Democrats Call Out Beauprez’s “47% Moment”

A press release from Colorado Democratic Party chairman Rick Palacio this morning:

"Clearly Congressman Beauprez thinks he's better than Colorado's seniors, veterans, firefighters, students and hard-working families in our great state," Palacio said. "Instead of apologizing for his ridiculous and derisive comments, Congressman Beauprez stood by his remarks claiming that half of the population are freeloaders who are "perfectly happy" that someone else is paying the bill," said Colorado Democratic Party Chairman Rick Palacio.

There are lots of politically self-destructive on-record moments for Bob Beauprez awaiting publicity, and although we've discussed a few of them in this space, the majority of that material has not been seen by Colorado voters. Democrats are right to zero in on Beauprez's "47% speech" early, given the similarity of his remarks to those made by Mitt Romney during the 2012 presidential campaign. For Romney, this was a gaffe from which his campaign arguably never recovered, and in hindsight was probably his fatal mistake. It's just too easy, as Colorado Democrats show in this video, to alienate such politicians from ordinary voters by explaining how, whether they realize it or not, they are either part of that 47% or know someone who is.

Once that sinks in, it's easy to make the case that Beauprez–like Romney–doesn't have their best interests at heart.

Friday Open Thread

"The difficulty lies not so much in developing new ideas as in escaping from old ones."

–John Maynard Keynes

Steve King Running Out of Timecards to Punch

State Sen. Steve King (R), man of many time cards.

State Sen. Steve King (R), man of many time cards.

Republican State Sen. Steve King officially withdrew from the race for Mesa County Sheriff on Tuesday, a decision that had become largely unavoidable and may end up being just the beginning of a larger investigation. As the Denver Post reports, King has yet to explain how he was able to juggle three different government jobs at the same time:

The investigation now includes timecards for his work as acting coordinator of campus security and training at Colorado Mesa University from July 2012 to December 2013.

Timecards show King worked as many as 194 hours a month at the university while also working as a Republican state senator and working part-time at the sheriff's office. He had been an investigator for the sheriff's office before he was elected to political office as a representative for District 54 in 2006 and then as a senator for District 7 in 2010.

While those of you outside of the Grand Junction area may not be particularly interested in who becomes the next Mesa County Sheriff, King's sloppy shenanigans may yet ensnare more public officials. For years officials at Colorado Mesa University (formerly Mesa State University) have been suspected of providing a safe landing spot — or a place to cool their heels until the next campaign — for Republicans such John Marshall, Bob Beauprez's campaign manager in 2006, as well as various family members and friends of former State Sen. Josh Penry.

It's telling that the editorial board of the Grand Junction Sentinel didn't mince words in saying good riddance to King:

That’s not even taking into account an ongoing criminal investigation by a special prosecutor. The 18th Judicial District Attorney’s office is looking at whether King committed any crimes while he was employed by three different publicly funded entities: the state Legislature, the Mesa County Sheriff’s Office and Colorado Mesa University. The Sentinel’s examination of King’s timecards and claims for reimbursement paints a troubling picture, to say the least…

…With the criminal investigation hanging over his head, it’s doubtful King will ever hold another government job. But that’s the least of his worries. We’re just glad he’s dropped his bid to be our next sheriff.

We've no doubt that King's time-card shuffle was making a lot of Republicans nervous as it drew more attention to the practice of hiring so many "at-will" positions at Colorado Mesa University. King's withdrawal from the sheriff's race may end this particular line of questioning, but his candidacy in general may have opened a few doors that were intended to remain closed.

Democrats Outraising Republicans 5-1 in Key House Races

Earlier this week we took a look at the bizarre string of late-entry and replacement candidates that Republicans have fielded in a number of key State House races. In order to gain control of the State House, Republicans need to win at least 5 seats this fall — without losing any incumbent legislators — which is a mountain that may be too tall for the GOP to climb in 2014.

As a Colorado Pols analysis of fundraising results in key House districts shows, Democrats are raising significantly more money in competitive House districts compared to their Republican counterparts. We took a look at 12 of the top House districts (you can argue that your list of top races would look a little different, but you get the point), and through July 1, 2014, Democrats had raised more than $500,000, while Republican candidates combined for just a tad more than $100,000.

While so-called "soft money" from third party groups, PACs, and other special interests will certainly get involved in many of these House races, the disparity in fundraising is quite stunning. Take a look at the chart below — there is not a single Republican candidate who has raised even close to the totals compiled by their Democratic counterparts.

GOP-House-Fundraising3-2

Gardner says Udall “trying to distract voters” with issues that aren’t “top of mind”

(Do men care about it? No? Okay then. – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Rep. Cory Gardner (R).

Rep. Cory Gardner (R).

