Coffman(s) for U.S. Senate?

Mike and Cynthia Coffman. And dog.

Will Mike Coffman run for Senate in 2016? What about Cynthia? Or the dog?

The D.C. publication Roll Call has an interesting story today probing around about Republicans looking for their next statewide candidate to potentially challenge Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet in 2016, and it leads with the possibility that the GOP nominee may eventually have the last name of Coffman. But which one? Rep. Mike Coffman, or his wife, newly-elected Attorney General Cynthia Coffman?

This Senate race could make for interesting dinner conversation in one Colorado household.

Republicans say battle-tested Rep. Mike Coffman and his wife, Cynthia Coffman, the state’s newly elected attorney general, are two of the party’s top prospects to challenge Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet in 2016…

…In a Sunday phone interview with CQ Roll Call, Cynthia Coffman said she had asked her husband if he was going to run for Senate, but he had not asked her.

“He seems to be committed to being in Congress,” she said. “I think we’re both excited about what we’ve got to do over the next two years.”

Cynthia Coffman said it was “fun” and “flattering” to be mentioned, but for now she is “so excited to be attorney general.” She said she “would consider” a bid for a House or Senate seat one day, but not necessarily in 2016 — though she did not explicitly rule it out. She said by watching her husband make the commute back and forth between Washington, D.C. and Colorado, she had “realized what a drain it is,” and would know exactly what she was in for if she were to do it.

We'll forgive reporter Alexis Levinson for her lede above, since she is probably unaware that the Coffmans have maintained separate residences for years in Denver (click here for the strange back-and-forth living and voting arrangements for the Coffmans). We'd be shocked to see Cynthia run for Senate in 2016; Roll Call mentions her wide margin of victory in the race for Attorney General in 2014, but that had more to do with the fact that she was a Republican running for a low-interest race in a mid-term Presidential year. The Coffman family dog could have posted strong numbers running as a Republican in 2014.

But what about Mike Coffman?

Well, you never say never,” Coffman told CQ Roll Call outside the House chamber early last month when asked about a Senate bid, “but I’m focused on my House race.”

dealinwalkerfin

As the GOP field stands today, Mike Coffman currently tops the Colorado Pols Big Line 2016 as the most likely Bennet challenger in 2016, but that's largely because we can't think of anyone else to put at the top. Coffman is a career politician who doesn't have a personal fortune to fall back on should he run for Senate and lose. For now, we've heard that Coffman is reluctant to take a serious look at the 2016 Senate race because he is focusing on moving up in Congressional leadership. He is also a little gun-shy about a top statewide race after his brief foray as a candidate for Governor in 2005; Coffman had made it known for years that he planned on running for Governor in 2006, but Republican Bob Beauprez had no trouble kneecapping Coffman's campaign after only a few weeks.

The Roll Call story also mentions two other potential GOP candidates for Senate in 2016: Arapahoe County District Attorney George Brauchler and State Treasurer Walker Stapleton. It's far too early to talk about Brauchler as a candidate for anything while the Aurora theater shooting case has yet to be settled; the outcome of that case, more than anything, will probably decide Brauchler's potential as a future candidate.

We've also heard Stapleton mentioned as a potential candidate in 2016, but it's far more likely that Stapleton remains where he is in order to run for Governor in 2018. Stapleton did win re-election in November as State Treasurer, but not before nearly bungling the race altogether with his own missteps and excuses. Stapleton's connections to the Bush family (he's a cousin to George W. or George H.W. or Jeb or something) and his ability to raise money will always make him a potential candidate for higher office, but he could probably use a few more years to do something of value as State Treasurer to wash that Dealin' Doug-style TV ad out of your brain.

We've got a long way to go until 2016, but the campaigning for U.S. Senate will begin in earnest in the next 6 months or so. Mike Coffman looks today like the strongest possible Republican challenger, though there is no guarantee that he'll actually run. The Coffman family dynamic is fun to talk about, but there's no way Cynthia is going to be the GOP nominee in 2016.

Mike Coffman. Down With Torture.

Rep. Mike Coffman.

Rep. Mike Coffman.

