Get More Smarter on Thursday (Sept. 24)

MoreSmarterLogo-300x218Can Ben Carson say something ridiculously stupid every day this week? He’s sure trying. 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).


► Congress has spent a lot of time doing very little since they returned from the August recess, and they may have to put in some overtime this weekend. As Mark Matthews reports for the Denver Post, lawmakers are calling on House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) to get a little tougher with his gavel:

Colorado’s three U.S. House Democrats joined with about 120 of their party colleagues this week in asking that Speaker John Boehner keep the lower chamber in session — every day — until a deal is reached to avert a government .

The request from Reps.  and  comes just days before an Oct. 1 deadline in which Congress and the White House must agree to a stopgap spending bill or else close down federal agencies.

Elsewhere, Politico is reporting that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is preparing his “final strategy” for avoiding the second federal government shutdown in three years:

It’s make or break time for Republicans to avoid a government shutdown.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on Thursday afternoon is expected to set up his end-game to avoid a politically disastrous lapse in government funding. He will likely make his move immediately after an attempt to defund Planned Parenthood fails in the face of Democratic opposition, according to sources briefed on his plans.

McConnell can also box out Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) from attempting a filibuster if the GOP leader acts quickly after the failed vote; otherwise Cruz could try to delay McConnell’s plans to jam House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) with a do-or-die vote on a clean stopgap spending bill, or continuing resolution. But Senate GOP leadership is confident they can rebuff any Cruz maneuvering.

We’ve probably said it before, but it deserves repeating: How can Sen. Ted Cruz simultaneously run for President while doing everything in his power to shut down the federal government? Ted Cruz for President: Because the Government Should Just Stop Altogether. 


► Pope Francis addressed a joint session of Congress on Thursday, telling lawmakers that “Legislative activity is always based on care for the people.” The Pope also spoke passionately about acting on climate change, welcoming immigrants, ending the death penalty, and fixing the widening gap between the lower and middle class and the richest 1% of Americans. The Washington Post has an annotated copy of the Pope’s speech available online.


► Larimer County Sheriff Justin Smith is taking a serious look at running for U.S. Senate in 2016. The Republican sheriff is getting some good press out of D.C., particularly from National Journal and its daily “Hotline” political briefing. Smith is the first story in this morning’s “Hotline,” which notes that he has “a team of consultants already lined up.”


Get even more smarter after the jump…


Larimer County Sheriff Justin Smith Considering GOP Senate Bid

Larimer County Sheriff Justin Smith is about this close to running for U.S. Senate.

Larimer County Sheriff Justin Smith is about this close to running for U.S. Senate.

The conservative D.C. publication The National Journal has news on Colorado’s U.S. Senate race, and it looks like Republicans might have yet another potential candidate:

Lar­imer County Sher­iff Justin Smith, a Col­or­ado Re­pub­lic­an, says he is ser­i­ously look­ing at run­ning against Demo­crat­ic Sen. Mi­chael Ben­net in 2016, the latest in a string of po­ten­tial GOP can­did­ates to put their names for­ward in the state.

Smith gained prom­in­ence among the state’s con­ser­vat­ive grass­roots in 2013 for fight­ing against the gun-con­trol le­gis­la­tion cham­pioned by Col­or­ado’s Demo­crat­ic gov­ernor, John Hick­en­loop­er. Smith said in an in­ter­view that he was mak­ing calls and speak­ing with sev­er­al statewide elec­ted of­fi­cials about his plans.

Smith tells the Journal that he would consider not running for Senate himself in favor of Arapahoe County District Attorney George Brauchler. As Colorado Pols reported on Tuesday, Brauchler is poised to announce his own Senate campaign in early October.

The Journal also updates the Senate race with some information that you already knew from reading Colorado Pols last week:

But even if Brauchler gets in, at least one oth­er well-fun­ded can­did­ate will be com­pet­ing for the GOP nom­in­a­tion. Col­or­ado Springs busi­ness­man Robert Blaha, who self-fun­ded a con­gres­sion­al run in 2012, vowed to chal­lenge Ben­net be­cause of the Demo­crat’s vote in fa­vor of the Ir­an nuc­le­ar deal…

Con­ser­vat­ive state le­gis­lat­or Tim Neville is on a “listen­ing tour” as he con­siders jump­ing from the state Sen­ate to the U.S. Sen­ate. And his col­league, state Sen­ate Ma­jor­ity Lead­er Mark Schef­fel, is also re­portedly con­sid­er­ing a run. [Pols emphasis]

After months of searching in vain for a candidate, Republicans are suddenly finding that it’s beginning to get a bit crowded in advance of 2016.

