What is Proposition 104?

*Colorado Pols is profiling ballot measures that will appear on the 2014 Colorado statewide ballot. See also:
- What is Amendment 67 in Colorado?
- What is Amendment 68 in Colorado?
- What is Proposition 104 in Colorado?
- What is Proposition 105 in Colorado?
 


Proposition 104 (Colorado)
OFFICIAL TITLE: School Board Open Meetings
ALSO KNOWN AS: "Proposition 104"…There is Very Little Buzz Either Way Here

 

Official Ballot Language for Proposition 104:
"Shall there be a change to the Colorado Revised Statutes requiring any meeting of a board of education, or any meeting between any representative of a school district and any representative of employees, at which a collective bargaining agreement is discussed to be open to the public?”

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Investigating Miscarriages? It’s Baked In The Personhood Cake

Tim Neville.

Tim Neville.

9NEWS' Steve Staeger has an interesting story up about a mailer hitting SD-16 Republican Senate candidate Tim Neville on his longstanding (and as far as we know, ongoing) support for the Colorado Personhood abortion ban amendments. As has emerged as a major controversy in Colorado's U.S. Senate race this year, the language in the Personhood measures conferring rights from "the moment of fertilization" could have a broad range of consequences, including outlawing common forms of so-called "abortifacient" birth control.

And as the mailer in question from Mainstream Colorado explains to SD-16 voters, Personhood could do something else, too:

The mailer, sent to women in the 16th State Senate District, claims Tim Neville supports a plan that could allow the government to investigate women who have suffered a miscarriage.

"Why would anyone in their right mind try to do something like that," Neville responded to the ad…

"We know that Tim Neville has supported personhood measures in the past," said Cathy Alderman, VP of public affairs for Planned Parenthood Votes Colorado.

Alderman says personhood measures can lead to investigations into miscarriages by police or district attorneys.

"If a woman were to lose that pregnancy or choose to terminate that pregnancy that is then determined to be the death of a person, and so any actions she takes in regards to that pregnancy could be investigated as a potential felony or a manslaughter claim," she said. [Pols emphasis]

Alderman admits the bill does not specifically allow investigations into miscarriages, as the ad seems to claim…

That's technically true. As we've noted repeatedly, the Personhood abortion ban amendments that Colorado voters have rejected over and over are very short–one or two sentences defining unborn as persons with rights from "the moment of fertilization." But as experts, fact checkers, and even the proponents of the Personhood measures agree, those words would have very broad effects: outlawing all abortions including in cases of rape or incest, and even outlawing birth control that would have the effect of "killing" a fertilized egg.

It is precisely those "penumbral" conseqeunces of Personhood that led Cory Gardner to publicly abandon support for the measures soon after entering the U.S. Senate race. The exact interpretation of the law if passed would be hashed out by the courts and enabling legislation, but it's the very same language granting rights from "the moment of fertilization" that creates the potential for a ban on "abortifacient" birth control–and yes, even criminal investigations of miscarriages.

In Wednesday's U.S. Senate debate, moderator Kyle Clark coolly informed Gardner that "we will not debate" the effects of his federal Life at Conception Act–Gardner's federal Personhood bill with the same "moment of fertilization" language that opens the door to the measure's worst hypothetical effects. Meaning that for the purposes of that debate, Clark was not interested in hearing diversionary arguments that conflict with the plain and very simple language of the bill.

Well, folks, if it's true for Cory Gardner, it's true for Tim Neville too.

Gardner’s Democratic Past Comes Back To Bite Him

Cory Gardner.

Cory Gardner.

The Denver Post's Lynn Bartels catches Republican U.S. Senate candidate Cory Gardner in yet another…well, if it's not a straight-up lie, we'll be very surprised. Following up on this week's pivotal 9NEWS debate:

Republican Senate hopeful Cory Gardner can’t recall voting for a single Democrat although he was one for eight years.

