Following in the Footsteps of Losers, GOP Senate Candidate Wants to Axe Dept. of Education

(Harsh, but accurate, headline. — promoted by Colorado Pols)

El Paso County Commissioner Peggy Littleton.

El Paso County Commissioner Peggy Littleton.

Just as Colorado’s GOP State Chair Steve House is telling his fellow Republicans to talk more about education, GOP Senate candidate Peggy Littleton is saying that one of her top priorities if elected would be to abolish the Department of Education.

Asked by KCOL morning host Jimmy Lakey what she’d do if she were the “queen for a day” in the U.S. Senate, Littleton said:

Littleton: I would love to see the Department of Education go away. I don’t want those bureaucrats in Washington to deermine what our kids are going to learn and be able to do and have taken education away from the parents, which is where it originally belongs.” Listen to Littleton on KCOL’s Jimmy Lakey Show 1.26.16

Littleton is following in the footsteps of a list of (mostly) failed Republicans who’ve called for the elimination of the Department of Education. (Usually they don’t talk about the the Department’s job training, grant making, and research functions.)

Rick Perry remembered it during his Ooops Mooment, when he forgot one of the three federal departments he’d shutter.

During his failed U.S. Senate run, Ken Buck called for its closure. So did loser U.S. Senate candidate Jane Norton. Failed Scott McInnis suggested axing it in 2010.

Does Littleton want to be part of that group? Maybe she wants to lose?

When Will Iowa Caucus Results Be Available? Your Iowa Open Thread

ENJOY_IOWAUPDATE: Check these links for the latest results (h/t to longtime Polster “Phoenix Rising“).

Iowa Republican Party Caucus Results

Iowa Democratic Party Caucus Results

—–

Iowa caucus-goers will convene at 7:00 pm tonight (6:00 Mountain Time). Results should start to trickle in soon afterward, depending on the size and turnout at various locations.

The Des Moines Register is probably your best bet for updated results so long as the Internet tubes don’t explode.

For more information on caucus specifics, check this guide from Vox.com.

Please use this thread to discuss the caucus results as they become available, perhaps as soon as 7:00 pm (Mountain Time)

Keyser dodges questions on TABOR and immigration

(Keyser resigned how many days ago? C’mon man… – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

State Rep. Jon Keyser (R-Morrison), sans feet-in-mouth.

Rep. Jon Keyser (R-Morrison).

It what appears to be the first radio interview of his U.S. Senate run, state Rep. Jon Keyser dodged questions on whether he’d like to change TABOR and abolish a state program offering in-state tuition for undocumented college students.

On KNUS 710-AM Saturday morning, host Craig Silverman asked Keyser, “Are you a high tax or a low tax kind of guy? And how do you feel about changing TABOR – the Taxpayer Bill of Rights in Colorado?”

Keyser (@8:35 below): Well, certainly, that’s a state issue, and I’m running for United States Senate, but I am a low tax guy.  I think that the free market economy is something that is always going to work best and the more government, the more regulation that you pile on, the less the business owner – the small business owner, the families – have the ability to be free and make the judgment of how to spend their money the way they want to spend it.

Keyser’s refusal to answer questions on state issues came just five days after he resigned from the state house.

In a series of short questions about policy issues, Silverman asked Keyser, “Should we have in-state tuition for illegal immigrant children?”

Keyser (@7:30 below): You know what?  I don’t think we need to – that’s something that the Colorado voters, I think, have already discussed. But where my focus will be is National security. And Michael Bennet has been terrible on that.  You know, he wants open borders.  I mean, he just recently opposed some very commo- sense legislation to reform our immigration system and that would prevent radical Islamist terrorists from posing and masquerading as refugees coming to our country.

Keyser aligned himself with U.S. Senate Republicans when he told Silverman that Syrians should not be allowed in the U.S. for now because he doesn’t think they can be screened well enough at the present time.

Keyser expressed his opposition to the Iran nuclear agreement negotiated by Obama, which lifted economic sanctions while aiming to stop Iran from developing nuclear bombs.

Keyser said Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet’s vote in favor of the pact shows he “cares more about the Iranian economy than he does about the Colorado economy.” Ouchy.