CU tops CSU when it comes to responding to pressure from GOP Congressman

(Credit where due – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

CSU President Tony Frank.

CSU President Tony Frank.

Reporters should take note of the different responses, one by Colorado State University and the other by two University of Colorado campuses, to Rep. Doug Lamborn’s pressure to halt the acquisition of fetal tissue by two companies–as well as to the GOP Congressman’s demand that all NIH-funded research using fetal tissue be stopped.

Back in July, under pressure from Lamborn, Colorado State University President Tony Frank embarrassed his institution by suspending the purchase of fetal-tissue from two suppliers until vague “congressional investigations are concluded.” Never mind that such investigations rarely have anything to do with guilt or innocence–and everything to do with politics. And no evidence of wrongdoing had been produced.

In Aug., Lamborn turned his attention to the University of Colorado at Denver, demanding information on whether it also uses two fetal-tissue suppliers, StemExpress and Advanced Bioscience Resources, both of which are under attack by the anti-choice Center for Medical Progress for obtaining tissue from Planned Parenthood.

In response, the University of Colorado Medical School and the University of Colorado at Denver, in a joint response, stated that they did not obtain fetal tissue from those the two companies.

And if they did, they wouldn’t stop without evidence of wrongdoing. As Richard Traystman, the University of Colorado Medical School’s Director of Research, told me, for an RH Reality Check Post:

“At this moment we’re not [using those companies], but we will if we need to. We do have other sources, as I’ve said, but those are the two major companies that many investigators order from.”

Both CSU and the CU campuses told Lamborn they would not halt NIH funded fetal research. As Traystman put it:

“It’s not acceptable to stop research using cells from fetal tissues. In my letter, I gave examples of where these sorts of fetal cells are used in research on certain diseases. They are very often used in research on diseases of the central nervous system, the brain, the spinal cord, a variety of diseases that involve brain abnormalities and diseases, like Parkinson’s disease, for example. They are also used in research on the heart and cardiac tissue and to create vaccines. I could go on.”

Get More Smarter on Wednesday (Sept. 23)

MoreSmarterLogo-300x218This off-year election may seem like it’s still far ahead in the future, but consider this: Mail ballots start dropping in less than three weeks. 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).



► It’s Pope time! From the Washington Post:

With the first words that Pope Francis uttered publicly on American soil, he made it clear Wednesday that he does not intend to sidestep the deeply divisive issues that are roiling this country — and indeed, that he plans to fully employ his voice and influence as the spiritual leader of nearly 80 million Roman Catholics in the U.S.

Amid the pageantry of a welcoming ceremony on the White House lawn, the first pope from the Americas introduced himself as “the son of an immigrant family. I am happy to be a guest in this country, which was largely built by such families.”…

…In his brief address at the White House, delivered in English, the pope also congratulated President Obama for “proposing an initiative for reducing air pollution. Accepting the urgency, it seems clear to me also that climate change is a problem which can no longer be left to a future generation.”

The Popemobile will pull over at the U.S. Capitol on Thursday, where Pope Francis will address a joint session of Congress at the invitation of House Speaker John Boehner.


► The 2016 race for U.S. Senate in Colorado is finally starting to fill up with candidates. As Colorado Pols first reported on Tuesday, Arapahoe County District Attorney George Brauchler will seek the Republican nomination in 2016, with an official announcement likely in early October — or sooner, given the apparent ineptitude of Brauchler flaks.

Meanwhile, a new poll from Clarity Campaign Labs shows incumbent Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Denver) with a narrow lead over Brauchler and Republican Robert Blaha. There are several different ways you can look at these results, particularly given the sloppy makeup of the demographics, but in a nutshell, Bennet has an early lead against “generic Republican candidate X” on the ballot.