On a Denver radio show over the weekend, GOP senatorial candidate Cory Gardner accused his Democratic opponent, Sen. Mark Udall, of “trying to distract voters” by spotlighting Gardner's stances on abortion and contraception, which "aren't top of mind for people."

I would have enjoyed hearing Gardner say that to room full of women, but, alas, Gardner's words fell on talk radio, which skews male and old. And Craig Silverman, who hosted the KNUS 710-AM show on which Gardner made the comments, didn't offer any words of rebuttal, from himself or any critic, male or female.

A response from a Planned Parenthood representative–or anyone–from Texas, where new anti-choice laws will reduce the number of abortion clinics to eight statewide by Sept. 1, might make a particularly good radio debate on this topic.

As I reported today on RH Reality Check about Gardner's comment that Udall is “trying to distract the voters with issues that, quite frankly, aren’t top of mind for people:”

Gardner’s statement reflects comments he made during his first congressional campaign in 2010, when he defeated Betsy Markey, a pro-choice Democrat trying to hold her seat in a Republican-leaning congressional district.

In response to Markey’s attacks on his hardline anti-abortion positions, including his support of Colorado’s failed “personhood” amendment in 2008, Gardner said at the time, “Right now the only person talking about social issues in this campaign is Betsy Markey.” He promised reporters not to pursue an anti-abortion agenda if elected to Congress.

After winning the election, however, Gardner co-sponsored bills to redefine rape, defund Planned Parenthood, and to define a “person” in the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution to include all human development, beginning at the fertilized egg (zygote) stage.

Video: Hickenlooper Plays The Banjo at Red Rocks

hickbanjo

From last night's concert of Old Crow Medicine Show at Red Rocks Amphitheater. Did you know Gov. John Hickenlooper could play the banjo? Because we didn't.

Love him or not, you've got to admit that's pretty cool.

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

Mark Udall, Cory Gardner.

Mark Udall, Cory Gardner.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Local Control Special Session Officially Dead; Voters To Decide

Photo courtesy Rep. Jared Polis

Photo courtesy Rep. Jared Polis

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Undaunted, Rep. Polis announces he is moving ahead:

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

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

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

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

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

Lakewood City Council Punts on Pot; Question Goes to Ballot

As the Denver Post reports, the Lakewood City Council voted 7-4 on Monday to ask voters to decide on whether to allow retail marijuana stores…even though voters have already made their voice clear on this issue:

In a room packed with opponents of any retail marijuana operations, Ward 1 Councilwoman Ramey Johnson warned that marijuana is a $1 billion a year industry and the "gates of hell will open" with outside money influencing Lakewood voters on the November ballot question.

Lakewood voters approved Amendment 64, which legalized marijuana possession and allowed for retail sales, 60-40 in 2012…[Pols emphasis]

Mayor Bob Murphy said he voted "no" on Amendment 64.

He supported the November ballot question and said it would answer once and for all the will of the voters: Were they voting strictly for recreational use with no desire for retail stores? Or were they saying "yes" to both?

"All we're doing is asking voters, and that's democracy," Murphy said. "And in my opinion, that's what we were elected to do. I think it's our duty to clarify the issue with voters."

Monday's discussion by the Lakewood City Council reminds us of using a credit/debit card to buy groceries or other items; how many times do you need to answer "Are You Sure?" before you can sign the receipt and be on your way?

Obviously there is a generational gap related to this discussion in Lakewood — witness Ramey Johnson's ridiculous hand-wringing about "industry" lobbyists — but it's disingenuous for the city council to punt on an issue that they are elected to make decisions about. Whether or not you agree with Amendment 64, the issue has already been decided by voters and should not be going to the ballot again. Lakewood's City Council should be working on implementing Amendment 64, not on asking voters if they were really, really, really sure that they want recreational marijuana sales in Lakewood. With respect to Lakewood Mayor Bob Murphy, putting questions on the ballot is absolutely not the primary job of the city council, nor should it be. Putting this issue on the ballot in November is a waste of time and money; if the vote comes back largely in favor of recreational marijuana, which is likely, then this entire exercise will have been pointless.

This non-decision is particularly absurd when you consider that nearby cities such as Denver, Wheat Ridge, Mountain View, and Edgewater are already moving forward with retail marijuana operations. To whatever extent there may be a negative impact on the community from recreational marijuana sales, restricting it from Lakewood is not going to keep it out of Lakewood. The only thing that Lakewood would not receive is tax revenue from recreational marijuana sales; residents of Lakewood who want to buy marijuana will just drive a few more miles and then bring their purchase back home.

There are certainly plenty of people who disagree with the idea of legalizing marijuana, but that ship sailed a long time ago. The Lakewood City Council should be working on implementing the law instead of asking the same questions again and again.

