Friday Open Thread

“Being slightly paranoid is like being slightly pregnant–it tends to get worse.”

–Molly Ivins

Ryan Frazier is Running for Senate, For Some Reason

UPDATE #2: Local conservative blog Colorado Peak Politics is very excited about the diversity of the growing field of GOP Senate candidates–perhaps a bit too much so? Their post on Ryan Frazier’s entry into the race originally stated:

Republicans now have recruited two blacks, [Pols emphasis] one Hispanic, a woman (maybe), and a fresh face (maybe)…

Since edited to read:

Republicans now have recruited two black guys, [Pols emphasis] one Hispanic, a woman (maybe), and a fresh face (maybe)…

We assume because we stopped referring to African-Americans as “the blacks,” you know, several decades ago. This is the same blog that assigned the label “Hispanic” to a candidate from Calcutta, India last year, so we guess this racial stuff just isn’t their strong suit.

We’re happy they’re happy, though.


Who has one thumb up and no chance at winning a U.S. Senate race? This guy.

Who has one thumb up and no chance at winning a U.S. Senate race? This guy.

UPDATE: This is Ryan Frazier in a nutshell. His campaign announcement video says that “after nearly 8 years, Senator Michael Bennet has only made things worse for you.”

Um, Bennet was appointed to the U.S. Senate in 2009. Math is not our best subject, either, but we’re pretty sure that 2015 minus 2009 equals not eight.


Politics is often a discussion about possibility and potential, largely because there are so few certainties that we can rely upon in our arguments.

And then there is Ryan Frazier.

The former Aurora city council member has reportedly decided to enter the Republican field for U.S. Senate in 2016, telling 9News that he will kick off his campaign with a video announcement on Thursday.

It would be hard to get too excited about his candidacy if you are a Republican, because we already know what happens when Frazier runs for higher office: He loses, badly. Frazier’s last two campaigns (CD-7 in 2010 and Aurora Mayor in 2011) both ended with double-digit losses, and 2010 was a very good year to be a Republican candidate.

Colorado Pols first reported back in August that Frazier was having discussions about a potential Senate run, but we were skeptical that he might really jump in the race; we didn’t think we’d ever see Frazier running for another office after his second consecutive drubbing in 2011. Here’s what we wrote back on Aug. 12 when we first heard that Frazier might be considering a run for Senate:

We don’t have many details on the “Frazier for Senate” rumor, but in some ways, it almost doesn’t even matter if the story is true or not. If anybody is seriously considering getting behind Frazier in 2016, it is a clear indication that Republicans are essentially conceding the seat to incumbent Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet.

Late last month, Frazier left his part-time “political analyst” position at 9News because he was apparently getting serious about the Senate race, but even then we had a hard time taking the story too seriously. Ryan Frazier is not good at running for office, and we doubt he could even win a Primary against state Sen. Tim Neville. Check that — Frazier will not beat Neville in a GOP Primary.

It is unclear who exactly is behind the idea of a Frazier campaign for Senate, but this isn’t going to end well for him.

Gitmo: How the Denver Post Endorses Against Itself

(We couldn’t have said this any better – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

UPDATE: Liberal group ProgressNow Colorado calls on all sides to step up and do what needs to be done to close Gitmo:

“Our nation’s reputation as a moral leader in world affairs has been severely damaged by the illegal imprisonment without trial of hundreds of people rounded up by the Bush administration in the months after the 9/11 terror attacks,” said ProgressNow Colorado executive director Amy Runyon-Harms. “Closing the Guantanamo Bay detention center was a campaign promise made by President Obama eight years ago, and it’s the right thing to do today. Colorado already has some of the world’s worst terrorists imprisoned at the Supermax facility in Florence. There is no greater danger to Coloradans from transferring Gitmo detainees to our state, and we [have] so much to gain from doing away with one of the worst examples of abuse of basic human rights in American history.”