Get even more smarter after the jump…


Please (Anonymously) Bash Muslims On my Radio Show, Begs Host

(Classy — Promoted by Colorado Pols)

On the national infotainment stage, Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson is standing by his comment that a Muslim should not be president.

And deep in the bottom-feeding waters of Colorado Springs talk radio, it gets worse.

Apparently inspired by Carson, KVOR radio host Richard Randall launched into a tirade against Muslims yesterday. He begged listeners to send him questions to read on air and join him in his bigotry, saying:

Randall: “It’s a sensitive topic. You can always do it anonymously. You’re afraid that some Muslim is gong to find you or your kids and do something evil to you. That’s not abstract. Feel free to call in anonymously. Or you can text it in.”

If you’re trying to explain the awfulness of Carson, listen to Randall. The two are directly connected, and we should all take a moment to call it out, as The Denver Post did today. Tell your kid about it. Tell someone you hate this and why, in the same way we would if Randall and Carson used “Christian” or “Jew” instead of “Muslim.”

BREAKING: George Brauchler Will Run for U.S. Senate

UPDATE #2: Again, from Kristen Wyatt of the AP:

What would you call this? A non-denial denial?


UPDATE: AP’s Kristen Wyatt quotes prospective Brauchler campaign manager Josh Penry denying the story:

Penry’s bravado notwithstanding, our sources are standing by the story–and suggest other motives for Brauchler keeping his imminent run under wraps a short while longer. We’ll update with developments soon.


George Brauchler, ready to Tweet

George Brauchler, ready to Tweet

Colorado Pols has learned that Arapahoe County District Attorney George Brauchler will indeed run for U.S. Senate. Brauchler has tapped former state senator Josh Penry as his campaign manager, and the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) is actively pushing Brauchler as “their guy,” which may not sit well with Colorado Republican activists.

Brauchler has been considering a Senate bid for months, weighing the decision even as the Aurora Theater Shooting trial was ongoing, and will likely make the announcement official in early October.

Last week, Colorado Pols reported that a group of high-profile donors, representing Republican business interests, were trying to recruit state Sen. Mark Scheffel to run for Senate because of concerns that Brauchler is not ready for such a high-profile race — and because they don’t want to feel forced to commit to the NRSC’s “D.C.” candidate. It is unclear if Scheffel is still considering making a Senate bid, but at least one other Republican candidate is likely to compete for the GOP nomination. State Sen. Tim Neville has been doing a statewide “listening tour” and had recently been telling top donors that he was committed to running for the U.S. Senate in 2016.

State Sen. Tim Neville

State Sen. Tim Neville

Colorado Springs businessman Robert Blaha has also said he will run for Senate in 2016 and indicated a willingness to self-fund much of his campaign.

Brauchler has been in the news quite a bit this year due to the Aurora Theater Shooting Trial, in which he was unable to convince a jury to rule in favor of the death penalty for James Holmes. Since the end of the trial, Brauchler has repeatedly invoked his family as his primary concern in weighing a Senate bid, admitting that they had spent little time together over the past two years because of the demands of the trial. Apparently, family concerns were not all that relevant after all; Brauchler will have to campaign full-time while also (theoretically) continuing his job as Arapahoe County District Attorney.

Incumbent Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Denver) is one of the Republican Party’s top targets in 2016, but the odds are not in favor of Republicans taking the seat; only once in the last 40 years have incumbent Senators from the same Party lost re-election in consecutive cycles — nationwide. (Democratic Sen. Mark Udall lost his re-election campaign in 2014).

Get More Smarter on Tuesday (Sept. 22)

MoreSmarterLogo-TerminatorAfter today, there are just 100 days remaining in 2015; somebody had better hurry up with those damn hover boards. 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).


► Congratulations, Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Aurora). Your spokesperson might have provided the most absurd attempt at spin that we’ve seen all year, and that’s really saying something. Cinamon Watson, take a bow (or a curtsy, or whatever):

“Using Planned Parenthood’s expression of support is not the same thing as saying it’s a good organization.”

► Oooh, super scary TV commercials! The Republican-aligned group Advancing Colorado is out with a new TV ad criticizing Sen. Michael Bennet over his position on President Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran. Or, perhaps, this is all a Skynet conspiracy. You had better unplug your toaster before it goes rogue.

