Will Democrats Hold Both General Assembly Chambers?

UPDATE: Via the Denver Business Journal, ballot counting in Adams County is agonizingly slow due to write-in votes in a countywide race. As a result, they may not be done counting until tomorrow:

County officials had about 25,000 ballots left to count when they went home at 2 a.m. Wednesday, Siedlecki said. Clerk's office workers and judges returned at 9 a.m. this morning but have the capacity only to count between 15,000 and 20,000 ballots per day, meaning that the tallying is likely to stretch into Thursday, he said.

"There also were a large number of ballots turned in Monday and Tuesday," Siedlecki said, noting that added to the delay.

Hanging in the balance are one Senate race and two House races that likely will determine which parties control each of the legislative chambers…

The delay of results could delay elections for legislative leadership positions, including House speaker and Senate president. Those elections typically take place on the Thursday morning after the election but may have to be postponed if it remains unclear which party leads one or both of the chambers.

—–

colorado-state-capitol

Last's night's despair as Democrats suffered wide-ranging losses both in Colorado and nationally is giving way to cautious hope this morning that Colorado Democrats may, in addition to holding the Governor's Mansion, narrowly retain control of the Colorado Senate and House. FOX 31:

Though the GOP takeover swept across the nation on Tuesday, two pro-gun Republican recall winners who helped start the shift of power in Colorado before election season lost their seats in the state Senate Tuesday night, leaving control of that crucial chamber still up for grabs Wednesday morning.

If Democrats were to retain their majority in the state Senate, they would control that chamber as well as the state House and governor’s office, with FOX31 Denver calling that tight race in favor of John Hickenlooper Wednesday morning.

Before Tuesday’s election, Democrats held an 18-17 edge in the state Senate, with 18 seats up for grabs. If the races concluded where they stood as of 8 a.m. Wednesday morning, Democrats would retain that one-seat majority.

Two of the seats that changed hands Tuesday night once belonged to pro-gun recall winners Bernie Herpin, R-Colorado Springs, and George Rivera, R-Pueblo, both of whom lost their races by relatively large margins in Districts 11 and 3, respectively.

In the House, a couple of Adams County Democrats came up unexpectedly short, with Joe Salazar and Jenise May narrowly trailing underdog Republican opponents. It's since been reported that thousands of ballots remain uncounted in both Adams County and Jefferson County, quite possibly enough to flip those two House races back to Democrats in addition to boosting Democratic Senate candidates in tight Jeffco races. On the West Slope, SD-5 Democratic candidate Kerry Donovan is narrowly ahead of Republican Don Suppes–another vital bulwark against a Republican takeover of the Senate.

In short? Watch this space, because between John Hickenlooper's re-election and this developing situation, there's a chance the gloating by state-level Republicans last night was a little premature.

Suppes Swamped By Controversy Right To The End

Donald Suppes.

Donald Suppes.

The Grand Junction Sentinel's Charles Ashby reports, controversial GOP SD-5 candidate Don Suppes' negative headlines persist all the way to the end of the race–Colorado Ethics Watch filed a complaint late yesterday over Suppes' use of the Orchard City town hall for campaign purposes:

Suppes, who has been mayor of the town since 2008, admitted he and some volunteers for his campaign for Senate District 5 used the town building to sort mailers, saying there was nothing wrong with doing so if no town money was being spent.

But the Denver-based ethics group said it’s a clear violation of the law to use town resources to campaign for public office.

“To use one’s position as an elected official to divert public resources to support one’s own election campaign strikes at the heart of democracy,” said Luis Toro, executive director of the group. “Don Suppes’ blatant misuse of his position as mayor to get free office space for his campaign is exactly the kind of misconduct our state law is meant to prohibit.”

The Colorado Independent:

“In retrospect, it probably wasn’t the best choice to do it there. But if that’s the case, then I think the media need to start getting after every time any candidate uses the courthouse steps as a means to promote their campaign or if you have a political group that’s having a picnic in the park using park benches and park pavilions,” Suppes said the conservative statehouse candidate…

Suppes’s Democratic opponent, former Vail Town Council member Kerry Donovan, says her understanding of the law is that it bans facilities like a town hall for electioneering, even if it doesn’t technically cost taxpayers a dime.

“If you’re a public official, you don’t use any of those assets to run for another office,” said Donovan, who last year decided not to run for a second term in Vail in order to campaign for the state senate. “You can’t use the power of an office to influence voters. It’s not just about tax dollars.”

