Hickenlooper Offers Glimpse at Re-Election Theme

Gov. John Hickenlooper.

Did Hick make the economy stronger? Well, he didn’t NOT make it stronger.

Taking a page out of former President Bill Clinton's playbook (or James Carville, if you'd rather), Gov. John Hickenlooper provided a glimpse at what is likely to be a central theme of his re-election campaign in a fundraising email to supporters this afternoon.

Given his rather tepid support of Democratic-backed legislation in recent years, you're not alone if you've been wondering what Hickenlooper would campaign around in 2014. You know he doesn't want to talk about guns or the death penalty, and the recent failure of Amendment 66 makes it difficult for him to talk about education, so…it's the economy (stupid):

I’m glad to be the one to break it to you: We’ve got more economic good news! Unemployment is down and most other economic indicators are up across the board. The national economy is back on track, and Colorado’s economy along with it. Check out Colorado Secretary of State Scott Gessler’s recent statement, which hits some of the highlights.

The morning news isn’t always good, and around these parts we certainly know how it feels to wake up to tragedy in the headlines. But more often than not when we pull out the paper first thing its stories like this that get us revved up to keep at it.

We’re hard at work in Colorado, bringing in jobs in wind turbine manufacturing, construction, education, and making sure local governments have the resources to do their jobs. We’re making sure that Colorado is the kind of place people want to raise a family and start a business, and that’s a message that we are proud to spread far and wide.

Things are looking up. Naturally, we have our share of challenges to tackle, but that’s no excuse for believing that things aren’t going to get better.

They can. And they are. And we’re going to keep Colorado headed in the right direction.

You can argue over how much credit Hickenlooper should get for creating jobs in Colorado, but regardless of any particular cause-and-effect relationship, (and similar in some respects to Clinton's presidency) it is inarguable that an economic upswing did happen while Hickenlooper was Governor.

It's also a clever move to point to Scott Gessler's economic report as part of this message — it sends a bipartisan tone, and it also highlights one of Hickenlooper's preferred opponents in a general election.

Obamacare’s Detractors Finally Running Out Of Time?

Better late than never.

Better late than never.

As The Hill's Jonathan Easley reports:

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is expected to release data later this month showing a “surge” in enrollees in the federal and state healthcare exchanges for November.

The numbers are expected to surpass the paltry figures for October, when enrollments were hampered by an erratic HealthCare.gov website plagued by outages and error messages…

Even with the jump, the administration appears well behind its original goal of having 800,000 people signed up through the state and federal exchanges in the first two months. Still, the figures could be a sign the rollout finally has some positive momentum after a catastrophic launch.

Bloomberg reported on Monday that the HHS will say 100,000 people selected plans through the federal exchanges in November, a nearly four-fold increase over the almost 27,000 that signed up in the first month of its operation.

The Pueblo Chieftain's Loretta Sword updated numbers for Colorado over the holiday weekend:

More than 71,000 Coloradans have created accounts on Connect for Health Colorado, the state marketplace for insurance coverage under the federal Affordable Care Act, often referred to as Obamacare.

The initial rollout of the online health insurance marketplaces, both federal and to a lesser extent in Colorado, were marred by disastrous and in most cases preventable errors. Here in Colorado, many of the functions to calculate available subsidies for health insurance buyers weren't available when the site rolled out on October 1st. A larger and more fundamental problem was discovered in the process flow for new signups to Colorado's health insurance exchange, which has seen thousands of applications stall while awaiting denial for Medicaid coverage. Slowly but surely, the weeks-long story of epic failure is being edged out by newer stories of success–halting, still far below expectations set before the beginning of October, but enough to provide hope that the situation will be brought under control in time to work.

Ever since the passage of the Affordable Care Act over three years ago, Democrats have banked on the promise that at some point, the law would begin providing tangible and undeniable benefits to the public. The answer from Democrats to the hysterical, exaggerated claims from Republicans about the effects of Obamacare was simply going to be a system that voters could see with their own eyes was working.

Needless to say, the last few weeks of highly public dysfunction, at the exact moment a functioning new system was supposed to be reassuring the public, put a giant hole in the plan. When you consider the horrible political situation Republicans were in at the end of the October government shutdown, Obamacare's website catastrophe was the best thing that could have possibly happened for the GOP. The reversal of political fortunes in such a short time was enough to induce whiplash.

