Democrats Flummox GOP with House Sit-In on Gun Violence

Democrats in the House during their "sit-in" demanding votes on gun violence legislation.

Democrats in the House during their “sit-in” demanding votes on gun violence legislation.

Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives — including Colorado Rep. Ed Perlmutter — ended their “sit-in” effort to force Congress to vote on new gun violence legislation, but not without succeeding in raising the level of political importance for the issue. As the New York Times reports:

The Democrats ended their sit-in about 1 p.m. on Thursday, about 25 hours after it began. Mr. Ryan interrupted them on Wednesday by personally reclaimed control of the House, pounding his gavel and muscling through a major appropriations bill without debate. He and the Republicans, who hold the majority, then declared the House adjourned with no votes until after the Fourth of July holiday — leaving Democrats to continue their protest effort in a dormant chamber.

Still, Democrats finally relented several hours later. They gave speeches all through the night, which they broadcast using Periscope, the live streaming feature of Twitter. And they said they would continue to press their case throughout the recess for votes to tighten the nation’s gun control laws…

…By pushing through the appropriations bill — it included $1.1 billion in emergency financing to combat the mosquito-borne Zika virus — on a largely party line vote without any debate, Mr. Ryan had to abandon his commitment to regular order in the House. That was a step that he said he had taken with absolutely no remorse, given the Democrats’ efforts at obstruction.

House Speaker Paul Ryan has been trying hard to spin the Democrats’ move as a “publicity stunt,” conveniently ignoring the obvious point that the reason this move earned so much media coverage is precisely because of the Republican response. As the Washington Post reports:

Republicans, unsure about how to deal with a sit-in that started on the House floor yesterday at 11:30 a.m., tried to talk over Democrats and hold routine votes. Then, around 3:30 a.m., they adjourned the chamber until after July Fourth – two days earlier than planned. In so doing, they’ve guaranteed that the debate about gun control will roil the congressional recess and remain a dominant storyline for the next two weeks.

“This isn’t trying to come up with a solution to a problem; this is trying to get attention,” the Speaker complained on TV late last night. That is neither true nor fair. In fact, nearly two weeks after the mass murder of 49 in Orlando, Democrats are merely trying to secure up-or-down votes on a variety of very specific gun control proposals – including a measure that would prevent suspected terrorists from being able to buy firearms and another that would expand background checks. [Pols emphasis]

Speaker Ryan can bellyache about this maneuver as much as he wants, but any claims that Democrats are interfering with the daily matters of the House are falling on deaf ears thanks to his Senate colleagues. When Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell declared earlier this year that the Senate would refuse to even hold a hearing on selecting a new Supreme Court judge — blatantly ignoring the Constitution — he ensured that Republicans alone would own the title of obstructionists.

Republicans will likely continue to dig-in on the issue and refuse to do anything related to guns, but the massive amount of media coverage generated by House Democrats ensures that such a move is more than just a political gamble in 2016 — for a number of Republican candidates and incumbents, their future in elected office is now tied directly to Congressional inaction on gun violence.

 

Supreme Court Ruling Blocks Obama Immigration Plan

Former U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.

Former U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.

UPDATE: Congressman Ed Perlmutter (D-Jefferson County) reacts to the news:

“The Supreme Court’s split decision in U.S. v. Texas is incredibly disappointing and leaves millions of individuals and families hanging in the balance. President Obama’s executive actions were an attempt to move the country forward in light of Congressional inaction on comprehensive immigration reform.

“Today’s split decision also reiterates the need for a full 9 Justice Supreme Court. It is time for Senate Republicans to do their job and move forward with hearings and a confirmation vote for Judge Garland.”

—–

As the Associated Press reports:

The Supreme Court deadlocked Thursday on President Barack Obama’s immigration plan that sought to shield millions living in the U.S. illegally from deportation, effectively killing the plan for the rest of his presidency.

The outcome underscores that the direction of U.S. immigration policy will be determined in large part by this fall’s presidential election, a campaign in which immigration already has played an outsized role.

People who would have benefited from Obama’s plan face no imminent threat of deportation because Congress has provided money to deal with only a small percentage of people who live in the country illegally, and the president retains ample discretion to decide whom to deport. But Obama’s effort to expand that protection to many others is effectively stymied.

As you might expect, immigration-reform activists are not particularly pleased with today’s ruling. Here’s what Marilena Hincapie, the executive director of the National Immigration Law Center, had to say in a press release:

“This politically driven lawsuit should never have made it this far: Two of the four Fifth Circuit judges who have considered the case noted rightly that Texas and other states simply did not have standing to bring it. Other state-driven anti-immigrant lawsuits were thrown out on the same grounds.

