We’re On A Bigger Badder Server Now, Really

Our site was bedeviled by technical problems yesterday, caused by a combination of heavy election-year traffic and a new but underconfigured server we migrated to this past weekend. Over the last few months, we have strained the capacity of the low-cost shared hosting environment the site lived in, which necessitated the major upgrade performed this weekend.

Yesterday, while our faithful readers were cursing at us as our site loaded at a glacial pace (if at all), our technical people were slaving away doing all of the things to make WordPress not just run, but run right on this new quad-core dedicated server. We've been assured that this server overall is vastly better suited to the traffic loads we routinely get during election season, and we're even more beefed up now by "caching" technology at both the server and WordPress level. With any luck, the performance problems we've been having recently won't recur.

Hopefully we've explained this all correctly, since we'll be the first to confess we're just bloggers; not technical experts. If you encounter any trouble using the site, please send a message to alva@coloradopols.com and we'll get the experts on it.

Friday Open Thread

"To be suspicious is not a fault. To be suspicious all the time without coming to a conclusion is the defect."

–Lu Xun

SurveyUSA/Denver Post: Hickenlooper 45%, Beauprez 43%

Bob Beauprez would like for you to just take a nap for a few months.

Bob Beauprez would like for you to just take a nap for a few months.

This morning the Denver Post released results from polling partner SurveyUSA on the U.S. Senate race, and this afternoon they released information about their poll of the Governor contest. As reporter Jon Murray explains for the Post:

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper's race against Republican Bob Beauprez was too close to call in a new Denver Post poll in which voters indicated they were still getting familiar with the challenger.

Forty-five percent supported Hickenlooper and 43 percent supported Beauprez among likely voters polled this week by SurveyUSA. The result is within the margin of error of plus or minus 3.9 percent.

We'll admit that it is a bit surprising to see Republican Bob Beauprez polling so close to Gov. John Hickenlooper. When Beauprez last ran for Governor in 2006, polling at this point in the race showed that he was already trailing Democrat Bill Ritter by double-digits in a race he went on to lose by a staggering 17-point margin. Beauprez isn't yet in the same kind of trouble in 2014, but when you dig a little deeper into the poll results, the upside isn't as bright for Both Ways Bob. Again, from the Post

Beauprez's figures had a positive spread: 38 percent favorable to 34 percent unfavorable.

But 28 percent said they needed to know more about Beauprez, a former congressman who ran unsuccessfully for governor in 2006, to form an opinion. Only 7 percent had no opinion about Hickenlooper.

Beauprez is polling so close to Hickenlooper largely because of the Governor's own summer of self-inflicted political wounds. Beauprez has a 34% unfavorable rating — and 28% of voters still say they don't know enough about him to form an opinion — which makes it clear that this is all about Hickenlooper's (un)popularity at this point. Poll respondents aren't saying, "We want Beauprez" as much as they are declaring "We're not real happy with Hickenlooper." This is a significant difference, which is summed up well by one telling quote from a poll respondent:

"He doesn't have a very strong backing from me, other than he's done a pretty good job in creating jobs for Colorado," said Chris Delaney, 29, a Denver resident who told SurveyUSA he planned to vote for Hickenlooper despite disapproving of his performance [Pols emphasis]. "But that's not the only thing a governor's supposed to do. He just doesn't seem to represent my views and things that are important to me."

Plenty of voters may disapprove of Hickenlooper's performance as Governor, but that doesn't necessarily mean that they want to replace him with Beauprez. And that's where things remain difficult for Beauprez; he can't control his own destiny. Beauprez needs Hickenlooper to lose voter support before he can win the race for himself, and there just isn't enough time for both things to happen.

The amount of negative information floating around about Beauprez is, in a word, staggering. Keep that in mind as we go back to that 28% of poll respondents who say they don't know enough about Beauprez — it's unlikely that uninformed voters are going to be attracted to Beauprez as they learn more about him.