But today, it's looking more like delayed political payoff for Democrats from Obamacare, not destruction. For all the self-inflicted damage caused by websites that weren't ready for prime time, if the public's confidence can be restored in the system by seeing it work, even belatedly, that's a win for Democrats. In fact, the startup problems might even work to the long term advantage of Democrats, by lowering expectations which can then be met or exceeded.

The fact is, Democrats still have the upper hand in a debate over something that most everyone agrees is necessary. Unforced errors have extended the pain, but the ultimate goal hasn't changed. Even in the ugliest recent polling on health care reform, voters don't want it repealed–they want it to work. That's an advantage no amount of disparagement can overcome.

Unfair Advantage: Magpul PMAGs Used At Newtown

UPDATE: Credit where due: we'd like to acknowledge that our friend, media critic Jason Salzman, was asking prescient questions about the origin of the magazines used at Newtown as far back as last March.

—–

Magpul-limited-edition-mags
Magpul PMAG high capacity magazines.

A long-speculated and significant detail from the Newtown, Connecticut school shootings last December emerges today–and as reported by FOX 31's Eli Stokols, there's an important Colorado connection:

Adam Lanza, who went on a shooting rampage last December at Sandy Hook School in Newtown, Conn., carried out the killings using 30-round magazines made by Colorado’s Magpul Industries, according to a 48-page report released Monday.

Lanza used the company’s best-known “PMAG” (polymer magazine), a 30-round cartridge, to kill 26 people, including 20 first graders, the report said.

Colorado lawmakers this year passed five bills aimed at strengthening the state’s gun laws, including a measure that bans the PMAG and any magazine of 15 rounds or more.  Lawmakers cited the Sandy Hook shooting as a partial motivation for the laws.

Magpul, which is based in Erie, fought hard to stop the proposal, even threatening to leave the state should it pass (the measure became law in May and, as of November, Magpul has not yet moved although the company said it’s still planning it).

Here's the report in question from the Connecticut Division of Criminal Justice. Search the document for the word "PMAG" to read about the high capacity magazines found in the possession of the Sandy Hook shooter Adam Lanza.

sandyhookmurderweapon
Bushmaster AR-15 assault rifle used in Sandy Hook Elementary shootings, with Magpul PMAG magazine.

As one of the more popular brands of high capacity AR-15-type magazines available, it has long been a suspicion that the magazines used at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut last December were made in Colorado by Magpul Industries, Inc. As Stokols reports, Magpul led the fight to stop the passage of House Bill 1224, legislation limiting the capacity of magazines sold in Colorado to a maximum of fifteen rounds. Magpul had threatened to leave the state if HB-1224 passed, but as of this month has controversially failed to do so. It's worth noting that HB-1224 wouldn't have prevented Magpul from manufacturing its high capacity PMAGs in Colorado–just their retail sale here. In Connecticut after the Newtown shooting, legislation passed this year limited magazine capacity to ten rounds.

We'll put the question to our readers: will confirmation that the high capacity magazines used to gun down over two dozen people, mostly little kids, at Sandy Hook Elementary last year were made in Colorado by Magpul, alter the debate over gun safety legislation in Colorado? Do you think it should? Whichever side you come down on the issue, this is a development that requires a rational answer one way or the other.

And maybe before that, some soul searching.

Confirmed: The “Hunter Boycott” That Never Happened

As it turns out...

As it turns out…

Scott Willoughby writes for the Denver Post this past weekend:

Colorado attracted national attention and threats of a hunting boycott last spring after Gov. John Hickenlooper signed a trio of gun laws restricting magazine capacity to 15 rounds and mandating background checks, paid by the purchaser, on most gun sales. The controversial bills were approved by the state legislature shortly before the big game application deadline, generating concerns over a potential decrease in demand for limited licenses in the state's premier hunting units.

Instead, the state's big game limited license applications increased by 17,000, or 4 percent, over the 2012 figures, totaling nearly 469,000. The increase in demand apparently was reflected in unlimited over-the-counter sales during the second and third rifle seasons this fall. With the largest elk herd in the nation, Colorado is the only state that offers an unlimited number of over-the-counter bull elk licenses to out-of-state hunters.

