When Koch Front Groups Collide

Americans For Prosperity, the big-spending conservative "grassroots" group already criticized this year for misleading campaign ads in Colorado, is out with a new TV spot this week attacking three Democratic Colorado Senators up for re-election. From the group's press release yesterday:

Colorado’s largest grassroots free market group, Americans for Prosperity-Colorado, today announced a major expansion of its efforts to hold politicians accountable for ObamaCare. That effort starts today, when the group will use cable television spots, a direct mail campaign and neighborhood walks to hold accountable three Jefferson County lawmakers: Sens. Andy Kerr, Cheri Jahn and Jeanne Nicholson for supporting ObamaCare in Colorado.

The cable spots, which will run July 7 through 28, call out “The Obamacare Three” for helping President Obama’s unpopular health law take hold in Colorado, through expansion of the federal Medicaid program and creation of a state health exchange that’s already fraught with problems. The ads encourage their constituents to call their senator and tell them to stop supporting the failed policy…

What's interesting about this ad is that it goes all the way back to Senate Bill 11-200–the bipartisan legislation that originally created the Connect For Health Colorado insurance marketplace. SB11-200, as our readers know well, became known as the "Amycare" bill after its principal Republican sponsor in the Colorado House, Rep. Amy Stephens. Other Republican sponsors of SB11-200 included Reps. Tom Massey and Ken Summers. On final passage in the Colorado House, Republican "yes" votes on Senate Bill 11-200 included then-House Speaker Frank McNulty, Larry Liston, Cheri Gerou, Carole Murray, Kevin Priola, Robert Ramirez, among others.

So there's that, and for a lot of viewers, omitting the major Republican role in passing SB11-200 is enough to flatten AFP's credibility–assuming, of course, they ever hear the rest of the story. But here's perhaps an even more interesting twist for political junkies: AFP receives a large portion of its funding from influential conservative donors Charles and David Koch, known together as the "Koch brothers." One of the biggest conservative-leaning proponents of Colorado's health insurance exchange legislation, a big reason why there was bipartisan support for the exchange to begin with, is the National Federation of Independent Business. NFIB supported the Colorado exchange because the exchanges were, at one time, anyway, considered a "free market" way of expanding access to health care:

NFIB supported the concept of exchanges long before Barak [sic--Pols] Obama was elected President. The exchange concept was not unique to the Patient Protection and Affordability Care Act.

Do you think NFIB should tell that to AFP? Especially since they've both taken millions of dollars from the Koch brothers?

In all likelihood, the Koch brothers couldn't care less if these two organizations they fund are working at cross purposes. But the NFIB's support for the very thing that AFP is attacking these Democrats for, with no mention of the many Republicans who helped pass it, underscores what an illegitimate pile of crap this whole attack from AFP is. This one group, Americans For Prosperity, has accounted for a disproportionate share of the "Obamascare" mendacity we've seen on the air this year in Colorado–and so far, blistering fact-checks from the media haven't fazed them.

For anyone who knows the facts that AFP twists, it's outrageous. But how many will find out before the election?

Woods: Become a fake Republican and vote in GOP primary!

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Laura Woods.

Laura Woods.

The day before the Republican primary, in which Republican Laura Woods triumphed over Lang Sias for the right to take on Democratic State Senator Rachel Zenzinger, Woods made the following comment on the KLZ’s Grassroots Radio Colorado:

WOODS: “…tomorrow, if you’re an unaffiliated voter, and you don’t want more of the same, go down to the polling place, change to a Republican for a day or two, fill out a ballot, and then after the primary, if you don’t want to stay a Republican, you don’t have to stay. You can unaffiliate again. But you can be a part of the change right now by electing somebody who is going to stand up for the Constitution.”

Listen to Woods suggest unaffiliated voters briefly switch parties to help her win GOP primary 6-23-14

There's nothing illegal about Woods' suggestion, but the folks down at KLZ, including host Kristina Cook, are all about "principles."

How principled is it to try to win a Republican primary with the votes of fake Republicans? It doesn't appear that Woods' suggestion made any difference in the election, but if I were running the show at Grassroots Radio Colorado, I would have asked Woods about her idea that unaffiliated voters should join the GOP for "a day or two."

