The Agenda: Government Small Enough To Fit In Your Uterus

komen-planned-parenthood4-1The AP’s Kristen Wyatt has a great story up today on this year’s widely-anticipated battles in the Colorado legislature over–wait for it–abortion politics. After Cory Gardner successfully gummed this issue to death in 2014, it’s an issue that many Democrats are fatigued at the prospect of having to argue yet again.

Unfortunately, Republicans are fresh off a year of strident agitation on the issue, powered by the release of heavily edited undercover videos that falsely allege the organization “sold” fetal tissue samples used in medical research. The gap between perception and reality on this issue between the pro- and anti-choice factions has probably never been wider than it is today, and the rhetoric from anti-abortion activists in recent months is a major factor in incidents of violence like the domestic terror attack on a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs last November.

Conflict-weary Democrats, there will be no relief in 2016:

In the U.S. Senate race, Tim Neville, a Republican state senator from Littleton, kicked off his campaign against Democratic incumbent Sen. Michael Bennet by talking about abortion politics.

“When an organization like Planned Parenthood ignores the law, kills the unborn, sells their body parts for profit and we have both parties that can’t even come together to end this tragedy, we have an issue with leadership,” Neville told supporters, referencing videos taken by anti-abortion activists they said showed Planned Parenthood personnel negotiating the sale of fetal organs…

The state’s senior senator won his last contest in large part because of reproductive rights. Bennet faced a conservative Tea Party favorite in 2010, one who appeared to be winning in polls until Democrats pounded him for supporting ballot measures to ban abortion by defining fertilized embryos as people, a concept described as “personhood.”

Bennet’s victory ensured that Democrats for the next five years would try tying Republicans to the “personhood” movement. The focus on reproductive rights grew so intense that during the 2014 Senate campaign, reporters and Republicans derisively dubbed former Sen. Mark Udall “Mark Uterus.” Udall was defeated for a second term by Republican Cory Gardner, who once supported a “personhood” measure but convincingly told the public he’d changed his mind.

The Udall defeat was seen by many as the last time Colorado Democrats would focus so heavily on reproductive rights. But events have dictated otherwise. [Pols emphasis]

Sen. Cory Gardner.

Sen. Cory Gardner.

As we have written about at length in this space, the 2014 defeat of incumbent Sen. Mark Udall by Republican Cory Gardner left local Democrats extremely wary of using the choice issue as an electoral wedge. The rationale for this tends to boil down to criticism of Udall’s dour and negative message, which focused heavily on Gardner’s dishonesty on abortion without articulating his own positive case for re-election.

But that ignores something very important: Gardner’s successful and very forceful case that Republicans were “no threat to abortion rights.” Gardner’s after-the-fact disavowal of the “Personhood” abortion bans he had previously supported was used as cover for his continuing support for functionally equivalent abortion bans at the federal level. Longtime abortion opponent Rep. Mike Coffman used Planned Parenthood’s logo in an ad. Aware of the danger, the entire Republican media establishment from national pundits to local surrogates backed Gardner’s new image against all common sense–and became unlikely promoters of their party’s supposed “inability” to curtail abortion rights.

In only a year, this fiction has been completely undone by events. As it turned out, national anti-choice activists had no intention of slowing their campaign to ban abortion, and used the undercover videos attacking Planned Parenthood to ramp the anger on the religious right back up to a fever pitch. Sen. Cory Gardner’s inevitable votes against abortion within weeks of taking office could’t be spun. In 2016 just like last year, Republicans in the Colorado legislature have a long list of anti-abortion bills planned, starting with a bill to make abortion a felony “beginning at conception.”

For years, the Colorado GOP’s obsession with restricting abortion rights was a major political problem, with the cost measurable in punishing electoral defeats in 2008, 2010, and 2012. Gardner’s deceptive victory in 2014 might have changed the game in the long term, leaving Democrats unwilling to confront Republicans for fear of being pigeonholed in reverse by denial and feigned exasperation.

But today, 2014 looks like the exception–and Gardner has lulled the GOP into a very dangerous false security.

Women’s Media Center Slams Denver Post on Choice Coverage

UPDATE: The Colorado Independent’s Kyle Harris bro-ports:

In The Denver Post, 38 percent of the bylines of stories about reproductive issues were from women, while 53 percent were from men. Regarding sources, The Denver Post ranked second to last of the outlets examined: 28 percent of the sources speaking about reproductivee issues were women, 52 percent were men, 13 percent were attributed to organizations, and the rest were unknown.

The only publication with fewer women quoted about reproductive issues was The Wall Street Journal.

The irony is not lost on The Colorado Independent that the reporter of this story identifies as male.

—–

Denver Post Political Editor Chuck Plunkett.

Denver Post Political Editor Chuck Plunkett.