"If you want to go elk hunting, you are going to come here," said Eric Whirley, owner of Action Taxidermy in Gypsum, adding that his business was the best it has been since opening nine years ago. "We get a lot of out-of-state repeat business, a lot of the same groups of guys come back every year. We saw the same faces this year. You aren't going to Michigan to go elk hunting because Colorado changed a law."

Back in April, we took note of a revealing budget appropriation proposed during debate over this year's "Long Bill" by GOP Rep. Bob Rankin. Rankin unsuccessfully sought $1 million to fund a PR campaign by the Colorado Tourism Office, to dispel "myths" about Colorado's new gun laws Rankin believed threatened to harm tourism in the state over the summer and upcoming hunting season. As we noted at the time, many of the "myths" Rankin was concerned about originated with his fellow Republican legislators during the debate over the bills. Sen. Kevin Lundberg claimed that the bill limit magazine capacity to 15 rounds would "ban all magazines." Sen. Kent Lambert flat-out claimed the bills had "banned gun ownership," and predicted they would lead to guns being "confiscated or taken away here over the next couple of years."

Before you laugh dismissively, consider the fact that these absurd allegations had, and continue to have, a real impact on a large segment of voters. Evidence for this is everywhere, not least in polling showing that Coloradans hate "gun control," but support the gun control legislation that was actually passed by the Democratic-controlled Colorado General Assembly this year. The gap between fiction and reality is as wide in the Colorado gun debate as any issue we have ever seen in modern politics, and when you consider the prevalent misinformation on issues like Obamacare, that's saying a lot. So far, no preponderance of facts has been able to slow the momentum of the gun lobby, which is now focused on recalling a third Democratic Senator over legislation that actually enjoys broad support. If nothing else, this is another demonstration of the "reality gap" we're talking about.

But as we now know, the campaign of misinformation did not deter hunters from traveling to Colorado. We're not surprised. For one thing, it was reported back in June that hunting license applications had surged instead of declining. Some of our readers suggested that "reverse psychology" may have been at work, with hunters anticipating a boycott by others sought easy pickings that never materialized. Regardless, the bottom line is that a sane examination of the new laws makes it clear they don't impede hunting in Colorado one bit. And hunters who don't fall in the Rocky Mountain Gun Owners angry activist demographic were able to figure this out despite the ludicrous warnings spewing from the mouths of Republican lawmakers.

Hickenlooper Responds Poorly To Local Fracking Ban Wins

Gov. John Hickenlooper.

Gov. John Hickenlooper.

As the Colorado Independent's John Tomasic reports:

Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper says he understands citizen concerns about neighborhood gas drilling but maintains that passing local laws restricting the activity is the wrong way to address the problem.

“The fracking ban votes reflect the genuine anxiety and concern of having an industrial process close to neighborhoods,” Hickenlooper said in an email to the Independent. “Yet local fracking bans essentially deprive people of their legal rights to access the property they own. Our state Constitution protects these rights.

“A framework exists for local communities to work collaboratively with state regulators and the energy industry. We all share the same desire of keeping communities safe.

“These bans may or may not result in new legal challenges from mineral rights holders, individual companies or others. No matter what happens we won’t stop working with local governments and supporting regulations that can be a national model for protecting public health and safety.”

Our view: the political balance between the need to produce energy and the desire by local communities to protect health and safety depends on trust. Gov. John Hickenlooper's problem is that he has lost a good deal of that trust since taking office, and to the extent that his objective as governor was to "make peace" between the energy industry and his fellow Democrats, he has failed. At this point, Hickenlooper has been pigeonholed by his own statements and actions as an unreasonably, and on occasion deceptively, pro-industry governor.

The people who worked to pass the moratoriums on fracking will not be encouraged by this latest statement. Hickenlooper's first words in response to the success of these local bans should not be in defense of the oil industry's "property rights." We're honestly surprised to see such persistent tone-deafness from Hickenlooper on this issue. He risks perpetuating the disaffection with base Democrats sensitive to this issue, a problem that began the first time he claimed to have "drank frack fluid," going into an election year. Subsequent gaffes involving top staffers have strongly reinforced this perception. He could try to fix the problem if he didn't all-but-ignore the concerns of local residents in every statement he gives; Hick always talks about mineral rights, completely glossing over the concern about having a "right" to feel safe from environmental harm in your own house.

