Denver Municipal Races: Fundraising Update

Back in January we sifted through the various races for the May 5th Denver Municipal election. As we said at time time, some of the Denver races were still just beginning to shake out; with new fundraising number available, it’s time again to take a look at the very large field of candidates.

The fundraising numbers below were compiled through publicly-available reports that can be accessed via the website of the Denver Clerk and Recorder. While anyone can access campaign finance data and make their own spreadsheet — heck, we do it all the time for state races — we did not actually pull all of these reports on our own. Most of the work was done by Denver political consultant Matt Derrington (Derrington Consulting), who compiled this data on his own and kindly shared it with Denver Pols to re-purpose here. For more on the latest Denver fundraising numbers, check out Jon Murray at the Denver Post.

Okay, let’s get to it. We’ll take you through the numbers, race-by-race, after the jump…


The Last Call, Well and Truly: GOP Expected to Oust State Chair

Ryan Call, Steve House.

Ryan Call (left) and his likely replacement, Steve House.

If you have any clever puns to play off of the name “Ryan Call,” now would be the time to use them.

Republicans will convene on Saturday to select their Party leadership for the next two years, and from everything we hear, State Party Chair Ryan Call will almost certainly lose his re-election bid to challenger Steve House. The conclusion is so forgone, in fact, that Call has apparently already come to terms with his fate and is now just hoping to keep the final tally from turning into a rout for House.

Colorado Republicans had a pretty good year at the polls in 2014, but as we told you back in December, the knives were coming out for Call anyway. Republican insiders have never been comfortable with paying a hefty salary to a State Party Chair, and it was this concern over the State GOP budget that got the ball of change rolling. Call has since been plagued by stories of shady campaign finance connections, and the Chair’s race has taken on the kind of bizarre paranoia that Colorado Republicans do best. The list of grievances aimed at Call continues to grow.

House is a former Adams County Republican Chair, and 2014 candidate for governor, who in many ways was an ideal candidate to put forth to challenge Call. House is independently wealthy and doesn’t need the salary that Call has been collecting, which makes it easy for him to push for the GOP to return to a pre-Dick Wadhams era when Party Chair wasn’t a full-time paid gig.

With Call likely to lose on Saturday, the story now turns to Senator Cory Gardner, who has publicly and privately supported the two-term GOP Chair. Gardner is reportedly collecting proxies from around the state to support Call on Saturday, and a loss for Call will be a serious black eye for Gardner’s image. National media outlets praised Gardner as a rising star following his November defeat of Sen. Mark Udall, but how will they gauge Gardner’s inability to get his own State Party Chair re-elected? Gardner is already reeling from backlash over the infamous “Dear Iran” letter, and soon he’ll be asked to explain why the GOP faithful in Colorado have already tuned him out.


GOP Senators Reeling From Iran Letter Backlash

Who, me?

Who, me?

As we noted in today’s Get More Smarter news roundup, Senate Republicans are expressing surprise over the fierce backlash against their letter to the government of Iran attempting to scuttle negotiations to halt that nation’s nuclear program. A little more from the Politico story we linked to:

Some Republican senators admitted Wednesday they were caught off guard by the backlash to a letter warning Iranian leaders against a nuclear agreement with President Barack Obama. And Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said Republicans — many of whom blessed the missive during a brisk signing session at a Senate lunch a week ago, as senators prepared to flee a Washington snowstorm — should have given it closer consideration.

“It was kind of a very rapid process. Everybody was looking forward to getting out of town because of the snowstorm,” McCain said. “I think we probably should have had more discussion about it, given the blowback that there is.” [Pols emphasis]

Foreign policy gone bad.

Foreign policy gone bad.

Editorial boards around the nation have weighed in blisteringly against the Senate GOP majority, here’s a brief roundup beginning with the Los Angeles Times:

In the past, individual members of Congress have criticized foreign policies being pursued by the president and even met with foreign leaders the president sought to isolate. But this letter is an exponentially more offensive encroachment on presidential authority.

The Boston Globe:

The letter not only undercuts the president’s traditional authority to oversee the shaping of foreign policy but badly undermines America’s credibility in the international community.