If that 28% remains uninformed — and a barrage of pro-Hickenlooper TV ads don't change the Governor's numbers — then Beauprez has a chance in November. Barring a two-month power outage in Colorado, we don't see how that can happen.

 

Pueblo Commissioner Candidate Believes Sandy Hook was a Hoax

Pols reader and diarist mamajama55 wrote earlier about debates for Pueblo County Commissioner last night that produced a plethora of interesting statements from various candidates.

But one moment in the debate was so completely ridiculous that we thought it deserved its own post. Republican Tom Ready, who is challenging incumbent Commissioner Sal Pace in Pueblo County, is apparently a believer in the absurd "Sandy Hook Shootings are a Hoax" conspiracy theory. If you are unfamiliar with this particular conspiracy theory, it revolves around the idea that the shooting of 20 students and 6 staff members at Sandy Hook Elementary school in Connecticut was a hoax perpetrated by shadowy government figures in order to promote gun control policies. As the "theory" goes, hundreds of people in Newtown, CT were actually actors pretending to have children in school at Sandy Hook, and the reported attack in December 2012 never actually happened…or something like that.

As you can see in the video clip after the jump, Tom Ready is out of his damn mind:

There's some question about whether it really happened, Sal. If you recall, there were two men, walking in, (….) he was smiling and joking. When he walked over, he turned, and all of a sudden, he had tears in his eyes. Why? I question it. ……whether it's all true or not, it's open for discussion. Nothing wrong with discussion.

Um, yes, there is plenty wrong with discussing something with the intent of downplaying a horrible event in American history that has deeply affected the lives of so many people. We think Tom Ready is a complete fucking asshole — hey, nothing wrong with discussion, right?

SurveyUSA/Denver Post: Udall 46%, Gardner 42%

Mark Udall, Cory Gardner.

Mark Udall, Cory Gardner.

New polling out today from SurveyUSA conducted for the Denver Post shows incumbent Sen. Mark Udall with a steady four-point lead over GOP challenger Cory Gardner. Lynn Bartels reports:

U.S. Sen. Mark Udall leads Republican challenger Cory Gardner by 4 percentage points in a new Denver Post poll that shows the Democratic incumbent is ahead among unaffiliated and female voters…

The race "could go either way" at this point, according to SurveyUSA, which conducted the poll this week for The Post. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.9 percentage points.

Udall received 46 percent support to Gardner's 42 percent in their high-stakes, high-dollar race that could determine which party controls the U.S. Senate after the Nov. 4 election.

The polling memo isn't available either at the Denver Post or SurveyUSA yet, but we'll provide a link once we see it. Udall's principal strength in this poll is no surprise, reports the Post, leading with women voters by some 13 points over Gardner. The poll indicates a much smaller lead for Udall among Hispanic voters, only showing him up by two points–a number we suspect is lowballed in Gardner's favor, or at least will be once the dust settles from President Barack Obama's recent announcement that no executive action on immigration would occur before the election. We tend to agree with analysis that suggests Obama's announcement, while upsetting to Hispanic voters, isn't enough to drive them into the arms of the GOP.

Bottom line: while nobody should get comfortable, this poll underscores a reassuring trend for Democrats in this marquee race.

We're headed down the stretch, and Mark Udall is holding his own.

Chick-fil-A cuts Colorado Woman’s hours and pay and demotes her after cancer surgery

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

The Good Christians who run Chick-fil-A couldn't have done any better?

 A Colorado breast cancer survivor said Chick-fil-A is cutting her insurance and demoting her just after she took leave for a double mastectomy.

To Daphne Richards, a newly-divorced mother with two children to support, Chick-fil-A's family-friendly values and healthcare coverage seemed like a perfect fit.

"I lived in Indiana my entire life, and I relocated for this job," said Richards. "I could move up the ladder, and the owner told me 'Maybe someday, you could own your own store."

She started late last year as shift manager at the Larkridge Chick-fil-A in Thornton. But in May, Richards got the diagnosis.

