Anti-Obamacare Strategy Leaving Republicans in the Cold

Republicans out in the cold on Obamacare


Longtime Colorado Pols reader Republican 36 posted a fascinating diary last night about Republican Rep. Mike Coffman raising money with a different message on Obamacare. You can read the entire diary here, but here's the key excerpt:

Today I received a letter soliciting a campaign contribution from Coffman that contained a "confidential memo from Tyler Sandberg, his campaign manager, deriding Obamacare and making the usual false claims that "350,000" (everyone else says its 335,000) Coloradans had their health insurance canceled (forgetting to mention 92% received renewal notices in the same envelope with the cancelation of last year's policy) and claiming Obamacare "will be a significant issue this election," and claiming "It is a very real issue causing very real harm to Colorado families." In other words, at least in Mr. Sandberg's opinion, he lines up with the "Old Coffman" and wants Obamacare repealed.

However, Coffman's cover letter takes an altogether different position on Obamacare. In his fear based plea for contributions, he tees off on Nancy Pelosi and makes the following statement:


This is a subtle message from Mike Coffman's campaign that contains a startling reality: The incumbent Republican in perhaps the most competitive Congressional seat in America is no longer soliciting support based on a message of "repeal Obamacare." This is not a message that Coffman's campaign was likely to just toss out there without having numbers to back it up, which makes it very likely that Republicans are seeing polling numbers indicating that voters are getting tired of the anti-Obamacare message and looking for candidates to talk about how to "amend" or "reform" the law instead.

There's plenty of reason to believe that Coffman's move to an "amend and reform" message is not just a flash in the pan. As our friends at "The Fix" noted on Monday, President Obama is encouraging Democratic candidates to run with an overt pro-Obamacare message:

President Obama announced last week that more than eight million people had signed up for insurance via the federal marketplace, a surge of last-minute activity that not even the most optimistic administration allies could have hoped for. And, then there was the news from the Congressional Budget Office that the health-care law will cost $100 billion less than projected over the next decade.

Amid a (rare) victory lap on the law, Obama was asked whether the news of the past week meant Democratic candidates should run on the law this fall rather than away from it. His answer?  "I think Democrats should forcefully defend and be proud of the fact….we're helping because of something we did."

Late last month, after a series of anti-Obamacare ads were being debunked across the country, the Washington Post took note of what it called "The incredible shrinking Obamacare sob story." The problems with an anti-Obamacare message have continued here in our state; as Colorado Pols was first to report yesterday, the Koch Brothers' Americans for Prosperity group is apparently having difficulty finding a "real" person who is a "victim" of Obamacare.

All of this is very bad news for Republican candidates in Colorado who were hoping to ride an anti-Obamacare message to victory in November. Republican Senate candidate Cory Gardner, for one, is basing his entire campaign on trying to tie Obamacare to Sen. Mark Udall. If this message isn't working, Gardner won't be the only Republican looking for a new job.

It’s Official: Hickenlooper Pulling Away From GOP “Clown Car”

His opponents are the ones dropping like a rock.

His opponents are the ones dropping like a rock.

Lynn Bartels of the Denver Post is first to write up today:

Gov. John Hickenlooper beats all four Republican rivals in a new poll that shows he's favored by women voters and has a slight advantage with crucial unaffiliated voters.

Of the four GOP candidates on the primary ballot, former Congressman Tom Tancredo presents the stiffest challenge to Hickenlooper, but loses to the Democratic governor by 7 percentage points, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released Wednesday morning.

Since Quinnipiac began polling Colorado voters in June 2013, Hickenlooper's favorability ratings have increased from 45 percent to 51 percent, while his unfavorability ratings have decreased from 42 percent to 37 percent.

Quinnipiac's release on today's poll of the Colorado gubernatorial race underscores how women voters–more to the point, ongoing GOP alienation of women voters–gives incumbent Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper a growing advantage over any potential Republican opponent.

Hickenlooper's leads over possible Republican contenders are:

47 – 40 percent, over former U.S. Rep. Tom Tancredo. Men back Tancredo 47 – 42 percent while women go to Hickenlooper 53 – 34 percent. Independent voters go Democratic 44 – 39 percent.

