Jeffco School Board Members Attend Meeting Co-Hosted By White Nationalist Hate Group?

UPDATE #3: We've just received word that the flyer from the Evergreen Tea Party shown below may have mistakenly listed the American Freedom Party as a sponsor of last Monday's meeting. There appears to be some confusion on this point, but it's possible that whoever made this flyer mistook the American Freedom Party for another conservative organization that goes by the acronym AFP: Americans for Prosperity.

This would be a fairly comedic error if true, and certainly not the fault of the parents alarmed by this flyer who sent it to us–but would also be, we think, objectively good news. We'll update once we can confirm this latest information.

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UPDATE #2: From a statement forwarded to us by Evergreen High School principal Ryan Alsup:

My goal for the evening was to brag about our school, and let the people know about the great education we currently provide. My address consisted of our data, the data that has made us one of the top ranked schools in the state and country. I am very proud of our students, and staff, and the relationship that we have developed with our immediate community. As a principal, I cannot discuss my own political affiliations, however, please know that I do not condone or support any anti-Semitic or racist views and organizations. It is my job to ensure that we provide a balanced education for all students. We work hard at Evergreen High School to ensure that our students understand the importance of inclusion, and have various student clubs and activities designed to celebrate diversity.

(more…)

Monday Open Thread

"Farce treats the improbable as probable, the impossible as possible."

–George Pierce Baker

Senate Dems Stick With Leaders As Bizarre GOP Leadership Choices Raise Eyebrows

Senate President Morgan Carroll (D).

Outgoing Senate President Morgan Carroll (D).

As the Durango Herald's Peter Marcus reports, Senate Democrats yesterday stood with their leadership from the past two years, re-electing Sens. Morgan Carroll and Rollie Heath to the equivalent top positions of their 17-18 minority that they held as an 18-17 majority:

Carroll defended her side of the aisle's work, suggesting that with Democrats in control, Colorado's economy grew and jobs were created. She also pointed to civil-rights issues, including same-sex civil unions legislation passed in 2013 and efforts supporting renewable energy, including passing a tougher standard for rural parts of the state.

"We will continue to move the state forward to address the real-world needs of the people of Colorado," Carroll said in a statement. "It is an honor to serve with and for so many great senators on behalf of the people of Colorado."

The caucus also elected Sen. Rollie Heath of Boulder to serve as assistant minority leader. Heath currently serves as majority leader.

"The election is over, and now it's time to start governing," Heath said in a statement. "We have a hard-working team. I know we will be effective because we hear one another out and collaborate within the caucus and across the aisle. We all have a shared goal, and that is to ensure Colorado is thriving."

Sen. Jessie Ulibarri was elected Democratic caucus chair yesterday, Sen. Matt Jones will service as minority whip, and Sen. Pat Steadman as senior Democrat on the powerful Joint Budget Committee. With the Senate Democratic minority leadership settled, we now have a full picture of what the legislature will look like when it reconvenes in January.

The only choices of leadership in either party that are really much of a surprise this time are in the Republican Senate Majority. Unlike Democrats, the Senate Republicans predetermined their leadership in private meetings before any vote was held. The selection of moderate Sen. Ellen Roberts as Senate President pro tem has been widely praised, but since then we've heard questions about how much power she might actually wield–suggesting the appointment was more window dressing by Senate President Bill Cadman than an honest intention to moderate his caucus leadership.

Sen. Kevin Lundberg (right).

Sen. Kevin Lundberg (right).

The idea that Cadman is trying to turn over a new leaf for his caucus is further undermined by two other new members of his Senate Republican leadership: Assistant Majority Leader-elect Kevin Lundberg and majority caucus chair-elect Vicki Marble. Lundberg (seen at right shaking hands with recalled anti-imigrant Arizona Sen. Russell Pearce) has a long history as one of the most stridently conservative and outspoken members of the legislature. That outspokenness frequently gets the better of Lundberg's good judgment, leading to embarrassment for him and his caucus–like the time he read the definition of "abstinence" on the Senate floor, mangling the word "vaginal" (video after the jump).