► Shutdown Countdown: Colorado’s two U.S. Senators are working on a plan that they hope will help avert the second federal government shutdown in three years. From Mark Matthews of the Denver Post:

With a possible federal just days away, Colorado’s two U.S. senators are pleading with their colleagues to support a proposal that would force lawmakers to stay near Capitol Hill until the government re-opens — or else face the possibility of 

…The idea is to prevent senators from skipping town and to compel them to work on a solution. If that’s not enough, the Bennet-Gardner resolution also ensures the upper chamber has the power to seek the arrest of senators who miss the once-an-hour quorum call.

In those scenarios, delinquent senators would be brought to the floor and not to jail. The sergeant at arms would have the power to seek the help of other law enforcement agencies to find any missing senator.

Look, we know that the intent is not really to put Senators in jail, but maybe we should, It’s not like the Republican-led Congress would be any less productive.

Get even more smarter after the jump…


Get More Smarter on Monday (Sept. 21)

Get More SmarterEnjoy your final official days of Summer. 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).


► In a split decision, the Colorado Supreme Court ruled on Monday that Colorado is not violating the constitution by continually cutting education funds. From the Denver Post:

The court said Monday that the Dwyer lawsuit “plaintiffs’ complaint misconstrues the relationship between the negative factor and Amendment 23.”

“By its plain language, Amendment 23 only requires increases to statewide base per pupil funding, not to total per pupil funding,” the ruling states.

Since 2010, the state has cut nearly $1 billion in education spending using the negative factor. In the 2014-15 fiscal year, the negative factor allowed the state to cut about 13 percent from almost every district’s calculated budget.


► Congress is back “at work” after a controversial pair of votes on Friday in the House to cut federal funding for Planned Parenthood. Some budget experts now suggest that there is a 75% chance that we will see a second federal government shutdown in three years.


► Back in Colorado, the FBI is warning local law enforcement officials about a risk of attacks against Planned Parenthood clinics and employees.


Get even more smarter after the jump…


Brauchler Ducks Reporter Questions, But Speaks Freely on Talk Radio

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Arapahoe County DA George Brauchler.

Arapahoe County DA George Brauchler.

Asked by Associated Press reporter Nicholas Riccardi in September to answer questions about Colorado political issues, Brauchler said: “I’d be happy to answer those things if I got into the Senate” contest.

But over the weekend, Brauchler jumped on conservative talk radio and openly talked about Colorado politics, attacking Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet repeatedly on multiple issues.

Appearing on KNUS 710-AM’s Jimmy Sengenberger show Sept. 19, Brauchler said it was “infuriating” that Bennet supported the “ridiculous” Iran nuclear deal. On the radio, Brauchler equated peopole who urged him to accept a plea deal with Holmes to those who favored  the Iran deal.

Brauchler criticized Obamacare as hurting small business, and he also said the Dodd-Frank law was an “horrific compromise that took place during the economic downturn.”

Calling himself a “simple kid from Lakewood” and sounding like a candidate, Brauchler said the federal government has gotten to big too fast during the years that Bennet has been in office.

The lessen for reporters: when Brauchler says he’ll talk politics later, ask him the questions again, but do it on conservative talk radio.

How to be a successful sitting duck. By Cory Gardner

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Sen. Cory Gardner.

Sen. Cory Gardner.

It’s after Labor Day, and the thin lineup of Republicans even thinking about challenging Sen. Michael Bennet would make you believe they’re scared of Michael Bennet and his war chest.

But Cory Gardner, on KNUS radio Wed., sees it this way: Republicans are actually scared of “taking fire.”

Gardner: I think getting into a race in July, you know, the year before was probably too early, or August. So, I think sometime between now and that March date — actually probably sometime between now and January is that sweet spot.

Look, any candidate knows when they announce, that there opening up to start taking incoming fire. And by waiting, getting the team in place, by getting the structure in place, they can really hit the ground running and avoid unnecessarily time being left as a sitting duck, so to speak, and taking fire.

A sitting duck? hmm.

Sounds like Gardner is talking about himself going into last year’s election. If ever there was a duck, glued down, stuck, and waiting, it was Gardner, with his far-right record across the board from global warming and immigration to abortion and even journalism. And beyond.