Or maybe Jon Caldara will invite her on his KHOW show and compare notes. In any case, it's done now.

Democrats Continue to Outraise Republicans in State Senate Races

With the Primary Election behind us, focus can now turn fully to the key General Election matchups that will determine control of the State Legislature. According to a press release from the Democratic Senate Campaign Fund (DSCF), Democratic candidates in key State Senate races are significantly outperforming Republican counterparts in fundraising.

You can read the full press release after the jump, but take a look at the comparisons of some top races below:

SD 5
Kerry Donovan (D)
DEM COH: $45,840.31
Dem Total Raised: $59,473.00
Don Suppes (R)
R COH: $20,760.92
R Total Raised: $32620.63
Edward Mulcahy (Libertarian)
Lib COH: $1,430.95
Lib Total Raised: $1,475.00

SD 16
Jeanne Nicholson (D)
DEM COH: $62,653.88
Dem Total Raised: $103,445.10
Tim Neville (R)
R COH: $64,106.04
R Total Raised: $74,457.70

SD 19
Rachel Zenzinger (D)
DEM COH: $56,615.35
Dem Total Raised: $69,573.65
Laura Woods (R)
R COH: $2,596.67
R Total Raised: $45,644.00
Gregg Miller (Libertarian)
Lib COH: $0
Lib Total Raised: $0

SD 22
Andy Kerr (D)
DEM COH: $56,342.53
Dem Total Raised: $91,895.31
Tony Sanchez (R)
R COH: $15,122.16
R Total Raised: $39,651.52

 

These fundraising totals are certainly not all-encompassing in terms of the amount of money that will ultimately be spent by third party groups, but they nevertheless give a good indication of how successful candidates have been at appealing to supporters.

(more…)

Where does your state legislator stand on women’s issues?

 Women's Lobby of Colorado Legislative Scorecard.  See how your legislators are rated.

It's a ten page document, and posting pdfs is a pain, so you can look it up yourself. But you may find some surprises.

My SD3 candidate, and current HD46 rep, Leroy Garcia, has 100%.

My Senator, George Rivera, has 64%, which was higher than I thought he would have.

My current HD47 rep, Clarice Navarro-Ratzlaff, is rated 36%. I guess that's what happens when one's market brand is being "business friendly".

By the way, "women's issues" are not just reproductive rights issues – economy, healthcare, education, and opportunity are also women's issues. Sorry, Laura Carno, larger magazine size on full auto guns didn't make the list.

 

 

BREAKING: Judge Tosses Lawsuit Against Colorado Gun Laws


Gov. John Hickenlooper signs gun safety legislation, March 20, 2013.
Photo via AP's Ivan Moreno

UPDATE #3: From Gov. John Hickenlooper via AP/9NEWS:

The judge today offered a thorough and reasoned opinion and recognized that the state's new gun laws do not unduly burden anyone's Second Amendment rights. We appreciate the good work that the Attorney General's team did to represent the state and defend the law.

USA TODAY's Michael Winter recaps background our readers know well:

The state's Democratic-majority legislature passed the measures last year in reaction to the 2012 mass killings at a Denver-area movie theater and the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut. In a backlash by voters, two Democratic senators subsequently were recalled and a third resigned.

In her 50-page ruling, U.S. District Judge Marcia Krieger wrote "evidence shows that large-capacity magazines are frequently used in gun violence and mass shootings, and that often a shooter will shoot continuously until a weapon jams or the shooter runs out of ammunition."

"Most experts agree that the size of a magazine correlates to the number of rounds that are fired in both an offensive and defensive capacity," she added.

But the plaintiffs — gun owners, advocates, manufacturers and sheriffs — had presented no evidence that someone's ability "to defend him or herself is seriously diminished if magazines are limited," Krieger declared. [Pols emphasis]

—–

UPDATE #2: Read Chief Judge Marcia Krieger's decision in its entirety here.

(more…)

Dudley Brown’s Temporary Triumph: RMGO’s Last Hurrah?

Dudley Brown of RMGO.

Dudley Brown of RMGO.

AP's Ivan Moreno reports this morning in the wake of huge legislative GOP primary victories for the Rocky Mountain Gun Owners in bellwether Jefferson County, over comparatively moderate Republican challengers–victories that have nonetheless worsened Republican odds of retaking the Colorado Senate this November:

In Senate District 22, which covers Lakewood, Tony Sanchez defeated Mario Nicolais, a party attorney who helped draw maps during state redistricting in 2011.

