Gardner Renewable Energy Ad Crashes and Burns

I cowrote the law to launch our state's green energy industry.

Rep. Cory Gardner (R).

Rep. Cory Gardner (R).

​Refreshing journalism yesterday from the AP's Kristen Wyatt, fact-checking GOP Senate candidate Cory Gardner's latest TV spot:

GOP Senate candidate Cory Gardner, framed by sunflowers and wind turbines, tells voters in a campaign ad this week that he co-wrote a law to launch Colorado's green-energy economy. He leaves out that the law was repealed five years later, deemed useless for not enabling a single project. [Pols emphasis]

"Gardner's claiming credit for launching Colorado's clean-energy economy and he did not. Coloradans did that and Coloradans deserve the credit," said Chris Harris, spokesman for incumbent Democratic Sen. Mark Udall. Udall's camp has been deriding Gardner's wind-turbine ad and the Republicans' touting of the 2007 law…

In a press release touting the turbine ad that first aired on Monday, Gardner's campaign cited a 2007 speech by then-Gov. Bill Ritter, a Democrat, who predicted the Gardner bill would "solve one of the biggest challenges when it comes to clean energy."

What we're talking about here is legislation sponsored by Gardner meant to create a "Clean Energy Development Authority" to provide money for clean energy-related upgrade projects. Wyatt makes specific reference to transmission line upgrades as one example. This legislation passed three years after Colorado passed Amendment 37, the state's landmark renewable energy standard law. And it's true that, at the time it was passed, Democrats and Republicans praised the legislation as you can read from then-Gov. Bill Ritter's press release above.

But unfortunately for Gardner, that's not the whole story:

But the authority had financing caveats that made it toothless, said Tom Plant, who oversaw the authority from its creation until 2011 as head of the Governor's Energy Office…

The authority never had a staff and did little but gather once a year to report to the legislature that it had made no progress. By 2012 the authority was scrapped, part of a larger makeover of the Energy Office, now called the Colorado Energy Office.

"There's no point in having something that can't do anything," said Plant, [Pols emphasis] now a policy adviser at the Center for the New-Energy Economy at Colorado State University. The center is run by Ritter, who set up the Governor's Energy Office and appointed Plant to run it.

Bottom line: in every meaningful way, it was Amendment 37 that "launched" Colorado's new energy economy. One of the foremost champions of Amendment 37 was none other than then-Rep., now Sen. Mark Udall. Cory Gardner opposed Amendment 37, as did most Republicans in 2004. Three years later, Gardner helped with a bipartisan bill to finance energy projects that ended up not working out.

The leap from these facts to Gardner's claim he "cowrote the law to launch our state's green energy industry" is, any way you look at it, totally absurd. It cannot be validated by even the most strained definitions. It is a lie every bit as blatant as Gardner's bogus distinction between state and federal Personhood, and it's another case of Gardner trying to "greenwash" his longstanding support for the oil and gas industry. And in a pattern we're seeing repeat itself, Gardner's spokesman Alex Siciliano only makes it worse when confronted with reality:

"In Washington, career politicians like Sen. Udall are fond of killing progress by faulting it for being imperfect. [Pols emphasis] That's one reason nothing gets done," spokesman Alex Siciliano wrote in a statement.

Like Obamacare, Alex? Actually, Gardner's failed energy bill can't even be compared to Obamacare.

Because Obamacare actually did something.

One Of The Weirdest Campaign Videos Ever Made

Michael Schlierf.

Michael Schlierf.

​Here's a fact we've learned in our nearly ten years of blogging politics: the annals of Youtube-era failed campaigns are filled with bad candidate videos. One of our favorite producers was 2010 Tennessee GOP gubernatorial candidate Basil Marceaux, whose wacky, drawling speechifications went viral out of sheer laughability–of which dear Basil may or may not have ever been aware.

