Get More Smarter on Thursday (June 23)

Get More SmarterYour weather forecast for Thursday is as follows: Partly Sunny, Party Cloudy, Mostly Hot, Potentially Rainy. 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). If you are more of a visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show.

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

Get those ballots returned, people! If you haven’t received a ballot or have run into other Primary-related problems, go to JustVoteColorado.org for more information.

 

House Democrats have ended their “sit-in” protest at the refusal of the Republican-controlled chamber to even consider voting on new gun safety measures. As Chris Cillizza reports for “The Fix”:

House Democrats staged one of the most dramatic moments in recent congressional history Wednesday night and into Thursday morning, holding a sit-in on the floor of the lower chamber to demand that votes be held on a series of gun-control measures.

It drew wall-to-wall coverage on cable television and lit up Twitter even as much of the East Coast went to bed. A number of those talking and writing about the sit-in insisted that the high-profile moment marked a major turning point in the political fight over gun control.

“This may turn out to be a Selma-like moment,” said Rep. Sander Levin (D-Mich.) on the House floor just before midnight Eastern time.

Colorado Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-Jefferson County) participated in the sit-in, and Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Denver) stopped by to lend support.

 

President Obama’simmigration-reform plan hit a major speed bump today when the Supreme Court stalled out on making a decision on a lower court ruling. Meanwhile, Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Aurora) is a co-sponsor of a new immigration bill; the legislation would allow immigrant children who have been in the U.S. since 2010 to stay in the country. Coincidentally, 2010 was the last year in which Coffman voted against the DREAM Act, just one stop on a long journey in which Coffman has basically taken every side available on immigration reform efforts.

 

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Get More Smarter on Wednesday (June 22)

MoreSmarterLogo-SunscreenGood news: it’s still hot outside, but for today, at least, we should be able to stay below 100°F. 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). If you are more of a visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show.

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► One week from today, the Colorado Primary Election will be complete. If you haven’t yet received a mail ballot, you should check your registration or address status ASAP. Go to JustVoteColorado.org for more information.

If you haven’t yet voted, you might want to get moving — turnout numbers are still pretty weak thus far.

 

► Florida Sen. Marco Rubio has reversed course and will seek re-election for the U.S. Senate after months of “unequivocal” statements that he would be a “private citizen” in November. Rubio is not a big fan of the Senate — he barely bothers to show up to vote — but since his Presidential aspirations didn’t work out this year, he doesn’t have anything else to do until his next bid for the White House in 2020. National Republicans aren’t opposed to the idea, since an incumbent Rubio gives them a better chance to keep that Senate seat in Florida.

 

► The Aurora School Board member and State House candidate whose resume appears to be almost entirely fictional remains defiant despite calls from the Aurora School Board asking him to resignEric Nelson is doubling tripling quadrupling down on the validity of his personal biography — which has largely been disproved by the Colorado Statesman and Denver7.

 

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No Surprises in Final Senate Fundraising Report Before Primary

Ernest Luning of the Colorado Statesman reports on the final pre-Primary fundraising totals for the five Republicans running for U.S. Senate. If you’ve been watching this race at all for the last couple of months, you probably won’t be shocked to see the fundraising updates:

U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet raised $1.65 million — more than 10 times as much as any of the Republicans hoping to unseat him — in the most recent reporting period, pre-primary finance reports show, although GOP candidate Jack Graham wrote his campaign a check for $500,000, bringing his self-funding total to $1.5 million.

With $5.7 million in the bank, the Democrat had more than six times the cash on hand of the nearest Republican. Reports covered the second fundraising quarter up until the June 8 reporting deadline ahead of Colorado’s primary.

Via Ernest Luning of the Colorado Statesman

Via Ernest Luning of the Colorado Statesman

As you can see from the graphic at right, none of the Republican candidates are remotely close to collecting the kind of cash that incumbent Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Denver) has continued to put together.