Fried chicken.

Fried chicken.

But for all of Lundberg's crazy-uncle conservatism, his appointment as Assistant Majority Leader at least has some justification in his long legislative experience. Not so with the election of Vicki Marble to the position of majority caucus chair. Nobody we've talked to can make sense of this appointment other than some kind of sharp stick in the eye to Democrats, and even then it seems like a really bad idea. Marble has given Senate Republicans some of their most embarrassing incidents in the last couple of years, with her infamous rant about "problems in the black race," barbeque chicken, and the "Mexican diet" resulting in much thinner brown people in Mexico making national headlines

That was not the first embarrassing moment for Marble, who previously made bizarre statements like "Democrats will do anything to control the way our children learn, live, and even how they act in intimate relationships." Or her speech against equal pay for women, declaring "I feel like we've outgrown the Equal Pay Act of 1963." As we said, there's no policy expertise or legislative experience that justifies Marble's new leadership position in the Republican Senate majority. All she has going for her that we can see is greater name ID from the headlines she has made–and they're not good headlines.

After all the hoopla this week about Republicans retaking the Colorado Senate, which boiled down to a surprise win of a single seat by under 1,000 votes, the leadership decisions made by that new majority have received little attention other than noting the amiable Roberts' appointment as Senate President pro tem. But when the legislature gets down to business next year, the elevation of two of the most gaffe prone among the new one-seat Senate Republican majority may become the bigger story.

Along with Rep.-elect Gordon "Dr. Chaps" Klingenschmitt! If you think about it, the worst-case scenario for next January is pretty darn bad for Colorado Republicans opticswise. In that event, all we can say is that they were amply, amply warned.

(more…)

Weekend Open Thread

"You don't have to burn books to destroy a culture. Just get people to stop reading them."

–Ray Bradbury

Caption This Photo (Your Friday Moment of Zen)

After the election we've just had, who doesn't feel a little like Gov. John Hickenlooper's outgoing chief of staff Roxanne White did at Hickenlooper's victory speech last week?

whitefinger

FOX 31 explained the harmless joke behind the gesture, but nobody cares now. We've all got our own meaning to inject into this touching scene. Lay yours on us after the jump.

The Big Line 2016 is Up

BigLineFlag16PNG

The 2014 election cycle is about 10 days old, which means it's a perfect time to start talking about…2016!

We've updated The Big Line 2016 for your reading and complaining pleasure. A few notes to get you started:

► We are sticking with the percentages rather than returning to fractional betting odds. This is just easier for everyone, all the way around.

► Remember that the percentages reflect our suggested odds for winning a General Election matchup. For example, the Republican candidates for U.S. Senate will likely all have longer odds at winning in 2016 until the Primary field shakes out more completely (after all, you have to win a Primary before you can win a General).

► Because it is a Presidential Election Cycle, we are including the candidates for President — but only to the extent of projecting their chances at winning Colorado in 2016. You know, because this is Colorado Pols and all.

On to The Big Line 2016!

 

Dickey Lee Hullinghorst Elected Speaker of the Colorado House

Speaker-elect Dickey Lee Hullinghorst.

Speaker-elect Dickey Lee Hullinghorst.

UPDATE #2: House Democratic Majority Office press release:

Meeting this morning to organize for the upcoming legislative session, the 28 returnees and 6 newly elected members of the House Democratic caucus for the 70th General Assembly designated Rep. Dickey Lee Hullinghorst to be speaker of the Colorado House of Representatives. 

The caucus also elected Rep. Crisanta Duran (D-Denver) as majority leader, Rep. Dominick Moreno (D-Commerce City) as assistant majority leader, Rep. Angela Williams (D-Denver) as caucus chair, Rep. Mike Foote (D-Lafayette) as assistant caucus chair, Rep. Su Ryden (D-Aurora) as whip and Rep. Brittany Pettersen (D-Lakewood) as deputy whip. 