“With this case, the Court had an opportunity to provide clarity and guidance on executive power and to free up programs that would have tremendous social and economic benefits. Instead, they followed a troubling trend this term of failing to do the job the American people and the Constitution entrusted to them, due in part to the politicized vacancy on the Court.

The stakes are now even greater for the November elections as the next president will have the opportunity to appoint several Supreme Court justices in their first term, shaping our country’s future for decades to come.  Immigrant communities are committed to continuing our fight for our families.”

We will continue to update this story as it progresses today.

Ballot Return Numbers Pick Up

votebuttonWe’re continuing to pass along the latest turnout numbers from the Colorado Secretary of State’s office for the June 28th Primary, and for the first time since daily updates began last week, things seem to be picking up a bit (numbers are accurate as of 7:55 a.m. on Thursday):

Democrats

Ballots sent: 990,506;
Ballots returned: 173,916;
Percent: 17.55%

Republicans

Ballots sent: 997,338;
Ballots returned: 189,079;
Percent: 19%

How does this compare to 2014? In the June 24, 2014 U.S. Senate Primary, there were 213,746 Democratic ballots cast, compared to 338,324 for Republicans.

For more information on turnout based on a county-by-county basis, click here (PDF).

Thursday Open Thread

“The only foes that threaten America are the enemies at home, and these are ignorance, superstition and incompetence.”

–Elbert Hubbard

Plunkett Replaces Carroll as Editorial Page Editor at Post

(No comment — Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Rumors are swirling about which Denver Post reporters are accepting a buyout offer from the newspaper, which seeks 26 editorial staffers to volunteer to leave, even though, according to sources cited by Michael Roberts at Westword, The Post made $25 million last fiscal year.

One confirmed departure is Vincent Carroll, editorial page editor, who will be replaced by current Post politics editor Chuck Plunkett.

Here’s an announcement of the move from The Post:

Politics editor Chuck Plunkett has been named The Denver Post
editorial page editor, effective July 2, where he will oversee print and online content for the daily opinion page and the Sunday Perspective section.

He will replace Vincent Carroll, who joined The Post in 2009 and became editorial page editor in 2013. Carroll also spent 27 years at the Rocky Mountain News, including 19 years as the editorial page editor. His last day will be July 1. He plans to remain in Denver.

“It’s been my pleasure to work with Vincent Carroll over the past couple of years. We appreciate the contribution he has made to The Denver Post and wish him good fortune in his future endeavors,” said chief executive and publisher Mac Tully. “And I look forward to working with Chuck as Vincent’s successor. Chuck has a long and rich history in journalism.”

A professional journalist for more than 20 years, Plunkett joined The Post in 2003 after reporting for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review and the Arkansas Democrat Gazette. He became editor of the politics desk in 2011.

“I am humbled — and also enormously thrilled — to be trusted with this chance to continue The Post’s contribution to the Colorado conversation,” Plunkett said.

Coffman Sponsors “Nightmare” DOA DREAM Act

Rep. Mike Coffman.

Rep. Mike Coffman.

Patricia Mazzei of the Miami Herald reports on new legislation introduced by two vulnerable Republican members of Congress that would, in the extremely unlikely event that it were to pass the GOP-controlled House, protect children of illegal immigrants in the country since 2010 from deportation–similar to the failed DREAM Act.

Miami Republican Rep. Carlos Curbelo on Tuesday filed legislation that would allow people brought into the U.S. illegally as children before 2010 to remain in the country — a new version of the so-called DREAM Act.

Under the proposed law, immigrants who entered the U.S. illegally before Jan. 1, 2010, and were 16 years old or younger, could follow a path to U.S. citizenship.

The “Recognizing American Children Act” would offer high school graduates without a serious criminal record or dependence on public assistance conditional immigration status for five years. During that time, they could follow one of three ways to remain in the country permanently. If they receive a higher-education degree, serve in the military or remain employed, they could apply for permanent residency — and, later, citizenship. Those enlisted in the military would get an immediate chance at naturalization…

Who’s the other primary sponsor of this bill, you ask?

Curbelo filed the legislation with a fellow Republican, Rep. Mike Coffman of Colorado. Both represent two of the most competitive swing districts in the country, in states with a significant proportion of Hispanic voters. Coffman has received money from Curbelo’s political committee, What a Country PAC, intended to support Republican members of Congress who like Curbelo back immigration reform. Curbelo’s Westchester-to-Key West district leans in Democrats’ favor.