Yuma County election records show Gardner registered as a Democrat in 1992 and switched his voter registration in 2000 to Republican. If, indeed, he never voted for a Democrat that means Gardner:

* Didn’t vote for Democratic Gov. Roy Romer’s re-election bid in 1994 although Gardner has said one of his proudest moments as a Yuma High School student (which was not his football career, obviously) was getting the governor to come talk to students in 1992 about the lack of education funding for rural schools. A photo in the Yuma Pioneer of the event begins with “Future politician?” in reference to the junior’s successful effort in attracting attention to the situation.

* Didn’t vote for former Fort Collins Mayor Susan Kirkpatrick for Congress in 1998, although he seconded her nomination at the Democratic 4th Congressional District assembly that year. Kirkpatrick said never at any time during that election did he indicate he was no longer backing her…

During Wednesday's debate, Gardner was asked to name a Democrat–any Democrat–that he had ever voted for. This seemed to us like a tremendous softball for the former Democrat, a low bar to validating his supposed willingness to "reach across the aisle" that has been a cornerstone of his new image. You may have noticed that a considerable investment has been made in remaking Gardner from a safe-seat "Tea Party" darling into a "moderate" electable statewide in Colorado.

And he blew this golden opportunity.

Earlier in the day on Wednesday, a story from highly trafficked national online news site Deadspin exploded on social media, featuring quotes from a local source claiming that Cory Gardner had never played high school football despite his claims otherwise on the campaign trail. It was pretty quickly determined that the story was incorrect after Gardner's campaign Tweeted photos of Gardner in his Yuma High School football uniform, and soon the original source had retracted his quotes. The story was wrong, but one of the reasons it caught fire so quickly was how plausible it seemed. Much like Paul Ryan's infamous marathon and 14er-climbing controversies in 2012, it's just really easy to believe the idea that Gardner is lying. Because he lies a lot.

In this case, he almost certainly did lie, because he was an active Democrat for years before, as he told the Post, "I realized the Democratic Party doesn’t represent me or my values or what I believe this country to be." That, or he realized it's kind of hard for Democrats to get elected in Yuma? Either way, now that he's made the deliberate choice to lie about it, it reinforces a much broader narrative: how you can't trust Cory Gardner.

Republicans Remind You: Walker Stapleton Rarely Shows Up for Work

On Tuesday we discussed the first TV ad from Democrat Betsy Markey in her race to unseat Republican Treasurer Walker Stapleton. The ad, which you can view again after the jump, doesn't waste time in getting to the point: Stapleton doesn't appear to spend much time on the job he was elected to do.

Based on data gleaned from an Open Records request of Stapleton's state-appointed key card (which he needs to enter the State Capitol), there are probably tour guides who spend more time in the building than Stapleton himself. As the script for the ad explains:

At best…it’s inexcusable.

At worst…it’s a scandal. State Treasurer Walker Stapleton.

Official key-card records from his Denver office confirm…

Stapleton only bothers showing up at his office around ten days a month.

Often, skipping the office for weeks at a time.

Or only showing up after three P.M.

This is a pretty straightforward ad that is hard for Stapleton's campaign to fully refute, though Stapleton's spokesperson, Michael Fortney, tried lamely to defend his boss when questioned by Denver Post reporter Lynn Bartels. According to Fortney, Stapleton often forgets his key card, and when he does, he just enters the capitol through the public entrance.

But what about the days in which Stapleton's "key card" doesn't show up at the office until after 3:00 pm? Does his wife drop off the key card when he goes out for an afternoon snack? Or was he really just not in the building until the late afternoon?

You can see why this is a tricky problem. Stapleton's campaign is apparently worried about the effect that Markey's ad may be having with voters, because Republicans are spending an inordinate amount of time trying to explain away the mystery of the key card. Why else would you intentionally bring up the same TV ad — exposing its message to more voters — unless you felt the extra exposure was necessary in order to try to refute the message? We wouldn't want to be drawing more attention to a strong attack ad (particularly when Markey doesn't have millions of dollars for an ad buy), but then we're not Republican Rep. Frank McNulty and the Republican group "Reveal Politics."

