Colorado Republicans cancel 2016 presidential caucus vote

Move makes Colorado only state to date to opt out of early nomination process

Colorado will not pick a Republican candidate for president in its 2016 caucus after party leaders approved a little-noticed shift that is likely to diminish the swing state’s clout in the most open nomination contest in the modern era.

The GOP executive committee voted Friday to cancel the traditional presidential preference poll at the caucus after the national party changed its rules to require a state’s delegates to support the candidate that wins.

The move makes Colorado the only state so far to forfeit a role in the early nomination process, according to experts, but other states are still considering what to do.

“It takes Colorado completely off the map” in the nomination process, said Ryan Call, a former state GOP chairman.

More at http://www.denverpost.com/politics/ci_28700919/

Wonder why… Are they 1) broke? 2) Afraid of Trump or 3) or still infighting in the Colorado Republican Party to care about their own caucus?

2016 Rematch: Zenzinger vs Woods in SD-19

Once-and-future Sen. Rachel Zenzinger?

Once-and-future Sen. Rachel Zenzinger?

In a press release this morning, former Arvada city councillor and appointed Sen. Rachel Zenzinger announces she will run again for the ultra-swing SD-19 seat she lost in 2014 by a razor-thin margin to Republican Laura Waters Woods:

Rachel Zenzinger, a former teacher and former member of the Arvada City Council, today announced her candidacy for the Colorado State Senate.

The former State Senator pledged that her No. 1 focus when she regains the seat will be to build a stronger middle class.
“While the economy may be stabilizing for some, many are being left behind,” she said. “True economic recovery means all hardworking Coloradans have opportunities for good jobs, with fair pay, and a chance to get ahead.”

A mother of two young girls, Zenzinger understands the effects of the rising costs of housing, food, and health care. She knows firsthand that families are still struggling, challenged by issues such as skyrocketing tuition and childcare rates, and the high cost of elder care.

“We need a Senator who will stand on the side of hardworking families, not bow to an extreme party fringe. My opponent voted to increase income taxes on our active duty military service men and women (HB 15-1181) and elevated lobbyists, special interests, and big business above middle class families (SB 15-078). Westminster, Arvada and the entire state deserve better.”

The loss of the highly competitive SD-19 seat in 2014 resulted in Republicans taking control of the Colorado Senate. In 2016, the situation is different, with revenge in SD-19 one of several paths for Democrats to retaking a Senate majority. With that said, SD-19’s narrow margin of victory for Woods, under 700 votes, makes a rematch with Zenzinger in a presidential election year very promising. We anticipate no primary challenger for Zenzinger, but we still haven’t heard if Republicans still nervous about Woods’ far-right-trending-looney political stands intend to mount another red-on-red challenge against her.

At this point, Democrats tell us they are happy, even relishing the chance to run against Woods, especially with Zenzinger as their candidate. Whatever happens, this will certainly be one of the marquee legislative races of 2016.

It Wouldn’t Be a Secret Society if you Talked About it, Kent Lambert

Stonecutters

Who controls the British crown? Who keeps the metric system down? We do, we do!
Who keeps Atlantis off the maps? Who keeps the Martians under wraps? We do, we do!
Who holds back the electric car? Who makes Steve Guttenberg a star? We do, we do!
Who robs cavefish of their sight? Who rigs every Oscar night? We do, we do!

        – “Stonecutter” theme song, via The Simpsons.

On Tuesday the environmental group Center for Western Priorities released a new report underlining the “anti-government extremism” behind renewed efforts to move federal public lands under state control. According to a summary of the report:

Last week, armed members of the Oath Keepers and other militias arrived at a mine in Montana, posting “no trespassing” signs on public land. The operation is the latest in a string of standoffs involving extremist groups that refuse to recognize the authority of the U.S. government, including incidents at the Sugar Pine Mine in Oregon and Cliven Bundy’s ranch in Nevada.

A new investigation by the non-partisan watchdog Center for Western Priorities has uncovered wide-ranging ties between those extremist groups and Western legislators involved in a coordinated effort to take our national lands from the American people. 

Sen. Kent Lambert using night vision scope on the Mexican border.

Sen. Kent Lambert using night vision scope on the Mexican border.

