Blaha, Frazier Appeal SOS Ruling, Seek Primary Ballot Access

From Lynn Bartels in the Colorado Secretary of State’s office:

This was an expected move after Republican Senate candidates Robert Blaha and Ryan Frazier were informed by the Secretary of State’s office that they did not have the required number of valid petition signatures in order to be included on the June 28th Primary ballot.

Fellow Republican Senate candidate Jon Keyser filed his own (successful) appeal of a similar decision early last week. Both Blaha and Frazier are probably counting on a district court judge to grant them the same leniency on petition rules.

Jack Graham and the GOP’s Trump Dilemma

thuglifetrumpIn an interview this weekend with 9NEWS’ Brandon Rittiman for Balance of Power, GOP U.S. Senate candidate Jack Graham captures the essence of problem–not just for himself, but any Republican candidate for office running downticket from increasingly presumptive GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump:

Asked if he was trying to have it both ways by simultaneously expressing support and opposition to Donald Trump’s candidacy, Republican U.S. Senate candidate Jack Graham had a simple answer: “Yeah. I would like to have it both ways.” [Pols emphasis]

“…I have said I don’t like [Trump’s] behavior. I don’t respect his behavior,” Graham said. “His conversations about Mexicans, about women, about Muslims, have been unacceptable to me.”

From there, the former NFL player turned candidate quickly pivoted to the flipside, calling Trump his “teammate.”

“He and I are on the same team. We’re both members of the Republican party,” Graham said. “Throughout my career, with teammates, I’ve said we’ve got to tell each other the truth. That’s how you make the team better.”

Jack Graham.

Jack Graham.

Sure it doesn’t make a lot of sense, but this could honestly be the most honest answer we’ve seen from any Republican on Trump’s divisive campaign yet. It’s not objectively possible for a well-adjusted adult to defend the things that Trump has said on the stump, and yet every Republican in America faces the prospect of not just having to excuse Trump’s statements, but to actively support him all the way through November in the likely event he wins the Republican Party’s presidential nomination.

We don’t envy anyone trying to defend their own political aspirations as a member of the Party of Trump™, but the fact remains that they will all have to do it before the end. There are a variety of approaches to this delicate question, from full-throated embrace of Trump’s rhetoric to the more standoffish version of Trump apologetics we’re seeing from Graham.

But as 9NEWS continues, all roads lead to the same end:

Graham characterized Trump as improving in the areas he’s concerned about, referencing Trump’s recent foreign policy speech.

“I do think [Trump has] the capacity to be something different if he in fact is in the White House,” Graham said. [Pols emphasis]

And with that, Jack Graham cashes in his credibility with the November electorate.

But hey, what can he do? He has no choice.

Get More Smarter on Monday (May 2)

Get More SmarterHoly Crap! It’s May? Really? May? 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 June 28th Primary ballot was supposed to have been finalized by the Colorado Secretary of State’s office on Friday, but…lawyers. Republican candidates Robert Blaha and Ryan Frazier joined together to ask a judge to issue an order preventing finalizing the ballot until (at least) Thursday. Both Blaha and Frazier failed to make the Primary ballot through the petition process, but they want more time to figure out how to bend the rules like Jon Keyser did last week (Keyser, you’ll recall, also failed to make the ballot until he got his attorneys to shake their fists at a Denver district court judge).

Confused? Here’s more from the Colorado Springs Independent. You can also check out this Colorado Pols Q&A on the State of the GOP Senate Race.

 

► In a move that was not a total surprise, the Colorado Supreme Court today confirmed that local attempts to “ban” fracking are not fair to the poor oil and gas industry. From Cathy Proctor of the Denver Business Journal:

 The Colorado Supreme Court today upheld decades of state law that places authority over hydraulic fracturing in the hands of state officials, ruling against two cities that tried to block fracking.

The court ruled in a pair of cases that garnered national attention involving voter-approved bans on fracking in Fort Collins and Longmont.

