With the June 28th primary election now just a week away, we’re rolling out informal polls for our readers in a number of key races around the state. Colorado Senate District 12, presently held by outgoing Senate President Bill Cadman, features a competitive Republican primary between longtime former Rep. Bob Gardner and incumbent Rep. Gordon “Dr. Chaps” Klingenschmitt of HD-15.
As with all of our polls, we’re interested in knowing who you actually think will win this election–not your personal preference.
A member of the Aurora School Board and a candidate for State House in HD-42 continues to rack up calls for his resignation(s) after a series of stories last week revealed that Eric Nelson is a pretty spectacular con artist…but not much else.
Check out this statement from Amber Drevon of the Aurora School Board, as reported by Ernest Luning of the Colorado Statesman:
We wanted to make sure this report on the cut-throat GOP HD-16 primary from the Colorado Springs Independentfrom late last week didn’t escape mention–after all, it’s something we’ve been talking about for nearly six years now:
[A] few days ago, a mailer funded by Independent Expenditure Committee El Paso Conservative Forum of Denver hit mailboxes in the House district. The mailer, which cost $2,913.55, according to a campaign finance report, says of Joshi: “Can you trust him? A former patient trusted him … and DIED due to Dr. Joshi’s malpractice! RESULT: Colorado Medical Board revoked his license!”
The mailer provides this link to the agreement in which Joshi agreed to surrender his license.
Unlike the bizarre video circulating of an elderly woman accusing HD-16 GOP primary candidate Larry Liston of physically assaulting her, which is impossible to verify, the fact that incumbent Rep. Janak Joshi was forced to surrender his medical license before he became a state legislator is a matter of public record. We originally noted this fact in 2010 during Joshi’s first campaign for HD-16, and we’ve had numerous occasions to remind you–basically every time Joshi claimed to be “a physician.” It’s even been suggested to us that Joshi continuing to refer to himself as “a physician” after surrendering his license could itself be a violation of law.
In any event, in the nasty battle Rep. Joshi is waging against ex-Rep. Liston to keep his job, what we have here is a highly potent–and accurate–criticism of Joshi that seems to be getting very little notice. We’d say the Republican voters of HD-16 deserve to know that Joshi lost his medical license under a cloud before he was ever elected–and represents himself with no credibility as a “physician” in debates at the state legislature.
► Counting today, the Primary Election is just eight days away. If you haven’t yet received a mail ballot, you should check your registration or address status ASAP. Go to JustVoteColorado.org for more information.
The Colorado Secretary of State’s office has released updated Primary turnout numbers; both Democrats and Republicans are voting/returning ballots at a similar rate of about 12%.
► Former Republican Presidential candidate Ted Cruz is back on the campaign trail, making national news for a stop in Denver today to endorse Darryl Glenn in Colorado’s five-candidate race in the Republican Primary for U.S. Senate. As CNN reports, Cruz took a noncommittal tone toward GOP Presidential nominee Donald Trump:
Ted Cruz returned to the campaign trail for the first time since suspending his presidential campaign to stump for senate hopeful Darryl Glenn in Denver — but at least one fan of the Texas senator isn’t ready to let his 2016 bid go.
As the former candidate acknowledged the “unusual” presidential race, the audience laughed, as a man shouted, “Run, Ted.”
“We may all need to run,” Cruz joked, who kicked off his remarks in his trademark way, saying, “God bless the great state of Colorado.”
Without mentioning presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, the Texas senator stressed the importance of checks and balances, “regardless of what happens in November.”
Cruz and Glenn were together at a press event this morning in front of about 100 supporters at the Westin Hotel near Denver International Airport. ProgressNow Colorado points out some of the similarities between Cruz and Glenn.
► The Supreme Court has ruled that statewide assault weapons bans are permissible. As the Associated Press reports:
The justices on Monday left in place a lower court ruling that upheld laws that were passed in response to another mass shooting involving a semi-automatic weapon, the elementary school attack in Newtown, Connecticut.
The Supreme Court has repeatedly turned away challenges to gun restrictions since two landmark decisions that spelled out the right to a handgun to defend one’s own home…
…Seven states and the District of Columbia have enacted laws banning assault weapons. The others are California, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts and New Jersey, according to the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence. In addition, Minnesota and Virginia regulate assault weapons, the center said.
Still, nobody is coming to take your guns, no matter what the NRA says.
The county-by-county chart included in this release reflects a change in how the Colorado Secretary of State reports ballot returns. Last week’s release showed only ballots that already had gone through signature verification; today’s report and all subsequent ones will reflect the number of ballots received by the county, even if they are waiting to be reviewed by election judges.