If we focus only on the Republican candidates, pre-Primary fundraising numbers are following the same general trend that we’ve seen throughout 2016. The only exception was foreseeable: Darryl Glenn is finally raising some decent money ($109k) in the first fundraising period since he captured top-line at the State Republican Convention in April.

A few other noteworthy items…Former Colorado State University Athletic Director Jack Graham loaned his campaign another $500k, and Jon Keyser inexplicably contributed another $50,000 to his own campaign. Keyser’s contribution seems particularly pointless; he needed a lot more money than this to catch his Republican rivals with any sort of significant advertising buy.

Here are the cash-on-hand totals for the five Republicans with one week to go in the Primary:

Jack Graham:  $882,800
Robert Blaha:  $278,177
Jon Keyser:    $173,484
Darryl Glenn:  $50,198
Ryan Frazier:  $19,850

 

Poll: Who Will Win The GOP SD-12 Primary?

With the June 28th primary election now just a week away, we’re rolling out informal polls for our readers in a number of key races around the state. Colorado Senate District 12, presently held by outgoing Senate President Bill Cadman, features a competitive Republican primary between longtime former Rep. Bob Gardner and incumbent Rep. Gordon “Dr. Chaps” Klingenschmitt of HD-15.

As with all of our polls, we’re interested in knowing who you actually think will win this election–not your personal preference.

Who will win the GOP SD-12 primary?
Bob Gardner
Gordon Klingenschmitt
View Result

 

Primary Turnout At 15%

votebuttonHere are the latest turnout numbers from the Colorado Secretary of State’s office for the June 28th Primary (numbers are accurate as of 7:55 a.m. on Tuesday):

Democrats

Ballots sent: 986,252;
Ballots returned: 145,572;
Percent: 14.76%

Republicans

Ballots sent: 994,450;
Ballots returned: 151,650;
Percent: 15.24%

How does this compare to 2014? In the June 24, 2014 U.S. Senate Primary, there were 213,746 Democratic ballots cast, compared to 338,324 for Republicans.

For more information on turnout based on a county-by-county basis, click here (PDF). For comparison’s sake, here’s how the numbers looked on Monday.

Get More Smarter on Monday (June 20)

MoreSmarterLogo-SunscreenTry not to get too crazy celebrating the summer solstice. 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). If you are more of a visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show.

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► Counting today, the Primary Election is just eight days away. If you haven’t yet received a mail ballot, you should check your registration or address status ASAP. Go to JustVoteColorado.org for more information.

The Colorado Secretary of State’s office has released updated Primary turnout numbers; both Democrats and Republicans are voting/returning ballots at a similar rate of about 12%.

 

► Former Republican Presidential candidate Ted Cruz is back on the campaign trail, making national news for a stop in Denver today to endorse Darryl Glenn in Colorado’s five-candidate race in the Republican Primary for U.S. Senate. As CNN reports, Cruz took a noncommittal tone toward GOP Presidential nominee Donald Trump:

Ted Cruz returned to the campaign trail for the first time since suspending his presidential campaign to stump for senate hopeful Darryl Glenn in Denver — but at least one fan of the Texas senator isn’t ready to let his 2016 bid go.

As the former candidate acknowledged the “unusual” presidential race, the audience laughed, as a man shouted, “Run, Ted.”

“We may all need to run,” Cruz joked, who kicked off his remarks in his trademark way, saying, “God bless the great state of Colorado.”

Without mentioning presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, the Texas senator stressed the importance of checks and balances, “regardless of what happens in November.”

Cruz and Glenn were together at a press event this morning in front of about 100 supporters at the Westin Hotel near Denver International Airport. ProgressNow Colorado points out some of the similarities between Cruz and Glenn.

 

► The Supreme Court has ruled that statewide assault weapons bans are permissible. As the Associated Press reports:

The justices on Monday left in place a lower court ruling that upheld laws that were passed in response to another mass shooting involving a semi-automatic weapon, the elementary school attack in Newtown, Connecticut.

