Tom Steyer’s Mission To Stamp Out Climate Denialism

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A story from FOX 31's Eli Stokols looks in detail at billionaire Tom Steyer, who was in Aspen yesterday for the American Renewable Energy Day summit conference–talking about his ambitious plans to aggressively take on politicians in 2014 and beyond who deny the general scientific consensus that human activity is contributing to global climate change:

Steyer’s plan mirrors that of mega-donors on the right — leveraging his personal fortune on behalf of candidates who support his agenda: supporting Democrats who will push for action to combat climate change and going after Republican incumbents who deny climate science…

Steyer, who has come under fire of late amidst disclosures that much of the fortune he amassed at Farallon Capital Management came in part from investing in companies that operate coal mines, is supporting Colorado Democratic Sen. Mark Udall in his reelection bid against Republican Congressman Cory Gardner, who has denied that climate change is impacted by human activity.

“We tried to go into states where there is a big difference between the candidates,” said Steyer, who explained that the 2014 strategy is more about turning out pro-environment voters than persuading swing voters to care more about the issue of climate change.

“A lot of people who support pro-environment candidates like Mark Udall are some of the likeliest drop-off voters. [Pols emphasis] So we are focused not so much on TV ads but on the things that will be old-fashioned, 18th- century politics, trying to get local people to talk to local voters and citizens and why it’s important enough for them to get off the couch and go down to the polling place in the second Tuesday in November,” Steyer said.

As Stokols reports, Tom Steyer has announced his intention to spend $50 million this year to elect pro-environment candidates who acknowledge the role of industry and carbon energy sources in global climate change. Objectively speaking, compared to the amount of money conservative mega-donors like the Koch brothers have invested in American politics over the years, this isn't that much. Liberals also have many other well-established channels for aggregating and strategically spending money like the national Democracy Alliance. What makes Steyer's push different is the electoral focus on the environment. Not to change minds on the issue, but to motivate voters already responsive to the issue to get to the polls.

What Steyer wants is simple: for the voters who turn out in presidential election years to show up this November. Obviously, all Democrats are looking for the key to doing just that: it could help put a stop to the damaging recent cycle of political representation in the United States swinging drastically from left to right between presidential election years and midterm election years. In the polling done by backers of this year's abortive local control ballot initiatives showing enduring public support for locally regulating oil and gas drilling, you can see the electorate Steyer wants to reach clearly. It's a major reason why we believe those measures could not only have passed, but could have helped Democrats at the polls even if Democratic politicians steered clear.

Bottom line: Colorado environmental liberals who are upset by the resolution to the local control debate this year are about to see the issue clarified in the form of a straight-up climate change denier, GOP Senate candidate Cory Gardner. The intra-Democratic debate over fracking in our energy producing state will take an inevitable back seat to a much more fundamental question: does Colorado want to be represented in the U.S. Senate by a man who simply rejects out of hand the overwhelming scientific consensus that humans are contributing to climate change?

That message, with a few million dollars behind it, could honestly be a game-changer.

Both Ways Bob: Greatest Lede Ever

“Both Ways” Bob Beauprez (right).

Our hats are off to the Grand Junction Sentinel's Charles Ashby, who kicks off today's story about GOP gubernatorial candidate Bob Beauprez's visit to Grand Junction yesterday with an inside joke for all of us in the political chattering class:

Gubernatorial candidate Bob Beauprez is glad the two anti-fracking ballot measures won’t be placed before voters this fall.

But then again, he isn’t. [Pols emphasis]

The rest of the story is worth reading, and we promise to do so right after we stop laughing. Well played, Mr. Ashby.

Wednesday Open Thread

"If you could kick the person in the pants responsible for most of your trouble, you wouldn't sit for a month."

–Theodore Roosevelt

I See Your Horse’s Ass and, Uh, Raise You One

“Both Ways” Bob Beauprez (right).

Republican gubernatorial candidate Bob Beauprez is hoping to shake off the many, many, many errors that led to his historically-bad campaign in 2006, but whatever happens in 2014, he now has a friend in infamy.

One of the enduring images of Beauprez's 2006 debacle of a campaign is the candidate himself, standing next to a horse's ass. Beauprez's TV ad was supposed to highlight the "crap" in politics, or something, but it ended up just being a perfectly symbolic image of what was likely the worst statewide campaign in Colorado history.

