Field Campaigns Win Elections

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AP's Nicholas Riccardi has an insightful story about the storied Democratic combined field campaign effort, swinging into action again this year as the polls in Colorado's marquee U.S Senate race look a lot like they did in 2010:

The relentless ground game to inspire voters to cast ballots has helped Democrats dominate Colorado under even the most difficult political circumstances. Four years ago, the strategy helped Sen. Michael Bennet’s come from behind to win re-election. Now Bennet is directing the Senate Democrats’ national campaign arm, testing whether a $60 million get-out-the-vote effort — named, “The Bannock Street Project,” for his old Denver campaign office — can do the same for Udall and other Democrats defending their Senate majority…

Colorado Republican Rep. Cory Gardner has led Udall in recent public polls. Bennet didn’t lead in a single public poll in 2010. [Pols emphasis] Udall’s campaign is modeled on Bennet’s — but with a get-out-the-vote operation three times larger. The incumbent may also benefit from Colorado’s new elections law, passed last year by its Democratic-controlled legislature over Republican objections, that sends mail-in ballots to all voters and allows citizens to register until Election Day.

There’s no guarantee Democrats will dominate on the ground this year. Republicans in Colorado and elsewhere in the nation have upped their focus on getting out the vote. But GOP and conservative opponents know the ground game remains a potent Democratic weapon.

In 2012, the Republican coordinated campaign had serious problems with a new integrated field campaign system called "ORCA," which resulted in widespread breakdowns in their get-out-the-vote operation. We've heard that at least some of the lessons from that failure have been learned by the GOP in time for 2014, but the fact remains that Democratic field campaign efforts have done this successfully over and over in Colorado. Democrats have a degree of experience with getting out the vote in Colorado that the right simply has no analog for in recent elections.

One big variable this year is the impact of the 2013 election modernization legislation, House Bill 13-1303, which resulted in both mail ballots being delivered to every registered voter and the ability to register and vote through Election Day. Consistent with past elections, Republicans are leading the early mail ballot returns. Democratic ballots will come in as they're canvassed, and historically Democrats dominate early voting. 

Just like in 2010, it's going to be very close. But Cory Gardner's steady three-point October lead in the U.S. Senate race, given 2010's experience, is nothing for Republicans to feel good about.

At Least It Wasn’t Your Midnight Robocall

Banana phone, ring ring ring.

Banana phone, ring ring ring.

FOX 31's Eli Stokols reports on a weekend political "robocall" with high dirty-tricks potential that failed rather spectacularly:

Numerous robocalls purporting to support U.S. Senate candidate Gaylon Kent went out to voters late Saturday night and early Sunday morning, but the Libertarian candidate says his campaign was not behind them…

The calls seem to be intended to hurt Democratic Sen. Mark Udall, who is locked in a tight race with GOP Congressman Cory Gardner that is likely to determine which party controls the Senate next year.

Via e-mail and social media, multiple people complained of being awoken by the calls. Kent’s campaign said they received reports of calls going out between 10:40 p.m. Saturday and 4 a.m. Sunday.

“Most of the contacts came from Denver-area supporters of (Mark) Udall,” Kent said. “But one gentleman from Philadelphia called me to complain, and I got a Facebook message from a lady in Virginia, too.”

Here's a rough transcript of said midnight robocall:

"Since Mark Udall was elected to the US Senate in 2008, the United States has bombed seven countries. We bombed Iraq, we bombed Afghanistan, we bombed Pakistan, we bombed Libya, we bombed Yemen, we bombed Somalia. And now, we're bombing Syria.

In fact, with Mark Udall in the Senate, the US has bombed more countries than it did under George Bush. Not only has Mark Udall not done anything to stop this, Mark Udall has been leading the charge to bomb Syria for years and to continue the carnage that we're inflicting on the world. It's right there on his website.

There's only one true anti-war candidate in this year's Senate election: Gaylon Kent. So grab your ballot right now and vote for Gaylon Kent, and tell Washington: 'No more war!' This message brought to you by the Libertas Institute."

