Video: Hickenlooper Plays The Banjo at Red Rocks

hickbanjo

From last night's concert of Old Crow Medicine Show at Red Rocks Amphitheater. Did you know Gov. John Hickenlooper could play the banjo? Because we didn't.

Love him or not, you've got to admit that's pretty cool.

Senate Q-Poll: Gardner 44%, Udall 42%

Mark Udall, Cory Gardner.

Mark Udall, Cory Gardner.

Today's poll from Quinnipiac University of the Colorado U.S. Senate race, like the Q-poll released released yesterday showing Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper and GOP challenger Bob Beauprez in a statistical dead heat, puts Democrats on notice that a long, hard election season most likely awaits:

The closely-watched U.S. Senate race is tied with 44 percent for U.S. Rep. Cory Gardner, the Republican challenger, and 42 percent for Sen. Mark Udall, the Democratic incumbent, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released today. Another 10 percent are undecided. 

This compares to the results of an April 24 survey by the independent Quinnipiac (KWIN-uh-pe-ack) University showing Sen. Udall at 45 percent to 44 percent for Rep. Gardner…

Colorado voters give Udall a negative 42 – 46 percent job approval rating, his lowest net approval ever and down from a 42 – 42 percent split in April. Voters say 49 – 40 percent that Udall does not deserve to be reelected, tying his lowest score on that measure…

"This race shifts back and forth a point or two and remains too close to call. There's a whole lot at stake as Sen. Mark Udall runs neck and neck with U.S. Rep. Cory Gardner, the GOP challenger, in a marquee race that could tip the balance of the Senate," said Tim Malloy, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University poll.

While not the direction Democrats want to see the polls moving in, it should be noted that the shift in this poll from Quinnipiac's April survey is considerably smaller than the putative swing Beauprez has enjoyed in the gubernatorial race. Both races are much too close to call, but Udall's race has remained locked in a tighter range. Also, although we consider Quinnipiac as reliable a pollster as the next, this might be a good time to remember that Quinnipiac consistently showed Mitt Romney ahead of Barack Obama in Colorado in 2012. Obama carried the state by five points. Like Beauprez, there is a large body of negative material on Gardner that voters have not been exposed to yet, whereas Udall has been getting pummeled over a course of years as an incumbent Senator. The poll shows that Udall has a solid advantage over Gardner on reproductive choice and other "issues important to women," which suggests that the one issue Gardner has taken fire on, abortion, has hurt him. Now it's time for Democrats to segue into the other stuff in the oppo book.

The biggest winners in this poll? Reporters who'd prefer to call a horse race instead of unpacking the issues. It's shallower and easier, and it looks like that's going to be the narrative for the time being.

Local Control Special Session Officially Dead; Voters To Decide

Photo courtesy Rep. Jared Polis

Photo courtesy Rep. Jared Polis

As 9NEWS' Brandon Rittiman reports, Gov. John Hickenlooper is giving up on the idea of a special session of the legislature this year to pass legislation giving local communities greater control over oil and gas drilling. That means two measures supported by Rep. Jared Polis to increase setbacks from drilling and establish an "environmental bill of rights" for Coloradans, are likely a go for this November's ballot:

Talks aimed at brokering a compromise to allow increased local control over oil and gas drilling operations have failed, Gov. John Hickenlooper's (D-Colorado) office reported Wednesday.

The governor's office says there will be no special session – as Hickenlooper had hoped – to pass a compromise law on fracking.

"Despite our best efforts and those of other willing partners," the governor said in a written statement. "We have not been able to secure the broader stakeholder support necessary to pass bipartisan legislation in a special session."

That news all but ensures Colorado voters will have the opportunity to weigh in with a statewide vote on fracking this year, a follow-up to local ballot questions which have halted the practice in four Front Range communities.

With the special session now dead, as many observers expected, Sen. Mark Udall was quick to announce his opposition to the ballot measures:

"Fracking can be done safely and responsibly," Udall wrote shortly after the governor's announcement. "I believe that Colorado can and must do better, which is why I oppose these one-size-fits-all restrictions."

Undaunted, Rep. Polis announces he is moving ahead:

“I have said from the beginning of this debate that my one goal is to find a solution that will allow my constituents to live safely in their homes, free from the fear of declining property values or unnecessary health risks, but also that will allow our state to continue to benefit from the oil and gas boom that brings jobs and increased energy security,” Polis said.

