Red-on-Red Recriminations Over Recall Winners’ Defeats Go On

Sen.-elect Michael Merrifield.

Sen.-elect Michael Merrifield.

Conservative news site Breitbart.com reports on continuing anger among Republicans both in and outside the state of Colorado over the failure of the Colorado Republican Party to defend the two seats won in the historic 2013 recall elections–in which sitting Colorado legislators were swept from office for the first time in a wave of backlash over gun safety legislation:

Although Republicans won control of the Colorado state senate during the midterms, pockets of resistance cost them both seats they'd picked up during the 2013 recall efforts. Some of the resistance was in a senate district–Colorado Springs–and some of it was in the state Republican party headquarters…

Herpin says the loss was due to the fact that guns were simply "not much of an issue" in his district this time around. But this misses the larger point, which is that Republicans have to make guns an issue, especially in a race where Herpin's opponent had ties to Michael Bloomberg.

Merrifield "had been a Colorado coordinator for [Bloomberg's] Mayors Against Illegal Guns."

NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

Former NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

We've talked about the enormous black eye the victory of former Mayors Against Illegal Guns state coordinator Michael Merrifield over 2013 recall victor Bernie Herpin represents, being by far the more competitive of the two seats picked up last year by the GOP. Republicans don't want to talk about it now, but we'll say it again: the 2013 recalls were the biggest news event at the state legislative level in Colorado in many years. The national attention these recalls earned last year should make the flipping of both of these seats right back to Democrats–especially Merrifield with his former relationship with MAIG–big, big news. Instead, it seems like the significance of this conflicting result in an otherwise great year for the GOP has yet to fully sink in.

With that said, at least one major operative from the 2013 recalls is sowing fresh dissent against Colorado Republicans, not just over Merrifield, but the failure of Republicans to defend Pueblo's SD-3 seat:

Breitbart News spoke to recall spokeswoman Jennifer Kerns on November 12. She says: "The state Republican Party party chair lived up to his threat to not fund operations in Pueblo because of the 2013 recall elections, which state party did not support." And although the Pueblo County Republican Party chair was able to shame the state party into sending a meager amount of funding late in the cycle, Kerns said it was considered "too little, too late."

Now the truth is, of course, that there was no way Republicans were going to keep heavily Democratic SD-3 in any general election, and the pickup of this seat in last year's recall had as much to do with intra-Democratic squabbling in Pueblo as it did anti-gun control backlash. But we suspect that nuance will be completely lost on Breitbart's national audience, and the comments of recall spokesperson Jennifer "CAPartyGirl" Kerns will further fuel already burning discord on the Colorado GOP's gun-crazy right flank. Herpin's defeat, and the speculated role of follow El Paso County Republican Bill Cadman in hanging Herpin out to dry, certainly fit this emerging narrative.

Think of it as Dudley Brown's consolation prize.

What the Lame Duck Session Means to our Federal Courts

After the 2014 Midterm elections in early November, the Senate will return to work for what is commonly called a “lame duck” session. While a “lame duck” session sounds…well…lame, this winter, it must not be an excuse for inaction. Among other pieces of business, there are many judicial nominees that must get confirmed to fill vacancies on our nation’s federal courts and keep the wheels of justice moving. 

The Senate has a constitutional duty to advise and consent on the President’s nominees to serve as judges on our Nation’s federal courts. Going into the 2014 lame duck period, there are 64 current judicial vacancies and 34 nominees pending in the Senate. It is vital for the Senate to stay in session until every judicial nominee on the floor gets a yes-or-no vote. If these judges are not confirmed, our federal courts will not be able handle the issues – from marriage equality to voting rights to health care to immigration – that affect all of us.

Click here to tell our Colorado Senators to make judicial nominations a priority during the lame duck session.

Although Senators may want to get home for the holidays, Senators from both parties should stay in DC and put aside political differences to confirm needed judges. There is a historical precedent for this: In 2010 and 2012 lame duck sessions, a total of 32 judicial nominees were confirmed. Senators should apply a similar focus this session. In the 2002 lame duck session, Democrats controlled the Senate. In a spirit of bipartisanship, even though they were the opposition party, they nonetheless confirmed 20 of President Bush’s judicial nominees. Republicans today should put aside politics and get to work to get nominees waiting for a vote confirmed. 

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Welcome Back, J. Paul Brown!

Cletus Spuckler.

Cletus Spuckler.

As the Durango Herald reports today, one of the more colorful additions to the Colorado General Assembly from the 2010 Republican wave is coming back to the Capitol in January:

[A]s of the final tally of La Plata County cured ballots Wednesday night, [Rep. Mike] McLachlan was still trailing Republican challenger J. Paul Brown by 163 votes districtwide.

