Poll: Betsy Markey and Walker Stapleton Neck-and-Neck

Markey-Poll-Memo-Graph

Results via Normington, Petts and Associates. Survey conducted Aug. 24-27, 2014.

According to a results from a new poll released today from Democrat Betsy Markey's campaign for State Treasurer, Markey is currently tied with incumbent Republican Walker Stapleton with both polling at 31%.

Moreover, according to the polling memo (view PDF: Markey Poll Memo), Markey jumps ahead of Stapleton 44-39 when respondents were read both positive and negative messages about each candidate.

While Stapleton has taken some pretty big hits lately on his opposition to PERA (and his inability to attend Board Meetings), the biggest issue in this race is still likely to come down to fundraising. With races for U.S. Senate and Congress (CD-6) spending tens of millions of dollars, Markey will have very few opportunities to push her message via paid advertisements.

 

Why Suthers Fought Marriage Equality To The Bitter End

As the Colorado Springs Gazette’s Monica Mondoza reports, the worst-kept secret in El Paso County local politics–with the possible exception of the “Shirtless Sheriff’s” sexual peccadilloes–is finally official: outgoing GOP Attorney General John Suthers is running for mayor of Colorado Springs.

Six months ago, Suthers met with Mayor Steve Bach to let him know that that mayor’s race was on his mind. Bach, elected the city’s first strong mayor in 2010, said in a recent interview that he had not decided whether he will seek re-election.

Suthers said Tuesday that he’s in the race no matter what Bach decides. He grew up in Colorado Springs, he said, and has watched it grow from a city of 40,000 to 440,000. He said loves that he can walk outside his home and be on a hiking trail with 30 minutes, he said.

But, he said, the city is desperate need of what he called “collaborative leadership.”

“I have, as others have, seen the city lose traction,” Suthers said. “We are somewhat stalled.”

As anyone familiar with Colorado’s cultural geography can tell you, Colorado Springs is the capital city of Colorado’s Bible Belt. With the headquarters of Focus on the Family and countless other evangelical Christian organizations either in or near the city, you can hardly throw a rock in the Springs without breaking a stained glass window. This is not to say that there are no godless heathens within the city limits of Colorado Springs; they just don’t usually decide elections.

With that in mind, it makes much better sense that Suthers has defended the state’s constitutional ban on same-sex marriage far longer than attorneys general in other states. In fact, Suthers running for mayor of arch-conservative Colorado Springs is about the only thing that does makes sense. The protracted fight over same-sex marriage hasn’t helped fellow Colorado Republicans, who are now strongly in the minority of public opinion. It hasn’t helped Suthers’ nominated successor Cynthia Coffman, who has been campaigning under a cloud on the issue while her Democratic opponent Don Quick hammers away from the moral high ground. And to be honest, this dogmatic last stand over same-sex marriage has marginalized Suthers personally–at least where his political career might once have been on track for higher office.

But mayor of Colorado Springs? Perfect. And good luck keeping the lights on.

Coffman again opposes Obama’s order deferring deportation of Dreamers

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

In interviews aired over the weekend, Fox 31 Denver’s Eli Stokols tried hard to clarify Rep. Mike Coffman’s squirrelly positions on immigration reform, but unfortunately, after you watch the interviews, you’re left scratching your head on key points.

For example, in a surprising admission during Stokols’ Sunday show, #CoPolitics from the Source, Coffman reiterated his opposition to President Obama’s executive order allowing young undocumented immigrants, brought here illegally as children, to defer deportation for at least two years.

“I certainly don’t support it being done by executive order,” Coffman told Stokols, which makes sense because Coffman voted to defund Obama’s order this summer. “I believe it should be done legislatively.”

So you have to assume that, as of now, in the absence of DACA legislation, Coffman believes the dreamers should be deported.
(more…)

New Gardner Ad Keeps Contraception “Distraction” Top of Mind

UPDATE #2: FOX 31′s Eli Stokols:

While Gardner disavowed Colorado’s personhood initiative earlier this year, he remains a sponsor of the federal version of the same policy, the Life Begins at Conception Act, which would ban common forms of birth control and abortion. [Pols emphasis]

“Congressman Gardner will do anything to hide his backwards agenda from Colorado women,” said Udall for Colorado spokesperson Kristin Lynch. “The undeniable fact is Gardner continues to push radical, anti-woman measures that would ban common forms of birth control. One 30-second ad doesn’t make up for that.”

