Colorado Senate Seat “Likely Democratic”

Roll Call has an early rundown of where the 2014 Senate races are ranked in order of competitiveness. Colorado is listed as “Likely Democratic” among the 33 Senate races, which puts Sen. Mark Udall’s seat well outside the top tier:

The early read from both sides is that Udall is in a strong position for re-election. Even Republicans concede that he has deftly positioned himself as a moderate on fiscal and social issues.

But the DNA of Colorado is a swing state, and midterm races are typically difficult for the president’s party, especially during a second term. Republicans fell just short of ousting Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet in 2010. Therefore, the GOP is optimistic and several names have already surfaced. The Republican who strikes the most fear in the hearts of Colorado Democrats is Rep. Cory Gardner.

Other possible challengers include 2008 Senate candidate Bob Schaffer, former Rep. Bob Beauprez and state Attorney General John Suthers.

Nothing new there (at least not to readers of Colorado Pols). Republican Rep. Cory Gardner is mentioned as the “scariest” potential GOP candidate, and also picked up a mention in a similar story on The National Journal (subscription required).

Is Gardner really “The Republican who strikes the most fear in the hearts of Colorado Democrats?” On the whole, of course not. But this is all relative to other potential GOP candidates, and with that background Gardner is definitely the one that would be most worrisome for Udall.

Gardner’s relative strength is key in this discussion, because Udall would still be a heavy favorite for re-election if Gardner was the GOP candidate. And that is exactly why Gardner won’t run for Senate in 2014. He’s doing the smart thing by letting his name float out there for 2014, because any discussion of Gardner as a Senate candidate only enhances his name ID and perceived strength among Republicans.

Gardner won’t run against Udall because it is too big of a political risk. He can hold his current House seat for as long as he wants, so there’s no rush to move up. If he did decide to run against Udall and lost, Gardner would be out of elected office without having had time to grow his political network (a Republican would likely replace Gardner in CD-4, which would preclude him from trying to retake his old seat in 2016).

Gardner is in a great position to be mentioned as a top Senate challenger, which is only happening because the GOP has no bench in Colorado. He won’t run, but for now there’s no benefit to officially removing his name from the rumor mill.

Suthers and Senate: Conflicting Rumors

Republican Attorney General John Suthers is apparently giving (semi) serious thought to running for U.S. Senate against incumbent Democrat Mark Udall.

We really don’t believe that Suthers will end up as a candidate for Senate, but it makes sense that he would have early discussions about the possibility. In 2010 Suthers was heavily recruited by Texas Sen. John Cornyn (Cornyn was the head of the NRSC in 2010 and 2012) to run against Democrat Michael Bennet. Suthers declined and instead ran for re-election as Attorney General. Two years later, Suthers remains one of the few remaining high-profile Republicans in Colorado, but running against Udall would seem to be much tougher than challenging Bennet in 2010; Bennet was a top-tier pickup opportunity for Republicans in 2010, but Udall is lower on the list in 2012 for a number of reasons (name ID and the fact that he is a true elected incumbent, to name two reasons).

As we discussed last week, Republicans can count the number of top GOP names on one hand, which means someone like Suthers will be wooed early. But while Suthers has at least expressed some interest in the Senate in years past, we’d be very surprised if he actually decided to jump in the race for 2014.

Want To Filibuster? Sure, But Keep It Real

Huffington Post:

Use of the filibuster to stall legislation — when the minority party refuses to end debate on a bill unless 60 senators vote to do so — has escalated in recent years, rising from a rarity to the norm. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has been signaling his readiness to curb the tactic, often noting that he has faced 385 filibusters during his leadership while Lyndon Johnson had to deal with only one when he ran the Senate.

A number of proposals are under consideration, including a bill sponsored by Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) and others that would essentially require an old-fashioned “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington”-style filibuster: Minority opponents of a measure would actually have to take the floor and hold forth for hours, rather than simply signal their intent to obstruct.

Making such a rule change in the Senate would normally require a 67-vote majority. But when the Senate comes back into session in January, Democrats could use a set of procedural rules often called the “nuclear option” and pass the changes with a simple 51-vote majority.

Two years ago, a similar proposal for reforming the filibuster from Colorado Sens. Mark Udall and Michael Bennet was defeated. Under that proposal, like the one from Sen. Jeff Merkley described above, would not ban filibusters, but would require that Senators engaging in a filibuster to actually occupy the podium in the Senate–not merely threaten to do so.

The partisan posturing you’re seeing around this debate is no accident, as the Washington Post’s Greg Sargent writes:

The extent of GOP filibustering is unprecedented. This chart shows that cloture motions (a rough measure of filibustering) suddenly spiked during the Obama years. Yes, they also spiked in 2007-2008, but according to Congressional scholar Norman Ornstein, the vast majority of those filibusters were mounted by Republicans, presumably to block legislation designed to embarrass George W. Bush. (Indeed, the motions to end filibusters during that period were filed mostly by Dems.)

The nature of GOP filibustering is unprecedented. Ornstein says this is true in two ways: First, in the extensive blockading of what used to be considered routine Senate business. And second, much of the filibustering is part of a concerted party strategy. “You’re not just looking at filibusters done by rogue senators or factions, like southern Democrats in the 1950s,” says Ornstein. “It’s the first time we’ve had a wide range of filibustering by a whole party.”

Desire by Democrats to reform the filibuster, to break the logjam caused by a GOP minority determined to obstruct, is of course tempered by the knowledge that Democrats will themselves someday find themselves in the minority. When that happens, they will surely want minority rights preserved. With that said, there’s an objective case to be made that Senate Republicans have taken the filibuster to an extreme Democrats have never even considered; which has resulted in a serious breakdown in the ability of that chamber to function.

