New NBC/Marist Poll: Udall Up By 7, Hickenlooper Up By 6

Mark Udall, Cory Gardner.

Mark Udall, Cory Gardner.

A new poll out today from NBC News/Marist has very bad news for Colorado Republicans–beginning with GOP Senate candidate Cory Gardner, who is now down by 7 points to incumbent Sen. Mark Udall, outside this poll's +/- 3.1% margin of error:

In Colorado’s Senate contest, incumbent Sen. Mark Udall, D-Colo., leads GOP challenger Cory Gardner by seven points among registered voters, 48 to 41 percent; another 10 percent are undecided.

In the state’s race for governor, sitting Gov. John Hickenlooper holds a six-point edge over Republican opponent Bob Beauprez, 49 to 43 percent, with 7 percent undecided…

A gender gap is helping the Democratic candidates…In Colorado, Udall is up by 12 points among female voters (50 percent to 38 percent), but he’s running neck and neck with Gardner among men…

Among Latinos – who make up 16 percent of registered voters in the Colorado poll – Udall has a 31-point lead over Gardner, 58 to 27 percent.

And also in Colorado, both Udall (by 50 to 34 percent) and Hickenlooper (by 52 to 35 percent) have the advantage with independent voters.

Here are the details on today's poll of Colorado voters.

The leads for Udall and to a lesser extent Gov. John Hickenlooper among independent voters are particularly dire for Republicans, who are counting on an agitated independent vote breaking their way this November. Udall's massive 31-point lead over Gardner with Latino voters shows Gardner's late attempts to appease this community by changing up his hard-line rhetoric on immigration reform have fallen flat. Combine that with Udall's double-digit lead over Gardner with women voters, and Gardner looks much worse off at this point than most news reporting on this race would suggest.

Hickenlooper has more ground to gain against GOP opponent Bob Beauprez, and that's likely to happen once Beauprez's long record of disqualifying looney-tunes statements since his last run for office in 2006 becomes more widely publicized. Hickenlooper's pundit-certified "tough couple of years politically" colors the narrative about this race, but even here there is good news: 52% of respondents say they are more likely to vote for a candidate who thinks laws governing gun sales should be more strict.

Opposition to the loosening of gun regulations is largely fueled by female voters, who say they are less likely to support a pro-gun rights candidate by 20 percentage points, while men are about equally divided on the question.

Meaning the biggest advantage Colorado Republicans have going into this election…is no advantage at all.

Bottom line: while nobody would suggest these hotly competitive races are over, a few more polls like this could change that. These are not numbers Republicans hoping for victory this November want to see.

Tuesday Open Thread

"On the outskirts of every agony sits some observant fellow who points."

–Virginia Woolf

All Brown People Look Alike To Conservative Blogs

UPDATE: Colorado Peak Politics attempts to correct their post:

CORRECTION: This post has been corrected to reflect that JulieMarie Shepherd is not of Hispanic decent. [Pols emphasis]

Perhaps she is of Hispanic in-"decent?" Kidding aside, there's still no explanation as to why Peak Politics decided Shepherd is "Hispanic" for the purposes of this blog post about "Hispanic" Republican House candidates, so…it must have been the photo?

Not the local conservative blogosphere's finest hour, safe to say.

—–

JulieMarie Shepherd.

JulieMarie Shepherd.

On the conservative blog Colorado Peak Politics today, a fascinating post, and by that we mean incredibly embarrassing, about Colorado Republican legislative candidates who represent the state's "diverse heritage." Here's what they have to say about one JulieMarie Shepherd, running against Rep. John Buckner in Aurora's House District 40:

Two of Colorado’s top targeted legislative races both feature Hispanic GOP candidates [Pols emphasis] and have made the list of “14 in ’14 Races to Watch” put out by the Republican State Leadership Committee:

Beth Martinez Humenik, Colorado Senate District 24

JulieMarie Shepherd, Colorado House District 40

…JulieMarie Shepherd is challenging Democrat Rep. John Buckner for his Aurora-based seat.  She has already distinguished herself in the community and is an at-large member of the Aurora Public Schools Board of Education.  Shepherd is young, energetic and hungry to make a difference.

Just one problem: Shepherd isn't Hispanic. Wrong continent, in fact:

While she was born in Calcutta, India, [Pols emphasis] Shepherd considers herself an "almost" native of Aurora. As an infant, she was adopted and came to live in Aurora with her mom, a retired United States Army Officer.

