Colorado “Unites In Orange”–Dick Cheney’s Back In Town

cheneyorange

Trish and Ken Green, your brave hosts.

Trish and Ken Green, your brave hosts.

Former Vice President "Deadeye" Dick Cheney is in town tonight hosting a fundraiser for Republican gubernatorial candidate Bob Beauprez at the swanky Cherry Hills Village home of Trish and Ken Green. Here's the invite, admission a bargain at $1,000 per couple to start:

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We recognize that this is the time in a political campaign when it's best to look forward, not backwards, but let's face it–the Bush administration was Bob Beauprez's halcyon days of yore. So what's old is new again–much like Bob Beauprez himself!

One other issue that might make a Cheney/Beauprez fundraiser a bit uncomfortable is the fact that both Cheney and Beauprez received multiple draft deferments during the Vietnam war. Back in 2006, with the Iraq war raging, the issue of Beauprez's draft dodging did come up, as it did for Cheney while he was sending the next generation off to fight the "war on terror." Dodging the draft may not be quite the issue is was back in 2006, but then again, we don't see Dick Cheney every day either.

Being within the city limits of Cherry Hills Village, we assume there won't be any firearms discharges–and for an event featuring the only Vice President in history to have shot a hunting partner and then received an apology from the man he shot, that's good for the host's insurance coverage. Of course, they might tell Cheney all the orange being worn tonight is for the Broncos, but there are much more practical reasons.

NBC/Marist: Gardner 46%, Udall 45%, Hickenlooper Up 5

Mark Udall, Cory Gardner.

Mark Udall, Cory Gardner.

New polling from NBC/Marist College shows…you guessed it, a continuing nail-biter in Colorado's U.S. Senate race:

In the race for U.S. Senate in Colorado, Republican Cory Gardner, 46%, and Democratic incumbent Mark Udall, 45%, are in a virtual tie among likely voters including those who are undecided yet leaning toward a candidate or have voted early. Five percent of Colorado likely voters are undecided, and 2% of those with a candidate preference say they might vote differently. Among likely voters in NBC News/Marist’s September poll, Gardner trailed Udall by 6 percentage points.

Independents likely to vote and gender play a role in how the race has changed. Udall’s once 15 point lead among independents has shrunk to just 3 points. And, the gender gap has widened with men as the driving force behind the gains for Gardner. He now leads Udall among men by 15 points, up from 5 points.

Looking at the governor’s race in Colorado, Democratic incumbent John Hickenlooper, 46%, is ahead of GOP challenger Bob Beauprez, 41%, by 5 points among Colorado likely voters including those who are undecided yet leaning toward a candidate and those who have already voted. Six percent are undecided, and 6% say they may vote differently.

“To seal up the potential crack in the Democratic firewall for the U.S. Senate, Udall needs a big ground game,” says Dr. Lee M. Miringoff, Director of The Marist College Institute for Public Opinion. “He trails among those who have already voted by 12 points.”

Most all of the numbers in this poll have tightened from the last NBC/Marist poll in early September, which showed Sen. Mark Udall with a 6-point lead. While Udall's lead has shrunk to the same statistical dead heat most other polling in this race shows, Gov. John Hickenlooper's lead over Republican challenger Bob Beauprez has grown slightly compared to early September's Marist/NBC poll. In both cases, the movement is consistent with what we're seeing in most recent polling.

It's interesting to note that Marist shows a large lead for Republican Cory Gardner among those who have already voted–an important question to ask in our newly 100% mail ballot state. Given the early lead Republicans have posted in ballot returns, that makes sense–and this poll points the path to victory for Democrats in the ground game to play out over the next eight days.

Because, and we know you're sick of hearing it, there's only one "polling sample" that matters.

The Absentee Treasurer

Sen. Gail Schwartz

Sen. Gail Schwartz

(Promoted by Colorado Pols. Check out Your Choice Colorado for more on the statewide downballot races.)

For the past eight years, I have served in the Colorado State Senate. I have been privileged to work with Republicans and Democrats, two Governors and fellow legislators, and urban and rural citizens to develop Colorado solutions to issues facing our state.

As Chair of the legislative Capital Development Committee, I worked on many pieces of legislation to fund our state’s capital projects. Two bills in particular addressed the critical capital needs of education. With support of former Treasurer Kennedy, we created the BEST program which invested over $1B in rural schools; and secondly, using oil and gas revenues, we funded $230M for construction on college campuses. Neither program increased state taxes.

Treasurer Stapleton  has not pursued similar opportunities for education or for our rural communities, and said “no” when invited to help develop specific programs to invest in rural infrastructure.

