IndyNinja

About IndyNinja

I support People, not Parties. I support Ideas, not Ideologies. I am an independent voter.

Waller Drops Out of AG Race

(What a strange ending for Waller. He probably should have dropped out months ago, or at least soon after the GOP State Convention, so why now? — Promoted by Colorado Pols)

As Eli Stokols at KDVR (And later, everyone else) reports:
 

State Rep. Mark Waller announced Monday afternoon that he is ending his campaign for attorney general and asked his fellow Republicans to unify behind Cynthia Coffman, FOX31 Denver was first to report.

Honestly, Waller’s decision came about because Republicans already had unified behind Coffman, Colorado’s deputy attorney general, who won support from nearly 70 percent of the delegates at the GOP state assembly earlier this month.

After Waller barely made the primary ballot earning just over 30 percent at the assembly, the writing was on the wall. [Emphasis Mine]

This will free up only a minimal amount of resources for other Republican candidates. As Stokols points out, Waller had only minimal support anyway. While this news is interesting, it doesn't really change much. 

 

Nate Silver Picks Udall To Win

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Nate Silver, Prophet

Nate Silver.

In one of his first posts since re-launching fivethirtyeight.com, Nate Silver picked Udall to win in the 2014 Colorado Senate Race, saying:

The GOP got the candidate of its choice in Rep. Cory Gardner, who declared for the race last month. That will prevent them from again nominating Ken Buck, the tea party candidate who lost a winnable race in 2010. (Buck has withdrawn from this year’s Senate race and decided to run for the U.S. House instead.) By our measures, Gardner is a decent candidate rather than a great one. He’ll start at a fundraising deficit to the Democratic incumbent, Mark Udall, who had $4.7 million in cash on hand as of Dec. 31, and he comes from a conservative district and has amassed a conservative voting record that may or may not translate well in the Denver suburbs. But Udall’s approval ratings only break even, and we give Republicans a 40 percent chance of winning his seat.

In rating the various Senate races, Silver and his team considered the national environment, candidate quality, state partnership, incumbency advantage, and available head-to-head polls. 

Silver went on to predict that the GOP had a slight advantage overall, with North Carolina rated as a 50-50 toss up and set to decide control of the Senate in 2015. He did urge caution though, as many of these races will shift significantly depending on the results of primaries. 

Silver explains that the Senate elections in years like this (seats which last had an election during an open seat presidential year, like 2008), the opposition is expected to have a major advantage, which in this case, should be amplified by the ongoing GOP advantage in off-years. So the fact the Senate battle is shaping up to be an even split, with neither side a clear front-runner, is actually great news for dems. 

But we'll have to wait and see once primaries in states like Alaska have been decided for a truly clear picture of where everything stands. 

(more…)

Quote of the Year

Maybe not, but it's pretty darn funny. 

In a Denver Post Article today, the opening paragraph is:

State Rep. Mark Waller says he can't quite articulate his thoughts about the current session of the House of Representatives, but he insists they're nonetheless valid.

Classic.

In other news, has anyone else noticed that this notice has been coming up on the Denver Post site:

You've reached your limit of free articles for this 30-day period. For full digital access, sign up today for just 99¢!

I guess we've all been mooching too much, for too long. The setup on the paywall is pretty flimsy, though. I got by without much trouble.

This probably should be in the open thread, but no one is going to read anything in the weekend open thread this late on a Sunday and I don't want to wait til tomorrow morning. 

Plus, I'm an adult and I'll do what I want. 

RMGO Goes To War Against The GOP

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

SUNDAY POLS UPDATE: The Denver Post's Lynn Bartels:

The three RMGO-backed Senate candidates in Jefferson County are Tony Sanchez, Laura Woods and Tim Neville. Sanchez faces Nicolais in the GOP primary for the Senate seat now held by Democrat Andy Kerr, while Woods faces Sias in the GOP primary for the Senate seat now held by Democrat Rachel Zenzinger. Neville so far has no primary opponent, and is expected to face Democrat Jeanne Nicholson in November.

Rocky Mountain Gun Owners claims in its Facebook post that the party is allowing “campaign operatives” for “anti-gun” candidates Sias and Nicolais to work in the Jeffco office and have “exclusive access to key data” that could give them an advantage in the June 24 primary. Brown also claimed in a fundraising letter that the party is “giving preferential treatment to the candidates who refused to fill out our survey.”