Reporter Joey Bunch picked up on the report for the Denver Post, and he caught up with Colorado Springs state Sen. Kent Lambert for his response:

“They aren’t just supporting similar goals — they’re trying to pass legislation that goes directly to the demands and ideology of the Oath Keepers and Bundy Ranch supporters,” Aaron Weiss, a spokesman for the Center for Western Priorities, responded in an e-mail about the state-control advocates.

“When Kent Lambert mentions ‘posse comitatus’ during a floor debate, that’s a dog whistle to the Oath Keepers — there’s a tiny group of people who even know what the term means, much less cite it during the legislative session.” [Pols emphasis]

Lambert said he hadn’t heard of the Oath Keepers before Tuesday [Pols emphasis], so it wasn’t a dog whistle but a reference to the “Federalist Papers, No. 29,” a letter from Alexander Hamilton to the people of New York in 1788 to the clarify the role of state militia in enforcing provisions of the Constitution. Further, the often-cited 1878 Posse Comitatus Act limits the federal government’s role in domestic police matters. Lambert’s unsuccessful Senate Bill 39 would have recognized that state and local governments already has jurisdiction over U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management lands.

Sen. Kent Lambert (R), and militia leader Chris Simcox.

Sen. Kent Lambert (R), and militia leader Chris Simcox.

We don’t know if Lambert is a card-carrying member of the Oath Keepers, but we have trouble believing he’s never even heard of this group before. Lambert is a well-documented supporter of usurping federal control over lands (and borders), and has openly consorted with militia leaders like accused child molester Chris Simcox in Arizona (photo right). The Oath Keepers have been in the news quite a bit lately for their bizarre attempt to “defend” Ferguson, Missouri from…black people, or something. Here’s what Mother Jones magazine says about the group:

Oath Keepers is one of the fastest-growing “patriot” organizations on the right. Founded last April by Yale-educated lawyer and ex-Ron Paul aide Stewart Rhodes, the group has established itself as a hub in the sprawling anti-Obama movement that includes Tea Partiers, Birthers, and 912ers. Glenn Beck, Lou Dobbs, and Pat Buchanan have all sung its praises, and in December, a grassroots summit it helped organize drew such prominent guests as representatives Phil Gingrey and Paul Broun, both Georgia Republicans.

Hard to imagine these guys not being right up Lambert’s alley–Lambert or any number of other GOP Colorado legislators in both chambers. You might start with legislators who tag along for the Republican Study Committee of Colorado’s annual border “fact finding” junkets. But there’s at least a possibility that without the right secret handshake, you’ll never know for sure!

Might be worth keeping this angle in mind next session just the same.

Get More Smarter on Thursday (Aug. 13)

Get More SmarterYou’re not the only one who fell asleep before the meteor shower 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…

Gina McCarthy, the head of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), visited Durango on Wednesday to take arrows over a massive minewater spill in the Animas River. Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman, joined by her counterparts from New Mexico and Utah, is making not-so-subtle threats to sue the EPA over the the spill.

The river seems to be returning to pre-contamination levels, however. Colorado’s top gross-water tester, Gov. John Hickenlooper, drank directly from the Animas River on Wednesday to prove that the water is safe, contacting the Durango Herald 24 hours later to prove that he wasn’t dead.

► The Colorado Court of Appeals ruled — unanimously — that business owners do not have the right to discriminate at will. The court says that a Lakewood bakery that refused to make a wedding cake for a gay couple violated state anti-discrimination laws. We still need a court to make it illegal to put disgusting fruit filling between cake layers.

 

Get even more smarter after the jump…

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Terrible Anti-IUD Press Silences Colorado Senate GOP

iudA major battle this past legislative session over state funding for a highly successful program to provide long-acting reversible contraception (LARC), generally in the form of an intra-uterine device (IUD), continues to generate bad press for the one-seat Republican majority in the Colorado Senate responsible for killing legislation to keep the program going. There was some confusion in the immediate aftermath of that decision as to whether or not the program, which was started with private seed grant money, would continue without tax dollars–or if continued, whether services would be impacted.

As the Denver Post’s John Frank reported early this week, there have indeed been consequences for women’s health:

Over the past seven years, a private foundation donated about $27 million to boost the program, but the grant money expired July 1.

