Intensifying personhood debate should put media spotlight on Gardner, who stood with personhood when it was first launched

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

The kickoff rally to oppose Amendment 67, which would add "unborn human beings” to Colorado's criminal code and wrongful death act, is set for tomorrow at 12:15 p.m. on the west steps of the Colorado State Capitol, exactly 45 minutes after proponents of the Personhood-USA-backed measure stage a counter protest at the same location.

If you re-wind just over six years ago to the State Capitol, you'd find a related news event taking place: the 2008 personhood amendment was picking up its first real legitimacy. Personhood activists staged a press conference with, as Channel 7 reported at the time, "some of Colorado's most conservative leaders," including Bill Cadman, Mike Kopp, and Josh Penry. (Watch it here.)

Also present was then State Rep. Cory Gardner, who you can see on the left of the screen shot below.

Gardner and the others got a shout-out from Kristi Burton, the initiator of the 2008 personhood effort, in a subsequent news release about the event:

Colorado for Equal Rights and State Senator Scott Renfroe organized a press conference in which ten state legislators gave their public support to the Colorado Human Life Amendment. Endorsements were given by State Senators Scott Renfroe, Greg Brophy, David Schultheis, Mike Kopp, Josh Penry, Ted Harvey, and Bill Cadman and State Representatives Kent Lambert, Jerry Sonnenberg, and Corey Gardner.

Colorado for Equal Rights applauds the courage of these state legislators in stepping out and taking a stand for those people who have no voice…the unborn. As Senator Greg Brophy stated, "Clearly it's always the right time to take the stand for the sanctity of life."

The underlying politics of this year's Personhood-backed amendment is obviously a major part of the story. And no one illustrates the shifting politics better than GOP senatorial candidate Gardner.

Tomorrow's events provide an excellent opportunity for reporters to clarify how Gardner's position on Amendment 67, which he's said he opposes, squares with his position on federal personhood legislation, which he cosponsored in July of last year.

Recently, Gardner's spokesman told The Denver Post that the federal bill is simply an expression of belief, not a proposed law. This is factually incorrect, and journalists should find out directly from Gardner what his own thinking on the legislation is. If it turns out he opposes it, will he un-cosponsor it by making a speech? If he supports it, what does he think the federal legislation would actually do, if anything?

Senate Q-Poll: Gardner 44%, Udall 42%

Mark Udall, Cory Gardner.

Mark Udall, Cory Gardner.

Today's poll from Quinnipiac University of the Colorado U.S. Senate race, like the Q-poll released released yesterday showing Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper and GOP challenger Bob Beauprez in a statistical dead heat, puts Democrats on notice that a long, hard election season most likely awaits:

The closely-watched U.S. Senate race is tied with 44 percent for U.S. Rep. Cory Gardner, the Republican challenger, and 42 percent for Sen. Mark Udall, the Democratic incumbent, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released today. Another 10 percent are undecided. 

This compares to the results of an April 24 survey by the independent Quinnipiac (KWIN-uh-pe-ack) University showing Sen. Udall at 45 percent to 44 percent for Rep. Gardner…

Colorado voters give Udall a negative 42 – 46 percent job approval rating, his lowest net approval ever and down from a 42 – 42 percent split in April. Voters say 49 – 40 percent that Udall does not deserve to be reelected, tying his lowest score on that measure…

"This race shifts back and forth a point or two and remains too close to call. There's a whole lot at stake as Sen. Mark Udall runs neck and neck with U.S. Rep. Cory Gardner, the GOP challenger, in a marquee race that could tip the balance of the Senate," said Tim Malloy, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University poll.

While not the direction Democrats want to see the polls moving in, it should be noted that the shift in this poll from Quinnipiac's April survey is considerably smaller than the putative swing Beauprez has enjoyed in the gubernatorial race. Both races are much too close to call, but Udall's race has remained locked in a tighter range. Also, although we consider Quinnipiac as reliable a pollster as the next, this might be a good time to remember that Quinnipiac consistently showed Mitt Romney ahead of Barack Obama in Colorado in 2012. Obama carried the state by five points. Like Beauprez, there is a large body of negative material on Gardner that voters have not been exposed to yet, whereas Udall has been getting pummeled over a course of years as an incumbent Senator. The poll shows that Udall has a solid advantage over Gardner on reproductive choice and other "issues important to women," which suggests that the one issue Gardner has taken fire on, abortion, has hurt him. Now it's time for Democrats to segue into the other stuff in the oppo book.

