ICYMI: Another Massive Friday News Dump For Cory Gardner

Personhood was just the beginning.

Personhood was just the beginning.

Just over one month ago, GOP U.S. Senate candidate Cory Gardner shocked Colorado politics by abruptly reversing himself on his longstanding and public support for the "Personhood" abortion bans, which were rejected overwhelmingly by voters in 2008 and 2010. Gardner attempted to pull this reversal off with a minimum of press coverage though a time-honored strategy known as the "Friday News Dump"–releasing uncomfortable or controversial news late on a Friday in hopes that no one is paying attention.

As the subsequent month of damaging press coverage has demonstrated, Friday News Dumps aren't very effective for minimizing unwanted coverage in the 24/7 news cycle we live in today.

But folks, if you're Cory Gardner, with a career built on taking a hard conservative line on every issue from a safe Republican seat, Friday News Dumps are just about the only chance there is to ditch positions that could disqualify you in a statewide general election. The incrementally fewer eyeballs looking at the news late on a Friday, for the purposes of doing something sure to result in blowback, are worth exploiting.

And yesterday evening, in an interview with CBS4's Shaun Boyd, Gardner kicked the flip-flopping into overdrive:

On abortion, Gardner has voted for bills with and without exceptions for rape and incest. He also sponsored the “Life Begins At Conception Act” and once supported Personhood in Colorado, something he no longer supports.

“In the State of Colorado, the Personhood Initiative I do not support,” said Gardner. [Pols emphasis] “I came to that opinion because of a number of issues including the fact that it would ban common forms of contraception.”

Note Gardner's very careful choice of words here, "in the State of Colorado, the Personhood Initiative I do not support." The "In Colorado" qualfiier is extremely important, since Gardner is still today a co-sponsor of the Life at Conception Act–written in similarly vague and broad language to the Personhood abortion bans in Colorado, with the same verbiage that could outlaw common forms of birth control. This is the first time we've seen Gardner attempt to reconcile his flip-flop on Personhood with his continuing sponsorship of similar legislation at the federal level–and the distinction makes no sense.

But that's the flip-flop you know. Here's this Friday's News Dump:

His position on gay rights has evolved like many on both sides of the aisle. Seven years ago in the state House he opposed a bill allowing gay couples to adopt and also voted against adding sexual orientation to state anti-discrimination laws.

“If a family wants to have children they should have children,” said Gardner.

When asked if that was regardless of sexual orientation, Gardner replied, “I think they should have children.” [Pols emphasis]

We invite readers to check us on this, but we can't find any record of Gardner softening on the issue of gay rights in the least before this interview. Gardner didn't merely vote against single-parent adoption as a state legislator, he actually campaigned for Congress in 2010 promising the Christian Family Association that he would oppose gay adoption and other "homosexual special rights." Gardner's answer on the related issue of businesses denying services to gays and lesbians is also much softer, paying lip service to "religious freedom" but now saying "we have to…make sure we’re not allowing that to turn into some kind of hidden discrimination." The fact is, this is at least as big a reversal as Gardner's flip-flop on Personhood. As Rep. Marilyn Musgrave's successor in Congress, the implications of this flip-flop are potentially quite serious for Gardner's relationship with the Christian right.

And if that's not enough for you, check out the New Cory Gardner® on immigration!

On immigration, Gardner opposed in-state tuition for illegal immigrants and amnesty.

“The DREAM Act alone isn’t going to solve our immigration challenges. That’s why we have to look at border security, a guest worker program, E-verify and fixes to visas,” said Gardner. “What to do with people without documentation. There are between 11 and 12 million people here without documentation.”

When asked if they should be sent back to where ever they came from, Gardner replied, “I don’t think you can do that. I don’t think that’s what will happen or should happen.” [Pols emphasis]

Based on this interview, Gardner has evolved from blanket opposition to the DREAM Act to the milder view that "the DREAM Act alone isn’t going to solve our immigration challenges"–which could be read to mean the DREAM Act is part of a solution! And correct us if we're wrong, but if Gardner says we can't send undocumented immigrants back to wherever they came from, that indeed he doesn't "think that's what will happen or should happen"–hell, Gardner's just come out in favor of "amnesty," hasn't he? As for a "guest worker program," which Gardner apparently supports today, he voted against it in 2008 as a state legislator. We're given no explanation for Gardner's change of heart here either.

