Stay Classy, Tom Tancredo: Blame “Diversity” For Paris Edition

WEDNESDAY UPDATE: The Denver Post’s Joey Bunch reports today:

Tancredo, a Republican who has long fought for tougher immigration standards, said he was glad to “start a conversation” about the risks of allowing Syrian refugees into the United States.

“I’m referring to the fact that this tragedy (in Paris), this horror, is something you cannot contain to one country is you don’t do something meaningful about immigration — a subject I’ve been involved in for some time — these are the kinds of things that result when you don’t protect your citizens,” he told The Denver Post.

Hickenlooper, a Democrat, was not amused.

“That’s beyond comment,” he said, dropping his shoulders after seeing the meme during a stop at The Post. “Come on.” [Pols emphasis]


As posted to former Congressman, gubernatorial candidate, and most recently “Coffmangate” co-conspirator Tom Tancredo’s Facebook page a short while ago:


For the record, this isn’t the original image. We’ve digitally obscured what appear to be a number of dead bodies and streaks of blood in the highly gruesome unedited photo Tancredo posted. The photo appears to be the interior of the Bataclan Theater in Paris, France after the terrorist attacks last Friday. The caption on the photo, “Celebrating Diversity One Massacre At A Time,” may or may not have been added by Tancredo personally, but clearly that’s the message he endorses.

We’re pretty sure the original photo violates Facebook’s terms of service, so we wouldn’t be surprised if it disappears at some point soon. But as much as he frequently embarrasses his erstwhile fellow Republicans, Tancredo has a considerable following on the anti-immigrant right–and his views are representative of enough of the conservative movement that he can’t simply be ignored.

And folks, sometimes that is a damned shameful fact.

Obligatory Q-Poll Blog Post Here

UPDATE: Local guru Craig Hughes at Hilltop Public Solutions isn’t buying what Quinnipiac is selling:


How to read sheep entrails.

How to read sheep entrails.

The notoriously inaccurate pollsters at Quinnipiac University are out with another survey of alleged Colorado voters on the 2016 presidential race today, and as members of the political chattering class we are obliged to stop what we’re doing and talk about it:

With 25 percent of the vote, Dr. Ben Carson is the clear leader among Colorado Republicans and tops Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton 52 – 38 percent in a general election matchup, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released today.

In fact, Clinton trails all leading Republican contenders by margins of 11 percentage points or more, the independent Quinnipiac (KWIN-uh-pe-ack) University Poll finds.

Trailing Carson in the Republican race are Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida with 19 percent, Donald Trump with 17 percent, Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas with 14 percent, Carly Fiorina with 5 percent, Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky with 3 percent, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush with 2 percent and 11 percent undecided.

Quinnipiac has a history of wild, unexplained swings in its poll numbers here in Colorado, making headlines for dramatic “results” that always seem to level out as the polls get closer to…well, the only poll history cares about. So before Democrats get overly concerned about today’s Q-poll showing Ben Carson, Donald Trump, and Ted Cruz all trouncing Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton, remember the junk Quinnipiac tried to pass off as polling in Colorado just last year:

So no, we can’t put a lot of stock in Quinnipiac’s numbers–not this far out, and especially not their head-to-head matchups between Clinton and Republican candidates. In terms of trajectories within the GOP primary pack, Carson’s ascendancy in Colorado makes some sense to us, perhaps given the attention he has paid to our state’s religious conservative primary voters. But that’s strictly our own empirical judgment, not anything informed by this poll.

Because there’s not any information here we would place a bet on. Talk to us in a few months–or in Quinnipiac’s case, maybe not at all.

Should Democrats Rename the Annual Jefferson-Jackson Dinner?


Richard Jefferson (left) and Stephen Jackson

John Frank of the Denver Post reports on a “conversation” that Colorado Democratic Party Chairman Rick Palacio wants to have with Colorado Democrats about perhaps renaming the annual Jefferson-Jackson dinner:

The Colorado Democratic Party is considering renaming its annual Jefferson Jackson fundraising dinner, part of a nationwide shift away from the founders of the party.

Chairman Rick Palacio on Monday emailed Democratic activists to ask whether they supported renaming the dinner– and if they did, to solicit suggestions.