“I stand by this goal, I am confident that the majority of Coloradoans share this goal, and I am committed to continuing to work to protect our Colorado values.”

FOX 31's Eli Stokols reports that the American Petroleum Institute, which plans to spend a great deal of money fighting these initiatives, hardened opposition among Republicans and the oil and gas industry against a compromise with a poll indicating they can beat the ballot measures. On the other side, proponents have polling that says the measures can pass–even after respondents hear the industry's arguments against the measures.

Stokols speculates once again about the measures "potentially jeopardizing the reelection of Hickenlooper and Sen. Mark Udall — and, by extension, Democratic control of the senate." As we've said previously, that is a dubious suggestion at best. We also don't believe that high-profile Democrats steering clear of these initiatives hurt either the initiatives or their re-election campaigns–there's a lot more driving those campaigns than this one issue, and by disavowing the initiatives early, there's nothing to use against Udall or Hickenlooper even if they do go badly. As for Rep. Polis? The FOX 31 story a week ago, trying to cast CD-2 Republican candidate George Leing as a credible opponent–which even most Democrats opposed to Polis on this issue found laughable–makes it pretty clear he doesn't have much to worry about. That said, we expect the industry will do whatever they can to extract a cost from Polis for his "impertinence."

In November, all of these assumptions will meet their ultimate test–and somebody's going to be wrong.

Lakewood City Council Punts on Pot; Question Goes to Ballot

As the Denver Post reports, the Lakewood City Council voted 7-4 on Monday to ask voters to decide on whether to allow retail marijuana stores…even though voters have already made their voice clear on this issue:

In a room packed with opponents of any retail marijuana operations, Ward 1 Councilwoman Ramey Johnson warned that marijuana is a $1 billion a year industry and the "gates of hell will open" with outside money influencing Lakewood voters on the November ballot question.

Lakewood voters approved Amendment 64, which legalized marijuana possession and allowed for retail sales, 60-40 in 2012…[Pols emphasis]

Mayor Bob Murphy said he voted "no" on Amendment 64.

He supported the November ballot question and said it would answer once and for all the will of the voters: Were they voting strictly for recreational use with no desire for retail stores? Or were they saying "yes" to both?

"All we're doing is asking voters, and that's democracy," Murphy said. "And in my opinion, that's what we were elected to do. I think it's our duty to clarify the issue with voters."

Monday's discussion by the Lakewood City Council reminds us of using a credit/debit card to buy groceries or other items; how many times do you need to answer "Are You Sure?" before you can sign the receipt and be on your way?

Obviously there is a generational gap related to this discussion in Lakewood — witness Ramey Johnson's ridiculous hand-wringing about "industry" lobbyists — but it's disingenuous for the city council to punt on an issue that they are elected to make decisions about. Whether or not you agree with Amendment 64, the issue has already been decided by voters and should not be going to the ballot again. Lakewood's City Council should be working on implementing Amendment 64, not on asking voters if they were really, really, really sure that they want recreational marijuana sales in Lakewood. With respect to Lakewood Mayor Bob Murphy, putting questions on the ballot is absolutely not the primary job of the city council, nor should it be. Putting this issue on the ballot in November is a waste of time and money; if the vote comes back largely in favor of recreational marijuana, which is likely, then this entire exercise will have been pointless.

This non-decision is particularly absurd when you consider that nearby cities such as Denver, Wheat Ridge, Mountain View, and Edgewater are already moving forward with retail marijuana operations. To whatever extent there may be a negative impact on the community from recreational marijuana sales, restricting it from Lakewood is not going to keep it out of Lakewood. The only thing that Lakewood would not receive is tax revenue from recreational marijuana sales; residents of Lakewood who want to buy marijuana will just drive a few more miles and then bring their purchase back home.

There are certainly plenty of people who disagree with the idea of legalizing marijuana, but that ship sailed a long time ago. The Lakewood City Council should be working on implementing the law instead of asking the same questions again and again.

Gardner Defends Federal “Personhood” By Making Stuff Up

UPDATE: Media critic Jason Salzman arrives at the same conclusion.

The Life at Conception Act aims to redefine the definition of a person in the Fourteenth Amendment, and apply the 14th Amendment’s protections to zygotes, hence banning all abortion, even for rape, as well as common forms of birth control that endanger, or even potentially endanger, fertilized eggs. It would give legal protections to fertilized eggs. In a word, personhood.

