AFP Trots Out Dubious “Obamacare Victim” Tomorrow

Carol Perry.

Carol Perry.

A press release from conservative advocacy group Americans for Prosperity announces a press conference tomorrow at the Colorado Capitol, going after Democratic Sen. Mark Udall (who else?) for his support of Obamacare (what else?):

This Wednesday Americans for Prosperity – Colorado will hold a press conference on the west steps of the state capitol with AFP President Tim Phillips, Senate Minority Leader Bill Cadman, and Carol Perry, a Coloradan whose health insurance premiums have spiked due to ObamaCare. The presser will explain AFP’s goals in holding Senator Mark Udall accountable for his support for ObamaCare.

Americans for Prosperity Press Conference
With Senator Bill Cadman, AFP President Tim Phillips, and ObamaCare victim Carol Perry [Pols emphasis]
8:30 AM Wednesday, April 23rd
West Steps State Capitol

Being inclined as we are, after so many "Obamacare horror stories" have collapsed under minimal scrutiny, to approach supposed victims of the Affordable Care Act trotted out by Americans for Prosperity with a jaundiced eye, we did some basic checking on "Obamacare victim" Carol Perry. And once again, we're really glad we did! Pay attention, reporters covering tomorrow's presser:

According to the Colorado Secretary of State's office, Carol Perry of Douglas County has donated thousands of dollars to Republican candidates, including Mitt Romney, Ryan Frazier on the federal side, and Tom Tancredo's 2010 gubernatorial campaign. Perry's Secretary of State records also show a donation of $100 for an unknown purpose to Kelly Maher, now the director of conservative group Compass Colorado. We're not sure why that donation to Maher is even in the campaign finance system, as we don't think Maher has been a candidate. But needless to say, it's a huge red flag when evaluating Perry's authenticity.

Perry also appears to be a frequent witness in favor of Republicans on a wide variety of issues. We've found records of her testifying against last year's gun safety bills. In the 2012 elections, Perry was a public face of My Purse Politics (photo above right), a a project of the Conservative Women's Alliance aimed at turning out the woman conservative vote. But one of the most amusing, and telling, press hits for Carol Perry came last June in testimony on the lack of respect for "political diversity" at the University of Colorado:

Carol Perry, who testified to the board, said she would never send her daughters to CU because of what she perceives to be a persistent liberal bias.

Okie dokie then!

So, does this mean Carol Perry might not be the most reliable source on the horrors of Obamacare, much like other "horror stories" hyped by Americans For Prosperity in ads ruled "misleading" by fact-checkers from coast to coast? Obviously, we haven't heard her particular story yet, so there's no way we can say that for sure.

But based on what we know about AFP and now Mrs. Perry, we're more than a little skeptical.

“Respect”–Udall Tears Into Gardner Over Banning Abortion

UPDATE: Cory Gardner's campaign responds with what appears to be their stock response on abortion and Personhood questions. Eli Stokols of Fox 31 reports:

Gardner’s campaign responded quickly, attacking Udall for going negative and alleging that the ad distorts Gardner’s record.

“After nearly two decades in Washington, Senator Udall has decided to launch his reelection campaign with a negative, misleading attack ad because he has no record of accomplishments,” Gardner campaign manager Chris Hansen said in a statement. “While Coloradans sound the call for new leadership, Senator Udall continues to lie about Cory Gardner’s record while distorting his own.

Gardner's campaign is sticking with this approach in order to defend his own background with the abortion issue: Making a broad accusation that opponents are "distorting Gardner's record." We suppose there is nothing much else for Gardner to say in response to the two main points of the ad, that he 1) supported legislation that would make abortion a felony, and 2) he was a supporter of Personhood for years before his surprise flip-flop in March.

If you have a weak defense, all that's left is to play offense.

