Will Trump help flip the Colorado state senate?

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Donald Trump, Sen. Laura Woods.

Donald Trump, Sen. Laura Woods.

This is the moment for reporters to dig into Donald Trump’s impact on state legislative races in Colorado, and no races are more important than those in swing state senate districts, like Republican Laura Woods’ contest against Democrat Rachel Zenzinger and the race between GOP Arapahoe County Commissioner Nancy Doty and Democratic state Rep. Daniel Kagan.

Both Woods and Doty have said they’ll back Trump, with Woods enthusiastically calling Trump the “people’s candidate.”

But reporters have yet to question Doty in any substantive way about her support for Trump. We have more than a hint that Doty thinks highly of Trump, because Doty called Sarah Palin’s July 12 endorsement speech of Trump “spot on,” and Doty said she “really enjoyed hearing Trump himself speak.

“I thought Sarah Palin was right on, just spot on! She was very, very good – brought a clear message that people need to get on board.  And I really enjoyed hearing [Donald] Trump,” Doty told KNUS 710-AM host Julie Hayden when asked for her “thoughts” on the speeches.

If Republicans lose their one-seat majority in the state senate, Democrats will likely control state government. So the stakes are high for Doty and Woods.


Coffman’s “Oversight” of VA Hospital = Too Little, Too Late, Too Partisan

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Joe R*  has to go to the VA hospital for psychiatric care again – the third time this year.  An obese middle-aged man with thick grey hair, Joe wears a Vietnam ballcap,  sunglasses because he’s mostly blind, Tshirt, shorts, and flip-flops. He ‘s off his meds again, belligerent, paranoid, barely coherent. When the police come, they evaluate his condition, and gently talk him into the ambulance. But where will the ambulance take him?

Aerial view of VA Replacement Hospital 10/2015

Aerial view of VA Replacement Hospital 10/2015 – 50% completed after 11 years and $1 Billion

The “old” VA hospital on 10th and Clermont, where Joe has gone for 25 years and where they know him well, no longer has an emergency room for psychiatric triage, and they only have 20 beds in their psychiatric wing.  So the VA farms “psych emergency” patients out  to several area hospitals. Where he’ll end up, nobody knows.

Wherever the ambulance takes him, the new hospital won’t have his medical history. They won’t know what meds he’s supposed to be taking or how long he’s taken them. They won’t know what works and doesn’t work with this particular disabled veteran. So they will trank him up and warehouse him for a few days or a week, and then send him back home. This is how the VA treats those with “mental health injuries” while awaiting opening of the shiny new VA hospital.

What Joe needs, says his case manager, the social worker, and his doctors, is a residential treatment center that specializes in long term psychiatric needs of veterans. The VA had plans for such a facility, as part of the new and improved Denver VA Medical Center. The Veterans Administration has been designing and building a new “Replacement Hospital” for 12 years.  The cost of this facility has gone from $328 million to its current 1.73 billion price tag – and that may not be the final cost, and doesn’t include the psychiatric rehabilitation wing that Joe needs, nor will it have room to accommodate the outpatient caseload expected  when it is slated to  finally be completed 1/23/2018.


The Most Transparently Stupid Editorial You’ll Read This Year

Chuck Plunkett looks for a spot on Mike Coffman's soapbox

Sorry, Chuck Plunkett, but there’s no more room on this here soapbox.

The editorial board at the Denver Post has always been an unabashed defender of Congressman Mike Coffman. This is not something that any reasonable person could dispute with a straight face.

There may be isolated instances when Coffman has been slightly dinged in the editorial pages over the years, but by and large the Aurora Congressman is treated as a favorite child by the Post. This was true when Vincent Carroll was the editorial page editor, and it is certainly the case now that Chuck Plunkett is commanding the keyboard.

As we’ve said many times in this space, journalists are not infallible beings who are able to tuck away every inherent personal bias when writing about a particular subject, and it is unfair for anyone to expect otherwise. Everyone is biased, to some degree, about everything. But it is a different thing altogether when “bias” morphs from favoritism into outright prejudice — the kind of indefensible preconceived slants that are not supported by fact or logic and cannot be reasonably explained otherwise.

This is the kind of blind prejudice that drives an editorial such as the one that appeared Friday evening in the Denver Post (“Rep. Mike Coffman Right to Defy Donald Trump”) in which Mike Coffman is inexplicably defended for his ongoing tap dance about Republican Presidential nominee Donald Trump. This editorial, presumably written by Plunkett, is over-the-top silly, filled with blatant untruths and constructs so illogical that they end up making Coffman look bad by accident. Let’s take a look:

Good for Mike Coffman. On Thursday the Republican congressman from Aurora went farther than other political candidates in his party have gone by attacking Donald Trump in an online ad headed for a small television run.

