D is for Defense – 2014 CO Senate Preview

(Because it’s never too soon or something – promoted by Colorado Pols)



I know, I know, we just finished the election and no one wants to talk about voting anymore. But for the Democrats who just regained full control of the legislature, they are looking ahead to the next election, not because they want to, but because they have to. The fact that Dems start early is a big part of how we win. And in 2014, the big battlefield in Colorado is the State Senate.

Based on the results of November 6th, Democrats should be confident that they can hold the State House and retain the majority in 2014. But only half the Senate seats are put up for election each year. In 2014, the 17 seats that are up slightly favor GOP challengers, giving them the opportunity to gain a majority and split control of the legislature once again.

Currently, the Democrats hold 20 of the 35 seats in the Senate, so the GOP will need to flip 3 seats to win a majority. A tough, but doable task. Fortunately, the Dems managed to win almost all of the winnable seats in 2012, leaving them in a great position to defend the Senate in 2014.

(Jefferson County residents should prepare themselves for another long election season.)

Specifics after the jump…

Here’s the rundown:



Up for election this year are the following Senate Districts:

SD 1: Spans 11 counties across rural, Northeastern Colorado

SD 2: Spans 5 counties in rural Central Colorado

SD 3: Covers Pueblo West, the Western half of Pueblo, and the North West area of Pueblo County

SD 5: Spans 7 rural counties on the Western Slope

SD 6: Spans 8 Counties in Southwestern Colorado, including Durango

SD 7: Covers all of Mesa County, including Grand Junction

SD 9: Covers a portion of El Paso County, including Monument and the Air Force Academy

SD 11: Covers Colorado Springs and Manitou Springs

SD 13: Covers a potion of Weld County including Greely and Fort Lupton

SD 15: Covers most of Larimer County, excluding most of Fort Collins (which is in SD14)

SD 16: Covers most of rural Jefferson County, all of Gilpin County and parts of Rural Boulder County. Includes the towns of Golden and Morrison

SD 20: Central Jefferson County including parts of Wheat Ridge, Arvada, and Lakewood

SD 22: Mostly Lakewood, with some other bits of Jefferson County included

SD 24: Northwestern Adams County, including Northglenn and East Lake

SD 30: Highlands Ranch and some other parts of Douglas County

SD 32: South Denver

SD 34: Downtown Denver and Northwest Denver

Of those 17 seats up for election, 9 are currently held by Democrats and 8 are held by Republicans.

The Republican Seats:



Senate Districts 1, 2, 6, 7, 9, 13, 15 and 30 are held by Republicans. Based on analysis of the districts including voter registration numbers and previous elections, none of these seats are likely to be won by a Democrat in 2014.

Senate District 13 is the only one that’s really even possible. In 2008, Mark Udall managed to carry the district in his US Senate Race, but only just barely. His re-election campaign in 2014 may help a Democratic challenger here. In 2010, by contrast, Ken Buck received almost twice as many votes as Michael Bennett, which may scare any serious challenger away. Incumbent Scott Renfroe is the Chairman of the Republican Caucus in the Senate and his successor will have all the support they need to retain the seat.

The Democratic Seats:



Senate Districts 3, 5, 11, 16, 20, 22, 24, 32, and 34 are held by Democrats. Based on analysis of the districts including voter registration numbers and previous elections, several of these seats can be considered “swing seats”.

Districts 3, 32, and 34 are strong Dem seats. No Republican has a chance here.

District 11 is not as strong for the Dems as the three above, but even in 2010, the Dems won more votes here than the GOP. They should easily hold this seat.

District 24 is about as strong for Dems as district 13 is for the GOP. The Democrats have about 1500 more members in the district than the Republicans, but the GOP has won here in the past, including the 2010 Regent at-large race, though most attribute that to the fact that 2010 was the “wave year” for Republicans.

District 22 was won this year by Democrat Andy Kerr, but will be up again in 2014. Kerr won the district handily in 2012 and should be able to hold it in 2014. Nonetheless, the district is technically flipable. The GOP enjoys a voter registration advantage here, but the unaffiliated voters tend to side with the Dems, making the district lean left.

Dems hold a slight advantage in Districts 5 and 20, but only slight. Republicans have a voter registration advantage in both districts and have won races there in the past few years. District 20 has the benefit of an incumbent (Cheri Jahn) running for re-election, but in district 5, incumbent Gail Schwartz is term limited, so the seat will be wide open. Watch for Republicans to spend a ton of money in these two districts.

District 16 is the single best opportunity for the GOP to find a win in 2014. Together with SD20, Jefferson County will be a focal point for election activity in 2014 (again). Expect at least one of the parties to hold their state convention here. Incumbent Jeanne Nicholson will be targeted by the GOP and their “independent expenditure” groups the same way that Sen. Hudak was in 2012. The GOP has about 4000 more registered voters than the Dems, so effective outreach to the unaffiliated population will be crucial to the Dems’ chances. All said, though, Dems should be able to hold this seat, despite the GOP advantage here.  

Melton Defeats Todd in HD41

( – promoted by Colorado Pols)



Last Tuesday, as the results came in for the Primary election, The Denver Paper and others called HD 41 too close to call, being separated by only 42 votes with Melton in the lead.

But over the next few days, as the last few dozen ballots were counted, Melton’s lead grew and, as of Monday, his lead stood at 54 votes with only 28 outstanding ballots left to be sorted out.

So it is now time to move past the primary and onto the general election. There are several very important and contested legislative races in Arapahoe County, not to mention the CD6 race, that needs the full attention and dedication of our talents and resources.  

2012 General Election Preview: Take Back the House Edition

(Interesting diary, and it’s obvious you put quite a bit of time into it.  Thanks for doing that. – promoted by ellbee)



With the Primary Election season concluded, a lot of people have been asking which districts are the best opportunities and the greatest risks for Democrats in the 2012 election.

This post will cover the State House side of that landscape. I will follow up with a similar analysis of the Senate races another day.

The fact is that, even though 28 members of the State House are not running for re-election (or were defeated in Primaries), the vast majority of seats will stay in the hands of the current party that holds it. It’s always possible for something unusual to happen and sometimes Dems get elected in heavy GOP districts and vice versa, but that kind of thing is pretty tough to predict.

There are a few districts, though, that are in play this year and could change party without some sort of miracle. These 10 districts will be the focus of most of the money and attention for the rest of the year.

What’s on the Line?

Democrats currently need to flip one seat in order to gain the majority. However, they gave away two districts in reapportionment that are almost certain to flip to the GOP. So this means that Dems need to win at least three contested seats to take control of the House, assuming they don’t lose any others. And with two current Dem seats that are competitive and at risk, Dems should plan to win at least 5, if not all 8 of their pick-up opportunities in order to ensure that they get the Speaker’s gavel next year.

The full details after the jump…

Method

I used voter registration numbers, as well as actual performance numbers from 2008 and 2010 to create a score for each district that offers an objective measure of each districts likely performance in a general election. (Similar to and based on the O’Hara Progressive Voter Performance Index)

A score of 0 means the district is completely balanced and no party has an advantage. Districts with scores of 0 through 20 lean Dem, while 0 through -20 will lean GOP.