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Incumbent Democratic Sen. Mark Udall is up with his campaign's first TV spot of the election season–and it's a powerful kickoff, hitting GOP opponent Cory Gardner squarely on his past support for banning abortion and "Personhood." From Udall's release:

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Laura Boggs Running for State Board of Education

Laura Boggs

Laura Boggs

We've been documenting in this space the right-wing takeover of the Jefferson County School Board, a change that took place last November that was driven in part by onetime Jeffco School Board Member Laura Boggs. The far-right Boggs is now trying to move her voucher-loving education agenda to the state level, challenging incumbent Democrat Jane Goff for a spot on the State Board of Education in CD-7.

As Goff announced Monday in an email to supporters (full text after the jump):

This is the same former Jeffco school board member who warned that she would “tear this county apart.” This is the same former Jeffco school board member who threatened to derail a $32.8 million federal grant to support teacher leadership and development initiatives in the district. This is the same person who, during her single term on the Jeffco board, was censured twice for behavior unbefitting her position. (News coverage here and here.)  

While we are not surprised to see a pro-voucher, right-wing candidate emerge for State School Board, we are a little perplexed that it is Boggs herself. Conservative school board victories in Jefferson County were won in a below-the-radar fashion last fall, but Boggs will not slip by unnoticed; she is not so much a lightning rod for criticism as she is a full-on storm cloud. The presence of Boggs on the November ballot will likely do more to engage Jefferson County parents against Republicans.

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Red-Light Camera Ban Passes Senate

UPDATE: Food for thought as legislators consider Senate Bill 14-181, here are some interesting points in favor of red light cameras from the Colorado Association of Chiefs of Police:

Year-to-year changes in red-light running fatalities reveal an average annual decrease of 5.6% from 2007 to 2011. U.S. and worldwide studies show a 25 to 30 % reduction in injury crashes at locations with red-light safety cameras, Insurance Institute for Highway Safety reports. A five-year study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety in 2011 found red-light cameras saved more than 150 lives in 14 of the largest U.S. cities, reducing fatalities by 24 percent.

Cameras get drivers’ attention, and reduce the most dangerous type of collisions – right angle crashes. A 2011 Texas Transportation Institute study of 11,122 crash records from 275 intersections showed 633 fewer crashes at intersections with cameras; and a 32% decrease in right-angle crashes…

The use of photo speed radar enforcement is already strictly limited to residential streets, school zones and construction zones. It can be used only where the speed limits is not more than 35 miles per hour. A violator must be exceeding the speed limit by at least 10 miles per hour to receive a ticket. Photo speed radar vans are manned by qualified personnel. Red light cameras are deployed at selected high risk intersections. Fines are limited to a maximum $40 for speeding and $75 for red light infractions. No points are assessed against a driver’s record.

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red-light-camera

As the Denver Post's Kurtis Lee reports, the red-light camera ban bill, supported by a bipartisan election-year coalition and hotly opposed by local government reaping big bucks from installed cameras, has passed the Colorado Senate:

At its core, Senate Bill 181 would bar local municipalities from using automated vehicle-identification systems that pinpoint drivers. Along with red-light cameras, the measure includes photo radar cameras that detect speed.

The bill moved out of the Senate on a 21-14 vote. The only amendment attached allows for toll roads to continue using photo radar cameras that detect speed.

The measure has support from Democrats and Republicans in the legislature. Gov. John Hickenlooper on Monday was noncommittal toward the bill. Hickenlooper, a Democrat, said at an afternoon news conference he's seen earlier versions of the bill, but has yet to view its current form.

"I think there are a number of people that feel a level of anger over what they feel is an intrusion and is not making their roads safer, and their opinion is that it's a way for local governments to try to increase their revenues," Hickenlooper said when asked about his personal views on the concept of banning photo red-light cameras. "That creates a real frustration in a lot of elected officials."

Gov. John Hickenlooper's sympathy for those poor, misunderstood elected officials notwithstanding, the public at large seems to be the most "frustrated" party over red-light cameras. The disagreement over the public safety value of these systems is difficult to sort through legitimately, due to what's perceived to be an ulterior motive to raise badly-needed revenue for local government–one thing red-light cameras excel at. Sometimes it falls to your humble hosts to remind our readers that revenue for our local governments is a good thing, or failing that at least a necessary evil–and if TABOR won't let governments get it the old-fashioned way, they've got to get creative.

