Friday Open Thread

"The speed of communications is wondrous to behold. It is also true that speed can multiply the distribution of information that we know to be untrue."

–Edward R. Murrow

Mark Waller: Chaps Is Nuts, But “Legislative Majorities Matter”

UPDATE: Democratic Secretary of State candidate Joe Neguse calls on Republican opponent El Paso County Clerk Wayne Williams to return a campaign donation from Gordon Klingenschmitt:

Secretary of State candidate Wayne Williams' campaign finance reports show he accepted a campaign donation from Gordon Klingenschmitt, the Republican State House candidate who recently compared Congressman Jared Polis to a terrorist group in Iraq and Syria. Many prominent Republicans have denounced his controversial statements, including Colorado GOP Chairman, Ryan Call.  Despite that, the El Paso County Republican Party, which Williams once chaired, is standing with Klingenschmitt. 

In response, Joe Neguse's campaign manager Elisabeth Mabus released the following statement, "Colorado needs a Secretary of State who will stand up for all Coloradans.  We call on Williams to return the money, publicly reject the hate filled speech and agenda of Gordon, and oppose his candidacy for the State House.  A radical like Klingenschmitt has no place in our state legislature."

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Rep. Mark Waller, Gordon Klingenschmitt.

Rep. Mark Waller, Gordon Klingenschmitt.

As Vic Vela at Colorado Community Media reports, Rep. Mark Waller, the outgoing Republican representative for Colorado House District 15 in Colorado Springs, has finally broken his silence about his nominated successor Gordon "Dr. Chaps" Klingenschmitt. Ever since Klingenschmitt won the HD-15 primary and especially since his latest over-the-top attack on Democratic Rep. Jared Polis last weekend, we've been waiting eagerly to hear what Rep. Waller has to say about the man his party has chosen to succeed him.

Waller's message to HD-15? Hold your nose and vote for "Dr. Chaps."

"Democrats like Polis want to bankrupt Christians who refuse to worship and endorse his sodomy," [Klingenschmitt] wrote. "Next he'll join ISIS in beheading Christians, but not just in Syria, right here in America."

Waller said his "11-year-old son can identify that as a hateful speech."

"I think it was horribly inappropriate to say," Waller said. "It doesn't matter if he's a person running for state representative or a person on the street. I think it's terrible to say.

"Obviously, he does not speak for me or the Republican Party."

Waller hasn't endorsed Klingenschmitt, but he wouldn't go as far as saying that he should drop out of the race – as Klingenschmitt's opponent, Democrat Lois Fornander has.

"If you're not voting for him, you're voting for the Democrat and quite honestly legislative majorities matter," Waller said. [Pols emphasis] "But that puts (House District 15 voters) in a rock and a hard place in terms of who to vote for."

We'll give Waller credit for at least acknowledging what Klingenschmitt said is not appropriate. That's better than the chairman of the El Paso County Republican Party Jeffrey Hays, who flat-out told reporters that Klingenschmitt "is part of our team" and that he "represents a whole host of views the Republican Party will have." But the bottom line seems little different–"legislative majorities matter." There's nothing in this statement that will encourage "Chaps" to do something smart for his party (not to mention morally) like withdraw from this race, and alongside with Hays' explicit support, Mark Waller appears to be giving tacit clearance for the Republican faithful in HD-15 to vote for Gordon Klingenschmitt.

House District 15 is heavily Republican and Klingenschmitt is still favored to win, in spite of his recent comments.

Because this is a solidly Republican district, it has never been a serious component of Democratic House strategy–and if it were to fall to a Democrat this year due to Klingenschmitt's implosion, the GOP would almost certainly retake the seat in 2016. If anything, that makes it doubly strange that local Republicans are so reluctant to speak out against Klingenschmitt. Is it because Klingenschmitt could damage other Republicans on his way down, like friend and political associate Sen. Bernie Herpin? Or could it be that "Dr. Chaps'" extreme rhetoric just doesn't upset social conservatives all that much?

In terms of damage outside HD-15, the latter seems like the bigger problem.

Immigration Protesters Confront Paul Ryan In Thornton

Hey there, Coloradah.