A release from the Women’s Media Center today calls attention to an obvious problem in mainstream media coverage of women’s reproductive choice issues–or at least it should be obvious, though we suspect it won’t be to some even after reading:

“When it comes to stories about abortion and contraception, women’s voices are systematically stifled – as writers and as sources,” said Julie Burton, president of the Women’s Media Center. Burton noted, “In articles about elections and reproductive issues, men’s voices prevail, especially in coverage of presidential campaigns, with male reporters telling 67 percent of all presidential election stories related to abortion and contraception.”

The gender of the reporter appears to affect whom they choose to quote and how they cover the story. WMC’s research shows that female journalists quote women more often than their male counterparts, while quotes from male sources predominate in articles written by men. Gloria Steinem, co-founder of the Women’s Media Center noted, “Since women play a greater role in reproduction, it would make sense for women to be the majority of the sources and authorities in its coverage.”

WMC research shows male voices dominate reproductive issues coverage as journalists and as sources. Female journalists wrote just 37 percent of articles about reproductive issues while their male counterparts penned 52 percent. Another 11 percent did not have bylines. Quotes from men account for 41 percent of all quotes in articles about reproductive issues while quotes from women account for just 33 percent.

“The American public — and especially women — deserve accurate, informed and experienced media coverage on reproductive health, state and federal legislation, abortion and contraception,” said Gloria Steinem. “This research is offered in the hope of increasing public information about reproductive justice — which means the right to have or not to have children — as a basic human right.”

The study looked at the authorship and use of sources in articles about reproductive issues in American politics at a number of leading daily newspapers around the nation. Colorado’s newspaper of record The Denver Post scored very low among those examined for both. Only 38% of stories in the Post on reproductive issues were authored by women while 53% were authored by men (the remainder had no byline at all). In terms of at least quoting women in stories about women’s reproductive issues, which you would think would be a priority, the Post did even worse: only 28% of such stories uses women sources. The only paper surveyed that did worse in this regard was the arch-conservative Wall Street Journal.

As we’ve discussed at length in this space, politically skewed coverage of abortion politics in local mainstream media has had a number of negative effects in recent years. These effects include Cory Gardner’s deceptive 2014 election victory, and an obfuscation of the clear connection between extreme anti-abortion rhetoric from Republican politicians and acts of violence like the domestic terror attack on a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs. When we make this assertion, it is frequently attacked as sour grapes in belated defense of the losing Democratic incumbent in 2014, Sen. Mark Udall.

Well folks, here’s evidence that it’s more than “sour grapes.” Here is evidence of a very real problem.

Emily’s List Endorses Meg Froelich for Colorado House

MEDIA RELEASE

Date 1/20/15

Contact: Meg Froelich, (720)570-6337 meg@froeforco.com

Kulsoom Jafri, (202)419-1056, kjafri@emilyslist.org

 

 

EMILY’s List Endorses Meg Froelich for Colorado House District 3

Three million member group to lend communications and financial support

 

 

GREENWOOD VILLAGE, COLO. – Longtime Arapahoe County leader Meg Froelich was endorsed today by EMILY’s List in her campaign for Colorado House District 3 including Cherry Hills, Englewood, Greenwood Village and Sheridan. EMILY’s List is the nation’s largest resource for women in politics.

 

Meg Froelich has proven that she will be a strong advocate and strategic leader for the district through her work as Greenwood City councilwoman and NARAL Pro-Choice Colorado board member and interim executive director,” said Lucinda Guinn, EMILY’s List Vice President of Campaigns. “The EMILY’s List community is delighted to devote our resources to elect Meg, a strong supporter of gender equality, women’s reproductive rights, and health care for all.”

 

EMILY’s List works to elect pro-choice Democratic women to national, state and local office so families in Colorado and across the nation can benefit from the open-minded, productive contributions that women have consistently made in office. EMILY’s List began in 1985 and elected Barbara Mikulski in 1986 as the first woman US Senator in her own right. With three million members, the organization has helped elect more than 800 women to elected office.

 

“I’ve lived, worked, and raised kids in Arapahoe County for many years, and I’ve seen the struggles and needs of the families here, especially working women. As a longtime advocate for equal pay for equal work, paid sick leave and reproductive rights, I’m honored to have the support of EMILY’s List in my race for House District 3,” said candidate Meg Froelich. “These are woman’s issues and family issues – core values of fairness and opportunity we share as Coloradans. We need an economy that works for everyone, including a diverse district like this one. And as the representative for the families in HD3, I will fight to make that happen.”

 

 

# # #

Top 10 Stories of 2015 #3: The Rise of Tim Neville

Could this be the makeup of Colorado's U.S. Senate delegation in 2016?

Sen. Cory Gardner (left) poses with state Sen. Tim Neville. Could this be the makeup of Colorado’s U.S. Senate delegation in 2016?

With the right algorithm, you can calculate almost anything correctly. Using the correct combination of data and logic, a statistical junkie can crunch numbers to make fairly-accurate predictions and analysis about everything from NFL games to business profits and losses.

Politics is different. You can gather all the data you want about politics, but it’s much more difficult to account for the power of perception. Power perceived is power achieved, which is a nice way to sum up one of the biggest political stories of 2015: The Rise of Tim Neville.

