Get More Smarter on Monday (June 20)

MoreSmarterLogo-SunscreenTry not to get too crazy celebrating the summer solstice. It’s time to Get More Smarter with Colorado Pols! If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of a visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show.

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► Counting today, the Primary Election is just eight days away. If you haven’t yet received a mail ballot, you should check your registration or address status ASAP. Go to JustVoteColorado.org for more information.

The Colorado Secretary of State’s office has released updated Primary turnout numbers; both Democrats and Republicans are voting/returning ballots at a similar rate of about 12%.

 

► Former Republican Presidential candidate Ted Cruz is back on the campaign trail, making national news for a stop in Denver today to endorse Darryl Glenn in Colorado’s five-candidate race in the Republican Primary for U.S. Senate. As CNN reports, Cruz took a noncommittal tone toward GOP Presidential nominee Donald Trump:

Ted Cruz returned to the campaign trail for the first time since suspending his presidential campaign to stump for senate hopeful Darryl Glenn in Denver — but at least one fan of the Texas senator isn’t ready to let his 2016 bid go.

As the former candidate acknowledged the “unusual” presidential race, the audience laughed, as a man shouted, “Run, Ted.”

“We may all need to run,” Cruz joked, who kicked off his remarks in his trademark way, saying, “God bless the great state of Colorado.”

Without mentioning presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, the Texas senator stressed the importance of checks and balances, “regardless of what happens in November.”

Cruz and Glenn were together at a press event this morning in front of about 100 supporters at the Westin Hotel near Denver International Airport. ProgressNow Colorado points out some of the similarities between Cruz and Glenn.

 

► The Supreme Court has ruled that statewide assault weapons bans are permissible. As the Associated Press reports:

The justices on Monday left in place a lower court ruling that upheld laws that were passed in response to another mass shooting involving a semi-automatic weapon, the elementary school attack in Newtown, Connecticut.

The Supreme Court has repeatedly turned away challenges to gun restrictions since two landmark decisions that spelled out the right to a handgun to defend one’s own home…

…Seven states and the District of Columbia have enacted laws banning assault weapons. The others are California, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts and New Jersey, according to the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence. In addition, Minnesota and Virginia regulate assault weapons, the center said.

Still, nobody is coming to take your guns, no matter what the NRA says.

 

Get even more smarter after the jump… (more…)

Primary Turnout Update: 12% of Ballots Returned

votebuttonThe Colorado Secretary of State’s office has updated its voter turnout (er, uh, ballot turn-in) numbers for the June 28th Primary. Here’s the latest as of Monday morning:

Democrats

Ballots sent: 986,252;
Ballots returned: 119,614;
Percent: 12.12%

Republicans

Ballots sent: 994,450;
Ballots returned: 121,183;
Percent: 12.18%

Note that the SOS has made a slight change to how it is reporting turnout numbers compared to last week’s announcement:

The county-by-county chart included in this release reflects a change in how the Colorado Secretary of State reports ballot returns. Last week’s release showed only ballots that already had gone through signature verification; today’s report and all subsequent ones will reflect the number of ballots received by the county, even if they are waiting to be reviewed by election judges.

For more information on turnout based on a county-by-county basis, click here (PDF).

Dems challenge state house primary candidate’s claim to be pro-choice

In a Denver Post candidate survey, Pueblo-area Democratic state house candidate Alonzo Payne alleges that his primary opponent, Donald Valdez, “is anti-choice and is willing to force his own personal convictions on women, forcing them to have barriers to their own health care.”

You read that correctly. That’s a pro-choice Democrat attacking another Democrat for being anti-choice. A rarity in Colorado, where Democrats like to use the easy-to-understand abortion issue to distinguish themselves from the GOP–not from each other.

A look at Valdez’s Facebook page and further investigation turned up nothing on Valdez’s position on choice. So I called Valdez to find out if he’s anti-choice and why.

In an interview, Valdez insisted, “I’m pro-choice.” In fact, Valdez said he’d heard that Payne said in a “meeting” that Payne “is going to de-fund Planned Parenthood.”
Asked for the name of someone who heard Payne say this, Valdez said, “I can’t tell you their names at this time.”

In an interview, Payne told me he is pro-choice and that fellow Democrats heard Valdez state his anti-choice stance at the Rio Grande County assembly. Multiple sources I interviewed confirmed the comment by Valdez.

Alex Raines, a Payne supporter, was delegate to the Rio Grande County Assembly, where he heard Valdez say, during a question-and-answer session, that he would not support pro-choice legislation.

Raines, an attorney, was representing Payne at the country assembly, and told the group that, unlike Valdez, Payne was pro-choice.

