Don’t let 80,000 Coloradans down

The following is from Dr. Christine Gilroy of Colorado Health OP:

“I am writing to explain what you will see in the news in the next few days.

The feds have quietly been shutting down co-ops in other states over the last 3 months. New York and Nevada were most recent. I am speaking now, as they have since issued gag orders to these co-ops.

The reason these co-ops were closed was that they were successful in the Individual Market. New York had 200,000 members.

Start up insurance requires 3 years to build Risk Based Capital. Starting Co-ops required an initial start-up loan, the feds promised second year funds to Risk Based Capital, which they reneged on in the CROMNIBUS budget of 12/9/14.

They told us at the same time we could not accept Venture Capital loans or Angel Investor dollars that help other start-ups through their initial capitalization period.

The Feds also promised to support the new individual market for 2 years through Reinsurance of the Risk Corridors. This meant that insurance companies would be incentivized to take all comers through the exchanges, and more insurance companies would participate to dilute the risk.

Today they broke their promise to Colorado, and denied us the Risk Corridor funds we were promised. They offered 12%. This affects every company that participated in the individual exchanges, not just Colorado HealthOP. Colorado HealthOP only needed 35% risk payment, and would have required no further infusions of federal money to be profitable in 2016, and are currently on track to pay back our loans — with interest –before they were due.

Short-sighted partisan politics are harming the people of Colorado.

The ACA was successful in lowering individual health premiums throughout Colorado. The Colorado HealthOP is part of that.

Please, call your Congresspeople. 80,000 Coloradans rely on Colorado HealthOP to provide access to affordable care. Let’s make sure they keep their promises to the people of this state.

Super-Scary Anti-Bennet Iran Ad Parodied In Record Time

UPDATE: AP via the Colorado Springs Gazetteit looks like Advancing Colorado was fudging their buy number for dramatic effect, as if the ad wasn’t enough melodrama:

“With Washington Republicans lacking an opponent in the Colorado Senate race, it comes as no surprise that a secretly funded group with ties to the billionaire Koch brothers is out with a deeply offensive, fear-mongering attack against Sen. Bennet,” said Andrew Zucker, senior communications adviser at the Colorado Democratic Party.

Lockwood, who formerly ran the conservative billionaire Koch brothers’ Colorado young voter outreach organization, said Advancing Colorado is not funded by the Koch brothers, though he declined to disclose donors. He said the ad buy was six figures, including broadcast stations in Denver starting Tuesday, and online and digital. Democrats said the broadcast portion is only $46,000, which Lockwood didn’t dispute, making it a fairly small buy. [Pols emphasis]


Jonathan Lockwood of Advancing Colorado.

Jonathan Lockwood of Advancing Colorado.

A press release from well-funded conservative advocacy group Advancing Colorado this morning announces a “shocking” new ad, criticizing Sen. Michael Bennet for his support for the agreement with Iran to prevent that nation from developing nuclear weapons:

Today, Advancing Colorado launched a six-figure television advertising campaign to alert Coloradans to Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet’s support for the president’s Iran Deal. The launch follows Bennet repeatedly voting to block an up-or-down vote on the disapproval resolution.

The video sequence begins with children counting down from ten in their native languages. The children countdown in English, Hebrew, German, Spanish, Arabic, Italian, Russian, Chinese and Swedish. Then video of a mushroom cloud explosion cuts off the last child as she says, “one,” with intense sound effects and a lasting piercing noise, depicting a nuclear attack from the leading state sponsor of terror.

“A nuclear Iran is a threat to the entire world. Sen. Michael Bennet support’s Obama’s Iran Deal. Sen. Michael Bennet is jeopardizing our safety. Call Sen. Michael Bennet,” the ad declares, featuring Bennet’s DC office’s phone number. “Ask him, ‘Why?’”

It’s a shocking TV spot, for sure, but it’s hardy original: the sequence of cute kids counting followed by a loud, scary nuclear explosion is a direct homage to the infamous 1964 “Daisy” ad produced by Lyndon Johnson against Barry Goldwater. That these historically gripping visuals are being used to campaign against a peace agreement, as opposed to calling out Goldwater’s foreign policy belligerence, is rather Orwellian. For members of the public who know the underlying story of the Iran agreement, this ad could be an offensive backfire.

