PROGRESS – WHEN?

(Sen. Irene Aguilar is a proponent of Amendment 69 – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Sen. Irene Aguilar (D).

Sen. Irene Aguilar (D).

In 2007 I had the privilege of serving on the Vulnerable Populations Task Force of Colorado’s Blue Ribbon Commission on Health Care Reform (Commission).  This is when I first learned that the United States is the only developed nation in the world that does not provide access to basic health care for its entire population; yet we spend twice as much as almost every other developed nation. The Commission’s analysis also showed that by enacting a single payer financing system Colorado could afford full access to health care for every resident and decrease spending by $1.6 billion dollars in its first year.

Having worked as a Primary Care Physician at Denver Health for 18 years and witnessed firsthand the devastating effects of the inability to afford basic health care on people’s lives, I was ecstatic to learn that there was a solution that was both socially just and fiscally conservative. I was certain that the Commission would recommend this plan.

Imagine my dismay when I was told by the chair of the House Committee on Health and Human Services:  “that’s all good and well Dr. Aguilar, but this will never happen in the United States.”

Fortunately, I turned that dismay into action. I determined to find a way to save lives (and money) and help Colorado become the first state in the nation to enact a single payer health care system.

The rest is history:

It is worth noting that the 2009 House Bill, 2011 Senate Bill and 2013 Senate Joint Resolution simply created a study group to analyze how Colorado might implement a universal health care system.

In 2015 a referendum was drafted but not introduced at the request of the Speaker of the House and her chief of staff.  When this happened, a group of activists working on universal health care took action and put Amendment 69, ColoradoCare, on the ballot. With volunteers from across the state over 156,000 signatures were collected and submitted in October 2015. ColoradoCare was approved for the ballot in November 2015.

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Laura Woods raffles off an AR15

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

POLS UPDATE: Sen. Laura Woods wants to be sure you’re clear:

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woodsar15

Desperate for attention and apparently cash starved, one brick shy of a full load Senator Laura Woods has decided to auction off every mass killer’s weapon of choice, an AR15 to fund her floundering campaign.

This is good news for Rachel Zenzinger, Woods’ sane opponent, in that these types of antics will not work in the Arvada/Wesminster senate district they are both seeking to represent.

Get More Smarter on Friday (August 19)

Get More SmarterThe Rio Olympics come to a close this weekend. It’s time to Get More Smarter with Colorado Pols. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of a visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show.

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

The Get More Smarter Show is back today, featuring an extended interview with Congressman Ed Perlmutter (D-Jefferson County). Watch the interview and find out if Rep. Perlmutter will be going to Mars (no, really).

 

► Paul Manafort has resigned as campaign chairman for Donald Trump’s Presidential bid, just two days after Trump made significant leadership changes at the top of his organization that appeared to leave Manafort on the bench. As Chris Cillizza writes for “The Fix,” Manafort’s departure confirms the obvious:

Campaigns never, ever like to admit they are making a change as a result of problems within their operation. It shows weakness, they theorize, and weakness is bad when you are trying to get someone elected president of the United States.

Which brings me to this week and the insistence by everyone affiliated with Donald Trump’s presidential campaign that the addition of Breitbart News boss Stephen Bannon and the elevation of pollster KellyAnne Conway to the two top jobs within the organization was DEFINITELY not a shake-up.

Conway said Wednesday that calling it a shake-up was a misnomer. Rather, she said, this was an effort to “expand the senior team that allows us to meet the needs,” adding: “I think Paul Manafort as chairman and Rick Gates as deputy have done a phenomenal job building our campaign over last five or six months to put it in a competitive place going into the fall. So I look forward to continuing to work with both of them.”

Or not.

On the plus side, perhaps we have seen the last of Trump legal counsel Michael Cohen making a fool of himself answering questions on TV.

 

► Meanwhile, Trump expressed something similar to actual remorse in comments Thursday in Charlotte. Politico ponders the question of whether or not this signals an actual shift for Trump, or just an out-of-character blip on the radar:

The Republican nominee on Thursday night delivered one of his most surprising speeches yet, expressing “regret” if his past inflammatory rhetoric had caused personal pain. It was a stunning statement coming from a candidate who has said “to apologize for me is very difficult” and that his last sorry was “too many years ago to remember.”…

…But this isn’t the first time Trump has been reeled in only to return to his explosive ways. Following the firing of campaign manager Corey Lewandowski and the elevation of Manafort in June, Trump delivered a scripted and targeted speech on the stakes of the election and the importance of defeating Clinton…

…The pivot didn’t stick, however, as Trump made a series of inflammatory statements after the convention that sent his poll numbers into free fall.