Brown had 17,246 to McLachlan’s 17,083, with 34,329 votes cast in total across the district.

Since Election Day, McLachlan has run up his vote total in La Plata County, getting 11,949 to Brown’s 10,621.

But it wasn’t enough to tip the scales.

Parker said the 0.95 percent margin of difference wasn’t close enough to trigger an automatic recount.

Rep. J. Paul Brown was ousted in 2012 by Democrat Mike McLachlan by a considerably bigger margin than he just recaptured the HD-59 seat with, which may rightfully make you wonder if HD-59 is destined to bounce back and forth between presidential and off years until the next reapportionment in 2020. It seems like the partisan divide in the district is close enough, and the swing between presidential and off year electorates wide enough, to set that in motion.

Democrats are sorry to lose McLachlan, even as they celebrate holding their majority in the House. Looking ahead, though, as we saw with Brown's last term in 2011-12, the short term loss could become a long-term bonus for Democrats. Rep. Brown frequently made headlines for his UN conspiracy theories, embarrassing homespun gaffes, and bizarre protest votes: once casting the only vote against a homeless youth prevention bill, and famously saying in explanation of his vote against children's health care coverage, "if I’m wrong, I guess, take me out behind the barn and give me a whipping."

In 2012, the voters of HD-59 did so. McLachlan was targeted by the gun lobby for his role in the passage of 2013's gun safety bills, even though McLachlan's primary contribution was to increase the magazine limit from 10 to 15 rounds in order to accommodate a variety of automatic pistols. But for all the money spent to oust McLachlan, a margin under 200 votes in a GOP wave year doesn't inspire much confidence for holding this seat in 2016.

And frankly, neither does J. Paul Brown.

Scuttlebutt: Did Bill Cadman Shaft Recall Hero Bernie Herpin?

Sen. Bernie Herpin (R).

Sen. Bernie Herpin (R).

Even though Colorado Republicans took over the state senate in this year's elections by a single seat, Democrats have consoled themselves with two wins both symbolically and strategically important: taking back the two seats lost in last year's recall elections in Colorado Springs and Pueblo. In Pueblo's Senate District 3, Democrats winning back the seat was practically a foregone conclusion: the district is overwhelmingly Democrats, and the recall would not have succeeded there were it not for Byzantine political squabbles in Pueblo that further weakened the incumbent.

In SD-11, covering urban Colorado Springs and relatively liberal Manitou Springs, the numbers don't favor Democrats nearly as much, and recall winner Bernie Herpin had at least some hope of keeping his seat. This is, after all, the seat that John Morse barely held in 2010 in addition to having lost last year. Reapportionment shored up the seat for Democrats to some degree, but it was still by far the more competitive of the two. What's more, these seats had enormous symbolic value after the nationwide attention paid to the 2013 recalls. In the aftermath of last week's elections, the ouster of both recall winners has been cited nationally as evidence that the Republican wave was at least partially broken in Colorado.

Part of the consoling irony for Democrats in Herpin's ouster by a wide margin a week ago is the man who ousted him: Michael Merrifield, a former state representative who also served as the state organizer for national gun control group Mayors Against Illegal Guns. All told, the gun lobby's "wave of fear" strategy of using the Colorado recalls to forestall gun safety legislation in other states may be what took the real beating last Tuesday:

Now it’s gun-control activists who are crowing.

Mark Glaze, former executive director of the group Everytown for Gun Safety, said the results showed that when a significant portion of the electorate turns out, rather than a small, agitated minority, support for something like universal background checks for gun buyers is a politically winning position. (That was part of the package Hickenlooper, who was reelected Tuesday, signed into law.)

“The message remains that the [National Rifle Association] can bully politicians or buy them for a few pieces of silver but they have no influence over the general public,” Glaze said.

Bottom line: sources tell us that internal El Paso County rivalries may have kept the Senate Republicans from doing more to help Bernie Herpin this year, even after he became a national hero for the party because of his recall victory. In a year where money was lavished on Republican legislative candidates, there was apparently nothing in the way of outside money to defend this particular member of the GOP caucus in a wave Republican year. Responsibility for that, to the extent it's true, would fall on incoming Colorado Senate President Bill Cadman as the chief strategist of the GOP's Senate campaign efforts.