“[Valdez’s] statement was that he supports a women’s right to choose for life,” Raines told me. After a number of questions from delegates who were confused about what “right to choose life” meant, Valdez said he “would not support legislation that allows a woman to terminate her pregnancy,” according to Raines.

Valdez denied saying this, adding that “we need a broader conversation” about what pro-choice is.

Another delegate at the Rio Grande assembly, Joe Schlabach, also said he witnessed the question-and-answer exchange with Valdez, and Schlabach concluded that Valdez “is pro-life” and “would support anti-choice legislation.”

As the secretary-treasurer of the Rio Grande Democratic Party, Schlabach said he is not endorsing a candidate in the race.

Michael Bennet for VP?

The New York Times has added Bennet’s name to the list of potential VP choices for Hillary.  Thoughts?

Ted Cruz Backs Darryl Glenn in GOP Senate Race

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz (left) is backing Darryl Glenn for Senate in Colorado.

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz (left) is backing Darryl Glenn for Senate in Colorado.

UPDATE: ProgressNow Colorado weighs in on the Cruz endorsement:

“Even after losing the Republican presidential nomination to Donald Trump, Ted Cruz still has significant influence in Colorado Republican politics,” said ProgressNow Colorado executive director Ian Silverii. “Darryl Glenn’s far-right agenda is exactly what Ted Cruz and out-of-state conservative ideologues want.”

—–

Big news for Republican Senate candidate Darryl Glenn, as the National Review reports:

Ted Cruz is set to wade back into politics after a brief respite with an endorsement for Colorado GOP Senate candidate Darryl Glenn…

…Cruz praises Glenn as “a constitutional conservative with the experience to understand what it takes to bring back economic growth and preserve our individual liberties.”

Endorsements from prominent national political figures aren’t always as meaningful as they might appear, especially when they come with less than two weeks to go until Election Day, but Ted Cruz backing Glenn in Colorado’s five-way Senate Primary will almost certainly move the needle for the El Paso County Commissioner. Cruz’s endorsement of Glenn is a national story, since Glenn marks the Texas Senator’s first real foray back into partisan politics since he dropped out of the race for President last month. Glenn is the first candidate to receive an endorsement from Cruz since the latter was still battling Donald Trump.

“Darryl earned the support of 70 percent of the delegates present at the Colorado GOP convention and is a committed public servant and small business owner who bravely served our nation as a U.S. Air Force officer,” Cruz said in a Friday morning statement. “He is a constitutional conservative with the experience to understand what it takes to bring back economic growth and preserve our individual liberties.”

As of Thursday morning, the Colorado Secretary of State’s office was reporting that only about 7.5% of Republican voters had returned their mail ballots; the vast majority of Republican Primary voters are still pondering their choices, which gives Cruz a big opportunity to flex his political muscles in Colorado. Cruz dominated the Colorado Republican Convention in April, sweeping the available delegates on the same day that Glenn picked up a surprise 70% of GOP votes to earn top-line status on the Primary ballot.

Cruz is reportedly planning to campaign with Glenn on Monday; this would give Glenn a huge earned media boost late in the race — something Glenn certainly needs given his general inability to raise serious money for his own paid media efforts. Such a late endorsement from a politician of Cruz’s stature also indicates a belief that Glenn has a strong chance of winning the Republican Senate nomination; Cruz is nothing if not politically-practical, and it’s hard to believe that he’d stick his neck out like this without feeling confident in Glenn’s chances.

Chris Meagher, a spokesperson for the Colorado Democratic Party, was quick to jump on the endorsement news:

“Colorado doesn’t need a far right, never-compromise conservative in the Senate, and it’s clear from Ted Cruz’s endorsement of Darryl Glenn – that’s exactly who Glenn would be.”

And that’s exactly what Glenn is hoping Republican voters will conclude as they fill out their ballots.

Bernie Sanders to Supporters: Run for Office, Keep Progressive Agenda Alive

On June 16, 2016, Democratic Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders  spoke to  his supporters for 25 minutes. Since I have been and am a supporter, I signed up, and took notes on the speech, the important points of which are summarized below. A video link is also included at the bottom of the page.

Screenshot of Bernie Sanders

Bernie Sanders speech to supporters, screenshot 6/16/16

Most of Bernie’s speech was a list of what progressive Democrats want and fought for, what we want our country to be and to do. As such, there are few surprises in the list.These are not “demands”, as we used to say in the 70s. These are the prerequisites for social and economic justice.