As you can see from the photo above, Ms. Shepherd is brown. Apparently, to our local conservative bloggers, brown skin tone is enough to be considered "Hispanic," even though there are in fact many ethnicities where brown skin tone is commonplace. For example, people from India.

If anyone would like to explain to us how this isn't every bit as bad as it looks, we're all ears…

Udall Outraises Gardner in First Full Head-to-Head Quarter

Mark Udall, Cory Gardner.

Mark Udall, Cory Gardner.

As Fox 31's Eli Stokols reports:

Colorado Democratic Sen. Mark Udall raised $3.1 million in the second quarter of the year and now has $5.7 million in cash on hand as the race against Republican challenger Cory Gardner enters a more competitive phase with the election less than four months away.

Udall, who is seeking a second term, has raised more than $13 million overall to support his reelection effort.

Gardner, a congressman from Yuma who didn’t enter the senate race until late February, announced last week that his campaign raised $2.7 million in the year’s second quarter and has $3.4 million cash on hand.

The campaign for Congressman Cory Gardner will try hard to spin these numbers in a favorable manner, but this is bad news for Republicans however you slice it. When Gardner entered the race for Senate a few months ago, national Republicans were crowing that they finally had a (theoretically) likable candidate who could raise lots of campaign cash on his own. Gardner replaced a field of Republican Senate candidates who had been historically inept at raising money, but Gardner nevertheless faced significant expectations that he has not been able to meet.

This was Gardner's first full fundraising quarter — with all the low-hanging fruit still available — and he still failed to outraise incumbent Democratic Sen. Mark Udall. And don't forget: Gardner has been virtually invisible since announcing his candidacy, skipping public appearances to focus on raising money.

None of this means that Gardner may end up being underfunded by November, but it does call into question just how excited national Republican donors are about Gardner's campaign. And as the 2014 election season rumbles on, Republicans will soon have to decide whether to double-down on Gardner financially…or focus any extra resources on states like Montana instead.

Funding Schools With Expanded Gaming?

As the Denver Post's Yesenia Robles reports:

Organizers for an education group collecting signatures to place a question on the ballot asking to expand gaming at the Arapahoe Park horse racetrack say they have collected enough signatures.

According to a news release from the group, Coloradans for Better Schools, the group collected and submitted 136,342 signatures in support of the ballot measure…

That's a healthy pad of signatures over the required 86,000 to get this measure on the November ballot, so it's likely to make it. In addition to allowing casino games at Arapahoe Park, the measure would also expand gaming at racetracks in Pueblo and Mesa Counties. The measure is supported mostly by the owners of the Arapahoe Park track, and opposed by most of the rest of the gaming industry in Colorado due to the competitive pressure it would place on existing gaming towns.

Proponents forecast a return of as much as $100 million per year to K-12 education, though opponents dismiss that amount as unrealistic.

What say you, Polsters? Ordinarily we'd say a one-off gaming measure like this, based on experience, doesn't have much chance of succeeding. The existing gaming towns vigorously defend their monopoly, and spend lavishly to defeat any attempt to expand gaming beyond them. The only thing that raises a question in our minds is the experience of last year's elections, where a tax increase to fund education failed dismally, but taxes on retail marijuana passed overwhelmingly.

So maybe sin is the new model for raising revenue in this state? A poll follows.

(more…)

Post Does Good Job Sorting Out Past Romanoff-Coffman Immigration Positions

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Denver Post reporter Kurtis Lee did a good job over the weekend of sorting out the past immigration positions of Rep. Mike Coffman and his Democratic challenger, Andrew Romanoff.

Lee noted that Romanoff pushed compromise immigration legislation through the Colorado legislature in 2006, in order to deflect a more extreme immigration measure from making the Colorado ballot and being locked in the state Constitution.

Lee is among the only journalists who've reported on the context of Romanoff's 2006 immigration legislation, which was opposed by some immigrant advocates.

During the summer of 2006, in his first term as state House speaker, Romanoff faced a critical decision: Have a broadly worded initiative appear on the November ballot that would strip state benefits and even some medical services from those in the country illegally — including children — or strike a legislative compromise.

Lee reported that Romanoff "chose the latter option and staved off a late effort to revive the ballot initiative," which was supported by Coffman.

Among the proponents of the ballot initiative that didn't make it to voters was Coffman, the state treasurer at the time.