Neville served one year in the State Senate in 2012 (he was appointed by a vacancy committee) before reapportionment left him a legislator without a district. In 2014, Neville ran for Senate in SD-16, defeating Democratic incumbent Jeanne Nicholson in one of the most competitive races of the cycle – and helping Republicans capture a one-seat majority in the State Senate.

When the 2015 legislative session convened, Neville wielded the gavel as the Chair of both the Senate Finance Committee and the Joint Technology Committee, but he was not selected by his caucus to an official leadership position. Neville lacked the seniority to earn one of the top six positions in the Senate caucus (President, President Pro Tempore, Majority Leader, Assistant Majority Leader, Majority Caucus Chair, and Majority Whip), but that didn’t prevent him from taking control.

By the time the 2015 session came to an end, Neville still didn’t have a cool leadership title – but he had something better. Neville had become the true leader of the Republican caucus, in both chambers, and he had the juice to force Senate President Bill Cadman to grant a late-bill exception for a politically dubious piece of legislation requiring ultrasounds for women considering an abortion. As we wrote in this space in late April, Tim Neville is the Real Senate President:

Neville has emerged as the most prominent Republican of the 2015 legislative session, leading the charge on the controversial anti-vaxxer “Parent’s Bill of Rights,” among other lost causes. The Neville Nutters have been positioning themselves as something of a political “dynasty” in recent years, including Tim’s sons, Rep. Patrick Neville, and Joe Neville, a top lobbyist for the Rocky Mountain Gun Owners (whose Executive Director, Dudley Brown, thinks he owns the Senate); as well as sister-in-law Julie Williams of the Jefferson County School Board. It’s probably not a coincidence that all of the sponsors of SB-285 are also known backers of RMGO.

Senate President Bill Cadman does the bidding of state Sen. Tim Neville.

Senate President Bill Cadman does the bidding of state Sen. Tim Neville.

Thanks in part to his uncompromising right-wing beliefs, no Republican lawmaker made more headlines in 2015 than Neville. Senate President Bill Cadman is term-limited in 2016, and if Republicans are able to keep control of the State Senate, we wouldn’t bet against Neville becoming Senate President in title as well as action.

That is, of course, unless Neville finds himself in a different Senate body next January.

When Congressman Mike Coffman (R-Aurora) announced in June that he would not run for U.S. Senate in 2016, we suggested in this space that Neville could be an interesting candidate for the Republican Senate nomination and the right to take on incumbent Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Denver):

We have no idea whatsoever if Neville has even contemplated a U.S. Senate campaign, but it’s not difficult to see how you could make an argument for him here. Neville received more publicity than any other Republican in the Colorado legislature this year, and he doesn’t have to worry about re-election until 2018. Neville has a good base of conservative support from the religious right and the Rocky Mountain Gun Owners (RMGO), so he’s already well positioned to win a Republican Primary — and once you become the GOP nominee in a competitive state like Colorado, there’s always a chance that national groups take notice and decide to jump onboard. Look at this from Neville’s perspective…what’s the downside?

Lo and behold, by the end of the summer, Neville was moving confidently in the direction of the U.S. Senate at the same time “establishment” Republicans continued their frantic search for a candidate who matched up well against Bennet. While Arapahoe County District Attorney George Brauchler was hemming and hawing about a potential Senate bid, Neville quietly announced a statewide “listening tour” to lay the groundwork for a U.S. Senate campaign of his own.

When Neville formally kicked off his U.S. Senate campaign in early January, he made it clear that he would be running as a right-wing Republican in right-wing Republican clothing, promising to focus his campaign on divisive issues such as abortion and gun rights. Neville can do this because he has spent years cultivating relationships with hard-right groups and individuals who share his zeal and ideals. He is a less bombastic version of Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, who has risen to the top tier of Republican Presidential candidates because he so openly defies any attempt at bipartisanship in the U.S. Senate.

Neville has strong support from the religious right and hardline conservatives (including Tea Party enthusiasts), and he has the financial backing of prominent anti-abortion and gun rights organizations. That may not be enough to win a General Election against Bennet, but it’s more than enough to capture the Republican nomination in the June Primary. The field of GOP candidates for Senate is rapidly increasing (we’re up to eight, at last count), but none of those candidates can lay out a strategy for getting past Neville first.

It would be difficult to name another Colorado politician who had a better year in 2015 than Tim Neville. If all goes according to plan, it will be difficult to name somoene who had a better year in 2016, either.

Top 10 Stories of 2015 #4: Terror Attack at Planned Parenthood Clinic Rips Scab Off Abortion Politics

Alleged domestic terrorist Robert Dear. Photo via CSPD

Alleged domestic terrorist Robert Dear. Photo via CSPD

We wrote earlier in our 2015 top stories recap about Sen. Cory Gardner’s audacious flip-flop on abortion in the 2014 U.S. Senate election, and how the defense of Gardner by a large segment of Colorado’s political press and pundit corps was discredited in 2015 as Gardner repeatedly cast votes that made liars of his defenders. In Colorado politics as in Washington D.C., “mainstream” Republican abortion politics follow a predictable pattern of denial in election season, followed by an intense push to restrict abortion rights in off years.

