Big Government Republicans go on Offense in Springs

 

Everyone, well, except their own constituents, knows the Republican claim to be against Big Government is a well-planned and executed lie. They're really against any kind of big government that helps the Middle Class, that helps democratize our economy, our civil rights, our infrastructure, or our education system in any way. When it comes to going to war, spying on Americans (tho Obama does get several demerits for this, too), tax breaks for America's largest, most polluting and most profitable industries and corporations it can't ever be big enough.

What with the still-flaccid economy (thanks to their obstructionist brethren in DC), and a bipartisan set of budget cuts to everything, Republicans in Colorado Springs and El Paso County have gone on the offense to maintain our vast military and the local economy's reliance on Big Government, Military Industrial-strength spending:

While Colorado Springs Mayor Steve Bach and El Paso County Commissioner Amy Lathen may be warring (ha ha, funny.-ed.) over stormwater back home and plotting each other's defeat in next year's mayoral race, they were pulling together at the capital. And while they may be rooting against Gov. John Hickenlooper in the November election, they were working closely with his military team.

Who knew Hick had a military team? 

At stake are as many as 16,000 soldiers and hundreds of airmen who could be cut as part of a Pentagon plan to carve $900 billion from its budget over a decade. The pitch, made to military leaders Tuesday, is that Colorado Springs is a great town that loves its troops and keeping them in the shadow of Pikes Peak makes America safer.

"We are at risk," Bach said. "Everything is on the table."

Exactly as it should be in, ummmm, war. With just the right amount of fear mongering.

The delegation of 13 Pikes Peak region business and community leaders is spending three days in the capital where they plan to lean on Colorado congressional staff member and other key leaders to stave off the cuts. With a new war growing against the Islamic State group, they may find a receptive audience.

Lindsey Graham and John McCain: Mission Accomplished

The prospect of huge losses has energized state and local leaders. The General Assembly this year approved cash for an economic impact study of the military in Colorado and for a lobbying campaign.

The Regional Business Alliance and other local organizations have redoubled their lobbying for military money. In August, the business alliance gathered signatures on 3,600 postcards from locals pledging support for Fort Carson and its soldiers.

County Commissioner Peggy Littleton said a bigger effort is forthcoming. She's pushing for all 64 counties in Colorado to pass resolutions supporting the military.

That much bipartisanship would probably kill me. But just think if we were of one voice in supporting students, our aging bridges, local arts and cultural foundations rather than America's Mighty War Machine? Our economy, and its citizens, would boom. (Ooops, bad analogy.-ed.)

One issue that Air Force leaders told them must be addressed is stormwater, a longtime issue of contention in El Paso County that affects area bases. While military leaders won't endorse a measure on November's ballot to address regional stormwater needs, they said they want the problem addressed, said Andy Merritt, who oversees military issues for the business alliance.

"They want it fixed," Merritt said.

Great. Something Springs's leaders have been struggling with for years, something the anti-tax, Doug-Bruce-iopaths have taken to court, just needs the a-ok from a General officer or two. That Manitou Springs could be washed away any day isn't reason enough to fix this massive problem. Well, they are a bunch of liberal pot smokers anyway. 

Mark Volcheff, vice chairman of the alliance's Military Affairs Council and a retired Air Force major general, said Pentagon leaders won't hesitate to make deep cuts if Congress doesn't come up with more cash for the military.

We can only hope. And Ike must be spinning in his grave.

The interstate highway system has done more for our nation, for far less of an investment, than all the DoD contracts combined have done to stamp out religious extremism around the world. It's too bad we can't see the forest for the trees on this issue. And more napalm to burn it all down won't help in the way those same efforts and investments would help if the money went to bridges, schools and hospitals here rather than blowing those same things up overseas.

(That last sentence needs rewrite!-ed.)

BREAKING: Cory Gardner Has His Own Ken Buck/”Meet the Press” Moment

UPDATE #3: The full interview is now available on Fox 31's website.

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UPDATE #2: Watch Cory Gardner's complete refusal to back up dubious claims about his "cancelled" insurance policy:

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UPDATE: Watch the full devastating exchange between Eli Stokols and Cory Gardner on contraception and abortion rights:

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Cory Gardner FAIL

Rep. Cory Gardner, left, talking to Fox 31 reporter Eli Stokols.

In mid-October 2010, Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet and Republican challenger Ken Buck had a nationally-televised Sunday "debate" on "Meet the Press" — an appearance that proved disastrous for Buck's campaign.

Did history just repeat itself?