“It’s not a move to change the name, it’s simply a conversation I want to have with people around the state,” Palacio said in an interview. “What I want to do is solicit ideas and feedback about whether people even want it to be changed.”

The survey is taking suggestions until Nov. 25 and Palacio said he hopes to make a decision by the end of the year about whether to rename the dinner, which is scheduled for Feb. 13 at the Sheraton Downtown Denver. If Palacio decides to make a change, the party’s members can vote again on the new name.

The potential shift away from this “Jefferson Jackson” guy is happening across the country, as the New York Times reported in August. For the sake of argument, let’s pretend that the name is going to be changed. What say you, Polsters? Drop some ideas on us in the comments below.

Here’s the link to offer your own naming suggestions to the Colorado Democratic Party. In the event that Jeb! Bush wins the race for President in 2016, we suggest that Republicans rename their annual fundraising dinner to simply, “Bushes.”

Scrubbing Jeffco Schools Clean of Partisan Turd-Shiners

millerAs the Colorado Independent’s Marianne Goodland reported yesterday, two of the more controversial expenditures approved by the outgoing right-wing majority on the Jefferson County school board are swiftly going the way of the dodo following this month’s blowout recall election:

Brad Miller, the attorney hired by the conservative majority that was ousted in this month’s recall election, resigned this morning.

Miller was hired by the Jeffco board just a month after the November, 2013 election, a hiring that some have claimed violated the state’s open meetings law.

In his resignation email to board liaison Helen Neal, Miller cited the incoming school board’s desire to use the district’s legal counsel and statements by new board members that they would not need a private attorney…

As our readers will recall, the hiring of attorney Brad Miller by Jeffco Schools was hotly controversial, both due to his shady, very possibly illegal approval process, and his known-quantity status as an insider advocate for charter schools. According to the Denver Post’s report today, Miller’s contract stipulated $7,500 monthly for “services not to exceed 30 hours per month.” Nice work if you can get it!

Novitas' Michelle Balch Lyng (left), with former Jeffco comms director Lisa Pinto.

Novitas’ Michelle Balch Lyng (left), with former Jeffco comms director Lisa Pinto.

As Goodland continues at the Independent, Miller isn’t the only line-item from the old board’s tenure being shown the door:

Saturday, the school district posted a job opening for a chief communications officer. Those duties have been handled lately by Novitas Communications and Michelle Balch Lyng.

Novitas, a public-relations firm, was brought in last February, under a $50,000 five-month contract, to handle “supplemental communications duties.”

Novitas was hired by Lisa Pinto, who served as communications chief for less than six months. Pinto, an attorney with no background in public education communications, was deemed unqualified by the district search committee. Hired by Superintendent Dan McMinimee, she was frequently criticized for unprofessional behavior. After Pinto resigned, Lyng became the district’s chief spokesperson…

In retrospect, Novitas Communications’ service to Jefferson County Public Schools was an unqualified disaster. A solidly GOP-aligned public relations outfit staffed by local Republican usual suspects, Novitas was brought in to “supplement” the work of another longtime Republican Party communications flack, Lisa Pinto. Pinto’s lack of qualifications and by-all-accounts horrible interpersonal skills necessitated Novitas’ “help”–which ironically even more pointedly demonstrated Pinto’s uselessness, and hastened her departure a short while later under a considerable cloud.

But in the end, as is now a matter of history, Novitas couldn’t save the board majority that hired them.

Observers expect that the new Jeffco school board majority will work toward re-establishing the status quo ante in the district’s public relations office, using qualified district employees instead of high-priced contractors. Likewise with the board’s need for legal counsel. We haven’t heard if that future will include ex-Novitas GOP media operative Devan Crean, but we could certainly see how it might not.

The moral of the story: when your agenda for your organization is constructive instead of malicious, there’s less need for all that, you know, “outside help.”

Get More Smarter on Tuesday (Nov. 17)

GetMoreSmarter-SnowIf you squint your eyes really hard, you can have a snow day, too. It’s time to Get More Smarter with Colorado Pols. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example).


► Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper is refusing to play the politics of reactionary rhetoric in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks in Paris. Hickenlooper says that Colorado will not automatically reject Syrian refugees just because one of the Paris attackers came from that area of the globe. As we wrote yesterday:

For our part, we’re reminded of the example of another governor of Colorado, Gov. Ralph Carr, who in the early days of World War II urged the people of Colorado to welcome and respect Japanese-Americans being transported here by the federal government away from the West Coast. Carr paid for his foresight and equanimity with his political career, but is today remembered as one of our state’s best governors.

Today, Gov. Hickenlooper has spoken out in the finest traditions of a state that has witnessed both great compassion and great intolerance in our history. He deserves not just the gratitude of future Colorado citizens with the benefit of hindsight, but to be heeded now as a voice of reason in difficult times.

Good on you, Governor.

The Denver Business Journal has more on Hickenlooper’s announcement, which is at odds with the decisions of several Republican governors around the country. Colorado Congressman Scott Tipton (R-Cortez) is also joining the fear-mongering chorus. French investigators, meanwhile, believe a Syrian passport found near the attacks was a fake — planted intentionally because rejecting Syrian refugees may actually do more to benefit ISIS. 


► A decision on moving prisoners from Guantanamo Bay to U.S. prisons has been put on hold. As the Denver Post reports:

A report on the future homes of dozens of Guantanamo Bay detainees is stalled, leaving leaders in Colorado to continue to debate the issue.

Prisons in Colorado, Kansas and South Carolina are being considered as new destinations for those housed at the U.S. military prison in Cuba.

White House and Pentagon officials have declined to say why the report, expected last week,  has been delayed indefinitely

…The Super Max federal prison in Fremont County already is home to several convicted terrorists, including 9/11-coconspirator Zacarias Moussaoui, 1993 World Trade Center bomber Ramzi Yousef and 2001 failed shoe-bomber Richard Reid.



Get even more smarter after the jump…


Tuesday Open Thread

“That man is not truly brave who is afraid either to seem or to be, when it suits him, a coward.”

–Edgar Allan Poe

CO Springs Mayor John Suthers is Open to Extending Tax Increase

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Americans for Prosperity and other conservative operatives in Colorado Springs got pissy with Republican Mayor John Suthers for thowing his support behind a sales tax to fix the city’s pot-hole-ridden streets.

But his proposal won, by a 2-to-1 margin.

Now, some of Suthers’ conservative critics will be unhappy to hear that Suthers may extend the sales tax beyond its five-year duration, if needed.

Talking on KVOR radio after the vote, Suthers didn’t rule out extending the tax, telling host Richard Randall:

Suthers: We’ll do a reassessment of our road conditions in four years, give a full report of the the public, and say, this is where we are. Do we need to do anything further? My hope is that we will significantly expand our road investments through the general fund over the next five years, and this may not be necessary to extend. If it is necessary, can we lower it dramatically? We will evaluate that in four years based on the progress we make.

Listen to Suthers KVOR 11.5.15

Poking the eyes of his opponents, Suthers told Randall that his polling showed clear support for the tax increas from the get go, and so he wasn’t surprised by the overwhelming support for it in Colorado Springs, despite the “noise” against it.

Suthers: We polled throughout…. When you just have community hearings, you don’t really get a clear view of how the public as a whole looks at an issue.  Sometimes you get how interest groups look at a particular issue. So we went to the public and said, where are your priorities between storm water and roads? How would you want to pay for it? Would it be sales tax or property tax? What kind of duration should the tax be? All that sort of thing.  And I was very gratified. The number held the pretty clearly, with all the noise that we heard over the last month about, oh, they are going to spend the money on something else.  Or they could find the money elsewhere. It really didn’t move the needle at all. The numbers stayed very consistent. So I wasn’t surprised, because we had been doing some polling throghout. and that’s how the community felt about it. Listen to Suthers KVOR 11.5.15

Profiles In Courage: Hickenlooper Welcomes Syrian Refugees

Gov. John Hickenlooper.

Gov. John Hickenlooper.

As the Colorado Independent’s Corey Hutchins reports:

So far more than a dozen governors, most of them Republicans, have said they want to close their state borders to refugees from Syria. Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf and Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe both, Democrats, however, have said their states will continue accepting refugees.

