GOP Senate candidate fears U.S. government could quickly turn on citizens

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Charles Ehler, who’s one of the dozen or so Republicans vying for the chance to run against Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet, shared this image on his Facebook page, with no explanation:

I called Ehler,  who is an Air Force Veteran, to find out how close he thinks our government is to rounding us up in boxcars–or if this was a joke. I mean, banning assault rifles leads to this?

Ehler: “It’s funny, and it’s not funny,” he told me, “because we could appear to be a beneveolent society, and as soon as the guns are gone, overnight, we could have a society like that. The force of government can turn on citizens almost at the blink of an eye. It’s called human nature. I have the force and you don’t.

Are we there? I don’t know that we’re there, but boy it could turn quickly. I really don’t think Americans need to find that out. We don’t need to create the conditions for it.”


Wednesday Open Thread

“Pressure is something you feel when you don’t know what the hell you’re doing.”

–Peyton Manning

Math Is Hard, Tom Lucero Edition

The post-Iowa speculation on the right side of the aisle in Colorado is taking its usual turn for the comedic–here’s the always colorful Adams County Republican John Sampson, sounding off darkly about coin tosses that decided a few precincts in the admittedly close Democratic contest between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders:


That’s not exactly right, of course–coin tosses that decided a few individual precincts did not themselves amount to a decisive margin across the state of Iowa, and Hillary Clinton’s overall narrow victory was not decided “by a coin toss.” Still, good BS talk-radio fodder for the day after the caucuses.

But then 2016 Republican HD-51 candidate and longtime GOP wannabe politico Tom Lucero waded into the discussion! Ladies and gentlemen, it’s much, much worse than John Sampson thought:


Now, we weren’t math majors in college, but something about this statement seemed, well, a little questionable to us. So we broke out our handy-dandy calculator.

49.86% + 49.57% + .57% =

We don’t want to give anything away here, but some of you have already worked this out in your heads. Or grabbed a calculator like we did (we are at least admitting to it). But so there are no spoilers, click “More” below to get the answer to the 4th grade arithmetic problem, 49.86% + 49.57% + .57% =.


What Iowa Says About Colorado’s U.S. Senate Race

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R), state Sen. Tim Neville (R).

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R), state Sen. Tim Neville (R).

To best understand the relationship between the outcome of the Iowa caucuses yesterday and Colorado politics, we’ll refer back to the Denver Post’s John Frank, and his story late last month on the state of the Republican U.S. Senate primary:

The presidential contest is defining the early outlook on Colorado’s race, creating an opening for a political outsider, putting the focus on national security and foreshadowing a messy campaign in the months ahead.

“You are going to end up seeing some similar factionalism and similar rhetoric coming out of the Senate candidates,” said Ryan Call, the former state GOP chairman. “And it will be difficult to reconcile those ideological factions and get them to pull together in support of the nominee for president or U.S. Senate.”

Sen. Ted Cruz’s victory in the Iowa caucuses yesterday once again demonstrated the strength of the insurgent conservative grassroots in a “post-Tea Party” Republican Party–a result that needs to be repeated in the next few primaries in order overcome the stigma of Iowa picking social conservatives, but proving Cruz to be the likely recipient of Donald Trump voters should they begin to peel off en masse after his disappointing second place finish.

In Frank’s informal matchup of Colorado U.S. Senate candidates, state Sen. Tim Neville and Cruz were the logical ideological pairing. The momentum Cruz has after winning Iowa straightforwardly validates and emboldens Neville’s position in the U.S. Senate race. We’ll have to see how the potentially disruptive entry of former CSU athletic director Jack Graham into the race rebalances the enormous field of candidates. What we can say is that the Colorado Republican Party is in no position to stop Neville in favor of a Washington-favored candidate, and the Rocky Mountain Gun Owners-backed “Neville political machine” has demonstrated its power in intraparty battles from Laura Woods to Tim Leonard.

There’s a prevalent suspicion among journalists covering the U.S. Senate primary that Democrats want to run against Neville in the general election, and are building him up by focusing on him as the principal threat. But this ignores the more important reality, which is Neville has already demonstrated he is capable of winning the primary. Just as important, his ability to win is not a plug that can be pulled by the party brass.