48 – 38 percent over Secretary of State Scott Gessler. Men back Gessler by a slim 44 – 41 percent margin while women back Hickenlooper 55 – 32 percent. Independent voters go Democratic 43 – 36 percent.

48 – 39 percent over former U.S. Rep. Bob Beauprez, with men to Beauprez 46 – 41 percent and women for Hickenlooper 55 – 33 percent. Independent voters go Democratic 45 – 36 percent.

47 – 38 percent over former State Sen. Mike Kopp, with men for Kopp 44 – 40 percent and women for Hickenlooper 54 – 32 percent. Independent voters go Democratic 44 – 36 percent.

"Strong support from women and an edge among independent voters give Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper a solid foothold in his reelection effort," said Tim Malloy, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University poll. 

Looking beyond the gubernatorial race, it's certainly not all good news for Democrats in today's Q-poll: the same poll that gives Hickenlooper a decisive edge over his opponents demonstrates ongoing confusion among voters over the gun safety legislation passed by Democrats in 2013. 56% of respondents still oppose "the state's stricter new gun control laws," even while they support universal background checks for gun purchases–one of those very same laws–by an overwhelming 85%. Only 34% of respondents say the General Assembly is doing a good job. Note that the question isn't qualified by partisanship, but it's a Democratic majority in both chambers.

Bottom line: it doesn't surprise us to see Hickenlooper pulling away from a pack of undistinguished GOP candidates, who are in many ways more liabilities to their party than assets. Assuming that trajectory continues, Democrats can start looking at ways to trickle Hickenlooper's strength down the ticket–where it's very much needed.

Republican Insiders: Tancredo, Beauprez Frontrunners for Gov. Nomination

UPDATE #2: FOX 31's Eli Stokols updates with further response from Tancredo, who insists he is neither looking at the Jeffco superintendent's job nor an exit from the gubernatorial race:

Tancredo responded to this story Tuesday afternoon, telling FOX31 Denver that he’s not the least bit interested in the Jefferson County superintendent’s job, or looking for an exit.

“The state government would be a hell of a lot easier to run than the Jefferson County School system,” Tancredo said. “And there’s no way in hell we’d be busting our butts and spending all this money getting signatures if we weren’t committed.

“I’ve said all along that if there’s someone who emerges who’s polling better and more competitive with Hickenlooper than me, I’ll hand them the baton,” he added. “But I don’t see it right now. I think I’ve got as good a shot of winning as anyone.”


UPDATE: Speaking with conservative blog Colorado Peak Politics, Tom Tancredo denies rumors of being in the running for superintendent of Jefferson County Schools:

“Absolutely false. Joked that running the state of CO would be easier than running Jeffco schools. My guess this is someone (party insiders) wants to slow my momentum.”


Beauprez, via The Colorado Statesman.

Like him or not, Republicans see Beauprez as a frontrunner for the nomination.

Fox 31's Eli Stokols takes a good, long look at the four-person field seeking the Republican nomination for Governor. As Stokols reports, according to a host of Republican insiders, Tom Tancedo and Bob Beauprez are the frontrunners for the GOP nomination following Saturday's Republican State Convention. Top-line winner Mike Kopp is still a long-shot and Scott Gessler may be beginning to fade:

A number of top Colorado Republicans, who all spoke candidly to FOX31 Denver in exchange for remaining anonymous, agree that each of the four candidates has a path to winning the party’s nomination, but that two in particular have an inherent advantage.

Even after his surprise top-line victory Saturday, former Senate Minority Leader Mike Kopp has his work cut out for him if he wants to finish on top when the primary votes are counted. For now, he is still viewed as having longer odds to secure the nomination than former Congressman Tom Tancredo, who has a deep base of support, and former Congressman Bob Beauprez, who has the deep financial resources to be the last man standing…

…“Tancredo remains the frontrunner in a four-candidate diffused field,” one Republican said. “He starts with a 25-30 percent base vote in a Republican primary, so unless one of the other three can emerge as the Tancredo alternative, he wins by default.” [Pols emphasis]

Rumors abound that party bosses are looking for a way to get Tancredo out of the race, and even that Tancredo may be listening. One rumor circulating Monday is that the Jefferson County School Board, won by a conservative majority last November, may hire Tancredo, a former teacher, as superintendent.