By all accounts, this call went out to younger, "high propensity" Democratic voters–that is, safe and core constituency voters for Democratic Sen. Mark Udall. It's not hard to imagine why Udall's opponents would try just about anything to confound and depress these key voters. Suspicion focused early on an organization called the Libertas Institute based in Utah. That group, however, claims no affiliation with the "Libertas Institute" identified in the robocall. A website for the "Libertas Institute of Colorado," however, displays this message:

Normally calls are restricted to reasonable hours, however, due to a programming error calls continued through the late night hours. It was not the intent to call people in the middle of the night, or to cause Mr. Kent any negative effect.

We deeply regret the intrusive effect of these calls and also the embarrassment they caused Mr. Kent.

Sources tell us a "Libertas Institute" also called active Democrats in 2012, with a similarly-themed call urging Colorado Democratic voters to support Gary Johnson over Barack Obama–with a message that began, "Greetings fellow Democrat!" There's no registration for this group that we can find in Colorado, so it's anybody's guess who they really represent or what their real agenda is. All of which would have probably stayed nicely under the radar had their robocall not gone out in the middle of the night, thus making it an embarrassing news story. Once it's a story, people can easily corroborate basic details like the fact that it was aimed entirely at high propensity Democratic voters.

Once those voters realize they are being played, their reaction is likely to be…other than intended.

2010 Redux? Two D-Leaning Polls Give Udall Small Lead

Mark Udall, Cory Gardner.

Mark Udall, Cory Gardner.

The question of whether or not polling of Colorado voters is accurately sampling the 2014 electorate is perhaps the biggest unknown in the current election cycle. In Colorado's U.S. Senate race, polling has shown Republican Cory Gardner with a small but consistent lead since the beginning of October. The Real Clear Politics average of polling in the race as of now shows Gardner ahead by three points.

But is that really what's going on? History says very likely not. Almost exactly four years ago today in October of 2010, a Reuters/Ipsos poll showed then-GOP Senate candidate Ken Buck leading appointed Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet by three points. In fact, every poll taken entirely in the month of October of 2010 showed Ken Buck leading or the race tied. At the end of the race, the RCP average predicted that Ken Buck would win by three points.

Michael Bennet is our junior U.S. Senator. So obviously, the polls were wrong. In the 2010 U.S. Senate race, the polling consistently got the sample of "likely voters" wrong, which proved to be their undoing. Polling underestimated the role of women voters in particular, who went for Bennet by a 17-point margin and in so doing decided the race.

Is it going to happen again? Democrats not prone to spin tell us there's a good chance.

benensoncrosstabs

Two Democratic internal polls made public this weekend, one from the Mellman Group and another from the Benenson Group, both show Udall with a three-point lead over Gardner. Mellman has the race at 44-41%, and Benenson has Udall up 47-44%. Both samples are similar on party breakdown: 38% GOP, 32.5% Democrats, and 29.5% unaffiliated/third party in the Mellman poll, and 38% R, 33% D, 29% U in the Benenson Group poll. The Mellman poll release included no crosstabs, but in the Benenson poll we can see a 17-point lead for Udall with women voters (sound familiar?) and a whopping 22-point lead with Latino voters.

Last week, we discussed the results of a survey of Latino Colorado voters that showed Gardner distantly underwater, by an even greater margin than is shown in this polling. That came just after the lead pollster at SurveyUSA very candidly admitted that his organization and most other pollsters don't know how to properly sample for Latino voters–a critical defect in a state where 21% of the population is Latino. If 2010's experience is any guide, the recent polls showing a paltry lead for Udall with women can straightforwardly be questioned.

Bottom line: these variables are enough to flip the race. Just like 2010. Right out from under the pollsters.

If that doesn't happen, we'll take our lumps. If it does, though, we expect the pollsters to take theirs.

9NEWS’ Kyle Clark Shreds Gardner on Federal Personhood Bill

UPDATE #2: Talking Points Memo:

Colorado GOP Senate nominee Cory Gardner has been confronted before by journalists when he has tried to deny that a federal bill he sponsors is in effect a personhood bill, which could significantly limit abortion access.

But at a debate Wednesday night, moderator Kyle Clark of KUSA in Denver put Gardner's dodges in perhaps the starkest terms yet, adding fuel to the fire Sen. Mark Udall has been trying throughout his campaign to fan with women voters…

"What I'm asking you about here is what appears to be the willing suspension of the facts," Clark said. "People who agree with you on the issue of life think you're wrong about how you're describing the bill. Everybody seems to have a cohesive idea of what this is with the exception of you, and I'm just wondering: What should voters glean from that fact?"

