Get More Smarter on Friday (July 29)

Get More SmarterWe hate to bring it up, but when you return to work on Monday…it will be August. It’s time to Get More Smarter with Colorado Pols. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of a visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show.

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► Democrat Hillary Clinton formally accepted her party’s nomination for President to conclude the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia on Thursday evening. As the Washington Post reports, Clinton’s acceptance speech was tailored to a much broader audience than Republican nominee Donald Trump’s speech week earlier:

If you already support the former Secretary of State, you loved her speech to the Democratic convention last night. If you’re skeptical of her but trying to convince yourself to get to yes—whether because you backed Bernie Sanders or you’re uncomfortable with Donald Trump—there was plenty for you.

Trump’s acceptance speech in Cleveland was all about shoring up his base. He could have given it last summer. Clinton’s speech here was about winning the general election. That will require shoring up recalcitrant Bernie Sanders boosters, making gains with independents and running up the score with women.

In an attempt to accomplish all three aims, Clinton carefully threaded the needle on issues big and small.

Trump responded to Clinton’s speech by Tweeting a bunch of angry stuff. He is still mashing away at the Twitter this morning.

Oh, and Trump publicly criticized retired four-star General John Allen because he supports Clinton.

 

► Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper was his familiar former-businessman self in his prime time address at the DNC on Thursday. As the Denver Post reports:

Using his own life as a foil, Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper on Thursday blasted the business record of Republican Donald Trump — mocking the former star of The Apprentice for his famous catchphrase.

“Now I’ve never hosted a reality TV show, but I know the true mark of a successful businessman is not the number of times you say ‘you’re fired,’ ” Hickenlooper said, riffing off an attack that’s been used all week at the Democratic National Convention. “It’s the number times you say ‘you’re hired.’ ”

Hickenlooper wrapped up his remarks a few hours before Clinton took the stage to accept the Presidential nomination.

 

Donald Trump is in Colorado today for a fundraiser and public event in Colorado Springs as well as a gathering in Denver. For more information on how you can try to get a glimpse of The Great Orange Hope, check out this guide from Denver7. As the Colorado Springs Independent reports, not everybody in the Republican stronghold of Colorado Springs is pleased that Trump is coming to town.

Oh, and sorry, kids: No field trip for you!

 

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Get More Smarter on Thursday (July 28)

Get More SmarterWorld War I began on this day 102 years ago. It’s time to Get More Smarter with Colorado Pols. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of a visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show.

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► President Barack Obama stole the show in his final appearance as President at a Democratic National Convention. As Politico reports from Wednesday:

Obama’s convention speech in Philadelphia framed the 2016 election in a very Obama way: the audacity of hope over the politics of fear, optimism over darkness, solutions over slogans, togetherness over division, a supremely qualified public servant in Hillary Clinton over an amateur-hour con artist in Donald Trump. America, he declared, is already great, and Clinton will make it greater.

The president gave a stirring but fundamentally defensive speech, fighting back against the Republican convention’s dystopic vision of America as a crime-infested, porous-bordered, militarily weak, economically stagnant hellscape that only Trump can fix. Where Trump sees chaos and decline, the president said, “I see engineers inventing stuff.” Trump may see a strongman in the mirror, but Obama scoffed, “We don’t look to be ruled.” Obama reprised the themes of the speech that catapulted him to fame at the 2004 convention, contrasting his vision of a unified America that rises above red-against-blue with Trump’s rhetoric of fear.

Democratic Presidential nominee Hillary Clinton will formally accept her Party’s nomination tonight as the DNC in Philadelphia comes to a close. Clinton is scheduled to speak at about 8:00 pm (MT).

Two Colorado politicians, House Democratic Leader Crisanta Duran and Gov. John Hickenlooper, will also speak on the main stage earlier this evening.

 

► The campaign of Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump continues its systematic blockade of journalists who have not pledged to produce only positive press for His Hairness. As “The Fix” explains:

Jose DelReal is one of a small team of people who covers Donald Trump’s presidential campaign for the Post. On Wednesday, he was in Milwaukee to cover an appearance by Trump running mate Mike Pence.DelReal was barred from covering the event as a reporter, in keeping with Trump’s long-standing ban on the Washington Post.  DelReal then tried to enter the event as a citizen. He was told no one could enter with a phone and a computer. He put them in the car and again tried to enter. He was refused — again — and patted down. “I don’t want you here. You have to go,” the security official told him.

That should scare the hell out of you.

It’s easy to let this whole episode fall into a partisan trap. He deserved it!, Trump allies will argue.  Reporters at mainstream outlets are biased against Mr. Trump!  Maybe if you told the truth sometimes, he would let you in!

Righto.

Here’s the thing: If we start banning citizens — like Jose or me or Michelle Malkin or Rachel Maddow or anyone else — from attending public events for one of the two people who will be our next president, we are sliding down a slippery slope to a future reality that is a very, very bad thing for our country.

