Rep. J. Paul “Cletus” Brown Takes on Climate Change

Cletus Spuckler.

Cletus Spuckler.

As the Durango Herald’s Peter Marcus reports, Rep. J. Paul Brown of Ignacio decided to go on the record about climate change during a debate about legislation to regulate greenhouse gases.

He should have kept his mouth shut:

Republican state Rep. J. Paul Brown encouraged fellow lawmakers on Tuesday to see “Climate Hustle,” a “global warming comedy” that critics say foolishly emboldens climate change skeptics…

The remark raised eyebrows.

Later that evening, Brown told The Durango Herald that he is skeptical as to the cause of climate change.

“We continue to have climate change, I just question whether it’s man-made,” Brown said. [Pols emphasis]

ThinkProgress has a little more on the movie Climate Hustle, which as Marcus reports was shredded into bite-size pieces by ABC’s Jimmy Kimmel earlier this week (video after the jump):

On Monday evening’s episode of Jimmy Kimmel Live, the ABC late-night host tackled something that isn’t in your average topical monologue: the scientific consensus on climate change. And he made a video featuring real climate scientists responding to climate denial in a fashion one doesn’t see in the National Academy of Sciences.

The catalyst involved a climate denier-produced movie, “Climate Hustle,” which has been called “amateurish” and “not very watchable.” Specifically what Kimmel seized on were comments former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin gave last month while promoting the movie…

“It’s perpetuated and repeated so often that too many people believe that, ‘Oh, well, if 97 percent of all scientists believe that man’s activities are creating changes in the weather, who am I to question that?’” she said.

“Exactly. Who are you to question that?” Kimmel replied…

Rep. J. Paul Brown (R).

Rep. J. Paul Brown (R).

Locals with an education agree:

“It’s an incredibly out-of-touch statement from a legislator whose district continues to have major challenges with air pollution,” said Jessica Goad, spokeswoman for Conservation Colorado. “Politicians like Rep. Brown, who flat-out deny that climate change is occurring, risk their own credibility, especially in the eyes of voters.”

The issue could play out during Brown’s re-election bid this year against retired Durango teacher Barbara McLachlan, who responded: “When did science become a belief system?”

The answer to that question is simple: before science, everything was a “belief system.”

But today, we have science. Most of us, anyway.


Here’s What’s Happening in the Republican Ballot Access Fight

UPDATE: Surprise! Another change:


If you’ve been following efforts to finalize the ballot for the GOP U.S. Senate race, you are well aware of the Furious Outhouse Fire that has come to symbolize the entire process (we can’t even call it a “Dumpster Fire” anymore – we’re well beyond that particular metaphor).

We’ve been trying to keep you updated on everything that is happening, as much as it is possible to do such a thing as quickly as the news keeps changing, and here’s where things stand as of this writing. Please note that things can – and almost certainly will – change again soon, and we will update this post as changes occur. For the sake of sanity and to help clarify things, we’re breaking this up into the latest events for the different campaigns and public officials involved.

One other quick note: Supporters of Robert Blaha, Ryan Frazier, and Jon Keyser like to portray themselves as the victims here (Keyser himself publicly blamed “bureaucrats” in the SOS office for his initial ballot troubles), but this entire fiasco was avoidable. Republican candidate Jack Graham was the first Senate candidate to be certified for the Primary ballot via the petition process, in large part because GRAHAM DID IT RIGHT. The general rule of thumb in collecting petitions is to turn in double the amount required in order to compensate for any potential errors, and that’s what Graham did; he submitted more than 22,000 signatures, while Blaha, Frazier, and Keyser were in the 16,000-17,000 range (candidates for U.S. Senate must collect 1,500 valid signatures from registered Republicans in each of Colorado’s seven congressional districts, for a total of 10,500). Graham did what he needed to do and hired consultants that could get it done. Blaha, by contrast, hired Frank McNulty, while Keyser was struggling to raise enough money just to keep his campaign in operation.


Colorado Secretary of State/Primary Ballots

The Primary ballot was supposed to be finalized by the Secretary of State’s (SOS) office on Friday, April 29. That didn’t happen, obviously, because the campaigns of Robert Blaha and Ryan Frazier filed a motion to prevent the SOS from doing so; that stay was granted, but ended Wednesday evening.