Down in Arizona, Republican congressional hopeful Gary Kiehne now has his own horse-based campaign ad to rival Beauprez. As the Tucson Weekly reports, Kiehne's new campaign mailer/handout was not copy-edited very well:

Did Kiehne just not see the giant horse penis in the background, or is he trying to tell us something?

We all know what Janet Rowland would think of this. Enjoy!

Kiehn-Horse

Don’t look directly at it

 

Nationwide Comcast Outage Affecting Site Access

Just a quick update to apologize for difficulty many users are having accessing our site right now. Comcast, a major ISP for the Denver area, is experiencing partial internet connectivity outages across the nation, and Colorado Pols appears to be inaccessible to Comcast users at the moment. We expect the issue to be cleared up soon, but it's well upstream of anyone we can yell at presently (we've tried).

Thanks for your patience while the series of tubes gets unkinked.

Rep. Jared Polis Pays Tribute To Robin Williams

Congressman Jared Polis (D-Boulder) perfectly in the moment–as perhaps only he can be–as the world mourns the passing of beloved comedian Robin Williams yesterday. As photographed in from of the Boulder house made famous by Williams' hit comedy show Mork and Mindy.

Worth posting on general principles.

Gardner Tries, Fails To Buzzsaw Abortion Questions

Rep. Cory Gardner (R).

Rep. Cory Gardner (R).

A surprisingly good story today from the Pueblo Chieftain's Pete Tucker draws GOP U.S. Senate candidate Cory Gardner out once again on the issue of his longtime, recently-reversed support for the "Personhood" abortion ban ballot initiatives in Colorado. Much of this story is behind the Chieftain's paywall, but we strongly encourage a read if you have access. In today's story, conversation turns once again to Personhood, and Gardner tries…well, you tell us what the best term is to describe what Gardner tries to do here:

Udall’s recent advertisements have criticized Gardner’s position on the so-called “personhood amendment” and attacked him as a candidate who wants to outlaw birth control.

Gardner said both assertions are false. He said he doesn’t support the personhood amendment and said he does support women’s rights to birth control, calling the accusation “nonsense.” [Pols emphasis]

What Gardner's campaign wishes more than anything is that this conversation would stop right there. Gardner would prefer the statement that he "doesn't support Personhood" to end all discussion about this issue, except maybe with a brief segue into birth control so Gardner can burnish his "women's issue" credentials with his come-lately proposal to make the pill available over the counter.

But unfortunately, as Tucker continues, the conversation doesn't end there:

Udall’s campaign said Monday that its point is that Gardner remains a sponsor to the federal personhood amendment and that his reversal on a state law was one of political expedience. Gardner said he won’t respond in ads to Udall’s attacks, saying a tit-for-tat advertising war prevents him from focusing on his own message. He also said Udall can’t campaign on the economy or health care.

But Udall’s staff noted Gardner already has run an ad responding to the accusations over women’s issues.

In the ad, Gardner responds to the personhood issue, noting he reversed his decision on the state proposal, [Pols emphasis] then goes on to attack Udall’s support for Obamacare.

And folks, one more time–why did Gardner reverse his position on the Colorado Personhood ballot measures right after getting in the U.S. Senate race? Because he had apparently "just discovered" that Personhood could outlaw common forms of birth control! And why is his continued cosponsorship of the federal Life at Conception Act a problem? Because it has the same language as Colorado's Personhood amendments!

If you're looking for the part of this story where Gardner says the perfect thing to defuse this obvious contradiction and comes out looking trustworthy…we're sorry to tell you, it doesn't exist. Gardner cannot truthfully reconcile his message on abortion with his stridently anti-choice record in politics, because it would be politically suicidal to do so. Gardner calls these attacks the product of a "tired playbook," but he has no defensive play–and every story that honestly explores the question makes that more glaringly obvious.

And when even a friendly newspaper like the Pueblo Chieftain can't hide that, he's got a problem.

New Gardner Ad Attacks Udall For…Wait For It…

brokenrecord

FOX 31's Eli Stokols reports, here we go again–and again, and again:

When Republican Congressman Cory Gardner launched his U.S. Senate campaign in late February, he talked almost exclusively about his Democratic opponent’s support for Obamacare.