But that may not be the best part of the story: overnight, before this ad was announced to the public, we were sent a parody version with a request not to post it until Advancing Colorado’s ad was released–but as soon afterward as we could. Don’t ask us what happened here with Advancing Colorado’s internal production process, but the parody is truly hilarious if you’ve seen the original:


It helps if you’ve seen Terminator 2. As long as you have, this turns the six-digit scare into a bit of a punchline.

But don’t worry, folks, Advancing Colorado will “be back!” After all, they’re very well funded.

Anti-Iran Deal Resolution Dies, Local Republicans Get Nasty

Sen. Michael Bennet, President Barack Obama.

Sen. Michael Bennet, President Barack Obama.


In a significant win for White House, Senate Democrats Thursday blocked a Republican resolution of disapproval of the Iran nuclear deal from going to a final vote.

That means President Barack Obama won’t be forced to veto the legislation and drag out for several more weeks an ugly battle with the GOP-controlled Congress over the accord he has fought hard to secure.

The vote on the procedural motion to move to a final vote, which needed 60 votes to pass, failed 58 to 42.

Obama welcomed the outcome in a statement Thursday afternoon.

“This vote is a victory for diplomacy, for American national security, and for the safety and security of the world,” Obama said. “I am heartened that so many senators judged this deal on the merits, and am gratified by the strong support of lawmakers and citizens alike.”

Scary Iran graphic via the internets.

Scary Iran graphic via the internets.

One of the votes to kill the Republican disapproval motion against the nuclear weapons agreement with Iran was Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet. In an AP story yesterday, Bennet opened up about his personal deliberations over the deal, which made him one of the last Democratic Senators to come out in support–deliberations that were influenced at least in part by his own family history:

Bennet’s grandparents smuggled his mother, who was still a baby, out of the Warsaw Ghetto in Poland to escape the Nazis. They, too, had “everyone and everything they knew taken from them in the Holocaust,” Bennet said.

Both senators [Bennet and Ron Wyden] said the Iran deal is a flawed agreement with an adversary that has threatened both the United States and Israel. But both said they strongly believe the agreement offers the best hope of keeping Iran from getting a nuclear weapon.

“We live in dangerous times, and whether you support the agreement or not, we must develop a cohesive strategy for U.S. policy in the Middle East that addresses the grave security concerns in the region,” Bennet said. “We cannot allow Iran to acquire a nuclear weapon, and we must be crystal clear that we will use force to prevent it from doing so.”

In response to today’s vote, which effectively kills any chance Republicans had to even pass a resolution disapproving the Iran nuclear deal, let alone override a veto as they had hoped for only a month ago, local Republicans fired off a stupefying attack on Bennet–actually attempting to use his family’s history as victims of the Holocaust against him for this vote. Local blog Colorado Peak Politics penned what we must assume will be the new GOP line of attack on Bennet over the deal:

An Associated Press report yesterday noted that embattled U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet was one of two Senators supporting the Iran deal whose family members were victims of the Holocaust. It’s almost as if we are expected to excuse Bennet his bad policy decision that would empower Iran, which has threatened to obliterate Israel, because his family experienced the Holocaust.

Folks, attacking Sen. Bennet for supporting the Iran nuclear weapons deal because his mother is a Holocaust survivor is wildly, offensively inappropriate–and should be condemned across party lines. First of all, it’s opponents of this deal who have used and abused the Holocaust as a way to undermine support for it, not supporters. The likening of Iran to Nazi Germany has indeed been one of the most popular comparisons invoked by opponents of the deal. And again, it is Bennet’s family’s personal experience with the Holocaust that slowed Bennet’s decision, making him one of the final Democrats to come out in support of the agreement.

The deal is not perfect or all inclusive, but that could describe many hard-negotiated agreements that today we consider a success. Above all, this agreement is about reducing hostilities in the Middle East, not escalating them. Even if you disagree, can’t we at least be decent enough to keep Bennet’s mother out of it?

Then again, if this low blow is all opponents have left, maybe the debate is already over.

Tim Neville Wields a Mighty Wrench in Republican Senate Field

That's a big-ass wrench, Tim Neville.

That’s a big-ass wrench, Tim Neville.

