Homophobic Williams to run for Chaps’ old House seat

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Constituents of House District 15 in El Paso County have been represented for almost two years  by a homophobic, gaffe-prone politician with ethical challenges:  Dr. Gordon Klingenschmitt, aka “Dr. Chaps“. Now, unless mass sanity strikes, they will probably be represented by another gay-bashing, hot-tempered, inexperienced  politician: David O. Williams.

“Chaps” announced that he would not run again for HD15; he is now running against Bob Gardner for  SD12,term-limited Senate President Cadman’s district. Chaps’ long-suffering constituents should have had a reprieve from embarrassing stories about their duly elected representative. Klingenschmitt’s greatest hits have included claiming that a brutal assault on a pregnant woman was God’s punishment, saying that Rep. Jared Polis wants to behead Christians, and being under IRS investigation for possible  financial misconduct.

david o williams

David O. Williams, candidate for HD15

Unfortunately, House District 15’s new Republican nominee, David O. Williams, looks to be potentially every bit as embarrassing as Chaps. Homophobia? Check. Lack of elected experience? Check. Hot temper – Shoot first, then aim? Check. Dubious financial history, only ever employed in his father-in-law’s business, kicked out of the only two positions he’s ever been elected to ? Check. Add to this access to weapons and $2,000 from Rocky Mountain Gun Owners in 12/2013, and EPCO HD15 voters may have another embarrassingly rocky two years ahead of them.

David Williams is the son-in-law of his employer,  Doyle McAlister, who was a registered sex offender in 2013.  McAlister’s company, MKW Global Sourcing, is primarily in the Chinese export-import business.  MKW employs Williams as Program Manager.

Williams ran for HD15  in 2014, but Dr. Chaps got the nod from the El Paso County delegates. Williams’  homophobic behavior is well known, and has included booing a “Log Cabin” gay delegate; threatening someone else with an AR15; discriminating against funding of gay clubs as UCCS Student Body President, and fostering a climate of gay-bashing and bullying during his tenure, because of which he was finally impeached.

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Get More Smarter on Thursday (March 31)

Get More SmarterToday is the last day of March (already) and it appears that we’re going to “Go Out Like a Lion” where the weather is concerned. 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).

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► Is the House of Representatives really in play this year? We’re skeptical that Democrats could win the 30 seats needed in 2016 in order to retake control of the House, but if nothing else, Democrats are hopeful that they can make a serious dent in the GOP majority thanks in part to rising voter anxiety regarding Donald Trump. From The Associated Press:

Democrats are grabbing election-season television time in eight markets from New Hampshire to Nevada as part of their longshot bid to take majority control of the House.

The House Majority PAC, a political committee that helps Democratic candidates, said Wednesday it is reserving $7.5 million worth of time for ads for the last weeks of the campaign. Ad time reserved in advance is usually less expensive, sometimes dramatically so, than time purchased at the last minute…

…The markets cover around a dozen House districts that could see competitive elections in November. They include Denver, Colorado, where GOP Rep. Mike Coffman is being challenged, and West Palm Beach, Florida, where Democratic Rep. Patrick Murphy is abandoning his seat to run for the Senate.

That’s right, friends: Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Aurora) is once again at the top of a short list of vulnerable Republican incumbents in 2016.

Meanwhile, members of the House Republican Freedom Caucus — which counts Greeley Congressman Ken Buck among its group — are hopeful that they can add 20-30 “new” Freedom Caucus Members through the 2016 election process. In other words, both Democrats and right-wing Republicans are trying to take control of the House chambers from the rest of the GOP.

 

► The first quarter fundraising period ends tonight, and it is a milestone marker for the Republican candidates running for U.S. Senate. Not only is this the first full fundraising quarter for many GOP candidates…it will be the last full quarter until after the June 28th Primary. For candidates such as former Rep. John Keyser, only the entire future of his campaign is at stake.

 

► Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) has been identified as one of a handful of potential “movable” Senators being targeted by the White House to help advance President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee. We hate to be the wet blanket here, but the reason Gardner seems “movable” is because he goes out of his way to take every position on an issue so as to obfuscate his true intentions.

 

 

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Senate GOP Kills Equal Pay Bills, Hopes Women Don’t Notice

Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg.

Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg.

The Denver Business Journal’s Ed Sealover reports on the death yesterday afternoon of two bills meant to help women in Colorado close the persistent gap in earnings between themselves and their male colleagues in the GOP-controlled Senate State Affairs Committee:

Three men voted over the objections of two other men Wednesday to kill the two major efforts of the 2016 Colorado Legislature’s session aimed at shrinking the gap in pay between women and men.

After lengthy debates the past two weeks in the House of Representatives on the subject, the Senate State, Veterans and Military Affairs Committee quickly dispatched of a pair of proposals aimed at ensuring that state contractors follow federal equal-pay laws and to ban employers from asking the salary history of job applicants. Both died on 3-2 party-line votes of Republicans over Democrats…

You’ve got to love the stock photo Sealover included with his story, which tells the story all by itself:

equalpay

Although pay equity is a problem nationally even 50 years after the passage of the Equal Pay Act in the early 1960s, statistics show the problem is in fact worse in the state of Colorado than the national average. In Colorado, women earn an average of 78 cents on the dollar their male counterparts make–a gap that advocates say can’t be explained away by the usual presumptions about the lives of women made by…well, made by men.

The Senate State Affairs Committee’s all-male Republican majority included Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg, the very same GOP Senator who had apologized just a couple of days earlier for referring to a female Senate colleague as “eye candy” during debate on a moribund bill to tax corporate earnings stashed away in overseas tax havens. The same female Senator in fact presented the second of the two bills that died yesterday, the irony of which dripped from the hearing even though no one had the boldness to say it into a hot mic.

Nationally, as we know from the headlines, women voters are in the process of being repelled en masse by Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump. Trump just yesterday committed perhaps the worst in a seemingly endless procession of woman-alienating gaffes, suggesting and then retreating from the suggestion that women should receive “some form of punishment” for having an abortion. Trump’s gleeful sexist attacks on any woman with the temerity to question him have given him favorability numbers among women somewhere in the post-execution Ted Bundy range. Even if Trump self-destructs in the next few weeks, he has ripped open one of the GOP’s biggest scabs–and we feel pretty confident that Ted Cruz won’t be able to heal it.

Bottom line: if you can’t make the connection for voters from Trump’s over-the-top sexism to Jerry Sonnenberg’s “eye candy,” you should get out of politics. The fractured Republican presidential race is increasingly forecast to have serious downticket implications for Republicans, putting the U.S. Senate, and in some more boostery Democratic circles, even the U.S. House in play.

If we were a Republican under Colorado’s Gold Dome, we’d be every bit as nervous.

What to Expect When You’re Expecting Fundraising Numbers

We're going to need a bigger jar...preferably one that isn't filled with Euros.

We’re going to need a bigger jar…preferably one that isn’t filled with Euros.

When we discuss the Senate race here at Colorado Pols, we often write that “there are more than a dozen” Republican candidates in 2016. This is, admittedly, a vaguely bizarre statement. But it is difficult to provide a more specific answer to a query that is not as precise as it may seem.

How many people are seeking the GOP nomination for U.S. Senate this year? That answer depends on your definition of a U.S. Senate candidate. Any moron can file paperwork with the Federal Elections Commission to become a “candidate” for one of the top elected jobs in the land. It is a little more difficult to convince a media outlet to run a story about your candidacy, but getting your name mentioned in the newspaper does not make you a serious candidate in and of itself.

The question we are all trying to answer is much more specific: How many serious candidates are seeking the Republican U.S. Senate nomination in 2016?

We may finally have a solid answer to this question in the next week or two, because the first full fundraising quarter of 2016 comes to a close on March 31. Serious candidates have serious money to play with. If you can raise money, you can cover up a lot of warts in a campaign. If you can’t raise money…well, then you’re just pretending to run for office.

There are other important deadlines up ahead – including the April 4 date for submitting petition signatures for ballot access – but the first full fundraising quarter for much of the GOP field will tell us plenty about which Republicans have a real chance at winning the nomination in 2016.