The Udall campaign Tuesday also pointed to an amendment to the state budget Gardner sponsored as a state lawmaker in 2006 that sought to prohibit the state Medicaid program from purchasing Plan B emergency contraception.

“Spending taxpayer dollars on a non-physician oversight use of Plan B pills is something we must consider,” Gardner said during the floor debate on the amendment, which failed…

—–

UPDATE: ThinkProgress:

Udall has pointed out that while over-the-counter birth control is a good idea to expand access, it must still be covered by insurance. Some experts say the new Republican push to move it over the counter is an attempt to undercut Obamacare’s contraception coverage guarantee.

Gardner first announced his support for over-the-counter access in a Denver Post op-ed in June, in an apparent attempt to set himself apart from “too many Republicans [who] are afraid to break the mold.” In a similar vein, his campaign released an ad Monday in which Gardner, a climate change denier, uses a wind farm as a backdrop to express his support for alternative energy sources.

But Gardner’s extreme right-wing record has been hard to shake. He’s had to disavow his former support to the Colorado “personhood” measures that would have banned abortion and some forms of contraception. As a member of Congress, he voted against measures to require insurance companies to cover birth control and to allow pharmacists to prescribe emergency contraception. He’s also stood against a bill to help poor women on Medicaid to get birth control…

—–

The Denver Post’s Lynn Bartels reports on GOP Senate candidate Cory Gardner’s latest TV spot:

Congressman Cory Gardner has borrowed a page from Sen. Mark Udall by unveiling an ad aimed at women — in this case, the availability of birth control.

“What’s the difference between me and Mark Udall on contraception? I believe the pill ought to be available over the counter, round the clock, without a prescription — cheaper and easier, for you,” Gardner says in the spot, as various women nod their heads.

“Mark Udall’s plan is different. He wants to keep government bureaucrats between you and your healthcare plan. That means more politics, and more profits for drug companies. My plan means more rights, more freedom, and more control for you — and that’s a big difference.”

Although abortion and birth control is an issue that Gardner’s campaign has routinely dismissed as a “distraction,” devoting a TV spot entirely to it proves otherwise. There’s little question at this point that heavy Democratic attacks on Gardner’s position on reproductive choice has severely damaged his chances of unseating Democratic incumbent Sen. Mark Udall. It should be noted again that Gardner invited choice as a central issue in this campaign when he dumped the Personhood abortion bans soon after entering the Senate race, claiming he “didn’t know” they could also have banned common forms of so-called “abortifacient” birth control. Gardner’s acknowledgement of that potential consequence has in turn led to controversy over his continuing sponsorship of the federal Life at Conception Act–legislation that experts and fact-checkers alike say would have the same consequences as the state Personhood abortion ban Gardner has disavowed.

What’s the way out of this conundrum for Gardner? Like Republican strategist Katy Atkinson said–”muddy it up enough to take it away from Udall.” Gardner is hoping a combination of misdirection, faux surrogate outrage, and media complaisance will carry him through November.

As for this ad, it either means Gardner is upping the “muddy up” ante, or it isn’t working. Or both.

Facts Undercut Walker Stapleton (Again)

Walker Stapleton.

State Treasurer Walker Stapleton.

As the Grand Junction Sentinel’s Charles Ashby reports, Treasurer Walker Stapleton’s favorite axe to grind, the estimated rate of return for the state’s Public Employee Retirement Association fund, has once again failed to fulfill his dire predictions. Last week, Stapleton lost big at the Colorado Supreme Court, when the court refused to hear his appeal to gain access to confidential PERA data. Stapleton’s campaign to “reform” PERA, while complaining loudly about the fund’s supposed weakness, has been his most visible policy as state treasurer.

Well, as Ashby reported yesterday…it’s a bunch of BS.

A state audit of the Colorado Public Employee Retirement Association, which holds and manages pensions for just about every state and local government employee in Colorado, has “no significant deficiencies or material weaknesses.”

…Along with the audit, PERA’s actuaries also reported last week that the pension fund will become 100 percent funded in 34 years, Smith said. While the ideal solvency level is aimed at 30 years, the pension system doesn’t have far to go to get to where it needs to be fully funded, he said.