Gardner got in the race against Udall in March, your recall, of last year, very late by conventional standards. And there he was, a sitting duck, but also an oily one, whose feathers got ruffled at times but remained greasy enough to withstand the “fire.” And he spat back.

It makes you wonder, if Gardner had gotten in the race earlier, would he have won? If he were a sitting duck longer, would it have mattered?

One one hand, Udall’s trajectory was downward. But you also had the sense that Gardner’s reconstruction of himself from right-wing to moderate teetered toward the end, as reporters and others were frustrated but starting to cut through the grease and spit.

On balance, I think Gardner would have lost if he’d gotten in the race much earlier. And it appears he agrees.

Republicans Vote to Defund Planned Parenthood; Budget Deal at Risk

UPDATE: Liberal group ProgressNow Colorado slams Coffman with the Planned Parenthood logo he used in an ad last year:

“Just a year ago, Mike Coffman was so desperate to run away his right-wing image that he misleadingly used Planned Parenthood’s logo in a campaign ad,” said ProgressNow Colorado executive director Amy Runyon-Harms. “Today, Coffman proved that his claims that he stands with women and their families were nothing more than a smokescreen to protect his political career.”

“The far right’s latest assault on women’s reproductive rights following the release of heavily-edited, consistently debunked videos is just the latest attempt by anti-abortion extremists to ban reproductive choice with no exceptions for the life of the mother, or cases of rape or incest,” said Runyon-Harms. “For too long, Mike Coffman has tried to play both sides of this issue in order to please his right-wing donors while scrambling to keep his competitive congressional seat. With today’s vote, Coffman proves to everyone that he doesn’t stand with women at all. He stands in the way.”




Congressional Republicans have voted in favor of stripping federal funding from Planned Parenthood, with Colorado’s delegation splitting their vote equally across party lines.

The House vote was not entirely unexpected, though it remains unclear how today’s vote will ultimately affect the federal budget. But first, the Washington Post reports on two anti-choice votes:

One bill passed Friday, the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act, would impose criminal penalties on medical personnel who fail to aid an infant born after an attempted abortion. The other, the Defund Planned Parenthood Act, imposes a one-year moratorium on federal funding for the group, which Republicans say will allow for a thorough investigation of its practices. Any funding, supporters said, would be redirected to clinics that do not offer abortions…

…Democrats pointed out that Planned Parenthood has long been prohibited from spending federal money on abortions, thanks to appropriations riders dating back to the 1970s. And in a floor debate Friday, they called the bill an attack on women’s health care and noted that other health-care providers would be unable to absorb all of Planned Parenthood’s hundreds of thousands of patients.

“This bill is dumb, it’s foolish, and it’s mean-spirited,” said Rep. Lois Frankel (D-Fla.). “The bill is based upon lies and exaggerations. If you want to have a truthful debate, then let’s talk about the 400,000 Pap smears, the 500,000 breast exams, the 4.5 million STD and HIV tests that Planned Parenthood does each year.”

We’re all in favor of a “truthful debate,” though we’d rather not discuss Pap smears at length in this space. Instead, we’ll direct you to Politico and the ramifications of the larger federal budget deal:

Republican leaders who are eyeing a rarely-deployed, fast-track budget procedure as a way to defund Planned Parenthood and stave off a government shutdown appear to be in for a rude awakening.

The idea is aimed at placating conservatives by giving them a way to pass legislation to strip Planned Parenthood of its funding and decouple the issue from the entire federal budget. But conservatives are balking at the proposal to use the majority-vote reconciliation process, calling it a “ruse” that, in the end, would leave Planned Parenthood’s federal funding intact and amount to little more than a feel-good exercise.

In a nutshell, this has turned into one hell of a political clusterfuck for the Republican Party. Vulnerable incumbents such as Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Aurora) are now on record seeking to defund Planned Parenthood entirely, and it looks like none of this will avert the second federal shutdown in three years.

Solid work, Boehner.

Will Woods and Neville attaboy fellow anti-vaxxer Trump?

(A good question – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Donald Trump.

Donald Trump.

The Denver Post made a good point today about Donald Trump’s idiocy on vaccines:

It may have gotten lost in the welter of headline-grabbing moments in Wednesday’s Republican debate, but Donald Trump managed to add to his list of idiotic claims.