With Colorado politics maybe more polarized than ever, Hickenlooper needs the Democratic base. He cannot count on transpartisan charm to win re-election in 2014. With a weak field of GOP opponents but an energized GOP base fired up to vote against him, Hickenlooper's electoral future is with his fellow Democrats, the same people he keeps alienating with his own "folksy" arrogance on this issue. And don't take our word for it: the polling data clearly indicates as much.

It's why we believe the biggest threat to John Hickenlooper's re-election is John Hickenlooper.

GOP 2016 Denver? Come On Down!

denver2016gop

As the Denver Post's Allison Sherry was first to report:

The Colorado GOP is preparing to make a bid for Denver to host the 2016 Republican National Convention — potentially delivering the state a repeat of the economic boost it received when it hosted the Democratic National Convention five years ago…

In addition to Denver's already proven record at hosting the massive four-day international event that draws roughly 50,000 visitors, a 2016 GOP convention in Denver would be apropos, [Colorado GOP chairman Ryan] Call said, because it will be "bookends of eight years of an Obama regime."

"A Republican convention in Denver will not feature Greek columns at Mile High Stadium," Call said, referring to the stage built in 2008 for President Barack Obama's acceptance speech. "But it will showcase the issues important to the West and to America."

CBS4's Shaun Boyd:

The GOP leaders believe Denver has a good shot at landing the convention since the cityhas experience with such an event. Denver hosted the 2008 Democratic National Convention where then-Presidential candidate Barack Obama received the party nomination.

Most Denver residents have fond memories of the 2008 Democratic National Convention held at the Pepsi Center in downtown Denver, despite the inevitable inconvenience of hosting such a major event in the middle of a functioning metropolis. A report not long after the 2008 convention showed an economic benefit to the Denver metro area of some $266 million from the Democratic convention, and there's every reason to believe Republicans coming to town in 2016 would be similarly great for the local economy.

Whatever your choice of party may be, at a certain level, a party is a party.

Still No CREDibility

At Western Values Project, we understand the importance of oil and gas development not only in Colorado, but also across the West. We also understand that we all use energy in our daily lives. Yet one thing remains confusing. Safeguards for our air, water, communities, and families seem like logical steps our government and industry can take to mitigate the environmental impacts of oil and gas development.  But at nearly every turn, it seems industry and their apologist’s intentionally mislead the public, and ignore calls for greater transparency into their operations.

Take for example a recent mailer to Coloradans from the industry led and paid for front group Citizens for Responsible Energy Development (CRED) as case and point.  CRED recently sent out a paid mailer, which claims that industry has been fracking safely for 60 years. Yet the facts don't support this claim.

Image (688)

So far in 2013, the oil and gas industry in Colorado has averaged one spill a day related to drilling and fracking. Of these daily spills, on average one spill per week has contaminated groundwater – nearly 25 percent of all spills led to water contamination.

Last year, Colorado's oil and gas industry reported 402 spills related to drilling and fracking – of which 20 percent (or 85 spills) contaminated groundwater. Not to mention the huge spill into Parachute Creek  – 10,000 gallons of gas and waste – which contaminated nearby water and soil with benzene, a known cancer causing chemical.

In addition to water pollution, a recent report found that fracking poses health risks from air pollution – to people living within 1/2 mile from drilling sites.

CRED's mailer also claims that fracking requires a tiny amount of water resources. Once again the facts don't support their propaganda. According to an analysis from an independent nonprofit, annual fracking in Colorado requires enough water to supply a city up to the size of Cincinnati, Ohio or Ft. Collins, Colorado.

CRED's mailer also failed to mention that once water has been used for fracking it's too polluted to ever be reused. Yet, almost all of household use water is put back into streams or reused.

The industry front group's mailer also says that fracking fluids include chemicals "similar to those in your household, under your sink, in your backyard or in the garage." Once again, the industry seems to be swapping out fact for fiction. In 2008, an ER nurse in Durango was exposed to a worker who'd come into contact with fracking chemicals - and subsequently suffered liver, heart and lung failure, spending 30 hours in the intensive care unit.

We're willing to bet that most Coloradans don't keep frack-like chemicals on hand that can cause heart, liver and lung failure.

CRED's un-credible mailer is an unfortunate example of the billion-dollar oil and gas industry's bottom line – putting the health and safety of Colorado families and communities at risk for the sake of their profit margins.