And the San Francisco Chronicle:

The latest message stands as another example of GOP obstructionism that stalls immigration reform and climate-change policy, brings government to the brink of closing down, and repeatedly goes after Obama’s health care law. Some Republicans appear almost maniacal in their zeal to deny the president any accomplishments. The Senate letter now pushes this mind-set into foreign affairs. By interfering, these lawmakers are breaking with the time-honored notion that the nation should have one foreign policy.

Here in Colorado, we’re seeing a somewhat different reaction to freshman Sen. Cory Gardner’s signing on to the Iran letter from our state’s newspaper of record, the Denver Post. A day ago, the Post published a very short editorial condemning the letter titled “Grandstanding on Iran in the U.S. Senate.” Last night, however, the Post ran an unusual second editorial within 24 hours on the same issue. The Post’s second editorial is still critical of the letter, but also subtly works to downplay its importance, as well as to quash any notion that the letter was “treasonous”–even going as far as portraying that allegation as more unreasonable that the GOP’s sending of the letter. To this end, they tangentially smack Rep. Jared Polis for referring to the letter’s author, Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas, as “Tehran Tom.”

The Post doesn’t go quite far enough to contradict themselves, but it’s pretty obvious that between their first editorial on the Iran letter and their second one, they got a phone call. This is the same Denver Post, after all, that endorsed Gardner after a widely-rumored intervention by longtime publisher Dean Singleton.

With public backlash continuing to grow over the Senate Republicans’ actions, we seriously doubt that the Post’s nuanced running of cover for Gardner will shield him from criticism. It’s increasingly clear that “different kind of Republican” Cory Gardner seriously miscalculated the response to signing this letter, and this incident puts a major dent in his veneer of bipartisanship.

Other Republicans up for election much sooner may come to regret it as well.

Get More Smarter on Thursday (March 12)

Get More SmarterOn this day in 1912, the Girl Scouts were founded; that’s what it says on our free wall calendar, anyway. 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).



Republicans are surprised that there has been so much backlash over the “Dear Iran” letter. That anyone would be surprised at the reaction tells you a lot about Senate Republicans. Via Politico:

Though none of the 47 Republican signers has expressed regret for co-signing it, the missive, authored by freshman Sen. Tom Cotton, is creating unexpected fallout in Congress. And it threatens to linger politically and legislatively.

Utah legislators want to bring back the firing squad for executing prisoners. That is a real sentence.

 Get even more smarter after the jump…


Rep. Dan Thurlow Keeps On Bucking GOP Caucus

Rep. Dan Thurlow (R).

Rep. Dan Thurlow (R).

As the Grand Junction Sentinel’s Charles Ashby reports today, freshman GOP Rep. Dan Thurlow is emerging as something of a wild card within the Colorado GOP House minority. We took note of a vote by Thurlow earlier this session against a Rocky Mountain Gun Owners bill to ease the acquisition of machine guns, rockets, and other military-grade weapons. But that’s not the only issue on which Thurlow is throwing off his fellow Republicans:

Rep. Dan Thurlow earned a lot of respect from Democrats on Tuesday when he was the only Republican in the Colorado House to vote for a bill to ban conversion therapy for gays and lesbians…

“To me, the conservative position is to stay out of other people’s lives, and everybody should have the ability to live the life they want,” Thurlow said after casting his vote. “I’m not trying to change anybody.”

Immediately after the vote, the sponsor of the bill, Rep. Paul Rosenthal, D-Denver and one of seven openly gay lawmakers in the Legislature, shook Thurlow’s hand and thanked him for his vote.

The bill passed the House 35-29, but faces an uncertain future in the GOP-controlled Senate, where it now heads.

As Ashby reports, Thurlow also voted against two so-called “religious freedom” bills this week, joining majority House Democrats to kill what opponents called legislation granting a “right to discriminate.” Thurlow also helped vote down an attempt by Republicans to roll back vehicle registration late fees passed in 2009 that have funded dozens of bridge replacement projects around the state.