The rumor that Tom Tancredo might be interested in becoming Jefferson County Superintendent was first reported here at Colorado Pols.

Local Control Initiative TV Spot Running in Denver

A brief release from RBI Strategies yesterday:

Coloradans for Local Control today aired their first cable TV ad. The ad focuses on the proximity of fracking to homes and playgrounds, and the need for local control.

Fracking is expected to grow exponentially in the coming years spreading into the residential communities located on top of the Niobrara. Local governments must be able to listen and respond appropriately to community concerns and balance industrial activities with residents' quality of life, health, property values and long-term economic vitality.

FOX 31's Eli Stokols:

The spot focuses on the proximity of oil and gas wells to schools and homes and asks viewers: “Would you want to live here? Want your kids to play here?

“Right now, you and your neighbors can’t stop it,” the female narrator continues. “With local control of oil and gas drilling, you have the tools to protect your neighborhood.”

As FOX31 Denver first reported last month, Congressman Jared Polis, D-Boulder, is putting his considerable wealth behind the campaign, which is likely to make life more complicated for two of his fellow Democrats on the ballot this fall…

As the likelihood of a ballot measure allowing local communities to regulate industrial land uses including oil and gas drilling within their boundaries increases, we're seeing previews of the likely opposition approach: driving a wedge between conservationist Democrats and top-line Democratic candidates, and the false conflation of a local control measure with an "all-out ban" on fracking statewide. Addressing the former, we would argue that Gov. John Hickenlooper is much more compromised on energy than Sen. Mark Udall, yet even Hickenlooper will be seen as sufficiently preferable–on a wide range of issues–to whoever wins the GOP gubernatorial primary to turn out the Democratic vote just fine. As for Udall, he can demonstrate a stark contrast with his opponent on energy issues favorable to conservationists, and is perfectly safe staying neutral on this "state issue" if he chooses.

The second attack on this initiative is frankly much more dangerous, and as we've discussed in this space, deceptively conflating a local control initiative with an unworkable statewide ban on hydraulic fracturing in the public's mind is becoming an everyday occurrence. It's easy to understand why: a total statewide ban on fracking won't pass. Colorado is an energy producing state, and that's not going to change. This measure is about local communities, at their option, protecting themselves. Just like a number of Front Range residential cities have already done.

If the voters can be made to understand what the initiative actually does, it will pass.

Governor’s Office Releases Transcripts of Oddly-Biased Ethics Investigation

We wrote last summer and fall about the political tactic of using independent ethics investigations as campaign fodder — regardless of whether the investigation has any merit whatsoever. As Fox 31's Eli Stokols reports today, someone needs to investigate the ethics of the investigator hired by the Independent Ethics Commission (got that?):

Bill McBean

Bill McBean

Gov. John Hickenlooper’s office released an outside report Monday investigating whether he violated the state’s ethics law — a report that isn’t being accepted by the Colorado Ethics Commission because of questions about the investigator’s fairness.

Compass Colorado, a conservative group charged with targeting Hickenlooper, a Democrat who faces reelection this fall, filed a complaint last year alleging that the governor violated the gift-ban provision of Amendment 41 by allowing the Democratic Governors Association to pick up his costs for a conference last summer in Aspen.

In March, the Ethics Commission hired Acclaim Investigations to find out what happened at the Aspen conference last July, where participants — mostly oil and gas industry executives — donated at least $10,000 to take part in discussions and private dinners with Hickenlooper and a few other governors, according to the report released Monday.

Bill McBean, an investigator employed by Acclaim and contracted by the commission to investigate, appears to have mis-characterized Hickenlooper’s own answers when interviewing his staffers, possibly in an effort to trip them up with a number of leading questions.

You really should read the entire story to see the full extent of the absurdity from this "investigation" by Bill McBean. The Governor's office wisely released a bunch of documents today showing transcripts of interviews with McBean, and they are pretty ridiculous. On multiple occasions, McBean straight-out tells his interview subjects that he thinks the Democratic Governor's Association Summit was a "pay-to-play" event; McBean is supposed to be an "independent" investigator, but it's hard to see anything but bias when he makes direct accusations of misconduct during the investigation process.