Hey there, Coloradah.

Roll Call's Humberto Sanchez reports–none other than 2012 vice presidential nominee and conservative icon Rep. Paul Ryan was in town yesterday, for a book signing at the Barnes & Noble bookstore in Thornton! We hadn't heard anything about this up to now, but Rep. Ryan has been on a relatively low-key book tour throughout the August recess.

Not low key enough, apparently:

Ryan was confronted by Greisa Martinez, a national organizer with United We Dream. Martinez and three companions bought books and waited in line for Ryan. But once Martinez reached the front of the line, she asked Ryan questions about the lack of congressional action on immigration.

“I do not understand why you want to deport me and my mother? Why didn’t your party pass immigration reform when you had the opportunity,” she loudly questioned, mentioning the deferred action for childhood arrivals program. “Rep. Ryan, My name is Greisa Martinez I am DACA-mented and I am hear to stay!” One of her cohorts unfurled a banner and the store manager asked her to leave.

Ryan told her he wasn’t taking questions, and initially kept interacting with other book buyers, but ultimately ducked into a back room until police came and escorted Martinez out of the store…

Being a well-known leader in the Republican-controlled U.S. House, which if you haven't heard enjoys popularity ratings somewhere in the vicinity of traffic jams and root canals, we suppose it's not a surprise that Ryan wasn't in Colorado yesterday to campaign with fellow Republican Congressmen Cory Gardner or Mike Coffman. Gardner and Coffman are both locked in tight swing races, running as hard as they can to the middle–ground that Paul Ryan, safe to say, doesn't occupy.

Ryan told CQ Roll Call he sees similar outbursts in states with major political contests, such Florida and here in Colorado. The Senate race between Republican Rep. Cory Gardner and Democratic Sen. Mark Udall could decide control of the chamber, and is rated Tilts Democratic by The Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call.

“I didn’t get it in Texas; I didn’t get it in Oklahoma,” Ryan said in an interview after the signing. [Pols emphasis]

There a pretty good argument to be made here, folks: if Paul Ryan wants to help his party to victory this November, he should consider sticking to states like Texas and Oklahoma.

D’Oh! Republicans Looking at Serious Campaign Finance Violation

Kit Roupe Oops

Illegal coordination? In-kind campaign contribution? Take your pick!

Colorado Republicans have had quite a bit of trouble with campaign finance violations during this election cycle, and the hits just keep on coming. The variety of violations has been curious — from Tim Neville's open courting of anonymous donations to Secretary of State candidate Wayne Williams accepting obviously illegal donations — but sometimes the biggest problems can come from simple sloppiness.

Take a look at this recent mail piece in support of Republican Kit Roupe in HD-17 (Colorado Springs). The mailer comes from the Colorado Leadership Fund, which is a GOP "soft side" political 527 committee formed to help elect Republican candidates to the State House.

The problem here should be fairly obvious to the politically-astute reader: Side two of the mailer directs readers to CatherineRoupe.com, which is the official campaign website for Kit Roupe. Official campaign materials produced or created by the candidate's campaign falls into the category of "hard side" campaign finances.

It is illegal for the "soft side" and "hard side" to coordinate together, of course, but this would likely qualify as an "in-kind" contribution to Roupe's campaign (because it promotes her official campaign website). By making this "in-kind" contribution, the Colorado Leadership Fund (CLF) just inadvertently changed its legal definition from a non-profit "527" committee to an official political committee.

Why does that matter? Without getting too technical here, "527" committees operate under different rules as political committees. By making this unsolicited "in-kind" contribution to Roupe's campaign and changing its legal definition to a political committee, every contribution the CLF has received in the last 180 days (and henceforth) that exceeds the $550 limit for State House candidates is now a campaign finance violation subject to penalties that are 2-5 times the amount of the violation. Not only that, but the CLF probably now has to file regular contribution and expenditure reports that are much more frequent — and much more transparent — than anything that is done through a "527" committee.

This is a silly, silly, silly mistake that may prove incredibly costly to Republicans even if Secretary of State Scott Gessler lets them off the hook for campaign finance penalties. The bigger issue for the GOP is that it now has a serious credibility problem with major donors who are most definitely not interested in having a big spotlight shone in their eyes.