The Supreme Court has repeatedly turned away challenges to gun restrictions since two landmark decisions that spelled out the right to a handgun to defend one’s own home…

…Seven states and the District of Columbia have enacted laws banning assault weapons. The others are California, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts and New Jersey, according to the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence. In addition, Minnesota and Virginia regulate assault weapons, the center said.

Still, nobody is coming to take your guns, no matter what the NRA says.

 

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State Senate GOP: Colorado Pols Has “No Credibility”

We posted a few examples yesterday of social media responses from Colorado Republican state senators, as well as the official account of the Colorado Senate Republican press office, both blaming President Barack Obama for last weekend’s terrorist attack on a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, as well as at least one post disparaging LGBT Americans themselves in the hours after the attack. The latter was posted by Sen. Randy Baumgardner:

Baumgardner facebook

Baumgardner’s Democratic opponent in Senate District 8 this year, Emily Tracy, reacted angrily to our blog about Baumgardner’s anti-gay post-Orlando Facebooking:

To which the Senate GOP responded with an attack…on us?

So folks, we can take the heat. But can we ask in all seriousness how our writing about Baumgardner’s social media content “distorts, deceives, or demeans” anyone? If anything, we would say those terms all apply to…well, to Baumgardner’s Facebook post, wouldn’t they? Not to our calling attention to it. Right?

We get that this response from the official Colorado Senate GOP mouthpiece is more of a knee-jerk insult than a thoughtful comeback. But given the very clearly “demeaning” material we called out in our post yesterday, to which we have yet to see any substantive response, this all seems like especially nonsensical bile.

And it surer than hell doesn’t make the one-seat Senate GOP majority look good.

Get More Smarter on Friday (June 17)

MoreSmarterLogo-SunscreenIt’s possible that Colorado could see two straight 100-degree days this weekend as campaigns scramble to finish their door knocking before Primary Day. 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). If you are more of a visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show.

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► Remember, friends: If you haven’t yet received a mail ballot, you should check your registration or address status ASAP. Go to JustVoteColorado.org for more information.

 

Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump may be a bit of a consensus-builder after all…though not in the manner he would prefer. As Politico reports:

In 2016’s race to the bottom, Donald Trump is going to find out if you can become president when two-thirds of Americans don’t like you — and a majority can’t stand you…

…Trump is setting modern records for political toxicity — at least for a major-party candidate this far out from an election. Seventy percent of Americans surveyed in an ABC News/Washington Post poll out this week had an unfavorable opinion of Trump, up 10 points over the past month. The poll showed Trump’s favorable rating cratering at 29 percent, down from 37 percent last month…

…Trump’s unpopularity is without historical peer in the modern era of presidential campaigns. Mitt Romney averaged a 46-percent unfavorable rating in mid-June 2012, according to the HuffPost Pollster database. John McCain’s unfavorable rating four years prior was only 40 percent, and more voters had a positive opinion of the Arizona senator than a negative one. In June 2004, then-Sen. John Kerry had a 58-percent favorable rating, according to Gallup, with only 35 percent viewing him unfavorably.

On the bright side, to whatever extent there is a sliver of light here, Trump isn’t quite as disliked as Congress in general.

 

► It didn’t take long for Colorado Republicans to un-bite their tongues in reaction to last weekend’s shootings in Orlando.

 

► If “con artist” were an honorable title, we’d probably say that Aurora School Board member Eric Nelson is producing a masterpiece.

 

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Colorado Senate Republicans Get Ugly on Orlando

With a few days having passed since last weekend’s horrific domestic terror attack on a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, here’s a roundup of some of the more distasteful reactions we’ve seen from Colorado Republican state senators and staff on social media. Hopefully we’re not too close to the event now for this to make you as angry as it might have a few days ago.