Since it’s politically not easy to defend the current filibuster practice in the Senate, which requires only the threat of a filibuster to stall legislation, Republicans are expected to fight the use of Senate procedure to pass filibuster reform without the usually required two-thirds in favor. Democrats objected when a Republican-controlled Senate considered this option, the story goes, so to employ it now would be hypocrisy. Talking about this battle over Senate procedure and rules is preferable to explaining why Republicans are unwilling to filibuster in the manner the public expects them to, by actually holding the floor and speaking.

Democrats will win this battle if they can make it about Republicans’ unwillingness to make simple and sensible changes to reduce gridlock in the Senate. The debate shouldn’t be about the “nuclear option,” but rather why it’s necessary. If Mitch McConnell is upset about rule changes made by simple majority, he should be made to explain why there aren’t 60 votes to pass them. There is no proposal we know of that would “end” the filibuster, and the compromise measure likely to be introduced in January is certain to fall well short of the hyperbole coming from the GOP. As we said, Democrats are mindful of their own future as they look at this.

Are we wrong? Is there a poll we missed that says gridlock is cool by voters now?

Labor Nudges Bennet, Udall on “Fiscal Cliff”

FOX 31′s Eli Stokols:

Exactly two weeks after Election Day, three of the country’s biggest labor unions have joined forces to run television ads in a handful of states, urging lawmakers to support the president’s position in ongoing negotiations over the “fiscal cliff.”

The 30-second ad asks Colorado Sens. Mark Udall and Michael Bennet, both Democrats, to support “jobs, not cuts.”

“We need Senators Bennet and Udall to continue to stand up for us by investing in job creation, extending the middle class tax cuts and protecting Medicare, Medicaid and education from cuts,” the narrator of the ad says…

“This election was about securing a mandate to fight for the middle class,” Scott Wasserman, the executive director of Colorado WINS, told FOX31 last week. “We’re just making sure Sens. Udall and Bennet are doing just that by fighting for jobs and defending against cuts that will hurt the middle class.”

Sen. Michael Bennet has recently joined up with a bipartisan “Gang of Six” negotiating bloc (which technically consists of eight members now with Bennet and Sen. Mike Johanns of Nebraska) that has attempted a few times to put together a large-scale agreement on entitlement spending, deficit spending, and tax policy. Likewise, Sen. Mark Udall has repeatedly made a deficit reduction deal a stated top priority.

In both cases, we think it’s fair to say our Colorado Senators have made advocates for the protection of Social Security, Medicare, and other domestic programs–protection and preservation of materially equivalent benefits–a bit nervous, with the obvious caveat that they are easier to deal with on the issue than Republicans. As the lame-duck battle over resolving the so-called “fiscal cliff” created by the Budget Control Act of 2011 gets underway, liberals are keen to translate the results of the recent elections into a mandate for ending the Bush tax cuts, and protecting institutions like Medicare that have been recently threatened.

Politically, it’s a relatively high-stakes moment, especially for Udall as re-election looms. To be part of a well-received solution to a long vexing and emotional problem would be a great thing for Udall’s career. On the other hand, it’s not a debate we’d want to end up on the wrong side of.

D is for Defense – 2014 CO Senate Preview

(Because it’s never too soon or something – promoted by Colorado Pols)



I know, I know, we just finished the election and no one wants to talk about voting anymore. But for the Democrats who just regained full control of the legislature, they are looking ahead to the next election, not because they want to, but because they have to. The fact that Dems start early is a big part of how we win. And in 2014, the big battlefield in Colorado is the State Senate.

Based on the results of November 6th, Democrats should be confident that they can hold the State House and retain the majority in 2014. But only half the Senate seats are put up for election each year. In 2014, the 17 seats that are up slightly favor GOP challengers, giving them the opportunity to gain a majority and split control of the legislature once again.

Currently, the Democrats hold 20 of the 35 seats in the Senate, so the GOP will need to flip 3 seats to win a majority. A tough, but doable task. Fortunately, the Dems managed to win almost all of the winnable seats in 2012, leaving them in a great position to defend the Senate in 2014.

(Jefferson County residents should prepare themselves for another long election season.)

Specifics after the jump…

Here’s the rundown:



Up for election this year are the following Senate Districts:

SD 1: Spans 11 counties across rural, Northeastern Colorado

SD 2: Spans 5 counties in rural Central Colorado

SD 3: Covers Pueblo West, the Western half of Pueblo, and the North West area of Pueblo County

SD 5: Spans 7 rural counties on the Western Slope

SD 6: Spans 8 Counties in Southwestern Colorado, including Durango

SD 7: Covers all of Mesa County, including Grand Junction

SD 9: Covers a portion of El Paso County, including Monument and the Air Force Academy

SD 11: Covers Colorado Springs and Manitou Springs

SD 13: Covers a potion of Weld County including Greely and Fort Lupton

SD 15: Covers most of Larimer County, excluding most of Fort Collins (which is in SD14)

SD 16: Covers most of rural Jefferson County, all of Gilpin County and parts of Rural Boulder County. Includes the towns of Golden and Morrison

SD 20: Central Jefferson County including parts of Wheat Ridge, Arvada, and Lakewood

SD 22: Mostly Lakewood, with some other bits of Jefferson County included

SD 24: Northwestern Adams County, including Northglenn and East Lake

SD 30: Highlands Ranch and some other parts of Douglas County

SD 32: South Denver

SD 34: Downtown Denver and Northwest Denver

Of those 17 seats up for election, 9 are currently held by Democrats and 8 are held by Republicans.

