Get More Smarter on Monday (Nov. 16)

GetMoreSmarter-SnowYes, we know you feel itchy and burning; it’s still not plantar fasciitis. 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).



► In the aftermath of the Paris terrorist attacks, Republicans in Colorado and throughout the country are going bananas with fear mongering. President Obama spoke out against calls to prevent Syrian refugees from emigrating to the United States, as the New York Times reports:

Mr. Obama grew especially animated in rebuffing suggestions by some Republican presidential candidates, governors and lawmakers that the United States should block entry of Syrian refugees to prevent terrorists from slipping into the country.

“The people who are fleeing Syria are the most harmed by terrorism; they are the most vulnerable as a consequence of civil war and strife,” Mr. Obama said. He added: “We do not close our hearts to these victims of such violence and somehow start equating the issue of refugees with the issue of terrorism.”

Without naming him, Mr. Obama singled out a comment by former Gov. Jeb Bush of Florida, one of the Republicans seeking to succeed him, for suggesting the United States focus special attention on Christian refugees. “That’s shameful,” Mr. Obama said. “That’s not American. It’s not who we are. We don’t have religious tests to our compassion.”

Back here in Colorado, Denver-area residents held a gathering of support over the weekend for victims of the terrorist attacks. Colorado universities are reporting that all of its students studying overseas in France are believed to be unharmed.


Texas Senator Ted Cruz may be surging ahead in the race for the Republican Presidential  nomination. Controversial Iowa Rep. Steve King has given Cruz his nod of approval.


► There was a Democratic Presidential debate on Saturday that nobody watched, and the campaigns are griping about the scheduling. We don’t disagree, but how did we ever get this far? Why would you ever schedule anything of importance for a Saturday night television audience?


Get even more smarter after the jump…


Terror Grips Colorado Republicans

eiffel-111415As the world comes to terms with the horrific terrorist attacks on Paris, France this past Friday evening, responses from Colorado Republicans run the gamut from level-headed to…well, not so much. We’ll start with a rare moment of praise for Sen. Cory Gardner, whose statement in the immediate wake of the attacks showed commendable restraint:

“The people of Colorado and the United States stand firmly beside our oldest ally, France. We mourn those lost and pray for their families. And we are united with all Parisians as they unite against this senseless violence.”

Rep. Mike Coffman, unfortunately, couldn’t resist taking a potshot at the Obama administration on FOX News:

From Sen. Laura Woods, set to compete in Colorado’s hottest state senate race next year, more or less full-blown panic:

And don’t even get Jonathan Lockwood of leading local conservative group Advancing Colorado started:

Really, please don’t get him started:

It should be noted that the latter outburst from Lockwood is apparently in response to President Barack Obama arriving a few minutes late for a moment of silence in honor of victims at the G-20 conference in Turkey. To characterize Mr. Lockwood’s reaction to that minor infraction as over the top is a considerable understatement.

It’s not our intention to belittle any genuine shock felt over the terrorist attacks in Paris, which given the nature of events there is to a significant degree completely understandable. We understand that an attack of this magnitude will certainly be a factor in many debates about American policy, and the role of Colorado politicians in shaping that policy. The number of current stories this event affects that we’ve been talking about in this space range from the debate over the threat posed by ISIS to the transfer of detainees from the Guantanamo Bay prison to facilities in Colorado.

But there is some rhetoric that, we should all be able to agree, simply does not help anybody.

Get More Smarter on Friday the 13th

gmsfriday13thHappy Friday the 13th, knock on wood! 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).


Politico reports that the U.S. Supreme Court will review the constitutionality of onerous new abortion restrictions in Texas, a major development in the nonexistent “War on Women.”

The timing of the decision, likely next June, is expected to drive voter turnout, galvanizing those on both sides of the abortion debate to turn out for a presidential candidate who shares their views on one of the nation’s most polarizing social issues.