The mostly rural SD-5 race has received a disproportionate amount of press coverage this election, and the cause has been pretty much all Don Suppes–from his U.N. conspiracy theorizing to the scandal over a racist Tweet from his campaign account, and now blatant misuse of public resources as Mayor of Orchard City. It doesn't look better for Suppes to defend something the public will plainly see as improper. Strategists tell us that SD-5 is one of the closest races to watch tonight, but if Suppes does lose this winnable race, he'll have his own silliness to blame in addition to his Democratic opponent.

Ballot Return Momentum Swinging–Right Now, Right On Cue

votebutton

FOX 31's Eli Stokols has smart analysis up today about what's really going on with ballot returns in Colorado:

Much is being made of the Republicans’ voter registration advantage in Colorado’s early voting, which inched from 104,000 Saturday to 106,000 on Sunday, seemingly a sign of yet another contested U.S. Senate battle tilting toward Republicans.

But election observers from Denver to Washington, DC would be wise to pay attention to another figure: that voter registration margin as a percentage of the overall vote.

As more votes come in, what was a 10-point GOP edge last week has slipped a little bit with each new early voting report from the Secretary of State, down to 9.2 percent Thursday, 9 percent Friday, 8.6 percent Saturday and now 7.9 percent Sunday.

As we’ve seen over several election cycles in Colorado, the early voter registration numbers can be deceiving; and the early Election Night returns often reflect few of the ballots cast over the final days of the race, offering little indication of how a race will end.

The last few elections in Colorado have given us a primer on what to expect this year, which is why Democrats have not seemed as nervous as one might expect as the GOP posted an early lead: Republicans reliably get their mail ballots returned promptly, which makes their numbers look good early. But as we approach Election Day, the pattern switches, and Democrats rapidly close the GOP's lead. By Election Night?

Well, based on 2012 and 2010, we know what's likely to happen on Election Night. Democrats outperform the public polls, and win on the strength of their late-inning ground game. And as the New York Times' Nate Cohn reports, that's exactly what's happening–right before our eyes once again.

Registered Democrats outnumbered registered Republicans by three points over 80,000 received ballots on Saturday. It was the first time that Democrats outpaced Republicans, and it was enough to narrow the Republican advantage to eight points, 40 to 32…

Democratic gains were underpinned by a continuation of the favorable demographic trends that had allowed them to whittle away at the G.O.P.'s percent margin over the last week. Voters under age 45 bumped up to 31 percent of returns.

Voters who didn’t participate in 2010 reached 33 percent of Saturday’s tallies, also a first.

The margin for Democrats to overcome this year is greater these the two previous general elections, but the impact of 100% mail balloting for every registered voter has yet to be fully understood in the context of those prior results. Likewise with same-day voter registration, though that seems very likely to work against Republicans in the same way mail ballots work for the GOP in early returns. The bottom line is that anyone telling you that this election "is over" by any stretch is misleading you for a very specific purpose.

Not only is this election far from over, the same dynamics that brought Democrats victory here in prior years are taking shape as we write this.

Tuesday night, and not a moment before, we'll know if it was enough.

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.

(more…)

Um, You’re Breaking the Law, Don Suppes

THURSDAY UPDATE: The Grand Junction Sentinel's Charles Ashby:

Suppes said the town long has had a policy of allowing town trustees to use town hall for personal reasons as long as no taxpayer dollars are spent.

“Under town policy, board members can use town hall free of charge,” he said. “We all have a key to town hall, and as long as we don’t have to have somebody open or close, there is no policy against it.”

But Donovan said this is about state law, not local policies.

“The rules that I operate under are not to use any of my professional assets to run for a public office,” Donovan said. “I don’t know what the letter of the law says, but my interpretation of the color of the law is, if you’re a public official, you don’t use any of those assets to run for another office. You can’t use the power of an office to influence voters. It’s not just about tax dollars.”

—–

Donald Suppes

Republican Don Suppes

When we last left Republican Don Suppes, the Orchard City mayor running for the open seat in SD-5, he and his campaign were still trying to add to their list of reasons why his Twitter account would be linking to a white supremacist website (It was hacked! It was identity theft! It was a rogue staffer!) 

We already know that Suppes isn't very good at 1) the Internet, and 2) messaging. Now we can add 3) posing for pictures, and 4) following the law.

According to a complaint submitted to the Trustees of the Town of Orchard City (Suppes-Complaint PDF), Suppes has been using the Orchard City Town Hall as a campaign office. That's right, the Mayor of Orchard City is using the Town Hall as part of his campaign for a State Senate seat.