A poll follows: will Gov. Hickenlooper sign Senate Bill 14-181 if it passes?

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Coffman To Minority Language Voters: “Pull Out a Dictionary”

Rep. Mike Coffman (R-CO), left, with anti-immigrant Rep. Steve King (R-IA).

Rep. Mike Coffman (R-CO), left, with anti-immigrant Rep. Steve King (R-IA).

​Rep. Mike Coffman has spent a great deal of time in recent months "reaching out" to the many ethnic groups in the new Sixth Congressional District, working hard to burnish his credentials with Asian and African immigrants in addition to his now-famous reversals on immigration policy–all directly intended to appease the large percentage of immigrant and ethnic minority voters in his district.

But as we've explored at length since Coffman began his transformation from Tom Tancredo's firebrand successor to embattled incumbent desperately trying to win over constituencies he routinely disparaged before redistricting, Coffman wasn't always such a nice guy to immigrants–especially where it concerns duties of citizenship like voting rights. Back in the summer of 2011, "Old Coffman" actually proposed the repeal of a section of the federal Voting Rights Act that requires bilingual ballots be distributed to qualifying minority language populations.

It's hard to imagine today's Mike Coffman seriously proposing to repeal part of the Voting Rights Act to make it harder for some of the very same immigrant communities he's courting today to vote, but in 2011, Coffman defended his "cost saving" proposal in surprisingly blunt terms. Here's a video clip from Spanish-language Univision News where Coffman explains his 2011 position–with translation below:

OLIVIA MENDOZA: To me, this is a big step backward. 
 
DANIEL TUCCIO: Disagreement was to be expected by pro immigrant rights advocacy groups  who are angry over the Congressman's position.
 
MIKE COFFMAN: One thing they ought to do is pull out a dictionary when they are at home, because the ballots have been sent to them a long time in advance. [Pols emphasis] They can seek help from friends who speak English, look up words they do not know; sometimes you have to put a little more effort to assimilate into our culture.
 
TUCCIO: Olivia Mendoza disagrees.

MENDOZA: The foundation of this country is the participation of citizens of the United States in our democracy. When we begin to say that it costs us too much to have citizens engaged…what country are we going to become?

"What country are we going to become?" If "Old Coffman" had gotten his way, it seems we'd be a nation where immigrants who want to vote "pull out a dictionary!" Nobody's going to argue that immigrants should never bother to learn English, but English proficiency is not a requirement for citizens to vote in America. That's why we have a Voting Rights Act to help make sure it doesn't become a requirement, de facto or otherwise.

Bottom line: "New Coffman®" should be really upset at "Old Coffman" for this one.

15 Years Ago Today: Columbine

columbinememorial

The Denver Post's Allison Noon:

Sunday marks the 15th year since the shooting at Columbine High School in which 12 students and a teacher were killed.

Indigo columbine flowers were in bloom around the bases of 13 stone markers at the permanent Columbine Memorial in Littleton's Clement Park on Saturday, when about 50 people honored the victims with a remembrance program.

Colorado Ceasefire Capitol Fund organized the program at the park amphitheater ahead of the anniversary that falls this year on Easter Sunday. The program included speeches from family members of two Columbine shooting victims and two victims of the Aurora theater shooting.

CBS4:

“We are part of an unwanted family. None of us asked to be part of this family, family of survivors of mass tragedy,” said [Coni] Sanders.

Unfortunately, that family is growing.

Tom Sullivan lost his son in the Aurora theater shootings.

“Thank you for the courage you have all had since that day. It has certainly strengthened me in my private moments,” said Sullivan.

Sandy Phillips lost her daughter.

“Their lives meant something. Not just to their families, but to the communities that they lived in,” said Phillips.

