“Dr. Chaps” Shocks and Awes America

The election last week by a nearly 70% margin of Gordon "Dr. Chaps" Klingenschmitt to the Colorado General Assembly is emerging as one of the more interesting stories coming out of the 2014 elections in our state–and not in a good way. Rep.-elect Klingenschmitt's unique brand of Youtube preachification, ranging from exorcising President Barack Obama's "demonic spirit" to claiming that Rep. Jared Polis was about to "join ISIS in beheading Christians," has already been widely publicized as fair warning of what he would bring to the state legislature next January. But despite all the attention he received before the election, "Dr. Chaps" overwhelmingly defeated underdog Democratic challenger Lois Fornander, and today is Rep. Mark Waller's elected Republican successor.

This is a nice way of saying that House District 15 now has exactly the representation it deserves.

On Friday, MSNBC's Rachel Maddow introduced Dr. Chaps to her audience (see video above), while national blog Right Wing Watch chronicled Klingenschmitt's "Ten Craziest Moments" for posterity. Worth checking out, complete with video clips from Klingenschmitt's show proving it's not a joke:

1) Gays And Democrats Want To Rape Children
2) Obama Is Possessed By Demons, Requires Exorcism
3) Demonic Transgender Kids Need A Good Spanking (And An Exorcism)
4) We Will Be Forced To Engage In Sodomy
5) Gay People ‘Have Something Unhuman Inside Of Them’
6) Gay Soldiers Wear Diapers
7) Gay Animals Are Of The Devil
8) Obamacare Causes Cancer
9) Obama Will Kill Bundy Ranch Supporters
10) Madonna Is Trying To Have Sex With Me!

We've had a lot of fun at "Dr. Chaps'" expense this year, but the effect he would have on Colorado politics if elected was always hypothetical in our minds–even in an overwhelmingly Republican district like HD-15, there was always the possibility that Klingenschmitt would prove too much even for the most hardened Republican partisan to hold his or her nose and vote for.

As of last Tuesday, Rep.-elect Gordon Klingenschmitt is no longer a hypothetical. And if Chaps was bad for the Republican brand as a candidate, as a bonafide elected Republican state representative he's going to be much, much worse.

To which we can only say: they were warned.

Gardner’s Immigration Tap Dance Continues As Senator-Elect

faceimm

GOP Sen.-elect Cory Gardner appeared on This Week with George Stephanopoulos yesterday, in one of his first national media appearances since his victory last Tuesday. For many viewers who haven't followed the Colorado U.S. Senate race closely, this was a chance to see the much-balleyhooed Colorado Republican wunderkind in action:

“I think it’s important that Republicans show that we can govern maturely, that we can govern with competence,” Gardner added. “And if we do that, in two years from now, we’ll have a good result again with our nominee. If we don’t, we’ll see the same results two years from now, but in a different direction.”

Gardner struck a conciliatory tone on “This Week,” saying that shutting down the government “is a bad idea anytime, anywhere” and  that although he supports repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act, it was not a feasible option while President Obama still occupies the White House…

So far so good, right? At this point, we take Gardner at his word when he says that shutting down the government is a bad idea: it's what he believes now, at any rate. But on the topic most likely to come up in Washington over the next few weeks–Gardner's last few weeks in the U.S. House–old-fashioned finger-pointing intransigence seems set to prevail once again no matter what Gardner says:

Gardner said he hopes President Obama will “do the right thing” and work with Congress on immigration reform rather than taking executive action on his own before the end of the year.

“The question is this: Will the president do the right thing? And I think the president will do the right thing when it comes to immigration reform. And that is working with the House and the Senate instead of going around the House and the Senate,” Gardner said.

It's important to understand the different messages coming from different Republicans right now on immigration reform, and how they essentially guarantee inaction. Republicans are universally opposed to any executive action President Barack Obama may take. At the same time, the President's delay of such action until after the now-over election season greatly upset immigration reform proponents, who view the consequences of each day of inaction to be disastrous. The dramatic increase of unaccompanied children arriving at the U.S. border is just the latest symptom of a crisis that has been building for almost three decades.