A push to use state taxpayer dollars to continue the program failed in the Republican-led state Senate earlier this year, killed by ideological and fiscal objections.

Now, a month after the money ceased, the county clinics that administer the program are starting to see the effects, as limited federal and state funding fail to meet high demand in some areas…

In Jefferson County, the state’s fourth largest, the public health department had to start a waiting list in July.

In Pueblo County, the clinics are reserving the high-end devices for clients under age 19 and those with Medicaid coverage, which will reimburse the cost.

According to Larry Wolk, director of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, the hunt continues for private funds to carry the program for another year, and he hopes it will come through in the next few weeks–which would allow clinics now forced to delay access to IUDs to resume at full steam. In response to GOP critics who say that private funds should continue to pay in full, LARC backers say that was never the purpose of the startup grants that funded the program up to now. Because the reduction in unintended pregnancies saves the state of Colorado considerable amounts of money, the state should pick up the cost for the LARC program to allow private grant dollars to flow to communities that don’t yet have this positive experience to motivate them.

In the months since the end of this year’s legislative session, the story of Colorado’s successful IUD program–and the inexplicable killing of legislation to fund it by the state Senate GOP majority–has been retold by news outlets across the nation. At one point in the after-debate, Senate Republicans fielded defenders like Sen. Ellen Roberts to try to explain why these funds were voted down. That didn’t go over very well to put it mildly, and in recent weeks, we’ve seen almost nothing in the way of comment from Republicans about the LARC program.

At this point, we have to think that no one is more eager to see CDPHE pull down private grant money to keep this program alive until the next legislative session than Senate Republicans. Repeated news stories documenting this program’s success, always with a word about the GOP killing the funds over “ideological and fiscal objections,” are very bad for this one-seat Senate Republican majority headed into a presidential election year. With Roberts already kneecapped out of the U.S. Senate race in part by her bumbling responses to this question, quantifiable damage has already been done.

And short of a huge about-face we don’t see coming, there will be more damage done by November of 2016.

Strong Democratic Challenge Sets Up In Key State Senate Race

Las Animas County Sheriff Jim Casias (D).

Las Animas County Sheriff Jim Casias (D).

The Denver Post’s John Frank reports–after a heartbreaking narrow loss in 2012, Democrats are once again hopeful for a shot at picking up GOP Sen. Larry Crowder’s SD-35 seat with a strong new challenger–Las Animas County Sheriff Jim Casias:

The Democratic sheriff is a top recruit in the party’s plans to regain power in the Senate, where Republicans took a one-seat majority in the 2014 elections and served as a blockade for numerous bills backed by the Democratic House and Gov. John Hickenlooper.

Casias, 67, is one of the 55 sheriffs who filed suit against Hickenlooper in 2013 to fight tougher gun control laws, among those dubbed “heroes” by a conservative website. He also served as president of the County Sheriffs of Colorado Association in 2014…

To further distance himself from Denver, Casias is likely to make his challenge of the gun laws a prominent point in his campaign. He supports a repeal of the large ammunition magazine restrictions but supports background checks, Short said. [Pols emphasis]

In 2012, Larry Crowder unexpectedly defeated Democrat Crestina Martinez for this seat, which became highly competitive following legislative reapportionment the previous year. Martinez’s defeat led to a long period of introspection for Democrats in southern Colorado, a process that continues to this day as former strongholds like Pueblo adapt to changing politics in Denver–and Denver Democrats re-evaluate their message to better appeal to their base in other parts of the state.

Casias arguably represents the product of that new strategy–a well-known candidate with deep ties to the community who also has a demonstrable independent streak. Like Sen. Kerry Donovan on the Western Slope, Casias has a nuanced position on the 2013 gun laws that will appeal to voters who dislike them–in particular the much-maligned magazine limit law–while at the same time defending the universal gun background checks that were always the highest priority.

As for Crowder, his four years in the Senate have produced a number of liabilities that a strong opponent can exploit, including voting against rural broadband, affordable housing, and senior services–and above all voting to mess with retirement benefits for the significant number of PERA retirees in this district.