Now, public records from the Treasurer’s calendar and key code records, reveal that he is only in his office about 11 days per month. I have had numerous meetings in the treasure's office during each of the last several years, only to find his personal office was not only empty, but dark.

The Treasurer is responsible, more than any other position in the state, for managing and accounting for the citizen's tax dollars. A full-time Treasurer would mean that we could look at creative, “out-of-the-box” ways to invest in rural Colorado and save taxpayers money, beginning with updating and upgrading our infrastructure by using public/private partnerships.

If Colorado had a Treasurer who was actually working in the Capitol, who actually worked with the State Legislature, and who spent time thinking about our whole State, Colorado would be much better served.

Coloradans deserve a full-time Treasurer who will show up for work, look out for our entire state, and take on our state’s fiscal challenges. Colorado would be better off with the energy and commitment of Betsy Markey. It’s time to turn the lights back on in the Colorado's Treasurer's office!

Colorado’s First Spanish-Language Congressional Debate on Thursday

Whether you are a Democrat or a Republican — or whether or not you even speak Spanish — you've got to admit that this is pretty cool: On Thursday, Oct. 30, Republican Rep. Mike Coffman and Democratic challenger Andrew Romanoff will take part in what is believed to be the first-ever Spanish-language political debate (for a major office) in Colorado. 

Univision will air the debate live at 5:00 on Thursday. Romanoff is fluent in Spanish, and Coffman has been feverishly working to learn the language over the last year or two. It should be interesting.

Kudos to Mi Familia Vota, Noticas Colorado, and everyone involved with making this debate happen.

RomanoffCoffman-SpanishDebate

Let’s get ready to retumbar!!!

Maddow Rips Megyn Kelly Over Colorado Ballot Fiction

We took note last week of FOX News evening anchor Megyn Kelly's Tuesday night opening segment, in which Kelly breathessly declared that a "new law" in Colorado has "opened the door to potential voter fraud." Specifically, Kelly claimed, Colorado voters now have the ability to "print ballots on their home computer." This statement struck us as very odd, mostly because we knew right away it was false: other than overseas and military absentee voters who had the ability to do this before Colorado's 2013 election modernization law, nobody can print up a ballot from their home computer.

What's even more surprising to us–not apparently to regular FOX News watchdogs, but we're surprised–is that days later, nobody at FOX News has corrected this blatantly false claim by one of that network's highest-rated news anchors. Because Colorado residents either already know or can easily find out from their county clerk that the story is false, the opportunity for harmful effects on our elections is limited. But if you're a FOX News viewer in another state, listening to that network's almost-daily warnings of imminent election fraud across the nation, this story is going to rightly freak you out: especially when it goes uncorrected.

As Mediaite reported this weekend, the pressure on FOX News to do something about this bogus report is getting louder:

First, 9News anchor Kyle Clark drew attention to Kelly’s remarks and said, “We normally reserve our truth test for political ads, but that claim is misleading.” He explained that the only voters allowed to print out and turn in ballots that way are military and overseas voters. No other Coloradans will be allowed to vote that way.

And then, Friday night, [MSNBS host Rachel] Maddow took a turn going after Kelly, bringing the issues with Kelly’s reporting into the national spotlight. Maddow mocked how seriously Kelly was reporting on this revelation “that they made up.” She explained that other states have similar laws about at-home ballots for service members, but “Fox has now decided that in the state of Colorado, that’s terrifying, even if it doesn’t terrify them anywhere else in the country.”

Call us Pollyannish, but how in the hell can a mainstream news outlet–yes, that includes FOX News–report something so blatantly false, and not correct it all these days later? It's one thing to get facts wrong in a news story. This happens for all kinds of reasons, and a lot of the time it's not the fault of the journalist. Even when it is, a correction is the bare minimum a news outlet can do to ensure that their historical record is accurate. Corrections are still frustrating, since they generally are never seen by as many people who saw the original error, but it's something.

What does it say when the nation's highest-rated "news" network allows blatant lies to go totally uncorrected?

Whatever's going on here, it's as far from "journalism" as you can get.

Argumentum in Terrorem: Gardner, Beauprez Appeal To Fear

Rep. Cory Gardner (R).

Rep. Cory Gardner (R).

The Colorado Independent's Susan Greene has a must-read story out today, discussing the late-game turn by GOP U.S. Senate candidate Cory Gardner to an overtly fear-based foreign policy message against incumbent Democratic Sen. Mark Udall:

WITH a week until this off-year election, Republicans had two options to prod their party members to vote.