The very first paragraph of the editorial is factually wrong. Coffman hasn’t gone “farther than other political candidates in his party” in attacking Donald Trump. Despite his criticisms, Coffman still won’t say whether or not he will support the GOP nominee in November; many other Republicans, such as South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, have repeatedly said in public that they won’t even vote for Trump.

But it strikes us as odd for Coffman’s liberal critics to demand for months that he clearly state whether he would support Trump and then cry foul once he does not.

Come again? It’s “odd” that critics would continue to be concerned that Coffman still won’t take a position on Trump even after Coffman has refused to take a position on Trump? This makes no sense whatsoever.

While it’s true that Coffman once maintained he would support whoever won the GOP nomination, he did so in February, when he said he thought Sen. Marco Rubio would get the nod. And Coffman has used much the same language in his ad in recent past statements.

Try to explain this one without getting a migraine. It’s true, says the Post, that Coffman said he would back the Republican nominee for President…but he only said that because he was supporting Marco Rubio at the time, and he thought Rubio would be the GOP nominee.

What the Post is actually saying here is that Coffman was lying when he said he would support the GOP nominee for President, because what he really meant was that he would only support Marco Rubio as the GOP nominee. As a defense of Coffman, this is as blatantly illogical as “2+2=5.”

It’s also worth noting here the disservice that Plunkett does to Coffman, albeit on accident. We’re not aware of any other media descriptions of Coffman’s position on the Presidential race that directly implicate the Congressman as saying he would back the Republican nominee for President; it’s usually Coffman’s former spokesperson, Kristin Strohm, who gets the “credit” for saying Coffman would back the GOP nominee.

Another fact that ought to be obvious in considering whether Coffman’s words can be judged sincere: By challenging the shoot-from-the-hip nominee, he exposes himself to Trump’s vicious and vindictive ways. No small consideration, as any number of critics have learned.

Here the Post says that Coffman is definitely sincere in his criticism of Trump because most everyone else is afraid to say anything negative about Trump. This might make a modicum of sense if it were at all true that there was a general reluctance among politicians Americans at large to attack Trump. Plunkett would have you believe that Coffman is on the leading charge of anti-Trump sentiment, when in truth, the Aurora Congressman can’t even keep his narrative straight within the same news cycle.

This editorial by the Post and Plunkett is journalistic jaundice as its worst. We’ve come to expect this kind of editorial prejudice from the likes of the Colorado Springs Gazette, where editor Wayne Laugesen doesn’t even bother to pretend that his wife doesn’t take money from the same Republican politicians upon which the newspaper will heap praise, but the Denver Post didn’t used to be this way. Former Post editorial page editor Vincent Carroll was an unabashed supporter of conservative Republican principles, but he never would have blindly walked into the same logic traps that befuddle Plunkett here. Carroll didn’t hide his own biases, but he didn’t thumb his nose at factual truths, either.

As the writer E.B. White once said, “Prejudice is a great time saver. You can form opinions without having to get the facts.” Maybe Plunkett was just under a tight deadline. Maybe (probably) not. Whatever the reason, the result is an editorial that is so illogical and silly that it damages the credibility of an entire newspaper.

True prejudice and bias doesn’t recognize its own flaws, and neither does the Post in this instance. When your logic in defense of a subject is so terrible that the subject ends up looking worse as a result, you’ve lost the ability to even attempt to appear reasonable. This editorial is just plain silly, and “silly” is about the worst thing that can happen to a news organization.

Be the Republican You Are

Republican  Congressional candidate Casper Stockham thinks it was “wrong” for U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman to produce an ad critical of GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump.

Coffman says he still may vote for Trump, which is not surprising since Coffman’s actual factual positions on abortion (opposed to a woman’s right to choose), immigration (opposed to birthright citizenship), Obama (questioning his citizenship), the debt ceiling (opposed to increasing it), and others are in line with Trump.

“If you are going to be a Republican, be a Republican,” said Stockham. “I’m voting for Trump, absolutely, because I’m the party nominee. I’m running for Congress on the Republican ticket. I find it fascinating what goes on in politics.”

Stockham is challenging U.S. Rep. Diana DeGette to represent Denver, a dense Democratic district, even more anti-Trump than Coffman’s Aurora district.