Republican Senate candidate Cory Gardner appeared Sunday morning on Fox 31's #COPolitics interview show with Eli Stokols, and while he wasn't quite as awful as Buck on that fateful day in 2010…Gardner was bad enough that he may have just mortally wounded his campaign. We'll update this post with a link to the interview as soon as the video is available online, but here's what everyone will be talking about this week (and beyond):

Gardner was asked repeatedly by Stokols to clarify his story surrounding his family's health care coverage (a story sparked by Gardner waving his family's insurance letter at a hearing in front of then-Secretary of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius) and refused to provide details even after several questions from Stokols. Gardner has faced questions before about his pre-Obamacare health care coverage, but in front of Stokols he squirmed, dodged, and tried to attack Sen. Mark Udall whenever he was asked for more information. Stokols noted that Fox 31 asked earlier this summer for copies of Gardner's pay-stubs to prove the Congressman's claims that he had no other health insurance other than his mystery $650-per month family health coverage; when pressed about why his office would not provide that information, Gardner went back to attacking Udall.

It would have been difficult for Gardner to have looked less believable in his responses. We'd guess there will be more than one reporter who starts taking a new look at Gardner's insurance claims after this debacle.

Gardner also dug himself deeper (who would have thought that possible?) on his flip-flopping on the Personhood issue. At one point in the interview, Gardner says, "There is no Federal Personhood bill. There is no Federal Personhood bill." Stokols eventually responds by asking Gardner if he really thinks he can make the issue go away by just saying "there is no Federal Personhood bill," to which a flustered Gardner has no response. Gardner later takes his Personhood lie even further by stating, "I do not support legislation that would ban birth control — that's crazy."

The entire interview is really a doozy. Stokols, to his credit, tries very hard to get clear answers to straightforward questions, while Gardner tries very hard to do anything other than answer those questions; to anyone watching, it is very clear what is happening. Clips of this interview will no doubt be looped repeatedly from now until November.

Big Line Updates: Democrats Appear to Have Slight Advantage

As Election Day gets closer and closer, we're updating The Big Line on a weekly basis. Remember: Percentages listed indicate our view of the win/loss outcome only (we are not attempting to guess margin of victory).

You can always access the full Big Line 2014, but below we provide a bit more detail about our thoughts on various races.
 

U.S. SENATE
Mark Udall (62%)
Cory Gardner (38%)
Senator Mark Udall has seen his momentum slow down of late, but that probably has more to do with the natural tightening of this race as October draws near. Public polling in Colorado has become about as reliable as a Ouija Board, though if the final outcome is within the general margin of error of most voter surveys, the data is largely irrelevant anyway. For Congressman Cory Gardner, the one thing that has yet to change remains his biggest problem: He just has too many bad votes on too many important issues. Gardner's campaign also seems to have no idea how to go after Udall effectively; they've been changing tactics like the rest of us change socks.

When all is said and done (or insert cliche of your choice), we always come back to the same question: If you had to gamble everything you had on predicting the winner of this race, would you really choose Gardner?

Neither would we.

 

GOVERNOR
John Hickenlooper (60%)
Bob Beauprez (40%)

This race continues to be one of the stranger contests we can remember because of its relatively low profile. Republican Bob Beauprez hasn't run a particularly strong, or interesting, campaign thus far — but perhaps it's enough to ask that his campaign doesn't crater as completely as it did in 2006. Governor John Hickenlooper, meanwhile, has been largely invisible for the last few months. No matter how you look at the race, it's hard to envision Beauprez actually ending up in the Governor's Mansion.

 

ATTORNEY GENERAL
Cynthia Coffman (51%)
Don Quick (49%)
We've had Quick at the top of the Line for a very long time, so what's different? Nothing, really. In fact, it will be hard (post-election) to explain the outcome of this race no matter what happens in November. If this race were taking place in a bubble, we'd give the edge to Quick. But if Democrats win seats for Senate and Governor, history suggests that voters will split their ballot and pick Republicans for other statewide spots.

 

CD-6
Andrew Romanoff (55%)
Mike Coffman (45%)
There may still be a "Coffman" in elected office come January; for the first time in 25 years, we don't think it will be Mike. In their third debate of the campaign, Democrat Andrew Romanoff completely demolished Congressman Mike Coffman. One debate does not a campaign make (or something like that), but the momentum in this race is unmistakably on the side of Romanoff. Coffman's campaign has been insisting that their guy is ahead in internal polling numbers — just don't ask for proof.


Check out the full Big Line 2014 or comment below.

 

New Gardner Ad Critical of Udall Family Ties (VIDEO)

We've talked many times in this space about Republican Congressman Cory Gardner's campaign for U.S. Senate and their obvious confusion about finding the right message for attacking Sen. Mark Udall.