If the history of the Iowa caucuses tells us anything, it’s not to draw any hard conclusions from their outcome. The relationships between presidential and Colorado politics aptly characterized by John Frank are all subject to change with events. They key point for today is that there is a common theme of an “unruly” conservative grassroots, which we assume they would take as a compliment, in both Ted Cruz’s victory and the Republican primary politics in Colorado.

And it is not to be underestimated by anyone.

Get More Smarter on Groundhog Day (Feb. 2)

MoreSmarterLogo-SnowmanSee? We told you that you were going to get a snow 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).


The big news is in from Gobbler’s Knob: The Groundhog emerged and did not “see” his shadow, which is supposed to mean that we are headed for an early spring. Punxsutawney Phil did not elaborate on when the snow will stop falling in Colorado.


► If you need to get caught up on everything that happened in Iowa last night, Colorado Pols has you covered. Here’s the recap.

Ted Cruz managed to hold on for a victory in Iowa, with Donald Trump and Marco Rubio rounding out the top three. Combined, Cruz and Trump captured more than 52% of the vote in Iowa; even before the results were announced, the surge of Cruz and Trump had Congressional Republicans freaking the freak out. From The Hill:

The real reason for all the anxiety among Republicans about Trump and Cruz is the fear that either man could drag down the party in Congress.

With Trump or Cruz at the top of the GOP slate in November, the Democrats like their chances of taking back the House and Senate…

…By the GOP convention, the question will not be about endorsements. It will be about how many Congressional Republicans openly reject Trump or Cruz, if either man is the nominee.

The field of candidates did finally start to shrink after last night. Mike Huckabee has left the race on the Republican side, and Democrat Martin O’Malley is also throwing in the towel. Ben Carson is going home to do laundry.


► You may be enjoying your snow day, but the Colorado legislature is still working — they just scheduled a late 10:30 am start this morning.


Get even more smarter after the jump…

Rocky Mountain Whistle Pigs and Reluctant Politicians

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

It seems unlikely that any yellow-bellied “whistle pig” or other Rocky Mountain variant of the ground hog will be out today to cast a shadow. But I still think Colorado is in for a few more weeks of winter.  It’s going to take that long for the snow to melt in town in some places, with what we have already, and its only Ground Hogs’ Day.  If El Niño keeps up, there could be a huge snowpack in the high country come spring.

It is one of those counter-intuitive ideas that the combination of the cyclical weather pattern that drives moisture from the Pacific like a spigot across the West and climate change could be super-charging the storms, especially frozen ones.

The oceans are warming at a fast rate, capturing the vast majority of the globe’s increasing temperature over the past decades.

But it feels like winter, regardless of climate change or prognosticating rodents.

Animals do tell us something though, whether you embrace this odd relic in celebration of Imbolc or not. Including small mammals. And buried in snow or not, the science is becoming clear that climate change is a threat to many species, small and large.

On the occasion of Ground Hogs Day, the National Wildlife Federation has released a new report: “Big Climate Challenges Facing Small Mammals.”

Among the examples of animals in trouble from the impacts of climate change, the Canada lynx, pine martens, pikas, and snowshoe hare are all important species among Colorado’s healthy wildlife panoply.

“We know what’s causing climate change and we know the solutions. What we need now is national and local leadership to make smart energy choices and wise investments in protecting our wildlife and natural resources,” the report concludes.

The Southern Rocky Mountains of Colorado sit in a transitional zone, highly susceptible to impacts from human-driven climate change. Climate change is already disrupting weather, driving insect infestations and wildfire, changing our forests, bringing drought and torrential downpours…


What Happened in Iowa?

Grandpa Munster takes Iowa!

Grandpa Munster takes Iowa!

If you missed out on all of the happenings from the Iowa caucus last night — or if you are still buried in a snow cave somewhere — Colorado Pols has you covered. Here’s a quick recap of what happened at the Iowa caucuses, and what happened next…

But first, kudos to Pols reader “flatiron” for winning our Iowa Caucus Prediction Contest. We’ll do it again when New Hampshire votes on Tuesday.