The Independent Ethics Commission (IEC) is scheduled to meet on April 14th to make a decision on the complaint filed against Hickenlooper. But even if the IEC rules that Hick did nothing wrong, McBean's biased words will almost certainly show up in negative ads against the Governor this fall, and that's wrong — particularly when Republicans such as Attorney General John Suthers have already publicly stated that the investigation is ridiculous.

Full press release from the Governor's office after the jump.


Poll: Hickenlooper Pulling Away from Rest of Field

Public Policy Polling (PPP) is out with some new numbers in Colorado for both the race for Governor and U.S. Senate.

Is there room for a competitive candidate?

Is there any room for a competitive candidate?

Things are largely unchanged in the race for Senate, even with the inclusion of Rep. Cory Gardner in the race, but it's the fight for the Governor's Mansion where the numbers have really shifted:

John Hickenlooper's approval rating is back on positive ground at 48/41, after slipping into negative territory on our December poll. Hickenlooper's also back to having double digit leads over all of his potential Republican opponents. Bob Beauprez comes closest at 48/38, followed by Scott Gessler at 48/36, Tom Tancredo at 50/36, Greg Brophy at 48/33, and Mike Kopp at 49/32. Hickenlooper's lead over the four Republicans included in the December poll has increased from an average of 8 points to an average of 14 points.

The Republican clown car is close to bursting with Bob Beauprez now part of the field. With the State Party Convention just a few weeks away (April 12), there isn't any room left for another Republican candidate — even if they could find someone more competitive than the current crop of GOP contenders. The newest PPP poll reflects that reality, with voters acknowledging that Gov. John Hickenlooper can start to breathe a little easier. Hickenlooper's 48% approval rating isn't steller by any means, but it's all relative when it comes to campaign season; the Republican with the highest favorability rating is Tancredo, at just 30%.

School Funding

Pols reporting of the ongoing school funding issue in the legislature seems nonexistent. Check out Chalkboard for the news on a united front of Colorado educators asking for no more unfunded mandates and some backfilling of the cuts of the last few years.

Democratic legislators appear to be under increasing pressure to restore funding, WITHOUT requiring implementation of their pet projects. Yesterday's letter to Gov. Hickenlooper signed by almost all superintendents in the state is unprecedented, yet very clear in what educators feel they need.

Make Room in the Clown Car for Bob Beauprez

Who wants to be Governor of Colorado?

Move over.

As we discussed yesterday, the "Draft Beauprez" nonsense drummed up by Erick Erickson on his conservative blog Red State likely means that Republican Bob Beauprez really and truly is about to jump into the race for Governor; pretending to "draft" a candidate is one of the oldest tricks in the political playbook. Of course, the very fact that Beauprez is even able to enter a top statewide race this late in the game is causing a certain amount of anxiety among Republicans, who see their chances at upending Gov. John Hickenlooper eroding by the day. But with a weak field unable to raise much money combined, it's becoming harder for anyone to dismiss a candidate who can at least self-fund to some degree — even if his last name is Beauprez.

As FOX 31's Eli Stokols reported late yesterday, it seems more likely than not that a "Both Ways Bob" return is just around the corner:

Last month, as Beauprez began making calls to potential donors about a late entry into the governor’s race, speculation ramped up that he was getting in.

And it continues to swirl as Beauprez commissioned a private poll last week that showed him trailing Tom Tancredo and Scott Gessler in the seven-candidate primary field; and he’s reportedly had conversations with a possible campaign manager and other potential staffers.

Sources also indicate that associates of Beauprez and Tancredo had been negotiating a deal — Tancredo would exit the race, then Beauprez would get in — but those talks have since been tabled.

Tancredo told the Denver Post he never agreed to such a deal, although sources offer conflicting reports of the negotiations.

Both Ways Bob Beauprez

Both Ways Bob Beauprez (right).