Reporters should not let Gardner, or his spokespeople, mislead the public about the aim of the federal personhood bill that he co-sponsored last year. [Pols emphasis]

—–

Rep. Cory Gardner (R).

Rep. Cory Gardner (R).

The Denver Post's Mark Matthews buries the lede in today's story about the issue of birth control in the U.S. Senate race, but nonetheless delivers a bombshell. After weeks of attacks, GOP U.S. Senate candidate Cory Gardner finally attempts to defend his continued sponsorship of the federal Life at Conception Act in Congress after having disavowed his longstanding support for the "Personhood" abortion ban initiatives in Colorado:

Gardner supported personhood in Colorado, but he said in March that he no longer backed the approach — calling it a "bad idea" because of the "fact that it restricts contraception."

…Not that Udall's campaign is letting him off the hook. They point to Gardner's continued sponsorship of similar personhood legislation in Congress as evidence his views haven't changed.

In response, a Gardner spokesman said the federal bill is different than the Colorado initiatives. "The federal proposal in question simply states that life begins at conception, as most pro-life Americans believe, with no change to contraception laws as Senator Udall falsely alleges," Siciliano said. [Pols emphasis]

We're pretty sure that Gardner's spokesman just badly screwed his boss. Let's compare, as we have in the past, the language of the federal Life at Conception Act abortion ban legislation and the Colorado Personhood intiatives. H.R. 1091's pertinent language reads like this:

The terms "human person" and "human being" include each and every member of the species homo sapiens at all stages of life, including the moment of fertilization, [Pols emphasis] cloning, or other moment at which an individual member of the human species comes into being.

And here's the text of 2008's Amendment 48, the Colorado Personhood abortion ban ballot measure:

Person defined. AS USED IN SECTIONS 3, 6, AND 25 OF ARTICLE II OF THE STATE CONSTITUTION, THE TERMS "PERSON" OR "PERSONS" SHALL INCLUDE ANY HUMAN BEING FROM THE MOMENT OF FERTILIZATION. [Pols emphasis]

As anyone who has followed this issue knows, it is the language conferring rights from "the moment of fertilization" that would have the additional consequence of outlawing certain commonly used forms of birth control–the ones the pro-life community considers "abortifacient." This is the "unintended consequence" Gardner cited when he told reporters he had abandoned his prior support for the Colorado Personhood measures. Despite that, Gardner remained a sponsor of the Life at Conception Act in Congress, and today we finally learn that he has no intention of removing himself as a sponsor.

The problem is simple: Gardner is making a distinction that does not exist. There is nothing in the language of the Life at Conception Act that would treat birth control differently than the Colorado Personhood initiatives. Either Gardner doesn't realize that, in which case he looks clueless, or he does realize it–and is hoping to lie his way out of an irreconcilable contradiction.

Folks, we don't think Gardner is clueless.

Whiplash: New Q-Poll, Beauprez 44%, Hickenlooper 43%

hickskydive

After yesterday's poll from NBC/Marist reassured Colorado Democrats with apparent growing leads in the gubernatorial and U.S. Senate races, a new poll out from Quinnipiac University today restores a healthy sense of fear:

Despite stronger voter optimism about Colorado's economy than found in many states, the race for governor is tied, with 43 percent for Democratic incumbent John Hickenlooper and 44 percent for former U.S. Rep. Bob Beauprez, the Republican challenger, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released today. 

Voters give Gov. Hickenlooper a split job approval rating, with 48 percent approving and 46 percent disapproving, compared to a 52 – 39 percent approval rating in an April 23 survey by the independent Quinnipiac (KWIN-uh-pe-ack) University. 

Hickenlooper does not deserve reelection, voters say 48 – 42 percent, down from a positive 47 – 43 percent support in April. 

The gender gap is wide today as men back Beauprez 48 – 37 percent, while women back Hickenlooper 48- 40 percent. Hickenlooper leads 90 – 4 percent among Democrats, while Beauprez takes Republicans 86 – 7 percent. Independent voters are divided with 41 percent for Beauprez and 40 percent for Hickenlooper. 

In another split, 43 percent of voters have a favorable opinion of the governor, with 42 percent unfavorable, down from 51 – 37 percent favorable in April. Beauprez gets a 31 – 25 percent favorability rating, with 43 percent who don't know enough about him to form an opinion, compared to 52 percent who didn't know enough about him in April.