Take it away, Frank and friends:

So…does McNulty just hang around outside every day waiting for Stapleton to show up for work?

We're joking — we know that's not the point they are trying to make here, but was this really worth bringing up Markey's ad once again? What do you think? You can watch that ad again after the jump:

 

 

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Halter Slams Lamborn In TV Spot; Prepares To Debate Chicken

Doug Lamborn (R).

Doug Lamborn (R).

The Hill reports on Democratic CD-5 candidate Irv Halter's new ad, hitting Rep. Doug Lamborn on his Veterans Affairs Committee attendance record–a weak spot for Lamborn in this military-heavy district:

"In the Air Force, when you're absent without leave, you get arrested," says retired Maj. Gen. Irv Halter (D), in a new ad. "In Washington, they play by different rules.”

Halter is charging that Lamborn, a four-term incumbent, missed 58 percent of the panel’s meetings, labeling it “one of the worst records in Congress.”

In his new spot, Halter says that Lamborn “blamed others for veterans not getting the healthcare they earned,” referencing the scandal at the Veterans Affairs Department over long wait times and delayed treatment for patients.

“President Obama failed his duty, but Congressman Lamborn didn’t even show up,” says Halter.

A trained chicken.

A trained chicken.

Meanwhile, as the Denver Post's Hugh Johnson writes, Gen. Halter is holding a debate today. But not with Rep. Lamborn, who has refused to face his opponent man-to-man:

Irv Halter, the Democratic candidate for Colorado’s 5th Congressional District, will likely debate a chicken on Thursday.

The outlandish notion is the latest attempt to get Republican Congressman Doug Lamborn to debate the retired Air Force general. A political-action committee called Colorado Springs Citizens For A Congressman Who Won’t Chicken Out is scheduled to host a debate at the Colorado Springs Penrose Library Thursday. Members of the committee have been going around the city dressed in chicken suits handing out leaflets imploring Lamborn to debate Halter. The committee even showed up at the Colorado Springs city council meeting Tuesday.

According to a press release, if Lamborn doesn’t show up to the debate, a trained chicken will take his place…

Working against Halter, of course, is the fact that CD-5 is a staunchly Republican district. Working in Halter's favor is the heavily military and veteran population of the district, and the fact that Lamborn is one of the most ineffectual members of Congress in either party–and a consistent bipartisan embarrassment to the entire state of Colorado. The is the biggest reason why Lamborn has faced spirited primary challenges in basically every election since taking office. 

If it's a Democrat who takes out Lamborn, he or she will be one term and done in the next election–but Doug Lamborn's rank incompetence makes that more of a possibility than it would ever otherwise be. Sooner or later, Lamborn's dumb luck will run out.

9NEWS’ Kyle Clark Shreds Gardner on Federal Personhood Bill

UPDATE #2: Talking Points Memo:

Colorado GOP Senate nominee Cory Gardner has been confronted before by journalists when he has tried to deny that a federal bill he sponsors is in effect a personhood bill, which could significantly limit abortion access.

But at a debate Wednesday night, moderator Kyle Clark of KUSA in Denver put Gardner's dodges in perhaps the starkest terms yet, adding fuel to the fire Sen. Mark Udall has been trying throughout his campaign to fan with women voters…

"What I'm asking you about here is what appears to be the willing suspension of the facts," Clark said. "People who agree with you on the issue of life think you're wrong about how you're describing the bill. Everybody seems to have a cohesive idea of what this is with the exception of you, and I'm just wondering: What should voters glean from that fact?"

MSNBC's Steve Benen:

I can appreciate why some, especially on the right and at the Denver Post’s editorial page, may find this focus excessive. There’s no shortage of important issues in the 2014 elections, and investing considerable time and energy on one part of the GOP congressman’s work as a legislator may seem unnecessary. At first blush, it’s not an unreasonable point.
 