The biggest winners in this poll? Reporters who'd prefer to call a horse race instead of unpacking the issues. It's shallower and easier, and it looks like that's going to be the narrative for the time being.

Local Control Special Session Officially Dead; Voters To Decide

Photo courtesy Rep. Jared Polis

Photo courtesy Rep. Jared Polis

As 9NEWS' Brandon Rittiman reports, Gov. John Hickenlooper is giving up on the idea of a special session of the legislature this year to pass legislation giving local communities greater control over oil and gas drilling. That means two measures supported by Rep. Jared Polis to increase setbacks from drilling and establish an "environmental bill of rights" for Coloradans, are likely a go for this November's ballot:

Talks aimed at brokering a compromise to allow increased local control over oil and gas drilling operations have failed, Gov. John Hickenlooper's (D-Colorado) office reported Wednesday.

The governor's office says there will be no special session – as Hickenlooper had hoped – to pass a compromise law on fracking.

"Despite our best efforts and those of other willing partners," the governor said in a written statement. "We have not been able to secure the broader stakeholder support necessary to pass bipartisan legislation in a special session."

That news all but ensures Colorado voters will have the opportunity to weigh in with a statewide vote on fracking this year, a follow-up to local ballot questions which have halted the practice in four Front Range communities.

With the special session now dead, as many observers expected, Sen. Mark Udall was quick to announce his opposition to the ballot measures:

"Fracking can be done safely and responsibly," Udall wrote shortly after the governor's announcement. "I believe that Colorado can and must do better, which is why I oppose these one-size-fits-all restrictions."

Undaunted, Rep. Polis announces he is moving ahead:

“I have said from the beginning of this debate that my one goal is to find a solution that will allow my constituents to live safely in their homes, free from the fear of declining property values or unnecessary health risks, but also that will allow our state to continue to benefit from the oil and gas boom that brings jobs and increased energy security,” Polis said.

“I stand by this goal, I am confident that the majority of Coloradoans share this goal, and I am committed to continuing to work to protect our Colorado values.”

FOX 31's Eli Stokols reports that the American Petroleum Institute, which plans to spend a great deal of money fighting these initiatives, hardened opposition among Republicans and the oil and gas industry against a compromise with a poll indicating they can beat the ballot measures. On the other side, proponents have polling that says the measures can pass–even after respondents hear the industry's arguments against the measures.

Stokols speculates once again about the measures "potentially jeopardizing the reelection of Hickenlooper and Sen. Mark Udall — and, by extension, Democratic control of the senate." As we've said previously, that is a dubious suggestion at best. We also don't believe that high-profile Democrats steering clear of these initiatives hurt either the initiatives or their re-election campaigns–there's a lot more driving those campaigns than this one issue, and by disavowing the initiatives early, there's nothing to use against Udall or Hickenlooper even if they do go badly. As for Rep. Polis? The FOX 31 story a week ago, trying to cast CD-2 Republican candidate George Leing as a credible opponent–which even most Democrats opposed to Polis on this issue found laughable–makes it pretty clear he doesn't have much to worry about. That said, we expect the industry will do whatever they can to extract a cost from Polis for his "impertinence."

In November, all of these assumptions will meet their ultimate test–and somebody's going to be wrong.

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.

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.

Thank you, Charles and David Koch, for improving Colorado’s health care coverage

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

The Law of Unintended Consequences:

The hundreds of millions of dollars spent on anti-Obamacare ads may have inadvertently encouraged enrollment, a Brookings Institution study released Wednesday found.

In a state-by-state look at spending on ads attacking the Affordable Care Act, Brookings found that increased ad spending per capita was tied to declining enrollment in red states but linked with increasing enrollment in blue states.

“This implies that anti-ACA ads may unintentionally increase the public awareness about the existence of a governmentally subsidized service and its benefits for the uninsured,” wrote Brookings Institution fellow Niam Yaraghi, noting that anti-Obamacare ads may have encouraged people to sign up by making them think it might be a limited-time offer.

“In the states where more anti-ACA ads are aired, residents were on average more likely to believe that Congress will repeal the ACA in the near future,” he said. “People who believe that subsidized health insurance may soon disappear could have a greater willingness to take advantage of this one time opportunity.”

Of the more than $445 million spent on ads mentioning Obamacare, negative ads outspent positive ones 15-to-1, a Kantar Media CMAG report found in May.