Republicans have been playing fast and loose with campaign finance rules during the entire 2014 election season, and it's possible that this particular problem will have crossover effect with the GOP's shiny new "soft side" organization charged with winning control of the State Senate.

The GOP had little hope of winning control of the State House this year, but we're guessing that Republican Reps. Libby Szabo and Brian DelGrosso won't be put in charge of anything more important than making coffee in 2016.

 

View the full PDF of the Roupe mailer here: Page 1 (KitRoupe-Mail1) and Page 2 (KitRoupe-Mail2).

 

Colorado Republicans Celebrate China’s Quickie Executions

Execution in China.

Execution in China.

​Debate over the death penalty in Colorado continues this election year, as Republican work to make Gov. John Hickenlooper's granting of a temporary reprieve to "Chuck E. Cheese Killer" Nathan Dunlap a campaign issue. A recent interview leaked by a conservative news outlet, as one example, quotes Hickenlooper as considering a full commutation of Dunlap's sentence–along with the governor's growing belief that the death penalty in Colorado (as elsewhere) is no longer a just punishment.

Republicans, aware that this is a divisive issue and that polling shows risk for Hickenlooper's new position, have pounced on the death penalty as a way to divorce independent voters from an otherwise likable candidate. Depending on how you spin it, Hickenlooper's temporary reprieve to Dunlap while he deliberates the efficacy and morality of capital punishment can be portrayed as thoughtful statesmanship or bumbling indecision. Naturally in an election year, Republican opponents are 100% of the opinion that it's the latter.

Yesterday, the Republican news site Complete Colorado reprinted an op-ed from former GOP. Gov. Bill Owens, written in 1993 not long after the Chuck E. Cheese murders. GOP social media surrogates were quick to spread it around:

But when we actually started reading Owens' 1993 Rocky Mountain News guest column, which we had never heard of before yesterday, the "shivers down our spine" were likely for reasons other than GOP operative Kelly Maher's.

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Mike Coffman Explains Why Koch Brothers Story is Important

Riccardi-Coffman-Tweet

Associated Press reporter Nick Riccardi didn’t miss the relevance of Rep. Mike Coffman’s donor-access admission.

Media outlets from across the country are jumping on the leaked audio from a secret Koch Brothers retreat this summer in which a few high-profile Republican candidates — including Rep. Cory Gardner — are heard getting all gooey in praising the infamous Kochs for their financial commitment to Tea Party and Republican politics. But before you dismiss this as another round of nonsense partisan politics, there's a very real reason why this story is so important (and why it is getting so much attention): Republicans have been very open about the quid pro quo that is taking place between big donors and politicians.

Exasperated Mike Coffman

Did I say that out loud? Aw, crap.

Check out this clip of Rep. Mike Coffman from a CD-6 candidate debate in Aurora on Aug. 15, in which the incumbent berates challenger Andrew Romanoff over the latter's refusal to accept PAC money…while making the clear point that Coffman donors get preferential treatment (full clip after the jump — fast forward to 00:45 for the specific statement). That campaign donors are often granted more access to politicians is nothing groundbreaking — but talking about it so openly is pretty odd.

Coffman's re-election campaign has benefited greatly from a heavy dose of television ads paid for by Americans for Prosperity, the political organization created and funded by the Koch Brothers. Not only that, but David Koch himself had already maxed out to Coffman's campaign before the end of April (PDF document).

Whether it's Gardner doing the Koch stroke, or Coffman using General Dynamics as an example of a donor who didn't get their money's worth, the key here is that Republican elected officials are openly discussing the fact that they are going to listen to their top donors first and foremost — leaving regular ol' Coloradans somewhere down a very long list of priorities.

As the liberal group ProgressNow asked in a press release this morning, the critical question isn't about where these donations came from; what matters is what donors like the Koch Brothers have been promised in return for their largesse.