I didn’t expect, but was delighted by, Bernie’s call for his supporters to run for local political office: school boards, county commissioners, entry-level offices, however we can get our feet in the door. I applaud this and agree strongly. That is what it will take for real change. From the bottom up -that’s how change happens. As expected, Sanders called for the party to unify to defeat Donald Trump. He has pledged to support this effort, and will do so.

UPDATE: 6700 people responded to Bernie’s call for public service. Per Berniesanders.com, “The 6,685 supporters who expressed interest in running cover 51 percent of state house districts, 69 percent of state senate districts and every congressional district in the country.”

He called for his 1900 delegates to come in to the convention to create the most progressive platform in Democratic history, and to act on it. He called for a 50 state strategy – decrying the lack of support for Democratic candidates,  allowing right wingers to take red state governments unopposed.

He called for the Democratic National Committee to open its doors, welcome young people and working people. He called for the DNC to embrace a $15 / hour wage. He called for a party which has “the guts” to take on the pharmaceutical and fossil fuel industries. He called for stopping the  Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) –  it should not come to a vote during a lame duck session of Congress, he said. These are positions which sharply differentiate his policies from those of Hillary Clinton.

What Bernie did not say was more surprising:

  • He did not “concede” defeat in the primary election, although that was implied.
  • He did not endorse Hillary Clinton’s candidacy, although he emphasized that they have much more in common than not.
  • He included very little on foreign policy – only in points 29 and 30 below did he allude to the Department of Defense and wars abroad, and only to emphasize cutting waste in the DoD, and not to spend young people’s lives in unnecessary wars. This was primarily a domestic policy speech.
  • He didn’t talk about the drug war or marijuana legalization, although he criticized the prison industry and school-to-prison pipeline in point 27.
  • He did not call for an end to superdelegates, lobbyist contributions to the DNC. He did not say what his negotiations with rules committee would be. He did not mention today’s big news that unpopular chairwomanDebbie Wasserman Schultz is stepping aside as party chair to allow Brandon Davis to take over operations.
  • He did not mention the numerous allegations of fraud and voter suppression in the Democratic primary.

 

Here’s what the man did say:
1.    The revolution continues – like every movement for social change, civil rights, etc.
2.    In every state, we won the overwhelming majority of those under 45.
3.    We are mainstream, not a fringe movement.  Numbers. 12 million votes, 22 states, Stats on contributions, 75 million phone calls, 5 million doors, 740,000 meetings, etc. Showed that we could run a national campaign without big money contributions. Bulk of contributions came from low income and working people.
4.    In every state, we took on the entire political establishment. Senators, Reps, Governors, elected officials.
5.   6:35  This campaign has never been about any single candidate .
6.    It’s about ending income inequality. It’s about ending corrupt campaign finance by corporations. Creating an economy for all of us, not just the 1%.
7.    Ending status quo: Native American reservation low life expectancy, lower than 3rd world countries. Millions of Americans dying at a younger age than their parents: suicide, drugs, alcohol, highest rate of childhood poverty of any industrialized country on earth. Ending the disgrace, undocumented people exploited on their jobs.
8.    Tens of thousands of Americans dying every year from preventable diseases, because lack health insurance, high deductibles, costly drugs.
9.    Young single mom in Nevada in tears, asking on $10/hr, How can we make it ? Millions like her.
10.    Mom in Flint, Mich. Excessive lead in water, stunted intellectual development of her child. Thousands of CA homes can’t drink tap water.
11.    Homelessness is increasing.  veterans in streets – lack of affordable housing.
12.    Corporations avoid paying a nickel in Federal taxes, stash in tax havens.
13.    6:40 Priority this year is defeating Donald Trump. Makes bigotry the cornerstone of his campaign.  Trump wants to give hundreds of B of $ in tax breaks to very rich, is a climate change denier.
14.    Major political task: Defeat Trump, badly. My role in that process will begin soon. But can’t be our only goal. Must continue grassroots  movement.
15.    Must take our energy in to the Dem convention in Philly with >1900 delegates. I met with Sec. Clinton.
16.    No secret HRC and I have strong disagreements, on important issues but agree on others.
17.    I will make sure that your voices are heard. Democrats will pass the most progressive platform in its history and that we actually fight for that agenda.
18.    I look forward to working with Sec. Clinton to form aparty that has the guts to take on the Pharma, Fossil Fuel industries, others.
19.    Dem party must support raising Fed. minimum wage to $15 / hr.  women .79 / vs men $1. Women must have right to control own bodies. Protect right to gay marriage.
20.    As Orlando has made clear, Ban sale and distribution of assault weapons, gun show loophole, and have instant background checks.
21.    Stop the TPP, must not come to the floor in a lame duck session.
22.    Expand Social security, not cut it.
23.    Greed, recklessness of Wall st must end. Pass a modern Glass Steagal. No more “too big to fail”.
24.    Aggressively combat climate change, impose a tax on carbon. Must protect our water supply by banning fracking.
25.    To compete effectively globally, Make public colleges tuition free reduce student debt.
26.    Join rest of industrialized world – Health care a right, not a privilege
27.    Stop incarcerating more people than any other country – Rein in prison industry, criminal justice reform.
28.    Comprehensive immigration reform for 11 M undocumented people.
29.    Cut waste in every department including Department of Defense.
30.    Can’t keep throwing young people into perpetual unnecessary wars.
31.    6:47 Revolution means more than Fight for our ideals, defeat D Trump. At every level continue to fight for our nation to be just. Current DNC leadership has turned its back on dozens of states, like red states, allowed right wing to run unopposed, we need a 50 state strategy. Must provide resources to ignored and poor states.
32.    Leadership, DNC must open its doors, welcome working people and young people. That is the energy we need to transform the Democratic party and our country. Cold hard fact. Since 2009, some 900 legislative seats have been lost to Republicans.  We must Start engaging at local and state level in unprecedented way.
33.    Young people deeply concerned about country and community. Start running for office! School boards, commissioners, whatever! Be prepared to engage at that level.
34.    6:50 With energy and enthusiasm our campaign has shown, we can win significant numbers of offices at down ticket level. We need new blood. You are that new blood.
35.    Government is not the enemy.(what Republicans say). I disagree. Government must protect us and our planet. But we need to attract dedicated people from all walks of life to run for office.
36.    Tens of thousands of new Dr.s, medical personnel, where people lack care.
37.    We need child care workers, teachers.
38.    We need scientists, engineers, entrepeneurs to work for renewables, efficient and cost effective as possible. Construction.
39.    Business people who respect employees and environment.
40.    Conclude: we have begun the long and arduous process of transforming America. My hope is that when historians look back and find when we began reversing the trend towards oligarchy. They see that the political revolution began in 2016. 6:53. Dark screen.