It doesn't appear as though Suppes' campaign finance records include reimbursements to Orchard City for using its Town Hall, which is such an obvious violation of the law that Suppes should be disqualified from the SD-5 race just for being so inexcusably stupid. But if you think that's dumb, wait 'til you see how the violation was uncovered…

…Hey, there's Don Suppes himself, grinning away in a photo taken in front of a table full of campaign literature and next to a giant poster that proclaims "Town of Orchard City!" What could go wrong? And what are the odds that Suppes' campaign has been using other town property for his campaign (quick, somebody destroy the photocopier!)

Don Suppes campaign office

1) Town of Orchard City poster. 2) Mayor and candidate Don Suppes. 3) Table full of Suppes campaign literature.

 

 

 

 

The Orwellian Desperation of Jefferson County Republicans

SATURDAY UPDATE: The Denver Post's Eric Gorski, who took the photo of Jefferson County protesters that was crudely doctored for this Republican mailer to remove their original protest message, is most unhappy to see it being misused:

The photo on the fliers appears to blur out the faces of the students. The sign messages were changed to reflect … it’s not clear.

But one thing that is clear is students took to the streets because they are unhappy with a school board controlled by three Republicans who won office in 2013… [Pols emphasis]

Neville, Sanchez and Woods won GOP primaries and had the backing of the strongly conservative Rocky Mountain Gun Owners organization. Neville’s son, Joe, is a lobbyist for the gun group. Neville’s sister-in-law, Julie Williams, sits on the Jeffco school board.

In addition to Jefferson County Public Schools' demand that these candidates stop using the district's trademarked logo, the Post's lawyers are demanding they stop using the doctored image of these students:

“Not only does the use of the photograph infringe copyright interests, it violates other intellectual property laws by unlawfully associating The Denver Post with your campaign. It also violates basic transparency principles by altering a photograph without informing the readers. Finally, it offends the Fair Use policies in place by Twitter and creates an actionable claim by the person pictured in the photograph holding the sign.” [Pols emphasis]

If we were one of the kids in this doctored photo, we'd be talking to Mom and Dad about a lawyer.

—–

nevillemailer

7NEWS reports:

Attorneys representing Jeffco Public Schools have sent a cease and desist letter to candidates for state senate who used the district's logo in a campaign mailing.

Tim Neville, a self-described "Independent Republican," is running for office in Senate District 16. The campaign flier in question criticizes incumbent State Senator Jeanne Nicholson.

Beside the district's logo, the flyer states: "Jeffco schools are in crisis because Denver politicians like Jeanne Nicholson are keeping funding from the classroom while giving more power to corrupt union bosses."

Neville's statement of "crisis" in the district references recent widespread protesting over the conservative board majority's decisions regarding teacher compensation and a plan to review the AP US History Curriculum…

As you can see above, the mailer plainly makes use of the Jefferson County Public Schools' copyrighted logo, and that's obviously not okay. But there are other aspects to this mailer that make it vastly more deceptive. For starters, a sign held by a student in the photo has been crudely doctored to replace their protest message with the words "I want my future back." The original photo, taken by the Denver Post's Eric Gorski, clearly displays the student's original message: "my education, my voice, save AP U.S. history." We assume nobody has spoken with that student about this mailer yet, but we rather doubt she would approve of her sign being altered in this manner.

We think she'll be especially outraged to learn, as 7NEWS continues, that

Neville is the brother-in-law of Jeffco School Board Member Julie Williams. [Pols emphasis]

That's right, folks–the brother-in-law of Julie Williams, the school board member at the heart of the recent internationally-publicized controversy over "reviewing" the district's AP history curriculum, is himself altering the history of the recent protests against Williams to make it look like he sympathizes. The mailer includes a photo of Tim Neville with his wife Barb, Julie Williams' sister, who also runs Williams' political action committee (PAC). The deception here is so over the top brazen that it just leaves you shaking your head in disbelief. It's not much better for two other Jefferson County Republican Senate candidates who sent out similar mailers, Laura Waters Woods in SD-19 and Tony Sanchez in SD-22, both of whom have been supported by Williams and vice versa–but in Neville's case it's so outlandishly hypocritical and insulting to have doctored this student's protest sign that we have to think it will end in disaster.

That, or history is in greater danger than anyone ever imagined.

