“Eye Candy”–Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg Lets Slip Inner D-Bag

TUESDAY UPDATE: Here are the clips–first, Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg refers to Sen. Kerry Donovan as “eye candy.”

A few minutes later, after Sonnenberg was pulled out of committee by persons unknown and presumably read the riot act, came the apology:

Apparently Sonnenberg calls everybody “eye candy,” which we suppose might be slightly less creepy.

On second thought, not really. Original post follows.

—–

Sens. Kerry Donovan, Jerry Sonnenberg.

Sens. Kerry Donovan, Jerry Sonnenberg.

We’re getting word of a nasty exchange today in the Senate State Affairs Committee, which was temporarily chaired today by GOP Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg–while hearing House Bill 16-1275, which would have collected corporate tax revenue on earnings held in offshore tax havens. The bill died on a party-line vote in this “kill committee,” but not before Sonnenberg asked for closing statements–including from Sen. Kerry Donovan, and we quote,

“Unless she was just here as eye candy.”

So said one of the most senior Republican members of the Colorado Senate to his Democratic colleague who happens to be female. Audio of the exchange hasn’t been posted yet, but we’re told Democrats erupted in anger, after which Sonnenberg was pulled out of the hearing for conversations unknown. When he returned he apologized for referring to his fellow Colorado Senator as “eye candy.”

Just another day in Bill Cadman’s Senate, folks.

Get More Smarter on Monday (March 28)

Get More SmarterIf you were in Canada, you’d have the day off today for Easter Monday (you’d also have a totally dreamy Prime Minister). It’s time to Get More Smarter with Colorado Pols! If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example).

 

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► Colorado’s budget makes its way to the House floor today, and there are plenty of concerns about funding cuts. Monique Becker of the Loveland Reporter-Herald reports on how legislators in Northern Colorado are explaining the budget problems to local constituents; Joe St. George of Fox 31 Denver outlines a broader Q&A on the state budget; and Kelsey Ray of the Colorado Independent looks at budget discussions that could cost nearly 100 jobs because of GOP partisan opposition to the Clean Power Plan.

 

► Former Fox 31 reporter Eli Stokols, now with Politico, takes a look at how Republican Presidential candidates Donald TrumpTed Cruz, and John Kasich are sifting through a list of unpledged Colorado GOP delegates:

With a still unsettled three-way primary fight appearing to be headed for a contested convention in July, Colorado’s GOP assemblies over the next week offer Donald Trump and Ted Cruz a major opportunity to win a significant pile of delegates chosen almost completely by party insiders. Now, it’s up to the three candidates to convince the party to pick delegates who promise to vote in their favor…
…Cruz confirmed Monday that he will attend the Colorado GOP’s state assembly on April 9. And Trump and John Kasich are also tentatively planning to attend the confab of roughly 6,000 party activists in Colorado Springs, where 27 of the state’s 33 delegates to the RNC convention will be elected.

April 9th is going to be YUGE in Colorado Springs!

 

► Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal rejected the wishes of his fellow Republican lawmakers in vetoing a so-called “religious freedom” bill today. From the Washington Post:

Deal on Monday vetoed a controversial religious liberties bill that had provoked outrage from Hollywood, sports leagues and corporations for what critics said was its discrimination against gay and transgender people.

“I do not think we have to discriminate against anyone to protect the faith-based community in Georgia, which I and my family have been a part of for generations,” Deal said at a news conference announcing his decision.

Deal’s decision comes two weeks after the state legislature passed a bill aimed at shoring up the rights of religious organizations to refuse services that clash with their faith, particularly with regard to same-sex marriage. Deal, who had already expressed discomfort with the measure, came under enormous pressure to veto the bill after the National Football League suggested it might pass over Atlanta for future Super Bowls, and leading Hollywood figures threatened to pull production from the state.

 

 

 

Get even more smarter after the jump…

(more…)

Cadman on Prez Race: “Not Her, Him”

Senate President Bill Cadman (R).

Senate President Bill Cadman (R).

We haven’t seen any long-form reporting on Colorado Senate President Bill Cadman’s remarks yesterday at the El Paso County Republican Party assembly, but Ramsey Scott at the Colorado Statesman Tweeted a quote from Cadman that, assuming it holds up contextually, could make for one hell of a bumper sticker in the 2016 presidential race.