 

► D’Oh! Congressman Scott Tipton (R-Cortez) is reeling from a weekend story in the Denver Post that clearly shows his allegiance to the oil and gas industry over his actual constituents:

A draft bill released this month by U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton is taking heat from activists in the Thompson Divide region because of concerns his proposal to settle a fight over oil and gas drilling was written largely by an energy company that is also Tipton’s largest campaign contributor.

Under the proposal, oil and gas companies with leases in the Thompson Divide could trade their holdings in the wildlife haven for similar plots elsewhere in Colorado — a goal of environmentalists and local leaders who want to keep it free from drilling…

In an interview, Tipton confirmed its origin, and documents obtained by The Denver Post show that Tipton’s draft legislation duplicates — word for word — entire sections of the proposal offered by SG Interests. [Pols emphasis]

Really, Rep. Tipton? You couldn’t even be bothered to move a couple of nouns and verbs around on the bill before you turned it in? Hey, everybody, I’m not even trying anymore!

 

 

Get even more smarter after the jump…

(more…)

Colorado Supreme Court Rules Against Cities on Fracking

UPDATE #2: Rep. Jared Polis sounds like he’s ready to fight:

I am extremely disappointed with the bad decision today to overturn the will of the voters in Longmont and Fort Collins. It’s a blow to democracy and local control,” said Polis.  

“While at least the courts found today that local government land use authority and regulations can coexist with state regulations, the communities being hurt by unregulated fracking are looking to enact stronger measures to protect homeowners, and this case doesn’t help.

Now that the law has been interpreted, it’s up to the state legislature or the people of Colorado to act to protect our neighborhoods and homes. I look forward to continuing to help advocates in these efforts to protect our communities.”

—–

UPDATE: Rep. Mike Foote (D) remains hopeful despite the setback of today’s ruling:

“I’m disappointed that the people of Longmont and Fort Collins will be unable to implement measures that they deemed appropriate to address oil and gas development within their borders,” said Rep. Foote, D-Lafayette, whose district includes part of Longmont. “But a careful reading of the rulings shows that these are actually very narrow opinions. Local governments’ land use authority was reaffirmed, including for oil and gas development.”

Rep. Foote also noted that the court, in the Longmont ruling, did not dispute what it described as “the propriety of local land use ordinances that relate to oil and gas development.”

“Cities and counties may need to modify their approach somewhat,” Rep. Foote said, “but it’s clear that the Court has reaffirmed that local governments do have a seat at the table when it comes to oil and gas development.”

—–

Photo courtesy Rep. Jared Polis

Photo courtesy Rep. Jared Polis

KDVR FOX 31 reporting, a big ruling today that sets the stage for the next battle over oil and gas development along Colorado’s rapidly urbanizing Front Range:

The Colorado Supreme Court ruled Monday that individual cities cannot slow or ban fracking near residents because it’s a matter of state law.

In 2012, Longmont voters voted to ban fracking and in 2013, Fort Collins voters approved a five-year moratorium. The oil and gas industry sued both cities in 2013, and won rulings against Fort Collins and Longmont in summer 2014…

In its Monday ruling, the court said local cities’ attempts to stop fracking is “invalid and unenforceable.”

Conservation Colorado’s Pete Maysmith responds to today’s ruling in a statement:

We’re still evaluating the specifics of these decisions, and the Fort Collins decision appears to be particularly narrow. But, at first glance, they are disappointing.

We believe that good policy-making happens from the ground up and that local communities are best-suited to make decisions about what happens with oil and gas drilling within their borders. Local governments should have the ability to call a timeout on drilling in order to better understand its impacts and ensure safety and public health, just as they are allowed to do with other industries.

We will continue to stand with the communities that are being dramatically impacted by oil and gas drilling. Their concerns have not gone away with today’s rulings.

These decisions also show that the oil and gas industry’s threats of litigation are a hammer that the industry has no qualms about wielding against local governments if they decide to engage in land use planning. In order to combat this hammer, local governments must be empowered with better tools to protect their citizens from heavy industrial drilling.