Anything over 20 in either direction (+ / – ) is highly likely to go with the same party consistently over and over.

+75 = Dem forever

+50 = Strong Dem

+20 = Lean Dem

0 = Perfectly Balanced

-20 = Lean GOP

-50 = Strong GOP

-75 = GOP Forever

This isn’t a perfect method and doesn’t account for many elements that make or break a campaign. This is also based on numbers from 2008 and 2010, so some of it will have changed by now. But, acknowledging those flaws, I hope this provides a glimpse into where the action (and attention) will be this Fall.

Summary

Sacrificed Seats



These districts numbers were drastically altered or relocated to make room for Dem gains elsewhere. These are practically unwinnable for Dems.

HD56 Arapahoe and Adams County (Formerly Summit County) – Incumbent (HD30) Kevin Priola vs Dem Dave Rose (Score: -40)

HD64 Eastern Plains – GOP Tim Dore vs No Dem Running (Score: -68)

At-Risk Dem Seats:



HD3 Arapahoe County – Incumbent Dem Daniel Kagan vs GOP Brian Watson (Score: +8)

HD50 Weld County (Greely) – Incumbent Dem Dave Young vs GOP Skip Carlson (Score: +4)

Possible Dem Pick-ups



HD17 El Paso County – Incumbent GOP Mark Barker vs Dem Tony Exum (Score: +7)

HD28 Jefferson County – GOP Amy Attwood vs Dem Brittany Petterson (Score: +21)

HD29 Jefferson County – Incumbent GOP Robert Ramirez vs Dem Tracy Kraft-Tharp (Score: +20)

HD30 Adams County – GOP Mike Sheely vs Dem Jenise May (Score: +24)

HD33 Broomfield County – GOP David Pigott vs Dianne Primavera (Score: +10)

HD40 Arapahoe County – Incumbent GOP Cindy Acree vs Dem John Buckner (Score: +23)

HD47 Pueblo County – GOP Clarice Navarro-Ratziaff vs Dem Chuck Rodosevich (Score: +6)

HD59 SW Colorado – Incumbent GOP J. Paul Brown vs Dem Mike Maclachlan (Score: -2)

Denver County



Denver Districts 1, 2, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 will all stay squarely in the Democrats column. It’s Denver. All have scores +50 or higher and most are over +100.

Arapahoe County (1 at-risk, 1 pick-up opportunity)



District 3 used to be mostly in Denver, but was moved into Arapahoe County during reapportionment. Incumbent Rep. Daniel Kagan is facing a much tougher election than last time. Before redistricting, HD3 was +65, but now it’s only +8. Fortunately, the very popular incumbent should be able to hold the seat.

Districts 36, 41, and 42 will Stay Dem. All are +30 or higher.

District 56 (partly in Adams County), 37 and 38 will remain GOP they are all -30 or higher.

District 40 is a great pickup opportunity for Dems. What used to be a -45 rural GOP district is now a +20 urban district. The newly reformed district is about 36% Dem and 31% GOP. The district voted for Bennet over Buck by 51/42 and voted for the 47/46 in the Regents race in favor of the Dem candidate. John Buckner has a great shot at winning this one and unseating Cindy Acree.

Jefferson County (2 pick-up opportunities)



District 22 and 27 each used to lean GOP, but were contestable, but HD22 is now a solid -40. This district will stay GOP for a while.

HD27 is -18. It’s conceivably winnable, but pretty tough for Dems. Udall won here by a little in 2008, but Buck won it by a lot on 2010.

Districts 23, 24, and 26 are less strong for Dems than they were, but are still all over +20. District 26 is the weakest at +21, but should be fine.

District 28 is another great pickup opportunity for Dems. It was a -48, but is now +21. Incumbent Jim Kerr is not in the race, so GOP Amy Attwood will have a difficult time holding the seat against challenger Brittany Petterson.

District 29 is currently held by the GOP, but never should have been. Robert Ramirez is almost certain to lose this seat to Tracy Kraft-Tharp who is running a great campaign. The district improved from +14 to +21 in the reapportionment.

Boulder County



Districts 10, 11, and 12 will all stay very Dem. They are +145, +30, and +73 respectively.

Adams County (1 sacrifice, 1 pick-up opportunity)



With the exception of HD56 which is half in Arapahoe County and scores -40, Adams County’s districts are all good Dem districts after the reapportionment.

Districts 31, 32, 34, and 35 are all Dem districts that will stay that way, being +25 or higher.

District 30 was held by Kevin Priola, but he was redistricted into HD56 (which he will hold) leaving HD30 as a great pickup opportunity for Dems. The district is +26 after reapportionment.

Broomfield County (1 pick-up opportunity)



Broomfield’s HD33 is a very competitive seat. Dianne Primavera barely lost it in 2010 and is poised to re-take it in 2012, especially with the help of a slightly more friendly district. It was +7 before and is +11 now. The seat is open this time around (incumbent Don Beezley is not in the race), so Primavera has an advantage, having served the area before. Dems should be able to pick this one up this year.

Douglas County



Douglas County is Douglas County. All of them (HDs 39, 43, 44, and 45) are -70 or worse and all will remain Republican for the foreseeable future.

El Paso County (1 pick-up opportunity)



Districts 14, 15, 16, 19, 20,  and 21 are all Republican and will stay that way. The only district anywhere near 0 is HD 21 and it’s still at -25. Unfortunately, there is no Democrat running there. There is an American Constitution Party candidate in HD21, however, named Sean Halstead. Without a Democrat running, Halstead might just make a splash in the open seat.

But the real story in El Paso County will be districts 17 and 18. In both districts, Dems have slight advantage (+7 and +16 respectively). These are districts that are competitive. The GOP currently has HD17 (Rep. Mark Barker) and the Dems have HD18 (Rep. Pete Lee). But what the Dems will have this year that they’ve never had before is American Constitution Party candidates in both races. These right leaning third party candidates could be just the thing Dems need to win. And if they do, don’t forget that it was Tom Tancredo’s semi-successful campaign for Governor that allowed all the ACP candidates to get on the ballot without having to petition. So when the Dems take back the House next year, we should all send a thank you to Tancredo for bringing a third major party into Colorado politics.

Larimer County



Districts 49 and 51 will stay solidly Republican.

Districts 52 and 53 will stay solidly Democratic, although HD52 (currently John Kefalas) will be a tougher race than usual. It is an open seat this year and was reduced from +31 to +18 when the lines were re-drawn. Should still be a relatively easy win, but if GOP candidate Bob Morain works hard enough, he could give Dem candidate Joann Ginal a run for her money.

Weld County (1 at-risk)



Districts 48 and 63 will remain solid GOP seats.

District 50 is a competitive seat. It was previously held by Jim Riesburg, who was replaced by Dave Young, both Dems. Young is running to keep the seat against GOP challenger Skip Carlson. The district has always been competitive and didn’t change much (demographically) in reapportionment. Young should be able to hold the seat, but will need plenty of support.