“Republicans attacking the President for trying to close Gitmo’s detention center are hoping to cover up an ugly history of torture and imprisonment without trial that they themselves share guilt for,” said Runyon-Harms. [Pols emphasis] “But it is also very disappointing that so few Democrats in Colorado are willing to stand with our President and do our part to end the shame the Guantanamo Bay prison has brought on our nation. As a Coloradan, I am not afraid of doing the right thing to restore America’s good name in the world. It’s time for our leaders on both sides to summon up the backbone needed to close Gitmo–and restore the rule of law to American foreign policy.”


Gitmo detainees.

Gitmo detainees.

When the Denver Post editorialized last September that politicians like Sen. Cory Gardner were fear-mongering on the closure of the US prison in Guantanamo Bay, I remember telling a few liberal friends, who were forwarding the piece around, that one of two things would happen next: 1) the Denver Post would likely file it away and then avert their eyes when Gardner didn’t change course; or 2) the editorial board would figure out a way to give Gardner political cover.

Well look no further than Wednesday’s editorial on Guantanamo to see Option 2 on full display. Every politician who by the Post’s own description had been engaging in “baseless hysteria” and “nonsense” gets one more tsk-tsk before the attention gets turned to the Obama administration for merely considering other options before announcing a plan.

You instantly grasp the intended effect of today’s editorial by the glee with which the Gardner and RNC flacks began promoting the story after it went online late Tuesday. The Post stood silent for nearly two months as Gardner and congressional Republicans jammed the Gitmo issue into the must-pass defense authorization bill, against the Post’s own editorial position, before wading in again after the legislative fight was over.

Sen. Cory Gardner.

Sen. Cory Gardner.

The editorial is a bit of a repeat of a move the Post made last March when they wrapped Gardner across the knuckles in an editorial short for “grandstanding” on the Iran deal by signing an open letter to the mullahs, then inexplicably followed up with a much longer piece the very next day to dismiss the whole controversy as not a big deal.

This is classic “centrism” from an editorial perspective, but timed to give Gardner the outcome he wants. The Post can “deplore” the politicians who blocked Guantanamo’s closure in Congress, but the headline is reserved for the president trying to act. And nothing the editorial board “deplores” ever threatens to affect the process determining the newspaper’s endorsements.


Seize this Opportunity to Reform 1872 Public Lands Mining Law

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Colorado Senator Micheal Bennet joined with several of his counterparts to introduce mining reform legislation that could help avert future events like the Gold King spill.

Lost in election news, perhaps, and over-coverage of the 2016 horse race, there was not enough attention paid to a significant development in the decades-long effort to reform the antiquated law still governing hardrock mining on America’s public lands.

Senator Michael Bennet (D-Colorado) joined his New Mexican counterpart Senator Tom Udall, and others, to introduce legislation that would begin to reform the General Mining Law of 1872 that still governs this activity on public lands. The release from Sen. Bennet’s website states:

Washington, DC – U.S. Senators Michael Bennet (D-CO), Tom Udall (D-NM), and Martin Heinrich (D-NM) along with Senators Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Edward Markey (D-MA) introduced a bill to reform the nation’s antiquated hardrock mining laws. The Hardrock Mining and Reclamation Act of 2015 will ensure mining companies pay royalties for the privilege of extracting mineral resources from public lands.

The recent tragic mishap that led to the spill of acidic mine water into the Animas River has drawn new attention to the legacy left behind from tens of thousands of abandoned hardrock mines around the West.

Gold King mine above Silverton dumped a load of acidic mine waste into Cement Creek and the Animas River, when a colossal error by the U.S. EPA breached the dike holding back the toxic water.

Unlike oil and gas or coal gotten off the public lands, which are subject to royalty fees that go to the U.S. treasury, hardrock mining–which includes uranium, gold, silver, copper, molybdenum, etc.–is not subject to such a payment back to the American people that own the public lands.

And since hardrock mining pays no royalty there are no funds specifically earmarked to address the mess historic mining left behind. The reform legislation will help make sure that taxpayers are not left to pay for cleaning up these abandoned mining sites, as the Senator’s release notes:

The bill helps ensure that taxpayers aren’t on the hook for cleaning up abandoned mines, many of which are continuously leaking toxic chemicals into rivers and streams and have the potential for catastrophic disasters like the recent Gold King Mine blowout. The Gold King Mine accident spilled 3 million gallons of toxic wastewater into the Animas and San Juan rivers, and communities in New Mexico and Colorado are still struggling to recover from the impact to businesses, farms, and local governments.