The case, Whole Woman’s Health v. Cole, is expected to turn on whether the Texas law — which imposes sweeping construction requirements on abortion clinics and requires providers to have hospital admitting privileges — is “an undue burden” on women’s access to the procedure.

Nancy Northup, president of the Center for Reproductive Rights, which is representing the clinics, called the case the “most important abortion rights case in nearly 25 years.”

► GOP presidential frontrunner Donald Trump continued his withering rhetorical assault on his closest competitor Ben Carson this week, but as The Hill reports, the good somnolent doctor is not returning fire:

Speaking at a press conference after a town-hall event in South Carolina with Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.), Carson repeatedly passed on opportunities to kick back at Trump, who has sought to frame the retired neurosurgeon as deranged and has mocked the stories Carson has told about his temper as a young man.

Responding to questions about Trump’s attacks, Carson said voters are “sick and tired” of the “politics of destruction,” and sought to redirect the line of questioning to more substantive issues.

Oh come on, our popcorn isn’t even ready yet.

Get even more smarter after the jump…


Gitmo Follies: The Sheriff Who Wouldn’t Sign

La Plata County Sheriff Sean Smith.

La Plata County Sheriff Sean Smith.

In our discussion of the campaign promise by President Barack Obama to close the detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba and settle the status of the remaining 112 “enemy combatants” imprisoned there since the Bush administration, we would be remiss if we didn’t point out the Durango Herald’s report yesterday–about La Plata County Sheriff Sean Smith, and his decision not to sign a letter penned by right-wing Larimer County Sheriff Justin Smith (no close relation we know of) opposing the transfer of any Gitmo detainees to federal facilities in Colorado:

On Monday, Larimer County Sheriff Justin Smith made public the petition, which states the sheriffs are “concerned that utilizing current civilian prisons in our state would significantly – and unnecessarily – endanger our citizens.”

The letter goes on to say that housing the detainees from Guantanamo, started in 2002 in response to the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, would attract terrorist “sympathizers who would mount an attack … or commit other acts of terror.”

“[Sean Smith:]…We’re very far removed from it. I’m focused on what’s going on with the citizens in our county. If I felt like it would create adverse risks for us, I would get involved.”

Supermax already holds some of the nation’s most dangerous terrorists, including Ted Kaczynski, Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and Ramzi Yousef, who coordinated the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. [Sean] Smith said the presence of those high-profile criminals has never posed a danger to La Plata County.

County sheriffs from all corners of our state signed Justin Smith’s letter. The letter cited a range of concerns from the logistics of transporting the detainees to the risk that the facilities might be subject to terrorist attack. But as this story does a better job of pointing out than many other recent reports, Colorado is already host to some of the world’s worst terrorists at the Florence “Supermax” federal prison.

The other problem with the sheriffs’ objections to transferring Gitmo detainees to Colorado is, as La Plata County Sheriff Sean Smith points out like Captain Obvious, that Colorado is a really big state, and most of it is not anywhere near anything relevant to this question. La Plata County has nothing to fear–and neither does Sedgwick County or Mesa County. Or Routt County or Yuma County or…you get the idea, right?

In its way, all of these dozens of elected politician county sheriffs signing this letter, including many whose jurisdiction would be in no way adversely impacted by the transfer of Gitmo detainees to Colorado, betrays an underlying political motive that significantly undermines their credibility. After all, Sheriff Justin Smith was one of the ringleaders in the so-far unsuccessful Independence Institute-powered lawsuit by many county sheriffs against the 2013 gun safety bills–along with former El Paso County Sheriff “Shirtless” Terry Maketa, who we’re not supposed to talk about now that the county is settling the lawsuits left in his wake.

Anyway, with Larimer County’s Sheriff Smith making headlines with his splashy but meaningless letter, we wanted to acknowledge this act of profound sensibility by La Plata County’s Sheriff Smith. Our sheriffs in Colorado may be politicians, but they don’t always have to act like it.

Friday Open Thread

“Being slightly paranoid is like being slightly pregnant–it tends to get worse.”