Since then, Obamacare has receded a bit as a GOP attack line as polling has indicated that Obamacare-related attacks aren’t getting much traction with voters… [Pols emphasis]

Obviously, those polls were wrong! Because Obamacare is still what Cory Gardner is spending money to talk about.

“When our family’s healthcare plan was cancelled because of Obamacare last year, we felt firsthand the painful effects of Senator Udall’s support for Obamacare. Countless families have seen their premiums rise, lost access to their doctors, or lost their health insurances plans altogether — they have Senator Udall to thank.”

Holding what’s apparently the cancellation letter his family received, Gardner notes in the ad that “335,000 Coloradans had their plans cancelled too.”

It's good question–is there anyone in Colorado who hasn't heard the GOP's story of the "335,000 Coloradans who had their health insurance plans cancelled?" If so, they must live in a cave with no radio or television reception, because this talking point has been used so many times since last October's rollout of the Affordable Care Act that is really seems to be the only thing Republicans know how to say about the law.

Never mind that it's, and this has got to be the hundredth time we've said so as well, completely bogus.

manyoptions

The amazing thing is, we've known this was a false claim almost since the day it was first heard. Last December, the Denver Post reported that over 90% of Colorado health plan holders who received a "cancellation letter" received renewal options with the same letter. Before President Barack Obama allowed existing plans to renew, Colorado exchange officials had already determined that they could do the same thing. This means those plans were either renewed per those instructions, or replaced with new plans that met the standards of the Affordable Care Act and–especially when subsidies are calculated–cost consumers substantially less money.

And that's what makes this a truly baffling theme for Gardner to keep harping on: this isn't last October. All these months later, Coloradans know the sky did not fall with the implementation of Obamacare. They can see with their own eyes that the GOP's outlandish scare tactics were not accurate. They know that those 335,000 "cancelled" Coloradans were not left without health insurance as Republicans would like them to believe: in fact the percentage of Colorado residents without insurance has plunged since Obamacare rolled out, from 17% to only 11% of the population.

Look, folks, we understand why Republicans invested so much money and credibility into the years-long assault on Obamacare. It has given the GOP an issue to rally their base around, and trouble with the rollout of the law has extended the issue's viability for them longer than they could have hoped. Backlash against the law, even based on falsehoods, helped the GOP achieve one of the greatest congressional victories in modern times back in 2010. Setting aside the moral questions, this has been an effective political weapon–up to a point.

But that point is long past now. Today, now that it contradicts what the voters can see, it's insanity to keep insisting disaster has either already befallen or is still somehow lurking.

Iraq Strikes: Udall, Tipton Back Prez While Talk Radio Rages

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​Surprisingly little coverage in the last few days of local reaction to airstrikes over Iraq carried out by American forces against forces of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. The Pueblo Chieftain's Peter Roper reported this weekend:

Sen. Mark Udall, D-Colo., called the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant fighters “brutal” in their attacks on Iraqi people, especially religious minorities including Christians.

Obama’s decision to use airstrikes to protect U.S. personnel and to provide humanitarian aid was “the right one,” according to Udall.

“(ISIS) must not be allowed to gain a safe haven in the region but this fight belongs to the Iraqis and their neighbors. I remain strongly opposed to putting combat troops back into Iraq,” he said.

There seems to be some deference among Republicans today in regards to President Barack Obama's handling of the situation in Iraq–depending on who you talk to, of course. Talk radio host Rush Limbaugh says Obama is bombing Iraq to distract from his "numerous problems," and there is general consensus on the pundit right that if Obama had just not pulled our troops out of Iraq to begin with, the situation might be better–although American public opinion wouldn't be. Most of the statements from elected Republicans, though, combine support for the airstrikes with muted and generalized criticism. Roper continues:

In the 3rd Congressional District, Rep. Scott Tipton said, “The use of airstrikes is appropriate given the circumstances and the severe threat that ISIS is posing to the entire region.”

But the Cortez Republican went on to fault Obama, saying the president owed the public a long-term strategy for addressing the ISIS problem.

As for Cory Gardner?

Udall’s Republican challenger, Rep. Cory Gardner, couldn’t be reached for comment because he was on the Western Slope, according to his staff.

Gardner's campaign has reached a degree of shrillness where it may simply difficult for them to say anything complimentary about Mark Udall or Democrats, even on matters of foreign policy where it used to be fashionable to occasionally pretend to show unity. That, or television and phones don't work on the Western Slope? We assume it's the former.