Perhaps the only issue on which Gardner is consistent in this truly remarkable interview is–you guessed it–Obamacare. We've discussed at length how Republicans are on the losing side of that debate, especially now that the scare tactics used for years against health care reform are being widely discredited. But if we're awarding points for consistency anywhere, there you go.

Bottom line: it's nothing short of stunning to see all of these newsworthy developments packed into a single local television interview, but it occurs to us that was most likely Gardner's very deliberate objective. Having already been painted as a flip-flopper for the last month over Personhood, it looks like Gardner is going all the way–flip-flopping on everything he can, as quickly and early in the race as possible.

Folks, it's not going to work. In fact, we increasingly foresee disaster, as Gardner richly earns the Mitt Romney Etch-a-Sketch prize and begins to repel voters of all stripes. Voters, regardless of their own views on the issues, learn from flip-flops like these that they can't trust Cory Gardner either way.

And that's the worst possible place to be as a candidate.

Talk-show host and Cynthia Coffman wrong that AG must defend gay-marriage ban

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

KVOR guest host Jimmy Bensberg talked last week with Cynthia Coffman, who's running for Colorado Attorney General.

CYNTHIA COFFMAN: Taking a page from U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder’s playbook, [Democratic AG candidate Don] Quick held a press conference on the steps of state courts building and called on John Suthers to drop his defense of the definition of marriage –

BENSBERG: Ugh!

COFFMAN: –that’s in the Constitution of Colorado. You know the voters, a number of years back, amended the Constitution and said we want marriage to be the traditional definition of being between a man and a woman. That’s what the voters approved, and Don Quick says he doesn’t agree with that. He doesn’t believe that that is constitutional, even though the Supreme Court of the United States hasn’t said that. And so presumptively, he thinks that the Attorney General should not defend that provision of the Constitution. And you know, that kind of picking and choosing as an Attorney General, what parts of the Constitution you defend, I can’t imagine a better thing to criticize my opponent about, than starting there.

Left out of this loving, tolerant, and legally ignorant conversation is the fact that Suthers' proactive defense of the federal "Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA)," which was filed in the name of protecting Colorado's gay-marriage ban, was actually an attack on gay couples who wanted to be buried together in military cemeteries or to get spousal benefits under Medicaid, etc. Suthers' DOMA action looked like a wrong legal tactic, from the perpective of protecting Colorado's Constitutional amendment.

But more broadly, and to the heart of the matter, you want an Attorney General who will make public-minded decisions about what makes constitutional sense, regardless of the politics involved.

In the case of defending Colorado's anti-gay-marriage amendment, Suthers could have decided, as six other state Attorneys General did, that it's a wrong legal move. Despite what Cynthia Coffman says, nothing forces Suthers to take action.

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Those Wacky GOP Candidates – Where Are They Now?

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Colorado's Republican party has put up some rather entertaining candidates for the state legislature this year, and I just had to post some updates on them.

Nate Marshall posted an official withdrawal from the HD23 race on April 9, after being exposed as an active white supremacist. However, his campaign committee is still active. Is he hoping the outrage will die down? Marshall's latest post on his Facebook page links to an article positing that liberals are "purging Christians". Huh?

Right now, it appears that  Max Tyler won't have an opponent in HD23, as the committee of the other GOP candidate, Christopher Hadsall, is inactive.

 

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Another Big, Empty “Change of Heart” From New Coffman®

UPDATE: The Denver Post's Kurtis Lee:

Democrats assailed Coffman, a military veteran who serves on the House Armed Services committee, for his previous votes in opposition of repealing the controversial “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy that barred gays from serving openly in the military. Indeed, Coffman is against same-sex marriage.

“In his time in Washington, Mike Coffman has clearly learned the art of manipulation. While he’s eager to take credit, he fails to back up his talk with action. Despite his claim to support employment non-discrimination legislation, Congressman Coffman is hardly a champion for gay and lesbian rights. Not only does he oppose marriage equality but he voted against the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell,” said Colorado Democratic Party Chairman Rick Palacio.