For comparison’s sake, let’s first take a look at some prior fundraising figures for Colorado Senate candidates. At the Q2 fundraising period from 2014 – the first full quarter with Cory Gardner as the GOP’s top candidate to challenge incumbent Democratic Sen. Mark Udall — Gardner reported raising $2.7 million compared to $3.1 million for Udall. In 2015, incumbent Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet averaged nearly $2 million in contributions each quarter, ending the year with $6.7 million cash on hand.

These figures are on the higher end of what to expect from most Republicans when Q1 fundraising numbers are released, but a $2 to $3 million quarter is not unreasonable when you consider that Colorado is a top target for Republicans in 2016 (Bennet is the only Democratic Senator running for re-election in a “winnable” state this year). If Republicans are going to make a serious run at Bennet in 2016, millions of dollars are going to be raised by somebody (or somebodies). And while Q1 is the first full fundraising period for many GOP candidates, it is also the last full fundraising period before the June 28 Primary; nobody will get a second chance to impress on the money side of things.

Here’s a quick look at the names and numbers we’re watching as we approach the close of the Q1 fundraising period…

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Get More Smarter on Wednesday (March 30)

MoreSmarter-RainNo, you were not dreaming — it really did rain last night. 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).

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► We all knew it couldn’t last. During a CNN “town hall” event on Tuesday the three remaining Republican Presidential candidates backed away from prior pledges that they would back the eventual GOP nominee no matter which candidate is selected. Frontrunner Donald Trump is feeling sad because he thinks the Republican National Committee doesn’t like him (well, he’s right on that):

Trump and his team have braced for the possibility of a contested convention in recent weeks, as opposing forces have set their sights on denying him the nomination by preventing him from crossing the necessary delegate threshold.

Trump said that he believes establishment Republicans and the RNC in particular have not treated him with respect.

“I’m the front-runner by a lot. I’m beating Ted Cruz by millions of votes,” he said. “This was not going to happen with the Republican Party. People who have never voted before, Democrats and independents are pouring in and voting for me.”

Trump is apparently convinced that everybody is voting for him already.

 

► The detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, may eventually be shut down, but its occupants won’t be headed for Colorado anytime soon. As John Frank reports for the Denver Post:

Gov. John Hickenlooper said Tuesday that he will stand “firmly against” the potential transfer of Guantanamo Bay detainees to Colorado because of local opposition, making his strongest statement on a  heated political issue.

The Democrat said he is hearing from residents in Fremont County — home to two prisons under consideration to house the detainees — that the community opposes the transfer.

Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Denver) has also publicly opposed the transfer of any detainees to Colorado prisons. Senator Cory Gardner (R-Yuma), meanwhile, would like to see the GITMO facility expanded rather than shuttered.

 

► Redistricting proposals in Colorado are multiplying like a Gremlin at a water park (if you’re younger than 30, you’re just going to have to trust us on that analogy).

 

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Get More Smarter on Tuesday (March 29)

Get More SmarterIt is Tuesday, once again, though this one isn’t even sorta-super; there are no Presidential primaries or caucuses today. 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).

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► State Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg was taken to the Republican Party woodshed yesterday after referring to fellow Sen. Kerry Donovan as “eye candy” during a Senate committee debate about legislation dealing with offshore tax havens.

 

► Vice President Joe Biden will be in Boulder on April 8 to speak about sexual violence. From the Longmont Times-Call:

Biden will be in Boulder on April 8 as part of the Obama administration’s “It’s On Us” campaign to prevent sexual assault on college campuses, according to press secretary Meghan Dubyak.

The time and location of Biden’s visit were not yet available, she said. In a news release, the university said ticketing information would be announced at a later date.

Biden also will visit the University of Pittsburgh and the University of Nevada Las Vegas during the “It’s On Us Week of Action” next week, Dubyak said.

Shortly after the launch of the campaign in the fall of 2014, the Boulder campus embraced the idea and applauded the White House for acknowledging a serious national issue.

 

► Former Colorado State University Athletic Director Jack Graham is the first Republican U.S. Senate candidate to submit petition signatures to qualify for the June Primary ballot.

 

 

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Get More Smarter on Monday (March 28)

Get More SmarterIf you were in Canada, you’d have the day off today for Easter Monday (you’d also have a totally dreamy Prime Minister). 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).