“People will tell us that a split legislature will place many challenges in our path,” Rep. Hullinghorst said after the vote. “I prefer to regard these as opportunities to succeed. We have the opportunity to work across the aisle in the House, and with the Senate, to develop bipartisan legislation that moves Colorado forward.”

…Speaker-designate Hullinghorst was majority leader in the 69th General Assembly, managing the House calendar through two of the most productive Colorado legislative sessions in memory. 
  
She is beginning her fourth and final term representing House District 10, which includes eastern Boulder and parts of unincorporated Boulder County, including Gunbarrel, where she lives. When she is formally elected on opening day, Jan. 7, to succeed the term-limited Speaker Mark Ferrandino (D-Denver), Rep. Hullinghorst will become the first speaker from Boulder County since 1880. 

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UPDATE: The Denver Post's Lynn Bartels:

Colorado House Democrats on Friday elected the first all-female top leadership team in state history.

Rep. Dickey Lee Hullinghorst of Boulder was elected by her caucus to serve as the powerful speaker, a post she will officially take over when the legislature convenes Jan. 7…

"There are those who look at a split chamber as a huge challenge," she said. "I prefer to look at this as an opportunity."

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That's the word from Democratic House majority leadership elections this morning. Rep. Crisanta Duran defeats Rep. Dan Pabon to become the next House Majority Leader, Rep. Dominick Moreno beats Rep. Beth McCann for assistant majority leader. Rep. Angela Williams wins the post of caucus chair over Rep. Lois Court.

We'll update with a statement from House Democrats and other coverage shortly.

Should Andrew Romanoff Get a Do-Over?

Andrew Romanoff.

Andrew Romanoff.

Roll Call's Abby Livingston jump-started speculation about the 2016 CD-6 race yesterday:

There’s no rest for the weary at the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi has yet to name the new committee chairman for 2016, but the DCCC is already getting a jump on recruiting during the final days of New York Rep. Steve Israel’s tenure.

On Thursday morning, Israel held the first 2016 recruitment meeting since Election Day. He named two northeastern congressional districts as top targeting opportunities, and party strategists are readying for at least five rematches from 2014, according to a committee aide…

Two unsuccessful Democratic candidates from 2014 will be asked to make another run — former Colorado House Speaker Andrew Romanoff, who lost to Rep. Mike Coffman, [Pols emphasis] and Maine state Sen. Emily Cain, who lost an open-seat race to Rep.-elect Bruce Poliquin.

This was the first word we've heard that Andrew Romanoff, who lost heavily in last week's elections to Republican incumbent Rep. Mike Coffman, might be recruited for a 2016 rematch. This report touched off another round of speculation about Romanoff's viability in local press–FOX 31's Eli Stokols:

Romanoff, who sat out 2012 and then announced his decision to challenge Coffman in 2014 almost as soon as the calendar turned to 2013 and spent the full two-year cycle raising an impressive $5 million, only garnered 43 percent of the vote in the re-drawn district.

But he lost by nine points amidst a GOP wave after failing to make inroads with blue collar voters in Adams County and to overcome Coffman’s withwering portrayal of the former statehouse Speaker as a self-interested carpetbagger who moved from Denver to the suddenly competitive district simply because he saw it as a way to get to Washington.

The Denver Post's Jon Murray:

While Andrew Romanoff isn’t saying much about his plans following his loss last week to Republican U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman, D.C. news outlet Roll Call reported Thursday that House Democrats will mount an effort to recruit him to run again in 2016.

That would be against the advice of some Colorado political observers and Democratic activists, who told The Denver Post in a story this week that Romanoff ought to consider stepping back from politics for a while. He’s lost two hard-fought races in a row…

Through his campaign spokeswoman, Romanoff declined to comment Thursday. But the DCCC reiterated to The Post that he was a strong candidate this year, despite his 52 percent-43 percent loss.