The big (BIG) news today in Colorado politics is State Sen. Tim Neville embarking on a “listening tour” in preparation for a run for U.S. Senate in 2016. Considering the number of events — across the state — that Neville already has planned, it’s a safe bet that he’s already heard enough to convince him to seek the Republican nomination against incumbent Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Denver).

As we wrote earlier today when news was breaking about Neville’s likely candidacy, this is a decision that throws a giant wrench into the entire process by which Republicans had been trying (and failing) to recruit a top-tier Senate candidate for 2016.

Colorado political news in the last week has largely been focused on efforts by Republicans to recruit Arapahoe County District Attorney George Brauchler into the 2016 Senate race. Senator Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) is among those in the GOP publicly pushing for a Brauchler candidacy, as he told Politico on Tuesday:

“I think if he ran for the Senate, he’d be someone who a lot of Republicans could get behind — including myself,” said Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), who unseated Democratic Sen. Mark Udall in a hotly contested race last year. “I think there are a lot of people who are very interested in this race. I think a lot of them are waiting on George Brauchler.” [Pols emphasis]

Republicans have already been through 15-20 different names in their search for a 2016 Senate candidate, so there couldn’t have been a lot of people waiting on Brauchler. We started to hear over the last couple of days that Brauchler was not comfortable being pushed to make a decision on a Senate run after just concluding the Aurora Theater Shooting Trial, and now that Neville has signaled his intentions, Brauchler can bow out of the race without leaving Republicans searching for a candidate.

In fact, we’d go so far as to say that Brauchler probably should decline a Senate bid now that Neville is involved; beating Bennet in a General Election is a big feat in itself, but first beating Neville in a Republican Primary is another matter altogether. Brauchler can run for re-election as District Attorney in 2016 if he doesn’t chase a Senate seat, and then take his time in preparation for a 2018 run for Governor — which is what Brauchler really wants. This option is a no-brainer now that Brauchler can no longer count on a relatively-uncontested GOP Primary for Senate; Brauchler could lose to Neville in a Primary and not even keep his seat as District Attorney, and his political career would effectively be off the rails for years to come. A loss to Neville all but guarantees that Brauchler wouldn’t be able to mount a serious campaign for Governor two years later.

We’ve long thought that it was probably only a matter of time before somebody scratched out the math on a napkin and realized that Neville can win a Republican Primary. With heavy support in bellwether Jefferson County, and with his son, Rep. Patrick Neville, working Republicans in Douglas County, Neville has two of the most important (and largely-populated) counties in his pocket. Neville would almost certainly have the support of Rocky Mountain Gun Owners (RMGO) as well; he has a strong relationship with RMGO head Dudley Brown, and one of Neville’s sons works as RMGO’s political director. Finally, Neville is a darling of the religious right. Any way you look at it, Neville would be the frontrunner in a GOP Senate Primary, where he is far more likely than Brauchler to attract the support of the Tea Party groups and other reliable Republican supporters.

Can Neville beat Bennet in a General Election? That’s an analysis for another day. All that matters right now is that Neville can win a Republican Primary, and his presence may be enough to essentially clear the GOP field.


Bennet Leans “Yes” As Iran Deal Opposition Sputters

Sen. Michael Bennet, President Barack Obama.

Sen. Michael Bennet, President Barack Obama.


Critics of the Iran deal believed the August congressional recess was their best chance to scuttle the nuclear accord, as wavering lawmakers returned home to angry protesters and a barrage of TV ads. The longer the deal hung out there, they figured, the worse it would be for President Barack Obama.

Instead, the monthlong break has been a major bust…

The anti-deal side also enlisted prominent former lawmakers, like ex-Democratic Sens. Joe Lieberman and Mary Landrieu, to head up opposition groups, ginned up letters from retired military leaders and sent well-connected donors and activists to personally meet with Democrats still on the fence.

None of it has worked. Instead, a parade of House and Senate Democrats — even in red states — came out in favor of the deal. That eight-figure TV ad campaign has moved few, if any, Democratic lawmakers, and dovish groups like are experiencing a surprising victory.

Iranian Shahab missile.

Iranian Shahab missile.