One was…to pull months of punches and put happy faces on the combative GOP challengers seeking to unseat the state’s Democratic governor and U.S. senator. The other was to try to scare the bajeezus out of voters.

They’ve chosen the latter.

“Vote like your life depends on it,” reads a recent mailer authorized by Republican U.S. Senate candidate Cory Gardner’s campaign. It features a shadowy picture of four faceless jihadists-looking-types brandishing guns. [Pols emphasis]

Then there’s the $3.5 million TV ad by crisis creator Karl Rove’s political spin-machine Crossroads GPS attacking U.S. Sen. Mark Udall’s national security credentials. It stars a 30-something woman identified only as “Melissa, mother of five,” sitting on somebody’s American dreamy front porch holding an iPad…

National security has traditionally been a strong point for Sen. Udall, both from his time in the U.S. House and in the Senate. Udall serves on the Armed Services Committee and the Select Committee on Intelligence, and generally has a voting record that voters like: Udall voted against the Iraq war, but has voted to support troops in the field with appropriations unlike many other Democrats. Udall's high profile on issues like National Security Agency domestic surveillance and the Senate's battle with the Central Intelligence Agency over interrogation policy, long before this election, give Udall credibility as he positions himself at odds with the Obama administration.

So naturally, knocking Udall down on this core issue is a big priority for the GOP.

Bob Beauprez.

Bob Beauprez.

The hit on Udall over foreign policy in the latter stages of the campaign has made use of the two most popular foreign policy scare stories in circulation nationally: the Ebola outbreak in West Africa and the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS). We talked last week about Gardner's highly misleading comments about Ebola in a recent debate, refuted strongly by Politifact. Likewise, Factcheck.org notes that the attacks on Udall over ISIS from Crossroads GPS, originating in an out-of-context quote from a debate last summer, have little basis in reality:

Udall didn’t dismiss ISIL as nothing to worry about. Instead, he said the terrorist group wasn’t an “imminent” threat to the U.S. but will be in the future if the country doesn’t respond in the Middle East now.

This isn’t the only attack ad to pick up on the Udall quote. The NRSC highlighted it in an ad also portraying Udall as soft on terrorism, as did Udall’s Republican opponent, Rep. Cory Gardner.

But the Crossroads ad is the only one to actually cite a news article that supports what Udall said. While the woman in the ad says, “As a mom and a Marine, I know the danger is closer to home than Sen. Udall seems to think,” an on-screen graphic cites an August USA Today article headlined, “Returning Islamic State fighters could threaten USA.” That article quotes experts saying that an attack on U.S. soil isn’t an imminent threat, but there’s concern about what could happen if fighters holding Western passports return home.

In the Colorado gubernatorial race, the big story over the weekend was the blowback against GOP candidate Bob Beauprez for his factually-challenged misuse of the murder of the director of the Colorado Department of Corrections last year in campaign ads–ads that became toxic after the widow of director Tom Clements told Beauprez to stop falsely politicizing her husband's murder. There is a common theme between Beauprez's untruthful attack on Hickenlooper over Clements' murder and the misleading attacks on Sen. Udall over national security.

The common theme is a willingness to lie to people in order to scare them. It's not our purpose to rule on whether this is an effective tactic, as in the right circumstances it surely can be–but it does generally occur for certain reasons. We'll leave it to our readers to discuss in this case what those may be.

2014′s “Swing Issue?” Public Education

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

We've all heard it before: "As goes Jefferson County, so goes Colorado." 

In an election year where national developments such as Ebola and ISIS have created more generalized voter angst than focused anger, Colorado's 2014 state legislative races seemed destined to enter the final stretch with no clear definition or rallying cry.

Meanwhile, in Jeffco – which has four targeted races that will ultimately determine which party will control the state Senate – the new school board majority that was elected last year was conducting itself in a way that created some concern among parents and teachers, but didn't set off particularly potent alarms outside the education community.

But, just as ballots were dropped off in mailboxes, the defining moment came: Julie Williams' proposal to sanitize AP US history. Once she tipped the board majority's hand, the deep concerns among parents about what the Jeffco School board might be planning turned into a nationally broadcast, student-protest-fueled, laser-focused rejection of what the majority was proposing. 

That's how defining issues are born. Jeffco voters who currently have no way to take direct electoral action against the board majority are looking for ways to make their voices heard. They're asking about it when candidates come to the door and, judging from a spate of new video ads from the Democratic Senate Campaign Fund, Senator Andy Kerr, Senator Rachel Zenzinger, Citizens Alliance for Accountable Leadership, and Great Education Colorado Independent Expenditure Committee, supporting public education must be polling pretty well.