Ballots drop into the mail; $51,000 from two donors drops to Jefferson County race

Two donors, oil and gas investor Mitchell Solich and mozzarella billionaire James Leprino, dropped a total of $40,000 in late September into the Jefferson County Commissioner race supporting Commissioner Don Rosier over US Marine Lt. Colonel and Delta pilot John Flerlage.  Solich's money is on top of $11,000 he pitched in earlier and $1000 from Solich's business partner Roger Flahive.

 This cold blast to the Democrats shows two things: the impact of unlimited contributions on a race, especially late to the party, and how dicey everything is in Jeffco. Rosier's total campaign dollars at the end of the previous reporting period were $29,808.

 James Leprino pitches $10,000 to Commissioner Rosier
James Leprino's $10,000 comes after the August completion of a $350,000 improvement to his jet hangar at Jefferson County Airport, paid for in a budget supplemental by the county.  The county put $200,000 into fuel line construction and $150,000 into taxi-lane improvements. (See August 5, 2014 report).
 
Mitchell Solich tosses $41,000 to Rosier
Mitchell Solich is senior managing director and Roger Flahive is managing director of SFC Energy Partners.  The company holds many investments in oil and gas development enterprises.

 Solich's late September $30,000 comes just after county commissioners voted on changes to oil and gas set back rules for drilling from 600 feet to 500 feet. The change conforms Jeffco to state regulations, but locals wonder "why now" when the Governor's oil and gas task force will report in March.  

 Voters in south Jeffco will be most affected by drilling, as some early oil and gas exploration is going on behind the Hog Back, near the Ken Caryl Valley in the south on up to Red Rocks and Morrison.  "The Turkey Creek outcrop is oil-saturated," said Dr. Steve Sonnenberg from Colorado School of Mines in an article in the Columbine Courier.  

 Drilling in these areas hits three highly contested Senate seats in addition to the commissioner race:  SD 20 Jahn v Queen, SD 16 Nicholson v Neville, and SD 22 Kerr v Sanchez.  The County owns open space but may or may not own mineral rights, depending on location.

 Rosier was earlier under pressure from south Jeffco voters outraged by a possible flag-pole annexation of Southwest Plaza to the tiny town of BowMar.  Rosier supported the county's further exploration of the deal, but BowMar eventually bowed out.  Rosier also did not step in to protect Chatfield Reservoir from its deployment away from its recreational purpose of 45 years.

 Dems hold candidate campaign funds advantage

Despite this late influx of cash into Jeffco, Democratic state Senate candidates overall have a 3:1 advantage over Republicans running for the legislature.  Republicans, following the GOP Jeffco commissioner race model, have the big pockets of big PACS to do late ads and mail, however.

 Individual Democrats have to spend more time raising money.  But that also puts them in touch with many more voters.  This election cycle tests the logic of the divergent strategies.

 HD-22 Dem candidate Parker has her own strategy
State House candidate Mary Parker, a Democrat in a non-targeted race, is running her own course against Rep. Justin Everett.  She's focusing on Everett's records for the 2014 session:  most NO votes, most missed committee hearings until his party got on him in March, most snoozes, and 49 general assembly tardies over 32 weeks.  Her "Justin Everett Absent" video  on her opponent's late attendance to the House assembly is both funny and not funny.
 
Here's the latest Senate count:
  • 15 Senate seats are to the Republicans  (doesn't include Sens. Herpin and Rivera)
  • 13 Senate seats are to the Dems (includes Garcia)
  • 3 seats are likely Dem:  Merrifield-Herpin ($1.8:1), Jahn-Queen ($4:1), Solano-Humenik ($4:1)
  • 4 seats are up in the air: Zenzinger-Woods/Waters ($2:1); Donovan-Suppes ($1.5:1); Kerr-Sanchez ($2.5:1); Nicholson-Neville ($2:1)
To capture a majority, Republicans need to win 3 of 4 up-in-the-air seats or grab some number of the likely Dem seats.   If Dems carry the 3 likely seats, they need to capture 2 of 4 toss-up seats. 

 Contested Senate races give Dems the edge

Sen. Kerr in SD-22 has a money and campaign experience advantage over Sanchez.  He gets the edge.  The Donovan-Suppes race may turn on some of Suppes' twitter postings on ethnicity and debate statements about the United Nations. 

 The Jeffco Nicholson-Neville and Zenzinger-Woods/Waters races, along with Kerr's and Jahn's, may turn on impacts of the AP history controversy in Jeffco. Neville's wife Barb has helped sharpen her sister's school board message, but that's very bad timing for Neville.