Version 1 of this diary posted at caucus99percent.com

Video available here and here

Full transcript of Sanders’ speech from Burlington Free Press

To recruit candidates, go to berniesanders.com/win

Journalists should note lawyer’s $50,000 dark-money donation to group backing Carrigan

If you like summer election mysteries, you’ll enjoy pondering why personal injury attorney Frank Azar gave $50,000 to a committee backing Denver District Attorney candidate Michael Carrigan. And why would Azar run the money through a Texas entity?

The Colorado Independent’s Marrianne Goodland first reported the donation last month, but Azar, whose ads are a well-known blight on TV, wouldn’t tell Goodland why he made the donation. No comment.

This week, Azar’s money was behind an ugly mailer attacking Carrigan’s Democratic primary opponent, former State Rep. Beth McCann.

See the Carrigan mailer attacking Beth McCann here.

In response to the mailer, McCann wrote in an email to supporters, “This mailer is the perfect example of why we need to get dark money and Super PACs out of our democratic elections. The public has no way of knowing why Mr. Azar contributed $50,000 to elect my opponent.”

Beth McCann for Denver District Attorney campaign manager Daniel Aschkinasi added in a statement, “We have all become too familiar with this circus of dark money trying to influence important political races.  This group has one purpose, and that is to smear the record of a dedicated public servant. At a time when our nation looks to solve gun violence issues, we have an opportunity to elect the woman who stood up to the NRA and passed universal background checks three years ago.”

Goodland reported May 19:

Donors [to Fair Public Advocate, an independent expenditure committee] include Denver personal injury attorney Michael Sawaya, with $5,000. Another $1,000 came from attorney Norm Brownstein of Brownstein, Hyatt, Farber & Schreck, one of Denver’s best-known and most politically-connected law firms.

The biggest donation, $50,000, came in February from a Texas holding company, FDJR Holdings, Inc. of Houston.

According to the Texas Secretary of State, FDJR Holdings is one of a group of holding companies owned by Azar and/or his wife, Jeanette Renfro Azar.

Carrigan gave Goodland no explanation for the Azar donation, except to say that individuals and groups who “agree with my platform” are free to donate, but he will not be “beholden” to them. And he attacked McCann’s donations, even though she has no comparable donation to a committee backing her.

Good journalism frequently starts with a good question. In this case it is this: Why is big bad personal injury attorney Azar spending 50K to back Carrigan? What is he hoping to get out of Denver’s next district attorney?