The Republican Seats:



Senate Districts 1, 2, 6, 7, 9, 13, 15 and 30 are held by Republicans. Based on analysis of the districts including voter registration numbers and previous elections, none of these seats are likely to be won by a Democrat in 2014.

Senate District 13 is the only one that’s really even possible. In 2008, Mark Udall managed to carry the district in his US Senate Race, but only just barely. His re-election campaign in 2014 may help a Democratic challenger here. In 2010, by contrast, Ken Buck received almost twice as many votes as Michael Bennett, which may scare any serious challenger away. Incumbent Scott Renfroe is the Chairman of the Republican Caucus in the Senate and his successor will have all the support they need to retain the seat.

The Democratic Seats:



Senate Districts 3, 5, 11, 16, 20, 22, 24, 32, and 34 are held by Democrats. Based on analysis of the districts including voter registration numbers and previous elections, several of these seats can be considered “swing seats”.

Districts 3, 32, and 34 are strong Dem seats. No Republican has a chance here.

District 11 is not as strong for the Dems as the three above, but even in 2010, the Dems won more votes here than the GOP. They should easily hold this seat.

District 24 is about as strong for Dems as district 13 is for the GOP. The Democrats have about 1500 more members in the district than the Republicans, but the GOP has won here in the past, including the 2010 Regent at-large race, though most attribute that to the fact that 2010 was the “wave year” for Republicans.

District 22 was won this year by Democrat Andy Kerr, but will be up again in 2014. Kerr won the district handily in 2012 and should be able to hold it in 2014. Nonetheless, the district is technically flipable. The GOP enjoys a voter registration advantage here, but the unaffiliated voters tend to side with the Dems, making the district lean left.

Dems hold a slight advantage in Districts 5 and 20, but only slight. Republicans have a voter registration advantage in both districts and have won races there in the past few years. District 20 has the benefit of an incumbent (Cheri Jahn) running for re-election, but in district 5, incumbent Gail Schwartz is term limited, so the seat will be wide open. Watch for Republicans to spend a ton of money in these two districts.

District 16 is the single best opportunity for the GOP to find a win in 2014. Together with SD20, Jefferson County will be a focal point for election activity in 2014 (again). Expect at least one of the parties to hold their state convention here. Incumbent Jeanne Nicholson will be targeted by the GOP and their “independent expenditure” groups the same way that Sen. Hudak was in 2012. The GOP has about 4000 more registered voters than the Dems, so effective outreach to the unaffiliated population will be crucial to the Dems’ chances. All said, though, Dems should be able to hold this seat, despite the GOP advantage here.  

Bennet DSCC Rumors Recirculate

Politico:

Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet has been offered the DSCC chairmanship post and discussed the possibility with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid on Monday, a Senate aide confirmed to POLITICO.

Bennet was offered the post, which is currently held by Sen. Patty Murray, late last week, and is considering it, a different source familiar with the discussions said.

Bennet’s name has been among four that have been floated publicly as possibilies – Sen. Amy Klobuchar, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, and Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse are the others.

On November 12th, 2010, we wrote a post titled Bennet To Head DSCC? where we discussed Sen. Michael Bennet’s brief but very good record with fundraising and high-level strategy–further experience with which he gained as a close advisor to President Barack Obama’s re-election campaign this year. Bennet declined the DSCC chair then, but naturally, having the head of the DSCC in-state would be a boost for Sen. Mark Udall’s re-election effort in 2014.

Nuns on the Bus Rap Paul Ryan’s Knuckles

Paul Ryan might be gone from the national stage for now, but the controversy over the “Ryan Plan” budget remains front and center as Congress returns to work today.

On the one hand, the media is heavily playing up the present narrative of the country teetering at the edge of a “fiscal cliff” as negotiations over a budget deal before the end of the year begin. That deal is needed to head off severe and automatic cuts required by the Budget Control Act of 2011, scheduled to go into effect if Congress can’t work out a compromise.

As the Colorado Springs Independent reports, Sister Simone Campbell’s Nuns on the Bus are preaching a very different “what would Jesus do” message:

The executive director of Network, a 40-year-old progressive organization of nuns, is featured this month in Rolling Stone’s story “The Sisters Crusade,” a piece that opens with her struggle to sit down with former vice-presidential candidate Paul Ryan to talk about the national budget…

No matter that President Obama has won a second term – “we have a bit more work to do,” she said to a group of about 75 people. “The election is over, and we might all think, ‘Oh praise God we don’t have to watch those ads anymore.’ But the fact is, our work has just begun. Because tomorrow Congress reconvenes, God help us.”

Their Faithful Budget, a “social justice rebuttal” to the GOP Ryan budget, lays out a plan that focuses on “reasonable revenues for responsible programs.” You might recall the Nuns on the Bus tour over the summer and fall, which was disparaged by Republicans at the time as politically “divisive.” That’s a harder charge to make stick after the election, isn’t it?

On Monday the sisters toured both ends of our state’s political spectrum, making stops in Colorado Springs and Boulder. This morning, they’re speaking with press outside Senator Michael Bennet’s Denver office, 1127 Sherman St., at 9:30AM.

Fifty local nuns and other faith leaders at each site will join nationally recognized Sister Simone Campbell in standing up for federally funded services such as nutrition assistance, early childhood education and job training that provide pathways out of poverty for millions of families.  

Faith leaders have joined together to create an alternative “Faithful Budget,” promoting comprehensive, compassionate and affordable budget principles to help lift the burden on the poor, rather than increasing it. They will urge Senator Michael Bennet and the rest of Colorado’s congressional delegation to consider this as they return to Washington.