There’s no question this is a setback for the local communities who sought better control over land use within their boundaries, but the fact is it was not an unexpected ruling. Colorado’s split-estate management of surface and subsurface development rights, a holdover from a era when Colorado was a mineral extraction hinterland and not a burgeoning urban population center, is simply not written to balance the needs and rights of today’s urban populations vs. mineral rights owners.

These local communities who fought back for a better deal knew they were up against long odds under current law. As much as anything, these moves were intended to provoke a statewide discussion on how to better protect neighborhoods, businesses, and schools from a heavy industry with a unique right to run roughshod over local land use authority. The response from the industry, Republican politicians, and yes, many Democrats including pro-energy Gov. John Hickenlooper, has ranged from denial to outright contempt for the concerns of opponents of “fracking” in residential areas. Rather than working toward a solution that acknowledges the problem, supporters of the industry in both parties have brushed off concerns–often offensively–and hid behind the legal status quo.

After today’s ruling, the battle shifts back to the ballot box. We’ll have to wait until August to see what energy ballot measures we’ll be voting on this November, but bigger setbacks between energy development and surface populations and a constitutional statement clarifying local control rights are major possibilities. Energy industry surrogates prefer to steer this debate into extremes like a total ban on “fracking” statewide, from which they can make more effective counterarguments, but more realistic measures may well prove much more popular. If funders like Tom Steyer and Jared Polis decide that 2016 is the year to throw down, today’s ruling against Front Range cities could become the battle cry that changes everything.

Because it’s evident now that something has to change.

Who is Scott Tipton working for? Not you

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

This weekend, a devastating report in the Denver Post confirmed something many in western Colorado already knew: Rep. Scott Tipton is the tool of an oil and gas company that has given his campaign tens of thousands of dollars. Tipton takes his orders from the energy industry–not the citizens he represents in Congress.

Tell Scott Tipton to return SG Interests’ money–and stop letting them write his bills.

The Denver Post reported this weekend that Rep. Scott Tipton introduced legislation regarding a controversial energy development issue in western Colorado which “was written largely by an energy company that is also Tipton’s largest campaign contributor.” [1] The bill leaves out any plan for long-term conservation in the Thompson Divide area. The Post reports that Rep. Tipton admits to taking language for the legislation “word-for-word” from lawyers for the energy company that owns mineral rights in the Thompson Divide.

And it’s the same energy company, SG Interests, that has given almost $40,000 to Rep. Tipton’s campaign. Ordinary citizens in Tipton’s district can’t compete with the industry’s lavish support for Tipton, and the results are obvious. Western Colorado’s representative in Congress answers to the highest bidder.

Send a message to Tipton now: tell him to return SG Interests’ money, and stop letting the oil and gas industry write “his” legislation. We’ll make sure Tipton gets the message.

Thanks for standing up for western Colorado when it matters most.

Powerful Christian-right group aligned with 33 Colorado Republicans against Planned Parenthood

(Must read – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

prolifevsprochoiceThirty-three Republican members of the Colorado legislature joined last year with the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), a national anti-choice and anti-LGBT organization, in demanding the Colorado health department investigate Planned Parenthood, according to a letter released by ADF via Colorado State Sen. Kevin Lundberg’s office.

Considered to be one of the most powerful Christian right organizations in America, ADF is well-known at the Colorado legislature for pushing legislation and testifying in favor of the social-conservative agenda.

But it’s rare to see ADF form a direct alliance with so many legislators, as it did in advocating for a Planned Parenthood investigation.

“I’m not surprised to see ADF branching out into working alongside state legislators,” said Robert Boston, author of Taking Liberties: Why Religious Freedom Doesn’t Give You The Right To Tell Other People What To Do, via an email. “While I’m not aware of efforts on this scale in other states, I do know that ADF has of late been sending unsolicited ‘advice’ to state and local lawmakers concerning issues like the ability of government clerks to refuse service to same-sex couples. The influx of Tea Party-style Republicans in state governments since 2014 has given the group a host of natural allies in the state capitols, and it’s not surprising to see this relationship growing.”