Get More Smarter on Thursday (June 16)

MoreSmarterLogo-SunscreenYou can do better than 7%, Colorado. It’s time to Get More Smarter with Colorado Pols! If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of a visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show.

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► The Primary Election in Colorado is June 28th, so it’s time to start returning those mail ballots. According to the Colorado Secretary of State’s office, only about 7% of mail ballots have been returned thus far (as of 9am this morning).

If you haven’t yet received a mail ballot, you should check your registration or address status ASAP. Go to JustVoteColorado.org for more information.

 

The Get More Smarter Show is back with a new episode today. There’s no interview this week, but check out a couple of our fun new segments.

 

► Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Denver) joined other Senate Democrats in a filibuster on Wednesday designed to force votes on a couple of new gun safety proposals. As the Associated Press reports:

More than 30 U.S. Senators — including Michael Bennet of Colorado — tied up the floor of the Senate most of the day Wednesday as they demanded changes to U.S. gun laws in the aftermath of Sunday’s deadly Orlando shooting.

The filibuster was led by Connecticut Sen. Chris Murphy, who said he would remain on the Senate floor “until we get some signal, some sign that we can come together,” as he also evoked the Newtown school shooting in his state in 2012. His plea came as presumptive Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump said he would meet with the National Rifle Association about the terror watch list and gun purchases…

…It’s been nearly a decade since Congress made any significant changes to federal gun laws. In April 2007, Congress passed a law to strengthen the instant background check system after a gunman at Virginia Tech was able to purchase his weapons because his mental health history was not in the instant background check database. Thirty-two people died in the shooting.

The filibuster came to an end this morning, as Politico reports:

Despite the flurry of activity, though, the two sides appeared no closer to an agreement on gun legislation that can pass the Senate.

Still, the chamber is likely to vote on two Democratic-backed gun measures: a proposal from Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) meant to bar those on federal terror watch lists from obtaining firearms, and a plan from Murphy and Sens. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) mandating background checks for sales at gun shows and over the internet. Republicans are expected to put forward two of their own proposals for votes.

“We’ve gotten to a place where we’re going to get votes on these important amendments,” Murphy, who had led the rhetorical charge on the Senate floor, said shortly before 1:30 a.m. Thursday. “What would’ve been unacceptable is to spend this entire week on legislative business that was irrelevant to the epidemic of gun violence that has been made more real than ever.”

Let’s simplify this a bit, shall we: Democrats had to stage a filibuster just to convince Senate Republicans to consider voting on new gun safety proposals.

 

► A new poll shows that 7 in 10 Americans have an unfavorable view of Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump. The ABC News/Washington Post Presidential poll dates back to 1984, and Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton remain the two most unpopular likely nominees in the poll’s history.

 

Get even more smarter after the jump… (more…)

Will Post readers benefit or be fooled by Colorado Statesman’s “advertising” insert in Post?

(Works for Jake Jabs – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Jared Wright.

Jared Wright.

Colorado Statesman Publisher/Editor-in-Chief Jared Wright announced last week that a special edition of the Statesman will be inserted in The Denver Post on Thursdays.

Wright wrote in the Statesman June 9 that his newspaper is “launching a new sister publication, The Colorado Statesman ‘Worldwide Edition,’ which, thanks to our friends at The Denver Post, will be inserted in the Post every Thursday. In doing so, we are introducing thousands of Denver Post subscribers to what I believe is one of Colorado’s best kept secrets.”

This is not a journalistic partnership among friends, but a “business deal,” according to Post Editor Lee Ann Colacioppo, who told me in an email that she doesn’t know the details.

“ADVERTISING SUPPLEMENT” is printed on the bottom of the front page of today’s Statesman insert in The Post. There’s no other indication, throughout the 16-page insert, that the Statesman is an advertisement. As such, it’s kind of like the Sunday Parade Magazine insert, which is an ad, and in the same ballpark as outrageous news inserts, like fake news provided by the oil and gas industry, that aren’t labeled clearly enough as ads. Thankfully, the articles in these advertisements don’t appear in searches for news articles on The Post’s website or archive.

I’d like The Post to label the Statesman more clearly as an ad, but, in any case, it’s a creative way for the Statesman to reach an audience that’s literate and interested in politics, and may want to see more political news than The Post is offering these days in the wake of budget disasters. Journalism experiments are good, and you want to see the good journalism at the Statesman survive.

The downside: Readers could easily be confused that The Post is endorsing The Statesman’s content.

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Aurora School Board Member, House Candidate, Appears to be Spectacular Con Artist

UPDATE #3: Nelson for Colorado responds directly in the comments below….