 Right now, the Democratic betting line for state Senate simple majority is 60-40; for a majority of 20-15, it's 50-50.   

 House secure for Dems

The Democratic majority on the House side is secure at 34.  Republicans have 24 safe seats.  The following seats are toss-ups:
  • McLachlan-Brown; money advantage McLachlan, registration advantage Brown; performance advantage McLachlan
  • Primavera-Tinlin; money advantage Primavera; registration even; performance advantage Primavera
Contested House races include:
  • Kagan-Benge; money and performance advantage Kagan; registration even
  • Doyle-Keyser; registration advantage Keyser, party flip advantage Doyle, money close
  • Cronk-Tate; registration advantage Tate, slight money advantage Cronk because of primary
  • Young-Aricayos; registration, performance, and money advantage Young
  • Tyler-Barnes; registration, performance, and money advantage Tyler
  • Parker-Everett; registration and performance advantage Everett; party flip advantage Parker; money close

Money trail indicates RMGO recognizes the toxicity of its own brand

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

RMGOPistol

With all the negative attention on Rocky Mountain Gun Owners of late, you'd think the outfit might want to hide its name when it attempts to influence voters. On the other hand, RMGO isn't known to care about what normal people think.

It appears, though, RMGO has actually gotten the message that its RMGO name scares people. Instead of simply using its independent expenditure committee "RMGO SUPERPAC" to oppose at least one state senate candidate, RMGO is sending money to do so to an entity called "Colorado Liberty PAC."

Exactly $55,000 of the $60,000 donated to Colorado Liberty PAC comes from RMGO, according to campaign finance records. (The other $5,000 came from the "Colorado Tea Party.")

And the designated filing agent for Colorado Liberty PAC is Joseph Neville, who runs RMGO in Colorado and serves as its notorious lobbyist here. So RMGO apparently controls Colorado Liberty PAC. Neville did not return an email seeking comment.

In turn, Colorado Liberty PAC is sending mailers attacking SD 22 candidate Andy Kerr, who's Jeffco district is populated by people whom, RMGO has apparently concluded, don't like the RMGO brand.

See a Colorado Liberty PAC mailer attacking Andy Kerr 10-2014.

And another one attacking Kerr.

Investigating Miscarriages? It’s Baked In The Personhood Cake

Tim Neville.

Tim Neville.

9NEWS' Steve Staeger has an interesting story up about a mailer hitting SD-16 Republican Senate candidate Tim Neville on his longstanding (and as far as we know, ongoing) support for the Colorado Personhood abortion ban amendments. As has emerged as a major controversy in Colorado's U.S. Senate race this year, the language in the Personhood measures conferring rights from "the moment of fertilization" could have a broad range of consequences, including outlawing common forms of so-called "abortifacient" birth control.

And as the mailer in question from Mainstream Colorado explains to SD-16 voters, Personhood could do something else, too:

The mailer, sent to women in the 16th State Senate District, claims Tim Neville supports a plan that could allow the government to investigate women who have suffered a miscarriage.

"Why would anyone in their right mind try to do something like that," Neville responded to the ad…

"We know that Tim Neville has supported personhood measures in the past," said Cathy Alderman, VP of public affairs for Planned Parenthood Votes Colorado.

Alderman says personhood measures can lead to investigations into miscarriages by police or district attorneys.

"If a woman were to lose that pregnancy or choose to terminate that pregnancy that is then determined to be the death of a person, and so any actions she takes in regards to that pregnancy could be investigated as a potential felony or a manslaughter claim," she said. [Pols emphasis]

Alderman admits the bill does not specifically allow investigations into miscarriages, as the ad seems to claim…

That's technically true. As we've noted repeatedly, the Personhood abortion ban amendments that Colorado voters have rejected over and over are very short–one or two sentences defining unborn as persons with rights from "the moment of fertilization." But as experts, fact checkers, and even the proponents of the Personhood measures agree, those words would have very broad effects: outlawing all abortions including in cases of rape or incest, and even outlawing birth control that would have the effect of "killing" a fertilized egg.

It is precisely those "penumbral" conseqeunces of Personhood that led Cory Gardner to publicly abandon support for the measures soon after entering the U.S. Senate race. The exact interpretation of the law if passed would be hashed out by the courts and enabling legislation, but it's the very same language granting rights from "the moment of fertilization" that creates the potential for a ban on "abortifacient" birth control–and yes, even criminal investigations of miscarriages.