Pueblo (1 pick-up opportunity)



District 62 didn’t change much, it will remain Dem.

District 46 (Previously held by Sal Pace) was weakened a little in reapportionment, but not enough to make it competitive. Dems will hold here.

The balance of Dem advantage was given to District 47, which has always been competitive, but now leans slightly left. Dem candidate Chuck Rodesivich has a good shot at picking up this open seat.

Eastern Colorado (1 sacrifice)



District 64 is easily the largest, geographically, of all the House Districts. It covers 9 counties and stretches from Trinidad and the Southern Colorado border at 1-25 to three counties on the Eastern border all the way up North of I-70 and Washington County. This district is huge. But more importantly, it is completely different than the district that Dem Wes McKinley has served for the last couple years. Instead of being a balanced, competitive seat with a +0.3 score, it is now a -68 Republican bastion. There isn’t even a Dem running.

District 65 covers 7 counties in the Eastern and Northern part of the state. This district is also heavily Republican and will stay that way.

Western Colorado (1 pick-up opportunity)



District 13 covers Jackson, Grand, Gilpin, and Clear Creek Counties. It also includes half of Boulder County. It is a solid Dem seat at +106.

District 26 (The number used to be in Jefferson County) is now the combination of Routt and Eagle County. It is a little less strong than the old 26 (+20 vs +30), but the Dems should hold it, even in the new neighborhood.

Districts 54 and 55 are both Grand Junction Districts and are both solid GOP districts. They will stay that way.

District 61 is a strong Dem seat (+27) and will be held.

District 59 is a competitive seat which was made more competitive  in reapportionment, bringing it to -2. Representative J. Paul Brown is running for reelection there, but Dem challenger Mike Maclachlan has a good chance if he works hard enough.

Districts 57, 58, and 60 cover the rest of Western Colorado and are all -50 or worse.  

2012 Primary Preview: Part 2 (State House Races)

( – promoted by Colorado Pols)



With just a few days left in Colorado’s 2012 Primary season, Let’s take a look at the battles that are being fought and where the players currently stand.

Just like in Part 1, covering the CU Regent and Senate Races, there are a few things to acknowledge up front first:

1) Ballots have been out and available for casting for a while now. Many of those likely to vote already have, and there may be little (if anything) besides GOTV that candidates can do to legitimately benefit or harm their campaigns.

2. I am not going to touch the federal races. There are already a million people doing analysis on these races and at least 95% of them know more about the dynamics of a federal race than I do.

3. I am going to spend more time on the races that are both interesting and important. For instance, it doesn’t really matter which Republican wins in HD4 because they have a 0% chance of beating Dan Pabon. And while there is technically a Republican primary in HD21, one of the candidates has only raised $500, while the other has brought in over $8000. So there really isn’t much analysis necessary.

4. I don’t claim to be an expert on these races or any kind of “insider”. I’m just giving one observer’s perspectives. Please feel free to contribute your own.

That said, enjoy my little list. This batch covers the State House races. Follow the link above to get to the CU Regent and State Senate races.

House District 1

DEM Jeanne Labuda vs DEM Corrie Houck

to take on the winner of

GOP John Kidd vs GOP James Wildt

The only double primary in the state right this year. But only the Dem’s race counts. In this area of SW Denver, Democrats are 42% of the active voters, so there is no realistic chance of the GOP nominee winning the big one.

Jeanne Labuda is out-spending her opponent by a 2-1 margin and has the incumbent advantage. She clearly knows that the Primary is the only races that matters and she’s not holding back. She’s got a serious paid canvass operation and by election day, every voter will have her her name and seen her picture many, many times. Not to mention the fact that most of them have voted for her several times before and will not have any serious reason to change their mind now.

Bottom Line: That said, Houck is putting up an admirable fight taking on three-term incumbent Labuda, but ultimately, Labuda is going to be elected to another term in the House.

House District 4

GOP Stuart Siffring vs GOP David Dobson

to take on DEM Dan Pabon

The two GOP candidates, combined, have spent only about $500. Rep. Pabon, meanwhile, has spent nearly $14,000 and hasn’t even really started campaigning, yet.

Bottom Line: This race falls squarely in the “lost cause” category for the GOP. Pabon will be handily re-elected.

House District 5

GOP Ronnie Nelson vs GOP Matthew Zielinski (write-in candidate)

to take on DEM Chrisanta Duran

Bottom Line: See HD4. Nelson will win the primary as the only name on the ballot, but Duran will be re-elected in November.

House District 12

DEM Mike Foote vs DEM Angie Layton

to take on GOP Russ Lyman

This race is interesting. Foote has actually out-raised Layton by nearly a 4-1 margin. ($40k vs $11). But Layton has loaned herself $25k to make up for the major split.

Each candidate has a long list of major supporters, and this is going to be a really tough fight. Mike Foote has the on-paper experience as the Deputy District Attorney, while Layton has (besides plenty of money to self-fund with) a long background of non-profit law and activism and was a volunteer lobbyist at the capitol for the last 4 years.

Bottom Line: This one is tough to call. Layton’s style of in-your-face activism excites democratic voters, especially in the boulder region, who may choose to overlook the more established candidate in favor of some fire. But Foote is no slouch. He is raising serious money and spending it with discipline. If I had to put money on either, it would be him.

House District 19

GOP Marsha Looper vs GOP Amy Stephens

To take on ACN Timothy Biolchini (No Democrat running)

What can I say about this race that everybody doesn’t know already. It is a bitter fight between two powerful House Republican incumbents. Both of them are extraordinarily well funded ($76k for Looper and $79k for Stephens) and are doing their best to out-conservative each other.

Looper won top line at assembly and, even though Stephens is working hard to stress her work to oppress gay people by preventing a vote on civil unions, the stigma of Amy-Care remains.

Bottom Line: It will be close and it will be ugly, but I’m calling this one for Looper.

House District 21

GOP Lois Landgraf vs GOP Albert Sweet

to take on ACN Shawn Halstead (No Democrat Running)

Bob Gardner left a gaping hole in this district that the candidates are trying desperate to fill and Landgraf looks more than poised to take it. Her fundraising advantage is huge, ($6,700 vs $475) plus she is pumping her own money in as well. This is a winner takes all primary with only token opposition from the ACN candidate, who hasn’t raised a penny.

Bottom Line: It would take a pretty serious miracle for Sweet to pull off a win here. Landgraf will serve in the House next year.

House District 22

GOP Justin Everett vs GOP Loren Bauman

to take on Dem Mary Parker

Everett won big at the district assembly with 58% and barring something extraordinary, he will win the primary. It’s really hard to lose when you’ve raised ten times as much as your opponent. Plus he has name recognition in the district, having run previously for the State Senate (he lost in a Primary to Mike Kopp).

Bottom Line: Everett will advance to a rougher-than-usual general election fight against Mary Parker.