Texas Sen. Ted Cruz was the big winner last night in the Iowa caucuses, finishing first in a crowded Republican field — just as many observers had been predicting for weeks. Cruz had seemed to be losing momentum in the last few days, particularly after a brutal performance in last Thursday’s GOP debate, and he trailed Donald Trump in the final Des Moines Register poll released Monday morning. But Cruz’s well-regarded ground game brought home an important victory. Here’s the top five for the GOP:

  1. Ted Cruz: 27.65%
  2. Donald Trump: 24.31%
  3. Marco Rubio: 23.1%
  4. Ben Carson: 9.31%
  5. Rand Paul: 4.54%

Former Virginia Gov. Jim Gilmore finished last, with 12 votes. Not 12% — 12 total. Still, that’s seven more votes than Tom Tancredo received when he ran for President in 2008.

While Iowa was certainly a big victory for Cruz, recent history hasn’t been kind to the top GOP finishers in the first voting state. George W. Bush was the last Republican to win in Iowa and go on to capture the Presidency. Rick Santorum and Mike Huckabee, respectively, won the last two Iowa caucuses.


I'm going to need a new pair of pants.

I’m going to need a new pair of pants.

The Republican field may finally start to shrink down after Iowa. Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee dropped out of the race altogether after the results were posted; Huckabee had said for weeks that he would withdraw if he didn’t finish in the Top 3 (he limped home at #9, with 1.79% of the vote). Former Sen. Rick Santorum’s campaign would need an infusion of cash just to be running on fumes, and after failing to capture even 1% in Iowa, his end is near.

Retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson finished fourth last night, but percentage-wise, he was nowhere near third-place finisher Marco Rubio. Carson did have the most memorable moment of the evening, however. Carson didn’t even stay around long enough for the results to be posted in Iowa. His campaign announced last night that Carson would be going home to Florida to rest and “get a fresh set of clothes,” rather than traveling immediately to New Hampshire in advance of voting next Tuesday (Feb. 9). Perhaps Carson isn’t yet prepared to throw in the towel completely, but leaving the campaign trail to do laundry will probably become a new euphemism in American politics. 


As coaches love to say, "a win is a win."

As coaches love to say, “a win is a win.”

For the Democrats, Iowa was too close to call for much of the night. In the final tally, Hillary Clinton “won” Iowa by the slimmest of margins. Somewhere in Iowa, there are a couple of Bernie Sanders supporters who are kicking themselves for not showing up at their caucus site:

  1. Hillary Clinton: 49.82%
  2. Bernie Sanders: 49.61%
  3. Martin O’Malley: 0.57%

O’Malley, the former Maryland Governor, announced last night that he would be “suspending” his campaign. O’Malley wasn’t a factor in Iowa, where some observers thought he might generate just enough support that he could tip the scales to Clinton or Sanders with his endorsement. The Democrats, then, are down to their final two candidates for their party’s nomination.

The Colorado Pols Iowa Caucus Prediction Contest

BIG UPDATE: And the winner is…


It was a close call between “flatiron,” “itlduso.” and “Mr. Toodles.” Both “itlduso” and “Mr. Toodles” had the top four GOP finishers in order (no entry selected the top 5 GOP candidates in correct order), but “flatiron” was remarkably close in projecting the percentages at the top of the field for both Parties.

Congratulations, “flatiron.” Email us with your mailing address (, and the Jim Gilmore button will soon be yours to cherish forever.


You could win this Jim Gilmore for President button!

You could win this campaign button!

It’s finally here! The Iowa caucuses are today! Hurray! Huzzah!

To celebrate, Colorado Pols is running its own “Iowa Caucus Prediction” contest. The winner will receive a Jim Gilmore for President campaign button, just like the one in the image at right.

To enter the contest: Copy the sample “ballot” below, insert your predictions, and paste it back into the comments section. Please don’t forget to include the percentage of the vote that you are predicting for each candidate — vote percentages will be used as the tiebreaker to determine a winner.

If you need some rough numbers for comparison, here’s the results from the 2008 Iowa caucuses. *Entries must be entered into the comments section of this post by 5:00 pm today in order to be eligible to win the totally-rad Gilmore button.

1) Candidate Name, XX%
2) Candidate Name, XX%
3) Candidate Name, XX%
4) Candidate Name, XX%
5) Candidate Name, XX%

1) Candidate Name, XX%
2) Candidate Name, XX%


Following in the Footsteps of Losers, GOP Senate Candidate Wants to Axe Dept. of Education

(Harsh, but accurate, headline. — promoted by Colorado Pols)

El Paso County Commissioner Peggy Littleton.

El Paso County Commissioner Peggy Littleton.