Today, a Denver judge issued another stay in response to a request from Frazier’s campaign; Frazier has until Monday, May 9 to file an appeal of a court ruling that he is not eligible for the Primary ballot. Secretary of State Wayne Williams plans to challenge this ruling because more deadlines are rapidly approaching: The “stay” order has been rescinded by the court in light of a new deal with Frazier.

♦ May 14 is the deadline for county clerks to transmit a Primary Election ballot to military and overseas voters (45 days before June 28th Primary).

♦ May 27 is the deadline for Primary Ballots to be “printed and in possession of the county clerk (no later than 32 days before the Primary Election)

♦ June 6 is the first day that mail ballots can be mailed to voters (not sooner than 22 days before the Primary Election).

Here’s the election calendar prepared by the Colorado SOS.


Robert Blaha.

Robert Blaha

Robert Blaha
Ballot Status: ON

In the span of about 18 hours, Blaha learned that he was on the Primary ballot, off the Primary ballot, and as of this morning, back on the Primary ballot. Blaha has also called for SOS Wayne Williams to resign in the wake of the massive confusion that took place during the past couple of weeks. There is no update as to whether Blaha will proceed with this line of attack on Williams now that he is (probably) on the ballot.




Ryan Frazier

Ryan Frazier

Ryan Frazier
Ballot Status: OFF ON, pending appeal

Frazier appears to have the most tenuous position at the moment, in large part because he was the last of the four Senate candidates to submit his petitions for ballot access (click here for a detailed explanation of why this is important). Frazier is being represented in court by former SOS Scott Gessler, who will challenge a court ruling that Frazier is ineligible for the ballot. On Thursday, a judge ruled that Frazier still doesn’t have enough valid petition signatures in CD-3. Later in the day, a ruling came down that Frazier CAN be on the Primary ballot, but that he must withdraw from the Senate race if he loses his appeal.




Jon Keyser

Jon Keyser

John Keyser
Ballot Status: ON (for now)

Keyser has a court order forcing the SOS to place his name on the Primary ballot, and that’s unlikely to change. However…of the three Republicans who have been trying to get onto the ballot in the last few weeks, Keyser also has the biggest cloud hanging over his head. Keyser’s petitions included at least one, and possibly more, examples of blatant forgery and fraud in the collecting of signatures. Keyser also barely collected enough signatures from CD-1 to qualify for the ballot – he made it with just 20 signatures to spare – so more examples of forgery or fraud could put him back under the required amount of signatures for ballot access.

It’s unlikely that Keyser’s name would be removed from the ballot before Monday, but he could still end up as a “Zombie Candidate” if a judge later rules that votes for Keyser cannot be counted because he should never have been eligible for the ballot in the first place. There is some precedent here; in 2012, Michigan Rep. Thaddeus McCotter failed to qualify for the GOP Primary ballot because of questions about forged signatures. Fallout from that scandal ultimately forced McCotter to resign from Congress in July 2012.

Stay Classy, Colorado Senate Majority Office

Senate President Bill Cadman.

Senate President Bill Cadman.

This just in, Karen Middleton at NARAL Pro Choice Colorado is calling for accountability from Colorado Senate President Bill Cadman after an offensive post on social media from Senate Communications Director Sean Paige:

Today on social media, Senate Republican caucus spokesman Sean Paige used a sexual slur to refer to former Secretary of State and Democratic front runner Hillary Clinton. NARAL Pro-Choice Colorado Executive Director Karen Middleton issued the following statement in response.

“Hostility to women takes two forms – words and actions. Today we had both. Colorado State Senate Republicans killed a contraceptive access bill, and their spokesman used an ugly sexual slur to publicly refer to Hillary Clinton.

Colorado women deserve better. We’re calling on Senate President Bill Cadman and every Republican State Senator to denounce what Sean Paige said and to apologize to Colorado women. A government official attacking any woman on the taxpayer dime is unacceptable, and this crosses a line.”