In Senate District 19, which includes Arvada, Laura Woods defeated Lang Sias, a veteran of both Gulf Wars. Woods was involved in two recall petition efforts against former District 19 Sen. Evie Hudak.

Both districts are considered toss-ups, and political analysts saw the defeated Nicolais and Sias as more established candidates who could have attracted independent voters in November. Nicolais advocated passage of civil unions for gay couples last year, and Sias narrowly lost to Hudak in 2012.

FOX 31's Eli Stokols lays it out more plainly:

Senate Democrats might also be excited about Tuesday’s result, in large part because they believe both Sanchez and Woods are too conservative for the districts they are seeking to represent. If Democrats are able to defeat both candidates, it will go a long way in helping them hold onto their one-seat majority this November.

Some Republican analysts feel the same way.

“These are very competitive districts in a very competitive county,” former Colorado GOP chairman Dick Wadhams said. “And if the wrong candidates win these primaries, they cannot win these competitive districts. Lang Sias can win. Mario Nicolais can win. Their opponents (Woods and Sanchez) cannot.” [Pols emphasis]

With victories in these two key battleground primaries now in hand, Dudley Brown's Rocky Mountain Gun Owners now moves to the next stage–as Brown put it, "hunting Democrats" in the general elections. But that is quite likely to prove a bridge too far for RMGO, who has had great success getting their favored candidates elected largely by winning GOP primaries in safe Republican seats. In a general election in a competitive district, what operates in RMGO's favor in a safe-seat primary becomes a liability. Both RMGO endorsed candidates who won last night in Jefferson County, Laura Waters Woods and Tony Sanchez, and distantly out of the mainstream of a wide variety of issues that have nothing to do with guns.

While no one should write off these races by any stretch of the imagination in what remains a challenging year, Democrats were cut a tremendous break last night when the more electable Republicans lost these two primaries. RMGO, whose energies Republicans have been glad to channel when it suits their purposes, may be about to discover the hard limit of their power.

In a way that's going to leave a mark.

Dudley Brown Slimes Up SD-19 GOP Primary Real Good

Lang Sias, Tea Party endorsed no longer.

Lang Sias, “Tea Party endorsed” no longer.

FOX 31's Eli Stokols reports on another nasty turn the Senate District 19 Republican primary between establishment pick Lang Sias and Rocky Mountain Gun Owners endorsed Laura Waters Woods, to a common tactic employed the nefarious Dudley Brown.

Send in the gays!

In its final get out the vote effort ahead of Tuesday’s Republican primaries, Rocky Mountain Gun Owners and other conservative activists backing Laura Woods in state senate district 19 are calling voters to warn them that Woods’ opponent, Lang Sias, is receiving help from a “liberal millionaire homosexual.”

The attack line has been going around for a few weeks, first as part of a direct mail piece from a group called the National Family Coalition (registered to an RMGO ally based in Virginia) that depicted Sias as a monkey alongside text stating that his campaign “is funded by millionaire homosexual activist Tim Gill through Colorado Concern.”

Gill, the software executive whose personal resources helped turn Colorado from red to blue and who’s led the push for LGBT equality through his Gill Foundation, is a board member of Colorado Concern, an organization of more than 100 area CEOs.

While Sias has not received personal financial contributions from Gill, it’s true that Colorado Concern has spent around $50,000 through an independent expenditure committee to help Sias stave off the primary challenge from Woods, believing that the race is critical to Republicans’ chances of winning a senate majority in November.

Laura Woods.

Laura Woods.

​The idea that Tim Gill, one of the architects of the Democratic takeover of this state a decade ago, would want to help out a Republican candidate in a tight election year is highly improbable to stay the least. That said, board memberships are what they are. Semantically, this is something Lang Sais' opponents can formulate into a complete sentence that's technically accurate under a certain strained interpretation. This isn't the first time that RMGO or one of Dudley Brown's related family of "pro-gun" organizations has gone after fellow Republicans by tying them to the dreaded gays in a primary, as ex-Sen. Jean White can tell you.