It seems he suspects vaccines cause autism and at the very least ought to be spaced out over a longer time period. As it is, he claims, the syringe of vaccine is so big that it “looks just like it is meant for a horse, not for a child.”

The idea that vaccines cause autism has been thoroughly debunked, but why should Trump care when his rhetoric on everything is so sloppy?

The serious question for us here in Colorado is, will some of our important local politicians attaboy Trump?

You’ve got, for example, Sen. Tim Neville, who’s considering a U.S. Senate run, and Sen. Laura Woods, a top target of Democrats. Both have sponsored legislation affirming that parents can opt their children out of getting recommended vaccinations.

Are Woods and Neville worried that kids might get autism from vaccines? Maybe, for them and Donald Trump, the threat of autism outweighs the risk posed by the fact that Colorado ranks last in the U.S. for measles vaccinations among kindergartners?

Donald Trump’s media magnetism, along with his real popularity and out-there beliefs, continues to offer an opportunity for us to educate ourselves about what our local politicians think. Trump makes talking about vaccines and autism fun, especially because he’s not in power. Let’s air out his ideas here in Colorado.

Ghosts of Senate Past and Mark Scheffel Stir Up 2016

“Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”
— George Santayana, 19th century philosopher and poet.

Good luck trying to find someone who hasn’t heard this sentiment in one form or another; over the years it has been paraphrased and misattributed more often than a 1980s rock ballad. The irony, of course, is that the general concept is well-remembered, even if the details are not. Nouns and verbs get replaced here and there, while credit is given to everyone from Santayana to Edmund Burke to Winston Churchill. Heck, some version or another has probably appeared more than once in this very space.

Gale Norton, Pete Coors, Bob Schafer, and Jane Norton continue to haunt the NRSC.

Gale Norton, Pete Coors, Bob Schaffer, and Jane Norton continue to haunt the NRSC.

There is good reason why this quote is so often recalled – it rings true, more often than not. And there may be no more apt description of the current state of the Republican field for U.S. Senate in 2016. The ghosts of Senate past have returned again to haunt the GOP.

The National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) is pushing Arapahoe County District Attorney George Brauchler as their top candidate for Senate, largely following the advice of current Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma), and that isn’t sitting well with a cadre of powerful business leaders in Colorado.

Brauchler showed his cards on Thursday in an interview with the Colorado Independent, in which he said of his own possible candidacy, “Early October, mark my words — I’m gonna put the guessing to rest.” Obviously, he would like you to believe that the political world is at a standstill awaiting his decision. But as Colorado Pols has learned, influential business leaders and Republican donors in Colorado do not support Brauchler and are recruiting their own candidate for 2016: State senate Majority Leader Mark Scheffel.

What’s going on here? We sat down with ourselves and did a quick Q&A to answer these questions and more:

Q: Why are top Republican donors and business leaders recruiting Mark Scheffel instead of supporting George Brauchler?

A: We’re glad you asked. There are two big reasons: 1) Influential Colorado Republicans are not happy that the NRSC is once again trying to force a candidate upon them, and 2) Top Republicans are not as impressed with Brauchler as you might think. They have learned from recent history – finally – that the NRSC-supported candidate doesn’t tend to do well in Colorado. Say what you will about Brauchler – and we’ll get back to him in a moment – but the NRSC doesn’t have a strong track record of success when it comes to hand-picked Senate candidates:

2010 Jane Norton Ken Buck Michael Bennet (D)
2008 Bob Schaffer Bob Schaffer Mark Udall (D)
2004 Pete Coors Pete Coors Ken Salazar (D)
1996 Gale Norton Wayne Allard Wayne Allard (R)

Republican activists remember this laughable record by the NRSC, and those who don’t will surely be reminded repeatedly.

Brauchler, meanwhile, has come across to top donors as arrogant, entitled, and bit of a windbag, and there is legitimate worry that he is unprepared for the type of onslaught he would face in trying to unseat Bennet (NRSC officials don’t really know Brauchler and are relying heavily on Gardner’s opinion). Brauchler doesn’t have an impeccable resume – remember, he first ran for Arapahoe County DA in 2008 and got crushed in a GOP Primary – and donors are more comfortable with Scheffel, who has been doing the majority of the fundraising for the GOP Senate Majority Fund over the last couple of years and has a track record on issues that won’t be a surprise to business leaders.