Palacio added that it’s “yet another of Coffman’s attempts to wipe away his record of extremism and hide from Colorado’s voters.”

—–

endangeredcoffman

A press release a short while ago from leading LGBT advocacy group One Colorado announces that vulnerable GOP Rep. Mike Coffman is joining Democrats in support of a federal Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), to protect gays and lesbians from workplace discrimination:

Today, Congressman Mike Coffman (R-CO) announced his support for the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), legislation that would provide basic protections against workplace discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.

In response to this announcement, Dave Montez, Executive Director of One Colorado – the leading statewide advocacy group for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Coloradans and their families – released the following statement:

“Protecting against discrimination in the workplace isn’t a Democratic or Republican issue – it’s common sense. Congressman Coffman’s announcement today in support of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act brings his views in alignment with a strong majority of Americans who believe that workers should be judged on their job performance alone, and nothing else. As a non-partisan organization, we welcome Congressman Coffman’s announcement and commend support for equality across the ideological spectrum. It’s time for Congress to move forward and pass ENDA now, to extend the same basic workplace protections we’ve already passed here in Colorado to all LGBT Americans.”

Rep. Coffman's record on rights for LGBT citizens, like immigration, abortion, and other issues he has recently fled to the center on, is very clear–and dismal from the point of view of any LGBT rights supporter. In 2011, Coffman joined with Rep. Michele Bachmann and other social-issue Republicans to call for a ban on military facilities being used for gay marriages. Coffman voted against ending the military's reviled "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy, and supported the unconstitutional Defense of Marriage Act. Coffman even served as Texas Gov. Rick Perry's state campaign chair while Perry ran widely criticized ads disparaging the fact that "gays can serve openly in the military."

So what gives? For one thing, says Politico, the pro-LGBT Human Rights Campaign is courting House Republicans in an attempt to line up support for that body possibly taking up ENDA. But the chances of that remain very, very remote according to everyone we've talked to, most likely ending up as a message opportunity about support growing for the legislation–which we expect will continue to grow, even in the probable event that John Boehner's House never takes up ENDA at all this election year.

That Coffman is one of the first Republicans coming out in support of ENDA is no surprise, and it highlights another step in his political evolution. The Colorado Republican has reversed positions on immigration and abortion in recent months as he tries to fend off an challenge from Democrat Andrew Romanoff in Colorado’s competitive sixth district.

“I see this legislation as the workplace equivalent of the Golden Rule — do unto others, as you would have them do unto you,” Coffman said in a statement to POLITICO. “In the workplace, in 2014, we should judge employees the way we would want to be judged — based on our qualifications, our contributions and by our character, period.”

For Coffman, much like immigration, ENDA becomes another opportunity for reinvention without consequence–since ENDA is very unlikely to come up for a vote in the House, Coffman can say whatever he wants. Short of demanding House leadership bring the bill up for a vote, Coffman will never have to put his record where his mouth is, all the while reaping the positive press from his untested "change of heart."

Does this mean Democrats should be angry with gay rights activists for giving Coffman an opening to meaninglessly pander? Certainly not–any more than Dems should be with immigration rights supporters about Coffman's pandering to them. If your goal is issue progress, you welcome support wherever you can get it.

But it needs to be tempered by reality–and Coffman's anti-gay record raises more questions than this answers.

Marriage Equality: Dollars and Sense

gay-ca-wedding

FOX 31's Eli Stokols reports today:

Extending marriage to gay and lesbian couples in Colorado would generate $50 million in spending to the state economy and $3.7 million in state and local tax revenue, according to a study released Thursday.

The study from the Williams Institute, a national think tank at the UCLA School of Law, looked at 2010 U.S. Census data on the number of gay and lesbian couples living in Colorado and estimates that 50 percent – roughly 6,200 couples – would choose to marry in the first three years, a pattern that has been observed in Massachusetts and elsewhere.

As a result, the state’s wedding business would see an increase by $40 million, and an increase of roughly $10 million in tourism expenditures made by out-of-town guests over the same period.

Total state and local tax revenue would rise by $3.7 million, including an estimated $2.3 million in local sales taxes.