Smith credited much of the pension’s good health on reforms made by the Colorado Legislature in 2010. That new law, SB1, reduced retirement benefits for new government hires, reduced automatic cost-of-living increases for existing retirees and increased contributions to the fund by employers over seven years…

Though it now has a projected 7.5 percent return rate, which the pension lowered from 8 percent, over the past 30 years its investments have returned more than that — 9.5 percent on average, he said. [Pols emphasis]

The fact is, Treasurer Stapleton’s doom and gloom assessments of PERA’s outlook, segueing into the usual political arguments for “doing something” about the “lavish benefits” PERA pensioners receive, have totally failed the test of basic accuracy. Even after the 2010 SB-1 reforms significantly increased employee obligations, not to mention the lowering of the projected rate of return for PERA investment to 7.5% last year, Stapleton has continued to find a ready (if ignorant) audience for his message on PERA with partisan Republicans.

As we discussed last week, Stapleton has missed a large number of PERA Board meetings, going back years–all the while pursuing his now-failed lawsuit, and arguing that PERA’s “irresponsibility” was exposing Colorado taxpayers to massive risk. The full facts of Stapleton’s campaign against PERA make the whole business just laughable. Even if you’re with Stapleton on “reforming” PERA, he’s done a terrible job making the case. For us, having missed so many PERA board meetings while grandstanding on the issue for years destroys Stapleton’s credibility. For everyone else, there’s the increasingly undeniable fact that Stapleton is just plain wrong about PERA.

“Without being confrontational with the treasurer, we like to talk about the numbers, [Pols emphasis] and are focused on the numbers, and the numbers indicate to us that we don’t have a current crisis. Every indication is we’ll be able to meet our obligations and eventually we’ll return to fully funded status.”

Back in 2010, when Stapleton campaigned for treasurer warning of a coming “hyperinflationary environment” and calling for the state to buy gold Glenn Beck style to ward off disaster, we marveled a little that this silly man was actually poised to defeat a competent and trustworthy administrator like then-Treasurer Cary Kennedy. But it was a wave year, and things happen down the ticket in such elections that have nothing to do with the greater good.

There was no “hyperinflationary environment” after 2010, but Stapleton has proven no less silly.

Tuesday Open Thread

Walkin’ down the street the other day
I saw an apparition comin’ my way
He said Randee, set the government and animals free
I said, hey, either way it’s fine with me

–Randee of the Redwoods

Chuck Plunkett Whips Out Shovel Again, Starts Digging Furiously

Denver Post Political Editor Chuck Plunkett.

Denver Post Political Editor Chuck Plunkett.

Chuck Plunkett, the Political Editor at the Denver Post, responded rather quickly — and officially — after a video circulated this morning of Plunkett speaking admiringly to a conservative group ("The Liberty Movement," which is closely connected with Colorado's own super-conservative Independence Institute) about how biased he is toward their ideals. We thought about just updating our earlier post with a link to Plunkett's blog post on "The Spot," but after re-reading his "response," we decided there's too much to discuss with just a brief update.

Say what you will about Chuck Plunkett, but you've got to give him this: The man can dig some impressive holes. Few people can dig themselves deeper or faster, and his latest aggressively passive-aggressive blog post is a sight to behold. Let's examine a few of the more interesting paragraphs from his 723-word diatribe, "On My Liberty Movement Advice":

A top political and policy adviser to Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, the chairman of the state’s Democratic Party and others on Sunday dashed off some posts on Twitter linking to an old video clip to question whether The Denver Post’s politics coverage is biased.

It’s a serious question for The Post’s politics editor, and I take it seriously. Given that the posters are such big deals in the political firmament, I thought I should try to answer them. But not in 140 characters.

This is quite the lede. Plunkett starts pointing fingers in the first sentence while trying to both downplay the reach of the video and drag the entire newsroom into a problem that is his alone. According to Plunkett, this was only happening on Twitter (untrue, but, whatever), which meant it wasn't that big of a deal. So why respond within hours of the video's appearance? Because this is serious and he takes things seriously.