There is other evidence that Cadman didn't like and/or trust Bernie Herpin much, like Herpin's assignment to the frequently toxic Senate State Affairs Committee this year while Pueblo's George Rivera got more politically defensible assignments. Now, maybe the GOP saw data that made them write this seat off early, but we can tell you that Democrats made the full investment in SD-11 as with races they considered competitive. And if you think Pueblo's intra-Democratic relations are sketchy, compare them with the backstab fest that is the El Paso County Republican Party.

If Cadman did cede the one seat the gun lobby could have held on to from last year's historic recall elections, especially for (to put it diplomatically) nonstrategic reasons, we can't see how that will be good for the already tense partnership between the Dudley Browns of the world and the Colorado GOP.

GOP Takes Colorado Senate By 876 (Or 689) Votes

UPDATE: Statement from Colorado Senate Democrats, who are holding a press conference at 3:00PM today:

The Democratic caucus plans to do whatever possible to block efforts to take the state backward with respect to economic growth, women's rights, LGBT equality, the environment and workers' rights.

While the loss of this one seat changes which party is in control of the Senate, the Senate Democrats had many victories in this election, including winning back both recall seats, winning 2 out of 4 very difficult seats in Jefferson County, and winning the rural seat on the Western Slope. 

"After several days of wait-and-see, we now know the fate of Senate control," said Senate President Morgan Carroll, D-Aurora. "Under Democratic leadership, we were able to achieve the fourth fastest growing economy in the nation and get the unemployment rate down to the lowest it has been since 2008. We are extremely proud of our accomplishments and all of the people who worked with us to make those possible. Going forward, we will do what we can to defend the rights and liberties that we worked so hard to protect. It is our job to hold the Republicans accountable, work together where we can, and continue to fight for a great state."

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shutterstock_94499062

The last update yesterday from Adams County at about 11:30PM indicates that the margin between Senate District 24 candidates Beth Martinez Humenik (R) and Judy Solano (D) went in the opposite direction from previous days–expanding the narrow lead for Humenik to 876 votes where previously Solano was gaining. It should be noted that this total does not include provisional ballots, outstanding overseas and military (UOCAVA) ballots, or deficient ballots that can still be cured through Wednesday, but the math seems clear at this point. This ends the suspense over counting in Adams County, which was slowed by the need to manually inspect write-in votes for an obscure county race with no candidates.

And it means that Colorado Republicans will assume control of the Colorado Senate, flipping an 18-17 majority Democratic chamber to 18-17 GOP control. It's a hard-fought win that Republican deserve credit for, and ensures Republicans will have a voice in legislative policymaking over the next two years. In 2010, the last "GOP wave" election, Colorado Republicans similarly won a single-seat majority in one chamber of the Colorado legislature–that time winning the House by under 200 votes.

The other side of the coin is that Democrats have held the governor's race, the state House, and came up less than 900 votes short of holding both chambers of the legislature in one of the worst election years for Democrats anyone can remember. This too is the result of enormous effort by Democrats that should be acknowledged. The second midterm election with a Democratic President at the low point of his popularity, Republicans and pundits widely recognized 2014 to be the last best chance of crushing the decade-old "Colorado Model" that led to Democratic dominance for so many elections. And for all the accolades Republicans deservedly get for toppling Mark Udall, and again taking one chamber of the state legislature by one seat, this election simply was not the wipeout for Democrats that it was in many other states. The "Colorado Model" remains very much in business.

Laura Waters Woods

Laura Waters Woods

As for the Colorado Senate, Democrats' narrow and unexpected (at least by some) loss in SD-24 may not even be the race that matters in the long run. While all eyes have been focused on Adams County the last few days, the SD-19 race in Jefferson County between apparent winner Republican Laura Waters Woods and Democrat Rachel Zenzinger quietly narrowed to only 689 votes. This result may prove more important to long-term control of the Senate for several reasons–the biggest being that Sen.-elect Waters Woods doesn't get a full term. Woods is right back up for election in 2016 to realign the seat with its normal interval, which is being up in presidential years.

This means that for the next two years, all eyes are now squarely on Woods–instantly the most vulnerable member of a brittle Republican majority. Woods' primary victory over establishment-favored Republican Lang Sias, backed by the hard-right Rocky Mountain Gun Owners, could very easily come back to haunt the GOP in the next election. Woods won this seat by roughly the same number of votes that Evie Hudak did in 2012. Assuming she becomes the fringe-right firebrand most expect her to be in the Senate, she will be a much richer target than Sias would ever have been.

In any event, the last few days' experience in Adams County should convince everyone to stop writing in Mickey Mouse and Bugs Bunny as candidates in uncontested local races. Okay? It gums up the works more than it's worth in giggles.