Apparently Gardner is still looking for that message. In his latest ad, revealed today, Gardner goes after Udall for having the audacity to have family members involved in politics. Here's what Gardner says about the Udall family, which you can watch for yourself below (after the jump):

CORY GARDNER: [Mark Udall] is the Senate. 18 years in politics, and he's got two cousins who are Senators, too. Mark Udall's dad even ran for President.

Gardner goes on to talk about how his father and grandfather both sell tractors, which is a "you think you're better than me?" message that might appeal to a Republican base but probably won't do much to excite the rest of Colorado voters. The timing of Gardner's ad is interesting as well; on Monday, Arizona Sen. John McCain said that he would not campaign against Udall because of a long history with both Mark and his father, "Mo" Udall

Oh, and about those Udall cousins in the Senate? Sen. Tom Udall is a Democrat from New Mexico, and Sen. Mike Lee is a REPUBLICAN from Utah. Mike Lee was elected to the U.S. Senate in 2010 after a surprise defeat of longtime incumbent Republican Sen. Bob Bennett.

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Frantic Republicans Try Really Weird Pivot on Women’s Issues

Laura Carno

Laura Carno

It's no secret that Republicans in Colorado have been having a heck of a time trying to convince women to vote for them in recent years. In 2010, Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet defeated Republican challenger Ken Buck thanks primarily to strong support from female voters (assisted by Buck's tone-deafness around women's issues). In 2014, Republican candidates such as Bob Beauprez, Cory Gardner, and Mike Coffman are facing similar electoral conundrums when it comes to appeasing their right wing base and trying to attract the support of moderate women in Colorado.

Republicans have yet to figure out how to deal with their problem of (not) appealing to female voters — and make no mistake about the size of the problem. As noted on Colorado Pols today, Beauprez is on the record in a very Todd Akin-like manner on abortion, declaring that he believes abortion should be outlawed with no exceptions for rape or incest. Both Cory Gardner and Mike Coffman are rowing the same boat.

If you are a Republican, how do you reach out to women voters while your candidates are simultaneously making them cringe? When all else fails, apparently, you do your best to tell women that these issues don't really matter anyway. Check out this guest commentary from the Denver Post over the weekend in which Republican activist/consultant Laura Carno sacrifices the interests of the GOP base at the altar of election-year panic:

Since the 1973 landmark Supreme Court decision, Roe vs. Wade has "survived" the pro-life presidencies of Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush and George W. Bush

…a deafening barrage of political commercials is now telling women their reproductive rights are in danger. Let's be clear: They aren't. [Pols emphasis]

In other words, don't worry about Bob Beauprez's far-right view on abortion because Republicans can't or won't change the law anyway.

“Ta-da!”

Lest you think these are the words of a lone wolf activist, you should know that Carno is the founder of an organization called "I Am Created Equal," which lists among the members of its "Advisory Board" — wait for it — Bob Beauprez himself.

You can't make this stuff up.

Carno's guest commentary is incredibly enlightening in offering a peak at Republican strategic thinking on the even of the election. Clearly, the GOP has no idea how to deal with their "women voters" problem, which is never going to go away until Republican candidates stop taking positions that are offensive to female voters.

Without putting forth more moderate candidates, this is certainly a difficult conundrum for Republican strategists to ponder. But we dare say that Carno's messaging isn't helpful for a lot of reasons.

For one thing, there are plenty of right-wing Republicans waiting in the wings who will use this message to defeat moderate Republicans in future Primary Elections.

And then there is this closing argument from Carno, which takes us full-circle back to the original problem:

The option for a woman to choose a legal abortion is only one issue out of many. And since that option is not likely in jeopardy, look at the other choices that are important to you and your family, including health care, take-home pay and your family's safety.

Why would you bring up "take-home pay" for women when politicians such as Rep. Mike Coffman have voted again and again and again to deny legislation that would ensure equal pay for women? Why would you bring up equal pay for women when Democratic Sen. Mark Udall is the co-sponsor of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, and your Republican candidate for Governor (Beauprez) is on the record in opposition?

See, female voters shouldn't just worry about issues like abortion, because Republican candidates are just as bad on fair pay for women!

Carno is trying really hard here to discount the idea of a "War on Women," while at the very same time demonstrating that Republicans wouldn't be fighting for women if such a war did exist. (Not) well played.