In response to a question about global warming, Keyser said he thinks “the climate is changing, but the question is, how much, and to what extent human factors are contributing to that.”

Keyser, who also indicated he is for the death penalty but against most abortions, is part of a crowded field of about a dozen Republicans vying to take on Bennet.

(more…)

Dems Roll Priola Over “Family Values” Hypocrisy

priolakidsGOP Rep. Kevin Priola, looking to trade up to the Senate this year in a competitive race to succeed outgoing Democratic Sen. Mary Hodge, did himself no favors last week after requesting a delay in voting on a parental leave bill to take his own child to a doctor’s appointment–and then voting no on the bill.

Priola’s gaffe opened up a line of attack from Democrats and allies that he and Republicans hoping to hold the Senate in 2016 do not need. In a press release from liberal group ProgressNow Colorado today:

“As the parent of a Jeffco public school student, being there for my son’s educational needs is personally important,” said ProgressNow Colorado political director Alan Franklin. “As a fellow family man, Rep. Priola should be able to appreciate the difficulty we face being there for our kids. But not only did Kevin Priola vote against parental leave for school activities, he did so after hypocritically asking to be excused for a child’s doctor’s appointment.”

“It’s just another example of the right wing’s hostility toward the ‘family values’ they claim to champion,” said Franklin. “When families are in conflict with corporate special interests, the ‘party of family values’ leaves the families of Colorado out in the cold. By delaying his vote against parental leave with the excuse of needing to take care of his own children, Rep. Priola exposes hypocrisy much greater than his own.”

The Democratic Senate Campaign Fund sent this statement to us over the weekend with a knock on Priola from Democratic opponent Jenise May:

Representative Kevin Priola who is running for Senate District 25 believes that parents should be able to take unpaid time off from their job for their children, but only if it is for him to spend time with his children. Last week it was reported that a vote on unpaid time off in the House Education Committee was delayed as Rep. Priola had to take his child to the doctor. After taking time off to deal with his family issues, Priola made his position very clear. He and his family are worthy of earning unpaid leave to deal with family issues. However, hardworking Colorado families are not so worthy in Priola’s eyes. On Wednesday, he voted ‘No’ on House Bill 16-1002 in Committee.

This hypocritical behavior did not end on Wednesday. After all of this, Priola then attacked teachers saying that they should “hold parent-teacher conferences on weekends” supposedly to allow for parents to be able to attend, regardless of their work schedule. Not only does this weekend parent teacher conference policy hurt the already overworked and under-paid teachers across the state, but it also would not be necessary if the bill that Priola voted ‘No’ on became law.

Former Representative Jenise May, who is running for Senate District 25 against Priola, said on Friday “It is sad that hardworking Colorado families are not able to take advantage of the same unpaid time off that Representative Priola uses at the Capitol. I knew he would be against any paid leave, but he should understand that many parents are unable to even take one shift off a year to help their children succeed academically.”

This unforced error by Rep. Priola carries more than the usual messaging danger for Republicans, since the parental leave issue plays very well with swing suburban constituencies like the voters of SD-25. Control of the Colorado Senate in the 2016 elections boils down to just a few races, and with Democrats keen to retake the Senate in a presidential year, the margin for error is perilously small.

And folks, this was definitely an error. Priola would have been far better off to simply let the vote proceed, since it would have passed committee with or without his vote. By vividly expressing the hypocrisy of “family values” Republicans opposing actual “family values” proposals, Priola is now the poster child for something voters really don’t like about them.

And that is not good for any politician’s upward mobility.

Get More Smarter on Monday (Feb. 1)

MoreSmarterLogo-SnowmanNo snow day for you…but maybe tomorrow. 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).

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► The Iowa caucuses have arrived at last. To celebrate, we’re holding our own caucus prediction contest with an amazing prize for the winner. Make your picks now.

Elsewhere in Iowa news, The Washington Post tries to answer the annual head-scratcher: Why does Iowa get to vote first? Our friends at “The Fix” provide more clues about the caucuses, including this one: Martin O’Malley may be the most important candidate in the field tonight. And the final Des Moines Register poll — which his been pretty accurate in recent history, is out today.