—–

UPDATE #2: Rep. Rhonda Fields, who holds the HD-42 seat Eric Nelson is running for, calls for him to withdraw from the race and resign from the Aurora school board:

“Impersonating a military officer, violence against women, bigamy, dodging child support payments? This pattern of behavior is deeply disturbing to me, it’s unacceptable in a leader, it goes against everything Democrats stand for, and I believe the people of Aurora and the state of Colorado deserve better. Therefore, I call on Eric Nelson to immediately withdraw his candidacy for state representative and to resign his seat on the school board.”

—–

UPDATE: The “you know what” is hitting the proverbial fan in Aurora:

Meanwhile, Nelson’s Democratic Primary opponent in HD-42 — Dominique Jackson — is speaking out and taking the high road.

—–

While you were tucked all snug in your bed last evening, Ernest Luning of the Colorado Statesman was breaking a story that is so bizarre you’d be forgiven if you thought it was a fairy tale. Eric Nelson, a member of the Aurora School Board and a Democratic candidate for House District 42 (Aurora), is one hell of a con man:

This is Eric Nelson. As far as anyone else knows, anyway.

This is Eric Nelson. Or a man who calls himself Eric Nelson.

A member of the Aurora Public School Board and Democratic state House candidate who describes his occupation as “Life Visionary” appears to have taken his knack for self-invention to extreme heights, an investigation by The Colorado Statesman has revealed. [Pols emphasis]Eric Durane Nelson, 38, one of two Aurora Democrats in a primary for the House District 42 seat, was rebuked by the state Division of Insurance for lying about his criminal background — including domestic violence arrests spanning a decade — and was denied an application for another insurance license for “failure to demonstrate that you are competent, trustworthy and of good moral character.”

At another time, Nelson was married to two women at the same time, according to court documents.

Based on information uncovered by The Statesman, the organization that works to elect House Democrats on Monday said it is calling on Nelson to withdraw from the race and, in an unprecedented move, will endorse his primary opponent, Dominique Jackson. [Pols emphasis]

The HD 42 seat is currently represented by state Rep. Rhonda Fields, D-Aurora, who is term-limited and in a primary of her own against state Rep. Su Ryden, D-Aurora, for an open state Senate seat. Republican Mike Donald is running unopposed for the GOP nomination for the heavily Democratic House seat.

You really have to read the entire story yourself — it is an incredible tale of a career criminal and con man who talked his way into a position of being the top-line candidate on the June 28th Primary ballot. Just look at some of these examples:

Although the specifics of his claims have changed over the years, Nelson says he’s earned numerous advanced degrees — as many as seven have shown up on various resumés — including a master’s degree from a university that says he was never enrolled there.

Asked by The Statesman early Monday afternoon why the Northeastern University registrar’s office in Boston said the school had no record of him, Nelson promised to email copies of his diploma and academic records but six hours later hadn’t sent anything.

—–

In earlier versions of his resume, Nelson describes himself as an Air Force veteran and has also been fond of posting photographs of himself on social media in a captain’s uniform, despite having been an active duty member of the service for just eight weeks, according to Department of Defense documents.

The story is not without its victims, unfortunately. Luning writes that Nelson recently talked his way into a job leading a nonprofit called Angel Eyes, claiming to have a Master of Social Work degree. By the time other employees and volunteers realized the lie, he had nearly robbed them blind.

“We were thinking, this couldn’t be happening because he was so slick. But it just snowballed,” said a woman who works at Angel Eyes, a Cherry Creek-based organization that comes to the aid of parents who have lost an infant.

From a political perspective, House Democrats absolutely did the right thing by immediately calling on Nelson to drop out of the race, as well as endorsing a Primary opponent for the first time in the history of the House Majority Project. It is a pretty stark difference between Democrats and Republicans in Colorado in recent years, particularly when it comes to troublesome individual candidates or campaigns.

Republicans often spend days and weeks wringing their hands when bad eggs emerge and legislators make terrible comments without rebuke; they only seem to act when something is so egregious that virtually no member of the public at-large would disagree. The Nelson story is going to leave a lot of confused and angry Democrats — particularly those who endorsed his House candidacy — but this is a band-aid that needs to be pulled quickly.

Ken Buck Tweets False Choice: Security vs. Environment

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Representative Ken Buck (CD4) tweeted yesterday that  his amendment helps soldiers “focus on immediate national security needs, not climate change”.  However, the Department of Defense’s own analysis says that climate change is a major threat to stability worldwide, and should be included in all planning.

Ken Buck’s tweet on June 14, 2016:

Ken Buck's tweet

That’s Buck, standing with the military against evil Greenies.