Winners and Losers of 2012: Losers

After a few days of reflection, here is our list of losers from the 2012 election cycle in Colorado. Find our list of winners here.

1. Mitt Romney and Colorado Advisors

Mitt Romney’s campaign efforts in Colorado never made much sense to us. Romney spent far too long early in the campaign visiting traditionally beet-red, but more importantly under-populated areas of the state, allowing the battle for suburban votes to shift toward President Barack Obama. Some 85% of Colorado voters live along the Front Range between Ft. Collins and Pueblo, which we would think is fairly common knowledge at this point. At one point at the end of the summer, Romney had gone more than 30 days between visits to our state.

Later, Romney made a disastrous mistake by declaring himself opposed to the wind power production tax credit, which is tied to thousands of manufacturing jobs in Colorado–even though almost all Republicans in the state supported it. By the time Romney began to “Etch-a-Sketch” himself into a moderate candidate for the general election, he had already radicalized himself in the eyes of too many Colorado voters. Once that was done, his attempts to walk back from the hard-right positions he took in the primary looked disingenuous and fed distrust.

But above all, Republican supporters of Romney in Colorado disastrously internalized their own spin, and convinced themselves that polls showing Obama steadily regaining, then holding his lead in Colorado from mid-October onward were “skewed.” This false sense of security, combined with the Obama campaign’s world-beating field campaign, yanked the rug out from under Romney’s feet in a state that consistently ranked as one of the most competitive.

2. Frank McNulty

Outgoing Colorado House Speaker Frank McNulty will go down in history as one of the most divisive, Machiavellian, and ultimately self-destructive leaders in the history of the state. Taking a one-seat majority in 2010 by the barest of electoral margins, McNulty acted as if this was a mandate for the “Tea Party.” Abusing and manipulating legislative rules to an extent nobody we know can remember a match for, McNulty ruthlessly carried out a partisan, obstructionist game plan in the House against the Democratic Senate and Governor’s office.

But McNulty’s arrogance was his own undoing. McNulty lost control of the legislative reapportionment process through his own bad faith, resulting in maps that dramatically reduced the number of “safe” seats for either party. Then McNulty turned the 2012 legislative session into a nationwide controversy when he shut down debate just before civil unions legislation would have passed his chamber with bipartisan support.

As a result, outside money poured into key legislative races, and Democrats used the story of the shutdown of the legislature against Republican House candidates all over the state. Today, not even a candidate for GOP House minority leadership, the implosion of Frank McNulty’s political career is pretty much complete.

3. Angry, Knee-Jerk Politics

Republicans were given yet another bruising lesson in the folly of embracing extreme and controversial stands on wedge issues in a moderate swing state. One of the best examples of this was the response by Republicans in the Colorado State Senate to the battle over birth control coverage as part of the Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”). First, Sen. Greg Brophy willingly inserted himself into that debate by crudely insulting Sandra Fluke in defense of radio shock-jock Rush Limbaugh. Later, Senate Republicans held a rally on the steps of the Capitol likening birth control coverage to Nazis, genocide, and even King Henry VIII.

Despite problems with the mainstream media failing to cover these antics, advocacy groups and others, working with the Obama campaign with essentially the same message, were able to demonstrate a “War on Women” continuum between the national issue of women’s reproductive health and local Republican politicians. This amplified and localized the damage done via national stories like Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock–and hurt the GOP brand all the way up and down the ticket.

4. Joe Coors, Jr.

Colorado Pols broke the news last December that Joe Coors, Jr. was going to challenge Democrat Ed Perlmutter in CD-7, and we were as confused then as we are now. Why would an independently wealthy guy enjoying retirement want to run for a job where, if successful, he would be a 70-year-old freshman Congressman? It’s one thing to run for the U.S. Senate, as brother Pete Coors did in 2004, because the prize is so much bigger and you don’t have to run for re-election every two years. It’s another thing entirely to run for the House against an incumbent who absolutely destroyed his Republican challenger in 2010 in what was then a Republican wave.

Even die-hard Republicans admitted that Coors didn’t have much of a chance against Perlmutter, but that didn’t stop him from spending millions of dollars of his own money just to get punched in the face by past skeletons. The money, perhaps, isn’t as important to Coors. But the damage to his reputation is permanent. This time last year, how many friends and neighbors knew that Joe had once predicted that the world would end in 2000? How many knew that he listed “Biblical Prophecy” as a hobby on his resume? How many knew that he had lost tens of millions of dollars because he fell for a scam that promised a 75% return on investment each week? There were a lot of Colorado candidates who came out on the losing end on Election Day, but few, if any, lost more than Joe Coors, Jr.

5. Joe Miklosi

Democrats celebrated in the wake of the congressional redistricting process last year, after major changes to congressional maps created at least one major new opportunity for Democrats, while leaving other districts as prime competitive seats up for grabs by good candidates in either party. The new lines for CD-6 were so competitive on paper that both politicos and the press named it as one of the most likely districts to change hands in the country.

But then the actual campaigning began.

State Rep. Joe Miklosi did a good job of coalescing Democrats early and preventing a serious primary challenge, but it quickly became clear that Miklosi was not prepared for a Congressional campaign. His first fundraising numbers were anemic, which is usually a flashing-red light warning; if you can’t put up good numbers with all of the low-hanging fruit in your rolodex, that’s a pretty good indicator of things to come. Fellow Democrats Brandon Shaffer and Sal Pace faced registration numbers far less favorable than CD-6, yet both consistently raised serious money. At the same time, incumbent Republican Rep. Mike Coffman was pulling in big bucks every quarter and putting tremendous distance between himself and Miklosi.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee did its best to try to prop up Miklosi, and Coffman did everything he could to give his seat away. Coffman’s now-infamous “not an American” insult against Obama shook even many of his Republican supporters, and left them questioning whether he could hold on in a race to the center. As it turned out, he didn’t need to worry.