Here’s the Facebook post from Sean Paige that’s causing the ruckus:


Now, Webster’s Dictionary defines a “cucquean” as “a woman whose husband is unfaithful to her”–an obvious reference to the investigations into former President Bill Clinton’s personal life during the 1990s, a years-long “witch hunt” inquiry that eventually did reveal an extramarital affair. Just about every voter in America is familiar with the story, and it’s something everyone is free to have their own opinion of.

But folks, how do Bill Clinton’s affairs make Hillary Clinton less qualified to be President? That’s the clear implication of Paige’s statement, since Hillary’s status as a “cucquean” is the only thing he’s citing to declare her something other than “the cream of the crop.” Did Hillary deserve to be a “cucquean” then? Why is that, Mr. Communications Director? Is there a less outrageous interpretation of this we haven’t figured out yet?

Yeah, sure, free speech. But that doesn’t mean you should.

Get More Smarter on Cinco de Mayo! (May 5)

Cinco-Logo¡Viva Mexico, gueros! It’s time to Get More Smarter with Colorado Pols. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example).


► Following the exit from the GOP presidential primary of Donald Trump’s last two standing rivals this week, Trump’s nomination went from denial-inducing to a fact of life for Colorado Republicans. As 9NEWS reported last night and our friend Jason Salzman notes today, that’s resulting in some…well, contradictions:

In a statement, Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Colorado) said he’s not sold on Trump yet, calling his party’s presumptive presidential nominee “divisive.”

“Trump has a long way to go to earn the support of many – me included,” Coffman wrote.

That statement contradicts what his campaign told the Colorado Statesman in February. The relevant portion of the article (which is behind a paywall) reads as follows:

“Will Mike Coffman support the Republican nominee over Bernie or Hillary?” said [Mike Coffman] campaign spokeswoman Kristin Strohm. “The answer is obviously yes. And he believes strongly it is going to be Marco Rubio.”

We’ll be watching to see how Coffman sorts this out–assuming a reporter gets close enough to ask. Meanwhile, Boulder County Republicans seem much more willing to jump on the Trump Train:

One of the 12 people who did show up for the breakfast was former Boulder County Republican chairman Joel Champion, who told the others there that “regardless of what your personal position is on Donald Trump,” this will still be “the most important election for Republicans” in the decades to come…

Because of that, Champion said if Trump becomes the GOP presidential standard-bearer at the party’s national convention in July, Republicans, “whether we like him or not,” should vote for him.

► In the Colorado Republican U.S. Senate primary, all hell is breaking loose. Read more here and here, and stay tuned for the next shoe to drop. We’ve heard it won’t be long.

Get even more smarter after the jump…


BREAKING: Blaha Makes Ballot, Frazier Getting Recount, Everyone Yelling at Everyone Else

THURSDAY UPDATE: Court issues clarifying order, Robert Blaha WILL be on the ballot. We put it in caps because it seems authoritative this time. As for Ryan Frazier, the Denver Post’s John Frank reports:

Ryan Frazier remains on the sidelines after the judge ruled refused to allow him to count the signatures needed to reach the 1,500 threshold in the 3rd Congressional District, which stretches from Pueblo to Grand Junction.

The judge issued a stay on certifying the final June 28 primary ballot to give Frazier until Monday to file his appeal. But Secretary of State Wayne Williams plans to challenge the stay.

As has become the rule in this crazy primary, stay tuned for the next developments.


UPDATE #6: We’re going to be completely honest with you here…we have no idea how to sum this up for the night. We can all try again tomorrow.


UPDATE #5: Of course he is…


UPDATE #4: Uhhhhh…


UPDATE #3: And weirder:


This would have to calm down to be called a dumpster fire.

This would have to calm down just to be classified as a dumpster fire.

UPDATE #2: So, apparently Ryan Frazier was not approved for the Primary ballot…BUT…a judge has ordered the Secretary of State’s office to recount Frazier’s petitions. This whole thing just gets weirder and weirder and weirder.



SD-27 Democrat Tom Sullivan Nets Huge Kickoff Haul

SD-27 candidate Tom Sullivan (D).