MSNBC's Steve Benen:

I can appreciate why some, especially on the right and at the Denver Post’s editorial page, may find this focus excessive. There’s no shortage of important issues in the 2014 elections, and investing considerable time and energy on one part of the GOP congressman’s work as a legislator may seem unnecessary. At first blush, it’s not an unreasonable point.
 
But that’s what made Kyle Clark’s questioning so worthwhile: this isn’t just about personhood. Cory Gardner championed radical legislation to remove women’s access to abortion and forms of contraception. Then he lied about it. Then he lied about it some more. Asked to explain himself, the Republican won’t apologize for his often shameless dishonesty, and can’t coherently justify why his claims so plainly contradict reality.
 
In other words, this may just be one issue among many, but it’s offering the public a chance to learn who Cory Gardner really is, what he does, and why kind of politician he’d be if elected to the Senate. As Clark’s line of questioning suggests, the challenge for Colorado voters is asking what else the congressman isn’t telling the truth about. [Pols emphasis]

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UPDATE: Jason Salzman on the same subject: "the revolt by journalists against Gardner continues."

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We've got a few posts to get up about last night's final U.S. Senate race debate between incumbent Democratic Sen. Mark Udall and Republican Cory Gardner–which, if you haven't watched it, was easily the best-run debate of any we've seen this year. 9NEWS political reporters Kyle Clark and Brandon Rittiman brilliantly challenged both candidates on the issues they've had the most trouble with on the campaign trail.

As we'll demonstrate in several examples, this had the effect of damaging Cory Gardner vastly more than his opponent. When the questions turned to Gardner's continued support for the federal Life at Conception Act abortion ban–and Gardner's blanket denial of its intended effect even as the experts, fact-checkers, and the bill's primary sponsors say otherwise–what followed was an absolutely devastating clip of video.

The Denver Post's Lynn Bartels reported on the exchange between Clark and Gardner:

Gardner has been repeatedly been asked on the campaign trail about his sponsorship of the federal Life Begins at Conception Act, which, as Clark pointed out, nearly everyone but Gardner agrees would outlaw abortion.

"We are not going to debate that here tonight because it's fact," Clark said. "It would seem that a charitable interpretation would be that you have a difficult time admitting when you're wrong and a less charitable interpretation is that you're not telling us the truth.

"Which is it?" [Pols emphasis]

Gardner said the bill is "simply a statement that I support life."

"The personhood bill, congressman, is a bill. It's not a statement," Udall countered. "If it became law, it would ban all abortions and it would ban most common forms of contraceptives. Coloradans deserve the truth from you. You have to really give a straight answer."

The problem for Gardner as he attempts to talk his way out of the situation he himself created, by publicly disavowing the state Personhood abortion bans while remaining a sponsor of the functionally equivalent Life at Conception Act, becomes less about the issue of abortion each time he tries. Every attempt by Gardner to extract himself from the hard questions about his actions on this issue makes him look more untrustworthy.

Clark and Rittiman didn't spare Udall the hard questions either, asking Udall to justify his campaign's focus on abortion and birth control. Udall responded ably to this question that these issues are important to women–and citing the Denver Post's recent endorsement of Gardner that crassly attempted to dismiss the issue, he said that "if the Denver Post doesn't want to stand by Colorado women, that's their business."

Bottom line: FOX 31's Eli Stokols' now nationally-famous interview with Gardner, wherein Gardner repeated the words "there is no federal Personhood bill" over and over while Stokols confronted him with facts that clearly prove otherwise, laid bare Gardner's deception for anyone who saw it. Since then Gardner has been hit with the same questions in two debates, at the Denver Post and then last night at 9NEWS–and amazingly to us, he still doesn't have a better answer. When we say this is surprising, we genuinely mean it. Even if Gardner's revised answers were no less bogus, it would still go better for him than mindlessly repeating something that no one believes anymore.

And that is the key point Democrats must drive home right now: it's about trust, not just about abortion.

It is not an exaggeration to suggest that the outcome of this race depends on it.