"I had double breast cancer in both breasts," she said. She would need a bilateral mastectomy and weeks to recover.

"For this company, when tragedy struck, they stepped up," said Frederick Schaefer, the attorney for Chick-fil-A at Larkridge. "Even though she didn't qualify for continuing benefits during her work hiatus under the Family Medical Leave Act, the store continued to pay for her health insurance coverage during her medical leave."

Just after she was cleared by her doctor to come back to work last week, though, she said the store owner delivered a shocking blow.

"She said,'I no longer have a full-time management position for you, and you will no longer be receiving healthcare benefits after September,'" said Richards. "She said something about reconstructing or reconfiguring the business."

Disgusting.

And just another example that those who profess to have some kind of higher purpose and better ideology can be as greedy and uncaring as the most bloodthirsty vulture capitalist. Granted, this may be a franchisee, but individual managers and franchise owners can not, and should not, be exempt from the corporation who truly owns the business model.

 

Personhood ties run deep in Jeffco GOP campaigns

(Dance with the ones that bring ya – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Laura Waters Woods

Laura Waters Woods

I wrote last week about how senatorial candidate Cory Gardner’s support for Colorado's personhood abortion ban was part of his formula for winning the 2010 Republican caucus process, which was a big step to his being elected to Congress.

If you look at the State Senate races in Jeffco today, you see that the influence of key personhood backers persists, meaning that Gardner would likely face the same pressure to embrace personhood positions today as he did then. Gardner, of course, did not run in Jeffoco, but similar dynamics play out statewide.

The latest campaign finance reports reveal that Jeffco Republican candidates Tim Neville (SD-16), Laura Woods (SD-19), and Tony Sanchez (SD-22) all have notorious GOP strategic consultant Jon Hotaling on the payroll via his company, "Liberty Service Corporation.” Liberty Service Corporation was Sanchez's largest expenditure ($1,750) during the latest campaign-finance-reporting period and the second largest for Woods ($1,000) and Neville ($1,000).

Hotaling’s firm has worked over the years for Rep. Janak Joshi, gubernatorial candidate Tom Tancredo, and other personhood supporters, most notably for Colorado For Equal Rights, which ran the pro-personhood campaign, fronted by Kristi Burton, in 2008, according to campaign-finance reports. In 2008, Hotaling collected about $12,000 from Colorado For Equal Rights.

Tony Sanchez.

Tony Sanchez.

​So a major consultant for Personhood is deeply integrated into the campaigns of the three Republican senate candidates in Jeffco. Neville, Sanchez, and Woods all support personhood, as defined by Colorado Right to Life, based on their responses to its candidate survey this year.

Using what Republicans themselves called unethical tactics, Woods and Sanchez hammered their Republican primary opponents on the abortion issue during their primary campaigns against Lang Sais and Mario Nicolais.

In one flyer produced by "Colorado for Family Values," Nicolais was pictured next to Kermit Gosnell, a Philadelphia doctor convicted of murdering babies. The caption read: “Kermit Gosnell and his ‘House of Horrors’ abortion mill operated in secrecy for 17 years before his murderous crimes became infamous. Ask Mario why he won’t publicly defend the unborn? Call Mario…”

A search for Colorado for Family Values on the Secretary of State's website returns, "Decommissioning Colorado for Family Values," which was previously called "Colorado for Family Values." Its agent is Mark Hotaling, Jon's brother. No expenditures are listed, apparently indicating a campaign-finance violation, like the one that prompted a complaint Tuesday by Colorado Ethics Watch against Colorado Campaign for Life and Rocky Mountain Gun Owners.

The bulk mail permit (#255) used for 2014 mailers against Sais by the Christian Coalition of Colorado, a staunch anti-abortion group previously directed by both Jon and his brother Mark Hotaling, is identical to the bulk mail permit number used by Colorado for Family Values for Gosnell mailers against Nicolais.