If polling numbers are accurate, Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton should take first place tonight in their respective Parties. An analysis of political insiders from Politico comes to the same conclusion.

 

► The ginormous Republican field of Presidential candidates may start to dwindle after tonight. As Politico reports, many of the second-tier GOP candidates are running out of money to keep their campaigns afloat:

Jeb Bush’s fundraising juggernaut has run out of steam, Ben Carson’s money machine has cranked down, and Chris Christie and Rand Paul have just a little more than $1 million in each of their campaign bank accounts.

On the eve of the Iowa caucuses, the candidates lifted the veil on their operations’ financial health as of the end of last year, revealing how some of the White House contenders are now limping along, with time running out for a breakout moment.

 

Get even more smarter after the jump…

Newsworthy and praiseworthy advice from Colorado’s Republican leader

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Steve House.

Steve House.

In a wide-ranging radio interview last week, Colorado GOP Chair Steve House had some newsworthy (and praiseworthy) advice for Colorado Republicans who seek to actually win elections:

  • Don’t just hate Obamacare but focus on solutions.
  • Don’t talk so much about the gun rights and the 2nd Amendment.
  • Talk about education more–but not so much about charter schools.

House’s advice came during a discussion with KFKA 1310 AM’s Stacy Petty about how Colorado Republicans have “got to start thinking a little bit differently on how we talk to people, especially the 490,000 or so unaffiliated or ‘leans right’ voters that we have got to make sure vote Republican, on top of our base in this coming election.”

First, “stop talking at every one of our discussions about the 2nd Amendment,” said House, adding that “we own that issue” and Democrats want Republicans fixating on it.

“You know, no matter what happens in the world, we’re not going to give up on our 2nd Amendment,” said House on air. ” We have defenders in RMGO and NRA and our sheriffs and other people.”

“So, what should we be talking about?” asked House, before answering his own question.  “And I suggested we should be talking about education, because I think it’s the number one issue for us as a state, for us as a Party.”

(more…)

Dems Get Tons of Pay Equity Press–Will Republicans Get Smart?

Photo by Colorado House Democrats.

Photo by Colorado House Democrats.

Yesterday, Democrats in the Colorado legislature held a press conference to announce legislation aimed at closing the persistent gap in earnings between men and women in the workplace–a problem that is actually worse in Colorado than many other states, even after Republicans in the Colorado Senate killed the state’s pay equity commission working on solutions for the problem. 9NEWS’ Allison Sylte:

Democrats in Colorado’s legislature introduced a package of bills Thursday aimed at ensuring women are paid equally when they’re doing the same jobs as men…

The Women’s Foundation of Colorado estimates that women in the state make less than 80-cents for every dollar a man makes for the same work.

“We know in recent years the pay gap has closed a bit,” Louise Myrland with the Women’s Foundation of Colorado said. “But at the rate the gap is closing, women won’t achieve equal pay with men until 2057.”

The Denver Post’s Joey Bunch:

As press conferences go, this one was rock solid: A group of House Democrats were joined by women’s groups and small children Thursday to drive home the point that the equal pay issue isn’t going away as long as wages for women lag. The children wore red T-shirts that gave their ages in the 2057, the year advocates say pay for women, at the current rate of gains, will catch up to what men earn…

The Equal Pay in State Contracts Act would require state contractors to comply with equal-pay laws. The bill is sponsored by Reps. Jessie Danielson of Wheat Ridge and Janet Buckner of Aurora.

The Pay Transparency Protection Act bill, sponsored by Danielson and Rep. Joe Salazar of Thornton, would protect workers who share wage information. Reps. Brittany Pettersen of Lakewood and Faith Winter of Westminster are sponsoring the Fair Pay from the Start Act, which would block employers from asking job applicants about their salary history.

7NEWS’ Marshall Zelinger:

“It’s unacceptable that, in 2016, Colorado women of color and our families still have not only less to make ends meet today, but also less for a secure retirement tomorrow,” said 9to5 Colorado State Director Neha Mahajan, in a statement provided to Denver7…

Two of the new bills regarding equal pay don’t actually refer increasing salaries for women. One of the bills, “Extending Pay Transparency Protection To All Employees” protects workers from retribution if they share salary information with each other.