 

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► Colorado’s budget makes its way to the House floor today, and there are plenty of concerns about funding cuts. Monique Becker of the Loveland Reporter-Herald reports on how legislators in Northern Colorado are explaining the budget problems to local constituents; Joe St. George of Fox 31 Denver outlines a broader Q&A on the state budget; and Kelsey Ray of the Colorado Independent looks at budget discussions that could cost nearly 100 jobs because of GOP partisan opposition to the Clean Power Plan.

 

► Former Fox 31 reporter Eli Stokols, now with Politico, takes a look at how Republican Presidential candidates Donald TrumpTed Cruz, and John Kasich are sifting through a list of unpledged Colorado GOP delegates:

With a still unsettled three-way primary fight appearing to be headed for a contested convention in July, Colorado’s GOP assemblies over the next week offer Donald Trump and Ted Cruz a major opportunity to win a significant pile of delegates chosen almost completely by party insiders. Now, it’s up to the three candidates to convince the party to pick delegates who promise to vote in their favor…
…Cruz confirmed Monday that he will attend the Colorado GOP’s state assembly on April 9. And Trump and John Kasich are also tentatively planning to attend the confab of roughly 6,000 party activists in Colorado Springs, where 27 of the state’s 33 delegates to the RNC convention will be elected.

April 9th is going to be YUGE in Colorado Springs!

 

► Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal rejected the wishes of his fellow Republican lawmakers in vetoing a so-called “religious freedom” bill today. From the Washington Post:

Deal on Monday vetoed a controversial religious liberties bill that had provoked outrage from Hollywood, sports leagues and corporations for what critics said was its discrimination against gay and transgender people.

“I do not think we have to discriminate against anyone to protect the faith-based community in Georgia, which I and my family have been a part of for generations,” Deal said at a news conference announcing his decision.

Deal’s decision comes two weeks after the state legislature passed a bill aimed at shoring up the rights of religious organizations to refuse services that clash with their faith, particularly with regard to same-sex marriage. Deal, who had already expressed discomfort with the measure, came under enormous pressure to veto the bill after the National Football League suggested it might pass over Atlanta for future Super Bowls, and leading Hollywood figures threatened to pull production from the state.

 

 

 

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Get More Smarter on Thursday (March 24)

MoreSmarterLogo-SnowmanHappy “little Purim” everybody! 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).

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► The Colorado legislature (most of them, anyway) took a snow day on Wednesday. But as Megan Schrader reports for the Colorado Springs Gazettethere was no vacation from absurd rhetoric. Here’s State Senate President Bill Cadman reacting to Democratic claims that his caucus is overly-influenced by the Koch Brothers-funded Americans for Prosperity (AFP):

“It’s astounding that the same group of Democrats who generated historic recalls of their own members, who incited a lawsuit against the state of Colorado from 55 of our own sheriffs, who caused nearly a dozen counties to seek secession from Colorado, [Pols emphasis] and who pushed multiple billion-dollar tax hikes rejected by Colorado citizens, think they should be given the authority of the majority when it comes to bill assignments,” Cadman said.

As we wrote in this space this morning, Cadman is smoking something:

Got that? Recalls that were undone a year later. A lawsuit Jon Caldara “the sheriffs” lost again two days ago. Rejected tax hikes that weren’t referred by the legislature.  And above all, the “North Colorado” secession movement that was laughed off by voters and made the Eastern Plains the butt of nationwide jokes. These are the justifications being held up for opposing something the entire rest of the state, including Republicans across Colorado and members of Cadman’s own GOP caucus, support.

It’s totally insane, folks. To say this not how government is supposed to work is a huge understatement.

 

► It has been 31 years since the average temperature on Earth was cooler than normal (February 1985 was the last month). With any luck, it won’t take another 30 years for Colorado Senate Republicans to acknowledge that man-made climate change is an actual “thing” that we should be worried about. As we wrote on Wednesday:

Unfortunately you can’t have a grownup discussion of the objectives and merits of the Clean Power Plan with the Senate GOP, because they refuse to acknowledge there’s a problem with human emissions and climate change at all. Even if this bill doesn’t directly address the underlying purpose of the Clean Power Plan, everybody knows that’s what this debate is really all about…

…With new science and polling demonstrating both the urgent reality and public acceptance of human-caused global climate change, there’s going to come a point when this kind of rank ignorance will be disqualifying from mainstream politics, much like Holocaust denial became after Simon Wiesenthal or anti-LGBT bigotry increasingly is today.