The single most telling phrase of the entire post is also in the first sentence, in which Plunkett says that these mean Tweets were calling into question "whether The Denver Post's politics coverage is biased." We doubt that anyone following the discussion under the #copolitics or #copols hashtags on Twitter today — or reading Colorado Pols — would be confused about the concern being voiced. This video, and this story, is all about the appearance of bias on the part of Chuck Plunkett individually. Such criticism could certainly imply a problem at The Post in general, but that would be a gross exaggeration of the criticism today. As we wrote earlier, the video makes it clear that Plunkett "carries a strong bias toward conservatives and Tea Party ideals."

(more…)

Denver Post Political Editor Makes Clear His Allegiance to Right Wing

Chuck Plunkett

Denver Post Political Editor Chuck Plunkett. Nowhere near the center.

Liberal bias at the Denver Post? Uh…no. Consider this argument settled.

Check out this YouTube video of Denver Post political editor Chuck Plunkett leaving no doubt that he carries a strong bias toward conservatives and Tea Party ideals. In the video, Plunkett tells a conservative audience that he stopped trying to be impartial when he became a member of the editorial board at the Post. This is the same editor who just a few months ago inexplicably pulled a story that was critical of Republican Rep. Mike Coffman, apparently only because it was critical of a GOP incumbent.

It has long been rumored that Plunkett goes out of his way to "adjust" articles that might be negative news for Republican candidates and policies, and this video is pretty darn clear about where he stands politically. We'll be curious to see how if Editor Greg Moore deals with this embarrassingly biased behavior from the man in charge of the Post's political coverage.

Click below to see the full video.

(more…)

Ryan’s Radio Love for Gardner Regurgitates Trouble for Republicans

(You're not helping… – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Mwah!

Mwah!

Rep. Paul Ryan was in town last week, and he did a round of interviews on talk radio shows, hoping to find a audience hungry for his new book, which essentially explains how the Tea Party can grab actual control of things, instead of just throwing wrenches and, ultimately, losing again.

The book is called The Way Forward: Renewing The American Idea, and here's how Ryan, who was Mitt Romney's running mate, described it on KNUS' Kelley and Company Aug. 26:

RYAN (at 3 minutes): I believe it’s not enough to criticize the direction the country is going. I believe it’s more important to say what you would do differently. And the purpose [of his book] is to show a conservative movement that is capable of appealing to a majority of Americans. One of the lessons I learned from being on a presidential campaign where we didn’t win the election is we have to win Congress to our cause. We have to show a conservative agenda and a conservative movement that is inclusive, that is appealing, that is aspirational, that’s principled but is big enough to appeal to a majority of Americans, so that we can win national elections, so that we can win Senate races like Cory Gardner is undertaking. So that we can actually fix the country’s problems. I believe we need to give the people of this nation a crystal-clear choice about what kind of country they actually want to have. And then if you win that kind of election, then you have the moral authority to actually make it so.

El beso de la muerte.

El beso de la muerte.

The funny thing about this statement is, no one would describe Ryan or Gardner as representative of the "inclusive" movement conservatives need to win. They're the problem with the Republican Party.

I mean, Ryan didn't appear with Gardner in Denver for a reason: Democrats take every opportunity to spotlight Gardner's votes for the Ryan's budget, which cuts deep into Medicaid, Medicare, Obamacare, and other popular programs, particularly affecting the poor and everybody else.

It's so bad, I'm surprised Gardner's name came out of Ryan's mouth at all–and, in turn, that Democrats didn't spin it as, Ryan Visits Denver and Endorses Gardner!

As for Gardner, his divisiveness goes beyond voting for the Ryan budget. Gardner likes to talk about the big fat need for Republican inclusiveness too, as he did with Fox 31 Denver's Eli Stokols after the big fat 2012 election loss, saying how much the GOP needs women and Hispanics.

But it wasn't long after the 2012 election loss that Gardner went back to DC and added his name to the list of sponsors of the federal personhood bill, continuing his long-standing and hard-line opposition to abortion, even for rape and incest.

And of course Gardner helped block immigration reform, continuing his past pattern, even opposing the House Speaker John Boehner's puny effort to promote broad principles that might fly with the Tea Party.

Now, Gardner's trying to buckpedal, breaking out the whitewash, as ColoradoPols explained again yesterday, and talking about how inclusive he is.

