor.

Population shifts in Colorado over the past 20 years have dramatically altered the landscape of statewide politics, to the point where the old saying about Denver politicians has been flipped on its head. In fact, it may no longer even be possible to win a statewide race if the candidate is not from the Denver Metro area – or at the very least, from somewhere along the Front Range.

With so many media outlets concentrated on the Denver Metro area, local politicians have a significant advantage when it comes to earned media and building name recognition. It’s difficult for a rural Congressman such as Gardner to generate name ID when the Greeley Tribune is the largest media outlet in his district.

You’ll hear a lot of different statistics and historical patterns around the 2014 election, including predictions based on how candidates typically fare in the 6th year of a Presidency. But this Colorado pattern is more than a trend – it represents a fundamental shift in the electorate that would be difficult for any candidate to overcome. Check out our graphic of all statewide candidates since 1996 after the jump…

(more…)

Another GOP Obamacare Udall Hit Rates “Mostly False”

mostlyfalse

The Denver Post's Lynn Bartels reports, Politifact's Truth-o-Meter snags another one:

"Mark Udall has voted with the president 99 percent of the time. He lied to us about our health care. He increased our taxes. He voted against the Second Amendment. He cast the deciding vote for Obamacare," [GOP Senate candidate Cory] Gardner told Jefferson County Republicans during their assembly in March.

PolitiFact, a Pulitzer-prize winning enterprise of the Tampa Bay Times, checked out the claim. PolitiFact researches statements and rates the accuracy on what it calls its "Truth-O-Meter." The ratings are True, Mostly True, Half True, Mostly False, False and Pants on Fire.

"Because Udall had consistently sided with the Democratic leadership in votes related to the act, he was not among the handful of undecided senators who (Majority Leader Harry) Reid had to wrangle as the vote was approaching," PolitiFact wrote.

"We rate this claim Mostly False."

As Bartels reports, Cory Gardner's campaign didn't react well to the news.

"It looks like Politifact's pants are on fire this time," he said…

Rather than get sidetracked by the Gardner campaign's eyerolling dis on a Pulitzer Prize-winning fact checker, let's look at Politifact's patiently redundant analysis of Gardner's claim that Sen. Mark Udall "cast the deciding vote for Obamacare." We're pretty sure we've covered this same semantic silliness at least once or twice since 2010:

[Udall] consistently sided with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., in votes relating to the health care law, and he offered several amendments to the bill either as a sponsor or a co-sponsor.

By contrast, then-Sen. Ben Nelson was widely considered a holdout whose late-in-the-game announcement of support was key to the vote’s success…

59 senators…also voted to end debate — and the exact same thing could be said about them. [Pols emphasis] Because Udall had consistently sided with the Democratic leadership in votes related to the act, he was not among the handful of undecided senators who Reid had to wrangle as the vote was approaching. We rate this claim Mostly False.

So yes, folks, this is mindless rhetorical gameplaying. Every Democratic Senator "cast the deciding vote for Obamacare." To be perfectly honest, we would rather see Politifact take a stand on on the much more misleading statement from Gardner they cite from a recent FOX News interview, that "335,000 Coloradans lost their health insurance." As we have explained over and over in this space, that statement is grossly deceptive, since over 90% of those "cancellation notices" were in fact renewal notices, thousands found better deals via the Obamacare marketplace, and–most importantly–we now know that the number of insured Americans has gone up, not down, since the rollout of Obamacare.

Bottom line: arguing over who cast "the deciding vote for Obamacare," like building one's entire case for election on attacking Obamacare, is a waste of everyone's time, and that includes Cory Gardner. While the fact checkers hammer away at the falsehoods, voters can see with their own eyes now that Obamacare is not the disaster they've been told it would be. Obamacare won't be the message Cory Gardner campaigns on this fall–because if it is, the race will be long over.

Old Coffman vs. New Coffman®–Medicare Part D Edition

One of the biggest themes in the CD-6 race has been the wholesale transformation of incumbent GOP Rep. Mike Coffman, from the arch-conservative Republican representing firebrand conservative Tom Tancredo's former district, into a "moderate" representing one of the most economically and culturally diverse congressional districts in the United States. It's a transformation that has mostly taken place since 2012, when a relatively obscure and underfunded Democratic opponent came within only two points of unseating Coffman–demonstrating how redistricting has made Coffman one of the nation's most vulnerable incumbent members of Congress.