But as you can see, at least in the Colorado Senate, we’re not there yet.

And until then, we’ll continue to see asinine legislation such as SB-157, which would suspend all Colorado efforts to meet the requirements of the new Clean Power Plan. We’ll just figure out how to cross that bridge after it burns down.

 

 

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Get More Smarter on Wednesday (March 23)

MoreSmarterLogo-SnowmanOur condolences to those Colorado students who would have had a snow day today…if they weren’t in the middle of Spring Break already. 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).

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► The Colorado legislature has called a “snow day” for Wednesday. Arguments — about everything — are expected to resume tomorrow.

► Arizona, Utah, and Idaho (Democrats only) cast votes in the race for President on Tuesday. Chris Cillizza of “The Fix” names his “Winners and Losers” from the evening; prepare for a lot of repetition from here on out.

Donald Trump: Arizona was the big prize of the night, the third biggest winner-take-all state on the map with 58 delegates. There was some chatter in the days leading up to the vote that Ted Cruz might be sneaking up on Trump — the Texas Senator spent time in the state — and could be poised to pull an upset. Nope.  Trump won by 22 points, taking 47 percent of the vote. Would Trump have had a better night if Cruz had come in under 50 percent in Utah? Sure. But only by a little since Trump was never going to take more than a small handful of delegates out of the heavily Mormon State. Nothing that happened on Tuesday night changed the dynamic of the GOP race. Trump, at 739 delegates, is clearly in first place and still the only candidate with a genuine chance of winning the 1,237 delegates to formally claim the party’s nomination. That’s a good night for him.

Hillary Clinton: The only way that Clinton isn’t the Democratic nominee is if she starts losing big states by large margins. That didn’t happen on Tuesday night. Clinton won the big delegate prize of Arizona while losing Idaho and Utah by big numbers to Bernie Sanders. The Sanders folks will focus on his two wins but the truth of Sanders’s delegate deficit is he needs to win states like Arizona with 80 percent of the vote, not states like Utah or Idaho.  There just aren’t enough delegates in those to narrow Clinton’s lead. And, she knows it. Notice that her speeches in the last week or so — since the March 15 votes — have turned their focus to Trump almost entirely. Clinton is in the midst of a general election pivot.  Tuesday night proved, again, why this nomination fight is close to over.

► For those of you who have felt a little panicked because Colorado doesn’t have an official Lieutenant Governor, well, you can finally relax. Bill Vidal Donna Lynne is here! From Joey Bunch of the Denver Post:

Donna Lynne, a Kaiser Permanente executive and a longtime ally of Gov. John Hickenlooper, is the nominee to become Colorado’s next lieutenant governor, an administration official confirmed Wednesday morning… …Lynne, 62, is executive vice president of the Kaiser Foundation Health Plan and Kaiser Foundation Hospitals, as well as the group president responsible for Kaiser’s Colorado, Pacific Northwest and Hawaii regions. If confirmed, she would replace Joe Garcia, who  announced his resignation in November to become president of the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education, a Boulder-based organization that’s to assist colleges and universities in 16 Western states.

Lynne is not expected to run for Governor when Hickenlooper is term-limited in 2018, which was a significant point in her favor. Hickenlooper was careful not to select a Light Gov. who would gain a head start on the Democratic nomination for Governor.   Get even more smarter after the jump… (more…)

Federal Court Rejects Sheriff Gun Law Appeal

Guns.

Guns.

Apropos news from the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals, hearing the case of a bunch of elected Colorado sheriffs vs. Gov. John Hickenlooper, seeking to overturn the state’s landmark 2013 gun safety laws–in particular the laws requiring background checks on most private gun transfers, and limiting magazine capacity to 15 rounds. Tomorrow, the Senate State Affairs Committee will consider the second bill this session that would repeal the magazine limit.