So I asked Stockham if he thought about distancing himself from Trump.

“I understand why [Coffman] did it, but I think it was wrong for him to do that,” Stockham said. “You would never find any Democrat Congressperson running a negative ad against Hillary Clinton or any nominee. And the reason is, the Democrat Party has its act together and the Republican Party does not.”

Stockham said he’s running “to serve the community.”

KNUS talk show host Dan Caplis criticized Coffman yesterday for helping Hillary and thereby setting back GOP efforts to ban abortion, which is a goal Coffman has long advocated for, Caplis said.

Get More Smarter on Friday (August 5)

Get More SmarterThe Summer Olympics in Rio are already underway, with the Opening Ceremonies scheduled to take place tonightIt’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.


► Congressman Mike Coffman (R-Aurora) imploded in spectacular fashion on Thursday, making a ham-handed attempt to explain that he isn’t a huge fan of Donald Trump before inexplicably backpedaling and making it (un)clear that he might still vote for Trump or might also support Libertarian Gary Johnson for President.

Marshall Zelinger caught up with Coffman and found him to be…confused on how to respond to his own TV ad. From Denver7:

The ad doesn’t reveal who he currently plans to vote for on Nov. 8.

“Do people ask you, ‘Are you going to vote for Trump?'” asked Denver7 political reporter Marshall Zelinger.

“I’m running my own campaign, and the purpose of the ad is not whether I’m voting for Trump or not, the purpose of this ad is to send a message to the people of my Congressional District that I will represent them whoever is in the White House,” said Coffman.

“They’re going to want to know, who are you going to vote for based on not liking either?” said Zelinger.

“Donald Trump has not earned my support. I’m not going to vote for Hillary Clinton. (I’ve) talked to Governor (Bill) Weld on the Libertarian side, and I wouldn’t rule that out,” said Coffman.

This is an absolute disaster for Coffman, who hoped to distance himself from Trump but ended up instead looking like a spineless fool who can’t even stick to one simple answer. Negative TV ads about this episode will be devastating for Coffman as we enter the final months of the fall campaign.


► Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump is hoping for an end to what has been the worst week of his campaign thus far. A new McClatchy-Marist poll released late Thursday shows Democrat Hillary Clinton surging to a 15-point lead in the race for President:

Clinton not only went up, but Trump went down. Clinton now has a 48-33 lead, a huge turnaround from her narrow 42-39 advantage last momth.

The findings are particularly significant because the poll was taken after both political conventions ended, and as Trump engaged in a war of words with the parents of Army Capt. Humayun Khan, killed in the Iraq War 12 years ago.

Trump’s terrible week, coupled with Clinton’s surge, has opened up new opportunities for the Democratic nominee to court disillusioned Republican voters.


► Pundits may disagree on whether or not Colorado is still a swing state this Presidential election, but that isn’t stopping the campaigns from making regular visits to our state. Donald Trump will be back in Colorado on Tuesday, less than a week after his running mate, Mike Pence, visited Denver and Colorado Springs (Democrats Hillary Clinton and Tim Kaine were in Colorado on Wednesday as well). Trump will reportedly make stops in Grand Junction and Pueblo (Trump will not visit Pueblo after all).


Get even more smarter after the jump…


Mike Coffman Just Imploded

UPDATE #2: Annnnddd….then it gets so much worse:


UPDATE: Story now up from 9News:

We followed up with Coffman on Thursday and found that’s not precisely the case. Instead, Coffman is walking a fine line and saying that he’s undecided in the presidential race.

While the ad is intended to showcase a stance against the leader of his party, Coffman stopped short of disavowing Trump’s candidacy in a telephone interview with 9NEWS.


What's that, now?

What’s that, now?

Remember that story this morning about that anti-Trump TV commercial that features Rep. Mike Coffman? The ad isn’t even on television yet, and Coffman is already backpedaling, as Brandon Rittiman reports for 9News.

You can read our original post about Coffman’s Trump dance for more background, but to really understand how totally bizarre this has become, we thought it would be helpful to give you a quick timeline of the words coming out of Team Coffman today:

1. Mike Coffman, in a preview of his new TV ad released to the press:

“People ask me, ‘What do you think about Trump? Honestly, I don’t care for him much.”

2. A bit later, Coffman’s spokesperson, Cinamon Watson, had this to say about Coffman’s thoughts on the Presidential election:

Watson said Thursday that “Hillary Clinton is not an option” and that Coffman will not vote for her. She did not directly answer whether he has ruled out voting for Trump. He “is considering his options — like a lot of Americans,” she said in an email.