Clearly a significant move from Quinnipiac's last poll of the Colorado gubernatorial race, when Gov. John Hickenlooper was beating Bob Beauprez by a comfortable nine-point margin. But what's the reason? Speculation we've heard ranges from consolidation of support for Beauprez among conservatives after the primary to fresh negatives for Hickenlooper from his gaffe-laden comments to county sheriffs about the gun safety bills passed last year.

Looking ahead in this race, though, we see major problems for Beauprez in the very large percentage of voters who don't know enough about him to form an opinion. That vacuum is going to get filled, and there's a vast body of highly damaging material on Beauprez to fill it with–as we've been reporting in this space for months. It's arguable that the only reason Beauprez appears competitive today is that Beauprez's record has not been reported accurately by the press so far–witness the ridiculous story right after the primary in the Denver Post about what a "mainstream moderate" Beauprez is. Once the public learns about Beauprez's civil war rhetoric, his "birther" speculation about President Barack Obama, the "hoax" of climate change, his Tom Tancredo-style immigration views, and much more–it remains our view that Beauprez has nowhere to go in this race but down.

To ensure that outcome, it's time for Democrats to take the gloves off. 

Thou Doth Protest Too Much, Cory Gardner

A hard-hitting new ad from the Senate Majority PAC, targeting U.S. Senate candidate Cory Gardner's longstanding support for banning abortion even in cases of rape or incest, is provoking an outraged response today from Gardner's campaign:

Senator Udall took his campaign to a disgusting new low today as he watched one of his top supporters spread malicious lies about Cory Gardner in a new television ad. Senate Majority PAC, which has run numerous false and misleading ads against Cory, is once again broadcasting more dishonest attacks.

“After nearly 20 years in politics, Senator Udall should be ashamed to stake the last stage of his career on a blatant falsehood,” campaign spokesman Alex Siciliano. “This ad is outrageous and makes multiple false claims…"

In a separate release, Gardner surrogate Sen. Ellen Roberts (R-Durango) responds similarly:

“There is such a thing as going too far in political advertising and Senator Udall and his allies have done it in this new ad. Rape victims should not be used as a political football and the fact that Senator Udall and his allies are content with exploiting rape victims to win reelection should cost him the support of women for using tragic circumstances as a tool for his gain. This ad lies about Cory Gardner three times in thirty seconds and uses the word ‘rape’ five times to lie about the Congressman’s record. It’s extremely disappointing to see a Senator from Colorado and his allies resort to these shameful and divisive tactics in an attempt to further his political ambitions. The ad should be removed from Colorado’s airwaves immediately.”

Gardner's campaign asserts "multiple" false claims in the ad, but the only claim they actually attempt to refute is the line about Gardner having sought to "redefine rape to mean only forcible rape." This claim refers to Gardner's cosponsorship of the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act in 2011. Politifact rates a similar claim made by Rep. Gwen Moore as "Mostly False." Here's what Politifact concludes, and you can judge for yourself:

Moore said House Republicans "tried to change the definition of rape."

Her statement contains an element of truth, in that GOP members sought to change when federal money for abortions could be used in cases of rape, by using the term "forcible rape."

But the claim ignores critical facts that would give a different impression — the House Republicans’ effort was not to change the definition of rape, per se, but rather to restrict the use of federal funds in abortions.

We find this interpretation overly charitable to Republican sponsors of the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act, since they most certainly were trying to change the meaning of the term "rape" in existing law–to require the rape to be "forcible" in order to be eligible for abortion funding. As the ad says, that would mean many rape victims would not be considered victims for the purposes of abortion funding. But since Politifact decided this claim is dubious, and we have generally considered Politifact to be authoritative, we're obliged to note all of this for the record.

With that said, Sen. Roberts' claim that this ad "uses the word ‘rape’ five times to lie about the Congressman’s record" is plainly meant to deceive. The ad talks about Gardner's longstanding support for banning abortion even in cases of rape or incest. Other than Roberts' misleading attempt to attribute all use of the word "rape" to the one claim about H.R. 3 the Politifact story deals with, Gardner's campaign makes no attempt to refute that allegation.

The reason is simple: it's true. Gardner has consistently supported banning all abortion, even in cases of rape or incest, throughout his political career. No amount of surrogate outrage and semantic misdirection can change that. Knowing that helps explain the increasingly shrill response from Gardner's campaign, intended to provoke an emotional rejection of the claim before the audience ever gets the chance to think about it.