Colorado Republican U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton said in a statement today he wants to stop refugees from Syria from entering the United States.

President Barack Obama said the United States would continue to accept refugees and called efforts to screen those fleeing Syria based on their religion “shameful.”

In September, Colorado “was preparing to help” as refugees left Syria and other countries in the Middle East, according to CBS Denver.

In a statement today, Gov. John Hickenlooper makes it clear that nothing has changed:

“A few short days ago we witnessed another senseless act of terrorism. Our hearts go out to the families, friends and loved ones of those lost and injured in Paris, and in other acts of terror around the world. Our first priority remains the safety of our residents. We will work with the federal government and Homeland Security to ensure the national verification processes for refugees are as stringent as possible. We can protect our security and provide a place where the world’s most vulnerable can rebuild their lives.” [Pols emphasis]

As the American Civil Liberties Union notes, the knee-jerk response from some Republican governors against taking in refugees from the war in Syria is, in addition to optically quite troubling, most likely not legal:

For our part, we’re reminded of the example of another governor of Colorado, Gov. Ralph Carr, who in the early days of World War II urged the people of Colorado to welcome and respect Japanese-Americans being transported here by the federal government away from the West Coast. Carr paid for his foresight and equanimity with his political career, but is today remembered as one of our state’s best governors.

Today, Gov. Hickenlooper has spoken out in the finest traditions of a state that has witnessed both great compassion and great intolerance in our history. He deserves not just the gratitude of future Colorado citizens with the benefit of hindsight, but to be heeded now as a voice of reason in difficult times.

Good on you, Governor.

Mike Coffman: All Over The Map on ISIS

Rep. Mike Coffman.

Rep. Mike Coffman.

With last week’s terrorist attack in Paris, France still dominating the news today, we wanted to take a closer look at the statements of Colorado’s foremost member of Congress on matters of foreign policy, Rep. Mike Coffman, and figure out what his position on how best to confront the so-called Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, you know, really is. Over the weekend, Coffman made it clear that he blames the Obama administration in some measure for the Paris attacks:

Looking back at Coffman’s public statements as the civil war in Syria slowly evolved into a multinational war against ISIS, though, it’s a lot harder to understand exactly what Coffman means in terms of the United States failing to show “leadership.” In fact, President Barack Obama has apparently tried to do just that on numerous occasions, but Coffman’s response has consistently been to oppose Obama’s actions–even at the risk of contradicting himself. Back in 2013, Coffman was interviewed by the Denver Post’s Tim Hoover on the subject of intervening militarily in Syria:

On this week’s edition of The Roundup, editorial writer Tim Hoover interviews U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman, R-Aurora. Coffman explains why he has so far opposed military intervention in Syria, calling the conflict an “intractable” and “sectarian” civil war…

In January of 2014, as ISIS began to loom larger than the pariah Syrian government as a threat, Coffman told local radio host Dan Caplis he would not support anything beyond advisors to combat either:

Certainly an advisory role, but certainly not anything beyond that. And that’s if requested. I think we have to be very careful once out about reentering that particular conflict. I would say, in terms of regular troops on the ground, absolutely not.

Then in June of 2014, Coffman again urged President Obama not to send even advisors to assist the Iraqi Army fighting against ISIS:

Today, U.S. Representative Mike Coffman sent a letter to President Barack Obama requesting that he suspend sending any U.S. military personnel to assist the Iraqi Army until the U.S. is successful in putting pressure on the Iraqi government to establish a process of political reconciliation with the disaffected Sunni Arab and Kurdish minority populations in Iraq. Last week, President Obama put forward a plan to send up to 300 U.S. military advisors to assist the Iraqi army and to assess the situation on the ground with the Iraqi army and their ability to fight Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) led opposition forces. Coffman is a Marine Corps combat veteran and is the only member of Congress to have served in both Iraq Wars.

“The only feasible solution is a political reconciliation. Any further U.S. military assistance must be strictly preconditioned on a fundamental change in the Iraqi government, which will send a clear message to both the Sunni Arabs and the Kurds that they will have a voice in the formation of a new government and their respective provinces will receive an equitable distribution of the oil wealth of the country,” wrote Coffman in his letter.