Weekend Open Thread

"When a man's knowledge is not in order, the more of it he has the greater will be his confusion."

–Herbert Spencer

CACI Democratic Endorsements: What RMGO Cost The GOP

CACI.

CACI.

The Denver Business Journal reports on endorsements released today by the pro-business Colorado Association of Commerce and Industry–with a very few perennial exceptions like pro-business Sen. Cheri Jahn, this is an organization well known for supporting Republican candidates over Democrats in the vast majority of cases.

But as Ed Sealover reports, not this year in a couple of key Jefferson County races:

Often known as a Republican-leaning organization, CACI, for example, endorsed Republicans in three of the seven most competitive Senate races, endorsed Democrats in two of them and declined to endorse anyone in two others…

CACI endorsed incumbent Democratic Sens. Rachel Zenzinger of Arvada and Cheri Jahn of Wheat Ridge, who sit in two of the six seats that Republicans feel they can win, and that they need to take control of a Senate that Democrats now hold by an 18-17 margin. Two is the minimum target because most observers believe the GOP will lose a Pueblo-area seat that they won in a recall election last year, but that sits in a heavily Democratic area.

…CACI members were closely divided in the Senate District 16 race, with many liking GOP challenger and former state Sen. Tim Neville, but just enough feeling they could work with Nicholson that Neville’s support fell below the two-thirds level needed for endorsement, [CACI vice president Loren] Furman said.

And in the Senate District 22 race, where Kerr has been known to clash with business groups, there just wasn’t support to endorse Tony Sanchez, a gun-rights supporter who beat more mainstream Republican Mario Nicolais in the primary, she said.

Like we said, Sen. Jahn winning CACI's endorsement isn't a big surprise, since she's one of the more centrist pro-business members of the Democratic majority in the Colorado Senate. But in three other vital Senate races with Democratic incumbents on the defensive–Rachel Zenzinger in SD-19, Jeanne Nicholson in SD-16, and Andy Kerr in SD-22–it certainly appears that the victory of Rocky Mountain Gun Owners-endorsed Republican candidates directly affected CACI's decision to either endorse the Democrat, as with Sen. Zenzinger, or in Sens. Kerr and Nicholson's cases, at least remain neutral in the race. In the House, we see a similar flight to moderation in the endorsement of Rep. Tracy Kraft-Tharp over far-right movie theater owner Susan Kochevar in HD-29. Surely CACI has their key votes to gauge support for their agenda, but beyond that, as the decision to stay out of SD-22 shows especially, this is a tacit acknowledgement of the major disaster the primary defeats of more mainstream Republican challengers represents for the Colorado Republican Party.

Because frankly, if you're a Republican, it takes a lot to alienate these people.

Tom Tancredo is His Own Consultant

Tom Tancredo with top consultant, Tom Tancredo

Tom Tancredo with top campaign consultant, Tom Tancredo (left or right, doesn’t matter).

The June 24th Primary Election may be pretty far in our collective rear-view mirrors, but Election Day doesn't mean that losing campaigns immediately shut down. There are bills left to pay, offices to mothball, rhetoric to file away, etc. And for losing campaigns, there is often cash left over to spend on…stuff. Occasionally, that "stuff" ends up back in the hands of the candidate.

After looking through campaign finance reports from losing campaigns filed in July and August, we found some interesting (if not particularly legal) expenditures. Republican Tom Tancredo's campaign for Governor, for example, lists a total of about 121 separate expenditures made to one "Thomas Tancredo," including out personal favorite, which was reported on June 30, 2014: Tom Tancredo's campaign paid Tom Tancredo $1,300 for "Consultant and Professional Services." 

We're assuming this wasn't considered a bonus for Tancredo's consulting advice that resulted in a Primary loss to Bob Beauprez. It is telling, however, that Beauprez had trouble dispatching a man in Tancredo who apparently wasn't overly interested in running a serious campaign for Governor.

All told, Tancredo's campaign paid Tom Tancredo about $10,501.99 in the year or so that he ran for Governor as a Republican. That's a lot of money to pay yourself for various items, though it pales in comparison to the money that 2010 Republican gubernatorial nominee Dan Maes somehow squirreled away.