Nicolais, who is a member of the NRA, pointed out that he didn’t bother to fill out the survey for the same reason he didn’t fill out the AFL-CIO survey: He wasn’t going to get the endorsement. He said he received the survey after the gun group already endorsed Sanchez.

—–

Not that it's really anything new, but Dudley Brown of the Rocky Mountain Gun Owners is again causing trouble. 

In an email sent to RMGO members and supports this morning, Brown stated that:

RMGO-PAC has received word from multiple sources that the Jefferson County Republican Party is now turning away volunteers that openly support conservatives in the area

If that sounds strange to you, it should. But he goes on to explain that he doesn't mean ALL conservatives…

The party is asking volunteers, at the door, who they are supporting in contested State Senate primaries, and if they answer "Laura Woods", "Tony Sanchez" and "Tim Neville" (RMGO-PAC endorsed candidates), the volunteers are asked to leave.

That's a pretty bold accusation. And if true, could lead to some interesting GOP intra-party drama come County Assembly, which is on March 22. 

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Rep Wright Leaves Gun Unattended at Capitol

(The stupid! It burns! – promoted by Colorado Pols)

THURSDAY POLS UPDATE: Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense​ released the following statement today:

"As a concealed-carry permit holder, Rep. Wright should understand the risks of leaving a loaded gun unattended. On any given day there are classes of school-aged children touring the Capitol. And we all know the horror stories of what happens when children find loaded guns. It is inexcusable,” said State Leader, Jennifer Hope.
 
She continued, "Rep. Wright claims he carries his weapon because it is his ‘duty to be a first responder.' To that we ask, how can someone respond to an emergency situation when they can't even locate their weapon? The sad irony here is that Rep. Wright sponsored legislation to expand concealed carry rights to gun owners without permits.  We shudder to think of this reality as we see the example of ‘responsible gun ownership’ that Rep Wright has displayed."

—–

Rep. Jared Wright (R-Fruita).

Rep. Jared Wright (R-Fruita).

Let's hear a big hurrah for the Jared Wright as he absolutely obliterates any chance that Republican's will be able to use gun laws to hurt Dems in the 2014 elections in Colorado. 

In a move so ironic it hurts, State Representative Jared Wright left a loaded gun behind after a committee hearing on… wait for it… concealed carry permits. 

As if Jared Wright didn't have enough problems within and beyond his own party, he is now single-handedly responsible for enshrining the Democratic Party's majority for 2015, and will now be the poster boy for the (not so) responsible gun owners. 

The Republic/AP reports:

DENVER — A state lawmaker says he'll no longer carry a firearm in the Capitol after he inadvertently left a loaded handgun in a committee room…

State law prohibits guns in the Capitol "without legal authority." Wright, who was on the Fruita police force in 2007-2011, says that as a peace officer he has a right to be armed in the Capitol.

Wright says after speaking with the State Patrol and Gov. John Hickenlooper's office, he won't carry a gun in the Capitol anymore.

This follows a Durango Herald piece from last year when Rep. Chris Holbert told a witness testifying about gun bills: "Do you understand that there are several guns in this room?"

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After Gay Marriage, is Polygamy Next?

Since we seem to have reached watershed status and state after state is now allowing same-sex marriage, many of us have come very accustomed to hearing slippery slope arguments about how gay marriage will ultimately lead to similar laws allowing people to marry multiple spouses, children, or even animals and household appliances. 

Usually, these arguments are rightfully ignored, but let's consider the question honestly for a moment. 

Marrying your Mr. Coffee or pet poodle is simply ridiculous. Neither is capable of expressing consent. Similarly, children are considered to not be capable of rendering consent. Although, the laws establishing the age of consent and the ability to marry with parental permission vary widely across the states.  

But when we reach the question of polygamy, I think the doomsdayers may have a point. It is, in my opinion, entirely plausible that the next fight after gay marriage will be for multiple marriages. After all, we allow unlimited serial marriages, as evidenced by this Indiana woman who is considering her 24th husband. Totally legal. 

So is we are ok, legally, with somebody marrying 24 men one right after the other, why are we so frightened by the idea of someone marrying two men at the same time, with everyone involved consenting?

Unfortunately, polygamy carries with it the stigma of some very famous cult-like communes in which young girls were forced into plural marriages with much older men. But that is a separate issue of age of consent and should not be lumped in with the debate over polygamy.