Here’s the decision released earlier today. The 2013 gun laws remain the law of the land:

Several organizations, individuals, and businesses brought suit against Colorado’s governor, John Hickenlooper, arguing the statutes violate the Second Amendment, the Fourteenth Amendment, and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). But it was clear from this litigation’s inception that the plaintiffs’ standing to assert these claims was less than assured; the parties litigated the issue at every turn. As the result of one of these bouts of jurisdictional wrangling, the district court concluded several Colorado sheriffs lacked standing to bring their claims and dismissed them from the case.

After a nine-day bench trial, the district court expressed skepticism that any of the remaining plaintiffs had established standing to challenge § 18-12-112 and § 18-12-302. Nevertheless, “with the benefit of some generous assumptions,” it found that at least one plaintiff had standing to challenge each statute. App. at 1762. After winning the jurisdictional battle, however, the plaintiffs ultimately lost the war; the district court entered judgment in favor of the defendant on all claims…

Because the plaintiffs failed to carry their burden of establishing Article III standing, the district court lacked jurisdiction to consider their claims. We therefore affirm the district court’s order dismissing the sheriffs’ claims and its denial of the subsequent motion to alter or amend that order; vacate the district court’s order granting judgment in favor of the defendant; remand with directions to dismiss the action for lack of jurisdiction; and dismiss the parties’ pending motions as moot.

The short version is that Independence Institute lawyer Dave Kopel and the county sheriff plaintiffs in this suit already lost their case against the 2013 gun safety laws on the merits in federal district court. Today’s appeals court ruling rejects the standing of the sheriffs and other plaintiffs to bring their suit to begin with, and vacates the sheriffs’ prior loss with an order to dismiss the case entirely.

Some proponents of the 2013 laws might have actually preferred that ruling upholding the laws on the merits stand, but there’s certainly nothing about this that helps the longshot legal case against laws for which ample precedent exists–an effort that is reportedly nonetheless very lucrative for the Independence Institute in terms of fundraising, if not so much a winner, you know, in the courtroom.

Don’t worry–this case, or some version thereof, has at least a couple good rounds of fundraising left in it.

Get More Smarter on Tuesday (March 22)

Get More SmarterSend happy thoughts to our friends in Belgium today. 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).

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► Today isn’t a “Super Tuesday” — in fact, it’s only a tad more interesting than a regular Tuesday — but there are more delegates at stake for candidates seeking their Party’s respective nominations for President. Both Democrats and Republicans are voting in Arizona (primary) and Utah (caucus), while Democrats will caucus alone in Idaho and Republicans will hold a “convention” in American Samoa (though no preference poll will be conducted).

On the Democratic side, Arizona is emerging as a must-win state for Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders; while he is expected to perform well in Utah and Idaho, Arizona is the big prize with its 85 delegates.

For Republicans, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz is expected to perform well in Utah, where 2012 GOP Presidential nominee Mitt Romney has been campaigning hard against Donald Trump. His Hairness is the favorite in Arizona, where a winner-take-all Primary could net Trump 58 more delegates.

 

► The terrorist group ISIS is claiming responsibility for a series of attacks in Brussels, Belgium that have killed at least 30 people. From CNN:

ISIS claimed to strike yet again on European soil Tuesday, saying its “fighters” launched attacks on the airport and a subway station in Belgium’s capital that killed at least 30 people and wounded about 230 more.

While jarring, the carnage wasn’t altogether surprising. Belgium has been going after terrorist threats for months, as illustrated by last week’s capture of Europe’s most wanted man, Salah Abdeslam, in a bloody raid in Brussels.

“We were fearing terrorist attacks,” Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel told reporters Tuesday. “And that has now happened.”

A Belgian government representative told CNN that 20 people died at the Maelbeek metro station and 130 were wounded, plus 10 more were killed and 100 wounded at Brussels’ international airport.

President Barack Obama made an historic speech in Havana on Tuesday morning in which he addressed the Cuban people directly. As Obama told the crowd, his visit to Cuba was intended “to bury the last remnant of the Cold War in the Americas.”

 

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Get More Smarter on Monday (March 21)

Get More SmarterThe first day of Spring was on Sunday…no, really. 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).