All of which adds up to a potent challenge from Democrats, in a competitive race key to retaking the Colorado Senate in 2016.

Woods Lets No Bogus FOX News Report Go To Waste

Yesterday, in the immediate aftermath of the tragic attacks on a military recruiting station and a separate reserve post near Chattanooga, Tennessee, Colorado Sen. Laura Waters Woods of Arvada swung into action on Facebook:

woodschattanooga

The biggest problem with this claim, says Media Matters for America, is that it isn’t true:

Four Marines were killed when a shooter fired on two military sites in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Fox News reported that the attacks may be connected to ISIS because an ISIS supporter purportedly discussed the shooting on Twitter before it happened. Fox host Sean Hannity repeated the false claim on his radio show.

In fact, the tweet Fox News referenced was posted well after the shooting had already occurred. Mashable editor Brian Ries first pointed out the discrepancy.

On Your World, Fox’s chief intelligence correspondent Catherine Herridge reported, “the last investigative thread I would mention at this point is that we’re taking a hard look at a Twitter account — an ISIS-linked Twitter account — that seemed to have foreknowledge of the shooting in Chattanooga. The tweet went out at 10:34 with the hashtag Chattanooga referring to American dogs and a likely shooting. This of course was about 15 minutes before the shooting took place.”

A few hours later:

At the end of the Factor, Special Report anchor Bret Baier clarified the timing of the tweet, saying that “all indications now are that it came out after the attack.” When O’Reilly asked if that meant the ISIS tweet story was “a bogus situation,” Baier replied, “yeah.” [Pols emphasis]

So much for that! Of course, the investigation into the Chattanooga shootings is in no way complete, and we would also be wrong to speculate about the shooter’s motives and affiliations. It’s true Sen. Waters Woods will probably need look no further than the shooters Arabic name, but that’s just not the proof positive a Tweet from before the shootings would be. Better to wait for investigators to do their jobs.

As for allowing military members to be armed “ALWAYS EVERYWHERE” (emphasis hers)? Excepting authorized forces on prescribed law enforcement duties, there are a lot of good reasons to not do that. Has Waters Woods run that suggestion by her excitable “liberty movement” friends tracking the Jade Helm 2015 military training exercise? Something tells us they might not like the way that sounds.

Bottom line: defund Planned Parenthood! Now back to your regularly scheduled program.

Get More Smarter on Tuesday (July 7)

MoreSmarterLogo-300x218Today is 7/7/15, which is not nearly as cool as 7/7/14. Let’s 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…

Democrats have their “top-tier recruit” in the fold for CD-6 with today’s announcement that state Sen. Morgan Carroll will challenge incumbent Congressman Mike Coffman in 2016. Rachel Sapin of the Aurora Sentinel got the early scoop:

“The theme of the campaign is going to about real results,” Carroll told The Aurora Sentinel in an interview Monday. “Congress has been paralyzed. It’s a crisis of confidence to get anything done.”

► Carroll’s decision to run in CD-6 brings a renewed spotlight on the Coffmangate scandal. As The Hill reports today:

Republicans in the state have appeared in disarray in recent weeks amid allegations from the state party chairman Steve House that Cynthia Coffman blackmailed him in an attempt to get him to resign. 

Get even more smarter after the jump…

 

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IUD Funding Not A Done Deal After All

UPDATE: Statement from Planned Parenthood Votes Colorado:

It is disgraceful that Republican Colorado Senators this session voted to leave low-income teenagers and young women without access to contraception that will help them achieve their goals and stay financially independent. Funding for the program expired today – that leaves a huge gap for hundreds of thousands of young women in Colorado.

The long-acting reversible contraception program (LARC) is recognized as a critical part of making Colorado #1 in preventing teen pregnancies (by 40%) and reducing abortions (35%). A relatively small investment of $5 million in LARC would have saved an estimated $50 million in Medicaid and public assistance programs.

The Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment is searching for alternative funding to continue this vital service. Planned Parenthood is committed to supporting all programs like LARC that help teenagers stay in school and give them the opportunity to succeed.

—–

IUDs.

IUDs.