2015 may be the last year this cycle is allowed to continue in Colorado.

After Gardner’s U.S. Senate victory in 2014, in which both his and by extension the GOP’s anti-abortion agenda was successfully downplayed, abortion figured centrally in Colorado politics in 2015. During the legislative session, Republican lawmakers once again introduced a bevy of anti-choice bills, from outright bans on abortion to the kinds of “regulations” that have had the effect of closing most abortion clinics in states like Texas. The summer-long release of heavily edited undercover videos from an anti-abortion group linked to Operation Rescue re-inflamed right-wing passions, and sent Republicans at every level of government in America into a fresh hyperbolic tizzy over the evils of the so-called “abortion industry.”

Anyone who actually believed the indignant downplaying of abortion in 2014 by Colorado Republicans could see in 2015’s contrived freakout stone-cold proof of the lie they were fed. But it was about to be cast in even sharper relief.

On November 27th of 2015, a man described as an ardently right-wing loner with a history of criminal trouble appeared at the Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs and began shooting. Clinic workers quickly moved staff and patients behind locked doors. Responding police officers were shot, and an afternoon-long standoff ensued. Just before the 5PM newscasts began, Robert Dear surrendered to police just as they prepared to storm the clinic.

Robert Dear killed three people at the Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs on November 27th, one police officer and two civilians. Five more police officers and four other civilians were shot but survived. During the standoff and immediately after Dear’s surrender, Republican lawmakers local and across the nation tried to disavow any connection between their politics and Dear’s killing spree—even claiming that Dear was a “transgendered leftist activist” based on a typographical error in his voter registration. Local Rep. Kit Roupe falsely claimed that Dear’s actions were “a failed bank robbery gone wild.”

roupebankrobberyWithin a few days, these denials of any connection between Dear and the extreme rhetoric against Planned Parenthood in recent months had completely fallen apart. Under questioning, Dear readily confessed to having targeted the clinic, claiming his motivation was “no more baby parts.” Dear announced at his arraignment hearing that he is a “warrior for the babies,” and proudly proclaimed his (lack of) guilt. Subsequent interviews with neighbors and associates made it clear that Dear was a radicalized right-wing domestic terrorist who knew exactly what he was doing and why.

Dear’s terror attack on the Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs threw the anti-abortion right wing that had previously been riding high on the strength of the undercover video campaign against the organization into chaos. While nobody should consider Republican anti-abortion rhetoric criminally responsible for Dear’s actions, the link between that rhetoric and Dear’s violence is undeniable. The claims in the undercover videos attacking Planned Parenthood have been thoroughly discredited with no acknowledgement from Republicans who spent most of 2015 demagoguing them. The extreme rhetoric used by Republicans to describe those misleading videos can easily be construed as incitement to violence.

But so far in 2016, the anti-Planned Parenthood crusade shows no signs of slowing—a potentially marked contrast to 2014, when Republicans sought to bury the issue through the election. Not even this terror attack on Planned Parenthood appears to have slowed the appetite among Colorado Republicans to attack abortion rights this year, even as their counterparts in Washington, D.C. nervously retrench. We expect to see the full range of anti-choice legislation, gratuitous “fact finding” hearings, and other public grandstands by Colorado Republicans to keep the abortion fight center stage through the 2016 elections.

If they keep to that course, the abortion issue could yet produce a greater electoral disaster for Colorado Republicans than anything that has come before. And in that event, the “triumph” of 2014’s campaign of deception on abortion will look like something else entirely.

Bill on tap to restrict fetal tissue research and give women burial option for fetus

(They just can’t help themselves – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

In a article at the end of last year, Durango Herald reporter Peter Marcus reported that Colorado Republicans plan to continue introducing anti-abortion legislation during the upcoming legislative session, some of it specifically targeting Planned Parenthood. Marcus reported:

This year, some Republicans are discussing measures to curb Planned Parenthood’s financial resources – though it does not receive direct state funding – while also forcing an investigation. Republicans also want to impose restrictions on fetal-tissue research programs and require abortion providers to counsel women on cremation and burial options.

This legislative effort to “require abotion providers to counsel women on cremation and burial options” got my attention, as it appears to be a new appraoch here–though it’s been tried nationally.

It turns out that Americans United for Life, a national anti-abortion group that provides state legislators with model legislation, has a bill posted on its website with details on what such counseling might look like and whay it would be proposed.

Part of the reason for the bill, as you can read below at number 6, would be to stop fetal-tissue research.