If you find this attack repugnant or meaningless, that's because it's not aimed at you. It's aimed at voters who don't like gay people. Now, there may be a plausible correlation one can make between voters who don't like gay people and Republican primary voters, and that might be honestly frustrating to Republican strategists, who seem convinced that the third time's a charm in 2014 for two-time election loser Lang Sias.

But whether we're talking about Dudley Brown, or bigotry against gays in the Republican rank and file, there is only so much sympathy the Republican establishment can be afforded. These one-time assets have too recently swung full circle to bite them. And all other considerations aside, the only reason SD-19 is up for election this year at all is the recall attempt against Evie Hudak mounted by Laura Woods and the RMGO.

So, as they say, dance with the one who brought you.

RMGO Busy Getting Favored Candidates Nominated

woodsrmgo

A last-minute plea from Rocky Mountain Gun Owners executive director Dudley Brown today touts endorsements for Senate District 19 Republican Senate candidate Laura Woods, as the clock winds down to next Tuesday's GOP primary elections:

For the past several weeks, you've received many e-mails from me urging you to vote for conservative Republican Laura Woods in the June 24th Primary Election for Senate District 19.

However, I don't just want you to take my word for it, but also consider the other conservative champions who are supporting Laura, including:

Top-rated conservative State Representative Justin Everett,
Weld County Sheriff and gun rights lawsuit leader John Cooke,
Former U.S. Senator Bill Armstrong, 
State Senator Ted Harvey, and
Former State Senator Dave Schultheis.

Now, these individuals know exactly what it takes to fight for your Constitutional rights.

Take it from these proven conservative leaders, and vote for Republican Laura Woods in the June 24th Primary Election.

With a tag team of Bill Armstrong and Dave Schultheis in her corner, how can anybody stand in Laura Waters Woods' way? And since this is an RMGO email, there is of course a healthy portion of recycled scumbagging for Woods' opponent, two-time loser Lang Sias:

You may have even heard Laura on morning talk radio shows like Peter Boyles, as a key spokesperson for the recall effort.

If you did hear her, then you know just how passionate and committed she is about protecting our rights. 

Unfortunately, Lang Sias, a handpicked liberal, establishment Republican, has chosen to run a primary against Laura. 

If you’ve read our emails before, you know by now that Lang Sias has already attempted to run for office TWICE in the last two election cycles and LOST – even to Evie Hudak!

Tony Sanchez.

Tony Sanchez.

RMGO is working every bit as hard to ensure their endorsed Republican candidate in Senate District 22, Tony Sanchez, beats Republican attorney Mario Nicolais. What we've heard is that in both of these races, and others where RMGO has made a primary endorsement, a robust field campaign with no shortage of volunteers is busily underway–making it quite likely that Colorado's "no compromise" gun rights organization is going to have a very good night on Tuesday.

Electability in November, of course, is another matter, but until next Wednesday morning, you won't find any Democrats raining on RMGO's parade.

Bible and Constitution would guide Woods in State Senate

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Laura Woods.

Laura Woods.

A candidate's religious or godless beliefs are too often ignored by the dwindling press, so we should be grateful to the radio hosts on KLZ AM-560 for giving candidates the chance to talk openly about how religion guides their lives and decisions.

I mean, it's a public service to know that State Senate candidate Laura Woods, who's running for the seat currently occupied by Democrat Rachel Zenzinger, will look narrowly to the Constitution and the Bible to guide her if she's elected. And that God directs Woods in a "real sense."

Conservative talk radio is apparently seen by candidates as a safe and comfortable place to talk openly about God, and it's a public service for us to hear the religious discussions that bless the airwaves there.

I previously reported on gubernatorial candidate Tom Tancredo's belief, as stated on talk radio, that God has a plan for him. Woods offered her thoughts on the topic on two recent shows.

(more…)

War Between RMGO, GOP Establishment Goes On In SD-19

UPDATE #2: Apropos, Eli Stokols goes in-depth on the SD-19 primary for 5280.com today:

"I just couldn't do it," Sias says. "For me to [run for state senate], I'll be beholden to the Constitution and to the people of the district, not an outside power broker. At the end of the day, I'd rather lose than be in that guy's pocket."