In the aftermath of the release of the Senate Intelligence Committee's summary report on "enhanced" interrogation methods employed by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in the aftermath of the September 11th, 2001 terrorist attacks, we took note of the fact that Rep. Mike Coffman of Colorado, a retired Marine officer who has served in Iraq, had issued no statement either way on whether these actions were permissible.

That is, until yesterday:

As a retired military officer with combat experience, Rep. Coffman's opinion is of particular note. One of the reasons why the United States (and most other nations) obey the Geneva Conventions on the conduct of warfare is the hope that doing so will result in better reciprocal treatment for our own soldiers and citizens who are captured by our enemies. The New York Times wrote in October about the torture of journalist James Foley by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) prior to his execution:

At one point, their jailers arrived with a collection of orange jumpsuits.

In a video, they lined up the French hostages in their brightly colored uniforms, mimicking those worn by prisoners at the United States’ facility in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.

They also began waterboarding a select few, just as C.I.A. interrogators had treated Muslim prisoners at so-called black sites during the George W. Bush administration, former hostages and witnesses said…

Within this subset, the person who suffered the cruelest treatment, the former hostages said, was Mr. Foley. In addition to receiving prolonged beatings, he underwent mock executions and was repeatedly waterboarded.

Waterboarding torture.

Waterboarding torture.

The "KSM" Mike Coffman referred to in his Tweet about is Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the alleged high-level Al Qaeda operative who was routinely waterboarded and subjected to other harsh measures after his capture in 2003. Coffman's citing of "KSM" is clearly meant to legitimize the interrogation methods he was subjected to–which works until you remember that the CIA tortured many more people than KSM.

There is a veteran Republican who understands the destructive cause and effect of engaging in torture–Sen. John McCain, who was himself subjected to torture as a prisoner of the North Vietnamese:

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Should Andrew Romanoff Get a Do-Over?

Andrew Romanoff.

Andrew Romanoff.

Roll Call's Abby Livingston jump-started speculation about the 2016 CD-6 race yesterday:

There’s no rest for the weary at the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi has yet to name the new committee chairman for 2016, but the DCCC is already getting a jump on recruiting during the final days of New York Rep. Steve Israel’s tenure.

On Thursday morning, Israel held the first 2016 recruitment meeting since Election Day. He named two northeastern congressional districts as top targeting opportunities, and party strategists are readying for at least five rematches from 2014, according to a committee aide…

Two unsuccessful Democratic candidates from 2014 will be asked to make another run — former Colorado House Speaker Andrew Romanoff, who lost to Rep. Mike Coffman, [Pols emphasis] and Maine state Sen. Emily Cain, who lost an open-seat race to Rep.-elect Bruce Poliquin.

This was the first word we've heard that Andrew Romanoff, who lost heavily in last week's elections to Republican incumbent Rep. Mike Coffman, might be recruited for a 2016 rematch. This report touched off another round of speculation about Romanoff's viability in local press–FOX 31's Eli Stokols:

Romanoff, who sat out 2012 and then announced his decision to challenge Coffman in 2014 almost as soon as the calendar turned to 2013 and spent the full two-year cycle raising an impressive $5 million, only garnered 43 percent of the vote in the re-drawn district.

But he lost by nine points amidst a GOP wave after failing to make inroads with blue collar voters in Adams County and to overcome Coffman’s withwering portrayal of the former statehouse Speaker as a self-interested carpetbagger who moved from Denver to the suddenly competitive district simply because he saw it as a way to get to Washington.

The Denver Post's Jon Murray:

While Andrew Romanoff isn’t saying much about his plans following his loss last week to Republican U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman, D.C. news outlet Roll Call reported Thursday that House Democrats will mount an effort to recruit him to run again in 2016.

That would be against the advice of some Colorado political observers and Democratic activists, who told The Denver Post in a story this week that Romanoff ought to consider stepping back from politics for a while. He’s lost two hard-fought races in a row…

Through his campaign spokeswoman, Romanoff declined to comment Thursday. But the DCCC reiterated to The Post that he was a strong candidate this year, despite his 52 percent-43 percent loss.