It was telling that Miklosi kept the same slogan (“Not Your Average Joe!”) for his CD-6 race that he had used successfully to win a Democratic primary in his State House seat four years earlier. Miklosi and his top staffers made odd errors and took a long time trying to find a message; in the first story about his campaign in the Denver Post, Miklosi named in-state tuition for illegal immigrants as a top priority, which is an odd thing to try to push in your first story as a likely candidate. By the end of this summer, he seemed to have settled on calling out Coffman for “Rush Limbaugh-style politics,” which really only makes sense to a partisan audience.

But Miklosi’s biggest error was perhaps the most inexcusable. Miklosi couldn’t win this race first and foremost because voters didn’t know who he was…and the campaign knew that. Nevertheless, Miklosi’s campaign spent 90% of its time attacking Coffman and did very little to increase his name ID, even though polling and common sense (this was essentially a new district, with voters unfamiliar with either candidate) dictated otherwise.

While fellow Democrats Shaffer and Pace were also unable to knock out a Republican incumbent, Miklosi’s loss was different. This was a race that a Democrat should have won in 2012.  

6. Mike Coffman

Sure, Coffman won re-election despite running in a district that did not favor his right-wing conservatism, but he lost plenty along the way. With so many Republican losses in recent years, Coffman was the most experienced and well-known GOP elected official in Colorado. But he may have gone as far as he can go politically because of this election cycle.

Coffman hasn’t been shy about wanting to run for U.S. Senate in 2014 against incumbent Democrat Mark Udall, but he may have lost that opportunity with so many self-inflicted wounds in the last 18 months. Whether it was jumping on as the Colorado Chair for the Presidential campaign of Texas Gov. Rick Perry (oops), or sad attempts to dodge a local TV reporter after his claim that President Obama is “not an American” (d’oh), Coffman showed Republican big-wigs and donors that he is too risky of a candidate to support for higher office anytime soon. Coffman was hoping he could ride to an easy re-election in 2012 and take that momentum into a clear GOP nomination as the challenger to Udall. Now? Coffman probably runs for re-election instead, and there’s a very real chance that he’ll lose.

7. Republican donors

A large investment by Republicans into the Colorado House and Senate GOP independent efforts produced perhaps the smallest return on investment since 2004, failing to hold the House as well as failing to increase their Senate delegation. This is important particularly as long-term GOP strategy in the Senate depended on picking up a few seats this year, and more in 2014. Today they’re well behind the pace.

As was the case in 2010, a significant amount of the problem can be traced to a failure by Republicans to properly vet their candidates. We were dumbfounded by the size of some of the skeletons that GOP candidates such as John Enstrom and Brian Watson had in their closets; particularly since in both cases it seemed like Republicans were caught off guard by the allegations. Sometimes things fall through the cracks and problems turn up unexpectedly, but in the case of Enstrom and Watson, a fresh-faced intern could have found these problems in a few hours.

It’s totally unacceptable to miss these kinds of problems early, but it’s even worse to lead with your chin. When McNulty was touting Watson as the GOP’s new “rising star,” he was setting them both up for catastrophic falls.

8. Gov. John Hickenlooper

Gov. John Hickenlooper, elected in 2010 as a Democrat, has proven quite frustrating to base Colorado Democrats–frequently siding with, or at least making big concessions to Republicans, just plain idiotic statements about drinking fracking fluid, and pushing the privatization of state-chartered Pinnacol Assurance over the objections of just about everybody.

It was much easier for Hickenlooper to straddle this fence with a divided legislature. Hickenlooper’s “post-partisanship” has a kind of shallow media appeal, but we don’t think it has been tested in a way that qualifies him for the higher office for which he is widely rumored to have an interest. Hickenlooper’s “bringing people together” approached worked as Denver Mayor (as it should, in a political structure giving the Mayor significant power), and he has tried to keep it up as Governor. But for the first time in his political career, Hick is a Democrat with a fully Democratic controlled General Assembly. He won’t have Republicans to blame for legislation he tries to kill or veto. Hick and his staff are going to have to really be on their toes dealing with legislation during the session, because he’ll have no excuse for vetoing a Democratic bill once it lands on his desk.

9. Eric Sondermann and Floyd Ciruli

Two fixtures in the political pundit circuit in Colorado, consultants Eric Sondermann and Floyd Ciruli, made major mistakes this year in predictions and commentary that hurt their credibility. Ciruli, a former chairman of the Colorado Democratic Party, made a fool of himself for claiming this year that “Democrats had $4 million to Republicans’ $30,000 in 2010, helping stop the Republican national tide in Colorado.”

Ciruli was referring to a widely-discredited story by Karen Crummy of the Denver paper, which claimed that Democrats “outraised Republicans 150-to-1″ in 2010. In truth, Crummy was only counting so-called independent expenditure committees, generally ignoring 527s, 501(c)4 groups, and so many others who most certainly spend money on elections…without disclosure. Crummy at least briefly noted that there was other kinds of money in play, but Ciruli didn’t even manage that. For someone who represents himself as an expert, claiming that Democrats had this kind of cash advantage in 2010 is nothing short of ludicrous.

Consultant Eric Sondermann likewise made predictions about this year’s elections that were not only wrong, but revealed a significant lack of understanding of the situation on the ground. Two years ago, Sondermann predicted there was no way Michael Bennet could win based on Bennet’s standing with men, only to watch as Bennet’s 17-point advantage with women propelled him to victory.