Rocky Mountain Heist–So Bad It’s…Well, See For Yourself

UPDATE: Luis Toro of Colorado Ethics Watch makes an astute point:

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citizensunited

The controversial right-wing filmmaking crew Citizens United released their much-anticipated movie about the "Democratic takeover" of Colorado titled Rocky Mountain Heist last week, now available on DVD as well as streaming free on conservative website Newsmax.com. Overall, the video appears to be a overheated version of Adam Schrager's Blueprint: How the Democrats Won Colorado, with some misleading anecdotes backdropped against the effective (and perfectly legal) Democratic infrastructure generally given credit for turning Colorado blue for the past decade.

Rocky Mountain Heist draws viewers in with references to a memo, purportedly from the Colorado Democracy Alliance in 2006, that refers to a campaign to "educate the idiots"–obviously an incendiary choice of words for any election strategy document. What Citizens United doesn't mention is that the "educate the idiots" memo was an obvious forgery, using bizarre language and bad grammar that nobody on the Democratic side could even recognize.

And that's just the beginning. The movie references the case of Jack Phillips, the bakery owner who was found to be in violation of the state's public accommodation law, claiming Phillips "faced jail time" for his refusal to bake a cake for a gay wedding. The truth is, the Colorado General Assembly repealed the criminal penalties for public accommodation in 2013, the same year they passed the civil unions bill. To imply in the fall of 2014 that refusing to bake a wedding cake for a gay couple in Colorado could result in jail time is just one example of the way this movie blatantly misleads its audience.

Seth Masket, a DU professor, relates his experience of being duped into an interview for Rocky Mountain Heist in a Washington Post blog last week:

At one point in the film, I claim the following:

Latinos have not only been increasing in their potential to vote, but they’ve been voting increasingly Democratic over the last 10 years in Colorado.

By itself, this is not a particularly controversial statement. It is empirically verifiable that the number of Latino voters has increased substantially in Colorado over the past decade and that those voters are more likely to vote Democratic than they used to be. But this quote is inserted in between some footage purportedly showing that Democrats are trying to encourage illegal immigration, an insinuation by Tom Tancredo that the Obama administration is essentially recruiting Democratic voters via undocumented Mexican immigration, and a paean by Michelle Malkin to her Filipino parents who “immigrated here legally. It wasn’t easy. They learned English, they learned our history, they followed our rules.”

So now my uncontroversial quote is helping to legitimize an argument that undocumented immigrants from Mexico are invading our country, affecting our elections and undermining our culture.

For us, perhaps the most egregious lie in the whole film–the one that proves Citizens United is purposefully out to mislead you–is this frame:

udalltomfreespeech

This is the point late in the film where Citizens United declares their court case invalidating campaign finance laws is the reason why the "gun control revolt" in Colorado was successful–enough that "Sen. Udall" is proposing to "roll back free speech rights across the country."

But if you look closely, you can see they're not even attacking the right Sen. Udall.

tomudall

Bottom line: since the release of Rocky Mountain Heist, we've honestly been surprised by how little attention it's received in the mainstream press, and how little buzz among voters on either side of the political spectrum it seems to be generating. That's partly because the material is really quite weak, relying more on breathless reporting of uncontroversial politics than findings of real nefarious fact. And at key moments, the whole production is pasted together with rank deceptions like what you see above: maybe enough fool the most uncritical and most committed partisan Republicans, but laughable to anyone who stops even for a moment to think about what they're being presented with. As a tool for persuading undecided voters, Rocky Mountain Heist is just plain bunk.

Given the splash they made with the court battle just to set up shop in Colorado, we expected better.

Fear and Lies: Controversy Erupts Over False RGA TV Spot

UPDATE: 9NEWS' Brandon Rittiman says the station has not refused the ad, but it isn't running there:

Republican-Governors-Association-RGA-LogoTo be clear, our original report was based on an update to the Denver Post's story:

UPDATE: Channel 9 is not airing the ad in its current form, Hickenlooper campaign says.

Which, to be fair, doesn't explicitly say 9NEWS pulled the ad–so we regret any presumption. This story is still reportedly developing, we'll update.

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FOX 31's Eli Stokols:

Thinking it was set to fire a potential kill shot in Colorado’s governor’s race, the Republican Governors Association instead shot a blank.

With eight days of voting left, the Republican Governors Association went back on Colorado’s airwaves with a hard-hitting ad featuring the father of a girl who was murdered in 1993 by Nathan Dunlap, the death row inmate who Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper granted a reprieve to last May.

Unfortunately, a glaring factual error in the ad may lead Colorado television stations to pull the spot from the airwaves.

