Those Wacky GOP Candidates – Where Are They Now?

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Colorado's Republican party has put up some rather entertaining candidates for the state legislature this year, and I just had to post some updates on them.

Nate Marshall posted an official withdrawal from the HD23 race on April 9, after being exposed as an active white supremacist. However, his campaign committee is still active. Is he hoping the outrage will die down? Marshall's latest post on his Facebook page links to an article positing that liberals are "purging Christians". Huh?

Right now, it appears that  Max Tyler won't have an opponent in HD23, as the committee of the other GOP candidate, Christopher Hadsall, is inactive.

 

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Coffman To Minority Language Voters: “Pull Out a Dictionary”

Rep. Mike Coffman (R-CO), left, with anti-immigrant Rep. Steve King (R-IA).

Rep. Mike Coffman (R-CO), left, with anti-immigrant Rep. Steve King (R-IA).

​Rep. Mike Coffman has spent a great deal of time in recent months "reaching out" to the many ethnic groups in the new Sixth Congressional District, working hard to burnish his credentials with Asian and African immigrants in addition to his now-famous reversals on immigration policy–all directly intended to appease the large percentage of immigrant and ethnic minority voters in his district.

But as we've explored at length since Coffman began his transformation from Tom Tancredo's firebrand successor to embattled incumbent desperately trying to win over constituencies he routinely disparaged before redistricting, Coffman wasn't always such a nice guy to immigrants–especially where it concerns duties of citizenship like voting rights. Back in the summer of 2011, "Old Coffman" actually proposed the repeal of a section of the federal Voting Rights Act that requires bilingual ballots be distributed to qualifying minority language populations.

It's hard to imagine today's Mike Coffman seriously proposing to repeal part of the Voting Rights Act to make it harder for some of the very same immigrant communities he's courting today to vote, but in 2011, Coffman defended his "cost saving" proposal in surprisingly blunt terms. Here's a video clip from Spanish-language Univision News where Coffman explains his 2011 position–with translation below:

OLIVIA MENDOZA: To me, this is a big step backward. 
 
DANIEL TUCCIO: Disagreement was to be expected by pro immigrant rights advocacy groups  who are angry over the Congressman's position.
 
MIKE COFFMAN: One thing they ought to do is pull out a dictionary when they are at home, because the ballots have been sent to them a long time in advance. [Pols emphasis] They can seek help from friends who speak English, look up words they do not know; sometimes you have to put a little more effort to assimilate into our culture.
 
TUCCIO: Olivia Mendoza disagrees.

MENDOZA: The foundation of this country is the participation of citizens of the United States in our democracy. When we begin to say that it costs us too much to have citizens engaged…what country are we going to become?

"What country are we going to become?" If "Old Coffman" had gotten his way, it seems we'd be a nation where immigrants who want to vote "pull out a dictionary!" Nobody's going to argue that immigrants should never bother to learn English, but English proficiency is not a requirement for citizens to vote in America. That's why we have a Voting Rights Act to help make sure it doesn't become a requirement, de facto or otherwise.

Bottom line: "New Coffman®" should be really upset at "Old Coffman" for this one.

Tell Cory Gardner to Disclose “Good Life” Special Interest Ties

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

For a high-resolution photo, click here.

Today, ProgressNow Colorado brought a yacht to the Colorado Capitol, and called on Congressman Cory Gardner to disclose whether fellow passengers of the Good Life, a yacht connected to Gardner and a controversial 2012 Florida fundraising junket, have donated to Gardner’s U.S. Senate campaign.

"We call on Cory Gardner to stopping conning Colorado and immediately disclose the names of the lobbyists from his luxury junket aboard the ‘Good Life’," demanded ProgressNow Colorado executive director Amy Runyon-Harms. “Cory Gardner claims to be in Washington fighting for the people of Colorado, but his record tells a different story. Gardner has quickly become a creature of the Washington, D.C. insider crowd, taking advantage of every perk offered to him by corporate lobbyists and out-of-state special interests.”

In March of 2012, a CBS News investigative report disclosed a closed-door fundraiser held on behalf of Gardner and several other hand-picked Republican members of Congress. Special interest donors reportedly gave tens of thousands of dollars in exchange for access to Gardner and other members of Congress. Gardner even served as a “guest bartender” at a “happy hour” that required a $10,000 donation just to get in.