Early in the month of August, the question being debated by the pundit class was whether President Barack Obama could marshal enough support for the “P5+1” nuclear weapons agreement with Iran to prevent an override of his veto of what everyone expected would be a motion of disapproval passed out of the GOP-controlled Congress.

Today, a veto override looks completely out of reach, and the question is now whether President Obama will have to veto anything. Key to that question is an undecided ally of Obama’s and Senator from Colorado, Michael Bennet–whose caution stems from being one of the only Democratic Senate seats needing protection in 2016, and may just now be getting comfortable with the idea of supporting the agreement as the opposition fizzles:

Iran deal opponents need only four of 14 undecided Democratic senators to put President Barack Obama in the awkward spot of vetoing an attempt to scuttle a crowning foreign policy achievement. That’s set off a complicated race between hawks and the White House to win over an eclectic group of senators, each with his or her own particular concerns…

The sole vulnerable Democratic senator up for reelection in 2016, Bennet faces an added layer of pressure that’s made him a prime target for both sides ahead of the Senate vote in September.

The first-term senator hinted this week he’s leaning “yes.”

“I have come to the conclusion that there is not a better deal available,” he said at an energy event in Denver, though he added he’s still making up his mind. “We are faced with a lot of bad choices now because we eliminated a lot of choices along the way.”

Bennet’s slow arrival at support for the Iran nuclear agreement may not go down as a profile in courage, but it’s very important to the White House’s whip count going into any vote on a resolution to disapprove the treaty. Even as opponents to this agreement have dramatically ramped up the scare tactics through the August recess, warning in hyperbolic terms of the risks of negotiating with Iran, they have failed to develop the kind of meaningful pressure to either peel off supporters of the deal or turn a sufficient number of undecided lawmakers into opponents.

In the end, if Congress can’t even pass a bill disapproving the Iran treaty, let alone override its inevitable veto, the extreme fearmongering rhetoric used to oppose it is going to look awfully silly. And they’ll have no one to blame but themselves. By failing to stoke enough opposition to kill the deal, and also failing to offer any alternative beyond the broken status quo or war against Iran, the treaty’s mostly Republican opponents have made themselves irrelevant to the final outcome.

Enviros Back Bennet, Because Obviously

Sen. Michael Bennet at Chimney Rock National Monument.

Sen. Michael Bennet at Chimney Rock National Monument.

A press release from the League of Conservation Voters Action Fund today announces that group’s and the National Resources Defense Council Action Fund’s endorsement of Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet for re-election in 2015:

The League of Conservation Voters Action Fund (LCVAF) and National Resources Defense Council Action Fund (NRDC) announced their endorsements of Sen. Michael Bennet’s re-election today, lauding his work to address climate change, protect the environment, champion renewable energy and protect Colorado’s natural treasures.

“Senator Michael Bennet has been a champion when it comes to tackling climate change and protecting our environment, and we are excited to support his re-election,” said Tiernan Sittenfeld, LCVAF Senior Vice President for Government Affairs. “Michael has fought for clean air and water, worked to protect Colorado’s natural treasures like the Hermosa Creek Watershed from drilling, and led efforts to increase renewable energy. Earlier this spring, during the Senate’s budget debate, he elevated the economic and national security threats posed by climate change and the need for action. We know Michael will continue to fight for our environment as Colorado’s Senator for years to come, and we look forward to continuing to work with him.”

“We’ve known Senator Michael Bennet for years, and there’s no doubt that he’ll continue the fight against climate change and be a leader working with us to protect the environment and our natural resources,” said Heather Taylor-Miesle, Director of the NRDC Action Fund. “Michael is a clean air hero who has fought against efforts to gut the Clean Air Act. He has led bipartisan efforts to protect the Hermosa Creek Watershed, Chimney Rock and Browns Canyon, and even passed amendments to make the fight against global climate a national security priority. We are proud to support his re-election.”

As the Denver Post’s John Frank reports, and we’re obliged to note having covered it in this space, Sen. Bennet’s environmental credentials are not without a few caveats:

Bennet’s support of the Keystone XL pipeline — a litmus test for ardent environmentalists — led to protests at his campaign kickoff fundraiser in March featuring a sign that read, “We don’t vote for fossil fuel politicians.” And eco-activists also demonstrated against Bennet for his support of a major trade deal in May.