With that in mind, you'd think Republicans would be singing Gardner's tune about passing some legislation without delay, wouldn't you? You'd be wrong.

Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL), who was heavily involved in efforts to achieve immigration reform in the House earlier this year, said that the lame duck simply does not offer enough space for such a complicated issue.

“No, not in the lame duck,” he said when Breitbart News asked him about the prospect of immigration reform after the midterm elections and before the end of the year…

House Speaker John Boehner has said a number of times that lawmakers simply do not trust Obama enough to move forward…

Quite the conflict being set up here: Gardner says that Obama must not not take any executive action on immigration, which Obama has vowed to do citing exigent need for action to be taken. But Republicans also say that immigration reform legislation is a nonstarter during the "lame duck" session on Congress this year. Furthermore, Speaker John Boehner says there's "no trust" from Republicans in Obama to enforce what they pass, which makes you wonder how he has any plan to work with the President at all. Not to mention, though Gardner hasn't said it (yet), that executive action by Obama on immigration has been met by threats of impeachment. If this sounds like a train wreck waiting to happen, you're probably right.

This would be a great moment for a newly-elected Senator from Colorado, with six years before his next election, to step up and underscore his fair-sounding words with action. Gardner has frequently paid empty lip service to immigration reform in the last couple of years–a "Thanksgiving tradition"–but when given the chance to support bipartisan immigration reform, Gardner has either done nothing, or in perhaps his most telling action on the issue, actually helped kill GOP Sen. Marco Rubio's reform bill when it reached the House. When Gardner tells George Stephanopoulos that he "has supported immigration reform," one must assume that support came in a form other than votes.

Gardner will have more chances to do the right thing, but this wasn't a very auspicious start.

For Veterans Day, Help Curb Loans That Harm Military Families

(Help win the war on payday lending, a battle close to our hearts – promoted by Colorado Pols)

bigstock-Neon-Sign-series-payday-loan-259047411-e1363870922652

Tomorrow is Veterans Day, so this is a good time to highlight ongoing action by the Department of Defense that is designed to protect active-duty service members and their families from abusive lending practices.

The DoD has proposed extending restrictions on predatory lending, which traps many service members and their dependents. The proposal would expand the number of lending products covered by the military’s 36 percent interest rate cap, and it would close loopholes that lenders have used to get around the current rate cap.
The proposed rule was published in the Federal Register on Sept. 30. A 60-day comment period ends Nov. 28. (See below how you can help support this rule.)

Colorado has implemented successful payday lending reforms, but the new rule would apply here as well. It would limit the interest and fees that military borrowers could be charged to 36 percent APR. Because loans here have a minimum six-month term, they are currently exempt from the DoD’s 36 percent rate cap. According to data from the attorney general’s office, in 2012, Colorado's payday loans had an average effective rate of 129 percent APR.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau strongly supports the DoD’s proposed rules, as do a wide range of consumer groups, including the Center for Responsible Lending, Consumer Federation of America and the National Consumer Law Center.

(more…)

Once Again, So Much For That Blowout

You can look now.

It’s okay, you can look now.

With the dust settling on the 2014 midterm elections in Colorado, an election that undeniably gave beleaguered Republicans in this state victories to be proud of, a more accurate picture of this year's electorate is emerging. As we've noted in the days since as Gov. John Hickenlooper's narrow re-election and Democrats' surrender of only one chamber of the legislature by only one seat gave them reasons to cheer, the high water mark for the GOP in a year where everything was operating in their favor basically amounted to a draw–a split at the top of the ticket, and split control of the legislature by the same single-seat margin the Republicans managed in 2010.