(Click here to see the Christian Coalition of Colorado mailer using bulk permit #255 and the Colorado for Family Values mailer using bulk permit #255.)

pile of accusations point to Hotaling as using similar mailers and messaging to destroy his past opponents, Republicans or Democrats.

Tim Neville.

Tim Neville.

​For example, Hotaling was accused of orchestrating dirty tricks in support of Rep. Doug Lamborn’s primary victory in 2006 over talk-show host Jeff Crank and CO Springs Mayor Lionel Rivera. In that race, a mailer linked to Hotaling and his brother accused the ultra-conservative Crank and Rivera, of supporting the "homosexual agenda." And you can imagine how that was received by Colorado Springs Republicans. On his KVOR radio show, Crank still talks bitterly about the race.

The mailed advertisement against Crank came from the Christian Coalition of Colorado, directed at the time by Jon Hotaling's brother Mark, who'd just taken over the organization from brother Jon, who'd left to run Lamborn's campaign.

Hotaling, who was once Marilyn Musgrave's campaign manager, has been investigated by the Federal Election Commission (See graphic on page 9.).

I didn't receive a response to phone and/or email messages offering Jon and Mark Hotaling, Sanchez, Woods, and Neville a chance to respond to the issues raised in this blog post.

I’m not saying all personhood backers are anything like Jon Hotaling.

My point in this short blog post, and there’s more where this came from, is that the personhood pressure, in its various forms, faced by Gardner as he worked his way to power, is still very much alive within Colorado’s GOP, even in Jeffco, one of the entire country's most critical swing counties.

Throwback Thursday: Jon Caldara and the Flood

One year ago today, the state of Colorado was besieged by massive flooding that impacted the Front Range after several weather fronts converged and trapped moisture over the area. Mountain towns were cut off from civilization as roads and bridges failed, forcing an historic helicopter airlift to evacuate stranded residents. After inundating most of the Front Range, floodwaters made their way out across the Eastern Plains, doing tremendous further damage to low-lying areas, infrastructure, and oil and gas drilling sites in Weld County.

As the drama of the 2013 Colorado floods played out, Boulder resident and Independence Institute head Jon Caldara had his own problems. Caldara had made headlines just before the floods when he registered as a Colorado Springs resident in order to vote in the SD-11 recall election. Caldara did this to make a supposed point about the new same-day voter registration law, part of election modernization legislation passed by the Democratic-led General Assembly that year. Far from demonstrating ease of voter fraud, however, Caldara had come up with an elaborate ruse to "prove" Colorado Springs residency, including a lease of a room in ex-GOP Rep. Mark Barker's house. It was clear from the start that Caldara did not and never intended to live in Colorado Springs, but his elaborate preparations for the stunt–which would make it prohibitively difficult to replicate–helped Caldara escape prosecution.

Without a doubt the 2013 floods were a tragedy, and even today political battles that invoke them are controversial. With that said, every time we hear an accusation that the floods are being "politicized," which we've heard a lot recently as the related issues of the flood and subsequent shutdown of the federal government have come up in the U.S. Senate race, our first thought is of Jon Caldara. And this is why:

Via his friend Wayne Laugesen of the Colorado Springs Gazette, Caldara invoked the floods as the "reason" why he was not moving to Colorado Springs to live in Mark Barker's guest bedroom. It was obvious a year ago this weekend, when we originally posted this item, that Caldara had never intended to live in Colorado Springs. But at the time of last year's floods, the investigation of Caldara for vote fraud was well underway. Although Caldara makes no pretenses now that he's not under investigation, at the time, this might well have fit into a legal strategy should he have needed to maintain his original pretense in court.

Really, folks, if you're in this guy's fan club, don't ever complain about "politicizing the floods" again.