In 1872 there was bipartisan support to fulfill the “manifest destiny” to complete the settlement and development of the West. In the wake of this mania, tens of thousands of mines now lie abandoned across the American West. And now there are towns and populations settled across the region.


Get More Smarter on Thursday (Nov. 12)

Get More SmarterSo much for that snow. 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).


► Republican Presidential candidate Marco Rubio has been maniacally tap-dancing around the issue of immigration reform, and his latest “position” on the issue is pretty damn far from the Senate legislation that he once drafted in 2013. This is obviously a political problem for Rubio, but as he backs away from his own policy ideas, he’s leaving other Republicans with nowhere to turn. We’re looking at you, Rep. Mike Coffman.

► We might need another clown car. Republican Ryan Frazier is running for U.S. Senate, and fellow Republican Jon Keyser is also close to joining the fracas. Neither candidate can likely defeat state Sen. Tim Neville in a GOP Primary.

Meanwhile, incumbent Senator Michael Bennet (D-Denver) met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday. The meeting is significant, because Bennet’s support of President Obama’s Iran policy has caused plenty of tension with the AIPAC crowd.

Get even more smarter after the jump…


Make Room In The Senate Clown Car For Jon Keyser

We heard you need a U.S. Senator?

We heard you need a U.S. Senator?

While the Colorado political world digests the entry today of perennial loser Ryan Frazier into the Republican primary for the 2016 U.S. Senate race, we’ve received word of yet another ambitious small-timer who may throw his hat into the ring. Rep. Jon Keyser of Morrison is reportedly making the rounds with Republican high-rollers in an effort to convince them he is worth backing for a run for the U.S. Senate.

Our readers will remember Keyser from the controversy he stirred up as a House candidate after receiving “two ballots” for the 2013 elections–which he then took to social media to denounce as evidence of a “failed system,” with all the attendant hand-wringing about the horrors of mail ballot election fraud. It soon emerged that Keyser owns a plot of land in Delta County, and the “second ballot” he received was just for a local ballot measure there. It is all but certain in retrospect that Keyser knew all of this, and was eager enough to assist in the GOP’s baseless trolling of Colorado’s new mail balloting system to, you know, completely bullshit people.

As for a run for the U.S. Senate, any backing Keyser might get for this race signals to us a real uncertainty on the part of high-level Republicans on how to proceed. Keyser is well connected to the 17th Street legal/finance class that includes many of the state’s most powerful Republican donors and kingmakers. We don’t doubt his ability to articulate a good case for support, but he’s just not a heavyweight candidate for this marquee 2016 race. Certainly not more than the experienced and grassroots-friendly Sen. Tim Neville, or even a usual suspect like Frazier who at least has a media footprint.

Who’s next, folks? Because Keyser certainly won’t be clearing the field.

Rubio Immigration Tap-Dance Leaves Coffman Stumbling

THURSDAY UPDATE: MSNBC’s Steve Benen talks more about the trouble facing Marco Rubio–and also Mike Coffman:

“In my view, if Republicans nominate for president a candidate who supports amnesty,” Cruz added, ‘we will have given up one of the major distinctions with Hillary Clinton and we will lose the general election – that is a path to losing.”

In fairness to Rubio, it’s worth emphasizing that he dramatically flip-flopped on the immigration issue, betrayed his former allies, and now rejects the very proposals he helped write just two years ago. Maybe that will satisfy Republican voters, maybe not…

Keep in mind, this isn’t just some peripheral issue for many conservatives. A far-right, hard-line stance on immigration is for the Republican base what support for Social Security is for many Democrats – a stance the base simply expects as a commitment to party orthodoxy.

Although Coffman’s hard-line pre-redistricting positions on immigration were a polar opposite to Rubio’s former moderate position, it’s striking how the flip-flopping in both directions on the issue has exposed both men’s vulnerabilities. Coffman’s job of appearing moderate on immigration, while not going so far as to upset his Republican base of support in a swing district, is really not all that different from Rubio laboring to appease the GOP base on an issue he has already “sold them out” on once before.