On Election Night, the early returns in Colorado didn't reflect Democratic strongholds that were counting late into the night. As a result, the numbers in Colorado for television audiences fed the national narrative of a Republican wipeout–and excited reporters and local Republicans were only too happy to reinforce this generalization. But in Colorado, we know now that was not the whole story. The Denver Post's Lynn Bartels notes in her story this weekend about the small-ball success of Cory Gardner's field campaign:

Because many of the early returns involved GOP ballots, the initial tally showed voters kicking out Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper [in addition to Udall], and going for Republican Bob Beauprez — but the governor prevailed.

Hickenlooper won by 3.1 percentage points, Gardner by 2.1 percentage points, according to the latest ballot tallies. That's a far different narrative than initial reports showing Gardner with a resounding lead and the governor winning in a squeaker. [Pols emphasis]

And Burt Hubbard, writing for Rocky Mountain PBS, is even more blunt:

Viewers watching Colorado returns on Election Night received a skewed impression of just how results were going at the top of the ticket.

While Republican U.S. Rep. Cory Gardner appeared to be beating Democratic U.S. Sen. Mark Udall in a landslide, Republican gubernatorial candidate Bob Beauprez looked to be edging Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper in a race that remained too close at midnight to call.

But with Denver and Adams counties still counting a small number of ballots Friday morning, Hickenlooper held a wider margin over Beauprez, 49 percent to 46 percent, than Gardner did over Udall, 48.4 percent to 46 percent. Each was different than first perceived as a result of slow vote counting in the Democratic strongholds of Denver and Boulder.

Fewer than 40,000 voters in seven key Colorado counties were the difference between a clean Republican Party sweep of all statewide offices, and both Hickenlooper and Udall holding onto their seats, according to an analysis by Rocky Mountain PBS I-News. [Pols emphasis]

Everything we talk about in this space about competing campaign narratives in this election, Mark Udall's mistakes, Sen.-elect Cory Gardner's audacious no-apologies political reinvention that proved stronger than any mechanism for accountability that exists in today's politics–all of this matters a great deal, and teach lessons about how to win for both sides. But as we said last week when nobody wanted to hear it, 2014 really could have been a lot worse for Colorado Democrats, and they deserve credit for holding back what proved to be an even stronger Republican national wave than 2010 was. Democrats have many mistakes to learn from, but the idea that this election has somehow vanquished them, or changed the blue-trending political dynamics in this state enough for Democrats to lose heart about 2016, simply has no basis in reality.

Kudos to the media for revisiting the Election Night spin, which didn't stand the test of time.

Monday Open Thread

Divide and rule, the politician cries;
Unite and lead, is watchword of the wise.

–Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

GOP Takes Colorado Senate By 876 (Or 689) Votes

UPDATE: Statement from Colorado Senate Democrats, who are holding a press conference at 3:00PM today:

The Democratic caucus plans to do whatever possible to block efforts to take the state backward with respect to economic growth, women's rights, LGBT equality, the environment and workers' rights.

While the loss of this one seat changes which party is in control of the Senate, the Senate Democrats had many victories in this election, including winning back both recall seats, winning 2 out of 4 very difficult seats in Jefferson County, and winning the rural seat on the Western Slope. 

"After several days of wait-and-see, we now know the fate of Senate control," said Senate President Morgan Carroll, D-Aurora. "Under Democratic leadership, we were able to achieve the fourth fastest growing economy in the nation and get the unemployment rate down to the lowest it has been since 2008. We are extremely proud of our accomplishments and all of the people who worked with us to make those possible. Going forward, we will do what we can to defend the rights and liberties that we worked so hard to protect. It is our job to hold the Republicans accountable, work together where we can, and continue to fight for a great state."