Once they do, as the polls show, Gardner has a big problem.

GOP Hopes for State House Fade Under Wave of Ineptitude

“I don’t believe in coincidences.”

Any good fictional detective will usually mutter a similar phrase at some point in a story. The phrase usually means that if two or more occurrences seem like a coincidence, it’s probably connected in some way…and, yada, yada, yada…Scooby Doo and the gang foil another plot by criminals dressed in elaborate costumes.

What does this have to do with Colorado politics, you ask? Well, here at Colorado Pols, we are always skeptical of coincidences (and not just when it comes to talking dogs). And in recent months, the manner in which Republicans have stumbled across many of their nominees for State House seats has raised our collective eyebrows. Republican candidate recruitment (and the lack thereof) has been so comically inept that its problems can’t just be dismissed as coincidence.

Do Republicans believe there is some strategic advantage in waiting until the last possible minute to finalize candidates? Or are really they just ludicrously disorganized and discombobulated as they ponder how they can win control of the House in 2014? We’re inclined to go with the latter explanation; there is no way someone could have actually thought this up on purpose.

GOP State House Confusion

There are 65 House Seats on the ballot every two years, but only a fraction of those seats are really “winnable” in any given year. In 2014, Republicans could gain control of the House with a net gain of 5 seats, though the odds of this happening are beginning to seem as likely as Dudley Brown officiating a same-sex marriage ceremony. Republicans have a host of problems related to their State House campaigns, the most glaring of which is also the most important: Finding strong candidates to run.

In the last 6-8 weeks, Republicans have been playing a weird game of musical chairs in 5 House Districts (HD3, HD23, HD28, HD29, HD35), changing out one bad candidate for another or secretly quietly filling vacancies without bothering to send out so much as a press release to the media. In several other districts, Republicans have fielded last-minute candidates with little name recognition in their respective districts.

Nature abhors a vacuum, and politics is no different. With no competition for the Republican nomination in many House seats, solitary candidates arose like the walking dead, dragging minor connections with Tea Party and gun rights groups (including RMGO) behind them. Perhaps Republican House leadership, piloted by Reps. Libby Szabo and Brian DelGrosso, had given up on trying to recruit decent candidates for several competitive races. But somebody still needed to fill those seats, and as the GOP quickly learned, there’s no telling who might emerge through the caucus process. As it turned out, many of the GOP nominees for competitive House seats were so unfathomably terrible that Republicans had to scramble to replace them to prevent outright disaster that could doom the entire Republican ballot.

So how did we get here? The landscape for Republicans in 2014 has been markedly different from the 2012 election cycle, and the fallout from a disappointing election two years ago is partly to blame for GOP struggles this year. In 2012, Republicans recruited fairly strong candidates overall and outspent Democrats by a 2-1 margin (including both soft and hard money) in hopes of expanding on their one-seat majority in the House. But Democrats ran solid House campaigns with strong candidates who excelled at both fundraising and grassroots outreach; when all the votes were counted, Democrats picked up 5 seats to give them a new 37-28 majority.

The demoralizing results of 2012 gave way to new Republican House leadership, but Szabo and DelGrosso have struggled to date in managing the broad strategy for retaking the House. There is little margin for error when trying to capture the majority in a state where only a handful of the 65 House seats are truly competitive districts, yet Republicans were having trouble uncovering live human beings willing to put their name on the ballot. When candidates arose anyway, the GOP had a new problem on its hands.

Nate Marshall, GOP candidate for HD-23.

Nate Marshall, briefly the GOP nominee in HD-23. Also a convicted felon with ties to white supremacist groups.

Consider HD-23, where Nate Marshall was nominated at the county assembly by virtue of being the only Republican interested in running for the seat. Marshall may have seemed like a nice-enough guy when he raised his hand at the county assembly in March, which was enough to grant him the Republican nomination; but a cursory online search quickly revealed that Marshall was a convicted felon with ties to white supremacist groups. Whoops!

Republicans quickly called on Marshall to resign as the GOP nominee, but they didn’t finally hold a vacancy committee until nearly one month later. They eventually settled on Jane Barnes, a former member of the Jefferson County School Board, as their nominee in HD-23…and then they didn’t bother to tell anyone. In fact, Colorado Pols broke the news of Barnes’ candidacy, nearly two weeks after a vacancy committee made the selection. You would think Republicans would have been a bit more anxious to put Nate Marshall in their rearview mirror.