But by September of 2014, Coffman had turned hawkish once again, claiming without much elaboration that President Obama had done “too little” to “take the fight” to ISIS:

“President Bush did too much, getting us involved in a costly and unnecessary occupation, but President Obama has done too little to take the fight to those who seek to do us harm. [Pols emphasis] I agree with President Obama that a political solution is necessary to dismantle ISIS and know how hard that will be from my time in Western Iraq with the Marine Corps in 2005 and 2006. But we have ignored this threat for far too long. We cannot continue leading from behind.”

A day later, Coffman appeared to contradict himself once again in an interview with Bloomberg News:

“There has to be a political solution; there’s not a military solution alone for this,” Representative Mike Coffman, a Colorado Republican, said in an interview today with Bloomberg Television. He said he doesn’t support U.S. troops on the ground.

By February of this year, though, Coffman was changing his tune again. Are we the only ones who smell an “evolving” position that is consistent only insofar as it is inversely proportional to the Obama administration’s position?

Certainly, as an Iraq war veteran, I wouldn’t want to see U.S. forces on the ground as the maneuver ground element. I want I want to see indigenous forces on the ground, but we’re going to need special operators from time to time to take out high-value targets. We are going to need to give them air logistical and advisory support, and that is going to take some elements of boots on the ground. [Pols emphasis]

Bottom line: what we see from Coffman in his “evolution” on confronting ISIS is not a well thought-out process, but an opportunistic game meant to oppose whatever the Obama administration supports at any given time. There is no question that Coffman has opposed taking military action against ISIS in the past, even opposing reinforcing the Iraqi government with American advisors as you can plainly read above. If Obama announced today, for example, that he was sending more advisors to help the Iraqis fight ISIS, it’s easy to see Coffman going right back to complaining.

Because Coffman’s statements appears to only be consistent in that they oppose Obama. There’s nothing you can extract from Coffman’s own statements on this issue that even look coherent, let alone like “leadership.”

As much as any other angle, that should be the story whenever Coffman opens his mouth.

These People Won’t Be the Next Lieutenant Governor of Colorado

But can the next Lt. Governor do THIS?

But can the next Lt. Governor do THIS?

Last week’s surprise news that Colorado Lieutenant Governor Joe Garcia will soon resign from office has led to some natural speculation about Garcia’s potential replacement. Governor John Hickenlooper will reportedly name a replacement LG sometime within the next few weeks, and that person will need to be confirmed by a highly-partisan Colorado legislature.

Aside from being the next person in line to serve as Governor in the event that the big office is vacated before the next election, we couldn’t tell you a whole lot about what the LG actually does on a daily basis. We could tell you even less prior to 2010, when Hickenlooper expanded Garcia’s role by also naming him head of the Colorado Department of Higher Education. The LG’s office has not historically been a stepping stone to…anything in Colorado politics

The Colorado Statesman is running a couple of online polls speculating about the next name to get the LG title (here’s Poll 1, and here’s Poll 2). While we haven’t heard much about who might get the nomination from Hickenlooper, there are a few names from the Statesman polls that we can probably already cross out.

If Hickenlooper chooses an LG from the ranks of the state legislature, there are three Democratic lawmakers in the Statesman polls that can probably go ahead and cross themselves off of any list: State Rep. Crisanta Duran, and State Senators Linda Newell and Angela Williams. 

Back in May 2015, Duran, Newell, and Williams all signed onto a letter to Gov. Hickenlooper stating that they had “lost confidence” in the leadership at the Department of Human Services and urging Hickenlooper to make leadership changes at DHS. We’re not going to use this space to debate the relative policy merits of the DHS letter; from a political perspective, you’re not earning points with your Party’s own Governor when you publicly sign your name to a letter questioning his decision making.

Linda Newell, Crisanta Duran, and Angela Williams

Linda Newell, Crisanta Duran, and Angela Williams

This would hold true in any state, or any organization, for that matter. When you give somebody in your professional circle a public wedgie, you probably shouldn’t hold out any hope that you might get a big promotion 6 months later.