 

(more…)

Colorado GOP’s “Groundbreaking” New Website: Epic Fail

UPDATE #3: In a separate post to the Denver Post's Spot Blog, the Denver Post's Jesse Paul belatedly reports the Colorado GOP's accidental use of photos of Utah and Arizona on their "local" research website:

The site, set to go live Thursday but already accessible, features a photo of the Maroon Bells and the state’s capitol building. However, two other images originally posted featured the Colorado River in Arizona and Monument Valley on the Utah-Arizona border.

The image of the Colorado River in Arizona was captioned, “Working to restore Republican values to Colorado.”

By about 2:45 p.m. on Wednesday, the out-of-state photos had been replaced with scenic photos of Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs and a ski area.

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UPDATE #2: To be fair, it does appear that one of our readers was chastising the Colorado GOP for using D.C.-based consultants for Ryan Call's "brain child" website about an hour before that detail was publicized by GOP operative Kelly Maher. Credit where due, ClubTwitty.

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UPDATE: Local Republican operative Kelly Maher provides an unintentional clue as to the origin of this site, which the Denver Post falsely billed as Colorado GOP chairman Ryan Call's "brain child." Apparently, Call's brain lives in a Washington, D.C. consultant shop:

Something tells us she wasn't supposed to Tweet that! But there you have it, folks.

—–

The Denver Post's Jesse Paul has an absolutely doting story up about the Colorado Republican Party Independent Expenditure Committee's new website, meant to "intended to help distribute political opposition research and raise funds." Described as the "brain child" of state party chairman Ryan Call, apparently local Republicans are very, very proud of this:

ColoradoCore.org acts as an organizational tool for both Colorado-based and national Republican groups involved with the 2014 state elections and beyond as both a fundraising tool and information hub. The idea is to have readily available, easily disseminated information about liberal candidates that others, as well as those running the website, can use to create ads.

"With an eye towards longevity, and in understanding that all politics is local politics, our focus is on winning a majority in the Colorado State Senate in 2014, in addition to targeting statewide races," said Lexi Effron, a spokeswoman for the site's organizing group, Colorado Republican Independent Expenditure Committee.

The site is rolling out with opposition research on seven state senate candidates in districts spanning Colorado that "internal research reveals to be competitive and winnable by a Republican."

The group — which at its heart is focused on unearthing campaign expenditures — is a new tool for the Colorado Republican Committee. Effron says the new site is chairman Ryan Call's "brain child." [Pols emphasis]

Our first thought visiting the new ColoradoCore.org website is that its design is rather…well, clunky–big images that push text content below the fold, and no easy means to accomplish simple modern tasks like social media sharing. Not exactly a "best of breed" design from a commercial web design sense.

And then we noticed something else: several of those big, clunky slideshow graphics don't depict Colorado.

Principles

See this image? It's #3 on the Colorado GOP IE website's slideshow. We're pretty sure that anybody who has lived in the American Southwest for any appreciable length of time knows this is Monument Valley–in Utah.

Values

"Working to restore Republican values to Colorado?" By the look of it, they're working to restore Republican values to a canyon in Arizona. Because that's where this photo was taken!

The moral of this story? The same as it is every time a local Republican candidate or organization tries to pass off what's obviously the work of some out-of-state consultant shop as locally relevant–only to get burned by something ridiculous. We discover that it's not local, it's not terribly relevant, and apparently, locals who should have given this site a cursory once-over before the Denver Post launches the site with an obliging story couldn't be bothered.

Which makes it very difficult to take this new website seriously, even with a really great puff piece.

Cory Gardner Loves Him Some Koch Brothers

Koch Brothers and Cory Gardner

Cory Gardner is a big fan of David and Charles Koch…though he’d prefer to keep that quiet.

UPDATE: This story is being picked up everywhere, from Time magazine to NBC News and everywhere in between.

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It's no secret that the billionaire Koch Brothers (David and Charles) are the proud parents of the Tea Party, Americans for Prosperity, and major contributors to all things Republican. It's also no secret that Democrats have been raising significant amounts of money using the Koch Brothers as Bogeymen, so Republican politicians have been careful about associating themselves too closely with the Koch family. A new audio recording has emerged in which Republican Senate candidates such as Cory Gardner heap praise on the Kochs during a super-secret conference in California this summer.