Here in Colorado this election year, a campaign video has recently surfaced that might give Basil a run for his money. Michael Schlierf, the Republican Colorado House candidate in HD-18 running against incumbent Democrat Pete Lee, released this message yesterday. We don't mind telling you we're a bit fascinated by it, in that can't-take-your-eyes-off-the-car-crash sort of way:

Here are some frames from the video that help capture the beguiling je ne sais quoi of our narrator:

schlierflady

​The woman speaking is never identified. We set out originally hoping to transcribe her remarks, but about midway through we realized it's just too damn loopy–you've got to watch the whole thing to see how strange it it is. We would call it standard Tea Party boilerplate, but it's more than that: the Tea Party on quaaludes? At one point the woman says that public schools are nothing more than "social service delivery programs," but that's not our favorite line. Maybe the best in a message chock full of zoned-out punchlines:

We are in a fight for our national existence. As citizens of this state, we are in a fight for our liberty. And as Republicans, are we not in a fight for relevance? [Pols emphasis]

Short answer: yes. And this video…doesn't help.

Dems Go Populist Against Banker Beauprez

A press release from Making Colorado Great, the third party group responsible for taking the hard shots at GOP gubernatorial nominee Bob Beauprez this year, announces a new ad with a six-figure media buy focusing on Beauprez's record as a wealthy banker:

Making Colorado Great today released a new television ad “Meet,” highlighting how Beauprez rigged the system for big money special interests.  Beauprez owned a $400 million bank but while in Congress voted to make it easier for banks like his to get away with risky practices, which were a major factor in the economic recession.
 
“Coloradans are still hurting from the recession that was significantly fueled by a lack of regulation of our banking system. The simple fact is that in Congress, Bob Beauprez voted to reduce regulations on banks — new rules that made it easier for banks to foreclose homes, which helped lead to the financial crisis,” said Michael Huttner, spokesperson for Making Colorado Great.  “In Congress, Beauprez repeatedly fought for the wealthiest and the well-connected, preventing hard working Colorado  families from getting their fair shot at success.  Beauprez will try to use the double-talk he mastered as a Washington politician to hide his record but Coloradans know he can’t be trusted him with Colorado’s economy.”

The Denver Post's Joey Bunch:

The Denver Post reported in 2006 on the bill Beauprez co-sponsored in 2005 that would have cut regulations, granted tax reductions, limited regulatory audits and exempted community banks from some disclosure reports about lending practices. The Post also reported that the law could have lifted provisions that consumer advocates said protected home borrowers from abusive loans.

“It’s very unseemly for a member of Congress to co-sponsor legislation that would reduce some regulatory requirements for a bank that he has a major financial interest in,” Travis Plunkett, legislative director for the Washington-based Consumer Federation of America, told the Post at the time…

As we've been discussing today, there is a big menu of available issues on which to hit Beauprez. This particular one is interesting to us because it goes after Beauprez's past as a banker, and supporter in Congress of policies that arguably hurt ordinary Americans. That might not have been a problem for Beauprez back in 2006–or maybe it was, he lost so badly to Bill Ritter it's tough to know–but either way, this could be a very potent line of attack in the wake of the Great Recession. You may be aware that the reputation of bankers in general took something of a hit back then, and still hasn't really recovered.

And that's a message even voters who don't know or don't care about Beauprez's craziness may respond to.

Gessler, Brauchler, Still Can’t Make Facts Fit Illegal Voter Narrative

Noooooo!!! Oh, nevermind.

Noooooo!!! Oh, nevermind.

As Election Day gets closer and closer, so, too, does the end of Republican Scott Gessler's contentious term as Colorado's Secretary of State. Perhaps one day we will all look back at this period of time and laugh to ourselves in disbelief that Gessler could have actually been in charge of voting in Colorado.

Back when Gessler first took office in January 2011, he told everyone who would listen that Colorado had a massive problem with illegal voters casting illegal ballots. In fact, Gessler testified before Congress that he was aware of at least 16,270 illegal voter registrations in Colorado, including 5,000 who illegally cast a ballot. Those numbers, of course, never held up to even the slightest level of scrutiny. In July 2013, Gessler's office produced a list of 155 people — yes, just 155 — who were suspected of having registered to vote illegally. What happened to the other 16,115 that Gessler boldly proclaimed to Congress as illegal voters? Perhaps someone in the Secretary of State's office just accidentally cut-and-paste the same names 110 times.

Last November, Arapahoe County District Attorney George Brauchler, a very partisan Republican DA, announced that his office had indicted a grand total of 4 (four) people alleged to have been involved in illegally registering to vote. In June, charges were dropped in one of those cases, and yesterday, a judge tossed charges in a second Brauchler case. From CBS4 Denver:

A judge dismissed an election-fraud charge against an Aurora man on Wednesday after prosecutors said they could not prove he was the one who illegally registered himself to vote.