We've been pretty blunt in our assessment that Romanoff underperformed in this election–relative to other Democrats on the ballot with him, and certainly below the high expectations he had going into this race. We have given credit to Romanoff for dramatically exceeding expectations with regard to fundraising, but Romanoff's bland and centrist campaign message failed to motivate base Democrats to support him. After 2012 underdog Joe Miklosi came within two points of ousting Coffman, Romanoff's drubbing has turned Coffman into one of the state's stronger Republican candidates for higher office.

Apropos, Eli Stokols notes early speculation that Coffman may run against Sen. Michael Bennet in 2016, which would open the CD-6 seat and once again create a prime opportunity for Democrats to pick it up. In that event, would Romanoff be the best choice to try again, or would Democrats be smarter to turn to others in this district? Stokols mentions Senate President Morgan Carroll as a possible contender, as well as Karen Middleton–the former state legislator who at one point was set to challenge Romanoff for the Democratic CD-6 nomination but then withdrew from the race.

What say you, readers? We'd guess there are a number of people reading who would like your opinion.

Best Local Journalism of the Election Cycle

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Here's my list of top election-season journalism by local reporters:

Fox 31 Denver's Eli Stokols didn't take Cory Gardner's falsehood for an answer on personhood. And, and in the same five-star interview, he tried harder than any other journalist to get a straight answer from Gardner on the details of his health insurance plan.

Only the Colorado Independent's Susan Greene offered a comprehensive look (with Mike Keefe cartoon) at the extreme right-wing comments of gubernatorial candidate Bob Beauprez. See Bob Beauprez's Last Eight Years: Conservatism at its Extremes.

The Associated Press' Nick Riccardi explains why senatorial candidate Cory Gardner says he favors immigration reform. And he points out that that Gardner's actual support for reform proposals is limited and illusive.

Corey Hutchins, who writes for a variety of outlets, broke the shocking story on Medium about Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Colorado Springs) urging a military revolt against Obama. (Reminder: Our country is at war.)

9News' Brandon Rittiman was the first local journalist to press senatorial candidate Cory Gardner on the hypocrisy of his withdrawing support for state personhood measures but remaining a co-sponsor of a federal personhood bill. Other journalists, besides Stokols and Rittiman, deserve credit for challenging Gardner on this: 9News' Kyle ClarkThe Grand Junction Sentinel's Charles Ashby, The Denver Post's Lynn Bartels, and The Durango Herald's Peter Marcus.

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Coffman’s new desire to offer “bilingual ballots” contradicts his proposal to eliminate federal requirement to provide them

(Old Coffman strikes again – promoted by Colorado Pols)

Mike Coffman.

Mike Coffman.

Yesterday, during what was apparently Colorado's first candidate debate in Spanish, Rep. Mike Coffman said:

Coffman: "The federal government has obligated local governments to send bilingual ballots to everyone. I think that bilingual ballots should only go to people who need them. It's a question of saving money. I would hope that every voter will be able to get the information that he needs in a language he can understand."

But back in 2011, when Coffman proposed repealing the section of the Voting Rights Act requiring ballots to be printed in multiple languages, Coffman said nothing about making sure those who needed translated ballots get them.

Coffman: "Since proficiency in English is already a requirement for U.S. citizenship, forcing cash-strapped local governments to provide ballots in a language other than English makes no sense at all," Coffman told the Denver Post at the time.

I went back to the archive, and I couldn't find a single instance in 2011 where Coffman said everyone who needs a bilingual ballot should have one. The best I could find was an acknowledgement that some voters have "legitimate needs," but he suggested second-class solutions, like making a sample ballots available to voters somehow, without any guarantees that they even get this.

His 2011 proposal, by turning ballot-translation decisions over to local authorities and releasing local jurisdictions from the federal requirement, contradicts Coffman's statement yesterday that he wants to provide a "bilingual ballot" to "people who need them." That's not consistent with his actual 2011 proposal.

What if local officials decide that Coffman's dictionary idea is better and cheaper?

So after his debate yesterday, I asked Coffman if he'd offered a new position on English-only ballots.

He said, "No."

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Big Line Updated

We've updated The Big Line 2014, so head on over and take a look.