House District 39

GOP Polly Lawrence vs GOP Lu Ann Busse

to take on DEM Carla Turner

This is the quintessential Establishment Republican vs Tea Party race. While Lawrence (The owner of an enormous construction company) has been scooping up endorsements from big GOP names in Colorado, Busse is her Glen Beck style rabble-rousing, social conservatism, and accusations of media bias into play.

Lawrence is winning in fundraising, but not by a lot ($56k vs $50k). Busse is running almost her entire campaign by attacking Lawrence and working hard not to spend too much time talking about her own credentials (Although having worked for the 9-12 “the government going to take your guns and kill your babies” Project would probably play well with primary voters.)

Bottom Line: While this one is tough to call, the backing of McNulty, Penry, Harvey, MUrray, and others should carry Lawrence across the finish line on election day. But as we’ve learned before, the rabid tea-party candidates should never be underestimated. Anything could happen here.

House District 41

DEM Jovan Melton vs DEM Terry Todd

To take on Independent JM Fay (No Republican Running)


Update: JM Fay did not meet the criteria to get on the ballot. So the Democratic nominee will be the only name on the ballot.

I’m not going to write a lot about this race simply because of how entrenched in it I am. I volunteer for Jovan Melton and was in the race myself up until the March Assembly.

Candidate Todd is running to replace his term-limited wife in the State House, while she runs for the vacant Senate District 28 seat. Melton entered the race about six month’s after Todd, but overtook him in both support and fundraising quickly.

To date, Melton has raised $24k to Todd’s $16k. Melton has raised three times as much ($9k vs $3k) from within the city of Aurora and took top line at the district assembly by 61-39.

Bottom Line: Every objective indication says that Melton will win. But this race continues to make the must-watch list for a reason, it could easily go either way.

House District 48

GOP Jeffrey Hare vs GOP Stephen Humphrey

to take on… no one. No one else is running.

This is the House seat formerly occupied by Glen Vaad, who is now running for the State Senate. Hare has not only been ahead of his opponent in fundraising (Despite rejecting special interest PAC and SDC money), but his PR choices seem to be more on par with winning candidates.

However, Humphrey is picking up big endorsements like Ken Buck and Scott Renfroe, not to mention Rocky Mountain Gun Owners and others.

Former Senator Ken Gordan and his group, CleanSlateNow.org, is putting resources into this race to help elect Hare. He and his organization have made it their goal to support candidates who turn down special interest money, regardless of party, and residents all over this district have received repeated phone calls from volunteers of CleanSlateNow, urging them to vote for Hare, which may just be the extra advantage that he needs to win this election.

Bottom Line: These two split the assembly vote by 51-49 and the Primary is likely to be just as tight.

House District 60

GOP Jim Wilson vs GOP Steve Collins

to take on DEM Pier Cohen

Steve Collins is a self-described libertarian and vintage motorcycle collector with little to no government experience. He has struggle in this race to give voters a reason to vote for him or donate (he’s raised just over $1000).

Meanwhile, Jim Wilson (James on the Ballot) boasts 40 years as a public school teacher and superintendent as well as dozens of titles and memberships that make him look to be the only experienced candidate in the race.

Wilson also offered up this quote for the Book Civica Guide to the 2012 Colorado Statehouse Elections, “Because of my having survived 40 years in public education as a Republican, I have a track record at the local, state, and national level of working with all kinds of people and getting things done without sacrificing my conservative beliefs.” Wilson’s biggest vulnerability is that, despite having a significant fundraising advantage, he is spending almost none of it. However, this is more likely a sign of confidence about his chances.

Bottom Line: Wilson has the local name recognition, support, and credentials to win this race without breaking a sweat.

House District 61

GOP Debra Irvine vs GOP David Justice

to take on DEM Millie Hamner and IND Kathleen Curry

Debra Irvine has one of the most diverse resumes of any candidate in Colorado. She is currently an professional artist, but has also worked as a German Instructor, Ski Instructor, Hotel Inventory Manager, Suicide Hotline Counselor, DOD Sub-Contractor, and Air Force Academy Clerk. She went to High School in Germany, College in Maryland and holds two graduate degrees from the University of Colorado and the University of Denver. She has run for the State House before and served a term as the chair of the Summit County Republicans.

David Justice, on the other hand, offers little to potential supporters. He has refused to submit information to the various groups that publish voter guides and his website is actually a blog on which he spends more time complaining about how much he hates being a candidate than he does actually justifying his candidacy.

Whoever wins this primary (Irvine) will find themselves in a crowded General Election. Former Democrat Kathleen Curry is running once again as an independent. She help the seat previously, but was denied a spot on the ballot when she left the Democratic party too late in 2010 and the courts upheld the decision to keep her name off of the ballot. Nonetheless, she continued to campaign as a write-in candidate and almost won the seat. So the DEM and GOP candidates certainly have something to worry about.

Bottom Line: Debra Irvine will win the primary easily, but has a tough road ahead of her to make it through the General Election.

House District 63

GOP Lori Saine vs GOP Mike Mazzocco (Write-in candidate)

to take on DEM Tim Ericson

Running as a write-in candidate takes a lot of resources and Mike Mazzocco just doesn’t have it. He has an impressive website (even though he makes his attacks against his opponent more prominent than promoting himself) and he would probably have had a good chance at winning if he had met the deadlines and got himself on the ballot.

Lori Saine fell into some controversy shortly after winning an exclusive spot on the ballot at the district assembly with 62% of the vote, when it came to light that she had just been through both bankruptcy and foreclosure. But as the sole name on the ballot, she will likely still fly through the primary without issue.

Bottom Line: Saine will win the primary and (given the dynamics of the district) will likely win the general election as well.  

2012 Primary Preview – Part 1 (CU Regent and State Senate)

(Interesting forecasts – promoted by Pita)



With just a few days left in Colorado’s 2012 Primary season, Let’s take a look at the battles that are being fought and where the players currently stand.

A few things to acknowledge up front first:

1) Ballots have been out and available for casting for a while now. Many of those likely to vote already have, and there may be little (if anything) besides GOTV that candidates can do to legitimately benefit or harm their campaigns.

2. I am not going to touch the federal races. There are already a million people doing analysis on these races and at least 95% of them know more about the dynamics of a federal race than I do.

3. I am going to spend more time on the races that are both interesting and important. For instance, it doesn’t really matter which Republican wins in HD4 because they have a 0% chance of beating Dan Pabon. And while there is technically a Republican primary in HD21, one of the candidates has only raised $500, while the other has brought in over $8000. So there really isn’t much analysis necessary.

That said, enjoy my little list. And feel free to jump in with your own knowledge and insight on the various races. The first batch covers the CU Regents race and State Senate races. I’ll catch up with the District Attorney and State House races before the weekend.  

CU Regent At-Large

GOP Matt Arnold vs GOP Brian Davidson

to take on DEM Stephen Ludwig

There has been plenty of coverage about the embarrassing display of self-destruction that is the Matt Arnold campaign. And it seems that Republicans are eager to rid themselves of Matt Arnold with enough time for voters to forget about him before November. Davidson has raised $37 to Arnolds $11k. But what’s more telling is the last two reporting periods. Davidson raised over $12k, while Arnold raised only $2k. Compare that to Feb-April, where Davidson raised $6k to Arnold’s $5.5 and you can see how much the tide has changed.