 

► Donald Trump is coming to Colorado tomorrow for a fundraiser in Colorado Springs and public events in the Springs and in Denver. The Colorado Republican Party will not benefit from the Trump fundraiser because His Hairness is still angry at the State GOP.

 

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Get More Smarter on Wednesday (July 27)

Get More SmarterIn two more days, there will be just 100 more until Election Day. It’s time to Get More Smarter with Colorado Pols. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of a visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show.

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► History was made — again — in Philadelphia on Tuesday when Hillary Clinton officially became the first woman in American history to capture a major party nomination for President.

Day Two of the Democratic National Convention (DNC) also involved a Clinton. Former President Bill Clinton delivered a powerful speech intended to help humanize his wife, Hillary. For more DNC coverage from Tuesday, check out winners and losers from “The Fix.” Or check out this story for more on how Colorado supporters of Bernie Sanders are encouraging their brethren to come together for Hillary Clinton.

 

► Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump publicly called on Russia to hack into Hillary Clinton’s emails in attempts to expose negative information about the Democratic Presidential nominee.

Let’s say that one more time: Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump publicly called on Russia to hack into Hillary Clinton’s emails…

 

► Colorado Republican Senate candidate Darryl Glenn is getting a firsthand look at one of the oldest lines in politics: The cover-up is (almost) always worse than the crime. Glenn is defending his own remarks to reporters that an old altercation with his father — dating to 1983 — may have involved someone else named Darryl Glenn. A different Darryl Glenn who somehow ended up with the same social security number as the Republican nominee for Senate. Seriously.

 

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Republicans Try to Make Martyr of Ben the “Libertarian” Bachelor

Guess which reality star was a registered Libertarian as recently as April?

Guess which reality star was a registered Libertarian as recently as April?

The short-lived candidacy of Ben “The Bachelor” Higgins made for an interesting story last week, but it was not the kind of news that we thought we’d still be talking about today. Yet while Higgins’ official candidacy is finished after he withdrew from HD-4 last week, the conspiracy theories continue to grow. The GOP is working hard to make Higgins look like a martyr whose only crime was being a Republican, but as it turns out, the facts tell a much different story.

Ben Higgins is not a Republican martyr. Higgins is barely a Republican at all.

Late Sunday, the conservative website The Blaze published an “exclusive” story essentially accusing the television network ABC of forcing Higgins out of the race in HD-4 because he is a Republican (yes, really, because he is a Republican). Joey Bunch of the Denver Post then published his own follow-up story, which includes a particularly strange quote from an official with the Colorado Secretary of State’s office (more on that in a moment). The story that Republicans are peddling now is that of a poor reality-show martyr who was denied a chance to be the frontrunner in a State House race purely because of his political affiliation.

Now, there is a much different version of this story, including an important fact that hasn’t yet been mentioned: Ben Higgins may not have been legally able to run as a Republican in HD-4 because he had been a registered LIBERTARIAN as recently as April 18, 2016.

First, let’s back up. In case you missed the news last week because you got norovirus at the RNC and haven’t been reading anything that wasn’t conveniently near a toilet, here’s the short and sweet of our story:

Ben Higgins is a former star of the ABC TV show “The Bachelor,” a show he headlined in Season 20 after losing out to another guy in a previous ABC TV show called “The Bachelorette.” Higgins ended his “Bachelor” run by proposing to Lauren Bushnell, and sometime afterward, they apparently moved to North Denver. The final episode of the 20th season of “The Bachelor” began in January and ended in mid-March, 2016.

Rumors had been circling for a few weeks that Higgins was contemplating making a run in HD-4. It was reported on Friday, July 15, that Higgins had officially signed paperwork to run as a Republican candidate in HD-4 against incumbent Democratic Rep. Dan Pabon. We thought this was odd for a number of reasons, primarily the fact that HD-4 is the single best Democratic-performing district in Colorado. Pabon won re-election in 2014 with 80% of the vote, for crying out loud; you could resurrect Ronald Reagan and he’d still lose to a Democrat in HD-4.

Less than a week later, on Friday July 22, it was announced that Higgins would be withdrawing from the race because of some legal and contractual issues associated with his upcoming reality TV show: “Ben and Lauren: Happily Ever After.” There were two announcements sent to the media, actually: One from Disney – the parent company of ABC – and the second from Higgins’ own campaign.

And that, dear readers, seemed to be that. But now Republicans are attacking ABC and something called the “Freeform” channel (formerly ABC Family, and the network that will carry Higgins’ new reality-TV show). In a statement issued by the Colorado Republican Party on Sunday, Chairman Steve House puts on the tin-foil hat for a long rant about how The Man is keeping Republicans down:

“Disney and ABC’s decision to reportedly threaten Ben Higgins’ future with the network and even his wedding if he did not drop out of the (House District) 4 race is downright despicable…Their stunning about-face the week of our national convention after months of being aware of Ben’s political pursuits is incredibly suspect…

“The reality is Ben would have entered this race as the front-runner. ABC’s thuggish tactics send a message they care far more about suppressing the voice of conservatives and protecting a left-wing politician who displayed grossly unethical behavior during a recent DUI arrest than Ben’s selfless interest in serving his community…

…It is hard to imagine ABC would have delivered a similar ultimatum to Ben if he were a Democrat, and that is shameful.”