..the purposes of this Act are to:

(1) Ensure that the mother of a deceased unborn infant is given the opportunity to bury or dispose of the bodily remains of her infant with
dignity and respect;
(2) Require institutions where deceased unborn infants are delivered or where unborn infants are aborted to provide a dignified final disposition of the
bodily remains of these infants;
(3) Require fetal death reports for all fetal deaths as defined in this Act;
(4) Ensure that parents of all stillborn infants are offered the opportunity to obtain a [Certificate of Birth Resulting in Stillbirth];
(5) Prohibit the sale, transfer, distribution, or other unlawful disposition of an
infant, an unborn infant, or bodily remains resulting from an abortion;
(6) Prohibit the use of bodily remains resulting from an abortion for experimentation; and
(7) Ensure that the bodily remains of an unborn infant resulting from an occurrence other than an abortion are not sold, transferred, or distributed for experimentation without the mother’s informed, written consent.

We don’t know whether Colorado’s bill, if one is introduced, will include all of this, but it appears state Republicans will continue their focus on stopping fetal-tissue research in Colorado.

Coffman Wants to Stop 2,200 Women from Going to the Planned Parenthood Clinic in his District

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Still from Rep. Mike Coffman's 2014 ad using Planned Parenthood's logo.

Still from Rep. Mike Coffman’s 2014 ad using Planned Parenthood’s logo.

Rep. Mike Coffman voted again Wednesday to defund Planned Parenthood, making it seven times that he’s voted to strip funding from the women’s health organization.

So you wonder, what does Coffman have to say to the 2,200 women who would no longer be able to go to the Aurora Planned Parenthood clinic if it loses federal money?

We don’t know, because his office won’t return my calls.

You hope Coffman has thought about this, because the clinic currently offers these 2,200 women basic healthcare services like HIV and STD tests, birth control, breast and cervical cancer screenings and more, according to a Planned Parenthood Votes Colorado spokeswoman.

And that’s just the Aurora clinic, located in the womb of Coffman’s own district. Across Colorado, if the Aurora Republican has his way, about 80,000 women, men, and young people would lose access to Planned Parenthood health services they rely on if federal funding were lost, says Planned Parenthood in a news release yesterday.

“In his first vote of the year, Rep. Coffman voted to roll back care for millions of patients in this country who rely on compassionate care at Planned Parenthood’s health centers,” said Sarah Taylor-Nanista, PPVC Vice President of Public Affairs in a statement, referring to Coffman’s latest vote for a bill to defund Planned Parenthood, which was vetoed by Obama today. “We need our elected officials to put the health and well being of their constituents first, not sideline good policy for the sake of politics.”

Maybe Coffman has another option in mind for these low-income women on Medicaid and a federal cancer-screening program? Maybe some of them could find alternative to Planned Parenthood? But all of them? And where? How far would they have to travel?

In any case, what’s Coffman’s plan for these women in his district? What does he have to offer them? Or would he prefer to cover up the fact that they exist? Or does he just figure Obama will veto any bill that defunds Planned Parenthood, so Coffman doesn’t have to worry about real-life alternatives?

And will Coffman run his plans, if he has any, by the 2,200 women who now attend the Aurora Planned Parenthood clinic to see how they feel about it?

Coffman won’t tell me. But maybe he’ll take a call from another reporter.

NARAL report: national anti-choice groups targeting Colorado

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

prolifevsprochoiceNARAL Pro-Choice Colorado issued a report yesterday exposing the legislative influence in Colorado of two national anti-choice organizations, Americans United for Life (AUL) and Alliance Defending Freedom(ADF), as well as the state-wide network of “crisis pregnancy centers.”

During the last legislative session, five bills and one resolution were modeled on AUL draft legislation, and AUL staff testified at numerous committee hearings, according to the report, titled “Against Our Will: How National Anti-Choice Groups are Targeting the Pro-Choice Majority in Colorado.

None of these bills had much chance of becoming law, as pro-choice Democrats control the governor’s office and state house.

But two of the proposed laws generated serious media attention: a measure requiring women to have an ultrasound prior to obtaining an abotion and a “fetal personhood” bill giving legal rights to a fetus, potentially threatening abortion rights, and allowing prosecutors to bring murder charges if a fetus is destroyed during criminal acts.

These two bills  were co-sponsored by key Republicans in the state, including the leading GOP candidate for U.S. Senate, State Sen. Tim Neville, and Westminster State Sen., Laura Woods, whose race next year will likely determine control of the state senate.

(more…)

Tim Neville Kicks Off 2016 U.S. Senate Campaign

Sen. Cory Gardner, left, poses for an awkward photo with state Sen. Tim Neville

Sen. Cory Gardner, left, poses for an awkward photo with state Sen. Tim Neville

As the Denver Post’s John Frank reports, conservative Republican U.S. Senate candidate Tim Neville officially kicked off his run yesterday, charging ahead while other prospective candidates are still piecing their campaigns together:

“We all know we have a lot of problems in Washington. When an organization like Planned Parenthood ignores the law, kills the unborn, sells their body parts for profit and we have both parties that can’t even come together to end this tragedy, we have an issue with leadership,” he said referencing some of the debunked claims based on videos about the health care provider. Neville said he would support a bill to declare that life begins at conception and outlaw abortions.