That’s right, folks! Rep. Mike Coffman, once the heir to anti-immigrant firebrand Tom Tancredo’s congressional district now representing a diverse and competitive district centered on Aurora, is co-sponsoring this new version of the DREAM Act along with another vulnerable Republican in a swing district. With that said, there are some important differences between Rep. Carlos Curbelo and Coffman–such as that Curbelo has consistently supported the DREAM Act, whereas Coffman once said “the DREAM Act will be a nightmare for the American people.”

In the past, we’ve seen Coffman’s gestures toward immigration reform lavishly rewarded by immigrant rights groups. This time, however, the praise is notably absent:

(more…)

Get More Smarter on Wednesday (June 22)

MoreSmarterLogo-SunscreenGood news: it’s still hot outside, but for today, at least, we should be able to stay below 100°F. 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…

► One week from today, the Colorado Primary Election will be complete. 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.

If you haven’t yet voted, you might want to get moving — turnout numbers are still pretty weak thus far.

 

► Florida Sen. Marco Rubio has reversed course and will seek re-election for the U.S. Senate after months of “unequivocal” statements that he would be a “private citizen” in November. Rubio is not a big fan of the Senate — he barely bothers to show up to vote — but since his Presidential aspirations didn’t work out this year, he doesn’t have anything else to do until his next bid for the White House in 2020. National Republicans aren’t opposed to the idea, since an incumbent Rubio gives them a better chance to keep that Senate seat in Florida.

 

► The Aurora School Board member and State House candidate whose resume appears to be almost entirely fictional remains defiant despite calls from the Aurora School Board asking him to resignEric Nelson is doubling tripling quadrupling down on the validity of his personal biography — which has largely been disproved by the Colorado Statesman and Denver7.

 

Get even more smarter after the jump… (more…)

Primary Turnout Still Wheezing Along Slowly

votebuttonWe’re continuing to pass along the latest turnout numbers from the Colorado Secretary of State’s office for the June 28th Primary, though things haven’t changed much since Tuesday morning (numbers are accurate as of 7:55 a.m. on Wednesday):

Democrats

Ballots sent: 989,879;
Ballots returned: 154,941;
Percent: 15.65%

Republicans

Ballots sent: 997,073;
Ballots returned: 163,550;
Percent: 16.40%

How does this compare to 2014? In the June 24, 2014 U.S. Senate Primary, there were 213,746 Democratic ballots cast, compared to 338,324 for Republicans.

For more information on turnout based on a county-by-county basis, click here (PDF).

Sierra Club Endorses Bennet, Because Obviously

Sen. Michael Bennet at Chimney Rock National Monument.

Sen. Michael Bennet at Chimney Rock National Monument.

A press release from the Sierra Club this morning announces an endorsement that’s both unsurprising and significant:

Today, the Sierra Club announced its endorsement of Colorado Senator Michael Bennet for re-election.

“The Sierra Club is proud to endorse Senator Bennet for re-election,” said Sierra Club’s Executive Director Michael Brune. “For the past seven years, the Senator has worked tirelessly to protect America’s treasured public lands, expand our rapidly growing clean energy economy, and tackle the threat of climate change. We look forward to continuing our partnership with Senator Bennet to preserve places like Camp Hale, transition to clean, renewable energy, and prevent further climate disruption.”

Since taking office, Senator Bennet has been a vocal advocate for tackling climate change head-on, protecting our public lands and waterways, and increasing clean energy technology like wind and solar.

“The Sierra Club has been a crucial partner on our work to protect natural treasures like Browns Canyon, Hermosa Creek and Chimney Rock, as well as helping to grow our state’s renewable energy economy,” said Senator Michael Bennet. “Coloradans understand the importance of clean air, clean water and clean energy to our everyday lives and environment. Together, we’ll win in November and keep working on collaborative solutions to protect Colorado and our planet for future generations.”

As a comparatively moderate Democrat, support from trusted conservation organizations like the Sierra Club greatly helps Sen. Michael Bennet shore up support within the Democrat base. It’s not like those voters would be likely to support any of the Republican primary contenders, but lingering bad feelings from Bennet’s primary victory in 2010–and of course Bennet’s middle-road voting record–could depress enthusiasm.

Between support from major players that voters recognize and the specter of any of the Republican alternatives, we’d guess that Bennet’s “base problems” won’t be much of a problem by the fall.