From where we're sitting, things don't look a whole lot different than they did when we last updated the Big Line. The Senate race is still close, though we maintain that Sen. Mark Udall will ultimately prevail over Congressman Cory Gardner as Democrats outperform Republicans in the ground game and the antics of the right-wing Jefferson County School Board convince more voters to oppose Republicans in general.

As for the other two marquee races in Colorado, Gov. John Hickenlooper seems to be steadily pulling further ahead from Republican Bob Beauprez, and the battle in CD-6 between Congressman Mike Coffman and Democrat Andrew Romanoff is a true toss-up at this stage.

What say you, Polsters? Let us know in the comments below.

Coffman Ad Features Planned Parenthood Logo, Even Though Coffman has Voted to Defund Planned Parenthood

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Mike Coffman has voted multiple times to defund Planned Parenthood, but that didn't stop him from featuring the logo of Planned Parenthood Action Fund in an ad released last week.

The ad states that “Coffman was praised for protecting women from violence.” Then the words "Coffman 'showed courage'" are displayed on the screen next to the PPAF logo.

The ad concludes with praise from the Colorado Springs Gazette, calling Coffman “practical” and “selfless.”

Last year, Planned Parenthood praised 33 Republicans, including Coffman, for “showing courage” by voting for the Violence Against Women Act, which authorized funds to respond to domestic violence, sexual assault, and other violent acts against women.

"One vote on record supporting women does not make him a candidate we believe supports women’s health," said Cathy Alderman, spokeswoman for Planned Parenthood Votes Colorado, in a statement. He has a consistent record of voting against women’s access to reproductive health care services.

"In fact, Mr. Coffman voted to defund Planned Parenthood, which provides many important health services to Colorado women, including birth control, family planning services, life-saving cancer screenings and safe abortion services. This advertisement is a smokescreen for Mr. Coffman to hide his continual failure to be an advocate for Colorado women.”

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Is Mike Coffman Oil Rigged?

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Mike Coffman.

Mike Coffman.

In the September 23 Denver Post Congressional debate, Mike Coffman was asked if he believed humans contributed to climate change. He said No.

The audience laughed.

There’s a reason for that. Even though most Coloradans accept and understand climate change – we all remember the terrible wildfires of 2012, and our ski industry is weather-dependent – Coffman has continued to take money from Big Oil and oppose renewables. Colorado is a top-5 producer for advanced biofuels.

According to an analysis by Fuels America, in Colorado’s 6th Congressional District the renewable fuel sector, including conventional and cellulosic ethanol, biodiesel, and advanced biofuels and their suppliers generates $377.1 million of total economic output annually. The renewable fuels sector supports 1,322 jobs and generates $87.8 million in wages annually in CD6.

Statewide, Colorado drivers now spend nearly $3 billion per year on foreign oil—enough money to send every graduating high school senior in Colorado to Harvard for a year.

 If graduating students would prefer to stay close to home, this $3 billion dollars spent on foreign oil is more than enough to send them to the Colorado State University or the University of Colorado for four years. This $3 billion drain on Colorado’s economy—roughly a third of which goes to OPEC nations like Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Libya and Venezuela—could get even higher this fall under a proposal to sharply reduce the amount of American-made renewable fuel in the nation’s gasoline supply.

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Big Government Republicans go on Offense in Springs

 

Everyone, well, except their own constituents, knows the Republican claim to be against Big Government is a well-planned and executed lie. They're really against any kind of big government that helps the Middle Class, that helps democratize our economy, our civil rights, our infrastructure, or our education system in any way. When it comes to going to war, spying on Americans (tho Obama does get several demerits for this, too), tax breaks for America's largest, most polluting and most profitable industries and corporations it can't ever be big enough.

What with the still-flaccid economy (thanks to their obstructionist brethren in DC), and a bipartisan set of budget cuts to everything, Republicans in Colorado Springs and El Paso County have gone on the offense to maintain our vast military and the local economy's reliance on Big Government, Military Industrial-strength spending:

While Colorado Springs Mayor Steve Bach and El Paso County Commissioner Amy Lathen may be warring (ha ha, funny.-ed.) over stormwater back home and plotting each other's defeat in next year's mayoral race, they were pulling together at the capital. And while they may be rooting against Gov. John Hickenlooper in the November election, they were working closely with his military team.