In a roughly 20-minute speech, Neville went on to blast Democrats — particularly President Barack Obama and U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet — on a litany of issues, including immigration, Iran, energy regulation, Obamacare, Common Core, unions, spending, religious freedom, gay marriage and the Second Amendment.

“It is extremely important that we never waver in our Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms,” the Littleton lawmaker said in the first stop of a statewide tour to kickoff the campaign.

At this point, Neville is the candidate to beat in the Republican Senate primary. Joining Neville at his campaign launch yesterday were a number of upstart conservative Colorado legislators, including Reps. Lori Saine and Justin Everett and Sen. Laura Woods. Everett’s support for Neville in the primary was broadcast last month after Everett started taking pre-emptive shots at fellow Rep. Jon Keyser, who may be about to announce a 17th Street establishment-backed run of his own.

A similar dynamic may be setting up in the 2016 U.S. Senate primary as occurred in 2010. That year Ken Buck was the solid favorite of the conservative Republican party base, and defeated Washington GOP establishment supported former Lt. Gov. Jane Norton on his way to a very narrow loss to Sen. Michael Bennet. As we’ve discussed in the past, the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) has a terrible record when it comes to picking candidates in Colorado primary races, and the GOP rank-and-file in our state is almost as contemptuous of D.C. Republicans as they are of Democrats.

Given the tremendous bad blood between the various factions within the Colorado GOP today, there’s no unifying force to rally support to any establishment candidate–even less than existed in 2010, when Dick Wadhams could at least cuss people out. The situation is absolutely ripe for a candidate like Neville to lock down the Republican primary electorate, and fend off anyone the NRSC or other establishment GOP kingmakers decide they like better.

Because more than anyone else in the race, Tim Neville represents what his party stands for today.

Top Ten Stories of 2015 #7: Cory Gardner Makes Liars Of Everybody

Sen. Cory Gardner.

Sen. Cory Gardner.

By far the biggest defeat suffered by Colorado Democrats in 2014–and arguably the biggest loss for Democrats in this state since retaking control of the state legislature in 2004 and starting their roll toward political dominance here–was the narrow election of Cory Gardner to the U.S. Senate. Gardner’s defeat of Democratic incumbent Sen. Mark Udall was a major reversal of fortune for Colorado Democrats after a string of victories both in line and in defiance of national political trends of recent years.

But in 2015, Gardner showed that his victory would come at a very high cost for his fellow Colorado Republicans, and a local press and pundit establishment that squandered enormous credibility on Gardner’s election. Since taking office a year ago, Sen. Gardner has swiftly proven his critics right on a range of issues that were key to his successful Senate campaign. At the same time he proved that his defenders on the campaign trail in 2014 were absolutely wrong, to the point of being complicit in a major deception that is now plain for all to see.

And that’s going to be a problem next time they have to sell someone like Cory Gardner.

When Gardner entered the U.S. Senate race in the spring of 2014, his first public act was to announce that he was no longer a supporter of the “Personhood” abortion bans that had repeatedly failed in statewide votes as ballot initiatives. Gardner was on the record steadfastly supporting these initiatives before they became a symbol of Republican backwardness on the issue, and his decision to walk back his prior strident opposition to abortion was obviously calculated and timed.

And it worked. Democrats, convinced they had Gardner pinned, pressed the attack single-mindedly over Gardner’s flip-flop, certain that he wouldn’t survive the contradiction. But not only did Gardner survive, he successfully turned Democratic fury over this shameless political dodge into an asset. Everyone knew Gardner was lying about his “change of heart,” as evidenced by his continued support for a functionally equivalent abortion ban at the federal level called the Life at Conception Act. But Gardner’s campaign brilliantly succeeded at turning Democratic frustration over their inability to “get Gardner” into a Moby Dick-style obsession in the eyes of the pundits.  Supposedly impartial journalists took up Gardner’s rejoinder “Mark Uterus,” freely broadcasting the new conventional wisdom that Udall’s attacks on Gardner over abortion had become a “tedious refrain.”

But history didn’t end with Gardner’s narrow victory over Sen. Udall. The insistence from the media and pundit class that Gardner “would post no threat to abortion rights” was immediately put to the test in 2015, and Gardner failed that test. In retrospect this should not have been a surprise, but Gardner’s repeated votes in favor of new abortion restrictions as a freshman U.S. Senator–especially in the context of the GOP’s year-long grandstand against Planned Parenthood last year–made liars of Gardner’s mainstream media defenders from 2014. After weeks of debunked hidden-camera video footage, investigation after fruitless investigation of Planned Parenthood by the federal and state level, and then the domestic terror attack on a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs…how can anyone read what the pundits said about this issue in 2014 with a straight face?