SD-27 candidate Tom Sullivan (D).

A press release from Democratic Colorado Senate candidate Tom Sullivan, running in a “reach goal” race in Senate District 27 against appointed Republican Sen. Jack Tate, shows “Sully” off to a smashing start:

Newly released campaign finance numbers tell a compelling story about an unlikely candidate: not only is Tom Sullivan, the Democratic candidate in the State Senate race for District 27 getting an effective populist message out but that a significant number of voters are literally buying into his fight for the middle class.

For the first quarter of 2016, Sullivan has raised $30,876, toppling Republican opponent Jack Tate’s first quarter contributions eight times over. Sullivan’s opponent is also under a campaign finance complaint investigation for rolling over too much money from his State House to State Senate committee. Notwithstanding, they are now nearly neck-and-neck in total funds raised.

Sullivan is known in the community as the father of Alex Sullivan, one of twelve murdered in the 2012 Aurora theatre shooting. He’s also an Air Force veteran and retired postal worker; none of these experiences reveal any sort of political acumen, and when filing to run on February 23, few could have seen the powerhouse he would soon become…

That’s a head-turning quarterly take for a state legislative race without a doubt, and as the Democratic Senate Campaign Fund reports in a separate release, Jack Tate has his own problems:


According to state statute, campaign committees have a limit to the amount of money they can roll over from one race to another, intended to prevent campaigns from dodging contribution limits when pursuing higher office.* It’s a significant violation, both financially and ethically, and one that people familiar with campaigns or business should know about. That’s why Tate’s alleged violation is surprising: he’s the self-proclaimed pro-business candidate in Senate District 27.

“He runs on the idea that since he knows how to run a business, he can run a Senate seat. But with such an obvious violation of Colorado law, it’s evident his campaign has a troublesome problem with adhering very clear finance guidelines,” says Ali Vail, the claimant who filed the violation. “It’s bad business, pure and simple.”

*Colorado Constitution, rule 2.2.4(b)(3). The amount limit is $22,125. Tate’s campaign rolled over $27,736.67 — $5,611.67 more than the legal limit.

A sloppy error for Tate if the complaint bears out–and combined with Sullivan’s powerful show of support since launching his campaign in late February, it’s more evidence that this race will be competitive in ways that the voter registration breakdown in the district can’t account for. Tate is an undistinguished junior legislator who was just appointed to his Senate seat. He has no real advantage in this race whatsoever, only a slightly more favorable ratio of registered Republicans to Democrats in an overall competitive district.

No folks, it’s Sullivan–his story, and now the strength he is showing as a candidate–that makes this race special.

John Kasich Drops Out of Presidential Race

This is what Ohio Gov. John Kasich looks like.

This is what Ohio Gov. John Kasich looks like.

Ohio Gov. John Kasich is dropping out of the race for the Republican Presidential nomination. From CNN:

Kasich’s decision came after he improbably became the last challenger to Donald Trump, who emerged as the presumptive GOP nominee Tuesday night when Ted Cruz dropped out.

Even before winning his home state of Ohio in March, Kasich was facing pressure to get out of the race, with no clear path to victory. His campaign never became more than a spoiler run, designed to keep Trump from getting the 1,237 delegates needed to win the nomination before a contested convention.

Kasich obviously wasn’t going to defeat GOP frontrunner Donald Trump, but he could have just stopped campaigning and pulled an “Office Space.”

#NeverTrump #MaybeTrump #CrapIt’sTrump

RedState Gathering Moves Mountains To Denver

In mid-August, most of the conservative media- and pundit-sphere will descend on Denver for the 8th Annual RedState Gathering at the Grand Hyatt:


We’re excited to bring the 2016 RedState Gathering to Denver, Colorado! Join us, along with hundreds of other grassroots activisits, as we rally 90 days before the most important election of our lifetime. History is ours for the making.

The RedState gathering is a big deal among the conservative glitterati, with the host committee for the conference including such big names as Hugh Hewitt, Katie Pavlich, and Erick Erickson. Also our favorite local carnival barker and radio host Peter Boyles, which proves they aren’t doing background checks.