A story from KUNC community radio last month announced that a highly successful program to provide IUD contraception to low-income women in Colorado would be renewed for another year, despite the refusal by Republicans in the Colorado legislature to authorize public funds to continue the program:

Despite state lawmakers failing to pass a bill to fund the effort, a program to provide long acting reversible birth control to young, low-income women in Colorado is being extended for another year.

The long acting contraceptives, according to state figures, have helped cut teen pregnancy rates in the state by 40 percent. Abortions have gone down too…

[Colorado Department of Public Health and the Environment Executive Director Larry] Wolk does want to come back to the state Legislature in 2016 and try to get the $5 million needed to again fund the program through the state – and even expand it to more clinics that serve lower income young women.

“It’s good public investment,” said Wolk. “It’s not fair that we have to keep going to the private or foundation community to fund something that is saving the state money.” [Pols emphasis]

But according to a press release today from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, the lack of public investment in the Long-Acting Reversible Contraception program is a problem–making the previous declaration of victory problematic:

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment continues to search for funding for its successful Colorado Family Planning Initiative. To date, there is engaged conversation and expressed interest, yet no firm commitment. [Pols emphasis]

“We are working closely with our partners who believe in this initiative to find the funding necessary to continue providing contraceptive choices to young women across Colorado,” said Dr. Larry Wolk, executive director and chief medical officer for the department. “Making sure Colorado women have access to safe and effective contraception is an investment in their futures and ours.”

There’s reportedly still a possibility that private funds will come through to continue this program, perhaps on a reduced scale depending on how much they can get. But the situation could still affect single women in the interim if funding isn’t locked in soon, and in either case illustrates the uncertainty involved with trying to fund an important public health program of this kind with fickle private contributions. As CDPHE executive director Larry Wolk says, this is a program that saves the state tax money in the end, so to refuse to fund it as Republicans in the legislature did this year was textbook pennywise and pound foolish.

Ted Harvey Still Raising “ScamPAC” Dollars

Former Republican State Sen. Ted Harvey

Former Republican State Sen. Ted Harvey

Back in January, we took note of a story in Politico about political action committees (PACs) set up to raise funds for a variety of conservative Republican candidates and causes. The problem with the committees profiled in this story is that the overwhelming majority of funds raised by them appeared to be paying for staff salaries and overhead–with only a small percentage of moneys raised actually going to fund the public-facing political activities of the group.

One of the so-called “ScamPACs” mentioned in that story was the Stop Hillary PAC, whose chairman is none other than former Colorado Sen. Ted Harvey of Highlands Ranch: the same Ted Harvey currently at the center of a major controversy that has riven the Colorado Republican Party, as the failure to hire Harvey as executive director by GOP chairman Steve House resulted (at least in part) in the legally dubious confrontation between House and Attorney General Cynthia Coffman that has dominated political headlines in Colorado for the last two weeks.

Well folks, it looks like Harvey, while he waits for the infighting on his behalf within the Colorado GOP to resolve itself, is keeping plenty busy sending out fundraising emails for the Stop Hillary PAC! Apparently, a damning national news story about PACs that spend an average of 12% of their take on actual programmatic work hasn’t even slowed him down. From Harvey’s missive to Stop Hillary PAC supporters just this week:

Friend we’re launching a critical goal to reach 1 million Americans strong against Hillary.

**If just 786 donors step up in the next 24 hours, we will be able to reach 1 million Americans strong against Hillary BEFORE our June 30th deadline.**

Click this link to donate $15 or $35 securely and help us recruit 20 more Americans to our movement to Stop Hillary?

Your donation of $15 or $35 will go directly towards our efforts to build an army 1 million strong against Hillary Clinton — before she can win the nomination.

But as we prepare for what is sure to be one of the biggest political wars ever waged — I am certain I cannot do it without the support of patriots, like you, who love and stand ready to defend America…

As we noted a couple of days ago, had Harvey been hired as executive director of the Colorado GOP, his role as chairman of the Stop Hillary PAC may have presented a whole new set of election law problems. But beyond that, the stigma of bringing on a “ScamPAC” artist to run the state Republican Party would have been exceedingly bad for the party’s image and fundraising. Bad enough that we would fully accept that as a justifiable reason for House to not hire Harvey, which House ultimately chose not to do despite Harvey’s very public presumption that it was a done deal.