Bottom line: Expect Davidson to take this one in a landslide.

Senate District 8

GOP Rep. Randy Baumgardner vs incumbent GOP Sen. Jean White

to take on Dem. Emily Tracy

The first important thin to know about this race is that neither of the candidates has been elected to the seat before. Jean White was appointed to fill her husband’s seat when he resigned to work for Gov. Hickenlooper. The second is that this Senate district is dominated by Republicans, but motivated by moderates. Jean White was rated one of the most liberal members of the GOP caucus and voted with the Dems in favor of Civil Unions. She is also mopping the floor with Rep. Baumgardner in terms of fundraising. She’s raised $55k to his $21. This is a prime example of one of the few places where being a frothing-at-the-mouth, red-meat conservative doesn’t actually work for a GOP primary.

Correction: This paragraph was corrected to remove an inaccurate description of the geography of the distict.

Bottom Line: Expect White to win her first election and return to the Senate for a full term.

Senate District 10

GOP Rep. Larry Liston vs GOP Owen Hill

to take on… nobody. No democrat is running and the ACP candidate has yet to raise any money.

I really can’t describe this race any better than Ernest Luning of the Colorado Statesman did last month:

“Liston, a veteran lawmaker termed out of his House seat, faces an aggressive challenge by nonprofit executive Owen Hill in a bid to move up to the more rarified chamber. No newcomer to politics himself, Hill came within a few hundred votes of unseating Democratic Senate Majority Leader John Morse in a neighboring district in the last election and clobbered Liston at the GOP assembly, taking 64 percent of delegate votes to win top-line on the ballot. Are primary voters content with Liston’s business-friendly brand of Republicanism, or are they itching for the more confrontational style Hill would bring to the Capitol? As much as any race in the state, this contest could help define what direction the Colorado GOP takes in coming years.”

Liston has pulled ahead by quite a bit in fundraising since the above was written and seems to have the momentum to win it.

Bottom Line: Liston seems to everything going for him, but this is one that is tough to call. It could easily go either way.

Senate District 21

GOP Francine Bigelow vs GOP Matthew Plichta

to take on Dem. Jessie Ulibarri

This is one of those races that doesn’t really matter. Winning now simply means losing in the general election to Ulibarri, who has raised more in the last two weeks than the two GOP candidates have raised in the entire campaign… combined.

Bottom Line: Jessie Ulibarri has this one in the bag. The GOP candidates are just fighting for the chance to carry the conservative flag into the fire.

Senate District 23

GOP Rep. Glen Vaad vs. GOP Vicky Marble

to take on Dem. Lee Kemp

If you only looked at the fundraising, you might be tempted to think this race is neck-and-neck. But if you really want an indicator of who is going to win this race, simply google it. Go on, go type in “Colorado Senate District 28″ right now. You will find pages upon pages of news, websites, and mentions of Vicki Marble and next to nothing about State Rep. Glen Vaad. And if you actually go to their websites (once you manage to find Vaad’s), you will find a mountain of big name endorsements for Marble, while Vaad a train-wreck of a website that offers little for the curious voter.

http://www.votevaad.com/

http://www.vickimarble.com/

Bottom Line: Marble is running this race to win it, while Vaad doesn’t seem to know what’s about to hit him. I’m calling this one for the scrappy outside challenger.

Senate District 28

GOP John Lyons vs GOP Art Carlson

to take on Dem Nancy Todd

This race is interesting. It’s relatively low budget (Each of the candidates have raised less than $3000). But they are fighting it hard. Art Carlson has put his resources into yard signs, plastering every corner of the district. Meanwhile, Lyons is putting his money on paper, dropping lit at doors and targeted mailboxes. But with so little for either to spend, awareness among voters is likely low. In the end though, whoever wins will be looking forward to taking on State Rep. Nancy Todd and her warchest of $23,000, and that’s after she officially kicked off her campaign just two weeks ago.

Bottom Line: As much fuss as Rep. Nancy Todd has been making over this race and trying to paint it as “competitive”, it simply isn’t. At least not with the candidates that the GOP has managed to offer up. Neither of the GOP challengers is getting any kind of support from the larger party or from anyone else, really, and Todd’s name ID alone gives her a massive advantage. Rep. Todd will be Sen. Todd soon enough. No one who seriously looks at HD28 can expect anything but a decisive win for the Democrats.

Senate District 35

Dem. Crestina Martinez vs. Dem. Armando Valdez

to take on GOP Larry Crowder

The one and only Democratic Party Primary in this post and one of only 5 statewide. The money is weird. Martinez has outraised Valdez by 3-1, but she’s not spending it. She’s spent only $3k on the race while Valdez has spent over $8k. When I asked some people I know in ther area to explain the told me that Valdez is simply not performing at any level that presents a threat to Martinez’s campaign, so she’s saving up her money for the General Election. Hopefully, for her sake, that doesn’t prove to be a mistake. That said, I hope that, if Valdez does lose in this race, that he comes back and runs for something again one day. He is a smart, well-spoken young man with a lot of potential. And the people of Southern Colorado would do well to use him o the fullest of that potential.

Bottom Line: Martinez won by nearly 20 points at the County Assembly and seems poised to win big again next Tuesday. But with so little money being moved, anything could happen.  

Winning with Class, Melton Continues to Perform

Jovan Melton continues to outraise his opponent, Terry Todd, in Colorado State House District 41.

Melton: $23k

Todd: $11k

But it is the source of that money that is most impressive.

Not only has Melton now raised twice as much as his opponent, he has done so without taking any special interest money and a significantly higher percentage of his funds have come from his own community, Aurora CO.

Meanwhile, Todd’s campaign is relying heavily on special interest money (over 50% of his funds are from PACs, Small Donor Committees and Lobbyists) and on contributions from outside of Aurora (over 80% of donations to his campaign list a city other than Aurora as the source).

Ballots were mailed today and will reach homes in the next day or two. They are due back to the elections office by June 26th.

Cool pie graphs after the jump…



Source:http://tracer.sos.colorado.gov

And yes, I am supporting Jovan Melton’s campaign, but I am not being paid or otherwise compensated to do so.

Melton Out-Raises Todd in HD41… By A Lot

According to the official filing on the Secretary of State’s website, State House Candidate Jovan Melton raised a whopping $11,796 this quarter.

Opponent Terry Todd filed his official report on May 4th showing only $2,395 for the same period.

To put it in perspective, the Melton campaign has rasied more in the last thirteen weeks than the Todd campaign has since they entered the race over a year ago.

This primary will be over soon, one way or another, but after losing to Melton at the District Assembly and coming in way behind for the second reporting period in a row (Todd has raised only $2,670 since Jan 1st, compared with Melton’s $14,000+), one has to wonder how much longer Todd will stay in the race and continue to distract from his wife’s State Senate campaign.