Truthers, Lies, and Clear Choices: Commissioner and Clerk Debates in Pueblo

UPDATE: The story of how Sal Pace outed Tom Ready as a conspiracy nut, who believes that the Sandy Hook school shootings never happened, has gone national, but you saw it here first. Here is a link to video I took of Pace and Ready's remarks, with apologies for the poor quality.

The professional-quality video will be aired by Comcast Channel 19 Community Access TV according to this schedule, starting September 22. If you were smart enough to have thought of recording it, you've got it. But you won't have the priceless audience reactions.

The Commissioner debate began at 6:00 pm.

Steve Henson of Chieftain, moderator, says that there will be no questions from the audience. Only those previously submitted by readers of the Chieftain or Action22 will be asked of the candidates.

No heckling. It is not a rule he enforces against the Ready and Head supporters, who boo, catcall, etc. , pretty much unchallenged, as you will hear and see from the video.

The County Commissioner debate, between incumbent Commisioner Sal Pace, and Republican challenger Tom Ready,  was a very wonky and respectful debate, discussing tax policy, land use, water regulations, jobs and economic development. Sal Pace gave himself some well-deserved props for progress on the Southwest Chief proposal, and a new arts initiative in Pueblo. Ready declined to go after Sal Pace about Pueblo's current County Commissioner email "scandal", for which one Commissioner was fired. This reticence on Ready's part surprised me – but Sal Pace had nothing to do with the emails, so perhaps that explains it.

It was all good – up until the point when Tom went off the rails. He started off by accusing Sal Pace of personally raising utility rates on Pueblo Customers. Sal Pace was a party to the unfortunate agreement that ensconced Black Hills Energy as the town's monopoly customer-gouger, but didn't actually personally throw the switch.  Then Tom went into why coal is cleaner than natural gas, and it kind of went south from there. Sal, appropriately, responded that if Tom wanted to get negative, how about those Facebook posts about how Newtown shootings were a hoax?

Tom Ready is a genuine right wing extremist. When I was researching him yesterday, I ran across his writings about how Sharia law was encroaching and had to be fought back. I didn't see the Newtown post, but he sure vigorously defended his belief in it in front of the debate audience.  This makes Ready a Newtown Hoax "Truther" . Their central belief is that 20 kindergartners didn't die in Newtown – it was all a hoax to promote restrictive gun laws.

Tom Ready  has many postings on his Facebook timeline from a local group called the American Christian Patriot Association, which has all kinds of lovely ideas about immigrants, Michelle Obama, gay rights, Benghazi – you know the drill. I took screen shots of much of it, in case it gets scrubbed like the Newtown and Sharia posts.  So much for Mr. Ready contributing some "balance" to the County Commission.

The audience, by the way, after an initial stunned silence, booed Ready roundly – even those who enthusiastically cheered anything either Republican candidate said.. Ready got no love for the "Newtown might be a hoax" stuff. It looks like Pueblo may be making national news again. And we wonder why every insane idea in Colorado is credited to "Someone from Pueblo." 

County Clerk and Recorder Candidates: Gilbert "Bo" Ortiz (D) vs. Victor Head (R)

Video here.

The Clerk debate began at .7:00 pm.

Bo opening remarks:  Thanks to family, Action22. Honor to have served you as County Clerk and Councilman for the past 10 years.  Reminds people that he also has a role as archivist ( the Recorder part of the job)  – every public document (marriage, birth, death, property deeds, etc) must be archived and kept from deterioration.  Then there is the Motor Vehicle Department part of the Clerk & Recorder job. But the most sacred part of the job is to preserve the right to vote. Ensure accessibility for all citizens of whatever political affiliation. Open, honest, verified elections.