The two big endorsements may help reassure environmentalists about Bennet’s credentials — even if they are unlikely to satisfy all the green activists in the Democratic Party. It also is a reflection that no major alternative — Democrat or Republican — has emerged to challenge Bennet so far.

Despite the disappointment many environmentalists rightly expressed over Bennet’s votes–in the end meaningless votes–for the Keystone XL pipeline, he has a number of actions to point to as positives on this issue as well. Bennet’s spouse Susan Daggett, a longtime former attorney for the environmental legal group Earthjustice, also helps refute the idea that Bennet is soft on the environment.

But above all, there is simply no alternative to Bennet in the mix now or likely to emerge who will be better on environmental issues than he is, and that’s why he got these endorsements so early in the race. In the absence of a strong GOP challenger, we fully expect Republicans to use votes like Keystone to drive a wedge within the Democratic coalition and weaken Bennet as much as possible. We would do the same in their situation out of sheer political expediency.

These early endorsements from credible, national environmental advocacy groups should help nip that in the proverbial bud.

Cory Gardner makes lede from Koch Brothers Confab

This is why Michael Bennet should distance himself from Colorado‘s junior senator:

Your Betters get together to save the Little People from themselves

by digby

The Koch pageant is in full effect:

Koch, speaking on a low stage in front of an elaborately manicured lawn at the St. Regis Monarch Beach luxury resort, warned about 450 assembled donors and a slew of Republican elected officials – including Sens. Cory Gardner, Mike Lee, Ben Sasse and Dan Sullivan – of a “life or death struggle for our country.”

“One of the things I ask you to think about over this weekend is will you stand together with us to help save our country. It can’t be done without you and many, many others,” said Koch, who seldom speaks in the presence of reporters.

This address was to a group of multi- millionaires and billionaires who have come together to decide on which of the candidates to spend the almost 1 billion the Kochs plan to raise to buy themselves the presidency— er….”save our country.”

Now I know Michael Bennet doesn’t know how to act “the Democrat”. Though, damned if he doesn’t try. Given that, it should be more than obvious to him, and his advisors, and his supporters, and even those that may vote for him that he shouldn’t try to be Gardner-lite or any such thing that could be thought of a resembling any number of Koch whores.

If he can’t figure this out, then he’s even dumber than he looks.

UPDATE: Trump calls out the moneygrubbers. Heh.

How The Hell Can You Oppose This Bill?

The Schlagetters.

The Schlagetters.

The Colorado Independent’s Nat Stein reports on legislation co-sponsored by Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet, along with Reps. Ed Perlmutter and Jared Polis in the House:

Sen. Michael Bennet joined 21 other senators to introduce a bill on Monday that would reinstate honor for the estimated 100,000 military service members discharged since World War II for their sexual orientation or gender identity. The Restore Honor to Service Members Act has 97 co-sponsors in the House version, including Democrats Reps. Jared Polis and Ed Perlmutter. An identical bill failed along party lines last session.

Before the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” in 2010, service members outed as LGBT were forced out of the military with the status of “other than honorable,” “general discharge” or “dishonorable,” depending on the situation. Without honor, these veterans don’t have access to certain benefits they earned, such as health care, the GI bill and military burial. An other-than-honorable-discharge status is treated as a felony in some states, making it impossible to vote and nearly impossible to find employment.

“‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ was a backward looking policy that undermined our national security and stood contrary to our national values,” Sen. Bennet said in a release. “It’s time to take steps that will help ensure these men and women receive the benefits they rightfully earned.”

The bill would correct the record by forcing the Department of Defense to remove mention of sexual orientation from discharge, reissue personnel records and hear oral testimony from people who experienced discrimination in the military. The move is more than symbolic — it would legally restore the rights that LGBT veterans have been denied.

With the end of the military’s much-reviled “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Policy,” along with changes in civilian law like the recent Supreme Court ruling striking down bans on same-sex marriage in the states, restoring/upgrading the discharge status of thousands of military members who were discharged over the years due to their sexual orientation seems like a no-brainer. We would compare such an action to the government’s apologies to segregated minority servicemen, or even Japanese internees–all similarly victims of past discriminatory policies that have now been repudiated. Of course we should do this.