We might have been inclined to consider this a random event that unfolded under a strange set of circumstances…except that it keeps happening. In late June, former HD-29 Rep. Robert Ramirez ended his campaign after failing to file numerous campaign finance reports. Republicans in HD-29 again called a vacancy committee – and again, nobody seemed to know about it – and just last week it was finally reported that Susan Kochevar had been chosen to replace Ramirez.

Republicans have managed to avoid problematic candidates before they were formally nominated, as they did in HD-35 in selecting Mike Melvin instead of Maria Weese (though Melvin may only be slightly better). As you can see from the chart above, Republicans have had trouble with recruiting candidates in at least 7 competitive House Districts, severely hampering their chances of winning control of the State House. But now that they have their candidates in place (theoretically, anyway), can Republicans pull together the resources in win in 2014? As we’ll examine in Part 2 of our look at the State House races to watch, raising money has been just as difficult as finding candidates.

Coffman Can’t Spin His Way Out Of Losing To Romanoff Again

Rep. Mike Coffman.

Rep. Mike Coffman.

FOX 31's Eli Stokols reports, time to break out the hip waders in the marquee CD-6 race:

Congressman Mike Coffman’s campaign is claiming momentum after winning the June fundraising period over Democratic challenger Andrew Romanoff in one of the most competitive House races of the 2014 cycle.

Coffman’s campaign brought in $405,000 between June 5 and June 30, more than Romanoff, who raised $373,000 in the latest reporting period…

The problem is, fundraising performance is generally measured by the quarter.

The press release from Coffman’s campaign didn’t mention that it brought in $742,000 during the year’s second quarter as a whole, which is $100,000 less than the $842,000 quarterly haul Romanoff’s campaign announced Monday. [Pols emphasis]

Mike Coffman's campaign spin notwithstanding, this Q2 of 2014 was the fourth straight quarter in which Democrat Andrew Romanoff has outraised one of the nation's most vulnerable incumbents. Romanoff is almost $400,000 ahead of Coffman now in terms of cash on hand–$2.67 million to $2.3 million. It makes sense, given that Coffman's lackluster fundraising is increasingly casting a shadow on his campaign, that they would try to find some way of spinning this result. In the one month of June, Coffman can plausibly say he barely beat Romanoff.

But as you can see, reporters aren't buying the spin. And when that happens, sometimes the spin becomes the story.

New NBC/Marist Poll: Udall Up By 7, Hickenlooper Up By 6

Mark Udall, Cory Gardner.

Mark Udall, Cory Gardner.

A new poll out today from NBC News/Marist has very bad news for Colorado Republicans–beginning with GOP Senate candidate Cory Gardner, who is now down by 7 points to incumbent Sen. Mark Udall, outside this poll's +/- 3.1% margin of error:

In Colorado’s Senate contest, incumbent Sen. Mark Udall, D-Colo., leads GOP challenger Cory Gardner by seven points among registered voters, 48 to 41 percent; another 10 percent are undecided.

In the state’s race for governor, sitting Gov. John Hickenlooper holds a six-point edge over Republican opponent Bob Beauprez, 49 to 43 percent, with 7 percent undecided…

A gender gap is helping the Democratic candidates…In Colorado, Udall is up by 12 points among female voters (50 percent to 38 percent), but he’s running neck and neck with Gardner among men…

Among Latinos – who make up 16 percent of registered voters in the Colorado poll – Udall has a 31-point lead over Gardner, 58 to 27 percent.

And also in Colorado, both Udall (by 50 to 34 percent) and Hickenlooper (by 52 to 35 percent) have the advantage with independent voters.

Here are the details on today's poll of Colorado voters.

The leads for Udall and to a lesser extent Gov. John Hickenlooper among independent voters are particularly dire for Republicans, who are counting on an agitated independent vote breaking their way this November. Udall's massive 31-point lead over Gardner with Latino voters shows Gardner's late attempts to appease this community by changing up his hard-line rhetoric on immigration reform have fallen flat. Combine that with Udall's double-digit lead over Gardner with women voters, and Gardner looks much worse off at this point than most news reporting on this race would suggest.

Hickenlooper has more ground to gain against GOP opponent Bob Beauprez, and that's likely to happen once Beauprez's long record of disqualifying looney-tunes statements since his last run for office in 2006 becomes more widely publicized. Hickenlooper's pundit-certified "tough couple of years politically" colors the narrative about this race, but even here there is good news: 52% of respondents say they are more likely to vote for a candidate who thinks laws governing gun sales should be more strict.