 

Gubernatorial, Senate, CD3 Debates Oct 2-9 in Pueblo

Save the dates for debates:

Governor Candidate Debate (Hickenlooper vs. Beauprez)

Thursday,October 2, 7 PM


CD3 Representative Debate (Tapia vs. Tipton) 
Tuesday, October 7, 6 PM


US Senate Debate (Udall vs. Gardner) 
Thursday, October 9, 7 PM

All forums to be held at Pueblo Memorial Hall 
1 City Hall Pl, Pueblo, CO 81003
(866) 722-8844

 

Sponsored by Action22 and the Pueblo Chieftain

 


Quinnipiac Senate Poll: Ah, Nevermind

Jumping the polling shark

Meanwhile, over at Quinnipiac University…

The big news in Colorado politics yesterday was the release of a Quinnipiac University poll on the Governor's race showing — rather unbelievably, really — Republican Bob Beauprez leading Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper by an astounding 10-point margin. Quinnipiac's findings were roundly dismissed by political and polling experts around the country, and perhaps rightly so, given that no other publicly-available polls have ever indicated anything even remotely similar in the Governor's race.

So it was that today Quinnipiac released results from its polling of the U.S. Senate race, and guess what? According to Quinnipiac, Republican Congressman Cory Gardner is leading Democratic Sen. Mark Udall by a not-at-all-believable 8 points. As the Mark Matthews of the Denver Post explains:

The survey of more than 1,200 likely Colorado voters favored Gardner 48 to 40 percent to the incumbent Udall, with independent, or unaffiliated, candidate Steve Shogan taking home 8 percent

Quinnipiac's findings depart significantly from a Denver Post poll conducted last week that found Udall leading Gardner by 4 percentage points.

Similarly, Gardner's biggest advantage over Udall before the latest Quinnipiac results was 2 percentage points, according to a tally of more than dozen polls of both likely and registered voters recorded by Real Clear Politics. Other recent polls have shown the Udall and Gardner in a statistical tie or even a Udall advantage.

There is absolutely no political "spin" required in response to this poll, because the explanation is pretty simple: if Quinnipiac is correct, then every other polling outfit in the country has been wrong. Just in case you are still conflicted about the answer to the previous question, consider this nugget from The Post:

Prior to Wednesday's release, Beauprez biggest lead was 1 percentage point, even among other polls of likely voters. Most recent polls have shown the two gubernatorial candidates within the margin of error.

In both of its polls this week, Quinnipiac relied on the same 1,211 likely Colorado voters contacted between Sept. 10 and Sept. 15. [Pols emphasis]

Now, we're no polling experts here at Colorado Pols, but if the same group of respondents are giving you the same outlier answers on the race for Governor and U.S. Senate, it's a good bet that your sample is screwed up. If that isn't evidence enough for you, consider this: Quinnipiac has Independent candidate Steve Shogan picking up enough support for 8 percent of the vote. To understand the silliness of that result, consider that in 2010, there was no Independent candidate for Governor or U.S. Senate who received even 1 percent of the vote. Obviously there are a bunch of undecided voters in the Senate race, which is no surprise, but it's completely absurd to postulate that an Independent candidate is nearing 10% of the vote in Colorado.

You can go ahead and ignore the Quinnipiac polling results from this week — and probably for the rest of the 2014 election cycle. Consider this shark officially jumped.

Election Models Show Huge Momentum for Udall

Udall-Gardner-Race

Sen. Mark Udall appears to be pulling away from Rep. Cory Gardner (as well as Lincoln and…Jefferson?)

Big news this morning from our friends at the Washington Post blog "The Fix"

Democrats are now (very slightly) favored to hold the Senate majority on Nov. 4, according to Election Lab, the Post's statistical model of the 2014 midterm elections.

Election Lab puts Democrats' chances of retaining their majority at 51 percent —  a huge change from even a few months ago when the model predicted that Republicans had a better than 80 percent chance of winning the six seats they need to take control. (Worth noting: When the model showed Republicans as overwhelming favorites, our model builders — led by George Washington University's John Sides — warned that the model could and would change as more actual polling — as opposed to historical projections — played a larger and larger role in the calculations. And, in Republicans' defense, no one I talked to ever thought they had an 80 percent chance of winning the majority.)

So, what exactly has changed to move the Election Lab projection? Three big things:

* Colorado: On August 27 — the last time I wrote a big piece on the model — Election Lab said Sen. Mark Udall (D) had a 64 percent chance of winning. Today he has a 94 percent chance…[Pols emphasis]

…Nate Silver's FiveThirtyEight model now has Republican chances of winning the Senate at 55 percent, down from 64 percent 12 days ago. "The two states with the largest shifts have been Colorado and North Carolina — in both cases, the movement has been in Democrats’ direction," writes Silver. "That accounts for most of the difference in the forecast."