And yes, folks, you’ll notice that their website’s splashy graphic of the Denver skyline does not have mountains found anywhere near Denver depicted in it. After some time spent looking closely, we think that’s the Sneffels Range located in the San Juan Mountains. If that’s right, we can at least congratulate RedState for Photoshopping in mountains that are actually located in the state of Colorado, which a lot of Republican campaigns have had trouble with over the years. With that said it’s a 325-mile drive from Denver to the Sneffels Wilderness, so this picture is as close as attendees are going to get.

Hopefully boring old Mount Evans isn’t too much of a letdown.

Get More Smarter on Wednesday (May 4)

JarJarMoreSmarterMay the Fourth Be With You. If you’re confused about that, click here. It’s time to Get More Smarter with Colorado Pols! If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example).


► Texas Sen. Ted Cruz officially ended his bid for the Republican Presidential nomination on Tuesday after getting crushed in the Indiana Primary by GOP frontrunner Donald Trump. Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus threw in the towel fairly early last night with a not-particularly-celebratory Tweet:

The #NeverTrump movement is apparently considering its options in the wake of Trump’s big victory on Tuesday. We’re not sure what “options” are left to consider, but we suppose it’s nice for the anti-Trump GOP forces to pretend that they still have something to do. It’s not all bad news for Cruz, meanwhile; he still has a good-paying job that doesn’t require him to do anything.

On the Democratic side, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders won a surprise victory in Indiana over frontrunner Hillary Clinton, though it doesn’t change the math equation — it’s still not mathematically possible for Sanders to defeat Clinton. The Democratic frontrunner is increasingly turning her attention toward the General Election, even more so now that she knows Trump will be her opponent.

► The U.S. Senate campaign of Republican Jon Keyser is purring along like the engine of a  a 1982 Datsun. Keyser is racking up more bad press in the wake of news that his petition signatures for access to the June 28th Primary may be tainted by fraud. As Marshall Zelinger of Denver7 reports:

A Colorado voter told Denver7 that someone forged her signature on a petition to place Republican U.S. Senate candidate Jon Keyser on the ballot for the June primary election.

Pamela Niemczyk of Littleton told Denver7’s Marshall Zelinger on Tuesday that she had signed a petition for Jack Graham, another Republican U.S. Senate candidate.She said the signature on the Keyser petition was not hers, calling it a “fraud.” [Pols emphasis]

Watch Zelinger’s report:

Keyser was a guest on KOA radio on Monday afternoon, during which he defended his “petitioners” and generally crapped on the Secretary of State’s officeJohn Frank of the Denver Post has more on the GOP Senate race that is “plagued by turmoil”:

Colorado’s U.S. Senate race spiraled deeper into turmoil Tuesday as two  scorned Republican candidates battled in court to qualify for the ballot and outside critics alleged fraud.

The controversies come before the Wednesday deadline to certify which candidates will appear on the June primary ballot — a date extended five days by a previous court order to make room for the candidates’ lawsuits. District Court Judge Elizabeth Starrs said she intends to issue a decision by the 5 p.m. deadline.

Republicans Robert Blaha and Ryan Frazier are hoping to find out today that they will be able to claim a spot on the June 28th Primary ballot.


Get even more smarter after the jump… (more…)

Ted Cruz Exits Presidential Race After Indiana Defeat


The fat lady appears to have sung in the Republican presidential race. Politico:

Ted Cruz is quitting the presidential race, according to campaign manager Jeff Roe, ending one of the best-organized campaigns of 2016 after a series of stinging defeats left Donald Trump as the only candidate capable of clinching the nomination outright.

Cruz had appeared likely to go all the way to the Republican convention, but a string of massive losses in the Northeast, and his subsequent defeat in Indiana, appear to have convinced him there’s no way forward.

Well folks, that day every downticket Republican has dreaded, in Colorado from Rep. Mike Coffman and the Senate clown car on down, is finally upon us. Now the hardest question in American politics today–whether Republicans will support the most divisive major party nominee in half a century as their standard bearer in the 2016 general election–must be answered.

And the craziest election season of our lives, at least so far, is about to begin anew.