Fundraising timeline and graphs after the jump…

{Note: I am supporting Melton’s campaign for the State House as the co-chair of his campaign committee, but am not being paid or otherwise compensated to do so.}

HD-41 Candidate Fundraising by Reporting Period

Note: Melton’s Campaign Committee was registered on Nov. 11, 2011. He has out-raised his opponent, Terry Todd, in every reporting period since then.



Source:http://tracer.sos.colorado.gov

New Challenges for CO Civil Unions

As Eli Stokles reports this morning, House Republican leadership is doing their very best to use procedural methods to kill Senate Bill 2, the Colorado Civil Unions Bill.

After last night’s hearing, Gardner signed committee reports on every bill considered by his committee except the civil unions measure, an indication that House Republicans may be looking to stall the bill’s progress, knowing that only four days remain in the legislative session.

FOX 31 Denver has learned that Gardner is likely to wait until Monday, taking the full 72 hours allowed before signing the committee report; although that would still allow time for a hearing before the House Finance Committee, where a subsequent hearing before the House Appropriations Committee, and two days of votes by the full House.

Republicans on both the Finance and Appropriations Committees have indicated support for the bill – so if the hearings take place in time, the bill is likely to survive and make it to the House floor.

More after the jump…

Anyone who thought the fight was over after last night’s vote was kidding themselves.

A mere four working days from the end of the legislative session, the GOP has plenty of ways to kill the bill without having to actually vote it down. And if (when) they do, it will be easy enough to blame Senate Democrats for delaying the bill as long as they did and waiting til the last weeks of the session to pass a bill with the exact same vote count as they did a year earlier. An argument that is not, altogether, incorrect.

How many ways can they not pass the legislation without actually killing it, well:

(And in case anyone is wondering, I have heard all of these from my CO Republican friends already, so it’s not like I’m giving them ideas, here, that they haven’t already thought up.)

1. They can have each committee chair wait the full 72 hours without signing it, which means it will not make it to the house floor on time.

2. The Majority Leader could choose not to schedule a floor vote, claiming that more important things (jobs, economy, voter suppression, etc) were more important and there simply wasn’t enough time.

3. Speaker McNulty could decide that, in addition to being heard by the House Finance and Appropriations Committees, that the bill also needs to be approved by State Affairs, and maybe Agriculture, too. Why not?

4. They could amend a single word in the bill, forcing a conference committee and further approval by both the Senate and House. In fact, if they do that, it could be that the Dem controlled Senate would be the one to not pass it before the deadline.

And I’m sure there are more which we will see and hear of in the coming days.

So, the moral of the story is: No champagne til Governors name is on the bill. There is still work left to be done and very little time to do it in.

House Judiciary Approves Civil Unions

Rep BJ Nikkel (R – Loveland) provided the necessary final vote to refer SB2 to the Finance Committee moving Senate Bill passed the hurdle where it died last year, and possibly the last major hurdle it had.

After just over an hour of testimony from each side (limited due to the extensive debate on marijuana DUI’s that had preceded it) the committee voted 6-5 to send the legislation, which has already passed the Senate, onto the House Finance Committee where Rep. Kathleen Conti has already expressed a willingness to support the bill and eventually, onto the full House, where passage is similarly assured.

This is a huge win for Sen. Steadman and Rep. Ferrandino who managed to win support of this legislation from the very same committee which killed the bill only a year ago.

So for now, we will wait and see what the rest of the Republican House Caucus does. Will they swing over and support the inevitable passage of the legislation to curry favor from independent voters or continue to placate the slim minority of (almost entirely republican) voters that still wants discrimination?

And finally, will Majority Leader Amy Stevens, faced with a difficult Republican Primary, take the cowards way to victory by not scheduling the bill for a vote in the House? (She is not required to do so) Will the remaining committees pass the legislation in the four remaining days of the legislative session?

Observations from the testimony after the jump…

The Old Supreme Court Chambers were packed with supports.  The was a sort of informal poll taken by the chairman when he asked supports and opponents to each stand in turn to show their opinion. The supporters made up (in my estimation) about 95% of the room and the opponents, who I was able to count, were 13 people.

The testimony in favor of the bill was slpit almost evenly between Democrats who have repeatedly supported gay rights and Republicans like CO College Rebublicans Chairman Troy Ard, who for the second year in a row, implored the GOP members of the committee to move past this issue and vote yes.

Proponent testimony was cut short due to time.

When the opponents turn came up, all of them who wished to testify were able to do so, easily, in the one hour provided to them. And their arguments were limited to the following:

1. Society will crumble if you pass this

2. This is a slippery slope to man marries daughter.

3. This will impede (though they never explained how) on religious freedom, and

4. Being gay is gross and causes aids. (Seriously, I’m not exaggeration)

These opponents were met with fierce cross-examination led by Rep. Pabon, who repeated challenged the witnesses’ assertions. He was backed by Rep. Duran and Rep. Kagan who refused to allow them to get away with ridiculous claims.

In one case, former CU-Colorado Springs Student President David Williams tried to claim that his personal freedoms had been infringed upon when he was “forced” into providing student fee money to a GLBT organization on his campus to to the school’s viewpoint neutrality rules. He neglected to mention that those rule exist because of a Supreme Court ruling in the case of The Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin vs Southworth, which mandated that student fee funds must be distributed in a manner free from personal bias. Rep. Duran rightly grilled Mr. Williams, pointing out that in seeking and being elected to the position of Student Body President, he did so with the knowledge that he would have to abide by the school’s rules, just like she and every member of the committee must abide by Colorado’s laws.

Overall, the opposition felt disorganized and incoherent. But that probably had little effect, as their arguments would not have been more credible or logical even if delivered by the most talented orator.

The fact is, the time for discrimination against same-sex couples is ending. The only question is which state will be the last to acknowledge it.

Melton Leads Todd by 22 Points in HD41 Assembly

Today, at the HD 41 Assembly in Aurora, Jovan Melton won a surprising 61% of the vote over Terry Todd, who managed to only earn 39%, despite being nominated by his wife, State Rep. Nancy Todd and outgoing Senator Suzanne Williams.

It was my pleasure and honor to nominate Melton today, after suspending my own campaign for the same position, alongside side Dr. Shelley Cohen, the President of Health Care For All Colorado, and among supporters like former Commissioner Pat Noonan, State Representative Rhonda Fields, and former Mayor Wellington Webb.

While some may call Melton’s victory an upset, I don’t believe the result is that surprising. For the last year, as I have been walking and talking to voters in the district, I heard over and over how uncomfortable the majority of them were with the idea of Todd as a representative, which is why it was no surprise to me that all of my supporters voted for Melton today, and delivered a solid victory to his campaign.

The next step, of course, is the primary election in June. But if Terry really wants to do what is best for the people of this district, he will do what I did, listen to their voices, and exit the race. Jovan is clearly the nominee that the party faithful want to advance and he should honor their opinion by stepping aside.