The Denver Post's Lynn Bartels reports via Gov. John Hickenlooper's campaign that 9NEWS is refusing to air the ad in question, and further explains the enormous factual error behind their decision:

The last frame of the ad states: “Now John Hickenlooper is threatening a ‘full clemency’ for Nathan Dunlap that could set him free.” The ad cites an Aug. 25 story in The Denver Post, but the article never mentions the governor setting Dunlap free. And the governor’s attorneys said that’s not possible.

“The statement in the ad is flagrantly false, misleading and factually inaccurate,” Hickenlooper’s attorneys said in their cease-and-desist letters…

“The temporary reprieve of the governor’s executive order leaves only two possible outcomes with respect to Mr. Dunlap’s sentence, neither of which includes setting him free: (1) full clemency with life in prison and no possiblity for parole or (2) execution,” the attorneys wrote.

Hickenlooper's granting of an indefinite reprieve to "Chuck E. Cheese Killer" Nathan Dunlap was an act that pleased his Democratic base, and it's important to keep this in mind when talking about the politics of that decision. But it has also generated arguably the harshest attacks on Hickenlooper from his political opponents, foremost now from opponent Bob Beauprez. The expenditure of political capital in that decision is part of why Hickenlooper's once-stellar approval ratings have been brought to earth in the last couple of years. These are political realities.

With that said, this ad is plainly, ridiculously false, and we agree it should not air in its present form. Bartels reports that the Republican Governors Association responded to the cease and desist letter with (we are not making this up) Merriam-Webster dictionary's definition of "clemency," as if that's in any way relevant or binding. Given the nature of his crimes, there is no plausible scenario we can imagine in which Nathan Dunlap will ever see the outside of a prison. At no point before this ad has anyone seriously suggested that Hickenlooper might set Dunlap free, this has always to our knowledge been a debate about execution versus life imprisonment. Reasonable people can disagree about the efficacy and morality of the death penalty, but that's not what's happening here. Because this discussion is not based on the facts.

Like the Beauprez campaign's willful abuse of Tom Clements' death, or Cory Gardner falsely invoking Ebola and ISIS against Mark Udall, the scare tactics we're seeing as the 2014 campaign comes to a close are marked with something else: pervasive dishonesty. It's tough to say objectively if it's worse this election than in prior years, but it feels that way today.

Reporter CYA Can’t Excuse Bob Beauprez’s Travesty

beauprezdemsfear

Republican gubernatorial candidate Bob Beauprez's highly controversial appropriation of the murder last year of the executive director of the Colorado Department of Corrections, Tom Clements, for use in his campaign has changed the outlook of this race with only days to go before the election. Beauprez's shrill and personal attacks on Gov. John Hickenlooper over Clements' death principally revolve around a 2011 law, Senate Bill 11-176, which Hickenlooper signed into law after it passed the Democratic-controlled Senate and Republican-held Colorado House.

Beauprez's use of SB11-176 to blame Hickenlooper for Clements' death has its origins in a front-page Denver Post story published in March of 2013, not long after the murder. What Beauprez doesn't mention is that this story was proven wrong the next day by competing outlet 9NEWS, forcing the Post to publish a particularly embarrassing correction:

This article has been corrected in this online archive. Originally, due to incorrect information from a source, the role a 2011 law played in Evan Ebel's early release from prison was overstated. [Pols emphasis] The law was only one factor.

Just days after Clements' murder, an unnamed Republican source had fed the story to the Denver Post that this 2011 law had resulted in the killer's early release from prison–with the obvious intention of extracting political value from the tragedy of Clements' death. As we've noted in the past, one cruel irony in Clements' shooting at the hands of a recently released solitary confinement inmate was the work Clements had been doing to reform the solitary confinement system in Colorado.

Like we said Friday, the politicization of Clements' death, or at least the attempt to do so, has been occurring almost since the day he was killed. Clements' murder came at the height of the debate on unrelated gun safety legislation in the General Assembly, and Republicans were keen to exploit anything they could find to portray Hickenlooper as "soft on crime."

But again: the story is false. The truth is, Clements' murderer was released four years early because of a clerical error by a sentencing court in 2008. This was the key detail the Post didn't have when they rushed to print with their story blaming SB11-176 for Ebel's release. Today, the Denver Post indirectly revisits that story reporting on the present controversy, and again misleads their readers:

Ebel killed Clements and Leon in March 2013 after he was released four years too early because of a courthouse clerical error after his conviction for assaulting a correctional officer in 2008. The error — which made Ebel's sentence for assaulting a prison guard concurrent instead of consecutive — occurred before Hickenlooper took office.