If you’re holding your breath…you should probably stop.

 

Get even more smarter after the jump…

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The Get More Smarter Show: August 19, 2016

This week on Get More Smarter: your hosts take a brief break from the usual commentary to bring you an extended interview with Congressman Ed Perlmutter! Sit back and relax as Rep. Perlmutter talks space exploration, life in Congress, politics in Jefferson County, a variety of issues he’s working on like marijuana and student debt–and this year’s historic presidential election.

If you’ve missed any episodes of the Get More Smarter Show, catch up here. And thanks again for watching.

Friday Open Thread

“Whenever a thing is done for the first time, it releases a little demon.”

–Emily Dickinson

Trump Finally Gets Around to Doing TV Ads…But Not in Colorado

Did we mention that Sen. Cory Gardner says he's voting for Donald Trump?

Did we mention that Sen. Cory Gardner says he’s voting for Donald Trump?

As the Associated Press reports, Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump is finally spending money on television ads:

A new brain trust in place, Donald Trump on Thursday moved to invest nearly $5 million in battleground state advertising as the Republican presidential contender took modest steps to address daunting challenges in the states that will make or break his White House ambitions.

The New York businessman’s campaign reserved television ad space over the coming 10 days in Florida, North Carolina, Ohio and Pennsylvania, according to Kantar Media’s political ad tracker. While Democrat Hillary Clinton has spent more than $75 million on advertising in 10 states since locking up her party’s nomination, Trump’s new investment marks his first of the general election season.

You might have noticed that Colorado is not on the list of states getting TV ad attention from the Trump campaign. This may just be an initial TV ad buy announcement — after all, $5 million is a relative pittance in terms of ad spending in a Presidential race — but the absence of Colorado from this list will only further the belief that our fair state is out of reach for Trump. That’s what the polls say, anyway.

In Which Trump’s Legal Counsel Channels the “Black Knight”

If you are unfamiliar with the scene featuring the Black Knight in Monty Python and the Holy Grail, just watch this clip. This scene, in which the Black Knight character repeatedly refuses to acknowledge the fact that King Arthur is (literally) chopping him to pieces during a sword fight, was the first thing that came to mind when we saw this CNN interview with Michael Cohen, chief counsel to Republican Presidential nominee Donald Trump.

Wednesday’s interview quickly went viral, with the hashtag #SaysWho, for reasons you can see for yourself:

Donald Trump and his campaign are uncomfortable with the truth. Mr. Trump has made that clear throughout his campaign, and on Wednesday his chief counsel, Michael Cohen, punctuated the point in a tense interview with CNN’s Brianna Keilar.

“You guys are down,” Keilar said.

“Says who?” Cohen asked.

“Polls … most of them,” Keilar continued. Maybe even “all of them?”

There was an unusually long silence — long enough, perhaps, for anyone listening to hear Trump’s poll numbers dropping further, in real time, on live television.

“Says who?” Cohen asked again.

“Polls,” said Keilar. “I just told you.”

You can see the interview yourself below:

Senate Republicans Entice Donors with Horse (and John Elway)

We were forwarded this invitation to a fundraiser benefitting the state Senate Republicans, and we felt compelled to share it with our readers.

The headliner of the event is former Denver Broncos quarterback John Elway, who has long been a staunch Republican supporter. Elway’s name appears at the top of the invitation, just before the name Climax Molybdenum, which sounds like some sort of new-age porn star but is in fact a Colorado mining company.

But our favorite part of the invitation is the big mention at the bottom left: A special appearance by Thunder, the Broncos mascot. For a minimum contribution of $500, you can get up close and personal with a horse.

UpdatedElwayInvite

Air Quality is Being Harmed by Oil And Gas Development

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Sometimes it seems that a headline should be too obvious to write, a title too trite and true. The “Dog Bites Man” story.

But there it is. And here we are–policy-wise–debating as if it is actually a question whether Colorado’s air quality is harmed by industrial development known to spew methane and volatile compounds.

Such is the power of money and slick PR. And it doesn’t just buy opinion and confound the public, it seems to buy congressmen too.

Congressman Scott Tipton represents Colorado’s Third Congressional District, home to America’s largest concentration of methane pollution from oil and gas development.

Earlier this month a new NASA study put to rest any doubt that America’s largest cloud of methane pollution was tied directly to oil and gas development in the San Juan Basin, the Durango Herald is reporting.

A two-year study released by NASA on Monday confirmed suspicions that energy extraction practices are largely responsible for the methane hot spot in the Four Corners.