For Democrats, that is:

“Not her, him.” In addition to creating tacit space to back controversial GOP presidential frontrunner Donald Trump in the likely event he wins Cadman’s party’s nomination, this crude distillation of the party’s message down to “not your gender pronoun, our gender pronoun” is (this is a considerable understatement) very unlikely to turn around the Republican Party’s abysmal poll numbers among women voters. Numbers that were abysmal, mind you, long before Trump.

Wait, you say, Cadman didn’t mean all women. “Not her” only means not Hillary Clinton, right?

Let’s put it on a bumper sticker and see what women think.

Derailing Ed Reform With Colorado Senate Republicans

From top: Sens. Owen Hill, Vicki Marble, Tim Neville, Laura Woods, Chris Holbert.

From top: Sens. Owen Hill, Vicki Marble, Tim Neville, Laura Woods, Chris Holbert.

Chalkbeat Colorado’s Todd Engdahl reports on another odd development in the GOP-controlled Senate Education Committee, where a bipartisan bill to alleviate high-stakes testing pressure on high school freshmen in Colorado went off the rails yesterday:

A bill that would ban mandatory state language arts and math tests in ninth grade cleared the Senate Education Committee Thursday. But the panel added seemingly extraneous amendments that are likely to reduce the bill’s already slim chances of passing the full legislature.

The original version of the bill merely would have banned ninth grade testing and was sponsored by conservative Republican Sen. Vicki Marble of Fort Collins, along with liberal Democratic Sen. Mike Merrifield of Colorado Springs and two committee Republicans. All the sponsors were dissatisfied with last session’s compromise testing law, which retained ninth grade exams.

But from there, bipartisan consensus came apart as bizarre GOP amendments piled on–in particular:

Rural districts that chose not to give the ninth grade tests would be allowed to hire non-licensed teachers… [Pols emphasis]

That’s right–Republicans actually passed an amendment to this bill allowing unlicensed teachers to be hired in rural school districts.

“I’m baffled by the amendment,” said Sen. Nancy Todd, D-Aurora.

“I see absolute no connection,” said Sen. Andy Kerr, D-Lakewood. “This completely changes the direction of the bill.”

Hill offered no detailed rationale for the changes, either during discussion or during a brief hallway interview after the hearing…

It’s anybody’s guess what Sen. Owen Hill was trying to achieve with this amendment, but the rest of the Senate Education Committee including top-tier Democratic target Sen. Laura Waters Woods all jumped on board. Earlier in this same hearing, a bill for tax credits to offset private school tuition passed on a party-line vote. Perhaps this bill to eliminate ninth grade testing was a little too bipartisan, and Hill needed to spike it?

Whatever the reason, you had Senate Republicans yesterday, including their most vulnerable incumbent, voting for private school vouchers–and then voting to let unlicensed teachers into rural schools. The grand scheme at work here had better be good, because on any normal day we’d call these highly toxic votes.

Get More Smarter on Thursday (March 24)

MoreSmarterLogo-SnowmanHappy “little Purim” everybody! It’s time to Get More Smarter with Colorado Pols. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example).

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► The Colorado legislature (most of them, anyway) took a snow day on Wednesday. But as Megan Schrader reports for the Colorado Springs Gazettethere was no vacation from absurd rhetoric. Here’s State Senate President Bill Cadman reacting to Democratic claims that his caucus is overly-influenced by the Koch Brothers-funded Americans for Prosperity (AFP):

“It’s astounding that the same group of Democrats who generated historic recalls of their own members, who incited a lawsuit against the state of Colorado from 55 of our own sheriffs, who caused nearly a dozen counties to seek secession from Colorado, [Pols emphasis] and who pushed multiple billion-dollar tax hikes rejected by Colorado citizens, think they should be given the authority of the majority when it comes to bill assignments,” Cadman said.

As we wrote in this space this morning, Cadman is smoking something:

Got that? Recalls that were undone a year later. A lawsuit Jon Caldara “the sheriffs” lost again two days ago. Rejected tax hikes that weren’t referred by the legislature.  And above all, the “North Colorado” secession movement that was laughed off by voters and made the Eastern Plains the butt of nationwide jokes. These are the justifications being held up for opposing something the entire rest of the state, including Republicans across Colorado and members of Cadman’s own GOP caucus, support.