We've been pretty blunt in our assessment that Romanoff underperformed in this election–relative to other Democrats on the ballot with him, and certainly below the high expectations he had going into this race. We have given credit to Romanoff for dramatically exceeding expectations with regard to fundraising, but Romanoff's bland and centrist campaign message failed to motivate base Democrats to support him. After 2012 underdog Joe Miklosi came within two points of ousting Coffman, Romanoff's drubbing has turned Coffman into one of the state's stronger Republican candidates for higher office.

Apropos, Eli Stokols notes early speculation that Coffman may run against Sen. Michael Bennet in 2016, which would open the CD-6 seat and once again create a prime opportunity for Democrats to pick it up. In that event, would Romanoff be the best choice to try again, or would Democrats be smarter to turn to others in this district? Stokols mentions Senate President Morgan Carroll as a possible contender, as well as Karen Middleton–the former state legislator who at one point was set to challenge Romanoff for the Democratic CD-6 nomination but then withdrew from the race.

What say you, readers? We'd guess there are a number of people reading who would like your opinion.

Friday Open Thread

"Doubt is a pain too lonely to know that faith is his twin brother."

–Khalil Gibran

“No Labels” Completes Transition To GOP Front Group

Mark McKinnon, former Bush advisor and No Labels cofounder.

Mark McKinnon, former Bush advisor and No Labels cofounder.

National Journal reports on a notable development in the aftermath of Republican Cory Gardner's narrow defeat of incumbent Democratic Sen. Mark Udall–a "nonpartisan" nonprofit group based in Washington D.C. named No Labels, formed by former George W. Bush advisor Mark McKinnon, stoked controversy earlier this year when Gardner touted their "endorsement"–which the group speedily walked back claiming they don't endorse candidates, or in fact endorsed anyone who agreed to support their "Problem Solver" agenda (it was a little unclear). It was later reported that this episode caused a major rift within the No Labels organization.

Well, as National Journal's Alex Brown reports, that rift has been "healed" by the resignation of No Labels' Democratic co-chair, West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin. After dozens of No Labels t-shirts were seen dotting the crowd at Gardner's victory party on Election Night, it would have been hard for Manchin not to resign:

Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin stepped down Friday as one of the group's honorary cochairs, a move prompted by No Labels' backing of Republican Rep. Cory Gardner in his victory over Sen. Mark Udall. "He was upset by the decision to be active against a very moderate member of the Senate who had worked in a bipartisan way and had a track record of doing so," said a source familiar with Manchin's thinking…

"They have adopted a label, and the label starts with an 'R,' " said a Democratic strategist allied with Manchin. The strategist cited the group's backing of Gardner—and the staffers it sent to help his election—as a stick in the eye of Senate Democrats.

"They were picking a tea-party Republican over an avowed centrist," he said. "They backed the precisely wrong guy in the precisely wrong race, and they did it in a way that seemed to be intentionally provocative. They were wading into the backyard of [Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee Chairman Michael Bennet of Colorado], into the most closely watched, hotly contested race of the cycle against a moderate. There wasn't anything that they could have done in this cycle that would have been more provocative to Democrats than that…"

"When they sent … paid field staffers into Colorado and made it clear that they weren't just giving Gardner a seal of approval, they were endorsing him and working to elect him, that was an incredible betrayal not just of Manchin but of everyone that they've worked with in Democratic politics," said the Democratic strategist. "You will not see a single Democratic Senate office working with No Labels again." [Pols emphasis]

John McCain, Joe Lieberman.

John McCain, Joe Lieberman.

With Sen. Manchin out, who do you suppose is taking over the "Democratic" co-chairmanship of No Labels? Get ready to laugh.

Former Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) is stepping into the position vacated by Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) at the centrist group No Labels…

“I’m delighted to be joining No Labels at this critical time,” Lieberman said. “We are getting closer, as a nation, to healing our divisions and working together, but we have a long way to go. The 2016 presidential elections are a great opportunity to focus on problem-solving, and No Labels is the only group that can make that happen.”

Manchin announced Friday that he was stepping down from his position with No Labels. The move appeared to be connected to the group’s decision to endorse Rep. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) in his race against Sen. Mark Udall (D), which outraged Democrats.