The ultimatum that Disney/ABC/Freeform delivered to Higgins isn’t as nefarious as House makes it sound. The network had grown uncomfortable with the potential legal ramifications of promoting a reality TV star who is running for public office, and they told Higgins that they did not want him to be a candidate at the same time they were filming “Ben and Lauren.” Higgins obviously decided that making tons of money for a reality show was sufficiently more important to he and his fiancé than running for the state legislature, and we can’t say we blame him there. The decision may have also helped him avoid some inevitable legal problems with his voter registration…

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Rep. Justin Everett Called Out For RNC Anti-LGBT Assholery

Colorado Rep. Justin Everett (R).

Colorado Rep. Justin Everett (R).

We’ve talked a couple of times already about the starkly conservative platform adopted last week at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland. Where the GOP’s official party platform addressed rights for LGBT Americans, as ratified it was so far backward relative to the evolution of national sentiment on the issue that Colorado’s Republican attorney general pronounced herself “ashamed” at the direction her party was taking.

Cynthia Coffman may or may not have known how much of that platform was home-grown right here in Colorado:

The 2012 GOP platform calls same-sex marriage “an assault on the foundations of our society.” With the Republican Platform Committee not yet sharing updated language with reporters, it’s not clear if the 2016 platform will say that as well. But from a hotly debated amendment, it’s clear divisions in the GOP over gay marriage exist. First came an amendment offered by Colorado delegate Justin Everett: “Where it says ‘Children raised in a two-parent household,’ I want to insert before ‘two,’ ‘traditional….” [Pols emphasis]

That’s right: Colorado’s own Rep. Justin “Sleepy Dwarf” Everett was one of the driving forces behind the GOP platform’s hard lurch to the right in 2016, offering an amendment to insert the word “traditional” into a plank about how two-parent households are better off. By “traditional,” Everett of course means “Adam and Eve” and not “Adam and Steve.”

You get the idea.

But as you can see in this video clip from California Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, Everett’s amendment drew an irate response from at least one Republican on the Platform Committee:

That raised the ire of New York delegate Annie Dickerson, who had lost other battles over same-sex marriage language in a subcommittee meeting earlier. “This is outrageous to suggest that children of a gay couple are more likely to be completely unbalanced and use drugs in droves and be criminals. This is so provocative.”

Nonetheless,

Other members questioned if the language insults single parents and the adult children of gay parents as well. But the vote of the 112-member committee endorsed adding the word “traditional.”

Like we said about Cynthia Coffman, we do believe that the anger expressed by RNC delegate Annie Dickerson over the unapologetically anti-LGBT language in the Republican Party’s 2016 platform is legitimate. Unfortunately, it appears to be the minority view within the Republican Party. That delegates approving the platform sided overwhelmingly with Everett against Dickerson is the story this year, not the ultra-minority who dissented.

If Republicans want to recover the support their platform will cost them this year by 2020, we suggest fewer Justin Everetts.

Clarice Navarro “Pre-Buts” Crisanta Duran For Trump

Donald Trump, Rep. Clarice Navarro.

Donald Trump, Rep. Clarice Navarro.

Rep. Crisanta Duran, the Majority Leader of the Democratic-controlled Colorado House, scored a big coup with her scheduled address to the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia this coming Thursday. The Denver Post’s Joey Bunch reports:

[A]lthough she received only a week’s notice to prepare the biggest speech of her political career so far, Duran’s past aligns well with the campaign of presumptive nominee Hillary Clinton.

“It’s an amazing opportunity and an amazing moment, when we’re on the verge of having the first woman president, not because she is a woman but because she has the right vision for America,” Duran said Friday.

Rep. Duran’s speech at the DNC this week is just one of dozens of speeches from Democratic elected officials, activists, and others intended to present Democrats as the more diverse, more mainstream, and above all the more sane and prudent choice for Americans compared to last week’s parade of horrors at the Trump Republican Party’s convention in Cleveland. Duran probably won’t net any more cable news face time in her speaking slot than GOP U.S. Senate candidate Darryl Glenn did, but considering Glenn is a Senate candidate and was speaking much closer to prime time, Duran is still on the receiving end of quite an honor. Also, Duran’s speaking voice doesn’t come across like fingernails of a chalkboard a la former Rep. Libby Szabo’s forgettable RNC speech, so there’s that.

We did want to take note of the “pre-buttal” response to Rep. Duran from what appears to be the Team Trump’s foremost Latina surrogate in Colorado, Rep. Clarice Navarro of Pueblo:

“Latinos across America want the same things I want for my Latino children,” said Navarro, a rising Republican star who introduced Sarah Palin at the Western Conservative Summit on July 1 and has been lauded by the RNC.