It’s totally insane, folks. To say this not how government is supposed to work is a huge understatement.

 

► It has been 31 years since the average temperature on Earth was cooler than normal (February 1985 was the last month). With any luck, it won’t take another 30 years for Colorado Senate Republicans to acknowledge that man-made climate change is an actual “thing” that we should be worried about. As we wrote on Wednesday:

Unfortunately you can’t have a grownup discussion of the objectives and merits of the Clean Power Plan with the Senate GOP, because they refuse to acknowledge there’s a problem with human emissions and climate change at all. Even if this bill doesn’t directly address the underlying purpose of the Clean Power Plan, everybody knows that’s what this debate is really all about…

…With new science and polling demonstrating both the urgent reality and public acceptance of human-caused global climate change, there’s going to come a point when this kind of rank ignorance will be disqualifying from mainstream politics, much like Holocaust denial became after Simon Wiesenthal or anti-LGBT bigotry increasingly is today.

But as you can see, at least in the Colorado Senate, we’re not there yet.

And until then, we’ll continue to see asinine legislation such as SB-157, which would suspend all Colorado efforts to meet the requirements of the new Clean Power Plan. We’ll just figure out how to cross that bridge after it burns down.

 

 

Get even more smarter after the jump…

(more…)

Off The Deep End As “Cadman vs. Everyone” War Intensifies

UPDATE: Dave Perry of the Aurora Sentinel tears into Bill Cadman:

Cadman’s polemic dia-Trump stems from an argument over Colorado’s constitutional tax provision that requires voters to approve tax increases. There is no tax increase at issue here. The problem is the so-called Taxpayer Bill of Rights creates an arbitrary and convoluted budget baseline. If tax revenues grow past a certain point, even without a tax increase, money must be “refunded” to state residents. When Colorado expanded its federal Medicaid program as part of the Affordable Care Act, it also created a hospital fee to help offset that, a decision that enjoyed bipartisan support, because it made sense.

Now, some Republicans want that hospital fee, collecting about $350 million a year, to be counted as taxes, forcing a taxpayer refunds and a massive hole in the state budget.

Even though Attorney General Cynthia Coffman has said her office does not take issue with continuing to label the hospital fee as a fee and not tax revenue, and even though members of Cadman’s own party want to spend that Medicaid fee to pay the state’s Medicaid bills and avoid massive budget cuts, Cadman and a handful of tea party elites continue to hold the rest of Colorado Republicans hostage with the same kind of tactical fear and extortion that has elevated Donald Trump to the top of GOP presidential ticket.

—–

Senate President Bill Cadman.

Senate President Bill Cadman.

This week, tensions between the one-seat GOP Colorado Senate majority and the Democratic-controlled House, Gov. John Hickenlooper, and a sweeping bipartisan coalition of civic, local government, and other organizations over stabilizing the state budget with a technical fix exploded into open press-conference warfare. The Grand Junction Sentinel’s Charles Ashby reported yesterday:

Democrats tried to pick a fight Tuesday with Republicans to allow a full debate in the Colorado Senate on a plan to take the state’s hospital provider fee out from under the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights, and not just quietly kill it in a committee.

Senate Minority Leader Lucia Guzman, D-Denver, and other Democratic senators lambasted Senate Republicans for siding with a conservative group funded by out-of-state billionaires over the matter, rather than ordinary Coloradans.

The Democrats were talking about Americans For Prosperity, a right-leaning national group that is funded by conservative billionaires Charles and David Koch.

That group, known as AFP, has been vocal in Colorado in recent months calling on Republicans to oppose taking the provider fee, paid by hospitals to fund health care programs for the poor, out from under TABOR.

Pushing a strident ideologue conservative agenda as part of a national organizing strategy, Americans for Prosperty, a large organization that receives major funded from the “libertarian” Koch brothers, recently was in the news as the principal opposition to Colorado Springs’ recent successful tax increase campaign to pay for badly-needed road repairs.

Americans for Prosperity’s Colorado affiliate has come on stronger than ever in this year’s legislative session, demonstrating a deep level of influence over Senate President Cadman and his narrow majority. That influence was revealed again when Cadman himself credited AFP with winning that majority–a comment he was awkwardly forced to walk back, but by then the damage had been done. Today, the public face of the Colorado Senate GOP majority is Sean Paige, a former AFP Colorado employee whose salary is widely rumored to be “privately” funded.