Who knew Hick had a military team? 

At stake are as many as 16,000 soldiers and hundreds of airmen who could be cut as part of a Pentagon plan to carve $900 billion from its budget over a decade. The pitch, made to military leaders Tuesday, is that Colorado Springs is a great town that loves its troops and keeping them in the shadow of Pikes Peak makes America safer.

"We are at risk," Bach said. "Everything is on the table."

Exactly as it should be in, ummmm, war. With just the right amount of fear mongering.

The delegation of 13 Pikes Peak region business and community leaders is spending three days in the capital where they plan to lean on Colorado congressional staff member and other key leaders to stave off the cuts. With a new war growing against the Islamic State group, they may find a receptive audience.

Lindsey Graham and John McCain: Mission Accomplished

The prospect of huge losses has energized state and local leaders. The General Assembly this year approved cash for an economic impact study of the military in Colorado and for a lobbying campaign.

The Regional Business Alliance and other local organizations have redoubled their lobbying for military money. In August, the business alliance gathered signatures on 3,600 postcards from locals pledging support for Fort Carson and its soldiers.

County Commissioner Peggy Littleton said a bigger effort is forthcoming. She's pushing for all 64 counties in Colorado to pass resolutions supporting the military.

That much bipartisanship would probably kill me. But just think if we were of one voice in supporting students, our aging bridges, local arts and cultural foundations rather than America's Mighty War Machine? Our economy, and its citizens, would boom. (Ooops, bad analogy.-ed.)

One issue that Air Force leaders told them must be addressed is stormwater, a longtime issue of contention in El Paso County that affects area bases. While military leaders won't endorse a measure on November's ballot to address regional stormwater needs, they said they want the problem addressed, said Andy Merritt, who oversees military issues for the business alliance.

"They want it fixed," Merritt said.

Great. Something Springs's leaders have been struggling with for years, something the anti-tax, Doug-Bruce-iopaths have taken to court, just needs the a-ok from a General officer or two. That Manitou Springs could be washed away any day isn't reason enough to fix this massive problem. Well, they are a bunch of liberal pot smokers anyway. 

Mark Volcheff, vice chairman of the alliance's Military Affairs Council and a retired Air Force major general, said Pentagon leaders won't hesitate to make deep cuts if Congress doesn't come up with more cash for the military.

We can only hope. And Ike must be spinning in his grave.

The interstate highway system has done more for our nation, for far less of an investment, than all the DoD contracts combined have done to stamp out religious extremism around the world. It's too bad we can't see the forest for the trees on this issue. And more napalm to burn it all down won't help in the way those same efforts and investments would help if the money went to bridges, schools and hospitals here rather than blowing those same things up overseas.

(That last sentence needs rewrite!-ed.)

Mike Coffman Promotes Self at Lamborn’s Expense

(Maybe it was Don Suppes — Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Around 9:30pm tonight (Sept. 28), the twitter account @RepMikeCoffman posted a link to the Denver Post story regarding controversial comments by Doug Lambourn supposedly encouraging military leaders to resign. The tweet said:

This is a rare moment of disunity in Colorado's GOP delegation to Congress which is normally hesitant to discuss each other or express disagreement. 

Coffman has, up til now, declined to comment on the story in the press. One wonders whether the Congressman actually had anything to do with the tweet or whether this will be another one chalked up to "rogue staffers."

Big Line Updates: Democrats Appear to Have Slight Advantage

As Election Day gets closer and closer, we're updating The Big Line on a weekly basis. Remember: Percentages listed indicate our view of the win/loss outcome only (we are not attempting to guess margin of victory).

You can always access the full Big Line 2014, but below we provide a bit more detail about our thoughts on various races.
 

U.S. SENATE
Mark Udall (62%)
Cory Gardner (38%)
Senator Mark Udall has seen his momentum slow down of late, but that probably has more to do with the natural tightening of this race as October draws near. Public polling in Colorado has become about as reliable as a Ouija Board, though if the final outcome is within the general margin of error of most voter surveys, the data is largely irrelevant anyway. For Congressman Cory Gardner, the one thing that has yet to change remains his biggest problem: He just has too many bad votes on too many important issues. Gardner's campaign also seems to have no idea how to go after Udall effectively; they've been changing tactics like the rest of us change socks.