Gardner Defends Federal “Personhood” By Making Stuff Up

UPDATE: Media critic Jason Salzman arrives at the same conclusion.

The Life at Conception Act aims to redefine the definition of a person in the Fourteenth Amendment, and apply the 14th Amendment’s protections to zygotes, hence banning all abortion, even for rape, as well as common forms of birth control that endanger, or even potentially endanger, fertilized eggs. It would give legal protections to fertilized eggs. In a word, personhood.

Reporters should not let Gardner, or his spokespeople, mislead the public about the aim of the federal personhood bill that he co-sponsored last year. [Pols emphasis]

—–

Rep. Cory Gardner (R).

Rep. Cory Gardner (R).

The Denver Post's Mark Matthews buries the lede in today's story about the issue of birth control in the U.S. Senate race, but nonetheless delivers a bombshell. After weeks of attacks, GOP U.S. Senate candidate Cory Gardner finally attempts to defend his continued sponsorship of the federal Life at Conception Act in Congress after having disavowed his longstanding support for the "Personhood" abortion ban initiatives in Colorado:

Gardner supported personhood in Colorado, but he said in March that he no longer backed the approach — calling it a "bad idea" because of the "fact that it restricts contraception."

…Not that Udall's campaign is letting him off the hook. They point to Gardner's continued sponsorship of similar personhood legislation in Congress as evidence his views haven't changed.

In response, a Gardner spokesman said the federal bill is different than the Colorado initiatives. "The federal proposal in question simply states that life begins at conception, as most pro-life Americans believe, with no change to contraception laws as Senator Udall falsely alleges," Siciliano said. [Pols emphasis]

We're pretty sure that Gardner's spokesman just badly screwed his boss. Let's compare, as we have in the past, the language of the federal Life at Conception Act abortion ban legislation and the Colorado Personhood intiatives. H.R. 1091's pertinent language reads like this:

The terms "human person" and "human being" include each and every member of the species homo sapiens at all stages of life, including the moment of fertilization, [Pols emphasis] cloning, or other moment at which an individual member of the human species comes into being.

And here's the text of 2008's Amendment 48, the Colorado Personhood abortion ban ballot measure:

Person defined. AS USED IN SECTIONS 3, 6, AND 25 OF ARTICLE II OF THE STATE CONSTITUTION, THE TERMS "PERSON" OR "PERSONS" SHALL INCLUDE ANY HUMAN BEING FROM THE MOMENT OF FERTILIZATION. [Pols emphasis]

As anyone who has followed this issue knows, it is the language conferring rights from "the moment of fertilization" that would have the additional consequence of outlawing certain commonly used forms of birth control–the ones the pro-life community considers "abortifacient." This is the "unintended consequence" Gardner cited when he told reporters he had abandoned his prior support for the Colorado Personhood measures. Despite that, Gardner remained a sponsor of the Life at Conception Act in Congress, and today we finally learn that he has no intention of removing himself as a sponsor.

The problem is simple: Gardner is making a distinction that does not exist. There is nothing in the language of the Life at Conception Act that would treat birth control differently than the Colorado Personhood initiatives. Either Gardner doesn't realize that, in which case he looks clueless, or he does realize it–and is hoping to lie his way out of an irreconcilable contradiction.

Folks, we don't think Gardner is clueless.

Whiplash: New Q-Poll, Beauprez 44%, Hickenlooper 43%

hickskydive

After yesterday's poll from NBC/Marist reassured Colorado Democrats with apparent growing leads in the gubernatorial and U.S. Senate races, a new poll out from Quinnipiac University today restores a healthy sense of fear:

Despite stronger voter optimism about Colorado's economy than found in many states, the race for governor is tied, with 43 percent for Democratic incumbent John Hickenlooper and 44 percent for former U.S. Rep. Bob Beauprez, the Republican challenger, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released today. 

Voters give Gov. Hickenlooper a split job approval rating, with 48 percent approving and 46 percent disapproving, compared to a 52 – 39 percent approval rating in an April 23 survey by the independent Quinnipiac (KWIN-uh-pe-ack) University. 

Hickenlooper does not deserve reelection, voters say 48 – 42 percent, down from a positive 47 – 43 percent support in April. 

The gender gap is wide today as men back Beauprez 48 – 37 percent, while women back Hickenlooper 48- 40 percent. Hickenlooper leads 90 – 4 percent among Democrats, while Beauprez takes Republicans 86 – 7 percent. Independent voters are divided with 41 percent for Beauprez and 40 percent for Hickenlooper. 