What do you know about that, "Americans for Prosperity"?

(more…)

Obama Likes LoDo, LoDo Likes Him Right Back

UPDATE #2: FOX 31's Eli Stokols reports on the President's just-concluded speech:

“We have come farther and recovered faster than almost any advanced nation on Earth,” Obama said. “We know we’ve still got a long way to go.

“More jobs have been created in the first half of this year since 1999, but many families barely earn what they earned in the nineties. Too much improvement goes to the folks at the top, and not enough of it is making a difference in the lives of regular Americans.”

As he has since his State of the Union address in January, Obama positioned himself as a president of action who’s done waiting for a do-nothing Congress.

“These days, basic common sense ideas cannot get through Congress,” he said. “They’ve said no to raising the minimum wage. They’ve said no to equal pay so women can get paid the same as men. They’ve said no to unemployment insurance for working Americans. Congress just said no to fixing our broken immigration system.

“If Congress won’t act, I will.”

—–

UPDATE: Watch President Barack Obama's Denver speech today in its entirety:

—–

obamahickpool

Photos via White House photographer Pete Souza

obamalodo

The Denver Post reports, apparently Gov. John Hickenlooper isn't afraid to be seen with Barack Obama after all! Though we haven't heard who won their game of pool:

President Barack Obama opened his Denver trip Tuesday evening by dining with five Colorado residents who wrote the White House and shared their stories of trying to make it in today's economy.

Then he strolled Lower Downtown, shaking hands and eventually playing pool with Gov. John Hickenlooper.

The conversations over pizza at the Wazee Supper Club in LoDo are meant to reinforce the main thrust of a speech Obama is expected to deliver Wednesday in Cheesman Park — that Congress, in particular Republicans, aren't doing enough to "expand opportunities for the middle class," said Josh Earnest, the White House press secretary, in an interview.

Despite President Obama's warm reception in Lower Downtown Denver last night, the media remains focused on the question of whether local Democrats are "steering clear of the President" due to Obama's soft approval ratings going into his second midterm election. The AP reports that Sen. Mark Udall, in a last-minute change, is remaining in Washington today in order to vote on the new Secretary of Housing and Urban Development. Udall was already going to miss Obama's speech this morning in Cheesman Park, but this latest announcement has led to yet another round of speculation that Udall is "afraid" of getting his picture taken with Obama.

This would seem to ignore the fact that cameras aren't allowed at the fundraiser, but don't let that get in the way of a good story.

We'll say this much: if these scheduling conflicts were intended to put distance between Obama and local Democrats, the strategy failed dismally–drawing more press speculation and Republican crowing to this event than would have existed had they simply appeared at Cheesman Park. But isn't it just possible that Udall and anybody else who can't make it really were already booked? Obama's Cheesman Park speech was only arranged last Monday according to all news reports, and it's not like the business of the U.S. Senate stops for a fundraiser. There's at least enough of a chance that the mundane explanation is right to reasonably consider the possibility.

But especially in an election year, nobody wants to read mundane explanations.

Udall And Obama: Damned if You Do, Damned if You Don’t

President Barack Obama, with close ally Satan (right).

President Barack Obama, with close ally Satan (right).

As 9NEWS' Brandon Rittiman reports, the non-troversy over President Barack Obama's upcoming visit to Colorado this week goes on–at least in the minds of Republicans, desperate to extract larger meaning from, well, any silly little thing they can:

When Air Force One touches down in Denver on Tuesday night, Sen. Mark Udall won't be on board nor will he be on the tarmac to greet the president.

Likewise, the Udall campaign told 9NEWS the senator will not attend an official speech the president plans to give Wednesday, which will be open to the Denver news media.

Instead, Udall will be on a flight from Washington DC that's scheduled to land in time for the senator to attend a closed-door fundraiser for his re-election campaign, headlined by the president.

"The public is not only barred from attending the president's speech in Denver, but now Sen. Udall has announced he will not appear with the president either," said Alex Siciliano, spokesman for congressman Cory Gardner, Udall's Republican challenger. "Sen. Udall's message to the president is clear: help me rake in campaign cash behind closed doors, keep the media from capturing photos of us together and avoid real Coloradans at all costs."

Yes, everyone HATES Obama. We know.

Yes, everyone HATES Obama. We had not heard that recently.