That guy, of course, is Dudley Brown, RMGO's executive director, who is notorious in Colorado Republican circles for his scorched-earth tactics against GOP candidates who don't fill out his survey, which asks candidates to declare their absolute support for gun rights and their commitment to fighting against or to repeal gun control efforts.

The survey itself comes with an intimidating cover sheet informing the candidate, "we expect legislators to live up to their word" and threatening the familiar brand of retribution should they fail to fill it out: "Failure to respond will mean we have to tell citizens that you do not care enough about their gun rights to fill out the survey, and can't be counted on to defend those rights."

Sias’ decision may be the one that determines whether he is ultimately successful in his upcoming primary against the RMGO-backed Laura Woods… [Pols emphasis]

—–

UPDATE: This graphic that appears on the Colorado Campaign for Life website appears to be the Facebook post in question that was "shared" by Laura Waters Woods:

siasabortion

—–

Lang Sias, Tea Party endorsed no longer.

Lang Sias, “Tea Party endorsed” no longer.

A press release late Tuesday from Republican SD-19 primary candidate Lang Sias sums up the acrimonious state of one of the GOP's most important state legislative races this year, as establishment kingmakers square off against the powerful Rocky Mountain Gun Owners:

The Sias for Colorado Senate Campaign calls on Laura Woods to immediately retract her statement comparing Lang Sias to one of America's most notorious mass murderers. In a stunning and completely unfair post on social media, Laura Woods featured Lang Sias next to a picture of Kermit Gosnell. Kermit Gosnell viciously murdered children born alive and was found guilty of first degree murder and involuntary manslaughter.

Former Senate President John Andrews decries Woods' act, stating: "Laura Woods has to stop making things up. She claimed me as a supporter when I'm not. I'm neutral. Much worse, she linked Lang Sias with a mass murderer for failing to complete a survey. I know Lang to be pro-life. This is unworthy of a would-be senator, the smear of the year."

Lang Sias is committed to the pro-life position, including no partial birth abortion or late stage abortion, no taxpayer funding of abortion, and religious freedom for employers related to abortion…

Laura Woods.

Laura Woods.

​Any time a GOP primary invokes the name of the reviled abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell, you know somebody means business. There is likely no primary campaign going on in Colorado today featuring nastier rhetoric than in the GOP SD-19 race–the seat formerly held by Evie Hudak, now held by a very capable Democrat Rachel Zenzinger. The district's close past election results, combined with a perceived opportunity created by Hudak's resignation last year to avoid a possible recall, makes this race an absolute must-win for Republicans hoping to recapture the Colorado Senate this year.

RMGO, the powerful "no compromise" pro-gun group which played heavily in the recall petition drive against Hudak, is battling hard for their endorsed candidate Laura Waters Woods, who won the Assembly vote to appear as the top-line candidate. Here's the latest missive from RMGO political director Joe Neville:

"Republican" Senate District 19 candidate Lang Sias has a long list of sins that show why he can't be trusted.

As recently as 2006, Lang Sias was registered as a Democrat who switched his registration only TWO YEARS before he ran for Congress as a Republican.

Furthermore, Lang Sias even financially supported anti-gun Democrat Mark Udall!

Now, when we were gathering signatures for the Hudak Recall, we knew it would be an extremely tough job to pull off, as we needed over 18,000 signatures in 60 days!

…It would be a HUGE slap in the face to the nearly 1,000 individual Recall Hudak volunteers, as well as the nearly 25,000 people who signed the recall petition, if Lang Sias won the June 24th Republican Primary Election in Senate District 19. [Pols emphasis]

Bottom line: whatever momentum Republicans may feel exists in this district after last year's turmoil, Lang Sias is still the guy who lost in 2012 to Evie Hudak. Sen. Zenzinger has done an excellent job establishing herself in a short time, and there is no reason to think she would underperform Hudak in the general election–in fact, she puts Democrats in about their best possible position to hold the seat. Add to that the likelihood that the present anti-establishment sentiment among the Republican grassroots today operates in Woods' favor, and it's easy to see why backers of Sias are very worried that he's about to lose his third election.