Tadesse G. Degefa, who is not a U.S. citizen, had been charged with procuring false registration for allegedly signing up to vote in 2012.

District Attorney George Brauchler said the secretary of state’s voter registration website does not have safeguards to prevent someone from illegally registering someone else to vote.

According to CBS 4, charges are still pending against one canvasser and one noncitizen. In other words, out of Gessler's original claim of 16,270 cases of illegal voter registration, we may (and only possibly) end up with just two people who may have not even intentionally been involved with illegally registering a voter. And guess how many people look to have actually voted illegally?

At this point, none. As in, zero.

So, Scott Gessler was pretty close in his estimation of voter fraud — give or take 16,270 people.

Bob Beauprez: The Depth and Breadth of the Crazy

UPDATE: Political cartoonist Mike Keefe at the Colorado Independent sums it up:

Keefe-9.4.14

—–

“Both Ways” Bob Beauprez (right).

Susan Greene, formerly of the Denver Post and now editor of the Colorado Independent, yesterday published a tremendous deep dive into the record of GOP gubernatorial nominee Bob Beauprez since his last run for office in 2006. Titled Bob Beauprez’s last eight years: Conservatism at its extremes, this is the report on Beauprez we've been waiting to see from mainstream media outlets ever since Beauprez won the Republican primary. Greene's nearly 3,500 word story absolutely must be read in its entirety, and we expect to refer back to it many times over the next two months:

BOB Beauprez ran for governor in 2006 on an image as mainstream Republican as mainstream Republicanism gets. He was third-generation Coloradan, a rancher, banker, former state GOP chairman and sitting congressman representing one of the nation’s most moderate districts.

Now he’s back, running again for the same office with the same folksy image — labeled by the media establishment as “mainstream” and “moderate.”

But in the eight years since his last bid to govern the state, Beauprez wandered away from the mainstream. Far away. He spent much of his time in private life pushing ultra-conservative causes. He wrote a book calling for a revolution to shift the Republican Party far to the right. And in several interviews over several years, he espoused extremist conspiracy theories, including one that Americans – whom he likened to sheep – eagerly would let the government implant microchips in their bodies…

Greene recaps a large number of items from Beauprez's recent past that we've covered in detail: Beauprez's belief that President Barack Obama is "pushing the country" toward civil war, that climate change is a "complete hoax," support for repealing the 17th Amendment requiring democratic elections of U.S. Senators, and Beauprez's more recent secessionist sympathizing. But a previously unreported interview from Beauprez's past revealed by Greene could provide late-night joke fodder on a whole new level:

"When they can start tracking us with a little microchip, and the technology certainly exists, and you watch the people who would line up voluntarily so that gee if you forgot your driver's license, no problem, you've got the RFID implanted in you. If you've got to get through the airport, no problem, you've got RFID. 'Well, sure, I want one of those, I want one of those.' And you watch like sheep how they would line up behind some kind of a dopey system like that without ever realizing how much freedom they just forfeited," he said.

Later in that interview with online radio host Clayton Douglas — a militia proponent known for his anti-Semitic views — Beauprez said Americans are blindly succumbing to totalitarianism.

"We're living through what was a while ago was fantasy, Orwell's '1984.' And it is among us," he said. "You know a lot of people think that we're kind of out there along the fringe for even talking like this." [Pols emphasis]

On the objective scale of the varieties of craziness one encounters on the internet, the "government wants to track you with RFID implants" flavor of crazy ranks way, way up there. Of course, RFID microchips for identification purposes aren't new–pets commonly have them nowadays. But the step from the existence of such a technology to the idea that Americans are about to "line up" to get them implanted, and that anything we're "living though" today in America can be seriously likened to a George Orwell dystopia…

Folks, this is the Republican nominee for Governor of Colorado we're talking about. Who out there can seriously defend this man's collection of totally disqualifying fringe ravings since his last run for political office, RFID conspiracy theories being just the latest example? The idea that this person is being represented as a "mainstream moderate" candidate, if you know about even a fraction of what Greene reports in this story, is simply ridiculous.