​​To some extent, Sen. Mark Udall earned the extra bit of scrutiny over relations with President Obama when he bungled the response to questions about whether Obama would be a good choice to campaign with in January. That said, the speculation about whether Udall would fundraise with Obama was always silly in our view, because even with approval ratings for President Obama a little underwater, he's still quite valuable to Democrats for motivating the party's base. Obama's "toxicity" is, more than anyone in either the GOP or the media wants to admit today, a myth of hyped partisan predisposition–and outside a conservative core that will never vote for Democrats anyway, its existence should not be presumed. The last time it was, in 2012, the mythmakers were proven wrong.

And in the case of Obama's visit to Colorado this week, there's actually a simple and entirely reasonable explanation for why Udall won't be on hand until later in the day on Wednesday:

Udall has votes to take on Tuesday in the Senate and will catch a morning flight to Denver on Wednesday. [Pols emphasis]

"We're happy to have [President Obama,]" Udall campaign spokesman Chris Harris told 9NEWS. "I think too much has been placed on the minutiae here."

Think about this, folks: if Udall had flown home early to appear with President Obama in Cheesman Park Wednesday, Cory Gardner's surrogates would have a field day with Udall "skipping votes to campaign." But with Sen. Udall staying in Washington to cast his votes Tuesday, which most constituents would agree is the better decision, he's "avoiding President Obama!" If you're starting to think that no matter what Udall does, Republicans will find a way to claim it portends disaster, you may be closest to the truth.

We realize that won't even slow our local talk radio hosts down, but somebody needed to say it.

Udall Publicly Flaunts Ties To President Obama

President Barack Obama, with close ally Satan (right).

President Barack Obama, with close ally Satan (right).

FOX 31's Eli Stokols reports, Sen. Mark Udall's sordid dealings with the Obamanation continue:

Colorado Sen. Mark Udall, the vulnerable Democrat who couldn’t answer a reporter’s question back in January as to whether he’d want to campaign with President Obama, is now raffling off a ticket to his fundraiser here with the president next month.

“I’m grateful for President Obama’s support in this U.S. Senate race, and I’m looking forward to bringing him out to Colorado for a campaign event. But I’m especially excited to introduce him to you,” Udall’s letter to supporters says. [Pols emphasis]

The raffle comes in the way of email pitch to supporters, asking for a $5 contribution on the final day of the current fundraising cycle to possibly win a chance to meet Obama, take a photo with him and join a number of other high-dollar donors for lunch.

Republicans are incredulous once again. Obamacare! Benghazi! The Game of Thrones season finale!

“We knew Mark Udall was out of touch with Coloradans, but his full-throated embrace of President Obama is another example of a strategic misstep by his struggling campaign,” said Matt Connelly, the Colorado GOP’s press secretary.

To summarize, Mark Udall is damned if he does campaign with President Barack Obama–and he's damned if he doesn't! It's possible the real lesson here is that Republican press secretaries aren't paid to have nice things to say about Democrats, but who wants to read a story with that title? The truth is, this midterm election is a contest of who can motivate their base voters to turn out. And as we have consistently said while the daily news cycle ebbs and flows, Obama helps for that. Whatever the opinion polls show today, this is a state that Obama has carried both times he's been on the ballot. There are plenty of Democrats and independents in Colorado who have not been carefully taught over a period of years to hate the President of the United States to their last dying breath.

This seems obvious to us, but the point gets lost a lot these days.

Supreme Court Issues Ruling on Hobby Lobby Case

UPDATE: Colorado politicians are busy giving their opinions on the ruling. The best line we've seen thus far is from Democrat Andrew Romanoff, whose statement begins, "Five men made the wrong call for millions of women."

—–

From CNN:

The Supreme Court ruled Monday that closely held companies cannot be required to pay to cover some types of contraceptives for their employees, ending its term with a narrow legal and political setback for a controversial part of President Barack Obama's health care reform law.

In a 5-4 decision, the high court's conservatives essentially ruled that some for-profit corporations have religious rights.

The owners of Hobby Lobby, furniture maker Conestoga Wood Specialties and Christian bookseller Mardel argued that the Affordable Care Act violates the First Amendment and other federal laws protecting religious freedom because it requires them to provide coverage for contraceptives like the "morning-after pill," which the companies consider tantamount to abortion.

We'll leave it to others to discuss the legal implications of today's highly-anticipated decision from the Supreme Court. But from a Colorado politics perspective, this ruling could have a very real impact on the 2014 election.