(more…)

Monday Open Thread

"Truth is so obscure in these times, and falsehood so established, that, unless we love the truth, we cannot know it."

–Blaise Pascal

Reporter CYA Can’t Excuse Bob Beauprez’s Travesty

beauprezdemsfear

Republican gubernatorial candidate Bob Beauprez's highly controversial appropriation of the murder last year of the executive director of the Colorado Department of Corrections, Tom Clements, for use in his campaign has changed the outlook of this race with only days to go before the election. Beauprez's shrill and personal attacks on Gov. John Hickenlooper over Clements' death principally revolve around a 2011 law, Senate Bill 11-176, which Hickenlooper signed into law after it passed the Democratic-controlled Senate and Republican-held Colorado House.

Beauprez's use of SB11-176 to blame Hickenlooper for Clements' death has its origins in a front-page Denver Post story published in March of 2013, not long after the murder. What Beauprez doesn't mention is that this story was proven wrong the next day by competing outlet 9NEWS, forcing the Post to publish a particularly embarrassing correction:

This article has been corrected in this online archive. Originally, due to incorrect information from a source, the role a 2011 law played in Evan Ebel's early release from prison was overstated. [Pols emphasis] The law was only one factor.

Just days after Clements' murder, an unnamed Republican source had fed the story to the Denver Post that this 2011 law had resulted in the killer's early release from prison–with the obvious intention of extracting political value from the tragedy of Clements' death. As we've noted in the past, one cruel irony in Clements' shooting at the hands of a recently released solitary confinement inmate was the work Clements had been doing to reform the solitary confinement system in Colorado.

Like we said Friday, the politicization of Clements' death, or at least the attempt to do so, has been occurring almost since the day he was killed. Clements' murder came at the height of the debate on unrelated gun safety legislation in the General Assembly, and Republicans were keen to exploit anything they could find to portray Hickenlooper as "soft on crime."

But again: the story is false. The truth is, Clements' murderer was released four years early because of a clerical error by a sentencing court in 2008. This was the key detail the Post didn't have when they rushed to print with their story blaming SB11-176 for Ebel's release. Today, the Denver Post indirectly revisits that story reporting on the present controversy, and again misleads their readers:

Ebel killed Clements and Leon in March 2013 after he was released four years too early because of a courthouse clerical error after his conviction for assaulting a correctional officer in 2008. The error — which made Ebel's sentence for assaulting a prison guard concurrent instead of consecutive — occurred before Hickenlooper took office.

Ebel was released Jan. 30, 2013, instead of years later.

But Ebel also qualified for early-release sentence reductions while he was being held in administrative segregation based partly on a law signed in 2011 by Hickenlooper.

Ebel was released four months earlier than he would have based on those rewards, meaning that when he killed Leon and Clements, he would have still been in prison.

Now, whether the Post's Kirk Mitchell is trying to defend his own faulty reporting or his Republican source for what turned out to be bad information, it's just wrong to suggest that SB11-176 made any intentional difference in the release of Clements' murderer. The 2008 error of not sentencing Clements' eventual killer correctly is what resulted in both his release four years too soon, and the factoring of any sentence reduction based on the 2011 law. 9NEWS explains this clearly in their own story from Friday:

"Was director Clements' death tragic? Yes," wrote Beauprez campaign spokesman Allen Fuller. "Should that take the conversation of the governor's public safety policies off the table?"

Fuller pointed to a 2011 law signed by Governor Hickenlooper which allowed offenders like Ebel to earn time off for good behavior during solitary confinement . While this was a factor in the timing of Ebel's release from prison, it was a paperwork error from the courts that allowed Ebel to be released years before he was supposed to.

His earned time off wouldn't have been considered if his sentence was issued properly. [Pols emphasis]

The details of this story are complicated, and we're reticent to get too far into the weeds as political bloggers. But we feel it's important to show in this case exactly why Beauprez's allegations against Hickenlooper are wrong, and how bad reporting with suspected partisan political influence has already done the voting public a disservice.

Once you understand just how factually baseless Beauprez's attack on Hickenlooper is, the whole idea of blaming the governor for the murder of his friend and partner in reforming the corrections system in Colorado becomes something more than just politically inappropriate. This is in fact a travesty–and the reason it must not be rewarded has more to do with common decency than partisanship.

Rand Paul Did Not Appear at Denver Event

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Rand Paul Joins Ken Cuccinelli At Campaign Rally In Virginia

Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky did not appear in Denver this week for the Colorado Renewal Project's "Rediscovering God in America" event in Westminster, despite widely distributed promotional materials stating that the Kentucky Senator would be in attendance as a "special guest."