Donald Trump is Barely Running a Presidential Campaign

trumpHere’s why Republicans should be terrified that Donald Trump is their Presidential candidate…

If you’ve paid any attention at all to the news in the last year, you’ve probably seen dozens of headlines or ledes from reporters writing some variation of the story that Donald Trump is an absolute nightmare as the GOP candidate for President. Heck, you’ve probably seen a few versions of this post right here at Colorado Pols.

You don’t need a political science degree to understand that Trump is toxic to Republicans in a General Election, but despite the onslaught of negative news, Trump keeps marching along — which makes it difficult to gauge just how much you should really be worried about Trump if you are a card-carrying member of the GOP. But when you look past the pundits and the talk-shows and start digging into the indisputable facts on the ground…well, let’s just say that Republicans have every reason to be very nervous.

As Chris Cillizza writes for “The Fix,” Trump is barely even running a campaign at all:

Take Trump’s fundraising. He collected $3.1 million in the month of May and ended the month with $1.2 million in the bank. While Trump’s campaign released a statement Tuesday insisting that “the campaign’s fundraising has been incredible and we continue to see a tremendous outpouring of support for Mr. Trump and money to the Republican Party,” there’s little available evidence to suggest that’s accurate. After all, if Trump couldn’t raise any significant money in the month when he became the presumptive nominee why would June, where he has been beset by questions about his readiness to the GOP nominee, be better? [Colorado Pols note: Hillary Clinton raised $27 million in May]

Or staffing.  Trump jettisoned his campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, on Monday. He still has no communications director. Put aside those senior positions and things look even worse. As of the end of May, Trump had 69 people on staff. Hillary Clinton had 685 people on staff…

…Trump is nowhere in the TV ad fight either.  He is currently spending $0 on TV ads in swing states. Clinton is spending $23 million.

Cillizza also points to a story in the Cleveland Plain-Dealer that shows Republicans are out-staffed in the key state of Ohio by at least a 3-to-1 margin. This isn’t just bad news for Trump — it should be frightening for Republicans such as incumbent Sen. Rob Portman, who is facing a difficult re-election challenge from Democrat Ted Strickland.

And unless Ohio is an outlier, there are a lot of Colorado Republicans who are in big trouble.

No Surprises in Final Senate Fundraising Report Before Primary

Ernest Luning of the Colorado Statesman reports on the final pre-Primary fundraising totals for the five Republicans running for U.S. Senate. If you’ve been watching this race at all for the last couple of months, you probably won’t be shocked to see the fundraising updates:

U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet raised $1.65 million — more than 10 times as much as any of the Republicans hoping to unseat him — in the most recent reporting period, pre-primary finance reports show, although GOP candidate Jack Graham wrote his campaign a check for $500,000, bringing his self-funding total to $1.5 million.

With $5.7 million in the bank, the Democrat had more than six times the cash on hand of the nearest Republican. Reports covered the second fundraising quarter up until the June 8 reporting deadline ahead of Colorado’s primary.

Via Ernest Luning of the Colorado Statesman

Via Ernest Luning of the Colorado Statesman

As you can see from the graphic at right, none of the Republican candidates are remotely close to collecting the kind of cash that incumbent Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Denver) has continued to put together.

If we focus only on the Republican candidates, pre-Primary fundraising numbers are following the same general trend that we’ve seen throughout 2016. The only exception was foreseeable: Darryl Glenn is finally raising some decent money ($109k) in the first fundraising period since he captured top-line at the State Republican Convention in April.

A few other noteworthy items…Former Colorado State University Athletic Director Jack Graham loaned his campaign another $500k, and Jon Keyser inexplicably contributed another $50,000 to his own campaign. Keyser’s contribution seems particularly pointless; he needed a lot more money than this to catch his Republican rivals with any sort of significant advertising buy.

Here are the cash-on-hand totals for the five Republicans with one week to go in the Primary:

Jack Graham:  $882,800
Robert Blaha:  $278,177
Jon Keyser:    $173,484
Darryl Glenn:  $50,198
Ryan Frazier:  $19,850

 

9NEWS Truth Test Confirms: Donald Trump is a Giant D-Bag


Last night, 9NEWS’ Brandon Rittiman examined the ad from pro-Hillary Clinton SuperPAC Priorities USA now in heavy rotation in Colorado, hitting presumptive GOP nominee Donald Trump for “mocking” a reporter with a disability.