“The argument that most of the emissions are from natural seeps, definitely, we can put that to rest,” said Christian Frankenberg, a research scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. “Most of the plumes we observed were directly related to industrial facilities.”

Shortly after the study was made public, a coalition of local and regional oil and gas associations in Colorado and New Mexico decried NASA’s findings, calling it limited in scope.

“They did not fly the entire outcrop,” Christi Zeller, executive director of the La Plata County Energy Council, said of the area where methane naturally escapes from the Earth’s surface. “We disagree with it (NASA’s study) wholeheartedly. We know and believe the largest sources are that outcrop.”

And this past Tuesday the state health department issued a pollution alert for the Front Range according to the Denver Post:

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“Paid Surrogate” of Trump Allegedly Threatened to “Put Bullet in the Head” of Fellow Republican

(Just sayin’, you know — Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Progressives can argue, yes, but… Unrah Facebook post 1You wonder how recent Trump backer Cory Gardner would respond to fellow Republican Kendal Unrah, who outlined what she sees as the Trump campaign’s strategy to force Republicans to back Trump:

Unruh: “According to what the delegates [at the Republican National Convention] experienced, their strategy is: 1) threaten their job 2) threaten their position 2b) threaten them 2c) threaten their future 3) threaten their family 4) threaten to put a bullet in their head (from a paid surrogate). The victim wouldn’t release it for frear of further endangerment. #unity in their handbook means ‘Support Trump or we hurt you.” [BigMedia emphasis]

Unruh, a long-time Republican, led a group of Colorado RNC delegates who tried to stop the Trump nomination at the last minute.

Did Gardner himself face any of this treatment, prior to his first or second Trump endorsement? Threats to his family, future? And the bullet in the head part by a paid Trump surrogate? That’s not confirmed, but WTF?

Unruh made other comments about Trump’s supporters on Facebook (See them pictured with this post.), which drew support from State Sen. Chris Holbert.

Holbert: “Somebody forgot to tell Trump supporters about that strategy [to unify the Republican party]… Offering Trump’s own words to Trump supporters often leads to said Trump supporter demanding that Trump never said what Trump actually said.

Former Republican state legislative candidate Brian Vande Krol weighed in with:

Vande Krol: Isn’t [Trump] supposed to unify the party, instead of just hoping they unify on their own?

Seriously, you wonder what Trump and Company said to Republicans like Cory Gardner and U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman, who’s also said he’d vote for Trump, despite misgivings, to get their support.

Unrah Facebook post two

Get More Smarter on Thursday (August 18)

Get More SmarterBack to school, back to school; to show my dad, that I’m not a fool. It’s time to Get More Smarter with Colorado Pols. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of a visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show.

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► According to polling results released Thursday by Quinnipiac University, Colorado’s U.S. Senate race is really starting to get away from Republicans. Incumbent Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Denver) leads Republican Darryl Glenn 52-38 in a head-to-head matchup. These numbers are similar to those reported by NBC/Marist last week, in which Bennet was leading Glenn 53-38.

Quinnipiac has a strange history of polling in Colorado, however, and they added to their weird reputation in a press release announcing the poll numbers. Here’s a quote from Tim Malloy of Quinnipiac University: “There is still time for Darryl Glenn to summon enough support to win a Senate seat the GOP sorely needs.”

Um, no. There may not even be time for Glenn to get this race to within single digits.

On Wednesday, Quinnipiac released polling numbers in Colorado for the Presidential race, showing Hillary Clinton with a 10-point lead over Donald Trump.

 

► Speaking of Trump, his new campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway, says that her plan moving forward is to “let Trump be Trump.” In other words, Donald Trump has apparently given up on the idea of being elected President.

 

► The U.S. Justice Department announced on Thursday that it will no longer employ the use of private prisons, citing evidence that they are less safe and less effective than government-run prisons. From the Washington Post:

Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates announced the decision on Thursday in a memo that instructs officials to either decline to renew the contracts for private prison operators when they expire or “substantially reduce” the contracts’ scope. The goal, Yates wrote, is “reducing — and ultimately ending — our use of privately operated prisons.”

“They simply do not provide the same level of correctional services, programs, and resources; they do not save substantially on costs; and as noted in a recent report by the Department’s Office of Inspector General, they do not maintain the same level of safety and security,” Yates wrote.