As the Colorado Springs Gazette’s Megan Schrader reports:

Senate President Bill Cadman, R-Colorado Springs, spoke at [AFP’s] event and was criticized for his endorsement of the group, specifically thanking them for the work they do knocking on doors, talking about the issues, and mobilizing the grass roots. “I can tell you this. I don’t think I would be president of the Senate if it wasn’t for the efforts that you and yours did in previous elections and we look forward to continuing our partnership with you,” according to an audio recording of the event provided by The Durango Herald.

Cadman responded to the attack on the motives of his caucus in an email.

Conservatives share stances on key issues facing the state, he said.

“Twisting that into some kind of conspiracy, conveniently centered around the left’s usual bogeymen, the Koch brothers, suggests a little paranoia, mixed with a lot of partisan posturing,” Cadman said…

northcoObviously when it’s done in the open, it’s hard to call it a conspiracy. But, as Ashby reported in the Sentinel, when cornered on the increasingly urgent question of the technical fix to the hospital provider fee to comply with TABOR without even more budget trauma, Cadman lashed out with a positively looney diatribe you have to read to believe:

“It’s astounding that the same group of Democrats who generated historic recalls of their own members, who incited a lawsuit against the state of Colorado from 55 of our own sheriffs, who caused nearly a dozen counties to seek secession from Colorado, [Pols emphasis] and who pushed multiple billion-dollar tax hikes rejected by Colorado citizens, think they should be given the authority of the majority when it comes to bill assignments,” Cadman said.

Got that? Recalls that were undone a year later. A lawsuit Jon Caldara “the sheriffs” lost again two days ago. Rejected tax hikes that weren’t referred by the legislature.  And above all, the “North Colorado” secession movement that was laughed off by voters and made the Eastern Plains the butt of nationwide jokes. These are the justifications being held up for opposing something the entire rest of the state, including Republicans across Colorado and members of Cadman’s own GOP caucus, support.

It’s totally insane, folks. To say this not how government is supposed to work is a huge understatement. Perhaps never in the state’s history has a 700 vote/one seat single chamber majority been used to stonewall otherwise total consensus on a matter so important to the state’s fiscal health. Yes, the subject is technical, but the pain Cadman and his one-seat Senate majority will cause with their intransigence won’t be.

It’s possible, with Democrats widely expected to retake the Colorado Senate this year, and term-limited Cadman awaiting his next career move on the money side of Republican politics, there’s just nobody who cares anymore. That would be likely also good for Democrats politically–but bad for Colorado, you know, objectively.

Colorado Senate Climate Change Denialism, Because Of Course

ostrichWe wanted to be sure this report from the Colorado Independent’s Kelsey Ray got noted for the record, and today’s freak Front Range blizzard makes a fun backdrop:

Republican-sponsored SB 157 would suspend all Colorado action toward implementing the CPP indefinitely, unless the Court lifts its stay and approves the plan…

“If part of the Clean Power Plan is implemented, we don’t want to be left behind,” said Taryn Finnessey of the Colorado Water Conservation Board, who authored the state’s climate plan.

“It would absolutely put us behind the curve,” agreed Becky Long, a lobbyist for the environmental advocacy group Conservation Colorado.

But the bill asserts Colorado simply doesn’t have the right to keep working toward the stayed plan’s goals.

In the absence of a federal mandate like the Clean Power Plan, the bill claims, “no legal state authority exists for any agency of the state” to keep working on a state plan related to power plant CO2 emissions.

Sen. John Cooke.

Sen. John Cooke.

That’s hooey, of course, the state is free to pursue whatever plan it likes even if the federal government’s authority to do it is questioned. As we’ve noted previously, Colorado was/is well ahead of the curve in progress toward the basic goals of the Clean Power Plan, and the decision by our state’s GOP Attorney General to sue has created a very public split with Gov. John Hickenlooper, who supports the plan as a logical extension of what the state is already doing.

But again, that’s the conversation grownups want to have about the Clean Power Plan.

In the GOP-controlled Colorado Senate, they don’t have many of those.