Obviously Tancredo would deny that any such deal was in place — it doesn't do him any good to confirm this, particularly if Beauprez ultimately doesn't run — but this is the kind of thing that Tancredo would be likely to do. Before Tancredo became the American Constitution Party nominee for Governor in 2010, he talked openly about his preference that a strong Republican would run and make his own bid unnecessary. And as Mike Littwin notes in the Colorado Independent, Tancredo seems underwhelmed at the idea of actually being Governor:

On the other hand, there are any number of reasons why Tancredo might drop out. To begin with, there’s the matter of whether he actually wants to be governor.  Although Tancredo enjoys running for the job, he has not, over two campaigns,  put together anything resembling a credible platform. Instead of working on policy, or participating in debates, he spends his time writing op-eds for sketchy right-wing web sites about impeaching the president.

And then comes the hard work of actually getting on the ballot. In 2010, Tancredo skipped the hard stuff by running on the American Constitution Party ticket. Tancredo is back to being a Republican this time, meaning he has to either draw at least 30 percent of the votes at the GOP convention — and Tancredo is hardly popular with the Republican establishment – or petition his way onto the ballot.

Tancredo's indifference to the job of Governor (or any other elected office, frankly) is something we've heard before; remember, this is the same guy who "retired" from a Congressional seat that was required no actual campaigning to get re-elected (the pre-redistricted CD-6).

But the real question here, of course, is whether Beauprez is actually going to make the move to formally enter the race for Governor. From everything we've heard lately, it seems more likely than not that Beauprez will join the clown car that is the GOP field for Governor. Frankly, Beauprez has dragged this out so long that he almost has an obligation to run; by flirting with the idea, and even commissioning a poll to test his chances, Beauprez has helped further demonstrate that the entire Republican field is terribly weak and incapable of defeating Hickenlooper in November. Beauprez has said that he doesn't think the current crop of Republicans can defeat Hickenlooper, which is the same thing he said in 2009 when he was considering running against Sen. Michael Bennet.

Even if Beauprez doesn't prove to be any better at running for Governor than he was in 2006 (in what was probably the worst statewide campaign in the history of Colorado politics), at the very least he could put resources into a campaign that could have some positive effect on down-ballot Republican candidates looking for GOTV support. Remember the absurd "campaign" of Republican nominee Dan Maes in 2010? Maes was a joke of a candidate who couldn't find the money to do much more than pay himself a salary, and the inevitability of his demise was a significant drag on the entire Republican ticket. If he wins the GOP nomination, Beauprez is unlikely to pose a serious threat to Hickenlooper — but there are other reasons for Republicans to grudgingly support his campaign.

Red State’s Erick Erickson: Draft Beauprez For Governor

UPDATE: The Denver Post's Lynn Bartels:

“I heard he was thinking about it again,” said Tancredo. “I told him to get in. He is a friend and a good guy.”

Tancredo and Beauprez served together in Congress. Despite their friendship, Tancredo said he never said he would drop out of the crowded GOP race if Beauprez got in. Tancredo is one of at least seven Republicans running for the GOP nomination for governor…

2006 was a fabulous year for Colorado Democrats, but [Erickson's] statement overlooks Beauprez’s questionable performance as a candidate. Most of Beauprez’s wounds were self-inflicted, say political watchers, and raised questions about Beauprez’s ability to lead. Beauprez lost to Democrat Bill Ritter by 17 percentage points.


“Both Ways” Bob Beauprez (right).

One of the premiere "thought leaders" of the conservative blogosphere, Erick Erickson of Red State, throws down hard for a Bob Beauprez campaign for Colorado governor in 2014–unrepentantly at the expense of the current large pack of candidates already in this race. Excerpt, though the whole piece is worth reading and sharing with your Republican friends:

There are seven people running for the Republican nomination for Governor of Colorado. None of the seven have shown an ability to unite the Colorado GOP. None have shown the ability to win the tough race. None have shown the ability to raise the significant money they will need for a very tough race. None even seem to have a very strong, statewide grassroots network of support.

The frontrunners in the Republican primary include Colorado Secretary of State, Scott Gessler and former Congressman, Tom Tancredo. Both Gessler and Tancredo have high hurdles in terms of electability. Gessler has a series of ethics mishaps that are sure to be the basis of relentless attack ads and Tancredo ran four years ago for Governor as a third party candidate and lost handily.