Democratic Sen. Mark Udall was among the first Senators to respond to the decision publicly, saying via Twitter that contraceptive decisions should be between a woman and her doctor. Udall's campaign also immediately pointed to Republican Rep. Cory Gardner's history of supporting legislation to allow employers to deny contraceptive coverage to their employees. From a press release:

The Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby decision today, which Congressman Cory Gardner applauded, gives employers the right to terminate birth control coverage for their employees. The result is similar to two radical bills cosponsored by Gardner in 2011 and 2013. Gardner’s bills gave all employers the ability to strike any medication or procedure from their employees’ insurance plans based on their personal beliefs.

“Today the Supreme Court followed Congressman Cory Gardner’s lead in putting a woman’s boss in charge of her family planning decisions,” said Women for Udall director Kim Howard. “A woman should never have to ask her boss’ permission before choosing birth control.”

The Hobby Lobby decision allows Gardner's opponents another opportunity to bring up his record on contraception and abortion issues — a record Gardner has tried hard to re-imagine for Colorado voters.

Koch-sponsored “GenOpp” wants you to know about Udall’s “War on Youth”

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

You remember Creepy Uncle Sam, who symbolized all that was unknown and scary about the Affordable Care Act. Sam had a fun few weeks to try to frighten consumers out of signing up on the health exchanges. Uncle Sam was everywhere  – on your favorite cable news shows  and web pages. Then, as suddenly as he had popped in, he disappeared, after the ACA signup deadline was over.

Generation Opportunity, or GenOpp, the organization which sponsored the Uncle Sam ads, is still going strong, and working harder than ever to lure young people away from the Democratic fold. GenOpp's media arm is called FreetheFuture, and it is mostly funded by the Koch brothers, via GenOpp, through the Freedom Partners LLC, which has funneled five million dollars into it during 2013, according to an expose by Viveca Novak on OpenSecrets.org.

(more…)

Why the Hell Would You Do This?

WEDNESDAY UPDATE: MSNBC’s Steven Benen:

There’s an old adage that’s been around in politics for a long time: if you’re explaining, you’re losing. In this case, Gardner is still explaining his support for Personhood measures, which would ban abortion and many forms of birth control.

Unfortunately, though, the congressman’s explanation fails under minimal scrutiny.

It’s worth noting, of course, that Gardner’s health care rhetoric is plainly mistaken. The Affordable Care Act isn’t a “takeover” and it’s obviously not a “disaster.” The system is actually working quite well, as federal lawmakers should probably realize.

But far more important in this instance is Gardner’s Personhood claim. In the ad, he faces the camera, looks voters in the eye, and makes claims that simply aren’t true.

The congressman, for example, claims he’s “changed his mind about Personhood.” In reality, Gardner has announced, “In the state of Colorado, the Personhood Initiative I do not support.” But in Washington, Gardner is still, as of this morning, a co-sponsor of federal Personhood legislation. [Pols emphasis]

—–

UPDATE: The other shoe drops–Cory Gardner’s latest TV spot candidly admits to flip-flopping on the Personhood abortion ban. Truly remarkable, and not in a good way:

Why is Gardner taking this desperate step? Because he has no choice. His original hope that flip-flopping on the Personhood abortion ban right out of the gate would bury the issue has not worked out.

And now Gardner is trapped in his opponent’s frame.

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Cory Gardner's Personhood twist

Cory Gardner demonstrates The Personhood Pretzel

It's no secret that Rep. Cory Gardner has a problem with the Personhood issue. Gardner's campaign for U.S. Senate has recognized the trouble with being associated with such an unpopular policy idea — one that has been repeatedly crushed at the polls in Colorado — which is why they made the surprise move in March to announce that Gardner has flipped (sort of) on his support for Personhood. Unfortunately for Gardner, trying to remove the Personhood label has proved much more difficult.

We've argued that it didn't make a lot of political sense for Gardner to flip-flop on Personhood, and indeed, he's twisted himself into a knot trying to explain the convoluted logic behind his decision (including the far-from-believable claim that he "didn't realize" Personhood would ban birth control). Democrats and Sen. Mark Udall have hit Gardner hard on his Personhood support and subsequent flip-flop, and now — for some inexplicable reason — Republicans are drawing attention to the fact that Gardner is still being hammered over Personhood. From Eli Stokols at Fox 31:

Colorado Republicans are slamming Democratic U.S. Mark Udall for going negative in a new campaign ad — before the ad has been introduced by Udall’s campaign.