And he’s using Bernie Sanders/ Elizabeth Warren language about “crony capitalism” just to confuse folks:

So what’s got Mr. Buck going all “Fight the Power” here? Rep. Buck doesn’t like the Department of Defense spending on renewable energy sources to power its facilities.

For example, Fort Drum, New York has a military base running 100%  on biomass.  The public might applaud this energy self-sufficiency – remember all that rhetoric about not being “addicted to oil”?  But Buck’s standing strong against it. Ken Buck’s amendment would have prevented using renewable energy on this project.

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“Both Ways Beth?” Denver DA Candidate Flips on Death Penalty

Beth McCann, left, appears to have changed her position on the death penalty to more closely resemble Michael Carrigan's stance on the issue.

Beth McCann, left, appears to have changed her position on the death penalty to more closely resemble Michael Carrigan’s stance on the issue.

The race for the Democratic nomination for Denver District Attorney is one of the more interesting battles to watch in Colorado this Primary season. Three candidates — Michael Carrigan, Beth McCann, and Kenneth Boyd — are running to replace outgoing, term-limited Denver D.A. Mitch Morrissey.

The winner of the June 28th Democratic Primary in Democrat-heavy Denver will almost certainly go on to wrap up the job in the General Election, which is particularly enticing because the Denver D.A. can serve three terms, for a total of 12 years, without ever really needing to worry about re-election efforts again. The Democratic Primary has been a heated affair thus far and has emerged as the single most expensive Primary race in the state (not counting federal races). University of Colorado Regent and attorney Michael Carrigan has long been considered the odds-on favorite in this race, which may help explain why State Rep. Beth McCann is flipping her position on a pretty major issue.

On Sunday the Denver Post ran a long comparison piece on the race that includes several answers to specific policy questions. Here’s how McCann and Carrigan responded to the following question:” The death penalty is seldom used in Denver. What is your position on the death penalty and when — if at all — would you find it appropriate to seek that punishment?”

Carrigan 

Carrigan will not seek the death penalty if elected.

“It’s inefficient, it’s expensive, it prolongs the process and is something that is not practiced in the industrialized world,” Carrigan said.

 

McCann

McCann will not seek the death penalty if elected.

“I would not bring it because I don’t believe in it,” McCann said. “I don’t think the state should be in the business of killing people.” [Pols emphasis]

 

The problem here is that McCann’s statement that she would refuse to seek the death penalty is not what she has been saying on the campaign trail for 18 months. Here’s what McCann said about the death penalty in a September story for Law Week – September 2015 (PDF file):

I am personally opposed to the death penalty, and I voted in the legislature to repeal it. But it is the law, and as the DA, you are bound by the law. [Pols emphasis] So I suppose there might be an awful, horrific case where I might file, but it would have to be egregious.

By contrast, here’s Carrigan’s answer to the Law Week question:

I’m against the death penalty. It’s expensive and inefficient, and it’s not something that should continue. If I was elected DA, I would support a repeal.

In a February 2016 forum in House District 8, McCann expanded a little on her previous answer regarding the death penalty (skip ahead to about the 20 minute mark for McCann’s answer).

I am opposed to it. I need to make that very clear…Now, that said, we do have a victim’s rights act…I believe, in deference to people who have lost a child, lost a mother, lost a family member, in the most heinous of circumstances.

That if i’m the DA, I at least owe that family the right to sit down and talk to them. I’m not going to bring the death penalty — I’ll explain my thinking and reasoning to them…but I owe them that courtesy…

And I wonder what other laws Mr. Carrigan would disregard? Because if he doesn’t like the law, then he is just not going to apply it? That is not what the oath is for the District Attorney. You take an oath to uphold the law. So I believe that I would have to respect that.” [Pols emphasis]

Okay, so McCann does not believe in the death penalty and would not seek the death penalty if elected District Attorney…but she would pretend to be open to the idea so that families could tell their side of the story (even though McCann already made up her mind).  McCann concludes her answer by criticizing Carrigan for “disregarding” laws — which she just said she would do herself — as a way of attacking Carrigan’s much simpler answer that he would not pursue the death penalty, period.

The death penalty, as Gov. John Hickenlooper well knows, is not an issue with much room in the middle. You are either against the death penalty or in favor of the death penalty, and the more you try to massage your answer one way or the other, the more confusing your position becomes. McCann can’t very well say now that she would just flat-out refuse to seek the death penalty after nearly a year of equivocating.