Or, as the folks at DenverPols put it:

The news that Melton earned the support of over 60% of delegates at today’s county assembly has shifted the dynamic of the race. It shows that the Democratic base hasn’t warmed to Todd’s talking points and is instead looking for a new kind of representation at the State Capitol.

Terry’s failure to gain the top spot on the ballot should also be of paramount concern to Nancy Todd. Because her husband based his entire campaign on their relationship, the HD-41 primary has turned into a referendum of sorts on Nancy’s leadership abilities. Although Rep. Todd doesn’t have a primary challenger in her race for SD-28, the fact that her husband isn’t finding much success capitalizing on her experience in the House is certainly cause enough to worry about what could happen in November.

Other interesting Arapahoe County Results after the jump…

HD 40 was the other big surprise of the month. After reapportionment put HD40 squarely in the “winnable” column for dems, local officers scrambled to find a candidate who could take on incumbent Cindy Acree. A couple candidates threw out their names, Grant Travis and PK Kaiser. But then the House Majority Project recruited formal principal John Buckner, who received over 70% of the vote, making him the sole candidate to qualify for the ballot.

A similar result came out of HD 38 where local organizer Donovan O’Dell’s surprise, last minute entry into the race was able to garner enough votes (almost 80%) to push James Krefft off the primary ballot and be the sole challenger for incumbent Kathleen Conti.

All told, HD 41 is now the last active primary in Arapahoe county. That is, unless one of the defeated candidates decides to petition back onto the ballot.

Gunnison Wins One for All of Us

Thanks to the determinations of the Gunnison County Board of Commissioners and their County Attorney, David Baumgarten, Colorado local governments will enjoy a much greater ability to protect their residents in 2012 from the harmful effects of oil and gas drilling, as a result of a landmark (though mostly unreported) ruling issued earlier this month.

The Colorado Independent was one of the only news outlets to report on it.

The ruling against SG Interests (and by extension, the entire Oil and Gas Industry) empowers local governments to pass regulations, such as those requiring:

- Closed loop systems (that capture all gases and emissions),

- Sound barriers,

- Larger setbacks,

- Non-toxic frack fluids

- And other mitigating measures

And that those regulations do not present “material obstructions” to the state’s interests, but rather that they “materially harmonize” the local government need to control land use and protect public health and safety with the state’s interest in oil and gas extraction.

Much more, including history and information about the ruling after the jump…

Background

In 2006, David Baumgarten,  the County Attorney for Gunnison County, won a landmark case for county rights to mitigate harm from oil and gas extraction through local rules. Then, in 2009, he and another county attorney wrote a legal overview paper of Colorado case law regarding oil and gas extraction,  ”Preemption is Not Assumed”,  outlining the continuing legal force of case law supporting county rights to mitigate harm.  They asserted in this overview  that judicial rulings show that Colorado local governments cannot entirely “materially obstruct” the interests of the state regarding  oil and gas extraction, but that local governments have the clear right to create rules and ordinances governing how and where such extraction can be done, as long as those ordinances and rules “materially harmonize” with the overall state goal of extraction.  

In the meantime, COGCC and industry have been extremely active in our state, continuing to assert “state preemption”, i.e., the supposed superior right of the state to promote oil and gas extraction, insisting that this right trumps the rights of local governments to zone and contain harm of industrial oil and gas development, in all but a few minor areas.   As oil and gas applications have recently multiplied at a meteoric rate, with the prospect of fracking the Niobrara shale in Colorado for natural gas and for oil, industry is launching a huge wave of applications that move oil and gas extraction operations right into city limits and populated areas. The state oversight agency, the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC)  and the industry association, COGA (Colorado Oil and Gas Association) have launched an agressive united campaign that supports the removal of any obstacle to swift and aggressive extraction of oil and gas wherever there might be prospect of it.

Meanwhile, with the game changing intrusion of the relatively new (about 7-10 year old) process of horizontal fracturing (“fracking”), with its immensely higher heavy industrial operations and use of extraordinary quantities of water to extinction, its use of a much higher number and volume of toxic (or potentially toxic) chemicals, and increasing reports of water contamination, serious public health and safety impacts, and significant impacts to quality of life and property values, local governments in Colorado have been scrambling to determine the prospect of harm and their ability to contain it, as this process moves right into towns and cities, within 100- 350 ft of residences and human activities.  

As this fact finding and rulemaking process has been unfolding at breakneck speed for local governments in Colorado, COGCC and COGA have been very busy inserting themselves into those deliberations. To this end, the COGCC and industry have been appearing at every venue where local governments are considering the creation of or the strengthening of their oil and gas rules and ordinances, to protect their populations’ health and safety, zoning, and property values.  The COGCC and COGA have not only been strongly asserting the “preemption doctrine” at these venues (the supposed superior right of the state to promote oil and gas extraction), they have been issuing threat of litigation if local governments do not abandon efforts to write protective rules and ordinances that go beyond the specific (and inadequately protective) terms of COGCC regulations.

Despite the overt conflict of interest and inappropriateness of a state oversight agency, COGCC, engaging in strong arm lobbying for the private profit interests of industry and against the rightful responsabilities and needs of local governments, this  intimidation campaign has had huge impact on Colorado cities and counties.  For example, in Arapahoe County, it wholly succeeded in persuading the majority of the County Commissioners to abandon the newly written rules for oil and gas extraction that the county had produced over many months of consideration through the staff of the Planning Department, public input hearings and written submissions, and meetings of the Planning Commission.  

Other local governments,  more apprised of the stakes and hidden costs to their area and/or more protective of their rights of local government self determination, such as Colorado Springs, Commerce City, Longmont, La Plata county, enacted moratoriums  that would allow them more time for reviewing impact facts and legal options for mitigating harm.  Those local governments that have attempted to hold on to their rights of self determination were vindicated on January 3, by a court case in Gunnison County.

The Big Win on January 3, 2012

On January 3, 2012, Gunnison County won litigation in a suit brought by SG Interests  (oil and gas company), vindicating the rights of Colorado local governments to assert their responsabilities and rights to mitigate harm from oil and gas extraction.

David Baumgarten, Gunnison County Attorney, was the attorney for the Board of County Commisisioners of Gunnison County, in this suit brought by SG Interests, Ltd (oil and gas operator), alleging that the county’s oil and gas rules go beyond the preemptive regulations of the state (COGCC’s rules) and represent material obstruction of their company’s right to extract and the state’s interest in the accomplishment of that extraction  (i.e., that the county had overstepped their legal rights because state regs supposdedly preempt the county’s ability to write rules in an area where only the state has the right to regulate).

In fact, the judge ruled that “the state’s interest in oil and gas actions is not so dominant nor do the interests of state and county regulation of oil and gas activities conflict as to  impliedly preempt county authority to regulate the development and operation of such activities.”    

The judge further noted that “An operational conflict between county regulations and state law exists when the local regulation materially impedes or destroys the state interest” and that “A county regulation is in operational conflict on its face only when no possible construction of the regulation can be harmonized with the state regulatory scheme…” and that any assertion of operational conflict would need to be determined through evidentiary hearing  (not by simple claim of preemptive rights).  The ruling also acknowleged county rights to local recovery of technical or (consultant) expert fees for review of technical permit applications.