In another split, 43 percent of voters have a favorable opinion of the governor, with 42 percent unfavorable, down from 51 – 37 percent favorable in April. Beauprez gets a 31 – 25 percent favorability rating, with 43 percent who don't know enough about him to form an opinion, compared to 52 percent who didn't know enough about him in April.

Clearly a significant move from Quinnipiac's last poll of the Colorado gubernatorial race, when Gov. John Hickenlooper was beating Bob Beauprez by a comfortable nine-point margin. But what's the reason? Speculation we've heard ranges from consolidation of support for Beauprez among conservatives after the primary to fresh negatives for Hickenlooper from his gaffe-laden comments to county sheriffs about the gun safety bills passed last year.

Looking ahead in this race, though, we see major problems for Beauprez in the very large percentage of voters who don't know enough about him to form an opinion. That vacuum is going to get filled, and there's a vast body of highly damaging material on Beauprez to fill it with–as we've been reporting in this space for months. It's arguable that the only reason Beauprez appears competitive today is that Beauprez's record has not been reported accurately by the press so far–witness the ridiculous story right after the primary in the Denver Post about what a "mainstream moderate" Beauprez is. Once the public learns about Beauprez's civil war rhetoric, his "birther" speculation about President Barack Obama, the "hoax" of climate change, his Tom Tancredo-style immigration views, and much more–it remains our view that Beauprez has nowhere to go in this race but down.

To ensure that outcome, it's time for Democrats to take the gloves off. 

Thou Doth Protest Too Much, Cory Gardner

A hard-hitting new ad from the Senate Majority PAC, targeting U.S. Senate candidate Cory Gardner's longstanding support for banning abortion even in cases of rape or incest, is provoking an outraged response today from Gardner's campaign:

Senator Udall took his campaign to a disgusting new low today as he watched one of his top supporters spread malicious lies about Cory Gardner in a new television ad. Senate Majority PAC, which has run numerous false and misleading ads against Cory, is once again broadcasting more dishonest attacks.

“After nearly 20 years in politics, Senator Udall should be ashamed to stake the last stage of his career on a blatant falsehood,” campaign spokesman Alex Siciliano. “This ad is outrageous and makes multiple false claims…"

In a separate release, Gardner surrogate Sen. Ellen Roberts (R-Durango) responds similarly:

“There is such a thing as going too far in political advertising and Senator Udall and his allies have done it in this new ad. Rape victims should not be used as a political football and the fact that Senator Udall and his allies are content with exploiting rape victims to win reelection should cost him the support of women for using tragic circumstances as a tool for his gain. This ad lies about Cory Gardner three times in thirty seconds and uses the word ‘rape’ five times to lie about the Congressman’s record. It’s extremely disappointing to see a Senator from Colorado and his allies resort to these shameful and divisive tactics in an attempt to further his political ambitions. The ad should be removed from Colorado’s airwaves immediately.”

Gardner's campaign asserts "multiple" false claims in the ad, but the only claim they actually attempt to refute is the line about Gardner having sought to "redefine rape to mean only forcible rape." This claim refers to Gardner's cosponsorship of the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act in 2011. Politifact rates a similar claim made by Rep. Gwen Moore as "Mostly False." Here's what Politifact concludes, and you can judge for yourself:

Moore said House Republicans "tried to change the definition of rape."

Her statement contains an element of truth, in that GOP members sought to change when federal money for abortions could be used in cases of rape, by using the term "forcible rape."

But the claim ignores critical facts that would give a different impression — the House Republicans’ effort was not to change the definition of rape, per se, but rather to restrict the use of federal funds in abortions.

We find this interpretation overly charitable to Republican sponsors of the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act, since they most certainly were trying to change the meaning of the term "rape" in existing law–to require the rape to be "forcible" in order to be eligible for abortion funding. As the ad says, that would mean many rape victims would not be considered victims for the purposes of abortion funding. But since Politifact decided this claim is dubious, and we have generally considered Politifact to be authoritative, we're obliged to note all of this for the record.

With that said, Sen. Roberts' claim that this ad "uses the word ‘rape’ five times to lie about the Congressman’s record" is plainly meant to deceive. The ad talks about Gardner's longstanding support for banning abortion even in cases of rape or incest. Other than Roberts' misleading attempt to attribute all use of the word "rape" to the one claim about H.R. 3 the Politifact story deals with, Gardner's campaign makes no attempt to refute that allegation.

The reason is simple: it's true. Gardner has consistently supported banning all abortion, even in cases of rape or incest, throughout his political career. No amount of surrogate outrage and semantic misdirection can change that. Knowing that helps explain the increasingly shrill response from Gardner's campaign, intended to provoke an emotional rejection of the claim before the audience ever gets the chance to think about it.

Once they do, as the polls show, Gardner has a big problem.

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