“Fantasy” Football; Cory Gardner Even Lies About High School Sports

UPDATE #2: Deadspin's Dave McKenna follows up:

Gardner campaign spokesman Alex Siciliano sent the following, presented in its entirety, via email: "Cory Gardner played football from Junior High through Sophomore year in high school." Eli Stokols of FOX-31 in Denver is reporting the Gardner campaign told him, "Gardner played football through soph year of high school, never played varsity." Reached Wednesday night at his home, Chuck Pfalmer, longtime stats keeper for Gardner's alma mater, Yuma High School, and a primary source for the story, told me: "Cory did play football for three years" in high school, and that his records show that Gardner spent his junior year "on varsity." During a lengthy conversation about Yuma High football on Tuesday, Pfalmer repeatedly said Gardner had not played football at the school.

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UPDATE: The Denver Post's Lynn Bartels reports that the main source for Deadspin's story claims his comments have been "mischaracterized."

The main source for the story by the online site Deadspin — a former Yuma High School teacher who had Gardner as a student and kept football stats — says the report mischaracterized his comments. Gardner graduated from the Eastern Plains high school in 1993.

In fact, says Deadspin source Chuck Pfalmer, Gardner played football his freshman through junior years in high school.

"He was not a starter, but he played in those years," said Pfalmer, 77, who retired from the high school in 1997.

In response to Deadspin's story this afternoon, which spread widely via social media, Gardner's campaign released two photos of Gardner in his Yuma High School uniform. Those photos would also seem to refute the central claim of Deadspin's story. We'll update if and when Deadspin responds–there's a pretty big gap between the quote in their story and Bartels' report, and we'd like to see it fully explained.

Original post follows.

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Survey of Latino Voters Finds Gardner Deeply Underwater

Rep. Cory Gardner (R).

Rep. Cory Gardner (R) practicing the face that Latino voters make when they hear his name.

Via the Public News Service, a new survey of Colorado Latino voters that every pollster concerned about their sampling of this critical segment of the electorate should take note of:

Latinos now make up 21 percent of Coloradans, and experts forecast this voting bloc could have a significant impact on the November midterm election. 

A survey released on Tuesday by the National Council of La Raza Action Fund and Latino Decisions finds 55 percent of Latino voters support incumbent Senator Mark Udall, and 14 percent support challenger Cory Gardner. The rest said they're undecided. 

Matthew McClellan, executive director of the NCLR Action Fund, says the Latino community appears to be reacting to several years of policy action or on some issues, lack of action. 

"The Latino community has seen a lot of inaction over the last couple years, and they're blaming the Republican party quite a bit more than the Democratic party, and I think that's probably what's hurting Gardner the most," he says.

We haven't seen hard numbers to confirm it yet, but anecdotally we do believe much more attention is being paid to Latino voters in Colorado this year than in prior elections. There is more advertising in Spanish, and more field campaign focus on turning out Latino voters on both sides. Despite well-publicized attempts earlier this year to "reach out" to Latinos by Colorado GOP chairman Ryan Call and others, and even meddling in the primary process to help ensure anti-immigrant poster child Tom Tancredo did not win, there's little to suggest in these numbers that it's helped them. There's just no way you can separate the Republican Party's long hostile record with Latinos, or the anti-immigrant icons like Tancredo who are almost exclusively Republican partisans, from the GOP ticket on the ballot today. Certainly not just with idle platitudes like Cory Gardner, in stark contrast with his record.

Bottom line: yesterday, SurveyUSA released two polls in Colorado with slightly different methodology. One of those polls came up with a Latino sample of only six percent–a ridiculously small figure in a state that is 21% Latino. The other actually showed Gardner with a lead among Latino voters, an inexplicable result that threw the entire poll into question. A fascinating interview by the New York Times yesterday of SurveyUSA's Jay Leve in response to questions about their polling in Colorado reveals that pollsters just aren't any good at sampling for Latino voters–and they know it.

I get that criticism; I understand it. And the Hispanic data that you’re looking at in Colorado, that shows a Republican ahead among Hispanics, is also at odds with common sense. So I can’t defend it except that we give people the opportunity to self-identify as Hispanic, and we record it.

We have been accused in the past as having blacks who are not “black enough.” I get that criticism. Our black respondents, instead of being 90-10 Democratic, are sometimes 67-33. Do I think it turns out that way on way on Election Day? No, I think we’re too Republican on black voters, just as we are sometimes too Republican on Hispanic voters. This is not unique to SurveyUSA. [Pols emphasis]

Are there people who specialize in Latino polling who conduct elaborate studies and then in turn prove, to their satisfaction and probably mine, that the Latino population is overwhelmingly Democratic? Yes. Is there something that we can do better? I’m sure that there is. At the moment, though, it is what it is.