Unfortunately for Steve House, as we now know, Ted Harvey…has powerful friends.

Ellen Roberts, Save(s) Thyself

Ellen Roberts can finally stop arguing with Ellen Roberts now that she is no longer considering a U.S. Senate run.

Ellen Roberts can finally stop arguing with Ellen Roberts now that she is no longer considering a U.S. Senate run.

Today State Senator Ellen Roberts (R-Durango) made her first logical statement to the press in literally weeks when she announced that she will not run for U.S. Senate in 2016. This is, undoubtedly, the wisest political move she has made in a month filled with ridiculous self-inflicted political wounds.

As Lynn Bartels of the Denver Post reports on the Roberts announcement:

State Sen. Ellen Roberts announced Tuesday she won’t seek the Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate next year, saying the “hurdle of immediate, massive fundraising” was the single biggest factor in her decision.

“A Senate race would also require full-time attention for the next 16 months and I am committed to carrying out well my existing duties this interim,” Roberts said in a statement…

Roberts was seen as an attractive candidate in part because she is a woman and also she has bipartisan support in southwestern Colorado. But even some party members questioned whether she was ready for prime time after a couple of gaffs. She told a conservative talk radio host she never said she was a “pro-choice Republican,” prompting the liberal blog ColoradoPols to display a video of Roberts on the Senate floor saying she was a pro-choice Republican. [Pols emphasis]

In case you missed the video clip mentioned above, here’s the original post “Seven Seconds That Could End Ellen Roberts’ Political Career.”

Roberts really wanted to run for Congress or U.S. Senate in 2016, but she proved to be spectacularly bad when trying to move to a larger stage. From the time she first publicly floated her name in early May, telling the Durango Herald that she was a “long-shot” candidate, Roberts made one silly gaffe after another, flip-flopping on abortion like a spawning salmon, and her hometown Durango Herald eventually jabbed her for taking part in political theater that was “not compromise, but Kabuki.

Democrats were admittedly nervous about a potential Roberts campaign against Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet, but it was always a “theoretical concern,” since nobody really knew how she might handle a statewide run. Once Roberts started actually talking about running for higher office, she torpedoed her own career before Democrats could even lift a finger.

But, hey, it could be worse.

Roberts’ flawed attack on “liberal columnist” spotlights tragic defeat of LARC family-planning legislation

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Sen. Ellen Roberts (R-Durango).

Sen. Ellen Roberts (R-Durango).

Last month, The Nation magazine’s Katha Pollitt reported that State Sen. Ellen Roberts was opposed to legislation providing funds Colorado’s amazing pregnancy prevention program because Roberts was unconvinced that Obamacare didn’t already pay for the long-acting-reversible contraption (LARC) offered under the family planning initiative.

“Republican Senator Ellen Roberts told me she might have supported the bill if she’d had a good answer for that,” reported Pollitt.

In her column, Pollitt provided the widely-known fact that insurance companies are not currently paying for the services and care provided by the LARC program.

About a month later, The Denver Post’s Lynn Bartels reported that Roberts, who’s a Republican from Durango, was unhappy with Politt’s column:

Roberts said she should have been aware she was talking to a liberal columnist, and explained more clearly that she already had told GOP leaders if the bill made it to the Senate floor, she would support it.

If Roberts was opposed to the LARC bill because she thought Obamacare already covered the program, as reported by Pollitt, how could Roberts possibly have promised GOP leaders that she would support the bill if it came to the floor? No amount of clarifying to Pollitt could explain this inconsistency, whether Pollitt was radical communist or a hatchet-wielding or blackmailing Colorado Republican.

And, not that it matters, but Roberts had no excuse for failing to know that Pollitt is a progressive columnist. In an email prior to her interview with Roberts, Pollitt actually factually told Roberts she was with The Nation–and Pollitt says she has the email to prove it. Roberts had plenty of time to type the name “Katha Pollitt” in Google.

Pollitt told me via email: When I emailed Sen. Roberts I identified myself as a columnist with The Nation magazine. (I have the e mail.) If she didn’t know we are a liberal publication — and if she would have said something different had she known that — she could easily have found out. It’s not a secret!