3. And here’s what Coffman apparently just told Brandon Rittiman at 9News:

Rittiman: Would you rule out supporting Donald Trump for President?

Coffman: No.

There you have it, folks. This is how an incumbent member of Congress loses his re-election campaign.



The Get More Smarter Show: August 4, 2016

This week on Get More Smarter: Jason Bane and Alan Franklin talk Tea Party, Trump, Darryl Glenn, and more! Then stay tuned for an insightful interview with Sen. Morgan Carroll, the Democratic candidate for Congress in Colorado’s swing CD-6.

To skip directly to our interview with Carroll, jump to 15:20.

If you missed a past episode of Get More Smarter, click here to catch up. And thanks for watching!

Scott Gessler, Snipe Hunter

Scott Gessler.

Scott Gessler.

(The Return of James Peabody! — Colorado Pols)

When Donald Trump said this week he feared the presidential election “might be rigged,” his comments raised eyebrows among election officials everywhere, including Colorado Republican Secretary of State Wayne Williams.

Williams, speaking to 9News, sought to reassure Coloradans that elections in our country are professionally and impartially run. Fair enough. That’s what a secretary of state should do, right? And not instill fear that the outcome of elections might be tainted by cheating?

As a bonus, anchor Kyle Clark pointed out that 9News also had on hand Williams’ one-term GOP predecessor in office, Scott Gessler, to hammer home the point that, hey, here’s another Republican who’s run our elections and can vouch for their integrity.

“I think there’s always value in skepticism. We want to hold government accountable and skepticism is what does it,” Gessler told 9News, adding, “Before anyone accuses anyone else of widespread fraud or anything like that, I’d be careful and examine the facts closely.”

Mmm, yes. Examine facts before making accusations of widespread fraud. Sage advice indeed.

Maybe that is advice Gessler himself could have heeded in 2011 before leading his multi-year witch hunt to root out what he said could be as many as 16,000 noncitizen voters in Colorado. “We know we have a problem in Colorado, but we do not know how big the problem is,” he testified before Congress, where shocked Republicans declared his allegations “a disturbing wake up call.”

As many as 5,000 of these noncitizens had voted in 2010, Gessler said. Wow. That was the year when Michael Bennet had narrowly defeated Ken Buck. Maybe where there’s smoke…

“My office has every reason to believe that thousands of noncitizens are registered to vote in Colorado,” Gessler told Colorado lawmakers during a hearing in 2011. Hey, it only takes a small number to change the outcome of an election, right?

And then a funny thing started happening. A bunch of the people Gessler alleged were noncitizens turned out to be citizens after all. The number of alleged noncitizens on Gessler’s list grew ever smaller as it became clear Gessler’s methods and assumptions were wildly unsound.

But that didn’t stop Gessler, who pressed on until he could get someone to prosecute what was now only a handful of cases identified. After everything was said and done, there was one – count it – one conviction, in Arapahoe County, resulting from Gessler’s multi-year witch hunt.

Maybe witch hunt isn’t the right term. This was more like a snipe hunt, where a fool is lured into the woods holding a burlap bag while his buddies leave him there and go have a laugh.

There’s a great episode of Cheers where this happens to Frasier, who, after being left in the forest, realizes he’s been had: “A man does not crouch in the woods for hours without having a revelation or two.”



Unless you’re Scott Gessler, in which case you remain ever vigilant – bag open, eyes agape and ready to catch snipe.

We don’t know how much of this background Kyle Clark knew before reading the 9News story with Gessler on the air. But we do hope Kyle will at least check out that episode of Cheers. It’s a good one.


Radio host slams Coffman for helping Hillary

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Rep. Mike Coffman (R).

Rep. Mike Coffman (R).

Dan Caplis, a prominent Colorado Republican and conservative talk-radio host, denounced Mike Coffman’s latest TV ad this morning, saying on air that the ad “helps Hillary Clinton” and that Coffman must have “concluded in his mind and his heart and his conscience that Donald Trump cannot win.”

Caplis, whose name has been floated over the years as a possible GOP gubernatorial candidate, says Trump can win, and he wants to have Coffman on his KNUS 710-AM show to discuss the topic further.

Caplis: So you think Hillary and her camp are happy or unhappy with the Mike Coffman ad. Let’s not deny the obvious. Let’s respect each other with the truth.  This helps Hillary Clinton.

And because of the quality of Mike as is a man in a public servant, I give him the ultimate benefit of the doubt that he would not have done this unless he’s already truly concluded in his mind and his heart and his conscience that Donald Trump cannot win.