Last month, on the very same day that Obama regained a national advantage in polling, Sondermann predicted that Mitt Romney’s “momentum” would carry him to a win. In both of these predictions on the top of the ticket in both elections, Sondermann summoned up all his mad pundit skills–and picked the loser. Now Sondermann told Jason Salzman afterward that he was pressured to make a call when we believed it was a “tossup.” We’d say you should always make the call you believe is true. Even the most partisan of politicos was at least suspicious that Romney had real momentum.

In both cases, we think it’s time reporters broaden their pool of talking heads.

UNION MEMBERS, PROGRESSIVE GROUPS RALLY FOR JOBS, NOT CUTS DELIVER LETTERS TO SEN. BENNET URGINg NO

In preparation for the Lame-Duck Congress, working families urged Senators Bennet and Udall

and Congressmen Coffman, Perlmutter and Polis to fight for working families

Denver- On Thursday, November 8, over 100 members  of the Colorado AFL-CIO, SEIU and a coalition of 17 groups visited Senator Michael Bennet’s office to act on voters’ priorities in the coming congressional session. The United States Congress is heading back into session on November 13, 2012 for what they are calling the “Lame Duck Session” of Congress.

The groups urged Colorado Members of Congress to let the Bush-era tax cuts for those making $250,000 per year expire, and not to make cuts in Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and other vital programs that will impact working and middle class Coloradans.

SEIU member Gina Jones shared her personal story with the impassioned crowd. “I have a ten year old disabled daughter with the mental capacities of a 3 1/2 year old,” said Jones. If I didn’t

have Medicaid, I wouldn’t be able to afford the frequent appointments, the trips to Children’s Hospital, and various medications she needs. Colorado rejected the Romney/Ryan plan to cut Medicare, Medicaid and other programs, and voted instead for jobs. We urge Senator Bennet and all our Members of Congress to heed the will of the voters when they go back to Washington, D.C.”

Cindy Kirby, Secretary Treasurer of the Colorado AFL-CIO made the following remarks concerning federally funded programs: “We are proud of what was accomplished on Tuesday. We sent a loud message to protect working families and help those that need it most. Programs like Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security are vital. Now that the election is over it is time to make sure our voices are even louder.”

A short speaking program outside of Senator Bennet’s Denver office was followed by representatives delivering a letter signed by labor and progressive allies to his district staff.  The representatives engaged in a brief discussion with a receptive Senator Bennet’s staff regarding working family concerns.  A small delegation delivered a similar letter to Senator Mark Udall’s Denver office after the rally.

This event was part of a national effort with similar rallies across the country highlighting the need for congress to focus on jobs before cuts in the “lame duck” session

The Colorado AFL-CIO is comprised of 310,000 Colorado voters striving to keep Colorado working and the middle class strong.

Settled: Obama Has Better Colorado Surrogates



The Obama campaign RV at Colorado College Saturday.

Although Mitt Romney’s surrogate bus tours have gotten more press for their swings through Colorado, sometimes with a relatively big name along for the ride but also headlined by such “B-list” Colorado politicos as GOP ex-gubernatorial candidate Bob Beauprez and CD-2 also-ran Kevin Lundberg, last week another bus tour–make that a more modest-looking RV tour–started making its way around the state. But as KREX-TV in Grand Junction reported Friday, it’s all about the people inside:

Dozens of supporters greeted several major players in Colorado’s Democratic Party, including Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar, Sen. Mark Udall, Sen. Michael Bennet, Lt. Gov. Joseph Garcia and Sen. Gail Schwartz…

“Here on the Western Slope, the president has understood our fight for land, water and people, and there’s been so much good that has been done here in Colorado. He understands the importance of making sure there’s jobs for everybody here in America, and he basically saved the United States of America from a second great depression,” said Salazar. “We’re coming back; we’re doing a lot better then we were two or three years ago, and that’s because the president’s policies are taking place.”



Sen. Mark Udall speaks to students at Colorado College Saturday.

On Saturday, the Obama RV tour was headlined by Sen. Mark Udall, with stops in Pueblo and Colorado College in Colorado Springs (see photos above), then on to the Denver area where former Gov. Roy Romer reportedly spoke. Today, fully eight stops are scheduled throughout the Denver metro area, featuring Gov. John Hickenlooper, Denver Mayor Michael Hancock, Rep. Diana DeGette, and former Mayor Wellington Webb among many others.

Both sitting U.S. Senators, the state’s governor, the mayor of the largest city and state capital, members of Congress, various attending state representatives and other candidates–if this sounds more like a political “A-list” than a tour headlined by “Both Ways Bob,” whose last political relevance was getting drilled in 2006 by Bill Ritter, that’s because it is.

We’ll eat our words, naturally, if JoDee Messina ever outsells The Black Eyed Peas.

Hickenlooper sticks his neck out on a liberal Democratic issue:Planned Parenthood

( – promoted by Colorado Pols)



Hickenlooper dings Romney at Planned Parenthood rally

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, never one to identify himself too closely with controversial or partisan causes, gave a short speech defending a woman’s right to choose Tuesday afternoon at a rally organized by Planned Parenthood ahead of Wednesday night’s first presidential debate here.

A late addition to the slate of speakers at the group’s “Ask Mitt” rally on the Auraria Campus, Hickenlooper criticized Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, who stated earlier this year that he wanted to “get rid of” Planned Parenthood.

“I imagine when Mitt Romney comes back and looks at some of the positions he’s taken in this campaign, he’s going to have a hard time rationalizing that with pretty much everything he’s spoken and stood for for the rest of his life,” Hickenlooper said…

Hickenlooper…began his speech describing his mom, an ardent supporter of women’s rights.