Sen. Randy Baumgardner of Hot Sulphur Springs, who has benefited in his career more than once from rank anti-gay smear campaigns, posted this item only hours after the killings:

Baumgardner facebook

Later in the day, Sen. Baumgardner took to Twitter to declare his outrage at ISIS terrorists and the American leftists who would “use” the attack to move forward a gun control agenda:

Baumgardner twitter

As we know now, the Orlando shooter was a natural-born U.S. citizen who by all accounts “self-radicalized.” In addition, news reports suggest much more complex psychological motives for the shooter, including possible repressed self-hatred directed at gay people. Given that the shooter was a U.S. citizen with a firearms license and no prohibition on gun ownership, the conversation must become one about easy access to semi-automatic high powered weapons–even if Republicans and their gun lobby benefactors really don’t want that.

And as Colorado Senate GOP spokesman Sean Paige makes clear, they don’t want that.

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Colorado SOS: Only About 7% of Ballots Returned Thus Far

votebuttonUPDATE: The SOS’s office says that there are some incorrect numbers in the county-by-county spreadsheet (the PDF link below) that they are working on fixing as we type. The overall statewide totals printed here are correct.

—–

The Colorado Secretary of State’s office is beginning to publicly release information about voter turnout (or ballot turn-in) for the June 28th Primary. Here’s the latest as of 9:00 am today:

Democrats

Ballots sent: 984,009;
Ballots returned: 74,600;
Percent: 7.58%

Republicans

Ballots sent: 992,545;
Ballots returned: 73,137;
Percent: 7.36%

For more information on turnout based on a county-by-county basis, click here (PDF).

 

Get More Smarter on Wednesday (June 15)

MoreSmarterLogo-SunscreenDon’t forget the sunscreen — it’s going to be pretty damn warm for the next couple of days. 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). If you are more of a visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show.

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► Two weeks from today, the Colorado Primary Election will finally be behind us. If you haven’t yet received a mail ballot, check your registration or address status ASAP. Go to JustVoteColorado.org for more information.

 

► Aurora Democrat Eric Nelson — or some guy who says his name is Eric Nelson — continues to receive calls to drop out of the Democratic Primary in HD-42 after it was revealed by several news outlets that Nelson is an evil genius con artist whose resume is largely fictional. Ernest Luning of the Colorado Statesman broke the original story first, and followed up yesterday with an extensive update detailing Nelson’s bizarre attempts to falsify college diplomas in a failed effort to cast doubt on Luning’s reporting.

Marshall Zelinger of Denver7 also has more on this story, while the Aurora Sentinel is following discussions of the Aurora School Board, of which Nelson is a member.

 

► You are probably aware that Donald Trump has clinched the Republican nomination for President, but you may not be aware of how little Trump has been able to move forward in the 43 days since taking hold of the nomination. From “The Fix”:

Today, Trump is no closer to uniting the Republican party or pivoting to the general election than he was six weeks ago. And that is, at minimum, a massive waste of a critical time period and, at worst, a mistake that will could severely jeopardize his chances of winning the White House in November.

Trump’s time as the near-certain Republican nominee have been dominated by self-inflicted wounds — the most gaping of which is his suggestion that a federal judge overseeing a case involving Trump University was biased and should recuse himself due to the fact that he is of Mexican heritage. Trump doubled down on that comment, then tripled down on it  — even amid widespread outrage among Republicans already concerned that their nominee was dabbling (at least) in race-baiting.  Eventually,Trump released a statement insisting his comments about Gonzalo Curiel had been “misconstrued.” He did not apologize for making the comment…

…Yes, modern campaigns last forever. But, they are almost always defined by a small group of critical moments that change the trajectory of races.  The last six weeks was a major moment. Trump wasted it.

 

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GOP State Senate Candidate Cries Foul…On Bob Beauprez?

"Both Ways" Bob Beauprez (right).

“Both Ways” Bob Beauprez (right).

A fascinating Facebook post from Republican state senate candidate Jess Loban out of Douglas County accuses two-time gubernatorial loser Bob Beauprez of “meddling”–not just in the hard-right Loban’s primary in Senate District 4 against Ben Lyng, but in a number of key GOP legislative primary races around the state:

We found the source of the attacks on me, and it was bigger than expected. It actually was extended to Rep. Lori Saine, Rep. Gordon Klingenschmitt, and Rep Janak Joshi in the false and vicious attacks just like we have had here in Douglas County.