–Molly Ivins

Ryan Frazier is Running for Senate, For Some Reason

UPDATE #2: Local conservative blog Colorado Peak Politics is very excited about the diversity of the growing field of GOP Senate candidates–perhaps a bit too much so? Their post on Ryan Frazier’s entry into the race originally stated:

Republicans now have recruited two blacks, [Pols emphasis] one Hispanic, a woman (maybe), and a fresh face (maybe)…

Since edited to read:

Republicans now have recruited two black guys, [Pols emphasis] one Hispanic, a woman (maybe), and a fresh face (maybe)…

We assume because we stopped referring to African-Americans as “the blacks,” you know, several decades ago. This is the same blog that assigned the label “Hispanic” to a candidate from Calcutta, India last year, so we guess this racial stuff just isn’t their strong suit.

We’re happy they’re happy, though.


Who has one thumb up and no chance at winning a U.S. Senate race? This guy.

Who has one thumb up and no chance at winning a U.S. Senate race? This guy.

UPDATE: This is Ryan Frazier in a nutshell. His campaign announcement video says that “after nearly 8 years, Senator Michael Bennet has only made things worse for you.”

Um, Bennet was appointed to the U.S. Senate in 2009. Math is not our best subject, either, but we’re pretty sure that 2015 minus 2009 equals not eight.


Politics is often a discussion about possibility and potential, largely because there are so few certainties that we can rely upon in our arguments.

And then there is Ryan Frazier.

The former Aurora city council member has reportedly decided to enter the Republican field for U.S. Senate in 2016, telling 9News that he will kick off his campaign with a video announcement on Thursday.

It would be hard to get too excited about his candidacy if you are a Republican, because we already know what happens when Frazier runs for higher office: He loses, badly. Frazier’s last two campaigns (CD-7 in 2010 and Aurora Mayor in 2011) both ended with double-digit losses, and 2010 was a very good year to be a Republican candidate.

Colorado Pols first reported back in August that Frazier was having discussions about a potential Senate run, but we were skeptical that he might really jump in the race; we didn’t think we’d ever see Frazier running for another office after his second consecutive drubbing in 2011. Here’s what we wrote back on Aug. 12 when we first heard that Frazier might be considering a run for Senate:

We don’t have many details on the “Frazier for Senate” rumor, but in some ways, it almost doesn’t even matter if the story is true or not. If anybody is seriously considering getting behind Frazier in 2016, it is a clear indication that Republicans are essentially conceding the seat to incumbent Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet.

Late last month, Frazier left his part-time “political analyst” position at 9News because he was apparently getting serious about the Senate race, but even then we had a hard time taking the story too seriously. Ryan Frazier is not good at running for office, and we doubt he could even win a Primary against state Sen. Tim Neville. Check that — Frazier will not beat Neville in a GOP Primary.

It is unclear who exactly is behind the idea of a Frazier campaign for Senate, but this isn’t going to end well for him.

Get More Smarter on Thursday (Nov. 12)

Get More SmarterSo much for that snow. 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).


► Republican Presidential candidate Marco Rubio has been maniacally tap-dancing around the issue of immigration reform, and his latest “position” on the issue is pretty damn far from the Senate legislation that he once drafted in 2013. This is obviously a political problem for Rubio, but as he backs away from his own policy ideas, he’s leaving other Republicans with nowhere to turn. We’re looking at you, Rep. Mike Coffman.

► We might need another clown car. Republican Ryan Frazier is running for U.S. Senate, and fellow Republican Jon Keyser is also close to joining the fracas. Neither candidate can likely defeat state Sen. Tim Neville in a GOP Primary.

Meanwhile, incumbent Senator Michael Bennet (D-Denver) met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday. The meeting is significant, because Bennet’s support of President Obama’s Iran policy has caused plenty of tension with the AIPAC crowd.