“My mother raised four kids by herself and she was very focused on her household, but also focused on what kind of a world was out there for us,” Hickenlooper said.

“There wasn’t a lot of money left at the end of the week, but at the end of the year, she’d get all of us together and make three contributions. One was to the college she’d gone to. One was to the local relief organization that helped homeless folks.

“And the third one – every year, she gave to Planned Parenthood.”

For someone who does try to follow the center line and not stick his neck out, this is big in two ways: Hickenlooper expending political capital in a controversial area, and doing so in a potent partisan manner.

The “Ask Mitt” rally was part of the Planned Parenthood Action Fund and Planned Parenthood Votes plan to paint Denver pink in the days leading up to the first presidential debate, one of many protests and political actions planned for Denver.  Hickenlooper was preceded by CO CD-1 Representative and chair of the House Pro-Choice caucus Diana DeGette, a fiery Senator Micheal Bennet, and some local citizens who spoke about the privacy of the doctor-patient relationship and contraception used for medical purposes, and was followed by PPAF President Cecile Richards.  The college students in the hall were fired up as were the three or four anti-choice protestors trying to raise a ruckus outside.  

Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet went even further, saying the choice is between Obama, who supports a woman’s right to make her own health care decisions: “And the other ticket that is to the far right of their party, they do not represent the views of Colorado’s Republicans.”

The Obama Campaign has been borrowing a page from Bennet’s 2010 playbook, when he squeaked out a win by painting his Republican opponent, Weld County District Attorney Ken Buck, as an extremist on social issues. The campaign seems to be hinging a large part of its Colorado strategy on this, especially in TV ads that have been blitzing the airwaves here since Paul Ryan joined the Romney ticket.

This seems like it could be a safe strategy for Hickenlooper as Planned Parenthood has huge favorability locally and nationwide, Personhood has been shot down twice at the ballot box and aborted before the ballot this year, and the  ”Bennet Playbook” has proven successful already.

But for someone who is rumored to harbor ambitions to higher office, is the Governor stepping into shark-filled waters?

Hickenlooper sticks his neck out on a liberal Democratic issue:Planned Parenthood

( – promoted by ClubTwitty)



Hickenlooper dings Romney at Planned Parenthood rally

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, never one to identify himself too closely with controversial or partisan causes, gave a short speech defending a woman’s right to choose Tuesday afternoon at a rally organized by Planned Parenthood ahead of Wednesday night’s first presidential debate here.

A late addition to the slate of speakers at the group’s “Ask Mitt” rally on the Auraria Campus, Hickenlooper criticized Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, who stated earlier this year that he wanted to “get rid of” Planned Parenthood.

“I imagine when Mitt Romney comes back and looks at some of the positions he’s taken in this campaign, he’s going to have a hard time rationalizing that with pretty much everything he’s spoken and stood for for the rest of his life,” Hickenlooper said…

Hickenlooper…began his speech describing his mom, an ardent supporter of women’s rights.

“My mother raised four kids by herself and she was very focused on her household, but also focused on what kind of a world was out there for us,” Hickenlooper said.

“There wasn’t a lot of money left at the end of the week, but at the end of the year, she’d get all of us together and make three contributions. One was to the college she’d gone to. One was to the local relief organization that helped homeless folks.

“And the third one – every year, she gave to Planned Parenthood.”

For someone who does try to follow the center line and not stick his neck out, this is big in two ways: Hickenlooper expending political capital in a controversial area, and doing so in a potent partisan manner.

The “Ask Mitt” rally was part of the Planned Parenthood Action Fund and Planned Parenthood Votes plan to paint Denver pink in the days leading up to the first presidential debate, one of many protests and political actions planned for Denver.  Hickenlooper was preceded by CO CD-1 Representative and chair of the House Pro-Choice caucus Diana DeGette, a fiery Senator Micheal Bennet, and some local citizens who spoke about the privacy of the doctor-patient relationship and contraception used for medical purposes, and was followed by PPAF President Cecile Richards.  The college students in the hall were fired up as were the three or four anti-choice protestors trying to raise a ruckus outside.  

Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet went even further, saying the choice is between Obama, who supports a woman’s right to make her own health care decisions: “And the other ticket that is to the far right of their party, they do not represent the views of Colorado’s Republicans.”

The Obama Campaign has been borrowing a page from Bennet’s 2010 playbook, when he squeaked out a win by painting his Republican opponent, Weld County District Attorney Ken Buck, as an extremist on social issues. The campaign seems to be hinging a large part of its Colorado strategy on this, especially in TV ads that have been blitzing the airwaves here since Paul Ryan joined the Romney ticket.

This seems like it could be a safe strategy for Hickenlooper as Planned Parenthood has huge favorability locally and nationwide, Personhood has been shot down twice at the ballot box and aborted before the ballot this year, and the  ”Bennet Playbook” has proven successful already.

But for someone who is rumored to harbor ambitions to higher office, is the Governor stepping into shark-filled waters?

Where are Udall and Bennet?