While its work directly with legislators isn’t widely seen, ADF has a longstanding and multi-pronged history of attacking Planned Parenthood, including efforts to defund the health-care organization and to organize grassroots opposition among people and businesses. The organization’s anti-choice and anti-LGBTQ stances are widely documented.

In a 2015 handbook designed to help religious entities discriminate without facing legal repercussions, ADF equates bestiality and incest with being LGBTQ, participating in adultery, and using pornography.

“We believe that God wonderfully and immutably creates each person as male or female,” states the handbook. “These two distinct, complementary genders together reflect the image and nature of God. (Gen 1:26-27.) Rejection of one’s biological sex is a rejection of the image of God within that person.”

The handbook continues: “We believe that God intends sexual intimacy to occur only between a man and a woman who are married to each other. (1 Cor 6:18; 7:2-5; Heb 13:4.) We believe that God has commanded that no intimate sexual activity be engaged in outside of a marriage between a man and a woman. We believe that any form of sexual immorality (including adultery, fornication, homosexual behavior, bisexual conduct, bestiality, incest, and use of pornography) is sinful and offensive to God. (Matt 15:18-20; 1 Cor 6:9-10.)”

ADF, which did not return a call for comment, campaigned in support of a 2003 Texas lawsuit, arguing that it’s “clearly” true that “same-sex sodomy is a distinct public health problem.” ADF has backed efforts to criminalize homosexuality abroad, according to a report by Media Matters for America.

ADF has gained attention more recently for providing legal defense for anti-LGBTQ business owners who refuse to serve same-sex patrons.

“ADF and its allies are attempting to reverse something like 50 years of social progress,” wrote Boston, who serves as communications director for Americans United for Separation of Church and State, a national progressive organization. “They are essentially at war with modernity. Some might argue that this is alarmist, and it won’t happen. But the fact is, reproductive rights have been under constant assault since Roe v. Wade was decided in 1973, and opponents of legal abortion have made a lot of progress.”

In the September 25 letter to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE), GOP lawmakers requested the “standards or criteria that are required to initiate an investigation” of Planned Parenthood, and it asked how a heavily edited video that falsely purported to show illegal dealings in fetal tissue donation would not be investigated.

The video and others like it, part of an undercover series by the anti-choice front group the Center for Medical Progress (CMP), has been discredited and their creators indicted, but the videos have spawned local and national Republican-led hearings and investigations of Planned Parenthood. No evidence has shown Planned Parenthood to have broken any laws.

The ADF letter, which has not been previously reported on, came after CDPHE, in an August 31 letter, rejected a demand by many of the same state legislators to “initiate an investigation” of Planned Parenthood.

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Monday Open Thread

“The trick to forgetting the big picture is to look at everything close-up.”

–Chuck Palahniuk

Another layer of sadness added to depressing situation at Denver Post

Westword’s Michael Roberts reported yesterday on The Denver Post’s announcement  that it plans to offer buyouts another 26 journalists:

If this reduction is realized, the Post’s newsroom will have lost more than a third of its workers in around a year.

As we reported in June 2015, there were approximately 165 newsroom members when the Post announced its previous buyout offer. By the end of that July, twenty people were gone — nineteen voluntarily, one via layoff.

The staff diminution has continued since then. The Denver Business Journal reports that there are about 130 people in the newsroom at present. Take 26 people away from that total and the Post’s newsroom will barely be over the century mark.

Can you imagine the sadness and frustration you’d feel if you worked at The Post right about now? It’s bad enough to watch from the outside.

Former Post Editor Greg Moore told me last month that the repeated waves of layoffs expedited his own departure from the newspaper, and how can you blame him or any of the reporters who decide to take the buyout and depart now.

Still, the newspaper landed on my porch this morning, with admirable reporting on a wide range of topics. That pretty much says it all about what we have and what we’ll lose.