Mario Nicolais Gets Two Ads For The Price of One

An interesting twist on the usual primary wrangling–check out the mailer below, sent by a GOP message group in support of Democratic HD-24 primary candidate Kristian Teegardin to Democratic primary voters:

teegardinmario

This mailing raises eyebrows for a couple of reasons. There's the obvious question about a Republican aligned and operated group getting involved in a Democratic primary. In this case, we think that can be adequately explained by Teegardin's Democratic opponent, Jessie Danielson, who worked for the progressive America Votes organization and is a natural enemy of the Scott Gessler vote suppression "integrity" set. One such friend and political ally of Gessler is the registered agent of the group in question, GOP attorney Mario Nicolais.

As one of the principal election law attorneys for local Republicans, Nicolais' name appears as the registered agent for lots of Republican-aligned political groups–for example, the organization that attacked Republican county clerks over election reform legislation using photos of voters with African-American faces Photoshopped out. In this case, though, there's an added bonus: Nicolais is a Republican candidate for the Colorado Senate in SD-22. SD-22 and HD-24, the House district Teegardin is running in, overlap for much of the town of Edgewater west of Sheridan Boulevard! It's not a huge overlap, but it's the first instance we've ever seen of a mailer sent to voters in one district with the name of another candidate for the same voters as the registered agent.

Building name ID among Democrats wouldn't help Nicolais in his heated primary against Rocky Mountain Gun Owners-endorsed Tony Sanchez, of course, in fact we could easily see meddling in a Democratic primary being used against Nicolais with SD-22 primary voters. We'd say that any one of the pieces of this story by itself isn't terribly remarkable, but the combination of these storylines makes, at the very least, for some interesting trivia.

For HD-24 Democrats and SD-22 Republicans especially.

Still No News On Local Control Special Session Deal

Photo courtesy Rep. Jared Polis

Photo courtesy Rep. Jared Polis

The Colorado Independent's John Tomasic reports on what's known, as of today, about the state of negotiations over local control legislation to forestall oil and gas local regulation measures being readied for this November's statewide ballot. The latest news is…no news:

Draft legislation shopped around this weekend that seeks to clarify powers held by state, county and city authorities in Colorado to regulate oil-and-gas drilling has not won full support by the main negotiating parties, and so a special legislative session tentatively scheduled to begin today in Denver has been postponed.

Officials have said for some time that they hoped to make a deal in June. Governor John Hickenlooper weeks ago asked lawmakers to clear their schedules for the beginning of this week. That Friday’s proposal failed to gain the support it needed to launch the session today seems like a significant setback. Although the governor can call a special session any time, sources have said they want to ink a deal before election-year momentum builds and campaign politics steal progress already made and narrow wiggle room in which to find future compromise.

The draft bill sparked frenzied speculation over the weekend that parties had drawn close to a deal after weeks of stops and starts and that the plan for a special session beginning today was on track.

News this morning that the proposal has so far failed to launch the session will please grassroots groups that have led the movement in the state over the past five years to push back against boom-time natural-gas drilling activity. The groups received the six-page proposal this weekend with frustration and anger.

Rep. Jared Polis, so far the leading backer of any serious effort to pass a local control ballot measure, is reportedly willing to pull his support for the initiatives, if the draft legislation unveiled Friday sees no weakening during legislative debate. Grassroots supporters of greater local control, who aren't happy with the draft legislation, need the support of Polis and/or other well-heeled players to have any realistic shot at winning a statewide ballot fight against what would doubtless be fierce industry opposition. But the reason a special session of the legislature did not convene today is the closely divided body, particularly the Colorado Senate where pro-industry Democrats throw a one-seat majority into doubt, may not be in a position to pass anything.

The question is, would that really be so bad?

It's critical to remember as these negotiations drag on that there is a great deal of public support, as evidenced by the local "fracking" bans and moratoria that have passed in several Front Range residential cities, for strengthening local control over oil and gas drilling. Arguments that a statewide local control ballot measure could hurt Democrats politically are poorly founded and of dubious origin. If the industry and its political allies get cocky, for which the early shrill attacks on Polis betray at least a desire, there's no reason to further try to appease them.

A legislative compromise is the industry's chance to prevent both tighter regulation and humiliation in a statewide vote–and the risk of consequences at the ballot box in November hinges on the industry's willingness to show good faith today. The compromise that Polis says he would accept even as many grassroots activists complain about its weakness is, under the assumption the local control measures can pass in November, as good a deal as the industry is going to get.