State Senate Majority Leader Mark Scheffel is being heavily recruited for the 2016 Senate race.

State Senate Majority Leader Mark Scheffel is being heavily recruited for the 2016 Senate race.

Brauchler’s preference for Governor over U.S. Senate is also working against him; top Republican politicos know that Brauchler would prefer to run for Governor in 2018, and while nobody faults him for taking advantage of an opportunity to run for Senate, they know this isn’t where his heart really lies. Many top GOP donors would prefer that Brauchler run for re-election as DA in 2016 before jumping into the Governor’s race in 2018; the logic is hard to argue against, because Brauchler’s political career will be all but dead if he loses a Republican Primary next June.

Q: Would Scheffel run against Brauchler in a Primary? What about Tim Neville and Robert Blaha?

A: From what we understand, Scheffel has received some pretty significant promises of support if he gets in the Senate race. It’s not yet clear if Scheffel would balk at participating in a bloody GOP Primary, but the projected makeup of the Republican field does favor the Douglas County Republican. State Sen. Tim Neville has been telling donors that he is definitely in the 2016 Senate race, and he’s not going to change his mind based on what someone from the NRSC says. Blaha probably wouldn’t still run in this projected field, but a three-way Primary with Scheffel, Brauchler, and Neville still doesn’t look good for Brauchler.

Hold on to those rolling office chairs, friends – especially if you are a Republican hoping to knock off Sen. Bennet in 2016. There may be a few surprises left before the campaigning really gets going.

Why I am Running Against Ken Buck

Why would a Democrat living in an extremely conservative district decide to run against an incumbent who won with 66% of the vote?

Let me explain.

I am running for Congress because there there is currently no one in Congress who represents the interests of the majority of people who live in Colorado’s Fourth Congressional District (CD4). In fact, Eastern Colorado has not had a voice in Congress for most of the past 40 years.

The problem is that most of the voters don’t realize that they are not being represented. But let’s look at the facts.

If CD4 had a representative, he or she would vote for the passage of trade bills that promote agriculture, including the TPP, Country of Origin Label legislation, and others. He would be working to promote all of the businesses in Colorado, not just gas and oil. This Representative would recognize that contaminated ground water is useless to farmers, ranchers, and families. He would understand that small business owners need reliable Internet access, good roads, and someone who will work for intelligent, responsible regulations.

If we had a representative in Congress, then he or she would be addressing the 27% poverty rate that exists in Lamar, or the 22% of Greeley that live below the poverty line, or the 14% poverty rate in Longmont. But instead of representing these constituents, the Representative from CD4 voted to give a tax break to that 0.002% of Americans with estates of over $5.4 million. It seems unlikely that any of those Americans would live in Eastern Colorado. Our representatives have consistently voted for tax breaks for Americans who do not live in CD4 while neglecting the very real poverty issues of this part of the state.

In Crowley County, 1 in 3 adults under the age of 65 have no health insurance. In Weld County, 1 in 10 adults are uninsured. Someone who represented the people of CD4 would be working to solve this problem. Instead, our Republican representatives have consistently voted to deny health insurance for these Coloradans – and have joked about having done so.

If CD4 had a Congressman who advocated for their needs, then people would be less likely to die on Highway 287, a road with heavy truck traffic which should be an Interstate but isn’t. A Congressman representing this area would fight for the economic and safety benefits of such an Interstate. If we had a Representative, our farmers would not have to whisper a prayer every time they drove a truck full of wheat across a structurally deficient bridge or road.

If CD4 had a Representative, he or she would be working to protect public schools instead of looking for ways to siphon taxpayer money away from our community schools and into private, for-profit enterprises. Rural Coloradans tend to think that this issue does not effect them because there are no physical private schools in their area. What they don’t realize is that the schools in their communities are still being drained when students leave to go to online schools. Schools in Colorado lose, on average, about $6300 every time a student leaves to enroll in an online school, a charter school, or a private school. A Representative of Eastern Colorado would be working to improve our public schools, not to destroy them.

A Representative of CD4 would fight for water rights for farmers and ranchers. He would not work to kill off programs for wind and solar power – abundant resources in CD4 – but would work to promote renewable energy. He would recognize the boom and bust cycle of the oil industry and would be working for energy sources that are economically stable and environmentally safe.