As the Huffington Post reports:

Three top Republican Senate candidates heaped praise on the political network built by the conservative billionaires Charles and David Koch during a secretive conference held by the brothers this past summer, according to audio of the event.

Iowa state Sen. Joni Ernst and Arkansas Rep. Tom Cotton directly credited donors present at the June 16 retreat in Dana Point, California, for propelling them forward. Colorado Rep. Cory Gardner told attendees that his race would likely be decided by the presence of "third party" money — an obvious pitch for generosity from the well-heeled crowd…

…Audio of the event, held at the St. Regis Monarch Beach resort, was obtained by The Undercurrent and shared exclusively with The Huffington Post. In it, the three Republican candidates, appearing on a panel titled "The Senate: A Window of Policy Opportunity for Principled Leaders," speak for several minutes each about the state of their respective races. Because the discussion took place in mid-June, some of the comments are dated. In addition, some of the audio was redacted to preserve the anonymity of the individual who provided it — "a source who was present at the event," per an official with The Undercurrent — and to remove sections with too much cross-talk. A separate source, who helped organize the retreat, confirmed each candidate's participation.

Getting exposed for loving up the Koch Brothers isn't a critical wound for Gardner, of course, but it will hurt his chances of beating Democratic Sen. Mark Udall in November–not to mention making hypocrites of anyone who brings up, for example, big Democratic funder Tom Steyer. As we've said over and over again in this space, Colorado voters have shown that they are more interested in supporting the statewide candidate who appears to be closest to the political center, and Gardner absolutely can't afford to appear any more partisan than he is already viewed. And while close ties to the Koch Brothers may not be a deciding factor for Unaffiliated voters, Gardner's cozy relationship with the coal barons will be incredibly helpful for Democrats as they try to motivate the base to get out the vote.

Sorry, Ryan Call: El Paso County GOP Stands By “Dr. Chaps”

UPDATE: In a statement earlier today, Democratic CD-5 candidate Irv Halter calls on Rep. Doug Lamborn to condemn Gordon Klingenschmitt's remarks:

“Gordon Klingenschmitt offended Coloradans from both parties and all walks of life with his offensive and out of touch comment comparing a U.S. Congressman to ISIS,” said Halter.  “His statement shows that he has no interest in being a leader in El Paso County who will attract businesses to our region.  Instead, it is clear that he will be an embarrassment.  I also believe his so-called apology was less than adequate from someone who purports to be a man of character who, like me, graduated from the Air Force Academy.  I ask Congressman Lamborn, who has appeared on Klingenschmitt’s online show, to join me in condemning his remarks as inappropriate for political discourse and insulting to our U.S. Congress.”

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Colorado GOP Chairman Ryan Call, GOP HD-15 nominee Gordon Klingenschmitt.

Colorado GOP Chairman Ryan Call, GOP HD-15 nominee Gordon Klingenschmitt.

KOAA-TV's Greg Dingrando reports, the El Paso County Republican Party is standing up for embattled Colorado House candidate Gordon "Dr. Chaps" Klingenschmitt in the wake of his outlandish attack on Rep. Jared Polis last weekend, suggesting that Polis would "join ISIS in beheading Christians" for…actually, it doesn't really matter why he thought that statement was justifiable.

Reports KOAA-TV, local Republicans who know "Dr. Chaps" best are standing by him:

"Democrats like Polis want to bankrupt Christians who refuse to worship and endorse his sodomy. Next he'll join ISIS in beheading Christians…" said Klingenschmitt.

It's a comment that has Democrats shocked and appalled yet county Republicans are still defending him…

The Colorado State Republicans are denouncing him from the party, but El Paso County Republicans are standing by him. [Pols emphasis]

"He's part of our team. Whether we agree with him or disagree with him," said El Paso County Republican Chairman Jeffrey Hays…

"They're using that as a smoke screen to get people's attention away from their bad policies of a constant effort to control people," said Hays.

He said it's a smoke screen Republicans aren't afraid to fight right along side Klingenschmitt.

"I want to win. I believe in value of us winning. He represents a whole host of views the Republican Party will have [Pols emphasis] so absolutely we want him to win," said Hays.