For more information on turnout based on a county-by-county basis, click here (PDF).
As the Grand Junction Sentinel’sCharles Ashbyreports, a troubling red flag for incumbent GOP Rep. Scott Tipton’s campaign:
Though she’s only been in the race for about three months, Democrat Gail Schwartz outraised the Republican she hopes to replace in Washington, U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton.
Schwartz, a two-term member of the Colorado Senate whose district included Delta County, raised more than $350,000 since entering the race in early April, according to the latest campaign finance reports filed with the Federal Election Commission.
While Tipton has raised about $445,000 since January, he’s only pulled in about $185,000 since April, according to his pre-primary report.
Based on the performance of Colorado’s Third Congressional District in the last few elections, especially the defeat of 2014 Democratic challenger Abel Tapia by a lopsided margin, Republican strategists might not be so worried about Tipton right now. Especially with a national map looking more and more perilous by the minute as Donald Trump’s train-wreck presidential campaign devours the GOP brand.
The problem with that is at a certain level, Tipton’s seat becomes one of the last lines of defense of the GOP House majority. By the numbers, if Tipton is really in danger, so many other Republicans up the food chain are threatened as well that there might not be enough resources available to protect him. Unless, of course, he has the personal ability to bring in the money he needs.
And it looks like he may not.
The combination of headwinds all Republicans face running downticket from Trump, and the strength of Tipton’s 2016 opponent Gail Schwartz, could be creating the biggest pickup opportunity for Democrats since Marilyn Musgrave’s toppling in 2008 by Betsy Markey. There are too many external variables right now to predict the final outcome in CD-3–but for Democrats, it’s an exciting prospect.
Tipton’s newfound weakness makes it even more exciting.
The official statement on Lewandowski was epically Trump. “The Donald J. Trump Campaign for President, which has set a historic record in the Republican Primary having received almost 14 million votes, has today announced that Corey Lewandowski will no longer be working with the campaign,” spokeswoman Hope Hicks told the New York Times’s Maggie Haberman.
The goal of the move was clear: To end a long-running power struggle between Lewandowski, a Trump loyalist through and through, and Paul Manafort, a professional political hand brought in by Trump mid-campaign to serve as convention director.
As Cillizza notes, picking Manafort and dumping Lewandowski is meant to be a sign to establishment Republicans that Trump understands he needs to change his campaign operation for a General Election. But will it work? Cillizza is rightfully skeptical:
The only way Trump’s campaign changes in any meaningful way then is if Trump himself changes. He’s rhetorically flicked at the idea of becoming “more presidential” and insisted that if he is elected president he will act with much more gravitas.
In other words, if you were hoping for meaningful change in the Trump campaign…you should probably stop holding your breath.
MONDAY UPDATE: CBS4reports on some trouble at PrideFest yesterday despite all the security:
Vanessa Martinez was waiting for the parade to start at Colfax Avenue and Grant Street when she says a man, yelling profanities, threatened her daughters with gun violence.
“Of course I’m going to protect them,” Vanessa Martinez said. “I jumped in front of her, and that’s when he said that he was going to shoot us, and started acting like he was going to pull out a gun on all of us.”
No shots were fired…
Another show of hate broke out down the block at Colfax and Sherman when someone lit wood chips on fire in the shape of a swastika.
Though certainly not the only studs in attendance (bahdumtish)! The Denver PrideFest Parade this morning was well-attended by both the general public and by Colorado politicians, undeterred by the additional security measures necessitated by the domestic terror attack on a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida a week ago. If anything, support for the LGBT community by folks who wouldn’t have normally attended a gay pride parade made today’s parade an even bigger event.
We posted a few examples yesterday of social media responses from Colorado Republican state senators, as well as the official account of the Colorado Senate Republican press office, both blaming President Barack Obama for last weekend’s terrorist attack on a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, as well as at least one post disparaging LGBT Americans themselves in the hours after the attack. The latter was posted by Sen. Randy Baumgardner:
Baumgardner’s Democratic opponent in Senate District 8 this year, Emily Tracy, reacted angrily to our blog about Baumgardner’s anti-gay post-Orlando Facebooking:
So folks, we can take the heat. But can we ask in all seriousness how our writing about Baumgardner’s social media content “distorts, deceives, or demeans” anyone? If anything, we would say those terms all apply to…well, to Baumgardner’s Facebook post, wouldn’t they? Not to our calling attention to it. Right?
We get that this response from the official Colorado Senate GOP mouthpiece is more of a knee-jerk insult than a thoughtful comeback. But given the very clearly “demeaning” material we called out in our post yesterday, to which we have yet to see any substantive response, this all seems like especially nonsensical bile.