Coffman's record before redistricting reshaped the electorate he answers to, from a time when his only threat was being deemed insufficiently conservative, is the biggest problem he faces remaining in office today. This video clip from a 2008 congressional debate, when Coffman was working overtime to prove his conservative credentials in the Republican primary to replace Tancredo, demonstrates the problem better than perhaps anything we've seen:

MIKE COFFMAN: In terms of federal spending it is out of control and that's why Republicans are out of power right now because they didn't hold true to their beliefs as being fiscal conservatives. The biggest part of the budget, unfortunately is now on auto-pilot. It's entitlement spending–it's not discretionary spending. [Interrupted]

What is important about this district, in being a very Republican seat, is it enables someone to be able to take strong positions that someone in a swing seat may not be able to take. [Pols emphasis] And entitlement reform, in order to bring fiscal sanity to this country, has got to be a part of it. 

And here you have a President [Bush] who was talking about Social Security reform, abandoned Social Security reform, turned around and did an entitlement on Medicare for which he cooked the books to make the numbers work, and future generations are going to be paying for that. Someone has to have the courage to step up and say "no." I've demonstrated that courage here in the state of Colorado.

"Old Coffman" was awfully candid, wasn't he?

It's critical to understand this: the "entitlement on Medicare" for which Coffman claims President George W. Bush "cooked the books" to enact is the Medicare Part D prescription drug benefit–the same Medicare Part D Coffman received an award for "protecting" from the National Grange just last year! Has anybody asked Coffman what changed between the time that Medicare Part D was a big bad "entitlement," and when it became a plank in Coffman's platform to "protect Medicare?" We're guessing not. Because there is no good answer, folks.

But it's a great example of how Coffman's "strong positions"…have come back to bite him.

Republican Insiders: Tancredo, Beauprez Frontrunners for Gov. Nomination

UPDATE #2: FOX 31's Eli Stokols updates with further response from Tancredo, who insists he is neither looking at the Jeffco superintendent's job nor an exit from the gubernatorial race:

Tancredo responded to this story Tuesday afternoon, telling FOX31 Denver that he’s not the least bit interested in the Jefferson County superintendent’s job, or looking for an exit.

“The state government would be a hell of a lot easier to run than the Jefferson County School system,” Tancredo said. “And there’s no way in hell we’d be busting our butts and spending all this money getting signatures if we weren’t committed.

“I’ve said all along that if there’s someone who emerges who’s polling better and more competitive with Hickenlooper than me, I’ll hand them the baton,” he added. “But I don’t see it right now. I think I’ve got as good a shot of winning as anyone.”

—–

UPDATE: Speaking with conservative blog Colorado Peak Politics, Tom Tancredo denies rumors of being in the running for superintendent of Jefferson County Schools:

“Absolutely false. Joked that running the state of CO would be easier than running Jeffco schools. My guess this is someone (party insiders) wants to slow my momentum.”

—–

Beauprez, via The Colorado Statesman.

Like him or not, Republicans see Beauprez as a frontrunner for the nomination.

Fox 31's Eli Stokols takes a good, long look at the four-person field seeking the Republican nomination for Governor. As Stokols reports, according to a host of Republican insiders, Tom Tancedo and Bob Beauprez are the frontrunners for the GOP nomination following Saturday's Republican State Convention. Top-line winner Mike Kopp is still a long-shot and Scott Gessler may be beginning to fade:

A number of top Colorado Republicans, who all spoke candidly to FOX31 Denver in exchange for remaining anonymous, agree that each of the four candidates has a path to winning the party’s nomination, but that two in particular have an inherent advantage.