But that’s what made Kyle Clark’s questioning so worthwhile: this isn’t just about personhood. Cory Gardner championed radical legislation to remove women’s access to abortion and forms of contraception. Then he lied about it. Then he lied about it some more. Asked to explain himself, the Republican won’t apologize for his often shameless dishonesty, and can’t coherently justify why his claims so plainly contradict reality.
 
In other words, this may just be one issue among many, but it’s offering the public a chance to learn who Cory Gardner really is, what he does, and why kind of politician he’d be if elected to the Senate. As Clark’s line of questioning suggests, the challenge for Colorado voters is asking what else the congressman isn’t telling the truth about. [Pols emphasis]

—–

UPDATE: Jason Salzman on the same subject: "the revolt by journalists against Gardner continues."

—–

We've got a few posts to get up about last night's final U.S. Senate race debate between incumbent Democratic Sen. Mark Udall and Republican Cory Gardner–which, if you haven't watched it, was easily the best-run debate of any we've seen this year. 9NEWS political reporters Kyle Clark and Brandon Rittiman brilliantly challenged both candidates on the issues they've had the most trouble with on the campaign trail.

As we'll demonstrate in several examples, this had the effect of damaging Cory Gardner vastly more than his opponent. When the questions turned to Gardner's continued support for the federal Life at Conception Act abortion ban–and Gardner's blanket denial of its intended effect even as the experts, fact-checkers, and the bill's primary sponsors say otherwise–what followed was an absolutely devastating clip of video.

The Denver Post's Lynn Bartels reported on the exchange between Clark and Gardner:

Gardner has been repeatedly been asked on the campaign trail about his sponsorship of the federal Life Begins at Conception Act, which, as Clark pointed out, nearly everyone but Gardner agrees would outlaw abortion.

"We are not going to debate that here tonight because it's fact," Clark said. "It would seem that a charitable interpretation would be that you have a difficult time admitting when you're wrong and a less charitable interpretation is that you're not telling us the truth.

"Which is it?" [Pols emphasis]

Gardner said the bill is "simply a statement that I support life."

"The personhood bill, congressman, is a bill. It's not a statement," Udall countered. "If it became law, it would ban all abortions and it would ban most common forms of contraceptives. Coloradans deserve the truth from you. You have to really give a straight answer."

The problem for Gardner as he attempts to talk his way out of the situation he himself created, by publicly disavowing the state Personhood abortion bans while remaining a sponsor of the functionally equivalent Life at Conception Act, becomes less about the issue of abortion each time he tries. Every attempt by Gardner to extract himself from the hard questions about his actions on this issue makes him look more untrustworthy.

Clark and Rittiman didn't spare Udall the hard questions either, asking Udall to justify his campaign's focus on abortion and birth control. Udall responded ably to this question that these issues are important to women–and citing the Denver Post's recent endorsement of Gardner that crassly attempted to dismiss the issue, he said that "if the Denver Post doesn't want to stand by Colorado women, that's their business."

Bottom line: FOX 31's Eli Stokols' now nationally-famous interview with Gardner, wherein Gardner repeated the words "there is no federal Personhood bill" over and over while Stokols confronted him with facts that clearly prove otherwise, laid bare Gardner's deception for anyone who saw it. Since then Gardner has been hit with the same questions in two debates, at the Denver Post and then last night at 9NEWS–and amazingly to us, he still doesn't have a better answer. When we say this is surprising, we genuinely mean it. Even if Gardner's revised answers were no less bogus, it would still go better for him than mindlessly repeating something that no one believes anymore.

And that is the key point Democrats must drive home right now: it's about trust, not just about abortion.

It is not an exaggeration to suggest that the outcome of this race depends on it.