When all is said and done (or insert cliche of your choice), we always come back to the same question: If you had to gamble everything you had on predicting the winner of this race, would you really choose Gardner?

Neither would we.

 

GOVERNOR
John Hickenlooper (60%)
Bob Beauprez (40%)

This race continues to be one of the stranger contests we can remember because of its relatively low profile. Republican Bob Beauprez hasn't run a particularly strong, or interesting, campaign thus far — but perhaps it's enough to ask that his campaign doesn't crater as completely as it did in 2006. Governor John Hickenlooper, meanwhile, has been largely invisible for the last few months. No matter how you look at the race, it's hard to envision Beauprez actually ending up in the Governor's Mansion.

 

ATTORNEY GENERAL
Cynthia Coffman (51%)
Don Quick (49%)
We've had Quick at the top of the Line for a very long time, so what's different? Nothing, really. In fact, it will be hard (post-election) to explain the outcome of this race no matter what happens in November. If this race were taking place in a bubble, we'd give the edge to Quick. But if Democrats win seats for Senate and Governor, history suggests that voters will split their ballot and pick Republicans for other statewide spots.

 

CD-6
Andrew Romanoff (55%)
Mike Coffman (45%)
There may still be a "Coffman" in elected office come January; for the first time in 25 years, we don't think it will be Mike. In their third debate of the campaign, Democrat Andrew Romanoff completely demolished Congressman Mike Coffman. One debate does not a campaign make (or something like that), but the momentum in this race is unmistakably on the side of Romanoff. Coffman's campaign has been insisting that their guy is ahead in internal polling numbers — just don't ask for proof.


Check out the full Big Line 2014 or comment below.

 

Big Line Updates: Udall, Romanoff Growing Lead

As Election Day gets closer and closer, we'll be updating The Big Line on a weekly basis.

Here's what we're currently thinking as to the main movers in the top races in Colorado:

U.S. SENATE
Mark Udall (65%)
Cory Gardner (35%)

We don't see either Udall or Gov. John Hickelooper losing in November, but for the first time, we have Udall as a slightly bigger favorite in his respective race. Gardner's campaign has been an absolute mess, and national politicos and reporters are coalescing around the idea that Udall is in the driver's seat now.

 

GOVERNOR
John Hickenlooper (60%)
Bob Beauprez (40%)

We have this race tightening a little as Gov. Hickenlooper works his way out of a summer-long campaign funk. For Beauprez, this comes down to a lack of time — too much needs to happen in the next 4-6 weeks for Beauprez to have a realistic shot at knocking off Hickenlooper.
 

ATTORNEY GENERAL, STATE TREASURER, SECRETARY OF STATE
Republican State Treasurer Walker Stapleton has not had a good month, but he's still favored to beat Democrat Betsy Markey. Meanwhile, we have the AG and SOS races as toss-ups at this point, primarily because it's difficult to determine whether any of the candidates can do much to control their own destiny; the amount of money pouring into the races for Senate, Governor, and CD-6 will make it nigh impossible for lower-tier statewide candidates to get their message out.
 

CD-6 (Aurora-ish)
Andrew Romanoff (55%)
Mike Coffman (45%)

We wrote earlier about our belief that Countdown Coffman is underway following incumbent Rep. Coffman's boorish behavior of late. We've been hearing consistent buzz that Romanoff has nudged ahead as Coffman seeks the momentum he needs to prevent a complete collapse.
 


Check out the full Big Line 2014 or comment below.

Chick-fil-A cuts Colorado Woman’s hours and pay and demotes her after cancer surgery

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

The Good Christians who run Chick-fil-A couldn't have done any better?

 A Colorado breast cancer survivor said Chick-fil-A is cutting her insurance and demoting her just after she took leave for a double mastectomy.

To Daphne Richards, a newly-divorced mother with two children to support, Chick-fil-A's family-friendly values and healthcare coverage seemed like a perfect fit.