“They want a safe America, they want a prosperous America with jobs, they want a smaller government, they want an America that provides a solid education,” Navarro said. “The liberal progressives haven’t done that for Latinos in America for the last eight years, and Rep. Duran, in the majority, hasn’t done it for Colorado.”

First of all, somebody should tell Navarro about the millions of jobs created during the Obama presidency?

But perhaps more important–like having her photo taken with Donald Trump, a photo now certain to be used against her with Pueblo voters–once again the choice of Navarro as the GOP’s countermessenger to Democrats taking the national stage is strategically very questionable to us. However strongly you feel for or against Trump, the simple fact is that Trump is alienating large numbers of Americans, including overwhelming numbers of Latinos. The decision to publicly align with Trump in any even remotely competitive race, especially in a place like Pueblo and southeast Colorado, is fraught with uncertainty that hinges on Trump’s own popularity. If the polls that show Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton in a close race prove accurate, it may not matter as much.

But if Trump gets slaughtered on Election Day, a lot of Republicans who are perceived to have aligned themselves with Trump will go down with him. In that event, Navarro may sorely regret taking on her high-profile Trump surrogate role.

Get More Smarter on Monday (July 25)

Get More SmarterCompared to the Olympic Village in Rio, all of the accommodations in Philadelphia are 5-star locations. It’s time to Get More Smarter with Colorado Pols. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of a visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show.

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► The Democratic National Convention (DNC) in Philadelphia got underway on Monday with an unexpected jolt of controversy. As Politico reports:

Democrats on Monday struggled to contain the chaos that threatened to take hold in Philadelphia, as Debbie Wasserman Schultz bowed out of plans to gavel in the Democratic National Convention and restless Bernie Sanders’ supporters lashed out.

A day after the resignation of the embattled party chairwoman over a massive leak of emails showing disdain for Sanders’ campaign, the party could not escape the optics of a convention marred by discord, much like the Republicans’ the week before. And once again, Hillary Clinton has found herself ensnared in another email-related controversy.

Trouble started early Monday, when Wasserman Schultz’s debut at the convention proved disastrous. The Florida congresswoman as was heckled as she tried to speak before the Florida delegation breakfast, with some in the room yelling “Shame!”

By Monday afternoon, Wasserman Schultz had wisely decided to step aside as DNC Chair altogether. Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, the mayor of Baltimore, takes over as the gaveler-in-chief in Philadelphia.

Elsewhere, the Washington Post previews the DNC by asking (and answering) 10 important questions.

 

► Two prominent Colorado Democrats will be on the stage in Philadelphia for prominent speaking roles. House Democratic Leader Crisanta Duran, likely the next House Speaker should Democrats maintain control of the lower chamber, will tell the story of “Colorado, women, and Latinos” on Thursday evening. Governor John Hickenlooper is also scheduled to speak at the DNC later this week.

 

► There are conflicting reports about how far Gov. Hickenlooper really advanced in the Veepstakes to become Hillary Clinton’s running mate. Over the weekend, Clinton announced that she had tapped Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine for the VP role.

 

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Get More Smarter on Friday (July 22)

Get More SmarterGoodbye, Cleveland; hello, Philadelphia. It’s time to Get More Smarter with Colorado Pols. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of a visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show.

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► Donald Trump formally accepted the Republican nomination for President on Thursday to wrap up the Republican National Convention in Cleveland. Trump delivered a very long speech that seemed intended to scare voters more than inspire them to jump onboard the Big Orange Bus, as the Washington Post explains:

The language he used was as dark and ominous as in any acceptance speech in recent memory, and what he promised to fix was a mess that he laid directly at the feet of Clinton, the former secretary of state and wife of former president Bill Clinton, as well as at the feet of President Obama.

Running through a litany of problems in the Middle East that have happened over the past seven-plus years, Trump said of his rival: “The legacy of Hillary Clinton is death, destruction, terrorism and weakness.”…

…Paul Manafort, Trump’s campaign manager, had promised earlier in the week that Trump would campaign on a theme of law and order, a theme that was largely unspoken through much of the early months of Trump’s candidacy.

On Thursday, Trump embraced that message in the opening minutes of his speech, asserting that this is a “moment of crisis” for the country that threatens “our very way of life.” He painted a picture of an America out of control, with rising crime in big cities, police being shot and illegal immigrants streaming across the border.

“Beginning on January 20th of 2017, safety will be restored,” he said.

In a separate story about Trump’s acceptance speech, James Hohmann of the Washington Post summed up the remarks thusly:

Trump essentially used the most important speech of his campaign – and perhaps political career – to yell fire in a crowded theatre.

The Associated Press did some fact-checking on Trump’s acceptance speech, pointing out several problems with his statements on the economy, immigration, and — of course — Hillary Clinton.