Maybe I’m giving Mike too much benefit of the doubt here, but I think he has earned, because the I just can’t imagine him being willing to help Hillary Clinton like this if he truly thought Trump had a chance to win for all the reasons I mentioned earlier, so I give Mike the benefit of the doubt.  He must’ve concluded that that this race is over and Donald Trump has no chance to win…

I completely disagree with that. I think Donald Trump is failing miserably. I think he’s failing at trying to throw the race away, for all the reasons I talked about at the top of the show. Donald Trump is throwing this race away, but he still has a very good chance to win, because America has already rejected Hillary Clinton. Trump still is a very good chance to win.

So if Mike Coffman has concluded, if we ever get the chance to talk to Mike about this and his explanation is ‘Yeah, I knew this ad would help Hillary Clinton but I’ve already concluded Trump has no chance to win,’ I would respectfully disagree with him.

The best way to make a statement at a Trump rally

Show up, be respectful and quiet, and simply hold up a pocket U.S. Constitution. The pro-Trump crowd will go absolutely ape-shit.

And one of the strongest points against Trump will again be effectively made.


In Colorado interview, Trump says U.S. has “phony, artificial stock market”

Colorado Springs radio host Richard Randall landed an interview with Donald Trump Friday, and Trump took advantage of the obscure conversation to declare that the U.S. has a “phony, artificial stock market,” that will do “some very bad and very interesting things” when “interest rates go up a little bit.”

Trump has criticized the stock market in the past, but his statement here, on KVOR-740 AM in Colorado Springs, lays out his views as starkly as they’ve been expressed anywhere, as far as I can tell:

Trump: (at 7:45) You know, one of the things, there are so many problems in our country that you can speak for two hours and you don’t cover the subject. The other thing that just came out, is home ownership. It’s the lowest in 58 years. Did they say 58? The lowest home ownership we’ve had, percentage-wise that we’ve had in this country in 58 years. The only thing we have is a phony, artificial stock market. So people think—But I’ll tell you what, nothing relates to the stock. Even in New York, on Wall Street and stuff, people think Wall Street. It’s a whole different world. The stock market is a phony number and it’s gotten there because nobody is paying any interest. When interest rates go up a little bit, you’ll see some very bad and very interesting things happen.

Democrats Outperforming GOP in State Senate Fundraising

We wrote yesterday about the significant tilt to the latest fundraising numbers for State House races, where 18 Democrats are among the Top 20 candidates in terms of the most cash-on-hand as of August 1.

Fundraising for the top State Senate races in Colorado is a little bit more competitive, though Democrats still hold a clear advantage over Republicans. Take a look:

Top 10 State Senate fundraising (by COH)

Top 10 State Senate fundraising (by COH)

Colorado Senate Race Now “Safe Democratic” Seat

Per CenterForPolitics.org


Nationally-known political pundit Larry Sabato, Jr. has updated his regular “Crystal Ball” rankings for the U.S. Senate races, and look at what has happened to Colorado:

Today we add one further alteration: We are moving Colorado from Leans Democratic to Likely Democratic. This also does not affect the Electoral College total, though it does push a competitive state further toward Clinton. Public and private polling, plus our own survey of key Democrats, Republicans, and independent journalists suggests that the GOP is not very competitive in Colorado this year. That includes the Senate race too, which we are moving from Likely Democratic to Safe Democratic. [Pols emphasis] Sen. Michael Bennet (D), a very close winner in 2010, should be able to run ahead of Clinton against an underfunded Republican opponent, El Paso County Commissioner Darryl Glenn, who national Republicans appear to have written off.

This isn’t a huge surprise, of course, but it is noteworthy to see that there is a consensus opinion forming that Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Denver), once the top incumbent target of Senate Republicans, is no longer even considered vulnerable in 2016.

Democrats Crushing Republicans in State House Fundraising

We’ve been going through the fundraising reports for state legislative candidates, and the numbers are pretty astonishing.

Take a look at the chart below for the Top 20 House campaigns with the most cash-on-hand as of August 1. As you can see, Democratic candidates account for 18 of the Top 20 campaigns with the most money in the bank.

We know that Republicans are spending a lot more money on soft money efforts than in recent years, but it is still pretty crazy to see Democrats just dominating in the cash-on-hand numbers as we enter the home stretch of the election season. Also note that while there are a couple of relatively-safe seats in this chart, the vast majority are in competitive districts.

State House Fundraising August 1