"I lived in Indiana my entire life, and I relocated for this job," said Richards. "I could move up the ladder, and the owner told me 'Maybe someday, you could own your own store."

She started late last year as shift manager at the Larkridge Chick-fil-A in Thornton. But in May, Richards got the diagnosis.

"I had double breast cancer in both breasts," she said. She would need a bilateral mastectomy and weeks to recover.

"For this company, when tragedy struck, they stepped up," said Frederick Schaefer, the attorney for Chick-fil-A at Larkridge. "Even though she didn't qualify for continuing benefits during her work hiatus under the Family Medical Leave Act, the store continued to pay for her health insurance coverage during her medical leave."

Just after she was cleared by her doctor to come back to work last week, though, she said the store owner delivered a shocking blow.

"She said,'I no longer have a full-time management position for you, and you will no longer be receiving healthcare benefits after September,'" said Richards. "She said something about reconstructing or reconfiguring the business."

Disgusting.

And just another example that those who profess to have some kind of higher purpose and better ideology can be as greedy and uncaring as the most bloodthirsty vulture capitalist. Granted, this may be a franchisee, but individual managers and franchise owners can not, and should not, be exempt from the corporation who truly owns the business model.

 

Coffman snuggled by Spanish-language radio host, who works for the Independence Institute

Mike Coffman spends 15 minutes with his Spanish tutor every night, and last month, he put his skills to the test by subjecting himself to the fire of a Spanish-language interview on KNRV’s radio’s “El Programa de Raaki,” electing to answer questions in Spanish.

But there was no fire at all. Not even a smolder, as Garcia snuggled Coffman as he stumbled through the interview below. At the end, Garcia repeated (in clear Spanish) Coffman’s proposal to offer a path to citizenship to Dreamers through military service.

She made no mention of Coffman’s opposition to a path to citizenship for millions of adult undocumented immigrants–or his opposition to the Senate-passed immigration-reform bill, or his votes to deport Dreamers, etc.

All this makes sense when you know that Garcia is actually an employee of the Independence Institute, the conservative think tank. But Garcia didn’t mention it during the Coffman interview, nor is it stated anywhere on the radio station’s website. And it’s never come up in previous shows I’ve listened to.

Closest thing is this disclaimer heard, in Spanish, immediately prior to the KNRV show, saying:

The following is a paid program. This station assumes no responsibility for the commentaries broadcasted.

The important thing is to be informed of what is happening around us. 1150 AM presents El Programa de Raaki. Here you will find out about how important it is to be familiar with the laws that affect us, about opportunities in education, we will talk about politics, and something more. [Music: “Let Freedom Ring," and more]

Who’s paying the bill? We don’t know, and Garcia did not comment in response to calls and emails, but “El Programa de Raaki” is featured on the home-page of the Independence Institute’s website and Garcia, who goes by Garcia-Ulam during her day job, is listed on the staff page.

A Google search took me to the July/August newsletter of the State Policy Network, which funds market-oriented think tanks, where Raaki Garcia explains the purpose of her radio show and tries to convince other think tanks to give Spanish-language radio a try.

Through The Raaki Garcia Show, Colorado’s Independence Institute reaches an audience the freedom movement often finds elusive: Hispanics. It’s the state’s only Spanish-language conservative talk radio show and Colorado’s top-rated radio show for the past year. “Hispanics from Mexico, Central, and South America grew up listening to talk radio . . . . It’s part of our culture . . . . We don’t grow up watching TV,” explains Garcia, who doubles as the Institute’s Hispanic Education Coordinator. [Fact check: Sources say KBNO has higher ratings than KNRV.]

The show has succeeded partially because Garcia was already known within Colorado’s Hispanic community, for whom trust is fundamental for any relationship. Building upon that trust, Garcia began introducing the Institute’s conservative economic policies and Colorado’s Republican legislators to her listeners. In interviews, she showcases legislators as people, rather than Republicans, to connect with her listeners and combat negative stereotypes about both the GOP and politicians more generally.