Twenty-nine senators signed a letter to President Obama recently urging him to leave Social Security and Medicare “off the table” when dicussing  budget cuts and deficit reduction with Republicans.  Their concern is that Obama will try to strike some kind of “bipartisan grand bargain” in an effort to avoid going off the fiscal cliff.  This sounds troublingly familiar and I hope the President does not go there.  But so far two important  names have not been affixed to that letter:  Colorado Senators Michael Bennet and Mark Udall.  So, I’m asking the two of you here to sign on now.  If you can’t do that, then please have the good sense to know that voting in favor of any kind of “hard-fought compromise” will be met with a huge backlash that will not be pretty for your political futures.  Just saying……

Celebrating Chimney Rock National Monument, No Thanks To Scott Tipton

The Durango Herald’s Joe Hanel reports at long last:

President Barack Obama will declare Chimney Rock Archaeological Area a national monument Friday, ending an effort that was three years – and a millennium – in the making…

[Sen. Michael] Bennet, Rep. Scott Tipton, R-Cortez, and Sen. Mark Udall, D-Colo., wrote a letter to Obama this summer, urging him to consider declaring the monument after their bills stalled amid partisan squabbling in Congress.

Tipton sponsored and passed a bill in the House to establish the monument. It differs from Bennet’s by forbidding extra money to be spent on the monument.

Tipton’s spokesman, Josh Green, said the congressman would have preferred that Congress acted.

…Tipton’s main opponent, Democrat Sal Pace, said the Republican has been a stumbling block for Chimney Rock because he backed a bill that would have taken away the president’s sole authority to declare national monuments.

“If it was left in Congressman Tipton’s hands, this designation would never occur,” Pace said in an email. [Pols emphasis]

Let’s be clear about a few things. Rep. Scott Tipton’s decision to sign on with Sens. Mark Udall and Michael Bennet in support of an executive declaration for Chimney Rock was important, and helped clear allegations of partisanship from President Barack Obama’s path to issuing it. Had the area’s representative in Congress not been on board with this declaration, it would have looked much worse politically, a la Bill Clinton and Utah’s Escalante National Monument in 1996. Tipton’s support has effectively defanged this as an electoral issue against Obama.

However, Tipton’s concurrent decision to sponsor legislation stripping the President of the very power he is using to declare Chimney Rock a national monument is pure double-dealing political imbecility. Tipton’s not fooling ideological opponents of monument declaration by sponsoring that bill after signing a letter asking Obama for an executive order, and to boosters of Chimney Rock, this legislation insultingly undermines his claims to support them.

In short, this could have been a great opportunity for Tipton to show some real bipartisanship only a few weeks out from the election, but he has at least partly squandered it.

Obama Wheels-Down In Denver Once Again

FRIDAY UPDATE: Golden Mayor Marjorie Sloan sets the record straight:

I’m the person responsible for the Ulysses S. Grant statement  and I’m really sorry for my miscommunication. President Obama is indeed the first sitting president to visit GOLDEN since Ulysses S. Grant and I told him so while greeting him. I should have been less ambiguous in my antecedents (“here” could mean either Jefferson County or Golden) or more willing to speak up in the middle of a presidential speech.  

Marjorie Sloan

Mayor of Golden

—–

UPDATE #3: The Colorado GOP appears to correctly take issue with President Barack Obama’s claim, as reported by CBS below, to be the “first sitting president to visit Jefferson County since Ulysses S. Grant.” They point to a 2004 New York Times article about President George W. Bush’s rally at Red Rocks Amphitheater in Morrison–very much located in Jefferson County.

We’re thinking this may not be the only such visit either: we have to think other Presidents have found the backdrops afforded by Jefferson County to be irresistible, like Dwight Eisenhower, whose wife Mamie was raised in Colorado and who spent a great deal of time in our state. But regardless, this was clearly an error by Obama, fairly (and easily) called out by Republicans.

Having said that, AP’s Kristen Wyatt notes helpfully:

You’d hate to be the staffer who “discovered” this little factoid.

—–

UPDATE #2: CBS News:

After a week largely focused on the turmoil in the Middle East and his administration’s foreign policy, President Obama on Thursday revived his economic campaign pitch in one of the most critical counties in one of this year’s key swing states.

“We don’t believe in a top-down, trickle-down economy that says to everybody you’re on your own,” Mr. Obama said to a crowd of supporters in Golden, Colorado, against the backdrop of the Rocky Mountains. “We believe the economy grows from the middle class out, from the bottom up.”

…Mr. Obama noted Thursday that he is the first sitting president to visit Jefferson County since Ulysses S. Grant. “Back then you couldn’t even vote — you guys were still a territory,” the president joked with the crowd.

—–

UPDATE: 9NEWS reports from Golden at noon:



—–

The Washington Post has a good story today on the battle between President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney for suburban Denver voters–just as Obama arrives in Golden.

For Obama, who won Colorado four years ago by nearly nine percentage points, the focus has been heavily on Latinos and women. One of the quirks of the new unaffiliated voters who have moved into suburbs across the country – including in other battlegrounds such as Virginia and North Carolina – is that the men who describe themselves this way tend to vote Republican, according to polls, while the women are more likely to swing between the parties.

Just as non-ideological as their male counterparts, unaffiliated women voters are also particularly moved by issues that affect them, such as contraception and abortion. The proof came two years ago, when Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) eked out a narrow victory over Republican Ken Buck largely by targeting women in the suburbs and portraying Buck as ideologically extreme.

“We created the largest gender gap in the country,” said Guy Cecil, who was Bennet’s campaign manager and now runs the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. “The suburbs of Virginia, the suburbs of Indianapolis, the suburbs of Denver – you have people who are turned off by the sort of extreme points of view that now represent most of the Republican Party.”

Obama is following a similar playbook…

The story identifies Jefferson and Arapahoe counties as “a central focus for both campaigns.” Given the frequency of return visits by both the Obama and Romney campaigns–belatedly for Romney, who inexplicably spent several months making stops in the unpopulated hinterlands of the state–it’s a story our metro area readers already know well, with traffic jam anecdotes.

We’ll update through the day with further coverage of Obama’s visit to Golden.