It is time Colorado Republicans and the rest of us who can help get out and draft former Congressman Bob Beauprez for the nomination. Bob Beauprez can win tough races. Beauprez famously won the newly-added 7th Congressional District in Colorado by 121 votes in 2002 (less than one-third of a vote per precinct) then easily won reelection in 2004 in the district that a Republican hasn’t come close to winning since.

It is true that Beauprez ran for Colorado Governor in 2006 and lost in a year that was devastating across the map for the GOP. But Bob has stayed in the conversation and is highly respected across Colorado… [Pols emphasis]

As we've said, Beauprez's presence on the margins of both the Republican gubernatorial and U.S. Senate primary races is more about the weaknesses of the present candidates in those races than Beauprez's personal viability as a candidate. It's enormously damaging to the other candidates in both of those races each day that Beauprez lurks on the periphery. The rumors surrounding the possibility of a Beauprez 2014 campaign have trended toward a run for Governor as opposed to Senate. As GOP despair grows over the inability of the current candidates to defeat Gov. John Hickenlooper, it becomes less a matter of a savior as saving face–preventing collapse at the top of the ticket to give downballot candidates a better shot. And apparently, Beauprez can still charm people outside Colorado, either old Washington buddies or folks who don't know him or our state very well.

Above all, Erick Erickson's ringing endorsement of Beauprez didn't happen by accident. The likelihood of a Both Ways Bob reprise in 2014 is growing swiftly.

Reax: Colorado Approves Landmark Air Quality Rules

lion-lamb​FOX 31's Eli Stokols kicks off coverage from this weekend's session of the Colorado Air Quality Control Commission:

Colorado will be the first state in the country to regulate emissions of methane, a potent greenhouse gas, as part of new air quality rules for the state’s booming oil and gas industry that were finalized on Sunday afternoon…

On Sunday afternoon, after voting down motions to weaken the rule based on suggestions from the industry — they wanted the rule applied only along the Front Range in ozone “non-attainment” areas and to exempt smaller wells altogether — the board voted 8-1 in favor of the new rules.

“I think that the vote was 8-to-1 tells you we felt this was a strong, fair rule,” said AQCC Chairman John Loewy.

The three largest operators in the state, Noble, Anadarko and Encana pledged to support the rules, which were outlined late last year by Gov. John Hickenlooper after he brokered a compromise that got them, along with the Environmental Defense Fund, to officially sign on.

The Denver Post's Bruce Finley with reaction from supportive members of the industry:

By passing rules aimed at reducing toxic emissions from oil and gas facilities, Colorado officials are trying to allow an energy boom while also protecting health and the environment. They needed to act because Front Range air already fails to meet federal health standards. The oil and gas industry is a growing source of volatile organic compounds that lead to the formation of ozone…

"This is the toughest regulatory landscape in the country, no doubt about that," Noble vice president Ted Brown said. "But we really believe this rule is smart. It is cost-effective. It ensures that oil and gas is developed in the safest possible way for communities and the environment."

From Gov. John Hickenlooper's statement:

"Colorado is proving once again that collaboration and compromise help solve important issues facing our state. The new rules approved by Colorado’s Air Quality Control Commission, after taking input from varied and often conflicting interests, will ensure Colorado has the cleanest and safest oil and gas industry in the country and help preserve jobs.

“We want to thank the environmental community, the energy industry and our state agencies for working together so hard to take this significant step forward. All Coloradans deserve a healthy economy and a healthy environment, and we’re working to ensure that Colorado continues to have both.”


Coloradans Overwhelmingly Voice Support for Proposed Air Regulations

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Colorado is the quintessential swing state – with voters split about evenly between Republicans, Democrats and Independents. That can make for some fractious politics at times, but our diversity is part of what makes us great.

What makes us even better is our unity – and that’s what we saw today when, by a margin of almost 10-to-1, Coloradans of all stripes called on the state’s Air Quality Control Commission (AQCC) to adopt new rules that would slash air and climate pollution coming from oil and gas development activities.