Coffman later headed to Congress to represent the then staunchly conservative 6th Congressional District, touting positions as a hardliner on immigration reform and following in the footsteps of his predecessor and a man he called his "hero" — Republican Tom Tancredo

Moving forward in time, Lee again correctly reports that Romanoff supports the comprehensive-immigration-reform bill passed by the U.S. Senate, while Coffman backs, in Lee's words, "piecemeal reforms." Lee does a good job of clarifying that Coffman doesn't just stand for vague "reform" but a piecemeal approach, with the pieces glaringly undefined.

Lee should have noted that just over a year ago, Coffman announced his grand support, in a much-read Denver Post op-ed, for "comprehensive immigration reform." This startled the three people paying attention because it ran counter to Coffman's past positions.

But now Coffman's "comprehensive immigration reform" is out the window, and he wants piecemeal legislation. Coffman has said that a "comprehensive approach doesn’t have to be a comprehensive bill," but if you've ever had a conversation about immigration among people with differing views on the topic, you understand why that's not true. Comprehensive reform allows for compromises to be folded together, with different pet issues included, so everyone can hold a nostril or two and vote yes, like Senators in their compromise by a 68-32 margin.

Lee, who's leaving The Post Wed., probably won't be able to delve into the question of whether piecemeal reform, with only a small piece (citizenship for minors via military service) actually on the table, is more than empty rhetoric, especially with the Senate bill ready to go. But maybe another reporter will pick up the thread.

Hancock Earns Praise on Eve of “State of City” Address

Denver Mayor Michael Hancock

Denver Mayor Michael Hancock will deliver his annual "State of the City" address today — his last "State of the City" before next May's Denver city elections. Hancock has little reason to be concerned that he will even face a serious challenger in his bid for re-election, and the editorial board of the Denver Post helps explain why:

Hancock hasn't been a flashy mayor during his first term, but he's been a steady one who has attended to the nuts and bolts of governance, pushing for efficiencies while paying special attention to neglected neighborhoods such as those along the Interstate 70 corridor.

And no doubt partly because of this record, no one has voiced an intention to challenge him next spring…

We'd be surprised if the mayor announced any major initiatives in Monday's speech, but that isn't necessary. Good governance primarily depends on other things, such as a focus on the city's neighborhoods, connectivity and safety. Nothing flashy, just essential.

What say you, Polsters? What do you think of Mayor Hancock's time in office thus far?

Local Control Polling: “Terrorism” Enjoys Broad Public Support

Photo courtesy Rep. Jared Polis

Photo courtesy Rep. Jared Polis

As the Denver Post's Lynn Bartels reports, there's a simple reason why the oil and gas industry and their political allies are losing their minds about ballot measures supported by Rep. Jared Polis to increase local control over drilling and hydraulic fracturing.

It looks like they're going to pass.

The poll from Benenson Strategy Group asked voters about two of the proposed ballot measures, both backed by Polis, D-Boulder. Initiative 88 would require drilling rigs to be set back 2,000 feet from homes — four times the current state rule. Initiative 89 would create the so-called Environmental Bill of Rights…

The measure changing existing setback requirements to require any new oil or gas well to be located at least one half mile from the nearest occupied structure initially passed 64 percent to 21 percent, then 56 percent to 35 percent after poll recipients were read a series of negative arguments against the measure — the same arguments Coloradans will hear on the campaign trail.

For those who don't know, Joel Benenson is Barack Obama's lead pollster, and his firm has a reputation for accuracy. And as you can see, this was no leading-questions poll: respondents were subjected to the industry's arguments against the initiatives, and they would still pass.

The other measure includes a provision that if state and local laws conflict the more restrictive law or regulation governs. It initially passed 64 percent to 27 percent, then, after the negative arguments, it passed 52 percent to 34 percent.

As readers know, the rhetoric over these initiatives has really become extreme in recent weeks, with lobbyist Steve Durham bombastically denouncing Polis as a "terrorist" for supporting them. What we're seeing here is the other side of the coin: strong and enduring public support for better protection of local communities from the harmful effects of drilling.

News coverage of these initiatives so far has been unusually one-sided in favor of the oil and gas industry, and overly focused on the failing effort by Gov. John Hickenlooper to broker a "compromise" that would "keep these measures off the ballot." Lost in that narrative, much to the industry's relief, is something critically important: what the people of Colorado want

But they won't be able to ignore the votes this fall.

Udall Fronts Hobby Lobby Fix While Gardner Says “Make ‘Em Pay”

Mark Udall, Cory Gardner.

Mark Udall, Cory Gardner.