Folks, not only were the pundits wrong about Gardner, they helped him pull off a sweeping deception of the people of Colorado. The damage to the credibility of outlets like the Denver Post who endorsed Gardner in defiance of all of their own stated values is easy to understand, and it is not being forgotten as they surely must have hoped. Such provable deception as Gardner’s campaign and subsequent actions as Senator does not simply become part of the background noise of public cynicism. It harms institutions we rely on as a society. It breeds contempt for our political system, and a sense of hopelessness that reduces participation. We know many Democrats were and remain eager to lay Gardner’s victory at the feet of his opponent, but what happened was bigger than Mark Udall.

It took a village to give us Cory Gardner.

Perhaps the only upshot in a story no one should be proud of is this: after the exasperated insistence from Colorado’s pundit class that Gardner would not be exactly what he turned out to be, voters will be less inclined to listen to them next time.

Yes, Republicans Are Standing Behind JoAnn Windholz

GOP Rep. JoAnn Windholz (center).

GOP Rep. JoAnn Windholz (center).

The Colorado Independent’s Marianne Goodland updates the ongoing controversy over freshman GOP Rep. JoAnn Windholz’s remarks in the wake of the Planned Parenthood domestic terror attack in Colorado Springs. Readers will recall Windholz very pointedly asserted that Planned Parenthood is the “real culprit” behind the shootings, a statement she later removed from social media but has to this date not apologized for or even publicly commented on.

Windholz’s comments spread nationally with the story of the Planned Parenthood attack, and the backlash has been fairly intense. Windholz won her HD-30 seat by the narrowest of margins in 2014, an election much more favorable to Republicans than 2016 is expected to be. While some Democrats have pushed for a speedy recall of Windholz, more strategic-minded Democrats believe it would be better to face this weakened opponent in the general election.

The unknown variable in this is how Windholz’s fellow Republicans would decide to proceed–by forcing her resignation, or doubling down in support of their incumbent in order to hold a seat they have to hold to retain any hope of flipping the House next year. And that’s where Goodland picks up the story:

Rep. JoAnn Windholz still has her party’s support in the 2016 race after she blamed Planned Parenthood for inciting the Nov. 27 rampage at a Colorado Springs clinic, referring to the health organization as the “real culprit” in the murder of three.

Adams County GOP leaders Warren Main and Gary Mikes lauded her record as a lawmaker. She is very religious and has “high morals,” Main told The Colorado Independent.

And there you have it, folks. Obviously there are higher-level Republicans who might have other ideas we haven’t heard yet, but support from Windholz’s local Adams County Republicans is without a doubt crucial to her thinking going into 2016.

To paraphrase the Sound of Music, how do Republicans solve a problem like JoAnn Windholz? Should they have pushed her to quickly resign, which would have outraged the pro-life Republican base but given them someone else to hold this seat? Are they right to calculate on Windholz being able to “live this down” Cory Gardner-style as these comments from Adams County Republicans suggest? Or is it all just re-arranging deck chairs on the Titanic, ahead of a 2016 election in a lost-cause district that Republicans should just write off?

The one thing we’re pretty sure of is that none of this is good for them.

Court outburst validates concerns about extreme anti-choice rhetoric, activists say

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Alleged domestic terrorist Robert Dear. Photo via CSPD

Alleged domestic terrorist Robert Dear. Photo via CSPD

For an RH Reality Check post today, I collected the responses of pro-choice activists to last week’s court appearance by the accused Planned Parenthood domestic terrorist, during which he shouted, “I’m a warrior for the babies.”

Were his outbursts further proof that extreme anti-choice rhetoric contributed to the November 27 murders in Colorado Springs?

“I think Dear’s comments remove any doubt as to what his motive was,” Amy Runyon-Harms, director of ProgressNow Colorado, said in an email to RH Reality Check. “Elected officials who use over-the-top rhetoric in an effort to appease their base need to think twice before doing so and recognize the impact their words have on others.”

Karen Middleton, director of NARAL Pro-Choice Colorado, agreed.

“The attacks have gotten worse, and the fact that the gunman repeated the same rhetoric about ‘baby parts’ we’ve heard from abortion opponents is not a coincidence,” Middleton toldRH Reality Check. “Words have meaning, and people inclined to violence can act on that meaning in awful ways. The result here is that an Iraq war veteran, a mother of two, and a police officer lost their lives, and six children lost their parent….”

“We know that words matter,” Vicki Cowart, director of Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains, said in the statement. “It is time to put an end to the dangerous rhetoric that has permeated our political conversations. Enough is enough—this violence, whether inflicted with words or with weapons, cannot become our normal.”

You recall that at a December 1 news conference on the west steps of the capitol, activists named three anti-choice politicians, Rep. Mike Coffman, State Rep. Gordon Klingenschmitt, and State Sen. Tim Neville, as using rhetoric that contributed to the shooting in Colorado Springs.

Dr. Chaps Says Planned Parenthood Execs Have “Same Demonic Spirit of Murder” As Terrorist

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Carly Fiorina (right), with Rep. Gordon Klingenschmitt.

Carly Fiorina (right), with Rep. Gordon Klingenschmitt.