And it surer than hell doesn’t make the one-seat Senate GOP majority look good.
It’s possible that Colorado could see two straight 100-degree days this weekend as campaigns scramble to finish their door knocking before Primary Day. It’s time to Get More Smarter with Colorado Pols! If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of a visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show.
TOP OF MIND TODAY…
► Remember, friends: If you haven’t yet received a mail ballot, you should check your registration or address status ASAP. Go to JustVoteColorado.org for more information.
► Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump may be a bit of a consensus-builder after all…though not in the manner he would prefer. As Politico reports:
In 2016’s race to the bottom, Donald Trump is going to find out if you can become president when two-thirds of Americans don’t like you — and a majority can’t stand you…
…Trump is setting modern records for political toxicity — at least for a major-party candidate this far out from an election. Seventy percent of Americans surveyed in an ABC News/Washington Post poll out this week had an unfavorable opinion of Trump, up 10 points over the past month. The poll showed Trump’s favorable rating cratering at 29 percent, down from 37 percent last month…
…Trump’s unpopularity is without historical peer in the modern era of presidential campaigns. Mitt Romney averaged a 46-percent unfavorable rating in mid-June 2012, according to the HuffPost Pollster database. John McCain’s unfavorable rating four years prior was only 40 percent, and more voters had a positive opinion of the Arizona senator than a negative one. In June 2004, then-Sen. John Kerry had a 58-percent favorable rating, according to Gallup, with only 35 percent viewing him unfavorably.
As the Colorado Independent’sCorey Hutchinsreports, Colorado’s senior U.S. Senator Michael Bennet joined with fellow Democrats this week in a day-long filibuster to call attention to the need for enhanced gun safety legislation following last weekend’s terrorist attack on a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida:
Democratic U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet, up for re-election in Colorado this fall, joined 30 of his Democratic colleagues in D.C. for a filibuster about gun laws [Wednesday] following the latest massacre, this time in Orlando, which left a bloody mark as the worst single-gunman mass shooting in U.S. history…
When Bennet took the floor, he talked about the difference between the ways Colorado lawmakers and Congress have reacted to gun violence. Colorado has passed new laws; Congress has not.
“Unlike Washington, in Colorado our legislators actually rose to the occasion to take some tough decisions … they got together and they actually strengthened our background check system. Colorado’s legislature closed the gun show loophole and the internet loophole and required a background check for every gun sale,” Bennet said.
The Senator then ran down the list of what that has meant for Colorado in practice within the past year.
“I want to be precise about this,” he said, noting that in 2015 background checks had blocked 7,714 people from buying guns, a figure that made up about 2 percent of the applications for firearms purchases.
Those within that 2 percent included murderers, rapists, domestic abusers and kidnappers who were denied guns because of the new rules, Bennet said.
“Is there anyone who is going to come to the floor of the United States Senate and say that Colorado is worse off because we’ve kept guns out of the hands of murderers or kidnappers or rapists?” he asked. “This isn’t mythical. This is the actual fact of what’s going on in a Western state that has background checks.” [Pols emphasis]
Bennet’s defense of Colorado’s landmark gun laws is in fact very important to the national debate now taking place over strengthening federal gun safety laws. One of the most critical reforms sought nationally has been standard practice in Colorado in part since 2000 and fully since 2013: universal background checks, both on gun purchases made at gun shows (2000’s post-Columbine Amendment 22) and on most private transfers of guns outside immediate family members (2013’s House Bill 1229).
Colorado’s experience with closing loopholes that allowed weapons to be purchased without a background check has shown that these are workable policies that do result in thousands of gun sales to criminals being stopped–both outright denied purchases, as well as the deterrent effect of having the policy in place. That a Western state like Colorado with its long tradition of gun ownership can successfully implement strict background checks on gun sales shows it can be done nationally–neutralizing a key argument of the gun lobby against them. Politically, Colorado is increasingly a model for passing gun safety legislation and then successfully weathering fierce political reprisals from gun rights zealots. After the high water mark of the 2013 recall elections, the new laws have notably failed to become the cautionary tale the gun lobby wanted them to be.
As desperate as the gun lobby was to stop Colorado’s push to tighten gun laws after the Aurora theater massacre, or failing that to at least contain their spread by exacting a heavy and lasting political toll, their failure is evident with each horrific killing spree. At least for a little while, the conversation inevitably comes back to the easy availability of military weapons that can cut down dozens of people effortlessly. Colorado didn’t want to take the lead on gun safety, it was a responsibility placed on our state by events no one would ever wish for.
When the rest of America is ready, Colorado will still be the model.