The extent to which Sen. Mark Udall appears to be pulling away from Republican Rep. Cory Gardner is a bit surprising, though we've been saying for weeks that Udall has all the momentum in this race; last week we increased Udall's odds of winning to 65% in our latest election "model" (The Big Line) . This new prediction about the Colorado Senate race is also not an outlier compared to recent news reports; late last week national media outlets were noting that Udall's campaign was starting to pull away from Gardner. As we wrote back in August, Gardner's campaign has been throwing all sorts of different messages at the wall in hopes of getting something to stick — a lack of direction that usually indicates a campaign that is neither comfortable nor confident in its approach this late in the game.

What do Female Voters REALLY Care About? The Keystone Pipeline!

Pipelines for Women

According to the GOP, female voters are really interested in the Keystone Pipeline. Also, they want to hear candidates talk about car engines and fantasy football.

Further underscoring the news that Sen. Mark Udall appears to be pulling away from Rep. Cory Gardner in the race for the U.S. Senate is this ridiculous new TV ad from Karl Rove's Crossroads GPS group that attempts — and fails — to divert the narrative that Udall is a better choice than Gardner for Colorado women. From Greg Sargent at the Washington Post:

The ad never mentions Personhood or contraception. Instead, it obliquely refers to Dem attacks as “political scare tactics,” even as the featured women declare they want “a real conversation about issues that matter,” such as the economy. But, as Rebecca Berg writes, this ad actually “underscores the challenge Republicans have faced this year appealing to women voters.”

Now, it’s true that the economy is the top concern. But it’s obvious the Personhood movement (which declares that full human rights begin at the moment of fertilization) has, in fact, dogged Gardner. Last spring he disavowed his support for a previous state Personhood effort, admitting it “restricts contraception.” But Dems have pointed out that Gardner still supports a federal Personhood measure that would raise the same possibility of restrictions to some forms of contraception. Gardner has tried coming out for over-the-counter contraception, but he currently trails Dem Senator Mark Udall by double digits among women.

This new ad, which you can view after the jump, is a desperate attempt to change the subject from issues like Personhood and contraception that are absolutely burying Gardner's campaign. For just one example of how women's issues are crippling Gardner, take a look at Shaun Boyd's fact check of a Gardner ad for CBS4 Denver that we discussed yesterday. As Boyd concluded in her story:

Finally, you should know that Gardner is sponsor of a federal Personhood measure that could outlaw many types of birth control including the pill. Bottom line, this isn't about birth control, it's about the female vote. Cory Gardner wants to be seen as pro-women, but his overall record on birth control is not the best example of that.

So, if you're Karl Rove and you want to help Gardner try to prevent a mass exodus of female voters, what do you do? Why, you talk about how Udall voted against the Keystone Pipeline, of course! The entire premise of the ad is absurd, to be sure, but the Keystone Pipeline reference is really the icing on this crappy cake; we see four women standing around a kitchen talking about the election, and we're supposed to believe that they are primarily concerned with Udall's vote on an oil pipeline that won't come anywhere near Colorado? Yeah, right.

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Big Line Updates: Udall, Romanoff Growing Lead

As Election Day gets closer and closer, we'll be updating The Big Line on a weekly basis.

Here's what we're currently thinking as to the main movers in the top races in Colorado:

U.S. SENATE
Mark Udall (65%)
Cory Gardner (35%)

We don't see either Udall or Gov. John Hickelooper losing in November, but for the first time, we have Udall as a slightly bigger favorite in his respective race. Gardner's campaign has been an absolute mess, and national politicos and reporters are coalescing around the idea that Udall is in the driver's seat now.

 

GOVERNOR
John Hickenlooper (60%)
Bob Beauprez (40%)

We have this race tightening a little as Gov. Hickenlooper works his way out of a summer-long campaign funk. For Beauprez, this comes down to a lack of time — too much needs to happen in the next 4-6 weeks for Beauprez to have a realistic shot at knocking off Hickenlooper.
 

ATTORNEY GENERAL, STATE TREASURER, SECRETARY OF STATE
Republican State Treasurer Walker Stapleton has not had a good month, but he's still favored to beat Democrat Betsy Markey. Meanwhile, we have the AG and SOS races as toss-ups at this point, primarily because it's difficult to determine whether any of the candidates can do much to control their own destiny; the amount of money pouring into the races for Senate, Governor, and CD-6 will make it nigh impossible for lower-tier statewide candidates to get their message out.
 

CD-6 (Aurora-ish)
Andrew Romanoff (55%)
Mike Coffman (45%)

We wrote earlier about our belief that Countdown Coffman is underway following incumbent Rep. Coffman's boorish behavior of late. We've been hearing consistent buzz that Romanoff has nudged ahead as Coffman seeks the momentum he needs to prevent a complete collapse.
 