Unfortunately, this measure by all accounts has very little chance of passage in the fully GOP-controlled Congress. Without at least a few Republican Senators willing to buck prejudice within their party and help move this bill forward, it remains what seems like a no-brainer, but in the present reality is a nonstarter.

And despite everything LGBT Americans have to celebrate today, that really sucks.

Get More Smarter on Tuesday (July 14)

MoreSmarterLogo-300x218Forget sanctions — we should just threaten Iran with more letters from Congress. Let’s 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).



► The United States and a handful of other world powers have agreed on a plan regarding sanctions on Iran and its nuclear weapons program. From Politico:

The United States and five other world powers have reached a deal with Iran that would place strict limits on Tehran’s nuclear program in return for ending sanctions on its economy, the culmination of years of delicate diplomacy pursued by President Barack Obama despite warnings the agreement could strengthen Iran’s Islamist regime and leave it dangerously close to a nuclear bomb.

The historic accord, reached by Secretary of State John Kerry and his international counterparts in Vienna on Tuesday after 18 days of intense negotiations, now faces review from a hostile Republican-led Congress, opposition from every GOP presidential candidate, from Israel’s government and from Sunni Arab monarchs. The deal’s long and complex implementation process also leaves it vulnerable to unraveling.

Warm up the printers! Congressional Republicans should be busy drafting new letters to send to Iran.

► It should come as little surprise that former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush was the top overall fundraiser among Republican Presidential contenders during the first six months of 2015, but you’ll never guess who checked in at number two: Texas Sen. Ted Cruz is the top non-Bush fundraiser in the GOP field.


Get even more smarter after the jump…



Bennet Raises Another $2 Million, Warchest at $4.3 Million

Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Denver)

Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Denver)

Colorado Republicans have had a difficult time trying to recruit a candidate to challenge incumbent Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet in 2016, a task that grows more difficult by the day. As Lynn Bartels reports for the Denver Post, Bennet raised $2 million for his re-election for the second straight quarter and is now sitting on a warchest of more than $4.3 million.

Optimistic Republicans like to point to the fact that Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) defeated Democrat Mark Udall in 2014 despite waiting until the end of February to launch his campaign, but that’s more footnote than foreshadowing when it comes to 2016. Bennet has a well-deserved reputation as one of the top fundraisers in Congress, but it’s still an impressive feat even when you know it’s coming.




You’re the Next Contestant on “Somebody Please Run for U.S. Senate”

Republicans are trying to recruit former Solicitor General Dan Domenico to run for Senate in 2016.

Republican Dan Domenico.

Dan Domenico, come on down!

Republicans continue their search for a decent candidate for U.S. Senate against incumbent Democrat Michael Bennet in 2016, and they appear to have narrowed their recruitment efforts — for the time being, at least — on the former Solicitor General under Attorney General John Suthers. 

Domenico is not well-known outside of small political circles, but Republicans think he could be a decent candidate to challenge Bennet’s re-election efforts after the GOP’s top tier — and second and third tier — took a pass on 2016 (sorry, Greg Lopez and Darryl Glenn, but you’re still a few levels down on the list).

Domenico has been rumored as a potential candidate in the past, and with few other options on the board, he just might be the next-best name for Republicans. Domenico has a good resume, no voting record to exploit, and is pretty photogenic; perhaps more importantly, his wife is a professional fundraiser who could help ease the financial burdens facing Republicans as they try to hold onto control of the U.S. Senate in a tough election year (Domenico’s wife is currently helping to raise money for GOP Presidential hopeful Carly Fiorina).

The downside to Domenico as a candidate is his background with the Colorado Attorney General’s Office, where he took the lead on arguing Colorado’s case against allowing same-sex marriage in our state. This wouldn’t have been as much of a strategic concern as recently as last year, but 2016 is definitely not the year to be running for office as a noted opponent of same-sex marriage.

That’s not the only wrinkle to a potential Domenico campaign for Senate, however. If Attorney General Cynthia Coffman ends up leaving office early because of the Coffmangate scandal, which we continue to hear is not unlikely, Domenico is probably the GOP’s best candidate to put forward as her replacement. Would Domencio really roll the dice on a Senate campaign now that the AG’s office may suddenly open up for another Republican candidate? Domenico spent the last few years working under former Attorney General John Suthers, and we hear that the AG’s office would be his preference if he had the option.