The AQCC opened its hearings on the proposed rules with a full day of citizen input, with people traveling from around the state (one drove six hours) to make their voices heard. Residents from rural communities, including many from the Western Slope, stood up, one after another, to tell the AQCC Commissioners that the proposed rules should apply statewide and that the handful of local officials opposing the rules are out of step with the citizens they’re supposed to serve. In response to those local officials, one citizen from Ridgway implored the Commission to protect all Colorado families and not “turn the West Slope into an air quality sacrifice zone.”

The Environmental Defense Fund couldn’t agree more. Air quality in western parts of Colorado is trending in a bad direction, teetering on the edge of violating federal health standards. The state health department issued nine ozone advisories last winter for Western Slope counties where oil and gas development is prevalent, meaning the air wasn’t healthy for kids, the elderly, active adults and people with respiratory illness.


Air Quality Rules Hearings Get Underway

Photo courtesy Rep. Jared Polis

Photo courtesy Rep. Jared Polis

​We’ve talked a lot about fracking in this space and the political quagmire it has become for local and state elected officials alike. We’ve half-joked about Gov. John Hickenlooper drinking “fracking fluid” in a silly effort to prove that fracking is safe – a misguided notion on more than one level. It is true that the chemicals used in fracking fluid may be harmful to the environment, but there is another big problem when it comes to increased oil and gas drilling: air quality.

According to a widely-reported study in 2012, little ‘ol Erie, Colo. had worse air pollution than Houston – and the number of oil and gas wells have only increased since then. Air pollutants from fracking and other drilling, specifically methane, are massive contributors to climate change. The New York Times reported last week on a new study suggesting that natural gas is not nearly as clean as advertised in large part because of the amount of fugitive methane gas released into the atmosphere.

Last November, Gov. Hickenlooper proposed a set of regulations to protect Colorado’s air quality. On Wednesday, the Air Quality Control Commission will meet to begin discussions of the proposed regulations – new rules created with input from scientists, environmental organizations, and oil and gas developers such as Noble Energy, Anadarko, and Encana

But not everyone is holding hands and signing Kumbaya. Out-of-state interest groups such as the Koch Brothers’ Americans for Prosperity are beating the oil drums on behalf of the likes of Chevron, Exxon, and the American Petroleum Institute as part of an effort to derail any new regulations. You know the routine: any new regulations will destroy businesses in Colorado, cost the state quadrillions of dollars, and force oil and gas companies to move out of Colorado and drill elsewhere (as though there are massive oil and gas fields in every state). Also, the terrorists will win. 


Live-Blogging GOP Gubernatorial Debate

*NOTE: Unless something is in quotations, everything here is paraphrased in order to post quickly.



Brophy was the clear winner here, and it wasn't close. He was much more at ease and friendly, and he spoke to specifics much better than any other candidate. Based on this debate, he's the only one of the four candidates who you could conceivably envision being Governor. Brophy also wisely worked out with House beforehand to back each other up on the question of, "If you don't win the Primary, who would you root for?"

This was an absolute disaster for Mike Kopp, who was already in trouble coming into the debate. When Tancredo and Gessler pulled out of the debates, it created a tiered dynamic in which Kopp fell into the bottom half of contenders. He could have used a strong performance here to show that he belongs among the top tier, but that slot should be filled now by Brophy.

Steve House is a middle-aged white male who has spent his career as a "businessman." He is every bit as drab and boring as that previous sentence.

Jason Clark might be insane. Seriously.

7:32: And that wraps it up.


7:25: Closing statements…

Clark: I went to West Point, so I know how to lead…blah, blah. Talking about Elon Musk wanting to build a plant to build batteries, says he would invite him to Colorado and take him skiing in Aspen.

House: I'm a business leader…snore.

Kopp: This is about the citizen's process, not about the candidates. Our state has been let down. John Hickenlooper is a nice man, but he has let us down. My philosophy is empowering people. Giving power back to people. "We're supposed to be free."

1. Build a booming economy around low taxes

2. Cut Government

3. Fight against federal government

4. Fight against Obamacare

5. Start a Unicorn farm

Brophy: I am the only candidate who has been to all 64 states. I've been fighting for energy companies my entire life (that's going in a commercial if Brophy ends up as the nominee). We're going to have a world-class education system, great economy….