UPDATE: In response to my question of whether he thinks there’s any difference between the Planned Parenthood domestic terrorist and Planned Parenthood executives, Klingenschmitt said via email, “I’ve been consistent in my statements calling for an end to ALL of the violence, not just half of the violence as the pro-abortionists do.  They remain inconsistent in their calls to end some violence, while they engage in violent behavior against children behind closed doors.”

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“Listen, the shooter was filled with the demonic spirit of murder,” said State Rep. Gordon Klingenschmitt, a Republican, told Colorado Springs radio station KLZ 560-AM four days after the shooting (at 6:20 below). “And yet, the Planned Parenthood executives who call for not just the murder but the profiting from selling aborted baby parts, as we’ve seen from their own lips on the videos of the Center for Medical Progress over the summer, they have that same demonic spirit of murder.”

“Absolutely. Abolutely,” responded KLZ host Steve Curtis, who’s a former chair of the Colorado Republican Party.

Klingenschmitt did not immediately return an email seeking to know if he sees any difference between Planned Parenthood executives and the domestic terrorist.

Other anti-choice leaders have responded to the tragedy by objecting to the abortions at Planned Parenthood as well as the murders committed by the terrorist, but Klingenschmitt went further Dec. 1 by equating Planned Parenthood officials to the terrorist.

Klingenschmitt was one of three Republicans, along with Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Aurora) and U.S. Senate candidate Tim Neville, whom pro-choice activists accused last week of inciting clinic violence through their use of “extreme” rhetoric.

“Never have I called for violence. In fact, we abhor the actions of the violent shooter,” Klingenschmitt also said during the radio interview (at 4:25 below).

(more…)

Planned Parenthood Terrorist: “I’m a Warrior For The Babies”

Alleged domestic terrorist Robert Dear. Photo via CSPD

Alleged domestic terrorist Robert Dear. Photo via CSPD

A dramatic day in court for domestic terrorist Robert Lewis Dear, who leapt to his feet during his arraignment hearing today to confirm his motives for his murderous assault on the Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs late last month. AP reports:

In court Wednesday, Robert Dear said the state public defender’s office wants to seal documents and limit discussion of his case to hide what he saw inside the clinic.

Dear shouted, “You’ll never know what I saw in that clinic. Atrocities. The babies. That’s what they want to seal.”

Dear noted that his attorney also represented Colorado theater shooter James Holmes. He says attorney Daniel King “drugged” Holmes, and “he wants to do that to me.”

…The man accused of killing three people at a Planned Parenthood clinic says he’s guilty and that he’s a “warrior for the babies.” [Pols emphasis]

In the immediate aftermath of the attack on Planned Parenthood in Colorado Springs on November 27th, abortion opponents flailed wildly trying to distance themselves and their summerlong campaign of lies about the organization from the shooter’s actions. Conservative media, followed by local social media voices and Republican elected officials all the way up to Ted Cruz, clung to any unsourced rumor about the shooter’s motives: that he was a “transgender leftist,” that he was a bank robber “gone wild,” and various other deflections. Even after news reports surfaced that Robert Dear had used the words “no more baby parts” when explaining his actions to police, investigators in ultra-conservative Colorado Springs were unusually slow to “speculate” about Dear’s motive.

After today’s outburst in court, we’d say it’s time to stop speculating.

Colorado Republican leader vows to continue investigating Planned Parenthood

(They just can’t help themselves – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Sen. Kevin Lundberg (R).

Sen. Kevin Lundberg (R).

Last week’s terrorism at a Planned Parenthood center won’t stop Colorado state Sen. Kevin Lundberg from conducting hearings on the women’s health organization and pushing for a state investigation.

In a Facebook post three days after the shooting, Lundberg wrote that he took advantage of a budget hearing to ask Larry Wolk, Colorado’s chief medical officer, why Wolk hasn’t launched an investigation into whether the women’s health organization violated state laws relating to fetal-tissue research.

The Durango Herald’s Peter Marcus reported on the incident Tuesday:

Despite the tragedy still fresh for the public and victims’ families, Republicans on Tuesday wasted no time, getting right back to the fetal body parts issue. Remarks came during a budget hearing with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.

“Will the department be taking some action to deal with this inadequacy?” asked Sen. Kevin Lundberg, R-Berthoud, pointing out that the state health department has taken no action against Planned Parenthood on the fetal body parts issue.

Later, Lundberg wrote on his Facebook page that he has “specific questions” that he intends to ask Wolk during the legislative session, and Wolk ageed to testify.

“I finally had a brief opportunity to question the Colorado Health Department director, Dr. Wolk, concerning his department’s failure to thoroughly investigate possible violations of Colorado law concerning fetal tissue trafficking,” Lundberg wrote on Facebook.

Wolk’s told Lundberg at the hearing that he did not see “any connection to Colorado” in heavily-edited undercover videos, some of which featured Colorado Planned Parenthood officials. And he said he’s always available to answer questions from Lundberg.

“This despite his refusal to come or send anyone from his department to the RSCC Fetal Tissue Trafficking Hearing held on November 9,” Lundberg wrote on Facebook.

(more…)