In his testimony, [Sen. John] Cooke said, “The bill today isn’t about the myth of man-made climate change.” [Pols emphasis]

Unfortunately you can’t have a grownup discussion of the objectives and merits of the Clean Power Plan with the Senate GOP, because they refuse to acknowledge there’s a problem with human emissions and climate change at all. Even if this bill doesn’t directly address the underlying purpose of the Clean Power Plan, everybody knows that’s what this debate is really all about.

And make no mistake, when a slightly incredulous Sen. Matt Jones asked Cooke a moment later if he really believes “man made climate change is a myth,” Cooke made sure everybody knew that wasn’t a misquote.

With new science and polling demonstrating both the urgent reality and public acceptance of human-caused global climate change, there’s going to come a point when this kind of rank ignorance will be disqualifying from mainstream politics, much like Holocaust denial became after Simon Wiesenthal or anti-LGBT bigotry increasingly is today.

But as you can see, at least in the Colorado Senate, we’re not there yet.

Get More Smarter on Wednesday (March 23)

MoreSmarterLogo-SnowmanOur condolences to those Colorado students who would have had a snow day today…if they weren’t in the middle of Spring Break already. It’s time to Get More Smarter with Colorado Pols. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example).

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► The Colorado legislature has called a “snow day” for Wednesday. Arguments — about everything — are expected to resume tomorrow.

► Arizona, Utah, and Idaho (Democrats only) cast votes in the race for President on Tuesday. Chris Cillizza of “The Fix” names his “Winners and Losers” from the evening; prepare for a lot of repetition from here on out.

Donald Trump: Arizona was the big prize of the night, the third biggest winner-take-all state on the map with 58 delegates. There was some chatter in the days leading up to the vote that Ted Cruz might be sneaking up on Trump — the Texas Senator spent time in the state — and could be poised to pull an upset. Nope.  Trump won by 22 points, taking 47 percent of the vote. Would Trump have had a better night if Cruz had come in under 50 percent in Utah? Sure. But only by a little since Trump was never going to take more than a small handful of delegates out of the heavily Mormon State. Nothing that happened on Tuesday night changed the dynamic of the GOP race. Trump, at 739 delegates, is clearly in first place and still the only candidate with a genuine chance of winning the 1,237 delegates to formally claim the party’s nomination. That’s a good night for him.

Hillary Clinton: The only way that Clinton isn’t the Democratic nominee is if she starts losing big states by large margins. That didn’t happen on Tuesday night. Clinton won the big delegate prize of Arizona while losing Idaho and Utah by big numbers to Bernie Sanders. The Sanders folks will focus on his two wins but the truth of Sanders’s delegate deficit is he needs to win states like Arizona with 80 percent of the vote, not states like Utah or Idaho.  There just aren’t enough delegates in those to narrow Clinton’s lead. And, she knows it. Notice that her speeches in the last week or so — since the March 15 votes — have turned their focus to Trump almost entirely. Clinton is in the midst of a general election pivot.  Tuesday night proved, again, why this nomination fight is close to over.

► For those of you who have felt a little panicked because Colorado doesn’t have an official Lieutenant Governor, well, you can finally relax. Bill Vidal Donna Lynne is here! From Joey Bunch of the Denver Post:

Donna Lynne, a Kaiser Permanente executive and a longtime ally of Gov. John Hickenlooper, is the nominee to become Colorado’s next lieutenant governor, an administration official confirmed Wednesday morning… …Lynne, 62, is executive vice president of the Kaiser Foundation Health Plan and Kaiser Foundation Hospitals, as well as the group president responsible for Kaiser’s Colorado, Pacific Northwest and Hawaii regions. If confirmed, she would replace Joe Garcia, who  announced his resignation in November to become president of the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education, a Boulder-based organization that’s to assist colleges and universities in 16 Western states.

Lynne is not expected to run for Governor when Hickenlooper is term-limited in 2018, which was a significant point in her favor. Hickenlooper was careful not to select a Light Gov. who would gain a head start on the Democratic nomination for Governor.   Get even more smarter after the jump… (more…)

Federal Court Rejects Sheriff Gun Law Appeal

Guns.

Guns.