In Wednesday's U.S. Senate debate, moderator Kyle Clark coolly informed Gardner that "we will not debate" the effects of his federal Life at Conception Act–Gardner's federal Personhood bill with the same "moment of fertilization" language that opens the door to the measure's worst hypothetical effects. Meaning that for the purposes of that debate, Clark was not interested in hearing diversionary arguments that conflict with the plain and very simple language of the bill.

Well, folks, if it's true for Cory Gardner, it's true for Tim Neville too.

“Sobbing” Suppes Staffer Raises Many New Questions

Don Suppes Twitter

UPDATE: According to campaign finance records available online via the Colorado Secretary of State's office, "Anna Villoch-Jolly" was only paid twice by Suppes' campaign. A list of expenditures shows that Jolly received $410 on 6/4/14 and $208.48 on 6/27/14. Yet Suppes claims that he fired Jolly in September when he first learned about the Tweets in question. If you believe Suppes, he fired someone he wasn't paying anyway.

—–

The controversy over a Tweet sent from an account owned by SD-5 GOP candidate Don Suppes linking to a white supremacist website has made a lot of waves in one of the state's hottest legislative races, and is now the subject of mailers arriving in the district. In a story late yesterday, the Denver Post's Lynn Bartels reports on an alleged former campaign staffer who contacted her, hoping to jump on this proverbial grenade before it sinks Suppes' campaign:

A 47-year-old Castle Rock woman sobbed today when she outed herself as the person who posted a tweet from state Senate candidate Don Suppes’ account that linked to a neo-confederate website critical of women, blacks and others…

The inconsolable Jolly said she came forward today because a friend forwarded her a campaign mailer attacking Suppes that asked, “Did Don Suppes promote a white supremacist website?” The mailer, from a Democratic-funded group, includes a confederate flag, the tweet she wrote under the twitter handle @DonSuppes2014 and unflattering reports about Suppes from two liberal outfits, Mother Jones and ColoradoPols…

Suppes said he would have preferred Jolly stay behind the scenes because he fears she will be attacked.

“It’s done. The left is not going to change its campaign tactics,” he said. “My concern is I’m the candidate. I signed up for this. She didn’t.”

Well, actually, if she signed up to work on his campaign, and Tweeted out this link to a white supremacist website, she surely did "sign up" for whatever followed–including, as the latest version of the story is reported by Bartels, getting fired by Suppes for sending it.

The problem, and we're shocked that Bartels failed to mention any of this, is that Suppes has changed his entire story about what happened. When it was originally discovered back in September, you'll recall, Suppes tried to blame the whole thing on a Democratic "hack" attempt.

Candidate for Colorado Senate District 5 Don Suppes has suspended his Twitter account after noticing unauthorized activity. According to a press release from the Suppes campaign the Republican claims "The Democrats have utilized this opportunity to run a smear campaign"… [Pols emphasis]

Campaign Manager Matt Soper said, "The account hacking had been reported to the appropriate authorities."

A few days later, Suppes claimed he had "taken steps recommended for victims of identity theft," while introducing the possibility that the Tweet was the responsibility of "a staffer who has since been terminated." This came after we and others had found the "hacking" allegations to be pretty much laughable.

With all of that in mind, this latest attempt at cover raises many new questions. When exactly did Suppes figure out that he wasn't hacked by Democrats after all? Where is the evidence that this was ever reported to the "appropriate authorities?" Why would Suppes claim this was "Democrats running a smear campaign," and that he was monitoring his identity for theft, when the origin of this Tweet should have been clear to him from minute one? Why, after Suppes allegedly fired this staffer, didn't he admit that he was never "hacked" at all?

Obviously we're not going to get those answers from the Denver Post–so hopefully if another outlet gets a call from Suppes' bawling ex-staffer, they'll ask a few more questions.

Not Even Trying To Be Truthful–Isn’t There A Law?

zenzingerchina

The Colorado Independent's Tessa Cheek reports on an ad running against SD-19 Democratic Sen. Rachel Zenzinger from the Republican group Colorado Citizens for Accountable Government that is so totally false, even by political advertising standards, that it's kind of ridiculous:

Colorado Citizens for Accountable Government, a conservative politics organization, is back, spending heavily in state elections this cycle. And some of the rough $200,000 they’ve poured into the messaging market so far is behind a false attack advertisement directed at state Senator Rachel Zenzinger, a Democrat from a swing district based around Arvada.