Ebel was released Jan. 30, 2013, instead of years later.

But Ebel also qualified for early-release sentence reductions while he was being held in administrative segregation based partly on a law signed in 2011 by Hickenlooper.

Ebel was released four months earlier than he would have based on those rewards, meaning that when he killed Leon and Clements, he would have still been in prison.

Now, whether the Post's Kirk Mitchell is trying to defend his own faulty reporting or his Republican source for what turned out to be bad information, it's just wrong to suggest that SB11-176 made any intentional difference in the release of Clements' murderer. The 2008 error of not sentencing Clements' eventual killer correctly is what resulted in both his release four years too soon, and the factoring of any sentence reduction based on the 2011 law. 9NEWS explains this clearly in their own story from Friday:

"Was director Clements' death tragic? Yes," wrote Beauprez campaign spokesman Allen Fuller. "Should that take the conversation of the governor's public safety policies off the table?"

Fuller pointed to a 2011 law signed by Governor Hickenlooper which allowed offenders like Ebel to earn time off for good behavior during solitary confinement . While this was a factor in the timing of Ebel's release from prison, it was a paperwork error from the courts that allowed Ebel to be released years before he was supposed to.

His earned time off wouldn't have been considered if his sentence was issued properly. [Pols emphasis]

The details of this story are complicated, and we're reticent to get too far into the weeds as political bloggers. But we feel it's important to show in this case exactly why Beauprez's allegations against Hickenlooper are wrong, and how bad reporting with suspected partisan political influence has already done the voting public a disservice.

Once you understand just how factually baseless Beauprez's attack on Hickenlooper is, the whole idea of blaming the governor for the murder of his friend and partner in reforming the corrections system in Colorado becomes something more than just politically inappropriate. This is in fact a travesty–and the reason it must not be rewarded has more to do with common decency than partisanship.

Gun group’s attack ad appears to violate campaign-finance rules

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

A "Rocky Mountain Gun Owners" attack advertisement, mailed to constituents of State Sen. Andy Kerr, appears to violate a couple of campaign finance rules.

The return address on the ad reads, RMGO SuperPAC, but the disclaimer lists the sponsoring organization as "Rocky Mountain Gun Owners SuperPAC."

Neither entity has reported a campaign expenditure attacking Kerr, according to campaign finance reports, so there's almost certain violation of the 48-hour reporting rule currently in effect.

Another problem, "Rocky Mountain Gun Owners SuperPAC," does not exist on Secretary of State's website, and sponsoring organizations must file reports. Obviously, this could be a typo-like error, but it's still a likely violation.

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Money trail indicates RMGO recognizes the toxicity of its own brand

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

RMGOPistol

With all the negative attention on Rocky Mountain Gun Owners of late, you'd think the outfit might want to hide its name when it attempts to influence voters. On the other hand, RMGO isn't known to care about what normal people think.

It appears, though, RMGO has actually gotten the message that its RMGO name scares people. Instead of simply using its independent expenditure committee "RMGO SUPERPAC" to oppose at least one state senate candidate, RMGO is sending money to do so to an entity called "Colorado Liberty PAC."

Exactly $55,000 of the $60,000 donated to Colorado Liberty PAC comes from RMGO, according to campaign finance records. (The other $5,000 came from the "Colorado Tea Party.")

And the designated filing agent for Colorado Liberty PAC is Joseph Neville, who runs RMGO in Colorado and serves as its notorious lobbyist here. So RMGO apparently controls Colorado Liberty PAC. Neville did not return an email seeking comment.

In turn, Colorado Liberty PAC is sending mailers attacking SD 22 candidate Andy Kerr, who's Jeffco district is populated by people whom, RMGO has apparently concluded, don't like the RMGO brand.

See a Colorado Liberty PAC mailer attacking Andy Kerr 10-2014.

And another one attacking Kerr.

Stand By Your Man: Tom Ready’s Domestic Violence Known to GOP since 1991

(Yeesh – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Most of Colorado now knows about Tom Ready, the Pueblo County Commissioner candidate who promoted the idea that the Sandy Hook school massacre was just a "hoax" perpetuated by people who want more gun laws. The Pueblo County Republican Party has been deafeningly silent about Tom Ready's extreme views, refusing to condemn them, and blaming Ready's opponent, Sal Pace, for bringing it up. Ready half-heartedly "apologized" in the Denver Post, but made it clear that he considered himself to be the real victim.

But it isn't the first time that the Pueblo GOP has chosen to "Stand By Their Man" in the face of reports of horrific behavior. Twice, in 1991, and in 2009, a woman asked the courts for a protective order against Tom Ready. 