Apropos news from the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals, hearing the case of a bunch of elected Colorado sheriffs vs. Gov. John Hickenlooper, seeking to overturn the state’s landmark 2013 gun safety laws–in particular the laws requiring background checks on most private gun transfers, and limiting magazine capacity to 15 rounds. Tomorrow, the Senate State Affairs Committee will consider the second bill this session that would repeal the magazine limit.

Here’s the decision released earlier today. The 2013 gun laws remain the law of the land:

Several organizations, individuals, and businesses brought suit against Colorado’s governor, John Hickenlooper, arguing the statutes violate the Second Amendment, the Fourteenth Amendment, and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). But it was clear from this litigation’s inception that the plaintiffs’ standing to assert these claims was less than assured; the parties litigated the issue at every turn. As the result of one of these bouts of jurisdictional wrangling, the district court concluded several Colorado sheriffs lacked standing to bring their claims and dismissed them from the case.

After a nine-day bench trial, the district court expressed skepticism that any of the remaining plaintiffs had established standing to challenge § 18-12-112 and § 18-12-302. Nevertheless, “with the benefit of some generous assumptions,” it found that at least one plaintiff had standing to challenge each statute. App. at 1762. After winning the jurisdictional battle, however, the plaintiffs ultimately lost the war; the district court entered judgment in favor of the defendant on all claims…

Because the plaintiffs failed to carry their burden of establishing Article III standing, the district court lacked jurisdiction to consider their claims. We therefore affirm the district court’s order dismissing the sheriffs’ claims and its denial of the subsequent motion to alter or amend that order; vacate the district court’s order granting judgment in favor of the defendant; remand with directions to dismiss the action for lack of jurisdiction; and dismiss the parties’ pending motions as moot.

The short version is that Independence Institute lawyer Dave Kopel and the county sheriff plaintiffs in this suit already lost their case against the 2013 gun safety laws on the merits in federal district court. Today’s appeals court ruling rejects the standing of the sheriffs and other plaintiffs to bring their suit to begin with, and vacates the sheriffs’ prior loss with an order to dismiss the case entirely.

Some proponents of the 2013 laws might have actually preferred that ruling upholding the laws on the merits stand, but there’s certainly nothing about this that helps the longshot legal case against laws for which ample precedent exists–an effort that is reportedly nonetheless very lucrative for the Independence Institute in terms of fundraising, if not so much a winner, you know, in the courtroom.

Don’t worry–this case, or some version thereof, has at least a couple good rounds of fundraising left in it.

Medicaid no longer serves the “truly needy” and fewer poor people should be eligible, says State Sen. Laura Woods

(Compassion, Laura Waters Woods style – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Sen. Laura Waters-Woods.

Sen. Laura Waters-Woods.

If you follow my blog, you know I’ve been pointing out how Republicans are falsely blaming Colorado budget problems on healthcare costs for the elderly, disabled, and other poor people.

What’s worse, after scapegoating Medicaid spending on healthcare for the poor, Republicans haven’t said how they’d cut it. Or do something else to ease the budget pressure. And reporters are letting them slide.

But one state Republican recently said she’s ready to cut Medicaid. That’s State Sen. Laura Woods of Westminster.

During a radio interview in January, Woods said Medicaid used to be “for the truly needy,” but it’s not anymore. So she wants families to be poorer to qualify for Medicaid. Currently, a family of four qualifies if it earns less than around $34,000 per year–or 138 percent of the federal poverty level.

Woods agreed with KNUS 710-AM radio hosts, who suggested reducing the earnings threshold for qualifying for Medicaid.

Host Chuck Bonniwell: Well, you can change the 137 percent back to 100 percent [of the federal poverty level], I suppose.

Co-Host Julie Hayden: Right. I mean, it can’t stay the way it is, right?

WOODS: Right.

Woods told Bonniwell that “this rolling back [the] 137 percent is exactly the kind of compromise and agreement that we would push to the government, and say, ‘You know what? You want compromise, let’s talk.'”

But Woods said a healthcare cut must be done with “a lot of forethought” because “you’re sort of taking away their birthday. You’re taking away Santa Claus.”

(more…)

Get More Smarter on Tuesday (March 22)

Get More SmarterSend happy thoughts to our friends in Belgium today. It’s time to Get More Smarter with Colorado Pols. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example).