Paul was never planning to come to Colorado at all, Paul's press office emailed me Friday, referring to organizers of the event.

"That was an error on their part," wrote Paul spokesperson Sergio Gor.

Paul's visit to Colorado appears to have been organized by evangelical political operative David Lane, who organizes meetings between Republican presidential contenders and pastors in swing states. Lane is associated with the American Renewal Project, which advocates for more involvement by Christians in politics.

Numerous efforts get a comment from Lane or any organizer of the Colorado event were not successful. It was not clear who sponsored Colorado's pastor event this week, but similar events in the past have ties to Colorado for Family Values and the Christian Family Alliance of Colorado.

Paul's visit to Colorado raised eyebrows because Colorado senatorial candidate Cory Gardner has been telling reporters that there is "no federal personhood bill"–and Paul is the unabashed sponsor of a federal personhood bill, called the Life at Conception Act.

(more…)

The Orwellian Desperation of Jefferson County Republicans

SATURDAY UPDATE: The Denver Post's Eric Gorski, who took the photo of Jefferson County protesters that was crudely doctored for this Republican mailer to remove their original protest message, is most unhappy to see it being misused:

The photo on the fliers appears to blur out the faces of the students. The sign messages were changed to reflect … it’s not clear.

But one thing that is clear is students took to the streets because they are unhappy with a school board controlled by three Republicans who won office in 2013… [Pols emphasis]

Neville, Sanchez and Woods won GOP primaries and had the backing of the strongly conservative Rocky Mountain Gun Owners organization. Neville’s son, Joe, is a lobbyist for the gun group. Neville’s sister-in-law, Julie Williams, sits on the Jeffco school board.

In addition to Jefferson County Public Schools' demand that these candidates stop using the district's trademarked logo, the Post's lawyers are demanding they stop using the doctored image of these students:

“Not only does the use of the photograph infringe copyright interests, it violates other intellectual property laws by unlawfully associating The Denver Post with your campaign. It also violates basic transparency principles by altering a photograph without informing the readers. Finally, it offends the Fair Use policies in place by Twitter and creates an actionable claim by the person pictured in the photograph holding the sign.” [Pols emphasis]

If we were one of the kids in this doctored photo, we'd be talking to Mom and Dad about a lawyer.

—–

nevillemailer

7NEWS reports:

Attorneys representing Jeffco Public Schools have sent a cease and desist letter to candidates for state senate who used the district's logo in a campaign mailing.

Tim Neville, a self-described "Independent Republican," is running for office in Senate District 16. The campaign flier in question criticizes incumbent State Senator Jeanne Nicholson.

Beside the district's logo, the flyer states: "Jeffco schools are in crisis because Denver politicians like Jeanne Nicholson are keeping funding from the classroom while giving more power to corrupt union bosses."

Neville's statement of "crisis" in the district references recent widespread protesting over the conservative board majority's decisions regarding teacher compensation and a plan to review the AP US History Curriculum…

As you can see above, the mailer plainly makes use of the Jefferson County Public Schools' copyrighted logo, and that's obviously not okay. But there are other aspects to this mailer that make it vastly more deceptive. For starters, a sign held by a student in the photo has been crudely doctored to replace their protest message with the words "I want my future back." The original photo, taken by the Denver Post's Eric Gorski, clearly displays the student's original message: "my education, my voice, save AP U.S. history." We assume nobody has spoken with that student about this mailer yet, but we rather doubt she would approve of her sign being altered in this manner.

We think she'll be especially outraged to learn, as 7NEWS continues, that

Neville is the brother-in-law of Jeffco School Board Member Julie Williams. [Pols emphasis]

That's right, folks–the brother-in-law of Julie Williams, the school board member at the heart of the recent internationally-publicized controversy over "reviewing" the district's AP history curriculum, is himself altering the history of the recent protests against Williams to make it look like he sympathizes. The mailer includes a photo of Tim Neville with his wife Barb, Julie Williams' sister, who also runs Williams' political action committee (PAC). The deception here is so over the top brazen that it just leaves you shaking your head in disbelief. It's not much better for two other Jefferson County Republican Senate candidates who sent out similar mailers, Laura Waters Woods in SD-19 and Tony Sanchez in SD-22, both of whom have been supported by Williams and vice versa–but in Neville's case it's so outlandishly hypocritical and insulting to have doctored this student's protest sign that we have to think it will end in disaster.

That, or history is in greater danger than anyone ever imagined.

Weekend Open Thread

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

"Be in love with your life. Every minute of it."

–Jack Kerouac

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