100 Years Ago Today: Ludlow

ludlowmonumentPhoto courtesy United Mine Workers of America

100 years ago today, a gunfight broke out between members of the Colorado National Guard and striking coal miners employed by the Colorado Fuel and Iron Company near Trinidad, Colorado. During the fighting in and around a tent encampment of striking miners, eleven children and two women were killed when the tent above a pit they were taking shelter from the fighting in was set on fire. This event became known as the Ludlow Massacre, and shocked the nation into a greater awareness of the poor working conditions and exploitative "company town" economic predation faced by coal miners.

This event is being widely commemorated on its 100th anniversary today, and we'll update with coverage.

The “War On Women” Won’t End With Flip-Flops

GOP Reps. Cory Gardner and Mike Coffman.

GOP Reps. Cory Gardner and Mike Coffman.

An insightful story published yesterday evening at the Wall Street Journal takes a look at an emerging dominant theme in the biggest federal races in Colorado this election year–a desperate attempt by veteran Republican politicians to jettison their longstanding "anti-woman" baggage:

Wary of being on the losing side of the gender gap, Republican candidates are working to repel Democratic efforts to portray GOP policy on abortion, equal-pay laws and other matters as harmful to women.

In Colorado, Reps. Cory Gardner and Mike Coffman withdrew their support last month for "personhood" proposals that could limit access to birth control. In Virginia Rep. Scott Rigell hosted his first "women's symposium" last month…

Republican pollster Kellyanne Conway said Republicans are responding with mixed success to Democratic attacks that they are out of touch with women. She added, "Still, Republicans are doing a much better job by calling out Democrats for trying to divert attention from their chief liability, Obamacare."

…Democrats have criticized Messrs. Gardner and Coffman for backing statewide initiatives in 2010 and 2012 that would have treated a fetus like a person, outlawing most abortions and possibly some forms of birth control. Asked about the changes in position, staffers for the lawmakers said they recognized that voters had twice rejected "personhood" referenda. Mr. Gardner, who is challenging Democratic Sen. Mark Udall, called the possible limits on birth control "not right."

Ever since Rep. Cory Gardner made the obviously calculated decision to abandon his prior public support for the "Personhood" abortion ban initiatives, late on a Friday afternoon in unsuccessful hopes of minimizing the press coverage, there's been a lot of debate about what the best strategy is for Gardner–followed up swiftly by fellow GOP Rep. Mike Coffman–to extricate themselves from their records of very consistent support for banning abortion, even in cases where most voters would never stay with them like rape and incest victims.

The problem is, such debate presupposes it's possible to do that.

Gardner and Coffman have a big problem claiming legitimate "evolution" on these issues, since in both cases they have taken place against the backdrop of a changing constituency now repelled by their former position. In Coffman's case, redistricting has transformed his formerly ultra-safe Republican seat into one of the most competitive districts in America. As for Gardner, his longstanding proud support for "Personhood" and other total abortion bans was perfectly acceptable in his safe Republican seat, but as a U.S. Senate candidate, his support for "Personhood" is potentially lethal.

Once you think past the offered excuses for Gardner and Coffman's flip-flops, it becomes objectively clear, regardless of where you stand on the issue, that they switched positions to save their political hides. In Coffman's case, the length of his "evolution" has been protracted by his unexpectedly narrow win in 2012 over an underdog opponent, after Democrats failed to capitalize on redistricting with a top-tier challenger. But Coffman's switch is no less obviously political in nature than Gardner's–and both can be easily discredited as a result with the very same voters they hoped to mollify.

And that brings us to the point, what we consider to be a very important point that needs to sink in with Republicans, Democrats, and journalists: contrived flip-flopping just doesn't work. It didn't work for Mitt "Etch-a-Sketch" Romney, and it's not working for Gardner or Coffman. It's not working because it's demonstrably fake. In this space, we have consistently argued for nearly a decade that the best hope for Republicans is to start fielding more moderate candidates–ones that don't automatically disqualify themselves with positions on wedge issues that horrify women and independent voters. But they need to genuinely be moderate candidates on these issues, not holdovers from a previous generation trying to fake their way out from under their own liabilities.