Energy development is and will no doubt continue to play an important role in the Colorado economy.  But one thing is clear, reasonable safeguards for our air, water, and communities are not barriers to doing business; rather those very safeguards are the responsible things to do for the communities the oil and gas industry operates and lives in. Until CRED understands that, Coloradans will remain skeptical.

Tipton: “I Never Voted To Shut Down Government”

WEDNESDAY UPDATE: MSNBC's Steve Benen:

In this case, just about everything the audience member said was true. The dozens of repeal votes took place over more than six months, but when it comes to budget talks and the shutdown, the local voter got it right, and when Tipton said otherwise, the congressman was wrong. 
 
For that matter, it’s not “disingenuous” to be say Republican were “playing politics” when they shut down the government for no apparent reason, since that’s pretty much exactly what happened.
 
But just as important was Tipton saying, “I never voted to shut down government.” I emphasize this not just because the Colorado Republican is misleading the public, but also because I suspect this will be what nearly all House Republicans say over the next year, when they’re forced to defend their fiasco. [Pols emphasis]

—–

A brutal pair of town hall meetings held by Rep. Scott Tipton of Colorado recently illustrate the challenges for Republican members of Congress, after the last month's shutdown of the federal government for which the GOP has been overwhelmingly blamed by voters. Last week, we released video of Tipton's rocky Montrose town hall meeting one week ago last Saturday, in which angry constituents grilled Tipton on the shutdown, the Affordable Care Act, and proposed universal federal background checks for gun buyers.

Here's another clip of video from the same town hall tour, this one from the night before at Grand Junction City Hall. In this clip, a constituent challenges Tipton in some detail about the GOP-controlled House's intransigence with regard to budget negotiations, which led to the shutdown:

Here's a transcript of this memorable exchange:

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Is Buck ready to give up the debt ceiling fight, like Gardner is?

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

2010 GOP Senate nominee Ken Buck.

2010 GOP Senate nominee Ken Buck.

On KNUS radio last week, Rep. Cory Gardner was pressed on whether he'd try again to block an extension of the debt limit to stop Obamacare. His answer surprised me:

Gardner: "I don’t think threatening with the debt limit is a good idea. I think that has proven to not work."

Afternoon KNUS host Steve Kelley, who was interviewing Gardner, seemed to think Gardner should go down the debt-ceiling-government-shutdown road again, and not blink this time. So I thought Kelley would remind Gardner how fierce an advocate he'd been for using the debt ceiling in the past.

Kelley may not be a regular listener of KFKA's Amy Oliver Show, but I am, and I remember when Oliver asked him (on Jan. 8):

Oliver: I want to ask you Congressman, are you willing to vote no against a raise in the Debt Ceiling if it doesn’t include significant spending cuts? 

Gardner:  Well, “Absolutely,” is the answer to that.

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Video: Tipton Confronted By Constituents In Montrose

We finally got a few clips of video we received a few days ago posted (above) from Rep. Scott Tipton's raucous town hall meeting last Saturday in Montrose. As the Huffington Post reported Tuesday evening:

Shouts erupted at Rep. Scott Tipton's (R-Colo.) town hall in Montrose, Colo., on Saturday, according to the Montrose Daily Press, with the congressman facing heat for the government shutdown.

"You don't hold America hostage," one attendee yelled at the congressman.

Resident George Schupe added, "No more shutdown, no more de-funding."

Tipton called Obamacare "broken from the start" and told anecdotes of insurance costs increasing as a result of the law…

The event grew so heated that audience members turned on each other. Attendees pointed fingers at one another and shouted their disagreements, according to the Daily Press. At one point, a Tipton staffer stepped in to stop the shouting and remind constituents to be respectful.

The Montrose Daily Press story referenced by Huffington Post (unfortunately behind a paywall) contains a great deal of narration from this town hall meeting, a few memorable exchanges from which are captured in the video clips above. Saturday's crowd was mixed, but many in attendance we not buying Tipton's oft-repeated line that the various bills passed by the House to "fully fund government" ahead of this month's government shutdown were signs of "good faith." Tipton was visibly angered by the suggestion that those bills were unacceptable due to "strings attached" such as defunding the Affordable Care Act, launching into an angry tirade over the Senate's "unwillingness to negotiate." Tipton claimed that the closure of the World War II Memorial was an "intentional effort to create harm." A question on background checks for gun purchases was turned back from Tipton with a bit more compassion, but not an inch of ground given on an issue overwhelmingly popular with voters.