Get More Smarter on Tuesday (May 3)

Get More SmarterEnjoy your day in the sun, Indiana. It’s time to Get More Smarter with Colorado Pols! If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example).


► Attorneys for Republican Senate candidates Robert Blaha and Ryan Frazier are in a Denver courtroom today arguing that their clients should be placed on the June 28th Primary ballot even though they failed to meet the criteria for submitting valid petition signatures to the Secretary of State’s office. Both Blaha and Frazier want more time to figure out how to bend the rules like Jon Keyser did last week (Keyser, you’ll recall, also failed to make the ballot until he got his attorneys involved).

Meanwhile, Keyser was a guest on KOA radio Monday afternoon, where he proceeded to bash the “bureaucrats” at the Secretary of State’s office.


► Republican Presidential candidate Ted Cruz is in full-out panic mode as voters head to the polls in Indiana today. From the Washington Post:

Cruz came to Indiana to try to resuscitate his flagging campaign at a pivotal moment in the Republican presidential race. But with just one day of campaigning left until Tuesday’s vote — and after a series of desperation measures — the freshman senator from Texas is on the verge of a defeat that would ravage his campaign and raise new questions about whether his mission to stop the mogul has become futile.

An NBC News-Wall Street Journal-Marist poll released Sunday showed Trump leading Cruz by 15 points in Indiana. Other recent public polls have shown Trump leading by narrower margins.

Supporters hoped that Indiana, which has similarities to other Midwestern states Cruz has won, would be able to heal the deep wounds left by Cruz’s blowout losses in six straight states. But it has been very difficult for Cruz to gain traction in the face of relentless attacks from Trump and hiccups in his own effort.

It may not be fair to say that Cruz is cracking…he’s cracked. This morning he went on a diatribe about GOP frontrunner Donald Trump, calling him a “narcissist” and a “philanderer,” among other names.


Get even more smarter after the jump…


Loan Sharks: An Incredible Political Loser

loanshark2With the Colorado House set to take up Senate Bill 16-185 tomorrow, this year’s bill to allow subprime personal lenders to jack up interest rates on larger loan amounts, the Center for Responsible Lending is out with a poll today of Coloradans’ opinions of the subprime lending industry–and whether they agree these lenders should be able to rake in even more interest on the least qualified borrowers.

No surprise: Coloradans say not just no, but oh hell no:

Raising the cost of these consumer loans is so unpopular with voters that 77% of those surveyed said they would be more likely to vote against a state legislator who voted to increase interest rates. The strongest opposition – 93% – came from voters with household incomes of $30,000 to $50,000 the voters most likely to be affected by a proposal now before the Colorado legislature.

A bill currently before the Colorado legislature would increase the interest rates that lenders could charge on all consumer loans larger than $1,000. Senate Bill 185 would increase the interest rates on most loans by over 2 percentage points. This would result in a 10% increase in the cost of these loans. The bill, pushed by OneMain, a large lender, would cause these rates to rise higher each year. Current borrowers have an average household income of $46,000.

With reference to a prior iteration of the proposal, 89% of those surveyed said they opposed raising interest rates from 28% to 36% on a $3,000 loan. The opposition was similarly strong among Republicans and Democrats and independents. Seventy-five percent of voters “strongly opposed” increasing the rates. Senate Bill 185 woud raise the rates on such loans from 28% to over 30%, and would cause rates to rise automatically over time.

Here’s the details of CRL’s survey. These numbers reveal an industry that, although they are doing a robust business in Colorado, remains deeply unpopular with the public, and garners absolutely no sympathy from their arguments that higher interest is necessary to “remain profitable.” There’s little doubt that the industry is well aware of their dubious reputation with the public, which explains why subprime lender lobbyists have run last-minute bills two years in a row in hope of limiting public awareness of what was happening.

With support somewhere in the Paris Hilton/root canal/Republican Congress abyss, no politician with a sense of self-preservation should be caught anywhere near these loan sharks. We’ll see tomorrow if that lesson is getting through in the Democratic-controlled House, where similar legislation rushed through last year on a 62-2 vote–and left a lot of Democrats making awkward excuses to angry constituents.