In both cases voters, albeit different voters, are being asked to swallow big camels and strain gnats–and it may well end with nobody trusting either of them. Original post follows.


Rep. Mike Coffman.

Rep. Mike Coffman.

NPR’s Steve Inskeep reports on the continuing “evolution” of Republican presidential candidate Marco Rubio’s position on immigration reform, which has “evolved” even further in the last 24 hours:

Sen. Marco Rubio clarified his view on the 11 million immigrants, who are in the United States illegally. The day after a presidential debate, which exposed a continuing divide in the Republican Party on immigration, Rubio told NPR on Wednesday that he favors a path to citizenship for some, though the prospect would be very distant.

“If you haven’t been here very long, or you’re a criminal, you will be deported,” Rubio told NPR’s Morning Edition. “Otherwise, you will have to come forward, pass the background check, learn English, pay a fine, because you violated the law, start paying taxes, and you’ll get a work permit. And that’s all you’re going to have for at least a decade.”

Rubio went a step further. “After 10 years on the work permit, I personally am open to — after the 10 years have expired — to allowing people to apply for a green card, just through the normal process that anyone else would use.”

That means Rubio still broadly backs one of the most hotly debated portions of a 2013 immigration bill that passed the Senate overwhelmingly but could not get through the Republican-controlled House. Rubio helped author the legislation, but later dismissed it as politically unsustainable.

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL).

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL).

Rubio’s position on immigration reform has been a famously moving target since 2013, when an immigration reform bill he hammered out with input from both sides of the U.S. Senate was pronounced DOA in the Republican-controlled House. In the face of furious objections from the anti-immigrant wing of the Republican Party, Rubio abandoned the legislation he had previously worked to pass. On the campaign trail as a Republican presidential candidate, Rubio has tried hard to keep up with his opponents’ free-wheeling demagoguery of immigrants while keeping the door open to moderating on the issue for a general election audience Etch-a-Sketch style.

That’s how you get Rubio telling NPR today that he would keep some kind of path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants open, even as he says he would close down President Barack Obama’s DACA program meant to protect thousands of childhood-arrival immigrants from deportation. To be honest, we don’t see how Rubio is going to be able to keep these contradictions from breaking down eventually. But with Rubio trying to position himself as the alternative to the Trump/Carson sideshow that’s presently dominating the Republican primary, he needs to be able to say something.

The real loser in this back-and-forth may not be Rubio, but swing Republicans like Rep. Mike Coffman–who have been dancing between the GOP base’s hard line on immigration, and the needs of a diverse constituency that includes a large immigrant population with and without documentation. Even Coffman’s recent “moderated” opinion on immigration doesn’t go nearly as far as Rubio says today he would. In 2010, Coffman said flat-out that the DREAM Act “would be a nightmare for the American people.” Coffman’s most recent statements about undocumented students and/or military eligible recruits are best described as purposefully confusing, but Coffman certainly has not come out in favor of a path to citizenship for undocumented adults–even a “very long path.”

Up to now, Coffman has been able to use Rubio’s immigration reform bill, more to the point its death, as a means to obfuscate his shifting position on a very delicate issue. The trouble now is that Rubio is under a harsher spotlight then ever before as a presidential candidate, and is going to be forced to spell out clearly once and for all what his agenda on immigration actually is.

And that’s going to leave Mike Coffman with no place to hide.

Poll: Whither To Buy Your Beer and Wine?

grocery-storeThe Your Choice Colorado campaign kicked off last month, hoping to bypass the gridlocked Colorado General Assembly and take a question directly to voters next year to overturn one of Colorado’s last remaining Prohibition holdovers–the requirement that all alcoholic beverages over 3.2% alcohol content be sold in standalone liquor stores. As the Denver Post reports:

A coalition led by retail powerhouses is drafting ballot language to give Colorado voters a chance to decide whether to change Prohibition-era laws and allow full-strength beer and wine sales at supermarkets.