While we pick our jaws up off the floor, read again from our friends at Right Wing Watch:

Just let that sink in: a man who thinks that "Obamacare causes cancer," that the Bible commands people to own guns in order to "defend themselves against left wing crazies," and that the FCC is allowing demonic spirits to "molest and visually rape your children" is now a Republican candidate for office. [Pols emphasis]

Not just a candidate, the GOP's primary election winner to succeed Rep. Mark Waller in HD-15. A candidate who, in the view of El Paso County GOP Chairman Jeffrey Hays, "represents a whole host of views the Republican Party will have." We haven't heard from other local political figures close to Klingenschmitt, like Sen. Bernie Herpin, but at some point a lack of condemnation is reasonably tantamount to support–especially as the story blows up nationally. In any event, we should be able to accept the word of the county GOP chairman as official.

Right?

Last Monday, Colorado Republican Party Chairman Ryan Call sort-of denounced Klingenschmitt's comments, while making it clear that he wasn't going to let those conniving Democrats turn this into another "Todd Akin" situation–you know, "trying to brand all Republicans." Because obviously, "his views do not reflect my personal position or" (this is the important part) "the position of the party." This isn't the first time that Call has had to condemn a Republican elected official's indefensible remarks (see: Marble, Vicki and Saine, Lori), but it seemed for a moment like he was working from a better prepared script.

Ryan Call, call your office.

Wednesday Open Thread

"To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment."

–Ralph Waldo Emerson

2014 Will Not Be a “Wave Election”

Bush wave

No, not that kind of wave.

Our friends at "The Fix" produced an interesting list today titled, "The 10 Things We Know 10 Weeks Before Election Day." While there are several interesting points on the list, the one that stood out most to us is #2:

This isn't a wave election. Yet.  The last two midterm elections — 2006 and 2010 — were waves, elections totally dominated by the national issue environment to the detriment of individual candidates trying to swim against the tide. (Terrible water metaphor alert!) That doesn't look like it's happening just yet.  The generic Congressional ballot — "if the election were held today would you prefer a Republican or Democratic controlled Congress?" — shows Democrats with a narrow one-point edge, a far cry from the five point (and building) margin that Republicans had at this time in the 2010 election. And, in Senate races, candidates like Mark Pryor (Ark.) and Mark Begich (Alaska) are hanging in races that, if the national environment was worse, would already be lost.

It has been awhile since we heard much talk about another midterm "wave election" similar to the 2010 version that gave Republicans control of the U.S. House of Representatives. Earlier this year, Republicans were giddy about the prospect of another wave that could enable them to pick up the Senate in 2014, but this election cycle looks and feels much different than 2010. Remember how much media coverage was given to Congressional town hall meetings in August of that year? Republicans may be more excited about the election than Democrats in general, but 2014 definitely does not have the same political fervor that enveloped 2010.

It's also worth noting that the 2010 national wave was significantly less impactful for Republicans here in Colorado. While Cory Gardner and Scott Tipton did capture seats held by Democrats (Rep. Betsy Markey and Rep. John Salazar, respectively), both CD-4 and CD-3 were not what any political handicapper would have called Democratic seats; Gardner and Tipton essentially won back seats that the GOP should have held anyway. In the 2010 Senate race, first-time candidate Michael Bennet defeated Republican Ken Buck in a race that Buck could have — and some say should have — won for Republicans. In CD-7, incumbent Democratic Rep. Ed Perlmutter absolutely destroyed GOP challenger Ryan Frazier, winning re-election by a 12-point margin.

"The Fix" hedges their bet about 2014 by saying that this "not yet" a wave election, but the "not yet" is unnecessary. If 2014 was indeed shaping up to be a "wave election," we would already be feeling it by now.

“Dr. Chaps’” Opponent Calls For Withdrawal From HD-15 Race

UPDATE: The Washington Post's Abby Ohlheiser keeps the national spotlight on "Dr. Chaps":

A Republican nominee for a Colorado statehouse seat responded to criticism on Monday over his claim that U.S. Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.) would “join ISIS in beheading Christians.”