“After serving with [Keyser] for a mere year in the legislature, it is still pretty clear he isn’t ready for prime time….”

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Rep. Justin Everett (R).

Rep. Justin Everett (R).

In its report on a Denver judge’s decision to allow U.S. Senate candidate Jon Keyser on the Republican primary ballot, after the Secretary of State had rejected his petitions, The Denver Post’s John Frank and Mark Matthews reported:

Once considered a favorite in the race, Keyser must now overcome other challenges that are injecting questions into this campaign not least among them, the fact he needed a court ruling to keep his campaign alive. [BigMedia emphasis]

It’s unclear just how much of a liability Keyser’s signature-gathering fiasco will be, but the reporters were correct to write that it raises questions–as yet unexplored in detail by journalists–about whether Keyser’s short stint on the campaign trail and in public service has shown him to be competent not only to run a campaign but to be an effective U.S. Senator, to replace Democrat Michael Bennet.

Keyser’s Republican colleague in the Colorado State House, Rep. Justin Everett of Littleton, jumped on Facebook last week to write that Keyser “isn’t ready for prime time,” as evidenced by Keyer’s fundraing troubles, problematic petitions, and other bungles.

Everett: Not to say he won’t cure, suers gonna sue. But what’s interesting here is how close he was in Congressional District 1 (20 signatures), in heavily Republican CD5 (a mere 76 signatures), and CD 6 (75 signatures). If another candidate were to contest the validity of those Congressional Districts, he may be deemed insufficient in other areas. Not to mention his announcement claim that he had $3 million pledged to his campaign but only raised $200K, while contributing $100K of his own money. After serving with him for a mere year in the legislature, it is still pretty clear he isn’t ready for prime time…

“After serving with [Keyser] for a mere year in the legislature, it is still pretty clear he isn’t ready for prime time….”

If you couple that statement with the campaign lapses, you have a bunch of unanswered questions about Keyser’s basic competency that need to be addressed by reporters as the campiagn gears up.

Weekend Open Thread

“Next to a battle lost, the greatest misery is a battle gained.”

–Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington

Colorado Pols Q&A: The State of the GOP Senate Race

UPDATE 5:00PM: Stay granted, GOP U.S. Senate primary screeches to a halt:

Release from Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams (R):

Two Senate candidates, Colorado Springs businessman Robert Blaha and former Aurora City Councilman Ryan Frazier, sought the delay after they were notified Thursday they hadn’t collected enough signatures from Republican voters to make the June 28 ballot.

Their campaigns were holed up in a Secretary of State’s office conference room today, poring over their ballot petitions as they prepare to file protests, likely on Monday…

The Secretary of State’s office will certify today to the county clerks the candidates for other races, such as state House, state Senate and district attorney. Clerks will be instructed to leave a blank space for the Senate candidates and will be notified as soon as possible when the Secretary of State’s office has a complete list of GOP hopefuls.

—–

UPDATE 4:15PM: Ryan Frazier and Robert Blaha file for an injunction to prevent the finalization of the primary ballot:

This afternoon in Denver District Court, the Blaha for Colorado and Frazier for Colorado campaigns filed a joint petition seeking to enjoin the Secretary of State from setting the Republican US Senate ballot today as per the statutory deadline.

“I feel confident that this step will lead us to a positive outcome for our campaigns and for Colorado voters.The thousands of individuals that desire to see us on the ballot should be recognized and affirmed. I look forward to the real race once the ballot is set,” said Robert Blaha, who is represented by Michael Francisco of MRD Law.

“By taking this action today, I’m standing up for the thousands of voters that signed our petitions because their voice should count too. We are requesting the Secretary of State give our respective teams the time, allowed under law, to correct their action. I do so because we are confident we have more than enough validated signatures from real Colorado voters who want to have a choice in June.” Frazier is represented by Scott Gessler and Geoff Blue.

With this joint action, both Blaha and Frazier preserve their rights to file separate lawsuits challenging the insufficiency determination made by the Secretary of State’s office.