Get even more smarter after the jump…


Make Room In The Senate Clown Car For Jon Keyser

We heard you need a U.S. Senator?

We heard you need a U.S. Senator?

While the Colorado political world digests the entry today of perennial loser Ryan Frazier into the Republican primary for the 2016 U.S. Senate race, we’ve received word of yet another ambitious small-timer who may throw his hat into the ring. Rep. Jon Keyser of Morrison is reportedly making the rounds with Republican high-rollers in an effort to convince them he is worth backing for a run for the U.S. Senate.

Our readers will remember Keyser from the controversy he stirred up as a House candidate after receiving “two ballots” for the 2013 elections–which he then took to social media to denounce as evidence of a “failed system,” with all the attendant hand-wringing about the horrors of mail ballot election fraud. It soon emerged that Keyser owns a plot of land in Delta County, and the “second ballot” he received was just for a local ballot measure there. It is all but certain in retrospect that Keyser knew all of this, and was eager enough to assist in the GOP’s baseless trolling of Colorado’s new mail balloting system to, you know, completely bullshit people.

As for a run for the U.S. Senate, any backing Keyser might get for this race signals to us a real uncertainty on the part of high-level Republicans on how to proceed. Keyser is well connected to the 17th Street legal/finance class that includes many of the state’s most powerful Republican donors and kingmakers. We don’t doubt his ability to articulate a good case for support, but he’s just not a heavyweight candidate for this marquee 2016 race. Certainly not more than the experienced and grassroots-friendly Sen. Tim Neville, or even a usual suspect like Frazier who at least has a media footprint.

Who’s next, folks? Because Keyser certainly won’t be clearing the field.

Rubio Immigration Tap-Dance Leaves Coffman Stumbling

THURSDAY UPDATE: MSNBC’s Steve Benen talks more about the trouble facing Marco Rubio–and also Mike Coffman:

“In my view, if Republicans nominate for president a candidate who supports amnesty,” Cruz added, ‘we will have given up one of the major distinctions with Hillary Clinton and we will lose the general election – that is a path to losing.”

In fairness to Rubio, it’s worth emphasizing that he dramatically flip-flopped on the immigration issue, betrayed his former allies, and now rejects the very proposals he helped write just two years ago. Maybe that will satisfy Republican voters, maybe not…

Keep in mind, this isn’t just some peripheral issue for many conservatives. A far-right, hard-line stance on immigration is for the Republican base what support for Social Security is for many Democrats – a stance the base simply expects as a commitment to party orthodoxy.

Although Coffman’s hard-line pre-redistricting positions on immigration were a polar opposite to Rubio’s former moderate position, it’s striking how the flip-flopping in both directions on the issue has exposed both men’s vulnerabilities. Coffman’s job of appearing moderate on immigration, while not going so far as to upset his Republican base of support in a swing district, is really not all that different from Rubio laboring to appease the GOP base on an issue he has already “sold them out” on once before.

In both cases voters, albeit different voters, are being asked to swallow big camels and strain gnats–and it may well end with nobody trusting either of them. Original post follows.


Rep. Mike Coffman.

Rep. Mike Coffman.

NPR’s Steve Inskeep reports on the continuing “evolution” of Republican presidential candidate Marco Rubio’s position on immigration reform, which has “evolved” even further in the last 24 hours:

Sen. Marco Rubio clarified his view on the 11 million immigrants, who are in the United States illegally. The day after a presidential debate, which exposed a continuing divide in the Republican Party on immigration, Rubio told NPR on Wednesday that he favors a path to citizenship for some, though the prospect would be very distant.

“If you haven’t been here very long, or you’re a criminal, you will be deported,” Rubio told NPR’s Morning Edition. “Otherwise, you will have to come forward, pass the background check, learn English, pay a fine, because you violated the law, start paying taxes, and you’ll get a work permit. And that’s all you’re going to have for at least a decade.”

Rubio went a step further. “After 10 years on the work permit, I personally am open to — after the 10 years have expired — to allowing people to apply for a green card, just through the normal process that anyone else would use.”