Check out the full Big Line 2014 or comment below.

Wash Post: Dems Feel Good About Senate Races in IA, MI, and…Colorado

No really, trust me, says Cory Gardner

Personhood bill? Hey, look over there!

From our friends at "The Fix" comes an interesting new look at the Senate races around the country:

And so, before we ranked the twelve most competitive races in the fight for the Senate majority this fall, we chatted — via email — with a half dozen strategists in both parties to get their sense of which races are moving where. With a few exceptions, their impressions jibed — private polling rarely lies — and suggested that Republicans should feel good but not great about their chances of picking up the six seats they need to retake Senate control in November.

In pursuit of clarity, we've broken down their thoughts into three categories: 1) Races where Democrats feel good/Republicans don't 2) Races where Republicans feel good/Democrat's don't 3) Races where opinion is mixed.

In this reorganization of competitive Senate races, Colorado joins Iowa and Michigan as states where "Democrats feel good/Republicans don't" when it comes to November. Here's what "The Fix" says about Colorado specifically — which mirrors something we've been saying a lot lately:

10. Colorado (Democratic-controlled): Rep. Cory Gardner (R) is a talented politician. Unfortunately for him, some of the votes and positions – particularly on personhood – during his time in the House are being effectively used by Democrats as a cudgel against him with suburban Denver women. Those women, of course, also represent the swing constituency that a Republican must make inroads with to have a chance of winning statewide. (Previous ranking: 10)

Yes, Personhood is absolutely destroying Rep. Cory Gardner's campaign — and he has nobody to blame but himself. When Gardner tried to reverse his position on Personhood back in March, he did so with the hope that he could get this prickly issue out of the way to focus on other narratives. Not only did that experiment fail miserably, but Gardner has been chasing his tail trying to explain himself ever since. Things have gotten so bad that Gardner has been reduced to just flat-out lying about his co-sponsorship of a federal Personhood bill, telling 9News' Brandon Rittiman that "there is no federal Personhood bill." What is so fascinating here is Gardner's brazenness in insisting that the bill doesn't exist — even though it takes all of about 15 seconds to find it with a simple Google search; it takes some serious chutzpah to try to sell that shit sandwich (to a reporter, no less).

Some six months after Gardner tried to scrub himself of Personhood responsibility, the issue has become such a weight on his campaign that national reporters have picked up on the problem. So, that didn't work so well.

SurveyUSA/Denver Post: Udall 46%, Gardner 42%

Mark Udall, Cory Gardner.

Mark Udall, Cory Gardner.

New polling out today from SurveyUSA conducted for the Denver Post shows incumbent Sen. Mark Udall with a steady four-point lead over GOP challenger Cory Gardner. Lynn Bartels reports:

U.S. Sen. Mark Udall leads Republican challenger Cory Gardner by 4 percentage points in a new Denver Post poll that shows the Democratic incumbent is ahead among unaffiliated and female voters…

The race "could go either way" at this point, according to SurveyUSA, which conducted the poll this week for The Post. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.9 percentage points.

Udall received 46 percent support to Gardner's 42 percent in their high-stakes, high-dollar race that could determine which party controls the U.S. Senate after the Nov. 4 election.

The polling memo isn't available either at the Denver Post or SurveyUSA yet, but we'll provide a link once we see it. Udall's principal strength in this poll is no surprise, reports the Post, leading with women voters by some 13 points over Gardner. The poll indicates a much smaller lead for Udall among Hispanic voters, only showing him up by two points–a number we suspect is lowballed in Gardner's favor, or at least will be once the dust settles from President Barack Obama's recent announcement that no executive action on immigration would occur before the election. We tend to agree with analysis that suggests Obama's announcement, while upsetting to Hispanic voters, isn't enough to drive them into the arms of the GOP.

Bottom line: while nobody should get comfortable, this poll underscores a reassuring trend for Democrats in this marquee race.

We're headed down the stretch, and Mark Udall is holding his own.

Throwback Thursday: Jon Caldara and the Flood

One year ago today, the state of Colorado was besieged by massive flooding that impacted the Front Range after several weather fronts converged and trapped moisture over the area. Mountain towns were cut off from civilization as roads and bridges failed, forcing an historic helicopter airlift to evacuate stranded residents. After inundating most of the Front Range, floodwaters made their way out across the Eastern Plains, doing tremendous further damage to low-lying areas, infrastructure, and oil and gas drilling sites in Weld County.