Meanwhile, tv shows like Big Love and Sister Wives are raising awareness and priming the country for a discussion about the limits of marriage. And in fact, the family featured in Sister Wives was the subject of a recent court case which resulted in the weakening of Utah's bigamy prohibitions, essentially allowing people to choose polygamy as a lifestyle without fear of prosecution, while upholding the state's right to decline recognizing the marriages. 

Colorado currently has a similar law, making it a class 6 and class 2 felony respectively for "Any married person who, while still married, marries or cohabits in this state with another." 

This decision could easily be compared to the Supreme Court case in 2003 which struck down sodomy laws. Once gay couples could be "out" without fear of government persecution, the public was able to see how common it was and how many "normal" people were gay. We may see a similar effect as state cohabitation laws begin to fall all over the US and plural marriage families begin to live openly. 

So perhaps some on the right are correct when they say that the next step in the liberalization of marriage is polygamy. But they are wrong in thinking that the gay rights movement is the first step, this progression began long before gay rights. And they are wrong to draw that line farther by concluding that children, animals, and objects will follow, because those prohibitions are not based in religious preference, but rather in the question of consent. 

As for me, I maintain the position that marriage is not the business of the government. I would rather see governments at every level end recognition and regulation of marriage altogether and replace those laws with a system that allows any number of adults to unify their finances and property if they wish, regardless of their romantic relationship with one another. 

But since that is unlikely in the near future, I will continue to support the movement towards recognition, or at least decriminalization, of consenting adults who choose to be in uncommon relationships, whether they are interracial, same-sex, or polygamous. 

Clown-Car Preview w/o 2/10

(Whee! – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Here are some of the bills we can look forward to seeing die this week. Special note is given to the nearly identical bills to repeal the magazine capacity limit from last year being heard in both the House and Senate committees this week. Also worth noting is Jared Wright's repeat attempt to make it illegal for any state employee to assist federal law enforcement who are pursuing terrorist threats (which is identical to the bill that failed last year).

I particularly enjoy the solution-seeking-a-problem bill proposed Renfroe to keep the governor from restricting firearms in the case of an emergency. 

Monday:

HB14-1155 Wright–Prohibit State Aid To NDAA Investigations

HB14-1106 Nordberg and Wright–Tax Deduction For Affordable Care Act Penalty

HB14-1151 Holbert and Saine–Repeal Ammunition Magazine Prohibition

SB14-111 by Senator(s) Brophy; also Representative(s) (None)–Interstate Sale Small Employer Health Benefit Plan

SB14-038 by Senator(s) Renfroe; also Representative(s) Everett–Governor Cannot Restrict Firearms During Emergency

Wednesday:

SB14-100 by Senator(s) Baumgardner and Herpin, also Representatives(s) None– Repeal Large Capacity Ammunition Magazine Ban

Thursday:

HB14-1128 Szabo–Reduce Voter Identity Theft

 

 

CO Campaign Finance Law Struck Down

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Former Rep. Kathleen Curry.

Former Rep. Kathleen Curry.

The Coloradoan and the Herald reported last week that the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled in favor of La Plata County Commissioner Joelle Riddle and, by extension, former State Representative Kathleen Curry of Gunnison in their suit challenging Colorado's campaign finance limits. 

In 2010, Curry ran a write-in campaign as an independent candidate. The fact that she was having to run as a write in is yet another form of discrimination against independent candidates, but that's a separate issue. 

The case involved Colorado's limit of individual contributions of $200 per election. If that number seems wrong to you, it's because that number raises to $400 if you are running as a Democrat or Republican, since you might have a primary, (but probably won't). 

In the 2010 election, despite running as a write in, Curry lost by only 359 votes. If she had been able to raise double the money, like each of her opponents, she certainly could have won. 

In the review of the case, 590 State House and Senate candidates from the Dem and GOP parties were examined and it was determined that only 63 of them had actually faced a primary challenge. Yet, all of them had been allowed to collect twice as much per individual donor and to use all of that money during months immediately before the general election. 

Colorado will now be forced to rethink it's campaign finance laws. One proposal is to copy the federal law and require separate accounts for primary and general election funds, and prohibit primary funds from being spent after the primary election date. Another option is to simply drop the charade of primary vs general funds and just let all candidates collect up to $400 regardless of party affiliation. Either way, Colorado election law is a little bit more fair today.  

Candidates Emerge in Race to Succeed Schafer

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

On January 13th, the same day that HD 24 Rep. Sue Schafer announced she would not seek reelection, Edgewater Council Member Kristian Teegardin filed as a candidate. The next day, America Votes state director Jessie Danielson announced she would seek the seat as well. 