If you're wondering, Tancredo is actually a bit of an outlier when it comes to odd expenditures. The campaign for Republican Scott Gessler wrote at least two separate checks to Scott Gessler for $3,468.38 for services described as "Other." On the other hand, Mike Kopp, the other losing GOP candidate for Governor, does not appear to have received any odd expenditure checks from his own campaign.

You can check out some of our more interesting campaign finance findings for Tancredo after the jump…

(more…)

Another Day, Another Fake Obamacare Horror Story

FRIDAY UPDATE #2: Brandon Rittiman of 9News with an equally sharp critique of the ad:

A new TV ad tells a tale of woe about Obamacare using a local woman's story.

Trouble is, the story doesn't really hold water the way the ad presents it.

—–

FRIDAY UPDATE: MSNBC's Steve Benen:

The ad from Karl Rove’s attack operation is online here, but the key takeaway is the degree to which this is familiar – the story of the ACA “victim” that just doesn’t stand up well to scrutiny.
 
For example, the Crossroads ad suggests to Colorado viewers that McKim “had to go back to work” because of health care, but she told a local news outlet, “It wasn’t the Affordable Care Act. It was just a financial burden, having a single income for so long.”

…Colorado, it’s worth noting, has seen a sharp drop in its uninsured rate thanks to “Obamacare.” It would suggest that in reality, health care reform has helped families in Colorado – and all of them would suffer, needlessly, if lawmakers repealed the ACA.

—–

FOX 31's Eli Stokols reports, a new ad from GOP-aligned Crossroads GPS goes after Sen. Mark Udall using another anecdotal "personal story" about the horrors of Obamacare.

Which, like other ads from GOP message groups on the same theme, appears to be completely bogus:

[T]he woman in the ad, Richelle McKim, is actually an employee of an energy company that is among the biggest donors to Udall’s opponent, and her story, which seemingly contradicts information on her publicly available LinkedIn profile, is at least more complicated than the 30-second version hitting Colorado’s airwaves starting Thursday.

In the new spot, titled “Richelle”, McKim is sitting at her kitchen table with a cup of coffee talking about how “policies coming out of Washington really do affect us here at home.”

She describes her husband’s decision to start his own business.

“We knew we needed to find healthcare,” McKim said. “Because we were a single income family, we couldn’t afford our plan.”

On the screen, text appears that reads: “Richelle had to go back to work.”

But as Stokols continues, that's not the whole story by a longshot:

Reached by phone Thursday afternoon at her office, McKim explained that she went back to work in 2010 because it was too tough making ends meet on her husband’s income.

“It wasn’t the Affordable Care Act,” she said. [Pols emphasis] “It was just a financial burden, having a single income for so long.”

As it turns out, Richelle McKim has been employed since well before the Affordable Care Act, a.k.a. Obamacare, even took effect, or took could in any way affect her family's health coverage:

McKim’s own LinkedIn profile shows that she has worked constantly since July 2008 — four months before President Obama was elected.

McKim worked for her husband's company until 2010, when she went to work for Anadarko Petroleum. Today Mrs. McKim is an engineer for Noble Energy. Stokols astutely notes that both Anadarko and Noble Energy have given tens of thousands of dollars to Sen. Udall's GOP opponent Cory Gardner.

Obviously, the ad relays none of these facts to the viewing audience. The ad doesn't say when McKim had to go back to work in order to afford health insurance, but plainly attempts to link her story to Obamacare–even though it's not related. When questioned by Stokols, McKim tells a convoluted story about how her husband previously had "the freedom" to not have insurance, and that's why she thinks Obamacare is bad, even though the ACA mandated coverage for her husband's high blood pressure. That was the reason McKim gave for her husband wanting the "freedom" to go uninsured. In short, the ACA fixed the problem McKim's family had with health insurance.

Bottom line: this is yet another example of a deceptive Republican attack on Obamacare falling apart under even casual scrutiny. McKim gamely tries to defend her story in this ad to Eli Stokols, but it's obvious as soon as she says the words "it wasn't the Affordable Care Act" that this entire ad is a deception. As with the previous ads from Americans for Prosperity and others we've seen, the strategy seems to depend on viewers never finding out that the story they're being told is either fictional or indefensibly misleading.

If it was our face in this ad, we'd have trouble showing it now. But maybe we're quaint like that.