The only thing we can attribute the gap between the mainstream media's so-far terrible coverage of Beauprez and the facts of his record to is really good press flacks running really effective interference–that, and maybe some help from a certain biased political news editor. But even with all that leverage, we just can't see how Beauprez gets to November without these disqualifying statements in his record coming back to bite him. It's reasonable to assume that, when Beauprez's campaign was working the back channels to ensure Tom Tancredo and the other contenders lost the primary, none of the people who were sold on the premise that Beauprez was more electable knew about this stuff.

Before this election is over, those people will likely wish they had known better.

Thursday Open Thread

"To stimulate wildly weak and untrained minds is to play with mighty fires."

–W. E. B. Du Bois

Udall Unleashes Devastating Abortion Memo On Gardner

Cory Gardner.

Cory Gardner.

FOX 31's Eli Stokols reports–this one's going to leave a mark.

Just as GOP U.S. Senate hopeful Cory Gardner is looking to re-introduce himself on women’s health issues, Democratic Sen. Mark Udall’s campaign is set to hammer him for legislation he supported as a state lawmaker that sought to punish abortion providers more harshly than rapists.

Udall’s campaign is focusing on legislation Gardner sponsored in 2007 as a state legislator, Senate Bill 143, which would have subjected physicians who perform abortions in every case but to save the pregnant woman’s life to class three felony charges and a sentence of up to 12 years in prison.

That’s a longer sentence than that served by the average convicted rapist in Colorado, according to a memo from Bruce Brown, the district attorney in Colorado’s 5th Judicial District, written for and soon to be distributed by Udall’s campaign…

Let's be crystal clear about what we're talking about. From Summit/Eagle DA Bruce Brown's memo:

In 2007, Rep. Gardner co-sponsored legislation in the State House (SB07-143), which would have subjected physicians to class 3 felony charges, with up to a twelve year prison sentence, for performing abortions in all cases except to save the life of the pregnant woman. To put the level of felony assigned by this legislative proposal in perspective, for physicians treating women who had been raped, the punishment assigned would be equal to that reserved for a residential arsonist and some second-degree murderers.

Most grotesquely, if Congressman Gardner’s law were enacted, a doctor providing abortion care for a victim of rape could be sentenced to a lengthier prison term than the average rapist serves. [Pols emphasis]

First of all, let's give some credit to our friend Jason Salzman, who explored this very question almost three weeks ago–and got the same answer from the American Civil Liberties Union's Mark Silverstein.

With that said, this isn't the first time Rep. Cory Gardner's sponsorship of 2007's Senate Bill 143 has come back to haunt him on the Senate campaign trail this year. In addition to Gardner's support for the Colorado Personhood ballot measures and the federal Life at Conception Act that Gardner remains a co-sponsor of, this 2007 abortion ban legislation, which made no exceptions for victims of rape of incest, is another central point in the case that–as Personhood USA's own Keith Mason said best–Gardner "built his entire political career on support of" banning abortion.

But even worse may be the response Stokols got from Gardner's campaign spokesman Alex Siciliano:

Gardner’s campaign blasted Udall, calling the attack “bogus” and “slanderous” but stopped short of pushing back against Brown’s interpretation of the 2007 bill. [Pols emphasis]

“Senator Udall is so desperate to continue his long career in politics that he is throwing out ridiculous charges that he knows are bogus,” said Gardner’s spokesman Alex Siciliano. “It’s sad that Senator Udall has nothing good to say about his own record and instead only slanders Cory Gardner. The facts don’t back Senator Udall up, again.”

…When pressed specifically to rebut Brown’s assertion that S.B. 143 would have resulted in longer sentences for abortion providers than rapists and whether that is something Gardner still supports, Siciliano did not respond further. [Pols emphasis]

Remember, Siciliano is the same Gardner spokesman who falsely claimed that there is a difference between the Colorado Personhood abortion ban measures Gardner has disavowed and the federal Life at Conception Act that Gardner is to this day a co-sponsor of. As Factcheck.org and experts have concluded–and the plain language of the proposals clearly shows–there is no distinction between Colorado's Personhood measures and the Life at Conception Act that would make one less likely to ban birth control than the other. And both would outlaw abortion even in cases of rape or incest.

This latest piece of the puzzle, a credible legal opinion that one of Gardner's many abortion ban proposals could have had the outlandish consequence of punishing a doctor who performs an abortion more than the rapist who made the abortion necessary, could be the most damaging attack yet. Gardner's new ad up this week, trying to whitewash his positions on birth control, smacks of desperation with this memo in view–especially while his campaign denies any of this is an issue out of the other side of their mouths. We're not in the spring any more, voters are starting to pay attention now–and if all Gardner's campaign can do is feign outrage and misdirect away from these very simple questions?