Someone who represented CD4 would also represent the immigrant families who work in our fields and businesses. His attitude towards immigrants who might be undocumented would be innocent until proven guilty and not the other way around. He would create ways for immigrants to come into American society. He would not create even more barriers to citizenship.

Someone who represented all of the people of Eastern Colorado would not force a woman to carry the child of her rapist. He would not want to shut down facilities that provide reproductive health care services. He would recognize that decisions about contraception are best made by families, not by employers or politicians.

Eastern Colorado needs someone who will represent all of the people of this area. Not out of state donors. Not oil companies and companies that want to have a monopoly on agricultural products. And not the extremely wealthy Americans who do not even live in this district.

CD4 has been without a voice for too long.
Now is the time to speak up.

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Code Orange: Will Colorado Delegation Back Boehner as Speaker?

Sad John Boehner

Sad John Boehner

Ohio Republican Rep. John Boehner is facing a critical time in his fifth year as Speaker of the House, and there are persistent rumors out of Washington D.C. that the right-wing of the Republican Party has had their fill of his Orangeness. As Politico reports today, the constant speculation about Boehner’s political future may be exacting a heavy toll on Congressional Republicans:

The only two viable potential replacements for John Boehner as speaker of the House say they back the Ohio Republican and will oppose any effort to remove him from power. But other high-ranking Republicans are testing the waters should the embattled speaker be forced out.

In a pair of statements to POLITICO, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and Ways and Means Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) forcefully backed Boehner and called for an end to the intraparty warfare crippling the House Republican Conference as it faces a possible government shutdown on Oct. 1…

…Boehner’s tenuous hold on power, exacerbated by conservative demands to cut off federal funding to Planned Parenthood, has set off some jockeying for position in the upper ranks of the House GOP hierarchy should he fall.

Several GOP lawmakers have approached McCarthy, majority leader since mid-2014, to discuss Boehner’s fate. The California Republican isn’t entertaining that talk or planning a run, but a number of other Republicans in leadership have started to formally test their own political viability inside the GOP conference in the event that Boehner is forced to give up his post.

Of course, this isn’t the first time that Boehner has been rumored to be on the way out as Speaker, though the rumblings seem more persistent than ever. If disgruntled Republican lawmakers decide to file a motion to “vacate the chair,” Boehner’s fate could rest in the hands of Democrats. If such a motion is filed, Democrats could choose to stay out of the fight by voting “present,” at which point Boehner could hold onto his Speaker’s gavel with a simple majority of Republican votes. If every Republican House member casts a vote, Boehner would need 124 votes to remain Speaker.

Rep. Mike Coffman (R) could end up being a swing vote for the GOP caucus.

Rep. Mike Coffman (R) could end up being a swing vote for the GOP caucus.

If Boehner is indeed challenged as Speaker, how would Colorado’s Congressional delegation vote? We won’t try to guess as to what Democrats might decide, so we’re really talking about 4 votes: Reps. Scott Tipton, Ken Buck, Doug Lamborn, and Mike Coffman. 

Congressmen Ken Buck (Greeley) and Doug Lamborn (Colorado Springs) are not big Boehner fans, and both would likely vote for a new House Speaker if Boehner is challenged.

On the other side, Rep. Scott Tipton (Cortez) and Rep. Mike Coffman (Aurora) would likely support Boehner. Coffman’s decision is perhaps the most interesting to watch in this case; Coffman needs the GOP establishment to stand behind him in his own race for re-election in 2016, which is why he eagerly signed up for the controversial “Patriot Program” organized by the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC). However, Coffman has started to take public shots at Boehner over the scandal-ridden Aurora VA Hospital project, and there’s no guarantee that he would stick with Boehner if a strong GOP challenge was organized to take him down.

Republican leaders are well aware of the distraction of ongoing speculation about Boehner’s future, but right-wing leaders may not back down from their commitment to defunding Planned Parenthood — even if it leads to the second government shutdown in three years. Coffman has flipped and flopped on virtually ever major issue since he was first elected to Congress in 2008, so if he ends up as a targeted swing vote in an election for Speaker, all bets are off.