If they don't understand that, we say let them learn the hard way.

“Lose By Winning”–The Colorado GOP’s Long-Term Dilemma

The Republican base (increasingly to scale).

The Republican base (increasingly to scale).

A great analytical piece from Politico's Todd Purdum this weekend makes points that observers of Colorado politics should keep in mind, and have been borne out by Colorado's recent political history as we'll explain:

It’s the predominant paradox of contemporary American politics: If Republicans prevail in this year’s midterm congressional elections, it will be because of their party’s sharp-edged stances on topics like abortion and Benghazi, Obamacare and immigration, gay marriage and the minimum wage — issues that energize the GOP’s core base of support.

But if Republicans lose the race for the White House in 2016, it will be because of their party’s polarizing, out-of-step stances on those very same issues, which alienate much of the broader electorate the GOP needs to win a national contest in a country whose demographics and political realities are shifting under its feet…

“The Republican Party has essentially now two wings: a congressional wing and the national wing,” the veteran GOP pollster Bill McInturff said at a recent Pew Research Center forum on so-called millennial voters, those from 18 to 29 years of age. The congressional wing is thriving, especially in the South, in districts that are 75 percent, or even 80 percent, white, and where every incumbent’s worst fear is a challenge from the right.

…On questions like climate change and gay marriage, pollster McInturff said, younger voters no longer believe there is anything to argue about. He summed up their views as: “‘We wouldn’t fight about that. That’s just presumed to be true.’” [Pols emphasis]

Thomas Mann, the veteran political scientist and Congress-watcher at the Brookings Institution, said that, at the moment, the Republicans are “simply not a presidential party.”

In Colorado, the 2010 "GOP wave" election is generally reckoned to have been a "modest" defeat for the Republican Party. Democrats easily won a gubernatorial race in which the Republican frontrunner self-destructed, and won a narrow victory in a top-tier U.S. Senate race against a candidate whose backward views on social issues rendered him unpalatable to independent and women voters. The state didn't completely escape the effects of historic Republican victories across the nation in 2010, with the GOP picking up two congressional seats, winning the statewide races for Attorney General, Treasurer, and Secretary of State, and the Colorado House flipping to the GOP by a single extremely narrow win in the northwest Denver suburbs. But the overall result was well short of what Republicans had expected the summer before.

In 2012, Democrats in Colorado ran the table on Election Night, sweeping GOP House Speaker Frank McNulty from power in the state House and delivering the state to Barack Obama by a comfortable margin. Going into the 2014 midterms, we see the same pressure on Colorado Democrats to turn out their base voters and swing independents that was evident in the midterm elections of 2010. The question is, can Colorado Democrats minimize the impact of this midterm "wave" as they did in the last midterm election?

The answer is very logically yes, and as the story above explains, it's because the overarching demographics driving this whole midterm/presidential year dichotomy inexorably favor Democrats. One of the biggest reasons the Republican Party has lurched so far to the right since the election of Barack Obama is that, as this changing American electorate begins to decide elections, the biggest constituency Republicans have left to appeal to is the out-of-the-mainstream fringe right wing. Republicans were fully willing to embrace the "Tea Party" to win in 2010. There was a powerful short-term advantage in appealing to this segment of the electorate, in that they are extremely reliable and passionate voters. There is a tremendous enthusiasm gap between such voters, who vote in greater numbers in every kind of election, and the much larger body of voters who turn out once every four years. We're certainly not the only ones who have said this, but we've been saying it for years: 2010 wasn't about who voted, it was about who didn't vote.

And we could say the same thing about John Morse's recall. Or the Jefferson County school board.

The markedly different electorates who decide midterm and off-year vs. presidential elections can result in head-snapping results from one election to the next. Just as one example, the Jefferson County voters who turned out to re-elect Barack Obama in 2012 would never have voted in the radical conservative school board majority now causing street protests the following year. If this seems like an obvious point to you, that's great, but most voters simply don't understand these differences–and as a result, fringe minority electorates are assumed to be representative.

In 2010, Colorado Democrats used exactly what appeals to these ardent conservative voters against Republicans with the broader presidential-year electorate–and by effectively driving home the message of GOP extremism, incompetence, and moral turpitude, they turned out just enough of the 2008 electorate to break the "GOP wave." Colorado Democrats have the same challenge in 2014, but they also have the same opportunity: a rich body of material to use against Republican candidates at every level, from Cory Gardner to Victor Head.