​The Colorado Independent's Tessa Cheek reports from yesterday's press conference on legislation, introduced by Colorado Sen. Mark Udall, to undo last week's Hobby Lobby Supreme Court ruling relieving many corporations of "Obamacare's" obligation to cover contraceptives in their health insurance plans:

Senator Mark Udall joined women’s health advocates today to discuss his newest bill, which would effectively overturn the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent decision allowing “closely held” private companies, specifically craft store Hobby Lobby, to opt-out of employee health coverage that violates their religious beliefs.

“With up to 90 percent of American companies considered ‘closely held,’ the Hobby Lobby decision means that millions of working Americans’ access to crucial health care services may be threatened,” Udall said. “These corporations employ about half of all American workers. That means half of our bosses can now pick and choose which contraception and other health care services work best for our families.”

Udall’s bill, “The Protect Women’s Health from Corporate Interference Act,” clarifies that the law the Supreme Court based their decision on — The Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) — cannot be used to allow for-profit corporations to limit any legal health care service.

“The men and women who went to work for Hobby Lobby signed up to work at a craft store, not a religious organization,” Udall said. His bill would not impact the coverage exemptions already granted to some non-profit religious organizations like churches.

As the AP reports, Sen. Udall's response to the Hobby Lobby ruling comes in stark contrast to that of his Republican opponent Cory Gardner. Partially in hope of squelching Gardner's longtime support for the Personhood abortion bans, but now viewed in light of the Hobby Lobby ruling, Gardner has called for birth control now available only by prescription to be purchasable over-the-counter. But as Udall notes, that's not a good deal for women compared to what they can get now–and still will, even after Hobby Lobby, from the majority of employers who will choose not to impose their religious views on their employees:

Democratic Sen Mark Udall is skeptical of his challenger's proposal to make birth control pills available over the counter, without a prescription.

Udall on Friday said paying retail prices for the pill could actually increase the cost of contraception. Currently, the Affordable Care Act requires insurance companies to provide cost-free birth control to women. [Pols emphasis]

We assume Gardner doesn't consider cost-free birth control to be a priority, since he wants to repeal the law that makes it possible. But the reason the Affordable Care Act provided for cost-free birth control as guaranteed coverage was to ensure it is available to everyone–even to cash-strapped families who might otherwise make the choice to go without one month to make ends meet. In family planning terms, that can be a very costly choice.

Since neither Gardner's proposal nor Udall's legislation are going anywhere before this year's elections, the choice on display here is for the women of Colorado to decide this November. And despite Gardner's work to, in the words of one Republican consultant, "muddy it up enough to take it away from Udall," there remains a very distinct choice on this issue.

Perlmutter, Bennet Push for IRS to Waive Fee that Marijuana Businesses Cannot Avoid

Ed Perlmutter

Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-Jefferson County)

Whatever your opinion on the legalization of marijuana — both for medicinal and recreational uses — it's become increasingly clear that banking and tax laws need to be adjusted for the safety and security of both businesses and customers.

As David Migoya reports in the Denver Post, Rep. Ed Perlmutter continues his push to find some sort of fair middle ground for pot shops that are being forced to conduct most of their business operations entirely in cash:

U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet and Rep. Ed Perlmutter on Friday asked the Internal Revenue Service to stop assessing a 10 percent penalty on legal marijuana businesses that are forced to pay federal withholding taxes in cash for lack of banking services.

In a joint letter to IRS Commissioner John Koskinen, Bennet and Perlmutter, both Democrats, noted how pot shops in Colorado often have little choice but to pay employee withholding taxes in cash since banks won't take their business.

IRS rules require the taxes to be paid via the Electronic Federal Tax Payment System, and businesses that don't comply face a 10 percent penalty on the tax.

News of the practice came to light when The Denver Post last week reported about a Denver dispensary's legal efforts to challenge the IRS…

…Another problem is that businesses willing to pay the IRS assessment — often amounting to tens of thousands of dollars — can't get an installment plan as other businesses do because they remain out of compliance and subject to additional penalties, according to the attorney who is challenging the fines in U.S. Tax Court. As a result, a legal marijuana shop's operating license is in jeopardy — despite paying their taxes on time — because state law requires them to be in compliance with all federal and state tax laws.

This problem seems particularly ludicrous — again, no matter your opinion on marijuana — because pot shops have absolutely no option for avoiding the 10% penalty they are assessed for not using banking services. The federal government still doesn't allow banks to accept deposits from marijuana businesses, so how, exactly, are they supposed to comply with IRS rules requiring the use of banking services? We're not going to allow you to deposit money in a bank…but we are going to fine you for not having a bank account.