That's a very candid admission–and if this survey of Latino voters is right, it's a huge blind spot for anyone trying to understand what's really going to happen in Colorado on Election Day.

Q-Poll Tightens Governor’s Race, CNN: Gardner 50%, Udall 46%

beauprezdemsfear

Lots of polling out this morning on Colorado's two top races today, with more on the way–starting with Quinnipiac University's newest poll of the gubernatorial race. The Denver Post's Lynn Bartels reports:

A new poll from Quinnipiac University still shows Republican challenger Bob Beauprez in the lead, but Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper has closed the gap among women and independent voters and his favorability ratings have improved.

The poll, released early Wednesday, reveals Colorado voters favor Beauprez over Hickenlooper 46 percent to 42 percent, a change from last month when Quinnipiac tracked a 10-point lead for the Republican.

"After seeming to waver in our last survey, women and independent voters pull Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper back from the abyss and reinvigorate a race that's very close," said Tim Malloy, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University poll.

Here is Quinnipiac's release on today's poll.

In truth, very few local observers took Quinnipiac's 10-point lead for Bob Beauprez seriously, and it's more likely their numbers are just tracking back to reality from previously outlier findings. We'll have to see tomorrow's Q-poll of the Senate race for a clearer picture of movement within their sample.

Mark Udall, Cory Gardner.

Mark Udall, Cory Gardner.

Meanwhile, CNN's new poll of the Senate race shows Republican Cory Gardner up by four points over incumbent Sen. Mark Udall:

Gardner held a 50 percent to 46 percent edge on first-term Democratic Sen. Mark Udall in the survey of 665 likely voters, conducted Oct. 9-13. The poll's margin of error is plus or minus 4 percentage points.

Republicans have targeted Udall and several other Democratic incumbents in their effort to win at least six seats this fall — enough to gain a Senate majority for President Barack Obama's final two years in office. Traditional Democratic advantages among women and urban voters aren't enough to overcome strong headwinds, said CNN Polling Director Keating Holland.

"Udall is getting clobbered in the all-important suburbs, as well as in rural areas, and his lead in Colorado cities is not enough to overcome that," Holland said.

"There is a gender gap, but in this case it appears to be working in favor of the Republican. Udall has a nine-point advantage among women, but that is dwarfed by the 20-point lead Gardner has among men," he said.

The same CNN poll shows incumbent Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper with a statistically meaningless one-point lead over Beauprez, 49-48%. We haven't seen the memo yet for CNN's poll, and since this is their first survey of Colorado races there's no trajectory to observe here. That said, most recent polling has shown Gardner opening up a small lead over incumbent Democratic Sen. Mark Udall, consistent with these numbers. Historically, as readers know, polling in Colorado tends to understate Democratic turnout, and recent election reforms like mail ballots for every voter and registration all the way up to Election Day make it more or less impossible for pollsters to know if their "likely voter" samples are accurate. Smart pollsters concede, and everyone playing pundit in these races needs to be aware, that the final result could be very different from anybody's polling due to unknown, unknowable variables. After this election, we'll all know a lot more about how these reforms have changed the electorate.

With all of this in mind, Democratic field campaigns fanning out across the state of Colorado today are fully aware of the urgency of their task–and these polls explain why.

Gary Hart Slams Post’s Idiotic Gardner Endorsement

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Still having great respect for former Senator Gary Hart, and having zero respect for the Denver Post's Editorial Board (that is somehow considered "left-leaning", paging Dan Haley) and their inane endorsement of Cory Gardner over sitting Senator Udall, it was good to see the highly intelligent and respectable former senator make his views known about the Post's public puke.