House Minority Leader Brian DelGrosso, for his part, is paying lip service to the idea that all of his caucus members are independent actors representing their constituents:

“I’m the minority leader that allows my members to vote how they feel like they need to best represent their district,” DelGrosso said. “I’ve never instructed any of those folks that they need to bear the Republican torch on every issue. I’ve said from day one, we’re going to have caucus issues, but the reality is, if you feel like you need to vote a different way for your district, that’s why you were sent here.”

This is, of course, exactly what you’d expect DelGrosso to say in public. Behind the scenes, however, we’ve heard that Thurlow’s votes are greatly irritating many other House Republicans, and stirring up opposition in Thurlow’s safely Republican Mesa County district. Thurlow is no Jared Wright, whose personal financial indiscretions before taking office and embarrassing mistakes as a freshman legislator made him a one-term wonder–but if Thurlow keeps voting his conscience instead of the GOP party line, it’s not unreasonable to speculate that he might share Wright’s fate.

And that would be a real shame. Colorado Republicans need more Dan Thurlows.

Even More Senate GOP “Anti-Vaxxer” Nuttery

Today, the GOP-controlled Colorado Senate gave final passage to House Bill 15-1075, bipartisan legislation meant to regulate naturopathic health care providers–some people call them “doctors,” but we don’t–who treat children under two years of age. From the bill’s summary text:

Current law prohibits a registered naturopathic doctor (ND) from treating a child who is under 2 years of age. The bill permits an ND to treat a child who is under 2 years of age if the ND:

• Provides the child’s parent with the current recommended immunization schedule for children;

• Demonstrates, prior to treating a child under 2 years of age and in each year in which the ND treats a child under 2 years of age, completion of 3 hours per year of education or training in pediatrics;

• Requires the child’s parent to sign an informed consent acknowledging that the ND is registered under the “Naturopathic Doctor Act” and is not a licensed physician, recommending that the child maintain a relationship with a licensed pediatric health care provider, and requesting permission to collaborate with the child’s pediatric health care provider;

• On the first visit, refers a child who does not have a relationship with a pediatric health care provider to a licensed physician who treats pediatric patients for a wellness evaluation; and

• Complies with director rules pertaining to the training, referral, and communication requirements.

The legislation did pass today, but not before hard-right Sen. Tim Neville took the unusual step of offering what’s known as a “third reading amendment.” The third reading of a bill is its final step before approval or rejection by a legislative chamber, so Neville had to obtain special permission to introduce Amendment L.008. What was so important in this amendment that Neville found this unusual procedure necessary, you ask?

That’s right, folks–Neville’s amendment sought to strike a provision requiring naturopathic “doctors” to recommend that parents follow the CDC recommendations for childhood immunizations. Not to force children to be immunized, mind you, since you can’t do that in Colorado, just to recommend immunization.

Neville’s last-minute amendment was not successful. GOP Sens. Larry Crowder, Ellen Roberts, and Beth Martinez Humenik joined with Democrats to kill L.008 and pass the bill. But that also means most of the Senate GOP leadership, linchpin 2016 target Sen. Laura Waters Woods, along with multiple other 2016 targets have lodged yet another “anti-vaxxer” vote in the permanent record.

After the disastrous press Senate Republicans endured following passage of the so-called “Parent’s Bill of Rights,” which would make it even easier for unvaccinated children to attend Colorado public schools, we’re genuinely surprised that Senate President Bill Cadman would allow a vote on this amendment at all–let alone vote for it himself along with most of his caucus.

Perhaps they really can’t help themselves.

Get More Smarter on Wednesday (March 11)

Get More SmarterHere’s a sentence nobody ever wants to have said about them: It’s not technically treason. 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).



► Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner talked to the Denver Post (sort of) about his decision to sign his name to the now-infamous “Dear Iran” letter. Gardner’s weird, rambling response to a letter that spawned the hashtag #47Traitors did nothing to explain why he thought this was a good idea. Mike Littwin wonders who was more humiliated about this letter — Republicans or President Obama – while dissecting this political disaster for the GOP.

► Speaking of the “Dear Iran” letter, the Denver Post editorial board used a whole five sentences to opine on the issue yesterday. This is the same newspaper, of course, that endorsed Gardner for Senate in 2014.