On the other hand, if Domenico has ever considered running for federal office, this is probably the best opportunity he’s ever going to have; if Domenico doesn’t jump at the race in 2016, he’ll have to wait until at least the year 2022 because Republican Sen. Cory Gardner is up for re-election in 2020. The odds are slim that Domenico might still be in a position to be wooed by Republicans in another six years.

Republicans Find Senate Candidate Willing to Run in 2016…Sort Of

Greg Lopez, apparently.

Greg Lopez, apparently.

UPDATE: Longtime Colorado politicos may remember that Lopez ran for State Senate (SD-30) back in 2000 and lost to John Evans after a pretty meek campaign.


Republicans have unearthed another candidate for U.S. Senate in 2016, as Lynn Bartels reports for the Denver Post blog “The Spot”:

Greg Lopez, the former director of the Small Business Administration in Colorado, announced Monday he plans to run for the Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate.

Lopez said he’s not worried that other Republicans, including U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman of Aurora and state Sen. Ellen Roberts of Durango, have already said “no” to challenging Democratic U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet next year.

A former Mayor of Parker, Lopez tells Bartels that “His Democratic friends have told him they would back him publicly and financially if he ran for office,” though we can’t imagine those friends ever thought Lopez might run for United States Senate. Lopez is bilingual and has served 10 years on the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce, and along with his time with he SBA, he has an interesting resume…on paper.

Lopez is probably a better Republican candidate than Darryl Glenn — though that isn’t a very high bar to clear — but he’s certainly not a game-changer who will pose a serious threat to Democratic incumbent Sen. Michael Bennet. Put it this way: If your campaign announcement for Senate is only picked up by the political blog of the Denver Post, you’re obviously not generating a lot of buzz or excitement.

It also doesn’t help Lopez that he left the U.S. Small Business Administration in April 2014 “because of clashes with his bosses in Washington over the Veterans Administration hospital project in Aurora that was beset by cost overruns…” Being involved in the mess that is the VA Hospital project in Aurora should be a big bonus!

Beer Wars: Coal, Water, Smelt, and the Great Beer Boycott of 2015

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Forget about buying New Belgium Craft Beer in Craig, Colorado. Most of the liquor stores, and some of the bars, just aren’t selling it anymore. The boycott is a reaction to New Belgium’s support of the work of the Wild Earth Guardians (WEG). WEG has successfully promoted an environmental lawsuit halting expansion of the ColoWyo coal mine in Moffat County near Craig, and some local coal miners fear that their livelihoods will be sacrificed for an environmental cause or an endangered species. In an article in the Craig Daily Press, Lori Gillam, an owner of Stockmen’s Liquor store, said, “We pulled those beers because their support of WildEarth Guardians… who said their ultimate goal is to shut down coal mines. Craig is a coal mine town.”

These fears are being relentlessly inflamed in the right wing blogosphere, and on right wing talk radio. On June 9 and 10, Ken Clark’s Freedom 360 show was all about the so-called “War on Coal” in Craig, Colorado. 

New Belgian Beers on Tap

New Belgium Beers on tap, from National Journal article by Matt Berman. Photo by Quan Ha



“They’re coming after Colorado!,” Ken Clark breathlessly reported at 8:39 minutes into his 6/9/15 Freedom 560 show. From 5:23 to 8:20, Clark made the following statements about Wild Earth Guardians:

  “These are the same folks that created all this havoc in California. [They] .. are the whack jobs that shut down all of the irrigation to these farmlands in order to protect that smelt, that fish. . . They pretty much killed California and their farm production.  Fresno County – the unemployment rate’s 47%. These are the same guys. . . .They have set their sights on Colorado. They are coming here.  And now they’re coming after us.” 


Factually, Clark is just plain wrong here, although he wisely left wiggle room by saying that his “friend told him so”, and he plans to “check it out”. Fresno’s unemployment rate in 2014 was 11%, not 47%. California is obviously suffering from drought, and farmers, tourists, developers, businesses, and wildlife are all struggling and negotiating for the use of the same diminishing pool of potable water. The only reference to environmental regulations and fish in the Fresno Bee article was the mention of how water is being kept in Lake Shasta to keep  salmon and trout alive. 