The other new bill, “Fair Pay From The Start” would prevent potential employers from asking your previous salary history. It would require prospective employers to only ask what your salary requirements would be.

You can also read coverage in the Grand Junction Sentinel, Denver’s Fox and CBS affiliates, and the Colorado Independent. Yesterday’s presser at the Colorado capitol was coordinated with the launch of similar legislation promoting pay equity in 20 states–a coordinated initiative organized by the national State Innovation Exchange.

The heavy press coverage of yesterday’s announcement definitely raises the stakes for Republicans in the legislature to give these bills a fair hearing. In the likely event that the bills die, it will fit seamlessly into the narrative on this issue Democrats have been gainfully pushing since the death of the pay equity commission last year. Pay equity joins parental leave, last year’s battle over a highly successful IUD contraception program, and perennial frontal attacks on abortion rights to create a compelling message for women voters–a story that transcends the names down the ballot, and clarifies for voters the bright line that divides the parties.

The best case scenario would be some kind of compromise by Republicans that passes at least some of this legislation. There’s no material downside, and politically it would be a smart way to harm-reduce on issues that hurt them with swing voters in just about every election.

Fat chance, we know. But for the record.

Thanks, Vicki Marble! Immortalizing The “Hateful Eight”

We took note last weekend of an unintentionally hilarious op-ed from staunch conservative GOP Sen. Vicki “Finger Lickin'” Marble in the Colorado Statesman. Marble was responding to a story in the Denver Post on the one-seat Colorado Senate GOP majority, in and particular eight dissident Senators who voted against Senate President Bill Cadman a significant portion of the time. Among other things, this results in a Senate majority that no one can count on to get anything done.

Marble’s op-ed may not be as memorable for its content, a boilerplate defense of the hard-right Senate bloc decried in the Post story–as for its title, wherein she jokingly refers to the eight Senators in question as the “Hateful Eight” after the Quentin Tarantino movie recently filmed near Telluride. We could spend a considerable amount of time explaining why this moniker is politically very, very unhelpful, but we assume readers can figure this out on their own.

But for those who can’t, here’s a visual aid from a reader with Photoshop skills:

hateful8

Safe to say this was inevitable–perhaps only a surprise that it took almost a week to appear! Thanks ever so much for this anonymous graphical donation, which we intend to use in every subsequent mention of the “Hateful Eight” that we can. Given the tendency of these eight Senators to make some of the more…memorable statements and votes from Republicans under the Gold Dome, we suspect it will get a lot of mileage.

Until 2017, when at least of a few of them will no longer be, if you will, in the picture.

BREAKING: Jack Graham Enters GOP Senate Race with $1M and a Wadhams

A visual guide to the Jon Keyser for Senate campaign this morning.

A visual guide to the Jon Keyser for Senate campaign this morning.

The race for the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate just changed in a big way. As Ernest Luning reports for the Colorado Statesman:

Former CSU athletic director Jack Graham is planning to petition his way onto what could be a crowded Republican primary ballot for the U.S. Senate seat held by Democrat Michael Bennet, and he seeded his run with a $1 million deposit to his campaign account yesterday.

Not only is Graham seeding his campaign with a cool million, he’s bringing on former Republican Party Chair Dick Wadhams as his campaign manager.

We’ll admit that we don’t know a lot about Jack Graham politically, but $1 million and Dick Wadhams is more than enough to shake the foundations of the massive GOP field running for U.S. Senate. Wadhams is no longer the feared political operative who guided Wayne Allard and John Thune into the U.S. Senate, but he does give Graham a legitimacy that he otherwise would have had to work hard to establish on his own.

Former Colorado State University Athletic Director Jack Graham

Former Colorado State University Athletic Director Jack Graham

On the fundraising side, seeding his campaign with a million dollars instantly gives Graham a warchest that the 10-12 other GOP candidates may not be able to match. Graham is a former Athletic Director at CSU, and the job of AD at a major university is largely related to fundraising; Graham no doubt has a hefty rolodex that he can consult as he starts dialing for dollars.