 

► With the Republican Norovirus Convention coming to an end in Cleveland, John Frank of the Denver Post notes the continued defiance from Colorado delegates:

Colorado’s delegates remain reluctant to support Donald Trump, which is to say most of them will vote for the Republican nominee despite their bad history.

This is what it looked like Thursday night —  Donald Trump hit one of his big applause lines in his acceptance speech Thursday night at the Republican National Convention and his screaming fans jumped to their feet.

The Colorado delegation, for the most part, remained in their seats. Some clapped. Others sat arms crossed.

“Look at stubborn Colorado,” a Georgia delegate and Trump campaign surrogate snorted from behind the delegation’s seats.

Chris Cillizza of “The Fix” offers up his Winners and Losers from Day Four of the RNC.

 

► It appears increasingly likely that Hillary Clinton will name Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine as her running mate. From Politico:

Hillary Clinton’s veepstakes is ending the way it began: with the humble-but-sturdy Tim Kaine sitting at the top of her list.

After an extensive, months-long process during which the campaign considered a host of different options — even vetting a serious candidate from outside the political arena — the squeaky-clean Virginia senator, whose biggest liability to emerge was that he was boring, is emerging as Clinton’s top choice. Kaine has been urged along by two men familiar with the demands of the job: President Barack Obama and former president Bill Clinton, those close to the process say.

 

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Get More Smarter on Thursday (July 21)

Get More SmarterThe norovirus celebration in Cleveland comes to an official end tonight. It’s time to Get More Smarter with Colorado Pols. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of a visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show.

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► Former Republican Presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz emerged as the biggest story from Day Three of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, overshadowing an evening that was supposed to belong to Vice Presidential nominee Mike Pence. The big news from Cruz was his pointed refusal to endorse Donald Trump as the Republican nominee for President, a gambit that appears to be backfiring already. From the Washington Post:

Ted Cruz is on the defensive after he gambled his political career on refusing to endorse Donald Trump, with key allies turning on him and members of his home-state delegation questioning his motives.

After his dramatic prime-time speech here last night to the Republican convention, after which he left the stage to loud boos and was then refused entry into an angry Sheldon Adelson’s suite, the runner-up for the nomination came under friendly fire during a surreal Texas delegation breakfast.

As some chanted “Trump, Trump, Trump,” Cruz argued that the less courageous route would have been to skip the convention. He said he called Trump three days ago to say he wouldn’t endorse him. “Why not,” someone yelled from the crowd. “I’m happy to answer that, but I won’t engage in a screaming fight,” the senator replied…

…Another Texan asked him how he could go back on his pledge, made during a Fox News debate last summer in the very arena where he delivered his speech last night, to support whomever wins the GOP nomination. Cruz said Trump “abrogated” the pledge with “personal” attacks on his wife’s looks and by suggesting that his dad was somehow involved in the assassination of John F. Kennedy. “I’m not in the habit of supporting people who attack my wife and attack my father,” he said.

Cruz’s refusal to endorse Trump is obviously a longer-term political gamble that assumes Trump will lose badly in the General Election to Democrat Hillary Clinton. A likely Presidential candidate again in 2020, Cruz is also hoping that Republicans either forget his dismissal of the GOP nominee or somehow come to view the move as a principled political stance rather than a selfish grab for the spotlight. We may get the answer to this question fairly soon; much depends on whether or not Cruz’s non-endorsement actually moves the needle in a negative way for Trump or is generally ignored by GOP voters.

 

► Donald Trump will accept the Republican nomination for President tonight at the RNC in Cleveland (theoretically, at least). The success of the Convention in general may hinge on Trumps’ performance.

 

► Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper is not likely to be named as Hillary Clinton’s running mate on a Democratic ticket this fall. From the Denver Post:

Hillary Clinton may name her choice for vice president as early as Friday, and despite repeated flirtations, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee is not expected to propose to Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper.

Instead, three other Democrats — U.S. Sen. Timothy Kaine of Virginia, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Labor Secretary Tom Perez — emerged this week as more likely picks to join the Clinton ticket.

Rumors about a potential Vice Presidential slot for Hickenlooper have been ongoing for months now, reaching their peak last week after Hickenlooper met with Hillary at her home in Washington D.C. We can’t say we’re surprised by this — while Hick was certainly in the discussion at some point, there was never any strong indication that he had cracked the Top 3 on Clinton’s wish list. On the plus side for Hickenlooper and his supporters, it seems very likely that the Governor could end up with a Cabinet appointment in a potential Clinton administration.

 

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Get More Smarter on Wednesday (July 20)

Get More SmarterToday is the 47th anniversary of the first manned moon landing (if you believe in that sort of thing). It’s time to Get More Smarter with Colorado Pols. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of a visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show.

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► We can finally dismiss with the formality of calling Donald Trump the “presumptive” Republican nominee for President; on Tuesday delegates at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland made it official. Trump’s formal nomination came despite continued protests from Colorado’s delegation. As John Frank reports for the Denver Post, Colorado Republicans are being shunned as a result of their un-Trumpiness:

Colorado is the troublemaker at the Republican National Convention. And Donald Trump — many delegates believe — put them in the corner as a punishment.