Does that mean Republicans have to wander in the wilderness for 40 years like Moses, until all of the "Personhood"-saddled anti-choice Republican politicians are dead or out to pasture?

You know, folks, we don't make the rules. But maybe so.

Weekend Open Thread

"I am neither bitter nor cynical but I do wish there was less immaturity in political thinking."

–Franklin D. Roosevelt

GOP American Crossroads Poll Shows Udall Up By 2 Points

Mark Udall, Cory Gardner.

Mark Udall, Cory Gardner.

The conservative Daily Caller reports on a new poll conducted for Republican-aligned SuperPAC American Crossroads on the Colorado U.S. Senate race:

Incumbent Colorado Democratic Sen. Mark Udall has a slim lead over his challenger, Republican Rep. Cory Gardner, according to a new poll from American Crossroads.

Forty-five percent of those polled said they would vote for Udall, compared to 43 percent for Gardner. Twelve percent of respondents aren’t sure who they will vote for.

Udall’s lead is well within the poll’s 4.35 percent margin of error, meaning that the contest remains a dead heat.

In terms of favorability, voters’ opinion of Udall is almost evenly split, with 41 percent saying they have a favorable opinion of him to 42 percent unfavorable.

Their opinion of Gardner, however, is more clearly divided, with 38 percent unfavorable to 30 percent favorable. But 32 percent aren’t sure.

Here's the memo from Harper Polling.

This conservative leaning poll has a fairly high margin of error at 4.35%, and uses automated methodology that we really don't think is as accurate as live interviews. Despite these caveats, it's interesting that a month of high-volume attacks on incumbent Democratic Sen. Mark Udall do not appear to have moved the needle against him at all–Udall still polls narrowly ahead of challenger Cory Gardner. We'll want to see more polling to establish that clearly, but as a Republican strategist, you can't look at unchanged polls after shoveling money into attack ads against Udall over "Obamacare" for a month and feel good about it. If that's right, Americans for Prosperity and friends just wasted a pile of Koch Brothers money.

Don’t Even Study Fracking? Really?

Photo courtesy Rep. Jared Polis

Photo courtesy Rep. Jared Polis

​The Grand Junction Sentinel's Charles Ashby reports on passage yesterday of House Bill 14-1297, a bill to study the health impacts of hydraulic fracture drilling ("fracking") in certain affected Front Range counties:

The Colorado House approved a controversial bill Thursday that some Republicans believe is designed to give opponents of hydraulic fracturing fodder to ban the practice in the state…

The measure, HB1297, cleared the House on a 38-27 vote. It calls for a study of the health and “quality of life” impacts of hydraulic fracturing of natural gas wells.

Although the bill, which heads to the Senate for more debate, confines that study to six Front Range counties around the Denver metropolitan area, it is seen by some Republicans as a plan by Democrats to slant it to be anti-fracking.

Interestingly, a single Republican legislator did vote in favor of this bill yesterday, outgoing Rep. Jared Wright of Fruita. We've been hard on Wright over the scandals that nearly cost him election in the first place and appear to have now ended his brief legislative career–not to mention leaving a loaded gun unattended in a Capitol committee hearing room–but we'll be damned if Wright doesn't make perfectly good sense regarding this bill.

“We want to know that we’re not just blindly going forward with technology. That we do it the right way,” Wright said. “I believe it can be done the right way, and frankly, I don’t have a doubt that it is being done the right way. I think the results of this study will be that our operators are doing their jobs and doing it in the careful way that we ask them.”

Rep. Wright tells Ashby that while he shares traditional GOP skepticism about government studies, he has "read this bill in-depth and I feel like it’s well laid-out, and I think it’s certainly the intention that it’s done the right way." Obviously, if Wright is right, Republicans and their energy industry benefactors have nothing to fear from an objective study of the health effects of fracking in Colorado. It will reinforce the argument they make about the safety of the practice. And if Wright is wrong, and fracking is not being done "the right way"…what responsible lawmaker would argue against finding that out?

We ask rhetorically, since 27 Colorado Republicans voted against this bill yesterday.