Graham’s loud entry into the Senate race changes some of what we wrote just yesterday in assessing the state of the Republican field of candidates. State Sen. Tim Neville is still in the driver’s seat to win the June Primary because, for one thing, he doesn’t really have to worry about getting his name on the ballot. Neville should have little trouble generating more than 30% of the votes at the State Republican Convention (the minimum amount needed for ballot access), and he’s a known and trusted quantity to many in the far-right base of the GOP.

And then there’s Jon Keyser. To borrow a Trump-ism, Keyser just got schlonged.

Keyser was the National Republican Senatorial Committee’s (NRSC) big recruit for the Senate race, and he pushed all of his chips into the center of the table by resigning his seat in the State Legislature as well as his job at a big Denver law firm. Keyser’s campaign got off to an inauspicious start, with questions about campaigning while on military duty and a general  indifference from the media about his chances. The plan was for Keyser to hunker down and raise money — he reportedly had soft offers of support for millions in campaign cash — but Graham, Wadhams, and $1 million may scurry that support in a hurry.

Graham’s entry into the Senate race really changes the math for Keyser. Anybody can try to petition onto the ballot (Graham, Ryan Frazier, and Robert Blaha are already going that route), but it’s a giant pain in the ass and a significant drain on resources, time, and money to go that route. Keyser’s team has already indicated that he will go the petition route, but that assumes that big donors are still onboard with the NRSC’s Keyser experiment following Graham’s bombshell. Remember, there was already a self-funder in the race in Blaha, and Frazier claims to have raised at least $200k, which gives him a good head start on the petition process. Writing a big check to Keyser suddenly looks like a long-shot bet.

Keyser could try to switch strategies and go the convention route, but Republicans don’t really know who he is, and there are — at most — three available ballot spots through the Party. Neville will certainly claim one of those spots, with Peggy Littleton and Darryl Glenn (or someone else) potentially fighting it out for 30%.

With just a few months to go until the June Primary, serious GOP candidates for the U.S. Senate need three things: Ballot Access, Television ads, and enough cash to fuel a staff of at least a half-dozen people. How many Republican candidates can still check all three boxes this morning?

It would seem the only Senate candidate smiling this morning is incumbent Democrat Michael Bennet.

Get More Smarter on Friday (Jan. 29)

Get More SmarterRemember, friends: That Super Bowl party you were invited to attend is next Sunday. 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).

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► The final Republican Presidential debate before the Iowa caucuses was held last night in Des Moines, and the big winner was — of course — the guy who wasn’t there. Here’s a Winners and Losers analysis from our pals at “The Fix”, including the biggest losers:

Ted Cruz: Cruz did the thing I hate the most in debates — complain about the rules — when he tried to game a bit more talking time and got shut down by moderator Chris Wallace. The Texas Senator’s joking threat that if he kept taking incoming from the other candidates he might leave the stage (Donald Trump reference!) fell flat. He was on the wrong end of a scolding by Paul over his conservative righteousness.  And, time and time again, Cruz found himself insisting that on a panoply of issues — military spending, immigration etc. — everyone was either wrong about his position or didn’t understand it well enough. That’s too much defense for Cruz to play — especially in a debate without Trump.

Ben Carson: Whoa boy.  Carson swung from barely being asked any questions to providing answers that often bordered on incoherence. His response to a question about how to deal with Russia simply made no sense — further adding to the narrative that he is far, far out of his depth on foreign policy. At one point, he seemed stunned to even get a question, which isn’t the best look for a guy running to be the leader of a 300-million person country.  Carson looked out of his league tonight.

To be fair, Carson has been out of his league since at least July. Cruz, meanwhile, is getting universally panned for his performance last night, which might give Trump the room he needs to leave Iowa with a big win. From Politico:

More than 4-in-10 GOP insiders – given the choice of the seven GOP candidates on the stage, plus Trump – rated Cruz as the loser of Thursday night’s debate, citing his defensive posture on his past immigration stances and opposition to ethanol subsidies.

 

► Both of the top Democratic candidates for President — Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanderswill speak at the Colorado Democrats’ annual fundraising gala on Feb. 13. The big winner here is obvious: The Colorado Democratic Party.

 

Get even more smarter after the jump…

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