—–

Today is the official deadline for the Colorado Secretary of State’s office to finalize the names that will appear on the June 28th Primary ballot, but with so many last-minute decisions about ballot access, it wouldn’t be a surprise if a legal motion delays that process.

To help you understand what is happening in the Republican Senate race, and what to expect next, we put together a nice little Q&A with ourselves. Enjoy:

Jack Graham (L) and Darryl Glenn

Jack Graham and Darryl Glenn

Q: The Republican field of candidates for U.S. Senate once included 13 different names. How many candidates will ultimately end up on the ballot for the June 28th Primary?

A: As of now, there are three candidates on the ballot: El Paso County Commissioner Darryl Glenn, former Colorado State University Athletic Director Jack Graham, and former half-term legislator Jon Keyser. Robert Blaha and Ryan Frazier learned from the Secretary of State’s (SOS) office on Thursday that they had failed to submit enough valid signatures for ballot access; Frazier is pursuing legal action and has hired former Secretary of State Scott Gessler as his legal representative, while Blaha has yet to announce whether or not he will challenge the SOS ruling.

 

Q: It was announced this morning that Keyser has successfully appealed his case and will be placed on the Primary ballot after all. What does this mean for Blaha and Frazier?

A: That’s a difficult question to answer when there is very little precedent here; prior to 2012, Colorado held its Primary elections in August, which left plenty of time to figure this out before ballots were finalized. Because Primary ballots are supposed to be completed by the SOS office today, Blaha and/or Frazier probably need to file some sort of injunction to stop that process from happening. We’d be surprised if there were no injunction filed today; Frazier hired Gessler to help him challenge the petition decision and seems to be fairly confident about his chances from what he has said publicly.

There are a lot of directions this could go from a legal standpoint, but it stands to reason that both Frazier and Blaha would benefit from the ruling in Keyser’s case. None of these three candidates submitted enough petition signatures to give them wiggle room if there were any problems – only Jack Graham was wise enough to turn in double the required amount of signatures – so if a judge is inclined to let Keyser on the ballot anyway, it would seem to create an opening for Frazier and Blaha to get the same shoulder shrug from a Denver judge.

 

Q: Is Keyser the frontrunner to win the Senate nomination?

A: Are you kidding? Of course not. Keyser supporters are celebrating their legal ruling as though his campaign accomplished something significant. In truth, Keyser did only what he was supposed to do: He made the ballot, and he had to file a lawsuit to do it. By failing to initially make the ballot, Keyser picked up more media coverage than he has had for his entire campaign – but all of it was bad. He now must convince potential Republican donors that his campaign is not already dead, despite what they may have seen or read earlier this week. That’s not a position of strength by any means, especially for a candidate who was already struggling to raise enough money just to keep the lights on.

 

Q: Okay, so if it’s not Keyser, then who is the frontrunner for the GOP nomination?

A: That’s an easier question: It’s the two candidates who didn’t have to spend the last week wondering if they were even going to be on the ballot in June. Colorado Republicans are going to be receiving their Primary ballots in the mail in 5-6 weeks, which isn’t much time for a bunch of unknown candidates to raise their name ID. Only Graham and Glenn have been able to campaign as full-fledged candidates for the last week or two, and both have a sizable advantage so long as they have the resources to run a solid campaign.

A low-information, low-turnout Primary certainly benefits Glenn, the man whose name will appear at the top of the ballot thanks to his victory at the Republican State Convention on April 9. But if we had to pick one name to be the favorite right now, it would be Graham; as of today, he is literally the ONLY Republican candidate whose name is on the ballot and has demonstrated an ability to generate significant campaign funds.

Get More Smarter on Friday (April 29)

GetMoreSmarter-SnowHow do the Broncos replace 6’7″ QB Brock Osweiler? No problem — just draft another humongous quarterback in Paxton Lynch. 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…

► In. Out. Off. On. The Republican race for the U.S. Senate nomination in Colorado has been crazier than Ted Cruz in gym class. Darryl Glenn and Jack Graham were officially on the Primary ballot as of yesterday, and today, Jon Keyser managed to convince a judge to let him on the ballot as wellRobert Blaha and Ryan Frazier are not on the Primary ballot — not right now, anyway — but Frazier has already hired former Secretary of State Scott Gessler to assist him in the legal department.