Basically, if you elect any of these four men, everything will be good and nothing will be bad.


7:22: If you can't win, who would you like to see win?

Brophy: Steve House, because of business experience.

Clark: That's a rhetorical question, because I'm going to win. I don't play for second place. Clark is like a walking late-night infomercial.

Plunkett prods him to answer the question. Clark finally says, "Nobody."

House: Brophy. Sounds like House and Brophy have a nice alliance.

Kopp: "Scott."

Room is quiet, waiting to see if he'll say more. He doesn't…for a moment. Was talking about Scott Gessler. Was that a joke???


Beauprez’s Dancing Highlights GOP Anxiety in 2014

Groucho, Not KarlThe more we watch the saga of Bob Beauprez, candidate for (Governor/Senate/Student Council?), the more we are reminded of this famous quote from actor Groucho Marx. The quote doesn't quite fit for Beauprez, necessarily, but is fairly spot-on if you attribute the saying to Colorado Republicans. Since his historic implosion as a candidate for Governor in 2006, Beauprez has floated his name as a potential candidate for Governor or Senate more often than some state legislators take a bath (we're kidding, we're kidding: we're sure most of you are bathing). The response Beauprez has received from Republican leaders in Colorado has been fairly consistent; a polite, 'maybe this is not your year' from some folks, while most just pretended they weren't home when Beauprez rang the doorbell.

But that was then. Now? Now, things are different…sort of. Now Republican leaders just pretend they're not home when any of their candidates for Governor or Senate come to call. And there's Beauprez, grinning like Jim Carrey's character from Dumb and Dumber, after being told by the woman of his dreams that he had a '1-in-a-million' chance of dating her: "So you're saying there's a chance…"

Fox 31's Eli Stokols has been on the Beauprez watch for months now, and then last Wednesday, Colorado Pols reported that Beauprez was close to entering the race for Governor. Then, on Thursday, Beauprez sent out a vague Tweet saying that he was 100% committed to trying to bring the 2016 Republican National Convention to Denver. The next day, Friday (Feb

Beauprez, via The Colorado Statesman.

Beauprez, via The Colorado Statesman.

. 7), Beauprez was quoted extensively by Jody Hope Strogoff in The Colorado Statesman. He doesn't exactly sound like a guy who doesn't want to talk about running for Governor:

Asked whether he might bow out of his RNC role after the upcoming deadline, Beauprez said he has “the intention to stay.”

But Beauprez also acknowledged he’s cognizant of the upcoming caucuses to be held on March 4, and the earlier than usual election calendar that has the primary election on June 24. “It’s on my mind, sure,” he said, dashing speculation that he’s ruled out a race for governor in total.

“Are you 100 percent not running?” The Statesman queried.

“We’ll see,” Beauprez said.

“I’ll admit I’m curious, but [have] not made a decision,” Beauprez also said during the interview.

Look, it's no secret that Beauprez wants to run for something statewide, but after so many years of being politely brushed off, maybe now he's just taking his time to pretend to be talked into it. Republicans know that none of their current candidates can beat Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper, and as much as they may still harbor some resentment over Beauprez's horrible, no-good 2006 campaign, he at least has the ability to self-fund a campaign — a big plus when the rest of the field is having a bit of trouble raising money. Will Beauprez ultimately make the jump and run for Governor (or still, perhaps, U.S. Senate)? It sure looks like it, but that's only part of the story.

The real story here is a Republican Party that is so divided and confused that someone like Beauprez, a shamed former candidate, can even contemplate running for Governor or Senate even though the General Election is less than 9 months away. Not only can he contemplate either race — he can actually give serious consideration into running for either office. When Udall first ran for the Senate against Republican Bob Schafer in 2008, both candidates had been raising serious cash and support for months. You'd have been out of your mind to even consider mounting a challenge to either candidate in Feb. 2008, when Schaffer was sitting on more than $1.5 million and Udall nearly $4 million, respectively. Of course, in those days, the Republican Party actually had some ability to talk bad candidates out of running in order to clear a Primary.

Whether Beauprez runs or not is almost a moot point. What matter is that he even could run. He's not the man they want. He's not the man they need. But he can't be any worse than what they've got now.