The ad, “China Girl,” alleges that while serving as Arvada city councilwoman, Zenzinger voted to use taxpayer money to fund a visit to sister city Jinzhou, China…

To backup the claim that Zenzinger spent or even tried to spend taxpayer dollars for an international junket, the ad sites Arvada City Council minutes from April of 2013, as well as an article by The Colorado Independent.

The problem is,

Not only does neither source support the claim — our article, for example, only reports Zenzinger’s appointment to the state Senate — the council minutes themselves expose the ad as blatantly false.

Zenzinger never went to China and she herself filed a motion in that city council meeting requiring that private funds available through nonprofit group Sister Cities of Arvada, not public dollars, must be used if either elected officials or staff were to go on the trip. [Pols emphasis]

In short, now-Sen. Zenzinger did the exact opposite of what this ad suggests. Not only did she insist that taxpayer funds not be used on the trip, she didn't even go. It's frequently alleged/presumed in these situations that "both sides do it," but this ad goes beyond just about anything we've seen this year in terms of making stuff up–and given the wildly inaccurate ads from Americans For Prosperity on Obamacare as just one of so many examples, that is no small statement.

In Colorado, there is a law on the books against knowingly making false statements in political ads. Zenzinger's campaign reportedly has not yet gone to the Jefferson County DA for a criminal investigation, thus far hoping a cease-and-desist letter to Comcast, combined with the clear evidence that the spot is knowingly false, will be enough to get it pulled. There is debate as to whether or not the law against lying in political communications in Colorado is enforceable, or should be, but it does put some theoretical teeth into these requests.

We will say that in this case, the ad is so inexcusably false that it morally does not deserve airtime.

Making Julie Williams The Face of The GOP

GOP state senate candidate Tony Sanchez and Jeffco board member Julie Williams.

GOP state senate candidate Tony Sanchez and Jeffco board member Julie Williams.

As the months-long protests against actions of the new conservative Jefferson County school board majority have raged on, and in the last few weeks gained international media coverage, we've tried to stay focused on the next logical question for a political blog–what effect these highly visible and popular protests will have on next month's elections. Jefferson County is considered one of the state's (and for that matter, the nation's) foremost political bellwethers, and a win in Jefferson County is generally considered to be mandatory to winning any statewide race.

In addition to the general fact that the Jeffco school board is now controlled by identifiably partisan Republicans, board member Julie Williams has close ties to the Neville family of well-known conservative Republican Jefferson County activists. As Williams has emerged as the central figure in the recent AP history curriculum review controversy, her personal connections to Republican state legislative candidates–along with the damage to the GOP brand her proposal caused just ahead of a major election–are a legitimate concern for Republicans who want to win elections next month.

As FOX 31's Eli Stokols reported last night, Democrats are doing what they can to bring about the GOP's worst-case scenario:

In a new television ad, Colorado Democrats attempt to draw a line between the three conservative Jefferson County School Board members whose effort to square the district’s AP U.S. History curriculum with their idea of “American exceptionalism” has sparked weeks of protest, with four Republican state senate candidates looking to oust Democratic incumbents.

The Democratic Senate Campaign Fund, an initiative of the Colorado Democratic Party, is behind the ad, the most serious effort yet to leverage the ongoing controversy over the Jefferson County School Board into a political advantage in next month’s election.

The group is betting that swing voters in Colorado’s biggest bellwether county will side with the students and teachers who have protested the board’s move — and that linking four GOP senate hopefuls to the conservative board majority could swing these competitive races that are certain to affect the balance of power within the Capitol’s upper chamber come January.

“Jefferson County families are against the extreme Tea Party slate pushing their ideological agenda on families. That’s not how we do things in Colorado, said Andrew Short, the DSCF’s executive director. “They have nationally embarrassed us and they will pay for it in November.” [Pols emphasis]

UPDATE: From the Democratic Senate Campaign Fund's press release:

Tim Neville’s sister-in-law, school board member Julie Williams is trying to push her extreme agenda into the State Senate. She has the backing of her brother-in-law, Tim Neville and is also supporting Laura Woods, Tony Sanchez, and Larry Queen.
 
“We stand on the side of students, parents, and teachers – and against the extreme Tea Party agenda.  This isn’t about party politics.  This is about what is right.  The Tea Party won all the Jefferson County primaries last June and is now pushing their ideological agenda on Jefferson County families. This will not be accepted by middle of the road, Jefferson County voters,” said Short.
 