This was carried out by a group that is called Colorado Right Now that was started by a member of Pioneer Action that launched an all-out attack on conservative candidates across Colorado. The chairman of Pioneer Action is Bob Beauprez, and Bob Beauprez is endorser number 1 for Ben Lyng.

I am so very proud to be included with this group of standing legislators as a real threat to their liberal agenda. This is a fierce and direct RINO attack on anyone who stands for conservative values. WE MUST SPREAD THE WORD.

This is Douglas County, and we won’t put up with kingmaker actions and the oppressive will of an ultra establishment take over.

To be clear, the connection Loban is making to Beauprez isn’t quite bulletproof. According to Secretary of State filings by Colorado Right Now, the registered agent is Justin Prendergast–who also works for Bob Beauprez’s Pioneer Action group. Prendergast in fact uses a Pioneer Action email address in his filing as registered agent for Colorado Right Now. Prendergast is also engaged to Hillary Shoun, who along with Monica Owens runs the GOP PR firm Westbrooke Group. Monica Owens, of course, is married to Bob Beauprez’s son.

On second thought, it’s pretty much bulletproof.

With all of this established, what have here is a very interesting story of red-on-red infighting behind the scenes–not just in open-seat races like Jess Loban’s, but against incumbent GOP lawmakers like Lori Saine, Janak Joshi, and (yes) Gordon “Dr. Chaps” Klingenschmitt. These incumbents are all members of the “House Crazies,” members who have all in their way contributed to the GOP’s high negatives–if not in their own districts, then elsewhere as a general problem for the brand.

One might conclude based on this limited information that Beauprez is attempting to mastermind some kind of “purge” of a few of the more hardcore Republicans in the Colorado General Assembly–much like the Republican Governor’s Association openly waded into the 2014 gubernatorial race to freeze out Tom Tancredo. If that’s right, and targets like Loban are successful at getting the word out, we could see it backfiring explosively on Beauprez and the “establishment” candidates he is backing.

And before moderate Republicans rush to express their gratitude, remember that Beauprez has easily done as much damage to the Republican cause as any Republican in Colorado. And for far, far longer.

Stay tuned, this story seems very likely to blow up before June 28th.

Woods and Cadman Take Different Approaches to Attacking the “Entitlement Black Hole”

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Sen. Laura Waters-Woods.

Sen. Laura Waters-Woods.

Colorado State Sen. Laura Woods suggested in a radio interview last month that state Republicans wanted Gov. John Hickenlooper to cut health-care for children, elderly, the disabled, and other poor people in exchange for allowing the state to spend $370 million in TABOR rebates on roads, schools, and other state programs.

“All we had been asking, the entire [legislative] session, was for some real Medicaid reform — Medicaid expansion reform — real reform in that area,” Woods told KNUS host Jimmy Sengenberger May 14 (below). “Mr. Governor, if that’s what you want, then bring us some real reform ideas and an assurance that this money would not just be sucked into another health insurance expansion entitlement black hole, like all of — 38% of our state budget already is. And they wouldn’t come back with any ideas. So they really — you know, we gave them an alternative, [we] said, ‘Come to us with this.’ And they wouldn’t come back with any suggestions on that. So, that’s a long-winded answer to a good question.”

Medicaid, Colorado’s federal-state health care program for low-income people, is apparently what Woods refers to as an “entitlement black hole.” Under Obamacare, some 350,000 more Coloradans enrolled in Medicaid, bringing the total number of Colorado enrollees to over 1.1 million.

“Medicaid expansion has been a win on many levels for Colorado, largely because it has expanded health care access to so many Coloradans, putting Coloradans on the path to better health, and because it’s benefiting our economy,” said Natalie O’Donnell Wood, senior policy analyst at the Bell Policy Center. “Colorado’s rising Medicaid costs are and will continue to be largely attributable to the aging of our population, not Medicaid expansion.”