► The anti-vaxxers in the Colorado legislature have re-emerged on an amendment offered to an otherwise uninteresting naturopathic bill:

 Get even more smarter after the jump…


Gardner Ducks Questions About Iran Letter

Cory Gardner Iran Letter

Sen. Cory Gardner meant no harm in signing the “Dear Iran” letter. He just wanted a pen pal (yeah, that’s the ticket!)

UPDATE: Gardner talks to Mark Matthews of the Denver Post, and doubles-down on the nonsense:

Gardner said the point was making clear that Congress was adamantly against the possibility of an Iran armed with nuclear weapons, and that anything else was a distraction too. [Pols emphasis]

“If you listen to the reaction of the administration, they are in hyperdrive trying to downplay what’s really at stake,” Gardner said. “That’s why the president is trying so hard to distract people from the real issue.”…

…Asked about its long-term effects, Gardner said [the letter] does nothing to hinder his campaign goal of trying work the ideological middle of the Senate.

The Iran issue “is a prime example of where we can and should work together,” he said.

Shrug. Blame President Obama. Talk about working together. Repeat.

Gardner’s entire explanation is horseshit. He says the point was to make clear to Iran that “Congress” is adamantly against a nuclear-armed Iran…except that the letter wasn’t even signed by every Republican in the Senate.

No dice, Senator. You owe Coloradans more of an answer than this.


The asinine “Dear Iran” letter signed by 47 Republican Senators is becoming a bigger story by the day as Republicans who declined to sign are questioning the letter’s logic. It’s tough to defend when Iran responds by calling it a “Propaganda Ploy.”

From TPM:

Conspicuously absent among signatories to the letter is Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN), the chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, who says he’s working to build a veto-proof majority for his legislation restricting President Barack Obama’s negotiating options with Iran and ensuring congressional approval before any deal is struck. He hinted that the Cotton letter wouldn’t help advance the cause.

“I knew it was going to be only Republicans on [the letter]. I just don’t view that as where I need to be today,” Corker told Politico

The gambit is earning attention well outside traditional foreign policy circles. As of Tuesday morning, the hashtag #47Traitors was the No. 1 trending topic on Twitter in the United States. [Pols emphasis]

NY Daily News Traitors

Front page of today’s NY Daily News.

As Politico reports, the seven Republican Senators who declined to sign the letter have been open about their concern with the strategy. Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner is one of the 47 Senators who did sign the letter, but he’s not talking (naturally). Via Eli Stokols at FOX 31:

Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner didn’t back down Tuesday as controversy continued to swirl around the letter he and most of his Senate GOP colleagues signed in an effort to undermine a diplomatic breakthrough with Iran to limit that country’s nuclear program.

He also declined to answer more questions about it…[Pols emphasis]

…Asked for additional comment Tuesday, Gardner’s office stood by its statement from Monday, even amidst new debate in Washington about whether the move, whatever its impact on a potential deal with Iran, is a violation of the Logan Act, which prohibits American citizens from communicating with foreign governments to conduct their own foreign policy.

Gardner’s statement on Monday was a ham-handed attempt to downplay the letter as a clarification for Iranian leaders on our system of government. That Gardner has refused to elaborate today is no real surprise, but he also deserves the criticism he is receiving. He’s a U.S. Senator now — Gardner can’t just shrug off this kind of thing like he did when he was in the House of Representatives.

This isn’t just silly partisan politics at play — this is dangerous. If you are going to sign your name to a letter that openly undermines the diplomatic process of the United States government…you damn well better explain yourself.

The Latest In Gun Nut Fashion?

Half-empty Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on mag limit repeal yesterday.

Half-empty Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on mag limit repeal yesterday.

As the Durango Herald’s Peter Marcus reports, gun rights activists once again failed to pack the Capitol with supporters of their bill to repeal the magazine capacity limit, despite intense rallying of their base in days prior:

Republicans controlling a Senate committee on Monday passed a measure that would repeal the state’s ban on high-capacity ammunition magazines…

Debate was expected to last into the evening, but testimony finished early, [Pols emphasis] allowing lawmakers to take a vote, which passed on a 3-2 party-line tally.

Republicans are likely to push the measure through the Senate, where they control the chamber and have the support of four Democrats. But the bill is unlikely to make it through the House, where Democrats sit in the majority and are considering sending the measure to an unfavorable committee.