“Fantasy” Football; Cory Gardner Even Lies About High School Sports

UPDATE #2: Deadspin's Dave McKenna follows up:

Gardner campaign spokesman Alex Siciliano sent the following, presented in its entirety, via email: "Cory Gardner played football from Junior High through Sophomore year in high school." Eli Stokols of FOX-31 in Denver is reporting the Gardner campaign told him, "Gardner played football through soph year of high school, never played varsity." Reached Wednesday night at his home, Chuck Pfalmer, longtime stats keeper for Gardner's alma mater, Yuma High School, and a primary source for the story, told me: "Cory did play football for three years" in high school, and that his records show that Gardner spent his junior year "on varsity." During a lengthy conversation about Yuma High football on Tuesday, Pfalmer repeatedly said Gardner had not played football at the school.

—–

UPDATE: The Denver Post's Lynn Bartels reports that the main source for Deadspin's story claims his comments have been "mischaracterized."

The main source for the story by the online site Deadspin — a former Yuma High School teacher who had Gardner as a student and kept football stats — says the report mischaracterized his comments. Gardner graduated from the Eastern Plains high school in 1993.

In fact, says Deadspin source Chuck Pfalmer, Gardner played football his freshman through junior years in high school.

"He was not a starter, but he played in those years," said Pfalmer, 77, who retired from the high school in 1997.

In response to Deadspin's story this afternoon, which spread widely via social media, Gardner's campaign released two photos of Gardner in his Yuma High School uniform. Those photos would also seem to refute the central claim of Deadspin's story. We'll update if and when Deadspin responds–there's a pretty big gap between the quote in their story and Bartels' report, and we'd like to see it fully explained.

Original post follows.

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“Sobbing” Suppes Staffer Raises Many New Questions

Don Suppes Twitter

UPDATE: According to campaign finance records available online via the Colorado Secretary of State's office, "Anna Villoch-Jolly" was only paid twice by Suppes' campaign. A list of expenditures shows that Jolly received $410 on 6/4/14 and $208.48 on 6/27/14. Yet Suppes claims that he fired Jolly in September when he first learned about the Tweets in question. If you believe Suppes, he fired someone he wasn't paying anyway.

—–

The controversy over a Tweet sent from an account owned by SD-5 GOP candidate Don Suppes linking to a white supremacist website has made a lot of waves in one of the state's hottest legislative races, and is now the subject of mailers arriving in the district. In a story late yesterday, the Denver Post's Lynn Bartels reports on an alleged former campaign staffer who contacted her, hoping to jump on this proverbial grenade before it sinks Suppes' campaign:

A 47-year-old Castle Rock woman sobbed today when she outed herself as the person who posted a tweet from state Senate candidate Don Suppes’ account that linked to a neo-confederate website critical of women, blacks and others…

The inconsolable Jolly said she came forward today because a friend forwarded her a campaign mailer attacking Suppes that asked, “Did Don Suppes promote a white supremacist website?” The mailer, from a Democratic-funded group, includes a confederate flag, the tweet she wrote under the twitter handle @DonSuppes2014 and unflattering reports about Suppes from two liberal outfits, Mother Jones and ColoradoPols…

Suppes said he would have preferred Jolly stay behind the scenes because he fears she will be attacked.

“It’s done. The left is not going to change its campaign tactics,” he said. “My concern is I’m the candidate. I signed up for this. She didn’t.”

Well, actually, if she signed up to work on his campaign, and Tweeted out this link to a white supremacist website, she surely did "sign up" for whatever followed–including, as the latest version of the story is reported by Bartels, getting fired by Suppes for sending it.

The problem, and we're shocked that Bartels failed to mention any of this, is that Suppes has changed his entire story about what happened. When it was originally discovered back in September, you'll recall, Suppes tried to blame the whole thing on a Democratic "hack" attempt.

Candidate for Colorado Senate District 5 Don Suppes has suspended his Twitter account after noticing unauthorized activity. According to a press release from the Suppes campaign the Republican claims "The Democrats have utilized this opportunity to run a smear campaign"… [Pols emphasis]

Campaign Manager Matt Soper said, "The account hacking had been reported to the appropriate authorities."