Confused? Then check out this Colorado Pols Q&A on the State of the GOP Senate Race.

 

► Remember that so-called “alliance” announced last Sunday by Ted Cruz and John Kasich as part of a coordinated effort to stop Donald Trump from winning the GOP nomination for President? Yeah? Well, that’s over now. This “alliance” didn’t just fail spectacularly; as the Washington Post reports, it actually backfired:

The agreement, and the way it was announced, has fed perfectly into Trump’s argument that party bosses are trying to rig the system to steal the nomination from him. Many supporters of Cruz and Kasich do not like the other, and  the deal rubs them the wrong way.

 

► We wish we could say, “At Least He’s Not Your District Attorney,” because, well, he might be. Democrat Bruce Brown is the District Attorney in the 5th Judicial District (Clear Creek, Eagle, Lake, and Summit counties) and is running for re-election in 2016. Apparently Brown took 6.5 weeks of paid vacation in 2015 alone. In a follow up with reporters, Brown made sure to go heavy on the stupid:

“I don’t answer to anybody within the office,” he said. “The reason why I take time off is because I’m a public servant, and I’m not a public slave.”…

…Employees in Brown’s district can accrue up to 22 vacation days each year if they’ve been on the job at least 10 years. But Brown said the taxpayers didn’t elect him to be present. They elected him, he said, to oversee an efficient and responsive office, which includes monitoring and mentoring 13 deputy district attorneys.

“Brown said the taxpayers didn’t elect him to be present.” All this vacation time must have turned Brown’s political brain into meatloaf.

 

Get even more smarter after the jump…

(more…)

Senate GOP Kicks Rural Colorado When Its Down

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Its not news that Colorado’s economic recovery has been uneven.  As the Front Range booms much of the Western Slope has been left behind. Consider this article from the Daily Sentinel, today:

Colorado’s population rate ranked as the nation’s second-fastest in growth in 2014 and 2015, with most of the increases on the Front Range. While the state saw an increase of 101,000 people, most of those people located or were born on the Front Range.

The Front Range’s explosive population growth may not be news to some people, but Mesa County also experienced a modest growth rate of 3 percent, or 456 people, during that time.

That’s important to note because some counties in the state, like Delta County, experienced a population loss those years, said Elizabeth Garner, a demographer for the Colorado Department of Local Affairs.

And while the article works to put a good spin on that disparity (500 people!) the conclusion is unavoidable, communities in western Colorado that have long been linked to extractive industries are struggling.

For instance, this happened today.

 

 

The silo at Oxbow’s Elk Creek mine, which sat above the former ‘company town’ of Somerset came down.

Although the Oxbow mine was shuttered due to a mine fire (and not due to Democrats as much as some fossil fuel advocates claim otherwise) when it comes to coal the writing is on the wall. And natural gas and oil prices remain depressed. By fits and starts the era of fossil fuels is making way for something different.

This is certainly true in Colorado, where even conservative counties are realizing the key to future economic prosperity is diversifying the economy, not doubling down on the ways of the last century.

So it was rather upsetting, if not altogether surprising, when the Republicans in the Colorado Senate killed, for a second time, a widely supported bill (SB 81) put forward by Sen. Kerry Donovan to aid struggling rural economies with the transition that even they have come to realize is underway.

Why did they kill the bill? According to Sen. Ray Scott because “grants don’t create jobs, people do.”

(more…)

Loan Shark Liability: Dems Take Aim at Larry Crowder

Sen. Larry Crowder.

Sen. Larry Crowder.

A press release yesterday from the Democratic Senate Campaign Fund calls out Sen. Larry Crowder, in a hot race against Democratic Las Animas County Sheriff Jim Casias, for his support of Senate Bill 16-185: the bill that passed the Senate this week on a party-line vote to jack up interest rates on subprime personal loans.