And Ryan sounds just like Gardner, except Ryan is using less whitewash, because he's not running for vice president anymore–or for Senate in Colorado.

Klingenschmitt : ENDA Allows Bathroom-lurking Demons to Rape Females

(The "Dr. Chaps" crazy train rolls on – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Most people do not go into a public bathroom worrying about the history or habits of the person in the next stall. Most people use bathrooms for the usual purposes, and move on with their lives. Not Gordon Klingenschmitt, House District 15 candidate. Mr. Klingenschmitt seems to be obsessed with the demons lurking in bathrooms.

In yet another of Klingenschmitt's jaw-dropping videos, Gordon Klingenschmitt, Republican candidate for House District 15 in El Paso County, Colorado, claimed that ENDA (Employment Non-Discrimination Act) will provide an opportunity for demonic aliens to sexually assault females in bathrooms nationwide.

(more…)

…But What About Tuesday?

Colorado Republicans are apparently big fans of alliteration. They've come up with two volunteer recruitment days — one for men and one for women! You know, because Man/Monday and Woman/Wednesday.

Since it is Friday and the eve of Labor Day Weekend, we thought this email (yes, it's a real email) from the Colorado Republican Party could make for some fun brainstorming activities. In the comments below, give us your alliterative suggestions for how Republicans could attract voters on the other five days of the week.

Man Monday Women Wednesday

Boehner Back to Denver to Raise Money for Countdown Coffman

aeiucircbrownpalace

House Speaker John Boehner hosted a fundraiser at the Brown Palace hotel back in May, which attracted plenty of outside attention.

As Lynn Bartels of the Denver Post reported yesterday:

House Speaker John Boehner is coming to Denver Tuesday to campaign for one the GOP’s most endangered members, Rep. Mike Coffman of Aurora.

Coffman faces a challenge from former House Speaker Andrew Romanoff in one of the most competitively drawn seats in the country. Tickets for the fundraiser range from $2,500 to $250.

This election cycle, Coffman is the only GOP incumbent defending a House seat that could go either way, according to top political pundits such as Charlie Cook and Stuart Rothenberg.

Apparently Boehner is a fan of the Brown Palace hotel. Boehner was in Denver back in May to do a Coffman fundraiser, though presumably this visit will not again include former House Majority Leader Eric Cantor.

Coffman is fighting for his political life this election season, and getting a second visit from the big orange man himself is another in a long list of signs that Countdown Coffman is well and truly underway.

Gardner Breaks Out The Whitewash on Immigration

Reps. Cory Gardner and Mike Coffman.

Reps. Cory Gardner and Mike Coffman.

A fascinating new story from MSNBC's Benjy Sarlin documents Colorado GOP Senate candidate Cory Gardner's continuing attempts at "evolution" on the issue of immigration reform as disaffection with reform advocates grows–this time, making an assertion about his record that appears to contradict, well, the record.

Enter Colorado, which may be reformers’ last chance to prove they can make the GOP pay a price for their intransigence before the next presidential election. There, activists are organizing to defeat three-term Republican Rep. Mike Coffman in his re-election bid and, more importantly, working to thwart GOP Rep. Cory Gardner in his campaign to unseat Democratic Sen. Mark Udall…

“I will do everything in my power, my community will do anything in our power, to make sure [Gardner] is not elected,” Sonia Marquez, northern director for [Colorado Immigration Rights Coalition Action Fund], told msnbc. 

This wasn’t the role immigration groups hoped to play at the outset of the election cycle. In fact, activists originally saw Gardner and Coffman as promising candidates to help put reform over the top in the House. 

Marquez personally spent more than a year trying to win Gardner’s support for immigration reform. Under her guidance, activists met with him personally, held rallies across his district, and organized roundtable discussions with supportive local businesses, all with the goal of making Gardner comfortable with legislation granting legal status to undocumented immigrants. Gardner offered them encouraging words throughout and his staff was friendly and accessible, but he never quite took the leap, always telling constituents that while he wanted the GOP to address immigration he opposed the Senate’s bipartisan plan…

Finally, Marquez gave Gardner an ultimatum: Either release your own plan for the undocumented or face the consequences. The deadline passed and Marquez and her fellow activists occupied Gardner’s office with a mariachi band to mark the point of no return.