The effort — backed by King Soopers, Safeway and Walmart — is the most substantial push in recent years to expand sales outside liquor stores in one of the nation’s top states for beer.

A direct appeal to voters with a ballot initiative would come after years of gridlock at the General Assembly, where entrenched special interests battled in what lawmakers dubbed a “beer war.”

It’s a bit paradoxical that Colorado, one of the nation’s foremost craft brewing states, does not allow that marquee product to be sold in grocery stores as 42 states already do. On the other hand, small liquor store owners say they do just fine meeting the market’s demand for convenient alcohol sales, and that the effect of allowing full-strength beer in grocery stores will be directly measurable in lost jobs and closed small businesses. We’ve seen conflicting reports as to whether hard liquor would be included in the proposal from grocery stores, but that could be a big factor for existing liquor stores as well.

What say you, Polsters? Vote whether you would support a ballot question legalizing full-strength beer and wine, and/or hard liquor after the jump. As consumers (generally) without a dog in the fight, we’re curious to know what our readers think about an idea that presumably lots of money is about to get thrown at from both sides.


Get More Smarter on Wednesday (Nov. 11)

Get More SmarterHappy Veterans’ Day; or as they call it in Canada, Remembrance Day. 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).


► The fourth Republican Presidential debate of the 2016 election was held last night in Milwaukee. We decided against doing another Debate Diary/Live Blog of the debate because after the Oct. 28 debate in Boulder, we were feeling a bit of debate fatigue. Our friends at “The Fix” examine some of the winners and losers from last night, which by most accounts was fairly lame tame. Republican frontrunner Ben Carson ended up with the least amount of speaking time on stage; conversely, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz manhandled the microphone.

Dan Balz of the Washington Post writes that the Milwaukee debate did succeed in establishing some of the major fractions that currently exist among Republican voters and activists:

One fault line underscored the frustrations of many grass-roots activists, who long for a nominee who espouses small-government conservatism without apology and who think they have lost the past two elections because their nominees were unable to do that.

The other fault line reflected the desire among conservatives for a tough stance against illegal immigration and the unease among mainstream Republicans that such policies will prevent the party from attracting more Hispanic votes and potentially doom them to defeat in 2016.

There were no clear winners, at least not so much as in the earlier debates, in part because there were strong moments for many of the candidates, as one after another grabbed for the spotlight.

The Republican Presidential candidates are scheduled to debate once more before the end of the year, on Dec. 15 in Las Vegas.


► State Sen. Laura Waters Woods is expected to be the top incumbent target for Democrats in 2016, and the Democratic Senate Campaign Fund is up with an early cable TV ad as part of its plan to take back the SD-19 seat in Arvada.


Get even more smarter after the jump…


Dems Take Aim At Laura Woods on Veterans Day

A press release from the Democratic Senate Campaign Fund on a new ad (above) playing on cable in Senate District 19, the ultra-swing Jefferson County district held by hard-right Sen. Laura Waters Woods expected to play a central role in the Democratic strategy to retake the Colorado Senate in 2016:

The Democratic Senate Campaign Fund (DSCF), an initiative of the Colorado Democratic Party, launched an ad today highlighting State Senator Laura Woods’ hypocrisy on veteran’s issues. The ad was spurred by a recent Woods Facebook post about Veterans Day writing she supports veterans – “I am reminded I owe each veteran a debt I can never repay.” Woods can never repay because she repeatedly votes against veterans.

“Laura Woods does not get to call herself a patriot just because she posts a flag on Facebook or carries a sign in a parade. She’s playing politics with our veterans and it makes me sick to my stomach,” said Korean Era Veteran Dennis Larsen. Larsen explained, “I’m a veteran in Laura Woods’ district, and I want answers. Why has Laura voted against those of us who have put their lives on the line for our country?”

Beginning with Woods’ statement that she refers to herself as a, “liberty-minded patriot,” the ad outlines some of Woods’ harmful votes against veterans. This includes her vote against tax breaks for veterans (HB 15-1181), against in-state tuition for dependents of active duty military members who have attended school in Colorado (HB 15-1215), and her “no” vote on establishing employment services for veterans (HB 15-1030) seeking job training. The ad ends, “Laura Woods. What a hypocrite.”