The gun lobby may not have been able to fill yesterday’s hearing, but what they lacked in numbers they appeared to make up for with…well, interesting fashion choices:


That’s Sen. Randy Baumgardner standing with a “gun guy” who came to testify in favor of Senate Bill 175 yesterday. Now, we don’t want to betray ignorance of something we’re supposed to know about–but can anyone tell us what the hell this guy is wearing and why? They didn’t have guns in Game of Thrones. Braveheart didn’t wear anything like this–at least we don’t think, it’s been awhile since we’ve seen it. We see what looks like an NRA patch on the front of his…smock, robe, whatever this is, but beyond that we really don’t have a clue.

But as with any fringe subculture with their own uniforms, we’re curious.

Get More Smarter on Tuesday (March 10)

Get More SmarterDear Iran: Did u get our letter? Write back soon!

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).



► Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner is among 47 Republican Senators who signed a letter to Iran in a bizarre attempt to undercut the Obama Administration in talks over a nuclear agreement. This was really, really, really not a good idea.

► Congressman Scott Tipton (R-Cortez) says that Republicans in Congress do NOT want to repeal Obamacare. Tipton’s remarks came during a speaking engagement with the Glenwood Springs Chamber Resort Association on Monday.

► Wait just a minute…Rep. Scott Tipton really said that Congressional Republicans do NOT want to repeal Obamacare? House Republicans have cast some 60 votes to repeal Obamacare since 2011, with the most recent vote coming last month.

Get even more smarter after the jump…


Sen. Larry Crowder: “I Want The Ladies To Stay Pretty”

Cringeworthy video this morning from the well of the Colorado Senate, here’s Sen. Larry Crowder discussing his reasons for voting yes on House Bill 15-1144, banning the use of tiny plastic “microbeads” in personal care products that are accumulating in waterways:

CROWDER: Thank you Mister Chair, I wrestled with this bill harder than any bill I’ve had to date. The very idea of our facial cream, if the ladies had to give that, that, the beads up, would that affect the beauty of the ladies in which we deal with on a daily basis? I say, my fellow Americans, I was assured that it does, it would not, so therefore I will be a yes vote on this. I do believe the industry came forward in droves and indicated that they would like to quit making this, but the beauty of the ladies in which we deal with is a real factor to me, and I struggled with this, but I am gonna be a yes vote. And I hope this is the right vote, because I want the ladies to stay pretty. [Pols emphasis] Thank you.

So, um, this is one of those jokes that was maybe a little bit funny the first run-through, even forgivable from a crusty Stetson-toting sagebrushy guy like Larry Crowder. As you can hear in the video, he got a small courtesy laugh out of “the beauty of the ladies in which we deal with” when he first trotted that punchline out.

By the end, you’re just like, this is kind of creepy.

Senate Republicans Want Iran to Know How Important They Are

New York Daily News Senate Traitors

Good move, Senate Republicans.

TUESDAY UPDATE: Senate Republicans are getting hammered by national media outlets for the now infamous “Iran Letter.” Bloomberg News looks at reactions from around the country, and the New York Daily News…well, the front page (right) is pretty clear.

Original post follows…


Senate Republicans have taken a bizarre step in foreign relations, as Politico reports:

In a highly unusual move, a group of 47 Republicans in the upper chamber has written to Iran’s top leaders to let them know that any nuclear deal they reach with the United States would be “nothing more than an executive agreement.”…

Senator Cory Gardner.

Senator Cory Gardner is among the 47 Republicans who signed a letter to the leaders of Iran.

…California Rep. Adam Schiff, the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, called the letter “deeply irresponsible.”

“We are so far beyond politics ending at the water’s edge,” Schiff said on MSNBC’s “Andrea Mitchell Reports.” “And on an issue of this seminal importance while sensitive negotiations are going forward, for these senators to interfere in this way, it’s really unthinkable. And it just shows how the political process has degenerated that these senators would take such a step.”

Colorado Senator Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) is among the 47 signatories on the letter. Republicans control the largest majority in Congress since the New Deal…and they are writing letters to foreign leaders telling them to ignore the rest of the government.