Opposition to the loosening of gun regulations is largely fueled by female voters, who say they are less likely to support a pro-gun rights candidate by 20 percentage points, while men are about equally divided on the question.

Meaning the biggest advantage Colorado Republicans have going into this election…is no advantage at all.

Bottom line: while nobody would suggest these hotly competitive races are over, a few more polls like this could change that. These are not numbers Republicans hoping for victory this November want to see.

Tuesday Open Thread

"On the outskirts of every agony sits some observant fellow who points."

–Virginia Woolf

All Brown People Look Alike To Conservative Blogs

UPDATE: Colorado Peak Politics attempts to correct their post:

CORRECTION: This post has been corrected to reflect that JulieMarie Shepherd is not of Hispanic decent. [Pols emphasis]

Perhaps she is of Hispanic in-"decent?" Kidding aside, there's still no explanation as to why Peak Politics decided Shepherd is "Hispanic" for the purposes of this blog post about "Hispanic" Republican House candidates, so…it must have been the photo?

Not the local conservative blogosphere's finest hour, safe to say.

—–

JulieMarie Shepherd.

JulieMarie Shepherd.

On the conservative blog Colorado Peak Politics today, a fascinating post, and by that we mean incredibly embarrassing, about Colorado Republican legislative candidates who represent the state's "diverse heritage." Here's what they have to say about one JulieMarie Shepherd, running against Rep. John Buckner in Aurora's House District 40:

Two of Colorado’s top targeted legislative races both feature Hispanic GOP candidates [Pols emphasis] and have made the list of “14 in ’14 Races to Watch” put out by the Republican State Leadership Committee:

Beth Martinez Humenik, Colorado Senate District 24

JulieMarie Shepherd, Colorado House District 40

…JulieMarie Shepherd is challenging Democrat Rep. John Buckner for his Aurora-based seat.  She has already distinguished herself in the community and is an at-large member of the Aurora Public Schools Board of Education.  Shepherd is young, energetic and hungry to make a difference.

Just one problem: Shepherd isn't Hispanic. Wrong continent, in fact:

While she was born in Calcutta, India, [Pols emphasis] Shepherd considers herself an "almost" native of Aurora. As an infant, she was adopted and came to live in Aurora with her mom, a retired United States Army Officer.

As you can see from the photo above, Ms. Shepherd is brown. Apparently, to our local conservative bloggers, brown skin tone is enough to be considered "Hispanic," even though there are in fact many ethnicities where brown skin tone is commonplace. For example, people from India.

If anyone would like to explain to us how this isn't every bit as bad as it looks, we're all ears…

Udall Outraises Gardner in First Full Head-to-Head Quarter

Mark Udall, Cory Gardner.

Mark Udall, Cory Gardner.

As Fox 31's Eli Stokols reports:

Colorado Democratic Sen. Mark Udall raised $3.1 million in the second quarter of the year and now has $5.7 million in cash on hand as the race against Republican challenger Cory Gardner enters a more competitive phase with the election less than four months away.

Udall, who is seeking a second term, has raised more than $13 million overall to support his reelection effort.

Gardner, a congressman from Yuma who didn’t enter the senate race until late February, announced last week that his campaign raised $2.7 million in the year’s second quarter and has $3.4 million cash on hand.

The campaign for Congressman Cory Gardner will try hard to spin these numbers in a favorable manner, but this is bad news for Republicans however you slice it. When Gardner entered the race for Senate a few months ago, national Republicans were crowing that they finally had a (theoretically) likable candidate who could raise lots of campaign cash on his own. Gardner replaced a field of Republican Senate candidates who had been historically inept at raising money, but Gardner nevertheless faced significant expectations that he has not been able to meet.

This was Gardner's first full fundraising quarter — with all the low-hanging fruit still available — and he still failed to outraise incumbent Democratic Sen. Mark Udall. And don't forget: Gardner has been virtually invisible since announcing his candidacy, skipping public appearances to focus on raising money.

None of this means that Gardner may end up being underfunded by November, but it does call into question just how excited national Republican donors are about Gardner's campaign. And as the 2014 election season rumbles on, Republicans will soon have to decide whether to double-down on Gardner financially…or focus any extra resources on states like Montana instead.