The verdict? Yes, Donald Trump really is that big of an asshole:

Supporters of Hillary Clinton are spending millions to try and undermine Donald Trump before next month’s national conventions. The ad getting the most airtime in Colorado right now doesn’t go after Trump on policy, but attacks his character instead…

It features a couple with a disabled child highlighting a speech in which Donald Trump appears to make fun of a reporter with a disability.

“When I saw Donald Trump mock a disabled person, I was just shocked,” says Lauren Glaros before the ad cuts to a clip of Trump making a serious of awkward hand gestures and speaking in a strained voice…

It is true that the reporter, Serge Kovaleski of the New York Times, has a joint condition called arthrogryposis, which causes his right hand to rest held up in a bent position.

Since Trump’s comments and gesticulations about New York Times reporter Serge Kovaleski, Trump has claimed he wasn’t mocking Kovaleski’s disability, and didn’t even know the reporter to mock him–a claim that basically no one believes, since as Rittiman reports, Trump and Kovaleski have known each other since the 1980s.

To the bigger claim, that Trump was mocking Kovaleski’s condition, we rate this attack as “fair.”

If you compare the pose that Trump made you can see it’s quite similar to Kovaleski’s condition.

Obviously, this is not a weighty question of policy. But it’s very smart for supporters of Hillary Clinton to zero in on universally distasteful character issues like mocking disabled people–in order to build an emotional wall (pun intended) between persuadable voters and Trump’s campaign. Trump’s lack of personal likability is at least as important to drive home in the public consciousness as his mindless demagogic agenda, since for so many low-information voters, an emotive sense of likability makes all the difference.

And from macro to micro, the more of Trump there is to see, the less there is to like.

Otero County GOP Chair Facebook posts refer to “black population” as “hatred filled beings” and more

(Yeesh, another one? Here? Seriously? – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Otero County Republican chair Judy Rydberg Reyher says there’s no intended racism in her Facebook posts that appear to make sweeping unfavorable comments about African Americans, including, among other things, that African Americans are “hatred-filled beings” who are kept full of  “hate and resentment” by people like author Toni Morrison.

In one of the ten posts (see below and right), Reyher shared a National Review article last April about Toni Morrison:

Reyher’s comment: “And this woman is supposed to be respected around the country. This is exactly why the black population for the most part have not been able to move forward. They have people like her keeping them full of hate and resentment. And if any black person is successful and/or moves away from their hate, he/she is vilified and destroyed if possible. This picture is looking into the eyes of what might be one of the worst problems the black population must get past. Pass this on because these riots are showing the true ‘color’ of these hatred filled beings.” [BigMedia emphasis]

Asked whether she thinks African Americans are hatred-filled beings, Reyher said, “Some are. Some whites are hatred-filled beings. Some Muslims are hate-filled beings. Some Hispanics are hate-filled beings.  No one should be blanketed.”

Reyher said: “There’s a lot of white people that have that same, I don’t know what you’d call it, victimhood embedded into them. ‘It’s not my fault I’m this way. It’s because a teacher was mean to me or they didn’t like me when I was in school.’ And I get really tired of it. And with blacks, it’s become an industry keeping them stirred up, keeping them angry.

“I meant that as a slam on any color group that plays the victim card.”

Another Facebook meme shared by Reyher last June shows an African American family living in poverty and states, “Poor people have been voting Democrat for FIFTY YEARS and they’re STILL poor.”

Reyher wrote: “Yet these same people refuse to believe it is the Democrats keeping them in this cycle of poverty!!!!! We tell them, they just won’t listen.”

One Facebook commenter wrote, “So sad but true….could it be a comfort zone? Hope not.”

Reyher replied, “I am afraid it is just that.”

Another commenter wrote that Reyher’s post is “too racist for me.”

“This is NOT racist. It is the truth and goes for every single person who believes in the Democrat Party and what they are.”

Asked about the post, Reyher, who’s from southwest Colorado, said:

Reyher: “I believe that to the core. If I offended somebody, I hope to hell I offended them to the point where they say, ‘Maybe so,’ because they have to be offended into reality somehow.”

But she doesn’t see this as a specific problem of African Americans.

(more…)

Poll: Who Will Win The GOP HD-16 Primary?

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. Safely Republican Colorado House District 16 is playing host to an unusual Republican primary race between incumbent Rep. Janak Joshi and former Rep. Larry Liston.

As with all of our polls, we’re interested in knowing who you actually think will win this election–not your personal preference.

Who will win the GOP HD-16 primary?
Janak Joshi
Larry Liston
View Result