As the drama of the 2013 Colorado floods played out, Boulder resident and Independence Institute head Jon Caldara had his own problems. Caldara had made headlines just before the floods when he registered as a Colorado Springs resident in order to vote in the SD-11 recall election. Caldara did this to make a supposed point about the new same-day voter registration law, part of election modernization legislation passed by the Democratic-led General Assembly that year. Far from demonstrating ease of voter fraud, however, Caldara had come up with an elaborate ruse to "prove" Colorado Springs residency, including a lease of a room in ex-GOP Rep. Mark Barker's house. It was clear from the start that Caldara did not and never intended to live in Colorado Springs, but his elaborate preparations for the stunt–which would make it prohibitively difficult to replicate–helped Caldara escape prosecution.

Without a doubt the 2013 floods were a tragedy, and even today political battles that invoke them are controversial. With that said, every time we hear an accusation that the floods are being "politicized," which we've heard a lot recently as the related issues of the flood and subsequent shutdown of the federal government have come up in the U.S. Senate race, our first thought is of Jon Caldara. And this is why:

Via his friend Wayne Laugesen of the Colorado Springs Gazette, Caldara invoked the floods as the "reason" why he was not moving to Colorado Springs to live in Mark Barker's guest bedroom. It was obvious a year ago this weekend, when we originally posted this item, that Caldara had never intended to live in Colorado Springs. But at the time of last year's floods, the investigation of Caldara for vote fraud was well underway. Although Caldara makes no pretenses now that he's not under investigation, at the time, this might well have fit into a legal strategy should he have needed to maintain his original pretense in court.

Really, folks, if you're in this guy's fan club, don't ever complain about "politicizing the floods" again.

Cosmo Endorses Mark Udall, Thanks to Personhood

Cory Gardner's Personhood twist

Cory Gardner does the Personhood Pretzel.

"Cosmopolitan" magazine on Tuesday announced that the magazine is endorsing Democratic Sen. Mark Udall for re-election to the U.S. Senate instead of Republican challenger Cory Gardner. The editors of Cosmo write that "Colorado's Senate race is crucial for women's health:"

One of the most important races for women's rights is happening in Colorado this year, between Senate incumbent Mark Udall and challenger Rep. Cory Gardner. Colorado is ground zero for anti-choice "personhood" laws, which seek to define fertilized eggs only a few cells large as people with rights equal to, and sometimes greater than, those of actual, born people. The laws wouldn't just outlaw abortion, but many forms of birth control and fertility treatments as well. While personhood initiatives have failed twice in Colorado and Gardner claims his views have changed, his name still appears on a proposed federal personhood law, [Pols emphasis] and even the president of Personhood USA says Gardner is just "playing politics" in this election, because he has "built his entire political career on support of personhood."…

…Mark Udall is a leader who stands up for Coloradans' rights and their health, not a reactionary who puts the rights of a fertilized egg over the rights of women. We are proud to endorse his candidacy.

This is the second time in two months that we have written about "Cosmopolitan" magazine and Colorado's Senate race. Critics can try to dismiss "Cosmopolitan's" endorsement and the effect it might have on the outcome of the race in November, but it's a stupid argument to attempt; Udall and his supporters will make sure that women see this endorsement, and in a state where female voters are critical, getting the approval of one of America's most iconic women's magazines is a big help indeed.

But here's the bigger point about this endorsement: Gardner's Personhood flip-flop is a mistake from which his campaign may never recover. One of the first major moves that Gardner made in his Senate campaign — which helped him earn the nickname "Con Man Cory" — was to publicly attempt to change his position on the Personhood issue. We thought this flip-flop was a terrible decision when Gardner made the move back in March, and as we sit here in mid-September, it is clear that he's never going to be able to get this particular albatross from around his neck. In fact, Gardner's own maneuvers on Personhood have done more to keep the issue at the top of voters' minds than anything Udall could have done himself. By flip-flopping on Personhood, Gardner made this into a bigger issue than it would have been.

If Gardner was never going to drop his name from a federal Personhood bill — of which he is a co-sponsor — then he should have just maintained his long-held support for the idea. It has not been lost on the media that Gardner remains a co-sponsor of the federal Personhood bill, even as he has made one ludicrous attempt after another to change the subject or to flat-out lie about it altogether. Gardner tried, for awhile, to claim that Colorado's Personhood ballot measures were different than the federal Personhood bill that carries his name, and when that didn't work, he changed tactics to just outright lying through his teeth. Witness 9News reporter Brandon Rittiman, who is not amused by Gardner's ridiculous claim last week that "there is no federal Personhood bill," or the Washington Post's Jaime Fuller, who wrote that Gardner "doesn't support his former self on this issue, either."