More in a press release from One Colorado:

“We’ve already known that marriage would give committed couples here in Colorado the opportunity to make a lifetime promise to each other and protect their families the same way everyone else does,” said Dave Montez, Executive Director of One Colorado, the state’s leading advocacy group for LGBT Coloradans and their families. “Now we know that marriage equality would also benefit our economy and contribute to the state’s bottom line.”

Anybody who's ever had to pay for their own or a child's wedding, or been privy to the accounting of costs for any decent ceremony, can tell you that more weddings directly translate into lots more money flowing into the hands of local business–and tax revenue from those businesses to the public sector. Major life developments like weddings remain one of the situations where Americans set aside frugality and really open their wallets, which is exactly the kind of exuberant consumption a healthy economy thrives on.

Sounds like a good old-fashioned capitalism success story to us.

Civil rights and community leaders announce their support for the freedom to marry

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Yesterday, several key Colorado civil rights and community leaders announced their support of the freedom to marry for all families in our state.

These leaders from across Colorado are joining together to move marriage forward, stating their commitment to equality for all compels them to publicly advocate for marriage equality.

They are standing on the right side of history. They know it’s a matter of when – not if – marriage equality will be achieved in the Centennial State.

Former Speaker of the Colorado House of Representatives, Terrance Carroll, spoke to why he supports the freedom to marry:

Here in Colorado, we continue to fight for full equality for all people. Gay and lesbian Coloradans are part of our families and our community – they are our sons and daughters, sisters and brothers, cousins, aunts and uncles. Many more are our friends, neighbors and co-workers. Marriage gives committed couples the tools and security to build a life together and protect their families, and no one should be denied that fundamental freedom.

Denver Public School Board member Rosemary Rodriguez also spoke on behalf of valuing all families in our state:

Through my work on the Denver Public School Board, I have met many same-sex couples and their families who are impacted every day by their inability to marry in our state. Parents have expressed the need to protect their children – and without marriage, they do not have access to these protections. It is my duty as a community leader to advocate for these families.

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At Least He’s Not Your Highly Imaginative Legislator

Rep. Troy Mader (R-WY).

Rep. Troy Mader (R-WY).

As Laura Hancock of the Casper Star-Tribune reports:

Wyoming’s newest legislator stands by a book he wrote nearly 30 years ago that claims many gay people demand the right to have sex with children and people with AIDS should be quarantined if they continue having sex.

The book is called “The Death Sentence of AIDS: Vital Information For You and Your Family’s Health and Safety.” It was self-published by T.R. Mader, who at the Wyoming Legislature goes by the name Rep. Troy Mader, R-Gillette…

Mader said in an interview with the Star-Tribune the research featured in the book may be a little outdated, since it was written when HIV and AIDS were still relatively new to the medical community. But he still maintains gays are more likely to be promiscuous tha[n] heterosexuals, contributing to the spread of sexually transmitted diseases.

“If you want to participate in that particular lifestyle, that’s your choice,” he said during a telephone interview. “But I reserve the right to say, ‘Hey, there’s risk involved.’”

Some of our longtime readers will remember the case of Colorado GOP Rep. Jim Welker, who back in 2006 was persuaded to not run for office again after highly controversial articles forwarded by Welker to his email list became public including an opinion piece saying "President Bush is not to blame for the rampant immorality of blacks" in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Opposing a gay marriage resolution in 2005, Welker famously invoked a 1978 case where "a guy in Boulder tried to marry his horse."

It took some effort, but it looks like Rep. Troy Mader has got Jim Welker beat:

Mader’s book states many gays are promiscuous, citing a 1984 article from the conservative magazine American Spectator that claimed the average gay person had 1,000 to 1,600 partners in a lifetime.

“One activist has said that 10,000 sex partners in the lifetime of a ‘very active’ homosexual would not be extraordinary,” the book states on page 150… [Pols emphasis]

Mader said he still believes gays tend to be more promiscuous than straight people, and that promiscuity contributes to the spread of the HIV virus.

We can't say where Rep. Mader might have done his, you know, research on the relative promiscuity of straight people versus gays. But to put the claim in Mader's book in perspective, in order to have "10,000 sex partners," it would be necessary to have sex with a different person every day, 365 days a year, for a little over 27 years. We suppose a few orgies might whittle that number down a little.