And each year, as the changing electorate chips away at the GOP's narrowing coalition, it gets easier.

Lang Sias Wishes He Was “Tea Party Endorsed” Again

Trying hard to stay ahead of his Rocky Mountain Gun Owners-endorsed opponent, GOP SD-19 candidate Lang Sias is busily knocking doors of Republican households in the district, burnishing his "Tea Party" credentials. Here's a campaign flyer being distributed by his campaign:

siasflyer

IMG_20140516_091156_400

There is much other evidence of spending on this primary, like fluff billboards going up in various parts of SD-19 (right). Clearly there's much nervousness in the Sias campaign, and in turn among Republican strategists hoping to take the Colorado Senate this November.

It's important to note that Sias' relationship with the kind of hard-right voters who often decide Republican primaries in Colorado has been rocky to say the least: back in 2012, Sias was lampooned on national news for recycling photos from his 2010 campaign–with his previous tagline "Tea Party endorsed" Photoshopped out of the picture (photo top). This year, RMGO has Sias squarely in their (hopefully) proverbial sights, bitterly denouncing his lack of commitment to the gun rights cause:

Lang Sias, a handpicked liberal establishment Republican, has chosen to run a primary against Laura.

If you've heard his name before, it may be because Sias has already attempted and failed to run for office twice in the last two election cycles.

In fact, every time he's ran for office, he's refused to fill out RMGO's candidate survey, which is almost always a sure tell sign that if elected, he would vote anti-gun.

But wait, it gets worse.

Not only did Sias refuse to answer RMGO's survey in the past, he also refused multiple times to sign the petition to recall Hudak — HE FLAT OUT REFUSED TO SIGN IT! [Pols emphasis]

On the other side, pseudo-grassroots GOP elements like Bob Beauprez's 2013 recall operative Laura Carno have endorsed Sias. Frankly, there's no overstating the power of RMGO in the one environment they have consistently proven effective time and time again: a Republican primary. Before Sias gets his mulligan shot at SD-19 in 2014 against Sen. Rachel Zenzinger, he has to get past Laura "Waters" Woods–and RMGO's Dudley Brown has a long record of frustrating the GOP establishment's best-laid plans.

Sen. Michael Johnston Stirs Controversy At Harvard

UPDATE: Sen. Michael Johnston responds magnanimously via Facebook:

I was honored to be invited as the convocation speaker at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, and I am even more excited to keep that commitment. In this moment, perhaps more than ever before, American education needs to foster open dialogue between people who share values but differ on strategies, and my speech will focus on our efforts to find that common ground. I have always found I learn the most from those who disagree with me, and because learning is more about listening than talking, I have also asked Harvard to setup an additional space and time for open dialogue so that I can hear from and learn from students on all sides of the issues. That spirited back and forth was what I loved about Harvard, and is one more reason that I am eager to return.

—–

Sen. Michael Johnston (D).

Sen. Michael Johnston (D).

Bloomberg's Dan Hart reports via the Denver Post:

Students, faculty and alumni of Harvard's Graduate School of Education are protesting the school's choice of a Colorado lawmaker as commencement speaker because of his stance on education reform that relies on so-called test-based accountability.

State Sen. Michael Johnston, a Democrat representing northeast Denver, was chosen last month by Dean James Ryan to speak. The school is being asked to rescind Johnston's invitation and to create a more transparent and inclusive process for choosing future commencement speakers…

The Washington Post explains what has students and alumni at the Harvard Graduate School of Education so upset with Sen. Michael Johnston:

Johnston, a former Teach For America corps member in Mississippi and a high school principal in Colorado, received a masters degree in education at the graduate school and was a co-founder of the reform organization New Leaders for New Schools.  He became an informal education adviser to then-Sen. Barack Obama during the 2008 election campaign.

As a state senator in Colorado, Johnston has pushed legislation to promote corporate school reform and was behind a 2010 law mandating that 50 percent of a teacher’s evaluation come from student standardized test scores (through a method known as the value-added method] that has been sharply criticized by assessment experts…

From the statement signed by students and alumni opposing Sen. Johnston:

(more…)