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► Republican Presidential frontrunner Donald Trump unveiled the first group of names for his “foreign policy team” should His Hairness actually become President. Meanwhile, as Politico reports, there is optimism among some Democrats that a GOP ticket headed by Trump could cost Republicans their House Majority:

Democrats have for the past year discussed the GOP’s 30-seat majority as a long-term problem, solvable only by shrinking it over several successive elections. But Trump’s remarkable rise in the GOP presidential race, and the backlash he has already provoked among the broader electorate, has suddenly raised the prospect of a large November wave against Trump and the Republicans who would share the ballot with him.

The House GOP’s leading indicators — its most vulnerable members, like Reps. Bob Dold and Carlos Curbelo — are already sounding the alarm against Trump and his rhetoric on women, Hispanics and other groups. The party’s outside groups are preparing an intensified fundraising push to help defend the chamber. The respected Cook Political Report downgraded Republicans’ chances in 10 districts Friday. And though the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, which has been stung by overzealous predictions in past years, won’t say outright that the majority is in play, the party is clearly thinking about it.

► Colorado lawmakers have a lot of work to do in the second half of the 2016 legislative session, as Peter Marcus writes for the Durango Herald.

 

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Get More Smarter on Friday (March 18)

MoreSmarterLogo-SnowmanIt wouldn’t be nearing Spring Break in Colorado if there wasn’t a little snow first. 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).

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► Colorado Democrats began rolling out their “equal pay” agenda in the state legislature on Thursday. As Peter Marcus reports for the Durango Herald:

Two bills passed through the House Business Affairs and Labor Committee on party-line votes, which does not bode well for the bills in the Republican-controlled Senate.

In addition to the legislation that would ban employers from asking about salary history, Democrats also advanced a bill that would require a large business that bids for a government contract to prove that it is in compliance with equal-pay standards and laws in order to be considered for the procurement process.

The Republican-controlled state Senate is likely to squash any attempts at creating pay equity in Colorado, because, freedom or something.

► House Speaker Paul D. Ryan continues to sniff around the Presidential race. As Politico reports:

House Speaker Paul Ryan met Thursday night at a pricey French restaurant here with some of the party’s biggest donors to assess a political landscape dominated by one vexing question: what to do about Donald Trump.

The dinner was a highlight of a secretive two-day conclave, convened under heavy security by a donor group headed by New York hedge-fund manager Paul Singer, that is being viewed as a pivotal moment for the big-money effort to block Trump from the Republican presidential nomination.

Ryan continues to insist that he is not trying to position himself as a potential compromise Presidential candidate to come out of a theoretical “brokered convention” for the Republicans. Ryan continues to increase his involvement in the race for the GOP nomination, however, and this week former Speaker John Boehner publicly suggested that Republicans should align behind Ryan as a compromise Presidential candidate.

As our friends at “The Fix” explain, Republicans are still largely locked into anti-Trump mode:

That’s the question facing establishment Republicans today: Do they line up behind Trump now in hopes of managing him and making him more acceptable to a general electorate or do they continue to fight like hell to keep him from the nomination, running the risk by doing so that they could severely damage him and themselves for November?

The latter route appears to be the one that most establishment Republicans are taking. For now.

 

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Yes, That DOA “Religious Freedom” Bill Mattered

GOP Rep. JoAnn Windholz (center).

GOP Rep. JoAnn Windholz (center).

A press release from Coloradans for Freedom yesterday celebrates the death of House Bill 16-1180, a bill to allow individuals to claim an exemption from nondiscrimination and other laws due to “religious convictions.”

During the committee hearing, opponents of the bill testified that religious freedom is already protected in the First Amendment of the Constitution and that the proposed bill would open up a can of worms that could have unintended consequences–effectively sending a message that Colorado is not open for business to everyone.

Due to the sweeping nature of bills like HB-1180, which are ripe for abuse and have already led to lawsuits across the country at taxpayers’ expense, a number of community groups and individuals have spoken out against HB 1180.

Before the hearing, a coalition of Colorado business owners, faith leaders, and community groups held a press conference opposing HB 1180 at the Colorado State Capitol. Speakers included: Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Kelly Brough, local faith leader Reverend Doctor Louise Westfall, Executive Director of Voices for Children CASA Nia Wassink, former Republican Arapahoe County Commissioner and CEO of the South Metro Chamber of Commerce John Brackney, former Republican State legislators Al and Jean White, and Boulder County District Attorney Stan Garnett.