Yet nothing was done – Ready was the Pueblo Republican Party Chairman for ten years, and was sent to represent the party nationally in 2009. Now, he is the party's candidate for County Commissioner. 

The Republican Party of Pueblo has always stood by Doctor Thomas Ready, even when his wife publicly accused him of five years of battering, culminating in a violent incident on March 15, 1991.

On that day, the Pueblo Chieftain wrote, Mrs. Ready came home to find a moving truck and crew at their shared home, and Dr. Ready supervising the moving out of the couple's shared property.

When she arrived, according to her statement, the couple argued. She claims Ready knocked her down in the driveway and broke her sunglasses. Mrs. Ready contends that, when she entered the home and tried to call police, he shoved her away from the phone, knocking her down again.

Mrs. Ready also alleges that Ready kicked her several times after one of his bows was broken when he shoved her into an archery display at the home. When she broke free, she said, she ran and asked the moving men why they hadn't called the police.

She said the men laughed and said, "You married him, not us."

Mrs. Ready said that, when Ready came out of the house, he said, "I never touched her, guys. You saw her kick me."

So,  after reading that,  once your blood stops boiling, understand that the fine folks of the Pueblo Republican Party read the same article. And Pueblo's a small large town. Most people know what's going on with everyone else. Half the people are related to each other – the other half went to the same high schools.

And after reading in Pueblo's conservative daily paper, the Pueblo Chieftain, about Ready's beating  his wife for five years, culminating in an assault which left her bruised and bloody,  the Pueblo GOP re-elected him chairman, as they did for the next nine years. In fact, as a special honor, they sent him to the National Republican Convention in 2008.

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Jill Repella – Scaring Women to the R Side

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

 Bob Beauprez and Jill Repella,photo from Beauprez CampaignRecently, in Pueblo, Beauprez attempted to sidetrack discussion about reproductive choice with a strange diatribe about how women are really scared about Hickenlooper's release of violent parolees, and this is the security issue for which women should vote Republican.

Lieutenant Governor candidate Jill Repella posted a statement on the Beauprez website :  HIgh Risk Parolee Scandal. She touts her female credentials: "As a single mother, I find that [release of parolees] appalling." Repella, a woman promoting this as a woman's issue,  attempts to woo women to the Republican side as "security voters".

Beauprez got booed by the audience, and lambasted by Mike Littwin, for bringing  the murder of prisons chief Tom Clements by parolee Evan Ebel into the debate to make his point about women's safety. Hickenlooper responded factually, that prisoners are no longer released directly from solitary confinement onto the streets.

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Meanwhile, in Pueblo: Bob Beauprez is Kind of a Dick

UPDATE: Colorado Democrats are circulating this video of the exchange:

FOX 31's Eli Stokols reports:

Hickenlooper’s ire rose throughout his response as he came around to the implied subtext of Beauprez’s comments — the murder last March of Clements, who’d been working to reform the department by limiting the use of solitary confinement, by a paroled inmate, Evan Ebel, who was released just days earlier from solitary confinement.

“We talk a lot about who represents the Washington way and who represents the Colorado way, but to take a question like what we’re discussing, a serious issue about women’s rights to make their own health care decisions and turn that into a discussion about prison reform, which I’m happy to talk about — let’s have that discussion, I’m eager to do that…

“Congressman Beauprez, if you want to talk to me about widows, talk to me — my mother was a widow twice,” Hickenlooper continued. “I know what it’s like to be in a family that’s gone through that.

“I have spent a lot of time with Lisa Clements and her children; they got married in the governor’s mansion. They understand what they were doing. Tom Clements was part of that reform and for you to make his murder part of a political…gambit…I think is reprehensible.”

—–

What’s the difference between these two characters? The horse wouldn’t try to politicize a senseless murder for political gain.

Last night much of the Denver Metro area was focused on the circus that has become the Jefferson County School Board, so you can be forgiven for missing the details on a Gubernatorial debate held in Pueblo. Had you not been distracted by other issues, you might have heard Republican Bob Beauprez putting on a performance that pretty well demonstrated why he isn't likely to be elected Governor.

As Mike Littwin writes for the Colorado Independent, Beauprez was very angry and quite a bit unpleasant on stage, which appeared to be an intentional effort at getting under Gov. John Hickenlooper's skin. Whatever the rationale, this was a bad move for Beauprez — not just strategically, but as a human being:

The debate question was on personhood and women’s reproductive rights. That had caused a bad moment for Beauprez in the last debate when he called IUDs an abortifacient, causing some real outrage among many women.