The Post wouldn't print it, nor any of the other condemnations of their judgment, so I'm posting Gary Hart's response to that Post endorsement

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Strong New Ad Highlights Udall Spy Battles

A press release from Sen. Mark Udall's campaign today announces a new, positive TV spot highlighting Udall's long fight against the National Security Agency's domestic surveillance powers over American citizens, the controversial USA PATRIOT Act, as well as abuses of power by the Central Intelligence Agency:

Udall for Colorado today released its newest TV ad, “Freedom.” The 30-second spot highlights Sen. Mark Udall’s crusade to protect Americans’ privacy rights from an over-intrusive federal government. Mark voted against the PATRIOT Act and has stood up to Presidents Bush and Obama’s use of domestic surveillance on American citizens. When the CIA was caught spying on Senate Intelligence Committee, Udall stood up to the administration and demanded its director step down. Mark has led on these issues throughout his career because he believes that at the heart of freedom is the freedom to be left alone.

We've included the campaign's supporting documentation after the jump. This is one of the strongest ads we've seen from Sen. Udall so far this year, on what is considered to be one of his best campaign issues. The message of "taking on Presidents Bush and Obama" is resonant not just with independent voters, but Democrats who are unhappy with what they regard as failed campaign promises by President Barack Obama to rein in intelligence abuses that began under President George W. Bush.

If we have any criticism, it's that this ad maybe should have been up a couple of weeks ago.

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Bizarre Crosstabs Undermine Latest SurveyUSA Poll

Reading tea leaves.

Reading tea leaves.

The Denver Post released new SurveyUSA polling on the Colorado gubernatorial and Senate races yesterday that are raising eyebrows–not so much for the bottom line results, which show both races very close, but the numbers under the proverbial hood. As the Post's John Frank reports on the Senate results:

Gardner and Udall remain in a tight race, 45 percent to 43 percent, according to a SurveyUSA poll of likely voters released Monday.

Gardner's lead is within the margin of error, making the race a statistical tie, but it represents a reversal from a month ago when Udall held a 4-point edge.

The Post poll — conducted Thursday through Sunday — had a margin-of-error of plus-or-minus 4.1 percentage points.

"There has been movement to Gardner that is unmistakable and what had been nominal advantage for Udall has been erased," said Jay Leve at SurveyUSA.

Gardner's momentum is evident in the underlying numbers…

But when local polling expert Kevin Ingham of Strategies 360 started looking at those underlying numbers, he found some things that honestly don't make sense:

We make no claims to be polling experts, but the idea that Cory Gardner is leading with Hispanic voters and Mark Udall is ahead with white voters most certainly defies conventional wisdom–and quite honestly makes us wonder if those numbers got flipped somewhere. Obviously, that would have big implications for this poll result if such an error got factored into the overall results.

Ordinarily we try not to get overly picky about methodology with polling, and to rely more on multiple poll averages than the results of any one poll. But in this case, there's pretty obviously some things messed up–either in the sample or the computation of the demographic results.

So…maybe take this poll with an extra grain of salt.

Big Line Updated

We've updated The Big Line 2014, so head on over and take a look.

From where we're sitting, things don't look a whole lot different than they did when we last updated the Big Line. The Senate race is still close, though we maintain that Sen. Mark Udall will ultimately prevail over Congressman Cory Gardner as Democrats outperform Republicans in the ground game and the antics of the right-wing Jefferson County School Board convince more voters to oppose Republicans in general.

As for the other two marquee races in Colorado, Gov. John Hickenlooper seems to be steadily pulling further ahead from Republican Bob Beauprez, and the battle in CD-6 between Congressman Mike Coffman and Democrat Andrew Romanoff is a true toss-up at this stage.

What say you, Polsters? Let us know in the comments below.

Rural Endorsement: Mark Udall For US Senate

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Ten years ago we went to the ballot box and passed the first-ever citizens-initiated renewable portfolio standard in the nation, Amendment 37.  Under the leadership of its bi-partisan co-chairs Mark Udall and Lola Spradley, the initiative put a solid foundation under what would emerge as Colorado's 'New Energy Economy'.  Today, Colorado enjoys the second-highest RPS in the nation, a 30% goal by 2020 (which will be met early).  Today, an estimated 4,000 Coloradans are employed our wind sector – almost 200 times more than the promised 22 permanent jobs that would be created by the Keystone pipeline – with nearly six billion dollars invested in wind projects across rural Colorado.

The net effects of those investments touch the lives of both rural and urban Coloradans each and every day: rural areas enjoy the bounty of the increased tax base, offering the opportunity to both lower local property taxes overall, and to provide new revenue streams for local economic development.  Urban consumers benefit from ever-decreasing costs of wholesale power to their investor-owned utility.  Rural counties are re-energized with the wind farm developments.