The rebuke is obvious when you look at the red-carpeted convention floor. The seats for the state’s 37-member delegation are as far as possible from the stage in a not-so-subtle signal that it remains a “Never Trump” stronghold.

From its back-corner position Tuesday, Colorado defiantly cast 31 of its 37 votes for Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, drawing boos from the crowd inside Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland. Only four delegates declared support for Trump.

To make matters worse, the state later requested a correction to its tally to add two more delegates for Cruz after the first tally was announced with an error.

Colorado’s defiance didn’t make any difference in the results on Tuesday, as a rumored last-ditch anti-Trump protest failed to materialize.

 

► Trump’s running mate, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, takes center stage at the RNC tonight in his first real introduction to a national audience.

 

► Colorado will not see a fall ballot measure to suspend TABOR refunds after supporters announced that they were not able to generate sufficient resources to qualify for a November campaign. As Ernest Luning writes for the Colorado Statesman:

Supporters of a state ballot measure to set a 10-year time-out on TABOR revenue restrictions called it quits Tuesday, blaming what could be a crowded fall ballot, the high cost of getting across a complicated argument to voters and an “uncertain political climate.”

“In November, Colorado voters are going to be asked to decide on up to 10 statewide ballot initiatives, dozens of candidates as well as local ballot initiatives,” said Colorado Priorities co-chairs Dan Ritchie and Al Yates in a joint statement. “The crowded ballot has made it difficult to secure the resources necessary for us to win in November.”

The ballot measure would have asked voters to approve spending tax revenue — regardless of restrictions on revenue growth under the Taxpayer Bill of Rights — on education, transportation, mental health and services for seniors.

The proposal was one of several that emerged from Ritchie’s Building a Better Colorado effort, which was aimed at determining what state residents want from government and charting a course to get them there.

Colorado Priorities says that the proposed measure was polling very well in early testing.

 

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Get More Smarter on Tuesday (July 19)

Get More SmarterIf you catch any phrases below that look familiar, it’s probably the fault of a rogue speechwriter. It’s time to Get More Smarter with Colorado Pols. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of a visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show.

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► If there is a ray of hope for Republicans after a disastrous first day of the Republican National Convention, it may be as simple as this: It (probably) can’t get any worse in Cleveland. As Ron Fournier reports for The Atlantic:

Trump and his four-day infomercial are about to become laughingstocks—unless he quickly figures how to manage an enterprise far smaller and less complicated than the U.S. government.

A divisive first day of the GOP presidential convention turned to disaster late Monday night when the denizens of social media discovered that the candidate’s wife, Melania Trump, had plagiarized Michelle Obama’s 2008 convention speech. As you can see here, large portions of the speeches overlap in a way that can’t be blamed on coincidence.

The Trump campaign, as if often does, disputed the indisputable.

It’s difficult to pick the biggest story from Day One of the RNC, but you could certainly cite charges of plagiarism in Melania Trump’s speech on Monday evening. The Trump campaign was spending much of the day on Tuesday working on damage control.

As disasters go, you could also point to an afternoon delegate challenge of Trump as the Republican Presidential nominee as the big story of the day. An effort to force a state-by-state roll call vote, which was driven in part by Colorado’s Republican delegation, was shut down when Rep. Steve Womack appeared on stage (twice) to declare the challenge a failure.

 

► John Frank of the Denver Post has more on Monday’s delegate revolt against Donald Trump that included significant involvement from Colorado’s GOP delegation:

Republican leaders moved quickly to silence the effort — eager to present an image of unity despite a fractured party — and approved the rules on a debatable voice-vote that sparked a shouting match on the floor…

…“We were just completely robbed,” said Kendal Unruh, a Colorado delegate and a leader in the “Free the Delegates” movement that is part of the Delegates Unbound coalition scheming to upset Trump.

 

► Colorado Republican Senate nominee Darryl Glenn had a prime-time speaking role during the RNC on Monday evening that fell completely flat. Glenn’s speech was going to be overshadowed by earlier events at the RNC — as well as Melania Trump’s plagiarized remarks later in the evening — but Glenn didn’t help himself by delivering the same red meat cliche-ridden speech that helped him capture top line at the Colorado Republican Convention in April.

Here’s what Chris Cillizza of “The Fix” had to say about Glenn’s remarks in calling the El Paso County Commissioners one of the “Losers” of Day One:

A series of hackneyed one-liners (Hillary in an orange jumpsuit etc.) and blatant appeals for applause (stand up and cheer for blue lives) were bad enough. But this Glenn line put me over the edge: “Someone with a nice tan needs to say this. All lives matter.”  Oomph.

 

Get even more smarter after the jump…

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Celebrity state house candidate won’t say whether he’ll vote for Trump

(Don’t ask “questions” about “issues,” I’m a reality TV star! – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Donald Trump, Ben Higgins.