Just as Colorado’s GOP State Chair Steve House is telling his fellow Republicans to talk more about education, GOP Senate candidate Peggy Littleton is saying that one of her top priorities if elected would be to abolish the Department of Education.

Asked by KCOL morning host Jimmy Lakey what she’d do if she were the “queen for a day” in the U.S. Senate, Littleton said:

Littleton: I would love to see the Department of Education go away. I don’t want those bureaucrats in Washington to deermine what our kids are going to learn and be able to do and have taken education away from the parents, which is where it originally belongs.” Listen to Littleton on KCOL’s Jimmy Lakey Show 1.26.16

Littleton is following in the footsteps of a list of (mostly) failed Republicans who’ve called for the elimination of the Department of Education. (Usually they don’t talk about the the Department’s job training, grant making, and research functions.)

Rick Perry remembered it during his Ooops Mooment, when he forgot one of the three federal departments he’d shutter.

During his failed U.S. Senate run, Ken Buck called for its closure. So did loser U.S. Senate candidate Jane Norton. Failed Scott McInnis suggested axing it in 2010.

Does Littleton want to be part of that group? Maybe she wants to lose?

When Will Iowa Caucus Results Be Available? Your Iowa Open Thread

ENJOY_IOWAUPDATE: Check these links for the latest results (h/t to longtime Polster “Phoenix Rising“).

Iowa Republican Party Caucus Results

Iowa Democratic Party Caucus Results


Iowa caucus-goers will convene at 7:00 pm tonight (6:00 Mountain Time). Results should start to trickle in soon afterward, depending on the size and turnout at various locations.

The Des Moines Register is probably your best bet for updated results so long as the Internet tubes don’t explode.

For more information on caucus specifics, check this guide from

Please use this thread to discuss the caucus results as they become available, perhaps as soon as 7:00 pm (Mountain Time)

Keyser dodges questions on TABOR and immigration

(Keyser resigned how many days ago? C’mon man… – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

State Rep. Jon Keyser (R-Morrison), sans feet-in-mouth.

Rep. Jon Keyser (R-Morrison).

It what appears to be the first radio interview of his U.S. Senate run, state Rep. Jon Keyser dodged questions on whether he’d like to change TABOR and abolish a state program offering in-state tuition for undocumented college students.

On KNUS 710-AM Saturday morning, host Craig Silverman asked Keyser, “Are you a high tax or a low tax kind of guy? And how do you feel about changing TABOR – the Taxpayer Bill of Rights in Colorado?”

Keyser (@8:35 below): Well, certainly, that’s a state issue, and I’m running for United States Senate, but I am a low tax guy.  I think that the free market economy is something that is always going to work best and the more government, the more regulation that you pile on, the less the business owner – the small business owner, the families – have the ability to be free and make the judgment of how to spend their money the way they want to spend it.

Keyser’s refusal to answer questions on state issues came just five days after he resigned from the state house.

In a series of short questions about policy issues, Silverman asked Keyser, “Should we have in-state tuition for illegal immigrant children?”

Keyser (@7:30 below): You know what?  I don’t think we need to – that’s something that the Colorado voters, I think, have already discussed. But where my focus will be is National security. And Michael Bennet has been terrible on that.  You know, he wants open borders.  I mean, he just recently opposed some very commo- sense legislation to reform our immigration system and that would prevent radical Islamist terrorists from posing and masquerading as refugees coming to our country.

Keyser aligned himself with U.S. Senate Republicans when he told Silverman that Syrians should not be allowed in the U.S. for now because he doesn’t think they can be screened well enough at the present time.

Keyser expressed his opposition to the Iran nuclear agreement negotiated by Obama, which lifted economic sanctions while aiming to stop Iran from developing nuclear bombs.

Keyser said Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet’s vote in favor of the pact shows he “cares more about the Iranian economy than he does about the Colorado economy.” Ouchy.

In response to a question about global warming, Keyser said he thinks “the climate is changing, but the question is, how much, and to what extent human factors are contributing to that.”

Keyser, who also indicated he is for the death penalty but against most abortions, is part of a crowded field of about a dozen Republicans vying to take on Bennet.


Dems Roll Priola Over “Family Values” Hypocrisy

priolakidsGOP Rep. Kevin Priola, looking to trade up to the Senate this year in a competitive race to succeed outgoing Democratic Sen. Mary Hodge, did himself no favors last week after requesting a delay in voting on a parental leave bill to take his own child to a doctor’s appointment–and then voting no on the bill.