—–

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The last update yesterday from Adams County at about 11:30PM indicates that the margin between Senate District 24 candidates Beth Martinez Humenik (R) and Judy Solano (D) went in the opposite direction from previous days–expanding the narrow lead for Humenik to 876 votes where previously Solano was gaining. It should be noted that this total does not include provisional ballots, outstanding overseas and military (UOCAVA) ballots, or deficient ballots that can still be cured through Wednesday, but the math seems clear at this point. This ends the suspense over counting in Adams County, which was slowed by the need to manually inspect write-in votes for an obscure county race with no candidates.

And it means that Colorado Republicans will assume control of the Colorado Senate, flipping an 18-17 majority Democratic chamber to 18-17 GOP control. It's a hard-fought win that Republican deserve credit for, and ensures Republicans will have a voice in legislative policymaking over the next two years. In 2010, the last "GOP wave" election, Colorado Republicans similarly won a single-seat majority in one chamber of the Colorado legislature–that time winning the House by under 200 votes.

The other side of the coin is that Democrats have held the governor's race, the state House, and came up less than 900 votes short of holding both chambers of the legislature in one of the worst election years for Democrats anyone can remember. This too is the result of enormous effort by Democrats that should be acknowledged. The second midterm election with a Democratic President at the low point of his popularity, Republicans and pundits widely recognized 2014 to be the last best chance of crushing the decade-old "Colorado Model" that led to Democratic dominance for so many elections. And for all the accolades Republicans deservedly get for toppling Mark Udall, and again taking one chamber of the state legislature by one seat, this election simply was not the wipeout for Democrats that it was in many other states. The "Colorado Model" remains very much in business.

Laura Waters Woods

Laura Waters Woods

As for the Colorado Senate, Democrats' narrow and unexpected (at least by some) loss in SD-24 may not even be the race that matters in the long run. While all eyes have been focused on Adams County the last few days, the SD-19 race in Jefferson County between apparent winner Republican Laura Waters Woods and Democrat Rachel Zenzinger quietly narrowed to only 689 votes. This result may prove more important to long-term control of the Senate for several reasons–the biggest being that Sen.-elect Waters Woods doesn't get a full term. Woods is right back up for election in 2016 to realign the seat with its normal interval, which is being up in presidential years.

This means that for the next two years, all eyes are now squarely on Woods–instantly the most vulnerable member of a brittle Republican majority. Woods' primary victory over establishment-favored Republican Lang Sias, backed by the hard-right Rocky Mountain Gun Owners, could very easily come back to haunt the GOP in the next election. Woods won this seat by roughly the same number of votes that Evie Hudak did in 2012. Assuming she becomes the fringe-right firebrand most expect her to be in the Senate, she will be a much richer target than Sias would ever have been.

In any event, the last few days' experience in Adams County should convince everyone to stop writing in Mickey Mouse and Bugs Bunny as candidates in uncontested local races. Okay? It gums up the works more than it's worth in giggles.

It’s the Fucking Media’s Fault! Or is it?

(We always blame the media – promoted by Colorado Pols)

It’s easy to complain about journalism among friends. But what do you get out of it? Echoes or silence.

Here’s a chance to talk back to the media directly. On Tuesday, a panel of top local journalists will discuss the highs and lows of media coverage of the 2014 election—and take questions from the audience.

The panel features Shaun Boyd, Political Specialist, CBS4, Peter Marcus, Denver Correspondent, Durango Herald, Chuck Plunkett, Politics Editor, The Denver Post, Nicholas Riccardi, Western Political Reporter, Associated Press, and Eli Stokols, Political Reporter, Fox 31 Denver.

Any question about local news coverage of the election is fair game. Why so few stories about Bob Beauprez’s wild birther ideas? Were John Hickenlooper’s gaffes underplayed? Did reporters allow senatorial candidate Cory Gardner to bury his Tea Party past? What about Benghazi, ISIS, and Obama?

The panel will cover the spectrum of opinions in part because moderators come from the left and right on the political spectrum: Kelly Maher is director of the conservative Compass Colorado, and yours truly is a progressive blogger.

The event takes place Tuesday, Nov. 11, from 7:30-9 a.m. at 1380 Lawrence Street in the 2nd-floor Terrace Room.