Donald Trump, Ben Higgins.

What does it take to score national media coverage even before you decide to run for a northwest Denver state house seat? Try being the star of ABC’s hit show, “The Bachelor.”

Bachelor star Ben Higgins has been stacking up the news coverage for his decision to run, as a Republican, for Colorado House District 4, which is an incredibly progressive northwest Denver district. I should know; I live there. Voters in HD 4 sent Democrat Dan Pabon into office with a 78 to 22 percent margin in 2014, and it’s hard to imagine his DUI arrest would turn voters to any Republican.

So how is Higgins possibly going to win in HD4? Is Higgins going to be some kind of anti-Republican Republican?

News coverage of the race didn’t illuminate his specific policy positions. So I called him with questions, and he had time to answer four on my list, leaving 21 queries for later, I hope.

This week, the biggest question for Republicans like Higgins is, will they vote for their party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump?

“How everybody votes is up to them,” said Higgins, declining to answer my question of whether he’d vote for Trump.

It’s a “good thing” that Trump’s running mate, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, is from Indiana, said Higgins, who’s also from Indiana, but he doesn’t know enough about Pence, a right-wing conservative, to comment on him.

Higgins would not say whether he’s pro-choice.

“My goal as a representative will be to listen to people’s stories,” said Higgins. “We can get in the weeds and the gray areas all the time. When it comes to any social issue, my decisions we be based on my foundation, which is my faith, and I will listen to people’s stories.”

Colorado Statesman referred to Higgins’ Christian faith, but Higgins has not detailed how it would play into the mix in his policy decisions.  From the Statesman:

While producers didn’t emphasize it on the show’s 20th season, fans have flocked to Higgins in part because of his strong Christian faith, demonstrated by a prominent tattoo that has been visible in his shirtless appearances on the show and on social media. “Commit to the Lord whatever you do and your plans will succeed — Proverbs 16:34,” the tattoo reads. (It should read “Proverbs 16:3,” Higgins acknowledges, but the tattoo artist mistakenly added a “4.”)

The business analyst from Warsaw, Indiana, was considered “such a catch” that contestants competed for his affection more intensely than in any previous season, The Bachelor creator Mike Fleiss told E! News in January.

Asked about gay marriage, Higgins said, “I am about everything that makes people happy. I believe love is love.”

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Sorry, Jon Caldara: Bustang’s a Hit

BustangHiResAs the Denver Business Journal’s Cathy Proctor reported last week:

Bustang, the Colorado Department of Transportation’s foray into regular statewide bus service, had a stellar first year, according to the agency better known for road and highway construction…

The agency had forecasted Bustang’s first year ridership at 87,376.

Actual ridership was 17 percent higher, with a total of 102,577 people taking Bustang through the end of June, said Bob Wilson, a CDOT spokesman.

CDOT expected revenues from paid fares to hit $647,817 for Bustang’s first year.

Instead, the actual revenue was 57 percent higher, with $1,014,781 recorded through the end of June, Wilson said.

As the Grand Junction Sentinel’s Dennis Webb reported this weekend, with the success of the system’s first year there is growing interest in expanding the Bustang service west:

The first-year success of the new state transit service called Bustang is spurring increased hopes of it one day galloping past Glenwood Springs to serve Grand Junction as well…

Wilson said the idea of extending the western service to Grand Junction is on the agency’s radar. There’s just no timetable for it occurring, and any expansion would require approval from the state Transportation Commission, whether additional funding is required or not.

“But extending it from Glenwood to Grand Junction is part of the plan,” [CDOT spokesman Bob] Wilson said. “… It’s become more likely as time has gone on because of the success of the west route.”

This story takes on added political significance because in this year’s legislative session, Republicans introduced legislation to eliminate funding for the Bustang system entirely. Even with income and ridership exceeding expectations, fares aren’t enough to cover the total budget for the Bustang service. The system is funded in part by revenues from the Funding Advancements for Surface Transportation and Economic Recovery Act of 2009 (FASTER) fee program. Longtime readers will recall that Republicans bitterly fought against FASTER as a violation of at least the spirit of the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights (TABOR), suing and losing all the way to the Colorado Supreme Court–and perennially vowing revenge at the ballot box for this skewering of their most sacred cow.

Well folks, now they’d be taking something away that benefits voters. It’s easy to understand why even the conservative bastion of Grand Junction would want this additional transportation option. The practicalities run up against their rigid ideology, and ideology loses.

And with apologies to the ideologues, that’s how it should be.

Another Far-Right Reality TV Star Runs for Office

Donald Trump, Ben Higgins.

Donald Trump, Ben Higgins.

As FOX 31 reports, it’s not just Donald Trump anymore! Ben Higgins, a conservative Republican who starred in ABC’s The Bachelor reality TV program, is officially running for the Colorado General Assembly in west Denver’s strongly blue House District 4:

Ben Higgins of “The Bachelor” fame is running for the state house in Colorado.