The second ad from Udall’s campaign focuses on the same line of attack as its first: hitting Gardner for supporting personhood (he has since disavowed the statewide ballot measure language but not the overall concept) and for co-sponsoring legislation as a state lawmaker that would have made abortion a crime even in cases of rape or incest…

…Based on an initial review of the new Udall ad, none of the claims therein appear to factually untrue. [Pols emphasis]

What is the point of doing this? Why would Republicans intentionally want to draw more attention to Gardner's Personhood problem? How does it help them to get this story on Fox 31 to tell people about the ad even before it runs? Hey, just in case you weren't watching, Mark Udall is going to hammer Cory Gardner on Personhood again!

Obama Coming To Help Udall (Cue Talk Radio Freakout)

President Barack Obama, with close ally Satan (right).

President Barack Obama, with close ally Satan (right).

The Hill reports–it's true what you've heard! The Obamanation himself–coming to Colorado to help Sen. Mark Udall! What could it mean? Will they sacrifice babies and kittens to Allah? Will they stop your children from reciting the Pledge of Allegiance, and/or take away their salty, sugary snacks which is just as bad? Will they singlehandedly raise the gas prices at your local station and force you to buy solar panels? Will they, horror of horrors…cancel your health insurance?

How could Mark Udall do this? After all, didn't he "refuse to answer" if he would campaign with the President back in January? Conservative blog Colorado Peak Politics is incredulous, folks. Isn't the President still less popular than a root canal administered by Paris Hilton?

Udall is in a tough reelection fight with Rep. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), who made the swing state competitive for Republicans when he jumped in the race earlier this year. 

Most polling of the race has shown Udall only slightly ahead of Gardner.

Obama’s visit to Colorado is unusual for him. He’s largely stayed away from senators due to his persistently low popularity in most of the most competitive states this election cycle…

Obama and Lady Liberty.

Obama and Lady Liberty.

Never mind that the Republican-controlled Congress' popularity, from which Udall's opponent is campaigning against him, is far worse! The conventional wisdom, as validated by savvy "independent" pundits who watch FOX News in the daytime when the good stuff is on, is that the absolute last thing Sen. Udall possibly needs today is face time with President Barack Obama. But despite the pundit-validated and thoroughly groupthinked consensus on the matter, The Hill notes correctly:

[T]the president did win the state twice, and Udall appears unfazed by the likely attacks from Republicans surrounding his visit. Indeed, he’s already had Vice President Biden in the state to headline a fundraiser for him. [Pols emphasis]

Hey wait, that's not what Mike Rosen says at all!

You may have heard, as in every day lately, that President Obama's approval ratings are not the very best right now–and that the conservative news media has more budding "scandals" to grouse about than since…well, since the last Democratic President was six years into his term. But despite the rock-solid belief on the talk radio right that the Benghazi/Obamacare/VA/Bergdahl drumbeat is just a few news cycles from sending the President back to Kenya where he belongs, there are plenty of Coloradans ready to welcome Obama back to a state he carried in the last two presidential elections–even hoping he comes, with some choice words for his detractors.

And that appears to include Sen. Mark Udall. Please adjust your conventional wisdom accordingly.

BREAKING: Udall First Democratic Senator to Call for Shinseki to Resign

Mark Udall calls for Eric Shinseki to resign

Sen. Mark Udall (D)

Senator Mark Udall today called for the resignation of Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki. From the Associated Press:

Udall becomes the first Democratic senator to make such a demand in the ongoing scandal over VA medical care. He made his statement Wednesday on Twitter after the release of an internal report that found the VA systemically delayed care to wounded veterans and manipulated records to cover it up.

The VA's inspector general is investigating 42 VA facilities across the country. It found the average wait time for care at the Phoenix VA hospital was 115 days.

In his tweet Udall said, quote, "In light of IG report & systemic issues" Shinseki should step down.

As the first Democratic Senator to call for Shinseki's resignation, Udall will no doubt be accused of election year grandstanding by Republicans. But Udall's record as an independent voice on the powerful Armed Services Committee makes it much more difficult for critics to go after him here. From leading the way among Democratic Senators on issues such as the NSA spying controversy, Udall has established a pattern of thoughtful oversight on military issues that should only help him in November.

“Lose By Winning”–The Colorado GOP’s Long-Term Dilemma

The Republican base (increasingly to scale).