“Laura needs to explain her record. Why did she vote against the majority of her party and against veterans? What would drive someone to vote for not taxing soft drinks (SB 15-274), but then vote to tax active duty service men and women (HB 15-1181),” said Andrew Short, Executive Director of the DSCF.

It’s a good ad that makes a number of hard-hitting points in rapid succession, and ends with a simple message: “what a hypocrite.” Taking advantage of the seasonal lull in political ads just after the election, it’s actually a very good time to plant messages on low-name ID downballot candidates like Sen. Laura Waters Woods–whose negatives Democrats hope will become her story ahead of 2016’s hottest state senate race.

As just these few votes demonstrate, they’ve got plenty to work with.

Get More Smarter on Tuesday (Nov. 10)

Get More SmarterIf you have been spending a lot of time being concerned about holiday coffee cups at Starbucks, you might want to try pouring the hot liquid over your head. 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).


► Republican Presidential candidates will square off in yet another debate tonight in Wisconsin at the Milwaukee Theater. The Theater — formerly the Milwaukee Auditorium — is the same venue where former President Teddy Roosevelt famously delivered a 90-minute campaign speech after being shot in the chest by a would-be assassin on Oct. 14. 1912.

Presumably none of the Republican candidates will be speaking tonight with a bullet lodged in their ribs (although you never know with Ben Carson). Neil Cavuto, one of tonight’s moderators from Fox Business News Channel, is warning candidates not to look like “whiners and babies” — a clear reference to the complaining that occurred before, during, and after the Oct. 28 CNBC debate in Boulder.

The big debate starts at 7:00 p.m. (MST), with a four-candidate “Junior Varsity” debate at 5:00. Chris Christie and Mike Huckabee have been demoted to the “kid’s table” tonight, replacing Lindsey Graham and George Pataki.

Can’t wait for the debate to begin? Cast your own vote in our regular poll about who will be the next Republican to drop out of the race for President.


► Colorado Lieutenant Governor Joe Garcia announced today that he will step down from office sometime before next July in order to begin a new job with the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education in Boulder. Garcia’s decision makes it less likely that he will attempt his own bid for Governor when John Hickenlooper is term-limited in 2018.


Get even more smarter after the jump…


BREAKING: Lt. Governor Joe Garcia Stepping Down

UPDATE: Per Brandon Rittiman at 9News, Hickenlooper’s office expects to name a new L.G. within a matter of weeks:


Lt. Gov. Joe Garcia

Lt. Gov. Joe Garcia

Breaking news this morning from John Frank, Joey Bunch, and Jesse Paul of the Denver Post:

Colorado Lt. Gov. Joe Garcia announced Tuesday he is stepping down from his post to take a new job.

The Pueblo Democrat will become the president of the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education, a Boulder-based organization that serves as a resource for colleges and universities in 15 states. He will transition to the new job sometime before July 1, according to the governor’s office.

In Garcia’s current role as Hickenlooper’s deputy, he serves as the executive director of the Colorado Department of Higher Education.

By all accounts there is nothing at play here other than Joe Garcia’s decision to take his career in a different direction as Governor John Hickenlooper approaches the end of his eight-year term in office. As Hickenlooper himself explains:

Garcia told Hickenlooper about the job opportunity more than a month ago and used the governor as a reference. “He said he wanted a change,” Hickenlooper added. “He cares a lot about higher ed and the job he was offered probably pays double what he makes now and allows him to look at higher education in 15 states. It’s a big deal.”

Hickenlooper has plenty of time to decide on who he will nominate to fill the remaining 18 months of Garcia’s term as Lieutenant Governor (Garcia won’t leave Hickenlooper’s administration until next summer).

It will be interesting to see who Hickenlooper eventually taps as LG, because that person could get a nice head start on a potential run for Governor in 2018. Hickenlooper has always been publicly supportive of a potential gubernatorial bid from Garcia in 2018, though as the Post reports, Garcia’s new career path would seem to indicate that he is not looking at elected office in the near future.