FOX31 Denver political reporter Joe St. George confirmed the information Friday night.

Higgins is a Republican and he will take on incumbent Democrat Dan Pabon in District 4.

Republicans are reportedly very excited about Higgins running, citing his name ID and…well, not much else. The reason is simple: HD-4 is one of the state’s most solidly Democratic districts. In 2014, a Republican “wave year,” Dan Pabon beat his Republican opponent with almost 80% of the vote. As an avowed Christian conservative Republican, Higgins’ agenda is nothing short of antithetical to the interests of the voters he is courting.

Once you realize that, the fool’s errand of Higgins’ run becomes apparent. Although there surely are voters who might be swayed by the superficial appeal of a reality TV candidate they are familiar with, we strongly suspect that the district’s diverse, worldly, and highly educated voters will find what Higgins actually stands for to be repugnant. Past the glitzy appeal of a television star running for office, Higgins simply has nothing to offer HD-4.

Whatever Higgins’ personal (not to mention commercial) aspirations may be in running for office, honest Republicans we’ve talked to consider this race to be more of a “resource sink”–forcing Democrats to spend money defending a seat that otherwise should not be on the table. In addition, Higgins is reportedly set to be filmed by a reality TV crew throughout his run for office, which could raise novel campaign finance issues.

We’d say forcing Democrats to divert resources to hold a “safe” seat is the best case scenario here for Republicans. In the worst case, the voters of HD-4 thrash Higgins so badly that the whole exercise simply does further damage to the Republican brand.

We say “further damage” out of deference to Higgins’ fellow reality TV star at the top of the ticket.

Get More Smarter on Wednesday (July 13)

MoreSmarterLogo-SunscreenJulius Caesar may or may not have been born on this day a long time ago; we’re not doing the math regardless. It’s time to Get More Smarter with Colorado Pols. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of a visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show.

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

A new poll from Monmouth University has Hillary Clinton leading Donald Trump by 13 points in Colorado — the same margin that Sen. Michael Bennet holds over Republican nominee Darryl Glenn. Both Clinton and Bennet are also doing well in Colorado according to data from Republican polling outfit Harper Polling. As the Denver Post reports:

The survey by Harper Polling found that Sen. Bennet had a 46 percent to 40 percent advantage over Republican rival Darryl Glenn. Clinton, the Democrats’ presumptive nominee for president, was ahead 45 percent to 38 percent over presumptive GOP nominee Donald Trump…

…“Glenn receives less support from Republicans (78 percent) than Bennet does from Democrats (83 percent), a result of lower name identification for Glenn among party voters,” noted Harper Polling. “Bennet holds a comfortable lead among Democratic-leaning moderates (32-48 percent) but Glenn narrows his lead to just 4 percent among independent voters (33-37 percent).”

Less comforting for Bennet, however, is that it was a tie at 38 percent as to whether he deserves re-election versus the feeling that it’s time to give someone new a chance.

We’d take that last caveat with more than one grain of salt, since poll respondents are often inclined to be more interested in something new when the question is this generic. The fact that Glenn receives less support from Republicans than Bennet does from Democrats is much more relevant in our mind, because those numbers aren’t likely to improve for Glenn given his low name ID and far-right policy beliefs. And with the Monmouth University poll showing Bennet with a 13-point lead, it’s safe to say that Bennet is comfortably ahead at this point in the race.

The Colorado Springs Independent ponders whether Glenn will continue to exceed expectations in his bid for U.S. Senate or ultimately flame out in November. If you’re playing at home, go with choice #2.

 

► We’re still waiting to hear who Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump will choose as his running mate in advance of next week’s Republican National Convention in Cleveland. While the list of potential Vice Presidential candidates hasn’t been particularly robust for Trump — many top names in the Republican Party want no part of this mess — Indiana Gov. Mike Pence may need Trump more than Trump needs him. From the Washington Post:

Pence risks looking desperate as he all but pleads for the job. During their joint appearance outside Indianapolis, it felt at times like the governor wants to be rescued from having to stand for reelection this November…

…A major reason Pence wants to be Trump’s running-mate so badly is that he could lose his bid for a second term.

— All along, the Democratic theory of the case to beat Pence this fall has been to define him as “distracted.” He ran promising to focus on jobs and education, but his tenure has been overshadowed and defined by culture war clashes, from a botched religious freedom bill (which he had to “fix” under pressure) to new restrictions on abortion.

If you aren’t catching the whiff of desperation from Pence, consider this comment from Pence during a Trump rally on Tuesday: “Trump understands the frustrations and the hopes of the American people like no other American leader in my lifetime since Ronald Reagan.”

Just 10 weeks ago, Pence endorsed Sen. Ted Cruz for President.

 

► Colorado delegates may be at the front of the line in an “anti-Trump” movement during next week’s GOP National Convention. Shaun Boyd has more for CBS4 Denver.

 

 

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