Both campaigns are already interviewing for paid campaign staff positions and it appears that this race will be intense. 

(more…)

CO Insurance Commissioner Deflates “UdallGate” Claim

POLS UPDATE: State officials say that not only was Sen. Udall not intimidating the State's Department of Insurance in asking about the validity of policy cancellations, he was also HELPFUL in his questions. So much for that outrage. From Fox 31:

In separate letters Tuesday afternoon, Commissioner Marguerite Salazar and Barbara J. Kelley, the executive director of the Dept. of Regulatory Agencies, informed Congressman Cory Gardner, R-Yuma, and state Rep. Amy Stephens, one of several GOP candidates looking to challenge Udall later this year, that a fact-finding review “revealed no evidence of any intimidation, and the ‘level of coercion by Senator Udall and/or his staff’ was zero.”

On Monday, Salazar was pressed about the interaction by Republican lawmakers during her own confirmation hearing at the Capitol.

“I characterize this as a heated discussion between two staff people that happens all the time,” Salazar said, trying to downplay the controversy.

Salazar’s letter to Gardner Tuesday reiterated that position.

“Senator Udall’s staff was doing their own research separate and apart from the Division, and brought certain information to our attention, including the fact that carriers were sending notices that included renewal options,” she wrote.

“Moreover, we think the Senator’s efforts were useful.”

—–

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Article By The Colorado Independent

Marguerite Salazar, confirmed by the Senate in Denver Monday as state insurance commissioner, threw cold water on state Republican outrage machine. During her confirmation hearing, she said the messages staffers for Democratic U.S. Sen. Mark Udall, who’s up for reelection, sent to her office pushing back on the number of Obamacare-related health insurance policy cancelations was routine communication and in fact bolstered the work of her staff.

As CoPols mentioned yesterday, it's only a matter of time before the facts confirm the material points of Sen. Mark Udall's objection with the widely-reported statistic that a quarter-million Coloradoans (yes, that's the right way to write Coloradoans) had their health insurance canceled. But in the mean time, the accusations that Udall had bullied or harassed a state department is losing steam all on it's own with the "victim" saying that nothing had been done wrong. 

But don't hold your breath waiting for this development to be reported very far outside the Colorado Independent. 

Caldara Gloats About His Voter Fraud in DP Editorial

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Article

Jon Caldara, the infamous head of the Independence Institute, had an editorial printed in Colorado's paper of record yesterday telling the people of the state that they can now legally voter anywhere in the state that they want, and that the winner of elections going forward will be the campaign with the most buses. His evidence: "How do we know this? Well, because I'm not going to jail."

As this site has covered on multiple occasions, the law passed last year to expand voter access does not, in any way, allow voters to vote wherever they please, and numerous Republican elected officials have said as much, too. But that means nothing to Caldara, who has continued his "neener, neener" parade across newspapers and talk radio since the Colorado attorney general's office decided not to file charges against him. 

In the editorial, Caldara goes even farther, announcing an accelerated campaign to teach all Colorado voters how to legally vote in districts where they do not live. 

The question remains about how the 2014 legislature intends to deal with this issue, if at all. 

Bill of the Week – Hidden Guns for Everyone!

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Wasting no time with their pledge to make every day about guns during the 2014 session, Reps. Wright and Holbert are first up to bat with HB14-1041, a bill for an act:

"CONCERNING ALLOWING A LAW-ABIDING PERSON TO CARRY A CONCEALED HANDGUN WITHOUT A PERMIT, AND, IN CONNECTION THEREWITH, PRESERVING CURRENT LAWS RESTRICTING THE CARRYING OF CONCEALED HANDGUNS ON CERTAIN PROPERTY INCLUDING SCHOOL GROUNDS."

This bill does two things. I'd address them in order of crazy, but I can't honestly decided which is which. 

First, the bill basically says that anyone who would be able to lawfully possess (notice: "Possess", not "purchase") a gun in the State of Colorado automatically has the right to concealed carry without a permit. 

The word possess is key here, especially as the Republicans work to loosen the Universal Background Check restriction put in place in 2013. If the bill limited the provision to people who could legally purchase a gun in Colorado, this would be slightly less insane, but only slightly.

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A Few Words on HD13 and Levy’s Resignation

First of all, term limits are a horrible idea. But that's not what I'm here to discuss, so I one start to dig into all the reasons why. But I will address one of them. Term limits result in lawmakers going job-hunting before their time in office is over. 