It's not going to end well, folks. Because the questions are not going away.

“Dr. Chaps” Loves Cory Gardner’s Life At Conception Act

Cory Gardner, Gordon Klingenschmitt.

Cory Gardner, Gordon Klingenschmitt.

Yesterday saw a new lengthy email missive from Republican HD-15 nominee Gordon "Dr. Chaps" Klingenschmitt, whose wild rhetoric before and after winning the Republican primary to succeed former House Minority Leader Mark Waller has been making national headlines. Klingenschmitt's recent suggestion that openly gay Rep. Jared Polis was ready to start "beheading Christians" "in America" led to calls by Democrats for Klingenschmitt to withdraw from the HD-15 race–a call that tellingly was not picked up by Republicans like Waller or the chairman of the EL Paso County GOP.

In Klingenschmitt's latest email blast, there's no reference to Democrats beheading Christians. But while trying to watch what he says, "Dr. Chaps" still manages to leave his fellow Republicans in the hot seat:

Let's petition Congress to pass the "Life Begins at Conception Act."

Urgent Petition! Sign petition for "Life Begins at Conception" Act S.583 w/ Sen. Rand Paul. Select, sign, and WE WILL FAX your petition to all 100 Senators and 435 Congressmen instantly (saving you time!) Or select free option to Amend S.583 here.

Sen. Rand Paul's "Life Begins at Conception Act." Can it stop abortion?

The U.S. Senator from Kentucky, Rand Paul (R) has introduced the "Life Begins At Conception Act" Senate Bill S. 583, which is modeled after "Personhood" legislation we supported in ballot initiatives in Mississippi, Colorado, and Florida. [Pols emphasis]

The pro-life legislation simply applies the protections of the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution to unborn children, by defining them as "persons." Personhood is a legal strategy that can potentially overturn Roe v. Wade and stop the abortion holocaust in America, as predicted by Justice Blackmun who wrote the 1973 ruling: "If this suggestion of personhood is established, the appellant’s case, of course, collapses, for the fetus’ right to life would then be guaranteed specifically by the [14th] Amendment."

S. 583, Sen. Rand Paul's Life at Conception Act, is the Senate's companion measure to H.R. 1091, the Life at Conception Act co-sponsored by…yes, that's right, U.S. Senate candidate Cory Gardner! As our readers know, Gardner's campaign has claimed that H.R. 1091 does not have the same effect as the Personhood abortion bans that Gardner disavowed support for right after jumping in the Senate race. Factcheck.org and experts on the issue have responded that Gardner's distinction between the Colorado Personhood initiatives and the federal Life at Conception Act is bogus–the same language conferring rights to a fetus from "the moment of fertilization" in both proposals is what would have the effect of banning all abortions even in cases of rape or incest, as well as certain forms of so-called "abortifacient" birth control. Gardner has not responded anywhere that we've found to Factcheck.org's debunking of this key claim, presumably because, as we've explored at length, there is no good response.

And as you can see, "Dr. Chaps" agrees! Though we doubt Gardner will appreciate the clarification.

Why Isn’t Sen. Steve King a Poster Child?

Sen. Steve King (R).

Sen. Steve King (R).

The Grand Junction Sentinel’s Charles Ashby reports today on the latest developments in the Sen. Steve King embezzlement scandal. For those not following this story, GOP Sen. King is facing several felony and misdemeanor charges, stemming from allegedly falsified timesheets filed with different public agencies he was employed by–overlapping to a degree that the pay he received cannot be justified.

The fact is, it’s been several weeks since we last wrote about Sen. King’s troubles. With a major election just weeks away now, it occurred to us as we read Ashby’s story this morning that felony charges against a sitting Republican state senator ought to be a bigger election season story than the press coverage we’ve seen up to now would indicate.

Colorado GOP Senate leaders appear to agree:

Embattled state Sen. Steve King was replaced as a member and chairman of the Legislative Audit Committee nearly a month ago, but Senate Republicans didn’t tell anyone about the change despite felony charges facing the Grand Junction Republican. [Pols emphasis]

Jesse Mallory, chief of staff for the Senate Republicans, said King and Senate Minority Leader Bill Cadman, R-Colorado Springs, “mutually agreed” that King should be replaced on the eight-member panel that reviews audits of state programs.