But folks, this side of an extremely prolific porn star, that seems awfully hard to physically accomplish.

Also, the only people we've ever known to claim anything remotely close to this level of sexual prowess were all straight. And we're pretty confident, at this point in our lives, they were all lying too.

Mike Norton calls on Suthers to challenge bill allowing joint tax filings

(Fight that culture war! – promoted by Colorado Pols)

A bill cleared the General Assembly Friday allowing same-sex couples to file joint state tax returns, if they pay federal taxes jointly.

Hick is expected to sign it, presumably because he agrees with backers, like The Denver Post, who point out that the current tax rules make no sense, given that state taxes are based on the federal filings.

But the religious right, as represented below by former U.S. Attorney Mike Norton, is pissed. Norton got his back slapped blindly by KNUS' Dan Caplis recently for saying the bill is a violation of Colorado's ban on gay marriage:

Norton: You know, [we] have a constitutional amendment that was passed by the people of the state of Colorado in 2006, that really didn’t state anything new. It simply reaffirmed what has been the historic position of the people of Colorado, [and] the people of this nation, in fact, the western world, that marriage of a man and a woman is a foundational social relationship that is important for the survival of any society.

Listen to Norton here.

Even Amendment 23 isn't that extreme, and it's out there. But why not extremify extremism if no one, like Caplis, is going to call you on it?

In any case, the legislation is about tax law, not marriage. But Norton, who's married to failed GOP Senate candidate Jane Norton, doesn't get it:

Norton: "And I mean, everyone is in favor of marriage equality, but we have to pretty much know what a marriage is, before we can define whether it is equality. And by tradition, and throughout history, marriage is defined as a union of a man and a woman, and it exists for a single purpose, and that is to bear and raise children. There is no question that children do better when they are with a man – a husband and a wife, a father and a mother. Moms and dads are different. And children need both moms and they need dads, as well."

Asked what he could do if the bill becomes law, Norton pointed out that Attorney General John Suthers joined a lawsuit challenging a court decision striking down Utah's gay-marriage ban.

Norton: "So, I’m hopeful that John Suthers will look at…this law as an assault on Colorado’s marriage amendment and take steps. I think that’s a possibility."

Lawsuit Filed To Overturn Colorado’s Same-Sex Marriage Ban

UPDATE: The Denver Post reports:

The lawsuit filed Wednesday names Gov. John Hickenlooper and Denver City Clerk Debra Johnson as defendants. Currently Colorado permits civil unions between gay couples, but the Colorado constitution bans gay marriage…

Although some states have declined to defend against similar lawsuits challenging same-sex marriage bans, Colorado Attorney General John Suthers said his office's obligations are clear.

"It is the job of the Attorney General's Office to defend our state laws and we will defend against this new lawsuit as we would any other," Suthers said. "This is an important issue that ultimately the appellate courts will resolve."

—–

Liberty and Justice, together at last.

Liberty and Justice, together at last.

As FOX 31's Eli Stokols reports, a bit of a snag this week on the way to the proverbial altar:

After a false start of sorts, a group of same-sex couples are likely to move ahead and file a lawsuit challenging Colorado’s same-sex marriage ban…

Sources told us that attorney John McHugh, who is handling the lawsuit, hadn’t conferred with the defendants, notably Denver Clerk and Recorder Debra Johnson, whose office denied a same-sex couple a marriage license last Friday, which was serving as grounds for the lawsuit.

McHugh, who has not returned a call seeking comment, wasn’t aware that Johnson, who was out of the office when a same-sex couple applied for a marriage license Friday, was herself open to issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples, which would have rendered the lawsuit pointless.

But a joint press release a short while ago from One Colorado, ACLU of Colorado, the GLBT Community Center of Colorado, and the Colorado GLBT Bar Association announces a lawsuit now indeed underway seeking to overturn Colorado's Amendment 43–the constitutional amendment passed in 2006 banning same-sex marriage in this state. A wrinkle arose when Denver County Clerk Debra Johnson said she would issue marriage licenses anyway, but now she reportedly gets that denying the licenses (as the law presently requires) was the best way to help the cause. As you're likely aware, lawsuits in support of marriage equality are rapidly proceeding–and succeeding–in many states.