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Archbishop says atheists don’t respect “goodness of the human person”

(That's pretty broad, don't you think? – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

In a recent radio interview, Denver Archbishop Samuel Aquila compared Colorado's "godlessness" to Nazi Germany and Stalin's Russia and said it portends a government that will "eventually fall."

Citing the growing number of atheists and agnostics here, Aquila also said godlessness in Colorado engenders a "lack of respect for the goodness of the human person."

Soon after making this bigoted comment against atheists like me, Aquila became the face of opposition to a bill, killed last week, that would have barred state and local governments from interfering with reproductive healthcare decisions.

An April 15 rally, led by Aquila, galvanized opposition to the bill and got saturation local media coverage.

Reporters cited a letter, signed by Aquila, which called on Catholics to "pray for the conversion of the heart and mind of those who support such irrational, unscientific, and a denial of conscience legislation."

Fair enough. His opinion. But if Aquila is going to jump up and down about science, journalists should cover Aquila's unscientific views, including his anger at the media for failing to cover Satan, who is "real."

KNUS' Dan Caplis asked Aquila on April 3 what's surprised him here in Denver, since he took over as Denver Archbishop in 2012.

Aquila responded that the "godlessness that is present here [in Colorado]" has been a "very real challenge."

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15 Years Ago Today: Columbine

columbinememorial

The Denver Post's Allison Noon:

Sunday marks the 15th year since the shooting at Columbine High School in which 12 students and a teacher were killed.

Indigo columbine flowers were in bloom around the bases of 13 stone markers at the permanent Columbine Memorial in Littleton's Clement Park on Saturday, when about 50 people honored the victims with a remembrance program.

Colorado Ceasefire Capitol Fund organized the program at the park amphitheater ahead of the anniversary that falls this year on Easter Sunday. The program included speeches from family members of two Columbine shooting victims and two victims of the Aurora theater shooting.

CBS4:

“We are part of an unwanted family. None of us asked to be part of this family, family of survivors of mass tragedy,” said [Coni] Sanders.

Unfortunately, that family is growing.

Tom Sullivan lost his son in the Aurora theater shootings.

“Thank you for the courage you have all had since that day. It has certainly strengthened me in my private moments,” said Sullivan.

Sandy Phillips lost her daughter.

“Their lives meant something. Not just to their families, but to the communities that they lived in,” said Phillips.

100 Years Ago Today: Ludlow

ludlowmonumentPhoto courtesy United Mine Workers of America

100 years ago today, a gunfight broke out between members of the Colorado National Guard and striking coal miners employed by the Colorado Fuel and Iron Company near Trinidad, Colorado. During the fighting in and around a tent encampment of striking miners, eleven children and two women were killed when the tent above a pit they were taking shelter from the fighting in was set on fire. This event became known as the Ludlow Massacre, and shocked the nation into a greater awareness of the poor working conditions and exploitative "company town" economic predation faced by coal miners.

This event is being widely commemorated on its 100th anniversary today, and we'll update with coverage.

The “War On Women” Won’t End With Flip-Flops

GOP Reps. Cory Gardner and Mike Coffman.

GOP Reps. Cory Gardner and Mike Coffman.

An insightful story published yesterday evening at the Wall Street Journal takes a look at an emerging dominant theme in the biggest federal races in Colorado this election year–a desperate attempt by veteran Republican politicians to jettison their longstanding "anti-woman" baggage:

Wary of being on the losing side of the gender gap, Republican candidates are working to repel Democratic efforts to portray GOP policy on abortion, equal-pay laws and other matters as harmful to women.

In Colorado, Reps. Cory Gardner and Mike Coffman withdrew their support last month for "personhood" proposals that could limit access to birth control. In Virginia Rep. Scott Rigell hosted his first "women's symposium" last month…

Republican pollster Kellyanne Conway said Republicans are responding with mixed success to Democratic attacks that they are out of touch with women. She added, "Still, Republicans are doing a much better job by calling out Democrats for trying to divert attention from their chief liability, Obamacare."