Taking The Sting Out Of The Next Government Shutdown?

Photo via the Wilderness Society

Photo via the Wilderness Society

As the Durango Herald’s Mariam Baksh reports, Colorado Rep. Scott Tipton (R) is teaming up with Sen. Michael Bennet (D) to get our state reimbursed for the costs of keeping economically vital national parks open during the 2013 shutdown of the federal government–a shutdown, as you’ll recall, instigated by Republicans in an attempt to force the repeal of the Affordable Care Act:

During the 2013 government shutdown, Colorado used its own funds to keep its national parks open.

Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., and Rep. Scott Tipton, R-Cortez, agree that Colorado should get this money back from the federal government…

Colorado spent about $367,000 keeping Rocky Mountain National Park open.

Colorado would receive its share of the $2 million [Sen. Jeff] Flake is proposing the Department of Interior return to the states that gave money to the agency to keep national parks open.

GOP Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona was a consistent opponent of shutting down the government over Obamacare in 2013, which makes sense given the enormous importance of federally-funded tourism destinations like the Grand Canyon are to his state. Here in Colorado, most Republicans initially embraced the shutdown, or at most half-heartedly claimed to not like it while voting to make it happen. That includes Rep. Scott Tipton as well as now-Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado, who since being elected to the Senate has generally supported proposals that would make government shutdowns harder–a sign that perhaps Gardner learned a lesson from the lasting political fallout for the GOP after the 2013 shutdown.

Tipton co-sponsored a bill that then-Rep. Cory Gardner introduced that would require the Department of Interior to return money to states that used their own budgets to keep federal parks open.

Rep. Cory Gardner (R).

Rep. Cory Gardner (R).

Is there any responsible lawmaker who would oppose repaying states for funds spent keeping national parks open during the 2013 shutdown? We’d assume not. But the easy question of whether to make states whole for their shutdown expenditures sidesteps the original question of responsibility for the shutdown. In 2013, the public lopsidedly blamed the GOP, though many voters would be hard pressed to remember the details today. But at least until Barack Obama leaves office, the dynamic of future fiscal debates, and potential government shutdowns, will be driven by congressional Republicans choosing to instigate one. Republicans led by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell have said there would be no more shutdowns, at least implicitly citing the political damage caused by the last one. But if they were to succeed in taking the sting out of a future shutdown, would that promise hold up?

And the question remains: is this kind of dysfunctional brinksmanship any way to do business?

Bennet said he supports the U.S. Department of Interior giving money back to the states, but he takes issue with legislation aimed at mitigating the effects of a future shutdown when lawmakers should instead be focused on passing appropriations bills that fund the entire government and avoid a shutdown to begin with.

It seems to us that anything that would mitigate the impact of a shutdown, especially while allowing so many other functions of government to come to a halt as this limited proposal would, is basically guaranteed to increase the chances of another harmful shutdown. Without serious consequences for everyone responsible, there is no reason for the brinksmanship that has typified recent budget standoffs to be resolved. Every such consequence therefore becomes leverage to bring both sides to the bargaining table, and a reality check against unreasonable obstruction by factional interests on either side.

With all that in mind, yes, give our state back the money. But don’t make the next shutdown less painful.

Instead, let’s just not have any more shutdowns.

Get More Smarter on Monday (June 8)

Get More SmarterThis doesn’t seem very fast to us. 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).



► Senator Michael Bennet (D-Denver) is pushing for a major overhaul of campaign finance reform. We all know that campaign finance laws are pretty useless at the moment — hell, GOP Presidential contender Jeb Bush has been openly breaking the law for months.

► The Veterans Administration is promoting a new plan to help pay for completion of the Aurora VA Hospital. A three-week extension on funding construction is set to expire this week.

► The deadline for Gov. John Hickenlooper to veto legislation from the 2015 Colorado Assembly came and went on Friday with no new vetoes. Hickenlooper vetoed three bills from the prior session: two red-light camera restriction bills, and nonsense legislation that would have allowed predatory lenders to drastically increase interest rates. Good on ya, Gov.

Get even more smarter after the jump…