Gordon Klingenschmitt, a longtime conservative figure in the state, said in the video embedded below that the statement e-mailed to supporters was just “hyperbole” and that “some Democrats do not have a sense of humor” before offering up an apology to Polis…

In his apology video, Klingenschmitt maintained that he thought policies supported by Polis would “persecute” Christian business owners in the state, adding: “I would never compare you to the ISIS rebels who behead Christians, right? Of course, you would never go in for something like that.”

The state Republican party distanced itself from Klingenschmitt’s remarks, and not for the first time…

Meanwhile, local progressives join the call for Klingenschmitt to withdraw from the HD-15 race:

"Gordon Klingenschmitt's extreme homophobic slurs have no place in any civil discussion of American politics," said ProgressNow Colorado executive director Amy Runyon-Harms. "There is absolutely nothing that can justify these outlandish statements, certainly nothing in Rep. Jared Polis' record of fighting for equality for all Americans."

"Like it or not, Klingenschmitt is the Republican Party's nominee for Colorado House District 15," said Runyon-Harms. "His extreme rhetoric dishonors not just the Republican Party, but other Republican politicians who have endorsed his campaign either directly or indirectly. Sen. Bernie Herpin, who invited Klingenschmitt to deliver a prayer at his recall victory party, should disavow Klingenschmitt–or explain why he will not."

"For years, Colorado conservatives have turned a blind eye to irresponsible extremism," said Runyon-Harms. "Now, one of their worst offenders is receiving national attention just before a major election. Is Gordon Klingenschmitt the new face of the Colorado Republican Party? If Klingenschmitt refuses to withdraw, and his Republican colleagues refuse to ask him to do so, he must be."

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Gordon Klingenschmitt.

Gordon Klingenschmitt.

​As the Colorado Springs Gazette's Megan Schrader reports, the story of GOP HD-15 nominee Gordon "Dr. Chaps" Klingenschmitt, whose every pronouncement since winning his Colorado House primary has been an absolute disaster for the Republican brand. They were before, of course, but now he's official. Klingenschmitt's Democratic opponent Lois Fornander is now calling for "Dr. Chaps" to pull out of the race:

Lois Fornander is calling for her opponent for the state House of Representatives to withdraw from the election after what she calls "a homophobic attack on Congressman Jared Polis."

Fornander, a Democrat, is set to face Republican Gordon Klingenschmitt in November for the eastern Colorado Springs and El Paso County House District 15 seat…

"Such a statement is far beyond 'hyperbole,' it is inflammatory, irresponsible and repulsive," said Fornander in an email. "Klingenschmitt's attempt to pass off this reference to an ISIS beheading as an attempt at humor is not only disingenuous, it's perverse."

It's interesting to see Fornander call for Klingenschmitt to exit the race, since arguably "Dr. Chaps" represents Fornanders best shot at actually winning the safe Republican HD-15 seat this November. We assume that Fornander and those advising her have considered this, and simply concluded that calling for Klingenschmitt to withdraw from the HD-15 race is the altruistically right thing to do.

On the other hand, there's really nothing that Fornander or Republicans can do to force Klingenschmitt out. As we learned when Rep. Jared Wright's campaign in 2012 went off the rails, leading to not-so-subtle attempts by fellow Republicans to get him out of the HD-54 race, safe Republican seats like HD-15 leave candidates with little to fear no matter what they say or do–within reason, of course, but neither Wright's embarrassing career and financial troubles nor Klingenschmitt's penchant for bug-eyed insanity appear to rise to the proverbial level.

And that could be a problem for Republicans in more than just this one House seat. The next logical step in the Klingenschmitt story, which hasn't been anywhere near fully developed, is his close ties to GOP SD-11 Senator Bernie Herpin. Herpin's recall victory last yearover Sen. John Morse in a district that leans Democratic has made him a major target this year. Herpin's ties to Klingenschmitt include a genuine "Dr. Chaps" prayer at Herpin's victory party, and the subsequent endorsement of Klingenschmitt's House campaign by Herpin's Pikes Peak Firearms Coalition.

Even before this latest, there was a vast wealth of "Dr. Chaps" lunacy on video to make Herpin dearly regret it.