It’s free, and even includes coffee and continental breakfast. Doors open at 7:30 a.m. and the discussion runs from 7:45 – 9 a.m. Please RSVP to tips @bigmedia.org. You can also email questions, if you don’t want to ask them yourself.

Paul Teske, Dean of University of Colorado Denver’s School of Public Affairs, will offer introductory remarks. UCD’s School of Public Affairs is sponsoring the event, along with BigMedia.org and Compass Colorado.

Republicans Concede Colorado House, Still Awaiting Senate

colorado-state-capitol

The Denver Post's John Aguilar reports:

Republican officials conceded Friday morning that they won't be able to gain enough seats to take majority control of the Colorado House.

They have scheduled elections to choose minority leadership positions at 1 p.m. Friday.

House Minority Leader Brian DelGrosso, R-Loveland, said he was gratified the party picked up at least three seats after being down 37-28 in the last legislative session…

GOP House Minority Leader Brian DelGrosso's statement reads less like a concession and more like the next talk-radio conspiracy theory:

“This election we had an uphill battle. Democrats gerrymandered the house district maps, rammed through their highly-partisan election laws, and out spent us 3-1. The fact that we picked up at least three seats and came less than 500 votes from gaining control of the House is a great success.

“In this election, almost 190,000 more Coloradans chose to vote for a House Republican instead of a House Democrat. That difference is more than three times the margin of victory in Colorado’s gubernatorial race, but shockingly still not enough to secure the House majority.”

Apparently Rep. DelGrosso didn't get the memo that Colorado's "highly partisan election law" didn't hurt Republicans in the least–but again, talking points are almost always a few months behind events. And before anyone gets carried away with this latest bit of "treacherous Democrat gerrymandering" apocrypha, understand that there were a significant number of uncontested races this year that shrink the number of Republican votes actually cast against Democrats to a much smaller figure.

Since the mail ballot fraud conspiracy doesn't appear to have lived up to billing, it's good to see that gerrymandering is there as a fallback for Peter Boyles listener community!

In other news, counting continues at a snail's pace in Adams County, where the unexpectedly pivotal SD-24 race remains undecided–and with it, whether Democrats will have undivided control of the Colorado General Assembly. We'll update as further results come in today–the latest word is that Judy Solano is still closing on Republican Beth Humenik with about 6,500 ballots left to count. Depending on how close the final count there is, the allowed time for problem ballots to be "cured," and potentially a recount, may apply.

Polis Improves Percentage Over 2012, Irritating Big Oil Greatly

Rep. Jared Polis.

Rep. Jared Polis.

It seems like ancient history today, but just a few months ago, Colorado's political class was embroiled in a major controversy over proposed "local control" ballot initiatives to give communities greater say in regulating oil and gas drilling. Several residential cities along the northern Front Range have voted to suspend or even ban the practice of hydraulic fracturing within their boundaries, in the interest of protecting residents from drilling's harmful effects but conflicting with the mineral rights owned by energy companies.

Out of a number of proposals that circulated among environmentalist and civic groups this year, two proposals supported by Rep. Jared Polis (D-Boulder) gained traction: an initiative to increase drilling setbacks from other development, and another putting an 'environmental Bill of Rights' into the state's consitution. Environmental protection has long been part of Polis' agenda, but it took on a greater importance for him after a driller violated the rules adjacent to property owned by the Congressman, later resulting in tens of thousands of dollars in fines.

At the same time, Polis was subjected to over-the-top criticism from everyone in Colorado with any connection to the oil gas industry, which if you haven't been paying attention includes a lot of Democrats. All kinds of speculation about the destruction Polis' initiatives would mean for Democrats up and down the ticket was traded at water coolers and spread among chattering class media outlets. Would Jared Polis' upward mobility in Washington take a hit? Might he even perhaps even lose to affable Republican CD-2 challenger George Leing for daring to touch the "Colorado Third Rail" of taking on the energy industry? When the race was called on Tuesday night for Polis, the headline from the Daily Camera's Alex Burness was almost gleeful: "By narrowest margin of career, Polis back for Term 4 in 2nd District."