That's right–Joe Lieberman, the hawkish, heavy-on-the-former Democrat who lost Connecticut's Democratic Senate primary in 2006 only to win the election as an independent, is now the head Democrat at No Labels. After 2006, Lieberman remained uneasily within the Democratic fold, but his 2008 endorsement of Republican presidential candidate John McCain (above right) left him with few allies in the party–and he resigned after his last term ended in 2012. For most loyal Democrats today, Lieberman is more what you would call a "Pretendocrat."

On second thought, for this fake "nonpartisan" group, maybe Joe Lieberman is the perfect Pretendocrat? Not for actually attracting Democrats, of course. For pretending to! Because we suspect it will be difficult for No Labels to attract real Democrats going forward.

Stephen Colbert Inevitably Discovers “Dr. Chaps”

When we say that the election of Gordon "Dr. Chaps" Klingenschmitt to the Colorado General Assembly a week ago is a "victory" that Colorado Republicans will come to sorely regret, last night's episode of The Colbert Report is what we mean.

Raw Story:

“Yes,” Colbert replied, “it is reminiscent of the positive campaign the villagers ran to elect Frankenstein. But Klingenschmitt stands for so much more. He doesn’t hate the gays, he’s just concerned for them, as he demonstrates on his YouTube program.”

“The demonic spirits inside the homosexual agenda are trying to redefine family,” Klingenschmitt says in the clip, “trying to homosexualize your children. Jesus, if he were giving marriage counseling to two gay men who were married, Jesus would command them to get divorced.”

“Yes,” Colbert responded, “if Jesus were their marriage counselor, he would tell them to get divorced. And he would take 65 minutes to do it, so he could charge them the second hour. But it’s not just the gays — everyone needs a little Klingenschmitt exorcism.”

"If you're not voting for him, you're voting for the Democrat and quite honestly legislative majorities matter," said Klingenschmitt's predecessor in House District 15, former House Minority Leader Mark Waller, explaining how he or anyone could vote for a candidate who honestly believes that the President of the United States–among many, many others–is literally possessed by demons. Or that a sitting member of Congress wants to "join ISIS" in beheading Americans. Or that Obamacare "causes cancer," and the FCC is allowing "demonic spirits" to "visually rape your children." As our readers know, we could go on and on and on. The only thing that's changed now is that Klingenschmitt has actually won elected office–and as a state representative, Klingenschmitt metastasizes from irrelevant sideshow freak to a nationwide poster child for the far Republican right.

And before the story of "Dr. Chaps" is over, we predict Mark Waller will eat his words.

Welcome Back, J. Paul Brown!

Cletus Spuckler.

Cletus Spuckler.

As the Durango Herald reports today, one of the more colorful additions to the Colorado General Assembly from the 2010 Republican wave is coming back to the Capitol in January:

[A]s of the final tally of La Plata County cured ballots Wednesday night, [Rep. Mike] McLachlan was still trailing Republican challenger J. Paul Brown by 163 votes districtwide.

Brown had 17,246 to McLachlan’s 17,083, with 34,329 votes cast in total across the district.

Since Election Day, McLachlan has run up his vote total in La Plata County, getting 11,949 to Brown’s 10,621.

But it wasn’t enough to tip the scales.

Parker said the 0.95 percent margin of difference wasn’t close enough to trigger an automatic recount.

Rep. J. Paul Brown was ousted in 2012 by Democrat Mike McLachlan by a considerably bigger margin than he just recaptured the HD-59 seat with, which may rightfully make you wonder if HD-59 is destined to bounce back and forth between presidential and off years until the next reapportionment in 2020. It seems like the partisan divide in the district is close enough, and the swing between presidential and off year electorates wide enough, to set that in motion.

Democrats are sorry to lose McLachlan, even as they celebrate holding their majority in the House. Looking ahead, though, as we saw with Brown's last term in 2011-12, the short term loss could become a long-term bonus for Democrats. Rep. Brown frequently made headlines for his UN conspiracy theories, embarrassing homespun gaffes, and bizarre protest votes: once casting the only vote against a homeless youth prevention bill, and famously saying in explanation of his vote against children's health care coverage, "if I’m wrong, I guess, take me out behind the barn and give me a whipping."