As an early supporter of the national agricultural alliance, "25x'25", Udall was instrumental in adding a 25% national renewable goal in to The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007.  In the headwinds of conservative opposition to clean energy (including Congressman Gardner on ideological principles), Udall now champions a national renewable standard, "25x'25", which would create an estimated 300,000 new jobs, mostly in rural America,  provide $13.5 billion to farmers, ranchers and other landowners in the form of lease payments and add $11.5 billion in new local tax revenues.

It's important to understand the merits of good public policy, and Mark Udall is at the tip of that spear.  Wind energy is the cheapest form of renewable energy today; in the case of the expanding Cedar Point wind farm near Limon, the Vestas turbines stand tall; "Made in Colorado" turbines, planted on the Colorado Prairie, creating rural jobs while simultaneously generating Xcel Energy's cheapest power.  Being an early adopter of clean energy coupled with our successes in the Ritter Administration's  "New Energy Economy",  Colorado is well-poised to meet the proposed EPA emission standards with ease.

It's a Win(d)-Win(d)-Win(d) situation.

So when our state newspaper of record asks, "What has Mark Udall done for us lately?", it's as simple as looking at your utility bill – or the revenue statements from your county treasurer.   It would be hard to find a single, political initiative that has touched the daily lives of more Coloradans in a more positive way.

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Jefferson County: The Key to the State, Now More Than Ever

Jefferson County key to Colorado elections

This kid can’t vote. But his parents, relatives, and neighbors have a new reason to get involved.

We've seen plenty of stories both locally and nationally about the continuing controversy with the Jefferson County School Board — a controversy that will almost certainly impact the outcome of several key races in November, as we pointed out early and often.

Today the Denver Post takes a deeper look — on the front page of the paper, no less — into the political consequences of a right-wing school board angering a community that is always paying attention to education issues. As John Frank writes for the Post, the crossover into the 2014 election is impossible to ignore:

It's dark and a moth circles the halo of a porch light as state lawmaker Brittany Pettersen knocks on the door of a potential swing voter in this all-important Denver suburb. Hours of canvassing ended at the home of Brian Leffler, a 36-year-old independent voter. Pettersen, a first-term Democratic House member, asks him what issue is foremost in his mind this election year. A chorus of insects fills the silence as Leffler thinks. It doesn't take him more than a moment to name a top issue. "The whole schools thing going on in Jefferson County — that's the main thing right now," Leffler said. "I know that has very little to do with you, but they are talking about taking things out of the curriculum."

Door after door, the same refrain. The turmoil at the Jefferson County school board regarding the conservative majority's plans to revamp teacher pay and curriculum is emerging as a key issue in the November elections.

"The fact it comes up naturally in conversations is really reflective of what's happening," Pettersen said. [Pols emphasis]

In an election season with no single national issue dominating the conversation, Jefferson County's vote is a volatile political cocktail that proves all politics is local.

Education. The Democratic Party enthusiasm gap. Abortion. Marijuana. The Republican Party rift. Guns. The economy.

And the stakes couldn't get much higher: The county is likely to decide which party controls the state Senate, the governor's mansion and the U.S. Senate, a combination with far-reaching implications in Colorado and Washington.

Both Democrats and Republicans have figured out that the 2014 elections may hinge on the actions of Jeffco's screwy school board, though Democrats were much quicker to respond. Republicans have tried to push back with a ridiculous message accusing the teacher's union of, well, everything, but that attempted pivot isn't going to work in a county where students, parents, and teachers have taken to the streets in protest for more than a month now. As Frank astutely points out in his story above, this is an issue that is moving along under its own power — which is going to make it awfully difficult for Republicans to redirect as ballots start landing in mailboxes this week.

 

Denver Post Splits Ticket With Gardner Endorsement

UPDATE #2: Ouch–Salon's Luke Brinker proclaims this the "most asinine endorsement of [the] 2014 cycle."

“Congress is hardly functioning these days,” the Post laments, right before it proceeds to endorse the government shutdown-supporting Tea Partier. The paper’s editorial board has decided that Gardner is somehow the answer to this dysfunction, because incumbent Sen. Mark Udall is an incumbent and “is not perceived as a leader,” they guess. So maybe “the time has come for change.”