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► Today isn’t a “Super Tuesday” — in fact, it’s only a tad more interesting than a regular Tuesday — but there are more delegates at stake for candidates seeking their Party’s respective nominations for President. Both Democrats and Republicans are voting in Arizona (primary) and Utah (caucus), while Democrats will caucus alone in Idaho and Republicans will hold a “convention” in American Samoa (though no preference poll will be conducted).

On the Democratic side, Arizona is emerging as a must-win state for Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders; while he is expected to perform well in Utah and Idaho, Arizona is the big prize with its 85 delegates.

For Republicans, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz is expected to perform well in Utah, where 2012 GOP Presidential nominee Mitt Romney has been campaigning hard against Donald Trump. His Hairness is the favorite in Arizona, where a winner-take-all Primary could net Trump 58 more delegates.

 

► The terrorist group ISIS is claiming responsibility for a series of attacks in Brussels, Belgium that have killed at least 30 people. From CNN:

ISIS claimed to strike yet again on European soil Tuesday, saying its “fighters” launched attacks on the airport and a subway station in Belgium’s capital that killed at least 30 people and wounded about 230 more.

While jarring, the carnage wasn’t altogether surprising. Belgium has been going after terrorist threats for months, as illustrated by last week’s capture of Europe’s most wanted man, Salah Abdeslam, in a bloody raid in Brussels.

“We were fearing terrorist attacks,” Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel told reporters Tuesday. “And that has now happened.”

A Belgian government representative told CNN that 20 people died at the Maelbeek metro station and 130 were wounded, plus 10 more were killed and 100 wounded at Brussels’ international airport.

President Barack Obama made an historic speech in Havana on Tuesday morning in which he addressed the Cuban people directly. As Obama told the crowd, his visit to Cuba was intended “to bury the last remnant of the Cold War in the Americas.”

 

Get even more smarter after the jump…

(more…)

Get More Smarter on Monday (March 21)

Get More SmarterThe first day of Spring was on Sunday…no, really. It’s time to Get More Smarter with Colorado Pols. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example).

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► Republican Presidential frontrunner Donald Trump unveiled the first group of names for his “foreign policy team” should His Hairness actually become President. Meanwhile, as Politico reports, there is optimism among some Democrats that a GOP ticket headed by Trump could cost Republicans their House Majority:

Democrats have for the past year discussed the GOP’s 30-seat majority as a long-term problem, solvable only by shrinking it over several successive elections. But Trump’s remarkable rise in the GOP presidential race, and the backlash he has already provoked among the broader electorate, has suddenly raised the prospect of a large November wave against Trump and the Republicans who would share the ballot with him.

The House GOP’s leading indicators — its most vulnerable members, like Reps. Bob Dold and Carlos Curbelo — are already sounding the alarm against Trump and his rhetoric on women, Hispanics and other groups. The party’s outside groups are preparing an intensified fundraising push to help defend the chamber. The respected Cook Political Report downgraded Republicans’ chances in 10 districts Friday. And though the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, which has been stung by overzealous predictions in past years, won’t say outright that the majority is in play, the party is clearly thinking about it.

► Colorado lawmakers have a lot of work to do in the second half of the 2016 legislative session, as Peter Marcus writes for the Durango Herald.

 

Get even more smarter after the jump…

(more…)

Get More Smarter on Friday (March 18)

MoreSmarterLogo-SnowmanIt wouldn’t be nearing Spring Break in Colorado if there wasn’t a little snow first. It’s time to Get More Smarter with Colorado Pols. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example).

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► Colorado Democrats began rolling out their “equal pay” agenda in the state legislature on Thursday. As Peter Marcus reports for the Durango Herald:

Two bills passed through the House Business Affairs and Labor Committee on party-line votes, which does not bode well for the bills in the Republican-controlled Senate.

In addition to the legislation that would ban employers from asking about salary history, Democrats also advanced a bill that would require a large business that bids for a government contract to prove that it is in compliance with equal-pay standards and laws in order to be considered for the procurement process.

The Republican-controlled state Senate is likely to squash any attempts at creating pay equity in Colorado, because, freedom or something.

► House Speaker Paul D. Ryan continues to sniff around the Presidential race. As Politico reports:

House Speaker Paul Ryan met Thursday night at a pricey French restaurant here with some of the party’s biggest donors to assess a political landscape dominated by one vexing question: what to do about Donald Trump.