Over the course of his Senate campaign, the only thing that Gardner has truly shed in trying to ditch Personhood is his credibility — and that's a tough thing to get back once it's gone. After all, it's hard to support a candidate who doesn't support himself.

Udall Presses Attack On Gardner Over Floods, Shutdown

Image via Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-Golden)

Image via Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-Golden)

A press release from Sen. Mark Udall's campaign on their new TV spot hitting GOP challenger Cory Gardner over last year's shutdown of the federal government–which occurred just after major flooding along the Front Range of Colorado, requiring an emergency federal response. After several weeks of skirmishes on the issue, Udall takes the proverbial gloves off:

“Congressman Gardner would like us all to forget that he chose to shut down the government while thousands of Coloradans were struggling to put their lives back together after last year’s flood,” said Udall for Colorado spokesperson Kristin Lynch. “Gardner’s reckless shutdown delayed Colorado’s flood recovery and hurt our small businesses and local economies when they were at their most vulnerable. Congressman Gardner let us down when he decided to make a political point at the expense of Colorado flood victims.”

Despite Colorado’s clear need for disaster assistance from the federal government, Gardner voted along with Sen. Ted Cruz and the Tea Party to shut down the government just to prove a political point about the health care law. This delayed our flood recovery and forced Colorado to pick up the tab for National Guard personnel who were performing essential flood recovery work.

But Gardner’s reckless move hurt more than just flood victims. As the government shutdown continued for weeks and 40,000 Coloradans were furloughed, middle class families across the state felt the effect of Gardner’s shutdown on their pocketbooks. Shuttered national parks robbed small businesses of the tourism they depend on, veterans’ disability claims were delayed, and 2 million acres of public lands were closed to sportsmen from around the country during the busy fall season.

There are two parts to the story of the shutdown of the federal government in terms of consequences for Coloradans digging out from the massive floods that hit the Front Range just about exactly one year ago. First and most obvious is the delay in federal response to the flooding, which included delays in National Guard response from neighboring states. The second consequence was the effect the shutdown of Colorado's national parks and monuments had on local communities dependent on tourism. Estes Park, the gateway town to Rocky Mountain National Park, had already seen bookings cut by 50 percent after the floods, and the closure of the park drained millions more from the local economy.

Still another issue is the blowback against Colorado as a whole from East Coast politicians in both parties, including New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who branded Gardner a "hypocrite" for seeking disaster relief money for Colorado after voting against the second Hurricane Sandy relief bill. It was negotiations by Sen. Udall and Sen. Michael Bennet that were able in the end to mollify New Jersey's anger and secure the relief funds needed.

The harm done to Colorado by the post-flooding shutdown of the federal government is a matter of record. With that established, the question becomes, who was responsible for the shutdown? This is a point that Republicans refuse to concede a year later, even though the public overwhelmingly blamed the GOP in contemporary polling for forcing the shutdown in an effort to defund the Affordable Care Act. In the months since the shutdown, Republicans hoped to mitigate their culpability in that unpopular action by mercilessly attacking Obamacare–a strategy that is increasingly a failure as Obamacare continues to produce positive outcomes and the health insurance marketplace's startup problems fade from memory.

It's important to remember that until the polls started clearly showing that the GOP had lost the battle for public support, Gardner and the rest of the Colorado GOP delegation were solid backers of the confrontational strategy that ended in the shutdown. The AP's Nick Riccardi cut through the spin last month:

Gardner spokesman Alex Siciliano contended that congressman never supported the shutdown. However, Gardner, who is close to House Republican leadership, voted with other House Republicans to shoot down Democratic efforts to reopen government and for spending bills designed to be rejected by the U.S. Senate during the 16-day standoff. [Pols emphasis]

Gardner may not have been the most enthusiastic Republican as the shutdown loomed just before the beginning of October last year, perhaps sensing the danger–but the record is full of examples of Gardner defending the overall strategy. And as Riccardi notes, none of Gardner's supposed trepidation before the shutdown manifested in the form of votes.

With all of this in mind, it will be up to Colorado voters to decide whether the shutdown, and Gardner's role as a House Republican in causing it, are deciding factors in the 2014 U.S. Senate race. But what's not up for debate, as the polls demonstrate, is that the shutdown has gone down in history as a Republican gambit that failed. The old saying is that success has a thousand fathers, but failure is an orphan. Had the shutdown succeeded in forcing concessions from the President over Obamacare, Gardner would almost certainly be singing a different tune. But it didn't succeed. It was a disaster–in Colorado a disaster compounded on another.

And Gardner, whether he likes it or not, was on the wrong side.