As of today, add Colorado to the list. Statements after the jump.

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LGBT Equality “Baby Step” Wins Final Passage

AP via the Denver Post:

Gay couples in Colorado who are married in another state and in a civil union here could file joint state tax returns under a measure headed to the governor's desk.

The Colorado House passed the measure Monday on a largely party-line vote with Democrats in favor. The bill already cleared the Senate so it's now up to Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper to decide whether to sign it.

A press release from Colorado House Democrats Friday celebrated initial passage of Senate Bill 14-019:

SB14-019, sponsored in the House by Reps. Joann Ginal (D-Fort Collins) and Dominick Moreno (D-Commerce City), amends state law to direct legally married same-sex couples living in Colorado to file their state taxes in the same way they file their federal taxes.

Rep. Moreno got a laugh when he asked the House, “What could be more romantic on Valentine’s Day than asking someone to joint-file your taxes?” Joking aside, he added, “Same sex couples share their income and share their expenses. Why not let them file jointly?”

For what it's worth, here are GOP Rep. Bob Gardner and ex-House Speaker Frank McNulty with the GOP's answer:

Despite their studious objections, the bill is now headed to Gov. John Hickenlooper's desk.

AG Candidate Quick Calls Out Suthers on Marriage Equality

John Suthers, Don Quick.

John Suthers, Don Quick.

AP's Ivan Moreno reports via the Fort Collins Coloradoan:

The Democratic candidate for Colorado attorney general says the state’s voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage violates the constitutional rights of gay couples and that the law shouldn’t be defended.

Don Quick made the comments Tuesday morning, putting the issue into the spotlight in the state’s attorney general race months before voters head to the polls. Quick, the former Adams County district attorney and former deputy state attorney general, emphasized that those positions have a responsibility to defend state laws regardless of whether the officeholder agrees with them.

“But in extraordinary circumstances, extraordinary circumstances, when a Colorado law intentionally violates fundamental rights of its citizens, it’s the attorney general’s job to step up and stop that law,” Quick said.

As the Denver Post's Tom McGhee reports, outgoing GOP Attorney General John Suthers has a newly defensive response to the question of defending Colorado's constitutional ban on same-sex marriage, in contrast to much less equivocal justifications in the past:

Suthers' spokeswoman Carolyn Tyler said that her boss has little choice but to defend Colorado's Amendment 43, which defines marriage as a union between one man and one woman. It was approved by voters in 2006.

"The attorney general has an obligation to defend state laws until they are determined to be unconstitutional by the highest court, regardless of whether or not that puts the attorney general on the wrong side of history," Tyler said. [Pols emphasis]

Even an indirect acknowledgement that continue to defend the state's same-sex marriage ban places Suthers "on the wrong side of history" could be seen as a win for equality supporters. In a Washington Post guest opinion earlier this month, Suthers further explains his reasons for continuing to defend Colorado's ban on same-sex marriage–again, with no mention of his longstanding personal opposition to gay marriage:

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Daneya Esgar announces for HD 46: “Pueblo Deserves Better”

Daneya Esgar announced her candidacy for House District 46 in Pueblo at the Steelworker’s Union Hall on January 21, 2014.  The seat is being vacated by Representative Leroy Garcia, as Garcia  will be running against George Rivera for Senate District 3.  Esgar’s competition for the HD46 seat will be, first, Democrat Stephanie Garcia (no relation to Leroy), a term-limited past President of the District 60 School Board. Local caucuses March 4 will select a Democratic nominee, and the final decision will be taken at the County Assembly on March 22nd.

The Democratic nominee for House District 46 will then run against Republican Brian Mater, a Pueblo businessman and failed candidate for Pueblo City Council at-large. Mater is not an especially strong candidate; while evidently a nice guy, he also apparently has a temper, and has not always managed money well. Mater still has a permanent restraining order against him, and was the subject of several court proceedings for questionable business dealings. Mater has not filed any campaign finance reports with the State, although they were due January 15. Mater’s policy positions, as far as they can be determined from his Facebook page for the City Council position, are closer to Stephanie Garcia’s privatizing and union-busting ways– He advocates for returning PERA funds to the City, and for a “balanced budget”. If Garcia and Mater run against each other, it may be hard to tell them apart on budget issues.