The Republican base (increasingly to scale).

A great analytical piece from Politico's Todd Purdum this weekend makes points that observers of Colorado politics should keep in mind, and have been borne out by Colorado's recent political history as we'll explain:

It’s the predominant paradox of contemporary American politics: If Republicans prevail in this year’s midterm congressional elections, it will be because of their party’s sharp-edged stances on topics like abortion and Benghazi, Obamacare and immigration, gay marriage and the minimum wage — issues that energize the GOP’s core base of support.

But if Republicans lose the race for the White House in 2016, it will be because of their party’s polarizing, out-of-step stances on those very same issues, which alienate much of the broader electorate the GOP needs to win a national contest in a country whose demographics and political realities are shifting under its feet…

“The Republican Party has essentially now two wings: a congressional wing and the national wing,” the veteran GOP pollster Bill McInturff said at a recent Pew Research Center forum on so-called millennial voters, those from 18 to 29 years of age. The congressional wing is thriving, especially in the South, in districts that are 75 percent, or even 80 percent, white, and where every incumbent’s worst fear is a challenge from the right.

…On questions like climate change and gay marriage, pollster McInturff said, younger voters no longer believe there is anything to argue about. He summed up their views as: “‘We wouldn’t fight about that. That’s just presumed to be true.’” [Pols emphasis]

Thomas Mann, the veteran political scientist and Congress-watcher at the Brookings Institution, said that, at the moment, the Republicans are “simply not a presidential party.”

In Colorado, the 2010 "GOP wave" election is generally reckoned to have been a "modest" defeat for the Republican Party. Democrats easily won a gubernatorial race in which the Republican frontrunner self-destructed, and won a narrow victory in a top-tier U.S. Senate race against a candidate whose backward views on social issues rendered him unpalatable to independent and women voters. The state didn't completely escape the effects of historic Republican victories across the nation in 2010, with the GOP picking up two congressional seats, winning the statewide races for Attorney General, Treasurer, and Secretary of State, and the Colorado House flipping to the GOP by a single extremely narrow win in the northwest Denver suburbs. But the overall result was well short of what Republicans had expected the summer before.

In 2012, Democrats in Colorado ran the table on Election Night, sweeping GOP House Speaker Frank McNulty from power in the state House and delivering the state to Barack Obama by a comfortable margin. Going into the 2014 midterms, we see the same pressure on Colorado Democrats to turn out their base voters and swing independents that was evident in the midterm elections of 2010. The question is, can Colorado Democrats minimize the impact of this midterm "wave" as they did in the last midterm election?

The answer is very logically yes, and as the story above explains, it's because the overarching demographics driving this whole midterm/presidential year dichotomy inexorably favor Democrats. One of the biggest reasons the Republican Party has lurched so far to the right since the election of Barack Obama is that, as this changing American electorate begins to decide elections, the biggest constituency Republicans have left to appeal to is the out-of-the-mainstream fringe right wing. Republicans were fully willing to embrace the "Tea Party" to win in 2010. There was a powerful short-term advantage in appealing to this segment of the electorate, in that they are extremely reliable and passionate voters. There is a tremendous enthusiasm gap between such voters, who vote in greater numbers in every kind of election, and the much larger body of voters who turn out once every four years. We're certainly not the only ones who have said this, but we've been saying it for years: 2010 wasn't about who voted, it was about who didn't vote.

And we could say the same thing about John Morse's recall. Or the Jefferson County school board.

The markedly different electorates who decide midterm and off-year vs. presidential elections can result in head-snapping results from one election to the next. Just as one example, the Jefferson County voters who turned out to re-elect Barack Obama in 2012 would never have voted in the radical conservative school board majority now causing street protests the following year. If this seems like an obvious point to you, that's great, but most voters simply don't understand these differences–and as a result, fringe minority electorates are assumed to be representative.

In 2010, Colorado Democrats used exactly what appeals to these ardent conservative voters against Republicans with the broader presidential-year electorate–and by effectively driving home the message of GOP extremism, incompetence, and moral turpitude, they turned out just enough of the 2008 electorate to break the "GOP wave." Colorado Democrats have the same challenge in 2014, but they also have the same opportunity: a rich body of material to use against Republican candidates at every level, from Cory Gardner to Victor Head.

And each year, as the changing electorate chips away at the GOP's narrowing coalition, it gets easier.