Boulder County DA Stan Garnett.

Boulder County DA Stan Garnett.

Boulder County DA Stan Garnett wrote an op-ed about the bill for the Boulder Daily Camera:

[T]here is a proposal making its way through the Colorado Legislature that would undermine our laws and allow people to claim their religion gives them permission to ignore laws they don’t like. If House Bill 1180 passes, it will create great uncertainty for law enforcement and prosecutors across the state. The way in which these proposed exemptions could undermine the rule of law are vast and unpredictable…

With such a statute in place, a man could obstruct law enforcement by claiming that certain domestic violence laws don’t apply to him because of his belief that a husband has the right to discipline his wife and children as he sees fit, a landlord who believes a man should be the head of household could refuse to rent an apartment to a single mother, and a police officer could refuse to defend a mosque or synagogue by saying it goes against her religious beliefs.

The debate over so-called “religious freedom restoration” laws has been a major flashpoint since well before the U.S. Supreme Court legalized marriage equality in a landmark decision last year, but that decision has pushed the religious right to introduce these bills with greater urgency. The ability to claim a religious exemption from discrimination law where it concerns LGBT citizens is tough to defend constitutionally all by itself, but the implications of the bill don’t stop there. This kind of legislation could subvert all kinds of other laws which are much less controversial, like child and spousal abuse.

Nia Wassink: In Alabama, which has broad religious exemption laws, child care centers who claim they are “religiously-based” are allowed to operate without licensure. One such facility was able to operate even after repeated claims and reports from parents about children being taped to chairs, locked in rooms for hours on end, and left in soiled diapers all day. Even though reports were made to child protective services and local law enforcement, these agencies were unable to intervene because of this law. A sergeant with the local police department who received these claims said, “the law is unfortunate. It does not protect the kids.”

These types of laws hamper the efforts of those trying to ensure that kids are safe.

Although HB-1180 was always going to die in the Democratic-controlled House, the large number of sponsors of the bill are a reminder that a broad range of really scary legislation is never more than one election away from passage right here in Colorado–as 2014 Republican gubernatorial candidate Bob Beauprez reminded voters that year when he proudly announced he believes IUDs are an “abortifacient.” The kind of legislation that apologist pundits and editorial boards tell voters is nothing to fear after Labor Day.

But these aren’t “zombie bills” to be ignored. They are a warning to be heeded.

Get More Smarter on St. Patrick’s Day (March 17)

GMS-GreenGreen beer is okay, but we’d stay away from any green foods that aren’t vegetables. 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).

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► Senate Republicans continue to insist that they will refuse to discuss any potential Supreme Court nominee, and yesterday President Obama called their bluff by nominating Merrick Garland to fill the vacancy created by the death of Judge Antonin Scalia. The White House is keeping the GOP backed firmly into its corner by pushing a nominee whose qualifications are difficult to ignore.

Elsewhere, the Washington Post takes a deeper dive into Garland’s background, and Colorado’s Congressional delegation appears to be solidly divided on partisan lines.

 

Republicans are still in full panic mode over the likelihood that Donald Trump will capture the GOP Presidential nomination, but will the Republican Party really reject its own voters by trying to force a “brokered convention” in Cleveland?

The Aurora Sentinel picks up on the re-election concerns of Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Aurora):

…The GOP party faithful here are worried whether Donald Trump as their party’s presidential nominee will dump a bucket of Goldwater on Republican candidates down the ticket. They’re hoping the country isn’t going to party like it’s 1964, when the famous Arizona senator practically single-handedly handed complete control of the government over to the Democrats. For those of us who remember the “Daisy” ad what seemed like crazy talk back then, Quid speaks for most of those saying to the Trump, “Donald, you’re no Barry Goldwater.”

But Republican electeds all over the state, once whimsical about Making America something something something are now worried that if Trump snags the nomination, an anti-Trump electorate could trample anything that ends in -R, including a Colorado Senator, Congressman Mike Coffman and possibly Congressman Ken Buck.

 

Get even more smarter after the jump…

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