 

7:04: Victor Head. Born and raised in Pueblo, dad ill with cancer, came back to Pueblo to take care of the family business. Then the recall happened. (wild applause). "I saw rights threatened, someone needed to be a voice for Pueblo in a non-partisan way."  I have no political ties. ??  I am a “clean slate”.  My political experience has been running the recall. I'm not a career politician, clean slate. Bla bla

 

Discussion of civil marriage licenses:

Question from the chieftain clerks role in issuing same sex marriage licenses. Bo explained why he issued them (Colorado’s ban against same-sex marriage had been found unconstitutional by a Federal court) and why he stopped issuing them (threatened w legal action by AG Suthers, so not worth putting Pueblo through expense and hassle)

 

Victor is very confused. Thinks that this is a “posse comitatus” situation where you  have federal overreach over local control. Bizarre. Bo calls him on it. “My opponent is confused”. I didn't get this particular exchange on video (technical difficulties)

Gypsy Voters AGAIN

Victor: OMG the Gypsy voters are coming! Still putting out the idea that someone can come in from out of town, register, and vote the same day with no consequences. This is not the law.  There shall be no gypsy votercalypse. Just sleazy old Jon Caldara, who has the attorneys on call to get him out of any election fraud charges.

Discussion of Motor vehicle Department problems:

 Victor Head promotes several ideas that he thinks will streamline the Motor Vehicle Department, most of which are prohibitively expensive (particularly since he doesn’t want to raise taxes or fees), or have already been implemented (online vehicle registration).

Victor accuses of partisanship in motor vehicle customer service.  Says  that “Some people” are discriminated against with license renewals, implies that this is partisan.

Bo says to Victor that he just insulted all the motor vehicle people, in the office, so if he does get elected,  good luck working with that crew. “Last I heard, you don’t have to wear a D or an R on your shirt to renew your license”.

Pueblo County is in the 98th percentile of efficient motor vehicle departments, with very few errors or corrections.

Victor no no I’m not doubting them. I’m doubting the leadership. Etc

I thought I saw some puffs of steam around Bo's head at that point, but he kept his cool, and rebutted Victor's claim with more facts and evidence about the efficiency of the Pueblo MVD.  Then the debate was over except for closing statements.

So basically, Victor Head just trotted out his usual lies – there is rampant voter fraud, only he can cure it with his “clean slate”, he has ideas to fix any problems at the MVD,  because they’re all a bunch of partisan Democrats who hate your guns.

Bo Ortiz handily shot all of Victor’s evidence-free claims of fraud, partisanship, and incompetence down with numbers, facts, and common sense.

Beyond partisan labels, voters watching these debates see a clear choice between candidates who distort the truth and make unproven claims, and those who are based in the real, fact-based world. As it happens, for these two races, the realists are Democrats.

Cosmo Endorses Mark Udall, Thanks to Personhood

Cory Gardner's Personhood twist

Cory Gardner does the Personhood Pretzel.

"Cosmopolitan" magazine on Tuesday announced that the magazine is endorsing Democratic Sen. Mark Udall for re-election to the U.S. Senate instead of Republican challenger Cory Gardner. The editors of Cosmo write that "Colorado's Senate race is crucial for women's health:"

One of the most important races for women's rights is happening in Colorado this year, between Senate incumbent Mark Udall and challenger Rep. Cory Gardner. Colorado is ground zero for anti-choice "personhood" laws, which seek to define fertilized eggs only a few cells large as people with rights equal to, and sometimes greater than, those of actual, born people. The laws wouldn't just outlaw abortion, but many forms of birth control and fertility treatments as well. While personhood initiatives have failed twice in Colorado and Gardner claims his views have changed, his name still appears on a proposed federal personhood law, [Pols emphasis] and even the president of Personhood USA says Gardner is just "playing politics" in this election, because he has "built his entire political career on support of personhood."…

…Mark Udall is a leader who stands up for Coloradans' rights and their health, not a reactionary who puts the rights of a fertilized egg over the rights of women. We are proud to endorse his candidacy.

This is the second time in two months that we have written about "Cosmopolitan" magazine and Colorado's Senate race. Critics can try to dismiss "Cosmopolitan's" endorsement and the effect it might have on the outcome of the race in November, but it's a stupid argument to attempt; Udall and his supporters will make sure that women see this endorsement, and in a state where female voters are critical, getting the approval of one of America's most iconic women's magazines is a big help indeed.