Mallory said he didn’t know whether King asked Cadman to replace him on the committee, or if the minority leader contacted King about it…

King, who has served on the committee since January 2011, had been chairman of the bipartisan audit committee since January. He was replaced by Sen. Kevin Grantham, R-Canon City. The only public message about that appointment was by Grantham himself on his own Facebook page when the committee held its August meeting last week.

Because Sen. King has not chosen to resign from his lame-duck senate seat, obviously something had to be done here. Under different circumstances, the end of an indicted politician’s career is often a lurid death watch, with every procedural move on their way out the door a well-documented public spectacle. Remember Rep. Laura Bradford’s DUI/legislative immunity career-ender? Every step in the investigation was a story. When Bradford issued any kind of statement on the matter, there was a story. When she initially lost and then was reinstated to her committee chair, it was a story. When she decided not to run again–story.

So why is Sen. Steve King’s case flying largely under the radar? It looks to us like the Senate GOP believes they’ve learned a lesson from the Bradford saga, and did their best to keep their part of this story under wraps. Ashby has done a good job following developments, but Denver media has had curiously little to say about King’s indictment. There certainly remains the potential for King’s scandal to tarnish the Republican brand as a whole in the upcoming elections, perhaps more useful elsewhere than in the Senate District 7 race to succeed King itself (though Ray Scott can’t be enjoying this). If Democrats were to make an issue of GOP Senate leadership trying to keep King’s demotion under wraps…well, that would be a place to start, wouldn’t it?

Bottom line: it’s an election year, and we have this nagging thought that if Sen. Steve King had a (D) after his name instead of an (R), we’d be hearing a lot more about him right now. Maybe that’s just because Democrats are nicer about these things, or for whatever reason not as skilled at fanning the flames of scandal.

But on balance, it’s awfully tough to imagine better material to work with than a Republican state senator charged with a bunch of felonies.

Poll: Betsy Markey and Walker Stapleton Neck-and-Neck

Markey-Poll-Memo-Graph

Results via Normington, Petts and Associates. Survey conducted Aug. 24-27, 2014.

According to a results from a new poll released today from Democrat Betsy Markey's campaign for State Treasurer, Markey is currently tied with incumbent Republican Walker Stapleton with both polling at 31%.

Moreover, according to the polling memo (view PDF: Markey Poll Memo), Markey jumps ahead of Stapleton 44-39 when respondents were read both positive and negative messages about each candidate.

While Stapleton has taken some pretty big hits lately on his opposition to PERA (and his inability to attend Board Meetings), the biggest issue in this race is still likely to come down to fundraising. With races for U.S. Senate and Congress (CD-6) spending tens of millions of dollars, Markey will have very few opportunities to push her message via paid advertisements.

 

Why Suthers Fought Marriage Equality To The Bitter End

As the Colorado Springs Gazette’s Monica Mondoza reports, the worst-kept secret in El Paso County local politics–with the possible exception of the “Shirtless Sheriff’s” sexual peccadilloes–is finally official: outgoing GOP Attorney General John Suthers is running for mayor of Colorado Springs.

Six months ago, Suthers met with Mayor Steve Bach to let him know that that mayor’s race was on his mind. Bach, elected the city’s first strong mayor in 2010, said in a recent interview that he had not decided whether he will seek re-election.

Suthers said Tuesday that he’s in the race no matter what Bach decides. He grew up in Colorado Springs, he said, and has watched it grow from a city of 40,000 to 440,000. He said loves that he can walk outside his home and be on a hiking trail with 30 minutes, he said.

But, he said, the city is desperate need of what he called “collaborative leadership.”

“I have, as others have, seen the city lose traction,” Suthers said. “We are somewhat stalled.”

As anyone familiar with Colorado’s cultural geography can tell you, Colorado Springs is the capital city of Colorado’s Bible Belt. With the headquarters of Focus on the Family and countless other evangelical Christian organizations either in or near the city, you can hardly throw a rock in the Springs without breaking a stained glass window. This is not to say that there are no godless heathens within the city limits of Colorado Springs; they just don’t usually decide elections.