…Democrats have criticized Messrs. Gardner and Coffman for backing statewide initiatives in 2010 and 2012 that would have treated a fetus like a person, outlawing most abortions and possibly some forms of birth control. Asked about the changes in position, staffers for the lawmakers said they recognized that voters had twice rejected "personhood" referenda. Mr. Gardner, who is challenging Democratic Sen. Mark Udall, called the possible limits on birth control "not right."

Ever since Rep. Cory Gardner made the obviously calculated decision to abandon his prior public support for the "Personhood" abortion ban initiatives, late on a Friday afternoon in unsuccessful hopes of minimizing the press coverage, there's been a lot of debate about what the best strategy is for Gardner–followed up swiftly by fellow GOP Rep. Mike Coffman–to extricate themselves from their records of very consistent support for banning abortion, even in cases where most voters would never stay with them like rape and incest victims.

The problem is, such debate presupposes it's possible to do that.

Gardner and Coffman have a big problem claiming legitimate "evolution" on these issues, since in both cases they have taken place against the backdrop of a changing constituency now repelled by their former position. In Coffman's case, redistricting has transformed his formerly ultra-safe Republican seat into one of the most competitive districts in America. As for Gardner, his longstanding proud support for "Personhood" and other total abortion bans was perfectly acceptable in his safe Republican seat, but as a U.S. Senate candidate, his support for "Personhood" is potentially lethal.

Once you think past the offered excuses for Gardner and Coffman's flip-flops, it becomes objectively clear, regardless of where you stand on the issue, that they switched positions to save their political hides. In Coffman's case, the length of his "evolution" has been protracted by his unexpectedly narrow win in 2012 over an underdog opponent, after Democrats failed to capitalize on redistricting with a top-tier challenger. But Coffman's switch is no less obviously political in nature than Gardner's–and both can be easily discredited as a result with the very same voters they hoped to mollify.

And that brings us to the point, what we consider to be a very important point that needs to sink in with Republicans, Democrats, and journalists: contrived flip-flopping just doesn't work. It didn't work for Mitt "Etch-a-Sketch" Romney, and it's not working for Gardner or Coffman. It's not working because it's demonstrably fake. In this space, we have consistently argued for nearly a decade that the best hope for Republicans is to start fielding more moderate candidates–ones that don't automatically disqualify themselves with positions on wedge issues that horrify women and independent voters. But they need to genuinely be moderate candidates on these issues, not holdovers from a previous generation trying to fake their way out from under their own liabilities.

Does that mean Republicans have to wander in the wilderness for 40 years like Moses, until all of the "Personhood"-saddled anti-choice Republican politicians are dead or out to pasture?

You know, folks, we don't make the rules. But maybe so.

Weekend Open Thread

"I am neither bitter nor cynical but I do wish there was less immaturity in political thinking."

–Franklin D. Roosevelt

GOP American Crossroads Poll Shows Udall Up By 2 Points

Mark Udall, Cory Gardner.

Mark Udall, Cory Gardner.

The conservative Daily Caller reports on a new poll conducted for Republican-aligned SuperPAC American Crossroads on the Colorado U.S. Senate race:

Incumbent Colorado Democratic Sen. Mark Udall has a slim lead over his challenger, Republican Rep. Cory Gardner, according to a new poll from American Crossroads.

Forty-five percent of those polled said they would vote for Udall, compared to 43 percent for Gardner. Twelve percent of respondents aren’t sure who they will vote for.

Udall’s lead is well within the poll’s 4.35 percent margin of error, meaning that the contest remains a dead heat.

In terms of favorability, voters’ opinion of Udall is almost evenly split, with 41 percent saying they have a favorable opinion of him to 42 percent unfavorable.

Their opinion of Gardner, however, is more clearly divided, with 38 percent unfavorable to 30 percent favorable. But 32 percent aren’t sure.

Here's the memo from Harper Polling.