Perhaps most interesting is the end of the town hall meeting, which reportedly was at least fifteen minutes earlier than had originally been scheduled. It's quite possible that the relatively hostile crowd motivated Tipton's staff to extricate him ahead of schedule. In any case, as you can hear, that didn't sit well with some in the crowd either.

All told, very interesting reactions in this town hall to Tipton's talking points, and plenty here to reinforce polling that shows Tipton's electoral vulnerability in this swingable district has grown since the shutdown. And judging by his defensiveness on display, Tipton knows it.

GOP Too Extreme? CU’s “Conservative Thought” Prof Says No

Dr. Steven Hayward, CU's

Dr. Steven Hayward, CU

Sarah Kuta of the Boulder Daily Camera reports:

The University of Colorado's Steven Hayward says the Republican Party served Americans well when it pushed back against President Barack Obama and the Affordable Care Act.

"Is the Republican Party too extreme?" Hayward asked. "My answer is, 'I certainly hope so.' It may not have chosen the best tactics in recent weeks, but it's doing us a service in making a fight about these matters."

"A lot of liberals these days have contempt for our democratic form," Hayward said. "Many of them, if they could work their will, would throw out the Constitution entirely. But somehow it's the Republicans who are called extremists." [Pols emphasis]

Wow! And just so Steven Hayward, the University of Colorado's "visiting scholar in conservative thought and policy," is in no way misunderstood, the recent government shutdown/default drama in Washington is exactly the way the Founders intended our government to operate:

Hayward, who is teaching two classes this semester at CU, pointed to James Madison and his Federalist Papers, which he said more than 150 years ago correctly predicted the state of today's government.

"James Madison is saying, 'Of course we're going to have some really ugly fights like this.' So why the liberal freak-out [Pols emphasis] over our government operating exactly as Madison understood that it would?" Hayward said.

As readers know, we've taken a dim view of the years-long quest by University of Colorado President Bruce Benson to achieve "ideological balance" on the state's flagship university campus by recruiting politically conservative professors. With that in mind, we've defended the particular choice of Dr. Hayward for this position despite the fact that we consider the position itself needless and kind of silly. Whatever "affirmative action" may have been needed to bring Dr. Hayward to the CU campus, he is academically well qualified to be there.

But as for the argument Dr. Hayward making about Republicans and the recent shutdown, all we can say is that the public does not agree with his assessment. A recent poll shows that fully 77 percent of the public, including 3 out of 5 Republicans, disapprove of the GOP's handling of this latest round of budget negotiations. Hayward may be able to find some bit of rhetoric in the Federalist Papers to theoretically justify the GOP's recent fiscal brinkmanship, but the polls say he is arguing a minority opinion even among his fellow Republicans.

And with all due respect, that would seem to have limited educational value.

PPP: Tipton’s Vulnerability Grows Post-Shutdown

Rep. Scott Tipton (R).

Rep. Scott Tipton (R).

From Public Policy Polling's Jim Williams’ memo today:

A new round of post-shutdown polling shows that Democrats not only have anopportunity to take back the House of Representatives next year, but that they could win a sizable majority if voter anger over the shutdown carries into 2014.

Public Policy Polling has just completed surveys in an additional 25 GOP-held House districts, which means we have now surveyed a total of 61 such districts since the beginning of the government shutdown. The surveys were commissioned and paid for by MoveOn.org Political Action.

Republicans will likely find this third round of surveys to be the most alarming yet, given that the new results show substantial Republican vulnerability in many districts that were not even supposed to be close. Incumbent Republicans trail generic Democrats in 15 of the 25 districts we most recently surveyed. This means generic Democrats lead in 37 of 61 districts polled since the beginning of the government shutdown. Democrats only need to net 17 seats in order to retake the House.

In Colorado, this latest round of polling focused on Colorado's Third District, a perennially competitive battleground presently held by sophomore Rep. Scott Tipton. Here are the poll questions–Tipton enjoys a 28% approval rating, with 51% disapproving. A generic Democratic opponent leads Tipton 48-42%. 62% of CD-3 respondents say shutting down the federal government to stop health care reform was a bad idea. 53% of respondents say that Tipton's role in the recent shutdown controversy would make it less likely they would support him. And when respondents are asked again after the shutdown questions who they would support in CD-3, support for the generic Democrat rises to 50%.