On the flip side, it makes sense that state Sen. Mike Johnston would be on the Statesman’s list of potential LG candidates. Johnston and fellow Democrat Millie Hamner are two high-profile legislators who did NOT sign onto the DHS letter last spring. If you are Gov. Hickenlooper and you’re thinking about who to select as your Lt. Governor, you’re probably going to start your search with people whose support you don’t need to question. That’s not just politics — that’s human nature.

It’s possible — perhaps even likely, given recent historical trends — that Hickenlooper will pick a Lt. Gov. who is not a sitting legislator. Both Garcia and Barbara O’Brien, Gov. Bill Ritter’s LG, were working outside of state government when they were selected as running mates. But if Hick does decide to go with someone already under the Gold Dome, it’s going to be a Democrat — and it’s going to be somebody Hickenlooper knows will stand behind his decisions.

Get More Smarter on Monday (Nov. 16)

GetMoreSmarter-SnowYes, we know you feel itchy and burning; it’s still not plantar fasciitis. It’s time to Get More Smarter with Colorado Pols. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example).



► In the aftermath of the Paris terrorist attacks, Republicans in Colorado and throughout the country are going bananas with fear mongering. President Obama spoke out against calls to prevent Syrian refugees from emigrating to the United States, as the New York Times reports:

Mr. Obama grew especially animated in rebuffing suggestions by some Republican presidential candidates, governors and lawmakers that the United States should block entry of Syrian refugees to prevent terrorists from slipping into the country.

“The people who are fleeing Syria are the most harmed by terrorism; they are the most vulnerable as a consequence of civil war and strife,” Mr. Obama said. He added: “We do not close our hearts to these victims of such violence and somehow start equating the issue of refugees with the issue of terrorism.”

Without naming him, Mr. Obama singled out a comment by former Gov. Jeb Bush of Florida, one of the Republicans seeking to succeed him, for suggesting the United States focus special attention on Christian refugees. “That’s shameful,” Mr. Obama said. “That’s not American. It’s not who we are. We don’t have religious tests to our compassion.”

Back here in Colorado, Denver-area residents held a gathering of support over the weekend for victims of the terrorist attacks. Colorado universities are reporting that all of its students studying overseas in France are believed to be unharmed.


Texas Senator Ted Cruz may be surging ahead in the race for the Republican Presidential  nomination. Controversial Iowa Rep. Steve King has given Cruz his nod of approval.


► There was a Democratic Presidential debate on Saturday that nobody watched, and the campaigns are griping about the scheduling. We don’t disagree, but how did we ever get this far? Why would you ever schedule anything of importance for a Saturday night television audience?


Get even more smarter after the jump…


Terror Grips Colorado Republicans

eiffel-111415As the world comes to terms with the horrific terrorist attacks on Paris, France this past Friday evening, responses from Colorado Republicans run the gamut from level-headed to…well, not so much. We’ll start with a rare moment of praise for Sen. Cory Gardner, whose statement in the immediate wake of the attacks showed commendable restraint:

“The people of Colorado and the United States stand firmly beside our oldest ally, France. We mourn those lost and pray for their families. And we are united with all Parisians as they unite against this senseless violence.”

Rep. Mike Coffman, unfortunately, couldn’t resist taking a potshot at the Obama administration on FOX News:

From Sen. Laura Woods, set to compete in Colorado’s hottest state senate race next year, more or less full-blown panic:

And don’t even get Jonathan Lockwood of leading local conservative group Advancing Colorado started:

Really, please don’t get him started:

It should be noted that the latter outburst from Lockwood is apparently in response to President Barack Obama arriving a few minutes late for a moment of silence in honor of victims at the G-20 conference in Turkey. To characterize Mr. Lockwood’s reaction to that minor infraction as over the top is a considerable understatement.

It’s not our intention to belittle any genuine shock felt over the terrorist attacks in Paris, which given the nature of events there is to a significant degree completely understandable. We understand that an attack of this magnitude will certainly be a factor in many debates about American policy, and the role of Colorado politicians in shaping that policy. The number of current stories this event affects that we’ve been talking about in this space range from the debate over the threat posed by ISIS to the transfer of detainees from the Guantanamo Bay prison to facilities in Colorado.

But there is some rhetoric that, we should all be able to agree, simply does not help anybody.