And what of Gardner’s hard-right positions? There is that inconvenient bit about his support for “personhood” legislation, but, the paper writes, now he wants to make birth control available over the counter. (Never mind those poor women who can’t afford it and require insurance coverage for their contraceptives.)

Moreover, the paper writes, Gardner actually “has sound ideas on tax reform that could help the economy take off.” How? Just trust them, it will. Plus, he’s “expressed willingness to compromise on immigration despite a fairly hard line over the years.” How Gardner could actually convince fellow Republicans to cease their obstructionism on the issue – and whether his newfound “willingness to compromise” is genuine or election-year pandering – doesn’t much concern the Post…

The notion that this right-wing congressman could help usher in a new era of bipartisan goodwill and policy innovation seems far-fetched, but the Post begs to differ. Citing Gerald Seib’s absurd Wall Street Journal column this week, the editors speculate that a unified GOP Congress, together with President Obama, could actually be more productive than one-party government would be. Try not to think too much about the past four years, lest you disabuse yourself of this comforting thought.

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UPDATE: Worth adding to this discussion are the words of Denver Post political news editor Chuck Plunkett, responding in Tuesday's debate to Cory Gardner's stunning refusal to answer key questions about his health insurance:

Sometimes if a candidate doesn't answer a question, that also tells you something about the candidate that voters can know. [Pols emphasis]

The editorial board must have missed that part.

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Mark Udall, Cory Gardner.

Mark Udall, Cory Gardner.

Colorado political social media is alight this afternoon after the Denver Post editorial board published their endorsement of Republican Cory Gardner in the Colorado U.S. Senate race. In some respects, the Post's endorsement of Gardner isn't surprising–after endorsing Gov. John Hickenlooper in the gubernatorial race, the possibility that the paper would "split the ticket" and endorse the Republican in the Senate race grew on general principles. It's important to remember that the Denver Post is presently for sale, and it's easy to imagine them avoiding upsetting potential buyers by not endorsing the same party in the state's two top races.

With that said, some parts of today's endorsement are justifiably infuriating Democrats today, who rightly wonder if the Post's editorial board has been reading the news they're opining on:

Rather than run on his record, Udall's campaign has devoted a shocking amount of energy and money trying to convince voters that Gardner seeks to outlaw birth control despite the congressman's call for over-the-counter sales of contraceptives. Udall is trying to frighten voters rather than inspire them with a hopeful vision. His obnoxious one-issue campaign is an insult to those he seeks to convince…

[Gardner's] past views on same-sex marriage are becoming irrelevant now that the Supreme Court has let appeals court rulings stand and marriage equality appears unstoppable. And contrary to Udall's tedious refrain, Gardner's election would pose no threat to abortion rights. [Pols emphasis]

The idea that Udall invented the abortion issue against Gardner is of course ridiculous, since it was Gardner's choice to bring this issue to the fore with his clumsy attempt to reverse himself on the state Personhood abortion ban initiatives right after getting into the race. Gardner's messy backpedal on the issue, combined with his continued sponsorship of equivalent federal legislation, is what opened him to attack–and the lead that Udall has maintained with women voters shows that it's working.

As for the blanket assertion that Gardner "would pose no threat to abortion rights," this is so plainly contradicted by Gardner's record, and every fact-checker who has examined the issue, that it's simply laughable. We don't even think Gardner himself would agree, let alone his pro-life supporters. What could this statement possibly be based on? Because it's not based on reality.

On most other issues, the Post tends to ignore them–or ignorantly carry water for Gardner. There's nothing whatsoever about Gardner's 50+ votes to repeal Obamacare, or his inability to back up assertions about his own health insurance. The editorial board takes Gardner at his word that he would "compromise" on immigration reform "despite a fairly hard line over the years." And inexplicably, they call Gardner an "early supporter" of renewable energy, despite the fact that the legislation he touts from 2007 "to launch Colorado's renewable energy industry" was repealed having never funded a single project.

Bottom line: for anybody who knows the underlying facts, this endorsement really is a joke. It stands in marked contrast to the conclusions of other editorial boards around the state, some of whom have been very pointed in calling out Gardner's deceptions.

That the Denver Post bought those deceptions hook, line and sinker says more about them than it does about this race.