This conservative leaning poll has a fairly high margin of error at 4.35%, and uses automated methodology that we really don't think is as accurate as live interviews. Despite these caveats, it's interesting that a month of high-volume attacks on incumbent Democratic Sen. Mark Udall do not appear to have moved the needle against him at all–Udall still polls narrowly ahead of challenger Cory Gardner. We'll want to see more polling to establish that clearly, but as a Republican strategist, you can't look at unchanged polls after shoveling money into attack ads against Udall over "Obamacare" for a month and feel good about it. If that's right, Americans for Prosperity and friends just wasted a pile of Koch Brothers money.

Don’t Even Study Fracking? Really?

Photo courtesy Rep. Jared Polis

Photo courtesy Rep. Jared Polis

​The Grand Junction Sentinel's Charles Ashby reports on passage yesterday of House Bill 14-1297, a bill to study the health impacts of hydraulic fracture drilling ("fracking") in certain affected Front Range counties:

The Colorado House approved a controversial bill Thursday that some Republicans believe is designed to give opponents of hydraulic fracturing fodder to ban the practice in the state…

The measure, HB1297, cleared the House on a 38-27 vote. It calls for a study of the health and “quality of life” impacts of hydraulic fracturing of natural gas wells.

Although the bill, which heads to the Senate for more debate, confines that study to six Front Range counties around the Denver metropolitan area, it is seen by some Republicans as a plan by Democrats to slant it to be anti-fracking.

Interestingly, a single Republican legislator did vote in favor of this bill yesterday, outgoing Rep. Jared Wright of Fruita. We've been hard on Wright over the scandals that nearly cost him election in the first place and appear to have now ended his brief legislative career–not to mention leaving a loaded gun unattended in a Capitol committee hearing room–but we'll be damned if Wright doesn't make perfectly good sense regarding this bill.

“We want to know that we’re not just blindly going forward with technology. That we do it the right way,” Wright said. “I believe it can be done the right way, and frankly, I don’t have a doubt that it is being done the right way. I think the results of this study will be that our operators are doing their jobs and doing it in the careful way that we ask them.”

Rep. Wright tells Ashby that while he shares traditional GOP skepticism about government studies, he has "read this bill in-depth and I feel like it’s well laid-out, and I think it’s certainly the intention that it’s done the right way." Obviously, if Wright is right, Republicans and their energy industry benefactors have nothing to fear from an objective study of the health effects of fracking in Colorado. It will reinforce the argument they make about the safety of the practice. And if Wright is wrong, and fracking is not being done "the right way"…what responsible lawmaker would argue against finding that out?

We ask rhetorically, since 27 Colorado Republicans voted against this bill yesterday.

Friday Open Thread

"People will tell you anything but what they do is always the truth."

–P. J. O'Rourke

Chuck Plunkett and the First Rule of Holes

Chuck Plunkett holes

Chuck Plunkett hopes to escape this hole by digging furiously.

Denver Post Politics Editor Chuck Plunkett has obviously never heard about the number one rule of holes: STOP DIGGING!

Yesterday we followed a rather bizarre decision by Plunkett to remove a story posted to the newspaper's political blog "The Spot." Plunkett took down a story Tuesday night about Republican Congressman Mike Coffman written by reporter Kurtis Lee (you can read about that original post here) that had appeared earlier in the day. Plunkett then offered up a rambling blog post of his own in an effort to explain his decision…which made absolutely no sense.

Well, on Thursday afternoon, Plunkett doubled-down on his own defense with an even more confusion explanation of his other explanation. Only in this explanation, Plunkett concludes with a convincing argument for why the story should have never been removed in the first place (which was clearly not his intention, but, whatever). Here's the lede of Plunkett's post this afternoon, titled, "No Facts Hidden from Mike Coffman Story."

On Wednesday I published a post on this site that meant to explain why a story about Mike Coffman’s views on personhood and abortion was taken off The Denver Post’s online edition the night before.

A day later I see that some are suggesting that the story has somehow been suppressed.

I submit that this is not accurate.

My blog post on Wednesday was written and published to provide the central facts that had been in the story that I had taken down. I provided these facts in the context that I felt the story lacked.

We'd like to give Plunkett the benefit of the doubt here, but it speaks volumes about his decision when he feels compelled to write two separate blog posts about why he pulled a story after it appeared online — and then titles it, "No Facts Hidden." This is sort of like a little kid standing over a mess on the floor saying, "I didn't do it" even before you had a chance to ask.

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