What’s Next?

This is a huge win for the Colorado public and its local governments, acknowledging that “preemption is not assumed.”

In effect, local governments can proceed to argue that closed loop systems (that capture all gases and emissions), sound barriers, larger setbacks, non toxic frack fluids and other mitigating measures do not present “material obstructions” to the state’s interests, but rather that they “materially harmonize” the local government need to control land use and protect public health and safety with the state’s interest in oil and gas extraction.

Why have you not read about this huge win in the Denver Paper?  In your local paper?  You should write to them and ask.

Is your local government county attorney aware of this ruling?  Have they informed your local council members and county commissioners?  Have they informed the public about this critical development?  Find out. And ensure that your local government is empowered with the latest information to protect its people.

Have our legislators  been apprised of this important development, as they begin to consider bills on fracking and oil and gas related issues?  Don’t assume they have. Write your State Rep and Senator today.

We must build on this victory and continue to protect the rights of the people, via their local governments, to restrict and regulate the oil and gas drilling in their own backyards.

Portions of this piece were written by members of the “What the Frack?!” commission, an Aurora-based grassroots organization dedicated to ensuring the safe and environmentally conscious implementation and execution of Oil and Gas Drilling in Colorado. All excerpts used with permission

http://frackingcolorado.wordpress.com/

Txting and Driving: Is There a Policy Solution?

This morning, I spent a couple minutes on David Sirota’s morning show weighing in on the topic of texting and driving. As many of you know, I was hospitalized by a distracted driver a couple of weeks ago, so I was more than eager to participate in the discussion.

Here’s the podcast if you want to listen to the whole discussion.

I mentioned that texting and driving is illegal in Colorado as of the summer of 2010. But, as I have said consistently since, I doubt that the ban on texting and driving will make much real impact on the number of accidents caused by distracted drivers. Because just like the “left lane is for passing only” law, the general public is either ignorant of its existence or willfully ignores it.

More after the jump…

And the issue extends far beyond texting. On my way to work today, for instance, I saw a woman using the mirror to apply makeup on the highway at 65mph. At that speed, you travel the length of a football field every three seconds, so your eyes should never leave the road. Yet, at any given moment, drivers on every road are eating, or texting, or doing any number of other activities that take their attention away from the road in front of them, often resulting in collisions.

In fact, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation http://www.dot.gov/

…cell phone distractions cause some 600,000 crashes, 330,000 injuries, and 3,000 deaths. This works out to more than 1,643 crashes, 904 injuries, and 8 deaths each day.

Full DOT statistics about distracted driving here.

So my question to you all is: Do you think there is a public policy solution to this problem, or does it have to be a cultural shift, similar to Denver’s water conservation efforts? (“This is how much you use… This is how much you need”)

In other words, is there anything the government can (or should) do about the problem of distracted driving?

State House Candidate Hospitalized After Car Crash

(Rachel, whenever you have a chance to get back, is there a public address where friends can send get-well cards? – promoted by ProgressiveCowgirl)



Update 5pm: Andrew is home and resting.

This is being posted by Andrew Bateman’s wife using his account. Updates will be posted when possible.

At approximately 7pm on Monday, November 21, Andrew Bateman’s car was struck from behind, pushing his car into the vehicle in front of him. Andrew sustained multiple injuries to his head, neck, legs and feet. He was in and out of consciousness and was taken by ambulance to a nearby hospital. Doctors are still determining the extent of the injuries. There were no passengers in the car at the time and, as far as we no, there were no other serious injuries.

We will do our best to update you all over the next few days. But his care and well-being come first.

Balanced Budget Amendment Fails in House Vote

No big surprise here. Reported by the Associated Press:

WASHINGTON (AP) – The House has rejected a proposed constitutional amendment that would have forced Congress to balance its budget every year as a way to reverse years of deficit spending.

A majority of House members supported the balanced budget measure, but supporters fell short of achieving the two-thirds majority needed to amend the Constitution.

Republicans who backed the amendment said it was the only way to get Congress to put its fiscal house in order. Democratic critics said a balanced budget requirement would result in drastic cuts in Medicare and other social programs when economic downturns put the budget out of balance.

It was the first House vote on a balanced budget amendment since 1995, when the House approved it but the bill fell one vote short in the Senate.

In other words, the vote itself was a compromise, but no one could have hoped for passage. And it’s a good thing, too, because the balanced budget amendment is a horrible idea.

Another Court Sides with Occupiers

I was following up on the diary that I posted a couple days ago about Occupy Nashville and found that the group has won another major victory there.

To refresh your memory (or for those who didn’t read the first diary), protesters in Nashville were arrested two nights in a row for violating the city’s curfew law. And both times, the local Judge dismissed their charges and ordered their release saying there was “no legal basis” for the arrests.

Yesterday, a Federal Judge ordered the police to stop arresting protesters, regardless of the time of day.

The Washington Post Reports:

On Monday morning, the ACLU filed a lawsuit on behalf of the Nashville protesters, claiming a curfew put in place violates the right to free speech. Monday afternoon, a federal judge granted a temporary restraining order requiring police to stop arresting protesters, the Tennessean reports.

This is not, however, the most interesting point to the story…  

Also on that page is a video taken by newspaper journalist Jonathan Meador, who was arrested along with the protesters.

In the video, police appear to approach the chanting crowd, while protesters yell at them “We love you!” Meador can be heard repeating, “I’m a member of the media.” The visuals are obscured, but a second voice can be heard saying, “When you get him up there charge him with resisting arrest.” The same voice can be heard telling Meador that he is putting Meador’s camera in his pocket.

This exchange, caught on tape, raises questions that have implications across the nation, including here in Colorado.

How many of the people arrested were actually charged with the “crime” that led to their arrest? And how many more were charged with something else, like Resisting Arrest, Assault, or Disturbing the Peace, in order to raise their bail and avoid pesky first amendment issues?

I have personally witnessed dozens of protesters being arrested in Denver. I was even struck by police officers while trying to document one of the more forceful arrests. Most were doing nothing more than sitting on a sidewalk. Yet, many were charged with resisting.

Another COPolster, Wade Norris, has documented similar inconsistencies.

I think that, as more and more film comes out, we are going to find that police (or rather, the people giving them orders) all over the country have been engaged in a coordinated, strategic, and largely unconstitutional effort to end a peaceful protest. Not to restrict or modify it, but to end it.

But Occupiers simply have to hold out a while longer. Two Federal Judges have now ordered cities (Nashville and Cleveland) to leave protesters alone. And more will likely be added to the list before long. After that comes actual rulings that will determine whether these curfews meet the judicial standard of “reasonable restriction of time, place, and manner” as it relates to free speech.

The City of Denver and the State of Colorado should get ahead of the curve and stop now, before they have to be ordered back by a judge. The civil rights cost (as well as the monetary cost to the city and state) of continuing the police action against these peaceful protests is simply too great.