But here's the bigger point about this endorsement: Gardner's Personhood flip-flop is a mistake from which his campaign may never recover. One of the first major moves that Gardner made in his Senate campaign — which helped him earn the nickname "Con Man Cory" — was to publicly attempt to change his position on the Personhood issue. We thought this flip-flop was a terrible decision when Gardner made the move back in March, and as we sit here in mid-September, it is clear that he's never going to be able to get this particular albatross from around his neck. In fact, Gardner's own maneuvers on Personhood have done more to keep the issue at the top of voters' minds than anything Udall could have done himself. By flip-flopping on Personhood, Gardner made this into a bigger issue than it would have been.

If Gardner was never going to drop his name from a federal Personhood bill — of which he is a co-sponsor — then he should have just maintained his long-held support for the idea. It has not been lost on the media that Gardner remains a co-sponsor of the federal Personhood bill, even as he has made one ludicrous attempt after another to change the subject or to flat-out lie about it altogether. Gardner tried, for awhile, to claim that Colorado's Personhood ballot measures were different than the federal Personhood bill that carries his name, and when that didn't work, he changed tactics to just outright lying through his teeth. Witness 9News reporter Brandon Rittiman, who is not amused by Gardner's ridiculous claim last week that "there is no federal Personhood bill," or the Washington Post's Jaime Fuller, who wrote that Gardner "doesn't support his former self on this issue, either."

Over the course of his Senate campaign, the only thing that Gardner has truly shed in trying to ditch Personhood is his credibility — and that's a tough thing to get back once it's gone. After all, it's hard to support a candidate who doesn't support himself.

Udall Presses Attack On Gardner Over Floods, Shutdown

Image via Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-Golden)

Image via Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-Golden)

A press release from Sen. Mark Udall's campaign on their new TV spot hitting GOP challenger Cory Gardner over last year's shutdown of the federal government–which occurred just after major flooding along the Front Range of Colorado, requiring an emergency federal response. After several weeks of skirmishes on the issue, Udall takes the proverbial gloves off:

“Congressman Gardner would like us all to forget that he chose to shut down the government while thousands of Coloradans were struggling to put their lives back together after last year’s flood,” said Udall for Colorado spokesperson Kristin Lynch. “Gardner’s reckless shutdown delayed Colorado’s flood recovery and hurt our small businesses and local economies when they were at their most vulnerable. Congressman Gardner let us down when he decided to make a political point at the expense of Colorado flood victims.”

Despite Colorado’s clear need for disaster assistance from the federal government, Gardner voted along with Sen. Ted Cruz and the Tea Party to shut down the government just to prove a political point about the health care law. This delayed our flood recovery and forced Colorado to pick up the tab for National Guard personnel who were performing essential flood recovery work.

But Gardner’s reckless move hurt more than just flood victims. As the government shutdown continued for weeks and 40,000 Coloradans were furloughed, middle class families across the state felt the effect of Gardner’s shutdown on their pocketbooks. Shuttered national parks robbed small businesses of the tourism they depend on, veterans’ disability claims were delayed, and 2 million acres of public lands were closed to sportsmen from around the country during the busy fall season.

There are two parts to the story of the shutdown of the federal government in terms of consequences for Coloradans digging out from the massive floods that hit the Front Range just about exactly one year ago. First and most obvious is the delay in federal response to the flooding, which included delays in National Guard response from neighboring states. The second consequence was the effect the shutdown of Colorado's national parks and monuments had on local communities dependent on tourism. Estes Park, the gateway town to Rocky Mountain National Park, had already seen bookings cut by 50 percent after the floods, and the closure of the park drained millions more from the local economy.

Still another issue is the blowback against Colorado as a whole from East Coast politicians in both parties, including New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who branded Gardner a "hypocrite" for seeking disaster relief money for Colorado after voting against the second Hurricane Sandy relief bill. It was negotiations by Sen. Udall and Sen. Michael Bennet that were able in the end to mollify New Jersey's anger and secure the relief funds needed.