Except, now that the votes are mostly in, that's not really true: fewer people voted this year, but in percentage terms, Rep. Polis actually improved from 2012 to 2014:

jared2012

jared2014

Sure, you can quibble about the role of the third party candidates in 2012, and it's not really that big of an increase, but the fact remains that the 2014 "Frackapalooza" debate has demonstrably not hurt Jared Polis politically. In every objective sense, George Leing was a better candidate than 2012's Sen. Kevin "Crazypants" Lundberg, and Leing had the benefit of all of this industry-backed presumption that Jared had "overstepped." All that before we even mention that this was a "Republican wave year."

Bottom line: as we've said before, the votes by residents of communities in Polis' district to suspend or ban fracking–Boulder, Broomfield, Lafayette, and the others–are proof that Polis is representing his constituents. There's some disappointment on the left about the deal by Polis to drop his 2014 ballot measures in favor of a commission to recommend legislation on the subject, but the other side of that coin is what happens should that compromise effort fail. In that event, we expect Polis to be back, with ballot measures that can pass as this year's could have.

From these results, we'd say Polis should have something else going for him: little to fear.

Inside The Triumph of “Con Man Cory”

Cory Gardner and the smile that changed everything.

Cory Gardner and the smile that changed everything.

In order to understand what happened this week in Colorado's U.S. Senate race, which saw the first ouster of a sitting U.S. Senator from this state in decades, we return to a story that came out on Election Day by Politico's Neil Malhotra, titled "Why Do Voters Believe Lies?"

The lede of the story? Colorado GOP Rep. Cory Gardner.

There is no such thing as a federal personhood bill.” Or so said Colorado Rep. Cory Gardner, the Republican candidate currently locked in a tight Senate race against Democratic incumbent Sen. Mark Udall, in an interview a few weeks ago. It was a surprising statement—not only because the federal personhood bill, otherwise known as Life Begins at Conception Act, does in fact exist but also because Gardner himself co-sponsored it. “This is all politics,” he added, blaming Udall for spreading untruths about him.

It was, indeed, all about politics. Gardner’s strong support of personhood legislation might have bolstered his popularity among conservative Republicans. But after declaring his Senate bid, Gardner found himself having to appeal to a more moderate electorate (Colorado voters have repeatedly rejected a personhood ballot measure) and changed his position on the issue. So far, his equivocation hasn’t hurt him…

In the end, Gardner's decision to abandon the Colorado state Personhood abortion ban ballot measures he had supported for years right after entering the Senate race did not prevent him from defeating incumbent Sen. Mark Udall as we and many Democrats believed it would. As Democrats cried foul and began loudly hammering away at the inconsistencies of Gardner's flip-flop on Personhood, Gardner never once admitted that there were any inconsistencies. Udall, Democratic surrogates, and eventually the press itself grew exasperated trying to rattle the unflappable Gardner, pointing out that not even other proponents of the Colorado Personhood abortion ban or the equivalent federal Life at Conception Act agreed with him–his insistence that the two measures were different, or that Gardner's "federal Personhood bill" would ban abortion or abortifacient birth control.

The enormity of Gardner's falsehood on the state and federal Personhood bills shocked Democratic strategists, and convinced them that Gardner had opened himself to a fatal line of attack. But, as Politico's Malhotra wrote on Election Day, there was something Democrats hadn't considered:

[R]esearch has shown that attempts to correct misinformation don’t just fall flat; they often backfire. Forcing people to reckon with and argue against facts they don’t want to accept actually makes them more entrenched in their political predispositions…

People on both sides of the political spectrum do this. When they see information they like, they are not motivated to come up with reasons why it is wrong. When they see information they don’t like, they work very hard to discredit it.