Since the end (until January) of the government shutdown last week, pundit discussion has turned to the lasting political damage done to Republicans after their failure to achieve their goals. At this point, we don't know what the 2014 CD-3 race will look like, because there's no opponent. Prior to last week, Democrats were wholly preoccupied with the CD-6 race against Rep. Mike Coffman–and CD-3 had moved, at least for the present, to the back burner.

If this poll showing new opportunity after the GOP's shutdown fiasco is right, that's probably about to change.

“Obamaquester” No More!

The Washington Post’s David Fahrenthold reports:

[In summer 2011], the GOP and President Obama agreed to set caps on annual spending and to set in motion a bigger, broader budget cut: sequestration. This was a massive cut — $85 billion in the first year — spread across much of the federal government…

When the House GOP created a PowerPoint presentation titled “What We’ve Achieved,” these ­sequester-driven reductions in spending were trumpeted in the first slide. “For the first time since the Korean War, total federal spending has gone down for two years in a row,” the party declares, meaning fiscal 2012 and 2013. The spending cuts were also on the second slide. And the third. There were five slides total. (The other two focused on tax increases that might have happened, but didn’t.)

“It forced the spending curve downward,” Rep. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) said. “It actually made government and Washington, D.C., finally deal with what the American people have been dealing with, and that’s having to deal with less income and revenue.” [Pols emphasis]

The large across-the-board budget cuts mandated by the “sequester” provisions of the 2011 Budget Control Act, as Fahrenthold explains, were meant to be a “booby trap” to force both sides to negotiate over future budget reductions. The agreement to set up this negotiation “incentive” came after the last great budgetary impasse between President Barack Obama and House Republicans in 2011, which led to the first-ever downgrade of the nation’s credit rating and tremendous turmoil in financial markets.

Here’s Rep. Scott Tipton, similarly praising the sequester cuts locked in by this week’s deal:

Today’s agreement includes positive steps to extend responsible spending reforms, prevent a national default on nearly $17 trillion of U.S. debt, and reopen the government. It protects the economy and sets the stage for further budget negotiations to address our nation’s spending crisis. Our nation is facing a staggering national debt, and this plan continues to address the debt by extending sequester-level spending reforms. [Pols emphasis]

But just a few short months ago, Republicans were saying something very different.

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Surprised Magpul Hasn’t Left Colorado? Don’t Be

Colorado-based gun accessory maker Magpul.

Colorado-based gun accessory maker Magpul.

As the Boulder Daily Camera's John Aguilar reports:

State Rep. Lori Saine, R-Dacono, read from the floor of the Colorado House of Representatives a message from the CEO of Magpul Industries, the Erie-based weapons accessory maker, that his company would leave Colorado if the Legislature passed a measure banning the sale of magazines containing more than 15 rounds.

Saine gave that speech in February, the Legislature passed the magazine-limits bill in March, and Magpul announced in April that it had started making certain weapons accessories out of state. But on Thursday — a full six months after the company made its much-ballyhooed break from the Centennial State — the parking lot at Magpul's headquarters in Erie was filled with cars, and a receptionist greeted visitors in the front lobby.

The company's seeming inability to once and for all pull up stakes and exit Colorado has gone from a point of curiosity among gun enthusiasts, who loudly backed the company's decision half a year ago to move, to a source of annoyance that threatens to hurt Magpul's reputation and business.

Magpul's threats to leave the state of Colorado to protect the company's "principles" during the debate over House Bill 1224 were repeatedly invoked by Republican lawmakers as proof of the economic harm the legislation would do to the state. Since then, we've seen that the GOP-forecast "boycott" of hunters visiting from Colorado did not materialize, and all of the wacky "unintended consequences" of this law, and the new law requiring background checks for most gun sales, have been proven false.

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DSCC Hammers Buck, Hill For Shutdown Support

GOP Senate candidates Ken Buck and Owen Hill.

GOP Senate candidates Ken Buck and Owen Hill.

Perhaps in response to yesterday's ridiculous Denver Post story, attempting to characterize Colorado GOP Senate candidates as "outsiders" during the government shutdown controversy, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee renews the attack on Ken Buck and Owen Hill for their undeniable and explicit support of the Ted Cruz-led plot to coerce "Obamacare" into submission:

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