The harm done to Colorado by the post-flooding shutdown of the federal government is a matter of record. With that established, the question becomes, who was responsible for the shutdown? This is a point that Republicans refuse to concede a year later, even though the public overwhelmingly blamed the GOP in contemporary polling for forcing the shutdown in an effort to defund the Affordable Care Act. In the months since the shutdown, Republicans hoped to mitigate their culpability in that unpopular action by mercilessly attacking Obamacare–a strategy that is increasingly a failure as Obamacare continues to produce positive outcomes and the health insurance marketplace's startup problems fade from memory.

It's important to remember that until the polls started clearly showing that the GOP had lost the battle for public support, Gardner and the rest of the Colorado GOP delegation were solid backers of the confrontational strategy that ended in the shutdown. The AP's Nick Riccardi cut through the spin last month:

Gardner spokesman Alex Siciliano contended that congressman never supported the shutdown. However, Gardner, who is close to House Republican leadership, voted with other House Republicans to shoot down Democratic efforts to reopen government and for spending bills designed to be rejected by the U.S. Senate during the 16-day standoff. [Pols emphasis]

Gardner may not have been the most enthusiastic Republican as the shutdown loomed just before the beginning of October last year, perhaps sensing the danger–but the record is full of examples of Gardner defending the overall strategy. And as Riccardi notes, none of Gardner's supposed trepidation before the shutdown manifested in the form of votes.

With all of this in mind, it will be up to Colorado voters to decide whether the shutdown, and Gardner's role as a House Republican in causing it, are deciding factors in the 2014 U.S. Senate race. But what's not up for debate, as the polls demonstrate, is that the shutdown has gone down in history as a Republican gambit that failed. The old saying is that success has a thousand fathers, but failure is an orphan. Had the shutdown succeeded in forcing concessions from the President over Obamacare, Gardner would almost certainly be singing a different tune. But it didn't succeed. It was a disaster–in Colorado a disaster compounded on another.

And Gardner, whether he likes it or not, was on the wrong side.

Colorado’s 1,000 Year Storm: a Call to Climate Action

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

As Colorado marks the one-year anniversary of the 1,000-year rainstorm that affected much of the Front Range, NextGen Climate CO is urging voters this November to support candidates who will act on climate issues. The record-breaking rainfall led to a 100-year flood that caused more than $2 billion in damages to homes, businesses and roadways from Fort Collins down to Colorado Springs.

“From more intense wildfires to record-breaking rainfall, Coloradans are being hit hard by the extreme weather events made worse by climate change,” said Abby Leeper, spokesperson for NextGen Climate Colorado. “The recovery and progress made since last year’s tragedy is a true testament to Coloradans’ resilience, but we must elect leaders with proactive stances on this issue. We can no longer afford to sit by and allow climate-science deniers, backed by Big Oil, to stall action.”

In Colorado, the impacts of climate change are already being felt.

Recent studies have linked extreme rainfall, like Colorado saw last September, to our changing climate. Rising temperatures are also fueling more intense drought and devastating wildfires. According to the National Climate Assessment, climate change could lead to a doubling of burned area in the southern Rockies.

What’s more, Colorado’s annual temperatures have increased an average of two degrees Fahrenheit over the past 30 years, and could jump another 2.5-6.5 degrees by 2050. This change, while seemingly subtle, is one factor that has already impacted snowpack in the Rocky Mountains, which is now melting up to four weeks earlier than in the past. Less snowpack has resulted in long periods of low river levels, dry soil and necessary water use restrictions during the summer months.

One way Coloradans can make a difference is to take the issue of climate to the polls this November. Sign up below for more information on how you can join NextGen Climate Colorado and commit to fight climate change with your vote this November.

https://co.nextgenclimate.org/pledge