As School District 60 President, Stephanie Garcia was heavily criticized by union employees and by parents for her vote to privatize the District’s night custodians and school bus drivers. The move was supposed to cut costs for the cash-strapped district; parents cited safety concerns, and community members warned that “short-term savings could mean long-term problems.”

Daneya Esgar, the granddaughter of two steelworkers, supports “public policy that brings jobs to our community. Not just any jobs, but “jobs that come with the right to bargain for a real living wage.” Esgar spoke about her concerns about poverty in Pueblo:

“Five out of every ten families live below the federal poverty level. Our unemployment rate is still one of the highest in the state. Our city has the highest utility rates and insurance rates in Colorado…  Small and successful businesses … have left Pueblo County because of our utility rates…The good news is that there is real work that can be done at the state legislature to fix Pueblo’s high utility rates.”

Pueblo’s Black Hills utility rates are “the highest on the Front Range”, according to those who work with families whose utilities have been shut off for lack of payment. Esgar’s message will resound with Pueblans struggling to pay high utility bills.

Esgar is well-known as an advocate for LGBT issues, and is herself an open lesbian; however, her campaign is much more about economic issues which affect all Pueblans.

From her press release:

Daneya Esgar has worked closely with local families throughout the community who have sought to improve local law enforcement. She is well-known on the grassroots level for her hands-on work on issues of equality, education, justice, and poverty. Esgar has a record of listening to the community and transforming those needs into sound public policy that is good for Pueblo’s families.

Photo Credit: John Jaques, The Pueblo Chieftain, December 9, 2013

2013′s Top Ten #10: Rep. Libby Szabo vs. Common Decency

libbyszabo

Colorado House Speaker Mark Ferrandino took control of the state House of Representatives after the 2012 general elections, in which Republicans were resoundingly swept from their one-seat House majority. One of the biggest reasons for that multiple-seat pickup victory in 2012 was the conduct of GOP legislative leadership at the end of the 2012 session. Legislation to create civil unions for LGBT couples in Colorado stood at the brink of passage with bipartisan support, only to be killed by GOP House leadership using extraordinary legislative tactics to prevent a vote on the bill.

After retaking the House in 2012, Colorado Democrats found themselves with two years of stymied and backlogged agenda items, at the top of the list of which was civil unions. The signing into law of this year's civil unions bill was hailed not just by Ferrandino, who happens to be gay, but a host of Republican officials and activists eager to turn a new page and walk back their party's intolerant image.

As we'll discuss in other 2013 recap posts, Republicans fought back in 2013 with a fury not seen since they began reliably losing elections in Colorado in 2004. One of the major message vehicles used by the GOP was legislation known as "Jessica's Law," named after a young Florida girl murdered by a previously convicted sex offender, and mandating long sentences for sex crimes even on a first offense. Although this law is on the books in many states, Colorado already has very severe sentences for such crimes. Law enforcement and advocates such as the Colorado District Attorneys' Council and the Colorado Coalition Against Sexual Assault opposed the bill as unnecessary. Being a political weapon first and foremost, GOP backers of a Colorado "Jessica's Law" were undeterred.

And then last February, Bill O'Reilly of the FOX News Channel took it a step further.

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Conservative talk-radio host gets all excited about critique of Republican Senate candidate

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

KFKA talk-radio host Amy Oliver urged Republicans last week to read a Facebook post by former State Senator Shawn Mitchell, in which Mitchell wrote that he's "somewhere between distressed and appalled that GOP luminaries think it's a good idea for [Rep. Amy Stephens] to bear the party's standard into a campaign for federal office in 2014."

Stephens is one of six GOP candidates vying to take on Democratic Sen. Mark Udall next year.  Also running are Tea Party favorite and recycled Senate candidate Ken Buck, mustachioed state Senator Randy Baumgardner from northwestern Colorado's District 8, state Senator from El Paso County Owen Hill, as well as Jamie McMillan and Tom Janich.

Oliver, who doubles as a staffer for the libertarian Independence Institute, was really excited about Mitchell's Dec. 9 Facebook post, telling listeners that "the entry of Amy Stephens in the race, and some of the subsequent endorsements that she has received, have got conservatives saying privately what Shawn Mitchell put out publicly."