This is a fact that needs to be driven home: even to the point of annoying partisan Democrats, immigration reform proponents were genuine in their attempted engagement of Reps. Gardner and Mike Coffman. Both Gardner and Coffman had every chance to meaningfully get behind any number of immigration reform proposals, only to see even baby steps like Coffman's bill for immigrants who enlist in the military stalled out by GOP House leadership. Eventually, it became clear to immigration reform advocates in both Coffman and Gardner's cases that the rhetoric just doesn't match their actions–and a small gesture on a pet issue like military service is no substitute for the broad reforms needed.

With all of that said, check out Gardner's attempt to extricate himself from the wrath of activists who gave him every chance, but understand now that he was playing them the whole time:

Gardner said he was disappointed with how things turned out as well. Despite reports to the contrary, he told msnbc he had tried to sell his colleagues on the House GOP’s ill-fated immigration principles and shared activists’ goals of passing significant legislation. 

“It’s a shame, I thought we were working very well together,” he said of his relationship with pro-reform groups. “I would like to see them work with people opposed to immigration reform instead of trying to play politics with people who support immigration reform.”

Gardner's opposition to the moribund House GOP "immigration reform principles" was documented by Roll Call back in March. We'll be happy to note for the record if Roll Call updates that whip count six months later to reflect Gardner's new version of events. Until then, we have to assume that Gardner simply hadn't made up his mind where to position himself on immigration for this race yet. Now that he has a better sense of where he needs to be–that is, as far from his previously anti-immigrant politics as he can–a clear need to revise that history presents itself.

You know, like he did with Colorado's Personhood abortion bans on another Friday not so long ago. Or a few Fridays after that, when he did a 180 on the issue of child adoptions by gays and lesbians. Or just a couple Fridays ago, when Gardner claims to have "never supported the shutdown" despite a wealth of evidence that he did. In all of these cases there is a common thread of not just reversal, but an attempt by Gardner to revise the record in the face of documented evidence to the contrary. With Personhood, Gardner claimed to have begun reconsidering years ago–but his continued sponsorship of equivalent federal legislation makes a liar out of him. Same with LGBT adoptions and now immigration: there's what Gardner says today as he runs for the U.S. Senate, and then there's a longstanding record that makes it very difficult to believe him.

The best rejoinder for any of these would be action: but whether the result of their own failings or the intransigence of GOP House leadership, that's the one thing we can feel pretty confident isn't going to happen before the election.

Beauprez says Colorado shouldn’t house child migrants because of our “inland” location

(Babblin' Beauprez strikes again – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

“Both Ways” Bob Beauprez (right).

As reported by The Denver Post Wedneday, gubernatorial candidate Bob Beauprez told KNUS-radio yapper Peter Boyles that he would not allow young immigrants from poverty-stricken Central American countries to be housed anywhere in Colorado while they await deportation decisions.

But Beauprez's explanation for his young-migrant ban, which wasn't picked up by any news outlet that I can find, is just as newsworthy as his position itself:

BOYLES (Aug 27 at 5 minutes): We know that Hickenlooper has welcomed these illegal children who have come into this country.  Would you allow Colorado to continue to receive these, quote, undocumented whatever-they-are, fill-in-the-bland, no matter how old they are or how young they are. Would you stop that?

BEAUPREZ: They've got to stay on the border, Pete. They shouldn't even be allowed in the border, but to bring them this far inland makes it that much more difficult to send them back home.

BOYLES: Thank you!

BEAUPREZ: Yep. Done.

This far inland? I listened three times to make sure he said it. He did. Then I checked to see if these children ride on horseback to their deportation hearings, making it difficult to send them home from a inland location. They don't. They ride in modern planes and buses, some of which have been blocked by anti-immigrant protesters.

Transportation logistics are irrelevant to Boyles' agenda of ridding Colorado of immigrants, no matter how small or vulnerable. Or no matter the horror they've fled. He wants them out, and he's not scared to say that housing and caring for undocumented children isn't our job.

Yet Boyles didn't ask Beauprez for a real reason for banning child migrants from Colorado.

So we're left to speculate that Beauprez's thinking is probably along the lines of, someone else will be compassionate toward them, and it's messy for Colorado to chip in. And that's a charitable interpretation.