And so, in the middle of talking about personhood, Beauprez suddenly changed the topic, asking Hickenlooper about “women who are widows who have orphans because of parolees you have let out of state corrections.”

The crowd here for Hickenlooper-Beauprez III responded mostly with loud booing. But Beauprez clearly didn’t get the signal. He went on, talking about the real issue of prisoners moving from solitary confinement to release, but somehow thinking this was the way to get the woman’s vote.

“If women have an issue,” Beauprez said, “I think that issue is trust, trusting that government to somehow be protecting their public safety.”

It got worse. [Pols emphasis]

When the moderator said it was time to move on, Beauprez said, “No, not just yet.” And then he went at Hickenlooper on the issue again, demanding that Hickenlooper answer his question. Hickenlooper came back hard, and that was basically the debate. Everything else that happened was lost in that exchange.

Tom Clements

Former Department of Corrections Chief Tom Clements would have celebrated his 60th birthday on Thursday.

Sadly, this is not the first time that Beauprez has tried blaming Hickenlooper for the tragic murder of Tom Clements. Beauprez essentially blamed Hickenlooper for Clements' death while speaking to a crowd of Republican supporters in early May, as documented by Ernest Luning for the Colorado Statesman. Two weeks later, during a Republican gubernatorial debate at Colorado Christian University in Lakewood, Beauprez did it again. Here's what we wrote during a "Live Blog" of a debate held on May 20th at Colorado Christian University: 

7:36

Beauprez blames Hickenlooper for releasing Evan Ebel, the man who killed Department of Corrections Chief Tom Clements. That's a pretty awful thing to say. Lots of murmuring in the crowd.

There are moments in life that transcend partisan politics, and the murder of Clements was certainly one of those moments. It is absolutely despicable for Beauprez to even insinuate that John Hickenlooper is somehow responsible for the murder of Tom Clements. But to make that suggestion repeatedly?

Whatever happens in November, this is an absolutely shameful act in Colorado political history.

We'd ask this of Bob Beauprez: Would you vote for the man you see in the mirror?

Reminder, Aurora: Mike Coffman Loves Guns

The National Rifle Association's Political Victory Fund sent a round of mailers last week to households across the state, touting that group's endorsement of the three top Republican candidates in Colorado this year. Gubernatorial candidate Bob Beauprez and Senate candidate Cory Gardner both get a nod:

gardnernra beaupreznra

The content of this mailer seems to be aimed at the (there's no nice way to put this) less rational segment of the gun owning public. That's the only demographic we are aware of where such preposterous notions as the fictional "United Nations Gun Ban Treaty" are taken seriously. Also for good measure, NRA members are reassured that these Republican candidates will oppose "any bans on guns and ammunition," and "requiring government approval for gun sales between lifelong friends and family members"–wonderfully deceptive descriptions of Colorado's new magazine limit and universal background check laws respectively. All arguments we've heard before, with varying degrees of wild inaccuracy, in the long debate over gun safety in Colorado the past two years.

Where the NRA's efforts on behalf of local Republicans gets dicey is this mailer in support of Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Aurora).

coffmannra

Rep. Mike Coffman, as we all know in Colorado and NRA staff should be aware, represents most of Aurora–including the Century Theater that was the site of the 2012 mass shooting now eponymous with the city's name. In addition to that tragedy, the city has seen a great deal of gun violence over the years. In 2005, a witness to a murder named Javad Marshall-Fields was himself gunned down in Aurora to prevent his testifying. That killing resulted in convictions of two of the three men on death row in Colorado today, as well as catapulting Javad's mother Rhonda Fields into public office on a mission to reduce gun violence.

Bottom line? The NRA is free to shovel their "United Nations Gun Ban" nonsense all they like. But it might not have the desired effect in Aurora.

Pueblo Chieftain Smears “Bo” Ortiz for Political Revenge

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Poor Bo. He just can't catch a break from the Pueblo Chieftain.  To inform the public,  Gilbert "Bo" Ortiz voluntarily advised the Pueblo Chieftain about  faulty driver's licenses distributed by  a Colorado Revenue Department vendor, MorphoTrust. The state IDs and licenses were supposed to have a black band across the top, identifying those ineligible to vote, but 524 of these IDs were sent out without the flag. 

The Chieftain chose  to run the ID story on page one, next to a photo of Ortiz, with the banner headline, "Faulty ID Cards Issued", on September 16, 2014. . The teaser subheading on the online edition read, "No concern for voter fraud." Who issued the faulty IDs? Who is unconcerned about voter fraud?  Judging by his photo under the headline, a reasonable reader would infer: Gilbert "Bo" Ortiz.

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