The federal government picked up most of the tab for Coloradans who enrolled in Medicaid as part of Obamacare. Despite this, Senate President Bill Cadman and other Republicans have falsely asserted that Medicaid expansion, under Obamacare, is busting Colorado’s budget.

Unlike Cadman, who doesn’t explain how he’d like Colorado to cut Medicaid, Woods has said she wants people to be poorer to qualify for Medicaid. But on KNUS, she suggested that in negotiations with Hickenlooper over the hospital provider fee, Republicans did not specify the Medicaid cuts they sought. The GOP wanted Hick to come to the table with “real reform ideas,” she said.

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Woods’ district will test Trump’s impact in Colorado

(Look out below – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Donald Trump, Sen. Laura Woods.

Donald Trump, Sen. Laura Woods.

Depending on where you’re coming from, one of the most interesting, important, scary, fun, inspiring, or depressing questions about Trump’s triumph among Republicans is, how will he impact down-ticket races?

Here in Colorado, no down-ticket seat is more important than that of State Sen. Laura Woods, the Republican from Westminster. Control of state government likely depends on the outcome of her race, against Democrat Rachel Zenzinger, whom Woods defeated in a Republican wave year (2014) by 650 votes. Republicans hold a one-seat majority in the state senate, and Democrats control the house and governor’s office.

Woods is the only elected official in Colorado who’s proactively called Trump one of her “favorite” presidential candidates. She’s the closest thing Trump has to an endorser in Colorado, among elected officials.

“My favorites are Ted Cruz and Donald Trump,” Woods told KNUS radio hosts Chuck Bonniwell and Julie Hayden earlier this year. And she later affirmed her fondness for the candidate on Facebook and in an email to supporters.

Yet, despite all this, reporters have apparently not asked Woods to explain her stance on Trump and how she (and others) think it will affect her all-important race in November.

And Woods won’t return my calls.

In lieu of begging other reporters to talk to Woods, possibly as part of a look Trump’s impact on the makeup of the Colorado legislature, I offer this video, a new version of one posted previsouly.

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Get More Smarter on Tuesday (June 7)

Get More SmarterIs it really over? Finally? 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). If you are more of a visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show.

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► We all know about the perceived benefits to being one of the first states in the country to cast a vote for President, but what if you’re among the last? Voters in California, New Jersey, Montana, New Mexico, North Dakota (Democrats only) and South Dakota will get to play Presidential Primary today, but it won’t matter much. Donald Trump has long since clinched the Republican Presidential nomination, and according to the Associated Press and CNN, the Democratic nomination is now in hand for Hillary Clinton. 

Sorry, California, but it could be worse; Democrats in the District of Columbia will cast primary votes next Tuesday (June 14) in a final gasp of irrelevance before attention shifts to the national party conventions in July.

 

► Registered Democrats and Republicans should start receiving mail ballots this week in advance of the June 28th Primary election. For more information on checking your registration or address status, or if you just like reading about elections, visit JustVoteColorado.org.

 

► The Denver Post continues its weeklong look at the five Republican candidates seeking their Party’s nomination for the U.S. Senate. Today’s focus is on Ryan Frazier:

Frazier, 38, is one of five GOP candidates seeking to win the nomination to take on incumbent and well-funded Democrat Michael Bennet in November. Not so long ago, Frazier, was pegged as the “it” guy in Republican politics. He was young, successful, black and charismatic and wasn’t afraid to take a stand on some moderate social issues that didn’t necessarily align with his political party.

Big things were expected from him.

But Frazier’s arrow is pointing down these days, and how successful he is in this race could be key to his political future, observers say.

Frazier tries lamely to message his political past by saying he is “3-2” as a candidate for office. Of course, both losses came back-to-back in 2010 and 2011 — and both were double-digit blowouts.

 

► All five Republican Senate candidates are scheduled to take part in two high-profile debates this week, beginning tonight on 9News and again on Wednesday evening in Colorado Springs (hosted by the Gazette newspaper). We’ll be following both debates here on Colorado Pols, so check back often.

 

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