The Justice Department’s inspector general last week released a critical reportconcluding that privately operated facilities incurred more safety and security incidents than those run by the federal Bureau of Prisons. The private facilities, for example, had higher rates of assaults — both by inmates on other inmates and by inmates on staff — and had eight times as many contraband cellphones confiscated each year on average, according to the report. Yates said there are 13 privately run facilities under the Bureau of Prisons purview.

There are several private prisons in Colorado that house criminals convicted of state or local crimes; it is unclear how this announcement might affect these facilities.

 

Get even more smarter after the jump…

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With Hillary Pulling Away, What Happens Down The Ballot?

Hillary Clinton.

Hillary Clinton.

As the Colorado Statesman’s Ernest Luning reports, there’s really no longer any doubt:

Hillary Clinton holds a 10-point lead over Donald Trump among likely Colorado voters, according to a Quinnipiac University Swing State Poll released Wednesday…

It’s the sixth consecutive poll that shows Clinton comfortably ahead in Colorado, which has been considered a swing state in recent elections.

In the poll, which was conducted Aug. 9-16, Democrat Clinton beats Republican Trump with the support of 49 percent of likely Colorado voters to his 39 percent. In a four-way race, Clinton leads Trump 41-33 percent, with 16 percent for Libertarian nominee Gary Johnson and 7 percent for Green Party candidate Jill Stein.

Colorado voters appear to have highly unfavorable opinions about both Clinton and Trump, although that’s a contest Trump is winning by about 10 points.

Quinnipiac University’s polling in Colorado is notorious for overestimating Republican strength, especially early polling from them more useful as GOP-leaning propaganda than any kind of accurate barometer. In this case, however, Q-Pac is tracking only a few points right to what the other recent polls all show in Colorado–a large and growing lead for Hillary Clinton.

In the absence of anything on the horizon to change the trajectory of the presidential race, the next logical question is how the growing likelihood of a Clinton landslide victory will affect races down the ballot. Republicans have more or less conceded the U.S. Senate race to incumbent Democrat Michael Bennet at this point, so the line of defense for them begins with the two congressional races considered pickup opportunities for Democrats: Scott Tipton in CD-3 and Mike Coffman in CD-6. From there, Colorado Republicans face a major challenge holding their one-seat majority in the state senate–with everything coming down to an all-in Trump-supporting conservative running in a swing suburban district.

For all of their perennial bravado Republicans have generally had their backs against the wall electorally in this state since 2004, when a resurgent Democratic coalition took what has proven to be enduring control of the state legislature. Since 2004 Democrats have won consistently at the top of the ticket, and fought to the last vote even in the biggest “GOP wave years” of the Obama presidency.

In 2016, the scenarios for Republicans in Colorado range from honorable defeat to wholesale destruction. The difference relies on the degree to which local Republicans can convince voters to split the ticket–a nightmarish political position to be in.

For Democrats, it’s the greatest opportunity to run up the score since the “Colorado Model” became a thing.

Thursday Open Thread

“A prejudice, unlike a simple misconception, is actively resistant to all evidence that would unseat it.”

–Gordon W. Allport

Get More Smarter on Wednesday (August 17)

Get More SmarterHappy Flag Day…in Bolivia. It’s time to Get More Smarter with Colorado Pols. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of a visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show.

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► Republican Presidential nominee Donald Trump has made some major changes at the top of his campaign as the candidate pledges to increase his level of Trumpiness in the final months of the election cycle. As Chris Cillizza writes for “The Fix”:

“I am who I am,” Trump said. “I’ve gotten here in a landslide and we’ll see what happens.”

What that quote — and the subsequent staff moves — should tell you is that Trump believes he made a mistake in bowing to establishment pressure and bringing in a veteran hand like Manafort to oversee things. Trump sees his current problems in the race as deriving not from being too much of himself but from not being enough of himself.

What moving out Manafort and elevating Conway and Bannon should tell you is that Trump has decided that he is going to run the last three months — or so — of the campaign on his own terms. Win or lose, he is going to go out being himself.

If you come across a Republican weeping quietly in the fetal position today, try to give them an encouraging pat on the back or something.

And if you see Sen. Cory Gardner, it’s probably best that you just not use the “T” word. Gardner quietly announced his support for Trump on Friday, but the lede was so buried that the original story didn’t get widespread attention until Tuesday.

 

► New polling results from Quinnipiac University show that Hillary Clinton maintains a  double-digit lead over Donald Trump in Colorado. Quinnipiac has Clinton up 49-39 in Colorado; 47-44 in Iowa; and 50-38 in Virginia. Quinnipiac’s numbers in Colorado are in the same ballpark as the Real Clear Politics polling average of Clinton +11.

 

Get even more smarter after the jump…

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