In 2012, the voters of HD-59 did so. McLachlan was targeted by the gun lobby for his role in the passage of 2013's gun safety bills, even though McLachlan's primary contribution was to increase the magazine limit from 10 to 15 rounds in order to accommodate a variety of automatic pistols. But for all the money spent to oust McLachlan, a margin under 200 votes in a GOP wave year doesn't inspire much confidence for holding this seat in 2016.

And frankly, neither does J. Paul Brown.

Thursday Open Thread

"If a politician found he had cannibals among his constituents, he would promise them missionaries for dinner."

–H. L. Mencken

Scuttlebutt: Did Bill Cadman Shaft Recall Hero Bernie Herpin?

Sen. Bernie Herpin (R).

Sen. Bernie Herpin (R).

Even though Colorado Republicans took over the state senate in this year's elections by a single seat, Democrats have consoled themselves with two wins both symbolically and strategically important: taking back the two seats lost in last year's recall elections in Colorado Springs and Pueblo. In Pueblo's Senate District 3, Democrats winning back the seat was practically a foregone conclusion: the district is overwhelmingly Democrats, and the recall would not have succeeded there were it not for Byzantine political squabbles in Pueblo that further weakened the incumbent.

In SD-11, covering urban Colorado Springs and relatively liberal Manitou Springs, the numbers don't favor Democrats nearly as much, and recall winner Bernie Herpin had at least some hope of keeping his seat. This is, after all, the seat that John Morse barely held in 2010 in addition to having lost last year. Reapportionment shored up the seat for Democrats to some degree, but it was still by far the more competitive of the two. What's more, these seats had enormous symbolic value after the nationwide attention paid to the 2013 recalls. In the aftermath of last week's elections, the ouster of both recall winners has been cited nationally as evidence that the Republican wave was at least partially broken in Colorado.

Part of the consoling irony for Democrats in Herpin's ouster by a wide margin a week ago is the man who ousted him: Michael Merrifield, a former state representative who also served as the state organizer for national gun control group Mayors Against Illegal Guns. All told, the gun lobby's "wave of fear" strategy of using the Colorado recalls to forestall gun safety legislation in other states may be what took the real beating last Tuesday:

Now it’s gun-control activists who are crowing.

Mark Glaze, former executive director of the group Everytown for Gun Safety, said the results showed that when a significant portion of the electorate turns out, rather than a small, agitated minority, support for something like universal background checks for gun buyers is a politically winning position. (That was part of the package Hickenlooper, who was reelected Tuesday, signed into law.)

“The message remains that the [National Rifle Association] can bully politicians or buy them for a few pieces of silver but they have no influence over the general public,” Glaze said.

Bottom line: sources tell us that internal El Paso County rivalries may have kept the Senate Republicans from doing more to help Bernie Herpin this year, even after he became a national hero for the party because of his recall victory. In a year where money was lavished on Republican legislative candidates, there was apparently nothing in the way of outside money to defend this particular member of the GOP caucus in a wave Republican year. Responsibility for that, to the extent it's true, would fall on incoming Colorado Senate President Bill Cadman as the chief strategist of the GOP's Senate campaign efforts.

There is other evidence that Cadman didn't like and/or trust Bernie Herpin much, like Herpin's assignment to the frequently toxic Senate State Affairs Committee this year while Pueblo's George Rivera got more politically defensible assignments. Now, maybe the GOP saw data that made them write this seat off early, but we can tell you that Democrats made the full investment in SD-11 as with races they considered competitive. And if you think Pueblo's intra-Democratic relations are sketchy, compare them with the backstab fest that is the El Paso County Republican Party.

If Cadman did cede the one seat the gun lobby could have held on to from last year's historic recall elections, especially for (to put it diplomatically) nonstrategic reasons, we can't see how that will be good for the already tense partnership between the Dudley Browns of the world and the Colorado GOP.