The smile.

The smile.

Much has been made of Cory Gardner's indestructible smile. Gardner's sunny disposition ingratiated him with non-ideological voters, and made less informed voters of all stripes more likely to be skeptical of negative messages against him. The harsh subject matter of abortion, rape and incest, etc. contrasted against Gardner's smile, frequently positive ads, and upbeat demeanor generally. Gardner's parry to the attacks on abortion, a dubious proposal to make oral contraceptives available over the counter, succeeded in "muddying up" the issue–not enough to win over all women voters, but enough to win some and introduce confusion about where he really stood with others.

But abortion was far from the only issue on which Gardner was caught red-handed lying to voters. Local and national media fact-checkers dismantled Gardner's claims about his past support for renewable energy, questioned major discrepancies in Gardner's story about his "cancelled" health insurance plan, and easily discredited Gardner's crass fearmongering about the Ebola virus and the Islamic insurgency in the Middle East–just as a few examples. But Udall's campaign failed to make any of these demonstrable lies stick to Gardner. Part of it was the fact that Gardner had successfully "gummed to death" the abortion issue, which made it harder for voters to accept other negatives against him. But the other part was that Gardner was already winning the voters over with positive energy, trumping all such fact-based arguments.

In the end, this was a perfect storm for Mark Udall, and a challenge he was just not built to overcome. Udall, a contemplative and reserved public figure not predisposed to self-promotion, couldn't match Gardner's relentless charisma, and as a result the negative attacks on Gardner lacked a counterbalancing affirmative case for Udall's re-election. Gardner out-smiled and out-gabbed Udall–and not even the press, by September and October livid over Gardner's many evasions and falsehoods, was able to make a difference.

Does Mark Udall deserve blame for his punishing defeat, which almost certainly had negative effects down the ticket for other Colorado Democrats? Absolutely–once it was clear that the abortion attacks were not gaining the right kind of traction, Udall's campaign and Democratic surrogates should have broadened the message to include all the other things Gardner wasn't being honest about on the campaign trail. It wasn't wrong to attack Gardner over Personhood, especially after Gardner made it an issue–but it was wrong to rely on that message after it hit its point of diminishing return. Gardner's lies about energy, Obamacare, and other subjects could have supplemented a broader narrative of how voters couldn't trust Gardner on any issue. Instead of fixating on abortion, Udall's team could have pivoted to how all of these issues render Gardner untrustworthy.

It would not be wrong for Democrats, and anyone else who cares about honesty in politics, to be deeply concerned by what Gardner's lie-based victory says about our political culture today. In 2012, Mitt Romney was broadly perceived to be untrustworthy after his own flip-flops and false statements.

The difference, of course, is that Romney lost. But Gardner's victory in 2014 could validate the strategy of lying to win elections and never apologizing–or even admitting that you're lying, even after everyone with an ounce of political savvy knows it. Lying in politics is not new, of course, but Gardner has elevated it to a new level–of ruthlessness, shamelessness, or brilliance depending on whose side you're on.

And we cannot see how that is a good thing for America.

Tancredo launches “Stop Chris Christie PAC”

(Can you blame him? – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Tom Tancredo.

Tom Tancredo.

If you follow Tom Tancredo you know he makes it clear where he stands on people, like Ryan Call (dislikes him), and places, like Mecca (bomb it).

So, even as Republicans are still warm from hugging each other, it's no surprise that Tancredo is launching a new campaign to stop New Jersey Gov. Chis Christie's presidential aspirations.

Tancredo doesn't like Christie, and you can't blame him. You recall Tancredo's promising path to the Colorado governor's office was upended this summer by his own party, through a vicious ad campaign orchestrated surreptitiously by the Republican Governors' Association, which is chaired by… Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey.

Tancredo is fighing back now with his "Stop Chris Christie PAC."