Sponsor an Anti-Choice Bill, and Get a Zero on NARAL’s Scorecard

Most groups issue legislative scorecards based on averaging a legislator’s votes on specific bills. For its 2016 scorecared, NARL Pro-Choice Colorado is setting the bar higher with a new “zero tolerance policy,” according to a news release:

“Any legislator who sponsors anti-choice legislation has and will from this point forward receive a Zero rating  from NARAL Pro-Choice Colorado.

But we also know defeating bad bills isn’t enough. Seven in 10 Americans support the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision affirming abortion as a private matter, and that number is even higher in Colorado. Strong majorities in our state support the right to safe and legal abortion and have, repeatedly,  proven that at the ballot box by defeating personhood and electing pro-choice legislators.

Our laws need to better reflect the will of the people in that majority. We need to not just defeat anti-women’s health care bills, we can and must have our right to reproductive freedom reflected in our state laws. And as we look to the future in Colorado, NARAL Pro-Choice Colorado will be on the front lines of that pro-active, pro-choice effort.”

See the scorecard here, which spotlights seven Democratic state representatives who, according NARAL, “all served on the House Health, Insurance and Environment Committee and voted down every anti-women’s health bill that came before the Committee.”

Woods and Cadman Take Different Approaches to Attacking the “Entitlement Black Hole”

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Sen. Laura Waters-Woods.

Sen. Laura Waters-Woods.

Colorado State Sen. Laura Woods suggested in a radio interview last month that state Republicans wanted Gov. John Hickenlooper to cut health-care for children, elderly, the disabled, and other poor people in exchange for allowing the state to spend $370 million in TABOR rebates on roads, schools, and other state programs.

“All we had been asking, the entire [legislative] session, was for some real Medicaid reform — Medicaid expansion reform — real reform in that area,” Woods told KNUS host Jimmy Sengenberger May 14 (below). “Mr. Governor, if that’s what you want, then bring us some real reform ideas and an assurance that this money would not just be sucked into another health insurance expansion entitlement black hole, like all of — 38% of our state budget already is. And they wouldn’t come back with any ideas. So they really — you know, we gave them an alternative, [we] said, ‘Come to us with this.’ And they wouldn’t come back with any suggestions on that. So, that’s a long-winded answer to a good question.”

Medicaid, Colorado’s federal-state health care program for low-income people, is apparently what Woods refers to as an “entitlement black hole.” Under Obamacare, some 350,000 more Coloradans enrolled in Medicaid, bringing the total number of Colorado enrollees to over 1.1 million.

“Medicaid expansion has been a win on many levels for Colorado, largely because it has expanded health care access to so many Coloradans, putting Coloradans on the path to better health, and because it’s benefiting our economy,” said Natalie O’Donnell Wood, senior policy analyst at the Bell Policy Center. “Colorado’s rising Medicaid costs are and will continue to be largely attributable to the aging of our population, not Medicaid expansion.”

The federal government picked up most of the tab for Coloradans who enrolled in Medicaid as part of Obamacare. Despite this, Senate President Bill Cadman and other Republicans have falsely asserted that Medicaid expansion, under Obamacare, is busting Colorado’s budget.

Unlike Cadman, who doesn’t explain how he’d like Colorado to cut Medicaid, Woods has said she wants people to be poorer to qualify for Medicaid. But on KNUS, she suggested that in negotiations with Hickenlooper over the hospital provider fee, Republicans did not specify the Medicaid cuts they sought. The GOP wanted Hick to come to the table with “real reform ideas,” she said.

(more…)

Uh-Oh, Trump; Hillary Picks Up Notable Republican Endorsement

Prominent Republican declares support for Clinton.

A prominent Republican declared his support for Clinton following the Orlando Shootings.

As The Hill reports:

A former Republican senator is endorsing Hillary Clinton for president after the mass shooting in Orlando, citing her support for gun control.

Former Sen. Larry Pressler (R-S.D.) called for universal background checks on all gun sales and an assault weapons ban Monday in the wake of the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history.

“I can’t believe I’m endorsing Hillary Clinton for president, but I am,” said Pressler, who spoke with The Hill on Monday after endorsing Clinton, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, in a statement issued over the weekend.

“This morning, I woke up and told my wife, ‘Did I really do that?’ ” he said. “But I did.

“If someone had told me 10 years ago I would do this, I wouldn’t have believed them.”

Pressler, a moderate Republican who served three terms in the Senate before losing his seat to Democrat Tim Johnson in 1997, said he believes voting for Clinton is the “responsible thing to do.”

Will this be the start of a trend, or is Hillary’s endorsement from a former Republican Senator more oddity than possibility? It is certainly easier — from a political perspective — to make a blunt declaration like this when you are not a sitting elected official or a candidate seeking office, but sometimes it doesn’t take much to open the floodgates.