Garcia encourages other think tanks to start similar shows, lest they miss a huge, and growing, audience. To do it properly, she suggests finding a host who is already known, respected, and trusted within the local Hispanic community. Ideally, the host would both speak Spanish fluently and ethnically reflect the local majority Hispanic population (e.g., Cuban or Mexican). The think tank would then identify what new and relevant information they could share with the Hispanic community, whether that’s tax credits or education policy. [BigMedia emphasis]

The use of the show to promote Republican candidates, like Coffman, appears to be out-of-line with the Independence’s Institutes non-partisan tax status.

The introduction to the article doesn’t mention Republicans in particular, but it refers to “persuadable voters.”

Generating broad support for free-market policy reforms means state think tanks must reach persuadable voters outside their typical audiences. In the spirit of this year’s Annual Meeting theme, Dare to Disrupt, several think tanks have begun engaging non-traditional partners to advance their policy goals. SPN partnered with journalist Melissa Langsam Braunstein to share the stories of—and lessons learned by—four think tanks that have formed innovative partnerships to educate the public and advance freedom.

Reaching persuadable voters clearly overlaps with Coffman’s campaign goal, as he battles Democrat Andrew Romanoff to represent a district where the population is 20 percent Hispanic.

Coffman has been campaigning in Spanish, as reported by Fox 31 Denver’s Eli Stokols last week, and he’s mostly able to get his points across, as you can hear in the Garcia interview below.

The Colorado Statesman described Coffman’s Spanish program in more detail:

Part of that effort in a district that counts more than 80 languages spoken in its public schools includes the congressman learning Spanish, a project that involves a couple hours spent with Rosetta Stone every week and nightly phone calls with a tutor. (The redrawn 6th CD counts a Hispanic population of roughly 20 percent, and Romanoff is fluent in the language.)

“He’s getting surprisingly good,” [Coffman spokesperson] Tyler Sandberg says. It makes a big difference when he shows up at community events and can communicate. “They appreciate his willingness to learn their language, especially first-generation who are more comfortable speaking in their native language.” Sandberg adds, “He can’t learn all the languages — he likes to joke that his Arabic is so poor he’d start a war by himself — but he learned a little Arabic when he was in Iraq, and the largest mosque in the state is in the district.”

But Coffman is far from fluent, in contrast to Romanoff, who is fluent. At one point during the Garcia interview, which stands as a bizarre symbol of Coffman’s struggle to adapt to his redrawn district, Coffman’s answer to Garcia’s question made no sense whatsoever, presumably meaning Coffman totally misunderstood the query. Garcia cut off the Congressman and repeated the question to him in English. Coffman then answered in Spanish.

The snuggling is so blatant maybe Garcia thinks her listeners already know about her conservative leanings and affiliations. But I still think she should state them openly.

Jon Caldara regularly identifies himself as president of the Independence Institute prior to his Devil’s Advocate KBDI-TV show, which is sponsored programming.

And so do the other tentacles of the Independence Institute’s media empire. During her daily two-hour radio show on KFKA radio in Greeley, Independence Institute staffer Amy Oliver often mentions who employs her. So does Caldara on his weekly KHOW radio show. The Institute’s stable of media commentators, like Research Director Dave Kopel, sometimes aren’t properly identified by reporters, but maybe that’s not as much in their control.

As a progressive journalist, I’d be a hypocrite if I trashed Garcia for being a conservative radio host. And I have no desire to shut her down. Obviously she’s not trying to hide her libertarian association, but she should just be more up-front about it on her radio show.

Coffman again opposes Obama’s order deferring deportation of Dreamers

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

In interviews aired over the weekend, Fox 31 Denver’s Eli Stokols tried hard to clarify Rep. Mike Coffman’s squirrelly positions on immigration reform, but unfortunately, after you watch the interviews, you’re left scratching your head on key points.

For example, in a surprising admission during Stokols’ Sunday show, #CoPolitics from the Source, Coffman reiterated his opposition to President Obama’s executive order allowing young undocumented immigrants, brought here illegally as children, to defer deportation for at least two years.

“I certainly don’t support it being done by executive order,” Coffman told Stokols, which makes sense because Coffman voted to defund Obama’s order this summer. “I believe it should be done legislatively.”

So you have to assume that, as of now, in the absence of DACA legislation, Coffman believes the dreamers should be deported.
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