The dinner was a highlight of a secretive two-day conclave, convened under heavy security by a donor group headed by New York hedge-fund manager Paul Singer, that is being viewed as a pivotal moment for the big-money effort to block Trump from the Republican presidential nomination.

Ryan continues to insist that he is not trying to position himself as a potential compromise Presidential candidate to come out of a theoretical “brokered convention” for the Republicans. Ryan continues to increase his involvement in the race for the GOP nomination, however, and this week former Speaker John Boehner publicly suggested that Republicans should align behind Ryan as a compromise Presidential candidate.

As our friends at “The Fix” explain, Republicans are still largely locked into anti-Trump mode:

That’s the question facing establishment Republicans today: Do they line up behind Trump now in hopes of managing him and making him more acceptable to a general electorate or do they continue to fight like hell to keep him from the nomination, running the risk by doing so that they could severely damage him and themselves for November?

The latter route appears to be the one that most establishment Republicans are taking. For now.

 

Get even more smarter after the jump…

(more…)

Get More Smarter on St. Patrick’s Day (March 17)

GMS-GreenGreen beer is okay, but we’d stay away from any green foods that aren’t vegetables. It’s time to Get More Smarter with Colorado Pols. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example).

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► Senate Republicans continue to insist that they will refuse to discuss any potential Supreme Court nominee, and yesterday President Obama called their bluff by nominating Merrick Garland to fill the vacancy created by the death of Judge Antonin Scalia. The White House is keeping the GOP backed firmly into its corner by pushing a nominee whose qualifications are difficult to ignore.

Elsewhere, the Washington Post takes a deeper dive into Garland’s background, and Colorado’s Congressional delegation appears to be solidly divided on partisan lines.

 

Republicans are still in full panic mode over the likelihood that Donald Trump will capture the GOP Presidential nomination, but will the Republican Party really reject its own voters by trying to force a “brokered convention” in Cleveland?

The Aurora Sentinel picks up on the re-election concerns of Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Aurora):

…The GOP party faithful here are worried whether Donald Trump as their party’s presidential nominee will dump a bucket of Goldwater on Republican candidates down the ticket. They’re hoping the country isn’t going to party like it’s 1964, when the famous Arizona senator practically single-handedly handed complete control of the government over to the Democrats. For those of us who remember the “Daisy” ad what seemed like crazy talk back then, Quid speaks for most of those saying to the Trump, “Donald, you’re no Barry Goldwater.”

But Republican electeds all over the state, once whimsical about Making America something something something are now worried that if Trump snags the nomination, an anti-Trump electorate could trample anything that ends in -R, including a Colorado Senator, Congressman Mike Coffman and possibly Congressman Ken Buck.

 

Get even more smarter after the jump…

(more…)

Woods joins Trump and Coffman in opposing citizenship for undocumented immigrants born in the U.S.

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Donald Trump, Sen. Laura Woods.

Donald Trump, Sen. Laura Woods.

Woods, who has said Trump is her second favorite presidential candidate, “liked” a Facebok post, sponsored by Numbers USA, which read:

LIKE if you agree with Trump. Illegal aliens should not be awarded birthright citizenship!

A graphic shows a photo of Trump with the text, “End Birthright Citizenship.”

Trump’s immigration platform also calls for the rounding up and deportation of  America’s estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants to their country of origin. From there, they’d be free to apply to become U.S. citizens.

Woods’ office did not immediately return a call for comment on whether she agrees with Trump’s immigration policy in its entirety–or whether she’d want to rescind citizenship from millions of immigratns who’ve become U.S. citizens under America’s birthright-citizenship law.

Most other Colorado politicians have been silent on birthright citizenship, but as recently as 2013, Rep. Mike Coffman confirmed his opposition to the policy, in an interview with The Denver Post, saying “sure” he’d like to abolish birthright citizenship.

Both Woods and Coffman represent swing districts where anti-immigration positions could turn off immigrant voters. About 20 percent of Coffman’s district is Latino.

Woods won her Westminster seat by about 650 votes in 2014, while Coffman has been seen as vulnerable since his district was re-drawn after the 2010 census. Coffman narrowly defeated a Democrat in 2012 and won by a larger margin in 2014.