Speaking with Grassroots Radio Colorado (KLZ 560-AM) host Kris Cook Oct. 27, Tancredo said he's already "filed papers" to create the Stop Christie PAC, allowing him to do "everything" he can to prevent Christie from securing the Republican nomination for president.

"He is no more a Republican than the man in them moon," Tancredo told Cook. "He is a left wing, east coast liberal."

TANCREDO: "You know, to be absolutely fair here, and clear, I have a bone to pick with him in particular, because of what he did during our primary," Tancredo said on air. "You know, although, I must ad– we have never gotten along. We’ve always argued, especially about immigration. We did so publicly. I have never liked the guy. I have certainly never supported him for anything, and because he was concerned that I would, in fact, go against the [United States] Chamber o f Commerce position on immigration and make it a big deal, and I might win, he chose to spend a quarter of a million dollars of Republican money – Governors’ Association money—

COOK: Right.

TANCREDO: –to attack me, here, in Colorado. And, launder the money through Attorneys General Association.

COOK: And five other organizations.

Tancredo held off promoting his Stop Chris Christie PAC until after Tuesday's election to avoid hurting Colorado Republicans.

"I don’t want to do anything that’s going to hurt Bob Beauprez or any other Republican in Colorado during–or before this election," said Tancredo on the KLZ show, which aired before the election on Oct. 27. "But when it’s over with, I guarantee you, I’m going after him."

(more…)

Andrew Romanoff: Not Just Beaten, But Shellacked

Andrew Romanoff.

Andrew Romanoff.

As Colorado Public Radio's Sandra Fish noted yesterday, Democrats substantially outspent Republicans in this year's biggest congressional matchup in Colorado, the CD-6 race–a race that Republican Mike Coffman, as of the latest counts, won by nearly ten points.

U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman will return to Congress after facing a difficult challenge from former state House Speaker Andrew Romanoff in a race that cost nearly $16.5 million, according to Sunlight.

Romanoff outspent Coffman by more than $1 million through Oct. 15. But Romanoff faced a barrage of attacks ads from the National Republican Congressional Committee.

Fish offers this handy graph to show how Democrats outspent the GOP in CD-6 this year:

The final result of the CD-6 race this year contrasts against two years ago, when underfunded underdog Democratic state Rep. Joe Miklosi ran against Coffman and lost by only two points. There is of course the difference in the electorate between 2012 and this year, but not enough to fully account for the difference in the two outcomes. It's clear, based on polling in downballot races in the same district this year in addition to the difference from 2012, that Democrat Andrew Romanoff substantially underperformed in this race.

For us, watching the much better-equipped Romanoff get beaten so handily was akin to the experience of 2011's Proposition 103 versus last year's Amendment 66. Both school finance tax increase measures, Proposition 103 ran a shoestring campaign with almost no money while Amendment 66 had a $10 million war chest. The rest, as our readers know, is history: all the millions spent on Amendment 66 didn't move the needle a bit over Proposition 103's defeat.

The lesson in both? Money has to be there to win, but it can't save you from yourself. Despite Romanoff's surprisingly strong ability to raise money for this race, as a candidate he repeatedly failed to either distinguish himself or capitalize on Coffman's weaknesses. Romanoff's message, like the in-retrospect bad idea to kick off his campaign with a right-leaning "balance the budget" theme, failed to motivate the Democratic base. And as we saw in the U.S. Senate race, Coffman's willingness to audaciously reinvent himself ran laps around Romanoff's capacity to discredit him.

Democrats we've talked to since Tuesday night remain convinced that CD-6 is a pickup opportunity for the right Democratic candidate in the right year. In hindsight, might Karen Middleton have run a better race? In 2016, Democrats get another shot at Coffman–and with Coffman now very much aware of the perennial threat in his swing district, they'll need to make that one count. The more distance Coffman can put between his hard-right conservative past and his new "moderate" image, the harder it will be to ever dislodge him.