With that in mind, it makes much better sense that Suthers has defended the state’s constitutional ban on same-sex marriage far longer than attorneys general in other states. In fact, Suthers running for mayor of arch-conservative Colorado Springs is about the only thing that does make sense. The protracted fight over same-sex marriage hasn’t helped fellow Colorado Republicans, who are now strongly in the minority of public opinion. It hasn’t helped Suthers’ nominated successor Cynthia Coffman, who has been campaigning under a cloud on the issue while her Democratic opponent Don Quick hammers away from the moral high ground. And to be honest, this dogmatic last stand over same-sex marriage has marginalized Suthers personally–at least where his political career might once have been on track for higher office.

But mayor of Colorado Springs? Perfect. And good luck keeping the lights on.

New Gardner Ad Keeps Contraception “Distraction” Top of Mind

UPDATE #2: FOX 31′s Eli Stokols:

While Gardner disavowed Colorado’s personhood initiative earlier this year, he remains a sponsor of the federal version of the same policy, the Life Begins at Conception Act, which would ban common forms of birth control and abortion. [Pols emphasis]

“Congressman Gardner will do anything to hide his backwards agenda from Colorado women,” said Udall for Colorado spokesperson Kristin Lynch. “The undeniable fact is Gardner continues to push radical, anti-woman measures that would ban common forms of birth control. One 30-second ad doesn’t make up for that.”

The Udall campaign Tuesday also pointed to an amendment to the state budget Gardner sponsored as a state lawmaker in 2006 that sought to prohibit the state Medicaid program from purchasing Plan B emergency contraception.

“Spending taxpayer dollars on a non-physician oversight use of Plan B pills is something we must consider,” Gardner said during the floor debate on the amendment, which failed…

—–

UPDATE: ThinkProgress:

Udall has pointed out that while over-the-counter birth control is a good idea to expand access, it must still be covered by insurance. Some experts say the new Republican push to move it over the counter is an attempt to undercut Obamacare’s contraception coverage guarantee.

Gardner first announced his support for over-the-counter access in a Denver Post op-ed in June, in an apparent attempt to set himself apart from “too many Republicans [who] are afraid to break the mold.” In a similar vein, his campaign released an ad Monday in which Gardner, a climate change denier, uses a wind farm as a backdrop to express his support for alternative energy sources.

But Gardner’s extreme right-wing record has been hard to shake. He’s had to disavow his former support to the Colorado “personhood” measures that would have banned abortion and some forms of contraception. As a member of Congress, he voted against measures to require insurance companies to cover birth control and to allow pharmacists to prescribe emergency contraception. He’s also stood against a bill to help poor women on Medicaid to get birth control…

—–

The Denver Post’s Lynn Bartels reports on GOP Senate candidate Cory Gardner’s latest TV spot:

Congressman Cory Gardner has borrowed a page from Sen. Mark Udall by unveiling an ad aimed at women — in this case, the availability of birth control.

“What’s the difference between me and Mark Udall on contraception? I believe the pill ought to be available over the counter, round the clock, without a prescription — cheaper and easier, for you,” Gardner says in the spot, as various women nod their heads.

“Mark Udall’s plan is different. He wants to keep government bureaucrats between you and your healthcare plan. That means more politics, and more profits for drug companies. My plan means more rights, more freedom, and more control for you — and that’s a big difference.”

Although abortion and birth control is an issue that Gardner’s campaign has routinely dismissed as a “distraction,” devoting a TV spot entirely to it proves otherwise. There’s little question at this point that heavy Democratic attacks on Gardner’s position on reproductive choice has severely damaged his chances of unseating Democratic incumbent Sen. Mark Udall. It should be noted again that Gardner invited choice as a central issue in this campaign when he dumped the Personhood abortion bans soon after entering the Senate race, claiming he “didn’t know” they could also have banned common forms of so-called “abortifacient” birth control. Gardner’s acknowledgement of that potential consequence has in turn led to controversy over his continuing sponsorship of the federal Life at Conception Act–legislation that experts and fact-checkers alike say would have the same consequences as the state Personhood abortion ban Gardner has disavowed.

What’s the way out of this conundrum for Gardner? Like Republican strategist Katy Atkinson said–”muddy it up enough to take it away from Udall.” Gardner is hoping a combination of misdirection, faux surrogate outrage, and media complaisance will carry him through November.

As for this ad, it either means Gardner is upping the “muddy up” ante, or it isn’t working. Or both.