A few days later, Suppes claimed he had "taken steps recommended for victims of identity theft," while introducing the possibility that the Tweet was the responsibility of "a staffer who has since been terminated." This came after we and others had found the "hacking" allegations to be pretty much laughable.

With all of that in mind, this latest attempt at cover raises many new questions. When exactly did Suppes figure out that he wasn't hacked by Democrats after all? Where is the evidence that this was ever reported to the "appropriate authorities?" Why would Suppes claim this was "Democrats running a smear campaign," and that he was monitoring his identity for theft, when the origin of this Tweet should have been clear to him from minute one? Why, after Suppes allegedly fired this staffer, didn't he admit that he was never "hacked" at all?

Obviously we're not going to get those answers from the Denver Post–so hopefully if another outlet gets a call from Suppes' bawling ex-staffer, they'll ask a few more questions.

Joe Neguse Sets Fundraising Record for SOS Candidates

Joe Neguse

Joe Neguse, Democrat for Secretary of State

According to a press release sent out yesterday by the campaign of Democrat Joe Neguse:

Today Joe Neguse for Secretary of State announced raising $461,380 in contributions. Neguse surpassed the total amount raised by any candidate running for Secretary of State in the history of Colorado. [Pols emphasis]

Mike Coffman previously held the record with $446,660 total raised in his 2006 run for the office. Neguse has already bougth $280,000 in TV ads. Neguse's Republican opponent, on the other hand, appears to have raised the least amount  of any candidate (Republican or Democrat) running for statewide office in Colorado.

Republican Wayne Williams has raised a total of $225,522, which isn't even half of the total raised by Neguse. We're actually kind of surprised Williams has even raised that much given his numerous problems with fundraising.

Neguse has run a very strong campaign for Secretary of State, which gives him the best odds in our view of the three Democrats running for down ballot statewide races (Attorney General, Treasurer, SOS). As we've said many times in the past, it is tough for any candidates running for these seats to really make a mark in an election year where tens of millions of dollars are being spent on three races alone (Governor, U.S. Senate, CO-6), particularly given the fact that Colorado voters tend to split their votes for these second-tier seats. But the combination of Neguse's strong campaign and Williams' general ineptitude — not to mention a poisonous four years from current SOS Scott Gessler – may just put Neguse over the top in November.

 

Survey of Latino Voters Finds Gardner Deeply Underwater

Rep. Cory Gardner (R).

Rep. Cory Gardner (R) practicing the face that Latino voters make when they hear his name.

Via the Public News Service, a new survey of Colorado Latino voters that every pollster concerned about their sampling of this critical segment of the electorate should take note of:

Latinos now make up 21 percent of Coloradans, and experts forecast this voting bloc could have a significant impact on the November midterm election. 

A survey released on Tuesday by the National Council of La Raza Action Fund and Latino Decisions finds 55 percent of Latino voters support incumbent Senator Mark Udall, and 14 percent support challenger Cory Gardner. The rest said they're undecided. 

Matthew McClellan, executive director of the NCLR Action Fund, says the Latino community appears to be reacting to several years of policy action or on some issues, lack of action. 

"The Latino community has seen a lot of inaction over the last couple years, and they're blaming the Republican party quite a bit more than the Democratic party, and I think that's probably what's hurting Gardner the most," he says.

We haven't seen hard numbers to confirm it yet, but anecdotally we do believe much more attention is being paid to Latino voters in Colorado this year than in prior elections. There is more advertising in Spanish, and more field campaign focus on turning out Latino voters on both sides. Despite well-publicized attempts earlier this year to "reach out" to Latinos by Colorado GOP chairman Ryan Call and others, and even meddling in the primary process to help ensure anti-immigrant poster child Tom Tancredo did not win, there's little to suggest in these numbers that it's helped them. There's just no way you can separate the Republican Party's long hostile record with Latinos, or the anti-immigrant icons like Tancredo who are almost exclusively Republican partisans, from the GOP ticket on the ballot today. Certainly not just with idle platitudes like Cory Gardner, in stark contrast with his record.