We wouldn't expect Congress to take action on this issue, since Republican House leadership has largely pledged not to take action on, well, anything beyond getting mad at President Obama for trying to govern while they race office chairs up and down the hall. But this is a pretty good issue for potential bipartisan support if there ever was such a thing. Republicans are normally jumping at the chance to prevent the federal government from infringing on state's rights; when you include the opportunity to complain about the IRS at the same time, this should be a slam dunk for the GOP. And again, this is a serious safety issue when you force an industry to carry around massive amounts of cash; why bother robbing a bank when you'll get more cash out of a pot shop that had a good weekend?

If and when federal law is finally changed to accommodate changes created by state elections, Rep. Perlmutter should get the credit he deserves for being at the forefront of a set of issues that really do affect Coloradans of all stripes.

 

Another Political Reporter Leaves The Denver Post

(Promoted by Colorado Pols — this could have a direct impact on Colorado politics because Lee was covering CD-6 for the Post)

Denver Post political reporter Kurtis Lee announced via Twitter today that he'll be leaving The Post Wednesday for a job covering politics on the Los Angeles Times' new real-time news desk.

"It's been a great three years here at The Post," Lee told me via email. "I'm so grateful to have worked with so many amazingly talented reporters, editors and photographers–and to do it for a newspaper I grew up reading has been awesome. The Post will always be a must read for me."

Lee's new job is focused on online journalism, but Lee will work across platforms, he said.

Lee, who was born and raised in Colorado Springs, started at The Post in Feb 2011. His work was quickly thrust under the microscope, as he covered the state legislature, the contested 6th Congressional District race, the 212 presidential campaign, the Aurora massacre, and other political flashpoints in Colorado.

In a memo to staff, The Post's Politics Editor Chuck Plunkett praised Lee's reporting and wrote that Lee has been on the "leading edge of The Post's efforts to function as a 24/7 news organization. His use of social media, blog posts and video journalism is as powerful as the best in the business."

"I applaud the good sense of the LAT in snaring Kurtis Lee," wrote Plunkett, "and regret that I will be deprived of working with this promising young journalist going forward. But we are lucky in that we work in an industry that wishes to see its players do well. And this move should be a great opportunity for Kurtis to do just that."

Not Another UN Conspiracy Theory Whackadoo

agenda21

Here's a report from the Western Slope Watchdog from late last month that we didn't want to slip through unmentioned. From time to time, we've had to contend with some of the fringier Republican candidates for the Colorado legislature–and the occasional Congressman–who is convinced that the United Nations is right on the cusp of executing some kind of evil secret plan intended to strip away our American liberties. In 2010, GOP gubernatorial candidate Dan Maes made headlines–and punchlines–with his assertion that Denver's B-Cycle bike sharing program is part of a nefarious "United Nations program." J. Paul Brown, a former state representative defeated in 2012, said that then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was "negotiating a treaty with the United Nations to take away Americans’ guns, which would spur a civil war."

Well folks, another midterm election year is upon us, so get ready for a fresh round of U.N. conspiracy theories–it must work or they wouldn't use them. Meet Donald Suppes, the Republican nominee running in Senate District 5 for the seat being vacated by outgoing Sen. Gail Schwartz:

Public lands issues, such as road closures, target shooting in Dominguez-Escalante canyons or federal water grabs targeting ski resorts and ranches, are another concern of the Republican candidate, who said he was “researching quite heavily” the Utah legislature’s resolution asking for their federal lands back.

“That’s going to be a battle that we’re going to have to fight,” Suppes said. “If they won’t back off, we will do this – we will take our lands back.”

Suppes said he saw the anti-fossil fuels movement and issues relating to control of public lands as part of the creeping influence of Agenda 21. He added that he saw evidence of United Nations influence when he visited Mexico. [Pols emphasis]

“It’s absolutely here,” he said. “The thing about Agenda 21 that the liberals didn’t expect is it gave the liberal playbook a name.”

Donald Suppes.

Donald Suppes.

​As we and other grownups have tried to explain in the past when this has come up, the United Nations' "Agenda 21 plan" consists of totally nonbinding recommendations on land use and economic planning. Like the U.N. Small Arms Treaty to regulate international arms trafficking, which conspiracy theorists imaginatively morphed into a "United Nations Gun Grab," these are recommendations meant mostly for the developing world–not for developed nations like the United States where solid land use policies (or in the case of guns, gun laws) already exist. In some countries, "Agenda 21" represents a first real attempt at any kind of land use planning.