The case in point is Rep. Claire Levy (D-HD13) who is leaving her seat in the State House at the end of October to take a position with the Colorado Center on Law and Policy. 

If she had stayed, the 2014 session would have been her last, so some might have trouble seeing the difference. 

But I think there is a big difference. And lawmakers who leave their post the year before they are term limited is one of the worst and most damaging elements of our state's system. 

And here is why:

Before Levy had announced she would be resigning, the race to replace her in the 2014 election had already begun. Two Dem candidates, Tad Kline (http://www.tadklineforhd13.org/) and KC Becker (http://kcbecker.org/) had already announced their intention to run for the seat next year. But that race, which would have been a spirited and interesting primary, decided by the voters in HD13, will now be decided by a couple dozen Dems on October 19th. If either of them is chosen by the vacancy committee, they will now be the incumbent when caucuses roll around and are unlikely to be challenged. And that isn't right. 

The person who serves in this seat for the next 8 years should be chosen during an election, not a back-room coronation. 

There is hope, though. Two additional candidates, George Clark and Zane Laubham, have expressed interest in filling the vacancy for the remaining 15 months of Levy's term, but have not declared candidacy for the 2014 race. The vacancy committee has the opportunity, here, to appoint someone who has no interest in keeping the seat for 2015, so that a legitimate election can still be held. 

I don't know anything about the candidates (another one of the down-sides of the vacancy process is a low amount of information), but if either Clark or Laubham are willing to commit to not running and they are reasonably qualified for the spot, I would encourage the vacancy committee to select that person and give the voters of HD13 an opportunity to choose their own representative through the normal election process. 

Don Coram Lies (Dog Bites Man)

As someone who is concerned with the practices of the oil and gas industry, I was excited when HB 1269 was proposed, and very disappointed when it was watered down during debate.

The original bill would have prohibited employees of the oil and gas industry from being appointed to the board that regulates said industry, but the final version of the bill allows for industry employees to be appointed to the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission and continue, as foxes, to guard the henhouse.

But it seems that Morrison Rep. Don Coram wasn’t paying attention during that debate, despite how important he says it is. Either that or he is purposely lying about it in his recent email to his subscribers:

“HB13-1269- Another bill debated on the floor was HB 1269. This bill reorganizes the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission to prohibit any newly appointed commissioner from being an employee, officer, or director of an oil and gas operator or service company. The results of this bill passing would be similar to restricting any practicing nurse, doctor, or medical professional from serving on a medical board. Rep. Scott from Grand Junction and I both fought against this bill and gained support once again from democrats Ed Vigil and Mike McLachlan. The bill passed and is now headed to the Senate.”

This is just another in a long chain of lies and intention deceptions distributed by members of the GOP this year as the struggle with their regained minority status. Yet the press continues to ignore them entirely.

Dishonest Death Penalty Show Down

The stage was set, Monday, for an inter-party showdown over the repeal of the death penalty.

Competing House Bills 1264 and 1270 both call for an end to the practice of executions by the state, but while 1264, sponsored by Representatives Jovan Melton and Claire Levy simply repeals the practice, 1270, sponsored by Rep. Rhonda Fields, would refer the question to the voters.

Now, there is certainly plenty of debate to be had over whether repealing the death penalty is the right thing to do, beginning with today's Judiciary Committee hearing, and I have my own strong opinions about that, but what I want to talk about is Rep. Fields and her tactics.

Two of the three people currently on death row were responsible for the death of her son, meaning she is hardly objective on this issue. But the fact is, the voters of her district knew her history and her positions when they elected her. So the fact that she has crusaded against guns and opposes ending the death penalty is no big surprise, nor do I think it is unethical for her to participate in this debate.

What is surprising, and upsetting, is that she has chosen to run a competing repeal bill rather than simply oppose Melton's.

She has said, openly and repeatedly, that she is against the repeal. But rather than debate that point, she has decided to make it about who has the right to make that policy decision. And in doing so, she is undercutting everything that democrats have been working for.

The argument on civil unions, on TABOR, and uncountable democratic positions is that the ideal form of government consists of empowered elected officials who write the laws on behalf of the voters. So when Rep. Fields says the legislature is underqualified to handle something as serious as the question of whether the government shoud be executing people, she seriously jeapordizes that message, and someone from her party really needs to tell her so.

I hope there will be a substantial debate over the death penalty, but that debate should be one with an honest opposition, not a dishonest counter-measure sponsored by someone who actually hopes her own bill will fail.