“In a session in which helping working people should be the focus, my opponent is co-sponsoring a bill that would enlarge profits for the wealthy at the expense of the working class. We need to be looking at how to reward people who work hard and play by the rules, not giving big breaks to Denver special interests at the expense of working people.” said Jim Casias, Candidate for Senate District 35.

Crowder’s senate district has struggled to regain footing since the Great Recession and many people in his district have taken note. During his first-term, Crowder has voted to gut retirement benefits for teachers, state patrol, correctional officers, and other public employees (SB15-80) while voting to give a pay raise for politicians like himself (HB15-1256). Additionally, he has been under fire for voting down a rural economic bill that would bring broadband Internet to rural districts like his (15’ Cow Budget #34).

District 35 resident Paula Lucero said, “I don’t see how helping loan sharks benefits our district. Who is putting Larry Crowder up to this and what is he getting out of it?”

…Non-partisan experts on local and state economy and finance, including AARP Colorado, Colorado Fiscal Institute, and Colorado Center for Law and Policy, testified that the measure is a solution in search of a problem. The bill would allow interest rates up to 36% for loans.

However ingratiating lobbyists for subprime personal lenders may be, the fact is that the industry does not have a good reputation among voters–especially voters in economically challenged areas like the sprawling southern Colorado district Crowder represents. Especially after every Democrat in the Colorado Senate held firm in voting no on Senate Bill 16-185, this is an issue that can be capitalized on to good effect in the upcoming elections.

sb185sponsors

And it won’t just be Crowder. Ahead of final passage, several Republican Senators added themselves as co-sponsors, including at least two in targeted races this year–Randy Baumgardner and Jack Tate.

We expect to see all of them in shark suits this fall.

Yes, Republicans Are Definitely Blowing Their Senate Chances in Colorado

The Colorado Republican field of U.S. Senate candidates, in a nutshell.

The Colorado Republican field of U.S. Senate candidates, in a nutshell.

UPDATE: Per Lynn Bartels of the Secretary of State’s office, Jon Keyser has apparently won his legal challenge and will be allowed on the June 28th Primary ballot.

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Amber Phillips of the Washington Post pens a long story today with the headline: “Are Republicans blowing their chance in the Colorado Senate race?”

Why, yes, as a matter of fact, they are. We’ll get into a bit more of our own analysis in a moment, but first, a few highlights from the Post story:

The past few months have brought on a slew of recruiting and campaign troubles for Republicans. They struggled to find an experienced and reputable candidate to take on Bennet. Now they’re trudging through a crowded nominating process with no obvious standout hopeful. And this week, the establishment’s preferred candidate — to the extent there is one — failed to qualify to be on the GOP primary ballot. So did two other candidates.

Senate Republicans’ campaign arm also hasn’t reserved airtime in Colorado for the fall, which some took as a sign they might just take a pass on the race altogether. (Senate Republicans caution against reading too much into that.) Taken altogether, Republicans’ missteps have given Bennet some much-needed breathing room in a race that his campaign perhaps rightly expected to be much more competitive than it is now…

…Like we said, it’s still too early to tell whether Republicans’ missteps have permanently altered the race. But for now, it seems like the Colorado Senate race is a lot less competitive than we thought it would be.

As of this writing, only two Republican candidates for U.S. Senate have actually made the ballot: El Paso County Commissioner Darryl Glenn and former Colorado State University Athletic Director Jack GrahamJon Keyser is still waiting to hear from a Denver judge regarding his legal challenge of the Secretary of State’s ruling that he failed to submit enough valid petition signatures. Ryan Frazier is vowing the same legal fight and has hired former Secretary of State Scott Gessler as his legal representative. Robert Blaha has not yet indicated whether he will seek a legal remedy for his own failure to make the ballot, but he has been all over talk radio this morning and we can’t imagine that he would have come this far in the race to give up now.