Bottom line: yesterday, SurveyUSA released two polls in Colorado with slightly different methodology. One of those polls came up with a Latino sample of only six percent–a ridiculously small figure in a state that is 21% Latino. The other actually showed Gardner with a lead among Latino voters, an inexplicable result that threw the entire poll into question. A fascinating interview by the New York Times yesterday of SurveyUSA's Jay Leve in response to questions about their polling in Colorado reveals that pollsters just aren't any good at sampling for Latino voters–and they know it.

I get that criticism; I understand it. And the Hispanic data that you’re looking at in Colorado, that shows a Republican ahead among Hispanics, is also at odds with common sense. So I can’t defend it except that we give people the opportunity to self-identify as Hispanic, and we record it.

We have been accused in the past as having blacks who are not “black enough.” I get that criticism. Our black respondents, instead of being 90-10 Democratic, are sometimes 67-33. Do I think it turns out that way on way on Election Day? No, I think we’re too Republican on black voters, just as we are sometimes too Republican on Hispanic voters. This is not unique to SurveyUSA. [Pols emphasis]

Are there people who specialize in Latino polling who conduct elaborate studies and then in turn prove, to their satisfaction and probably mine, that the Latino population is overwhelmingly Democratic? Yes. Is there something that we can do better? I’m sure that there is. At the moment, though, it is what it is.

That's a very candid admission–and if this survey of Latino voters is right, it's a huge blind spot for anyone trying to understand what's really going to happen in Colorado on Election Day.

What is Amendment 68?

*Colorado Pols is profiling ballot measures that will appear on the 2014 Colorado statewide ballot. See also:
- What is Amendment 67 in Colorado?
- What is Amendment 68 in Colorado?
- What is Proposition 104 in Colorado?
- What is Proposition 105 in Colorado?
 


Amendment 68 (Colorado)
OFFICIAL TITLE: Horsetrack Limited Gaming Proceeds for K-12 Education
ALSO KNOWN AS: That Gambling/ School Funding Thing

 

Official Ballot Language for Amendment 68:
"Shall state taxes be increased $114,500,000 annually in the first full fiscal year, and by such amounts that are raised thereafter, by imposing a new tax on authorized horse racetracks' adjusted gross proceeds from limited gaming to increase statewide funding for K-12 education, and, in connection therewith, amending the Colorado Constitution to permit limited gaming in addition to pre-existing pari-mutuel wagering at one qualified horse racetrack in each of the counties of Arapahoe, Mesa, and Pueblo; authorizing host communities to impose impact fees on horse racetracks authorized to conduct limited gaming; allowing all resulting revenue to be collected and spent notwithstanding any limitations provided by law; and allocating the resulting tax revenues to a fund to be distributed to school districts and the charter school institute for K-12 education?"


…In Other Words:
Should we build a casino at a horse track in just one county in Colorado, and somehow use the tax revenue to give money to schools across the state? And by the way, can we also allow gambling in Mesa and Pueblo counties? It’s for the schools, or something!

Amendment 68 is difficult to fully understand, probably by design. It sounds alright at first glance – tax gambling to raise money for schools – but critics say it contains more holes than the Colorado Rockies’ lineup (for example, who pays for infrastructure and safety costs that would follow construction of a giant casino in Arapahoe County?). Similar broadly written measures have been handily defeated by Colorado voters in the past, including Amendment 33 in 2003, and opposition to Amendment 68 has come from both sides of the political aisle.

It’s important to note that Amendment 68, if passed, would override current laws that give local voters the ultimate say on whether or not to allow casinos in their communities. Some revenue would likely be generated for public and charter schools, but it is unclear how much money, or how it would be distributed.