In the minds of far-right Republicans and radio talk show hosts, however, "Agenda 21" has morphed into totalitarian plan to control more or less everything everyone in rural America does. It probably hasn't registered with Donald Suppes' target audience that the U.N. Small Arms Treaty has already been signed by the United States (it currently awaits ratification by a sufficient number of members), and gun confiscation in the neighborhoods of middle America has not followed suit. It's worth noting that the only nations to have voted against the U.N. Small Arms Treaty were Iran, North Korea, and Syria–what great company for the gun rights crowd to keep!

But that's the thing about conspiracy theories, isn't it? The next one is always the real one.

Hickenlooper To Suthers: Stop The Same-Sex Marriage Appeals

UPDATE: Statement from LGBT advocate group One Colorado:

“By calling on Attorney General Suthers not to appeal Judge Crabtree’s ruling striking down Colorado’s ban on marriage for same-sex couples, Governor Hickenlooper has shown incredible leadership as a champion for all Colorado families. From the moment he took office, the Governor has stood up for LGBT Coloradans and their families every step of the way: signing legislation to fight bullying and make our schools safer for LGBT youth, calling a special session on civil unions and ultimately signing the bill into law, and lending both his support and his signature to legislation that protects against workplace discrimination and provides tuition equity to undocumented Colorado students – including many LGBT young people. The record is clear.

“As a proud supporter of marriage equality, Governor Hickenlooper joins the 61% of Coloradans who believe that everyone should have the freedom to marry the person they love. With three Colorado counties now issuing marriage licenses to loving, committed couples who want to protect each other and their families, there is no doubt that our state’s discriminatory ban is hanging on by a thread. That thread is Attorney General Suthers, who is the only person left standing in the way of equality for our families. It’s time to move on. It’s time for Attorney General Suthers to stop wasting taxpayer money defending this indefensible ban, and it’s time for the freedom to marry for all Coloradans."

—–

Attorney General John Suthers and chief deputy AG Cynthia Coffman.

Attorney General John Suthers and chief deputy AG Cynthia Coffman.

FOX 31's Eli Stokols caught up with a traveling Gov. John Hickenlooper late last night, and obtained by far the strongest statement yet urging GOP Attorney General John Suthers to give up the fight to preserve Colorado's ban on same-sex marriage:

Late Thursday evening, Hickenlooper, who is attending meetings of the National Governors Association in Nashville, told FOX31 Denver that he supports Crabtree’s decision and is urging Suthers not to appeal it any further than the Colorado Supreme Court.

“I remain a strong advocate for marriage equality,” Hickenlooper said. “The decision on marriage by Judge Crabtree puts Colorado on the right side of history.

“I have urged the attorney general not to appeal Judge Crabtree’s ruling. If he feels he needs to continue to defend this discriminatory law, I urge him to seek final resolution at the Colorado Supreme Court.” [Pols emphasis]

It was important for Hickenlooper to get out of the weeds of this issue and clearly take a stand. Now that he's done so, Suthers is in a much more difficult position politically–continuing to fight an unpopular wedge-issue battle against the wishes of the state's chief executive. The political damage this risks extends to Suthers' desired successor as AG, chief deputy Cynthia Coffman. Doing herself no favors, Coffman published an op-ed in the Colorado Springs Gazette today where she defends the state's continuing appeals:

The issue of same-sex marriage divides very good people with strongly held opinions.

Public debates can be contentious and polarizing.

Indeed, it is more difficult to defend laws in the eye of this public policy storm than it is to succumb to personal and political goals.

However, unlike my opponent in the race for attorney general, I do not confuse my policy preferences with my duty to defend laws with which I may disagree. When I chose to run for attorney general, I committed to set aside my opinions of what the law should be in favor of a higher legal system that recognizes the pivotal role of voters and the courts.

Efforts to change the law on same-sex marriage are now moving rapidly but are not yet settled, and until they are, the attorney general has a duty to play his part and defend current Colorado law.

Bottom line: there is a growing possibility that the Attorney General's race this year will have a much higher profile due to the fast-moving issue of same-sex marriage equality–an issue on which Democrats like AG candidate Don Quick took a risk by focusing on early in their campaigns, but now appear to have been brilliant politically as the issue makes headlines and public support increasingly becomes lopsided on the side of marriage equality.

It is an issue that Cynthia Coffman is now wholly on the wrong side of, along with her boss.