Even after his surprise top-line victory Saturday, former Senate Minority Leader Mike Kopp has his work cut out for him if he wants to finish on top when the primary votes are counted. For now, he is still viewed as having longer odds to secure the nomination than former Congressman Tom Tancredo, who has a deep base of support, and former Congressman Bob Beauprez, who has the deep financial resources to be the last man standing…

…“Tancredo remains the frontrunner in a four-candidate diffused field,” one Republican said. “He starts with a 25-30 percent base vote in a Republican primary, so unless one of the other three can emerge as the Tancredo alternative, he wins by default.” [Pols emphasis]

Rumors abound that party bosses are looking for a way to get Tancredo out of the race, and even that Tancredo may be listening. One rumor circulating Monday is that the Jefferson County School Board, won by a conservative majority last November, may hire Tancredo, a former teacher, as superintendent.

The rumor that Tom Tancredo might be interested in becoming Jefferson County Superintendent was first reported here at Colorado Pols.

Tancredo’s Tea-Party Position on Education Aligns with Jeffco School Board

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Tom Tancredo.

Tom Tancredo.

ColoradoPols has called on gubernatorial candidate Tom Tancredo to address rumors that "GOP power-brokers" are pushing for him to be Superintendent of Jefferson County Schools.

Pols didn't get into whether Tancredo, who's currently leading the gubernatorial GOP primary field, would be a logical selection for the Tea-Party-controlled Jeffco School Board. No need to fall off your chair because yes, unfortunately, Tancredo's views on education are thoroughly right-wing.

He's not only a consistent supporter of diverting public-school funding to private schools through vouchers, but he also sees the public school system as a way for public officials to control the small minds of America's children.

Tancredo: "Why we can’t at least give kids in those [poverty] circumstances, a key to that door – called a voucher. Tell me, why it is so important to keep them locked into a government school system. Well, we know why they want to. They want to determine how those kids view the world, as we just got done explaining."

Where's the evidence that public-school education is about anything but freedom from indoctrination? Teachers wouldn't tolerate it. They don't want to indoctrinate their students. They want to teach them to understand how the world works and ask questions about it. American public education is about mind control?

Tancredo expressed these views on the Peter Boyles show April 1, with Chuck Bonniwell subbing for Boyles.

Jeffco teachers, supported by community members, are at an impasse with the Jeffco board, whose current leaders would certainly applaud Tancredo's views, as expressed here:

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A Few Words Of Sympathy For Mark Waller

Rep. Mark Waller (R).

Rep. Mark Waller (R).

The Denver Post's Kurtis Lee circles back with Rep. Mark Waller, whose campaign for the GOP Attorney General nomination took a big hit at Saturday's state assembly:

Chief Deputy Attorney General Cynthia Coffman nearly walked away with the GOP nomination for AG over the weekend, amassing 69 percent of the support from state delegates.

The total far outpaced her rival, state Rep. Mark Waller of Colorado Springs, who almost failed to make the June 24 primary ballot as he captured just 30.7 percent of the vote…

Waller, a former House GOP minority leader, who for months has been vocal inside Capitol that he would easily make the ballot, focused some of his attention on Coffman as he addressed delegates.

Waller's fundraising in this race so far has been absolutely terrible, and despite his affable nature and name ID as the former House Minority Leader, primary opponent Cynthia Coffman has pretty consistently had the advantage in this race. The fact that Waller nonetheless did make the primary ballot without having to petition on is attributable to support from legislative allies, but also the lingering dislike for the surname Coffman you can still find in Republican insider circles. Few today remember the nasty CD-6 primary of 2008, in which most of the GOP establishment in Colorado endorsed Mike Coffman's opponent, but the state assembly is where those kinds of grudges tend to resurface.

And remember, folks, the only vote that matters is June 24th. State assembly winners don't automatically win the primary in Colorado by any stretch of the imagination. But clearly, Waller had better get busy.

There was an interesting moment of drama at the state assembly Saturday, when ballots were reportedly distributed to delegates before Rep. Waller had finished addressing the delegates. That hasn't resulted in any action since then that we're aware of, but if Waller is looking for some consolation today…maybe that accounted for a few votes, you bet! Hang in there, Rep. Waller.

Tuesday Open Thread

"Republicans are for both the man and the dollar, but in case of conflict the man before the dollar."

–Abraham Lincoln