Who Supports Amendment 68?
People who want to see more casinos and gambling in Colorado but aren’t really concerned about the rest of the details. Colorado Horse Associations (whatever that means). Also, some dude who runs a casino in Rhode Island.


Who Opposes Amendment 68?
Most 2014 candidates are opposed, as is a diverse collection of groups such as the Colorado Municipal League, the Homebuilders’ Association and the Colorado PTA. 
 

The Horse Race* (Will Amendment 68 Pass or Fail?)
There’s a saying about ballot measures that goes something like this: If you don’t know, vote No. Public opposition seems to be growing for Amendment 68, and we’d guess low-information voters will follow suit by voting against an unclear measure (even if it says it will provide money for education).

*No pun intended, we swear.


Links
No on 68 campaign site

Yes on 68 campaign site
 

Q-Poll Tightens Governor’s Race, CNN: Gardner 50%, Udall 46%

beauprezdemsfear

Lots of polling out this morning on Colorado's two top races today, with more on the way–starting with Quinnipiac University's newest poll of the gubernatorial race. The Denver Post's Lynn Bartels reports:

A new poll from Quinnipiac University still shows Republican challenger Bob Beauprez in the lead, but Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper has closed the gap among women and independent voters and his favorability ratings have improved.

The poll, released early Wednesday, reveals Colorado voters favor Beauprez over Hickenlooper 46 percent to 42 percent, a change from last month when Quinnipiac tracked a 10-point lead for the Republican.

"After seeming to waver in our last survey, women and independent voters pull Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper back from the abyss and reinvigorate a race that's very close," said Tim Malloy, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University poll.

Here is Quinnipiac's release on today's poll.

In truth, very few local observers took Quinnipiac's 10-point lead for Bob Beauprez seriously, and it's more likely their numbers are just tracking back to reality from previously outlier findings. We'll have to see tomorrow's Q-poll of the Senate race for a clearer picture of movement within their sample.

Mark Udall, Cory Gardner.

Mark Udall, Cory Gardner.

Meanwhile, CNN's new poll of the Senate race shows Republican Cory Gardner up by four points over incumbent Sen. Mark Udall:

Gardner held a 50 percent to 46 percent edge on first-term Democratic Sen. Mark Udall in the survey of 665 likely voters, conducted Oct. 9-13. The poll's margin of error is plus or minus 4 percentage points.

Republicans have targeted Udall and several other Democratic incumbents in their effort to win at least six seats this fall — enough to gain a Senate majority for President Barack Obama's final two years in office. Traditional Democratic advantages among women and urban voters aren't enough to overcome strong headwinds, said CNN Polling Director Keating Holland.

"Udall is getting clobbered in the all-important suburbs, as well as in rural areas, and his lead in Colorado cities is not enough to overcome that," Holland said.

"There is a gender gap, but in this case it appears to be working in favor of the Republican. Udall has a nine-point advantage among women, but that is dwarfed by the 20-point lead Gardner has among men," he said.

The same CNN poll shows incumbent Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper with a statistically meaningless one-point lead over Beauprez, 49-48%. We haven't seen the memo yet for CNN's poll, and since this is their first survey of Colorado races there's no trajectory to observe here. That said, most recent polling has shown Gardner opening up a small lead over incumbent Democratic Sen. Mark Udall, consistent with these numbers. Historically, as readers know, polling in Colorado tends to understate Democratic turnout, and recent election reforms like mail ballots for every voter and registration all the way up to Election Day make it more or less impossible for pollsters to know if their "likely voter" samples are accurate. Smart pollsters concede, and everyone playing pundit in these races needs to be aware, that the final result could be very different from anybody's polling due to unknown, unknowable variables. After this election, we'll all know a lot more about how these reforms have changed the electorate.

With all of this in mind, Democratic field campaigns fanning out across the state of Colorado today are fully aware of the urgency of their task–and these polls explain why.