Priola’s gaffe opened up a line of attack from Democrats and allies that he and Republicans hoping to hold the Senate in 2016 do not need. In a press release from liberal group ProgressNow Colorado today:

“As the parent of a Jeffco public school student, being there for my son’s educational needs is personally important,” said ProgressNow Colorado political director Alan Franklin. “As a fellow family man, Rep. Priola should be able to appreciate the difficulty we face being there for our kids. But not only did Kevin Priola vote against parental leave for school activities, he did so after hypocritically asking to be excused for a child’s doctor’s appointment.”

“It’s just another example of the right wing’s hostility toward the ‘family values’ they claim to champion,” said Franklin. “When families are in conflict with corporate special interests, the ‘party of family values’ leaves the families of Colorado out in the cold. By delaying his vote against parental leave with the excuse of needing to take care of his own children, Rep. Priola exposes hypocrisy much greater than his own.”

The Democratic Senate Campaign Fund sent this statement to us over the weekend with a knock on Priola from Democratic opponent Jenise May:

Representative Kevin Priola who is running for Senate District 25 believes that parents should be able to take unpaid time off from their job for their children, but only if it is for him to spend time with his children. Last week it was reported that a vote on unpaid time off in the House Education Committee was delayed as Rep. Priola had to take his child to the doctor. After taking time off to deal with his family issues, Priola made his position very clear. He and his family are worthy of earning unpaid leave to deal with family issues. However, hardworking Colorado families are not so worthy in Priola’s eyes. On Wednesday, he voted ‘No’ on House Bill 16-1002 in Committee.

This hypocritical behavior did not end on Wednesday. After all of this, Priola then attacked teachers saying that they should “hold parent-teacher conferences on weekends” supposedly to allow for parents to be able to attend, regardless of their work schedule. Not only does this weekend parent teacher conference policy hurt the already overworked and under-paid teachers across the state, but it also would not be necessary if the bill that Priola voted ‘No’ on became law.

Former Representative Jenise May, who is running for Senate District 25 against Priola, said on Friday “It is sad that hardworking Colorado families are not able to take advantage of the same unpaid time off that Representative Priola uses at the Capitol. I knew he would be against any paid leave, but he should understand that many parents are unable to even take one shift off a year to help their children succeed academically.”

This unforced error by Rep. Priola carries more than the usual messaging danger for Republicans, since the parental leave issue plays very well with swing suburban constituencies like the voters of SD-25. Control of the Colorado Senate in the 2016 elections boils down to just a few races, and with Democrats keen to retake the Senate in a presidential year, the margin for error is perilously small.

And folks, this was definitely an error. Priola would have been far better off to simply let the vote proceed, since it would have passed committee with or without his vote. By vividly expressing the hypocrisy of “family values” Republicans opposing actual “family values” proposals, Priola is now the poster child for something voters really don’t like about them.

And that is not good for any politician’s upward mobility.

Get More Smarter on Monday (Feb. 1)

MoreSmarterLogo-SnowmanNo snow day for you…but maybe tomorrow. 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).


► The Iowa caucuses have arrived at last. To celebrate, we’re holding our own caucus prediction contest with an amazing prize for the winner. Make your picks now.

Elsewhere in Iowa news, The Washington Post tries to answer the annual head-scratcher: Why does Iowa get to vote first? Our friends at “The Fix” provide more clues about the caucuses, including this one: Martin O’Malley may be the most important candidate in the field tonight. And the final Des Moines Register poll — which his been pretty accurate in recent history, is out today.

If polling numbers are accurate, Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton should take first place tonight in their respective Parties. An analysis of political insiders from Politico comes to the same conclusion.


► The ginormous Republican field of Presidential candidates may start to dwindle after tonight. As Politico reports, many of the second-tier GOP candidates are running out of money to keep their campaigns afloat:

Jeb Bush’s fundraising juggernaut has run out of steam, Ben Carson’s money machine has cranked down, and Chris Christie and Rand Paul have just a little more than $1 million in each of their campaign bank accounts.

On the eve of the Iowa caucuses, the candidates lifted the veil on their operations’ financial health as of the end of last year, revealing how some of the White House contenders are now limping along, with time running out for a breakout moment.


Get even more smarter after the jump…