That means Rubio still broadly backs one of the most hotly debated portions of a 2013 immigration bill that passed the Senate overwhelmingly but could not get through the Republican-controlled House. Rubio helped author the legislation, but later dismissed it as politically unsustainable.

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL).

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL).

Rubio’s position on immigration reform has been a famously moving target since 2013, when an immigration reform bill he hammered out with input from both sides of the U.S. Senate was pronounced DOA in the Republican-controlled House. In the face of furious objections from the anti-immigrant wing of the Republican Party, Rubio abandoned the legislation he had previously worked to pass. On the campaign trail as a Republican presidential candidate, Rubio has tried hard to keep up with his opponents’ free-wheeling demagoguery of immigrants while keeping the door open to moderating on the issue for a general election audience Etch-a-Sketch style.

That’s how you get Rubio telling NPR today that he would keep some kind of path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants open, even as he says he would close down President Barack Obama’s DACA program meant to protect thousands of childhood-arrival immigrants from deportation. To be honest, we don’t see how Rubio is going to be able to keep these contradictions from breaking down eventually. But with Rubio trying to position himself as the alternative to the Trump/Carson sideshow that’s presently dominating the Republican primary, he needs to be able to say something.

The real loser in this back-and-forth may not be Rubio, but swing Republicans like Rep. Mike Coffman–who have been dancing between the GOP base’s hard line on immigration, and the needs of a diverse constituency that includes a large immigrant population with and without documentation. Even Coffman’s recent “moderated” opinion on immigration doesn’t go nearly as far as Rubio says today he would. In 2010, Coffman said flat-out that the DREAM Act “would be a nightmare for the American people.” Coffman’s most recent statements about undocumented students and/or military eligible recruits are best described as purposefully confusing, but Coffman certainly has not come out in favor of a path to citizenship for undocumented adults–even a “very long path.”

Up to now, Coffman has been able to use Rubio’s immigration reform bill, more to the point its death, as a means to obfuscate his shifting position on a very delicate issue. The trouble now is that Rubio is under a harsher spotlight then ever before as a presidential candidate, and is going to be forced to spell out clearly once and for all what his agenda on immigration actually is.

And that’s going to leave Mike Coffman with no place to hide.

Poll: Whither To Buy Your Beer and Wine?

grocery-storeThe Your Choice Colorado campaign kicked off last month, hoping to bypass the gridlocked Colorado General Assembly and take a question directly to voters next year to overturn one of Colorado’s last remaining Prohibition holdovers–the requirement that all alcoholic beverages over 3.2% alcohol content be sold in standalone liquor stores. As the Denver Post reports:

A coalition led by retail powerhouses is drafting ballot language to give Colorado voters a chance to decide whether to change Prohibition-era laws and allow full-strength beer and wine sales at supermarkets.

The effort — backed by King Soopers, Safeway and Walmart — is the most substantial push in recent years to expand sales outside liquor stores in one of the nation’s top states for beer.

A direct appeal to voters with a ballot initiative would come after years of gridlock at the General Assembly, where entrenched special interests battled in what lawmakers dubbed a “beer war.”

It’s a bit paradoxical that Colorado, one of the nation’s foremost craft brewing states, does not allow that marquee product to be sold in grocery stores as 42 states already do. On the other hand, small liquor store owners say they do just fine meeting the market’s demand for convenient alcohol sales, and that the effect of allowing full-strength beer in grocery stores will be directly measurable in lost jobs and closed small businesses. We’ve seen conflicting reports as to whether hard liquor would be included in the proposal from grocery stores, but that could be a big factor for existing liquor stores as well.

What say you, Polsters? Vote whether you would support a ballot question legalizing full-strength beer and wine, and/or hard liquor after the jump. As consumers (generally) without a dog in the fight, we’re curious to know what our readers think about an idea that presumably lots of money is about to get thrown at from both sides.