I asked Pollitt if she quoted Roberts accurately and she politely responded with, “I quoted her accurately.”

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#COleg 2015: Women Stepped Up

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

As we looked over this year’s Legislative Scorecard, we noticed a trend; women voted in favor of conservation more frequently than men did. We crunched the numbers, and they confirmed this hypothesis; Colorado’s female legislators voted to preserve our air, land, water, and quality of life significantly more than their male counterparts. Here’s the breakdown:

  • Men in the Colorado Senate scored 42.6% on our issues as a group, while female senators scored an impressive 67.5%
  • In the House, women voted in favor of conservation 66.9% of the time, compared to 51.4% of the time for men.

This certainly doesn’t mean that men are categorically poor environmental stewards or that male legislators don’t care about the environment. Our 2015 Legislator of the Year, Matt Jones, boasts an impressive 100% lifetime pro-conservation voting record. Not only that, he has consistently backed up his votes by sponsoring proactive bills and testifying against ones that threaten Colorado’s air, land, water, and quality of life.

However, the fact remains that women’s commitment to conservation is a well-established pattern on both the state and federal level. According to a collaborative report from the League of Conservation Voters and Rachel’s Network, women in both chambers of Congress have consistently been stronger advocates for the environment than men have.

In general, women tend to vote in favor of the environment, whether they are in the legislature or at the ballot box, which reflects how problematic it is that our gender representation is so lopsided. Colorado historically ranked first in the nation in electing women. That declined after the 2014 midterms though we still lead among many other states. Nationwide, women account for only 23 percent of state legislators and 17 percent of Congress, making the U.S. 73rd in the world for gender parity in elected offices. Electing more women would be a step in the right direction not just for equality in the U.S., but for protecting our communities for future generations.

Damning Deep Dive Details Roberts’ “Difficult” Dilemma

The Denver Post’s Lynn Bartels has been watching as state Sen. Ellen Roberts has mulled a run for the U.S. Senate–and as you can see in the Tweet above, a reference to a particularly damaging opinion piece from the Colorado Independent’s Mike Littwin after Roberts falsely claimed in a conservative talk radio interview that “I’ve never called myself pro-choice,” she hasn’t been very impressed.

An in-depth story this weekend about Roberts’ possible Senate bid makes us think Bartels is not seeing anything you’d call improvement since Roberts’ rocky start in mid-May, as her struggle to define herself:

Roberts’ reputation was as a moderate when she was first elected to the legislature in 2006, but Capitol regulars saw what they thought was a shift to the right. When Republicans took control of the state Senate after last November’s election, her conservative caucus elected her Senate president pro tem. That escalated the conversation…

After the session ended in May, Roberts told her hometown paper she was looking at a Senate run. “I recognize it would be a longshot,” the 55-year-old said.

The Durango Herald noted Roberts would have to survive a partisan primary, which typically supports the more conservative candidate, and pointed out that Roberts supports gay rights and is pro-choice.

That’s when things got interesting.

Roberts’ “evolution” into a more conservative candidate, in anticipation of a GOP primary for higher office, has not gone well. This year’s legislative session witnessed a major shift in Roberts’ voting record, with three key actions standing out as trouble spots for her political future: her ill-advised support for a bill that would make it even easier for Colorado students to opt out of immunizations, her fickle support for funds to extend a highly successful IUD contraception program, and above all, her support for a so-called “fetal homicide” bill that opponents claimed would create Personhood-style legal rights for fetuses. In response to these actions, Planned Parenthood Votes Colorado and other reproductive choice groups who once considered Roberts a reachable GOP lawmaker have denounced her.

Roberts’ excuse for this shift?

Roberts said her stances did change after she got elected to the Senate, in part because she no longer represented just the liberal-based Durango, but also conservative constituents in Cortez, Montrose and elsewhere in the eight counties she represents.

It’s possible that reasoning may persuade a few voters, but it opens Roberts to the charge of being driven by political opportunity instead of principle–an allegation that will stick with many more. And when you combine such a ready admission that her stances have changed with her unforced gaffe about having “never” called herself pro-choice, when she plainly has done so and recently, there’s little left to trust.

And that’s why Roberts is the subject of stories about facing “difficulty” instead of, you know, opportunity.