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Klingenschmitt vs. Right Wing Watch: Round Two

UPDATE 12/10/2013  Right Wing Watch had their Youtube Account restored, and their lawyer has sent a "Cease and Desist" order to Mr. Klingenschmitt. Klingenschmitt, for his part,  has declared that he has no intention of stopping his harassment of Right Wing Watch.

In the never-ending, but somewhat entertaining saga of Statehouse Candidate Gordon "Dr. Chaps" Klingenschmitt's war vs. sanity, Right Wing Watch (RWW) won a round and is down for round two.

David Edwards, rawstory.com

RWW's mission is  "monitoring and exposing the activities of the right-wing movement". Hence, they often report on some of the weirder nonsense preached by would-be representative Klingenschmitt:

(left) Dr. Gordon Klingenschmitt, HD15 candidate, by David Edwards, rawstory.com, 

 

Six year old gender-bender Coy Mathis and her parents filed (and won) a lawsuit for Coy to use the female bathroom in her Fountain elementary school.

Below: Coy Mathis, holding parent's hands, after her civil rights hearing, photo by RJ Sangosti, Denver Post, article by Kieran Nicholson

Coy Mathis, after winning her lawsuit: Credit: Denver Post, RJ Sangosti

Coy's victory was enough for Klingenschmitt to claim that the transgender rights movement has a "demon of rape…. to violate your daughters".

Right Wing Watch  publicized Klingenschmitt's latest diatribe against little Coy and her parents, and, in retaliation, Klingenschmitt has again complained to youtube that RWW is infringing on his copyrights.

This was round two of the RWW vs. Dr. Chaps battle over bogus copyright claims. In round one, youtube went through its usual process of determining Fair Use, and while they were deciding this, RWW's youtube site was made inactive. Finally, youtube decided that RWW had not in fact infringed any copyrights, and RWW's youtube account was restored. 

The next day, Klingenschmitt again made bogus claims against RWW, and succeeded in shutting down RWW's youtube account.This is currently being appealed, and if you like, you can sign a petition in support of the appeal.

Klingenschmitt fundraises from his 350+youtube videos, all of which have a donate button. I found his charity "pray in jesus name.org" on  this site, on which Klingenschmitt appears in a Navy Chaplain's uniform, which, according to the Judge Advocate General of the Navy, is illegal, since he was discharged for cause. Dr. Chaps' explanations of his finances, which extend to at least 3 separate profit, non-profit, and political corporations, are  convoluted, but his 501c3 charity, Persuade the World Ministries,  seem to bring in an average of 50,000 per year since 2010.

Klingenschmitt, a discharged Navy chaplain,  has  bragged about "performing exorcisms" of the "demons" in gay men and women, and also complained that a West Point Chapel  had been "Desecrated By 'Acts Of Sodomy' Performed On The Altar" when two gay men were married there. 

Klingenschmitt must go to more exciting weddings than I do- hardly any of them actually consummate the marriage in public anymore.

But I digress.

Here's the scary part: Gordon "Dr. Chaps" Klingenschmitt is a serious Republican candidate for House District 15, a north-east Colorado Springs district,created in 2011 redistricting, currently represented by Republican Mark Waller. Waller won with 73% of the vote in 2012,  but has set his sights (and his $63K fund)  on campaigning for Attorney General in 2014. Also running for House District 15: Allison Hunter (D), an independent candidate, "Bishop" and Republicans Michael Kuhn and David Williams.  It's remotely possible that Waller could win the Republican nomination for Attorney General, or, as Pols wrote, be a distraction and an embarrassment for Republican candidates.  So, yes, the "exorcise gay demons", persecute-little-kids-for-fun-and profit guy could be your representative, if you live in northeast-ish Colorado Springs.

Klingenschmitt has an extensive youtube account for his religious sermons and speeches. Apparently, though, Dr. Chaps believes in separation of church and state. He definitely doesn't want these religious video clips to interfere with his secular bid for political power. He especially doesn't want voters in House District 15 to know how bigoted, extreme, hateful and bizarre his views actually are.

All  links in this post are either widely available on public media, or used in accordance with the Fair Use doctrine, and links point to proper attributions to original authors.