Beginning with a pop quiz, the ad asks, “The censoring of textbooks and rewriting of history recently resulted in public protests, where?”  The answer is Jefferson County.  The ad outlines how the new school board extremists nationally embarrassed Jefferson County families. It also highlights Julie Williams’ support for the Jefferson County Tea Party slate for State Senate.

Williams' original proposal to review Jeffco's new AP history curriculum to ensure it "promotes patriotism" and does not "encourage or condone civil disorder, social strife or disregard of the law" was, it's safe to say today, politically disastrous. The literally worldwide attention it received precipitated anger that transcended party lines–at least with the overwhelming majority created by Democrats, independent voters, and yes, even Republicans who draw a bright white line at political censorship of history. It's another case where this new majority has tried to impose a right-wing agenda item that's simply out of step in a moderate place like Jefferson County. And with so much bad blood between this new board majority and the community already, stripping the review committee proposal of Williams' incendiary language did little to assuage fears.

Voters can already see, and will find it easily if they haven't, that this is a partisan political battle unfolding. The ad above supplies important data points that connect what's happening on the streets of Jefferson County with Republicans on the ballots going out next week.

We'll say it again: as Jefferson County goes, so goes Colorado. There is a possibility, and it is growing, that Republicans well above the county level will pay a dear price for Julie Williams on Election Night.

Laura Woods’ anti-freedom stance on personhood turns off libertarian blogger

Laura Waters Woods

Laura Waters Woods

If you don't know about Ari Armstrong's "Defend Liberty Always" blog, you should take a look at it. In this post, Armstrong, who's a detail-oriented, deep-thinking libertarian, explains why he can't vote for state senate candidate Laura Woods.

I confess that I tried not to look too closely at the Republican candidate for my Colorado senate district (number 19), Laura Woods, because I was afraid of what I might find. After gleefully witnessing the fall of Evie Hudack following her reckless, Bloomberg-inspired campaign against peaceable gun owners (after which Democrats replaced her with Rachel Zenzinger, now the Democratic candidate), I really wanted the seat to turn Republican.

After the fiascos of ObamaCare (implications of which played out in the state legislature), the Democrats’ persecution of gun owners, the Democrats’ war on energy producers and consumers, and other matters, this would have been an excellent year for the GOP to punish the Democrats and win back some seats. But, Republicans being Republicans (aka “The Stupid Party”), Republicans in my district nominated a candidate I cannot possible vote for.

Thus, just a couple of weeks after announcing I planned to vote a straight-Republican ticket, I now have to make an exception and declare that I cannot and will not vote for Laura Woods. The basic problem is that Woods enthusiastically endorses total abortion bans, including the insane and horrific “personhood” measure on the ballot this year.

Armstrong writes frequently and thoughtfully about how personhood amendments would violate the basic freedoms a women should have in America. Woods went too far down the personhood path for Armstrong.

And if other self-identifying libertarian pundits in town, like the Independence Institute's Jon Caldara, are going to be consistent, they should agree with Armstrong.

Sentinel Sticks with G.O.Bs – Endorses Ray (“Next in Line!”) Scott for Latest Disgraced Mesa Pol’s Senate Seat

In the 'No Surprises' category the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel toed the Niobrara-West Grand Junction Chamber line and endorsed the odiously corrupt Good Old Boys' anointed representative for the good sheeple of Mesa County.

That would be esteemed state representative Ray "I don't pass legislation but I do take per diem" Scott.

The Sentinel seemed particularly impressed that Scott was able to use complete sentences and mention activity other than drilling the world.  

To our surprise, Scott is no longer advancing a singular “drill, baby, drill” solution to the region’s economic woes.

But Scott has the opportunity to be the senior member of Mesa County’s legislative delegation and we might finally see a payoff for his experience (admittedly over our objections) in the Legislature. He seems humbled by the last session and more attuned to the nuances of effective representation.

Among Rep. Scott's noted 'accomplishments'?  He sponsored a bill (that failed) and invited the Gov to another town outside Scott's district to talk shop.  

He was able to get Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper to meet for a Western Slope economic summit in Glenwood Springs. He also gathered bipartisan support for a bill to establish a task force to study the state’s K-12 testing system.

And although he is a 'fiscal conservative' he hopes to bring both more state and more federal taxpayer money to prop up the GOP-GOBs machine in the county and fuel public sector jobs: 

…establishing research facilities in conjunction with CMU to attract federal funding.

 

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.